Trump’s main 100-day accomplishment is to make us all look bad in front of the world…

April 30, 2017

Lots of writing and talk about what Donald Trump has accomplished or not accomplished in his first 100 days as president.

I would say one thing he has accomplished is embarrassing the United States in front of the whole world. And I thought George W. Bush did that. But W was a scholar compared to Trump.

Trump has even publicly admitted in interviews that first Health Care legislation was (for himself) surprisingly complicated’ and that the presidency itself was “more complicated” than he thought it would be.

Well, I’ll be. It’s not like selling snake oil or using OPM (other people’s money) and then declaring bankruptcy right after he grabbed his own take.

The only things Trump has going for him are that he is unpredictable, which may sow some confusion in the minds of our adversaries (but unfortunately our friends too) and the fact that since he has no real ideology he is much more flexible than most presidents have been able to be. He does seem, however, to cling to the anti-knowledge base. It’s hard to ignore people who accept you unconditionally (so far).

With his bluster, his ignorance, and his terrible bad manners (he makes the late Don Rickles seem like milk toast), Trump has given a black eye to America.

And so, how parents do you teach your kids how one should behave? I mean do you suggest they model themselves after the leader of our country?

From what I read, Trump’s tax plan is a giveaway to the rich. He would say that is fake news. Well of course some of the analyses of his plan, which by the way some say is not detailed enough to call a plan, may well be partisan, but it seems that it is basically the old worn out “trickle down” theory. And it runs up the deficit even further, something Republicans (Trump you recall plays Republican) say that they are against.

But I think the Republican plan always is to starve the beast (of revenue) in order to kill entitlement programs (things that help people and things that even Republicans or their constituents take advantage of even if they don’t talk about that much) by sheer lack of money without the need of repealing the laws that make them possible.

My two main personal concerns about Trump at the moment are his anti-environmental moves, such as appointing someone to run the EPA whose goal is to repeal environmental regulations and shut the agency down, and his bluster against North Korea or other enemies. I think it is better to be strong, state your policy once, and only act when necessary — and let the blowhards on the opposite side run out of breath.

I mean what if we just ignored Kim Jon Un (or whatever his name is), except when necessary we just lobbed our own missile at him or had him offed (clandestinely of course)?

Okay, what I really mean is we should have a clear foreign policy on North Korea. Beyond that we do not need to engage in bluster. Let the other idiot have his say and wear himself out. We should behind the scenes have our own options how to deal with the threat. With all the disconnect going on right now in the Trump administration and the discord between the congress and president and within the Republican party (not to mention of course between the Republicans and Democrats) it seems doubtful there are any clearly-formulated and active defense strategies.

Trump or his counterpart in North Korea might overreact to provocation — that is the danger.

The bombing of the airfield in Syria but then no followup to me was a waste of time (It may have been more of a message to North Korea, but I think that is a heck of a policy to punish one nation for the acts of another (reminds me of W invading Iraq after terrorists staged out of Afghanistan and from and possibly supported by Saudi Arabia attacked us on 9/11).

And the claiming an armada was already under way to the waters off North Korea when in fact apparently the Navy and the White House were not in sync and the ships in fact had to or at least were ordered to take part in exercises off Australia, well that made Trump look goofy I thought — and did not help in our credibility with friends or enemies.

Trump and more importantly the rest of us may survive this first four-year term, but so far it is painful and at times scary.

One columnist said, though, that it was not any safer to have a buffoon like W in charge because he disguised evil.

At times, too many times, it seems as if Trump is pure evil on constant display.

Occasionally he goes into his concern for people and children and respect for women mode — but it is hard to reconcile from the Trump we know from all of his well-recorded history and his current every-day actions.


Why do we ‘love’ our guns so much? Protection is one reason…

April 29, 2017

Just read an article on CNN in which a correspondent who is now a U.S. citizen but who is originally from India, the land of non-violent resistance Gandhi style, wanted to determine what those in other parts of the world consider is the reason behind America’s “love affair” with guns.

 

So she went to an NRA confab.

 

She claims although she did not completely get her head around it all, she did come away with “much to consider”.

