April 29, 2016

100 Words -- Such Are Promises II

Buzzfeed has a story about how Donald Trump made a bunch of promises to win a bid to convert Washington’s Old Post Office to a hotel and then broke every one of them. As a businessman, Trump says and does whatever it takes to get the deal done. As a candidate, Trump says whatever it is he thinks people want to hear right then. As president, Trump won’t be negotiating deals to build hotels. He will be pledging “our lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred honor” to other governments in a world with a very long memory for broken promises.

100 Words --Such Are Promises

Bernie Sanders says he’ll support Hillary Clinton if she makes his agenda her agenda. It brings to mind a line from “The Boxer”: “I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles.” If I thought it mattered I’d be offended, but we’re talking about a few lines in the platform, a document that exists in part to throw sops to losing candidates. (“Such are promises.”) All this is beside the point. Congress is broken. Until Congress is fixed, there is little a president can do except nibble around the edges of problems with executive orders. Just ask President Obama.

April 18, 2016

100 Words -- Playing A Mind Game

A subplot in a book I’m reading involves aging Nazis dreaming of restoring the Third Reich. I wondered, as a Vietnam vet, what would I plot to bring back? The fifties? That wouldn’t be so bad, but I’m thinking the sixties’ counterculture. It was more than sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. We were going to change the world. We took on the establishment, took it to the streets, and ended up at dysfunction junction. Wait, that wasn’t the plan. Our actions bred reaction. The country marched right, left … right! So what would be different this time around? Love is the answer.

April 16, 2016

100 Words -- The New Revolution

I have a few problems with the new revolution. Using tax policy to punish Wall Street -- like relying on gamblers and smokers to fund schools -- is short-sighted. Promising future students a free college education short-changes the millions of graduates struggling to repay their loans. Bernie does get one thing right. Government should be addressing economic inequality. The Reagan Revolution said government couldn’t solve our problems, tax cuts would create a rising tide that lifted all boats. That revolution left behind those too poor or too marginalized to get on the boat in the first place. It’s time to address that.

April 15, 2016

100 Words -- A Question of Judgment

So what’ll it be, Bernie’s revolution or Hillary’s take-what’s-there politics? Really, you need both. It takes major energy to push the system to revolutionary change. But the revolution must thread the needle of the political system it scorns. The last president to combine the revolutionary’s sense of urgency with the political skills to get things done was Lyndon Johnson. He bludgeoned a sometimes reluctant Congress into transforming the country: voting rights, Medicare, the War on Poverty, the Clean Air Act -- all on his watch. He also made one huge error in judgment: Vietnam. The lessons of history are never simple.

April 6, 2016

100 Words -- Trump Versus Sanders

It’s hard to ignore the similarities between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Both candidates appeal to mostly white, mostly angry voters. Neither feels any great allegiance to their adopted parties. Both have big ideas (build a wall, free college) that are improbable to the point of being dishonest with voters. Neither man can provide credible specifics on implementing key campaign promises. Both rely on unlikely and unwilling revenue sources to pay for it all. (When pushed, both promise they’ll figure it out once they are elected.) Both are admittedly weak on foreign policy. It’s really amazing, huge you might say.

April 2, 2016

Geese In Pond

West Sands, St. Andrews

Isle of May

My son and I visited Scotland a few years back. He was there to give a talk at St. Andrews University, while I was hoping to golf at St. Andrews. One of the days was spent visiting the Isle of May, located about 5 miles off the coast in the Firth of Forth. We rode a bus to Anstruther, a fishing village north of St. Andrews. There, we boarded a small boat equipped to hold about 50 or so tourists. The round trip is about five hours.

The island is home to huge colonies of puffins and a bewildering array of other sea birds. You feel very much a visitor in their world. The guano-covered rocks are volcanic, carved into steep gullies and caves by millennia of tides and storms. Foot trails crisscross the island, which is just over a mile long and about a third of a mile wide.

The attached photo shows the Main Light, built in 1816 to warn ships away from the island. In 1886 a foghorn was installed, the air supplied by massive compressors that drove the air to the horn through a mile of pipe. Certainly, if you find yourself in the area, it’s a fascinating way to spend a day, but you best have well-developed sea legs, as I found out to my dismay on the return trip.]