Bob Schwartz

Tag: Abraham Lincoln

Quinnipiac University Poll: 72% of Republicans Say That Trump Is a Good Role Model for Children

Quinnipiac University National Poll :

It is important that a president be a good role model for children, 90 percent of American voters say, but President Donald Trump is not a good role model for children, these voters say 67 – 29 percent in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.

There is almost no gender gap in grading President Trump’s standing as a role model. Every party, gender, education, age and racial group, except Republicans, say the president falls short, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds.

Republicans say 72 – 22 percent that Trump is a good role model for children.

Inaugural Concert 2017


Look closely at Lincoln
Watching the Inaugural Concert of 2017
Below his monumental chair.
A slave to stone and circumstance
Eyes fixed open on a scene
Out of his control.
He tries not to think back
To other gatherings
On other occasions
Not like this.
Not at all like this.
Look closely
To see him
Struggling to escape
Not just to free himself
But to descend the steps
A giant in the crowd
Striding and proclaiming
What he had seen
And done
And hoped.
Instead he sits
Unmoving and silent
Witness to a truth
A struggle
He lived and died for:
Even now
Even this
All is not lost
All is never lost.

Lincoln Proclaims Thanksgiving: “Penitence for our national perverseness”

“Thanksgiving-Day,” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, December 5, 1863.

“Thanksgiving-Day,” by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, December 5, 1863.

The modern Thanksgiving holiday begins with Abraham Lincoln issuing a Thanksgiving Day proclamation on October 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War.

At that point, America was a country of two cultures; in fact, of two nations at war. Even history was the subject of dispute. The North traced our national origin to the Puritans of New England, thus Thanksgiving was their American holiday. The South believed America began with the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.

In his proclamation, Lincoln calls for healing and for “peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.” In terms of union, however, it isn’t clear who Lincoln refers to when he asks for “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” Exactly who has been perverse and disobedient?

One thing is clear. Even with all his divine pleas, Lincoln calls this conflict of principles and cultures inevitable—“the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged.”

Lincoln held a famously and understandably dark view of his American times, shaded by realities and by his own depressive personality. We can and should take a brighter view this Thanksgiving, having come so far from the America of 1863, and having much to be thankful for. But just as we repeat his call for “peace, harmony, tranquillity” we are remiss to ignore the realities of 2016. Like Lincoln, we should be big, open and wise enough to see things as they are, and to change them as needed, always being painfully aware of the cost.

From his proclamation:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Create a Fragrance by Abraham Lincoln

Trump Success Launch

We know what Donald Trump thinks that driven and confident men should smell like.


“Success By Trump captures the spirit of the driven man. The scent is an inspiring blend of fresh juniper and iced red currant, brushed with hints of coriander. As it evolves, the mix of frozen ginger, fresh bamboo leaves and geranium emerge taking center stage, while a masculine combination of rich vetiver, tonka bean, birchwood and musk create a powerful presence throughout wear.”


“Empire by Trump is the perfect accessory for the confident man determined to make his mark with passion, perseverance and drive. For those who aspire to create their own empire through personal achievement, this dynamic scent is both compelling and leaves a lasting impression. Bold notes of peppermint, spicy chai and a hint of apple demand attention.”

What would a fragrance by Abraham Lincoln be like? What would he call it? How would he describe it?

Abraham Lincoln

To get started, here is the list of ingredients Trump put in his fragrances, Success and Empire. But please feel free to be creative. You are creating a fragrance for one of our greatest Presidents.

Bamboo leaves
Red currant
Tonka bean

You Can Stop Worrying About Trump Being the Republican Nominee. But You Can’t Stop Worrying.

New York Daily News - Trump for Prez

If you were worrying about Donald Trump being the official nominee of the Republican Party, you can stop worrying about that, no matter what the results of Super Tuesday voting.

I have predicted for months that the GOP would never allow him to be its standard bearer, no matter what the delegate numbers. Whether that means changing the nominating rules, or splitting the party, or whatever, that part isn’t as clear. But the party of Lincoln and Reagan was never going to be Trump’s to represent.

The party will find a way to deny him its blessing. And then Trump will execute what has always been his contingency plan: amass as much support and publicity as possible, and then run as an independent candidate. Or maybe run as the candidate of a portion of the split Republican Party. And then win the presidency with a plurality of votes.

That’s where your worrying shouldn’t stop. Forget all the talk about people flocking to Trump because of their frustration and anger about political gridlock and ineffectiveness. You don’t have to take a deep dive into the research to see that tens of million Americans want to roll back progress not to the Reagan years, but to the years before civil rights and other modern principles of tolerance and equality. (My sad favorite remains the Trump supporter wearing a baseball cap saying “Make Racism Great Again!”).

