Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our Teacher Heroes

Today I found out that the most influential teacher in my life passed away at the age of 92.  Herschel Abbott was a mentor, teacher, advisor and friend.  Herschel taught many forestry courses at UMass.  While great in the classroom, he was even better in the woods.  I totally absorbed his techniques for learning about the environment.  There was nobody that knew the woods better than him. I have used his techniques in my own classroom.  I will remember him for the rest of my life.

Herschel not only taught me in the classroom, he gave me life lessons that I have followed throughout my life.  None of those lessons were political, they were lessons of the woods.

After Herschel's retirement, he was run over by a hit-and-run driver that broke over 90 bones in his body.  Hospitalized for almost a year, Herschel survived.  I think he was around 72 years of age when the accident happened.  Herschel was tough, caring and committed to the forests of New England.  He mentored hundreds of students and cared deeply for them.

It has been a long time since I have posted on line.  I can't pass this day without expressing my love for this great man.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gun control for tomorrow

As you read this blog I want everyone to understand that I am a gun owner.  I used to hunt as a kid and enjoyed my best days with my father and friends hunting upland game birds on Cape Cod and in other locals.  I would not trade those experiences for anything.  I raised hunting dogs, English Pointers and had either a pointer or Brittany Spaniel for most of my life.  My favorite Christmas gift was when I got a 410 shotgun when I was in 7th grade.  I still treasure that shotgun.  The last time I bought a gun was a few years ago when I purchased a 410 over and under shotgun.  A few years before that I purchased my first muzzle loading weapon with the intent to do some deer hunting.

With this as the background, I have to question; is this country nuts?  How and Why do we allow people to buy assault weapons, extended magazine clips and enough ammunition to supply the Syrian rebels.  There is absolutely no need for this.  The National Rifle Association is the enabler for much of the violence we see around us.  Don't tell me otherwise.  This organization needs to rethink its guiding principles and help this country address gun violence in the 21st century.

I received an opinion questionnaire from the NRA a year ago and I gave them hell.  They take the position that under no circumstances do they want government to know about their gun activities.  The funny thing here is that when I was a kid in the 1960s, I joined the NRA.  At that time, you could not gain membership unless your local police force approved.  That's right, you had to get permission from the local police force before you could join.  I think the police represent government.  Where and when did the NRA take  such a drastic turn against sanity?  I don't know!  I have not been a member for almost 50 years.

I am not blind to the fact that stronger gun control laws will not end gun violence and may not even end the tragedies that we have endured during the past decade.  I am confident that it time, with sensible gun regulation, some tragedies may be averted and the tragedies that we witness may not be so deadly.  We can only hope.

Gun advocates point to the 2nd amendment of the Constitution to claim their rights and the courts have always taken a broad view; "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"  Gun nuts even jump on the preface to this right by establishing their private militias thinking that they have a Constitutional right to do so.  I am referring to the "...well regulated militia...." here.  What the nuts don't seem to understand is that they have no Constitutional right to create a private militia.  If they read their Constitution, they would be well aware that only Congress can establish a state militia and only the President of the United States can command any such military body.  "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States......"

I personally believe that we should have a national firearm identification card, much like a credit card.  When we purchase a weapon or ammunition it could be swiped and yes, information tracked to ensure a safer society.  I would not have a problem applying for such a card and 99.9% of NRA members would not have a problem getting a card issued either.  Let's not forget this part of the Constitution; "....well regulated militia....."  I would emphasize the word "regulated" here.  It seems to me that the Commander and Chief has every right to move to regulate weapons.  Heads up to the private militia crowd: You have no right to provide a platform for possible insurrection in this country.  Clearly our founders did everything they could to ensure the continuity of government in the United States of America.

