Donald Trump will never be president – because he doesn’t want the job

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caricature of Donald Trump
Jason Seiler

Meringue-haired mogul is a carnival barker, not a statesman


Donald Trump is not a serious presidential candidate. He will not be the Republican nominee, because he doesn’t want to be.

No, really.

Sure, he’s been leading the Republican presidential derby in the polls since he bolted out of the gate, and he has utterly dominated the debates. Donald Trump can be found at the top of almost every political news cycle.

That certainly sounds like he is a serious candidate, but if you were to believe it so, you would be wrong. For the Donald Trump candidacy, front-running is not just part of the show, it is the whole point.

And what a show it is. He’s the darling of the mainstream media. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders outpolls Trump and routinely draws larger crowds, but The Donald’s flamboyant style and exuberant, gratuitously offensive manners – which he passes off as a disdain for political correctness – have the corporate news talking heads in his thrall. They actually imagine him as president.

An intimidating presence

If there is one thing Donald Trump loves to do, it is to show others up. And he does it very well. He’s made winning through intimidation a centerpiece of his real-estate and scripted-reality show-business career, and he’s extended the shtick to the national political stage.

Other candidates, stuck in Trump’s long shadow, sometimes try to emulate the master. The “me-too” tactic is usually good only for a laugh or a face-palm.

Consider: Everything that bears the Trump brand is an extension of his ego. His office and residential towers are the most expensive, his golf courses the most challenging, his casinos the glitziest. [Cue the sighs of adulation]

The spotlight follows him. Whatever he does, Donald Trump wants you to know that nobody does it better. And if anybody thinks otherwise, he’ll rub their noses in it.

The tale of Wollman Rink is instructive.

In 1980, New York City closed the famed circa 1949 Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park for a 2½ year renovation project. In typical inept city government fashion, six years elapsed and the work was still far from done.

Enter Donald Trump. He persuaded Mayor Ed Koch to let him finish the job. Trump agreed to pay for the renovations himself, if he was allowed to use profits from the rink, and an adjacent restaurant, to recover his costs. Barely three months later, the rink renewal was done.

As Trump did self-congratulatory pirouettes, City Hall took a pratfall.

Nearly three decades later, the facility is known as the Trump Skating Rink. It is run by his corporate organization and his name is prominently displayed on its walls.

Boss, big-shot and bully

Donald Trump has cultivated an image as a man who gets things done with a messianic wave of his hand, and damn the torpedoes, full-speed ahead!

He is the bull of the woods, a demanding iron-fisted boss who expects the results he wants and will fire anybody at the drop of a hat if they don’t deliver. He is a litigious bully who won’t hesitate to sue anyone who gets in his way. He’s got a hide like a rhinoceros; he cannot be embarrassed and is not only immune to, but energized by, the verbal slings and arrows of his adversaries.

The secret ingredient of Donald Trump”s popularity

In this age of partisan political obstructionism, what’s not to like about a presidential candidate who boldly cuts through the BS?

The answer, quite simply, is that what works giddily well for Donald Trump the tycoon won’t work at all for Donald Trump the president, and he knows it.

Disdain for details

No president, including President Trump, could unilaterally rip out popular, successful Obamacare on the promise to replace it with “something fantastic.” (Donald Trump’s post-election-victory plans tend to be utterly devoid of details.)

When it comes to foreign policy, Donald Trump is hopeless. He doesn’t know the names of the heads of state of other countries, and doesn’t want to. He famously said “They’ll all be changed anyway by the time I’m in office.”

He admits he doesn’t understand the civil war in Syria and says giving that country to the Russians would be just fine. He says he will learn the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah “when it’s appropriate.”

Despite his intimations that a better deal could have been reached with the thump of a fist on the bargaining table, President Trump would have had no patience for the years of painstaking negotiations that led to the complicated nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, a country that is not susceptible to saber-rattling. The deal would not have happened, plain and simple.

