Monday, February 20, 2017

John McCain: Our Greatest American Hero


John McCain is the greatest American hero alive today. Although I've questioned his belief that every war of ours was right or even functional, I've never questioned his personal gallantry and high standards.

When he left the prison (or cage) where he'd been tortured  in Vietnam he could not raise his hands higher than his shoulders and still cannot comb his own hair. He could've been freed from captivity a long time before, but he knew the Vietcong would be doing it because his father was in command of a Navy fleet. So he had more beatings and lived in ghastly conditions because he did not want to be used in a political way against his country.

There were many times he spoke out in the Senate where others of his colleagues were silent. He is doing that today.

He knows that Trump is a potential dictator who would like to diminish the press and bend the federal judiciary to his will. McCain suspects there was Trump complicity in Russia's attempts to destroy our election process. He speaks truth to power, with only his wing man, Sen. Lindsey Graham, at his side. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are cowering before Trump because they believe more in holding onto political power than standing up for America.

I thank God that John McCain is there speaking up about the ghastly mistakes Trump has made. Let's see if he and our judiciary can prevent our being turned in to a banana Republic.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

James Garner: The Cherokee We All Wanted to Be


I grew up in Onondaga County in upstate New York. Back then people would call Native Americans "chief" because we had a reservation for the Onondaga Indians. It disgusted me, but I never knew just how much I admired and actor with Cherokee blood. When I was young most guys wished they were James Garner.

From the time we first saw him as Bret Maverick, and even while we suffered through his movies with Doris Day, he was probably the coolest guy on the big or the small screen. He made acting look effortless. His likability factor was really high. Even in the movie where he had to tell Sally Fields he was 60 years old, he was my hero.

I think it's both hilarious and horrible that we abused the Native Americans who lived  on the Onondaga reservation, while we all longed to be a man with Cherokee blood.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Will Trump Become Il Duce (Mussolini) or just Turkey's Erdogan


The question we need to ask is whether Trump will end up like Ill Duce (Mussolini) or Turkey's Erdogan?

Ruth Ben-Giat has studied fascism from her position as Professor of History and Italian studies at NYU. She recently outlined on CNN what you can expect from authoritarian individuals like Donald Trump.

1. Because he's the kind of leader who cultivates a special bond with some of his followers, he can be expected to adapt the presidency to fit his needs.

2. He sees the fact that he lies and acts aggressively towards the press as a good thing, something to be lauded. When he refused to let Jim Acosta of CNN ask a question, and said "fake news," he acted very proud of what he'd done. Because Erdogan has jailed thousands of journalists, he praised Trump for putting Jim Acosta "in his place." We have to hope that Trump will not move to criminalize the media.

3. Beginning with the judge who was to hear the Trump University case, Trump is not afraid to belittle members of the judiciary who get in his way. Judge Gonzalo Curiel will not be the last judge to face Trump's wrath. Faith in our judiciary is a prime component of the formula that has made America "really great" over more than 200 years.

If the Republicans let Trump turn America into a Banana Republic, America will no longer be the leader of the free world or the place to which people want to immigrate. Denigrating representative John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, means he doesn't understand the country he's supposed to run and the heroism it takes to preserve it. It will take all of us to stand up to his brazen lies in his attempts to weaken our democracy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Rolling Odor of Corruption


The rolling odor of corruption has begun to fill the office of the presidency before Trump even takes his place as our new leader. If you read the 35 pages on Buzz Feed you find them easy to believe. What is the difference between the comments made by Trump to Billy Bush on the bus and the story about our new president's indulging his perversions in Moscow. Is it really hard to believe that for five years Putin was creating Trump to help bring down our democracy?

When they asked  Trump voters if they believed everything he said or felt he was innocent of the perversions implied in his soliloquy on how women will let him do anything, they said no, they didn't necessarily like what he did; they just wanted a change.

And so now every day there is a new national obscenity. The American people decided they didn't care if they elected someone who represented decency or strength of character. Like some hissy fit, they just wanted a change.

Now we may have the real Manchurian Candidate in our White House because no one thought an election was a serious thing. No one believed that a blowhard could be Putin's agent.

Monday, November 28, 2016

If you think Americans Can't Compete Now, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet


H1b visas are the vehicles by which Silicon Valley obtains the workers they need to create products and services for the Internet. We don't know for sure whether Trump will drastically cut them back or not. But the reality is that if he does, there won't be Americans to replace these foreign workers.

The white people who put Trump into office certainly can't replace these foreign workers and neither can their children. The teachers unions have done their best to dumb down K-12 in America. People can graduate from high school without being able to do algebra. Then they can go to a university that is unexceptional where they can fulfill their math requirement by taking an advertising class. (this is not a joke. I can send you there.)

America has done its best to destroy its school system. Our universities, with their grade inflation, never test their students to see if they can compete with these foreign visa holders. People have decided it's better not to know how useless the skills are that these students have.  This way they can blindly complain that they're being left out of America's future.

What passes for higher education in America is what used to constitute a high school education 40 years ago. If you haven't been a teacher, you have no idea how bad things are.

On this planet the students who test best go to school  in the Shanghai school district. They are better than any students in the world. And if you're looking for students to compete against them, you should look at Singapore and Korea. Americans don't even rank among the top 10 in any discipline tested.

The new administration will be getting rid of any national standards for education in America in the name of state's rights (a perennial  Republican weapon to prevent our country from aspiring to produce world-class students)

30 years from now there will be more angry white people. These people never think they should demand hard work and studious effort from their school districts and their children. The quality of the high school football team is their most important concern. In 30 years we will be creating even less than we do now. There are only so many jobs that require an ability to use a forklift and box cutters. The boxes will all be covered with Hanzi (Chinese characters) anyway.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

When You Discriminate, You May Not See an American Hero


The greatest example of the dysfunctionality of discrimination was seen in how Japanese-Americans were treated during the Second World War. Earl Warren, Governor of California, sent the Japanese in California to prison camps in deserted pockets of the Western US. At first the Hawaiians (Hawaii was not yet a state) talked about putting Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry into such camps.

Instead they allowed men of Japanese ancestry to form the 442nd regimental combat team (also called the 442 infantry Regiment).. These men went to Europe with a force close to 4000 men. In battle after battle they showed themselves to be the bravest group of American soldiers in history.

Because of the horrific battle conditions in which they fought,  the original 4000 had to be replaced 2.5 times. The members of that unit eventually  involved 14,000 men, who earned a total of 9486 purple hearts.

The unit had eight presidential citations (with five of them earned in one month). This group, which was known as the Nisei Regiment, had among them 21 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation's highest decoration.

