Category Archives: Trump 2016

Books that count

I just polished off my seventh book of the year and entered it on my reading list online. I set Destiny of the Republic aside a couple times to read books on China to Claudia and fuss with school board and family but whenever I picked it up it read fast and furious.

I seem likely to set a new second place – ten books in a year – since I began recording my serious reading. That first year 1979, was in the aftermath of losing a teaching job, losing my second race for the legislature and my discovery that I didn’t have it in me to sell life insurance. Instead, I decided to try once again to teach history and intended to do so by reading it. I began substitute teaching and the Assistant Superintendent made it a point to tell me that those subs who brought books to read to our substitute jobs weren’t serious about our work. It was one more example of someone failing to read my mind.

Vanity compels me to explain what I treat as a “serious book” and how such books get on my list. I’ve read a lot of children’s books but I don’t include them on my list. For instance, I’ve read all seven of the Harry Potter Books to Claudia and, with the exception of the final book, read them to her twice. They are perfectly serious books but they don’t count. I will count adult novels but I haven’t read a lot of them. Non fiction is my thing and I only include books that I’ve read cover to cover. I will leave an unread book like “Mr. Speaker” unfinished for years before adding them to the list. That one finally made this year.

I have two other partially completed histories I suspect I will finish this year. American Lion is about Andrew Jackson and I have another book on Presidents Monroe and Madison before they achieved the nation’s highest office. As with the Old Testament, which I finished a few months ago, much of this reading preceded this year. I also have two other political books waiting in the wing and one on World War I, but I may wait to dig into them until I get back from China on August 3rd. I’ve got to start a campaign for reelection and I’ve got half a dozen books on China that I’m reading to Claudia. Some of them may never make my list of completed books because I’m not that attached to the thought of reading them cover to cover. I’m 80 pages into a fat little general history of China but I suspect I’ll abandon it long before the Cultural Revolution because I’m already pretty familiar with that period. Ditto, the book Idiot’s Guide to Chinese. Sampling that will be sufficient and I hate reminding myself that I’m a school board member. Which reminds me…….

One of my recently retired idiot colleagues has recently been telling folks that our current school board is behaving badly and I have little doubt that she’s talking about me. With advertising like that I’ll have to hustle to win re-election.

I do aspire to more, which leaves me with one indelible memory from the book I just finished tonight. James Garfield was one of the most decent human beings ever to sit in the White House. He was so virtuous that his lingering two-month long death drove the most corrupt Vice President we ever elected, Chester A. Arthur, to reform himself and institute the far reaching reform of Civil Service which put an end to a crass system of political spoils in the national government.

The only similar example I can think of was LBJ’s passage of Civil Right’s legislation in the wake of John Kennedy’s assassination. Lucky for Chester there was no war being waged simultaneously. As one of his corrupt old political cronies explained it: “He ain’t ‘Chet Arthur’ any more. He’s the President.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say the same of Donald Trump?

Another postmortem of the Trump victory

I took an hour to listen to this story about a Wisconsin researcher who got to know the folks in rural Wisconsin and what motivated them. I’d recommend that Democrats listen to it. They will have four years to let its significance sink in before the next presidential election.

Or they might make use of this new Facebook page to begin bridging the gulf that social media seems to have created between the two political parties that in my youth were not much further apart than the opposite sides of a coin.

An ounce of prevention

I’m just shy of half way through Destiny of the Republic. Garfield has had one bit of luck before derangement wins the day. His self-appointed tormentor Senator Conkling, a preening bully of a man, has just overplayed his hand right out of the United States Senate. What should be the path to well deserved reform and fame for the President will soon give way to what I found when I moved to North Mankato in 1963. Oblivion.

That fall I began three ignominious years at Garfield Junior High. No one called it that. It was always “North Mankato Junior High” the martyred President having been all but forgotten in the intervening 84 years. Within three months of my enrollment a fourth President would be assassinated.

Destiny has done a wonderful job of describing Garfield’s addled assassin Charles Guiteau. The Congress had made Garfield all the new President all the more vulnerable by cutting the Secret Service’s budget by half shortly before Garfield took office. Their job wasn’t to protect the President anyway back then. They were set up to go after counterfeiters.

