Thursday, December 29, 2016


After Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, the stock market started climbing. Presumably this was based on the premise that taxes would be lowered on business and the wealthy. Given the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, this seems likely to happen. However, not everyone is optimistic about the economic outlook over the next four years.

This is partly because we can’t take Mr. Trump at his word. He often does not seem to comprehend the complexities of the issues he deals with. He frequently walks back statements he has made or says they were merely jokes. Sometimes he outright lies and continues to insist of the veracity of those lies long after they have been exposed as falsehoods.

Also Republicans are generally regarded as friendly to business while Democrats are thought of as hostile to business, but recently the economy has flourished under Democratic administrations and floundered while the Republicans had the White House. President Clinton handed President Bush a tidy surplus in the federal treasury. Bush promptly squandered it by lowering taxes on the well-to-do and starting a misguided war in Iraq. Under the Bush administration we saw the greatest economic struggle since the Great Depression. President Obama took the mess that Bush had handed him and turned it around, pulling us out of the Great Recession and handing the economy to President Trump in a much better shape than it was when he received it. Do you have any confidence in Donald Trump’s ability to handle it with care?

Conservatives believe that the marketplace will be able to resolve any issues it faces. If you just let things go, the law of supply and demand will make everything turn out right in the end. They resent liberal meddling, making up rules and regulations that hinder business’s ability to function without interference.

And yet that is just what Donald Trump did when he stepped into a business decision made by Carrier in Indiana. The company was going to shutter two plants and send them to Mexico. Trump talked them into keeping one of those plants open, partly by having his running mate, who happened to be governor of Indiana, grant the company some $7 million in tax credits. Trump also threatened to impose a heavy tariff on any material coming from that Mexican plant into the United States. It is almost like having the central government decided how many pairs of shoes were to be made, as was done during the Soviet government in Russia

Can the President step in, in the decision any business makes if he does not agree with it? Is the governor of every state involved going to grant tax credits to companies that say they’re going to move out of the country? What will stop manufacturers from threatening to move out of the country unless they get significant tax breaks? What will prevent the companies that keep manufacturing here from replacing huge portions of their work force with automation?

Mr. Trump blames China and Mexico for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States. He threatens to tear up international trade agreements and raise trade barriers in the form of high tariffs against countries he deems our adversaries in trade. However, those jobs are gone forever. More jobs have been lost to automation than to companies sending them overseas. What is needed is not a trade war but education to prepare American workers for the new world that is emerging through automation, computers, and the internet.

If America raises import duties on goods from other countries, they will retaliate by doing the same to us. Such warfare will destroy the delicate symbiosis that keeps the world economy in balance. The real estate bubble that burst in 2008 threw the economy off balance not only in this country but world-wide. The Great Depression of the 1930s was felt in every country. In warfare no one wins. Everyone loses. This is true in economic war as well.

A recent issue of The Week featured Trump on the cover as a bull in the china shop. It was an apt comparison.

Friday, December 9, 2016


During the primary campaign an 18-year-old college student named Lauren Batchelder told candidate Donald Trump that she didn’t think that he was “a friend to women.” The next day on Twitter called Batchelder “an arrogant young woman” and speculated that might have been a plant for a rival campaign.

After that she started getting threatening and sexual phone calls. One said, “I wish I could punch you in the face.” Another told her, “Watch your back, punk.”

A few days ago Chuck Jones, leader of the United Steel Workers at Carrier in Indianapolis, said that Trump had lied to Carrier workers. Trump then tweeted that Jones had done a terrible job representing the workers. If the union was any good, Trump said, they would have kept the jobs in the country.

Jones then started getting threatening phone calls. One told him, “You better keep your eye on your kids.” Another said, “We know what car you drive.”

Then the CEO of Boeing was quoted as questioning Trump’s policy on trade. Trump responded with a tweet that said that the cost of building Air Force One, which was being done by Boeing, had spiraled out of control. He quoted a cost of $4 billion, which was far from true. He also threatened to cancel the contract with Boeing.

The next morning Boeing stocks fell nearly $2 a share.

What do you call a government whose citizens fear to criticize its leaders?   

Monday, October 3, 2016


For many people the appeal of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate is his success as a businessman.  This “successful businessman” had four business bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992. His leaked income tax form shows that he lost almost $1 billion in 1995. He lost all that money because of mismanagement of his Atlantic City casinos and bad investments in an airline and the Plaza Hotel in New York.

