We respond to listener mail this week, including questions related to the principle of one-person one-vote, and we discuss replies to Clay’s request for some thoughtful conservative perspectives from listeners who support the Trump administration.
We love questions, comments, and small essays from our listeners from all over the country — even all over the world. We take them all seriously and we try to address as many as we can. Sometimes it's easier to address them out of character, and that's this week's program. We talk about a whole range of subjects, all of them generated by our listeners who are fascinated by the connection between Jefferson's era and the current chaos, whatever it is, in our national political arena. We read a letter from our new political friend down south, Tim Clemmons, who wonders whether we are really fair about certain questions of the give and take of our Justice Department. Plus, David gets a chance to brag about his two pound tomato, an Amana Orange.
View of the Stone walls on the Upper Missouri (Tableau 41) by Karl Bodmer
Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Frederick Kempe
“While in Paris, Jefferson wrote one of the finest love letters of the English language—his 11-page dialogue, My Head and My Heart—to Maria Cosway, perhaps the single most alluring woman Jefferson ever met. He wrote the letter with his left hand, just weeks after breaking his right hand in what might be called a Freudian slip.”
Read this week's Jefferson Watch essay, “Let Us Now Visit France.”
What Would Jefferson Do?
CSJ: 00:00 Hello podcasters.
DS: 00:01 Gee, I hope we did Tim Clemmons justice on this show. It kind of got rushed.
CSJ: 00:07 I said, I'm looking for thoughtful conservatives who want to make the caset for Trump, and so we're getting some of that, right? You've gotten a number of letters and people saying, all right, I'll step up and try to address these questions. I think that's really important.
DS: 00:22 The thing that still rings in my ear — In your final essay, you talked about checks and balances. How did you put that? Do you remember?
CSJ: 00:30 I said, instead of all this crazy talk about impeachment, and it may come to that. Who knows. What we really need is accountability, oversight, transparency, supervision and checks and balances. Remember John Adams said to Jefferson, checks and balances, Mr Jefferson, checks and balances.
DS: 00:50 In exactly that voice, right?
CSJ: 00:50 That's his voice, but my point is that, so my evolution and thinking is that — all right now, Trump's had well more than a year. It looks to me like his administration is coming apart at the seams. I believe that the Mueller probe is going to lead to a lot more indictments and it's going to lead the whole chaos in a constitutional crisis. I just hope that we don't have to go through this because it — my larger point is that great nations address great issues: education, immigration, industrial policy, the coming of robotics and AI, our place in the world. We're not addressing those questions because we keep getting tripped up and he's tripping us up. Frankly. I mean, I think that's fair, but we need to focus on what America really will come to represent in the 21st century. China is rising, India is rising. NATO is losing faith in America and starting to say, well, we're going to have to do this by ourselves. The European Union is disillusioned with the United States. Canada and Mexico — I heard John Meacham talking about this over the weekend on a talk show and he said, you want your two neighbors to be your pals and to be reliable and to be in harmony with them. Why would you want to create unnecessary tension with the two parts of your situation that you most want to be stable? He said, no other country in the world has this. Every other country in the world is surrounded by more difficult neighbors. We happen to be surrounded by two world class neighbors. Why would we want to pick fights with them and so the world is going to move forward and great nations move forward and we are tripping up over a bunch of things that I think are unworthy of the most important nation on earth. Certainly unworthy of Jefferson's republic, but Donald Trump is Donald Trump. Is they like to say, he's baked in. He is what he is. He's not changing and he got elected. We have to always remember that he was elected and that's how it works in our system, but we do need checks and balances and the congress has not been a very good other branch of government. For whatever reason, Congress has appeared to be relatively weak in saying, hey, we are a coequal branch of government. We have a fiduciary duty to be a watchdog on any administration, Republican or Democratic. Congress has, I think, failed in some part of that and so that's why people like George Will, who's a very deep, traditional, conservative, have said we must elect a Democratic House of Representatives in November to bring about a greater set of checks and balances for what is in many ways a runaway administration. Anyway, all I'm saying is that I want — I urge all of us to ratchet this thing down and to try to stop taking the bait every time and to be more civil, but also to insist upon the truth if we can understand what the truth is, but to avoid this kind of easy talking point partisanship that I have been guilty of. I won't say you've been guilty of it, but I think all of us are guilty of at times. Does that make sense? Or is that just, is that just Pollyanna?
DS: 04:05 No, and thanks again to Tim Clemmons for that letter. Hopefully he'll keep in touch with us.
CSJ: 04:10 Well, I think he will, because I want, you know, I've been reading — I've probably read a dozen books now trying to understand what the Trump anger phenomenon is all about and it's actually helped, David. Here's I guess the last thing I'll say about this, unless the outraged class, people who just think that Trump is the is Beelzebub, unless the outrage class comes to terms with the anger that he has embodied and now represents, we're going to have a rough go. We can't just dismiss this group of people as deplorable. We have to try to understand what their anger is. If their anger is misguided, we need to try to persuade them. If their anger is just, we need to face that, but it doesn't do any good to call names. 35 million people do actually seem to believe that he can do no wrong. That's worth knowing about. That's worth respecting. Even if you disagree with it. It's worth respecting.
DS: 05:08 And with that, sir, let's go to this week's show.
CSJ: 05:13 Good day citizens, and welcome to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with, about, many things, concerning Thomas Jefferson. And this week we are joined by the creator of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Mr Clay Jenkinson. It is he who is seated across from me now.
CSJ: 05:35 We are not in the barn because it's 105 degrees on the upper great plains.
DS: 05:40 To steal a phrase that Joseph Ellis used, to name drop, a couple shows back. Can we talk?
CSJ: 05:47 Yeah, he stole that himself.
DS: 05:50 Yeah. Was it Joan — Joan Rivers.
