The Buried Giant by Kasuo Ishiguro – Book

I almost didn’t read The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro because it sounded childish and so I put it on my list of books-to-read, but it was a ways down. Then Ishiguro won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature and I moved the book to the top of my list. I discovered that this is no child’s book, although it is a fantasy that reads a bit like a fairy tale, but more in the old Grimm’s brother’s mode than in the newer spirit of the culturally appropriate versions we tell our children these days.

There is a giant buried under Briton but no one remembers it’s there because a mist or spell has made people forget their past almost as soon as they have lived it. The Saxons live in complexes of interconnected caves and we find Axl and Beatrice in a cave, a lonely cave, set at the very end of such a series of caves. As punishment, perhaps for being elderly, they are no longer allowed to have a candle to get them through the long, dark night. In a snatch of memory that comes and goes they remember that they have a son and they think they remember that he went south to a new village. Perhaps the mist is getting less dense and that is why these thoughts slip through.

Beatrice and Axl seem a lovely, devoted couple. They hold hands. Axl hugs her quite a lot. He addresses her as Princess (does it seem after a while to resemble the “yes dear” uttered by some modern husbands?) Beatrice and Axl have talked many times about leaving their village and going to their son. On this particular occasion they finally make their departure. Beatrice has a pain in her side that will not go away but she keeps up with her husband. On their journey they also hope to find out what causes this infernal mist on their minds. They decide to take a longer route in order to consult some wise people about Beatrice’s pain and as a result they meet some surprisingly interesting people, and they become part of some very significant events.

But memory is not always as sweet as we think it will be. Sometimes, perhaps what is buried should remain buried. The giant that has been buried is all of the animosity that survived the invasion of the Britons into the Saxon lands. And the mist makes sure that these things stay buried. How do Beatrice and Axl come to learn of this? How does their journey turn into a quest? The Britons had an enlightened leader. He tried to stop his men from raping and pillaging, but battles release chemicals that leave men wanting rewards for their victories and the toll on the Saxons is as terrible as the toll in any war when the victors help themselves to the “spoils” of war.

Are there parallels in this for our times? I see some in the Pandora’s Box of ancient hatreds that were harbored in the hearts of various cultural/religious groups in Iraq and kept in check only by a ruler who used threats and tortures to keep these groups from each other’s throats. I see this in our own country which has buried the victory of the anti-slavery forces in order to keep our nation whole, an act which allowed the losers to act like the victors for far too long at the expense of Americans of African Descent and our future unity. This has implications for those who like to say that the Holocaust never happened.

While forgetting may keep the peace for a while the costs of forgetting may be great and the repercussions different than could ever be imagined. Forget or remember – is either a good choice as long as there is hate and war and “the other”? Now I don’t know if these parallels were all intended by Ishiguro in his book The Buried Giant, or if you will interpret the tale in similar ways, but the story is following me around like a bit of a nag and asking me to think about it some more, and that is a good thing.

To the Media: Don’t Poke the Elephants

The media, especially the media on the left, loves to hector Trump about his lack of accomplishments but this is a dangerous pastime if you consider Trump’s personal reactions to criticism. As he says, he’s a puncher. Are some in the media trying to keep him punching back – because that is his most likely move should they keep up their taunts. I not sure it’s a move that bodes well for we the people.

The truth is that I hate the Republican agenda. I think it is important to keep the GOP from getting the policies it says it wants like limited government, sending block grants to the states for health, education, and welfare and much more. The Federal government they want will only be about the military, the budget and foreign affairs. But governments should not be armies, at least they should not be only about armies. Governments should be about societies and people. Governments should not just be about money, and our government should not be in the business of trading power for dollars.

While it is true that many Americans cannot contribute enough tax dollars to support the safety net programs they use, it is wrong to kick folks when they are down, especially after you have stolen all their money through legislation that favors those of you who already are affluent.

While our economy may not be booming as it has been in the past, it will eventually find the impetus to thrive again. The GOP does not want to wait for a real organic boom based on a new age of innovation. They want to keep stimulating the economy to produce profits through artificial stimuli, things that don’t work like “trickle down”. In the 21st century you probably cannot produce a boom out of thin air, at least if you happen to be a party that doesn’t even believe in the need to find and use alternative energies. They won’t get a boom using their “mean” plans to force the poor to sink or swim. They won’t get a boom from their plan to pocket even more American tax dollars no matter how limited a government we end up with. They may get a boom from a war, but that could be the big boom, the one that brings about the apocalypse (hint: there are no zombies, when you die, you die).

If the GOP accomplishes its big policy items, we the people get screwed and America changes forever. We all lose. Small government favors capitalism and capitalists; they get government off their backs in terms of regulation. But Capitalism and capitalists have already won so much. If what they want is more profit and they can only get it by cutting their burdens loose, then guess what their burdens consist of, all of the rest of us who are not wealthy. They no longer want to honor the bargain of a democratic government which relies on proportional contributions from the various constituencies. They feel that they have created a population that refuses to work and places a constant drag on their fortunes. They do not agree that they passed laws that have allowed them to horde the money that we all should have shared.

