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Bob Whitcomb’s Digital Diary: Donald Trump’s Emails and Pearl Harbor

Thursday, November 03, 2016

 

Bob Whitcomb

One-way hacking; bye-bye Boomers, please; Walloons see wisdom; too-perfect villages; see Remember Pearl Harbor

"The acrid scents of autumn,
Reminiscent of slinking beasts, make me fear"


--- D. H. Lawrence,  from the poem "Dolor of Autumn"

 

Especially this year.

If only we had access to Donald Trump’s e-mails, too! Not to mention all  of his income-tax returns. But then, Mr. Trump is the candidate of Vladimir Putin, for whom Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks work. The hacking in the presidential campaign has been one-way, against Hillary Clinton, whose secretiveness paradoxically helped get herself into this very public mess.

 

At a 2008  real-estate conference in New York, Donald Trump Jr. said: "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. ... We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." Loans, perhaps?

Mr. Trump made millions bringing the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Russia, which a Putin ally partly financed. The Donald bragged, "Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room" in a post-pageant party.

Paul Manafort

And Paul Manafort,  Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, ran an investment fund for a Russian aluminum tycoon. Mr. Manafort was an adviser to Ukraine’s former pro-Putin government, overthrown in 2014 because most Ukrainians wanted closer ties to the West, not to Putin’s kleptocratic police state.

None of this is to say that Hillary Clinton wasn’t grossly irresponsible to put so much stuff in e-mails via private servers instead of using the State Department’s  apparently antiquated system. Will the Hillary Horror Show (I’m typing this on Halloween) teach not just government officials but all citizens to spend less time e-mailing and more time in real, person-to-person conversations about sensitive matters? I was about to suggest more phone calls in lieu of e-mails but of course they can be hacked, too.

 

NOTHING is safe online.

 

The e-mail revelations  (especially regarding the Clinton Foundation) also demonstrate that the Clintons, but particularly Bill, are ethical trimmers and, by some measures, corrupt, if probably legally so. Their  greed, sense of privilege and arrogance in mingling  work for government, for-profit and nonprofit organizations  to expand their influence and keep the millions rolling in has lowered the reputation of public service. A real tragedy given the Clintons’ high intelligence, work ethic and, in some areas, idealism.

 

An example of how the Clintons too often  act as though the rules don’t apply to them: They didn’t apply for the necessary permits for renovating a house they bought last summer next to their own in Chappaqua, N.Y., in order to create a family compound. They just went ahead and started the project.

 

xxx

 

Clinton and Trump

Of course, generations are composed of individuals and so I’m leery of  generalizing about them but the Trump and Clinton sagas remind me of why I’ll be happy to see the Baby Boomer generation pass from the scene, or at least from public life.  It’s hard to quantify what sort of socio-economic and psychological mix went into a cohort with so many greedy and self-absorbed people.

 

Were too many Boomers (of which I’m an elderly one) spoiled by their parents? Did they pick up too many messages from the mass media that one owed prime allegiance to the trinity of Me, Myself and I?  Was it the rampant materialism of the post-World War II consumer culture as promoted on TV? The Boomers were the first  generation to grow up with the ambiguous charms of the tube.

 

Whatever it was, it produced a generation far too many members of which have lacked the  probity and sense of duty to engage in disinterested (which does not means uninterested) public service and displayed astonishing greed – on Wall Street, in Washington and elsewhere.

 

Thus we have the ethically compromised but smart and sane Hillary Clinton vs. a Baby Boomer sociopath who continues to keep much about himself secret.  I wonder how much will finally come out about Mr. Trump if he wins the election. If Mrs. Clinton wins, I hope that she has the good sense to move to close the conflict-of-interest monster called the Clinton Foundation (which has done some very good things) and transfer all the assets to, say, the Ford Foundation.

