“Hic incipit pestis.” *

*”Here begins the plague” is written in the register next to the entry for Oliver Gunne’s burial on June 11, 1564 one of the first victims of the plague that ravaged Europe back when the “treatment” for such illnesses was praying or trying to exorcise demons. We seem to be reverting to such fear based reactions to a natural, if troubling, evolutionary process of viral mutation.

As one of our greatest Presidents once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Before we hunt and burn witches once someone suggests they bear responsibility for this Corona Virus Panic, it may be time for a deep breath. (And dispense with the paper masks, one they get wet from your breath all they stop is bad breath, and not very well.)  

It is this panicked fear of a naturally reoccurring phenomenon which grips this country and the world that is the genuine danger and risk.  While any death from what will soon be (although not in 2 or 3 months as someone suggested) a treatable and preventable viral infection is tragic, yet it’s the way the world works.

We (meaning the world) have faced the Black Death, Spanish Flu, a host of childhood diseases, AIDS, MRSA, Ebola et. al., once almost always fatal, and have found treatments or preventative measures to mitigate them. We did it through scientifically valid research and development.

We have child-guard caps on medication because someone died. We have seals on bottles because some put poison in a pain killer and someone died. We have seat belts in cars because someone died.  We learn from experience and use science and reasoning to deal with these issues.  Panic accomplishes nothing but a proliferation of ignorance.

It is the fundamental lack of basic science which troubles me the most. The anti-vaxxers with their pseudo-science already proven not just wrong but dangerous making claims without the slightest bit of evidence.

And people listen.

It is people not having a fundamental understanding of how viral pathogens are transmitted running around stockpiling disinfectant hoping to stave off which for most will amount to two sick days.

Yet people panic.

Now this is not to minimize the risk to those with compromised immunity or breathing difficulties. But these same risk factors apply to the flu which mutates every year (responding to the vaccines and evolving as life always has) and returning in a new variation.

As reported by the CDC in their 2019-2020 Flu Season overview, 280,000 to 500,000 flu hospitalizations and 16,000 to 41,000 flu deaths this year to date.

The flu, which in most cases is preventable by well-established vaccines, is still expected to kill between 260,000 and 350,000 people worldwide with 36,000 deaths in the US.

And this happens EVERY YEAR.

Now in case there is any doubt in anyone’s mind, I am not a fan of the President.  But in his news conference he did say something that is accurate, we should leave politics out of this. Whether Mr. Trump and others will– Democrats bear responsibility here also–is doubtful, but it is necessary if for no other reason than to mitigate the panic all out of proportion to the risk.

The actual culprit here is the media. Driven by the simple-minded attention-deficit tweet-addicted society we live in, the media resorts to stark headlines and “Breaking” News teasers to capture the infrequent moments of lucidity among many of our fellow citizens.

It forces them to compete with such major news as what Bachelorette picked which idiotic contestant or which Naked and Alone competitor had the most ant bites on their ass. And don’t even get me started on “My 600-pound life.”

The media are the modern equivalent of the boy who cried wolf or Chicken Little and the sky is falling. Their credibility, damaged by the constant need for shock and awe, discounted when they try to report actual news requiring some thought and consideration so the public, enamored of the hype and nonsense, doesn’t miss it.

Sadly, most of the time they do.

Mr. Trump and his administration, when faced with a genuine opportunity to show calm and deliberate leadership, booted it. Their intentional closure of the office designated to plan and prepare for this exact situation, further evidence of their disdain for science and expert advice, is a stain on an already tarnished Presidency. And their inaction followed by irrational overreaction will cause irreparable economic harm all out of proportion to the risk.

And people will still get the virus.

The media is as guilty as the President.  In its usual fervor for ratings, they further exasperated the situation with their hyperbole and drowned out the few voices of reasons—the doctors and scientists of the CDC and WHO — as they cautioned a reasonable reaction to a predictable situation.

Just for a bit of enlightenment in an age of darkness, here as some interesting statistics on the ways to die.

