Blunderful Berlin

Mark Weeks recommended on his blog, Chess For All Ages ( videos hosted by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko. I spent the off day watching the interviews before watching GM Peter Svidler

analyze the games between Aronian,

and Kramnik

from round three,

and Kramnik-Caruana,

from the following round. I have always liked Svid since reading an interview, or Q&A, in which he mentioned Bob Dylan as one of his favorite musical artists. I have previously watched some of his round of the day videos, which were excellent. They are usually filmed after a long day of analyzing Chess when he is obviously exhausted. They are, nevertheless, wonderfully elucidating, and the aforementioned videos are no exception. After the opening moves had been played today, I watched the post-game press conference with Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana

on Chess24 ( before watching Svid give his take on the game, which I enjoyed immensely.

While working at the House of Pain (aka, the Atlanta Chess and Game Center), I noticed Chess videos had become quite popular. Being a fossil from the days when players obtained information from books, I wondered why anyone would pay that kind of money for a video when one could use it to purchase a book. Videos proliferate to the point now when one can obtain them freely via the internet.

I thought about this when receiving an email from Gene Nix, a player and organizer in Greenville, SC. (

“I agree that kids are good to have around, in chess and elsewhere. A neighborhood with young children running round is more alive, and kids playing chess means tournaments will continue into the future, if more noisily. But they’re different now. I asked one of the Charlotte teenager Masters what he’d read to help him become so strong – My System, Zurich 1953, My 60 Memorable Games, opening monographs, or what? “I don’t read chess books.”

Good weekend to you,
On Friday, February 2, 2018

Ouch! That hurt. I love the feel of a good book in the morning. I begin most days with a book and cuppa coffee. A good day finds me with another cuppa afternoon joe, and a book!

I have read that beauty is in the flaws, or imperfections. This is applicable to Chess, for without imperfections some of the greatest games, most beautiful and exciting games would never have been played. Such is the case with the current Candidates tournament in Berlin. Peter Svidler can be heard saying, “…more mistakes are forthcoming.” He also says the games are, “…incredibly interesting and exciting,” because of the mistakes. Caruana has been involved in two of the games mentioned in this post, as has Levon Aronian. Fabiano was fortunate to win both games, while Levon was not so fortunate, yet he is to be applauded as much as Fabiano for playing fighting Chess, which has been infinitely more enjoyable than some of the draws made by other players. I hope a fighting player wins the event because one should not be able to draw their way to a seat across from the human World Chess Champion. “I’ve played pretty good fighting Chess,” said Caruana. Levon, probably the favorite going into the tournament, said in answer to a question, “Not my best; probably one of my worst.” For Levon it has been a

Myriad problems marred the beginning of the tournament. GM Kevin Spraggett detailed how bad were the conditions when he wrote, “The players in the tournament are really suffering. There is only one toilet for 8 players, the first day there was no running water! Now there is water, but it is soapy.” (

Levon mentioned in the interview in answering a question concerning flashes from cellphones, said it was, “Not as noisy as the first couple of days.” For such an important tournament, second only to the Worlds Championship, this is unacceptable. Levon went on to say, “When you play badly your play is affected by everything, but when you play well it’s not so…” The sound of clapping could be heard from the audience.

Let us hope the Germans somehow manage to alleviate the suffering of the poor players for the last rounds of the tournament. The best human Chess players in the world deserve better conditions than they have received.


Everything Is Broken

The resignation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson answers questions during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. November 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

has stunned We The People of the dis United States of America. There were reports of Mr. Tillerson being “sick” before leaving Africa. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell said, on the Rachel Maddow show ( the Secretary of State was “ebullient” until receiving the tweet he had been fired. Could it be the Trump tweet sickened Rex?

Before being nominated for the job of Secretary of State Rex was not even on the radar. It appeared the choice was between Mitt “47%; 48; 49%” Romney (

and Rudy Giuliani


The choice of Tillerson flummoxed everyone, until reports surfaced of Russian President Putin informing the Trumpsters he would be displeased with Romney because he was not friendly enough for Russiaian liking. Vlad preferred someone the Russians liked, and could “work with.” That someone was Rex Tillerson, who had received the Russian Order of Friendship Prize from Putin in 2013.