Lincoln had been murdered fifteen years before. William McKinley would be murdered twenty years later and Teddy Roosevelt would be saved the same fate when a fat little speech in his breast pocket stopped a bullet not long afterwards. It was a bad run of luck for Republican Presidents.

I mentioned the importance of perspective in the last post. I am annoyed by the vast unexpected sums that are being required to protect our new President and his globe hopping family. There has been a whole raft of news stories on that subject. I have little choice but to support what it takes to keep our President safe. I’m pinning my hopes on impeachment but until then I am relying on Seth Meyers.

Dish washing brings second thoughts on the funny thing

There is one other possibility regarding Trump’s ultimatum to House Republicans that I ruled out a little too quickly. I thought that the Tea Partier’s testosterone wouldn’t let the ersatz Republican President, Donald Trump, steam roll them. As I washed dishes some suds cleared from my head. The tea partiers may cave. Thumbing their nose at Trump may do them more damage than going along with him…..with their voters.

Of course, crippling health care would distress a lot of voters and drive them to the Democrats in 2018. I just hope Ruth Bader Ginsburg can hang in there until 2020.

The funniest damned thing I’ve heard in a long time

Just a quick post before I head down and wash dishes.

I was driving home from Denfeld and the “speech concert” ten minutes ago when I heard that Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to Republicans. Either they pass the health care plan that he was sure he had gotten the Freedom Caucus to go along with or he was done messing with health care and would let Obamacare live on.

I guffawed for thirty seconds. It was so brilliant that if any President who spoke out of one side of his/her mouth had said it I probably wouldn’t have been surprised. For eight years the Republicans made this their number one cause and then proceeded to sit on their skanky thumbs rather than come up with an alternative.

Coming up with an alternative was never in the program and not possible. One faction never progressed beyond the 1960’s distaste for “socialized medicine” and would have been happy to board a time machine heading back in time. Another faction simply wanted to strip poor people of health care that cost rich taxpayers too much money. The third faction was the cowering moderates who have given up challenging the new Republican orthodoxies lest they be primaried out of their seats for being RINO’s. The first two groups were essentially living in a magical world. Donald Trump was the fourth faction. Fox News had convinced his voters that Obamacare was making their lives miserable and they elected Trump to make it better. The last couple of months have convinced his voters that the Republicans were only going to make life worse for them. Donald Trump’s big “nevermind” only serves to assure his voters that he’s not going to let the Republicans screw them over.

What Trump has done is point an accusing finger at Congressional Republicans for being dunces. Democrats can breath a sigh of relief and turn to the other reprehensible plans that Trump has pushed like his wall, immigration and Putin-gate.

Trump is the winner on this but so is Obama and so is the Democratic Party – unless the GOP gets its act together and hammers out a sensible alternative. I’d place my bets against that. I don’t think the crazies in the GOP from the Koch Brothers to the Tea Partiers can find common ground. I have to give Presidential Donald Trump a big thumb’s up for this. Don’t worry. The memory of this is sure to fade pretty quickly.

The Good Donald Trump

I had every intention of watching President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress last evening. Instead, I got Trumped by the School Board. We altered our February schedule so we could meet on the last Tuesday of February rather than the third Tuesday. And, as I’ve explained, our new more amicable Board pulled a Trump on me without warning. They rehired our oily, Machiavellian attorney, Kevin Rupp, whose practice has pioneered the removal of school board members who ask too many questions and bother their Superintendents.

So, I’m only catching up on Trump’s speech that today’s commentators are explaining was a traditional stick-to-the-teleprompter affair. (I gave a couple of those myself last night sans teleprompter.) But I haven’t changed my mind about our new President or the staff he has surrounded himself with – a staff that I think Attorney Rupp would find very agreeable.

An an old highschool acquaintance of mine and I recently “friended” each other on Facebook. Sue sent me a post this morning from the Guardian Newspaper that helps cement my contempt for our new “Common letcher and Chief.” Coincidentally, it involves an author whose book I plan to read at Lakewood Elementary next week. Its author is Australian, Mem Fox.

Last year when I read at Lakewood they asked me to read a book on forestry and suggested Dr. Seuss’s the Lorax. This year they are talking about recipes and asked if I had anything that might fit that topic for which I could bring a recipe for the students. I thought of Pavlova.

