Hillary Speaks!

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Well she’s at it again.

Here in America the kabuki theater of an impeachment “trial” is monopolizing the streaming news channels as our Senators, who are supposed to sit in their seats wander about the chamber, stand up to stretch their legs or walk out for a pee break.

Everyone has to sit and listen even though everyone knows Donald Trump will be acquitted.  There isn’t a chance in hell two thirds of this Senate will vote to remove him from office.  The rules have been fixed by the odious Mitch McConnell and acquittal  assured.  Everyone in the GOP just wants to get it over with.

So while the charade of a trial goes on, the loser (in the electoral college at least), Hillary Clinton, who by losing the last election put our Putin wannabe in office, came out of her shell and attacked,,,,,,,,Bernie Sanders.

“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” Clinton said in the film about her lfe, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

In an interview published Tuesday Clinton was asked if that assessment of Sanders, still holds: “Yes, it does,” she said.

Clinton would not say if she was prepared to endorse Sanders should he become the 2020 Democratic nominee, and she went on to criticize the “culture” around Sanders’ supporters.

“It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women,” she said. “And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture – not only permitted, (he) seems to really be very much supporting it.”

In a statement, Sanders did not respond to specific claims made by Clinton but rather redirected focus to the Senate impeachment trial that resumed Tuesday. “My focus today is on a monumental moment in American history: the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Together, we are going to go forward and defeat the most dangerous president in American history,” Sanders said

Sanders lost to Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary, but ultimately he endorsed and campaigned for her, though Clinton has accused Sanders of hurting her chances against Trump by delaying his endorsement.

“Honestly, Bernie just drove me crazy,” she said according to The Reporter.

The myth that Sanders supporters are predominantly raging young white “bros” whose driving purpose is to viciously troll and harass his adversaries took hold during the 2016 election and has been pushed relentlessly by his 2020 detractors.  It was brought into the narrative by the Clinton campaign itself in 2016.

In the process, the term Bernie bro marginalized and erased the voices of millions of people of color and women who were part of the Sanders-inspired “Not me. Us” movement.

She blames Bernie for doing “lasting damage” to her campaign and “paving the way” for President Trump’s attack against her as “Crooked Hillary.”

According to excerpts of Clinton’s new campaign tell-all book, “What Happened,” Clinton claims that she wanted to fight back against Sanders’s characterization of her as beholden to corporate interests,(she  made millions giving speeches to corporate elites and donors),  but that then-President Obama and others advised her to stay quiet.

Come on Hillary!  Tell us how your really feel!

This truth-telling by Clinton will draw huge headlines. And that is very, very good news for Bernie Sanders.

Here’s why: Sanders is running this 2020 presidential campaign (as he did the 2016 campaign) on a simple premise: the powerful have been sitting comfortably for way too long and it’s time to shake things up. Sanders was vilifying the elites and the political establishment (of both parties) long before Donald Trump even started considering running for president.

This is who Sanders is; it’s who he has always been. It’s at the core of why people support him and why he has been able to build a movement around his back-to-back presidential candidacies.

Guess who, for lots and lots of Sanders supporters (and even other Democrats who don’t support him) epitomizes that elite establishment? The Clintons. Hillary Clinton’s friendliness with Wall Street and well-heeled donors always irked Sanders and his backers during the 2016 campaign, although, with very few exceptions, he rarely attacked her over it.

For Clinton to attack Sanders as friendless and ineffective then — and to do so with the Iowa caucuses just 12 days away — affirms to Sanders backers that everything he has been running against within the Democratic Party is still out there, and still doesn’t like him. That it is coming from Clinton, who not only represents the dynastic streak within Democratic politics that many within the grassroots reject, but who also lost what everyone assumed to be a sure thing victory over Trump in 2016, makes this all even more powerful for Sanders.

The likely reaction from Sanders world will be righteous anger. See, this is what we’re fighting against! The establishment is afraid of Bernie! They are attacking him because they can’t control him!

And in terms of activating emotions that can turn out voters, righteous anger is right at the top of the list. If ever the Sanders loyalists needed motivation to stick it to the establishment, which has taken the form, in this race, of Joe Biden, then they got it and more with this Clinton interview.

