Bob Schwartz

Month: February, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. and the Happy Smiling Poor of India

“The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.”
Sullivan’s Travels

Washington Post:

Donald Trump Jr. says he admires India’s poor people because of their spirit and smiles

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is in India this week to promote his family’s real estate empire and more than $1 billion worth of luxury Trump Tower projects in four cities, but he still had time to praise India’s poor for their smiles.

“I don’t mean to be glib about it, but you can see the poorest of the poor and there is still a smile on a face. It’s a different spirit that you don’t see in other parts of the world … and I think there’s something unique about that. I know some of the most successful people in the world, and some of them are the most miserable people in the world.”

You can draw your own conclusions about what this says about Don Jr. and others in the Trump family and circle. You can guess who the miserable successful people might be.

As for the happy smiling poor he admires, I quote from the movie Sullivan’s Travels  by Preston Sturges. A successful Hollywood director of nonsensical comedies, John L. Sullivan, wants to confront the grim reality of the Great Depression, and so plans to travel in disguise as a tramp. His butler Burrows sets him straight:

Burrows: I have never been sympathetic to the caricaturing of the poor and needy, sir.

John L. Sullivan: Who’s caricaturing? I’m going out on the road to find out what it’s like to be poor and needy and then I’m going to make a picture about it.

Burrows: If you’ll permit me to say so, sir, the subject is not an interesting one. The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.

John L. Sullivan: But I’m doing it for the poor. Don’t you understand?

Burrows: I doubt if they would appreciate it, sir.


Burrows: You see, sir, rich people and theorists – who are usually rich people – think of poverty in the negative, as the lack of riches – as disease might be called the lack of health. But it isn’t, sir. Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms.







Goodbye Hourglass! Lucky Charms Adds Magical Unicorns!

Timeless magic that’s cosmically delicious!

From General Mills:

For the first time in 10 years, Lucky Charms is introducing a new and permanent marshmallow – the magical unicorn! The magically delicious brand tapped into the imagination and creativity of young minds to hand select the newest charm and the decision was unanimous.

“Our goal is to not only create a cereal that families and cereal fans will love and enjoy, but to inspire magical possibilities and help spark imagination and fun no matter what the age,” said Josh DeWitt, marketing manager of Lucky Charms. “That’s why, after 10 years, we decided to introduce a new charm with the help of the keepers of magic themselves – kids. They spoke, and after hearing their love for the magical unicorn, we listened.”

From magical and lucky to cool and colorful, both boys and girls agreed that these mythical creatures had timeless magic that was the perfect fit for the only truly magical marshmallow cereal. The new unicorn charm, which features hues of bright purples and blues, is the first-ever marshmallow to be inspired and created by kids.

With the entrance of the new magical charm, consumers will have to say goodbye to the hourglass marshmallow, which has been a staple in the magical line up for more than a decade. Lucky Charms marshmallow blend will continue to feature eight lucky charms including hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, rainbows, red balloons and now magical unicorns.

The cosmic significance of this change can’t be overstated. The hourglass is the symbol of time, in all of its inevitably and finitude. That’s gone. The unicorn represents “timeless magic” and will “inspire magical possibilities and help spark imagination and fun.”

If there was ever a time for unicorns, at breakfast or whenever, this is it. Thanks General Mills!

Is Peace Enough?

Is Peace Enough?

The birds are busy
Round the yard
I listen lulled
Sorting strands of song
The birds don’t think
They are peaceful
They are just busy
Being birds


Chinese New Year: Tao Te Ching Chapter 39

The root of the noble is in the common,
the high stands on what’s below.
Princes and kings call themselves
“orphans, widowers, beggars,”
to get themselves rooted in the dirt.
A multiplicity of riches
is poverty.
Jade is praised as precious,
but its strength is being stone.
Ursula Le Guin, Tao Te Ching 39

Playing one’s part
in accordance with the universe
is true humility
So whether you’re a gem in the royal court
or a stone on the common path
If you accept your part with humility
the glory of the universe will be yours
Sam Hamill, Tao Te Ching 39

Therefore, the honored uses the lowly as basis
The higher uses the lower as foundation
Thus the rulers call themselves alone, bereft, and unworthy
Is this not using the lowly as basis? Is it not so?
Therefore, the ultimate honor is no honor
Do not wish to be shiny like jade
Be dull like rocks
Derek Lin, Tao Te Ching 39

It is the Chinese New Year. Here is something randomly selected from the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching—the seminal text of Taoism, one that has served as the first step for many on the path to Asian wisdom.

The selection is Chapter 39 of the 81 chapters. Following are just a few of the countless translations, interpretations and commentaries.

