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Monday, February 29, 2016

Bernie Sanders Wants to Take Care of Us -- NOT

I was at the supermarket late this afternoon and got stuck standing behind a woman talking on her cell while her kid, about ten or twelve years old, was running amok. I'll call him Jamie.

Jamie's mother -- late twenties, with chipped nail polish and a PINK sweatshirt -- was blathering about how she was very excited to be participating in the political process this year. Turns out, Jamie's mother had not voted in quite some time but this time was going to vote for Bernie Sanders. Full disclosure here: very recently I wrote my personal belief that Bernie Sanders is A Lunatic right on this blog.

Jamie's mom blathered to her friend that she was voting so that Bernie Sanders could get Jamie (by now tearing into another bag of Reese's cups) a free college education. Jamie's mother had it all sewn up, apparently, speaking about Bernie using very familiar tones.

"Bernie wants to take care of us," she said, beaming. "He's going to make the government pay my kid's college bills. We will be getting free health care too." She patted her stomach, which was a tad on the wide side. "Maybe after he gets elected I'll be able to get that lap band surgery and lose weight."

Lap band surgery? Where did that come from? Oh, wait, maybe we can blame social media.

The amount of political foolishness which is bandied about on social media is incredible. Bombardment is a good word to describe it: ridiculous cartoon memes, insulting commentary and pseudo-information from assorted websites written by buffoons but passed off as truth.

Jamie's mother and thousands of her ilk are swallowing this whole, blissfully oblivious to the notion that someone is going to have to pay for all of these faux promises. Who will pay? They don't know and don't care, as long as they don't have to pony up.

Meanwhile Jamie had run to the other side of the store and his mother had to hang up the phone. She left her cart in the line and scampered over to find her kid and bring him to heel. I've no idea what happened because Jamie, high on Reeses, proved harder to track down than his mother had anticipated.

But then again, Jamie's mother isn't anticipating much of anything, as are all of the others who fervently believe that the Presidency of the United States should be held by a man who goes by a nickname. Not Bernard, mind you, Bernie. Yep, Bernie the guy who wants to take care of us.

Amen, and pass the Reeses, please.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hey, Hey Guantánamo Bay Has Gotta Stay

Built in 1898, Naval Station Guantánamo Bay -- a 45 square mile military facility on Cuba's eastern shore -- is the oldest US Navy base in existence.   Military folks call it Gitmo, which is the pronunciation of GTMO, the designation code for the airfield there. 

But what truly makes Gitmo unique is that it is the only US Navy base on communist soil, some 522 miles south of Miami, Florida. Yes, it's very close. In the spirit of full disclosure, I visited Gitmo in 1994 as a journalist, covering a crisis that had brought thousands of Cuban rafters seeking refuge. Gitmo is sprawling, dusty, and hot. There is even a McDonald's there.  
McDonald's at Gitmo

The Navy leases the land from Cuba via an agreement which can only be broken if both sides decide to do so. Even through the early Castro years, when "la revolucion" had not yet identified its socialist leanings to the world, Gitmo was a toehold in a politically molten region. The Cold War, the Bay of Pigs, the onslaught of Cubans arriving in Miami, the embargo -- all through these Gitmo bore mute witness and stayed put. The reasons for its ongoing existence were complex and emotionally charged. Democratic socialism in Havana broke down and now the cruel reality of a miserably failed social experiment is naked to the world.

Cuba, once lush and thriving, is poor.  Havana, its sexy and sensuous capital city is now a sylph. There is just enough of her beauty left to remind those who knew her at the height of her powers about the cruel joke that had been played on her, on all those who called her home.

And now the sitting President of the United States is planning a journey to the island. I can't bear to write his name I'm so angry at his insensitivity, and I'm not the only Cuban who feels this way. POTUS would be the first in 50 years to visit the island, something I'm sure he's seeking in an effort to aggrandize what is a tepid administration.

POTUS is going to shake Raul Castro's hand while standing on Cuban soil, in apparent denial of all the human rights violations the Castros have inflicted on the Cuban people (both in Cuba and abroad) in all that time.
Naval Station Guantánamo Bay

Is he that desperate for a legacy? Perhaps the first black man to be elected President (for that is what history will baptize him a century from now) wants to be known for something else. I don’t blame him for that. I do blame him for choosing to visit Cuba as a pat answer to the legacy matter. It's not a pat answer, it's a pathetic one in my view.

