Friday, June 16, 2017

Keeping Up With Trump and Other Dangers to the Republic

The president is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice, but like watching a duck swim serenely on a pond, there’s a whole lot of action—in Washington—going on under the surface, much of it hazardous to the progressive state of the last 80 years.

Last week Politico initiated a new feature: “5 things Trump did while you weren’t looking.” It is difficult, depressing, but required reading, for it goes beyond the orange-topped menace. Trump or Mike Pence or any Republican in the Oval Office would be doing much the same.

Here are links to the articles for first two weeks: 

 If you’re not already reading Politico, this series is a good reason to begin.

If you’re not already too bummed out, spend 35 minutes listening to Nancy MacLean tell Leonard Lopate of WNYC about the origin of the conservative movement’s plan to deconstruct government. MacLean is the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Here’s the link:

A Breadth of Fresh Air: I listened Thursday to Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air interview former vice president Joe Biden. It was refreshing to hear a reasoned discussion absent of hyperbole and self-aggrandizement. It got me wondering if we have become enmeshed in an era when intelligent, civil dialogue no longer is expected or the norm. 

Let me not give a wrong impression—neither Gross nor Biden hid their disapproval of Donald Trump. But they did so in articulate, non abusive language and discourse, so different from what so often passes for acceptable practice on talk shows and during public forums.

If you have 40 minutes, do yourself and the country a favor by listening to their discussion: 

Talk To Me: Whenever the subject of talking to oneself comes up I volunteer that I do. I talk to myself, I say, whenever I want good conversation.

Now that The New York Times has published results of studies showing the benefits of talking to oneself (, I guess we can expect more public displays of private patter.

For some 20 years or more we have seen lots of people babbling as they walked. General reaction at first was that more crazy people were walking among us. It was as if Elwood P. Dowd had developed the procreative trait of his friend, Harvey, the 6’ 3½” rabbit invisible to all but Dowd ( Only upon closer inspection did we come to realize cellular phone technology was at play.

Of course that meant it was harder to pick out the actual crazy people talking to themselves as they ambled among us.

For all the benefits of talking to oneself noted in the studies perhaps the perils of internal conversation can best be observed from the public admission of our fearless but scare-inducing talker-in-chief. In his famous or infamous interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump made the following admission about his reason for firing FBI director James Comey:

“And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”

And that’s how we have arrived at the point where Comey went before a Senate committee to say before the American public and the world, with klieg lights shining and cameras rolling, the president of the United States is a liar.

Many of us may have thought it but few if any would have had the courage and the character to say it in so public a forum.

Many of you might also have thought Trump is an idiot. In case you missed it, here’s an Op-Ed piece that explains the origin of the word “idiot” and how it might be conferred upon our fretful leader: