Where is the “Trump national Alliance?”

Why Trump Isn’t Hitler

Many progressive voices fear that President Trump is moving America towards totalitarianism and/or fascism. Trump has brilliantly sold “America First” as a form of patriotism, while others say it’s really anti-American. Serious discussions may draw parallels between Trump and the history of Nazi Germany, even though it’s a conversation-stopper to call him the new Hitler. The hint is always there.

I don’t think Trump is a new Hitler for a fundamental reason: He doesn’t have an organized cadre of thugs to suppress dissenters. The early Nazi Party participated “hugely” in every counter-demonstration and politically-motivated street brawl it could find. That requires a giant organization Trump lacks.

Continue reading Where is the “Trump national Alliance?”

More Thanksgiving Rhyme

My friend Tim provided me with some additional Thanksgiving items:

Because you and your family fully appreciates “My turkey, ’tis of thee,” I thought you and they might also enjoy two additional celebratory Thanksgiving pieces. The first is in some editions of “The Four Leaved Clover and Other Poems” but not in others, and because it’s not in the edition you mentioned in your Smatters post, I don’t know if you’ve seen it. I attach it below. The second is new, produced by my brother Chuck, and I must warn you, is something of an earworm. (And its basis will be unfamiliar to many in the current generation.)

Have a great Thanksgiving, and pass my love along to everyone there.


Incidentally, I can’t read “The second” link above either. I’m guessing it’s a turkey-themed version of “Mr. Sandman.”


Thanksgiving was over, and I, on my bed

Was resting my stomach as well as my head;

For both had been busy ’till late in the night,

Causing turkey and puddings to be put out of sight.

Just as conscience oft troubles the mind of the sinner,

My mind was disturbed by the weight of that dinner.

Then, trying to get all bad thoughts from my brain,

My mind wandered back to Columbia again.

And by thoughts of my Homer and Odyssey smitten,

I remembered that poem which I knew should be written;

But no thoughts would appear for my eager inspection,

And the state of my mind was not good for reflection.

Last, I cried, “Would that turkey could show me a plan

That would bring me to worlds unexplored yet by man!”

Then a voice from within me distinctly replied:

“T. B. Penfield, I will help you, though you’ve put me inside.”

Like the Trojan Aeneas, that hero of old,

My hair stood on end, and my blood ran quite cold;

But the turkey within did not stay in me long,

But straightway came forth, looking hearty and strong.

Then he swelled like a Sophomore who’s bursting with pride,

And he opened his mouth—and he put me inside!

What I saw in that land “unexplored yet by man,”

I guess I won’t tell, for I don’t think I can.

I remember my feelings—not anything more.

What I did is a mystery, and all that I saw.

The next I remember, was the coming of morn

And the night and the turkey were, both of them, gone.

Written December, 1886, in a competition for the coveted honor of Class Poet of the Class of ’90, Columbia University. Professor J. D. Quackenbos decided the contest, giving me the place.

New York City

Candidate Roads not Taken

The first Clinton-Trump debate was last night. I think both candidates did about as well as I expected. Here are two arguments the candidates could have made but didn’t:

  • Clinton: when Trump said “we should have taken the oil” while in Iraq, Clinton should have called him on it. Such “taking” would require war and long-term occupation with lots of our own troops.
  • Trump: when Clinton called for an “intelligence surge” in the context of ISIS-inspired domestic terrorism, Trump should have called her on it. Her surge requires expanded spying on American citizens and weakens national cybersecurity.

I could not have done a tenth as well in the debates as either of them, but these are arguments I wanted to see.

Continue reading Candidate Roads not Taken

A Scout’s Required Belief in God

SunriseHere’s the bottom line: If the Scout participates in any type of religious organization, whether it speaks of God or not, there’s no problem.

If the Scout perceives some power, essence, being, or motive force in the universe that could deserve to be called ‘God,’ there should be no problem.

On the other hand, if the Scout or Scout’s family’s personal beliefs forbid referring to any entity as ‘God’ then the Scout could have trouble participating in BSA’s Scouting programs.

Here’s how it works.

Continue reading A Scout’s Required Belief in God


Thank you to Rick for inviting me to post this on the Smatters blog! I’m very happy to be guest blogging. The purpose of this series is to give my American friends a better understanding of the political system in Canada. Again, as with part one, this is all from memory, so please forgive me my lapses (and Canadians, please do correct me if I’m wrong).

