Friday, July 22, 2016


We watched the Republican convention again on Tuesday night, and I managed to not throw a shoe at the TV, even though I was very tempted to do so.

The big new on Monday, of course, was the speech that Malania stole from Michelle Obama, even though professional speechwriters had crafted a very satisfactory ORIGINAL speech for her.

Both Donald Jr. and Chris Christie brought up Benghazi again, even though SEVEN separate investigations have proven that neither Hillary nor the Obama administration have done anything wrong. The most recent committee, chaired by Trey Gowdy, has lasted two years, and has cost tax payers $7 million. Several members of the committee have admitted that the committee has been conducting a “witch hunt” against Hillary, and Gowdy has been found guilty of altering documents to promote his cause.

Having the mothers of 2 of the victims at Benghazi speak at the convention would have to be classified as a very tacky move, but since the Republicans literally has nothing else positive to say or report, their only option is to bash “the other guys.”

Truth be told, the Benghazi incidentally is entirely the fault of the Republican in Congress.

In 2011, Congress cut $128 million from the administration's request for embassy security funding, and House Republicans cut $331 million in funding for security in 2012, even though Hillary Clinton warned them that it would be a very bad idea.

then ...

Banghazi happened.

Naturally, the GOP is blaming Hillary and Obama.

Clinton's emails have also gotten a lot of attention from conservatives, but exhaustive investigation by both the State Department and the FBI found no wrong doing on Hillary's part. Her two predecessors in the state department also used private email servers, and Gowdy himself STILL uses a private email server while conducting official business.

To put Benghazi in perspective, there were THIRTEEN embassy attacks when George W. Bush was President, and 60 people died. NONE of them were investigated by members of Congress.

Although 90% of the American public knows that we need better gun laws, the GOP trotted out Chris Cox from the NRA to claim that the gun laws are fine just the way they are. It’s good to be concerned about the 4 people killed at Benghazi, but it’s more important to be concerned about the 30,000 people that are killed every year in this country by guns. Even after the worst mass murder in our history occurred recently in Orlando, the Republicans in Congress did NOTHING about gun violence, in spite of the fact that the Democrats in the Senate staged a filibuster, and the Democrats in the House staged a sit in, in an attempt to force a vote.

During the prime time broadcast in Cleveland on Tuesday night, cameras scanned the audience, and revealed the fact that an awful lot of seats were empty. A brave woman carried in a banner that denounced racism, but she was quickly surrounded by a handful of bigoted attendees, who are unlikely to admit that racism exists in the Republican Party.

Even though 97% of the scientists in our country admit that global warming is real, the Republicans still cling to dirty energy. A number of attendees had signs that read “Trump digs coal”. A high percentage of the pollution in our country comes from coal fired power plants. Coal plants are the nation's top source of carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global warming.

If you included the economic costs of coal pollution, you'll discover that it is around $100 billion a year in America.

If you've been watching the Republican convention at all, you've come to the realization that the circus has, indeed, come to town. What was striking about all of the prime time speakers at the convention is that NONE of them (including Trump himself) offered ANY concrete solutions to the problems that we all face. True to form, Trump also stated in his closing address that only HE was able to fix America’s problems.

Several pundits this morning mentioned that they would have preferred his speech in the original German, since its tone was strikingly similar to words that were spoken in Germany in the 1930’s.

Now that the circus has folded up its tent and left town, you’re still going to hear a lot about both Benghazi and Hllary’s emails since the Republican Party is unlikely to come up with much that’s positive before the November election. In fact, if you read the 2016 Republican platform, you’d swear that it was 1956 again, but Ike is nowhere in sight. It’s not exactly an optimistic document. Strangely enough, the 1956 Republican platform reads a LOT like the 2016 DEMOCRATIC platform.

You’re going to hear a lot about both Benghazi and Hillary’s emails right up until Election Day, and even long after President Clinton is sworn in to office. If you want the truth about Benghazi, don’t expect to get if from FOX “news”. Hopefully, this article will be of help to you.

Friday, July 15, 2016

those darn Jews

Sharon just finished reading “Inmate 1818”, written by a Holocaust survivor named Bernard Otterman. The book is actually a compilation of 12 short stories that were inspired by the Holocaust and its aftermath. Like virtually all books about the Holocaust, it makes for very compelling reading. Since Sharon had not previously read Elie Wiesel’s “Night” or Victor Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning”, I have both of them on order from the local library. Since Mr. Wiesel just died on July 2 of this year, the reserved list for “Night” is very lengthy. Although he wrote a total of 57 books, “Night” is the one that is best known by the general public.

