Hot Air: The Children’s Hour

When I was a kid I went to the neighborhood public school for sixth through eighth grades after spending six years at the Catholic St. Giles school. My first year at the new school, Miss Lucente (who was young, wore miniskirts and who was the obsessive late night fantasy of most of the boys in class) made us write essays about what we would do if we were elected president. The best of the essays would go into the next edition of the Lovett Lantern, our school’s monthly news pamphlet.

It was one of the extremely rare assignments I took seriously. I may have mentioned this before, but I had a philosophical aversion to homework. My thinking was, I give you every day, Monday through Friday, from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Anything after that is my time. What I do in late afternoons and evenings is none of your business nor do you have any right to tell me what I should do during those hours. This was especially true of reading assignments, BTW. I read voraciously and I had zero patience for the nonsense my teachers wanted me to read.

Anyway, I dove into Miss Lucente’s assignment with great gusto. I scrawled out about 1500 words on lined paper with my trusty Bic pen (with the end well-chewed). I talked about the programs I’d set up to foster health, the environment, and literacy. I even talked about creating an organization called WHEEL (Western Hemisphere Economic & Environmental Legislation) — yeah, I know the title really doesn’t make sense for an organization but gimme a break, I was 11 years old for chrissakes. I wrote that I’d pick some Republicans for my cabinet — guys like Nelson Rockefeller and Chuck Percy — because we needed bipartisanship.

Honestly, I went all out on this thing. The other kids turned in 250-word papers that said they’d work for world peace and feeding the hungry, you know, boilerplate teen beauty pageant platitudes. Natch, my essay made the Lovett Lantern.

Okay, so it was a fabulous effort for a pre-adolescent little jerk but, let’s be frank here, it wasn’t the kind of thing real presidential candidates would offer. I had no idea, really, how government worked. I didn’t know what real-life programs and organizations existed that already did what my proposals called for. I hadn’t the foggiest notion if Republican heavyweights like Percy and Rockefeller would paly ball with a Democratic president.

In other words, it was childish.

Just like every single thing Donald Trump has called for and promised.

Today, for instance, he gave a speech about caring for our veterans. Check this out from the NBC News story on his speech:

“Veterans will get timely access to top quality medical care,” Trump promised again, reading from a teleprompter in a hotel ballroom. He guaranteed vets the “right to choose their doctor,” be it at VA facilities or at private medical centers. 

New additions to the policy include the creation of a 24-hour, human-staffed (“a person – not a computer!”) White House hotline that would take calls of complaints about the Department of Veterans Affairs. This hotline, Trump said, would “ensure that no valid complaint about the VA” goes unanswered. The way Trump tells it, the buck will stop with him: instructing his staff that “valid” unresolved hotline issues be brought directly to him so that he can “fix it myself, if need be.”

He promises a bunch of things but there’s absolutely no mention of how they’ll be implemented, save for his boasts that any vet’s problem that’s left unresolved he’ll “fix it myself, if need be.”

Clearly the man has zero idea of how the presidency works and what his responsibilities will be. As if all the president has to do is sit there by his phone and wait for citizens to call him with complaints so he can promptly address them. He wants his supporters to believe the president is a glorified customer service rep.

News flash to Donald Trump: There are 330 goddamn million people in this country. And if we’re limiting our numbers solely to veterans, there are some 21.5 million living veterans in our country, acc’d’g to the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Good luck with that cauliflower ear you’re in line for, Donald Trump.

But he won’t get one. Not if the voting public has any sense.

His brag about what he’d do for veterans is just the latest in his seemingly endless line of uninformed, childish, blowhard verbal ejaculations he’s been spraying us with since he declared his candidacy in June of 2015.

See, Donald Trump is no more aware of what it takes to be president and what he might have to do should he win the election than this 11-year-old was.

That’s what we’d be getting if we, by some weird, ugly twist of fate, elect him President of the United States of America — the equivalent of a pre-adolescent who plays pup tent with himself late at night while dreaming of his young, miniskirted sixth grade teacher.

July 11th Birthdays

Thomas Bowdler — British medical doctor who gained fame for re-writing Shakespeare without any mention of the sexual intrigues, affairs, murders, etc. that ran through pretty much every stanza of the original works. He called his sanitized version The Family Shakespeare. It became so popular that his name became synonymous with censored, expurgated forms of literature, movies, and art. Countless works have been “bowdlerized” in the two centuries since his death. Bowlder also “created” a safe version of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

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Isabel Lewis — Born Isabel Martin she was the first woman hired as an astronomer at the US Naval Observatory. She wrote numerous articles on astronomy for magazines and newspapers and has been credited with popularizing the science. Her articles for the New York Evening Sun were collected in a 1919 book entitled Splendors of the Sky.

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Bull Connor — Born Theophilus Eugene Connor, he became nationally known when, as Birmingham, Alabama’s Commissioner of Public Safety, he directed his police force to allow KKK members to savagely beat Freedom Riders and reporters. He then ordered firemen to attack protesters with high-powered fire hoses and police to subdue them with snarling dogs during a May, 1963, civil rights protest. The nationally televised incident focused America’s sympathy on the marchers. Connor was an ardent segregationist who was known to spit in the faces of black and white protesters.

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E.B. White — Born Elwyn Brooks White, the notoriously shy author and poet wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web and edited William R. Strunk’s The Elements of Style (also known as Strunk & White.) James Thurber wrote of White that when it came to meeting strangers, he “has always taken to the fire escape.”

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Venetia Burney — An 11 year-old English girl who, upon learning that American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh had discovered Pluto (which had heretofore been unseen by human eyes), suggested he name it after the Roman god of the underworld who had the capability of turning himself invisible.

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Brett Somers — C’mon, if you’re of a certain age, you remember her on the Match Game where she sat next to Charles Nelson Reilly. She also was the wife of Jack Klugman.

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Somers & Reilly

Suzanne Vega — Born Suzanne Peck, she is an American singer-songwriter who hit the charts in the 1980s with “Luka” and the ’90s with “Tom’s Diner.” In 2006, she was the first big pop star to perform live on Second Life which, shockingly enough, still exists.

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Jhumpa Lahiri — London-born author of Indian parents who moved to America when she was two years old. She has written the bestselling novels The Namesake and The Lowland as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies.

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On this date in 2008, Michael DeBakey died. He was a pioneering heart surgeon who invented a vital type of pump for use in the heart-lung machine, was among the first to perform coronary artery bypass surgery, was instrumental in the development of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit, and developed the first external heart pump. He and his colleague at the Baylor University College of Medicine, Dr. Denton Cooley, were to perform the world’s first artificial heart implant on a human patient in May, 1969. DeBakey rescheduled the surgery so he could travel out of state to give a speech and while he was gone Cooley re-rescheduled the surgery back to the original date and performed the surgery himself, earning worldwide fame. Cooley’s action initiated a feud between the two that lasted until their deaths.

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