America Under Trump

 

Hang on, America. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Here’s what to expect with Donald Trump as President.

Racists Will Be Emboldened

Eight years ago when we elected the first Black President, there was reason to hope that racism was on the decline. Wrong. Sure, there were enough Americans to elect Obama, but what was hidden was that a significant portion of the population hated having a Black President and they’ve been seething with anger for eight years. When the Donald started his race-hating rhetoric, it turned them on. His continued racial slurs during the campaign, combined with his history of being the leader of the birther movement, strongly suggests Trump will set a racist agenda and the racists in the country will be encouraged to attack minorities.

Brandon Miles, Brandon Partin and Michael Miles cheer before Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida

Another indication that we will face a racist divide in the U.S. is the appointment of Steve Bannon, an avowed White Nationalist, to the top of Trump’s staff. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, also came from the Alt-Right.

A spike in racial attacks happened right after Trump was elected. Apparently, his followers couldn’t contain themselves any longer.

I live about ten miles from Springdale, Arkansas, which has a large population of Latinos. The day after the election, printed  deportation notices were being handed out to Mexican-American students at the high school by white students. Latino students were also being told they were going back to Mexico, even though many of them had never been to Mexico. The significant thing is that the election of Trump has allowed racial tensions previously just under the surface to emerge in all their ugliness.

Things Will Get Even Worse For the Middle and Lower Classes

I understand why many people are angry. For the past twenty years, business profits have been hogged up by the business owners, and almost nothing was shared with the workers. The price of nearly everything has risen, but wages have not kept up. The members of the middle and lower classes have been squeezed financially, and their lifestyle has suffered. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans did anything to protect workers. No wonder they are furious.

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But maybe the saddest thing about the election is this: Voters put in charge the very people who are most likely to continue this oppression. Billionaire Trump has benefited from the funneling of cash to the wealthy. His plan to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Ameridcans  will only make the situation worse. Also, his party, the Republicans, have blocked any increase in the minimum wage,  and Trump has said he supports that position. The moral is this. If you’re a chicken, don’t choose a champion from among the foxes.

Medical Costs Will Spiral Upward

Why, because when the Affordable Care Act is repealed and tens of millions of Americans have their health care taken away, what will they do when they’re sick? Show up at the hospital emergency ward for care. These are poor people, so many of them will not pay for the care they receive. The hospital will then pass on those costs to consumers, and medical costs will soar. Same old deal we had before. Trump’s promise of a “terrific” new health care proposal will turn out to be all hot air.

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Protests In the Streets

About half of all Americans didn’t vote. They no longer believe in the system. About one-fourth of Americans voted for Trump and about one-fourth voted for Clinton. The Clinton supporters are convinced Trump is dangerous and the country is in peril. Their only recourse is to hit the streets and send a warning that disaster looms. If Trump goes ahead with the things he promised, we may be entering a new era of continued protests, much like the protests during the civil rights era and during the Vietnam War. You can dismiss the protesters as a bunch of loud, rude rabble. But remember, it was protests in the streets that finally swayed the public against the Vietnam War. It only takes a  relatively small, vocal group to stage huge protests and there is plenty of anger to fuel their cause.

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Mass Deportations

Trump is backing off his campaign pledge to deport all  illegals, but now he says he’d like to deport two to three million “criminals.”  The logistics of rounding up and transporting millions of people back to their country of origin are staggering. One has to wonder if the only way Trump could do this would be to order the military into the purge creating an American gulag. Trump’s followers are going to expect him to do what he promised during the campaign.  Meanwhile, immigrants are going to surge into the U.S. to get in before Trump builds his promised wall.

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Unnecessary Wars

Every President since Jimmy Carter has sent U.S. soldiers into some country and Jimmy Carter was a one-term President. Flexing with the power of the U.S. military has been a popular move for nearly every President. In the best cases, loss of life has been minimal, as when troops went into places like Panama and Dominica. But other military incursions have been costly, both in lives and dollars. Bush the elder ordered the Persian Gulf War and Bush the younger started major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars cost an estimated one trillion dollars and combined with Republican tax cuts crashed the U.S. economy.

