Predictions for 2018

Many who have suffered through the last 12 months thought it was a pretty bad year but eventful nonetheless. Perhaps historic. But 2017 will be nothing when compared to 2018. Here are my predictions:

  • January. On January 2, Trump tweets that by executive order the capital of the United States will move from Washington, DC to Mar-a-Lago effective immediately. Republicans will be provided free room and board at the resort. Democrats will fend for themselves. The President states in his prepared remarks, “This is beautiful and incredible, and if I can change the capital of Israel, I surely can do it here!” Pence praises Trump as the greatest president to ever live. Nicki Haley announces the U.S. is pulling out of the U.N. and forming a new international body called the “United Alliance,” consisting of all of America’s allies and friends—Honduras, Guatemala, Togo, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Israel. She says all other nations are officially black listed. Trump praises Haley, saying the move is long overdue.


  • February. In a long-anticipated move, Trump orders the firing of Robert Mueller, who is removed from his office in handcuffs. Assistant Attorney General Rosenstein objects and is fired immediately and jailed. Trump appoints Roy Moore to replace Rosenstein, and Moore immediately cancels the FBI investigation stating, “There never was a spec of evidence showing the Russians had anything to do with U.S. elections. Period.” Pence applauds the move, tweeting that Trump is the greatest president to ever live. Moore is promoted to attorney general replacing Jeff Sessions, who is hospitalized following an opioid overdose. Trump appoints David Duke, Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, to replace Moore as Deputy Attorney General, stating in a nationally televised address that Duke has been misunderstood and actually represents “the true values of America, the best we have.”


  • March. Ginsburg retires from the Supreme Court. Trump nominates Moore, who is confirmed along party lines using the reconciliation process. David Duke is promoted to Attorney General to replace Moore. The stock market reaches one record high after another as the American public experiences the enormous tax savings to the middle class, about $200 a year average for those making under $60,000 a year. Pence tweets again that Trump is the greatest human being “to walk on the face of the Earth.”


  • April. Trump achieves what some have described as his only foreign policy achievement by swapping the Atlanta Hawks (record 8-25) professional basketball team for Kim-jon-Un’s entire nuclear arsenal. Tillerson is fired and replaced by Dennis Rodman as Secretary of State. In an unrelated move, Putin purchases the Charlotte Panthers from owner Jerry Richardson, who is forced to sell the team because of allegations of sexual misconduct. Putin announces he is building a   new football stadium in Moscow, which he is calling Trump Stadium in honor of “ his close friend, the American President.” Pence tweets that Trump is a man “with Messianic qualities.”


  • May. By executive order Trump declares that climate change is a hoax and that the EPA will be repositioned and rebranded as the “Environmental Production Agency.” All national parks will be sold immediately to corporations, which Trump says now have “money to burn because of so many beautiful and incredible tax savings.”


  • June. Trump proposes a bill, which passes along party lines declaring the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and the New Yorker as fake new organizations and orders that all fake news organizations be closed and reporters of fake news be jailed. Joe Scarborough is arrested immediately. The law is upheld by the Supreme Court as being constitutional, and Roy Moore, who cast the decisive vote, praises Trump as the greatest man to ever live. Pence calls a press conference to say he loves the President more than Roy Moore does.


  • July. With Trump’s support, Congress passes along party lines a “Total Entitlement Reform Act” which eliminates Medicaid, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicare, and replaces them with a Trump Card. The act does not state what the Trump Card actually does. The CBO predicts that the act will eliminate the entire deficit in 25 years. Paul Ryan declares this the “greatest victory of all time” and immediately calls for more tax cuts to help the embattled one per centers, “who are unfairly stuck with footing the cost of government.” When Trump’s popularity sinks into the single digits, the President declares public opinion polls illegal and all opinion researchers are subject to arrest. Pence again weeps with joy in public when trying to express his love for the President.


