Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye Irene

It was a storm we rarely get
And not a storm we will forget.
With gusting winds beyond belief
And bands of rain with no relief.

We weathered in and hunkered down
As nature flared her fury's gown.

Then came the calm or so it seemed
But light of day beset a scream.
The living force from some was gone
Their lives dispatched by Monday's dawn.

We weathered in and hunkered down
As nature flared her fury's gown.

With power gone and road ways too
Irene's Ill wind did bite and chew.
She took her time and swallowed whole
Both homes and towns; a wrenching toll.

We weathered in and hunkered down
As nature flared her fury's gown.

Resilience is the path for now
As many build again somehow.
There is one thing we must all do:
It's helping many start anew.

We weathered in and hunkered down
As nature flared her fury's gown.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Regional Devestation

Good Day All,

Still no power in my area. I am unable to post daily missives. The rumor is that it will be at least a week before 90% of the region is restored onto the power grid.

The hurricane was filled with sound and fury.  Nearby rivers and streams were eight to ten feet above flood stage. Roads have been washed out; hundreds of trees block roads and driveways and it will take months if not years to repair the major damage.

The pelting rainstorm arrived around eleven at night so there was no visual experience of its onset. There was however the sound. A strong sound that announced its presence with a howling wind and pelting rain against the windows and the house siding. You could not only hear it you could feel it.

Shortly thereafter I was lulled into a sleep that sustained until first light. By then the circulating wind and rains bands of hurricane Irene were in full force and seeing the storm for the first time gave it an added dimension.

Late in the afternoon the storm waned. Winds still gusted into the rocks and rills of Rifton where I live, but the rain had passed. Debris was everywhere; mostly dead twigs an branches that the winds prodded and pruned from the trees. Green leaves from the oaks and maples, festooned the roads, lawns and open meadows of my rural community. It was the confetti of an ill wind.

I went out to inspect. Many roads were blocked by fallen trees. I have video and pictures which I will post when I can.

My home and family are just inconvenienced, so many of my friends and neighbors have lost homes, cars and personal possessions. The storm surge here came after the storm had passed and the mountain streams funneled the rain runoff into small streams and tributaries. All of them became a torrent of destruction to the valley and hollows below.

I will post again when I can.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Post and Power

Hi Everyone,

I’m expecting a power outage because of Hurricane Irene so if you do not see a new post on this blog Monday morning it will be because the power is out.

I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with some photos and observations of storm.

Be well,


Friday, August 26, 2011


Anticipation is one of those emotions that excites, inhibits, invites, implores, expects and delights all of us from the time we are children to the time we finish what we came to this earth to do.

What has engendered anticipation in my mind is the approaching ill wind of hurricane Irene.

I am playing the role of observer. I’m observing what my neighbors are anticipating and preparing for as the hurricane approaches little used territory for the term of hurricane. I am observing what the New York local media is presenting to viewers and the level of anticipated danger.

In history there have been a few storms of power that have impacted the New York/New England terrain, but not the kind category five storm that the south and the gulf coast has experienced or are used too.

We are novices here in the northeast except for those souls who are both, old enough to remember the physical devastation of the hurricane in 1938 or who are students of history and have read the pathology of the not-named hurricane in 1938.

 (Please check the previous post for a brief synopsis of its history.)

Anticipation is a gripping vice that starts in your solar plexus and moves into your mind and engenders all sorts of potential possibilities.

Each of us reacts differently to perceived oncoming danger. Fear, excitement, and complacency are a few of the reactions. Fear is understood, so is excitement, but complacency has always been the fodder of tragedy and the lamentations of self-reprisal when destruction, death and despair are basking in the aftermath light of common sunshine.

To my friends on the east coast. Be prepared. Be smart. Be aware and be loved and loving for you are where you have chosen to be.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene and 1938

Hurricane Irene is seemingly heading up the east coast and if it holds a specific path it could slam straight into Long Island, New York. It happened once before.

Whenever nature explodes in an aberrational fury, we quickly reestablish awe for her power and acknowledge respect for a force we cannot totally understand or appreciate. Today we have satellite technology that warns us of pending danger. Not so back in 1938.

On September 21st, that year forecasters knew there was a hurricane out there, but figured it would blow itself out.
The North Atlantic was under a high-pressure plateau and the then nameless hurricane was being squeezed toward the Northeast.

