No Longer “Secretly Waiting”: Election Spam

Sunday, October 23, 2016

No Longer “Secretly Waiting”: ELECTION SPAM (or why the Postal Service Is Grateful for Social Media)

After I found a parking spot in my neighborhood this past Wednesday, I noticed that the mail truck was one car behind mine. I hailed the postal worker and asked why she was still delivering mail so late in the day. “Did you have to cover another route today, too?” “Oh, no, it’s the election. I’ll be delivering mail til at least 7:00 p.m.”

As I walked to my rented residence, I thought of how workers at the Post Office must be grateful that social media has played an increasingly prominent role in recent elections. The Citizens United decision enabled even more money to flow into advertising revenue streams, and without social media the average postal delivery person would probably need a moving van to contain each day’s shipment of propaganda.

With barely more than a fortnight to go before the 2016 general election, the likelihood of Donald J. Trump becoming the next president has become a long-shot proposition. For the moment, a potential catastrophe has been averted, but it is only a temporary respite. Anyone who believes that Trump’s supporters will simply fade away and lose interest in politics is kidding themselves. One judicious reminder of the Trump Effect can be found in Adam Kirsch’s recent review of Volker Ullrich’s “Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939” (translated by Jefferson Chase; Alfred A. Knopf). Kirsch’s final sentences seem to be equally directed at the current political turbulence in the United States, in which one candidate openly decries his obligation to acknowledge the legitimacy of any process that does not result in his election.

“(I)n the end Germany decided to see Hitler just as he saw himself; the country matched his psychosis with its own. What is truly frightening, and monitory, in Ullrich’s book is not that a Hitler could exist, but that so many people seemed to be secretly waiting for him.”

One aspect of social media that will help future historians recount a parallel development in the United States is how it reveals the transition between those who are “secretly waiting” and the open allegiance of public fanaticism. The first challenge, though, will be to preserve this material, since the electronic basis of these communications makes this material easily disposable. In the interests of preserving for future records one example of this election spam, I am posting an example of the appeals that are circulating within the ranks of those who are no longer “secretly waiting.” They are utterly unlikely to go back into hiding.

“Dear Fellow Lover of America,

“I am writing you because I trust you love this country as much as I do, and yearn for our government to restore the dignity of the Constitution. All Constitutions are not created equal, and the original Constitution of the United States is the best Constitution ever written. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, this original Constitution has suffered the equivalent of hacking by agents directed by the International Banking System. These setbacks, however, will soon stop, should we all come together and recognize the Hero in our midst. Donald J. Trump alone can save our Country, but it is up to us to anoint him. This is why I am asking you to join me in accepting his offer to become a Trump cardholder. On a personal level, I have to admit that this is what I have waited for ever since the mailman, in 1956, delivered my first “Magic Kingdom” card from the Mickey Mouse Club.

“That, however, was just a childhood fantasy. Now I have the chance to be part of a TRUE, GENUINE, ACTUAL “Magic Kingdom.” The TRUMP Black Card…. I’m …. I’m …. I’m at a loss for words. I am so grateful that our leader in the crusade against Crooked Hillary is never at a loss for words. Great words, in fact. Words so big and huge and chock-full of winning that all I have to do is to put this card in my wallet and I, too, discover…. well, in truth, I am not sure what will happen next, but I am sure it will be great.

“We just have to stand firm against the Liberal Media. Because they are the enablers. They have already rigged the election. It was rigged against Bernie Sanders. It was rigged against George McGovern. Real American heroes. They spoke out against the War, just like Trump did. And let me tell you, Trump is going to destroy ISIS. He is going to send them scurrying like rats to Aleppo. Which we know has already fallen. It’s toast. Like Crooked Hillary’s campaign to be president. And speaking of rats, we will take care of Paul Ryan afterwards.

“Forgive me for being so brief in praising our nation’s great fortune in having Trump as our next President. But it will take work. That’s why you need to join me in knocking on doors for the next two weeks and telling all those people with Hillary Clinton signs on their front lawns that they need to wake up and realize that they are voting for a LOSER. I can’t believe how many of these signs are popping up now. Where did all the Trump placards go? We know the answer to that question. Crooked Hillary has hired people (illegally here, of course) to steal our signs. Hey, they go low, we go lower. Let’s start by questioning the intelligence of the average Clinton voter. As I said, go lower.”