We could possibly innovate our way to a new economic boom. If tax dollars, instead of going to cuts, went to budget initiatives to get Americans trained in mathematics, science and technology the new Henry Ford might pop out of the herd. If we did not isolate ourselves but let the pungent stew that is created when people from different nations mix and mingle and learn, then we might have a new Bill Gates or Steven Jobs or Elon Musk. We could put our money into research and patronage of innovators. But the GOP has decided to choose this moment in time to decide that intelligence is vastly overrated and is just a political inconvenience that makes it harder to turn the media into a propaganda tool. Fortunately the best of our media still has not gone down this route, but oddly enough the fake media is far more popular than the legitimate media and this is also by design. I may be busy chastising the reliable media folks, but I still value them very highly.

However, I am upset with the “real” media for egging Trump and the GOP on to get something big done. I get it that you think they will fail and you want to be right, but in the meantime, quietly and steadily, behind the scenes both Trump and the GOP (especially the cabinet and the House of Representatives) are transforming Washington and not in good ways. Less regulation is unlikely to have much of a positive effect on business, but can have severe detriments for the rights of we the people. People may no longer be protected from injury on their jobs. Consumers will not be protected from usurious lenders. Children may be born with birth defects if farmers go back to using a fertilizer that was banned because it scrambled genes. And regulations are being overturned each and every day. Climate regulations, regulations that protect workers and consumers, regulations that prevent “creative” investment scams that could bring us to the brink of another recession or worse. The beastly bits of Capitalism in America have been freed and we are what the beast feeds on. Pretty soon it will be as if Obama was never our enlightened President at all.

So why does the media talk about tax reform, particularly GOP tax reform, as something that needs to be passed. All tax reforms are not equal. Whether tax reform is carefully considered or not depends on the ideology of those making the cuts. The media should be stressing over and over again that this is not the middle class tax cut vehicle it is being advertised to be. They need to keep reminding us that the middle class nets very little from this round of tax cuts despite what you see in the folksy ads that sponsor your local news each night. The Republican plan benefits those who are already wealthy far more than it benefits the middle class. Not one more cent should go to wealthy Americans. They do not need any more money. They cannot even spend what they have in several lifetimes, and they have more than forgotten that they stole it from you, in some cases by begrudging appropriate payment for your labors. The media is our memory and our organizer; they need to keep lists for us of all the regulations we have lost. We need to be reminded of how much of our government has already been dismantled.

Why are you folks we still trust, you guys in the “real” media; why are you poking the elephants? Why are you constantly annoying them by stressing what they haven’t been able to accomplish? Trump is the one being most riled by your poking around. This tactic, however satisfying, will only make the beast rage and we will be punished with terrible laws all passed under the rules of reconciliation; rules used in ways they were never intended to be used.

We could just enjoy a quiet glee if Trump and the GOP are unable to do their worst and wait until later when we are free of them all for our premature high fives. It looks like you folks will not be able to forgo ratings, to stop trying to goad our ersatz government to pass the things we don’t want passed. Keep it up and there may not ever be any high fives. Perhaps letting the GOP do their damage at a faster pace will cause the fallacies of their policies to show up sooner, rather than later? But I worry that this little trip back in time could last far longer than we will like and change America beyond all recognition. Perhaps you are trying to create an elephant stampede led by a rogue elephant…there are all kinds of possibilities in that, but again, not all the possibilities are good ones.

The New York Times, part of the “real” media, keeping it real:

Trump and Racism: Guilt by Association?

I would like to think that Donald Trump is a racist and a white supremacist/white nationalist because he has been turned into a pod person á la Invasion of the Body Snatchers (movie) by watching too much Fox News, but after my researches I can see that this that is not the case. All sources seem to agree that Trump’s penchant for making derogatory remarks that arise from the ethnic identities of people (who are classified racially as anything other than white) is a trait that he has displayed quite publicly for decades.

I don’t know why we pussyfoot (do you like the way I worked in the word pussy because Donald Trump is also a misogynist) around labeling Trump as a racist and a white supremacist, but we do. We say that Donald Trump likes to surround himself with alt-right types who are avowed white nationalists which really means white supremacists. But we are loathe to assume that he is one of their company.

White nationalists claim that they do not feel superior to people of color, they simply feel that the United States was founded as a white, Christian nation and they want it to stay that way. White supremacists, of course, do contend that white folks of European descent are superior in every way to all others.

I say that the white nationalists are simply not as honest about their true feelings, but that they truly do believe that whites are superior. They may, however, in their heart of hearts (if they have them) see that white supremacists got a bad name in Nazi Germany and they want to disassociate themselves from the horror people connect with the deeds that white supremacy justified.

Donald, of course, says he does not have a racist bone in his body and I recently remember hearing one of his old acquaintances repeat this claim. It is a specious claim considering that racism is stored in the brain and there are no bones in the brain. And like many things that Mr. Trump says it is a lie, although he has possibly convinced himself through repetition that it is true.

Donald Trump is a 50’s guy who uses inappropriate terms to describe minority people, terms others have discarded because they are offensive. He is proud that he does not bow to the changing norms of what is culturally appropriate and his followers like this about him. But using racist language shows a real lack of respect for the feelings of the people these terms were intended to denigrate. Refusing to adjust his language reflects his refusal to adjust his mindset. Conjugate the verbs; he was a racist, he is a racist, he will be a racist. And he does think white folks are superior.

If my logic is not enough to convince, even though others agree with it, then look at the people he brought into the White House with him. We are not supposed to make someone guilty by association, but I do not know anyone who would be willing to consort with this band of haters. We have Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, Sebastian Gorka and their cohorts outside of the White House, Alex Jones and Richard Spencer, et al.

Steve Bannon

Steve Miller:

Sebastian Gorka

Others that are connected through and the media to Donald Trump:

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn, Jr.

Alex Jones

Richard Spencer

Milo Yiannopoulos

Things Trump says and does:

Trump on Obama: ‘Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?’

Trump on Mexican immigrants: ‘Criminals and rapists’

… “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said in 2015. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“And some,” he added, “I assume, are good people.”

Trump on dead Muslim soldier’s mother: ‘Allowed to speak?’

United States Army Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004. His parents, Americans with Pakistani roots, spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, criticizing Trump’s candidacy and its inherent racism. The father, Khizr Khan, spoke; his wife, Ghazala, stood by him.

Trump’s interpretation of the scene: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably – maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

Trump on right-wing extremism: ‘Racism is evil,’ or is it?

Trump was at first quiet following last weekend’s violence between left and right-wing protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then the president blamed “violence on both sides,” without explicitly calling out neo-Nazis and other racists. Following fierce criticism at home and abroad, Trump finally made a clear statement: “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”

However, at a press conference just a few days later, Trump changed course: “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he said.

Trump’s critics charge that he has not done enough to credibly distance himself from white-supremacist and other right-wing movements. His aide, Steve Bannon, was editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, a mouthpiece of the far-right movement known as alt-right.

Many right-wing activists and groups feel emboldened by Trump’s comments. Critics say he does not do enough to distance himself from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the alt-right movement.


We certainly have had racists in our government before, and even white supremacists who did not perhaps use that label but clearly expressed such views. We have never elected a blatantly racist/white nationalist/white supremacist as our President before, however.

Perhaps this is a backlash-President elected by people who were stunned by having a black man in the oval office as our President. Perhaps it is a reaction to the oft-repeated message that white people will soon make up a minority of the American population.

The roots of racism have always been deep in this nation and hard to extract. We have watched for a recovery from our Civil War which has never really happened. The murmurings sometimes become shouts as they seem to be now during the Trump administration. Perhaps this is because we see an unholy alliance between those who still fight the Civil War and those who resent seeing immigrants of color and immigrants from non-Christian nations, especially those here without proper documents, seemingly “changing the face” of our (supposed) (white) American “exceptualism.”

We need to remember that whenever Trump makes a decision or backs a policy this supremacist strain comes into play, consciously or unconsciously, and he may even have consulted some of these alt-right (racist) cronies to help him set his priorities.

We can see this in his travel ban, his deportation plans, his waffling over DACA, the importance he places on the wall, his reluctance to stick to agreements with non-European nations or contribute to programs that assist non-European nations (with the exception of Israel and, in fact, many Israelis have European roots).

We see this in his unwillingness to give credence to the violent acts, intimidations, and acts of hate that are in the DNA of groups like the KKK that join forces with the newer white supremacy groups; and in his failure to see the difference between Antifa and these alt-right groups.

There is nothing in our Constitution that prevents a racist from holding office, even the office of Presidency. In fact many will argue that since some of the authors of the Constitution and the early leaders in our government owned slaves that this President fits right in with our origins. Public cultural values have evolved since the days of our forefathers and racism is considered ignorant and wrong because our thinking has progressed.

And yet here we are with a racist President who would be happy to have all his jackbooted friends resting with their dogs and guns, feet on the fender of the fireplace, which we can easily picture taking up space in the oval office. And this President refuses to admit that this harmful aberration is a real part of his nature at all.

Do we remain constantly vigilant and resist, even while it all seems so distant and harmless, or do we let the worst be done and then try to clean it up afterwards? I know history swings around, that it is perhaps more like a spiral than a straight line, but knowing what we know now how can we not call out this racism each time it rears its ugly head. How do we accept any future that is not globalist in scope and inclusive of all living things on the planet? This is another one of the facets of Trump that causes us to worry and keeps us feeling that we must be always ready to resist.

Ta-NeHisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power

“It is not so much that I logically reasoned out that Obama’s election

would author a post-racist age. But it now seemed possible

that white supremacy, the scourge of American history, might be banished in my lifetime.”



Capitalism Run Amok

What if the only thing wrong with our government is that it has too many Capitalists messing with it? It occurs to me that perhaps the Great Factory Migration, globalism, and the rather turgid state of the America economy, and in fact the slowing economies of what I will call “old” Capitalist nations are all creating panic attacks in the ranks of our millionaires and billionaires. These folks have decided that they can boost the economy by pulling the strings of government. Am I against Capitalism as a way to do business? No, I am not. But what we are seeing convinces me that Capitalism definitely needs to be regulated.

Why are rich businessmen way too involved in our government? They blame the government for the current state of the economy and of business in America. Everything the GOP regurgitates as domestic policy has been dictated to them by their pals in the private sector. Who does it benefit to trim back the responsibilities of the federal government to only those spelled out in the Constitution? Well, since it includes plans to get rid of our social safety net programs, it doesn’t benefit we the people so that makes it fairly easy to ascertain who benefits. Wealthy corporatists benefit.

Who is most happy to see the House of Representatives and Donald Trump go on a spree reversing every regulation on business and on the environment? Well these reversals do not benefit we the people regardless of what some Americans have been lead to believe. Once again the benefits accrue to big business (which has not been looking big enough to please the wealthiest Conservative businessmen.)

While it may be true that the President cannot have any significant effect on the stock market, the Capitalists can. They can be more bullish about investing and freer with their dollars when they like the direction in which governance is moving. Since the Capitalist have bought and paid for the GOP and since the GOP is in charge of all three branches of government our “oligarchs” are, in a sense, applauding the current state of affairs in Washington. This is the sort of gentlemen’s club way of saying, “now we’re talking.” Donald Trump doesn’t bother these folks. He may be gauche but he is still one of them. One of them One of them.

