Category Archives: Politics

“I used to be quiet and shy, all moderate and nicey-nicey…”

“Quiet, shy, moderate, nicey-nicey?” That doesn’t work in the face of armed insurrection

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I started this post back before the January 6 Capitol riot. That pre-riot post started, “Now that the Trump Era is almost over.” Which apparently isn’t quite true. Given the events of January 6 and after, we may be hearing a lot more – from or about – “the Donald.” (And maybe for a good long time to come.) But the quotation-and-link actually referred back to a post I did even before then. That is, on December 7, 2020. And early in that 12/20 post I added this:

Or at least now that his first run-through as president is almost over… (But see Trump’s Possible 2024 Bid Leaves Other GOP Candidates in a Bind.) So to repeat, “Now that at least the first incarnation of a Trump Era is almost over,” it’s time to start looking back. 

The post went on to talk of “Year-End Reviews” and how helpful they can be. For one thing It’s that time of year to both look back and look forward. To look back at the Trump era – and especially at this past year – and to look forward to a new beginning.”

Donald TrumpAs to going back, I noted a post from November 8, 2016, ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian. (With the image at right.) I’ll get back to that one, but there was another from November 13, 2017, This time last year – 11/8 and 11/13/16. And believe it or not, the latter started out: “It’s mid-November [2017], and so time to start taking stock of the year just past. (And what a year it’s been!)”

Which was pretty much what I planned to say when the year 2020 finally came to an end. (And in hindsight, 2020 was more “a crazy-ass year” than 2017.) But getting back to 2016, here’s what I wondered, back in that long-ago November, right before Election Day 2016:

I wondered if Trump might “evolve into something neither his ardent supporters nor his rabid opponents expect.” I also wondered if “Showman Donald Trump” had actually played his “far-right conservative” supporters “like a piano.” And finally, I wondered if – given “Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions” – he would “eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

I supposed that the jury was still out on those questions. But four years later, “to be honest – I’m one of those people suffering from Trump fatigue.”  (And that was even before the January 6 Capitol riot.) I was – some months ago – “ready for it to be over.” And now it is over – more or less – so I’ll focus on some good thoughts, from some past posts…

Which means getting back to Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

To finish that thought: It’s been a long haul, but over the last four years I’ve evolved, from being a “moderate” (all “nicey-nicey”), to a Contrarian, and from there to an Independent. (Used in a sentence, “Why would anyone not want to be an Independent, like Moses and Jesus and me. (Oh my!)”)

By the way: I never would have said anything like that four years ago. Which is another way of saying that over the last four years I’ve grown more outspoken. Which was part of the process of struggling with how to deal with Trump supporters. Especially since one of them was “Mi Dulce,” now an ex-BGFE with whom I am now still in regular contact. (And using the term “girl” loosely.) As I often ended up saying to her – trying to get a word in edgewise – “I used to be all quiet and shy, all moderate and nicey-nicey. But not no more!*

I.e., I had to learn to speak up and speak out with her, if only to get a word in edge-wise.

Which is one big benefit of Trump’s four years as president. (Along with making George W. Bush look like a frikkin’ genius, and making Obamacare popular again. As opposed to the arch-conservative plan, “let ’em die!”) Not mention proving how strong we are as a nation. (Like, we can elect someone totally unqualified as president, and not only survive but prosper… Well, aside from all the mass-shooting deaths,* not to mention a fumbled COVID response.)

But we’re digressing. Back to my personal development, based on four years of Trump. The point is, “No more ‘quiet and shy, all moderate and nicey-nicey.'” At the beginning of that journey, I found out that calling myself a moderate ended up sounding too wishy-washy. (As in “average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree.”) So I tried calling myself a Contrarian, in the mold of Ralph Waldo Emerson. (“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”)

Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.) - Washington Crossing the Delaware - Google Art Project.jpgOr this: As someone who “takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be.” But that didn’t sound quite right either. I wasn’t always opposed to popular opinion. (For example, look at the “popular opinion” of 81 million American voters in the last election.) So eventually – over the last four years – I ended up changing from being a Contrarian to an Independent, “just like Moses and Jesus.” (See July 2019’s A reminder: “I’m an INDEPENDENT (Voter),” featuring the image above right. And which included a note that – to me – the word “Contrarian” translates to something like “pissed-off moderate.”)

Meanwhile, back to where it all started, with Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump making me an Independent. That post from November 2016 started, “It’s the eve of Election Day, 2016, and thus a time for reflection.” I said that no matter who won the election, the “’war for the soul of America‘ will go on. It will continue largely unabated.” As we have discovered.

I added some words of explanation: For one thing the Internet says Mi Dulce is Spanish for “My Sweet,” and that’s what I called “the lady I’ve been ‘dating’ some time now.” (As well as after we parted ways for good, at least “that way.” Example: As of November 2016 she had “broken up with me at least 10 times,” in part because of her “ardent conservativism.” (A more polite term than “Trumpie,” “Trump-humper,” Trumpanzee,” or “right wing wacko.” RWW for short.)

Getting back to Mi Dulce: When we first met, I was “moderate and nicey-nicey.”  (Like Aristotle.) I used to say – or at least think – things like, “Let’s not rush to judgment!”  Or, “Let’s wait until we get all the facts before we say anything that might be taken the wrong way!” However:

The problem is that in my neck of the woods – especially with … Mi Dulce – that moderate, reasoned, common-sense approach will get you nothing but bowled over. [As in] hearing something so “whacked” that you are rendered temporarily speechless with disbelief.  

And I learned one more thing about RWWs. They tend to use the 8-track mode of public discourse. If you’re under 65, you probably don’t remember this “magnetic tape sound recording technology,” popular in the U.S. from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. (That’s when “the Compact Cassette format took over.”)

