Patriotism vs. Nationalism


Patriotism vs. Nationalism

(In his astounding and brief best seller OnTyranny, author Timothy Snyder, a Professor of History at Yale University, details the stark difference between honest Patriotism and Nationalism, the exact opposite of Patriotism. On this Veterans day, I’m offering a targeted reading of Prof. Snyder’s Chapter 19, “Be A Patriot”, while Trump is doubling down on his attacks on true American Patriots, like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor, whose lifetimes of selfless, public- service to this country, stand in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s lifetime of self-service and his boisterous and brainless declarations that he is a “Nationalist.” I urge you to carefully read these powerful words from Professor Timothy Synder and circulate them across all social media. Then, go out and purchase a copy of his small, very readable 126-page book, On Tyranny, which may be among the most important things you read during the House Impeachment Hearings and the Senate Trial of Donald Trump v. the United States of America.)

“What is patriotism? Let us begin with what patriotism is not. It is not patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock war heroes and their families. It is not patriotic to discriminate against active-duty members of the armed forces in one’s companies, or to campaign to keep disabled veterans away from one’s property. It is not patriotic to compare one’s search for sexual partners in New York with the military service in Vietnam that one has dodged. It is not patriotic to avoid paying taxes, especially when American working families do pay. It is not patriotic to ask those working , taxpaying American families to finance one’s own presidential campaign, and then to spend their contribution in one own’s companies.

It is not patriotic to admire foreign dictators. It is not patriotic to cultivate a relationship with Muammar Gaddafi; or to say that Bashar Al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are superior leaders. It is notpatriotic to call upon Russia to intervene in an American presidential election. It is not patriotic to cite Russian propaganda at rallies. It is not patriotic to share an advisor with Russian oligarchs. It is not patriotic to solicit foreign policy advice from someone who owns shares in a Russian energy company. It is not patriotic to read a foreign policy speech written by someone on the payroll of a Russian Energy company. It is not patriotic to appoint a national security advisor who has taken money from a Russian propaganda organ. It is not patriotic to appoint as Secretary of State an oilman with Russian financial interests who is the director of a Russian-American energy company and has received the “Order of Friendship” from Putin.

The point is not that Russia and America must be enemies. The point is that patriotism involves serving your own country.

The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best. A nationalist although “endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,” wrote Orwell, tends to be “uninterested in what happens in the real world.” Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kis put it, “nationalism has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.”

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well — and wishing that it would do better.

Democracy failed Europe in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s, and it is failing not only in much of Europe, but in many parts of the world today. It is that history and experiences that reveals to us the dark range of our possible futures. A nationalist will say that “it can’t happen here,” which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it.”



How Admiral McRaven Can Save The Nation…Again.



It’s time for retired Admiral William H. McRaven to topple another tyrant, in a special operation that will not be nearly as dangerous, nor as bloody, as the one he engaged in eight years ago.   In that operation, nicknamed “Operation Neptune Spear,” McRaven organized and oversaw the execution of the U.S. Special Ops raid that ended the reign of terror of Osama Bin Laden.


This time, the dictator, also born into a wealthy family, is not hiding in a sprawling cement compound in Pakistan, but in an historic White House in the center of Washington, D.C.   This time, by using ballots not bullets, “the fate of the Republic depends on” the success of this mission, as McRaven recently wrote in an Op Ed in the New York Times entitled “Our Republic is Under Attack From the President.”


Not only is the Admiral, a decorated 37-year military Veteran who has dedicated his lifetime to serving his country, the right person to lead this urgent mission, but he brings the clear-eyed strength of character, uncompromising integrity and willingness to sacrifice all for a worthy cause which the nation so desperately needs now, after Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to tear up the Constitution, and undermine American National Security Interests.


In a mere matter of weeks, Trump’s catastrophic decision to pull US Troops out of Syria, betrayed our Kurdish allies who lost 11,000 lives fighting ISIS for us, allowed  the Turks to wage their long sought campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, freed hundreds of ISIS terrorists, witnessed demoralized US troops abandon and bomb our own military outposts, and enabled Vladimir Putin to redraw the map of the Middle East, installing  the Russians into a permanent position of occupation in Northern Syria.  And none of those foreign policy atrocities includes the now well-documented illegal shakedown of the Ukrainian government, under siege by the Russians on that country’s eastern front, for dirt on a political opponent, in exchange for Ukraine’s desperately needed military assistance from the US, already authorized by Congress.


The need to oust Trump from the Oval Office is as clear to Admiral McRaven, as it was to his colleague and fellow war veteran, former Ukrainian Ambassador William Taylor, whose scathing testimony before Congress this week, made it clear—under oath—that Trump himself was responsible for the illegal attempted shakedown of the Ukrainians.  With 13,000 Ukrainians having already been killed in the 5-year war with the Russians, Taylor wrote in his opening statement, “more Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without U.S. assistance.”   Trump was not only playing politics and abusing his power, he was playing with human lives, as he carelessly did when he sacrificed the Kurds to the fever dreams of a Turkish tyrant, who carved up the new Syria with Putin, the ultimate beneficiary of all of Trump’s anti-American actions.


