The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘2016 Election’ Category


It was Inauguration Day, January 20, 1961 and I was very sad.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy was going to become President of the United States, succeeding Dwight David Eisenhower in that position.

My parents had both supported Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 election and were disappointed in its outcome.  Nevertheless, like most of those in the country, they accepted its results and hoped that the new president would be good for the country.  Kennedy’s election was not the source of my sadness.  It was that we were losing Eisenhower.

I never knew either of my grandfathers.  But when I watched Ike on our Dumont television, he always impressed me as the kind of person who, if I were able, I would adopt as my foster grandfather.  He impressed me as calm, reasoned and a person who had control of every situation using his extensive life experience as his guide.  I felt safe with him running the country.  That was true despite the fact that many of our public buildings hosted “Air Raid Shelter” signs on their facades and that we conducted regular air raid exercises at school.  The cold war with our recently former ally, the Soviet Union, was in full bloom.

The presidential election of 1960 had not been without controversy.  Nixon carried 26 states to Kennedy’s 22.  But Kennedy won the nationwide popular vote by slightly more than 118,00,  rather remarkable considering that at that time there were 17 million more voters registered as Democrats than there were Republicans.   Kennedy overwhelmingly won the electoral college garnering 303 votes to Nixon’s 219, a margin of victory not very dissimilar from the margin that Trump had over Clinton in the 2016 election.  Ten states were decided by fewer than ten thousand votes each.  It was the closest election since 1916 when incumbent President Woodrow Wilson defeated Supreme Court Justice Charles Evan Hughes.  Despite a number of state recounts affirming the results, there were those who considered Kennedy’s election “illegitimate.”

A purported concern that Americans held in that election was that Kennedy lacked the experience and was too young to be an effective and capable president.  That, at least, was the argument that newspapers and political commentators put forward.  But there was another issue that was only mouthed in whispers.  Kennedy was a Roman Catholic.  And there were plenty of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants who were sure that if he were elected, the United States, the strongest nation on earth, would find itself under the control of the world’s smallest country, the Vatican and Pope John XXIII.  Conspiracy theories are nothing new to American politics.

During the short term of Kennedy’s presidency, there is nothing to suggest that any foreign influence played a role in the policies which he put forward or the programs he enacted.  Nevertheless, this was an era when Roman Catholics or Jews need not apply for memberships in various social clubs and organizations.  The term that was used to explain this obvious prejudice was that they were “restricted.”  Indeed, they were.

The cacophonous group who have coalesced under the umbrella as “protestors of an illegitimate Trump presidency” will be out in force tomorrow to express their point of view at the Inauguration ceremonies.  That certainly is their constitutionally protected right – as long as they do so in a peaceful manner, an issue which may be in question.  One of their main talking points is that Trump’s victory is “illegitimate” and attributable to “foreign influence” in the election – specifically Russia’s.  Interestingly, their right to protest which will be protected tomorrow by law enforcement is one which they wouldn’t enjoy were this unfolding in Moscow rather than Washington, D. C.

If the Vatican ran the government during the Kennedy administration, they did a poor job of it.  It was a mere ten years after Kennedy’s assassination that the Supreme Court upheld Roe v Wade – a decision that flew in the face of one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, the sanctity of life from inception.

If the Russians influenced the 2016 election they also did a poor job of it.  Had they wanted to avoid the controversy over their influence, much of which stems from Clinton’s three million larger popular vote than Trump’s, they should have scrounged up a few million more votes for “their candidate.”

If the Russians’ goal was to undermine the confidence that Americans have in our democratic process and in the continuity of governance, they needn’t have bothered.  It appears that we have a sufficient supply of our own, including members of Congress, who are attempting to achieve that same result.



In yesterday’s post, I described writing a senior high school paper on author Sinclair Lewis.  What I didn’t mention was that in addition to being a fairly prolific novel writer he penned a large number of short stories which were primarily published in magazines.  As part of the preparation for writing my paper, I spent many hours in the main branch of the N. Y. Public Library’s periodicals room reading these.  As I recall I made my way through thirty or so of them.

Although I no longer remember the title of this particular story, there was one that dealt with causality.  It described a man who worked for a company that manufactured munitions.  He forgot to set his alarm clock the night before an important meeting and as a result over slept, catching a later train than usual and so was late for the meeting.  This set off a series of five or six different events which ultimately resulted in a revolution occurring in some unnamed South American country and a military takeover of the same.  The story was unusual for Lewis, almost science fiction-like in content.  But it does speak to the current brouhaha over Russian influence in our recent presidential election.

It would be foolish for any rational person not to believe that hostile foreign nations including Russia, North Korea, China and Iran, to name a few, would not engage in activities which they see to be in their best interest to the detriment of the United States or any other country they believe to be their adversary.  After all, wasn’t that why we so staunchly supported and financed the activities of Radio Free Europe during the cold war with the Soviet Union?  What is remarkable is that there seems to be so much surprise on the part of our elected officials that this happens.

