Who should lead cheers for the President?

31 Aug

During my lifetime, which has been a long one, it has never occurred to me to even ask this question before. My first Presidential vote was for John F. Kennedy in 1960, so that will give you an idea as to how long I’ve been around.

I was used to seeing Franklin Delano Roosevelt speaking on the MovieTone news at the theaters on weekends. I also saw Adolph Hitler, that but that’s the basis for another story. Following Roosevelt, I remember seeing Harry S. Truman in the same venues, and that went on totally through the Korean War. My family never had a television until after I left home to join the Navy in 1955. By that time, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, and my Commander-in-Chief.

During all this time, I never once heard a President take it upon himself to be his own cheerleader. Even since then, including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Ronald W. Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William J. “Bill” Clinton, George W. Bush, or Barack H. Obama, not one of them could have ever been accused of being their own cheerleader.

To be sure, each of them delivered an annual State of the Union message, either written or orally with the advent of television, but this is a legal requirement laid out in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, and it requires that the President review significant actions and events of the preceding year, as well as plans for the next year. It is natural that there would be some actions from the preceding year that could be self-laudatory, but it is in no way a cheerleading session. So, it’s reasonable to say that of the fifteen Presidents I have mentioned, none of them are guilty of being their own cheerleaders.

My, how things have changed! We are eight months into the Presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the communiqués from him are largely a collection of self-aggrandizing, self-congratulatory, and totally baseless cheers aimed directly at his accomplishments during his time in office.

First, aside from signing a quiver-full of self-serving Executive Orders, signed and delivered with a flourish heretofore unseen, and grandly exhibited to anyone who could be coerced into attending these self-serving ceremonies, he has accomplished nothing. Oh, he made a half-assed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which didn’t happen, at least partly because he knows no details about this, or apparently any other subject, and wasn’t capable of discussing it intelligently with anyone who was versed in the details. I’m happy he didn’t, but this does point up his apparent lack of knowledge at any level of detail on any subject of importance to the American people.

 

During his Presidency thus far, he has demonstrated that he has a complete lack of competent statesmanship or diplomacy, single-handedly pissing off allies and foes alike, while apparently showing a surprisingly close affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nobody knows why, but it looks like they’re about to find out.

My main point in all this discussion is why our golden-haired President feels like he has to brag about his accomplishments, walking around a stage applauding himself, when he hasn’t actually done anything significant. Even if he had done something, wouldn’t it be more appropriate if he let someone else, like historians, assume the burden of recording his successes and failures? From all reports, when things don’t go his way, he pouts, and tweets and generally undercuts the good deeds his staff and cabinet are trying to do in spite of him. I wonder if he stamps his little foot?

I’ve seen him on television pushing aside dignitaries from other countries in order to take the front row for photo opportunities. I’ve seen him refuse to shake the hand of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and who knows for what reason?

Now, most recently, he has visited the site of the terrible natural disaster in South Texas, showing up wearing a hat that is for sale from his site for $40, and refusing to either greet or shake the hand of any of the refugees. All he did was deliver a few stock platitudes, and thank people for coming out to see him. (I personally wouldn’t walk to the end of my driveway to see him.) So that he wouldn’t have to answer any specific questions, he brought several members of his cabinet to field them. I never saw Bill Clinton or Barack Obama in a situation where they weren’t knowledgeable down to a surprising level of detail on any question that was asked of them. Why cannot this latest President handle himself in this manner? The answer is that he’s not smart enough. Aside from a few buzzwords, he has absolutely no idea what any of this is about. His tactic is to throw out a few buzzwords, most of them superlatives, and then retreat into a barrage of “we’re going to do a fantastic job, the greatest job anybody ever did.” or words to that effect.  I’ve already heard him proclaim he’s the greatest President in history, after only five months in office!

And I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,”? What about his accomplice, the First Lady? I saw her show up to what may be the worst possible natural disaster in U.S. History, wearing six-inch spike heels and a hat labeled FLOTUS. She was attired in a very attractive outfit that would have been more appropriate for a garden cocktail party instead of to help console and commiserate with thousands of newly homeless and helpless fellow Americans. Could she have shown any less feeling? Perhaps that’s what we should expect of a First Lady who plagiarized her first national speech from her predecessor. I contrast this performance of the “Trumpkin” with the display of genuine compassion and commiseration rendered by President Barack Obama during similar site visits for Hurricane Sandy victims in the Northeast. Goldilocks has mentioned several times that he has the capability of looking “Presidential”. If he needs an example to follow, he needs to look no further than his immediate predecessor. It looks to me as though the occupation of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue went from class to crass.

I wonder how much more of this President we’ll have to put up with. I wonder how history will treat him. With any kind of luck it won’t be too much longer. If I get my wish, history will show him as an asterisk. Doesn’t seem quite right though, since it’s our ass he’s risking.

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Tap Dancing on a Bed of Nails

26 Mar

I’ve just spent a significant period of time watching a seemingly endless troupe of Trump surrogates take their place on the morning talk shows, while trying to explain the logic behind some of the President’s peculiar behavior, are engaging in what appears to be an effort to tap dance on a deadly bed of nails. The references they use are obscure, and the logic they use to illustrate their point is totally devoid of even a thread of common sense.

