Saturday, November 27, 2010

Durward's Navy

After writing about Durward and North Korea in Facebook, it occurs to me that I should fill in some blanks and that will take me back to some of my first memories. Perhaps his children will appreciate it. Keep in mind, however, that some of the blanks I will try to fill is based only on hints of what Durward must have been doing and my own experiences and conclusions of how it might have happened for him. Some, perhaps a lot, is guessing on my part, based on my Navy experience, and reasonable expectation of how the Navy would have operated. I could do a much better job of piecing the puzzle together, and answering many questions, if I had his letters that he sent home. I don't know who has those now.

One question is, for example, why do I remember the country, North Korea, spoken in our house on the corner of Brummett and First Streets in Owensville, Indiana, about as far removed from Korea as possible, when I was only six to nine years old, sometime between 1950 and 1953, give or take a year? The answer is simple. Durward's Navy travels were the talk of the house. Mom didn't take Durward's joining the Navy very well, perhaps because her illness was progressing at the time, or perhaps because Uncle Cecil, her brother, had also spent time in the Navy and came out of it an alcoholic. She may have been afraid that the same thing would happen to Durward. I don't remember if Uncle Cecil was in the Navy during war time, but if he was, then that would be cause for Mom's worry and fretting as well. She, like the rest of us, had no idea what kind of a mess Durward's ship, the USS Rooks (DD-804), a Navy Destroyer, was in as it patrolled the Korean coast line. So, whenever we received a letter from Durward, Dad read it at the dinner table and, if the letter hinted at conflict, Dad would have to console Mom as much as he could. Of course, Mom knew that Dad knew no more than she did. Both had lived all of their lives in Owensville, and knew only what they read and heard of the world beyond that. Sometimes, Elvin lent a consoling word that Mom could have more faith in. Elvin spent time in Yokohama, Japan as part of the Japan occupation probably within months of Japan's surrender. If anyone knew of what might be happening in Korea, Elvin did, but of course he didn't really know either. How could he? "He's alright," was all Elvin could really say, but it seemed to be more effective than Dad's consolation. I don't remember that Durward's letters were alarming or gave us cause to worry. I suspect that he, like Dad, would understate serious matters or situations of danger rather than sound alarming.

In the meantime, all of us were getting lessons in world geography and we paid more attention to news of the world on the radio. We have to remember what was happening in 1950-53 in Korea, and in China and the Soviet Union for that matter. Mao Zedong had just led a revolution in China and driven Chiang Kai Shek to Taiwan and he was threatening to invade Taiwan. Mao was also pushing his friends, the North Korean communists, to attack the Korean government located in Seoul. North Korea attacked the south in June 1950. Kim Jung-One, a mean despot and a Mao-wanna-be, wanted to be a god. His army captured about 90% of Korea and by September only a small area around Pusan, on the south-east coast of Korea, was left and it wouldn't be long before the entire country would fall. General Macarthur led the amphibious invasion at Inchon on the north-west coast just below the 38th parallel (the United Nations' delineated dividing line of the two Koreas) in September 1950 successfully stopping the North Koreans. Fighting lasted until July 1953.

The Soviet Union wasn't far away. At the end of World War II, Stalin captured Japan's most northern island and clamped down the Iron Curtain around it and it was only a day's sailing from North Korea. After that, nothing was heard from the island for twenty years. The USSR's most northern Naval port, Vladivostok, was located only 50 miles from North Korea's northern border. And, the Cold War-Arms Race was just beginning. These were historical times. America had emerged from the war as the most powerful nation in the world. And, let's not forget what was happening in other parts of the Asia and Asia Minor (Middle East). Israel was a brand new country. The Middle East had been divided up into countries only a few years before. The USSR was trying to gain inroads into Egypt and its President Naguib and his second in command and to follow as Egyptian President, Abdel Nasser. Naguib and Nasser led an Egyptian Socialist revolution in 1952, following the Soviet model. And, too, the French was fighting communist in Indochina (Vietnam) and losing. It was a troubled world.

To tell the truth, after writing "North Korea, Durward and Me" and thinking about it, I thought my memory may be playing tricks on me. It didn't make sense when compared to my own Navy experience and knowledge that he would sail from the East Coast to the Pacific. When I was in the Navy, we never, I repeat "Never," heard of an East-Coast ship being assigned to a Western Pacific patrol or duty. It was, in my day, like two separate navies, one on the East Coast and one on the West. The only place in the world where the two might meet would have been in the Middle East or in the northern Indian Ocean or Persian Gulf; one navy coming by way of the the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal and the other coming by a route through the Indian Ocean. There, the East and West would combine forces for a few operations, then turn and make our way back to our own play ground. Yet, I distinctly remember most of the places Durward visited being discussed at home. His travels were a big deal to us and I was interested in where he was. I missed him. I remember talking about the Caribbean, Cuba, Panama Canal, San Diego, Hawaii, Japan, Philippines, India, Africa, the Suez Canal, Egypt, Italy and France and the Mediterranean Sea. We tracked his route on a globe and we listened for those countries on the radio.

Durward reported aboard the USS Rooks (I didn't know it had an "s" on it) on March 8, 1952, according to this miracle of the Internet (Find "Clark, Durward" on the page or scroll until you find his name), at Portsmouth, Virginia after he finished Storekeeper school at Newport, Rhode Island. He probably came home for two weeks after school. He was a Storekeeper Seaman Apprentice, one grade up from the bottom, nineteen years old and he had been in the Navy approximately five to six months, twelve weeks of Boot Camp, eight weeks of school, and one month of leave, when he joined the Rooks. Mom was so glad that we took a train from Princeton to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, just north of Chicago, to see him graduate from Boot Camp. She wanted to see that her son was okay. We watched all of the recruits march by the bleachers and stand at attention to receive the tributes of the speakers. All I remember about that was Mom asking, over and over again, "Do you see him? Where is he?" I don't recall that we did see him during the graduation ceremony. There were several hundred recruits all wearing dress blues and white hats, all with short-cut buzz haircuts and all looking alike. The only thing that distinguish some from others was their race. Someone, Dad or Mom, would point and say, "Is that him?" And we'd all look hard only to say, "Nope. That's not him." Later, we waited on sofa-like chairs in a large hall, Mom fidgeting and asking, "What's taking him so long?" until he finally came through the door. The reunion was joyous. It was as if he'd been gone for years instead of twelve weeks. The irony was, that after traveling that far to Chicago, a long way in those days, we only got to see him for about an hour, and then we were on our way home. A few days later, after Boot Camp, he came home for the typical fourteen-day leave before going to Newport, Rhode Island and Storekeeper School. He flew out of Evansville to Newport, which, like my travel to Rhode Island fourteen years later, was probably was his first airplane ride and likely stopped at a half-dozen airports along the way and took ten to twelve hours. I think the flight took me around eight hours. We can fly from San Francisco to Paris in eleven hours today. What a contrast! In eight weeks, he was home again for another fourteen-day leave before returning to the East Coast to the USS Rooks.

So, what was Durward up to? In those days after the war, the American Navy was the strongest military force on the planet, but it was scattered hear and yon. Since the Pacific war was primarily an air war, all of our aircraft carriers were in the Pacific, although battleships, anti-mine warfare ships and other surface fighting ships were there too. The Atlantic Ocean War was a surface and submarine war, with very little need for aircraft carriers. Germany had the big battleships and the submarines in the war and it was those that our East Coast Navy was designed to beat. Of course, each navy, Atlantic and Pacific, had taken casualties; ships were sunk and neither navy had the variation of the ships it needed. And, Ike was our President and probably the most knowledgeable military strategist on the planet. I think he saw a need to make a statement to the world in case another dictator saw an opportunity for war, sort of like, "Hey! Pay attention any of you despots and dictators who might think you want to raise a ruckus. I'm sending a large naval task force around the world to show you the kind of force I can bring down on your head. So, beware. Be belligerent at your own risk." So, he ordered a large naval task force on a world cruise. Mao hesitated to invade Taiwan and, in fact, never did. Egypt hesitated to invade Israel, delaying that for a number of years. In Ike's day, the United Nations was somewhat successful in stopping the civil war in Vietnam for a few years. Durward, it seems to me, was part of an American "show the flag world cruise."

Again, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and some dedicated old sailor or naval historian who has learned the ins and outs of it, we can read the USS Rooks' daily log. The log starts in September 1944 in Seattle, WA and the Pacific. Take a moment to read the legend of what the symbols mean, T/U, S/W, IND, etc., at the top of the log. The Rooks has quite a history. In February and March 1945, the USS Rooks was in the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most vicious battles of the Pacific. In September 1945, it took on board ninety-two Allied prisoners of war, mostly British, at Nagasaki, Japan. I found it interesting. Scroll down until you find the dates when Durward was aboard, between March 8, 1952 and November 11, 1953 when he left the ship for Port Lyautey Naval Air Station, French Morocco.

From March to September 1952, Durward hung around the East Coast, making port calls at Rockland, Maine, Newport, Rhode Island, and Portsmouth, Virginia and a trip south to Guantanamo Bay and Santiago, Cuba and Puerto Rica. Santiago is now under Castro control and we cannot visit it. By September 11, 1952, he was passing through the Panama Canal to San Diego, Hawaii, Midway Island and Sasebo, Japan and was patrolling off the east coast of North Korea by October 13 with Task Force 77. The strangest log entries in Durward's North Korean day are the entries from November 30 to December 10, 1952, "off of Wonsan Harbor, North Korea 'Tin Pan Alley'." The term, Tin Pan Alley, was around long before the Korean War, and my search suggests that the term meant a certain style tinny sounding music or musical instruments with a tin-like quality sound, such as old pianos and phonograph players. Wanson Harbor is near the northern border of North Korea where China, Siberia and North Korea meet and it is the same harbor where the USS Pueblo was captured in my day. It was a primary shipping harbor for North Korea. If they called it "Tin Pan Alley," I can only assume they meant the Tin Pan ships that supplied North Korea. Perhaps they sunk a few of them. Perhaps it was a turkey-shoot. I have no doubts that Durward saw a little action, first hand, around that harbor.