Back in the day receiving such an award would be tantamount to treason. Those were the “Red Scare” days of “McCarthyism,” when Republicans said they would rather be dead than Red. The Republicans motto has now become, “Rather Red than dead.” We The People now have an administration of Russian loving traitors. The list of Republicans in bed with the Reds grows longer by the day. Carter Page, who proves every time he opens his mouth that it is possible for stupid people to earn a PhD, was the first Foreign Policy advisor the Trumpster mentioned, and Trump campaign head Paul Manafort, who has gone from one ankle bracelet to one on each leg to house arrest, head the long list. Space does not allow all the other names involved in this nefariously sordid saga…Evidently there are huge amounts of money to be earned when selling out your country. Now there is a major political party on the take, the REDplblicans.

Now our country’s relationship with Russia now looks like this:

Rex Tillerson, who eschewed hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the cyber attack of the Russians while heading the Department of State, recently grew some cojones and spoke honestly about what Putin’s minions have done, and continue to do while sticking it to We The People. “Tensions boiled over in October, when NBC claimed that Tillerson had previously referred to Trump as a “fucking moron.” (

Was Rex Tillerson canned for pointing the finger at Russia?

By Suzanne Monyak 2 days ago

“The night before Tillerson’s unceremonious ousting via Twitter, the then–secretary of state told reporters that the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter in a British bar “clearly came from Russia.” That was not the White House’s position, exactly. “If we get the facts straight we will condemn Russia, or whoever it might be,” Donald Trump said.

Were Tillerson’s comments on the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal the last straw for Trump? A State Department spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday morning that Tillerson is “unaware of the reason” behind his firing, while Trump added that he and the former ExxonMobil executive “were not really thinking the same.”

Did Trump fire Tillerson because he was too anti-Russia?

by Aaron Blake March 13

“About 13 hours before he was fired as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson issued perhaps his toughest comments to date on Russia. He said that a nerve agent used on a former Russian spy in Britain last week “clearly came from Russia.” He also called Russia “an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”

It was perhaps his last major act as secretary of state. But was it the reason for his dismissal — or even a last straw?

The White House is insisting the decision to fire Tillerson had been made before his comments Monday evening — that he was informed of the decision in the early-morning hours Saturday, before returning from a trip to Africa. But a statement from a top State Department spokesman Tuesday indicated Tillerson had no advance warning of his termination beyond a heads-up that Trump would tweet something. (The spokesman, Steve Goldstein, has been fired for contradicting the White House.)”

What minuscule percentage of We The People believe anything coming from the White House these daze?

Rex Tillerson Leaves With A Shattered Reputation And A Broken Department

By Jesselyn Cook 03/13/2018 01:10 pm ET

How much more can We The People take?

Everything Is Broken
Written by: Bob Dylan

Broken lines, broken strings

Broken threads, broken springs

Broken idols, broken heads

People sleeping in broken beds

Ain’t no use jiving

Ain’t no use joking

Everything is broken

Broken bottles, broken plates

Broken switches, broken gates

Broken dishes, broken parts

Streets are filled with broken hearts

Broken words never meant to be spoken

Everything is broken

Seem like every time you stop and turn around

Something else just hit the ground

Broken cutters, broken saws

Broken buckles, broken laws

Broken bodies, broken bones

Broken voices on broken phones

Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin’

Everything is broken

Every time you leave and go off someplace

Things fall to pieces in my face

Broken hands on broken ploughs

Broken treaties, broken vows

Broken pipes, broken tools

People bending broken rules

Hound dog howling, bullfrog croaking

Everything is broken

Copyright © 1989 by Special Rider Music


One of the things I liked about playing Chess was the people whom I met along the Chess road. The road led me to twenty five states in which I participated in a USCF tournament. Some people make a point of attempting to play in every state. In my case it was happenstance.

I came of age in the South. You can take a boy out of the South, but you can never take the South out of the boy. My father was a Southern Baptist; my Mother was not. My father said he “knew” he was going to heaven. My Mother asked, “How can he know? Nobody knows…” I am agnostic.

