Welcome to the '52 Class Forum

Set out below are articles submitted by classmates on topics of interest to them and which they believe might be of interest to other classmates. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and are not endorsed by the Class of 1952 or by Princeton University. We encourage classmates to respond or to start a new line of discussion.

John McCain and the Dying Art of Political Compromise
He had strong views, but his willingness to reach across the aisle has become all too rare.

By James A. Baker, III

The death of Sen. John McCain is not just a moment to commemorate the life of an extraordinary man; it is an occasion to reflect on his principles. McCain was a hero and patriot, but he also was a politician who understood the importance of compromise. A staunch Republican, he nonetheless was able to reach across the aisle when he thought the interests of the American people demanded it.

Few lawmakers today follow McCain's example of compromise. Whatever one party proposes, the other opposes reflexively. When a legislator attempts to bridge the gap, his constituents often consider it a betrayal. No wonder so much of the public's business is left undone. Government has become incapable of tackling critical issues. Instead, the parties ping-pong blame back and forth depending on which side is in power.

In my 88 years, I have never witnessed a problem as vexing as the continuing deterioration of America's political dialogue. Although other threats during my lifetime have jeopardized our security - five hot wars and a cold one, the Great Depression and the Great Recession - Americans conquered them by working together rather than against one another.

Sadly, however, civility, compromise and respect for the political center are being replaced with vicious language, pernicious partisanship and crippling polarization. The problems recur at every level of our political system, as our once firm center has given way to a destructive hyperpartisanship.

Strict party-line voting mirrors the attitudes of constituents whose opinions are diverging rapidly. A Pew Research Center poll last year indicated that Republicans are moving further to the right and Democrats are moving further left.

The further the parties diverge, the more tribal society becomes. Gallup polling indicates that twice as many Americans as in the 1950s oppose marriage outside their political party: Almost two-thirds wouldn't want their daughter or son to marry someone from the other party.

In addition to this dislike for each other, distrust of politicians and institutions also has grown. Rather than address the real problems of the day, Americans and our representatives spend time blaming one another for our ills - both real and perceived.

There are many causes behind this partisan divide which, if left unaddressed, threatens to undermine our democracy.

America's constitutionally mandated redistricting process gradually turns congressional districts into safe seats, squeezing the center out of our politics along with the practice of compromise. Social media turns national debate into an angry brawl and divides Americans into howling rabbles that tote smartphones instead of pitchforks. Objective journalism is increasingly hard to come by as the line between commentator and reporter is too often blurred.

As a result, we have become an evenly divided red-state, blue-state nation more intent on waging political battles than finding ways to advance the common good. In this new age of red-meat national politics, everyone uses the misbehavior of others to justify their own.

There have always been partisan political fights in this country - that's part of the democratic debate that has helped the American experiment work so well. But in the past leaders demonstrated common civility toward each other to reach the elusive center in governance. Doing so required each side to take positions that both could accept.

A good example is the federal income-tax reform of 1986. As President Reagan’s Treasury secretary, I worked closely with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to devise a win-win rather than a winner-take-all result. Fights and finger-pointing erupted from the extremes of each party. But we reached a middle ground by making the reform revenue-neutral, removing the process from the broader clash over national debt and deficits. Democrats could take credit among their constituents for eliminating tax loopholes and deductions, and Republicans could tout lower marginal tax rates. This approach produced the first revenue-neutral major tax reform in U.S. history, an accomplishment that helped stimulate an already growing economy.

In a statement publicized after his death, McCain stressed that Americans should take time to listen to one another, because brokering solutions requires measured collaboration, not torrents of outrage.

"We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates," McCain wrote. "But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times."

John McCain recognized that resistance to compromise stands in the way of America's advancement. We all would do well to heed his advice.

Mr. Baker served as secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush.

James A. Baker III: Civility and the lost art of listening

Don't just listen - hear

The future of our country is threatened by its factions' inability to respect one another
By James A. Baker III

I thought I had seen it all. One Cold War and six hot ones. The great Depression of the 1930s and the great Recession of 2008. Entire neighborhoods ablaze during the social upheavals of the 1960s. Thousands of left-wing domestic bombings in the early 1970s.

But during my 88 years on this earth, I have never seen a challenge as vexing and potentially damaging as the one now posed by the incivility that poisons our society. The crassness of our national debate and the political dysfunction that accompanies it too often bring our governance to a standstill. We yell at one another about our problems rather than talk with each other about resolutions.

Sadly, the vitriol is poised to grow even harsher as partisan battle lines are drawn for filling the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. As one liberal columnist recently wrote, all the talk about civility should not stop opponents of a right-wing court from doing everything in their power to keep the judiciary from "being packed." (His choice of words.)

No, politics ain't beanbag, and having led five campaigns for three Republican presidents, I know that firsthand, and have the bruises to show for it. But as our national anger has grown, so, too, has our distrust of our politicians, of our institutions and of one another. The only thing we seem to agree on is that the other side started the fight. We're too busy blaming one another, especially "those people" who don't look like us, act like us or talk like us.

No wonder many Americans worry that our country's best days are in the rear-view mirror. We may not be anywhere close to civil war. But the increasingly personal verbal attacks could escalate into violence.

There are several reasons for our hyper-partisan political fighting, including:

A redistricting process that pushes congressional districts to the fringes of the political spectrum. With the decline of the center, the art of compromise is being squeezed from our polity.

The simple fact that we live in a fairly evenly divided red-state, blue-state country, with the two sides seeing the world through vastly different prisms. The problems confronting a Democrat in Boston are very different than the ones facing a Texas Panhandle Republican.

Our rapidly developing social media that transforms too many Americans into angry mobs that carry smart phones rather than pitchforks.

A press that often acts as political advocates, rather than as objective reporters of facts.

We have reached a point where we continually argue about who started this mess. There's plenty of blame to go around on both sides. The more important question is: "How do we fix it?"

I'm not sure of the solution. You cannot just legislate against speech that some would consider angry, disruptive, or indecent because vigorous and heated debate is an integral part of America's democratic heritage. And there already are constitutional limits on certain activities that might incite violence or threaten public safety, such as shutting down roads, etc.

Nevertheless, the general tenor of our debate must change if we are to address challenges that range from our resulting political dysfunction to the ticking fiscal debt bomb that threatens our economy. Finding solutions requires serious and measured debate not incessant howls of outrage.

In Washington, it will take leadership in both parties. Republicans and Democrats must re-learn how to compromise if they want to get things done. Doing that will require a commitment to cooling incendiary rhetoric, which is coming now in ever increasing amounts and ferocity from both sides.

But all Americans must shoulder some of the responsibility. Each of us needs to look into our own hearts. The harshness of our political debate has been matched elsewhere in our national discourse. Our popular culture, for example, has become angrier, uglier, and more vulgar. The norms dictating decent behavior are eroding, and we are losing sight of the basic regard we owe our fellow human beings.

Rather than blame others for our myriad of problems, each of us should recognize that in a democracy, no one side gets to make all of the rules. Our country has survived and thrived, in large part, because we have worked together in the past on important issues. Absent the art of compromise in a democracy, chaos can ensue.

Above all, when someone makes a point, listen to it, regardless of how incorrect it may seem to you. Don't discount people just because you don't agree with them. Listening is an important part of learning about one another and from one another that sends a clear signal of respect.

It is also a critical civic virtue. And in this country, we need to do more listening and less screaming  because I fear that the things that bind us together as a people are getting lost in the noise.

James A. Baker, III was the 61st U.S. secretary of state
Article submitted by Dave Smith '52, from the Houston Chronicle July 1, 2018

Reflections: A British Baptism in a Russian Church, 1968


The following is an article that I wrote about your classmate George Hambleton and his family, and which appeared in the June 2018 issue of "The Foreign Service Journal." It relates to an event that occurred almost 50 years ago, when we both were living in what was then the Soviet Union. I was a very junior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow at the time. The story is based on an entry in my diary and memories of the day in question. I believe it to be accurate, although it would be understandable if others who were present then had somewhat differing recollections or perspectives. In any case, I thought that the article might be of interest to George, whom I have not seen since 1968, and his family, as well possibly to classmates and friends.

George Hambleton, son of Pan-American Airways co-founder John Adams Hambleton, arrived in Moscow early in 1968 to serve as the airline's first resident director there. The initial PanAm and Aeroflot flights between New York and Moscow were to take place that July.

I met him early in his stay, and we became friendly. George and his lovely British wife, Janet, had a son, James, who had been born recently in Helsinki, where George had previously resided.George was determined that James should be baptized in the Soviet Union in a Russian church, but by Dr. Eric Staples, an Anglican priest based in Helsinki who was a good friend of both of us.Permission finally was granted after George made numerous interventions with the Russian Orthodox Church bureaucracy, which he claimed had gone all the way to the Patriarch.

George had leased a weekend cottage at Zavidovo, on the Volga River nearly 70 miles north of Moscow, in a state-owned recreation complex known popularly as "the diplomatic dacha."Though modest by Western standards, this facility provided an escape, limited sporting possibilities (e.g., tennis, skeet shooting, boating, snowmobiling) and fresh air for foreign businessmen and diplomats.

On Sept. 21, 1968, a beautifully sunny autumn day, a smallish group of the Hambletons' guests arrived at Zavidovo for the baptismal ceremony. Once assembled, we embarked in open boats powered by outboard motors for the short ride to a nearby village where the church was located. I was asked to serve as the unofficial interpreter.

The Russian priest was waiting for us at the church near the riverbank. Though cordial enough, he appeared nervous about what was about to transpire and, no doubt, about having a bunch of Western foreigners in his church.It should be recalled that in those days the U.S.S.R. was still very much a closed society, where citizens were strongly discouraged from having contacts with (non-communist) foreigners. Moreover, America's involvement in Vietnam was a major focus of Soviet criticism and propaganda efforts.

Nevertheless, the priest chatted amiably with Father Staples and explained how best to conduct the service in the space available, though he politely declined George's invitation to participate.

Just before the ceremony began, a large group of working-class Russian tourists disgorged from one of the riverboats that plied the Volga and sought to enter the church -- the village must have been a standard rest stop for such outings.The arrival of the tourists clearly upset the Russian priest, who tried to shoo them away. George, however, told him that we viewed a church as a public place, and that the tourists not only should not be barred from entering but, indeed, were welcome. That settled, the service began.

Father Staples and the Hambletons stood with baby James in an open space to one side of the church, with the Russian priest hovering in the background nearby. The Hambletons' guests formed a semicircle around them. As the service was about to begin, however, perhaps 30 or 40 of the tourists approached and formed their own semicircle facing the invited guests. They watched silently yet respectfully and with rapt attention as the brief ceremony proceeded.

Once it was over, many of them rushed forward to greet the Hambletons, wishing them health, happiness and a long life for their son. It was the most genuine, spontaneous and moving outpouring of human feeling that I encountered in my two-plus years in Russia.Ordinary people who understood not a word of the service they had observed nevertheless grasped the importance of the occasion and responded in a deeply human way.

Whenever I hear mentioned the warmth and friendliness of the Russian people, I think of what I witnessed that sunny day on the Volga and the flood of good wishes from ordinary citizens for foreigners whom they did not know.