  • August. Trump tweets that all DACA recipients will be arrested and jailed immediately and be relocated into what formerly were Trump luxury hotels in “heavily Democratic big cities and in hostile countries around the world where occupancy has fallen off.” Trump proudly tweets that the hotels have been repositioned and rebranded as “penal resorts” and that the DACAs will love living there. He also announces the completion of the Border Wall, which has been secretly under construction since January using forced labor from all of the United States’ friends and allies– Honduras, Togo, Guatemala, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and political prisoners from Israel. The cost to the U.S. tax payer is described by newly appointed press secretary, Nancy Moore (wife of Roy Moore), as zero.


  • September. Trump tweets that his policies have resulted in unemployment dropping to a “negative 10 percent,” which means that 110% percent of the American population willing and able to work are working in full time jobs.   The statistics are supplied by the new “Truth Agency,” created by the Trump Administration and criticized by Democrats as a “fake agency.” Trump tweets that this historically low unemployment is ” a beautiful, incredible success” and final proof that at long last he has made America truly great again. Elected and unelected rulers in Honduras, Togo, Guatemala, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Israel express their congratulations. 


  • October.Trump unexpectedly resigns on the last day of the month. He has not been seen publicly for several weeks and tweets that since he has made America great again, there is nothing left to be done. He expresses confidence in his successor, Vice President Pence, who is sworn in at midnight. Trump immediately departs the capital of Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One with his family en route to Russia where he will reside in the new “Trump Palace” located next to the residence of Vladimir Putin.


  • November. Pence becomes President. In a address to the nation he states that it will be almost impossible to follow someone so great, so good and so “Messianic” but that he is up to the job. He tweets, “I am not a lackey. I am not a lackey. I am not a lackey. And also I am not a lap dog.” Congressional elections are completed, and despite Russian intervention, Democrats win enough seats in both the House and the Senate to retake control of Congress.


  • December-January. On New Year’s Eve fourteen #metoo women bring charges against Pence as a perpetual sex offender. Several days later he is forced to resign in disgrace, tweeting, “ I told you I was not a lackey.” The new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is sworn in as President. The new Congress repeals all the laws and regulations passed by Congress under Trump and votes to rejoin the UN. The capital moves back to Washington. Fake News reporters are released from prison. “Morning Joe” comes back on the air. In Russia Trump reveals his tax returns, tweeting that he has become the richest man on the planet. Putin is number two. The New York Times, now back in business for the first time since June, notes that that the tax returns also show that the year before he was elected, Trump did not even make the richest 1,000 list.


So it is on to 2019….The NBA team, Korean Hawks, starts the year in first place in the NBA. The Democratic-controlled Congress appointments a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, to investigate how Trump made so much money during his  18 months as President. Democrats breathe a long sigh of relief. Republicans swear to oppose everything. Life goes on….

Christmas 2017

On the way to the Metro this week I passed by three homeless people sitting on the sidewalk in front of the stores in the Cleveland Park shopping district with hands outstretched. When I arrived at the Metro, over a dozen fire, police and emergency vehicles were parked around the station. Two firemen emerged with an empty stretcher when the elevator door opened. When asked about what was happening, one of them responded, “Somebody jumped in front of a train.” Someone standing behind me grumbled, “Seems to happen every Christmas season. Someone is all the time jumping in front of a train. Why always at rush hour?”

I have since learned that suicide is not more common over the Christmas season though for many it seems so. (Spring is actually the preferred season for suicides.) What is true, however, is that for a lot of people this is a down time, not a happy one. It is a time of depression, not joy. This is attributed to a number of factors—“Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD “ is often cited since Christmas is close to the shortest day of the year with the least amount of light. SAD affects a lot of people including me. The holiday also tends to exacerbate loneliness and isolation for people who have no family or few friends or places to go and celebrate. I noted this week a large, hand-drawn sign on a McDonalds, “Open All Day Christmas.” For many a Big Mac will be their Christmas dinner. For others Christmas is a time of stress. There is too much activity and too much going on– buying presents, preparing food, just trying to make it through. Christmas is, as they say, a mixed bag.