Today a number of polls came out indicating the national race for the nomination has stratified into three tiers, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders moving up and for the first time clearly sharing the lead with former Vice President Joe Biden. The second tier is made up of their nearest competitors — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who are each at least 10 points back from Biden and Sanders. Much of the rest of the 12-candidate field is in single digits, and four candidates failed to garner even 1 percent support.

Sanders also has momentum on his side — a recent string of good polls propelled him into the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses as a candidate on the rise, and his $34.5 million fundraising haul for the last quarter of 2019 dwarfed the rest of the Democratic field.

Last time around the Democratic National Committee tilted the playing field against Bernie and in favor of Clinton; recall that the “super delegates” (who voted at the Convention but didn’t have to be elected – they were appointed) all supported Hillary.

It won’t be so easy for the establishment this time around. We live in interesting times.

 

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The Year of the Rat

A short story riginally written in 2008 (The last Year of theRat).

Crawford’s business trip to Beijing was coming to an end. Tomorrow evening, after a grueling but successful negotiation involving a triangle of conflicting interests each armed with teams of lawyers, he would take the red-eye home to London.

Crawford needed a drink. He headed out of the Shangri-la hotel, grabbed a cab at the front door and headed for the Legation District, the old U. S. Embassy which now housed a collection of restaurants and bars. He settled into his bar stool where the city’s finest lychee martini could be had and sipped the first of what would turn out to be a few.

It had been a good trip and the results would earn him kudos in London. And money. Lots of money. He felt a satisfaction in putting this deal together in spite of the lawyers who always seemed bent on winning their point rather than finding the common ground.   “God!  I hate lawyers!” he thought to himself.  Nit pickers.

The three principals involved in this complex transaction had already shook hands on the deal’s structure; as far as Crawford was concerned the lawyers were there only to put the details already agreed to down on paper.

But no.  Heaven forbid it should be that easy.  They immediately began squabbling over the details and needed to be constantly reminded  of points to which their respective clients had already agreed.  It was harder to get the lawyers to agree than the principals; more like obstacles to be overcome than hired hands.

Now it was time to relax. Now he had a whole night to indulge his other passion – Chinese bronzes. Crawford had been collecting each of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Each was a fine antique bronze, mostly from the Yuan Dynasty. He had eleven of the twelve zodiac animals. He was only missing the rat. This year, 2008, was the Year of the Rat; a good omen that he would find the perfect piece to complete his collection.

He left the Legation bar and headed to Nanluoguxiang hutong in the Drum and Bell Tower District. The hutong, a narrow alley built some 700 years ago housed several kilometers of shops, from chic to kitschy, large to tiny. Crawford would hunt in the shops for the bronze rat.

Under the influence of the lychee martinis Crawford strolled the hutong peeking in windows and doorways paying particular attention to the “antique” stores. Most of the shops sold fakes – good fakes, but fakes none the less. Crawford would not settle for a fake. And Crawford knew his bronzes.

It was dark now and getting late. Many of the shops were closing as Crawford realized the lychee martinis seemed particularly potent tonight. He suddenly spied an alley way he had never noticed before. Narrow, dark and leading off to the right. He peered into the darkness; there was a soft light he could see. Was there a shop down this alley?

Crawford made his way down the hutong and stood in front of the tiny shop.

Bronzes!! He could see bronzes! He noticed a little bell ring as he opened the door and stepped inside. He felt as if he had stepped into a Ming or Qing Dynasty shop. Everything smelled of age.

And the bronzes! He picked up a statue of Hou-Chi, the ancient god of the harvest depicted as a kindly old man with millet stalks growing on his head. It was exquisite.

Suddenly Crawford realized he was not alone. An old man with long gray whiskers, dressed in the finest Mandarin style stood in front of him. On his chest, the Mandarin square with two cranes embroidered in the silk which once indicated the wearer was an official of high rank. On his head a queue; Crawford had never seen a Chinese man with a queue which had disappeared with the coming of Sun.

The old man spoke perfect English. “May I help you?”

Crawford’s Mandarin wasn’t so bad either. “I am seeking a particular piece to complete my zodiac collection; a bronze rat of finest quality”.

The old man demurred. “I am sorry but I do not have what you seek; perhaps I can interest you in something else”. It was then that Crawford spotted the bronze rat in a corner of the tiny shop partially covered by a silk robe hanging above it.

“Here it is! What about this one?”

“That rat is not for sale!” replied the old man in Mandarin.

Crawford had to agree the rat was splendid which made him want it all the more. “How much?”.

