Friday, October 13, 2017

High Time for Trump to Be Gone, Gone, GONE! Jamaica Police Violence, Death of a Cuban Patriot, Great-grandson’s 10th B’day, Son’s Brutal Attack, Correction

Outgoing Senator Bob Corker has opened wide the obvious question of Donald Trump’s fitness to continue in the presidency. Despite his “babysitters,” Trump is on such a rampage of wanton destruction—including the Iran deal, NATO, NAFTA, DACA, North Korea, Obamacare, and Puerto Rico hurricane aid (what about the Virgin Islands?)---that maybe even Republican lawmakers are starting to have second thoughts, since the good of the country, their own political survival, and that of their party in 2018 is at stake. Never mind details, because they are covered amply in the news, but it seems high time to get rid of President Trump as the nation and the world cannot allow him to continue in office. It may be messy to get him out and his base may become outraged, though even they may also be losing patience, since none of his promises have been fulfilled. We feared the worse for his presidency, but hoped he would learn on the job and that his advisers and daughter Ivanka and her husband might be mitigating forces, but it’s not getting any better, just gets worse and worse.

Last year, Amnesty International released a report, Waiting in Vain: Unlawful Police Killings and Relatives’ Long Struggle for Justice. The report details the catalogue of illegal tactics used by police across Jamaica to ensure that relatives of victims of unlawful killings by the police do not pursue justice, truth, and reparation for their loved ones. According to the report, law enforcement officials in Jamaica have allegedly killed more than 3,000 people since 2000; mostly young men living in marginalized communities. Despite overwhelming evidence of police involvement in the cases, to Amnesty International’s knowledge, only a handful of officers have been convicted of murder since then.
In Washington, DC, in a Congressional meeting room, we in the volunteer Caribbean coordinating group of Amnesty International USA recently held an information session with members of two families directly impacted by this violence in Jamaica, Simone Grant and Shackelia Jackson who were making a speaking tour to raise awareness in the US. Both lost their brothers at the hands of the Jamaican police. My volunteer Jamaica assistant, Sarah Hamilton, accompanied them on their tour. 

Dr. Darsi Ferret, last name sometimes spelled Ferrer, an Afro-Cuban dissident doctor in his 40’s, once imprisoned for ostensibly possessing two bags of unauthorized cement, was found dead in south Florida, cause of death unknown. His photo appears on p. 344 of my Confessions book.
               Dr. Darsi Ferret (L) with another former Cuban prisoner

Turning to more personal matters, my great-grandson De’Andre was here from Clearwater, FL, in early Oct. with his mother for a few days to celebrate his 10th birthday among us. 

Then my son Jon came east unexpectedly from Hawaii for R&R after a violent robbery and hospitalization in normally peaceful Honolulu (case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time) whereby he suffered numerous injuries, particularly to his right eye, where full restoration of vision will take time and is uncertain. Meanwhile, he wears either an eye patch or sunglasses to spare onlookers the sight of his eye. His return to Hawaii is unlikely in the near term. 

Above, Jon in the hospital with sister Stephanie

Jon in DC area with sister Melanie

Jon on the phone at our house

Correction to my last post from a reader:
u referenced "Christine Jorgensen" as transgendered (medical doctor) tennis player.  i believe u meant Renee Richards. Jorgensen was well known in 1950's tabloids.  RR played tennis. 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Turkey Imprisons Amnesty Director, Cambodian Leader Asks Peace Corps Withdrawal, Hurricanes, Las Vegas Massacre, DACA, More on Trump & Family, Medicare for All, Probabilities

[Please excuse formatting anomalies, have been having trouble.]

Earlier this summer, Turkish authorities detained the director of Amnesty 
International Turkey, Idil Eser, and nine other human rights defenders. 
All ten are still being held and are accused of “committing a crime in the name 
of a terrorist organization without being a member.”

Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, has asked for Peace Corps 
volunteers to be withdrawn, accusing them and US officials of siding with 
his political opponent. Peace Corps bends over backwards not to be involved 
in politics in any way in countries where volunteers serve. 