This is especially so for people brought up in the Christian faith but who no longer feel part of any church or religious group, for whom the story of Christmas no longer resonates, and who themselves may be having a tough time in life—a divorce, loss of a spouse, poor health, broken relationships, a lost job. The list is long.

I count myself among the fortunate. Almost every year, Embry and I have been able to celebrate Christmas with the families of both of our children and being together (this year  at the home of our son, Andrew and our daughter-in-law, Karen,  in Maplewood, NJ) is both special and spiritual. Watching our four grandchildren ages 8-12 interact is by itself “worth the price of admission.” There is usually a Christmas pageant, carols, and various games and stories. So for us it is a blessing. But still I can’t help thinking about those who are having their Big Mac by themselves on Christmas Day.

And where exactly does Christianity fit into the picture? If there is one religious celebration that is more secular than sacred, this is it. But does a secular Christmas mean necessarily that it is not religious? Can Christmas actually be a sacred day for people who do not go to church or who do not call themselves Christians? Actually, I believe the answer is yes. In my advanced age, more and more I tend to see our experience here on this planet as a shared human experience. We humans are all born and we all die. We have a pretty short time allotted to us to make the best of the hand we have been dealt. We are all trying to make sense out of our lives, why we are here, and what it all means. We do not always admit this, and often these questions lurk under the surface, but I believe asking these questions is part of what it means to be human.

And this is where religion fits in. It is one way we humans try to connect with something mysterious and profound that we experience rarely but enough to let us know that it is real. Religion is what gives us a pathway for affirming that this planet and this vast universe around us are not the result of random chance and without meaning but are here for a purpose. We call this purpose and this force behind it the Divine or more common, “God.” There is, I believe, one Divine, one God. I also believe that no religion has an exclusive connection to the Devine. One destination. Many pathways.

One of these pathways is the Christian faith. What the Christmas story is all about is this: That God is not inaccessible and unreachable but is right under our noses. It is not about making money, being famous, or powerful. The Devine in the Christmas story is expressed in the form of a baby born to a poor, unmarried woman in the humblest of circumstances. It is about sacrificial suffering and about love and living a life for others. Perhaps most of all at the time of the Christmas season, it is about hope in a world where people throw themselves in front of trains, and eat a Big Mac alone on Christmas Day.




Lessons Learned From The Alabama and Virginia Elections

Are the Dems on a roll? Alabama and Virginia are quite different–Alabama a hard core, deep red state and Virginia purple, trending blue– but the results show some common trends, which are all good news for Democrats. Here are my takeaways:

  1. Yes, Trump is really bad, and a large majority of the country has pretty much figured it out. There is no question that a significant number of voters in both states (predominately women) cast their votes against what they see happening in the White House and in the Republican Party. The good news here is that people are realizing what a disaster the Republicans are creating. The word of caution is that registering a protest vote is not enough by itself to carry the Democrats to victory in 2018 or 2020. And it is also took a Roy Moore to move Alabama from red to (barely) blue. Democrats aren’t likely to get that lucky again.
  2. Besides the I’ve-had-enough vote, there were four things that in my view made a big difference:
  • In both states the Democrats ran a center-left candidate, without glamor or charisma, but with tangible decency. This I believe is really important in determining the kind of candidates that can win in purple and light red states and congressional districts.
  • In both states—but especially Alabama– turnout from African Americans and other minorities made a huge difference. As many African Americans voted in 2017 in Alabama as they did in 2008 and 2012 when Obama was on the ballot. In Virginia they also played a big role. Voter turnout of minorities is important—especially in states and districts where the minority population is high. Democrats had a strong get-out-the-vote effort in Alabama targeting black voters, and it worked.
  • We could well be entering what might be the political era of the woman. More women vote than men, and they are, frankly, more open minded, tolerant and repulsed by male chauvinism and sexual harassment (which unfortunately is not limited to Republicans). Many believe the #me too movement is ushering in a sea change. A huge percentage of women voted for Jones over Moore, including white women living in suburban neighborhoods that historically voted Republican. This also will be a factor in selecting candidates in 2018 and 2020. The number of women expressing an interest in running for office is skyrocketing.
  • The other key voting group are the Millennials, people born between (roughly) 1980 and 2000. They are now the largest voting cohort in U.S. elections and lean Democratic. Again voter turnout of this Demographic group will be extremely important in 2018.
  1. There has been much discussion over the revolt of the white working class in the 2016 presidential election. The results of the Virginia and Alabama elections suggest that the Democrats did not make any significant inroads with this voting block. In these two states, Trump’s hard core base seems to have stuck with the Republican candidate. What this shows is that the Democrats can win without this demographic group if the party nominates strong candidates not too far to the left, allowing Democrats to capture more of the huge suburban vote—especially moderate Republican woman voters and independents.

