I Hate Hillary!

I purposely used the “H” word as I did recently in connection with a comment about Lucy Ricardo because the word seems to be all the rage these days — it or one of its synonyms. But I actually hate neither woman. I don’t know either of them so how could I hate them? And yet, there are thousands of people waiting to vote who claim to hate Hillary — or at least to not be able to stand her — even though they do not know her either. What they “know” is a political caricature that has been created over the years by her political opponents and the air-heads on Fox News.

I suspect she is a very private person, perhaps secretive. But that is OK with me because I’m a bit private myself and I realize that on the international stage when one is privy to information dealing with national security one has to be secretive. But, as I say, I don’t know the woman and I cannot say, therefore, that I hate her or that I love her. I simply don’t know her. Neither does anyone else, for that matter — except for her immediate family and a few close friends.

I have made the point a number of times that how we feel about the two candidates should not enter into our calculations of which one we will vote for. This is not to say that character and personality do not count. They do. My blogging buddy, Sue Ranscht, politely pointed this out to me after I insisted that they do not. Even though we do not know either of these two people, we know enough to allow character flaws and personality glitches to enter into the equation. But this does not reduce our decision of whom to vote for to the level of gut feeling. One would hope.

In the end it is the person’s record of public service, their C.V., that is most important. Which candidate has the better qualifications for the office? And while personality does enter in — just imagine Donald Trump in that office dealing with professional politicians and international dignitaries who have walked the world stage for years while he was firing people on reality TV — it shouldn’t weigh enough to allow us to accept or reject that person.

I recently quoted a woman who is determined to vote for Donald Trump (can you imagine?) who said she cannot stand Hillary and that, apparently is her main reason for voting for Trump. I noted that this involves a leap of immense proportions, one that I cannot even follow. How does one get from “I hate Hillary” to “I am determined to vote for Trump”? This leap ignores several alternatives: (1) one could decide not to vote any all; (2) one could vote for the libertarian candidate; (3) one could vote for the Green Party candidate; (4) one could write in someone like, say, Monica Lewinsky — or anyone else. The leap itself cannot be made logically and can only be accounted for in this woman’s case as a leap based on blind faith. At this point it is up to the psychologists out there to determine why someone would take such a leap of ignorance in a matter of this importance.

In the end, however, what matters is the candidate’s record and there is only one candidate who is fully qualified  for this job and that is Hillary Clinton. It doesn’t matter if you can’t stand the woman, what matters is that she is almost certainly the best qualified person for the presidency since the birth of this nation. If we were to like her that would be icing on the cake. But if we don’t it really doesn’t matter in the end.

I Hate Lucy

Don’t get me wrong. I used to laugh my head off at Lucy Ricardo’s shenanigans on the “I Love Lucy” show. But, let’s face it, that show may be at the roots of the culture of lying that has emerged in this country, especially off late. The humor on that show was based, almost without exception, on the deception and lies that Lucy perpetrated against Ricky. As a result of those lies she had her hilarious comeuppance, and all was well in the end. In any event, so many sit-come that have followed have adopted the same template: tell lies that generate embarrassing, funny situations and make sure the hero or heroine learns a lesson or two but all comes out in the wash at the end.

So what? Well, think about it. The entertainment industry has taken over this country and folks spend the better part of their day and night watching the tube. Sit-coms are extremely popular. If we put two and two together and make sure we don’t come up with five, we might infer that those shows permeate the tiny cells in our brains and plant seeds (if television waves can plant seeds). And those seeds give us the deep impression that lying is OK. We see it time after time on the tube. We know that the used car salesman lies to us. It’s a given. We know that going in and brace ourselves for the tall tales about the car we like driven by an old women and never over 30 miles an hour. And we know the man selling his house will simply not mention that the basement leaks every time it rains.

Politicians lie to us and we know it as well. It’s a given, just like the used car salesman, the house-seller, and whoever else has an item to sell. The politicians in particular are selling themselves and they will tell us what we want to hear in order to get our vote. We say we hate politics; perhaps it is because we all know that it invariably involves lying. One of the two candidates for president in the current race is the Champion of Liars. A recent count by the folks at the New York Times reveals that in a given week he told 87 lies to his opponent’s 8. Clearly, he is the Champion! But the fact remains that his opponent lies on occasion as well. Perhaps it is best to take what they all say with a grain of salt, as they say, and assume that we are being lied to all over the place.

