Sunday, February 23, 2020
After hosting Modi at a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston last year that drew 50,000 people, Modi will return the favor with a “Namaste Trump” rally (it translates to, “Greetings, Trump”) at the world’s largest cricket stadium in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. Tens of thousands are expected to line the streets.
Modi “told me we’ll have 7 million people between the airport and the event,” Trump said to reporters Tuesday, then raised the anticipated number to 10 million when he mentioned the trip during a Thursday night rally. Indian authorities expect closer to 100,000.
“I’ll never be satisfied with a crowd if we have 10 million people in India,” Trump said. And as he left the White House on Sunday for the flight to India, the upcoming spectacle was on the president’s mind again: “I hear it’s going to be a big event. Some people say the biggest event they’ve ever had in India. That’s what the prime minister told me — this will be the biggest event they’ve ever had.”
Trump’s motorcade will travel amid cheers from carefully picked and screened Modi loyalists and workers from his Bharatiya Janata Party. They will stand for hours alongside the neatly manicured 22-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of road to accord Trump a grand welcome.
This trip, in particular, reflects a Trump campaign strategy to showcase him looking presidential during short, carefully managed trips that provide counterprogramming to the Democrats’ primary contest and produce the kinds of visuals his campaign can use in future ads. His aides also believe the visit could help the president woo tens of thousands of Indian-American voters before the November election.
This may indeed be the beginning. As the election gets closer, Trump will seek to arrange more of these triumphant tours, which will contrast him sharply with the squabbling, sniping Democrats.
And, as I've said before, if somehow the Iranian regime is tossed, expect another potential triumphant tour overseas.
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Friday, February 21, 2020
15 years ago on this month, NASA’s Opportunity Rover came across this meteorite specimen on the plains of Mars. The pitted, basketball-size object is mostly made of iron & nickel.
A 50 cent flea market find has been certified as a rare 1776 pewter Continental Currency dollar valued at $97,500. The buyer spotted it in a junk box full of assorted coins at a market in Northern France in June 2018. He was curious about this unusual American piece and agreed to shell out half a euro (56 American cents).
This coin was proposed by the Continental Congress for nationwide issuance. Pattern pieces — trial strikes of a new design for a coin — were struck in pewter, brass and silver. Mysteriously, even though most of the extant coins are pewter, there is no known documentation surviving of the pewter issues being authorized by Continental Congress. This particular die variety, known as Newman 2-C, has only ever been found in pewter. If silver or brass versions were struck, they have yet to be revealed.
Both obverse and reverse were designed by Benjamin Franklin. The inscriptions and iconography on the obverse were meant to be read as a rebus. Fugio, meaning “I flee” in Latin, connects to the sun which casts shadow on the sundial. “Mind your business” didn’t mean what it means now. It’s literal, as in “see to your business interests.” All together, the obverse advises that time is fleeting, so mind your business. The reverse is an appeal for unity among states rendered as a linked chain.
Unable to secure anything like the amount of silver necessary for coinage issue, the Continental Currency coin never was circulated. They went with paper money instead, and it was an unmitigated disaster of devaluation and counterfeiting. Time, while fleeting, heals all wounds, however, and one of four known silver issues of the pattern piece sold at auction for $1,410,000 six years ago.
The first official circulation coin of the newly independent United States would be this coin’s fraternal twin. The Fugio or Franklin cent was struck in copper and minted in 1787. The “Fugio,” sun, sundial and “Mind your business” were on the obverse, the loops representing the 13 states (not labeled) interlinked around “We are one” on the reverse. It was only issued that one year. After the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, the triple motto was replaced with the one on the Great Seal of the United States, E pluribus unum.
Once, back in the eighties, I was in Budapest, Hungary. At that time, it was still behind the Iron Curtain, but everyone there was anxious to be out from under the Soviet jackboot.
One of the people in my group went to a Hungarian bank to change his forints to dollars, as we were about to go back to the states. The bank gave him 1930's era Silver Certificates, clearly leftovers from before WWII, and which none of the locals recognized as anything other than simple American currency.
Moral: you never know when or where you'll find that treasure.