Monday, March 14, 2016


 Courtesy of Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Indianapolis
Vonnegut in his writing studio
Courtesy of Henry Miller Library Big Sur
Miller in his writing studio 
     Intriguing as they are these images cannot begin to capture the depth of thought, soul searching, intellectual ardor, soaring imagination and the just plan hard work of writing.
     Words matter. They build our world; hope, love, peace, war, inspiration, desperation, life, death.
      I can't decide if many of the current crop of presidential candidates are lazy and refuse to think deeply and consider the words they use or if they are specimens of a declining intellect. Donald Trump is coarse, vulgar, impulsive, childish, mean spirited and a braggart. He is also the leading Republican in America.
     Journalist Ezra Klein tweeted recently "Violence is scary. But violence-as-ideology is terrifying. And that's where Trumps campaign has gone."
      It will be telling but not surprising if violence continues to hound the Trump campaign. His tone has been violent and provocative. He advocates violence even actions that would put the US outside the Geneva Accords. He appeals to racists, neo-nazis and some of his supporters have been photographed giving a Hitler style salute.
      We've seen a few Republicans begin to move toward Trump as others become apologists. It is beyond me to know how any one of intelligence can condone or support Trump, regardless of how fed up with conventional politics they may be.
      While analysts and pundits track the Trump ascendancy to the recent behavior of the Republican party arguing he is the logical result of their coddling of kooky fringe elements, lack of constructive proposals, naked political obstructionism, denigration of a federal government, poor choice of leadership in congress and other legislative sins, I want to put blame elsewhere, as well.
     Political media. The proliferation of saturation coverage has brought us to the age of a crowded set where political operatives of dubious experience and background shout and yammer while another crowded desk of political journalists weigh in with their own interpretations. Everyone talking, nobody listening. Each with their own "expertise" or take. Contrast that to time when political reporters spent more time asking questions and digging than pontificating. 
     A 24 hour news cycle fills time and space. But the tone of political discourse has continued to devolve. It is verbal combat and spew.
     I wonder how a Lawrence Spivak, Bill Monroe, Marvin Kalb, Herb Kaplow, Nancy Dickerson, Cassie Mackin, Bob Clark, Doug Kiker, Tom Petit, Howard K. Smith, Sam Donaldson, Sander Vanocur, Carol Simpson, John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and etc, etc would handle a Trump, or a Cruz.  Previous generations of journalists would  not permit what has been said to go unchecked, unchallenged and not confronted for the sake of civility and decency. 
     We joke that Trump is good for ratings and so the hustler is allowed to insult, demean, embarrass, rant and in general lower the relative decorum of public discussion and no one calls him out, until now. It appears protesters are doing just that.
     The other dynamic is how anger and frustration with a broken system-entitled professional politicians enjoying the perks of office while doing little to benefit the public-has welled up to such a point where just being angry is more important than having ideas. The words we hear are anger. The words we don't hear are constructive ideas or solutions. It takes little thought to rant and rave. It requires intellect to craft workable plans and find a way forward. 
     Once there were gatekeepers. Today our future may well be in the hands of low information; low information candidates, low information voters, low brow culture and low performers.
      It is as though the D students have taken over political operations and even news sets. 
There is beauty in this season, the crop of fava beans Lana has cultivated.

      Good things are coming.

      See you down the trail.


  1. Hmmm, Fava Beans. Weren't they featured a movie a while back, served with....

    Tom, I don't know if you've dipped into the cesspool of comments on some of the political blogs. There are some very scary people in this country.

    1. Trump gives them voice and identity. Reminiscent of Brown Shirts and the Beer Hall Putsch.

  2. I believe, have believed for decades, that the diminishing value of broadcast news began when the marketing departments figured out that they could make money off of it. It was from that point on that the lust for ratings took over and dominated the news departments. And the rest is history, a sad history.

    1. It has become a business and "news" has become a commodity. We suffer because of this.

  3. Trump is an embarrassment, but Cruz is scary and dangerous. I miss the old Republican party, which seemed to at least be run by adults.

    1. We can only hope those adults somehow reassert control.

    2. Are there any left? The old Eisenhower R's are dead, The boomer age sensible R's have been beaten in elections, the younger ones, like Paul Ryan are nuts, and the really young R's are crazier yet...where will they come from?

    3. I hope the GOP preserved tissue samples of Jake Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford, Tom Dewy, Margret Chase Smith, Charles Percy, Hugh Scott, Teddy Roosevelt so they can clone a new breed. Or get the DNA of Bill Cohen, Dick Lugar, Christine Todd Whitman, George Pataki and do the same.