CSJ: 05:52 Joan Rivers. That was her tagline for many decades. Can we talk?
DS: 05:55 Well, can we talk a little bit?
CSJ: 05:56 I mean, sure — about —
DS: 05:58 — the shank of the summer, nearing autumn. And of course — gardens.
CSJ: 06:05 I have seldom looked forward to the freeze, but I am because
DS: 06:08 It's so hot —
CSJ: 06:09 Unnecessarily hot —
DS: 06:11 A hundred and eight degrees in Williston, North Dakota, I heard.
CSJ: 06:14 Is that right? The fires in Canada have have given me a kind of bleary irritated eyes.
DS: 06:21 Well we're getting some from California, those poor people by the way. And some from Canada —
CSJ: 06:27 We're not in the barn is my point — we're in the studio today.
DS: 06:30 Where it's cool.
CSJ: 06:32 Cooler.
DS: 06:32 Cooler, yeah. Several months ago we did a show called tomatoes and we just kind of like, okay, we're going to do this, and an average — was such and as — if people are not interested, they'll at least know —
CSJ: 06:43 You grew a two pound tomato.
DS: 06:45 Well it was a half ounce a pound under, but I've got a couple of the two pounders I gotta —
CSJ: 06:49 That's a lot of tomato and our friends that we talk to, said that's not a good tomato. What you want is a smaller tomato —
DS: 06:55 No —
CSJ: 06:55 It was a good tomato?
DS: 06:56 These are Amana Oranges and you take them out of the garden and just marvel at them and then slice —
CSJ: 07:03 It's like a pumpkin —
DS: 07:03 Like half inch, three quarter inch tomato steaks and make sandwiches out of them.
CSJ: 07:07 Have you had your first BLT?
DS: 07:09 I'd be happy to post a picture.
CSJ: 07:11 Sure. Have you had a BLT?
DS: 07:12 Oh, are you kidding? It's like six, seven, eight nights in a row. And before you take a break from that, if ever. Yeah.
CSJ: 07:19 Fantastic. My tomatoes are coming along.
DS: 07:21 I do not do the bacon bit. I do —
CSJ: 07:23 Oh, you don't?
DS: 07:26 No, no.
CSJ: 07:26 Why not?
DS: 07:27 I don't want to say I'm a vegetarian, but I don't —
CSJ: 07:31 You're careful —
DS: 07:31 I'm like Jefferson. I don't eat much meat. Yeah.
CSJ: 07:33 Well he would be proud of you. He was not a vegetarian either —
DS: 07:37 Sometimes we use a phony —
CSJ: 07:41 No, not faux bacon.
DS: 07:42 No, actually it's quite good. Especially in a tomato sandwich.
CSJ: 07:46 So why not a faux tomato?
DS: 07:46 Where in the world —
CSJ: 07:51 Who cares about —
DS: 07:51 It would be very fun to talk to Paul Klee and Craig LeHoullier again.
CSJ: 07:56 You should send them photos.
DS: 07:59 Well, I actually have to to Craig a couple of times, but — So initially I'm pretty impressed with what Paul Klee has achieved with —
CSJ: 08:13 You mean the commercially available, actually tasty tomato, Florida University, University of Florida.
DS: 08:16 And of course we have to thank our good friend Rick Kennerly for sending us the Paul Klee seeds and also Craig LeHoullier who sent a great amount of seeds to us. As long as we're doing business, why don't you update people on the cultural tours if you wish, sir?
CSJ: 08:33 Well, three tours are coming. Two at Lochsa Lodge west of Missoula. There's Shakespeare without Tears, back by popular demand. People loved it. And Water and the West, one of the most significant issues in the history of the West. And it's kind of be a whopper in the 21st century.
DS: 08:51 That's the great asset, the natural resource that's gonna become more and more and more.
CSJ: 09:17 And John Wesley Powell, one of my characters, said, at the second international irrigation conference in 1893 in Los Angeles, 'Gentlemen, there's not a fraction of the water that you are envisioning for all of the projects that you have in mind. You're heaping up a legacy of litigation and conflict.' And of course we know that's true — the Colorado can't water everyone who needs it and wants it and the Missouri is the same and the Columbia and so we have a water deficit. We couldn't support the communities that we do in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and elsewhere, unless water was engineered by human plumbing.
DS: 09:34 Great book on this: Cadillac Desert. I think —
CSJ: 09:37 One of the books for this retreat —
DS: 09:39 It's a bit dated but I think it's been actually updated —
CSJ: 09:41 It has been. He's dead now but there's also a four part documentary film based on Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner —
DS: 09:48 Did Jefferson write about water?
CSJ: 09:49 Not much.
DS: 09:50 Yeah? He was in a situation where —
CSJ: 09:52 Plenty of it —
DS: 09:54 And not worried about it.
CSJ: 09:55 Plenty of it at Monticello, although we've talked before on this program, about what happened when the cisterns went dry, but water was is abundant in Virginia, but if global climate change is real, and we know something's happening, water's going to become a flash point issue west of 100th meridian and so this — this retreat is about water in the west. There's a series of books we're reading and then the Shakespeare one, and then in March, March 2nd through [8th], Steinbeck out in Monterrey — the second of our Steinbeck cultural tours. So they're all coming and people, there's a huge buzz about them.
DS: 10:31 What I have in front of me is a stack of letters and we're going to get to some questions about France, so hold that one — the water thing — before we stop that discussion. Our state North Dakota, pretty arid. I think, what's our annual rainfall? 13, 14 inches. It depends —
CSJ: 10:51 Twenty in the Red River valley and about 12 out in the west.
DS: 10:53 But we do have a pretty good water source with the Missouri and the reservoir.
CSJ: 10:59 The mighty Missouri has been dammed six times.
DS: 11:01 But we also have thousands of oil wells that are fracked and just — that worries me because it can take up to 17 million gallons of water to frack a well.