Perhaps the Rooks was hit or damaged in some way while patrolling off North Korea. It spent December 31, 1952 through January 6, 1953 in drydock #1 in Sasebo, Japan. The only reason a ship is placed in drydock is to repair hull damage, usually below the water line. I also found it odd that Sasebo would have a functional drydock and repair facilities so soon after the war. Sasebo is only a few miles north of Nagasaki that was totally destroyed by the atomic bomb and Sasebo itself was the target of some very intensive bombing. Even in my day, fifteen years later, Sasebo had not been restored to a major naval port, let alone a repair port. But, the U.S. Navy did miraculous things in building what it needed at the time. The Navy Seabees could, and still can, construct anything in a matter of days. I wonder whether Durward saw Nagasaki in those days? He would have had time to do that although the radiation may have been too hot to visit there.

He visited Yokosuka, Japan and no doubt paid tribute to Honcho Street, the "Boss" Street, the street of night clubs. In his day, Honcho Street would have been the only place that he could unwind after long days at sea. He spent five days in Yokosuka. I guess it would be nice to think that Durward was a saint and spend all of his time on base. There likely was an Enlisted Club on base, and he could have spent all of his time there, but I doubt it. The shops, night clubs and sights of Honcho Street lures everyone. Durward could not have had a beer at the Rendezvous Room, however, because he was much too early for that. The Rendezvous Room was in the Enlisted Club at the end of Honcho Street built in the late 1950s, about six years before I arrived in Yokosuka. The club was built outside of the base intentionally, to keep as many of us off the street as possible. It did the job. It was a hopping place and all sailors usually went there. The beer was cheap, the food was good and the dancing lasted until 11:00 pm, Monday through Thursday, and 1:00 am on Friday and Saturday nights. But, as all sailor towns, Yokosuka was a rough place and the Rendezvous Room was too. Subic Bay was worse, however.

Surprisingly, after three days at Yokosuka, the Rooks went to Atami, Japan. I know exactly what Durward saw in Atami. He couldn't have missed it! There are shrines and temples to this particular ancient cult worship all over the city. He would have been shocked and amused and he and his buddies would have had plenty to joke and laugh about for days, maybe weeks. Atami was a resort in my day with hotels with hot spring pools in which one bathed naked while, of course, modestly keeping one's body up to one's neck under water and each gender entering the pool from their own hidden dressing room. We were, nevertheless, naked under water. The city's biggest attraction, however, and it shocked me during my visit there, was (get ready for this!) its annual "Penis Festival," a fertility festival carried over from ancient days gone by. There are penis shrines, fully erect, all over the place and temples with table after table filled with all shapes and sizes and made of plaster of Paris, carved wood, molded metal and carved stone penises. It's not difficult to imagine Durward's reddened, freckled face with the "what the hell is going on" look on it.

The Royal British Navy was in the conflict as well. On February 6, the Rooks escorted the HMS (His/Her Majesty's Ship) Wave Prince, an oiler, to Sasebo, and that was her last duty around North Korea. In mid February 1953, the Rooks was in Subic Bay, Philippines and then to Singapore, a British Crown Colony then, Ceylon, Bombay, India, Bahrein in the Persian Gulf, Aden, Arabia, the Suez Canal and Port Said, Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea by March 20, 1953. Whew! He had quite a trip! Of course, Britain no longer has Crown Colonies, Bombay is now Mumbai and Arabia is now Saudi Arabia. Things have changed.

From the Rooks, Durward was transferred to Port Lyautey Naval Air Station, French Morocco, which is no longer French. I've always thought, based on something I heard or imagined, that he was at some lonely outpost in Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea, sort of Embassy Duty that a fortunate few are assigned. That's not true. Again, we have the Internet to thank for a peek at what duty at Port Lyautey might have been like in the form of a Squadron Scrapbook. Click the "Next Page" until the pictures end to see them all. And, with the French Army around, or its Foreign Legion, there would have been plenty entertainment. It looks like a nice, peaceful and fun base to spend his last two years in the Navy.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Do They Come?

I've been trying for several months to form the bits and pieces of a few immigrants' personal stories that I know into a suitable and comprehensible narrative. I don't want to insult them or criticize them nor expose their identities. I have a deep respect for all of the immigrants I personally know and for the small part of their stories that I know. I count all of them among my good friends. But, why did they come to America?

I suspect that what they think of America now, and what they thought of America before they came has changed. I suspect that America is not quite what they thought it was. On Friday, ABC World News ended it's week in China and the image of China that ABC presented was very impressive. High speed, 250 miles per hour Bullet Trains with nearly 6,000 miles of track to major cities in China from border to border, modern buildings that are constructed at astonishing speed, modern highways with more miles added daily, its break-neck pace developing pollution-free vehicles for a billion people and on and on. But, the thing that impressed me most were the opinions of the Chinese, from the grade-school students of ten or eleven years old to the adults, about America and what their hopes were for America and China. They thought America was "technologically advanced," "a great country," "greater than China," "more advanced than China," and a "rich country." They hoped "China and America could be friends," that "we could work together," and more similar expressions. These are the reasons they come and the dreams they have, but, it's more complicated than that.

Before your mind wanders to the things we should fear of China, both imagined and real, know that this story isn't about China or our fears. So, drop it. I can write about that some other time. In fact, this story isn't about China; it's about dreams and, of course, courage. If you haven't thought of it, however, please notice the huge disparity between what the Chinese think and the reality. We don't have 6,000 miles of high-speed rail track or a single high-speed train. In fact, we don't have one mile of high-speed track. We can't build new modern buildings in a few weeks. We're not nearly prepared to provide pollution-free vehicles to a billion people. We don't have an education system that provides college degrees to more people than there are jobs. We are ranked below China and about thirty-five other countries in critical education subjects. In fact and in reality, America is a completely different country than the image in the Chinese minds. Can we say that any of those opinions we heard are true or accurate? No.

Yet, that's the image of America, not only in China, but also for the majority of people in Europe, Africa, India, Mexico and most parts of the world. I suspect that the people of the Middle-East, the Muslim countries, on the whole, have a different image because we've shown a side of America to them that the rest of the world hasn't experienced, except perhaps Vietnam. To those, we've shown war, fear and destruction for the most part, overwhelming an image of generosity, friendship, scientific achievement and knowledge. In those countries our army does the talking and a louder voice, a more familiar voice to those who live there, comes from their culture, our foes and, in some cases, our fickle diplomatic friends such as Karzai. There are only a few who hold a good opinion of America in the Middle-East.

But, they come in spite of the huge obstacles that face them;  fear, I believe, being the first obstacle. Imagine leaving your home country, where all of the things are familiar, your parents, all of your friends and perhaps, for a short period, your wife or husband to strike out in to a completely unknown country based solely on an image and a dream. I find that mind boggling. Well, I left home too, and I lived in Japan for a total of twelve years among its citizens, but I wasn't far from my safety net, the U.S. Navy. So, it's not the same. Take the typical path an immigrant from India has to take. First, an A-1 college education is critical, usually in a science and highly technical, that they obtain in India where colleges provide an education just as good if not better than ours. Second is to connect with a U.S. contractor who will "sponsor" the immigrant's H-1 visa application, guaranteeing employment, usually at such low wages that the person cannot bring a spouse. These contract jobs are located in low-income areas of the states; i.e., Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky or Mississippi. It costs less to live, yet his wages are still too low to bring his wife. He lives in the cheapest studio apartment he can find. Meanwhile, the wife waits at her parent's home, under financial duress, without enough money for more than one 15-minute phone call a month. The contract work lasts around three years at which time the immigrant is "released" from his contract obligation and "allowed" to find another job if he so desires. Finally, he finds a better paying job that pays a salary comparable to an American worker in his field. He saves. He finally sends for his wife, and later his and/or her parents, if they want. They can also begin having children, growing a family because they can finally afford it. The wife is just as educated as the husband. Both work at jobs that pay good salaries. It's only a matter of time and saving before they have their own home and living, finally, reasonably well.

I know several Indian immigrants whose stories are probably similar to the story above. They come in all shapes and sizes with various beliefs and cultural influence, and have various temperament and personalities, but one thing is true of all of them; they are brilliant at what they do. And, they are all generous, kind, friendly and have a love of life and a work ethics that puts many of us to shame. I'm always reminded of the Intel commercial in which the Indian Electrical Engineer, the "Father of the Pentium" Intel processor, walks through a room crowded with his fans and the narrator says, "Our rock stars are not like your rock stars." I guess you could look at only the commercial aspect of the ad, but think about the contribution he made to America and world. When I think about the contribution to America that all of my Indian immigrant friends have made I think of these: I couldn't get a prescription at Kaiser as fast it now takes, only minutes, if a husband of a friend had not designed Kaiser's Pharmaceutical system to be that fast. I couldn't make a safe bank transaction or stock transaction or send an instant email over the Internet at lightning speed if a friend of my friend had not engineered a Cisco router to handle gigabytes of data in nano-seconds. I couldn't use a high speed 4 gigahertz computer if that Indian Electrical Engineer had not designed that Pentium processor. Last, but not least, I would never have learned as much about software programming and the mysteries behind computer systems and processes had it not been for these brilliant immigrants. It's been an interesting magical mystery tour.

