Removing Donald Trump

blue heron

A blue heron strolling in my Florida back yard yesterday

19 days to go before I leave America. I’m going from swamp to desert. Who says geezers can’t handle radical change?

Given what is going on in my adopted country — not just post Charlottesville, but everything else too — never have I been more certain of the correctness of my decision in January ’17 to move abroad, until Donald Trump is forcibly removed from office by any legal means necessary.

When it rain it pours.

Let me explain what I mean, because like The Donald, no matter the subject, it’s always about me.

I’ve had to fix quite a few things with/in our house lately before leaving. It’s costing me stacks, man.

For example, a mysterious leak has sprung in an outside wall in the back of our house, and has to be located by a professional (read: very expensive!) leak detection outfit and fixed today before things got worse.

Many appliances suddenly died and needed replacement.

There have been roof issues, because of the constant deluge of water pouring down from the sky.

The car needed new spark plugs and its AC died, which cannot be tolerated in the summer FLA heat.

Water, water, everywhere, so much of it, so close to home, if you like Carver; or, if you prefer Sage, the water line is rising, and all we do is stand there.

It’s as if there is a Trumpian dark cloud over this place. Maybe there’s one over America wherever you look nowadays.

No matter.

You try to not lose your head, or cry wolf when things go wrong under pressure: you solve problems, one by one, because you’re an adult now, and know how to stabilize any situation, until your head explodes.

Or until the poisoned well is capped, the storm water drained, and the leakage in the kitchen is found, thanks to the leak finder guys, and stopped and it was all from the lousy install by some Home Demon contractors of the new dishwasher, and that, too, will end up costing me a bundle to fix, unless I can negotiate getting reimbursed.

If only the same could apply to dealing with the clusterfuck that is the Donald Trump presidency.

Can you go to a Customer Service window in DC and return the defective item in question?

Just tell them, it’s faulty; no good: all it does is spread the odor of Old Man uriniferous effluence — and they take it back, no questions asked.

There is really only one answer for the United States now.

The GOP must convince itself to invoke the 25th amendment; waiting for a lengthy and a protracted Congressional impeachment process, following what is sure to be an extremely ugly 2018 election cycle, will tear this country apart. Running against him in 2020 is too late.

Whatever happens, Trump is going to try to dig in even more. His Vanilla Isis base will attempt to make permanent what has amounted to a fascist coup.

Will Antifa and Anonymous stand idly by for this?

Would you?

In effect, it’s become obvious to more than the Cassandra set that the United States is increasingly facing the likelihood of a second Civil War — unless the widely reviled Trump is removed from office.

Should Pence and the GOP not pursue the 25th amendment track, more serious steps will be required.

If Robert Muller finds sufficient rock-solid incriminating evidence to indict the President of the United States, members of his family, and his inner circle, past and present, Donald Trump should be allowed to either immediately step down in disgrace, or be advised that he will be prosecuted to, as the hackneyed phrase goes, fullest extent allowed by law — without the possibility of a pardon.

That threat, ultimately, may be the only stick that will successfully chase out this president and his henchmen as well as his various appointees, including Christian Supremacist Mike Pence and Evil Mama‘s boy Neil McGill Gorsuch, via unrelenting lawsuits that challenge the legality of their selection.

But what if Muller fails?

arab american cartoon

Illo from Washington Post archives

You do not want to be here, as an Arab-American, for that eventuality.

It was the Jews who fled that ended up surviving, not the ones who remained and waited for the SS to come a-knockin’.

Stay and fight?

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and boy you just never know what can happen these days in that regard.

The United States is still, for now, a great country — despite, say, the horrendous things it is doing in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, yaddi yadda.

It will survive this, too, though changed for the better or worse, I do not yet know.

Tell you what.

I’m not holding my breath under water as I gambol in my Association pewl until Congress grows the cohones to undo the harm this unfit, appalling — in both the early and late Middle English senses of the word — man has already done.

I’ll probably suffer a shallow water blackout before a Republican-controlled legislature works with the Dems to enact permanent steps via Constitutional amendments such as to never allow the likes of Donald Trump to ever darken the door of the Oval Office again.

