Friday, August 31, 2018

Some Acts of Protest and Praise

I try to shop Costco during the midday, the better to snag and snarf down one, er, many, of the sample foods offered throughout the store. During my most recent visit, Costco was giving out bite-sized samples of Nathan’s all beef hot dogs.

Hard to resist. But I did. At least for the short term I will defer any pleasure from swallowing a Nathan’s dog. It’s a form of resistance to the news earlier this month that Howard Lorber, executive chairman of Nathan’s, a real estate developer and one of Donald Trump’s closest friends, held a $3 million fundraiser in the Hamptons for the Republican National Committee attended by the Trumpster (

I’m under no illusions or delusions that my gastronomic protest will have any impact. Nor am I suggesting starting a consumer boycott of Nathan’s. To do so would be counter to many of my edible experiences.

For example, I obsess over Chick-fil-a chicken strips. Our daughter Ellie has admonished me for patronizing a  chain that in many policies is the antithesis of my progressive beliefs. As I generally only eat at Chick-fil-a when visiting Ellie in Omaha, I mostly adhere to her restriction, when I’m not in Omaha because there are few Chick-fil-a outlets where I live (okay, so I’m not perfect). 

It would be easy to document my other hypocrisies on food and nonfood purchases. For instance, I have never bought a German car. But I use a Braun coffeemaker and electric toothbrush. Go figure.

Which translates to a short recess from my Nathan’s denial.  What can I say? I’m an imperfect extremist. 

Neil Simon died last Sunday. He was the most successful American playwright. 

One of Gilda’s and my early dates was to a Broadway production of Simon’s The Gingerbread Lady starring Maureen Stapleton. I don’t recall any of the plot—the show opened in mid December 1970 and ran for just six months, the shortest of any Simon play, though it did secure Tony and Drama Desk awards for Stapleton. 

What I do recall is that Gilda and I wore jeans to the show. My parents were aghast that we would see a Broadway show so attired. I like to think we were in the vanguard of the movement to democratize theater attendance. 

Some 25 years later, while walking down Park Avenue to Grand Central Terminal after work I spotted Simon walking towards me. He had just come out of the Waldorf Astoria hotel. I often recognize celebrities and sports figures on Manhattan streets, luminaries including Dustin Hoffman, Richard Lewis, Johnny Damon, Al Pacino. My customary reaction is to shake their hands as I express appreciation for their work, all the while careful not to draw attention to their presence among us ordinary folks. 

In retirement I miss those serendipitous moments. 

The Last Word: Since his death last Saturday, John McCain’s farewell plans have pointedly excluded Donald Trump ( Considering how Trump treated him, one cannot really blame the Arizona senator and Vietnam war hero. 

But in publicly shunning, some would say humiliating, Trump by not only failing to invite him to any of his bereavement services but also asking former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to deliver eulogies, McCain might have missed a more visible rebuke. 

Would it not have been more of a reprobation to have Trump seated in the first pew as his two predecessors—men he has verbally criticized—praised McCain’s patriotism, heroism and commitment to bi-partisan American values? The cutting irony would not have been lost on all attendees and the millions viewing on television as cameras switched back and forth from speaker to Trump back to speaker to Trump for his reaction.

It would be reminiscent of Trump’s stern visage as he endured Obama and Seth Meyers skewer him during the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. Some pundits claim Trump immediately started planning revenge, ultimately enabled by his election in 2016. 

So maybe it wouldn’t have been a good thing to give the vengeful-hater-in-chief another reason to diss John McCain. How any veteran and prisoner of war could support Trump after the insulting manner he has displayed toward McCain is beyond my comprehension.   

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Point/Counterpoint of NFL Flag Protests

I had been meaning to write about the NFL player protests during the national anthem when a friend sent an email about a proposed fan boycott for the November 11 games. What follows are point/counterpoint, his note and my response: 

Point: You graduated high school in 2011. Your teenage years were a struggle. You grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Your mother was the leader of the family and worked tirelessly to keep a roof over your head and food on your plate. Academics were a struggle for you and your grades were mediocre at best. The only thing that made you stand out is you weighed 225 lbs. and could run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds while carrying a football.  

