ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 9
A TGB READER STORY: The White Cotillion

Mourning Pat Trimbell, and the Senate Impeachment Trial

Before we get to the political turmoil we are currently living through, there is something else.

Last week we held a good discussion about the friends we make online and the hole that is left in our lives when they disappear. On Saturday, Kate Carlson left a note on that post about her mother, Pat Trimbell, whose name turned up regularly in the comments here for many years.

”My name is Kate,” she wrote. “I am reading this blog for the first time as I saw that it was bookmarked on my mother's computer. I now have her computer because she recently died...so this has been an interesting and timely blog for me to read.

“I have no idea if she (Pat Trimbell) was an active voice here or not. But I know that the content and people of this blog were a blessing in her life, so I thank you all for that.”

And thank you, Kate, for letting us know. Most often, we don't.

* * *

[What follows may not be directly related to age or growing old, but as a U.S. citizen living through a crisis that makes Watergate and the Nixon resignation feel like a day in the park, I believe it is important to make some space for those of us who gather here to talk about what I see as our national shame.]

On Friday evening, the U.S. Senate voted mostly along party lines to reject including documents and witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump. (Before you read further, it might be helpful to read Maureen Dowd's weekend column in The New York Times if you have access.)

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins did her usual “maybe, maybe not” tap dance about her vote for a few days, eventually siding with the Democrats in the hope it will help her re-election campaign which is under water.

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, on the other hand, voted with the Democrats because, apparently, he believes a trial requires evidence and witness testimony. What a concept.

While the trial was underway, there were several leaks from John Bolton's upcoming book, The Room Where It happened, a memoir of his time as National Security Advisor in the Trump administration.

Bolton had said he would testify at the impeachment trial if subpoenaed but the Republicans were having none of it. Nor were they having any of it from Lev Parnas, the indicted cohort of Rudy Giuliani, who is eager to testify.

The president's legal team at the trial didn't deny the details of the leaks and didn't have much of a defense beyond stating, “He didn't do it.” The more awful truth, in fact, is that the defense came down to this: “If the king does it, it's legal.”

And that is where we are now – living in a monarchy.

Next up is the annual State of the Union address at which the president will address the entire Congress on Tuesday evening. At least he cannot crow that he was acquitted in the Senate (that won't happen until Wednesday) but never one to hide his light, he is certain to make the speech all about himself.

As, I suppose, befits a king.

The thing is, leaks and more books already in the pipeline along with photographs, videos, recordings and brave patriots like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Ambassador Fiona Hill and others will continue to tell the truth out loud. Eventually.

What worries me is what this president will do to our republic between now and eventually. It can easily be catastrophic from which there would be no return. In fact, I wonder if we have reached that point already. Certainly we have in regard to the Republican Party.

You may have noticed that the language in this post is a little more stilted than usual. That's because I couldn't trust myself to remain civil on this subject without coloring carefully within the lines.

The comments are open for discussion. Keep yours on topic. Do not attack other commenters or respond to attacks. Keep a civil tongue and respect one another. Violaters will be permanently blocked from future commenting without notice or recourse.


Lately I have been reading the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. I came across this quote of his from the 1880s which reflects what is going on in this impeachment farce:
"All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth." And look at who's in power.

Of all the nonsense excuses I've heard from Republicans throughout this process, the one that really blows my mind is what Alan Dershowitz said. He claimed that if the president truly believed his election was in the national interest, could do whatever he wished to promote that election. Say what? I couldn't believe a lawyer could say that with a straight face.

I am  so very grateful for your comments today, Ronni, on many levels. TimeGoesBy  is my tiny "Life Preserver" in the increasingly choppy seas of aging, health issues, and despair for our beloved country. 

Tears came when I read the opening paragraph for even though I did not know Pat, I feel the loss in ways I can never understand or explain....except to say it is my belief we all connected  somehow.

It brought to mind (as usual for me) an old song.  This is the title song from Mary McCaslin's 1977 album "Old Friends". She wrote it. It is still easy to find online.
The line that always rings in my mind is "One less hand to hold". Very few physical hands in my life now, yet the voices I have come to respect here feel like good friends to me. Their 'voices ' give me hope .

Thank you Ronni, and all who offer their cheer and wisdom here.
Charlene (in Oregon) 

That was really nice of Pat's daughter to send that message about her mom's passing and her pleasure in hanging around your blog.

What just happened in the senate can be chalked up to the huge success of Citizen's United PAC money which Mitch has in his war chest to give out or withhold from his senators to buy their votes. I had hoped there would have been more senators with backbones to act independently. They took away my faith in our system of government and all I can say is I'm glad I'm at the end of my life than at the beginning. Nastiness, lying, breaking laws and cheating are now the accepted way to scratch your way to the top. I'm in mourning.

In preparing for my own blog post, I came across this quote which seems apt here:

"... from the opening of a 2016 book The Soul Dick: An American Romance by Em L. Smith. [I haven’t read it; I just found the quote.]

Weltschmerz, basically, is the depression we feel when bamboozlers, fanatics, manipulators, trolls, bigots, demagogues, fear-mongers, liars and prigs threaten to take over the world, and there’s nothing, we think, we can do about it. "

I have another quotation which will not add cheer to an unfortunate situation. "Any nonsense can attain importance by virtue of being believed by millions of people." This was written by Albert Einstein in 1938 for an Austrian acquaintance as the Nazis consolidated their influence in Vienna. Watch it being emulated on Tuesday evening.

I agree with Ronni's post and all the above comments. I have nothing to add, other than that I am heartbroken. I hope I can get my rage back to try to put up a fight for the 2020 election.

Truth and justice have taken an extended leave of absence.

I have read much about the inevitability of all this. On the skid marks for a very long time. My heart breaks for all my USian friends. No longer living in a republic.

A failed democracy with a deranged emperor in charge.


The real problem here is that it is not just the Senate doing this. In fact it is those in the country - the religious right - now including the Catholic bishops and other groups - who are backing Trump. Do you not think that the Republican congress members aren't looking over their shoulders to see who is behind them. I even read recently that the "pro-life" Democrats might vote for Trump since he is so "pro-life" and the Democrats won't even listen to them. The idea that Trump is "pro-life" wants to make me vomit.

I don't mean to be a downer here but also look at the Democratic list in Iowa. Not a strong candidate among them. At least nobody with any sort of agenda to undo 4 years of Trump. A the rate we are going Trump will easily get re-elected.

The words discouraged and depressed do not even come close.

As Americans we march forward into another wondrous spring with all of God's magnificence; beautiful colors, new senses arise, new friends to enjoy - we anticipate the inevitable.

On the very first day of another past Spring, this current administration introduced 330 million Americans to its own "alternative facts". Facts that would be consumed, digested, promulgated by a third of Americans. One misstatement after another - and then built on top of another, on and on.

Alternate facts may have been the very essence of this new ad hoc 'trial of sorts'. But the truth will eventually be known. "In God we trust".

As a reminder: " . . . . and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God . . . "

Rather than refining our democracy, we have managed to neglect it. Imagine, in the last 4 years a 244-year democracy torn asunder by something simple as greed and politics (corruption) . . . . Shameful! All of us know better. We are the Seniors!

This tyranny will be shared by more than those of the one third? Any regrets?

I am several chapters into the new book, "A Very Stable genius" and it is jaw-dropping. My sympathies to all those who worked or presently have to work in the current White House! Get out while you can! The NYT reporters who wrote this book interviewed over 300 current and past White House and Administration employees to write the book!

The one thing giving me hope right now is that the great majority of folks I talk to are saying that they will support ANYONE running against our current prez. That said, I would love to see what Elizabeth Warren could do for our country! She's brilliant!

On another subject, wherever you live, if you get a chance to see the new Arizona musical, "Americano! " (sorry I don't know how to do the upside-down exclamation point before the title) please don't miss it! It's playing in Phoenix now as a world premier and is based on the true story of AZ Dreamer and political activist Antonio Valdovinos from Phoenix who only discovered that he wasn't a U.S. citizen when he went in to join the Marines on his 18th birthday. The story is inspiring and the music and dancing are delightful. I am sure it will end up on Broadway so see it before the tickets are $160! Many of you visit Phoenix in winter or may live nearby, I am guessing. It's 70 today!

"Weltschmerz" says it for me, too. I awakened Saturday still angry at the feckless Senate Republicans. But I awakened today bathed in ennui and disappointed, of all things, because I realized the State of the Union would interfere with some really fine escapist television.

Thank goodness I have Netflix. But what of the next several months? There will be a Democratic Presidential Primary here on the 29th, yet the issues and candidates as they line up today leave me listless. Obviously, good coffee with a dab of Irish is in order.

My condolences to Kate Carlson—and gratitude to her for letting people know about her mom.

I agree.

I'm sick at heart. We now live in a banana republic.

I come from a crazy family, so this situation is both familiar and horrifying to the bone.

Can we fix ourselves?

If we have learned anything from this entire impeachment process is that you cannot indict a president for merely being a schmuck, or much of anything else either.

To you, Kate, on the death of your mother .. may her memory be for a blessing. It is a traditional Jewish saying when someone dies...and it is what I hope. Ronni - thank you for letting us know.

To the issue of politics: it's very relevant for so many reasons one of which I know the stress of the horrors of it all are making me older, sicker, faster. It is not just me. A friend of 55+ years said the same. Others in so many groups and among friends are too. And reading the Washington Post front page today [I made myself read the A section .. I've been skipping it but was curious to read of the impact of coronavirus on US medical care and manufacturing] it is believed by historians and presidential scholars that the precedent this is setting is to give presidents carte blanche on behaviors.

On one other note about life and death: I am a fan and was a viewer of "The Good Life" which had its finale almost two weeks ago now. Finally watched it. Then on Sat., saw the play "Silent Sky" (at Ford's Theatre in DC - if you're in the area, please go see it) about Henrietta Leavitt, one of the first women 'computers' at Harvard who did such remarkable work about which I knew bupkis. In the play and her work and in "The Good Life" the meaning of life and afterlife are the subjects. A super-fan of the film "Defending Your Life", I found myself more reflective than ever about what's next after seeing both.

Funny .. all events and life and death tie together, don't they?

Of course, I am so very happy that the resistance' obsession with overturning the 2016 election have once again been thwarted. The man has been pursued from before his inauguration like a fox pursued by a pack of rabid dogs--who can blame him for sometimes letting it get to him? The democrats have ruined any chance of a conviction because, short of a truly impeachable action/crime, Republican Senators will not permit the impeachment obsessed democrats to get their way. Democrats and Trump haters have a very legitimate and timely way to overturn his presidency and that's the 2020 election. If this occurs, I would respect it. I hated the way Barack Obama was constantly attacked and smeared by conservatives and racists and I also hate the way this man, different in style but highly productive, has been under constant resistance and attack. Let's see what happens and live with it (but I'm ready to say "not my president" if need be. And by the way, long live the Electoral College, our only defense against right and left coast major population centers taking control of this government. I will not be reading any retorts or replies because I just can't take it. I regret that politics come up as a topic on the blog because otherwise it's so very enjoyable and helpful--I turn my head and try to ignore, but today was over the top.

Ronni, finally you speak! on the "Circ du senate."
I live in a retirement community, and there is NO conversation about the atrocity about to happen in D.C. The emperor has no clothes on, but seniors, especially it seems, have no one to talk to about this farce being enacted on live TV.

I'm amazed at how people can insist a fair "trial" has been taking place. Doesn't a trial require witnesses and evidence? The vote to deny either last week made me sick at heart. Thanks for this opportunity to vent a little.

One of the things I like about this blog is that people communicate respectfully and politics is not front and center in the conversation.

I am a politically moderate, unaffiliated voter. I have several conservative friends and relatives who support Trump and their view is just what John expressed. They are intelligent and caring people who see the world through a different lens than I do.

My liberal friends feel just as you do, Ronni and most of the commenters. You all have my heartfelt sympathy. These past 3 years have been a rough ride for liberals.

I actually like some of Trump's policies (anti-war and pro-economy). But he is, in my opinion, a nightmare in the White House, normalizing a new low in dishonest and outrageous behavior. I'm disappointed in the line-up of Democratic candidates, but plan to vote for whichever one prevails.

But I have to say that it is not only our president who acts disrespectfully toward people who don't agree with him. Disrespect by ordinary Americans across the political divide is worse than I've ever seen in my 67 years. It's important for me to maintain relationships with people whose political beliefs are different from mine. John, if you are reading this, please know I respect your support of our president even though I can't bring myself to feel very good about him myself.

Charlene, thank you so much for saying that we are all connected somehow. I feel that too.
Please remember that underneath this political turmoil, we liberals, conservatives, Trump supporters, and Never Trumpers are all in this together. Please continue to respect one another.

We'll get past Trump. Democracy is based on the goodness in people but sometimes it gets bogged down by the bad guys. Remember Joe McCarthy? A truly evil man and he had this country in his grip in the Fifties. We got past him and we'll do it again with Trump.

If you want to, you can totally ignore what I have to say because I’m Canadian and have NO say in what goes on south of the 49th.
But as I’ve said previously, if USA sneezes, Canada gets pneumonia so your political situation affects us almost as much as it affects you.
*if what has been spoken about in the impeachment is true, then surely the democrats should be trying to convince that man's base. My husband is addicted to CNN and MSNBC, and ignores me when I say those people are preaching to the choir. It’s the other people who need convincing.
*News stations accentuate that man's name far too often, a thought I had back before the 2016 election. He got way more air time than Hillary, even on PBS news, and even if it was negative.
*his base thinks of democrats and their ilk as elitist. Are they right? Do the Democrat people need to get a little more down to earth and present things with blue collar lives in mind? Tell the coal miners what you’re going to try to achieve for them. It’s tough when new technology replaces old, without retraining those who depend on that old standard for a living.
I love Americans, but American politics is seeping out of your country and into ours and I’m afraid! Please, please get along.

I'm sorry to hear about Pat Trimbell, but appreciate her daughter taking the time and care to reach out to you and readers.

Having sat through most of the impeachment proceedings this morning, I now feel like a wet noodle. I've heard most of what's been said many times over the past several days, but this morning was especially wrenching.

I did learn one new thing today. While Patrick Philbin was speaking a sidebar listing some of his history appeared on one side of the screen. It included a sentence saying that James Comey claimed that Philbin had been in Ashcroft's hospital room with him. For the life of me I could not remember what this was about. It sounded pretty provocative, so I looked it up. Several articles immediately appeared, all of which were disturbing. Having read through a couple of them so far, I'm left wondering what's really going on at the highest level of government in the U.S. The Ashcroft incident is from 2007 when there was an attempt by the Bush administration to legitimize warrantless wiretapping, under the direction of then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It's a rather chilling story and one that didn't end well for Gonzales, and leaves me wondering who's really pulling many of the strings these days, and what's truly behind some of the wagon-circling of administrations engaging in illegal activity.

Like others here, I am very thankful for the sunshine and warmer temps we are receiving here today. We may need spring now more than ever. It's been years since I've heard or read the word 'weltschmerz,' but it certainly seems applicable today -- thank you Janet for reminding me of it.

A commenter above, Joan mentioned her enthusiasm for the film "Defending Your Life." I'm another. It would be great if it were true. Who knows? I'd love to be a fly on the wall for Trump's posthumous defense. Maybe some people get sent to Dante's inferno?

As to the comparison between Trump and Joseph McCarthy . . . McCarthy wasn't the head of an entire branch of government, and although he created an enormous amount of pain and mischief, he was censured and prevented from doing further harm.

I recently saw a quote from an American Lit professsor who tweets as "Werner Twertzog," (and that was then misattributed to Werner Herzog) that said: "Dear America: You are waking up, as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while 1/3 watches."

The lower middle and working classes of the US have been essentially ignored for a long time, and they are angry and desperate. And there are more of them, since the 1% has cornered all the money needed to provide decent jobs, housing, healthcare, and--most importantly--education. Many of these poor and grossly underserved Americans seem to rely on a strange religion that they call Christianity but that is really angry and full of frightened tribal exclusionism. All are utterly vulnerable to an entertainer cum Mafia boss who promises them everything and stirs up both their laughter and their anger. Trump not only could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it--he can and doees tell his audiences that the sun is green, and they applaud.

Yes, this shamelessness has been in the pipelines for a while, and still we had some hopes. Now, we just need to sign petitions, make some phone calls, help in any small ways possible, the Democrat who runs against the Rump. I so agree with the people who wrote on the idea of the Democrats reaching out to the lower classes, the overlooked, those who have become desperate enough to vote for the Rump.

If Mitt Romney ran against Trump to be the Republican candidate, I believe that he would have a good chance of winning as many Republicans would be so glad to have a normal candidate. He would certainly give whichever Democrat wins the preliminaries a run for their money.

It constantly amazes me that any woman or any person who cares about a woman would support Trump. The same for veterans.

I am afraid for the country whenever I hear someone I know speak in favor of Trump.

Appreciate Kate letting us know about her mother and my condolences to her.

Your political observations have always been an important component of TGB from my perspective. We cannot escape the fact politics has significant impact on issues of utmost interest to all, including and maybe especially for our older population, including, health care, Medicare, Social Security just to name a few topics. They certainly do to this aging reader.

I think the idea those not supporting our current President are trying to undo the 2016 election is a red herring to avoid thinking about or discussing the real issues. My reasons for considering this President a danger to our democratic republic are primarily because of his concentrated efforts to usurp our government’s balance of power that our Constitution prescribes.

Absolute power invested in the Executive Branch, a Judicial Branch whose allegiance is to him rather than the people, as has been the case with our U. S. Senate, is hardly a dictate of our Constitution. His efforts to subjugate the House of Representatives to his control fortunately was thwarted in the last election. Demonizing the Fourth Estate, our Press, unless they report only his facts, which often aren’t even true, presents a continuing danger from a leader who has demonstrated his proclivity for vindictiveness.

This doesn’t even begin to address all the other serious reasons those who treasure personal freedoms should be concerned about if he remains in office. Any student of basic history can see currently, earlier in my lifetime, and before that, the steps of how authoritative governments gain control — just as is being done by this President. An autocracy, theocracy or combination of both was not the intent of out nation’ founding fathers in our Constitution — or that of my ancestors who fought for independence.

Some very good comments here, but I wanted to respond to one in particular who wrote, in regards to coal miners, the need for retraining when new technology replaces the old. I grew up in a small town in southwestern PA, where coal mining was most families bread & butter. If you didn’t farm, you mined. Many did both (including my dad, who worked in coal shaft construction for 30+ years).

Anyway, several months after Trump took office, my little hometown was on the world news. The job training center there couldn’t get former miners to sign up for retraining. (If you google “Awaiting Trump's coal comeback, miners reject retraining” the original article focusing on my hometown is still out there.)

These men had various reasons for turning down the free courses (in everything from nursing to IT studies) but their primary one was they were waiting for Trump to fulfill his promise of getting the coal industry moving again in Pa. That was in November 2017, and since then approximately 6,000 more miners have lost their jobs. Do these Trump still-supporters remember all the phony promises he made? Many of us didn’t believe this buffoon for a minute, too bad more of the desperate did.

Coal miners' primary [reason for turning down retraining in 2017], "was they were waiting for Trump to fulfill his promise of getting the coal industry moving again in Pa. That was in November 2017, and since then approximately 6,000 more miners have lost their jobs."

Geez, Doug - I wonder how many other places there are where this has happened. He just flaps his jaws, doesn't he, and pays no attention to what comes out of his mouth. Why isn't this being more widely reported. Every single day.

Ronni, so true—and meanwhile, a couple weeks ago my sister (who still lives back home) wrote and told me the “Trump caravan” had arrived, several vans and a big rig with TRUMP 2020 on its sides, to set up a Trump HQ and some kind of store with Trump merchandise.

Well, he fooled them once before…. It’s so infuriating.

I very much sympathize with your take on the Senate Impeachment Trial but I would like to comment that as a Canadian I live in a (constitutional) monarchy, and while our monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) occasionally gives us something to gossip about, we don't feel that she in any way endangers our democratic government. I don't think your president is acting like a modern monarch.

I hope people check out Andrew Yang., the latest Democratic nominee. He has some real answers to our problems. Reminds me a little of Roosevelt and his New Deal.

I have been addicted to the impeachment trial from the beginning. I have heard many wonderful speeches in my lifetime but one of the best ever was Adam Schiff's closing argument from today.

He said it all.

I'm sure you can find it on UTube.

Such great comments in this post. As stated above, it is true that President Trump does not act like a modern monarch - the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the monarchical head of that state comes to mind. No, I believe he would rather act as a dictator, such as Augusto Pinochet who was the Supreme Head of Chili – and there is a huge difference!

As for his upcoming State of the Union address, I shall not watch it – will read about it later. His voice and appearance brings me malaise but even more, the way he speaks slurring his speech and mispronouncing words is very reminiscent of my late husband’s early Alzheimer’s disease and it is very disturbing to me. Just like my husband, he has a direct connection to that disease (his father.) Frankly I don’t worry too much about him running in 2020 – I don’t think he’ll last that long.

As for people who still think he is great, that he is making America great, they mostly drink up the constant propaganda right-wing television feed them and/or listen to shock jockeys on the radio who broadcast misinformation for entertainment and sponsors. By constantly misinforming D. Trump’s uneducated voter base they have given carte blanche to this mentally and emotionally under-equipped president to continue his lies and destruction. Then this ignorant base is easily manipulated by the unscrupulous GOP.

Condolences to you Kate Carson on the passing of your mom
Pat Trimbell. Losing a member of this blog family is like losing
a friend.

Thank you Geordie for reminding us of Einstein's quote. We all know to whom he's referring and I feel the same way.

Kate Carlson, you did us all a service with your observation about your mother's bookmarks. Tomorrow, I am headed for a second set of advanced mammograms, looking, of course, for breast cancer. If I'm not lucky, my son will get this computer. So I'm tidying up my bookmarks ... today!
Condolences on your mom's passing. Please make a copy of those bookmarks and store it in the cloud. Even if the computer doesn't last forever, the things your mom liked can, and you can look back at them whenever you're remembering her.

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