Oportet memento mori (Remember you must die)

Latin saying
Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2017
Cause of DeathOdds of Dying
Heart Disease1 in 6
Cancer1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease1 in 27
Suicide1 in 88
Opioid overdose1 in 96
Motor Vehicle Crash1 in 103
Fall1 in 114
Gun Assault1 in 285
Pedestrian Incident1 in 556
Motorcyclist1 in 858
Drowning1 in 1,117
Fire or Smoke1 in 1,474
Choking on Food1 in 2,696
Bicyclist1 in 4,047
Accidental Gun Discharge1 in 8,527
Sunstroke1 in 8,912
Electrocution, Radiation, Extreme Temperatures and Pressure1 in 15,638
Sharp objects1 in 28,000
Cataclysmic Storm1 in 31,394
Hot surfaces and substances1 in 46,045
Hornet, wasp and bee stings1 in 46,562
Dog attack1 in 115,111
Passenger on an airplane1 in 188,364
Lightning1 in 218,106
Railway passenger1 in 243,765

“Remember man that thou art dust…”

Author unknown

A Self-Inflicted Crisis (in a long line of self-inflicted crises)

In our country today we find ourselves in the situation writer Issac Asimov described in his seminal work, Foundation.

“…that frequent phenomenon in history: the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal “honor” and court etiquette.”

Isaac Asimov, Foundation

America faces a crisis, and it is not just the corona virus. It is a crisis of leadership when it is most needed. The total incompetence and fundamental lack of rational and reasoned efforts are on full display in Washington and throughout this administration.

In a line written about business, but applicable to the Trump administration since he touts his “business success,”

“Even a dysfunctional culture, once well established, is astonishingly efficient at reproducing itself.”

Megan McArdle, Atlantic Monthly (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/why-companies-fail/308887/)

And this is a dysfunctional President. The evidence is before our eyes, and before Congress, yet we and they have ignored it.  This didn’t begin with the corona virus, a phenomenon that occurs almost every few years as viruses mutate and change with evolutionary certainty.

It began with a President who has a fundamental disdain for the three co-equal branches of government and fails to remember he represents all Americans, not just those who voted for him.

The evidence of the incompetence of this administration covers the gambit from domestic to foreign policy to simple common decency and concern for humanity. Here’s one example that happened before the latest debacle.

If we will believe the President’s assertion that Mr. Putin denied Russian interference in the 2016 election–despite a rare consensus among our intelligence agencies to the contrary. If the President vouches for the honesty and integrity of the Russian President–despite overwhelming evidence of Russian efforts to destabilize out political process–then we would have no reason to doubt Mr. Putin’s contention that Mr. Trump told him we spend too much money on defense, and yet Mr. Trump increased the defense budget. (http://uawire.org/putin-says-trump-confessed-to-him-about-huge-military-spending)

Aside from wondering why any American president would say such a thing to one of our greatest challengers in the world, it gives one pause when we consider we have to take a moment to think about who we should believe. Unsure of who has more credibility, our President or the Russian one?

We are spending money on programs chosen more for their economic benefit to certain supportive Congressional districts (and some Democrats do not get a pass on this) or to garner contributions from defense industry funded PACS than intelligently derived analysis of 21st century defense needs.

We are buying weapons to fight a war based on large-scale operations rather than asymmetric insurgency type operations which are the nature of warfare since 1945.  While China, Russia, and other countries focus on weapons designed to mitigate our overwhelming force superiority with hypersonic long-range missiles or other effective weapons difficult to counteract, we prepare for the pitched battles of WWII which no one fights anymore.

One might argue, as many military experts do, that our reliance on overwhelming force against any hostile action, i.e. multiple five-hundred pound bomb strikes against a single sniper, and the unavoidable collateral damage, creates more hostility and resistance to our expressed purpose for being there.

In other words, the military weaponry we buy fails to serve the purpose. We protect American lives in the short run, yet doom them to remain on the ground in harm’s way because we create more enemies than we kill. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Doubt this? We’ve been fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for almost 20-years.

China has the additional foresight (another missing asset of this President) to invest in world-wide infrastructure to gain influence while we bog ourselves down in these endless sectarian wars at the cost of American lives and loss of respect for American policy.

 “In the twenty-first century, the military costs over $700 billion a year, and its budget is 3 to 4 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP). By way of comparison, the budget for the National Cancer Institute is only about $5 billion per year, when over 609,000 people in the United States die from cancer each year.”

Tim Bakker “The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the U.S. Military.”

And the deficit, the one that Mr. Trump claimed he would eliminate, grows exponentially with each passing moment. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/04/02/trumps-nonsensical-claim-he-can-eliminate-19-trillion-in-debt-in-eight-years/)

These things present complex and dangerous challenges to this country.

Mr. Trump, as he is wont to repeat ad nauseam, claims he is solely responsible for the economic “turnaround.” He claims the rise of the stock market is his accomplishment and his alone.

If so, Mr. Trump, then the fall of the market, nay the descent into oblivion of the market, is yours. While I have often argued the US economy is too complex for just one factor to have such influence, I must defer to your claims.

Not so fast, many of his supporters will shout. You cannot blame the President for the corona virus and its effect on the market.

True enough, but only so far. I can blame him for his ineptness and stumbling in the face of the crisis which contributes to the jitters on Wall Street.  The oft repeated mantra of “How’s your 401k?” doesn’t ring as sweet anymore, does it Mr. Trump?

You can’t tweet your way out of this one.

In just a few short decades we have gone from leaders who say and act with determination, compassion, and wisdom while calming and inspiring a nation in crisis…

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in time of crisis.”

Thurgood Marshall

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

― President Franklin D. Roosevelt

…to this,

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

President George W. Bush

Mr. Bush, with his stumbling and bumbling words, led us into an unnecessary and deadly war absent the slightest bit of justification. Yet, I think he believed it necessary to protect American interests even if based on fraudulent advice.

Now, we have a President whose concerns are much easier to divine.

If it reflects well on him, he is solely responsible. If it reflects badly, everyone else has failed him.

The corona virus is not a crisis in the sense that millions across the planet will die from it. But that is little comfort to the victims of other debilitating conditions who will die if they contract the virus.

The corona virus is a crisis because of the American failure to respond in a timely, organized, and well thought out manner. It shows the dearth of preparedness, the willful ignorance of science, and the lack of proper health care available to all Americans.

This from a recent article in the New York Times.

“Who would have thought?” he (President Trump) asked during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nerve center for the government’s response to the outbreak. “Who would have thought we would even be having the subject?”

Actually, quite a few people would have thought, and did — including the officials in his own White House who were in charge of preparing for just such a pandemic only to have their office shut down in a reorganization in 2018. “The threat of pandemic flu is the No. 1 health security concern,” one of the officials said the day before that happened two years ago.

“Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.” (https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB10V9en?m=en-us&referrerID=InAppShare)

How right he turned out to be.

This is a crisis of Mr. Trump’s creation based on arrogant disdain for the wisdom of others in areas for which Mr. Trump has no experience. In a time when a President should be in the forefront of leading the nation with a calm and reassuring voice, he focuses on the only thing that matters to him, his own self-aggrandizing super ego.

While leaving American citizens stranded on a ship waiting for someone, anyone, to bring them home and test them for the virus, Mr. Trump had this to say,

“I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship”

President of the United States (this is not a typo) Donald J. Trump.

I like the numbers where there are as well, Mr. Trump. The poll numbers that show you trailing any of the potential Democratic candidates. But we all know numbers can and will change.

The number of those testing positive for the virus will rise because of the ineptness of this country’s response, for which you alone bear sole responsibility, Mr. President, for you are the one who should lead the nation at this moment.

But instead of leadership, calming words, and steady example of competence, you’ve once again used virtual bone spurs to avoid your responsibility.

Blame the previous administration, fire your chief of staff, turn to your favorite enemy the media, do everything you can to avoid the crisis instead of doing that which is your most sacred responsibility, to lead us through it.

Let’s hope the American people remember your dismal and abhorrent performance during this time of crisis, and it reflects in their voice at the polls.

A Rising Tide

Hope for America

The hope of America lies not in her great history or in the resiliency of her people, but in the ability of our system of government to survive regardless of the level of quality in our leadership. The founding fathers understood this more than anything else; if you rely on just the good nature of most people you will leave a way for those with evil intent to thrive.

America is like a pristine beach; warmed by the sun with a gentle surf changing the shore in subtle but continuous ways.  Men such as Mr. Trump come along and build intricate sand castles that mesmerize those who cannot see their vulnerability.  They become enamored of the spectacle, ignoring the fundamental flaw in the foundation.

When the storm arrives, as it will, such structures last but a moment in the face of the onrushing waves. Yet the shore, with just the millions of grains of sand bound by a common purpose, not only survives but over time erases the remains of the turbulence.

We are now facing the storm of rising mistrust in America by the rest of the world. By the disdain of former allies abandoned by ill-considered policies based on a self-aggrandizing charlatan and his sycophantic minions. By opposing governments feeding the ego of the President to interfere in our elections with his consent. By the constancy of American resolve to bear any burden abandoned in the face of challenges we once welcomed.