I love visiting book stores in other nations to see what local authors are writing for children. In England decades ago I discovered the charming book Five Minutes Peace. Four years ago in Australia I discovered Mem Fox among others.

My old classmate, Sue, sent me this disspiriting story about Mem’s latest trip to America and the moment she “loathed” America.

Thank you Mr. President. You have more than made up for the awful Nobel Peace Prize that those ditzy Norwegians gave President Barack Obama when he was beginning his administration.

On the day that President Trump will give his first speech to Congress…

… I was fixing old posts. One of them was this short post from JANUARY 23, 2012. Richard Nixon’s simple explanation for why America should have two political parties reaching for the center instead of the periphery demonstrates the wisdom he had and that he ignored in order to become President in 1968.

Today the Bernie Sander’s diehards are hoping to do to the Democratic Party what the Tea Party did to the Republican Party. Break it.

From that post:

In 1959, Vice-President Nixon, speaking to members of California’s Commonwealth Club, was asked if he’d like to see the parties undergo an ideological realignment, the sort that has since taken place, and he replied, “I think it would be a great tragedy . . . if we had our two major political parties divide on what we would call a conservative-liberal line.” He continued, “I think one of the attributes of our political system has been that we have avoided generally violent swings in Administrations from one extreme to the other. And the reason we have avoided that is that in both parties there has been room for a broad spectrum of opinion.” Therefore, “when your Administrations come to power, they will represent the whole people rather than just one segment of the people.”

Fake “Real News”

The Trumpians sent me an email with a link to this website promising non fake news:

The email said the Trumpians would unleash “unfettered capitalism.” Yipee! I can’t wait for the next Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire.

Just what I need. Another FOX News with its “Fair and Balanced” reporting. “Fair” as in the condition of a book or a collector’s coin = Excellent, Good or Fair and balanced in the sense of journalists trumpeting “conservative Republican” values balanced against journalists attempting to show some objectivity.

“Big Trump” or “Little Trump?”

My Buddy sent me this thoughtful appraisal of how the stock market in the US is taking Donald Trump in stride. The Atlantic column takes no stand on Trump. It just lays out the possibilities for Trump either cratering our economy or being irrelevant. Its not very long.

My guess is that he will hurt significantly especially in the huge swath of Red States that depend on Agriculture. Foreign travel is down too. Foreigners have always been hyper sensitive to the idea that the US is the wild west with gunfights breaking out everywhere. The news from my old Homestate, Kansas, today won’t help that perception. That story is already running on Indian media.

I’ve read enough stories that suggest doom and gloom in various economic quarters that I find the idea of a “little Trump” imprint on the economy wishful thinking. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part.

“The Little Trump hypothesis regards these fears and declares: “meh.” Instead, it posits that the president will be a loud yet minor figure, sound and fury signifying nothing; a wannabe superhero hemmed in by the limited powers of the executive branch. Rather than rule like a populist demagogue, he will mostly sign bills written by his pro-business staffers and approved by a pro-business Congress. There are extremely smart people who believe in each hypothesis. But the theories are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be true. No matter what happens in the next few years, a lot of people are already wrong about Donald Trump.”

A year ago today the most famous man in World History…

…showed up on my front lawn

I know because Facebook reminded me by putting this image on a “year-ago-today” memory function.

And why do I say that he is the most famous person in World History? Well first a prologue.

I woke up today not thinking about Trump, a rarity, but perhaps he was in my thoughts way behind the scenes in my subconscious. You see, I woke this morning imagining going back to a day when I was in college 45 years ago with the memories of me today, at age 66, stuck in my head.

What I thought about was compelling enough, for me, to imagine writing it down as the beginning of a novel. So taken was I by this writing exercise that I decided not to listen to NPR this morning so I could continue thinking about this novelized time travel story. (Actually, last night before going to bed I thought I should stop listening to the morning news because I had been so wrapped up in it that I have been neglecting various projects I wanted to work on. This has become so standard that I find myself going to bed wishing I had done something useful instead of obsess about Donald Trump.)

