Reader Interactions


  1. Pogo says

    @Planet of the Trump

    “And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We’re now on full automatic in the hands of the computers. I’ve tucked my crew in for the long sleep, and I’ll be joining them…soon. In less than an hour we’ll finish our six months out of Cape Kennedy. Six months in deep space…by our time, that is. According to Dr. Hasslein’s theory of time in a vehicle traveling nearly the speed of light, the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it…while we’ve aged hardly at all. Maybe so. This much is probably true. The men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You, who are reading me now, are a different breed…I hope a better one. I leave the 20th century with no regrets, but…one more thing, if anybody’s listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s… purely personal. But seen from out here, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is… boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely. That’s about it. Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother… keep his neighbor’s children starving?”
    — George Taylor (Charlton Heston) in Planet of the Apes, 1968

    • James says

      The twin paradox is interesting… I have often thought of it here in Florida.


      Well, being from the North and moving South, almost to the equator, one just might have shaved off a few seconds of age (over the course of a lifetime).

      But let me tell ya, it’s not worth it in my opinion.


      • Sherry says

        Hello James,

        Your comment made me smile. I’m right there with you. While I was born and raised in a much kinder Florida. . . after returning from NY and CA to live in Flagler Beach for 18 years, we had to move to find a more peaceful culture. We are convinced that now living in wonderful Sausalito has added a much higher quality of living= happiness to what ever years we have left. . . ahhhhh. . . joy, peace, love!

        Good evening from our holidays in amazing Southern Africa!

        • James says

          Well, Sherry to be completely honest, I don’t think Einsteins thought experiment applies.

          But nevertheless, I do feel moving here I have gone back in time somehow. :-)


    • Ray W. says

      Thank you, Pogo!

      Do we still make war? Do we still keep our neighbor’s children starving?

      The Quaker movement in America prior to the Revolution was strongest in the Delaware Valley region. One of the tenets of the Quaker faith, held by many in the region, was a strong responsibility to care for the poor of the community, including the poor who were not Quakers. It wasn’t so much as a vote to impose a tax on the village or town so much as a collection that occurred at each church meeting. Money was collected and distributed. The faith was primarily built on the Golden Rule, driven by an Inner Light. It is now called “Reciprocal Liberty.” This ideal of reciprocal liberty eventually led the Quakers to a complete renunciation of slavery. As the original American abolitionists, the Quakers believed that, as they would never wish to be slaves, the Golden Rule mandated that they should never hold slaves. In 1712, the Quaker-dominated state legislature passed a law banning the importation of slaves into the colony. The Crown disallowed the legislation. In 1758, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting recorded the “unanimous concern” against “the practice of importing, buying, selling, or keeping slaves for term of life.” In 1767, a Quaker’s wife inherited two slaves. The Quaker freed them and decided to pay them a sum equal to the amount their labor had enriched his estate. He asked the Haddonfield meeting members to help him compute a just sum for their labors. In 1773, non-Quakers joined with Quakers in the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a law imposing a high duty on those who owned slaves, making slaveholding prohibitively expensive. The Crown, again, disallowed the legislation. Once independence was declared, the Pennsylvania legislature immediately prohibited the importation of slaves. In 1780, Pennsylvania abolished all aspects of slavery, though at a gradual pace.

      To those Quakers, “every liberty demanded for oneself should also be extended to others.” The Golden Rule in action. These liberties were liberties of conscience, trial by jury, the rights of property, the rule of representation, and the abolition of slavery. This idea of reciprocal liberty meant that no one should go hungry, no one should be without care.

      • Pogo says

        @Ray W.

        Thank you for thoughtful attention. Sadly, I reiterate from the same, “…The men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You, who are reading me now, are a different breed…I hope a better one…”

        Mr. Taylor, I regret to say — not enough. Not enough to overcome the ascendant absence of virtue, knowledge, and reason, while villainy and deceit, generously abetted by gullibility, laziness, and delusion, are increasing, nay, flourishing. And too much. Too much expediency, procrastination, passivity, and complacency in the face of actual danger.

