Herb Strentz

The need to heed Benjamin Franklin

Herb Strentz ponders the threat Donald Trump and his cult pose to our republic.

As the midterm election year approaches, we face another test of what might be called “Franklin’s Challenge,” given our nature and television’s penchant to turn everything into a game show.

That’s the challenge Benjamin Franklin — bless him — reportedly put before his 18th century audience and today’s 21st century citizenry.

At the close of the constitutional convention on September 17, 1787, he was said to be asked if our founding fathers had created a monarchy or a self-governing republic.
Franklin supposedly replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

If you can keep it.

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Book review: Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit

Herb Strentz: For those acquainted with Orwell, reading some of the essays is like meeting a close friend whom you have not seen for decades. And yet the two of you converse as though you had just spent some time together yesterday or the day before.

Here’s the irony: To appreciate and consider the gifts of Orwell’s Roses, you must reflect on what the author does not deal with. Like a lot of good literature, the book comes with some assembly required — by the writer and by the reader. Happily, while it may be difficult to summarize what Orwell’s Roses is about, the author does that for us.

She says her book is not an addition to biographies of George Orwell (1903-1950), but is “instead a series of forays” or essays and insights into Orwell and his essays, books and gardening. Those “forays” resulted in 27 essays in the book’s seven chapters.

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Send in the clowns? A bit late for that

Donald Trump’s MAGA cult reminds Herb Strentz of Stephen Sondheim’s haunting lyrics: “Quick, send in the clowns/ Don’t bothеr, they’re herе.”

Given the political madness of the day and the “book burners” and others set loose upon us, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics to “Send in the Clowns” are haunting —particularly the last two lines: “Quick, send in the clowns/ Don’t bothеr, they’re herе.”

That assessment leads to other thoughts:

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Maybe Chuck Grassley should do something stupid

Herb Strentz: Hatred and extremism are more visible in the current political climate. Yet those elements have been active in the U.S. for decades.

A few recent news items and internet links point to the same conclusion: the GOP (Grand Old Party) has become the COT (Cult Of Trump), which appears to be just fine with many Republican leaders.

Concern about Donald Trump as a business and political figure goes back decades. But the catalyst for this collage is twofold and recent.

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For Chuck Grassley, everything is "Jes' Fine"

Herb Strentz sees parallels between Iowa’s senior senator and a classic comic strip character.

Granted, “Jes’ fine” is not much of a campaign slogan. It’s not as catchy as “I Like Ike,” which helped elect and re-elect President Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. Nor does it offer the hope of “Yes, We Can,” the theme of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

But “Jes’ fine” launched a successful political career for “Fremount, The Boy Bug,” one of the Okefenokee Swamp characters in the Walt Kelly comic strip “Pogo” the possum. That was back in 1960.

“Jes’ fine” came to mind in assessing the campaign rhetoric of Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.

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