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Trump said he will quickly wipe out ISIS. The only way that seems likely is if a large American military force is sent into Syria and Iraq. Thousands could die in such a war. But it’s hard to imagine that a “strongman” like Trump wouldn’t use the military somewhere in some unnecessary war.

Reversal On Climate Change

Trump said climate change is a hoax created by and for the Chinese. Usually, new Presidents honor the treaty agreements made by their predecessor, but Trump has said he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. If the major powers fail to act soon to control climate change, it may become too late, and the planet will go into a  unstoppable death spiral. Maybe not, but is the death of human life on the planet something we should risk? Trump already has a climate change denier picked out to head the EPA. At least until Trump gets rid of the EPA altogether, if he does what he promised. In the long run, this may be Trump’s most dangerous policy, endangering not just Americans, but everyone on earth.

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Impeachment

This may seem like a long shot, but some pundits are already predicting Trump will be impeached. Given Trump’s long record of clashing with authority, his thousands of lawsuits, and the likelihood that he will continue to cross the line, this isn’t that farfetched. It’s already clear that he will be battling in courts against fraud for Trump University and a rape accusation. Given the character of this egotistical mogul, he may not last.

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Fire and Ice

 

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice,

From what I’ve tasted of desire,

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To know that for destruction ice

Is also great, and would suffice

-Robert Frost

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Six days until the presidential election, and there’s so much hate and anger, I wonder if our country is now a divided house that can no longer unite. I don’t think any candidates have ever been more despised than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I’ve never seen Americans be so spiteful and vindictive, and this election is being driven by hate more than by issues.

So I’m wondering what is going to happen next week after one of these two becomes the President-elect. No  matter who wins, there will be loads of unhappiness for about half of all Americans who will see the election as a disaster. What might happen after that is scary.

I believe the rancor is at a new level, perhaps a dangerous level. I remember how fearful I was when George W. Bush was elected, and many of my fears proved correct when Bush started a war based on lies and hundreds of thousands died, and again when he crashed the U.S. economy at the end of his eight years of mismanagement. But America survived Bush, and moved on.

As unhappy as I was with Bush, I never advocated for him to be violently removed from office the way some voices are already promoting. Yes, those may be radical voices, but the cries of “lock her up” and the seething  panic that Trump could use nukes are both the kind of extreme thinking that could lead to post-election tragedy.

In the past, whoever won the presidency was accepted. I’m not sure that’s going to be the case this time. At the minimum, I think whoever wins will be hounded, attacked, accused and harassed for the next four years. At the maximum, what could happen is grim, insurrection, “second amendment solutions,” and blood in the streets all seem possible.

I hope it doesn’t come to that. I hope there is enough civility and order left in our country to accept whoever is elected. For tens of millions of Americans, it won’t be easy, and I am one of those. I am ashamed to be a member of the same species as Donald Trump. I think he is an embarrassment to our country. I cringe to think  what he might do if elected.

But if is he is elected, I will accept the decision of voters and hope for the best. I will hope  he will rise to the occasion and be a better president than he is a person. I will hope that somehow the country will get through four years without suffering too much damage. I don’t want Trump to be shot or even thrown in jail. If he is elected, he is our leader, and I believe the country will endure his presidency.

If you hate Hillary Clinton as much as I hate Donald Trump, I hope you will accept the election results. You don’t ever have to support her, but don’t  believe her election is the end of the country. Don’t get sucked into thinking only radical  solutions can now save us. Whoever becomes president,  and however wrong it seems, we must guarantee that in the next four years our system of peaceful transition of power survives. That is far more important than the hatred for any one person.

 

 

Going Postal

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Sometimes life sneaks up on you and blindsides you in little frustrating and absurd ways that test your patience and civility. Recently, I almost went postal over the Post Office.

It started simply enough at a yard sale where I bought an artsy looking piece of glass, covered in dust, for fifty cents. I took it home, cleaned it up, looked it up and found it was made in Poland and was worth about fifty times what I paid for it. So I put it on ebay and sold it. So far, so good.  A few more bucks in paypal.

A piece of art glass is fragile, and I didn’t want it to get broken in transit, so I packed it with lots of padding in a box that had held a case of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. No, I didn’t drink the rum.