People who worked for him lost their jobs. Scores of contractors were never paid for their work. Investors in Trump’s enterprises saw their shares go from $35.50 in value to 17 cents. Yet Trump continued to enjoy a lavish lifestyle and was able to use the tax loss to shield himself from paying taxes for years to come.

Trump said an ability to avoid paying taxes makes him smart. The two stooges, Rudy and Chris, both referred to Donald’s tax avoidance as “genius.” If losing $915 million is genius, I’d hate to see how much money stupidity can lose.

Donald Trump has called lots of people losers, but he is way ahead of them as the biggest loser of them all.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Since the federal budget for NASA has declined, American billionaires have entered the space race. Led by Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic have been  testing rockets and preparing a manned trip to Mars. One failed exploit was an attempt by Mark Zuckerberg of FaceBook to launch a satellite that would have provided internet service to the developing world.

Can you think of any famous billionaires who have not been mentioned? Of course, there is Donald Trump, who has a hand in dozens of enterprises. A Leisure Times staff member investigated the possibility of a Donald Trump space endeavor. It has been kept on the hush-hush, but The Donald does have a rocket being prepared for a trip to distant planets.

“I didn’t want to say anything about it earlier,” Trump said, “because I don’t like to draw attention to myself, but I can tell you, I will be the best space master that God ever created.”

It seems that the entrepreneur has assembled a group of wealthy businessmen to finance the operation. Although he will head the organization, none of his own money will be involved. He didn’t have a lot of information about the fine points, saying, “It’s called management.”

“In a risky undertaking,” the real estate tycoon continued, “it’s better to use other people’s money. That way, if the thing blows up, I won’t be out any of my own money. In fact I would still come out ahead, because I would pay myself a nice salary as CEO of the project.”

We were impressed with the brilliance of Trump’s plan. “I’ve got a very good brain,” he said, tapping himself on the forehead. “After all, I went to Wharton.”

Saturday, September 10, 2016


There are unwritten rules of conduct between civilized people. When we ignore these rules, we do so at the risk of descending into anarchy. Several politicians have destroyed what should be the decorum and gravitas of presidential politics and brought it down to the level of crude, middle school name calling.

This descent into chaos is not limited to presidential politics. Maine Governor Paul LePage compared the IRS to the Gestapo and said that President Obama “hates white people.” When the assistant senate majority leader Troy Jackson said the governor was “delusional,” LePage replied that Jackson was “the first to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.” When the governor thought that Democratic Representative Drew Gattine had called him a racist, he left a message on Gattine’s answer machine. The message contained these words: “you little son of a bitch, socialist, c*ck sucker.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is another politician who finds it easy to come up with nasty words to express his thoughts. When he was mayor of Davao City, an Australian woman was gang-raped and murdered. Duterte made a joke about it. More recently, when he was scheduled to meet President Obama at the ASEAN conference, Duterte made a reference to Obama as a son of a bitch. He later apologized and said he hadn’t meant it personally. Nevertheless, Obama cancelled the meeting.

The outrageous things that Donald Trump has said are too numerous to mention, but here is a sampling: He has insulted woman many times as well as Muslims and Mexicans. He has used offensive language to describe all of his opponents in the Republican primary elections as well as his opponent in the general election. He called Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg an incompetent judge. He mocked disabled reporter Serge Kavaleski. Trump belittled John McCain’s military service and attacked the parents of a fallen American soldier.

So these three men have shown themselves to be crude, uncivilized bullies. Does that mean that they are unfit for high office? Yes, it does, and not only because they lack the dignity to represent the constituency they serve. If they cannot or will not follow the rules of civil intercourse, then they cannot be trusted to follow the larger rules which they must. Otherwise the result is anarchy.

Last year Governor LePage proposed an amendment to the constitution, which would abolish the state income tax. The House of Representative voted 82-64 against the amendment. In a snit because his proposal had been voted down, the governor for a while vetoed all bills, regardless of their merit, if they had been sponsored by Democrats.

Last year Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves was hired by hired by
Goodwill-Hinckley as president of the charitable organization that works with at-risk youth. Because of the governor’s dislike of the Eves, he threatened to withhold $500,000 in state funding if they hired Eves. The intimidated board of Goodwill-Hinckley withdrew the job offer.

At the very least these actions are abuse of power or failure to perform his duty as governor of the state.

Since Duterte became president hundreds of people suspected of being drug dealers or even drug users have been killed. This is not new. For several years, While Duterte  was mayor of Daveo City, there were over a thousand extra-judicial killings of people believed to be involved in drug traffic. According to the State Department, the U. S. government has “solid evidence that Duterte was responsible for these extrajudicial killings.”

So here is a man who “Gets things done.” But at what cost? People suspected of crime were killed without benefit of a trial by jury. Where is the protection to ordinary citizens in this kind of government?

Donald Trump has never served in elective office, but he has shown his true colors in many ways. He has already told us what he would do if he had a chance.

In the face of Russian intransigence, Trump would have us renege on our pledge to NATO allies unless they begin paying more for the maintenance of NATO forces. After that our word would mean nothing.

He would reduce the national debt by getting the people we owe to accept pennies on the dollar. It worked for him in his many bankruptcies. Paul Krugman said that Trump wants to run the U S Treasury like a falling Atlantic City casino. This action would destroy the confidence in American currency that was established by Alexander Hamilton.

He would use nukes against our enemies. During his security briefing, he asked three times whey we couldn’t use our nuclear bombs. Trump would be willing to launch a nuclear holocaust, which could mean the end of humanity on earth.

He would subject suspected terrorists to waterboarding and worse. John McCain, who was tortured while he was a POW, said that torturing prisoners was not what this country is about.

Finally Donald Trump would get revenge on terrorists by assassinating their families. Here is still another example of his willingness to commit illegal acts to get what he wants.

Donald Trump’s unwillingness or inability to follow the rules of civil discourse are indications of his unwillingness to follow the laws of the land or international law. To put in his hands the power of the presidency would be the first step toward a descent into anarchy.


Sunday, July 31, 2016


A lot of people don’t trust Hillary, but we can all trust Donald Trump. For example, we can trust him to tell outrageous lies. He said that he objected to the dates of the proposed debates with Hillary because the dates conflicted with major league football games. He said that the NFL had written to him objecting to the proposed dates because of these conflicts.

However, the NFL stated they had written no such letter to Trump!

Since the beginning of his campaign he has made such disgraceful, untruthful claims. Furthermore, when confronted with his falsehoods, he has continued to insist that they are true, like the claim that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were cheering after 9/11.

He has to know that he would be caught out in his claim about the letter from the NFL. Why would he even say such things? It seems to be a cynical view that despite the obviously lies, some of his followers would continue to believe him.

It is clear, of course, why he does not want to debate Hillary. He doesn’t have a chance against her. She will destroy him. Her insight into what is going on in the world and her logic against his uninformed rant. It would be no contest. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Donald Trump still refuses to release his income taxes, unlike every presidential candidate going back several decades. What doesn’t he want us to see? It can’t be good. It must be something that he is ashamed of.

Writing in the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza offers several possibilities.

1. Maybe Trump has major investments in Russia. That would explain his admiration for Vladimir Putin and his willingness to let NATO fall by the wayside. No wonder Russia is hacking Democratic computers and doing what it can to help Trump win the election.

2. He is being audited. Evidently he is. That didn’t stop Richard Nixon from releasing his taxes during an audit.

3. Maybe he didn’t pay any taxes. During the 1970s he did not pay any taxes for two years in a row. I haven’t paid income taxes since I retired from teaching 11 years ago because I don’t make enough money to be taxed on my income. But I am not pretending to be a crackerjack businessman.

4. Maybe he has ties to the mob. Ted Cruz brought that up during the primary campaign (Nice guy!) I don’t really think that’s the reason Trump is hiding whatever his income taxes would reveal. But his secrecy makes you wonder.

5. He donates very little money to charity. That is certainly credible. He has shown himself to be a cheapskate on several occasions.

6. He’s not as rich as he says. That’s another credible charge. While he obviously has a lot of money, it might not be as much as he says. To reveal that his statements about the size of his fortune is another empty boast, would damage his ego.

Mark Cuban suggested that possibly Trumps income taxes would reveal that he paid more in taxes that Trump made. It could be.

Anyway it comes down to this: Donald Trump is applying for the job of President of the United States. Since he has no public service experience, his major qualification, according to him, is his experience as a highly successful businessman. His income tax should support his assertion. If he is unwilling to share that with the public, we should not vote for him.

If you or I apply for a job and have a blank spot on our resume, say from 2009-2010, the employer would naturally wonder what we were doing during those years. If we refused to tell, there is no way we would get the job. Donald Trump is refusing to let us know how his business has been doing in the last few years. We would have to be really stupid to take his word for his business success in those years. We would not hire anyone for a sensitive position if that person refused to reveal what he was doing for two years. We should not hire anyone who claims to be qualified by virtue of his successful business experience if that person refuses to show us evidence of that experience.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


No one knows what will happen at the GOP Convention in Cleveland, but whatever it is, it probably won’t be pretty. Former Republican Presidents and Presidential candidates have announced that they won’t be there. Donald Trump is even having trouble getting prominent Republicans to speak at the event.

In one of the strangest developments in this Strangest Show on Earth, rumors are circulating that the Donald will ask former Presidential candidate Dr. Carl Perrin to speak in Cleveland. What! Perrin is a life-long Democrat. How can anyone think that he would even consider speaking at the Republican convention, especially one that is poised to nominate Donald Trump?

We must emphasize that this is only rumor, a rumor that we have not been able to verify from other sources. According to this rumor, Trump is really desperate to get speakers for the big event, and although Perrin is not nationally known, within his small circle, a lot of people know him. Further, according to the story, the retired English professor will be able to speak on any topic he wants. The Trump people are even suggesting that Perrin will be encouraged to talk about cheap beer.

You can see the dilemma that puts Perrin in. People who know him are aware of much he likes to talk about cheap beer. As one close associate said, “He won’t shut up about cheap beer.” Will this life-long Democrat go to the convention in Cleveland and witness the possible nomination of the least-qualified presidential candidate ever in order to get a chance to talk to the country about cheap beer?

Only time will tell.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016



 Things are getting really dicey. Just a couple of weeks to the Republican 
Convention, and huge numbers of GOP stalwarts are doing all they can to prevent Donald Trump from getting the nomination. The Bushes are not going to the convention. George Will has dropped out of the Republican Party. The Koch brothers are not contributing to Trump's campaign. Republican senators are saying that they might vote for Hillary! Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are criticizing some of The Donald's most outrageous Statements. Mitch McConnell refused to say whether Trump was qualified to be President. Polls show Hillary 12 points ahead of Donald.
    Meanwhile everything is not all sweetness and light with the Democrats. A tell-all book by a former Secret Serviceman is letting secrets out of the bag. According to this book, Hillary once threw a lamp at Bill. Pictures of the broken lamp are offered as proof. The Clinton White House was a wild, swinging times, filled with cocaine sniffing orgies. Oh My!
    Former Presidential candidate Carl Perrin has not escaped from all this calumny. Stories that came out during his 2008 campaign are rising to the surface again. According to these stories, he used federal funds to travel to Maine to see a woman young enough to be his daughter. This story was completely insidious because on the surface it is true, but the insinuation is not. The "federal funds" that Perrin used were his Social Security check. The woman "young enough to be his daughter" was in fact his daughter. Why would stories like this come out now? Perrin wasn't even in this election campaign. He found that all that politicking was interfering with his nap time. However, Hillary is looking for a vice presidential candidate to run with her. Naturally the former English professor's name came up.
Why would anyone object to Perrin's being named to the Democratic ticket? Two theories come up. Some politicians object to Perrin not because they have anything against him, but because they are promoting some other candidate for the job. Still others say that they object to Perrin because he is not qualified for the job! 
    When he was running for office in 2008, he didn't have a fully-planned platform, these people say. The only thing he promised was cheap beer. Nothing about taxes, defense, health care. Cheap beer is important, but there are other things that should concern the President.

    Perrin isn’t even sure he wants the job. Why should he settle for being vice president? He is already president of the LV Computer Club

