An afternoon in my bubble. A good bubble.

I had to go get a haircut.  So I did.  In the late afternoon.

I walked into Raphael’s, a barber shop owned by an Iranian women who runs the shop like clockwork. There were five folks cutting hair; and about 10 waiting. From the looks of it, the United Nations; people from everywhere.

My turn came up. Ah, it’s Jose! Good. He cut my hair last time so I don’t have to explain how I want it to look. Jose remembered me. We chatted. It did not take long to go to THE issue of the day, immigration. He shared with me that a cousin of his was stuck in Honduras, being extremely vetted. Never mind that his cousin is a native born USA citizen… He may have to miss their aunt’s birthday.

I shared with him that my nephew, a Cuban born immigration lawyer is visiting Mexico with his wife, whose family has deep roots in the American west. (Her family did not cross the border, the border crossed them.) They have old relatives across the Rio Grande. So they took their USA born son to visit relatives. They are sending pictures. From the looks of it, they are having a good time… Hope they have no issues coming back in. They shouldn’t, right? They are all USA citizens. We’ll see. (Why should we even be worried about such absurdity?!?)

Afterwards I went to our unique comic book store, Alliance comics. I wanted to show them the comic books I just found in my attic. These are Archie and Fantastic Four comic books from the late 60’s, mostly in Spanish. The clerk – an African American young man – was really engaging and helpful as we tried to determine whether I want to sell these or keep them for my new grandson. I decided to keep them. I asked if he had some comic books in German, since my grandson’s mother is of German heritage and we want to teach him German as well… He said he did not have any at the time, but would help me get them.

A short walk around the corner – down Bonifant Street – I stopped by to get some local wine from our local wine producer, the Urban Winery, owned by an amazing couple of Greek heritage. On the way there, I ran across the owner of Mandalay, our Burmese restaurant. He tells me he is open on
Sunday… I have to check it out for brunch…

Across the Urban Winery is Silver Spring Books, owned by Mrs. Cynthia, one of our African American matriarchs in the community. Mrs. Cynthia is up in age; she recently fell – but is ok, so tells me the old white guy taking care of the place as she recuperates… (The space is looking for a second tenant to help out with the rent.)

… had to take a walk through Mayor Lane to see how things are going for the Studio Plaza development, a major mix use development – one of five going up in downtown Silver Spring … Lots of commotion and disruption; working on trying to minimize the impacts…

On Silver Spring Avenue I stopped by Roadhouse Oldies, a vinyl record store – one of four in downtown Silver Spring!  They have what has to be the best collection of 70’s soul music LPs. I mentioned to Scooter, the owner/operator, that I may bring over some of my own collection, including one autographed by Gladys Knight. (Yes, THE Gladys Knight, before the Pips. She actually grew up in the same little hometown where I spent a few years of my childhood – Hampton, Georgia.)

Last stop for the late afternoon: Lesaac Restaurant, one of twenty one (yes, 21!) Ethiopian eateries/cafes in downtown Silver Spring, to meet a resident activist who relentlessly advocates for these independently locally owned businesses in the area known as Fenton Village. This white lady is a firestorm of an activist. As a white person living in a very mixed community, she has gained the trust of many – and fear of some – to make things happen in the community… We had a couple of drinks as we ‘talked community’… (Though I had to share with my good Ethiopian bartender that a Cuba Libre is more Coke than rum rather than the strong rum and (little bit) of Coke she brought me. We both laughed. By the way, the injera sushi was great!)

Finally got home. My wife called. She is in Kenya doing the good work of the National Institute of Health in the HIV/AIDs world… Of course she is doing a bit of shopping in a market before coming home.

And so it was. My bubble. Love it!

My hope remains that the rest of America – particularly White America – realizes that connecting with the world is a beautiful, wonderful, positive thing… This crazy ‘chest-pumping’, fear-filled, nativism of the “America First” cry is not only divisive, but also culturally and economically a bad idea.

We have so much to learn from these amazing cultures that come to America to – together – build on this imperfect and dysfunctional Union… Of course not everyone that comes over – or those from the African-American or American-Mexican heritages that have been around here for centuries – are model citizens. Some are right down bad criminals. (Not unlike the Whites, right?) Yes, bad hombres… AND – not but – casting all these folks as dangerous to America is simply a bad idea. And – ultimately – un-American.

As for me, I will continue enJoying my bubble… AND #RESIST this loud, boisterous, warped minority who insist on creating an America that is simply not my America.

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This is no joke or exaggeration. He is proposing to ELIMINATE these programs COMPLETELY

I will not make a habit of this. (That is, to post things found elsewhere… But this list was too good to pass up. It appeared on CNN’s web-site.)

Oh, how we wish we could ‘move on’… Yet, are YOU ok with the complete elimination [i.e.: “zero out”] of these federal programs? Trump’s budget is… This is no joke or exaggeration. He is proposing to ELIMINATE these programs COMPLETELY… (If you do not know what these programs do, we suggest you take the time to Google them. Just because they do not impact you directly – or you don’t think they do! – does not mean they are not worthwhile and worthy of your hard-earned tax dollars.)


