Within the Realm of Possibility

When I was a kid, my father often told me that anything is possible.

“Anything?” I’d say, incredulously.  To myself, I thought:  Even fairies and ghosts and Mickey Mouse and Cinderella and all that make-believe stuff?

“Anything,” he assured me.  “Perhaps not probable, but certainly possible.”

Well, it appears that my dad’s beliefs have been vindicated.  After all, the Cubs and Donald Trump each won their respective contests, the former by breaking the curse of the billy goat and the latter by breaking through the big blue wall.

I feel like a part of history in that I was here, in 2016, to watch it all happen.  I had a conversation with a bellhop at the Marriott Hotel lobby in Riverside, down in southern California, in which I bemoaned the fact that the Cubs were down three and that it would all be over that evening.  He told me that he still had faith, and I thought he was crazy.  Then I sat in the twelfth floor lounge with my wife and watched the Cubbies pull it off against the Indians.  And a few nights later, I sat in our tiny kitchen/living room and watched them win the World Series.  A couple of weeks after that, I again sat at our table, glued to the map displayed on CNN, open-mouthed, as Trump turned Florida and North Carolina red.

With such astonishing events occurring right before our eyes, I find it rather unfortunate that the world has responded by going crazy.  There are the demonstrations, the school walkouts, the cries of “not my president.”  I’m surprised that there weren’t riots in our major cities over Cleveland grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sadly, my own family has not been spared this insanity.  I am told that, the day after the election, my nephew was “shaking with rage” and had to stay out of work.  His sister, I was informed, was so upset that she had to take extra Xanax and stay in bed.  Supposedly, she and her boyfriend plan to relocate to his native England.

Then there is the matter of my wife’s aunt.  She had been very ill with cancer, and passed on a week ago.  We attended her funeral yesterday.  She had been relatively active until her body simply gave out just a few days before she died.  When she could barely respond anymore, a family member asked if she had deteriorated so rapidly because Trump had won the election.  She nodded her head in affirmation.

The family asked my wife and me to write her aunt’s eulogy, which we did.  I felt deeply honored.  My wife said she wouldn’t be able to get through the first sentence, so I delivered it at the memorial service.  Honestly, I didn’t know how I would get through it either.  I carried an extra handkerchief with me, not knowing whether I would be able to remain stoic or would just break down.  With the help of God, I managed it, once again proving to myself that things that seem outside our abilities can suddenly become possible when circumstances warrant.  In my opinion, Hemingway was being overdramatic when he referred to this phenomenon as “grace under pressure.”  I like to think that being flexible, malleable, adaptable is just part of the human condition.  That’s why it appears so odd to me that some of us can’t seem to wrap our minds around the fact that things may not always go the way we expect them to.  Some of us rebel against any evidence that contradicts what we “know.”

The Chicago Tribune may brashly declare “Dewey Defeats Truman” in 1948 and The New York Times may rashly declare, the day before the 2016 election, that Trump has only a 16% chance of becoming president.  Journalists point out that it’s easy to jump the gun when you’re on deadline, that our quest for knowledge and understanding may lead to buying into polls that don’t necessarily reflect reality.  But, as my dad said, anything is possible.  Those of us who root for the underdogs, who refuse to accept the inevitable, who bravely believe in the power to change, know that we have a secret weapon with which to beat the odds.

Hope.

 

 

Expats of the Red Carpet

Yesterday, I bid good riddance to the traitors who threaten to abandon our nation if their candidate doesn’t happen to win the election this Tuesday.  These miscreants need to go now.  I just didn’t realize how many of them they are.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a story today about the many celebrities who have vowed to the flee the country if Donald Trump becomes president.  That alone is more than enough reason to hope that Trump wins.  We have too many celebrities here already, don’t you think?  My bet is that Canada isn’t going to want them either.

Of course, not all of them plan on heading north of the border.  Some have plans to decamp farther afield.  A lot farther afield for a few.  Like away from Planet Earth.

Let’s make a brief list of a few of the places that may be the new homes of those who are so proud to boast of their lack of commitment to the country that made their success possible:

Canada:  Bryan Cranston (of “Breaking Bad”), Barbra Streisand (or Australia), Lena Dunham, Neve Campbell, Keegan-Michael Key, Raven-Symone, Chloë Sevigny, Amber Rose

Mexico:  George Lopez

Spain:  Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler

Italy:  Omari Hardwick

Australia (or maybe Canada):  Barbra Streisand

New Zealand:  Ruth Bader Ginsberg (or maybe not; but that’s what her late husband threatened)

South Africa:  Samuel L. Jackson, Eddie Griffin

Parts Unknown:  Whoopi Goldberg, Miley Cyrus (hopefully with her achy-breaky dad)

Another Planet:  Jon Stewart, Cher (don’t you think the two of them would make a lovely couple?)

Now, Barbra Streisand has a lovely mausoleum all set to receive her dead body in the same cemetery in which my maternal grandparents are buried:  Mount Hebron in Flushing Meadows, Queens.  Perhaps she can pay to have it hauled off its foundation and onto a northbound flatbed.

What would be really unfair would be if Babs became a Canadian citizen and then had her dead body carted back to New York City for burial.  Then again, I suppose there is some justice in having her spend eternity in the hometown of Donald Trump.

 

 

Traitors Can Just Leave Now

Now that Election Day is upon us here in the United States, I will repeat what I wrote in this space months ago:  Like it or not, Hillary Clinton will be our next president.  Personally, I don’t like it, but I am an American and I accept the mandate of the majority, even when I find myself in the minority.

If you voted for Donald Trump, sorry, but every election has a winner and a loser.  Those who backed the winner may feel smug or elated; those who backed the loser may be devastated.  I say good for those who backed the winner; those who backed the loser will just have to get over it.  We’ll all have to get used to it and get back down to business now that the dog and pony show is over.  That’s how our democratic system of government works.

As for those who have vowed to relocate to Canada if Mr. Trump wins, I say do us all a favor and just leave now.  The fact that he has lost this election has nothing to do with it.  What if he had won?  I say to those who are unable to accept the will of the people, to those who are unable to accept the election of the duly nominated standard bearer of one of the two major parties, that you are not only sore losers and crybabies, but also un-American.  Those who can’t deal with our system of government when it doesn’t happen to go their way should do us all a favor and decamp for some other country that they think does it better.

Oh, and don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

Tuesday is Election Day.  Get out there and vote, folks (whoever you support).

 

Sorry is Not Enough

black ribbon

I’m one of those voters who used to be known as a “bleeding heart liberal.”  Despite the fact that the world’s gone insane, I am unable to harden my heart to the pain suffered by others here in the United States and around the world as the result of senseless tragedy.

When I was young, it was the downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007.  Five years later, it was Pan Am Flight 003, known as the Lockerbie air disaster.  The former has been attributed to remnants of the Cold War, the latter to international terrorism.

Then disaster reached our own shores.  There were the school shootings, starting in the ‘90s with Columbine.  Then came the horror of my native New York City being torn apart at the seams.  After 9/11, I thought I’d seen it all.

Sadly, we picked right up with the mass murder at our schools.  Virginia TechSandy HookUmpqua Community College in Oregon.

This year, freedom of the press and freedom of speech came under attack with the Charlie Hebdo murders.  Then a jet full of vacationers returning home from the seaside is bombed out of the sky over the Sinai.  And now terror in the streets of Paris.  At least 132 dead, 77 survivors in critical condition.

Here in northern California, as everywhere else, we are far from immune.  You may not hear about the “little” local tragedies, but they arguably affect our communities even more than the major events that occur thousands of miles away.  This time last year, a couple from Utah drove into town and went on a rampage that included the killing two of our police officers.  Earlier this week, we locked the doors against the sirens that wailed throughout our neighborhood.  A few blocks away, there was a robbery, shooting and hostage-taking.  The SWAT team came out, and some streets were evacuated, residents being sent to the local elementary school to wait it out.  Then, Friday night, a local high school football player was killed in a drive-by shooting about a mile from here.

Tragedy, large and small, seems to be a fact of life in modern times.  There are days when I think that all we can do is be there to support those left to pick up the pieces, from emergency personnel to the families of the victims.

That, of course, is the bottom line.  Don’t let the steady stream of violence, tragedy and disaster in the news inure you to the real costs of these events to our society.  For every horror that you learn about on TV, in newspapers or online, there is a community that will never be the same again.  Remember that every victim is someone’s daughter or son, brother or sister, mother or father.

I thought about this while watching the debate between Democratic candidates O’Malley, Sanders and Clinton on Saturday evening.  The basis of our Western civilization tends to be reactive in nature.  We believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, that everything will be alright — until it isn’t anymore.  However, going through tragedy after tragedy ad nauseam begs the question of whether it’s enough to merely be reactive.  Perhaps I need to change my mindset that all we can do is be there to mop up the mess.  Perhaps the time has come to be proactive, to say hey, we’re sick and tired of this and we’re not going to take it anymore.  To realize that it’s time for our leaders to be proactive instead of reactive, to prevent those intent on terrorizing the citizens of the world from committing their murderous deeds.  It is heartening to see France taking forceful steps in this direction.  It is encouraging to see Germany offering the full assistance of its military resources.  And yes, we here in the United States, along with the rest of France’s allies, must do our part to help with the effort.

If we can’t pull this off, we will remain right where we are today, stuck in a time warp where all we can do is send condolences to the mothers and fathers who have just lost their children and to the children who have just lost their mothers and fathers.

Not being a military man, I don’t know what this will involve.  But it seems that it must start with improving our ability to obtain critical intelligence.  And so, presidential candidates, at the next installment of the debates in December, I’d like you to point out which one of you is up to the challenge.  Some are saying that Paul, Trump and Sanders lack the fortitude to do what it takes.  I must add Clinton to this list, who proved by her mishandling of the Benghazi crisis, that she falls woefully short of what Hemingway referred to as “grace under pressure.”

I already know that all of the presidential candidates, Democrat and Republican alike, are very good at showing up at the scene of tragedy and saying “I’m sorry” to the families of the victims in a heartfelt sound bite.

“Sorry,” however, is no longer enough.

#prayforparis

Tomorrow:  Consider the turkey, a bird well esteemed

NaBloPoMo 2015 Logonanopoblano2015dark