Thursday, August 25, 2022

Road Rage and Other Travel Stories

Idiot. Crazy. Asshole, the latter designation reserved for drivers who not just violate good driving norms but whose actions also imperil or just physically undermine my safe transit.

Perhaps you’ve seen the comic strip where kids tell their mother they learn more vocabulary when riding with their father. They’re exposed to words that would make a sailor blush is the way their father’s language would have been described in more genteel times.

Hardly a day goes by without another incident of road rage being reported. On Sunday the White Plains Daily Voice reported, “A Hudson Valley man was nabbed for alleged road rage after allegedly pulling a gun on another driver he had been tailgating.”

It is painfully obvious that civility has departed normal discourse and interaction among sizable segments of our society. It happens on the road between strangers and on streets between rival gangs.

Can I attribute it to Donald Trump? For sure, at least partly. Recall that during his rallies he would incite his faithful to manhandle any protesters. And, during debates with other Republicans, rather than score points on policy he would deprecate their physical characteristics. And he stalked Hillary Clinton during one of their debates.

When your leader opens the door to confrontation is it any wonder that the masses follow?

Now, I’m not so naive to exempt Democrats from boorish behavior, though I fervently believe those Dems that practice uncivil behavior are a small cadre of the party.

Republicans, no doubt, would quickly point to riots in Portland and elsewhere but without citing the cause, that usually being a problematic police killing of an unarmed black person for an incident, such as a broken car tail light, that usually would not result in a white person being stopped.

Those demonstrations were the direct result of years, decades, centuries of institutional abuse, not one-on-one interactions between individuals.

Road rage, on the other hand, seems to be just an outgrowth of depreciating respect for others. Sad times, indeed.

Uncivil Arizona: The height of uncivil behavior is still being played out in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Defying tradition, Trump and his minions have refused to acknowledge defeat.

If you’re interested in a deep look at how Republicans do not accept the reality of the last near two years, spend a few minutes reading an article from The Guardian profiling the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives who refused to cave in to Trump’s entreaties and threats to reverse Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona (

On the Road Again: Just back from a 600 mile roundtrip to Rockville, MD, made tolerably pleasurable by listening to different Sirius stations on the car radio.

I was intrigued by one of Sirius’ promos that lauded the construction of our interstate highway system (IHS) as mankind’s greatest public works project in history. That’s according to historians, said Sirius, which added a pitch for its entertainment network as a must-have traveling companion.

Yes, America has benefitted from our linked highways north and south, east and west. But I wonder, in context of tools and equipment available, as well as technical knowledge of their times and the financial and manpower resources that could be tapped, whether the aqueducts built by ancient Rome, or the roads spanning the Incan empire, or the Great Wall of China might surpass the IHS in greatness.

Perhaps the historians Sirius cited referred only to America’s public works. In that case, a good argument could be made for the construction of the Erie Canal (I’d have added the transcontinental railroad but that was a private endeavor).

What’s your opinion?

Road Kill: On May 24, with my three year lease on a Toyota Camry coming due in mid August, Gilda and I signed up for a 2022 plug-in hybrid Ford Escape. We knew about construction delays and a shortage of chips, but we felt good about the prospects of coinciding giving up the Camry with the delivery of the Escape.

Ha! Every two weeks or so a new email from Ford advises building our car would be delayed. The latest date given is September 19. It takes about a day to build a car, but then six weeks or so for it to be delivered to a dealership.

Ah, the delivery. Last week when talking with our Ford salesman he informed I had to choose a different dealership for delivery because his was closing down at the end of August. 

At least we had a vehicle identification number, he said. Customers who had not received a VIN would have to start the whole buying process over with, no doubt, a higher price tag now that they were back in the market.

What really galled me is that our salesman who worked hard for our business will not receive commission for the sale. Some stranger at the new dealership will have a bonanza dropped in his or her lap.

A Final Road Rage Note: Click on the link for a piquant take on the type of drivers one sees on the road:

Monday, August 22, 2022

Trump Exemplifies Chutzpah

Donald Trump’s lawsuit against the FBI for conducting a court authorized search of Mar-a-Lago for documents including top secret material he illegally took from the White House evokes the classic definition of chutzpah—a man accused of killing his parents pleads for leniency because he is an orphan. 

Trump is a master deflector, raising distractions to prolong proceedings until his interlocutors give up, get removed or give in.  

I sense he has met his match in Merrit Garland. Denied his chance to be a Supreme Court justice for life by Trump’s 2016 pre-election Republican enablers, Garland’s role as attorney general gives him the power of payback.  

The wheels of justice turn very slowly but I believe Garland will not wither.  

Opinion Disconnect: Americans have a habit of saying one thing while behaving exactly opposite, especially when it comes to responding to public opinion surveys. 

Thus, while many vocally deplored Trump before the 2016 election, in the privacy of the voting booth they chose him over Hillary Clinton. 

A new study by Populace found “a tendency for people of all demographics to succumb to social pressures to have the ‘right’ opinion when it comes to hot-button issues like abortion, mask wearing, and discussing gender identity in schools, despite their true feelings.” (

It means another long election night as polls of voters are not to be fully believed until all ballots are counted. 