 

xxx

 

And so EZ Pass has replaced the toll booths with humans (remember them?) on the Massachusetts Turnpike. This will presumably reduce congestion, speed up traffic, save the state money and reduce air pollution (from idling vehicles). It will also give law-enforcement personnel the opportunity to monitor the travel of suspicious people but, also,  when EZ Pass is hacked (which of course it will be), it will let  bad actors obtain what honest drivers  might think is personal information about their activities.

 

For convenience sake, we’ve signed into an ever more pervasive surveillance society.

 

Of course, one aim in all this is to lay off people. I wonder if some of the laid-off toll collectors might be rehired by the state to work at those turnpike rest stops with restaurants and gas stations to provide guidance for lost or curious travelers. Few people know a region’s roads and interesting sites  and services as well as  turnpike toll collectors.

 

xxx

 

In one of the nuttier episodes in the trade wars,  the government of Wallonia, the poorer, French-speaking part of Belgium, held up for days a trade deal between the European Union and Canada. Finally, concessions were made to the Walloons aimed at protecting their farmers and Rust Belt-style businesses from being hit hard by competition with multinational companies, and the pact was signed.

 

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which backers predict will boost trade by 20 percent between  Canada and the E.U., will now go into effect.

 

I can understand the opposition of many people in Europe and the U.S. to international trade that seems to have benefited the elite and not the middle class, but  we should be expanding trade within the West as much as possible to strengthen the world’s core of democracy, human rights (including labor rights) and environmental protection. It’s trade with police state China that has done the most damage. Cut U.S. trade with China, Russia and other dictatorships as much as possible and boost it with Western Europe,  Canada, Australia, New  Zealand, as well as with India, Japan and Taiwan and a few other non-Western nations that share many of our democratic values.

 

Western nations need to circle the wagons and do as much as they can to  better compete with China and other dictatorships.  We need a free-trade zone with all the Western democracies. That doesn’t mean a larger  version  of the European Union, which, with its noneconomic elements, is quite something else. Rather we need, first off,  what used to be called the “European Common Market’’ expanded to include the U.S. and Canada while boosting NATO to stop Russian aggression.

 

xxx

 

 

In Winsted, Conn., there’s a new  temple to one of America’s best known characteristics – its litigiousness. In that small city in the Litchfield Hills, famous consumer litigator Ralph Nader has founded the American Museum of Tort Law, which involves cases of wrongful injury.

 

In the museum are such exhibits as a Chevrolet Corvair, which Mr. Nader helped drive off the road (see his book Unsafe at Any Speed), unsafe toys and the Dalkon Shield IUD.

 

The museum shows how tort law evolved within English Common Law and American law up to the present, including (to me) such silly cases as that brought against McDonald’s after someone scalded herself with its hot coffee. And the plan is to build a replica of a courtroom.

 

As the pyramids were tributes to pharaohs, so the museum, in a beautiful old bank building, will be to the 82-year-old Mr. Nader.

 

By the way, Winsted, a  small former  factory city  in the Litchfield Hills, is famous for having the buildings on one side of its Main Street swept away in 1955 by the surging Mad River in torrential rains produced by Hurricane Diane, giving the downtown a slightly surreal quality,  which the tort museum will intensify.

 

xxx

 

In other Nutmeg State news, 1,300 fans of a TV show called Gilmore Girls  last month descended on the town of Washington, which is supposed to have inspired the improbably quaint and pretty town called “Stars Hollow’’ in the show.  Steven Kurutz, of The New York Times, noted: {T}hey {the fans} wanted to do the impossible: to experience in a waking life  a dream town built on a studio backlot.’’

 

I know Washington, Conn., having gone to school in nearby Watertown, Conn. It’s very pretty, but of course not nearly as Norman Rockwellian as the TV show. Will the new publicity about Washington cause it to be overrun for a long stretch to come? No. There are even prettier towns in Connecticut.

