Thursday, November 8, 2018

Halloween, Berkeley Springs, Migrant Caravan, Midterms


Halloween gave us a respite from national and world news. Halloween evening in Washington, DC,  was balmy, with lots of kids out and 

 Daughter Melanie with son Jonathan in Berkeley Springs, W Va.

Below, yours truly, with Jon on same visit

Did the American civil war ever end? It often seems as though it’s still going on. Trump is reviving the Confederacy! His main lament as he continued with his pre-election rallies was that the bomb packages and Pittsburgh synagogue shooting were distracting from him and his message, which seems to be to vote Republican to save him from impeachment. And while he made a perfunctory call for unity, he undercut it by saying “Now, aren’t I being nice?” His only response to mass shootings has been more guns and the death penalty. Americans are becoming almost numb to mass shootings. Who’s next? Does “the right to bear arms” trump the “right to life”?
We are all sitting ducks if we gather now in groups. You’d better believe that       Trump’s rally crowds are screened for weapons beforehand.

As weary migrants walk with their kids through southern Mexico, Trump has sent troops to the border to stop them from entering. Isn’t that overkill? More troops than migrants—and are the troops supposed to shoot them? Trump has equivocated on that. The migrants are still weeks and months away. I suppose Trump has sent troops now because of the midterm elections, anything to fire up the base. And he declares that Democrats and George Soros are organizing and funding the caravan—why would they do that at this crucial time? Maybe Trump’s supporters are actually funding and encouraging them—Trump himself is not, because he never spends a dime of his own money if he can avoid it—but he needs an excuse to play Commander-in-Chief  Other such Trumpian efforts are promises to give an additional tax cut to the middle class and do away with birthright citizenship, neither of which the president can do by decree. He acts like a dictator or a king.

Here is a summary about the migrant caravan, which seems to be a pre-election gift to Trump, but which, indirectly and ironically, may have been inspired by his rhetoric.

As it has every year since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution that called for lifting the U.S. embargo against Cuba — despite a U.S. move to put the focus on Cuba’s human rights’ record. The vote was 189-2 in favor of the resolution with no abstentions. Only the United States and Israel voted against it.
Before the vote, there was debate on eight amendments proposed by the United States that criticized Cuba’s human rights record and lack of civil liberties on the island. The amendments were all defeated by wide margins with only three delegations — the United States, Israel, and Ukraine — consistently voting for them. The Marshall Islands also voted in favor of one amendment.
Now that the midterms are over, Trump is moving aggressively to protect himself from the Mueller probe. He can veto any proposal to continue the probe that the Democratic House puts forth. This promises to be open warfare. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Migrant Caravan, “Fake News,” Get Out the Vote, Supreme Court, Senate, Saudi Arms Sales, Maine

We’ve all seen images of the Honduran/Central American migrant caravan, apparently spearheaded by opponents of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, which many dispirited and beleaguered Hondurans and other Central Americans decided to join. Some may have considered going north before, but moving along in a crowd offered safer passage than going it alone and certainly proved less costly than paying a smuggler. However, an effort to tap into the genuine grievances of caravan participants may have had the unintended consequence of giving Donald Trump a strong talking point just before mid-term elections in the United States, paradoxically threatening the very fortunes of asylum seekers should they actually arrive at the US-Mexico border. This may turn out to be an effort that backfires on its participants. The Central American migrant caravan comes at a very unfortunate time for the upcoming elections, giving Trump a big talking point. I hope they don’t reach the border before election day. 

Typically, Donald Trump is now blaming “fake news” for riling up his supporters and for inciting a rabid defender and faithful Trump rally-goer to send pipe bombs to his targeted enemies, bemoaning instead the possible impact on the midterm elections. Trump himself takes no responsibility for urging his supporters to “lock her up,” or to become physically aggressive with reporters or with women (‘grab them by the …”). Fake news, he contends, is trying to pin this one on him when he had nothing to do with it. As in the kids’ chant, “Donald, liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Trump has been saying a vote for a Republican candidate “is a vote for me.” But, I predict that if Democrats prevail in the mid-terms, he will suddenly abandon the most ardent members of his base to become more cooperative with Democrats. He’s an opportunist through and through. However, I do agree with him that prescription drugs are artificially costly in the US. I’ve been saying in my books that medications, including those made in the US, are actually cheaper abroad than in this country.

