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Pity Poor Richard’s Pennsylvania Gazette

Pity the Pennsylvania Gazette. It has been one step forward and two steps back. Normally an alumni publication such as this one serves as a proud showcase for what is going on at the University. There will be an editor’s page pumping up the contents to the publication. The President will have a column about whatever the President wants to write about. There will be news blurbs about what professors and sometimes students have accomplished along with notices of changes due to constructions and comings and goings in the administration and departments. Naturally, there will be sports coverage. Finally the accomplishments of alumns will be recognized in some way along with those who have passed away.


Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize this year for the research they have done that lead to the development of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. They have been the subject of previous blogs (If Journals Were Online, There Would be No Vaccine, January 3, 2022). It still strikes me as extraordinary that the collaboration grew out of a chance meeting at a copy machine many years ago. Now with all the advances which have occurred to say nothing of remote work, who is to say how many chance meetings at the office water cooler no longer happen. We are indeed fortunate that it did.

Obviously this development is one that the Pennsylvania Gazette can take pride in. Look at us. Look at what a great university we are. Look at how two of our own saved the lives of millions.


One would think at first glance that having a graduate become President of the United States also would be something to brag about. However such is not the case. To the best of my knowledge, he has not returned to his old stomping ground. Nor has he been invited to deliver the commencement address. In fact, one would be hard pressed to document his matriculation at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It is more interesting to know how much did Fred Trump donate to the school if not openly or through one of his companies so his son would be admitted. And who wrote the papers and took the exams for the very stable genius who is the smartest person in the room? We will probably never know the answer to those questions.

So instead of shouting to the rafters about how one of ours became President that connection is scarcely acknowledged. There have been no analytical pieces on his economic or financial actions from the relevant Wharton professors and nothing from political science or the law school about his actions either. It is as if he doesn’t exist. The alumni magazine is supposed to be about the positive achievements of graduates and not about how many times one has been impeached or indicted or otherwise wreaked havoc with social fabric of the country. The history department takes a leadership role in study of early American history but has not taken one in how Trump threatens to destroy what has been achieved.

It is hard to imagine a school not taking pride in one of its own becoming President but that is exactly what has happened.


When a college president makes the front page of The New York Times either the news is very good or horrendous. On Sunday, December 10, 2023, the college president made the news right next to the article about Shohei Otani signing for $700 million dollars to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Which article would you read first?

The article reports the resignation of the recently arrived college president. It follows four days after an appearance before Congress on the topic of antisemitism on college campuses, specifically, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Regardless of what you think of the USNWR rankings, these institutions represent the elitist schools.

The performance of the three female presidents new to the job went viral. Especially powerful was the questioning of Republican MAGA Elise Stefanik (NY), a once promising real Republican who went over to the dark side on behalf of Orange Jesus. Even Democrats, even liberal Democrats openly acknowledged the withering question posed by Stefanik about calling genocide of Jews as an example of bullying and harassment. Even she was not prepared for the tightly-wound lawyerly answers of the three once shining lights of their colleges. Those exchanges will take on a life of their own to be repeated and mocked endlessly for the rest of their lives and afterwards.

Since that time there have been behind-the scenes exposes on what was happening at the University of Pennsylvania. Apparently she was on somewhat shaky ground even prior to the showdown at the Capital.


Unlike The New York Times, The Pennsylvania Gazette has no such obligation to print all the news that’s fit to print about the college. The virtual absence of Donald Trump from its pages evidences that policy. However it is much easier to avoid dealing with the President of the United States then it is with the President of the University. It is difficult to see how the Gazette can ignore this story in its next issue but also hard to see how it will cover it. Investigative reporting is not its strong suit.

My guess is that the Gazette will outsource the reporting to professors. Fortunately by the time of the publication of the next issue, the resignation will already be yesterday’s news. Instead the focus will be on a search for a replacement. One may anticipate that each applicant will get the Stefanik question as a test of their ability to handle a crisis under fire. We will have to wait and see both as to how the next college president is chosen and how the official magazine chooses to report the news.

Live Like the Donald Economic Recovery Acts

To succeed, chose your parents well (

The “Live Like the Donald Economic Recovery Acts” are designed to provide every adult American citizen the opportunity to be a successful self-made person just like the current President of the United States. Results are not guaranteed.

The specific measures listed below have a proven record of success. They worked in the case of the present President and they can work for you. All we need is a courageous leader to make the “Live Like the Donald Economic Recovery Acts” a campaign issue for the 2020 elections. The challenge will be to see which candidate claims ownership first. You can’t argue with the success.

So what are the recovery items which need to be made into law?


The Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit Act will do exactly what its name states. Every adult American citizen who registers for the Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit will receive a $413 million dollar line of credit. There is no registration fee. There is no interest charge. There is no payback required. Instead there is a $413 million line of credit that any registered adult American citizen can use for business purposes.

Please note, this is a line of credit and not a cash payment. Participants must lose the money in a business endeavor before any funds will be disbursed. For example, suppose the applicant loses $100,000 in a restaurant or any small business operation you can think of. Normally a debt of this magnitude would concern the business owner. But not now because this debtor is a registered participant in the Fred Trump $413 million line of credit act.

To draw on the line of credit is simple. The participant simply goes to the bank or financial organization to which one is in debt, presents the Fred Trump Double 0 License to Borrow card and that debt will be taken care of. The financial officer runs the Fred Trump card through the Fred Trump database. Once it is confirmed that the borrower is a registered participant who has not yet drawn the entire $413 million line of credit, the funds are transferred, the debt is paid off, and the line of credit is reduced accordingly.

These funds can only be used to pay off debts to legitimate financial institutions who hold title to the applicants. The credit line cannot be for loans from family, friends, or the Russian mob. They must be legitimate business expenses.

The Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit Act will spur business. Suppose you now want to try your hand at a $1,000,000 restaurant. Would the bank lend you the money? Sure! After checking that you still have $412,900,000 left on your line of credit, lending you the money is no risk. So when you lose the $1,000,000, again there is no problem. How many restaurants would you have to own to lose $413,000,000? It is not easy to lose that much money. It can be done though. We have a successful self-made man who is the biggest individual financial loser in American history. Now you can be successful too…and without having to pay money to Trump University to learn the secret to success. All you have to is enroll.


What about personal debt? What about debt for car loans, student loans, home loans, or credit cards? These debts are not covered under the Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit. Instead with the Donald Trump Debt Cancellation Act, you can do just what THE DONALD did: walk away from the loan. I don’t know how many times he did this or what amount in total is. Once those numbers are determined they will be built into the legislation the same way the $413 million was into the business line of credit.

This act also will be open to all adult Americans for no fee. By registering under this act, adult Americans will be able to cancel debts to schools, credit card companies, or financial institutions (banks) just as THE DONALD did. Care may be needed to determine which loans should be cancelled depending on what the limits are.


People often are concerned about losing their jobs even in good times. This act does not address losing one’s job because a business went out of business. With the Fred Trump $413 Million Line of Credit Act, no business should go out of business anyway. This act has to do with firing people for cause. This act is for people who are fired for poor job performance or for harassing someone on the job. All that would cease with the application of the Donald Trump Employment Security Act because you can no longer be fired for cause. No matter how inept you are, no matter how incompetent you are, no matter how many people you have groped or harassed, you can’t be fired. This is providing you are adult American citizen registered for no fee under this act.

For example, suppose you are in charge of a project and say everything is under control, everything is fine, when in fact, they are not. Nothing can be done now no matter how inept and incompetent you are because you are protected.

Suppose you tell your boss there are 15 problems on the project but in a day or two they will go down to zero and instead there are over 40,000 problems and counting. No problem. You are registered under the Donald Trump Employment Security Act. You can’t be fired. Amazingly, some people will even praise you for doing a good job worthy of a 10!

Thanks to this act no one will ever be fired again for cause even if they are dumber than a dead pet rock and as inept and incompetent as is humanly possible.


Normally colleges brag when one of their own lands an exalted job like becoming President of the United States. That hasn’t happened so much with the University of Pennsylvania and its renowned Wharton School. Quite the contrary. It almost seems as if it is ashamed that someone so ignorant and lacking in economic knowledge graduated from it.

The question to be asked is how did a person who can’t read a book and who writes at the elementary school level get into Wharton in the first place. For the father to pay the tuition is common. But the question is how much did Fred Trump have to pay to get his son accepted? Obviously, the University of Pennsylvania will never disclose that information nor should it. Obviously also the father never told the son how much he paid either. The answer is probably in either the tax returns of Fred Trump as a donation or in the business records of the Trump Organization as an expense. Of course, even if the amount the father had to pay to get his son in is revealed, that still raises the question of how the son managed to stay in. After all, he is not a very stable genius and practically everyone in the room is smarter than he is unless he is at a morgue or a nursery school with no adults present.

But suppose you don’t have a rich father or mother. And suppose you actually have the credentials and intelligence to qualify on merit to matriculate but can’t for financial reasons. Then what? Under the Fred Trump College Education Act, public college including community college would be free to all qualifying students. This means if you are an adult American and registered in the program and do not require remedial classes to do college level work, you can attend for free the community college in your community or the public college in your state.

