06 April 2017


In his article “What I Have In Common With Trump” in this week’s New Yorker (April 3, 2017) Ethan Kuperberg in his somewhat lengthy list writes, “I have been scared every day since November 8, 2016.” Election Day. When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States by a minority of the electorate, many of whom I would concur with Hillary Clinton are ‘deplorables.’ Today in the New York Times Nicholas Kristof excuses his urging to the ‘liberal’ population to be kind to Trump. He is wrong for so many reasons: I would never acquiesce to pat a rabid animal on the head to prevent being bitten. And then on page 15 (this is not important enough news for the front page!) an article appears concerning Trump’s accusation-- without any evidence whatsoever that Susan Rice had committed a crime. I may be mistaken, but I believe that the statement is if not illegal but certainly inappropriate. And that this vomit derives from the President makes the accusation even more heinous—it spews from the mouth of a man who apparently has no respect for the law. Or common decency but who has sworn to uphold that law.
     And so I am a bit appalled at Kristof’s offer of some olive branch to a man whose bellicosity and philandering and lie-telling occurs on a daily basis, and whose pathological narcissism leads him to only see the world from his deranged perspective and endangers myself, my children, and the children of the world. I am frightened every moment of every day; I recoil is terror when I read the papers and consider the future, and I am sickened by the repulsive rhetoric emanating from a soiled, besmirched and besmirching White House. If there is evil in the world, it today resides there no less than in Syria or Sudan or Somalia.
     This is an angry post, but it is inspired by great fear.  

26 March 2017

Of All You Learned . . .

Last evening, for the fourth time in thirty years I attended a John McCutcheon concert. I had first heard him sing and play at a Clearwater Festival in the late 1980s. As I recalled, he then shared the stage with Guy Carawan, at that time one of the leading hammer dulcimer player in the country, and in addition to his own hammer dulcimer McCutcheon also played his idiosyncratic mix of topical and what would be called folk songs. (Dylan has said that a song to which one can attach an author is not a ‘folk song!’ Folk songs come out of the folk, and they are almost always anonymous and the songs never remain the same depending, of course, on the time and place.) Last night McCutcheon sang “This Land is Your Land” with a newly composed verse: and though we know who wrote it the song is certainly nothing but embedded in the folk, Dylan notwithstanding, or even Dylan in agreement. McCutcheon ended the concert with his own musical rendition of an unfinished Woody Guthrie song. Woody Guthrie’s songs already exist as part of folk music because he borrowed verses and melodies from the folk, even as Richard Fariña’s “Birmingham Sunday,” about the church bombing in September, 1963 causing the deaths of four young girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair, yet retained a verse (and melody) from the original folk song “The False Bride” (or “I Once Loved a Lass”) that transformed for me Fariña’s composition into something timeless and timely.
All men in yon forest they asked of me,
"How many strawberries grow in the salt sea?"
And I answered them with a tear in my eye,
"How many ships sail in the forest.”
     Of course, there are no answers to these questions that might satisfy any rationality. But as I sat happily and listened to McCutcheon tell stories and sing his songs, I knew for tragic certainty that a sensibility such as his would never be invited or understood into the White House under Trump and his band of thieves and cutthroats. Dylan played there, as did Joan Baez! Joe Hill. Woody Guthrie. The Ludlow mine massacre. The tragedy in Calumet, Michigan. The subjects of “Deportees” and “Pastures of Plenty” would mean nothing to the consciousness of mostly white men of obscene wealth. What could this wonderful chorus of McCutcheon’s “The Kindergarten Wall” mean to them?
Of all you learned, remember this the best
Don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess
Take a nap every day, wash before you eat
Hold hands, stick together, look before you cross the street.
And remember the seed in a little paper cup
First the roots go down and then the plant goes up!
     Delight and joy lived in that room last evening and I sat amongst family, but out here in the world still resides Trump and his incompetence, stupidity and callous disregard for the rule of law, for civility and for compassion. And the Republicans in Congress are a despicable lot who belong in one of the lower levels of Dante’s Inferno. But I doubt that they have read that book.

22 March 2017

A Craven Press

I remember the front page of the New York Times for November 23, 1963 announcing the assassination of President Kennedy. The banner headline ran across entire page in bold, dark print. I remember the front page of the New York Times the day in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States.  NIXON RESIGNS! I remember the front page head line in the New York Post on October 30, 1975: FOR TO CITY: DROP DEAD. And the front page of the Times on September 12, 2001: U.S. ATTACKED splashed boldly in large type across the entire page.
     I blame the press for their cowardly behavior during the 2016 Presidential campaign and their casual and humorous treatment of Donald Trump’s candidacy for President. He was treated as a joke (which he is) but never quite called to account for the repulsive emanations that spilled from his ugly mind. And today I look at the newspapers and I wonder why splashed across the tops in bold strong type no headline reads, TRUMP LIES! Why shouting out from the front pages aren’t headlines addressing possible treasonous behavior by members of the Trump administration? Why aren’t the newspapers reporting the accruing number of lawsuits lodged against Trump for dubious business practices and obvious conflict of interest issues involving this corrupt and incompetent President of the United States? Why don’t the newspapers more forcefully wonder why the citizens of the United States are paying for offices occupied by the President’s son-in-law and daughter, the latter whose business interests represent already an unethical association with the White House. How much of her time in her White House Office will be spent on her own business dealings?
Where are the newspapers? How craven their posture seems to me. Where rests the conscience of the press?