The word for the year 2017: Present

I will be "present" in 2017. Let me explain where this came from and what I mean.

As a huge fan of the Godfather, I enjoyed Francis Ford Coppola's appearance on Terry Gross's Fresh Air. I expected (and received) many wonderful tidbits about the production of the movie and remembrances of my favorite author, Mario Puzo. The main thing I took away from the interview was unexpected: Francis Ford Coppola mentioned that whenever he was working on a project, he always had a theme word. When he came to a decision as a director or screenwriter and it wasn't obvious, he'd go back to that word and apply it to the script. For the movie Godfather it was "Succession".


I love this concept. I almost want to go back and re-watch the entire Godfather saga just to look for these moments. I think of Michael guarding the hospital or being in the bathroom and nervously looking for the gun behind the toilet. "Succession"... how did it lead to "Succession". Michael told Kay never to ask about business, but just this once he'd talk about it - that he did not kill his brother in law. And he delivers the line in honesty, despite the fact it's a total lie.

The end of last year was rough, far from just the results of the election or the lack of sunshine in the shorter days.There were a lot of punches, more jabs than uppercuts to me, but many gut-shots to those I know. I've been in a haze, much like another famous fictional Mafioso, Tony Soprano, toward the end of the first season of the show which made his character famous when he started medicating (some prescribed, some self-prescribed) and went through his days as if they were living him rather than him living them. Until the carjacking scene (which in my opinion cemented this as an all-time great show.) From there on, Tony takes over the crime family and the rest is television history.


It took a week, but the word "present" came to me in a similar way. The city next to my home town has a stop light for pedestrians to cross in its busy downtown area. As my wife and kids and I were crossing well after the light had turned green for pedestrians, a car approached going too fast to make a safe stop at the light. My son was leading our family as we walked across and had just handed me my cellphone to make it brighter resolution and my head was down, scrambling with the phone. I saw the car out of the corner of my eye and instinctively grabbed at my son's jacket to pull him back. I felt the fabric of my jacket slip through the fingers as my son kept walking directly into the path of the car. Screeching tires. My son froze. God was there was the car came to a stop. It might not have even been that close. He may have missed hitting my son by a couple of feet or 10 feet. After I missed at my pass to grab him I froze. I was not there. I was an observer until the car stopped. I was in no danger myself as I was by a car in another lane that was at complete stop (probably the only reason that driver stopped). I wasn't mad at the driver. I didn't even look back at him or her. But I was awake. I became "present". Later on I asked my son about the incident and he did not want to talk about it. I had trouble sleeping that night, which is rare for me, thinking of what I'd be doing at the time if those few feet had not been enough to spare him.

Now I will not observe. I will be present. I will give full attention. I will act. I will speak. I will be here. Life is filled with distractions, multi-tasking and some of this is unavoidable. But the next time I need to make a decision, to force myself to do something against my desire that is for my betterment, I will think of that word "present", much like a script writer in my own life. Yes, there are some bad things going on now in the world. I'll never explain them. There are some people who are lost, either by their own choice or out of fear - they are gone. I let them go.

I feel that the fact I've used two fictional "gangsters" as an example may prove the wrong point- not that I am going to be a "tough guy"; I plan to be tough when necessary but not as a default or trademark or definition. I plan to be "there" when needed. I am present now for my family and those close to me. I am present for myself too. I too often observe my own life, afraid to interject or speak up, which is surprising for an extrovert like me. I will not be quiet anymore. If being present means speaking out, making others uncomfortable, I will do it.

There is so much to be alive for now, most importantly myself and those around me. My job. My interests. My voice. In 2017, I will be present.


He is going to be president - so you must be an asshole

The non-elected electors have spoken. This man who lost the popular vote by 2+ million votes, but won the electoral college, is going to be president. When you go to the Hall of Presidents at Disney World, there will be an animatronic Donald Trump up there with Lincoln and Washington.

That's that.

But this is not the end.

You need to speak up. ABOUT EVERYTHING. This election was lost because "Hillary takes money to speak at Goldman Sachs" but the man saying that has hired a former Goldman Sachs leader to be a policy maker in his administration. He's nominated Rick Perry, a former Dancing with the Stars contest and GOP presidential candidate who had a talking point about eliminating executive cabinet positions but forgot the name of the cabinet positions to run the exact cabinet (Department of Energy) he forgot.

You know that uncle or grandparent who told you how Obama was going to nominate Farrakhan (Trump supporter, by the way) to help run his government? Or how Obama was a secret Muslim? Or how the Clinton Foundation was evil (it's a charity - Trump's foundation paid money to Pam Bondi, the state attorney general of Florida, running for re-election, who was overseeing a case by the state against Trump). You need to be an asshole to that person. Let me repeat that. An Asshole. Because these people are the assholes who elected this completely unqualified person to be president, as if some sort of "I'm old, I earned this" moxie for this "rebel against PC" (aka I'm not succeeding in this economy because I refuse to adapt from a time where white Christian males had every advantage).

An asshole who:

  • Reminds people that Trump told the Russians to "hack" in July, the last time he had a press conference.
  • Reminds people he's too busy to have a press conference but he will meet with Kanye West.
  • Follows people like @funder (Scott Dworkin) and  (Kurt Eichenwald) on twitter and reports on things Trump is doing/has done.
  • Question to others if Trump cares more about his business than his country.
  • Tells people how Trump mocked a disabled reporter. How he lies. How he brags about sexually assaulting women. How his twitter use is not presidential.
  • MOCK PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP. Embarrass them. Be a proud ASSHOLE. You are probably smarter than them and you have facts on your side. Insult people who voted for him.
  • Points out how Trump has contradicted himself at times pro-choice and pro-life, pro-Russia, anti-Russia, pro-China, anti-China.
  • Tell people how Trump won "a game" of election but how 2+ million more people voted.
  • Never be quiet. 
Trump will not "Drain the Swamp", "Lock her Up" or "Build the Wall". None of those things are happening, nor will a national registry of Muslims or mass-deport illegal aliens. Those were election promises to cater to people who vote emotional and don't think critically. Nor will Trump change gay rights or abortion. Heck, the RNC isn't even "repealing" Obamacare anymore; they are "replacing it". The infrastructure and Obamacare fixes are probably things Obama would have done himself if Congress had let him - so this is not bad (other than GOP obstruction).

We will not be hurt in the short-term by Trump's economic policies, other than an increased national debt (point that out to people who bring up Obama and debt). His disgusting environmental policies will even take 5-10 years to hurt. Where we will be hurt is by Trump's foreign policy. This is a man who has no ability to walk the diplomatic tight rope to keep the world in balance as it is now and a man who believes in phony American Exceptionalism (the thought that America, as if by some divine grace, is better than all other countries - without acknowledging the work to get there). The big issue is Trump's foreign business dealings interfering with his foreign policy choices as president. We don't really know the extent of Trump's international business (mostly branding, selling his name), but we do know who he's hiring (Exxon/Mobil CEO friendly to Russia, people who contributed to him to cabinet posts). We cannot sit by and watch when he makes potentially deadly international moves. Our safety and our economy will suffer.

Most Americans didn't vote for Trump, heck, most Americans didn't vote - but we are stuck with him. On January 20th, he'll be sworn in as president. It starts your term as an educated, uncomfortable, truth-sided asshole.