President Donald Trump’s Fabrications and Lies

On hearing Donald Trump say his dad was born in Germany, when in fact Fredrick Christ Trump took his first breath in the Bronx, the notion of enumerating the fabrications and bald-faced lies made by our forty-fifth President came to mind.

After cherry-picking a few notorious assertions: Obama tapped my phone.  I’m a stable genius.  Mexico will pay for “the wall.”  Attendance at my inauguration ranks among the largest in history.  Our healthcare plan (which even Mitch McConnell hasn’t heard of) is far superior to Obama-care, I Googled “donald trump’s lies and false statements.”  Over seventy hits!  This number and its implication for the state of mind they reflect, one with no seeming ethic or moral compass, is truly alarming!  No American President, not even Nixon, can claim such a record of madness and outright falsehoods.

The bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred, cage-fight of New York Real Estate has no place in the Oval Office.  Why, in the name of sanity and National Security, do our Legislative and Administrative Branches allow this mockery and hazard to continue?

President Donald John Trump is certifiably delusional and a clear and present danger to America and the world.  Forget collusion and conspiracy.  Forget impeachment.  It’s time for the Twenty-fifty Amendment!

Department of Peace

If I were President I’d have a Department of Peace.  The Secretary of Peace would be tasked with establishing a University of Peace and reinventing the Peace Corps.  America’s best and brightest could choose between taxpayer paid, advanced educations in War or Peace.

The University of Peace’s funding, facilitates and faculty would have the stature of West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force and Coast Guard Academies.  As a gesture and economic boost to the Heartland its campus would be smack at the geographic center of America, in a Kansas wheat field.  A traditional liberal arts and sciences curriculum would be augmented to focus on worldwide human health, welfare and Peace.  Each students would be proficient in the language and extensively training in a non-American culture.  With the pay and benefits equivalent Military Officers, graduates would commit to six years working for world peace in a restructured Peace Corps.

From $38,000 a Military Academy graduate second lieutenant’s salary can grow to upwards of $100,000 plus benefits.  Military enlisted personnel’s pay ranges from $20,000 to $39,000 plus benefits.  Peace Corps volunteers receive “housing and a living stipend” and $8000 after two years service.  That’s thirty-eight thousand to over $100,000 plus generous benefits for studying and conducting warfare versus three hots, a cot, a stipend and $8,000 working for human welfare and world peace.  What’s wrong with this picture!

It’s outrageous when, as the only option for an advanced education, a Topeka mechanic’s daughter or a widowed Cleveland teacher’s son risks her or his life as a Marines while the Bush twins and Mitt Romney’s five sons—count ‘em five!—get free top-drawer educations and skate on without ever peeking inside a Recruiter’s office.

With a seemingly inherently aggressive aspect of “human nature,” arguments for a strong “National Defense” are put forth, and given the nature and urgency of their task, reimbursing military personnel well makes sense.  At the same time, only an altruistic motivation seems appropriate remuneration for working to  improve human life.  After all, moral satisfaction is the missionary’s and human-rights worker’s  pay.  Even so, in a world where, from dishwashers and ditch diggers to CEO’s and baseball players, all who work are paid, why not those who work “doing good”?  If we spent half of what we do promoting human health and welfare maybe we could waste less preparing for and perpetrating war.

Pursuing my preposterous propositions, to be fair we should re-instigate a draft of men and women.  Bone spurs and cowardice notwithstanding exemptions should be held rigorously to those who physically or mentally cannot function.  Based on needs, draftees would be assigned by lottery to the Military or Peace Corps with equal pay and benefits.

I’ll never be President.  That’s sad, because I’m serious.

Unfair!

President Donald Trump tweets that Alec Baldwin mocking him on Saturday Night Live demonstrates “nothing less than unfair news coverage.”  “Unfair, waaa,  waaa,  waaa,” from a man who publicly and notoriously mocked a handicapped journalist.

YouTube lists “Donald Trump Mocking,” the Me Too Movement, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Senator Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Spanish Language and Puerto Rican Mayors.  A Google search turns up our President mocking Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, a Japanese Reporter, and CNN’s Jim Acosta.  This is the short list.

Besides mockery President Trump employs sarcasm and criticism to disrespect and belittle any who do not follow in lock-step behind his every whim and pronouncement or who just happens to wander into his line of ire: labeling a beauty pageant contestant “Miss Piggy,” taunting Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” erstwhile First Lady and Secretary of State as “Crooked Hillary,” decrying “Fake News” Networks, the Washington Post and York Times, insulting Senator Dianne Fienstein and Senator and War Hero John McCain.  Our Commander in Chief’s sarcasm and criticism extend even to arguing with experts such as the Joint Chiefs or telling heads of his National Security agencies “go back to school.”  Unfair Mr. President?

The only person who seems exempt to our President’s insults is Vladamir Putin!

In short, Donald Trump is a World-Champion mocker.  His brutish, sixth-grade bullying reflects an astonishing failure to appreciate others’ beliefs and feelings and to grasp fundamental principles of civil discourse by which democratic government operates.

