Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, January 14, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:4



DICK Polman

Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 14, 2017 

TOM Purcell

Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Richard Garcia


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Kevin Barry


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Merri Jill Finstrom

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Renee Quenell

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten


 Get this: The U.S. Treasury says that America’s debt grew by 
another trillion dollars in 2016. 

 If you’re like me and you find it difficult to grasp how much a 
trillion really is,, an educational project of the nonprofit 
Employment Policies Institute, offers a mind-blowing illustration. 

 “Let’s say someone told you to wait for something. If you waited 
one thousand seconds, it’d only take about seventeen minutes. If you 
waited one million seconds, you’d have to wait about 11 1⁄2 days. But if you waited one trillion 
seconds, you’d have to wait 31,688 years.”

 Heck, I remember the old days when a billion used to be a number so big nobody could 
comprehend it. 

 One billion hours is equal to more than 114,000 years — which would take us back to the 
Stone Age. 

 Not long ago, we measured our national debt in billions of dollars. Now we do so in trillions 
of dollars — numbers that are extremely difficult to comprehend. 

 Consider: One trillion is equal to 1 thousand billion. If you had $1 trillion in cash, reports, you could buy 282 billion Big Macs, or 3.1 million Ferrari 599 GTBs, or 769 new 
Yankee Stadiums, or 28,571 flights into space as a tourist, or 66.7 billion copies of Oliver Stone’s 
“Wall Street.” 

 If you had $1 trillion in debt and paid it back at the rate of $10 million a day, it would take 
you 273 years — on an interest-free loan. 

 Our federal deficit has been averaging nearly $1 trillion a year since the collapse of 2008 — 
causing us to rack up around $8 trillion in new debt during President Obama’s administration. 

 To cover our nearly $4 trillion annual budget, the U.S. Treasury spends about $1 billion 
every two hours — accumulating $1 billion in new debt about every eight hours. 

 Still not comprehending how much $1 trillion is? Then you’ll like this description by Bill 
Bryson, one of my favorite authors, from his book “Notes from a Big Country.” 

 Bryson asks his readers to guess how long it would take to initial and count 1 trillion $1 bills 
if you worked without stopping. 

 “If you initialed one dollar per second,” writes Bryson, “you would make $1,000 every 
seventeen minutes. 

 After 12 days of nonstop effort you would acquire your first $1 million. Thus, it would 
take you 120 days to accumulate $10 million and 1,200 days — something over three years 
— to reach $100 million. After 31.7 years you would become a billionaire. But not until after 
31,709.8 years would you count your trillionth dollar.” 

 We all understand that very large numbers are OK so long as they add up. So long as we 
have trillions of dollars coming in to the government to balance out the trillions of dollars we 
have going out, we should be OK — but we haven’t been OK. 

 Regardless of what you think about President-elect Donald Trump and our new, Republican-
controlled House and Senate, you’d better hope their policy changes unleash the pent-up 
economic vitality of our country. 

 You’d better hope we double Obama’s 1.9-percent average growth rate so that we can 
generate the government receipts we need to pay our debts and meet our obligations. 

 Hey, our national debt is almost $20 trillion, for goodness’ sake — that’s 20,000 billion 

 If you still can’t comprehend how big our debt us, consider this slightly modified illustration 

 If the U.S. government printed $1 million bills, “a whole bathtub’s worth of them wouldn’t 
equal a trillion dollars.” And 20 bathtubs full of $1 million bills still wouldn’t be enough to 
cover our national debt. 


Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a 
Sean McClanahan mystery novel, both available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 
humor columnist

Mountain Views News 
has been adjudicated as 
a newspaper of General 
Circulation for the County 
of Los Angeles in Court 
Case number GS004724: 
for the City of Sierra 
Madre; in Court Case 
GS005940 and for the 
City of Monrovia in Court 
Case No. GS006989 and 
is published every Saturday 
at 80 W. Sierra Madre 
Blvd., No. 327, Sierra 
Madre, California, 91024. 
All contents are copyrighted 
and may not be 
reproduced without the 
express written consent of 
the publisher. All rights 
reserved. All submissions 
to this newspaper become 
the property of the Mountain 
Views News and may 
be published in part or 

Opinions and views 
expressed by the writers 
printed in this paper do 
not necessarily express 
the views and opinions 
of the publisher or staff 
of the Mountain Views 

Mountain Views News is 
wholly owned by Grace 
Lorraine Publications, 
Inc. and reserves the right 
to refuse publication of 
advertisements and other 
materials submitted for 

Letters to the editor and 
correspondence should 
be sent to: 

Mountain Views News

80 W. Sierra Madre Bl. 

Sierra Madre, Ca. 

Phone: 626-355-2737

Fax: 626-609-3285








Just nine days before becoming Leader of the Free World, 
President-elect Donald Trump wasn’t talking about economic 
policy. He wasn’t talking about global security or how he plans to 
improve the welfare of nearly 319 million Americans.

 Instead, he kept cozying up to a dictator, scorned a free press and 
the idea of government transparency and upped the ante in his 
ongoing beef with the nation’s intelligence community.

 Welcome to the circus - and to America’s new normal: A vain, combative and self-
involved leader who’s given to referring to himself in the third person, name-dropping 
all the people who like him, and who thinks no story - the one about himself - is more 
important to the civic life of the nation.

 In his first news conference since the election, Trump, the incoming chief executive, 
sounded a lot like candidate Trump, reiterating pledges to build a border wall on America’s 
southern border (and to make Mexico implausibly pay for it); to be the “greatest jobs 
president that God ever created” and to simultaneously repeal and replace Obamacare - 
without offering any clue on how that might happen or what might replace it. 

 The ostensible purpose of the 90-minute news conference at Trump Tower in 
Manhattan was to discuss how Trump plans to disentangle himself from his myriad of 
business interests and turn the day-to-day management of them over to his sons.

But surprising no one, it was hijacked by the bombshell news Tuesday that Trump had been 
told about an uncorroborated report that the Russian government holds compromising 
information on him.

 Trump denounced the release of the report “as a disgrace,” calling, the 
online news organization that made the controversial decision to publish it “a failing 
pile of garbage” that will “suffer the consequences” for running the dossier of allegations 
claimed to have come from a former British intelligence officer.

Comparing the leak to “something Nazi Germany would have done,” Trump used a 
Russian government statement to defend himself against the allegations included in the 

 Russian “President [Vladimir] Putin put out a statement today that this fake news 
was fake news,” Trump said, gobsmackingly adding that he “respected” the Russian 
government for that action.

 Backhandedly, he also credited some news organizations for deciding against running 

 “They looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, 
who knows, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they did that,” Trump 
said, keeping up his ongoing and very public dispute with the nation’s intelligence 
community. “A thing like that should never have been written and it certainly should have 
not been released.”

 In what may have been his strongest language to date, Trump mildly scolded Putin 
for the hacking, saying he “shouldn’t do it.” But he stopped well short of an outright 

 “I think it was Russia, But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other 
people,” he said, referencing the 2015 cyber-attack on the federal Office of Personnel 
Management that compromised the identities of 22.1 million people.

 Sadly, but not surprisingly, Trump continued to speak warmly of an ex-KGB thug 
backing Bashar Assad in Syria, saying that “if Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, 
that’s an asset not a liability.

 “I hope I get along with Vladimir Putin,” said Trump, who actually praised the 
information about Hillary Clinton brought to light by an act of cyber-terrorism by a 
hostile foreign government.

 “If I don’t do you honestly believe Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does 
anyone believe that? Give me a break,” he bragged.

 The bravura performance was interrupted halfway through by a long monologue by 
Trump’s attorney, Sheri Dillon, who offered tortured explanation of how Trump will 
disentangle himself from his business dealings.

 In short, he’ll turn his companies over to his sons, but won’t totally divest himself of 

 Incredibly, Trump still doesn’t seem to think that the inevitable conflicts arising from 
such an action are what they are: A looming minefield of scandal and corruption.

 “I could run my business and run the government at the same time,” he said. “I’d be the 
only one who could do that.”

 Then, just for good measure, he picked a fight with CNN’s Jim Acosta, refusing to take 
the reporter’s questions and dismissing the cable network as “fake news,” even though it 
did not publish the intelligence dossier.

 Taken together, Trump’s public statements at his first news conference in 168 days clearly 
signaled how he intends to govern: It’s not about the voters. It’s not about accountability. 
It’s all about him.


An award-winning political journalist, John Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political 
Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on 
Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at


I don’t usually live my days according to a particular 
theme. No planning goes into them, unless I’m celebrating 
a birthday or some other exceptional event. But every now 
and then, in a sort of strange serendipity, the day comes 
together around people, places and ideas that have a strange 
symbiosis. So it was last Tuesday.

 First, on the radio, there was the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions or, as 
the Democrats insisted on calling him, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, just to 
make sure we recognized his despicable Dixie pedigree. It was similar to all 
of those conservatives who insisted on calling our president “Barack Hussein 
Obama” to remind us of, well, you know what.

 It seemed as if Sessions was on trial for his past as a man of a certain age 
raised in a certain place, during a certain time. If you dig deeply enough into the 
histories of Southerners who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, you inevitably 
find traces of horrible words spoken, troublesome associations made, jokes 
that weren’t funny and an insensitivity born of the historical moment. Sessions 
is a product of his past. And yet, others testified to his change of heart, his 
prosecution of racist men in white sheets, his befriending of men and women of 
color and a colorblind style of mentoring.

 After that, on the same radio station, I heard that Dylann Roof, a man who 
murdered innocent black churchgoers in an effort to start a race war in South 
Carolina, had been sentenced to death. Even those who oppose the death penalty 
had to feel some sense of justice in that. And I do not oppose the death penalty.

 Later that evening, I went with a friend to see the movie “Hidden Figures,” 
about the African American female trailblazers at NASA who played a critical - 
and, until recently, unknown - role in the space program. There is a scene at the 
end of the movie in which John Glenn basically refuses to get in the Friendship 
7 capsule until one of those black “computers” played by Taraji P. Henson does 
the numbers in her head and calculates the accuracy of his splashdown. It might 
have been Hollywood, but it sent chills down my spine.

 And then I came home, turned on the TV and watched President Obama’s 
speech, the one I’d had the presence of mind that morning to DVR. It was 
moving, as most of his speeches are, and particularly compelling because it was 
the last major address he’d give the American people as an occupant of the White 

 I won’t get into the substance because I disagree with so much of his agenda. I 
did not vote for him, and I’m at peace with that. But he made the attempt, as he 
usually does, to rise above the partisan labels and talk to us as Americans. Some 
who were already predisposed to find fault heard him criticizing “us” or “them” 
and dismissed his words as just another late and final dig against Trump voters. I 
didn’t hear that, even though I absolutely heard his disdain for them in the past.

 What I noted in the speech, and it could have been entirely of my own 
imagining, was a wistfulness at how close we Americans come to perfection and 
then willfully step away from it. Of course, one man’s perfection is another man’s 
Obamacare, but I think that, generally speaking, we spend more time hating than 
debating, more time whining than shining, more time inciting than uniting.

 Looking at those attacking Sessions, I saw unforgiving avengers who really 
just wanted to fight the Civil War all over again. Then, when I heard about Roof’s 
sentencing, I saw the real face of racism and understood why some might still be 
armed for battle.

 Watching that movie with those gentle, dignified women made me think of 
my father who, when he went to Mississippi to register black voters in 1967, 
encountered courage in the oppressed and oppression from the cowards. That 
quiet dignity, steel-backed and patient, makes the coarse, divisive chants of “No 
justice, no peace” seem like the work of spoiled, embittered children. Black lives 
do matter, of course, but so do good manners.

 Which brings me to Obama. The words of this man, who has been accused 
of fomenting racial divisions by people on both sides of the color divide, were 
reminiscent of the dignified rhythms of the past. Tuesday was a day when old 
racists were challenged and redeemed, when murderous bigots were put down, 
when hidden figures of historic importance were finally illuminated and when 
the first black president, with trepidation and his own brand of hope, passed the 

 And we, imperfect but with promethean potential, pick it up. And move on.


© 2016 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia 
Daily News, and can be reached at

Mountain Views News

Mission Statement

The traditions of 
community news-
papers and the 
concerns of our readers 
are this newspaper’s 
top priorities. We 
support a prosperous 
community of well-
informed citizens. We 
hold in high regard the 
values of the exceptional 
quality of life in our 
community, including 
the magnificence of 
our natural resources. 
Integrity will be our guide. 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: