Don Pesci: The Castros' useful idiots

Hillare Belloc’s “Advice to the Rich” was lost on the Castro brothers: “Get to know something about the internal combustion engine, and remember – soon, you will die.”


Fidel Castro, Cuba’s deathless tyrant, died Nov. 25 full of years and a very rich man, his foreign bank account stuffed with other people’s money, though one would never guess it reading Jesse Jackson’s encomium.



The Washington Examiner noted, shortly after Fidel’s passing, that Jesse Jackson, “the civil rights leader, urged the nation to join ‘oppressed people’ across the globe in celebration of ‘the life of a liberator who fought and won against the rich and oligarch rule of [former Cuban President Fulgencio] Batista.’"


For as long as the Castro brothers ruled Cuba with a mailed fist, there were only two one-percenters in the island nation, both named Castro. Fidel lives on, one supposes, in his estate; Raul just lives on, waiting for the grim reaper to carry him off.  In Cuba, the poor people – the Castro brothers must have loved them, because they made so many of them -- were afraid to speak Fidel's name in the street, not without reason. When referring to the "freedom fighter," they pointed to their chins, indicating Fidel's beard. Fidel began his life as dictator of Cuba by lying to then President Dwight Eisenhower – “no, I'm not a communist’’ -- and ended it by lying to himself and Jesse Jackson, who is still credulous enough to believe the lies. The problem with Jackson – and others inextricably entangled in their own past leftist commitments -- is that Mr. Jackson’s own unexamined past lies over his eyes like thick cataracts. He cannot see the political idol behind the veil.


“The idols of the nations are but silver and gold,” says the psalmist, “the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear, nor is there any breath at all in their mouths…”


The bloody 20th Century replaced religious idols with political idols, such asvMussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, Mao in China, Kim Il-sung in North Korea and the Castro brothers in Cuba. There was breath enough in their mouths to bury the tender shoot of democracy beneath mounds of lies. And all of them met and crushed by violent means courageous resistance in their own lands.


The brothers Castro knew well how to deal with the resistance. Their tutors were the atheistic communist idols of the political market place – Marx, Lenin and Stalin, each of whom made use of doctrinal enforcers. The Castro brothers' chief enforcer was Che Guevara, a murderer and thug whose somber bereted image appears today on the tees and sweatshirts of Ivy League radicals here in the United States.


In addition, the Castro brothers made full use of Lenin’s “terror,” and Stalin’s Lubyanka, the seat of Communist oppression in Russia. Once an insurance company, the Lubyanka became the headquarters of Stalin’s secret police, the Cheka. Irreverent Russians jokingly called it “the tallest building in Moscow,” since Siberia, the Gulag labor camp system, could be seen from its basement.


There were lots of secret police basements in Cuba, all put to good use by Cuba’s “civil rights leader.”


Cuba could not have survived so many years of Castro’s attentions without patrons and leftist useful idiots in the so called Free World. Just now, Raul, the surviving Castro, is in need of yet another patron.  Nikita Khrushchev began moving away from Fidel after he had suggested a nuclear strike as an answer to U.S. aggression against Cuba. Even then Cuba was a patron sponge. Another patron, the worshipful Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, later took up the slack. Under the strains of Castro styled socialism, the economy of Venezuela collapsed, and the country’s current socialist caudillo, Nicolás Maduro, a former bus driver, has been unable to keep Venezuela’s grocery store shelves stocked with toilet paper, not to mention food.

Enter President Obama who, with his phone and pen, opened Cuba to American tourism. Alas, U.S. presidents come and go, unlike communist dictators such as Fidel, lauded by Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “Cuba’s longest serving President… a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century… A legendary revolutionary and orator… While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’”

During the beloved comandante’s reign of terror, a million Cubans fled into exile. Not all of them made it to freedom. On July 13, 1994, during the infamous Tugboat Massacre, Castro’s brown shirts killed 37 would-be escapees, most of them children and their mothers. Juanita Castro who fought alongside her brothers against the Batista regime, also was a defector: “I could not remain indifferent to what is happening in my country. My brothers Fidel and Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water,” she said. Someone should tell Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Jackson.

It is easy to understand the Castro brothers: They cared nothing about the internal combustion engines of the human spirit and, like most moral monsters, they thought they would live forever. But understanding the useful idiots has always involved a ticklish moral hazard: How is it possible for “civil rights leaders” and democracy defenders to bestow compliments upon civil rights offenders and democracy destroyers? 

Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based political writer.



An island for opioid treament

Penikese Island from the southeast.

Penikese Island from the southeast.

Excerpted from Robert Whitcomb's Dec. 1 Digital Diary column in GoLocal24.

Tiny Penikese Island, off  southwestern Cape Cod and part of the Elizabeth Islands, has been turned into a beautiful if austere retreat for the treatment of opioid addiction, a staggering problem all over America. You can blame the addiction epidemic, in part, on pharmaceutical companies and their salespeople asserting that such newish opiates as OxyContin were not dangerously addictive and were needed to address an alleged American “pain crisis."

In the past, Penikese has hosted a leper colony, a school for troubled boys and a bird sanctuary. Its latest use is admirable, though, it should be emphasized, the facility can only take a few clients at a time – at this point only young men.