CSJ: 11:13 And once you put that water, 13,000 feet down it doesn't come back.
DS: 11:17 Yeah. So it's out of the system forever.
CSJ: 11:20 Forever — Well —
DS: 11:21 I can't help but wonder if you know 50 to 100 years from now, people are going to look back and, 'What were they thinking?'
CSJ: 11:28 What is one of the most important of all human laws? The law of unintended consequences. I don't think we know enough yet. The Missouri appears to be kind of an infinite source. There are going to be a lot of claimants on the Missouri River waters in the next decades, but the Missouri is on the whole and abundant resource. The Colorado is on the whole a deficit resource and it tries to water way too many people. There are massive industrial water projects in Colorado and Arizona and New Mexico, but particularly of course in California and the Columbia and the Colorado and the Missouri are amongst the most industrially compromised rivers in the world. Fascinating. I'm just utterly fascinated by all of this and so we're reading a whole series of books beginning with Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert, but also the Emerald Mile, about —
DS: 12:17 It would be interesting if you could share that list and we'll put it up —
CSJ: 12:20 Well it's on the site.
DS: 12:21 It is?
CSJ: 12:21 It's on Jefferson Hour site, but people can start reading — and then the Shakespeare one, back by popular demand. I've been doing this one man Shakespeare thing around the country and I want to do more of it as a fundraiser for entities and so on, but Shakespeare was one of my first loves. Literature, not history, is my is my real field, if you can call it that, and so I've just so enjoyed doing these retreats — and then Steinbeck. Steinbeck — You know I've said this before. He wrote a very nearly perfect piece of art. The right man at the right time, the right subject of the journey story of the Grapes of Wrath, one of America's handful of greatest works. His other works are great, but there's nothing in his body of literature like the Grapes of Wrath.
DS: 13:10 He defined a period of history so well.
CSJ: 13:13 And we Dakotans have a stake in this because North Dakota actually lost more people in the dust bowl years than Oklahoma did. This could easily have been not Okies, but Dakotans. The Dakotans tended to go to Tacoma and northern California. But the dust bowl was the worst human created environmental disaster in American history and it led to an exodus from the great plains and it changed everything. And the Grapes of Wrath is a story about this phenomenon which we understand better today than even Steinbeck was able to understand.
DS: 13:47 Did Jefferson ever have to face a natural disaster of that scope?
CSJ: 13:52 No.
DS: 13:52 He endured hailstorms and early frosts and —
CSJ: 13:56 All that and the new — but there was the New Madrid earthquake in 1812, which was a huge thing. But it was way west of the Appalachians.
DS: 14:03 As I said, I do have a stack of —
CSJ: 14:06 Let's go, let's go to them.
DS: 14:08 And we're going to devote the rest of the show to answering them.
CSJ: 14:11 And I want to say, I've been reading parallel chapters in Jefferson biographies to try to compare and contrast them, so I've been reading Meacham's Jefferson and the Art of Power, John Boles, new recent biography of Jefferson, and then I'm reading Fawn Brodie again.
DS: 14:29 Really?
CSJ: 14:29 Jefferson Intimate History — you know what, she holds up really, really well. There are some whoppers in her book, but that is a great book, but I'm reading about four parallel biographies for certain episodes in Jefferson's life to see how different biographer-historians approach a common subject. It's fascinating.
DS: 14:47 That sounds like a good subject for a Jefferson Hour in the future — would be willing to do that?
CSJ: 14:52 The first one will be about Jefferson and France because that's what I've been reading about, but then next week we're going to do that, right?
DS: 14:57 Exactly. And then I want to do first term. So what should we read on Jefferson? If we're going to pick one, one book to read the chapter on Jefferson and France, what would it be?
CSJ: 15:08 Well, I think Merrill Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation has a great chapter on this subject, but if you want to read a recent one, I would read Meacham.
DS: 15:17 Art of Power.
CSJ: 15:18 The Art of Power. That's — it's a fuller — Boles' chapter on France is perfunctory, but Meacham's is fuller.
DS: 15:26 That surprises me.
CSJ: 15:26 It is. Me too. I was surprised, but that's the advantage of reading them in parallel. You think, oh. So I've been taking notes on each one and then saying, why did this author deemphasize this both — I'll just give you —
DS: 15:39 I've learned from you professor Jenkinson that that was the most formative period of Jefferson's life.
CSJ: 15:45 That's exactly right. And maybe not the most formative, but the one that set his adult character and here's what's so interesting. Both Boles, who's at Rice university and Meacham, who's a public intellectual, who I believe lives in Tennessee. They both find themselves trying to figure out if he really meant it when he said all those radical things in his letters to Madison from France, that we should tear up the constitution once every 19 years and that the tree of liberty should be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants, that went to somebody else, but the set of quite radical letters that Jefferson wrote during the five years he was in France. Did he mean it? Was he — What's the context of this? How do we understand this? Was he as radical as he seems to be? I think frankly both of them get it wrong, but I'm fascinated by their analyses and we'll go to that next week.
DS: 16:36 He was pretty overwhelmed by what became available to him in France is my understanding of it. It wasn't like he was a country bumpkin, but boy, he couldn't walk down the street and get Bordeaux anytime he wanted.
CSJ: 16:49 Not In Virginia, but he also saw a failed nation. He saw a nation that collapsed right in front of him and he thought, 'well, I wonder why nations collapse,' and I think that really led to some great thinking.
DS: 17:00 That famous letter about meeting the French peasant woman has always stuck with me.
CSJ: 17:04 He gave her three cents and she burst into tears of gratitude, but he said, we can't let this happen. We can't let our country have a class system in which there are millions of exceedingly poor people. We must never let that happen to us, and he thought, well then what's the mechanism?
DS: 17:21 I know we've talked about that in the show before, but we need to bring that discussion up again when we talk about France — that'll be next week. Right now we're going to take a short break. We'll be back in just a moment to answer listener mail. You're listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
DS: 17:42 Welcome back to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with or about President Thomas Jefferson, and as promised, Clay, I am going to begin this stack of listener questions.
CSJ: 17:55 We love our listener mail. Thank you everyone.
DS: 17:58 This one's great. It comes from Jeanne Rosenmeier and she starts out and says, 'I have listened to and enjoyed your show since my neighbor and I used to purchase episodes on cassette tape.'
CSJ: 18:11 Back in the 1920s.
DS: 18:12 That's before my time.
CSJ: 18:13 Wow, thank you.
DS: 18:14 But —
CSJ: 18:14 Uh oh.
DS: 18:14 One. 'Several times, you have referred to the 2016 election and used the phrase quote majority rule.'
CSJ: 18:21 Right.
DS: 18:21 'Being as Hillary Clinton won the majority of votes. This phrase seems inappropriate. Care to comment?'
CSJ: 18:28 We have a system in which the popular vote does not determine the president. The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that there needed to be a distilling mechanism between the popular vote and the actual selection of the next president, and so they created the electoral college and the electoral college is where the tally actually occurs. So it is possible that someone could win 100 million popular votes and only 40 million on the other side and the 40 million vote winner might become president under the quirks of the electoral college. That's our system. If we don't like it, we need to change it and develop a system by way of popular vote, but we have a system in which the popular vote does not determine the next president of the United States. We're all aware of that. It works in both directions. It has uses and it has liabilities. That's not how our monopoly game works. We have a constitution.
DS: 19:27 Our monopoly game.
CSJ: 19:29 Well, I mean, every game has a set of rules and our rule is that the popular vote doesn't determine it, so you can say that's wrong, but it doesn't delegitimize Trump's election is my point. It does not delegitimize Donald Trump's election.
DS: 19:41 But I understand her point, where her question's coming from because often I have asked President Jefferson and he maintains, if it's 51 percent, that's who gets it, but that's not in relation to — Jefferson isn't commenting —
CSJ: 19:55 On the presidency.
DS: 19:56 Right. Yeah. He's talking about —
CSJ: 19:58 A vote on where to put the bridge or how how high the tariff should be —
DS: 20:02 And if that's the way we want it to be for the presidential election, then we have to, as citizens, change it, right?
CSJ: 20:07 You cannot change it without a constitutional amendment, but if I ever slip and make it seem as if majoritarian rule works in every part of our national life, it's not true. For example, to convict somebody in a Senate impeachment trial, you need two thirds. For a treaty to go into effect, you need two thirds. We're not always simply majoritarian. We have super majorities that are required for certain things like constitutional amendments and the founding fathers set it up because they wanted a super majority, not a simple majority on certain types of questions.
DS: 20:39 I got a second half to this and I'm really anxious to hear your response on this. From Jeanne Rosenmeier. 'As a resident of California, my counts for less than half the weight that yours does.'
CSJ: 20:51 Way less than half. North Dakota has 700,000 people. California, almost 40 million.
DS: 20:56 She says, 'I don't see any solution to this under representation in the future. There is no way for us to achieve full representation in a system that is rigged against us. What should we do? Secede?'
CSJ: 21:08 Well, first of all, California has umpteen congressional representatives. North Dakota, one. We get the statistical minimum at one, so California has a lot more weight in the House of Representatives than a pitiful little place like North Dakota does. I have to say, and my North Dakota friends would probably be appalled —
DS: 21:31 Pitiful little place like North Dakota?
CSJ: 21:32 Well, I agree and I don't think we deserve two senators either. I think that —
DS: 21:35 Really?
CSJ: 21:36 I think there should be proportionality in the United States Senate because if you look at what Wyoming plus Alaska plus Vermont plus North Dakota plus Montana, if you take the states of lowest population —
DS: 21:49 No, every state gets two senators, end.
CSJ: 21:52 Well there you are —
DS: 21:52 I just —
CSJ: 21:53 You interrupted and decided I was wrong.
DS: 21:55 Well, I do, I have to vehemently disagree with that.
CSJ: 21:58 I don't think that North Dakota should have the same weight in the Senate as the — as New York or Texas or California. Just, it violates the principle of one man, one person, one vote.
DS: 22:08 But isn't the Senate supposed to do that? Isn't the Senate supposed to be 50 individual — or, 100 individuals that are there because of their thoughtfulness, their weight, and their ability to discuss issues?
CSJ: 22:24 That's the theory.
DS: 22:26 Slow things down, let the tea in the saucer cool.
CSJ: 22:30 Yes. That's different from the big state little state problem, the big state little state problem bedeviled the constitutional convention in 1787, nearly broke down a couple of times over it. And finally the so-called great compromise of late June 1787 said the states will be equal in the senate and they'll be proportional in the house. And that has, um, that's our system. And again, if you want to change it, it would require a constitutional amendment. But I agree with Jeanne that why should California have the same number of Senate votes that Vermont or Delaware or North Dakota does? It doesn't seem right to me, but it's our system. And so I accept —
DS: 23:05 Somehow I believe that, uh, we're going to get some mail on that question and I welcome it. I'd like to, I'd like to discuss —
CSJ: 23:14 I'll be run out of my own state, my pitiful little state.
DS: 23:17 Yes — moving on, uh, Don Armentrout, who is from Sun City West, Arizona.
CSJ: 23:23 Oh cool.
DS: 23:24 And he is — he writes, 'I'm a 79 year old widower and an avid listener.'
CSJ: 23:28 Hey ho, welcome.
DS: 23:30 'I became aware of your existence about 10 years ago when a lifelong friend directed me to the Thomas Jefferson Hour. Since then, I have never missed an episode.' That's pretty —
CSJ: 23:41 That's amazing. Thank you.
