Friday, January 20, 2017

Not new news?



   Quick!  Does anyone remember what happened during the first week of the new year?  It wasn’t another big winter storm or another actor or pop singer dying.  It was big news – the man-bites-dog type, as opposed to another dog biting a man.  Here’s a hint: it happened in Florida. 
   It should have been big news, and it should still be big news. That is, if this country, if not the world, made sense anymore.  Instead, when a man went on a shooting rampage and killed five people and injured eight others at the Fort Lauderdale’s international airport, the Los Angeles Times relegated the story to the bottom of the front page and called the incident “the country’s first mass shooting of the new year.”
   Think about that.  “The country’s first mass shooting of the new year.” This was only the first mass shooting in America this year.  This means there’ll be more mass shootings before long.  This means that there will be another mass shooting in the next several months and another one not long afterwards.  This means that more mass shootings will no doubt happen, that more mass shootings are inevitable – a matter of when and where, not if – that they will be no surprise, not big news. 
   The other night, I was watching the PBS Frontline documentary on how America became more divided during Barrack Obama’s presidency, leading to Donald Trump’s rise and election, and I was very much struck by one statistic: the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 18 young children and seven adults were slaughtered, was the fifteenth (and far from the last) mass shooting during the eight years when Obama was president.  No doubt the only reason it is still remembered is that all those little kids were killed, and yet, as the documentary pointed out, it didn’t result in stricter national gun safety legislation. 
   Perhaps all this shouldn’t be surprising.  Perhaps mass shootings no longer being big news shouldn’t be big news.  As I post this, the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States is taking place.  I am doing this instead of watching. Indeed, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.       

Friday, December 16, 2016

Breaks in the flow



   More and more, I find myself griping about getting older, saying that I don’t like it.  I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, since, at 56, I am no longer young, and this will be more the case.  What I tend to gripe about is being more fatigued, most likely more noticeable living with a severe disability, which takes considerable energy.  I also don’t like it that I’m having more health issues, whether they come from getting older or my Cerebral Palsy or, most likely, some combination thereof. I’ve realized I’ve been quite lucky in not having many such problems for so many years.   
   Back in September, I posted about “getting my penis back” when an internal catheter was removed after an incident of urinary retention, in which I felt no urge to and couldn’t pee.  This was the third time in 16 years that it happened.  It was a rare, bizarre thing that any urologist I saw couldn’t explain. 
   Well, I spoke too soon.  Less than a week later, I was eating my words and wasn’t urinating and had to go to the E.R and be catheterized, a traumatic and quite painful experience, as I detail in my September post.  This was most alarming, not only because of this but also because it happening just a month instead of years later meant it could happen at any time.  I couldn’t deal with this. 
   I had a real dilemma.  On the one hand, I didn’t want to worry about not peeing and then having to go through the experience of having a catheter inserted. On the other hand, having the catheter in is inconvenient, involving some more care and work, but it also means I can’t engage in any sexual activity, at least in a pleasurable way involving my penis.  It’s no fun when it hurts to have a hard-on! 
   I still have a catheter in.  Ugh!  No wonder I’ve been grumpy – as if the election wasn’t enough.  The urologist I’ve been seeing agreed with me that the retention is likely related to my C.P – a muscle spasm? – and referred me to a neuro-urologist at the USC/County hospital that I’m seeing.  I feel hopeful that he can find out what’s going on and how I can both not worry about peeing and have my penis back, so to speak, even as I’m nervous about going back next month for a scary sounding test involving tiny sensors. 
   No, I don’t like this getting older shit.  Then again, when I had the catheter replaced yesterday – they shouldn’t be in for more than a month – it didn’t hurt as much as before! 
  
   Perhaps in the spirit of getting older as well as the holidays, I’m taking a long winter’s nap.  I plan to resume posting by late January.    

Friday, December 2, 2016

Not time to go away



    It might not be time to celebrate, but now is the time to get out and strut our stuff.  Now is certainly not the time to go away and hide. 
   I certainly feel like going away and hiding, now that Donald Trump will become our president next month, now that he is picking his cabinet members and it becomes evident that he intends to undo most if not all of President Obama has accomplished (health insurance, environmental protections, climate change, consumer protection, etc.). And that’s just the start. 
   Yes, this is a tough time for Democrats and all who value fairness and justice.  Not to mention the truth, with the way Trump and his supporters rely on “facts” and “news” that clearly are not news and facts.  (And will Trump be president on Twitter and YouTube videos, not doing press conferences and interviews, where he can be questioned and held accountable?) It is very understandable that many of us are licking our wounds and feeling like giving up.
   It is hard to make sense of what is going on.  I had a hard time hearing Dolly Parton talking about remembering the Christmas season’s message of peace and love, when no doubt the majority of her fans voted for Trump, based on fear and anger.
   No wonder many of us feel hopeless and like going away and hiding.  No wonder there is talk in California, which voted overwhelmingly Democratic, of seceding from the Union. 
   But, for years, the people in the rural, northern inland part of the state, who voted for Trump and have felt ignored in Sacramento, have talked of breaking away from California into the State of Jefferson.  
   Those of us who feel like giving up and going away need to keep this in mind.  The State of Jefferson folks felt ignored and grumbled for years, and now, for better or worse, they have been heard. 
   We need to grumble now.  But that doesn’t mean going off into a corner and sit and grumble and whine.  No, we need to get up and make our grumbling heard.  And seen. This doesn’t mean sitting in the corner, and it definitely doesn’t mean whining.  Grumbling doesn’t mean whining. 
   For me, it means getting out even more, like I’m not supposed to do, being disabled. Not only that, but it means that, now more than ever, I need to get out with all my peace signs and rainbows and bright, true colors.  Now is the time to get out there all the more  in my pink overalls and my tie-dye. 
   Of course, wearing peace signs and tie-dye won’t accomplish what needs to be accomplished.  That’s certainly not what I’m saying.  But we should be heard and seen, loudly and clearly, in all our different, bright, true colors.  Or, more to the point, we shouldn’t be afraid to get out and be seen and heard. 
   Just like Trump’s supporters did. 
   And, besides, our tie-dye and pink overalls and rainbow peace signs are beautiful, prettier, more hopeful.  There was a quote recently in the Los Angeles Times from a man in San Francisco who, like almost everyone in the city, was upset about Trump’s victory: “When you are so angry, and you feel like doing something negative, the best cure is to do something positive.” He was applying adhesive tape to the multicolored sticky notes on which people had written messages after the election (“Discrimination is sin,” “Pray,” “Don’t lose hope”) and left on a subway wall.  The guy wanted to make sure the messages won’t fall off or get blown away.    

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Great Comeuppance



   It’s hard when someone says, “I told you so.” I know.  I’ve been feeling like someone has been saying, “I told you so.” Big time.       
   It’s even harder to get my head around the fact that, in just over two months, Donald Trump will be our president.  It is hard to believe that “the Donald,” a television celebrity who has never held any office and appears to know very little about what doing so involves and who has said horrible things about women and minorities, mocked the disabled, encouraged violence, bragged about groping women and lied about President Obama not being born in the U.S, among other things, was elected to be president, the “leader of the free world.” But Trump was elected, squarely if not fairly, winning the electoral college but not the popular vote, and he will be our next president come January 20.
   I thought it was bad when Reagan was elected president.  That was a Sunday in the park compared to this.  All the more so when we see the people, like alt-right promoter Stephen Bannen, who Trump is relying on for the help and advice he so desperately needs in his new position. 
   What is easy is to say that nobody saw this coming.  That is what everyone has been saying, starting with all the newscasters and commentators on Election Night.  There has been many articles and much chatting about how most people thought Hilary Clinton would win and how they all got it so terribly wrong.  Even Trump’s supporters and backers and even Trump, a bit like a deer in the headlights, are surprised. 
   Too easy, in fact.  It’s too easy to say this was all just such a surprise, a shock. 
   We should have seen this coming.  Especially us Democrats.  We sh
ould have seen this coming. 
   There were signs that this was coming.  Signs that were telling us.  Signs now saying, “I told you so.”
   Yes, racism played a role in Trump’s victory, with mostly white men – and white women! – voting for him. As graphically seen in Henry Louis Gates’ new PBS documentary series on African-American history, this is the same racism that lead to white flight and the rejection of racial quotas right after black power became a big thing. And the fact that it now turns out that most people get news – more to the point, news that they want, including fake news, like Hilary and Bill going to sex parties or the pope  endorsing Trump – from Facebook and Twitter was an issue. 
   But it was more than these and other related issues.  They are easy.
   Again, we Democrats should have been listening, should have seen what was going on. 
   As one friend said, Hilary should have been down in the hood.  She should have been taking $25, $5, whatever from folks, like Bernie did, instead of whining that she should be the first woman to be president as if it was her right and taking $10,000 checks from whoever was lucky enough to see her in Hollywood and on Wall Street.  This not only made Trump’s supporters and those open to him feel all the more forgotten and angry – on top of their resentment that others get help with their tax money, as I say in my previous post - and determined to vote for him, come Hell or high water.  Worse, it alienated the non-rich minorities and young people who were supposed to vote for Clinton and cut them off, leaving them with no reason to vote for her.  (I voted for Jill Stein, which didn’t matter here in dark blue California.) 
   No wonder the Donald is no longer a joke and will now be our president, the commander in chief, the leader of the free world.  Hell and high water may well coming, and we should have seen it coming.  Because, by not listening to those who listened to Trump, by not taking them seriously, we let it happen. 
 

Friday, November 4, 2016

It's not about Trump



   Next Tuesday is Election Day.  At this point, it’s turning out to be Y2K.2.
   Remember Y2K, when everyone was worried that the world would go out of whack or maybe even end when the year 2000 came? No one knew for certain if computers, which pretty much run the world as we know it, would switch over to switch over to 2000 or revert to 1900 or even 1000. There were dire warnings from agencies and institutions, and everyone was stressing out, writing up plans and stocking up on goods and supplies. 
  It turned out that all the warning and all the stressing was all for nothing. The calendar went from 1999 to 2000 without a hitch.  All our computers and all our devices switched over to 2000 with no problems to speak of. 
  I’d like to say that the bizarre, twisty, anything-can-happen presidential campaign, which has essentially been going on for nearly 2 years, will end up the same way with the final voting on Tuesday. The election will be over – finally! finally! – and our life will go on.
   But will it?     
   It is possible that the election won’t be over on Tuesday. Donald Trump hasn’t said if he’ll concede if Hilary Clinton wins, and he says he may contest the election if he doesn’t win.  It’s hard to say, however, if this isn’t just more of Trump’s blowhard self-promotion.  (There are those who argue that Trump doesn’t really want to be president – see his lack of preparation and research – that his campaign has just been a publicity stunt.)
   Or there are those who say the election will be too close to call, a la 2000 and the hanging chads in Florida.  This could get particularly hairy, with the 8-member Supreme Court evenly split. 
   The mainstream thought, though, seems to be that Clinton will win outright, although perhaps not by a landslide.  I’d like to think and I pray that this is what happens.  But even if this is what happens, it will be an uneasy victory. 
   This all may well not end on Tuesday, because, despite what he says and thinks, this election hasn’t been and isn’t about Trump. 
   This is obvious, because he has gotten this far no matter how vulgar, lewd and stupid he has been.  As he has said, he can stand in street and shoot people and still get votes. And why would a millionaire be so attractive to the blue-collar workers who are Trump’s core, die-hard supporte? 
   It really isn’t Trump that these supporters, primarily older white men, are voting for.  And they’re not just voting against Clinton.  No, they are crying out, angrily, in a world that is leaving them behind, that they don’t understand.  It’s a world that is no longer right and fair, where women can easily get abortions, where men can marry each other, where there are more and more restrictions on guns, where some people can not only get by but get ahead with tax payers’ help, where a black man, most likely benefiting from affirmative action and other such government help, can be president. 
   “I call it the pissed-off steel workers party.  A lot of people like someone who causes trouble,” a Trump supporter in Youngstown, Ohio, was recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times.  A lot of people are pissed off and want to stick it to the man.  Trump, who is just famous for being famous, is merely taking advantage of this anger and riding it. Trump is just these people’s vehicle, and, like rioters who burn down their own neighborhood, they don’t care if they ruin the country in expressing their anger. 
   Even if Trump loses fairly and squarely, with no doubts and lingering questions, there will be a lot of angry people.  Or people who are even angrier. 
   On the other hand, if Trump does win – God help us – there will be a lot of people who are not happy, to say the least.