It’s Saturday, September 5, 2018 and I’m minding my own business, which means I’m sitting at my desk, writing my Letter from the Editor. The TV is on and the breaking news is that an anonymous White House official wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times assailing President Trumps behavior in the White House. The writer revealed that the White House, with President Trump, was a chaotic mess, with staff kept in the dark about what Trump wanted. He would make decisions quickly, with no input from his associates, as positions would be filled, then the president would fire department heads. . There has been a lot of turnover in positions.
Is it a crisis or not? We’ll soon find out the answer, because we’ll be swamped with news and opinions on both sides of the issue. An anonymous message from an official stated: “Americans should know that there are adults in the room.” Or is this just another day in the WH life of President Trump?
In the meantime 565 children are still in the custody of immigration officials at the U.S. border (and other places) without their parents. Some parents may be back in their home countries, unable to come back and take their children home, if they can prove they are the parents. This is a man-made disaster which drags on with no end in sight. Those youngsters cannot speak for themselves. All they can do is cry, until they can’t cry anymore.
Many years ago I was a pre-school teacher in the Head Start government program for four year old kids. Some came into the classroom easily, eager to see what was around them, the toys, wagons and such. Other children had a hard time leaving their parents. They didn’t know these strange people, the teachers. And who were all these other children? Some cried for their moms, sobbing for a good while. Other kids were fascinated with all the toys, books, musical instruments, pictures on the walls and settled right in. Of course, we were patient with the children who had a hard time leaving their parents. I vividly remember a little boy who kicked me on my leg, after his mother left. I knelt down on my good leg, and looked at him and said, “We don’t hurt people here. We don’t kick people. That hurts.” He never did it again and in no time he was eager to go to school. He was a very smart four-year old and he loved his school time. Yes, he became one of my favorites. I knew he was going to do well in kindergarten..
Soon enough all the children enjoyed the new experience of going to a “school” and made new friends. After a few months we would hear from the moms that their kids also wanted to go to school on Saturdays and Sundays. They missed us!
I don’t understand what prompted our president to order these parents and children at the border to be separated. That some children were taken to other states is shocking because that seemed so deliberate. It was a way to punish the parents for coming to the border, expecting to be let in easily. After all these months there are still children waiting for their parents to come for them. Maybe they don’t cry as much, but they have already been spent, exhausted from crying for their parents. Our president “owns” this decision, among many other bad decisions he’s made.
The first lady, Melania did show up two times at the border to talk with officials. On TV she was shown sitting around a large table with these people who were in charge of these babies and toddlers and older children. We heard almost nothing of their talks. We did not see a picture of Melania with any of the children. We did see, as she entered her plane, that she was wearing a ugly jacket which stated on the back, “I really don’t care. Do you?” What was she trying to convey with that weird message?
We’re witnessing a different kind of president, a different kind of White House. Since he arrived, there’s been a revolving door of people hired and fired. Some barely get their desk in order before they’re gone. At this time nothing would surprise me as people come and go. What the president decides does affect our lives. He decides how government money is spent. His decisions affect many different businesses. He seems to always be angry at someone and he’s not shy about criticizing anyone he deems is not totally in step with everything he says and does. Yet he is always the first to tout how great, how smart he is. He’s always looking for constant praise and compliments. Being a president is a hard job but he worked hard to get the job.
We’ve had a series of fires in California that have been devastating in so many areas of the state. They’ve been so horrendous that some fire fighters lost their lives, along with some people who couldn’t escape to safety. Deadly fires are becoming something we accept. They are also a warning about climate change that has been building for decades. Extreme weather here in California, or in Canada, Mexico or Hawaii and all across the globe is something we have to accept and then determine what we can do about it, for the future. Brilliant people all around the world can work on these issues and share what they learn. We need to have hope that we can solve some of these pressing problems.
We have a serious problem with so many homeless people lining up on streets and underpasses to sleep, camp out until a better choice emerges. Money had been gathered to take care of the problem, yet it never gets done. Why are our leaders here in California so slow to act? We pay huge taxes here to pay for everything under the sun yet the homeless problem seems to be getting worse. The churches can’t do it all, social services can’t find housing for everyone who needs it. Do the politicians just like to gather money, then take their time to actually do anything with it? Taxpayers are paying a lot for services and we’re not seeing much about actually housing the homeless.
How does the average person deal with so many problems in the world, neighborhood or just at home? You have to hang around with upbeat people. Hang around with people who are pretty okay with their lives, who enjoy various activities, who like their jobs and put in a good day’s work. Some people lie easily about all kinds of things. Telling the truth doesn’t occur to them, when it’s so easy to lie. Children and young kids need to be taught how destructive lying is in a family, at school and work.
One way to “perk up” amid so much bad news these days is to do something you need to do. Go to a comedy club and just listen to comedians, men and women, talking about everyday topics. Go see a movie that isn’t all about killing, death, monsters around us. Go to a concert or play that you know will uplift your mood. Eat something delicious that someone else cooked. Go to a swap meet or a farmer’s market where people are working hard to sell all kinds of useful stuff. Go hear live music outdoors or inside a venue. Invite a friend to lunch. So you can have an un-interrupted time out. Go to a museum to see the past and the future in tangible items. Buy something you been waiting to buy, new shoes, a dress, a delicious pie. Take a walk in a nice park or like Descanso Gardens. Visit a zoo. If you’re lucky you might get to see some animal babies. Be selfish, even for a little while. Go hear live jazz someplace, indoors or out.
Hang in there.
Letter from the editor August 2018
The details of life are taking a big toll right now. There are the usual things that have to be done, like paying bills, going to the grocery store with a list of what I need. Going to Kaiser medical group whenever they tell me I need a shot that I must have, or an ex-ray or for refills of prescriptions.
I have to go outside and water the plants in pots, rake leaves, put things away. The truck needs an oil change, and the car needs a bath. I call the Auto Club because I locked my keys in the truck, again, and /or many other “must do’s.” Life can be relentless, stressful just doing everyday things around your work/home life. If you have kids at home, whatever their age, that can add a lot of stress sooner or later. Am I saying life is hell? It sure is, many times for many reasons: work, health issues, money, personal and family problems
I’m complaining about the everyday stuff, the “must do” things that we all experience. Tensions take over when the list of things that have to be taken care gets bigger and more complex no matter what I do. I write lists and determine which items are the most important, what I have t do FIRST, no matter what else is happening.
At the end of the day I like to watch TV and read the newspapers that pile up during the week. What I see is mind boggling, truly startling sometimes. At the California/Mexico border children were separated from their parents, kept in buildings, where the children are kept behind chain link fencing, crying and obviously needing to see their parents, the ones who brought them to the USA/Mexico border. People are rushing around doing their jobs, waiting for “what’s next? These children were suffering and totally frightened. They are lost and will remain that way until they see their parents. These children, from toddlers to young children are now housed in different parts of the country. Who thought that was a good idea? Whoever came up with these plans ought to be fired, for incompetence. If they were trying to deliberately punish parents, that certainly happened.
Taking children away from their parents and sending them as far away as New York is nuts! THE “AUTHORITIES” COULDN’T FIND PLACES IN NEARBY STATES TO HOUSE THE CHILDREN? Apparently not! This whole scheme was a total disaster, founded in a plan to punish parents through their children. It’s totally disgusting, a failure of so-called “adults” to make a plan that will not traumatize helpless kids who need to be with their parents. It seems that too many plans are leading to chaos in this new administration.
If our government was trying to “teach” parents not to come here, not to bring their kids with them, then they have succeeded mightily. The lesson has been brutally executed. Shame on all of them! There are supposedly 700 children who still have not been reunited with their parents. I’ll bet no one loses a job because of this fiasco!
This plan or project totally belongs to President Trump. He could do something about this calamity if he wanted to but apparently he thinks this is the way to treat people, mostly women and children trying to escape the chaos of their countries, specifically Honduras, and Guatemala. They traveled through Mexico with few problems. They certainly had their sights on the U.S.
They simply showed up at the border and pleaded to get in and some were admitted, to fill out documents. It was very chaotic for everyone as they were met with news camera and reporters. No one could even guess at what would happen. Soon enough it became clear that some of the children were taken from the parents and whisked away. By the time the news reporters were able to get to their cameras many children were taken to organizations all around the U.S. How could all this be happening?
Would our president turn away refugees from Canada or even England? Our President seems to have little regard for everyone south of the USA border. He is so dishonest that he ‘s now trying to blame the Democrats for the mess he made. How devious can he be? He’s dividing the two parties in such ugly ways which just makes unity a far off dream. Washington has become one giant battle field. So we all lose.
There is no way the children can be comforted and I think the whole system is broken. It got worse when our government “leaders or planners” decided to move groups of children to other parts of the country. Who came up with that terrible idea? Was that to punish the parents, to convince them that this is what will happen if they keep trying to come to the border asking for sanctuary. The system, this enactment of “Border Security” was a total failure, for all the world to see.
I believe that we cannot take in all the people who want to be here. Selecting the people who will be allowed to emigrate is a huge undertaking that needs more oversight, better plans, more trained personnel to make the decisions that affect so many people. Some Americans are okay with more refugees, others say no, we have enough problems to solve here. Impulsive, immediate decisions made in a rush are often not the best decisions. They create chaos, divisions, anger and ultimately create more problems. Trump tweeted recently: “Democrats can fix the forced family breakout at the border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” Rep. Ben Ray Lujan D-N.M. said “Trump could pick up the phone and stop it today.” (Los Angeles Daily News)
This current disaster didn’t need to happen. These children, taken from their parents, needed to be reunited with their parents immediately. Then decisions for all of them can be made. Apparently there were no plans for their unification. In fact, recently the Republicans held another hearing about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails! Then they all left for vacation time, or maybe to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with their constituents. It feels like our government is so divided, so uncooperative with each other, it’s a wonder anything gets done.
It doesn’t help to have a nasty name calling, impulsive President who makes decisions that divide everyone into stubborn factions. The president also seems to be super-hyperactive, going from one place to another. He goes to events in different locations to hear the cheers and applause of his true fans. They listen to him as he basically tells them how well he’s doing, how smart he is, how bad the Democrats are. He savages his enemies, with brutal language for those who disagree with him. He can’t seem to cooperate with some leaders of other countries. Recently, he left the G-8 meeting in Canada in a huff, insulting Prime Minister Trudeau and other members of the G-8 group. There is now a trade war going on between Canada and the U.S. President Trump went to London for a meeting with leaders there. Thousands marched against his policies. Our president’s boorish behavior didn’t sit well with the people there. He seems to have no sense at all when meeting with foreign leaders. He is so ungracious on so many occasions. The people came out to mock our President, who is only interested in himself. He’s a runaway bulldozer coming to lecture everyone about how wonderful, smart, and powerful he is. He is demanding attention and obedience from the whole world.
And yet, he acted so meek and mild when he met with the Russian President Putin.
That is weird on so many levels. What’s going on there? It has been determined that the Russians did interfere with our presidential election. Are they just going to get away with that? Why no unified anger from the entire Washington leaders?
There is some good news: Our state will have a $8.8 billion dollar windfall. That’s very good news from our Governor Jerry Brown, who is completing his last term this year as a twice elected governor. Housing prices are going up all over California, however too many citizens can’t afford to buy anything in California. There are jobs here but I hear a lot of complaints about the cost of living here. We spend a lot on gasoline!
Unfortunately the fires have started again, in the northern areas and southern areas of the state. Despite the tremendous efforts by the fire crews, it takes no time at all for the trees to light up, sparks fly, houses and other buildings go up in flames. Nothing could be worse than more fires after all that has already burned in the not so distant past. We know that some of these fires are started by deranged people who get to feel powerful when the mountains are in flames. One man has been arrested as a suspect.
California is truly a great state, for many reasons. We have enough “good” weather so we can continue with building projects all over the state. We’re in pretty good shape financially. The unemployment rate now is low. There are enough jobs, in many fields. Housing prices are up, yet people still keep buying houses, condos and land. What’s the bad part? Parking anywhere is always a big hassle! We’re definitely a plus/minus kind of state.
Get a good grip and Hang in there.