The thing about 8-track tape-recordings was that they never stopped. You never got to the end. They used a “continuous loop” system. That’s why they didn’t have a rewind option. As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again. The same “data,” the same songs played in the same order over and over again. Which I thought was “pretty much like trying to have a meaningful conversation with a right-wing wacko…”

Which I thought at the time should make it easy to figure out how to best an RWW in an argument. (In the good sense, as in a “form of expression consisting of a coherent set of reasons presenting or supporting a point of view.” Note the operative word, “coherent.”)

But I was wrong. Those RWW’s never cease to amaze me. Like if I get stuck watching some FOX News – ordering my morning iced coffee at a local McDonald’s – I find myself thinking, “Do you guys ever get tired of lying?” The answer? Apparently not. See for example, Donald Trump Has Told A Truly Disturbing Number Of Lies Since Taking Office, and since the 2020 election as well. And his attorneys have taken up the “creative lie” method as well. See Trump’s Impeachment Defense: One Long String of Lies (Broken Up by Madonna Clips.) With one note, “In fairness, their client is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, so they didn’t have much to work with.”   

Which means the rest of us have to adapt or perish. The good news? We – the “rest of us” – already know how to adapt. As Darwin said, it’s not the strongest or smartest people who survive. It’s those who can best adapt or adjust to a changing environment. Which spells bad news for Trumpies, Trump-humpers or Trumpanzees. They are the people least able to adapt or adjust to changing circumstance. (For example, refusing to wear masks at mass rallies.)

All of which could be great news for the rest of us! 

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The upper image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on the January 6 Capitol riot

Another note from “the eve of Election Day, 2016… Whatever the outcome tomorrow, we’re in for more turmoil.  The “war for the soul of America” will go on. It will continue largely unabated… [W]hoever becomes the next president, he or she will face rabid hostility from close to half the American population.  Which means in turn that he or she will face the prospect of impeachment, or at least a realistic threat of impeachment.” Emphases in original.

The “lions and tigers” image is courtesy of Lions And Tigers And Bears Wizard Of Oz – Image Results.

Re:  “I used to be all quiet and shy, all moderate and nicey-nicey. But not no more!” I used the vernacular improper English for emphasis.

RE: “W” as a genius. See Bush says Trump ‘makes me look pretty good’ by comparison.’

Re: Mass shooting deaths. See An update on “Trump’s” mass shootings, from May 2019, with numbers updated on August 20, 2019. (“BC,” or “Before Covid.”) The post noted a total of 652 mass shootings in Trump’s first two years, “four times greater than Obama’s eight years, in one-fourth the time.” (Four times as many mass shootings in Trump’s two years than in Obama’s eight years.) Which brings up another benefit: Thanks to Covid the number of mass shootings went way down in 2020.  

Re: War for the soul of America. I noted that Googling “war for the soul” got me 13,400,000 results.

Re: “Adapt or perish.” The link is to Adapt to Change or Perish. Because those are your only options. The full Charles Darwin quote is below, but the article added the saying by H. G. Wells“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” The full Darwin quote:

“It is not the most intellectual or the strongest species that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to or adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

It’s a pretty good article on the constancy of change, something “we” need to be reminded of. (Especially those of us turning “the Big Seven-Oh” next July.) With added thoughts like: “Progress keeps picking up speed…the complexity of our world keeps on increasing…and the rate of change keeps on accelerating.” And “Let’s just accept the fact that our careers will be lived out in a state of constant transition.” And that we should therefore “prepare for a work environment that is fluid, fuzzy, and fast.” And finally that we will “forever be surrounded by uncertainty and instability.”

Which is why I love blogging. “It’s so frikkin’ educational!”

Re: Trump supporters not wearing masks. See Trump supporters say masks are harmful, would wear if Trump said so. Or ‘Magically protected’: Why hardcore Trump supporters won’t wear masks at rally: “‘It’s not going to touch you at the rally,’ author Jeff Sharlet says of hardcore Trump supporters’ belief in the divinity and ‘spiritual protection’ of a Trump rally against coronavirus, ‘You’ll be sort of magically protected.’” Some people have said that’s “God’s Way of Thinning the Herd,” but I would never say anything so inappropriate. See also Urban Dictionary: Thin the herd

As for that “great news for the rest of us” comment. It was a joke. See 11 times Trump’s offensive comments were ‘just a joke.’ Including “Trump floats injecting disinfectent as coronavirus cure,” “I am the Chosen One,” and “Obama is the ‘founder of ISIS.'”

The lower image is courtesy of Trump Fatigue Syndrome | National Review:

A large part of the country suffers from Trump Fatigue Syndrome. This is related but not identical to Trump Derangement Syndrome. The sufferers of Trump Fatigue aren’t driven mad by the president. They are just tired of having to wake up every morning to another of his sudden attacks, reversals, exaggerations, and boasts. They want the show to end.

As to that fatigue, the link in the main text is to Trump fatigue is setting in hard at the worst moment for his campaign, posted two weeks before the 2020 election. But see also the thoughtful piece from November 8, Democrats counted too heavily on ‘Trump fatigue,’ to explain why and how “former Vice President Joe Biden’s expected landslide turned into a grim, nail-biting election.”

“You DO understand that Trump is temporary…”

A post based on a draft from a year ago – February 5, 2020. (And yes, “pretty much ‘avoidable.'”)

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January 9, 2021 – I last edited the rough draft that became this new post  on February 5, 2020.

You know, a year ago when Donald Trump was riding high, and looked a shoe-in for re-election? But here’s the punchline, based on events this past week (illustrated at the top of the page):

And now he’s even more so!!! 

The Great Democracies, 1958 (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Book 4) by [Winston S. Churchill]More temporary that is… Which brings us back to nearly a year ago, February 5, 2020. I wrote back then that I often had trouble staying asleep. (Worrying a lot about the future of this country.) I wrote that lately, “at night – when I can’t get back to sleep around 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. – I’ve taken to reading Winston Churchill‘s The Great Democracies. (Volume 4 of his History of the English-Speaking Peoples.) And it’s given me great comfort, helping me focus on the long view of our present political divisiveness.” (See Take the long view – Idioms.)