Retired Senior Foreign Service Officer Jonathan B. Rickert spent the majority of his 35-year career in or dealing with Central and Eastern Europe. His final two overseas posts were as deputy chief of mission in Sofia and then Bucharest. He served as Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson's staff aide at Embassy Moscow from 1967to1968. This Article appeared in The Foreign Service Journal, June 2018.

Generals as President
Prof. Jean Smith '54, as presented at the occasion of the 65th Reunion of the Class of 1952

George Washington was the outstanding American general of the eighteenth century; Grant the most successful in the nineteenth; and Eisenhower in the twentieth.

There are several other generals who have become president. Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Mexican War and a career soldier, was elected in 1848 but died sixteen months after taking office. Andrew Jackson, the victor at the battle of New Orleans, was elected in 1828. And William Henry Harrison, "old Tippacanoe," was elected 1840, but served less than a month before dying of pneumonia contracted at his inauguration.

Other generals have run for the presidency and lost. Winfield Scott, another hero of the Mexican War, was the Whig candidate in 1852 and lost to Franklin Pierce. John C. Freemont stood as the first Republican candidate in 1856; George McClellan ran against Lincoln in 1864; and Winfield Scott Hancock lost narrowly to James Garfield in 1880.

But to look at Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower, together they served twenty-four years as president. Did they have anything in common, anything that set them apart? As generals, let me suggest they had an extraordinary ability to understand larger political issues.

Washington personified the Revolution and the American desire for independence. He was appointed general and commander in chief on June 16, 1775, and served in that capacity until December 23, 1783 - eight and a half years. He lost more battles than he won, and the victory at Yorktown was mainly attributable to the French, but Washington's ability to keep the Continental Army intact during those eight and a half years was a unique historical accomplishment.

Said differently, Washington was as great between battles as he was on the battlefield. There was scarcely a time during the war when Washington didn't have to grapple with a crisis that threatened to disband the army and abort the Revolution. He constantly had to exhort Congress and the thirteen states to remedy shortages of men, clothing, weapons, and ammunition. In that sense, Washington's job as commander in chief was as much political as it was military. His command of the army was a masterly exercise in nation building. Washington had to blend troops from different states into a functioning national force, and the constant turnover of manpower meant that training was continuous. But in defining the culture of the Continental Army, Washington molded the character of the country.

For Grant, the Civil War was about the preservation of the Union and the restoration of peace. The shortest road to that led through the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. Like Washington, Grant represented the calm at the center of the storm of battle. Three times Grant took the surrender of a Confederate army and his terms were always generous. At Vicksburg, he paroled the southern soldiers rather than making prisoners of them. At Appomattox, Grant wrote out the terms in longhand. As at Vicksburg, the men were paroled and sent home. This time they were allowed to keep their horses for the spring plowing. Acting on his own authority as general in chief, Grant concluded with a sentence that took a massive step toward bringing the nation together. The officers and men who turned in their weapons and went home were "not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their parole and the laws in force where they reside."

With that sentence Grant pardoned the Army of Northern Virginia and undercut the vengeance that was festering to hang the Confederate leaders for treason.

It is not widely known today, but after Lincoln's assassination, President Johnson ordered the United States attorney in Norfolk to indict Lee, and Longstreet, and Joseph E. Johnston for treason. The indictments were handed down, and Lee wrote Grant asking if it was consistent with the terms of surrender. Grant immediately went to President Johnson and said Lee and Longstreet and Johnston could not be tried for treason. "When can they be tried?" Johnson asked. "Never," said Grant. Grant's denial of vengeance was crucial in bringing the Union together.

Eisenhower was similarly politically attuned. Let me mention two instances: the taking of Paris in the summer of 1944, and his refusal to drive on Berlin the following year. In the summer of '44, after German resistance in western France collapsed, Eisenhower planned to bypass Paris and pursue the German army. Out of the blue, General von Choltitz, the German commander in Paris, sent the Swedish consul-general through German and Allied lines to tell Eisenhower that he had been ordered by Hitler to destroy Paris, but had decided not to. But he could only hold out for 24, perhaps 48 hours before Hitler would relieve him and send in a commander who would destroy the city.

Eisenhower immediately changed plans, ordered General Le Clerc's French 2nd Armored division to break off contact with the Germans in the Falaise pocket and head to Paris. Le Clerc covered the 130 miles in a little over 24 hours, von Choltitz surrendered the city to Le Clerc, and Paris was saved from destruction. Not only that, but Eisenhower did it with French troops, not American or British. And with Le Clerc went Charles de Gaulle, who was immediately established in the Élysée Palace as acting head of state, and who led that immense parade down the Champs de Élysée the next day.

Eisenhower, who had lived in Paris for a year and a half in the late 1920s, understood the significance of the city for the French, and wanted de Gaulle to reap the credit for its liberation. (I should add that FDR and the State Department were livid, but Eisenhower prevailed.)

The second incident involves Eisenhower's refusal to take Berlin in 1945. The occupation boundaries had already been drawn, Marshal Zhukov's army was on the Oder River just 30 miles from Berlin, and the Allies were just breaking out from the Rhine, some 150 miles away.

Churchill wanted the Allies to drive to Berlin. He believed it would be a useful bargaining chip with the Russians. Eisenhower was opposed. He wanted to link up with the Russians at the closest point, somewhere along the Elbe, and divide Germany in two. He thought Berlin was a prestige objective without any military significance, and would be costly to take. So instead of fighting with Churchill and the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Eisenhower wrote directly to Marshal Stalin and proposed a link up with the Russians on the Elbe. Stalin agreed, and that was that. Just as FDR had been furious that Ike installed de Gaulle in Paris, Churchill was apoplectic that Ike had written to Stalin. When you outmaneuver both FDR and Churchill on major issues, you can scarcely be considered a political amateur.

As president, Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower also shared at least one characteristic. The three had seen war at its worst, and they were determined to keep the United States at peace.

No president has had a more decisive impact on American foreign policy than George Washington, and no president has been more effective in keeping the United States out of war. In 1793, most of Europe was at war. The monarchical powers - Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain versus the French Republic. In April of that year, Washington issued a Neutrality Proclamation stating that the United States would remain neutral and impartial, and instructing American citizens to do the same. The wars of Europe were not something the United States would engage in, said the president.

Washington expanded on the idea of American neutrality in his Farewell Address. Said Washington,

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time for our country to settle and mature, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it the command of its own fortunes.

Washington's Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 ranks second only to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in its historical significance, and it set the course for American foreign policy from 1793 to our entry into World War I in 1917.

With Grant, it was a question of bringing peace to the domestic scene. Grant's "peace policy," as it was called, ended the slaughter of Native Americans on the Great Plains. This was a bit of a surprise. In the election of 1868, Grant swept the frontier states because the settlers thought he would do to the Indians what he had done to the Confederates. But Grant had great sympathy for Native Americans. He appointed a Native American to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs, replaced the corrupt agents on Indian reservations with Quaker ministers, and invited the war chiefs of the Indian tribes (Red Cloud) to the White House. Grant's peace policy brought peace to the West and paved the way for the eventual assimilation of Native Americans into American society.

I should add that Grant twice faced down congressional demands for war with Spain over Cuba, and with the Treaty of Washington of 1872, ended the friction with Great Britain stemming from the Civil War.

With Eisenhower it was much the same. We all remember the election of 1952. Ike said that if elected he would "go to Korea." Everyone assumed that he would take command and defeat the North Koreans and Chinese.

Well, Ike went to Korea, flew in an Artillery spotter plane - a little Piper Cub - along the entire battle line, and concluded the war was unwinnable. Over the objections of the commanders on the spot - Generals Mark Clark and James Van Fleet, South Korean president Syngman Rhee, and John Foster Dulles and much of the Republican Party, Eisenhower immediately made peace in Korea along the battle line, roughly the 38th parallel. And once he did, not one American was killed in combat for the remaining eight years of his presidency.

For Eisenhower, the phrase "limited war" was a contradiction in terms. He firmly insisted the United States would not engage in armed conflict unless national survival was at stake.

Eisenhower, by the way, had no National Security Advisor. He was his own national security advisor.

As president, Eisenhower slashed defense spending, reduced American ground forces, and introduced the "New Look" to defense strategy. The United States would not fight wars beneath the nuclear threshold, and if it did go to war, it would be with massive retaliation.

Under Eisenhower, that kept the peace. Twice the joint chiefs of staff and members of the NSC recommended the use of nuclear weapons - once at Dien Bien Phu to relieve the embattled French garrison, and one during the Formosa Straits crisis - and both times Eisenhower refused.

When England, France, and Israel invaded Egypt to seize the Suez Canal one week before the election in 1956, Eisenhower was determined to force their withdrawal. He instructed George Humphrey, his secretary of the treasury, to mount a run on the British pound on international currency markets. As a result, the British had no alternative but to withdraw.

For twenty-four years, Washington and Grant and Eisenhower kept the peace. They knew war first hand, and were determined to avoid it. That does not mean they were unwilling to use military force. Washington used the Army to crush the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania in 1794 - and indeed, took personal command of the troops in the field, the only president ever to do so. Grant kept the Army in the South for the eight years of his presidency to enforce Reconstruction and suppress the Ku Klux Klan, and Eisenhower dispatched the 101st Airborne division to Little Rock in 1957 to enforce the district court's order integrating Central High.

But sending men into combat was something these men wanted to avoid. To give this a contemporary note, some of you may remember the commencement address General H. Norman Schwarzkopf gave at West Point in May 1991, just after Desert Storm. Schwarzkopf warned the graduating cadets of what he called "military fairies in Washington.” Civilians who had never been in combat but who always wanted to send troops into battle. [Personal note: Norman and I were good friends. We served together for two years, 1958 and 1959, in the Sixth Infantry regiment in Berlin, and lived next door to each other in the BOQ.]

What did these men accomplish as president? It is impossible to overstate the prestige George Washington brought to the presidency, or the significance of that for the establishment of the government. As Chief Justice John Marshall - who wrote a five volume biography of Washington while he was chief justice observed, "The attention of all was directed to General Washington as the first president of the United States. He alone possessed so entirely the confidence of the people, that under his auspices a government of sufficient firmness could be established that could resist the open assaults and secret plots of its adversaries."

When Washington took the oath of office in 1789, there were only eleven states in the Union. North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution, and were waiting for a Bill of Rights to be added. And the Bill of Rights, which ultimately would become the first ten amendments to the Constitution, encountered heavy resistance in Congress. (To amend the Constitution requires a 2/3's majority in both the House and Senate, and then the approval of 3/4's of the states.)

Almost as his first order of business, Washington wrote a letter to James Madison announcing his support for the Bill of Rights. Armed with Washington's letter, Madison was able to steer the Amendments through both Houses, and in September 1789 they were sent to the eleven states for ratification. The Amendments were quickly ratified, and North Carolina joined the Union in November, and Rhode Island in May 1790. Without Washington’s intervention, the Bill of Rights would not have made it through Congress, and North Carolina and Rhode Island would not have joined the Union.