Your best friend was just like you, except he didn’t play football. Instead of going to football practice after school, he went to work at McDonald’s for minimum wage. You were recruited by all the big colleges and spent every weekend of your senior year making visits to universities where coaches and boosters tried to convince you their school was best. They laid out the red carpet for you. 

Your best friend worked double shifts at Mickey D’s.  College was not an option for him. On the day you signed with Big State University, your best friend signed paperwork with his Army recruiter.  You went to summer workouts.  He went to basic training.

You spent the next four years living in the athletic dorm, eating at the training table. You spent your Saturdays on the football field, cheered on by adoring fans. Tutors attended to your every academic need. You attended class when you felt like it. Sure, you worked hard. You lifted weights, ran sprints, studied plays, and soon became one of the top football players in the country.  

Your best friend was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. While you were in college, he deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice. He became a sergeant and led a squad of 19-year-old soldiers who grew up just like he did. He shed his blood in Afghanistan and watched young Americans give their lives, limbs, and innocence for the USA.

You went to the NFL combine and scored off the charts.  You hired an agent and waited for draft day. You were drafted in the first round and your agent immediately went to work, ensuring that you received the most money possible. You signed for $16 million although you had never played a single down of professional football. Your best friend re-enlisted in the Army for four more years. As a combat tested sergeant, he will be paid $32,000 per year.

You will drive a Ferrari on the streets of South Beach. He will ride in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter with 10 other combat-loaded soldiers. You will sleep at the Ritz.  He will dig a hole in the ground and try to sleep. You will “make it rain” in the club. He will pray for rain as the temperature reaches 120 degrees.

On Sunday, you will run into a stadium as tens of thousands of fans cheer and yell your name. For your best friend, there is little difference between Sunday and any other day of the week. There are no adoring fans. There are only people trying to kill him and his soldiers. Every now and then, he and his soldiers leave the front lines and “go to the rear” to rest. He might be lucky enough to catch an NFL game on TV. When the National Anthem plays and you take a knee, he will jump to his feet and salute the television. While you protest the unfairness of life in the United States, he will give thanks to God that he has the honor of defending his great country.

To the players of the NFL: We are the people who buy your tickets, watch you on TV, and wear your jerseys. We anxiously wait for Sundays so we can cheer for you and marvel at your athleticism. Although we love to watch you play, we care little about your opinions until you offend us. You have the absolute right to express yourselves, but we have the absolute right to boycott you.  

We have tolerated your drug use and DUIs, your domestic violence, and your vulgar displays of wealth. We should be ashamed for putting our admiration of your physical skills before what is morally right. But now you have gone too far. You have insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans. You are living the American dream, yet you disparage our great country.  I encourage all like minded Americans to boycott the NFL.

National boycott of the NFL for Sunday, November 11th, Veterans’ Day Weekend. Boycott all football telecast, all fans, all ticket holders, stay away from attending any games, let them play to empty stadiums. Pass this post along to all your friends and family. Honor our military, some of whom come home with the American Flag draped over their coffin.

Counterpoint: I can understand and appreciate the anger, resentment, disappointment many feel toward the players who have taken the very public protest of kneeling or some other gesture during the playing of the national anthem. You feel they are dissing the military, police, veterans, our country as represented by our flag.

When that black soldier returns home from combat and is walking around in civilian clothes, is it fair that police will treat him differently than they do white men and women? Blacks have fought in every war, from the Revolution to the Civil War, to the Indian wars to the Spanish American War to the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each time they thought they were fighting for freedom and for their country. They thought that by doing so they would be treated as equals once they returned home. 

You know they haven’t. You know they were discriminated in housing, in employment, in voting rights, in education. And now, thanks to cellphone cameras and police bodycams, we are finding out that the decades long complaint of unjustified police brutality, even killings, are not figments of a minority’s imagination but rather plain facts that are “justified” by police and politicians. Police are shooting black men who are not endangering them, who are not facing them, who are running away from them, unarmed. Police are stopping black drivers for petty violations far more than they do white drivers. Police are arresting black men for drug possession, especially marijuana, while turning a blind eye toward white people’s use of drugs. Once incarcerated a person’s potential is stifled. It is no wonder blacks are disadvantaged.

It is a privilege to play in the NFL. But consider this: as the players make their way up the ladder of pro-opportunity, how much do they truly benefit from their college programs compared to the colleges themselves? Do you not find it repulsive that the highest paid “public servant” in many a state is the head coach of the state university’s football team? 