If enough voters go to the polls, then Democrats will carry the day.
Russians and others (the Chinese?) are back trying to boost Trump and thereby damage our country and our influence in the world. The US may also sometimes try to interfere with Russian elections, but probably less successfully, in part because of less internet use there. Also, the Russians have a lot of practice interfering and Putin has much greater control over domestic media. Trump only has Fox News here. It’s hard for some Americans to recognize or admit that they have been manipulated or duped. We see it also in everyday life. When presented with contrary evidence, people may cling even more tightly to their original stance, only too willing to label anything contrary as “fake news.”

In a last-ditch effort, Trump has been promising voters a “middle-class” tax cut when there is nothing on the table and the deficit is soaring, even as Republicans hint at cutting Medicare and Social Security.
While I consider that Brett Kavanaugh’s recent demeanor expressed during Congressional hearings indicates he lacks a judicial temperament, it may be somewhat unfair to evaluate his teenage conduct by today’s mores. When he was in high school, young men from well-to-do families were expected and encouraged by peers or even by parents to “sow their wild oats” before settling down to a career and marriage. Excess drinking and sexual aggression by youthful males were the norm. And probably even today, the angry older white male cohort so enamored of Trump grew up approving such behavior.

However, the Senate, which must approve Supreme Court justices and federal judges, is badly skewed in terms of citizen and voter representation since sparsely populated states like Wyoming and Vermont each have 2 senators, while populous California and New York have the same number. Worse yet, DC and Puerto Rico, home to more American citizens that either Wyoming or Vermont, have no voting reps in either chamber. So, our nation needs to fix these imbalances and get rid of the Electoral College to provide a more representative government, but the minority states enjoying advantages now are not likely to be swayed by arguments for fairness and would block any such efforts. While Trump and McConnell have bragged about how many judges they have appointed, including two Supreme Court justices, the Senate’s unrepresentative nature allowed them to block Obama’s judicial nominations, including one to the Supreme Court and then to gloat about it later.

McConnell has reportedly said that the “deficit is not a Republican problem.” Didn’t the Republican Congress and Senate push through a huge tax cut and an increase in military spending, signed by the Republican president, that led directly to this huge deficit? What about the promise that decreased business taxes would be offset by taxes on greater business profits? That never works. Once taxes are cut and military spending increased, it’s hard to pull back. Republicans may find it easier to increase taxes and cut benefits to ordinary citizens, some of whom are dumb enough to support Donald Trump and their party. And with the US labor shortage, how about reversing the shutting down of TPS and finally approve DACA, and also give legal residence to law-abiding long-term de facto residents. Deporting people who are already contributing will only add to the labor shortage. 

Hope that McConnell, Sanders, and the Trump family have all learned not to show their faces in public because they are not revered and respected, rather, ridiculed and reviled. Let them appear only at very carefully guarded and pre-screened rallies and on Fox News before the rabid minority who support them. 

The US should be a world leader and not sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a nation using them for inhumanitarian purposes, as in Yemen. Let others sell to the Saudis and be condemned by world opinion. Would we sell gas to Hitler? Trump and his underlings have reportedly advised the Saudis about concocting a cover up for their murder of Khashoggi. And while we are at it, we should immediately restore aid to the Palestinians to express a fair and even-handed approach to their needs and not turn the whole world, especially the Muslim world, against us. Finally, while Donald proclaims a love fest with Kim, the North Koreans are expanding and increasing the range of their nuclear arsenal right under his nose. Hey, Donald Trump, are you listening? No, the man is tone-deaf except for what he wants to hear. I agree with Putin that the US is suffering the effects of a whole series of “mistakes,” mistakes made mostly by Trump and his administration and supported by a supine Republican legislature. Some of the damage Trump has done may be irreversible and his faithful and small-minded voters bear the ultimate blame.

Was glad that Maine residents are experiencing a boycott after Sen. Susan Collins’ lame explanation for her vote to confirm Kavanaugh. While red state residents may tout their independence from “elitist” Democrats, outside tourist dollars are most welcome there.

As the midterms approach, it’s really scary to think that maybe the Democrats won’t prevail in either chamber. That would be a horrible disaster and could happen if Democrats don’t go out to vote. We in DC, a Democratic stronghold, as usual, will have no impact, thanks to Republican efforts over the years to stifle our vote. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Chili Peppers, Son Jon at Home, Surprise Contact, Socialism, Hurricane Volunteers, Belated Accusations, Asylum Seekers, Cuba

 A photo gallery here, myself with son Jonathan  in West Va., below Jon with sister Melanie.

Jon's younger son Kingston living with the family in Hawaii. 

Old train displayed at Martinsburg train station from where I departed. 

                                                               Jon's ukuleles

The yellow house we did not buy. 

Making apple butter at the Apple Butter festival, Oct. 2018

                                             Pig roasting at the festival, tasted pretty good.


Above and below, small-town parade images

Above, peppers growing from seeds planted by my departed Bhutan visitors, now bearing fruit. 

While I’m not very active on either LinkedIn or Facebook, sometimes those sites do yield a nice surprise, like an invitation I just got on LinkedIn from Dr. Hilda Molina, a Cuban neurosurgeon, once a darling of Fidel Castro, who then turned against her. She is profiled in my Confessions book (pp.163-66). After many international appeals, Fidel finally allowed her and her mother to join her son living in Argentina, where she now resides. She has now told me her mother died in 2013, but at least they had a few years together in relative freedom in Argentina. Dr. Hilda has started a human rights organization, and has written a memoir, Mi Verdad [My Truth].

Though Donald Trump has accused Democrats of promoting Venezuelan “socialism,” actually, what Democrats are aiming for is a more Nordic-style “socialism,” that is, a capitalist, competitive economic system along with high taxes and a safety net for everyone.

Under Trump, the US is abdicating its role as a global leader. Trump may turn a blind eye to global climate change, but it’s happening all around us anyway. It’s very appropriate that Puerto Ricans have stepped up to help mainland hurricane victims, reminding us all that they are American citizens as well.

It’s certainly true that back when Brett Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted a young woman (or several?), male sexual aggression was accepted, even encouraged and rarely reported, mostly because the blame would then have fallen mostly on the woman. It was a different era and ethos then, so it may be somewhat unfair for Kavanaugh to be judged by today’s (only recently accepted) “me-too” standards. However, as women, most of us never really accepted male aggression against us nor men’s supposed superiority, though many of us only rebelled internally and indirectly, and now feel that Kavanaugh’s accuser represents us all at long last. Maybe the accusations against Kavanaugh don’t rise to the prosecutorial level, but a Supreme Ct. judge should be held to a higher standard. That Clarence Thomas, already on the court for many years now, beat the rap doesn’t mean the same mistake should have been made with Kavanaugh. A taint will remain on Kavanaugh’s character, just as it still remains on that of Clarence Thomas. So many of us women who have had similar unreported experiences still side with the accuser. If Kavanaugh really did it and had come clean, then he might have been worthy of confirmation. He could perhaps simply have admitted, “I was not accustomed to consuming alcohol then, drank too much beer and really don’t remember everything. I am truly sorry if I scared someone and I did learn from my mistake as a teenager.” Unfortunately, that’s not what he actually said. His accuser Ford came off as very credible.

Certainly, in days gone by, male human sexual aggression was expected, even encouraged. “Me-too” is only a recent development. Also, testosterone, produced much more abundantly in male mammals including humans than in females, has a bearing both on male aggression and sexuality, as well as on physical strength. Male mammals often essentially rape females and males fight each other more than they fight females, or than females fight either males or each other. Of course, human men are expected to learn to control both aggressive and sexual impulses in ways that other male mammals are not, but we do need to recognize that such urges are surging in many young men in late adolescence, as demonstrated by the disproportionate arrests of youthful males. This does not excuse Kavanaugh’s behavior, if it actually took place. If the assault(s) did happen, he probably has moved well beyond that point by now. Both he and Ford seemed fairly sincere, so it boiled down to “He said, she said.” Still, if he did it and is lying now, he is not fit for the Supreme Court—or for any court for that matter. Also, his display of anger and righteous indignation was unbefitting of a judge, though many men may have identified with him. Certainly Trump did.