As the nation’s first president, Washington confronted the need to create the executive departments and define their responsibilities. He had to put the government on a sound financial basis and establish its credit. He had to create an Army and later a Navy, and appoint all the judges to a federal judicial system that had just been created. He also had to confront a Spanish government that had closed the mouth of the Mississippi to American commerce; deal with border disputes with Great Britain in the Northwest Territory (Ohio); and pacify hostile Indians on the frontier.

I believe it is symbolic of Washington's political dexterity and to his openness to competing ideas that his first cabinet included Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state and Alexander Hamilton as secretary of the treasury. Jefferson and Hamilton symbolized the division in the country, the rift between state power and national authority. They did not like each other. But they worked effectively under Washington for his first term.

The reason the nation’s capital is in Washington is due to a deal Jefferson and Hamilton cut over a private dinner in Philadelphia in 1790. Jefferson agreed to support Hamilton’s plan for funding the public debt and the assumption by the federal government of state indebtedness acquired during the Revolution, and Hamilton in return agreed to support moving the capital from Philadelphia to the Potomac—to a ten-square-mile federal area granted by Maryland and Virginia (the Virginia portion, Alexandria, was ceded back to the state in the 1830s). Washington approved the negotiations, and the new federal district was named "Washington” in his honor.

It was at the end of Washington's first term that the issue of establishing a national bank arose - Hamilton in favor, Jefferson against. Washington sided with Hamilton, and most historians trace the formation of political parties in the United States to that dispute over the bank in 1791.

Washington was reelected unanimously in 1792. Jefferson resigned as secretary of state, and the United States under Washington's leadership repaired its relations with Great Britain. The Jay Treaty of 1794 committed the British to removing the last of their troops from the Northwest Territory, and commercial relations were improved. Relations with France suffered accordingly. It was also in his second term that Washington took to the field to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Washington assembled a large military force and actually put down the rebellion without firing a shot. He left office with his reputation intact. "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen," said John Marshall, who delivered the eulogy to Washington in the House of Representatives.

As for Grant, it is an armchair pastime among historians to rank presidents, and until recently Grant was always placed near the bottom along with Harding and Buchanan. Given the fact that during his lifetime Grant was the most popular man in the country - 1.5 million people lined Broadway to watch his funeral procession - why has his reputation been so tarnished?

Basically, it was what he stood for. As president, Grant fought for Black equality. Frederick Douglass once said, "Grant was the last of the radicals.” So long as Grant was president, he kept the Army in the South to ensure that the rights of former slaves were protected. But for the next three generations that view of racial equality was rejected. We lived in a world of segregation, and Grant’s reputation suffered accordingly.

To put that in personal terms, look around. We have no Black classmates. There were none in the class of 1952 or 1953 or 1954 or 1955. For three generations Grant was swimming upstream. The histories of the Civil War and Reconstruction were written by white segregationists, and Grant’s reputation suffered accordingly.

Let me briefly mention some of Grant’s accomplishments as president, in addition to making peace on the Great Plains and protecting the rights of African Americans. It was Grant who established the first Civil Service Commission, who established the national park system with the founding of Yellowstone in 1872, and who tamped down efforts to bring religion into public schools.

But even more important were the economic accomplishments of the Grant administration. The fact is, Grant rescued the economy after the Civil War. He weaned the country from the greenback inflation lingering from printing too much money during the war, returned the nation to the gold standard, and established a sound currency that facilitated the nation’s growth for the remainder of the nineteenth century.

I should add that Grant also provided stability. After eight years of war and upheaval he steadied the nation and hastened the return to normalcy. His calming presence in the White House reassured the country during the Hayes-Tilden election dispute in 1876. The electoral vote of three states—South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana—was in doubt. Grant stepped in, devised a 15-man commission composed of five congressmen, five senators, and five Supreme Court justices to decide the issue, and there was never any question of its legitimacy.

Eisenhower’s presidency has been similarly underrated. Remember those bumper stickers in 1956. "Ben Hogan for president. If we are going to have a golfer, let’s have a good one.” Or the comment that Ike had a thirty-six hole workweek.

Eisenhower was a progressive conservative. In the United States today, that is a contradiction in terms. On fiscal matters Ike was militantly conservative. He insisted on a balanced budget and resisted deficit spending.

But he also recognized that government had a positive role to play. He firmly believed that "traditional American values” included progress and change.

When the economy turned down after the Korean War, Eisenhower launched the Interstate Highway Program. The program not only put people to work, but revolutionized the transportation system in the United States. The costs of the interstate system exceeded the total expenditures of the New Deal from 1933 to 1941. And the entire program was funded without impacting the Federal budget by simply increasing the tax on gasoline.

Eisenhower, together with Canada, constructed the St. Lawrence Seaway, a mammoth public works project opening the Great Lakes to ocean traffic.

Eisenhower expanded the Social Security system, adding 11 million self-employed persons and another five million domestics to the rolls. And he raised the minimum wage by 25%.

Eisenhower also took on Senator Joseph McCarthy, and restored the nation’s sanity after a decade of anti-Communist hysteria. He orchestrated the Army-McCarthy hearings that most of us watched in Whig-Clio, and at a crucial point during the hearings issued one of the most far-reaching executive orders ever promulgated prohibiting government employees from testifying before Congress. But he handled all of this indirectly and behind the scenes. (Fred Greenstein, The Hidden Hand President.)

Eisenhower’s appointments to the Federal judiciary led the way to racial equality in the United States. And it was not just Earl Warren and William Brennan to the Supreme Court, but the host of liberal Republican judges that Ike appointed to the 5th Circuit in the South who were in the vanguard of the civil rights struggle.

Perhaps Eisenhower’s most notable judicial appointment was that of John Marshall Harlan II to the Supreme Court, just after the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Harlan was the grandson of the great Justice John Marshall Harlan—who had been the only dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous segregation case ("separate but equal”) in 1896. By naming Harlan to the Supreme Court, Eisenhower was sending a message to the South that was unmistakable.

Grant and Eisenhower made mistakes. In Grant’s case it involved excessive loyalty to friends, some of whom were proved corrupt. In Eisenhower’s case, it involved an excessive concern for Communist political penetration and a willingness to listen too uncritically to the CIA. The coups in Guatemala and Iran trace to that, as does the U-2 flight of Francis Gary Powers on the eve of the Paris Summit in 1959.

Finally, let me say that all three, Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower, had an almost perfect command of the English language, and Grant and Eisenhower proved to be great writers. Grant’s memoirs, written as he was dying of cancer, are generally considered the finest military memoirs ever written, and Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe, which he wrote without editorial help, is easily the best memoir to emerge from World War II.

Finally, let me say this has been a great treat for me to speak to classmates after sixty years. I think for all of us Princeton was an experience we will never forget. I learned that the week has seven days. Shortly after we arrived in 1950, I decided that of the 750 people in our class, 749 were smarter than I was. The only way I was going to survive was to work harder than they. So I started working on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a habit I have continued. I get up every morning, seven days a week, at 5:30, get to my desk at 7:30, and work until 12:30. Hopefully, that will allow me to finish my next book, which is on the Liberation of Paris in 1944.

James Baker: The Need for Civility in an Uncivil World

The following is a speech that Secretary Baker recently gave to a group at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Houston, TX. 

I have been asked to speak tonight about the need for civility in an uncivil world.

It is a complicated question, one that robustly challenges Christians because it puts us directly in the crosshairs of a critical theological question: How do we reconcile our Christian desire to confront what we consider wrongdoing in the world with Our Lord's endorsement of tolerance toward others?

Further, it is a complicated question at a time when many of our values are being challenged by today's culture. Basic Judeo-Christian values that were generally accepted during the first two hundred years in America are now being questioned. How do we deal with this situation?

As I consider my response, I want to make it clear that I'm no theologian and this question is probably above my paygrade! But I am a former public servant, an attorney, a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather who is now in my 88th year. And I suspect that the some of the same things that have become apparent to me are also apparent to many of you here tonight.

The world, it seems is going through a tectonic transformation -- one that brings tremendous opportunities. And with them, great risks.

In many ways, the future looks brighter than ever. Technology and science are marching at the fastest paces connect us with one another around the world. Mankind will be heading to Mars by 2030. And long before then, most of us will have self-driving cars. Our health is better than ever before. Globally, we are living twice as long today as we did less than century ago. And the average life expectancy continues to rise.

Wealth, meanwhile, is spreading around the globe as more and more countries adopt America's successful paradigms of democratic governance and free-market economics. Last year, the World Bank announced that a smaller percentage of the world's population lived below the extreme poverty line than at any other time in recorded history.

And if you can pull your attention away from the constant deluge of negative news, you might be surprised to learn that we are living in one of the most peaceful times during the past century. The annual global death rate due to war is down from an average of 22 deaths per 100,000 people during the Cold War years to 1.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2014, the latest year with complete numbers.

Yes, there are risks in the world today. Global climate change, nuclear proliferation and radical Islamic terrorism are three, to name just a few. And violence and economic disparity remain difficult challenges around the world. On balance, however, more people may be living in relative peace, better health and greater prosperity than during any other time in world history.

At the same time, sadly, our own country is going through a period of great civil unrest, perhaps the most toxic I have experienced in my life. The tenor of our national discourse is tinged with an aggressive anger and a virulent rhetoric that threatens our society. We seem to prefer arguing over statues and other symbols of the past rather than building projects for our future.

When you open the newspapers or watch television, it's sometimes hard not to cringe at the bankruptcy of our public debate. We hear shrill cries for the removal of the Jefferson Monument because that Founding Father owned slaves. We are scolded that "safe places" are needed on college campuses to protect our students from discussions they don't agree with.
America's national ideal of e pluribus unum-"out of many, one"-threatens to become a hollow slogan as jaded Americans constantly are confronted by tidal waves of animus from their televisions and smartphones.

The practice of identity politics increasingly divided us along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual identity. Countless demagogues stand ready to exploit those differences. When a sports reporter of Asian heritage is removed from his assignment because his name -- Robert Lee -- resembles the name of Robert E. Lee, it shows the insanity of the principal of "political correctness."

The one thing that has united us in the past has been love of country, patriotism and respect for our flag and our national anthem. Now, it seems, some believe it is ok to disrespect those symbols in order to call attention to grievances they hold. Obviously, they have a constitutional right to do that. But doing so risks unraveling what in the past has unified us.

Symbolic of our national anger is the partisan animosity between Republicans and Democrats that has brought Washington to a standstill. We can't seem to get anything done because our government isn't working for us.

These divisions are real. In our national politics, and particularly in Washington maintaining lines of civil and constructive communication seems increasingly more difficult.

There are, of course, several reasons for our hyper-partisan political environment:

First, there is a redistricting process that pushes congressional districts to the fringes of the political spectrum. As result, the reasonable center is being squeezed out of our politics. The art of compromise is now missing from our polity.

Second, there is the simple fact that we live in a fairly evenly divided red-state, blue-state country, with the two sides seeing the world through vastly different prisms. The problems confronting a Democrat on Chicago's South Side are different than the ones facing a Texas Panhandle Republican.

Third, our rapidly developing social media lowers our national debate into an angry brawl. Through social media, people throw the wildest allegations against the wall to see which ones stick. Further, the spreading of fake news via social media undermines real news, and creates a jaundiced society that doesn't know who or what to believe.

