l.. MILTON HANKINS
I’d be the last person to question the literacy of a president–under normal circumstances. But, in the Trump era, nothing seems too outrageous. Frankly, evidence suggesting that the president may have literacy issues is piling up.
This is not a fly-by-night, conspiracy theory concern, i.e. as Obama’s citizenship. In the July 30, 2016 issue of The Times of Israel, Michael Jaffe bluntly titled his article “Does Donald Trump have a literacy problem?” Jaffe said, “Almost all of the words he utters are no more than two syllables. Given his authoritarian, narcissistic personality and thin skin, one can imagine a collective reluctance among his entourage to set Trump straight. … This and Trump’s difficulty with stringing sentences together might be an indication that Donald Trump’s language faculty, more specifically his literacy, may be lacking.”
In The Daily Beast, Matt Wilstein headlined his article “Samantha Bee Is Convinced Donald Trump Can’t Read.” Wilstein pointed out that Canadian political commentator Samantha Bee (host of Full Frontal) has “produced significant evidence…that Donald Trump may be, in fact, illiterate.”
Bee said in a recent segment, “[I] began by reviewing tape of a recently unsealed deposition in which Trump was repeatedly asked to read from legal documents and refused, first saying he didn’t have his glasses and then using the excuse that he’s not a lawyer.”
Bee continued, “How can you expect someone who isn’t a fancy-pants lawyer to read words? At first, I thought Trump was lying, but then it hit me…You heard it here first: People are saying Donald Trump can’t read.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
Wilstein continued: “Over the next six minutes, she [Bee] meticulously laid out the evidence, including the fact that the only book title Trump can recall when people ask him what he’s read recently is All Quiet on the Western Front and his unnerving practice of shouting things he wants to tweet at his staffers during the day. Even his signature is suspiciously missing recognizable letters.”
In the Washington Post (July 17, 2016), Marc Fisher wrote, “As he has prepared to be named the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday. He has no time to read, he said: ‘I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy [sic], I guess, than ever before.'”
Alex Shepherd wrote in The New Republic, “Donald Trump doesn’t read books.” He points out that following an interview with Megyn Kelly, Kelly sensed “that Trump may not have read a book since sixth grade.”
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Politico’s Jack Shafer has similar concerns. He says “Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader.” In an August 13, 2015 article, he pointed out, “Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, [Trump’s] text of [debate] responses score at the 4th-grade reading level.”
Shafter concluded, “…Trump’s verbal deficit, as grating as it may be on the ears of the educated class, has not caused him much political pain.”
No one appears, according to my research, to have seen President Trump privately reading a legal brief, the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), a document, or a book. Not even a magazine! I don’t ever recall seeing him wearing glasses either. It is strange, isn’t it?
TRUMP’S LITERACY REMAINS A PUZZLE
[L. Milton Hankins, the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View writes a weekly column for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. This article first appeared in the March 13th edition of the Herald-Dispatch. Hankins can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments on articles are also welcome in the webzine. Those who have editorial-opinion type pieces they would like considered for publication in Columnist with a View may submit them to email@example.com or send hard copy to P.O. Box 913, Ashland, KY 41101.]
Like folks with inquiring minds, I sometimes find myself wondering about noteworthy people who might, in another context, be inconsequential. They might be merely seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
If you can remember them, think about these people in yesteryear’s news. Some were household names, like Larry Craig, Kim Davis, Mark Sanford, Trey Gowdy. See? Forgotten!
Who is Stephen Bannon? Do we know much about this guy who headed up Breitbart.com and who has become a top advisor to President-elect Trump? I wondered. So, I consulted the Wall Street Journal, archives of CBS News, the Washington Post and The Daily Beast. I thought these a good sampling - that I’d be able to sketch a decent picture of this Bannon fellow.
I learned Bannon was a Navy man; that he invested in the “Seinfeld” series, that he once made a “fawning documentary” about Sarah Palin. According to a CBS News article, he is “a rich guy-turned conservative propagandist” best known for his Palin documentary.
Lately, I’m certain he is best-known for his close association with President-elect Donald Trump. I dug a little deeper. At a WSJ CEO Council meeting, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Bannon, “is a man who says, by his very presence, that this is a White House that will embrace bigotry.” That got my attention. I detest bigotry! But, of course, everyone knows Senator Warren isn’t exactly an unbiased source on Trump or anyone connected with him.
I kept researching because I ran across the Warren quote about bigotry and also because it appears that the next president has a xenophobic (“a strong dislike or distrust of foreigners”) streak in him that can only be exacerbated by a close advisor who is a reputed bigot.
According to Will Rahn of CBS News (August 2016) Breitbart.com (remember, it was headed up by Bannon) was a haven for the “alt-right” who proclaims “the West is under attack and conservatives, locked in the straight-jacket of respectability, won’t do anything about it.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
The Muslims are coming, and so are the Mexicans. Blacks are out of control in the cities. The feminists are trying to upset gender norms, which is why you can’t get a date. Smart as you are, young white man, you can’t get rich, because of globalists, who ‘just happen’ to be Jews.”
Hmmm, it isn’t complicated to connect the dots. Steven Bannon bigotry Breitbart.com “alt-right” xenophobia close advisor to President-elect Trump to President Donald Trump!
