Finishing the Woodward Book

I’ve finished Bob Woodward’s book Fear, and the title is apt. Nothing in the book was a surprise; the gradually building story is devastating. This is a frightening account of a very limited, very damaged man with a feral cunning for manipulation who now occupies the most powerful job in the world — with few guard rails to keep him from wreaking havoc. Many of the people referenced in the book who were able to distract him and derail his worst impulses are gone: Rob Porter, Gary Cohn. The people who are left are,¬†with few exceptions, enablers.

The other night Hillary Clinton was on Rachel Maddow’s show. Clinton repeatedly said things like “what are the facts?” and “where is the evidence?”. Trump values neither facts nor evidence. He has supreme confidence in his own instincts, no matter how misguided, ignorant, or foolish.

Will enough Trump voters come to their senses for the upcoming November election, and before the presidential election in 2020, to put an end to this disaster? We don’t know, do we?

Panama 2018: Minga

Ana tried to call while she and Minga were awaiting dialysis. I was out and didn’t receive the call. Hopefully we’ll connect in the next few days. I recognize where Minga is sitting: on one of the hard plastic chairs that line the long narrow hallway where patients and family members wait their turn.

I think Minga looks generally well, although her face looks a bit puffy. The port through which she is receiving dialysis is lower down on her chest, not so bothersome as when it was higher. I won’t know anything about her spirits until we talk, but once we have I’ll let you know.

The Kavanaugh Saga

I hope Dr. Blasey testifies next week, although I’ll understand if she doesn’t. I don’t think her testimony will make much difference because Republicans on the Judiciary committee have clearly already made up their minds. They want to push this nomination through regardless of any evidence to the contrary, and we’ll have two men on the Court credibly accused of sexual impropriety. I would like to hear what Dr. Blasey has to say. And, I suspect the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee will reveal themselves to be as out of touch, judgmental and dismissive as they were to Anita Hill.

There have been a flood of stories told by women who’ve been sexually assaulted, speaking out now in support of Dr. Blasey. Their stories answer the question “why didn’t she say something at the time?”.

Coming forward in real time is no guarantee of decent treatment, as this Washington Post story shows.

If this Kavanaugh nomination goes through, as it looks like it will, the credibility of the Court for me will be near zero. I wish the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee would boycott the vote. As a matter of fact, I wish all the Senate Democrats would refuse to show up on the day Kavanaugh is confirmed. Let’s be clear what this is: a Republican right wing justice, elevated to the Court to do the Federalist Society’s bidding.

I’m all in favor of a change to the constitution that would set term limits for Supreme Court justices — 12 years, 18 years — something that would ensure that presidents of all political stripes would be able to name justices but that there would be turnover. We shouldn’t be stuck with a Clarence Thomas, or a Brett Kavanaugh, for life.


Latent TB

I was exposed to live TB during my Peace Corps service from 1967-69, although I suspect our training experience in Puerto Rico where we stayed with local families for a short time could have been the culprit just as much as Panama. There was no antibiotic treatment protocol then. The Peace Corps physician, during my exit exam, simply said I should avoid people with live TB.

They don’t glow in the dark, so hard to do.

There is an arduous antibiotic treatment now, but the consensus of doctors whom I’ve asked is that 50 years on, with no symptoms, the treatment isn’t warranted.

This article in the New York Times suggests they are right, and I’m relieved.

Conscious Aging: Acceptance

A friend recently asked me how Minga is doing. I responded that she seems up and down physically, but remarkably consistent in the grace and acceptance she shows relative to living with dialysis.

Acceptance isn’t a word that I embrace willingly, and after the brief conversation about Minga I thought about it more. Minga’s desperate poverty has not offered her many choices in life. The practical effect is that she is long versed in the spiritual discipline of acceptance. She is fiercely proud of those instances where she did have a choice. While the U.S army base was open just outside the village of Rio Hato — during my Peace Corps years and until 1990 — young girls would gain a few dollars by satisfying the sexual needs of the randy 18 year old enlisted men who came to village bars to drink. Minga never did that, a fact she will tell you proudly, even when she struggled to put food in the mouths of her nine growing children and had practically no other ways to earn income.

My life has been very different, at least as an adult. If I read something whose viewpoint I don’t accept, I look for other sources. If I get a bad table, or a poorly prepared entree, or a garment returned from the dry cleaner that is damaged, I insist on an adjustment. If I wonder about a medical recommendation, I get a second opinion. If I don’t like the quote for a new car, I make a counter. Acceptance for me is an “if” not a “must”.

That said, I do greatly admire Minga’s attitude toward her dialysis, which has changed her life in every respect. She always said she would never live in the city; she is now living in the city 5 days out of 7. She always said she didn’t want to live tethered to a machine; she is now living tethered to a machine. She loves her home, her neighbors, the flow of village life. Now she is living with her daughter Ana in a city apartment, rather isolating. Minga is glad to have the welcome and the support. But it still has to be hard for her not to be the center of her own home with extended family popping in and out all day to visit.

Aging has something to do with becoming more practiced at acceptance, I suspect. My choices are limited, somewhat, by energy levels, by a reduced tolerance for commotion, by less steady balance — even though I work at it — which makes it a bad idea for me to climb up on a ladder to change batteries in the high ceiling smoke alarms. Ben and Sara came over last night to help.

I will have to get better at acceptance, and not have a knee-jerk resistance to the word. In this Minga is my role model, which I will tell her the next time we are together.

Getting to Know Seattle: The Mountain is Out

Upstate New York isn’t particularly flat, especially in the Finger Lakes region and in the Adirondacks. But my former home town of Rochester was flat, and there were no mountains to be seen from our San Gabriel Drive home. That left me a bit perplexed when I moved to Seattle and I’d hear people say on a nice day, “Oh, the mountain is out.” “The mountain” of course meant Mount Rainier, and here she is in all her glory on a beautiful fall day.

Look to the right third of the pic, with the peak rising out of the clouds.

Making Victims of Sexual Assault “Comfortable”

Senator Chuck Grassley, he of the Anita Hill hearings fame, tells us he is doing everything he can to make Dr. Blasey “comfortable” so that she will come and testify before the Judiciary Committee about her accusation that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.

Dr. Blasey isn’t requesting a continuation of the FBI background check of Kavanaugh in order to be comfortable. She’s asking for facts to be investigated and presented to the Judiciary Committee before they hear her testimony, so that their votes can be based on evidence and not on political pressure or bias.

Under the guise of extending every courtesy, Grassley is being insufferably patronizing.

The old white guys from the Anita Hill days have learned nothing at all.

Stormy Daniels

I admire Stormy Daniels, although I don’t much care for her headline grabbing attorney Michael Avenatti. Daniels isn’t just a porn star; she is also a screenwriter and director. If anyone got rich persuading lustful men to gawp at her body, it’s been her.

Now she has a tell-all out about Trump, claiming he’s pretty bad at sex and has an oddly shaped and rather undersized penis. I love it. Anything that gets under Trump’s skin and pricks his outsized ego is all to the good for me.

I probably won’t read the book, as I can’t get my head around following Bob Woodward with a racy discussion of Trump’s sexual prowess or lack thereof. But I’m glad she wrote it, and I hope she makes a ton of money.