By two O'clock in the afternoon the Atlantic City Board walk was gone. Then a 40-foot wall of water, a tidal surge, hit Long Island's south shore with such impact it registered on a seismograph in Alaska.

Mansions disappeared. Towns collapsed. Boats splintered. It was the same throughout New England. All told, 63 thousand lost their homes. Nearly 18-hundred were injured. 700 died.

Communications were down. Newspapers did not learn of the destruction for days.

America had suffered a disaster greater than the Chicago Fire or the San Francisco earthquake, but what most people knew was that Hitler had seized Czechoslovakia that same day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eastern Earthquake

Most people think the big quakes happen out west, particularly in California, but history says different.

The biggest quake ever experienced in the continental United States happened during the winter months of 1811. A quake estimated at measuring 8.6 on the Richter scale rumbled through an area 150 miles long and 50 miles wide from New Madrid, Missouri.

The quake was so powerful the ground sank 12 feet in some areas and for a short time it reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.

The tectonic shock wave rumbled all the way to Washington D.C. where bells rang in church steeples from the ground shaking and clocks were supposedly stopped in New Orleans.

150 years ago the country was relatively unpopulated and there was little damage and few injuries. If a quake, that large, were to happen today the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it could cause 50-billion dollars in damage and probably kill thousands of people.

The earthquake in the east experienced yesterday was tiny compared to the big one of 1811, but we should not be complacent and think the east is invulnerable.

The underground geology in the east, with its tight formations, would shake more violently in a big quake than those that occur in the west. Let us hope not, but also let us be prepared.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial

The Reverend Martin Luther King’s memorial in Washington, D.C. is scheduled to open officially next weekend. Yesterday it opened to the public.

It is powerful in its image pulled from the marble block.

The King memorial is the only major structure on the national mall that does not honor a president.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

©1995, 2009 Rolland G. Smith

I had a dream the other night
And Martin Luther King was there.
He spoke in tones befit the wise
And asked me if I’d share,
The news of how his dream came out,
Since he had been away.

I told him times had changed somewhat
But the dream was still a dream
And somewhere in these many years
Was progress, or so it seemed.
Tell me, he said, what has happened,
Since he had been away.

We’ve legislated out the hate,
I said, but laws can’t touch the mind,
If bias reeks within the heart
There cannot be a human - kind.
It’s still not true, he said,
For he had been away.

And then he said, where he is now,
There is no ONE color bright,
Not black or white, yellow or brown.
There is only a loving light.
It’s the truth I lived, and live,
He said, as he went away.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fibber and McGee

Under the aegis of full disclosure I am an animal lover.

I knew it before this past weekend, because we have two puppies in our household. McGee who is a female 15 months old and Fibber a male rescue Yorkshire terrier about five months old.

They are wonderful together and truly increase our family.

On Friday Fibber developed a high fever and we took him to the vet and subsequently to the animal hospital. He was there until yesterday afternoon.

I was a wreck taking this little six-pound very dependent animal to the pet hospital, not knowing what might be wrong and wanting to comfort the little one with human touch and emotions.

I left him in the arms of a technician who hugged him as he took him away to the pet equivalent of an examining room. The fact that the technician hugged him helped me a little, but not much.

So as not to belabor the issue, we picked Fibber up yesterday afternoon and he was fine. Apparently he contracted a virus from McGee who had recently come from the groomers. McGee was older and thus more immune. Fibber, just a puppy, was not and he got ill from the infection.

Human contact with domestic animals has been going on since biblical times. The Latin word for love is “Amo” which is the root word for animal. It is no wonder we become attached to these devoted little creatures.

One of my major concerns is the way some humans treat the animals in their care. If there is Karma between species in the next existence then beware ye who are cruel for balance is the law of the Universe.

Fibber seems to be fine and McGee is happy and playful her friend has returned to the kitchen. So am I.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I connected with an old friend yesterday. We hadn’t talked in many years. He was once my boss first and then instantly my friend. It was and is his nature to embrace, to encourage, to guide from his atavistic perspective to nurture and be of global service.

He was the first news director in my long television career to encourage me to write commentary. He came into my office one Friday and said: “this has been a tough week in New York City, how about writing something to close the broadcast tonight to put it all into a positive perspective.” I did and I haven’t stopped since.

Some people say you cannot have a true relationship within a mercantile relationship. I don’t agree, but you do need to have the ability to compartmentalize the relationship into personal and professional.