DS: 23:43 Thank you very much. Um, 'I've learned more about American history from your program' and he says a number of other nice things which I'm just going to let go, but thank you for the compliments. 'He said I enjoyed immensely listening to your broadcast of episode 1299 Jefferson's Mistakes,'
CSJ: 23:58 Right, I forgot about that.
DS: 23:59 And he doesn't really have a question but he says, 'in the introduction to that program you told of meeting a young man named Jimmy on the Wendover hike.'
CSJ: 24:07 Yes.
DS: 24:07 'And that tale prompted me to write this note.' So not really a question, but we got to find Jimmy.
CSJ: 24:13 I keep hoping Jimmy will find us.
DS: 24:14 So I bring it up again.
CSJ: 24:16 That program is out?
DS: 24:16 It is. And Don Armentrout, Sun City West Arizona has written us about it. Thank you sir.
CSJ: 24:21 But Jimmy is this young man that I met on the Wendover march. We were — it was a hot day. It was the hardest part of the march. I was bent over and trying to pick up a lung that I had lost and suddenly this glorious young man comes walking down the mountain, striding down the mountain and he recognized me and we had a wonderful conversation and I said, please stay in touch. Because I was like, I didn't have anything to write my email on. And he was heading down and I was heading up and so I've never seen him again. But I want to know him.
DS: 24:56 Should've told him JeffersonHour.com.
CSJ: 24:59 Well I did, but you know, I was, I could barely speak. I was choking.
DS: 25:03 So you don't —
CSJ: 25:04 I coughed up an old comb and a quarter and a button.
DS: 25:08 You don't think you made much of a impression —
CSJ: 25:12 Give him time. What he saw was a geezer wheezing.
DS: 25:16 He may still be out hiking.
CSJ: 25:18 He could be. He was traveling the country.
DS: 25:19 Yeah. So —
CSJ: 25:21 Anyway. It was a wonderful moment and we're making light of it, but it was actually a deeply moving moment.
DS: 25:26 It would be great to hear —
CSJ: 25:27 And to know that there is a 79 year old man who is an avid listener who has never missed a show. And that Jeanne goes back to the cassette era.
DS: 25:35 Don Armentrout, Jeanne Rosenmeier.
CSJ: 25:36 — fantastic and it, you know, you can laugh at this if you want my friend —
DS: 25:42 And Jeanne Rosenmeier.
CSJ: 25:42 But it makes me want to do this program because I believe that there are people for whom it matters.
DS: 25:48 That's great. Um, in our first part of the program — can we talk —
CSJ: 25:55 Joan rivers impression —
DS: 25:58 — via Joe Ellis. We talked about some of your upcoming cultural tours.
CSJ: 26:04 Yes sir.
DS: 26:05 See this stack of —
CSJ: 26:06 Yes I do.
DS: 26:07 These are all inquiries about your upcoming tour to France, which I don't even think you have dates picked for yet.
CSJ: 26:14 It will be the fall of 2019, so we're in 2018 now —
DS: 26:18 We're not that far away then.
CSJ: 26:19 Next year.
DS: 26:20 Um, but that takes a lot of planning. Um, you know, any comments you want to share with —
CSJ: 26:26 I've done it before. It's roughly three or four days in Paris. There's a huge Jefferson footprint in Paris. Then we go to Bordeaux for two days. Jefferson was there and 1787. He sampled some of the best Bordeaux wines. Some of them still in existence. There are people that have living memories of their family's connection to Jefferson in Bordeaux. So we'll go to some vineyards and do some tastings and really explore that. And when he was there, he said, you know, there must be a way to classify these wines. And he did. And that classification system was later adopted by Bordeaux. So that's Jefferson. Then he also went south to Aix-en-Provence, we'll be going to Nimes, that's the home of the Maison Carree, which was the model for the capital at Richmond, we'll be going to Arles, which is one of the centers of classical culture in Gall or southern France, and then we'll go to Aix-en-Provence where Jefferson took the waters. He had broken his wrist in a kind of romantic escapade with Mrs Cosway and he went to Aix to take the mineral waters. They didn't help him, but on that journey he also — That's the main journey. It's about 10 days or nine days and then there will be an add on journey on the canal Languedoc, the canal du Midi, which was done by Richelieu, one of the world's first great canals. I've been on that canal trip, David. It is — It's heaven on earth and so there'll be two trips, one for those who wish it and people can sign up either for the canal side of it or the Paris Bordeaux Arles Nimes side of it or both. And that will be in the fall of 2019. I've written about it, it'll be on the website we're just pricing it now and we're arranging for boutique hotels. All the food will be farm to table. I mean this is not, you're not at a holiday inn in Paris near the airport. This is going to be Jefferson's Paris and Jefferson's France and it is, it's really a magnificent trip and people are a little skeptical because we'd been talking about it for a number of years, but I brought some new people into the management of the tour and they are eager to do it. And we're going to have, I think, one of the spectacular cultural tours of the series in Jefferson's France in the fall of 2019 and people can sign up now. They can go to our website and call Nancy Franke, my personal assistant near Seattle and tell her that they want to be prebooked.
DS: 28:54 Nancy is probably more than a personal assistant.
CSJ: 28:58 She's kind of like my mother, my sister.
DS: 29:02 Your boss.
CSJ: 29:04 My boss.
DS: 29:04 Yeah.
CSJ: 29:04 Um, you know, a little bit, maybe, Stalin.
DS: 29:06 And she looks out for you.
CSJ: 29:09 Oh, she's great, she's the best, but she treats me like a wayward child.
DS: 29:13 When you have it coming.
CSJ: 29:15 Which is almost apparently always.
DS: 29:16 Well, we've talked about that. Okay, so a couple of memory tests for you.
