Confessions of a ‘dirty lib’: Trump’s latest book is, well, worth reading

Before diving into my review of Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again by Donald J. Trump, I feel compelled to remind you that Minnesota Transplant’s About page describes natives as “politically schizophrenic.” Minnesota once elected the most conservative senator in the U.S. Senate and the most liberal one. At the same time. And yes, we’re the state that called Jesse Ventura “governor.”

Full disclosure: I voted for Jesse.

And I would again.

Because I believe in the citizen legislator. Or, at least, the citizen executive.

No one really likes career politicians. Sure, we praise long tenures of people like John Boehner, but we admire their tenacity, not their career choice. (The ugly truth is, we hate everyone else’s career politician, but when they’re representing our district, we love our incumbent.)

That’s why I find Trump interesting. He’s shaking things up. He’s anything but an incumbent. He says what he thinks with no regard to political correctness or his donors. Because he is his own donor.

Crippled AmericaBy confessing some interest in Trump, surely I will offend the sensibilities of my liberal friends, but please know my Adored Stepson, who gifted me Crippled America for Christmas, has often called me a “dirty lib.” (This is an unfair characterization; I have said I don’t mind paying taxes for good community projects like roads, libraries and public safety and I’m generally against government legislating morality, but “dirty lib” goes too far in labeling me as an immoral socialist.) Perhaps Adored Stepson was attempting to convert me. But, fan of citizen executives as I am, I am open to Trump’s “brainwashing.” He’s refreshing.

I’m also a big believer in books, so I consider reading Trump’s tome to be a duty to the written word. And as a former member of the Fourth Estate, I know how “news” can be twisted into “entertainment.” Not all reporters are unbiased. So I wanted to hear Trump’s presidential intentions from the horse’s mouth. Or, if you prefer, from the horse’s ass.

Here’s the bottom line: It’s a good book with a poor title (“Crippled” reminds one too much of “cripple,” a sometimes offensive term, but then, Trump doesn’t care if he offends).

Anyone else who brags as he does about his accomplishments and riches would be considered arrogant. But a braggart he’s not: His schtick is not “loud, empty boasting”– it’s true. He is rich. He has built and restored a lot of beautiful buildings. He was host of a No. 1 rated reality TV show (yes, I am a fan of “The Apprentice”).

Would it be so bad to have a man who’s handled multi-million dollar budgets and large complex construction projects in charge of America?

You think his idea of a wall between the United States and Mexico is discriminatory? Not so fast. He wants to stop illegal immigration, not all immigration. Isn’t this a good idea? He’s anti women? Because he insults female television commentators and his female competition? He insults everyone, not just women. Don’t like his take-no-prisoners approach to public statements? OK, let’s support someone more polite.

Chirp, chirp.

Right, I can’t think of a long list of polite politicians I would trust with the White House either. Honestly, Trump evokes history with his tart opinions. Despite their erudition, integrity, and philosophical genius, the [Founding fathers of America’s revolutionary era] were fiery men who expressed their beliefs with unusual vehemence (Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2010).

Oppose his policies if you like (tax preparers, for example, would lose their livelihood if he gets his way with simplifying the tax code and fans of Obamacare and gun control will be disappointed in his policy direction), but don’t dislike him just because he’s brash.

I like a politician with an opinion, and Trump stands behind his in Crippled America. And whether you like him or hate him, you owe it to yourself to hear his story without television news’ addiction to outrageous quotes and outraged talking heads.

Lower the bar

I don’t know what other people do when they get sick, but I binge watch “Bar Rescue.”

Because there’s nothing that’ll make me feel better than watching an alcoholic who can’t clean his ice machine get yelled at by Jon Taffer and then get wowed by the backlit liquor bottles behind his remodeled bar. Throw in a new menu of salty tater tots and superfluously cheesy burgers, and it’s reality TV heaven.

At intermission (aka a series of commercial breaks), I crunched through half a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos and an unknown number of slices of cheddar cheese.

Well, when you lack the energy to change the channel, it could be worse.

This is what happens when you neglect to get your flu shot. You get the flu. And spend your Saturday feeling like an ugly bag of mostly water (yes, Trekkers, that was a Next Generation reference).

I figure by now I’m on the other side of the worst of it, despite coughing like a seal.

Please pass the remote.

It’s about time

I finally saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

I say “finally” because the movie had grossed in excess of $700 million before I plunked down my $9.50 (plus the cost of a buttery popcorn and a Perrier — yeah, it was that kind of theater).

And then I read a couple chapters from Donald Trump’s Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again before I went to bed (I’ll have a lot more to say about the book when I finish it).

And then I dreamed all night of Donald Trump in the desert (he was winning, I’ll tell ya!) Which was better than the dream the night before that I was drowning under a house, but not much.

I liked the movie though the plot was a bit, well, workmanlike. It hit all the right notes, but I can’t say I was surprised. What surprised me most was the conversation I heard in the ladies bathroom after the movie.