The problem is that we need to know where those folks stand. We need to now if the car we buy will hold up after the warranty runs out and whether or not the leak in the basement can be stopped. We need to know these things and when we are told lies and we believe those lies we are the victims. How do we avoid that trap? Surely, we have some responsibility to learn the truth and separate that from the rest of the verbal detritus that spews forth from the mouths of those we would like to believe.

As I have noted in a previous post, when lies become the norm there is no longer any truth. Truth becomes whatever we choose to believe. I do think we have arrived at that point as a society. How else to explain the thousands of people who buy the swill that is being sold by the Champion of Liars? So many of us have become like the naive fools who bought snake oil from the man on the wagon at the fair years ago. There’s a fool born every day. Sometimes dozens of fools. How do we make sure we are not among them?

To begin with, we need to be suspicious about anything a politician tells us. We need to insist on corroboration from another source when a claim is made, a reliable source. We need to ask ourselves whether what he or she says is plausible? Does it make sense? Can the president, for example, have the power to accomplish all the things this particular candidate is claiming he or she will accomplish when in office? What evidence do we have that what this person says is true or that they are competent to hold that office?

The rule of thumb in critical thinking is that truth is a residue. If we can find a weakness in a claim, if we can find counter-evidence, that claim is almost certainly not true. A claim is true if, and only if, we cannot find reasons to reject it. This was the Socratic method and it has stood the test of time. But it takes work. It requires that we be suspicious. It takes careful attention to the claims themselves and a willingness to think through what the person says and reject those claims that are clearly false — even if they fit in nicely with our preconceived ideas. And that is tough. We do want to think that those claims are true that make us feel good about ourselves. But a claim is not true simply because we want to believe it. It is only true if it cannot possibly be false.

Ricky believed Lucy because he loved her and he wanted to believe what she said was true. He should have given it a bit more thought. But it wouldn’t have been half as funny. On the political stage these days, however, it is not the least bit funny and we have our work cut out for us.

Disgusted

I was determined not to add my voice to the outcry about the latest revelations regarding Donald Trump’s utter contempt for women whom he sees simply as objects placed on earth to satisfy his sexual urges. I really didn’t want this blog to lower itself to that level, the level of the gutter where this man seems to be most at home. But there are a few things that really need to be said.

I begin with the fact that the revelations about his vulgar comments regarding women do not really surprise me. I am past being surprised by anything this man says or does. But I continue to be amazed that those women who still follow him continue to do so regardless. For example, take the case of  Cynthia Schiaroli, a retired elementary school teacher in Reading, Pennsylvania who insists that she will vote for Donald Trump:

“I am not voting for him to be pope,” [she said].
While Schiaroli was “disgusted” by the tape and said she would have a serious problem with her own husband saying anything like that, she believes Bill and Hillary Clinton have said and done things just as bad, if not worse.
“Hillary gets passes for everything,” Schiaroli told CNN Money on Saturday.

This woman dismissed Trump’s comments as no worse than the kinds of things Bill and Hillary Clinton say, which makes me wonder how she comes by this inside information about the private conversations of the Clintons, but it matters not. Her blind dislike of Hillary Clinton makes it impossible for her to even consider leaving the Trump camp. This, in turn, leads to a question.

How does one get from the hatred of a woman one doesn’t even know, except from media reports and mud-slinging sketches put together by marketing firms, to blind support of a vulgar, narcissistic, megalomaniac? There is a leap there somewhere and it is impossible, I suspect, to follow it. “I can’t stand Hillary, therefore I will vote for the man bent on demeaning all women and those who disagree with him while he clearly lacks the knowledge to run the country he insists only he can save.” Clearly this is a muddled mind.

Trump was reported to have said at one point that he could shoot someone in the middle of main street in front of a number of witnesses and he would still have thousands of loyal followers behind him. I thought at the time this was simply another example of his propensity to brag and blow himself up in his eyes and those of his adoring minions. But I am beginning to believe that he was right. It doesn’t seem to matter what he does; those loyal to him are also purblind to his obvious shortcomings — if one can use such a mild term to describe this man’s total lack of character.

When this election is finally over — and it cannot possibly come too soon for my liking — we will really have address what might be called “the Trump phenomenon.” That is to say, how is it possible for thousands of people to hang on this man’s every word — so many of which are bald-faced lies — and grant him license to describe someone like Hillary Clinton as a “horribly flawed person.” Why does this not strike a chord in his followers suggesting that this comment, among so many others like it, is the epitome of hypocrisy: it is the pot calling the kettle black. And there is little evidence that the charge against Clinton has any grounds whatever in the truth.