  2. Ray W. says

    In a comment attached to another column, Dennis C. Rathsam denied membership in a cult, all the while extolling his perception of the virtuous status he now holds as a consequence of his 50-year adherence to Republican values; he also pointed out his perception of the cult-like behavior of the opposition party and the lack of virtue inhering in its values.

    The above-depicted cartoon of candidate Trump in robes of royalty brings to mind the long-running and contentious 18th century debate, the outcome of which allowed our founding fathers to not only declare independence from their king, but to engage in the reasoned process of establishing a liberal democratic Constitutional republic.

    While he was not the first, Voltaire was perhaps the most prominent of the several 18th century thinkers who championed the great question of that century: Was God the ship’s captain? Or: Was God the ship’s builder?

    If the answer was that God was the ship’s captain, then mankind had to obey kings, because God created kings to rule and protect men. Kings, in answer to the question, were to captain the ship in accord with God’s will, and men were to obediently follow kings. If the answer was that God was nothing more than the ship’s builder, then God did not create kings to captain the ship. The people could, in this scenario, captain their own ship, either by willingly adopting their own kings within a constitutional framework (Alexander Hamilton argued that presidents, once elected, should serve for life, just as judges, once approved, served for life; only members of the House or Senate should be subjected to re-election to their offices) or by adopting a constitutional form of government that openly required a peaceful transfer of executive power after each presidential election, should the incumbent president be defeated.

    Obviously, our founding fathers did not choose to elect presidents for life. Nor did they intend to create a government in which presidents, having been created by God to captain the ship of state for life, were to lead the people. Obviously, they chose to establish a liberal democratic Constitutional republic, based in large part on the peaceful transfer of power after each expression of the voter’s will.

    But this does not sufficiently address the issue of cult. While there are many definitions of “cult”, one caught my attention. “[A] misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.” To me, the message sent by the editorial cartoon heading this article captures the essence of this definition of cult.

    This raises a secondary issue: Can a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing prompt a follower to distort reasoned thought?

    My thoughts go to last Sunday’s first segment of the popular and long-running series, 60 Minutes. In that segment, Jerome Powell was interviewed. During the wide-ranging interview, Mr. Powell opined that the American economy was “strong.” On January 14, 2024, ABC News had published the findings of a wide-ranging poll. One of the sub findings of that poll was that 90% of Republicans rated the American economy as “bad.” How can there be such a disconnect between the opinion by one of the best educated, most experienced, and most prominent economic figures in American life and the opinions expressed by members of one political party? Both Dennis C. Rathsam and JimboXYZ have repeatedly commented about their opinion of the poor state of the American economy. How can they also be so disconnected from the informed opinion of one of the best among us all?

    Perhaps some background is in order.

    Jerome Powell, a life-long Republican, was first appointed to the U.S. Department of Treasury by then-President George H.W. Bush. In 1992, Powell was approved to serve as an Under Secretary of State for Domestic Finance. After the Bush administration, Powell reentered the private banking and finance world for some two decades. During the first Obama term, he was appointed to replace a resigning member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, his first assignment to that bank’s leadership. He was confirmed by the Senate in a 67-24 vote. Then-President Trump nominated Mr. Powell to replace Janet Yellen as the Chairman of the Fed. His Senate committee vote was 22-1. The Senate confirmation vote was 84-13. He was sworn in to lead the national bank on February 5, 2018, for a term of four years. President Biden nominated Mr. Powell to a second term. The committee vote was 22-1. The Senate confirmation vote was 80-19. He was sworn in to a new four-year term on May 23, 2022.

    The Federal Reserve Bank was created in 1913, with three statutory commands: 1. Maximize employment. 2. Stabilize prices. 3. Moderate long-term interest rates. Over the decades, Congress has added and modified other roles for the Fed, but the three original commands remain unchanged. There are twelve regional branches of the Fed, each with its own Board of Directors. When the national board meets, 17 members, some on a rotating basis, attend the meetings. When Jerome Powell speaks to the findings of the Fed, he is speaking from the perspective of a consensus of many of the best economic minds this country has at its disposal.

    One of the critical demands on Mr. Powell is the requirement that the Fed remain an independent agency. The Fed receives no funds from Congress. It was created as in independent banking entity. In 2020, the Fed turned a profit of $88.6 billion and remitted to the Treasury $86.9 billion. As a bank, it earns its own way and more.

    In the most recent meeting of the Fed, the collective assessment was that it was not yet time to begin the long process of reducing lending rates. Both Republicans and Democrats assailed that announcement. During the 60 Minutes interview, Mr. Powell addressed his critics. He stated: “We do not consider politics in our decisions. We never do. And we never will. Integrity is priceless. And at the end, that all you have.” Mr. Powell went on to add that it would be more persuasive if the American job market began to display a measure of “weakness” and if the inflation rate were to display a more “persuasive” drop. Noting that the job market has long been strong and that inflation over the last eleven months has been dropping, he mentioned that the twelve-month average inflation rate was not yet at the 2% mark, even though it has been there for the last six months. More time was necessary to ensure that the desired 2% mark is not transitory or ephemeral.

    Given the above facts, whom should Republicans believe? Jerome Powell, perhaps the best-situated economist who heads an independent banking entity, or politicians who have not sworn an oath to tell the truth when taking office? Apparently, 90% of Republicans believe politicians who have not sworn to tell the truth when taking office as opposed to the independent word of a life-long Republican economist. Does this scenario fit the definition of belonging to a cult? Are Republicans, en masse, wandering through life fooling themselves about the current state of the American economy? Again, one definition of membership in a cult is “a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.”

    Every FlaglerLive reader should know by now my take on the American economy. But repetition is still in order.

    In 2020, we, as a nation and indeed the world, experienced the economic shock of my lifetime, a shock that many argue had not occurred since the Great Depression. Congress immediately responded by overwhelmingly passing a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. A few months later, the same Congress overwhelmingly passed a $900 billion second stimulus package. Former President Trump signed both bills into law. The statutes mandated that, over time, the $2.9 trillion packages were to be spent, regardless of who occupied the White House. Under the current administration, a number of stimulus packages were passed by bi-partisan vote, totaling another $3 trillion in eventual value. As with the first two packages, the later packages require the spending of the stimulus money, regardless of who occupies the White House.

    Over the past four years, well over $4 trillion of the approved nearly $6 trillion in stimulus money has been distributed. It achieved its purpose. The money stimulated a rapidly faltering economy. Every economist in the country knew that the stimulus money would heat the economy to the extent that an occurrence of inflation was likely. Every economist in the country also knew that one side effect of an inflationary economy could be rising job losses. When the expected bout with inflation began, the Fed responded by raising lending rates, as first slowly. As inflation spiraled toward a high of 9.1% (twelve-month average), the Fed’s lending rate rose precipitously. But the anticipated loss in jobs never occurred. Last year, 3.1 million new jobs were created. Since 2021, some 14 million new jobs have been created. We never slipped into recession, by definition. The stock market remains strong. GDP growth exceeds expectations. I expect that economists will argue for years over how to explain the effect of such a large stimulus package on such a large shock to our economy. Right now, there seems to be no consensus other than the economy is behaving in ways no one predicted. A “soft landing” just might occur, a historical first.

    Since both Trump and Biden followed the lay and implemented the will of Congress, I strongly disagree with the term Bidenomics. The far better and more accurate term is Trudenomics. And, since both presidents signed into law large stimulus packages, I strongly disagree with the term Bidenflation. The far better and more accurate term is Trudenflation. It can be argued that both presidents saved our country from immediate financial ruin, but at an as yet undetermined final cost.

    Mr. Powell, in the 60 Minutes interview, stated that in the very long term, our current level of deficit spending is “unsustainable.” He was careful to distinguish long-term from short-term. In the short-term, the deficit spending is far less of a problem, but if it is not addressed by future Congresses and presidents, it will become a much more oppressive legacy for our children. No disagreement from me.

    I ask all FlagerLive readers to weigh in on this important issue. Add to my commentary. Correct it. Oppose it. Whatever. Just do so by engaging in a reasoning process that involves intellectual rigor, please.

    • Pogo says

      @Respectfully, challenge accepted (maybe my reply will even be allowed — I can’t say)

      Is it possible that some problems have multiple causes, i.e., and e g., ordinary stupidity, ignorance, bad faith?

      May it be the case that a cult is also, or actually, some other phenomena, e.g., a moral panic, aka hysteria, deliberately created by intention and design, or otherwise?

      Is it possible a discussion of spending must, or at the least, benefit from including also, income, i.e., revenue, yes, even the t word: taxes?

      Could be related

      As stated

      As stated

      Sincerely, my praise and gratitude for your exertions on behalf of us all.

      • James says

        Why go back so far Pogo… the Clinton – Rubin years were in my opinion, great.

        If I recall correctly, the US had a surplus under their administration… with the help of the republicans of course.

        My point being that problems can be surmounted.

        Just an observation.

      • Sherry says

        Thank you Pogo and Ray W.!

        Regarding those that post comments similar to Dennis and Jimbo’s, my personal spirituality and compassion occasionally has me seeing them as victims of the Murdoch fear machine. For me, there is a larger than expected segment of our fellow citizens who are undereducated/ inexperienced. It is my contention that many of them have been manipulated using powerful emotional triggers that are based in “fear”, as their intellectual latent insecurities make them ripe ready for the picking. Buddhist teachings express the perspective that all negative emotions are fear based.

        While Ray W. magnanimously has given Dennis and Jimbo credit for a more developed intellect than they obviously possess, Pogo cuts right to the quick “ordinary ignorance, stupidity, bad faith”. I’m with Pogo.
        Saying that, however, I have promised myself to be less manipulated by
        the emotional hooks of the angry trolls who comment here, and therefore less strident in my responses.

        I’ll continue to call for credentialed facts. . . but, from a place where I first visualize those posting garbage/vitriol as being victimized by a maliciously powerful cult. Bottom line. . . first Murdoch’s FOX brainwashed millions for over 20 years, then trump’s immoral fear and hate filled the vacuum.

    • Ed P says

      Ok Ray W, I will accept your invitation and like Pogo, I can only guess if it will post.
      Let’s step back for a second and ask, what if it is not cultism? Indulge me. What if it’s much more complicated than a simple label as to why there is the “disconnect “ from the statistical facts and anyone’s perception? Remember, a persons perception is their reality and is usually difficult to negotiate and change, because they know what they see. They believe their eyes.
      Let me expand. Many families grow up with both parents working, trying to make ends meet. They are extremely busy and rely on sound bites, headlines, and social media for much of their news. Cable cutting has not helped either because live tv is reduced. Hence, they don’t take time to research issues, they simply rely on a favorite source and know that gasoline, groceries, or even a “kids happy meal”is just too expensive. The opinion is formed when bacon goes from $3.00 lb to $9.00 or eggs sky rocket, regardless if it really tied to avian flu or real economic facts. It was easier before Covid-Trump, then now with Biden. Anticipated inflation occurred and hurt the working poor and retirees who may not have been recipients of the Covid stimulus money. They did not get student loan relief they got a 7% car loan.. They got a cash flow issue because when living pay to pay check, any hiccup creates the shortage.
      Our ability to discuss opposing views with friends and even family members has become tumultuous. The division has driven everyone to pick sides. The term echo chamber comes to mind.
      Maybe some Flagler live readers believe the information being published is absolute and correct and some may even believe it to be balanced. Rarely will a Flagler Live liberal commenter praise any Republication action. Even a broken clock is right twice each day.
      I reserve terms that lend themselves to extreme positions to a minimum. For instance, the words love or hate. Both are over used. Some people verbally love or hate everything. These are the most extreme feeling and I use them so infrequently that when I do, my cohorts know I mean it. Same with labels such as cults. My point is when you label everything to the extreme, true meaning is lost.
      People have always had differing opinions, right or left, correct or incorrect. The difference today is society has forced people to coalesce and choose a side because we have lost our ability to civilly discuss the issues. It is not a crisis or a threat to democracy, it’s what makes this county the last bastion of true freedom on earth.

      • Ray W. says

        Hello Ed P.

        Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the reasoned effort. I have long argued for someone, anyone, to emerge as a reasoned voice on the FlaglerLive forum for what was once a strong conservative movement in America. I still read David Brooks whenever I come across his work. Not because I agree with him, but because he presents as a humanistic voice for conservativism, which is always worth considering.

