Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hillary's Nomination Inspires Awe, Trump's Pronouncements Inspire Fear

Unfolding on the television screen Tuesday night—jubilation, repressed for almost a century. A major political party had just nominated a woman as its presidential candidate for the very first time, four years shy of a century since women were granted the right to vote.

Anyone with a sense of watching history in the making, regardless of their belief in Hillary Rodham Clinton, could not help but be moved. More than one lump had difficulty finding its way down my esophagus. I turned to Gilda, sitting beside me. Her face was contorted in tears.

Politics took second place to history, just as it did eight years earlier when Barack Hussein Obama captured the Democratic Party nomination by acclimation, thanks to a magnanimous gesture by his then rival, Hillary. Now it was her primary competitor, Bernie Sanders, who moved that party rules be set aside and all ballots be reflected to show support for Hillary as the party’s nominee. 

It was a moment to savor, another milestone on our nation’s sometimes halting march to total equality.

Earlier in the week Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton separately addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte, NC, to different reviews. Trump was reported to have received a warmer reception, but I wonder how anyone who has served in our military could applaud a candidate who insulted a war hero (Senator John McCain) during the primary season by saying he prefers heroes who do not get captured and who has given Russia indications that he would not quickly and decisively respond through NATO to any infringements on the sovereignty of our allies, and that he would consider recognizing Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula inside Ukraine and lifting the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its actions. Plus, Wednesday he invited Russia to hack Clinton’s email server to “find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” 

Trump has been savaged by Democrats, naturally, and Republicans for suggesting that a foreign power inject itself into our election process by cyber-attacking an American citizen, presidential candidate and former secretary of state. If Trump doesn’t believe the missing emails were all personal but contained government data, he has effectively asked Russia to seek out and peer into classified U.S. documents. 

Some of his backers defend his comment by saying they were made in jest, but as the saying goes, “many a truth was said in jest.” In Trump’s case, many a truth about his true feelings have been said extemporaneously.  

Now that he’s the Republican nominee, many of his comments are scripted, vetted by staff so they are politically correct. But when Trump says it’s time to chuck political correctness, his true colors come out. His opinions on immigrants, Muslims, our prisoners of war, our allies, the use of torture, his admiration for dictators, reveal his inner thoughts, ideas that are counter to many of our nation’s cherished ideals.

Trump says we need new plans but he gives few details, arguing he doesn’t want to tip his hand. But why should the public trust Trump when he has filed several bankruptcies that have enriched him while financially hurting creditors, suppliers and their employees? It makes no sense to trust he will do what’s right for America. His history shows he does what’s right for Trump.

Pillow Talk: Let’s talk spouses—It’s no secret that the closest confidantes of presidents have been their spouses, from Abigail Adams to Edith Wilson to Eleanor Roosevelt to Nancy Reagan to Barbara Bush to Hillary Clinton to Laura Bush to Michelle Obama. 

The choice of the next first spouse to whom the next president will seek counsel is between a former model-loving mother-businesswoman and a former president of the United States. 

Hands down, I know which person the country needs at the next president’s side.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Putin's in the News and so Is Goebbels

Vladimir Putin is in the news for what he might have done and said. The stupid and embarrassing Democratic National Committee email scandal on the eve of the party’s nominating convention may have Russian fingerprints on it. Some are suggesting Putin had his tech spies hack DNC computers earlier this year so they could be released to WikiLeaks in time to discredit Hillary Clinton’s primary and caucus campaign. The FBI said it would look into the matter. 

Can you imagine Republican reaction if the FBI comes to Clinton’s and the Democrats’ defense after deciding there wasn’t sufficient grounds to indict the former secretary of state for her personal email server mistake? I can just hear Donald Trump screaming the FBI is rigged against Republicans as he besmirches another of our national institutions.

Putins also is in the “news,” so to speak, for a speech he allegedly gave to the Russian parliament about the need for Muslims to adapt to Russian laws and conform to Russian customs if they want to live in Russia. Copies of his “speech” have been circulating through the Internet.

However, according to, Putin never gave such a speech. It is another example of people using the Internet to create their own version of history in the hope of influencing a wider audience.

Secretary to the Great Influencer: A new documentary of a 105-year-old German woman, “A German Life,” is making its way around. She is not just any centenarian. Brunhilde Pomsel served as one of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels’ secretaries during the last years of the Third Reich.

“The people who today say they would have done more for those poor, persecuted Jews,” she says, “I really believe that they sincerely mean it. But they wouldn’t have done it, either. By then the whole country was under some kind of a dome. We ourselves were all inside a huge concentration camp.”

Take a moment to read the linked article from Monday’s New York Times

Now, understand why some think a Trump victory in November could easily be the first step on a downward path. If a domestic terrorist attack similar in impact to Paris or Nice occurs after he takes office Trump could declare martial law.