Lower and out,
Mike Rinse (Name changed to protect actual sender’s identity: any living person with this name is not to be confused with the author or disseminator of this message, which was not formally approved in any manner by the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.)

A “Rigged” Ephebe Election: Q.E.D.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A “Rigged” Ephebe Election: Q.E.D.

When Donald Trump claims that the election is rigged, he is referring to the one that will conclude on Tuesday, November 8. “Large scale voter fraud” is taking place, according to Trump, although he has not offered any concrete evidence to support his allegation. But why should he provide any evidence? “Evidence” in Trump’s domain is simply reiterated accusations. Why bother with evidence when all one has to do is make grandiose statements along these lines: “Isn’t it painfully obvious to anyone not brainwashed by the ‘dishonest and distorted media’ that Clinton’s campaign is engaged in an unprecedented level of duplicity?” Trump’s campaign strategy is to keep asking questions phrased in that manner until people give up hope of ever getting an answer to their request for evidence.

Along with a growing majority of American voters, I myself remain immune to Trump’s contagion, but what if one were to succumb to it and find oneself being bombarded by such messages as the following, which I have obtained from (redacted) sources that must remain anonymous. With considerable trepidation for the consequences I might face for giving you this insight into the logic of the Trump campaign, I pass this document along to you. Please note that this is a piece of satire, and that the Scholastic company and the vote it conducts should be regarded with the highest possible respect.

* * * * * * * *

FROM: (Redacted)

TO: My Devoted Horde of Deplorables

SUBJECT: Voter Fraud in the Scholastic Survey

Since Hillary Clinton’s surrogates demand evidence of widespread civic corruption, the (redacted) will now provide it, and we need look no further than the recent mock election held by Scholastic, in which school children are asked to vote for their preferred candidate. This synchronic sampling of the general population’s currently ineligible voters is remarkably accurate: since 1964, its outcome has conformed to the pattern of their parents’ voting in the General Election.

The Scholastic survey is in lockstep with the larger conspiracy against (redacted). According to this so-called educational corporation, the current crop of ephebes is continuing to disregard the tradition of “Only white males need apply” for the job of President. After selecting Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, the nation’s K-12 voters have decisively chosen Hillary Clinton, or so Scholastic is claiming, though they provide no evidence whatsoever that the children voting in this survey are legally entitled to be in this great nation of ours. Without any attempt at verifying their voters’ legal status. Scholastic has given its imprimatur to the claim that schoolchildren have picked the winner for the 14th consecutive time.

One is loathe to spoil the happiness of Hollywood-addled liberals, but let’s be honest, before being honest becomes a crime under Crooked Hilary. Such a streak of prognostication defies credibility. Let’s take a quick look at the outcomes of the past Scholastic-sponsored elections. Since 1964, these young future voters have enthusiastically endorsed Richard Nixon twice (1968 and 1972), Ronald Reagan twice (1980 and 1984), and the Bush family three times (1988, 2000, and 2004). If given the opportunity to act as thoughtful citizens, schoolchildren born since 1950 have demonstrated, in the majority of instances (7 out of 13), that they recognize the right choice. How to account for deviations in the current election, as well as the past two? Three misfires in a row can only mean one thing: a nefarious hand is at work. Let us not be distracted from facts, folks: “She is the Devil, and she has tremendous hatred in her heart.” What more need be proved?

The (redacted) is not surprised that the schoolchildren have picked Hillary Clinton. (Redacted) saw it coming four years ago when Scholastic announced that students had selected Obama over Romney, and indeed their preference prevailed. According to “Business Insider,” (redacted) warned the American public that Romney’s defeat was a “total sham and a travesty.”

It is still not too late, however, for real Americans to stand up and stop this insanity in 2016. Though the Scholastic election most certainly was as rigged as what the Clintons and the mass media have in mind for the election on November 8, the schoolchildren’s vote is only another trapdoor in the Hall of Horrors run by the Democratic party.

