The Gladys Kravitz of the World

Iraq. Afghanistan. Syria. Yemen. Somalia. Libya…Niger. I did not list those countries in any particular order, with the exception of Niger. Niger receives special placement on this list as it appears to be the freshest of American entanglements, or at least in the consciousness of the American people.

Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama entered our country into  various on-going conflicts when they were in office. We could debate the necessity of our involvement and the issues in each country, but that never happens. Maybe we should have a presence in all the countries listed above, who knows.

Iraq was the last real debate, regrettably a demonstrably dishonest one, and that was back in 2003. The U.S. military has remained busy since then. America now sneaks into war and conflict under cloak of darkness, it’s citizens – and politicians – apparently none the wiser.

And now the demented, tangerine colored septuganerian that occupies the White House is supposed to make rational decisions to make all of this better – great. Oh, and I am not even including Iran and North Korea on this list because they represent unique nuclear challenges unrelated to our War on Terror activities listed above.

So this brings me back to Niger, a country I am sure most Americans have never heard of and are secretly mistaking for that abominable “N word” we are all taught never to say, has an extra G, and remains popular at Ku-Klux-Klan and Trump rallies.

Why didn’t we know that America had close to 1,000 service members in Niger? Why didn’t we have this discussion as a country when President Obama decided to send the first soldiers to Niger over two years ago? Why did things seemingly escalate under President Trump without discussion or coverage? I mean we all know those Kardashian sisters copulated and are pregnant. Why did the current President of the United States say yesterday and I quote, “I didn’t specifically approve this mission.” Huh? What? So much for that civilian control of the military as our founders intended, sheesh! Now I will be partisan for a moment, could you imagine if that had of been President Obama’s response to say – Benghazi? I digress.

I am not going to debate the merits of America’s continued behavior as the Gladys Kravitz of the globe, peeking over fences and peering into the windows of countries looking for boogeymen and monsters. I am not opposed to American intervention in the world, but I am opposed to the autopilot approach our country seems to be on since 9/11 where it comes to supposedly rooting out terror.

And frankly, I am beginning to be more fearful of Americans with guns shooting me at the Whole Foods than I am about terrorists in Niger or Syria or anyplace else for that matter. I am probably more likely, in America, to be shot on the street – for no reason – than by a terrorist from Niger. Oh, and  the bullets that might come flying at me could come from a cop, a gang member, or a “domestic terrorist” – the title we reserve for any person of color who commits mass murder with a gun who isn’t a white male. So many ways to die – how fun.

I hope the four service members who died in Niger rest in peace and that their families find solace. I believe that our country should have known about their sacrifice before they died. I hope that our government, specifically members of Congress, remember they have the power to authorize and declare war – not the Executive. They also control the purse strings. Senator Graham and Senator Schumer shouldn’t be on television saying they didn’t know about the number of soldiers in Niger – it’s outrageous. America, as is the case with so many things, needs to do better.



Breaking News!

America girl! Girl! GURRRL! You still have not got your s*it together! Trump is still here, and he is still a hot putrid mess! America is currently like your best girlfriend who is dating a broke bum with no job, no job prospects, no manners, and he treats her like crap.

You keep telling your friend that she can do better, that she’s worth more, but to no avail – he is still there. Well, America is your low self-esteem girlfriend and Trump is her boyfriend! We talked about this America! He has to go! Ugh, alas, he’s still here. One can always hope.

When’s the overthrow party occurring? I’ll bring the pitchforks if someone else promises to bring the torches!

I suppose I was only partially kidding when I wrote, before my Egypt vacation and writing break, that who knew what would happen next regarding the political drama within this country. I assumed there would be news, however, I did not anticipate the daily deluge of scandal. Any one of these stories about the White House would be scandals onto themselves in normal times.

Consider the following events this week:

  • Trump fires Comey.
  • Trump’s team lies about the rationale for firing Comey, presumably to defend their boss, but Trump never to be outdone goes off script and admits he fired Comey because of Russia. He also adds that he was going to fire him regardless of any recommendations from the Justice Department.
  • The Trump team was told about Flynn being under investigation before they hired him for National Security Advisor (which means they have lied previously, including Mike Pence). However, as of this writing, they are publicly denying this story.
  • Comey apparently keeps love notes about his conversations with Trump, which apparently show Trump pressuring him to drop the investigation into Flynn. Ok, I couldn’t help but throw a bit of shade at Comey. I am glad he has apparently kept detailed notes.
  • Trump associates apparently had 18 contacts with Russia prior to the election, which were previously undisclosed.

And that is not everything and the week is not over. It’s just Friday morning, so there is still some time for more breaking news, for some industrious reporter to do the work that folks in Congress seem to have an aversion and allergy to conducting. Although, the appointment of a Special Counsel makes me happy. That’s right up there with a slice of chocolate cake in wonderfulness and joy for me this week.

