Archive for August, 2020

DARKNESS AND LIGHT

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are competing to see who can turn the lights back on in America. Biden sees the nation engulfed in darkness. Trump sees Biden as darkness incarnate and said last night, he is “brimming with confidence of the bright future.” I think I see why.

Covid-19 has killed 180,000 Americans. Trump has taken terrible shots from Democrats and the media. His defense shines light on the obvious: He didn’t create the virus. China did. Maybe in a lab. That’s what some people say. Masks? America is all about freedom. We have a higher moral duty than containing a virus that eventually will disappear. The light at the end of the tunnel: A disproportionate percentage of the dead are Blacks, Mexicans and Native Americans. Whites, slated to become another minority around 2042, may extend their majority status as God intends. P.S.: Dead seniors reduce stress on Social Security and Medicare.

Weekly unemployment claims on August 20 again rose above one million. Public-health nutjobs shut down our economy hurting our workforce—and their survivors. Good news: Unemployment among Blacks rose from 6.1 percent in Q2 2019 to 16.1 percent in Q2 2020. Hispanic/Latino unemployment rose from 3.9 percent to 16.7 percent. But whites went from 3.1 percent to only 12 percent. (Source: bis.gov.) Real Americans did better than the minorities seeking to invade our suburbs and destroy the American way of life.

The City of New York and State of New York are investigating Trump’s businesses. Cut to the chase: Capitalism is about making a buck. If fake laws and regulations stand in the way, why should a capitalist knuckle under? Like reporting assets accurately or paying taxes. Losers do that. Our president wants Americans to be winners.

Steve Bannon, a former Trump advisor, is the latest Trump associate to be indicted. Wire fraud? Money laundering? What, you skipped the paragraph above? Maybe Bannon did skim a million dollars or more from a crowdfunding project to build a wall sealing off Mexico. No biggie. A beautiful wall will enable this nation to keep out the murderers and rapists the coronavirus doesn’t eliminate on this side of the border.

Jerry Falwell Jr., resigned as president and chancellor of Liberty University—sex scandal. Seems that the wife of this leader of evangelical Trump supporters had an affair with a pool boy in Florida. Falwell might have been part of a threesome—he liked to watch. Go to the light. A disgraced Christian reveals himself as the sinner we all are, asks Jesus for forgiveness and—maybe—is saved from hellfire. Everyone loves a prodigal son. Hallelujah!

“Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness Monster of the swamp.”—Donald Trump Jr. Off the top, a very dark thing to say about the Democratic candidate, especially from someone who on Instagram suggested that Biden was a pedophile. But think of the poetic imagery, the literary chops of perhaps the nation’s next poet laureate. Note to Junior: Everyone loves Nessie.

So get real. Donald Trump has been targeted by the forces of darkness with Joe Biden being “the destroyer of American greatness.” But Trump believes that “America is the torch that enlightens the entire world.” True that.

If we don’t burn our democracy down first.

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MY WIFE IS NASTY

When you’re married to a woman for nearly 51 years (September 4), you learn a bit about her. So I can say without hesitation, my wife Carolyn is nasty.

My wife is nasty because she’s independent. She thinks for herself. She insists on standing on her own two feet, not under my thumb.

My wife is nasty because she believes that racial justice is long overdue and that Americans must do all that they can to achieve it. Likewise, she supports the broad and varied LGBTQ community. Of course, Carolyn has her selfish side. We have a trans son and a gay son in addition to a straight son.

My wife is nasty because she believes in reason and science. She wears a mask when we go out. More, she sews them. She’s given out over 180. Our dining table hosts her ancient sewing machine—refurbished several months ago—and cotton cloth plus polyurethane for a lining that makes them quite effective.

My wife is nasty because she believes that women, as well as men, can hold positions of power and influence, up to and including the White House. She doesn’t insult men. Neither does she accept insults to women whose achievements are notable and add so much to every component of American life.

My wife is nasty because she believes that every American is entitled to healthcare. She gets it that this is essential to unlocking the full potential of every American and providing comfort to those whose means don’t match ours. That’s only natural, since like so many wives and mothers, she’s the family nurse, always there to provide assistance and insist that when it’s time to see the doctor, we go.

The Book of Proverbs lauds the eshet chayil—the woman of valor. “Her worth is far beyond that of rubies.” In the days of Proverbs’ writing, women’s and men’s roles were pretty much divided. The woman of valor was lauded for performing specific tasks connected to home and family. Yet the woman of valor also is heralded for a particularly important trait—giving generously to the poor (31:20). Advancing only her own family’s status and that of the wealthy never comes into play.

Above all, the woman of valor remains defined by the verse reading, “It is for her fear of the Lord / That a woman is to be praised” (31:30). The Bible, viewed in all its perspective and context, demands that a woman of valor adhere to the deep moral principles it prescribes. Lip service doesn’t cut it—for anyone.

Today, women and men share a great many tasks. Being home, where I write these posts and fiction, I do lots of cleaning, house chores and occasional cooking. Carolyn and my relationship has evolved with the times, not to lessen fear of the Lord but enhance it. We seek to create and maintain a real partnership, reflected in Genesis 2:24: “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.”