His answer to getting a handle on illegal immigration (a political wedge issue which is nowhere near as bad as the headlines suggest)? He bombastically declares “We have to build a wall! … I will make Mexico pay for it!”

But the Great Wall of Texas would be built, on faulty suppositions and a string of myths – not the least of which is that all of our unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico.

He would then deport every unauthorized immigrant he could lay his hands on – some 11.3 million of them, equivalent to the entire population of the state of Ohio. “They have to go!” he bellows.

How will he accomplish such a feat? “It’s called management,” he condescendingly declares.

It is all quite preposterous. But Donald Trump only trafficks in grand plans. He does not have time for practical details.

Operating without a map

Meanwhile, he has yet to utter a single word of policy intent when it comes to such unsexy subjects as salvaging our bridges and highways and other national infrastructure, projects where money for that ridiculous wall could be far better spent.

Where does he stand on climate change? He states his approach in a Twitter message:

“This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

What’s his position on the Keystone XL pipeline – which would transfer sulfur-dirty shale oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast – exclusively for export? Again, the Donald Trump Twitter version of policy:

“Will the Keystone XL pipeline finally be approved? Will create over 100,000 jobs and make us more energy independent.”

Even the companies behind the project say the completed pipeline would create just 35 permanent jobs.  Also, the pipeline makes no economic sense unless the price of oil is jacked back up again to above $70 a barrel.

Call him clueless, if you will, but remember: Details are not Donald Trump’s friend.

Tax cuts for the unimaginably wealthy

His recent foray into reforming the tax structure was carefully built around a narrative designed to sound good to the easily swindled low-information bobble-head members of the waning Middle Class and those further downstream from the fictitious benefits of trickle-down economics.

But even the most cursory examination of the Donald Trump tax plan shows it is a scam. By some estimates it would cut revenue by $10 trillion, a number so large as to be all but unimaginable. And, of course the lion’s share of the tax reductions would, once again, accrue to the top economic one-percent.

How Donald Trump thinks he could run a country without tax revenue is anybody’s guess. Paying the bills is apparently an unimportant detail to a plutocrat who has gamed the corporate bankruptcy laws at least five times.

Dealing with infrastructure and climate change and energy policy and a myriad of other patience-sapping nuts-and-bolts issues is not something The Donald would be good at, mostly because he could not simply order the results he wants.

Rather he would have to work with that confederacy of jackasses known collectively as Congress. Even the best-contrived political bargain, however laboriously arrived at, could be upended if some Senator Bumfuzzle didn’t like it or decided to hold out for more.

Donald Trump has no forbearance for that sort of thing. He is not one to be schmoozing bureaucrats or demeaning himself by entreating political stiffs to fold local compromises into some grand national plan.

For one thing, it would be too much work. But as president he would have to do it. Donald Trump is not the sort to turn the actual running of the country over to his vice president, George W. Bush style.

That is not to suggest the Trump on the stump is all substance and gravitas.

A cardboard messiah

Look beyond the showmanship and the self-promoting, the slogan spouting, the amusing, if rude, personal verbal dope-slaps of his rivals, and the outrageous positions, or more often non-positions, on major issues and you will find that “President Trump” is an illusion, a cardboard cut-out that looks great and robust under the fireworks, but pale and flat in the cold light of day.

In the end, perhaps with the nomination within reach, Donald Trump will bow out. Never one to let an opportunity pass, he will, of course, cement himself an endorsement deal which will give him power and influence in what he hopes turns out to be the next administration

He will never have to belly up to the terminally exasperating job of actually governing, but Donald Trump will have shown the nation how political campaigns are properly done.