These people may not be your friends, but they are your neighbors and fellow voters. Whether there are enough of them to elect a President of the United States is an open question. It certainly would be easier if they had the passive imprimatur of the Republican Party. But it finally appears they will not. Which is a good thing.

Unless we do have a multi-candidate election. And one of them is Donald Trump. Because one of them will win.

Suit and Tie: The Sad and Silly Syrian Election

Syrian President Assad Votes

It is reported that President Bashar al-Assad wore a dark suit and light blue tie for voting in today’s Syrian election. Good reporting. He looked good. So did his wife Asma.

Assad actually had opponents, the first time Syria has had a contested presidential election in fifty years. No one could think that this opposition meant anything. The other candidates could not think so. And yet there were supporters and voters at the polls, maybe out of fear, maybe out of hope, maybe just wanting to pretend things are normal. Some new normal, so that with one more term, a few more years added to his enlightened regime, there would be no more deaths after the 160,000, no more displaced and refugees after the millions.

Journalists and other nations are sworn by a sense of fairness and professionalism and diplomacy and sovereignty to pretend that this is an election, even if they have some quibbles. They might, if they had a better sense of irony or humor, treat it like Halloween or Mardi Gras. An occasion on which one dresses up to play the part of something you are not, say, a democratically elected leader in dark suit and light blue tie.

The U.S. also had an election during a civil war. Lincoln did have opposition and he did win. Whatever he wore when he voted, he certainly didn’t look as slick as Assad, nor was Mary Todd as socialite beautiful as Asma. By that point Lincoln was deeply tired and sick of the horrible conflict and would do anything he could to finally end it. The good news is that there would be only a few more months of war. The not so good news is that even with the good that came, it would take decades for the wounds to begin healing. The worst news, for Lincoln and the country, is that he would soon be assassinated.

Lincoln and the civil war were sad but never silly. Assad, in his dark suit and light blue tie, within this hollow semblance of an election, is sad and morbidly silly. Unlike Lincoln, he may be around for years, continuing to rack up votes and deaths. But looking real good.

Better to Remain Silent

Abraham Lincoln
Most of us have quotes that we trot out frequently, because they say what we mean better than we could ever say it ourselves. And also because the speaker or writer has some stature that we will never attain.

This is one of the ones I repeat often. In addition to talking heads on hundreds of media outlets, we now have talking heads on millions of social media outlets (yes, including me and this one). Lots of sense, lots and lots of nonsense. I would put this on signs everywhere, as a reminder not only about other people (where the fools are of course found) but about ourselves (where foolishness can be found too).

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool
than to speak out and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln

The Next Civil War: Religion

Lincoln Penny
A few years ago, I proposed that the American divide over abortion might one day reach the dangerous depths of a much earlier conflict over slavery. Not since slavery—not even with still-festering questions about racial and other inequalities—has an issue had such a basic and visceral impact.

The poll numbers on abortion have shifted, the judicial context may be stable (for the moment), but the legislative activity is still a battlefield: among the initiatives, just today Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a law prohibiting insurers that offer abortion coverage from participating in the state’s exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Yet even with that, abortion will not be the biggest issue that cleaves America in the next few years. It will be, much more than it is now, religion.

Not one religion against another, or one religion-based position against another. We are approaching the point where half of America has an explicit or implicit affinity with some organized religious denomination or belief, and half does not. The not includes a wide range from atheists, agnostics, areligionists or anti-religionists to those who are “spiritual but not religious.”

America is not a theocracy or, officially, a theocratic democracy. But “theocratic democracy” (see Israel) is the way a number of Americans see it approvingly. Our conventions, traditions and even our money support this, and when they didn’t support it sufficiently, it was enhanced—as when during the Cold War against godless Communism, “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

The dynamic between religious and secular has long played out in America in just about every official sphere. But in the past, those who fought for the secular and even succeeded (prayer in schools) were considered an aberrant and weird fringe. The fringe is now a minority, but still in some eyes, aberrant and weird. What happens when that fringe turned minority becomes an equal partner in American civics, citizens who are guided by bright moral lights, just not those that emanate from lamps they don’t believe in and refuse to support—or allow to rule their lives? What then?

Abraham Lincoln said we could not survive half-slave and half-free. The nineteenth century would not have hinted at it. but the American twenty-first may be half-God, half-not. What might Lincoln say then?

Howard Finster on the Day after Washington’s Fake Birthday

Howard Finster - George Washington in Another World

This is about Howard Finster, “Man of Visions”, not strictly about George Washington. But Finster, America’s greatest modern folk/self-taught artist, loved Washington and frequently pictured him (above is Washington in Another World, where Finster believed he would meet the great man one day).

Finster also liked Abraham Lincoln, and some of the artist’s more than 10,000 works featured that former President.