The sand castle that is the Trump administration will not withstand the coming storm, a storm of outrage and disgust by the American people who see their country roiled in the minefields of racism, injustice, virtual foreign invasion, and nationalism.  The storm will sweep away the sand castle and the shores of America will bask in the sun of a powerful but considerate, wealthy but generous, and vigilant yet hopeful nation once again.

An Immodest Proposal: Catch and Re-Lease

In 1729, Jonathan Swift, an Irish cleric better known for his work Gulliver’s Travels, wrote an essay entitled,

“A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick”

 It is more commonly known as A Modest Proposal.  Swift, seeking a way to deal with the starving people and abject poverty of Ireland, came up with a unique, if controversial, idea.

Since one can always learn from the past, I submit this Immodest Proposal for your consideration  in dealing with the Extraordinary Danger posed by the invasion of our country by those illegally crossing our borders, stealing all the good jobs, raping and pillaging (even if they are caught) because of our “catch and release” policy.

Here is An Immodest Proposal for Preventing the Poor Immigrant People from Being a Burden to America and For Making them Beneficial to our Economy (although I hear it is already perfect.)

It seems our efforts at stemming the tidal wave, nay tsunami, of people crossing our border under the mistaken idea we welcome these teeming masses yearning to be free has been only failure.

We have tried kindness and understanding, and still they came.

We put the National Guard on the borders, and still they came.

We built a wall (and rebuilding it as soon as part of it fell into Mexico,) and still they came,

We snatched their children holding them as hostages to discourage others from coming, and still they came.

It’s time we turned these lemons into lemonade. For what level of desperation must they feel to face not only our indignation and revulsion for their daring to embrace the dream of freedom but to ignore every effort we’ve made to stop them?

I have the perfect solution.

Instead of catch and release, we catch them and then lease and re-lease them to do all those jobs Americans are not willing to do.

We can lease and re-lease them to farms, at costs far lower than minimum wage, and thus lower the cost of agricultural products.

We can lease and re-lease them to cities and towns to clean the highways, collect trash, maintain the sidewalks, sweep the streets (at night to be out of sight of most citizens) thus reducing taxes and improving our living environment.

We can lease and re-lease them to companies who need massive amounts of labor to fill all those newly created jobs (after all Americans have first dibs, of course) and the lower labor cost will reduce the price of all those Amazon orders.

The cost savings will translate into lower taxes, put more money in the hands of “real & true” Americans, and eliminate all those pairs of sneakers hanging from telephone lines which is a blight on our land.

We can take some of them and use them to care for the children too young to work and supplement our own daycare facilities to lower day care costs.

Some might claim, this is slavery. I disagree.  We did not ask them to come here. We’ve made a tremendous effort to discourage them, yet still they came. It would be reasonable to conclude their ignoring our objections to their coming here amounts to volunteering.

We might even put a light at the end of the tunnel.  Say after ten or twenty years of toiling for our mutual benefit, they would be entitled to either a path to citizenship or a free ticket home.

Absent concurrence with my suggestion, we could always revert to Swift’s original idea. More difficult to sell but would accomplish the same honorable purpose.

The Soundtracks of Life

Music has always been a big part of my life. I’m sure that’s true for many people, I know it’s true for some of my friends. The music of our youth shapes us even to this day. It added color to our memories, and still keeps much of those “good ole’ days” vibrant and alive, even if tempered with time.

I always find it fascinating that I have to work at remembering names of people I’ve just met, yet just the first few notes (can you name that tune?) of The Sounds of Silence or April Come She Will and I can recite the lyrics without fail.

I often listen to the 60s channel on Sirius XM and, except for a few obscure songs, can sing along with almost every tune.

Pleasant Valley Sunday, I’m a Believer, Shiloh, Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?, and on to the days of Good Times Bad Times, Stairway to Heaven, Smoke on the Water, the sound of the first few notes or rhythmic beat of the drums and I am sixteen once again.

Born to be Wild… indeed.

In my senior year of high school, 1974, the theme of the prom was Seals & Croft’s We May Never Pass This Way Again. I didn’t attend the prom, choosing (or perhaps because I may not have had a choice) to experience (with several other option-less friends) a more cinematic cultural experience at a rather chic drive-in movie location, accompanied by fine, hand-crafted ales, and facilitated by our well-altered fake Id’s attesting to my being a mature 19-year-old and thus able to appreciate the fine art and refreshments.