There must be some other New England islands that would serve as places where addicts can confront and overcome their demons with the help of tough but compassionate therapists and without the temptation, followed all too often by quick relapse, they’d have on a mainland. It’s hard to avoid the mindfulness and perspective you gain in such a quiet, if windy place. Not that you’d want to spend the rest of your life there.

Llewellyn King: The Donald's power tweets will make America great again

Do not tell anybody, but I am totally tweeterized. I long to see the latest tweet from Donald Trump. I am addicted, dependent, enslaved and hooked to the great man’s tweets.

If there has been one overnight, my day is going to be good. I will know The Donald is in his Tower of Power on Fifth Avenue in New York City, at his Mar-a-Lago palace in Palm Beach, Fla., or at a luxury hotel that he owns, along with some big banks, and all is well with the world because he has tweeted me.

And he is coming to Washington. I am overexcited, thrilled and all atremble that -- Can my heart take it? -- President Tweet will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, and the first to govern by tweet.

Tweeting is going to make him the most democratic president ever. He will tweet – forgive me for thinking it is just to me -- at each great milestone of his presidency: the start of building the wall; the end of the North American Free Trade Act; the beginning of wonderful health care, for some people; the slashing of that nasty federal income tax; the new Asian order, when China is burden with high U.S. tariffs and is put in its place -- I will not let my imagination go there.

Never will any president be so close to the public (There goes my heart again.) as when he speaks to us by tweet, at any hour of the day or night, because it is necessary, or when the great man just cannot get to sleep.

When Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, has the effrontery to criticize the new privatized education system, The Donald will put him away in 140 characters. That is showing the power of Twitter-disciplined mind for you: so concise, so complete, so exact and right between the eyes.

If that Mr. Putin betrays The Donald’s trust in him and starts moving armies around Europe, the tweeter-in-chief will mobilize and let him have it by tweet at whatever hour, regardless of time zone. He will tell us, even before he has tweeted the Joint Chiefs of Staff on what they should do, and we will be comforted. Little me will be thrilled to see this world leader doing what he does best in crisis: tweeting.

I will feel so connected to the White House, or one of his grand resorts, which is probably where he will hang out mostly away from the prying press and the awful tourists. Just remember, all Tweet Man needs is a phone and he is connected to each and everyone of us: no journalists, press conferences, staff meetings needed. Just a word with one of his family members -- and action.

Ring the bells, shout from the hills, spread the word – by tweet of course -- and tell everyone there is a new order! The middlemen and women are out. A leader is one with his people by tweet, in touch 24/7.

There will be tweets to advise us if Ivanka is having a baby; if there are to be gold faucets at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; if the British are ending the special relationship; and if Mexico and Canada form a mutual defense pact.

A tweet here, a retweet there and very soon things are turned around: education policy, environment policy, foreign policy, health care policy, trade policy and, of course, policies affecting Empire Trump. What is good for America is good for business. Forget blind trusts, even the blind know what is good for golf and the leisure industry. If you can tweet in the dark, you can see in the dark. Trust him.

The Big Tweet, the one I am waiting for more than for all the others, is, of course, the one we are all waiting for: When President Tweet tweets “America is great again.”

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of White House Chronicle, on PBS. His e-mail is This first ran on Inside Sources.


Robert Whitcomb: Some conservative home remedies for Trumpism

Conservatives, at least old-fashioned Burkean ones, have it right about at least one big thing: The importance ofmaintaining healthy private and local lives, especially in times of political upheaval.

Now is a good time to takea vacation from political news for a while, amidst the chronic craziness of the launch of the Trump regime, which is not “conservative’’ but a personality cult brought into power by the willful suspension of disbelief  so common in America’s Celebrity/ Television/Social Media Culture.

Take comfort in knowing that the worst of Trump’s promises are unlikely to be implemented and that, anyway, he doesn’t really have any  coherent ‘’program’’ other than staying at the center of attention, expanding his family’s wealth and influence and being applauded by his core constituency, assuming that it doesn’t evaporate as the extent of his election-campaign con job becomes evident even to them. The steady disclosure of his lies and hypocrisy will be oddly comforting because they will demonstrate that Donald Trump is no ideologue. He’s mostly just a rich narcissist,  materialist and demagogue who, in his search for adulation and validation, may do some good things.  After all, he is terrified of being labeled a “loser.’’

Walk out of your political room and stroll into your nonpolitical room, soundproofed from the minute-by-minute circular speculations about the future of the Republic or at least of the Democratic Party. For the next few weeks, ration the political stuff you consume, and go for long walks, preferably in the countryside but in the cities and suburbs if that’s where you live. On your walks,  mull the sweep of history and how much bigger Nature is than political cycles. Read long novels that show characters going through life, learning and improvising. Watch old movies. Watch winter become spring. Look at the night sky. Order seeds; gardening strengthens patience. Write on a computer without an Internet connection. Better, write with a pen on paper. Clear your mind by withdrawingfrom a lot of social media.

Mull life’s transience, its cycles of growth, decay and regrowth, and the little pleasures that help make it worthwhile. And realize that the older you get, the faster time will go by.   Christopher Fry, the British dramatist, observed: “After the age of 80, you seem to be having breakfast every five minutes.’’ The Trump administration will soon be over.