“It is not for sale!”.

“Come now; everything has a price! Crawford offered a significant sum and then increased the amount in the face of initial rejection.

Finally, the old man lit a pipe and offered to sell the rat on one condition.

“If I sell you the rat you must agree to never bring it back. No refunds! Do we understand each other?”

Crawford gladly agreed and took his rat wrapped in red paper; after effusive thanks he left the shop, his prize rat under his arm.

The light in the shop ent out as Crawford made his way out of the hutong, still a bit tipsy from the martinis. It was now pitch dark and the streets were empty, the hour well past closing time.

As he walked seeking a cab or a rickshaw he heard faint noises behind him. He turned to look and saw a rat, a live rat sitting on his haunches staring at him. It’s eyes were red. Crawford was used to seeing rats in Beijing. He laughed and continued onward still seeking transportation. It seemed like everyone had disappeared from the streets. The alleys were deserted.

Walking toward a main drag Crawford heard more noise behind him; this time somewhat louder. Rat noises. He turned as spied half a dozen rats. When he stopped, they stopped. Sat on their haunches and stared at him, eyes glowing. Making rat sounds.

Crawford began to walk faster. The faster he walked they faster they walked. When he stopped, they stopped. Now there was lots more of them. Red eyes. Rat squeaks.

Crawford speeded up half walking, half running, a bit of fear now overtaking him. No matter how fast he moved the rats kept pace, gathering in numbers as he trotted toward the park. Now Crawford was scared. He couldn’t shake the rats, red eyed and squeaking like mad. Yet they didn’t attack him – when he stopped they stopped.

Crawford reached the shore of the lake in the park, not another soul in sight. Hundreds of rats stopped and stared, squeaking louder. It suddenly dawned on Crawford that the rats were not following him. They were following the bronze rat!

In a moment of inspiration and desperation Crawford heaved his beloved bronze rat into the lake. Instantly, the rats rushed passed him and poured into the water. Over a period of a few minutes the squeaking stopped and it was all quiet.

Crawford sat down on the grass shaken and catching his breath. After a half hour or so, the fog of the lychee martinis lifted he headed back to the hutong, turning into the narrow alley to the front door of the tiny shop.

He banged on the door ignoring the sign bearing the character for “closed” hanging in the glass door. Finally the old man came out from the back of the shop waving his hands. “No refunds! No refunds!!”.

Crawford smiled as the oldman opened the door a crack.

“I don’t want a refund!”. The old man was happy.

“I was just wondering”.

“Do you have any bronze lawyers?”.

🙂

Happy Lunar New Year!

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Exerpts From “American Dream” – MLK – July 4, 1965

“This morning I was riding to the airport in Washington, D.C., and on the way to the airport the limousine passed by the Jefferson monument, and Reverend Andrew Young, my executive assistant, said to me, “It’s quite coincidental that we would be passing by the Jefferson Monument on Independence Day.” You can get so busy in life that you forget holidays and other days, and it had slipped my mind altogether that today was the Fourth of July. And I said to him, “It is coincidental and quite significant, and I think when I get to Atlanta and go to my pulpit, I will try to preach a sermon in the spirit of the founding fathers of our nation and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.” And so this morning I would like to use as a subject from which to preach: “The American Dream.”

“It wouldn’t take us long to discover the substance of that dream. It is found in those majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, words lifted to cosmic proportions: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is a dream. It’s a great dream.”

“The first saying we notice in this dream is an amazing universalism. It doesn’t say “some men,” it says “all men.” It doesn’t say “all white men,” it says “all men,” which includes black men. It does not say “all Gentiles,” it says “all men,” which includes Jews. It doesn’t say “all Protestants,” it says “all men,” which includes Catholics.  It doesn’t even say “all theists and believers,” it says “all men,” which includes humanists and agnostics.”

“Then that dream goes on to say another thing that ultimately distinguishes our nation and our form of government from any totalitarian system in the world. It says that each of us has certain basic rights that are neither derived from or conferred by the state. In order to discover where they came from, it is necessary to move back behind the dim mist of eternity. They are God-given, gifts from His hands. Never before in the history of the world has a sociopolitical document expressed in such profound, eloquent, and unequivocal language the dignity and the worth of human personality. The American dream reminds us, and we should think about it anew on this Independence Day, that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.”