I'm a progressive and nobody is going to take my favorite Christmas gift away.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

4 More Years

Today America votes for a President or a "Decider and Chief".  Let's hope we have a President for the  next four years.  God only knows what we will have if Romney were elected.  I have been decidedly quite during this campaign cycle.  I'm speechless when it comes to understanding Republican voters.  I'm saddened by the stupidity of people and the process that has created disgust for a great President.  I am disgusted by a man running for President that stands for nothing; no, I mean everything; no, I mean flip a coin.  How the hell can any intelligent being vote for such a dolt as Willard Romney? The etch-a-sketch candidate was very well phrased.

Romney; the schoolyard bully that will send our troops to fight his battles.  His kids won't be fighting, you can be sure of that.  Romney's character can be simply determined by understanding the nature of a man that would hold another human being to the ground and cut off his hair because he saw him as potentially gay.  Romney; the candidate that organized counter protests that favored the war in Vietnam but had no intention of entering the military.  Romney; the candidate that did not once stand up to the hatred exhibited towards his opponent.  On the contrary, Romney endorsed the hatred.  Romney encouraged the hatred.

Barack Obama said it best when he told the American people that Romney's foreign policy was from the 80's, his social policies were from the 50's and his economic policies were from the 30's.  I could not say it better.

Last night I watched Obama's last campaign speech from Iowa. What a class act - enough said!  We will be hearing from Barack Obama for many years following the end of his presidential service in 2016.  The world wants a winner and America has been lifted to great heights because of Obama's leadership.

What has also saddened me this election cycle was the passing of a great man that made the election of Barack Obama more likely.  That man was George McGovern.  George McGovern was a true World War II hero.  McGovern was a pilot of a B24 bomber and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery during war time.  McGovern had to crash land his flying fortress aircraft on 3 occasions and each time brought his crew to safety.  On one occasion he had to pick out a small island in the middle of the Adriatic sea.  He always offered his men the opportunity to bail out but they always trusted him to bring them to safety.  McGovern was a man that saw the necessity of war yet hated war.  He was a man that was to be trusted while "Tricky Dick" was not.

McGovern once said that it was better to be right than to be elected.  I suppose this will provide solace to anyone from the losing side.  One thing for sure; McGovern was no loser and he helped establish the politics of the left and gave us the opportunity to elect a person as great as Barack Obama.  I am proud to have known George McGovern and I'm proud that I stood by him in 1972 and in 1984 as his Rhode Island campaign manager.  You will always be within my thoughts.

In the picture, McGovern and wife Eleanor are standing at the podium in Syracuse New York on October 31, 1972 (not my picture and I apologize for losing the credit).  I am standing in the 3rd row waiting to hear his speech.  As he begins to talk, the church bells begin to ring and drown out his voice for many minutes (probably a Donald Segretti trick).  A little old lady stands behind me and is struggling to see him.  I say to her, "please, stand in front of me so you can see better".  She accepts and moves to the front for 30 seconds then turns to leave.  I say to her, "where are you going?"  She says to me, "I just wanted to see him, I didn't want to hear what he has to say."  Unfortunately, a lot of America is like this.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Obama - the fiscally responsible president

There has been a lot of coverage lately on the Internet and in the news in general about statistics provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office and Haver Analytics.  The data shows clearly that Barack Obama has been a fiscally responsible president.  The annualized growth of federal spending has been reduced to just 1.4% during the Obama Administration compared to 8.1% during Bush II's second administration. (click here) .

Needless to say, there has been a lot of push back from conservative bloggers and Republicans in general.  We all know that statistics can sometimes play with the truth.  If we want to prove something, just turn to statistics.  The funny thing here is that this information comes to us from non-partisan sources.  In reality, the slow pace of Federal spending is hurting economic recovery.  Paul Krugman has been a critic of Obama from time to time because of his fiscal restraint.  We all know that Congressional obstruction is behind the slow economy.  If you don't know that by now, you live in a bubble!

