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  • Donald Trump for President

    • Posted on Aug 02, 2015
    Here's this morning's Courier column--my take on Donald Trump and why he 
    would make a great president.  

    Satire, anyone? 

     Universal agreement is as rare as humility these days, but lately seems to have emerged from pundits and politicians alike.   All agree: Trump will never serve as our 45th President. 

     No Air Force Trump/One.  No White House with “TRUMP” emblazoned above it in 20-foot neon letters.   No parade of Trump-ettes as First Ladies.   

     Even the GOP, not known for its rational and level-headed candidates, agrees that their party is not suicidal enough to nominate him.  

     He’s never held office, he has no real political allies, he doesn’t seem to know how to delegate, his power stems from wealth, not respect, they cluck.   

     Picky, picky, picky.  

     Come on, people.   Trump would make a great American President.  

     Why?  Let me count the ways: 

    (1) He’s the loudest candidate ever.  He doesn’t talk so much as bellow. A typical American, let’s face it.  Or rather, stereotypical. 

     Travelers in every country I’ve visited, and I’ve visited plenty, comment on how Americans raise noise levels.  I’ve noticed it myself. Enter around a quiet bistro in Paris, a sedate pub in London, a street corner in Munich, and if there’s a group of people shouting, laughing, hollering, and goofing off—who will they be?  Invariably, Americans. 

    We’re the world’s noisiest people, and Trump’s the loudest of all.  We deserve a President who’s more like us than we are.   

    (2) He shoots from the hip, or in his case, the lip.  Again, that’s America at its core:  shoot first, ask questions later.  

     The cowboy mentality is the most beloved and most common image of America we project, from the Marlboro man to Billy the Kid to Jesse James—outlaws and rogues all, and folk heroes to boot.  All action, no reflection.   

    They’re cousins to gangsters, another American type who provoke the world’s envy and anxiety—an unbeatable combination when it comes to grabbing headlines.  That’s where Trump usually resides.   

     A gangster cowboy President.  Yeeehaah.  

    (3) He’s richer than Croesus, the ancient billionaire Greek king who was eventually burned alive. 

     Never mind, that won’t happen to President Trump.  Americans admire wealth, they seek it, they consider themselves millionaires-in-waiting.  
    They’re sure that really smart people who work hard get rich. The richer they get, the smarter and more hard-working they must be.  Hence, they love Trump, and a Trump presidency would represent American wealth-worshippers perfectly.   

     How much is Trump worth?  Depends on who’s counting.  Trump says at least ten billion, whereas real accountants say fewer than three billion.  That’s still real wealth, no matter who’s counting.   

    (4) He answers to no one, thanks to his billions.    As his campaign proves, he can say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whomever he wants, and not worry about going broke or to jail.  Billionaires live in an ego bubble where everyone tells them what they want to hear.  Those who question him get bullied off his stage, immediately, with name-calling and semi-false assertions spoken as full truth.    

     We’d have a true bully-pulpit President.    

    (5) Finally, and the best reason:  Full-bore, all-out pride.  Donald Trump, without doubt, is probably the proudest Presidential candidate in history.  He trumpets his wealth, his accomplishments, his intelligence, his certainty that he’s right.   

     What a relief and contrast he presents to Obama, the diffident consensus-seeker. 
    That alone will make him attractive to Obama haters.  

     Of course some will object that pride means hubris, and that’s the deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Pooh-pooh. 

     Pride is what made America exceptional, and Trump’s pride will infuse America with a powerful national ego, a new insistence that we’re the best, the most, the richest, the smartest, the utter center of the universe.  

     If the GOP wakes up and actually nominates him, he’d likely win based on pride alone.   

     President Trump would then make America grate again.  
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  • Will Change Come to Charleston?

    • Posted on Jul 05, 2015
    Today's Courier Column on what we observed the day of Clementa Pinckney's funeral in Charleston. Charleston came to a halt for several hours that day (June 26) as the whole world watched a national mourning ceremony for nine victims slain purely because they were African-Americans.  The Bad Old Days of the apartheid South had reared its murderous head.  
    Here's King Street, Charleston's main shopping street looking northwest that morning. Normally it would be packed with traffic and shoppers: 


    And here's Mother Emanuel church, where Clementa Pinckney was pastor.  This is about as close as we could get, given the crowd and the blocked-off street:  

    The South Carolina legislature will meet in special session next week, hopefully 
    to start a series of actions that might lead to real dialog and change, beginning with removing that Confederate battle flag on the statehouse grounds.  

    So there we were June 17, waiting to meet relatives in Charleston when our niece texted that eight people had been shot within walking distance, and the killer was on the run. 

    Needless to say, we dropped everything to watch Charleston TV news reports. 
    A decade ago, my wife and I chose to vacation in Charleston for two months a year.  The “Holy City” became our second hometown, and I navigate that peninsula about as well as I do the Cedar Valley. 

     It’s not home, but it’s familiar and comfortable.  Until now.     

     Now it’s a shocked, grief-stricken populace, struggling to deal with the raw hatred and violence that comes with racists who act on their beliefs.  No Charleston street violence broke out in response, thanks to city, police, and church leaders who were on the scene immediately, offering condolences and explaining their search for the killer. 

     He was arrested before noon the next day. 

     Mayor Joe Riley deserves much credit for being there every step of the way, and for articulating the racist horror that had shaken Charleston.  So too with the police chief and several church leaders.  

     Yet there’s still anger, showing up as defacing local Confederate statuary, both on the Battery and Marion Square, a block from the site of the murders.  That statuary, which celebrates “The Noble Defenders of Charleston” and staunch slavery defender John Calhoun now must be protected 24/7 against such vandalism. 

     We walked up to Marion Square the morning of Clementa Pinckney’s memorial service hoping to hear some of the service from inside. The nearby basketball stadium, where the funeral was held, had filled long before we arrived.  Outside in sweltering heat, we felt a somber city standing still, seeking hope beyond sadness and dismay.    

     Store window signs on King and around Calhoun streets near Mother Emanuel church read, “Pray for Charleston,” and “No matter how dark the nights, the day will come” and “Love Wins Every Single Time.”   

     Needless to say, no Confederate flags were waving in Charleston, though they’re on serious display in the “Daughters of the Confederacy” museum downtown, along with hundreds of other Civil War relics.  No one protests that museum, nor should they. 

     The Confederate Flag on the statehouse grounds in Columbia did get removed for an hour last Sunday by a pole-climbing protester, but quickly replaced.
    The South Carolina legislature will meet soon to discuss whether the state should continue its celebration of the Confederacy via the flag. 

     I’ve observed dozens of city monuments around downtown Charleston and even more in nearby Magnolia Cemetery.  Scores of Confederate soldiers lie there, some with elaborate markers and celebratory commemorations. 

     To my knowledge, no cemetery or city monument adds the words “Even though the cause was wrong . . .” Or “Blinded by their beliefs, they fought nobly for the continuation of slavery.”  

     To do so would, they say, dishonor their sacrifice, or even misstate it, since they were “really” fighting for states’ rights.   However, most historians believe that “states’ rights” is code for legalized human enslavement based on race.      

     As President Obama said during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa:  Removing the flag from statehouse grounds “would simply be an acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought—the cause of slavery—was wrong . . . .It would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history; a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.”  

     The President’s larger point was reconciliation, a move toward an “honest accounting” so that healing can begin.  Healing begins with that honesty. 
    It takes humility and grace to admit you were wrong.  At a terrible cost, Charleston and South Carolina are about to do just that.   

     After 150 years, it’s time. 

    Go comment!
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