Which I tried to do last Wednesday, after hearing of rioting at the U.S. Capitol. (Otherwise known as the “‘Banana Republic Crap’ Capitol Riots,” according to one Republican member of Congress.) And I largely succeeded – in taking the long view – mostly because I don’t have cable TV. And then, lo and behold, on Thursday and Friday things started looking up. Former Trump allies were saying “enough is enough,” 52 rioters had been arrested, and even some staunch Republican Senators were open to impeachment or use of the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

Which brings up another point. Right now I wouldn’t want to be in Donald Trump’s shoes.

Why? Because the metaphoric “noose” is tightening around his neck ever so slowly, but surely, in an agonizing foretaste of what’s in store once he leaves the protection of his office. (See “The rope has to tighten SLOWlY,” vis-a-vis what “Deep Throat” told reporter Bob Woodward about the 1974 conspiracy investigation against then-president Richard Nixon – and his minions – as told in the book, later a movie, All the President’s Men.) But we digress…

Getting back to the long view (and being able to sleep better at night): Back in the February 2020 rough draft, I also noted reading “One nation after Trump,” then reviewing it. (That is, I reviewed the book back in August 2019.) That post talked about the prediction in 2016 – by Professor Allan Lichtman – that Trump would be “impeached within two years.” (Note: It actually took three years, but the issue is now being raised again. Does that count?)

One positive note? That the reaction to Trump’s presidency “can provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.” I also noted that the number-crunching on the 2016 election showed “how fragile Trump’s hold on the public is.” To which I added, “I’ve been saying the best weapon against Trump is his own big mouth.” Not to mention his hubris. (“What? You mean I can’t tell supporters to storm the Capitol, and not be held responsible?”)

Third, I noted something I’d written in a previous post, 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.'”

And finally – getting back to that year-ago rough draft – I wrote that Trump wants – more than anything else – to be seen as a winner. Yet that when he leaves office there will almost certainly be an uproar of cheering, celebration, fireworks, and dancing in the streets, both in America and throughout the world. (And based on the past week, that seems even more likely, with the celebrations to come on January 20 even more raucous and heart-felt.)

Moreover – I wrote – that virtual certainty will gall Trump no end, in both the near future and to the end of his days. So in a sense Trump was doomed to be viewed as a “loser.” Unless! 

Unless – if he was elected to a second term, and so freed from a need to pander to his wacko base – Trump were to develop a conscience and start thinking seriously about his legacy.

[W]ho 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 [P.T.] Barnum did – into a “humane, effective and ethical politician.”

It now looks like that last thought turned out to be a pipe dream. (See GOP Rep. Mace: Trump’s legacy ‘wiped out’ by Capitol riot.) A pipe dream is an unrealistic hope or fantasy. Moreover, “The phrase ‘pipe dream’ is an allusion to the dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes.” Or in the alternative, a “plandesire, or idea that will not likely work; a near impossibility.” Which is kind of like the thought that an impeachment, conviction and removal from office can all happen within the space of 10 days. But not to worry. January 20th is coming…

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Pipe dream

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The upper image is courtesy of Trump News – Image Results. With an article, Aides shaken by Trump’s behavior during riots – One News Page.

On the subject of today’s political divisiveness. See Why Has America Become So Divided? | Psychology Today. See also my post from August 2, 2019, On “why it might be better…” (Gasp!) That is, why it might be better if Trump did get re-elected. On that note see also Make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – Idioms. (To “fashion something beautiful or valuable out of poor materials.”)

Re: Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It deals with presidential succession and disability, and says the vice president becomes president if the president dies, resigns, or is “removed from office.” It also allows a “temporary transfer of the president’s duties to the vice president, either by the president alone or by the vice president together with a majority of the president’s cabinet. In either case, the vice president becomes acting president.”

For more interesting reading – somehow tied in with the February 2019 rough draft – see Trump Is A Liberal – Arc Digital, a fascinating discussion of why he’s both “liberal” and dangerous:

As a public figure, Trump … seems constitutionally incapable of metaphysical commitment; he might even be constitutionally incapable of thinking about the good of other people. He is, in other words, a typical product of American society. He is, like nearly all of us, a liberal.

The writer’s point was that “liberalism, which both the Republican and Democratic parties endorse, has slowly eroded the foundation of our society until communal stories, bonds, and shared goals have been washed away, leaving our society fragmented and uncertain of itself.” 

Joel Looper – who wrote the piece – is according to his articles, “Editor and Founder of thecommonpolitic.com. Senior fellow in theology at tdbi.org. Bonhoeffer’s America (forthcoming from Baylor University Press.)” Beyond that there’s not much about him and his views, although he does seem to specialize in the plague on both your houses school of thought. Thus his conclusion that Trump is a liberal: “And that is what makes him dangerous.”

Further, by its own admission “The Common Politic exists in order to build trust and fruitful political dialogue among people of faith. While we hold many different political commitments, we aim to foster in this community a common politic, a way of interacting with others that Christians might call ecclesial or perhaps Spirit-empowered life.” Still More: “Joel Looper has a PhD from the University of Aberdeen. His first book, ‘A Protestantism without Reformation: What Dietrich Bonhoeffer Saw in America’, is forthcoming from Baylor University Press.” Other articles by him include Sex Was Never Safe. Why consent is not enough in the post-Weinstein eraThe logical, and theological, problem with Red Letter Christians, and To Change The Church. Ross Douthat’s war with Catholic Liberalism. I thus conclude that he is at the very least thought-provoking, and so I may be reading more of his essays…

The lower image is courtesy of Pipe Dream – Image Results.

