The Ides of Trump



Please Mr. Postman look and see

If there’s a letter in your bag, oh yeah, for me

“Please Mr. Postman”, by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland, Robert Bateman

I plan to do this. Just an idea posted by my friend, Audrey Cownie.

On March 15th, each of us will mail Donald Trump a postcard or letter that publicly expresses our opposition to him. And we, in vast numbers, from all corners of the world, will overwhelm the man with his unpopularity and failure. And most importantly, we will bury the White House post office in pink slips, all informing Donnie that he’s fired.

Each of us — every protester from every march, each Congress-calling citizen, every boycotter, volunteer, donor, and petition signer — if each of us writes even a single postcard or letter and we put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, well: you do the math.

No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury. Hank Aaron currently holds the record for fan mail, having received 900,000 pieces in a year. We’re setting a new record: over a million pieces in a day, with not a single nice thing to say.

So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements, and see if your sincerest ill-wishes can pierce Donald’s famously thin skin.

Prepare for March 15th, 2017, a day hereafter to be known as #TheIdesOfTrump

Write one postcard. Write a dozen! Take a picture and post it on social media tagged with #TheIdesOfTrump ! Spread the word! Everyone on Earth should let Donnie know how he’s doing. They can’t build a wall high enough to stop the mail.

Then, on March 15th, mail your messages to:

  So-called President Donald J. Trump

  The White House

  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

  Washington, DC 20500

It might just be enough to make him crack.

(Not my original post but someone else’s great idea!  Copy and repost.)


Another day, another Muslim ban


… and when they came for me, there was no one left to protest

So late this morning the Drumpster administration announced that the President had signed a new, improved travel ban.  Not that there was ever anything wrong with the old one.  This is, of course, an attempt to run around the various court orders from across the country the stopped implementation of the old Muslim ban.  And no one used the words “Muslim ban” or even “ban” in the announcement, nor in the text of the executive order itself.

I have actually read most of the executive order.

It reads very neutrally, expressing no “opinions” other than the ones required by statute: e.g., that the President “proclaims” that this is all a good idea under various laws.

It gives all kinds of background, including a somewhat accurate history of the orginal order, the history of how the six covered nations were either designated previously as “state sponsors of terrorism” or are currently dangerous places to be.

It describes how caring the DHS will be as it studies whether to grant waivers to special individuals.  At the same time, it justifies suspending “temporarily” all entry to reduce the workload on the poor workers at all of the agencies who would need to do extra investigative work while we “figure out what the hell is going on”.

The order also goes to great lengths to try and cure some of the specific problems that were cited in the various court orders that stopped the original order.  For instance, there’s a long list of exceptions for certain travelers from the six countries: dual citizens of other countries, green card holders, family members of permenant residents of the use, travelers with NATO visas, etc.  It’s quite a long list.  There is no mention of preference to religious minorities having preference.  There’s accomodation for travelers who currently have valid visas.  All in, a naive reader would think this was a clear-headed and rational response to a dangerous world.  Except, of course, we know it’s not that.

We all know that this is born out of the Dumpster’s long standing discriminatory bias against Muslims.  We know because he said it a thousand times throughout the campaign, after his election, and when Ban Classic was introduced.  We know it because one of the chief idiot Drumpettes, Rudy “Lock her up” Guilliani went on television and said he helped craft Ban Classic so it would ban Muslims, but not appear to ban Muslims.

The order suspends all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and reduces the number that will be accepted in 2017 to 50,000.  I think this is the most problematic part of the entire fiasco.  Refugees are, by definition, people who are fleeing from horrible situations – war, famine, persecution.  They are helpless; they need help to simply survive.  This country has a mixed bag about refugees.

One of our origin stories,  taught to every schoolchild every fall, is that the Pilgrems were refugees: fleeing religious persecution, they traveled to this country, where they found a safe place to live and were helped by the existing denizens.  Every Thanksgiving play in this country features the Native Americans who helped the refugees from England survive.  By the way, most of this is fantasy and didn’t actually happen like that – but the point is that we believe it to be part of our heritage.

Another part of our refugee history is the shameful exclusion of Jewish refugees in the years leading up to World War II.  As a result, an unknown number of people died at the hands of the Nazis.  Why were they excluded?  Well, the private reason almost certainly involved anti-semitism, but the public reason was that they could harbor spies and terrorists amongst them, since they were coming from Germany and other countries they controlled.  Sound familiar?

I accept that in admitting people from a war-torn region where there are many who harbor ill-feelings about the West and the US will probably allow a small number who go on to commit serious acts of violence in our country.  I admit that some people already in this country might very well die as a result.  But I wonder: where is our bravery?  We celebrate those who take risks to save others: police, fire fighters, soldiers, sailors, the man who jumps in the lake to save a drowning child.  We encourage our children to stand up to bullies and support others, even when it means that they may be hurt – physically or emotionally – in the process.  Yet here is an opportunity for all of us to share in the risk – the risk that there might be some harm, while at the same time that we are guaranteed to save the lives of tens of thousands or more. Why is it that we are unwilling to take this small risk?  I find it shameful and cowardly.