It defies any logic as to why they even agree to appear on the talk shows at all, since they apparently have no inclination to even answer a direct question. In response to most direct questions they typically respond, “…….that’s a good question, David (or whatever the host’s name might be), let me bring you back to 1972 where a similar situation arose, and here’s how Senator Blowhard handled a similar situation.” Then this surrogate proceeds to weave a tale of follow the pea as it transits from one shell to another while this storyteller waxes boringly onward making absolutely no sense, until the questioner is thoroughly confused. An answer to what was a pretty straightforward question is never presented. This seems to be the language of the politician, and the current Republican surrogates appear to be masters of this game. I cannot imagine anyone with even a sprinkling of intelligence or compassion for his/her fellow citizen believing any of this claptrap.

All throughout this latest political campaign I watched and listened while President Goldilocks promised to lower everyone’s taxes, create a health plan that was going to cover everyone down to the minutest illness with almost no cost, rebuild the infrastructure of this country, build a multi-billion dollar wall between the United States and Mexico, and not only balance the budget, but also eliminate the national debt within eight to ten years. Taken individually, all these except the wall, sound like worthwhile goals, but taken together, they just don’t mesh.

First, he acknowledged that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated”. Wrong! EVERYONE knew it was complicated EXCEPT FOR DONALD TRUMP. That’s why the entire Republican Party has been trying to dump the Affordable Care Act for the past seven years, and has been unable to do so. He apparently wasn’t too committed to it, because he gave up on it after about 66 days, with only a vague reference to taking it up again someday.

Second, He is promising to take up tax reform, after presenting a budget request that seems like it’s going to be dead on arrival in Congress. While the Defense Department does need to be bolstered after several years of negative impact of the Sequester program, it is unlikely that it needs to do so by trashing the entire State Department, the Department whose responsibility it is to keep us from having to go to war in the first place. This is difficult enough even in the best of times, but when you have a President whose opening gambit in establishing a rapport with a foreign government is to insult them, is it surprising when the relationship begins to sour? Actually, the only foreign government with which he’s had any interaction that hasn’t resulted in a gigantic insult to the foreign head of state is Russia! I wonder why that is? There are apparently some entities in our various intelligence agencies who are conducting investigations into finding the answer to this one. In the meantime, we have a bunch of foreign dignitaries, including heads of state who are sitting at home wondering, “What the hell is going on?” There’s no way in the world that this type of foreign relationship is being conducted by anyone with any training, experience or talent in the skill of getting along with foreign governments. Even the current Secretary of State seems to have avoided getting his fingers dirty in this one, choosing to take a back seat to the tweeting habits of President Goldilocks, and then joining the crowd of other surrogates trying to make sense of what the “Don Rickles of Diplomacy” has started rolling down the hill. Hearing all these explanations are what make Sunday mornings so entertaining, albeit tragic, considering what the ultimate price is going to be that we’re all going to pay.

Considering the Infrastructure that he has promised to rebuild, we’ve heard this one before, and it’s likely that it’s going to be the same result. The multi-millionaires and multi-billionaires who have all the money in this country don’t actually use any of the infrastructure, aside from the airports. They can use helicopters to fly over the rotting highways and bridges that present such a threat to Hoi Polloi of the United States. Oh, their trucks and railways that deliver their product to market use them, but I doubt that has occurred to any of them. Just like the elimination of the Middle Class will ultimately hit them where it hurts, in their pocketbooks, when the masses can no longer afford to buy their products. That day has arrived, all you Barons of Industry. You can see it with the closings of so many brick and mortar establishments, in favor of on-line shopping. The fact that the customer can no longer feel, fondle and make a real connection with the product by buying in the store has taken a back seat to the cheaper price of buying through the web site.  Bottom line here: Don’t hold your breath for any massive Infrastructure expenditures, despite the drastic need.

Next is the wall, which the vast majority of the country sees no need for. Perhaps our infantile Presidential Trainee hasn’t noticed, but there are more people crossing that border from north to south than vice versa. It’s the trend, since there are fewer jobs available for them in the United States of America than in Estados Unidos de Mexico. Further, the big threat that seems to worry Goldilocks the most, the Muslim Extremists, don’t typically come through that avenue anyway.

Not included in my original rant were the promises he has made to many of his main constituents, those who made possible his ascension to the Oval Office, that of new jobs for everyone, including the coal miners in West Virginia. Most of the people who were responsible for carrying the day for him on Election Day are about to have their bubbles burst. Those folks aren’t going to get their coal mining jobs back. Coal is dead. What has been killing coal miners for years, and contributes heavily to the pollution of the air that we breathe, is the coal dust that is the culprit. When they finally realize that these jobs aren’t going to come back, they’re going to be marching in the streets, protesting just the way the protesters against getting rid of “ObamaCare” have been protesting, and can accurately be credited with putting that new health plan of his out of its misery.  (He doesn’t want to take credit for it now. He hates the term ‘TrumpCare’.)

I keep wondering how long it’s going to be before all these investigations are completed and they bring him up on felony charges for accusing President Obama of having wire-tapped Trump Tower. I acknowledge that the term surveillance is an appropriate substitute for wiretapping, but I’m not surprised that he didn’t know it. For someone who reputedly has about a 140 word vocabulary, a goodly proportion of which are superlatives that he applies to himself, the job he’s doing and to all his ideas, his capability to express himself leaves much to be desired. I can forgive him for not knowing the difference. But for him to stoop so low as to make such an accusation against the former President who treated him so graciously during the transition, is unforgivable! During the eight years of public exposure as President on so many world stages, President Barack Obama conducted himself as a polite, knowledgeable, and thoughtful gentleman. I can’t apply any of these adjectives to President Goldilocks. I would be happy to explain to him what each of them means, as apparently he was not educated to function in polite society. That degree of his from Wharton must have been a correspondence course, and he probably could afford to have someone take it for him.

I don’t know what the future holds for us, given all that’s going on in the world. While I’m not a great fan of the Chinese Government, I do acknowledge that they are probably the largest market in the world, have the right to conduct their own business in their own way, but need to not encroach on their neighbors in what has recently become common practice. We need to continue to assure freedom of the seas in that region and not get trampled on. However, we don’t need to unnecessarily piss them off. Diplomacy is apparently a foreign word to His Doofusness, and he needs to get somebody in there who at least has some competency in that area. It was revealed today that Secretary Tillerson didn’t even want the job but felt compelled by his wife to take it since he was about to retire from Exxon. What a motive!

We are on equally shaky ground with North Korea, where somebody equally inept but possibly quite a bit smarter is in charge. Don’t know how that’s going to shake out, but I’d feel more comfortable with someone as competent as John Kerry in the State Department’s driver’s seat.

With all the complicated things going on with Russia and the various Muslim-dominated countries, I’m nervous as hell, especially with the backdoor relationships that seem to exist between Trump staffers and the undesirable element in those areas. I have no fear of what’s going to happen to me, since I’m old and have lived a wonderful life. But, I’m worried about what kind of situation we’re leaving for our children and grandchildren.

I have watched the hi-jinks taking place on Saturday Night Live for several months now, and the characterizations of the various Trump staffers, as well as himself, seem pretty apt to me. Our President is more self-absorbed than a seven-year old kid, and the characterization of Steve Bannon as the Grim Reaper seems spot on. If ever a national figure was ripe for a Svengali-like takeover, Donald Trump is it. With him running loose inside the head of the Doofus-in-Chief, there’s no telling where this is going to end up. I certainly hope that someone with an answer comes to the fore before long. It strikes me that the Electoral College was created specifically to avoid something like this happening. It’s a pity that when the necessity finally arose, that the group responsible for stepping up and stopping it lacked the courage.

What’s going on with “Fake news”?

19 Feb

I watch a lot of news on television, and have been following it especially closely during the past few election cycles. During the past election cycle, and especially since the inauguration of our new President, I’ve heard the term “fake news” bandied about pretty freely. Just what is “fake news” and who’s generating it?

It appears to me that from the way the President uses the term, he is referring to the news put out by both the legitimate news outlets, and the various pundits who take the trouble to interpret the actual news for the benefit of those of us who might not be astute enough to make sense out of the raw news that is presented by only the legitimate news outlets.

In my experience, the news that is presented by the various networks, excluding the pundits, consists mainly of video clips of various public figures, including the President himself, either speaking directly into a camera, or  with excerpts from his myriad of tweets, presenting their own message in their own words. Besides the President, there are various Congressmen, Senators, staff members, and former prominent political figures. What is presented, almost without exception, is direct verbatim quotes from these figures. How is this fake? Nobody is misquoted. When figures are presented, they are easily verifiable, and often are. If any of the news presented in this fashion is fake in anyway, it must be because the speakers themselves are lying.

It is no secret that the President is quite comfortable presenting lies as truth, as his statements are fact-checked with regularity, and for the most part do not bear even the remotest resemblance to the truth. His performance at a recent press conference at the White House last week was notable for its confrontational tone. It began as an unwarranted rant against the “fake news” being presented by the various networks, and included personal attacks against individual reporters. I’m not a big fan of reporters when it comes to pressing for a lot of personal information, but common courtesy would preclude an unwarranted attack on a reporter for the high crime of asking permission to ask a question, and this happened several times.

In this day and age of cameras and other recording devices being virtually everywhere, it is commonly known than anything you say is easily verifiable, and there is almost always a record of it, whether you like it or not. Most of what our President labels as “lies” are verifiable as words either uttered by him, or by one of his minions, most of whom are as adept at doubletalk as he is, perhaps more so.

In the exchanges at the press conference, numbers presented by the reporters were easily verifiable as coming from unimpeachable sources, while those uttered by the President appear to have been recently extracted from a nearby rectal cavity.

It is obvious to me that the President is in way over his head in this endeavor, and if he was as wise as he claims to be, he’d submit his resignation immediately, if not sooner. He’s already going to be remembered in history as a disastrous President. I hope he has the good sense to not want to be remembered in those same history books as the President who started a nuclear war from which there were no survivors. Come to think of it, that would likely mean that there would not be any history books that would contain any history of anything.

Taking stock in my 80th year

15 Feb

Having recently entered my eightieth year on this planet, and feeling pretty satisfied about my tenure thus far, I decided to sit quietly and take stock of my life and my feeling that I’ve lived in the best possible time in the history of our country.