Further, POTUS has said he wants to give Gitmo back to the Castros. Whose lame idea was that? Gitmo is a fully operational US Navy base smack dab in one of the most accessible and desirable locations in the region.

Does POTUS believe that the two old and addled Castros are not capable of doing more than just merely keeping it? Does it not occur to any of his "brain trust" that they could easily turn around and lease the land to the Koreans, Russia, China or some Middle Eastern sect?

What is he smoking, and if you believe any of this, what are you smoking? There is more to Cuba than cigars, and your desire to smoke them comes at a huge price. Don’t pay it.

Marco Rubio said it best -- "We are not giving an important naval base to an anti-American, communist dictatorship." 

Amen, Marco.  That "democratically socialist" dictatorship is 500 miles from US shores. Be afraid, be very afraid. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My First Valentine

The box itself is tiny, no more than an inch and a half square made of brass. A heart decorates the center and there is a tiny floral motif. Hundreds of scratches have been etched onto it over the course of years. The original golden color has been worn down to the base metal in some areas.

Still, the box holds something very precious -- the memory of a little girl's first Valentine's Day, given to her by the most important man in her life at the time.

Whenever he gave a gift to his wife on such a holiday, the little girl was also the recipient of a smaller version. This was a small compact designed to hold powder and a little puff, with a mirror on the inside cover. Those items are all gone now, lost in years and distance and a series of events which turned the family upside down. The family lived in Havana, Cuba and on a fateful day they chose to leave their home for the United States, not ever to return.

The parents told the little girl that she could take a few things with her to the airport. The child chose the box to join her in the new life she knew nothing about. Somehow it survived the passage of decades and was not lost along with other juvenile things.

A lesson is to be learned here, one that fathers with daughters may already know. That small thing you give your daughter, or tell her, might be something she hangs onto for dear life, especially after you are gone. If you do things right, you, her first Valentine, will pass along a legacy that she is worth a great deal, that she is loved, and that she should be loved by another Valentine with whom she opts to live her life.

For all fathers reading this, I wish for your Valentine's Day that your daughter recalls you with as much love as I still have for mine even though he has been gone for years. The small heart on the box was his and I will carry it with me forever.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Yo, Cat, Gimme The Yogurt

It happened in a series of slow motion moves in the course of a split second. I was preparing a bedtime snack of yogurt and somehow didn't quite grab the container.

Out of the corner of my left eye I saw it leave my hand, hover at eye level then drop from line of sight. The cover fell off and yogurt splatted.

Yes, splatted.

Whoosh -- from the right, a black blob -- in seconds my cat Morgan stuck his head in and began munching away.

The rest were quick moves -- grab the camera snap a few then find an old towel. I threw it over Morgan (still happily munching) and brought him to the bathroom, where I closed the door on him. I was hoping to contain the mess to a room which needed a thorough going over anyway.

Not much later the sound I waited for -- Morgan was batting the empty plastic container around.

Cautiously I opened the door -- that's when I should have had the camera.

He was a vision -- yogurt everywhere on his head, a pleased expression in his eyes.

Again from the right -- a black blob, this time my other cat Luna. She took one look at the yogurt on Morgan's head and went to town trying to lap it off his ears.

I knew when to leave things alone, and shut the bathroom door again. No sense risking that he beat feet somewhere else, like under the bed.

I went to the kitchen and finished cleaning the first disaster area, waiting again until it became apparent that the two were busily playing with the empty container.

Armed with another towel and assorted cleaning agents, I let myself in and gave the room a thorough going over.

Ah, cats.

Amen, and pass the catnip.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Women Who Fear A Woman President -- Yes, You Are Out There

Yesterday I posted something on Facebook about why a country as old and civilized as the United States has yet to elect a woman President. England, Pakistan, India, Israel and other nations -- allegedly more "backward" than the U.S. did so eons ago. Why not the US?