And once they are professionals, do you not find it disingenuous that the NFL for years disavowed any correlation between playing football and degenerative brain injuries? Keep in mind that the league is predominantly populated by black players in the positions that most often have their heads battered. Any latent racism there? 

What surprises me about the player protest is how few of them actually protest and that protests have not taken hold in other leagues where blacks and Hispanics have large representation. Perhaps it is an economic consideration. After all, a pro athlete’s career ends in a manner of years, not decades, like yours or mine did. They have to maximize their income when they can. 

Instead of fans boycotting a game to show their displeasure, I wonder what would be the reaction if players boycotted a game in response to the latest police shooting of an unarmed, innocent black man. Don’t the gladiators in our sports arenas deserve to be fighting for some dignity for their fellow citizens? 

I support any American’s right to express their views on their government and the officials elected to guard our constitutional rights. I am against anyone’s politicalization of constitutional rights. Colin Kaepernick did not start his protest to overthrow the government or to express displeasure with any specific elected official. He simply wanted accountability for police actions against black people. For his “uppityness” he has been economically punished. He never lived up to his athletic potential, but compared to some of the jokers masquerading as NFL-level first string and back-up quarterbacks he more than qualifies. Yet he remains a pariah. 

Kaepernick and his compatriots kneel during the anthem not because they want to protest the military or denigrate the flag. Their actions are far less degrading than people who wear the flag as bikinis, or as part of their jeans or hug the flag as a symbol of their allegiance but hid behind suspect injury deferments to evade service in the military. 

Think about this: Using your illustration of two young men, Kaepernick et al probably know more men and women who joined the military than most Americans because the military was one of the few employment options that provided a way out of the ghetto. The fortunate ones returned from their tours of duty intact in body, mind and spirit. But they still had to confront a most dangerous threat to their lives—police quick to react and, many times, shoot to kill. 

PS: If those who want to follow through on a November 11 boycott want to do something truly meaningful, they should donate their tickets to inner city youth clubs so disadvantaged kids can get to do what only mostly white men can every weekend—attend an NFL game!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain, an American Hero, but a Conservative in Policy and Heart

I admired John McCain, the maverick Republican U.S. senator, former prisoner of war who endured more than five years of captivity and torture in North Vietnam and who dramatically gave a thumbs down to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell’s plan to kill Obamacare, despite his overall disapproval of the Affordable Care Act. Yes, McCain had his moments during a distinguished life and career that ended Saturday, four days shy of his 82nd birthday. He deserves to be lionized for a life lived to the fullest. 

But let’s not forget in his heart McCain was a conservative. Had he outpolled Barack Obama in 2008 the Supreme Court today would look vastly different. Absent would be Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan. The court’s tilt to the right would be so steep a slant that it would be decades before even a semblance of balance could be attained. The judicial packing of conservative judges on lower federal benches now underway by Trump would have been part of a sustained 16 year program started by George W. Bush and continued by McCain. 

Let’s not forget he elevated Sarah Palin to national status. She might well have been his successor as president. McCain opened the door for an inexperienced, unprepared, uninformed blowhard of a candidate to be accepted as appropriate for the most important position in the world. 

Let’s not forget he was a military hawk. Would he have engaged us in Ukraine or would Russia not have dared to take over Crimea and mettle in eastern Ukraine? Would he have pushed for involvement in the Syrian civil war? Would he have triggered a military response to North Korea’s quest for a nuclear bomb? Would he have escalated our commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan or, as a veteran of one futile war, seen the absurdity of winning any Middle Eastern conflict? 

McCain was a straight talker. He took principled positions. He understood the need for bipartisan governing. He worked with liberal senators on such issues as immigration reform and campaign finance reform. But let’s not forget: he was a conservative. Social programs to provide a safety net were not his top priority. He did not champion civil rights. 

He believed in America. Perhaps his most enduring moment came not when he defied an egotistical, mean-spirited, cold-hearted incompetent president at 2 am on the Senate floor by casting the decisive vote on Obamacare, but rather when he defended candidate Obama in 2008 as a man and woman challenged his religion and allegiance to the United States. McCain forcibly, passionately, refuted them. He disagreed with Obama’s policy ideas, but never questioned his patriotism or qualifications (

How different the tone of government would have been under McCain compared to what we have today.  But let’s not conflate McCain with compassionate Republican conservatism. All that Trump has done domestically to reduce protective regulations on business, the environment, voting rights, social services and labor safeguards would have transpired under any Republican president, including McCain. on the other hand, we probably would not be in a trade war with anyone or be hostile to our allies and friends around the world. Russia would not be favored over our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Flattery would not be the sine qua non for foreign relations. 

