Category Archives: Politico

Hey you Democrats read this!!

To: All Democratic candidates

Dear Democrats, Here’s How to Guarantee Trump’s Reelection

You’ve got a historically unpopular opponent in the White House, but there are nearly a dozen ways you could still blow this.

by Charles Sykes, Politico Magazine, June 25, 2019

As you prepare for your first debates later this week, some unsolicited thoughts on what you could do to blow this election. With 20 of you clamoring for attention over two nights, the opportunities are abundant for you to kick off the primary season with an easy win for the president.

This might seem impossible. Donald Trump remains historically unpopular because the past three years have cemented the public’s image of the president as a deeply dishonest, erratic, narcissistic, Twitter-addicted bully. As a result, a stunning 57 percent of voters say they will definitely not vote to reelect him next year and he trails Democratic challengers in key states. Trump himself seems to have given up on swing voters, instead focusing on ginning up turnout among his hard-core base. But, as columnist Henry Olsen points out, this is unlikely to be successful because millions of “reluctant Trump voters” from 2016 have already shown a willingness to bail on him by voting for Democrats in last November’s midterms.

Even so, Trump could still win reelection, because he has one essential dynamic working in his favor: You.

Trump’s numbers are unmovable, but yours are not. He doesn’t need to win this thing; he needs for you to lose it. There are millions of swing voters who regard Trump as an abomination but might vote for him again if they think you are scarier, more extreme, dangerous, or just annoyingly out of touch.

And, you have some experience at this, don’t you?

Despite the favorable poll numbers and the triumphalism in your blue bubble, you’ve already made a solid start at guaranteeing another four years of Trumpism. Last week’s pile-on of Joe Biden was a good example of how you might eat your own over the next 16 months.

On Tuesday, Trump refused to apologize for calling for the death penalty for the Central Park 5, a group of black and Latino men who were later exonerated of charges that they had beaten and raped a woman in the 1980s. But rather than focusing on the latest Trumpian racial outrage, many of you spent the next few days hammering your front-runner for saying that civility required working with people like the late segregationist senators John Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

This week’s debates give you two more chances to form circular firing squads, turn winning issues into losers, and alienate swing voters.

Here are 11 pointers on how to guarantee that the most unpopular president in modern polling history wins reelection next year.

1. Hold firmly to the idea that Twitter is the beating heart of the real Democratic Party. 

Woke Twitter is convinced that anger over Trump means that voters want to move hard left. You should ignore polls showing that most Democrats, not to mention swing voters, are much more likely to be centrist.

2. Embrace the weird.

George Will carries around a small card listing all the things that you have said “that cause the American public to say: ‘These people are weird, they are not talking about things that I care about.’” A short list:

Terrorists in prison should be allowed to vote. End private health insurance. Pack the Supreme Court, abolish the Electoral College, ‘Green New Deal,’ … reparations for slavery.

“The country hears these individually,” says Will, “and they say I’m not for that.”

He’s going to need a bigger card.

3. Keep promising lots of free stuff and don’t sweat paying for it.

Trump and his fellow Republicans have run up massive deficits, but you can make them look like fiscal hawks by outbidding one another. People like free stuff, but they are less keen on having to pay for free stuff for other people, so talk as much as possible about having taxpayers pick up the tab for free college, day care and health care.

By one estimate, Elizabeth Warren’s various plans would cost about $3.6 trillion a year—or $36.5 trillion over 10 years. She insists she can pay for much of this with a vast new wealth tax that is politically impossible and constitutionally dubious, but, hey, at least she’s not Bernie.

4. Go ahead and abolish private health insurance. 

Health care should be a huge winner for Democrats in 2020, as it was in 2018. But you can turn that around by embracing a Bernie Sanders-like ‘Medicare for All’ plan.

Sure, the idea polls well and is wildly popular in MSNBC green rooms. But, unfortunately, when voters find out that it would double payroll taxes, cost trillions of dollars and lead to the abolition of private health insurance, support plummets—even among Democratic primary voters. In fact, when Democratic primary voters are told that Medicare for All would cost $3.2 trillion a year, support drops to just 38 percent. And that is among Democrats.

The numbers are even worse with the wider electorate. The Kaiser Tracking Poll found that Medicare for All’s net favorability drops to minus 44 percent “when people hear the argument that this would lead to delays in some people getting some medical tests and treatments.” Voters also turn sharply against the idea when they are told that it would threaten the current Medicare program, require big tax increases and eliminate private health insurance. Count on the GOP to spend hundreds of millions of dollars making those arguments.

5. Spend time talking about reparations. 

There may be no magic bullet to guarantee Trump’s reelection, but support for reparations for slavery may be awfully close. Even before Charlottesville, Trump’s record on race was horrific, and his winking appeasement of the white nationalist alt-right has been a running theme of Trumpism. But Democrats can neutralize Trump’s most glaring weaknesses by redoubling their support for reparations.

You have already made the hyperdivisive issue a big theme of the campaign and the Democratic House seems poised to pass legislationcalling for a study of the issue. Support for considering reparations has also quickly gained support in the 2020 Democratic primary, with contenders like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris expressing their interest in Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s plan. It’s a stark shift from previous presidential campaigns in which Barack Obama opposed reparations.

The problems here are obvious. No one really knows how reparations would work. The historic wrongs committed against African Americans are undoubtedly unique, but as the debate heats up, the questions will be: Who pays? Who is owed? How do we pick the winners and losers? And then there are other inevitable questions: Who else? The Irish? Jews? Native Americans? Asian Americans? Gays and lesbians?

What is clear, however, is that reparations are opposed by somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of white voters, so your support is a huge gift to Trump’s reelection campaign, which would like nothing more than to drive a deeper wedge between black and white Americans.

6. Trump thinks that immigration and the crisis at the border are winning issues for him. They aren’t. But you can turn that around.

Trump is actually underwater on the immigration issue. In a recent Fox News poll, 50 percent of Americans said Trump has gone too far, more than double the number of voters who think he hasn’t been aggressive enough. Family separations continue to shock the conscience of the nation and his threats to round up millions of illegals could backfire badly on him. Moreover, huge majorities favor giving legal status to the so-called Dreamers.

But you can flip the script: instead of talking about Dreamers, talk as much as possible about your support for sanctuary cities, double down on proposals to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and be as vague as possible about whether or not you really do support open borders.

7. Lots more focus on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

By no means allow voters to hear more about centrists who actually swung the House like Abigail Spanberger in Virginia, Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey or Dean Phillips in Minnesota. Trump wants nothing more than to make AOC the face of the Democratic Party. You can make it happen.

8. Socialism. 

Trump will accuse Democrats of being socialists who want to turn the United States into Venezuela. This is a tired, implausible trope. But you can make it work for him by actually calling yourself socialists and loudly booingyour fellow Democrats who suggest that “socialism is not the answer.”

9. Turn the abortion issue from a winner into a loser.

Polls suggest that there is wide opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade and Republicans have drastically overreached in states like Alabama where they have outlawed abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

But here again, Democrats can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by moving to a hard-line maximalist position. While the public leans pro-choice, its views are quite nuanced. So, instead of talking about abortion as “safe, legal, and rare,” you should demand the legalization of late-term abortions, focus on taxpayer funding and express as much contempt as possible for people with different views.

A model for this is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who compares being anti-abortion to being racist. When she was asked whether her pro-choice litmus test for judges threatened their independence, she said:

“I think there’s some issues that have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable. Imagine saying that it’s OK to appoint a judge who’s racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic. Telling or asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America, I don’t think that those are political issues anymore.”

You might recall how Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment played in 2016; this time around, Democrats can convey their contempt for much larger groups of people, which will be immensely helpful to Trump’s efforts to convince his base and swing voters that Democrats look down on them.

10. You can also turn a winner into a loser on the issue of guns.

There is a growing bipartisan constituency for reasonable restrictions on guns, including overwhelming support for expanded background checks. Trump’s GOP is especially vulnerable here because it remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association, which is stumbling under the weight of its own extremism and grift these days.

But you can easily turn this into a firewall for Trump by joining Senator Cory Booker’s call for vast expansions of the licensing of guns and banning certain kinds of weapons. Under Booker’s plan, “a person seeking to buy a gun would need to apply for a license in much the same way one applies for a passport.”

Let’s see how that plays in Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

11. As you try to get Americans more alarmed about Trump’s attacks on democratic norms, make sure you talk as much as possible about your support for court-packing.

Tinkering with the makeup and independence of the Supreme Court hasn’t been a winning issue since 1937, but, waving the bloody shirt of Merrick Garland as often as possible still feels satisfying, doesn’t it?

Given Trump’s deep unpopularity, losing to him won’t be easy. But don’t despair; remember, you managed to pull it off in 2016.

Two Fake News Pieces but Must Reads

May 1, 2019

James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr

Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

(Mr. Comey is the former F.B.I. director.)
NYTimes,  May 1, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-05-01 at 6.49.50 PM

CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

People have been asking me hard questions. What happened to the leaders in the Trump administration, especially the attorney general, Bill Barr, who I have said was due the benefit of the doubt?
How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?
How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?
How could Mr. Barr go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and downplay President Trump’s attempt to fire Mr. Mueller before he completed his work?

And how could Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, after the release of Mr. Mueller’s report that detailed Mr. Trump’s determined efforts to obstruct justice, give a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law? Or on resigning, thank a president who relentlessly attacked both him and the Department of Justice he led for “the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations”?
What happened to these people?
I don’t know for sure. People are complicated, so the answer is most likely complicated. But I have some idea from four months of working close to Mr. Trump and many more months of watching him shape others.
Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man.
But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.
It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him, his assertions about what “everyone thinks” and what is “obviously true” wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017, because he’s the president and he rarely stops talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent.

Speaking rapid-fire with no spot for others to jump into the conversation, Mr. Trump makes everyone a co-conspirator to his preferred set of facts, or delusions. I have felt it — this president building with his words a web of alternative reality and busily wrapping it around all of us in the room.
I must have agreed that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history because I didn’t challenge that. Everyone must agree that he has been treated very unfairly. The web building never stops.
From the private circle of assent, it moves to public displays of personal fealty at places like cabinet meetings. While the entire world is watching, you do what everyone else around the table does — you talk about how amazing the leader is and what an honor it is to be associated with him.
Sure, you notice that Mr. Mattis never actually praises the president, always speaking instead of the honor of representing the men and women of our military. But he’s a special case, right? Former Marine general and all. No way the rest of us could get away with that. So you praise, while the world watches, and the web gets tighter.
Next comes Mr. Trump attacking institutions and values you hold dear — things you have always said must be protected and which you criticized past leaders for not supporting strongly enough. Yet you are silent. Because, after all, what are you supposed to say? He’s the president of the United States.
You feel this happening. It bothers you, at least to some extent. But his outrageous conduct convinces you that you simply must stay, to preserve and protect the people and institutions and values you hold dear. Along with Republican members of Congress, you tell yourself you are too important for this nation to lose, especially now.
You can’t say this out loud — maybe not even to your family — but in a time of emergency, with the nation led by a deeply unethical person, this will be your contribution, your personal sacrifice for America. You are smarter than Donald Trump, and you are playing a long game for your country, so you can pull it off where lesser leaders have failed and gotten fired by tweet.

Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values.
And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul.
James Comey is the former F.B.I. director and author of “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

April 30, 2019

Andrew Restuccia: The sanctification of Donald Trump

“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this year.

saint DonaldNicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

For his closest advisers, President Donald Trump is a godsend — literally.
Trump’s campaign manager says the president was sent by God to save the country. The White House press secretary thinks God wanted Trump to be president. And the secretary of State believes it’s possible that Trump is on a holy mission to protect the Jewish people from the threat of Iran.

Forget the allegations of extramarital affairs, the nonstop Twitter insults and the efforts to close the southern border to migrants. Trump’s allies insist that his presidency is divinely inspired.
“There has never been and probably never will be a movement like this again,” Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, wrote Tuesday morning on Twitter.

“Only God could deliver such a savior to our nation, and only God could allow me to help. God bless America!”

Parscale’s tweet, the latest example of a Trump adviser casting the president as a savior, comes as the White House is preparing to host religious leaders on Wednesday and Thursday for the National Day of Prayer, an annual event in which people of all faiths are encouraged to pray for the nation.
The president, who doesn’t regularly attend church services, has emerged as an unlikely ally of the evangelical right, building close relationships with influential conservative religious figures. The White House screened an anti-abortion movie earlier this month, part of a broader strategy to energize evangelical voters ahead of the 2020 elections by amplifying false claims about late-term abortions.

But for observers of American history and advocates for the separation of church and state, the assertions that Trump’s presidency is endorsed by God are alarming.
“Christians should beware of a political use of the word ‘savior,’ which goes to the very heart of our faith. This particular statement is a gross expression of Christian nationalism, which I define as equating Christian and American identities,” said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Washington-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “People of faith know that God is much larger than any one candidate, party, election or country.”
Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian, said, “What these political lieutenants are saying to the faithful is that, ‘You have no choice; God has told you how you must vote.’
“Republican administrations historically have talked about individual rights, the autonomy of the individual, preventing government from dictating political choice,” he said. “By bringing the sacred into politics, they are actually imposing a view onto his followers and depriving them of a freedom of choice.”
And even some of Trump’s most vocal evangelical backers have some qualms with the notion that God wanted him to win the presidency.
“If you give God credit for a good president, then you’ve got to blame God when you have a bad one. So I don’t think that’s the way to look at it,” Jerry Falwell Jr. told POLITICO, adding later: “I don’t think you can say that God gives us good leaders. What do you do when you get a bad one, say, ‘God messed up’? That’s silly.”…

Falwell said he would be attend a National Day of Prayer dinner at the White House on Wednesday with the president and first lady Melania Trump.

Parscale, who did not respond to a text seeking comment, isn’t the first Trump ally to make the case that Trump is carrying out God’s will.
“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network News earlier this year. Sanders did not comment for this story.
And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested in March that Trump might have been sent to protect the Jewish people from Iran.
“Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network asked Pompeo during a visit to Israel.


What happens after we turn 80?

That interests me of course, what happens. Actually what is happening, for I’m already  84. I have called my blog, Dans Mes Quatrevingtans, that is, in my eighties.  In just six years will I call it, if alive, in my nineties? How about In my hundreds. I just read that the “oldest person”  in the world, Emma Morano, an Italian in her 110s, has just died at age 117.

I do want to write about these years at the end of life, perhaps more so than I wanted to write about any earlier period. If you asked me why is that I couldn’t say. For there’s nothing exciting about my life now, although in our favor my wife and I don’t live in a retirement community where things can be dull, but rather in an active, busy residential area, in South Tampa, where there’s  always a lot going on, new home construction, lots of it, and neighbors who could be us 40 or 50 years ago, mostly all young with young children (and a lot of dogs, and that’s where we see them mostly, walking their dogs).

And then right across the street from our front door is a city park, Friendship Center, our “Luco” (as we call it, from the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris), where there are always park visitors, mostly parents and their small children, talking, playing, on the swings and slides, and often celebrating using the park facilities for their get togethers with friends and their birthday parties with family members. The result is that we see a lot of the young people living in booming South Tampa but little or nothing of people our own age whom we might ask about what they’re doing in their eighties. But to hear from them to listen to their voices we would have to go South to Naples or Fort Myers.

So given our separation now in our old age from our peers, not to mention from the few friends remaining, also in their old age, but somewhere else usually far from Florida if they are still alive, our own eighties are to a large extent, unplanned and unwished for solitary femurexperiences. Although no surprise that the young couples we meet don’t want to hear about how well we’re sleeping or whether we’re back to walking again and even riding our bikes, following a bad fall and a broken femur, the latter while walking too fast and not looking, that which we shouldn’t have been doing at all at our age.

Then just earlier today while looking over my notes and collections of my thousands of readings from earlier years, which I’ve never wanted to let go, I stumbled on this article by Lewis H. Lapham from the New York Times Magazine of October 23, 2014, “After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.”

Lapham was himself 79 when he wrote these brief portraits of men and women in their 80s and 90s, old masters he calls them, all rich in the rewards of substantial and celebrated careers. “Why do they persist,” Lapham asked, ” the old masters, with an unceasing effort to discover or create something new? Why not rest on the laurels and the oars?”

People like Sophocles who in his early 90s wrote “Oedipus at Colonus”  filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, 84,  I. F. Stone who began the study of ancient Greek in his 70s, T. Boone Pickens, 86, chairman of BP Capital Management, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, Edward O. Wilson, naturalist and author, 85, Ginette Bedard, long-distance runner at 81, Tony Bennett, singer, 88, Christopher Plummer, actor, 84, Carl Reiner, actor, 92, Senator Dianne Feinstein, 81, and a number of others.

And then there’s Lapham himself who writes at 79 about his own writing career:

When I was 6, I delighted in the act of writing, at 12, in the expecting that by the time I turned 21, I would know how to make of it an art. The birthday came and went, and no dog showed up with the bird in its mouth. Before I was 30, I’d written seven drafts of a first novel mercifully unpublished; I consoled myself with the thought that by the time I was 40, I would know what I was doing. Another dream that didn’t come true, and so when I was 45, I began to explore the uses of the essay, the term from the French essayer (to try, to embark upon, to attempt), the form experimental and provisional, amenable to multiple shifts of perspective and tone, and therefore the best of instruments on which to practice the playing with words. The essay proceeds from the question “What do I know?” and doesn’t stay for an answer until the author finds out what he means to say by setting it up in a sentence, maybe catching it in the net of a metaphor.