Southern Baptists are very conservative people who feel threatened by change, or by anyone who is “not like us.” They do not like anyone who is “different.” The people among whom I came of age did not like John F. Kennedy because he as a “Catholic.” They hated “Jews” because they had killed Jesus Christ. I pointed out Jesus was a Jew and was turned on with venom. “Jesus was NOT A JEW! Jesus was GOD!”

My parents voted for Barry Goldwater

because he was a “conservative,” which was a code word for “racist.” My father worked for a new newspaper, the Atlanta Times, because it was an alternative to the “liberal” (pronounced “liBRUL”-as in “He’s one of ‘dem damned liBRULs!) Atlanta Journal & Constitution, for whom my father once worked. The newspaper was ahead of its time and went belly-up, and so did my father, who had put EVERYTHING into the paper.

I can still recall the first time I saw an American of African descent. An older, dark-skinned woman was walking on our street, about to head up what we called, “the hill.” One of my sisters noticed her and yelled for us to come to the picture window. There were black people living within walking distance of us, but we never saw them because that’s just the way it was in those dark days. The high school I attended, College Park, was integrated the year after I graduated.

Chess helped expand my horizons. I met a fellow whom we called “Mad Dog” with affection. He was really a meek and mild kinda guy, except when sitting across from you at a Chess board. Someone said he played the Alekhine defense “like a mad dog,” and it stuck. I, too, would play the Alekhine defense in those days, and invariably had difficulty playing against the Mad Dog’s Alekhine defense.

Mad Dog was Jewish, but had been excommunicated from his family when he married a gentile, with whom he had a daughter. Like my father, the Mad Dog worked for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. We would sometimes get together and play Chess in the Central City Park, located at Five Points in the heart of the city of Atlanta. Former Georgia Chess Champion Bob Joiner also worked downtown in the office of the Public Defender. John “Smitty” Smith worked for the state downtown, and we would play Chess during lunch hour. Years later Chess tables were put in the park, which had a different name. I had to travel to Grady hospital to participate in a memory study in my sixties and walked around our old stompin’ grounds, surprised to see one of those really large Chess sets, in addition to the usual size tables, which were full of players.

Mad Dog was my friend. We did things (he was then divorced) like get together after work at a bar called “The Beer Slug,” which was actually named The Beer Mug. The Slug provided free wings and held things like trivia night. One time a legendary Chess player was with us and we were leading with only one question left to answer. We were having trouble coming up with the answer because they were distracted by two pretty young women. I was racking my brain to no avail when I had to hit the head. “I’ll be back in a moment guys, so do not answer until I return.” They agreed, all smiles as they turned back to the pretty girls. I had a “eureka” moment while whizzing and returned with the correct answer, only to learn they had already turned in our answer, which had been provided by one of the girls. Unfortunately, it was WRONG! I will admit being a prick about it, but, what the hell, I thought later, these two guys, not exactly ladies men, were having the time of their lives…One time the three of us went to a tennis court to hit the ball around, or so I thought. The legendary one and I were attempting to warm up, but the Mad Dog would have none of it. “Let’s PLAY!” he yelled. “Don’t you want to warm up, Mad Dog?” asked the legendary one. “Hell no. Let’s PLAY!” Mad Dog served and I hit a wicked return that caused him to move quickly and…he went down like he had been SHOT! He was crumpled up on the court, writhing in pain. That ended our evening of tennis…Mad Dog was tuff, though, as he refused going to the emergency room. I spent the night on his couch in case he needed help later…

Mad Dog and I would discuss all kinds of different subjects, but the one I recall most vividly is the time he discussed his Jewishness. When he told me his grandparents had been in Nazi concentration camps and had the serial numbers on their bodies to prove it, I was SHOCKED! I mean, it’s one thing to read about such things, but to know someone descended from concentration camp survivors is another thing entirely. The words to a Dylan song came immediately to mind:

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side

The Dog became interested in Bob Dylan

rather late, relatively speaking, but when he did, he almost became a Bob Cat. He may have liked to quit his job and travel with the Bob Cats, but the Dog limited his shows to a reasonable number. He knew I had been a fan since early teenage years and, after he became a fan, thought more of me. The Dog asked me to drive him to a Dylan concert in Bristol, Virginia. The venue turned out to be what looked like some medieval castle, which we thought was appropriate, but which was a local school of some sort. The Dog had gotten involved with other “Bob Cats” online, with whom he hooked up, having the time of his life. I, on the other hand, was under the weather, but nevertheless made the best of the situation, and have wonderful memories for proof.

The last time I saw Mad Dog we were at the 350 Pizza joint across from the House of Pain, which was the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, for those of you who are unaware. His father had passed away and the Mad Dog was attempting to inform me that since his father had died, he was now the man of the family. “It’s a Jewish thing,” I recall him saying. He was telling me this life was over and a new one beginning. I told him I understood, though the legendary one never got his mind wrapped around that fact. Mad Dog enriched my life, and I am a better person for having known him. People come and go throughout one’s life, but sometimes the memory lingers…

In an interview promoting his new book,

David Cay Johnston

was asked about support of the Trumpster by Joy Reid,

“Why aren’t those numbers getting worse. They seem to have stayed exactly the same.” She was talking about the mid-thirty percent where his support seems to hover.

“Well Joy, as we begin season two of Trump: The White House Reality Show, we are getting a very good measure that there is a segment of the populace who are going to support Donald Trump no matter what… I mean if the worst possible thing could happen, if Robert Mueller

proves Donald Trump is a traitor, you’re going to see a segment of the population supporting him for an entirely different reason. Unfortunately there are people in this country who hate the civil rights movement and those people are going to be with Donald till the end of his life.”

Adolph Hitler

had about the same kind of support when he became leader of Germany as the Trumpster has now. Hitler never had a majority of the people behind him, and neither does the TrumPet. His support emanates from a little above one third of the people of the United States of America. Do not forget THREE MILLION MORE Americans voted for Hillary Clinton

than voted for the Trumpster. If EVERY VOTE COUNTED in our country Donald Trump would NOT BE PRESIDENT! If every voted counted in our country, George Dubya Bushwhacker

would not have become POTUS! A war was fought in this country in the 1860’s to decide whether we would be ONE COUNTRY or FIFTY STATES. Why is it that some, if not most, of those states are “not in play.” If you happen to live in a “red” state, such as Georgia, it matters not for whom you vote. Why vote? This will change only when young people become mad as hell and decide to not take it anymore. Now is the time, but where is the outrage?

Donald poppinJay Trump

is a Republican, or as I think of them, RepublicaNazi. The RepublicaNazi party spawned poppinJay, just as they have accepted “Nazi-avowing Holocaust-denier Arthur Jones

who is running unopposed in the March 20 Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District.” (

There is a reason this man is running as a Republican. Unfortunately, he is not alone.

All The White Supremacists Running For Office In 2018

Plus candidates who’ve said white supremacist things, hung out with white supremacists, or talked to anti-Semitic publications.

By Christopher Mathias

The leader of any country sets the tone. One does not need a weatherman to know which way the RepublicaNazi wind is blowing.

When young there were so-called, “liberal” Republicans. Now there are no longer even any “moderate” Republicans. The party has become the RepublicaNazi party. You are either, as we say in the South, “With ’em,” or “Against ’em.” I want the world to know I stand with the latter group. The RepublicaNazi’s need to be eradicated like the German Nazi’s were during the second world war.

‘Year One’: A visual reflection of the first year of the Trump presidency

Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures

A gathering of hundreds of white nationalists in Virginia took a deadly turn when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters and killed one person on Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. The state’s governor blamed neo-Nazis for sparking the unrest in the college town of Charlottesville, where rival groups fought pitched battles using rocks and pepper spray after far-right protesters converged to demonstrate against a plan to remove a statue of a Confederate war hero. The violence was the latest clash between white supremacists – some of whom have claimed allegiance to Donald Trump – and the president’s opponents since his January inauguration. (Photograph by Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures)

Team Tal: A Review

Tal. Simply say “Tal” around any Chess player, or in any gathering of Chess players, and the response is magical. To those of us in the Chess community “Tal” is the definition of sui generis. “Tal played a kind of chess that nobody could understand at the time. Now that theory has taken a big step forward, and we have chess engines, we’re starting to realize that he was playing 21st-century chess.” – Grandmaster Alexei Shirov.

Valentin Kirillov,

Tal’s childhood friend, and his second from 1968 through 1976, has done the Chess world a HUGE service by lovingly writing about the Magician from Riga. Alexi Shirov writes in the introduction, “It’s a pity that my idea to ask Kirillov to write a book with his memories came a little too late-when he was already in poor health. Yet he has still created a new portrait of Tal (and his Latvian contemporaries)-a portrait as WE knew him.”

The author writes, “After we got our hands on our first records, which were extraordinarily hard to find in those days, music became a permanent fixture at the Tal residence. I distinctly remember my first exposure to rock and roll. Bill Haley’s raging Rock Around the Clock, which we played until the vinyl wore out, absolutely knocked my socks off.”

The author turned to writing about Chess.

“In those days, articles and reports on chess in the press tended to be academic and rather dry, which didn’t appeal to the millions of club players out there. I wanted to make my pieces a bit more accessible and lively, and crack a few jokes along the way-my editors were always there to keep me in check, though. If one argues that chess isn’t merely a science, but an art and a sport as well, then what’s stopping journalists from drawing upon the models, analogies, and comparisons made in literature, music, sports, and the circus? Using the knowledge and skill set I possessed, I tried to give my tales a certain flair.”

With this book the author has accomplished his mission. He succeeds by writing about the game Tal vs Bronstein

from the 1970 USSR Championship in hockey terms! Simply amazing…The more I read the more I came to admire the author. For example, here is what he writes about a man who was a colonel in the KGB, director of the Central Chess Club in Moscow, and vice president of the USSR Chess Federation.

“Viktor Baturinsky,

the big chess boss in the USSR, urged me to cut my long hippie hair-and asked Misha to make sure I did-before the awards ceremony of the USSR championship, because I was set to go on stage as the USSR champion’s coach. Naturally, I didn’t heed his advice, and the chess boss had to put my gold medal on over the disheveled locks flowing down to my shoulders.”

I am reminded of the time I lost a speed game horribly to Baturinsky at the FIDE congress in Atlanta in 1980. “You Americans cannot play Chess,” he said. I turned and walked away. “Set them up!” he shouted. I turned to look at him. He was LIVID! Granted, it was customary for the loser to replace the pieces, but the man had insulted me, and all American Chess players. I returned to the board and politely suggested he have sex with himself, at which point he lost it completely, and EXPLODED, as I turned and again walked away…

Team Tal: An Inside Story,

is replete with wonderful stories about Misha Tal, and his family, friends, and supporters; his team. Once begun, it could not put down. The book contains only two games so if you are looking for a book about the Chess played by Tal this is not it. If you want to read about the man who played that fantastical Chess, this book is for you! The book is filled with pictures of Tal and those who were involved in his life. In addition, there are many illustrations which are quite fascinating.

On his blog recently GM Kevin Spraggett

mentioned one of his favourite chess blogs, ‘Lost on Time’ ( so I clicked on the link provided and discovered the editor, Justin Horton, had posted this concerning the Tal book:

Tal order

There was a series on the old blog, Bad Book Covers. I came across this yesterday, and had it been out back then, it would have been on it. (


I recall Senior Master Brian McCarthy showing an old Informant that had seen so much action it no longer had a cover.
When someone questioned Brian about it he responded, “That don’t matter…It’s still got the MEAT!”

As Bob Dylan sang, “Don’t let other people get your kicks for you.” Judge the cover for yourself. I happen to like the cover and think it fits the “meat.”

The book also contains stories about fellow Latvian players such as Janis Klovans,

and Alvis Vitolins, and the man Tal dubbed, the Maestro, Alexander Koblencs. “Contemporary chess history knows numerous examples of successful creative partnerships, like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Spassky -Bondarevsky, Karpov-Furman, and Kasparov-Nikitin are perhaps the most famous ones. As for Tal and Koblencs, we have two Don Quixotes on our hands.”

“He (Tal) had his favorites, for whom he had the greatest warmth and the utmost respect. He adored Vladimir Simagin, a true knight on the chess battlefield. “That man was on a constant quest; he was the Don Quixote of chess,” Tal said.