As I recall, during the 2012 Presidential Debates, candidate Romney was asked what he considered to be the greatest threat to the security of the United States.  His almost immediate response was, “Russia.”  In his rebuttal, President Obama ridiculed Romney for his answer. So one of two things is true.  Either Romney was correct and Obama had it wrong.  Or, if Russia did not pose that threat in 2012 but now does, then the failure of U. S. foreign policy under the Obama administration has allowed Russia to become that threat.

Those who are arguing that Russia’s influence affected the outcome of the election must hold to the same simple causality that Lewis describes in his short story.  One thing leads to another to another to an unexpected outcome, as surely as night follows day.  That makes for a good story or perhaps an engaging movie – but it is not how things generally work in this world.

There are several issues in this now wide-raging debate that are not in question.

The first is there was an almost cavalier attitude toward cyber-security on the part of both Hillary Clinton and John Podesta which allowed Russia, if in fact they were the ones who actually hacked their emails, to gain entry into their systems.

The second is that no one has alleged that the emails were in any way massaged or altered before their release.  This, of course, begs the question, should the American electorate not have been allowed to see this material so that they could make a more informed decision on the candidate for whom they would vote?

The third is that everyone agrees that neither Russia nor anyone else were able to alter the actual vote totals as they were recorded precinct by precinct.

The fourth is that everyone agrees that whatever influence the alleged Russian hack had on the election results is unquantifiable – just as it would be naïve to attribute the fall of the former Soviet Union solely on the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe.

It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to hypothesize why the election turned out as it did.  Perhaps there were a lot of Clinton supporters in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who simply were either too sick or to unmotivated to show up at the polls and cast their ballots.

Or perhaps there were some undecided voters who simply concluded that after years of Clinton controversies, whether or not anything had been proven, there just seemed to be far too much smoke so there may well be a fire burning somewhere.

Or perhaps millions of Republican voters in New York or California either never bothered to register or if they were registered didn’t vote, knowing that their vote would essentially be meaningless.  Perhaps the number of GOP voters who sat it out would have been sufficient for Trump to win not only the Electoral College vote but the popular vote as well.

But let’s talk about my adopted state of Nevada for a moment – one of those “swing states” as political pundits like to call it.  What if something specific happened here which had a far more direct impact on the election than Clinton’s emails or Benghazi or the failure of Obamacare?  What if an employer in this state tacitly suggested to its employees how they should vote in the presidential election?  That employer (and perhaps others) is MGM Resorts International.

MGM is an international corporation headquartered in Las Vegas.  It owns and manages properties in Nevada, several other states and internationally, primarily in Macao, China.  The company employs approximately 50,000 people, 35,000 of those being here in the Silver State.

MGM has a very civic corporate conscience.  It has received a number of awards from several “progressive” organizations for their support for the LGBTQ community and for minority groups, primarily Hispanics, many of whom it employs.  And what would being a good citizen be other than to support the most important right which we have – the right to vote?

During early voting here in Nevada, MGM allowed it’s employees time off from work in order to execute their franchise.  In fact, it provided free buses to local temporary polling stations so their employees could vote more easily.  All that is fine.  But MGM took this one step further.

In order to simplify the voting experience, MGM provided its employees who took advantage of their free transportation a sample ballot to take with them into the voting booth.  The problem was that this “sample ballot” contained the note at the top that “MGM recommends a vote for the following candidates and propositions on the November 8th ballot.”  The names of Hillary Clinton for president and Catherine Cortez Masto for U. S. Senate were checked and highlighted in yellow on the pre-printed form.  As it turns out, Clinton carried Nevada by a margin of  27,202 votes and Masto won the Senate seat by 26,915 votes, obviously fewer votes than the number of MGM employees who received their “suggested ballot.”  I only know this because a friend who is an MGM employee and who supported Trump in the election was infuriated about this and gave me the copy she received from her employer.

It is, of course, a moot point as Clinton lost the election.  But Masto, whose background is sketchy at best, is one of our one hundred senators and a protégé of Harry Reid’s.  With a margin in the Senate as tight as it is, her election may well make a difference.  And while I’m not sure whether MGM broke the law in providing this ballot, I believe it would be fair to suggest that if you were employed by a company that handed you a completed “suggested ballot,” you might feel pressured to vote as indicated.

We can only speculate about either Russia’s or MGM’s motivation in involving themselves in our election.  Perhaps MGM’s management simply was expressing their liberal bent.  Or perhaps they are concerned about their property in Macao and the nature of our relationship with China under a Trump administration.  That the President-Elect took a call from the democratically elected President of Taiwan the day after his election must be giving them fits.

One thing that is certain is that the 2016 election will be a boon to the publishing industry.  I suspect enough will be written about it to fill a presidential library.


On a balmy night in July, 64 A.D., the great city of Rome with its magnificent structures began to burn.  The fire lasted two days before it was contained and according to a number of the extant records written at the time, the Emperor Nero ordered the fire and calmly played his lyre as he watched the devastation grow and the fire consumed more of the great city.

There are several theories as to why this happened.  The first is that Nero was insane.  The second that he was quite sane and needed a scapegoat to blame for the decline of the Roman Empire under his and his predecessors’ rule – and he found it in the growing Christian community that he viewed as a threat.