A woman of valor clings to her husband as he does to her but never surrenders her individuality. She champions honesty and kindness to everyone regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender preference or gender identification.

Carolyn truly is an eshet chayil. You can’t get nastier.

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ALL THAT GREEN

Baseball’s back. Whether the short season will be completed remains in question. But I’m less inclined to look to baseball’s future than its past for memories bigger than the game.

As a kid, I went to Yankee Stadium with my father Morris. I treasured sharing that time with him. Later I went with my brother-in-law Herb. Always a special thrill: the first sight of the field. All that green! After the game, we walked to the centerfield exit across the outfield. I stood in the same place as my hero, Mickey Mantle. As a teenager, still a sports lover, I saw athletes as people and gave up heroes.

I watched lots of Dodgers and Giants games on TV, at first on our nine-inch screen. My family went to several Giants games at the Polo Grounds. We saw a triple play against the Dodgers. My father took me once to see the Dodgers at Ebbits Field.

I regret rooting for the Yankees, who dominated baseball as Amazon does online retail. Like my Aunt Anne and Uncle Moe, who lived in Brooklyn, I should have been passionate about the underdog Dodgers. “Dem Bums” broke the color line in 1947. In 1955, they finally won the World Series—because they broke the color line.

The Dodgers and Giants fled to California in 1958. I was more into basketball. But when the New York Mets expansion team formed, I abandoned the Yankees. I loved the Mets’ disastrous 40-120 first season in 1962, even attended their second home game ever—April 14, Polo Grounds, 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh. I saw Marvelous Marv Throneberry, a mountain of a man, leg out a triple and be called out for not touching second base. To err is human.

At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I followed the Houston Astros. I went to the Astrodome and saw the San Francisco Giants with Willie Mays. I attended San Antonio Missions’ minor league games.

Moving to San Francisco in 1974, I rooted for my Bay Area teams. At Candlestick Park, former home of the Giants, box seats ran $6 or $7. Lots available. The Giants stunk. But you stay with your team.

I took the family to Giants games. We saw a triple play. In 1989, I took our oldest, Seth—baseball offered us a strong and needed bond—to game one of the World Series against the Oakland A’s. The Loma Prieta earthquake struck. The upper deck behind third base swayed as if it was part of an amusement park ride. We made it. Life, as I’d learned in the army, is fragile.

I’ve gone to spring training in Phoenix and MLB parks across the country. Baseball unites—at least temporarily—diverse Americans. No small thing.

My love of baseball—all sports—has waned. I do follow sports in the Chronicle and on TV. Watching games on TV involves five minutes of killing time.

Still, I look forward to more sunny afternoons at Oracle Park. When the pandemic ends—and it will—fans, including me, will return to live baseball to bask in the comfort of the familiar and reminisce. We need that.

And for those of us who live in cities—including me, two blocks from the Presidio National Park—we’ll still thrill in immersing ourselves in all that green.

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NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN NOR HEAT

The unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service long has been, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” What does? An American president hellbent on making a mockery of the Constitution and democracy.

Polls indicate that Donald Trump badly trails Joe Biden in this year’s presidential campaign. They’ve put Trump in panic mode.

His bungling response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic crash have turned a great many undecideds to Biden. More, the pandemic has emphasized the need to provide the option of voting by mail to all Americans.

Nothing new here. Voting by mail in the U.S. is common. Trump votes by mail. But our would-be Vladimir Putin condemns “mail fraud” and a “rigged” election. Translation: An election in which all citizens have a vote and so threaten to turn out the incumbent—by a wide margin. Even so, Trump just flip-flopped and “approved” voting by mail in Florida, a state ravaged by the coronavirus. Florida seniors—including Republicans—like voting by mail.

Does that make everything okay? Check out Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. A Trump henchman, he took the position three months ago. NPR’s Brian Naylor reported (5-7-20): “DeJoy has contributed more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund, and millions more to Republican Party organizations and candidates, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention.”

DeJoy almost immediately cut overtime and hours for postal workers to reduce the USPS’s multi-billion annual losses. How curious that he did so in the months leading to November’s election. Which imperils mail-in ballots. Counting votes beyond November 3—even if Trump appears to have been soundly defeated—will encourage Trump to negate election results and seek to stay in office. We could face a crisis worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Americans must respond. Vote? Of course. Before then? Support candidates—Congressional and state—opposed to Trump. And raise your voice.

Monday, I emailed—through their web sites—several important officials with this message:

Fifty-three years ago today, my buddy 1LT Howie Schnabolk, an Army medevac pilot, was shot down and killed. I write in his memory to urge you to do everything within the powers of your office to maintain every American’s right to vote in this November’s presidential election. This includes making available mail-in ballots to those who wish to use them, and advocating for adequate funding and monitoring the USPS to assure complete and on-time delivery.

As newly commissioned Army officers, Howie and I swore to protect and defend the Constitution. Howie gave his life for it. Please do all you can to uphold Howie’s memory and those of all Americans who died in our wars to protect democracy.

The recipients:

I’m not Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling. But cracks in our political firmament pose a clear and present danger. The ball’s in our court.

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