Yeah, so the breaking news within the breaking news is a bit much. After all, I can only read so much and watch so much news on a daily basis. I do have Real Housewives of Every and Any U.S. City to watch, study, and gossip about. But seriously, how are we supposed to keep up with all of this? I can’t even go to get a haircut and a shampoo without breaking news occurring about Trump while I am already watching the news and he is already being discussed! Sheesh!

I am going to have to start grabbing a V8 or getting some B12 shots to sustain the energy necessary to keep up with the trainwreck that is the unraveling of the Trump White House. Oh, wait, a relative just told me the other day and I quote, “this Russia thing is nothing. The media just won’t give him a chance.”

So, there is that perspective. Oy vey! That story, and how every piece of glass subsequently broke in my apartment from the shrieking I did after hearing that sentence, will have to wait for another blog post on a different day!



The Six P’s

Prior planning prevents piss poor performance. Those words were uttered to me long ago by a college mentor turned dear friend, and they have been proven salient at multiple times in my life.

It was a lesson that Hillary Clinton must have learned too. In what feels like a lifetime ago, during one of those trainwreck debates, Hillary remarked to Donald that, yes, it was true – she prepared and practiced for the debate, and she was proud of that fact. She also memorably claimed she “prepared to be President.” Ah, preparation!

Clearly and painfully, blue America and red America saw those debates differently. Oh, and the anyone but Hillary or Donald crowd saw it differently as well as the “Bernie or Bust” crew. But as someone who appreciates prior planning in his own life, I relished the sentiment and her preparation. To me, America had a choice and we had to choose between an adult and a child – between someone who could construct sentences and someone who could not. Between someone who read briefing books and someone who was proud they did not.

Well, America chose – in various ways, and so here we sit. Donald Trump became President but never learned the lesson of the Six P’s. Finally, that choice to be unprepared and to consistently wing it like a hungover college student stumbling to class determined to take his midterm anyway has come back to bite him in his gigantic orange ass.

I won’t make this post about Hillary. Hillary, I am sure, feels disappointment, but she is off in Chappaqua counting her millions and will still go down in history for several accomplishments and “firsts.” I am sure she is also overjoyed that while the Republicans were great at coming up with silly chants like “lock her up,” jail time is clearly not in the cards for her and as things stand now that can’t be said for the Trump folks. Where is Alanis Morrisette to bust out into a rendition of “Ironic?”

And another thing…

FLYNN TOLD YOU FOOLS HE WAS UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE F.B.I. before YOU HIRED HIM!!! BEFORE! BEFORE! BEFORE! The absurdity of this is equivalent to the scene in Mrs. Doubtfire when Miranda, played by Sally Field, learns at the restaurant Bridges that Daniel has been parading around in her house dressed up as a woman, Mrs. Doubtfire, and screams the “WHOLE TIME” about three times. It’s just that shocking for poor Miranda.

Sorry, for that digression and lack of a proper transition but, yes, it’s that sort of nonsense that seems to be leaking out daily that could spell doom for these people! Prior planning people!

What is the matter with these people? Let’s be clear – NO ONE DOES THIS. Not Obama, Bush, Clinton, H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter…NO ONE. President’s don’t hire National Security Advisers who they know are under investigation and then give them the highest levels of security clearance. Sheesh! The insanity of that is almost unbelievable, but what did we expect?

Who can come and check my blood pressure?

Anyway, back to the Six P’s. So Mr. Trump personally asked Comey to drop the F.B.I. investigation into Flynn. Now, anyone who knows their history or THE LAW – knows you can’t do that. Obstruction of justice is a thing, and it does not fall into the fake news category. You cannot do that! But Mr. Trump doesn’t know this because, as I mentioned, he does not like to read and certainly is no student of history. He doesn’t know this because he is incapable of believing that he could be at fault and that his performance as President could be, well, piss poor!

I mean someone could have told him talking to Comey was a bad idea back in February. Hell, someone could have told him that firing Comey this week would have been a disaster as well. A little preparation, a bit of reading, a discussion, and healthy dose of discipline could have prevented this.

Prior planning prevents piss poor performance, Mr. Trump. It is usually never too late to learn, but I am not sure you can teach a 70-year-old dog new tricks.

Dinner With New Friends

I was convinced by my husband to get off my keister on a weeknight, and in defense of my husband that task alone must feel like attempting to get a Republican health care bill passed by Congress! It’s never anything personal towards whoever we are supposed to meet on a weeknight, but as I often remind my husband – we’re old gays now. We have wine at home and what if I miss Rachel Maddow?

I know, I know I need to work on that. So, off to dinner, I went.

The evening was going swimmingly. Pleasantries were exchanged. I laughed at the jokes and banter of the other couple, and there was also wine – things were going well.

There was a discussion about The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Madonna. Reality TV and conversation about Madonna at the same dinner, I was in heaven. The Madonna chat was so specific, there was a back and forth about whether Confessions on a Dancefloor or American Life was the better 2000 era album. American Life lost because of the rap Madonna performs in the title song. You didn’t know Madonna

You didn’t know Madonna rapped? Think something along the lines of, “yoga and pilates and the room being full of hotties.” I expressed my love for that album and that song but somehow lost that debate (can you believe that?!). To my friends Ashley and Andrea who had to suffer through my singing of that song during college, I apologize.