To retain or regain your equilibrium after this bizarre election, focus on what you have around you in that blessed place known as private life. First, your family and friends, even those you’re angry at because they voted for Trump.  Try to repair your ties to them if they are frayed. White House occupants come and go, your personal circle ought to continue as  the most important part of your life.

Participate in those local institutions that do so much good, for you and your community, and in which you can do some good. These  include clubs, charities, religious organizations, schools, libraries, parks and so on.

Alexis de Tocqueville famously wrote about the special importancein America of community organizations for a healthy civic life: “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.’’  Liberals, and the citizenry in general, place far too much faith in government, and especially the federal government, as a source of happiness.

Even worse, they invest far too much hope in, and assign far too much praise and blame to, one person – the president.

Professional journalists, especially as their ranks have been slashed in the past 20 years by that great  plagiarism-and-fraud factory called the Internet, make this inevitable over-investment worse by paying far too much attention to the president and far too little to other parts of government and wider society. Obviously, it’s  much easier (and usually more fun) to cover the daily melodrama around one powerful celebrity than moving around to see what’s happening in the various gears of a whole government.

Now let’s give thanks for American federalism, even though its Electoral College has put a sociopath in the White House. Federalism means that, however awful the government in Washington, D.C., the states are free to go their own way to some extent. Some,  of course, are badly and/or corruptly governed, often for the benefit of special business interests (e.g., coal in West Virginia). But some are honestly and humanely run. Likewise for the towns and cities, those legal children ofthe states.

A bad president and/or Congress remind us of the dangers of an overly unitary national government and of thebenefits of geographically diffused powers in  the world’s most complicated country.

Focusing on what you can change locally will give you a stronger foundation from which to push for national change. Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: “A man is a better citizen of the United States for being also a loyal citizen of his state and of his city; for being loyal to his family and to his profession or trade; for being loyal to his college or his lodge. ‘’

As the nature of Trump’s administration becomes clearer,  even to many of his gullible and corrupted fans -- join those national projects – political or otherwise – that mighthelp stem Trumpist abominations while remembering that he raised some socio-economic issues that need to be addressed, although he is unlikely to seriously address them himself. Yes, Trump was politically smart – and correct --  during the campaign to say that “the working class’’ has gotten the shaft.  It has.  (To “represent’’ these sad citizens hehas named a collection of multimillionaires and billionaires to his Cabinet….)

Andy Smarick,  in an essay (“With Smugness Toward None…’’)  in  the Nov. 18 Weekly Standard, the neocon magazine, should provide some solace to liberals from a conservative. He writes:

“{C}onservatives are deeply skeptical about governing strategies that presume too much about our capacities—for instance, centralization, muscular government, expert administrators, and grand schemes. This naturally leads the conservative to seek to limit the authority of others: decentralization, the separation of governmental powers into branches, trusting small voluntary associations over compulsory state bodies, putting faith in markets over central plans. But—crucially—this humility extends down to the self and shapes how the temperamentally conservative individual engages in the public's business: I am limited. I may be wrong. I need to trust others.’’

And, as conservative columnist George Will wrote a couple of months back:

“The beginning of conservative wisdom is recognition that there is an end to everything: Nothing lasts. If Trump wins, the GOP ends as a vehicle for conservatism.’’

“Pessimism need not breed fatalism or passivity. It can define an agenda of regeneration, but only by being clear-eyed about the extent of {civic} degeneration, which a charlatan's successful selling of his fabulousness exemplifies.’’ 

For the time being, as in Voltaire’s Candide:  “It is necessary to cultivate our garden.’’  Do what you can,  where you can (close to home certainly) and when you can. And accept the infinite capacity of everyone in political power, right and left, to  deeply disappoint.

Robert Whitcomb oversees New England Diary.









Chris Powell: The U.S. created Castro's dictatorship; Hampshire College's anti-Americanism

For practical purposes Fidel Castro died a decade ago as he bequeathed his dictatorship to his brother and slipped into decrepitude. For practical purposes Cuba itself died 25 years ago upon the collapse of its financial patron, the Soviet Union. The country remains impoverished and totalitarian.

But the cheering throughout the United States, particularly from Little Havana in Miami and the right-wingers in Washington, is hypocritical. For the United States created Castro with its decades of military intervention in Cuba and then its support of his predecessor as dictator, Col. Fulgencio Batista, who overthrew Cuba's elected government in a military coup in 1952.

Indeed, there is hardly a country in the Americas that hasn't been invaded, occupied, or controlled or exploited economically by the United States in the last century and a half, even as we presume to lecture them about freedom. The Monroe Doctrine's principle of keeping European powers out of the Western Hemisphere has been one thing. It has been something else to make the hemisphere safe for the United Fruit Co. and its successors.

As in Cuba, U.S. support of oppressive regimes in the name of containing communism has led to tyrannical pushback. In Iran the shah begot the ayatollahs. In Nicaragua the Somoza regime begot the Sandinistas. In Libya King Idris begot Moammar Gadhafi.

But our intervention in Cuba has been more extreme than anywhere else. Even today the United States continues an economic embargo against the country, though President Obama has loosened it by executive action. Federal law prohibits normal relations with Cuba unless it becomes free, though there are no restrictions on our relations with similarly repressive countries like China and Saudi Arabia.

This week even President-elect Trump couldn't resist beating up on Cuba, announcing that he would reverse Obama's opening to the country unless it democratizes. (What's the problem, Mr. President-elect -- that Cuba lacks an Electoral College?)

Imperial communism is no longer a threat to the world. The only imperialism operating today is that of the U.S. dollar and the market rigging done by Western central banks to support it so this country can maintain a huge trade deficit, consuming from the world more than it produces in return.

Developing countries should be left to solve their own problems in their own way, ugly as it sometimes will seem. For foreign intervention creates distractions and resentments that tyrants exploit with nationalism and thus only makes things worse.

Permitted to have normal relations with the United States, Cubans inevitably will want more freedom, will make more demands of their government, and will be drawn into the U.S. economic sphere. Eventually the best Cuban baseball players will be able to earn a good living at home, Havana's team in the Eastern Division of the Liga Nacional will win the World Series, and, as is starting to happen in increasingly capitalistic Vietnam, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.


* * *

ACADEMIA'S OPEN DISLOYALTY: Having taken down the national colors from its flagpoles, Hampshire College, in Amherst, Mass., reflects the increasing disloyalty of academia as it sinks deeper into political correctness.

A spokesman for the college explains that for some students the American flag is "a powerful symbol of fear." But if those students were really so afraid, they wouldn't stick around. They'd high-tail it to a more congenial jurisdiction -- maybe Cuba, though, unlike the United States, that country doesn't let people leave.

Last Sunday military veterans went to the college to protest the decision about the flag. They shouldn't have bothered. Instead they should try to persuade their families to get more particular about the left-wing indoctrination that is passing for higher education. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn., and an essayist, mostly on political and social issues.


Coastal welfare for the rich

Excerpted from Robert Whitcomb's Nov. 24 "Digital Diary'' in GoLocal24.

Contrary to the usual rhetoric, much “government welfare’’ in America,  be it through tax policy or direct federal spending, goes to the affluent. A good example is the federal flood insurance program, in which vast sums of taxpayer money are spent to protect the investment of the well off (including some very rich) folks who can afford to have a seaside house,  which is in many cases a second home.

This insurance, of course, encourages people to build and/or keep expensive houses in flood zones. Thus over and over the taxpayers have to keep bailing them out (sometimes literally).

We got a reminder of this the other week with word that the Army Corps of Engineers said it wants to spend $58.6 million to lift up 341 private structures in southern Rhode Island to make them less vulnerable to storm surges as the ocean continues to rise with global warming. This would be in addition to continuing to subsidize the owners’ flood insurance. Many of the owners are from New York, Connecticut and elsewhere from outside the Ocean State.

This would be a raid on the U.S. Treasury to further comfort the comfortable but will almost inevitably happen, encouraged by the seaside towns because most of these people do pay hefty property taxes. But inland-town folks paying federal taxes might not find this pleasing.

Winter moths laying eggs for next year's defoliation

By ecoRI News staff

KINGSTON, R.I. — Winter moths should be fluttering around porch lights and car headlights any day now, laying eggs that may lead to another spring of defoliated and dying trees.

That’s the warning from Heather Faubert, who runs the Plant Protection Clinic at the University of Rhode Island. She said the adult moths — an invasive species native to Europe — begin emerging from the ground around Thanksgiving and die before the New Year.

“I’ll be very curious to see what happens this year,” said Faubert, who annually monitors the insect’s population. “Their caterpillars defoliated 27,000 acres in Rhode Island in the spring of 2015, but even though we had winter moths everywhere last year and I saw a zillion eggs, they caused almost zero defoliation.”

Last year’s statewide defoliation, which began after winter moth caterpillars had long become inactive, was caused primarily by gypsy moths and, in some communities, forest tent caterpillars.

Faubert believes last year’s strange winter and spring weather negated what she expected to be a dire season for winter moth defoliation. Winter moth eggs typically hatch during a warm spell in April, but last year they began hatching during a warm period in late March. Two weeks later, in early April, temperatures dropped well below freezing and probably killed many of the caterpillars.

“I went looking for dead caterpillars but didn’t find many,” she said. “Maybe the caterpillars hatched too far ahead of the foliage development, so they didn’t have anything to eat. I’m not sure what really happened, but it definitely had something to do with our screwy weather.”

With little defoliation occurring last year from winter moths, Faubert said it’s possible that there will be fewer adult moths flying around during the next month. But that doesn’t mean Rhode Islanders should expect little impact from the insects.

“Each individual female can lay hundreds of eggs, so it could still be a bad year for defoliation in the spring,” she said.

What’s worse, according to Faubert, is that the combination of several years of defoliation in a row and the extended drought conditions could mean that more trees will die in the coming year.

“Defoliation is very stressful to trees,” she said. “That alone can kill trees. But having drought conditions is the worst thing that can happen to a stressed tree.”

What can homeowners do this winter to combat the effects of winter moth caterpillars? Not much. Faubert said attempting to kill the flying moths is useless since only the males fly. The females crawl up tree trunks to lay their eggs.

“Lots of people try using those adhesive tree bands, but the moths will just lay their eggs right below the band, and many of them can make it across the bands,” she said.

In an experiment she conducted last year, Faubert placed two tree bands, separated by about a foot, around one tree. The first band caught 207 female winter moths, while the second one caught 138. It’s unknown how many made it past both bands.

One strategy Faubert is deploying to control winter moth populations is the release of a tiny parasitic fly that lays its eggs on tree leaves. When the winter moth caterpillar consumes the eggs while eating the leaves, the eggs hatch inside the caterpillar and the fly larva eat it from the inside out. The fly has succeeded in controlling winter moth populations in Wellesley, Mass., and it appears to be on its way to doing so in Seekonk, Mass., as well.

Faubert released the flies in seven locations  between 2011 and 2015, and she hopes to soon see signs that it’s beginning to work.

“It’s still too early to tell, but we hope the flies will get our moth population down to manageable levels,” she said.

'Rethinking Robert Frost'


1974 stamp.

1974 stamp.

From poet/farmer Mike O’Connell’s piece about the last years of the charming, terrifying and still usually misunderstood Robert Frost, “Rethinking Robert Frost: I’ll beat the drum/ till it cry sleep to death’’. To read it, hit this link.

“For all {Robert} Frost’s hide-and-seek, for all his escapes into and out of the underbrush, in the end you can’t miss him. He hogs the road, blocks our way, hectors us until we understand him wrong or right. ‘It hurts like everything,’ he once wrote, ‘not to bring my point out more sharply.’ After his own conflicted fashion, he was straining with agitated heart to do this until the end. And as we witness the new century’s continuing stream of director’s-cut editions of his writings, we begin to see, {many} years after his death, what Frost meant about a willful return to earth. His ‘lover’s quarrel with the world’ endures; his prickly conversation with his reader goes on.’’

George Washington's rules of civility are in no danger of being followed

George Washington, as painted in 1797 by Gilbert Stuart, a Rhode Islander.

George Washington, as painted in 1797 by Gilbert Stuart, a Rhode Islander.

The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation
by George Washington·       .

The use of the long s (ſ) and uniqueness of spelling and phrasing are as found in the original manuscript.

·       1ſt Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Reſpect, to thoſe that are Preſent.

·       2nd When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not uſualy Diſcovered.

·       3rd Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him.

·       4th In the Preſence of Others Sing not to yourſelf with a humming Noiſe, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

·       5th If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aſide.

·       6th Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others ſtand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

·       7th Put not off your Cloths in the preſence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dreſt.

·       8th At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the laſt Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

·       9th Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire eſpecially if there be meat before it.

·       10th When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Croſsing them.

·       11th Shift not yourſelf in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

·       12th Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

·       13th Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriouſly upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

·       14th Turn not your Back to others eſpecially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Deſk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.

·       15th Keep your Nails clean and Short, alſo your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Shewing any great Concern for them.

·       16th Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thruſt out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Cloſe.

·       17th Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd Withal.

·       18th Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Neceſsity for the doing of it you muſt aſk leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another ſo as to read them unleſs deſired or give your opinion of them unaſk'd alſo look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.

·       19th Let your Countenance be pleaſant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

·       20th The Geſtures of the Body muſt be Suited to the diſcourſe you are upon.

·       21ſt Reproach none for the Infirmaties of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

·       22nd Shew not yourſelf glad at the Miſfortune of another though he were your enemy.

·       23rd When you ſee a Crime puniſhed, you may be inwardly Pleaſed; but always ſhew Pity to the Suffering Offender.

·       24th Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Publick Spectacle.

·       25th Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.

·       26th In Pulling off your Hat to Perſons of Diſtinction, as Noblemen, Juſtices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or leſs according to the Cuſtom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Perſon. Amongſt your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you firſt, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and reſaluting in words keep to the moſt uſual Cuſtom.

·       27th Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourſelf be covered as well as not to do it to whom it's due Likewiſe he that makes too much haſte to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the firſt, or at moſt the Second time of being aſk'd; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behaviour in Saluting, ought alſo to be obſerved in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troubleſome.

·       28th If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up tho he be your Inferiour, and when you Preſent Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.

·       29th When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourſelf, Stop, and retire eſpecially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Paſs.

·       30th In walking the higheſt Place in moſt Countrys Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourſelf on the left of him whom you deſire to Honour: but if three walk together the middeſt Place is the moſt Honourable the wall is uſually given to the moſt worthy if two walk together.

·       31ſt If any one far Surpaſseſs others, either in age, Eſtate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himſelf in his own lodging or elſewhere the one ought not to except it, So he on the other part ſhould not uſe much earneſtneſs nor offer it above once or twice.

·       32nd To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the cheif Place in your Lodging and he to who 'tis offered ought at the firſt to refuſe it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthineſs.

·       33rd They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Preceedency but whilſt they are Young they ought to reſpect thoſe that are their equals in Birth or other Qualitys, though they have no Publick charge.

·       34th It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak before ourſelves eſpecially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin.

·       35th Let your Diſcourſe with Men of Buſineſs be Short and Comprehenſive.

·       36th Artificers & Perſons of low Degree ought not to uſe many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Reſpect and highly Honour them, and thoſe of high Degree ought to treat them with affibility & Courteſie, without Arrogancy.

·       37th In Speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at leſt Keep a full Pace from them.

·       38th In viſiting the Sick, do not Preſently play the Phyſicion if you be not Knowing therein.

