Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why We Stand for the National Anthem


Although the "National Anthem" is called "The Star Spangled Banner", we are not standing to  honor and respect the flag itself.    We are standing with those who have fought to keep that banner flying.

Today we tend to think of flags as primarily decorative items.   In 1814 the flag was an essential communications device on the battlefield.  

The flag flying above a fort demonstrated which army controlled it.  When an army captured  a fort it took down the enemy's flag and raised its own flag.   If the occupants of  a fort lowered their flag, "struck their colors", it meant that they were surrendering.

When Francis Scott Key saw that the flag was still flying over Ft. McHenry he knew the men in the fort had refused to be intimidated by the British artillery barrage.   His poem celebrated the courage of the men in the fort rather than the flag itself.

The use of the flag to demonstrate a resolve to stand up to America's enemies has continued into this century.  This spirit was demonstrated in World War II when the Marines who took Iwo Jima quickly raised the flag to let those at sea know they were established on the island.   New York city firefighters showed they were not defeated when they erected a flag at Ground Zero shortly after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Those who disrespect the military by attacking the national anthem demonstrate a lack of gratitude for what the military has done to reduce racism.  360,000 U.S. army soldiers, including 40,000 black, died in the Civil War which ended slavery.  After WWII President Harry Truman integrated the military to show that black men and white men could live together and work together.  President Dwight Eisenhower used paratroopers in Little Rock to insure compliance with a federal court order to desegregate the schools.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Edward R. Murrow Would Be Ashamed of the People at CBS.

Edward R.  Murrow used his position as a journalist to expose the anti-communist witch hunt in the 50's.

I remember seeing some of the television coverage of the Army-McCarthy hearings.   I was too young to fully understand what was going on, but I recognized that Murrow thought something was wrong.

If he were alive today, I'm sure he would recognize that the current anti-Russian crusade makes less sense than Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-communist crusade in the 50's.

There was a Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union in the 50's.  There is no good reason for the United States and Russia to be enemies today. 

The question Joe McCarthy asked in the 50's was:  "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?"  The question today is: "have you ever talked to a  Russian?"

 Supporters of the Russian meddling witch hunt claim that Russian hackers were spying on the Democratic Party's emails.  The fact is that the Russian government has arrested four of those hackers [ including  the deputy head of the FSB security agency’s Centre for Information Security, Col. Sergei Mikhailov and his deputy Maj.  Dmitry Dokuchayev].  and charged them with working for the CIA. 

Thus any inquisition on this issue should begin with Obama administration officials and seek answers to the following questions:  "What did President Obama know? When did he know it?  and What did he do about it?"

The witch hunters also charge the Russians with "planting fake news".   The traditional term  is "propaganda" and governments have been doing it for generations.   Great Britain started doing it to us during WWI.   After the 9/11 attack the British convinced our government that Iraq's WMD program was more extensive  than it was. 

Prior to the 2004 election, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [DRV] released a story that insured that Gov. Bob Kerrey would not run against Sen John Kerry [whom the DRV was supporting] for the Democratic presidential nomination.   The DRV had previously provided "fake news"  to try to influence voters in the 1968 and 1972 elections.

It's increasingly obvious that it's the British, rather than the Russians, who are meddling in American politics.    The British are once again using "fake intelligence" to influence American politics.

After the 9/11  attack the British used fake intelligence about WMD in Iraq to get President George W. Bush to help them invade Iraq.   The British treated rumors about WMD as if they were proven facts.

Now they are using fake intelligence to undermine President Donald Trump.     Patrick Cockburn in the "London Independent"   says the charges about Trump's alleged association with the Russians are based on information that is at least as unreliable as the claims about Iraq's WMD.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The British Are Meddling! The British Are Meddling!

It's increasingly obvious that it's the British, rather than the Russians, who are meddling in American politics.    The British are once again using "fake intelligence" to influence American politics.

After the 9/11  attack the British used fake intelligence about WMD in Iraq to get President George W. Bush to help them invade Iraq.   The British treated rumors about WMD as if they were proven facts.