CSJ: 29:19 All right.
DS: 29:20 Neil Jones writes, would you please tell me the name of the artist and the painting you referenced on your August seventh broadcast? I love your show. Thank you.
CSJ: 29:30 Painting.
DS: 29:30 Well, I'm trying to think. Was he talking about um, there was, there's two paintings that you have brought — Well, three, actually — my painting, my gift from Crisler of John Adams. You said you thought it was a self portrait of Crisler? We haven't heard from him since.
CSJ: 29:52 He's gone.
DS: 29:52 But then there was a woman who painted landscapes.
CSJ: 29:56 Oh my friend Katrina Case.
DS: 29:59 No, I don't think so. It was somebody else that painted these massive landscapes.
CSJ: 30:07 Oh, Catherine Meier, yes. I mentioned that in the Jefferson watch essay. Catherine Meier lives in Duluth, m e I e R, she paints these mural sized paintings of the great plains and it is astonishing what she does, David. She, she goes out and and doesn't just take photographs, she camps and drinks it in and interviews people and hikes and listens to the coyotes and then she goes back to Duluth and she paints these things that are 30, 40, 50 feet wide, these gorgeous paintings of just pure grass and subtle hills and ridges and then she takes them back by way of a, like a slide, a transparency.
DS: 30:53 She takes them back out there and she puts up a big screen and then she projects her painting onto the landscape that she painted and it's kind of like postmodern in a certain way. It is — You got to go to her website. It's Catherine Meier, m e I e R and she is astonishing, but my friend Katrina Case also paints landscapes and you can go to her website. It's Katrina with a k and then Case. Maybe we can get those on our website as links.
CSJ: 31:21 Yeah.
DS: 31:21 There is one other painting that you mentioned and I don't think — I think the Catherine Meier was the one he was referring to, but the — also there is a place where you camp on the Lewis and Clark trip.
CSJ: 31:32 The Bodmer painting, so Karl Bodmer, who was with Maximilian the Prince from — near Stuttgart— in Germany, came in 1832 and 1833 and he was in search of quote unquote the vanishing Indian. He had been in South America. He wanted to capture the lifeways of Native Americans before they were debased by too much contact with white civilization and so he hired this Swiss artist by the name of Karl Bodmer and they went up — crossed America but went up the Missouri in steamboat and then later a keelboat and Bodmer painted the Missouri as well as it's ever been painted and he also painted just drop dead magnificent paintings of Native American individuals including Four Bears, Mato-tope from the Mandan, but his paintings are astonishing. They have kind of a photographic realism about them because maximilian insisted upon that. He wanted —He wasn't interested in impressions. He was interested in how many beads are in this belt and how many porcupine quills and how many feathers in this head dress and so on. And so Bodmer's paintings are amazing.
DS: 32:38 Yes and if you're not familiar with them, you can find all sorts of them online. They're great. So I — Neil Jones, I hope that answers your question.
CSJ: 32:47 We, actually, on the Lewis and Clark cultural tour when we're canoeing the Missouri, our first camp is called Eagle Camp — Lewis and Clark camped there. And you — you camp and we have these beautiful meals on tablecloths and we have wine and hors d'oeuvres and there's fireside talks — Unbelievable. And then the next day we get into canoes and as we're going down the Missouri, David, after about a mile, I say, turn back — and people turn back and they realiz that we camped in the heart of one of Bodmer's greatest paintings of the stone gates. We'll post it on the website. I took them —
DS: 33:23 I think we already have actually —
CSJ: 33:24 You know what I did this year, and I got to get this to our webmaster. I went off early on the second morning in a kayak and I got out because he obviously didn't paint it from the river and so I beached the kayak and I climbed up this ridge trying to find — I had the book — very nerdy — trying to find the exact perspective of how he painted this painting and, and there is no exact perspective. He kind of fudged a little on the perspective, but I found one or two places that are as close as you are ever going to get.
DS: 33:52 I bet you took hundreds of photographs.
CSJ: 33:55 Easily, yes.
DS: 33:55 How come you don't share those?
CSJ: 33:56 Because you didn't ask.
DS: 33:58 Well, I am now.
CSJ: 33:59 I'm going to send them to you tonight.
DS: 34:01 Neil Jones.
CSJ: 34:02 Bodmer.
DS: 34:03 There are three leads for you.
CSJ: 34:06 Catherine Meier of Duluth, Katrina Case of Anamoose, North Dakota. And then, uh, of course, um, the great Karl Bodmer from 1830 to 1833 on the upper Missouri.
DS: 34:17 And another memory test for you. From Thomas Slate, 'on August seventh just before the Jefferson Watch you referred to a book about 1961. What is that book?'
CSJ: 34:29 The book is by a man named Frederick Kempe, and it's entitled Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth and the reason that came up, David, is that we were talking about presidential preparation and this was right after the current president had been in Helsinki and he had said that he wasn't going to prepare because he had quote been preparing all of his life. Just at that time, I was reading this book about 1961 in Berlin, which was a flash point that that might well have led to nuclear exchange and what I discovered was that John Kennedy spent scores of hours reading memos, briefings, preparation books — that he interviewed — had people write special memos to prepare him — that he worked hard at this as if these were the — his oral exams for a PhD or his final exam in a law school class — to get ready for this meeting with Khrushchev. And then I thought, I mean — I mean no disrespect, but that's probably what presidents need to do. You probably need to do deep briefing when you're talking to the leader of North Korea or Iran or the leader of Russia — that presidents have to do their homework and the homework is not always fun, but the stakes are so high. And so this book by Kempe, Berlin, 1961, I think is a wonderful history of one of the most dangerous moments of my lifetime, but also a sort of an examination of how presidents prepare for critical moments in their international work.