But friendship is more than that so let me back up for a moment. I think we each come into this earthly density in order to physically and emotionally experience life and grow and find our individual ways to become ONE with “All that Is.” The “All that Is” can be anything you’d like it to be in the comfort of your personal understanding. I don’t want The Source to be personified into a deity image for that could make it a dogmatic constriction.

The bottom line is that the awareness of true friendship comes to those who interact in life’s experiences and intuitively know that their souls are from the same spiritual cluster. Somewhere deep within we acknowledge that we came here in this time to play it all out in the magnificent drama of life.

My friend has been my friend for eternity and I know it and so does he and that makes the relationship solid and one of both corporal and spiritual appreciation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote a little known essay on the uses of great men. (It has been one of my favorites for five decades.) Emerson begins his essay with, “It is natural to believe in great men.” He concludes by saying: “It is for man to tame the chaos; on every side, whilst he lives, to scatter the seeds of science and of song …(so) that the germs of love and benefit may be multiplied.”

My friend is a great man. Not because I say so, but because he is. I would encourage you to read his memoir, The Newslife: from Arkansas to Aruba available on Stephen Cohen is a quintessential journalist, a mentor and a friend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Is There A there?

I wonder if in that other place, the place where some believe we go after our life ends here, there is an awareness of what goes on in this earthly density? I wonder if those who have been wronged or falsely accused and died, or murdered, are angry at the wrong or at the ending of their life. Do the spirits of the former earthly living feel temporal emotions?

If there is a there, is there anger there or, at least, righteous indignation? Is there rage there or are those kinds of emotions left behind? Is there intellect and reasoning and a request for justice or is it no longer important? Is there a different kind of justice, an omniscience perhaps, where everything ever said or done is seen in a divine context and love is the only important emotion? Is it easy to forgive there, and is it a choice as it is here?

I don’t know if there will ever be answers, but I do have another question. If there is a there and I believe there is, can we listen to those who are there and will we hear their truth through our anger or sadness or pain?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bachmann Slams Buffett

Here's a story out of South Carolina from the Associated Press.

In yesterday's post I reprinted a letter that Warren Buffett sent to the New York Times. If you haven't read it please check yesterday's post. It relates to today's post.

In my opinion Congressman Bachmann just doesn't get it. Is she so myopic that she can't see the benefit of what Mr. Buffett is proposing? Instead she chides him to write a check to build a wall on America's southern border.

Earlier in the day she continued to use a true statistic in a false way giving the impression that President Obama was the cause of Federal Employee wage increases. Folks, the woman bends the truth to fit her agenda. We have enough of those kind of representatives in Washington. In fact, she's one of them. Check it out for yourselves on the Washington Post website and the column "The Fact Checker." Here's the link.

Here the AP story re: Buffett
"GREENVILLE, S.C. — Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann on Tuesday called for a wall on the border with Mexico and suggested that billionaire Warren Buffett should write a big check to the government if he's eager for higher taxes on the wealthy.

The Minnesota Republican began a three-day swing through this early GOP primary state fresh off winning a narrow straw poll victory last week in Iowa over Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Bachmann said lax enforcement of immigration laws was a threat to the nation's security. She agreed with a town hall questioner at a Greenville stop that U.S. troops should be redeployed from South Korea to south Texas.

"How do you solve it? You build a barrier, a fence, a wall — whatever you want to call it. You build it," Bachmann said. "As president of the United States, every mile, every yard, every foot, every inch will be covered on that southern border."

The "problem is not our laws on immigration," Bachmann said. "The problem has been in our unwillingness to enforce the laws that are on the books." South Carolina legislators this year passed one of the nation's toughest illegal immigration laws. It goes into effect in December.

Bachmann's first stop was at a popular burger joint in nearby Spartanburg where she was surrounded by a crowd of about 300 people baking in a black top parking lot.

Bachmann criticized President Barack Obama's call for the wealthy to pay higher taxes and Buffett's support of the idea.

"We do believe, unlike Warren Buffett, that taxes are high enough already," she said. "I have a suggestion: Mr. Buffett, write a big check today."

In a state where candidates are rarely heckled, Bachmann got an earful. A man in a black suit called out repeatedly: "Are you anti-gay marriage." During an interview Sunday, Bachmann was asked about her faith, same-sex marriage and whether she would appoint someone who was openly gay.

Bachmann noted the heckler and the interview questions. "I am not ashamed to say that I believe in God. We were founded on religious liberty and we are going to stand on religious liberty," Bachmann said. "And we believe in marriage between one man and one woman."