Perhaps it is not really members of Congress who still believe in “trickle down” economics at all. Perhaps they have been “body-snatched” by corporate heads who like the way this economic approach lines their pockets. Corporate types must realize that if they corner all the dollars there will no consumers, and that will be bad for their profits and their comforts. It won’t be much fun to live in a dirty, sick, and poverty-stricken world. But I guess they can arrange to turn certain states (not blue states) into small worlds that they can control as they have already established control, with the help of the Republicans and ALEC, of at least 30 state governments.

It seems that if we could get money out of government, get these billionaires and millionaires a new hobby then our government might be able to return to regular order. How do we do that? We could try to overturn all the invasive laws passed at their command, such as Citizen’s United v FEC, etc. but the numbers are not on the side of we the people right now. Perhaps these wealthy meddlers are just bored.

Space is the answer to everything. We could be like North Korea, a nation which puts all its resources into bombing those who they hate, except we could put all those resources that are lining the idle pockets of the corporatists into figuring out how to travel in space, and do it without starving the American people. Think of all the resources that could be mined without ruining the few pristine spaces left on this planet. It couldn’t hurt to have the focus of every nation turned skyward so that we would perhaps stop sniping at each other on this planet which is seeming too small to contain us.

You may think that I am just a nut, but I am quite serious about this. Of course it will not bring only positive things but it will be interesting enough and, in the end, profitable enough to keep us occupied for centuries as the last Age of Discovery did. It involves terrible risks and I suppose the entire human race could be wiped out, but that could happen if we don’t try for the stars, and it would be far from a noble experience.

See which led me to think these thoughts.


Narcissism Makes Trump Trump

Why does Trump act like he does?

Part One

This is a very long article, but it is sort of like a “greatest hits” album. You have heard all or most of this before. It simply appears in a new framework.

If we examine each of the traits the DSM lists for Narcissistic Personality Disorder we can match each trait to actions Trump has taken or things Trump has said. We do not even have to make an exhaustive or complete list relative to each trait in order for the evidence to be fairly damning.

Has this particular mental disorder kept rulers from having powerful effects on world history? Not at all. In fact it is probably true that many rulers displayed signs that they had this particular form of mental disorder. However many of these leaders were authoritarian and the legacies they gave civilizations that came after them were not always positive. (Hitler) Narcissism does not seem as compatible with a democratic form of government. These character traits almost always lead eventually to an authoritarian style of leadership even if the way of governing purports to be something more egalitarian.


First Trait: having an exaggerated sense of self-importance:

I could shoot some on Park Ave…


Billy Bush and Trump disrespect women…


Second Trait: expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it:

Trump exaggerating inauguration crowd…

The crowd-size controversy began on Saturday, Jan. 21, a day after the inauguration, when President Trump claimed the media had misrepresented the number of people attending his inauguration. Trump spoke at CIA headquarters and said that “one of the networks” had shown “an empty field,” while he saw a crowd that “looked like a million-and-a-half people” and “went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”

Trump claimed that “we caught [the media] in a beauty, and I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

Cabinet members awkwardly praising Trump…


Third Trait: exaggerating achievements and talents

I (Trump) will give you the best health care plan and it will cost less… Here is piece of the full timeline you can find in The Atlantic.

September 27, 2015: Repeal and replace

“Obamacare’s going to be repealed and replaced,” Trump told Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes. “Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what’s going on with premiums where they’re up 45, 50, 55 percent.”

He was vague on the details, but insisted that all Americans will have insurance. “There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered… I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

November 11, 2016: No preference

Jump ahead to right after the election. Trump told The Wall Street Journal he has no fixed position, but would consider just trying to fix the existing law. “Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced,” he said.

November 13, 2016: Simultaneous repeal and replace

Two days later, Trump was again on 60 Minutes, where he told Lesley Stahl he wants both to eliminate the law and to put in place a new one at the same time.

January 9, 2017: Simultaneous repeal and replace

Despite Trump’s statements, Republican leaders began floating the idea of repealing Obamacare first and replacing it later, likely recognizing that while a majority of the GOP caucus in both houses favors repeal, they have divergent views about what a replacement look like. (After seven years of promising repeal, leaders still had no viable plan.) But Senator Rand Paul believes that Congress should do both at once, and he convinced Trump to go along with it. The Wall Street Journal reported:

“I believe we should vote on replacement the same day we vote on repeal,” Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said in an interview Monday. Mr. Trump called the senator on Friday night “to say he agrees completely,” Mr. Paul said.

January 15, 2017: ‘Insurance for everybody’

Trump told The Washington Post that he was close to unveiling a plan with the leaders of the House and Senate that would give insurance to everybody, lower deductibles, and lower premiums.

March 7, 2017: Trump backs House plan

On March 6, House Republican leaders unveiled their repeal-and-replace plan, which immediately took fire from all sides. Conservatives saw it as far too timid, but it also failed to meet the criteria that Trump had laid out. It increased premiums, slashed Medicaid (despite a Trump campaign promise not to touch entitlements), and would result—the CBO said a week later—in 21 million more uninsured Americans by 2021. Nonetheless, Trump backed the plan:

March 24, 2017: Wait for Obamacare to collapse

On March 24, the House bill collapsed, with Speaker Paul Ryan pulling it and acknowledging he didn’t have the votes to pass it. “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode,” Trump says in the Oval Office. He said he planned to move on to tax reform and let Democrats come to him when the current system collapses.