·       39th In writing or Speaking, give to every Perſon his due Title According to his Degree & the Cuſtom of the Place.

·       40th Strive not with your Superiers in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modeſty.

·       41ſt Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himſelf Proffeſses; it Savours of arrogancy.

·       42nd Let thy ceremonies in Courteſie be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou converſeſt for it is abſurd to act the ſame with a Clown and a Prince.

·       43rd Do not expreſs Joy before one ſick or in pain for that contrary Paſsion will aggravate his Miſery.

·       44th When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

·       45th Being to adviſe or reprehend any one, conſider whether it ought to be in publick or in Private; preſently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Shew no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetneſs and Mildneſs.

·       46th Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place Soever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time & Place convenient to let him him know it that gave them.

·       47th Mock not nor Jeſt at any thing of Importance break no Jeſt that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleaſent abtain from Laughing thereat yourſelf.

·       48th Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourſelf; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

·       49th Uſe no Reproachfull Language againſt any one neither Curſe nor Revile.

·       50th Be not haſty to beleive flying Reports to the Diſparagement of any.

·       51ſt Wear not your Cloths, foul, unript or Duſty but See they be Bruſh'd once every day at leaſt and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaneſs.

·       52nd In your Apparel be Modeſt and endeavour to accomodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Faſhion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with reſpect to Times and Places.

·       53rd Run not in the Streets, neither go too ſlowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking your Arms kick not the earth with your feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing faſhion.

·       54th Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well if your Stokings ſit neatly, and Cloths handſomely.

·       55th Eat not in the Streets, nor in the Houſe, out of Seaſon.

·       56th Aſsociate yourſelf with Men of good Quality if you Eſteem your own Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad Company.

·       57th In walking up and Down in a Houſe, only with One in Company if he be Greater than yourſelf, at the firſt give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the firſt that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may eaſily Speak to you.

·       58th Let your Converſation be without Malice or Envy, for 'tis a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Cauſes of Paſsion admit Reaſon to Govern.

·       59th Never expreſs anything unbecoming, nor Act againſt the Rules Moral before your inferiours.

·       60th Be not immodeſt in urging your Freinds to Diſcover a Secret.

·       61ſt Utter not baſe and frivilous things amongſt grave and Learn'd Men nor very Difficult Queſtians or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Diſcourſe with Sentences amongſt your Betters nor Equals.

·       62nd Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Diſcourſe tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.

·       63rd A Man ought not to value himſelf of his Atchievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much leſs of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

·       64th Break not a Jeſt where none take pleaſure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occaſion, deride no mans Miſfortune, tho' there Seem to be Some cauſe.

·       65th Speak not injurious Words neither in Jeſt nor Earneſt Scoff at none although they give Occaſion.

·       66th Be not froward but friendly and Courteous; the firſt to Salute hear and anſwer & be not Penſive when it's a time to Converſe.

·       67th Detract not from others neither be exceſsive in Commanding.

·       68th Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Aſk'd & when deſired do it briefly.

·       69th If two contend together take not the part of either unconſtrained; and be not obſtinate in your own Opinion, in Things indiferent be of the Major Side.

·       70th Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Maſters and Superiours.

·       71ſt Gaze not on the marks or blemiſhes of Others and aſk not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.

·       72nd Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as thoſe of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriouſly.

·       73rd Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too haſtily but orderly & diſtinctly.

·       74th When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and diſturb not the Audience if any heſitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without deſired, Interrupt him not, nor Anſwer him till his Speech be ended.

·       75th In the midſt of Diſcourſe aſk not of what one treateth but if you Perceive any Stop becauſe of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Perſon of Quality comes in while your Converſing it's handſome to Repeat what was ſaid before.

·       76th While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Diſcourſe nor Approach too near him to whom you talk eſpecially to his face.

·       77th Treat with men at fit Times about Buſineſs & Whiſper not in the Company of Others.

·       78th Make no Compariſons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Vertue, commend not another for the Same.

·       79th Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Diſcourſing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Diſcover not.

·       80th Be not Tedious in Diſcourſe or in reading unleſs you find the Company pleaſed therewith.

·       81ſt Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach thoſe that Speak in Private.

·       82nd Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Carefull to keep your Promiſe.

·       83rd When you deliver a matter do it without Paſsion & with Diſcretion, however mean the Perſon be you do it too.

·       84th When your Superiours talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.

·       85th In Company of theſe of Higher Quality than yourſelf Speak not til you are aſk'd a Queſtion then Stand upright put of your Hat & Anſwer in few words.

·       86th In Diſputes, be not So Deſireous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part eſpecially if they are Judges of the Diſpute.

·       87th Let thy carriage be ſuch as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is ſpoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.·      

88th Be not tedious in Diſcourſe, make not many Digreſsigns, nor repeat often the Same manner of Diſcourſe.

·       89th Speak not Evil of the abſent for it is unjuſt.

·       90th Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Noſe except there's a Neceſsity for it.

·       91ſt Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greedineſs; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.

·       92nd Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greaſy.

·       93rd Entertaining any one at table it is decent to preſent him with meat, Undertake not to help others undeſired by the Maſter.

·       94th If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self.

·       95th Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Diſh nor Caſt anything under the table.

·       96th It's unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.

·       97th Put not another bit into your Mouth til the former be Swallowed let not your Morſels be too big for the Gowls.