 

To boil it down, I think she found that some of the reasons law-abiding citizens want to own their own guns include: self-protection (the police may not always be available in time), the feeling of freedom from an overpowering government that would run every aspect of one’s life, and sport shooting.

 

(And not to make a sick, sick joke, but by “sport shooting” I was not referring to drive by shootings.)

 

 

One person indicated to her that it is black people who of all people should support the right to keep and bear arms, claiming that the notion of gun control was really a device to keep control of ex slaves after the Civil War (I’m not clear on the history of that, but the correspondent herself noted that when the former British colonial masters took over India they instituted strict gun control).

 

I know the NRA and others often proclaim that if you outlaw guns then only the outlaws will have guns. There is some logic there alright. If you drive toward the Mexican border you will see signs that warn you that firearms are illegal in Mexico. Doesn’t seem to stem the tide of narco gun violence down there does it?

 

The writer said that people in her native India often ask: what is this obsession Americans have with owning guns?

 

I myself was asked that question on one of my trips to Spain by some Spanish people. Spain as I understand it has fairly strict gun control.

 

 

But I listened to the local news in Spain and I’ll be darned, they have armed robberies there too.

 

 

Whatever, I will concede that gun violence seems to be out of hand in our American society.

Guns have been part of our culture. We broke away from Great Britain via gun-toting colonists who fought the revolution.

 

 

Also it was the way we settled the continent. Law and order did not come to the territories until after they were settled and local governments were set up. In the meantime it was like every man for himself, whereas in Canada, the King or the Queen’s law came first (at least that is what I was taught in a comparative government class in college).

 

 Canada has much less gun violence than we do here in the U.S. (but they have had some incidents in relatively recent times).

 

 

And of course we have that Second Amendment in our Constitution that is read by most as ensuring that we all have a right to carry our own heat. I’ve written so much, well at least so many times, about the ambiguity of that one-sentence amendment that I won’t bother repeating it here. I still support the Second Amendment, although that incident in Connecticut in which a whole classroom of school children were murdered just about did it for me.

 

 

There has to be sensible gun control and it needs to be relatively difficult — not impossible — to obtain guns and people should have to prove they can handle them safely and there should be no gun-show or mail order loopholes. President Kennedy was assassinated with a mail-order rifle. And I don’t know how many mass shooting perpetrators or other murderers have gotten their weapons via a gun show (have not tied to look that up).

 

 

Oh, and back to India: maybe those “non-violent” people can’t understand our obsession with guns but you know if women there were armed maybe they could go about without fearing gang rapes so prevalent in India’s “non-violent” culture.

 

 

p.s.

 

The CNN article that inspired my post: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/world/indian-immigrant-nra-convention/index.html

 

 

I would not have been able to have guns in the house when my children were growing up. I would not have been able to sleep or be anywhere else knowing that somehow one of them might accidentally shoot themselves — so many tragic reports of children of police officers having deadly mishaps.

 

 

But I know years ago an in-law of mine said he always carried a gun under the seat of his car when travelling out on the open road, particularly in places like the wide-open desert. Today as I drive a big truck through wide-open deserts and questionable neighborhoods in inner cities, I sometimes wonder….

 

 

 

 


This nation should be for real people not artificial people called corporations…

April 24, 2017

So through tax incentives president Trump was able to strike a deal to save 800 Carrier Corp. jobs in Indiana but 700 are still headed to Mexico, or so the story goes. A  story I read said that at least one (and I imagine many more) employees don’t fault Trump for not saving all the jobs, but instead Carrier itself. Of course Carrier is a corporation not a person — oh, that’s right our Supreme Court does consider corporations people with all the rights that come with that designation. I had always thought a corporation was only a person in a strict legal sense involving liability and legal contracts and such, not individual human civil liberties guaranteed in our Constitution, but I digress.

(Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who granted tax breaks, was not able to save those lost jobs in his state either. I have read various stories about the exact number of Carrier jobs going to Mexico and some say thousands. The number is not really important for this little essay, just the fact that it seems difficult to save American jobs.)

Yeah, I fault Carrier too. I fault all corporations who shun American workers but take advantage of the protections offered by their home country made possible by the blood, sweat, and tears of working people.

And it just so happens I pull a refrigerated big truck trailer, the refer unit of which is, you guessed it, a Carrier.

But of course corporations are not benevolent societies or charities. They depend upon profit and in the global marketplace they tend to move their production to where the labor is cheapest. Sometimes that changes. An example, relatively cheap labor has moved from China to Vietnam.

If Mexico ever got its act together for its people it might not have such cheap labor. Of course low-wage jobs are better than none at all.

Those Carrier employees young enough will move on, to other factories, to other work pursuits.

Maybe the lesson to be learned is don’t depend upon one employer.

Who wants to be a slave to one entity?

And the children of those workers are not entering into a world where you just go to high school and then go to work at the factory. And lucky them I would say.

When I was in high school in the mid to late 60’s it seemed about half the people in the town where I lived worked at one saw mill/wood products factory and the other half worked at another. There was actually more than two of them, but two large ones. Well much of that work is no longer there. But the town still is. In fact it has grown.

Today’s young adults really do have to get a better education than was required before to make a living — and this education can take many forms, from traditional college to special technologies and maybe a combination of traditional higher education but with a bent toward technology.

Factory work once seemed enticing because it was steady (for the most part) and paid well (for the most part). But you know? I had my time (thankfully short) in a factory. After that it was never enticing.

Even with the expansion of job-robbing technology we still have the human element. And this nation is for we humans, we workers, not the artificial humans called corporations.

Don’t depend upon Trump as a savior. Most of his talk was just campaign rhetoric and he has his hands full now with things that much to his surprise he has found “complex” (his own word in his own limited vocabulary) and difficult.

As always, one has to depend upon one’s self.


With the seeming demise of retail we are losing our culture…

April 22, 2017

For the most part I have never enjoyed shopping, well maybe unless I am getting something special for myself or something I desperately need — well then again, I can get excited about buying gifts for others too. But even if I am not a shopper per se I hate to see the demise of the retail trade. But that is what is in the news.

Many small retailers were pushed out by the larger retailers. But now the larger retailers are being pushed out big time by online shopping with the online behemoth Amazon getting much of the business.

There does not seem to be much of a future in being a retail sales clerk.

But that career has been in trouble for a long time. Way back in the 1970s I remember seeing members of the retail clerks union picketing a Montgomery Ward store (I just read that firm is history — no one told me). But I knew some union carpenters who walked right past them without a thought — if you need a saw or a pair of work gloves or overalls or camping equipment or whatever you go to where they have it. You gotta live.

That was before the internet and before online shopping.

But even then there was not really a future in being a retail clerk. I think it was really a job for teenagers or some family member, often a woman then, who was simply supplementing the major source of income for the family.

On the other hand, when I was a little tyke I think the man who lived next door worked in a department store.

Also when I was in high school the town we lived in had its own department store, a locally-owned establishment. I remember a beyond-middle-aged clerk who sold me my gym clothes. I’ll forgive him for putting two left gym shoes in the box resulting in major embarrassment to me my first day of high school gym class, or P.E. as we called it then. That same man also sold women’s undergarments — so I guess the mix-up could have been worse.

Dad always liked to patronize the local stores, such as the hardware store on Main Street, and since he was into photography, for his work and for family stuff, he liked to patronize a local photo studio/camera shop.

I thought the guys at the hardware store were nice and helpful and I am sure my dad thought them even more so in that he spoke their lingo more than I.

The photo place, not so much. I found the old guy to be a kind of crank.

And that was the way for a  lot of local merchants. They would go on and on about how people were ripping them off, supposedly snatching stuff when they were not looking and generally letting their little ones run amok. And often the little local stores at the time did not have a wide selection. It was common for people to go either north or south to the neighboring and larger towns that had shopping centers with larger stores.

One thing I like about little stores, particularly things like the old-fashioned hardware store, is that those old boys (girls too sometimes, but not so much then maybe) could not only sell you something but could advise you on how to use it. When the big box stores came in they sometimes hired people who through no fault of their own did not know much about what they were selling. In some cases I think that situation improved at some places over time.

