The wise and the witless

Posted by Tom Camfield

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”—Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1048-1131)

Omar Khayyam was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet. He was born in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, and spent most of his life near the court of the Karakhanid and Seljuq rulers in the period which witnessed the First Crusade. As a mathematician, he is most notable for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations, where he provided geometric solutions by the intersection of conics. Khayyam also contributed to the understanding of the parallel axiom. As an astronomer, he designed the Jalali calendar, a solar calendar with a very precise 33-year cycle.—from Wikipedia

I’ve had a copy of the Rubaiyat for around 65 years. Not only because I’m enjoyed portions of his poetry—for instance: “Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring/Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:/The Bird of Time has but a little way/To flutter — and the Bird is on the Wing.”

or: ”A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,/A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou/ Beside me singing in the Wilderness/ Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow.”

Such expression was inspirational to me back when my blood was pumping with the fire of youth. It all had such a romantic, free spirit song to it. It was the stuff of which dreams are made.

It’s also been almost exactly 900 years since the Rubaiyat was written in 1120—close to a millennium ago—and should be a sort of a revelation to those who find it difficult to conceive of vastly greater intelligence and competence than their own so long, long ago—especially in places such as present-day Iran (then Persia). Personally, I’ve always suspected that human kind has dumbed down some over the past couple of thousand years. Whatever, I envy the intelligence of “Omar the tent-maker.” He has a place alongside da Vinci and Einstein in my personal pantheon of inspirational scholars of history.

I chose the introductory quote from the Rubaiyat above to point out to those impressed by lying politicians such as Donald Trump that much smarter people than they been around (even in Iran) for untold centuries. And one of them long ago pointed out (the introductory lines above) that words uttered today are not a mere ephemeral convenience of the moment, forgotten by the world overnight. They live on, and those who speak them are held accountable—hoisted more often than not, as it were, by they own petard. And yes, I have in mind here the likes of Donald Trump, virtue’s albatross in today’s world..

I mentioned da Vinci (1452-1519) because he was history’s probably all-time greatest mind—inventor, painter/sculptor (including the Mona LIsa), scientist, musician, mathematician. engineer, geologist, astronomer, writer, historian, cartographer, botanist, etc. Definitely one of a kind for the ages.

WITH SPACE TO SPARE here, I turn to the comparative mindlessness infesting modern-day politics at high levels. Bring on briefly, for instance, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, an antithesis of objectivity and intelligence in my view. Appointed to the court by Reagan in 1982 he is best remembered as having been charged with sexual misconduct by Anita Hill. HIs career as a jurist has been unspectacular. On Feb. 19 he urged the court to peel back long-standing libel protections for news outlets. This as Donald Trump was suggesting ways of penalizing Saturday Night Live for lampooning him—and continuing, of course, to rave about “fake news” and the press being “the enemy of the people.”

Thomas, charged with defending the tenets of our Constitution, thus proposes emasculating the very first amendment’s protections of Free Speech and Freedom the Press.

You all know by now how I feel about Donald Trump. He belittles superior minds with loud, repetitious use of the puerile simplistic portion of the English language. I’ll pause here for just this quote from one experienced expert of Republican descent: “We have a delusional, unhinged madman in the Oval Office, and anything is possible.”—David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President Ronald Reagan.

Omar, Rubaiyat


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Justin Hale

This from Wikipedia,

"Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement, and on July 1, 1991, President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace him. Marshall had been the only African-American justice on the court.[38] In announcing his selection, Bush called Thomas the "best qualified [nominee] at this time."[35]"

So in your mind the second Black to hold the high honor of Supreme court Justice is to be remembered for being accused of sexual misconduct, not proven mind you, just accused. Does "innocent until proven guilty" mean anything to you Tom? I agree with Thomas, the press should not be able to hide behind the first amendment when they libel and slander people. With freedoms come responsibilities.

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Tom Camfield

Justice Thomas gets no free pass just because he's Black. As Martin Luther King himself suggested, I tend to judge someone not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. Don't even begin to hint that racism has ever infected me. As for sexual abuse, White Justice Kavenaugh also has a shadow over his character that is similar to that of Thomas. It's enough to give one pause when future votes on women's rights might come to a vote.

Meanwhile the press is not "hiding" behind the First Amendment. It also does not cower before autocratic government officials such as Donald, no matter how much he brays about his singular greatness and seeks special privilege and entitlement. The Truth put forth by the press is not libelous; it is actually just what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. The press has actually adopted this freedom upon itself as an ethical obligation. Donald, on the other hand, has skated on pretty thin defamatory ice with his insults of individual citizens.

The American press is the standard-bearer of the First Amendment.

And you still haven't answered the fact that Thomas, supposedly in a position charged with upholding the Constitution, feels that the court should dilute the very freedom of speech and of the press guaranteed so prominently in the Constitution. Just because Donald doesn't like the personal inconvenience of a free press enlightening the public—including being lampooned on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

I'm also a fan of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Justin Hale

"Don't even begin to hint that racism has ever infected me." But it's OK for you to accuse others, right?

" White Justice Kavenaugh also has a shadow over his character that is similar to that of Thomas."....There shouldn't be. Nothing was proved, both men went on to the SCOTUS, get over it.

"The Truth put forth by the press is not libelous".....Agreed, but that shouldn't give them immunity from libel, slander or defamation of character charges.

"The American press is the standard-bearer of the First Amendment. ".....I'd be happy if they just stuck to the 4-W's.

The ones "diluting" the first amendment are those in the MSM who abuse it by letting their personal bias color how they report the "news". Maybe I'm naive but I always thought that the news was supposed to reporting the facts as known.

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Fred Camfield

Opinions reported in the public press are normally reported as opinions. They go by the abbreviation, op-eds. If you go to the trouble of reading major newspapers such as the Washington Post, they have an array of contributors, usually representing all sides (liberal and conservative). As to reporting, someone has to tell the emperor when he is wearing no clothes. As to members of the Supreme Court, appointments are based on political backing rather than intelligence, and members of the Court tend to represent opinions on both sides of any issue. It is rare to have a unanimous agreement. Qualifications - Kavanaugh was opposed by the American Bar Association because of a lack of judicial temperament which is a separate issue.

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Justin Hale

I know the difference between a news story, and a fake news story where the journalist inbeds / slants his/her opinion into the story, and an opinion piece. I realize that Toms blogs are just his biased partisan opinions often including mistakes, such as saying that Reagan appointed Justice Thomas to the SCOTUS, and often telling half the story. Tom has the right to call the POTUS nasty names, ridicule and slander as he does in almost every blog he writes. Tom knows that freedom of the press protections has it's limitations.

Monday, March 4, 2019
Tom Camfield

I don’t agree that you know the differences of news, opinion, lies and fakery, Justin. But it's a Free Press that is allowing you to express your opinions here, just as it accommodates my views. I find the fakery of Donald Trump to be a sickening thing and a danger to our society.

News tells us what’s happening, involving what or whom—such as a hurricane, the response of our government, how in their words our elected representatives evaluate it, etc. The Puerto Rico disaster might be a good example. Were the president’s perceived shortcomings in providing humanitarian aid “fake news?” Should the press have declined to make on-the-ground coverage of the suffering or interviewed Puerto Rican officials because that would fail to exalt our pompous head of state?

The press accurately quotes the words of Donald Trump every time he grabs a microphone and proceeds to rant. It also quotes experts way more qualified than he (but with lesser power) who have opinions contrary to his. The public is not limited to some one-sided view represented by Donald’s misleading bombast and White House press releases.

I will continue to view Donald Trump as incompetent, inexperienced and maddened by his own ego. That is my right as a voting U. S. citizen, as a compassionate human being and as a journalist. As I came to one of life’s major crossroads at a very young age, I turned left toward generosity rather than right toward greed.

Meanwhile, my perceived bias doesn’t claim to be pure news, although I try to cite documented news sources at every opportunity. I am in the opinion realm occupied by editorial writers, syndicated columnists, and those who write letters to the editor. And I also comment often in the opinion sections of the Washington Post and The New York Times, both of which I subscribe to.

You seem to be more of a cherry-picker, Justin, defending our farce of a president by gnawing away at the edges of my articles.

Monday, March 4, 2019
Justin Hale

"I don’t agree that you know the differences of news, opinion, lies and fakery, Justin.".....Well, how about we do a simple quiz. I think your blogs are partisan anti-Trump Opinions,Not news, am I right or am I right?

Yes, you will continue to ridicule and slander our President for the next two years, if that is how you choose to exercise your first amendment rights so be it. What I really want to see is if the MSM and partisans such as yourself hold the next President to the same scruntity, Nit Picking you would call it.

I've defended every President there was, even those I didn't vote for.

Monday, March 4, 2019
Tom Camfield

You're partially right, Justin. My blogs are definitely personal opinion, as that is the nature of such writing. Like editorials, letters to the editor and syndicated columns, such blogs are a portion of free speech and press that allow citizens to respond to corruption in high places. However, these opinions are based on news. Donald is elected; we are this legally allowed and morally bound to spotlight his words and actions and the manner in which they affect our lives.

Here' are a couple of lines from a current story in the Washington Post: “The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 claims a day. As of the end of March 3, the 773rd day of his term in office, Trump accumulated 9,014 fishy claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president."

When the press, in any way points to the inherent lies of Donald Trump every time he opens his mouth, he never factually refutes any of the charges. He has no truth upon which to draw in defense of his remarks. So he just blithely dismisses the press with a fatuous charge of "fake news." Grade school-level debate evasion that appeals to the ill-informed, self-absorbed and lazy minds of much of his base supporters; they do catch his pep rallies on TV—which totally misrepresent reality.

Against charges of slander or libel, the Truth is its own defense. Donald tries to pawn off a phony truth to support the convenience of his own ego. He slanders others in the process. In court arguments, I suspect my comments would stand up better than those of Donald, no matter how many attorneys he hires.

I don't support every president just because he's in office. George W. Bush was an example. We're still dragging along in the war he took us into 16 years ago and many still are suffering the effects of the economic recession he dropped on us 11 years ago. We won't in my probable remaining lifetime be able to repair the damage Donald Trump is doing to the environment, the federal debt and virtue in the soul of our society.

And enough about references to Main-Stream Media. You must be trying to make a disreputable label out of American's traditional free press, which existed prior to the Revolution and was specifically one of the very first protections penned by the framers of the Constitution. The media, in any case, include also conservative ones, and even they are not to fond of Donald right now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019