Why the limitation to the “best possible time in the history of our country”, and not the world? The first thought that comes to mind is that prior to mass intrusion of the Europeans to this continent, the Native Americans had a country that was pretty much unspoiled. They had a world where they left little evidence that they had ever been there, and I can’t think of any situation to improve on that.

However, I’d like to put a frame around my time here, and explain my feeling that I was lucky to have experienced that particular time in our history.  In 1938, when I was born, there was a World War brewing, although we had not formally entered into it. The U.S.A. was recovering from a severe economic depression, and there was a lot feeling on the part of some who felt we ought to be in that war.

I had relatives in that war, including both my Father and my namesake Uncle. Both had joined the Navy in 1934. My father, who hated regimentation, finished his tour of duty and got out shortly after I was born, while my Uncle stayed for a career, and ended up having two ships shot out from under him. My Dad got called back into the service late in the war, and ended up in the Army. Fortunately, I lost no relatives during that war.

One of the things I saw during that period of time was unity of purpose, in that everyone believed that we were fighting for our survival, and there was no question that the only decent thing to do was to do our damnedest to win, and so for the duration of the war, and for some period afterward, we were indeed united. I can still remember it. Can you?

During my childhood years, with so many women entering the work force, including my mother, because so many men had gone off to war, I spent quite a lot of time by myself, with a lot of time to think. My Dad was frequently working a hundred miles or more from home on construction jobs, while my Mom was either “slinging hash” or doing seamstress work. She made beautiful business suits for women that simply could not be bought in stores. She had a talent for sewing, and even working from an old treadle sewing machine, which she later had motorized, she made garments that rivaled any products you could find in a store. The point of this is that during this period people had to be creative enough to find a way to make a living.

Why was this true? At this time was the last time I can remember the American people so solidly committed to a common cause. The attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized us to the point where we felt like we had our backs to the wall, and even the slightest failure would be intolerable. I haven’t seen that feeling at any time in our history since that point. I seriously doubt that I’ll ever see it again. I think the observation of that national unity struck a chord in me, even at that early age. I didn’t know it was an unusual attitude, because I’d not experienced anything else at the time. But, I’ve seen nothing but deterioration in our national attitude since then. Instead of placing our country first and everything else secondary to that, we’ve been watching a serious shift in priority to political party first, and then country. I find that disheartening.

All through the years immediately following WWII, it was a joyous time, with fathers coming home, tempered by the realization that many fathers wouldn’t be coming home. There were women who served, and in very honorable roles, but who weren’t typically in combat. However, it was a period of an economic boom, with virtually full employment, and families being restored. There was one unexpected change, though, with women being very reluctant to return to the home. They wanted to continue to work, and that created a bit of a problem, since that would leave nobody at home to watch the children. Needless to say, this left a lot of free time for the kids to get into trouble. I was one of those kids.

I never got into any serious troubles, so that was no kind of problem for me. I graduated from High School in 1955, and if I’d known how famous the Fifties would become, I think I’d have possibly enjoyed them more! It was an age of cute girls, custom hot rods, and drive-in restaurants. It was an ideal time to grow up, especially in California, and I have nothing but fond memories of those times.

I joined the Navy in June of 1955, and spent a couple of years in the Philippines, and I thoroughly enjoyed those years. For an eighteen year-old kid being halfway around the world from home, it was quite an experience. I can’t think of any way that I could have improved on that. I spent a total of twenty years in the Navy, traveling all over the world, and in January of 1961 I met the love of my life, Patricia, and just last month we celebrated our 56th Wedding Anniversary.  Since we married just six weeks after our first date, a lot of folks figured it would likely not last, but it’s starting to look like it might.

Also central to my satisfaction with my time on this planet is the fact that in 1965 we were blessed with the arrival of our only child, a son we named Robert Jr. As you might expect, this is one of the greatest joys of both our lives, and his development into a fine, hardworking man who exemplifies character at the highest level, is of immense pride to both of us. That feeling continues to this day.

Having gone into the Navy as barely more than a child, I didn’t realize how sheltered a life I was destined to lead. Although I was stationed in many places throughout the country and the world, I knew that the Navy would provide shelter, training, sustenance and compensation. All I had to do was agree to forfeit my life, if need be and if the circumstances ever called for it. Seemed like a good deal to me, and I have not a single regret. So, despite the occurrences of the Lebanon Crisis, the Cuban Crisis and the Vietnam War, I never found myself in any immediate danger. What I did find was a deteriorating sense of national pride. The sense of national unity that had existed when I was a child was no more. It had been replaced by spiteful attitudes between political parties, and Americans wearing military uniforms were spat upon, and warned to stay off the grass in many places. As young sailors, we learned it was prudent to travel in groups when going to town. A solitary sailor stood a good chance of being ambushed by the local youth who didn’t appreciate the thought that the young ladies in the area might be attracted to a man in uniform. I personally experienced this type of event on two different occasions. Still, by the time I retired from active duty in the Navy in 1974, I still felt very positive about what I had experienced up to that point. Life was good. I entered civilian life with a lot of experience, technical training, and considered myself something of a “salt,” as any Navy man would, after twenty years of experience.