Like most women of my generation, I’ve experienced my share of sexual aggression, but in my day, we expected it, were resigned to it, and tried to avoid and stave it off, sometimes using face saving humor, as if sexual overtures were just a mistake or misunderstanding. For me, such incidents, while I do recall them, do not stand out starkly in memory relative to much larger stressers and losses in my life, such as the deaths of my boys, divorce, being laid off after 16 years, financial hardship, and my kids’ various problems.

The news business and book publishers have benefited greatly from the rise of Donald Trump, not to mention authors taking advantage of their connections to him. I dreamed the other night that I was leading a lost and befuddled Trump out of a cave—any symbolic meaning there?

Though merely an outside observer, I may as well also throw in my own 2-cents on Soon-Yi Previn’s belated accusations of having received less-than-maternal care from her adoptive mother, thereby apparently trying to undercut allegations of sex abuse against her now-husband, Woody Allen, accused by another sister of abusing her when she was a minor. Of course, both accusations or characterizations could be true, or both could be false or exaggerated, or only one might be true. And Soon-Yi may have had a different experience with and attitude toward her mother than did her siblings. Also to be factored in are the impact of Soon-Yi’s early pre-adoption life as a Korean orphan and her place within the large brood her mother was raising, perhaps risking leaving one child feeling insufficiently loved. However, in light of Allen’s sexual pursuit of young Soon-Yi herself, though she was by then no longer a minor, it’s not hard to imagine that Allen might have also sexually approached her sister at a younger age. Nor does Mia Farrow’s alleged maternal coolness negate what Allen may have done to her daughters, though a feeling of being neglected by her mother may have driven a youthful Soon-Yi into Allen’s seductive arms. Soon-Yi’s very belated accusations against her mother coming out now raise questions, though sometimes these matters do only come out later in life or in therapy, as apparently happened in the case of Kavanaugh’s accuser. Farrow’s other children have come to her strong defense. I’ve noticed among my friends how various members of the same family may have very different views of their relationship and of actual events than I have as an outside observer. In a very common occurrence, friends and other observers may be well aware of one spouse’s infidelity while their partner seems (or feigns being) blissfully unaware. Truly, truth is in the “eye of the beholder.”

I’ve already expressed my opinion that the Catholic Church, in addition to promoting “zero-tolerance,” should go further to prevent sex abuse among clergy by abolishing mandatory celibacy (allowing celibacy if freely chosen) and permitting married and women priests. Until the abuse problem is adequately addressed, I don’t plan on participating again with the church, except when visiting my son in WVa. or when in Honduras.
Had a recent interpretation assignment at a DC high school helping Spanish speaking parents communicate with their kids’ teachers. Most of these kids are fairly recent arrivals (just before Trump) now mastering English, alongside a few kids from French-speaking African countries. These students and their parents are used to large classes back home where rote learning is the norm, so they are pleased and surprised when each student here gets individual attention. But hanging over everything is the fear of deportation. I happened to ride home on the metro with one of the mothers, who told me of her anxiety and of having to hire a private lawyer to support her son’s asylum claim. She said she works in construction to earn more money than she earned before in food services.

Detained Cuban asylum seekers are contacting me right and left for help in my volunteer role as Caribbean coordinator for Amnesty Int’l USA. The Trump administration seems as eager to get rid of Cuban asylum seekers as it is to get rid of immigrants in general. Cuba seems to have faded from the international scene, especially after Fidel Castro’s death

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Phantom Flowers, New Household Member, Trump Parade Postponed, Truth?, Immigration, Amnesty International, Catholic Church’s Continuing Scandal, High-Profile Murders, Free Range Kids

Below is a red bud bush/tree in front of my house that normally has pink blossoms in the spring, but is now shooting up a white-blossomed branch, a little hard to see in this photo, very mysterious. 

Here below is my grandniece Samantha, recently arrived from California to study ballet here at the Kirov school, quite an honor.
Events surrounding her arrival have delayed posting of this blog.

Whew!! Trump military parade has been “postponed” (indefinitely?) thank goodness! What a waste it would be, what an egregious, vulgar anti-American display of militarism! Such a parade would have brought out a righteous avalanche of counter-protesters.

