Tag Archives: President Trump


Where Will the Secret Service Agents Be When Warren Needs Them in the Presidential Election Debates?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Where Will the Secret Service Be
When Senator Elizabeth Warren Needs Them
in the Presidential Election Debates?

Reality TV impeachment is just a sideshow. The likelihood that the House of Representatives will vote to indict President Trump on charges of seeking the assistance of a foreign government in his re-election campaign should not obscure the fact that a trial in the Senate would not last more than a week, if in fact it even goes that long. Precedent will permit the Republicans in the Senate to call the question about a motion to dismiss the case, after staging a superficial examination of evidence, and the matter will become a campaign footnote.

The Senate’s “Not guilty” verdict will, unfortunately, only encourage Mr. Trump’s relentless desire to win an election by any means necessary. “Election rules are for little people,” Trump has all but said, ever since he launched his first campaign. If readers hear an echo of the infamous statement about taxes by one of Trump’s fellow members of New York’s upper crust, I assure you it is intentional.

The political necessity of impeachment is, however, akin to that ominous moment in the last election’s debates when Trump left his podium to stalk Clinton as she spoke. It was one of the most unsettling moments of male aggression in a mass media forum that I have ever witnessed, and I know that I am hardly alone in wishing that Hillary Clinton had immediately upbraided his contemptuous behavior. Linda and I watched that scene on a movie screen with hundreds of my fellow citizens at the Art Theater in Long Beach, and one could feel an immediate, palpable desire in that movie theater for Clinton to defend herself. In retrospect, she has spoken about the ambivalence she experienced as to how to act at that moment.

Given Mr. Trump’s past behavior, in fact, I believe that at least two Secret Service agents should be assigned specifically to curtail, if not preclude, such behavior on stage, should Elizabeth Warren win the nomination. No one should be caught off-guard by Mr. Trump’s tendency to repeat previous behavior that has been successful; he willingly accepted Russian’s assistance in the 2016 election, and there is substantial evidence that he has recently solicited the assistance of the president of the Ukraine in acquiring damaging material about a major potential opponent in next year’s election.

As such, it should be assumed that Mr. Trump’s stage protocol for future presidential debates will include physical intimidation, and it is the job of the Service Service to protect the candidate by any means necessary from any predation on her stage space. It is shameful — utterly shameful — that the United States is run by a man who has demonstrated so little respect for women that additional vigilance must be mounted to grant a candidate a sense of personal safety on a public stage.

Poetry Political Graphics

“Wichita Vortex Sutra” and the Valentine’s Day High School Massacre

February 15, 2018

“Language language almost all our language has been taxed by war.”

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems is one of the dozen best first book of poems ever published in the United States. It is rare for a first book to have several poems that end up being frequently anthologized in the half-century following the book’s initial printing, and Ginsberg’s reputation will continue to derive not only from these reprinting, but from the sheer physical presence of his first book. I believe that over a million copies are in circulation, an impressive figure for any book, let alone a volume of poems.

As is the case with musicians, where one’s toughest audience is one’s fellow practitioners, poets often prefer the work of fellow poets that is less known than their most popular work. In Ginsberg’s case, “Wichita Vortex Sutra” is often cited as a favorite poem. I remember including a portion of it in an anti-war theatrical presentation I put together at the Burbage Theater in 1974. “WVS” was recently on display in a drawing by Dominic McGill at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. McGill’s conversion of Ginsberg’s text into a labyrinth of lines included a vortex of words pouring from the dark screen of a television set like an insidious transfusion of diabolical plasma. Given the exacerbated use of social media by politicians, especially as regards the obnoxious diplomacy of the White House, Ginsberg’s poem seems more relevant than ever. President Trump seems intent on making the Korean peninsula an even more devastating scene of carnage than Vietnam, and Trump’s use of language continues to tax our patience and the limits of our patriotism.

Trump’s reaction to the Valentine’s Day mass murder at a high school in Florida is an all too typical example of his inability to go beyond an obvious comment.

“”My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school. We are working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting.”

In this three sentence tweet, Trump ends two of them with the phrase “the terrible Florida school shooting.” Does he really believe that we are incapable of assessing the magnitude of this event unless he repeats the word “terrible”?

But of course what is truly terrible is that Trump’s “we” is not working with anyone to change the gun laws. Notice that Trump says nothing in the third sentence about how to make American schools safer. What was needed in his tweet was not a trite reference to the current employees of law enforcement, but a promise to advocate the enforcement of new laws regarding gun control.

Instead, Trump’s budget proposal reduces funds for background checks of those who wish to purchase weapons. He does not care about the safety of children and their teachers as anything other than a public pose.


I started my late afternoon class yesterday by telling students that I’ll never be able to watch Some Like It Hot again in quite the same way. Billy Wilder’s great film opens with a scene that invokes the infamous Valentine’s Day massacre of the Depression-Era gang wars in Chicago. No matter how much love, in the years ahead, comes into the lives of the families that endured Florida’s Valentine’s Day massacre first-hand, the anniversaries of this sentimental celebration will be horrifically imbrued with this memory and its cauterizing loss.