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Christmas Chronicle 2016

December 2016

Dear Friends and Family,

Leonard Pitts

This will be the most un-Christmas-like letter you will ever receive. Because, sorry to say, I don’t think we have much to celebrate on this, our No. 1 holiday in the United States. Why? We, as the electorate, have voluntarily chosen to regress decades with our political picks in November, doing great harm to our well-being as citizens of our country and the planet Earth. We have sacrificed our values on the altar of ideology, of partisan politics, allowing the incessant drumbeat that government is evil to drown out voices of reason. We have chosen to be our leader a man described by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts as “an awful person,” who, besides having no government experience, lacks common decency, and has dedicated his life to two related things: money and power. A lesson from history comes to mind: the Roman empire.

Regretfully, I do not bring you tidings of great joy. By now, some of you may have decided to tear up this letter. And that’s precisely why we all are in this predicament. Too many have closed minds, unwilling to engage in rational discussion while discarding facts that conflict with their concept of reality. They have taken positions based on emotion, stemming from their influences growing up: This is what my parents believed, or these were the predilections of the people in the community, region or state where I was reared. If you really keep informed and support what works rather than succumbing to emotion, you are dubbed an elitist.

And that is the problem. People who educate themselves, striving to eschew bias, about the issues important to us individually and as a nation are dismissed for their views. We want instant gratification from politicians who offer simple solutions to complex problems, so we don’t have to think. And those solutions are found with Fox News and the radio talk shows of the right – or should I say, of the wrong. A man like Donald Trump comes along, and by God, he’s going to make our country great again. And if you weren’t feeling bad about the country before, you sure as hell do now. The supposedly terrible state of the union is pounded into the heads of listeners relentlessly until we believe that anything would be better than the status quo.

And what is that status quo? Let’s see … job increases every month since mid-2008 to a long-time low of 4.6 percent unemployment; stock markets at their highest levels ever; the economy growing sufficiently to prompt the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates; 20 million people previously denied health insurance now covered, with rates for the big majority reduced while those with increased rates granted subsidies; no devastating domestic terrorist attacks … These are just cursory observations by someone who makes no claims to being an expert, just an observer trying to be impartial. Yes, it’s been the slowest economic recovery on record, but it’s happening, and speeding up, despite the fulfilled promise from Republican leaders that their No. 1 priority was – the betterment of Americans’ lives? Not quite. The failure of Barack Obama as president. They did their damnedest, obstructing him in everything he tried to accomplish. But these cretins couldn’t get it done. Sure, they prevented him from stimulating our economy with greater spending on infrastructure, but that wasn’t enough. Now, we have a guy who’s big on infrastructure spending, and the Republicans will switch their tune and make him a hero by cooperating on spending to create jobs, which will give the economy a shot in the arm. How in God’s name can people be blind to what is happening here?

Good luck, Trumpists

Well, any such progress will be transitory. As Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote for the New York Times, “The white working class is about to be betrayed.” The evidence, he says, is in Trump’s choice of “an array of pro-corporate, anti-labor figures for key positions.”

Okay, at this point, forget about Trump’s huge, unprecedented conflicts of interest in his massive business holdings across the globe. Put aside the lawsuits – one commentator said there were dozens – in which he’s embroiled. Ignore the fact that he is a crook who’s stiffed countless people who provided services for him, and was forced to settle a class action suit for defrauding thousands with his Trump University. Set aside his juvenile – that is, childish – mocking of a handicapped person, displaying that his social development stopped before he reached puberty. Disregard his vehement lashing out at anyone who criticizes him, especially the press, which he will try to squelch in his ambition to be a strongman who subverts democracy. Don’t be concerned that he declared man-made climate change to be a hoax, despite the position by 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists, the ones persuaded by facts rather than religion or ideology,  that it’s real and is on its way to destroying the earth. Dismiss his racist stance against immigrants and blacks, and his mistreatment of women. Don’t worry about his bellicose threats against nations we’re not friends with – except, of course, Russia, whose leader he admires as a strongman who suppresses democracy and hacks government computers in the United States to help him, Trump, get elected. This doesn’t bother you if you’re a patriot, concerned more about our nation than partisan politics. Ahem!

Why give him mulligans on these issues? Because the country already did when it voted for him in sufficient numbers to win the electoral count. It’s a little late for switching.

Paul Krugman

No, what has selfishly worried me the most, as an older person, is what he plans to do with Medicare and Social Security. His pick of Rep. Tom Price for secretary of health and human services makes Trump’s plans transparent: privatize Medicare, and then Social Security. Price has been a staunch opponent of Obamacare and proponent of Medicare privatization, which will make insurance for seniors more expensive. He’ll have enthusiastic support from House leader Paul Ryan and many others in Congress.

