Saturday: Hili dialogue

Well, I’d say “good morning” but it’s not so good, for it’s January 21, 2017, the first full day of Donald Trump’s Presidency. And now I find myself worrying—way too far in advance—that he might even get reelected!  What if the Democrats can’t field a decent candidate in 2020? I have received all sorts of despondent emails from friends, but one reader also sent me a photo of a lovely California sunset, adding “our world is still a beautiful place.”I would like to think so, but there are certain folks without whom it would be more beautiful.

Trump is losing no time taking out petty revenge on people, as well as starting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. (Did you hear his divisive Inaugural Address?). His latest antic, according to Gizmodo (h/t: reader Bryan) is to punish the National Park Service (NPS) for retweeting items that could be construed as anti-Trump. Here are the two original tweets; the first is from the Washington correspondent for the New York Times:

I mentioned this issue yesterday; the tweet comes from landscape architect Anne Trumble:

Both of these were retweeted by the National Park Service yesterday at about 4:340 pm, but before that happened the retweets were noticed by Mr. Applebaum:

These have been removed by the NPS, but, as Gizmodo reports, “the NPS has been ordered by its Washington support office to ‘immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice,’ according to an internal email obtained by Gizmodo.

Apparently because of these retweets, which could have been an accident, the NPS has been ordered to cease tweeting, with its employees receiving the following email yesterday


We have received direction from the Department through [the Washington Support Office] that directs all [Department of Interior] bureaus to immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice.

PWR parks that use Twitter as part of their crisis communications plans need to alter their contingency plans to accommodate this requirement. Please ensure all scheduled posts are deleted and automated cross-platform social media connections to your twitter accounts are severed. The expectation is that there will be absolutely no posts to Twitter.

In summary, this Twitter stand down means we will cease use of Twitter immediately. However, there is no need to suspend or delete government accounts until directed.

This does not affect use of other approved social media platforms. We expect further guidance to come next week and we will share accordingly.

Thanks for your help!

Now perhaps it was unwise for a government department to retweet things like this, but they could have been quietly removed after a private word from the Trump Administration. What we’re seeing here is the petty vindictiveness that will characterize the next four (or eight) years.

Back to our regular message. Today is both National Granola Bar Day and National New England Clam Chowder Day. I have little use for granola bars, which are gradually morphing into candy bars (I predicted this years ago), but New England clam chowder is one of the glories of American cuisine:  far superior to the tomato based “Manhattan clam chowder.” Am I right? In Poland it’s “Grandmother’s Day”; while “Grandfather’s Day” is tomorrow.  On this day in 1954, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the U.S.S. Nautilus (I once went aboard) was launched in Connecticut by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. In 1976, commercial service of the Concorde began (now terminated), and, exactly five years later, the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 car, the only model ever made, was first manufactured in Northern Ireland. (For a while they shut down production, but now the company is said to be producing more.) The DMC-12 was famous for its gull-wing doors:


Notables born on this day include John C. Frémont (1813), Telly Savalas (1922), Jack Nicklaus (1940) and Geena Davis (1956). Those who died on this day include Vladimir Lenin (1924), Lytton Strachey (1932; be sure to read his great books Eminent Victorians and his biography of Queen Victoria), George Orwell (1950 ♥) and Peggy Lee (2002). Here’s a portrait of Strachey by painter Dora Carrington, who was in love with him—a hopeless relationship given that Strachey was gay. She committed suicide with a gun two months after Strachey died of stomach cancer (the movie “Carrington,” starring Emma Thompson, is a good account of their relationship and the Bloomsbury Group:


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is down with a bad cold (as am I), and is also being bothered by Hili as he tries to write on Listy:

Hili: We work together well.
A: Yes, for the moment, but stay off my lap.
In Polish:
Hili: Mamy dobrą współpracę.
Ja: W tej chwili tak, ale nie wchodź mi na kolana.


  1. rickflick
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I read George Will’s column in the Washington Post(for balance). This is the first time he and I agree. His title: A most dreadful inaugural address.

    I’m surprised Hili had nothing to say after being rebuked.

