Friday, December 23, 2016


      If you are a Facebook Friend you have already seen a version of this blog.  If not, please read and is not entirely dark, and ends on a positive and hopeful note.

For years my wife Leila and I have had two predictable conversations in the weeks following Thanksgiving:

     1. When to put up the Christmas tree.    She insisted that it go up right after Thanksgiving.  I always responded that that is too early, that the tree will dry out, catch fire and burn the house down.  We compromised at 10 days before Christmas. We solved that annual dispute by buying an artificial tree, which you can't tell is artificial without touching its needles or sniffing at it and not getting that woodsy, pine smell.

    2.  Getting the annual Christmas Letter written.  I always threaten not to write one, usually with the excuse that there's nothing to write about. Those of you who have received our letters over the years have learned not to expect tiresome recitations about vacations, kids, accomplishments, blah, blah, blah layered with braggadocio.  Our letters over the years have been filled with a lot of make believe, teasing and outright lies, enthusiastically received, or so the recipients report.

Which brings me to a recent marital conversation:

Says Leila:   "You, better get started on the Christmas letter, Kerry.
Says I:          "After a year like this you want me to write one of my humorous,                           compelling, prevaricating letters.  Not this year.  I just can't do it."

Says Leila:    "There are lots of things you can write about:

      • Your trip to Bandon Dunes for a week of golfing.                        (That was enjoyable, except for the sinking feeling in my  stomach when I left Interstate 5 and navigated country roads  towards the coast, greeted at each turn of the road with red, white  and blue "Trump/Pence" signs.  Doesn't Oregon have litter laws?)
      • The trip to Atlanta for your nephew's wedding where you got to see your brother for the first time in 8 years. (A beautiful inter-racial wedding, except it was there that I learned that my brother voted for Trump.)
      • And NYC where we saw the Book of Mormon. Freaky Boots and Front Page, and ate sumptuous meals at great restaurants. (and where we had dinner with Pearce Brosnan and Leila sent him a martini, "shaken, not stirred."  Well, she later wished  she'd sent him the martini, but he was sitting just one table away, so you might say we had dinner with him.
      • Celebrating your daughter's 50th birthday party. (What a way to make a guy feel old!)
                   "See, there are lots of things to write about."

Says I:        "You left the most important things out."

Says Leila:  "What did I leave out?"

Says I:         " The election, hate crimes, Black lives matter, wars..."


Finally says Leila:   "But it's a Christmas letter. Tis the season to be jolly."

Says I:           "Yes, tis the season to be jolly?
                       (Fa, la, la, ignore the folly.)
                      "Ignore Aleppo, it's not so bad,
                       (That's what Assad said.)
                       "Let's ignore Putin's hacking,
                       (Helped us see security's lacking.)
                       "Let's ignore Blacks got shot,
                       (Cops just doing what they're taught)
                       "Ignore hate crimes on Muslims and gays,
                       (Cause they don't follow American ways)
                       "Ignore a bigot's election win,
                       (He'll make America great again.)"
                       "Oh yes, tis the season to be jolly,
                        But I cannot ignore all that folly."

       We must not let the evil in the world blind us to how very blessed we are.  We must turn aside evil by sharing our blessings, reaching out to those who are less fortunate, here and abroad.  And, as difficult as the concept may appear, we must pray for our elected leaders, including the head of state, that they forego thoughtless rhetoric and callous disregard for the poor, the minorities, the immigrants, the gays, the working and struggling 99 percent, but rather that they be guided by what is truly best for all people or our greatly diverse nation.

      An evil man named Saul, who lived over 2000 years ago, was bent upon persecuting, jailing and killing Christians.  One day, as he traveled on his way to Damascus to carry out his hellish mission, he was struck down, blinded and spoken to by the Lord. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"  As a result of this incident, Saul, later known as Paul, regained his sight and was converted. He became a defender of Christians and suffered persecution himself as a result.

     Let us hope that Donald Trump has a Saint Paul's Epiphany as he proceeds down Pennsylvania Avenue to his inauguration.

     After all, miracles do happen.


Thursday, December 1, 2016


Munchkin:  A person who is notably small and often endearing. 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, is neither notably small physically, nor endearing.  He’s six feet one inch, which puts him in the top 16% of American males, height-wise, but he doesn’t stand tall in any other respects.

As a banker he made a fortune foreclosing on working families homes.

His bank targeted seniors who had reverse mortgages, which tanked in the Great Depression, and homes in low income neighborhoods, where his victims were Blacks and other minorities.

He profited by leading an investment group that in 2009
purchased  IndyMac, a leading subprime home lender which failed in 2008. According to the FIDC he paid “pennies on the dollar for the assets being acquired.”  Mnuchin renamed it One West and eventually sold it for over $3.10 billion, more than twice what he paid for it. Since FDIC covered the overwhelming majority of IndyMac’s losses on bad loans, Mnuchin’s bank profited mightily on the deal (all at the expense of suffering homeowners and our tax dollars).

OneWest falsified and robo-signed fraudulent documents in order to criminally foreclose on homes.  It admitted its wrongdoing in a consent decree.

OneWest discriminated against minorities in its lending practices, locating its branches so as to avoid neighborhoods of color and minority census tracts. *   So now we will have a bigoted Attorney General and a bigoted Secretary of the Treasury.

Mnuchin has no experience in politics or policy.
(But then again the President-elect has no experience in governing, politics or policy. It is the blind leading the blind.)

When it became clear that Trump had been elected, I uttered, “Oh, God, save us!”   Then I thought about St. Paul, who was on his way to Damascus to round up Christians, take them to Jerusalem for persecution and even execution.  Suddenly in the middle of his journey, he was blinded by a bright light, spoken to by the Lord and converted from a persecutor of Christians to their defender.

So, I offered a silent prayer: “Lord, may Donald Trump experience a St. Paul Epiphany as he travels down Pennsylvania Avenue to his inauguration.”

After all, miracles do happen.

Kerry Gough, 12/1/16

*(Source of the above facts, Chris Isidore and Danielle Wiener-Bonner, CNN, Nov. 29, 2016)