John McCain was a tower of a man. He was a patriot who ably represented his state and country. These last two years he was a noble foil to the fool in the White House. With his death (and the pending retirement of senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker) reason and rational thought have departed the GOP side of the Senate (save, perhaps from Ben Sasse). We are left with no mavericks but with lemmings blindly in lockstep with a leader racing to the edge of the precipice and beyond. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

American Values Are Worth Saving

Misspeaks by politicians are nothing new. From Bill Clinton's finger-pointing avowal, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” to Richard Nixon's jowel-shaking, “I am not a crook,” Americans have been treated to one doozy after another as our ruling class and would-be members try to balance the need to talk a lot with the difficulty of not saying or doing anything controversial.

Does Hillary's “a basket of deplorables” spring to mind? Or do you remember “mucaca” (monkey) from George Allen's run for a U.S. Senate seat from Virginia? How about Howard Dean's exhilarated scream to rally downcast supporters after he lost the Iowa presidential nominating caucus many expected him to win. He never recovered from the over-exuberance. 

To this short, incomplete record of history add Andrew Cuomo's foot-in-the-mouth comment that America has never been great. Never mind if he is right. All that matters in political misspeak is, does it provide an opponent endless opportunity to exploit the comment to stir up his or her base while sowing doubt among the speaker's cohort and potential followers.

The "Make America Great Again" candidate and now president pounced. Rightly so, for in politics nuance does not secure votes. Cuomo stumbled and no amount of backtracking will erase a videotape that will launch a thousand shiploads of negative ads.

There's another reality in current political conversation. No matter what Donald Trump says or does, his base will not falter. Elected Republicans and those wanting such status will not abandon him. Only those retiring or already out to pasture speak out. The former, however, still vote the party line, the party these days being the Party of Trump.

To unseat Trump independents and brainwash-free Republicans will have to put greed aside to save the republic (ignore the economy, patriots). It won’t be easy.

We hear a lot about American values. How Trump and his disciples push ideas and actions—on immigration, bashing dissenters, tax relief, support of autocrats, to name several—that are not reflective of those values, at least the values most often identified with America since the end of the second world war.

But just how complementary or contradictory is Trump to our historic values? Perhaps, our history is different than our values of the last seven decades. Perhaps, Trump is the mirror we cringe at looking into because we would see a long history of slavery, worker exploitation, racism, xenophobia, restrictive immigration, eugenics, repression of dissent during times of war, boundless executive authority, discrimination of the latest wave of immigrants.

Cuomo might well have been thinking of these stains on our heritage when he spoke. But telling the American people the truth is not always the wisest or safest road to the White House.

A year ago, former vice president Joseph Biden talked about American values in an Op-Ed printed in The New York Times.
Under the headline "Reclaiming American Values," Biden phrased them thusly: inclusivity, tolerance, diversity, respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press. If these are the democratic principles we wish to see around the world, America must be the first to model them."

Let's be honest. America did not always embrace them. Sadly, Trump gets a failing grade for all of them. Even more sad, the Republican Party has abandoned its principles to blindly follow him down the rabbit hole. Saddest of all, nearly half the American public has turned its back on what it should have learned in any basic civics class.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Food Edition: Meals, Drinks, IBD and Cookies

You are what you eat, we’ve been told time immemorial. If that’s true, we have lots to be sorry about for the regretful state of our health from overeating and overdrinking. 

Let’s start off with a whopper of a “hamburger” story, and I’m not referring to anything Burger King is trying to foist on consumers. Rather, the Arizona Cardinals football team has unveiled the Gridiron Challenge Burger as part of its new lineup of stadium food. 

I would get nauseated writing all the ingredients, so I’ll let you tease your appetite by listening to the makeup of this seven pound (yes, your read that correctly, seven pound) hamburger:

Perhaps breakfast is the meal you like to binge on. Well, then head off to Minnesota to take a bite into McDonald’s new McGriddles French Toast sandwich, being tested in Gopher State units:

Has all that heavy food made you thirsty? How about some free beer? Sounds too good to be true? Yer right, if you live in Cleveland. 