I got out of bed before the crack of dawn and kept the radio off while I fed my cats and gathered my gym bag to swim some laps at the fitness center. I drove sans radio and swam. On the way home I bought some coffee, orange Juice and a banana nut muffin but made the mistake of looking at my cell. I noticed a New York Times Story (I subscribed to the Times a couple weeks ago to have unlimited Trump News coverage and avoid being limited to ten-a-month) about someone who had attempted to do what I was failing to do with my morning. Block Trump out of my thoughts so I could do something else for a change.

Mr. Manjoo is the columnist who tried unsuccessfully to blot out Donald Trump not just for a morning but for a week. He couldn’t do it either. Then he did a little research and concluded that Trump is the most famous person in world history that has ever been. As I extrapolate Manjoo’s conclusions it appears that Donald Trump has gotten something like a trillion dollars worth of free publicity over the course of the last twelve months. He has me convinced. Its astonishing to think that the most famous person ever is the world’s biggest twit. Or is that twitterer?

It can’t happen here.

I only had to type six characters and a space: It can’ – and the full title of the movie I woke up dreaming about popped up in my Google Search: It Can’t Happen Here. I suspect Donald Trump’s series of unfortunate events has prompted a lot of other people in their sixties to Google that title.

It Can’t Happen Here was a book written by, Sinclair Lewis, the Minnesotan who wrote one of his books half a mile from my house. But I was wrong. The movie I had in mind was Red Nightmare, which you can see on Youtube. This was a Warner Brother’s Film, about what America would be like if Russian Communists took over whereas Sinclair’s book was published a quarter century earlier. Lewis, long suspected be a Commie by Right Wingers had a differenty bogeyman in his 1935 novel. It was a Fascist demagogue, Buzz Windrip, modeled after Louisiana Governor Huey Long. Like Saturday Night Live the book was considered satire although Lewis probably thought it was more of a wake up call.

Ten years after Lewis, Robert Penn Warren would win a Pulitzer for another treatment of Huey Long called “All the King’s Men.” I’ve only seen the Broderick Crawford movie. Claudia, the novel reader in my household, loved Warren’s book.

The line that Democracy calls for constant vigilance is appreciated on both left and right. Eight years ago “conservative writers” were warning that President Obama was going to instigate a communist take over. Count me among the Obama lovers who fret that the opposite could occur. This post was originally going to be titled: “Trump Supporters are Not Brown Shirts – Yet.” That was meant to be a hopeful title.

I have no trouble seeing Donald Trump put his own ego over the “American Democratic Experiment.” He’s like one of the Tigers in that embarrassing old relic Little Black Sambo. I can only hope he chases the other tigers around the tree turns and to butter. I’m losing hope that he will grow into the Presidency. He looks more and more like the tinytrump pictures in that Reddit Thread.

When I hear him call legitimate news “fake” I can imagine him being gently led to a psyche ward mumbling to all who will listen that he is Jesus Christ. Is this madness, illiteracy, dementia, a lifetime of unpunished bullying or vainglory? I don’t know.

Thankfully, for every Bannon, Pudzer, DeVos and Miller Trump has been coaxed into appointing sensible people. I’ve got no problem with General Mattis or Judge Gorsuch. I read a glowing review of the jurist in the Denver Post when I was visiting my Uncle last month. As long as Trump keeps appointing one Gorsuch for every Sessions I’ll sleep at night. As long as Republican Senator’s McCain and Lindsey Graham birddog Trump, I’ll sleep at night.

American Dictator Watch – 2-18-2017

Considering turning the National Guard into a police force

Considering curtailing the Founding Father’s right of a free press.

After begging Russia to release hacked US Government emails an About Face calling for prosecutions of American government leakers.

Not to mention this old chestnut from the campaign trail back in February of 2016:

Campaigning on making it easier to sue his detractors and the press for golden showering on his parade.

Americapocalypse

I love my blog’s search function. It always surprises me what it can reveal in and about my ten years of blogging. Apparently, not counting this post I have mentioned “paranoia” in 47 previous posts. Its easy to count as the search function shows me 20 posts per page and there were three pages with 20 + 20 + 7 such posts. A couple even had the word “Paranoia” in the Title. Now that’s a small fraction of my total 19442 posts (not counting this one). I think that shows some restraint on my part as it means I’ve only mentioned it in .0049724926 percent of my total posts. (You gotta love calculators)

It’s on my mind now despite living a pretty mundane life. Last night my very interesting evening with the School Board (beginning with our hush hush closed meeting to discuss……….) Shhhhhh!

As I was saying – after my night of school board meetings I had eight minutes to drive up to my heart-dappled Glen Avon Presbyterian Church to practice with our choir. This will be difficult for me to continue thru June because Claudia is now working Wednesday evenings helping register homeless folks in at CHUM. Until June I’ll be skipping choir practice to take care of our grandsons. I’m looking forward to these evenings but since I can’t really read music I’ll be missing my only chance to practice our music by ear. I don’t mind looking foolish at a School Board meeting (that’s a lie) but I hate the thought of coughing out an unplanned solo or hitting a false note in church.

Ah, but a sick grandchild and my rare Wednesday board meeting left me free for the night and I hurriedly parked on the south side of Lewis street as I have for twenty years. Thank goodness I got the music. It is tricky and syncopated. When I left the practice feeling relieved I opened my car door and saw a parking ticket fall to the street. Twenty-four bucks! I guess I should thank my lucky stars I got away with that for the past two decades. It was bound to catch up with me sometime.

So this morning I awoke in our guest room bed alone. I moved there after waking up and fretting for a couple hours that would have been better spent sleeping. I have all day to fret. Last night however, I decided the deep well that I have put in my mattress may explain the sore shoulder muscles I’ve endured for the past week after shoveling snow. If so, maybe its not simply the Americapocolypse that has me up at nights. I’m going to lobby for a new mattress.

Claudia, it turns out, had to leave early for her Twin Cities Seminary classes this morning. She left me a pot of coffee and two sleeping cats which she had fed. Nice. Then, I read the 25th day straight of unsettling news about our new Command-her and Chief. Then, I thought about the likely imminent departure of our Superintendent. Then, I thought about how unless we can find alternative funding the School District may have to pull money out of the classroom to pay for replacement of tire mulch. Then, I thought about how to lobby the Minnesota Dept of Education to take money out of our Capital funds instead. Then, I saw my parking ticket on the dining room table. Phooey!

The ticket explained that I could pay easily over the phone and easy sounded, well, easy. But when a cheery voice announced I could do it easily for an extra $3 charge for phone processing I hung up and wrote a check instead. I’ll pay 54 cents for Post Office processing instead, thank you very much.

And behind all this personal minutiae lies a fearful political collapse of the Republic. The press won’t cut Trump any slack as he blunders his way proving that he can make the national political transition of government as chaotic as last year’s election. He has read his political mandate about as well as he can read. The saving grace is that in a pinch the Republican’s in Congress will likely not give him authoritarian powers lest he do to the Republicans what Kim Jong-un did to his half brother a couple days ago. They still need a powerful enough justification to impeach Trump so as to shield themselves from their fire-breathing Limbaugh and Rapture-ridden Christian base.

I take little comfort when I read an old testament Christian’s explanation that God chose lots of evil men to work his will in Old Testament times and that’s why they voted for Trump. Trump is our Nebuchadnezzar. An illiterate, pussy grabber is God’s judgement on America. Maybe that explains Trumps stunning retreat from his last thank you to the RNC convention for cutting Gays some slack. Then he backed off and threw a bone to the fundamentalists scrapping the Johnson Amendment.

I’ve often joked that “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.” Looking at my Facebook feed which keeps growing exponentially as I add new friends I see how the folks on my side of the political divide are rallying. I only get short glimpses of the pro-Trump side as they typically eschew the Fake News I rely on. They probably feel paranoid about my jokes about the impeachment of Trump. That may be cause for alarm. At choir practice last night a friend told me of a retired school superintendent he knows (and that I know too) who is out buying all the ammunition he can.

I really need a good mattress.

“drown the liberals”

A distant relative Facebooked a story about the 120,000 Californians fleeting the possible collapse of the Oroville Dam. Some troll commented underneath the story. “Drown the liberals.”

My best guess about the troll is that he/she is a fan of Donald Trump.