• The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before- and after-school programs and summer programs
• Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which funds research including clean energy
• African Development Foundation
• Appalachian Regional Commission
• Chemical Safety Board
• Community Development Block Grant, which in part funds Meals on Wheels
• Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grants, under Treasury
• Community Services Block Grant, under HHS
• Corporation for National and Community Service
• Corporation for Public Broadcasting
• Delta Regional Authority
• Denali Commission
• Economic Development Administration
• Essential Air Service program
• Global Climate Change Initiative
• Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Chesapeake Bay funding, and other regional programs under EPA.
• HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program, all under HUD
• Institute of Museum and Library Services
• Inter-American Foundation
• US Trade and Development Agency
• Legal Services Corporation
• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
• McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program
• Minority Business Development Agency, under Commerce
• National Endowment for the Arts
• National Endowment for the Humanities
• NASA’s Office of Education
• Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
• Northern Border Regional Commission
• Overseas Private Investment Corporation
• State Energy Program
• Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, the second-largest program feds have used to influence local education
• TIGER transportation grants
• United States Institute of Peace
• United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
• Weatherization Assistance Program
• Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

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He has scared us straight! His tough talk is evidently working.

Unemployment down. Number of people crossing the border down.

Stock market way up. Number of people entering the job market way up.

Woohoo for Trump, right?

He has scared us straight! His tough talk is evidently working. People are falling in line.

No time for questions. No need for the press. America is great again! Whoohoo!

Military might reaffirmed, check. Police power enforced, check. Communications controlled, check… Trump is trumping the world!

Increase the military budget. Embolden police to be more aggressive. Discredit the press.

Don’t you just feel it in the air? Can’t you just sense that we are back? We have the power again!

We knew it all along, right? All we needed was tough talk and scaring others with ‘in your face’ display of power.

Oh you wimpy liberals, progressives, and do-gooders! You thought you were in control. Ha!

We should have seen it coming. We never counted on the vile revenge of the combination of  uneducated whites and educated dogmatic evangelical believers. We never counted on the last hurrah of these two diminishing demographic groups that were not about to give up without one final fight… So they came together to form this toxic concoction that is the Trump administration.

Now, you’d better go back home you illegals. Behave boy! Hombre, pick those apples and shut up! Fix that tail light lest you be charged with driving while black or brown… The Jews? We’ll scare you too with a little fire here and there… Don’t you know your place? Ah, the sweet smell of making America great again!

… or is it the sickening stench?

Oh, how different would it be if we were talking about rebuilding schools at home and abroad; about staffing clinics with addiction counselors in America and building clinics in the third world; about cleaning up the water system in Flint and providing food for the famine in Africa; about celebrating the arts in local communities and throughout the world; and, encouraging neighborhood sports programs and engaging in sports diplomacy…

But no.

Those are frivolous, feel-good, non-essentials priorities of the Left that left and is no more.

We have to show strength. We have to let the world know America is for Americans first. We have to save our own

“Our own”, that is, as in our own wealthy and wealth creators. Our own owners of the American pie; our own military complex… Never mind that they are the 1% who have been in power all along and our military continues inventing enemies to justify their ever increasing appetite for larger budgets…

Too bad.

For a short while there I truly thought we had turned the corner and America was on its way to shedding its egoist past as it became a member of the world family. For a moment there I thought we would respect other peoples, nations, and cultures and pursue diplomacy from the perspective of mutual support rather than from the zero-sum game of ‘I win you lose’. For a moment there I thought diversity was truly a national value. For a moment there I thought we cared.

Oh how foolish of me.

We are no different, no better, no more caring than anyone else in this dysfunctional crazy world… (At least for now. Under this Administration.)

Our time will come. We will do what it takes to make it be sooner rather than later…. (America is better than this.)

Onwards. Protest. Resist.

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Opposite take on populism: Trump and Francis

We are told that Trump’s rise to power is all about him ‘telling it like it is’ in ‘everyday language’; in a way that ‘the common man can understand it’.

Hmmm… Same thing for Pope Francis. Populism itself is not bad. Indeed, it can be good. Very good!

He too ‘tells it like it is’ in ‘everyday language’ and in a way that the ‘common man – and women – can understand it.’

Their statements have a simplicity factor to them. You don’t need a college degree to understand them. You don’t need to be learned to relate. They convey the message without filters. They are to the point.

Oftentimes they are also broad ranging, sweeping statements that confront traditional, established norms. Their statement do not adhere to any given traditional style. There is a freshness to it.

And thus their appeal.

‘Tell it like it is!’, we like to acclaim. ‘You are saying what I am feeling’; ‘Yeah, that’s right.’

There’s an uncanny similarities to Trump and Francis approach to getting out their message…

 

EXCEPT.

Except one comes at it from a populism that pulls at our gut’s visceral instinct and the other pulls our heart strings.

Trump’s populism is divisive and void of empathy. Francis’ populism is first and foremost empathetic and forgiving.

 

When either misspeaks or exaggerates, or overly simplifies things we tend to look the other way, chalk it up to them being ‘everyday men’.

EXCEPT

Except that when Trump does it is hurtful, mean-spirited and seemingly intentionally malicious. When the Pope does it, it is humbly simplistic and idealistic.

 

Two very different approaches to populism. Trump’s populism appeals to our worst self. Pope Francis populism appeals our better self.

 

There are gazillion of examples of quotes from these two men out in the Internet… Just three to sum it all up:

Francis: A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.

Trump: Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!

 

Francis: We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.

Trump: The point is, you can never be too greedy.

 

Francis: You can not insult the faith of others.

Trump: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.

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