So I’m in line at the post office in Rogers, Arkansas. The post office is one of the places where you still have to stand in line and wait because the clerks are still filling our forms by hand, just like they did in the 1800s,  and some transactions  take about as long as a home mortgage.

But finally, I crawl to the front of the line and heft the package onto the counter in front of the middle-aged woman clerk. She stares at the package for a while, with the same face she’d make if I’d have heaved a live poisonous snake in front of her.

She tapped her nails on the counter and says. “I’m very sorry, sir, but we can’t accept this package because it’s packed in a liquor box.”

Rules. Especially stupid rules. Why did the post office care if I used a box I’d gotten at the liquor store?  I quickly assured the clerk that I wasn’t actually shipping  liquor, just art glass.

“We can’t accept packages that have liquor logos. Sorry.” She shoved the package toward me. I walked back to the car irritated. What the hell?  Was the post office worried I was going to corrupt their  sober employees? It just seemed ridiculous, officious and prudish.

But I still had to get the damn thing shipped somehow, so I went home and took  typing paper and pasted it over every liquor reference on the box. I sanitized it, de-boozled it, abolitioned it.

So after another  fun wait in line, I’m back face-to-face  with the very same woman clerk at the post office in Rogers, Arkansas. I proudly display my handiwork, my extensive pasting of white paper on every side of that box.

“You did a good job,” said the clerk. “But I can still tell it’s a liquor box. I still can’t take it. Sorry.”  The first time, I was irritated. Now I’m getting a little pissed. I felt like saying, of course you can tell it’s a liquor box, because you know it’s a liquor box from my first visit. Then I repeated to myself all the reasons this whole thing was so stupid. I felt like going and getting a bottle of rum and drinking until I passed out. But I didn’t, because when it comes to duels with unreasonable idiots, the only thing that matters is that you find a way to outwit them.

But I still had to get the damn thing shipped. It was obvious to me that the faintest hint or whiff of the devil’s brew would just get me sent home again with my tail between my legs. So I took a big old piece of brown butcher paper  and wrapped up the whole box. I didn’t go back to the clerk in Rogers, Arkansas, because I could just imagine her saying she could tell it was a liquor box because of its shape or because she had X-ray vision, or that she suspected I was a serial pervert shipper.

No, I took the wrapped package to the post office in Farmington, Arkansas, where a woman who could have been the sister of the woman in Rogers actually accepted the package for shipment. I paid her, trying hard not to smirk.  Apparently she lacked the psychic ability of her sister. I walked out to the car with the same kind of pride and swagger George Bush must have had when he landed that plane on the aircraft carrier and declared mission accomplished.

But the post office wasn’t quite done  with me yet. I received an email from the buyer a few days later. The package had arrived postage due, and he’d had to pay the post office to get it, even though he’d paid me in advance for shipping. He asked for a refund. I sent it to him, but I went back to the post office to try to find out what the hell had happened.

A third woman clerk, younger but still a Stepford clerk, told me it shouldn’t have happened. I knew that. Can you pull up the transaction and see why it happened, I asked. No way to do that, she said, and I don’t know much about computers. Yes, she actually said that. You see, the post office is like the Special Olympics. They don’t have a clue, but they always win,  every time.

After four trips to the post office, I was ready to spontaneously  combust over the absurdity of human existence. But I didn’t. I drove to the liquor store, bought a big bottle of rum and tried to forget the whole thing. Yo, ho, ho.

 

Living (and dying) on Tulsa time

 

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The Black  section of Tulsa burning during the race riot  of 1921.

 

Maybe Colin Kaepernick is right. Maybe it’s finally time to admit that there are so many racist cops killing black men, it can’t be ignored anymore.

I grew up in Tulsa. I was saddened by but not surprised when a Tulsa police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man named Terance Crutcher. Tulsa police say they are investigating, but it’s apparent from the chilling video of Crutcher being shot while he held his hands in the air that it was yet another senseless murder of a Black man by a cop who will probably get away with  it.

Like many big cities, Tulsa is a dangerous place to live if you’re Black. Tulsa, and Oklahoma in general, have a dark history of racial killing, from KKK lynchings to the 1921 Tulsas race riot, when thousands of whites stormed into the Black section of Tulsa, killed 300 people and burned the black neighborhood to the ground. It was a massive attack on the Black  population, including aerial assault from airplanes dropping incendiary devices on roofs. Many of the victims were buried  in a mass grave. It was hushed up, swept under the rug, and mostly forgotten.