It is scary to think of the implications. “The dangers are still alive. It could happen again,” (one) of the directors, Olaf Müller, said. “One of the main aims of the film is to have the audience question: How would I have reacted? What would I have done in her situation for a new step in my career?”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Freddys: An Idea for Trump's Economic Stimulus Plan

Here’s an idea Donald Trump might want to consider for his economic stimulus plan, an idea perfectly suited for his experience and temperament.

With so many millennials graduating from college with fewer prospects than their parents had, perhaps Trump can suggest a helping hand program similar to the one he received from his father, namely, a low interest million dollar loan. In honor of Trump’s father, we’ll call the loans the Freddys.

Now, not just anyone would get a Freddy. To secure a million dollar jump-start loan, applicants would have to participate in a televised competition (this is where Trump’s reality show experience comes in). Similar to the Shark Tank TV show, would-be billionaires (no reason to set our sights low for these budding entrepreneurs) would present their ideas to Trump. Proposals would be judged on viability with particular emphasis on the number of employees each anticipates to hire and where workers would be located, with special emphasis placed on the Rust Belt.

Giving away $1 million per winning entry (by the way, Fred’s loan to Donald would be valued today at $3.6 million) may limit how many winners are chosen each year, given Trump’s desire to reduce the national debt. If each week’s show picks five winners, that’s 260 per year, or $260 million. Chump change in a federal budget of $3.8 trillion.

Perhaps there are a few kinks in the Freddy program that need to be worked out. After all, I’m no Mark Burnett. But it’s a sure-fire way for President Trump to keep his toe in and face on TV each week without having to console the nation after another mass murder, another terrorist attack, another country that imposes high tariffs in retaliation to his trade wars, another invasion of an Eastern European country by one of Trump’s admired world leaders, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

So let’s all tune in to the Freddys. It’s the least we could do in Trump’s dyspeptic and dystopian world.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump's Plan: Invoke Fear, Dehumanize Clinton

From genocide to genocide one constant has been the dehumanization of victims by aggressors. If a victim can be reduced in stature to a level where death can be condoned, killing can be implemented without remorse.

Dehumanization does not have to go to the extreme of a concerted campaign of murder. Slavery or state-sanctioned discrimination can be way-stops with little or no punishment should murder occur now and then.

With its treatment of Native Americans and Afro Americans, White America has engaged in genocide, slavery and discrimination. And now, with their rhetoric, Donald Trump and his Republican advisors and sycophants are pursuing a dehumanizing and demonization campaign against Hispanics, Muslims and Democrats. It is the next step in the Republican Party’s strategy to delegitimize the presidency of the first elected Afro American, from the birther movement to assertions that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim to claims that he clandestinely supports the killing of policemen by blacks.

Trump’s total campaign has been waged not on policy and programs but rather on smear tactics to dehumanize his adversaries. By repeating a verbal description of Hillary Clinton as a criminal and a liar they are undermining her legitimacy as president should she win the election. Trump doesn’t offer a critique of her platform or details about his alternatives other than to say under him life would be great.

Perhaps we should have expected this result. Too many of our entertainment diversions, especially reality shows, pit good against evil. Cooperation is encouraged only as far as it advances one’s own self interest.

Republicans want to paint themselves as the law and order party, Democrats as the party of lawlessness and chaos.

Trump began the assault on normative behavior when he launched his America First campaign with an attack on Mexicans and Muslims. The net effect of his remarks was the unleashing of forces of evil in our society—anti-Semites and racial bigots. By not quickly and forcefully repudiating comments by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and neo Nazi extremists, and by knowingly or inadvertently retweeting their screeds, Trump emboldened them. 

Perhaps not coincidentally, Duke announced his intention to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana Friday. “I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years. My slogan remains ‘America First,’” Duke said.

Evil cannot be given fertile soil on which to grow. Yet Trump has been its constant gardener.

The produce of his tolerance of intolerance emerged for all to see during the just concluded Republican National Convention. Trump confidante Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire delegate and state representative, said Clinton should be tried for treason and hung. Or killed by firing squad.

Potential vice presidential candidate and former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich proposed that all Muslims in the United States be required to take a loyalty test as a condition of their continued residence in the country, even if they are U.S. citizens. One wonders how a former university history professor does not know his suggestion is patently unconstitutional.

Another passed over vp hopeful, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, led the assembled delegates in a modern day version of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution when he called upon them to shout “guilty” after he enunciated Clinton’s alleged transgressions as secretary of state. 

New Yorkers remember Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s assault on art he didn’t like, similar to Hitler’s attack on Modern Art, what he called Degenerate Art. Giuliani is another Trump insider. 

Images of a police state come to mind. 

In his acceptance speech Thursday night, Trump said he would suspend immigration from any nation that has been “compromised by terrorism.” Does that mean no one can come here from Belgium or France, for surely those countries at present are nests of opportunity for Islamic terrorists?

There were some winning rhetorical flourishes in his near 75-minute speech. Saying, “I am your voice,” he forcefully drove home the point that he would be the champion of the people, not special interests. But as The New York Times noted in a front page article Friday under a picture of Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, just a few blocks away from the convention hall lobbyists already were feasting on the potential business and influence they would have in a Trump presidency. “Lobbyists cheerfully passed out stickers reading ‘Make Lobbying Great Again,’” The Times reported.