Now they are using fake intelligence to undermine President Donald Trump.     Patrick Cockburn in the "London Independent"   says the charges about Trump's alleged association with the Russians are based on information that is at least as unreliable as the claims about Iraq's WMD.

The British may be trying to oust Trump because they know they cannot manipulate him the way they manipulated George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  They used fake intelligence to get Bush's help in invading Iraq.  I don't know how they tricked Obama into helping them invade Libya.  This century is only about 18 years old and the British have already gotten us into two stupid wars.  We need to keep the British from using their boy Robby Mueller to force Trump out of office.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Replacing Obamacare

President Trump promised to replace Obamacare, but so far has  only suggested modifying it.   He should replace the Obama approach to health care.  

Medical costs cause the price of health insurance to be too high for some to afford.    Obamacare attempted to deal with high insurance rates by forcing healthy people to buy health insurance. 

A better  approach would recognize that it isn't practical for profit-making insurance programs to pay for expensive to treat chronic disorders such as those associated with alcohol or tobacco use.   Special programs could be set up to cover such disorders. 

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco should be used to fund programs for alcohol and tobacco related medical disorders.   For example, a per gallon tax on alcohol products would go into a fund for treatment of alcohol related disorders.   A doctor would certify that a person has an alcohol related disorder and health care providers would send health care bills for the patient to the alcohol fund in the same way bills are sent to insurance companies for payment.   To simplify payment procedures all medical problems of a patient with an alcohol related medical problem would be paid by the fund because alcohol can reduce the body's ability to handle problems.  The fund would also cover medical costs of those who suffer injuries because  of the actions of someone under the influence of alcohol even if the injury involved a preexisting condition.  A police report that one of the drivers in a traffic accident was under the influence of alcohol would trigger payment from the alcohol fund even if the courts wouldn't consider the drinking driver to be at fault.

Under the current insurance system people who never use tobacco or alcohol help pay for the medical treatment of those who have tobacco or alcohol related medical problems.  Under my proposal only those who use alcohol and tobacco  products would pay to treat  medical problems related to alcohol and tobacco use.  

Another type of health care fund would involve specific disorders, such as heart trouble or specific cancers that may be caused by various factors other than tobacco or alcohol.   Government would use general taxes to finance treatment and conduct research.  Other funds might come from non-profit organizations.  Government might encourage non-profit funds by offering to match what they raise.    

Each fund would operate in part as a research project.  Paying for all treatments from a single fund would allow researchers to monitor and compare the success rate of various different treatments.   Insurance companies are reluctant to fund experimental treatments because they can't expect to benefit from them, but the federal government could benefit from knowing what doesn't work as well as knowing what does work.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Obama Official Admits Meddling in Russia

 Tom Malinowski, who  served as Barack Obama's assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor from 2014 to 2017, has admitted in a Washington Post article that the United States "meddled" in Russian elections by financing political groups.

Malinowski says:  "until the U.S. Agency for International Development was expelled from Russia in 2012  [it helped]  fund some of the country’s leading nongovernmental organizations. These included the human rights group Memorial, the Committee Against Torture and, most important, given the drama to come, a group called Golos, Russia’s main nongovernment organization for election fraud monitoring."

Malinowski  demonstrates his imperialistic attitude with the claim:  "This effort was non-partisan and it aimed to strengthen democracy for everyone in Russia, not to steer the outcome."  What gives  Malinowski and the United States the authority to claim they know what is best for Russian democracy?    The term "non-partisan" is a nonsense word because issue positions and election procedures may not  have the same impact on all parties.   Any claims about corruption in the Russian government are inherently partisan because the claims place the governing party in  a negative light.

Malinowski may be too ignorant to understand the potential implications of such spending, but former KGB officer President Vladimir Putin probably knows why the Soviet Union financed comparable groups in the United States during the 1950's.     Americans called such organizations designed to support the communist view of the world   "communist front groups".    When a nation finances alternate political groups in another nation, it is meddling in that nation's politics if any of those connected with those organizations participates in politics regardless of whether  the participation involves issues or  personalities.   I wonder what Democrats would say if Russia  financed a group in the United States whose purpose was monitoring election fraud.

Malinowski is out of touch with reality.  He suffers from the delusion that American foreign policy has some idealistic purpose.   As a Vietnam vet I know that isn't true..  Many American foreign policy actions are just a response to events.   Actions that have a purpose usually are designed to serve corporate  interests.  

The best example of this situation is the Obama administration's efforts to push the crooked Enron corporation's global warming fraud.   The claim that carbon dioxide causes global warming is based on a primitive early 19th Century belief that was disproved in 1909.  Malinowski talks about corruption in Russia.   I wonder what he would say if Russia had made a major effort to discredit Hillary Clinton by exposing the global warming fraud prior to last year's election.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Is It Colin Kaepenick's Revenge?

I didn't realize how bad the NFL's concussion problem was until  many of its players developed kneeling sickness during the singing of the national anthem.    .  The kneelers claim they are protesting racism, but kneeling is usually done as a form of submission, not a form of protest.   In the NFL, a player who fields a kickoff in the end zone will kneel to show he doesn't plan to run with the ball.   Late in the game the  quarterback on the team that is leading will "take a knee" to run out the clock.     Kneeling is what a slave may do to show obedience to an owner.

The national anthem, "Star Spangled Banner", recalls the bravery of the men in one of our nation's most important battles.   In the War of 1812 the men of Ft. McHenry held off the British navy in spite of a fierce naval bombardment.  At dawn the flag was still waving.  By protesting during the national anthem,  the kneelers  show contempt for those Americans who died in that battle including an escaped slave who had enlisted as a private in the U.S. army using the name William Williams.   The  kneelers also show contempt for 360,000 U.S. army soldiers who died fighting in the Civil War which ended slavery.   40,000 of those soldiers were black.

The kneelers alienate many of those fans who have friends and relatives serving in distant combat zones.   Many fans have served in combat in the current conflict or lost friends or relatives in the 9/11 attack.

The kneelers have created a rift between players and fans that is costing the league revenue.   I wonder if that was Colin Kaepenick's goal when he persuaded current players to become involved in this silly protest.   Did he encourage the protests to get even with NFL teams for not signing him as  a free agent?

If NFL players really want to do something about racism they should donate money to civil  rights organizations, including political action committees that support civil rights oriented candidates  Kneeling on the sidelines and whining like children in a store who want toys is unlikely to accomplish anything.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Those Who Benefit from Economic Injustice Shouldn't Complain

Those athletes who complain about  the existence of injustice ignore the fact that they are part of the class whose members may benefit from whatever injustices are perceived to exist.   What is considered an injustice varies from one person to another.  

The use of local taxes to subsidize sports facilities can be considered an injustice.    Some of the athletes using the facilities pay more in income taxes than some of the local taxpayers make in  a year.  The money teams save by not having to pay to construct facilities is available for  player salaries.

If professional athletes are really concerned about injustice they should do something directly instead of whining about it like children  For example, they might  use part of  their income to create jobs in high unemployment areas.

Criticism of President Donald Trump's comments is unjustified. As the elected leader of the American he can speak for those who agree with him.  Normally we can expect that some will agree with him and some will disagree.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Donald Trump Should Tell Gestapo-like Mueller: "You're fired!"

Is Robert S.  Mueller III Mr. Mueller the special counsel or Herr Mueller the head of the American Gestapo?   His treatment of  Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort  implies  he should be called "Herr Mueller".

Mueller conducted a search of Manafort's residence by breaking into the residence while Manafort and his wife were in bed.   Such a tactic might have been  accepted in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union It should not be accepted in 21st Century America.

The secret police in police states use this tactic to terrorize their victims into confessing they are "witches".   Police in the United States might need to use this tactic with violent criminals. 

