From The Editor of Faux News: Is the Trump Nightmare About to Enter a New Chapter?

I am not sure exactly what got to me this morning. I have heard Trump  talk about the fake press before and how reporters are “the enemy of the people.” I have heard him send up trial balloons about censoring  “fake news” and how only the word of the President can be trusted. He has talked before about violence from the Left and how the Democrats will try to destroy the Christian faith if they get control of the House, and about how if this happens, it will be the end of the Republic. He does  not miss an opportunity to denounce Mueller and Sessions or to deny any collusion with Russia even while denying that Russia had anything to do with our elections. He continues to blame immigrants and look for scapegoats. His supporters still scream at the top of their lungs, “Lock her up!” None of this is new.

I think what bothered me today was his anger, which has always been present but with his enthusiastic base at the Indiana rally last night seemed to go up  a decibel or two.  He seems to be bordering on panic. Something in the air makes it feel like the end of this chapter is nearing. The Mueller investigation is getting close to winding down. Trump’s cronies who have been convicted or copped pleas are now all talking. Something big seems to be just around the corner.

But what will that be? What will the next chapter in this sordid drama look like? The Trump presidency has captivated our nation like nothing I have seen before. I do not see how his behavior can continue for a whole lot longer without bringing down the country with him.

 Will we as a nation come through this, asserting our values of equal opportunity for all, fairness and justice, the rule of law, and a level playing field? Or will be go the way of many countries in the past that have retreated to authoritarianism? How strong is our democracy? Will new leaders who are more like John McCain than Trump emerge to stand up for country over party or we will descend to more tribal warfare and instability? These unanswered questions are chilling. This could be our moment of victory like when we as a nation confronted Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon and stood firm that they had stepped over the line.  Like when we passed the civil rights bills, outlawed Jim Crow and legal segregation. Or this could be our moment of  doom and disgrace. It was never guaranteed that these decisive historical moments would be victories. They happened because brave leaders confronted difficult issues head on and stood up to power and fought for what was right.

That is where we are right now. Regardless how the Mueller investigation turns out, it is time for leaders in both parties to put our country first and their parties second. The values of freedom of the press, free speech, fairness, civil discourse, equal opportunity, equal protection. and the rule of law must overcome what I call the forces of darkness.

It is also time for each and everyone of us who believes in these fundamental American values to do our part—by voting, speaking out, organizing, and standing up to Trump and the horrific values he has brought with him into the White House.



Faux News Returns: Will This Trump Speech Alter The Course of History?


Here is Trump’s speech,  delivered, prime time, from the Oval Office on all television networks, at 9:00 PM EST  one day following the Supreme Court’s decision regarding indictments of presidents while in office and the granting of presidential pardons:

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

I am addressing the American people and the world this evening from the Oval Office about a new direction that the United States of America will be taking and about decisions that I have made that will affect the lives of each and every one of you watching.

First of all, I would l would like to thank Justice Kavanaugh for casting the deciding vote on two important Supreme Court cases. Now it has been decided once and for all that no president of the United States can be indicted for any crime while still in office. It has also been decided that I can pardon anyone I want to, any time I want to, and for any reason I want to, and I can pardon who I want in advance. Thank you, Justice Kavanaugh. I knew you were the right man for the job.

Now let’s get down to the basics. I am sick and tired of this Mueller investigation, which is a sham, witch hunt and based on fake news. The American people know that Russia was not meddling in our election; and if they were, there was no collusion.  So I have fired Mueller and his team, but I have done more than that. At exactly 2:00 PM today, I entered his office, armed with a gold-plated, AK 47 given to me as an appreciation gift by the NRA; and since I now am entitled to do this by law,  I blasted away. Unfortunately Mr. Mueller, the no good Democrat sympathizer and witch hunter, was out to lunch as was his entire staff. Some kind of retirement lunch or something. Lucky for him and those flunkies who work for the slimy, low life, scheming cheat and liar. His life was spared, but his office was not. I shot up everything I could and left a note telling him he and everyone else who worked for him  that they were now history and that all the evidence was now destroyed. This sordid chapter of American history is now behind us, and we can move on.

Accompanied by my worthy vice president, who carried a large ammunition case of silver bullets given to me by my good friend, Vladimir Putin, I immediately went over to the office of the no good Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who I never should have appointed in the first place, the dumb, ignorant idiot, and fired away. He too was absent, and no one was there to take their medicine, but his office is now in shambles and decorated with bullet holes. I left a pink slip on his desk.  I have a long list of people I intend to visit in the days and weeks ahead.