On the way through my 50s I could see signs of progress, producing manuscripts that required only extensive rewriting, not the abandonment of the whole sorry mess of a dumb idea. Revisions pursued through six or seven drafts allowed for the chance to find the right word, to control the balance of a subordinate clause, to replace the adjective with a noun. I didn’t enlist the help of a computer because words so quickly dressed up in the costume of print can pretend to a meaning and weight they neither enjoy nor deserve. Writing with a pen on paper, I can feel the shape and sound of the words, and I’m better able to judge how and why one goes with another, and on approaching the age of 70 I toyed with the hope that success was maybe somewhere not far away in a manger or on the near side of a rainbow.

Now I am 79. I’ve written many hundreds of essays, 10 times that number of misbegotten drafts both early and late, and I begin to understand that failure is its own reward. It is in the effort to close the distance between the work imagined and the work achieved wherein it is to be found that the ceaseless labor is the freedom of play, that what’s at stake isn’t a reflection in the mirror of fame but the escape from the prison of the self.

The men and women Lapham writes about are all my age. But they’ve all been creators, have done something special, extraordinary with their lives. I haven’t. They make me aware of all I haven’t done in the same number of years. Also as Lapham points out, now in their 80s and 90s they haven’t stopped, painting, acting, singing, writing, running….

Now in my 80s this is where in my own small manner I join up with them. And while I have few successes to my name, if any, comparable artistic, intellectual, athletic or other life achievements, I do share very much with them a life when I’m writing during most of time left to me, and trying to write better, to better express my thoughts, and yes, as the philosopher says, trying to better know myself, and as everyone says, trying to go on  with my own lifelong education.

Lately I’ve been reading Ayn Rand, probably because of the followers she has even today among the Republican majorities, first in the Tea Party and now in the House of Representatives, led by a life-long Rand follower, Paul Ryan. I’m not a fervent follower of Ayn Rand myself. For me her views were not complete. Or rather the coin of human nature has two sides and she wrote only about the one of them, individualism but not about collectivism on the other side. They need each other, are both essential for our happiness, and she never seemed to understand that.

But now, in my 80s, I very much agree with many of her ideas, in particular with what she has Kira Argounova say to Comrade Taganov (really Ayn Rand herself) in what I think is Rand’s best book, We The Living.  (In the following text I have considerably edited/altered Rand’s text but I have not altered, I trust, its meaning. To read the original text go to Part1, Chapter Five of We The Living.) or see below Continue Reading.

Kira:  “Haven’t you ever wanted, Comrade, a thing for no reason save one: that you wanted it?…And then when you’ve found it, and when you think you’re right, you do that thing at any cost?

“You have your ideals, Comrade Taganov, and your Party, no matter how much it promises to accomplish, no matter what paradise it plans to bring to mankind… there’s always one false claim that you and your Party make, one that will turn your paradise into the most unspeakable hell. This is your claim that man must live for the state.

“And you ask, than this, what better purpose can man live for?  Don’t you know?”  Here Kira’s voice trembled suddenly in a passionate plea she could not hide. “Don’t you know that there are things in the very best of us, that must not be touched by any collective, by any number of millions? Things sacred because, and only because, one can say of them: ‘These are mine alone.’ Comrade Taganov,” she whispered, “how much you still have to learn!”

The individuals that Lewis Lapham is writing about in their 80s and 90s show us clearly there are things within each one of them that only they can know and touch. They have been living their long lives to pursue what’s deep within them, for that which is theirs by nature, theirs alone. What they have done has not been done for something that is outside of them. And to some degree aren’t their lives telling us that the very best of us live only for ourselves?

In regard to my own life I would say that to the extent that I have lived for others, for family, my students, for organizations where I have worked, I have necessarily neglected myself. This is probably how most of us live, and probably most of us see it as the way to live, no longer for the State perhaps, but for others. Balancing the individual and the collectivity, —the two sides of the coin. Not like the men and woman Lapham writes about, where there was probably little or no balance. To speak in the language of Ayn Rand we are probably not selfish enough. They were.

Continue reading What happens after we turn 80?

Taking stock, one more time.

Now in my 85th. year I ask myself what do I know?

In this sense, do I know anything at all that I could in one-to-one, apprentice type situations pass on to someone else? How to play the violin, for example, how to describe the night sky, how to repair an automobile engine, and, particularly relevant to my own life as being a few of my own personal failures, the Russian language, differential equations, and any number of other like fascinating subject matters, including my reading of just this morning, “Is there a gene for Racism?” (No)

Haven’t the greatest among us acquired the requisite skills and knowledge of which I speak? And haven’t they through their works passed on to us at least to some extent their skills and understandings? Reading them and getting to know and to the extent possible understand their work has been the real story of my life.

Just in modern times I think of Shakespeare, Galileo and Newton in the 17th. century, of James Watt, Leonhard Euler, and Adam Smith of the 18th., of Edison, Pasteur, and Darwin in the 19th, and in our own time of of Einstein, Mandela, and Richard Feynman (whose Physics Lectures I’ve been struggling with all my life).

I have somehow lived a life, my life, and as I say above, have learned little or nothing myself, of substance, of real significance, let alone anything at all that I could, with the confidence that I would be heard and understood, pass on to someone else.

And the great irony of this is that, if I have accomplished anything in my 84 years, it’s that I’ve helped to found a school, school being, of course, where skills and knowledge are passed on to others. I have to admit that on my part the skills and knowledge were not there. Not there to start with, although I must have pretended that they were, and  certainly not there now in my 85th year when I’m literally grasping at the straws of knowledge that are still out there, and to me still unknown, and that I still might make, with yet more struggle and hard work, my own.

Furthermore what then might I say now about my own role in an independent middle and high school that I founded and where my wife and I both worked many years? My role couldn’t have been my own ability and readiness to pass on to the young my own skills and knowledge which were minimal or non existent. What then could it have been?

To that question I think I may now know the answer. I seem to have, for most of my adult life, that which began in France the summer of 1951, while accomplishing little or nothing myself, I seem at least to have recognized what many others have accomplished, if only just a few of all those skills and knowledge that man has acquired during the tens of thousands of  years of the common history of us, of humanity, of homo sapiens.

