So the other day I saw this play, Protest, by Václav Havel. You remember Havel: he was the founding President of the Czech Republic, and before that the first President of a free Czechoslovakia. But before that he was a playwright, and also a prison inmate. The two vocations were related.
I do not normally read, or review, children’s books because I am not a child, I have no children, and I principally appreciate children as metaphors or plot devices. My loss, I know, but there you have it.
However, recently a story, written for children, came to my attention which so astutely captured the function of stories that I would be stupid not to mention it. Captain Devin and His Little Red Boat is the Continue reading Smiling Through Bad Weather
The journalist April Ryan has written a book about African-American mothers, and the effect that they have on their communities and their children. I am a sixty-five year-old man with no children, and I am as white as Dick Cheney. Thus I am, or should be, the book’s target market. Continue reading White House Journalist’s New Book, “At Mama’s Knee”
If you’re a writer, your imagination is fixed on certain markers. Continue reading BAM! Selling Capital City, One Book at a Time
So in Splinterlands, the very unusual novel by John Feffer, the world has fallen to tribalism. We’re not talking about Brexit or the dissolution of Yugoslavia; we’re talking about the Walloons of South Brussels at war with the Flemish of North Brussels and the Independent Nation of Vermont and New Hampshire. It is the war of all against all, and, yes, somebody’s making a profit.
For those of us who toil for the spotlight — on behalf (like me) of a book, or a movie, or a political point of view — television is not exactly a seller’s market, but it is more of a seller’s market than it was, say, in 1951, when there were only two nationwide networks. Continue reading Capital City on TV — Watch It Now
Here’s what you believe, if you’re like me: the day you become a published author — Published! Author! by a real Publishing House! — your life is transformed. Continue reading The Day After I Became a Published Author
January 20, 2017 — President Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office as the nation’s forty-fifth president. In his inaugural address, he reiterates his pledge to build a wall between the United States Continue reading President Trump’s First Year in Office
January 20, 2017 — President Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office as the nation’s forty-fifth president. In his inaugural address, he reiterates his pledge to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and promises that Mexico will pay for it. He also announces his intention to sign two Executive Orders — one requiring that anyone attempting to transfer money to Mexico show proof of legal status, and the other rescinding US participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement and slapping a high tariff on Mexican goods sold in the United States. “I’ll reconsider these orders when Mexico agrees to pay for the wall,” he explains.
January 21, 2017 — Mexican President Enrique Nieto announces that President Trump’s abrogation of NAFTA acts as a de facto abrogation of all treaties between the United States and Mexico, including those involving cooperation between the two nations in the war against drugs. Nieto gives DEA agents in Mexico forty-eight hours to leave the country.
January 25, 2017 — In a major foreign policy address, President Trump announces there will be “no more free ride” for America’s allies in NATO. “We will no longer contribute more to our mutual defense than other wealthy countries, like Germany, France and England,” President Trump says. In addition, Trump says that he will be reducing military forces in South Korea and Japan.
January 28, 2017 — Mexico legalizes marijuana for recreational use.
February 1, 2017 — Observers note that President Trump’s 2017-2018 budget includes $10 billion for building the wall and $100 billion for rounding up illegal immigrants and deporting them back to their home countries. Trump calls the $10 billion “an interim loan” which Mexico will repay, and says the $100 billion “is probably more than we need, but we picked that number just to be safe.”
February 12, 2017 — President Trump says it’s “back to the drawing board” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iranian nuclear agreement. “This time, we’ll negotiate from a position of strength,” the President says.
February 15, 2017 — Venmo, an app which allows people to transfer money between countries using their cell phones, reports a 400% increase in business since the first of the year. At the same time, Western Union reports that “virtually no one” is using their money-transfer services to move money to Mexico or anywhere else, and that it is considering dropping the service.
February 19, 2017 — FBI Agents arrest the Officers and Directors of Venmo on the charge of advancing terrorism. The specific act for which they are charged involved an undocumented immigrant who transmitted $400 to his family in Mexico City, using Venmo. Venmo is shut down.
February 21, 2017 — Happy Days, a new dark-web application, springs up. It allows people to transfer money between countries using their cell phones. In its first week, Happy Days does nearly a billion dollars worth of business. Homeland Security officials determine that Happy Days is based in Russia.
February 27, 2017 — Chancellor Angela Merkel announces that Germany will no longer observe a trade boycott of Russia, and enters into negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a long-term trade agreement.
March 1, 2017 — America First, LLC, a new company headed by Jack Pitulski, a longtime Trump subcontractor, wins the competition to build the wall between Mexico and the U.S., offering to do the job for $9.87 billion.
March 10, 2017 — Trade negotiations with China being at a standstill, President Trump announces a new round of tariffs on goods imported from China.