Trump also deftly turned Clinton’s campaign motto, “I’m with her,” into a more personal “I’m with you,” again defining himself as the people’s champion.

But his brag that “l alone” could effect change in Washington revealed a major hurdle he would face. He would need Congress to pass legislation that Republicans have not previously embraced. Though his daughter Ivanka, when introducing him, talked about his compassion and generosity for working women, he did not include in his speech any support for measures many women crave: a higher minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, affordable child care. He said he would scrap Obamacare and replace it with something better without providing specifics. Getting any of these programs through a Republican Congress would be a challenge worthy of Hercules.

To almost everything he said he would do he exhorted, “Believe me, believe me.” And that his fixes would happen “quickly.”

Trump promised to deliver a safer America, that he will be the law and order president. Putting aside for now the reality that crime is down in the country, most criminal laws are enforced on the local level, not by the federal government, unless Trump has in mind a national police force that would supersede state and municipal police departments.

Interestingly, Trump did not mention who would pay for the wall he says he will build along the Mexican border. He also did not repeat his vow to deport 11 million illegal aliens. 

The transcendent theme of Trump’s speech was the antithesis of the words on the Statue of Liberty. Instead of “give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Trump wants your angered, your fearful, your resentful, your bigoted, and, since he wants to regenerate the coal industry, your masses struggling to breathe clean air.

After the speech, as Trump and Pence with their respective families stood awkwardly on the podium, music blared in the background. It was the Rolling Stones singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Some viewers and commentators couldn’t help but wonder at the juxtaposition of the words against his laundry list of will-dos. 

But maybe Trump intended a deeper message. Since the last line of the chorus is, “But if you try sometime you find you get what you need,” perhaps this a veiled message that Trump’s platform is what the country needs at this time.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Republican Convention Edition

Full disclosure: I find it hard to watch all of the Republican National Convention proceedings, what with all the Hillary bashing and the almost comical ways security and ordinary attendees are trying to muzzle protesters’ voices and faces. I suspect I will find it similarly difficult to follow the Democrats chance next week.

Unless, unless Hillary Clinton and her convention planners have absorbed lessons from the Republicans and focus their remarks not on a continuous assault on Donald Trump’s lack of qualifications to be president but rather on how she and a Democratic Congress would invigorate the economy, safeguard the homeland and the freedom of our allies, protect healthcare and social security benefits, and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. They will need to provide specifics, not just lip service. 

Any intelligent Democrat or objective-thinking Independent, and even some Republicans, already know the danger of a Trump presidency, so an anti-Donald-day in-day-out convention to pump up the faithful is not necessary. What would turn on undecided voters and recalcitrant Bernie Sanders supporters would be a message of populist change. 

On MSNBC’s Monday night coverage of the Republican National Convention, Nicolle Wallace, the former communications director for President George W. Bush, said the election will boil down to a choice between a candidate (Trump) whose temperament to be commander in chief is questioned versus a candidate (Clinton) whose honesty and integrity to be commander in chief is questioned. 

I think that’s a fair assessment. 

Trump’s Twitter response to Melania-gate (“Good news is Melania’s speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!”) is validation of a quote attributed to P.T. Barnum: “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” 

FYI, Stephen Colbert has got his mojo back. If you haven’t seen his live broadcasts after each convention session, complete with a resurrection of his arch-conservative Colbert Report alter ego from Comedy Central, download segments on YouTube or from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert site. 

Monday night he brought back his “Tonight’s WØrd” bit with a twist. Instead of “truthiness,” Colbert lampooned “Trumpiness.” Truthiness, he explained, “is believing something that feels true even if it isn’t supported by fact,” such as the statement “The Rio Olympics will be fine.” 

“Truthiness comes from the gut because brains are overrated … Truthiness has to feel true, but Trumpiness doesn’t even have to do that. In fact, many Trump supporters don’t believe his wildest promises and they don’t care … If he doesn’t have to mean what he says, he can say anything …

“Truthiness was from the gut, but Trumpiness clearly comes from much lower down the intestinal tract, and his supporters know this.” 

What Ailes Ya? Twenty years ago, Roger Ailes teamed up with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to launch Fox News, the conservative-leaning cable news channel. Eight years earlier, in 1988, working as Vice President George H.W. Bush’s media advisor in his bid to succeed President Ronald Reagan, Ailes helped develop the signature ad of that election campaign, the Willie Horton spot. Under a Massachusetts plan backed by Bush’s opponent, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Horton received a prison furlough during which he raped a Maryland woman and assaulted her husband. The ad portrayed Dukakis as soft on crime. The ad helped propel Bush into the White House.

Dukakis’ campaign manager was Susan Estrich.

Fast forward to July 2016. Estrich is Roger Ailes’ lawyer in his defense against allegations of sexual harassment that has cost him his job as head of Fox News. 