You and I have likely used or touched a software application or website or made an Internet transaction that my friends created. We are not so far removed from one another. They are probably Hindu, not Christian. They may be Buddhist or perhaps Muslim. But, I haven't noticed any significant difference in values. I know for a fact they are not extremists or terrorists. And, in spite of the differences between that dream they may have once had and the reality of America, they still love America. I'm glad they came.

Then there is a different circumstance for a young Irishman who, at the age of twenty-one in 1993, decided to visit America with three friends after they graduated from a Dublin university. It was intended to be just a summer visit, not a lifetime. But, I wonder whether he already knew or hoped that he would stay longer than the summer. There is a clue, later, that suggests that he did not intend to return to Ireland. There is also evidence that he kept his plans secret from his parents. The plan, they said, was to go to Kansas City, because it was the center of the country. Imagine that! Of all of the places a group of Irish students would choose, I would never have thought Kansas City would be one of them.

But, he (who I will call Mike - not his real name) and one other came first to New York, the other two to come a week later after they graduated. Mike and his friend attended a week-long "indoctrination" at Columbia University and found themselves at the street curb outside the university, one inside the cab and Mike seconds away from getting in it, when they suddenly had a moment of indecision. One said suddenly, "I'm going to Boston. That's where all Irish go. That's where we can find Irish friends." I can imagine that he was afraid of the unknown and wanted familiar people around him. But, Mike promised. Kansas City was where they were supposed to meet. What would the two following think? Mike closed the cab door and it drove away toward Grand Central Station and a train to Boston. Mike took a second cab to LaGaurdia Airport for a flight to Kansas City and into the unknown. After all, he promised.

All that Mike knew at that point was that he might, I say "might," be able to stay with friend of a friend for a few nights, perhaps long enough to get more permanent lodging. The plane landed in Kansas City and Mike called the friend, once removed, cold-turkey and asked him if he could stay a few nights. Imagine getting a phone call from a guy you didn't know from Adam wanting to use your spare bedroom for a few nights! What gall! What audacity! What absurdity! What courage! They gave him a place to sleep for a few days.

Mike found other lodging, his two friends arrived, he met a local Irishman who apparently ran a small organization that helped new Irish immigrants find their way around Kansas City, he found a job busing or waiting on tables in a restaurant around the river-front area and, to take the edge off of his loneliness and natural needs, he hooked up. That is probably a good, concise summary of his summer in Kansas City. It probably wasn't easy, but it was likely fun. Kansas City's river-front district is a lively place, an area around 8th and 12th Streets and Grand and Baltimore Boulevards, similar in some ways to San Antonio's river-side restaurants and bars. A place where a young and active person could have fun. I suspect he had a few extra dollars, but not much. He would have been conservative, I believe. The surprising clue to his intent, that I learned at this point in his story, was that "my working visa was approved" he said. A working visa?

He returned to Ireland to get his new visa and then came back to Kansas City. At this point, there is no doubt that Mike intended to leave Ireland. I've heard a number of hints over the years that indicate how his decision was made. One time he said, "I just up and left. I told my parents we were on a 'guided tour'," or words to that effect. Another time, more recently, after marriage and as a father of two young sons, he said something like, "can you imagine just up and leaving like that? I hope my children don't do that!" Age, responsibility, love changes a person's perspective. He now understands the impact of his youthful impulsiveness on his parents.

I can't help but think about what, if anything, pushed him toward leaving his home country and the safety and familiarity of his youth to come to a new country. Was it the dream-like image of a great, technically superior, Silicone Valley America, the conditions in Ireland, the urge for adventure, the Protestant-Catholic violence in Ireland, or an unexplainable combination of things? He had no employer sponsor. He had few friends and contacts. He was essentially alone.

It wasn't long before Mike left Kansas City with his girlfriend and they made their way to Tahoe, Nevada. In Tahoe, he got a job at a casino hotel at the check-in/out, reception counter. I probably saw him there! Back in those days, I regularly went to Tahoe four or five times a year. But, if I had known him then, I would have been able to tell you that being a hotel concierge was not Mike's cup of tea, and, in Tahoe, there's not much opportunity for anything else. It didn't take long before Mike, restless and disenchanted with Tahoe, was on the move again, this time to Reno, where he finally landed a job more suitable to his education, although only barely, which I understand to be sort of a dispatcher-computer operator-trouble shooter-clerk/analyst for a trucking company or a delivery company, a one-man shop. I'm sure he had doubts and fears too. I understand that during his Tahoe-Reno period, he found himself alone on a bus returning to Kansas City only to turn around and return to Tahoe. Maybe there was a disagreement in his relationship. Maybe frustration in the moment, of losing sight of a future of better times, or simply homesickness, that caused moments of doubt. If you've ever been away from home, alone in an unknown place, then you know the feeling.

Whatever the case, Mike eventually severed his personal relationship and sometime later met his future wife in Reno. But, Reno too is a casino town, not a center of business. There was not an opportunity to grow in Reno, at least not enough to suit Mike. He move to San Francisco. I can hear him tell it, "just up and moved." I was surprised to learn that he moved before he had a job. Personally, I've never tried moving before I had a job in the vicinity I was moving to. I don't have that much faith. But, Mike did and soon he had a software engineer job in the area noted for software development, the Silicone Valley and surrounding cities. Every business in the Bay Area was in the "dot-com" business in the 1990s. It was a booming business with boom-town like qualities. Ironically, in a year or so, Mike's next job was with a software company based out of the Puget Sound/Seattle area as a Bay Area software systems/installation consultant. Once in his field of study, he advanced from simple programming to installing and customizing complete customer relations systems for an entire company. That's a big jump.

It wasn't long when one of his client companies noticed him and offered him a supervisory job on the spot. It was inevitable. And, in a few years, and about twelve years after leaving his Irish home, Mike moved into a near office as department director, a position held by his predecessor as a Vice President position. I've never understood why the position was downgraded, but Mike will go on to company vice president and president positions, or perhaps his own company, if he wants that. Meanwhile, he has a lovely family, two homes and a great future. It seems to me, even though the truth is likely a lot different than the dream he had, that it was all worth it. And, Mike too has contributed to America. You may be using or touching his systems, his changes and the results of his efforts when you buy from or contact or deal with companies. I hope that those companies serve you better because of Mike's efforts. He was excited and proud the day he went for his naturalization exam and oath. He was excited when he returned, "I did it!" he said. Well, of course he did it. What else would I have expected! I was happy for him.

You might say that these immigrants are different. They're highly educated and needed and they are documented. Well, that's true. But the dream is the same, the image is the same and the courage is the same. I'm reminded of Jose who takes care of my lawn twice a month. He's been here for a long time and probably gained his citizenship through President Reagan's amnesty program. His son, a citizen by birth, is a store owner in Hayward and and a graduate of California Hayward University. He provides jobs, supports the Hayward economy and pays state and federal taxes.

So, I suppose we can be hurtful, hateful, afraid and prejudiced, but it is our loss. We need enlightened immigration laws. This is a great country, made all the greater because they come.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Mob Opinion Driven Justice Begats Injustice

I guess what keeps me shouting is that I don't hear anything but silence on important issues, except from the Mob. The Mob, it seems, even wants to run our courts. In this case, Ghailani, a terrorist, was convicted of conspiring in one or both of the two simultaneous 1998 American Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Nairobi, Africa. He was convicted in a Federal Court instead of a Military Commission. And, the Mob is upset, as this story, A Terrorist Gets What He Deserves -, says.

The fact is that a Federal Court has more laws that it can try a person for, such as criminal laws like hijacking, murder to a number of degrees, espionage, subversion, kidnapping, etc., while a Military Commission can only apply laws related to military law, such as treason on the battle field, hostile insurgency, military action against civilians, torture of war prisoners, etc. As a general rule, both the civilian court and military court should conduct court procedures the same. In one case, a civilian jury will decide guilt or innocence and perhaps punishment, and in the other a panel of three, five or seven military officers will act as a jury. In both cases, the intent is to base the trial and innocence or guilt on fact and evidence, not opinion or gut feeling or hyped media noise. In both cases, evidence obtained by coercion, such as by torture, is usually thrown out because there is no valid way of determining whether the evidence is the truth or not. Read the article. It cites other Military Commission cases in which evidence was tossed out because of the non-traditional manner in the way it was obtained, i.e., coercion.

So, why is the Mob upset. It is upset because Ghailani didn't get "the max." The jury did not convict on 284 counts. The jury convicted on only one count; conspiracy. I am much more pleased and assured that justice was served when I hear that a jury used discretion in its convictions than I am when I hear that a jury convicted on everything thrown at it or that a jury agreed totally with all the hype in media venting by some politician, such as Senator McConnell. McConnell wasn't on the jury. He didn't hear the facts and evidence and testimony. He knows nothing. He also, apparently, doesn't trust our legal system. Have to wonder why he is a Senator, one of a hundred that passes our laws.

Everyday we hear of cases where public opinion convicted a suspect and later we hear of scientific evidence, based on updated scientific forensic methods, that proves innocence. Everyday we hear that public opinion, prosecutors, courts and governors who will not acknowledge the new forensic evidence because of some gut-feeling based opinion. I wrote about a Texas case before Governor Perry was reelected in which new, advanced scientific evidence gave every indication that the suspect, Todd Willingham, was innocent. But, the whole town, Willingham's wife, and Governor Perry said, "he's a bad man," so Texas executed him.

