Muses on a Cold Winter Morning

My writing efforts resemble my pickleball game performances. Brief flashes of brilliance mixed with plenty of unforced errors and faults.

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The experience of watching televised college and pro sports during Covid is like viewing a sitcom without a laugh track.

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Parler: politics = Pornhub: love

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So who stands “in the dock” for the various atrocities and abuses to our democracy and laws committed in the past four years? A number of Trump sycophants, enablers and officials, in a bid to salvage their reputations and careers, finally bailed out from the “Herrenvolk.” Nikki Haley, Bill O’Reilly, Betty DeVos, Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell, John Kelly, John Bolton, Mike Pence and many other Trump supporters are fleeing from Trump like Melania avoids child refugee camps.

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Rush Limbaugh’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is as appropriate as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarding Bonzo its Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Professional sports championships are generally decided off-season and by General Managers and less by players. College championships are generally decided in recruiting, less on the field or court. 

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How Trumpism mimics the coronavirus: (1) Can damage or kill the host (U.S.)  if untreated or unopposed. (2) Moves quickly through the populace through spreader (campaign) events. (3) Spurs denials by naysayers as to its existence and dangers. (4) Adverse after effects continue for many months (years) after initial contagion. (4) Mutates frequently posing additional dangers.  (5) Remedied by inoculation (election results).

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The biggest editors when many write are psychological, concerns for acceptance and approval plus the fear of speaking one’s mind and upsetting a career and reputation. How freeing to be retired and of advanced age when those editors are not as binding! While I still value the opinions of others, it’s more important that I move ideas and thoughts from my brain to screen, while I can.

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Tell me how many books and what you you read on a topic  and I can tell you how seriously I value your opinions on that topic.

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As I get older what has tragically declined faster than my physical and mental capabilities has been my decline in trust for most people to simply do the right things, especially when it comes to acting in the best interests of the nation, community or fellow man. 

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Donald Trump’s Putsch

Putsch- a violent attempt to otherthrow a government

Six Short Observations about the Trump Family Putsch:

  1. What struck me was that during maybe the most critical hours in our democracy, the Dow went up over 437 points and the S&P rose over 21 points. I guess insurrection and treason are now factored in by the markets. QVC and HSN were selling their wares on TV. People were still talking sports and all this happened with our nation’s Capitol, election system and legislators under siege by thugs.
  2. How could the District of Columbia, Congress, Secret Service, FBI and National intelligence agencies not anticipate that there could be a major terrorist attack in Washington this afternoon? Especially given that Trump and his family were speaking at a rally of his fanatic supporters who pledged to disrupt the Electoral College certification?
  3. What desks and offices were Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans hiding from Trump’s base?
  4. Joe Biden this afternoon said “America’s about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.” Certainly that was not exemplified this afternoon nor has it been the practice and behavior of the Trump administration for the past four years.
  5. First order of business for the congress men and women huddled together currently is to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President. Second order of business immediately after certification is to impeach and convict Donald Trump and remove him from office as soon as possible. I don’t care if they have to work through this all night.
  6. Waving a Trump 2020 flag after this afternoon’s terroristic attack is like waving a swastika to many Americans. Replacing the American flag with a Trump banner in the Capitol epitomizes the treachery of the terrorists and their disdain for our country’s democracy and history.

My Predictions for 2021 (12% Chance of Being 100% Right)

Everyone makes predictions though most people don’t document or publish them. People make predictions as to if and when it will rain, when the mail will arrive, whether the driver with the right turn signal on will actually make a right turn etc. One bases their lifestyle on spending based on their prediction of how the economy will do and the security of their job.

Many of my predictions are contingent on our progress or lack of regarding the Covid pandemic. Most “experts” are predicting that things will normalize by late Spring or early Summer. They are counting on most people getting the vaccine and a herd immunity taking place. I am not that confident given how so called experts whether they are doctors, scientists, Fox News hosts, U.S. Presidents and epidemiologists have not been very accurate in their projections and timetables so far.

I’ve polished my crystal ball and here are my 2021 predictions: 

photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas
  1. The vaccination rollout will be slower than projected and many (maybe most) adults will not get the vaccination. In addition, I think we are in for more unpleasant surprises and strains with the virus. I think that the rate of infections and deaths will drastically decrease by the beginning of summer 2021 but that another 600,000-700,000 American lives will be lost by the end of 2021 bringing the Covid death total in the United States to over 1 million.
  2. Next huge medical challenge is addressing patients experiencing long term effects from Covid infection affecting their quality of life. 
  3. People will still be reluctant to travel. Cruise line industries will resume voyages in fits and starts beginning mid summer 2021. Hotels and tourist destinations may regain 50-60% of anticipated traffic in summer 2021.
  4. Republicans will win Senate seats in Georgia even if they have to contest it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Another two years of legislative gridlock guaranteed!
  5. The stock market has factored in a full or almost full recovery from Covid. Expect some bumps along the way! What if the vaccine does not deliver the expected immunity or the number of adults getting the vaccination falls below 50%? Will people who got the vaccine go into stores, restaurants or other public places with those who refuse to get vaccinated? Hoping for a 5-7% increase in the S&P by year’s end but will not be surprised if it dives by those percentages.
  6. Expect some unusual drama or disturbances around January 20, Joe Biden’s inauguration.
  7. Contingent if Joe Biden is sworn in, expect that his three main priorities are organizing the fight against Covid relying heavily on Dr. Fauci and scientists; rebuilding alliances with our friends in Canada, France, Mexico and Germany; and providing additional aid and stimulus to small businesses and individuals suffering from the pandemic.
  8. No tax increases for anyone this year.
  9. A plethora of books, documentaries, articles and speeches will begin about the Trump presidency. Many Trump appointees, spokespeople and supporters will try to distance themselves from Trump to save their own reputations, careers and credibility. Their efforts at redemption will largely fail.
  10. Kansas City Chiefs will win Super Bowl again.
  11. Gonzaga is the best NCAA Men’s basketball team as I write. However they won’t win the NCAA title. Expect an “underdog” with 7-8 losses to come in and surprise.
  12. Expect limited seatings (30-50% capacity) for sporting and other entertainment events starting in Spring 2021.
  13. Eagles won’t trade Carson Wentz. Wentz will start for the Eagles in the 2021-22 season.
  14. Expect a fourth or fifth place seed for the 76ers in the NBA Eastern Division playoffs. If Kevin Durant stays healthy, it will be the Nets vs. The Lakers in the Finals.
  15. Crystal ball looks to a good playoff run by the Flyers; a dismal season for the Phillies.
  16. There will be more credible sightings and documentation of UFOs.
  17. Pickleball will continue to rise in popularity as more 30-40 year olds play. The drop serve rule will be permanent as it creates more drama (and aces) around the serve and return. 
  18. Pickleball singles will increase in popularity and singles matches will be showcased on telecasts and streaming services. Tyson McGuffin vs. Ben Johns is to pickleball singles what Borg-McEnroe was to tennis. South Jersey player Frank Anthony Davis is very competitive.
  19. The effects of quarantining schools and students due to Covid will be felt for decades. How many careers for scientists, entrepreneurs and researchers were lost due to the interruptions in education?

Last Thoughts for 2020

2020 has been extended for another six month at least! More Covid deaths, more lost jobs, more families unable to pay their rent, more people hungry etc. If only life could be handled by TV remote, we would be pushing fast forward to arrive at better and safer times.

Sending $600 to Americans for covid relief has about the same benefits as throwing under inflated life preservers to drowning people thrown overboard in raging seas.

If we distributed needed supplies, weapons and armaments to our military in World War II as expeditiously as we currently are distributing the Covid 19 vaccines to our citizens, we all would be speaking German and purchasing groceries in yen.

What if Joe Biden expressed “buyer’s remorse” about entering the White House? He could complain that he was unable to do the proper due diligence and inspection as Trump officials refused to provide him necessary information and background.

Everyone should have a dream of making someone else’s dreams come true.

Masks have become fashion, medical, cultural and political statements. While they hide the nose and mouth of those who wear them they also expose the character and judgement of those who refuse to wear them. 

Definition of Misnomer- a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. e.g. United States of America????

Why is it that content (podcasts, movies, music, websites, news shows, social media) is sandwiched between and among so much marketing and advertising? 

The Quiet American: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War—A Tragedy in Three Acts by Scott Anderson (A Book Review and Introspection)

“In this, the United States really had no one to blame but herself. By the autumn of 1956, she had shown her preference for a dictatorship over democracy in Iran and Guatemala. She had so thoroughly shred her anti-colonial stance of the Roosevelt years as to aid her European imperial allies in quelling independence movements around the world. Under the leadership of the Dulles Brothers, the United States had compiled the hit list of foreign leaders to be removed, by assassinations if necessary. 

Most shameful of all, in the tumult of the autumn of 1956, America may have lost the best chance it ever had to bring the Cold War to an early close, and to avert all the tragedy that was to come.”

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War—-A Tragedy in Three Acts (page 431)

I am used to having my assumptions and preconceptions confirmed when I read a history related book. Sure there may be some minor surprises and some gaps of knowledge filled but when I close most books, there are no major changes in how I feel, especially about our country. Not so with this book…

This book impacted my current thinking about American exceptionalism and honor or lack of as the Pentagon Papers changed my thinking about the Vietnam War and the U.S government when I was in my 20s.

I have always looked at World War II and its aftermath as possibly our greatest hours, based on my knowledge of history. “The Greatest Generation” won a war fought on two fronts and after it was over, helped not only our allies but our vanquished in rebuilding their countries. The United States was respected not only for our military might but also what we stood for, freedom, liberty and democracy.

However as I read Scott Anderson’s well researched and well written book, I realized that much of my thinking was illusion about American history between 1945-1960. 