But the truth seems not to matter. For his mindless minions, as I have noted in the past, this man can say whatever he wants to say and it will be believed. Indeed, for those who have attached themselves to him like Velcro this man defines what is true and what is false. This may change from day-to-day, but it makes no difference: what he says is all that matters. Those who would criticize him are simply out to get him which proves, in their minds, that he is right and they are wrong.

In this regard, I do suspect that when this man comes under attack he becomes the victim no matter how well-grounded in truth the allegations against him might be. He is under attack from the Establishment, an ill-defined group of smart-ass liberals who are “out to get us” — which is why his minions need someone like Trump to hang on to. He gives them a desperately needed sense of power which they otherwise lack and he says and does those things his followers would like to say or do but have heretofore been disallowed  by the have-it-alls. It is interesting in this regard that the woman quoted above can’t stand Hillary because she “gets passes,” is allowed to get away with everything. The Establishment protects its own in the tiny minds of the fearful minions.

The sheer illogicality of the Trump phenomenon beggars belief and demands close scrutiny by those who claim expertise in understanding the meanderings of troubled minds. For myself, I easily lose my way and feel like Alice in Wonderland where everything is upside down and back to front. It’s not a world in which I want to try to find my way, but I do hope there are others who will make the effort and then reveal to us how this could possibly have happened.

Top Ten Reasons

In a recent post on Facebook one of the contributors noted that she didn’t like Hillary Clinton at all but since Hillary was friends with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders she thought that together they could accomplish a great deal in the next four years. In addition, she was vehemently against the thought of Trump as our next president and was therefore determined to vote for Hillary despite her misgivings. I tend to agree with her take on Hillary as a person, but as I have noted in past blogs, this election is not about her personality — or Trump’s — and when it comes to policies and experience Hillary, as has been said, may be the best qualified candidate ever to run for president.

Thus I regard this writer’s reasoning as weak even though I agree with her. It focuses too much on personalities to be considered strong reasoning in a political race of this magnitude. I tend to agree that Hillary’s public persona is a bit off-putting: she seems to be a very private person not given to opening up in public, not warm and cuddly like her husband. I have no problem with that however, and while I also disagree with some of the decisions she has made in the past, this race is too important to overlook her exceptional qualifications for the job at hand.

Since this election is a reality show in the mind of one of the candidates, I have chosen to take a page from David Letterman’s book and list my “top ten” reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton,in reverse order.

10. She was two-term Senator for New York State.

9. She was First Lady for eight years and learned from the best how to govern.

8. She was Secretary of State and worked closely with Barack Obama.

7. She has always been willing to disclose her tax records.

6. She has never filed for bankruptcy.

5. She has no debts in foreign banks.

4. She has never been fined for racial discrimination.

3. She has fought for years for women’s rights and the rights of the disadvantaged.

2. She has openly declared her political agenda, including what the Sierra Club regards as the “strongest” stand on the environment of any political candidate for president in recent memory.

1. She understands the nuclear weapons are deterrents, not weapons of war.

Now these may not be the strongest reasons possible and it always pays to take a look at the reasons given for voting for her opponent. But hard as I try I cannot find any reasons — aside from the millennials in his political ad shouting that he “tells it like it is,” which is about as false as can be. But there does seem to be one outstanding reason that ought to be addressed.

Many voters are fed up with “politics as usual” and want change. Trump promises change and he is assuredly not a politician in any strict sense of that term. He has never been elected to any political office whatever, which many regard as a strength; I regard it as a weakness. But, moreover, I would urge caution to those who simply want change. Change in itself may not be a good thing. My temperature may change and symptoms appear that lead to a shorter life. The weather might change as it has radically in the Southeast and this change is assuredly not for the better. Indeed, much change can result in drastic results and the change that Trump promises would certainly appear to be change of that order. If president he may well bring this country tumbling down about his shoulders because he is simply in over his head and has no idea whatever how to work with others and benefit from their experience and insight. And his close relationship with Putin must give us all pause when thinking about this country’s relationships with the rest of the world.