Barack Obama's plan to increase Federal revenues through a modest tax increase on the wealthiest Americans is a step towards fiscal sustainability.  Republicans are blind to the fact that government needs to pay for wars, fix infrastructure, protect our environment and improve the lives of everyone by raising revenue judiciously. Republicans and the wealthiest Americans used to be true patriots.  They are not anymore.  There seems to be no sense of responsibility to this country when it comes to paying for the freedoms we all enjoy.  I guess that includes the freedom to hide your money is Swiss bank accounts and accounts in the Cayman Islands-Mitt Romney.

As for those that feel violated by the facts displayed in this government report, I'm sure you will read your conservative blogs and find lying vindication.  I suggest however that you turn to the Politifact analysis of the debate where you will learn that Obama has slowed the growth of Federal spending more than any president in the past 60 years.  Politifact rates the Obama spending story as mostly true.

If you want your government to be fiscally responsible, the chart demonstrates the need to elect Democrats.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Does Mitt Romney have any core values?

We all need to be concerned about candidates that don't take the time to get facts right. What happens when the office holder is making decisions on bad information? Need I say Iraq! Take for instance last night's news where Mitt Romney claimed the shooter in Colorado got his weapons illegally.  Where is he getting his information from?  Maybe Sarah Palin's newspapers - oh; that's right, Sarah doesn't read newspapers.

Stories like this beg the question, does Willard Romney have any core values?  We all know that dogs don't like him.  I need to ask the following question; Which candidate in America has, during their political career, both supported and opposed abortion, "Don't ask don't tell",  assault weapons bans, LGBTQ equality, anti-tax pledges, stem cell research, campaign finance reform, raising the minimum wage, belief in global warming, limiting carbon emissions, Bush tax cuts, pathways to citizenship, capital gains tax, TARP bailouts, automotive company bailouts and the list goes on and on?  There is only one candidate to fit this description and that is Mitt Romney.

It seems to me that Mitt just can't settle on a political philosophy and is willing to say just about anything at any time.  Above all, our President needs to be a leader. An individual that seems to lack a set of core values should not be seeking the highest office in the land.  I respect politicians that can take guidance and change their mind from time to time.  This trait is a good thing; however, in Romney's case it is clear that his mind changes with the political wind.  Sarah Palin may be out there, but there is no confusion about her political view. 

I don't think there is confusion over Barack Obama's political views.  While I want him to step up to the plate at times, it is clear that he believes in a prudent approach to governing.  Why fight the fight when the votes are missing in Congress? 

I measure people by the strength in their beliefs.  I like both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals.  I would not have a clue how to carry on a conversation with Mitt Romney and I'm confident that voters are shaking their heads too.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remembering Andy Griffith

I have been away for a long time.  Traveled to the west coast and enjoyed the view of the Pacific.  Before I start posting again I thought it would be appropriate to honor an icon who just passed away.  Andy Griffith was a life-long Democrat who supported progressive causes.  He will be missed.  I thought that the best way to honor him is to re-post my March 29, 2009 story; "A good dose of Andy Griffith".  Keep the original date in mind as you read the story.  Also, the link in the story to the video no longer works as it has been removed by the originator, Ron Howard.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Good Dose of Andy Griffith is What the Doctor Ordered!

I like to watch a lot of 1950, 1960 and 1970 TV shows. I probably catch 3 or 4 reruns of the Andy Griffith show every week. The show last night really "struck a cord" with me. It made me think of more innocent times; a time when neighbors really cared about each other. With today's "toxic mortgage" discussion in the background, this show really drew my attention.

In the episode, a local Mayberry family is going through some tough times and is going to have their mortgage foreclosed by the "Scrooge" like character, Ben Weaver, who owns Weaver's Department Store. Of course, Sheriff Taylor has to serve the papers on this family that is an important part of the community. The family; down on their luck had a few children, not 14 children like "Octomom".

While the community worked on ways to assist the family, Andy was faced with a dilemma. It was his responsibility to serve the foreclosure papers. He was deeply concerned because the Ben Weaver character only wanted to foreclose so he could build a new factory. Andy knew the law and as we all know, had unique ways to walk around it when it involved people. Andy reasoned that the law required the homeowner to have full knowledge of the foreclosure action; therefore, if he stole his friends glasses, he would be unable to read the foreclosure documents. Of course, Andy stole the glasses and the foreclosure action was delayed long enough to find a resolution. That resolution involved shaming the Ben Weaver character into giving the good folks some more time to settle their debt. In the end, the factory took a back seat.

Wow! What a powerful message. People are given a break and can stay in their homes; and, this is more important than the new factory. Whenever I hear political pundits referring to those that have "toxic" mortgages as "losers", I am disgusted by their attitude. Every Mayberry loving American should be disgusted too.

Sheriff Taylor and Aunt Bea didn't consider those people losers. Heck; they didn't consider Otis Cambell to be a loser. Everyone in the community was important. Where have those times gone? We all accepted and loved the message back in the 1960s. Why do we have to listen to the hatred spewed forth on talk radio against some people that have been eaten up in this economy?

I think each and every American needs another good dose of Andy Griffith, Mayberry and the values of true patriots. During the election, I had a nice dose of the old Andy Griffith and the, now old, Ron Howard. If you want to see how these men have responded to today's politics during the election of 2008, follow the link (click here).

I'll continue to watch the Andy Griffith Show to regain my balance from today's "talking heads" that don't know what they are saying. By the way, Andy did return his friend's glasses. We all should have the vision of Sheriff Taylor.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Wisconsin Recall Election of Scott Walker

Wisconsin voters - Please do the right thing!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Disgusting Rhode Island and Studio 38

I think they need to change the name of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to, "Nausea Island and Providence Robber Barons."  While driving home to Rhode Island the other day one of the first things you notice is a rest stop along Route 95 that is now closed to the public.  This rest stop was recently constructed, within the past 8 years, and cost the state $millions to construct. Why is it closed?  Simply put, the state refuses to hire anybody.  There is no problem building facilities, but damned to hell if anyone wants to hire people to care for those facilities.

Now we come to the predicted demise of "Studio 38", the Curt Schilling gaming company that was heralded as a savior for the Rhode Island economy and that was granted $75 million in loan guarantees from taxpayer money.  To follow the story more closely, I suggest you visit RIFuture.org.  This is the best progressive political site in Rhode Island. 

Yes, Rhode Island has not only stolen from the future financial security of its public employees by attacking pension systems state wide, but it has stolen from everybody throwing money at ill-conceived ventures.  Rhode Island acts like a venture capital firm, but is never successful with its investments.  This has to be the only state that built a major downtown hotel (The Westin) and then suffered operating losses of $25 million per year for over a decade.  This has to be the only state that is stupid enough to guarantee the profits of a gambling casino which will one day cost $millions because of the casino bill in Massachusetts.  This has to be the only state that stupidly backs a gaming company that could not raise its own revenues from venture capital sources. How about spending over $44million on the new Wickford train station that nobody uses. These disasters are just the tip of the iceberg.

This state has robbed from the poor and middle class to give to the rich and there is no sign that it is willing to stop.  Sounds like Republican politics but beware, we happen to live in a "Republicrat" state, if you know what I mean.  The state has reduced the state work force by over 3000 employees during the past 10 years while the state budget skyrockets to new heights each and every year.  Stop blaming the public employees and stop stealing from them.  Rhode Island is throwing its money away in the direction of rich people and that is why our unemployment rate remains higher than 11% and is growing all of the time.  As our problems grow, the state continues to throw money haphazardly in every direction except the right one.  Government has to do what it is suppose to do. Government needs to use its tax dollars to educate, regulate, protect, and preserve.  Government should not be in the "business game". 

Until Rhode Island can move in the opposite direction of its leadership and whiny radio talking heads, you can expect higher unemployment, growing government debt and the scapegoating of public sector employees.  Welcome to "Nausea Island"!