Is there a better example of interlocking, incestuous interests among the power elite?

Where’s Geraldine When We Need Her? Comedian Flip Wilson’s in-drag character Geraldine sought forgiveness when she violated cultural norms by saying, “The devil made me do it.” Apparently, one-time presidential hopeful Ben Carson has a problem acknowledging the devil.

As described by The New York Times, “Ben Carson got a prime speaking slot at the convention on Tuesday evening, and he took a different approach at questioning Mrs. Clinton’s integrity. Digging into her college thesis about Saul Alinksy, the left-wing community organizer and radical, Mr. Carson suggested that Mrs. Clinton admired him. Then he pointed out that Mr. Alinsky had acknowledged Lucifer on the dedication page of one of his books, suggesting that such an association was somehow damning for Mrs. Clinton.

“‘Are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?’” Mr. Carson asked. “Think about that.” (

So what’s wrong with acknowledging the devil exists? Don’t most organized Western religions include the existence of Lucifer as one of their basic beliefs? One would think the Bible-loving Republican crowd would not have a problem with Alinsky’s acknowledging Lucifer.

Israel Beware: In 1973, President Richard Nixon bolstered the defense of Israel after it was attacked by Syria and Egypt on Yom Kippur by shipping tons of war materiel to the Jewish state. Under a President Trump Israel might not have similar replenishment support given his comments about the backing the United States is obligated by treaty to provide NATO members.

During a 45-minute conversation (with The Times), “he (Trump) explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance. Mr. Trump re-emphasized the hard-line nationalist approach that has marked his improbable candidacy, describing how he would force allies to shoulder defense costs that the United States has borne for decades, cancel longstanding treaties he views as unfavorable, and redefine what it means to be a partner of the United States.” (

As Israel has no mutual defense treaty with America and receives billions of dollars in foreign aid, Trump may be indisposed to help Israel should another war break out. He might also drastically reduce foreign aid as part of his “take care of America first” platform.

Here’s your political witticism of the day courtesy of

“I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.” —Adlai Stevenson

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

United Is Far From Our National Heritage

The UNITED States of America. Sounds great. A diversified people forging common goals for the common good and welfare of its citizenry. 

Hardly any politician does not extol his or her commitment to unifying the country while lamenting, sometimes in extraordinarily harsh language, the divisive nature of his or her opponent.

Monday morning on NPR, Roger F. Villere Jr., chairman of Louisiana’s Republican Party, said the high hopes that an Obama presidency would bring the country together had not come to fruition, that there was more distrust now than before. He laid the blame squarely on Obama’s shoulders, ignoring Republican infatuation with the birther movement that questioned the president’s legitimacy for office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s marching orders to try to make Obama a one-term president, disrespect by a GOP congressman during one of Obama’s speeches to Congress, the invitation to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal as a way of undermining Obama’s leadership, and continuing efforts to obstruct any Obama initiative including the naming of a replacement for the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia. 

But so goes our political discourse these days. Reality is not part of the dialogue. We seem to want unity; we wax euphoric for those halcyon days when it pervaded the land. 

But really, people, it is hard to think of a time in our nation’s 240-year history when we enjoyed long-term unity. From the get-go our leaders took sides. They were so antagonistic to each other that our second president, John Adams, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, four bills that were passed by a Federalist-dominated Congress in 1798.[ As described by Wikipedia, the laws “made it harder for an immigrant to become a citizen (Naturalization Act), allowed the president to imprison and deport non-citizens who were deemed dangerous (Alien Friends Act) or who were from a hostile nation (Alien Enemies Act), and criminalized making false statements that were critical of the federal government (Sedition Act).”

When Thomas Jefferson succeeded Adams, a new Democratic-Republican Congress repealed all but the Aliens Enemies Act which, modified, remains in force today. 

Differences existed even before the U.S. of A. came into existence. Not everyone in the 13 colonies favored independence from Great Britain. And after liberty was proclaimed and won, not everyone living in the 13 states enjoyed the fruits of liberty. Slavery stained our nation from even before its inception and its legacy divided us through the decades before and after the Civil War, manifested after the conflict by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, segregation, the fight for civil rights and voting rights, and most recently the Black Lives Matter movement. 

America has been divided on the merits of temperance and Prohibition, on the suffragette movement, on the entries into World War I and World War II, on the combat in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, on the treatment of immigrants from Ireland, China, Eastern Europe and now from Muslim and Latin American countries, on treatment of Catholics, Jews and now Muslims, on the right to life versus the right to choose, on the meaning of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, on the balance between saving the environment and exploiting our natural resources. (For the sake of brevity I’ll stop the list here.)

