This week, we catch up on our mail bag and also speak with a couple of Thomas Jefferson Hour listeners.
We're kind of all over the place on this episode, but we had great fun: Paul McCartney, a documentary on John McCain, audio listener responses to this program — particularly with respect to music, and a man who drove from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Bismarck, a distance of six hours, just to say hello. We included part of that greeting in the show, along with conversations from our listeners about whether television is toxic, or whether it's just another neutral medium.
Then we introduce you to a special new friend of the show, Carol, the music teacher from Valley City. She's 83 years old, in a care facility for the moment because of a hip. Carol is a listener of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, and she said that she tells her students, "When you stop learning, you're done." Kudos to Carol.
- Candide by Voltaire
- John Prine: "Spanish Pipedream (Blow Up Your TV)"
- Wikipedia: The medium is the message
- Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke
- John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls
- The New Republic: "Why the Clintons and The New York Times Can’t Get Along"
- The Washington Post: "In 497 days, President Trump has made 3,251 false or misleading claims"
What Would Jefferson Do?
David Swenson: 00:00 Good Day, Thomas Jefferson Hour podcast listeners, and thank you for listening.
Clay S. Jenkinson: 00:07 We're so appreciative. This program was, I'd have to say a little discursive.
DS: 00:12 I'm not even sure I know what that means.
CSJ: 00:16 Less focused on a single theme. We're responding to some mail and then responding to some audio recordings you've made of people who've come to visit us.
DS: 00:16 You were gone, unfortunately.
CSJ: 00:29 I was elsewhere. I was so sorry when you told me that we'd had a friend, named Mike, that I met in the Mediterranean long ago who happened to be in South Dakota and on a whim, drove six hours, drove up here and got here and the place was locked. But fortunately —
DS: 00:44 Well it wasn't locked but I was gone.
CSJ: 00:44 You were gone.
DS: 00:48 So he waited in the lobby for a couple hours.
CSJ: 00:52 And he wasn't here to tell us that we're morons or that we should be banned in many states?
DS: 00:57 No, he wanted to come up and meet us.
CSJ: 01:00 That's fantastic. Thank you Mike.
DS: 01:01 So I had him in the studio and we talked for a bit and you'll hear that.
CSJ: 01:05 I hope he comes on the Jefferson Hour tour in France, which is next autumn, 2019, finally. People keep saying to me, 'is the whole France thing over, are you ever doing it?' And there have been a whole series of reasons why we haven't been able to do it. But now we are. We're going to Jefferson's France in the autumn of 2019. We want everyone who wants that to come. There'll be two trips, there'll be the main trip and then there'll be the add on and the add on is the Canal du Midi or the canal —
DS: 01:05 Oh wow, that's ambition.
CSJ: 01:33 Jefferson — I've been on that trip. I led that trip once. Jefferson's time on the Canal du Midi was amongst the happiest time of his entire life. I've been on at once for nine days. This will be shorter, be about five, but there'll be two trips, the main trip and then the supplementary trip and that'll be next fall. So people should be looking for that. It's on the website, Jeffersonhour.com, and then there is the Steinbeck trip, March 2 through 8th in Monterrey and the two Jefferson Hour humanities retreats at Lochsa Lodge. This year, one on Shakespeare, back by popular demand and the second one is on water in the West, you know, water's becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger issue because of the population surge in the west and the results of global climate change, but listeners to the Thomas Jefferson Hour — this week was about listener response, some very interesting listener response. I read that great letter about television. Then you read a counter letter saying, no, no, that was too hasty. That judgment that we should shut off our television.
DS: 02:37 A little foray into American folk music from the 70s.
CSJ: 02:40 We talked a little bit about Paul Mccartney —
DS: 02:40 And John Prine.
CSJ: 02:44 And we mentioned John Denver, whether accurately or not. Quite a show. A lot of ground and then we had a —
DS: 02:50 We had a lot of fun with Mike.
CSJ: 02:52 Poor Mike. I hope he's not offended.
DS: 02:52 I don't think he will be.
CSJ: 02:54 We were doing our mystery science theater routine with Mike's commentary about how he drove from Sioux Falls up to Bismarck to see us.
DS: 02:54 You know what Mike is?
CSJ: 02:54 No.
DS: 03:03 He's a member of the 1776 Club. And if you would like to support the Thomas Jefferson Hour, my friendly reminder, go to Jeffersonhour.com. Click on donate. If you join the 1776 Club, you will gain access to just about every episode ever produced. You'll also be able to download — I don't know if anybody even has — Well, I know one person has — the audio book version of Common Sense, a couple of weeks ago
CSJ: 03:03 That you recorded — one only?
DS: 03:03 Well —
CSJ: 03:03 That's not very many.
DS: 03:03 Rick Kennerly did —
CSJ: 03:03 So people —
DS: 03:38 And he gave me a great review, said, you know, 'you could get a career doing this.'
CSJ: 03:38 David Swenson on his own recognizance recorded all of Common Sense. You should listen.
DS: 03:47 If all I hear from is Rick Kennerly and it's positive, I'm fine.
CSJ: 03:50 That's it. You could read to one.
DS: 03:54 But then also you did the Declaration of Independence.
CSJ: 03:55 It was pretty interesting for me to read it in its entirety because it's longer than you think. It's more detailed than you think. Usually you think, "we hold these truths to be self evident," but the bulk of it is this indictment of George III and the parliament of England.
DS: 04:11 We hope you enjoy this week's show. It was a lot of fun for us.
CSJ: 04:11 Next week we'll focus.
DS: 04:23 Good day citizens, good day, Thomas Jefferson Hour listeners, and welcome to this week's edition of the Thomas Jefferson Hour. This week we are joined by the creator of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Mr. Clay Jenkinson seated across from me now.
CSJ: 04:35 Hello my friend. I have a letter I want to read to you. I walked into the barn and I went to the milk room where, you know, we have our postal cubbies,d there are letters to you, letters to me, but here, this letter was written by pen by a man named Daniel P. And I'm going to read it in its entirety.
DS: 04:35 Really?
CSJ: 05:00 It's short. "Mr Jenkinson, I write this in response to the essay on June 12, 2018 at the end of your program. That, sir, was a work almost on par with Thoreau or Emerson."