If there are other reasons for voting for Donald Trump, I am not aware of them. And while I realize that one should keep his or her mind open to new information, I am at this point determined to vote for Hillary Clinton for the reasons given above. And, despite my reservations about her public persona, I do realize that she is a woman of immense political experience and knowledge who is bright and capable. These reasons count for something, though, as I have said, this election is not about personalities.

 

 

The “Debates”

I often think of the Lincoln/Douglas debates in 1858. These were debates to win the seat of Senator from Illinois — not president of the United States. Nevertheless, the two men debated several times, the first in Ottawa, Illinois, a town of about 9,000. As the debates began 10,000 people showed up to watch and listen for three hours in the hot, summer sun. One participant spoke (without interruption) for an hour. The second participant spoke for an hour and a half, and the first spoke for a half hour in “rebuttal.” For the most part, the debates involved prepared notes, but there was considerable spontaneity and a few barbs — but no personal insults designed to make the other blanch. Always, the debates focused on major events of the day, chiefly abolition and the slavery question, the preservation of the Union, and the role of the government in these major events. Newspaper reporters were on hand to take notes in shorthand which were later reproduced at length in their papers then to be taken up by papers around the country to be widely read and discussed.

Today, in contrast, — and especially in 2016 — the debates ate relatively brief (90 minutes) on television which allows the voters to sit in air-conditioned comfort sipping their favorite drinks and turning the whole thing off if they become disenchanted or disgusted. Most recently the initial debate involved one unprepared participant sniffling and interrupting the other innumerable times, being as boorish and rude as possible and making sure that his comments were directed at the person of his opponent or bragging about his own accomplishments which, he repeatedly insisted, put him (and only him) in the position of savior of this country, making it “great again.” His opponent sought to address the questions and remain calm in the storm and make sure she didn’t lower herself to the level of her opponent. Her advisors, predicting further attacks in future debates not against her but against her philandering husband 20 years ago, have urged her to go on the attack, i.e., lower herself to the level of her opponent. One would hope she will not do this, but one also knows that this is what the people viewing want to see. After all, they have cut their teeth on “The National Enquirer” and “Reality TV” and one of these participants is convinced that the debates are exactly that with “uge” audiences.

The fact that this approach to what was once a very serious business is so very popular, as is the Reality TV star who is center stage regardless of what the other person is doing or saying, puts me in mind of the movie “Idiocracy.” In that movie, you will recall, the minions have indeed become mindless. Because of devolution of the human species resulting from too much TV, among other things, the  IQ of the average American has lowered itself, roughly speaking, to that of a toadstool. TV is not the only culprit, of course, as genetics has been a large factor, since the bright people over the years decided to have no children, or only one or two, while the masses of humanity are reproducing like rabbits. This is what we might call a “leveling down in spades.”

The problem is that life is not reality TV and we have not become quite like the America envisioned by that movie. There are serious problems facing this country and there are qualified people who are able and willing to address them. But the media love a circus — it sells the peanuts after all — and they love the clown who brings in the audience to buy the peanuts. And, as we know, the media rule. Well, their sponsors rule, since they are the ones who eventually make the call.

So while we know that those in the media should be holding the candidates’ feet to the fire and asking them tough questions to see what they are made of, they will continue to allow the participants to have their way. A free-for-all sells better than at least one bright person struggling with tough questions. This is the age of “The Enquirer” and Reality TV after all. We get what we are wiling to pay for, even if we are getting ripped off.

After The Fall

Robert Reich recalls a phone conversation he had with a friend who predicts a Clinton victory in November — and a majority of Democrats in the Senate (though not the House). The conversation then picks up as follows:

And what about all the people who’ll be voting for Trump?”

“What about them?” he asked, cautiously.

“After Trump loses, they’ll still be out there, right?”

“Of course.”

“And they’ll be madder than hell, poisoned with Trump’s venom. They’ll be a ready-made constituency for the next demagogue.”

“Bob?” he asked.

“What?”

“Remind me never to phone you again.”

“Sorry,” I said.

Indeed. There’s the rub. What about those crawly things Trump has enticed out from under the rocks he has been kicking over for the past few months, “poisoned with Trump’s venom”? That’s something we all need to ponder. Given that many of them are the “second amendment people” that the Trumpet encouraged to “do something” about Hillary Clinton and given the fact that they are armed, angry, and reside very far to the political right — well past Genghis Khan over there in the distance behind that rock — we need to worry about more than discontent among his mindless minions, a “ready-made constituency for the next demagogue.” There’s that, but there is also the very real possibility that a Clinton victory will engender a violent protest that will have alarming consequences — and not only for Hillary Clinton.