Only adult votes ultimately count, and America is counting on us to act like adults and accept the wonderful paternal leadership offered to us by (redacted). Don’t be childish and fall into the trap of a rigged election.

Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize (Part Two)

Monday, October 17, 2016

I went over a list of winners of the Nobel Prize in recent decades the other night and found many admirable and extraordinarily deserving authors: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Octavio Paz, Harold Pinter, Wislawa Szymborska, VS Naipaul, Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison. Unfortunately, Graham Greene and Robertson Davies were not listed.

On the other hand, I also found that Joseph Brodsky, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney were given this honor. Anyone complaining about the selection of Bob Dylan needs to be sentenced to six months of reading only the poetry of these three poets. Nobody else. Just these three. Brodsky for a week. Walcott for a week. Heaney for a week. Repeat again, then get serious. Brodsky for two weeks, Walcott for a pair, followed by Heaney for a pair.

In contrast, I could maintain an exclusive, six-month reading regimen with any three of the first set of writers I listed: Paz, Szymborska, and Morrison, for instance. Or Naipaul, Beckett and Marquez. Six steady months of that rotation and I would come out of it a better writer and reader. Six months of Brodsky, Heaney, and Walcott would leave me desolate and bored. Numbed by the anesthesia of imaginative vacuity. Heaney’s “Digging” is an example of a so-called canonical poem I dread teaching. The equation of the pen with the shovel? Did no one who read an early draft of this poem point out to Seamus how obvious, how unsurprising, this is? I do want to emphasize that I have given Heaney a more than generous amount of my time and attention in considering his work. Despite my misgivings about the quality of his poetry, I did attend one of his readings once, when he appeared at UCSD after winning the Nobel. Unfortunately, his poems were just as safe and banal as I anticipated.

As much as I find Heaney’s poetry uninspiring, I would never engage in the kind of ad hominem attack that implicitly accuses Bob Dylan of being responsible for the rise of neo-fascist politicians in the United States. “A world that gives Bob Dylan a Nobel Prize is a world that nominates Trump for president,” wrote Mr. Tim Stanley (The Telegraph, October 13). Excuse me, but Dylan’s accomplishment in setting poems to music is no more responsible for Trump than Seamus Heaney’s devotion to his art was responsible for Margaret Thatcher.

The conflation of Bob Dylan and Trump is an outrageous smear, and Mr. Stanley reveals himself to be a more feasible applicant for a position as an advisor to Mr. Trump than a reliable cultural critic. Would it not be far more accurate to say that a world that awards Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize for Literature is a world that elected and re-elected Barack Obama, and will soon affirm Hillary Clinton to be his successor? Bob Dylan’s writing does not diverge into a pair of roads, one leading to Trump and the other leading to Obama and Clinton. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.


Caliban (on-line): The 25th Issue

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Larry Smith has just written and said that the 25th issue of his on-line edition of CALIBAN magazine is now up and available for your reading. I am very honored to to have a new poem, “The Transversal,” published in this issue, along with the work of several comrades who have been writing poems for many, many decades.

CALIBAN (on-line): Issue No. 25 (Fall, 2016)
featuring (in order of appearance)
Nathaniel Mackey
Robert Gregory
Cindy Rehm
Robin Hudechek
Frank Rubino
Jim Zver
Stephanie Dickinson
Tim Kahl
Ray Gonzalez
Bill Mohr
John M. Bennett and Thomas Cassidy
Raymond Farr
Ivan Arguelles
James Grabill
Rigoberto Rosales-jalil
Salvatore Difalco
Florina Enache
Barbara Lai Benett
Jeff Harrison
Jay Passer
Cristian Del Risco
Denver Butson
Oguns Peter
Guy R. Beining
Graham Coppin
John Bradley
Jose Luis Gutierrez
Carlos Franco
David James
Christopher Barnes
Zoe Lee

The Gallantry of Bob Dylan, Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

Thursday, October 13, 2016


A dozen or so years ago, as I was finishing up my Ph.D. dissertation and working as a teaching assistant in the Humanities Program at Revelle College at UCSD, I had the good fortune to be assigned to William Arctander (“Billy”) O’Brien, an absolutely brilliant professor whose specialties included the final installment of a “Great Books” survey for undergraduates, most of whom were pre-med students. This intellectual forced march began in the Winter quarter of the students’ first year, and often started with Homer and Plato. By the end of their sophomore year, in the fifth quarter, the students were often reading Nietzsche and Beckett. O’Brien was the first professor I ever met who included Bob Dylan on his syllabus for this course, and O’Brien most certainly should be savoring his prescience in acknowledging the canonical value of Bob Dylan’s writing. So, too, should Steve Axelrod, whose recent three-volume anthology of American poetry includes a solid set of Bob Dylan’s lyrics (in Volume three, “Postmodernisms”). O’Brien, though, was far ahead of the curve and deserves considerable applause for his academic courage.

Following O’Brien’s example, I also teach Bob Dylan’s lyrics as part of a “Survey on Poetry” course at CSULB, and have always been puzzled at the unwillingness of so many other professors to include him. I doubt that the bestowal of the Nobel Prize on Bob Dylan will change their minds. For many contemporary poets, not much has changed since Robert Lowell conceded in the mid-1960s that Bob Dylan had written some fragments that might be considered poetry, but that he had not written anything that stood on its own all the way through as a poem. Lowell was essentially saying that music had to intervene and prolong the poetic touch of Dylan’s lyrics at the point that language failed in his verses.

It is after citing Lowell in my classes that the students read “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.” No music is played; no singing is heard. We look at the words on the page, and ask if they hold up as a poem. Indeed, the words do sustain the entire poem, and even more remarkably, it also turns out to have been set to a quietly imploring melody. Having established that Bob Dylan’s writing does more than partake of the “poetic,” but unfolds its essential imaginative logic with as much negative capability as Keats ever asked of a poem, we move on to a consideration of David Antin’s observation that Dylan is essentially a collage artist, a description that is most useful when examining “Desolation Row.”

Since teaching Literature always involves introducing student to formal terms, it is at this point that I define epistrophe for the students, and during my remarks on “Desolation Row” I offer other examples of this rhetorical technique. I noticed that the newspaper articles carrying the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature cite many of the musical influences on Bob Dylan, as well as those whose work he has in turn influenced. Not a single article has mentioned Robert Burns, the poet whom Dylan acknowledged as having influenced his songwriting. In particular, of course, Burns would have been an influence in Dylan’s use of epistrophe, starting with “Hard Rain” and “Desolation Row.” “Tangled Up in Blue” remains one of the masterful instances of that ancient rhetorical arrangement, and it would behoove contemporary poets to follow Dylan’s example and draw upon Burns as a model.

One of the pivotal questions about Bob Dylan’s status as a writer and poet is ultimately not about him, but about his audience, for it is not just the selection of Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) for this award that irks those who still cling to Robert Lowell’s assessment. Rather, it is the gnawing suspicion that this award in some way legitimates the audience that Dylan’s writings and music have attracted. “Do the people in his audiences read other books? Other poets?” Behind the all too foreseeable backlash to Dylan’s award, it will not be too difficult to detect a residual fear of the illiterate masses, whose preferences are easily seduced by a charismatic performance in the oral tradition.

I have no doubt that a significant number of people who listen to Dylan’s songs do not spend much time reading the poetry found in contemporary anthologies. His audience, however, also includes many poets whose commitment to their art was shaped by his vision of the public role that a poet could play, if only one dared to be audacious enough. Such a quest requires the one quality that Dylan himself assessed as possibly being the most enduring virtue of his writing: a sense of gallantry. I call upon those who feel reluctant to applaud the award of the Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan to remind themselves of this archaic ideal and to reexamine their own lives and writing within that context.