 

The story reminded me of the invasion of Cohasset, Mass., on the ocean about 45 minutes east southeast of Boston, when some of the movie The Witches of Eastwick, based on the eponymous Updike novel, was shot  in the ’80s after the folks in the also lovely town of Little Compton, R.I., decided that they didn’t want a Hollywood invasion. I grew up in Cohasset and can testify that there was a full quota of bad and sad behavior there by the then Greatest Generation’s young to middle aged adults – adultery, alcoholism, suicide. The cuteness of Cohasset wasn’t enough to ward off evil spirits. It’s  a good place for witches.

 

Finally, the Gilmore Girls case reminds me of how nice Providence looked in the NBC show of the same name back in the ‘90s. Indeed, virtually perfect.

 

My wife and I have a friend, Vicki Mercer,  M.D., a pediatrician and former TV scriptwriter who was the adviser on medicine for the show, which revolved around a young and attractive female doctor prospering in the “Providence Renaissance’’. Vicki took us to the studio in Los Angeles where the interior scenes, including of the physician’s house, were shot. Somewhat eerily, I discovered that the outside shot of the doctor’s house was of  the house of a late aunt and uncle of mine on the East Side of Providence.

 

The show would have been more interesting if it had included more scenes  of the tougher aspects of Providence but the producers were, after all, pushing escapism, not education.

 

XXX

 

U.S.S. Arizona, Pearl Harb

There will be a preview showing of a new documentary by the World War II Foundation, Remember Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941, at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence.

The film will be followed at 2:30 with a Q&A with director Tim Gray (a Rhode Islander) and World War II veterans. Special guests will include  Pearl Harbor survivors.

The film’s official premiere will be held Dec. 4 in Hawaii as part of the official

 75th anniversary ceremonies marking the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which put America into World War II.

For more information, including how to get tickets to the Nov. 13 event, CLICK HERE

 

Related Slideshow: Trump in Worcester

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans like this young supporter made signs of their own to show their support for the Donald. They could be seen dotting the line waiting to enter the DCU Center.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

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This young man's pants left no doubt. He is a big fan of two things—Donald Trump, and the United States of America.

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These two said they were proud to support Donald Trump in his bid for the Presidency.

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For these Trump fans, it was a family affair. The whole bunch turned out to support their favorite candidate.

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The cold weather didn't bother this Trump fan. He said he decided to purchase a Donald Trump-branded jacket or sweatshirt inside the DCU Center.

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These two Trump fans were "red"-y to see their hero in action!

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These clever protestors turned Donald Trump's famous catchphrase around on him. 

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There were plenty of young fans on hand for Donald Trump's speech in Worcester. These two made their feelings on Trump, and his immigration stance, very clear.

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Trump had the chance to see him name up in lights on the DCU Center jumbo-screen. It must have been quite the thrill!

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Donald Trump made his entrance at roughly 7:30 PM to nearly deafening applause. He paused for a moment to soak it all in.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump walked confidently to the podium after being introduced as the large crowd cheer and chanted his name.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans inside were loud, and cheered the Donald often. They also made sure to snap their own photos of their favorite candidate while they had the chance.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump fans in Massachusetts came from near and far to get a glimpse of Donald Trump live and in person.

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Standing room only—the DCU Center was nearly filled with supporters who got on their feet early and stayed there for most of Trump's hour-long speech.

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Even inside the DCU Center, Trump could not escape the protestors. These unhappy attendees attracted a lot of attention, but were whisked out of the arena by security after only a few seconds.

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Trump said time and time again to the crowd gathered in Worcester that he would "make America great again" through smart immigration and trade policies.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump said he was glad to be in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and pleased fans by talking about the greatness of hometown hero Tom Brady.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump was all smiles when one of his jokes drew big laughs from the crowd of supporters.

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Donald Trump at the DCU Center

Trump supporters chanted his famous slogan, "make America great again," before, during and after his speech at the DCU Center.

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When Donald Trump finally finished his speech, he drew the loudest applause of the night. Fans waved signs, chanted his name and tried desperately to snap one last photo of their departing hero.

 
 

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