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Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

Clinton just came out with her own book, titled What Happened. After reading Shattered I decided I don’t need to read Hillary’s book.

Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes are political writers who had deep access to all levels of the Clinton campaign. Through their insight, they have reconstructed the spirit of the campaign from before it actually began, through election night.

The insight is “shattering.” The campaign was never streamlined. Terrible infighting at the top levels caused the strategy to lack cohesiveness and resulted in a poorly defined message. Hillary never quite clarified why the people should elect her, other than she was, well, Hillary Clinton. Power struggles, lack of direction from the top, and poor use of funding based on analytics that was terribly flawed were the main causes of the eventual defeat.

The campaign didn’t know how close Trump was. Bill Clinton waved off the Virginia governor from coming to New York for the victory celebration immediately after Florida, one of the first states, was called for Trump.

Bill Clinton knew then.

I have always said that Trump did not win the election. Clinton lost it.

After reading Shattered, I am more convinced than ever that this was the case. The Democratic Party elevated an entitled, ego-driven politician, with a muddled message, with terrible baggage, who made very poor decisions along with way, and pegged her against the greatest wild card in American history, Donald Trump. The Democratic Party lost, Hillary will never be president, and the country is being damaged and looted by a self-serving populist con man.

Shattered is a hard book to read. If you are really into politics, if you want to work in a campaign, if that’s your career, this is a good book to internalize. It shows how politics works. I am more interested in the cliff notes, so from time to time the reading was too detailed and dry.

But  then, if you’re going to read one book about “what happened,” this is the book you should read.

 

“The country, we took it over in 20 trillion you know the last eight years they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion. Right? And yet we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months. In terms of value. So you can say in one sense, we are really increasing values and may be in a sense, we are reducing debt. We are very honored by it and very, very happy by what’s happening in Wall Street.”

Donald Trump in Hannity Interview

The self-proclaimed king of debt argues that since the stock market rose by $5 trillion, that somehow offsets the national debt.

The stock market enriches corporations and investors. The national debt is carried by the people. You can reduce debt by spending less, or raising taxes, neither of which Trump is suggesting. He is pounding on Obama for increasing the debt, yet his proposed tax cuts are bound to skyrocket the debt.

That’s just not how it works, Mr. President. Trying to dumb America down some more?

And Hannity, thanks for the “tough” question. Definitely dumbing down America.

 

Here is what Mike Pence posted today:

I left today’s Colts game because President Donald J. Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.

Image may contain: 9 people, people standing, crowd and stadium

According to a staffer, Pence had planned on leaving the game early all along. It turns out he had diverted his west coast swing just to attend the game and leave early. Trump admits he told Pence to do just that. The whole thing, including the picture above, was a publicity stunt.

So much for our government, the reality show.

Now my take on this NFL protest and all the fuss about it:

I agree, we should rally around our country and unify it. That starts with leadership. Our leaders should show us how it is done. We’re getting the opposite of such leadership with this administration.

When an NFL player kneels for the National Anthem, he is openly showing his protest and making a statement — free speech.

I do not believe for a minute that those players actually “disrespect the flag or the anthem.” The flag and the anthem are symbols of our nation, just like kneeling is a symbol of protest. The players are protesting exactly BECAUSE they feel there is something wrong with the unity in our nation. Trump and Pence have it backwards.

And then, let me rant about disrespecting the flag. This is disrespecting the flag:

  • Wearing a flag bikini
  • Wearing any flag clothing
  • Wrapping yourself in the flag at any public event
  • Flying the flag on a pickup truck next to the Confederate Flag
  • Using the flag as a costume of any type
  • Flying the Confederate Flag

The showmen running our country are using cheap propaganda techniques to distract us from their self-enrichment schemes by vilifying sports figures and appealing to our sense of patriotism using twisted messages and outright lies.

That, my friends, is the disgrace here.

I ask our so-called leaders to show us what it means to respect our country, its laws, its citizens, their rights, and the country’s symbols.

 

 

 

Picture Credit – reddit – link to access

We have been conditioned to think of the Titanic as a – well – titanic ship. Here is a scaled view showing the Titanic in front of a modern cruise ship.

“Four score and seven years ago…”

“Ask not what your country can do for you…”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

Those are two of the most memorable phrases from presidential speeches, and they have entered into the very fabric of our nation’s history.

