Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016-- Midcoast: Cultural Profiling

It was the morning after the third debate and the diner was buzzing with political talk.

Buzzing so much that my new hearing aids were overwhelmed so I resumed an old habit--pretending to hear and understand and thus doing a lot of nodding and smiling. Most of it inappropriate and of a non sequitur sort.

Before I tuned out I picked up that, as usual at the diner, opinion was split pretty much down the middle with half the folks liking how Hillary turned to her own advantage Trump's jibe, "She's a nasty woman," while the other half agreed that she is in fact nasty.

Concentrating on my French toast, I enjoyed the sounds of passionate talk I could not fully make out. I thought I need to ask my audiologist to make an adjustment he had indicated was just for this kind of situation--being able to hear someone across the table in an otherwise noisy restaurant.

I was sitting by the window and to distract myself turned to enjoy the rush of falling leaves when a mud-splashed SUV pulled up and out of it tumbled two very large couples. It was the first truly chilly morning and I was surprised to see that one of the men was not only wearing shorts--not uncommon among Mainers who when the seasons change dress for the previous one as if the best way to get through the summer heat or, more commonly, the icy winter is to assert mind over matter--not only was he wearing shorts but a t-shirt and sandals without socks. Everything, including a full-brimmed hat, totally emblazoned with camouflage. I realized that the hunting season was to begin in just a few days and it looked as if he couldn't wait.

From their outfits and deportment it appeared that all three of his companions would be happily joining him while stalking moose in the North Woods.

Oh god, I noticed as they stepped in, the only empty table was pressed close to ours which meant they would be sitting right next to us.

They were Second Amendment people for sure as well as, I was certain, Trump supporters. Even if I couldn't hear every word that I was sure was about to be broadcast by them, after the debate, where I suspected Trump did himself some good, I wasn't into listening to snarky political boasting.

So I took up the pace, indicating to Rona that I was wanting to leave as soon as we finished our breakfast.

"Humans are the only species . . ." I heard from the hunter with the bare feet, ". . . who do so." I couldn't hear much more and thus had no context in which to fit this. I thought he was also sounding like a Fundamentalist and was talking about the uniqueness of human religion. I could take a pass on that too.

"I never thought of that," one of the women said. I assumed not his wife who I suspected from him had heard it all and then some.

"It's true," he said.

Then the other man puffed up in a red flannel shirt with Larry-King size black suspenders said something I thought about the "natural world." Creationists to boot, I thought.

By then things in the diner had settled down to a murmur and my new hearing aids took over and I was able to hear pretty much everything they said.

"It is fascinating to think about," the first hunter said, "How humans are the only animals--and we are animals," he said with a wink, "how in the animal kingdom we are the only species to produce more young than we need for survival."

"If true," his companion said, "Why is that significant?"

"It means that we pose a danger to the global ecosystem. We are the only animals who overpopulate. And I don't have to tell you of all people what the implications are."

Rona, who was listening in to another conversation, one about how Trump will surely lose after the Billy Bush hot-mike tape gets more widely aired, was stirring in her seat, having finished her food and signaling to me she was about to ask for the check.

"No hurry," I said, confusing her.

"I thought you were eager to leave," she whispered, glancing quickly at the hunters.

"No rush," I said, wanting to hear more about what else was unique to humans.

"What do you think," one of the neighboring women asked, noticing I was eavesdropping.

Caught in the act, I stammered, "Oh, well . . . not that much." I slipped back into my familiar non-sequitur mode.

"About what John said about the human species?"

"Oh, I suppose that's interesting. But, you know, I never thought about that. I mean, it could be that . . ."

She smiled. "John's a naturalist. A journalist. Writes a column that's picked up in lots of papers around the country. Show him your card, John."

I thought he must write for Hunters World or even Guns & Ammo.

He fished one out of his bulging wallet and handed it over. Below his name was "Environmental Storyteller."

"That's a new one to me," I said, beginning to feel upset with myself for what I had imagined him to be.

I looked again at his card and read so Rona could hear. By then she had tuned into our conversation--"Continual wanderer of the planet, observing in perpetual wonder."

As I read this the other man, "T.W," slid his card to me. It identified him as president of Silver Creek Media, through which he told me with a twinkle he published--pointing to how his work was described on the card--"words and stuff."

And with that, as quickly as they had arrived, the four of them stood up simultaneously and headed to their car.

So there Rona and I remained, thinking about how I had mischaracterized them. I said, confessing, "You know of course about racial profiling. How police and others periodically are accused of stopping African Americans because of their race or young Middle Eastern men who without evidence are thought to be potential terrorists."

"You didn't do that," Rona said, "They look more American--whatever that means--than you. So it wasn't racial."

"True," I said, "But I think I did something similarly upsetting--I culturally profiled them, as with racial profiling, on the basis of their appearance."

"You did in fact do that," Rona said.

"Which means I have more work to do on my consciousness."

"That's one of the things I love about being here," Rona said, "How often we get surprised like this. It's really a challenging place to live."

"Wouldn't want it any other way."

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Friday, October 28, 2016

October 28, 2016--Overextended

I'm a bit overextended and so I will be back here on Monday.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 27, 2016--Wisdom from Robert Kennedy

As we are within the last two weeks of one of the nastiest, most divisive presidential elections in history, it is not too soon to think about what kind of nation will remain after the ballots are cast, counted, and a new president is selected.

The day Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis, against the best advice of his aides who feared for his life, Robert Kennedy, seeking the nomination of his party, on the night of April 4, 1968, ventured into the flaming ghetto in Indianapolis and delivered these words. Words that almost equally could stand for a statement about our divided circumstances and point to a future of reconciliation.

I have added the italics.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black . . . you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. 
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times. 
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote: 
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of god.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 26, 2016--Day Off

I will return tomorrow with a piece about cultural profiling.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 2016--They're Dying of A Broken Heart

Thinking hard about the results of Angus Deaton's and Anne Case's study of death rates among white people, Bill Clinton, noting the dramatic rise in the suicide rate and increases in alcohol and drug abuse among young, undereducated low-income men, especially men, the former president said--

"It's not simply that people are losing jobs. Jobs were part of their cultural world. It's bigger than just this coal job doesn't exist anymore. It's that part of a way of life is disappearing."

He continued--

"You know what they're really dying of? They're dying of a broken heart."

He not only understands that pain. He feels that pain.

Some have made fun of Clinton's feeling people's pain--thinking it insincere and self-serving--but his enduring popularity, particularly among these displaced white people, suggests that they believe him. And as a result, he has wide support across the political spectrum. Perhaps more than any other politician.

If we want to build working connections between otherwise polarized constituencies, for the upcoming Clinton administration, a focus on men, proverbial "angry white men," as well as men of color, is both a good and smart idea.

To glimpse the scope of that need, from the Sunday New York Times, here is something by Susan Chira, senior correspondent and editor on gender issues--
  • More than a fifth of American men--20 million people--between 20 and 65 had no paid work last year.
  • Seven million men between 25 and 55 are no longer looking for work. Twice as many black as white.
  • There are 20 million men with felony records who are essentially unemployable in anything other than menial jobs.
  • Half the non-working men report they have serious health problems.
  • Only 42 percent of college graduates are men.
  • It is estimated that by midcentury, about a third of men between 25 and 54 who do not have college educations will be out of work.
  • And, their suicide rate is soaring.
During the current campaign, we continue to hear from Hillary Clinton about the ongoing needs of women, children, and families.

These are real issues and deserve continued attention.

What we hear about men as a cohort tends to be negative. Through winks and nods, Donald Trump's approach is to pander to displaced-feeling men who, when they hear "make America great again," in dog-whsitle terms this means to them a time when white men were dominant and the wife stayed home to take care of the household and children.

Hillary's approach to male issues has been one-off--by making college more affordable, by growing the economy, everyone, including men, will benefit.

It may be that this will prove to be insufficient.

Just as when we perceived gaps between men's and women's aspirations and achievement, we instituted affirmative approaches to narrow those differences in the schools and work places. And to a large extent it worked. For example, 58 percent of college graduates are women.

We may need something equivalent for left-behind men.

Who better than a female, feminist president to take the initiative to address this new, even dangerous inequality. Not only would it be unexpected, it would wonderfully disrupt expectations. The concern among many is that her administration will be all about women and children just as there was fear that Obama's would be about black people.

If Hillary Clinton aspires to be a transformative president and genuinely wants to heal one of the most significant breeches in our social fabric, paying attention to those men dying of broken hearts would be an ideal place to begin.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2106--A Progressive's Dinner

At a gathering of a group of friends the other night we were talking about . . . what else.

It was after the Billy Bush tape had been in wide circulation and the consensus in the room of progressives was that this would be the end, finally, of . . .

No one was even comfortable pronouncing his name.

And then we slipped into our own not-really-that-funny version of Saturday Night Live where all of us played The Donald role. No one took on Hillary.

After a few more drinks and lots of satirical laughter one of my friends turned to give me a hard time about some of my blog postings. It didn't take long for a few others, equally well fortified, to join in.

It seems the problem is that they feel in my efforts to "understand" the reasons so many are supporting Trump, in spite of his many outrages, I was lending credibility--one said "legitimacy"--to his candidacy. By taking them and, by association, him seriously.

"He doesn't deserve to be taken seriously," another said.

"What should I be doing?" I asked, a bit agitated, "Turn my blog into a platform of support for Hillary?" This came out hotter than I intended.

There was some indication that some thought this was in fact what I should be doing. The stakes were that high. Fascism was threatening. It was not time for nuance or analytics. There would be time for that after the election. What's called for is partisanship. Every vote counts. I should be helping to bring out potential Clinton voters.

At least that's what I thought was being implied. All hands on political deck until he is defeated, gone and forgotten. So we can settle into four more years of what we have had for the past eight. Not perfect, but better than the alternative. Then there would be time to tweak Hillary's agenda. But only after a few more liberals are appointed to the Supreme Court.

"But shouldn't who are about to win recognize that Hillary will not just be our president but Trump's people's as well?"

"They're bigots, homophobic, Islamophobes, misogynists, white supremacists. You really want to have anything to do with people of this kind?"

"In many ways, I'd prefer not too," I confessed, "But since they're Americans too and there are apparently almost enough of them to elect a president--though I've also been writing that there are lots of Trump people who are none of these things--shouldn't we, who call ourselves liberals, who pride ourselves on understanding life's subtleties, shouldn't we be making an effort to understand more about what is tearing our country apart so that maybe we can help heal some of the breeches and distrust."

"It's a waste of time," a friend said. "These people are not interested in changing. They're dug in in their beliefs."

"I know, Hillary called them deplorables who are unredeemable. That may be what she thinks--those were her words--but I don't. I believe in the possibility of change for almost everyone. But that can only come, I feel, from a deep and empathetic understanding. It may be unpleasant and messy but that's what my definition of being liberal--minded means--being open to even listen to ideas we hate. Especially that. And if we don't take a step in this direction we shouldn't expect those who have very different views will take the initiative."

"This all sounds good but is too unrealistic to make anyone feel optimistic."

"Let me try out one more idea. How many of us have contributed money to Clinton's campaign?"

"Does giving money to Bernie count?" Everyone laughed but only two of ten indicated that they had contributed to Hillary.

"What about active electioneering? Like planning to go to a purple state and canvassing or making phone calls?" No one had done or planned to do that.

"That goes for me too," I said, "I haven't given her any money and I haven't been making phone calls to undecided voters. I'm not proud of that. But I've tried to read everything, talk to people like tonight, and I even to communicate with Trump supporters. But that's all pretty passive considering what's at stake. Having fessed up to that, it's hard for me to feel good about my open mindedness. But one final thing and then let's get back to having fun."

"As soon as possible," one said.

"So you have nothing but dismissive and disparaging things to say about Trump voters?"

"Don't they deserve it? Have you looked at who shows up as his rallies?"

"I do look at who they are. And that's my final point--they also look like those who show up at military recruiting offices. You're not OK with them as voters, but how do you feel about them as soldiers in our volunteer army?" Silence.

"How many of us have friends or family members who signed up to go to Afghanistan, Iraq, or just to be in the army?" More silence. Eye contact had broken off.

"Sorry to bring you down," I said. And to lighten things up again asked, "How do you like Alec Baldwin's Trump?"

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Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21, 2016--Sleeping In

It's a rainy, chilly morning so I'm sleeping in. I will return on Monday.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 20, 2016--Meanwhile, In Leipzig . . .

Before and during this year's political campaigns, every time as in San Bernardino there was a massacre carried out by Islamists, we heard in a mainly bipartisan way, that in order to thwart these tragedies in advance, relatives and friends of the terrorists need to step forward and alert officials to the potential threats.

Candidates have been saying--

"Didn't their parents know they were making bombs in the garage?"

"Didn't anyone see early evidence that their son/brother/husband/friend was becoming radicalized?"

In the case of the recent New York/New Jersey bomber his father did alert the FBI but the agency dropped the ball and thus failed to follow up effectively. But at least there was the warning from the father.

Then there is another kind of example from Leipzig, Germany.

From the New York Times last week--
The German police arrested a Syrian man [Jaber al-Bakr] early Monday who was suspected of plotting a bombing, bringing an end to a weekend manhunt that renewed fears about a threat posed by extremists among the nearly one million refugees and migrants who arrived in Germany last year.
Fine. But here's the backstory of how the police found the suspect--
The head of the state police in Saxony said that Jaber al-Bakr had been arrested in Leipzig in the apartment of other Syrians who had recognized the man from photographs circulated by the authorities over the weekend.
Now, here's my favorite part--
The Syrians tied up the suspect and took a photograph of him with a cellphone, which one of them took to a nearby police station before urging officers to come and arrest him immediately.
The police indeed did so.

Case closed.
Jaber al-Bakr

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 19, 2016--Hillary's Gender Problem

It has been widely reported that Hillary Clinton and her team are distressed that polls show she is doing less well with young woman than among middle-age women who form the heart of her base.

Madeleine Albright summed up these feelings back in February when she said something in public that she had been saying in private--that there's "a special place in Hell for women who don't help each other" i.e. who don't vote for Hillary.

It is understandable that she and Hillary Clinton would feel a version of this--

Why weren't the younger generation of women grateful for the changes Albright and Clinton have helped to bring about? Fair question because it is true that they both, and now especially Hillary, broke and are breaking through the most important and formidable glass ceilings.

Why were so many young women flocking to Bernie, a late-middle-age white man who is more like their fathers or grandfathers than feminist movement leaders such as Albright and Clinton?

Partly because he is a sort of grandfather type (though a bit strident and know-it-all in my view) and many young people seek grandparents who often understand them better than their own parents. Partly because Hillary's has a schoolmarmish public speaking style that sets off unpleasant bells and whistles and on the stump and TV can sound more preachy than empathetic.

But more profoundly, many professionally successful young women feel that much of the struggle is either over or what's left of it should be focused on the kinds of issues they face in their careers and family lives and which they feel Hillary doesn't understand or "get."

They are less interested in equal-pay or affirmative action, for example, then what Sheryl Sandberg wrote about in Lean In--how women should no longer doubt their ability to combine work and family and thus do not need to avoid demanding assignments in anticipation of having children. And that, as the result of the positive outcomes of "leaning in," put themselves in a better position to ask for what they need and to make changes that could benefit others.

But this may be about to change. And, if I am reading the situation correctly, it will ironically be because of Donald Trump ever-more-disgusting misogyny.

The so-called Billy Bush open-mike tape where Trump joked so graphically about his sexual stalking is hopefully the last in a long list of last straws that should have much earlier doomed his candidacy. But somehow didn't.

From his slander about John McCain, to his boasting that his supporters would stay with him even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, to his mocking and abuse of female reporters, Mexicans, and people with disabilities, to egging on "Second Amendment people" to "take care"of Hillary, to his . . .

Many of us have our list of his worst calumnies that should have brought him down, but up to now, in spite of what he has said and tweeted, no matter how offensive he has been, he wiggled free and in some cases perversely seen his poll numbers rise.

But not this time.

Young women especially, very much including those who have fought on campuses against date rape and other offenses directed at women, are now seeing support for Hillary Clinton coinciding with their feminist agenda.

They also are seeing that the agenda is not in fact completed and that it is important to work on that and to do so in solidarity across generations. Equal pay, for example, may now be seen to be very much a practical and symbolic issue.

Young women may not feel fervent about Hillary for some of the reasons noted above, but because of what she would do about court appointments and pressing a gender-aware social policy agenda as well as the metaphoric power of what having a female president would mean, I am sensing that this generation of women will now vote heavily for Clinton and likely contribute to a landslide.

There will be no more examples of Trump wiggling free. This is the last straw.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 18, 2016--Hating the Haters

There's something that's been troubling me about the "haters" who are among Donald Trump's most vociferous supporters.

Not about their hating. That is clear and evident. He does attract and for many offers endorsement and legitimization. They specialize in invective and at times violence. It is obvious who they hate from their hand-scrawled signs and ugly epithets. Just looking at their images it's easy to see the depth of their rage.

To get closer to what's been troubling me I conduced a small, totally unscientific poll of all my local progressive friends and acquaintances that I randomly ran into during all of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Sixteen altogether.

It was a very simple poll. Just one question--

"When thinking about the upcoming election and I mention 'hater,' what comes to mind?" That's it. No follow ups.

Pretty much everyone came up with the same answer--

"They are the most vocal and outrageous of Donald Trump's supporters."

Most responses also included one or more descriptors such as "bigots," "racists," "misogynists," "homophobes," "perverts," "morons," "Islamophobe," and "Nazis."

Very few surprises here.

Getting closer to understanding what has been troubling me, Monday evening I called a few friends who I had surveyed and after sharing with them the results I had gathered asked a few followup questions--

"Does it seem strange that not one person among the 16 said something like, 'Haters are passionate supporters of both candidates who are so angry that what they feel and express comes across as hate.'"

"No it doesn't surprise," they said, "because it's Trump who attracts the haters. Not Hillary."