Michael W. Dominowski is a contributor to Not For Hire Media,


Skunk weapon: One of nature’s best defenses goes on the attack

image of an Israel Defense Forces skunk weapon spraying West Bank houses.
An Israel Defense Forces water cannon metes out collective punishment for protests by spraying “skunk” at homes in the West Bank community of Nabi Saleh. (ActiveStills)

If you are sprayed by a skunk, natural or manmade, here’s help

goshawk headerAs a son of the rural Midwest, I have, on three memorable occasions, experienced firsthand the aromatic defenses of the common woodland skunk. One early-morning encounter, during my high school days, delayed my arrival for class, so I procured a parental note explaining my tardiness. Before I could present the excuse, the folks behind the counter in the school’s front office were unanimously and vociferously encouraging me to hastily “Get the H out of here!”

cartoon image of a woodland skunkIf you have ever caught a whiff of a skunk’s spray, this simple mention of it will bring the incident back vividly. It is not something you forget. A direct hit is worse only by one or more orders of magnitude.

In 1634, an unnamed Jesuit missionary working the salvation fields of New England sought to enlighten his superiors by describing his contact with the creatures.

“It is so stinking, and casts so foul an odor … no sewer ever smelled so bad,” he reported. “I would not have believed it if I had not smelled it myself. Your heart almost fails you when you approach the animal; two have been killed in our court, and several days afterward there was such a dreadful odor throughout our house that we could not endure it.”

I tell you this by way of explaining how the stench of skunk, if not the skunk itself, may one day find its way to the streets of your neighborhood.

But first, a brief digression.

A crowd-control arsenal

When it comes to crowd control (a term often used as a euphemism for suppressing protesters), lethal always works best. But, unlike Napoleon’s troops, our heavily militarized modern-day police are as yet not empowered to train traditional cannon fire on assemblies of people. Even wholesale use of fusillades from assault rifles is a practice still frowned upon.

So nonlethal is currently the preferred level of force to be employed on unwanted groups of people. But that’s more easily said than done.

The less lethal the weapons are, the less effective they are likely to be. With this reality in mind, the crowd-controllers have taken to fudging the dangers by ambiguously calling some of their preferred equipment “less-than-lethal.” The idea is to suggest the weapons are not outright intended to kill, while admitting they nevertheless might.

As you might expect, weapons of this sort all have drawbacks.

Rubber bullets can easily maim or even kill, particularly at close range. They’re just not as effective at doing so as lead bullets are.

Long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) are incredibly – and painfully – loud. They are not killing tools, although they can cause hearing damage. You would not want to be standing near the business end of one when it is in use. But they are also quite directional so, at a reasonable distance, the LRAD’s effects can be ameliorated or defeated with hearing protection, or by simply moving out of the way.

Tear gas can cause burns and start fires, and getting hit by a shoulder-launched gas grenade can also be deadly. The wind can blow tear gas away from the gassed – or back on the gassers. Tear gas is also relatively expensive.

Pepper spray, derived from hot chili peppers, is cheaper and can be quite unpleasant. It is not particularly dangerous to those on the receiving end. It works fairly well – again, if the wind is favorable. So it is often employed at close range.

It’s no small irony that tear gas and pepper spray are classified as chemical weapons and so are banned in warfare. The rules protect other soldiers, but it is still OK for police to use them on defenseless civilians.

That brings us back to the skunk.

Making the unruly pay through the nose

In Israel, and throughout much of the Holy Land, angry crowds have all but become part of every-day life. Dispersing those groups – small, mobile, typically anti-Israel congregations that can pop up on very short notice – is a time-consuming and labor-intensive chore for Israel’s army, also known as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

So the IDF has come up with a foul new tactical tool: the skunk weapon.

They have adapted another time-honored less-than-lethal weapon, water cannons – which look something like a militarized fire truck fitted with a remotely aimed deluge gun.

In past practice, water cannons were used to literally wash the crowd away. The water blast could send people flying, and could damage or even knock down buildings. Because the end result was usually just a gaggle of wet protesters, the effects tended to be transitory.

But now the cannons spray water laced with chemicals that emulate the ungodly stink of a thousand skunks. No longer is it necessary to hydraulically sweep people from the streets; it is quite enough to simply hose them down.

The skunk weapon’s active ingredient is simply, and aptly, called “skunk.” It is cheap and effective. Like that of the animal, the manmade malodorous smell is quite persistent and can linger for days.

