Now available for the first time in paperback, my poetry volumes "Meeting Ronald Reagan," "Thinking About Asphalt," and "Poems, Prayers, Promises and Procrastinations." They are for sale right now at CreateSpace.com and will be available at Amazon.com within 3-5 days. Overseas buyers should see them listed within a few weeks, and other online sellers will have access to them about the same time. All three volumes are still available on AmazonKindle.
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They told us to wait and see. It didn't take long. The United States of America has been stripped stark naked for all the world to see in just a few days of the Trump presidency. The agenda is clear: we are who we are and we are no longer going to pretend that we are altruistic, freedom loving people. We are who we are, greedy self-serving corporations using our military might to get what we want, not because it's good but because it's good for the bottom line. Steal the oil. Ignore climate change. Defund Planned Parenthood and the National Endowment for the Arts. Coming: dropping out of the Paris Accords, stripping women of the right to choose, privatizing Medicare, stripping insurance from twenty million Americans, and killing Social Security so the old folks like me starve or freeze to death and disappear. Along the way, young people are going to be placed in harm's way. Only the children of the rich will be well educated. The rest of us will be vocationally trained, or pressed into military service to protect corporate interests around the world. The naked truth is this, and clearer every day: America is not a democracy, not even a Republic. America is a Plutocracy – run by the rich, of the rich, and for the rich. The world be damned. The majority of the American people be damned. I can smell the cordite in the air. And all we can do now is bear witness.
What the rich seem to forget constantly is that without the rest of us, they have nothing. But if they treat us with respect and provide us with economic stability and security, in the long run they will come out ahead. What I see instead is a domestic free for all pitting us against each other just to survive, and an international bully fest that will turn the world against us. This is not the America I learned about in history books, the America that has set itself up as an example to the world of how to be, the America envisioned by our founding fathers, protected by Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. We have a president who seems determined to force his image of the world on the rest of us, a congress that seems ready to bend over backwards to give him what he wants, and all of it a front for an agenda set to make the rich richer in the short term. The long term be damned as well. Along the way, America is losing whatever is left of what did make her great.
I fear for America. It is somehow sad to me to think that my first blog of 2017 would be to say those four words. I have had a bit of time to pull back, to reflect, to rest, to have my right hip replaced and recover a bit from that, to let politics post-election play out. I began to look forward to a better year than 2016 both personally and politically. But I can't help it, I can't stay away. I hear people say we must stand behind our new President even before he actually is President. We should not criticize him. We must understand that what is in his heart is not necessariloy what comes out of his mouth. He will be the leader of the free world in ten days. And I fear him. I am a loyal American, patriotic enough to stand up for the things I believe best represent American values and oppose things I fear would undermine those values. It is how I was raised, by a passionately democratic immigrant father who came to America in 1952 seeking the American Dream. He dragged me along. I was two years old, so I, too, am an immigrant.
By 1952, Charles Brotman had become a celebrated public announcer for local Washinbgton DC sporting events, most notably the Washington Senators baseball team. In 1956 he met President Eisenhower, there to throw out the first pitch, and was the one who introduced the President to all the players and made sure he was comfortable. In November he got a call asking him to be the President's announcer at the inaugural parade, an offer he said he felt he was not worthy to receive but he wasn't going to let it go. It became his once-in-four-years gig, part of his American Dream. He's been doing it ever since, for sixty years, fifteen inaugurations, and eleven presidents. He recently lost his wife of 65 years, and the only thing that kept him going was preparing for parade number 16. But Donald Trump's transition team told him, essentially, we admire you and plan to honor you with a nice seat near the President, but you're fired.
Brotman is 89, still vital and engaging in that wink of the eye kind of way old men seem to acquire. Annouuncing the parade had become a tradition, and a harmless one, that held not a single party line. But Trump said no. There was no compassion, no kindness, no effort to be reasonable. There was no explanation given, no chance for appeal, no chance for rebuttal. It was, as businessmen like to say, a done deal. Trump got what he wanted and all else be damned. That's what scares me: will he treat this own country that way, without care, comnpassion, or kindness but just as a pathway to whatever he wants, his way or the highway. Will he spend his presidency in petty squabbles with famous people who disagree with him and exercise their freedom of speech to say so? What happens when people start to say, No, no more, Donald? Will that day even come? I have waited and watched for weeks now as a man elected by less and a quarter of the country prepares for office. My fear only grows.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..