Bachmann was sharply critical of Obama's fiscal policies and job policies in a state with 10.5 percent unemployment — the highest among the nation's early primary states.

She called Obama "an anti-job president.""

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bravo Mr. Buffett

Hooray for Mr. Buffett. He gets it. CONGRESS TAKE NOTE.

I'd vote for Mr. Buffett as President. We need him or someone like him in the White House.

"Stop Coddling the Super-Rich


Published: August 14, 2011 in the New York Times

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Call To Action?

I have a friend who is politically savvy. He is neither a republican nor a democrat, but from conversations over the years I think he has supported both parties from time to time.

I wouldn’t even call him an independent. He is a lot like many Americans today who do not support the ideology of any party as an absolute dictum, but are drawn to the words and personality of a candidate through the most powerful of polls. The one inside each one of us.


Gut reaction.

Intuitive or visceral feelings.

My friend believes the political purists and the intellectual polemicists of all parties are misunderstanding the motivating issues.

He believes the issues are not only about the economy. They are not only about the size of the government or the definition of marriage and gay rights. 2012 is about the worry of the middle class and their belief that the powerful, the elected and the rich corporations are willing to disenfranchise the common man for the sake of profit.

I agree with my friend and so far none of the candidates has grasped the growing frustration of middle class worries.

Why?  The powerful are not in touch with their feelings. They have pushed their instincts aside and continue the litany of empty promises, and blaming the other guy for the collective ills of life.

The middle class, of which there are very few in congress, is tired of the disunity and the bureaucracy from the White House on down to the wasteful congressional pork and inappropriate spending of the middle class’s future.

The candidates think the lack of a job and a decent wage is the genesis of the problem. They think spending and cost cutting are the issues. They are true, but they are the surface ripples of a more turbulent deep water.

What’s happening in the grass roots of America is an ad hoc search by the middle class for a leader that can bring compromise, courtesy and concession to the difficult problems that only middle class understands: paying bills, healthcare, a decent job and a decent wage and senior entitlements coupled with responsible citizenship.

The middle class seeks positive solutions to the serious issues in a country they know is in trouble. How do they know it? They live it.

The Tea Party is a prime example of a middle class search for responsible leadership. Their premise is good, but their process is flawed for they have formed into an absolute mass of uncompromising and concretized ideology.

The answer, if we all want one, is a return to the democracy of our foundation. A return to citizen legislators who see elective office as a service not a career and national representatives who empathize with the common man and participate in his entitlements, in his worries and in his responsibilities.

Find those leaders and America is well on its way to solving the myriad of ills that face us now and in the future.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Desperate Need

If you are a reader of these posts you know that last fall I went to Africa with several members of the CMMB board of directors.

CMMB is a nonprofit, faith based organization that provides and delivers aid throughout the world without regard to creed, race, sex or national or political circumstance. It is a noble mission statement and they succeed at it based upon my observations.
CMMB stands for Catholic Medical Mission Board. It was founded a hundred years ago by a medical doctor from New York who saw a need and filled it with the help of dedicated partners. Unfortunately that need as been ongoing for ten decades.
I'd never heard of the organization before last year when I was asked to host a series of informative programs about CMMB to be aired on Telecare, a Catholic television station based on Long island and also on various television outlets throughout the United States and Canada.
I've never had a jaded opinion of life for it is not part of my nature, but being a journalist for nearly a half century I've been exposed to the misdeeds, corruption and organizations that take your money, make promises and never fill them.

The CMMB organization is the pure evidence of altruism and the Samaritan ethic. The money donated to CMMB goes to help those in need and not the administrative coffers. 97% of all money gifts go help those in need.

Yesterday I received an email sent to Jack Galbraith, President and CEO of CMMB.

Dear Rolland,
Dr. Tom Catena is the Medical Director at Mother of Mercy Hospital in Sudan and has been a CMMB volunteer for more than 10 years. He is a good friend to us and he recently sent me an email that so deeply moved me that I felt compelled to share some of it with you. I hope it moves you to make a gift that will help us send medical shipments to Sudan and other places where they can do the most good.