·       98th Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.

·       99th Drink not too leiſurely nor yet too haſtily. Before and after Drinking wipe your Lips breath not then or Ever with too Great a Noiſe, for its uncivil.

·       100th Cleanſe not your teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife but if Others do it let it be done with a Pick Tooth.

·       101ſt Rince not your Mouth in the Preſence of Others.

·       102nd It is out of uſe to call upon the Company often to Eat nor need you Drink to others every Time you Drink.

·       103rd In Company of your Betters be not longer in eating than they are lay not your Arm but only your hand upon the table.

·       104th It belongs to the Chiefeſt in Company to unfold his Napkin and fall to Meat firſt, But he ought then to Begin in time & to Diſpatch with Dexterity that the Sloweſt may have time allowed him.

·       105th Be not Angry at Table whatever happens & if you have reaſon to be ſo, Shew it not but on a Chearfull Countenance eſpecially if there be Strangers for Good Humour makes one Diſh of Meat a Feaſt.

·       106th Set not yourſelf at the upper of the Table but if it Be your Due or that the Maſter of the houſe will have it So, Contend not, leaſt you Should Trouble the Company.

·       107th If others talk at Table be attentive but talk not with Meat in your Mouth.

·       108th When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriouſly & with Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.

·       109th Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.

·       110th Labour to keep alive in your Breaſt that Little Spark of Celeſtial fire Called Conſcience.



In Providence, think big? Tall shadows of prosperity in Boston

Photo by Sam Weber

Photo by Sam Weber

From Robert Whitcomb's Nov. 24 "Digital Diary'' in GoLocal24.

“They all laughed at Rockefeller Center
Now they're fighting to get in
They all laughed at Whitney and his cotton gin’’

From the ‘ 30s song “They All Laughed,’’ with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by his brother Ira.

A bit of what’s wrong with Rhode Island popped up recently in remarks by Arnold “Buff’’ Chace, a Providence real-estate owner/developer and a scion of an old southeastern New England family. (One of the family’s enterprises became internationally known after Warren Buffett turned the family’s old textile company, Berkshire Hathaway, into a huge, and hugely successful, investment company – a sort of mutual fund for the affluent.)

Mr. Chace said of New York developer Jason Fane’s  recent proposal to put three skyscrapers (one 55 stories high), with condos and apartments, on Route 195 land in downtown Providence:

“The scale is a problem for sure. Buildings of that type are not part of the character of our city, and I think it would be a big mistake.’’

First, let us bear in mind that these buildings would compete with Mr. Chace’srental units.

But more to the point, why would it be bad if such towers changed the “character’’ of the city and state.  Is the current “character’’ all that good? Wouldn’t construction of such towers tell visitors and residents alike that Providence was becoming an exciting and dynamic place on the move instead of an often depressed, fiscally fragile place that has seen very little economic growth for years? And what’s wrong with skyscrapers? They are a symbol of hope and aspiration that would look great indowntown Providence and could be seen for miles around. Thank God for the little old skyscrapers that downtownProvidence has now that tell visitors that the city once had a thriving economy and so might have one again.

“If I were to do the same project in New York or Toronto, people would love to live in it. And it would be easy to finance, but it wouldn’t particularly stand out,” Mr. Fane told the Providence Business News. “This is where Providence would have an opportunity to change its self-image.”

Of course,  it’s healthier if local wealth and job creation come before residential development, or at least simultaneously.  Big real estate development usually follows local wealth creation, as do  the “hospitality industry’’ and philanthropy.  The big long-term wealth creators are: Inventing things, manufacturing things, growing and catching things, investing things and shipping things. So we hope that, for example, bio-tech, design and other job-creating sectors finally move into the Route 195 area to provide the income with which people could buy or rent in the likes of those towers.

But let’s not throw cold water on a proposal that could give people the hope that Providence can become a major and prosperous metropolis again.

When John D. Rockefeller Jr., assisted by his son, Nelson, built, and battled to fill, huge Rockefeller Center, in midtown Manhattan, in the Great Depression, many thought  that they were on a fool’s errand. But the expression of faith in New York demonstrated by the spectacular project helped turn Gotham around.

Providence needs to show similar energy and faith. The three-tower plan might or might not work, but  in any case the city desperately needs big, dramatic projects, which will bring in smaller ones, too. 


Booming Boston, for its part, is so rich that it has the luxury of dealing with  a multitude of real and proposed high-rise projects. Consider the 340-foot tower proposed for near Fenway Park. The Red Sox oppose the current version of the project.

 “We have strong concerns that this proposed project would create an unacceptably tall and impactful 29-story building in very close proximity to Fenway Park, and which might have significant negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood as well as our historic ballpark itself,” David Friedman, the team’s senior vice president for legal and government affairs, told the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

It’s part of the growing controversy in Boston over proliferating skyscrapers putting some buildings, parks and other places in shadows for some of the day. But the owners of these proposed buildings can pay so much in property taxes in what has become truly a world city that it’s hard to tell them to go away, and most Bostonians seem very happy to have them anyway. Compared to Providence, it’s a nice problem to have. “The Hub’’ has become a very exciting city, especially compared to its Dickensian dreariness in the ‘50s.

Maybe beggars, such as Providence, can’t be choosers.



Chris Powell: Bad manners at 'Hamilton'; Hartford is bankrupt

For the sake of argument assume that the vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is an awful person, as are Donald Trump and everyone who voted for them. That still would not excuse Pence's treatment the other week by the cast of Hamilton during his attendance at the show on Broadway.

As the show ended and the cast took its curtain call, one of the actors stepped forward, called attention to Pence's presence in the audience, and, addressing him, said the cast is "alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us," adding that they hoped that the show "has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

It was as if there had not just been an election campaign full of rhetoric about "American values" and as if Pence hadn't heard it and responded to it already, if not to everyone's satisfaction. The cast's stunt was only self-righteous posturing and bad manners from people who are a little too full of themselves.

Pence should have expected it and he claimed not to have been bothered by it, though, of course, Trump couldn't wait to inject himself into the issue indignantly, as if he had finished assembling the new national administration and had run out of things to do.

"The theater must always be a safe and special place," the president-elect proclaimed. But in a free country the theater doesn't have to be anything. It can be like a presidential campaign: safe or unsafe, special or mediocre, vile or sublime, stupid or thoughtful. Anyone can put anything on the stage and anyone can attend or not.

But one doesn't pay extravagantly for a ticket on Broadway to be singled out as the target of the political grievances of actors who can't bring themselves to let the audience draw its own political conclusions from their work.

The Hamilton cast indicated that its main concern about the coming Trump administration is immigration, Trump having campaigned against illegal immigration and having at first equated all Mexican immigrants with criminals and all Muslim immigrants with terrorists. But Trump has been reprimanded pretty well for resorting to such stereotypes and as a result has begun moderating his position, while his critics have not yet acknowledged any problems with immigration. No, Trump's critics seem perfectly happy with the uncontrolled immigration that the country has tolerated in recent years, despite its threats to the working-class wage base, national security and the country's democratic and secular culture.

The refusal of the governing and intellectual classes to acknowledge those threats is one reason the election turned out as it did.


Hartford is supposed to get Gov. Dannel Malloy's permission before filing for bankruptcy, but in effect the city has already gone into bankruptcy without it. That is, the city is threatening to stop paying its dues to the regional water and sewage-treatment agency, the Metropolitan District Commission.

Hartford's threat has caused the MDC to instruct its other member municipalities to put money aside to cover the city's share of the agency's budget, amounts that for some towns will exceed a million dollars a year.

This is silly because Hartford does have the money to pay the MDC. The city is just choosing to divert water and sewer money to pay others instead, like city employees, vendors, and lenders. City government figures that it's easier to stiff fellow MDC members.

But if the MDC responded to Hartford's delinquency by turning off the city's water and sewer service, the city instantly would come up with the money, nothing being more important than water and sanitation. The suburban delegates to the MDC should stop being such patsies and instead tell Hartford to stiff someone else.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn., and an essayist on social and political issues.

A de Tocqueville weekend in Vermont

The Bradford Congregtional Church

The Bradford Congregtional Church

From Robert Whitcomb's Nov. 24 "Digital Diary'' column in GoLocal24.

In most years for the past quarter century, I’ve joined a bunch of malefriendsand driven to Bradford, Vt.,  a small town on the Connecticut River, on the weekend before Thanksgiving to eat at a game supper in the Congregational (aka “Congo’’) church there. It’s held in an assembly hall beneath the nave as the church’s major annual fund-raising event. The food is a wide range of game,  including beaver (yuck!), elk, venison, pheasant, wild boar, rabbit and some other animals. (Too bad they don’t  offer alligator, which is quite good.)

I generally avoid meat, mostly out of sympathy for the animals and a little bit because of health. But the game dinner is for a good cause, and maybe some of the animals being served are road kill anyway.

It’s tasty enough but the trip has been mostly an excuse to get together and catch up once a year. It’s also a bit of Americannostalgia.

The small-town folks manning the supper are a delightful mix of old, young and middle aged. (Some of the teens look a bit as if they’d be drafted against their will into acting as waiters to bring the cider, coffee and dessert – always gingerbread – to the tables.)

There are always a lot of what I used to consider “old people’’ staffing the long buffet tables;  I am their age now. Most of the “old people’’ we first encountered in 1990 have gone to their reward, including, I think, the blue-haired lady who used to pound out tunes from old shows such as Oklahoma! on the upright piano in the nave to amuse those waiting to be called by number to go downstairs to the chow.

There’s a big kitschy picture on the wall in that hall showing a boy Jesus teaching his elders; it must date from the late 19th Century. At least this Palestinian kid wasn’t blond, unlike in my Sunday school books in the ‘50s!

The church needs painting and I’d guess, like most mainline Protestant churches, its membership is down, so it was nice to help out a bit to keep the place going.  For various reason this was my last year attending this little annual event but it’sbeen edifying to participate insuch a good-hearted community endeavor, and find out what the contemporaries in my little group were up to as they moved from middle to old age.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59), who wrote on the special importance in America of community organizations for a healthy civic life and local democracy, would have liked the Bradford Game Supper. “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens,”  he wrote.

And Norman Rockwell would have found a subject for a magazine cover or two in this escape from the increasing sleaziness of American life.

It snowed in the hills on our way back to southern New England. Winter is pressing in.