DS: 05:00 Now I know why you're reading it. It was a good one.
CSJ: 05:15 "Since hearing your essay, I have only turned on the TV for a couple of minutes. Now I sit here and glance occasionally at the strange black mirror affixed to my wall and somewhat scoff at the idea of reactivation of it. There has been a noted increase in productivity in reading and work around the house. I recently heard a song by John Denver entitled, blow up your TV. I have half a mind to do that" —
DS: 05:15 Actually that would be by John Prine.
CSJ: 05:15 Oh, he says John Denver —
DS: 05:48 Well, I think he recorded it, but it was written by John Prine.
CSJ: 05:54 "I have half a mind" — Now you're correcting my my fan. "I have half a mind to do that, but damn sure at some point I will want to see the next work by Ken Burns or David Attenborough. My sincere thanks to you and Mr Swenson for putting together this wonderful podcast. I have been listening a little over a year and hear the string music before I push the play button. Sincerely, Daniel, A. P. Isn't that beautiful?
DS: 05:54 It is.
CSJ: 06:23 And he's going to blow — and it's a John Prine Song. I've never heard it.
DS: 06:23 You've never heard that?
CSJ: 06:23 No, I've never heard it.
DS: 06:27 The chorus is blow up your TV, throw away your papers, move to the country, find you a home.
CSJ: 06:36 So it's a modern Candide. Voltaire at the end of Candide says, just go home and cultivate your garden.
DS: 06:37 Yeah, and that's the rest of it. Grow a little garden. Can a few peaches.
CSJ: 06:43 See? That's Candide. That's a modern Candide. I didn't know about it. That's great. So Daniel, thank you. I don't think that I can say the words Thoreau and Emerson without blushing, but the fact that you think that this, that these essays, these Jefferson Watch essays are useful gives me great joy. It's a lot of work writing them, David, every time we have. A Jefferson Hour coming —
DS: 07:05 But it may be a lot of work, right — I'm suspecting there are a few moments in your week that you enjoy more.
CSJ: 07:12 You know what I like to do, I like to have —
DS: 07:12 Am I right?
CSJ: 07:15 I like to have written. People say, 'do you like to write?' I say, 'yes. I like to have written.' Writing is hard, but I love the process and I love the chance that this gives me to step back and measure my terms a little and to try to provide some historical context, but also to give my own views without just blathering on as I am currently doing.
DS: 07:39 That's quite all right. Blather away.
CSJ: 07:42 I'm blathering on, so thank you Daniel.
DS: 07:43 Yeah. This is kind of a free form show.
CSJ: 07:45 He, I hope he's going to send $1,000,000 now so we can get this into every household —
DS: 07:45 You're so money oriented.
CSJ: 07:51 I'm not. I just want this program to have it's chance. Is that too much to ask?
DS: 07:51 Yeah.
CSJ: 07:51 Okay. Sorry.
DS: 07:56 We have to earn that.
CSJ: 08:01 The jury is in on that. If that's the case, the jury is in.
DS: 08:07 I would disagree with you on that.
CSJ: 08:07 I want grace not justice.
DS: 08:10 All you need to do is sit down and read all of the email. When you get done with this show, when you go back to the world —
CSJ: 08:18 Is it on the whole positive?
DS: 08:24 Well, it doesn't matter. It' discussions. It's not — Some of it's positive. Some of it's negative. Some of it is like really over the edge negative and some like the letter you just read —
CSJ: 08:32 That wasn't over the edge. That was truth with a capital T. How dare you!
DS: 08:37 You have a number of — we got one from Dan Silvia.
CSJ: 08:37 I know Dan.
DS: 08:44 Yeah. Okay. Well, he wrote about — 'it's unusual that a program inspires me to write twice, but here again, Adjustments gave me the cause. In this instance I take issue with your critique of television.'
CSJ: 08:58 Now see, just the opposite of Daniel.
DS: 09:02 'In my mind, television is a medium, a mode of content delivery, very much like the radio, the newspaper and the cineplex. Just as the radio became the ubiquitous technology and the television has become the dominant medium.' But his point is, it's just a delivery device.
CSJ: 09:19 Wrong. Because look, I get it. It's a medium, but the medium is the message. As Marshall McLuhan said. I have a widescreen television. I remember when it was installed.
DS: 09:29 Yeah, you know, that sounds good, but I don't know that that's true. I'll let you finish. I'm sorry.
CSJ: 09:33 What were you — what part were you interrupting about?
DS: 09:35 The medium is the message.
CSJ: 09:36 Oh, it is. Because if you have a widescreen television. When I sit in a chair and look at it, I'm just like a two month old infant.
DS: 09:45 Oh, and you think you're special because of the era you live in?
CSJ: 09:45 Yes.
DS: 09:49 I was just doing interviews — I was going to talk to you about this — all over the state at elder care facilities, and they talked about when you were on your farm you needed two batteries. They were six volt and many people uses their windmills to charge them, but you needed two batteries. Do you know why? One for the car and one for the radio and how people would gather on Sundays to a house where there was a radio. So this addiction to electronics connecting us. It's not new.
CSJ: 09:49 Fundamentally different.
DS: 09:49 It might be better.
CSJ: 09:49 Fundamentally different.
DS: 09:49 I don't think it is.
CSJ: 10:24 Because when you're listening to radio, as I do a lot, you are listening to the word. Your imagination may be picturing that word. But you're listening to the word and so it's primary — it's primarily a verbal exercise in listening ,and you're listening to argument and you're listening to nuance, and then if you suddenly have pictures of a terrible fire or an explosion or a riot or a building coming down that's being imploded, you are so drawn to the visual that it starts to shut down your capacity to listen with discernment, and as I was attempting to say, the quality of our HD televisions is such that were just mesmerized by them. They just, they have a hypnotic effect on us and they disarm us from a) doing other things, which is what my letter was talking about and b) from having a level of genuine intellectual skepticism and discernment.