Their bravery is hard to believe. I remember seeing Sen. Daniel  Inouye from Hawaii who only had half an arm because of his service in this Regiment. As I watched the Watergate hearings, I listened  to how Nixon's men tried to get support for their embattled chief. One of the conspirators said of the pronunciation  of Sen. Inouye  name, "ain't no way" he would ever be compromised.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Do You Have to Be Educated to Be a Good American?


No matter what everyone is saying these days, having a good education doesn't make you a better American. When George Washington realized his Continental Army didn't know left from right he put hay in 1 foot and straw in the other. Therefore, when his men marched you heard the cry "hay foot, straw foot."

These probably were the most committed men to the American democracy we ever had. They survived the winter at Valley Forge and beat the strongest army on earth at that time. Apart from Audie Murphy and Sgt. York they were probably the finest men we ever send into battle.

So we need to be careful in an election year where the whites without a college degree are considered in Trump's pocket. Decency and openness have always been the hallmarks of good Americans. In this coming election, you can't assume a guy with a high school education can't discern if someone's a  blowhard and a liar.





Sunday, August 21, 2016

Amazon Changed My Life


This is a day I never thought would come. I only own 20% of the hardback and paperback books I used to keep in my home. I've saved all my reference works, including the 20 volume Oxford English dictionary.

However, when I got disabled, I bought a stand for my iPad and read all my books on its screen. This would have, once, been unthinkable. I bought a paperback at Costco months ago and haven't read it. Instead I go to Book Bub and buy books for $.99.

You have to understand that books made me who I am. With serious ADHD, the only break I got from the runaway train inside me was when I was caught up in a narrative. It was always my desire to own more and more books so I could show off my love for them.

Amazon changed all that. I have so many books saved in the cloud that sometimes it surprises me.

The next time I move, I'll have even less books with a spine or stitching. Amazon changed my life.

When people come into my home in the future, they'll have no idea how much I celebrated reading as one of the best things in my life. I don't love books less, but my concepts of how to keep them has morphed into a new reality.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Saving Speaker Ryan


The plot of "Saving Private Ryan" revolves around the concept of the Gold Star mother. Private Ryan's mother already had three gold stars in her window. She had one son in combat who was still alive. It was the job of Tom Hanks and his men to extricate him from combat and send him home to his mother.

Ghazala Kahn lost her son, Army Captain Humayan Khan, when he died in Iraq while saving other members of his unit from a bomb attack.

She was silent when her husband, Khizr, asked Donald Trump if he had ever read the American Constitution. She later wrote that when she sees a picture of her son it disturbs her so greatly that she can't  speak because she gets so upset. A large photo of her son was displayed in the background at the Democratic National Convention when her husband spoke.

Trump implied she wasn't allowed to speak, which was some kind of  snarky allusion to Muslim women, a group Donald Trump, as in most things, doesn't know shit about.

Khizr Kahn had asked the speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, to make a statement of how wrong Trump's comments were. He also asked for comments from the Senate majority leader.

Paul Ryan is silent. He has allowed his party's candidate to make fun of a Gold Star mother. She, and her son, made the ultimate sacrifice. Trump, who seems to possess no empathy for other human beings, showed himself to be a narcissistic sociopath who only cares for Donald Trump.

In the end, speaker Ryan seems to be a career driven politician with no spine. When someone attacks a Gold Star mother, good people have to stand up and be counted. I'm sure there will never be a movie about Paul Ryan's integrity. His silence guarantees the demise of his treasured career.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Trump is a Traitor


Donald Trump is a traitor. When he called on Russia to hack into the former Secretary of State's emails he finally stepped over the line.

He admires Putin. He recently said that if the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) didn't cough up more money he was not going to defend them.

If Trump became president this would be an open invitation for Putin to invade and seize  back the three countries that finally were released from control by Moscow after the Cold War was concluded.

This is heartless. This is cruel. This is the heinous mouth of a traitor to my country.

God bless America.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Jake Tapper, 24/7 news and the end of Democracy


There seems to be a big question whether a democracy can survive multiple 24/7 news channels. I remember when Walter Cronkite had 15 minutes to give us national news. He talked about important things, concepts all citizens needed to know.

Now we have constant crises on television. Many of the issues involved  make us further question our politicians and their plans. Thomas Jefferson once said that if he had to choose between having a government and having newspapers, he would choose newspapers. I'm a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, but that was  bull shit.

For example, having covered presidential candidates for UPI, I think that Jake Tapper is an excellent reporter. He drives my wife crazy. Like many other highly educated women (she has an MD, PhD) she's a Hillary supporter. She can't stand the look on Jake Tapper's face. My theory is that he hasn't smiled since he found out Santa was bogus. Whether he's capable of of smiling, I'm not sure.

But his network, knowing it had bad numbers, let Trump spew lies, accusations and venom without seriously fact checking them. If this is supposed to be the contrast to Fox, I'm not seeing it.

Every moment the 24/7 machine gets fed, making us wonder if we've awakened in a nightmare.

For those who love John Kennedy, how would you have liked to know which woman he was humping on which day? Do you think his presidency could survive that. If you liked Bobby, would you wanted to know all about Marilyn Monroe.

You need to know if a candidate is a traitor, or lies about his real beliefs towards his fellow man. You need to know what his tax returns say. You don't need to know where all her moles are.

The Russians are having great fun releasing emails about the Democratic National Committee. Trump's campaign manager worked for the pro-Russian Ukrainian president who was driven into exile in Russia.

The Russians don't have a free press so they don't have to worry about maintaining a democracy. Putin is an autocrat admired by Trump who says he would not go to the defense of the Baltic states unless they paid more money.

I feel I'm living in a democracy that can't handle all these lies in a nervous electorate hooked on the speed of 24/7. Someday, like the face of big brother, we'll soon see above us the angry visage of Jake Tapper, telling us all what losers we are.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pope Francis and Tim Kaine for a Better World


Although I attend a Protestant church, I've stated before that Pope Francis is my shepherd. He represents the best Christian values. He is a man of great integrity who's making a great difference in this world.

Today, I watched as the lay version of Pope Francis was introduced as the presumptive vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. There are many who use one word to describe Sen. Tim Kane, and that word is "integrity."

He is clearly someone deeply influenced by attending a Jesuit high school in Kansas City. He took a year off from Harvard Law school to run a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. He said he saw that the richest people in Honduras had everything while the rest of the citizenry had nothing.

After graduating from law school he worked to protect the civil rights of Americans from all races and backgrounds. His dedication to the disenfranchised and forgotten Americans is exemplary.