“One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness–simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.” (from a 1866 letter)
George Sand, French novelist and memoirist –July 1, 1804-June 8, 1876
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR JUNE 2018
Sometimes it feels like the world is going nuts! What is going on around us? Why is the news so bad, so negative all the time? Here in California we’re getting ready to elect a new governor and other offices so the commercials are non-stop. Fewer citizens are voting these days, so a lot of money is spent to get them out to vote. I like going to my local polling place. It’s just a part of my routine so I don’t mind. I could vote by mail but prefer going to the local school where the voting takes place. They give me a sticker that proves I’ve voted!
Watching the news on TV is mind boggling sometimes. We have a very unique president in office. The news shows him getting on and off his plane. He’s always busy going to different states to rally the troops to vote for Republicans. I’m sure he gets energized by the crowds who come out to hear him speak. Despite his assistance, some Republicans running for office don’t win. That’s the way things go. It’s politics and these days there are no sure bets.
Right now President Trump is aiming his venom at Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is head of the investigations about issues tied to Trumps’ behavior and some of his associations. The latest scandal, is the news that Trump had a fling with porn star, Stormy Daniels and was going to pay her $130,000. Trump’s associate, Michael Cohen, was acting as the “middle man” who would deliver the money to Daniels. It’s all played out on TV, radio, talk shows etc. She hired a very sharp attorney, who is often seen on TV with his updates. What a crazy world!
There were many details that are surprising. Michael Cohen is currently being investigated for his dealings, his soliciting money from many different corporations in return for meetings with the President. Cohen has amassed millions of dollars from well-known companies for what, favors? Enhanced protections for these money-making entities? Did the President know how much Cohen was accumulating? Did he give him the go-ahead to solicit millions from well known companies? For what purpose? We have nothing but questions right now.
President Trump has so many ways to reach his base of supporters. He goes to rallies to promote Republican candidates, Republican ideals. Is he actually keeping that base close, so when he runs again for his next term he’ll have a real head start? He gets to brag about his successes, his plans without ever accepting any blame for anything. He has a “scorched earth” policy when it comes to Democrats.
The White House itself has been a revolving door of people hired, and fired for different offices. There are actual scandals with some of his appointees. For example, his cabinet includes some real characters who seem to be in it for the money, the perks they can acquire. The man who runs the Environmental Protection Agency has been giving himself enormous perks, such as his own “private phone system,” a regiment of body guards who travel with him, complete with a siren, in order to get around Washington easier. He needs a clear passage when he’s ready to eat at swanky restaurants.
Some of the se appointments that President Trump made are downright laughable. They are people who see themselves as “special,” needing private planes, first class hotels, special items for their offices like $35,000 dining room tables and much more. They are giving themselves many perks and privileges unheard of in many government offices. It all comes out, little by little over time and it truly is disgusting and disheartening.
President Trump has been after Robert Mueller, who is investigating “bad behavior” by many of Trump’s associations, the people who have been in the White House, who have done special favors, special services in the name of the American public. He is looking for a connection to Russia’s collusion in the election that put Trump into office. Some White House hires shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. Like who? Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted 11 days. There was also the man who battered his wife. There have been a number of people fired and people quitting their jobs. The White House, in many ways, is a “toxic” work site.
We, as taxpayers are supporting all this nonsense with our hard-earned taxes. We offer everything to a new President. An office like no other. He has his every wish granted. Every bad idea is given a serious okay. He wanted to meet with the ruler of North Korea and a date was set. Then President Trump pulled out, saying he wasn’t going to meet with the leader. He sent a letter but, wait, it might still happen! As the President is fond of saying “We’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
We’ve never had a president so self-absorbed into his own thinking, his own ideas and opinions. When he was planning to meet with the leader of North Korea, he stated during a speech that he might win the Nobel Price. “I didn’t say that, other people said it,” was his statement. Oh sure, other people quickly said he should win the Nobel award. Such an idea would never pop in his head, right? Our president is nothing if not alert to any possibilities for praise. If nobody steps up, he’s ready to praise himself, but he’s surrounded by lots of people who know that his outsize ego must be stroked all the time. What a shame that we can’t expect more from the leader of our country.
All we, as citizens, can every do is take care of our own households, our own communities and continue to believe that no matter what happens, our country, our way of life, will persist.