How much mockery and mean-spirited debate do we hear in the Untied States Senate and Congress?  While a Senator or Representative may experience visceral disagreement with a colleague–usually across the aisle–her or his opinion and/or rebuttal are not personal but addressed to “Madam President,” “Mr. President,” “Madam Speaker,” “Mr. Speaker.”  References to a member from the loyal opposition take the form, “My friend from Oklahoma fails to appreciate . . . ”  This, Mr. President, not mockery, sarcasm, criticism and insult, is the mechanism of civil discourse whereby, for two and a half centuries, America’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has survived and thrived.  One of countless virtues that continue to Make America Great.

NRA

Gun legislation should require Wayne LaPierre and the NRA Board to view the crime scene photos from Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Las Vegas and the rest, and to visit the scenes of future gun massacres.  Macho, chest-thumping NRA members and assault weapon dealers should have the balls to do the same.

I Seen the Elephant

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So the break the hearts of kith and kin,
And the roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.
“The Men That Don’t Fit In”
Robert W. Service

August 17, 1896 at the mouth of Rabbit creek on the east bank of the Yukon River, Skookum Jim Mason, Tagish Charlie, George Carmack and Carmack’s Tagish wife Shaawa Tla’a “Kate”, discovered placer gold with nuggets the size and quantity of which were unimagined since James Marshall’s strike at Sutter’s mill half-a-century before!  July 14, 1897 the Steamer Portland docked at Seattle with its storied “Ton Of Gold!”  Like a tidal wave, news surged over the waterfront and into town.

Within weeks the shock-troops of what would grow to 100,000 dreamers scallywags and hucksters crowded the beach at Dyea, Alaska, for the 33 mile hike, lugging a ton of supplies each, over 3759 foot Chilkoot Pass, then cobble-together watercraft for the four hundred miles voyage across Lake Bennett and down the Yukon to Dawson and Eldorado!

By fall of 1898 the estimated 30,000 to 40,000  farmers, accountants, teachers, loggers, mechanics, gamblers and riffraff who actually made it to the gold field, men who heretofore didn’t know a gold pan from a bedpan, crowded cheek-by-jowl along the twenty-mile reach of Rabbit, now “Bonanza,” creek from the Yukon to King Solomon’s Dome.

It’s said less than a hundred, maybe less than fifty, of those who rushed to the Yukon came home with enough bullion for a 640 acre spread in Montana, to pay off a mortgage, see the kids through college, or retire early.  But in the end those not preserved in the arctic permafrost returned, empty pockets or with a rucksack of bullion, could boast or feel silent consolation just knowing, “I saw the elephant!”

One telling of a tale whose roots may be traced to Hannibal’s elephants, goes like this.  Somewhere like the pinewoods of Tennessee, an old man lived alone in the log house where he was born.  Apart from household necessities he owned a dozen hens, a contrary rooster, a sow, a boar, a milk cow, an aged gray mule, a small cart, and a plot where he tended potatoes, carrots, turnips, onion and cabbage.

The first days of September and April punctuated the old farmer’s year.  September first he butchered a hog, salt-cured hams, hocks, chops, and sow-belly, and hung them in the root cellar behind the house.  Then he harvested.  With a winter’s supply of potatoes, carrots, and onions in wooden crates beneath the pork, he piled the remainder into his cart.

The following morning after a semi-annual scrub in a washtub on the porch, the old man put on his clean flannel shirt and bib overalls.  Hitching up his mule, he climbed to the seat of the cart and urged the tired animal up rutted tracks to the county road, then five miles to town.  At Abner’s Mercantile he sold and traded carrots, potatoes, onions, corn and cabbage for flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, coffee, and tobacco.  On the April first town visit his few remaining dollars went for carrot and corn seed, onion and cabbage sets and tobacco.

Summers passed planting, watering, weeding, tending animals, gathering eggs, beheading and frying the occasional ill-fated hen, and on the back porch in his grandfather’s rocking chair, smoking his pipe and appraising his world.

For decades this routine passed with the certainty of the seasons, until one fateful April first town visit.  As he crossed the street from Abner’s, the usual brown paper bag in his arms, a bright new poster on the livery stable door caught his eye.  Deviating from a straight line path to his cart, the farmer walked to the stable and stared at the advertisement.  A beast, trunk raised, triangular multicolored scarf with gold tassel down its forehead dominated the scene.  Astride its neck, legs tucked behind cart-wheels size ears, sat a near-naked brown-skinned boy, a white towel wound around his head, holding a staff with a hooked end.  Behind and above the elephant, on the high seat over a cage a hostler held the lines to a draft team.  Below a Bengal tiger paced behind steel bars.  Wagons, clowns leaping and turning cartwheels, juggled balls and white pins, followed.

After Gawking at the apparition for a full two minutes, the old man’s attention settled to “August 1-3 – Admission $2” at the bottom with the realization that minutes before, for a tin of Prince Albert tobacco he laid his last twenty-five piece on  Abner’s counter.