Now some of you may think that this behavior is out of character for someone who is President of the United States. Well it used to be, but not anymore. The Supreme Court has made that crystal clear. We presidents can kill anyone we want, anytime we want, and there is not a thing anyone can do about it until we are no longer president–except you can impeach us, but that is not going to happen in my case. My base loves me more and more every day. There is not a single Republican left who does not worship me now that the low-lifes, Flake, Corker and McCain are out of the picture. The votes are not there and will not be there to kick me out. America loves a strong man. America has been longing for one for years. And America, now you have got one!

And there are many ways to drain the swamp. One of them is with bullets. This is the one that works best.

But there is only so much one person can do, even if that person has the Vice President of the United States by his side carrying ammo and cheering with every shot. That is why today I have authorized the creation of a special police force, which I am calling “The Swamp Drainers.”  Eventually they will replace the incompetent, biased, and irresponsible FBI. I am inviting all Americans to apply to be part of this new army, which I believe will change the course of American history. Actually, world history. If you get accepted, you will be issued your own AK 47 with my autograph on it, and you  will be given a Swamp Drainer uniform including a green or red beret and an arm band with the Swamp Drainer logo showing an alligator with a knife through his throat and a big letter “T.” I designed it myself.  There will be two classes of Swamp Drainers. One will be for full time professionals, who will earn good money, well above the minimum wage, though I do not think there should be any minimum wage, plus special health benefits, which are not Obamacare but something better. Obamacare is terrible and a disgrace, and if it weren’t for McCain, it would be dead. You people get the green berets. The second class will be for volunteers, but you get to keep the  autographed AK 47 and your uniforms for as long as you like. You will provide the backup for the professionals. You people get the red berets. I am not sure how many Swamp Drainers we will need, but there will be an incredible number. Unbelievable, really.

But here is the thing. You Swamp Drainers will report directly to me. I am your boss, and you will do what I say, and here is where the second Supreme Court decision comes in: once you are accepted and become a Swamp Drainer, I will grant you in advance, a pardon for any act you do which I direct you to do. So even if you commit what fake news organizations might call a crime, as long as you are doing it for me, no worries. Home free. That is what the Supreme Court just decided. I would like to thank Justice Kavanaugh for that.

Speaking of fake news organizations–like the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and MSNBC– you will be taken care of by the Swamp Drainers. You should all close down and get out of town—get out of the countrynow while you still have time.

Some people who are liberal, bleeding hearts, Hillary supporters and namby-pambys are going to start crying like Chicken Little, “The sky is falling.”  Others are going to try the impeachment route. Do not even  think about it. It will get you nowhere. Keep in mind the power of the president and now the pardons granted to the Swamp Drainers, who will be doing the heavy lifting to restore order and move along the Trump agenda. You do not stand a chance.  I am a fighter and I win. I win on my terms and I always will. Some like all the Evangelicals who love me and  think that I am the second coming of Jesus Christ will understand why I am taking these decisive actions and why I am the salvation for this country.. While I admit that I rarely attend church and have not read any of the bible, I trust my Evangelical supporters. They know. They know who I am and why I am doing this.

There are some who still believe that in six years I will be forced out because I can’t run again and then they can indict me. Think again. Do you believe that for one moment I would let something like that happen? Consider me president for life. No jail time for me or any of the Swamp Drainers. Congress will have no choice but to go along even if that means throwing out the Constitution. I have made America great again! I will go down in history as the greatest man to ever live.

Which brings me to my final point. America has changed. I have changed America. This is no longer the tired, worn out country it used to be like when Obama was president–and he was not even legal since he was not born in the U.S. It is time for a fresh, new look and a fresh, new name. I have asked our marketing department to come up with a catchy new name that really captures who we are now and they have come up with “TrumpNation.” I like it. I am submitting legislation this week to make the name change a reality; and if the Congress balks, they will have the Swamp Drainers to deal with.

So this is where we are headed. A new time and a new era and a change in world history.

You  people who are watching on TV or listening on the radio are lucky to be Americans—no, make that TrumpNationals.

Good night, and may God bless TrumpNation!


Does the editor of Faux News really think that something like this could ever happen in the U.S.? Not a chance. But then again that is what the intellectuals and progressives were saying in Germany in the 1920s when a guy named Adolph Hitler was beginning to flex his muscles.




In Search Of A New Eye 4 (and final)

So while one could wonder why in our health care system today a treatment, device or procedure would be withheld because of lack of or insufficient insurance, that did not stop Akhtar and me from moving forward to the next step: getting an optometrist to place an order for a prescription written by a doctor from the world’s greatest eye clinic. How hard could that be?

Turns out the answer is, very.