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


In December 2012, in one of the worst cases of mass murder, Adam Lanza killed his mother and then went to an elementary school and shot 26 first graders and six adults. Lanza had suffered with serious mental health problems through his life.
In June  2015 Dylann Storm Roof, a white man, went to a black church in Charleston, SC, and pretended to pray with the people there for a while and then shot and killed nine church members. He said that he hoped his action would start a race war.
A month later Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazees, a naturalized American citizen who had graduated from high school and college in Tennessee, went to two military recruiting centers in Chattanooga, TN, and shot five military recruiters to death and wounded three more.
That October Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer shot and killed eight of his fellow students and his teacher to death at Umpqua Community College. He had struggled with mental issues since his teenage years.
The next month Robert Lewis Dear went to a Planned Parenthood Office in Colorado Springs, CO, where he shot twelve people, including a police officer. Three of his victims died from the gunshot wounds. Recently he was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial for his crimes.
In December of 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook, born in America and working for the county Department of Public Health, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, went to a holiday party in San Bernadino, CA, where his coworkers were still celebrating, and killed 14 and wounded 22.
Then on June 12, 2016 Noor Mateen, also American born, went to a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, where he used an assault rifle to slaughter 49 people and wound over 50 more. He had worked as a security guard, so he must have been investigated before he was hired. Nevertheless, he was an unstable person. His ex-wife stated that Mateen flew into rages and beat her. People who knew him said he was not very religious, yet as he began his assault, he called 911, and claimed allegiance to ISIS. His father said that Mateen had once seen two men kissing in the street, and flew into a rage because of the sight. Yet he had often frequented the club himself in the past. There is some suggestion that part of Mateen’s anger came from conflict over his own sexual orientation.
What is the common denominator in these and similar terrible acts of carnage in recent years? You can’t say it is the Muslim religion. Three of the men were Muslims, yet they were all American citizens, two of them born in this country. All three of them seemed to have fit in well with American culture. Abdulazees and Farook were college graduates.
Is the denominator mental health? Dear, Harper-Mercer, and Lanza all had severe mental health problems. Anyone who contemplates such horrific crimes as these of course has serious mental problems. Despite his problems, Harper-Mercer was able to enlist in the army, although he did not make it through basic training. Despite Mateen’s tendency to violence, he was able to function on his job and legally to buy an assault weapon. You can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of mentally unstable people if the weapons are available at all. People can sometimes function pretty well and then suddenly flip out. As Richard Cohen said, in the Washington Post, “We can’t even keep nuts from running for President.” So trying to keep weapons of mass destruction from mentally unstable people but making them available for others will not work.
What all these events have in common is the ease with which unstable people are able to purchase guns. In the events that created the most the shooters were armed with assault rifles.  We need to keep these weapons from the hands of EVERYONE. No civilian needs an AK-15. These guns are made to kill a large number of people at once. We don’t need an AK-15 for hunting. We don’t need one for home protection. These are military rifles. They have no place in the hands of individuals.
 Don’t say that we need to have such weapons to protect ourselves from the federal government who might take our guns away. Paranoia is a mental illness. Do we want people to be able to have machine guns, mortars and tanks as well?
The only way to keep assault rifles out of the hands of mentally unstable people is to keep them out of the hands of all civilians. Don’t say that if we ban assault rifles from ordinary people, only outlaws will have these guns. Don’t say that the government is trying to take away your guns. It is only trying to take away the kind of guns that no civilian should have any use for.
During prohibition gangsters used tommy guns to fight rival gangs and law enforcement officers. Finally the federal government solved the problem by levying a huge tax on these weapons and sawed-off shotguns.   One gangster, Jack Miller, a bank robber, was caught with a sawed-off shotgun. He was charged with having an unregistered weapon, essentially a tax evasion. The case went to the Supreme Court, which decided:
In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ’shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.
These weapons are no longer in use. There is no reason that the same thing can’t be done with assault rifles.
Except that the National Rifle Association will fight to defeat the re-election of any member of Congress who votes for reasonable gun laws. Haven’t we been intimidated by the NRA long enough? Maybe it is time that sane people mount a campaign to fight the re-election of members of Congress who refuse to create laws that protect our citizens from the crazies who use assault rifles to murder our citizens.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


If you or I were involved in a law suit and we declared that the judge in our case couldn’t rule fairly because of his ethnic background, wouldn’t we be subject to a ruling of contempt of court? To refer to an American-born judge as a Mexican because his parents were from Mexico is just another outrageous statement from Donald Trump. To charge that the judge’s ethnic background would prevent him from ruling fairly in a case against Trump is particularly egregious. Trump is charging that Curiel’s ethnic background prevents him from performing his sworn duty.

The fact that Trump made these charges outside of the courtroom doesn’t make any difference. They show disrespect for the court. It is still contempt of court, and Trump should be made to pay for his outlandish charges, just as you or I would have to.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016


A few weeks ago I saw a Facebook posting with pictures from the late sixties or early seventies. On one side was Bernie Sanders being dragged away by the police. Opposite was Donald Trump in uniform. Not the uniform of the United States military but the uniform of the military prep school he attended. The message evidently was supposed to show Sanders as a trouble maker, a rabble rouser who was in trouble with the law while Trump was a law-abiding citizen, being educated to defend the United States militarily.

Somehow that was not the message I got. Bernie Sanders was doing what he has always done and continues to do: he was fighting against injustice wherever he saw it.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, was posturing. Even though he went to a military prep school and later would cite that as a key to his insight into the military, in fact Trump never served in the military. He was able to avoid the draft during the war in Vietnam because he had “a foot thing.”

Further, he has never supported the military. He put down John McCain because he had been captured, as though that made him less of a man. McCain didn’t exactly surrender on the battle front. He was shot out of the sky. He endured five years of captivity and torture and refused to go home ahead of his comrades when he had an opportunity.