Howard Finster - Abraham from a Penny

Knowing Finster’s biography and back story is interesting and helpful, but looking at his pictures (and there are plenty to be found online) is much more enlightening and uplifting. This is from Artnet:

Howard Finster (American, December 2, 1916–October 22, 2001) was a Modern Folk artist from Summerville, GA. He was one of 13 children raised on a farm, and he attended school only until the sixth grade. Finster’s interest in the gospel began at a Baptist revival when he was just 13 years old. A preacher at age 16, he wrote articles for the local newspaper while giving sermons in churches. In the late 1940s, Finster built his first garden park museum, featuring the exhibit The Inventions of Mankind.

The exhibit was intended to be a representation of all the inventions ever created, and it included a duck pond and a flock of pigeons. In 1961, Finster ran out of space and decided to purchase four additional acres of land in Pennville, GA. This is where he envisioned the Plant Farm Museum, a collection of Garden of Eden-like creations featuring attractions such as The Mirror House, Bible House, and the Folk Art Chapel. Scattered throughout were signs containing Bible verses, because Finster believed that “They stuck in people’s heads better that way.”

Finster did not learn how to paint in a university; instead he was self-taught, and most of his work was inspired by visions. He believed he was sent to Earth to spread the word of God, and he retired from preaching in 1965 to improve his Plant Farm Museum. This lasted until 1976, when he was inspired to paint only sacred art of religious inspiration that was intended to uplift and inspire. These images ranged from Pop icons to religious figures, such as his interpretation of John the Baptist. A year earlier, Finster was featured in Esquire magazine, and was eventually asked to create four paintings for the Library of Congress in 1977, one of which was titled He Could Not Be Hid.

Finster often created images on flat picture planes with Bible verses squeezed in. Each one also included a number because, under God’s direction, he felt he had to generate a total of 5,000 paintings. Finster finished this feat in 1985, but continued to paint until his death in 2001. By then, he had created over 10,000 works of art.

You can think real hard about how we celebrate Washington’s birthday on a day that isn’t his birthday, and how some people mistakenly call it President’s Day, and how we don’t celebrate Lincoln’s birthday at all, despite the fact that he might win an Oscar this year.

Save yourself the trouble. Immerse yourself in the visions of Howard Finster, and everything will make sense to you.


Walt Whitman Helps Launch Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Walt Whitman
First it was Abraham Lincoln in the new television campaign for the Lincoln Motor Company (the founder of that firm was a fan of the president, back when the company was started in 1917).

Lincoln Motor Company

Now Walt Whitman, the father of modern American poetry and, coincidentally, a big fan of Lincoln himself, is helping to launch this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (January 8-11).

Whitman will probably not be seen emerging from a mysterious fog as Lincoln does in the commercial, although that would be unspeakably cool.

Instead, Whitman’s most famous line of poetry is quoted (without attribution) in the official description of the very first CES SuperSession

The Digital Health Revolution: Body, Mind and Soul
January 8, 2013, 9:30-10:30 a.m.

“I sing the body electric” takes on new meaning in our brave new digital world, where devices let us monitor everything from our stress levels to our genetic sequences, and devices with 100 real-time biosensors loom on the horizon. Join moderator Arianna Huffington as she leads four digital health leaders in conversation — on the latest innovations in the field, how those innovations have the potential to change lives, and what the digital revolution means for the body, mind, and soul.

The literarily perspicacious will notice that the first line of copy includes allusions to two groundbreaking writers—not just Whitman, but also Aldous Huxley. Huxley’s Brave New World vision is actually much closer to what is going on at CES than Whitman’s. Unfortunately, Huxley will not be coming out of the mist either, though the thought of his joining up with Whitman in Las Vegas to look at the latest gadgets is mind-blowing—even without Huxley’s Soma or LSD. Add Lincoln, and it is the stuff that dream movies are made of (Steven Spielberg, are you listening?).

Back to Whitman, I Sing The Body Electric is included in his Leaves of Grass (1855). Whitman’s work was a sensation, in part because of his unabashed celebration of the splendor and wonder of the human body and sexuality. The poem is just such a celebration, a spiritual anatomy lesson that is like a painting, whose message is: be not ashamed.

It isn’t clear that is what the CES copywriter had in mind, though writers generally deserve much more credit than they get. If the point is that digital pioneers plan to touch every part of our bodies, that works too.

Meanwhile, Whitman—whose use of the term “electric” was itself quite pioneering—would probably be happy to see his poem alive and well in the context of keeping and making people healthy, head to toe, organ to organ. See you in Vegas, Walt.

For the digiterati and literati, here is the closing section of the poem:

O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and that they are my poems,
Man’s, woman’s, child’s, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s, father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!