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  • Trump for President

    • Posted on Mar 05, 2016
    Wrote this for the Courier, published on August 2nd.  Given current developments, it seems more relevant now than in August, when Trump was just a mote in Mitt Romney's eye.   By the way, it's satire, just in case that's not clear.   

    Universal agreement is as rare as humility these days, but lately seems to have emerged from pundits and politicians alike.   All agree: Trump had better not 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 hierarchy, not known for its rational and level-headed candidates, agrees that their party would commit suicide by nominating 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.  His speeches amount to bellowing,

    He's 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, minor versions of Donald Trump. 

     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.  Though this horrifies the rest of the world, so be it.  

    (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.  With nothing but BS coming out.   

    (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, deceived though they may be,  

     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.  A total fantasy, but still attractive to Trump-lovers.   

    If the GOP actually nominates this blowhard phony,  he’d likely win based on pride alone.   

    President Trump would then make America grate again.  
    Go comment!
  • Cedar Falls Depot Deserves Support

    • Posted on Feb 28, 2016
    Here's today's Courier Column.  A Cedar Falls landmark has been rescued from the wrecking ball, thank heavens.  Now to get it on the National Register of Historic Places.  

    Losing a piece of history amounts to losing a piece of ourselves.   It’s sad, and when preventable, it’s tragic.  

     That’s why I felt so delighted when I read in last Sunday’s Courier that the Cedar Falls Depot building on 5th and Main won’t go the way of Waterloo’s Paramount Theater or Cedar Falls’ Broom Factory, or any number of landmark buildings around the region that fell to wrecking crews and lack of vision.     

     Part of life necessitates knowing our roots. That would be personal roots, family roots, and community roots. Outside of the Black Hawk Hotel, the Regent Theater, and the Ice House, no community building says “Cedar Falls roots” like the Depot.

     Built in 1871, it was the hub of rail traffic in Cedar Falls, the site of Presidential whistle-stops--Roosevelt and Taft spoke there in 1903 and 1911.  As a tyke, I saw Harry Truman roll through town, stopping at the Depot to speak from the back of the train. I remember a huge crowd gathered for his whistle-stop.     

     Well before that, someone constructed a tunnel underneath the Depot that ran underground across the street.  People have wondered whether it was a stop on the Underground railroad.   Probably not, since the Civil War ended six years before it was built. Maybe a hide-out for bootleggers? 

     A secret gathering place for hobos, gamblers, and lovers?  An escape tunnel for criminals on the run, hopping off one of the 36 trains that ran through Cedar Falls in the late 19th century?  We might someday discover all this, thanks to its continuing existence.  

     To me, the Depot represented the heart of Cedar Falls for years—1972 to 1986, to be exact.  Then it was a fine restaurant, a meeting place, a live music venue.  “It was ‘Cheers’ before there was ‘Cheers’” as owner Shirley Merner put it.  

     I met friends, interviewed UNI faculty candidates, celebrated all manner of events, and performed there as a duo with Robert James Waller and as a solo act later.  

     Bless their hearts, Shirley and Bill Merner were among the few restaurateurs who supported live music as well as offering seriously good food and stocking a great bar. 
    Everybody loved the Depot.   

     I used to pooh-pooh history classes in high school. Then I grew up.   

     Over the years I’ve gotten shivers at Fort Sumter and Gettysburg, tears at the American graveyard above Omaha Beach, amazement on the Galapagos islands, gazing at the same strange creatures that Darwin studied 150 years earlier.  

     History is alive when you know it, and the Depot sits deep in local history.   

    Thanks to Dan Fencl, who bought the Depot with plans to restore and renovate it, and to Friends of Historic Cedar Falls for supporting local history and the Depot.  

     Had the Depot been sold and torn down, I would have called it criminal.   

     Incidentally, I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that the Depot is not on the National Register of Historic Places, though Waterloo’s Chicago Great Western Railroad Freight Depot is.   

     If anyone wants to get our Cedar Falls Depot into that National Register, count me in.   


    Go comment!
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