Imagine my surprise at the relative lack of enthusiasm for my FB statement, especially from women I consider friends. Frankly, their arguments were based a great deal around Hillary Clinton, a strong and controversial woman with admirers and detractors alike. Not a soul mentioned Carly Fiorina, but that's another story.

The biggest surprise, however, were the arguments put forth against Ms. Clinton. One of them was that she was after power -- as if any male who runs for that office isn't after the same thing? But there's the rub -- women are not supposed to want power, are we?

Supposedly a desire to be at the top of the political or business heap is unfeminine. Power is a man thing, I suppose, not something we silly women need concern our pretty little heads about. It's okay to work, okay to shine, as long as we don't go too crazy. We are supposed to be the cheerleaders, not the players.
Yes, ladies, let us subscribe to the standard feminine "wiles." Let us knock down any woman who is trying to knock down walls because new ways are frightening and safe is better than sorry.

Let us be passive aggressive and not tell anyone what we are really thinking or want, but instead give a person the cold shoulder until hell freezes over. Let us never initiate a confrontation because it's not feminine to be argumentative, to go after what we want, to point blank refuse to take crap from anyone.

Let us be doormats, pretty doormats with cute designs on them. Let us continue to bash any woman who dares to be presumably equal to a man. Let us do that because when someone finally does become President of the United States, and that someone is a woman, the yardstick will have grown immensely. And the rest of us are going to have to do more and be more to measure up.

Centuries ago, Abigail Adams wrote the following to her husband John, who was busy scribbling a document called the Declaration of Independence. "I long to hear that you have declared an independency," she wrote. "And by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."

Something tells me that if Abigail was around, she'd have a thing or two to say about this. Amen, and pass the sewing basket, please.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bernie Sanders is a Lunatic

Okay, now that I have your attention.

There seems to be a madness afoot amongst Democrats this year. A bunch of them are under the spell of a 74-year old codger who is going around promising all sorts of things for free -- college tuitions, health care, and a yearly trip to the island of your choice in order to de-stress.

I made that last one up but I would not be surprised that it has popped in his head.

Bernie Sanders seems like a nice enough fellow, the sort of guy you would expect to be wearing Hush Puppies and those jackets with the suede elbow pads. He calls himself a Democratic Socialist, oxymoronic sentence if there ever was one, but I digress. Bernie tells people that we should all have the same shot at the good things in life, in particular feeding into the "entitlement" crowd. This bunch fervently believes that money should be evenly distributed so that life is fair for everyone. Bernie and his folks want to work on "income inequality," in which those who earn more pay out more in taxes so that the "entitlement crowd" pays nothing for things like college, health care and a yearly trip to Barbados to de-stress.

Bernie won the New Hampshire primary because apparently a boatload of people there buy into his shtick. Hell, if I lived in the frozen tundras of northern New Hampshire I'd want a yearly trip to Turks and Caicos in order to de-stress from all that shoveling.

But here's the rub. There's another guy who just won the primary -- one with equally bad hair and just as big a lunatic as Bernie Sanders. One big difference, however, between Sanders and Donald Trump is that Trump has a boatload of money and could pay for thousands of people to go to the Bahamas to destress without a cent of taxpayer money. 

Bernie is hoping that over-eager college coeds with Daddy complexes will vote him into office along with their entitlement-seeking parents. Trump isn't hanging his hat on hope. He's going to buy the office if that's what it takes. And he can. And he will if allowed to do so.

So all of you out there doing a jig because the socialist nutter who is promising you the moon just won a primary -- stop dancing.  It's look at the big picture time.

Bernie Sanders will not win against Donald Trump. The Donald has his sights on something that he wants -- the Oval Office -- and he will stop at nothing to get it. Further Bernie Sanders hasn't got the slightest idea of what to do with the office because he has never run anything like it. The Donald has run corporations and at least he knows how to make a pile of money.  He's using that pile of money to buy the office once held by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy and that other guy whose wife is also going for the post this year.

All I can say is this -- I'm with Marco Rubio for the moment but if that falls apart, and it comes down to brass tacks -- I'm with the woman I voted for eight years ago, because if Sanders or Trump gets to the top of the heap, we are screwed.  At least with her we have some notion of what's coming.

This is where I say I told you so in advance.

Amen, and pass the ballot please.