The best way for Admiral McRaven to save the nation now and for the long term is to become the Democratic Nominee for President.  There’s still time—about one month–for him to do it through the Democratic Presidential Primaries, by winning some delegates to have his name placed in nomination at the convention in the summer of 2020 in Milwaukee, if no single candidate has secured a majority of the 1885 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot.


In California, for example, where our Presidential Primary is being held on March 3, 2020, “Super Tuesday,” along with 9 other states, McRaven still has until November 26—four weeks away– to file notice of his candidacy for President with the Secretary of State’s office.   Under California election law, McRaven (or anyone) would have to meet only one of several criteria to qualify as a candidate on the primary ballot.


The simplest criterion for McRaven to meet in the shortest period of time is the one which requires the candidate to establish a Presidential webpage or website, after setting up an authorized Presidential Campaign Committee with the Federal Elections Commission.   Once those requirements are met, ,  a “written request submitted on behalf of the candidate by a party qualified to participate in the Primary Election, to the Secretary of State, requesting that the candidate be placed on the ballot,” is all that’s needed.   In other words, if McRaven wants to run for President, and sets up an official campaign committee and a website to prove it, any qualified, registered Democratic Primary voter in the State of California can request that the his name be placed on the ballot.  I volunteer to do it.



Additionally, the Admiral would have until November 26 to provide the Secretary of State with his Federal Income Tax returns for the past five years, a new requirement in the State this year.  Since California alone has 495 Democratic delegates and it’s not a winner take all state, McRaven would have a good shot of picking up some support, particularly when current Statewide polls show Warren, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg and Harris splitting the vote into lots of pieces.  A McCraven candidacy would electrify the electorate looking for a candidate who could clobber Trump and the GOP nationwide.


McRaven’s presence anyplace on the Democratic National ticket in 2020 would, by his very stature, stand in stark contrast to Trump, or any Republican who heads the ticket, since all of them have enabled Trump to abandon our allies and sell-out US National Security Interests.  The Admiral’s Texas roots—where he grew up, went to college and served as University of Texas Chancellor after his military service—would also aid the Democrats in turning Texas blue.   Coupled with a running mate like Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams or Kamala Harris, a McRaven-led ticket could help the Democrats not only take back the White House, but take control of the U.S. Senate as well.


There is still a small window of opportunity to actually make this happen, especially if someone like Mike Bloomberg is willing, for the good of the nation, to help fund the McRaven for President effort.   The only remaining question is whether the Admiral wants to embark on one more Special Operation to save the nation.


After all, as McRaven wrote:  “The fate of our Republic depends on it.”









Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha

(Trump’s acting Director of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, Ken Cucaracha)


Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Can no longer walk too far —

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Where his legs were is a scar!

What doesn’t he have? What doesn’t he have?

Is a backbone or his feet.

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Sold his parts for just one tweet!

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Stepped in the cesspool of his King —

And when he looks down, and when he looks down,

His legs and spine were both missing!

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Can no longer walk too far —

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Where his balls were is a scar!

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

White Supremacist is he.

Ken Cucaracha, Ken Cucaracha,

Crushed by Lady Liberty!

The People vs. Donald Trump: Damn the Senate; Gives Us the Evidence Through Impeachment and We’ll be the Jury.

(A constituent of Congressman Mike Thompson’s (D-Napa/Sonoma Counties) strongly urges him to get off the fence on Impeachment)


Go Back to Where You Came From, Donald Trump.


Go back to where you came from, Donald Trump.

Go back to the bottom of the Jamaica, Queens dump.

Go back to the 1927 KKK rally where your father was arrested,

Go back to your federally funded housing where Black people were rejected.

Go back to Roy Cohn, and coke-sniffing at Studio 54,

Go back to kissing Mobsters asses and salivating for more.

Go back to Gambino, Genovese, Gotti and John Cody,

Go back to being the Mob’s whore, and every Russian’s toady.

Go back to calling for death for the innocent Central Park 5,

Go back to preaching hate in print and on TV, live.

Go back to your mental shitholes, your anti-immigrant bile,

Go back to pinching young pussies, in Jeffrey Epstein-style.

Go back to lying about Obama’s birth,

And 10,000 other things.

Go back to lying about your girth,

And your criminal enterprise rings.

Go back to stealing 9/11 money,

And cheating on your taxes.

Go back to hush money to your honeys,

And pleading for Wiki’s email haxes.

Go back to where you came from, Donald Trump,

Go back to the Ninth Circle of Dante’s Hellish Dump.

Go back to all your mirrors and your hairs — fewer and fewer;

Go back to where you were born, in the scummiest of sewers.

JFK, Jr., & Harry Chapin: Lovers of Life, Brothers in Death


They were always there, right in front of me: Harry Chapin, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., linked in death on the same exact date — July 16.

They died 18 years apart, their age difference, when they were both killed in terrible accidents at 38 years old. Chapin’s brief, shooting-star-of-a-life ended in the fiery crash of a small car on the Long Island Expressway; JFK, Jr.’s, in the crash of a small aircraft, somewhere off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

They were brothers in death, but their families — guided by strong women — and their mutual love for life were intertwined in ways that one of Harry Chapin’s five children, Jason, would come to experience first-hand, in his work directly with JFK, Jr. and his “Reaching Up” non-profit organization. The son of President John F. Kennedy founded “Reaching Up” in 1989 to give greater access to higher education and training to healthcare givers working with individuals with disabilities. The organization’s work not only enlarged the scope of the Special Olympics founded by JFK, Jr’s Aunt Eunice Shriver, but it also shared the compassion and common sense of the life-saving work done by a national non-profit co-founded by singer/songwriter Harry Chapin at the peak of his fame — WHYHunger — still tackling food insecurity in local communities 44 years after it was formed, as well as providing job skills to lift people out of poverty. Chapin and Kennedy were answering similar calls to serve others.

Jason Chapin, who worked with Governor Mario M. Cuomo and was elected to two, four-year terms on the New Castle Town Council in Westchester, County, NY, has, along with his four siblings, carried on his father’s work for WHYHunger and local food banks since 1975. He is the only Chapin to know JFK, Jr., and work with the “Reaching Up” organization and its City University of New York partner (CUNY) from 1995 to 2001.

“John was extremely passionate and dedicated to the organization, “ Jason Chapin said. “ I will always remember our Board Meetings which John chaired. He politely greeted everyone in the room when he arrived. He attended all of the annual Reaching Up Kennedy Fellows Convocations and was very friendly with the Fellows.”

It was precisely the same way JFK, Jr., greeted me at an early 1996 non-profit breakfast at New York’s Plaza Hotel which I attended as a guest of Jason Chapin’s. I was representing Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, and wearing a “We Believe in Brooklyn” button to boost Brooklyn’s visibility among the Manhattan political and media elite. JFK, Jr., who sat a few seats away from me at the circular table, spotted my button as soon as we got seated. He leaned over to me and whispered.

“My family believes in Brooklyn, too,” JFK, Jr. said. “We believe deeply in the Bed Stuy Redevelopment Project,” an important initiative started during the too short Senate term of his uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, when he was NY’s U.S. Senator, from 1965–68. What JFK, Jr., may not have known then was how important Jason Chapin’s grandfather, John Cashmore, was to his own father’s election as President of the United States in 1960. Cashmore, Brooklyn Borough President from 1940–1961, delivered 66% of Kings County’s vote to JFK, helping him beat Nixon in New York State by five percent, and win NY’s 45 electoral votes, giving Kennedy the 303 Electoral votes he needed to win the Presidency.

I told JFK, Jr. how important the BedStuy project was to Central Brooklyn, the community served by our public hospital, and how important his own father’s example of public service was to me in guiding my life’s work.

“You probably get tired of hearing that from so many people of my generation,” I said to JFK, Jr.

“I never get tired of hearing it,” he said. “It makes me proud to see how many people my father inspired.”

Over the more than three decades I’ve known Jason Chapin, I’ve heard him say, with unending politeness and grace, the exact same words about his father, when people tell him Harry Chapin inspired them to commit their lives to fighting poverty, or improving public health, or helping refugees find access to food or shelter.

“I’m always amazed by how many people my father reached, how many lives he touched,” Jason says again and again.

Harry Chapin, like the Kennedys, was not content to sit still, and unafraid to use his celebrity to do good, performing 2000 concerts during his 10-year music career, with half of them as benefits, raising more than $6 million to fight hunger, and millions more on his radio “Hungerthons” with WHYHunger co-founder Bill Ayres, a former Catholic priest who Marched on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963.

As with JFK, Jr., Chapin was encouraged to take his activism, courage and compassion full-time to Washington, and run for the U.S. Senate from New York.

Harry recognized, as JFK, Jr., did with the creation of “Reaching Up” in 1989, that his name attached to any project could attract politicians, the media, the public and funding to the cause. His crusade against hunger and poverty, and his successful campaign to create a Presidential Hunger Commission with the help of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT.) and President Jimmy Carter, exhibited the same instincts that propelled JFK, Jr., to launch “Reaching Up” and George Magazine : they knew that politics and pop culture had merged, and that those in a position to use their fame to improve human existence, and to demonstrate their love for life, had a responsibility to do so.

(Steve Villano is at work on the official biography of Harry Chapin entitled Citizen/Artist: Why Harry Chapin’s Life and Work Matter More Than Ever, to be published in 2020. Villano’s previous book Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother, was published in 2017 by Heliotrope Books, NY, NY.)