Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Last Trump

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
The Last Trump
by David Trumbull - April 15, 2016

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." --1 Corinthians 15:52

I have the honor of serving as a lector at Saint Joseph's Parish in the West End. That means that, from time to time, I read aloud to the congregation the passages from the Holy Scriptures chosen for that Sunday's Mass. Recently I was speaking to my friend Jim, who also attends the Saturday vigil Mass, and he expressed his strong support for Mr. Donald Trump's candidacy for the presidency. My response was that, this being the season of the resurrection, perhaps I'll have the opportunity of gratifying him by reading 1 Corinthians 15:52 in church.

Joking aside, none of the Republican candidates for president has won me over. Trump's pronouncements on international trade and immigration I agree with, but he seems wanting as to the details. However, I have greatly enjoyed watching the incompetence of the anti-Trump people.

The Sunday, April 9, "2017", Boston Globe front page "Deportations to Begin" headline has to be about the most clueless thing a major newspaper ever did. How could they not have seen that it will help, not hurt, Trump's standing among the electorate. It's just as when Mitt Romney blasted Trump, causing Trump's ratings to rise. I cannot figure out what the Globe thought they would accomplish with a stunt more worthy of the Harvard Lampoon. As for Romney, it's clear he believes the GOP has a problem and he is the solution. Well, if Romney is the answer, it must have been a pretty dumb question.

Yes, the GOP has a problem, but the problem is not Trump. Trump is the symptom, not the cause.

I sum up the appeal of both Mr. Trump and Senator Sanders in three letters, CCC. Over the past three decades if you were clever, college-educated, and connected, you have most likely done very well. But if you are a non-CCC person, the past three decades have likely been fairly grim. The ABC television show "The Middle" is a humorous, yet with more than a little faithfulness, depiction of the difficulties faced by "middle" America. Or as someone recently said on Fox News (I paraphrase because I can't find the exact quotation) "The Democratic Party has abandoned the middle class and the Republican Party isn't sure it wants them."

I am certain that Trump is more popular than the polls show. Almost daily I get in conversations with friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who ask, "Can they stop Trump?" It's always said in a way that implies that stopping Trump is a good thing. But once I reveal that I'm not strongly anti-Trump, they, in turn, slowly, over the course of the conversation, reveal that they are Trump supporters. When I ask them whether they would admit it to a pollster they always say no. The media and the political establishment think they have done a good job of turning Trump into an unelectable villain, but in the privacy of the voting booth, the people may just trump them all.

Friday, April 1, 2016

It Ain't Necessarily So

POST-GAZETTE -- Res Publica
It Ain't Necessarily So
by David Trumbull
April 1, 2016

"The problem with quotes on the internet is that you can never be sure they're authentic" -- Abraham Lincoln

As I write this column to be published on April Fools Day, I am thinking of my friends on social media, most of whom, in the frenzy of the current presidential nomination media circus, seem to have lost all common sense. My Facebook feed is full of false memes, fake quotations devised to support this or that political view. My friends, both Republican and Democrat, appear to have temporarily lost the ability to distinguish news from parody and truth from phony "quotes."

"A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." -- George Washington.

FAKE. There is no record that Washington ever said that. If you have read any of Washington's writings you know that in an age when "flowery" prose was in style, he was flowery even for his age. Had Washington ever expressed the sentiments above (which I somewhat doubt in view of his role in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion), he would likely have done so in at least three times as many words. Often I've wanted to quote Washington in my columns, but I find it very difficult due to his prolix prose. A good rule of thumb is that any Washington "quote" brief enough to fit in a Facebook meme, is likely not a real Washington quote. The website has a list of this and other spurious Washington quotes.

"If I were to run, I'd run as a Republican. They're the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they'd still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific." -- Donald Trump, in People magazine, 1998.

FAKE. There is no record that Trump said that in People or anywhere else. One tipoff is that while Fox News existed in 1998, it had been around for just over a year and wasn't even available in all parts of the country, it was hardly, in 1998, the massive voter influencer that the meme suggests.

"The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." -- Thomas Jefferson.

FAKE. While the quote is perfectly in tune with Jefferson's distrust of banks and of commerce, he did not say it, at least not in those words. The tipoff is "moneyed incorporations," While Jefferson would have known of what we now call not-for-profit corporations, such as colleges, churches, and municipalities, for profit business corporations, with few exceptions, did not exist until a quarter of a century or so after Jefferson's death. The website has a list of this and other spurious Jefferson quotations.