Shallow water blackouts, man.

They’re, like, deadly.

Why is chance so unexpected?

North Korea and Egypt

Naguib and friends

Memory’s a funny thing; in Egypt, where I’ll be living a month from now, it’s everything.

As I pack my bags and prepare to leave America, I’m spending more time than is mentally advisable on Twitter.

Can’t think of a better, more immediate way to catch the very latest gossip and tips before going to Egypt, where information is tightly controlled, and many independent news sites blacked out on the Internet.

Yesterday, an item related to the latest Trumpian blowhard bullying caught my attention.  It was posted by Declan Walsh, Cairo Bureau of the New York Times, and was simply a link to a POMED article titled Egypt’s North Korea Connection.

The piece provides a history of Korean/Egyptian ties, some intrigue-laden Lord of War details on Pyongyang’s use of front companies to conduct illegal arms deals in Africa via Egypt, and discusses, at some length, the Naguib Sawiris/Orascom’s connection to the hermit nation.

You can read all about that here.

But shifty arms deals, though fascinating, or Turmpian braggadocio, which is far less so, are not what I wish to discuss.

Rather, this post is about how the chance mention of Orascom, one of Egypt’s largest companies, unexpectedly jogged my memory to Ayam Zaman, a stock phrase used by most Egyptians to evoke their country’s Belle Époque days.

Let’s go back there, if only for a moment.

Mawlan in ’46

In the days of the English, and the last years of the reign of King Farouk, there was a very bright young man named Ahmed who graduated first in his class in 1948 from Cairo University.

His academic record at university was extraordinary, as he achieved perfect scores in all his courses. But what he truly excelled (and loved most) was the field of electrical engineering.

King Farouk bestowed a medal on this promising young man upon graduation, and Cairo University wanted him to become a professor and teach advanced, pure mathematics. He was widely recognized as one of the most gifted young men of his generation.

That man was my father.

My Dad in ’48, pic from the memoirs of the late Ibrahim Khalifa, who emigrated to New York before us.  Khalifa was one of the founders and a managing director of the first wire and cable company in Egypt, Electro Cable, and later became a senior executive in a major US corporation. A classmate of my Dad’s, he also  received a degree in electrical engineering from Cairo University, and was part of the great brain drain that occurred in Egypt during the Nasser years.

But my Dad declined the offer to join academia.

Instead, he travelled to England, and began an apprenticeship, under the direction of renowned writer C. P. Snow (who served as physicist-director of scientific personnel for English Electric between 1944–1964), in the company’s various factories that produced transformers and turbines in the Midlands.

My father hated the British occupation, but he wanted to learn applied engineering skills in order to help move Egypt into the 20th century.

So while many of his peers at Cairo U. took on cushy managerial jobs back home, Ahmed learn how to build things on a factory floor in a foreign country.

Upon his return from England, the revolution of 1952 took place.

Like most young men of his generation, Ahmed supported Nasser’s Socialist dream.

Though he came from an elite, land-owning family, he supported the confiscation of the vast farms of the idle, decadent Turko-Egyptian beys.

He threw himself into the national. project of modernizing Egypt from the ground up and abandoning its relegation to the status of a mostly agrarian nation populated by backward fellahs.

By the late 50s, my father had acquired a reputation for incomparable honesty (in a country where corruption was the norm), as well as, more importantly, the ability to  oversee successfully large, complex electrical power projects.

While still in his early 30s, he had formed his own company, and bid on and won the contract to build Cairo South in Helwan. This plant — which of course has been upgraded and expanded many times since — still powers the capital of Egypt to this day.

Dad supported Nasser, but then the dream began to turn sour.

People began to disappear. Phones were tapped. The army never relinquished power, as General Naguib had said it would, and Egypt became a police state that drove out all who had once given the country its elegance and style and sense of cosmopolitanism.

Slowly, the best of Ahmed’s generation began to leave.

Many came to America, but my Dad stayed on.

After his company was nationalized, he was appointed chairman of a company that was the equivalent of GE.

Gamal Abdel Nasser

My Dad, right, with Nasser, at a famous mid 60s technical exhibit on Gezira Island. Sidki is lurking in the background, whispering in Nasser’s ear.

He turned this failing company around in a year, and many thought he would replace Aziz Sidki as the next minister of industry.

And then, suddenly, just like that, my father one day took his family to New York, only a few months before the Six-day War.

But many stayed and found golden opportunities — especially now that much of the serious competition had left the country — to work with Nasser, and, later, Anwar Sadat, whose Open Door policy created the corrupt, avaricious oligarchy that flourished under Hosni Mubarak and which exists in Egypt to this day.

This world has all kinds of people in it.  Not all, of course, are venal.

Osman Ahmed Osman was a shrewd businessman who prospered in Egypt from the late 50s on; Onsi Sawiris, another — though each had long stints of  seeking their fortune outside the country during the Nasser regime.

Perhaps they each discovered they could sidestep ethical niceties, and made huge fortunes accommodating the military regime, while others, like my father, and Ibrahim Khalifa, and many others like them, left much behind, to start over in a new, inhospitable country with $15 in their pockets (which is what Nasser allowed them to leave with), all for the sake of giving their children a chance to grow up in a place where people were supposedly free.

Fifty years later, we now have Trump as President of the United States, and the naive dream of freedom, as envisioned by my father and many Moslem immigrants to the Untied States, has turned to ashes.

Was it all for nothing, then?

Should my father have remained — he, by far the most brilliant Egyptian engineer of his graduating class —  looked the other way, and made a cynical king’s ransom in a country that was ripe for the taking?

Possibly.

Many did, particularly those whose ethical fidelity to the ideals of the ’52 revolution was far more ambiguously situational than my father’s, as evidenced by the various travels bans and other judicial interventions over the decades, which were typically circumvented with the passage of time and the nostrum of state bribery.

Let’s come back to present realities.

Naguib Sawiris, who is Onsi’s eldest son — we are roughly the same age — is sponsoring the premiere of the El Gouna Film Festival next month.

As of this writing, I plan to be in attendance.

I’ve bittersweet feelings, as do most long-term, political emigrés, about returning to live for six months, or so, to the place where I grew up. But I doubt, should I actually run into Naguib Sawiris at his festival, in the town his brother founded, that I’ll mention my father.

My sense of it is that deeply felt memories are often the eidetic product of the vagaries of chance, but should never be dismissed as mere nostalgia.

Their emotional permanence, however, is usually without personal substance to even the most well-meaning of strangers.

False alarms

leaving america for gouna

Where I’m headed

At the stroke of midnight, there will be 27 days left before I leave America.

I will end up in Gouna, in a bubble, far far away.

The endless noise about the orange khanzeer will abate, but there will be other sounds to avoid.

Here is a poem called Finalities, by Constantine Cavafy. It is from the start of his mature period, 1911. The poem warns me as to what to expect when I arrive in Egypt.

Plunged in fear and suspicions

with agitated mind and frightened eyes,

we melt, and plan how to act

in order to avoid the certain

danger so frightfully menacing us.

And yet we err, it is not in our paths;

the messages were false alarms,

(or else we did not hear, or fully understand them).

Another catastrophe, that we never imagined,

suddenly, torrentially, falls upon us,

and unprepared — there is no more time — carries us off.

If there is too much noise in Gouna, as there is here, I shall go to the desert.

If it is quiet, but all I hear are inanities, I shall read my books and seek the company of no one.

If a scorpion crosses my path, I shall avoid him. If he asks, do you object to my being a scorpion? I shan’t answer, but I will cede no ground.

If he thinks I cannot tell that he is a scorpion, he shall be mistaken.

How does an old man go to a place that is surrounded by beaches and young men flying in the wind?

I cannot fly like them, for I am not as strong as I once was.

leaving america

A version of me might have flown higher than any of them, but I am now grounded by time and Ikarian misfortune.

But there is one thing that has not changed — in fact, it has improved with Time; should that ever decay, I shall not see any point remaining at all.