Woodruff and Resnick of The Daily Beast, wrote in an October 2017 piece: “Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about [the aforementioned] things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.”
According to the Woodruff/Resnick piece, “Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.”
Should we just forget about this fellow, Stephen Bannon? I think not. I think we’d better keep an eye on him - remember who and where he is.
[This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch on Monday, December 26, 2016.]
I’m always amused by the TV advertisement where the character tells people in distress that he doesn’t fix a problem, he’s only a monitor. The announcer says, “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?” As to our president-elect, we’re in that kind of a situation right now.
Over two and a half million people do not find it amusing!
A sufficient number of people, apparently, have elected a man to the presidency who is, at his best, frightening. If you’re not scared of a Donald Trump administration, you’ve not been paying attention.
PRESIDENT WARREN G. HARDING
He reminds me of Warren G. Harding, but there is a singular, conspicuous difference—Harding did not have access to nuclear weapons! As far as I know, Trump isn’t a drinker or gambler as Harding was, but Harding had a warm, endearing personality; whereas, Trump is thin-skinned, vindictive and unpredictable.
Trump even talks nuclear weapons! Remember, he said “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Apparently, he hasn’t the foggiest notion the power unleashed by a nuclear weapon. I saw it firsthand during a test in 1962 while I was in the USAF.
Those people who think our military is deficient or lacks the strength and power have no idea how strong the U.S. military is. When I think about what it was like in 1962, fifty years later, now, with our new series of bombers and rockets, I’m very reassured that we can handle ourselves with anyone in the world.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS TEST (1962)
Our enemies–Iran, North Korea, Syria–know this! When we make them think we are weak, as Trump did during his campaign, it does us no good. As a matter of fact, it’s dumb!
NUCLEAR MUSHROOM CLOUD
We have the strongest, most capable military in the world…and we’ve never been afraid to use it. We’ve never had to be afraid. But we’ve always needed to be alarmed by talk about the use of nuclear weapons.
I have difficulty thinking of someone who attended Fordham and graduated from the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania as functionally illiterate. But, what we have on our hands is a sociopathic, narcissistic, habitual liar…a “con, a fraud,” Mitt Romney called him. Apparently, we have elected a womanizing, immoral, self-indulgent individual who obviously plans to use the high office of the presidency to enrich himself and his family. He is certainly already taking advantage of the opportunities to use his “position” as president-elect to negotiate or manipulate those foreign governments where he has holdings.
What we have is more than a sad day for America. We’re in the midst of a national crisis! Every person in a state where it is permissible should contact their electors and make a plea for voting for Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. I’ve had lots of history courses and a course in constitutional law, and that’s the only way he can be stopped now…if the electors care enough about this country to do the right thing!
“Why monitor a problem if [we] don’t fix it?”
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Have you ever wondered what religion you might follow if you were born in another part of the world? I have.
HINDU BOY PRAYING
For example, were I born in Japan, I would likely be Shinto. In India, Hindu. In the Soviet Union or Communist China, I might have grown up without any knowledge of any religion. In Iran or Iraq, I would most like be Moslem.
MUSLIM FATHER AND SON
When my wife and I went to Tanzania to do mission work, we quickly learned the Tanzanians believed in Mungu. One elderly gentleman told me in Swahili, “We have long believed in the God who made everything. Can you look at the heavens and not believe? We call God ‘Mungu’ in our language.”
I’ve learned that the world’s people have many different names for God, but for the most part, they all worship the God of creation. The Tanzanian gentleman actually went on to say, “We have been waiting for you to come and tell us more bout the Creator God and His son, Jesus.”
STREET IN TANZANIA CITY
You may not find this so astonishing, but we assumed we were to to Africa to teach “heathens” about God; we discovered they already believed in God and were hungry to know more about God. It was an exciting trip, but it wasn’t at all what we expected.
In both the Old and the New Testaments, we learn there is only one God. As a matter of fact, the Ten Commandments make it clear that God will not share with “other” gods. Even Jesus carefully differentiated between himself and God, calling God “his heavenly Father” and referring to “your Father who is in heaven.” When God was asked by the Jewish patriarchs by what name He should be called, God answered, “I am that I am.” Thus, God is the great “I am!” In other words, “I am Being” or the God who really exists.
Different languages have different words or names for God. However, if people of other lands recognize the God of creation, by whatever name they call Him, they worship the one true God!
I have said on many occasions the more I study about God, the more I realize how little I know about God. In recent years, I have observed a significant rise in the number of people who call themselves “agnostics” or “atheists.” That is, they have come to believe there is no God.
Recently, some folks asked me about the thousands of Japanese people who were swept away by the horrifying tsunami that recently devastated their country. “Will they be lost?” Will they spend eternity in hell?” “Will they be a part of God’s kingdom?” How can we honestly respond to these questions?
ACCORDING TO THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION GOD LOVES THE WHOLE WORLD
I suggest a theological response and a simple, common-sense reply. Theologically, according to the Christian religion, God loves all the people of the world. God hold “the whole world in His hands.” The simple answer is that God always does the best thing in any situation we can imagine. I believe the God I learned about in Sunday School and in seminary would be incapable of doing anything less than the most loving thing for His creation and for the world’s people.
Whatever we may erroneously presume about God–God will always be God. Or not! Who can know?