Part the Second: Parliament and Parties

Canada’s federal legislative branch is the Parliament. It’s comprised of two houses – the House of Commons and the Senate. Unlike the US Senate, the Canadian Senate is appointed. Similar to the US Senate, it is rife with scandal (Google “Mike Duffy,” for example) and obstructionists (Google “Canadian bill C-279,” for example).

When Canadians vote for the Member of Parliament (MP) from their riding (a riding is akin to a Congressional district in the US), they are voting for their representative in the House of Commons. This is the only direct vote the Canadian public has for federal representation; Canadians do not elect the Prime Minister (PM) directly, unlike the election of the US President. In the case of a majority government (ie, one party wins more than half the seats in the House), the leader of the majority party becomes the PM. (Currently, PM Trudeau of the Liberal Party leads a majority government; in the previous session of Parliament, 2010-2015, PM Harper of the Conservative Party led a majority government.) In the case of a minority government, when no party has won more than half of the seats (what Harper had in his previous terms as PM), a coalition needs to be formed between several parties in order to select a PM. Deals are made, agreements are reached, and usually the leader of whichever party won the most seats becomes the PM.

In the US, we’ve had two main political parties (with shifting platforms and party identities) basically since the Lincoln/Douglass presidential race of 1860 (ie, 7 years before Canada gained its independence). Third parties (eg, Bull Mosse, Greens) and independents (eg, Ross Perot) have occasionally made waves, but it’s mostly been Democrats and Republicans running the show in the US.

The party system is much more complex in Canada. After the federal election of 2010, the New Democratic Party (NDP) skyrocketed to prominence and replaced the Liberals as the official opposition party (ie, the party with the second highest number of seats in Parliament); at one point in 2015, the NDP were expected to win the most seats in the election and form the next government. Also, the Greens have maintained one seat through the past few elections. And the Parti Quebecois (PQ), though not as prominent as it once was (or as its predecessor, the Bloc Quebecois, was) since the diminution of interest in Quebec separatism, holds seats in Parliament as well.

So why are there so many parties in Canadian national politics? Well… partly it’s due to differences in regional interests. The PQ addresses interests that are (for the most part) specific to Quebec. The NDP has broader appeal now, but most of their support base originated in the prairies.

I think there’s another reason for the proliferation of parties in Canadian politics, though, and this one should be informative for Americans interested in the development of viable third parties in the US. It’s because Canadians only vote for their MP’s, and not their PM. When a third party rises to prominence in the states, it’s usually because they’re running a charismatic presidential candidate. All of the focus ends up on a single candidate at the top. But the way to effect change isn’t by starting at the top; it’s by starting at the base. Canadians, because they only vote for their MP, have no direct influence on who their next PM is. Everyone knows who the party leaders are, but they’re not voting for them directly (unless they live in their ridings – eg, Trudeau’s riding is Papineau, Quebec; Harper’s riding was Calgary West, Alberta). They are voting for whichever candidate in their riding best represents their interests, which is why regional issues sometimes play out on the national political scene. And because minority governments (especially) are inherently unstable, relying on coalitions of parties, third party MP’s can exert substantial leverage on big issues by deciding which larger party to (temporarily) lend their support.

The lesson here, for Americans: expecting a third party or independent to win the presidency in the foreseeable future is probably not realistic. There are no third parties or independent movements with enough sustained involvement at the base to pull this off from scratch. Because of this, at the presidential level, the most valuable thing you can do with your vote is probably to use it to support whichever big party (Republican or Democrat) nominee best represents you, even if they do not represent you perfectly. If you’d like to support other parties, the local and Congressional levels are where you will have (by far) the most leverage. This is built in to the Canadian system, but not the US system. And this is why it is essential to vote in all elections, not just every four years in the presidential ones.

The Orlando massacre

img_0567[repost from guest author havematwilltravel]

No, actually, I *don’t* think what happened in Orlando will lead to any sort of gun control. In December 2012, 20 children – babies, practically – were murdered in their school rooms, and no meaningful changes to gun laws were made afterwards. If America doesn’t care about the lives of children, do you think it will care about the lives of LGBTQ2IA people?

Continue reading The Orlando massacre

Tech-choking Image of History

Excerpt of Adams SynchronologyThere’s something charming about Adam’s Synchronological Chart or Map of History, even if I am a secular scientific type. It shows the history of the world following (more or less) Ussher’s chronology which famously begins everything at 4004 BC. Adam’s chart begins in biblical times, and tracks the “flow of history” mostly in terms of prominent European rulers. The first edition ended in 1871. There are claimed to be editions updated through the 21st century.

I haven’t seen a version displaying dinosaurs.

Continue reading Tech-choking Image of History

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