"And how would you characterize her most ardent followers?"

"They agree with her on the issues, she is totally committed to protecting the reproductive rights of women, respects women and people of color, would work hard to reduce economic equality, would expand healthcare, she would work day and night to improve public schools, she believe in science and climate change, she would . . ."

"That's basically her platform," I interrupted. "which I agree with. What I really want to pick your brain about has to do with our thinking that the only haters are Trump people but when we progressives characterize them as racists and Nazis and all the rest aren't we doing a version of the same thing his voters hatefully say about us?"

With that my friends were even more confused. So I said, "To accuse someone of all those things includes an element of hate, doesn't it? Especially if we define the majority of his supporters this way. When we attribute these views to more than a segment of his supporters. Even though it's a distressing and not insignificant segment?"

"It could be," one I spoke with said, "that what Hillary said about the deplorables--that they were bigots and homophobic, for example, and irredeemable--could be considered to be hateful."

"I think that's what I've been struggling with. I agree that Trump has many supporters who are filled with hatred, but it's also been my experience that more than a few Hillary people are also full of hate. They hate Trump as much as the Trump haters hate them. And on both sides they deny being haters since they contend that what they assert about their opponent is the truth."

I continued, "The Democratic Trump haters consider themselves to be issues-oriented and rational, but in some of their passionate support for Hillary, to me, they too cross the line of acceptable political behavior. Both sides need to do some act cleaning up. Otherwise, when the election is over and Hillary moves into the Oval Office, we may be in even more trouble than currently.  Democrats, progressives, Clinton herself can't expect to do much business with people they've deplored and looked down their noses at."

One or two of my liberal friends agreed. The rest, not so sure.

And then yesterday morning there was the news about the bombing in Hillsborough, NC, of the GOP office. What should one make of the fact that it went virtually unreported by the New York Times?

Hillsborough, NC

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Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016--A Job For Michelle

Having failed to get two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states to amend the Constitution to switch Election Day this cycle from November 8th to tomorrow, Tuesday October 18th, so that we and they could be put out of our collective misery, though disappointed, I thought, as a distraction, let's pretend that the election already happened and Hillary won in a landslide.

This way we won't have to listen to another three weeks of stories about Donald Trump's stalking and groping or Hillary taking performance enhancing drugs before the debates and concentrate on something more upbeat--who Hillary should appoint to her cabinet.

I have one great suggestion--

Name Michelle Obama Secretary of Education.

I'm being serious and she's available.

Just the other day at one of her rallies for Hillary Clinton, with the Obamas needing to vacate the White House in just three months, Michelle said, "I need to find a job."

Well, this is a job for which she is well suited. Only last week on a CNN special, We Will Rise, her interest in and work with girl's education was movingly showcased and revealed her deep interest in expanding opportunities to the underserved.

And the job is convenient. As Rona said, she's "stuck in Washington" for the next two years while daughter Sasha finishes high school. Thus it would be a short commute and most nights Michelle could be home by dinner time.

Longer term, it positions her to run for the presidency in 2024 after eight years of Hillary Clinton. She'd be only 60. The perfect age for presidents.

I know she says that she can't wait to get out of the White House and away from the political arena--though this year she is far-and-away the most formidable campaigner. To serve as First Lady she put a powerful career on hold and she may come to conclude that being president is not such a bad deal after all. Everyone loves having Air Force One as one's private jet.

But seriously, she is brilliant, authentic feeling, and an excellent public speaker. And from the evidence of her earlier career, she has the proven ability to be a superb leader and manager. And, obviously, she knows a great deal about the power of education and could be an inspiration to young people and educators.

So let's suggest to the Hillary transition people that they put her at the top of the short list.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

October 14, 2016--And Now For Something Completely Different


I was hoping my friend would write something for me to post referring to our on-going discussion about the presidential election. Guest-blogger Sharon has done so and done so persuasively. 

I added a word at the end indicating where I feel we still may have some differences. 
*  *  *
As a devoted reader of "Behind," I believe it's important to acknowledge the VICTIMS of Donald Trump and many of his supporters.

His and their targets now comprise such a long list that I can sum it up by saying it's anyone who isn't an old school white guy and the women who love them. Oh yes--and anyone who challenges Trump.

I think too much space has been devoted here trying to legitimize support for Trump including those that the economy actually has left behind. The more I see of this group, most should be left behind. But you might say, but some of these folks are such nice people!

My question- if most of these people are just looking for a better life for themselves and their families, why wouldn't it have been enough for Trump to run merely as an outsider with business experience and omit the bigotry, xenophobia, authoritarianism, threats of violence, misogyny and racism?

And are my neighbors in an adjoining county of Virginia, one of the richest in the United States where Trump has drawn big crowds, among the suffering?

Trump's views are so different than Clinton's that if this was truly about change and a new path versus the status quo he could have made his case on policy differences alone.

But the real story is that he's been a magnet for the haters--both overt and covert. His daily rhetoric, often incoherent, has been a victory for the crazy right and is turning decent people into supporters of behavior they would normally reject in their children.

It's also no surprise that although not without his women loyalists, if only women voted this year, according to Nate Silver's polls this week Hillary would win the electoral college 458 to 80. Trump's core followers are mostly white men who want to turn the clock back to the 50s. They are losing power and this is their last gasp. Trump would like to turn the clock back to 1930s.

Then there is this: "Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been verbal targets on the campaign." (Southern Poverty Law Center)

I personally experienced the impact of Trump's rhetoric this spring when a young Muslim woman, a working wife and mother, said to me, "I guess I could wear an identifying badge if I had to." I was embarrassed and appalled and started to cry. And remembered this had been done before. I reassured her that the majority of Americans are good people--someone like that could never win the nomination in 2016.

I tried to assure her this couldn't happen here. But it has. And the lies and conspiracy theories are only getting worse as a madman thinks he has nothing to lose. So in the face of the endless big lies, quibbling over whether the Times caught all of Hillary's misstatements misses the point.

This week I heard an account of increased hate crimes against Eastern Europeans and especially Polish workers in the UK because "the outcome of the BREXIT vote gave people the confidence to do so." One 40-year-old Polish factory worker was beaten to death in August.