Although we’re all familiar with many of the details of the Holocaust, the best way to get a strong perspective on the atrocities committed by the Nazis is to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, or the llinois Holocaust Museum and Education Centerin Skokie, Illinois. I’ve been to both of them, and found them to be very informative. The Skokie museum was especially interesting due to the fact that it houses an authentic railroad car that was used to transport Jews to the various concentration camps used by the Nazis.

If you live on the East Coast, you may also want to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Discrimination against Jewish people started long before the rise of the Nazis. In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain expelled practicing Jews from Spain. Their order was titled the Alhambra Decree, and was also known as the Edict of Expulsion. Jews were allowed to stay if they converted to the Catholic faith, and over 200,000 of them did so. It is estimated that up to 100,000 Jews moved from Spain. The punishment for Jews who did not convert or leave was summary execution.

The origins of the Holocaust in Germany did not actually start in Germany. The origins actually started in the good old USA.

The theory of “the master race” is an outgrowth of the philosophy of eugenics. The modern practice of eugenics emerged in the early part of the 20th century at roughly the same time in both England and America. During that same time period, anti-Semitism was a big problem in America, as exemplified by none other than Henry Ford, whose publication of “The International Jew” in the early 1920’s was an inspiration to Adolf Hitler, who had a picture of Henry Ford on the wall of his office in Berlin. Not surprisingly, the KKK was the strongest in our country in the 1920’’s. The 1923 Konclave in Kokomo, Indiana was the largest ever held in this country, with over 100,000 people in attendance.

Although the second wave of the KKK was the most fervent anti-Jewish group, the current itineration of the group has sworn to uphold “Christian morality”, even though virtually every Christian denomination has condemned the group. The current national director of the KKK a Baptist pastor named Thomas Robb, who was “awakened to the myth of the Holocaust” when he was 13. While still in high school, he was an active member of the John Birch Society, the predecessor to today’s Tea Party.

Henry Ford was far from the only prominent American in America who didn’t like Jews. Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was the public spokesman for the America First Committee, which opposed involvement in the war in Europe. Although Lindbergh never ran for office, an intriguing look at what a Lindbergh Presidency would have been like can be found in Philip Roth’s “the plot against America”.

After Kristallnacht occurred on November 10, 1938, it became obvious to German Jews that they needed to leave the country, but they received little, if any, help from other countries in the world. One of the most glaring examples of world indifference was the voyage of the MS St. Louis,which set sail from Hamburg to Havana on May 13, 1939 with 937 refugees from Nazi Germany. Then, as now, refugees were looked upon with distrust, and Cuba refused to allow the ship to dock there. After being denied entry there, the ship went to the United States, which also refused to allow the refuges to disembark. After Canada also refused to allow the boat to dock, it returned to Germany, where SOME of the refugees were taken in by other European countries. Ultimately, though, more that 200 of the refugees died in Nazi concentration camps.

Although Donald Trump and the FOX network have fanned the flames of Islamophobia in this country, the reality is that more Jews in America are victims of hate crimes than Muslims. According to the most recent date from the FBI, there were 1140 victims of religious hate crimes in our country in 2014, and 57% were against Jews. Muslims amounted to 16% of the total, and other groups (including Catholics) made up the balance. All told, the FBI discovered a grand total of 7164 hate crimes in 2014. Of that total, nearly half were due to bias against race, and 66% of those were due to anti-black bias.

Oddly enough, references about Jews are largely absent from the news today, so why it is important to consider what happened in the past to a religious group that constitutes .2% of the world’s population (14.2 million people)? At its peak in 1939, the world Jewish population was 17 million, but the Holocaust eliminated 6,000,000 Jewish people, bringing the total to 11,000,000. Of the 14,000,000 that are alive today, roughly half live in the United States.

The answer to that question is that the bigotry that condemned those 6,000,000 people to their deaths is still very much alive today, and we need to do as much as we can to contain it. The best way to do that is by voting for the right people.

The Republican National convention starts this week in Cleveland. Although I plan to watch at least a portion of it so that I can watch the chaos unfold, it’s obvious by now that NONE of the Republicans running for office in November should be elected, and Donald Trump is, by far, the worst of the bunch. Any political group that discriminates against people of a certain religion, or discriminate against people because of their skin color, their national origin, their sexual orientation, or their gender, is simply not fit for office.


Monday, July 11, 2016

why I don't watch television, part 2

About three years ago, I wrote a short article about the troubles that I’ve had trying to watch television:

this is WAY too complicated

Since I published that article, we have moved from Flagstaff to Tucson, exactly one year ago. Although we retained Century Link as our internet provider, we changed to Comcast for our television network because Direct TV (with the channels that Sharon liked) was no longer available in Tucson.