Anyway, even though I myself have not always been a shopping fan, the loss of the shopping experience I realize is a major loss or will be in our culture.

I mean shopping is part of the history of all civilizations I think.

Remember the ancient bazaars, Scarborough Fair, Market Street in San Francisco in maybe the 1950s, with the Emporium, City of Paris, Macy’s.

People went shopping not just to get goods but to socialize and patronize eating establishments and walk around and enjoy their time on earth.

But in this crazy fast-paced world where everyone is racing to who knows where and gets stuck in traffic in the process and where retail service is spotty — some clerk’s can’t even figure out a discount if the computer goes haywire — it is so much easier to get on the smart phone and order.

I think we’re losing something here. And it is not just jobs.

p.s.

Well don’t write off retail just yet. Just today I passed by a new shopping center going in with advertising for a sporting goods store due to open soon.

 


The modern way: don’t refashion the truth, just ignore it…

April 21, 2017

I unabashedly steal some words from Maureen Dowd’s column in the New York Times (but at least I give her credit). She was writing about the French elections but what she wrote applies to the state of politics in the U.S. where the so-called alt-right hijacked our presidential election:

…Populists like her realize that the best tool of propaganda isn’t accuracy, but the internet and the fake. Their focus isn’t truth, only effects. And it works: Voters today don’t read long analyses; they remember forceful assertions….

She was writing about far right and nationalist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen but she could have just as well have been writing about Trump and his supporters.

Yes, I realize lying has been a tactic in politics as long as there has been politics but it seems to me that it has gone way beyond that in this time of instant communication and unfiltered social media. We are in the post-truth era when politicos don’t just try to refashion facts to fit their message or propaganda, but rather just ignore the truth altogether, knowing that their audience either A. does not know any better or B. (just as likely) could not care less.

So anyway the word from the pundits is contradictory from what I read. Ms. Le Pen has little chance of winning but she must be defeated at all costs.

And yes, it could happen here, I mean there. Liberal France could go far right in the name of holding onto old values and reserving France for the French and fighting Islamic terrorism.

The U.S. elected Donald Trump for about the same reasons: just insert U.S. for France or visa versa.

I don’t really follow French politics but as I understand it, La Pen does not espouse women’s rights per se, but she is getting support of women who are afraid of the anti-women values of extreme Islam or of the terrorists. I don’t blame them.

Again, I know little of French politics, but just like here in the good ol’ USA, I think it is too bad we have to choose between ultra liberal and ultra right or in our case we actually wound up with someone who I believe no ideology (which has some advantages) but with little knowledge of government and world affairs. And he is being heavily influenced by the far rightists or the alt-right which has no tolerance for open-mindedness.

Admittedly most of the words in this post are just meant to be dressing around Dowd’s words. Could not have said it better myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The wrong-way armada; loose lips sink ships, but loose tongues start wars…

April 19, 2017

I know President Trump has said that he is giving the military a freer hand rather than micro managing its actions in our ongoing conflicts but according to reports Tuesday it would seem either he did not know what the Navy was really doing or he and his administration spokespeople just lied.

More than a week ago the president claimed he was dispatching an armada of ships to the waters off North Korea in reaction to that wayward nation’s missile tests and continued nuclear arms development.

Working off the official word, news outlets reported it like this excerpt out of a USA Today story of April 9:

………………The aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships had been scheduled to leave from Singapore for port visits to Australia on Saturday, but Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, ordered the strike group to head north toward Korean waters instead.   ……………

But now we are being told there was some kind of confusion between the ships’ officers and the Pentagon and the administration and the press and therefore the American people (and the world) were misled. Instead the naval task force headed the other way, toward Australia after all, and only now is it headed toward North Korea.

If the ships really are headed there now I am not sure what difference it all makes but it makes one wonder how much control Trump has (and the president, a civilian, is at the top of the chain of command over the military by our constitution).

Now I realize it might not be a good tactical idea to broadcast the position of our ships but I think the American people have a right to know what is being done in our name and while I would generally applaud the idea of a president not micro managing the military as presidents have done since LBJ, I would like to think the president knows where our warships are going.

