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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

A Prediction: It Will Come Down to Florida, Again

It’s hard to cut through the multiple details of the investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 election, but you should know that all seventeen (yes, 17!) US intelligence agencies agree that this happened. These people, who are both members of the military services and civilian employees of Congressional mandated federal agencies, have been tried and tested over and over again, most of them under several presidential administrations. They know what they are doing.

Twelve Russians have been indicted -- and to achieve their aim, those Russians, of course, had contacts here. In his recent meeting with Russian President Putin, President Trump failed to ask for the extradition of these indicted Russians to stand trial here, but even if they don’t show (and they won’t), the names of their US enablers soon will come down.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort already is in prison – because he pled guilty. Others have entered guilty pleas, too, and with Republicans in control of both the executive and legislative branches, this is no Democratic plot. Last Monday’s e-news was full of Republicans who fear their party’s sinking ship will swamp them in the fall elections – or, to give them credit, who honestly object to this foreign attack on our basic democratic ability to have each vote count. In response to Trump’s sycophantic meeting with Putin over the weekend, these statements came out from high-ranking Republicans:

• Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: “Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling.”

• Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska: “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame… Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet style aggression.”

• Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona (who announced months ago that he was leaving the sinking ship): “I never thought I would see the day when our American president would stand on the stage with the Russian president and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”

• Senator John McCain of Arizona (and a military hero dying of cancer): “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivety, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate… No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”

• House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (who also announced his retirement months ago): “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues to try to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

• Former CIA director John Brennan: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”

• And even a former Foxy, Carl Cameron, who was once chief political correspondent for conservative Fox News: “The Trump team were colluding with the Russians in 2016 – and they are still colluding.”

Seven guys, all white and all owning conservative credentials. And I could dig deeper: there are many more, especially if we consider the thoughts of women and ethnic minorities as important to this discussion. So why my prediction that this will come down to Florida?

The missing link will be Roger Stone, who lives near Mar-a-Lago and who played similar games too long ago for most people to remember. Back in 1972, he was deeply embedded in CREEP, the arrogantly named Committee to Re-Elect the President. The president was Republican Richard Nixon, and he had a vacation home in Key Biscayne.

Nixon was a whole lot smarter than Trump, but equally evil, and he and his Republican cronies encouraged CREEPers to break into the Democratic headquarters located in the Washington office complex called Watergate. Stone simply replicated himself in 2016, joining Trump’s team that again broke into Democratic headquarters (and much more), this time via cyberattacks. It will come down to bad publicity for Florida again. This time, let’s really lock ‘em up.

Intelligent, Enterprising, and Pretty Much Forgotten

Last week I said I would follow up on Angelica Schuyler Church, whom Alexander Hamilton said was his favorite correspondent. It turns out that she was the sister of his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and they wrote rather than spoke because Angelica lived much of her life in Europe. Their mother was Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler, and all three women were descended from Maria Van Rensselaer, one of the earliest Dutch families in New Amsterdam, later New York. I had written of her in my 1997 Milestones, which is arranged by year and uses present tense:

“1674 – Maria Van Rensselaer, the daughter of Annetje Lockermans Van Courtland, administers her husband’s estate after he dies, leaving her with six minor children. She holds the best property parcel in New Netherlands– a fiefdom near Albany that is 24 miles square and includes gristmills, sawmills, and other enterprises, as well as thousands of acres of farmland. She fights and wins several legal challenges, including one brought by her late husband’s brother.”

So, because I mentioned above Van Rensselaer’s mother, whose married name was Van Courtland, I’ll have to jump backwards to explicate her. Here goes:

“1648 – America’s first paved street is constructed when New Amsterdam’s Annetje Lockermans Van Courtland tires of the mud and dust that comes from the road in front of her home. She supervises her servants in paving it with cobblestone. Called Stone Street, it will survive for more than three centuries.”

I kept my language vague because, in 1997, it took some time to definitely determine if the street still was around. But now I can easily google it and see that Stone Street remains near the New York Stock Exchange. Polly Provoost later laid the first sidewalk in front of her house on Broadway. Another enterprising Dutch woman, Margaret Hardenbroeck, exported furs and imported manufactured goods, making frequent trips between Holland and America – despite having five children by two husbands.

Prenuptial agreements thus were common among the Dutch because women wanted to protect their property after marriage. They also retained their maiden names at marriage – but women’s names nonetheless changed every generation as daughters took surnames from their fathers’ first names. No wonder we get forgotten: writing women’s history is so much harder than writing men’s! But back to the first paragraph and Milestones. In discussing the American Revolution, I said:

“1777 – Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler, the wife of an American general and the mother of 14, decides to leave the relative safety of Albany to check on family property at Saratoga Springs. When she learns that the British army is approaching, she sets fire to her ripening wheat crop rather than allow the enemy to use it.”

That year, 1777, also was the year that Catherine’s daughter Angelica eloped. Angelica knew that her father, American General Philip Schuyler, would not allow her to marry John Church: even though Church supported the revolution, he was British, while the Schuylers were fourth-generation Americans by then. John Church nonetheless went on to make a fortune by supplying American and French forces during the war, and after it, the couple and their eight children would live in both Paris and London. Despite his disagreements with his mother country, John served in Parliament during the 1790s – while Angelica cared enough about the new United States that she came home for George Washington’s inauguration. Fascinating, complex, and thus forgotten.

Unrelated Quick Thoughts

In the discussion about the Supreme Court nominee, I’ve not seen mention of the fact that Kavanagh’s replacement of Kennedy means another Catholic man on a court that has six Catholics, three Jews, and no Protestants. Not that I’m arguing for a Protestant perspective, but people should acknowledge this imbalance and talk about it. Our Puritan forefathers might climb out of their graves.

Hubby watches a lot of science shows on TV and recently saw a lecture by a computer expert who said Al Gore really did invent the internet. Gore not only understood its potential long before other politicians – but more important, according to this guy who was in on the ground floor, Gore forced the players to play fairly by incentivizing cooperation. Check out Wikipedia’s article on the High Performance Computing Act of 1991.

And finally, on running government like a business, would that be like what’s going on with the private vendor for SunPass?


Doris Weatherford writes a weekly column for La Gaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper. With pages in Spanish, Italian, and English, it has been published in Tampa since 1922.
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