Thursday, August 17, 2017


Simon Bolivar The Liberator, Felix Weldon Sculpture in Washington D.C

   A conversation about monuments, history and racial sensitivity is important. So, lets start with this guy. There are probably more statues and monuments to Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan, than anyone else in history. Yea, really!
    Bolivar rides or stands tall in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Ottawa, Berlin, London, Cairo, Tehran, plus every major city in central and south America.
    Bolivar was a kind of aristocratic Che Guevara. He liberated 5 nations, none of them the United States. He freed Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama by organizing guerrilla campaigns and leading armies. Impressive stuff. 
     Now we get closer to home. Bolivar died in 1830. The US Congress approved the statue in 1945 and it was installed in 1959. That is a large historical disconnect, compared to the Robert E. Lee statues and those of other confederate leaders that stand in many places in the American south.

     Those confederate memorials are offensive to millions of Americans and with just cause. They are however a part of history and even historic in their own right. While we may scratch our head and wonder why old Simon shows up all over the world, we probably would be opposed to suddenly tossing him over everywhere. While revisionist history of any sort is wrong, so too is a lack of perspective.
    So here's the monumental idea. Put those confederate military leaders in context. It is important that all generations know  the "honored" were part of a horrible and deplorable war effort.
    The future needs to know they stood for the enslavement of human beings, dissolution of the Union, a white supremacist view and that they lost. That kind of information should be added to the statues, prominently. But we can also add context.  
     For every confederate war leader there will be a larger statue or monument to others, such as African American leaders like Fredrick Douglass (who donald trump hears is "doing a good job") Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Union Generals US. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, George Gordon Meade, George Henry Thomas, Phillip Sheridan and leaders, etc. As painful as it might be, there should also be monumental representation of the slave trade markets and conditions on plantations. 
     It is a matter of perspective. When you start knocking down statues the Taliban or ISIS comes to mind. Keep the old statues in place, but add interpretation and then put them in context with new statues and monuments so the full story and truth is told. 
    This "battle of monuments" would put a lot of artists to work, would spur a learning of history, would add relevance to old statues, create vivid interpretation of lessons best not lost in history and put the confederacy in a proper context.  It would also offer increased tourism to those communities who work to set the record straight by virtue of monumental truth.
guarding truth
      Truth and trust are bound in life. You can't have one without the other. That leads us to a consideration as to how to free ourselves of the man who is a cancer in our history.
        The premise is simple. We must, the world must, everyone must be able to trust the President. Recent history shows us painfully we cannot trust president trump. It's a prescription for disaster when allies, enemies, constituents, military chiefs, national security forces, when no one can trust the president.
        There is no need to wait for the Mueller investigation into the Russian connection; was there collusion or not, was trump enterprises involved in Russian money laundering, has his family enterprise violated conflicts of interest laws or the emoluments clause, is he compromised by loans from Russian banks, did he obstruct justice?  It is important to get these answers, but there is a path to removal in advance of that and it deals with trust.
       In this case the inability to trust trump qualifies as making him unit to serve and that leads us to section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. 

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
     The president own words are proof enough of his habitual lies, his fantasy phone calls included. There is 6 months of presidential dishonesty that makes the case. trump would fight it, however there is a growing mood to get rid of him.
       This newspaper ad greeted readers this morning. Doyle McManus's recent report in the LA Times underscores how official Washington is dealing with trumps lack of fitness.
        McManus details how Secretary of State Tillerson, Defense Secretary Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford have worked overtime to back the US and North Korea from the brink of war. The situation was made grave by trump's tweets, lippy retorts, ignoring of staff and the behavior of a spoiled little rich boy brat. Pause on that for a moment--had Tillerson, Mattis and Dunford not joined forces we could be in the midst of war because a liar with no character and no sense of history or diplomacy. 
        He is unfit because he cannot be trusted. No psychologist or prosecutorial data is necessary. trump's own utterances make the case. 
        The question remains will congressional Republican leadership and members of the cabinet show character and begin the process to toss the lunatic out of office and thereby move to protect the US.
caesar's secret
    Referring here to the salad.
    Over the years I've gained a reputation-deserved or not-as being good at making caesar salad. Above is recent set up of most of the ingredients. But there is something that needs closer examination.
      This is a technique I learned from legendary chef Dieter Puska.  You hand mash the anchovies and the minced garlic by fork in the salad bowl.  Over the years I've learned that mincing the cloves earlier and letting them soak in olive oil makes them more pliable and enriches the oil, which gets worked into the dressing. I have also started reserving the oil of the anchovies as well.  Everything starts with these two foundations. 

      See you down the trail.


  1. OUTSTANDING idea on the monuments TC. And SO much would be gained by a mature response like yours instead of the negative and politically correct response of the tear the monuments down crowd.
    20 years ago, Richmond Virginia placed a statue of Arthur Ashe as the last of 5 statues along Monuments Blvd. Your idea for perspective-enhancing statuary is better. But in the years that we were visiting our younger daughter at the Univ of Richmond I never drove past Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeff Davis, JEB Stuart and finally Ashe without thinking this: It doesn't "fit"; it's completely out of context; but boy does it make the triumphal point!
    It always struck me as an optimistic and defining civic last word: "Those other guys you just drove past ... well, what they fought to defend has been ground into dust ... as is evidenced by the celebrated individual achievements of this great man, Richmond's Arthur Ashe --- ANYONE in today's America can do ANYTHING."

    1. Thanks and thanks for the link to the NYTimes piece on the Ashe statue.
      I particularly appreciate your take on the monument drive in Richmond.
      I can't help but think public statuary could go a long way to teach and impress history that sadly seems to be slipping by elsewhere.

  2. I agree with most about the statues....what I would like is the remaining statues remain in place, with in front of them, the same caliber statues of slaves in chains, linked together. And a plaque explaining.
    As to the Caesar Salad, I'd only add fresh anchovies at the end, draped over the lettuce. Like the North Beach Restaurant did back in the day.
    Cheers, Tom.

    1. As noted, seeing that kind of representation you mention would be painful, but too important not to teach. It's hard to miss statues, hard for historic revisionists like some Texas school boards to excise slavery.
      As for the Caesar--yea, that is how many great chefs and restaurants present it--but actually working the anchovies into a paste that creates a base for the dressing is a wonderful option. Cheers!

    2. Nice thought about the statues, but I seriously doubt that they would be used in any significant way as teaching tools. In the meantime, they serve as nothing but catalysts for hate mongering, reminders of the "glory days" of the Confederacy and as pokes in the eyes of Black Americans. I say take them all down NOW.

  3. Why don't members of congress, the cabinet, and all other staffers realize and take advantage of the "Get off the Trump Train" free card they've just been handed? And, as you suggest, put the 25th amendment into play...I think we know why, but I still hope...

    I agree the statues should be preserved as historical artifacts--perhaps in a "losers" museum. Then all the alt-right "really fine people" could go there to worship. Maybe add a Hitler wing...

    Agree also with Caesar tips--I usually make a garlic infused oil for the dressing and then mash the anchovies into that. I have, however, also recently gotten some really fine fresh white anchovies (BIG ones!) at Pier 46 that are delicious and that I could see added whole as well as the mashed ones in sauce (too much some may say...won't know until tried).

    1. Now is the time for the powers to begin to act decisively.
      The losers museum might be well packed-but no Hitler wing. Perhaps clips from Mel Brooks' The Producers-Those "scenes" of Spring Time for Hitler.
      Let us know how the white anchovies work out.

  4. You guys work too hard; we use Cardini's Caesar dressing! No mashing or infusing required.

  5. I always look forward to your thoughtful posts. These monuments are not good art or important historically, and were erected in the 20s and 50's to spite African Americans. Still, they are part of our sad history and like you said should be placed where they can be understood in context.