Now that the Trump Era is almost over…

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Now that the Trump Era is almost over…

Or at least now that his first run-through as president is almost over… (But see Trump’s Possible 2024 Bid Leaves Other GOP Candidates in a Bind.) So to repeat, “Now that at least the first incarnation of a Trump Era is almost over,” it’s time to start looking back. 

Which is what many of us do near year’s-end anyway. I Googled “why do we do year-end reviews” and found these two: How to Conduct a Year-End Review and Why You Need to Do it, and Why You Should Do a Year-End Review for Your Writing. Here’s a bit from the first one:

Ever since I began writing personal goals, December has been a month of reflection and planning. I tend to slow down, take a step back, and think about how I feel the previous year went. I take time to reflect on what I accomplished and what I want in the upcoming year.

Then there’s the Review for Your Writing article. (And since I’m a writer I paid special attention to that. E.g., read about my recently-published e-book in “(Some of) My Adventures in Old Age.”) Anyway, this is what the writer  said about such year-end reviews:

A year-end review is about experiencing gratitude … that we made the choice to write instead of watch television or procrastinate… It’s important to note that this isn’t just a feel-good exercise. You can’t move forward – with your writing, your life, or anything else – if you haven’t made peace with where you’ve been.

Which is what I’ll be doing a lot of in the remaining three-or-so weeks of this eventful “Year of Our Lord2020. But we were talking about “Now that the Trump Era is almost over…”

Which makes this a good time to go back and review some early posts I did on Donald Trump. And – possibly – some of the hopes I had for him. Like that he might turn out to be the “closet liberal” Ted Cruz once suspected. (See Cruz: Trump [is] a ‘rich, New York liberal,’ 2/26/16.)

One early post with an allusion to Donald Trump came in October 2016, “No city for Grouchy Old White People.” (Part I.) In it I described a summer visit to New York City, with a family-base in Staten Island. One thing I noted was that – in that summer of ’16 – the City was a “refreshing reminder that there’s more to this country than just the right-wing wackos so prevalent back home.” (Trump’s campaign was heating up.) I quoted a Facebook post from September 22:

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!

Which was either irony or sarcasm. (I often get those two confused.) Anyway I ended Part I by noting that with all its diversity and relative tolerance, “the Big Apple is ‘No city for Grouchy Old White People.’” (Who seemed to be so prevalent, “back home” and elsewhere.)

I followed that with “No city for Grouchy Old White People” – Part II. I noted that on our many rides on the subway and Staten Island Ferry, “we did a lot of people-watching, of the ‘passing panoply.’” And especially on the crowded subways, we listened “to all kinds of languages spoken by all kinds of different people.” Which was one thing making the visit so refreshing…

And just as an aside: The day we left to go our separate ways – Thursday, September 22 – I kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows. Mostly following the Bridge of the same name, and here’s a picture “down below” to prove it. I took it half-way back to Staten Island. Note that the waters are choppy, and in fact WAY choppier than when I started. It only took 20 minutes to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn, so I toyed with the idea of cruising along the Atlantic side of Brooklyn awhile. But I headed back while still fresh, as detailed in “Part II.”

Anyway, getting back on topic: I ended Part II with a zinger about the kind of people – I feared – who would end up voting for Trump as president. I took the photo below during our visit to the Museum of Natural History, on September 19. And added, “With all the talk of politics lately, I figured this would be a good one size fits all insult, for whatever political opponent you may have in mind.” (Though I knew the kind of political opponent I had in mind.) I then wrote:

“So here’s my gift to you, a souvenir from my recent [2016] visit to New York City:

Here’s a typical [- fill in the blank – ] voter!”

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The upper image is courtesy of Looking Back The Past Year – Image Results. The image accompanied an article, “Inspiring Quotes to Start Off the New Year in 2019.” (How innocent we were…) 

I took the above picture on September 19. Note that I reviewed this Summer of 2016 visit in Looking back on “the summer of ’16,” last February 2020. One final note: I’ll be doing more Trump’s-end and year-end postmortems in the remaining weeks of December 2020, and possibly beyond! 

On “270 to win” – August 2020…

The Making of the President 1960 – or is this the year to be “the unmaking of the president?”

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One thing that surprised me – greatly – about the 2016 election was the disconnect. That is, the difference between pre-election polling and what finally happened. (In other words, “so many forecasts were off the mark.” In further words, I wasn’t the only one surprised; see the notes. )

In plain words there was huge “disconnect” between pre-election perception and reality. (“What actually happened.”) For example, one friend said confidently a day or two before the election that Trump would end up conceding by 11:00 p.m. election night. On the other hand, many state-by-state polling – while showing Clinton ahead – were well within the designated margins of error.

Heading in to Election Day 2016, I kept track of the polls “religiously.” (After all, there was a lot at stake, wasn’t there?) All that summer and into the fall I kept tracking. And to be honest, I drew some comfort from polls showing Clinton leading. But I wasn’t nearly as confident as my friend about when – and if – Trump would concede. (Remember the hubbub about his saying he wouldn’t accept the results if he lost?)  In fact I was so surprised – on election night and many days after – that I was reluctant to start keeping track again for this time around. (See jinxing.)

But here we go again… This time I want to keep track of pre-election polling – In black and white – so that if there is another “foul up” I may better understand why, and “what Happened.” (But I’d much rather enjoy the celebrating, the fireworks and the dancing in the streets.) 

But seriously… For starters we can recognize that national polls are meaningless. The president is not elected by popular vote. What matters is the number of votes he (or she, eventually) gets in the Electoral College. For example, I remember reading Ted White‘s book, The Making of the President 1960. It mirrored what Wikipedia called a “closely contested election.”

But it wasn’t really “close,” even though – as both White and Wikipedia emphasized – Kennedy “won the national popular vote by 112,827, a margin of 0.17 percent.” (And some say Nixon should have been credited with the popular vote victory, because that “popular vote was complicated by the presence of several unpledged electors in the Deep South.”) But – as happened in the 2000 and 2016 presidential election – the popular vote didn’t matter in 1960. It didn’t matter who won what has now become a near-worthless consolation prize.

