We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Contact information

You can contact me...

By Phone:

651-587-5541

By E-mail:

alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com

By U.S. Mail:

Alan Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
U.S.A.


Please note: FaceBook "deactivated" my account so I can no longer be reached there. I have opened another FaceBook account.

My FaceBook page when I am not being blocked or censored by FaceBook:

https://www.facebook.com/maki.alan





Thursday, January 19, 2017

What are "Democratic core values?"

Barack Obama says when he leaves office he will "continue to speak out in defense of Democratic core values."

This has been reported all over the media.

Perhaps I am stupid but these "Democratic core values" are never specified by Obama and no reporters seem to ask him what he means.

Is Obama going to defend the Democratic Party Platform? Or is he referring to some kind of abstract ideas?

Perhaps Obama is referring to the same "Democratic Party core values" as defined by George Lakoff?

Or, seeing as how Barack Obama appears in ads for The Nation magazine, are the "values" advocated by The Nation which The Nation magazine says should be Democratic Party core values what Obama is talking about.

Obama claimed to be campaigning for "progressive core values" when he was campaigning in 2008. He claimed single-payer universal health care was a "progressive core value" during campaigning in 2007. Obviously, Obama has had a change of mind when it comes to single-payer being a "progressive core value."

Or, what about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, free school lunches... are these "Democratic core values" Obama intends to defend after having appointed the reactionary Republican Alan Simpson to head up the cat food commission?

Is war with Russia and China part of "Democratic core values?"

What about defending the Israeli killing machine--- is this a "Democratic core value?"

Will Obama put on his marching shoes to defend "Democratic core values?"

Does the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Eleanor Roosevelt played such a big role in drafting, reflect "Democratic core values?"

Doesn't anyone want to know what Obama will be defending when he says he is going to be "defending Democratic core values?"

How come we can't go anyplace and find specifically what "Democratic core values" are?

Obviously, Obama doesn't share with Bernie Sanders "Democratic core values;" or does he?

I kind of would like to hear if Obama shares the "Democratic core values" of those seeking to "reform" the Democratic Party.

Do we have a right to expect that those who toss around vague statements about "defending Democratic core values" be more specific? Should they provide drafts of legislation articulating specific solutions to problems based of these "core Democratic values" or should we just be satisfied that Obama and others simply talk in a language where these "Democratic core values" simply remain "properly framed progressive sounding policy directives" as advocated by the linguist George Lakoff and be satisfied that our problems will be solved "incrementally" in "baby steps" long after we are dead?

I would like to know if disbanding NATO is a "Democratic core value?"

Is nuclear disarmament and beating swords into plowshares a "Democratic core value?"

The reason I would like to have Obama and the Democratic Party hacks specifically spell out what "Democratic core values" are is because this would give people a chance to make up their minds whether or not they want to continue to vote for Democrats or start a new working class based people's party.

Am I expecting to much asking for these "Democratic core values" to be spelled out?

Is full employment a "Democratic core value?" If it is, why don't Democrats bring forward legislation that would make the president and members of Congress legislatively responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lloyd Axworthy solicited my opinion on the refugee crisis and then deleted my comment and banned me from posting on his FaceBook page

Lloyd Axworthy, the former Canadian Liberal government's Minister of Foreign Affairs who joined with members of the Reform/Conservative Party to deport me from Canada because of my political beliefs, sent me an invitation to share my views about how to solve the refugee crisis on the FaceBook page he set up:


https://www.facebook.com/lloydaxworthyrefugeediscussions/posts/1157766497625656:0

Axworthy was also President of the University of Winnipeg until 2014. I can only guess what kind of academic freedom of expression Axworthy promoted and tolerated given the way he deleted my comment on his page after he sent me a request to "Like" his page. Apparently Axworthy wants a lot of "Likes" for his page but only welcomes the views from those who agree with him.

Anyways, I posted my comment and Axworthy proceeded to delete my comment.


I told Axworthy that peace is the solution to the refugee crisis. That people being bombed, shot, bombed from their homes, hospitals and schools being bombed and forced into poverty without access to food, water and health care are going to flee and become refugees.


I also pointed out to Lloyd Axworthy that it was his own promotion of "humanitarian intervention"--- a nice sounding term for imperialist war causing this refugee crisis.


So much for Axworthy pretending to be for an exchange of information and ideas... Axworthy is just one more imperialist hypocrite serving the neo-liberal interests of the multi-national corporations.