I started with my own neighborhood optometrist.  He is friendly, engaged with his patients, and I knew that he would be helpful. After studying the prescription and making a couple of calls, he scratched his head and suggested that it would really be easier to get the lens from Wilmer. He doubted it was commercially available anywhere else.  Or I could also search the internet, though he did not know exactly how I might do that.

On to the next optometrist, then the next, then another. I admit I did not do this scientifically since I was randomly dropping by various stores that I happened across. The same result happened each time. Initially they were cordial and volunteered to help me out; but after trying to figure out the exact prescription, concluded that I really needed to see an eye expert. Two suggested the Wilmer Eye Clinic. After a couple of weeks of this, I was about to give up.

Then  Embry observed that I really was not going to the right places. I was haphazardly visiting optometrists who probably were small, mom and pop outfits. What I needed to do was visit one of the big boys, who were really tied into the health care system and had their own experts. She suggested a company called Voorthuis, which had numerous locations around Washington, and which she had heard good things about. If they could not get the lens, she admitted we were probably doomed, but it was surely worth a try. I immediately looked up the closest  Voorthuis location and headed out the next morning on the Metro to arrive at the opening time of ten o’clock.

The store was located in one of Washington’s fanciest retail malls and surely looked impressive. A middle age man with a kind expression had just opened the doors and I burst in, threw myself at his feet and begged for mercy, weeping as I told my sad story. Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration, but I did go into some detail and concluded my remarks with something like, you are my last hope.

He gave me the once over with a slightly amused look on his face and said three things:

“Look, you can relax. There is no prescription that we can’t fill. We will get you the lens that your refugee from Afghanistan needs.”

When he said this, my jaw dropped in disbelief, and it was all I could do to keep from hugging him.

“Second. My former associate happens to be from Afghanistan. We help refugees and immigrants all the time. And third, these specialty lenses can be pretty pricy. For your refugee we will sell it to you at factory cost with no markup.”

I stood there for a brief moment, muttering under my breath, “Thank you, Jesus!”

Gaining my composure, I smiled and replied, “Well, it looks like I am in the right place.”

The rest was easy and routine. The lens arrived in two weeks. The price to me  was $70, a substantial discount from what it normally would have been. The kind manager grumbled that the actual cost of producing one contact lens was something like $1.60. I thanked him profusely and once back on the sidewalk outside the mall raised my arms the way a referee does when a touchdown is scored.  Today Embry is hand delivering the lens to the Akhtar family on her routine visit to take the kids to the library and the local pool.

Happy ending.

But the refugee saga will continue. As a matter of default, we and our daughter’s family are really the only support system they have, and life is hard and full of daily surprises. It has now been just over a year, and hardly a week goes by without some kind of crisis, most but not all, minor. To say that the Akhtar family is grateful for our role in their lives is an understatement. After every doctor’s visit, Akhtar would repeat over and over, “Thank you, Baba Joe. Thank you, Baba Joe.” We rarely escape from his wife feeding us a delicious mid day feast when we visit. Life goes on. But, as our granddaughter pointed out when we first met them, “they are a handful!” More refugee stories will probably follow….





In Search of A New Eye 3

Note to readers: This is installment three. You should start with the first if you have not already read it.

So the question of day was, is it actually possible for a special contact lens to restore eye sight. We would soon find out as Akhtar and I made our way to one of the satellite offices of Johns Hopkins  Medical System, located in the Washington suburbs.  I was surprised at how big the Wilmer Eye Clinic was there, not as big as the one in the huge Baltimore Johns Hopkins Hospital, but still very impressive. There were several receptionists, a large waiting area buzzing with activity, 25 or 30 people patiently waiting, and a wide screen TV showing something about buying fine homes at low prices.

After checking in and waiting for about 20 minutes, we were escorted to another waiting room, jammed with about 20 people. After only a few minutes Akhtar’s name was called out, and we were met by a somewhat frazzled lady wearing a long white coat, and  who appeared to me to be approaching sixty, maybe older. The exam room looked about the same as the  one in Baltimore, and the testing got underway as soon as the Farsi translator got on the line.

It did not get off to a good start.

Akhtar waived his arms in his typical fashion and spoke with intensity, which was translated by the Farsi-speaker on the phone as, “He says he is not interested in a contact lens and wants a new eye.”

I had to give the guy credit. He simply would not, as they say, take no for an answer.  But isn’t this the kind of attitude that so many immigrants have had as they faced overwhelming odds against them? If they had given up, they never would have made it.

