Persistent Illusion

“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction
between past, present and future is only
a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
Albert Einstein

Shine On

Bernie Sanders Bundled Up

“When we stand together there is nothing,
nothing, nothing we cannot accomplish.”
Bernie Sanders

In my youth, I was never a fan of politics. Mostly because, I once worked for a Fortune 500 Corporation as their PAC Administrator. I experienced firsthand how major organizations dole out large sums of money to politicians they buy with their PAC funds. This job highly enlightened me to the true inner workings of politics.

My view of politicians changed dramatically, when in 1993 I saw Bernie Sanders, Independent Vermont Senator interviewed on CSPAN. I had never heard of Sanders before, but he caught my attention that day.  He was the first politician I ever saw who was honest and real, which is never two words that are used simultaneously when describing a political figure.

In the past several decades Sanders has never wavered in his viewpoint against wars, helping veterans, private health care options for veterans, improving our healthcare system and attempting to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Funny, how half of America despises the only politician who can’t be bought and never changes his moral values and conduct.

My late husband was a disabled Vietnam veteran. As a wife/caregiver, I always followed any and all news about veterans. Back in 2013, I was watching closely a Veterans Bill that was being turned down by both Democrats and Republicans.  At the time, Bernie Sanders was the chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee. Sanders was working tirelessly to get this bill passed. An important bill that would help all veterans.

Meanwhile, during the fight over the bill, national news broke that Veterans across the country were waiting months on end for appointments and the wait times were being hidden. Up to 40 veterans in Phoenix died while waiting for appointments. Hundreds never even got onto a list. And retaliation was the order of the day for those who tried to blow the whistle.

It turned out that nationwide, the VA was coping with the spike in demand by delaying appointments and treatment, manipulating schedules, falsifying records and possibly engaging in fraud. An interim report from the VA Inspector General on May 28, 2014 found it was taking an average 115 days for veterans in Phoenix to get primary care, as opposed to the 24 days shown on official records and 1,700 people seeking appointments were not on any list at all. The IG called the Phoenix problems systemic and said he had opened investigations at 42 VA health centers. On June 9, the VA reported that 57,000 veterans at its facilities were waiting more than 90 days for an appointment, and another 64,000 were not on a waiting list although they had sought care.

My husband and I were not surprised by the news reports concerning the deaths and wait times. We had experienced personally these same problems with the VA for years.

From the moment the scandal broke in April 2014, it took Congress less than four months to produce a new law, a split second by Capitol Hill standards. That it happened at all, and so fast, was a testament to the determination of Sanders and his partners to surmount the red-blue divide in American politics.

In the end, both votes were close to unanimous, a 420-5 in the House and 91-3 in the Senate. Obama signed the VA bill August 7, 2014. The new law, helped ensure that veterans have access to the care that they’ve earned.

Before this bill passed, my husband and I were stressed dealing with the VA and their lack of medical care. I would often wait hours on hold, get disconnected and worse yet, couldn’t get a needed doctor appointment for my husband. After the bill passed, I saw a dramatic improvement in the respect my husband received along with improved medical care and response times from the VA. The biggest improvement was the use of non-VA medical care my husband desperately required.

I truly believe, without Bernie Sanders determination to help veterans, the problems at VA medical facilities would have never improved and more deaths would have occurred.

Most people only know Sanders as that old crazy Independent Senator from Vermont who ran for president in 2016. But, that all changed when Bernie showed up at the 2021 Biden Inauguration dressed in casual attire wearing a heavy parka and hand-made wool mittens from a Sanders fan.

As of today, that image of Bernie bundled up has not only created countless memes and late night jokes, the senator seized on the opportunity to reprint the image on different products that he began selling on his website, the following day. The merchandise all sold out in less than 30 minutes, and Bernie has raised over $1.8 million for charities in his home state.

“Jane and I were amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use my internet fame to help Vermonters in need,” Sanders said in a written statement.

My son knows how much respect I have for Bernie Sanders, so this past week, he texted me a photo of a mural that a local artist created of Bernie.

I probably will never have the honor of meeting Mr. Sanders. So, being the die-hard Bernie fan that I am, I drove to Culver City and got the next best thing. A photo of this giant, magnificent fresco of my hero, Bernie Sanders bundled up.

Shine On

Sweet Smelling Memories

“The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative,
bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs
of scenes that had left the conscious mind.”
Thalassa Cruso

It’s amazing to me how our sense of smell can trigger a memory, even as far back as our childhood.

The part of the brain responsible for our sense of smell is the limbic system and is related to feelings and memory.

Smells we experience can bring up memories about people, places, or events related to these sensations.

The last few days my sense of smell has been in overdrive. The savory smell of a chicken roasting in my neighbor’s kitchen. Then, the smell of sautéing onions with garlic creep through my window. The evening smell of the ocean breeze as it blows in the scent of night-blooming jasmine.