“Now ever since the founding fathers of our nation dreamed this dream in all of its magnificence—to use a big word that the psychiatrists use—America has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself. On the one hand we have proudly professed the great principles of democracy, but on the other hand we have sadly practiced the very opposite of those principles.”

“But now more than ever before, America is challenged to realize its dream, for the shape of the world today does not permit our nation the luxury of an anemic democracy. And the price that America must pay for the continued oppression of the Negro and other minority groups is the price of its own destruction.   For the hour is late. And the clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late.”

“And so it is marvelous and great that we do have a dream, that we have a nation with a dream; and to forever challenge us; to forever give us a sense of urgency; to forever stand in the midst of the “isness” of our terrible injustices; to remind us of the “oughtness” of our noble capacity for justice and love and brotherhood.”

This is why we must fight segregation with all of our nonviolent might.   Segregation is not only inconvenient—that isn’t what makes it wrong. Segregation is not only sociologically untenable—that isn’t what makes it wrong. Segregation is not only politically and economically unsound—that is not what makes it wrong. Ultimately, segregation is morally wrong and sinful. To use the words of a great Jewish philosopher that died a few days ago, Martin Buber, “It’s wrong because it substitutes an ‘I-It’ relationship for the ‘I-Thou’ relationship and relegates persons to the status of things.”

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The Phone Saga Continues

So you all read earlier this week of Toritto’s running issue with his cell phone company – how his old 3G flip phone was :cloned: allowing someone else to make international calls and putting the calls on my bill.

https://toritto.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/the-continuing-saga-with-the-phone-company/

My cell service was shut down (I had put the phone on “No International Calls”)  as the fraud unit was watching the number for obvious illicit activity and when they saw it, they acted.  I was advised that I had to replace my phone.  To smooth things over with a customer who could move to any carrier and get a free phone I was offered my choice of two free phones.  One was a piece of junk flip phone (lousy reviews!) advised by those who use it “Don’t buy this!) and the other was a $750 Samsung Galaxy A10.

Now as an old crank living in Florida I knew I didn’t need a smart phone.  I was used to my flip phone.  I am not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, don’t watch movies on a phone, have no interest in “apps,”don’t even browse my emails on a phone.  So I was reluctant -but hey!  A piece of junk or a $750 phone – free!

I got my new Galaxy smart phone on Wednesday.

Now since my service had been shut down I called the fraud unit to see if my old phone had to be turned on and restored to working condition prior to activating the new phone.  I was told it did not and a kindly operator who knew I was an old guy (OK older than a boomer!) walked me through the motions.

Voila!  I had a working smart phone.  She offered to help me connect it to my wi-fi but I told her I could do that.  We ended our conversation and I proceeded to connect my new toy to my somewhat older toys.

I then sent a text to my daughters (Welcome to the 21st century pops!) then called my house phone to see if it rang.

It did.

I went to bed with a smile.  Tomorrow I would learn the basics.

First thing I learned is that there is a knack to touching keys on a screen vs. having a phone with a key pad.  I am now a hunt and peck user and know I will never be a two thumbs man.  After several days however I am much better at texting.  Short messages only!

Secondly, never touch ANYTHING on the screen if you don’t know what it is.  I have lots of symbols to learn.  The users manual for the phone is on line (about 150 pages PDF!) and I go there when I have a question.

Then I demonstrated my ignorance of smart phone technology.  I called the new phone from the house phone and attempted to answer the call.

I couldn’t!

There is a big round circle on the screen with a green phone in it which I assumed I simply had to tap to answer.

No go.

The call went to voice mail.  I tried again,  No luck.  Tap tap tap!

I COULDN’T ANSWER MY PHONE!  Damnit!  I hate this!

I go back with the carrieron the house phone.

“I can’t answer my phone!  I can make calls but I can’t answer if anyone calls me!”

“I’ll be gald to help you sir.  I see your previous phone was shut down.  Have you spoken with the fraud unit?  Ok.  So you can make calls but not receive them?”

“Yes.  The calls seem to be coming through but I can’t answer them!  I’m tapping the correct button am I not?  Maybe the phone is defective or maybe this line (same number as the old cloned phone) still has a problem!  If this is not fixed tomorrow I am going to send this phone back to you and move my business elsewhere!!”