  2. Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I despise Trump and his administration and chuckle the photos comparing the inauguration crowds. Their crowds were undoubtedly smaller but it would be simple to take an especially unflattering photo showing a small crowd early in the morning. I don’t want to give them the benefit of the doubt but I wonder when the photo was taken. Regarding suspending the twitter accounts of all DIH bureaus I have mixed feelings. No head of an organization would want their organizations sending out disparaging comments about them but this isn’t a private company. I have no doubt the Trump team has an Orwellian view of their public image and plan on keeping tight control over it. There’s rumors he’ll drastically limit the number of press conferences and even kick the press corps out of the White House completely. I commend all determined members of the press who try to hold these despots feet to the fire.

  3. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    The DeLorean DMC-12 was a spectacularly terrible automobile.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 4:35 am | Permalink

      Especially above 88mph.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Did you hear his divisive Inaugural Address?

    USA, USA über alles,” is what I heard him chanting.

  5. Dave
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    In what sense was his inaugural address “divisive”? To me, it sounded like an appeal for Americans to unite and work together for the good of the country. I agree that the language was much more overtly nationalistic than we’ve come to expect from a US president, but again I can’t see why anyone should take issue with that. The US president is elected by the people of the USA, and his job is to serve, protect and further the interests of the American people. He isn’t elected to be World President, or to serve anyone other than the people of the USA. In that sense, “Put America First” should be a completely non-controversial position – it’s what he’s elected to do. Likewise, when voting in elections in my own country (the UK), I want a government that will put the interests of the British people first.

    Trump said he wants to repair America’s infrastructure, secure the borders, bring back jobs, improve the education system, fight crime and eradicate Islamic terrorism. Whether he can actually deliver any of these things is another matter, but they all sound like completely admirable objectives to me.

    • Posted January 21, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      He dissed former administrations and proposed Americans work together not for the good of the country, but the good of his agenda. It’s anti-immigrant and can be construed as anti-black. . Have a look at this article

      And no, we don’t just elecct a president to “Put America First,” they are also seen as leaders of the Free World and are expected to enforce general humanitarian policies.

      Don’t bother to reply, I don’t want to argue about this and anybody can read the address for themselves:

      • Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Anti-immigration is not anti-immigrant, and is not divisive. Compare Japan, where a consistent anti-immigration policy has ensured a united country, in contrast to the USA, where decades of uncontrolled mass immigration has created division, which the Democrats have encouraged and exploited in their truly, madly, deeply divisive policy of obsessive racial politics—pigeon-holing everyone and encouraging ethnic and immigrant groups to compete for attention and resources from the government, and meanwhile, through the education system and in public rhetoric, relentlessly encouraging minorities to hate whites and women to hate men. Jesus may or may not have been a real historical person, but one of the wise sayings ascribed to him by the author of the Gospel of Luke is this: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” Also appears in shorter form in Matthew, and is quoted by Abe Lincoln, who was also boycotted by Congress Democrats (more extremely – they seceded) at his inauguration.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I found Trump’s line regarding “the right of all nations to put their own interests first” and promise that “[w]e do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone” to be a chilling signal of change in American outlook. Putin undoubtedly heard it as a nod to pursue his policies in Crimea and the Ukraine, and in Moldova and the Baltics, free from any self-determination or human-rights objections from the US.

      Trump’s repetition of “America first, America first” represented a similar call for US isolationism. That phrase was the rallying cry for isolationists and crypto-fascists in the 1930s, most closely associated with Father Coughlin, Charles Lindbergh, and the old Taft-wing of the Republican party. It’s a phrase Trump began using on the campaign trail once he started taking advice from Steve Bannon (whose fingerprints were all over the inaugural address).

      This was all of a piece with the paeans to our “glorious freedoms” and the general god’s-on-our-side nationalistic fervor of Trump’s speech.

      • Posted January 21, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        “America first” is not synonymous with isolationism. America will not stop doing deals with other countries. Rather, it will put U.S. interests first in the negotiation of those deals (and in its policy generally).

        • Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          From the perspective of the outside, there have been long complaints that (as expected) deals and treaties (NAFTA) *already* do this, so what will change?

          Well: the crucial thing is *which* part of the population, and will a Republican *everything* suddenly become a champion of working and middle class Americans, or will scapegoats and distractions continue?