Subject: An update from SudanFrom: Tom CatenaTo: John Galbraith
Dear Jack,
On Thursday morning, we checked on more than 150 patients – people suffering from all kinds of medical problems.
One of our patients is an 8-year-old girl who probably has tuberculosis. We’ve been treating her for three weeks, but she still has difficulty breathing and a fever. An X-ray would help us confirm the diagnosis, but we don’t have one.
We have another patient with third-degree burns to 20% of her body. It takes one of our nurses two hours to fully clean and dress this patient using a tremendous amount of gauze to cover all the burned areas. We try our best to conserve the gauze, as it has to be purchased in Nairobi (Kenya) and sent out here by cargo flight once per year.
We have several patients who have pelvic or leg fractures, or who have had limbs amputated, but we have only three pairs of crutches. The patients have to share the crutches and this slows down their recovery.
Altogether, we did 13 operations over the past two days with an operating room staff of one doctor, one anesthetist and two surgical assistants.

Our equipment is showing signs of wear and tear. The surgical instruments no longer cut as well as they used to. The sterile towels and the sterile gowns we wear are in tatters. All of these items need to be replaced. We seem to be included in the drought that has affected the Horn of Africa. We are approaching the end of our rainy season yet the rains have pretty much failed. Last year was a good harvest so people are still living off last year’s surplus. The crisis will likely arise from October onward when last year’s stock runs out.
Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
I know that each of us have our causes and charities, but if you can help Dr. Catena do so. I plan to help with a small donation. Even though I don’t know the names of those in need, I know their heart and their hurt for we are ONE.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Movement Perhaps?

Bravo! America.

This is from the Washington Post yesterday.

“Less than one in four Americans want to see Members of Congress re-elected in 2012, the lowest that numbers has been in two decades of Gallup polling and the latest sign that the election next November could see incumbents in both parties losing in droves.

Just 24 percent of people in a new USA Today/Gallup poll said that most Members of Congress deserved to be re-elected while 67 percent said they did not.

Among registered voters, the numbers were even worse. Just 21 percent said Member of Congress deserved re-election while 70 — yes, 70 — percent said they didn’t.

Those numbers suggest that 2012 — at least as of today — may be the rarest of elections: a pox on both parties.”

This is an email I received from one disgruntled American who is fed up with the ranker in Congress.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc. 

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure. 

I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. 

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around. 

Congressional Reform Act of 2011 

1. No Tenure / No Pension. 
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. 

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. 
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do. 

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. 

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. 

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people. 

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. 
The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work. 

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Sad Day

Here’s the bulletin from the Washington Post yesterday afternoon.

“President Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base by helicopter on Tuesday to pay his respects to the 30 U.S. troops who were killed Saturday when their Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

The president canceled a scheduled appearance in Northern Virginia to be present for the arrival of the troops’ remains, which was closed to the media.

The crash killed 22 Navy SEALs, and eight other U.S. troops, in what became the deadliest day for the United States in the decade-long war against Afghan insurgents”.

For me the operative phrase here is the arrival was closed to the media.

I’ve said this before and I will say it again.

I agree that grief has the right to be private. The families have the right to greet their loved ones in private without the prying camera eyes of the media.

I do think, however, there should have been some kind of public/media solemn acknowledgement that our heroes are home.

Granted it is a negative message that images of flag draped coffins send home and that’s why all administrations involved in war have kept images of these kind as quiet as possible.

In Vietnam, I covered the war and the coffins coming home. I’ve seen the dead in Croatia and I’ve reported the mortality count in numerous wars and conflicts since the sixties.

What governments have always failed to acknowledge is that once a warrior is dead, politics end. 

The dignity of name is important to the validity of service, not only to the family, but also to the social and patriotic permanence to our society. Heroes are honored, not hidden.

These bodies are our dead. They served by choice and honor. They died by circumstance and the hatred of another. Let us acknowledge their remains with images and names and bugle calls in public.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The State of the Nation

Without being alarming or admitting to any infirmity I have been around this magnificent country coming up on a seventh decade.

Does that give me prescience to what is going on in our country?


It only gives me the experience of living in what this country has gone through for a number of decades.
The fact that I chose journalism a career path is an added advantage to singular understanding of what we are going through at the moment.

I think many people in the United States of America are experiencing a seething anger against the partisanship, the rancor, the recalcitrance of our (OUR) elected representatives who think we are as inimical against the opposition (Whatever that may be) as they are.

Congress you have a great lesson here to learn here, if you choose to do so.

You are not special. You are not entitled to serve for a lifetime. You are not above the law, both the law of the land and the moral laws of our common, modern society. You are where you are to serve the collective good of our republic.

