Many Americans support President Trump’s move restricting refugees of certain countries from entering the United States. They fear another terrorist attack. They want to feel safe. After being around sudden death for a year in Vietnam, I offer this advice. You don’t need to look for death; death will find you when it’s ready. There’s no predicting when or how that moment will come. There’s no avoiding it. Here’s the thing. Death is forever. Life is not. This moment … that’s all you have. Don’t waste it worrying about dying. Enjoy life as best you can. It really is that simple.
January 30, 2017
President Trump is ticking off his to-do list faster than a husband anxious to squeeze in an afternoon round of golf. We get that you have campaign promises to keep, but there’s more to it than signing a piece of paper. You eliminated the second- and third-tier political appointees, leaving huge gaps in the chain of command. Now you’re learning that issuing executive orders is one thing, having them properly carried out is another. Let’s hope you figure it out before tackling Obamacare. Republicans will let you screw over the refugees … but twenty million voters? That will get their attention.
January 26, 2017
President Trump has started a national conversation on jobs. I hope we talk about more than just trade. Many analysts argue robotics far outweighs trade as a job killer. I see this when my trash is picked up. The county used to have three-man crews: one driver and two collectors. These were good-paying jobs with benefits, a toe-hold in the middle class. Now there is one driver. The two collectors were replaced by a robotic arm that scoops up the bin and dumps it into the truck. As a taxpayer I’m happy we saved money, but at what hidden cost?
January 25, 2017
Donald Trump says he lost the popular vote because people voted illegally. Now he wants an investigation, which hopefully won’t be as rigged as he claims the election was. Hillary’s 2.8 million margin came mostly from California and New York. There are 22,345 precincts in California. If 2 million ballots were illegally cast for Hillary, that would be an average of 90 votes per precinct. If 1 million illegal votes were cast in New York’s 15,000 precincts, that would be 66 votes per precinct on average. Do you really think that scale of voter fraud would go unnoticed? Me neither.
January 23, 2017
Team Trump spent its first weekend defending President Trump’s complaints about reports that his crowds were smaller than the crowds at Obama’s 2009 inauguration because, you know, size matters. Instead of responding “Whatever!” and moving on, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, vehemently denied the undeniable, creating a second controversy that went viral after Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer’s use of “alternative facts.” One actual fact emerged from all this. Despite promises to the contrary, Trump won’t release his tax returns because, well, he won so screw it. This was too much even for Julian Assange to swallow, and that’s saying something.
January 22, 2017
Watching President Trump speaking in front of the CIA’s Wall of Heroes, making it all about him … well, it got uncomfortable, like when that guy who had one too many starts a wedding toast and soon folks are staring down at their feet, praying for it to end. I get that Trump has a different style, but sometimes you should be in the moment and show some class. When tragedy strikes or a crisis looms, we want a leader who raises our spirits and stiffens our resolve, a leader who makes us look up to him, not away from him.
January 16, 2017
Representative John Lewis of Georgia poured salt on Donald Trump’s wounded ego, tweeting that Trump was not a “legitimate president.” Trump responded angrily, as one would expect. This isn’t the first time that a president-elect’s legitimacy has been questioned. In 1960 it was generally understood that John F. Kennedy owed his victory to creative vote-counting by Mayor Daley of Chicago. Richard Nixon took the high road and accepted Kennedy’s victory while his surrogates vigorously pursued recounts. Kennedy, who won by the slimmest of popular vote margins, stayed above the fray. In his mind there was no doubt who was president.
January 14, 2017
I’ve said before that the best part of working as a background extra has been the acting community. Sure, you hear stories about prima donnas and overbearing directors, but that hasn’t been my experience. Take my latest job, working an outdoor shoot late into the night as temperatures dropped into the thirties -- nature of the beast and no reflection on the production company, topnotch folks who manage the task of shepherding a very large group of people through multiple tasks with practiced ease and good humor. The background extras last night, many of whom I had worked with on other jobs, pretty much ran the gamut of humanity. From cast to crew to background, we worked together under increasingly difficult conditions. There were no arguments or tense moments, at least none that I saw. What I did see and hear was a lot of laughing and talking and supporting each other as we struggled to achieve our common purpose, the performance. In those moments you see what’s possible when we check our differences at the door and just work together to get the job done, making the most of whatever talents we have. That's the real magic of show business.
January 13, 2017
Passage of President Obama’s signature achievement -- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- took a heavy toll on his presidency, cementing a partisan divide that dogged his two terms. Obama may get some measure of revenge as the Republicans and President-elect Trump wade into the briar patch of repeal-and-replace with no agreed-upon alternative. It’s theoretically easier to revise something that already exists, but Republicans risk alienating millions of Americans who depend on the ACA if they can’t come up with something clearly better. This debate will dominate the early months of Trump’s presidency. The result will define the Republican Party for decades.
January 5, 2017
Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government hacked the DNC during the last election. His basic assertion is that there’s no way to be absolutely certain. In this he is absolutely correct. Absolute certainty, especially in intelligence assessments, is always rare. It’s true for this incident, just as it will be true for some future crisis, possibly one involving Russia, when he will have to decide whether or not to act based on intelligence that is less than certain. My hope is he’ll do okay. But for now, it’s only a hope.
January 3, 2017
Donald Trump rarely uses computers. He avoids email like the plague. Who better to inform the nation on the real story behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee? He says he knows things that other people don’t know, that he knows a lot about hacking. Well it better not be some bullsh*t like, “It’s impossible to definitively pinpoint the perpetrators of malicious code.” Tell us something we don’t know, for starters who convinced you the CIA, Homeland Security, and the FBI are getting it wrong? There’s nothing much riding on this, just your credibility for the next four years.