It was already 1:30 in the morning and I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist at 8:45 a.m.    But, I also passed the carrier’s store on my way.  I would pack up this piece of shit, walk in and give them a piece of my mind!

After a very short night’s sleep and completion of my eye appointment I drove to the phone store and walked in loaded for bear.

A young 20 something dude greeted me.  “What’s the problem?

“I can’t answer my new phone!”

I went through my whole sad saga – calls to Grenada in November, calls to Jamaica recently, the shut down by fraud, necessity to get a new phone etc.

He picked up my phone and unlocked it.  Laid it on the desk and took his phone out of his pocket.  Called my phone.

“Ring ring!”  Phones don’t really ring anymore.  It just made that 21st century sound.

He picked mine up – and answered it!

“How did you do that?  I tapped the button and nothing happened!!”

“You must move the button to the right with your fingertip.”

I of course felt like and idiot.  It had never dawned on me that the button  had to be moved. I had just kept tapping it like the thoroughly ignorant old codger that I am.

I smile.  He smiled.  And later I’m sure he told the story to his other millennial friends for a good laugh.  “This old guy came into the store today……”

Oh well.

Now I have a working phone but yesterday I realized that my contact list is still in the old phone.  It wasn’t uploaded to the “cloud” before activating the new phone.  Blame the fraud unit for that.

Samsung has an app (Samsung switch) which would allow me to transfer the list from my old phone to my computer and then from the computer to the new phone.

Too complicated.

Besides I realize that there are not too many valid contacts in the list.  Half of them have passed away.  So I am hunting and pecking the list into my new phone.

Such fun.

Next week I will give you all a treat and post my first selfie!!

🙂

Call me so I can practice answering!!

.

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On The British Monarchy

As a Brooklyn born kid who grew up in Coney Island I know little about royalty other than what I read in the papers.  Class differences are so important that no one is really permitted to talk about them freely.

In my corporate career I have never met royalty, but I have met nobles.

When I was about 30 years old I was part of a small team examining the books of the Rothschild Intercontinental Bank in London, which my employer (Don’t leave home without it!)  was considering, and eventually did purchase.  The portfolio consisted of a smattering of sovereign credits which is what one would expect of a Rothschild bank.

It was headed up at the time by one Ralph Thomas George Stonor Lord Camoys,  just a few years older than I, who later served as Lord Chamberlain of Great Britain from 1998 – 2000.  The Lord Camoys traced his ancestry back to the Baron Camoys who commanded the left at Agincourt, is a direct descendant of Prime Minister Robert Peel and the family that founded Brown University in Rhode Island on his father’s side.   On his mother’s side he is descended from Charles II through his illegitimate daughter Charlotte Lee, Countess of Lichfield.   I’m sure he didn’t even notice me reading and commenting on his loan files.  We made some small talk; he asked about my family and growing up.  He was more than polite especially considering that I hadn’t the faintest idea who he was until a Brit on our staff clued me in.

He would, after the purchase was consummated, join the Board of my employer.

Lord Camoys’ father  would die several years later in his early sixties after having to sell his ancestral home where the family had lived for 900 odd years because he could no longer afford the upkeep.

In New York I met the Graf zu Eulenberg who headed up my employer’s key German operations.  His grandfather served and was a close confidant to the Kaiser, his father the Wehrmacht  and one of his ancestors a Prince before there was a Germany.  I swore I heard the faint sound of heel-clicking whenever other Germans of a certain age met him.  They knew who he was.  I didn’t.

Six years or so ago I wrote a post when Prince George was born.  The gist of my thinking was that while many would consider him to be a blessedly lucky child, I was not so sure.  He had been born with no choice in the matter into a life time job with a myriad of rules and while his cage was gilded, it was still a cage.  He was born only to be King.

After all, the ultimate purpose of the British royal family is to procreate; its prime duty is to produce at least one heir to the throne.   Each heir has to provide a child that will guarantee the survival of the monarchy.

Yet what are the chances of Prince George ever becoming King?

The evidence at first sight appears to be overwhelming in favor yet a poll taken at the time of his birth indicated that only 53% thought England would be worse off without the monarchy.  The Queen was the most admired member of the royal family while younger folks wanted the crown to go to William and Kate after her passing.

So while on the surface the monarchy seems safe, I wouldn’t bet the crown jewels on George ever becoming King.

