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Searching for Good Things

Is it irresponsible to write about anything but TRUMP? I can't get away from him. None of us can. At least with "The Apprentice," we could turn to another channel. Now he's on all our TVs – 24-7-365.

It's a tsunami of bad news: his press conference, his lies, his attacks on the press. Flynn out, Pruitt confirmed. The whole "shit sandwich" – in some form or another -- every day.

Will he be impeached, or will he be forced to resign? I'm pretty sure that he's not going to last the full four years. Not with a first month like he's had. But it's going to be a bumpy ride for the whole country on the way to disaster.

So I grasp for Good Things in the meantime and look for the beach glass in the tsunami.

GOOD THINGS

I've been spending lots of time with my grandson Calder whose vocabulary and facility with language are growing every time I see him. He's now pointing to everything and demanding, "Name." He's putting together simple sentences like "I made it" and "I did it." It's thrilling to see this little boy's skills develop right before my eyes.

I started thinking back on the philosophy of language and linguistics I studied in college. Chomsky was the rage then, and I read SYNTACTIC STRUCTURES and some of his other writings. His work on language acquisition and universal grammar pre-date his now more famous political writings, but for me, he'll always be the father of modern linguistics and one of the intellectual giants of our age.

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Falling Slowly

It was a bad week for the Trump Administration, which means it was a bad week for us all.

Or was it? Do we want Trump to "succeed" or "fail?"

The mistakes, large and small, are already piling up:

Trump lost, 3-0, in his first tangle with the judiciary over his Muslim ban.

Trump's National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had to resign.  He lied to the Vice-President about his shady involvement with Russia, discussing sanctions before the election, clearly and publicly revealing his duplicity and possibly violating the Logan Act. (But that's an old story for Republicans: the subject for another blog perhaps.)  

There was even a typo on Trump's Official Inauguration Poster!

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Macro-Life and Micro-Life

From now on, we are all living two lives: a macro-life in the choatic World of Donald Trump, where we are subject to the whims and blunders of this woefully in-over-his head man, and a micro-life in private with our friends, co-workers, and families, where things can be quite nice.

How do we live both these lives at once and reconcile them? I'm not really sure. Nothing is normal anymore. And we all know that things are going to get worse.

So what to do?

DO SOMETHING

This week I made phone calls to Republican senators in opposition to the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I called Susan Collins of Maine several times and left respectful messages on her voice-mail. (Never got a live body to talk to.) I also sent e-mails. When Collins came out against DeVos, I switched and contacted Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and left messages.

As I've written before, I'm the son of a teacher and the father of a teacher, so I especially abhor the selection of Betsy DeVos, the enemy of public education whom Trump has chosen to be Secretary of Education. (The tragic/comic analogies are virtually endless: "It's like asking John Wayne Gacy to be your babysitter." ... "It's like asking Jeffrey Dahmer to be your chef.")

I am the product of public education – at least, K-12. I had great, dedicated teachers all through my childhood, and they prepared me for the world-class higher education I got at Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, and in Dublin. When I see the way that the Republican Party, exemplified by Ms. DeVos, has slandered, denigrated, and conspired to ruin public education in this county – and profit by its ruination -- it makes me sick.

Part of it is political: teachers' unions are an important source of support (both financial and person power) for the Democratic Party, so to weaken public education and the teachers who advocate for it is a way to Defund the Left. Part of it is religious: religious zealots are trying to find a way to make the public pay for religious education. Part of it is ideological: the twin chimeras of "choice" and "the free market" blind ideologues to the reality that one good system for all is the only rational, cost-effective way for a society to provide the greatest good for the greatest number.

DeVos looks like the most vulnerable of Trump's choices though Tom Price for HHS, Scott Prutt for EPA, and Andy Puzder for Labor are equally bad. As I'm typing this – on Monday, February 8th – I don't know when the vote for DeVos will occur, but it looks like the Democrats are going to try to hold the Senate floor all night to protest the selection of DeVos. RESIST!!

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