(As you know, there is much more to this time line and you can find the rest of it here:

I will build a great wall


I can be more presidential than anyone since Lincoln


Best ever list

  1. “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” America needs jobs. The Donald will deliver.
  2. “I’m really rich! I’ll show you that in a second. And by the way: I’m not even saying that in a brag.” Trump is richer than you. And more humble, too.


  1. “I’m the most militaristic person.” Is that actually a good quality? I would have gone with Genghis Khan . . .


  1. “I will build a great wall . . . and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.” We will probably have to take The Donald’s word on this one.


  1. “Hillary Clinton was the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States. Hillary was the worst. In the history of the United States there’s never been a secretary of state so bad as Hillary.” Whoa now. Don’t sell John Kerry short.


  1. “I would use the greatest minds. I know the best negotiators. I’m in New York — I know the good ones, the bad ones. I always say: ‘I know the ones people think are good.’ I know people you’ve never heard of that are better than all of them.” The man behind The Apprentice will stock his cabinet with the best of the best.


  1. “If you really love this country you have a very, very hard time convincing people that what you’re doing is right and that you’re really smart. And, like, a lot of us are really smart. I’m really smart — I went to the Wharton School of Finance.” Trump attended an Ivy League school, so he’s not like those bozos George W. Bush and Barack Obama.


  1. “I would hit [ISIS] so hard your head would spin.” Trump is probably right about this one. He has, after all, been inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hall of Fame. — Mark Antonio Wright is an intern at National Review. Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its initial publication. Share article on Facebook Tweet article Plus one article on Google PlusRead more at:


Fourth Trait: believing you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people.

Reporter with disability


Insulting Rosie O’Donnell

At last night’s presidential debate, Republican candidate Donald Trump engaged in a number of activities no rational person could have anticipated a presidential candidate might do, such as accusing an unnamed, hypothetical person “that weighs 400 pounds” of hacking the DNC, suggesting Clinton does not have the “stamina” to be president, interjecting that not paying federal taxes “makes me smart,” and sniffing with wild abandon throughout. He also brought up Rosie O’Donnell. Why does he keep doing that?

Donald Trump: I Think Everyone Can Agree Rosie O’Donnell Deserved to Be Called a Fat Pig

“Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her and I think everyone would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her,” Trump said, for some reason, in response to the allegation that he says terrible things about women. This seemingly random feud, as we’ve been made continually aware, has been going on for a while.

Donald Trump’s Cabinet richest in U.S. history, historians say

“And one newspaper criticized me, ‘Why can’t they have people of modest means?’” Trump said at a Des Moines, Iowa rally. “Because I want people that made a fortune. Because now they’re negotiating with you, okay?”

How rich? CBS News estimates seven of Trump’s picks are worth a combined $11 billion.

Betsy DeVos, nominated for secretary of education, comes from a family worth more than $5 billion; Linda McMahon, picked for small business administrator, has family wealth worth $1.2 billion; And Vincent Viola, the choice for Army secretary, is worth $1.77 billion.

“I guess they have a few poor millionaires on it, but mostly it’s billionaires,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Critics like Sanders say Trump’s choices fly in the face of his populist campaign message. “You don’t appoint a Cabinet of billionaires to be taking on the establishment,” he said on Sunday’s “Face The Nation.”

Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury pick has been estimated to be worth as much as $655 million. He and commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, worth $2.5 billion, recently said they were attuned to the plight of working Americans.

“It’s also not true all jobs are created equal. A guy that used to work in the steel mill, now flipping hamburgers, he knows it’s not the same,” Ross said in an appearance on CNBC.

Having millionaire and billionaire cabinet secretaries is not unprecedented. They tend to attract slots at Treasury and Commerce. But neither President Obama nor President George W. Bush had a single billionaire in their first Cabinets.

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Trump like to surround himself with Generals (reflected glory)…


Fifth Trait: requiring constant admiration

First President to hold eight campaign-style rallies after inauguration.

Since the 2016 election, President Trump has held eight campaign rallies across the country. President Trump claims the rallies allow him to speak directly to the American people, but others believe they are meant to distract the public and massage Trump’s ego—rather than further his agenda. While it is not uncommon for sitting presidents to hold rallies leading up to their re-election, many are surprised as to why the president has held so many his first year in office. What do you think?

Following President Trump’s controversial rally in Phoenix, many are asking why a sitting president continues to hold campaign rallies so early in his term. President Obama held his first post-inaugural rally nearly six months into his presidency, which specifically focused on garnering support for a fellow Democrat’s re-election campaign. President Trump’s rallies, on the other hand, do not appear to be designed to support other candidates or pushing specific policy objectives.

“Trump’s tactics aren’t new, but his agenda is. His emotional campaigning serves solely as a tool for self-aggrandizement, rather than fulfilling its historic function of channeling voter enthusiasm toward a particular legislative program. His rallies, which are notably about him and not about policies, raise deep concerns about a president who uses emotional politics to build a cult of personality rather than to pass laws.”

Someone on a news show (I don’t remember which one) suggested that Trump’s rallies are like the visits of the aging soap star to malls because signing autographs lifted her spirits and her ego. (Sally Fields)

Wants Hillary to run against him in 2020

Trump hopes Hillary runs against him in 2020 (He probably wants to hear the Trumpers say “lock her up”.)


