Accept Your Death…

Author: Gary Hart

At a very low point in my life, I saw an improbable but achievable goal disappear almost literally overnight.  Thereafter, I received upwards of ten thousand letters, overwhelmingly kind, generous, understanding and supportive.  But, of course, this was thirty years ago before the age of trolling, bitterness, and meanness.

Even after this much passage of time, one letter is indelible.  It came from a college friend of even more decades ago.  This is what it said: “On the eve of a great battle, the chief of a large Native American tribe gathered his warrior-braves and said this: ‘Accept your death and become dangerous.’”

Accept your death and become dangerous.

Long reflection has led to this interpretation.  To accept your death does not mean to become reckless or needlessly to throw your life away.  It means to know that life is finite.  At some point it ends for all of us, whether in […] Continue Reading…


Author: Gary Hart

Great Britain was awash in immigrants, many from its former empire and therefore of darker color.  It was enmeshed in complex trade agreements that convinced those whose wages had stagnated that those agreements were profiting trading partners at their expense.  The bankers in the City of London were perceived as the elite whose children went to the best public schools and chartered the largest yachts in the Mediterranean.  The worst of it was the European Union whose bureaucrats were running everything.

Most of all, Britain was no longer great.  So, the British Government provided a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union and in 2016 the Leavers carried the day.  Britain would be great again and possibly recapture its imperial status into the bargain.

It seems odd that few, if any, have seen the remarkable parallel between Great Britain and the United States since 2016.  It is […] Continue Reading…

Can It Happen Here?

Author: Gary Hart

The social and political glue that holds democracies, especially large-scale, diverse democracies, together are institutions and laws, particularly where they are enumerated in a written Constitution.  But there are also unwritten rules or norms that guide the conduct of those elected and appointed to operate our government on a daily basis.

“…two norms stand out as fundamental to a functioning democracy: mutual toleration and institutional forbearance.”  This conclusion is reached by two authorities on democratic government, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in How Democracies Die, a deeply disturbing and sobering recent book.

They attribute America’s political stability through a civil war, depressions, and many setbacks to the willingness of our two major parties to respect these unwritten rules.  But, they conclude, the process of racial inclusion begun after World War II and culminating in civil rights legislation in the mid-1960 began the process of political polarization that have led us to […] Continue Reading…

Juliana v US

Author: Gary Hart

A while back I posted a message from my friend Bill Becker, managing director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, regarding a suit brought by 20 young people against the US Government on the theory their lives were diminished or threatened by global warming.  Elizabeth particularly paid attention to this and wanted more information.  Here is the message Bill sent today.  GH

For those who did not see 60 Minutes Sunday night, it aired a story about Juliana v United States, the lawsuit being pursued by 21 young people against the U.S. government to stop its support of fossil fuels. You’ll find it here:

William Becker
Executive Director
Presidential Climate Action Project

A Businessman in Government

Author: Gary Hart

Practically everyone who has held office in the national government has heard, usually more than once, “why can’t we run the government like a business” or “let’s put a business person in the White House.”

Well, now these critics got their wish and, so far, it isn’t working out so well.

The current occupant had no national security, intelligence, or foreign policy experience.  He has let many State Department and U.S. Embassies stagnate.  He wants the Defense Department to organize parades.  He doesn’t have time or interest for intelligence briefings that are prepared by professional experts to bring him up to date on developments that affect our security.

Aside from a massive, deficit and debt-ridden tax cut for the wealthy, he inherited a growing economy and at least has stood aside to let it continue.  Otherwise, he has shown no tolerance for complex fiscal and monetary issues.

But all this is far from […] Continue Reading…

Damage Repair

Author: Gary Hart

When the era of Trump concludes, much work will need to be done.  The list is long but must surely include restoring and restructuring our alliances with our allies, returning to stewardship of our public resources, rebuilding public education, constructing a workable health care system, climate protection, and much else.

As a perceived “liberal”, it may surprise some that I propose adding to this list the repair of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to the U.S. Department of Justice (of which I am an alumnus), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and all other agencies that comprise the national intelligence and law enforcement network.

For reasons still to be disclosed, Mr. Trump set out to demean this network and each of its component parts even during his campaign.  Since assuming the highest office of the land, and after taking […] Continue Reading…

America’s national identity is defined by its first principles.

In four years, my father’s family will have lived on this continent for 300 years.  Does that make me more American than a young Guatemalan woman who has just pronounced the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States “and the Republic for which it stands”.  That Republic was and is and always will be based upon its founding principles.

What makes us both American is belief in our first principles.  In America, nationality is not defined by race, creed, color, religion, or ethnicity.  It is defined by allegiance to a set of principles more clearly defined than any other nation on earth.

So the test of our patriotism, of our Americanism, is adherence to those principles.  When those of us who are American citizens, from whatever background, accept and follow those principles, then we are part of America.  When we […] Continue Reading…

Where Have You Gone, Elizabeth

Author: Gary Hart

We are missing Elizabeth Miller’s sometimes acerbic wit, keen insights, and often challenging observations.  We hope she is well and will return to this site when she is able.  Our numbers are too small to let anyone disappear.  The advantage of small membership is the identity each member reveals.  Perhaps nostalgically, I sense the identity of each of our regular commentators and the often illuminating exchanges that occasionally occur.  In moments of crises of the soul, I have sometimes been guilty of straying from the forum of political opinion and, if so, I pray that was not the cause of her leaving.  I promise not to indulge in my own personal preoccupations again.  Be well, Elizabeth, and come back to the matters of principle forum.  Gary

We all have our models, prototypes, frameworks, and agendas for sorting the bus load of candidates for the Democratic nomination for president.  The categories include gender, race, generation, and experience.  Some will sort among the several women, some among the minorities, some will want young and others will want older, and then there will be the struggle over who is the most liberal/progressive, as defined by a whole basket of issues.

Let’s step back and assess the situation.  By November 2020, we will have had four years of White House and Cabinet chaos, an endless struggle over a Melvillian wall, and most of all the destruction of almost eight decades of relative solidarity among Western democracies and others over security, trade, environment, and economic stability.

This is the reality the next president will face.  He or she will have three choices: continue Trumpian isolationism; rebuild the post-World War II alliances; construct […] Continue Reading…

Active Measures

Author: Gary Hart

Sometime last year a documentary entitled Active Measures was released.  A recent viewing revealed that it is a painstaking, well-documented review of Donald Trump’s activities and associations in Russia.  It makes no effort to be “fair and balanced”.  But there seems to have been no critical, documented rebuttal of the case against this continuing close association.

The crux of the matter, leading up to Trump’s unexpected presidential victory, has to do with the confluence of Russian oligarchical money, virtually all traceable to Vladimir Putin, and the global Trump hotel dynasty.

Following disastrously failed casino ventures in New Jersey, Trump experienced a series of bankruptcies and found conventional bank financing scarce.  Through ties Paul Manafort and others developed with spectacularly wealthy Russian oligarchs, money soon became available for the Trump Tower in New York, condominium developments in Florida and elsewhere, and a variety of other Trump branded hotels world-wide.

In virtually every case […] Continue Reading…