Bastille Day Thoughts, 14 juillet 2017

  • 9:35 am: Trump’s in Paris. At least he was until a few hours ago when he flew back to Washington. We saw him, of course, seated in a place of honor close to Emmanuel Macron the French President, while watching the défilé militaire du quatorze juillet, clapping and saluting appropriately, and most especially as the American representatives in uniform marched by in remembrance and celebration of America’s decision to send the troops to France in WWI.
  • WW1
  • 9:45 One might say that this was President’s Wilson’s biggest mistake, and for a lot of reasons, but mostly for those 100,000 and more young men and women who never came back! And it would probably be best that this war not be remembered except as for what we should never do again, and that it be forgotten, as nearly all the 80 odd wars in which we have fought since our founding. WW1 especially but all wars represent man’s failure to rely on minds and hearts rather than guns and ammunition to resolve his disputes. So why do we go on remembering and celebrating these failures, as today in Paris?
  • 10:00: We see in the TV clips here in Tampa an all friendly Trump walking about with an all smiling Macron in the Place de la Concorde, that which we, I certainly, would never have expected to see, given my experience of Trump and Macron, my knowledge of their respective characters, and in particular from such earlier Trump language and tweets as: —”The Paris Agreement doesn’t put America first. I put America first, and always will. I don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And now that I’m here they won’t be! I was elected to represent, not the citizens of Paris,  but the citizens of Pittsburgh.”
  • 10:30: Why, I ask myself, did Trump accept Macron’s invitation to go to Paris? Doesn’t France represent everything that Trump’s own people are most against? France just has to be the most liberal and most administrative state anywhere on the globe, and “administration” is most of all that which Trump pushed by his chief strategic counselor, Stephen Bannon, would dismantle and if he could bring crashing down. And Trump can’t have gone for love of Paris, (which by the way is the reason most people go to that city), let alone love of France and its history, much of which our two countries have shared at least during modern times and of most of which Trump is probably ignorant.
  • 11:30:  No, his going to Paris just has to be for showing himself, president, demonstrating for all to see in one of the most beautiful cities of the world just how much of a showman he really is. He went to Paris, as he does most things, to be admired himself in one of the most admired cities of the world. Sometimes it does seem as if that side, that constant craving for admiration, (the rallies by which he secured the Republican nomination), is all there is of Trump. In any case that’s the side of him that we most often see, as at his January 20 inaugural, as at the G-20 meeting in Poland, and as now at the Bastille Day défilé.