Sixth Trait: having a sense of entitlement:

He has golden toilets.

Best chocolate cake


Trump doesn’t have to obey the emoluments clause ( which says Presidents can’t earn money from foreign sources while in office).

Trump doesn’t have to pay attention to traditional taboos on nepotism (or laws, apparently).

Trump thinks the White House is a dump

He is quoted in this article in Vox.

Trump: the White House is “a real dump”


Seveth Trait: expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectation.

Trump fired James Comey even though it made Trump look guilty of collusion with the Russians.

Trump wants to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from presiding over the Russian investigation and for not being a Trump Toady.

He is irate that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell can’t get health care to pass. He expresses his anger in early morning tweets and he pretends to turn to the Democrats which the Republicans, now in charge of our entire government will definitely hate.

Perhaps he has abandoned making sure “we the people” all get affordable health care (but not Obamacare) as retribution for the demonstrations against the House and Senate plans.

He refuses to show us his taxes.


Eighth Trait: taking advantage of others to get what you want.

There is a possibility that Trump used Paul Manafort for his Russian connection, unless Putin was using Manafort to connect with Trump. Perhaps it was mutual.

Sending his children to take a meeting ostensibly about “Russian adoptions” or Hillary Clinton “dirt” but possibly about sanctions against Russia that Russia wanted lifted and then writing them a note as an “excuse”.

He surrounds himself with generals to give him more cachet.

(There are too many examples of this to list and some are too personal for us to know about, I am thinking.)


Ninth Trait: having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feeling of others:

Puerto Rico tone deafness-

Soldiers assigned to the 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve, move cases of bottled water while working to clear roads of debris near Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.

President Donald Trump said the military shouldn’t have to distribute the “massive amounts” of food and water that have been delivered to storm-battered Puerto Rico.

When a reporter asked Trump about disaster relief on the island, the president said that food and water had been brought to Puerto Rico, but it wasn’t being distributed by local people.

“They have to distribute the food to the people of the island. So, what we’ve done is, we now actually have military distributing food, something that really they shouldn’t have to be doing,” he said in a wide-ranging, hastily scheduled press conference on Monday.

The remark follows comments Trump made last week, where he partly blamed the island for the devastation and said emergency responders can’t stay in Puerto Rico “forever.”

Puerto Rico has been reeling in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which left most of the U.S. territory without power or access to clean drinking water. Over the weekend, local authorities raised the death toll to 48 after reviewing medical records.

John Kelly: Our country will stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico   2:10 PM ET Thu, 12 Oct 2017 | 02:54

A local economist projected that the wreckage may have set back Puerto Rico’s economy so much that it will now take more than a decade to recover.

Trump said Monday that aid operations in Puerto Rico are “very tough” because the island “was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit.” The island had more than $70 billion in debt before Maria landed.

The president has faced criticism for an apparent lack of empathy for Puerto Rico amid the disaster response.

During a trip to the island earlier this month, Trump said the hurricane destruction had thrown his administration’s budget “a little out of whack.” Later that day, he tossed packages of paper towels to hurricane victims.

While Trump has said his administration has done a great job responding to the crisis on the island, a recent poll found that most voters disagreed. Fifty-five percent of American voters say the Trump administration has not done enough to help the U.S. territory after Hurricane Maria struck, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week.

Trump willing to take away health care while telling people they will have great health care.

Trump telling people his tax plan will benefit the middle class when the biggest benefits go to the wealthy.


Tenth Trait: being envious of others and believing others envy you.

My golf courses are the best.

My Towers are the best.

I went to the best college – Wharton.

Has Lindsay Graham tell his great golf score.

And yet:

He still envies Obama and wants to erase him (and, incidentally is doing a pretty good job of it.)

He now claims that Obama never called the families of soldiers killed in wars.

Trump Falsely Claims Obama Didn’t Contact Families of Fallen Troops (headline from tonight’s New York Times)


Eleventh Trait: behaving in an arrogant and haughty manner:

And that’s why Trump does what he does.




A Puerto Rico Lament

Each day I think that there will be aid pouring into even the remotest corners and mountaintops in Puerto Rico. The photos show total devastation and people struggling day to day to survive. Why aren’t these Americans getting the help they need, not necessarily to rebuild; help just to survive for more than one day at a time. If we can’t get food, water, and perhaps a tent for shelter to these folks then we should be evacuating them.

FEMA, as I understand it, is mostly a program to apply to for funds to rebuild. Apparently FEMA can offer small amounts of food and water, but providing expendables does not seem to be their purview. People without access to electricity or internet are not able to fill out the paperwork FEMA red tape requires. Usually we see the Red Cross anywhere there is this kind of disaster but either there is no Red Cross in Puerto Rico or it was destroyed along with everything else.

On the mainland, whenever we have a natural disaster, we see the lines of energy trucks headed to the areas with no power and power is restored fairly quickly to at least the homes and businesses that are still livable. Trucks don’t drive on water. There is no parade of utility trucks to come to the aid of Puerto Ricans. This leaves these Americans at the mercy of the “lift yourselves up by your own bootstraps” Republicans and “the Donald” (who hates losers).

How can you go off to work when there is no longer any place to work? How can you leave your family before you know they will be able to eat and drink reliably while you are gone? How can you go off to work when there is no fuel and you have no fresh water to drink and you are still sorting through the ruins of your house? Well we should keep our eyes on what is going on in Puerto Rico because this is what life will be like without a safety net. How can people lift themselves up when there are no opportunities to be had?