The doctor was not pleased. She abruptly stopped, stared for at moment at Akhtar, then at me, and exploded, speaking directly to the translator on the phone, “Does he know who I am? I am a contact lens specialist. This is the Wilmer Eye Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital. If he does not want  a contact lens, tell him to get out of my exam room and get out now. We can’t help him at Hopkins. He needs to find someone else, just tell him to get out. I am very busy. I am an expert in this field, some say the best, and I do not have time for people like him.”

The translator translated to Akhtar, who frowned and remained silent.

 It occurred to me that the doctor must not be having a good day.

As she started to leave the room, I blurted out, “No, please. Do not leave. We have a referral from the Hopkins eye doctors in Baltimore. He needs a contact lens. He is desperate.”

“And who are you?” she snarled.

I paused, then stuttered, “Uh, I am his sponsor. He is a refugee from Afghanistan. He does not understand the U.S. medical system. He was told that he could get a new eye in the U.S. but now we know that is not possible. He really did not mean he didn’t want a contact lens. He did not want to insult anyone.”

She was not impressed, muttering something about how she had heard with her own ears what the translator had said and never had heard of “sponsors.” I clarified that actually my church sponsored refugee families, and I was representing my church. This, of course, was not true. My church was sponsoring a refugee family, but not this one, and I had no formal role other than being a friend. For some reason the refugee agency that assigns sponsors to people like Akhtar never assigned one to him and his family. Fortunately, however, my feeble explanation seemed to calm her. She pulled herself together, sighed and continued the testing.

The procedures lasted about 30 minutes. After the initial encounter with the contact lens doctor, Akhtar seemed to finally realize that he was on thin ice and kept quiet for the rest of the  time except to answer which number he saw on the screen. I think it was finally getting through to him that a new eye was not in the cards.

The doctor spoke again to the Farsi-translator on the phone, “Tell him that I will give him a prescription for a contact lens. It may or may not work, but he should try it and come back and we will test him.”

The translator then replied that Mr. Akhtar said that he would like to thank the doctor.

We made two more visits to the eye clinic. The second visit was more catastrophic than the first. When asked how the contact lens was doing,  Akhtar complained that for a long time he was seeing double and he was not happy. I knew that myself, but I also knew that he was slowly getting adjusted and that he could actually see something in that eye. The doctor did not wait for him to finish and practically shouted at him, “Well, if you don’t like the lens I prescribed, then I want it back. You are on your own. If you think you can do better somewhere else, then go, and good luck!” She slammed the door behind her, storming out of the room, leaving Akhtar and me alone with our Farsi-speaking translator, a middle-aged woman wearing Muslim clothes. The translator turned to me and replied that in 20 years of translating in doctor’s offices she had never seen anything like this.

We three sat there for about ten minutes, not knowing what to do when the door suddenly opened, and the doctor reappeared having regained her composure.  She then started the testing, and concluded that the lens was actually doing what it was supposed to do. She went on to explain that he would need a new, more advanced lens once he got accustomed fully to the first lens.  We returned home uplifted and hopeful. Bravo, I thought. A true miracle.

The third visit went more smoothly. The doctor was in better spirits and concluded not only that the contact lens was working but that with the next prescription he could achieve a vision of 20-40, but this would be the best that could be achieved.

But there was a catch. The catch was that Akhtar’s insurance would not cover the next lens. No insurance, no lens. Not to be intimidated after having had a similar  experience at Meddstar, I cheerfully replied as I had done at the Medstar eye doctor’s office, “No problem. I will pay out of pocket.”

“Not possible. If he has insurance, we can’t accept cash.”

“It is not his cash. It is my cash.”

“Makes no difference. No exceptions.”

I asked her if she could provide a list of manufacturers or suppliers who could provide the  lens. She replied that the Wilmer Eye Clinic was way ahead of the rest of the health care providers and that there were probably no other providers that could provide the lens. She suggested I could try by calling around to optometrists but not to expect much.

 “If you  are able to find the lens, be sure to make an appointment so I can test Mr. Akhtar’s eyes,” she said.

“Does this mean he is doomed? That you can fix his eye, but won’t  and probably no one else can?”

She turned her back without answering and walked away. I did not even have time to give her my outrage speech. I saved that for the finance people when we checked out.

“Yes,” the patient person behind the counter replied after I finished ranting and raving. “We are sorry but that is just the way it is. Maybe you will get lucky and find someone who can fill the prescription.’’

Akhtar was following all this with a quizzical look on his face. I was not sure how much he understood. What was pretty clear, however, was that he was not going to get from the Wilmer Eye Clinic the lens that would restore his vision to 20-40.

Reset and start over: At least I had in hand a prescription for a lens that would do the trick. But how to get it? Was such a lens even available outside the Hopkins system? Find out in the last and final installment.