The IDF is so pleased with the results that it has taken to using the skunk weapon as collective punishment – spraying whole neighborhoods, buildings, cars, gardens, orchards and what have you, if someone from the neighborhood is suspected of resistance.

The chemical is parsimoniously described as “an organic and non-toxic blend of baking powder, yeast, and other ingredients.” It is emitted as a sort of yellow spray that taints whatever it touches.

A news reporter described it thus: “Imagine taking a chunk of rotting corpse from a stagnant sewer, placing it in a blender and spraying the filthy liquid in your face. Your gag reflex goes off the charts and you can’t escape, because the nauseating stench persists for days.”

Another reporter amplified the message: “Imagine not being able to get rid of the stench for at least three days, no matter how often you try to scrub yourself clean.”

The chemical cocktail has proven so effective that the developer, a cleverly named company called Odortec, plans to market its odor technology products to police forces worldwide.

But what about that days-long persistence? Police might be reluctant to stink up their jailhouse with skunked protesters. And what happens if the authorities come in contact with the spray?

Ah, yes. There’s said to be a secret soap that can eradicate the aroma. It is available only to the enforcement side of the equation.

Or is it?

Secrets of the skunk

Here’s a brief chemical lesson: The oil sprayed by the woodland skunk contains at least three chemicals – volatile thiols, sometimes referred to as mercaptans. Some of them smell truly awful, and the human nose can detect them in vanishingly small amounts.

The “smell” of natural gas comes from trace amounts of mercaptans that have been deliberately added to the otherwise odorless gas as a safety precaution.

It is very likely the skunk weapon uses them as well.

You may have heard that ketchup or tomato juice can be used to remove the skunk odor. I can tell you from personal experience, that is arrant nonsense. You would be better off drinking the tomato juice or putting the ketchup on French fries.

What will reliably work for removing aromatic traces of the woodland skunk, and plausibly (we make no guarantees) may remove the odoriferous residue of the skunk weapon, is a simple paste of drug-store grade hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and (preferably unscented) dishwashing liquid.

This works because the stinky volatile thiols are readily oxidized (combined with oxygen), and hydrogen peroxide is a potent oxidizer.

We’re not spilling any national defense secrets here. This basic-chemistry remedy has been around for a long time and is readily google-able.

Mix the ingredients to make a loose paste, and use it as you would any other soap or shampoo. Keep it out of your eyes and mouth, and don’t let it sit on your skin for a prolonged period of time. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin if it is exposed too long to the stuff.

Homemade skunk stink remover

If you want to mix up a batch of magic de-skunking soap, this unofficial recipe is a good place to start:

  • 1 pint (16 ounces/two cups) of 3 or 5 percent hydrogen peroxide. This is a standard drug store strength and size.
  • A quarter-cup of baking soda.
  • A quarter-cup of unscented dishwashing soap.

Mix the ingredients in a nonreactive (no ferrous metal) bowl or a plastic bottle. Don’t concoct this mixture until you need it, because, once added to a recipe, the hydrogen peroxide will break down in a matter of hours.

Another, even simpler, skunk weapon cleanser might be a loose paste of unscented oxygen bleach (OxiClean, for example) and unscented liquid laundry soap.

OxiClean contains a solid form of hydrogen peroxide. When combined with water it breaks down to oxygen, sodium carbonate (washing soda) and water.

When applied via our “soap” mixture, the hydrogen peroxide causes the stinky thiols to bond with oxygen, allowing them to be rinsed away.

Again, this preparation has a short shelf life, so mix it up only when you need it.

Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media.

SETI scientists to create $1M Breakthrough Message – but don’t intend to send it

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radio telescope
The Jamesburg Earth Station near Carmel CA.

Wariness of contacting space aliens is a reflection of our immaturity as a species

Like the rest of us, scientists gaze deeply at the night sky and muse about what they would say to whomever or whatever may live out there. What would that “Breakthrough Message” contain?