Trump showed how loyal he was to veterans when he held an event to raise funds for veterans’ organizations. Except he didn’t turn the funds over to those groups until he was shamed into it four months later by The Washington Post.

Bernie Sanders is a man who stands up for what he believes in. Donald Trump is an empty suit, an embarrassment.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Donald Trump is scared, really scared. How else do you explain his actions not only during the campaign but especially in the last few weeks? From the beginning he has done things that no politician has ever done before. And he has got away with it! He attacked his rivals for the nomination, not their ideas, but their personal traits. He alienated large groups of people: women, veterans, Hispanics. The Republican establishment hates him because of his attacks on Republicans as well as for what he is doing to the GOP.

But now the nomination is all but in hand. This would be the time for Trump to start mending fences, making nice with the groups that he has been insulting, to unite the Republican Party behind him. But he’s doing just the opposite of that. At a rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he lashed out at the governor of the state, Susana Martinez. What did Trump have against her? She did not show up for his rally. Martinez is not only the governor of New Mexico; she is also head of the Republican Governors’ Association, a group that can do a lot to turn out the vote for the GOP. In one fell sweep the Donald further alienated women, Hispanics, and the Republican hierarchy.

But he didn’t stop there. Later he went on to attack another female Republican governor, Nikki Haley of South Carolina because she endorsed Marco Rubio. While he was at it, called Jeb Bush low energy and called Mitt Romney a choker “who walks like a penguin.” Their sins? They failed to endorse the Donald. One major Republican says he doesn’t fear Trump losing; he fears that Trump will win and an indelible scar on the GOP.

Talk of pushing someone else into the nomination through a brokered convention seems to have died out. There is talk of a third party candidate who would take some votes from Trump. Recent surveys have shown Donald and Hillary neck and neck. As horrible as the thought is, it seems possible that Trump could be the next president. And it is possible that no one is more frightened by that thought than Trump himself.

According to speculation that is going around, the idea of running for the presidency grew out of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2011. At that occasion Trump was the butt of jokes by President Obama and comedian Seth Meyers. A man who combines an over-inflated ego with deep personal insecurity, Trump, according to the speculation, decided to get revenge by running for the presidency.

At first Trump never thought he would actually win; he just wanted to show those professional politicians a thing or two. Doing everything “wrong” at a time when the public was sick to death of the politicians, he probably surprised himself as much as anyone as he won primary after primary.

But now the day of reckoning is approaching. What if he is actually elected? What would he do then? Even he must have some inkling that he is no way capable of doing the job. And worse: the president make $400,000 a year. That would be a cut in pay for the tycoon. His ego wouldn’t allow that.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


I am scared. I mean really scared. A few weeks ago my wife and I got an offer to lower our automobile insurance by up to 30 percent. All we had to do was put a tracker under the dashboard in our car. The tracker would record our driving habits and send them to the insurance company. We soon learned that we both had a bad habit: Jack rabbit starts (me), hard braking (Janet). So we’re trying to rein in those habits. In the meantime someone told Janet that the tracker was another means of keeping us under surveillance.

That got me to thinking about the other ways that outsiders can look into our private affairs. The first thing that comes to mind is EZ Pass. With that device, the government can tell what time you went through each toll booth. They can even estimate your speed. A long time ago my father got a speeding ticket when he went from one toll booth to another in less time than he would have been able to if he didn’t go over the speed limit.

A few years ago I took some pictures of Janet in Maine with my cell phone. Those pictures are stamped with the date and place, so they show that Janet was in Freeport, Maine, on a certain date. There are still other ways to follow my movements. If I make a cell phone call, investigators can pinpoint my location through triangulating the cell phone towers that carry my call.

And then there is all that stuff on the internet. Google, Facebook, et al, know where I browsed, how long I stayed on particular sites, what I ordered over the internet. We have no privacy anymore.

I am not particularly paranoid, so why am I worried? I am worried that a year from now, Donald Trump could be President of the United States. What has that got to do with being tracked on the internet? Just this: I would not want to live in a country under President Trump. As Trump started pulling ahead of his rivals, I began speculating whether I could claim dual citizenship and move to Canada. (My parents were still Canadian citizens when I was born.) I realize, however, that at my age it would be a difficult adjustment for me to move to a country that is even colder than Maine in winter. I need a Plan B.

The prospect of the general election is frightening. The best thing you can say about a Hillary-Donald match-up is, “I admit my candidate isn’t very good, but at least he/she would not be as bad as yours.”