Let me be very clear.  I think we need to have secure borders.  I think we need to take care of who is allowed into our country.  I don’t want to die from a terrorist act, nor do I wish my children, grandchildren, friends or anyone to be hurt.   But a policy born out of fear, hatred and bigotry still smells like a pig even after you put new lipstick on it.

We must #Resist the ban.


How to plan a trip

I blogged a couple of years ago about the immense detail involved in planning a ground trip.  We spent a month visiting the national parks out west, and had dozens of pages of planning information: hotel reservations, flights, car rental, sites and locations to see in the parks and elsewhere, backup driving directions in case our GPS failed, etc.

The other extreme is generally perceived to be a cruise.   It’s generally thought that once you get to the ship you generally don’t have to decide anything more important than which flavor martini you want before dinner.  I’m here to tell you that it ain’t so, Joe.


Dining on board, May 2015

When we go on a cruise, the planning starts as soon as the cruise line opens up the specialty restaurants for reservations.  You see, today’s cruises are all inclusive, except for all the stuff that isn’t actually included.  One of those are the specialty restaurants on board.  Rather than eat in the stuffy old dining room with pretty much unlimited portions of everything on the menu, you are enticed by smaller, more intimate restaurants that (a) require reservations and (b) often have a surcharge. The ship we will be on – the Silver Muse – sports a total of eight restaurants, ranging from Italian to Southeast Asian to seafood to tapas to … well, you get the idea.  And once you have a system where advance reservations are available, and there is a start date when you can make those reservations, it’s starts to look like the next Lady Gaga concert: ticket sales open at 10:00 am Monday, and they are sold out by 10:05.

Well, that might be a slight exageration, but you get the idea.

So you need to decide which restaurants you want to eat in, and which nights.  Simple you say?  Just go down the list and choose Restaurant 1 on Day 1, Restaurant 2 on Day 2, etc.?  Not so simple.

First, you need to map the restaurants against the ports.  For instance, our cruise variously leaves ports at 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm and 10:00pm.  If you’re touring that day, you need to find out what time you get back on board (a port where the ship departs at 7:00 will have tours that get you back before that, but not as early as those when the ship departs at 5:00).  So why not just always choose a later time?  Well, then you run into the showtimes in the lounge.  If you eat at the wrong time, you might be eating dinner when the show(s) are on.  And then, some nights are “formal” in the main dining room.  Do you want to ensure you’re there for those formal nights, or do you want to ensure you avoid being there?

All of this gets complicated when you’re traveling with another couple, as we are.  You need to discuss and debate all of these choices, and make sure everyone is happy with the decisions.  And then hope you can actually get reservations when and where you want them.


The Colosseum, May 2015

The second major planning activity revolves around shore touring and sightseeing.  For many people on cruises,  they simply look at the list of excursions offered by the ship and choose one.  No muss, no fuss, not too much brain strain.  But lots of money.  Example: on our last cruise, the stop at Livorno offered a “tour” to Florence which consisted pretty much of a bus ride from the dock to the bus station in Florence, and the corresponding return trip.  The trip was advertised as about 1 1/2 hours each way, and you would have about 6 hours on your own to explore Florence.  The price? $100 per person.  Tours that actually do something other than provide transportation were even more expensive.  In this case, we elected to rent a car for the four of us for the two days the ship was docked at Livorno, at a cost of less than $200.  We paid another $15 or $20 for parking in Florence, and spent the second day driving to a few smaller towns and villages in Tuscany, including Siena.  We followed this self-tour plan at all of the stops, not taking any of the excursions offered by the ship.

20150509-Cruisin Blog Photos from iPad-IMG_1621.JPG

Siena Piazza del Campo, May 2015

So our instinct is to self-tour at most of the stops this time as well.  We have four stops in “big” cities: Rome(1), Florence(1), Marseilles, Barcelona.  We have 8 stops in smaller places: Monte Carlo, Palma de Mallorca, Trapai, Valletta, Taormina, Amalfi, Sorrento, and Nice.  We need a plan for each one.

Once we have a plan for each one, we can get the dinner reservations squared away.  See how I got back to that?


(1) There’s a bit of bait and switch here as well.  As I mentioned, Florence is quite far away from where we actually dock, and Rome is actually even further.  And while the heart of Florence is small enough that you can wander around for six hours and accomplish something, in Rome you need to pick a sight or three that you really want to see and get to them somehow. In both cases, our ship is in port for about 11 hours.