Boy! Was I wrong! When I entered civilian life it took me awhile to realize just how naïve I was, and how little I really knew about the world. I had come to believe that any person in a superior position would always tell me the truth. It turned out that I was like “Pollyanna” in the real world, and it was at least a couple of years before I learned enough to be wary of what anyone told me. I learned to wear a coat of cynicism virtually everywhere I went.

After a couple of years, I found employment in the radio/electronics field, which was a good match for my military training, and I began to earn a decent living. I had always been recognized for my hard work, and this was no different. I consistently earned outsized raises at work, and began to be able to provide for my family in a fashion much nicer than had previously been the case.

I had never paid much attention to politics. I remembered seeing President Franklin Roosevelt speaking in the Movie Tone news in the theaters on the weekends. I also remember seeing Adolph Hitler ranting in front of crowds of screaming admirers. I also remember seeing President Truman taking charge after FDR’s death.  I never had a sense of any kind of hatred between political parties at the time. I just figured they had a difference of opinion. So, my impression of politics was pretty much neutral until I voted for President the first time, in November of 1960, when I cast my vote for John F. Kennedy. Life was still good.

I managed to maintain continuous employment through the years, and even managed to utilize the G.I. Bill and go to college. For me, it was a two year degree that took me three years to earn while working full time and attending college part time. I did manage to graduate Summa cum Laude, and learn that I could be a pretty good student, if I put my mind to it.

Over the years I managed to garner quite a few friends, and life continued to be very rewarding. My son grew to be a very hard worker, with a good head on his shoulders, and an excellent work ethic. My wife and I are still married after fifty six years, and I’m extremely happy about that, since that’s a mark that nobody in my family has ever achieved before. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to have had the chance to own just about every toy a man could want, including motorcycles, sports cars, golf clubs, and the chance to continue to travel the world. In many respects, these factors have not changed. Although I no longer play golf or ride motorcycles, I am still fascinated by the cars. This includes my current car, which is, in reality, a time machine. When I slide behind the wheel of that candy-apple colored Corvette convertible, put the top down and crank the engine up, I am immediately transformed into the 20 year-old sailor that I used to be, with all the feelings that used to be there. People watching me drive by might see a white bearded old fart tooling down the road, full of fantasy, but they can’t possibly feel what I’m feeling.

Recently, I read that the children who are born today will likely never drive a car. Really?  That’s a real downer. One of the most fun activities I have ever experienced is going to be relegated to history, with the advent of self-driving automobiles.  I guess we can’t stop progress, but the prospect of not being able to drive is somewhat akin, in my mind at least, to pronouncing sexual activity as one only to be practiced for the purpose of procreation. It’s like outlawing fun! I can see this world starting to go downhill!

Currently, I see where the numbers of people seeking jobs is growing inexorably, while the number of jobs available goes in the other direction, mostly because of automation, and this leaves us with the prospect of an economic situation that will not work.

Secondly, we have just elected a President who clearly has no grasp of what it takes to run anything. His style seems to be one of issuing edicts which are not only poorly thought out, but with no substance as to how they might be carried out. He has promised to put the coal miners in West Virginia back to work, and has absolutely no idea how that might be accomplished. He has managed to offend almost every international leader with whom he has come into contact, and I have a foreboding feeling that it’s only a matter of weeks before I’ll see mushroom clouds outside my windows. This government is in shambles, and the party in power has not the courage to admit it, and to do something about it.

I suspect that within weeks, our new President will see the handwriting on the wall, and decide that this new toy he was given for Christmas is no longer fun to play with, and will resign, leaving his Vice President to hold the bag.

I don’t see this situation getting any better any time soon, and it’s for that reason that I figure that I have lived in the best possible time in our nation’s history. I’ve seen the best of it, and feel fortunate about it. I’m sad that all the younger folks will not be able to enjoy a world with the quality that I have experienced.  I hope I’m wrong about the future. If I am, send me an email. Who knows? It might just get through!

Preventive Measures

9 Jan

I have long been an advocate of the rights and needs of the public to be able to carry concealed weapons, with certain limitations which need not be detailed here. As I have written before, my belief is because of the fact that the police cannot protect us, despite the fact that it’s part of their mission, i.e. “to serve and protect.”

Why can they not protect us? Simply because that criminals are smart enough to try to avoid committing a crime where there are policemen present. They tend to find a victim, or victims, who are in a location where policemen are not, and voila! Another crime is committed, and so the police are again confronted with a crime to solve, although the victim(s) are already injured or dead, so the results are less than satisfactory. Oftentimes, had the victim been armed and trained to use the weapon he/she was carrying, the crime could have been thwarted, and the level of injury significantly reduced or eliminated.

Following the commission of a crime, especially those where there are multiple injuries or deaths, reports from the authorities often contain references to the circumstances of the crime, together with statements describing to protective measures that will be taken to prevent recurrence of such crimes, as well as references to other measures that will be taken that they don’t wish to make public.

I am of the opinion that they ought not to make public any of the protective measures they put into place following a crime, particularly a horrendous one, such as the multiple murders which took place at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport a couple of days ago. If you’re going to add protective measures, why would you possibly want to tell the potential perpetrators of the next massacre what those measures are? It just makes it easier for the bad guys to avoid getting caught, to make it harder to prevent the crime from even happening!