I'm also reminded of the California conviction and death sentence of Scott Peterson for murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn child. That case was plastered on every newscast for weeks and Nancy Grace prosecuted him on her show for no other reason than he was a liar. The trial was held in San Mateo, only twenty miles from my house, and I saw and heard every bit of evidence in the trial every day in minute detail with scurrilous convicting commentary. "He's a liar!" they yelled. "He's an adulterer!" they said. Well, he was all of that, and a foolish, hallucinating idiot to boot because he couldn't keep his mouth shut in spite of his attorney's advice and he concocted the tallest tales. But, a murderer? By the end of the trial, and after all of the evidence was paraded on every newscast, radio and television, the police admitted that there was not one iota of forensic evidence that actually showed that he murdered his wife. Not one drop of blood, not a sign of a fight, not a sign of dismembering his wife as she was found, not one timeline that indicated he might have done it. There was a lot of circumstantial "damning" evidence created by Scott himself, but the only forensic evidence was a single hair found on a pair of pliers in the family boat. His conviction was totally based on "theory." I have doubts to this day whether he really did it. After his trial, there was another pregnant woman found, dismembered as Laci was, in the Bay as Laci was. The second woman's murder never made the news like Laci's did. As far as I know, the second killer was never found, but it was eerily similar to Laci's murder.

I might have been able to justify in my mind that Scott Peterson killed his wife, but I'm not sure I could have been so convinced to vote to put him to death. I was really troubled by public display and mob behavior. Public opinion and Scott's behavior convicted him. But, in spite of Scott's behavior, it wouldn't surprise me if some day we learn through new evidence that he didn't do it.

When the Mob runs our courts, we can't trust our legal system. In fact, we can't trust anything.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some People Will Believe Anything - A False Witness Even on a Nice Day

I usually wake up early and listen to the usual suspects on the radio to get the daily blather while I go through the New York Times and Washington Post headlines. Funny thing this morning - the radio was playing Christmas music, and I love Christmas music. Well, I thought, the usual host must be taking the day off, so I let it pass and enjoyed the music. But, when 5:00 A.M. passed and the music didn't turn into the morning news, it got my attention so I listened closer to learn what station I was listening to. Someone, apparently, changed the station to KOIT (Kay-Oh-Eye-Tee, as it says, RADIO - you have to sing it). KOIT always starts playing Christmas music in November and I usually listen to it, so I left the station tuned to KOIT. It's a nice way to start the day.

That didn't stop me from thinking, however, about yesterday's Ronn Owens KGO Talk Show. Owens is easy to figure out. Track any Republican talking point, no matter how outrageously delusional it is, from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Right-Wing blogger or any Fox News personality and it will eventually make it to The Ronn Owens show, and Owens usually takes the Right Wingnut side. Owens is a neo-con, a so-called "New Conservative." He's a Leo Strauss guy, the political philosopher, in that it is okay to voluntarily "fabricate a myth and an illusion (or delusion)" to attain the desired results. In other words, it's just fine to lie, distort the truth or create a myth to get what you want. It is also okay to accept a lie as part of an argument about any issue. Like Strauss says, "it is human nature to accept and choose, and in fact desire, a myth or untruth over the hard facts of the truth," or words to that effect. We can't face the truth, Strauss says, and we like it that way. Strauss' conclusions came, he claims, from reading all the great philosophers from Socrates to Locke.

Well, I'm no philosopher and I don't claim to be, but I can read and understand English and I can usually think through the things I read, hear and observe enough to come to a reasonable conclusion. So, I have to ask: How can anyone make a good decision about anything if they are not willing to learn the factual truth, or as much as they possibly can about the truth? But, in today's world, I am apparently wrong. I don't remember a time when so many people are so willing to believe and pass on distortion of facts, outright lies, rumor and innuendo. I have to wonder what happened to that old Golden Rule about not being a "False Witness." It's forgotten, I guess.

The truth is that I can't stand Owens' show because of his willingness to distort the truth and to continue myth. He is a false witness. I listen until I have to get up from the chair and turn him off, usually long enough to tell what the morning subjects are, where his conversation is going in his first hour and what his point of view is. Long enough to hear that what he has to say is the usual rubbish. But, yesterday, I listened a little longer because I found the position he took intriguing. I thought, until yesterday, that Owens knew his own political philosophy, that he identified himself as Right-Wing, a neo-con and a wingnut. But, after yesterday's show, I don't think he knows. He is just as deluded by his own blather as most Right-Wingnuts are and he thinks he's a moderate and he's gaming his listeners. His sole agenda is to be controversial, to compete with those other Right-Wing talk-show hosts for the sole purpose of gaining listeners, to improve his ratings. He's a con-artist and it's probably intentional KGO policy. He may not have an honest personal opinion about anything and he's not interested in the truth.

Yesterday's show was about Obama spending $200 million a day on his Asian trip. $200 million a day? Any normal person who has a brain should know from the outset that a statement like that is hogwash. But, the Drudge Report, the usual suspect, picked it up from some "anonymous" source in India and Minnesota's Congresswoman Michele Nutcake Bachmann repeated it on CNN with Anderson Cooper. Cooper checked into it and debunked it the next day and Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, patted Cooper on the back for debunking the myth. Actually, I'd like to see more lie debunking by the mainstream media, but didn't we know that it was hogwash when we heard it? Do we actually believe that it cost $200 million a day for a Presidential trip? The story said that thirty-four U.S. warships were "standing off the coast of India" to protect the President. Are you kidding? I spent twenty years in the Navy and not once did we EVER send a single ship to protect a President, and they visited areas where we were close enough to do that. The FACT IS, our admiral would have laughed in the President's face if he got a request like that. THE NAVY'S MISSION IS NOT TO PROTECT THE PRESIDENT - IT IS TO PROTECT AMERICA!! In fact, a Pentagon spokesman said just that, "it's laughable." The Secret Service protects the President.

The story had other, just as outrageous, lies; such as 800 hotel rooms booked for the entourage in hotels that only had 200 or so rooms, nearly an entire air force following in tow, and other such innuendo to disparage Obama. Owens asked, "Where does this stuff come from?" acting incredulous. "This comes from the Right Wing," he said, as if the "Right Wing" wasn't his wing. He seemed genuinely unaware of what Fox News, Drudge, Limbaugh say on a daily basis, even when he eventually, in a few days or a week, picks up on the same subjects and the same points of views they discuss and spews it from his show. The "Muslim Mosque" that he was "sensitive to" and against and he completely ignored the Constitution, the "Koran book burning" "that he understood," the "two Presidents" that he thought "might work," "the British compulsory work plan for the lazy unemployed" he "supported" and the Sarah Palin "Presidency" that he thinks "might work" are all Right-Wing sponsored rubbish. I'm sure that he'll say, "I didn't say that" or "that's not the impression I gave," but he did. He pretends to be moderate, "looking at both sides of an issue," while he spreads the Right-Wing propaganda to his legions with a "soft touch." Of course all the while he's claiming "freedom of speech" for anything and everything he says. It's ironic that we've distorted the concept of freedom of speech so much that it now includes our right to knowingly and willingly lie.

I heard the $200 million a day story two weeks ago. I wrote a blog post about it on November 5th. I'm surprised that Owens picked up on it so late or that he picked up on it at all. Well, he reads the New York Times, so he picked it up. It's controversial, so he picked it up. And, since Anderson Cooper debunked it, Owens had no choice except to agree with Cooper. I wonder what train of thought he would have pursued if Cooper hadn't led the way to the truth to start with. But, Owens is not alone. It is a trendy thing to spread untrue hype, especially by email. I've managed to stop many of those rumor and innuendo, disparaging stories of false witness from reaching me by sending them back to the sender with links or references to where the sender can find the truth. I find it curious that those emails stop coming when the lie is debunked. That's not to say, however, that the person stops sending them to other people. I've noticed that those people that I once received those emails from are still sending them to other people, but not to me. Isn't that highly irrational? You'd think that once a viral email is debunked and the truth laid bare, that that simple fact would cause a person to pause before sending it on to others.

I also find it curious on who sends those emails. These are seemingly intelligent, educated people in positions of responsibility; teachers, lawyers, judges, doctors, investigative reporters. The last email disparaging President Obama I received, only a few weeks ago, was about "Subject:  REAL ESTATE SALES TAX TO GO INTO EFFECT 2013 (Part of HC Bill) -- Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it? That’s $3,800 on a $100,000 home etc. When did this happen? It’s in the healthcare bill. Just thought you should know..." Actually, the truth is entirely different, and it can be found here. I sent the email back to everyone it went to, including the teacher who sent it to the person who sent it to me. I debunked the myth in my return email. And, of course, the other part of the healthcare bill story is that it wasn't Obama that wrote the health bill anyway. It was Congress, and if you're really interested in how the insurance industry manipulated the Senate process and the Senators who sold us out, here is the Frontline report on how Obama was backed into a corner on the healthcare bill. The story is called "Obama's Deal," but what I noticed is how much he didn't like the medicine that he was forced to take. It should piss you off at the corrupt Senators who sold out and the insurance companies who bribed them, not Obama.

The funny thing is that I haven't received an email from "that" person since. I did receive another from the "teacher," showing a small boy with a t-shirt that read "The mess in my pants is nothing compared to the mess the Democrats will make in this country if they win Nov. 2." That's funny... and delusional. The facts are that there is overwhelming evidence that Reagan's Supply-Side, voodoo, free market economic ideology led the way to our financial destruction by what our so-called leaders, including President Reagan who started the ball rolling, have been doing for the past 40 years. And, there appear to be only a few in Congress and government who understand the true cause, including President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Barney Frank and Senators Carl Levin and Christopher Dodd, yet these are among the most hated people in the United States; hated because of hyped Right-Wing propaganda. Hated because of Ronn Owens and the wingnuts he follows and their nonsense he spreads. Republicans, as a whole, are more than willing to exploit ignorance of the masses, as is Owens. And, Republicans, as a whole, believe in the ideology, from A to Z, that got us into the mess we're in.

Another, and equally surprising point is that here we have a teacher, teaching our kids at his high school, who sends these lies to everyone when he hasn't a clue about the historical facts of the recession or the truth of allegations he sends in emails. Rather than find and spread the truth, which we might expect from a teacher, he would rather be a false witness. How's that for a teacher? It troubles me. Does it trouble you? I'm not surprised that our children continue to be more ignorant as each year passes in spite of paying more for education. I'm not surprised that the Tea Party leaders were able to exploit the ignorant in this country. It has been happening for years. They don't know any better. And, it is obvious that for the teacher, and those who are mislead, further self-education has stopped, perhaps on graduating from high school or college. Even recreational reading has stopped, apparently, otherwise, it is logical to assume that people at least would educate themselves on current events and would know better. In that regard, Fox News keeps them misinformed.

The scary thing is that we could very easily end up with President Sarah Palin, who said yesterday that she believes she can defeat President Obama. The fact that we had two terms of President Bush is proof enough that voters in this country can be misled over and over again. We too easily believe hype and lies and we elect those who tell them. Before we get to Palin's run for President, I'd like to see Britain's law passed in our country; if you lie to get elected, then you get kicked out immediately. But then, we wouldn't have a single person in office if we did that!

I guess if I had to make up a Christmas list, these items would be on it.

1. If you're going to vote, please, please learn about the person you're voting for. It's not about the person. It's about his or her ideology. Please don't vote for the same ideology that nearly destroyed us. You won't get anything you're voting for if you put those people in power.
2. If you're going to send me an email, make sure you're an honest witness to the truth. Do the research and tell the truth. Don't be a false witness or you will get the email back debunked to the best of my ability.
3. Be honest enough to tell the truth to those who send you distorted truth or lies the truth. Debunk the lies yourself and send them back to sender.
4. Be honest with yourself. If you're following the Right-Wing hype, find out if they're telling you the truth. Research their claims. Figure out, the bottom line, about why you are following it.
5. Read a book or see a documentary that gives a good account of how and why we came to be in the condition we're in, for example, All the Devils are Here, is about the economic collapse and who caused it. The Documentary "Inside Job" is also about the mega-bank crash, who did what, and is also good reporting. Learn about the wars we're in, and what's right and wrong about them and what the obstacles are.

And, on a personal note:
6. Don't buy me "stuff." My closet, drawers, bed-side table, bed-side chair, desk, garage and utility closet are full. I have no place to put the stuff you buy, not even space for a Christmas card. Send me a "Merry Christmas" email or text or call instead.
7. Use the time you were going to spend on shopping for me to take a nap - on me. You'll be refreshed.
8. Use the money you planned for my gift to buy yourself something, like a dinner for two - on me.
9. Have a Merry Christmas. Listen to some Christmas music.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

G.O.P. Obstructionism - Controlling the Bomb

Here we go again. One of the first things Dubya did was tear up our Nuclear Arms Treaties, which in turn let the dogs lose on controlling nuclear material and made the United States less safe. In other words, it became THAT much harder to track nuclear inventories and keep it out of the hands of terrorists and hostile countries. Russia had a mess on its hands because its nuclear material could not be accounted for. Obama wants to solve that problem with a new treaty which is now in Congress for ratification. But, Senator Kyl, Republican from Arizona, is blocking it and so we won't have a treaty during the lame duck session and we probably won't have one next year after Republicans gain more power in Congress. Here's the story, G.O.P. Opposition Dims Hope for Arms Treaty With Russia -

The fact is that not having the treaty makes us LESS safe because we won't know when nuclear material goes missing. The treaty also reduces nuclear arms, which is a GOOD IDEA. As I read the article, Senator Kyl has no good excuse for obstructing approval of the treaty in spite of all the spin the Republicans put on it. It is clear that the only agenda they're following is to make Obama a one-term President, even if doing that makes us less safe. Oh well. I guess if we're going to hell, we just as well do it in a Republican hand basket.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Crabby San Francisco

Today is the first day of Dungeness Crab season, at least near San Francisco. It starts December 1st in the North Bay, which I find odd. Why would about 50 miles matter to a Dungeness Crab? But, apparently the weather matters too, sort of like this year's grape harvests. The warm fall weather, then the sudden rain in October made the wineries rush to get in the grapes. How does that relate to crabs? Apparently it does, here.

I guess it's the warmer water that affects when a crab molts that old shell off and that's causing a delay in opening the season, although the article doesn't spell that out. It says the season is delayed because the crabs haven't "filled out." What really happens is that the new shell they grow comes in at a size or so bigger than their inside body is and it takes a couple of weeks for the crab's body to "fill out" the new shell, and we certainly don't want to buy a puny crab from Safeway!

Does that mean, when we crack open the shell and find a skinny crab inside, we can take it back? At $20 a pound, I may try it. Or, I may just eat chicken.

And another thing. If last season was a record season, bringing in 16.8 million pounds of crabs, why are these things so expensive? They should be a dime a dozen.

I didn't know a crab had to grow into its shell. Is that why Americans are fat? Are we buying clothes too big that we have to grow into? One thing leads to another...thought.


Sunday, November 14, 2010


I'm going to go against my better judgment and obstinate nature. I'm going to buy "Decision Points" in spite of my horror of giving Dubya one more red cent than he already has. But, along with it, I'm also going to buy "Family of Secrets," because I want to know whether Dubya is telling the truth, or whether he's just leading us on again. His image, the gut-intuitive Texas cowboy, born-again Christian was all a ruse, fabricated to exploit the unknowing voter, and so I want to know if he's continuing the lie. And, I want specifics. My curiosity is overwhelming my distaste for buying the book.

Oh. What was I thinking? Of course he's continuing the myth. His ego won't allow deflation. But, that is the common theme, isn't it? Exploiting America. That's what it's all about. That's where the money flows whether we're talking about the Defense Industry, Oil Industry, Banks, Wall Street or Fox News and Tea Party. Money to motivate by what ever trick or scheme possible to get people to act against their own best interests.

I'll buy the book anyway. I'm curious.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fighting Terrorism and Changing Hearts and Minds of the Disaffected

The other day while writing about President Bush's book, "Decision Points," I tried to remember, and searched for, those who performed non-torturous interrogations and who reported on how much more effective interrogations were when methods that cause pain and suffering are not used, techniques such as water-boarding, sleep deprivation, long and painful binding, loud music, and any method that is not respectful and dignified. I had forgotten the names of those I read about back then and I didn't find what I was looking. My memory was refreshed this morning as one of the persons I was looking for was a guest on the radio; Mark Fallon, who is now Senior Vice President of The Soufan Group. Back then, he was in charge of investigating the U.S.S. Cole bombing and was later involved in many interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq and he was outspoken against the interrogation techniques Bush approved. Having his name led me to another professional interrogator that I remember; Ali Soufan, who apparently founded The Soufan Group. Back then, Soufan was a senior FBI Agent in charge of a number of Middle-East counter-terrorist investigations.

When ask by a caller if water-boarding is torture or not, Mark's response was, "it doesn't matter if one legal advisor says it is and another doesn't. What matters is that it doesn't work, and never will work. Water-boarding will never get information that can be trusted and neither will any other inhumane method. The person being interrogated will tell you something, anything, just to get you to stop." He went on to say that the primary goal when dealing with terrorist is to reengage critical thinking, because when they are able to think apart from the terrorist cell-group, they always come around to seeing that terrorism is not the right approach to solving their problems. It is "group-think that sucks them in," he said. Terrorist recruiters use group psychology and mob-power to recruit disaffected people into their cause. He gave examples of the most common things he heard from those he interrogated. Two stood out:

"I expected to be tortured... I was treated with respect and dignity." The prisoner willingly and truthfully responded to questions.

"I tried to place the bomb in a place that would cause the least damage and injury."

These, or similar expressions, he said gave him insight on changing the mind of the person he was questioning and getting them to divulge important and very useful information. His many years of experience in the Middle-East, he said, suggested to him that using brute military force on poverty stricken people and countries will not work. It only causes disaffected people to be more inclined to be drawn to group (mob) anti-American beliefs. It helps, not hinders, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. He claimed, as well, that Islam-o-phobia, such as opposing the New York Mosque and burning the Koran, hurt America's cause fighting terrorism more than helping it. I already knew that.

He went on to say that Bush claimed in his book that using those extreme techniques obtained information that thwarted the attempt to bomb London's subway, The Tube. The British, however, dispute that claim, saying that the information that led to thwarting that attempt did not come from the United States. In fact, Fallon said that he knew of no information coming from using techniques that cause pain and suffering that was useful. He should know. He was on the inside.

At the end of World War II, the United States prosecuted Japanese military leaders for war crimes for using the very same interrogation methods that Bush approved and which he continues to be proud of. The Geneva Conventions of 1949, treaties to which the United States agreed to, outlaws methods that cause pain and suffering and it is specific to humanitarian treatment of prisoners. Those terms came directly from the war crime trials conducted in Germany and Japan. Under its terms, President G. W. Bush would be a war criminal, and that doesn't consider the tens of thousands of Iraqis that died because of the war.