And if mainstream news reporting is so “fake,” let Donald show us just what exactly is fake about it. Name calling alone doesn’t disqualify information. Trump thinks he is still on his TV show The Apprentice where he could make outrageous statements and fire people at will. Let’s fire the guy himself ASAP before he does even more damage, then let the pundits and historians mull over all that went wrong. How to gauge how much of his errors and boorish behavior are Trump’s own fault? That’s always a question in judging anyone’s actions. The Donald may have been raised by flawed parents, may have had access to too much money too young, or may have dementia. So send him out to pasture to play golf and make angry speeches to his adoring followers to his heart’s content. Just stop mucking up the rest of the country and the world.

The latest version of the Trump administration’s “alternative facts” has been Giuliani’s “Truth isn’t truth.”

Now we have another unflattering, but credible, book about the Trump administration, but one read only by those who already agree with its finding, while hardcore Trump supporters will echo his own dismissal of it as “fake.”  Stormy Daniels is also throwing her own Trump memoir into the ring—why not rake in a few dollars while she can? Every president has detractors, but I don’t recall so many “anti” books and articles being written about another president so early on. And if the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, reportedly written by someone in his inner circle, is just more “fake news,” why is Trump getting so riled up about it? Trump’s saving grace is the good economy and job numbers, mostly not attributable to him, but very lucky, just as his election was a lucky fluke. The huge deficit and service cuts are worrisome but they have given the economy a short-term boost. If Hillary had been president, we wouldn’t have had the tax cuts, but she would be given credit for a good economy. And while I and many others would support the Dreamers and the expansion of legal immigration, of course there must be limits as no country or otherwise defined territory can just open its doors to all comers. But we don’t need to slam the door shut either, as seems to be happening now.

Another mass shooting, about which we are becoming blasé. Anyone who has a grievance, real or imagined, just takes a gun and shoots people and if our turn comes, that’s fate? Is that what the Founding Fathers envisioned in their statement that a “well-regulated militia” has the right to carry arms? Individual gun rights only appeared in our own lifetime.

Mr. Trump is tone-deaf on ethnicity, imagining that all African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians actually know each other. And he recently introduced a Hispanic ICE agent by saying that he “speaks perfect English,” which is more than you can say of the Donald. As for NAFTA, if Mexicans (and Canadians) have good jobs in their home countries, they are less likely try to come to the US, And Trump, the big champion of the American flag, in a coloring session with school kids, colored the flag with one red stripe and one blue one, something captured on-camera. Since when did our flag have a blue stripe?

We should be worrying now about the joint Russian/Chinese military exercises, but nary an official word is being said.

The guy complains about the “national disgrace” of the Mueller investigation, when the national disgrace is actually himself as our president. And he demonstrated his sympathy toward Nixon by referring to John Dean as a “rat,” saying that he hopes his own White House Counsel McGahn is not of the same ilk. He loudly declared on Fox that he would pardon Manafort to make sure the guy got that message but now it looks like Manafort may have “flipped.”  Trump has also been warning that his own impeachment would tank the economy. If any news outlet reports verbatim what Trump says and mentions the negative fallout from his remarks, he calls that “fake news” and “bias.” Is no one allowed to comment on the comments of the commander-in-chief unless they are actually praising him? Is criticism just the “deep state” attacking him? Republican incumbents, especially those running for reelection dare not alienate Trump loyalists, so they are in a bind trying to counter Trump on any ussie, even when their constituents are negatively affected—i.e. by tariffs.

Sessions and Miller are relentless, Trump backs them up, but on his own, he doesn't really know how to attack immigration. He doesn’t have strategies or plans of any kind, just slogans and impulses. His staff has to pick up the pieces. I’m not surprised that Trump and Sessions are feuding—a pox on them both! What a relief it will be for most Americans when Trump is out of office! We are all wasting time and effort on these senseless, spurious fights. I hope to live to see the day when he is gone, sooner rather than later. DC’s lack of Congressional voting rights hurts more than ever now.

8,000 new ways the Trump administration is undermining immigration court independence | The Hill 

How Trump is cracking down on legal immigrants – and how they are fighting back | US news | The Guardian

Yes, deported Hondurans (see link) really cannot go home again. Theoretically, they could start over in a completely new locale, but that takes resources and contacts they don’t have. Also, it’s a small country geographically and population-wise, so news travels. I’m a known person in much of the country. And I don’t feel safe either, but take as many precautions as possible and don’t reveal there that I am gringa unless I have to.