And if Trump just made that all up on the spur of the moment to put a scare into Kim Jong-Un — the totally savage and totally nutty leader of North Korea who is constantly threatening to send nuclear-tipped missiles our way — and risk war when really were not doing anything, we really have a problem. This is too serious. I mean even if North Korea’s last missile failed shortly after launching, going kerplop in the ocean, that nation has a tremendous conventional forces and might draw in China and Russia on its side.

Yeah, so maybe this having our ships go the wrong direction was a diversionary tactic and it was a good idea not to give the exact position — loose lips sink ships. But loose lips can cause war when the president makes am impromptu announcement he’s dispatching war ships to a country.

And if he dispatched the fleet in the name of a crisis of the moment that overrode congressional consideration then why did it apparently take a detour?

Now we know we cannot trust anything Trump says in this post-truth era and we know there is a problem of deliberate false reporting, and now we must suffer incorrect news coming out of our government either by design or incompetence.

Trump was lauded by many for his decisive action in the Syria bombing but now we find that it amounted to a tremendous waste of ordnance, at least I think, despite launching billions of dollars worth of Tomahawk missiles the airfield target was not rendered useless.

And then there was the mother of all bombs (short of nuclear bombs) dropped in Afghanistan this past week but are we supposed to believe it was worth it and civilian lives lost justified?

By all accounts the big bomb was a big success military wise, killing scores of the enemy — but then again the American people have been lied to before about how effective our military operations are.

And finally, congress needs to step up to the plate and reassert its constitutional authority on declaring war and presidents need to quit dispatching ships and drones and troops hither and yon like some geo-political board game.


The shift to self-driving vehicles may lead to something we can’t quite envision now…

April 17, 2017

So where is this demand for self-driving cars?

I keep reading that automakers are racing to get them on the market but I have also read there is little apparent demand for them at this time.

On the other hand, after a couple of decades of driving a big truck and many more driving my own car I’m not wild about driving.

I am not surprised that some new way of getting around is on the horizon. In fact I am surprised that for all the advances in technology in general and all the advances within the automotive industry we are still driving cars powered by internal combustion engines that despite all our new gadgets don’t seem to be all that far away from those driven say in the 1930s or ’40s or even before.

We are not flying around in miniature space crafts like in the old George Jetson cartoons of the ’60s. And here we are in 2017 getting around about the same as we did in 1960.

Yeah, I imagine it is about time for a major change, something akin to the horse and buggy to the automobile, so actually the self-driving car somehow does not seem all that revolutionary.

But something I cannot wrap my head around is how we are going to get along in the transition, with a combination of self-driving cars and manually-driven ones. There’s going to be a lot of confusion and a lot of lawsuits and maybe a lot of crashes.

The liability in such cases is uncertain at this time. We don’t have a history yet so what is the law supposed to draw on?

Of course as a truck driver I should be concerned about self-driving vehicles taking my job. Well I am already past retirement age, but still working. I’m not too concerned. I know it’s coming, there are already some test cases.

But whether it’s on the commercial end or the consumer end I’m thinking the ultimate transition will be something we cannot quite envision yet and will just evolve.

In the meantime with various “driver assist” features on cars and in the offing we are moving into a full takeover by technology I suppose.

I have read that younger people are not as tied to the automobile-driving way of life as people have been since say the 1920s when Henry Ford made it possible for darn near anyone to buy a Model T.

Today the cost of cars is so prohibitive that the supposed freedom they offer (basically freedom of movement) is no longer so attractive or even possible for many.

On the other hand, if you live away from the major metropolitan areas and mass transit, a private vehicle is almost a necessity.

Well I don’t know where all of this is going to wind up but it would be nice to retain our freedom of movement but in a much more economical and environmentally sound way. And I think that is likely within the offing, it is just hard to grasp from our vantage point.


Happy Easter and thanks again and again for your prayers and thank God…

April 16, 2017

Well happy Easter to all. I’m not doing much. Did not attend a sunrise service or go to church.

Oh, well of course I didn’t. I’m not religious. However, I am not anti-religious, and if I were I would certainly be a Christian, and I guess that is because that is part of the wider culture I was brought up in.

I tend to steer clear of addressing religion directly because it can be such a sensitive subject.

I respect the primary religions as long as I feel people are actually trying to follow the guidance of God or some supreme being or concept of one with the intent of good will toward all. I do not respect religion when it is used as a device to divide people and to intimidate people as it is in too many places.

The best education I ever got on religion was a short course I took at a Methodist church when I was maybe 13. The father of one of my friends was a Methodist minister. But he did not teach the class. A man named Bob Singh taught it. He was of the Sikh religion of India (often pronounced seek instead of sick because it sounds better in English). He wore a turban. These days many of them who wear the turbans (not all do) are confused by some as being of the Islamic faith and then in turn some people who are quick to hate further confuse them with being of that radical sect that seems to want to kill us all. Not true, the Sikhs are some of the most peace-loving and friendly and gracious people I have known. But what I got out of the class is that of the major religions all believe in pretty much the same thing and even share the same characters in their histories. So what is the problem? I often wonder. I think it’s man.

And a little bit more about my attitude toward religion. I was brought up in a non-religious household. My parents were not religious but they were moral and hardworking. It could be said that their ideas of morality came out of the tenets of Christianity. At least one of my siblings is a devout Christian and I respect that.

Enough about my own family.

I used to take on a sardonic attitude toward people who in a crisis turned to religion. But then came my own crisis several years ago when I was diagnosed with incurable but treatable and so far survivable cancer (if that makes sense). Then for a time I talked of attending church, which one I was not sure. I never did.

Have I prayed to God? Yes, at various times in my life I have, mostly on the behalf of others. I guess I was praying to some supreme force or being but I called this force God in my mind.

A little aside from this: I would think that despite what the Bible says, that man was made in God’s image, this God or supreme being would not likely resemble anything we know. I just think that. And what about this question? one I have never heard anyone ask, although many must have:

If God created us, who created God?

But there is comfort in religion. And it is natural, I think, to look to something bigger than ourselves for guidance and help and hope.

I know that when I was going through cancer treatment and it was not known if I would make it many, many people from more than one church — good Christians all — prayed on my behalf. And I feel somewhat like an ingrate by not accepting their religion with all my heart.

But of course being good Christians they will forgive that shortcoming on my part.

However, in all sincerity if you are one of them, one who prayed for me, thank you, and thank God.

Actually I think I previously offered my thanks or actually in some way I say thanks every day.

I should leave off there, but I will add, I’ll keep an open mind and who knows? I may finally accept the almighty into my heart.


In my day a ‘play date’ would be a pretend outing with a girl…

April 15, 2017

Just another old guy story, and I don’t even feel like an old guy, or another in-my-day story.

And I’m the baby of my family. One of my two brothers is 20 years older than I. But I’m a ’49er (1949 that is).

Anyway: until maybe ten or twenty years ago I never heard of the term “play date”. I first heard my daughter use it. She was taking one of her kids to a play date. She has three kids. One is an adult now. Another is closing in on adulthood, but the third is in second grade — she still drives him to the houses of little friends for “play dates”.

If I heard the term “play date” when I was a kid I would have thought it had something to do with that little girl next door who always wanted to play house or with those teenagers that hung out at the local drive-in.

It’s just the way things are nowadays. Parents, with good reason, don’t feel it safe to simply let their children loose to roam the streets (well for the most part or in most places).

But my sister and I were noting how different it was in our day (she’s a 1941er). “Mom had it easy; she just opened the door and let us out”, she noted.

I was always roaming around on my own, often on my bicycle. Except for my first three and 3/4 years of life living in San Francisco, I grew up in a series of three small Central Valley towns of California.

Were there dangers? I’m sure there were, but I suppose not nearly as much as today.

Once one of my cousins and his family visited us. He lived on a farm. While I am sure he, being an adventuresome type, explored every inch of that farm, he may not at his age gone much beyond. We left the house and walked a little around the neighborhood, sometimes taking alleyways. I think those alleys fascinated him, for sometime after we returned to my house he, unbeknownst to me or anyone else, took off again. At some point my aunt realized her youngest child was nowhere around.

I recall concern. I don’t recall any panic. Finally we got a call from the police. They found a little boy wandering out by the county hospital on the edge of town. I can tell you that was quite a little distance from our place — not a long, long ways I guess, but a pretty fair piece.

I rode along with my aunt and my uncle to go retrieve him.

He did not appear to be a bit scared.

I think the only danger might have been he could have been bitten by a dog. I say that because at some later date I was while riding a bicycle in that same area. Ouch! some pretty big teeth marks in my leg. Fortunately the animal control was able to capture the dog and determine it did not have rabies. The people whom I thought it belonged to claimed it was not their dog but a stray. Maybe, but how come it came back to them when they called it?

But back to the idea of free roaming. One thing in our favor when I was young was that in the small towns things were fairly close by. And most of my friends lived just down the street. And we had sidewalks and not many busy streets, although we actually lived on a busy street — a main thoroughfare and state highway. In fact, I got hit by a school bus on that street right in front of our house when I was in first grade. There is always danger. I was supposed to have used the crossing in front of the school where one of our teachers would serve as a crossing guard. Kids do not always do what they are supposed to. I was not too seriously injured. Maybe the bus had a dent in it — I don’t know.

And you know? there was another incident I doubt I even told my folks about. I walked along a seldom-used spur line of a railroad out of the city limits to what they called the gravel pits. I had been there with my brother before. But on this day I was alone. A kid a little older than I came up to me and pointed what appeared to be a handgun at me. Actually I think it was a pellet gun (still very dangerous of course). At first he was menacing, but then he relented and walked off.

And of course there are always neighborhood bullies. That’s part of childhood.

Also once I began hanging around the railroad station to watch the trains come in. Every time I heard the train whistle I would hop on my bike and dash off the several blocks to the old downtown station. Most were freight trains, still pulled by old oil-burning locomotives that looked like the old steam ones, but there were also passenger trains pulled by the more modern-looking locomotives. There was a nearby park. And there was an old man with a beard there who looked like Abraham Lincoln. He said he used to work on the railroad back east. I often talked to him. At some point I told my parents about my acquaintance. I was surprised to see concern on their faces. They advised me to avoid him. My parents were that way, that is they seemed to avoid outright prohibitions in most cases in favor of advisories, you might say.

These days “don’t talk to strangers” is a pretty standard rule for children — and for good reason of course. Way back then I don’t think I was in any danger. But one never knows.

My oldest brother spent much or at least several years of his growing up in San Francisco. Right off hand I don’t know at what ages. It was before my time. But I know from hearing my folks talk that he was always out of the house on his own when he could be.

Oh, and this transporting children all over the place in a car for play dates — and heck, what about the fact that at any elementary school you will see a long line of cars lined up to drop off kids in the morning and another to pick them up in the afternoon? All that would have been impossible when I was a kid because for one thing a lot of families only had one car and it was parked outside of a workplace somewhere.

I remember when I was in one town my schoolmates were jealous of me because I lived so near the school — just a few blocks away. They had to walk many, many long blocks. Although they often walked in groups, sometimes kids walked alone. I don’t recall of anything serious happening — no kidnappings or worse. But of course it could have happened.

(I had mentioned a school bus. In my time school buses were only for my classmates who lived beyond the city limits — country kids we called them.)

And more than the not getting car rides here and there, we as children spent so much time outside. And we did not have to have sophisticated toys. We used our imagination. My best friend and I often played cowboys like we saw on the TV westerns. We both had toy gun belts and hats and so on, but often we just dispensed with the costume, even the toy guns, and used our imagination.

We often did something like a reenactment of the OK Corral at a real set of old corrals next to that old rail spur line I mentioned.

I think all that outside exercise was good for our health. And I think our imagination was healthy for the budgets of our parents who did not feel obligated to make major purchases for our entertainment.

But all that is not to say parents in that time did not give expensive gifts to their children, and some really over indulged them.

It has been an ongoing evolution.

But I think we’ve lost something. We’ve lost a lot of the fun of childhood. We’ve lost our innocence. We’ve lost our security.

And of course it was far different for those who came before me I know. Somewhat better but somewhat worse.

Modern conveniences and advances in science and medicine have certainly made things better.

But not everything.


The good news is that Trump seems to be able to think out of the box, but we still must worry about an itchy nuclear trigger finger…

April 14, 2017

In a college political science class I took at Chico State University, Chico, Ca. — how ’bout a shout out for Chico State! — the professor noted that the downside of “ideologies” is that they can be confining. They can put you in a straitjacket and not allow one to broaden his or her horizons and think out of the box (those are my words but his message).

And more of my take on it all: so, if you were elected, say president of the United States, and you won espousing some particular ideology, say über nationalism, populism, and America first over international involvement but you found out there were things you did not realize or events happened to change your mind, you could be locked into a set pattern over rigid adherence to ideology.

But what if you really did not have an ideology of your own, except that you should be president because you were so wonderful and that if you were elected everything would be great, that America would start winning again, in fact so much so, the people would almost tire of such success?

Oh, have I just described Donald Trump, president of the United States?

I have never seen any evidence so far that Trump has any ideology, except that I am fairly certain he is patriotic, that he believes deeply in the United States of America, albeit his belief in his country probably plays second fiddle to his belief in his own greatness.

I should add, I also think he might have a screw loose. Oh, and to put it mildly, he has bad manners and is not terribly articulate for an educated man.

But he is not tied down to ideology and that apparently makes him extremely flexible. And as much as I think it is a disaster and an embarrassment to have The Donald — star of the tabloids and reality TV — as leader of the free world, his malleability does seem to have some advantages.

Just read an opinion piece in Politico that says that with some exceptions, he’s become Hillary Clinton, especially in foreign policy.

Also, I am reading that the simple-minded America first, Xenophobic, racist and bigoted, anti-intellectual, lower white working class base, along with some of the opportunistic far-right radio talkers, who got him elected, are turning against Trump because they think he is betraying them.

(When I say simple-minded white working class I don’t mean to demean anyone who is a working class person on the lower end of the scale or unemployed or under employed, just the simple-minded ones who are simple-minded by choice.)

I don’t listen to Fox News per se, but I did hear one of its political commenters suggest that Trump played his base for fools, using a well-worn negotiating maneuver from his business dealings.

While Trump seems now to be taking the more conventional internationalist approach in foreign affairs and has switched to being a supporter of NATO (and let’s give a shout out to NATO — I was connected to it 1968 to 1971 in Germany), I read that he is moving ahead with some of his anti-immigration and deportation promises (at least trying to) and he is supposedly still trying to kill Obamacare. In fact he has threatened to withhold government subsidy payments to Medicaid which could cause Obamacare insurers to drop out. In other words, kill Obamacare by making it not work. But he has indicated that his threat is leverage to get Democrats to strike a deal with the Republicans on some replacement for Obamacare.

(And I still scratch my head trying to figure out how all the rest of the free and democratic nations of the world manage to provide health care to their citizenry via their respective governments — sometimes with private enterprise help — but we cannot figure that out. But maybe the answer is — insurance lobby.)

Well not much more to say on all of this, except it would not be as scary as it is to have Trump as president if we did not have to worry that his volatility and unpredictability might cause him to push the nuclear end-of-the-world button if he felt cornered or felt his manhood was challenged. I worry he might have an itchy trigger finger.

My prediction is that unless the economy sky rockets and jobs come back for the masses Trump will be a one-term president. And it is entirely possible that some scandal will come up and there will be enough displeasure within his own party that he will be impeached and convicted and thrown from office.

But right now we have a flexible president who seems more open-minded that once thought.

p.s.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I am deeply concerned about Trump’s anti-environment stance which threatens to dismantle the EPA and the clean water and clean air and conservation efforts of our government — but maybe he will change on that too.

… And I used the term “anti-immigration”. I realize one can be against illegal immigration but not against legal immigration, but with the issue of political refugees and people simply desperate for jobs it can be a confusing issue. As far as people coming over our southern border — well if we did not hire them, many would not come. But apparently we need them, so why do we worry so much? I am not against control of our borders, though. Let’s keep that up. Maybe we just need to make legal immigration easier.