In politics, despite the span of several millennia, it’s apparent that some things really don’t change.

Over the past thirty years, there have been more “fires” associated with Bill and Hillary Clinton than any other politicians in all of  U. S. history. Naturally, the Clintons dismiss these as nothing more than right wing fabricated conspiracies intended to undermine this sordid couple and their personal ambitions.  There is an alternate theory to this explanation.

If ten arsons were set and there was one commonality to all of them – that the same person was present at each blaze – the reasonable assumption would be that person might be the arsonist and his or her connection to these blazes should be investigated.  That’s what any intelligent law enforcement official would do.  And, perhaps, despite years of evasion, the time for that investigation has come to the Clintons.

We will certainly not know the conclusion to the FBI’s re-opening the case into Secretary Clinton’s use of an unsecure server, the contents of most of the emails that were deleted apparently in defiance of and after a Congressional subpoena for all her emails was issued or the “pay for play” allegations that are swirling in an every growing eddy around the Clinton Foundation by the time we cast our ballots on November 8th.  But for those few voters who are still undecided, there is something they might want to consider.

The financial services industry is one of the most highly regulated businesses at both a federal and state level.  Most people who deal either in providing investment advice or in the sale of securities are required to pass the Series 7 examination and to take regularly scheduled continuing education exams to make sure they are current on the latest regulations.

Virtually every training course for the exam begins with the same sentence which the applicant is supposed to consider paramount in her or his career should they pass the exam.  It boils down to the simple sentence, “Know your customer.” Here’s what that means.

As an advisor or broker, a licensee is supposed to put the best interest of the customer first and to tailor any advice specifically to meet the needs of that customer using what is known as “the prudent man rule.”  In other words, would a prudent man make a recommendation for a customer to purchase a specific security after analyzing their financial objectives and particular circumstances.

As an example, a sixty-five year old widow with a two hundred thousand nest egg and whose sole income other than return on investments is Social Security would normally be directed toward an allocation of conservative investments such as blue chip dividend paying stocks and government bonds.  After all, with a life expectancy of nearly twenty years, conservation of principal is critical.

On the other hand, a thirty year old who happens to win twenty million in a lottery payout would most likely be directed into a more aggressive investment strategy which would, in part, include higher risk assets in order to grow the portfolio in the long term to maximize the likelihood of wealth accumulation.  Among those high risk assets might be taking small interests in various “private placement” offerings which, among other things, might include participation in oil and gas drilling ventures.  These sorts of ventures have existed for well over a century.

Now using the prudent man rule, it would be imprudent if the advisor suggested putting the new millionaire’s entire fortune into one or even several of these placements.  After all, despite the improvement in technology, it is possible for a particular oil and gas syndicate to drill five or ten wells and have them all come up dry and for the investors in them to lose their entire investment.  But to advise an investment allocation of perhaps five percent of the lottery winner’s fortune and spread that between ten or twenty exploration ventures would most likely be viewed as conforming to the prudent man rule as the allocation into these risky ventures is small and by spreading the risk over a number of such ventures the investors chance of getting what might be a significant return would increase.  Diversification reduces risk – even in the case of inherently risky ventures.  At least that’s the case on the surface – but let’s add some additional facts to the equation.

First, the advisor most likely will earn a commission by directing investors into the ventures he recommends.  That is in complete conformity with accepted financial services guidelines.  But the question about this recommendation becomes hazier if the syndicates planning on doing the oil and gas exploration happen to be directed by the advisor’s brother-in-law – particularly if the advisor fails to disclose that fact to the investor.  And, of course, it becomes an outright scam and punishable by fines and jail time if the syndicates never plan on actually doing any drilling but are simply reporting back to the investors that they drilled nothing but dry holes and pocketing their money.  Sadly, there are people who are perfectly capable of engaging in just such behavior – hence the need for regulation – and where warranted, prosecution.

I feel confident in saying that Hillary Clinton is familiar with these regulations.  The basis for my statement is based on three historical facts.  The first, Ms. Clinton demonstrated a remarkable understanding of financial markets when she was able to turn a one thousand dollar investment in cattle futures into a one hundred thousand dollar account – a return of 10,000%.   The second, continuing with the narrative of her stellar financial acumen, the Clintons claimed that they were “dead broke” when they left the White House – and yet, starting with nothing, have managed to accumulate well more than one hundred million in wealth.  The third, of course, is that Wall Street clearly understands Ms. Clinton’s unique insights into money and has recognized her talents by paying her $225,000 to share her wisdom with them in each of four separate one hour speeches.

Forgive me if, given the profound understanding that Ms. Clinton has of the way things work, not only in financial markets but political arenas as well, how she mishandled a few small but disturbing aspects of her job as Secretary of State.

The first, of course, is how she felt comfortable having an unsecured server on which she conducted official and personal business in violation of State Department rules;

The second is how a woman of her perspicacity could have confused the “c” in the header of emails she received, meaning “classified:”, with “cookie recipe”.