DS: 11:22 Now, let me go back to Dan's letter. He says 'that television gives Americans another method of overindulgence moreover is more a symptom of society's ills than a cause.' And he ends by saying, 'please remember that without the television we would not have had Archie Bunker, Ken Burns or Walter Cronkite. We need to raise our standards and not shoot the messenger. Yours in pursuit of knowledge, Dan.'
CSJ: 11:49 Well, fair enough. I certainly believe that there is — I watched, at the insistence of my child, two things, one of which I want to talk to you about, but let me say the first one first, David. I watched a documentary on John McCain and it was outstanding.
DS: 11:49 I haven't seen that yet.
CSJ: 12:08 You've got to watch it. It was outstanding and — my daughter's in New York. I'm here and we talked afterwards and we both said we need more of him. We need more people like John McCain. But the second thing, this is, I bet you've seen this. Have you seen the late show thing about Paul McCartney in Liverpool?
DS: 12:08 Mhm.
CSJ: 12:23 That is the greatest thing I ever saw. Tell people about it.
DS: 12:26 A friend of mine came back and said, you have to watch this. I was in tears.
CSJ: 12:30 David, I wept through the whole thing. I was sobbing when the curtain opened and the people in the pub in Liverpool —
DS: 12:30 Don't give it away, don't give it away.
CSJ: 12:38 That's not a deal breaker.
DS: 12:41 It's hosted by James Corden and —
CSJ: 12:43 They go driving around in Liverpool —
DS: 12:43 And Paul McCartney shows up. So what's your point in all this?
CSJ: 12:47 But my point is that's great television. Visually. So I saw —
DS: 12:47 So is the John McCain thing.
CSJ: 12:57 I'm making the case for TV right now. I saw Paul McCartney in — live in Fargo a couple of years ago, but you know, you're like a mile away. In this karaoke thing, you see the — he's beginning to look a little frail, but he still has it.
DS: 13:15 Well, he does show his age, but he, my goodness, he's 76, I think, 75.
CSJ: 13:19 But think of this, David, how many people are there in the world who are very nearly universally admired. I mean, I'm sure there are some McCartney detractors, but he's very nearly universally admired. He is the living embodiment of the hopefulness of the sixties, the innocence, the optimism, the belief that this was the age of Aquarius. He's still alive. He's magnificent.
DS: 13:19 Yeah, it's great. It's great fun.
CSJ: 13:41 And — that's the kind of somewhat slightly fragile McCartney is singing a little out of tune a bit.
DS: 13:41 Back to your case for TV.
CSJ: 13:48 I'm saying that that was great television.
DS: 13:51 And it was great television because we learned something —
CSJ: 13:55 And the visuals really added to it.
DS: 13:55 We were engaged —
CSJ: 13:55 Yes.
DS: 13:55 But you're against television, like, reality TV?
CSJ: 14:03 Yes, I think that if we turn off our televisions — I think that for me it's like the fatal glass of beer. I either have to — I can't watch one hour per week. If I start watching television, I'm at Three's Company marathons. I'm there eating Cheetos at Three's Company marathons.
DS: 14:20 We'll find someone that can talk to you about that.
CSJ: 14:20 No. True. Don't you?
DS: 14:30 No. On this subject, it was quite an essay. And I stopped at the end of it and said, man, that's, you're onto something there. And a lot of people reacted that way. And we did get, if I may go back to letters, we did get a letter from someone asking, please how can we hear that again? And it's, you can find those, every week
CSJ: 14:46 They want to hear my essay on television?
DS: 14:47 Right. And you can find those every week, if you go to Jeffersonhour.com, you'll find links to that week's essay. Now, I don't know how long they keep them up. Yeah.
CSJ: 14:57 Wasn't he going to create an anthology of the essays?
DS: 15:00 Yeah, well we did last year, but this is a newer one, so for sure you can get it. If you joined the 1776 Club, which is a great way to support the show.
CSJ: 15:07 Or if you send me a case of wine, I'll put a hand-signed copy in the mail to you.
DS: 15:07 Any particular vintage?
CSJ: 15:07 Bordeaux please.
DS: 15:07 What year?
CSJ: 15:07 65.
DS: 15:07 And how many bottles?
CSJ: 15:20 They come in cases of 12 or 20.
DS: 15:21 Jeez, you don't ask for me. You are indulgent.
CSJ: 15:21 Hand signed.
DS: 15:26 You are indulgent. While you were away. I had a couple of encounters that I would love to share with you if I might. A woman that I met in Valley City.
CSJ: 15:38 Valley City, North Dakota, a town in eastern North Dakota.
DS: 15:39 It was just wonderful. And another gentleman drove, he drove six hours, to get to Bismarck.
CSJ: 15:39 What was his name?
DS: 15:51 I will reveal that in the next segment, but he drove six hours to come to Bismarck to visit us unannounced and I wasn't here.
CSJ: 15:51 I wasn't here, I was gone actually.
DS: 15:51 You were out of the state.
CSJ: 15:51 I was somewhere else.
DS: 16:03 If not out of the country. And I was out of the studio and he sat here and waited and waited until I returned.
CSJ: 16:03 Whoa.
DS: 16:12 He sat in our lobby at the studio for at least two hours.
CSJ: 16:15 Wait a minute, let me get this straight.
DS: 16:16 I'll get to it. Next segment.
CSJ: 16:16 He drove from South Dakota?
DS: 16:16 Right.
CSJ: 16:20 To the new enlightenment Radio Network Studio, not the barn.
DS: 16:20 Right. Makoché Studios actually.
CSJ: 16:20 And you met him?
DS: 16:20 I met him.
CSJ: 16:20 That's a long drive.
DS: 16:20 It is.
CSJ: 16:30 No, that's a long drive.
DS: 16:33 Right now, we need to take a short break. When we return, we will introduce you to mike and share part of the conversation he and I had. We'll be back in just a moment. You're listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
CSJ: 16:57 So that's John Prine and that is the modern Candide from Voltaire. Cultivate your garden, blow up your TV.
DS: 17:08 It's actually titled "Spanish pipe dream." I can't believe you haven't heard that.
CSJ: 17:09 I had never heard that before. Thank you. But did you say John Denver recorded it? Covered it?
DS: 17:13 Perhaps, I do not know.
CSJ: 17:14 Maybe it was just a verbal slip.
