Random thoughts…

Does anyone with an IQ north of 100 use Twitter?

Kim Jong Un really is smarter than Donald Trump. And probably less narcissistic, too.

Remember when Chris Christie was actually someone?

Hollywood actresses should remember to look in their mirrors before they hit the red carpet. And pay attention to the silliness they see.

Wonder which one will show up first: Hillary Clinton or Jimmy Hoffa?

Best Christmas gift: a cheese-of-the-month subscription.

Has there ever been a group of presidential cabinet nominees more intellectually inept and ethically challenged than this one?

Can you spell “two-faced, shallow hypocrite”? It’s easy: “Mitch McConnell.”

Now we know Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly is a sexual predator. What is it with Fox News? It seems all those men are as creepy in their private lives as they are in public.

Poor North Carolina

Is there a stupider state these days than North Carolina? I say that with honest regret because I lived in the Tae Heel State for a few years when I was younger, and I’ve vacationed in the western mountains for many years. Not any more.

Ever since the lamentable “bathroom bill” was approved by a devious, yahoo Republican-controlled legislature, North Carolina has seemed ever more backward. Move aside Mississippi and Alabama, here come the Tar Heels. And now, with a Democratic governor coming into office, the Republicans are trying an 11th hour attempt to limit his powers.

Now, this isn’t altogether new in the state. I recall somewhat similar activities by the Democrats in the 1970s, but not with the obviousness and deliberate maliciousness of today’s Republicans. And they are ion a position to do that because they gerrymander the state a few years back to ensure their dominance. Because the federal courts say what they did is unconstitutional, it will be undone — but not before the GOp can get in its licks.

Republicans are also in power because they got elected by a lot of really stupid, venal voters. And those voters have succeeded din turning the state into a laughing stock. What a shame. There are many pockets of really bright, creative, concerned and capable people in North Carolina. They are all over: Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh and other towns and rural areas.

It makes me sick in their behalf. Frankly, North Carolina makes me sick right now. Alabama and Mississippi are looking a lot better these days.

Bah Humbug

There’s a lot that’s wrong these days. Our country is hurting. We have a President-elect who instead of trying to bring this bitterly divided nation together is continuing to spitefully celebrate his victory. There is little mention of unity in his words, mostly braggadocio and dissembling and instability.

His appointments to his cabinet have been grotesque. Men — nearly all wealthy white men, of course — have been proposed to run departments of government whose existence they are politically and philosophically opposed to the mere existence.

Ben Carson, for instance, who declared he was not up to running a government agency, has been no innate for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a task for which he is monumentally unsuited. Like many other nominees, he has no experience in government or in managing a gigantic governmental program. For Secretary of State, he has proposed Rex Tillerson (is that a real name?), an oil executive who is ultra-friendly with Vladimir Putin and who has no experience in government of governmental diplomacy.

Donald Trump’s admiration for Putin is alarming. Donald Trump’s disregard for intelligence about Putin is frightening. How safe is our nation if its leader is so lacking awareness? If our President is not capable of defending us against our adversaries, how dangerous is he?

Frankly, there has been almost nothing in his behavior and words since his election to reassure anyone of his competence or ability to oversee the American people. He continues to … well, let’s put it bluntly: lie. He makes statements that are by all evidence untrue. And insists they are true.

Many of us who voted against Trump hold hope that he may yet prove a competent President. In an ideal world, even better than that. But instead, we have only encouragement for his dabbling in the dark waters of racism, economic malfeasance, diplomatic ignorance and a litany of legitimate concerns for everyone from women to Muslims to immigrants to the poor.

I want this to be a happy Christmas. Donald Trump is doing everything possible to ensure that cannot happen.

Let’s Get On With It

By and large, Connecticut is a pretty progressive state, socially speaking. They are some sharp, thoughtful, and compassionate people at work here, and I have a suggestion for what two of their political targets should be: approving early voting and legalizing recreational marijuana.

More than two-thirds of the states have endorsed some form of early voting, a process that can make it easier for more people to cast ballots in major elections. And isn’t that our goal, ultimately? A fully informed electorate able to vote easily and quickly? (Ok, maybe I’m a tad optimistic about that informed electorate bit.)

But to cram all voting into one day — and yes, I know about absentee ballots, and that some people get them to avoid long lines at the polls — is ridiculous and diminishing of the voting process. Registrars don’t like it a lot, mostly because it means more work for them (who are paid by the taxpayers to do their jobs). that’s not a reason, that’s an excuse. Voting ought to be open at least two weeks prior to the election, which affords everyone time to sort out the issues and candidates.