Growing up in a white Tulsa neighborhood in the 1960s, I had no idea it had even happened. I had no idea that being Black in Tulsa was life threatening. But then, I don’t remember any Black students at my high school. I do remember one afternoon when a Black man knocked on our door and my mother took me into the  bathroom where we hid until he went away.

I didn’t  know just how bad it really was until the early 1980s when I went to work as a writer at the Muskogee paper. Reporters who had been covering the cops for years whispered about the cops targeting and killing young Black men on the street routinely. They knew how to get away with it. If people at the newspaper knew about it, why didn’t they try to expose it?

It was a different time in the 1980s. Things were really corrupt. The editor of the newspaper and the police chief were buddies. The chief supplied our office parties with confiscated liquor. Part of the narrative that went around was that the cops carried an extra gun, a “drop gun” to plant on the dead victim. The fix was in solid. Blacks were hunted in some towns for sport by the cops. Being on the street a night was all it took to get you killed.

It was many years later before I understood how much this must have upset me. When I started writing short stories, one of  the first I  wrote was about racist cops running wild and killing Black men on the street. I was using writing as therapy, to try to get it out of my head.

But it seems it just won’t go away. This  latest killing in Tulsa is just the most recent in a never ending string of killings, and it won’t be the last, not by a long shot (pardon the pun). If you don’t understand why Black people in America are in the street with signs, why pro athletes are kneeling during the national  anthem, and why cops are more trigger happy than ever, it’s time to wake up and smell the bigotry and injustice.

No, not all cops are bad. But the good cops still cover for the bad ones, the ones that are committing  cold blooded murder. Is it going to take another big deadly race riot, like  the one in Tulsa in 1921 before we wise up?

A New Low

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I don’t think I could forgive myself if I didn’t  speak up about this nasty presidential election that is unlike any I’ve seen. And I’ve seen a few. Harry Truman had just become president when I was born. Yeah, I’m old. The first time I voted for president was in 1968,  the year of the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. It was Hubert Humphrey vs. Richard Nixon. I voted for Humphrey, and for the past half century, I’ve voted in every presidential election.

But I’ve never seen a campaign like this. I’ve liked and disliked different presidential contenders, but  until this election I’ve never feared that someone would be elected. But please God, I pray, if you exist, don’t let Donald Trump become the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Donald Trump is a racist, a liar, an egomaniac. He’s a pompous boor, a con man, a vanity queen. I’m not sure he can tell the difference between reality and his own bullshit. He’s unfit to be a dogcatcher. He’s filled with hate, derision and bigotry for everything about America that isn’t white.

Here’s what’s even worse, that racism is still widespread enough in our country to propel him to the nomination of a major party. No, not all his supporters are racists, but they are a big bloc and without the support of racists, he wouldn’t be in this race. I mean, less than eight years ago when Americans elected the first African-American president, we had cause to believe that we had progressed against the forces of racism. Guess not.

The big ugly truth of this election is that racism is alive and well in America. When Trump started putting out his racist clarion calls directed  against Latinos, African-Americans, Women, Gays and even the handicapped, the racists came running. They’d been seething and fomenting for eight years over the indignity of having a Black president. They’re locked, loaded and white. Trump’s base is lily  white. None of America’s minorities support him.

Just hating Hillary is not a good enough excuse to vote for this monster Trump. You  have to be a full-on  bigot to back this blowhard.  I know Hillary isn’t the most appealing person to seek high office. Frankly, I wish the first woman president  (please, God, please)  wouldn’t have gained name recognition by being the wife of a president. But she’s smart, experienced and qualified. Three things that can’t be said for Trump. If Hillary lapsed into a coma tomorrow, I’d still vote for her, because the very idea of Trump being president is unthinkable. I’d vote for slime mold before I’d vote for Trump. His being a candidate is embarrassing. A Trump presidency would be disaster.

