Author Archives: bbj1969per@aol.com

Looking back on “the summer of ’16…”

The Verrazano Bridge – over the “Narrows” I kayaked across – “in the summer of 2016…” 

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

What Happens When You Unfollow On Facebook 19Yesterday I learned to unfollow on Facebook. I applied that knowledge to some fellow classmates from my high school “Class of 1969.” Here’s what happened…

Back in October I thought about going to my 50-year high school class reunion. SO, I got in touch with a number of “old” classmates via the Class of ’69 Facebook page.

It was then I learned how way too many of them had turned way too old, grumpy, frustrated, whiny and/or negative geezers. (“What happened to those bright-eyed youngsters, all full of hope and hormones?”) I ended up not going to the reunion, but still tried to keep in touch. (For one thing it was my Christian duty to try and “bring them back from the Dark Side.*”)

But then it got to be too much. I kept losing sleep, trying to think of snappy comebacks, ways to “reach those people” through clever rhetoric and Christian patience.

I did think of some snappy comebacks, but usually six or so hours later. By then “they” had posted even more negative items, which kept on coming, and coming, and coming. Of course I didn’t want to tell any new Facebook “friends” that I’d “un-friended” them. I still wanted to reach them, if possible. But on that same “yesterday” I did note – on Facebook – that I was taking a break from politics. And on that note I posted a “remembering” photo from my recent Camino hike in Portugal. (Featuring some bikini-clad lovelies on a beach north of Porto.)

So – in that same vein – I hereby offer up in this blog a similar meditation, on some happy times back in the summer of 2016, BT. (Before Trump.) Like the time I kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows, from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and back. I covered the story in “No city for Grouchy Old White People,” and “No city for Grouchy Old White People” – Part II.

The posts were about a visit to New York City, while staying in Staten Island and taking the Ferry back and forth to Manhattan. Their point: “New York City is a refreshing reminder that there’s more to this country than just the right-wing wackos so prevalent back home in ‘The Bubble.’” (To wit: my area of Georgia.) And speaking of Facebook, here’s what I posted about the trip:

Ever since last Saturday, September 17, we’ve been taking the Staten Island ferry into and back from Manhattan Island. So that’s eight times – twice a day for four days now – that we’ve seen the Statute of Liberty, off in the distance…  And I don’t remember ONCE seeing a sign that said, “the heck with your tired, your poor,” those “wretched refuse … yearning to breathe free.”  WE’RE GONNA BUILD A FRIKKIN WALL!

There’s more in that vein in the Grouchy Old White People posts. But on Thursday, September 22, while the rest of the family left for further adventures on their own, I packed up and then kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows.  (Mostly following the Bridge of the same name.)  

So here – at left – is a photo I took, from the kayak, about half-way back to Staten Island.  You may notice the waters are fairly choppy.  And I can tell you those waters got WAY choppier than when I started.  In other words, I seem to have started out – that fine Thursday morning – on pretty much of a neap tide.

It only took me 20 minutes to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and I like to do a full two hours of kayaking a week.  So on the way over I toyed with the idea of cruising along the Atlantic side of Brooklyn for awhile. (And maybe even reaching Coney Island.) But I decided not to, mostly because I figured it’d be better to start back to the put-in side while I was still fresh.

And it’s a good thing I did.  As I was paddling back toward Staten Island the tide started going in. Which wasn’t so bad, since at worst it would have swept me in toward Hoboken…

Long story short, with the change of tide and all, I ended up having a mere 13 minutes left of my two-hours-of-kayaking-a-week quota. That’s when I finally got back to where I put in, at Roosevelt Beach on Staten Island.  (And got dunked “coming in for a landing.”)  But it could have been worse. The tide could have been going out.  (As in, “out to sea…”)

And that was pretty much it for my visit to New York City.  I drove home via the Cape May Ferry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel, and got home Saturday, September 24.

Put another way I was lucky I kayaked across “the Narrows” at neap tide, so I wasn’t either swept by the currents into New York Harbor, or swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay

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brooklynsideVN

My view of the Brooklyn side of the “Narrows” Bridge…

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The upper image is courtesy of Verrazano Bridge – Image Results. See also Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge – Wikipedia, including the link to the Narrows, the “body of water linking the relatively enclosed Upper New York Bay with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.” The image was accompanied by a New York Post article, “Did you know the Verrazano Bridge is spelled wrong?” The correct spelling is “Verrazzano,” with two z’s and two r’s. For a video of a similar adventure, see September Paddle: A Clockwise Tour of NY Harbor – YouTube

Re: “Summer of ’16.” A familiar Meme, here alluding to such media events such as Summer of ’42 (the 1971 “coming of age” movie), Summer of ’69 (the 1984 song by Canadian musician Bryan Adams), and/or Summer of 84 (the “2018 Canadian horror mystery film“).

Re: “Unfollow.” See also How to Unfollow Someone on Facebook: 14 Steps (with Pictures).

Re: “Bring them back from the Dark Side,” and Christian duty. See Ezekiel 3:16-21A Watchman for Israel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Et sequentes.

And also Dark side of the Force | Wookieepedia | Fandom.

Re: “Neap tide.” See Neap tide | Definition … at Dictionary.com, “either of the two tides that occur at the first or last quarter of the moon [or month] when the tide-generating forces of the sun and moon oppose each other and produce the smallest rise and fall in tidal level,” and also Tide – Wikipedia

When the Moon is at first quarter or third quarter, the Sun and Moon are separated by 90° when viewed from the Earth, and the solar tidal force partially cancels the Moon’s tidal force. At these points in the lunar cycle, the tide’s range is at its minimum; this is called the neap tide, or neaps. Neap is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “without the power”, as in forðganges nip (forth-going without-the-power).

Re: “Swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay.” As noted, I thought about cruising along the south side of Brooklyn/Long Island for a while, and maybe reaching Coney Island, but luckily turned back. I could feel the tide changing as I paddled back toward Staten Island. 

I took the photos including the “Brooklyn side” of the bridge, but not the Facebook image.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On my road trip out to Utah…

As it turned out, I managed to drive 3,600+ miles to Utah and back, without a major mishap…

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I haven’t posted anything since November 28, “last year.” One big reason? (Aside from preparing for the Christmas holidays.) Last December 27 I got in my car and drove 1,800 miles out west, “in the bleak midwinter.” (At right, a truck stop in Grand Island Nebraska, snowed in 12/29/19. See also the notes.)

I drove out to visit my brother in Utah, and his wife. (My “hiking buddies” from the Portuguese Camino. See Just got back – Portuguese Camino!Their son and daughter also came out – from Back East – along with my new (as of June 2018) “nephew by marriage.” (See On a wedding in Hadley – and John, Peter and Paul.) It was a great 14-day road trip.

To start at the end, I made it back to Atlanta on Thursday, January 9, “safe and sound.” That day I drove 566 miles in 12 hours, starting in Conway Arkansas. (Northwest of Little Rock.) And that was even though I lost an hour crossing into Georgia from Alabama. (4:25 Arkansas and body-clock time, 5:25 God’s Country time.) I had to be back to work the next day, Friday the 10th.

IMG_20191229_182623Those great memories from the road trip included getting snowed in at Grand Island Nebraska, as shown above right, and at left, as explained further below. (Westbound I-80 was closed.)

That was on Sunday, December 29, two days after setting out. Something like a hundred trucks were lined up on the side of the road, along with cars in the Motel 6 parking lot…

The day had started out well.

I left the Motel 6 in north Kansas City – where I had to pay a $40 cash deposit the night before* – and made good time…  I figured I was making such good time that I could afford to stop and do some “touristy stuff” before reaching my goal. That is, getting to Morgan, Utah by 3:30 or so on the afternoon of December 31. (Followed by a trip to Salt Lake City airport to pick up other guests arriving by plane.)

The weather was good, and the Weather Channel hadn’t given a clue about what was about to happen. Then the snow hit. The first clue came as I drove west on Nebraska state road 136, west of Brownville, just across the Missouri River. I cut over to avoid the “up and over” to Omaha. Then I saw another car, at first behind me but then it passed on the right.

It’s roof was covered with snow.

Anyway, I’d hoped to make North Platte, Nebraska that night, but ended up stopping early at Grand Island. (I did make it to North Platte next day, but in doing so covered only 146 miles “as the crow flies.” But the crow didn’t have to go around the closed I-80 via back roads, down to Hastings, then west on US 34, then back up to Lexington via State Road 23.) 

After checking in at Grand Island and getting settled, I walked – gingerly – through the snow, ice and slush from that Motel 6 to the big truck stop next door. While doing laundry I enjoyed two tall beers, a burger and conversation with the other stranded motorists, as shown in the image above left. (Those are my glasses, next to my half-empty glass of beer.)

Other memorable moments from the trip? Later on the way out I stopped in Wyoming for coffee creamer and other goodies at a Walmart. The price came to $6.66, which led me to think, “OH HELL NO!” So I bought some Tic-tacs to change the price. (See Revelation 13:18.)

But the best memory of the trip came on the night of Friday, January 3, at the “Old Manse” atop the family hill south of Morgan. “The girls” had gone to bed and the guys had stayed up and chatted. And drained a bottle or two of wine. (Next day we were to go skiing at Snow Basin.)

Eventually the drain-a-bottle-of-wine talk led to my brother and nephew swapping boot-camp-slash-Marine-slash-Army stories. (My brother served in the Marines in the 1960s, and my nephew served several tours in the Army, and is now in the Reserves while attending Penn State.) Like the Advanced Infantry Training that old-time Marines got after Parris Island boot camp. When the new Marines got to drink lots of beer at lunch, for a change. But then the “powers that be” had them line up in parade formation in their dress greens. Then they had to wait for hours in formation, “and the inevitable consequences thereof.” Or Matt sharing a story about taking a wrong turn down that back alley in Seoul, South Korea. “Further affiant saith not!”

BTW: We all slept late the next morning…

Good memories!

In the next installment you’ll see how I cracked a rib while skiing at Snow Basin…  And got a speeding ticket driving through *&^% Haysville Kansas!

But for tonight I’ll go back to the memory of getting snowed in at that Motel 6 in Grand Island, Nebraska. With a view of the near-frozen North Platte River from my motel-room window, next morning and as shown below. But it also included that great burger and two draft beers at the Thunder Road Grill at the truck stop next door. (As shown in the notes.)

So the way I figure it, “there’s some kind of lesson there!

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One of three branches of the Platte River, the morning of 12/30/19…

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The upper image is courtesy of Road Trip Winter – Image Results. It was accompanied by an article on safety tips for winter road trips, by Elaine Schoch. Among the recommendations: Keep your gas tank half full, “to prevent gas line freeze-up.” Which I didn’t know, but kept filled up whenever the gauge got to half-full, figuring it might be nice to have enough gas to keep the heat on, while stopped and as necessary. Also, “kitty litter,” for traction in the snow. (My Utah brother recommended sand.) Plus other advice such as “stay calm if stranded.” Including “Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.” I’ll read up on that article again if and when I do another road trip “in the bleak midwinter.”

On that note, see In the Bleak Midwinter – Wikipedia, about the “Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title ‘A Christmas Carol,’ in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly. The poem first appeared set to music in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav HolstHarold Darke‘s anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.”

I took the “Grand Island” photos, including the one of my glasses on the bar next to a half-empty glass of draft beer. The Motel 6 in question was at 7301 Bosselman Ave, Grand Island, NE. The full link to the “Thunder Road” website is Thunder Road Grill | Pizza, Wings & Burgers | Grand Island, NE.

Re:  The $40 cash deposit, at the Motel 6 near the airport, north Kansas City. In all my 68 years of travel and motel-stops, I’d never had to do that before. A general rule: Motel 6’s in or close to big cities seem to be rather “dubious,” while those in or near small towns are well worth the savings. 

Re: “Further Affiant Sayeth Naught.” That’s a “centuries-old statement that is still used on some legal documents such as pleadings as the final declaration prior to the affiant’s signature.”

“Fighting right-wing distortions on Facebook…”

File"-Saint Paul Writing His Epistles" by Valentin de Boulogne.jpg

“… can be a great learning experience!” (As St. Paul might have said, if he did Facebook…)

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Image may contain: one or more people, child and outdoorThings have been hectic since I got back on September 25 from my 19-day, 160-mile hike on the Camino de Santiago. (See “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”)

For one thing, I got hired back as a supervisor at the local branch of Keep America Beautiful(Supervising mainly young folk doing community service.) For another thing I got back from Portugal in the midst of the “High Holy Season.” (The season of college and pro football. See Moses at Rephidim: “What if?”)

Which means that – since the regular college season is now coming to an end – it’s time to get serious about posting more regularly. And what better place to start than some reflections on what I’ve been seeing and doing on Facebook since I got back home?

The thing is, on the Camino in Portugal – and later Spain – I did post on Facebook every day. But those were on my daily adventures in a “country far away.” (And for some reason I wasn’t bombarded by daily updates on the partisan politics back home in the U.S of A.) Then too the feedback to my posts from Portugal was mostly positive. (To a shared travel experience.)

Once I got back all that changed. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by politics, including some unsettling posts by former high school classmates. That is, I graduated in 1969, and so this year was our 50-year high school reunion. (Scheduled for the weekend of October 11-13.) So before I left for the Camino, I got in touch with many former classmates, largely through Facebook. (Illustrated at left.) 

That’s when I discovered something “definitely amiss.”

I found out that way too many of those former bright-eyed youngsters – full of hope and hormones (not to mention plans to “change the world“) – had turned into grumpy old arch-conservative, geezers whose sole purpose in life now seemed to be venting their spleen on Facebook. (A note: The old geezers were male former classmates. I saw no ladies from the Class of ’69 being so grumpy and arch-conservative. I’m thinking that maybe they’re going out and doing something positive with their lives, unlike their male counterparts.) 

The dark sideThe point being: I felt I had to try and correct some of their distortions, and maybe to bring them back from the dark side(For reasons including Ezekiel 3:16-21.) Which turned into quite a project.

For example, one conservative post from a former classmate said President Obama had fired “every single Bush ambassador.” (i.e., every ambassador appointed by President Bush, as if it were a big deal.) The claim seemed pretty shocking, so I decided to check.

I ultimately found out that new presidents get rid of political ambassadors from past administrations on a routine basis. That nugget was courtesy of PolitiFact and its article No, Obama didn’t fire all of Bush’s politically-appointed ambassadors. Politifact rated the claim “mostly false,” but the exercise in rebutting that claim turned out to be very instructive.

So I posted – on Facebook in response – that Obama had indeed “let go some political ambassadors, which is standard procedure. Plus Bush asked some of his POLITICAL AMBASSADORS to hand in their resignations. And most CAREER DIPLOMAT ambassadors stayed on.” (Emphases in my original post.) That led to a response – not from a classmate but from a another arch-conservative – “do not mean to dispute what you say, but if that is true how could all the ambassadors be liberals when Obama left office?” (Another claim worth challenging?)

That response was met at first by a fellow free-thinker (“John”), who posted, “As demonstrated in the impeachment hearings most career Ambassadors are non political.” 

Four shovels standing upright in dirtWhich turned out to be true. I.e., Politifact noted there are “two breeds of ambassadors: political appointees and career diplomats. Political appointees are usually stationed in countries that are U.S. allies or desirable locations, like the Bahamas.” (illustrated at left.) And also that it’s standard practice to “cycle out” such employees. Which led me to respond that was “pretty much what John said. The point being that anyone who raises a hubbub about either Trump or Obama firing ‘all ambassadors’ is making a mountain out of a molehill. And distorting the facts.”

In other words, I learned something in this exercise in combating right-wing distortions. That led me to the conclusion, “Fighting right-wing distortions on Facebook can definitely be an educational experience. (Also known as a “teaching moment” or “teachable moment.”)

At this point – and just to clarify – I consider myself an Independent. (“Like Moses or Jesus,” the subject of a future post. But for now see A reminder: “I’m an INDEPENDENT (Voter.)“)

And like many such Independents, I’m puzzled at how many conservatives still support Trump, in the face of what seems incontrovertible evidence of his – shall we say – “shortcomings?”

Which led me to do another post, on “an interesting online article, ‘Why conservatives are more susceptible to believing in lies.‘” It too was very instructive, and led me to post some sample passages. Like the fact that conservatives are “less introspective, less attentive to their inner feelings, and less likely to override their ‘gut’ reactions and engage in further reflection to find a correct answer.” (Which led me to observe too that they are “‘less so’ than other people, like liberals and Independents. You know, ‘Independent thinkers’ like Moses and Jesus?”)

Watts.JPGThen there was this little tidbit:

Baptist minister and former Republican congressman J. C. Watts [at right] put it succinctly. Campaigning for Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa in 2015 he observed, “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good.”

I responded in part that “few people are ALL bad or ALL good. The tendency to think in such black-and-white terms is also called ‘splitting,’ or cognitive distortion.” (Concepts I also had to research.)

Also – according to my research – such simplified thinking is a “common defense mechanism in which the individual ‘tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).'”

Then too I noted the incongruity that conservatives think THEY are all good, while liberals – as well as anyone else who doesn’t buy into their brand of magic – are by definition all bad…

Which led me to yet another conclusion: That “having a good enemy” is essential to personal and spiritual growth. As part of that learning experience, I Googled “having a good enemy.” And got 204 million (204,000,000) results. One example of such wisdom came from Winston Churchill, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” See also, Top 10 Reasons Why we all must have Enemies. Some examples? “Competition between the enemies is good for the society.” And “Enemies will keep you focused.” And finally, “Enemies will make you a better person as a whole.”

And finally, again, I should note that having good enemies – which includes trying to “bring them back from the dark side” – is an excellent way to ditch Black And White Thinking!

And by the way, I’ll be using those “good enemy” quotes on Facebook, whenever arch-conservatives start attacking those darned liberals… (“You need a good enemy!”)  

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No photo description available.

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The upper image is courtesy of Paul the Apostle – Wikipedia. The caption: “‘Saint Paul Writing His Epistles’ by Valentin de Boulogne.” 

Re: Facebook. See History of Facebook – Wikipedia, which includes the photo of its founder. The caption: “Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.” The article expands on the theme of learning experiences. And the article includes interesting tidbits like: 1) The social networking service was launched as TheFacebook on February 4, 2004; 2) membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, then to most universities in the U.S.and Canada, until by September 2006, it was available to everyone with a valid email address; and that FaceMash, Facebook’s predecessor, opened in 2003 as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. “The website allowed visitors to compare two female student pictures side by side and let them decide who was more attractive.”