In other Peace Corps news, a former volunteer is astronaut Joe Acaba 
(Dominican Republic,1994-96), who launched to the International Space Station
for a five-month mission on September 12, 2017, his third trip to the ISS.

Meanwhile, former Peace Corps Director Elaine Chao (under President HW 
Bush) is being accused of financial corruption, along with other members of the 
Trump cabinet. It has been speculated that Trump originally named Chao 
Secretary of Transportation to curry favor to Mitch McConnell, hoping that 
McConnell might protect him from his own corruption scandals.

After Irma, I’m especially worried about the many Caribbean islands and communities in  
my Amnesty International purview. CaibariĆ©n, a small coastal Cuban town that I remember well after visiting there in 1997, was virtually wiped out. As recounted in my Confessions book, I stayed up all night talking with two dissidents there scheduled to appear in court the next morning.

The DR seems to have gotten it worse than Haiti, which really had no room to fall further. I’ve spent interesting times on several Caribbean islands or island nations, Puerto Rico, US and British Virgin Islands, DR, Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica. My granddaughter, great-grandson, brother, nephew, and
great (grand?) nephew living in South Florida all survived with no lasting damage. Many friends there are all right, too, including Sirley Avila, a Cuban dissident maimed in a government-inspired
incident, though she is worried about her mother and son in Cuba. Trump and his followers may blame hurricanes on gay marriage or simple coincidence, but there has been an unending stream: Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria.

On her trip to Florida, it looked like Melania was wearing flats after criticism of her high heels during prior two Harvey trips. From her rather stoic expression, it looks like she’s definitely getting tired of these appearances, but Trump drags her along anyway. I do think a librarian’s rejection of her donation of some Dr. Seuss books as being “retro” was over-the-top—after all, he is still a beloved children’s author. Probably the librarian was motivated by the more generalized rejection of the Trump presidency.

Trump seemed to be enjoying basking in unusual public support with his apparent agreement with Democrats on DACA and a few other matters. But some on his base have complained vociferously, so he’s starting to backtrack. Bannon has vowed revenge if he deviates from the alt-right line.

Trump is also vowing to veto single-payer healthcare should it ever cross his desk, something unlikely, but he needs to offer some red-meat outreach to his base. Tweeting a mock video of himself knocking down Hillary with a golf ball is childish, but again more red meat for his base. He could instead, because of the blind faith of many in the base, actually try to educate them. He’s in a bind, cannot please everybody and the electorate is strongly polarized. He’s slowly learning how tricky politics can be.

As Trump once observed about healthcare, politics is really complicated! Imagine! He may find that working with Democrats on DACA and other matters actually makes him a deal-maker and that the majority who didn’t vote for him may become less adamant on impeachment, so that would be personally protective for him. His approval ratings went up when it looked like he would support DACA and if there is anything that is important to Trump, it’s public approval. But now, that weasel Jeff Sessions is being vindictive by arresting undocumented people without criminal records in sanctuary cities. I wish that Trump had actually fired him, as it’s hard to imagine a worse AG.   

Now, under Trump, we’re seeing civil disobedience, actually sort of a civil war in reverse, with northern states separating from the south and from the authority of the presidency. He is not only fomenting war with North Korea, but within our own borders. General Kelly, where is your control?

Meanwhile, son-in-law and official adviser Jared Kushner and First Daughter Ivanka as well as others in the Trump administration have been found to be using private e-mail for sensitive government communications! Where are the cries of “Lock ‘em up!”?

Various anti-Trump organizations are having a field day, soliciting funds supposedly to impeach Trump or otherwise oppose him, meanwhile taking their own cut.  But Trump's continuous outrages have left us kind of numb--they fail to shock us anymore. 