Firstly there is a difference between the monarchy and the monarch.  Supporting monarchy is supporting the institution; supporting the Queen is quite different.  Being sovereign is a form of celebrity and celebrity is everything.  The Queen is clearly one of the world’s top brand images.

Yet oddly, the world only has a superficial view of the Queen, unlike her children and grand-children who are common gossipt fodder for the tabloid press – adulteriers, two sons of an adulterer, perhaps a child molester.

The Queen is very different.  When she ascended the throne at age 26 the public at large knew very little about her and she has carefully kept her distance.  Today she is viewed as a kindly figure “so good at her age” though probably no one in England can remember more than two things she has said over the last  60 years.  The flack she received over her actions during Diana’s funeral have been largely forgotten.

Not so with Charles, Prince of Wales.  The press have covered just about every little detail of his life and the public appears to be clearly divided over Charles and Camilla.  When he ascends the throne I suspect the monarchy will suffer; he will not get the expressions of loyalty shown his mum.

Prince Andrew has already stepped back from his royal duties over his association with Jeffrey Epstein and William/Kate now seem to be at odds with Harry and Meghan.  She has already signed to do voice overs for Disney.

The public shows little support for the wider royal family, with the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie being the butt of jokes and figures of fun, reducing the solemnity of the monarchy as 9th and 10th (I think) in line for the throne after Harry and Archie.  Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

Given the longevity of royal family members, little Prince George might be well into his sixties before taking the throne.  In the meanwhile, great change and reform may come to other institutions.

After the Queen passes, both Canada and Australia will vote for republicanism, no longer considering the monarch as head of state.  The Commonwealth will survive but the reigning monarch will have much less power and influence.

The need for a House of Lords will also come under scrutiny – why have a hereditary second house at all?  Why have the monarch open Parliament with the “My government shall do this” speech?

Will the Church of England be separated from the government with the monarch no longer “Defender of the Faith?”  The monarch is still Supreme Governor of a church in decline and losing members while the Queen has adulterers and divorced family members.

After Charles and Camilla will come William and Kate.  While universally popular among the young they may be well into middle age before he wears the crown.  Other than anecdotal evidence there is little to suggest that they have improved the image of monarchy.  The Queen has done that.  They are celebrities as are Harry and Meghan.

Today there is a meeting of the Queen and the three Dukes to decide the Palace response t0 Harry and Meghan’s recent announcement to “step back” from royal duties and spend half their time in North America, presumably Canada.

The most frequently cited reason for Harry and Meghan’s decision is their discontent with the media coverage they receive. As the son of a future king and an idolized prince, Harry has been in the public eye his entire life. Meghan, an American with with a white father and black mother, has been subjected to enormous scrutiny in the press. The famously aggressive British tabloids heaped a unique level of criticism on her, some argue, that at times trafficked in racial tropes and occasionally dipped into explicit racism.

Another common explanation for the couple’s decision is a perception that they didn’t particularly care for the ceremonial elements of royal life. One can get quite tired of waving, smiling and cutting ribbons.  As sixth in line for the throne, Harry is unlikely to ever become king. This gives him a freedom that his older brother, William, who’s behind only his father, Charles, in the line of succession, doesn’t have. Others have accused them of wanting all of the financial and fame benefits of royalty without taking on any of the work that comes along with it.

““They’ve made no secret of their plans to monetize and trade upon their status, from spending their six-week holiday ‘break’ in a $14 million waterfront mansion in Vancouver … to trademarking ‘Sussex Royal,’ which will allow them to slap their brand on everything from clothing to books and magazines to anything you can think of, really.” — Maureen Callahan, New York Post.

Yet the royal brand is clearly on the rocks these days.

It wasn’t too long ago, maybe 20 years, that no one outside of Stanford University had heard the word Google.  Today it is a verb.  That’s how fast institutions and ways are changing.  For the past 300 years institutions that supported or needed monarchy have evolved.  Today they change altogether or disappear, for few any longer accept their values.

Monarchy’s job today appears to be defining the nation.  Sixty years from now national identity and what defines it will be radically changed.  Monarchy will simply go out in the ebb of that identity change.  It will have served its purpose.

There will be no crown for Prince George to wear.

But hey, what do I know.  I’m just an old cranky American living in Florida.