It is also ironic that while Rudi Giuliani was stumping for President and shouting out his support for torture, in private he hired Ali Soufan as Chief Operations Officer of the International Division of Giuliani Security and Safety, LLC and that Soufan expanded the "global reach" of Giuliani's company. It is hypocrisy to defend inhumane methods in public while in private hiring someone who opposes them. I haven't heard a single Republican oppose using the inhumane interrogation methods that Bush approved. Is there anything Republicans say and do that can be believed or trusted?

The most important point that I took away from listening to Mr. Fallon was that mob thinking, group thinking, destroys our ability to think rationally. The mob lashing out against the Mosque was a perfect example. The foolish preacher in Florida who would burn the Koran was a perfect example. Both cases are examples where Republican politicians and Right-Wing pundits took advantage of irrational fear and they instigated and agitated mob and group mentality. We really need to think before we hop on a wagon, especially a hateful one. Actually, if we think at all, we would loudly speak out against these things.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Well... That's Life

This guy was excused from jury duty when he said he was a childhood friend of Jeffrey Dahmer. Maybe he should have kept quiet?

This kind thief gave it all back to his homeless victim. There ya' go!

He probably should have used a better get-away car. He took a taxi...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bite the Bullet, Baby - Our Bill is Here

The way I look at it, we've received our bill. The President's Deficit Commission put it together, and payments start now, today. There is no "pay-by date." And, as we've said all along, it falls on our children and grandchildren and maybe their children. In fact, the bill will take at least twenty-seven years to pay until we can balance the budget, and that doesn't count any natural disasters we'll pay for before 2037. The bill is due; Deficit Panel's Leaders Push Cuts.

What I like about it is that nothing is sacred. It recommends sweeping cuts in everything, from Defense to Social Security. It probably surprises many that I would like it because, if my past blogs are any indication, it should be obvious that I'm for the little guy. Yep, that is true. But, this report targets everyone, rich and poor, and in regards to those sacred programs, such as Social Security, it leans toward benefiting the poor more than the rich. It is clear, though, that the panel couldn't quite bring itself to suggest that the rich should pay more. It still has its tax cuts, in the form of lower tax rates, for the rich and corporations. I have no sympathy for the rich. I haven't seen any indication that they are willing to pay their dues. I would challenge those lower tax rates for the rich.

But, the bill represents our extravagance for fifty years, from the expensive and foolish Vietnam War; the Space Race; the Arms Race; corporate subsidies; deregulation; Bush's two wars; Bush's tax cuts; fifty years of hyped, inflated Defense spending; fear generated, hyped and inflated new Homeland Security Department that did not replace an already inefficient national security apparatus, such as the CIA and FBI; and years and years of quid pro quo earmarks.

There are a few things I would argue with, though. For example, I would argue against eliminating the deduction for interest paid on home purchases. That little nuance shoots down home-ownership for many. Without that deduction, less will be able to afford homes. But, again, I would limit deductions to those earning lower incomes. Poorer people should be able to deduct the expenses on things necessary for life just like a business deducts expenses for doing business; expenses for shelter, food, transportation, medical and dental care, etc., the things we need to live in the society we've created. I hope that nuance is in the bill. I have no objection to sharing the burden equally, but I do object to too much burden on those who can't pay.

One thing for sure. We need to get used to high unemployment. Perhaps as high as 15% to 20%. These cuts take away jobs. That means welfare of some kind and paying for the homeless at the national or local levels. I hate to see that, but... Get used to it.

Get used to living without personal credit and debt, too. If our government can't live with debt, it should be obvious that we can't either. That is especially true if that safety net, Social Security, is cut. Our children and their children can't afford to be in debt when they turn the new retirement age of 68 or 69 and expect a livable retirement. They should be saving, not going into debt. Living without credit is a culture change and it will be difficult to accept.

The bill is due. We each received a copy in a semi-truck. It didn't fit in our mailbox. Pay up, baby.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crucifying the Victims

We go to great lengths to imagine ourselves as victims, and we don't give up on that idea come hell or high water. Imagining that we are victims makes us do things we wouldn't normally do. It makes us act without compassion and without thought. We overlook injustices. We behave irrationally. There is real contradiction in our logic, too, when we describe how we are victimized and rationalize our response. Our response is to penalize and crucify the object of our scorn, both the bad and the good or innocent, anyone who fits our imagined description of bad guys. It makes us crucify true victims. For example, take some of the explanations President Bush is giving for his actions; he's on tour to promote his book, "Decision Point." His explanation for invading Iraq was "to protect America from weapons of mass destruction (WMD)" and "those Iraqi terrorists" and he makes that statement in the same paragraph where he says he was "sickened" when WMD were not found. And we know that there were no Al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq until after we invaded and opened the door for them. You would think, like Chris Mathews says, that he would now see how illogical it is to say that he "was protecting America" in the same paragraph where he admits that there was no WMD. What was he protecting America from? Imaginary weapons? Yet, he still claims that he was. The illogical logic reminds one of the definition of a psychopath; a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with abnormally immoral conduct despite an ability to appear normal. In fact, Bush lost, or never had, the ability to step back and objectively evaluate data, or even to insist on objective data about Iraq. Actually, he never had that ability and it is because of his complete lack of compassion. He is totally self-absorbed. He was and still is incapable of seeing the destruction he caused in Iraq. I knew he totally lacked compassion and that he was totally self-absorbed when he was running for President in 1999.

Bush said, blatantly, that he ordered water-boarding, "because his lawyers said it was okay." "Use 'em," he said when he was told that extreme interrogation methods were legal. A person who has compassion and empathy for fellow humans would hesitate. He would ask the questions that need asking. He would listen to experts and military leaders, such as Colin Powell who said "it's a bad idea. It puts our troops in danger when we don't follow the Geneva Convention (that outlaws torture)." But, Bush asked no questions. He got no advice beforehand. "Use 'em," he said. "It worked," he said. What Bush doesn't know, even after the fact when more facts are known, is whether normal, less extreme interrogation techniques would have worked just as well or even better. There is evidence that normal techniques did work, and would have in all cases. Back then, there were reports from experienced interrogators, who did not agree with and did not use torture, that indicated that they got just as much, if not more, and better information by using normal techniques. But, we refused to listen to those professionals too, even though they were professionals, because we were victims and we knew better and we wanted vengeance. Here's Bush's interview with the Washington Post. It's interesting.

It is a group thing, because if we disagree with the common beliefs of our group, we would be disagreeing with our friends, neighbors and family who do agree. Everybody yelled, "Yeah! Torture the rag-heads," and we did. We follow the majority's opinion of those around us whether we would agree with the opinion or not if we were not associated with our group. Group pressure sucks us in. We're afraid to object or disagree when we're with our group. We are nice and comfortable being a victim along with our buddies. And, we tortured the innocent along with the guilty without distinction.

The same self victimization effects our ideas on almost every important issue. The other day, I listened to Ronn Owens, our local Right-Winger Talk Show Host, disparage the unemployed. He was discussing whether England's compulsory labor plan to force the unemployed to work without pay for a month would work in America. He agreed with the plan. The plan is proposed by the new conservative government that recently won in Britain's national elections. It follows the conservative idea that the unemployed are "milking the system," are in a "cycle of dependency," are "lazy" and "laggards." I hear the same thoughts expressed by conservatives in the group I associate with. An overwhelming number of callers to Owen's program expressed the same idea. "They're lazy bums!" most said, even though a few callers called to tell their own stories; in tears they explained of not being able to find a job, of how embarrassing it is getting food for their children from the local food charity and of being in despair that they are at the end of their rope. Poverty, welfare or homelessness are in their future. Even after those heart breaking stories, subsequent callers shouted, "lazy bums!" At no time did an unemployed caller say, "I'm milking the system." At no time did I hear a caller actually site evidence or a reference that proved that the unemployed are "lazy bums." Owens and all of those callers who said that are guessing; they have no evidence of it. Neither does anyone else.

It's sad that as we approach Christmas and as our economy actually needs many more people to shop this Christmas and we need much more money circulating in our communities that we have a situation in Congress where many of the unemployed will go without because our Congress believes we are victims. We would rather crucify the unemployed and innocent because of some imagined offense against us. This article, Dems Lowering Expectations for the Lame Duck Session - Blog - OpenCongress, says that since there is little "interest" for passing an extension of unemployment benefits through Congress that it will not be brought up in the lame duck session. In the time of greatest need of the unemployed and our economy, Congress is scaling back. There is a complete lack of compassion when we're a victim, real or imagined.

I suppose that there are a few unemployed who could be milking the system. But, I don't believe they would do it for long, if they do it at all, or that the overwhelming majority do. I haven't observed too many lazy people in America or, for that matter, in those other countries in the world that I've had the good fortune to visit at one time or another in my life. In fact, I've seen people do some of the lowest, filthiest, demeaning, belittling, laborious jobs that I would never think of doing myself, yet they did them; seemingly without complaint and without any display of being lazy. 

As a victim, we also are blinded to the side effects of our actions. We failed to see the uproar of world opinion when we tortured only a few. In fact, the side effect of using torture proved Osama bin Laden's point that we are a ruthless people. World opinion changed from respect for America to one questioning whether America was an imperious hegemonic country or not. Where at one time America was thought to be compassionate, we began to be seen as completely lacking compassion. We are blind to side effects of our policies at home, too, when we believe we are victims.