He is a strong Catholic who attends a primarily black church in Richmond. His wife is the Secretary of Education for Virginia. He has three children, one of whom is a Marine in active service.

He represents everything I look for in an American. His Christianity and value system is strong and deep. He gets things done, the same way Pope Francis, who once served an inner-city in South America, makes  things happen.

The presence of Donald Trump as a candidate for the presidency had me despairing for my country. Today I feel rejuvenated and ready to help continue in an America that is not the basket case that requires the dictatorship of ill duce Trump.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Compassion for Melania


Over the last couple of years, I've gotten to know a fine family. The attractive daughter was disabled in a car accident. Her parents sit on the chairs outside the pool where we do aquatic physical therapy. The mom's maiden name was Turner, so I always ask them when they're going to take me to the Turner family reunion. When the dad isn't wearing Negro league T-shirts, he wears shirts that say Turner family reunion.

I ran into them yesterday as they were leaving physical therapy and I was on the way in. I asked them if they'd heard the most recent Melania Trump quote? I'd just read it on the internet. It went, "when I was a little Black girl growing up on the South side of Chicago."

First the mother said, "I feel so sorry for that woman." The daughter said, "I feel the same way."

I was humbled by their comments. Trump is a hater, who treats minorities with disdain. He has made it okay for white supremacists to spew their vitriol and support him.

But these wonderful people felt sorry for what happened to his wife. They represent the America I believed in. Their compassion gives me hope.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

On Chinese Televison the Japanese will Always Be the Little Evil Killers


America spent four years fighting in World War II. After the war ended, war movies were big hits in the US. But eventually, just like westerns, they were out of vogue. Douglas MacArthur quickly smoothed over relations with the Japanese because we believed we needed partners in the war against communism. But we weren't crazy. Truman offered Taiwan to Mao if China would stay out of the Korean War.

Because Stalin never sent the supplies he'd promised to the North Koreans, North Korean forces were losing ground every day. When MacArthur thought about crossing the Yalu River, the Chinese, who didn't want a united Korea on its border, crossed the Yalu and invaded North Korea.

China, unlike the US, fought the Japanese from 1931 until 1945. At the end of the war China was a devastated country facing a Civil War.

Perhaps this brings into context a large number of anti-Japanese war movies on Chinese television. These films both show the Japanese as very evil and the government of Chiang Kai-Sheck not far behind in corruption and violence.

In America, if you speak Chinese, you can watch these war television serials from morning to night. As I've said before the most beautiful woman in the show is always the communist spy within the Kuomintang (Chung Kai-Sheck's sleazy organization).

As an American, we find it hard to imagine the anti-Japanese war is still being fought on Chinese television. But then, they fought the Japanese 3 1/2 times longer than we did, and the war was fought in China.

While it's true that Beijing will use anti-Japanese hatred to remove attention from something internal causing problems, the Chinese people love these serials. Until those shows stop appearing on Chinese TV, the Japanese will always be the enemy.

Given the Bataan death March and the brutal Japanese prison camps, I'm always surprised that we have agreed to go to war on behalf of the Japanese. I guess all that matters is they aren't Commies.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Republicans Try To Destroy Our Faith in the FBI


Over the years, the Republican Party has been wrong on everything from the League of Nations to Social Security. They let Joseph R McCarthy lie about communists  in government and led us into war with Iraq.

It seems that all those mistakes weren't enough. Today they tried to destroy the reputation of the FBI.   Its director,  James Comey, said he didn't think Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted, but provided plenty of sound bites that can be used against Hillary in this year's presidential election.

Comey, the highly principled director of the FBI, laid out why Hillary Clinton hadn't done anything that met the standard for prosecution. He then made a lot of comments about the dumb things she did do.

Since he's a lifetime Republican what did the Republicans do today? They attacked him in numerous ways and called into question the confidence we have in the Federal Bureau of of investigation.

This is why Congress has an 11% approval rating.

It seems that Republicans will not be happy until none of us trust our government. What they been working at is insidious and disgusting. I'm proud to be an American. My family has been in this country for 396 years. (Think about what happened in 1620 if this confuses you)

While the spirit behind the Declaration of Independence was that of John Locke, the logic underlying the Constitution was that of Thomas Hobbes. The Constitution was designed with the checks and balances which would make it difficult for any dictator to take over our country.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party is using the Constitution to gridlock the nation, make sure our infrastructure is not repaired and foster distrust in our system of government. Today they turned on James Comey, a man of great integrity and one of their own. It was sickening to watch. Maybe they won't  be content until we all give up on the concept of democracy.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Google Stole My Novel


In 2010, before I was disabled, I wrote a novel called "Tommy Babcock, A WWII Thriller." I obtained a copyright and gave Amazon the right to sell my book. Today Google fusiontables DataSource is givimg the book away free in pdf form.

I can no longer type on a computer, so I dictate blogs. It seems really sleazy that Google would do this to a disabled guy. I'm not going to write any more books. I could, perhaps, dictate another book, but the editing would require the use of my hands.

Amazon told me to get a lawyer. I don't think I want to spend the money, especially in a book that is six years old.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Unemployed Coal Miners Can Repair our Disintegrating Infrastructure


There is an urgent need for something to be done for the unemployed coal miners. While white men without a college education tend to vote Republican, the Republicans work on deals for the 1%. They are for free trade, only want jobs that are created in the private sector and  are oblivious to the needs of many of their supporters.

Let's look at Wyoming. Every day more coal miners are losing jobs as Wyoming seeks to become the largest wind farm in the world. We know there aren't enough jobs in the wind farm business in Wyoming to employ these people. Many of the windmills are being built out of state.

And while Yellowstone National Park is mostly in Montana, the national parks brought into existence by the Rockefellers cover the Northwest of Wyoming.

All across the nation our infrastructure is crumbling. National parks are just part of the America that is disintegrating. During the depression, Franklin Roosevelt sent large number of unemployed men across the country to rebuild America. Republicans are making sure that this won't happen again.

We need to deal with our national problem. When you go to China, you see these magnificent cities that are so much more impressive than ours. They have a superhighway system in which the signs are in English. Coming back to Los Angeles from Shanghai is like returning to the Third World. Help the coal miners. Help all the others that have been put out of work because of our treaties. If only the Republicans really cared about the people who vote for them. If they did, there would be an army of Americans making our country strong again. Provide good honest work for men and women who make up the backbone of our country. Don't lie to them, get their votes and then fix fancy deals for the 1%. I don't understand how you men and women can look at yourself in the mirror and not feel like a giant fraud.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The End of Apple in China?


Today we learned that a Chinese court ruled that Apple was in violation of a local Chinese patent and could be prevented from selling iPhones in China. Apple has appealed the decision, but this move has been talked about on Chinese social media for at least a month.

Despite how things work in the rest of the world, we have to look at Chinese tradition, going back to the Han dynasty, to see how China deals with advisers and companies that are outside the Middle Kingdom.

Jonathan Spence, in writing his book, "To Change China," takes us back to the Han Dynasty to show how China operates. It was important for the Emperor to understand astronomy in order to make predictions. A group of Jesuits went to China, and spent three years in seclusion with Chinese teachers learning the language. They then offered their considerable knowledge of the heavens to the Han Emperor.

For quite a while, they contributed their knowledge of astronomy to help the Emperor. Finally, they asked the Emperor for permission to proselytize for Catholicism in China. The Emperor replied by thanking them for their help. Thus ended the collaboration between the Jesuits and the Han Dynasty.

This is a pattern which has continued throughout Chinese history. Individuals or companies will go to China with the hopes of becoming part of the Chinese system. They always are thanked and sent away, once China has become able to use the information themselves.

General Electric has been building an airplane for China. I wonder what will happen when the plane is completed, the military has taken all that knowledge, and China can build their own passenger planes. We will have to see how that ends. As for Apple, they made some money selling iPhones in China. It will provide a good experience for Tim Cook in learning how little he understood China.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Chinese Have More Fun With Their TVs Than We Do


I hate to break the news, especially to the millennial's, but Chinese have a lot more fun with their television's than we do. Imagine, if you can, streaming a television show that has its own  embedded Twitter line running across the top of the screen. In Mandarin it's called Tan Mu and it provides a running commentary on the TV show you are streaming from a Chinese site that is like Hulu or Netflix.

Many of the Chinese shows are about the Chinese Communists and the Kuomintang, who are allegedly fighting the Japanese. In fact, we know that Jiang Jia Shi (Chiang Kai Shek) was a corrupt official who was kept in office by Shanghai  gangsters. That's why, in movies like this, you look for the most beautiful actress, because she is the communist spy hidden in the structure of the Kuomintang.

In a recent episode, another communist spy refused to have an affair with this beautiful woman because he was concerned about her safety. Across the top of the screen you had men offering to take her off the guys hands. "If he doesn't want her, I'd like to help out."

Another guy complained that the women on the show had faces that were too long. "I want round faced women," he said.

When the show gets slow all sorts of people complain about it. "This is terrible. I'm falling asleep here."

The other night as it grew late, one women complained, "where is everybody? This  is  really boring."

A man who follow the show is called  a zai nan (guys who don't leave their house, but watch TV all day). So they've introduced a social aspect to watching television. You can complain about the stars, the story line, the slowness of the plot, etc.

 Imagine when Alias had lost its plot line. You could comment on the ineptitude of the producers who hadn't bothered to know where the plot was going, and hadn't planned how it would end. We could have saved Sydney Briscoe from flowing down the TV drain.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Professors and Sick Students


UCLA is in the news today because yesterday a former student shot a professor, a man noted for his kindness and concern about his students. What is even more  senseless is that this professor allegedly moved heaven and earth to help this student completed his PhD.

Unfortunately, this is not as bizarre as it appears to be. I once had a student from Guam who was equally unsettling, but thankfully, not armed.

This student, who was of mixed race, must have had a difficult time growing up on Guam. This of course is only my supposition, since you can't ask a student, "how did you get so crazy?"

A couple of years after he'd been my student this man came into my office and asked me to stop getting him fired from his jobs.

I remembered him but had no idea how  he'd been faring the last two or three years. Apparently he hadn't been successful in the real world.

I tried reasoning with him and explained that I hadn't been following his career, but he did not believe it.

Every once in a while, in the next year or two,  he would stop by at the University and beg me to stop controlling his life.

This guy really attributed powers to me I didn't possess. One day he stopped coming in and I never saw him again. Thankfully, he never became a Republican or joined the NRA. Of course, that's just my wishful supposition.


Monday, May 30, 2016

How Mandarin Helps understand Hawaiian


While I was in Hawaii recently, I realized that a language concept from Mandarin helps you understand what to answer when a Hawaiian says "Mahalo"

when a Chinese speaker says "Xie,Xie" there is no phrase for you're welcome. You say "mei wen ti" which means no problem.

When a Hawaiian says"Mahalo" (thank you), you say "a ole pilikia" which means no problem. There is no phrase for you're welcome in Hawaiin.

If you are praised in Chinese you don't say thank you. You will surprise Mandarin speakers by saying "na li, na li" which is a nice way to deny the truth of what is being said. They will say "I thought you Americans always said thank you." It is a large cultural difference, that comes out of the sense of humility Chinese try to show when being praised.

At the Polynesian cultural Center they say that Polynesians originated in China and were the progenitors of everyone from the Maori to the Tahitians (the last immigrants to Hawaii from Polynesia came from Tahiti). Whether this has anything to do or not with these linguistic concepts; I'm unwilling to even take a stab. I'm just a" houle" or a "bai ren." Both phrases mean "white guy," and I think that looking at all the mistakes whites have made about people from other cultures, I'm going to close this blog.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

What is Tim Cook smoking?


Owning Apple stock is like being flushed down a toilet connected to a storm drain that flows from the Santa Monica Mountains into Santa Monica Bay. It is an endless unpleasant experience. You know the stock cannot go to zero because somewhere in the world someone will want the latest iPhone.

However when Tim Cook said this was just the beginning of the iPhone, I hurried over to the wastebasket to toss my cookies. What is he smoking?

I have some ideas for what that statement might mean. In the future,

will it make its own banana bread?

Pick a successful stock portfolio (hopefully, without Apple in it)?

Arrange a date for you with Monica Bellucci?

Well, those were just ideas off the top of my head. I'm sure Tim Cook has something great up his sleeve. Of course it won't be on the seven, because they'll stretch improvements with little meaning until we get to iPhone 17.

Apple never invested in research and development. People often said Steve Jobs was their research and development. Well guess what, he's dead and all those years of noninvestment are showing. He not only didn't leave anything to charity, he didn't leave anything to Apple either.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Tony Bennett, the Man Who Sings to all Generations


This blog is about Tony Bennett. Some of you may be thinking of his album with Lady Gaga, or his duets with  k. d. lang, I however I'm thinking of the Tony Bennett who's been in my life since the 1950s.

First off, I want to apologize for my entire generation. We took his song," Lady of Spain," and changed the lyrics. We sang  "Lady of Spain I adore you. Pull down your pants I'll explore you."