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The Continuing Saga With The Phone Company

Last month some of you will remember I had a run in with my telephone carrier.

https://toritto.wordpress.com/2019/12/09/a-morning-on-the-phone-with-the-phone-company/

On a glorious December morning . when I was planning to mail Christmas gifts and buy stamps for my greeting cards I opened my phone bill, ruining my day.  Seems someone had “cloned” my flip phone and made a couple of calls to Granada from Providence, Rhode Island.  The resulting bill was about $120 over what I usually pay.

I reported the fraud to my carrier and since the calls were clearly not of my making  argued for a credit at which point the fraud unit shut my cell phone down.

“You really should upgrade to a 4G phone Mr. Toritto.  They are available through our sales department.  Would you like me to transfer you?”

Not yet darling.  Please turn my phone back on.  Block all international calls and give me a credit.

I figured it was all a billing error.  Why hack a flip phone?  There is no information on it like credit card numbers; only perhaps dirty text messages.  Besides, if the phone was cloned, why make only two calls?  The hacker could have run up a bill of thousands of dollars before being noticed.

Well after several days consuming hours on the internet and my house phone, all was accompished.  My phone was on and I got my credit.  Or so I thought.

Last evening (or course shit has to happen on a Saturday night!) while watching playoff football I noticed my flip phone kept moving in and out of the “service area.”  I picked it up and called my house phone which is on a modem with another carrier.

Nothing.  I picked up the house phone and called the flip phone.

“The number you have dialed is not in service or has been changed.”

I call the fraud unit of the cell carrier.  I had saved the number;  pick my way though the choices offered. always a pain in the ass, and finally get a live person.

“Your phone has been shut down Mr. Toritto.   Someone in Missouri made 19 calls to Jamaica; clearly  your phone has been cloned.  We were alerted by your experience last month.  You need to replace your 3G flip phone.  If we turn your current phone back on you will  be held financially responsible for any future calls.  We are arranging a credit for today’s fraudulent calls.”

Hehe.  Nice way to sell new “upgrades.”

Ehh….OK…don’t turn it on.  I will shop tomorrow for a new phone.

I call my eldest daughter on my house phone and let her know I am alive and that it is my cell phone that’s dead.

I had myself a Dewar’s and went to bed.

This morning I rose early, had an English muffin for breakfast, a second cup of coffee and I called my youngest daughter’s father-in-law.

He works for my cell phone company here in Tampa.  Hehe.

“What should I do Jose?”

“Well your current phone has been cloned so you need to upgrade to a 4G.  Besides, the company is in the process of phasing out all 3G, no longer sells them and won’t activate new ones.   But  hey, this is not your fault.  Its a data error on our part.  Tell ’em  you want a free phone!  There are plenty of carriers out there who will give you a free phone to switch!”

So coffee in hand I call customer service and first ask an innocuous question.  “Since my phone is shut down will I have any difficulty in activating a new phone’?

“None whatsoever.  We will help you through it.”

“Secondly, since none of this is my fault, what can you do for me for a replacement?  After all I can go elsewhere and get a free phone”

Silence.

After a pause,  I get two offers.

I can have a really junky flip phone – with lousy reviews which retails for $99.

Or I can have a Samsung S10 smart phone .lists for $750  – free.

My choice.

Now for years I have been avoiding smart phones.   My flip phones were fine.  I am not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I have no interest in the latest “apps.”  Really don’t want to worry about “data usage.”

This is clearly a ploy to get me to spend more money in the future via a higher monthly phone bill.

But a $750 phone with excellent reviews vs. a $99 piece of junk?

Welcome to the 21st century Torrito!  Now all I have to do is learn how to use it!

Stay tuned.  This should be fun!

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Outside the Box

Within the vastness that is space and time
sits a warehouse filled with steamer trunks
piled one upon the other
to infinite height in endless narrow rows

managed by a power that is, standing on the edge
of quiet, with only a toneless droning
as if an unseen swarm of bees, in stripes adorned
buzzed relentlessly

standing on an edge, or if you prefer
a rim
with no beginning and no end
just somewhere, a nothing on the edge of something

where lightless and darkless
and no motion exist
save a light breeze on your face
imbuing droplets of sweat as you open a trunk

and realize that in this is everything
for each trunk is filled with stars,
a universe, some empty of beings
some teeming

with creatures who perceive
their universe infinite
containing all that exists
unable to think outside the box

trying to understand the universe
while using a word meaning all there is;
looking for something else
which must be on the edge of nothing.

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