There’s an area in the wetlands of Marina del Rey that is covered with wild oat grass. I’ve often driven by this area at dusk, and every time, I can smell and breath in this intoxicating smell of the wild oat grass. I wish someone could bottle this smell and sell it. They’d be rich.

This favorite scent of dewy wild oat grass brings me back to a quieter much gentler time. It takes me right back to my evening horseback rides of my youth on the Southern California wide-open trails. Such sweet smelling memories.

 Shine On

All the President’s Debt

“Don’t Gain The World & Lose Your Soul.
Wisdom Is Better Than Silver Or Gold.”
Bob Marley

If getting impeached twice isn’t enough for Trump, now he’s really getting a major shot to his ego. It looks as though Trump’s actions from January 6th are coming back to bite him in his backside which will do more damage than he ever imagined possible. The only thing that Trump the narcissist, ever prized are money and power which are quickly fading.

News broke last week that Deutsche bank delivered a major blow to Trump and his conglomerates. The German bank, one of Trumps major financial supporters, announced it will cut ties with Trump.

Deutsche has been Trump’s primary business lender since the 1990s and according to inside sources, is owed about $340 Million encompassing three loans.

Back in the 1990s, after half a dozen Trump bankruptcies, Deutsche was the only bank loaning Trump money when others including JPMorgan, Chase, and Citigroup cut ties with him and listed him as too risky for business dealings. Deutsche has lent Trump and his organizations upward to $2.5 Billion over the last 30 years.

One other financial institution also stepped away from Trump after the Capitol siege: Signature Bank, a New York-area institution, has called for Trump to resign and said it was closing two personal accounts where Trump kept about $5.3 Million. A spokeswoman from Signature Bank said the bank also won’t do business “with any members of Congress who voted to disregard the Electoral College.”

Banks aren’t the only funding source that dealt a brutal blow to his pocketbook this past week. Trumps corporate supporters are shutting off the money faucet too. Companies such as, The PGA, Bank of America, Facebook, Microsoft, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Verizon, AT&T, CNN just to mention a few announced they have suspended political donations and also vowed not to give money to the 147 Republicans who tried, unsuccessfully, to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

The attack on the Capital changed everything, said Greg Valliere, chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments. Corporate executives are genuinely appalled. “Many business leaders felt a need to shame the Republicans who refused to accept the election results.” Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who led the Senate effort to overturn the election, also might be exiled for the rest of their careers.

The decision to dump Trump is politically convenient now and only comes after years of enabling him. Corporate America didn’t back Trump when he ran for office in 2016. But business groups enthusiastically embraced the Trump agenda after he won the White House. Big business got their deregulations, tax cuts and pro-business judges it wanted.

The corporate relationship first began to breakdown because of Trump’s stances on climate, immigration and race. CEOs scrambled to quit Trump’s advisory councils in August 2017 after Trump initially failed to condemn white supremacists at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of the Value Alliance, a firm that advises boards on corporate governance practices, said it’s critical that companies institute policies and practices to make sure they don’t “fall into the same trap again.”

That means companies and business groups must ensure that their political spending matches up with their publicly stated values and that those values are reflective of the ones held by their employees and customers. Bloxham said it remains an open question whether the insurrection at the Capitol delivered a lasting lesson to corporate America, or merely a fleeting one. However, she also said, “We’re a nation that forgets too easily sometimes.”

Trump has always found the means to pull himself out of bad situations. There was always some where he could tap for funds. It appears that all these businesses have finally come to the realization that Trump is toxic to their brands and are abandoning him. It’s just not good for business, when our Democracy is literally under attack by its own President.

Trumps net worth has been estimated at $2.5 Billion by Forbes. Virtually all of Trump’s $1.1 Billion of debt is backed by real estate, mostly linked to a small number of buildings and golf courses that form the core of the Trump business empire.

If Trump defaults on his loans, Deutsche can seize the golf courses and hotels secured by the mortgages, and if their value isn’t sufficient to repay the debt, the bank can go after Trump personally, who guaranteed the loans.

The situation is made more pressing for him because his primary source of income in past years was his work on television which is dried up. So, while the president is asset-rich, it is unclear how much liquidity he has access to.

Now that he’s lost the presidency, the federal government will continue his tax audits. The Manhattan DA is expanding its criminal investigations into Trump organization’s finances. We will learn the real truth behind why he didn’t want his taxes released and his real business high finances.

A great many of us already knew what Trump represented for this country. We always knew that Trump’s best seller book the “Art of the Deal” about the “mind of a brilliant entrepreneur” was and is nothing more than just a book of lies from a con artist. We presume Trump will do what he’s done his entire career, strategic bankruptcy which will once again erase all the president’s debt.

Shine On