March 20, 2017 — Vice President Jeff Sessions presides over a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Mexican border south of Chula Vista, California. He tells a cheering throng of Americans that the project will be completed “within a year” and that after that there would be “no more rapists, no more drug dealers, no more murderers.”
April 1, 2017 — President Trump signs the Muslim Registration Act into law. Under its terms, all Muslims living in the U.S. must register between May 1 and May 15.
April 2, 2017 — China announces retaliatory tariffs against American goods.
April 11, 2017 — In Iran, Revolutionary Guard Major General Mohammad Jafari, generally considered a hard-liner, defeats incumbent President Hassan Rouhani to become President of Iran.
April 20, 2017 — following days of Anti-American rioting, Saudi Arabia recalls its US ambassador.
May 1, 2017 — In response to a call on social media for an “I am Spartacus” day, more than seven million people — about twice the estimated number of Muslims in America — show up to register as Muslims, overwhelming registrars.
May 10, 2017 — French President Francoise Hollande announces that his country is ending its boycott of Iran and will enter negotiations with Iranian President Jafari on a long-term trade deal.
May 12, 2017 — The DEA reported that methamphetamine abuse was responsible for forty-eight deaths in Arizona in March. “That’s just people on meth killing each other or themselves,” a DEA spokesperson said. “That doesn’t even include gang killings.” A DEA source said, “It’s worse than it’s ever been. It’s all coming from Mexico. It’s like the government doesn’t care over there.”
May 19, 2017 — The Department of Labor announces that it will investigate claims that employees of America First, LLC, which is building the Mexican wall, are not being paid the amount required by the Davis-Bacon Act.
May 26, 2017 — Germany and Russia announce that they have entered a long-term trade treaty. President Trump compares the agreement to the pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union prior to World War II.
June 2, 2017 — Western Union announces that it has filed for protection under the Bankruptcy Act, laying off 7,000 employees.
June 11, 2017 — Officials of the Treasury Department announce that they have been unable to sell a sufficient number of Treasury Bonds to pay for next year’s projected deficit. According to a Treasury spokesperson, China — which has been selling off its American debt — did not offer to purchase any more debt, and oil companies, another traditional purchaser of American debt, bought less debt because diminishing oil prices had reduced their available cash.
June 19, 2017 — The Department of Labor announces its findings that America First, LLC is in violation of the Davis-Bacon Act by underpaying its employees.
June 20, 2017 — President Trump fires the Secretary of Labor.
June 30, 2017 — Presidents Nieto of Mexico and Putin of Russia announced a $1.5-trillion trade agreement.
July 1, 2017 — NATO dissolves.
July 8, 2017– America First, LLC announces that cost overruns will require it to renegotiate its contract with the United States.
July 15, 2017 — In a surprise move, Russia buys up all remaining American debt, at an interest rate half a point higher than originally offered.
July 23-24, 2017 — Russia invades Ukraine and conquers it within 48 hours. President Trump says “not every country wants independence or a Western-style democracy.”
August 11, 2017 — former Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who was once heavyweight boxing champion of the world, is found hanged in his jail cell. President Putin promises an investigation.
August 18, 2017 — A New York Times investigation reveals that America First, LLC, is using undocumented aliens to build the wall between Mexico and the U.S.
August 19, 2017 — President Trump announces at a press conference that he has instructed the Attorney General to sue the Times for slander against the government.
August 20, 2017 — The “Trumpeteers”, a large citizen group organized to support President Trump’s initiatives, pass a resolution urging him to invade Mexico in order to suppress the drug trade and “pay for the damn wall”. At a press conference, President Trump says, “I’m considering this, frankly.”
August 31, 2017 — Mexico and Russia enter a mutual defense treaty. The Russians are given a base in the Southern Mexico town of Oaxaca. The Mexicans set up a base in Kiev, the former capital of the former Ukraine.
September 8, 2017 — America First, LLC stops work on the Mexican wall for lack of funds. President Trump asserts that this stoppage is “a direct result of the slanderous articles in the New York Times.”
September 15, 2017 — Attorney General Chris Christie admits that there is no legal way for the United States to sue the New York Times for slander, and urges Congress to pass legislation which would allow it to do so.
September 16, 2017 — President Trump fires Attorney General Christie, saying “we need somebody who can get the job done.” Deputy Attorney General Harold Meeks becomes Acting Attorney General.
September 19, 2017 — Acting Attorney General Meeks files a complaint in Federal Court in the Southern District of New York, accusing the New York Times of slander against the United States.
October 1, 2017 — District Court Judge Sarah Milovich dismisses The United States v. The New York Times even before the defendant has answered the suit. “The Alien and Sedition Acts were repealed two hundred years ago,” she pointed out.