        I listed a single definition of cult and admitted that I had seen many other definitions for the term on different sites. From my one listed definition, it can be argued that Dennis C. Rathsam is a member of a political cult that is engaged in a form of partisanship that our founding fathers strongly opposed, using the term “pestilential” in their opposition to that type of political partisanship. Our founding fathers were opposed to any partisan activities that were not based on reason; they just didn’t care for any political parties at all. I agree that by using other definitions for cult, today’s extremist members of the Republican Party just might not be engaged in cult-like activities. I just have a hard time getting past “slitting throats”, “crushing vermin”, and “beheading liberals.” I just don’t see how that cannot qualify as cult-like destructive behaviors. And, I haven’t yet seen Dennis C. Rathsam denounce our governor for his comment about “slitting throats.” We can all engage in a Dennis C. Rathsam watch and applaud in unison when he condemns such an extreme form of political speech.

        Your comment is exactly what I hope to foster by my own comments. I don’t necessarily want just one opinion on an issue. There are many options, many opinions, out there. I just want commenters to rely on their own gift of reason and to follow reason to whatever end it takes them. Even in my most recent comments, I gave credit to former President Trump for signing into law the legislation that arguably saved our economy from a pandemic-induced freefall, just as President Biden signed additional legislation for the same purpose. In the same vein, I will always give credit to former President George W. Bush for signing an executive order pledging the full faith and credit of the Treasury, to the tune of a potential cost of $4.5 trillion, at a time when major financial institutions were teetering towards bankruptcy. The executive order calmed the roiled waters and only one major bank failed. Credit is due and I freely and repeatedly give it.

        We need two healthy and robust political parties. I just hope we can return to that circumstance.

    • James says

      Dennis Rathman or whoever he is, is a troubled man. Is he a member of a cult? Maybe, but maybe he’s just a man who is in the process of realizing some truth, whatever that might be.

      As for cults? As for the world coming to an end?

      It’s easy to fall into believing that if you just lost the last few mainstream over-the-air television stations and what’s left is nine or so “holy roller” stations broadcasting out of St. Augustine. But that’s what’s left eventually when one lives on the edge of the abyss which is Palm Coast.

      Not that I don’t appreciate the old Doctor Who episodes… Tom Baker was the Doctor Who of my childhood, but I’ve grown to appreciate many of the others as well.

      All wonderful actors.

      Do wonder what happened to all the Dalek episodes though.

      Of course they have one serious news feed “Newsnet.” But that has so many irregularities in it’s source transmission that it’s clearly being pirated from a sat downlink in my opinion.

      As far as Trump, the cartoon… and cults? After reading of unholy baptisms by Flynn awhile back?

      Sorry Ray… it’s a cult.

      Just my opinion.

      • Ray W. says

        Thank you, James. Can’t really argue with your conclusion. Don’t really agree with the argument that equates cults with end of the world fantasies, but just as there were once 105 different meanings for the verb “to run”, there are a number of different meanings of “cult.” Some of them do equate cults with end of the world fantasies.

        I grew up in Daytona Beach at a time when the Expos were formed as a major league team, with its training site in Daytona Beach. I suppose it is a very weak form of cult-life behavior to be a life-long Expos, and now Nationals, fan. Perhaps not so much as being a cheesehead in Green Bay, but not really so dissimilar. So, by the weakest definition of the term “cult, I guess I do belong to one. Go Nationals!

      • Sherry says

        @ James. . . You are right on!

        When a newsperson asked Republican primary voters in Iowa whether they would rather have 4 years of a dictator or 4 more years of President Biden, at least some of them said they would rather have a dictator.

        When the “usual suspects” like Dennis and Jimbo paste negative talking points directly from FOX, with zero factual information. When there is “silence” after credible facts are requested.

        When there is NO denunciation of political leaders after they call for murder and violence against their political enemies.

        When any person has been elevated as a demagogue, although he has legally been found to be guilty of such things as sexual assault and financial fraud.

        A “cult” has formed!

  3. Foresee says

    Very little intellectual rigor here, just sophistry, bloviating, pseudo-intellectual soap bubbles floating aimlessly around. The cartoons are fun though!

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