Wake Me Up in 2020

Talk of Secession and the Next Four Years

SET THE ALARM: Cartoon in the New Yorker shows a woman in bed reaching to turn off the light and telling her mate: “Set the alarm for 2020.”

Another cartoon shows a clown on a throne with a devilish look, while one courtier says to another: “He was once funny ha-ha, but now he’s just funny terrifying.”

Barney Brantingham

“What are we going to do for the next four years?” writes my anguished sister Joyce from Scottsdale in deep red Maricopa County, Arizona. “This is Trump town.” She voted for Hillary, and I suspect this was the first time she’d ever voted for a Democrat for anything.

Santa Barbarans, stunned at the zealots Donald Trump is naming to his cabinet and other offices, are wincing and waiting for other shoes to drop after he’s inaugurated on January 20. His finance appointees are being dubbed Trump’s “Wolves of Wall Street.”

California — which was won by Hillary Clinton by 28 points, is home to 39 million people and boasts the sixth largest economy in the world — is just an onlooker in TrumpWorld. Secession, anyone?

Texas, where more than a hundred thousand people petitioned the White House for secession from ObamaWorld in 2012, is remarkably quiet on the subject now.

Folks in Seattle, where I just visited, are loudly vowing to continue the fight to combat the effects of global warming. And well they might, considering their coastal location. Mayor Ed Murray, Starbucks (its original location in the Pike Place Market is a tourist attraction), and others are pushing the “No Child Sleeps Outside” campaign. Starbucks is matching donations up to $1 million.

Winter nights are cold in winter and usually sopping wet. Seattle’s metropolitan area of three million has about 4,000 homeless people, including 500 families, trying to survive anywhere out of the rain, even in port-a-potties, reports the Seattle Times.

SPLITTING TO PANAMA? Some talk of fleeing the U.S. before Trump takes over. While I’m sitting tight in San Roque, if I ever longed to decamp to the tropics, it might be to Panama, where I served in the U.S. Army.

But its past presidential elections make our present hullabaloo look like a nursery school game. How about this: In 1940, with war raging in Europe, newly elected Panamanian president Arnulfo Arias invited Adolf Hitler to build whatever he wished in Panama.

After all, Arias declared in his inauguration speech, since his country had ceded land to the U.S. to build the canal, Panama could do the same so that the Germans could build “whatever they wish and can help us against imperialism.” The canal was a wartime lifeline for the Allies. Arias was a staunch supporter of Hitler and vowed to weaken U.S. influence and bring Panama closer to Nazi Germany.

But in October 1941, just two months before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. backed a coup to oust Arias.

On January 2, 1955, President José Remón Cantera was assassinated at a Panama city racetrack by attackers wielding submachine guns. A group of men that included “playboy lawyer” Rubén Miró was arrested. All were acquitted.

Arias ran for president again in 1948 and lost ​— ​but the National Assembly declared him the winner. Politics can be strange, no?

Arias set up a secret police force, and corruption ran wild. So in 1951, he was forced out once again

In 1968, Arnulfo Arias ran again and won, only to be kicked out after just 11 days. He made a dramatic midnight escape to the U.S. Canal Zone while military police searched for him.

You’d think that would have been enough for Arias, but in 1984 the 84-year-old ran once more and was leading the vote count when military dictator Manuel Noriega stepped in.

Beginning in the 1950s, Noriega was a convenient tool of the CIA, which overlooked his cocaine dealing. When he got too hard to handle, the U.S. deposed him in the 1989 invasion.

I doubt if the Trump regime can match that history.

IT’S COMPLICATED: Love, that is. Neil Simon’s play Chapter Two gives us lots of laughs but also some snarls. One long, sharp-tongued speech by Jennie Malone (played by Caroline Kinsolving) is reportedly what actress Marsha Mason said to playwright Simon when they were married. Chapter Two is on the boards at Ensemble Theatre Company’s New Vic through December 18.


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