Archive for November, 2016

Garrison Keillor weighs in on Trump’s victory

November 9, 2016

Article published in the Washington Post by Garrison Keillor on 11/9/2016

So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out, and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting “Lock her up” — we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted “Stronger Together.” It just doesn’t chant.

The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple of six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, bird-watchers, people who make their own pasta, opera-goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth.

Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones, and they will not like what happens next.

To all the patronizing B.S. we’ve read about Trump expressing the white working-class’s displacement and loss of the American Dream, I say, “Feh!” — go put your head under cold water. Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity. America is still the land where the waitress’s kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians, but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren’t plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.

We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long , brisk walk and smell the roses.

I like Republicans. I used to spend Sunday afternoons with a bunch of them, drinking Scotch and soda and trying to care about NFL football. It was fun. I tried to think like them. (Life is what you make it. People are people. When the going gets tough, tough noogies.) But I came back to liberal elitism.

Don’t be cruel. Elvis said it, and it’s true. We all experienced cruelty back in our playground days — boys who beat up on the timid, girls who made fun of the homely and naive — and most of us, to our shame, went along with it, afraid to defend the victims lest we become one of them. But by your 20s, you should be done with cruelty. Mr. Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. How he won on fear and bile is for political pathologists to study. The country is already tired of his noise, even his own voters. He is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Herbert Hoover. His children will carry the burden of his name. He will never be happy in his own skin. But the damage he will do to our country — who knows? His supporters voted for change, and boy, are they going to get it.

Back to real life. I went up to my home town the other day and ran into my gym teacher, Stan Nelson, looking good at 96. He commanded a landing craft at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and never said a word about it back then, just made us do chin-ups whether we wanted to or not. I saw my biology teacher Lyle Bradley, a Marine pilot in the Korean War, still going bird-watching in his 90s. I was not a good student then, but I am studying both of them now. They have seen it all and are still optimistic. The past year of politics has taught us absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. The future is scary. Let the uneducated have their day. I am now going to pay more attention to teachers.

Fat, Drunk and stupid

November 9, 2016

I have a bad feeling about this.

Election days—in this country, in my experience—are supposed to be hopeful days. They usually feel restorative, even if the candidates I favor seem bound to lose. (I am used toand probably more comfortable—being in the minority.) But it seems the best case today is that a clear and present danger might be avoided and a competent but divisive caretaker elected, largely by people who feel they are voting in self-defense.

I don’t want to rehash everything—Hillary Clinton has been targeted and harassed for more than three decades, and much of what some people believe about her simply isn’t true. But she was a problematic candidate from the very beginning, and she’s had trouble articulating a compelling case why she should be president other than she’s better than the alternative and that her years of service somehow entitle her to the position.

And though that’s reason enough to vote for her, it’s not enough to make some of us feel good about it. Clinton is a firewall candidate, maybe our last best hope, but it’s disturbing that so many of us are willing to support a man who quite plainly and transparently represents the worst aspects of our anti-intellectual, fear-driven society. It’s neither my job or inclination to make predictions, but my best guess is that Donald Trump will come perilously close to winning the presidency today.

If he does win, I do not think he will put me in prison immediately. But I would not put it past him to try.

Some of you would enjoy that. I know because you’ve told me so. Unless a whole lot of people are having a lot of fun with the pollsters, Trump will win Arkansas. He has the support of a governor who, in ordinary circumstances, would probably not suffer his boorishness at his dinner table. He has the affection of an attorney general who seems to believe that the people of Arkansas have positioned her to try out for the cable league shout shows. We have seen what some people will sell themselves for; we should remember those Republicans who put “team” before country.

For the last time, I want to say it plain: Trump is unfit to be president. He lies. He cheats. He’s a bad businessman and a bad American. He’s a bully who keeps score and you shouldn’t trust him around your teenage daughter, much less the nuclear football.

If you support him out of fear, you should be ashamed, for nothing noble is ever achieved from fear. If you honestly believe that for all his flaws and lies and craven advantage-taking he still represents the best way forward for this nation, then I can do nothing for you, son. The propaganda worked on you. Lee Atwater—I hope to God in heaven—is weeping because his plans worked too well.

But hey, it’s all over now. Tomorrow we’ll know, and most of us are going to accept it. There will be some grumbling, but I hope no real drama or ugliness. On Wednesday we can let this gothough some won’t. Some are already running for 2020, and don’t care how damaging this neverending campaign is to the quality of American life. Whoever the president-elect is, there’s going to be a ginned-up machine raking cash away from the scaredy Americans.