According to The Verge, “Bud Light has put together something special for the fans of the eternally suffering Cleveland Browns: Cleveland Browns Victory Fridges, a bunch of custom-made, internet-connected fridges that will only open when the Browns manage to snap their winless streak (currently at 17 games and counting)”

Sports and beer—natural companions. So, too, are politics and beer. But not everyone can disassociate one’s feelings for a beer and a specific politician.

After a co-founder of Samuel Adams Beer reportedly thanked Donald Trump for tax cuts, Somerville, Mass.,  Mayor Joseph Curtatone tweeted, “I will never drink Sam Adam’s beer again!”

Maybe those hardy meals upset your stomach. Maybe it triggered some IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). No problem. Just puff away on some marijuana, purely for medicinal relief, mind you, say scientists:

Ever wonder why scientists have yet to find the cure for all cancers? Must be because they’re too busy working on such humanity-saving research as to the exact way to snap dry spaghetti into two equal pieces (

Finally, let’s get the lawyers involved. Which creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie do you prefer, an Oreo or a Hydrox? 

Until relatively recently, those who kept kosher couldn’t answer anything but Hydrox as Oreo’s ingredients included lard while Hyrdox used vegetable shortening. That changed 20 years ago when Oreo switched to vegetable shortening.

The taste battle has been joined by a battle for shelf space in supermarkets. In a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, Hydrox is claiming Oreo is unfairly “hiding” its cookies on grocers’ shelves from consumers (

I’m officially neutral on this choice. At one time my breakfast consisted of four Oreo or Hydrox cookies dipped in milk. Both soothed my craving. Both, equally and unfortunately, coated my teeth in chocolate and contributed to my many youthful cavities.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Going beyond The Times for Daily News

The New York Times is considered by many as the newspaper of record. Naturally, I try to read it as much as I can. But one of my more quirky, informative reads is the US Daily Mail, from which I offer several examples from Monday’s news feed (there will be lots of links to click on, but well worth your time). 

Paris Public “Pissoirs:” Ever have the urge to go, just a tinkle, mind you, while out in public? In Paris, it seems, men have no compunction about urinating in the street. So the city fathers are assessing a radical idea: Public street-facing urinals disguised as flower-boxes, reports The Daily Mail. For more on this fluid story, click here:

Weaponizing Planes? Is a plane the new weapon of choice for suicide and/or murder? We all have heard about the worker who stole a plane from Sea-Tac Airport and ultimately crashed to his death. But how many are familiar with the story of a disgruntled husband who tried to kill his estranged wife and her son by crashing a plane into their home? They survived. He didn’t:

Black Like Me? Not: Here are several examples of what it is like being black. 

I wonder how many pregnant white women have had the same experience as this black lady:

Or how many white campers encountered this reaction during a field trip to an aquarium:

Ageless in Vermont: Vermont has given us Bernie Sanders, a septuagenarian who wants to be president. Now the Green Mountain state has a 14-year-old legitimately running for governor. Check him out:

Chain Migration: First Lady Melania Trump’s parents just became U.S. citizens thanks to chain migration, an immigration rule Donald Trump and his creepy acolyte Stephen Miller want to do away with, now that their families have benefitted from it. 

If you haven’t seen it, Miller’s uncle on his mother’s side wrote an impassioned piece in Politico addressing his nephew’s cold rejection of the lifesaving rule that saved their family from extermination by Nazi Germany. Here are two links, a news story from The Daily Mail ( and the full essay from Politico (

Family Values: Someone needs to get it through to the Trump Administration that family values really do matter, that separating children from parents is not what America stands for. Here’s the latest outrage, as The Daily Mail headlined: “Married US gov workers told adopted Peruvian daughter will be DEPORTED:

Bear Facts: Finally, some uplifting news—several Ussuri brown bears have been released from tiny cages in Japan after 17 years or more of captivity. They were brought to Britain to an animal sanctuary. That’s the good news, though you may wonder why they were so maltreated in the first place: 

Sometimes, you have to look elsewhere for “all the news that’s fit to print.”