And fourth and finally, the press no longer objectively reports facts but rather acts as an advocate and player in our political debate. If you watch FOX, you think you're watching the house organ of the Republican Party. And if you watch MSNBC, you know you're watching the house organ of the Democratic Party.

So what can we do to revive the type of bipartisanship that is necessary for our government to accomplish anything for the American people?

In Washington, it will take leadership in both parties! Republicans and Democrats will have to, once again, work together and compromise if they want to get things done. But all Americans must also shoulder some of the responsibility. Each of us needs to look inside our own heart.

The harshness of our political debate has been matched It is becoming uglier and more crass. The norms dictating decent behavior are eroding; and it seems that we've lost sight of the basic regard we owe our fellow men and women. Rather than blame others for our myriad of problems, we should recognize that in a democracy, no one side gets to make all of the rules.

Our country has survived and thrived for so long, in large part, because we have learned how to work together on important issues. Compromise in a democracy is essential. Our Founding Fathers differed on many issues, but they worked out compromises to define our core principles that still hold today. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, when thinking about our role in society today, it's important to ask ourselves, "What Would Jesus Do?" How did Jesus respond to the chaos of the day and the lifestyles that were antithetical to his morals? He looked at people with hope, whoever they were. And all were invited to follow him -- the good Jew AND the hated Samaritan. He says in the book of John, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Jesus didn't focus on the political upheaval of the day, but on each individual's heart. He calls us to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear that our neighbor is not just someone we agree with. Our neighbor is everyone with whom we have contact. He teaches us NOT to judge others, but to examine our own hearts and repent of our wrongdoing.

Jesus challenges us to love our enemies, to do good for them, and to forgive those who have wronged us. He cautions that if we aren't willing to forgive others, God can't forgive us.

In politics, compromise is essential. But being a practicing Christian requires us to be respectful of our neighbor even when compromise is not possible. Working hard for our political beliefs and values is very important, but it is more important to never lose sight of walking in the light of Jesus.

Thankfully, we have been given the Good News that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and we have also been given prayer as the way to live. We are continually told to pray in both the Old and the New Testaments. In II Chronicles it says, "If my people who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

We have work to do in the civic arena, but we also have much work to do in our hearts if our land is to be healed. When we look at our world in the context of our faith, we could despair if we didn't know about God's grace and mercy. The bottom line for us Christians, however, is that we are called to show grace and mercy--even to our philosophical opponents--just as we ourselves are shown mercy.

And so, when someone makes a point, listen to it, regardless of how incorrect it may seem to you. Don't discount people just because you don't agree with what they say. Or the way they look. Or where they live. Listening is an important part of learning about one another. And in this country, we need to do more of that, and do less of the screeching that too many people today think passes as discourse.

During the six weeks since Hurricane Harvey hammered the area, Houston has demonstrated many of the attributes I've been talking about. In the midst of the biggest crisis our community has ever experienced, we stopped being Democrat or Republican . . . rich or poor . . . black, white, or brown . . . Christian, Muslim, or Jew.
Instead, we've all been Houstonians -- first, and foremost. With the single focus of restoring and healing our community, we've prayed for one another, we've helped one another and we've looked out for one another. This dynamic and broad-gauged response by Houstonians has been simply remarkable. And it is precisely what we need nationally.

Yes, we have many differences among us here in Houston -- just as we do in Texas and across the nation. But in the end, we are all Americans living in the very finest country in the world -- the country everyone wants to come to, and no one wants to leave. Realizing and respecting that phenomenon is what unifies us when times get tough.

It SHOULD unify us ALL the time.


PATRICIA and ROBERT FOULKE [Special to The Post-Star, Jul 19, 2015]
Editor’s note: Patricia and Robert Foulke visited 131 retirement communities and gathered information from each as a way to help make their decision when the time comes. The following is the first part of a series looking at retirement communities. [Additional parts will be posted in the coming weeks, and saved on the Class Forum page for future reference.]

As people enter the later stages of their lives, that choice lurking below the surface of daily living becomes more prominent.
Let’s begin by saying that we would rather stay right where we are and age in place. We’ve heard the old saw from friends and acquaintances: "They’re going to have to carry me out of here feet first.”
But staying put may not be the best for us or others. This article, and those that follow, are designed to help all of us approach that choice with knowledge and clear, hard questions.
We first encountered the choice several decades ago with a favorite aunt and uncle. They told us they were going to leave their lovely home in the woods surrounding the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and move into a retirement community. As we flew down to help them, we wondered why they were moving from a place they loved into an unknown.
Now we know why. As sensible people, they were thinking ahead to a time when their healthy bodies might begin to decline. They realized that someday they might not be able to care for themselves or each other.
Yet the choice to move is not an easy one for most people to make. We have strong ties to our communities, our neighbors and friends, organizations, churches, doctors, and the houses where we have raised families and carved out much of the value in our lives. So why not age in place as many of our parents did?
Leading Age is the national professional organization representing not-for-profit retirement communities. Continuing Care at Home has local organizations in 22 states, and more than 70 percent of its member retirement communities are involved in outreach to residents of their surrounding towns or cities. 
We belong to Aging in Place Glens Falls, a cooperative network of residents who help each other with tasks they can no longer do independently, from driving to home repair. Founded in 2008 by a group of individuals who wanted to remain in their homes as long as possible, it now has about 80 members from Glens Falls and surrounding communities.
Hanging on to a comfortable place and familiar friends or jumping into a new community is a bit like deciding on your first dive off a high board. Some compare it to going to camp or choosing a college, but both are temporary moves. This one is intended to be permanent, demanding knowledge and careful analysis.
Since 1995, we have visited 130 retirement communities, mostly in Atlantic seaboard states. When friends began asking us what we had found out, the study for our own use evolved into a writing project to share with others.
To get a clearer focus, we concentrated on continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) — those that offer independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.
Without knowing it, we had embarked on a journey of discovery.
We begin this series with the toughest questions: Why move, where, and when? Two following articles will explore the structure, ownership, financial stability, and costs associated with retirement communities from a consumer’s point of view. A fourth will survey available retirement communities to consider in or near our region.

An issue of health Potential health issues are often the first concern as seniors consider a move. There is no crystal ball to tell us when we might have a mental or physical failing. Forgetting where the keys are or why we walked into a room or the name of an acquaintance are part of aging. But if we are no longer able to take the right medications from their bottles or can’t remember what we did yesterday, we may need help. 
Parts of our bodies may not function as they used to. Walking may be slower and unsteady. We no longer want to climb ladders up to the roof to clear gutters. We may have more trouble and less interest in completing other seasonal chores around the house and yard. We may notice an increasing lack of endurance and a longer process of regaining muscle strength after a lapse in exercise. The plan and location of our house may no longer be suitable as we age. With kids gone, it may be larger than we need. Living in a house with stairs may become a challenge. In the North Country, many of us live in areas without the public transportation needed when we can no longer drive. 
Subtle psychological shifts also creep up on many of us as we age. We look forward to simplifying daily living and slowing down a bit. 
With obligations removed, we begin to own and value days more, especially because we know there are more behind us than ahead. Instead of making a list of chores to do, we’d rather begin each day by planning what we want to do. 
As we visited retirement communities, residents were eager to tell us why they value their new lives. "I was tired of living alone. I had a big house and was tired of keeping it up,” said Aileen at The Glen at Hiland Meadows in Queensbury. Life in a retirement community is enriched with cultural, social and wellness activities that are all in one place rather than scattered throughout the town. Residents have time to read those books that stacked up for years. They can pursue a lifelong interest in woodworking or painting, gardening or weaving. The array of activities in wellness programs brings many benefits to residents. Exercise rooms and pools are close at hand and easy to use. "I take my electric cart and zip along to water aerobics five days a week,” said Betta at Meadow Lakes in Hightstown, New Jersey. Lectures, concerts, films, and continuing education classes on campus stimulate thought and conversation. Community projects generated by residents bring them together and create a sense of achievement. All of these benefits promote longevity. 
There’s new freedom and mobility reminiscent of college years. It pleases those who look forward to retirement as a time for travel, as well as snowbirds and those who own vacation homes. With no house and yard to take care of or worry about, they can simply turn the key and take off. Residents in retirement communities welcome new arrivals, and social calendars can be filled with communal events and parties. Friendships develop as those with similar interests pursue them. We met a businessman who had never painted in his life until he took up brushes in a class on site. Now the walls of his new home are filled with scenes along the Maine coast.

The Kendal Corporation, an early pioneer and continuing leader in the development of continuing care retirement communities, stresses the value of change. Many residents feel the warmth of a second family living all around them. Recently we met Richard Barry, who wrote "Experiencing Woodland Pond” after moving several years ago to the Woodland Pond community in New Paltz. "I fell in love with its natural setting, its amenities, its programs, and more importantly, its residents and professional staff,” said Barry.

Older people seldom welcome the prospect of moving away from familiar scenes and changing comfortable habits. But for some, the adjustments end up being easy. Others waffle. Delaying too long can endanger a person’s ability to make the major choices in her own life. An accident or stroke can put the choice in the hands of those who may not know the options or how we would have judged them. We have seen children make mistakes when a move for a mother or father must be made quickly. Many parents see taking responsibility for that choice in advance as a gift to their children.


If we have decided moving into a retirement community is wiser than staying put, we need to move on to other choices. Many people like to remain in or near their local community with familiar friends, continuing activities, and a stable connection to their church and doctors. Typically, more than half of the residents in retirement communities come from within 30 or 40 miles.  Those living around the periphery of major cities like Philadelphia have an abundance of choices. They have the dual advantage of keeping one foot in their old lives while putting the other in a new, fresh community. Locally, residents of a community like the Glen at Hiland Meadows in Queensbury, also have those advantages.

Others like to return to the place they remember as home when they were children. But this can be a romantic notion built on memories half a century old, and people who act on it court disappointment. When we were growing up in Minneapolis, our parents would drive us out to the edge of the city on Sunday afternoons to buy fresh vegetables from active farms. Now the friendly city with a small-town culture has exploded into a major metropolis, gobbling up all the farms. Driving is a nightmare. Some of our old friends in Minneapolis have moved away and built lives elsewhere, as we have. Others have become snowbirds to escape the city�s winters. Regrettably, many have died. Trying to re-create a former life after many decades of change is a bit like chasing rainbows.

Adventurous retirees may choose to move to a new place with lakes, seashore, mountains or a much warmer climate. If you are a sailor, paddler, hiker or skier, moving near the sport you love has great appeal � but remember that as you age your ability to participate can wane or disappear. Others choose historic towns like Williamsburg, Virginia; or college towns for their wealth of performing arts, museums and opportunities for continuing education. At some colleges, you can audit courses, and others will bring lecturers to your community. It�s an easy way to keep your brain alive. "It�s warm and friendly here, and you can listen to lectures from University of North Carolina professors,� said Ann at Carol Woods in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Many people move to live near their children, both for support in making decisions and frequent contact. But unless the children have work rooted in the community, they may end up moving themselves, across the country or the world. There are other questions to ask yourself before moving to a retirement community near children: How much free time do your children have? Are you expecting more frequent contact than they can manage? How would you relate to the surrounding town or city?

It is prudent, too, to consider the cost of living in any new location. Are taxes and inheritance laws more or less favorable? If most of the people in the retirement community came from the surrounding town or city, with long-term relationships intact, will you feel out of place? Are you willing to make new friends based on common interests, hobbies, or sports?


Residents of retirement communities unanimously support one simple principle: Move when you want to, not when you have to. Bill Thomas, a gerontologist at the Eden Alternative Movement, put it more graphically: "Dig the well before you’re thirsty.”
Planning ahead for the possibility of a move puts the choice in your hands. Your choice of living quarters in a retirement community is seldom available instantly. Most people put their names on one or more waiting lists for various apartments or cottages. Waiting lists create no obligation and the fee is refundable. Many give you some rights on campus that help you to evaluate your choice. You can get to know residents by having dinner and attending events there.
Move while you are healthy enough to downsize and make the transition. Residents have warned us that making a change requires an adjustment but also creates an opportunity for growth and revitalization. Don’t wait until you begin to have serious health issues. Some communities require you to qualify medically at the time of your actual move. Assess your health and situation realistically.
When you visit, don’t just look at independent living, which usually takes up most of the living space at continuing care retirement communities. Ask to walk through higher levels of care, including assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.


We had thought we could move to a retirement community by just picking one we liked — until we began visiting them. Then we realized we did not know enough to make one of the most important decisions of our lives.  So we set about learning. When we decided to share what we had learned, what had started as a personal project seemed overwhelming. We staked out the territory people living in Atlantic seaboard states might explore when looking for a retirement community.  
Like birds on the flyway above, many of us tend to move with the seasons through territory stretching from Maine to Florida. Since 1995, we have visited 130 retirement communities within that north-south swath, focusing on those that provide a continuum of care on a single campus.
What is a CCRC?
A Continuing Care Retirement Community is a complex organization. It provides apartments and cottages for independent living, usually serving two-thirds to three-quarters of the residents. Add to that assisted living apartments for those who need help with daily activities, and more apartments for those who need memory or skilled nursing care.  
Then consider the facilities — a number of restaurants, clinics and staff for varied levels of health care, meeting rooms, auditoriums, exercise rooms, perhaps a pool, craft shops, gardens and walking trails. Making all this work requires management and staff that usually outnumbers the residents.  
These communities allow residents to move from one level of care to another without upheaval. Spouses who do not require extra care continue to live in a couple’s original apartment or cottage, close by.  
CCRC "Look-Alikes”
Under New York’s health care law, CCRC’s must conform to all provisions of Article 46 if they offer life care contracts, or 46A if they offer fee-for-service contracts. Some retirement communities that have all levels of care — independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing — but do not meet one or more provisions of the applicable law are called "look-alikes.”As a result, there are only 13 registered CCRCs in New York state, while they are more abundant in neighboring Massachusetts with 30 and Pennsylvania with 89.  
Residents of retirement communities unanimously support one simple principle: Move when you want to, not when you have to.  Bill Thomas, a gerontologist at the Eden Alternative Movement, put it more graphically: "Dig the well before you’re thirsty.”  
Planning ahead for the possibility of a move puts the choice in your hands. Your choice of living quarters in a retirement community is seldom available instantly.  Most people put their names on one or more waiting lists for various apartments or cottages. Waiting lists create no obligation and the fee is refundable. Many give you some rights on campus that help you to evaluate your choice. You can get to know residents by having dinner and attending events there.  
Move while you are healthy enough to downsize and make the transition.  Residents have warned us that making a change requires an adjustment but also creates an opportunity for growth and revitalization.  Don’t wait until you begin to have serious health issues. Some communities require you to qualify medically at the time of your actual move. Assess your health and situation realistically.
When you visit, don’t just look at independent living, which usually takes up most of the living space at continuing care retirement communities. Ask to walk through higher levels of care, including assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.

Other factors

Chasing the sun: After the rigors of last winter, many local residents vowed to spend their retirement years in winter sun. That works — there are many good retirement communities available — but has complications without a house or cottage here to fly back to. Southern summers are hot and humid. And many snowbirds end up returning north if they have strong ties to family and friends in this region.

Location, location, location: The surrounding topography matters for many of us. We love the lake and mountains visible from our windows. Others find the shore and ocean beaches appealing. Some people favor a rural setting or a college town for access to culture. Others insist on living in the outskirts of a city or near its center to bring shopping and entertainment within walking distance.

Architecture and grounds: Consider your preferences and needs. Do you want an earth-hugging cottage or a high rise with a view? Are the apartments in a central, connected complex or scattered in separate buildings? Some people want space and woods with ponds, while others want to be close to common rooms and restaurants.

Too small, too big: The number of residents in independent living shapes the internal culture of a community. Those with fewer than 150 residents are likely to have strong communication and wide friendships but may lack the capital for wellness centers and pools. Those with more than 400 residents can afford more facilities but may be impersonal.

Those with more than 1,000 residents tend to resemble towns rather than tightly knit communities.

Varieties of Assisted Living: Assisted living was once a clear reference to housing built around the need for help in the activities of daily living. Now, increasingly, it comes in varieties with different levels of care. In New York, for example, moving from the least to the most care, there are different licenses for enriched housing, assisted living, enhanced assisted living, and special needs certification for Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and cognitive impairment.

Internal services: Most communities have several restaurants, exercise rooms, an auditorium, meeting rooms, mail service, a bank, a library, a computer room, a general shop, a barber shop and beauty parlor, craft rooms and workshops, in addition to a clinic and health care services. Many have a pool large enough for laps and water aerobics, a greenhouse, raised gardens, fields for lawn games, and outdoor walking trails.

Dining plans: Traditional plans include one or more meals in the monthly fee. Some plans require using these credits each month, while others are more flexible. Newer plans provide residents with a dollar allowance to use as they please. Sometimes residents have a choice between more formal dining rooms and cafeterias without a dress code. Check menus for variety and come to as many meals as you can to judge their quality.

Parking and transportation: In snow country, you will want to know if a garage or underground parking spot is available. If not, most communities clear the snow from your car and move it for plowing. They have vans and buses to take you to shopping, entertainment, cultural events, medical appointments, and trips to regional historical sites.

Filling your days: All communities have a wealth of activities. Typically, they include performances, lectures, arts and crafts groups, painting and sculpting classes, writing groups, computer assistance and special interest groups like astronomy, history, or investing. Many communities are linked to the Osher Life Long Learning network or local colleges and universities. Most also have standard recreational fare for exercise and amusement — table tennis, bocce ball, croquet, wii bowling, pool, billiards, yoga, water aerobics, nature walks, movies, bridge, mah-jongg, bingo, scrabble and crossword puzzles.

Wellness programs: Most communities stress preventive care in their exercise programs, lectures, and dining information. In recent years, more comprehensive wellness programs integrate emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being for the whole person.

Role of residents: First, check their role in governance. Look for a strong residents association. Ask about its relationship to management and the board of trustees. Find out how often it meets, what its committees consider, and how it connects with the executive director in recommending decisions. Second, find out how much initiative comes from the residents. Ask whether they generate ideas for new projects or better ways of managing existing programs. For example, several communities have written, edited and published books of residents’ memories of World War II.

Track internal culture: This is the most important factor in making a choice and the hardest to determine from the outside. Check the geographical spread of residents, their former walks of life (not wealth, which levels out), their range of interests. You need to visit frequently and for longer spells to determine how you would fit into this culture and how much you would enjoy it.


What looks like a simple question — whether you can afford to move into a retirement community — is really quite complicated. You have to balance the rising costs of staying home against the increasing monthly fees in the retirement community.

Your real estate taxes and other house expenses will grow if you stay home. But monthly fees at a retirement community will be adjusted upward annually, usually between 3 and 5 percent, based on inflation and expanded services. Determining what you can afford requires looking at both the cost of the retirement community and your own income, assets and debts.

From our experience, this process takes work. Undertake it when you have decided that moving to a retirement community might be a good option. Then choose one or two communities you like and ask for disclosure statements that include financial information. In many states, nonprofits are required to make these statements available to prospective residents, but for-profits have no obligation to do so.

Looking at the money

To assess the financial stability of a retirement community, begin by looking at its statement of financial position. Assets minus liabilities establish net worth or equity. Entry fees count as liabilities, because they obligate the community for future services, as do debts incurred for construction or renovation.

Next, look at a statement of profit or loss during the community’s fiscal year. Although nonprofits have no obligations for payouts, a string of losses curtails their ability to build reserves for future needs. Check the annual audit and look for any remarks on the community’s fiscal procedures, investment policies and general financial health.

Pay special attention to the history of increases in monthly fees and any projected increases. Also, check occupancy rates over the past few years, including reasons for anything under 85 percent, unless the community is new and developing. The number of people on waiting lists is another indicator of future occupancy rates.

Beyond financial statements, you can sometimes get information about the financial status of retirement communities from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

Full disclosure statements usually contain a wealth of other information. Look for information about the community’s age and history, sponsoring organization, current directors or owners and their financial roles. Also look for connections to the surrounding town, including plans for long-range development and donor programs.

For a wealth of information about retirement communities, check the Commission on Accreditation (www.carf.org/aging/public) and the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (www.carf-ccac/consumerguide), which joined CARF in 2003.

Contracts with retirement communities are complex legal documents, some with long-term care commitments and consequences for your estate. They deserve careful study. Before signing one, it is wise to consult both your financial adviser and a lawyer with elder care knowledge and experience.


When you have a clear idea of the retirement community’s financial condition, turn to your own finances. Calculate what you can afford by analyzing monthly income, assets, and debts. Add estimated proceeds from the sale of your house to assets after subtracting a real estate agent’s commission and other fees. A recent bank appraisal for a line of credit based on your house will give you a conservative estimate of its value. Or you can turn to a real estate agent’s estimate for an up-to-date asking price that fits current market conditions.

With net monthly income, be sure to add in any deductions that will disappear (mortgage and payments to an escrow account for real estate taxes). Many retirement communities give prospective residents comparison charts to help them calculate what they will not have to pay each month. To use a chart realistically, average the amounts you paid each month for regular expenses during the preceding year. Then add up the costs of major house repairs and maintenance (a new roof or furnace), either already paid or anticipated, over 10 years to get an average monthly cost.

Essentially, retirement communities provide maintenance-free living. By adding up all the home-owning expenses that disappear, you will get an idea of how far your monthly income will stretch to meet the community’s monthly service fees. The next step is estimating how much those fees are likely to rise, using the community’s past history. Beyond that, try to project the outer limits of your life expectancy and your spouse’s, based on age, health and family history, to reach a hypothetical number of years you might have to pay for.

Many communities with life-care contracts and some others will run your financial information through a computer program to help calculate what you can afford. Assumptions about future monthly fee increases, the number of years you will need to plan for, and the potential return on the sale of your home are built into such programs. However, all those figures are subject to change, so it is important that the financial officer of the community consult with you about your particular circumstances.

Finally, consider extra expenses if you need additional care, both in your home and in a retirement community. That requires careful analysis of your basic medical insurance and any additional major medical, veterans or long-term care coverage. Check with local information sources and services for the costs of bringing various types of care into your home and going elsewhere in the community for it. Additional costs for assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing are established in price sheets for continuing care retirement communities.

What looks like a simple question — whether you can afford to move into a retirement community — is really quite complicated. You have to balance the rising costs of staying home against the increasing monthly fees in the retirement community.

Your real estate taxes and other house expenses will grow if you stay home. But monthly fees at a retirement community will be adjusted upward annually, usually between 3 and 5 percent, based on inflation and expanded services. Determining what you can afford requires looking at both the cost of the retirement community and your own income, assets and debts.

From our experience, this process takes work. Undertake it when you have decided that moving to a retirement community might be a good option. Then choose one or two communities you like and ask for disclosure statements that include financial information. In many states, nonprofits are required to make these statements available to prospective residents, but for-profits have no obligation to do so.

When you join a waiting list for a retirement community, you specify an interest in one or more types of apartment or cottage. You may also indicate the time period during which you want to move, either narrowly or broadly. Joining the waiting list requires a fee, usually modest ($1,000 to $2,000) but sometimes more substantive. The fee is almost always refundable, apart from a small administrative segment, whenever you are no longer interested.

Costs for a Chosen Community

When a residence that fits your request and time frame becomes available, you will be called. It is important to know what will happen to your priority if you decide to pass for any reason. Some communities will bump you to the bottom of the priority list after two or three refusals while others will leave you in place.

With the signing of a contract, all or part of the entry fee becomes due. Looking at the highest entry fees sometimes convinces people that they cannot afford a retirement community, but that is deceptive. Depending on the type of contract, entry fees have different inclusions and are partly or even fully refundable if you leave the community.

In the early years of continuing care retirement communities, the value of the traditional entry fee declined 2 percent each month for 50 months, reaching zero — meaning no refund for those who leave — in just over four years.

Now, in our visits we have found every percentage of refund, from 50 to 100 percent, with usually two or three options available at any community. It is also important to understand the timing of refunds, since many contracts require re-occupation of the living quarters by a new resident to trigger it, while others specify a time limit. In either case, you are expected to continue paying monthly fees in the interval.

Life care (Type A) entry fees are the most expensive because they include unlimited long-term care purchased in one lump sum. If you already have long-term care insurance, many communities will offer you a modified life care contract (Type B) to merge your coverage with their partial coverage. These contracts usually specify the number of days of health care allowed each year without additional cost and whether unused days are cumulative. In all Type A and B contracts, the resident usually pays the modest cost of additional meals in health care.

When evaluating the higher entry fees for life care, remember that a good chunk of it, often between 35 and 40 percent, is deductible as medical expense on income tax returns. That deduction also applies to monthly fees paid throughout the year.

Fee-for-service (Type C) contracts usually have the lowest (or occasionally no) entrance fee, because you pay an additional amount for all services beyond independent living. Sometimes, the contracts guarantee lifetime residence, with or without priority for health care. In recent years, a growing number of fee-for-service contracts provide an optional life care add-on for an upfront payment. Surprisingly, the ones we have seen cost considerably less than $100,000 and are based on estimated health care costs rather than the size of your residence.

Pure rental (Type D) contracts, either monthly or annual, carry no priority for any available health care. They have no entry fee, but a security deposit or redecorating fee may be required. Equity or co-op (Type E) contracts provide either ownership of a residence or a share in the co-op, as well as voting rights for the conduct of its business. The entry fee is replaced by the cost of the residence. Any available health care is on a fee-for-service basis. The normal taxes, deductions and risks of home ownership apply. Usually the co-op sets the price range to maintain consistency of value when you want to sell.

The general principles of all real estate markets apply to continuing care and other retirement communities. The relative value of surrounding properties in the neighborhood, town and region will be reflected in the entry fee and have some influence on monthly fees. And both the entry fee and monthly fees are based on the square footage of the apartment or cottage. That means calculating what you can afford in any chosen retirement community will be determined by the size of residence you choose.

Time to choose your retirement community

This final article in the series explores a number of retirement communities within a reasonable distance from Glens Falls that have substantial independent living quarters. It does not include nursing homes or institutions primarily for assisted living or memory care. Many of the retirement communities focused on independent living do include one or more of those additional care components and some have all.

We must abandon a common but false expectation, that such communities can be ranked from best to worst. Best for whom? The best choice has to fit your interests, lifestyle and personality.

The sponsor listed for each community is the controlling association or corporation. Whether not-for-profit or for-profit, these entities share the mission of providing comfortable and attractive living quarters and services for seniors.

Allow half a day for a visit, which normally includes an interview, a tour of the community center, other facilities and living quarters. If the community has levels of care beyond independent living (assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing), ask for the tour to include them. Stay for a lunch or dinner if you can to sample the food service and quality. If you like what you see, ask how you can talk to some residents and return to become more familiar with the community.

This final article in the series explores a number of retirement communities within a reasonable distance from Glens Falls that have substantial independent living quarters. It does not include nursing homes or institutions primarily for assisted living or memory care. Many of the retirement communities focused on independent living do include one or more of those additional care components and some have all.

We must abandon a common but false expectation, that such communities can be ranked from best to worst. Best for whom? The best choice has to fit your interests, lifestyle and personality.

The sponsor listed for each community is the controlling association or corporation. Whether not-for-profit or for-profit, these entities share the mission of providing comfortable and attractive living quarters and services for seniors.

Allow half a day for a visit, which normally includes an interview, a tour of the community center, other facilities and living quarters. If the community has levels of care beyond independent living (assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing), ask for the tour to include them. Stay for a lunch or dinner if you can to sample the food service and quality. If you like what you see, ask how you can talk to some residents and return to become more familiar with the community.

See Class Forum page for more details on some of the specific communities visited by the Foulkes.

University President Chris Eisgruber sent the following report regarding the Woodrow Wilson legacy issue:

Last fall, a trustee committee began examining how Princeton should recognize Woodrow Wilson’s legacy. The committee convened in the wake of a student protest at Nassau Hall that called attention to Wilson’s racism. It has now issued a report, which the Board of Trustees has approved. The report is thorough and perceptive, guided by humane values, and candid in its recognition of this University’s failings and of the importance of making a "renewed and expanded commitment to diversity and inclusion at Princeton.” I concur fully with the committee’s analysis and recommendations, and I hope that all Princetonians will read its report and the news release about it.

I anticipated that the Princeton community would deliberate thoughtfully about Wilson’s legacy and that the Board would decide wisely. The process surpassed my high expectations. I want to express my appreciation to Brent Henry ’69, who chaired the special trustee committee, and to all of its members for ensuring that all Princetonians had an opportunity to register their opinions, for listening with care, and for weighing judiciously all of the considerations relevant to the issues before them. I am also grateful to the more than 600 alumni, faculty, staff, and students who submitted online comments, and to all who participated in the open forum and the eleven in-person meetings that the trustee committee held during January and February. Finally, I would like to thank the nine distinguished historians who contributed scholarly letters assessing Wilson’s legacy at Princeton and as president of the United States.

Last fall’s student protests and the thoughtful discussions that followed have changed how this campus will remember Woodrow Wilson and, I suspect, how our country will remember him as well. Over the past few months, many Princetonians remarked to me that they had little knowledge of Wilson’s racism. I count myself among those who have learned from this process. I now have a deeper appreciation for Wilson’s failings and for what those failings have meant to this country and our campus. While I continue to admire Wilson’s many genuine accomplishments, I recognize the need to describe him in a way that is more balanced, and more faithful to history, than this University and I have previously done.

The trustee committee’s report emphasizes, and I agree wholeheartedly, that our most significant and enduring challenges pertain to enhancing the diversity and inclusivity of our community. Princeton’s educational and research mission requires that we attract, welcome, and embrace talented individuals from every background and sector of society. We must strive energetically and imaginatively to make this campus a place where all of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni can feel fully at home.

The trustee report makes several specific recommendations to help us achieve these goals. My colleagues and I will begin implementing them immediately, along with other initiatives already underway. Inclusivity is an important priority for Princeton and for me personally, and it will remain so throughout my time as this University’s president.

The issues facing Princeton reflect the particulars of its history and culture, but they have analogues on other campuses, and indeed in the country and the world more broadly. The quest to achieve genuine equality and inclusivity is one of our society’s greatest and most profound challenges. I am confident that Princeton can be a leader in meeting that challenge, and I look forward to working with all of you to do so.

Christopher Eisgruber ’83, President
April 4, 2016 [Posted April 19]

On March 30, 2019 the Class of '52 Executive Committee sent the following to the Committee established to examine the legacy of President Woodrow Wilson as it relates to the University:


March 30, 2016

To The Special Committee to Review the Wilson Legacy

Board of Trustees of Princeton University

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing this letter at the request of the Executive Committee of this Class to express our views on the Wilson legacy, based on action at the Committee’s meeting on February 19, 2016. We understand that your Committee has asked the varied constituencies of the Princeton Community to express their views on this subject. These are the views of the Committee and not of the Class as a whole.

At the beginning we want to express our firm opposition to racism, whether the overt form or the unconscious form discussed in the book "Whistling Vivaldi” which President Eisgruber recommended for reading by incoming freshmen last fall. We urgently look forward to the end of racism in this country.

When our Class arrived at Princeton in the fall of 1948 it did not include any women and probably did not include any African Americans. Most of us probably harbored some race prejudice. We were products of our time. However our racial attitudes differed greatly from those of Wilson. He was a product of his times as we were of ours. His views of African Americans were deplorable, but they were typical of those held then by a majority of white Americans. Those views were also held by those in the Southern Presbyterian Church of which Wilson’s father was a minister and leader. One Wilson biographer explains his racial blindness partly by mentioning the views of Southern Presbyterianism. John Milton Cooper, Jr., "Woodrow Wilson, a Biography”, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, see pp. 20-23, and 408-411. Wilson thus should be judged by the views of those he respected in his day rather than by views today..

You are considering obliterating from the campus physical evidence of Wilson’s legacy and also making inaccurate the name of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as in appears on its certificates which are held by many of our Classmates. We believe that in considering such action you should balance his racial views against the other parts of his legacy. First, he is generally credited as being responsible for changing the University from one with many limitations into a nationally renowned institution of higher learning. As one example, he started the preceptorial system. We treasure our memories of one of the best preceptors, who arrived in 1913 and stayed until we graduated, Professor Walter Phelps ("Buzzer”) Hall. That year our Class elected Prof. Hall as our first Honorary Class Member.

Second, after serving as Governor of New Jersey Wilson served two terms as President of the United States. During his first term he secured the enactment of more major reform laws than any president in a first term before or since. Then he led the nation in entering World War I and past an armistice to the Versailles Peace Treaty. Finally he fought to advance world peace through an international organization which led ultimately to the founding of the United Nations.

We believe that Wilson’s major historic contributions outweigh his deplorable racist views. Moreover the fact that Wilson did have two such inconsistent sides of his thinking furnishes a lesson to all students at Princeton about the nature of political leaders. And with his tragic flaw we can still be proud of Woodrow Wilson.

We urge you not to delete or modify any evidence of Wilson’s legacy from the campus or the University records.

Please consider these remarks as you decide this important matter.

Very truly yours,

J. Putnam Brodsky, MD, President

University President Chris Eisgruber sent the following in response to Class President Put Brodsky's email about the Anne-Marie Slaughter essay.
Posted January 23, 2016:

Dear Put,

Thank you so much for this note. First of all, let me say that the class of '52 has a beautiful website! I had not visited it previously, and it is terrific.

Thank you also for directing me to Anne-Marie Slaughter's essay, which has a great deal of wisdom in it. By now you may have seen my own comments published as a president's page in the Alumni Weekly; if not, they are here: http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2016/01/13/presidents-page/ The ground I cover is a bit different from what Anne-Marie discusses, but we converge on a fundamental point: as a university, we must be willing to discuss these difficult questions when they arise. We will be the stronger for our willingness to consider them.

I continue to believe that Wilson's name should remain on the School of Public and International Affairs and on the residential college. But I have myself have already learned a considerable amount from the discussion about his legacy, and I will talk differently about him in the future--continuing to recognize his very real achievements, but being open and transparent about his failings. That, I think, is the only way that
we can move forward as a community and, indeed, as a country.

Fifty-two is a marvelous class. Thank you again for reaching out, and for your leadership.

With best wishes,


The following OpEd piece, written by Richard Riordan and submitted by Phil May, was first printed in the Lost Angeles Times on December 27, 2013:

It isn't a sin to be rich. The wealthy, though, should focus more on job creation and philanthropy. December 27, 2013|By Richard Riordan and Eli Broad

· Is it a sin to be rich?

Not if your resources are used to help others and create jobs.

If you listen to most of the discussions of income inequality, it certainly seems like affluence itself is a crime. We hear increasing calls for higher taxes on the wealthy and other policies designed to redistribute income. President Obama summed up that position when he said, "Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it."

The assumption behind these proposals is that a minority of Americans has become rich by making a majority of our people poorer. In other words, it is seen as cause and effect. That's simply not the case.

We agree that the facts on income inequality are stark and disturbing. Since 1973, the gap between incomes earned by the rich and middle-class Americans has grown every year, increasing now at a higher rate. Meanwhile, the number of middle-class jobs has been reduced by global competition and automation.


But many of the factors driving this process aren't getting enough attention.

One is education. As Obama's nominee to chair the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, recently pointed out, "from 1973 to 2005, real hourly wages of those in the [top 10%] — where most people have college or advanced degrees — rose by 30% or more.... In contrast, at the 50th percentile and below — where many people have at most a high school diploma — real, inflation-adjusted wages rose by only 5% to 10%." And those without college degrees are much more likely to be unemployed.

In the new globalized economy, in which manufacturing is largely done offshore, many of the middle-class American jobs that don't require higher education have left the country. The good jobs that remain will increasingly require far more technological know-how. We need to be educating American workers to fill them.

We also need wealthy Americans to create those jobs. Start-ups in ventures that produce middle-class jobs require investments by those willing and able to take risks. Over the last five years, according to the Economist magazine, those start-ups have accounted for almost all of the net increase in new American jobs paying at least middle-class salaries.

And before demonizing the rich, it's important to consider the foundations and charities they have built and supported. Many of those with money take pride in using it to help others and to create jobs. That should be encouraged rather than discouraged with punitive taxes. Last year, despite the halting economic recovery, individual charitable contributions increased 3.9% to $228.93 billion, and most of that comes from the top 10%, according to an annual report on giving by Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Equally important, because today's philanthropists are applying the entrepreneurial lessons of their own careers to their giving, unprecedented results are being achieved in cutting-edge medical research, education reform and the fights against HIV and tropical and childhood diseases.

Americans are rightfully concerned about income inequality, but some of the "solutions" proposed wouldn't help much or would be counterproductive. Measures such as raising the minimum wage would help only a small number of workers. And while raising taxes on the wealthy might sound fair, it is likely to be counterproductive. When a succession of post-World War II Labor Party governments imposed high marginal tax rates and other income redistribution policies on Britain, it set off a well-documented brain and talent drain that benefited every other country in the English-speaking world.

When taxes rise to onerous levels, the wealthy move on, taking their investments, tax payments and philanthropic contributions with them. As Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Harvard's economic department, has pointed out: "Rich people can pretty much live anywhere. If you're a retired person trying to decide between Palm Beach and Santa Barbara, the tax difference between Florida and California is huge."


We are the only country in the developed world without large national labor or socialist parties, and it's unlikely that many Americans ever are going to be converted to the notion that it's sinful to be wealthy. What we all need to continue to believe, and to act on, is the conviction that it's wrong and socially destructive for the rich to forget those who still can use a hand up.

Rather than investing in hedge funds and other forms of financial speculation divorced from the real economy, more of the wealthy need to accept the responsibility of investing in job-creating enterprises. At the same time, they need to make educating the workers to fill those jobs a principle focus of their philanthropy.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan gives 50% of his annual income (including capital gains) to charities, mostly for the benefit of poor children. Eli Broad and his wife, Edye, have invested billions of dollars to improve K-12 schools, advance scientific and medical research and increase public access to contemporary art.

From: Put Brodsky
Posted December 29
I'm sending an article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, written recently about the black protest on campus regarding Wilson and racism, sent to me by a friend and fellow Princetonian, Mike Loprete, Class of '54. I think it's an excellent piece and right on point. It is also about Ta-Nehisi Coates and his bookBetween the World and Mewhich recently won the National Book Award and the black situation in this country. It is a very thoughtful article. Anne-Marie is the daughter of Edward R Slaughter, Jr, Class of '53. There is an impressive write-up about her from Princeton on Google.
My best, Put

-- 0 --

Anne-Marie Slaughter -Former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School commenting on the issues.November 22

On Ta-Nehisi Coates, Campus Protests, and Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School

Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award this week for Between the World and Me. Had he not, I would have doubted the process of selection forevermore. When I read the book earlier this year, I had no doubt that it was one of the most important and powerful books I would ever read in my lifetime, for both literary and political reasons. Indeed, it sent me to James Baldwin, whom I realized to my shame I had never actually read. I am halfway through The Fire Next Time now, which also contains a letter to a younger black man – the device that structures all of Between the World and Me. Both books focus on the daily degradations black men and women, boys and girls experience in the United States. Both focus on the superiority that white Americans – or, as Coates point out, Americans who "think they are white,” since we are all actually of mixed race, presume is their birthright. We do not question that equality means creating the opportunity for others to be equal to us, never accepting even the possibility, as Coates puts it, that we, the "dreamers” of the American dream, "will have to learn to struggle [ourselves],” "to understand that [our] Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, that sees [black] bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos.”

Both books also focus on fear, the physical fear that is the lot of almost all African-Americans at some point in their lives – no matter how wealthy and well-educated they are. Coates writes over and over again about the body, the different relationship that African-Americans have with their bodies, knowing that their bodies are still, constantly, at risk. That fear, of course, is not limited to the boys or men actually confronting the police or security guards or anyone, meaning virtually everyone, with a gun. It permeates their entire families. I have written about my elder son’s encounters with the Princeton police and the turmoil that caused my husband and me. But at no point did we ever worry about our son’s physical safety. I have tried to put myself back in those years and to imagine what it would have been like to feel the strangling fear every time he was out that I might get a call from the police telling me not that they had picked him up but that he was dead. It paralyzes me even to think about it. Yet that is the reality that African-American parents, siblings, and spouses live with, as we now actually see on video after video.

But do we see it? Really see it? I gave a set of lectures at Yale this week on strategy, power, and leadership in a networked world. In talking about the power of connecting people, a very different power than that of commanding them, I spoke about the basic human drive for recognition, identified by philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, and evolutionary biologists as a fundamental part of what it means to be human. What each of us seeks, from the moment we can first identify ourselves in relation to other children to our twilight years when we resist renewed infantilization, is to be acknowledged by our fellow human beings as a person of equal dignity and value, even in the face of undeniable differences of talent, money, and luck. It is an emotional drive that must be satisfied before reason can kick in.
That is where the campus protests taking place over the past few weeks come in. The student screaming at Professor Nicholas Christakis, Head of Silliman College, was insisting on her right to be heard, really heard, as someone whose pain and anger are real and yet invisible even to an extremely liberal-minded and well-intentioned white man (a man, by the way, whose scholarship I admire). A powerful set of essays by three African-American Yale seniors published in The New Journal this week describe a Yale that their fellow white students simply do not see. The term "micro-aggressions” may sound hopelessly PC, but they are the many small moments that pile up – the interruptions, the different treatment, the turning first to a white person (or, from a woman’s perspective, a man), the slips of speech – to let someone know, constantly, that he or she is still an outsider. After all, New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote earlier this year about his son, a third-year student at Yale, who was accosted at gunpoint by a white campus police officer who thought he was a robbery suspect. That simply does not happen to white students, no matter what they are wearing. White police officers see white kids on a college campus and assume they are students.

Which brings me to Princeton. I was the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton for seven years. I became dean roughly thirty years after I graduated from Princeton as a Woodrow Wilson School major and fifty years after my father did the same – both of us deeply attracted by the ability to put together a multi-disciplinary set of courses and to work intensively on a set of important public problems through our junior and senior independent work. As dean I had plenty of occasion to think and talk about Woodrow Wilson’s racist past and what that meant for students of color in the school. We held panel discussions with historians and looked the ugly side of Wilson’s record as President – his appointment of racist cabinet members and re-segregation of the Federal civil service – full in the face. We talked about it at Students and Alumni of Color weekends.

My view then, as now, was that erasing Woodrow Wilson’s name and presence from the School that he first conceived of – long before "policy schools” existed – and from a University dedicated to an informal motto that he coined – Princeton in the Nation’s Service – would be a grave mistake. In my view, the good that Woodrow Wilson did, even fully recognizing his racism, his sexism, and indeed the overall rigidity and self-righteousness make him simply unlikable in so many ways, greatly outweighs the bad. As Princeton’s president, he perhaps did more than anyone else to transform the school from a preppie gentlemen’s preserve into a great research university. As the nation’s President, he was responsible for implementing a remarkable agenda of progressive reforms, securing a massive overhaul of the nation’s banking, tax, and trade laws, passing child labor and labor rights laws, taking on monopoly power, and appointing the great progressive Justice Louis Brandeis, also the first Jewish Justice, to the Supreme Court. And as a foreign policy leader, he established the Wilsonian tradition of a values-based foreign policy, standing for the self-determination of peoples and "equal covenants openly arrived at.” Yes, he believed in equality only for white nations, just as our founding fathers believed in equality only for white, propertied men, a position that was radical for their time. Once established, their principles proved impossible to limit in the way they had intended.

Moreover, the entire point of a liberal education is to teach students to move beyond black and white, in every sense of the word. It is to complicate simple narratives of good and evil, to teach skepticism and critical thinking, to insist on universal narratives of the human condition from ancient times to the present in all cultures and countries. From the Greek myths to African folk-tales, those stories all depict our complex and often deeply inconsistent characters, showing us the dark sides and struggles of gods and humans alike. We should strive for what is slowly being achieved at Monticello, in my home-town of Charlottesville, Virginia – a presentation of Thomas Jefferson fully in the round. Visitors no longer see only the idealized Mr. Jefferson of my youth – the author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia – but also the man who fathered children with an enslaved woman, did not free his slaves even on his death, and wrote about the inferiority of blacks to whites in both beauty and intelligence. He was a racist, certainly, by today’s standards. But he was also a man, for all his faults, who could see a different future for all mankind and took a giant step toward it.

Yet what we also learn, or should learn, in the halls of Princeton, Yale, or any other great university, is that genuine debate cannot take place unless both sides seek not only to persuade but are actually willing to be persuaded. If one side knows that the other simply rules out the possibility that he or she might be wrong or mistaken, what is the point of arguing? That is precisely where the only alternative is to scream, or occupy, or turn to force of some kind. When Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber announced this past week that he was launching a process to consider demands by protesting Princeton students to remove Wilson’s name from the Wilson School, I initially thought it was a crazy decision. But on reflection, it is the only decision that is consistent with Princeton’s values. Princeton’s administration, faculty, alumni and current students should welcome this debate on open and honest terms, without a predetermined outcome. If they, or should I say we, cannot make a compelling case based on tradition, the balance of Wilson’s contributions, the need to evaluate historical figures in their own time, and the value of complexity rather than erasure, then we should not impose our views by majority right. And who knows? I started reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article The Case for Reparations firmly convinced that I was opposed to reparations, no matter what he might say; I finished it convinced that he was right.

In any event, these debates will not go away. We European-Americans who assume that we are white because of our skin color, even though our genetic lineage is likely to tell a very different story, must be prepared to question some of our most deeply cherished beliefs. James Baldwin reflected in 1962 on our ethnocentrism. "White Americans, he wrote, "have supposed ‘Europe’ and ‘civilization’ to be synonyms, which they are not, and have been distrustful of other standards and other sources of vitality, especially those produced in America themselves.” Today the time is rapidly approaching when we will have no choice about whether, how, and when to engage. As Eric Liu wrote in the Journal of Democracy earlier this year, "Americanness and whiteness are fitfully, achingly, but finally becoming delinked—and like it or not, over the course of this generation, we’re all going to have to learn a new way to be American.” In twenty or thirty years it will be white students who will be in a minority even on Ivy League campuses. And who will feel silenced then?

My friend, Eduard Shevardnadze

By James A. Baker III
Washington Post, July 8, 2014

James A. Baker III was U.S. secretary of state from 1989 to 1992.

I vividly remember the time and place when I knew that the Cold War had ended. It was Aug. 3, 1990, at Vnukovo II Airport outside Moscow. I stood shoulder to shoulder with the foreign minister of the Soviet Union as history was made when we jointly declared our countries’ opposition to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and called for an arms embargo on Iraq, then a Soviet client state. My counterpart was Eduard Shevardnadze. While he was an adversary, he was also a trusted diplomatic partner. In time, he would become a close friend. My biases should therefore be clear: I liked and admired the man.

But I believe that history, too, will judge Shevardnadze kindly. For the Cold War could not have ended peacefully without him. He helped shepherd the Soviet Union, Europe and, indeed, the world through a period of profound and unpredictable change. Looking back, it is easy to say that the Soviet empire would inevitably have collapsed with a whimper, not a bang. But there was nothing inevitable about it.

A staunch supporter of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of reform, Shevardnadze struggled mightily against powerful domestic forces with a vested interest in sustaining ruthless repression at home and permanent Cold War abroad. At one point, he even resigned, saying "dictatorship is coming.” And shortly it did, with the coup attempt on Gorbachev. Shevardnadze was tough; he was tenacious; above all, he was brave.

His political courage was on display for the world to see when we made our joint statement on Iraq. Just before doing that, a weary Shevardnadze privately told me that the hard-liners in his country had warned him that there would be "blood on his hands” if he took that stance. But Shevardnadze was willing to confront those hard-liners. "This aggression,” he announced at the airport, "is inconsistent with the principles of new political thinking.”

Time and time again, Shevardnadze demonstrated such courage. He was a perfect partner for Gorbachev, who was a tremendously optimistic leader, not unlike Ronald Reagan in his ability to buoy a room with his confidence and upbeat outlook. Shevardnadze, on the other hand, was like a wise owl who carried the aura — and burden — of intelligence and insight. He was a soft-spoken man — but one to whom it was always worth listening. And one who was always willing to consider the arguments of others.

Together, Gorbachev and Shevardnadze had the vision to work with their Cold War adversaries to reunite Germany in NATO, negotiate far-reaching nuclear and chemical arms treaties and allow members of the Warsaw Pact to determine their own futures. Above all, they refused — in the face of massive pressure from reactionaries at home — to use force to keep the Soviet empire together. This helped ease the path to freedom for tens of millions of Central and Eastern Europeans.

There was no other foreign official with whom I worked as productively, although it didn’t start out that way. Initially, our meetings were the formal and stilted affairs that were often the norm when the U.S. secretary of state and the Soviet foreign minister met. But as time wore on, we gained more and more trust in one another. Eventually, when just the two of us were together, he would seek my objective counsel about problems that his country was having with the rapid changes occurring there.

He was a man of contradictions and surprises. Born and raised in an authoritarian Soviet Union, Shevardnadze was a committed Communist. But at the height of his power, he promoted reforms. Although his government had espoused universal atheism his entire life, he was baptized into the Georgian Orthodox Church in 1991. During an exchange of gifts at our arms control negotiations in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in 1989, I was amazed when Shevardnadze gave me an enamel picture of Christ teaching the people. "You see, even we Communists are changing our worldview,” he said

With the end of the Soviet Union, he would return to his homeland, Georgia, and eventually become its president. His legacy as leader of Georgia is admittedly more ambiguous. Nothing, however, can overshadow his historic accomplishments as foreign minister of the Soviet Union.

Eduard Shevardnadze was truly one of the great statesmen of my lifetime.

Bruce E. Macomber
(July 22, 2012)

Ten years after my essay of 2002 public education in this country has changed little and performance of American students on tests of essential subjects like math is still well below that of commercial competitor nations' primary and secondary students. The first attempt to rectify this disparity was the No Child Left Behind Act, whose required tests have become more of a burden than an aid to the teaching profession as well as a much- disputed tool for evaluating teachers' performances. During the ten years I have retained my connection to teaching as a Library Assistant at Dunn School, a private boarding school, and have become a volunteer tutor several times a week at public Vandenberg Middle School. There has been little progress in ameliorating the principal problems facing American educators during this period. The paragraph below is a summary of those problems as they appear to me today.

We are faced with I) a multicultural society with immigrant families, legal and illegal, whose academic skills are often those associated with cheap farm labor instead of with engineers, doctors and scholars; 2) relatively low level of parental interest in student performance compared to countries like France and Finland, often because our wage scale requires both parents to work purely as a matter for survival; 3) the requirement that American public schools act as training grounds and farm systems for professional sports leagues and thus as sources of entertainment for the general public distracts students, parents and teachers from the chief reason for a public school system: that a democracy cannot function without an educated citizenry (Princeton must justify its astonishingly diverse sports program in terms of the contribution each sport makes to student education, not always an easy task); 4) lack of consensus about what is to be taught beyond basic communication skills, so that the NCLB Act requires annual testing of all students in mathematics and reading but not in languages, literature and social studies; 5.), the long summer vacation, which is an anachronism left over from the days when most people were engaged in farming, which required extra hands during planting and harvesting, and interrupts smooth flow of the teaching process (substituting a summer quarter will face lobbying by a substantial industry catering to family travel, summer camps and the like); 6) a system of finance in which schooling is paid for at the local level by property and sales taxes and by taxes on natural resources like oil and gas, and what is to be taught also struggled over at the state level through textbook committees in concert with state legislators; 7) a system of private schools providing scholarship aid to the middle and lower classes but catering mainly to the wealthy where innovation is easier than in public schools and new ideas in education have been tried out over the years, a current example being charter schools, sanctioned by local school boards but financed privately to provide competition forcing improvement on public schools; and 8) an unfortunate resurgence of racial segregation in some southeastern states—Mississippi being the primary example—where "white flight" towards private schools has left public schools underfinanced, understaffed and filled predominately with children of color. If these problems are left unaddressed it is difficult to imagine the United States continuing to lead the world's democracies towards solution of truly world-wide problems like those associated with globalization, climate change and religious fundamentalism.

What is needed is a national consensus on what is required to provide public education to all our citizens, both those born here and those who have come as immigrants. The discussion has begun on a number of news programs, newspapers and journals but will only bear fruit if it is led by interested and capable politicians in stand-up debates and around tables working with the educational establishment mostly at the national level. Presidential candidates will have to make reform of education a political priority similar to the current tug-o-war over health care, with compromise between regional preferences a necessity recognized by all sides. (Performance of the national legislature and presidential candidates in recent years does not fill one with optimism, but we must try.) I visualize a Department of Education deciding on national objectives and teacher training standards (most of those I know have master's degrees and monitor new teacher performance) and then leaving achievement of those standards to local or state school boards, with suitable financial incentives in the form of taxes or freedom from taxes, teacher scholarships and, of course, salaries scaled to experience and performance. The private school system and charter schools can still provide new ideas and competitive incentives, but the money required to replace (or "privatize") a significant number of public schools with non-profit private and profit- making charter schools is, I believe, not to be found.

Jack A. Dodds
(July 4, 2012)
Our Country is almost equally divided into two groups. One side feels the government's responsibility is to provide more and more goodies for the American public without the resources to pay for them. The other group feels that Government has a role to play, but it should be limited. This group believes that a nation, business, or family should not spend more funds than it has at its disposable, and running up horrendous, staggering debts are more than unconscionable. This election will determine whether we become a Socialistic Country, or we begin the very torturous path back to righting our Ship of State, and, by definition, begin to preserve our constitutional integrity by getting government requirements, regulations and authority greatly changed or reduced. If President Obama is re-elected, we can kiss tomorrow goodbye as far as the America we all know and love so well. Hence, the importance of this election for clear thinking Americans cannot be overly emphasized. A quick note about Obamacare. It was recently declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, but it wasn't declared a good health care law. I think we need to provide health care for the people that cannot care for themselves. However, I do not feel that we should pay for health care for the illegals. A country must control its borders to continue to exist. I think the Republicans should take some of the good ideas of health care and use them as a basis for a new HealthCare Plan. For a start, a few suggestions would be: (a.) include people with pre-existing conditions as part of the Plan, (b.) assure the ability to buy health insurance across state lines, which would reduce health insurance costs through competition, (c.) tort reform regarding health care should be ameliorated (I am sure all the attorneys will love this suggestion!!), and (d.) there are quite a few other aspects of a new HealthCare Plan that the majority of Americans could agree on. To accomplish this new HealthCare Plan, we would, obviously, need to elect a new President so as to repeal Obamacare, but then don't start completely from scratch. Start with a few of the above premises, and create a new HealthCare Plan in a non-partisan manner, where all parties would have an opportunity to participate in the process.


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