A crowd of four senior couples filed into the theater seats behind us after was sat down for the movie, and by “senior” I don’t mean “senior in high school.” The female members of the group gathered in the ladies restroom post flick and discussed it through the stall doors. Three out of four of them had never seen a “Star Wars” movie.

This shocked me. Never seen a “Star Wars” movie? How can that be? I’m a science fiction fan, I guess. “Star Wars” is de riguer viewing.

“Did the first one come out in the ’70s?” one asked.

“My boys saw it, but I didn’t have time,” said another.

Ah. That’s the real difference between me and those women. They were mothers. Mothers who were juggling 100 different priorities while raising their children in the ’70s. Seeing a movie when there’s ironing to be done, homework to help with, dinner to make? Unthinkable. It was probably a luxury of time they didn’t have.

Which explains why these 70-somethings had spent three hours of their evening in a movie theater watching the seventh installment of a movie series they’d never bothered to see before.

It wasn’t because they had the interest necessarily.

It’s because they had the time.

Salading this new year? Mix it up with a little corn

When it comes to side salads, I make the same one. Every. Single. Time.

Romaine lettuce. Cherry tomatoes. Cucumbers. Green onions.

Sometimes I add parmesan cheese and croutons and top it with Caesar dressing, and sometimes I add blue cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts and top it with Vidalia onion dressing, but it’s pretty much the same thing every time.

Boring.

At the beginning of brand new year, I decided to try a fresh approach.

Steak was on the menu in order to take advantage of a Christmas gift of gourmet chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is a piquant sauce (or marinade) of Argentinian origin traditionally used on grilled meat, typically containing parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and flakes of chili pepper. Way better than A1.

Corn seemed like an appropriate side dish, but corn is as boring as my boring side salad. How about a corn-salad mashup? So I created the following, and it was so good, I’m sharing it here:

Corny Salad Side Dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can of whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 red pepper, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of pepitos (roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette (or another oil-based salad dressing)
  • A few dashes Chipotle Smoked Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fritos corn chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except Fritos. Toss and serve. Top with crunched up Fritos if desired. Serves 3 or 4.

Corny salad

Capote thriller wrapped up my year in books

The last book I read in 2015 was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and I read it in one day.

In Cold BloodA classic, it is, and for good reason. I chose it because I qualified it as “a book that came out the year I was born,” as prescribed by the 2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge, which I took seriously until the very last day of 2015. In Cold Blood came out in 1965, which, if you want to get technical about it, is a year before I was born, but it was one of the year’s talkers the year I was born, so be it.

Capote (appropriately named as Truman — true man) told the story of the Clutter family quadruple murder in 1959 by two, well, cold killers who eventually meet their end with a hangman’s noose. The story, getting into the both the victims’ and the killers’ heads as Capote does with exacting descriptions, is chilling. I’m not a fan of capital punishment, but this book drives home why it exists. I can’t imagine the amount of research Capote undertook to write the story, but it amazed this true-story writer.

popsugar

As I closed the last page, I claimed to have read 51 books in 2015, 12 short of my goal. And to be fair, I included my running journal, my own book (How to Look Hot & Feel Amazing in Your 40s) and three books I designed in 2015 in the tally (hey! I read them, too!). I read 12 books I couldn’t classify in the challenge, and failed to read 13 books PopSugar prescribed (a popular author’s first book, a book at the bottom of your to-read list, a book that scares you, a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, a trilogy, a book with a color in the title, a book that takes place in your hometown, a book that was originally written in a different language, a book written by an author with your same initials, a play and a banned book).

Still, by following the challenge, I read quite a few books I never would have read otherwise, including In Cold Blood. There were also Anne of Green Gables, Seconds, Vintage Munro and Of Human Bondage. So, I expanded my horizons, and that’s what good books are meant to do.

I’m not attempting to read 63 books in 2016 or accomplish any challenge, PopSugar’s or otherwise. It was too much guilt, I’ll be honest, when I was savoring a book or choosing one that didn’t qualify in the challenge. Reading is a pleasure not a chore, and I don’t need any more guilt in my life.

So, speaking of pleasure, my favorite books in 2015 included The Light of the World, All the Light We Cannot See and  Pioneer GirlWhat were your favorites? Maybe you’ll recommend my next great read.

Beneath the white tree

IMG_6097
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Hook me up, it’s resolution time

Connect.

That’s the theme for my 2016 resolutions. My mantra.

The truth is, life is pretty great. And I’m feeling pretty good about things. About me. About life.

So my list of New Year’s resolutions isn’t long. I don’t need to quit smoking. Or give up chocolate. Or stop procrastinating.

I want more. Not less. More friends. Deeper relationships. More kissing.

And I want to connect the dots. Particularly on my unfinished manuscript and the two books I’ve outlined but not written. It’s a lot of dots.

So here’s to more. More connections. Happy new year!