Might Have Been

Anyone who knows me knows that if Hugh Jackman is in a movie, don’t stand between me and the theater on opening day.  This year, he stars in a film that asks more questions than it gives answers that will be released on Election Day or as the promoters say, “Go vote, then go to the movies”.  This combines my two greatest obsessions:  Politics and Movies.   The Front Runner is based on Matt Bai’s book, All The Truth is Out:  The Week Politics Went Tabloid, about the week that Gary Hart’s campaign was destroyed by the rumors of an extra marital affair that may or may not have happened in this case (there were others as he seems to have had a zipper problem) but changed political coverage by media seemingly forever.  As Hart has said, “You can get awful famous in this country in seven days.”

While I lived through the events, I knew next to nothing about Hart, except for the positions he took and then of course, the scandal that ended the campaign.  In a desire to know more I read a few articles and then wondered what he had been up to since. As it turns out, he never really went away and that scandal may have cost us an excellent President.  Fortunately, it did not deprive us of a great thinker. He returned to law, acted as an advisor to other politicians, made speeches, and most of all, he wrote:

James Monroe, the 5th President
God and Caesar in America
The Courage of Our Convictions
Restoration of the Republic, The Jeffersonian Ideal
The Fourth Power, A Grand Strategy for the US in the 21st Century
The Shield and the Cloak, The Security of the Commons

Hart is now considered one of the foremost thinkers on national security.  On September 4, 2001, exactly one week before the September attacks Hart gave a speech warning that within the next 25 years a terrorist attack would lead to mass deaths in the United States.  Hart met with aviation executives in Montreal, Canada, on September 5, 2001, to warn of airborne terrorist attacks. The Montreal Gazette reported the story the following day with a headline, “Thousands Will Die, Ex-Presidential Hopeful Says.”  On September 6, 2001, Hart met with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to urge, “You must move more quickly on homeland security. An attack is going to happen.”  In a subsequent interview with Salon.com, Hart accused President George W. Bush and other administration officials of ignoring his warnings.

Recently I picked up his most recent (2015) book, Republic of Conscience  which is very much in line with Ben Franklin’s, “We’ve given you a Republic if you can keep it.” Hart provides an action plan. In about the clearest words I have read, this man now 81, has written a book that makes you want to highlight something on every page.   From the beginning of the Amazon introduction:

Going back as early as 400 BC, the idea of a true republic has been threatened by narrow, special interests taking precedence over the commonwealth. The United States Constitution was drafted to protect against such corruption, but as Gary Hart details in The Republic of Conscience, America is nowhere near the republic it set out to be almost 250 years ago, falling to the very misconduct it hoped to avoid.

Writing well before the 2016 campaign – “Conservatives have mounted a stealth campaign to produce barriers to voting.  There is an over-all domination of money, virtually all of it representing one special interest or another.  The political media even provide honors for those raising the most money.” I would quote more, but I would be rewriting the whole book.  Just go get it.


Hart and his wife Lee (now married for 60 years) were given a private showing of The Front Runner.  They both liked it and the questions presented.  Over hot chocolate afterwards, Hart asked, “Do I really talk like that?”  Lee answered, “Yes dear, just like that.”

Buy the books, go to the movie … Oh and don’t forget to vote.

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How we got a good song 204 years ago today

204 years ago this evening, on Sep. 13, 1814, at the “twilight’s last gleaming” at Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key proudly hailed the Star Spangled Banner. It was famously still waving the next morning. It still waves–and the republic for which it stands still stands–today.

Of course he had a little help from a popular bar song of the day called Anacreon in Heaven.  It was upbeat and in a lower key which would probably be appreciated by all regular people trying to sing Key’s more lofty sentiments.  Give it a try.

So pass around a glass of fermented grape and have at it:

To Anacreon in Heav’n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
When this answer arriv’d from the Jolly Old Grecian
“Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,”no longer be mute,”
I’ll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
“And, besides I’ll instruct you, like me, to intwine
“The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

(Full Song Lyrics)


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Senator John McCain RIP


Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die
And I laid me down with a will

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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A Visit to Other Places

Today’s poet, Sir Derek Walcott (1930 – 2017) was born in the West Indies and wove its spells around the globe with glorious words.  Those words brought him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

Robert Graves wrote that Walcott “handles English with a closer understanding of its inner magic than most, if not any, of his contemporaries”. 

It you want to revel totally in his words, try his novel length OMEROS.  Fortunately for those of us who just want a quick, but important visit, there are shorter poems.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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Poetry Series, Fourth Day

This is the poem for all those who wish to disconnect and restore all that has been rattled by modern life.  Here are the soft sounds and graces of the living earth where humans are just another guest.

Photo Credit: Oliver Dixon

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

W. B. Yeats1865 – 1939

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
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