Where it counted – in the Electoral College – Kennedy won by 303 votes to 219.* Or you could say 84 more Electoral votes. In plain words, Kennedy won with 38 percent more electoral votes than Nixon, not “0.17 percent.”

And so it may be in the 2020 election. Which means I started researching four websites that track state-by-state polls in the Electoral College. First, 2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map. Next, 2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map – Electoral Vote Map. That’s a product of Political Wire, founded by Taegan Goddard and “one of the oldest left-wing and most influential political blogs and news aggregate sites on the internet.” (See also Political Wire – Wikipedia.) A third site is ElectoralVote(Electoral-vote.com, and yes it can be confusing.)

As of August 29, ElectoralVote – the third one – had Biden with 388 electoral votes, Trump 132 and 18 “ties.” (I’m assuming the “ties” are in the most recent polling.) That includes 213 “strongly Dem” and 90 votes “likely Dem,” which puts Biden over the top with those two alone. “Likely Dem” votes include Wisconsin’s 10 with Biden leading the polls 50-41; Michigan’s 16 split 50-42 Biden; Pennsylvania’s 20 split 49-43 Biden; Florida’s 29 split 49-43; and Arizona’s 11 split 47-38.

And for purposes of comparison, as of August 29 Trump had 81 electoral votes “strongly GOP” and 39 “likely GOP.” So his combined “strongly” and “likely” total of 120 is about half – 56% – of Biden’s “strongly Dem” standing alone. But again, that’s according to ElectoralVote.

According to Goddard’s left-wing Presidential Election Interactive Map, Biden has 320 electoral votes to Trump’s 125, with 93 “toss ups.” But Goddard has ElectoralVote‘s Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona all solidly Democrat, while ElectoralVote has those states “likely Dem.” And incidentally, Goddard’s map is “based on the consensus” of forecasts, including but not limited to Cook Political Report, and Inside Elections, along with “the latest polling data from FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics and Electoral-Vote.com.”

Then there’s 2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map. That site has Biden with 278 electoral college votes to Trump’s 169. But it includes a proviso, “Democratic candidate wins in your scenario. No combinations remain for Republicans to win.” The problem is I clicked on some of the states, thinking that might give better information about percentages, and that may have messed up some of the figures. That is, it’s not my scenario that I’m interested in. I’m interested in the reality of what’s happening in each state, as that affects the electoral college vote. So the fact that it’s Interactive – and that I interacted with it, though inadvertently – concerns me a bit.

Then there’s a fourth website, Biden vs Trump: US presidential election 2020 poll tracker. I found it much more user-friendly because it listed the solid, leaning and toss-up states by name, not on some “stupid map.” Further, it listed and/or ranked those states in order of the number of electoral votes each had, with California’s 55 leading the list. And that website showed – as of August 27 – Biden with 203 solid and 95 leaning electoral votes, while Trump had 80 solid and 39 leaning votes. And 121 “toss up” votes.

So even if Trump won all the “toss-ups” – according to this site – and Biden held his 203 solid and 93 leaning, Biden would still win. And in four of those toss-up states – Florida (29), Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10) – Biden has a polling lead of five points or more.

So the Electoral College polling math definitely favors Biden, regardless of what national-polling figures may show. For example, August 29th’s New poll shows Biden’s lead over Trump shrinks.

It led with a note that right after the Republican convention, Biden’s “lead” dropped from nine points at the end of July to six points after the convention. But check “yougov’s” website and you’ll see the lead thought, Explore what America thinks | YouGov. But again, it’s not what America thinks as a whole that matters. It’s not a “national popularity contest.” What matters is what Americans think in their individual states. Further, that article added:

The new Yahoo News-YouGov poll shows that nearly every voter in America has made up his or her mind, with 96 percent Biden and Trump supporters now saying they have decided how they will vote — up 2 percent from when the same voters were surveyed in late July. Only 8 percent remain undecided.

And it looks like Trump will need every one of those “eight percenters” to vote for him to get re-elected. (But then even that may not be enough.) But still it’s only the end of August, and there’s a little over two months left before the election. Meanwhile, I’ll keep tracking state-by-state Electoral College polls, looking for any major shifts.  It’s called prognostication

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Another prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil: How will Phil feel this next February 2?

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The upper image is courtesy of Book Making Of The President – Image Results. The image is part of an ad in Etsy – Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts: “Find things you’ll love. Support independent sellers. Only on Etsy.” The caption: “Collector’s [Edition?] The Making of the PRESIDENT 1960 Theodore H White Illustrated American Past Book of the Month Club Collectible Book Decor Table.” See also The Making of the President 1960 – Wikipedia. The book “recounts and analyzes the 1960 election in which John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States.” Further:

The book traces the 1960 campaign from the primaries … to the conclusion of the general election contest against Richard Nixon. Much of the narrative is written in an almost novelistic style, describing politicians’ looks, voices and personalities. But it also contains thought-provoking discussions of various trends in American life and politics.

Also about that 2016 election: I read an article of interest, Polls Versus Reality in 2016. Numbers: The Good and the Bad. Some conclusions: 1) “[T]hat so many forecasts were off the mark was surprising, given the increasingly wide variety of methods being tested and reported via the mainstream media and other outlets.” (So I wasn’t alone.) 2) “Most national polls had Clinton winning the popular vote by a fair margin, and that turned out to be fairly accurate.” (But irrelevant, as noted.) And 3) the “Shy Trumper effect… Voting for Trump is considered socially undesirable by some people… they don’t want to admit it either to an interviewer on the phone or to pollsters … and then when they get in to the voting booth, who they actual vote for is not the same person they told pollsters they were going to voter for.” (Ellipses in original.) Though it’s hard to imagine “shy Trumpsters” this time…

Re: “Kennedy won by 303 votes to 219.” For math majors and others of that ilk, that totals 522 electoral college votes, not the current 538. As to what accounted for the “missing 16,” I researched the issue but was unable to find a definitive answer, as of press time mean.