There’s going to be someone on the radio or the Internet sobbing about how someone’s coming to get their guns and that Sandy Hook was some false put-up job.

You have to be a grown-up, you have to understand that most conspiracy theories are comic book-level narratives spun by cynical people hoping to get rich off the naivety of those susceptible to that kind of story-telling. A lot of things that happen aren’t planned in secret by a cabal of insiders. Some things are, but usually we find out pretty quickly because human beings have trouble keeping secrets and any plan with a lot of moving parts is liable to fall apart at any time.

The real way to rig an election is to gerrymander congressional districts so even if a majority of Americans vote for the other party you’ll end up with more House seats. (As an institution, the U.S. House of Representatives is about as irritating and insensible as the Baseball Hall of Fame.) The real way to rig an election is to collect and spend enough money to scare off any challengers. The real way to rig an election is to enact legislation designed to change the composition of the electorate by making it difficult for certain demographic groups to exercise their right to vote.

If we were genuinely interested in having as many eligible Americans as possible participate in the democratic process, we’d make it easier to vote. We’d have registration drives in homeless shelters. We’d let people vote on the Internet or through the mail. We’d accept a little more risk of voter fraud—which, despite what you may have heard on your favorite news channel, is virtually non-existent under the current system—in exchange for a higher turnout.

I’m not saying I’m for those things. I don’t necessarily want to encourage people who aren’t terribly interested in politics to vote. I sure don’t want to shame them into it. Our Constitution ought to be strong enough to guarantee the rights of the apolitical to ignore the ladies and gentlemen in the bad (pant) suits turning rhetorical cartwheels on the periphery of the American attention span. I’m sick of people who want me to vote for them telling me how brave and honest and close to God and overall worthy they are—I’d prefer it if they’d just drop off their résumés and stay off the TV.

Anyway, tomorrow is coming. And no matter what happens, no one is coming to take our guns. No one is going to make us any greater than our spirits will allow. Make no mistake, we are getting what we deserve. We need to start taking this stuff seriously, we need to stop listening to those who tell us we’re the best and the brightest and that nothing is our fault.

To paraphrase Dean Wormer, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through history, America.

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Philip Martin is a columnist and critic for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at and read his blog at

Ken Gaines talks about epitaphs

November 9, 2016

This was a Facebook post from a musical friend – I admire him for a lot of reasons, many of which involve his immense skills as a songwriter and singer, but mostly because he is a beautiful, thoughtful, peaceful and intelligent man. I felt I should preserve his post here for the record.

Your quote for the day: “Excuse my dust.” Dorothy Parker suggesting her epitaph.

Hi Folks,
What is it you would prefer to leave behind when you’re no longer here, kicking up the dust of the past? Wealth for your children… tangible works of art or construction… memories in those who knew you? All of these are wonderful. I’d love to leave behind some extra cash for the kids to make their lives a little easier. It probably won’t happen. I know I’ll be leaving behind songs, writings, and works of visual art most of you know nothing about. And I’ve had a hand in building a lot of structures, from fancy bars and cabinets to chicken coops.

Memories? I’d like to think that friends and family will have fond memories of me… as long as they themselves can remember. But, in the end, “it’s all gonna fade”.

What I’d really like to leave behind is love; the love that has been given to me, and that which I have to give, and pass on. I believe love is the one powerful, positive thing that lasts. It grows when you feed it and share it with those who, in turn, share it with others. It won’t buy you a beer. It won’t have your signature on it. You won’t be able to copyright it. But you’ll be a part of it as it flows along… forever.

So, excuse my dust. And, I love you. Pass it on. It’s free. And, there’s true freedom in it.


Thanks Ken!

(Anyone recognize the Paul Simon quote from “Still Crazy After All These Years?”)


Politics – as usual?

November 4, 2016

Here’s a timely little article pulled from the Log Cabin today (11/4/16)

Jefferson/Adams was Clinton/Trump of it’s day

Politics are such a torment that I would advise everyone I love not to mix with them. Wait, that’s not me talking in 2016. That was Thomas Jefferson, writing to his daughter in 1800.

In other words — if it makes us feel any better, if perspective can perchance calm our nerves — the 1800 presidential campaign was just as vicious as what what we’re seeing now.