Re: The song “change the world.” The version I thought of when I writing this post actually came from Chicago (Graham Nash song)See Wikipedia, which said this:

Chicago” (often listed as “Chicago / We Can Change the World“) is a song written by Graham Nash for his solo debut album Songs for Beginners. As a single [in 1971], it reached number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and 29 on the Cash Box Top 100… The title and lyrics of the song refer to the anti-Vietnam War protests that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the subsequent trial of the Chicago Eight, where protest leaders were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot. 

The song included these lyrics, near the end: “We can change the world, re-arrange the world, it’s dying, if you believe in justice, it’s dying if you believe in freedom.”  But this song is distinct from “Change the World,” a song written by “Tommy SimsGordon Kennedy, and Wayne Kirkpatrick whose best-known version was recorded by the English singer Eric Clapton for the soundtrack of the 1996 film Phenomenon.” See Change the World – Wikipedia, which serves as another example of how combating right-wing distortions can definitely be instructive. 

Re: Ezekiel 3:16-21. Summarized as Ezekiel’s Task as Watchman, it basically says that if you warn a fellow citizen of the error of his ways and he fails to listen, he’ll be in trouble but you will at least have saved your own spiritual butt. But if you don’t warn him, you’ll both be in trouble. 

The person who posted the “liberal ambassadors” response was – as noted – not a former classmate, but he used to attend my church and comes back every now and again. “John” – my fellow free-thinker – is still a member of my church, and in fact is a fellow member of the choir. 

Re: Combating right-wing distortions, etc. Then there was this Bible passage from Sunday, November 10, concerning the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus: 

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. (E.A.)

Again, that was from the New Testament reading for November 10, from 2d Thessalonians, Chapter 2, where Paul wrote about Jesus coming back “and our being gathered together to him.” Which led me to this bit of possible good news: “Jesus might be coming back really really soon!”

An almost-final text note. On Facebook I posted another irony: That today’s conservatives say people who want to come to this country have to “follow all the rules.” Which led to the question, “Why don’t they say the same thing about Donald Trump? It’s incongruous is what it is.”

As to the benefits of having a good enemy, see also The Benefits of Having an Enemy – The American Interest, and The Benefits of Enemies – The Bible Meditator.

The lower image is courtesy of Ditch Black And White Thinking – Image Results.

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A final final note, on a possible standard response to right-wingers attacking “libs” on Facebook. “God bless liberals! What would you do without them? See the online piece, Top 10 Reasons Why we all must have Enemies. The reasons include: 1) competition between enemies is good for society; 2) enemies keep you focused; and 3) enemies will make you a better person as a whole. 

“Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”

Image may contain: one or more people, child and outdoor

A not-so-typical scene on the Portuguese Camino – early on along the “beach”* alternative…

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Image may contain: drinkI flew back from Lisbon, Portugal, on September 25. “And, boy, were my arms tired!” But seriously, I did finish a 160-mile hike on the Portuguese Camino in September. (I flew to Lisbon August 28.)

Which means the “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino” is a bit of an anachronism. (A “chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, or customs from different periods.”)

But it seems like yesterday…

Part of the trip’s charm was that before, during and after the 18-day hike I greatly enjoyed the Iberian beers. Including CruzcampoSagres, Mahou (above left) and Super Bock. See Beer in Portugal – Wikipedia and its long history, “as far back as the time of the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, where beer was commonly made and drunk.”

I hiked with my Utah brother and sister-in-law. We started in Porto, then hiked “back” to Santiago. (My brother and I hiked the Camino Frances in 2017, and came to Santiago from the east.) This time we three came into Santiago from  the south. I wrote about that proposed pilgrimage on August 2d, in St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage.” (My companion blog.)

In 2017 … my Utah brother and I hiked [and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way… But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the [160] or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago, via the Portuguese Way. And this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

That Portuguese Way is another name for the Camino route passing through Portugal. You can begin in either Lisbon or Porto. “The Portuguese way is the second most popular route after the French Way and the Portuguese coastal way” – which we took, hiking west from Porto – “is the seventh most popular.” See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like?

If you start your Camino in Porto and really want to be by the water, you have the option of spending your first day [or two] walking the unofficial but easy-to-follow route alongside the beach between Matosinhos and Vila do Conde… Towards the end of the following day, the route heads inland and unless you take a detour or two, you won’t see much of the sea until you get to Galicia.

Which is pretty much what we did.

10.8 miles from Porto to Cabo do Mundo the first day. (And by the way, the tablet I used to both take some pictures and post them on Facebook had a problem. It had autocorrect, which changed a name like Cabo do Mundo to “Cabo Dr Mundo” every time. It got to be aggravating after a while.) Then 10.2 miles to Vila do Conde. (Same tablet problem.) From there it was a mere six-mile to Arcos. (A rare short hike.) From there 13 miles to Barcelos, where we took our first day off. Which was pretty much the pattern: Our three days off were always preceded by one long hike.

Which – by the way – was prompted by my brother’s booking our hotels – auberges, whatever – a good six months in advance. And that made us different from most Camino pilgrims.

All the good books on the “magic of the Camino” focus on the wonderful people you meet and mingle with in the dormitory-style auberges. But my brother had that experience once – in 2017, crossing the Pyrenees, before we met up in Pamplona – and that was enough for him.

And me too, as it turned out. (I took his word for it.)

I like my privacy, and being able to get away from “mingling” after a long day’s hike.

So anyway and to repeat, we started out on the Coastal Route after Porto, then shunted over to the Inland Route. There – among other rivers – we crossed the Lima river at Ponte de Lima:

For the inland route, Ponte de Lima‘s bridge is used. The later bridge possibly dates to the 1st century and was rebuilt in 1125… [The bridge] is named after the long medieval bridge (ponte) that passes over the Lima river that runs next to the town.

Or as Arlo Guthrie might have phrased it, “that’s just the name of the bridge, and that’s why they called the bridge the Ponte de Lima.”

That’s a quick look at the first part of this Camino hike, with few scintillating details or photos. (Except those at the top and bottom of the main text.) But we’re digressing here, and getting to the end of the recommended number of words in a blog post. That leads to a final note.

Remember how we used to peel the skin off our back and arms after a bad sunburn? Back in the old days, when we were young and before today’s fancy-schmancy creams and lotions that prevent such peeling? Something like that happened to the soles of my feet once I got home.

By the time we reached Santiago the soles of my feet were like shoe-leather, tough, blister-over-healed-blister and callused. (Or “cayused,” as one cute Farmacia lady said.*) But then since I’ve been home, I’ve peeled off several layers of that tough, leathery skin. So apparently the affected parts of the physical body – like the soles of your feet – go through a process of “decompressing” after such an adventure, just like you do mentally.

Which I suppose is just another way of saying that when you engage in such a pilgrimage – or any life-changing experience – you can expect both good times and times that aren’t so good.

I’ll be writing more about our Portuguese Camino adventure, but in the meantime: The good memories were just limited to the CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock

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Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

On the way out of Porto, two fellow hikers make some last-minute adjustments.

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I took all the photos in this post.

Re: “Beach” alternative. See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like? it included a little blurb about the charms of “mingling” with other pilgrims: “One of the endearing aspects of walking the Camino, and possibly a reason people become addicted to it, is the joy of meeting fellow walkers, their support and encouragement and the friendships you make along the Way.”

Re: Cruzcampo. The link – Cruzcampo Pilsener | Grupo Cruzcampo SA | BeerAdvocate – included some definitely negative reviews, but I liked it. I had at most one or two samples on this trip, but on the 2017 Camino Frances hike, I especially enjoyed an ice cold can on the train ride from Madrid up to Pamplona, where I met my brother, who’d hiked over the Pyrenees. I’d had enough of mountain hiking, since we’d hiked the Chilkoot Trail the summer before.

Re: The number of miles hiked. I originally wrote 140 miles, but it turned out we hiked 160.

Re: “Alice’s Restaurant.” See Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant Lyrics | MetroLyrics: “This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s Restaurant.”

Re:  “Cayused.” It happened first thing one morning on the hike. We stopped at a Farmacia, as my sister-in-law wanted something like Band-aids for her blisters. She looked at one brand in Portuguese, but the lovely clerk said “those are not for blisters, they are for – how you say? – cayuses.” Which is how the Portuguese pronounce “calluses.” It was very cute, and very memorable…

Yet another review of “past Trump-posts…”

The 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. Any connection to current events?

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

I just got back from a month in Portugal, hiking the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago. Meanwhile, in the last few days since I got home, there’s been a lot of political hubbub in the news. As in Trump Impeachment Poll: Public Support Rises.

So before starting any posts on my recent adventure-pilgrimage, it might be good to review some posts I did in the past. About Donald Trump. Like the one predicting he’d “be impeached within two years.” (Which cited another past post, from before the election, asking if Trump might be the “new Maverick in town.” See April 2016’s “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”)

We missed that deadline, from November 2016. On the other hand we are coming up on three years into his first term. (Putting aside – “tabling*” – the question whether he’ll have a second term.) And yet many people still support him. Why? One possible answer might have come in last April’s On Oscar Wilde and our “criminal heroes.” It came in turn from an article in the Jan/Feb 2019 National Geographic History Magazine, “Jesse James: Rise of an American outlaw.”