President Obama was an excellent orator, and I believe that was one of the major contributors to his meteoric rise. Critics spent years ridiculing him for reading from a teleprompter. I don’t agree. I have personally given many a speech in my life, never with a teleprompter, and never with a deck of cards or sheet of paper. I know a bit about what it takes to give a powerful speech, and I know that Obama is one of the outstanding orators of our time. Yes, he needs a teleprompter because there are not enough hours in the day for him to memorize all these speeches. But it was always obvious to me that he knew what he was talking out. When Obama spoke, he spoke from within, and the teleprompter was there to make sure he didn’t miss his points. It never felt like Obama was reading.

President Trump, in contrast, is a completely inadequate speaker. He did not get elected for his oratorical skills. Trump cannot even form a coherent sentence on his own, let alone speak. He spouts trite soundbites, and he repeats them for effect. When Trump speaks from the teleprompter, he sounds wooden, like he is reading his material.

Trump is so bad, that the media praise him when he simply reads, in his wooden, stilted way, a speech without going off script. He is so transparent that we know immediately when he is off script, since he sprinkles in Trumpisms like “believe me” or “that I can tell you” which no speech writer would ever insert. Trump does not speak any better than an average fifth-grader even when he reads.

The bar of presidential speeches is now so low that we praise the president when he reads a statement and stays on track, like he did in response to the Las Vegas shooting. In the future, our textbook examples of presidential speeches will highlight:

“Four score and seven years ago…”

“Ask not what your country can do for you…”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

“That I can tell you….”

One of my friends (JCV) inserted a little slip of paper into the gift envelope with this inscription:

illi non minus ac tibi
pectore uritur intimo
flamma, sed penite magis.

Catullus, Wedding Song

I must admit, my Latin was nowhere near up to the task. But here is a translation:

A flame burns no less ardently in his innermost heart than in yours, but secretly, even more so.

Here is Tom Price, the authority on reckless spending, who has just shown us how, given enough backing by a corrupt administration, spending other people’s money on your own comfort is easy.

And Trump started throwing him under the bus, since Price is not really part of the billionaire’s club he likes to hang out with. Price is rich, but not quite rich enough to own his own jet. So Trump didn’t “like the optics.”

I paid over $30,000 in federal taxes last year. Just enough for one of Price’s day trips to have lunch with his son in Oklahoma.

Are we about done with the notion that someone who has spent his life ripping other people off and getting very rich doing it understands how the common people live?

Seriously, are we still convinced that this gang of corrupt con men are in it for the good of the American people?

It’s all about them. In a few years we’ll read the tell-all books and shudder. We have been conned big time.

 

 

The King and His People

Interesting. The president actually calls federal government relief workers “my people.” If I were a government employee, I would be so deeply insulted. It’s not like I was working for the Trump organization. He thinks the government is “his” now. What does he think he is, king?

New Words – Take Two

Some time ago I listed a number of new words brought into the common vocabulary directly or indirectly by our highly educated and articulate president. Now I am pleased to add a new one:

Dotard – a person in a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness

This was the word the Korean dictator used to describe the U.S. president in a recent exchange of barbs. I always considered my own English vocabulary fairly large, but I must admit that I didn’t know the word dotard until a Korean brought it to my attention. I am adding it to my list of new words.

  • Dotard
  • Gaslighting
  • Narcissism
  • Bigly
  • Emoluments
  • Terrific
  • Nepotism
  • Alternative Facts
  • Breitbart
  • Deplorable

There are people who praise Trump.

Even now.

I don’t get it.

These people are serious.

North Korea has a population of 25,337,000 million people. Of those, 25,336,999 are hardworking, malnourished, completely impoverished and constantly living if fear. Many are political prisoners. One is a dictator.

When the president of the United States says that he thinks we should completely destroy North Korea, what does he mean? Kill 25,336,999 innocent people who have suffered from lack and abuse all their lives?

Could somebody define what “completely destroy North Korea” means?

Last Sunday Trisha and I got married. Our guests were close family and friends. The instructions for gifts were “the four As:”

  • Art
  • Alcohol
  • Adventure
  • Activity

Soon they turned into five As, when some friends asked us about our favorite charity they could donate to on our behalf. So officially, it was now the five As:

  • Art
  • Alcohol
  • Adventure
  • Activity
  • Africa

For Art: We both love art. Our house is full of original art I made, and people have given us, to the point where there are dozens of unframed paintings stacked in storage. Art, and anything related to art, is always an exciting gift for us.