Incumbent President John Adams and his surrogates slimed Jefferson as a God-hater who, if elected, would close the churches and import French revolutionaries to wreak violent havoc upon the land and foment “the insurrection of the Negroes in the southern states.” Adams’ surrogates called Jefferson “an open infidel” who, if elected, “will be a center of contagion to the whole continent.”

One pro-Adams tract (akin to a superPAC TV ad) warned the people of Delaware that “if Jefferson is elected, the morals which protect our lives from the knife of the assassin, which guard the chastity of our wives and daughters from seduction and violence, defend our property from plunder and devaluation, and shield our religion from contempt and profanation, will be trampled upon and exploded.” If Jefferson is elected, Americans would become “more ferocious than savages, more bloody than tigers, more impious than demons.” And the top pro-Adams newspaper (the Fox News of its day) blared the slogan “JEFFERSON — AND NO GOD!!!”

Jefferson finally gave up trying to fact-check his accusers: “It has been so impossible to contradict all the lies that I have determined to contradict none; for while I should engage with one, they would publish 20 new ones.”

But Jefferson and his allies slimed Adams as a war-mongering dictator who wore “a mask for monarchy,” who, if re-elected, would whack the average citizen with higher and higher taxes in order to support a massive military buildup and thus burden “an enslaved and impoverished people.” Indeed, “the foundation for monarchy is already laid.” A vote for Adams was framed as a vote for “war and beggary.”

Jefferson’s surrogates, in their mass-produced pamphlets (the social media of their day), also slimed Adams as a rank hypocrite, because even though Adams routinely denounced slavery, he still had three slaveholders in his Cabinet.

Jefferson’s face is on a coin today, and Adams stars in an HBO series, but back in their day, voters basically saw that campaign as a choice between the lesser of two evils. (Which should sound familiar.) One disgruntled pro-Jefferson guy wrote, “Now I don’t know that John Adams is a hypocrite, or Jefferson a Deist” — a synynom for a God-hater — “yet supposing they are, I am of the opinion the last ought to be preferred to the first (because) a secret enemy is worse than an open one.”

And even though Washington D.C. was a brand new city, people already hated its partisan fervor. One government official wrote, “No stranger can be here a day and converse with the proprietors without conceiving himself in the company of crazy people.”

So. Do we all feel a lot better knowing that, as William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead, it’s not even past”? That America (then and presumably now) can survive even the most twisted lies and slanders?

Oh well. It was worth a try.

Copyright 2016 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia ( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. Email him at


November 3, 2016

From the Log Cabin in late October 2016 – Article by Marisa Hicks – Log Cabin Staff Writer


Marisa Hicks Staff photo

The “Living Legend” No. 804 was the last steam locomotive Union Pacific purchased. It was bought in December 1944 and has yet to be retired. At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the high-speed passenger engine made a pit stop in Conway before leaving back home to Cheyenne, Wyoming.


Union Pacific’s “Living Legend” rolled through Conway on its way home to Wyoming on Tuesday, making a brief stop at the Main Street crossing.

“People are fascinated with steam locomotives, young and old,” Ed Dickens Jr., engineer and senior manager of heritage operations for Union Pacific, said.

Union Pacific purchased the “Living Legend” No. 844, a high-speed passenger train, in December 1944. It was the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific.

“The engine has run hundreds of thousands of miles as Union Pacific’s ambassador of goodwill,” a Conway Police Department press release states. “It has made appearances at Expo ’74 in Spokane, the 1981 opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans and the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Los Angeles Union Station in 1989.”

Conway resident Sam Ledbetter stopped by Simon Park on Tuesday to catch a glimpse of No. 844.

Ledbetter, who is a train enthusiast, said his interest in trains arose in 1981, noting he was a fan of big steam engines.

“Just the aura of the engine itself is amazing,” he said.

No. 844 last traveled through Conway in 2012, Dickens said.

He said steam locomotives “are an iconic symbol of the greatness of America,” noting the “Living Legend” has yet to be retired since its 1944 purchase.


Marisa Hicks Staff Photo

Union Pacific workers watch as the “LIving Legend” pulls into Conway while keeping onlookers at a safe distance from the old steam locomotive.

“You don’t have to be a train enthusiast to appreciate [it],” he said.

The locomotive made a 15-minute pit stop in Conway at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before leaving for home in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Dickens said that while trains are remarkable to see, he wanted to caution onlookers to always be safe around railroad tracks.

img_1389Me and the train