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Happy Holidays?

Bob’s Christmas Letter 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

I do not bring you tidings of great joy. The Miami Dolphins just lost their chance to make the playoffs due to the worst decision possible by the coach in paying $10 million for a  has-been – nay, a never-was – quarterback.

Oh, you don’t like the Dolphins? Okay, then I bring you tidings of great joy.

But those tidings are not worth much in the larger scheme of things. I realize that it’s bad form to grouse about what the future holds during a season of optimism and goodwill. Ya gotta Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, as the dreamer of a white Christmas told us via song in decades past (for the youngsters, I refer to Bing, and I’m not talking cherries; but then, you’re hearing him ad infinitum in the shopping malls these days).

There is goodwill, and then there is bad will. The two are clashing at the moment, with our political milieu gaining the upper hand over goodwill. Let’s cut to the chase.

I’m staring at an entry in my Webster’s New World Collegiate that is defined thusly: (1) morally bad or wrong; wicked; depraved; (2) causing pain or trouble; harmful; injurious; (3) offensive or disgusting; (4) threatening or bringing misfortune; unlucky; disastrous; unfortunate; (5) angry, irritable, disagreeable, etc. Figure out what the four-letter word is? I’ll give you a hint: It’s “live” spelled backward.

Except for those among us who are ridiculously rich, our lives may be heading in reverse as a result of evil that permeates our federal government. “Sad” is a word our undear leader throws around in condemning everyone and everything that doesn’t attest to his deluded view of himself as a god to be worshipped above all others. But in this situation, that word applies inversely, for it is indeed sad to realize that a large percentage of our nation’s population supports a president who fits every definition of the word “evil.”

The latest Monmouth poll had Trump’s approval at 32 percent, but a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has him at 41 percent. How in the name of logic and pure common sense is it possible that anyone other than multi-millionaires and billionaires could regard this man with anything but revulsion? The buffoon’s abominable character was obvious before he was elected, but he has progressively shown it to be much worse. He has revealed himself as a scam artist, a huckster, lying about virtually everything that comes out of his mouth. He so desperately craves approval that flattering will get our adversaries everywhere, putting our country in grave danger. On the other hand, he viciously attacks anyone who doesn’t suck up to him. He threatens nations that don’t kowtow to him, worsening relations with them and risking nuclear war. Seventeen women have accused him of sexual transgressions, yet he is unscathed while two prominent members of Congress have had to resign over their inappropriate behavior. Even the pedophilic Roy Moore was penalized by voters, though Trump and most Republicans in Congress backed him. Trump has degraded the office of the presidency.

He is about to sign a tax bill devised by a Neanderthalish GOP Congress that, according to most economists and the nonpartisan congressional scoring entities, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressonal Budget Office, will give big tax breaks to the ultrawealthy to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars (that’s for each person), put more than $1 billion (that’s with a b) in Donald Trump’s wallet, and leave a few hundred bucks, at best, to the rest of us. At the same time, it will raise the debt by almost $1.5 trillion over 10 years, before which time we slobs will be paying more in income taxes while the wealthy continue getting breaks. Republicans argue the deficit will be offset by economic gains because of the huge reduction in the corporate tax rate, which experts say is a proven fantasy. GOP congressional leaders have frankly said that upcoming cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be necessary. We ordinary folks’ pocketbooks are about to be diminished in order to make the rich richer. Oh, yes – estate taxes on the superwealthy will be reduced, too. If all this isn’t immoral, the dictionary is wrong.

But the most loathsome part of this is that Trump’s biggest support comes from the group you’d least expect – evangelicals. The man who flouts every tenet of Christianity is favored by born-again Christians. It makes a mockery of the faith. They apparently think Christ would find it preferable to dictate sexual orientation to gays, force the births of unwanted babies who usually aren’t cared for, and permit prayer in the schools (didn’t he say we should be praying in the closet?) over treating people with kindness and caring for the needy.

Aside from Trump’s moral bankruptcy, there is another reason he shouldn’t be president, i.e., he is staggeringly incompetent and unfit for the job. Case in point: He just agreed to recognize Israel’s claim of Jerusalem as its capital, with no conditions, instead of negotiating a deal by which Netanyahu would be required to stop building settlements in the West Bank, thereby advancing the peace process. He could have been negotiating trade deals with China as head of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, but bowed out of that consortium, handing the leadership to China. “Think of the leverage we lost,” wrote the New York Times’ Tom Friedman. Calling Trump a “chump,” Friedman said he already knows the title of his next book: The Art of the Giveaway. Trump prefers spending time on the golf course, thus costing us Palm Beach County taxpayers money to make sure the lout is safe, to studying the issues. He pays no heed to intelligence reports, instead bashing the dedicated people of the FBI, and disparages scientific research, notably that involving the effects of climate change. He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, the only country to do so, leaving leadership in that critical category, as well as in trade and diplomacy, to other nations. He is pushing our country backward many decades.

Trump’s bashing of the press, our bulwark between totalitarianism and democracy, is succeeding with gullible, unthinking members of society. It’s obvious he’d like to be a dictator. He worships heads of government who quash the press and wield total control, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose quest for power supersedes humanitarian interests, is making a fool of him.

I just hope that our country survives this appalling presidency, which may be aborted by revelations of his collusion with Russia in influencing our election and/or by feminist demands that he resign because of his record of abusing women.

Okay, you say, but a Christmas letter is not the appropriate forum for a political diatribe. Agreed, but I think the survival of the country is more important than the pedestrian affairs of yours truly. The message here: Come next November 6, go to the polls and throw the bums out, then wait for the eviction of the Clown-in-Chief, unless it’s already happened.

Now for a delineation of Bob’s 2017 highlights. I have so darned much going on that, when people ask me if I’m still working, I reply that I’m working harder than when I was working. Authoring books is a full-time job in itself, but marketing them makes the task overwhelming at times. With 10.25 million ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle, and about 40 million print books on Amazon, no one knows about your book unless you can draw attention to it. I’m not good at cartwheels or handsprings anymore, so I have to investigate countless marketing strategies, which cost lots of money and time. It’s all due to Amazon, which makes it cheap or free for anyone to put out a book, with a resulting deluge of junk by people without writing chops.

My current book, Murder in Palm Beach: The Homicide That Never Died, has done relatively well with sales of around 1,300, considering that most books sell no more than 75 or so. Books that are traditionally published usually do better, and I had such a publisher, but he turned out to be a scoundrel, so I put out a second edition myself, which is when sales increased. One of his authors, a retired attorney, initiated a lawsuit that I and another author joined, and we won a few months ago. The judge terminated our seven-year contracts and awarded us damages and attorney fees, which we’re trying to collect. The man was using the Social Security card of a person who died in 1997. A debtor’s exam hearing is set for early January.

In the midst of the enormous frustration I experienced in dealing with that sociopath, I worked on my third novel, which I completed a week ago and am close to finished with editing. Had contract offers from two publishers to take over publication of the Murder novel, but I backed out because I’ve already done most of the promotion work and don’t want to share the profits. Instead, I’ll submit my new novel to them and other publishers in the expectation they will then latch onto the Murder book, as well, and maybe even the book of short stories I put out: The Way It Was: Short Stories and Tall Tales.

Had cataract surgery in the spring. I now can tell from a distance whether a woman is beautiful and sexy, which is a good thing. However, I was hoping it would allow me to put the glasses away. Huh-uh. I’m using one pair for computer work and another for other reading, and have rolls of toilet paper and a bottle of household alcohol strategically located for use in cleaning the continually smudged spectacles.

Speaking of alcohol, I use the get-happy kind to treat my diabolical vocal condition, which has me sounding terrible. At least I can still run sprints, do squats and leaps, and pant through 110 pushups at a pop (okay, so I cheat a little). For the tremor, I’ve tried everything – except marijuana. Actually, I even tried that, but only the cannabidiol oil from it. Doesn’t work. However, a small amount of evidence shows the real McCoy, with the psycho-active THC intact, may work. I plan to try it – as soon as I get registered for medical marijuana use with the state and pay a doctor hundreds of dollars for a prescription. I don’t want to smoke the stuff; will take a supplement. Another treatment, ultrasound-guided laser, which burns a pea-sized spot in the brain (geez, that’s almost my whole brain) is quite effective and spreading across the world. The cost? $32,000. I’ll try the grass, thank you.

In November, my good friend Joe Disser, aka Indiana Joe, and I drove to St. Petersburg to check out the little arts community of Gulfport on St. Pete’s southern tip. A word about Joe: He’s even older than I am, but unlike me, he’s got a new girlfriend. Anyway, Gulfport turned out to be prosaic, and I wouldn’t want to live there. St. Pete is looking pretty good, but downtown Tampa is booming. And the boom has just begun. A $3 BILLION makeover is about to get underway in three phases over 10 years. We drove by the port, and five humongous cruise ships were docked. Ybor City teemed with partyers on a Saturday afternoon. We’re going back in a few months. I have the wanderlust again.

Now comes the part you’ve patiently been waiting to hear. I’m getting married.

No, no, just kidding. I’ve got even better news: This letter is finished – finito, das Ende, the end.

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH, and

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

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