Thanks to Twitter, I learned of a link to a very thoughtful essay on Bob Dylan by Robert Polito:

Double Bill: “The First Monday in May”; Lynn McGee Interview by Elaine Sexton

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Linda and I recently watched “The First Monday in May,” a very fine documentary film on the intersection of the fashion world and “high art.” The title refers to one of the few days that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is closed to the public; it is hardly empty space, though. The museum hosts a major annual fundraiser on that day, which in the case of this particular film featured an exhibit about the confluence of Chinese fashion on the Western world. I confess that I have never been able to whip up much enthusiasm for fashion or to understand how couture could be an equivalent for literary consciousness. From a very early age, it was clear to me that economic privilege permitted one layer of society to deploy fashion as a way to make those who did not possess any physically attractive features even more marginal and disregarded. It was a way of spitting on another person’s soul.

With the exception of Ron Silliman and his commentary on Project Runway, I have known very few writers or artists who were interested in fashion. After watching “The First Monday in May,” however, I have had a tiny awakening. The challenge of assembling the exhibit and staging the fundraiser proved to be an intense viewing experience. I had to stop it after an hour, in fact. Linda and I felt pulled into the vortex of each moment’s refulgent intentionality: nothing was done outside of a devotion to the exquisiteness of each moment’s possibility. The material and the immaterial embraced each other with complete commitment to the future’s need for present tense rarity. Even if you loathe the idea of fashion more than I did, I urge you to watch this film. It was pure succor.

Poetry remains my primary interest, however, in keeping this blog in motion. I regret that I can’t review as many books as I would like to, but will get to some of them in the next couple of months. Others will just have to wait until next year. In the meantime, I want to post an interview featuring Lynn McGee, one of the poets I have been able to review in recent months (May 11, 2016).

A Conversation Between Poets: Lynn McGee and Elaine Sexton on Loss and Love

A Conversation Between Poets: Lynn McGee and Elaine Sexton on Loss and Love
by Elaine Sexton
October 4, 2016

Should the conversation make you curious about Lynn’s earlier poetry, here is a reading she did on a public access television show I did called “Put Your Ears On”:

The No Handshake Honeymoon of the 45th Presidency

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Art Theater on Fourth Street in Long Beach graciously hosted a screening of the second debate on Sunday evening, and the theater was about two-thirds full. It was much more enjoyable, but also more sobering to watch the encounter on a big screen. Trump’s inordinate pacing around and his hint of physically stalking Clinton stirred up a palpable sense of discomfort in the audience, and it was reassuring to realize that I was not imagining Trump’s imperiousness.

We knew as we took our seats that it was not going to be a pleasant evening, and the event began with unusual awkwardness. The candidates came out on stage. Hillary nodded as they were about eight feet apart, and Trump then pivoted, and did a little skip step to move more center stage, which only made their refusal to greet each other formally more comic. There was considerable laughter at the theater, confirming my decision about the advantage of watching it with a larger community.

In commentary published after the debate, Chris Cillizza bewailed the lack of a handshake between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as they commenced their second debate. “Maybe I am old-fashioned. But I thought it was tremendously depressing that Trump and Clinton couldn’t bring themselves to shake hands at the start of the debate.”

Call it an adumbration of the 45th Presidency of the United States: the no-handshake honeymoon. Why make a pretense of it? When Hillary takes office on January 20th, she’ll know what Barack Obama should have realized eight years ago: The GOP will do everything in its power to undermine her policies. Bi-partisanship is a bad joke at this point, and to expect anyone to act otherwise is being unrealistic.

Truly, Mr. Cillizza, why would you shake hands with someone who says that if he is elected, he will appoint a special prosecutor with the goal of sending you to prison? This is not a policy disagreement. This is a reprehensible fantasy of personal vindictiveness. The outrageous part is the larger context: how many bank officials have gone to prison after bankrupting the nation? The economy completely collapsed at the end of the Bush administration, and only the willingness of taxpayers to bear the burdens of redeeming this catastrophe saved the status quo. Bush and Cheney lied and started an unnecessary war, and yet no prosecution ensued. Does Trump want a special prosecutor to investigate Chris Christie for Bridgegate?

Let’s be blunt in reminding ourselves what we heard during the second debate. Trump called Hillary Clinton “the Devil” and said that she has “tremendous hatred in her heart.” The lack of a handshake is not depressing. It’s just common sense to keep your distance from someone who wishes you ill.