Chapter 39 may be a bit more obscure and less straightforward than some others. The closing theme is humility, particularly the humility of sages and leaders.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way


Those who of old got to be whole:

Heaven through its wholeness is pure;
earth through its wholeness is steady;
spirit through its wholeness is potent;
the valley through its wholeness flows with rivers;
the ten thousand things through their wholeness live;
rulers through their wholeness have authority.
Their wholeness makes them what they are.

Without what makes it pure, heaven would disintegrate;
without what steadies it, earth would crack apart;
without what makes it potent, spirit would fail;
without what fills it, the valley would run dry;
without what quickens them, the ten thousand things would die;
without what authorizes them, rulers would fall.

The root of the noble is in the common,
the high stands on what’s below.
Princes and kings call themselves
“orphans, widowers, beggars,”
to get themselves rooted in the dirt.

A multiplicity of riches
is poverty.
Jade is praised as precious,
but its strength is being stone.

Red Pine, Lao-tzu’s Taoteching


Of those that became one in the past
Heaven became one and was clear
Earth became one and was still
spirits became one and were active
valleys became one and were full
kings became one and ruled the world
but from this we can infer
Heaven would crack if it were always clear
Earth would crumble if it were always still
spirits would dissipate if they were always active
valleys would dry up if they were always full
kings would fall if they were always high and noble
for the noble is based on the humble
and the high is founded on the low
thus do kings refer to themselves
as orphaned widowed and destitute
but this isn’t the basis of humility
counting a carriage as no carriage at all
not wanting to clink like jade
they clunk like rocks

William Scott Wilson, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation


Of those who obtained
the One along the way in ancient times:
Heaven obtained the One, and became transparent;
Earth obtained the One, and became pacified;
The spirits obtained the One, and
were imbued with the essential mystery of things;
The valleys obtained the One, and were filled to the brim;
The Ten Thousand Things obtained the One,
and sprouted with life;
Lords and kings obtained the One,
and divined how to make the world correct.
It was the One that guided them along.

If Heaven were not transparent,
I’m afraid it would soon be rent like cloth.
If Earth were not pacified,
I’m afraid it would soon begin to shake.
If the spirits were not imbued with
the essential mystery of things,
I’m afraid they would soon not bother to exert themselves.
If the valleys were not filled to the brim,
I’m afraid they would soon be dried up.
If the Ten Thousand Things did not sprout with life,
I’m afraid they would soon become parched and wither.
If lords and kings were not respected and on high,
I’m afraid they would soon stumble and fall.
Thus, that which is of little value creates
the foundation for that which is treasured,
And that which is low creates
a bedrock for that which is high.
Therefore, lords and kings call
themselves orphans, widowers, and menials.
Is this not making what is of little value the foundation?
Is this not so?
Thus, though you may often be awarded words of praise,
you will have no honor.
Do not wish to jangle like jewels;
Rather, resonate like rocks and stones.

Jonathan Star, Tao Te Ching: The New Translation

Verse 39

From ancient times till now
the One has been the source of all attainments
By realizing the One
Heaven becomes clear, Earth becomes still
spirits gain power and hearts fill up with joy
By realizing the One
kings and lords become instruments of peace
and all creatures live joyfully upon this earth
Without the One
Heaven has no clarity and would crack
Earth has no peace and would crumble
spirits have no power and would lose their charm
Without the One
hearts would dry up, empires would fall,
all things would go lifelessly upon this earth

Long ago kings and lords called themselves
“orphaned,” “lonely,” and “unworthy”
What honor can there be without humility?
What heights can be reached without being low?
The pieces of a chariot are useless
unless they work in accordance with the whole
A man’s life brings nothing
unless he lives in accordance with the whole universe
Playing one’s part
in accordance with the universe
is true humility
So whether you’re a gem in the royal court
or a stone on the common path
If you accept your part with humility
the glory of the universe will be yours

Sam Hamill, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation


Since ancient days, these attained oneness:
heaven attained unity and grew clear;
earth attained unity and grew tranquil;
souls attained unity and grew powerful;
valleys attained unity and produced abundance;
all beings became one and gave life;
rulers attained oneness and rule grew virtuous.
If heaven were not clear,
it would crumble;
earth without tranquility
would shatter.
Souls without power
would soon dissipate.
Valleys without abundance
are quickly exhausted.
Rulers without esteem
can be toppled.
Thus the noble is rooted in the humble,
the high founded upon the low.
Rulers call themselves orphans, widowers, destitute.
Isn’t humility at the root?
Hence they count many carriages
while disdaining their prestige.
Not wanting to tinkle and chime like jade,
they clatter, falling like stones.