While Bernie Sanders’ universal health care proposal is a good start to get lawmakers and the public thinking about that possibility, but right now, it’s an idea, a talking point, but something merely aspirational. Republicans may decide that Obamacare is not so bad after all compared to single-payer, which probably the majority of the electorate would actually support. Single-payer would greatly simplify the system and eliminate expensive layers of bureaucracy, layers destined to fight tooth and nail to keep their jobs. There would also be less choice for patients, longer waits, less personal contact with practitioners, and fewer procedures performed, but at much lower cost to the government and to consumers. I belong to the Kaiser health system, much cheaper than other health insurance and which may be a model, with salaried doctors who have no incentives to push for unneeded care—if anything, they may pause before providing any care. Universal care would certainly cost less per patient than our present system, but practitioners would also earn less. As I have often commented here, doctors, nurses, and therapists in other developed countries earn good salaries, but not the very high incomes promoted under our own present system, much of it fueled by campaign contributions and vigorous lobbying. However, I disagree with Bernie that all services should be covered 100%. Kaiser, even Medicare and Medicaid, do have copays. Those copays should stay to prevent hypochondriac or lonely folks from overusing the system, also just to give patients some agency and responsibility and to share costs. Providing more health care to more Americans would increase population due to people living longer and more babies surviving (as is already happening around the world) and also increase age-related illnesses including dementia for the same reason.

Heaven help us, now we are learning about trans people who regret their choice and want to go back to their original gender. If it was hard to transition, it’s even harder to reverse it! Maybe folks now have too many choices. If you are feeling that your psyche and physical gender don’t match, it might be best to cross-dress for a few years. Even taking hormones is tricky, because some changes might be permanent, i.e. breasts, facial hair or the removal thereof, voice changes. Even the famous pioneering transitioner and tennis champ Christine Jorgensen, according to an autobiography, went from male to female and back to male, then back to female again. Whew, that would put some serious strain on the health system if it were widespread. It would be interesting to see how many “regrets” there are. Reportedly, a UK researcher seeking fund to explore this question was denied. Was that report real or fake news? The world is becoming very confusing in the Trump era!

The New Yorker Radio Hour recently aired a wide raging interview with Hillary Clinton, where she acquitted herself quite admirably in my opinion. Of course, I have always supported her, disagreeing only on her siding with Planned Parenthood in apparently wanting to exclude pro-life Democratic candidates from party support. (I do not oppose the 20-week abortion ban which seems sensible to me—any serious birth defects or harm to the mother would be discernable by then; in the rare case of life-threatening harm to the woman arising later, exceptions could be made.) Clinton is right that a perfect storm of events allowed Trump to gain the presidency, among them were Assange’s WikiLeaks disclosures timed and selected to do maximum damage to her campaign, perhaps guided by Russian operatives. Not for nothing did Trump declare, “I love WikiLeaks!” The problem is, she asserts, that the Russians are still calling the shots and manipulating Trump and his mostly inexperienced staff. I do believe the fact that she is a woman worked against her, as men and even some women don’t like uppity women. God forbid that a female candidate should have any hint of marital infidelity, something many male lawmakers have overcome, including Bill Clinton and Trump himself. Just calling her “Crooked Hillary” and urging that she be lynched is not proof of any wrongdoing. Some right-wingers have accused her of taking advantage of being married to a former president. Yes, she did use that as a stepping stone, just as people in any field take advantage of being the spouse, sibling, or parent of someone who has made it to the top. Trump built upon his father’s business success, after all. More than Trump, Hillary did serve her time politically, as a senator and secretary of state. 

Later, an article appeared in the NYorker (September 25, 2017) by editor David Remnick about a wide-ranging interview held with Hillary Clinton about her new book, including about the day after the election, when she was in a state of shock (she was not the only one). Quite touching is the cover that was planned for the magazine if she had won.

I was in Chappaqua that day after, as mentioned before, scheduled to give a talk on my Confessions book at the public library, where everyone was downhearted and few were interested in Cuba policy. Again, here is the sign that neighbors put on the entrance to her driveway. Everyone there was devastated, including me. And it hasn’t gotten better. [Chappaqua photo an sign.]

With Trump making a fool of himself and a mockery of our country at the UN in his appearance before that body, poor Hillary must be cringing more than ever over his antics and her loss. Trump says the Iran deal is “an embarrassment.”  He and his UN speech are the embarrassment (as Kelly’s expression during its delivery indicated).