But the  most disturbing thing to me about candidate Clinton is, how did she come to develop such a misanthropic and disdainful view of people and on what basis has she come to accept her obviously imperious view of the world.

I can see only one posible benefit coming from the election of Hillary Clinton to the presidency of the United States.  She will create a tremendous demand for new jobs for music teachers.  All of us will have to learn to play the lyre as we watch the liar that is Hillary Clinton set America ablaze.


As we come down to the wire and the general election is less than two weeks away, I look at it’s being over with a mixture of gratitude and trepidation.  Gratitude that the endless political ads will have ended – and trepidation as to the outcome.

That we have two flawed candidates (my apologies to Gov. Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein who are essentially irrelevant), from whom we must choose is rather distasteful.  But at least one of those, Donald J. Trump won his nomination fairly and squarely in a field as crowded as the Kentucky Derby and despite an entrenched Republican establishment that actively opposed him.  They lost that battle and are working hard to lose the war because they refuse to recognize a truism uttered by the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, “The people has spoke.”

From  a quick read of some of the revelations being supplied by Wikileaks, it’s becoming clear that Hillary Rodham Clinton had some underhanded (and perhaps illegal assistance) in getting where she has gotten.  Nevertheless, she is on the ballot and we Americans have a choice to make.  The decision is effectively a binary one – and I have thrown my support and my vote to Trump for one simple reason which the late humorist, Will Rogers so eloquently expressed:

“I am less concerned about what government can do for me than I am concerned about what government can do to me.”

There are two things we can say about Trump and Clinton with some degree of certainty.  The first is that they are both human (although extreme partisans in either camp might dispute the validity of that statement as it pertains to the opposing candidate).  The second is that they have, during their lifetimes, both switched party affiliations.

Trump claims that in order to do business in his home base of New York City, it was essential that he both register as a Democrat and contribute to various Democratic candidates in order to “grease the wheels” of commerce.  While I don’t know if that was true in NYC, I do know that was a certainty in Chicago where I spent most of my adult life.  Attempting to do business with the City of Chicago as a self-identifying Republican was about as fruitful as a man who had lost both his arms in an accident attempting to engage in a little self-abuse.

Clinton arrived at Wellesley College armed with a copy of  Sen. Barry Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative” and four years later had shed this tome in favor of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.  With her newly enlightened mindset, naturally Clinton turned her political allegiance away from her Republican foundation and joined the ranks of the militant Democrats – the purported champions of the “little people”.  But is that characterization in fact consistent with the real history of  Democrats?

Dinesh D’Souza took on this subject in his excellent documentary, “Hillary’s America:  The Secret History of the Democratic Party”. The movie is available on-line and I heartily recommend watching it by anyone who has an interest in American politics.  But below you will find my marginally edited recap – together with some additional material that I believe is relevant and important.

In 1838, Democrat president Andrew Jackson implemented his plan to remove the indigenous pre-Columbian Cherokee people from the ancestral lands they occupied east of the Mississippi River, relocating them to what is now the state of Oklahoma.  The Cherokees called this “The Trail of Tears”.  Of the estimated 15,000 men, women and children who began that march, it is estimated that 4,000 perished en route.  Jackson was no friend of “diversity”.

The year was 1861.  In South Carolina, Democrats fired the first shots on the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter beginning the Civil War.  The reason for the salvo and the primary motivation for the Confederate onslaught that took more American lives than any other war in which this nation has been engaged since it’s inception was the preservation of the institution of slavery.

It was the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln who wrote and spoke the words of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves from their bondage.  It was Democrat John Wilkes Booth, the active agent of a covert conspiracy who fired the fatal shot, killing the president.

In the Reconstruction Era, Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the newly freed slaves and discourage them from exercising their newly forged freedom.  The tactics that were employed included whippings and lynchings.  Although this original hate group soon died out, it saw two later reincarnations -revived in both cases by people who identified as Democrats.

In 1878, U. S. Senator Aaron A. Sargent introduced a bill that was destined, forty-two years later, to become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution – granting the right to vote to women.  Not one single Democrat in the Senate voted for this legislation and it had to be re-introduced two more times before it met the requirements to be voted out of the Congress and given to the states for ratification.

The year was 1942 and Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the War Department’s Executive Order 9066 which authorized and resulted in the internment of more than 110, 000 Japanese-Americans who were legal residents in the United States.  Of these, more than 20,000 were U. S. citizens.  This complete violation of the Constitutional rights of these individuals was upheld by a majority Democrat dominated Supreme Court.

A significant number of the ads which are being aired in Nevada and, I presume, in most other states, portray Trump as a person who is “unstable” and should “never be trusted with the codes that could launch our nuclear weapons”. Personally, as a child of the cold war, I remember my many nightmares in which, despite our air raid drills at school and the yellow and black signs on our public buildings indicating that they were “bomb shelters,” none of these made me feel secure.  That humanity has both developed and continues to stockpile a sufficient quantity of these weapons effectively to destroy all life on our planet still causes me to shudder.  But what is the actual history of the deployment of nuclear weapons?