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Monday, January 16, 2017

We pay; we die--- and they profit.

The Democrats are sowing deep divisions in this country over foreign policy as they try to whip people into a frenzy of hatred against the Russians while fanning the flames of war. They are on a very dangerous course because they integrate this campaign of hatred against the Russians with making noises pretending they intend to take on Trump when it comes to his reactionary domestic agenda
In fact, these Democrats are using their bellicose rhetoric to puff themselves up against the Russians to make people believe they will take on Trump as he attacks our rights and standard of living right here to pay for his own reactionary foreign policy targeting China.


So we will have the Democrats trying to make us believe the Russians are our enemy and Trump trying to make us believe the Chinese are our enemy... between the Democrats and the Republicans they will have us fighting the entire world.


The merchants of death and destruction will suck in the profits as Obama just signed into law the largest military budget in U.S. history,


Whether or not all this spewing of animosity and hate in a world sitting atop a powder keg touches off World War Three which will be a nuclear conflagration that will culminate in a nuclear winter only the billionaires with ten year bunkers can "survive," this insane arms race will plunge us, if not into war, still drive us all into further poverty because it is working people, not these billionaires and millionaires and their well-heeled upper middle class managers, who pay for all of this.


We need a sane and sensible foreign policy that begins with mutual respect and friendship between peoples regardless of how bellicose and belligerent our own government or any other governments may be.


It is mutual friendship and respect between people of all nations seeking peace who will prevent war.
As it stands right now, the Russian and Chinese people have not demonstrated any animosity towards us; and, the fact of the matter is, neither of these governments have done anything towards the United States that can be considered of an aggressive or bellicose nature.


For working people to start siding with the Wall Street merchants of death and destruction--- Democrats and Republicans alike--- as they whip up and fan the flames of war, it will be working people who do the suffering, pay for this military insanity and pay the even heavier price for war.


Do you think your bosses and their children will end up fighting and dying in these wars?


We pay; we die--- and they profit.


If you don't have a well stocked ten year bunker to retreat into... you might want to consider all of this before joining the chorus for war.

No moral or political courage among the Democrats

As far as I can tell, not one single Democrat in Congress has had the moral or political courage to stand up against this anti-Russian hysteria the Clinton crowd is trying to whip up.


At least there were a couple Democrats who had the moral and political courage to stand up against the lying provocations that took us into the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq.


If you can't rely on a politician to stand up for peace there is nothing you can rely on them for... nothing, absolutely nothing.


As we can learn from history, these politicians who lack the moral and political courage to stand up for peace, are very weak, at best, when it comes to issues of social and economic justice.

Obama is fanning the flames of war with Russia.

Who in their right mind engages in large scale troop movements because of some e-mail problems?
This is complete insanity.


And to think that there are actually people who agree with this is totally crazy--- especially when we have a bully who is a complete and total moron whose arrogance knows no limits making his way to power.


Unless the American people mobilize in a way that will prevent war we are headed towards a nuclear Armageddon.


Who in their right mind engages in this kind of bellicose foreign policy over some e-mails?


Come on you Democratic Party hacks... let me hear how you justify all of this.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Unless an active citizenry steps in we are headed for World War III


What the heck is going on in this country?

These people in power are playing us all for suckers and fools as they try to drag us into World War III--- which will result in nuclear war and nuclear winter that only those with "ten year bunkers" will "survive."

This is from the New York Review of Books:

After months of anticipation, speculation, and hand-wringing by politicians and journalists, American intelligence agencies have finally released a declassified version of a report on the part they believe Russia played in the US presidential election. On Friday, when the report appeared, the major newspapers came out with virtually identical headlines highlighting the agencies’ finding that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to help Donald Trump win the presidency—a finding the agencies say they hold “with high confidence.”

A close reading of the report shows that it barely supports such a conclusion. Indeed, it barely supports any conclusion. There is not much to read: the declassified version is twenty-five pages, of which two are blank, four are decorative, one contains an explanation of terms, one a table of contents, and seven are a previously published unclassified report by the CIA’s Open Source division. There is even less to process: the report adds hardly anything to what we already knew. The strongest allegations—including about the nature of the DNC hacking—had already been spelled out in much greater detail in earlier media reports."


Trump Is In… So What Are We Willing To Do About It?



Trump Is In…

So What Are We Willing To Do About It?