“When he came onto the scene, classical chess, as dry as the desert, was king. Everyone was all prim and proper. It felt like the Party and the government had instructed people to play balanced, strategic chess, from the opening to the endgame. Then suddenly, a real troublemaker-but he wasn’t just a troublemaker, for he added a ton to the game!-shows up and starts muddying the waters and making waves. He was like a gushing spring!” Boris Spassky said.

High praise, indeed.

Mikhail Tal could be recalcitrant.

“The Soviet authorities would say that anybody who didn’t agree with the prevailing ideology was a “nonconformist.” It goes without saying that Tal’s playing style was nonconformist.”

Sic transit Gloria mundi!’ (thus passes the glory of the world) Misha once joked after he was removed from his position as chief editor at Shas for organizing a real blowout of an office party on International Women’s Day, flouting the government’s anti-alcohol laws yet again.”

Another time, somebody asked him, “are you a morphinist?” He answered, “you’ve got it all wrong, I’m a Chigorinist…but Morphy was great, too.”

I, too, am a Chigorinist, having fallen in awe the first time I played over his 1893 match with Sigbert Tarrash, which is my all time favorite Chess match.

“We went to the movies a few times, too. I remember the new James Bond, Goldfinger,

and an erotic movie (they were taboo in the USSR!) about a passionate love affair between a woman guard and a prisoner at a concentration camp. We showed up a tad late, and when the lights came on at the end, we discovered that nearly our whole delegation was sitting there in the half-empty theater.”

A case could be made that after Bobby Fischer

defeated World Chess Champion Boris Spassky

in 1972 the best player still playing when Bobby stopped playing was Mikhail Tal.

“Although no records in professional chess could prove it, experts, journalists, and regular fans would probably characterize Tal’s achievements from 1972 through 1974 as record-breaking. I’ll let you be the judge- Tal did not suffer a single defeat from July 1972 through April 1973; six months later, he kicked off an even more remarkable streak of 96 games without a single loss (October 1973-October 1974), winning or sharing first place at six international tournaments. He won 72 games, yet drew 110 during both streaks combined…”

Possibly the most poignant part of the book concerns what happened to Mikhail’s possessions. Much is written about attempts to have a museum dedicated to Mikhail Tal in his old apartment.

“As per the Tal family’s instructions, our cargo was handed over directly to Ratko Knezevic at the Hussar of Riga Club-which had just opened its doors on the sixth floor of the Minsk Hotel to celebrate what would have been Mikhail Tal’s 60th birthday. Botvinnik and Karpov’s stories about Misha, Smyslov’s singing (he gave me a CD with his renditions of Russian romances on it), and Ivanchuk, who won the blitz tournament, reciting his own poems into the night were the highlights of the opening ceremony for me. By the way, the blitz competition winners received bags of candy instead of prize money at the tourney! I don’t know how his memorabilia then wound up in Elista.”

What are Tal’s treasured possessions doing in Elista?

“When Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

came to Riga to discuss plans to construct a knight-shaped, high -rise hotel, he even promised to share Tal’s memorabilia, which is now stuck in Elista.”

“There will be a chess club, tournament hall, and museum in the hotel,” the FIDE president said. He painted a beautiful picture, but a few years have passed, and there aren’t any knights towering over the Daugava River.”

Kirsan, if you have not taken Tal’s possessions to Zeta Reticuli please return them to Riga and the Latvians, where they belong!!!

The Drumbeats of War are Growing Louder

‘The Military Has Seen the Writing on the Wall’

The United States is preparing for a war with North Korea that it hopes never to have to fight, says Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Uri Friedman Jan 28, 2018

When Senator Tammy Duckworth returned from a recent trip to South Korea and Japan, she brought back a sobering message: “Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula.” In a speech at Georgetown University, she laid out the U.S. military maneuvers over the past several months—including a nuclear-powered submarine heading to South Korea, the movement of three aircraft carriers to the Western Pacific, and the Army testing out “mobilization centers” for deploying troops and training soldiers to fight in tunnels like those beneath North Korea—that inform this worry. In an interview with me, she said the U.S. military seems to be operating with the attitude that a conflict “‘will probably happen, and we better be ready to go.’”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who lost her legs during the Iraq War when insurgents downed her helicopter, took the trip along with Ruben Gallego, a Democratic congressman from Arizona and a fellow Iraq War veteran, earlier this month. The two met with top South Korean and Japanese diplomats and defense officials as well as commanders of U.S. forces in South Korea. Duckworth said that she found “all three of the major military actors—American, Korean, and Japanese—…more ready [for war] than they’ve ever been.”