The year was 1945 and Germany and Italy had been defeated by the Allies.  The war against the Japanese Empire continued.  Despite the advice of his military advisors, including Dwight D. Eisenhower who would succeed him in the Oval Office and who advocated for a naval blockade of the Japanese islands, Democrat President Harry S. Truman gave the order to drop atomic weapons on Hiroshima and two days later on Nagasaki.  Although there are no exact statistics of the number of people who were liquidated immediately when the bombs fell or who subsequently perished from radiation poisoning, the estimates are that at least 600,000 people died, making these the most devastating two days in human history.

In its historic decision in 1957, the Supreme Court struck down school segergation, a policy that was typical of the discriminatory anti-black laws which Democrats had championed in the South.  In Arkansas, a state in which Hillary Clinton should later become First Lady, the scene was set for confrontation as Democrat Governor Orval Faubus intended to resist the Supreme Court’s ruling.

At Little Rock Central High School, formerly an all white school, nine black students had enrolled for the new school year.  When they arrived at school they were greeted by angry crowds.  President Eisenhower summoned Faubus to the White House to demand that he call in the National Guard to ensure the safety of these students.  Faubus declined to do so, ultimately causing President Eisenhower to call in the 101st Airborne to ensure the students’ safety and to control those who protested the integration of our public schools.

Republican President George W. Bush has been widely excoriated for engaging in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which more than 7,000 American service people have died.  Part of that criticism comes from the fact that among the dead enemy were additional people, euphemistically called “collateral damage” who were civilians including women and children.  That is tragic – but we should be used to this sort of tragedy as it happens every time violent conflict occurs.

But in contrast, our fourth bloodiest conflict, exceeded in death count only by the Civil War, WWII and WWI, the war in Vietnam, vigorously pursued by Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson, makes these recent sorties look like a nice day at a church picnic.

We lost 58,209 servicemen in Vietnam with an additional 1,643 MIA and presumed dead.  Perhaps the turning point in the mindset of Americans who originally supported this war, came about not only as the numbers of soldier deaths mounted but as the media began reporting on the way in which the war was being pursued, specifically that we were using napalm as a tool to “flush out” the Viet Cong.

Napalm is a gelatinous compound that burns through almost anything in which it comes in contact – including human flesh. This iconic Time Magazine photo of a naked nine year old girl and her friends who had napalm dumped on their village in 1972 might have been the most gripping of any picture taken in Vietnam or perhaps any war.




And there you have it … a somewhat concise history of nearly two hundred years of how Democrats have addressed the questions of race and women and bringing about peace through diplomacy.  It hardly squares with the propaganda about “inclusion” which is one of the central themes of their talking points.  Is there an explanation?

At the beginning of D’Souza’s movie, he speaks with a fellow prisoner in his jail.  (D’Souza was convicted and sentenced for improperly making a ten thousand dollar political contribution to a friend’s campaign).  In light of the information coming out from Wikileaks about monies being moved around to support a failed Democratic candidate for the Virginia Senate – amounting to close to three quarters of a million dollars – whose husband is the number two person in the FBI and had oversight responsibility into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email illegalities, D’Souza’s offense seems rather like small potatoes.

His fellow inmate was a con artist.  And as though it had been lifted directly from Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” if the truth about his con were uncovered and the facts revealed that his con was a sham, D’Souza asked, “How do you deal with that revelation?”  His answer was, “Lie, lie, and keep on lying.  Never admit to or give up the con.”

Hillary Clinton has lied and lied and lied and has never given up her con.  And that’s precisely why I cast my vote for Donald J. Trump.


Moving into my first apartment was a great thrill for me.  Finally, life in a college dormitory was at a merciful end.  No more waking up at three in the morning because a fellow student was inebriated and decided that it would be fun to pull the fire alarms that appeared in several places on each floor.  Of course, as exciting as this all was, there was a daunting challenge ahead.  Furnishing this new space.

Fortunately, as the organist at the local Roman Catholic church, I had connections.  A number of the parishioners were kind enough to lend or give me some of their old furniture until I could afford to upgrade.  One of these gifts was a double bed frame which came without either box spring or mattress.  So I bought a futon and laid it on the bare frame.  This proved moderately uncomfortable so I soon placed the futon on the floor where it belonged anyway.  But I did make the decision to buy several pillows, slip covers and pillow cases – leaving the purchase of sheets for a later date.

I returned home with my bulky pillow purchase, removed the contents from the large bags in which the store had placed them and began putting the slipcovers on the pillows when I made a discovery.  On both of the standard size pillows there was a tag which had been machine sewed into the welting.  The tag contained information on the content of the pillow, the content of the ticking, the place of manufacture (this was the early 70’s so it naturally said, “Made in the USA”), and then followed an ominous warning which read:  “DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”.

Reading this warning naturally caused me to wonder what law I would be breaking should I choose to disregard the warning and what was it intended to prevent from happening?  For the life of me, the only logical danger I could see might be that if I were not careful cutting it from the pillow I might accidentally incise into the pillow and expose the duck feathers that were inside.  Well, I decided not to chance bringing about the apocalypse so I slipped the pillow cover over the pillow and then put them into the cases, artfully arranging them on the futon.  Then I stood back and viewed my handiwork, looking forward to a comfortable night’s sleep.