I don’t recall the name of the movie, nor the actors, nor the theme of the story. Sometimes what seems to be a good use of time at the moment turns out not to be so. Such is life, but regrets never accomplished anything.

My point for revisiting that moment in time was the appropriateness of the theme. While we may have loved the music, and can still sing all the words, we didn’t appreciate how prophetic those words were or how quickly the time between those moments and now would pass.

Now I find myself a part another song from that era.

In 1967 (FIFTY-THREE YEARS AGO) the Beatles released the song, When I’m Sixty-Four. At the time of its release, me and most of my friends were eleven years old. Old people were sixty-four. Antique cars were sixty-four. Dinosaurs were sixty-four.

I could not grasp the concept of BEING sixty-four.

Now I am fast approaching sixty-four.

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me?
When I’m sixty-four?”

Yet even as I approach this now seemingly young age–60 is the new 40, or so I tell myself–the lyrics and music of those days still reside, alive and well-cared for, deep in my memory.

Of all the many songs and artists of those days— Neil Diamond, Harry Chapin, Chicago, Blood, Sweat, & Tears—Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel remain my favorites. Even today, with my fingers battered and bruised from an active life, tinged with arthritis, I can still pick up my guitar and play the songs.

Simon had a way with words and a masterful ear for setting music to his poetic lines. One of my favorites, interestingly enough also about the aging process although that was far from my mind back then, is the song Old Friends from the Bookends album.

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends

Old friends
Winter companions
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends


Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

Time it was
And what a time it was
It was. ..
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago. .. it must be. ..
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

(Music and Lyrics by Paul Simon)

Sixty-four a moment away, seventy on the horizon…preserve your memories and sing the songs of your halcyon days. We will never pass this way again.

“They’re the Young Generation (and they’ve got something to say)

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” President John F. Kennedy 

The winds of change—unstoppable and inevitable—course through these United States.  Often such change begins with destruction of what was, scattering the pieces of the past askew. But like a forest fire destroying lives to prolong life, the devastation brings opportunity.

In 2016 anger drove many Americans to abandon principals—to ignite the flames of destruction—in exchange for a firestorm named Trump. They believed the mere act of burning down the past would set it right. 

But even a devastating fire leaves some things unharmed. It does not destroy all the trees.

This election will not be decided by people like myself who will vote for anyone but Donald Trump.

This election will not be decided by those who would grant Trump the Presidency without the benefit of an election.

This election will not be decided by those who have already made up their minds.

This election will be decided by a new generation. And they have the clarity of the past to measure the need for real, rational change.

History may not repeat, but it rhymes (a quote attributed to Mark Twain but who knows?) Here, the rhyme is the rise of a new generation to seize the mantle of leadership.

Men like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders represent those of the Kennedy age who have served their country as they saw fit to do it. While I may not agree with everything they represent, they have been men of integrity. Not perfect, not flawless, but committed to fundamental honesty.

It is time they recognize the moment to pass the torch has arrived.

Pete Buttigieg ( well-educated, articulate, Navy veteran) and Amy Klobuchar (an accomplished lawyer and Senator) represent the rise of a new generation. Their resumes read like the American dream, striving for excellence.

While John Kennedy’s generation rose to preeminence tempered by World War II and the Cold War, this new generation is tempered by asymmetric warfare, instant communication, climate change, a more vibrant global economy, and complex–in some cases nuclear armed–geopolitics.

There has never been a time more critical for a cerebral President, attuned to embracing complexities, than now.

In 1959, during the race between Kennedy and Nixon, Kennedy’s Catholicism posed a major issue for voters. His youth posed another. These were divisive issues upon which many voters based their decisions. Yet that generation rose to the challenge.

In 1960, the idea that someday there would be a Black President was the stuff of disbelief for some and disaster for others.

Times changed and it came to pass.

Now, there is the real chance of a woman or a gay person occupying the White House. That this possibility exists is a good thing, that some will consider these salient issues upon which to base their votes shows we still have a ways to go.

And the only way we will get there is to learn from the past, but look forward to the future.

I, for one, am excited by the prospect of a new generation of American Leadership.

Ode to a Cracked Pot

Donald, Donald, orange bright
In the forests of the night
What immoral hand or eye,
Could frame they fearful symmetry?

In what distant deep or skies
Burnt the ire of thine eyes?
On what lies dare thee conspire
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could place the evil in thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat
What dread hair & and what damaged feet?

What the hammer? What the chain,
In what madness churns thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare create thy pompous ass?

When the Senate gave up their spears
And abandoned honor in their tears
Did the devil smile his work to see?
Did he rejoice in making thee?

Donald, Donald burning bright,
In our country you haunt the night
What immoral hand or eye
Dare inflict us with your symmetry?

Author’s note: Apologies to William Blake and John Keats for borrowing their magnificent words and to Dan Walsh who, if he reads this, will forever regret introducing me to their work.

An Economic Change of Course

Well, there you have it. Donald J. Trump, in three short years, has performed a miracle with the State of the Economy.

His economic policies have sent the economy soaring, the stock market to new records, and righted the imbalance in trade agreements.

He took what was a country on the brink of disaster, one brought on by the policies of the previous administration, and saved the day.

But, like the line from my favorite movie, he would also warn you to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” He doesn’t want you to look beyond the spectacle of his performance.

The issue is not whether the gains he claims are true—some are and he polished some to make them sound good—but whether his policies are responsible.

And therein lies the problem.

As anyone with a basic understanding of economics would know, the American economy is like a giant ship in the ocean.  Sometimes it is running at full speed with a following ocean and sometimes it is battered by storms.

No matter the speed at which it travels, turning this ship requires planning. One cannot just stop and head in a different direction. The economy can react and adjust course, but this all takes time. And there are other ships on this ocean—China, Europe, Southeast Asia—requiring course adjustments and communication.

Mr. Trump’s policies—the course corrections he has ordered—are just now turning the ship on its new course. Here is one example. His corporate tax cuts—which poured billions of dollars back into the profit margins of corporations—drove the stock market up, not the new course he set.

Where this course will take us is the issue. Mr. Trump is betting companies will pour their profits into new growth. Sounds hauntingly similar to another course correction set by a different President, Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics. The trickle never happened and the economy foundered on a rocky shoal.

Mr. Trump inherited an economy showing consistent growth in both employment and GDP. Instead of touting his “business” acumen and claiming to build on this, his megalomaniac ego demands he claim all the credit. Mr. Trump may be the captain of this ship, but if he doesn’t instill confidence and loyalty in the crew—even those who might disagree with him—the ship will founder.

This election will be decided by those who could not vote for Hillary, taking a risk on an untested entity, and by those who take the time to understand that the complexities of our nation require more than grandiose claims.

I fear we may steam at full speed toward another rocky shoal demanding it gets out of our way since this Captain cannot be wrong.

If you do nothing else significant this year, VOTE. Voting is the single most patriotic act within everyone’s power. Indeed it is a right paid for by great sacrifice worthy of being exercised.

Every vote matters!

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the real numbers. https://apnews.com/3750c39f92c817a6790098be323142df

Confessions of a Reading Junkie

T’is true: there’s magic in the web of it.

William Shakespeare The Tempest

My name is Joe, and I am a Kindle-aholic. The addiction to reading anything and everything has plagued me all my life, long before this devil device came along. Kindle opened a whole new dimension to my addiction.

It all began with a book my grandfather gave me. A compendium of condensed stories; The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver’s Travels, Huckleberry Finn. I would carry the book with me everywhere.

Elementary school brought me the world of the Hardy Boys, more Mark Twain, more and more worlds to explore by the mere turning of a page. Reader’s Digest added to the mix. I even read the Encyclopedia Britannica (surely an early indication of my future addiction.)

Reading became an integral part of my world.

When I traveled, I would almost fill a separate suitcase, requiring four or five books just for a week’s trip. The thought of being without something to read made me tremble with terror. I could not bear the thought of being without a book.

I recall one trip to Barbados, where I did not bring enough books to read. I found myself desperate, almost willing to grab a dog-eared copy of some romance novel left behind on the beach just to have something, anything, to read.

But fate intervened at the last moment.

In the hotel room—this was a Marriott hotel—was a copy of J. Willard Marriott’s biography. The whole place got started with an A&W Root beer stand. Who knew? Now I did. Alongside the biography in the nightstand was The Book of Mormon—no Gideon’s Bible here, although I’ve read that as well on another ill-planned expedition—Marriot was a Mormon and promoted his flavor of religion.

This book is a frightening read. In the dark, a reading light cannot ward off the bizarre contents of this most terrifying of religious tracts.

Back then, lacking a book would force me to seek one out at any cost. Bookstores were my suppliers. Then, when my career required me to travel over two hours each day in my commute, I discovered audiobooks.

It got to where I did not even look at the titles in the library. I would just grab a handful and head out. It got me strange looks from the librarian. But I feared the terror of being stuck in five o’clock rush hour traffic, moving three miles per hour, and the book ending more than a librarian’s disdain.

Perish the thought. On a side note, did you know there are audio cookbooks? There are. I listened to one and learned a few things, arriving home starving.

But what put my addiction into overdrive was the invention of two things; the Internet (with its insidious links) and my acquisition of a Kindle Reader.

No more taking notes about other books I might want to read, no more wandering libraries or bookstores, no more looking for old favorites to reread hidden in stacks of books all over my house.

Oh no, not for me. All I needed was a Wi-Fi connection and my thumb, and I could buy just about any book ever written.

Read about a book in a footnote, one-click buy it.

Read a list of other books by the same author, one-click buy it.

Read a list of similar books to the one I just finished reading, one-click buy it.

One-click buy it, one-click buy it, one-click buy it.

On my Kindle device, I now have 189 books. I have the added enhanced reading addiction where I always have two or three books going at once. Since I’ve owned the device, the number of books grows geometrically. The chances of the total reaching zero is, well frankly, zero.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail, where every ounce of weight is evaluated for its necessity and usefulness, I carried my Kindle!

On top of my addiction to reading, I’ve followed a tragic but common path. Now I’ve WRITTEN books available on Kindle for others to join me in this affliction.

(Here is the link for those of you ready to one-click buy it. https://www.Amazon.com/Joe-Broadmeadow/e/B00OWPE9GU)

They say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. I know this is true, I read it in a book.

There is a special place in hell for those who have made it so easy to feed my reading habit, and when I join them there, I promise to bring plenty of good books to read.

Now do yourself a favor, and one-click buy it!

https://www.amazon.com/Joe-Broadmeadow/e/B00OWPE9GU

Hidden in Plain Sight

In a classic case of the “we differ from everyone else” mentality of some elected political figures, another gem of a bill has made it to a committee in the Rhode Island State House.

House Bill H-7203

Introduced by Williams, Lombardi, Vella-Wilkinson, Cassar, and Almeida

The act would allow an exemption for certain state officials, elected representatives, and other municipal and state employees from the law restricting tinted windows on motor vehicles.

It adds a new section to the law on tinted windows with the following language;

(9) Any privately owned motor vehicle which is owned by an individual employed as a municipal or state police officer, firefighter, judge of a state court, or any elected member of the Rhode Island general assembly

Williams is quoted in several news articles defending the proposed legislation.

“Better safe than sorry,” Williams said. “When we are in our cars and on our private time, we should still be able to have that feeling of, ‘I am OK, because that person that is following me may not know it is me.’”

“We have a lot of disgruntled individuals,” Williams said. “In the court system, law enforcement, and the General Assembly, we get a bum rap, and we can face retaliation when we least expect it. When folks are on personal time, we are targeted.”

Where do I begin?

Once again a political figure sees themselves as requiring special treatment because of the demands of the position. A position they sought and accepted when elected.

Now no individual should face physical threats for acting in their official capacity. We already have laws in place to protect against such behavior. What this legislation does is nothing more than attempt to add another shield between the public and the representatives they elected to office.

Setting aside for the moment the self-aggrandizing implications of such attitudes, let’s look at this from a practical perspective.

If only legislators or certain public officials can have vehicles with these tinted windows, finding them out of the thousands of other vehicles on the road just became easier.

If Representative Anastasia Williams and her co-sponsors have concerns with their safety, and fear being identified while driving their vehicles, removing the special license plates they display from their cars might help. Perhaps this didn’t occur to her but the plates would not benefit from this legislative exemption.

Why do they need special plates in the first place? What might be the motivation behind that, never mind that it mitigates the tinted window shield effect.

No, Representative Williams, tinted windows will not protect you from those who might take exception to your politics or position. When one is in the public service, it goes with the territory.

If someone follows you, or you feel threatened, call the police or drive to a police station. I do not expect you to tolerate physical intimidation, but there’s a difference between threats and the public’s right to express their displeasure with your actions as a representative.

You work for us. We didn’t hire you to insulate yourself from us.