I refuse to make dire predictions and it is quite possible that nothing will happen beyond some really stupid complaints from those who will be convinced that this political race has been rigged and the only way their man could possibly have lost is because the Democrats cheated. We have already heard this excuse and it is virtually certain we will hear it again.

Given the conviction that a bigot and narcissistic megalomaniac is perceived by these people as the man to rescue this country from the grasp of those damned liberals, and “make America great again,” we can be sure there will be some very unhappy, not to say stupid, people. Just what they will do is the million dollar question.

At the very least, the political landscape will never be the same and the reputation of this country in the eyes of the rest of the world will have been deeply tarnished. It will take years and the efforts of a stellar leader to restore it. We ourselves will all have been exposed to the ugly underbelly of this country, which most of us had never imagined in our worst nightmares.

Not that this will keep me from voting for Hillary Clinton in November. Not in the least. As has been said, it really is a choice between sanity and insanity. The alternative of this man winning suggests even greater horrors and for a more prolonged period of time. The Sierra Club predicts that his election would lead invariably to an “environmental catastrophe.” Indeed. And that’s just the beginning. It’s just that I feel as though I am being pinned between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps you feel the same way?

 

 

 

Reasonableness

On a recent blog post I received a very carefully considered response to a question from a young woman who played tennis for me while I coached and also took a class from me while an honors student. She is bright and well-trained in her area of expertise, which is biology. She is now a mother and active in her community. She refuses to vote for Hillary Clinton and, I suspect (though she never said) she will vote for Donald Trump. This has given me pause and deep concern

To this point I have dismissed the supporters of Donald Trump as mindless minions. And while this may be true on the whole, it is obviously not the case with this young woman, whom I respect and am quite fond of. But I think she is dead wrong when she says that critical thinking has lead her to the conclusions she listed as the reasons she cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. In the end it comes down to what a person will consider “good reasons.” One person’s notion of “reasonableness” is obviously not that of another. I do suspect it is largely a matter of intellectual training (like recognizing good literature), but it is also a result of the fact — noted by David Hume ages ago — that reason is largely a slave of the passions.

The young woman in question lists six reasons why she cannot vote for Clinton, two of which are religious. I cannot dispute those reasons because they do not count, in my view, as reasons. Matters of faith are not subject to philosophical debate and are seldom, if ever, altered by critical reasoning. This is a good thing, by and large, since there are things we humans are simply not equipped to know and things we must simply accept on faith. I have always held to that view. In politics, it comes down to a separation between the state and the church, one of the founding principles protected by the Constitution.

But a couple of the reasons she gives strike me as rather weak and subject to criticism. I will discuss one. She worries that under a progressive president, such as Obama and Clinton (if elected) the defense of this country would be weakened. Indeed, she thinks, it already has been weakened.  Clinton’s own position on defense has been carefully spelled out:

Ensure we are stronger at home. We are strongest overseas when we are strongest at home. That means investing in our infrastructure, education, and innovation—the fundamentals of a strong economy. She will also work to reduce income inequality, because our country can’t lead effectively when so many are struggling to provide the basics for their families

She has not advocated cutting the defense budget despite the fact that this country spends 3 1/2 times as much on defense as China, which is second on the list of countries that spend billions on defense. In the case of the United States, we spend $581,000,000,000 annually on defense. But if cuts were to result from her presidency, surely, a cut of 20% (say) would not cripple the armed forces that defend this country? And Hillary Clinton hardly rates as a dove; indeed, she has shown herself to be rather hawkish.

And there are a couple of other reasons on her list that are subject to question as well, including her personal reflections on the failure of the Affordable Care Act which in large part seems to have been a success; but I won’t go into them. I do not want this young woman to feel as though I am holding her up to ridicule. On the contrary, I applaud her for speaking up and sharing with all of us the reasons she finds compelling for voting against the woman I honestly believe would do an excellent job as president.

What has me most deeply disturbed is the fact, which I shy away from, that reasonableness — which I have taught for over 40 years and which I embrace with both arms — is powerless when it comes to deeply held beliefs and fears. For those who fear terrorism, for example, this country does not spend enough on defense. And for those who believe that life starts with conception the notion that a woman should be the one to choose whether her fetus lives is far from reasonable. No reasons whatever will dislodge those convictions so strongly held. Arguments become mere rationalizations.

Thus, I am doubly disturbed by this young woman’s response to my question because I know she is convinced her position is reasonable whereas I am not, though I know full well that I could not persuade her to my point of view. I find myself having pursued a lifetime of seeking to help my students become more reasonable only to discover that, in the end, conclusions are often, if not always, based on emotion.

It’s War!

I have a second email address that I tend to ignore for the most part until I realize that it is collecting over one hundred emails — mostly spam, of course. When I was emptying the trash from that site yesterday I came to realize that there were dozens of urgent requests from some group that calls itself “DCCC” wanting me to donate money to Donald Trump’s campaign. Oh yeah! You bet. Right away: I’ll get out  my checkbook. . . .

But as I gave some of the frantic notices some attention I came to realize an odd and somewhat disturbing fact: these people don’t see this election as a campaign; they see it as war! It’s Us against Them! It’s the little guy against the giant Establishment. They sprinkle their appeals with quotations from various sources on the “enemy’s” side that prove (to them) that the enemy is on the run. They are panicking! We are winning!

For example, one recent appeal quotes Barack Obama (their favorite hate target: he is the source of all evil, together with Hillary Clinton, of course) to this effect: “All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election.” The DCCC see this as a sign that the “other side” is weakening and is in panic mode. Every time Fact Check is quoted to show that their leader has told bald-faced lies it is dismissed as a pure fabrication, a Lie to end all Lies. They lie, we don’t. They won’t listen to criticism of their leader because they know before time that whatever that criticism might be it is pure fiction. Their man can do no wrong.

Ironically, of course, the appeals are full of lies and distortions about how their leader is winning the war, though their minions cannot possibly recognize them as such because they see only black and white: US against THEM. They lie, we don’t. The thought that they are winning the war and that they have the enemy on the run keeps them energized and (I suspect) keeps the dollars coming in. Promises of doubling and tripling donations are sprinkled throughout the appeals that include the aforementioned lies and distortions about their leader’s winning ways. And the appeals have a frantic tone to them, designed to evoke emotional reaction, not thought.

The whole thing would be funny except for the fact that it is deeply disturbing. When, for example brilliant people like Stephen Hawking convince a couple of hundred reputable scientists to sign a letter to the American people urging them not to vote for Trump this is not seen as a weakening of their own lines; it is seen as a sure sign that the “other side” is on the run. “They,” one quickly realizes, is anyone who disagrees with them. And it doesn’t matter if “they” are reputable scientists, former Republicans, Pulitzer Prized winners, or even the Pope: they all lie when they dare to say anything critical of their leader.

This is not merely the refusal of someone to hear or read anything that might sully their leader, because they have determined that their leader defines the Truth — though this is certainly the case. This is not a matter of any attempt to draw rational conclusions from scattered, legitimate evidence. It is pure, unadulterated, visceral, hatred-driven determination to beat the opposition at any cost. And this is deeply disturbing because it suggests that these folks will stop at nothing to see their man win. And if he doesn’t win there will be Hell to pay, because it means that they have lost as well.

So much for the democratic ideal of open and honest debate among different political ideologies in an attempt to persuade voters to back their man or woman. This is the darkest form of warfare disguised as a political race — which Trump himself describes as a “movement.” He’s right. It is a movement, much like a cult. And reason and logic have no place at the table. It’s all about gut feelings, rage, hatred, and fear bundled up against the Establishment that has always been out to get those who are ready and able to do battle for their man.

The Lesser of Evils

Hannah Arendt tells us that the lesser of two evils is still evil. She’s right. And the rumor is going around (especially among those who incline toward a third party candidate in the presidential race) that Hillary is evil even though the lesser of evils. This is a libel and should be rejected as such.

In fact, this woman is extremely well prepared to take the highest office in this land. Not only was she a Senator and the Secretary of State, but she was also married to a two-term president and knows how the ugly game of politics is played. And there’s the rub! She is a politician in a day when politicians are all painted with the same tar brush. But in doing this we ignore folks like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who have shown that it is possible to swim in the putrid waters of Washington politics and not get dirty. Moreover, the former editor of the Wall Street Journal (that “most conservative” of newspapers) stated in print that while doing research on Hillary Clinton for an article she was writing she discovered that Hillary is one of the most honest people in Washington. Now, that may be condemning with faint praise, but it is praise indeed — coming from that source.