Well, I did get a good night’s sleep that night and for the next several weeks.  But after not too long a while I found that those little tags were getting bunched up from the pressure of my head and were ratting up into annoying little wads.  So I made the major decision to get out my best scissors and eliminate them.  But I took precautions.

I still had not been able to afford window coverings in the living room so I decided that removing the tags there would merely invite government intrusion into my illicit operation.  We were all a little paranoid back then, thinking that the government was spying on us.  Little did we know what the 21st century would bring in that regard.  I retreated to my bedroom, excluded my Irish Setter, Finney from the room as I did not want him to be implicated should this matter ever come to trial.  And I lit a housewarming candle which was dedicated to St. Bonaventure and had been given to me by the parishioner who had donated the somewhat delapidated couch which was the focal (and only) seating in the living room.

I gave the candle a moment for the wick to burn down to the wax and searched my memory to recall what St. Bonaventure was the patron saint of – pardon the grammar. I wasn’t sure which saint was responsible for interceding for those of us who broke laws here on earth – but I was sure that St. Bonaventure would know the correct department to which he would forward my case.

With the skill and adeptness of a brain surgeon, I cut the tag from the first pillow.  I held the wadded up label in my left hand and looked around the room to see if there might suddenly be a water leak or any cracks in the ceiling, caused by my defiance of the regulations prohibiting what I had just done.  I breathed a sigh of relief, quickly grabbed the second pillow and dispatched the other label in the same way.  Still, no signs of structural damage to the apartment and no seismic shaking.

I quickly cut the two labels into a myriad of pieces and flushed them down the toilet in four separate batches over several days so that whoever was in charge of  investigating the removal of labels from pillows would find it difficult to trace this crime back to me.  I also put a portion of the two labels in two separate kitchen garbage bags so that even if the remainder of the labels were retrieved from the sanitation system and pieced back together, a portion of each label would be missing.  I was fairly comfortable that I had covered my tracks and was about to blow out my St. Bonaventure candle when suddenly it hit me.  My fingerprints were all over those two labels.  So I decided to make a novena to St. Bonaventure over the following eight days and I hoped that would save me from arrest.

Well, I ended my novena, much to my relief no one came knocking at my door nor was there any police tape indicating that my apartment was a crime scene.  But it was a full two months after my deed before I began to breathe a complete sigh of relief.  I had gotten away with it.  These days I think of this as my Hillary Clinton moment – but, of course, on a much smaller scale.

Being a curious sort, once my angst had abated, I thought about why this pillow regulation existed in the first place.  That seems like a rational question, don’t you think?  I mean, if there is a rule or a law, it should have some basis in common sense.  When I was in school it was forbidden for us students to run on the stairways.  The faculty explained that doing so could result in a student’s tripping and injuring her or himself. That made sense.  But the only thing that I could see as a result of the “Do Not Remove” tag was that it caused me, and I presume others, to have less than a restful sleep.

It took half a century for me finally to come up with the answer to that question.  These regulations are not intended for the most intelligent of our citizens but for our least bright.  And as sad as that admission may be, I do believe it is the truth.  Had I questioned that hypothesis before, it was completely confirmed by a shopping trip to Target a few days ago.

I had intended to order some Pupperoni for my companion dog, Gracie on the internet.  However, I received a new debit card from my bank and within a week it was already frozen because it had been “compromised.”  So much for the latest and greatest in technology.  As a result, I was low on this favorite treat of hers and I decided to go to Target to replenish our stock until I got my replacement card.  I would bite the bullet and pay a little more than I would have to spend from an internet provider.

Much to my surprise, Target was running a sale on Pupperoni.  The two pound price was reduced from $13.99 to $9.99.  And, by buying two packages, Target was offering a $5.00 gift card on a future purchase.  As I browsed through the numerous flavors that were available I noticed that the product was also offered in a 25 oz. size at the same $9.99 price – except that there was no gift card offer on the smaller size.  I wondered, why would anyone purchase the smaller sized product?  It wasn’t long until I had my answer.

As I was surveying the shelf, a woman I put in her middle thirties came up to the dog treat aisle with a rather full shopping cart.  She walked up to the Pupperoni area and grabbed a 25 oz. bag of the product.  Being the helpful person I try to be, I pointed out that if she purchased two of the two pound product, she would pay the same price as for her smaller package and get the $5.00 gift card as well.  Her response surprised me.

She asked, “How much does two pounds weigh?”

Fortunately, my right knee was paining me fiercely and my long journey through Target to the second to last aisle in the store where dog treats were housed did nothing to ameliorate that.  Otherwise, I would have impishly responded, “Well, it depends.  As you know, feathers weigh less than lead – so it sort of depends.”  But instead, I recovered from the stupidity of the statement to respond, “Two pounds.”

She then followed up with another question which also surprised me, “How many ounces are there in two pounds?”