Hang in there.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR May 2018
The world has become a very chaotic, even bizarre place in the past few months. Nothing is surprising to me anymore. The news was about a woman named Stormy Daniels who has been all over the TV landscape because she supposedly had an affair with President Donald Trump. She was offered $130,000 to basically go away. She is a porn star and was all over the news, with her attorney, stating that she was being forced to an agreement for her silence. The president’s attorney claimed that he took out an equity loan against his house in order to pay the money. The lawyer is very loyal to President Trump, but the porn star claims she was harassed by a thug one time in a parking lot. With her baby in the car. She claimed to feel very threatened by the encounter. There s a conflict about the original agreement, because President Trump never actually signed the document(s). Now the president’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is under a lot of pressure by the feds. Will he remain loyal or will he flip on the president?
It parallels events here in California, where some elected legislators have lost their jobs for inappropriate behavior with their staffers. Harassing women seems to be the biggest danger these days on the political scene. But here in California, we’re always trend setters, so we have a female politician who is being charged with inappropriate behavior with male staffers. It boggles the mind!
Sadly, Bill Cosby has just been found guilty of sexual harassment of a woman acquaintance. He has battled accusations from several women who claimed that he drugged them, then took advantage of them sexually. Cosby starred in his own TV show for years that was hugely popular. I enjoyed that TV show myself. It was funny, fresh and presented a typical family getting through everyday problems.
For Bill Cosby to come to such an end is bizarre, to say the least. It reminds me that we, as citizens of the most powerful country in the world, can always be stunned by the behavior of some people here. I am amazed at some of our president’s ideas, his utterances, his unbridled anger, hatred of others. His name calling is ugly and persistent. He goes to rallies and spouts off to applause and cheers. He is incapable of ever saying he might be wrong, about anything. He’s become a president who must be tolerated.
Trump’s world, in the White House must feel like a three-ring circus with people being hired, fired, dismissed, ignored, vilified. Is he admitting only incompetent people as his “helpers’’? The discord and anger among the staff must be paralyzing. How do they get anything “reasonable” done? That’s what I am wondering myself. How can anything good be accomplished in such chaos? President Trump is damaging the reputation, leadership and future of our country with his anger, name calling, bullish behavior and nasty rhetoric. Why is he so protective of Russia and its leader, Putin?
We have policies and structure in place to investigate our concerns about the behavior of leaders. Presidents have had to justify or explain their behavior. It takes a lot of effort and time but the truth comes out. Bad behavior does get examined. Former President Nixon was forced out and former President Clinton was investigated and humiliated on TV for the whole world see and hear. American leaders can be chastised and booted out for bad behavior. Our current president is certainly on the brink of disaster all the time. His arrogance will eventually be his downfall. When it happens we’ll get through it. We may be a little battered but we will prevail.
Is there anything good going on? Yes, there are good things to enjoy, to make up for chaos in high places. We’re coming to the summer season, where events are plentiful. The Playboy Jazz Festival will be coming up in June at the Hollywood Bowl. For jazz fans, it’s essential. It becomes THE event of the year, where top talent is headlined over a two-day weekend. The founder of the festival and founder of Playboy magazine has passed away. He lived a long and interesting life and did a lot to promote jazz.
Sadly, we don’t have as many jazz clubs as we used to have in L.A. Running music venues is a lot of work, so many just couldn’t manage to hang on. Restaurants are the place where jazz is being featured now. We still have a few main spots, such as Catalina’s Vitello’s, Bar Fedora, Vibrato, Viva Cantina and a few others are still very active. There is so much competition now, in the L.A. area, with so many restaurants that many simply can’t afford to hire musicians.
This summer we can find all kinds of music in parks and at some beach locations. Grand Park, downtown, will have big events which often feature music. The L.A. County Museum on Wilshire Blvd. has had a long-running jazz series outdoors. The Autry Museum in Griffith Park has a Latin jazz & salsa program that caters to dancers. It’s a perfect location, with plenty of free parking. Pop music groups can be found all over our area so check with local newspapers for events. Many of these events are free.
The Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival takes place on May 26 & 27 at Rancho Santa Susana Community Park. The lineup includes Eddie Money, Dave Mason, Devon All,am Project with Duane Betts, The Chambers Brothers, Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band plus many more. For more info see www.simicajun.org and/or www.cajunbluesblog.com
There is an alternative to worry and strife…it’s called music!
Hang in there.