Bob Schwartz

Month: October, 2018



For K

The birds don’t keep a calendar
or mark occasions.
Every day is an event
for celebration and music.
But today from the first slice of sun
that is their cue
I heard the wordless symphony
include you in the manifest of wonders.

The Incomparable Incredible Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin


A Sufi story:

Guess What?

A wag met Nasrudin. In his pocket he had an egg. “Tell me, Mulla; are you any good at guessing games?”

“Not bad,” said Nasrudin.

“Very well, then: Tell me what I have in my pocket.”

“Give me a clue, then.”

“It is shaped like an egg, it is yellow and white inside, and it looks like an egg.”

“Some sort of a cake,” said Nasrudin.

Idries Shah, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin

About Mulla Nasrudin:

The Mulla is variously referred to as very stupid, improbably clever, the possessor of mystical secrets. The dervishes use him as a figure to illustrate, in their teachings, the antics characteristic of the human mind….

The Sufis, who believe that deep intuition is the only real guide to knowledge, use these stories almost like exercises. They ask people to choose a few which especially appeal to them, and to turn them over in the mind, making them their own. Teaching masters of the dervishes say that in this way a breakthrough into a higher wisdom can be effected.

But the Sufis concur with those who are not following a mystic way, that everyone can do with the Nasrudin tales what people have done through the centuries – enjoy them.

Idries Shah, The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin

It is impossible to hear these stories without thinking about Marx Brothers movies, and particularly about Duck Soup (1933). That movie is about the nation of Freedonia, which hires the world’s biggest idiot, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx), to be its leader. He brings along a crew of other idiots, Chicolini (Chico Marx) and Pinky (Harpo Marx), to help him ruin the country.

Chicolini: Now I aska you one. What has a trunk, but no key, weighs 2,000 pounds and lives in a circus?
Prosecutor: That’s irrelevant.
Chicolini: Irrelephant? Hey, that’sa that answer. There’s a whole lot of irrelephants in the circus.

* * *

Rufus T. Firefly: Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot. But don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

Trump’s Scorched-America Strategy

scorched-earth: relating to or being a military strategy involving deliberate and usually widespread destruction of property and resources (such as housing and factories) so that an invading enemy cannot use them.

Trump knows nothing about history or about military strategy. He is, as his closest advisers have said, an idiot. But instinctively, he recognizes that anything or anyone that cannot help him or that might harm him must be destroyed.

A scorched-earth strategy has been used throughout history. In America, this has happened a number of times, including most famously during the Civil War. General Sherman’s March to the Sea, including the burning of Atlanta, caused $100 million (1863 dollars) in damage to Georgia.

Trump’s March includes the attempted destruction of government institutions, public servants, the free press, the rule of law, truthfulness, core American and moral principles, and more. In this, he has been aided and abetted by numerous Republican enablers, who either don’t realize that this is a scorched-America strategy, or who do recognize it and want to be part of the victorious army.

In war, it must be devastating beyond description to watch the land you love, live in, and have developed be totally destroyed. In America, we are learning how that feels.

Front Yard Birds, Back Yard Birds

Front Yard Birds, Back Yard Birds

Sitting between
open window and open window
I hear the birds articulate and awake
sounding sweet, sometimes shrill,
and wise by nature.
They do not compete or argue
and I in the middle
listen and learn not to talk back.


Republicans are either stupid (in a stupor) or think people are stupid. Either way, the fix is in for Kavanaugh.


Even before the limited FBI investigation is completed, at least one Republican Senator has incongruously announced that there is “no corroboration” from an investigation that isn’t done yet.

This is the latest illogical move in a process never designed to approach the truth.

There is never going to be corroboration under these circumstances. Only three eyewitnesses: Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom testified, and Mark Judge, who no doubt repeated to the FBI that due to his blackout drinking he has no memory of the event. Blackout or not, neither Kavanaugh nor Judge are about to own up to activity that is a crime.

Instead, the Republicans are appropriately being asked to determine, in the absence of corroboration, which one is telling the truth. The current position being taken by Republicans is that they really don’t want to call Ford or Kavanaugh a liar. Which position is untenable when two people tell totally inconsistent and opposite stories.

What Republicans really want to ignore is growing corroboration that, aside from the question of the sexual assault, Kavanaugh lied about himself repeatedly throughout his hearing.

Maybe Republicans really are simple-minded and haven’t noticed any of this. Or maybe they are smart enough to know that they are being illogical and deceptive, but expect that American people are stupid enough to believe and support their position.

Would you rather have Senators who are stupid, or Senators who think you are? That may be the question of our time.

The Kavanaugh Hearing and Investigation: A Tiny Preview of What Happens After the Mueller Indictments and Report

As expected, the small accommodation and reasonableness following the Kavanaugh hearing are almost certainly an illusion.

The White House has not just limited the scope of the FBI investigation; it is essentially managing it. Trump and Trump-servile Republicans are more committed than ever to getting Kavanaugh immediately on the Supreme Court—despite his clearly lying, not just about a sexual assault, but about his life. He also exhibited temperament unsuitable for any judge, let alone a Supreme Court Justice: angry, belligerent, evasive, weirdly emotional, and particularly defensive about his drinking. Besides rambling on about how much he liked beer, he rudely asked not one but two United States Senators what they drink. At times, it seemed less like a hearing and more like an intervention for a functioning alcoholic.

The Republicans don’t care. There are going to be plenty of legal questions and cases involving Trump and his associates coming before the Supreme Court. It is essential that Trump have someone fighting for him not just at the Court but on the Court. Nothing can stand in the way of that.

Kavanaugh is tainted, thanks to his own behavior, and will remain so if and as long as he sits on the Court. He is in his fifties, those who knew him, worked with him, and socialized with him are in their fifties or younger. For decades, revelations will keep coming out about the real Brett Kavanaugh. As angry as that may make him—and us—he will have the ultimate advantage if he is on the Court, as one of the nine most powerful people in America—with lifelong tenure.

The bigger point is that this has been a preview of what Trump, his executive staff—including the Justice Department and the FBI—and the Republicans will do as soon as the cascade of indictments and the report come from Mueller. If you thought last week was crazy, fasten your seatbelts—it’s going to be a wild and bumpy ride.