Panel discussion with full citizen participationWe want to hear from you.

Saturday          January 28, 2017                   3:30 PM - 5:30 PM



Carver Branch Library
3350 East Commerce Street
San Antonio, Texas 78220

Details

Regardless of who you voted for we are stuck with El Naranjado aka El Trumpudo.

Donald Trump has promised to derail much of the progress made over the last 15-60 years including weakening the powers of the EPA putting our air, land and water at risk for more contamination.

Trump has also talked about weakening existing labor laws, laws prohibiting racial profiling by the police and women's reproduction rights. Social Security is at risk as is health care.

We can resist these draconian policies, but we must be organized and clear as to what our strategies are going to be.

Come out to this panel discussion that includes civil rights, labor and other activists from our community and nearby Austin.

Panelists:
                 
Stephanie Collier, Staff Rep., Communication Workers of America (CWA)

Mustafa Ali, member Nation of Islam and Civil Rights activist

Rachel Barrios Van Os, Democratic Party/community activist

Alan Maki, UNITE-HERE member (retired) and community activist

Stewart Alexander, former Presidential Candidate, Socialist Party U.S.A., blogtalk host and community activist

D. Trent Champ, RA, National Sanders’ Delegate TX-SD24 and lifelong activist

We will be hosting forums in the weeks ahead in Dallas, Temple and Austin…

Contact: (210) 422-8000                                                   (labor and materials donated)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Obamacare must go. Don't let Republicans replace Obamacare with something just as bad. Stand up and speak out for a National Public Health Care System.

I have been explaining from day one why Obamacare is a reactionary piece of legislation.

I have also repeatedly pointed out that Barack Obama said he was for single-payer while first campaigning for president; the proof is here:


In fact, Trump and the Republicans have demagogically seized on this because you and others helped create a political vacuum in refusing to bring forward the real solution to this health care mess: a National Public Health Care System.

And then we had those traitors like Roger Hickey, Robert Borosage, Richard Trumka and all these others who undermined and sabotaged the single-payer movement... including John Conyers who was supposed to carry the ball for H.R. 676. Together with the Progressive Democrats of America, Conyers helped to keep single-payer out of the National Democratic Party Platform in 2008 just like Bernie Sanders did in 2016... Bernie Sanders' supporters are on the right track.

If you are demoralized to the point of being demobilized because of the set-backs single-payer has suffered, perhaps you should try getting involved in starting some kind of citizens' committee pushing for a National Health Care System because otherwise the Republicans are going to have a free ride in enacting another phony "solution" to this health care mess.

I assume there would be a basis for united action between those diehards still insisting on single-payer with those of us pushing for a National Public Health Care System provided single-payer would legislatively become a short-lived (couple years) to get us to a full-fledged National Public Health Care System.

Obviously, we must learn from the single-payer system the Canadian Liberals saddled the people with that the single-payer system is not sustainable over the long-haul like a National Public Health Care System is. We have seen and experienced the durability over the long-term of public education and it should be much easier--- and a lot less costly--- to sustain a National Public Health Care System.

Obamacare is a complete and total disaster because it is truthfully the "Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Bailout and Profit Maximization Act" based on private, for-profit healthcare which has no way of providing everyone with health care--- "affordable" or otherwise; and what someone may consider to be "affordable" might be pushing another family into poverty.

Single-payer is publicly financed but partially privately administered and wholly privately delivered so the for-profit motive still drives health care. In fact the insurance companies assume the role of administrators and the doctors set the prices for providing the care; and, the pharmaceutical companies continue to gouge the people.

A National Public Health Care System would be based on the very successful model of public education which has served the people here and all over the world so well; it is:

Publicly financed.

Publicly administered.

Publicly delivered.

I challenge ANYONE to prove there is a better health care system than a National Public Health Care System.

No other health care system can provide us free health care inexpensively through a network of neighborhood and community centers like a National Public Health Care System can while creating some twelve-million new good-paying jobs under union contract.

Everyone would be in; nobody would be left out.

We would be provided:

General medical.

Eyes.

Ears (including hearing aids).

Full dental.

All for a cost far, far less than we are collectively paying now.

All of this could be financed by a peace dividend derived from ending this insane militarism and these dirty imperialist wars and maintained in the same way we finance Social Security but with a much lower tax on employers and employees.

This will take a huge, massive united people's movement to win. But if we put our heads and resources together in united action we can win.