Trump has latched onto a slogan of “Make America Safe Again.” Hardly anyone would reject personal safety as a lofty goal. But by declaring himself the “law and order” candidate Trump invokes the racial origins of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy to stigmatize Afro-Americans to appeal to white voters (  

Politicians stoke the illusion of unity, but the reality is unity might be achieved if political dialogue accepted the right of one’s opponents to hold and air contrasting principles. Here’s what Utah Senator Mike Lee told CBS News’ Scott Pelley after his side lost a convention floor fight to challenge the nomination of Donald Trump:

“We need to do things that united people do, which is respect each other’s opinions. Treat each other with dignity and respect and allow people to cast their votes, express their differences and then we move on.”

Sounds fair, but Lee has not accorded similar sentiments toward President Obama. 

Indiana Governor Mike Pence was chosen as vice presidential running mate because of his potential to unite the party, especially evangelicals and social conservatives, behind Trump. Maybe so, but the real challenge for Pence and any candidate during this national election is whether they can unite the country. 


Monday, July 18, 2016

Disappointed in Cleveland and Other Follies

The last time I visited Cleveland, site of this year’s Republican National Convention beginning Monday, was back in 1998. I went there in October as part of a sales call on Telxon, a manufacturer of scanning equipment subsequently acquired by Symbol Technologies, a sometime advertiser in Chain Store Age

It occurred to me during the trip with our sales rep, Lise, that the American League Championship Series was to begin that night in Cleveland’s home ballpark, then known as Jacobs Field, now called Progressive Field. The Cleveland Indians would be hosting the New York Yankees.

Even more fortuitous, or so I thought, was the fact that our company had season tickets to Indians games (we also had season tickets to Yankees and Chicago Cubs games). With no resident corporate salesperson in Cleveland, perhaps Lise and I would be able to snag two seats to that night’s game. I called the New York office to check on the availability of the tickets, only to be disappointed to find out that not only were they not mine for the asking but also our company no longer purchased Indians season tickets since we closed down the Cleveland office a few years earlier. 

Ah, well. At least the Yankees won that playoff series on their way to winning the World Series. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures. During the summer softball season, desperate times usually means it’s summer camp visiting day, resulting in a dearth of players for a scheduled game. Desperate measures means the team captain calls up a retired player with a bad back to play a game. That’s how I found myself in the blazing heat on the pitcher’s mound Sunday morning, a position I enjoyed for more than 30 years but was more than content to let a younger generation swelter in the sun. 

I didn’t strike anybody out. I threw no fastballs. Couldn’t, even if I had tried. I walked only three or four batters. Mercifully, the regular nine inning game lasted only seven by virtue of the league mercy rule invoked if a team is losing by 10 or more runs after seven frames. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my team had the lower run total. In that we share a problem with the New York Yankees. We don’t score enough runs to overcome our mistakes in the field and on the mound. 

Still, it was fun to be out there again, though my recovery time has elongated with age.

Thanks to our DVR’s, I rarely have to watch television commercials. We record most shows, even sporting events, for later viewing so we can zip through ad breaks. 

I’m not so lucky when it comes to non-Sirius radio listening, especially when I have the dial set to WCBS 880, the all-news station. I am always amazed that a station that purports to have an intelligent, decently upscale audience interested in finding out the news (not just weather and traffic conditions) sells so many ads for get-rich-quick or debt-reduction schemes (perhaps the ads are targeted to the same group—those who went into debt trying to get rich quick by investing in seminars for flipping homes).

I was struck the other day by an ad by a dentist seeking new patients. The dentist claimed he knew he wanted to be a dentist when he was nine years old. Really? Unless he was a devotee of Steve Martin’s pain-inflicting character in the movie version of Little Shop of Horrors, it doesn’t seem natural or plausible to me that a youngster would know at such a tender age that his lifelong ambition would be to stick his fingers into strangers’ mouths, mouths that often exude bad breadth. 

To please my parents I at one time said I might become a dentist (my brother had already landed the lawyer spot in the family). Fortunately for me, D’s in chemistry and biology disabused me of that silly notion. Mind you, I have nothing against dentists. They practice a worthy profession. Just not one I aspired to.

More Radio Ads: He didn’t turn up on my radio during the all-important Valentine’s Day celebration earlier this year but Rocky Moselle is back this summer hawking his International Star Registry. 

Perhaps Moselle figured if Donald Trump can snooker enough people to nominate him for president there are sufficient suckers out there who will swallow his pitch for the perfect way to express one’s love by naming a star for eternity after a beloved.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Will You Watch the Conventions? And Watch What You Say About Trump

On the eve of the start of the Republican Party nominating convention, CBS Sunday Morning aired results of a CBS News survey of expected viewership of the GOP and Democratic Party get-togethers. 

Less than half of those sampled said they would watch the conventions. For the Republicans, 48% planned to tune in; 49% said they wouldn’t bother. The numbers were worse for Democrats and their convention—45% yes, 53% no.

No doubt the percentages are a reflection of dissatisfaction with both parties’ presumptive nominees, as well as voter fatigue for the drawn out process that has brought us to the cusp of nomination. 