The lower image is courtesy of Prognosticate – Image Results. it was accompanied by an article, “Spring is coming: US groundhogs prognosticate during polar vortex.” (Washington Examiner, February 2019.) See also Groundhog Day – Wikipedia, on the American tradition based on the “Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks; but if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.” 

An early post-mortem – and “a look at last year…”

Independent voters try to keep the Ship of State from keeling over – here, ‘too far to the right…'”

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My last post was On my “new” Missouri River canoe trip, back on July 5, 2020.

Canoe on Manitou Bluffs regionMy “Adventurous Brother” and I completed the trip. (115 river miles down the Missouri River, from South Sioux City to Omaha, Nebraska.) We left South Sioux City at 2:30 the afternoon of July 9, and got to Omaha at 5:00 the afternoon of July 12. In between – and before, for that matter – there were distractions, complications and near-disasters. (An 80-mile-an-hour windstorm for one.) But we came through, “Mission Accomplished!” The only problem is that a full postmortem account will take time, and I’m long overdue to submit a new blog-post.

So, I decided to take a look at “this time last year.”

What I found was three year-old draft-projects that I never finished, so here goes. One project was “On partisan gerrymandering,” on the then-just-released Supreme Court case, Rucho v. Common Cause. (Of which more later.) The second unfinished project was the start of a new book – composed of a series of posts herein? – tentatively titled.”My adventures in old age.” Of which the recent Missouri River canoe trip was an example. Meanwhile, the original title of this post was supposed to be “Wanna beat Trump? Laugh at him!” And it featured the “Independent voters … Ship of State” lead image and caption at the top of the page.

That unfinished post was based in part – and was a partial review of – a book, The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder, by Sean McFate. (“82nd Airborne veteran, former private military contractor, and professor of war studies at the National Defense University.”) 

The book offered ten “new” rules for victory, and Rule Five is “The best weapons do not fire bullets.” And one of those non-bullet new weapons was – humor. There’s more on other such weapons in the notes, but the key point came in this set of observations:

Google “humor as a weapon,” and you’ll get sites like Humor is a weapon – so you better learn how to use it. Which offered the following quotes:  “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter,” by Mark Twain. Also “Wit is a dangerous weapon, even to the possessor, if he knows not how to use it discreetly.”  (Michel de Montaigne, the French writer (1553-1592) “one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight.) Then there’s this full quote:

Authority is a natural target the world over for comics. Remember it, cherish it, use it. People all around the world hate their leaders, their systems, the powers they have to labor under.  This humor is nihilistic – no one is too powerful or too pure to be beyond reproach. Just remember lots of people have sympathy for the underdog, so direct that hostility upwards.

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Now about that draft post – from a year ago – tentatively titled.”My adventures in old age.” It had links to past posts on such adventures as my canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, and into the Okefenokee Swamp, as well as hiking the Appalachian Trail (in small part) and the Chilkoot Trail. In toto, that is, all 33 of the “meanest 33 miles in history.”

For the full set of links see the notes below, but I wanted to focus on one link I found. It’s on the adventures of other people in Old Age, The Top Ten Late Bloomers Of All Time | Psychology Today. And from which I draw inspiration. (Heck, I just turned 69 years old. Or young!)

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And finally, the third draft post from a year ago had to do with “SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (Rucho v. Common Cause). The main question: “Is North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander?” The Supreme Court basically punted, saying the issue was one for state courts. I concluded in turn that the net holding was not to allow such partisan gerrymandering in all cases. It merely “kicks the issue back to the states.” (“Much as would be true if the Court overrules Roe v. Wade,” which remains to be seen.)

And – I wrote – some states were beginning to do just that. (Outlaw partisan gerrymandering.) I cited Supreme Court’s ruling on gerrymandering doesn’t directly affect Florida: “In its majority opinion Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court referenced Florida’s Constitution in asserting that states have the ability to solve this issue themselves.” I also cited Another View: Florida’s amendments thwart partisan gerrymandering.

Which made me thankful that our 50 states are now just the “laboratories of democracy” that may yet save this country. The phrase was popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann (1932). The phrase describes how “a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” See Wikipedia.

It springs in part from the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says, “all powers not delegated to the United States … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That is, the 10th Amendment “assigns most day-to-day governance responsibilities, including general ‘police power,’ to the state and local governments.” One positive result? Because of the “diverse patchwork” of non-federal governments, the several states and/or localities are free to try different public policies to solve problems. In turn, ” If any one or more of those policies are successful, they can be expanded to the national level by acts of Congress.”

Now, if we can just get a state to kick COVID‘s ass. Or get those Feds out of Portland

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Did the 2016 U.S. presidential election create a  monster? Time will tell…

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The upper image is courtesy of Yachting Keel Over – Image ResultsAccompanied by an article “Real-life Bond performs daring boat stunt off the Isle of Wight.”  See I’m 007 and I won’t keel over! Real-life Bond performs (March 2012, but also ‘Show-off’ businessman caused Isle of Wight boat crash, BBC News, from March 2017).  Click on I’m 007 and I won’t keel over!  Then the “Read it” icon.

Re:  Ship of State. See Wikipedia, noting the “famous and oft-cited metaphor put forth by Plato [circa 400 B.C.] in Book VI of the Republic (488a–489d).”  But which can also be traced “back to the lyric poet Alcaeus (frs. 6, 208, 249), and it is found in Sophocles’ Antigone and Aeschylus‘ Seven Against Thebes before Plato.”  Sophocles appeared to be a relative contemporary of Plato, while Aeschylus and Alcaeus (“c. 620 – 6th century BC”), appeared to predate him by 100 to 200 years.  