What is required is:

Education... talk about all of this with family, friends, neighbors and fellow workers.

Write a letter to the editor.

Table and leaflet.

Meet with you member of Congress.

Organization... get organizations you belong to to take up the struggle for a National Public Health Care System.

Unity... encourage united action.

Education, Organization, Unity and Action has always been the key to people winning reforms.


The American Medical Association has attacked National Public Health Care as a "Bolshevik plot" every since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins first proposed it should be part of the New Deal. We can expect to face attacks from the AMA and all those who reap huge profits from the private, for-profit delivery of health care. So what; let these people scream and cry.... our health is more important than their profits.



When Frances Perkins was viciously red-baited by those piously hiding behind their "Christianity" claiming she was advocating what was written in the Communist Manifesto... Perkins courageously responded that she would rather see good ideas helping people rather than left in an old pamphlet with pages yellowing from age.




As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. repeatedly pointed out, health care is one of the most basic and fundamental human rights... just like public education, the right to a job with living wages and freedom from war.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBodqhUGoq0

"Of all the forms of inequality,
injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

–Martin Luther King, Jr.


The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out clearly and definitively that we are entitled to health care. Eleanor Roosevelt helped to make sure this was included:




http://unudhr.blogspot.com/




Together we can win this.

Gather a few friends around the kitchen table and let's get moving.

We are like a little raindrop... alone we don't amount to much... but let it pour!




We need to steal the thunder from Trump and the Republicans on this health care issue.


We are going to need a new working class based peoples' party that can articulate and advance our needs. This party must be anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist with the stated and declared purpose of challenging Wall Street for political and economic power

To set the tone for the kind of debate we now need in this country, I suggest reading this commentary from Bob Herbert, his last column published in the New York Times, "Losing Our Way:"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/opinion/26herbert.html

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist

Losing Our Way

So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Photo
Bob Herbert Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.

As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I’m off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at bobherbert88@gmail.com.


***********************************************************************************

From Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry Wallace and Frances Perkins pushed, prodded and backed by the Farmer-Labor Party and a huge popular front movement of the people we got the New Deal....

















From Donald Trump and his cabal of morons we will get a Raw and Rotten Deal... unless we act in unity for what we need to live healthy and decent lives...










Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Enough!

I can't believe how these self-serving Democratic Party hacks don't think we had the right to see these e-mails detailing the dirty shenanigans of Hillary Clinton and her entourage of pious, hypocritical political hacks.

What difference does it make who exposed all of these dirty deeds just so it all got exposed?

Maybe the real consideration here should be how we dig ourselves out of this morass of scumbag politics we are mired in?

The issue isn't what the Russians may have done; the issue is about all these dirty, undemocratic, corrupt deeds that have undermined democracy so detested by the American people which enabled a sleaze-ball like Trump to worm his way into the highest office of the land and bring these morons into his cabinet backed by a bunch of neanderthals comprising the Republican majority in Congress with a bunch of Democrats so equally corrupted they fear standing up for what is right because they will be exposed so all they will do is acquiesce to this cabal of bigotry, racism, hate and war now about to be unleashed to attack the livelihoods and rights of workers, the working class and working class families.

What a dirty shame all these Democrats can focus on is taking revenge against the Russians instead of standing up for the rights and livelihoods of the very people they sought votes from under the guise of protecting us from this evil and vile Wall Street cabal led by Trump.

And now even Bernie Sanders, whose campaign suffered from these dirty deeds, joins with the Democrats in this bashing of the Russians instead of condemning the real culprits who perpetrated these dirty deeds who now stand exposed but seek to draw attention away from themselves by focusing on who exposed them... and, quite frankly, judging from the e-mails that were released, it is most likely some disgruntled Democrat, most likely a Bernie Sanders supporters fed this information to who ever finally released it.

The time to stop playing this dangerous game of looking for someone to blame should come to an end and the real struggles should be to force an end to these dirty wars before Trump can expand them and get us into more, end this insane nuclear arms race that Obama and the Democrats gave the Republicans the power to expand, fighting for real health care reform in the form of a National Public Health Care System based on the model of public education and defend public education from the attacks the Birchite Betsy DeVos is preparing to launch under her perverted sense of "education reform," and insist on the creation of a National Public Child Care System.

As working people we have many very serious and pressing problems neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are willing to address to our satisfaction.