At that point, we were into rock 'n roll, and we perceived Tony was singing to our parents generation. Ah, what fools we.

He then sang,  "I left my heart in San Francisco," and so many loved that song. I met many people, when I was living in Germany, who would say the words to the song and say San Francisco was the one place they wanted to visit, out of all cities.

He always said, "I'm not about creating big songs, I'm about creating great albums."

One of his albums had this beautiful song called "When Joanna loved me." Every once in a while I think about that song and the feelings it evokes. The song  went," When Joanna loved me, every  town was Paris, every day was Sunday, every month was May." To me this song  encapsulates what true love is all about. Now Tony Bennett speaks to a new audience, in the same way he spoke to my parents in the last days of the Great American Songbook.

Carry on Mr. Bennett, for  you sing for the ages.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Who is an American?


There are always right-wingers who wanted to decide who is really an American, and who isn't. I suppose they'd agree I was, because I'm descended from two different Mayflower pilgrims.

But then I think that the late great James Garner and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, since they both have Cherokee blood, stand in front of me, along with all the other Native Americans.

Of course, my wife, who was born in Nanjing, is just as much an American as I am.

Donald Trump, whose father's last name was originally Drumpf, is only a third-generation American, but he gets to scream just as loud as someone whose family has been here longer.

America is stronger because it's a land of immigrants. When your ancestors got here is completely irrelevant. My daughter Allison's grandparents, who survived the Holocaust in Hungary, are some of the finest Americans I've ever met.

If you're lucky enough to have American citizenship, you're judged by what you do with it. If you contribute to making America stronger, more equal, or if you care for your fellow countrymen and make an effort on their behalf, you're a good American.

If you believe, as 20% of Trump supporters in South Carolina do, that we should still have slavery, then you are redneck bigot who America would be better without. Of course, I'm smart enough to know no one has the right to take their citizenship away from them.

If we'd just recognize that we're all in this together, and we rebuild our country every day, then everything could run smoother. Let's hope someday everybody understands that

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Looking for the Bluebird


As part of my campaign to keep us looking up as we deal with appalling presidential prospects within the Republican Party, I've found the song that might help. The song is 95 years old and was introduced on Broadway by a Jewish guy who sang in blackface. At the time it was introduced,Native Americans, African Americans and  Asian Americans did not have rights. It would take a lot more time in American history before they would be enfranchised.

Nevertheless, because of all the warts and horrible parts of our history, I'm an American and have to deal with the reality that white people were frequently wrong.

It was introduced on Broadway by Al Jolson in 1921. It sounds corny today, but it picked up the spirits of a lot of Americans who'd seen their country engulfed in the first world war.

Here's a sample of the lyrics:

                and when you see clouds upon the hills,

                you soon will see crowds of daffodils.

                So keep looking for a bluebird and listening to his song

                whenever April showers come along.

Today there is snow in upstate New York and Marlborough, Connecticut. Despite the fact that 20% of the voters for Trump in South Carolina believed we should still have slavery, we should take heart from the majority of Americans who don't want him to be president.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party that always hid behind the concept of "states rights" and other allusions which meant "keep the nigger's under control," now has a leading candidate who hates everyone who makes America a better place.

So keep looking for the bluebird and listening for his song, because this too shall pass. Most Americans want to be good people. We should have some faith in that.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Time to Stand Tall


After a morning of watching CNN and thinking of the danger Donald Trump poses to America, I got on my exercise bike. To keep me peddling I play movie soundtracks. The soundtrack from Gettysburg came on and I realized I had to see that movie.

Jeff Daniels, in his greatest role, played Joshua Chamberlain, who won the Medal of Honor for his bravery and leadership defending Little Round Top from a Confederate advance. Before the battle Chamberlain was very ill from dysentery and malaria. Despite that he knew the 20th Maine had to protect the Union army from being outflanked by the Confederates. When things got very dicey he ordered a bayonet charge against the Confederates.

Chamberlain went on to become the 32nd governor of Maine. Since he'd been a college professor before he volunteered, he eventually wound up as president of Bowdoin College.

Right now, I'm in the process of trying to find the movie Gettysburg on the Internet so I can watch it and let it help me recover from my morning listening to folks talk about Trump.

Even though I know it's not actual history, but inspired by it, I want to watch Saving Pvt. Ryan. I love my country and hope it doesn't fall into the hands of Trump or Cruz. Growing up in a Republican extended family, I looked to Lincoln as my hero. He still is up there, but I've added Mohammed Ali and John McCain to the triumvirate I admire. (I only wish McCain, a genuine hero, didn't want us to invade every country in trouble).

I'm a registered independent who almost always votes Democrat. (In California, you're allowed to ask for a Democratic ballot). As people who regularly read my blog know I'm descended from two Mayflower pilgrims. In four years my ancestors will have been in this country 400 years. I don't want it destroyed before that happens. I need to pick myself up and watch those movies and realize we've gone through tougher times before.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Classical Cheat Sheet so Asians Won't Think You're Just Another Uneducated American


This probably won't be useful in America because Americans have mostly given up on classical music. The great performers now come out of Korea and China, but you could become attracted to someone from one of those backgrounds and have to show that you're just not another uneducated American.

A couple of years ago I saw a violin competition in Southern California for elementary school children. Every kid was Asian. Asian parents think a child should either learn the violin or the piano. They will make sure their child practices. Whites spend their days extolling the values of Donald Trump.

So here's a quick bit of information that may pull you through what otherwise will be a tough conversation.

The first period of classical music you would be expected to recognize is the Baroque. The two big shots in that period were Johan Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. Bach composed a lot of great pieces including two long pieces that look like symphonies (one was used in the movie Love Story). Some of the other famous pieces included the Anna Katerina notebook.  Vivaldi"s most famous composition was the Four Seasons(in fact the Japanese have a marvelous version of it played on the Koto and the Shacuhachi, Japanese instruments. Handel is another guy who composed in this period (Hallelujah).

The next period is the classical. Hadyn wrote 104 symphonies while Mozart wrote 41. Papa Hadyn made it all happen, but Mozart was an even greater talent. He had so many beautiful compositions. I can't begin to name them in the small space I'm given here.

By the time Beethoven wrote his third Symphony (The Eroica) the romantic period was upon us. Beethoven wrote nine symphonies and his last one included a chorus. It is spectacular. I love about everything he wrote except for his string quartets, which mostly confuse me.

Some other great composers In the Romantic period included Johannes Brahms, who wrote four symphonies, Variations on a Theme by Haydn, and the Academic Festival overture. That beautiful piece was constructed from German student drinking songs.