It simply good sense and the right thing to do. A majority of voters who voiced opinions about this several years ago in Connecticut disapproved; I’m pretty sure that if it were put to a vote again, the results would be different. This is a matter the legislature can take care of, and should. Let’s get on with it; in this area, at least, Connecticut has fallen behind Georgia and a host of other states it shouldn’t.

As for marijuana, well, this one seems obvious. Massachusetts has joined a growing list of states which have approved marijuana for recreational use. so has Maine, and other New England states are almost certain to follow suit over the next decade. So let’s not wait.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy says he’s willing to re-examine the issue now that our neighbor to the north has endorsed it. And well he should, because if you don;t think a heck of a lot of Nutmeggers are going to slip across the border to buy their weed and bring it home, then perhaps you’ve been smoking too much.

Why give Massachusetts all the revenue? Why force our residents to do something illegal that is perfectly legal for our neighbors? Why not endorse common sense: study the use of recreational marijuana, decide on how to regulate and tax it, and then get on with it. Really.

Getcha’ Greens Here

An awful lot of Americans really are awfully crazy. And no, I’m not talking the ones who voted for Donald Trump. I’m referring to the ones who bought collard greens from Neiman Marcus.

If that sounds strange, consider this: in its annual provocative Christmas catalog, the expensive retailer offered, as one of more unusual seasonal gifts, three pounds of collards for sale. The price was a mere $66 plus nearly $16 to ship them, presumably to locations where agriculture is legally prohibited.

Just checking on this, I discovered that in these parts — which are nowhere around the southern parts where collards got their start — you can buy a pound of collards for about a dollar. One dollar. There way our family has always cooked them up, three pounds would make about five decent servings.

Now, here’s the thing. The Neiman Marcus offer was ridiculous in every way. But in fact it sold out. There were enough nutty people who were willing to fork over $82 for a few greens. Surely a lot of them must have voted for Trump, right?

Down south where I’m from — and where collards are from, too, although Neiman Marcus made no mention of the south in its advertising copy — people would probably just brush this aside as more evidence of clueless non-southerners. And they’d be right.

I’d enjoy seeing the reaction I’d get if I sauntered over to my local farmer’s market and offered one of the growers $66 for three pounds of greens. Being smart Yankees, I bet they’d take it in a skinny minute (or at least I would if given that offer).

And they’d probably then offer me some fresh greenhouse tomatoes, too, for only $45 a pound. There are most likely some folks around who’d take them up on it.

Wanna’ Get Away From It All?

In the wake of the presidential election results, some Americans are eager to explore their options — also known as run really fast — for moving to some other place on the planet. Preferably one that has legalized marijuana.

Which brings us to the matter of New England as a possible destination for those concerned citizens. And not to be too overtly political about it, but you may have noticed that the New England states voted blue in the election, so blue huggers would find a warm reception, although the warmth of the reception could depend a lot on how close you get to the wood stove in February.

But really, there are a lot of reasons to recommend New England. And there’s a lot to recommend Connecticut specifically. The Nutmeg State is one of the most beautiful anywhere. All those stone walls. And sparkling coastal water vistas and breathtaking hilltop views in the northwest. In between, of course, is Hartford, but you can’t have everything.

Actually, we love Hartford. And so did Mark Twain. And Harriet Beecher Stowe. And Katharine Hepburn. And those hearty founders — none of whom was named Hartford, by the way — who named the new place they founded “Newtown,” admittedly not a very original name but certainly one that made them feel comfy since they had arrived here after an arduous journey from a town then called — brace yourself — “Newtown.”

Anyhow, New England holds out so much promise for new arrivers these days. Think about lobsters. Think about winter skiing. Think about all that cheese in Vermont. And Bunker Hill. New Hampshire liquor prices. The Red Sox. Casinos. Legalized marijuana. P.T. Barnum. Really.

The list is almost endless.

I am part of a family who moved to Connecticut just recently, so I know a lot about this. We had some lengthy discussions about the state before deciding this was where we wanted to make our home. We made the decision for several important reasons:

It is pretty far away from Alabama;
It’s pretty close to Canada;
Lobsters and oysters;’
The Mark Twain Home;
Low taxes;
(Oops, #5 was my bad);
Our kids live here.

Granted, the latter may have been a tad more compelling than the others in our final decision. But no matter, the facts are that we are delighted to be here, even if we keep getting told that everyone else is trying to leave Connecticut.

New England is extraordinarily rich in history. Its people are warm and hospitable, unless you’re driving in Boston. The winter weather is a heck of a lot more bearable than the heat and humidity of southern summers. That Vermont cheese is really good. You never have to drive far to a Dunkin Donuts (heck, you never have to walk far). And did I mention legalized marijuana?