If The Donald becomes president, and it becomes too difficult for me to move to Canada, I would at least like to move to a cave somewhere where no one could find me. But with all that tracking, geopositioning, internet cookies, etc., there is no way I could I could disappear from view.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


It’s disappearing. That’s what. The middle class, as defined by families with an annual income from $35,000 to $100,000, is dwindling. In 1967, 53 percent on the American population fit into this category. By 2013 only 43 percent were in the middle income group.

It’s pretty common knowledge how this has come about. Good paying factory jobs have gone overseas or have been taken over by robots in this country. People with limited education have been particularly hard hit by this change in the economy. It has become difficult for them to find jobs, and when they are hired, the pay is much lower than it would have been in factory jobs in the past.

Younger people graduating from college face their own set of problems. They are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, and it is not easy for them to find good jobs. Many young men and women in their late twenties, instead of setting out on their own, are moving back in with their parents.

The middle class is hurting. Not only has the quality of their lives been diminished, but the length of life itself is getting shorter. The life expectancy of Americans grew dramatically over the 20th century. It continues to grow in the current century—except for middle-aged whites. The people in this group are dying at a faster rate through an increase in suicides and problems related to substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of opioids. This is particularly true of people who had not gone to college.

For many in this group, the American Dream is a fantasy. Some bankers became obscenely rich through weird schemes which involved giving mortgages to people who would not be able make the payments. Then the bottom fell out as the Great Recession hit. Middle class people lost their jobs, their homes, and their health insurance, which was tied to those jobs. They looked to government for help, but they didn’t get it. Instead of working together, Congress and the White House were at odds. The Senate majority leader said that his main goal was to see that Obama would be a one-term president.

It should be no surprise then that embittered members of the middle class do not expect any help from government and reach to outsiders who can shake things up and get government working again. The problem is, these outsiders will not be able to keep the promises they have been making. Even though Bernie Sanders has been in the United States Senate for a long time, he is an outsider. He calls himself a Democratic Socialist. He was not even a member of the Democratic Party until he decided to run for the presidency. His proposals sound good to many people: Put tighter controls on the banks, make the super rich pay more taxes. Let all Americans who want to go to college. The difficulty is, these things don’t come about by fiat. They require the cooperation with Congress. How do you think the current Congress would respond to Bernie’s proposals?

Donald Trump may be intelligent (as he keeps telling people), but he is profoundly ignorant. As the owner of a vast real estate empire, he is not even answerable to a corporate board. It’s his money, and he can do whatever he wants with it. The President of the United States does not have that freedom. He is answerable to Congress, the Supreme Court, and the people of the United States. If the American people are unhappy with the president, he can be impeached.

Not only does Trump fail to recognize the limits of the president’s ability, he (Trump) doesn’t even seem to have a clear vision of how to accomplish any of the thing he calls for or to recognize what damage some of his proposals would do to the position of the United States in the world.

Since the malaise of the middle class arose from the elimination of good paying factory jobs, both Trump and Sanders have plans to fix it. Trump would start imposing high tariffs on goods imported from China. The problem with that is that China and other countries would retaliate by charging high tariffs on goods from the United States. It would lead to world-wide economic turmoil. In the end, it would do more harm than good to the American economy.

Sanders would stop international trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership., which he believe would result in sending more American jobs overseas.

The problem with both their views is that they want to take America back to some point in the past. Trump wants to “Make America Great Again.” And you can’t go back. The past that we remember with such nostalgia is gone. The world has been changed profoundly in the last quarter century by computers. Instead of looking toward the past, we need to look to the future where more computer-related jobs will be created. In the transition to that future, we need to help the middle class.

Think of the projects created by Franklin Roosevelt to help the country climb out of the Great Depression. These projects put millions of people to work and helped improve the country’s infrastructure. Under Eisenhower people were put to work creating America’s superhighways. The infrastructure today is in bad shape. Many of the country’s bridges are unsafe. We need to fix them, and we need to create jobs for the millions of people who have fallen out of the middle class.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

An Interview with former Presidential Candidate Carl Perrin

Yes, I have a major regret, said Perrin, getting right to the point. I should have taken the campaign more seriously from the beginning. The problem with this presidential election is that there have been no good candidates on either side. Trump is a liar and a bully. He lacks the gravitas and the temperament to be president. He has no policy plans except his ego. In the beginning a lot of people thought that his campaign was a joke, but no one is laughing now.  It seems that he most likely will capture the Republican nomination.

