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Rolla Peace News

November 15, 2016


Dear Friends:

          In this newsletter is:

5. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) Sailing Uncharted Waters — Between Scylla And Charybdis
          b) You Want It Darker — We Kill The Flame



We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office THIS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2016, (and all subsequent Thursdays until peace is established) from Noon to 1:00 PM. Please try to join us. The temperature is predicted to be in the 70s. If you do not feel comfortable standing with us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.


Tentatively we will vigil on Wednesday Nov. 23 during Thanksgiving week. We will either confirm or deny this in next week's newsletter.


There is nothing new to report this week; but, if you have not already done so, Please sign the petition; and ask your friends and family to sign too.

Your phone calls and emails have been very helpful. Please keep them coming. Contact the City of Rolla and ask them not to build a dog-park in Buehler Park: (573)426-6948, citycouncil@rollacity.org.

For more information click here.

Thank you for your help in preserving Buehler Park as the lovely little park that it is for all local residents and visitors to enjoy.


Bad news first: Scientists are finding that Earth's ecosystems are already changing in response to warming temperatures, much faster than expected. According to a professor at the University of Queensland, “Temperature extremes are causing evolutionary adaption in many species, changing them genetically and physically. These responses include changes in tolerances to high temperatures, shifts in sex-ratios, reduced body size, and migration of species.” The examples give here are about animal life, but it's obvious that changing weather patterns are going to affect plants as well — and, directly or indirectly, our food supply depends on plants.

2016 is on track to be the hottest year ever, and this week in Rolla seems to be consistent with that. Whoever heard of temperatures in the 70s in mid-November, not just a one-day fluke, but many days! Lots of people still don't believe it, including our President-elect (God help us!). A leading climatologist, Michael Mann, said it's “almost as if Mother Nature is making a statement.” You better believe she is!

There is a little good news, however. A group of children and young people, ages 9-20, have won in court the right to sue the U.S Government for contributing to the trashing of the planet. U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken said in her ruling, “This action is of a different order than the typical environmental case,” Aiken wrote. “It alleges that defendants' actions and inactions—whether or not they violate any specific statutory duty—have so profoundly damaged our home planet that they threaten plaintiffs' fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty.” It looks like the only hope for saving us from catastrophe is for these kids, and kids like them, to grow up fast enough that there will still be something left to save. We adults haven't done a very good job.

5. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) Sailing Uncharted Waters — Between Scylla And Charybdis
          b) You Want It Darker — We Kill The Flame


Many are having trouble digesting the election results. How could poor Hillary have lost? Well, maybe because of “deplorables,” like me, who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and still refuse to do penance for our sin; or maybe it was James Comey; or maybe it was Julian Assange; or a host of other “deplorables.”

For me, watching the election returns roll in was like watching the seventh game of a world series between two of my least favorite teams. An exciting game to be sure; but pity both teams can't lose.

Actually, Clinton won, by well over 800,000 popular votes. Second time in 16 years that the candidate with the most votes lost the election.

Clinton lost the electoral college by 107,300 popular votes — less than 0.1% of the total vote: 68,300 more popular votes would have given her Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes; 27,300 would have given her Wisconsin's 10; and 11,700 Michigan's 16. That would have given her more than the requisite 270 electoral votes needed to win. Elections don't get much closer than this.

All the wise pundits, who predicted Hillary, are now ringing their hands and saying, oh, we should have known. No, you shouldn't have known. You are as wrong now as you were before the election. It was too close to call. It could have gone either way.
So here's a few things that could easily have made the difference:
1. The Democrats could have nominated Bernie Sanders. I suspect he would have trounced Trump, who is now the most unpopular president-elect our nation has ever had. Instead, Democrats opted for a tainted candidate who was wildly unpopular and particularly vulnerable to Trump's taunts of “elitist,” “crooked,” “liar,” etc.

2. The electoral college became an anachronism at least 150 years ago. Surely, a constitutional amendment to elect the president by popular vote could have succeeded at some point within the past 150 years.

3. After 15 years of inconclusive war, the people are fed-up — yet Clinton played the war card to the hilt — including red-baiting Trump supporters and espousing provocations against nuclear-armed Russia. A kinder, gentler foreign policy would have been far more acceptable to the electorate.

4. Clinton could have made climate-change a major issue. Trump, with his record of climate-denial was particularly vulnerable here. It's not only New York and California that are feeling the ill-effects of climate change. Red-state Louisiana was hit with a 1000-year flood this year and the Southern Atlantic coast experienced flooding from Hurricane Matthew's near miss. Clinton foolishly steered clear of climate-change. I was particularly disgusted by her campaign statement that “all voices should be heard and all views considered” while “security goons” were macing, arresting and shooting rubber bullets at non-violent water-protectors at Standing Rock.

5. As noted above, the “rust belt” states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin could have made the difference. The Obama administration could have stepped in and declared a national emergency and repaired Flint, Michigan's toxic public water system. Clinton could have made repairing our dilapidated infrastructure a priority. This would likely have swung the election.
But let's not dwell on the past. Donald Trump is president-elect. Now we sail the uncharted waters between the Scylla of war and the Charybdis of climate-change. So what are we to do?
For starters: we might at the very least praise Trump for what he's said correctly.
Nuclear Weapons

Trump's position on the use of nuclear weapons is of paramount importance.
“I would certainly not do first strike. Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.”
Our wise pundits mostly miss the overwhelming importance of no first strike. Never before has a president-elect eschewed a nuclear first strike. In fact, one of our former presidents, Richard Nixon, threatened to unleash nuclear holocaust on the world if he didn't get his way in Vietnam. It may well be that Trump's election has saved the world from nuclear holocaust and we should be truly thankful for this.

So let's encourage him to reiterate this position and take further steps toward nuclear disarmament.

And lets praise him for calling out the military establishment and their perpetual wars.
“Obviously the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, all right? George Bush made a mistake, we can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty.”
Let's encourage him to ratchet down our devastating Middle East wars and bring our troops home. He's already shown himself open to this.


Trump deserves credit for his forceful repudiation of toxic trade agreements like TPP. Let's give credit where credit is due and encourage him to further repudiate these corporate-friendly, people-hostile international agreements.
And, let's not shy away from pointing out where he has spoken poorly:
Climate Change

Trump is going to have a serious problem here. He can deny climate-change 'till the cows come home, but that's like denying the law of gravity. You do so at your own peril. (If you don't believe me, try jumping off a cliff. No, PLEASE, don't try this.)

So what's he going to do the next time we experience a devastating flood, drought, wildfire or other climate-related disaster — particularly in a state that supported him — blame it on Muslims or Hispanics? He wants to “make America great again.” That's hard to do when much of your country is drowning, baking or burning.

Being famous for saying whatever he likes, whenever he likes, and getting away with it, it might not be that difficult for him to reverse himself here.

Let's encourage him to rethink this one.


Racism is a toxic beast. It's like poison ivy. It spreads. Scratch it; it spreads further.

Trump didn't invent racism or misogyny. He didn't introduce racism to the United States. He simply scratched it, and let it spread.

And spread it did!

Trump's campaign and his election appear to have emboldened racists to abuse and violence, a violence that Trump, himself, seems to encourage.

It also appears that Trump is now taking aim at Jews, as well as more traditional scapegoats. Ten years ago I wrote,
“The US is already experiencing a shift in sentiment. The public is beginning to blame Jews for the failure of the US Middle East policy. ... As the failure of our Middle East policy becomes more and more difficult to deny, I would expect to see a sharp resurgence of anti-Jewish bigotry in the US.” (Three Murderous Myths, p13)
Pity this article was read by so few.

So here we are in uncharted waters. Never before has the population of the United States been so diverse — 61% White; 18% Hispanic, 12% Non-Hispanic Black, 6% Asian; 2% Jewish, 1% Muslim.... If Trump is to “make America great again,” he will have to quell the violence. This most-unpopular president-elect in US history will have to bring many disparate groups together. It is a daunting task; and If he fails, I fear the United States will degenerate further into chaos and collapse.


So, as we sail into uncharted waters, there is reason for hope.

I think Donald Trump wants to be more than just The President. I think he wants to be a good president. On the other hand, I don't think he has a clue. How could he, given the crowd of corporate moguls and Hollywood stars he hangs with? That leaves it up to us — to show him how to be a good president. Our behavior will determine what kind of a president Donald Trump will be.


1. This is a work in progress. I fully expect to revise and expand it. However, I feel compelled to distribute this intermediate version. All suggestions will be welcomed.

2. Earlier writings on Donald Trump can be found on my website.


Another icon has passed. Leonard Cohen died just weeks after releasing his final album, You Want It Darker.

No poet or entertainer has touched my life the way Leonard has. While others in my generation followed Bob Dylan, or The Beatles, or The Grateful Dead, I listened to Leonard Cohen, over and over again, especially when I was sad or depressed.

Nothing could pull me out of a depression like Leonard Cohen. His music spoke to me of people I knew: A stranger who is “reaching for the sky just to surrender;” A puppet master whose “body is a golden string;” A saint whose “body is gone; but ... his spirit continues to drool;” Somehow Leonard would see me through it all and I'd come out the other side whole.

Leonard could see clearly what few others could even glimpse. He paid for his gift with a lifetime of sadness and depression. I think Leonard saw what was coming. I think he was ready to leave.

Leonard, I pray that where you are now there is neither sadness nor depression. I am truly thankful for your visions and the music that you have left us.

Leonard, I must have listened to the title song of your final album almost 100 times since the election:
“If Thine is the Glory, then mine must be the shame.
You want it darker — We kill the flame.”

As Helen reminded me, if we have killed the flame, then we must now rekindle it.
“Hineni, Hineni,
I'm ready, My LORD.”


Rolla Peace News is distributed by email once a week on Tuesday evenings (except on rare occasions) and is posted on the web at http://tomsager.org (click on Grassroots Rolla: top of rightmost column).

If you don't wish to get notices of peace events in the Rolla area, let me know and I'll take you off this list.

If you want to be added to this list, let me know.

Wage peace,

helenm (at) fidnet.com