The Fred Trump College Education Act does not apply to private schools. If you do not want to use the public swimming pools and prefer a private club instead, you do so on your money and not the taxpayers. If you do not want to use the public tennis courts and prefer a private club instead, you do so on your own money and not the taxpayers. If you do not want to use the public schools and prefer a private school instead, you do so on your own money and not the taxpayers. Everyone knows how important college is to having a successful life provided you are free of student loans. The Fred Trump College Education Act will give all qualifying Americans a chance at a public school college education in their community or state.

In conclusion, the Live Like The Donald Economic Recovery Acts will provide all Americans with the opportunity to live successful lives as self-made people just as they did for THE DONALD even if you don’t have a rich father. We also need to increase our funding for special education so people like Donald Trump can qualify for college on merit.


P.S. The Donald Trump Above the Law Act will give every adult American citizen who registers the right to ignore subpoenas or other legal actions. Why should the President of the United States be the only one who is above law? Individuals will never have to be worried about being sued again.

“Fellow Americans” versus “Tribal Rivalries”: Whither America?

Band of Brothers John McCain and Ted Kennedy, Died August 28, 9 Years Apart, of Brain Cancer (Jim Watson, Getty Images)

America has always been a diverse country. America has always been a country of multiple ethnicities, multiple races, and multiple religions. The individual peoples have changed over time. Generally the number increases, but we have always been a country of numerous different peoples. Yet we also are the country of We the People, the opening words on the document that constitutes us a nation. How can we be both?

When I was growing up, there were the three “I’s” in New York City mayoral elections – the Irish, the Italians, and Israel meaning the Jews. Candidates needed to show deference and pay homage to each of the groups. Whether they did so out of any ecumenical belief or the hard reality of practical politics is another matter. Still there were these three groups. Intermarriage then was an Italian-Irish marriage even though both people were white Catholics.

Yes, there were blacks in New York City then, too. They did not have a specific homeland beyond the continent of Africa. As a result, there was no country for a candidate to visit. Instead they trekked to Harlem, the cultural capital of middle-passage blacks since the 1920s and the Great Migration.

Of course, as West Side Story reminds us, these groupings were about to increase by one.

David Hackett Fischer

On an academic level, I became more aware of the diversity of the United States through Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer. As the title indicates, the book divides the English or British into four distinct groups of folkways. He identified them as:

The Puritans who famously settled in Massachusetts and the surrounding areas
The Quakers who tended to be limited to one colony, Pennsylvania
The Cavaliers who started in Virginia but spread to other southern colonies
The Scotch-Irish who tended to be located in the border lands, the back country or fringe areas.

So rather than view the people from Great Britain monolithically, one should understand them as four distinct peoples or folkways.

These folkways brought their lifestyle with them when they emigrated to the colonies. Fischer lists various characteristics by which he defines each folkway in the area of Great Britain where they lived. Then he traces each characteristic or its equivalent to the life they created when they arrived here. In general terms, Fischer finds they each folkway transplanted their way of life from the old world to the new. Thus to claim that the English settled America obscures the reality of the situation – four different peoples settled here.

Fischer continues the story beyond the colonial era. He tracks the migrations of these peoples across the United States as it expanded westward. Most famously are the New Englanders who became Yorkers around the time of the Erie Canal. They kept moving west across the northern portion of the country. Their distinctive trait was doing something they already had done in the 1600s in New England – start a college.

He concludes by identifying the folkway to which the individual American presidents belonged. The early domination of the Cavaliers (Virginians) and New Englanders (Adams father and son) are obvious. Today we have no appreciation for the significance of the election of Andrews Jackson, the first of many Scotch-Irish presidents. Now he is just a dead white male; back then he was our first diverse president.

Overtime, it became harder and harder to assign a folkway to an individual president. The complication was due to intermarriage. I am referring not only to intermarriage among these four groups but with other groups. Consider the situation just in New York where I live. In addition to the British folkways there were Dutch, French Huguenots, German Palatines, and Sephardic Jews (actually the Bronx was named after a Swede who married a Dutch woman and this explains why in Sweden there is a Yankee aka Bronx Bombers following). In time there would be Dutch and German presidents often with a connection in biology or spirit to an English folkway.

Returning to the New York, there were another group of people who often have been overlooked. Irish William Johnson was the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs. In the course of his work, he dealt not only with various European peoples noted above, he dealt with various Indian nations as well. At that time, Algonquin, Haudenosaunee, and Lenape were not all just one indigenous people. For that matter, neither were the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, Oneida, and Tuscarora all just one people. Imagine lumping Koreans, Vietnamese, and Chinese together as one people today! Johnson is an unsung figure in America history who engaged the diversity of the peoples here more so than any other individual in the 18th century.

Colin Woodard

Recently, Colin Woodard, has continued this line of thought. He is the author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. As the title suggests, his purview extends beyond the four folkways analyzed by Fischer. Woodard certainly is aware of Fischer’s work and he has expanded on to reflect the greater diversity which exists today. On July 30, in an opinion piece for the New York Times, “The Maps That Show That City vs. Country Is Not Our Political Fault Line: The key difference is among regional cultures tracing back to the nation’s colonization,” Woodard applied his template to the recent presidential election.

[O]ur true regional fissures can be traced back to the contrasting ideals of the distinct European colonial cultures that first took root on the eastern and southern rims of what is now the United States, and then spread across much of the continent in mutually exclusive settlement bands, laying down the institutions, symbols and cultural norms later arrivals would encounter and, by and large, assimilate into.

In other words, New York is still a commercial city (thank you Dutch) and Boston is still a college city thank you Puritans).

His analysis tracks 11 different groups.

Tracing our history, I’ve identified 11 nations, most corresponding to one of the rival European colonial projects and their respective settlement zones. I call them Yankeedom; New Netherland; the Midlands; Tidewater; Greater Appalachia; Deep South; El Norte; the Left Coast; the Far West; New France; and First Nation. These were the dominant cultures that Native Americans, African-Americans, immigrants and other vital actors in our national story confronted; each had its own ideals, assumptions and intents.

Woodard’s 11 regions

Through a series of colorful maps, Woodard then compares the vote percentages from 2016 to these cultural demographics. His explanation for the stark differences he finds in each of their choice of presidential candidates is:

Why the differences? I’ve long argued that United States politics resolves around the tension between advancing individual liberty and promoting the common good. The regional cultures we think of as “blue” today have traditions championing the building and maintenance of free communities, today’s “red” ones on maximizing individual freedom of action. Our presidential contests almost always present a clear choice between the two, and the regions act accordingly.

Take a simple and well-known example not in the article: healthcare. The “individual freedom of action” or “don’t tread on me” faction despises being told what to do and having no choice about it. Whether a law is in their best interest is secondary to whether it is being imposed on them by condescending arrogant self-righteous elitists or not (the 2010 election). And why should the Democrats try reasoning with such people in the first place? As Junior Trump said, they are not even people. Oh wait. He was talking about the Democrats. How can there be “come let us reason together” when neither side can acknowledge the humanity of the other?

University of Pennsylvania

In the commencement address this year at the University of Pennsylvania, college president Any Gutmann said:

The great seal of the United States reads E Pluribus Unum: From Many, One. Graduates, during you time here, you have come to know the Red and Blue version we hold so dear: E Pennibus Unum: From many Penn People, One Penn Family…

Putting aside the boosterism for a moment, she defined that unity as:

Liberty not chains, opportunity without limit, love without condition, and learning without end.

She certainly is right to note the college experience as a bonding experience for those who can afford Ivy League colleges. On a cheaper scale, being part of a band of brothers also can bring people together. The new exhibit “Comeback Season: Sports after 9/11” at the 9/11 Memorial addresses the same point. Richard Sandomir in “As America Grieved, Sports Helped Console Us” (NYT 8/10/18, print) recently wrote about the exhibit:

Sports may not always seem important ─ they’re just games, aren’t they? ─ but they are tribal events that unify people in large communal settings for a common purpose.

Remember when all Americans including those in Jersey City chanted “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

In contrast to Gutmann, an Iranian Jewish immigrant Penn alum who has embraced being an American citizen offered a more emotionally intense perception of E Pluribus Unum then she finds at Penn, Harvard, Yale and Princeton:

[W]e lovers of America want to conserve the Constitution with its entire Bill or Rights intact. We don’t believe in multiculturalism because we believe that “America” is the name of the one culture of this country…it’s a culture with many languages and cuisines and clothing and religion and music [FOLKWAYS]…a culture that all of us from varying backgrounds embrace and love with all our hearts. It is the culture of freedom. That’s the only culture I feel a part of right down to my bones. E Pluribus Unum ─ out of many, one ─ is printed on our coins. Out of many peoples, we form one culture as Americans.

Right now the Democrats and the Republicans are in agreement in rejecting these words. One party slices and dices the American people into as many hyphens as it cans with the intent of cobbling together a winning coalition. The other party relies on one big hyphen that actually combines multiple folkways but only with one race. No candidate or prospective candidate champions the E Pluribus Unum mantra.

So whither America? A nation of “Fellow Americans” or a nation of tribal rivalries? We know where John McCain stood. But he is dead and there is no one now to pick up the torch.

Band of Brothers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Died July 4, 1826 (Wikimedia Commons)