Cross Wyoming off a list of states I would consider living in if I were ever to contemplate relocation from New York. And by New York I mean the part that is liberal and progressive. The beauty of upstate notwithstanding I do not think I could live in a regressive environment. 

So, no to Wyoming. Despite my love of western movies, I am not a horseman. Nor do I own a gun, much less ever shot one. I’d be in awe of Wyoming’s beauty, but repulsed by opposition to laws and efforts to protect the environment which, admittedly, might limit an individual’s ability to fully exploit the land even if he or she owned it. 

 Wyoming exemplifies all that is foul with today’s Republican Party. By any normal standard Liz Cheney is an exemplary Republican. But her correct assessment that Trump lost the 2020 election and has fostered an anti-democratic movement of election deniers has made her persona non grata to GOP members who swear an allegiance to a self-styled autocrat rather than the Constitution. 

Because of her conservative views I wouldn’t support Cheney for any public office, but I am in awe of her courage and decorum in facing down Trump and his ignorant, gullible, delusional masses. 

As she properly said during one of the January 6 hearings, “In our country, we don’t swear an oath to an individual, or a political party. We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution. And that oath must mean something. Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Why? Because Trump Thinks He's Entitled

 If you’re wondering why Donald Trump absconded from the White House with dozens of presidential papers including Top Secret and confidential material, the answer is quite simple: He believed, and still believes, he is entitled to them.

Throughout his life he has been accustomed to getting, taking and keeping what he wants. Why should it have been different after his four year reign as the most powerful man on Earth?

The papers were no different than his having a trophy wife to reflect his success. What better way to flaunt his entitled status than to revel and reveal in his private lair the secrets of the presidency of the United States? 

To understand his mindset, go back to the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump boasting of his ability to molest women without consequence. Anything is there for his taking.

He’s quick to accuse others of impropriety, quick to claim unconscionable offense when criticized, quick to discredit subordinates deemed insufficiently loyal, quick to assert greater knowledge than professional experts, but sloooooow to respond to legitimate legal challenges, believing his best defense is to stall, to string out proceedings until his inquisitors tire, retire or are replaced.

He’s still the chief grifter in the land, using the FBI search for and discovery of presidential and Top Secret papers at Mar-a-Lago to scam more money from his duped supporters, allegedly to be used for his legal fees.

Trump epitomizes the definition of entitlement: “The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”

Indeed, Trump displays narcissistic entitlement, the “belief that one’s importance, superiority, or uniqueness should result in getting special treatment and receiving more resources than others.”

A dispassionate, objective pursuit of the law would likely render anyone contrite, but in Trump’s case his legions of co-conspirators to the overthrow of the Rule of Law in this country have buttressed his entitlement syndrome.

And that is the tragedy of America. Roughly half the country, represented by one of our two major political parties, has chucked social and governmental norms to follow a narcissist down a rabbit hole of lies, deceit, grifting, scams, and abuse of power, along with a determination to restrict the freedoms and rights of those who do not fit neatly into their portrait of a white, religiously observant, male-dominated America of their dreams.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

"Crazy?" No. "Brainwashed" by Trump Et Al

Why did Ricky Shiffer, 42, attack an FBI field office in Cincinnati Thursday, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a nail gun?  

We may never definitively know, as he died in a shootout with the Ohio State Highway Patrol a short time later. 

Gilda believes he was “crazy,” a reasonable hypothesis for many acts of violence, such as shoving strangers onto subway tracks perpetrated by emotionally disturbed individuals no longer housed in institutions. Demons inside their heads take over. Perhaps Shiffer succumbed to his inner demons.

I, on the other hand, think Shiffer was “brainwashed.”  

He was but one foot soldier in an army of Trump believers, PINOs (Patriots in Name Only) who have figuratively swallowed Donald Trump’s hallucinogenic Kool-Aid that the 2020 election was stolen, that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president, that law enforcement, particularly the Justice Department and the FBI, is not to be trusted, that, as Esquire has reported, Democrats are part of a “cabal of pedophiles who not only traffic kids for sex, but also physically abuse and even murder and cannibalize them in horrifying Satanic rituals.”

I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a social worker trained to study the human mind and its actions. Yet, it is transparent that reason has been replaced by thoughtless beliefs in millions of American minds, not just fringe members of the population. 

Alex Jones, Mark Levin, Tucker Carlson, the late Rush Limbaugh, all trade on conspiracy theories, the more divorced from reality the better to sway the gullible. And the masses who feel disenfranchised, alienated, stuck in desperate lives by an elite class often found on the East and West coasts. 

Most Republican politicians, on the other hand, are very clear-headed about their fealty to Trump. They see him as their ticket to election and re-election. They’re not in the game to improve the lives of their constituents. Otherwise, they would not have blocked a cap on insulin costs. They would not oppose climate change legislation during a time of unprecedented floods, fires and heat waves. They would not oppose equitable tax reform. 

Trump and his surrogates have made government, especially Washington, the enemy. They believe laws no longer apply to them. 

Remarkably, they’ve convinced—they’ve brainwashed—a sizable portion of the populace they are right. To them, The Rule of Law is an archaic term.