I woke up Sunday morning and lost a couple hours sleep composing a post about how Donald Trump’s election has revived Saturday Night Live. I fell asleep and didn’t get around to it until now. I’ve resumed watching SNL regularly after years of ignoring it. Trump has pumped life into the program and on Saturday night Trump and his administration was a nonstop presence from 10:30 to midnight. Today the Trib had a story about how its viewership is soaring.

And its not just SNL that is surfboarding on Trump. After Claudia and I came home from a birthday dinner at the Scenic Cafe we caught up with three recent episodes of Samantha Bee on Netflix. Its breathtaking how an existential threat to the world’s longest lived Democracy has inspired both trolls and comics.

Just take a look at the latest John Oliver piece. I’ve never seen horror/comedy/news so tightly intertwined.

Raising my flag to America’s judiciary

There were two clarifying interviews on NPR this morning which I thought were helpful in making sense of the Federal Court’s decision which President Trump called “disgraceful.”

In the first Jonah Goldberg commented that he thought it was unfair of the court’s to pay too much attention to Trump’s campaign rhetoric about barring Muslims from America because the President’s hasty executive order did not go as far as his rhetoric. I think that’s a fair critique but I wonder if his Supreme Court nominees would agree. After-all, most of them will be fans of “originalism” which exalts our Founder’s 18th century notions of Constitutional interpretation which, among other things, treated black slaves as 3/4ths of a human being. Wasn’t banning Muslims Trump’s original intention? If so, shouldn’t that be how the court views his executive order?

Also Goldberg commented sensibly that it could be troubling if every time any law is passed or enforced in such a way as to disadvantage a single state that the disadvantaged state could have veto power over a nationally administered law.

Then another guest made another sensible comment in an NPR interview. The second person noted that the courts had not overruled the executive order meaning that it could yet be determined to be legal. What the Appellate Court had done was simply set in motion a means for the courts to analyze whether the rushed Presidential order had overreached.

I wouldn’t have expected such views to be aired on most television news programs which is why I stopped treating television news as particularly helpful about 40 years ago. Of course, the Republicans are always threatening to stop public finance of NPR and PBS. I guess that makes Big Bird a commie although in the new Trump world being an ex KGB agent is no big deal. However, Mitch McConnell has deemed quoting Coretta Scott King on the floor of the US Senate a national disaster.

Here are some more of today’s NPR stories I found heartening and a good reason for me to raise Old Glory over the backs of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia:

Appellate Court doesn’t revoke the lower court order to stay Trump’s executive order to deny entry into the US by travelers from seven predominantly Islamic nations.

Trump lies about being invited to appear on John Oliver’s show.

Trump lies about Gorsuch saying the nominee for the Supreme Court never said that Trump’s anti court rhetoric was disheartening to the third branch of Government.

Utah Republican Congressman Chaffetz is booed back home in conformist Utah when he says Trump is exempt from self dealing as President.

If Donald Trump is ever to become a rational President he will have to be treated as ferociously by his critics as Trump treated them when he campaigned for the Presidency.

HAPPY # 7 (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER OTHER THAN #1)

I was quite taken with a couple of academics who were analyzing the reaction to the Trump Presidency. They in turn were taken with the many patriotic ads on the Superbowl which seemed to be challenging the “Nativism” so prominant in the new Donald Trump Presidency. They both were intrigued by a nascent partiotism they sensed that the Trump victory brought out in Americans who did not share his values. It was as though his critics vision of America had been rocked in a way that offended what they loved about America. It was something of a rebuke to the patriotism trumpeted by the new President’s loyalists but it was as genuniely pro-America as the Trumpster’s flag lapel pins.

I had already fished out my American flag when I heard this and it struck me as a very positive development.

I have always been drawn to silver linings and just maybe the election of an unpalatable Donald Trump has galvanized a lot of folks who will refuse to roll over and play dead. I hope so.

This discussion is not yet on the PBS Newshour webpage either.

Happy # 1 (In no particular order – except this one)

I will be raising our family’s American flag on our front porch tomorrow. How come? I’m thrilled that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the lower court decision which shut down President Trump’s executive order for a travel ban aimed largely at Muslims.

Trump’s hysteria over Muslims annoys me. The only person I ever new to be murdered for his religion was my high school roommate. He was a Muslim that I suspect was imprisoned and killed by a Christian regime.