For Alcohol: We are not drinkers at all. Trisha loves her wine, and she’ll go to a local winery for a tasting, but I suspect more for the social adventure with a friend than for the wine itself. As my daughter pointed out in her wedding speech, “Dad used to drink one beer a year…” and it made it sound like it’s a lot more now. But not really. I have a rule that I can have one drink a day. I do enjoy some exotic stuff, like Cognac, or Absinthe. One friend asked in advance if coffee fit under alcohol, and I said Yes!

For Adventure: We like to do things out of the ordinary. We recently took a ride around San Diego in a biplane. Your get the idea.

For Activity: Take us out to dinner, get us to eat something, do something, or learn something.

For Africa: Send money to Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia. Trisha recently was in Botswana and connected with many good people who work for the conservation of endangered wildlife.

I must say that the five As ( Art-Alcohol-Adventure-Activity-Africa ) was a resounding success. But one fried (JW) took it over the top and I could not help feature his gift here:

He said that since the gift had to start with A, it was a pretty easy choice:

  • Absinthe
  • Applejack
  • Aquavit
  • Arak Sannine
  • Armagnac
  • Amontillado

…where the latter came with the book by Edgar Allan Poe, the Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales, where the inscription by JW pointed us to page 162, where the story The Cask of Amontillado started.

Try to even find a place where they sell all these exotic examples of fire water!

Now I have a lifetime to spend, one glass a day, working my way through the As.

Then come the Bs.

Oh, married life!

 

Revenger is a science fiction space opera that you can’t take too seriously.

There are swaggering captains on ships with sails, raucous crews of misfits who chase treasures. The world is full of islands with treasures, and if a captain has the right maps, or secret information, he can sail to those islands and get the loot. But there are others that will be on his tail and try to take the prize from him. And there are pirates, who board ships, kill everyone and steal the goods. And that is the story. It could have taken place in the Caribbean in the 1600s, but this story takes place millions, or possibly billions of years in the future.

The Congregation is a swarm of “worlds” circling the Old Sun. Worlds are little planetoids, just a few leagues across. It’s not clear what a league is, but I am guessing it’s around a mile. Inside of the planetoids are “swallowers” which I assume to be miniature black holes that generate just enough gravity for the surfaces to be around one gee. There are also spindle worlds, tube worlds and various other exotic ones. Out of 50 million objects in the Congregation, there are about 20,000 inhabited worlds.

And there are “baubles” which are uninhabited worlds with treasure hidden on them, by whom is not clear. And there are space ships driven by ion drives near objects and light sails in open space. The ion drives are like the outboard motors on our sail ships.

Adrana and Fura Ness are two young girls who run away from home and their overbearing father, sign on with a ship, and very soon realize they are in way over their heads. And so the swashbuckling adventure starts.

I realized pretty soon that this is not a science fiction novel, but a pirate novel, masquerading as a science fiction novel. But I did enjoy it sufficiently to keep reading.

A movie review by my reader and occasional guest blogger, Jean Claude Volgo:

The film Agora deals with the life and times of Hypatia of Alexandria, arguably the most illustrious woman in the history of Greek science.  The scant historical accounts of her life dwell on the gruesome death she is reported to have suffered in the hands of a Christian mob.  Yet this part of her story (tragic as it is) is less compelling than her reputation as a leading mathematician and astronomer at the twilight of ancient pagan culture.

A beacon of the Hellenistic Age, Alexandria in the late C4th was becoming the epicenter of escalating social tensions between various religious factions vying for political power. The authority of an impartial Roman governor was under constant challenge by Jews and Christians.  Yet in spite of the political turmoil, Greek science flourished in the Library of Alexandria under the mathematician, Theon.  Hypatia, his daughter, would have been well versed in Geometry and Astronomy under her father’s tutelage.  To understand how she became memorialized as a Martyr of Science, we need to step back to an earlier period.

