Changing Course

After talking with someone about the constant stream of bad news assaulting us every day, I decided to do something different with this blog. I’m going to try to post about more positive topics. Given how things are, this will probably mean I’ll have less to say.

The same phenomenon is visible in a political newsletter I get. The section called “Is That Hope?” — which features encouraging news — is always the smallest by far.

My posting less shouldn’t be much of a loss, however, since there is too much to read on the internet anyway (as well as in out of the way places like “books”).

But there’s one qualification: I intend to insert something like the following in every post, as a reminder and because silence might be seen as acquiescence:

The American president is a disaster. He is almost certainly doing something horrendous right now. That’s why we should vote him and every other Republican out of office in November. If you’re willing and able to support Democratic candidates in addition to voting for them, please do.

For example, I might point out that Gary Larson, the cartoonist responsible for The Far Side, has a site now. It features a few of his old cartoons every day (and it’s free). They had one of my favorites yesterday:


And by the way, the American president is a disaster. He is almost certainly doing something horrendous right now. That’s why we should vote him and every other Republican out of office in November. If you’re willing and able to support Democratic candidates in addition to voting for them, please do. 

An Ingenious Device for Avoiding Thought

Not having come close to saving the world (since 2012) and finding that, in recent years, this blog has mainly dealt with things I’ve read, I’ve decided to stop posting here, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.

Instead, I’ll continue to update a blog I’ve had since 2010 called “An Ingenious Device for Avoiding Thought”. Up to now, it’s consisted of brief comments on books I’ve read. I might as well use that blog to discuss other things as well, including other things I’ve read, instead of discussing them here.

Thus, I might discuss these recent articles over there: 

“Scientists Identify Four Personality Types: Sophisticated Psychological Algorithm Confirms That Some People Are Jerks” at The Washington Post

“The Ignorant Do Not Have a Right to an Audience” (on TV, in college lecture halls or elsewhere) at The New York Times

“Are We All ‘Harmless Torturers’ Now?” also at The New York Times

“Civility as a Reciprocal Public Virtue” at 3 Quarks Daily

“My Modest Proposal for Solving the ‘Meaning of Life Problem’ — and Reducing Global Conflict” at Scientific American.

I could discuss them over there, but probably won’t.

If you’re interested in following An Ingenious Device, or just want to give it a look, please click here.

Only Some Professional Writers Are Professional

Of course, I’m not one of them, if only because I’m not getting paid. You might see an occasional advertisement on this blog (I never do – they just remind me that you guys might), but not a dime comes my way. In fact, I’m paying WordPress more than seven cents a day just to keep reasonably operational. 

But back to my topic: If you can stand it, Fred Kaplan of Slate has an excellent little summary of the email situation: “The Hillary Email Scandal Was Totally Overblown”. The whole thing is here. The “top comment” says “this is the most level-headed piece I’ve read on the email ‘scandal'”.

To quote one little bit, this is Mr. Kaplan writing about Patrick Healy, the New York Times reporter who produced a “news analysis” article in the form of an attack ad that Trump can use if he ever runs out of insults:

And yet, here is New York Times political reporter Patrick Healy, in a front-page news analysis, paraphrasing Comey’s rebuke of the current presumptive Democratic candidate for president: The FBI director, Healy wrote, “basically just called her out for having committed one of the most irresponsible moves in the modern history of the State Department.” I defy anyone to pore through the most scathing passages of Comey’s remarks and find anything that remotely resembles this description.

Wow. I would have thought that Hillary using a private email server couldn’t possibly make the list of irresponsible Secretary of State “moves” that includes things like Colin Powell selling Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But I’m not a professional writer like Patrick Healy.

Fortunately, neither is Fred Kaplan.

Dog Days, Blog Days

“Dog days”: the hottest period of the year (reckoned in antiquity from the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star). Also, a period of inactivity or sluggishness.

It’s hot and sultry here, but summer is only a week old. The weather doesn’t explain why this blog has entered a period of inactivity or sluggishness. Yet it has.

Yet I don’t want to let it die.

Therefore, I’m going to try something different: fewer words from me and more words from others whose thoughts deserve to be shared.

Coming soon: “Whereof One Can Speak (or Quote)”.

PS: The heliacal rising of a constellation [or star] is when it comes from under the rays of the sun, and begins to appear before daylight.

A Clear and Present Danger

The title of this post might have been “Ignoring the Next Six Months – Day 21”, except for two things. Our Presidential election is a little more than five months away and my plan to ignore the campaign has been a complete failure.

In fact, I’ve paid so much attention to the campaign that I haven’t gotten around to doing a few other things, like updating this blog. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time reading political news and commentary. I’ve left a few of my comments here and there (actually, all of them have been there). I’ve sent a few emails to a New York Times reporter who is assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. For heaven’s sake, I’ve even tweeted (@SomeGuyFromNJ). 

In case you missed it, Donald Trump now has all the delegates he needs to become the Republican nominee for President on the first ballot at their July convention. I’ll repeat that for emphasis: Unless he drops out or drops dead, Donald Trump will be the Republican’s 2016 nominee for President of the United States of America.

That means the question before us is: What should each of us do to stop this person from becoming President?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know this: There is no sense in filling a blog with random thoughts and commentary when we’re this close to a disaster.

For now, I’ll leave you with the photograph at the top of this page, a few words from Senator Elizabeth Warren, and my favorite quote from the past few weeks. First, Senator Warren:

Let’s be honest – Donald Trump is a loser. Count all his failed businesses. See how he kept his father’s empire afloat by cheating people with scams like Trump University and by using strategic corporate bankruptcy (excuse me, bankruptcies) to skip out on debt. Listen to the experts who’ve concluded he’s so bad at business that he might have more money today if he’d put his entire inheritance into an index fund and just left it alone.

Trump seems to know he’s a loser. His embarrassing insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, and flagrant narcissism. But just because Trump is a loser everywhere else doesn’t mean he’ll lose this election. People have been underestimating his campaign for nearly a year – and it’s time to wake up.

People talk about how “this is the most important election” in our lifetime every four years, and it gets stale. But consider what hangs in the balance. Affordable college. Accountability for Wall Street. Healthcare for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court. Big corporations and billionaires paying their fair share of taxes. Expanded Social Security. Investments in infrastructure and medical research and jobs right here in America. The chance to turn our back on the ugliness of hatred, sexism, racism and xenophobia. The chance to be a better people.

More than anyone we’ve seen before come within reach of the presidency, Donald Trump stands ready to tear apart an America that was built on values like decency, community, and concern for our neighbors. Many of history’s worst authoritarians started out as losers – and Trump is a serious threat. The way I see it, it’s our job to make sure he ends this campaign every bit the loser that he started it.

I wouldn’t say that America was only built on values like decency and community. America was also built on greed and inhumanity. Senator Warren would certainly agree. But her main point is unassailable: In the 228 years that we have been holding elections, Trump is the absolute worst person who has ever come this close to becoming President of the United States. The worst ever.

And lastly, a quote from Michael Vlock, a rich Connecticut investor who has given a lot of money to Republican candidates, but who says he won’t support you know who. Why?

He’s an ignorant, amoral, dishonest and manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard…I really believe our republic will survive Hillary.

Vlock left out “narcissistic” and “authoritarian”, but it’s not bad for a Republican.