So I’m hoping that those folks around the country who now think about leaving might decide instead to take a good, hard look at New England. And Connecticut. You know, it might really work out.

Remember Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court?” The novel’s hero Hank Martin (played by Bing Crosby in the movie) wakes up and asks where he is.

“Bridgeport?” Said I.
“Camelot,” Said he.”

Could be.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s far from the happiest of Thanksgivings, to be sure. But here it is, so let’s press on.

All of us have a special obligation now: to work for the betterment of our democracy. I believe that entails two important steps: one is to work with the President-elect in the pursuit of policies that are important and good for the country. The second is to work with every bit of commitment to see that everyone — most especially the most vulnerable in society — are protected and encouraged during the next administration.

In other words, the policy of total obstruction as observed by the Republicans over the terms of Barack Obama, must not be the course followed by Democrats in 2017. The temptation is there, certainly, but it was a poor practice which undermined our government, and doing what those profoundly misguided Republicans did is not policy at all. It would be shameful, in fact.

We all owe it to our democracy to be participants, but never blindly so. Let us pick our battles. Do what it right and best no matter the source.

At least that’s the plan. I’m for it and will support those who are likewise committed. Let’s hope it turns out to be the great majority.

We Are Left Without Choices

The unthinkable happened. And it is a very dark and disturbing morning in America.

Donald Trump accomplished what many said he couldn’t, and many more hoped he wouldn’t. But he did win — he will be this nation’s 45th President — and now we have to begin figuring out what is next and how we can get along with a man we hoped we would never have to get along with. At stake is merely the future of American democracy, so the goal is hardly less important than the challenge of getting there.

It’s way too soon to collect the answers. We will wait and see how Donald Trump handles his triumph. His first responses have been at least somewhat encouraging in calls for unity and praise for the defeated Hillary Clinton. But will that stick? Is there more to Trump’s ideas and beliefs than we have been led to believe by the candidate’s own words?

Let’s us hope. And pray. Pray for some kind of end to the divisions that have become so awful. Pray that what we have been delivered will prove in some way worthy.

Tall tasks. Formidable tasks. But there is no other choice now.

A Shameful Newspaper

The last election campaign blog should have been written. But there remains one more thing to be said because it is so local. And that refers to the area’s daily newspaper, the Waterbury Republican American, edited by the William Pape family for generations.

They bottomed out over the weekend when they became one of a very, very tiny handful of newspapers in this country to endorse Donald Trump for President. Their endorsement affirmed their newspaper’s name: Republican first, American second. They concluded that “by no standard” is Hillary Clinton qualified for for the office she seeks. But Trump, on the other hand, even with “ignorance of policy” and “bizarre, juvenile remarks,” wins their endorsement.

There is more, but save yourself reading the editorial, so carelessly and thoughtlessly crafted, which suffers for its lack of integrity, honesty and even good writing. The Pape family is shamed by their actions promoting the menacing, tainted, ignorant and lie-filled Trump campaign, even at some occasions in their news coverage. If Trump cannot be trusted — which no one believes he can — neither can this poorly edited, inconsequential newspaper.

And finally — another reminder — please vote tomorrow. Let us help rescue our fragile American democracy from one of its greatest threats and decline the election of a misogynistic, race-baiting bully who lacks even a fundamental working knowledge of policy and practice.

Hillary for President.

The Last Election Post

So we come to the end of this endless and endlessly nauseating presidential campaign.

Donald Trump has ensured it would be the most despicable campaign in the memory of most of us with his mix of lies, name-calling, massive ignorance and ego tantrums. This man who wants to be President of the United States is keeping his tax information secret (though we know he has almost certainly lied about his worth and used information which has led to IRS audits). He is defiantly asserting his right to sexually assault women. He has denounced and mocked Medal of Honor winners, the disabled, veterans, minorities. He has lied about donating money to charities. He has failed to present coherent ideas to confront major foreign and domestic issues. He has lowered discourse below the level of the sewer.

And that hardly does more than sketch the garbage he as spewed throughout the campaign. There is no redeeming this man, and there can be no redemption for him. He is unqualified in every way — every way — to become our next President. As one of the late-night comedians put it, “Next Wednesday many of us will wake up to our new leader: Hillary Clinton, or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly a flawed candidate. But she is knowledgeable, intelligent, experienced and does not pose a threat to the existence of the American democracy. There is no question she is qualified to be President. And there can be no other choice for voters who are willing to think and look and reason and do anything but vote on the basis of their male gender, their white color and their rifle barrel.

It is time to do the right thing. The only thing. Vote for Hillary Clinton and send Donald “small hands” Trump back to try and rescue his faltering business empire. Please.