Dems: Want To Defeat Trump? Form A Team of Rivals.

The title above is of an  article by Thomas Friedman, an opinion writer in today’s New York Times.   He is one of their veterans who has traveled the world and speaks with words of wisdom on many subjects.  The political world is his specialty.

After or before you pull up the column on your  computer,  Google  A team of rivals.  You will find Doris Kearns Goodwin, the historian who wrote about Abraham Lincoln’s Team of Rivals in her book on that very subject.

Friedman applies Lincoln’s successful strategy to the current presidential campaign .  He suggsts names of people who would fill the most important executive and cabinet positions.  Some are still running  for president while others have dropped out of the race. They all bring valuable experience and strength to the positions they would fill if the top of the ticket is elected.

The debate in  South Carolina this evening brings the current candidates back once more. Michael Bloomberg will make his second appearance after a Town Hall with a live audience and more realistic prepping  by his aides.  His debut appearance was described as a “ disaster” and he met a group the next day saying with humor, “And how was your night yesterday.”

Since Donald Trump was acquitted on Charges of Impeachment, he has pursued weeks of “Rage and Retribution” against his perceived enemies.  This included the government employees who responded to Congressional subpoenas to testify under oath.  Colonel Alexander Vindman who served in the White  House,  former Ambassador to Ukraine, Yovonovitch,  former Ambassador to Ukraine, Taylor , Fiona Hill who worked with John Bolton  National Security Advisor.   Colonel Vindman and his twin brother also a Colonel were marched out of the White House in their uniforms. Marie Yovonovitch after being fired, took a position at Georgetown University in D.C.   John Bolton awaits the publication of his book that will reveal inner workings of the Trump White House. He never did  testify,.

Donald Trump has seized on Sanders as his new whipping candidate rather than Biden since Bernie has run up big scores in Iowa,  New Hampshire and Nevada.  There, voters joined caucuses which can be complex with people meeting in groups and casting votes that can be argued and changed in succeeding rounds of voting.

South Carolina holds a primary where people vote for their choice. One person; one vote.  It is simpler and the same as the general election.   Results usually are tabulated easily and announced  without delay.  The Iowa results were a disaster since they were using a complex system without having had a trial run.

I hope some of the candidates who will take part in the debate this evening have read Thomas Friedman’s column.  Or the moderators may have read it and will suggest it to the candidates for their reaction. It would be dynamite to watch them react since it assumes only one of them would win the nomination.

A Team of Rivals will be on stage.   I will think of them in the framework of  Thomas Friedman’s brilliant idea. I’m sure Donald Trump will also be watching.

……………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

An Exaltation of Larks

After the trauma of the Impeachment vote in the Senate and Trump claiming complete exoneration, I felt we all needed to read something that lifts our spirits.  This column first published in 2010 is designed to do just that.  Enjoy.


A very special book beckons to me from the shelves, An Exaltation of Larks, the fascinating collection by James Lipton, first published in 1968.  Lipton, an American writer, poet, composer and actor, traced the tradition in the English language back to the 15th century when groups of animals, fish and birds associated with hunting were given names to epitomize salient characteristics. Young gentlemen were taught the precise designation of their quarry. We are familiar with some: a pride of lions, a plague of locusts and a litter of puppies. The magic of this book is in the hundreds of collective nouns that identify the essence of the group to the reader for the first time — and the witty engravings by Grandville, a 19th century French lithographer, that accompany most of the terms and the text.

Here are a few groups of birds to whet your appetite:

A parliament of owls.

An ostentation of peacocks.

A banquet of pheasants.

A murder of crows.

A siege of herons.

A brood of hens.

An exaltation of larks.

Skylarks climb high together into the heavens while uttering their song — thus the poetic comment of exaltation.  In the interesting introduction to the book, Lipton traces the history from the 15th century to the present. He writes, “Obviously, at one time or another, every one of these terms had to be invented — and it is equally obvious that much imagination, wit and semantic ingenuity has always gone into their invention. The terms are too full of charm and poetry to suppose that their inventors were unaware of the possibilities open to them , and unconscious of the fun and beauty they were creating. What we have in these terms is clearly the end result of a game that amateur semanticists have been playing for over five hundred years.”

Part III of the book may be the most fun for readers since Lipton drew upon the Book of St. Albans, compiled in 1486, which included seventy references to people and life in the 15th century in addition to the birds, animals and fish for the hunt. The social references, scattered through the St. Albans book, are filled with wit and commentary about the manners and morals of the day. The lively, intriguing engravings accompanying these human figures capture the meaning and nuances in each term.  Here are samples from the 15th century:

A Herd of Harlots

A Converting of Preachers

A Doctrine of Doctors

An Incredulity of Cuckolds

A Riffraff of Knaves

A Drift of Fishermen

An Eloquence of Lawyers

A Worship of Writers (Ah, I love that.)


Lipton closes his delightful book with a challenge to the reader to join the “game” and create clever terms that illuminate intrinsic qualities of a group. He says, about playing the game, “like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence. I found that spectators didn’t stay spectators for long. If you should feel the urge, there are more brushes in the pail.”


………………………………………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson


An Exaltation of Larks  is available online at

Impeachment Trial Epilogue

Wednesday, February 5 was the final day of Donald J . Trump’s Impeachment Trial.   He had given his State of The Union Address the night before to Republicans , Democrats  and Supreme Court Justices in the Congressional Hall.  House Speaker Pelosi and Vice President  Pence sat behind the president when he spoke.  Throughout his speech, Republicans rose and cheered, even chanted “Four More Years” while Democrats on the other side remained seated and silent. Adam Schiff and the six other House Managers had a copy of the Constitution on tables before them.

Donald Trump was confident  since he knew what the vote would be the next day.   He claimed a rebirth of the country under his leadership with examples of growth that were challenged by economic experts the next day.  He claimed that his leadership had brought a State of the Union that was better than ever before in “history”.

Viewers saw the bitterness between the president and the speaker at the beginning and end of his speech.  When he arrived at the front, he shook hands with the justices and then walked up to the lectern. He  handed Pelosi a copy of his speech and she reached out to shake his hand, but he turned to face the audience. When he completed his speech,  he stood to strong applause from the Republicans and she held the papers of the speech and  tore them apart vigorously.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Donald J. Trump was the fourth United States president to be threatened with impeachment.  There were two in the modern era, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.  One Republican and one Democrat.  Nixon was approached by Republican leaders who urged him to resign to avoid a trial where he would definitely be convicted.  He agreed and resigned from office. Clinton survived a trial where he apologized to the American people and was not convicted  and removed from office.  At the time, he had a 65 percent approval rating in the country.

On Wednesday,  Chief Justice Roberts presided as The Two Articles of Impeachment were read in detail. The First: Abuse of Power. The Second: Obstruction of Congress.   All  one hundred members of the Senate were present.   Roberts advised them of the procedure to follow to vote.  Names would be called in alphabetical order.  The member would rise and say aloud “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” .

For  viewers watching on television, there was a large box  with the scores of each party as well as the two Independents as the procedure happened.    The final votes were 48 to Convict and 52 Not to Convict on Abuse of Power.   47 and 53 on Obstruction of Congress.  The one vote difference in the first was Mitt Romney who broke with the Republicans to vote for Conviction.

Earlier in the day Senator Romney had spoken of why he would vote for Conviction.  He has represented Utah for years and ran for president on the Republican ticket.  He is a devout Mormon and the son of George Romney,  governor of Michigan for three terms. His words stressed the meaning of the oath before God that the senators took before voting to be impartial.   That oath was the key to understanding his vote.  He spoke of what it would mean to his children and grandchildren as well as the people he represented in his state.  His conscience was the key.  He believed  the evidence had proven the case against the president  and he had pledged to keep an open mind and be impartial.

After the vote, political commentators called it a “Profile in Courage”.   It was replayed since his decision had been televised earlier many times on political programs that day and the following day as well.

In addition to Mitt Romney,  four Democrats who voted for Conviction are from states that Trump won in 2016 by very large margins.  Doug Jones of Alabama ,  Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. It is a certainty that Trump will visit each of those states often and attack these four senators with his usual fury and insults as he seeks reelection in 2020.   They all displayed courage and conscience in their vote for Conviction.

……………………………………Joyce S. Anderson