Post-script (Monday, mid-day): I am hardly the only one who is noticing that Hillary Clinton is preparing for a different kind of “First 100 days.” “The campaign against Trump seems to have deepened a trait of (Hillary) Clinton’s: a pessimism about the possibility of political persuasion.”

L.A.’s Literary Cartography — from Libros Schmibros to “Joyland”

Sunday, October 9, 2016

On Friday, October 7, Linda, Laurel Ann Bogen and I went to UCLA’s Powell Library for a reception to honor the permanent installation of a map of literary Los Angeles, which was drawn to scale by artist J. Michael Walker, within ten days of its commissioning, in the Fall of 2011. The haste of its cartography shows not a single wrinkle of the necessary improvisation that had to be part of its contingent, yet deftly evocative sketching. The map is not meant to be a definitive frieze; indeed, almost every figure portrayed on the map abuts a swath of empty space, as if to beckon the oncoming migration of writers past, present, and future.

David Kipen and Colleen Jaurretch, co-founders of Libros Schmibros bookstore, and J. Michael Walker, gave brief talks about the map, which had its debut at the Hammer Museum. The artist mentioned his fondness for the writing of the late Wanda Coleman, and cited in particular “Mad Dog, Black Lady,” the title of a poem I had the honor to publish in Momentum magazine in 1974. Wanda Coleman’s archives have recently been processed by UCLA’s Special Collections, and a display case containing a representative selection of printed material and holographs gave a hint of the resources that have now become available to critics of L.A.-based writing. (At the end of the month, there will be an event to celebrate this acquisition by UCLA’s Special Collections.) An additional display case featured correspondence by Raymond Chandler as well as books by and about another UCLA archival all-star, John Fante, one of which was written by my colleague at CSULB, Stephen Cooper.

Just before the formal presentation began, I spotted novelist and short story writer Julia Glassman in the audience. In the two decades during which I taught an annual fiction writing course at Idyllwild Summer Arts, Julia was one of my very best students, and she went on to get a MFA from the University of Iowa. She now works at the UCLA library, and was soon afterwards the first one to be cited in the roll call of those who had made the evening possible. Her first novel, “Other Life Forms,” was published by Dinah Press in 2012. Her most recent story, “Tourists,” appeared recently in “Joyland,” a superb on-line magazine that takes Peter Schjeldahl’s notion of “transmission cities” as its rubric.

I would highly recommend her novel, her story, and the magazine “Joyland” itself. Here are some links to the bookstore, map, and the magazine.
You can order “Other Life Forms” from Dinah Press at:
P.O. Box 24711
Los Angeles, CA 90024
or go to

In Gratitude: Sgt. Steve Owen; Mollie Lowery; Ray Milefsky

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gratitude has no memory, or so I often grouse to myself; it only recollects the formulaic words that acknowledge service rendered, and then dispenses with any further need to consider the consequences of appreciation. Occasionally, an individual’s contribution is honored by a street or highway being named in her or his honor, but rarely do such passageways intersect. While one person’s extension into the lives of others almost always constitutes a community with no direct contact with another person’s assemblage of comrades, coworkers, friends, and affectionate affiliations, one nevertheless can imagine the possibility of an encounter between the distant trajectories of parallel lives. Perhaps this is the most feasible sense of an afterlife: the moment when we pause and think of those who deserved to have met and shared a long meal, even if their lives seemed extraordinarily different.

In this instance, I call to mind three people: Sgt. Steve Owen; Mollie Lowery; and Ray Milefsky. Sgt. Steve Owen was the most recent of the three to die. According to news sources, a burglary suspect has been arrested on suspicion of being the person who murdered Sgt. Owen when Owen was investigating a burglary in progress in Lancaster, California (in northern Los Angeles County). The tributes to Owen mark him as a model sheriff’s deputy, a man who practiced the virtues of caring for those in need on a daily basis. Mollie Lowery equaled, if not surpassed, Owen in giving of herself to those less fortunate. That fate spared her a violent death seems more a matter of chance, for the homeless population Lowery worked amongst most certainly made her vulnerable to being in the wrong place in the wrong time. Both Owen and Lowery gave of themselves by voluntarily being in “the wrong place” as a matter of heroic vocation. In both DTLA and Lancaster, which is to say both at the center and periphery, their names should meet in mutual honor.