Trump does seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the Republican Party, requiring most incumbents or candidates to support him or quit. Republicans running for reelection dare not alienate Trump’s base by criticizing him. However, any hopes of his learning on the job have been dashed, as while Trump has learned a few superficial things, like how to read from a teleprompter, his learning curve is mostly on a downward trajectory.

Meanwhile, young insurgents seem to have thrived in the Democratic Party, which is one reason I think we need new faces in the 2020 race, especially as presidential contenders.

Preliminary 2020 matchups of Trump against possible rivals shows old favorites Biden and Sanders doing best, though, of course, Hillary Clinton also did well against Trump in 2016 polls and bested him by 3 million votes, so it’s not only a matter of the sheer number of votes under the outdated Electoral College system, but how they are distributed. While I would certainly vote for either Sanders or Biden if either were running against Trump (or Pence), I would prefer to see some new faces, even though currently they don’t have much traction. Democrats have 2 years to get into gear for the presidential race. Not that John McCain had control over the timing of his death, but now the Republican governor ph Arixona unfortunately had a chance to pick his successor.

Writing in the NYTimes, opinion writer Timothy Egan opines that Trump is eroding his own hardcore base not only by eviscerating Obamacare and imposing damaging tariffs, but by disrespecting them, as when he called AG Sessions a “dumb Southerner.” Let’s hope he continues to insult them.

If I were Mueller, which obviously I’m not, I would wait until after the mid-terms when there might be a better political climate for “Lock him up!”

While I oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh primarily on grounds other than abortion (though who knows his views on any issue as he has been very coy?), I don’t think sending thousands of coat hangers to female Senators is going to influence their vote. “Morning after” pills or self-administered early abortifacients, as well as more contraceptive use, mean there will never be a return to coat hangers and even fewer trips to abortion clinics. Even if Roe is overturned, early abortions will be self-administered and beyond the reach of any court—or so I would predict.

I’ve had a number of recent requests for help from families or friends of Cuban asylum seekers. Welcome to the club! Like everyone else, they will need to find pro bono layers to help them. I may be able back up their cases in general terms in court, but rarely would have information about a specific case in my Amnesty International role. (

Recent news reports have pointed to a possible Russian connection regarding the sonic attacks against US (and Canadian) Embassy staff in Havana, leading to reduction and shift of many embassy functions.

Here are some additional Amnesty International items about Cuba and other topics:

Cuba Frees Leading Dissident Charged With Attempted Murder

Cuban Dissident Says He's Been Released, Still Faces Charges

Amnesty International Turkey Chair Released from Prison

Amnesty International has asked South Sudan’s Kiir to release political prisoners, which he claims are just isolated cases,

Soon Nicaraguans will be seeking asylum in the US. Not only has Ortega overstayed his welcome once again as president, but a reduction in Venezuelan oil donations has hurt him.

The latest Catholic Church pedophile scandal not only is alienating me and many other Catholics, but reinforces my/our support—indeed, probably the support of most Catholics worldwide—for allowing married people of both genders to become priests. There is a serious priest shortage, so the pool would be expanded and marginal applicants would no longer need to be accepted. Additionally, while women can become sexual predators, it’s relatively rare. Finally, married people with other sexual outlets would be less motivated to prey on children and, as parents themselves, might feel more protective of kids and young people. A few married men converting from other Christian denominations have been allowed to become Catholic priests and have been well accepted by local parishioners Why not expand that? Of course, sexual predators must also be reported to civil authorities at the first offense, not protected. Pedophiles usually have a hard time reforming, but their chances of reform would increase if they no longer had ready access to young kids and sought future work outside the priesthood. The world’s largest, longest-lasting Christian church is losing major credibility and trust and is having to pay out millions in reparations. Is that what we contribute to in weekly collections? Pope Francis has taken some admirable stances, but he has not been able to get ahold of this continuing worldwide problem. Heard some of his remarks in Ireland—he was speaking in Spanish there. Sometimes, I’ve heard him speaking Italian or Latin.

Yes, an immigrant apparently killed the missing jogger (whether he was here legally is in dispute—he may have used a fake ID). His arrest is now eclipsing the arrest of an (unfaithful) husband who apparently killed his pregnant wife and two young daughters, then hid their bodies after making a TV appeal for their safe return. Assuming both guys are guilty, which seems likely, the murder committed by the immigrant will fuel more anti-immigrant sentiment, while that of the apparently unfaithful husband will not have great political impact. Can “love” or “lust” drive someone to the extremes this husband went to get rid of his wife and family? It’s happened many times. The man’s reputed lover is laying low. (Do apparent multiple murders by a border patrol agent mean all border patrol agents are murders? That’s Trumpian logic.)

And we are becoming used to mass shootings and the threat they pose to us all, the latest being six shooting deaths in Bakersfield, California. Is there nothing we can do as a nation to reduce vengeful and accidental shootings now and in the future? While people, not guns, kill people, if fewer guns were available, fewer people would have access to them to kill others, as has been demonstrated in many countries with stricter gun laws.

As a child, my siblings and I were “free-range,” playing outside all around the neighborhood with friends and only coming home for meals, especially during long summer days. Mostly, we lived in small towns or suburban neighborhoods, but I also spent part of my childhood in Latin America, where the risks were greater, but where I pretty much could come and go as I pleased, And my mother really never worked outside the home, so she usually was always there, but she didn’t hover. She had her own friends. Even though I raised my own kids in the city, they were basically free range as well, playing outside or going in and out of neighboring houses, and walking to school across busy streets, later traveling alone by metro to junior high and high school. Of course, all this only started at about 3rd grade, which would have made them 8 or 9 years old. My great-grandson, until he moved to Florida with his mother over a year ago, at the same age, would play outside in his former Virginia neighborhood or on my own street in DC, though he was at school or in afterschool care or sports practice during school days. Is giving kids freedom to roam risky? There is always some risk. How much freedom? Walking to the park, taking the dog for a walk? They could always have an accident or be abducted (the latter pretty unlikely, but it happens). Still. they do have to learn gradually to fend for themselves. Of course, to lose a child is unbearable—I know too well—but my losses occurred after they were already grown up. At some point, protective parenting has to stop, but just when is open to debate. It may depend on the particular child, though if you have more than one kid and treat them differently, that’s also a problem. Was being a parent ever easy? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Another Bhutan Visitor, Capitol Hill Robbery, Immigration Policy, 3-D Guns, Incorrigible Donald, Miller’s Uncle, Cuba, Purposeful Activity, “Socialism,” What’s in a Nickname?

           After my experience with 2 visitors from Bhutan, I was not anxious to have anyone else from that country, here I am with another young man from there, a law student—that’s how the internet grapevine works, see photos

    Too close for comfort: 

Passersby intervene after woman robbed near Capitol Hill     safety/passersby-intervene-after-woman-robbed-near-capitol-hill/2018/08/13/3186bcb8-9ebd-11e8-8e87-c869fe70a721_story.html?utm_term=.a5c971c539cf&wpisrc=nl_lclheads&wpmm=1

Good news that at least some 3-D printed guns have been detected by TSA screening.

Like a naughty child, Donald Trump seems to enjoy thwarting and contradicting his “handlers.” They say one thing, then in a tweet or rally, he says something completely opposite or off-the-wall. When staff are asked about his bizarre statements, they say he was just expressing his frustration or his opinion, not giving an order. They attempt to manage or ignore him. Even Melania is going in the opposite direction, though she does show up for essential photo-ops, as when shaking hands with Vladimir Putin, which obviously was distasteful for her. And Barron? Where is he? We used to see the antics of the Obama girls, but Barron doesn’t surface, not even at Christmas. No heart-warming father-son activities. But at least we live in interesting and unprecedented times, thanks in no small measure to Donald Trump, a source of constant surprise.  

Now Trump, his son, and his lawyers are tripping over their own tongues with conflicting statements about the infamous “Trump Tower meeting.” Mueller must be sitting back, just listening and watching.  

Donald Trump, who surely is down a few IQ notches, likes to brag about his great intelligence and to label others as “dumb,” “dumbest,” “not smart,” and “low IQ.” We would feel sorry for him under other circumstances.