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Re: “There’s more on other such weapons.” Here follows – down to the next four asterisks (****) – a lot of notes on McFate’s book that may confuse a reader or lead him astray – if not set off by the aforementioned asterisks. But note too that the next set of notes, including the source of other images, will begin with the next set of four asterisks. 

First, for our purposes, McFate noted the “declining utility of force” (as in Russia’s Putin “weaponizing refugees rather than threatening firepower,” indirectly, by bombing Syria, which drove tens of thousands of refugees into Europe and “stoking anti-establishment policies across the continent…  Right-wing nationalist parties, once shunned as neo-Nazis became popular … for the first time since the 1930s”.) Then McFate moved to “Warriors of the Mind.” As in, Get a Mac – Wikipedia, and Case Study: “Mac vs. PC” Advertisement Campaign – Hannah’s Media Leap BlogThe campaign had a huge impact, tripling computer sales and becoming iconic “to this day.” How did Apple do it? “The secret is simple: denigration. Going negative is powerful, but the trick is to make the target look like the wrongdoer… It’s beautiful ridicule, highly manipulative, and it works.”

From there McFate spoke of the “humor” weapon against ISIS, and others:

ISIS and its successors would shrivel like the Wizard of Oz if the Muslim world could belly laugh over them…  Putin’s cult of personality would whither [sic] under the power of denigration.  In fact, he’s easy pickings, given his naked bear-riding habit…  This works especially well against autocracies because they are often built on a cult of personality and the infallibility of leadership.  Make such leaders fallible.

He went on to note that one key is gaining information superiority, first through monitoring (“know your enemy”) and second through discrediting:  “pinpointing fake news, alternate facts … false narratives, viral memes and negative frames, and then exposing them.  Myth-busting must happen, otherwise people may start to believe the spin.  This task is especially critical for democracies…” And finally, counter-attacking, “and this is where Western countries grow weak in the legs.” (For that matter so do “polite” liberals and moderates.) Again, the prime method of counterattack is denigration, while looking like the good guy, conveying empathy, aligning with “preconceived knowledge” and being “funny but not stupid.”

For other reviews Google “the new rules of war sean mcfate.” Of particular interest: The new rules of war. Sean McFate – The Junior Officers’ Book Shelf, and Reviewing The New Rules of War – The Strategy Bridge (“A critical reader might also find inspiration here. As McFate presents them, however, the new rules are a starting point and far from the last word on victory or how to get there”).

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Re: “For the full set of links see the notes.” The first one listed in this post was Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi.  (From 7/19/17.) That cited On canoeing 12 miles offshore, from May 2015. See also On “A Walk in the Woods” – Part I and On “A Walk in the Woods” – Part II, on an overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve written about my Okefenokee adventures in several posts: Operation Pogo – “Into the Okefenokee” (11/7/15), “Into the Okefenokee” – Part II (11/15/15), “Into the Okefenokee” – Part III (11/24/15), “There he goes again…” (5/30/16), and “There he goes again” – Revisited (5/31/17). And see Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

The lower image is courtesy of Laboratories Democracy States – Image ResultsThe image is accompanied by an article, If States are the “Laboratories of Democracy,” Then Young Frankenstein Runs California. The article was from Legal Insurrection, “one of the most widely cited and influential conservative websites… Our work has been highlighted by top conservative radio personalities, such as Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.” But see also Legal Insurrection – Media Bias/Fact Check: “These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.” Note the article was written before the “Covid,” so for an alternate view see California coronavirus: What the state is doing right – CNN

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And finally, the original “laugh at him” post contained notes from an apparent “cultural elites” file. It was about those “cultural elites” that Trump supporters love to hate. The notes below are in rough form, include some personal observations, and are included solely for purposes of completeness:

acts of deliberate transgression against what many Trump supporters have come to view as the supposedly stifling ethics of our cultural elites

sending ” those damn media types into a tizzy”

a given act is actually praiseworthy and brave if it draws condemnation from the despised left-wing media.

just another handy weapon for triggering the pearl-clutching libs.

Send Her Back! Send Her Back! – The Bulwark

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 rather than Hillary elected?)

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.

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 – or as Hillary called them, “the deplorables” – 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.

Elite – Wikipedia  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

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

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.

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.

Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc.) – from March 2020

One random thought about “Socialism,” from back in March – before the Floyd protests began…

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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…

We’re now in the “12th full week of Covid-19.*” And aside from that, we now have the George Floyd protests to process. (Based on his May 26 death.) Which is another reason I  haven’t checked Facebook lately. (Who needs more aggravation?) But I do try to post on a regular basis, and my last post was on May 24. In it I harked back to This time last year – in Jerusalem! (Featuring the photo at left.) And yes, I suppose it was an exercise in escapism.

But back to those “random thoughts – from March 2020…”

This past fall I got in touch with some former students in my high school class of 1969, through Facebook. And was surprised at how many of them had become grumpy old geezers. As evidenced by the many grumpy, whiny and negative posts that way too many of them put on Facebook. (Which is why I learned the magic of “unfollowing” rather than “unfriending.”)

For example, many former classmates – once all full of happiness, hope and hormones – now refer to any political persuasion to the left of Attila the Hun as “Socialism.” Yet another favorite Facebook topic has to do with Social Security. And how it’s not an entitlement. One typical comment:  “I earned it, I paid into it, and nobody is going to take it away from me!”

Which led me to do a little research…

I learned that back in 1970 – the nearest census year to 1969 – the average American life expectancy was 71 years of age. But now, in 2020, the average life expectancy is “78.93” years of age. (See In 1970 what was the average life expectancy for Americans, and U.S. Life Expectancy 1950-2020 | MacroTrends.)  Which we can round off to an even 79 years of age.