Cruz is one of the most disliked politicians ever, and no one hates him more than his Republican colleagues. The former Republican Speaker of the House called Cruz a miserable son of a bitch, the devil in the flesh. Cruz has taken the unusual step of naming a running mate even though he cannot gain the nomination unless there is a brokered convention. His running mate, Carly Fiorina, isn’t much better liked than the Texas Senator. As CEO of HP computer company, she ran the business almost into the ground until she was booted. Before she was booted out, she cut thousands of jobs from HP.

Ohio governor John Kasich doesn’t seem too bad. He has political experience as congressman and governor. He is well liked in the Buckeye State. He looks especially good in comparison to Trump and Cruz. But he has garnered only a handful of delegates, compared to his two rivals, who each have hundreds.

Really, things don’t look much better on the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders has attracted an enthusiastic following. A lot of people like his ideas about taking more from the rich and creating benefits like free college for everyone. The problem is it seems more and more unlikely that he would ever be able to bring these ideas to fruition. Further, in interviews with the New York Post, he seemed unprepared, uninformed even about issues relating to the big banks that he would like to bring down.

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the most competent and most qualified to do the job. However, while she is not as disliked at Trump or Cruz, a lot of people dislike her. She admits that she is not a natural politician, but she has a politician’s manner of evading painful questions. A lot of people just don’t trust her. Barack Obama was held in check by a Republican Congress who did everything they could to abort anything he tried. Congress seemed to have no regard to what would be good for the country. If Obama was for it, they would block it. If she is elected, Hillary can expect the same lack of cooperation from Republicans in Congress.

The upshot is, no matter which of these characters become the next president, a lot of people are going to be unhappy. Perrin feels sorry for the next president, no matter who it is. The country is going to be in a mess, trying to recover from the wounds that have been opened in this brutal election.

While Perrin regrets not getting into this year’s presidential campaign, there still is hope. At 90 Perrin will still be young enough to run for the presidency in 2020. After the disaster that the next president is sure to face, the voters of America will be happy to see a candidate who will bring common sense and mature judgment to the political scene.


Friday, January 15, 2016

singular they

Singular "they," the gender-neutral pronoun, has been named the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society this month. For example, "If anyone has a better idea, they’re welcome to try it."

It has been a long time since I was in high school, but it’s not true that dinosaurs were still around during my teenage years. However, I was taught to say, "If anyone has a better idea, he is welcome to try it." Such locutions, I admit, are now almost as out of date as tyrannosaurus rex.

Constructions like, "Everyone has to do their best for the team to win," started popping up on my students’ papers in the seventies. I used gallons of red ink correcting these sentences. I told my students that while such sentences might be  politically correct, they were grammatically incorrect, because “everyone” is singular, and “their” is plural. Like many of the causes I have defended in my lifetime, this was a losing battle.

By the eighties and nineties, I knew I was going to lose, and I admitted that to my students, but I continued to urge them not to commit sins of grammar in writing. Then I found myself once in a while saying things like, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion." When such sentences popped out of my mouth, I would say “oops,” and hope the grammar police had not heard me.

Now the American Dialect Society says it’s all right to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun. The Washington Post has adopted it in their style guide. I guess it’s okay to say, "Everyone looked out for their own interests." It’s okay, but I don’t think it will sound right to me. Everyone will do whatever they want anyway.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Help Inhofe Make America Great Again

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, one of the intellectual heavyweights of the Republican Party, walked onto the Senate floor last February, carrying a snowball. With this act he brilliantly proved that global warming is just another liberal hoax.

He would like to repeat the snowball act this year, but he hasn’t been able to find any snow around Washington. You have to be sorry for the poor guy. Like Prufrock, Inhofe has seen the moment of his greatness flicker.

You can help this poor man. If there is any snow where you are, take a few moments to make a snowball and mail it to him. Help Inhofe (and Trump) make America Great again.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Natural-born Citizen

Let’s all pile on Ted Cruz. Jon McCain, Ann Coulter, and of course, the Donald have all begun to question whether Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States because he was born in Canada, although his parents were naturalized American citizens.

Former presidential candidate Dr. Carl Perrin is not offended by everyone ganging up on Cruz. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. However, Perrin is worried. If Ted cannot claim American citizenship by virtue of being born to American citizens, what does that mean for Perrin? Carl Perrin is the mirror image of Ted Cruz. He was born in Massachusetts to Canadian citizens. If—Heaven forbid!—Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, Perrin wants at least the comfort of knowing he would be welcomed as a citizen if he chose to move to Canada.