  6. Harrison
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Already linked this yesterday but I will do so again:

    People saying that climate change and LGBT issues were “scrubbed” or “deleted” or “purged” from the White House website are incorrect. The Obama White House website has been archived in its own domain and the Trump administration is still setting up their own White House website at the old address. This is bad fact checking and bad reporting.

    I don’t expect huge new entries on issues which Trump has shown little interest in, but there’s a clear distinction between what’s actually happening and what’s being reported.

  7. Gabrielle
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I am not a Trump fan in the least, but what the Park Service employee(s) did via a government Tweeter account is prohibited by the Hatch Act
    [see here for more details].

    The relevant point is towards the bottom of the second column:
    “May not use any e-mail account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”

    Comparing a favorable photo of the Obama inauguration to the considerably less favorable one of the Trump inauguration, is likely to be construed as a violation of the Act. If the NPS employee had simply tweeted a photo of the Trump crowd, with a neutral comment such as ‘Everything safe and secure on the Mall’, then that wouldn’t be a violation.

    Someone somewhere would have found the Obama photo and combined it with the Trump photo, to great effect. Probably one of the newspapers, no doubt.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 21, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I agree tweeting the photo was wrong, but the reaction of the Trump administration is ott. To suspend all use of Twitter because of it is ridiculous.

    • Jonathan Livengood
      Posted January 21, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Nonsense. The pictures are factual and relevant to the National Park Service, since the inaugurations happen on NPS grounds, and they were offered without commentary. Does NOAA violate the Hatch Act when it posts facts about droughts, global temperatures, and climate change? Certainly those posts are inconvenient for the Republican Party and perhaps for Trump especially. But that doesn’t make them political advocacy.

      Examples of NOAA posts: on drought (, on global temperatures in December 2016 (, on the rate of arctic warming (, and on significant climate events and anomalies (

      • Posted January 21, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Of course they are political advocacy, and that’s why they were posted. It is another matter that the reaction by the administration was bizarre.

        • Jonathan Livengood
          Posted January 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          Please explain how the tweet from the NPS is political advocacy but the NOAA tweets are not.

          • Gabrielle
            Posted January 21, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            The NOAA tweets are relating facts about the climate. Facts that climate-change deniers won’t like, but facts just the same.

            The NPS re-tweet is a visual comparison of the inauguration of a Democratic president to that of a Republican one, a comparison which is far more favorable to the Democratic party. I maintain that this is political speech, and federal employees on the job, using a government account, are in violation of the Hatch Act if they engage in the distribution of such a photographic comparison.

            I should add that a federal employee, on their own time and using their own electronic accounts, are free to engage in any political activity of their choice.

            • Jonathan Livengood
              Posted January 21, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

              And the NPS tweet was relating facts about an event held on NPS grounds. The facts are unfavorable to the Republicans in both cases, but the mere fact that the facts are unfavorable to the Republicans is no evidence of political advocacy. You can maintain that it’s political speech all you like. But it’s *not* political speech.

    • Posted January 21, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      It looks like the NPS twitter account is back in use (with many more followers).

  8. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    How could the anniversary of the death on this date in 1723 of the atheist Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach'Holbach#Anti-religious_works be overlooked on this site? He is said to have articulated the first avowal of atheism since classical times, and he was a materialist and determinist who denied that humans had free will. He maintained a salon in Paris frequented by the luminaries of the day, especially the Encyclopaedists. Diderot and Rousseau were members, and his salon contributed to the development of the Enlightenment.

  9. Gabrielle
    Posted January 21, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I meant to add the following to my above post, also found in the above link to details of the Hatch Act:

    Employees may not engage in prohibited activities “while the employee is on duty, in any federal room or building, while wearing a uniform or official insignia, or using any federally owned or leased vehicle.”

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      As for suspending government Twitter accounts, now that Trump has been inaugurated, let him set the example.

      • Posted January 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        I think the idea is that Trump would be the only government employee allowed to use Twitter.

  10. Posted January 21, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    “they could have been quietly removed after a private word from the Trump Administration.”

    That wouldn’t have made other government agencies tremble in fear of retribution from dear leader.

  11. Posted January 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I would not bet against his son-in-law or one of his sons running in 8 years.

  12. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    Well this is encouraging:

    A new Tweet by @NatnlParkService:

    We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you
    (picture of a bison trotting in the snow with sun on horizon)

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 22, 2017 at 3:48 am | Permalink


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