About Editor (Retired)

Newsman, blogger, editor, writer (and no longer young).

Growing Older Is Better Than You Think

I recommend the following article to everyone:

“Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think,” by Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, June 19, 2019.

https://link.medium.com/Vd3BjZHhzY

Nothing I can say at this moment would do it justice. Please go and read it.

— John

Dangerous Heatwave Alert

Dangerous HEAT — like over 100° and then some — is expected this weekend throughout much of the United States, especially the East Coast, Andrew Freedman reports in The Washington Post. It will be an extended heatwave, possibly of historic magnitude, that’s my interpretation. Google the Capital Weather Gang. Turn on your TV. Bring in the pets.

The heat will be made worse by very high humidity left over from the hurricane that moved north from the Gulf of Mexico a few days ago.

Extremely high heat is a most dangerous weather condition, according to Freedman.

Everyone should make sure their air-conditioning is working, and that includes New England. Have extra water. That’s according to me.

ELDERLY PEOPLE who do not have air conditioning should make plans to shelter in a safe, air-conditioned place for the weekend, or longer. Pack your bag and go to a relative’s or a friend’s house. Don’t wait. Do it sooner rather than later. Today or Thursday would be a good time to go. Don’t forget your toothbrush and your prescriptions. I’m not an expert, and I don’t want to be alarmist, that’s simply my opinion.

I imagine that every big city will open heat shelters, but I don’t know if they will act quickly enough or have adequate space for everyone.

My personal suggestion for dogs and cats: It would be nice if you can take them with you, but it’s probably not critical. I think they will survive OK. Just leave them several large bowls of water and let them go down in the basement, if you can. They can go hungry for a while, but they need water.

Pray that the power companies are prepared, and the electric grid is secure. Demand overload and power failure could easily turn into emergency. Widespread and extended power outages could become disasters.

This is not science fiction, or apocalyptic fiction, or any kind of fiction. It’s news. It’s what we can expect in the future. The future begins this weekend.

— John

Bernie Sanders Proposes a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights

Note: In an effort to help the voting public understand the positions of Bernie Sanders on the issues, and why he calls himself a Democratic Socialist, I’m reprinting below the text of an email I received from him this week: It is all a direct quote from the candidate. — John

“While the Bill of Rights protects us from the tyranny of an oppressive government, many in the establishment would like the American people to submit to the tyranny of oligarchs, multinational corporations, Wall Street banks, and billionaires.

In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed an economic bill of rights, because he knew that there cannot be true freedom without economic security. He was not able to enact it before his death. Seventy-five years later, that job falls to us.

That is why I am proposing we complete the unfinished work of FDR and the Democratic Party by putting forth a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. These rights include:

  • Quality health care
  • A complete education
  • A good job that pays a living wage
  • Affordable housing
  • A secure retirement
  • A clean environment

I am asking for your support for this 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. Will you add your name to say you endorse these rights?

Please add your name to support our 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights to guarantee a living wage, quality health care, a complete education, affordable housing, a secure retirement, and a clean environment for every person in our country.

ADD YOUR NAME

These are my values, and that is why I call myself a democratic socialist.

What I believe is that the American people deserve freedom – true freedom. Freedom is an often-used word, but it’s time we took a hard look at what that word actually means.

Ask yourself: what does it actually mean to be free?

Are you truly free if you are unable to go to a doctor when you are sick, or face financial bankruptcy when you leave the hospital?

Are you truly free if you cannot afford the prescription drug you need to stay alive?

Are you truly free when you spend half of your limited income on housing, and are forced to borrow money from a payday lender at 200% interest rates?

Are you truly free if you are 70 years old and forced to work because you lack a pension or enough money to retire?

Are you truly free if you are unable to attend college or a trade school because your family lacks the income?

Are you truly free if you are forced to work 60 or 80 hours a week because you can’t find a job that pays a living wage?

Are you truly free if you are a mother or father with a newborn baby but you are forced to go back to work immediately after the birth because you lack paid family leave?

Are you truly free if you are a small business owner or family farmer who is driven out by the monopolistic practices of big business?

Are you truly free if you are a veteran, who put your life on the line to defend this country, and now sleep out on the streets?

To me, the answer to those questions, in the wealthiest nation on earth, is no, you are not free.

It is time for the American people to stand up and fight for their rights to freedom, human dignity, and security.

Please add your name to endorse our 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.

Thank you for being a part of our movement.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders”

 

America Has Some Of The Best Immigrants In The World, By Peggy Noonan

“However the illegal immigration crisis is resolved, or not, there are tens of millions already here. Who helps make them Americans? . . .

“They need instruction on the meaning and history of America. Here it should be noted that we have some of the best immigrants in the world, who work hard and have no hostility to American religious culture. In fact, they’re part of that culture. Help Americanize them in other ways.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, speechwriter and special advisor to President Ronald Reagan

WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s a lot to unpack in the above brief quote. Upon first reading, the thought that came to my mind was: Well, this is NOT President Donald Trump’s view of immigration. No it isn’t, but look further.

Ms. Noonan was careful about what she said, and what she did not say. Let me suggest that you may need to read between the lines a little in order to discern the subtle observations she is making about immigration in present-day America.

Here’s a hint. Obviously, the subject is “immigration.” However, the key words may be “religion” and “culture.”

If you comment below, please try to be as circumspect as Ms. Noonan was. Any disrespectful or inflammatory comments will be deleted at the discretion of the blogger-in-chief.

— John Hayden

Turtles In Florida

Turtle

I understand that May is the month when giant sea turtles crawl up on the beaches in Florida, on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, to lay their eggs.

This is NOT one of the giant sea turtles. She’s several miles inland from the Gulf, and lives in fresh water, not salt. But she’s the largest turtle I’ve ever seen. I’d guess the shell is about a foot long from front to back, and adding the head would make it perhaps 14 inches in length. Just guessing. She probably qualifies as a North American terrapin. They live in fresh or brackish water.

She crawled from the swamp behind my apartment during the first week in May and climbed to the top of the steep hill to lay her eggs under the big tree just beyond my patio fence. She was digging a hole with her hind legs as I watched. Of course, I was careful not to approach or frighten her, but she seemed to take no notice of me.

I’m thinking this is one very old terrapin, perhaps ancient. She looks old, anyway. Her shell seems to be covered with who knows what, perhaps collected over a period of years. And something green is growing on the front edge of the shell and on top of her head. The green stuff appears to be right over where her eye would be, perhaps blocking her sight.

Life goes on.

I’ve spotted several similar turtles of various sizes sunning on a log in the water at the bottom of the hill this spring. But the turtles on the log startle at my slightest movement or sound from way up the hill, and slip quickly into the safety of the water. This one seemed intent only on digging a hole for her eggs, and not inclined to be aware or afraid of anything.

I wonder why she selected this spot? Is it possible she was born at this very place, many years ago?

The turtle was gone when I returned about an hour later. I hope her eggs are safely buried. In due time, if all goes according to plan, a bunch of little turtles will hatch and scurry down the hill to the relative safety of the swamp. I know they will be easy prey for the many ducks and other waterfowl in the neighborhood. I hope at least a few survive.

The largest turtle I ever saw in Maryland was perhaps half this size. Except for the terrapin statue in front of the library at the University of Maryland, where the athletic teams are nicknamed the Terps. I suspect there may be large terrapins I’ve never seen living in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

And that is everything I know about turtles. Everything.

— John

Turtle2

America It Will Be Bad, By Peggy Noonan

Quote

“You can’t see all the world’s weapons and all its madness and not know that eventually we will face a terrible day or days when everything will depend on our ability to hold together and hold on. Maybe it will involve nuclear weapons, maybe an extended, rolling attack on the grid, maybe bioterrorism. But it will be bad; there will be deep stress and violence. The great question in those days, under that acute pressure, will be:   Will we hold together? Will we suffer through and emerge, together, on the other side? Which is another way of saying:   Will we continue as a nation, a people?

“My belief is that whatever helps us hold together now, whatever brings us together and binds us close, is good, and must be encouraged with whatever it takes.

“If these are your predicates — America in cultural catastrophe, and hard history ahead — you spend your energies on a battle not to make government significantly smaller, but to make it significantly more helpful.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, speechwriter and special advisor to President Ronald Reagan

WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

Signs Of Alligators In Florida

Gator

In Florida, you might see a sign mentioning alligators in the neighborhood. Believe it. Any neighborhood with a pond or a swamp. In Florida, you’re usually within walking distance of a pond or swamp. Walking distance, even if you have short, stumpy legs like an alligator. I hear they can run fast, but I’ve never seen it. They usually don’t stroll too far from water’s edge. And the few I’ve seen appear quite timid and ready to slither back into the slime from which they came.

Good iPhone photo of the sign, not so good of the alligator, who I believe is a juvenile. Not very big. He/she/it lives in the swamp about 25 yards down the hill behind my apartment. A stout little wood fence separates my patio from the hill. Now why would anyone want to block that lovely view with a three-foot fence? Or a sign?

Gator2

iPhone photo quality does not improve when you zoom in. But with alligators, zooming is better than trying a closeup, IMO. I’ve got to get my real camera working. He/she/it seems to live in mouth-wide-open mode. For what it’s worth.

— John

America’s Continuing Cultural Catastrophe, By Peggy Noonan

Quote

“The old conservatism of smaller government, tax cuts and reduced spending . . .

“That old conservatism was deeply pertinent to its era and philosophically right, but it is not fully in line with the crises of our time or its reigning facts . . .

“The federal government will not become smaller or less expensive in our lifetimes . . .

“But beyond that fact is something bigger. America needs help right now and Americans know it. It has been enduring for many years a continuing cultural catastrophe — illegitimacy, the decline of faith, low family formation, child abuse and neglect, drugs, inadequate public education, etc. All this exists alongside an entertainment culture on which the poor and neglected are dependent, and which is devoted to violence, sex and nihilism . . .