And while Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands were reeling under the devastating effects of climate change, at least part of it manmade, Trump was obsessed with slamming kneeling by players and others at football games, simply increasing support for practice. Because of concerns about climate change, I switched my electricity exclusively to wind and solar whether or not it costs more.

Anthony Weiner fully deserves to shed tears bout his conviction and prison sentence, which is scant punishment for the great harm his antics have inflicted on this country, leading to the catastrophic presidency of Donald Trump.  

On another issue, under Trump, the National Institutes of Health is trying to quietly end a program that funds research into gun violence and how to prevent it. (Maybe the more deaths and injuries there are from guns, the more guns will be sold to folks trying to protect themselves from guns? Is that the NRA’s tactic, more gun profits? It’s a vicious circle.) There is also a bill in Congress to approve gun silencers.  

So, another mass shooting has occurred but if guns are so protective, where are the successful armed defenders in these cases? It’s not been happening. Self-defense under the Second Amendment doesn’t encompass a personal arsenal of assault weapons. If people want to have assault weapons for the thrill of shooting them at gun ranges, why not have them kept under lock and key to be used only there? Even if people survive a mass shooting, they suffer greatly, may be permanently disabled, lose jobs and income, and use scarce medical resources. After a horrorific shooting, “gun-rights” advocates invariably say that “this is not the time to talk about gun control.” It is precisely the right time to talk about it and to act on it, just as after three devastating hurricanes back-to-back is the right time to talk about climate change. Why not? Because partisans want to avoid the obvious? Thoughts and prayers are not enough! A moment of silence and flags at half-staff are not enough! So do we just have to accept that these terrible events can strike any of us at any time—is the “right to bear arms” of sufficient social benefit that we all just have to bear the risk of being shot, unlike the citizens of other developed countries where guns are restricted? And are hurricanes the price we have to pay for the freedom of some people to use fossil fuels? I have switched my own electricity to all non-fossil fuels. A potential mass shooter has the “right to bear arms,” which can be a license to kill as the La Vegas case demonstrates, but Americans have no right to medical care and living wage?

Whether the issue is gun violence or climate change or a crime committed by an undocumented person or a rape or anything else, probabilities do matter. Nothing gives us 100% certainty except death. While Trump might hold up a victim of a crime committed by an undocumented or a Muslim immigrant as evidence that such people are dangerous, in fact, immigrants have much lower crime rates than the rest of the population. Of course, if you or your loved one is injured by an immigrant, you don’t care about odds. Likewise, Betsy Devos may find one or two young men falsely accused of rape, but she ignores the many more women rape victims who never come forward or get justice. It’s fine to point cases that deviate from the norm, but they do not negate the norm.

Having a gun may be protective in a given case, but many more people are injured or killed by gun violence, accidental or not. The mere possession of a firearm greatly increases the chance of harm coming to its owner and to close associates. A self-driving car will sooner or later be involved in an accident, but will have fewer accidents than cars driven by fallible humans. A surgeon with an enviable record, if he or she performs enough surgeries, may have a failure eventually. A few planes or helicopters will crash—the effort to make that happen less often has succeeded, but not each and every accident will be eliminated. That’s why we feel relieved when we have arrived safely; it’s not a given. Of course, efforts need to continue to reduce the odds of accidents and very long odds can always come to pass. Lottery winnings and Trump’s ascendence to the presidency are examples.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Late Son Andrew’s Birthday, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Burma, North Korean Threat, DACA, Trump (inevitably), Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party, Gun Violence

This year, Labor Day fell on September 4, my late son Andrew’s birthday—this would have been his 50th birthday. Daughter Melanie joined me for that day’s observance, preparing a dinner we dubbed “Thanksgiving in September,” consisting of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, asparagus, cabbage, and with banana cream pudding for dessert. All that was missing was the cranberry sauce!

While hurricanes are assaulting the eastern part of the country, out west, forest fires are raging. Alas, the beautiful falls in the Columbia River Gorge that we visited in Oregon in late June has been devastated by a fire that has charred the surrounding hills. Here below were Multnomah Falls when saw them in late June.