In February of this year, we BREIFLY switched our cell phone service from Sprint to T-mobile, which was an absolute disaster. I published the gory details of that episode on March 9 of this year. In the end, everything worked out fine. We switched back to Sprint, and both of us now have smart phones, which has made our lives a lot easier.

Roughly three weeks ago, I made the mistake of upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10, which turned out to be another disaster. The net result of THAT change is that the only home computer that I now have is a 9 year old laptop that I borrowed from our son. Fortunately, the brand new router that we got from Century Link gives us Wi-Fi capabilities on our phones, which takes care of virtually all our internet needs. If I need to write a lengthy article, the country library (with its brand new computers) is only about 3 miles away.

Now, back to the television …

In January, I sold our aging surround sound system (which we were no longer using) to the local pawn shop for $200, and used that money to buy a new “smart” flat screen TV for roughly the same amount of money. Sharon wanted to have everything controlled with one remote, so she called Comcast out to the house to guide her through it all.

So far, so good.

The only problem was that we could no longer get the DVD player to work. To fix THAT problem, I had to buy a new DVD player that had HDMI connections. In order to get the DVD player to work, we need to use the Vizio remote that came with the TV (after we have used the Comcast remote to turn it on) to switch to the HDMI2 mode, and then we need to use the remote that came with the DVD player to make it all work.

So far, so good.

Sharon now decided that she wanted to add Netflix. After putting in her password, Netflix did not work.


This morning, she called Comcast and asked them to walk her through the operation of the channel. After they checked the connection on their end, they asked her to call Century Link due to the fact that Netflix needed Wi-Fi to work. On the bottom of our router are three separate combinations of numbers. One is the key/password, another is the WPS pin, and the third is the administrator password. As it turns out, the key/password is the one that we needed. After we finally got THAT number entered correctly, they advised us to call Visio, who finally was able to get Sharon to where she wanted to go. After that, it only took one more phone call (to our daughter) to help navigate through the different channels.

Now that the television is finally working to our satisfaction, we've decided that we are NEVER MOVING AGAIN.!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

the devil made me do it

I’ve never been terribly superstitious about numbers, even though my new bride and I got hit by a deer on our honeymoon – on Friday the 13th. Our first home together was just off of Highway 13 in West Paul, Minnesota, and our first pet was a black cat.

I wrote about triskaidekaphobia more than 7 years ago. The link below will help you explore other superstitions that are given credence to around the world.

do you feel lucky,punk?

Although the Muslim religion is the world’s single most popular religion (with 1.3 billion adherents), Christianity actually has the most in total, (at 2.1 billion) if you lump the 1.2 billion Catholics with the other Christian religions. For a lot of Christians, the number 666 takes on special significance because it is the sign of the devil. The verse confirming that the “number of the beast” is 666 is found (ironically enough) in chapter 13 of the book of Revelations.

For a period of time, my sister’s telephone exchange in Los Angeles was 666 (her full number was 213-666-xxxx). That fact never bothered either one of us, and it’s unlikely that it ever bother too many people in “tinseltown”


The folks who live in the Bible Belt would likely be horrified if “666” somehow found its way into their phone numbers. For a period of time, it did. The town of Reeves, Louisiana (deep in the Bible Belt) actually DID have a 666 area code for a period of time, starting in the 1960’s. After much lobbying by the folks in town, the phone company finally agreed to change the number in 2007 to one that it less controversial – 749.

Here’s a few other little known facts about “the sign of the devil”:

1- on 6/6/06, the average 30 year mortgage in America was 6.66 %

2 – The first Apple computer retailed for $666.66 due to the fact that Steve Wozniak picked the price because it was easy to type with one finger.

3 – If you add up the numbers on a roulette wheel (0 through 36) you’ll discover that they add up to 666

4- When King Solomon was reigning, he collected 666 talents of gold every year (see 1 Kings 10:14) , which works out to about 60 pounds.

5 - In the DaVinci Code, Dan Brown listed the number of panes of glass in the Louvre as 666, which is actually pretty close (it’s 673)

6 – Stanley Kubrick, producer and director of 2001, died 666 days before the start of the year 2001.

7 – Although Chinese people consider the number “4” to be unlucky (because it rhymes with the Mandarin word for death) they actually consider “666” to be a lucky number. As a matter of fact, some people actually pay extra to include the number in their phone numbers.

If the number “666” somehow makes its way into your life, don’t be too concerned about it. There’s always the possibility that it could be a hell of a lucky number for you.