The third person I have mentioned, Ray Milefsky, lived on the other side of the country. His public service was more bureaucratically conventional, and yet he seems to have had the gift of resolving boundary disputes in a manner that forestalled violent confrontations. His abilities required hard-won knowledge of both geography and culture, and it will not be easy to replace him with someone of equal dexterity. Milefsky’s friends and associates considered him a polyglot, but the most intimate language he spoke was the one heard in the soul’s ear, the emphatic whisper heard at great distances by Owen and Lowery, too: reconciliation is unceasing; whatever you do to bring that about, let not the lack of gratitude dismay you. Let each life be a prayer of gratitude unto itself. As for those who mourn, let the final, inconsolable syllable somehow be uttered in hopeful grief.

Mollie Lowery (August 2, 1945 – July 25, 2016)
Ray Milefsky (February 20, 1949 – August 1, 2016)
Sgt. Steve Owen (died in the line of duty, October 5, 2016)

(In Gratitude)
If our voices are lifted in radiant praise
through sleepless nights and tumultuous days,
then let us remember the source of our grace
and know that redemption is now taking place.

(Note: The above fragment of a hymn was written on a walk, on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 – 8:20 – 8:33 p.m.)


Bordermap Consulting

The “Stamina” Gap between Hillary Clinton and the American Worker

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The “Stamina” Gap between Hillary Clinton and the American Worker

Donald Trump has raised the question of the “presidential look” of Hillary Clinton. What he means by this is unadulterated sexist bullshit. Hillary is not a male; therefore, she is not “presidential.” Of course, even Mr. Trump knows the counterproductive limits of that crude dismissal, so of course he turns his attention to a claim that Hillary Clinton lacks stamina.

Her response in the first debate was defined within her personal capacity to serve as a public official with a very demanding schedule. Since she is the candidate under scrutiny, one could understand her inclination to keep the parameters individual; but in stopping there, and in only talking about her personal stamina, she missed an opportunity to diffuse the critique that Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be President is “all about me,” as if it were a referendum on her self-worth and how much she has endured in order to be a famous feminist.

If she is faced with the question of stamina again, she would be well advised to turn the discussion to the stamina of American working people, for it is we who deserve praise for our resilience. Privileged people such as Donald Trump, who had wealth handed to them as start-up entrepreneurs, have no idea of how much stamina is needed to endure a tax system in which real estate manipulation provides people such as Trump a domestic tax haven that is nothing short of scandalous. Trump is clueless as to what is entailed in trying to survive on unemployment benefits, or the psychological toll exacted on marriages in which one of the spouses becomes long-term unemployed?

If Trump is popular amongst some portions of the American electorate, it is in no part due to the exhaustion of American workers. Even those with immense stamina are not indefatigable, and I fear that the numbness of economic exhaustion has brought about a “thousand yard stare” – the look that soldiers get when they cannot take another step or even hear another order. Too many workers have been asked to do too much for too little reward for too long. The result is that any fast-talking con artist who comes along with jingoist promises has a good chance of securing their vote.

Clinton needs to address the needs of these workers with more than promises of job training. What are her plans, for instance, for the millions of truck drivers who will be unemployed after self-driving trucks merge onto the freeways of commerce? And what about the thousands upon thousands of people (especially in the Baby Boomer generation) who have never found any employment in the aftermath of the Great Recession?

It is not Hillary Clinton’s stamina that needs to be discussed, but the extraordinary capacity of American workers to do more than should be expected of them and to wake up the next morning and do it again. A temperament of self-discipline and willingness to consider the needs of others is at the heart of one’s capacity to endure and renew a community’s sense of shared prosperity. Without that sense of social stamina, the non-stop onslaught of social presentations by politicians is just a circus side-show. It is our stamina as working people that deserves to be touted, and then made the center of attention in every policy decision.