Forgive me but if you’re over forty years old you probably knew the answer to that question when you were in second or third grade.  Maybe fourth – I’ve forgotten.  Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and answered, “Thirty two.”

Fortunately, mankind is blessed with having five senses, one of which is feeling.  A reasonable person doesn’t even need to know the answer to this shopper’s question.  One could pick up both similarly priced products and determine which is the heavier and therefore the better value.  I felt as though I were on an episode of Watter’s World on the O’Reilly Factor.  You probably know the segment where Jesse Watters interviews people who are so thoughtful that they think that George Hamilton is the president on the one dollar bill.

Despite the pain I was feeling in my knee, I couldn’t leave this alone.  Call it a weakness on my part.  So I followed up with the statement, “You know, you look like the kind of person who is probably voting for the same person as I am for president and that’s the reason I wanted to point out the better value so you could save some money.

This woman responded, “Oh, you’re voting for Hillary too?”

I answered her, “How could you think anything else?”

So she picked up her 25 oz. package of Pupperoni, put it in her cart, and wished me a good day.  I remember shaking my head, picking up my product and leaving the store after I had gone through the self-checkout and getting my gift card.

And so the lesson to be learned here is an old aphorism.

“There’s no fixing dumb.”

“Deus in adjutorium meum intende.”


History has given us our share of great speakers.  Pericles and Winston Churchill come to mind.  By almost nobody’s evaluation does Ms. Hillary Clinton make the list.  Well, we all have different gifts – and oratory, sadly, is not one of Ms. Clinton’s strong suits.  So being the fair person I am, I thought that it would save the delegates in Philadelphia and the viewing audience the experience of an extended period of her cacophony and  would offer her a ready-made speech which not only is short and to the point, but might help diffuse the moniker that Donald Trump has applied to her.

But before you see the speech, let me give you some background on Ms. Clinton.

As some of you may know, she started out as a Republican.  But the ethics that party officially endorsed proved to be too much of a hurdle and Ms. Clinton felt there would be greener pastures – fields of lettuce – in the other party.

As a newly minted Democrat, Ms. Clinton served on the commission that investigated the Watergate intrusion which ultimately brought down President Richard M. Nixon.  This proved to be a pivotal moment in Ms. Clinton’s political development because from it she learned that when you have power you can get away with almost anything – as long as you don’t get caught doing it – a lesson that Nixon learned the hard way.

Like Clinton, controversy dogged President Nixon throughout his political life.  Like Clinton, a large number of Americans either distrusted or disliked Nixon.  You be the judge of whether or not either of them deserves or deserved that opprobrium.

But in a karmic moment, I thought I would offer you one of President Nixon’s more famous speeches – which I believe that Ms. Clinton should appropriate and plagiarize in its entirety.  And it is mercifully brief.

Of course, the only problem with giving this speech is that she is a crook.  But that’s a small matter – and what difference does it really make now.



(Background:  Revolving spot lights and victorious loud music.  Trump enters to thunderous applause from the crowd).

He speaks:

Dear friends, fellow Republicans, fellow Americans:

This election is not about me.  This election is about you and your children and your grandchildren and it is about the greatest country that has ever been known on planet Earth in times ancient or modern. Our 240 year history as the guiding light based on rock solid principles of justice and freedom is now at risk because some of us have acquiesced to convenience and self-interest rather than truth and selflessness.  This election is, in fact, a time for deciding.  And what we have to decide is crystal clear.  Do we want to make America Great Again, not only for the benefit of our own citizens but for people who yearn for freedom and safety around the globe – or are we willing to sink into mediocrity putting both ourselves and others on the planet at risk and jeopardy?

Let me be honest – something you will hear infrequently from my prospective opponent, Ms. Clinton.  I never sought this office.  I never had political aspirations.  I loved doing what I have done all my life – building buildings and helping others by employing them.  But I decided to enter this fray for one reason and for one reason only.  The only way in which I was able to accomplish what I did was because I lived in a country which recognized and rewarded people who were willing to take a chance and to build something where there was nothing there before.  I lived in a country which allowed people to prosper based not on some assumed privilege of genetics but because they took the time, sweated the tears and refused to give up until the finished product was brought to fruition for all to marvel at.  I was only able to do what I did because I lived in the United States of America. And because of an accident of my birthplace I am both grateful and humbled.

Now over the course of the next few months, you may expect to hear the continuing drumbeat of the largely liberal media, lambasting me for this statement or that, for everything they consider a faux pas or a violation of their sacred rules of political correctness.  I will be portrayed as little more than a blow hard and a showman.  Well, I view this as a great departure from the status quo of , “Too much talk and not enough action” which is customarily what we hear from our elected officials.  And beause I am going to be honest to myself, a quality that may be sorely lacking in my opponent, I don’t anticipate changing.  But these charges reflect on style and are, at most, cosmetic.  They are distractions to which we will all be subjected because they divert from the real and only important issue, that being, who has the best interest of the country and its people rather than personal ambition and self-aggrandizement at heart?