I’m truly disappointed we’re at this point in America. The rest of the world thinks Trump is a ridiculous clown. Sure, Putin and the Russians would love to see an idiot in the Oval Office. So would the Chinese, the North Koreans, and the Iranians. All our country’s enemies are hoping Trump gets elected. But that doesn’t bother his base, which is fueled by hate and conspiracy theories.

I think this is a crossroads in American history. We are now a multi-cultural society but a large portion of white people cannot accept the fact that they’re no longer in charge of everything. They want to take America back, like a hundred years back. In this election, we will either move forward by electing our first woman president, or we will return to the dark days of white supremacy by putting a racist in the White House.

 

Free at last- almost

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I’ve blogged once before about how much I dislike cable tv packages. Basically, you don’t get to choose which channels you receive. You’re sold a package, which includes your local channels and a bunch of cable channels, many of which you never watch. It’s like going to the grocery store to buy some apples and grapes and being forced to buy liverwurst and anchovies also, even though you know you won’t eat them. As a consumer, that makes no sense at all. What would make sense is a cafeteria system that allows you to buy  just the channels you want. But the cable companies are never going to do that. Why should they when they get your money for a mixed bag of goods?

So for years now, I’ve been plotting to escape my cable company. As my bill kept rising, almost month by month it seemed, I became even more determined to dump Cox Communication. But how?

Here’s how I did it. First of all, I’m proud to say that several weeks ago, I called Cox and canceled all my cable tv from them. It felt pretty good. And yes, my tv options have changed, but, on balance, I couldn’t be happier with the new way we’re watching tv.

I now stream my cable channels from Sling. It’s $20 a month for 25 channels. It’s yet another package deal, but most of the Sling channels are the ones we watch anyway, like CNN, ESPN, History, TNT, TBS, HGTV, and A and E. With Sling, changing channel takes a little longer, but the price is way less than I was paying before for most of the same channels. Of course, you have to have the ability to stream to do Sling. If you don’t have a smart tv, you can get something like an Amazon Fire Stick  and plug it into the HDMI slot on your tv and presto, your tv now comes in on your wifi.

For local channels, I bought and installed an outdoor digital amplified antenna. Getting it up was a trip. The antenna cost less than $20 on ebay, but it came unassembled. I spent most of a day putting it together, puzzling over the enigmatic instructions obviously written by someone with a limited knowledge of English. Yes, it was made in China.

Once I had it together and up, I connected it to my tv and it picked up 34 channels with a sharp picture, including my local ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX and CW stations along  with a bunch of other channels, mostly broadcasting anciently old stuff like Andy Griffith, Gilligan’s Island and Newlywed Game. But it was all free tv, coming in on the airwaves, just like in the 1950s. It was like I’d come full circle.

To replace our premium channels, we’ve subscribed to Amazon Prime and Netflix. They are well worth what we pay for them, less than $20 a month. They offer a vast selection of movies, tv and  music.

We now spend about $40 a month on TV, about one-third what we were paying before. And we have better viewing options than before.

I’d like to say we’re free of Cox at last, but we still buy internet service from them. But by early next year, we hope to change providers and be completely free of the cable company. That will be a good day.

The truth is, cable tv is rapidly become old technology, and will soon be relegated to the same place as cassette music tapes, VHS video and buggy whips. The  cable companies  should be moving toward streaming, but they continue to flog their service, which has remained basically the same for 50 years. Cable tv is a dinosaur, about to become extinct. If you want to save money and have a better entertainment experience, streaming is your bright new future.

Never, Never, Ever Give Up

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1919 – Walt Disney is fired from his newspaper job for lacking imagination.

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1926 – Lucille Ball is told by her acting  coach that she’s wasting “her time and ours.”

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1936 – John F. Kennedy runs for president of the Harvard freshman class,  and loses.

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1960s – Steven Spielberg is rejected by the film school at USC.

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1962 – The Beatles are rejected by Decca Records.

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1973 – Hillary Clinton fails the District of Columbia bar exam.

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1977 – Oprah  Winfrey is fired from her news job for being too emotionally involved.
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1985 – Steve Jobs is fired from the Macintosh division of Apple.th73JMV7IZ

1996 – J.K. Rowling is turned down 12 times for her Harry Potter manuscript.

Never, never, ever give up.