We the people, we who you are supposed to represent, live in tolerance, community, and in compassion with our neighbors and our neighbor’s neighbors. We have to, because of the proximity of life. We understand the ache of life and the battle of family budgets with all of the worry when the means do not meet the needs and bills cannot be paid.

Congress you have no clue to what we go through on a day-to-day basis. You have formed an elitist club that does not serve the best interests of the people who elected you.

You have forgotten what you promised to remember when we elected you. You have become dispassionate beings who think that liberal or conservative ideology is the only issue of democracy.
Democracy is not stubbornness. It is compromise and courtesy.

Many of us will make sure you are not reelected.

Here’s a reason, if you need one.

Your collective rancor and subbornness over the dept limit has set the world on a course of fear. You placed partisan politics above fiscal policy and you were the catalyst for this global  economic worry.

Everyone is hurting at this moment; liberals, Conservatives, Inbetweeners, are all suffering economically because of your inability to see the whole picture of America and her place in the world  and to present a   unified image of our stability despite our over-spending and borrowing which must stop.

Enjoy your limited tenure Congress. Plan for a time very soon when your individual power is powder and your prestige is a passing of the wind.

Monday, August 8, 2011


The decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and three days later on Nagasaki was made by President Harry S. Truman. The argument for dropping the bomb was that it would save thousands of allied lives from a land assault on the islands of Japan.
By choosing to remember this anniversary we once again acknowledge what war can do to nations and to the innocent and what misguided leadership can bring upon its people. For me it also invokes a childhood memory.
I remember growing up in the early part of World War two reciting hateful rhymes against the Japanese and in particular emperor Hirohito. We were, after all, at war and our fathers and uncles were in harms way. I guess it was a child’s way of dealing with known adult frustration, fear and anger that filtered down to us kids.

The Japs, as we called them then, were the enemy. Today they are the Japanese and we are demonstrable friends and fierce competitors.

According to author Stewart Chase, the Japanese have a word "Mokusatsu." It is comprised of two characters. Moku, meaning, "to kill" and Satsu, meaning, "with silence". Mokusatsu has two meanings depending on how it is used. It can mean to "refrain from comment" or it can mean, "to ignore". 

Toward the end of the war, after months of intensive bombing of sixty other cities, the allies issued the Potsdam ultimatum to Japan. It said, "surrender or be crushed."

The Showa regime apparently was ready to capitulate but wanted more time to discuss it internally.

The Japanese issued a policy of "mokusatsu," in response to the Potsdam ultimatum with the refrain from comment meaning. That meaning, however, was mistranslated somewhere in the sending or receiving of it and it read to the allies, "the Japanese government ignores the Potsdam ultimatum." To recall the inaccurate translation would be an unthinkable loss of face for the Japanese.

A few days later the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
One word misinterpreted.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Government History Of Poor Judgement

If the latest and continuing carnage from Congress is indicitive of their ability to govern then the axiom "Be worried when you call for help and the Government comes to the rescue," seems to be valid.

The people of New Orleans understand that better than most. The bureaucracy always bungles good intent and they do so because "the bureaucracy" by its very nature lacks compassion, empathy and a singular leadership.

Long before the Hurricane Katrina rescue and that debacle our government tried to come to the rescue of the native people of the Aleutian Islands, the Aleuts.

The Aleutians are a thousand mile long string of ragged islands that sit atop a submerged ridge that stretches from Alaska to Russia.

The Aleuts were nothing more than simple folk who enjoyed plain living harvesting seal fur. In June of 1942, bombs fell on some of the small Aleut villages. The war with the Japanese had reached these unprotected islands and Washington was worried.

American troops rushed to the rescue. Government officials ordered the Aleuts out. Their homes became barracks as villagers were taken to relocation camps on the Alaskan coast. The rescue wasn't a rescue at all. The Aleuts were no better off than Japanese-Americans locked up as security risks.

Some villagers were put in abandoned canneries, some were locked up in a gutted gold mine. Visiting doctors said the Aleuts were living like POW's. Deaths increased by 300 percent.

Bitter fighting finally defeated the Japanese, but the Aleut exile had lasted nearly three years and when they returned to their villages, nothing was the same. Their boats had long since rotted and sunk. Their possessions were gone, even their religious icons were stolen.

There was a government settlement. Ten-thousand dollars for all claims, about 12 dollars a person. Congress periodically looked into the debacle, trying to find out what went wrong when the government went to the rescue.

What Congress ought to look at is the meager settlement to the innocent citizens of the Aleutians.
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