The challenge for both parties is to sustain, even elevate, interest in their candidates. Trump has a built-in excitement factor. You never know what he will say. Aiding his campaign is the intense dislike Republicans and some Independents as well as Bernie Democrats have for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton must work doubly hard to overcome the fatigue factor. Her choice of a running mate must demonstrate a break with the past business-as-usual attitude many feel permeates her campaign. 

Based on the projected viewership, it can be expected that just loyalists of both parties will follow the proceedings, so a post-convention bump in the polls should not be that dramatic, if at all. What may be a determining event for the election is the series of debates Trump and Clinton agree to. 

How Trump confronts her face-to-face, and how he defends his often contradictory positions and lack of program specificity, may sway undecided voters. When she first ran in 2000 for the Senate from New York, and won, Clinton benefitted from an overly aggressive Congressman Rick A. Lazio who invaded her space during one of their debates. Trump has shown no mercy attacking his opponents during GOP primary debates. But denigrating Clinton in an undiplomatic, ungentlemanly manner during their one-on-one debates might cause some voters to be more sympathetic to her. 

Rushing to Trump’s Defense: Have you seen the Internet posting of a quote Donald Trump is alleged to have said to People magazine in 1998?: 

“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. Thy believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”

Sounds sooooo Trumpish. Were it only true. According to, it’s a fabrication. So don’t get caught up in reposting it. Trump has said enough disingenuous things and outright lies this campaign that nobody should have to pass along falsehoods about him. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Anger Over Trump Is Misdirected; To Paraphrase, It's the Stupid People, Stupid

I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night. Perhaps because we didn’t turn the air conditioner on until 4 am. The air was sticky until then. So when I woke up at 2:30 I found it difficult to resume sleep. Which resulted in the second, more dominant, factor that denied me a contented slumber.

I read from several news sites. My eyes kept getting wider and wider with consternation. Could Mr.- and Mrs.- and Miss- and Ms. America really be so angry, scared, bigoted and, most importantly, ignorant that they would vote for Donald Trump to be the beacon of leadership of the free world for the next four years? Could they really want to roll back progress in equality, in environmental protection, in equal opportunity, in race relations (no matter how frayed they may appear these days), in a host of other areas where we are so much better today than we were decades ago?

Yes, Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate. But do they really think she favors her cronies more than Trump favors his fellow billionaires (assuming, of course, he really is a billionaire)? She professes a desire to put checks on the investment community. But don’t Wall Streeters and bankers realize they made gazillions during the last two Democratic presidents and almost lost it all during the last two Republican presidencies.

Republicans like to point out President Obama didn’t keep his word when Syria’s Assad crossed a red line and dropped chemical weapons on his people. No one would believe in our word anymore, they say. Yet they would support a man who openly acknowledged he would rip up treaties and agreements he didn’t like. Nothing the United States has signed would be meaningful any longer. And Trump has advocated for torture more extreme than waterboarding.

As he has for virtually all other issues, Donald Trump’s response to the killings of blacks by police and the assassination of five Dallas policemen is that we have to get “better, sharper and smarter.” No details, just get better, smarter and sharper.

As he has no political record to check, it might be instructive to look at how he has handled his business relations and how outside experts evaluate his plans. 

“Under Trump’s trade plans, we would see higher prices, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy,” says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that cannot be mistaken for a pro-Democratic sympathizer. The Chamber also believes Trump’s proposed tariffs “would strip us of at least 3.5 million jobs.”

Trump’s modus operandi in business appears to be to often unilaterally renegotiate agreed upon terms of service. Contractors who helped him build his casino empire say he reneged on full payments. 

Such a tactic might fatten his pockets while undercutting the profits of, and even bankrupting, his providers, but it is hardly a way to manage the U.S. economy.

Trump’s allies in securing the nomination of his party are the crazed Islamic terrorists who sow fear throughout the world. Isolated terrorists, even bands of two or three, are almost impossible to stop. Police states like Russia and Saudi Arabia can’t thwart dedicated, demented terrorists, much less so countries that cherish freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and even freedom to bear arms. 

The absence of a wall across the Mexican border hasn’t left America vulnerable to Islamic terrorists. As the only publicized “invasion” came from Canada in 1999, would a president Trump demand Canada pay for a wall across our more than 5,500-mile shared border?

As the coronation of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate nears, Republican thinkers not enamored with Trump are trying to forge a post-election comeback strategy for a party that has veered so far to the right even iconic presidents like Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt would not pass muster with the rabidly doctrinaire primary-voting fringe of discontents and non-compromisers.

David Brooks, the conservative Op-Ed columnist of The New York Times advises Republicans can be saved by harking back to progressive programs like those of Teddy Roosevelt.

“New sorts of political leaders emerged. In city after city, progressive reformers cleaned up politics and professionalized the civil service. Theodore Roosevelt went into elective politics at a time when few Ivy League types thought it was decent to do so. He bound the country around a New Nationalism and helped pass legislation that ensured capitalism would remain open, fair and competitive.” (

If there is one word conservatives have mocked in years past (aside from “liberal”) it is “progressive.” Roosevelt, according to, initiated the following progressive policies:
*He developed the “Square Deal,” a domestic program formed around three C’s—conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection; 
*He promoted the conservation movement and placed millions of acres of land under federal protection to preserve America’s natural resources; 
*He dissolved 44 monopolistic corporations and regulated railroad rates to protect the middle and working class; 
*He passed the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act to better regulate food production and labeling.