This does not mean that Democrats should write off the white working class vote . Democrats should have a message of reconciliation, job and wage growth and economic fairness and propose policies which benefit this group. The party does not have to and should not dumb down its message or pursue social policies which appeal more to them.

In summary, these two elections are reason for optimism for Democrats like me, but we have our work cut out for us. It is not clear how the tax act will fit into the picture, but I do not see how it can help the Republicans. The big takeaways from the two recent elections are strong, authentic candidates, not too far to the left, and voter turnout, voter turnout, and voter turnout.


Taking Stock In The Season of Hope and Peace

In just over three months I will turn 76. That is a fairly long time for a human life on this small, blue planet. I have been blessed by so many things—a strong marriage to a strong woman, a loving family and inspiring children, four extraordinary grandchildren, great friends, pretty good health, a fulfilling career, and never having been in a situation where I have had to worry about having enough money to get by. I have been affirmed and supported by others. In short, though I have had my ups and downs like all us humans and have made my share of mistakes, I am deeply grateful and have nothing on a personal level worthy of even a whimper.

Yet I am worried.

I am worried because I feel in my bones that we as a nation and as a planet are entering a perilous time. Sure, we have been through tough times before— a civil war, two world wars, the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War. Certainly we have a sordid history in the U.S. with slavery, Jim Crow, racial discrimination, and class and social inequities. Human suffering is as much a part of the human experience as is our living and breathing. Life has never been easy or fair.

But somehow the times we are in today seem different.

So here is what frightens me as we end 2017.

  1. We have a President totally unfit to lead us through the challenging times facing us. Much has been written about him, and many know the picture—borderline illiterate, questionable intelligence, incessant TV watcher addicted to right wing talk shows, narcissist, dictator tendencies, unstable, and possibly mentally ill. His main obsession appears to be to erase everything that could be considered an Obama legacy. I believe that he is far more dangerous than we can even contemplate.
  2. We are closer to a nuclear war right now than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and we do not have John Kennedy at the helm. We are told that North Korea probably has around 50 nuclear weapons, and we learned this week that Kim Jong-un is well along in developing chemical and biological weapons. He falls into the category of a Stalin, Hitler or Mao; and if he is pushed against a wall, many experts believe he will use the weapons he has. If he thinks he is going to be destroyed, he will take a lot of others down with him. He has nothing to lose. And here we are talking millions of “others.”

There was a very interesting piece in Sunday’s Washington Post about how a nuclear war could start by accident such as a South Korean commercial airplane accidently drifting into North Korean airspace and mistaken for a U.S. bomber. It would not be the first time that a major war started by accident or false information. Think World War I and Iraq War 2.