“America to my mind is what Pope Francis said the church was: a field hospital after battle. We are a beautiful and great nation but a needy, torn-up one in need of repair.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, Speechwriter and special assistant to President Ronald Reagan

From the WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

The Real State Of The Union

As the captain gave his State Of The Union address, he was standing on an unsteady deck.

I had the opportunity this week to speak with a federal employee recently retired after 40 years with the U.S. government.

Federal workers’ morale is not good, he said. For a long time the government has pursued a policy of converting federal employee positions to contract positions. I presume the goal is to save money and to relieve government of responsibility for employees, and it’s working.

Federal employees idled during the month-long government shutdown will receive back pay, the retiree explained. Contract employees who work alongside federal employees in the same buildings will NOT be paid.

The numbers:

Approximately 800,000 federal employees will be paid; approximately 1 million contract federal workers will not be paid.

You might say it’s a dirty little secret. But it’s not a well-kept secret. I read the same information in a newspaper. However, most Americans are unaware that 1 million workers will not be paid. Or they simply don’t care.

The U.S. is fighting wars (sometimes secret wars) with mercenaries paid by private contractors, instead of soldiers paid by the U.S. Army. And the civilian government is staffed by contract workers, instead of official federal employees.

Morale is horrible among both official employees and their contract fellow workers, said the long-time employee. Contract workers are leaving the government in droves, he said. Departing workers are taking years of experience and irreplaceable skills with them, said another man at the table. The government is being weakened, and possibly wrecked.

I suppressed the image of rats leaving a sinking ship. It’s not the right image.

I summoned a vision of contract sailors, classified as “non-essential” and deemed not worth paying. They are disembarking from a stricken ship, with unseen damage below the waterline. A skeleton crew remains aboard.

Sailors are manning the lifeboats in orderly fashion. Meanwhile, a proud and inattentive captain is on deck reading a speech. Assembled officers applaud dutifully. The captain is unaware that the deck beneath his feet is unsteady and the ship is listing.

sunset ship boat sea

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

— John Hayden

 

New And More Dangerous Stage In U.S. Constitutional Crisis

The 35-day (partial) government shutdown, longest in American history, ended Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, with a temporary and grudging truce between President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress. The truce expires on Feb. 15. Some Federal agencies began reopening on Saturday, and about 800,000 government workers will receive paychecks. Date of paychecks to be announced.

The shutdown, the fight over a border wall at the Mexican border, and most importantly, the Constitutional crisis involving the power of the U.S. Congress to appropriate government funds and the power of the president to do . . . whatever . . .  is off the front pages of American newspapers.

We might be forgiven for thinking the storm is over.

But the Constitutional crisis has entered new and more dangerous territory. Trump has threatened to declare a state of emergency and/or shut down the government again if Congress fails to meet his demands by Feb. 15.

President Trump made a concession, gave in to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand to reopen the government before negotiations could begin. Trump’s seeming capitulation means nerve-rending pressures on both sides.

Trump is being portrayed as the loser. He is vilified by his Republican base. His most hard-core supporters adopted his promise of a wall as a divine right, a modern Manifest Destiny.  I can only imagine that he believes he must deliver on his promise to build a border wall, or all is lost for him.

Pelosi and Democrats are portrayed as the winners. Many on the far left are celebrating. The reality is that Pelosi is now under excruciating pressure to negotiate in good faith. Does she have any good faith?

Pelosi will feel pressure even from her own Democrats in the House of Representatives. But Pelosi says she will never agree to build any border structure, anywhere. Many Democrats agree. And of course many Democrats are willing to make at least some concessions, to build a little bit of wall, or a fence. Here, or there.

Let’s talk about it?

How negotiations will play out is totally unpredictable.

In order to resolve the deadlock and end the Constitutional crisis, there must be good-faith negotiations. Compromises must be made. Both sides must give up something in order to achieve compromise, unless one side is willing to accept defeat and declare unconditional surrender. Compromise is essential. See the problem?

What happens if compromise is not reached by Feb. 15?

It’s totally unpredictable. It appears that Trump would have little choice but to declare his emergency, spend money on a wall without Congressional appropriations. Or shut down the government again, and who knows when it would reopen?

Or maybe the deadline could be extended?

Unpredictable negotiations, unpredictable presidential actions. Weeks of uncertainty.

And it probably wasn’t on the front page of your Sunday newspaper. Nothing about the shutdown on Page 1 of the Tampa Bay Times, which claims to be the largest newspaper in the third-largest state. Nothing on page 2A or 3A. Nothing about the shutdown, the temporary truce, the Constitutional crisis. Not until Page 10A, at which point the Tampa Bay Times reports:

“Some national parks open to visitors post-shutdown”

Well, national parks ARE important. The story also reports that airports are returning to normal operation. But the Smithsonian Institution won’t reopen until Tuesday.

So now we know what’s important to Americans, or at least to newspaper editors. National parks, airports, and the Smithsonian.

The callow irresponsibility of the media is as much to blame for this crisis as the actions of politicians. And the American public, with its short attention span, is not interested. The American public has gone shopping, or something.

In the end, we Americans will get what we deserve, whatever that may be.

— John Hayden