Bye bye, health coverage

“This choice probably means,” Krugman wrote, “that the Affordable Care Act is doomed – and Trump’s supporters will be among the biggest losers. Republican talk of ‘repeal and replace’ has always been a fraud. The GOP has spent six years claiming it will come up with a replacement for Obamacare any day now; the reason it hasn’t delivered is that it can’t.” He explains that people must be required to sign up if pre-existing conditions are to be covered, and they won’t sign without subsidies to make the insurance affordable. “What the choice of Price suggests is that the Trump administration is, in fact, ready to see millions lose insurance. And many of those losers will be Trump supporters. They’re about to receive a rude awakening.”

Oh, you say, but Trump is going to bring back those manufacturing jobs that have been lost over decades. Really? Huh-uh. As Krugman notes, “Those jobs were lost mainly to technological change, not imports, and they aren’t coming back. There will be nothing to offset the harm workers will suffer when Republicans rip up the safety net.”

But look what Trump already did in Ohio, standing up to Carrier in getting it to reverse plans to ship 730 (he claimed it was 1,100) jobs to Mexico. In fact, he bribed the corporation, which is what he’d have to do to other corporations wanting to go overseas for jobs. At one of those per week, Krugman says, “it would take Trump 30 years to save as many jobs as President Obama did with the auto bailout.”

Friend of the common man? Ha!

The bottom line, the economist says: “Millions of Americans have just been sucker-punched. They just don’t know it yet.”

Well now, how would you like to hear a little about what Bob has been up to the past year – other than making political mischief? Not in the mood? Okay then, before I leave that subject, I’ll entertain you further with my account of trying to save the nation by getting red state electors to change their pledges on Dec. 19, and make somebody else, almost anybody (John Kasich, preferably), president. The Democrats handed us a lousy choice, I readily concede. But she’s a grown-up and has a hell of a lot of governmental experience, and almost three million more votes and climbing. A member of my writers group provided a list of the electors and contacts for most, and we sent an email letter to all as a group and some individually, asking them to do what’s good for the country. Ain’t gonna happen, but you have to try.

The lawsuit by three of us authors against our crooked publisher (I seem to be obsessed with crooks) keeps dragging on. It began in February, and is supposed to be very close to resolution, but that’s what I’ve been hearing for months. Meanwhile, I put out a second edition of the novel MURDER IN PALM BEACH: The Homicide That Never Died, changing the cover and resequencing a few early chapters for ease of reading. I did this in March, after the publisher ignored my requests to order books for scheduled signings. I wouldn’t have had any for my terrific trip to Iowa in June for a great high school class reunion and a book tour, and for myriad other appearances. The two editions kind of screwed things up with Amazon, but the Kindle (ebook) has been faring pretty well. The huge challenge is drawing attention to your book amid the 30 million others on Amazon. It’s a marketing morass that makes inordinate demands on my time and temperament, and has me spending money. I’ll soon launch a short book of short stories as a free, “lead magnet” to draw readers to my paid book.

The complex marketing efforts have put a temporary stop to work on my next novel, which is about 60 percent finished. I don’t even have much time to chase women, though I plan to devote more attention to that pursuit in the new year.

Pray that I’m wrong — for my sake.

Sorry to sound so depressing, but we need to gear up for the reality that will hit us. I sincerely hope that I am wrong about all of this, for my own benefit if for no other reason. I would be pleasantly surprised, because for me, this is not the Miami Dolphins against the New York Jets, my team versus your team. Maybe in two years, people will have come to their senses, and those in power will be hit with a groundswell of opposition. I’m sure that would make my California brother, Del, feel better. He seriously planned to leave the country with wife Laura, but some practical consideration forced him to reconsider. I’m wondering how many will in fact make that move.

If people do ultimately realize the huge mistake they made, I just hope they remember what it was like, and not shrug it off the next time, as they did the awful setback our nation suffered from 2000 to 2008. Of course, not all have forgotten it. The harm inflicted on them and their families by their service in Iraq will be with them forever.

Merry Christmas and

the happiest New Year

you can make of it.

Bob  (alias Scrooge)

#PaulKrugman #JohnKasich #NewYorkJets #strongman #RepTomPrice #SocialSecurity #DonaldTrump #MiamiDolphins #AffordableCareAct #FederalReserveBoard #MurderinPalmBeach #TrumpUniversity #Carrier #RomanEmpire #Medicare #Obamacare #climatechange

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