Tchaikovsky was great and the Classical period didn't end until the start of the 20th century with the death of Sergei Rachmaninov. Some of the other great composers were Schumann and Schubert, whose Fiorellen (Trout) quintet can brighten the darkest day.

Okay, that's all I can do for you in this short blog. If you screw up, excuse yourself after saying you're Canadian.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Did Apple Lose by Winning?


Did Apple lose by winning? They've been trying to prove they are not really an American company by keeping their money overseas so they won't have to pay US taxes; manufacturing their devices overseas; and lately by telling the Justice Department they refuse to provide a backdoor so the government can read what's on the iPhone of a terrorist who's already gone to Paradise.

I had mixed feelings about the government's request to break in to that specific iPhone. I figure after they let that happen, Xi Jinping would order them to give him the backdoor to the encryption in China.

That wouldn't have been good at all. But here's the funny thing, today the Justice Department says they don't have to meet with Apple. They say they've got a guy who can break-in to that iPhone without destroying the data on it.

Well, so much for  Tim Cook walking around the stage in Cupertino laying down the gauntlet.

If this guy can break-in, soon a lot of people will be able to get data off my iPhone. I wonder what it means for my Apple stock (please, light a candle for me, this stock has not been good for a while)

We will probably find out that he did it with something he got from Legos. From our studies we all know what the result is for those who have hubris. We're watching that now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sell Time Warner to North Korea


I've met a lot of fine people who work for Time Warner cable who have tried to give me assistance over the years. I believe they have been working hard to provide decent services.

The problem is that management is only concerned with one thing. They desperately want to sell the company. If the CEO can sell the company he would make a lot of money. He doesn't seem very interested in running an effective cable service.

Selling the company to North Korea would simplify everything. Time Warner management doesn't really care what happens to its customers, so they can escape with the money without worrying about doing a good job.

Working for Kim Jong-un would provide an incentive for new management to run the kind of company that would make its customers happy. If they didn't, Kim Jong-un  could invite them back to North Korea where he could strap them to the end of an antiaircraft gun and blow them away. (This is how he killed his uncle)

Since Time Warner is the subject of many jokes, this would help their public image. Kim Jong-un has said he can send a missile to Manhattan. Those late night comments about Time Warner's incompetence could be eliminated quickly.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Trump calls Sanders a Communist


Given the fact that most Trump supporters don't have the brains that God gave geese, I had counted on this happening. Today, Trump called Bernie Sanders a "communist."

I always figured that the American people didn't understand the difference between "socialist" and "communist," but I was actually selling them short. It seems that when they looked at Denmark and Sweden it didn't  scare them one bit.

So Trump counted on the stupidity of his followers and called Sanders a communist. He did it this morning in an airplane hangar where a lot of us dummies thought he would denounce the violence his hyperbole had launched. So much for the expectations of people who think presidents should be looked up to and admired for their truth and honesty.

Who knows what he'll say next. But it won't be pretty. We haven't encountered this kind of politician since George Wallace said segregation should last forever. In history we've had Father Coughlin and Huey Long who've counted on the stupidity and racism of their followers. Hell, Henry Ford used to hand out this fraudulent protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was a  document that was anti-Semitic to its core. He got away with it and Ford did transactions with the Germans well past the time it was acceptable behavior.

So now we have Trump, who is the incarnation of evil. If someone shoots him the autopsy will show us where the 666 is hidden on his body. But I suppose, even that wouldn't convince the evangelicals they're walking down the path behind the antichrist.

As for me, I've taken Pascal's wager and hope that one fine morning, when this life is over, I'll fly away.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Now Foreigners Have a True Picture of America


Back when there was an Iron Curtain across Europe separating the free nations from those that were communist dictatorships, we had Radio Free Europe. It would provide hope for those imprisoned under Russian rule and talk about America. Our country has had many programs like that spreading the vision of a free America where good things happened.

So for 50 years, people had an image in their mind of what America was like, and many of them longed to start life anew over here. We were a nation of immigrants, a bunch of fair people who wanted others to get ahead.

We have blown those views out of the water with the candidacy of Donald Trump. 20% of the Trump voters in South Carolina believe that slavery should still exist. He called out to those filled with hatred and prejudice and brought them on board. The more we knew about those who followed him, the more we were frightened by what they told the people doing the exit polls. If there was one thing that United them all, it was their belief in authoritarian principles.

We could no longer look at the Germans and wag our fingers at them for producing Hitler and the Nazi party. We can no longer look down at Japan, whose schoolbooks deny that Nanjing massacre, deny the existence of  "comfort women," enslaved by Japanese troops as prostitutes, or the Bataan death March.

The world can see plainly that for all the good people we have who always give money to help with an international tragedy, there are disgusting, bitter Americans who blame immigrants for their problems. The sick side of America is on full view for everyone, from the Mexicans to the French, to shock a world that hoped we were a better place.

I'm a Mayflower descendent who will always love this country, but I am reminded of walking into the "colored" bathroom in Columbus, Georgia. I remember wondering if this was my country? It truly was, and now Trump has shown all nations just how bigoted, evil and nasty some of my fellow countrymen can be.

The next time an embassy holds a Fourth of July party, I wonder what the guests will be thinking about their hosts.




















Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Importance of Thank You


A lot of people forget the importance of the word "thank you." We all want to be thanked if we do something worthwhile. Sometimes, even if you don't receive it, you may want to repeat your gesture, but probably not.

I received my PhD from the Maxwell school at Syracuse University. I'm really proud that it's ranked number one among schools of public affairs, with Harvard's Kennedy school at number two.

But I'd taught at the Newhouse school of Syracuse and believed then, and still do, that it's a wonderful journalism school.

So in December I sent Syracuse University a check that was to be split between Maxwell and Newhouse. A week after my gift, I got a nice note from the people at Maxwell. I appreciated that.

Today I received a form from the Newhouse School. The signature of the Dean, who allegedly signed it, was preprinted.

Understanding a little of how fund raising works, I was  appalled and wondered about how the school was administered.

Next year, of course, the entire check will go to Maxwell.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Pied Piper of Hate


The famous social commentator from the early 20th century, H.L. Mencken, once described Donald Trump's appeal: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

A noted educator, whose family was in the Holocaust, recently remarked that Trump reminded her of Hitler.

Let's take a quick look at this man who has captured the support of so many Republicans.

While he likes to talk about his success, many have commented that if he had just put the money his father left him in a good mutual fund, he would have the same amount of money today. This is not a self-made man. This is not a Lincoln who read by candlelight to become a lawyer. This is the guy who is one of the scumbags that made some of the deals that put America into the great recession. He isn't known for scrupulous financial behavior. He will declare bankruptcy on one of his properties the minute it gets into trouble. He will use a government's power of eminent domain to throw people out of their homes so he can build a parking lot for the high rollers at his casinos.

It was America's immigrants who built this country. I'm a Mayflower descendent who knows that our country would not be great if we had inhibited the immigration of everyone from the Germans to the Chinese. America is a country of self renewal, where the newest immigrant with pluck and fortitude can produce something that will improve our nation.

Since ISIS now uses the screams of Donald Trump, railing against Muslims, as a recruitment tool, we should look closely at a man who most clearly represents the lack of compassion of the 1%.

You won't see Donald Trump at a soup kitchen making sure the unemployed will get needed sustenance. Instead, you'll see him on a stage trying to bring out the worst in the American people. He is the guy who organizes the lynch mob. This is the man who has people break into the jailhouse to pull out someone of color to be torn apart by the mob. He represents everything that is wrong in America. There are, however, too many uneducated, angry, white people who haven't figured out who the real enemy is. Let's hope they don't destroy our democracy while they follow the Pied Piper of hate.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

America and Its Changing Social Geography


America is constantly changing. For travelers from other countries who have views about what they want to see, it's important that they bring themselves up-to-date. For example no matter what the recruiters tell you, if you're Chinese you should never go to the University of Southern California, because the area is very dangerous. If you grew up on the Motown sound, you'd probably be surprised that Detroit is where the American dream ended.

When I was young, Stockton, California, was a great city.

Lodi, California, the next town over, was infamous because of the John Fogerty song:

                if I only had a dollar for every song I've song

                and every time I've had to play while people sat there drunk

                you know I'd catch the next train back to where I live

                O  Lord I'm stuck in Lodi again

Today, because Stockton is a city that declared bankruptcy and can't afford to pay cops the new joke is:

The best part of Stockton is Lodi.

Keeping up on a dysfunctional America is crucial if you're going to visit here. America, she'll keep changing on you

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Political HurricaneHeading For Our Democracy


If Bernie Sanders resonates with you, you have a problem. Many of the things he advocates, including a free college education, make a lot of sense to me. Until I think about paying for it. Getting rid of insurance companies and having the government be responsible for healthcare sounds nice. Then I remember how insurance companies and their support made Obama care possible.

In short, I would like to have a lot of things that Bernie Sanders wants but know that our right wing Congress would never let these things happen. A lot of us are angry at banks, at the 1%, and at how Congress is always pimping itself out.

So Sanders appeals to the young, who are being crushed under college loans and see how difficult it is a get a job with only a bachelors degree.

We can't nominate Sanders, because anybody who calls himself a socialist will get destroyed in the general election. On the other hand we have  the rabid right-wing of the Republican Party in full cry. The party establishment has lost control and we've seen a nasty man, who everyone in the Senate seems to hate, winning the Iowa caucus.

Democrats probably should've figured out how many people dislike Hillary Clinton before they anointed her as the person to beat. Every time the emails get mentioned, people are reminded of how the Clintons always thought they could have their cake and eat it too.

At this stage of the game, I've prepared myself to hold my nose and vote for Hillary. I'm going to pretend she didn't make all that money giving speeches to the big banks. I'm going to pretend she actually cares about America's middle class and its disintegration.

But if I have to do that, how many other people will decide they don't care enough to compromise. Ted Cruz, whose wife works for Goldman Sachs, is part of the Republican crowd that protects big bankers and the rest of the 1%. There are people in this country who deserve to be angry at the 1% and their unconscionable corralling of such a large proportion of American assets. Then there are the right-wingers who don't seem to understand that they're for a party that has no interest in helping them out with their financial problems.

This is not going to end happily, even if I hold my nose. There is righteous anger, as well as misplaced anger, that is heading  for our democracy like a stage 5 hurricane

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading and Survival


There is a reason I didn't end up pumping gas in Sandy Creek, New York. I have to thank reading for that. From the time I was seven I was knocking off a book a day. But there were limits. Because I've had ADHD ever since I can remember, the books had to be able to take me out of my own life. If I couldn't go somewhere else and experience "suspension of disbelief," then the runaway train that was always rocketing through my body would be in control. A lot of nice people had written me off until I got in the 99th percentile in verbal on my SAT.
Lately, because of my reading, my mind has been living in northern England's Lake district. Of course, just when it was almost too late to matter, I finally got diagnosed with ADHD and received medicine that slowed down that railway train inside my body.
To explain what it had been like most of my life: I had written my doctoral dissertation in Syracuse University's Byrd Library, where I could concentrate for 20 minutes and walk around for 40 minutes looking for people to talk to.
So nowadays I can knock off one or two novels a day, but histories take longer.
When I was UPI reporter in Concord New Hampshire, Ted Sorensen had come up to meet with me and the Associated Press reporter. Sorensen, of course, was famous for writing Pres. John Kennedy's inaugural address where he said "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He was arrogant and quite sure of himself when he said to us that Bobby Kennedy would not run for the presidency in 1968. I always believed after that that Sorensen had lied to us and was really pissed.

It wasn't until I read in another history that Kennedy had earlier made a deal with Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago that somehow later got abrogated which  allowed RFK to run. If I hadn't taken a lot of time on that particular history, I might still be angry today.

So while I'm enjoying Jon Meacham's great biography of George Bush, I think I need some time with Baldacci or Grisham before I can return to my careful reading of his large tome.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Parenting and Principles


When you're in the process of bringing up a daughter, your long-term goal is to create a self-confident, self-reliant' autonomous human being. You want her to be able to stand on her own feet and be secure enough not to be pushed around by a sweet talking guy who requires a submissive woman.

In the end, you want someone autonomous, not someone who will spew your own prejudices and fears in some kind of uncomfortable obeisance.

When my daughter was in second grade she told me her hero was Martin Luther King. Since 30% of my college students were African-American, it gave me a good feeling. But I didn't necessarily expect it to guarantee a core belief in the  equality of man. My attitudes were formed by the Sunday school song that went: "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Brown and yellow, black and white, all are equal in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world." I always believed that was true. However, I knew my daughter should find her own truths.

That's why when she was making up a chart of core beliefs in her Marriage and Family Therapy Masters program, I was thrilled to see the words "Black lives matter."

It's good when you're daughter becomes autonomous but it's even better when somehow she ends up endorsing your own principles. However or whenever that happens.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Star Wars, Canes and Walkers


We were driving into the parking lot in Westwood village that I use when going to the pharmacy. The first thing that surprised me was that all the disabled parking places were taken. This was the first time I couldn't slide into a spot on the ground floor for a quick exit onto the street.

When we went back it was almost impossible to exit our parking place because the line of cars trying to leave the structure just sat there, seemingly immovable. It wasn't until I remembered that "Star Wars" was playing a block away that I understood what was going on. The movie had just finished

After all, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is in his mid-70s. These people, just like me, probably could still remember the first "Star Wars," and had lusted after Carrie Fisher.

Since I'm in my dotage and have been hanging around Kings Landing looking for a way to get knighted, I was just glad none of them were white walkers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A President's Tears and Outrage


Recently, my daughter got to shake hands and talk with Barack Obama. My daughter, who is a registered independent, told me that she believes the president is really a good man. Since she's a counselor and deals with people from different backgrounds all day, I trusted her instincts.

Although I've been disappointed in the way the president has handled the Middle East, his speech today on gun violence really connected with me. When mentioning the Newtown, Connecticut slaughter of first graders his eyes teared up.

He is taking executive action on closing guns show loopholes and implementing the other limited efforts that the executive branch can take without the support of Congress. He truly believes that too many Americans are dying because Republicans want to get reelected.

I'm tired of the violence and in the way the legislative branch is too frightened to make a difference. In those tears today I saw one man's attempt to hold back the vicious tide consuming America.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Becoming Irish


Growing up in Syracuse, New York, I never realized quite how segregated it was. I'm not talking about the horrendous racism we still face today. I'm talking about a city that had Catholic and Protestant country clubs. The city was run by the Irish, with the Italians right against their rear bumper. While I was descended from two different Mayflower pilgrims, it was the songs of the Irish that I loved.

While I hung around with my many Irish friends and learned the words to as many Irish songs as I could handle, I always felt like a visitor. I was the token non Irish friend at the table.

My mother refused to let me see my father's side of the family. In what was amazingly selfish, I missed out on the chance for substitute fathers and aunts who talked about me and my brothers every day.

It wasn't until last year that I found out my great-grandmother, Mary, had emigrated from Ireland to America. I never had to feel like an outsider, if my mother had only allowed me access to a whole group of people who really loved me.

By the way, I've used the word Irish to describe the dominant political force in my town. But to explain it fully I have to tell you that they were the great great-grandchildren of the Irish who'd come to build the Erie Canal. I didn't know anyone actually born in Ireland. And because Ireland had a major temperance movement at the end of the 19th century, I know that the heavy drinkers I grew up with weren't from the Auld Sod.

"Was your mother born in Ireland? Is there part of you that's Irish?"

Monday, December 21, 2015

American Middle-Aged Whites are Dying in Increasing Numbers


In many places around the world, we've seen mortality rates continue to decline. However, one of the exceptions is among middle-aged white Americans. These findings, announced today by two Princeton professors, Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton and Dr. Anne Case, are shocking and may account for the support of Donald Trump.

These Americans whose education stopped at high school are dying by suicide; substance abuse; alcoholic liver disease; and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids. The mortality rates for whites, age 45 to 54 years old, with no more than a high school education, has increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 between 1999 and 2014. At the same time mortality rates for African Americans and Latinos have been decreasing.

The increase in mortality among this subgroup is enough to raise the mortality rate of all whites in this age cohort.

It used to be you could get a job on an auto assembly line and be middle-class in America. Those hard-working union members in many industries did well enough to send their kids to college, and retire comfortably. That's no longer the case and the people who've been left behind are extremely angry, ready to blame people of color or national origin for their problems.

As the son of a man who never finished high school I find it hard to judge them. Their country changed around them and they were left with little hope. However, finding easy targets like immigrants or Muslims will not improve their situation. All I can say is "there, but for the grace of God, go l."


As I reflect on my latest blog, I'm struck by how much my home county fits in with the world in which white middle-aged Americans are dying in greater numbers every year. Both my brothers live within 15 miles of my great-grandfather's grave. They live in Oswego County, which has seen the brewery boarded up; the Nestlé plant close; and where now one of the two nuclear plants is shutting down. It's hard to find good work in this county, which lies below the Canadian border and faces Lake Ontario.

The image I believe that sums up the county is of a basement where they never completed the house that was supposed to sit on top of it. So they still live in the basement, but the last time I was there I noticed they added a satellite dish.



Friday, December 18, 2015

Katherine Pathak and the Sense of Place

It was Wordsworth, of course, who produced "spots in time"(capturing an image immortally).In poems like the "Solitary Reaper" you can experience fully the man working the fields. He portrayed the Lake district in northern England in a way that made it incredibly attractive I once stayed in Ambleside, an experience I will treasure forever.
Catherine Pathak has the same ability. I've read all of her DCI Dani Bevan series of
novels and they are  police procedural mysteries that are exciting, but are steeped in Scottish culture. After reading her novels I feel like moving to Garansay, an island off the East coast of Scotland.
Now that I've started reading her Hugh and Imogen Cross series, I'm even more awed by her capture of what it must've been like to grow up on  Garansay (although I have no idea if she ever spent time there). She is a great writer whose books are on Kindle unlimited
After I finished my first novel, Tommy Babcock, I had hoped to construct a series which would take him through the Second World War. I became disabled while finishing the book  I can no longer type on the computer. I dictate my blogs; but I get to find great authors such as Catherine Pathak and live through their writing.
By the way, a search for Garansay on Google Earth and Wikipedia only comes up with an island off Scotland called Taransay, which  makes Pathak's writing even more interesting.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Trump, the Sociopath



First of all, I would like to say that Donald Trump is not necessarily more evil than Joe McCarthy, who tried to convince us that our government was full of  communists. He's probably not more evil than David Duke of the Klu Klux Klan. And he's not powerful enough to be compared to Hitler.
That said, he seems to be the incarnation of evil, the kind of guy who comes along like Huey Long or Col. Sanders and others whose basic appeal revolves around hatred of people that don't look like us.
He wants to build a wall between our country and Mexico. This is the case although there's been a net out migration back to Mexico over the last couple of years. He wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, despite the fact that 11,000 Americans were killed by guns, fired by other Americans, a much larger amount than the 45 people killed since 9/11 because of terrorism.
Trump was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His daddy had a lot of money and he passed it on to his son. He's not the kind of American who comes from poverty and builds something great. He isn't  the kind of guy who has shown great compassion for people. Most everything he says is about him.
He hates Latinos. He hates Muslims. Donald Trump, in short, is someone supported by people full of hate and fear. You'll never see him in a soup kitchen ladling food to the disenfranchised.
He is a sociopath, who by definition cares only for Trump. If in the process he injures the American way of life, he'd probably say, "well the media didn't have to cover me."