bastille Day.jpeg


  • 12:45: Trump didn’t talk in Paris. Somehow he was kept quiet. Trump’s words when he does speak, in both his unprepared remarks and prepared speeches and interviews, contain nothing but borrowed and tired ideas. We haven’t and we don’t and shouldn’t look to him for a new thought or idea of any kind. His “America First,” “Build the Wall,” “Keep Them Out,” “Keep the jobs home,” are terribly old and well worn refrains, popular but empty, probably a source of almost constant embarrassment for those who continue to remain with him.
  • 2:  While Trump does seem to be learning a bit on the job. (Given the nature of this job how could he not?)  Witness his giving his permission, following earlier his having withheld that permission, to the young Afghanistani women attempting to accompany their science project to a robot competition here in the States. (Actually, Afghanistan was not one of the seven countries targeted in his original Muslim ban.)
  • 2:30: Paris of course is the site of the recent and probably most inclusive global climate agreement ever made. And one of the few actions taken by Trump during the now almost six months of his presidency was to withdraw his country, us, from the Paris Agreement. And here he is, a few months later in Paris, smiling and chatting with President Macron, and hinting at revising that decision. What do you think?
  • 3: I think he will eventually return us to taking part in the agreement. He probably didn’t have good reasons of his own for leaving. He was probably going along with the advice of his own in-house conspiracy theorists, Steve Miller and Stephen Bannon. And if he were to return us to the Paris climate agreement, wouldn’t this bring him back a bit into the real world where conspiracies and conspiracy theorists don’t hold sway. In any case to do the right thing, as in this instance, would make him admired, that which is his main goal, not the protection of the environment.
  • 3:30: Doing a Google search I read that the Paris Agreement of November 4, 2016 is by far the most inclusive global agreement on climate change to date. At the time 153 of the 197 parties attending the Convention ratified the agreement. Why did Trump decide to take the United States out? Well it was certainly not because of his greater knowledge of climate change, not of his greater knowledge of science, not his knowledge of all that the scientists have uncovered about climate and temperature. If there’s something that Trump knows even less about than history it has to be science, about which he is thoroughly, blatantly, and unblushingly ignorant.
  • 4 : While science for most thinking people is slowly but surely replacing religion as the prime mover in our lives Trump seems unaware that this is happening. He’s goes on saying the “God Bless” and other required phrases of all our public figures. The ‘God Bless” and other such are probably without meaning for him as well as for most of his listeners. While I’m constantly (and I trust I’m not alone in this) reading science publications on subjects such as the sixth extinction, artificial intelligence, gene editing, global warming etc. Trump seems unaware that these subjects matters are even out there, not to mention being written about and discussed by hundreds of thousands of us. Well they are and the kind of discoveries they represent are determining our lives in the future no less than the steam and internal combustion engines did in the past.
  • 4:30: And while this learning about our nature, who we are, the environment is going on, while science is more and more directing our lives, what is Donald Trump doing? Tweeting, not about anything important, about ideas, but about tv personalities, about his crowds at his rallies, about the election that made him our president.
  • 4:50: What do the politicians, now it seems the Republicans who are in the majority, do? That the progress of science is nothing short of stupefying doesn’t seem to interest them at all. If they even talk about evolution it’s to say it’s not true, “only a theory.” And now, and once again, they would take down the hard earned rights of women and minorities, and while following their own inclinations have us all wearing sidearms, even in the schools and hospitals, not to mention in the streets of our cities, as if their guns, and their God, were our only real protections.
  • 5:Trump never refers to science in his public communications, not on Tweeter, not at the Rallies, not in the interviews and speeches. He doesn’t seem to have heard what has always been for me a Copernican-like reordering of our thinking, the idea that we are all just one single species, homo sapiens, and that given how much we are as one, all alike, then only a global government will provide real peace and happiness, still the principal goal of everyone.
  • 5:45: And during all this where is Trump? Still building walls, still excluding people from profiting from living with others just like themselves. Still denying the underlying rightness of one world, that of the Republican presidential candidate of my childhood, Wendell Willkie, who said way back then, in the 1940s, that isolationism was no longer possible. Nobody was listening then. Will we listen now?
  • Trump is still most comfortable, as so many of our church, mosque, and temple attendees,  speaking the language of the Middle Ages, still giving priority of place to God and religion. And in Trump’s case not because he himself is a believer.  For in fact his own story seems to say he is not a believer, but rather just pretends to believe because he wants to get elected to a second term. It was the believers after all, the born agains, the evangelicals, who got him elected the first time.
  • 6: It’s a sad story, “so sad” as he’s always saying in his tweets when he is angry about something that has happened, something he doesn’t like that has been said about him or his friends and family. Trump’s story is sad because at 71 years of age he’s probably not going to change. He’s going to continue to remain ignorant of the past and of what we’re learning about the future. He’ll probably never understand why he could say over and over again with a straight face the mantra, “make America great again”. Obviously he doesn’t know the past of our country, that it was never great, and in fact that it may be greater today than it ever was, why? Because we have learned from our mistakes. Is Trump learning from his mistakes? Or is he too old?
  • 6:30: My hope for the Trump presidency is that he will learn if only a little, about how little he knows and how much he could learn if he were to just listen to knowledgeable people, no more to the crazies, the Alex Jones and the Sean Hannitys et al. And if he would put aside the Republican Party, a no-nothing party if there ever was one, full of elected representatives who are using their president not for the good of the country, but for their own selfish ends, usually that meaning for gaining an additional term in Washington where they have things pretty good. My hope, a forlorn one at that.

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