Let's not give the haters here a chance to make things worse. Let's save the country and the world first and worry about holding Clinton accountable later.

Though I agree with virtually all of this, we do have some disagreements--especially the claim that I have been attempting to "legitimatize support for Trump." In truth, I have been attempting to understand with empathy (even for the "haters") what is motivating them to endorse someone such as Trump who is so reprehensible. 
I worry about the ugly and increasingly violent bifurcation in America and continue to feel it is essential to get behind the hot rhetoric and reduce the stereotyping in order to find ways to heal some of our breaches. If we cannot find a way to do that, the long term consequences are nightmarish. Thus I will continue to write in the same vein and hope my friend will also continue to do so as her comments are always challenging and welcome.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 13, 2016--Shaken, Not Stirred

A savvy friend and I have been engaged in an email back-and-forth about the possible need to "shake up the system" as a precursor to improving the government and Americans' quality of life.

I have been arguing that the desire to shake things up is what is motivating many to support Trump. She agrees that this may be true but the list of things that they want to shake up is regressive, misogynist, xenophobic, and often racist. She claims that the things that appeal to them include--
Law and order
Overturning Roe v Wade
Stoping Immigration
Stoping the War On Coal
Overturning Obamacare
Stoping terrorism
Bringing back manufacturing
I don't disagree with her list but I have also been attempting to make the case that though we abhor Trump's and his followers' agenda, it exists; like-it-or-not, it appeals to tens of millions; and for people who are fed up with the way things are working, the "system," their frustration and anger need to be understood and, here's where we do disagree, they may be ahead of us in reacting to the underlying causes of the deep discontent seen to be pervasive, including, among progressives. They also may be quicker than we to call for fundamental change, not just a spate of new government initiatives.

Liberals have their own list and thus among us there are frustrations but of a different sort, with different policies and outcomes. My friend made a list of these as well--
Fixing our crumbling infrastructure
Support equal pay
Fixing the broken education system
Fixing Obamacare
Make college affordable
Stoping terrorism
Creating programs to train/retain workers
We call for a lot of "fixing," Trump's people for a lot of "stoping" and "overturning."

One of her emails concludes--
The people I know want to wait until there are more responsible people (on both sides) who have the vision to make real change and are willing to compromise and respond to the realities of the 21st century. [My italics]
This is as good a summary of the liberal perspective as I've seen. Reasonable, mature, realpolitik, optimistic about human perfectibility, visionary, with a significant role for government to ameliorate differences, inequality, and selfishness.

The subject line on this email was the witty--Shaken, Not Stirred.

I responded--
From many, many  conversations over years with folks across the full spectrum of political views (from very progressive to far right) there appears to be at least one thing they share in common--to accomplish any of the goals you list is the need to shake things up. 
That has to happen before any of the good things you list have any realistic chance of happening. That list has been around for many years during Democratic as well as Republican administrations and still the roads collapse and the schools fail. 
What shaking things up specifically and realistically means is not clearly or persuasively articulated by anyone (very much including Bernie). 
For me, that's the heart of the problem--how to bring about the conditions essential to any large scale systemic alteration of the opportunity structure, economic policy, military as well as education reform, to cite just a couple of daunting but essential examples. 
And to me here's the irony--many on the right are most vociferous in regard to calling for shaking up but in truth have have only a retro-agenda--to stop doing some things and repeal others. Doing nothing, as the Tea Party folks understand, gets that nihilistic agenda accomplished.  
Since those on the left do have a proactive agenda one would think we would have the greater stake in wanting to bring about the conditions that precede real change. But what we have been calling for is largely program and project driven (thus Hillary has "plans"). There is no credible "radical" left left. And we desperately need that to shake things up in a positive way and help rescue us from incrementalism. 
We ended our exchange before I could mention one more thing about the preconditions needed to bring about more than emulative change--crisis.

There are many global examples but I would have mentioned just a few from our own history--

The First World War lured us from our national isolation and forced us to become players in the larger world.

The Great Depression led to the transformative social legislation that still protects our most vulnerable citizens.

The GI Bill that derived from World War II led to the beginning of what some at the time referred to as the American Century.

John Kennedy's assassination fueled the War on Poverty and Civil Rights legislation that help bring about social justice and economic security for the most forgotten and maltreated Americans.

Is there anything equivalent looming? Is a crisis essential to any hope for far-reaching fundamental change?

There's more to be said. I hope my friend will help me find more to say which I will pass along.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 12, 2016--I'm Pooped

And thus will return on Thursday with who-knows-what.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

November 11, 2016--Trump's Line In the Sand

Sunday's presidential debate hit an all-time political low. It was as if we were watching an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. How appropriate was that considering what spawned Donald Trump.

At one point I said to Rona that I hope they had security guards nearby because I think Trump and Clinton were about to attack each other. Physically. Forget refusing to shake hands. I was thinking mud wrestling and biting in the neck.

There was a sense of menace with bulky Trump towering over Hillary, looking as if he was stalking her and about to pounce.

But in truth it looked like that largely because of the camera angles and the choice of perspectives and images the director selected to put on the air. There were the foreshortened shots that made it appear that Donald was right on top of her whereas those shots from the side revealed that less menacingly he was a more benign six feet away.

Talk about pictures being worth more than a thousand words and how there are in these choices political consequences that derive from camera angles and control room decisions.

Then post debate on line and in print there was the flood of fact-check results.

Since among other things I try to keep an eye on reporting by the New York Times, here is a little fact-checking of the fact-checking.

Priding itself as the "paper of record," one would think that the Times in the spirit of journalistic integrity--especially when it comes to something objective such as fact-checking--would scrutinize about the same number of facts alleged by each candidate since both did quite a bit of, how shall I put this, fibbing, OK, lying, to use a word they both were comfortable hurling, would check about the same number of facts. Say ten for Trump and eight for Clinton. This would give the appearance of being fair and balanced though with a wink indicating that Donald told more whoppers than Hillary.

It might surprise you then--though not necessarily--that the non-partisan Times fact-checked 22 of Trump's assertions and only five of Hillary's.

To offer a flavor of the accuracy, let's take a look at Trump's charge that Hillary Clinton was still serving as secretary of state when President Obama drew his famous "line in the sand" when it appeared that Bashar al-Assad was about to use chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels.

Here cut-and-pasted from the Times' is their fact-checking--

Mr. Trump accused Mrs. Clinton of being there for President Obama’s “line in the sand” in Syria. She said she wasn’t.
Donald J. Trump appears to be referring to the “red line” (not “line in the sand”) episode in Syria. At a news conference in August 2012, President Obama said if President Bashar al-Assad of Syria moved or used “a whole bunch of chemical weapons,” it would be “a red line” that would change his calculations about not intervening in Syria with armed force. 
A year later — after Hillary Clinton was no longer in government — there was a chemical weapons attack in a rebel-contested suburb of Damascus, killing as many as 1,500 people. The United States government issued a report saying “streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence” as proving that Syrian government forces were behind the attack, meaning Mr. Obama’s red line had been crossed.
So Trump gets a pants-on-fire for mixing up "line in the sand" and "red line." Fair enough--but he got the essential truth right--Clinton was still in office when Obama issued his feckless threat. Presumably, with Clinton's endorsement.

From the Pulitzer-Prize winning website, POLITIFACT, here is what they have to say about the same fact--

Basically, Obama drew the chemical weapons "red line" in August 2012 when Clinton was secretary of state [my italics]. But by the time the White House confirmed that Assad crossed it about a year later, she had been replaced by John Kerry.

The Washington Post came to a similar conclusion.

This is not just academic nitpicking but goes to the heart of any analysis of Hillary Clinton's experience and accomplishments as secretary of state.

Forget Trump--he's on his way next month to a well deserved thrashing. But the fact that Clinton frequently misrepresents her record should be of concern. Especially to those of us who support her. I

And, yes, the New York Times also needs to take a close and honest look at itself. We need it to be at its journalistic best and Hillary Clinton, out next president, needs to be forceful, visionary, and honest.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016--Bar Mitzvah Boy

I'm taking a day off from Trump-Clinton 24/7.

*  *  *
Even casual readers of Behind know my mother died last year at 107 plus three days. I am sure I am deluding myself when I think I can equal or outdo that. But 110 or more feels within reach.

I know . . .

But, when I read that Yisrael Kristal waited 100 years before being bar mitvahed at 113, since I also have not been ritualistically admitted to the Jewish version of adulthood (that lack I have been told is obvious), I thought there was no rush to find a rabbi willing to take on someone incorrigibly like me if I want to fill that gap in my Jewish resumé.

But then I read, also in the New York Times, that new studies of aging are coming to conclude that 115 years is looking like the ceiling for human life expectancy. Some, including me, have been thinking that with modern medicine there is no limit to how old we can get. What kind of life one would have at 130 is another matter.

A little thrown off my pins by these findings, I did a little quick calculating and, considering my age, I thought I had better get on with my Torah training if I want to be alive for the blessed event. I also thought to turn to Mr. Kristal's life story to guide me.

His life turns out to be so unique, so incredible that I can barely find anything specific to steer me but inspiration.

At 113, the world's oldest man according to the Guiness Book of World Records, he was born in 1903 in the small Polish village of Malenie--as it turns out not far from where my mother was born just five years later. Since World War I was raging when he was 13 he could not be Bar Mitzvahed at the traditional age.

After the war, with an uncle, he moved to Lodz and opened a candy store. In 1939 Lodz was overrun by the Nazis and his wife and two small children were killed. Five years later, with his second wife he was sent to Auschwitz and somehow managed to survive, the only member of his extended family to do so. When the camp was liberated he weighed just 82 pounds.

He emigrated to Israel, married, and raised another family. He now has two surviving children, nine grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren. Most of them were at his Bar Mitzvah. He is reported by them to retain most of his capacities.

Looking around at the family who gathered for his bar mitzvah, one of his granddaughters said, "All these people from one person. Imagine how many rooms could be filled if six million had lived."

His daughter, Kristal Kuperstoch say her father has prayed every morning for the past 100 years and attributed his longevity to that and his diet--he eats modestly but when he does, almost every day, he has a helping of pickled herring. Until his late 80s he also had a taste for wine and beer.

The herring and beer sound pretty good to me.

Bar Mitzvah Boy Yisrael Kristal

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Friday, October 07, 2016

October 7, 2016--Two Updates

Update Number 1--Hearing Aids:

Later today I am scheduled for my third "adjustment." The audiologist, Gary Schwartzberg, will ask about anything that might be bothering me. Not an existential question (for that I could report about a lot that is bothering me) but a diagnostic one--how is my hearing in crowded restaurants, while watching TV, how does music sound--too sharp, too flat--are there "hearing situations"where sounds are more unpleasant than I feel they should be? Things of this kind.

Less specifically, he will want to know how I am adjusting to having the hearing aids themselves. He will ask this with an awareness of my family experience--especially about my father who resisted them for years, feeling that if he agreed to wear them they would turn him into an instant old man. Little realizing that he already was, at about 80, an "old man."

I will remind the doctor of that and add that there were ironies with my father and hearing aids that I want to avoid, confessing that for me many inter-generational inheritances have not been benign.

My experience, including, like my father, avoiding the subject for at least three too-many years, though the need was manifest, is something I want to move on from and I am eager to remain alert to other genetic traps that may be lurking.

I also plan to report that having my aids now for three weeks has not turned me into an old man but the opposite--now that I can hear like a more normal person, I feel younger, more vibrant and engaged with life.

Checking that I am not on a grandiosity trip--the reverse of where I had inertly been--I asked Rona about my state of being and she reports that not unlike me who cried when I heard her real voice again she feels some renewed youthfulness (or at least the late-in-life semblance of it) and that this is also making her feel younger and more optimistic. Yes, we have that kind of braided relationship.

In the meantime, awaiting the next adjustment, I'm spending a lot of time listening to Bach's unaccompanied cello suites. Able again to experience the divine.