The acquisition of course, is still going on, and it may very well be accelerating. So what was my role in the school I founded with my wife? It does seem to me to be that I have almost always understood what at best school, any school ought to be most about, this being to help the young to come to something like “my own view”  and recognition of what is the true achievement, the true greatness of man. That which is not there to begin with. Is it there, we would ask and hope, at the end of schooling?

“It’s all just smack talk, baby. All of it.” David Horsey,

I’ve called Trump a liar,

citing as evidence a few of his outrageous statements and tweets, Obama’s supposed wiretapping of Trump’s phones for example. But now I would revise the liar epithet changing it to smack-talking. Smack talking is Donald’s mother tongue. That’s what he has been speaking all along. Not too different from the pre-fight talk of Muhammad Ali who in the 1960s evidently released a popular full-length album consisting largely of smack or trash-talk “poetry.”

Muhammad Ali called his “poetry” collection, I Am the Greatest! And as I think about that now isn’t this exactly how Trump would come onto the stage at the presidential candidate debates, projecting himself as “the greatest?” In any case he would always give all importance, not to his ideas which I might charitably say he doesn’t have, but to his great numbers in the polls, the very sort of smack-talk he would do later during and after the presidential election, as if by his superior numbers (for the most part probably made up by himself of whole cloth) he was putting down his opponents, much as Muhammad Ali would put down his opponent by his “I’m the Greatest” trash talk prior to the fight. Of course the big difference between the two is that Muhammad was the greatest, heavyweight boxer anyway.

It was an article in the Los Angeles Times, by David Horsey (yes, that’s right, “Horsey”) entitled, Smack-talking Trump tweets his way toward legal trouble, that first got me thinking about all this. Who was the first to make the connection between Trump’s tweets and trash-talk? I didn’t and I probably should have. And it probably wasn’t Horsey no matter how well he now writes about the subject. The tweets were more smacking than lying although I didn’t see it at first.

In any case I was never comfortable with the liar moniker on Trump. Smack-talk is better. While smack-talk is all lies these lies are somehow less offensive than real lies, and we see Trump as an adept in locker room trash talk rather than a full member of any circle of conspiracy theorists including the real liars out there, and helas many of whom are within Trump’s inner circle of strategic advisors, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, the Infowars guy, Alex Jones, Sean Hannity,  Rush Limbaugh and their ilk, these people, and there are tens of thousands of them, being much more than our child-president, the greatest threat to our liberal democracy.

Trump was probably never up to the level of being a real, authentic liar. For me he doesn’t come across as an evil person, rather hugely ignorant, full of himself, impatient with others and a playground bully. He probably never saw himself, still probably doesn’t see himself, as telling lies so much as smacking down others who are his competition on the playground, be it real estate where for many years he was smacking together deals, and now in our national politics where he is at least trying to do the same thing, although so far with little success. Also I don’t think Trump ever hated Hillary, or President Obama, but saw himself as being obliged to talk smack to both of them, and thereby smack both of them down that they be no threat to him. And in these two instances, at least, he does seem to have eliminated the competition.

Here’s the Horsey article (March 13, 2017) I refer to without the author’s illustrations. For that I’d encourage you to follow the link.

Our put-upon president has spent a lifetime talking smack, like a street kid in a pickup basketball game in Queens. Insults and demeaning remarks are just part of the game and part of his persona. When he called Mexicans “rapists” and said “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz’s father helped kill JFK, it was all in fun, right? Who could fail to see what was really in his heart (the biggest heart anyone has ever had, by the way)?

David Horsey

This is a man who built his business on boasts. Everything he did was “big league,” “huge,” “tremendous.” He never expected anyone to fact-check his endless claims that whatever he did was the best and biggest in the history of the world (or to sue him for fraud when they discovered their Trump University degree was worthless). Who knew some smarty-pants would count how many people really showed up for his inauguration, rather than taking his word for it that it was the largest crowd in history?

Poor Donald. He has now blustered his way into a job where his every comment is analyzed and picked apart as if the wrong phrase might start a war or set off an economic panic. What is he supposed to do, change his ways at age 70 just because he is president of the United States?

Apparently, the answer is yes, because not only has he gotten himself in trouble for what he says, but for the things he says that he subsequently tries to edit. The chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, have sent a letter to the White House warning the president that, every time he deletes or alters a tweet, he may be violating the Presidential Records Act. Pretty much everything a president says in public is, by law, part of the official record, even a poorly spelled, ill-conceived tweet dashed off in the wee hours of the morning.

The day Trump discovered Twitter must have been better than his wedding day (or days). Wives come and go, but tweets are endless. Finally, he had a way to share every malign observation and crackpot rumor that lodged between his ears — not just with whoever happened to be in the room, but with the whole adoring world. Obviously, it has become addicting. Asking him to stop would be like asking Winnie the Pooh to forgo honey, like asking Elvis never to move his hips, like asking a nymphomaniac to become a nun. Like a meth addict looking for the next rush, Trump cannot resist tweeting out boasts and smack talk. It seems not to matter to him that he is making trouble for himself and his administration.

Just days after giving a speech before Congress in which he inspired a tremulous hope that he might have the capacity to do more than be a caricature of the worst president imaginable, Trump sent off another early-morning tweet. This one accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of committing a major felony by wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

FBI Director James Comey quickly urged the White House to make clear that the accusation lacked any basis in fact. Instead, Trump’s minions doubled down and demanded that Congress investigate. Republicans rolled their eyes. Giddy Democrats jumped at the invitation. They knew an investigation offered two possibilities: either they would quickly expose the truth that Trump had mindlessly latched on to a fallacious rant by a right-wing talk radio performer, or they would find that there really was a wiretap — one authorized by law to follow connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian hackers who subverted the U.S. election. For Democrats, it would be a win, one way or another.

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe took to Twitter to argue that Trump’s accusation against Obama was “an impeachable felony in reckless disregard of truth.” Nevertheless, Trump did not retract anything, though insider reports said the president was privately admitting he had taken things a step too far this time.