DS: 17:14 You know who would know?
CSJ: 17:14 Who?
DS: 17:14 Crisler.
CSJ: 17:20 And I want to say Crisler sent you what appears to be a self portrait.
DS: 17:20 [Laughing] That's awful.
CSJ: 17:20 It's a picture of John Adams.
DS: 17:20 He sent a package and I just —
CSJ: 17:20 Why not to me, Crisler?
DS: 17:20 That's what I assume —
CSJ: 17:20 Why not to me, Crisler?
DS: 17:20 Everything comes to you.
CSJ: 17:20 I thought it was a self-portrait.
DS: 17:38 You're the one who asked for it. So I thought it was for you and I texted him back and said, you know, by the way, your package arrived safely. I'll give it to Clay next time he's in, and he wrote, he texted me back and said, it's for you dummy.
CSJ: 17:38 That's a double insult.
DS: 17:38 No, it's Crisler —
CSJ: 17:38 It's a double insult, Crisler.
DS: 17:53 It's Crisler's humor and he's a great guy.
CSJ: 17:53 It's actually well done.
DS: 17:56 It turns out he's quite a good artist. It's a portrait. We may want to post this on the site. It's a portrait of John Adams.
CSJ: 18:02 Oh I thought it was Crisler.
DS: 18:04 And I wonder why he thought I should have —
CSJ: 18:07 Because you're an Adamsite as everyone now knows. A skeptic. A pessimist.
DS: 18:13 I just wanted to take advantage of a few minutes —
CSJ: 18:13 It was beautiful work by Crisler.
DS: 18:19 To publicly think Crisler for this wonderful gift, and to point out, he sent it to me, not you.
CSJ: 18:25 I walked into your office and there it was and I thought that is a very fine portrait of John Adams. And I said, where did you get that? And you said the fatal word, Crisler. That's all I know. I got nothing, Crisler.
DS: 18:39 With your permission. I am going to play you something I recorded while you were away.
CSJ: 18:44 This is the one that you talked about before the break. The man who lives in Germany, but he happened to be in South Dakota and he drove all the way from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Bismarck.
DS: 18:44 He did.
CSJ: 18:44 Wow.
Mike Kreinhop: 18:58 My name is Mike Kreinhop, I'm stationed in Germany. And I'm back in the states taking care of some pre retirement things and decided — I was in South Dakota and while I was catching up on some past episodes of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, I heard the April 24th issue where you mentioned my wife and I by name as we were new 1776 Club members.
CSJ: 18:58 That's got to be a weird phenomenon.
MK: 19:18 I'm only six hours away. This is too good of an opportunity.
DS: 19:18 Six hours away?
MK: 19:18 A drive. Yeah.
DS: 19:23 You drove six hours to come here.
MK: 19:26 I did, well considering where I live, six hours
CSJ: 19:28 Meaning that he's usually in Germany
MK: 19:30 from Germany to the drive up here is nothing. So yeah, it's worth it.
DS: 19:36 Well great. And you're in the studio right now.
MK: 19:36 Yes.
DS: 19:39 And this is where, when we're in studio, we produce the show. So you said you're — well, first off, thanks very much for being a 1776 Club member.
MK: 19:48 Well it's my pleasure. Thank you for putting together a —
DS: 19:48 We appreciate it.
CSJ: 19:48 Wow.
MK: 19:52 — an outstanding production.
DS: 19:54 So you've listened for a long time or?
MK: 19:56 Yes, since probably 2009.
DS: 19:56 Wow.
MK: 20:05 Early on. And it was because of that that we learned about the Mediterranean cruise that Clay had put together through —
DS: 20:05 You mentioned that.
MK: 20:16 So we joined him, met him in Athens. The rest of the group came from —
CSJ: 20:19 We were in Cairo, we were in Israel.
MK: 20:21 We had just a very enjoyable 14 day cruise and got to see Clay as Thomas Jefferson on the fourth of July out in the middle of the ocean.
CSJ: 20:21 Wow. I forgot that.
MK: 20:33 So it was quite — they say you should never meet your heroes, it turned out to be okay.
DS: 20:33 Yeah, he would say, dream higher.
CSJ: 20:33 Exactly.
DS: 20:40 So what attracted you to the Jefferson Hour?
MK: 20:45 The history. I lived in Virginia for a long time.
DS: 20:48 Whereabouts in Virginia?
MK: 20:48 In a little town called Warrenton.
CSJ: 20:48 Sure, I know where that is. I've been there.
MK: 20:53 Not too far from Manassas and about 40 miles west of DC.
DS: 20:53 Steeped in history.
MK: 21:01 Yes. So always been enamored with Virginia and then I can't remember how I found the Jefferson Hour. But once I started listening to the very first episode, I was hooked and then it was just — being in Germany, we don't, it's not on any of the radio stations, so it's purely podcast. So, just keep waiting for the next
CSJ: 21:01 I want to be on German public radio.
DS: 21:22 Sitting across from Clay and doing this program, it's really a case of listening, because the guy's knowledge is encyclopedic, photographic — he continually amazes me with the insight he's got and how he is able to tie events from the past to what we're going through.
MK: 21:44 I'm impressed with the way he can be in and out of character even though Jefferson's views may be totally different —
CSJ: 21:51 They usually are.
DS: 21:52 They often are.
MK: 21:55 But he presents them. And I find myself, the more I listen, the better, the more broad my appreciation of the constitution, of the way the government was founded.
CSJ: 21:55 Wow.
MK: 21:55 It is an eye opener.
DS: 22:08 There are those who, you know, don't really — they're not students of history. And I feel like, especially if you're in government, you need to be. If you're in a position of leadership, because otherwise as someone said, we're doomed to repeat it.
MK: 22:22 Right, it helps them know how you got where you are.
DS: 22:24 That to me, what you just said, how we got where we are is really the importance of the show and you'd think after — I've been doing this with Clay off and on for 10 years and you'd think you'd run out of observations, things to discuss, but, you know, never.
CSJ: 22:24 This is like the the mystery science theater. Two whippersnappers.
MK: 22:42 And that's the other thing that impresses me about the show is the fact that every episode is different.