Update Number 2--Lawn Signs:

When last I reported I noted how few election signs were appearing on lawns throughout the Midcoast. I speculated that perhaps Mainers weren't that enthusiastic about the choices. On the other hand, local friends said it was too soon to draw any conclusions. About a month before Election Day, they claimed, there will be the usual profusion.

This has turned out to be true. Reading the signs (pun intended) there is a clear pattern--Hillary in a landslide.

But a complicated one.

There are about as many yard signs as four years ago but unlike then when Obama had a slight lead, Hillary signs dominate. By yesterday morning's count there were about 30 for Clinton and only 10 or so for Trump.

The complicated part--

There are at least another dozen places where there are arrays of signs for local Democrats for the state legislature or Congress but none for Hillary. One or two of these have Trump signs. This suggests some ticket splitting because of unhappiness with the choices.

But again--Hillary in a romp. Or . . .

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

October 6, 2016--Disputatio Interruptus

There must have been some method to Tim Kaine's madness the other night during the vice-presidential debate.

From almost the first minute, like someone with neurological issues, Kaine compulsively interrupted his opponent, Mike Pence. As a result, even most Democrats agreed, in spite of his reactionary views, the colorless Indiana governor carried the night.

One is left then to speculate whether Donald Trump will benefit. Since he could claim to have picked the better running mate will he be able to extrapolate this to successfully assert that, if elected, he will pick better qualified cabinet officers?

This assumes anyone was watching.

We attempted to.

Fortified with freshly brewed tea and homemade coconut macaroons, Rona and I were all set to watch for the entire 90 minutes. But because of Kaine's disputatio interruptus, after 20 minutes, we retired to the bedroom to curl up with our books. Me to Burton Hersh's devastating Bobby and J. Edgar, Rona to a galleys copy of our friend Reggie Nadelson's new book about Balthazar, the New York hotspot cafe and bistro.

Overnight, knowing how highly Virginia friends regard former governor and current senator Tim Kaine, I wondered what motivated him to interrupt literally 70 times. About every 30 seconds when Pence was attempting to talk.

The 70-interruption statistic is not made up but comes from The Hill, which is clearly obsessed with arcane matters.

Further, Neilsen's track of viewer attention found a trajectory similar to ours--minute-by-minute people drifted away from the debate until perhaps half as many who began were watching. Or, perhaps equally likely, sleeping with the TV still on.

"I think that what we did," Rona suggested, "was exactly what the Clinton-Kaine political operatives were hoping. That we'd give up on the debate and either troll around looking for something else to watch or switch the TV off altogether."

"Go on."

"With an increasing lead in the polls as Trump flounders in greater and greater absurdity, with a month to go, they want to sit on the lead. One way to do that is to get people literally to tune out and vote early."

"If true," I said, "and I think yours is a good point, it will be interesting to see what Hillary's strategy is on Sunday when she and Trump debate again."

"So if you're Hillary keeping it boring is the new agenda."

"If so, Kaine had a really good night. He put 20 million American's to sleep.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

October 5, 2016--Hillary Clinton's Plan for Education

Over coffee yesterday, John, a lifelong liberal, said with some sadness, "Look, I know Hillary's going to win and that's a very good thing, but why is she running? I mean, in big picture terms, how would she summarize what she will do for America when our president?"

"She could say 'I'm not Trump,'" I quipped.

"Or, 'I'm a woman,'" Rona quipped.

"Though I can't stand him," John said, "Trump effectively sums up why he's running by saying, 'I'll make America great again.' Of course what he's proposing to do, if he is proposing anything more than tax cuts for people like himself, is either nothing or preposterous. But he's still attracting almost half the potential voters."

I said, "A lot of that has to do with the fact that he's not Hillary, not a woman, and is white."

"And not a politician," Rona added.

"She has a plan for this and a plan for that and then another plan for something else," John said. "I think she has at least 100 plans. But still, she isn't saying what she wants to accomplish. This may sound cynical, but I suspect that one reason she isn't ahead by 25 points is that many people, very much including those who would be eager to feel good about voting for her, think she's running for the presidency because she feels it's her turn and that she just simply wants to be president. Which is very different, obviously, than telling the public what she would do if she were elected."

"Maybe we're being unfair," I said. "I confess I haven't, but have either of you looked at any of her plans? She keeps encouraging people to look at them on her website. Maybe they're terrific and if enacted would accomplish good, progressive things. If so, the problem might be that she's not that great a communicator. She admits to not being a natural politician like Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan."

John and Rona indicated they hadn't read any of Clinton's plans and so I volunteered to look at the one for education and report back to them about what I think about it.

*   *   *  

Her plan for K-12 education says that--
As President, Hillary will: 
Launch a national campaign to modernize and elevate the profession of teaching.
Provide every student in America an opportunity to learn computer science.
Rebuild America's schools.
Dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.
I scrolled down to see if there was more on her education agenda but there isn't. This is it.

Since the other's are self-explanatory, I took a closer look at priority 1--elevating the teaching profession.

Here it is in its entirety--
America is asking more of our educators than ever before. They are preparing our kids for a competitive economy, staying on top of new pedagogies, and filling gaps that we as a country have neglected--like giving low-income kids, English-language learners, and kids with disabilities the support they need to thrive. We ask so much of our educators, but we aren't setting them up for success. That's why Hillary will launch a national campaign to elevate and modernize the teaching profession, [sic] by preparing, supporting, and paying every child's teacher as if the future of our country is in their hands--because it is.
There is little new here but it is still good to remind people that we need to do better by our young people.

Of course it is true that the future is in teachers' hands. At least partly. Parents count even more and there are also significant roles for other service providers and programs such as school lunch programs and rich pre-school and after-school programs. Perhaps these are addressed in other Clinton plans.

"Supporting" teachers is fine as is paying them appropriate wages, but there is not a word here about holding teachers in any way accountable for how their students progress. Raising this gets us into the hot topic of using high-stakes achievement testing as part of the accountability process.

The kind of testing we do as part of the process of evaluating and rewarding teaching excellence is not the only way to do this. As someone who prides herself on her 30+ years of advocacy for children one could expect much more than is revealed in this skeletal plan.

