Not Everything Trump Says Is A Lie

August 6, 2020

IN PLACE of what print journalists refer to as President Trump’s lies, cable commenters have a less formal term. Trevor Noah of the Comedy Channel and Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo of CNN just say “bullshit.”  If that sums up Trump’s usual performances, then press briefings and most interviews are bull sessions, with consequences I will suggest in a couple of minutes. But they are not the same — lying and bullshitting.  For perspicuous analysis of the distinction, let us consult a philosopher. (Classical philosophy excels in definitions.) In 2005 Felix G. Frankfurt, retired Princeton philosophy professor, wrote an article […]


May 5, 2020

Experiencing extreme social distancing at home on May Day, I was reminded of something I wrote as a journalist that was never published because I could not figure out how to make it topical. It was about the first American Maypole. Thomas Morton, a relocated London barrister, planted it in 1627 on a hill aboveMassachusetts Bay. The festive 80-foot timber flying “a flagg of antlers” was, he wrote, “a faire sea mark for directions to finde the way” to his land, 20 miles from Salem and 30 miles from Plymouth. Merry Mount, as he named the real estate development, was not […]


April 9, 2020

A Chinese classic, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, offers a wise thought experiment for our pandemic times. Here is my literal translation of Verse 80 with updates in brackets: Little country, few people  [Small mountain town, closed to tourists] Devices that can do the work of 10-100    [Power tools] Go unused   [Construction has stopped] The people respect death   [Deadly communicable virus] Remote are thoughts of travel   [They don’t even think about leaving town] Boats and carriages: no one rides them   [All vehicles remain parked] Tools of war: not displayed    [No Fourth of July parade] They return to […]

Politics and Potlatch

December 30, 2019

By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY (C) The Wine Cave War that livened up the Democrat presidential debate a week before Christmas 2019 was timely because it was the season of giving, and the issue was gifts by wealthy people to political campaigns.  News photos of the cool underground tasting room with its stone arches, crystal chandelier and long banquet table illustrated Elizabeth Warren’s claim that Pete Buttigieg had bonded with the billionaire cave dwellers while she by contrast was out among ordinary people doing “100,000 selfies” for free.  In my career as a journalist there were many locked doors. I waited […]

The Word Power of Samantha

October 30, 2019

    By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY (C) Samantha Power’s new book, “The Education of an Idealist,” is an engaging personal memoir telling how she was formed by Ireland, acculturated by America and educated by a dangerous world. It begins with her love of her pub-dwelling father in Dublin and ends with her professional friendship with Barack Obama in Chicago and Washington.  There are entertaining anecdotes along the way about everything from jogging under fire in Sarajevo to breast feeding while UN ambassador. But this true testament, in her own un-ghosted words, is shadowed by the same dark theme as her […]

Past, Present, and Faulkner

May 24, 2019

  “My fellow citizens,” Abraham Lincoln said, addressing Congress in December 1863. “We cannot escape history.” The sentiment and, “The past never dies. It is not even past,”  a line from William Faulkner that has been elevated by quote pickers to the status of an aphorism about the South, hummed like a soundtrack in my mind as we (my daughter and I) discovered the state of Mississippi. Don’t forget slavery, the bluesy background kept repeating. Don’t forget the violence of the 1960’s.  She was not even born then, but I did not have to tell her about Mississippi Burning: the […]

The Unheard Hearing

October 8, 2018

  Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist, was a stranger in that strange land, the United States Senate, and so her impromptu response to the two most definitive questions by the Democrats was strange.  When Sen. Feinstein asked how she was sure her sexual assailant was Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Ford responded:  “In the same way that I’m sure I know I am talking to you right now. It’s just basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of encodes — that transmitter encodes — memories in the hippocampus.  And so trauma-related […]

On Natural Education

April 18, 2018

By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY (c) “Educated” is an ironic title for a memoir by a young woman, Tara Westover, who showed up at Brigham Young University from rural Idaho at age 17 without any education at all, not even home schooling. All she knew was the mountain where she lived and the personalities of her extended family and the beauty of the seasons and animals and junk cars and how to ride and tame horses and how to cook and identify herbs and their healing properties, and how to sing before an audience and how to trust her own instincts. […]

Puma, Panther, Cougar. . . Lion!

December 10, 2017

  By LARRY JOSEPH CALLOWAY (C) Mountain lions live here in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado. So you’d think Ron Garcia would not be surprised to see one. He’s the longtime manager of the Baca National Wildlife Refuge five minutes from Crestone, and lions are, of course, wildlife. They are unmistakable, with adult males about eight feet long from nose to tail tip and females a foot shorter. Yet, one evening a few years ago as he left work at the historic ranch headquarters of the refuge Garcia was very surprised. First he noticed a barn door was […]

83 Per Cent Eclipsed At Crestone, CO

August 24, 2017
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