The drums of war are not booming; there have been no major U.S. military movements or public-messaging campaigns by the Trump administration or new advisories to American civilians or companies, for instance. And Duckworth thinks there are ways the country should be more prepared—in particular that Congress should create a dedicated stream of funding for U.S. forces to rehearse and carry out evacuations of non-combatants in the event of a conflict.

But, as Duckworth sees it, the drumbeats are growing louder—even as the administration has stayed comparatively silent about what war would look like and whether the benefits would warrant the costs.

“We have some great plans should, as we say, ‘the balloon go up’ in Korea,” Gallego, a former Marine, told me. “I know what happens with plans when the first bullet goes flying. … What I fear is that someone like Donald Trump

will look at these great plans, look at our great military, which it is, look at their great capability, which we have, and not understand that these are not superhumans—that if we do something wrong, we will potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people, including some of our own troops, and potentially disrupt a good portion of the world’s economy for years to come.” And that’s considering only the early stages of battle and assuming the conflict doesn’t go nuclear.

“You’re basing policy and military action on hopes instead of on reality and sound reasoning,” Gallego said. “Does this sound familiar? For me it does, as somebody who ended up serving on the front lines of the Iraq War, where I was supposed to be greeted as a liberator. Instead I basically got shot at every day.”

Robert Neller, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, acknowledged the limitations of military plans during an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday. “If [a U.S. conflict with North Korea] were to go down, I’m not now so sure it’s going to go down the way we planned. It never does,” he said.

As the World War I historian Margaret MacMillan told me not long ago, “Once you get into a countdown situation, once people begin to think of war as likely, then it becomes that much more likely”—whether as a result of deliberate decisions, tragic miscalculation, or mere mistake.

Masters Of War

Written by: Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war

You that build all the guns

You that build the death planes

You that build the big bombs

You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’

But build to destroy

You play with my world

Like it’s your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther

When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won

You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water

That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you set back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people’s blood

Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear

That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatening my baby

Unborn and unnamed

You ain’t worth the blood

That runs in your veins

How much do I know

To talk out of turn

You might say that I’m young

You might say I’m unlearned

But there’s one thing I know

Though I’m younger than you

Even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good

Will it buy you forgiveness

Do you think that it could

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made

Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die

And your death’ll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I’ll watch while you’re lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I’ll stand o’er your grave

’Til I’m sure that you’re dead


© 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

Only a Pawn in the Game

“My father taught us not to be a pawn in God’s game,” Patti Smith told Andy Warhol’s Interview in 1973. “He used to blaspheme and swear against God, putting him down. I got that side of me from him. The religious part I guess is from my mother, who is a complete religious fanatic.” Patti Smith

“The there are some who just stay with the tour, all the way, day after day, show after show. I’ve met a few and have to say some of them remind me of the Chess players I’ve seen in Harvard Square, playing Chess all day long, decade after decade. You wonder how Dylan feels about those ones.” – Richard F. Thomas, the George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics at Harvard University

Donald Trump Is an “Idiot” and a “Liar”

The headline reads:

Donald Trump Is an “Idiot” and a “Liar,” Americans Say in New Poll

That was yesterday. It has gotten worse, much worse…

When Putin’s TrumPet won the election most sane Americans had a reaction similar to this:

As time went on and the Trumpster continued acting insane the reaction changed to something like this:

And this:

That is the Presidential motorcade with the anything but Presidential POTUS, to whom the woman on the bike is giving the finger, speaking truth to power in her own way.

More people are now feeling free to express themselves:

Even youngsters and little children:

Today the USA Today newspaper came out with an editorial titled:

Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?

In which it is written: “A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes: Our view”

“But even the President of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked”