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“Threadbare Political Philosophy”


Members of the South Bay Ki-in

at the New Gardena Hotel, 1641 W. Redondo Beach Blvd.,

Gardena, CA 90247; Tel. (310) 327-5757

I had an emotionally shattering experience this past weekend. A dear old friend, with whom I have shared many memorable times, traveled together with all over the world, shared time with family and friends, enjoyed dining and music in various settings, and of course played go, said he had had it. He wanted to be done with me.

This is a friendship that has endured for more than twenty-five years. We have been through thick and thin together. What could have upset him to this extreme extent?

We first met in Korea. It was a tour of the country. I didn’t even want to go. The American Go Association sent me an invitation and when I declined, I was told that the Hankuk Kiwon (the Korean Go Association) had specifically asked for me to join the tour, due to my hosting several Korean players in the US during their tours. So I went.

I had a horrible time. A dozen cities in two weeks, playing go hour after hour with people I had never met, then repairing to a nondescript hotel room. It was just what I had imagined and feared.

But the one unimaginably great discovery I made on the trip was my tour companion who became my friend. He was great. He enlivened every room he was in. Everyone loved the magic tricks he performed and the laughter he evoked with his accompanying remarks.

Later on, we played go together in our hotel rooms. As he often reminded me years later, at one point I said:

"That is the most stupid move I have ever seen in my life."

Now, go players often play stupid moves. I do so myself at the go club every week. And who am I to pass judgment on anyone else’s move?

But that is not how it happened!

I don’t know if my friend’s hand slipped or what, but his stone had landed off the point. That is when I said what I did, and he quickly placed the stone correctly.

Regardless of that, we continued our association over the years. I have used his photographs on the covers of several of my books.

So why this break? Politics.

How can this be? I am not a political person. I don’t care about politics. Of course, I follow what happens in the news, but it is not of much importance to me.

But my friend cares passionately about politics. And I made the outrageous statement that he had a "threadbare political philosophy." God help me for that dastardly comment!

Then I compounded the insult by giving the proof! In what way? By examining the record of a politician that the conservatives glory: Ronald Reagan.

Reagan had a scandal-ridden administration that conservatives ignore. It started during his campaign for the presidency, when Reagan was involved in what was dubbed "Debate-gate," the stealing of his opponent, Jimmy Carter’s, notes for the presidential debate. Then Reagan contacted the Iranians, a violation of the Logan Act, to say that his administration would give them a better deal after the election than the Carter Administration would.

Reagan’s administration was plagued with scandal from that point on, culminating in the Iran-Contra Scandal, trading arms for hostages, that Reagan’s own National Security Advisor Robert (Bud) MacFarland called an "impeachable offence."

So how was Reagan a great president? What did he ever do that was great?

"He destroyed the Soviet Union."

That is what many conservatives will say. But Reagan did not do that. Who did? I did.

Now, that is an outrageous statement, but no more outrageous than saying that Reagan did. I can just as correctly say that Bill Gates did. The computer revolution destroyed the secret apparatus that the Soviets used to control the population. That doomed the oligarchy.

But even that is not the whole story. The fact is that the Soviets got bogged down in a quagmire in Afghanistan, similar to the US in Vietnam. When Russian soldiers started coming back home in body bags, the citizens rebelled, and overthrew the government. Reagan was not even in the conversation.

However, Reagan is also credited with the renaissance in the US economy that occurred while he was in office. And, yes, the recession that was in effect in Reagan’s first term (threatening his proposed second term) was ended by his pumping money into the system. But consider this: please give me your credit card and let me run up three trillion dollars on it. Won’t that juice the economy?

But who will pay the bill? No one, least of all Ronald Reagan. When the George W. Bush Administration ran up an additional $5 trillion in debt, Dick Cheney (formerly Reagan’s secretary of defense) said that, "Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter." That shows how little conservatives consider the debt.

Now the Trump Administration is doubling down on the debt. Does the reader know what the deficit was during Trump’s first year in office, in 2017? No? You probably do not. The government is not quick to let the public know the kind of money it is spending. But I will tell you:

$666 billion was the US budget deficit in 2017.

Some might think that Trump inherited all of that from Obama. Wrong. That budget deficit was $80 billion more than that in Obama’s budget during his final year in office. (Another fact that I pointed out to my friend and which angered him was that Congress authorized an extra $190 million in off-budget expenses for travel for Trump and his entourage in 2017. His cabinet secretaries are also ringing up high tabs. Obama’s expenses were nowhere close to Trump’s.)

What is even worse, is that Trump’s budget deficit is due to double, to $1.2 trillion, next year. But of course deficits don’t matter. We’ll never have to repay them. (Excuse my sarcasm.)

This is a threadbare political philosophy.

And people like my friend refuse to recognize it. Instead, it is easier to close his eyes and walk away. Just ignore the facts.

This is sad. And I am sorry to lose this friend. But what will I do? The same as I have always done: interpret and translate Japanese and English, facilitating the movement of money between the US and Japan. Someone’s got to pay the bills.

Those who wish to comment on the opinions expressed here may send their thoughts to info@GoWizardry.com. The most interesting responses will be addressed in future postings.

Robert J. Terry

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