We hold doctors and surgeons accountable for the outcomes of their work so why not teachers?

There is also not one word here about helping teachers learn and employ methodologies that have proven to be successful. There are many with excellent track records which could be endorsed and funded through vigorous and visionary presidential leadership.

Clinton's whole approach to education improvement is too soft and in effect a pander to the organized education establishment.

Her call for "elevating the profession of teaching" could have been written by one of Clinton's most fervent supporters--highly visible on the platform the night Hillary accepted the Democratic nomination--Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In effect, the national teachers' union.

Weingraten has been a lifelong opponent of anything having to do with changing the existing teacher tenure system and has lobbied long and effectively to kill off the nascent accountability movement.

*   *   *

I suspect when I report back to John and Rona they will not be surprised. I only hope they won't ask me to read any other plans.

With Randi Weingarten

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

October 4, 2016--Donald: Alone In Trump Tower

Richard Nixon to me is the most fascinating of presidents.

Not best, not "near great" as historians rank chief executives and, as president, but if one can set Watergate aside, in many ways--with Russia and especially China--he was quite effective.

But, yes, it turned out he was a "crook," and during the last two years of his presidency, as his life crashed down upon him, like Lear, he raged at even the elements.

Thus, my favorite book about Nixon is Richard Reeves, Nixon: Alone In the White House, in which those final years are starkly and even poetically rendered.

We find Nixon more-and-more alone and isolated, ensconced in his Executive Office Building hideaway office, not sleeping, with the fireplace roaring even in August, brooding while drinking excessively, filling page-after-free-associative-page in his ever-present yellow legal pads. It is not difficult to imagine the thoughts that were tormenting him. All brought upon himself.

It is equally easy to imagine the thoughts now tormenting Donald Trump as his personal universe is imploding. Used to winning he is now losing with the cataclysm again mostly self-inflicted.

Not only did he lose the first debate to Hillary Clinton but as part of the bait she held out so subtly to entrap him, "to get under his skin," was her barb about his undue interest in beauty pageants and how he responded by making unmotivated, disparaging remarks about Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe, while lacerating Hillary and commenting without foundation, libelously about Machado's "disgusting" weight gain and sex life.

Clinton's was an artful thrust calculated to distance him further from the few women voters who for some reason continue to say that they plan to vote for him.

Trump, rather then letting that taunt go unresponded too--he could have righteously taken the high road, noting how it was beneath him to respond as it should have been beneath Clinton to raise while the country and world roil.

Instead, Trump, lacking impulse control, knowing no high road, took the bait and doubled-down late Friday night-very early Saturday morning, firing out tweets to his 12 million followers--

At 5:14 a.m. he wrote, "Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an 'angel' without checking her past, which is terrible!"

Five minus later, Trump posted, "Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGMENT! Hillary was set up by a con."

At 5:30 he mercifully concluded--"Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?"

This says nothing about either Clinton or Machado but it is a window into Trump insomniac mind.

Or should I say soul?

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Monday, October 03, 2016

October 3, 2106--Armageddon

It surprised me the other morning when Jack said that we are approaching Armageddon.

He's as solid a citizen as there is, totally rational, totally secular, totally progressive. He of all people was talking this way?

It might have been a response to what Joe said. Joe, a Trump supporter from even before Donald formally announced he was running for president.

"I'm for him," he responded when I challenged him at that time, "because he knows how to get things done." This before the full extent of how he actually "gets things done" was well known.

On Thursday Joe said, "If Trump loses the election, or even if he wins, I predict there will be a civil war within 20 years."

"Are you being serious?" I asked, "Or just wanting to be provocative now that your boy is on the path to defeat?"

"I'm being serious. There's so much dissension, so many angry people on all sides, race relations are heading for an explosion. And then there are all those rich people while everyone else is struggling and falling behind."

That's when Jack said that about Armageddon.

"You agree with Joe?" I was incredulous. This is the first time Jack agreed with him about anything, You think we're headed for a civil war?"

Jack who was sending money to Bernie before Hillary won the nomination and since then has been a fervent supporter of hers was being serious, which caused me to be concerned. Not about him but about the possibility of what they both were predicted.

"You talking Armageddon because of what Joe said about race and economic inequality?"

"Basically yes. And of course they're related. On a collision course."

"This feels very pessimistic. You tend, as most liberals, to be optimistic because as a liberal you think things can be improved by human intervention. Including by governments."

"In general that's true. But even progressives are fed up with governments. Yes, there are some things that are working well. For me, at my age, that includes Medicare. Though I know it among other things is bankrupting the country. When the due-bills arrive, that's when Joe's prediction will come true. When the money runs out and people don't get their medical care or Social Security. Then, watch out."

"He's right," Joe jumped back in, surprised to find Jack agreeing to anything he had to say. "It may be a trivial example, but have you driven on the roads lately?"

"Obviously. Even to get here to the diner."

"Didn't you tell me that because of the condition of the roads you had to get your tires aligned three times in eight months? And that you had to replace all four tires after a year and a half? Michelins? How much did all that set you back?"

"For all of it," Rona said, "more than a thousand."

"Who is responsible for the roads?" Joe asked.

"I guess the county."

"And what is the county?" Not waiting for me to answer he said, "Government that's what it is. Government."

"Your point?"

"Among other reasons, that's contributing to making people crazy. Fortunately for you you can come up with the thousand, but for a lot of folks, including right here, that's a month's take-home pay. And then, like it or not, agreeing with me or not, when they see people with food stamps and subsidized heat, and all that, the resentment builds and will, as I said, boil over when things get scarcer and more unequal. Civil war, pure and simple."

"Armageddon pure and simple," Jack chimed in not smiling so I knew he was being serious.

When later in the day I told another, even more progressive friend about this, he pulled me close to him and whispered, almost  as a non sequitur, "We never should have sent troops to Iraq or anywhere else in that region. What we should have done, what we should do, is announce that anyone that attacks Israel will get nuked."

Incredulous, I said, "Nuked? That would lead to Armageddon, wouldn't it?"

He thought for a moment, shrugged, and said,"That's where we're we headed anyway so . . ."

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