Sunday, August 5, 2018

On Vacation in Canada, Impossible to Escape Trumpdom

Gilda and I are back from two weeks in the Pacific Northwest (mostly British Columbia and Alberta). I will post more about our trip but for now let me share with you the restful experience of an almost two week relief from daily exposure to Trumpdom. Oh sure, Canada is not an untamed wilderness with no television or radio. 

Rather, we made a conscious effort to refrain from tuning to the news. We checked web sites like The New York Times, AP and the U.S. Daily Mail, but found it quite mellowing to not have to listen to the drivel pouring forth from our mean-spirited ignoramus-in-chief. 

Having noted our departure from almost round-the-waking-clock exposure to tempest-in-the-Trump, let me point out some of the disruptive stories that pierced my shield of Donald-defense:

Pretty Woman: Was I the only one who saw a similarity between the looks of Trump’s chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg—short, stocky, balding and be-speckled—and that of corporate mogul Richard Gere’s sleezy chief financial officer/henchman in Pretty Woman, played by Jason Alexander? Check out this photo:

Laugh Lines: Trump has several catch phrases: “Fake news.” “Sad.” “No collusion.” Add to the list, “We’re the laughingstock of the world.”

He uses it to promote his agenda, as he did the other day in saying he would not mind if the government shuts down if Congress doesn’t allocate the funds he wants for his southern border wall. 

Trump is correct. We have become the laughingstock of the world, but not for the reasons he believes. It is because of his wacky behavior both in the political and personal arenas. 

Greed: How much greed can average Americans accept before they rebel? 

The top one percenters want to get another $100 billion windfall by having Trump bypass Congress to unilaterally (and possibly illegally) change the way capital gains are computed. 

Even Trump’s alma mater thinks the idea is loony. 

“According to the budget model used by the  University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, indexing capital gains to inflation would reduce government revenues by $102 billion over a decade, with 86 percent of the benefits going to the top 1 percent. A July report from the Congressional Research Service said that the additional debt incurred by indexing capital gains to inflation would most likely offset any stimulus that the smaller tax burden provided to the economy.

“It is unlikely, however, that a significant, or any, effect on economic growth would occur from a stand-alone indexing proposal,” the report said.”

Apparently, our “genius” president thinks he knows more than the professors. After all, his business acumen enabled him to file for bankruptcy protection six times. 

A Critical Eye on CBS: Under his leadership CBS has enjoyed unending salad days. But now that Leslie Moonves has the cloud of sexual harassment swirling around his past and continued reign at the so-called platinum network, it might be instructive to recall his response to the dehumanization of politics, as practiced by Trump:  

“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” 

“Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? ... The money’s rolling in and this is fun,” he told a February 2016 gathering at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Perhaps if we knew then of Moonves’ sketchy past we might have placed his remarks in their proper context, one alleged sexual abuser reflecting on another.

CBS has a long, cherished and respected history of journalism. But like too many other electronic media CBS concentrated more on the hype of the Trump campaign than on the substance. As the aforementioned section asked, how much greed must we accept before our political and business leaders place values and principles, and sense, above dollars and cents?

Follow the Time Line: Trump met with the publisher and editorial page editor of The Times on July 20 to discuss press relations ( 

Apparently, it had no effect, as just four days later, when speaking in Kansas City, MO, to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he said of the press, “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. 

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Undermining the validity, not to mention the patriotism and safety, of the press is standard operating procedure for demagogues who seek ultimate power. Regrettably, veterans booed and hissed at the press corps (

Trump as Schnorrer: It’s been widely reported that Trump has welched on full payments to contractors. Now, it seems, Trump has elevated himself to schnorrer, the Yiddish term for “beggar” or “sponger.” He is reported to have wanted a renowned portrait artist, who had already painted all of Trump’s family, to paint Melania for free! The artist refused. How refreshing to find someone who stood up to Trump.

Danger of Trump Fatigue: In May 2017 I wrote about the Trump fatigue factor (“The fatigue factor is setting in. Donald Trump and his gang that couldn’t shoot straight is overwhelming me. There’s too much to write. If I miss a day the accumulated copy weighs me down.”)

Steve Schmidt, the ex-Republican strategist who recently left the ranks of the GOP because its leadership abandoned its principles and capitulated to Trump, capsulized the danger to America on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday night. Listen, this is important: