MEMORIAL DAY

 

Having done my tour of duty in Germany, I came back to the United States in 1959 to continue my service in the reserves. I was placed in an MP (Military Police) unit. I can recall that we were detailed to be in charge of the traffic in a military cemetery. To this day, I am not sure where it was. It was a very hot day with lots of cars trying to find graves.

At that point, most of the men were either World War II or Korean veterans; the folks that visited the graves were their families and surprisingly quite a number of other veterans who were coming to pay their respect to their fallen brothers.

At that point in time, of the 435 members of congress and the 100 senators, over 60% had served in the military. That number rose in the 1970’s to about 75% in the senate and 65% in the House of Representatives. Now the percentages are 20% as of 2014.

Since there is no longer a draft, we now have a completely volunteer army. Therefore the percent of those serving in the military will continue to diminish. Most of our population will have no relationship with a military person, or someone who has died for their country. That makes explaining what goes on in the military that much more difficult.

The current fad is to go up to a young man and woman, either in uniform, or knowing that the young person was in the military and say, “Thank you for your service.” Somehow this felicitous remark carries with it a lack of understanding of our fighting men and women.

When most of the population was intimately aware of what goes in with our service men and women, there was no such statement. The draft required that you be taken from your community for two years. The services, especially the Army were a mix of many different kinds of people and social groups.

When the draft was eliminated, the social makeup of the Army especially changed. The other services, Marines, Navy and Air Force did not contain many draft personnel. I believe that the marines did draft sometime in the early seventies during the Vietnam War.

There were many draft dodgers and those who left the country to avoid the war. This was a different time and a rising antipathy to the war itself. Not sure that most people understand what happened in the late 60’s and 70’s. This brings me to the background of this tome.

I see so many displays of patriotism by those who have not had any experience with the military. 80% of congress people and senators have had no experience or relationship with the military. As those numbers dwindle, it seems that their celebration of Memorial Day gets bigger and bigger. Speeches get longer and more involved. Wearing a flag lapel pin is mandatory for political people of all stripes.

We celebrate this day with little understanding of what it means. I pray that we have no more wars, righteous or unrighteous. However, I would vote for a return to the draft ( it ended in 1973), or some kind of service- community, Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders,  AmeriCorps, or other two year stints. I know that I am in the minority, but that’s not a new thing for me.

 

 

MISS HILLARY

 

Since being in the South for about 9 months, we have gestated into a language change that includes calling people by Mr. This and Miss that. I have a feeling these are old timey southern expressions that come to us from plantation days. It is a cultural thing here in South Carolina and people from all strata of society seem to use it.

Hillary’s real background is not Arkansas, New York or Washington D.C. Her dad was from Scranton, PA and she was raised in the Chicago area. What you have to know about her is that her family was from Scranton. That will tell you about her politics, her connections to others of her ilk, and what hides in her brain far from her Wellesley education. It’s “the coal country mentality.”

Miss Hillary is more than just a woman running for President of the United States, but a true child of the area that her family came from. If you want to know others like her, there is always Dan Flood, Bob Casey Sr., and Bob Casey Jr.; there is always Joe Biden, William Scranton Sr. William Scranton Jr. and Robert Reich.

Hillary spent some of her childhood in the area and the politics must have rubbed off on her. There is no way to compare her to any other political candidate. How many talking heads have spoken about the clothing that other presidential candidates have worn? Hillary has been described as being over dressed, lacking in taste, and bad with makeup, poor hair styles and unsuitable shoes. I guess no one sees any of the other candidates as worthy of description.

Hillary bothers lots of people She even bothers me sometimes. She really has no idea how to shout out her punch lines. She prefers irony to physical humor (as other candidates do), or to bald faced humor. She elicits no guffaws, but expects lots of huzzahing and hand clapping.

In the face of criticism, she relies on quasi simplistic statements about policy and statesmanship. She has been characterized as a policy wonk. With all of her experience, why isn’t she called a policy expert? Try that one on for size.

Why don’t young women like her? I can tell you that I have run into the same thing in education. Young women aspiring school administrators cannot understand the terrible things that their foremothers went through to get administrative jobs. They believe that since the road has been cleared for them, and that no one really is concerned about discrimination in hiring of women administrators, that older women are just be quiet and go into retirement. I have seen it quite often.

DONNY LITTLEHANDS

 

I don’t often take potshots at individual people. I have however, taken a blast at Bernie and I am almost at a point where I want to describe Miss Hillary (a southern expression). I am not as interested in the negative things Donny has said about a large swathe of people, but the words that he uses and the hand signals.

Donny went to a lily white private school in Kew Garden Hills, Queens, N.Y. I am familiar with Kew Forest School because I played basketball with some of their graduates. I am afraid that Donny would not have lasted in a “Doin the Duzzins,” confrontation with any of his classmates, certainly not with the kids in my high school or up in Haarlem.

His name calling is especially interesting to me.

He has used school yard words, or gang words to describe people. If you want a full boat look at these kinds of nicknames that he applied to other candidates, see the Godfather series 1-3, or analyze this with Billy Crystal. How about Mitt “the Penguin, Romney, “Crooked” Hillary, Little Marco Rubio, Carly “the Face,” Fiorina, Lyin Ted Cruz, Ben the “No Energy” Carson, Jeb, “Low Energy” Bush, “Chokin” Mitt Romney, Albert “The Nose,” Caruso (sorry got my movie in there).

Donny also uses superlatives, unbelievable, tremendous, can’t believe, everyone knows, dish it out, take a punch, and great negotiator. He stacks up his background against almost anyone and anything by using these words to show his own talents and demeaning the talents of others.

He is also a whiz with his hands. When he is making a point he seems to be giving himself the high sign, the circle with his thumb and forefinger and the other three digits akimbo. He raises and lowers his hands when he wants to escalate the words that he is using to a crescendo. You will never see him use his hands to hug people other than his family. Have not heard that he is a germophobe.

Watch for these things next time he speaks about his former enemies, who are now supporting him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUASI IMPROMPTU STUMP SPEECH

I have just seen that phrase used by a columnist to describe a current presidential candidate’s rancorous ramblings about a sitting Republican governor. After looking at the phrase a number of times, it seemed to get murkier and murkier. If you were to be invited to speak at a gathering of your followers, what would be impromptu about your speaking there? Is that the reason for the modifier “quasi?” So this was totally unexpected, both the appearance, the set of words and the mean spiritedness with which the words were presented.

I am trying to find out what a stump speech is. It may have had some meaning in the 19th century. At one point, I believe that the term had to do with standing on a tree stump and speechifying. According to a biography of the Reverend Conwell, he made this stump speech at least 5,000 times in his attempt to start a religious college, which is now Temple University. If you want, you can probably find it on the net. It was called “Acres of Diamonds.”  It was always the exact same speech.

So now we have the description of a particular candidate’s quasi impromptu stump speech as something different than a regular stump speech. It was different in wording, but the same rancor and hyperbole as any other speech.

 

 

YOU CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL

 

I’m not sure how many times I have been told this in my lifetime. For some reason it has not sunk in. I am always convinced that I can save everyone. If you have read, “Catcher in the Rye,” and know its meaning, you will know how I feel. I can fail at all else, but saving somebody is the only failure that really hurts me. I can usually see it happening. It’s at that point that I try all the harder. I never learn.

Mark is a strapping 19 year old senior at a local rural high school. He is shy, articulate, and smart and his smile can fill up a room. His involvement with the group that I call the Jasper Gentlemen, gave me a chance to know him. He desperately wanted to go to college. Like all of the other young men in the group, he tried to accomplish the steps with no help from his family. None of his family had been to college. I am not even sure that they graduated from high school.

Mark lives with his aunt. His mom and dad are divorced and his dad has custody of Mark. In speaking with his dad, I am not sure that he is anxious to have Mark go to college. His actions or lack of actions tells me a great deal about his feelings for his son.

Mark works exceptionally long hours and a local Wendy’s. Yesterday he worked two shifts (16 hours). He does not intend to continue working there for minimum wage. Although he has been working there for a year, there are no advancements. He will resign in a few weeks to join a landscaping company and make much more money (he says). I asked if he was prepared for the heavy work ahead. He answered by smiling and kind of looked at me with a “are you kidding” expression.

He was accepted at a historically black college an hour and one half from his home. I have been in contact with the school to see what else he needs to do with his FAFSA form (federal application for a Pell grant). I was told that I did not have authority to be given that info and that a FERPA form would be sent to me for Mark to sign. That’s a consent form for me to have access to information. Essentially, his dad needs to put some figures on from his income tax form. Unfortunately, the dad has not filed yet. I called a friend of mine, who is an accountant and will do the filing and filling out for nothing. I have a feeling that is not going to happen.

Intellectually, I know that this is a dead end situation. Emotionally, I can hardly stand and watch a perfectly good human being, with ability to go to college, being thrown away. I am not sure how we let these things happen. When you look at South Carolina statistics, you get the feeling that there are lots of Marks out there.

It is a moments like these that I wish that I was much younger.

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO MARK ZUCKERBERG,MICHAEL BLOOMBERG,THE WALTON FAMILY, ELI BROAD,SHELDON ADELSON, BILL GATES, CHARLES AND DAVID KOCH

In May of the year 2000, my wife and I got two phone calls within a week of each other. We had and still are advocates for rural schools and communities. You might look us up on Google if you put in rural education Pennsylvania. The calls came separately from two very wealthy men. The one was Andy McKelvey, CEO of Monster.com, a very successful job site. We were not aware of Andy, but somehow he was aware of us.

The other call came from H. Gerry Lenfest, who had just sold his cable company, Suburban Cable to Comcast for 7.6 billion dollars. As you might imagine, we were not used to hanging around with these kinds of people. Both of us were asked to start scholarship programs for needy rural children. The Lenfest Foundation was a prep school program. Jerry claimed that the prep school that he went to saved his life. His dad was a salesman and was not home very much. His mom had passed away.

We sent over 100 students to four prep schools so that they could be prepared to go to excellent colleges. It did work.

The McKelvey program was centered in three states; Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia. By the time we finished in 2008(the year Andy passed away); we had put about 900 young men and women through college. We are still in touch with most of the students. Andy’s idea was to help needy rural kids with entrepreneurial skills, so that they might go back home to start businesses.

Without seeming to gush about these two gents, they both taught me a very valuable lesson that you might want to take to your hearts. Andy and Gerry both told me over the course of our scholarship program that their aims were NOT to change systems. Yes, I am sure they would have liked to, but they thought that helping individual students was where their money would do the most good.

I believe that they were correct in every way possible. As we track the students that we have worked with, we see all kinds of possibilities for the future. Maybe these kids will change systems in some way. Andy and Jerry both believed that these youngsters, some are already in their 30’s would pay it forward. Yes, some of them already have.

Somehow, both of these people learned this lesson from happenings in their lives. I know that Andy wanted to be a moderating force in the gun control discussions. He was not successful. Gerry learned from his boss Walter Annenberg, who began a program to change city and rural schools. It was not successful.

I listen to your public voices about changing how schools work, how to change how government works, how to support candidates for various elected and appointed offices. How to train former military men and women to run school districts and colleges and many other attempts to change the way systems work in the United States.

Messrs. Koch, Adelson, Gates, Broad, Zuckerberg, Bloomberg and Walton family have your monied plans worked. I have positive feelings that you are using your resources to make things better in our country. Is it working? Have you figured out why not? For those who have started scholarship programs, bless you. For those who have invested in the cure for cancer and other horrible diseases, bless you. Please stop trying to alter the huge systems that we have built up over the years. Concentrate on helping youngsters go to school and to alleviate their school debts. That would be a good deed in the strictest sense of those words. And that’s all I have to say about that.

O.K. BERNIE IT’S TIME TO CLOSE YOUR MOUTH

I know Bernie Sanders. He is me when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. There is one exception to that comparison. When I said I would accomplish something I did. How many of the things that he is talking about did he succeed in doing while he was in congress? What important things did he do that we should be aware of? Unfortunately very few.

Yes, he was a frequent guest on liberal media espousing all of the wonderful causes that he now espouses as a presidential candidate. Which of those that he sponsored ever got through to be signed by the President (in whatever administration)? I do like Bernie and what he says. I agree with almost all of it. However (or but) if you like, you never turned anything that you said into action. The proof of the pudding . . .

Here’s the beef with Bernie and his followers. There is almost no mathematical chance of him winning the nomination. Irrespective of this constant crying about the super delegates, he has known about them for most of his years in politics. It’s not as if he just found out about it yesterday. And, if he can beat you with rhetoric, why can’t he convince the bulk of the super delegates to vote for him.

He is delivering cannon fodder for Mr. Trump and the Republicans. His thinking that he is the creator of a “movement,” is so distorted that it is way beyond me to understand how he thinks that way. If he is the beginning of a movement, is that true for Donald Trump?

What we have here is someone who has been saying the same thing for many years. He knows he has the eye of the media and some Democratic voters. His continual questioning of Hillary Clinton and her foibles makes Mr. Trump so happy that he has suggested that Bernie form a third party. We have had enough of that with Ralph Nader, Eugene McCarthy and Ross Perot. I am surprised that Bernie has not harkened back to those elections when thinking about proceeding to the convention.

As I have said many times, Bernie’s background is fertile fields for criticism of the grossest kind. His love affair with socialism and attachment to some really sordid people like Fidel Castro, make Trump’s overtures to Kim Jun Un seem like child play. Just wait till the con artists get a hold of the many organizations that he joined and participated with. He will go down like George McGovern.

I am not demeaning all the voters that like him, but he is not going to win. We may not like Hillary Clinton because she is a strong woman, who has been espousing most of Bernie’s causes for 30 years, because of her husband, emails or Benghazi (which the 11 hour hearing could not get her to break and now a 124 page report saying that she did nothing wrong); she has lots of good experience.

I believe that Bernie should go quietly into the night before he enables us to have Donald Trump as a president.