Our fight is not with the Russians but with this corrupt group of Wall Street bribed politicians who thought it was so funny to play these dirty, stinking games behind our backs even as they sought our votes claiming they were concerned about us when these e-mails clearly show they were playing us for nothing but fools.

Apparently enough is never enough when it comes to political corruption and disdain for democracy in this country.

It is time to once and for all tell these worthless Dumb Donkeys to go to hell.

Enough of these dirty shenanigans...

Working people need our own political party... a new people's party that will stand up for peace, social and economic justice and against this racist hate now tearing this country apart.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Something to thnk about: The miseducation of the Americano

The miseducation of the Americano

  • Written by   
  • Tuesday, 10 January 2017 00:00

We were having our usual Thursday afternoon drink at our favorite restaurant in this Visayan city. Attendance was down this week, and there were just four of us: two Americans, an Australian and a Brit, each of whom had achieved or exceeded the biblical span of three- score years and ten.

The Australian, having recently read Charles Pellegrino’s fascinating Return to Sodom and Gomorrah, was explaining to one of the Americans, a born-again Christian, that there was a perfectly rational, scientific explanation for Joshua’s claimed feat in bringing the walls of Jericho tumbling down. 

Feeling that this discussion could be lightened with some musical accompaniment, I contributed the first few lines of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.”

“You know,” said Born Again, “it’s about 50 years since I heard that song.”

“How about this one?” I inquired, before giving them the first verse of “The Ballad of Joe Hill.”

Greeted with blank expressions, I asked the two Americans if they really expected me to believe that they had never heard of Joe Hill. No, they never had.

“Well, he was an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World…”

At this first whiff of radicalism, Born Again pounced. “Ah, in your country!”

“No,” I replied, “in your country. He was a Swedish immigrant, real name Joseph Hillstrom, and the authorities in your country framed him for murder and had him shot. So are you saying you’ve never heard of the Wobblies either?”

“The whut?”

“Wobblies. It’s what the Industrial Workers of the World were commonly called.”

The second American, who, in the same forum, had once expressed the view that Obama was encouraging Muslim emigration to the USA so that they could eventually take over the country, now made his first contribution. “So this was, like, back in the 1880s?”

“No, Joe Hill was executed in 1915.”

“I guess this was back East.”

“No, out West.” Utah, in fact.

Both Americans shrugged. This was all news to them.

“Okay, here’s an easier one: what’s the link between the two songs, ‘Joshua Fit the Battle’ and ‘Joe Hill?’” 
Sensing that the tongues of the Americans were about to emerge from the corners of their mouths, and frowns of concentration descend upon their brows, I hastily added: “Look, one singer performed both songs. Just give me the name of the singer.”

The Americans were like two schoolboys who, having neglected to complete their homework, were about to flunk a class quiz.

“Alright, I’ll tell you: it was Paul Robeson.”

“Paul...?”

“Robeson. R-o-b-e-s-o-n.”

To make it easier, I had thought of throwing in “Ol’ Man River” as an additional clue, but I could see now that this would have made no difference, as it was obvious that these two Trump supporters had never in their three-score years and 10 heard of Paul Robeson (1898-1976).

“Singer. Actor. Performed before Welsh miners and concert goers throughout Europe. He once said one thing he liked about going to the Soviet Union was that no one called him nigger there.”

“Oh, he was a black guy?”

“Yes, and at one stage your mighty bastion of freedom and democracy refused to issue him a passport for fear that he would say nasty things about the USA — which, of course, we all love —while abroad.”

It is often said — and correctly so, unfortunately — that the average Filipino has little knowledge of the history of this archipelago. But the more I encounter Americans over here (and there are, thankfully, exceptions), the more I am convinced that the average specimen is just as ignorant of US history.

On one occasion, I utterly failed to convince an acquaintance that many other Americans — Brazilians, Argentinians, certainly Cubans and even Canadians — resent the way in which the USA has appropriated the appellation “America” as its exclusive property; and, having never heard of Amerigo Vespucci, he was completely in the dark as to the origins of the name.

There is, however, a crucial difference between Filipino ignorance and the US variety: the Filipino with little knowledge of his own history rarely if ever oversteps the bounds of modesty, while many a benighted Americano will not hesitate to proclaim that the land of which he knows so little has, being the greatest nation in the world, the God-given right to lord it over the rest of the planet (about which, of course, he usually knows even less).

It’s amazing how a Thursday afternoon drink can provide such insight into recent events in the USA.