It seems that Wilde was in America in 1882 – in St. Joseph, Missouri – the week after Jesse James was killed. Thus he witnessed “firsthand the mad clamor for relics of the outlaw at an auction of Jesse’s household belongings.” That led Wilde to observe: “Americans are certainly great hero-worshipers, and always take their heroes from the criminal classes.”

Which – as I said – could explain the continuing support of Donald Trump from a large part of “the sovereign people.” Then too, Americans tend to admire “rebels” as well, as explored in the post-election (11/16) post, Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma? Which included this:

I have to admit I’ve been pretty much stymied since the election, last November 8. The best I could come up with since then was “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  [11/13/16…]  It’s as if the Muses have abandoned me. On the one hand I want to be fair and not cranky. (Like so many other people my age.) But on the other hand I have this deep sense of foreboding

Which sense of foreboding could be coming to fruition “even as we speak.”

And which brings up a common phrase in this blog, “past Trump-posts.” It could be related to another new word, Trumpgret. See New Word: Trumpgret! – debatepolitics.com. (A word “bandied about by many voters that now ‘regret’ having voted for Trump in 2016.”)

But getting back to Trump as a rebel. The Yuma post noted that I “Googled the words ‘Donald Trump rebel’ and got 46,300,00 results.” And that one such link was the article, How the Rebel Flag Rose Again – and Is Helping Trump(“That title pretty much speaks for itself.”) 

Which I suppose means that the current Democratic House of Representative’s moves to impeach Trump can be seen – by some Americans anyway – as the functional equivalent of “the dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard,” as illustrated at right.* (If I’m being too subtle,  Trump is portrayed as the “heroic Jesse James.”)

Then there was another post from the past,  “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.” It asked the musical question:

50 years from now [could] that dulcet-toned lass [Joan Baez] be singing that ode to Donald Trump to the tune of “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night[?]” Joan Baez sang the original song – about Joe Hill – most memorably at Woodstock, back in the summer of 1969.

That post noted that “in some strange way Donald Trump – educated at the New York Military Academy, then the Wharton School” and worth over three billion dollars* – “has somehow become a hero to the (white) American working man.” It also noted that comparing Trump to famed labor activist and union organizer Joe Hill might not be such a good thing.

That is, like Jesse James and other noted “rebels,” Joe Hill died young. (At 36.) In one line from from “Joe Hill,” Baez sang, “‘The Copper Bosses killed you Joe, They shot you Joe’ says I.” That is, in 1914 Utah officials charged Hill with murder, resulting in a trial that became a sensation:

The case turned into a major media event. President Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller (the blind and deaf author and fellow-IWW member), the Swedish ambassador and the Swedish public all became involved in a bid for clemency. It generated international union attention, and critics charged that the trial and conviction were unfair. [One later organizer considered] Joe Hill to have been a political prisoner who was executed for his political agitation…

And again if I’m being too subtle, Joe Hill was executed by firing squad at Utah’s Sugar House Prison on November 19, 1915. (After a conviction arguably orchestrated by “the copper bosses.”)

Which could happen to Donald Trump, metaphorically anyway.

Even if impeached and convicted – and in all likelihood ever after he passes from the scene, possibly still in disgrace – he likely will still remain a hero to some members of “the American working man.” As the original “Joe Hill” song said, “Takes more than guns to kill a man…  Says Joe ‘I didn’t die.’” In the same way it may take more than an impeachment-and-conviction to tarnish the Donald’s reputation with some Americans.  

And so the final stanza of  “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night” might go like this:

From San Diego up to Maine, In every mine and mill, Where working men defend their rights, It’s there you’ll find Don Trump, It’s there you’ll find Don Trump!

It could happen! Meanwhile, the question “How much of this will be ‘deja vu all over again?'”

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Will this be the scene if the House of Representatives impeaches Donald Trump?

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The upper image is courtesy of Impeachment in the U.S. – Wikipedia. The caption:Depiction of the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presiding.”

Re: “Tabling.” The term in the United States for a rule of parliamentary procedure under which a topic or motion is put aside, possibly indefinitely; “to ‘table’ usually means to postpone or suspend consideration of a pending motion.” The term has different meanings in different countries; “the American meaning is based on the idea of leaving the topic on the table indefinitely and thereby disposing of it, i.e. killing its discussion.” See Table (parliamentary procedure) – Wikipedia.

Re: “Dirty little coward.” The caption of the photo: “A woodcut shows Robert Ford famously shooting Jesse James in the back while he hangs a picture in his house. Ford’s brother Charles looks on.” James was living under the assumed name, “Mr. Howard,” and apparently “Tom Howard.” See Wikipedia on Jesse James and Question about Jesse James & h – Genealogy.com. Wikipedia further noted:

While his “heroic outlaw” image is commonly portrayed in films, [some late 20th century historians] have classified him as a self-aware vigilante and terrorist who used local tensions to create his own myth among the widespread insurgent guerrillas and vigilantes following the American Civil War…  James remains a controversial symbol, one who can always be reinterpreted in various ways according to cultural tensions and needs. Some of the neo-Confederate movement regard him as a hero.

Which may well become the legacy of Donald Trump? 

The lower image was courtesy of Hard Hat Riot: Tea Party of yesteryear – Daily Kos.  (Which image has since been “removed.”)  The caption refers to two prior posts from this blog: Is this “deja vu all over again,” and a repriseAnother “deja vu all over again?”  See also Hard hat – Wikipedia, as to the literal meaning of the term, and the Collins Dictionary, as to its cultural implications; i.e., “characteristic of the presumed conservative attitudes and prejudices typified by construction workers.”  (See also, Hard Hat Riots.)

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Past posts on Trump and his future include Some thoughts on “the Donald,” from two years ago, On Hard hats, Hell’s Angels – and Inauguration Day 2017, and Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

“One nation after Trump” – a book review…

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I called the first draft of this post, “Cultural elites and Trump.”  But then I ran across – at a local library days ago – the 2017 book, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-yet Deported(E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann.)  Needless to say I was intrigued.  And not least of all because I too look forward to an America without Trump.  Something I noted in Belated 4th of July meditation:

Whether by vote in 2020 or operation of law in 2024, Trump will end up leaving the White House.  What happens then?  Aside from the cheering, the dancing in  the streets, the fireworks and parades, a new nightmare will begin – for Donald Trump.

And when it might be said – yet again – “Our long national nightmare is over.”

But first let’s go back to Some thoughts on “the Donald.”  That post came in December 2018, but looked back at posts “from two years ago.”  That is, two years before 2018, to a post I did in December 2016, right after Trump’s election.  Among other things there was a prediction in 2016 – by Professor Allan Lichtman – that Trump would be “impeached within two years.”

Which hasn’t happened.  He may yet be impeached – by a Democrat House of Representatives.  But he won’t be convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate.  (It would take 66 votes.)  Which brings us back to the hope offered by One Nation After Trump.  I just started reading it, but hear are some sample reviews.  Like the one from the Amazon blurb:

Yet if Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses, the citizen activism he has inspired is the antidote.  The reaction to the crisis created by Trump’s presidency can provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.

Andrea Prada at the march on Washington.Or consider the conclusion of The Guardian, the British daily newspaper (now online), founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian.  See One Nation After Trump review:  “In everything from the Women’s March on Washington [at left] to the ad hoc groups of lawyers who flocked to airports across the country to help victims of Trump’s travel ban, the [authors] see strong evidence that the rational part of the country is finally ready to take back America.”

Then there was a New York Times review, which opined that Trump’s rise to power. . .

. . . reflects the longer-term trends that have shaped the modern Republican Party: the four-decade war on the “liberal media”; the delegitimatization of political opponents; the appeals to racism and xenophobia; the hostility to democratic norms. “Trump is less of an outsider than he seems, and he was building on rather than resisting recent trends within the G.O.P.”

And which concluded – depressingly – that “Reading this important book, one gets the nagging sense that even after Trump, Trumpism will persist.”  Let’s hope not.

Which brings us back to “Cultural elites and Trump.”  That is, before starting to read One Nation After Trump, I tried to figure out how Trump got elected in the first place.  I initially wrote:

It finally hit me.  “What’s the attraction with Trump?”  The answer?  Donald Trump is “America showing its ass.”  (Or mooning, to put it more politely.)  Put another way, Trump “represents” – and I use the term loosely – a certain segment of American society which now chooses to thumb its nose at – or more precisely “moon” – both the rest of the world and that “cultural elite” part of American society that it hates so much.

President Trump Fat Shaming Supporter RallyWhich got support in articles like Send Her Back! Send Her Back! – The Bulwark.  It noted “acts of deliberate transgression against what many Trump supporters have come to view as the supposedly stifling ethics of our cultural elites,” and sending ”those damn media types into a tizzy.”  Also that his verbal attacks – though not including the one where he “fat shamed his own supporter ” – are just another “handy weapon for triggering the pearl-clutching libs.”  See also Class warfare between workers and elites explains Trump:

What’s happening in America is an echo of what’s happening in democracies around the world, and it’s not happening because of Trump.  Trump is the symptom of a ruling class that many of the ruled no longer see as serving their interest, and the anti-Trump response is mostly the angry backlash of that class as it sees its position, its perquisites and – perhaps especially – its self-importance threatened.