DS: 36:05 So again, it's, it's titled Berlin, Nineteen Sixty One —
CSJ: 36:09 Kennedy Khrushchev and the most dangerous place on earth.
DS: 36:12 And the author is —
CSJ: 36:14 Frederick Kempe.
DS: 36:17 Okay. So I hope that helps you, Mr. Slate.
CSJ: 36:19 — from memory.
DS: 36:21 That's, that's pretty good. We're gonna take a short break here in just a minute. And we have a couple of letters that may take us a bit of time to answer, but I'm going to bring those up when we return. We'll be back in just a moment. You're listening to the Thomas Jefferson Hour.
CSJ: 36:42 Hello everyone. It's Clay Jenkinson. Just sneaking in a little announcement between segments of the Jefferson Hour. I want you to join me this winter at Lochsa Lodge, western Missoula for two humanities cultural retreats, the first one, water and the west, January 13 through 18, and the second, shakespeare without tears. January 19th through 24th. For more information, go to our website,JeffersonHour.com/tours. We'll see you in the mountains.
DS: 37:12 Welcome back to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, your weekly conversation with President Thomas Jefferson, or your weekly conversation with the creator of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Mr Clay Jenkinson. Welcome back Sir.
CSJ: 37:25 Glad to be here, my friend, not in the barn. It's too hot in North Dakota.
DS: 37:30 Way too hot, uffda.
CSJ: 37:30 We'll soon be back there.
DS: 37:31 You, in the past month or two — You've had a couple of rants about some of the stuff that's going on in government.
CSJ: 37:36 Me?
DS: 37:36 In the process of that, you said, you know, I want to hear from some thinking conservatives.
CSJ: 37:41 Yes, I do want to.
DS: 37:42 This is one of those guys.
CSJ: 37:43 Okay, good.
DS: 37:44 He says, I'm one of the listeners whose political views are libertarian and conservative, and I unapologetically voted for Trump and will do so again, based on the current state of the Democratic Party. I give you that description only to let you know that we obviously don't agree politically, but your civility, open-mindedness and historically based political discourse keeps me coming back for more.
CSJ: 38:09 How cool is that?
DS: 38:10 That's about the best thing anybody could ever say.
CSJ: 38:12 That is about the best thing.
DS: 38:14 Okay, so we get onto some of his questions and he has several and I'm going to try to present all of them to you, sir. He says — Your most recent podcast mentioned once again how you feel Trump has damaged the revered institution in our country, namely the FBI, DOJ, and the democratic process. He says, this is true of course, that he has damaged the reputation and integrity of all three entities. 'However — I feel it is unfair of you to leave out the whole story each time you critique Trump on this subject. How much respect should I as a Trump voter, conservative American feel when I read texts from high ranking FBI agents, disparaging Trump voters, or stating that we will stop him, which clearly meant that the FBI would stop him from becoming president or ending his presidency.' And I think we should mention too, that since he wrote this letter, Strzok has been removed from the FBI. So.
CSJ: 39:14 Well, first of all, I'm not sure that follows. So in other words, those, um, leaked emails are very unfortunate and they do discredit at least the gentleman and the woman involved and they suggest that there is a, um, maybe a deeper culture of contempt for Donald Trump and his and his candidacy.
DS: 39:34 You're making a couple of assumptions there I want to come back to.
CSJ: 39:37 I think it's just unfair that those were, that those emails and texts were exchanged and, and I think it's unprofessional and that when they were exposed, I think it's right that, that those individuals were removed from the case. And maybe it's right that they're removed from their work for the FBI. As individuals, of course they have the right to have their own opinions about politics and so on, but saying 'we'll stop him,' you know, that could mean an innocent thing, like 'fortunately the country won't permit them to be elected' or it could be that they are actually trying to coordinate opposition from within a major institution of our government and that's bad. That's really bad.
DS: 40:11 That's right. I agree with that completely.
CSJ: 40:13 And so, but I'm not certain that that's what they meant. I think that — I don't think that there is a, a deep state culture to create a coup d'etat or to prevent the election of Trump. I think these individuals were undisciplined and that they deserved rebuke and that that is the kind of thing that casts a whole institution into a shadowy light at times, and that's why we have to be. I've been saying this from the beginning. I think you'll agree that the press needs to be exceedingly careful and scrupulous and as fair as it can possibly be and our institutions need to be too, because if we decide we have to get rid of this individual then it needs to be on clearly fair and constitutional grounds not on some sort of a rejection by the American people through underhanded means.
DS: 41:03 When you discuss something like this, I think you have to be very cautious not to get into that false equivalency argument. Having said that, I will read on, he says, 'Strzok, of the FBI, helped clear Hillary while simultaneously opening up an investigation on Trump with regards to Russia, coincidental? — that he got himself on the Mueller probe before the text became public. If Hillary had won, we would know nothing regarding the bias that he displayed. Think of that the faith or lack there of in the FBI is not the sole result of Trump's attacks.' That may be, but he's the first president can ever think of that has used high school language to try to tear down this institution. I mean, you look at the history of the FBI — Bobby Kennedy signed an order for J Edgar Hoover that had no reason or proof, allowing him to wire tap Martin Luther King. I mean, it's not like the FBI has always been perfect.
CSJ: 42:03 No, in fact, it often surveilled against American citizens who were innocent —
DS: 42:09 But I can never remember a president using school yard language to attack one of our institutions that's there to protect us. Of course they're not perfect, but —
CSJ: 42:20 I think Comey made a serious mistake. Comey made a serious mistake twice in the election, run up of 2016 first by saying ''we're not going to indict Mrs Clinton, but her judgment was, was really off and then just days before the election coming back and saying, 'now the, the new emails — that the access to a computer that we didn't have previous access to makes us want to reopen this case.' It's arguable that that cost her the election, but no matter what it did, it's unprofessional. The FBI needs to have a better set of protocols and to discipline itself and now we're in danger. You know, we're recording this at the end of the summer of . We have to be careful that the FBI's investigation of the Russia issue doesn't in any way get in the way of the process of the 2018 midterm elections. And this is a real, a very serious problem now. There's been a politicization from both sides of the FBI and the Justice Department and frankly it has self politicized. I think that the whole thing, I don't understand it, and I don't think our, our, our, um, email, um, friend does either — we don't know what's going on inside the FBI, but it, it gives me great disquiet to see the leaked texts, to see Comey doing the sorts of things that he did, to see the politicization of some parts of it.