It is especially frustrating for us here in DC, denied the vote, to see Donald Trump defining this country all over the world, ruining our international reputation as well as our life at home. That even a minority of fellow citizens support him is a disgrace. He embodies a political climate of corruption, lying (big time!), misogyny, bullying, name-calling (in the absence of substantive critiques), greed, and selfishness. All that it will take time and effort to overcome.  

Stephen Miller’s Uncle Calls Him a Hypocrite in an Online Essay (headline from the NY Times) Miller’s uncle points out that Miller’s own family includes immigrants and refugees as does Donald Trump’s family as well.

[A Cuban dissident we met with at the AI USA office during a visit here in DC]

Amnesty urges Cuba to allow access

to detained dissident August 10

HAVANA — Amnesty International says the leader of one of Cuba’s largest dissident groups has been held incommunicado for a week in the eastern part of the country.
The human rights group is calling on the Cuban government to allow family members of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia to visit him at a jail in Santiago de Cuba and let him hire a lawyer of his choice.
Amnesty says the leader of opposition group Patriotic Union of Cuba and his colleague Ebert Hidalgo Cruz were arrested Aug. 3 following a traffic accident involving a plain-clothed security official. It said only Hidalgo has been allowed a family visit.
Ferrer was among 75 dissidents imprisoned in a March 2003 crackdown. He was released in March 2011.

Cuba Charges Leading Dissident With Attempted Murder

The leader of one of Cuba’s largest and most active opposition organizations was charged Friday with attempted murder after being held incommunicado for a week in eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was charged with deliberately trying to run over an official from the ministry of the interior on Aug. 3, a spokesman for the group told Reuters by telephone. According to Carlos Amel Oliva, a member of the UNPACU leadership, the incident was an accident and the official was only slightly injured. Oliva said Ferrer, who does not have a driver's license, was on his way to visit his daughter with UNPACU member Ebert Hidalgo Cruz and had taken the wheel to practice driving when the official, in civilian clothing, stepped out in front of the car.

It’s a truism that life is an evolving project, an ongoing effort or struggle, a series of corrections, with a few moments of respite, bliss, achievement, affection, and comfort in between. There is no holy grail. I remember meeting a man once years ago through a dating website (a foray into a realm that I soon abandoned) who thought that if he looked long and hard enough through such a vast network that he would eventually find “her,” his true soulmate, his ideal woman. She was “out there” somewhere; it was just a matter of honing in on her. How could a guy in his 70’s, a former businessman and a father, twice married by his own admission, hold fast to such a notion? Already, his naïve belief made me scratch him off my list. We were both already senior citizens, so I wasn’t likely to change his mind (or have my own mind changed either).

Perfection in any person (one’s self included), place, or thing is impossible to achieve, no matter what definition of perfection is being used. That’s why Disney-fide senior living complexes offering non-stop “fun” in retirement—golf, pool parties, dances, movies—soon pall. Something that has stuck with me from years of working at the occupational therapy association is the importance to each of us of engaging in “purposeful activity,” however we may define it. We really don’t want to just stand still.

The absurd excesses of Mr. Trump and his administration have created a huge backlash of “purposeful activity” among citizens that I hope will bear fruit in the mid-term elections. Maybe there will even be an overreaction, as sometimes occurs. Some of the enthusiasm for “socialism” being seen now is, in my opinion, such an overreaction. There is also a false assumption that “socialism” is the economic system of Nordic countries. Not so, rather their economies are capitalist and profit-oriented, but taxes are relatively high and the government provides quality health and social services. It’s a trade-off that benefits the majority of citizens and most are satisfied with it. But it is hardly true socialism whereby the government owns and directs the means of production and controls all aspects of life.

Trump supporters accuse those of us who oppose him of having a personal grudge against the guy. Yes, we do feel offended by his statements and his style, but we also dislike his policies and appointments—it’s more than just the man and his personality, it’s what he is actually doing and fomenting that we oppose. And if Trump alleges that press reports are false, including transcripts or recordings, then he owes us, the voting public, an explanation. It’s not enough just to rail against “fake news.” Show us just how or why it’s fake. And while the nicknames he uses for opponents (often female), Wacky Jacky, Pocahontas, Dog Omarosa, and Crooked Hillary, may sound catchy to his followers, they are not very informative. And because Trump lies so much, it’s hard to recognize when he might actually be telling the truth.