Greek Astronomy was based on a geostatic and geocentric cosmology.  A complex system of interlocking circles had been proposed by Ptolemy (c. 150 AD) to explain what seemed to be erratic planetary orbits.  The system was designed to preserve the Greek geometric ideal of  uniform circular motion.  Although generally accepted, this astronomical model was weighed down by its unwieldy complexity.  Could Hypatia have raised doubts about the Ptolemaic system?  This is the intriguing question underlying a pivotal theme in Agora. The film speculates that Hypatia toyed with a simpler heliocentric model and may have even proposed elliptic orbits for the planets (a theory in keeping with her own publicized study on conic sections).  Furthermore, we know that she was schooled in Neoplatonism, which assigned a prominent role to the Sun in a universe guided by intelligent design.  In short,  could Hypatia — an avowed Neoplatonist — have been perplexed by the incongruity between Ptolemy’s inelegant theory and her own ideal image of a heliocentric system?

Agora is a courageous film: intellectually, for its bold imaginative leap; visually, for the meticulous depiction of ancient multicultural Alexandria with its famed Library.  Rachel Weisz is an intrepid Hypatia, unmoved by ardent suitors, and defying a superstitious mob. The film dramatizes the clash between pagans, Christians, and Jews.  Amenábar deserves credit for his unapologetic exposure of the savage horde that brought down the Library of Alexandria and extinguished the life of one of its most celebrated luminaries.

Agora broke box office records in Spain, but failed to get wide distribution in the USA.

 

Almost every person in the world has seen a picture of the Grand Canyon. Pictures do not do it justice. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, and you walk up to the rim, it takes your breath away. The Grand Canyon is much larger, much more awesome, than anyone could possibly imagine and expect.

So it is with a total solar eclipse. Yesterday I experienced my first one. I have seen countless photographs, by amateurs, and by NASA professionals. I had first-hand reports from my friend and eclipse chaser M.B., and I knew intellectually what to expect.

Being there and having it happen was like the Grand Canyon to the power of three. It was the most awe-inspiring natural event I have ever experienced (the births of my children excluded).

Trisha and I went to the small town of Idaho Falls, a community of 56,000 people in the southeastern plains of Idaho. We went down to the banks of the Snake River, where there are falls and the river rushes. The area is a manicured park, with lots of grass, trees, benches, pathways, all right downtown. There were probably a thousand people there in the area, but it was not crowded at all.

We arrived shortly after “first contact” when the moon’s disk had just started to obscure the edge of the sun. You can’t see it, unless you have special eclipse glasses, but we had those, so we could easily monitor the progress. People set up their cameras, frolicked in the park, and slowly the anticipation built.

It started getting interesting in the last 20 minutes. While it was hot under the sun at 11:00am, it rapidly started getting cooler. The sun became a sliver, but it was still way too bright to see without the glasses. Then the light changed to an eerie blue and silver tint, somewhat like dusk, but different altogether. Shadows didn’t look right. It got chilly.

In the last three minutes things started happening fast. It was cold. It was dusk. The stars overhead became visible. The city streetlights came on.

And then, from one moment to the next, it was dark. We could look up and the sun was gone. With bare eyes we saw a dark black disk were the sun was, and a bright corona all around it. The sky was dark. The stars were out. Only a light ring around the entire horizon lit up the world. And the temperature dropped significantly. I shivered. It was outright cold in the middle of summer at noon.

I took a picture or two of the moon/sun/corona with my iPhone, but what came out was insignificant. The eclipse looks huge in the sky with bare eyes, but pictures are disappointing.

I took a panoramic video. At the end you can see Trisha waving at me. You can see her face lit up from the dusky glow of the horizon only. That’s how dark it was.

All round us people were cheering and howling, and so was I. Unable to stop the emotional outbursts, I found that a big portion of the experience is sharing it with the crowds around me. Everyone there, young and old, was unable to contain their emotions. The rawness of the experience, the depth, came through.

And then, just a couple of minutes later, a pearl of light shot out and the brightness of the sun was back. We had to use the glasses again. Within a minute, it started getting warmer, the eerie shadows came back for a while – and then, quickly, my normal world returned.

But I was a different person. I had seen an eclipse. It was too short. I wanted another one. How dare they be so rare!

The next eclipse in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024, and I will be there. There is no way I will miss that. It will arch up from Texas to Maine, and Chautauqua, one of my favorite places in New York, will be right in the path. And I will be there.

Then, the next coast to coast eclipse will be in 2045. I will be 89 years old. I will be there too.

I have seen a total eclipse, and things are different now.

 

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