This is a terrible tragedy, and it is not just a Puerto Rican tragedy. It is an American tragedy. You may turn your cold heart away and think that this President and this Congress are doing the right thing because after all Puerto Rico already has a huge debt. I cannot. We have never just let people drink bad water and die of cholera, at least not if we had the means to help them. I am very glad that Rachel Maddow has decided to keep our attention focused on Puerto Rico because we lose focus very easily these days.

What happened to all our helicopters? Can’t water and food be airlifted to people who need it, people who are drinking water from rivers which might or might not be safe to drink? Why can’t they at least hand out those magical new “pills” that make any water, no matter how dirty, potable? We use this technology in other places, why not here? Can’t people be reassured that any land they own will be kept for them so that they can evacuate with some confidence that they will be able to keep their property and return to it once infrastructure is restored? If Puerto Ricans want to work on restoring infrastructure isn’t there a way to assure them that their families will be looked after. I know we can do better than this. It is disturbing to think about what this means about America.

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie – Book

The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie

The author of The Golden House, Salman Rushdie, and I have lived through the same decades, but his life has been global and large; mine provincial and small. Mr. Rushdie was born in Mumbai, however his influences were both British and Indian. Everyone remembers that he lived in fear of his life as a Muslim under a fatwa because of his book, The Satanic Verses.

In The Golden House, Rushdie writes as a New Yorker. He tells a tale of a Mumbai family, hiding with new identities, under a mysterious veil of danger in New York City. Our narrator is a young American man raised by professorial and loving parents on the edges of the MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens. (They’re real, look it up.) The Golden family lives at the other end of the Gardens and these recent arrivals are endlessly fascinating to René, the son of Gabe and Darcy.

The Goldens were “reborn” when they left Mumbai to live in America with their adopted Roman names. The father claimed the name of Nero, with all its end-of-empire symbolism. His first son took the name Petronius, the second chose Lucius Apuleius (Apu) and the third became Dionysus or D. The names were perhaps a bad idea.

René had always wanted to be a film maker but his life seems too prosaic until it becomes entangled in the low key, but rather tragic, lives of this family with no mother and, seemingly, no past. This novel is, among other things, an homage to great movies/films – European, Hollywood, Bollywood. Salman Rushdie, bursting still with crackling intellectual energy pulls into his story references to the movies he has loved, the same movies we love, except for a few so highbrow they may never have been available in the hinterlands I have inhabited. These movies still live vividly in his prodigious memory and in the minds of many a film buff.

As the Golden family comes apart, because you really cannot escape the past, a politician known as the Joker, guess who, a clownish grafter, is running for the American Presidency. (The parallels between American Democracy and the fall of Rome are hardly subtle.) As we know the Joker wins the election.

This is a very readable novel, without the Muslim/Indian baseline which is foreign to most Americans and makes some Rushdie novels seem somewhat dense. The Golden House is a tour de force by a man who is comfortable in cultures around the globe and does not mind splashing around in his literary bona fides for our enjoyment. Eliot’s “Prufrock” and Shakespeare get cameos among the films – “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.” Not yet, Mr. Rushdie, not yet.

Those of us who are shell-shocked with worry for American Democracy can find some comfort in the decision this British/Indian man made to put on his New York/American persona in order to help us through these chaotic days (and nights, and months, and years). What began as a comedy could easily become a classical tragedy. However, I think you will read this tragedy with a great big old smile on your face (at least some of the time).

Sinclair Broadcasting on Immigration

Sinclair Broadcasting has once again left its biased fingerprints all over my local news. It looks as if this right wing media propaganda outlet has learned to be a bit more subtle about the stories they force on local news outlets. They have abandoned their easily recognizable mouthpiece, Brian Ephstyen for new sources that do not identify their leanings, unless you are a listener who pays attention to sources.

October 6, 2017 on the evening news there was offered up, in some detail, the report of a group called FAIR – (Federation for American Immigration Reform) giving us data (collected by the group) which tells exactly what illegal immigrants cost Americans (supposedly a lot).

There is enough divisiveness already in my county in the middle of New York State to call out a tar-and-feather incident against “cheating” immigrants and “favored” refugees at the slightest provocation. And here are our most popular local news stations reporting data designed to turn up the level of anger almost to the boiling point.

Apparently Sinclair does not realize how apolitical most of our residents are most of the time. But there may come a time when people begin to see that they don’t have to tune into Fox News or Rush Limbaugh to get their righteous indignation levels topped off. They can get a great dose of “stranger danger” right on their local news.

Here are some of the numbers offered up by FAIR and Sinclair. They are presented in the new graphic format favored by Donald Trump which we are beginning to see everywhere, especially in presentations of data summarized by Congressional committees. The Russia committee in the Senate had such a chart done in blue and white information chunks (pictographs and numbers, the new hieroglyphics) when they moaned on camera yesterday about being unable to talk with the author of the Russian dossier.




But who is this group FAIR and do they live up to their name or did they adopt it to throw us off the scent? They are definitely a right wing group and they have fought to get immigrants out of America for some time. There is no fact check data yet on their latest report because it is very new, but there are fact check reports dating back to 2002 which call into question the supposed facts of this extreme group.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that definitely leans left, but which has a solid reputation and is not usually considered a propagandist organization has a few things to say about FAIR.

“FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country. One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans. FAIR President Dan Stein has called the Act a ‘mistake’.”

Follow the link above to the article which contains much more evidence in case you are unconvinced by this little tidbit.

Why would my local news station include such a bogus study unless it was ordered to do so by Sinclair? The national news we used to be offered came from more mainstream sources, mostly the Associated Press or similar outlets. In this case we were told that this was a study by a research group called FAIR. All a listener had to do was look up the group on the internet to see its bona fides but I doubt that many people did that. The story was not reported in print on the site at cnycentral .com used by the local news channels, and there was, once again, no place for comments or public feedback on the site.

Did the story make a splash? I am guessing that those who heard it and agreed with it may have gotten a smug smile on their face to congratulate themselves on how they were able to make such correct assumptions, and that this article proves that immigrants are taking money from hard-working Americans. But, considering the source, does it? I have yet to hear any backlash against the story. But I am writing this, and perhaps someone will send an editorial to the local paper, if they will print it, which I doubt.

Syracuse University lost Si Newhouse this week and they are grateful for all he has done to make Syracuse an important center for training journalists and for the communications industry, but as I understand it, the Newhouse family are possibly the very Conservatives who are forcing local journalism away from the middle road and into the fringes of the nuts on the right wing. I would not want our college to lose its academic clout, but I would hope that we might see a more moderate trend coming back into at least our local print news.

If Sinclair Broadcasting is controlling your local media market call them out whenever you get a chance. They will not tell your neighbors where their news is coming from or that it might possibly be designed to sway their feelings in order to nudge them to agree with the opinions endorsed by Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen – Book

Suzy Hansen won a writing fellowship in 2007 from Charles Crane, “a Russophile and scion of a plumbing-parts fortune,” and it allowed her to go abroad for 2 years. She went to Turkey, much to the dismay of her family and friends. This grant was rumored to have been reserved for spies but Suzy was in Turkey as a journalist. The book she wrote is called Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World. Hansen goes off to Turkey believing that America is the exceptional nation that it claims to be. She had been taught, as we all have, to feel a certain smugness about being American, brought up in a can-do nation where freedom reigns. But the people of Turkey had not been indoctrinated in the American version of American history. They experienced the Turkish version of American interaction and they were not as enamored of America as some of us, in all our innocence, tend to be.

America has had a sort of missionary zeal about spreading the wonders of our Democracy to nations it has deemed might be tending towards Communism. The period after WWII was all about a sort of contest between Russia and America to divide the world’s nations like so many spoils of war, much the way England and Spain, in all their pride, divided up the world (something the world did not necessarily know about or agree to).  We tend to think of America as being different from those early imperialists, but what Hansen learned in Turkey, and then in Greece, and Afghanistan is that imperialism was still practiced by America, but in different forms.

America went on a tear after the Marshall Plan went into effect in the post-world war II years and aggressively wooed any nation that it thought might be susceptible to Communism. It offered “modernization” in the form of convincing nations to develop their resources and to welcome industry and business (Capitalism). It tempted citizens with luxury goods and pricey comforts. Before nations even realized what was happening they began to lose their individuality, their unique culture, even in some cases their language.

America tempted governments with weapons and military accessories like planes and ships and if they were reluctant America would even support political turmoil and install a new leader. All these meddlesome things were done in the arrogant belief that people wanted to live like everyone lived in America. If they even had to modify their Muslim faith to fit in these new tastes that it would turn out well for them (or for America anyway) in the end. According to Ms. Hansen, America, in its extreme hubris has wreaked havoc with cultures all over the world and we have a lot to answer for. She is not alone in this belief.

I was torn as I read this book. I have always respected the idea of democratic governance. I also knew that America had never, from its very beginnings, lived up to its creed. Our forefathers said that all men are created equal and they wrote it down for all to see, even though they kept slaves who were also human beings, and some of them even admitted that these slaves were human beings. The very fact that our Constitution was based on a lie may have doomed American democracy from its inception. That may be why we see ourselves in one rather glittery way and why others think that luster is quite tarnished.

I understand what Suzy’s European friends felt and I understand that they experienced America from a different perspective than we often do. I am rather ashamed of the America she describes in this nonfiction book based on her first-hand observations. Probably, although you may resist the message that Ms. Hansen brings us from our neighbors on this planet, you should still give this book your careful attention. She and her favorite author, James Baldwin, can help you readjust America’s halo.

I want America to face up to its flaws and do better. Although that seems quite impossible right now, I want America to eventually succeed in finding a balance between power and humility. If we cannot mend our ways in the world it is possible that the American culture, as many claim, will truly be in decline. I would hate to see the idealistic aims of our democracy disappear because we cannot contain our rapaciousness, which is often a sin that comes with power.

In the Epilogue Suzy Hansen talks about America after Trump:

“But I did believe that in at least one way Trump voters were little different from anyone else in the country. They, like all Americans, had been told a lie: that they were the best, that America was the best, that their very birthright was progress and prosperity and the envy and admiration of the world. I did not blame those voters for Trump’s election…I blamed the country for Trump’s election because it was a country built on the rhetoric and actions of American supremacy or ‘greatness,’ or ‘exceptionalism,’ … it had been built on the presupposition that America was and should be, the most powerful country on the planet.”

I have not given up on my country yet, despite all its flaws, although I have never been more tempted to become an American in exile, a lifestyle I cannot afford. It never hurts an individual to do some introspection and it never hurts a nation (made of individuals) to turn critical and honest eyes inward. Suzy Hansen’s book Notes on a Foreign Country was an emotional and an intellectual journey.