Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Consumer Genetic Testing: The Road Unfortunately Not Taken in Germany

Breast cancer patients should be as informed as possible about the causes--often myriad, often unknowable--of their illness. Although cancer can theoretically be caused by things as random as an accidental genetic mutation or consumption of sugar and wine, several known genetic causes can be determined with a simple saliva test (spit in a tube, pay a nominal fee, and FedEx the sample to a lab). For fees ranging from $149 or less up to around $500, American and British citizens can find out whether they have a statistical likelihood of developing cancer and a range of other ills. Personally, I'm interested in the $249 offer from Color Genomics for the following genes known to be involved in breast cancer and other ills:

APC, ATM, BAP1, BARD1, BMPR1A, BRCA1, BRCA2, BRIP1, CDH1, CDK4*, CDKN2A(p14ARF),
CDKN2A (p16INK4a), CHEK2, EPCAM*, GREM1*, MITF*, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, MUTYH, NBN, PALB2,
PMS2**, POLD1*, POLE*, PTEN, RAD51C, RAD51D, SMAD4, STK11, TP53 


The thing is, I live in Germany, a nation devoted to rules and regulations. I can buy the Color Genomics test, or the 23andme test on the Internet and send back a saliva sample, but I can't get the results as long as I'm physically present in Germany. If I want a BRCA gene test in Germany, I have to pay a lab between three and four thousand dollars, because my health insurance company  pays for such tests only when two other female relatives have breast cancer. I'm statistically unlikely to have a gene that causes cancer because I'm the only woman in my family who has it. But I'd like to know for sure, and I'd like to be able to inform my twelve-year-old daughter whether we're free of cancer-causing genes. She'd like to know, too.
I sent emails to the German Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, ccing my physicians, and to the Deutschkrebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center) detailing my reasons for wishing to be able to buy an inexpensive test. The Cancer Center replied at length, including many websites I've already toured, but here's the meat of the message:
In Germany, predictive genetic testing may only be performed by specialized physicians qualified in human genetics after a thorough adequate information and counselling of the patient. 
For more information, please see the German Genetic Diagnostics Act (Gendiagnostikgesetz):
https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/gendg/gesamt.pdf .

For a qualified counselling, patients can refer to one of the centers of the German Consortium of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (GCHBOC):
http://www.konsortium-familiaerer-brustkrebs.de/das-konsortium/zentren-des-konsortiums/

Contact details of the center in Düsseldorf are directly available at:
http://www.uniklinik-duesseldorf.de/unternehmen/kliniken/frauenklinik/ 

There are special contracts between these centers and the health insurance companies concerning reimbursement of the costs for an interdisciplinary consultation, and, if applicable, for extensive genetic tests for identification of BRCA mutations.

The German Consortium of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (GCHBOC) urgently advises against so called "direct-to-consumer" tests which are offered for example in the USA because there is no neutral non-directive counselling of the patients and such tests are usually focusing on frequent BRCA mutations (i.e., rare mutations can be overlooked resulting in a false negative test result).
In other words, Germany likes to regulate. Why? The reasons given fall into one of two categories:
(1) Paternalism, as in doctors feel they are better qualified to receive and give information. They don't want patients to receive information that may lead to decisions doctors find unwise. 
There are always people who jump out a window or arrange for a body part to be removed when they get medical information they don't like. But that unhappy fact should not determine social policy. Just because some women choose prophylactic mastectomies doesn't mean that genetic testing should be restricted.
(2) Protectionism. Labs make lots of money selling tests. They'd make less money if companies like Color Genomics, 23andme,  Invitae . . . oh, there are others, too . . . were in on the game. 
So what's a girl with breast cancer who wants answers to do? Make an appointment with Dr. So-in-So at Hotshot hospital in New York. That's what.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Unexpected Side Effects: Four Tips for Breast Cancerians

(1) Chemotherapy curls your hair! After you lose it, that is, and after it starts to grow back as hard little stubbles that hurt when you lie down. One day you realize your hair's gotten soft again. Then comes the moth-eaten nun look, or the determined dyke or the Roman-emperor do. Then comes the curls. Or the cowlicks. Remember Tintin's big old cowlick? Lots of those, plus tight little curls.

(2) You start watching Grey's Anatomy. There's an episode somewhere in the fifth season that saved an Israeli woman's life. She'd found a lump while breast-feeding and her doctor said it was just a clogged milk duct. A character on Grey's Anatomy was told the same thing, had second thoughts, and got a second opinion. The Israeli woman got her own second opinion after watching that episode. TV saved her life. Besides, the spectacle of interns kissing attending surgeons in stairwells, anesthesiologists dozing off on duty while drunk, nutcases getting shot on purpose as performance art, is all so distracting that I hardly think about my own cancer. When I do, I'm more clearheaded about what to do next.

(3) You make a will. And it's about time, Sweetie.

(4) You learn to take one thing at a time. When you panic, as I did the other day upon learning that I had to have another surgery, you tend to do many things at a time, or to think frantically about doing many things. Now's the time to slow down, make a list, and focus on the first thing before moving nervously to the second.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Cookies with the Critical Mom

I make the kind you roll out and refrigerate: here's the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10402/the-best-rolled-sugar-cookies/

We've had some delightful results. My son produced a "Diabetes" cookie:
For a sugar rush, if not actual diabetes, eat some of these!!


My daughter made one with the four houses of Hogwarts:
Clockwise, from left: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff
And now for a glimpse of our other cookies:
One way we plan not to lose weight this holiday season

 
Have yourselves a yummy, yummy Christmas! I recommend cookies with red wine. Or milk.


  


















Thursday, December 22, 2016

I Went to the Christmas Market

Because I wanted to smell the Glühwein and spices; because I wanted to see if I'd missed some one thing I wanted to buy my husband or children; because I have time, at least for the next few days, to feel lazy. Police presence was obvious, and a police car--lone barrier to any runaway trucks that might be around--flanked one end of the pedestrian walkway. Near the other end, I saw a truck slowly moving past a few booths, but it did not pick up speed and crash through anything or anyone. I bought nothing: I just walked around with the increasingly irate feeling that I had a right to be there, and damned if I'd stay home.
We all have a right to be at the Christmas market, to enjoy the season, to relax. Relaxation has never come naturally to me, even less so today as I looked over my shoulder and listened for slight changes in noise-and-laughter level. I thought of Berlin, I thought of Germany, I thought of a world grated at by Donald Trump--but our Christmas market is still standing, and people are still buying little wooden angels, sausages, and mittens. It's still Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The "Dear Lucky Agent" Writing Contest

Hey there, all you writers--here's a not-to-be missed opportunity:  the 28th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a FREE recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. If you’re writing a memoir, then this 28th contest is for you! The contest is live through end of day, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. The contest is judged by agent Jennifer Wills of the The Seymour Agency.  Here's link to details: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/28th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-memoir?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=wds-csa-nl-161130&utm_content=901736_GLA161130&utm_medium=email

The Critical Mom is entering of course, with--what else? A memoir called Divorcing Mom.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lumpectomy 101: How To Have One in Nine Not So Easy Steps

What's it like? Depends on how many lumps they're removing. The surgery's a big nothing if, like one friend of mine, you've just got a speck, "crystals" on a mammogram, no cancer, you're in and out the same day, "no big deal," an aspiration. Pain levels go up according to the number of lumps (lymph nodes, actually) removed. I was advised they'd be taking out eight-to-ten, and although I'm sore, I got out of the hospital on the same weekend I went in. Here's what to expect:
1. Doctor drawing magic marker lines where he or she is planning to cut. This is done while you're gooey with ultrasound gel.
2. Mammogram plus insertion of wire in breast (yeouch!) in order to help the surgeon find the tumor that chemotherapy shrunk.
3. Photo op: "just from chin to waist!" they said, but of course, you're naked and have a lot of tape and bandages on the breast with the wire dangling from it. 
4. Surgery. I don't remember too much about this part, except the slight bungle with anesthesia: while a large amount of it was being chugged into my arm, the nurse had neglected to remove the very tight blood pressure cuff on my upper arm. Result: the kind of pain you feel if your hand gets slammed in a car door. This problem was quickly remedied and I don't remember the rest.
5. Wake up very thirsty and hungry. Get fed. Discover that you are wearing two vacuum bottles attached to tubes extending from the incisions: this is your drainage system, and when there's the right amount of lymph, blood, and goo in there, you get to have the tubes removed and go home. 
6. Yes, it does hurt when those tubes are removed, but only for a moment, but yes, about three times as much as a shot.
7. Photo op two! The "after" shots.
8. You put on your compression bra, for which you were fitted back around step 2, and keep it on pretty much for the next three weeks, unless you're taking a shower. 
9. The black ones really have  dominatrix look. Smile back at your image: you've earned the look. 


Friday, December 9, 2016

Why Doesn't Twitter Shut Down Trump's Account?

Well? Isn't Lauren Batchelder's story enough?
http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/12/trumps-harassment-of-an-18-year-old-girl-on-twitter-led-to-death-threats.html
Way beyond enough! We are way, way beyond over-the-top enough. 
While I'm asking, why hasn't the FBI been investigated by the Justice Department? Why is Comey still walking around? Why are Trump's taxes still hidden? Why is the New York Times still not writing about business fraud, or any of the above? Where is the Deep Throat who can bring out the secret that will remove Trump from office before he takes it?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Critical Mom's Cold

I do seem not to be able to get through Winter without at least one cold. I keep a dispenser of hand sanitizer in my office. Despite religious use of the stuff, I can't escape the coughs of my students, who insist on handing me their bacteria-laden term papers. Or my children, who get every cup of tea they request from me. And despite gallons of tea made with honey, fresh ginger, and lemon, plus my comfort drink, the laryngitis got so bad I couldn't talk at all (shouldn't have gone in to teach on Monday and Tuesday) so I went to the doctor who has prescribed a three-day antibiotic. I took one this morning and crawled back into bed and damn, but the stuff is already working! I'm coughing up the green stuff that refused to emerge before, despite all healthier remedies, including loads of hot steam. These are the consequences of a childhood spent practically teething on antibiotics: I just can't seem to master one of these really bad colds without them. At any rate, recovery would take weeks of lying in bed and who's got weeks? I wonder what Hillary Clinton would have done. If I know her, she'd have chowed down on the antibiotics and then, through an effort of extreme will, kept going long past the point when I would have been collapsing in bed. This kind of infection does separate the girls from the goddesses . . .

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Comfort Drink: A Recipe

This one's seasonal--goes with colds as well as Christmas. Take a glass of sweet red wine--I used König Arthur Republik Moldau, or King Arthur Red Wine from Moldavia, available at our local Aldi's for one euro fifty-nine cents per bottle. Pour wine in small pot on stove. Add: a cinnamon stick (plain cinnamon as  powder will do), a chunk of fresh ginger, a few cloves (again, the powdered stuff will do) and two small tangerines or clementines (discard peels and add sections to wine). Put on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid boils. Pour into huge mug. Add a teabag of fruit tea--hibiscus is nice, as is orange, but anything you like--and pour in a little boiling water. Add about a tablespoon of honey. Stir. Drink. Soothes a scratchy throat; allows one to stop worrying about Trump, at least for a few moments.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Comfort Food: Recipe Fast, Easy, Healthy

If you haven't come across spelt semolina, you'll find it a pleasant alternative to oatmeal. I pour half a coffee mug of the stuff (known in Germany as Dinkelgriess) into a pot and add a coffee mugful of whole milk and a dash of sea salt. Stir. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly--a whisk is best. When most of the milk is absorbed, pour the hot cereal into a bowl--you'll probably need a scraper to get every drop. You can add a bit more salt, butter, and milk--or you can add blueberries and cream. Or maple syrup. Or raw sugar and cream. Or a compote. A truly comforting winter food.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump and Messala: A Comparison

For those of you too young to remember the chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur, in which the hero, Judah Ben-Hur, is betrayed by his best friend, Messala, there's always the 2016 version, but I'll always love the original Ben-Hur as underdog, winning even though Messala's chariot, with blades attached to the hubs, destroys a number of fine charioteers. Fitting out a chariot with these blades was definitely not sporting, but allowed. You're not sorry when Messala dies a lingering death. He's always been a smooth-talking backstabber. Besides, he beats his horses unmercifully before horsewhipping Ben-Hur, in a segment even the Roman spectators boo. (Never mind that in real life, Ben Hur, the handsome Charlton Heston became the NRA's best buddy, and Messala, the steamily masculine Stephen Boyd, cozied up to the Scientologists. Heston and Boyd were such great actors).
The scene makes me think of the Republican president-elect. His activities skirt the legalities in such invisible or suppressed ways that you'd think he was merely "not sporting." In today's New York Times, I read that President-elect Donald J. Trump has already built a wall — not on the border with Mexico, but on the border of his exclusive golf course in northeastern Scotland, blocking the sea view of local residents who refused to sell their homes. All this wall-building appears to be mildly on the side of legality, and local residents aren't pleased.
What a red herring, New York Times. Why not go after the bigger stories? Who's going to investigate the FBI? Who's going to go after Trump's taxes? His shady business dealings? Who's going to let the women at least continue to tell their stories instead of being frightened into silence? Is there a Charlotte Corday around who might tiptoe into Trump's bath? In my dreams she's Melania, and in gratitude, a Statue of Melania gets erected in New York Harbor. I hear myself whispering: Go, girl, go. He's not too nice to you and the kid, is he?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hurrah for Hamilton!

I couldn't have been prouder seeing the cast of Hamilton out there on stage politely airing the concerns of anyone who didn't vote for Trump and of many who did. Brandon Victor Dixon, I love you. How I wish I'd been there to see your talk in person. 
But along comes the boogeyman demanding an apology. Please don't apologize, Mr. Dixon. Let him apologize for bullying Mrs. Clinton, for all those shouted insults and interruptions to her on the debate stage and elsewhere. If you got the boogeyman in his substantial gut, then good for you.  Now here are Mr. Dixon's words, the ones I want for my children to remember: 

"Thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of ALL of us. Thank you."

While I'm cheering him on again, let me ask why the FBI isn't going after the boogeyman? Are they already eating out of the palm of his hand? Sing on, Hamilton! 

Best case scenario: Mike Penn thanks Brandon Victor Dixon and says, "You've really made me think," and actually thinks. 

I don't even want to conjure up a worst-case. (Poor Megyn Kelly).
I can't believe Trump is still tweeting about this. I can't believe anyone takes him seriously. I can't believe the entire staff of the NY Times isn't saying to Trump, "Before you make such remarks to the cast of Hamilton, go apologize for your horrible treatment of Clinton and your racist, sexist remarks." I can't believe the entire staffs of the NY Times and other major newspapers, of  news networks, of CNN, of BBC,  are not actively, loudly, investigating Trump's tax fraud, business fraud, Trump university fraud, and horrible treatment of women. Why are these stories falling by the wayside in favor of hourly discussions of Trump's cabinet and conversation with the Times? I'm hearing from Boldpac and I was delighted to give NARAL $40. in Mike Pence's name. But why aren't news organizations covering Trump's shady, to put it mildly, dealings?  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Glass Ceilinged: The Trumpling of Hillary Clinton

And by CNN, no less. Day before yesterday I sat watching Isha Sesay and John Vause chat with Rebecca Ruiz, a representative from MASHABLE.  Somewhere in that conversation, Benghazi came up yet again, as did emails. Why are the supposed peccadilloes of Hillary Clinton being picked over, and the crimes of Trump ignored? Why would anyone say Clinton ran a bad campaign when we know she'd have won without Comey's revival of the email nonsense? Why is CNN still not--DAILY--remarking on Trump's degradation of women, Trump's tax fraud, Trump's fraudulent university and charity foundations? Is CNN too busy reporting on the latest Trump issues with his advisors and cabinet? If so, why should that preclude the past behavior that should have prevented him from being anywhere near the seat of power?

At least CNN broached the glass ceiling:

Let's talk a little bit, shall we, about what some would call the bitter irony that Hillary Clinton's bid to become the first woman president was run off the tracks by another powerful woman at the helm of her male opponent's campaign.
REBECCA RUIZ, MASHABLE.COM: I think it would be accurate to call it a bitter irony but would hesitate to compare what Kellyanne Conway did to what Hillary Clinton tried to achieve this election season.

Kellyanne Conway was clearly very good at her job and she did impose as much discipline on Donald Trump as she possibly could. But you look at what the campaign Hillary Clinton put together over almost two years. And though she ultimately failed, at the end they are two completely different tasks, I think.
 

VAUSE: They are very different tasks but they are also -- and clearly, you know becoming the first female president is -- would be, you know, considerably a greater achievement than what Conway has done.

Sesay pointed out the influence of Ivanka Trump as "a moderating force in the campaign [who] kind of validated him in a positive way for women voters" and Rebecca Ruiz observed  that "both she and Kellyanne Conway acted as character witnesses for Donald Trump. So when the headlines got really bad and he got out of control on Twitter or in a debate they came out afterwards and cleaned up the mess and basically told the American people that's not the man I know. That's not the Donald Trump I've grown up with." 


Fine. Why didn't anyone point out that the conscienceless Tony Soprano was described in the same fashion by his daughter, Meadow, who tells her boyfriend, "I never saw one bit of violence," and who wouldn't have believed her own eyes if she'd seen Dad, who was taking her to see colleges, garrotte the guy in the woods who'd been "a rat."

We've seen Trump and the media garrotte Clinton enough. Enough already. Build support for Clinton and her values--our values--and draw attention to Trump's crimes. Then maybe women can really crack that glass ceiling.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Demagogue Diversions

 
Morality, Oscar Wilde tells us, is "simply the attitude we adopt towards those whom
we personally dislike." Anyone who "cannot talk morality twice a week to a 
large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a politician." By these lights, 
Trump has been talking morality. So did Hitler, so have other demagogues. May I make 
the point that at least one has learned from her mistakes? Anita Bryant, who used to
say that if God had wanted homosexuals he'd have made Adam and Steve, not Adam and 
Eve, who, hit in the face with a pie, prayed for her assailant, begging God to 
"deliver him from his deviant lifestyle." But hey--does anyone notice she says, "At 
least it's fruit pie?" Maybe the ole gal was already coming 'round. She appears to have
come round now--the Florida Mom who plugged oranges and tried to kick gay people out
of the teaching profession and drive homosexuals from the nation says she now believes in living 
and letting live. Some sources say she says "just don't flaunt it or legalize it," and oh, Anita,
I am so disappointed in you if you're still qualifying your position. Stick to "live and let live."
But even if she's waffling, notice, please, that she's a woman, and she's more than halfway 
apologizing.    
Did any of the other (male) demagogues even begin to apologize? 
They think real men don't apologize--and that's why women should rule 
the world! Good women! Like the Democratic contender. 
Hillary Clinton, we love you. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Protests

He's ignoring them so far. Quelling a crowd is harder than poisoning a single reporter--see Megyn Kelly's tale of the cab driver who insisted on buying her coffee right before she interviewed Trump: she began vomiting uncontrollably.  As I write ("within the last three  hours," says Google) she's being "forced to deny" the "rumors" that she was poisoned. Don't forget the woman who was raped at thirteen being threatened not to continue talking about the incident. As I write, CNN is broadcasting protestors bearing placards saying "Not My President," "Mein Trumph," and "Sexual Abuse," among other accurate accusations, while those far from the protests in rust belt cities that voted for Trump claim such slogans and protests are "disrespectful of the office of the president." Is it respectful of the office to which a candidate wishes to accede to shout accusations and insults at his opponent? ("Liar! Nasty woman!") Is it respectful of the office of the president to lie to the world, insisting President Obama wasn't born in the United States? Is it respectful to the office of the president to stand smiling as his supporters denigrate his opponent? ("Spank her! Lock her up! Execute her!") This week's Die Zeit (The Times, in Germany) shows a drawing of the Statue of Liberty cowering under an American flag, saying, in English, "Oh My God." Divine intervention is indeed what we need in this mess. No good can come of a Donald Trump presidency, and the constant efforts I see now to rehabilitate his image, plus his now mild declarations of respect for President Obama and Secretary Clinton, should not fool anyone. How deep Trump's tentacles go is a question. The FBI? The Justice Department? Why are both of these institutions silent now? His taxes? Trump University? Fraud? Never forget that Trump took his cues from Roy Cohn.The narcissistic sociopath does not change his spots. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trumpastrophe and the Pundits

We'll never hear about Trump's taxes, you can bet on that. He won't go after Clinton personally--he'll just eviscerate Obamacare, the Environmental Protection Agency, marriage equality, Roe V. Wade, and the last shreds of decency on the Supreme Court. Johnny will get his guns. The United States has taken giant leaps backwards--is there still a United States? There's a United Hates, something we always knew existed. The very poor, very desperate, very trusting, very uneducated part of Trump's power base was easy to organize through hatred and fear, which make the weak feel as though they were strong. Uniting with love, "stronger together" is the truer message, the better message, and one that we can hope to hear ringing decades down the line, after de-Trumpification takes place, as I suppose it will, eventually. My twelve-year-old daughter just called from school, distraught. A friend on the Upper West Side of Manhattan emailed, "Can we move in with you?" Sure, I said.
I do blame, in part, the pundits and so-called moderators of the debates. Things happen incrementally, and at each small bad downward turn, these gatekeepers were not there to put a forceful stop to bad behavior. When Trump interrupted Clinton constantly, when he name-called, not one moderator said, "Mr. Trump, stop that right now: you are not allowed to talk to your opponent in that hostile manner. Apologize." Either they did not dare to do so--shame on you!--or they felt too stunned, and looked to Clinton as the Mommy who would make everything better. I don't feel any happier about the comments I am hearing from CNN this morning. Not one honest protest. "Historic victory"--if you're talking about Hitler marching into Poland, would you use that term? Never forget that all the pundits said "he wouldn't dare." If you're a praying type, start praying now. Some act of God could still prevent Trump and  Putin from stepping over the necks of the peasants on their way to yet more money, yet more power.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eight Election Thoughts

(1) Did my absentee ballot arrive at the New York Board of Elections and get counted among the votes for Hillary?
(2) God forbid she loses.
(3) If she does, I can only reflect: disasters occasionally produce unexpectedly good results. It's hard, for example, to imagine a greater catastrophe than my parents' marriage. But I'm glad to be around, as are my kids. My husband is also glad I'm around and they're around.
(4) But this happy family would not be around without that disaster.
(5) If there's a de-Trumpification process in America, people will be sadder, but they will also be wiser.
(6) Will we live long enough for the wisdom to feel worthwhile?
(7) The most desperate thought: is there the tiniest chance that Trump isn't really as dreadful as I think he is?
(8) No, there isn't.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Trumped-Up Assassination Attempt?

How much did the Republican candidate pay that guy in the audience to yell "Gun!" How much did Mr. Trumper-Upper stage this whole supposed assassination attempt?

A. Completely

B. Not at all

Gentle, and not so gentle reader, tell me what you think. Nothing this guy does would surprise me, and if tomorrow Trump says some Democrat tried to kill him then, well, that's exactly the kind of thing he would say, isn't it?

I don't like assassinations but I do wish some Act of God would airlift him to his favorite hotel, where he'd stay, among the Lotos-eaters, forever, and forever out of politics. Forever out of business would be great, too, God, while you're at it. Just keep him comfortable but way, way, out of power.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trumpesque Literary Figures

I've exhausted my run of real bad guys who resemble the Republican candidate. Forget Hitler and Mussolini--when I see Trump, I'm more reminded of Caligula. But when I turn to literature, there's always Voldemort or the Wicked Witch of the West for the malevolence, there's Dracula for sucking the poor bone dry, and then there's Huck Finn's dad for the yahoo resentments--consider this scene, just before the old man succumbs to the DTs: 

here was a free nigger there from Ohio—a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever seen, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane—the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin.

If folks like the Florida grandma who likes Trump for his anti-immigration policies never vote again, that's okay by me. She claims her ancestors came through "the proper channels"--what, Ellis Island?
But please, please, if you haven't voted for Madame Clinton, do so today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Money Makes the Election Go Round

If there is one thing this registered Democrat who voted already for Hillary Clinton has learned, you can't do elections without a ton of triple-matched and quadruple-matched gifts. I send 'em, the three bucks, the one buck, the five bucks, but the infestation that is Donald Trump swats all donations aside and goes back to his own cornucopia. The man is money; he breathes it, excretes it. Money comes out in his dandruff. People seem to admire him for this quality. Enough that the FBI doesn't make public his tax fraud, business fraud, sexual harassment, and God knows what other dark deeds. A pathological liar, a self-made narcissist: this creature has climbed to the top of the American political system. When will the Republicans have the courage to reveal what they really know about this man?