CSJ: 22:42 That's because we don't prepare.
MK: 22:48 There's a new topic. Even when he's out of character and you're talking about contemporary issues, they're still, it's still a very enjoyable program.
CSJ: 22:48 There you go.
DS: 22:57 So you've been listening a long time.
MK: 22:59 Yes. My wife and I both have been listening.
DS: 23:01 So critique the show. What would you like more of? What would you like less of? What do you think, how's our balance?
MK: 23:01 I like the —
CSJ: 23:01 Oh here it comes.
MK: 23:08 I like when you take a break from everything and start addressing the listeners' questions and answers.
CSJ: 23:08 Like this one.
MK: 23:16 That, I probably would have more of that. I would have less of the musical interludes. I don't get those on the podcast.
DS: 23:23 That's interesting. When we first started doing podcasts, and if I can go back that far, I talked to Nancy Franke and Clay Jenkinson and said, 'well, you know, we really ought to do podcasts.' And it was like, 'well, what's that?' And I explained and, 'well, how's that good for us?' And I said, 'you're going to have an audience all over the world eventually.'
MK: 23:23 Correct.
CSJ: 23:46 One listener in Germany, one in Denmark.
DS: 23:49 — completely converted. So when we started doing that, the podcasts initially were produced without music between, and I got a number of letters from people who said, I wish you would put the music back in because it gives us a break —
CSJ: 23:49 From having to listen to that guy.
DS: 24:05 So I did. Maybe what I ought to do is shorten the musical interlude. Would that satisfy you?
MK: 24:11 That would, I would appreciate that sir. But —
DS: 24:11 I can do that —
MK: 24:16 Like on a podcast, so when I need to go do something different, I can hit the pause button or take it with me, but were it not for the podcast, I would not know anything about the Jefferson Hour.
DS: 24:25 I will take that under advisement and see if within — we're a few shows out right now. As you know, Clay's not in town otherwise we would have.
CSJ: 24:33 I was hiding in the garage —
DS: 24:35 but his summer schedule is so busy as you mentioned, the tours. So give me a few shows to catch up and I will shorten those musical interludes. We'll see what kind of reaction we get.
MK: 24:50 Well being that's the only con to the show. Don't let that bother you.
DS: 24:50 There are more cons.
CSJ: 24:55 There are two cons right at the center of it.
DS: 24:57 There are people who absolutely love it when we talk about gardens and Jefferson and gardening and there are people who go enough with the gardening already. There are people who get very upset when we talk about contemporary issues. I mean it's such a volatile time. It's really hard not to get some blow back. If you talk about something like the Second Amendment, you get critical mail from both sides of the issue and that's when I figure we've succeeded in trying to talk rationally about it is when we have pro people of upset or making suggestions and con people upset.
MK: 25:36 I agree. And if you're getting them then people are listening. I can't remember who it was, said even bad publicity is still publicity, but don't, please don't shy away from the contentious issues.
DS: 25:36 No, you think that's good?
MK: 25:53 Oh absolutely. Because it's another perspective. Another, a different angle of looking at something.
DS: 25:53 Right.
MK: 25:59 And if — your last episode where — the one that I just listened to was, one of the people wrote in and said — it was clear how they phrased the question, where they were coming from, so very polarized in one direction but not apparently open to other views.
DS: 26:18 You bring up a really good point and it's a tone that Clay strives for and I follow his lead and that's to civil discourse. There are political viewpoints that it's probably pretty obvious that I disagree with at times, but my attempt is to always find where those folks are coming from and try to understand it and I think that's worthwhile and I hope we do continue that, but I also like your suggestion about more listeners
CSJ: 26:18 Could use some.
DS: 26:46 — and you know, for a long time on the show I've said, call us, people can call us, they can leave us a voice mail for the President, for Clay, we'll answer it. If you're driving from South Dakota — I don't know how many people are going to do that from Germany, but you know, here you are. So you have any questions you'd like to present to either President Jefferson or Clay Jenkinson that I can relate to him?
MK: 27:10 Where's the barn?
DS: 27:10 Where's the barn.
CSJ: 27:10 Here we go.
DS: 27:14 Okay. Moving on.
MK: 27:22 Okay. Nope, that's — again, today was just a target of opportunity, just on the off chance that somebody will be here and you are. So I'm just, I'm thrilled to get a peek behind the curtain on how the sausage is made. I am truly impressed with your studio.
DS: 27:35 Oh, it's a great little room. Yeah.
MK: 27:39 It's deceptive when you see it from the street, but as you walk in and walk through the different studios, it's quite large.
DS: 27:46 I'm so glad to meet you. I'm sorry Clay isn't here. I'm sure he would have loved to have met you, but you've already met — he has a bunch more of these cultural tours coming up. I think there's going to be one in France.
CSJ: 28:00 There is. Jefferson and France. Fall of 2019. Jefferson, France, 2019.
MK: 28:07 I appreciate the time that you've taken out of your day on a no notice a visit. Again, thank you very much.
DS: 28:15 Once again. Thank you. And thanks so much for being a 1776 Club member.
MK: 28:15 It's my pleasure.
DS: 28:15 Thanks so much.
DS: 28:21 So that's what happened while you were away
CSJ: 28:21 Mike from Germany and Sioux Falls came.
DS: 28:21 He was just a great guy.
CSJ: 28:21 How nice of him.
DS: 28:21 It was really — all kidding aside.
CSJ: 28:21 All the sarcasm aside.
DS: 28:31 Yeah. And there was enough of that.
CSJ: 28:31 It was fun.
DS: 28:31 It was.
CSJ: 28:35 I like — do you ever watch Mystery Science Theater?
DS: 28:37 I remember that show, I don't even know if it's on anymore.
CSJ: 28:41 It's not on anymore. You can get it on YouTube, but there's an incredible episode on Hamlet where they make fun of Hamlet. It's so cool.
DS: 28:48 Well, that would be TV watching, I'll check it out though. I want to move on to a bit of listener mail if I might. There's one here that I thought you would like to address. It's from Deanna Wallach. This is regarding your Circumstances episode. She says, 'I just wanted to drop a line of protest. Apologies, I'm a couple of episodes behind. When Clay protests the Post and the Times showing favoritism towards the Clintons at the beginning of the episode when he did, I was indignant. The New York Times has long been one of, if not the most anti-Clinton mainstream publications. This animosity leads way back to the governor Bill days and has never particularly relented.'