Derek Lin, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained


Those that attained oneness since ancient times:
The sky attained oneness and thus clarity
The earth attained oneness and thus tranquility
The gods attained oneness and thus divinity
The valley attained oneness and thus abundance
The myriad things attained oneness and thus life
The rulers attained oneness and became the standard for the world
These all emerged from oneness

The sky, lacking clarity, would break apart
The earth, lacking tranquility, would erupt
The gods, lacking divinity, would vanish
The valley, lacking abundance, would wither
Myriad things, lacking life, would be extinct
The rulers, lacking standard, would be toppled

Therefore, the honored uses the lowly as basis
The higher uses the lower as foundation
Thus the rulers call themselves alone, bereft, and unworthy
Is this not using the lowly as basis? Is it not so?
Therefore, the ultimate honor is no honor

Do not wish to be shiny like jade
Be dull like rocks

“A semi-auto changed my life” says an AR-15 hunter

From  Why hunters are trading in traditional hunting rifles for the AR-15 on

Hunters traipsing through fields in unrestricted states are also afforded the luxury of 30 round magazines which increase the number of shots a hunter can fire in a given time period while decreasing follow-up shot time. This can often mean the difference between taking a trophy and going home empty handed.

“I believe in one well-placed shot,” coyote hunter Greg Sodergren told Time Magazine of the AR-15. “(But) if you’ve got multiple animals or you miss, you’ve got a quick follow-up shot.”

In addition, the speed in which the AR cycles its bolt as compared to the manual cycling of a bolt-action means more potential shots on target or multiple shots effortlessly carried out on multiple targets.

“A semi-auto changed my life,” Eric Mayer, who runs, told Time Magazine. “I’m able to make the (shot) because I don’t have to run the bolt (and) lose the target in my scope.”

“If you miss you’ve got a quick follow-up shot.” A semi-automatic AR-15 rifle changed lots of lives at a Florida high school yesterday. Only they weren’t coyotes or deer.

Shootings Are Not Normal

Shepard Fairey

I published my first post about the National Rifle Association in the wake of Sandy Hook—more than five years ago. I wrote:

The dead can’t vote, and in the case of the children killed today at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they weren’t old enough anyway. So we have to speak for them and vote for them. Today is the day.

That began a string of posts about guns and the NRA, the most recent one following the massacre in Las Vegas. The killings just keeps on happening.

The mayhem from today’s shooting at a high school in Florida is being assessed. It is news and will be for a while. Republicans shilling for the NRA will explain the problem, which won’t involve guns. Soon, we will move on. The injured will more or less heal, the dead will still be dead, their loved ones will mourn.

Guns are one of the ways that America is “exceptional” in the world. Despite the patriotic pride that some take in this exceptionalism, it is nothing to be proud of. Shootings are not normal.

And the dead still can’t vote.

Trump and His Fixers

Donald Trump and Roy Cohn

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen today says that he paid hush money to Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket. It was, he claims, not Trump money or campaign money.

This puts the spotlight on the role of the “fixer”. Fixers come in two varieties.

There are lawyers who use every means, this side of the law, but questionably this side of morals and ethics, to help clients clean up messes. See, for example, the movie Michael Clayton starring George Clooney.

Then there are fixers who leave law, morals and ethics behind. Winston Wolfe (“The Wolf”) in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is the perfect example. “I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems,” he says. His immediate problem is quickly cleaning up a car in which there has been a very messy murder.

Trump’s mentor as a young businessman was Roy Cohn, one of the most infamous and unscrupulous lawyer/fixers of his time. Trump has found lawyers and non-lawyers willing to clean up his messes, like Michael Cohen. But he’s never found anyone who can measure up to Cohn, who was one of a kind.

Trump’s hero as a mature businessman—and as president—is Vladimir Putin. Putin’s fixers make Roy Cohn look like a choir boy. There is literally nothing that Putin won’t ask his global network of fixers to do for him, and nothing they won’t do. Fear, loyalty and money are great motivators.

Trump would love to bring Roy Cohn back as his ultimate fixer. That’s not possible. Trump would also love to get the help of Putin’s fixers. Apparently, he already has.