No one in the US is paying much attention to floods ravaging several parts of Asia, more results from global warming. Mr. Trump is probably more worried about possible damage to Mar-a-Lago where he may well ask for (and grant himself) federal aid.

Good news, Peace Corps budget has not been cut as was proposed.

Reminder since the government website isn’t doing it any more, that open enrollment for Obamacare is Nov. 1-Dec. 15. 

 On his second visit to Texas, Donald Trump and Melania (still arriving wearing designer clothes and stilettos) served food to Houston storm victims for a photo op, just like Barack Obama and Michelle used to do in disasters, thus appearing more typically presidential. Trump even hugged a child. From Melania’s facial expressions, it seems she is not enjoying this part of her “job,” just as she seems not to be liking her position overall, not that Michelle particularly liked it either, but she made the best of it and found a niche for herself. Michelle often visited DC public schools to talk nutrition to the delight of some kids whom I know. Trump made a point in Houston of saying, as he donned plastic gloves, that he has big hands, a sore point for him during the presidential debates, when Marco Rubio implied that some other body part might be smaller than average. A website put up an actual outline of one of Trump’s hands measured from when he planted a handprint in cement somewhere), which, indeed, showed his short, stubby fingers. Putting my hand up against the template, I found that my own fingers are both longer and more slender, although my hands are not particularly large or long. Trump’s hands are indeed small for his gender and body size and his fingers are plump, like the rest of him.

Now with Hurricane Irma (and then Hurricane Jose) following on the heels of Harvey, is there no climate change? Just a series of amazing coincidences or maybe Mother Nature or the Almighty sending us a message on the burning of fossil fuels? No, say some evangelical leaders, it’s divine retribution for gay marriage. However, might the devastation of Irma result in an extension of TPS for Haitians? Logical idea. Struggling Haiti has suffered another enormous blow with this hurricane. Might Trump reverse the Haiti expulsion? Florida residents asked him to open Mar-a-Lago as a refuge (not likely, but it would be a PR win if he did).

My granddaughter Natasha and great-grandson De'Andre recently moved to Clearwater, Florida, where they survived Hurricane Irma fairly unscathed. Here above (right) \ is Natasha helping the city make preparations and after she had boarded up their home.

Above, my nephew Jim and his family drove north to the DC area from Del Ray, Florida, with their dog, sharing colorful meal cooked by their aunt in Takoma, Md. 
There may be a fine line between appeasement and principled engagement. In my Confessions book, I repeat arguments made to me by high-ranking Catholic prelates, including (recently retired) Cardinal Jaime Rodriguez, about the tightrope they were walking and the need to gain the trust of Communist Party officials to open a small measure of space while also attempting to moderate the party’s positions. Many Cuban expatriates and dissidents have labeled the church “complicit” as a result.

Likewise, now many democracy advocates have expressed shock and disappointment in Nobel Laureate Aung San Si Kyi’s apparent cooperation with the Burmese military’s mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims. I don’t know, but she may be doing her best. Objecting more openly might put her back into house arrest where she would have no influence at all. It’s a difficult calculation.

Trump has appointed some terrible people who have done real damage, but, so far, because of his ineptness, his administration hasn’t done as much damage as he might have, given a Republican Congress, so maybe that’s blessing in disguise. And Trump’s deals   with Democratic leaders are a welcome surprise, though it not something to be counted on, as the man likes to be unpredictable and to double-cross both supporters and foes. He is unreliable and untrustworthy in the extreme. Where does he stand? What’s his position on anything, except what gains him approval, fame, and money?

But the standoff of a guy like Trump with North Korea is really scary.
Now with North Korea ratcheting up its threats, what does Kim Jong Un actually want? Money, recognition, being treated as a normal leader from a normal country, or maybe as a world hero? He may just want to flex his muscles and engender fear. He certainly does not like seeing any defensive military action to protect South Korea. Apparently, he’s not interested in talks right now. If a missile deployed bomb should reach Washington, DC, I’m a goner, because my house is so close the capitol.