We should expect that I will be unfavorably compared to my prospective opponent, Ms. Clinton for lacking in “experience.”  It is certainly an undeniable truth that I have never held elected office, let alone the most important one to which any American could aspire whereas Ms. Clinton has been a United States Senator and Secretary of State.  She certainly has more public service experience than I do.  But what has her experience done that has been to the benefit of the United States of America or its citizens?  To speak of experience without speaking of the results that experience has brought with it is as foolish as to extoll the extraordinary experience of a bank robber who has pulled off twenty successful heists.

Let me be clear that what I lack in political insight, I more than make up for, if I may say, in common sense and good judgment.  It doesn’t take a bureaucrat to realize that keeping, sending and receiving classified information on an illicit, non-secure personal server jeopardizes the people of this country and our remaining allies throughout the world.  That is something I would never do.  Furthermore, I would never lie, obfuscate, or evade with legalistic answers having done it should I ever have taken leave of my senses and actually committed those felonies.

Early in life, I realized that I was blessed to be a bit brighter than your average bear.  But as smart as I might have thought I was, I realized there are always people who are a little bit smarter – at least in some particular field of expertise.  If I have any genius at all, it is in admitting that there are people who know more than I on this subject or that.  And the true trick of becoming successful is in identifying those people and building a team with them as the keystones, relying on them for their exceptional insights and keen understanding of the area in which they are uniquely qualified.  The Trump/Pence team will do exactly that – and the result will be that we will again find our path that will lead to Making America Great Again.

But this can only occur if something happens on November 8, 2016 and the American people elect us to office.  And it would be foolish for me not to admit that this is an uphill battle.  Some political pundits have called this an election between whites and minorities.  Perhaps there is some truth in that – perhaps not.  But let’s take a moment to examine that issue.

First, to those American citizens who are of Hispanic background.  We thank you for your contributions to the American melting pot, for the cultural enrichments you have brought to the United States and for your diligence and strong work ethic.  You bided your time and waited with the longing shared by all immigrants to come to a land where the most you could achieve was how high you set your sights and how hard you were willing to work to achieve your goals.  You looked to find a new home, free of government oppression in a country where you could and should deserve the protection of the law just as every other citizen, irrespective of race, religion or national origin.  You came to America – the only country on earth that gladly welcomes one million newcomers a year.

But the safety and security that you sought is now threatened, not only for you but for every other American.  Porous borders which ask nothing of a person’s background have brought with them an onslaught of people, some of whom have dubious backgrounds and potentially dangerous futures.  I affirm my earliest comments in this campaign, to strengthen our borders, to deport those who break our laws and who are here illegally not for the security of just a particular segment of the American people but for all Americans, including our Hispanic friends and citizens.

To our black citizens – well, you may be the hardest nut to crack not only for me but for any Republican presidential candidate. For decades you have voted to elect Democrats to local, state and national office with a ninety to ninety-five percent solidarity – as though Democrats were the great emancipators and not Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president. The question is not how the Republican or Democrat parties view your lives.  It is how YOU view your lives.

Chicago, now becoming the murder capital of the country, has been run by Democrats since 1931- eighty-five years; Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967 – forty-nine years; Detroit has been run by Democrats since 1962 – fifty-four years; Philadelphia has been run by Democrats since 1952 – sixty-four years.  So to the black citizens in these and other American cities, I would ask these questions:

“Have the Democrats served your interests – or have they merely used you as a tool to elect themselves and serve their own?”

“Should your children have the same right to attend the schools of their choice, not some inner city institution where they will receive an inferior education just as Hillary Clinton was able to choose for her daughter – or are you willing to accept the status quo and settle for inferior education and inferior opportunity for your kids?”

“Are you content to live in overcrowded, run down public housing in neighborhoods where the gangs, rather than civil law, rule the streets or would you like to live in a community where going to the corner grocery store doesn’t involve risking your life?”

To our black friends and citizens, overwhelmingly a bastion for the Democrats, perhaps now is the time to rethink your options.  Because if nothing has changed in your neighborhoods for decades – in fact has gotten worse – why would you think that electing Hillary Clinton is going to do anything other than pound the final nail in your coffins?

The Republican party and I welcome all those black Americans into our cause who believe that life means more than just surviving.  It should mean having the opportunity for all people of dignity and conscience who want to do better for themselves and their children to be able to act on that opportunity.

If Governor Pence and I are found worthy of your vote and we are elected to the highest offices in the land, I give you my solemn word that you will have that chance – something that has been denied you for decades.

In closing, let me take a moment not only to thank my family for their support and patience during the amazingly difficult ordeal of the primary – but most especially, to thank the millions of voters who saw something in my candidacy and offered their enthusiastic support at the ballot boxes through out the land.  I cannot sufficiently express my heartfelt gratitude.  I am humbled by your confidence.

But this is only the beginning of an even more challenging climb that will culminate with the general election.  I do know that if the good men and women of this country see what is at stake and are willing to take a chance on a political outsider who has nothing but the interest of the country and it’s people at heart, than we will set ourselves firmly on the path and be prepared for the journey to Make America Great Again.




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