Sad, isn’t it? How could one impetuous tweet cause so much trouble after he had gotten away with so many others? The president must feel so misunderstood, so beset by unpoetic literalists. After all, Trump has never been especially concerned with connecting the things he says to actual facts or deeply held beliefs. It’s all just smack talk, baby. All of it.

Blog Notes, February 12, 2017

What are the real issues facing our country?

They’re not, I believe, the subject matter of the President’s tweets. They’re not the porous Mexican border to the South. For bad people and drugs are never stopped by border walls. Nor are they the whereabouts of the Islamic terrorists. For how many Americans have ever encountered a member of ISIS, let alone been blown up by one?

These and other non issues that the President would address, first at the loud and raucous rallies during the campaign and now daily in his tweets are red herrings that function to keep his followers if not the whole country away from any real path to any real solution to any real problem.

Does the President even realize just how far from the real needs of the country are his own pieces of fake news, the wall, ISIS, the millions of illegal immigrants? Probably not. In any case his concerns probably stem from no research of his own, which he apparently never does, but come from the same small clique of advisors who got him elected in the first place, from the two Stevens, Bannon and Miller, from the  two former United States Senators, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, along with their choral director, Kellyanne Conway, and  principal soloist Sean Spicer..

This is not a President who reads. I take the following excerpts from Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article, Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz , Tells All, of July 25 of last year.  “The Art of the Deal,” says Meyer, made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth and [now] regrets it.
Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance…. That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites….I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.”   During the eighteen months that Schwartz observed Trump,  he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.

During 18 months he never saw Trump with a book! Is it safe to assume that this guy does little if any independent reading of his own and in his ignorance may even believe that the porous wall on our Southern border and ISIS together are the biggest threats we face. And he may even believe what he’s always repeating that his first job to assure the nation’s security (by the extreme vetting of refugees??!!).

What terrible things haven’t been done, even in our land of the free and the brave, in the name of national security? Right now, daily, we read how our agents, not my agents, Trump’s and Miller’s and Bannon’s agents? are separating long term illegal residents, who are not criminals, from their own children because they are a threat to our national security?

Trump may be a bit closer to a real problem when he talks about job losses, but he’s completely wrong about their causes and solutions. In fact jobs never stay in one place for long, other than those, say, of being a mother or father. Maybe it was at one time that one could spend a lifetime at the same job, but not any more.

Jobs are always changing and the changes, what some call job losses, result because  we are always finding more profitable ways to do things. Would Trump really want us to go back to burning coal, thereby giving some permanency to miners working under ground in the West Virginia and Kentucky hill country, that life itself being for the miners a kind of living death? Also, would Trump really want to return living people to the factory assembly lines in order to replace the non living robots that had earlier replaced them?

When Trump talks about bringing things back to the way they were, or, as he sees it, making things great again, does he even know what he means by that? When were things ever great, and what would they look like if they were ever great? Does anyone know?

Hasn’t happened. Nor could we know if it did happen. The bottom line is that things are probably greater now than they ever were. Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Estate and castle must know this. If nothing else there’s more food on the table, his table for sure and the tables of most of us, enough to feed more people than there ever were.

And furthermore how about the fact that the present unemployment rate of 4.7% is the lowest since the last years of the presidency of George W Bush, and this in spite of the fact that there was nothing done during the eight years of the presidency of Barack Obama to either close our Southern border with Mexico or to prevent our manufacturing plants and jobs from being transferred overseas? Here again Trump seems to completely ignore the facts.

So what’s left to our President in the way of real issues and problems? Is there anything there of substance? Perhaps in regard to health care (or education) But about both of these he has little  of substance to say, other than that Obama Care has been a disaster (as has public school education, as has NAFTA, as has the Iran Nuclear Deal, as has….) He has few ideas of his own about what to do to correct the disasters, be it Obama Care, NAFTA or the Iran Nuclear Deal, or even, as in one of his tweets, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term at Celebrity Apprentice.

China, Russia, Iran, do they represent big trouble needing big attention? In regard to all three no one knows what’s on Trump’s mind, if anything much, other than perhaps lately and little by little coming around to the thinking of his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

There have been other things, problems, trivia? that have got his attention. There was the project to send Hillary to prison but Trump abandoned that effort soon after being elected. (And for this he may have lost a good many of the thousands, if not millions of followers who at his rallies would shout following his lead, “lock her up.”)

Then there are nearly daily in his tweets, what he describes as the “fake news stories,” mostly those made up by the Trump haters, to put him down, and eventually perhaps to bring him down, the Times and the Post being most often the creators of these fake stories, attacking him and his family, as the other day when the Times and the Post handled the fake story of Nordstrom’s dropping Ivanka’s “stuff” from their shelves and displays.

Trump’s multiple daily tweets make it clear what’s important to him. If you read them you will quickly see that the most important thing for Trump is winning, is being always right, is being recognized as being always right. And for him to always be right others have to be wrong. His now hundreds, thousands of tweets are either putting someone (John Lewis, Judge Robart) or something (the NYTimes) down, or putting himself and his family, his followers, the Trump name and the Trump businesses up. There’s nothing in between.

I will need to post something just on Trump’s tweets. For tweets are his most favored manner to communicate with us, with the people. If we would know what he thinks we have to read his tweets. Here’s the link. Otherwise he doesn’t write himself. And as we’ve seen he doesn’t read. And when he speaks it’s most unoriginal, in clichés.

Let me conclude this post with a real issue that confronts us, that confronts our country. I take the chart below from an op ed writer at the Times, Thomas Edsall, who is in just about every respect the opposite of Donald Trump. He reads a lot. He thinks about what he reads, and he learns from his reading as he should, and what he learns he shares with us. His columns usually appear a few times, if not once a week, a month and most often he writes about American politics, inequality, campaign strategy and demographics.

His latest column, Integration Works. Can It Survive the Trump Era?, contains the chart that I post below:


This chart. by itself shows all too clearly why the country is struggling, and its not the Wall nor ISIS that should disturb us. It’s the fact that in this chart the math SAT scores are segregating our highschool seniors by race as much or more than did Jim Crow in the first half of the 20th. century.

In many respects we overcame the unequal world of Jim Crow. We haven’t yet begun to face up to the, in some respects, even more unequal world of the math SATS. (Edsall didn’t give us the results of the literature SATS, but they too were probably segregated by race.) Knowledgeable people have been aware of this situation, in my own experience, forever. Knowledgeable people have never ceased, almost from the first day some 200 years ago, to reform our schools, to make them places where everyone could be successful, but the reformers have never succeeded.

In the language of Trump our country has never been great in respect to utilizing the talents of all our citizens. Somewhere around half of our people have always been left out, have not had the fulfilling lives that a more thoughtful, more sensible, and more sensitive organization of both school (rather than school, places of learning) and society could have provided.

Edsall’s chart shows just how greatly not so much that we have failed, but that we have allowed what are at the moment anyway “natural” differences to get all the attention. And we have neglected, have done little or nothing to foster and develop the more natural ways that young people are all alike if not the same.

We need a world where SATS are not as now the determining factor in a young person’s future. And this, of course, would require much more than a reorganization, one more reform of our schools. We really need to walk away from it all and begin again. (Something that maybe a Trump like person could have done if he himself hadn’t had so many character defects.)

Imagine a learning place or situation when kids, all kids could be a part of whatever was going on, instead of as now when so many, through no fault of their own, are being left out of much of what is going on.

Two Visions, One America?

January 20. 1993

clinton_02My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring, a spring reborn in the world’s oldest democracy that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America. When our Founders boldly declared America’s independence to the world and our purposes to the Almighty, they knew that America, to endure, would have to change; not change for change’s sake but change to preserve America’s ideals: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Though we marched to the music of our time, our mission is timeless. Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be an American.
On behalf of our Nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America. And I thank the millions of men and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over depression, fascism, and communism.
Today, a generation raised in the shadows of the cold war assumes new responsibilities in a world warmed by the sunshine of freedom but threatened still by ancient hatreds and new plagues. Raised in unrivaled prosperity, we inherit an economy that is still the world’s strongest but is weakened by business failures, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and deep divisions among our own people.
When George Washington first took the oath I have just sworn to uphold, news traveled slowly across the land by horseback and across the ocean by boat. Now, the sights and sounds of this ceremony are broadcast instantaneously to billions around the world. Communications and commerce are global. Investment is mobile. Technology is almost magical. And ambition for a better life is now universal.
We earn our livelihood in America today in peaceful competition with people all across the Earth. Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world. And the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy. This new world has already enriched the lives of millions of Americans who are able to compete and win in it.

But when most people are working harder for less; when others cannot work at all; when the cost of health care devastates families and threatens to bankrupt our enterprises, great and small; when the fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead, we have not made change our friend.
We know we have to face hard truths and take strong steps, but we have not done so; instead, we have drifted.

And that drifting has eroded our resources, fractured our economy, and shaken our confidence. Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us. From our Revolution to the Civil War, to the Great Depression, to the civil rights movement, our people have always mustered the determination to construct from these crises the pillars of our history. Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our Nation, we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow Americans, this is our time. Let us embrace it.
Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. And so today we pledge an end to the era of deadlock and drift, and a new season of American renewal has begun.
To renew America, we must be bold. We must do what no generation has had to do before. We must invest more in our own people, in their jobs, and in their future, and at the same time cut our massive debt. And we must do so in a world in which we must compete for every opportunity. It will not be easy. It will require sacrifice, but it can be done and done fairly, not choosing sacrifice for its own sake but for our own sake. We must provide for our Nation the way a family provides for its children.
Our Founders saw themselves in the light of posterity. We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child’s eyes wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world to come: the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all. It is time to break the bad habit of expecting something for nothing from our Government or from each other. Let us all take more responsibility not only for ourselves and our families but for our communities and our country.
To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. This beautiful Capital, like every capital since the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way. Americans deserve better. And in this city today there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of you here: Let us resolve to reform our politics so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our Government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called bold, persistent experimentation, a Government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays.

Let us give this Capital back to the people to whom it belongs.

To renew America, we must meet challenges abroad as well as at home. There is no longer a clear division between what is foreign and what is domestic. The world economy, the world environment, the world AIDS crisis, the world arms race: they affect us all. Today, as an older order passes, the new world is more free but less stable. Communism’s collapse has called forth old animosities and new dangers. Clearly, America must continue to lead the world we did so much to make.
While America rebuilds at home, we will not shrink from the challenges nor fail to seize the opportunities of this new world. Together with our friends and allies, we will work to shape change, lest it engulf us. When our vital interests are challenged or the will and conscience of the international community is defied, we will act, with peaceful diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary. The brave Americans serving our Nation today in the Persian Gulf, in Somalia, and wherever else they stand are testament to our resolve. But our greatest strength is the power of our ideas, which are still new in many lands. Across the world we see them embraced, and we rejoice. Our hopes, our hearts, our hands are with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom. Their cause is America’s cause.
The American people have summoned the change we celebrate today. You have raised your voices in an unmistakable chorus. You have cast your votes in historic numbers. And you have changed the face of Congress, the Presidency, and the political process itself. Yes, you, my fellow Americans, have forced the spring. Now we must do the work the season demands. To that work I now turn with all the authority of my office. I ask the Congress to join with me. But no President, no Congress, no Government can undertake this mission alone.
My fellow Americans, you, too, must play your part in our renewal. I challenge a new generation of young Americans to a season of service: to act on your idealism by helping troubled children, keeping company with those in need, reconnecting our torn communities. There is so much to be done; enough, indeed, for millions of others who are still young in spirit to give of themselves in service, too. In serving, we recognize a simple but powerful truth: We need each other, and we must care for one another.
Today we do more than celebrate America. We rededicate ourselves to the very idea of America, an idea born in revolution and renewed through two centuries of challenge; an idea tempered by the knowledge that, but for fate, we, the fortunate, and the unfortunate might have been each other; an idea ennobled by the faith that our Nation can summon from its myriad diversity the deepest measure of unity; an idea infused with the conviction that America’s long, heroic journey must go forever upward.

And so, my fellow Americans, as we stand at the edge of the 21st century, let us begin anew with energy and hope, with faith and discipline. And let us work until our work is done. The Scripture says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” From this joyful mountaintop of celebration we hear a call to service in the valley. We have heard the trumpets. We have changed the guard. And now, each in our own way and with God’s help, we must answer the call. Thank you, and God bless you all.

January 20, 2017

tr-2-fistsChief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama,
fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.
We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another —

but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all change— starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now.
You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation— and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.
But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.
I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work — rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones — and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
There should be no fear — we are protected, and we will always be protected.
We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.
In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action — constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.
It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:
You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together, We will make America strong again.
We will make wealthy again.
We will make America proud again.
We will make America safe again.
And yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

While Rex Tillerson and Jeff Sessions confront the Senators…

Charles Beard tells us that “the world is largely ruled by ideas, true and false.”

What did he mean by this? Unfortunately we can’t ask him. He died nearly 60 years ago, in 1948. He may have said somewhere to someone what he meant by that, and I may still find the answer by googling his words on the Internet, but haven’t yet done so.

At the time of this historian’s conclusion that the world was ruled by ideas I was alive and in high school, and if there were ideas there about me I wasn’t aware of them. I was going out on my very first date, at the time,  with an upperclassman and learning to neck. I was also playing football and learning to block and tackle, and my world didn’t go much beyond that sort of thing. In the neighborhood where we lived I would walk to school, and out of school play hard with my friends, until I was older and played football and lacrosse on the school playing fields. In the evenings I was back home trying to stay awake doing homework. What “ruled” my world then? My parents, certainly, my friends, and playing ball, but not my ideas about anything. Did I even have any at the time?

I must have known at the time that we had the bomb. Googling it I see that on August 6, 1945, an American B-29 dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. “The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.”

Four years later in August of 1949 Russia, then the  USSR, exploded its own very first nuclear device. I’ve lived my life, now dansmesquatrevingtans, almost an entire lifetime, waiting as they say for the other shoe to drop. In this case the second shoe when it does drop might be enough to do us all in.

Might Charles Beard have lived a few more years, and experienced the atomic age, would he have said that the world is ruled by ideas? Or by force of arms?  But whatever it was Hiroshima was not an idea. It was real of course, a real nightmare.

Hiroshima has happened to hundreds of thousands of real people, much like us. So would Beard then have said that the world is ruled by the people with the most destructive weapons?

In any case the Pax Americana, that followed, the American century (not yet over), was based upon our having the bomb. BTW, that may be why so many countries have tried, some successfully, most not, to have the bomb. That’s what’s today probably driving the Ayatollahs in Iran. In that regard there are those who say, give them the bomb. There are others who say send it to them in a B-29 bomber, send it to the whole Middle East.

But there is something immediately compelling about Beard’s statement, that which probably originally  attracted me, and pushed me to immediately post it on my blogsite. And although I haven’t yet persuaded myself or anyone else that ideas do rule the world, it’s a work in progress.  I’ll need to persuade you the reader that ideas do and can rule the world. I didn’t know this as a child. Do I know it now as a man?

An interesting question, what ideas may be ruling our world. Our new president doesn’t seem to have any ideas at all, or any you’d want to sign on to. “Make America Great Again”???

Today I listened to Donald Trump’s first press conference. Trump seemed no longer the nonsense spouting idiot he was during the campaign. Nonsense spouting still, but much less, and not at all an idiot. Being elected president will change even the Donald for the better.

But our new guy in Washington continues to bother me. And although I still don’t like him he is not without qualities (that which I couldn’t say of his predecessor, George Bush). He’s still telling untruths, still in a world of untruth, much of his own making.

If he bothers me less today he still doesn’t make me feel good about myself, or the country.  If he bothers me less it’s probably because he’s so close to being the country’s president. That alone is enough to make even Donald Trump interesting. Just nine days from now this guy, still very much a pompous ass, still seeming to believe his own nonsense about the great things he and his appointees are going to do for the country, will be sitting in the Oval Office.

Why I still don’t like him is probably and most of all because he seems unable to laugh at himself. Even as an elected president one ought not to take oneself too seriously. I know he can’t take a joke although I haven’t actually experienced this because his wife and children and more and more the coteries of courtiers always surrounding him probably never risk a joke in his presence.

Does our new president even have a sense of humor, that which in my own personal opinion, even more than the faculty of reason, makes a man a man? I don’t know, but my very preliminary assessment is that he doesn’t. Does that mean that he’s not really a man?…


Seeing things at lunch

The other day my wife and I were outspider1side seated at our back terrace for lunch when she asked me if I saw the araignée. I looked and didn’t see it. I couldn’t imagine how she could look at something that small and see it up there among the branches of the oak tree. I only saw the tree and above it the sky and remained puzzled until she asked me for my iPhone and took a picture of her spider, and only then did I see it.


Yes, that’s right all spiders have eight legs.

My wife, Josée, reminds me, “There is only One Way to Live, the Trump Way”

From the Huffington Post of December 31

Trump Billboard in Mumbai


Outside of cropping the picture above and possibly tweaking the contrast, photographer Paul Needham assured The Huffington Post that the image is neither doctored nor edited in any way.

Needham is the co-founder of SimpaNetworks, a company that helps farmers and small shops in rural India install and use solar power systems. He said he stumbled across the scene while driving through Mumbai to meet with some investors.

He said he was inspired to take the photo because of the jarring juxtaposition of the Trump billboard and the poverty and homelessness down below, and that the text on the billboard struck him as particularly naive and offensive.

“I saw Trump towering over the homeless, the children sleeping on cardboard on the street, and I was reminded of the ways in which our [an] economic system can be painfully exclusive and unfair.”   Paul Needham