In the case of the Ft. Lauderdale incident, the authorities are talking about expanding the area in which firearms are prohibited from inside the TSA Security area to a much greater area, possibly including the curbside areas where travelers are dropped off or picked up. It might be much further than that, although there are no specifics mentioned as of this writing.

It seems to me that increasing the area where firearms are prohibited might make it less likely that an incident will occur within the presently prohibited area, but will also make it more likely that the next incident will occur in the next area chosen by the bad guys, after they have picked another area surrounding the airport where an attractively large group of people might be found, where there are fewer police in the area to prevent the crime from happening. In such a case, this particular preventive measure will just move the area of the crime to another locale. Is that an improvement?

A move such as this, where we will have essentially widened the area of protection, will not substantially improve the situation, unless what we are actually doing is herding the bad guys into an area where the “targets” are better protected, but not obviously so, and must position themselves in such as fashion as to be more vulnerable to having their mission disrupted, and the perpetrators captured. If that were to be the case, then perhaps leaking this information could actually serve a useful purpose.

This philosophy need not be limited to the airports of the country, but extended to railroad stations, ferry terminals or other mass transport terminals throughout the country. In my view, the less said about protective measures, the better. Our current practice, if I’m right, is essentially the same as giving the bad guys the keys to our weapons vault. If we have effective protective measures, let’s keep them to ourselves!

How will history treat Donald Trump?

12 Nov

With the recent memories of what has happened during the past eighteen months on the political scene, as well as the interpretations by the various individuals as to what actually happened, as well as what was perceived to have happened, the question of how history will treat Donald J. Trump has not yet occurred to most people, probably including Donald Trump himself. The purpose of this discussion is to explore that very subject.

In order to make this discussion easy to follow and understand, not only for the reader, but also for this writer, it seems prudent to break this discussion into time periods, beginning with the day before Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for Republication nomination for the office of President of the United States.

PRIOR TO HIS ANNOUNCEMENT

Up until this specific day, it is extremely unlikely that history would have even dealt with the subject of Donald Trump. He was, at that time, known primarily as a moderately successful reality television show host, who had a background as what was perceived as a vastly successful real estate mogul who had a lot of buildings, golf courses and casinos named for him. Although numerous gossip magazines and television shows regularly discuss folks like that, they are not fodder for history books, so it is fair to say that Donald Trump would not likely have been even mentioned in any history books.

FROM THE TIME OF HIS ANNOUNCEMENT THROUGH THE PRIMARY CAMPAIGN, AND HIS SUCCESS AT WINNING THE NOMINATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

Mr. Trump began his primary campaign without a great deal of apparent organization, and to the public in general was most visible through his almost daily telephone calls to the television show pundits, and through “tweets” that were constantly being delivered throughout the day and night  These were peppered with insulting language regarding various ethnic groups, and it almost seemed like he was baiting various groups into responding in kind.

Once the debates for the Republican nomination began, with him leading the pack of seventeen different candidates, (or was it eighteen?) it began in earnest, with the various interactions between candidates resembling more of a schoolyard shouting match than a debate on serious matters. With references that were more innuendos hinting at the size of various body parts, it soon became a contest of who could shock the audience and the American public more.

Mr. Trump, in quick succession, began insulting the ethnic groups, starting with the Mexican immigrants, that he characterized as murderers, rapists and various other undesirable traits. He then moved on to Muslims, indicating that he wanted to put a ban on any more Muslims coming into our country. He verbally condemned a judge that was assigned to pass judgment on a case that involved Trump University, indicating that he was unsuitable to pass judgment because he was a “Mexican.” That he was an American citizen, with a Hispanic family name was reason enough in Mr. Trumps mind to disqualify him from making a judgment against Mr. Trump’s company.

Also prominent among the topics discussed by Mr. Trump was the assertion that if elected President, he would immediately build an extremely high wall covering the entire border between the United States and Mexico, and that he would force the Mexican Government to pay for it. This drastic step seemed to gain favorability with certain portions of the citizenry who live along the border, and so his popularity grew.

Throughout this primary campaign and the seemingly endless series of debates, the numbers of participants actively pursuing the nomination slowly dwindled, until there was but one, Mr. Donald Trump. Up until this point in time, it was still unlikely that there would be virtually no notice taken of Mr. Trump or his activities. So he was the Republican nominee So what? We’ve had unsuccessful nominees for President, and aside from their names, little is mentioned about them in the history books, even those who ran unsuccessfully several times. Mr. Harold Stassen comes to mind.

THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION

Once the two nominees for the major parties had been selected, the campaign began in earnest, and in the case of Mr. Trump, it was highlighted by his characterization of Hillary Clinton as “Crooked Hillary,” alluding to all the crimes she has been alleged to have committed Among these are the use of a private server with which to handle here personal and workplace email. This is in spite of undeniable evidence that several prior Secretaries of State have similarly used personal cell phones to handle their business email. Although not mentioned during the campaign, it is a matter of record that at the time President George W. Bush was in office, Mr. Karl Rove had a domain name of GWB43.com set up with a server which many members of his administration used for their business email. Indications are that when Mr. Bush left office, Mr. Rove took the server down, and as many as 20 Million emails were destroyed. So, what is the big deal here? Well, it appears it was a handy moniker to hang on Secretary Clinton, and so it was used several times a day.