The events within the book post-World War II were viewed by four different men involved in the U.S. intelligence community. They had different backgrounds, personalities, missions and roles but shared disillusionment with many of our foreign intelligence and policy efforts including: 

  • No or little resistance by the U.S. and Britain to Russia’s ruthless takeovers of Eastern European countries including Romania, Poland and Albania. (Churchill negotiated a secret deal with Stalin to precipitate this.)
  • Intelligence fails by General Douglas McArthur (Philippines invasion by Japanese,; North Korea invasion of South Korea; Chinese troops cross border to fight in Korean War)
  • In house political fighting by J. Edgar Hoover and others to control collection of foreign intelligence. Damage created by Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade to morale and recruitment within U.S. intelligence services.
  • Failure by U.S. and Britain to identify Kim Philby and others as Russian spies. Russia was aware of our atomic weapon secrets and espionage plans.
  • Various failures at insurgency within Russian satellite countries that were anticipated by the Russian KGB resulting in failed missions and tortured and killed agents.
  • President Eisenhower’s refusal to provide any aid or support to Hungary and Poland in 1956 when revolts broke out in both countries. His refusal to do anything resulted in the revolts being crushed by Russia (who were ready to agree to pull their troops from the satellite countries), with thousands killed and imprisoned.
  • Successful violent overthrows initiated by U.S. intelligence over democratic elected governments in Iran and Guatemela. Ramifications over these events still felt today.
  • Intelligence and strategic planning failures (including assassination of South Vietnam President) in Vietnam that precipitated our military involvement there resulting in tumult and riots within the United States after tens of thousands of American soldiers injured or killed.

Just as we are experiencing in our govenment today, there was a lack of leadership, moral cowardice, unbridled ambition, poor judgment and incompetency during the 40s and 50s. Many of the failures committed in foreign affairs then are repeated today. We started a war over “missing weapons of destruction” that were never found but which the Bush administration said existed.

I recommend the book to all no matter your political affiliation or ideology. Very well researched and written.

Requiem for a Lightweight

On election night, Trump in the Oval Office was in mid-tweet

When Mike Pence entered with a look of defeat

“Mr. President, bad news and I’m not lying

We are getting beat by Kamala and sleepy Joe Biden.”

Melania stormed in yelling, “I’m packed and ready to go

I hate this place, I even voted for Joe.

The White House staff and Secret Service are now happy and serene

No more worries by you infecting them with Covid 19.”

Trump flew into a rage and screamed “I did not lose.

This result will not stand, it’s only fake news.

Biden’s transition I will shortly abort

I’m contesting this election in every state court.

To not have another four years here would be a pity

I’ve changed this country, like I did Atlantic City.”

Melania and Pence shrugged and silently withdrew 

Leaving Trump to rant, pant and angrily stew.

Angry Trump supporters, now many in shock

Rushed to grab a Bible, flag and their glock

“Stop the Steal” they screamed as a raging mob

To threaten the lives of election officials who just did their job.

GOP cowards in Congress forgetting their constitutional duty

Supported crackpots efforts led by Rush, Hannity and Mayor Rudy.

300,000 Americans dead, nurses, hospitals and doctors overwhelmed

This is the nation we have sadly become.

Menckenians

Listed below are my “Menckenians,” my observations and aphorisms about politics, sports and life in general… It is a homage to H.L. Mencken who was a renowned columnist, writer and critic of politics, religion, culture and business from 1920 to 1950. His observations from almost a century ago can be applied today. He was that era’s Hunter Thompson, irreverent, caustic and cynical.

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If John Paul II can be canonized  a saint and Rush Limbaugh can be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, then Pete Rose can be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

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If a huge asteroid was hours away from devastating earth, Amazon would still be delivering orders, conspiracy theorists would be posting anti-science Facebook and social media posts, the S&P would rise 5% and Congress would be deadlocked in funding a military operation that would destroy the asteroid.

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If all our problems and issues could be tidied up and resolved just like all those at the end of a Hallmark movie.

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To document the decline in American “exceptionalism”, compare the behavior, sacrifice, leadership and patriotism of American citizens in 1942, after Pearl Harbor with our national leadership and citizenry today during covid.

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Are all Facebook friends, “friends?”

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I would not tell a religious person that there is no god with the same consideration that I would not tell a young child there is no Santa Claus.

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Alex Trebek worked almost to the moment of his death as host of Jeopardy because he valued education. Donald Trump has played golf, thrown Christmas parties and wasted money on ridiculous court challenges as thousand of Americans die from covid daily. Two men, only one worth the praise and support he is receiving.

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Does one become an author when one drafts and publishes a book or essay or until someone reads it? (If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound if no one is around?)

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Sin? Does it exist anymore?

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For Eagle fans excited about Jalen Hurts replacing Carson Wentz, I have the following words for you, A.J. Feely, Bobby Hoying, Mike Boryla, Koy Detmer..

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