Additionally, as noted in a recent blog by my favorite blogger who was comparing Hillary’s agenda with that of Donald Trump, she was

Unable to find anything more than the above regarding Trump’s platform on mental health, I did the unthinkable and went to his campaign website in search of. Remember Hillary’s 38-point platform? Trump has a 7-point platform. No, mental health is not one of the seven. So, I cannot make a comparison between his platform and Hillary’s. Suffice it to say that Ms. Clinton has a comprehensive platform and a plan to improve mental health care, while her opponent has nothing beyond mockery and scorn.

In a word, Hillary stands for important principles — dealing with the economy, education, the environment, health, national security, and social equality, including gay rights — while her opponent can only stand by and call her nasty names. He has no platform on which to stand and his perspective is warped by his hatred and fear of those who differ from himself. But the important point is that, despite her lack of popularity, Hillary Clinton is well prepared for the office of president whereas her opponent(s) — all of them — are not.

This should be kept in mind in November though one will almost certainly not see it written in large letters in the newspapers across this great land of ours, because Hillary is dull compared with Donald Trump who is a circus clown primed to entertain and confuse us all into taking him seriously (and sell newspapers and air time!). The media have always preferred clowns, because that’s what folks seem to want. But for those of us who can see beyond the printed page or the sound-bite on television, it is clear who is and who is not best prepared to be our next president. Dull perhaps, but also very bright and fully aware of what lies ahead for the next president. By no means the lesser of evils.

Ignoring History

As Santayana famously said, “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” But I would add that those who ignore history will find themselves lost in an increasiomghly confusing world. For all we know many of them would vote for a megalomaniac demagogue for president! Can you imagine??!!

I have referred in the past to the excellent group in Washington, D.C. — The American Council of Trustees and Alumni — that is acting as a watchdog over American higher education, drawing attention to the fact that the colleges and universities in this country (including most of the so-called “prestige” colleges) are failing their students. One of their favorite topics is the astonishing ignorance of American college students, across the country, regarding the history of their own country.

As we know, high schools no longer require a civics course, which would attack the problem a bit. But many do not require history either and the colleges that used to fill in those gaps are increasingly inclined to simply teach what the students want to learn rather than what they ought to learn. Call this a lack of confidence on the part of college faculties who lack conviction about what it is students ought to know. Or call it simply a lack of courage. But whatever we call it, it demonstrates why there is such wide-spread ignorance on the part of an electorale that has elevated a moron (and, some have said, a sociopath) to the position of one of the major candidates for president of this country — though one must note the exception of the students at Harvard in the Republican Club who recently voted (for the first time in Harvard’s history) not to endorse the Republican candidate for president! However, I stand by my generalization: this exception proves the rule, as they say.

In a recent publication by the A.C.T.A. we read about the depth of ignorance of which I speak:

“In surveys commissioned by the ACTA less than 20% of respondents could identify — in a multiple-choice survey — the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. Little more than half could identify the purpose of the Federalist Papers. Only 23% could pick James Madison as the Father of the Constitution.

“American colleges and universities are failing their students. . .only 18% [ of those institutions] require students to take even one course in U.S. history or government. . . .

“Despite the colleges’ purported commitment to the noble ambition of training graduates ‘to be responsible and active participants in civic life’ or ‘civic leaders for our society,’ American history has disappeared not only from the schools’ general education curricula, but also from the requirements for history majors.”

The report goes on at some length. But you get the idea. People from other countries who must take citizenship tests to become citizens in this country and earn the right to vote are asked to know more than those born in this country who are simply assumed to know enough to pull the right handle in political elections, or color in the correct box. It is appalling. But it certainly helps to explain why there are so many in this country who are prepared  to vote for Donald Trump and who hate Hillary Clinton because they have been told by those sitting on the political right that she is the devil incarnate. Without thinking they believe what they hear.

In a word, the failure of educators to take their responsibility seriously in helping students gain control of their own minds is at least partially responsible for the wide-spread ignorance in this country that has become gallingly apparent in recent months. But parents must also take responsibility for not demanding that the schools teach their kids what they need to know in order to become informed citizens of our democracy, and for insisting that their college-age kids avoid the Humanities and Arts (where they might learn to think). There’s plenty of blame to go around. But in the meantime, we are faced with a close presidential race when it ought to be a blowout!