CSJ: 29:34 Interesting. Yeah, I didn't. I mean I'm, I'm unaware of that and I should be more aware of it. So I take her point. Thank you for clarifying that and informing me, I'm just completely unaware of that.
DS: 29:46 She says several other outlets and members of the Times journalism family itself have wondered if the Times strong anti-Clinton bent helped lead to her 2016 loss.
CSJ: 29:56 You know, we got so much mail about the Washington Post's view that president trump has lied more than 3000 times. So I looked into it.
DS: 29:56 What'd you find?
CSJ: 30:08 Well, it depends on how you count. So if you want to talk about like identifiable, discrete, different mistruths — things that are — what do they call that, where it's like Pinocchio Pants on fire lies. It comes to several hundred. And then there's a lot of repetition. There's a, you know, he repeats himself. There are lots of instances that are of doubtful validity, so 3000 that holds up from a certain point of view, but it's not as flabbergasting, let's say, as it might at first appear. If you actually look at the, let's call them the substantive lies, the ones that really matter rather than just a verbal quip here and a verbal quip there. I think that it is possible to dispute that figure of 3,000. It's sort of piling it on even though technically you can.
DS: 30:59 Yeah, I think they — in looking into it, they count the same lies more than once.
CSJ: 31:06 Right, so that doesn't really make sense to me.
DS: 31:08 But on the other hand, we're not used to president's lying to us with that kind of frequency, regularity.
CSJ: 31:16 No, it's a whole new norm or lack of norm.
DS: 31:16 Let's hope not.
CSJ: 31:19 But you know, the Conservatives say in their letters to me, 'yeah, but they didn't say you could keep your physician,' you know, there's a lot of anger about the handful of very, what are regarded as very serious mistruths, that came out of Barack Obama's head. And they somehow regard that as more accountable because we know that Trump has kind of a bombastic figure, but Obama pretended to be a man of truth and so they find that more objectionable than say you might or I might of Trump's whoppers.
DS: 31:47 Thanks Deanna Wallach for that. We also got one from Dave Berg who says he's a longtime listener, and towards the end of the show, #1290, you answered a question from a listener about the second amendment — 'you called for a national robust, thoughtful evidence based conversation on the subject. I am sorry for being so un-Jeffersonian with my cynicism, but I'm asking if you think that we as a country have had a national, robust, thoughtful evidence based conversation on anything since the constitutional debates.'
CSJ: 31:47 Wow.
DS: 32:20 'And how in this partisan atmosphere we should go about getting one started.'
CSJ: 32:24 You know, I don't want to take much time on this, David, but I'll say this, that when I moderate public forums, you often have to listen to some noise before you can get to some substance. People need to vent. They need to get something off of their chest. There's something they'd been wanting to say, and they're angry. They're enraged, they're bitter, they're confused, they're frustrated. And I find that if they get to say the things that they need to say, they often then calm down and are willing to have a more serious conversation. Over the weekend I got into it with somebody and I steadfastly responded with civility and by the end of the set of exchanges we had come to some common ground. We still didn't agree, but by trying to find the center and saying, well, 'what? What might we agree on? Where where our points of view similar or identical,' that solves a lot of problems. I think the American people are up to it. I'm not a cynic about this. I think we need to discipline ourselves. All of us, every one of us, you, me, everyone, but I think we can have these debates, but we need to agree that we're not just going to spout talking points that we're actually going to try to dig in, do some historical research, listen carefully to experts, but not automatically to accept what they have to say and then to say, 'well, how do we agree? Are there any areas here about the second amendment or about the fifth amendment or about abortion or about Supreme Court justices or stare decisis? Are there any areas where we can agree in some sense, and let's start from there. Let's see how long we can stay in the same equation.' I'm an optimist about this. I'm not a pessimist.
DS: 34:07 I'm glad to hear that. That's great.
CSJ: 34:07 Aren't you?
DS: 34:07 Oh yeah. But you fluctuate sometimes.
CSJ: 34:15 I have moods of great pessimism about where we're headed, but I think that people can do it. I think you just have to say, come on, come on. Let's — you get your talking points, I get mine, now let's really talk.
DS: 34:25 We have been getting a lot of mail lately, but one piece of mail we've gotten a lot is a lot of people that have made reservations for your Steinbeck tour. Have you been following that?
CSJ: 34:25 Yes.
DS: 34:37 I think we've had more people mail us and ask for more info and make reservations than I've ever seen before. Now your Lewis and Clark tour.
CSJ: 34:37 Full.
DS: 34:37 You'll be in the heat of that when this show broadcasts.
CSJ: 34:52 I go in the end of July for 10 days on that trip, but then there are two winter encampments. But first the Steinbeck thing is March 2nd through 8th, 2019. March 2nd through 8th. You fly to San Jose, it's six or so days in John Steinbeck's Monterey and Salinas and so on. It's magnificent. Russ Eagle, my good friend is the cohost of that. He's a Steinbeck guy. It's amazing journey — to 24th, and David next fall, the fall of 2019. Finally, after years of dithering, Jefferson's France. We are actually going on our 10 day journey to Thomas Jefferson's France in the fall of 2019.
DS: 35:32 We are now, sir, going to take a short break. When we return. I've got a very special woman I want you to meet. We'll be back in just a moment. You're listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
DS: 35:48 Welcome back to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with or about President Thomas Jefferson. This week we're joined by the creator of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Mr Clay Jenkinson. Welcome back, sir.
CSJ: 35:48 Thank you my friend.
DS: 36:02 Now let's shift the conversation a little bit here. You and I were talking about what we've been up to these days and I told you about a project that I'm working on for the North Dakota Council on the Arts. Kind of different for me outside of what I normally do. I got contacted by an old dear friend of mine, Troyd Geist, who I've worked with on projects for many years, and I got involved in a project where I'm traveling around to 10 different elder care facilities in North Dakota and interviewing elders.