As summer passed, hoeing corn, feeding hogs, gathering eggs, chopping wood, on the porch smoking, the vision of that great gray beast, trunk raised, brown-skinned boy astride its neck, returned to the his mind’s eye as clearly as chickens scratching in the yard, green leaves in the old oak, Morning-glory curling about the corner posts of his porch.  The fact that he didn’t possess a single dime, much less two dollars, plagued him.

At last, sitting and smoking on a calm July evening, a thought which had lurked at the back of the farmer’s mind demanded attention.  August first, a month before harvest.  With four more weeks his corn, potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage would grow by a full one-third.  Harvesting on August first meant sacrificing a third of his annual income.  Still, in an instant the obsession to see that elephant took control of old man’s homely inclination.

On the thirtieth day of July, after eggs and bacon, the farmer went to his garden, picked up his shovel, and started to dig.  The following morning, after a scrub on porch, dressed in clean shirt and overalls he hitched up the mule and urged him up the rutted tracks.

At the county road decades of experience had impressed on the old man prudence of stop, look, and listen.  A hundred paces to his right hawthorn hedge blocked his view.  A vehicle emerging around a curve could cover the distance before the mule completed a step, scattering animal, cart and teamster like a cannonball striking a woodpile.

For a minute the teamster remained perched on his cart-seat listening, waiting and watching.  There was a sound, but not the rush of rubber tires on gravel.  More like the plodding of hooves but deeper and slower than a draft team.  Then motion behind the hawthorn became a great gray head, swaying slowly back and forth, a trunk swinging side-to-side, a brown-skinned boy astride its neck!

Mouth agape, eyes large as quarter-dollars, the farmer watched the beast approach.  On stopping, the mule’s muzzle had routinely dropped to within inches of the grass beside the roadway.  When a huge gray hoof crushed the gravel two paces from his face, as if jabbed under the chin with a sharp stick the animal’s head jerked up.  With spirit and dexterity not exhibited in a decade the mule reared, yanked the reins from the teamster’s hands, pivoted, snapped both cart shafts, completed a hundred-and-eighty degree turn on his rear legs, and raced like a yearling toward home.

Lying beside his overturned cart while the elephant passed, the old man’s gaze remained fixed, its spine was tall as a ridgepole, body a quarter the size of his house, legs like maple trunks, feet big as water buckets.  Behind the elephant came cages with the tiger, monkeys, and a great brown bear.  Clowns and performers rode the roofs of  painted vans.  Wagons with poles, ropes, and mounds of canvas followed.

The farmer sat up beside his overturned cart and surveyed his harvest.  Small ears of corn and heads of cabbage lay hidden in the brambles and primrose beside the road.  Seeing potatoes, turnips and carrots crushed by hooves and wheels an astonishing thought arose in the old man’s mind, “It’s no matter.”  His gaze lifted to the last wagon disappearing over a hill, “For I seen the elephant.”

Of millions who heard of the Klondike Bonanza, a scant handful kissed girlfriends, wives, and mamas goodbye, took the gamble, headed North.  The complexity of human experience makes distinguishing those who rush after the elephant from we who stay home impossible.  And the spectrum of those who go ranges from prosaic and exotic.

While the rest of us put in thirty years at the mill or on the farm, assemble the cars, grow the corn, raise the beef, slaughter the hogs, drive the semis, mind the store, teach the children, sit at a desk, and take our two-week Yellowstone vacation, those “who don’t fit in,” risk life and fortune rushing off to the Yukon, climbing Everest, diving the Mariana Trench, driving at Indy, breaking the sound barrier, and squeezing into a Volkswagon-size capsule to be kicked by a hundred ton rocket to the Moon.

Elephant chasers represent two sides of a coin: invention and creation.  To find the Indian elephant in the East Christopher Columbus sailed West.  Henry Ford’s elephant was a motorcar.  For brothers working in a Dayton bicycle shop, a flying machine.  The Wizard of Menlo Pork chased a herd of elephants: electric light, a talking machine, a hundred more.  Richard Goddard’s elephant was a rocket into space.  For folks at NASA seeing the elephant was seeing Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon, Rovers creeping across Mars’s the red dirt.  Chasing his elephant, Albert Einstein rode a beam of light.

On the creative side, Shakespeare envisioned and created elephants with words, van Gough with paint on canvas.  Michelangelo painted and sculpted elephants, da Vinci imagined and created a catalog of elephants.  Mozart’s elephants were harmony and rhythm, symphony and opera.

It takes us all, the Doers and Dreamers.  Right?  While we who assemble the cars, build the houses, grow the wheat, teach the kids, drive the trucks, coach Little League, cook, wash dishes, and scrub the toilets, elephant chasers lead or pull us, some would say arguably, “forward.”  While the mass of us make day-to-day life possible a handful feel compelled to  see the elephant.

“A vision without a task is but a dream.  A task without a vision is drudgery.  A vision and a task is the hope of the world.”
Inscription of a church wall in Sussex England, c. 1730