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Ida Presti, May 31, 1924 — April 24, 1967

Fifty years ago today, Ida Presti —the great guitarist of the 20th century died in Rochester, N.Y. while on tour. She suffered a massive internal hemorrhage.  She was 42. She had given up a solo career to play duets with her husband Alexandre LaGoya. She was magnificent. Here is a link to my favorite piece by this great pair of artists,









— How come in 2005 Donald J. Trump paid a federal income tax rate of 24 percent, and I paid a higher percentage? My income was somewhat south of Trump’s $150 million. In 1963, a married couple that earned more than $400k filing jointly would have paid a 91 percent tax. Those were the days. The rate was lowered to 70 percent in 1964. In 2004 under the war-mongering, scum-bucket. moronic administration of Bush II, the rate was lowered to 35 percent, which Trump managed to avoid even that rate.

— How is it some Tucson veterinarians charge as much as $800 to clean canine teeth and mine charges $215?

— What will be the effect of a 28 percent budget cut in the State Department? And when did the filthy-rich, oil-soaked Secretary of State become mute?

— A letter by a Mr. William Lindberg in today’s Star says: “In the fiscal year 2016 there were 19,828 border agents apprehending 364,768 illegals at a cost of $3,642,820,000 or $9,986 per apprehension and 18.4 apprehensions per agent.” I have no idea whether Mr. Lindberg is correct, but it would not surprise me if it were true. It’s no small irony that the Cato Institute, that bastion of Libertarian thought has long contended that labor markets should be unfettered by borders. Cato routinely criticizes the administration for its immigration policy. To wit: https://www.cato.org/blog/four-ways-presidents-new-immigration-ban-undercuts-own-arguments.

— I happened upon a Star online columnist who writes about Tucson. It’s called “This is Tucson.” She wrote a piece last year asserting that Tucson residents should be called Tucsonans, “not Tucsonians.” This is horse pucky. If you read the now defunct Tucson Daily Citizen in the 1970s and ’80s, residents of the Old Pueblo were always called “Tucsonians.” The Star, however, called them “Tucsonans.” The issue is very political. The Citizen was in those days owned by William Small who sported a very conservative editorial page, one that even supported South Africa’s apartheid. The Star was owned by the Pulitzer family of St. Louis and projected a liberal editorial voice, so liberal that conservatives referred to it as “The Red Star.” In this sense then, to use the term “Tucsonan” is a sign the writer/speaker is at best a raging pinko, commie sympathizer or, worse, a no-growth advocate determined to destroy capitalism’s very foundation. Speak “Tucson” at your own risk.

The First Rose

  • This rose popped up Tuesday. It is a floribunda bush, Elizabeth by name. Two grapevines also started to leaf out, and a red pistach tree, one of two newly planted, has showed a new leaf. It is an early spring, unusual weather, but I am certain it has nothing to do with climate change, which has nothing to do with melting glaciers or the hurricane-force winds emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Apropos of the season, for a rousing good time, [Read more…]

Clouds (again)

Trade tariffs

Smoot-Hawley did not cause the Great Depression, but there’s little question that it prolonged it for years.

It created a trade war. Welcome to the 21st century replay of the 1930s.

Consider this

From Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:

“I don’t like to talk about politics on Facebook– political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends– but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.”

Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.

When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies.

As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

Last night’s Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like.

I don’t know what Bannon is up to– although I have some guesses– but because I know Bannon’s ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle– and my friends range pretty widely– who will benefit from whatever it is.

If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively.

We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.

A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.

If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings.

This was Lincoln’s strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.

Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.”


Happy food

Through the annoyance of direct mail marketing, I am in receipt of an ad that says because grocery market’s animals are not given hormones and other nasty nostrums, they are happier and healthier. Hence they taste better. Or happy chickens are just finger-licking….

What it does not say, however, that because animals will be led to slaughter, they are not necessarily happier and healthier. They are, in fact, melancholy, burdened by Sartre, Camus and Groucho, a Marxist existential angst. Pigs are particularly distressed. One authority — a Mr. Orwell — notes that because pigs constitute the farm’s leadership, they protest the fact that they are cut down in the prime of life, pursuing a utopian life in which economic benefits are shared collectively. They say they seek peaceful means to achieve this end, but revolution and the seizure of the means of production might be necessary if the powers that be are unreasonable.

The swine also contend that by being denied hormones, growth promoters and antibiotics, animals being denied collective wellness and therefore the profits of their labor. Instead, these go to capitalist running dogs who hog those profits and wallow in lavish, imperialist life-styles at the expense of plow-horses and the like. They also contend that being denied hormones means their youth is being collectively shortened.

Moreover, according to such experts as Mr. Freud and even his rival, Mr. Jung, the lack of hormones and other drugs do not necessarily promote  happiness. In fact, a well-considered plan of wellness therapy not only includes hormones and antibiotics but also mood-altering drugs such as Prozac, THC and librium. This, combined with twice-a-week analysis by a qualified professional will, one the whole, result in exceptional results, meaning cheerful animals that have achieved great happiness and are, above all, mellow, not to mention tender of heart as well as flesh.

There may be some side effects such as drug addiction, blindness, apathy, prolonged coma, dementia, diabetes, mad-cow disease,  four-hour erections, headaches, hoof-in-mouth and excessive attachment to bath tubs. In such cases, animals should consult a free-range doctor immediately.



This quote is from the book “Hitler: 1889—1936: Hubris,” published in 1998 by Ian Kershaw.

“Without the changed conditions, the product of a lost war, revolutions, and a pervasive sense of national humiliation, Hitler would have remained a nobody. His main ability by far, as he came to realize during the course of 1919, was that in the prevailing circumstances he could inspire an audience which shared his basic political feelings, by the way he spoke, by the force of his rhetoric, by the very power of his prejudice, by the conviction he conveyed that there was a way out of Germany’s plight, and that only the way he outlined was the road to national rebirth. Another time, another place, and the message would have been ineffective, absurd-even. As it was, indeed, in the early 1920s the great majority of the citizens of Munich, let alone of a wider population to whom Hitler was, if at all, only known as a provincial Bavarian hot-head and rabble-rouser, could not be captivated by it. Nevertheless, at this time and in this place, Hitler’s message did capture exactly the uncontainable sense of anger, fear, frustration, resentment, and pent-up aggression of the raucous gatherings in the Munich beerhalls. The compulsive manner of his speaking derived in turn much of its power of persuasion from the strength of conviction that combined with appealingly simple diagnoses of and recipes to Germany’s problems.”


The Gettysburg Address updated

Robert M, a reader, wonders if Moscow is scheduled for the Thank You Tour.