Ending DACA was an uncomfortable announcement that Trump avoided by outsourcing it to a very eager Jeff Sessions, probably because Trump didn’t want to be associated with ending DACA himself. After all, two of his three wives have been immigrants. He still wanted to appeal to his base without further alienating the majority of Americans who do support DACA and do not support him. It’s hard to take away a benefit already being granted, as Trump found out with the effort to repeal the ACA.

Sessions’ holier-than-thou speech and his references to “illegal aliens” and an “unconstitutional” power grab were calculated to grate as much as possible on the vast majority of Americans who actually support DACA. Sessions has long opposed DACA, so it must have given him satisfaction to deliver that message, a very mealy-mouthed, weasely statement, almost schoolmarmish and scolding in tone as he looked out over his tiny glasses. Because of his long history of racism, Sessions is even more reprehensible than Trump, who, however, bears ultimate responsibility for appointing him, even if done under Bannon’s influence. This administration is going out of its way to be mean and nasty to so many ordinary people. I could not feel sorry for Sessions when Trump was bad-mouthing him. Now, it’s time for the Republican Congress to stand up and be counted on DACA and let’s see how enthusiastically Sessions implements a new fully constitutional DACA, if he is still around if and when that happens. Republican icon Ronald Reagan supported a limited immigration “fix,” which did not hurt his reputation among conservatives or in the light of history. Nor should Democrats agree to fund Trump’s ridiculous, costly “fortress America” border wall in exchange for DACA. (Maybe, in exchange for a major concession, then only a very short, token section of a wall where Trump can pose for photo ops.)

Knee-jerk opposition by the Republican Congress to almost any Obama proposal on immigration led him to create DACA by executive action. Now, with a (nominally) Republican president, maybe Congress can agree to approve such a program. As I said in my Confessions book,

After my Honduran sojourn and starting Spanish interpretation work, I became an even stronger immigration reform advocate, although the very term “amnesty” as applied to undocumented immigrants has become invested with pejorative connotations, even though Republican icon Ronald Reagan practically invented the concept. Opponents of immigration reform are quick to label undocumented people “illegals,” as if legal status were an immutable condition rather than a creature of legislative will. After all, immigration laws are not the Ten Commandments handed down from on high! Heaven help tea-partiers and other bigots and hypocrites when they get old and gray and need immigrants to care for them. Let’s face it, we white-bread Americans aren’t producing enough offspring to replace ourselves or to support and tend us in old age. Neighboring Canada, in contrast, realizes the economic and social benefits of being immigrant-friendly.

Likewise, a bipartisan “fix” to healthcare is possible. If Hillary had been president, any tweaking of DACA or the ACA would have met the Republican Congress’s implacable opposition, just as Obama experienced. Now Republicans are confused. Whom are they opposing, the Democrats or Trump?

Whether due to Trump’s accidental assumption of the presidency (I hesitate to say that he was actually “elected”), previous Obama policies, or because of just plain good luck and current business expectations, at least so far, the stock market has rallied under Trump, so that’s a plus for his presidency. But the market did fall after the DACA announcement.

While Trump might not be able to pardon himself if he is impeached, Mike Pence, as president, could and no doubt would pardon Trump, just as Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon. Pence, being a more traditional politician and a solidly right-of-center Republican, might be harder to oppose than the erratic and unpredictable Trump, so we must not push impeachment too hard, at least not before some Republicans are defeated in the mid-term elections. In polls, Pence is somewhat more popular than Trump, but not by much. Good that Bannon is out—things seem a little calmer at the White House since he left.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is out with a tell-all best-seller that attempts to settle scores, not only with Donald Trump, but with Bernie Sanders, who despite being a white elderly man—and not even a Democrat—appealed to young Democratic voters. His vision was and still is attractive to many—Medicare for all, free college tuition, tax the rich. While I am not against those objectives—what’s not to like?--I never thought they were totally achievable in the current political climate and under our present economic system. It was kind of like Trump’s promises in reverse, though not as extreme. I considered Bernie’s proposals wonderful aspirations rather than realistic objectives, which is why I voted for Hillary. I also think she got a bad rap simply for being a woman and that many of Trump’s smears against her gained traction because of her gender. But like Trump’s core supporters, Bernie’s supporters wanted all or nothing. Bernie, to his credit, is reacting to Hillary’s laments by saying that we need to move on. Hillary admits her mistakes—using a private server and the unfortunate characterization of many Trump supporters as “deplorables” (even though they may be). As the first woman presidential candidate, she could not afford even one mistake, although the same ones would not have sunk a male candidate. Bill Clinton remains popular despite the Monica scandal and Trump has weathered bragging about sexual assault and even has a Russian “pee-pee” dossier, while any hint of sexual shenanigans by a female candidate would spell the end. (Probably some men vicariously enjoy male candidates’ conquests.) Maybe after she has gotten many of her justifiable but seemingly “sour-grapes” complaints out of her system with her new book and book tour, Hillary can just move on. She says she is through running for office. No doubt, she gave the presidential campaign all she had.