CSJ: 36:02 All over the state?
DS: 36:37 Yes. All over the state. And it, you know, it just led to some fascinating conversations. Of course, a lot of these folks have a great deal in common. For instance, you would ask the group, 'how many of you grew up on family farms?' And every hand would rise.
CSJ: 36:37 'How many of you are Jefferson Hour listeners?' Yeah.
DS: 36:55 Well, funny you should bring that up because I was in one town, Valley City.
CSJ: 37:02 Which is in the east central part of the state.
DS: 37:06 Yes. Cheyenne Care Facility there. And a woman kept looking at me and she finally said, are you on the Jefferson Hour
CSJ: 37:10 Wow. That had to be a bit heady.
DS: 37:10 Well, it was.
CSJ: 37:13 You were recognized for your silken voice.
DS: 37:17 I don't know about that, but her name is Carol.
Carol: 37:17 Do you do the Thomas Jefferson Hour?
DS: 37:17 How did you know?
Carol: 37:24 Well, I listen to it every chance I get.
DS: 37:29 Am I in trouble or am I okay?
Carol: 37:30 Oh, it is an excellent program. I just, I wish I had copies of all of them. I wish I had tapes of all of them because — the way it's handled and, and the way they go through and bring the history in and will tell us how it's affecting us today and what should we be doing and —
DS: 37:51 Carol's in her eighties and just bright as a tack and she had injured her hip and she was there for rehabilitation.
CSJ: 38:00 She's not there permanently?
DS: 38:01 I certainly hope not because she needs to get back to her students.
CSJ: 38:01 She's a piano teacher.
DS: 38:08 She's a music teacher. I found out a little bit about her.
Carol: 38:11 I'm Carol. I'm a music teacher and I do some publishing and things like that and I miss my students like everyday. I can't imagine not teaching. That's why people say, 'Now are you still teaching?' Well I'm still breathing. I have a little typed out thing that I put on my piano at home, my teaching piano, and it says, when you're through learning, you're through, and I tell every student, 'that's not for you. That's for me,' and I don't suppose there's been many very many students that I haven't learned from.
DS: 38:44 That's pretty Jeffersonian, I think.
CSJ: 38:47 That's sweet. A typewritten note on the teaching piano.
DS: 38:50 In the beginning she said, 'I was a teacher and I got into publishing,' she just sort of glossed over that, but I looked her up. You know, it's quite an impressive woman. She was a North Dakota Music Teachers Association fellow of the year, a number of other awards and recognitions, but she got a call — told a great story about getting a call from a fellow in Florida and being asked to come and work for Columbia Pictures. Publications there.
CSJ: 38:50 Amazing.
DS: 39:14 Director of keyboard publications and she did that and it, but she's back in North Dakota. She still teaches a little. Let me play another, another line from her.
CSJ: 39:14 This is Carol of Valley City.
DS: 39:25 And she talks about how important Jefferson is to her.
Carol: 39:27 I've read about Thomas Jefferson as much as I can and some of the things that he said, let's see — some of — I wish I could think of some of the quotes right now, but music is a vital part of life. I would say it's my passion where I can contribute and help others, but Thomas Jefferson is a model for me in many ways. So I need to increase my Thomas Jefferson library because a lot of these things, you know — I have taken a lot of notes from the radio show. There were actually times that I was a church organist and I thought, 'do I have to play or can I listen to the Thomas Jefferson Hour?'
DS: 40:16 In our part of the world, the Thomas Jefferson Hour runs on Sunday mornings. So we get that from church goers a lot.
CSJ: 40:20 I meet people and they say, 'I have to choose church or the Jefferson Hour.' And I always say, 'come to the Jefferson Hour. Unitarianism. Deism. The age of reason. Reason is our only oracle.' And they just give me a kind of a look, but she was right when she said she wished that she had a Jefferson quote right at the tip of her tongue.
DS: 40:20 She did.
CSJ: 40:37 Jefferson said music is the favorite passion of my soul, and he said that music is the one thing I envy in the French. It almost makes me covet their culture because their music is so divine.
DS: 40:48 Well, she did have a bit of a thank you for you sir.
CSJ: 40:48 Oh my.
Carol: 40:53 Please give Clay my thanks again for all he has done for me personally, I can't thank him universally, but for my family because we have followed him wherever. I mean wherever my kids have gone.
CSJ: 41:06 How sweet. That's great. You know, I meet people and they say, 'are you Mr Jenkinson?' 'Of course,' and they say, 'I listen to you and it makes a difference in my life,' and I always think that's the highest praise.
DS: 41:17 It was just a joy to meet Carol. I feel so fortunate that I did meet her, and Carol get well, get back to your students soon.
CSJ: 41:25 We wish you well there in Valley City. Keep listening and teach your students well. I wish, David, if I could have done anything differently in my life, I would've learned music. I would have been able to play the violin or the clarinet and I would have learned to paint. I'm pitiful at both.
DS: 41:43 Well, it's not too late.
CSJ: 41:44 It's sort of pretty late.
DS: 41:47 No, it's not. You know, a Ukulele. You could take it along on the, uh, get a little waterproof case. Take it along on the Lewis and Clark.
CSJ: 41:53 I should. My father played the Ukulele and he tried to teach me when I was a boy, not that hard. And he said, if you can play "Sunny Side of the Street," you'll get lots of girls. "Grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep."
DS: 41:53 You got melody, you got timing.
CSJ: 42:08 "Direct your feet to the sunny side of the street."
DS: 42:08 Very good.
CSJ: 42:13 Yeah. He had a Ukulele. I don't know if it worked. It didn't work for me.
DS: 42:16 Well, you should not give up with all of the things that you have accomplished in your life. You should try again.
CSJ: 42:23 Somebody should send me a spectacular Ukulele.
DS: 42:23 No, you should just go get one.
CSJ: 42:23 And directions.
DS: 42:29 Because if you bought it, you would mean more to you.
CSJ: 42:33 Well maybe, but you know, a gift is a gift. Anyway. Interesting that you've been recording all over the state with these senior citizens. What's the strangest place you've been so far?