When I hear of the prevalent attitude against helping the unemployed, I also think of the street corner beggar, the guy trying to wash my car windshield, the guy wanting to paint my house number on my curb and the homeless. The growing homelessness is a side effect of refusing to help the unemployed. The ongoing argument in the Bay Area is whether to give the homeless cash or whether to give them in-kind services and goods; i.e., stuff. The prevailing thought is that if we give them cash, they will buy alcohol and get drunk, but if we give them services and goods; a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, they will be forced to "come back" into society using the stuff we give them. It's as if all of them, 100%, are alcoholics. Maybe most are, but we don't know how many are. And, we refuse to help them with the disease; we would rather they suffer abstinence alone. In either case, it's up to the homeless to make their own way back from despair. There is no "system" to help them come back. We do not help them learn ways to survive. We've done our part, we think, by giving them cash or stuff and we step back to see if they prove our point that they're lazy laggards and are only milking the system and victimizing us by staying homeless.

My wife and I got to know, as well as we could know, a homeless guy several years ago who, at one time, stood at the end of the 580 Center Street exit begging for handouts and later washed windshields at a gas station. I gave him a five dollar bill about every other week for a while until he no longer stood at the exit. A few months later, at my wife's suggestion - to get a windshield wash from a homeless guy, I stopped at the World Gas Station in Hayward. It was same guy that stood on the highway exit. I recognized him and, surprisingly, he recognized me.

"Hey," he said, "you gave me a five a couple of times at Center Street." he said. "I'll give you a free wash," he said. Imagine that! A homeless guy giving a free windshield wash!

I declined the "free," but accepted the wash. "My wife told me to stop here to get my windshield cleaned," I told him. He beamed at being remembered, like a kid getting a compliment; a smile from ear to ear. After I pulled into a parking space where we could talk. It was clear to me that he was not well educated and he didn't clearly understand how he became homeless or what he did that was so wrong that landed him and his family in the circumstances they were in. He had been, however, functional in society. From his ramblings, I pieced together his story. His name was Ken.

He was a carpenter who injured his hand on the job and the employer denied that the injury occurred on the job which in turn caused his workman's comp and unemployment claims to be denied. He used his meager savings for medical expenses. His union couldn't find work for him because, he claimed, word had gotten out that no employer would hire a person who filed for workman's comp. His union membership lapsed from non-payment. He was black-listed. He worked in the underground job market at odd jobs he could find for a while and then his wife lost her waitress job because of knee pain. They lost their home. He sold his carpentry tools; his livelihood. The state put his wife and kids in a homeless shelter, but the small two-room apartment the state furnished was too small for four people, so he took up sleeping where the homeless gathered in wooded areas around Castro Valley and Hayward and he visited his family daily if he could. The state, then, moved his wife and kids to another community without him knowing about it and out of his area and ability to see them. It took him weeks and miles of walking to find a state office that could tell him where they were, and even then he had to argue that he was the husband and father since he had no means of identifying himself to prove that he should be given private information about them. At the time we talked, he had been homeless for four years. The last thing, he said, was that his raggedy tent and what little belongings he had were stolen by other homeless from where he slept each night; in a small clearing beside the Castro Valley Creek. "I'm nobody," he said, in a tone that implied everything "nobody" could mean. He had nothing except for what he wore and nobody knew him. He had dropped out of every state and government system and off the edge of the Earth. I gave him ten dollars for the wash.

I saw him several more times and I gave him the phone number to Fresh Start, a charity I know about, and I offered to take him there. But, I don't believe he called them, at least at that time, and he refused my help to drive him. "Don't want to bother you that much," he said. He didn't want my help. After a while, he didn't show up at the gas station anymore. Chris learned that he worked occasionally at the Salvation Army in Hayward. She believes he had mental problems, and I don't doubt that. But, he did work and he needed much more help than my piddly ten dollars or whatever he earned from washing windows. He needed government sponsored system help.

In the midst of remembering Ken's story, I ran across this heart warming article about lending a helping hand, The Kindness of a Stranger that Still Resonates, during the Great Depression when there was no unemployment program, or any other social safety net for that matter. Back then, the unfortunate had nothing and no where to go, like Ken. All of the unemployed, 25 to 30% of the working population in those days, would have been considered lazy beggars by today's prevalent attitude. In this story, simple, anonymous kindnesses went a long way and may have been the one thing that turned the tide for those in need.

Please note that those in the story hesitated to ask and delayed asking for help as long as they could. “I waited two weeks because I didn’t want to apply for unemployment,” Mr. Macey, 25, said (in the story). “It’s embarrassing.” These are not signs, in my opinion, of people "milking the system." The story highlights the stigma attached to asking for help or charity. I don't see "lazy laggards" in this story. I see people who need systematic help. I also don't see people who need to be forced into a "compulsory labor" system just because of the imagined wrongs we believe, but can't prove, that they do to us. The "system" probably does need to be redesigned for more support, not less, to find better jobs faster as well as incentives for employers. But, in the meantime, we've got the system we've got and I don't see that the unemployed are guilty of doing us harm. They are not making us victims. Most, a huge majority, are innocent and probably trapped by an inefficient system. Why should we deny millions of that one thing, perhaps a single check, that may turn the tide for them? We haven't done enough, yet. I don't know when the time will come when we can say we've done enough. A safety net for unfortunate job loss is crucial, or else we risk having many more Kens. More Kens cost more than helping the unemployed because Ken has much more distance to come back to society and we must provide more support to help him come back. I called all of my congressional representatives a few hours ago to make unemployment a priority during the lame duck congress. I hope they pass a bill that Obama will sign to help them.

Oh well, today is a new day and we have another thing that we claim to be victims of; today the focus is on healthcare. There are 60 million, according to the radio today, more than we thought, who are uninsured. But, "kill the bill" is what we hear. It doesn't matter that the hype, exaggeration and distortion is imagined and false; the prevalent thought is that we are victims of this law. All who want to really know should check out this article and follow the links on life expectancy and infant mortality cited in the article, or look those statistics up here. Surely we can come to the same conclusion, you think? Are those who desperately need help the bad guys or is it our system that both caused their misfortune and refuses to provide support?

It's Christmas time. Time for giving. Or, is it just the thought that counts?


Sunday, November 7, 2010


Boy, those were the good old days, back in 2005 when Republicans were in control. Don't you think so? Those were the days before the Democrat 2006 takeover when Republicans could get just about anything they wanted through the House and Senate. And, indeed they did. Take the 2005 Energy Policy Act, enacted under Dubya, Cheney and the Republican Congress. That act had a big intentional loophole, known as the Halliburton Loophole. In fact, there is enough information about that loophole to suggest that the only reason the act was passed and signed at all was because the oil and natural gas corporations wanted that loophole. In fact, I would bet my social security check that the loophole was specifically requested in that secret Cheney-Energy Corporation meeting that Cheney refused to disclose. Remember that meeting? Ah, yea, those were the good old days. The loophole exempts oil production companies from having to comply with environmental safety laws when drilling for oil and natural gas.

Well, natural gas is a big deal and it has been the latest buzz since President Obama began running for president way back in 2007. "Drill-baby-drill," they said. T Boone Pickens made all of those ads to stop paying Saudi Arabia $700 billion a year by converting all long-haul semi trucks from diesel to natural gas. The United States, it turned out, had a super abundance of natural gas. A HUGE NATURAL GAS RESERVE! In fact, he sold me on the deal, too. I was ready and willing to be his spokesman. "Yeah! Stop paying Saudi Arabia for oil. Use our own natural gas!" Even Obama got on that band wagon. Ha! I should have known that there was a catch. There is always a Republican catch.

It was also back in the good old days that President Bush had those signing statements. Remember those? It turned out that even though Congress passed a law, that a President could just attach a little signing statement to his signature saying how the President "interpreted" the law, and Bush did. He instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to overlook and rubber stamp many oil and gas company drilling requests. But, the U.S. Minerals Management Service, by a Bush order, was already looking the other way and the signing statement just reinforced what it was already doing. And so, we got the BP Gulf oil disaster, which, by the way, isn't over yet - since it was discovered only a few days ago that a large area of ocean floor coral has died. We don't know everything, yet, it turns out.

But, back to natural gas and that Halliburton Loophole that exempts oil and gas companies from EPA rules. They can drill for natural gas anyplace, anytime. It turns out all of those natural gas reserves that we have is mostly contained in solid plates of shale rock. And, it turns out that to get the natural gas out of the shale, the shale must be broken up, or fractured into cracks and crevasses to release the gas. And, it turns out that "they," especially Halliburton, have developed a technique called Hydraulic Fracturing, "Fracking" for short, that breaks up the shale that releases the gas. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of fresh water into the shale under tons of pressure to fracture the shale.

Whoops. Here we are again. The "usual" suspects are at it again. It turns out that Fracking uses millions of gallons of your very valuable drinking and irrigation water and when that water recycles back into the ground water supply, through those underground seeps back to your city's water supply or your well water or your livestock watering trough, such as into those artesian wells for Owensville, Indiana or into the Wabash or Ohio rivers ground water system that supplies your personal drinking well, (I have friends and family I care for in that area - so I always mention it) it will contain highly toxic minerals and methane. The water cannot be used for drinking anymore. It will kill you. And, it will burn!

Well, according to this New York Times article, the gas companies are not "convinced" that they are the problem. "The jury is not in," they say. But, I guess if you had water suitable for drinking one day, and the next day your water burned and tasted like crap; looked foggy, yellow or muddy; and tests showed that it was full of toxic chemicals, and the only thing that could have caused it was a Fracking drilling rig within ten or twenty miles, then I guess that would be proof enough. In fact, the article says that many people are REALLY ANGRY about being fracked.