  1. The climate issue is a ticking, time bomb. The 2017 massive hurricanes and the California wild fires are just a taste of what is to come, we are told by experts. Just wait until we get a three foot rise in sea levels. There is some good news on this front as the world is waking up to this threat and beginning to take positive action. But not the U.S. Donald Trump and many of his advisors are climate change deniers and are rolling back the climate initiatives put in place under Obama.
  2. Unrest continues throughout the planet. As I write this, there are uprisings in Palestine and a terrorist bombing in New York City. War continues in the Middle East. We have made progress fighting ISIS, but trouble still simmers.
  3. Our country is more divided than at any time since the beginning of the Civil War. Virtually no major legislation passes on a bipartisan basis, and the two political parties agree on very little. You hear “man on the street” interviews bemoaning that both parties are equally to blame. Being a loyal Democrat and committed progressive, I disagree. But some would say that I am just another example of the problem.
  4. Huge domestic issues face the U.S. We have decaying infrastructure. Public schools and public education are struggling. For many housing is unaffordable, and we are just about to see 13 million people lose health insurance. When the tax bill becomes law, we are likely to see the income disparities increase with the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. Racial inequities continue, and hardly a week goes by when you don’t read about a white cop shooting an unarmed black man—often a teenager. Confidence in public institutions is at an all time low, and major institutions like mainline Protestant churches are on the decline.


This is why I am fearful. (And you could probably add a number of other fearful things to the list.) I am not so fearful for myself as for my children and my grandchildren. Our generation is leaving them with a ton of challenges.

But I do not totally despair and to a certain extent I am hopeful. Younger people seem to get it and are more likely to address these issues better than my generation has done. And I keep reminding myself, we actually have made extraordinary progress on some issues—especially on issues related to sexuality. Embry and I attended a gay wedding last week and it seemed as routine and natural and joyful as any conventional wedding ever was. This would surely not have been the case a decade ago. The “Silence Breakers” and “#metoo” movement is a long overdue happening and could be a sea change in the U.S. and even world culture. Despite resistance from the Trump Administration and die-hards, U.S. culture is becoming more diverse and inclusive. And we did elect an African American President not too long ago, and he turned out to be one of our best presidents ever. Good people are on the front lines working on improving education, health care, affordable housing and are helping people in so many ways. 

On the whole we are a generous nation. Also our country is remarkably resilient. We continue to lead the world in technology and innovation.

The pendulum swings back and forth. We are in a dark time now. We will come out of it. I certainly hope and pray that that will be the case. But it won’t happen in a vacuum. Each of us has a responsibility to do what we can in our own way to make the world a safer and better place. The stakes have never been higher.

So this is my take on where we stand as we enter the season of peace and hope when we Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.

The future is very scary, but this is also a time for hope and for action. I thank God for all my blessings and pray for us humans and for our small at-risk planet.


FAUX NEWS EXCLUSIVE: The Deficit Hawks Return

The following meeting occurred in a conference room in the U.S. Capitol on Monday, December 4. One of our reporters was there, disguised as a waiter, and here is his story.

By-invitation-only, a celebratory reception took place on Monday in the U.S. Capitol  where several dozen Republican members of Congress were present. Even though the conference committee has not come out with a bill to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the tax “reform” act, there was euphoria among those present, which included Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and others in leadership positions. Following congratulatory remarks and toasts to the President for what was described as his inspiring leadership and the fine moral example he is setting for the country, the world, and our nation’s children, the conversation focused on the tax reform victory and the next steps.

Here is a verbatim transcript secretly taken by our reporter:


Mr Ryan: Well we did it, Mitch, we showed ‘em. At last tax relief for those who contribute so much to our economy and have suffered so much under Obama.

Mr. McConnell: You are right, Paul. The Fake Press gives the one percenters a hard time, but let’s face it, were it not for them, we would not be the country we are today. They are the job creators. They make our country great. They pay so much in taxes, and it is a shame and disgrace that almost half the U.S. tax payers get off with paying little or nothing. This is a national scandal, and the bill, when it becomes law, will start to level that playing field.