I expressed my love for that album and that song but somehow lost that debate (can you believe that?!). To my friends Ashley and Andrea who had to suffer through my singing of that song during college, I apologize.

But the night was going well, and then something happened. Somehow we all jumped in our magic invisible cars while sitting at the table and willing set forth down the road to hell and never looked back.

We broke a rule and began to talk about politics. It was all sort of confusing because I got the sense we all shared similar politics. But Guest B, that’s what we will call him, wasn’t having any of that.

Guest B had just moved to America a few years ago and inevitably discussion lead to how he enjoyed our country. His response, “your country sucks.”

Oh, ok.

He continued, “your country is a piece of shit.”

Oh, oh dear. Danger, danger. Pull back! Turn around! We hadn’t had that much wine had we? What’s happening? If this had been a Real Housewives of New York – Gay Guy Edition episode, this would have been the point when a glass was thrown across the table or the table was cleared in one swoop with an angry arm.

God bless my husband because he was either eating the best orange chicken he had ever had in his life, or he was looking for Gold or a lost child in his Chinese food. Once we went down this road I don’t think I heard from him the rest of the night. He’s clearly the smart one.

Guest B’s boyfriend tried to reel his partner in, but to no avail. There were at least three more “piece of shit country” bombs dropped during the course of the dinner. He discussed our meddling in his country’s politics, our homeless population problem (despite being the wealthiest nation on Earth), our treatment of minorities, and, of course, our most recent election which proved in his eyes that America was full of racist backward bigots. As someone who would consider himself somewhat articulate, I was caught slack-jawed without much to say.

My husband and this guy’s boyfriend stayed quiet, as I think there wisely knew there was nothing they were going to say to change his mind. I think they also realized he liked throwing the bombs under the guise of “telling it like it was” and to see how far he could push.

I will admit, on several occasions, I had the urge to say if you don’t like it here go back to your country. Ugh, GROAN. I always hate that argument as it feels so juvenile. It’s a favorite line conservatives like to use against more liberal and progressive minded people in my opinion. If you dissect the statement you’re basically saying – oh there are problems you think our country should fix? No, we’re not going to do that, shut up about it, and leave. So, I try not to go there.

So despite his bombastic nature, I refrained from saying that. I also had to admit many of his policy issues I agreed with – maybe just not the methods of the messenger. Despite all those points, I took umbrage with calling America shitty. I just, despite everything, fundamentally don’t believe this country is shitty.

I was challenged to name three good things about this country by Guest B. Being put on the spot, I mentioned our capitalist system and that I believed overall and historically has done more good than bad for the middle class (look I am a Republican!). Two, I mentioned that our country does have a diverse population, more than most countries. Third, yes I did this, I informed Guest B that America saved the world from fascism during the World War II.  Hey, I was put on the spot, but that’s what I came up with and he was quiet momentarily.

Continuing on my surge of opinion, I expressed that our country is constantly changing and evolving and that there is progress – even if some try to stop it. He countered that none of that mattered that our country would always be “shit” since it was founded on slavery. Boy, he loved that word shit. I argued that as a black man, I could not accept this idea that the country could never get past that, as the opportunities and life I had in comparison to my Grandparents clearly was proof of positive change and policy. He wasn’t having any of it.

I argued that as a black man, I could not accept the idea that the country could never get past that, as the opportunities and life I had in comparison to my Grandparents clearly was proof of positive change and policy. I also mentioned that I didn’t think it was by accident that out of all the Western democracies, it was America that elected a Barack Hussein Obama and not say France or Germany. He wasn’t having any of it.

There was some railing against Trump, all the familiar tropes that I wholeheartedly agreed with it. I push backed against the notion that everyone who voted for him was inherently racist. I noted that some of the counties Trump carried, Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. I think I received an eyeroll on those points. I was shocked I was defending Trumpsters! Guest B was not having any of it.

My husband continued to live in his plate. I finally stopped arguing.

I walked away feeling that whatever America’s problems are, they can be fixed by people and policy. I truly believe that. If America were a person, I probably would be shaking her every single day and shouting get your stuff together, but I cannot relegate my country to a pile of crap or give up on it. As I reminded Guest B multiple times, show me a country without problems. He reminded me, however, your country is the one that is always talking about “American Exceptionalism.” Guest B had me there – checkmate.

One thing I learned from Guest B, even if he wouldn’t admit it, is that the world does look towards America for leadership, a vision. The world watches and listens to what we say and do. When we fall short and, yes, that happens more than I’d like to see – it is noticed. And even if Guest B would not admit it, he was clearly watching and expecting more out of America too.

I also learned I  will go back to sitting on the couch on weeknights. That dinner was exhausting!