Which brings up the difference between life expectancy in 1970, compared to 2020: A full “extra” eight years. Which means that  you – my typical Old Geezer high-school classmate – are getting a “free” eight years of Social Security benefits. In other words, for at least eight years of your life – assuming you make the “expected” life span – YOU’RE GOING TO BE A SOCIALIST!

In other words a mooch, a freeloader, or whatever other label you want to use…

Which led me to ask whether Social Security itself is a form of socialism. One answer:

it seems fair to call the Social Security program a form of socialism. The program requires workers and their employers, along with self-employed individuals, to pay into the system throughout their working years. The government controls the money they contribute and decides when and how much they get back after – and if – they reach retirement age.

See Are Social Security Benefits a Form of Socialism? On the other hand, there’s the Libertarian view, if not the “traditional conservative” view. See for example The Socialism of Social Security – The Future of Freedom, an article by .

Hornberger started off noting the irony of Trump and his fellow conservatives “excoriating” Democrats as Socialists, when he and his Republicans, along with their “Democratic cohorts, are fierce advocates of America’s premier socialist program, Social Security:”

Our American ancestors … understood that once people go onto the government dole, they become dependent on it. Many seniors today are convinced that without the dole, they would die in the streets. Many of them have also become docile and passive in the face of grave government wrongdoing because they fear that the government will cancel their dole if they protest governmental misconduct too vociferously.

Hornberger concluded, “Freedom and voluntary charity versus socialism and mandatory charity… Which one is better? I’m a libertarian. The answer is a no-brainer for me.”

And incidentally, Hornberger noted that conservatives don’t like “us Libertarians.” Why?  “We make them confront their life of the lie. We make them see that they are just as socialist as the socialists [Democrats] they love to decry.” Which sounds about right to me.

Also incidentally, just this past June 2 Hornberger posted Trump and His Standing Army.

He started off noting President Trump’s “warning to state governors that he is prepared to send his military forces to quell violent protests in cities across the land.” Which – he said – was precisely “why our ancestors had such a deep antipathy toward standing armies.” Another warning: “When it comes to shooting American protesters, make no mistake about it: Soldiers will do their duty… If their commander-in-chief orders them to fire on protesters, they will fire on protesters.” (But see Trump Privately Backs Off From Sending Troops Into States Amid Unrest.)

 included quotes from both our Founding Fathers and President Eisenhower, on the original intent of a limited-government republic, with No Standing Army. “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”

He concluded, “Under President Trump, the American people might yet experience the hard way what the Framers, our ancestors, and President Eisenhower were so concerned about.”

And he may have a point…

Two days after Hornberger’s Standing Army post came this: Unidentified prison agents patrol DC amid protests. Put another way, “Heavily armed men who refuse to identify themselves are patrolling the streets of Washington, DC. They were sent by the Bureau of Prisons.” And by the way, that’s from the Business Insider, the financial and business news website founded in 2009. (A side note, “In January 2014, The New York Times reported that Business Insider‘s web traffic was comparable to that of The Wall Street Journal.”)

That’s just in case you thought I cited a pointy-headed liberal-media outlet as a source. Said one observer, “it’s like Russia’s little green men have taken over the nation’s capital.” Or:

Some people on social media discussing the identity of the mysterious officials compared them to the “little green men” Russian President Vladimir Putin sent to annex Crimea in 2014 who wore no insignia identifying them as members of the Russian military.

Which – finally – led me to this bit of research on the definition of Fascism:

[The political philosophy or regime] that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Which is also starting to sound familiar. Suddenly, Social-Security-ism doesn’t seem too bad…

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Free stuff? Like not having 106,000 dead Americans? Or “8:46?” Or “little green men?”

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The upper image – and the lower image – are both courtesy of Socialism For The Rich Capitalism The Poor – Image Results. Incidentally, the “Monopoly Man” image at the top of the page is a take-off of a poster of Che Guevara, the “Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture.” An “original” is below right. See Wikipedia, and also Che Guevara Poster – Image Results.

As to “weeks of the Covid-19 shutdown,” see On Week 8 of the Coronavirus shut-down. I calculated from Thursday, March 12, “when the ACC basketball tournament got cancelled,” and thus that the first full week “has it starting Sunday, March 15 and ending Saturday, March 21,” 2020.

The “incumbent freeloader” image is courtesy of Freeloader – Image Results

The photo to the left of the paragraph “Hornberger posted Trump and His Standing Army” is courtesy of Russian Little Green Men – Image Results

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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 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia. 

Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  So anyway, in North Carolina 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 Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As 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.

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For more on Social Security as “socialism,” see Is Democratic Socialism Alive and Well in U.S.? It’s subtitled, “America is socialist, dummy[:] Let us count the ways.” Some key points:

“[A] dispassionate glance at American history shows that Uncle Sam has already gone a long way down the road of democratic socialism.

“Every American state decrees that all its children shall be educated at state expense, no matter how rich or poor.

“Second, the entire American highway system is built, paid-for and maintained by the state and federal governments.

“Third, estate taxes were introduced in 1916, in the name of equality and to prevent the children of successful parents from becoming a parasitic leisure class.

“Fourth, in the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal established the principle that the federal government should intervene on behalf of distressed citizens everywhere.

“Americans, once they begin to enjoy the benefits of a government program, are no more likely than Europeans to favor losing them. Cutting big government sounds great in theory, but few lobbies support the principle of giving up government-conferred benefits, whereas hundreds of lobbies fight to keep and enlarge them.

“Government on both sides [Democrat and Republican] is committed to protecting vulnerable populations, to educating them, to promoting opportunities and to intervening in the economy for the sake of stability, efficiency and high employment. In other words, in America, as throughout the developed world, democratic socialism is alive and well. Bernie Sanders is unusual not because he believes in it, but because he actually says that he believes in it and isn’t afraid to use the words.”

“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. 

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.