Mr. Graham: And let’s be honest. If we could not deliver, our party would be toast. The Koch Brothers would be pulling out, and we would lose most of our big donors. We delivered for them, and the payoff to us will be beyond anything we have ever dreamed of. We should have so much more money than the Democrats, we will dominate the Congress  from now on. The Democrats won’t have a chance.

Cheers from those gathered.

Ms. Collins: You are right, gentlemen, but do you think the bill when it is reconciled will do much for the poor, the working class, and those less fortunate?

Mr. McConnell: Suzie, you just don’t get it, do you? Trump’s base will vote for him under any conditions. He could kill someone on Fifth Avenue like he said and they would not change. They love him. They love his tweets, and he is the darling of the Evangelical Christians. Many see him as the Second Jesus Christ. First, they are too dumb to know that they are being screwed, and, second, as long as Trump keeps fighting Muslims, immigrants, minorities and bleeding heart Democrats they will be just fine. As for the others? So what? In the end the poor, the working class and the less fortunate mean diddly.

Ms. Collins: Even if they lose their health care?

Mr. Ryan: Enough of that. Now that we have been victorious we must move on to our next agenda item—fiscal responsibility. As I have said all along throughout my entire career: the deficit is killing us and that the number one goal of the Republican Party, the party of prudence, is to get our house in financial order.

Mr. Corker: How can we claim to be the responsible party when we just added what is likely to be two trillion dollars to the deficit?

Mr. McConnell: Who let Corker into the room?

Mr Corker is forcefully removed by security guards.

Mr. Ryan: So I am proud to announce the plan that many of us have been working on in secret while the tax reform bill was being written. “The Fiscal Responsibility Act To Make America Fair Again.” Mitch, why don’t you introduce the committee report?

Mr. McConnell: We Republicans all agree that there should not be any deficits, and to prevent that from happening we are going to repeal virtually all the giveaway programs, which started in the New Deal and have been growing by leaps and bounds every time we get a Democrat in the White House. This will be like the tax reform we have just completed. Just like our beloved president and moral leader has said, it will be big and beautiful and incredible. In a word, we will phase out Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, all forms of welfare, Housing Vouchers, food stamps, child heath care and virtually all other subsidies aimed at helping people who do not want to help themselves. These people tend to be lazy, have no ambition and frankly it is about time they have to be made to fend for themselves rather than beg for government handouts. It is about time that that they learn that being irresponsible has consequences.

Ms. Collins: That sounds cruel to me.

Mr. Ryan: Don’t worry, Suzie, we won’t pitch it that way. We won’t say anything bad about these pathetic, working stiffs who can’t make it on their own. The case we will make is that while we love everybody, we just can’t afford to keep paying out all this money and that we must maintain our legacy as the party of fiscal responsibility. We have to do it for the sake of the country. If we don’t get our financial house in order we will no longer be great as a country. The President we so love and respect so much has said this better than anyone—Make America Great Again!

Cheers throughout the room.

Mr. Ryan: This is not the time to go into details on how the phase out will work, but the basic idea is to replace virtually all government handout programs with individual savings accounts for health care, retirement, education, food and nutrition, you name it. The Democrats will be pitching Medicare-for-All. Our mantra will be 401Ks-for-all.

Mr. Flake: Do you think this will resonate with the middle class?

Mr. McConnell: Who let Flake in?

Mr. Flake is forcefully removed by security guards.

Mr. McCain: Certainly you guys can’t be serious.

Mr. Ryan: Not only are we serious, we are virtually guaranteed success. Remember who will have all the campaign money. We will, and we will use it wisely. With the Big Boys behind us even more than in the past, we will control Congress and the White House forever as far as I can tell.

Unidentified Senator from the back of the room: And if we need it, we will get all the extra help from the Russians!

Senator is forcefully removed, screaming “lock her up, lock her up.” Reception  is concluded with cheers and applause.