Further mileage was made of the incident at Benghazi, Libya, where four members of an embassy staff were murdered, including the Ambassador to Libya. At the time of the attack, there was confusion as to what ignited it, and the entire Republican Party seems to have been on a witch hunt to hang this on Secretary Clinton. At the times she appeared before Congressional Committees, she made a statement that at the time there was much confusion as to the core cause of the attack, and in retrospect, what difference it would make at the time of the hearings did it actually make, since the individuals were dead. A determination at the time of the hearings would not change the material facts. Mr. Trump managed to keep this as a high-level indictment of Secretary Clinton throughout the campaign.

Likewise, Mr. Trump kept his foot on the pedal about abolishing “ObamaCare,” the Republican’s chosen name for the Affordable Care Act. Never mind that 20 Million people now have health insurance that didn’t have it before.  Never mind that the citizenry didn’t have to worry about being excluded because of pre-existing conditions. The “R’s” have been determined to eliminate it for years because the Health Insurance companies want them to. ‘Nuff said. Mr. Trump has hammered on this since day one.

The investigation by the FBI into the email scandal of Secretary Clinton has contributed to the level of distrust of the Democratic candidate, despite the fact that the FBI found no cause to indict her. The letter sent to Congress about a week and a half before the election about finding additional emails on the laptop of Mr Anthony Weiner, in the amount of 165,000 certainly didn’t help the Democratic cause either. A little math shows that if Mr. Wiener had started sending emails on the day Hillary Clinton began service as Secretary of State and continued 24 hours per day, seven days a week for the entire period, he would have had to average four emails per hour for the entire period just to send that many emails. Man, that’s a lot of emails!

Needless to say, Mr. Trump won the election, as least the electoral college count. It is at this time that Mr. Trump has finally earned a place in the history books. How will history treat his Presidency? Let’s examine that.

JANUARY 20, 2016 ONWARD

Starting on this day, we’re looking at a President who, based on things he has said, both of his own volition and in answering queries by the press and others, has no experience in Government, Foreign Relations, Military, Economics, Law, or anything else remotely related to running the Government of the most powerful country in the world.

Up to this point he has threatened to withdraw support from NATO and SEATO, and if he knew of its existence, he’d probably vow to withdraw support for the OAS  (Organization of American States) as well. He has encouraged Russia to hack into the email systems of not only Hillary Clinton, but apparently has ties to Russia on a business basis. Vladimir Putin seems to be doing nip-ups over Mr. Trump’s election. Mr. Trump’s statements regarding Nuclear Proliferation are absolutely frightening, and have half the world wondering if we’re actually going to have a nuclear war with such a loose cannon in charge.

With all that is at stake, much of the country is in shock, with the prospect of having a President so ill-equipped to be in charge. I know I’m scared. However, I’m old and know that I probably won’t be around to see the end result of what’s likely to happen.

This all doesn’t have to happen. Any smart businessman, say the President of a huge company, doesn’t have to be an expert at all things Perhaps at nothing. What they typically do is to identify experts in all the appropriate fields, and surround themselves with those experts. That’s what is usually known as the Cabinet members. The Military members are known as the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is these collective bodies that are there to lend their expertise and advice to the President. It is still his decision but he has the advantage of the advice of best experts available in the world and their sole mission is to take that advice and seriously consider all aspects of it, and then assume the role you sought when you ran for President. Make the decision!

There are a myriad of decisions that will have to be made, and they’re all going to combine to affect the lives of not only all the citizens of this country but all the countries of the world. Nothing should be taken lightly

At the end of four years, the historians will have their say and you will definitely be in the history books, one way or the other. Does he want to be remembered in the same manner as we remember Adolph Hitler, who thought so much of himself he couldn’t tolerate the thought of a world containing anyone but perfect human beings? I remember his ranting and raving during the news reels during World War II, and every time I’ve watched Mr. Trump carrying on at one of his rallies, I am reminded of the most hated man in the world during my time on this planet.

Mr. Trump has a young son, who will likely read about his father in the history books someday. That could be a proud thing to be able to say, “…He was my Dad.”  But not if he conducts himself as President as he conducted himself the way he did during this campaign. He has the chance, with some conciliatory actions toward those he has alienated in the last eighteen months, as well as to walk back some of the hateful attitudes and positions he has taken, and begin to try and consider the others in the world and this country, and quit thinking in terms of benefiting himself.

My advice to Mr. Trump at this point in time would be to consider the points I’ve made, and take advantage of those who are in a position to help you put things into perspective, particularly Former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. I suspect you could pick up some good solid advice from Former President Carter as well. It would be nice if your young son, when he reaches the age of 30, would be able to say proudly, “…He was my Dad, and I’m proud of what he did”. After all, money doesn’t get you into the history books. Your deeds are what get you into the history books. Both good and bad.

A Moment of Wonder… and Revelation

14 Oct

On June 27, 1965 I experienced the most amazing moment of wonder of my entire life! It was also an extreme moment of revelation for me. Let me explain.

That date, at about 4:00 AM, was when my son was born. About four hours later, when I got off work and drove to the Navy hospital in Kenitra, Morocco, I saw him for the first time. At that moment, what I saw was this helpless little creature that could do nothing for himself, and with whom his Mom and I had been entrusted to care for, protect, teach and otherwise nurture through this period of helplessness, through all stages of childhood until the time when he would be capable of taking his place among others of his peers, and able to take control of his own life and provide and protect himself. It was almost overwhelming!

Here was this little guy, sleeping in this little enclosure with his face turned to one side and his little butt in the air, impervious to everything around him, and totally dependent on someone  to make sure he was safe, secure, well-fed and in no danger. That “someone” was his Mom and me, and neither of us had an instruction manual or other guide as to how to do this. I had never changed a diaper before, and neither of us had ever really had a burning desire to have children, even back to the earliest days of our marriage. Nevertheless, here he was, and neither of us would have taken a hundred million dollars for him. He was adorable, and it was our job to provide all the things for him that I outlined earlier. Daunting, to say the least.

The revelation part, for me, was that the moment I laid eyes upon him, I suddenly realized that I finally understood all the things my father had said to me, and the rules he had imposed on me as a child. Although for a lot of reasons I had spent little time around him as a small child, as a teenager I had felt confined to some degree, and felt that a lot of the restrictions on my activities and behavior had been unreasonable and arbitrary, but now, all of a sudden, I understood! They were protective measures, and they all made sense to me… now!

Bobby was an adorable little baby, with all the charm and engaging traits that babies have, probably so that people will just love them to death, which we did. We indulged his every whim, which was largely to keep him fed, warm and loved. It was an easy task, although that was from my point of view, mostly because I still had to go to work, and so the bulk of the work fell to my wife, Pat. Because we couldn’t travel within a certain period of time after his birth, we stayed an extra year in Morocco. So, shortly before his first birthday, we packed up our little prince, and boarded a plane for the trip back to the United States. Aside from the extra stuff you have to carry along with you when you have a small child, traveling with him was relatively easy. Of course, everyone who saw him had to stop and admire him, much to our chagrin!

After stopping to celebrate his first Birthday in Chicago with his grandparents, we proceeded to the west coast, Stockton, California to exact. In doing so, we crossed the desert of Utah, and with no air conditioning in the car in those days, it was uncomfortably hot. Bobby gained his fascination with cars, with Mom frequently pointing out the “pretty cars” to him as we drove down the highways. That fascination has never waned, and continues to this day.

This isn’t going to be the life story of Bobby. Suffice to say that over the years, watching him pass through each stage of childhood, we could see most of the challenges he faced, and tried to deal with them the best way we knew how. There were some challenges he faced that we weren’t aware of until well after he was grown, and he revealed them to us, bit by bit, as he felt comfortable doing so. It became apparent over the years that the role of a parent changes constantly, consistent with the needs of the child. In some ways it stays the same, and it’s sort of the responsibility of the parent to take note of the changes, and be prepared to adjust the level of parenting to apply. Not an easy chore!

As Bobby grew to manhood, we added an additional component to our relationship, and besides being father and son, we became close friends. Living in the south, at about the age of twelve we had asked him if he preferred to be addressed by something other than Bobby, as I had when I was about twelve. He decided that in Florida, “Bobby” was quite acceptable, and so it was. But, around the time he hit the bricks and started working professionally, he decided he wanted to be known as “Rob”, so we adapted to that change, although we still have difficulty with it, from force of habit.

We began doing things as “buddies” more frequently, when we could find the time. I recall that somewhere around the age of 50, I noticed that he had become more protective of me, and once when I stumbled over the edge of a carpet while walking through the annual International Auto Show, and he caught me, asking, “…are you okay, Dad?” It wasn’t lost on me that there had just occurred some kind of transition, where he had suddenly become the protector.

In the following years, the relationship became even easier, and all of a sudden he became my source of all knowledge relating to automobiles, and certain other areas where he had expertise. I also discovered during these years that he was using my material! At the golf course one day, I heard him explaining something with a humorous punch line to a mutual golf buddy, and I asked him where he got that. He responded, “From you, Dad, I heard you say that years ago!”  So, it became apparent that he not only learned from things I had told him specifically, but that he had learned from watching and listening to me interact with others. A lesson to all those parents out there. Your kids are not only listening to you, they’re watching you, so set a good example, because they’re likely to emulate you!

So, we come to the present day. Rob is now doing senior citizen things, and when he was approaching AARP eligibility days, he told me that he was on his way home one day and felt this unnatural urge from the steering wheel on his car to turn into a Bob Evans restaurant, which is a regular hangout for senior citizens. He is an animal lover, and twice within the last year or so has rescued tiny kittens from sure death, and has taken them into his home for nurturing and the requisite cuddling. One has grown to adulthood, and the latest is just a few weeks old. He is very protective of small cuddly things. My reason for trying to capture some of these moments  in this piece is to let him know that I too was once won over by a small cuddly thing that has never left my heart, and that will never change. Sometimes I think the most valuable things we have for ourselves is our memories. The only way they ever change for me is that occasionally the few less-than-nice memories will fade into the background, becoming irrelevant. Of course, this leaves more room in the front row for the good ones, and I have just now shared some of those with the reader.