Unlike the rest of us, scientists take the extra steps of forming a committee and raising funds, throwing a design competition to create a so-called Breakthrough Message, then argue and debate the matter endlessly, as academics are wont to do.

Their squabbling is an illustration of our immaturity as a species, and makes a good case for dropping the whole idea.

Crafting a Breakthrough Message is the project of a group of British scientists intrigued by the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life (SETI), and the prospect of communicating with whatever creatures the search may eventually turn up.

Toward that end, they’re creating a contest. This is your chance to bag a $1 million prize; the contest is open to everyone.

arecibo message
The Arecibo message looked a bit like a graphic from an old video game.

The idea is to design a message, potentially decipherable by an as-yet unimagined civilization, that represents Earth and humanity. The actual details of the desired message have yet to be revealed, probably because the scientists involved have yet to agree on them.

The kicker? They currently have no intention of ever sending the message!

This seems logical to these people. Their fears seem drawn from the plot lines of some godawful science fiction movies. What if the message is actually received by some sentient creatures? They might be monsters who would pretend to “come in peace” while they colonize our planet, as in “Mars Attacks!” Or they might turn out to be interstellar grave robbers like the aliens in “Plan 9 from Outer Space!

They seriously fret about this stuff.

They might be monsters!

Even the great Stephen Hawking, explorer of time and deconstructor of black holes, has caught Star Trek fever. He worries that some marauding Borg-style spacefaring nomads would use the message to find our planet and exploit its natural resources.

As if there will be anything left for them to mine by the time they get here.

The first deliberate message to potential civilizations in deep space was sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.
The first deliberate message to potential civilizations in deep space was sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

It’s not as if Earth has been silent. We have been broadcasting high-powered electronic signals into space since Hitler put the 1936 Olympic Games on the radio.

Our electronic signature has been traveling outward at the speed of light ever since.

A message is sent

In 1974, the astronomers, SETI founder Frank Drake and the late Carl Sagan (the Neil deGrasse Tyson of his day) directed a three-minute digital message from the Arecibo radio telescope to the Messier-13 star cluster. The pixelized message looked like a graphic from an early video game.

The two scientists were unconcerned that they might trigger a real-life “War of the Worlds.” It will be 50,000 years – at the earliest – before we can possibly receive a reply. By then the human race, if it survives at all, will be very different and, it is hoped, considerably more advanced. That long time frame may have had something to do with their casual approach.

The chances of anyone or anything receiving the Arecibo message are between exceedingly slim and none. When the message arrives in M13’s old neighborhood, some 25,000 years from now, the star cluster will have moved on.

The purpose of the message was to demonstrate the technology; it was not a serious attempt to make contact (which happens to be the name of one of Sagan’s books.)

NASA gets into the act
plaque on pioneer space probes
The gold anodized plaque on the Pioneer space probes horrified wowsers.

NASA, spurred by the irrepressible Sagan, also tried its hand at contacting other worlds. Its 1970s Pioneer space probes each carried a gold-anodized aluminum plate indicating where the spacecraft came from. The plates featured a drawing of a naked Caucasian couple. NASA took some heat for that from a prudish public.

golden record on the voyager space probes
The “Golden Record” was attached to both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. It carries “The Sounds of Earth” but, unlike the plaque on the earlier Pioneer probes, it contains no images of naked humans.

Later, when Sagan was helping to design a “time capsule” for the Voyager probe, NASA forbid him from including a photo of nude humans, lest the aliens be scandalized or get the wrong idea.

Instead the “capsule” was a gold platter featuring recordings of “The Sounds of Earth.” The record bore sounds of rain and waves and what have you. It also included music recordings.

Sagan wanted to include the Beatles’ tune “Here Comes the Sun,” but copyright lawyers for EMI, the company holding rights to the tune, wouldn’t hear of it.

The project did include the works of, among others, Bach, Beethoven, Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry. All are playable at the apparently cosmically universal speed of 16 2/3 rpm.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Commercial attempts falter

There have been other deliberate attempts at first contact. In 2008 a company called Sent Forever was charging a fee to send personal messages (“eternal communications,” they called them) into space via a radio telescope in Cornwall, England. Messages were flying out of a big Goonhilly Earth Station dish at 670 million miles per hour. At light speed they would overtake Voyager 1, the most distant manmade object in the universe, in a matter of hours.

Then British Telecom abruptly pulled the plug. Goonhilly was open for commercial business, but apparently not for that sort of reckless nonsense. The company’s website name is now owned by a chain of Japanese pawn shops.

Proof, yet again, that nothing lasts forever.

A more recent attempt was “Lone Signal,” a group hoping to commercialize interstellar communications. They leased the Jamesburg Earth Station radio telescope, a former NASA facility near Carmel, CA. The project never got off the ground. The group still has inactive Twitter and Facebook accounts, but their formal website never moved beyond the “coming soon” stage.

Maybe we should just shut up

As far-fetched as it may seem, the formidable scientific opposition to communicating with the rest of the universe probably has some merit, although perhaps not the kind intended.

Humans are the most invasive species nature has yet devised. We are violent, deceitful, arrogant and insatiably rapacious. We damage, conquer or destroy societies, indeed whole civilizations we encounter, and squander the resources of our home planet with terrifying Malthusian efficiency.

The wary scientists may claim to fear the power of unknown others, but their attitude is drawn from experience. They know whereof they come. The sort of behavior they warn about is almost certainly how we would likely behave if we were to detect a neighbor somewhere out there.

It is perhaps better for everyone if we just remain silent.

Michael W. Dominowski is a contributor to Not For Hire Media.

Denali becomes Denali again. But what of poor old McKinley?

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denali mt. mckinley
Denali, the original name of North America’s tallest mountain, is being officially restored. It was named for President William McKinley in the early 20th century. (National Park Service)

Renaming of continent’s tallest mountain is justice for Native Americans, but a blow to politicians

Poor old William McKinley. The 25th president has had to put up with being blamed for starting the Spanish-American War, stealing Puerto Rico and allowing Theodore Roosevelt into the White House. Now he’s had his name stripped off North America’s tallest mountain. Just 98 years after it was named “Mt. McKinley,” the mountain’s original name – “Denali” – is being formally restored.

william mckinley
President William McKinley in 1896.

President Obama’s announcement that Alaska had won naming rights to North America’s tallest mountain set off howls of protest, mostly from incensed Ohio politicians. McKinley, after all, was a Republican and an Ohio native.

McKinley’s rambunctious vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, got his face chiseled on to a granite mountain. The staid McKinley had his name erased from one. Oh the ignominy!

Politicians love naming places and public assets after each other. The idea that such hubris can have limits is doubtless something of a shock to them.

Truth be told, McKinley probably should never have had his name affixed to the mountain to begin with. Naming the great rock after McKinley has long been seen as yet another arrogant insult to Native Americans. The move to put things right has been a long time coming.

But this dollop of fairness and justice has not been balm for the aggrieved in the Buckeye state.

Incensed politicians

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman predictably put the standard GOP anti-Obama spin on the decision. He decried the move as “… yet another example of the President going around Congress.”

GOP House Speaker John Boehner, another Ohio Republican, in a burst of perhaps unintended faint praise, extolled President McKinley as deserving of keeping his name in company with the lofty Alaskan pinnacle for having “made a difference for his constituents.”

Boehner also lauded McKinley for leading “…this nation to prosperity and victory in the [congressionally contrived] Spanish-American War.”

The McKinley mountain name never really caught on in Alaska. To Alaskans, the mountain was always “Denali,” no matter what the federally approved maps claimed.

A losing battle

McKinley fans have been losing the fight over the mountain’s name at least since 1975, when Alaska formally requested the name Denali be restored. The U.S. Department of the Interior said it had no objection to the name change, but a Republican Ohio senator promptly blocked legislation to make it so. It was a move that would eventually backfire.

In 1980, Mount McKinley National Park was combined with and effectively absorbed into Denali National Monument, further eroding the McKinley name.

Denali, for the trivia minded, is 20,237 feet tall. It is impressively large. The original residents of Alaska, the Athabaskans, named Denali, perhaps a millennium ago. The English translation means “the high one,” or something similar. When Russia owned the place they called the mountain Bolshaya Gora (Big Mountain) – the Russian translation of Denali.

The Russians sold Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million in 1867, to keep it out of British hands. The new owners were soon fumpfing with its geographic names.

An act of spite

Denali became “Densmore’s Peak” for a while. Frank Densmore was a prospector who was reputed to be the first European to reach the base of the mountain in the late 1880s.

The official story of how William McKinley’s name came to be associated with the mountain dates to 1896 when a gold prospector and explorer named William A. Dickey sang the praises of the towering presence and proposed naming it, as a patriotic gesture, for the president.

Dickey’s own version of the story suggests there was actually nothing patriotic about his recommendation. Dickey reportedly told a fellow explorer, an accomplished boreal adventurer named Belmore Brown, that he came up with the idea of naming the mountain after McKinley to spite silver prospectors he had encountered during his expedition.

The silver miners supposedly regaled Dickey ad nauseam about the benefits of “free silver” – a monetary policy preferred by farmers and workers. Monetary policy was the big-deal political issue of the day.

Wearied by the incessance and enthusiasm of the silverites, Dickey, who preferred gold, tipped in favor of McKinley who was a champion of the “gold standard” – a monetary policy favored by the big banks and robber barons.

Had Dickey agreed with the silver fans, the mountain might well have been named after McKinley’s political rival, William Jennings Bryan, a leading proponent of free silver. Bryan’s main claim to fame derives in part from his role as the prosecutor in the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial.

The gold standard prevailed. The dollar was backed by gold until 1971 when doing so became difficult because of the mushrooming cost of the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon solved the problem by removing references to gold from U.S. currency, the value of which is now backed only by trust.

The debate over guaranteeing the value of paper currency with precious metal rages on to this day.

The wages of obstruction

So how can President Obama get away with simply discarding a mountain’s name?

Actually, it wasn’t his doing. The change is a consequence of that aforementioned bit of Republican congressional obstructionism back in 1975.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is the agency that rules on geographic place names. The agency’s practice on such matters has always been to defer to the wishes of Congress. A 1947 law says the secretary of the Interior may act unilaterally on name requests if Congress fails to do so “within a reasonable time.”

Alaska’s name-change request was only blocked, not dismissed. It has been lingering in a file cabinet for 40 years. GOP-approved Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently concluded that four decades was long enough to wait for congressional action. Glaciers move far faster.

The president’s role consisted simply of not obstructing Alaska’s request any longer.

Redemption for McKinley

So, how to salve McKinley’s rumpled legacy?

Perhaps Ohio should consider renaming its loftiest geographic point for their beloved former president. That would be Campbell Hill, a high spot within the city limits of Bellefontaine, some two miles from the business district.

At 1,550 feet, Campbell Hill is admittedly rather less of a peak than the rarefied summit of Denali. It would be something of a comedown for McKinley’s legacy and an aggravation to the fresh bruise on the ego of his heirs and enthusiasts. But it is closer to home, and far more accessible to Ohioans. Campbell Hill is already a park, so the cost of transition would be minimal.

Besides, name of the place has a checkered history of its own.

For a while, locals called it Hogue’s Hill – probably because they misspelled the surname of Solomon Lafayette Hoge, who was born in nearby Pickrelltown and obtained the first deed to the place in 1830. The land was sold in 1898 to real estate developer Charles D. Campbell. He turned around and sold the land to a beer company. But the Campbell name stuck.

Real estate developers, by definition and practice, have no loyalty to the plats of land they traffick. They are only in it for the money. So turfing Campbell out and replacing him with McKinley, a true son of the soil, should be no big deal.

It certainly seems like something Ohioans of all political stripes could agree on.

Michael W. Dominowski is a contributor to Not For Hire Media.