DS: 42:46 Really no strange places. Some very incredible stories. I just really felt fortunate to hear this collective wisdom. It's almost like a forgotten segment of society and they have so much life experience and wisdom and it's kinda like Mike said in our previous segment, if, how can you know where you're going if you don't know where you came from? I was really the lucky one. I'm sure at some point these are all going to be made public and we'll let folks know if they are interested. But I really enjoyed myself and I learned a lot.
CSJ: 43:22 From my point of view, they are the ones that made it possible to live here. They had harder lives against greater challenges through the thirties. They grew up in a much, much, much more difficult North Dakota than you and I live in, and they did it and they gave it to us with all of its prosperity and its infrastructure and its educational system. We are the easy beneficiaries of these pioneers.
DS: 43:47 And in great part they are very Jeffersonian. As I said before, you ask, how many of you grew up on a family farm? And nearly every hand goes up.
CSJ: 43:57 They all did. But now if you go into an elementary school and ask that question you get one, one little hand.
DS: 43:57 Maybe.
CSJ: 44:04 One little horny headed hand of toil, one little gnarled hand with dirt under the finger nails.
DS: 44:10 One other thing that I noticed is that they all pretty much experienced some degree of poverty, but they all said we were poor, but we didn't know it.
CSJ: 44:10 That's universally said.
DS: 44:21 And the other thing was these farm families, they said we were poor, but we never went hungry.
CSJ: 44:28 Well, of course they butchered their own hog
DS: 44:28 Plant their own gardens.
CSJ: 44:31 Gather their own chicken.
DS: 44:32 I spoke with a woman in Jamestown, North Dakota who was 108 years old.
CSJ: 44:40 No Way. 108. That's close to the record.
DS: 44:41 Her name is blossom. But she doesn't go by that. Her mother gave her that name and she thinks she probably got it from a book.
CSJ: 44:48 What does she call herself?
DS: 44:48 Bobbie.
CSJ: 44:48 Wow. 108.
DS: 44:51 One of the things she talked about was food and how everything tasted so good back then as, you know, they prep their own food.
CSJ: 44:58 It's like our tomato show.
DS: 45:00 But she said, now everything's out of a box.
CSJ: 45:00 It's bland. It's processed.
DS: 45:00 Yeah. Yeah. So.
CSJ: 45:06 This has got to be good for you because —
DS: 45:06 It's great for me.
CSJ: 45:06 — it deepens your own agrarian rootedness.
DS: 45:10 It's great for me. Speaking of which, how's your garden?
CSJ: 45:15 My tomatoes. We had one of the greatest thunderstorms I've ever been in a few days ago. And on the news they were predicting, I don't know whether it was baseball sized hail or beach ball hail, but they were saying the hail is going to destroy North Dakota.
DS: 45:15 I think softball, I think.
CSJ: 45:36 Huge hail. And I thought, bring it, honey. I mean I've never seen a hailstorm like that. I hoped it would just crush my whole house, but it didn't come. There was no hail and my tomatoes look fantastic. They are the best looking tomatoes I have ever grown. If we don't get rained out. David, the winds were 75 miles an hour in gusts that night.
DS: 45:52 I can't believe that I slept through that.
CSJ: 45:52 My cottonwood tree was just like, bent over almost on its side. And I thought, why doesn't it snap? It just makes you fall in love with the resilience of nature. And I went out the next day. The tomatoes are just fine.
DS: 46:04 Well, lastly, before we go to this week's essay, we're taping this a bit early because you are into your busy, busy, busy season.
CSJ: 46:14 I'm going off to Britain for a few days. Then I'm going on the Lewis and Clark trail adventure that I do every summer. It's been crazy and this time Becky has decided not to drown me.
DS: 46:14 Uh, that's ominous.
CSJ: 46:14 I know. I'm worried.
DS: 46:14 Yeah.
CSJ: 46:14 Yeah. She said she's not —
DS: 46:14 That could mean something.
CSJ: 46:33 There's going to be no incident. I worry, you know, now I can't sleep at night.
DS: 46:37 Do you have cell phones out there?
CSJ: 46:37 No.
DS: 46:37 What are you going to do?
CSJ: 46:41 I'm going to watch my back.
DS: 46:41 But you're a pacifist by nature.
CSJ: 46:47 I've never struck anyone in the whole course of my life.
DS: 46:50 You want to talk about any upcoming Jefferson Hour shows?
CSJ: 46:54 Well, I've been interested in this area that we haven't — I don't think we've ever talked about Jefferson's political missteps. He had a few and I want to go through those because I want to show that Jefferson, like every other great man, had off days, times when they're just not firing on all cylinders.
DS: 47:18 Took him awhile to get into the spirit of the office or the swing of the office.
CSJ: 47:21 So I think everyone has this where you just, you know, you're for whatever — bio rhythms or circumstances or whatever's going on in your, heart you just get a little tone deaf or you don't quite focus in clarity. And so I want to show that Jefferson himself was capable of all of this. I think that's an interesting subject.
DS: 47:40 That would be interesting conversation. I look forward to that. I wanted to do one on an article I read, "Five features of better arguments."
CSJ: 47:40 Oh, I saw that.
DS: 47:54 Looking towards civil discussion because I think we can always use more help on that. But it is time for this week's Jefferson Watch, what are you going to talk about this week?
CSJ: 48:02 I'm going to talk about how the country sometimes veers from the norm. You hear the word norms a lot these days, but it almost always finds its way back to the center. And I think that we're now living in kind of an anxious moment for a lot of different reasons, but we will, I hope, move back to the center and greater stability. That's my hope.
DS: 48:02 The pendulum swings.
CSJ: 48:29 Yeah. Some people think the pendulum's going to swing right off the face of the earth. I think that maybe that's true, but my hope is that we move back to the center.
DS: 48:37 Well, as always, thank you for an enlightening —
CSJ: 48:40 Thanks to Mike, thanks to Carol. Thanks to you.
DS: 48:42 I apologize if we got a little bit out of hand with Mike. and I hope they take it in the spirit of appreciation.
CSJ: 48:47 Crisler, if you just send me a Ben Franklin, I'll get over it.
DS: 48:49 All right. Thanks Clay, and it is now time for this week's Jefferson Watch.