Which definitely presents a problem for those of us yearning for “the America of past years.”  And especially of past presidents, none of whom now seem so bad.  But now:  Do you see the irony?  Of Liberals and Independents trying to “go back in time,” while today’s “Conservatives” seem bent on tearing out all of America’s democratic institutions root and branch?

But perhaps all is not lost.  One thing that One Nation pointed out – early on – was how slim the margin of victory was.  Aside from losing the popular vote by 2.9 million, “Trump’s victory was a very close-run thing – a matter of 77,744 votes in three crucial states.”  His win was also “enabled” by James Comey reopening a probe into Hillary’s use of a private server while secretary of state, and by Russian interference in addition to hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. (Likely by Russian hackers.)

Yet despite all that help this “monumental shift in the nature of the nation’s political leadership was enabled by relatively modest shifts in the electorate.”  And by voters rejecting Hillary.

Some good news? Such numbers “are critical for understanding how fragile Trump’s hold on the public is.”  (I’ve been saying the best weapon against Trump is his own big mouth.)  Then there’s “Trumpgret,” as in New Hampshire struggle: Voters feeling “Trumpgret.”  So maybe there’s hope that 2020 voters will again reject this ongoing dark side of American politics…

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American As Apple Pie?”  Americans have always hated immigrants…

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The upper image is courtesy of American Anti-immigrant Propaganda – Image Results.

Re:  “Root and branch.”  I Googledtear out root and branch” and got Sadly The Hatred Against Syrian Refugees Is As American As Apple Pie From November 2015, it noted:

As the world faces one of the worst humanitarian crises yet known, several American politicians went out of their way to attack some of the world’s most vulnerable people, continually competing to be the most cruel.

A trend that continues “even to this day.”  The article concluded that we must “fight the bigots who are acting so cruelly to people so desperately in need of aid.”  But we shouldn’t pretend this ongoing sickness is “‘un-American.’ It is a tendency in our history that we must tear out root and branch, but before we do that, we have to realize that it’s there.”  See also Root and branch definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary:If something has been completely changed or destroyed, you can say that it has been changed or destroyed root and branch.”

The “fat-shamed” image is courtesy of Donald Trump Fat Shamed One Of His Own Supporters. The article posted August 16, 2019, in UNILAD, the “British Internet media company and website owned by LADbible Group,” which provides “‘social news. and entertainment to their 60 million followers, and has offices in London and ManchesterUK.”  The caption:  “President Donald Trump accidentally fat shamed one of his own supporters at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire after mistakenly believing them [sic] to be a protester.”  The article went on:  “Trump proceeded to insult a man he believed to be one of the protesters, focusing on his ‘weight problem.’ However, he didn’t realise the man he was fat shaming was actually one of his very own supporters, an individual who had reportedly been flagging the protesters to security.

The references to the “One nation” book are from pages 21-22 of the 2017 hardcover edition.

The lower image courtesy of Anti-Irish sentiment – Wikipedia.  The caption, “American political cartoon by Thomas Nast titled ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things,’ depicting a drunken Irishman lighting a powder keg and swinging a bottle. Published 2 September 1871 in Harper’s Weekly.”  Another image from the same article – at right – was captioned, “An Irishman depicted as a gorilla (‘Mr. G. O’Rilla’).”

Which supports the claim that Americans have always hated immigrants.  See also got Sadly The Hatred Against Syrian Refugees Is As American As Apple Pie, which noted that this American “hatred” goes back as far as 1790:

Just look at the Naturalization Act of 1790, one of the first important pieces of immigration legislation. It limited citizenship to those who were “free white persons.” One year before the passage of the Bill of Rights, those vaunted rights were effectively being limited to white men.  When waves of Irish immigrants came over in the mid-1800s, they were feared and hated, commonly depicted as ape-like by native born whites…  These nativists didn’t just spread hate, they burned Catholic churches, and instigated anti-immigrant riots.  

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Here are more notes from my research on “Trump’s attraction.”

See Trump’s dislike of — and desire to be a part of — the ‘elite.’

“Trump has since made a name for himself – in New York City and, more unexpectedly, in Washington. As he reminded his Minnesota supporters, he won the presidency – which by one definition automatically puts him among the elites: “a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group.”

“By all accounts, Trump supporters . . . exercise the major share of authority and influence within the Republican Party, which is the governing party in the United States.  The group’s values on racial issues, the economy, immigration and other cultural issues has a louder and bolder advocate in the Oval Office than at any other time in recent history.

“But perhaps the reason it is difficult to embrace that definition is because Trump and many of his supporters believe that winning isn’t all that matters.  It matters that you be viewed as a winner.  And for a president who has been quick to lob the label ‘loser’ at those with whom he didn’t find favor, knowing that there are many Americans who don’t want him in their club is a great source of anger.”

See also Elite – Wikipedia, defining the term as a “small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the ‘elite’ are ‘those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type.'”

Or, a “relatively small, loosely connected group of individuals who dominate American policy making. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, media, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers.”

And see Why a lot of Americans resent the cultured “New York City elite.”

“I think this feeling was shared by some of the voters who went for Trump – as well as Brexit beforehand.  Trump, a masterful populist, has manipulated this very real bitterness, raising his 18-carat pitchfork against “liberal elites” for his own political gain.”

It added that a “cultural elite may be disliked for reasons that are as not particularly economic: college professors, experts, NGO staffers and psychotherapists are not corporate titans, after all. It’s a new variation of an old-fashioned populism that is anti-intellectual and anti-expert.

“Trump and his family may be mining this anti-elite anger, but they are, of course, preposterously upscale, living in Trump Tower, attending expensive private schools, flying about in private jets (now with in-flight Secret Service) and dining in five-star restaurants… Republicans are benefitting from the cultural resentment of their non-elite electorate. They also aren’t proposing anything that could make life better for the people who actually live in small towns or in ‘flyover’ states.”

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My own thoughts:  I defined the “elite” as that “portion of American society that has pretty much ruled America during the latter half of the 20th century, and the 21st century as well, up to Election Day, 2016.  Since the end of World War II, the rest of the world has looked at America as that ‘city on a hill’ it has claimed to be since the beginning.  And America has responded – by and large – by accepting the mantle of world leadership.

“And because America is a land of such promise, people from other countries keep trying to come here. But – by and large – they are no longer white, English-speaking and mostly European. Which frightens a large segment of American society.

“Aside from that the mantle of world leadership is heavy. It means not going off half-cocked. It means being responsible, and thinking through what we say and do. And many Americans seem to think we should act more like Russia, imposing our will on the rest of the world by sheer force. Which – from all accounts – is what we used to do in the days of Teddy Roosevelt. And it could be that the Americans who support Trump would love to see a return of a bit of American imperialism.

“On the other hand, if that’s true, why did Russia try so hard to get Trump – not Hillary – elected?”

On “why it might be better…” (Gasp!)

I couldn’t bring myself to headline with, “Why it might be better if Trump got re-elected…”

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I’m no “Trump-humper,” but it seems to me that America might actually be better off if Donald Trump did get re-elected in 2020.  My main concern?  He’d still be eligible to run in 2024, and in the intervening four years – with a Democrat as president – he might just wreak more havoc to American democracy than he could as president.

Think of it.  Trump sitting on the sidelines, humiliated, much as he was when Obama joked, “Donald Trump is here . . . still!”  (Googleobama trump is here still youtube.”)  And think of him still managing to get his face on the “front page,” each and every day, possibly drumming up enough support – or gumming up the works enough – to get himself re-elected in 2028.  (Like Grover Cleveland did in 1884 and 1892 – with four years in between of Benjamin Harrison – thus becoming the 22d and 24th president.)

So wouldn’t it be better to get it over with?  To get rid of Trump once and for all, in 2024?  Then too, if he did get re-elected in 2020, he would immediately become a “lame duck.”

Strictly speaking a “lame duck” is an official “whose successor has already been, or in the near-term will be, elected.”  But it can also refer to a U.S. president who’s been elected to his (or her) second term.  See Lame duck (politics) – Wikipedia, saying the status can be due to “a term limit which keeps the official from running for that particular office again.”

The official is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to their limited time left in office.  Conversely, a lame duck is free to make decisions that exercise their standard powers with little fear of consequence…  Even at the local level, politicians that do not seek reelection to office lose their credibility and influence to fellow councilmen.  Projects uncompleted may fall to the wayside as their influence is greatly diminished.

See also 22d Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Lame Duck: Definition, President, Amendment, Sessions.  The latter noted that any U.S. president winning a second term “automatically becomes a lame duck.”  Then too, because the amendment keeps a president from serving a third term, “He doesn’t have to worry about getting re-elected.”

For another take see Putin won reelection yesterday.  Now he’s a ‘lame duck.’  The March 2018 Washington Post article featured a “quick take on the implications” of the election, with writer Joshua Tucker reaching out “to my colleagues at PONARS-Eurasia.”  One writer said the “key thing that happened Sunday is that Putin formally became a lame duck in a political system dependent on one man.”  (Which sounds eerily familiar.*)  

Another point, from Henry Hale, professor at George Washington University:

While the big result for Putin seems to reflect continuity and stability, Russia now enters a period of unsettling uncertainty.  Here’s the big issue:  Putin cannot run again without changing the constitution.  Positioning for a possible succession struggle is already on the minds of Russia’s political class.

As to that last sentence, “locally” it could be amended to read:  “Positioning for a possible succession struggle is already on the minds of America’s conservative class.”  (In the same way, if Trump got re-elected in 2020 he couldn’t run again in 2024 “without changing the constitution.”)

As for Tucker’s own “two cents…  Even though the next election is six years away, Putin’s ability to control events in Russia will begin to dissipate as soon as it becomes clear he really is not running for reelection in 2024.”  In Trump’s case should he win re-electionhis ability to control events in America will dissipate, because of the 22d Amendment.

See also the Belated 4th of July meditation, which spoke at length about the 22d Amendment and its effect on “The Donald.”  The point?  Whether by “popular” vote in 2020 or operation of law in 2024, Trump will end up leaving the White House.  What happens then?  (Aside from the cheering, the dancing in  the streets, the fireworks and parades.)  For one thing it would begin a new nightmare – for Donald Trump.  (No more “in the news every &^%$ day!”)

But there’s another possible result:  “lame-duck presidents are more concerned with their legacy. They can focus on policies that are less popular, but more far-reaching.”  Which could mean that Trump would no longer have to worry about catering to his wacko base.

One example from history:  “President Ronald Reagan signed an arms control treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev,” and famously asked him to “tear down this wall” in a speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987.  “That was despite his opposition to arms control during his presidency.”  In Trump’s case – and maybe both more concerned with his legacy and less concerned about catering to his base – he might become the man I had such (possible) hopes for.

In 2016’s OTHER “Teflon Don,” I compared Trump to P.T. Barnum.  But – surprise of surprises – Barnum turned out a humane, effective and ethical politician:

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican.  [On slavery] and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with.  It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.”

Which no doubt surprised a number of his supporters.  And from there he got elected Mayor of Bridgeport, CT in 1875, and “worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws.”  And he was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital in 1878, becoming its first president.   Thus Barnum – credited with saying there’s a sucker born every minute – “evolved from a man of common stereotypes . . . to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.”  And maybe – just maybe – Trump could also “evolve.”

So who knows?  If:  1) Trump did get re-elected in 2020, and 2) no longer had to worry about throwing raw meat at his wacko base, and 3) started seriously thinking about his legacy (or developed a conscience, or started appreciating that he’s “closer to the end than to the beginning”), he might actually evolve – as Barnum did – into a “humane, effective and ethical politician.”

Stranger things have happened.  (Though I’m not holding my breath…)

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Jumbo poster 1.jpg

Will Donald Trump’s Greatest Show on Earth continue past 2020? 

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The upper image is courtesy of Unintended Consequences – Image Results.  See also Unintended consequences – Wikipedia.  Also called “unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences,” they’re defined as outcomes “not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action.”  They are grouped into three types:  1) An unexpected benefit (“luckserendipity or a windfall“), or an 2) unexpected drawback or “unexpected detriment” in addition to the desired effect, or 3) a “Perverse result.”  That’ third one is a “perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse). This is sometimes referred to as ‘backfire.”

Re:  I’m no “Trump-humper.”  The term is a short version of Trump-humping evangelical.”  That in turn is a term mentioned in a post in my companion blog, “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other.  It’s based on a reader comment to an article in The Resurgent website entitled, After NPR’s Embarrassment It’s Clear:  We Need More Christians in Media

(A note:  The “Resurgent” is a conservative website started in 2016 by Erick Erickson, a conservative evangelical blogger and radio host famous for making controversial statements.  In one case he took issue with Trump’s saying 2015 debate-moderator Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” while questioning him.  “The next day, Erickson disinvited Trump from a RedState gathering held in Atlanta, calling Trump’s remark ‘a bridge too far’ and that even ‘blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross’ certain lines, including decency.”  But in 2019 Erickson endorsed Trump for re-election in 2020.  For other, more controversial remarks see the Wikipedia article on Erickson.)

So anyway, the comment said,  “We need more serious Christians – not Trump-humping evangelicals – in media.”  Which led to this response, by Patriotmom:  “The serious Christians I know would not call someone a ‘Trump-humping evangelical.’”  Which I said was probably true.  Also, the article actually didn’t say we need more Christians in media; that was the headline writer.  The article writer actually said “What is needed more than anything in the world of mass media today is a substantial influx of new reporters, journalists, and anchors who can speak intelligently about Christianity.”  Which is something entirely different.  

Re:   “Lame duck is free to . . . exercise their standard powers.”  I recognized the incorrect grammar; “lame duck” is singular and “their powers” is plural.  The writer apparently chose not to “gum up the works” by saying “he or she,” or risk offense by using one or the other sex-distinctions.  Likewise I chose not to gum up the works by writing “sic” in brackets, with “sic” loosely translated as “that’s the way the dumbass wrote it!”  Also in the same paragraph, the proper grammar would be “politicians who,” not “politicians that do not seek…”  (Just so you know I’m not the dumbass…)

The Vladimir Putin image is courtesy of Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Putin in KGBc. 1980.”  From 1954 on the KGB was the “main security agency for the Soviet Union.”  It was preceded by agencies like “ChekaNKGBNKVD and MGB . . . acting as internal securityintelligence and secret police.”  Its functions included foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, and “combating nationalism, dissent, and anti-Soviet activities.  In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the KGB was split into the Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.”

Re:  “Eerily familiar.”  An interesting note from the Putin won reelection yesterday article: “Putinism in Russia (coupled with Trump’s assault on checks and balances in the U.S. and cutbacks in U.S. foreign assistance to democratic causes in foreign countries) is likely to eclipse the already dim prospects of democratization in the ex-Soviet states.”

Also re:  “The Donald.”  See 409 Hilarious Nicknames for Donald Trump — Find Nicknames.

The Reagan image is courtesy of Reagan Doctrine – Wikipedia.  

The lower image is courtesy of the Jumbo link within P. T. Barnum – Wikipedia.    

A belated 4th of July meditation…

“American children of many ethnic backgrounds” celebrate July 4th.  (No “send her back” here…)

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United States Declaration of Independence.jpgWe celebrated July 4th over two weeks ago.

But any time is a good time to recall the reason why we celebrate that day.  (When the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.)

And to recall the Declaration’s “self-evident” truths:  1)  that all men (and women) are created equal,  2) that all Americans have a God-given right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,  3) that governments – especially American governments – get their power from and by “the consent of the governed,*” and 4)  that when any American administration tries to destroy those ends, the Sovereign People have the right – if not the duty – to alter or abolish that administration.

And “institute new Government,” in the form of a new administration.

Which brings up the 22d Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  And with it the subject of term limits for the president – the chief executive – of these ostensibly-united states:

Prior to the ratification of the amendment, the president had not been subject to term limits, but George Washington had established a two-term tradition that many other presidents had followed.  [However, in] the 1940 presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to win a third (and later fourth) term, giving rise to concerns about the potential issues involved with a president serving an unlimited number of terms.

And what are those “potential issues?”  As Thomas Jefferson said over 200 years ago:  “If some termination to the services of the chief magistrate [the president] be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally for years, will in fact, become for life; and history shows how easily that degenerates into an inheritance.”

James Madison.jpgWhich is another way of saying that limiting the number of presidential terms is a “vital check against any one person, or the presidency as a whole, accumulating too much power.”  Or as James Madison (at left) added, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judicial in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self–appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Which brings up a 2009 attempt to repeal the 22d Amendment.  The effect was – according to conservatives – to allow “Barack Obama to serve as ‘President for life.'”  See FACT CHECK: Bill to Repeal the 22nd Amendment.  It was introduced by New York representative Jose Serrano, and was the same bill he’d introduced nine times since 1997.  The response from conservatives?

Is THIS really what America wants or needs?  If the just introduced H.J. Res 15 passes, Barack Obama will LEGALLY be able to be our dictator for the remainder of his life.  I surely hope that all liberty loving patriots speak up to their Congressmen and women that 4 years of Barack Obama has been bad enough, we surely don’t need him around running America into the ground for another 40 years.

Another comment compared the Democratic Party with “the Nazis, the Communists, and the Fascists,” because they were ostensibly “moving to posture the U.S. Presidency for succession by one President.”  (But see Trump hints U.S. should nix term limits.)  The writer added, “That’s how Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini became ‘Leaders for Life.’”  Then another voice added:

“Will George W. Bush end up being the last true U.S. President?” asked Sher Zieve…  ”As I warned you on multiple times prior to the 2008 General Election, ‘Once Obama is elected, we won’t be able to get rid of him.’  Tragically, this warning is now being realized.  Not only has Obama established his election-fraud organization ACORN nationwide*, his adherents have now begun the process to repeal the U.S. Constitution’s 22nd Amendment.”

Which brings up the irony of the same lawmakers [being] slow to reintroduce presidential term limit repeal under Trump (“Trump has joked about repealing the 22nd Amendment, including while humorously suggesting that he likes the idea of being ‘president for life,’ a term used to describe Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently consolidated power in the authoritarian country.”) 

See also Do you think Trump will try to repeal the 22nd Amendment(The answer?  No, not effectively anyway.)  My point?  The shoe is on the other foot, metaphorically speaking.

TrumpConservatives wish – and liberals dread – that without the 22d Amendment Donald Trump might well end up “our dictator for the remainder of his life.”  (As he himself has “joked.”  See Trump Jokes About Being President for 16 Years. Or Googletrump joke president for life.”)

Which isn’t going to happen.  Whether by vote in 2020 or operation of law in 2024, Trump will end up leaving the White House.  What happens then?  Aside from the cheering, the dancing in  the streets, the fireworks and parades, a new nightmare will begin – for Donald Trump.

Aside from likely fraud prosecutions in states like New York and California, he will no longer automatically be the center of attention.  He will no longer be able to have his face on the “front pages” of American media.  Eventually he’ll simply be ignored, a harsh punishment – for him – in and of itself.  Then there is Trump’s desire to be a part of the “elite.”

Trump doesn’t just have a problem with those in the exclusive club of elites.  It sounds as if he’s expressing frustration that he is not a part of that select group.  His boasts about his residence, bank account and intelligence sound like someone who wants membership in a club that has repeatedly rejected him.

So by either 2021 or 2025, Donald Trump will no longer have the protection of the White House.  He will no longer be part of the “ruling elite.”  He will be – simply – just one more ex-president.  And he’ll then have to face the reality that a great many Americans loathe him.  More to the point, a great many Americans will no longer see him as “a winner.”

Trump and many of his supporters believe that winning isn’t all that matters.  It matters that you be viewed as a winner.  And for a president who has been quick to lob the label “loser” at those with whom he didn’t find favor, knowing that there are many Americans who don’t want him in their club is a great source of anger.

And that anger may well be returned by the very “deplorables” who ardently support him now.  Like, when they finally realize how little he has actually done for them.  “Trump and his family may be mining this anti-elite anger, but they … also aren’t proposing anything that could make life better for the people who actually live in small towns or in ‘flyover’ states.”

People might even say, “and great was the fall thereof.”  (But the Republic will live on…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Independence Day (United States) – Wikipedia.  I borrowed it from the 2017 post July 4th: “God save the Queen?”  It noted that Puck magazine was noted for its satire, “which is another way of saying that any real American will always retain his or her sense of humor, up to and including the ability to laugh at himself.  (Or herself.)  And that’s another way of saying that no real American will ever be too thin-skinned to do his job.  (Or hers.)

“Not that that observation applies to current events or anything…”  

The full text of the Preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence (Wikipedia):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,  That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation upon such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”  (E.A.)

Re:  “Consent of the governed.”  See also Popular sovereignty – Wikipedia.

Re:  “Chief executive.”  See SparkNotes: The Presidency: The President’s Roles:  The president is “head of the executive branch and is responsible for running the federal bureaucracy and enforcing the laws passed by Congress.”  He – or she, eventually – has the appointment power to nominate members of the cabinet, along with “heads of agencies, federal judges, and about 2,000 lesser jobs.  The Senate must approve these nominations.” 

Re:  Accumulation of power quote.  See Separation of Powers: A System of Checks and Balances.  See also, TOP 25 TYRANNY FOUNDING FATHERS QUOTES.  Another relevant quote from Madison:  “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

Re:  “Acorn nationwide.”  See ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy – Wikipedia.  In 2009, conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe secretly recorded activities at the offices of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a non-profit which – for nearly 40 years – had been involved in “voter registration, community organizing and advocacy for low- and moderate-income people.”  After much media ballyhoo one federal investigation found ACORN hadn’t violated “any federal regulations in the past five years,” but that O’Keefe and Giles “may have violated Maryland and California laws banning the recording of face-to-face conversations without consent of both parties.”  In 2010 the Brooklyn District Attorney‘s office found the videos were “‘heavily edited’ to give a misleading impression,” and that there was no criminal wrongdoing by the ACORN Brooklyn staff.  A law enforcement source added, “They edited the tape to meet their agenda.”

Re:  “And great was the fall thereof.”  See Matthew 7:27, according to the Douay-Rheims and English Revised Version of the Bible.  Which leads to the lower image, courtesy of House Built On Sand – Image Results.  See also Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders – Wikipedia, which “illustrates the importance of building one’s life on obedience to the teachings and example of Jesus.”

A reminder: “I’m an INDEPENDENT (Voter…)”

Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.) - Washington Crossing the Delaware - Google Art Project.jpg

Washington Crossing the Delaware – before political parties could lift up “the unprincipled…”

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I had an interesting conversation last May 2d, at a Saturday-afternoon soccer game.  My Georgia niece’s husband – “nephew by marriage” – was sounding out my political views.

“There’s No Such Thing as a Conservative Christian”: and Other Such Musings on the Faith of the Bible by [Ford, James B.]He’d been goaded by having read – under protest no doubt – the paperback version of my just-published e-book, No such thing as a Conservative Christian(I’d given the two a copy of the paperback version for Christmas.)  He asked if I was conservative or liberal, and I gave him my standard answer – at the time.  I said I was a “Contrarian,” which translates to something like “pissed-off moderate.”

Then just the other day someone on Facebook called me a “liberal.”

Which again threw me for a loop, temporarily.  Being out of practice – away from home for three weeks in Israel, then two weeks on the road trip to Massachusetts – I was tempted to respond that I was a Moderate.  The problem is that these days that sounds wishy-washy.  I also thought of pointing out that I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal.  (“Like most real Americans,” I added.  It seems you have to be a bit “over the top” on Facebook these days.)  Then too – somewhere between last May and now – I toyed with the idea of calling myself a “seeker-after-truth.”  But that sounds a bit pompous.

So as it turns out, none of the three answers I toyed with sounded right, until I remembered a post that I did two years ago – for July 4th – called The Independent Voter.  That post noted the growing number of Independent Voters in this country.  That is, “those voters who don’t align with either major political party, Republican or Democrat:”

An independent is variously defined as a voter who votes for candidates and issues rather than on the basis of a political ideology or partisanship;  a voter who does not have long-standing loyalty to, or identification with, a political party;  a voter who does not usually vote for the same political party from election to election;  or a voter who self-describes as an independent.

To me, the problem with both Conservatives and Liberals is that they both have a “one size fits all” set of standard answers for all of life’s problems.  They each have a preconceived notion of “What is Truth.”  And so – rather than digging out the real Truth – they try ever so hard to find answers to all of life’s problems in a pre-boxed set of canned answers. 

On the other hand, there is that quote from Virgil, “Fortunate is he who understands the cause of things.”  In other words, the one who understands why things happen.  In that way he is much better prepared to keep Reality from coming up and biting him on the ass!  (Metaphorically or otherwise.)  And that – to me – is the big difference between an Independent and either a Conservative or Liberal.  An Independent wants to find the real truth…

Then too there was my post from June 2017, Last year at this time.  It noted that Independent Voters –  “who don’t align with either major political party” – could well have taken their cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson:  “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

Which also makes for the biggest problem we Independents Voters always face:

“One must always choose the lesser of two weevils!”

The point is:  Life isn’t “black and white,” the way ardent liberals and conservatives alike believe.  Everyday life is full or gray areas, as noted in Learning to see things grey:

Turns out that life is full of grey situations.  Life is full of uncertainty.  Full of situations that are neither “Yes” nor “No,” but subject to one of the endless variables in that grey area between black and white.  As humans, we are limited by our subjective perspectives…  Given this limitation, not everything can fit into one of our neat little boxes that we have in our minds and with which we would like to interpret all the situations we encounter in our lives.

And it’s those “neat little boxes” that Conservatives and Liberals alike turn to, for solutions to all of life’s problems.  Or maybe I just don’t trust canned responses, “predetermined responses to common questions.”  Which is why – at one point over the past few years – I considered “Contrarian” to be the best label for me and what I believe.

See for example, ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian:

I think I was pre-disposed to become a Contrarian.  For one thing, I was a public defender for 24 years – before I retired – so I got used to saying things people didn’t like to hear.  For another, I like the idea of a “Devil’s advocate,” which is one of the “see alsos” in the Wikipedia article on Contrarians

But as I found out, in its original meaning a “Devil’s advocate” did holy work.  He too was a “seeker after truth,” albeit with a much more memorable title.  See for example Contrarian – Wikipedia, with a link included therein on “Devil’s advocate:”

The Advocatus Diaboli … was formerly an official position within the Catholic Church;  one who “argued against the canonization (sainthood) of a candidate in order to uncover any character flaws or misrepresentation evidence favoring canonization.”

In other words, the job of the Advocatus Diaboli was to find the truth, which was the same thing Superman came to stand for.  (See Truth, Justice, and the American Way – Wikipedia.)

The problem is, going after the real truth – the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” – can often get you into a lot of trouble.  For example, there’s the Social gadfly concept.  That term refers to a person “who interferes with the status quo of a society or community by posing novel, potentially upsetting questions, usually directed at authorities.”

Then too finding the truth is just half the problem.  Then you have to make it comprehensible.  There’s a lot of “truth” that’s largely beyond the comprehension of many Americans.  (Especially those who need persuading that Donald Trump is “less than meets the eye.”)

Which is – as it turns out – just the problem that Moses, Paul and Jesus all had to face.  (And Socrates as well, as shown at right.)  They all had to “dumb it down” and – in my view – do so mostly for the more conservative among us, then and now.  Or as Colin Powell put it:  “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Even conservatives…

So anyway, Plato used the term “gadfly” to describe Socrates‘s relationship with the people around him and of his time.  He was an “uncomfortable goad* to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse.”

Which sounds pretty appropriate these days as well.

And that brings up another problem.  We know what happened to Socrates, “in his defense when on trial for his life.*”  For that matter, something similar happened to Jesus when He too tried to “shake things up” and help His disciples resist the ongoing temptation to turn too conservative.  The point is, if you are neither a conservative nor a liberal, you don’t have a ready-made set of allies to back you up in a bar fight, metaphoric or otherwise.

“It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

But at the very least I have this:  If anybody asks, I now know what to call myself…

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Daniel Webster argues against the Devil…

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The upper image is courtesy of Washington Crossing the Delaware – Wikipedia.  The quote is from Quote by Washington “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely … to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  (Can you say prescient?)  Then too, Washington could well be the first “independent voter.”

The “No conservative Christian” image is from Amazon.com: Kindle eBooks: Kindle Store.  The link in the text will take you to the paperback version.

Re: The Virgil quote.  See Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas – Wikipedia.  From Verse 490 of Book 2 of the “Georgics” (29 BC), by the Latin poet Virgil (70 – 19 BC), the phrase is variously translated.  For example, John Dryden – (1631-1700) the English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who became England’s first Poet Laureate – translated it: “Happy the Man, who, studying Nature’s Laws, / Thro’ known Effects can trace the secret Cause.”  (In other words, the direct opposite of the person who says “fake news” at every bit of information he or she can’t handle…) 

The “lesser of two weevils” image is courtesy of pinterest.com.  See also Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – YouTubeLesser of Two Evils – TV TropesReader Opinion: Clinton v Trump and “the lesser of two weevils, Master and Commander: A Movie Review – Maccabee Society, and/or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – Wikipedia.

Re:  “Mi Dulce” and me being a Contrarian.  I must admit that there was also a bit of “getting her goat” with such a label, as explained in Phrase Finder:

A commonly repeated story … is that goats were placed with racehorses to keep them calm. When ne’er-do-wells who wanted the horse to race badly removed it, that is, they ‘got someone’s goat,’ [and] the horse became unsettled and ran badly.

For an alternate theory, see Definition of get (one’s) goat – Online Slang Dictionary.

As to the grey – or gray – areas in life, I Googled “real life gray areas” and got almost 11 million results.  Of related interest see Debate Quotes – BrainyQuote, and/or Quote by René Descartes: “If you would be a real seeker:  “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

Re:  Truth, justice and the American way.  An opposing view, Truth, Justice, or the American Way – LELA.  Or for a very long and convoluted – but intriguing – analysis, Truth, Justice, and the American Way | Alternative to AARPAmong other things, it noted, “After World War II, Superman’s foster Dad reminded his son that he must use his super powers ‘in the interest of truth, tolerance, and justice,’ and also that “personal liberty demands personal responsibility.  Liberty and Responsibility go hand in hand.”  From a rough reading I’d say that author too is a bit of Contrarian…

The Cambridge English Dictionary says that to “goad” someone is to “make a person or an animal react or do something by continuously annoying or upsetting them.”

Re: Socrates, and how he ended up.  He was tried and convicted of “both corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of impiety (asebeia, ‘not believing in the gods of the state’), and as a punishment sentenced to death, caused by the drinking of a mixture containing poison hemlock.”

One of Socrates’s purported offenses to the city was his position as a social and moral critic. Rather than upholding a status quo and accepting the development of what he perceived as immorality … Socrates questioned the collective notion of “might makes right…”  Plato refers to Socrates as the “gadfly” of the state (as the gadfly stings the horse into action, so Socrates stung various Athenians), insofar as he irritated some people with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness.  His attempts to improve the Athenians’s sense of justice may have been the cause of his execution.

The lower image is courtesy of Lawsuits against the Devil – Wikipedia.  The full caption, “Daniel Webster argues on behalf of a plaintiff while the Devil whispers into the judge’s ear.”

On a wedding in Hadley…

rehearsalwalk

“Day before” wedding rehearsal.  (I’m sure there’s no “body-language hidden meaning…”)

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Two weeks ago I got back from three weeks in Israel.  Then right away I had to make a dramatic transition:  From free-wheeling world traveler to “weird uncle of the bride.”

Town Hall and First Congregational ChurchWhich is being interpreted:  After my adventures in Tel Aviv – getting lost hiking to the train station, taking the wrong train (away from the airport) and going 26 hours without sleep – I had to begin preparing for an 1,100 mile road trip up to Hadley, Massachusetts.

There my “favorite niece from Utah” was getting married.

*   *   *   *

My latest adventure started after church on Sunday, June 16.  By the time I got out of church and gassed up, it was noon in PTC.  That afternoon I got as far as Knoxville TN.  I wanted to make it to Dandridge, but had a bit of a mixup trying to online-register for a Super 8 there.  (After pulling over during one of several traffic tie-ups on I-75, northwest of Atlanta…  Among other things, to check alternate routes via more scenic but slower back roads.)

To  make a long story short – and after yet another traffic slowdown coming into Chattanooga – I took a fallback position:  I picked up a delightfully-retro Travel Coupon booklet at a convenience store.  (Another bladder break and coffee.)   Then I “proceeded on,” taking more back roads around the south part of the city.  (The good news:  Now I know where the Social Security and county farm offices are in south Chattanooga, should the need ever arise…)

Lonnie Donegan.jpgNext day – Monday, June 17 – I made the Motel 6 in south Harrisonburg VA.  I had considered taking my time and getting to Hadley around noon on Wednesday, but by that Monday night I’d had my fill of motels.

So next morning I got up at 5:00 a.m. and left Harrisonburg in the dark.  I made the West Virginia line by 7:02, the Maryland line by 7:24 and Pennsylvania by 7:34.  Then – at the exit leading to Cumberland Gap Park – the “radio*” started playing “Cumberland Gap,” by the 1950’s Skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan(Best known for his hit single, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight?”)  I figured it was sign from God…  (That “all is well.”)

From there the going was pretty good – until I got through Chambersburg PA.  There was a bad accident on I-81 north of Lebanon and yet another traffic tie-up.  Then a sign beside the interstate noted another lane closure at Mile Marker 117.  So I took more backroads to “bypass resistance;” state roads 443 and 61, over to Pottsville and back up to Interstate 81.  (Well past Mile Marker 117.)  I passed through some cute little Pennsylvania towns and stopped for gas – and another bladder break – in Schuylkill Haven.  There I also got a ready-made chicken salad sandwich on a kaiser roll.  Despite being made at a gas station, it was pretty dang good!

319bridgeI ended up making it to the rental house in Northampton MA – across the Connecticut River from Hadley – by 6:00 PM.  (At right.  As you can see, it was cloudy, overcast and subject to passing bands of rain, as it had been for most of the drive up.) 

To review that part of the trip on the way up:  It took me 54 hours to make about 1,100 miles.  Interstate 81 was – as usual – a pain, with clusters of tractor-trailers trying to pass each other like slow-moving turtles that blocked both lanes so well.

On the other hand, Interstate 88 east from Binghamton NY was much better.  It passed through beautiful rolling hills, and farmland – and not much traffic.  And the New York Thruway (I-90, around Albany and south over to Massachusetts) was a very pleasant surprise.

The Tuesday night I arrived, my brother and sister-in-law were over at “the Kelly’s” – the future in-laws – doing their early part of getting ready for the wedding.  So I puttered around the rental house, finding the washer and dryer – much needed – along with how to get my stair-stepping equipment easily into the basement.  Not to mention a place to store my kayak.

On that note, the early part of Wednesday (6/19) I spent two hours and 24 minutes kayaking on the Connecticut River.  (Which runs between Northampton and Hadley.)  I put in near Elwell State Park, which has a footbridge from the Northampton bank to an island in the middle of the river, then onto the Hadley side.  For that bout of kayaking there was SOME sun, but not much.

Later that Wednesday we all had dinner with the future in-laws.

tentOn Thursday we got down to work.  The main wedding party started working on “favors.”  I helped most by staying out of the way.  (As in “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”)  And by reading a first (1908) edition of Kipling’s “The Light That Failed.”

I made up for it on Friday by helping set up a tent-full of tables and chairs.  (As shown above left, completed.)  Then the wedding rehearsal finally started.  (A good bit after the scheduled 6:00 p.m. start time, but the happy couple was “not hung up on that deadline thing!”)  That’s when I took the photo of the father of the bride and bride-to-be, heading down the “aisle,” as shown at the top of the page.

Then came the final preparations the morning and early-afternoon of the wedding day, June 22.  Then came the count-down:  4:52 p.m. “It shan’t be long now!”  Then the Officiant getting some last-minute instructions, as shown by a photo in the notes below.

And finally – at or about 5:43 p.m. – it became official.  They were married!

And then – It was TIME TO DANCE!

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dancepic

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I took the upper-photo image on June 21, 2019.

The Wikipedia caption for the Hadley MA image is “Town Hall and First Congregational Church.”

Re:  “The radio.”  I do have a radio in my car but mostly listen to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Re:  Lonnie Donegan, and his “Skiffle” style.  Wikipedia:  “With a washboardtea-chest bass and a cheap Spanish guitar, Donegan played folk and blues songs by artists such as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie.  This proved popular,” beginning in 1954.  Later Donegan “went on to successes such as “Cumberland Gap” – later to be the sign from God, as noted – and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?), his biggest hit in the U.S…  He continued in the UK charts until 1962, before succumbing [sic] to The Beatles and beat music.” lastminuteinstructions

Re:  “Final preparations.”  They included the Wedding Officiant – to the right, with beard – getting last-minute instructions.