October 2, 2017 — President Trump fires Acting Attorney General Meeks for filing the lawsuit in the wrong court. “He should have filed it in Alabama,” the President explained. “They’ve got good judges there.” The Solicitor General, who is next in line for Attorney General, resigns, as does the entire senior Department of Justice staff. The Attorney General position remains vacant. “I’ll be my own Attorney General,” President Trump says.
October 11, 2017 — Said Hassam, a Moslem living in Laredo, Texas, entered an elementary school and opened fire on a sixth-grade class, killing the teacher and twelve students before killing himself. Hassam left no note or indication on social media as to the reason for his bloody act. He left a wife and four-month-old child behind.
October 12, 2017 — The home in which Hassam’s widow and child live is doused in gasoline and the two are burned alive. “This is what we do to the relatives of terrorists,” one of the arsonists, who identified himself as a “Trumpeteer”, said in an anonymous note to Laredo Times.
October 13, 2017 — “This is not what I meant,” President Trump says in response to the slaughter of Hassam’s widow and baby. But in the same press conference, he says, “I can understand how people would be inflamed.”
October 14, 2017 — Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar withdraw their Ambassadors from Washington.
October 15, 2017 — Russia invades and occupies the Republic of Georgia. Some now call Russia and its occupied states “the new Soviet Union” but Russian President Putin is careful not to use that term.
November 1, 2017 — South of Plaster City, California, the easternmost point of the uncompleted wall, two border guards open fire on a group of Mexicans attempting to enter the United States. Among those killed is a 3-year-old girl.
November 3, 2017 — The Border Guards announce that they have suspended the guards who fired upon the Mexicans pending an investigation.
November 4, 2017 — President Trump reinstates the guards, claiming “they were only doing what they were supposed to be doing.”
November 17, 2017 — President Nieto of Mexico breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States, expels all Americans from Mexico, withdraws from the Organization of American States, and bans the importation of American goods to Mexico.
November 20, 2017 — A joint operation by Syrian, Iranian, and Russian troops succeed in driving ISIS out of Syria. “See, I told you we’d crush ISIS without risking American lives,” President Trump says.
December 1, 2017 — Jack Pitulski, the CEO of America First LLC, is found dead in his palatial mansion, an apparent suicide.
December 8, 2017 — Rhetoric between the North Korean and South Korean governments has reached levels of bellicosity “not seen since the Korean war” according to intelligence sources.
December 9, 2017 — Shots fired across the DMZ result in the death of a South Korean soldier. South Korean soldiers retaliate by destroying a guardhouse with a bazooka.
December 10, 2017 — North Korea invades South Korea, overwhelming defense forces and conquering the country within 24 hours. An estimated 135,000 Americans are trapped inside.
December 11, 2017 — President Trump tells North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to release the Americans or “prepare to be incinerated.”
December 12, 2017 — Supreme Leader Kim releases a YouTube video showing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her cabinet being blown apart by antiaircraft fire. At the end of the video, he informs President Trump that he will release the Americans in return for 135 million tons of grain. He also informs Trump that he has hidden an atomic bomb somewhere in the United States and he will detonate it if the US takes any aggressive action toward him.
December 15, 2017 — Greece defaults on its debt and exits the European Union.
December 16, 2017 — Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Putin jointly announce that Greece will join the Russian-led Eurasian Union.
December 17, 2017 — Without fanfare, the United States transfers 135 million tons of grain to Korea in return for the American prisoners.
December 25, 2017 — Merry Christmas!
December 28, 2017 — Time Magazine names Russian President Vladimir Putin its person of the year. In a wide-ranging interview, Putin calls Donald Trump “the best American President of my lifetime.” According to Putin, President Trump “heroically took America out of the nation-building business, so that it could take care of its own horrible economic problems.”
January 1-3, 2018 — ISIS, seemingly demolished by the Russian-Iranian assault, regroups to expand its holdings in Iraq. The Iraqi government seems incapable of response and ISIS overwhelms the country in three days, finishing by beheading anyone identified as being supportive of Americans.
January 4, 2018 — When asked about the fall of Iraq, President Trump says, “they can have it. It’s a miserable country, anyway.”
January 10, 2018 — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that he will be working with Iran to develop a Japanese nuclear weapons program.
January 11, 2018 — The Washington Post announced that the Palestinian government is developing nuclear weapons. In response, President Trump reminds the Post that “it’s not immune to a suit for slander against the government.”
January 15, 2018 — The government of Afghanistan falls to the Taliban.
January 20, 2018 — President Trump marks the first anniversary of his term of office, observing “America’s getting greater again.”
I cast my first vote — I say this now with a sort of perverse pride — for Richard Nixon, whose administration created EPA, devised a way to get government contracts to minority-owned firms, passed the Clean Air Act, ended the war in Viet Nam, and brought the PRC onto the international stage.