Sanders and Joe Biden, both older white men, might appeal to that same demographic, but neither appeals to me. And not just because they are older white men, rather from how they have conducted themselves in office, nothing objectionable, but also not outstanding in their many years in office in my view. Sanders may steering the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction, which may prove helpful, but I don’t see him as electable as president—he should keep his bully pulpit in the Senate. I thought John Kerry showed more nuance insight as secretary of state, but he doesn’t seem up for another run and his personality does not lend itself to a campaign for national office—too cerebral.

Anyway, it’s time for our first female president; we got cheated last time. How about some new faces like Kirsten Gillibrand or Kamala Harris, or even Elizabeth Warren, not exactly a new face, but quite a dependable and thoughtful politician? I like Tim Kane because of his long-ago service in Honduras. After Trump, we need more stability and predictability in our politics. With the last election, many of us couldn’t imagine ever Trump winning (even he was surprised and woefully unprepared), so those of us who voted for Hillary and were confident of her victory didn’t support her as vigorously as we should have in hindsight. Even those who were not enthusiastic about her are sorry now. The choice was between Clinton and Trump, not anyone else. In that respect, Bernie was actually a liability and a distraction because, while he appealed to many, especially young people, it’s hard to imagine him winning a general election, which is why I hope he won’t try again. Of course, he was also trying to steer the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction. He should put his efforts toward supporting the Democratic presidential candidate and the same goes for Biden. Michelle Obama is reportedly a popular figure, but she has expressed no interest whatsoever in political office and, in her case, her denial of any political plans seems genuine. She was apparently never keen about Barack’s political career, but supported him as a loyal spouse. Now, she’s done.

The Democratic Party has been encouraging members to run for office, even beginning at the local level. I was briefly inspired to consider it, but realistically, in such a heavily Democratic city as DC with so many younger and more energetic people eagerly seeking office, my efforts would not be missed. If I lived elsewhere, I might try running for something like the school board or other local office, as my many civic involvements would be in my favor. Even then, assuming I were successful, I would be in my dotage (if not there already) with few years left to move up the political ladder to make a more significant impact. Ageism would work against me, of course, also my being a white female in a city with a big African-American population, a little less than 50% for the first time in a long time, but still the predominate ethnicity, so I don’t have a good demographic political profile for this city. If Hispanics could vote, I might capture them by speaking Spanish. It’s all a fantasy anyway, as I’m bowing out of politics except as a voter and advocate for others. However, I’m getting tired of the constant on-line appeals for signatures and money to overcome Trump’s many bad policies and appointments from organizations we know little about and what exactly the money will be used for.  (Meanwhile, NPR is also fundraising. Help!)

Reportedly, most mass shootings this year have involved domestic violence, a man killing his wife, ex-wife, or girlfriend and taking her friends or family along with her. These events were not reported prominently in the news, mainly by being overshadowed by other developments. Unfortunately, background checks would not have prevented most of these guys from getting a gun, because they often got their guns before they became violently jealous or vengeful. There needs to be a way to have fewer guns in circulation, but I know that’s a heavy lift politically right now, especially with this Supreme Court.