Think, how many present-day conservatives would endorse any, much less all, of those programs?

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salami, co-authors of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, offered in The Times a re-imagined conservative platform that included assurances on Social Security and even healthcare benefits granted by Obamacare. Their vision is an admittedly Hail Mary option.

The prospect of a Trump presidency has unshackled long-cherished norms of decorum among interested poll watchers. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tripped mightily when publicly voicing her strong antipathy toward life under Trump ( She regretted her outspokenness, but did not retract any of her comments (

Scholars, as well, have joined the anti-Trump crusade ( Enlisted by historian David McCullough and documentarian Ken Burns, they have posted videos to a Facebook page, Historians on Donald Trump (

“For the first time in my life, I’m actually afraid that we Americans can forget who we are as a people and succumb to historical amnesia,” says Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize winning biographer and author of Alexander Hamilton. When that happens, when the historical record is scrubbed clean, Trump or any demagogue can come along and write upon it whatever he wants, says Chernow.

Don’t look now but even white male college graduates have embraced Trump ( It’s as damning a report card on the state of education in this country as any I have seen.

Trump’s implausible coalition includes the Religious Right. We need look no further than the evangelical community to see how expediency trumps (pun intended) values. “Nearly four-fifths of white evangelical voters plan to cast their ballots for Donald J. Trump despite his multiple marriages, lack of piety and inconsistency on the issues they care about most,” according to a Pew Research survey reported by The Times (  

I’m not angry at Trump. I’m angry at the electorate, at the stupid, self-centered, uninformed, xenophobic, even racist, ignorant, personality-driven voters willing to turn this country over to a man who, as McCullough points out, lacks any of the four key qualities President Dwight D. Eisenhower said a leader must possess: character, ability, responsibility and experience. 

It’s a wonder I get any sleep at all.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Déjà vu: The GOP House Seeks an Impeachable Offense to Stymie a Clinton Presidency

As per FBI Director James B. Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton learned this week she will not be indicted for her email indiscretions, but she may well face an impeachment process if she is elected president. If we have learned anything from Republican behavior during the Obama years and, yes, during the Bill Clinton presidency, it is that the GOP will do almost anything to obstruct a Democratic president from devoting the necessary time and energies to serving the country.

House Republicans are laying the groundwork for such a move after grilling Comey during a hearing Thursday for four hours. They are not convinced he was right in determining Clinton did not commit a prosecutable offense by handling top secret emails on her personal server. Indeed, they will seek further investigation by the FBI as to whether Clinton perjured herself during testimony before Congress. 

If she is elected president, and Republicans remain in the majority in the House, expect impeachment talk to be front and center from the start of her administration. Don’t expect Donald Trump to bring impeachment up during the campaign as it would hint he doesn’t think he would win. But if he loses, expect a fusillade of tweets and rants that Hillary should be impeached.  

The Constitution states a president may be impeached for “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Clinton’s alleged failures fall under the vaguely-worded “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Former President Gerald Ford, when he was House minority leader more than four decades ago, defined an impeachable offense as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” (

A GOP majority in the House jumps that hurdle.

However, it is uncertain if actions taken before she was elected president would qualify Clinton for impeachment. Doubters need only look to Ford’s analysis to expect a positive take on that question from a Republican House.

Impeachment, though, would not kick Clinton out of the White House, as conviction would require a two-thirds vote by the Senate, a level of agreement difficult to attain in a forum expected to be almost equally divided by the parties. As more than a dozen Democrats would have to vote to convict, Hillary, like her husband, would remain in office after acquittal by the Senate.

For Republicans, however, the reward of impeachment is not necessarily in conviction as even then the presidency would remain in Democratic hands. Rather, the GOP goal is to stymie Clinton, to divert her attention from governing. 

Clinton would not be the loser. The country would, unless you believe in the Republican mantra first espoused by Ronald Reagan that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” and any reduction in government is a benefit, even if it means harming, perhaps irrevocably, our national institutions.   

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lynchings Replaced by Police Action as Most Feared Black Man's Fate

Police killings have replaced lynchings as the most heinous fate of unarmed black men.

For the second consecutive day, and for too many times in the last several years, the nation has been transfixed by reports and video of policemen using the shield of their position to administer lethal punishment against Afro-American males. 

Lynchings used to be confined to the Deep South. Police-related deaths have spread across the country, from Ferguson, MO, to Staten Island, NY, to Chicago, to Baton Rouge, LA, to Cleveland, to St. Paul, MN, to Baltimore, to North Charleston, SC, to Cincinnati, to Arlington, TX, to St. Louis. The list could probably go on; it does not include civilian-inflicted lethal shootings like those of Trayvon Martin in Orlando and Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, FL.  