DS: 43:40 I give Comey the benefit of the doubt.
CSJ: 43:43 Okay, fair enough. But, but doesn't it make you uneasy to think that just days before the election he says, oh, uh, we're now going to have to reopen the Clinton case. That has to have an effect eight days or nine days before a national presidential election. And I think that it's better if the FBI do Mueller is doing, which is stay absolutely silent,
DS: 44:03 Right. Yeah. I respect him for that.
CSJ: 44:04 Me too.
DS: 44:04 He also brings up the infamous Clinton/Lynch meeting on the runway. 'Am I supposed to believe the Hillary investigation never came up and that they only talked about their grandkids?'
CSJ: 44:16 You know, I have to say I agree with him. Even if Bill Clinton was disciplined and he is not the most disciplined person who ever walked on earth, the appearance, the optics of that are bad. So if Trump says to Comey, can't you go light on Flynn? Is there any reason to rule out that Clinton said to her on that tarmac, 'Can't you go light on Hillary? This is a done deal. It's the past.' — the appear — He should not have allowed himself and she should not have allowed herself to be caught in that situation because it discredits that organization.
DS: 44:50 But it shouldn't discredit the organization. It should discredit those individuals.
CSJ: 44:55 But she is the head of the Justice Department and Clinton, as a former president, I have to say, shame on you, Bill Clinton. You should know better because the optics of it are going to give every anti-Clinton person fuel.
DS: 45:12 It's not like I'm some — 'oh, we have to hold up these institutions,' but you know, they're — the institutions are what make government run and work and I don't like to participate in just ripping them apart, but I agree with Tim Clemmons, he's got a point.
CSJ: 45:26 You know, the view that — yeah, but what about Hillary?
DS: 45:29 That's that false equivalency.
CSJ: 45:31 But it is not a false equivalency because — because the Clintons in the way that she handled the problem of the emails, her snotty responses or snarky answers, the delays.
DS: 45:42 She's not president. She's not gonna be.
CSJ: 45:44 I know — but I'm just saying that if you say, well, Trump this, Trump that, then you have to allow the other side to say, isn't it hypocrisy for you to be like righteous about Trump and that you want to give a pass to the Clintons?
DS: 45:58 Agreed.
CSJ: 45:58 That's the problem.
DS: 46:00 Yeah. No, you're absolutely right. And I give Tim Clemmons his point, but it doesn't get us anywhere to say, well, your guy did this —
CSJ: 46:08 But people reject double and triple standards and I think that we are in a situation now where everybody gets to blame everybody for everything. We got to clean this up and Mrs Clinton should not have had a private server when this was brought to the public eye. She should have copped to it and ask for forgiveness. Her saying, 'oh, what do you mean? Like wipe the screen with a rag?' That kind of thing only creates contempt. And so now the conservatives and I know lots of good conservatives who think, well, why do we have one attitude when the Clintons are up to no good? And now when Trump is up to no good, if he is, there's this righteousness as if he's the worst person who ever lived. I think that quid pro quo gets us nowhere, gets us nowhere. But the fact is that Bill Clinton made a colossal mistake on that tarmac.
DS: 46:56 We're running out of time here, but his last is the democratic process. He says, 'there is voter fraud. It is as rampant as Trump makes it out to be.'
CSJ: 47:05 I don't think that's true.
DS: 47:06 And he goes on to say highly, highly unlikely. 'However, do you really believe that there aren't illegal immigrants who vote, or ones who voted in the 2016 election?'
CSJ: 47:16 I think in the long run, David, that it'll be shown that there was massive systematic voter suppression that was way worse than whatever minor acts of voter fraud exists in this country.
DS: 47:28 'There are towns, cities in this country that are openly advocating that illegal immigrants be allowed to vote.' And I, you know, in fact there are.
CSJ: 47:34 Yes, and that's a problem.
DS: 47:36 At the same time, you look at what they call the myth of voter fraud —
CSJ: 47:40 All the studies show that there's very little voter fraud. There has been voter fraud. Take the 1960 election in Chicago.
DS: 47:47 Trump in May of 2017, issued an executive order forming a bipartisan presidential commission on election integrity —
CSJ: 47:53 You know what, it broke down because they couldn't, they couldn't get any traction. There was — the states didn't want to cooperate with that and it proves — it proved to be very minor business.
DS: 48:03 And the president quietly ended that commission.
CSJ: 48:05 Right — It's just quite — It just dissolved because they — turns out there was nothing much to report —
DS: 48:10 Rather than — He said, quote, 'rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense today, I signed an executive order to dissolve the commission.'
CSJ: 48:18 Right. So, but anyway, so much of this letter I agree with.
DS: 48:22 Yeah. Um, well he's got a point and it's intelligently presented and I hoped that I presented it as intelligently as he noted.
CSJ: 48:30 We need civil discourse.
DS: 48:31 So Tim Clemmons. Thank you. He signs it, 'Your friend along the political spectrum down South'
CSJ: 48:38 Now Jefferson was a libertarian, so they agree there.
DS: 48:40 Hopefully we'll hear from tim again, but —
CSJ: 48:43 I hope you feel that we were thoughtful in our answer.
DS: 48:46 But right now sir, it is time for this week's Jefferson Watch.