All of this, of course, goes back to philosophy, or more precisely, Republican philosophy. I guess if you believe the "drill-baby-drill" philosophy and be damned to any environmental impact, then the Republican philosophy is right up your alley. But, I guess if your water is burning, maybe you will change your mind. I wonder if you'll change your mind if your neighbor's water is burning? Or if your neighboring state's water is burning? Would you vote Republican in your state, say California, if you knew that your vote could cause water to burn in Lafayette or Owensville, Indiana or Gainesville, Georgia? (I have loved ones there too) Actually, it's too late to change your mind after your or your loved ones' water is burning. You've been Fracked!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dismantling the Government

It seems to me that two reports are a bit late. Perhaps if they had come out a little earlier in the election, the election would have turned out different. Or, at least I would have hoped that. Maybe not. The first report was the "Jobs Report," which said that 159,000 new jobs were created last month, October. Under the circumstances, that was good. The second report, Recap of Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Results, from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), says the deficit turned a corner in 2010; the deficit in 2010 was actually less than 2009. What caught my eye was this sentence: "The large deficits in 2009 and 2010 reflect a combination of factors: an imbalance between revenues and spending that predates the recent recession,..." lower revenues (taxes) and more spending "...associated with...economic conditions,..." and government the cost of federal policies responding to economic conditions.  

The phrase that stood out was "predates the recent recession." In other words, it was President Bush's tax cut, wars and his non-negotiable Pharmaceutical Drug Plan that caused the imbalance of revenues and spending; i.e., taxes were too low and his spending was too high. A chart in the report, "Receipts and Outlays as a Percent of GDP," clearly shows that starting about 1992 and through 2000, while President Clinton was in office, spending was going down and revenues were up. We had a surplus. The fact that spending was going down indicates that government was getting smaller, the very thing that the Tea Party wants. That same chart shows that around 2002, just after President Bush took office, this trend was reversed; spending started up and revenues started down. In other words, government started getting bigger and taxes were cut. Well, Bush said, "it's the peoples' money, and they should have it instead of the government..." In hindsight, now we know that we could have used the surplus to defeat the recession. But, as Bush says in his book about the last few months in office, "...he felt like he was on a ship with nobody at the helm..." No kidding! In fact, the chart shows that nobody was at the helm through his entire presidency since "deficits didn't matter," as Vice President Cheney said. Ha. I guess they do matter!

There were other things that happened in the 1990s that hurt America, however. NAFTA was passed that released the flood gates for jobs to go to Mexico and other countries. Some companies moved manufacturing to Mexico before the ink was dry on Clinton's signature. This agreement was actually started under and promoted by President G. H. Bush (Bush I), and signed by President Clinton in 1994 after Newt Gingrich led the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. But, there was a long history behind NAFTA; a long period of teaching a philosophy that was being sold to everyone, so it's no surprise that Clinton signed it. He had been sold on the philosophy as everyone else had, including me. Basically, the philosophy was "free trade, open markets and self-regulated markets would provide economic equality to the world." It is a Libertarian idea. It is an "economically liberal" idea. It's funny that an individual can be a Libertarian in favor of "free, unrestrained capitalism" and be an "economic liberal," which is to say that on economic and market matters, they are in favor of benevolent favoritism to corporations. They are, in fact, in favor of "bailouts" because bailouts prop up corporations and markets. Bailouts are the same as "subsidies" to oil companies and banks; always supported by Republicans. Deregulation is the same as a "bailout," since deregulation is a form of subsidy for an industry. Deregulation in in fact a "gift" that says you can do anything you want with your corporation including scam the public and take advantage of consumers. There are no limits and there is no consumer protection in deregulation.

Practically all financial and economic experts who have advised or held offices under Presidents or served in some form or another in the Federal Reserve Banking System for the past 30-40 years are libertarian and Republican leaning, including Timothy Geithner (Fed Reserve Bank, NY under Bush II and Obama's Treasury), Robert Rubin (Clinton's Treasury), Larry Summers (Reagan and Obama advisor), Ben Bernanke (Fed Chair Bush II and Obama) and Alan Greenspan (Advisor to Nixon, Ford and Reagan, Fed Chairman under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II). It is these guys who helped sell us the idea that markets should be unrestrained, without regulation and without consumer protections and, in fact, these guys have hurt America by selling us those ideas. Ironically, it is these very same ideas that the Tea Party/Republican movement believes in and the same ideas that most of those that were elected in the Republican 2010 takeover believe in. So, you may have voted against President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or whoever, in the 2010 election, but you really voted for the same experts that we've always had, so in effect, nothing has changed from the time President Reagan was in office.

In the 1990s while Alan Greenspan was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mexico had a significant economic crisis that threatened the world economy. Greenspan, Rubin and others convinced President Clinton to bail out Mexico by giving it $20 billion dollars. What this says is that the people who claim to believe in self-regulation don't believe it when the crap hits the fan, but they'll let the problem grow until it cannot be controlled except by bailout. It was also in the 1990s that the Dot-Com bubble began to rise and the Federal Reserve had a chance to "temper" what Alan Greenspan called "irrational exuberance." But, he didn't. He didn't do anything because he believed that the market would self regulate. It did self regulate in 2000 when a small market crash happened when President Bush took office. But, that 2000 crash didn't threaten the world economy so it was allowed to happen without a bailout. While that small crash was happening, another bubble was already forming that took over the market; the monetary, banking bubble. While jobs were being lost in the tech sector, banks were hiring. The banking bubble started in 1998, when Senator Phil Gramm, a Republican, led a successful effort to deregulate the banks that unleashed the Banking Dogs. All banks were free to gamble in the markets after that and they were picking up steam by 2000. Everything was hunky-dory to you and me, since all of this was hidden to you and me. We really didn't see much of a change from the outside looking in. People like Paul Krugman probably saw it, as did those above. Paul Krugman is probably a rare exception to the normal economist. He's an admitted liberal. He says "do something about uncontrolled markets." He says "they're dangerous!" He agrees with a lot of what I've been reading over the past 10-15 years, since Gingrich's time, when I began to take an interest in the radical movement in America.

Another thing the chart shows is how wrong the Republicans are about Dubya. They now claim that he really wasn't a Reagan "small government" President. They are disappointed in him. In fact, the chart shows that he was a Reagan President. He kept the same deficit levels that Reagan and his dad did. Neither Reagan, Bush I or Bush II really believed in small governments, and neither does the Republican Party of today. It was only President Clinton who actually did something about deficits and made government smaller. Ironically, it is President Obama and those others the Republicans like to hate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who are headed in the same direction as President Clinton did. It is Obama, Pelosi and Reid who have the ideas that people say the believe, but vote against.

Well, we've got what we have. Like Alan Greenspan, who finally saw the light when he testified to Congress that he "was mistaken" about market self-regulation in 2008, Ben Bernanke, also saw the light in 2008 and is trying to control deflation, inflation and the market and he is now under attack. Ron Paul, famous for his Libertarian beliefs, is going to be Chairman of the Monetary Policy Sub-committee, and he says, "I think they're way too independent. They just shouldn't have this power. Up until recently it has been modest but now it's totally out of control." Paul is going to change The Fed! I am afraid of him doing that. The funny thing is that "Up until recently" was when President Bush and Alan Greenspan were in control, when the housing bubble was allowed to happen and deficits were okay. Now that Bernanke is trying to put some controls on the market, to bring it back to its senses, the Fed is suddenly "totally out of control!" Like father, like son, Rand Paul, Republican Representative from Kentucky and voted into office by the Tea Party, believes the same thing his father does; let the market dogs lose.

I do not know if Ben Bernanke is right in his latest move to inject a lot of money into the market by buying government bonds. It seems very complicated to me. From what I've read, it could be dangerous especially if "fiscal policy" doesn't follow, meaning that if the government doesn't also stimulate the economy by helping businesses and consumers, Bernanke's move could backfire. But, I would still rather have highly educated economists and financial experts running the Federal Reserve than Ron Paul, a medical doctor from Texas. I doubt that he knows anything about the economy. I have a problem with any politician running anything that requires a doctorate level education in a field of specialization. I can read a chart, however, and I can see the effects of bad ideology, and if there's anything the chart in the report says, it says that Reagan, Bush I and Bush II had bad ideas on running the government. And, we are getting the same bad ideas again with the Republican takeover. And, from what they say, they intend to take over the Presidency and the Senate. Their results won't be any different than the last time they were in control.

There is no doubt in my mind that voters voted against their own best interest on November 2nd. They want the deficit to go down, but Republicans can't do that with the ideology they believe. They want the healthcare reform repealed, but that reform reduces the deficit, especially the pharmacy drug plan paid by the government. We will go back to Bush's very expensive pharmacy plan and Bush's deficit. In fact, it seems the only reason for the Republican takeover was the dislike for Obama and Pelosi, and for no other reason, in spite of the fact that they are doing what the voters say they want. Dick Army led the revolt for corporations and the Tea Party bought it. Tea Party members were really not voting for what they thought they were. Sadly, the Republicans will take aim at a number of programs, such as Social Security, and may win the battle of once and for all in killing them. They seem intent on doing that. I don't believe anyone will be happy with what they kill. They seem intent of dismantling the government.

I don't think I have revised history too much. I primarily depended on my memory of what I've read and learned over the past years. I did not attempt to verify anything by referring back to articles or books that I've read.