St. Rafqa’s Knit Haiku

For my beautiful and beloved knitter

St. Rafqa’s Knit Haiku

Who needs the arrows
of Valentine when we knit
with Rafqa’s needles

Note: I went looking for the Catholic patron saint of knitters—there’s usually an official or unofficial saint for everything—only to discover that there is no consensus about knitting. Suggestions include Saints Fiachra/Fiacre, Rafqa/Rebecca, Dymphna, Lucy, Ursula, Sebastian or Blaise. The idea was to connect the arrows of St. Valentine to the needles of St. Whoever. The haiku idea comes from having found the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible as a gift for a knitter. All in all, a pretty long explanation for a pretty obscure poem. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Year Time (Yahrzeit)

Kaddish After Finishing a Tranctate of Talmud – David Wolk

Year Time (Yahrzeit)

The folder tabbed Dad
Reduces that day
That week
Those years
To an inventory of moments.
A poem for the dying
“It is never too late,
And it is always.”
An obituary draft
“He was a great man
Who showed us how to be great people.”
A speech
“His heart never failed anyone.”
I light a candle today
That I’ve missed before
I recite Kaddish
That I’ve chanted a thousand times
As reader and sometimes mourner.
The yahrzeit calculator
Tells me the Hebrew date
For year times to come
A list to 2038.
I wonder which of them
I will have to miss
If there is a folder
A poem a speech
For me.


White House Music: Love the Way You Lie (Updated)

Update: See below for news of 2012 tweet from Trump, commenting about Rihanna’s real life abuse situation, saying that if she is dating Chris Brown “She has a death wish. A beater is always a beater.”

Donald Trump and John Kelly probably haven’t ever heard Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rihanna. Maybe the younger, just-resigned, spouse-abusing White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter has, though he didn’t take it personally.

If you haven’t seen the interview with Porter’s second ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby (the first was also abused), please watch it. It is one of the most articulate, honest and compelling testimonies about abuse you will see. She explains how it is possible to stay in what in retrospect looks like an impossible and dangerous relationship. She also warns Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s closest aides and Porter’s current girlfriend, to be careful.

Anyway, Love the Way You Lie popped up on a playlist today. Maybe coincidence, maybe not. Maybe the White House, still trying to figure out how to defend Porter, should listen.


Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well, that’s all right
Because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well, that’s all right
Because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie


I can’t tell you what it really is
I can only tell you what it feels like
And right now there’s a steel knife in my windpipe
I can’t breathe, but I still fight while I can fight
As long as the wrong feels right, it’s like I’m in flight
High off her love, drunk from her hate
It’s like I’m huffin’ paint
And I love her the more I suffer, I suffocate
And right before I’m about to drown she resuscitates me
She fuckin’ hates me, and I love it, “Wait!
Where you going?”, “I’m leaving you.” “No, you ain’t
Come back!” We’re runnin’ right back, here we go again
It’s so insane, ’cause when it’s goin’ good it’s goin’ great
I’m Superman with the wind at his back, she’s Lois Lane
But when it’s bad it’s awful, I feel so ashamed
I snap, “Who’s that dude?”, I don’t even know his name
I laid hands on him, I’ll never stoop so low again
I guess I don’t know my own strength

You ever love somebody so much
You can barely breathe when you’re with ’em?
You meet, and neither one of you even know what hit ’em
Got that warm fuzzy feelin’
Yeah, them chills used to get ’em
Now you’re gettin’ fuckin’ sick of lookin’ at ’em?
You swore you’d never hit ’em, never do nothin’ to hurt ’em
Now you’re in each other’s face
Spewin’ venom in your words when you spit ’em
You push, pull each other’s hair, scratch, claw, bit ’em
Throw ’em down, pin ’em
So lost in the moments when you’re in ’em
It’s the rage that took over, it controls you both
So they say it’s best to go your separate ways
Guess that they don’t know ya
‘Cause today, that was yesterday, yesterday is over
It’s a different day, sound like broken records playin’ over
But you promised her, next time you’d show restraint
You don’t get another chance, life is no Nintendo game
But you lied again
Now you get to watch her leave out the window
Guess that’s why they call it window pane

Now, I know we said things, did things that we didn’t mean
And we fall back into the same patterns, same routines
But your temper’s just as bad as mine is
You’re the same as me when it comes to love
You’re just as blinded, baby, please
Come back, it wasn’t you, baby, it was me
Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems
Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano
All I know is I love you too much to walk away though
Come inside, pick up your bags off the sidewalk
Don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?
Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball
Next time I’m pissed I’ll aim my fist at the drywall
Next time? There won’t be no next time!
I apologize even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games, I just want her back
I know I’m a liar, if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again
I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire


Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well, that’s all right
Because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well, that’s all right
Because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie


From The Hill:

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday resurfaced an old tweet from President Trump denouncing domestic abuse, hours after Trump praised Rob Porter, who resigned as White House staff secretary over allegations that he abused his ex-wives.

In October 2012, Trump tweeted in response to news that singer Rihanna appeared to be once again romantically paired with Chris Brown after he physically assaulted her.

“If Rihanna is dating Chris Brown again then she has a death wish,” Trump wrote. “A beater is always a beater– just watch!”