I was going to reference an Op-Ed article by Roxane Gay, an associate professor at Purdue University, in Thursday’s New York Times ( Instead, I commend to your education a commentary she wrote back on October 29, 2015, that describes the pervasive, suffocating, humiliating conditions under which black children grow up in relation to authority, be it police or school administrations. Read it and feel the despair infecting and infesting the black community:
Back on April 4, 1968, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy stood on the deck of a flatbed truck in Indianapolis. He had expected to deliver a stump speech to a mostly black audience as part of his insurgent campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Instead, he told them the dreadful news that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated earlier that evening in Memphis, TN. Through his passionate rhetoric, Kennedy helped prevent rioting in Indianapolis even as other cities erupted in violence. Here’s a link to NPR’s 40th year commemoration of that extraordinary evening in Indianapolis. It provides an example of leadership and humanity so often missing within today’s political cohort:

With Baton Rouge and St. Paul fresh in our minds, I wait to hear, or read, words of comfort and healing, and hope, from the two who would be our next president. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Border Walls, Boundary Waters, Dumb and Dumber

Uh oh! Donald Trump may have to start talking about building another wall. This wall would be a lot longer than the wall between the United States and Mexico. This one would span the longest non-militarized border between any two countries—the United States and Canada. 

Canada and the 48 continental states share a 3,987 miles border. The border between Canada and Alaska adds another 1,538 miles. By comparison, the U.S.-Mexican border is 1,989 miles.

Why the sudden need to shore up defenses against a country that has been, for all intents and purposes, our soft sister for more than two centuries, even ceding us domination of its national sport, hockey? Islamophobia, of course. Specifically, the acceptance of Syrian refugees.

And we all know what comes next, warn the fear mongers, chief among them, The Donald. Terrorists will be embedded among the refugees and sooner, or maybe later, under cover of Canadian residency papers they will slip quietly, make that simply walk, through border passport control and start killing Americans. 

Trump can point to a 2015 U.S. Senate report, “The State of America’s Border Security,” for validation of a plan to wall off the country, top and bottom.

“Security observers have argued that Canada represents a substantial vulnerability, because it provides immigrant visas to individuals who pose a significant threat,” said the report.

He can also remind us of Ahmed Ressam who planned to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve 1999. Ressam was an Algerian al-Qaeda member who had lived in Montreal. He was caught with a bomb in his car by Washington State border security. 

So get ready America for cement mixers and chain link fence planters to be working overtime should Trump get elected president. 

Boundary Waters: One of the joys of writing this blog is the opportunity it affords me to reminisce and reflect on current events associated with my past. Today, July 4, for example, is the 40th anniversary of the successful Israeli raid on Entebbe that freed 100 Jewish hostages from Palestinian and German hijackers and the clutches of Idi Amin, the madman leader of Uganda. 

By coincidence, Gilda and I were at Ben Gurion Airport that day, awaiting a flight to Rome as the triumphant Israelis and the freed captors returned to Israel to a celebration reserved for feats of heroic grandeur such as Lindbergh’s crossing of the Atlantic, V-J Day at Times Square and the inauguration of our first Afro-American president.

Two days ago I was catapulted back 35 years by an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times by former Vice President Walter F. Mondale and Theodore Roosevelt IV, the great grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. “Protect Minnesota’s Boundary Waters,” they wrote. They opined against a mining proposal that could imperil the region (

I suspect most people seeing the term Boundary Waters had faint ideas about its meaning and the attachment Minnesotans have to it. I, too, would have been mostly ignorant to its meaning had it not been for an October 1981 cover story Chain Store Age did on Dayton’s Department Stores of Minneapolis and its new merchandising concept, Boundary Waters. 

“The Boundary Waters is an area of northern Minnesota along the Canadian border that is one of the few true wilderness regions remaining in the country,” Stephen E. Watson, then Dayton’s sr. vp and general merchandise manager for men’s and women’s apparel, explained (Watson would go on to become president of Dayton Hudson Corp., now known as Target Corp., before assuming executive roles at other retail companies). “The people in the community here see themselves as very outdoors-oriented, active and adventuresome. To them, Boundary Waters have real, as well as symbolic meaning.”

Dayton’s no longer exists, but a scion of the founding family, Mark Dayton, is now governor of Minnesota. He has come out against the mining project. 

Dumb and Dumber: For all his political skills, just how dumb is former President Bill Clinton? And is Attorney General Loretta Lynch dumber for agreeing to meet with him at the Phoenix airport as the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server while secretary of state is still ongoing?

Before he does something dumb again (he always seems to do something that ruffles his wife’s campaigns, as he did in South Carolina eight years ago), he should be confined to grandfather duty full time with only limited public exposure, such as at the Democratic convention. Hillary has more than enough surrogates to campaign for her. She doesn’t need her husband to give Trump any opportunity to ridicule him and her.

Your political witticism of the day, courtesy of

“The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” —Joseph Stalin