There can be no justification for using it in political controversies particularly when there is no evidence of a crime.  

Four of the Russian computer hackers [including a colonel and a major] who supposedly interfered in the election were on the C.I.A.'s payroll.  Thus, if anything illegal happened it was President Barack Obama and his C.I.A. who were involved rather than persons associated with Donald Trump.  Barack Obama was paying them. Not Donald Trump.   They reported to the C.I.A. Not Donald Trump

Friday, September 8, 2017

Did Pres. Obama and CIA Help Donald Trump Win?

News stories about purported Russian hacking in the presidential election continue to omit a very important fact.  The Russian government has arrested four of the hackers, including Col.Sergei Mikhailov, and charged them with working for  the CIA.

Thus if Russians did any election  hacking it was with the knowledge and consent of the CIA and President Barack Obama.    The knowledge received would have allowed the Obama administration to prevent any action that could have affected the outcome of the election.    If the president knew terrorists threatened to attack, he would assign federal agents to protect those who might be attacked.  Wouldn't a president who thought foreign government hackers threatened an organization assign government computer experts to protect against the attack? 

If the hackers tried to help Donald Trump win, it was because someone in the Obama administration wanted Trump to win.  It seems unlikely the CIA would have tried  to help Trump win without Obama's approval.   Incidentally with an FSB colonel on the CIA's  payroll it would have been easy  to have Russians meet with Trump's  associates where  the meetings  would be noticed.  [The FSB is the successor to the KGB.]

Why would Barack Obama want Donald Trump to win the election?  Perhaps Obama thought if Trump won, it might be possible to convince Congress to change the Constitution to allow Obama to seek a third term in 2020, particularly if Congress thought Trump was involved with the Russians.  That strategy wouldn't have been possible if Hillary Clinton had won.

 I doubt the claim that Russian hackers did anything that affected the outcome of the election. even if they tried to do  so.     However, if they did then any federal investigation  should ask what did the CIA and President Barack Obama know, when did they know it and what did they do with the knowledge?  If CIA officials didn't tell Obama about the Russians, why didn't they?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Wanton Destruction of Historic Art

The world was appalled when fanatical members of the Taliban blew up ancient Buddhist statues  carved into a mountain in Afghanistan.  They destroyed the priceless artifacts as part of an effort to eliminate items they didn't considered politically  correct.  More recently ISIS members  have been doing the same thing in Iraq.   They have even been destroying historical artifacts other Muslims consider acceptable.

Unfortunately, this vandalism oriented mental condition has begun infecting people in the South.  The southern vandals have begun destroying Civil War related art  such as statues remembering the men who led the Southern states into the  disaster known as the Civil War and in the process caused the end of slavery.     

As the great grandson of a Yankee soldier I've never really understood why southern whites would want to honor such men.  I presume they did not put up the statues because they knew the statues would be pigeon roosts.  

It would have made more sense if the former slaves had erected the statues to thank the men who provoked northerners into ending slavery.   In 1860 there was little prospect for ending slavery. Most northerners opposed slavery in their states because they hated the people held as slaves.   The decision by southern states to leave the union and fight a lengthy war so angered northerners that they decided to get even with southerners by freeing southern slaves and granting the freed slaves rights that were denied in some northern states.  Blacks couldn't even live in Illinois.   The descendants of slaves shouldn't be destroying Civil War monuments.  They should be protecting the  monuments to those who inadvertently brought a end to slavery.   Southerners should include signs with the monuments thanking the men who caused the north to end slavery. 

The Muslim extremists who have been destroying historic art have been doing so  to cover up the fact people in the region once had different religious beliefs.  Are the people who are leading the effort to destroy historic art in the south trying to cover up the fact that  southern slavery once caused a major war?  The presence of Civil War monuments can lead to questions about what caused the war.  Without the monuments, whites can avoid dealing with questions about the southern past.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Those Who Want to Live Only With Whites Should Go Back to Ancestors' Homelands

This post is a partial summary of the preceding post which contains links for some of the information. 

The white person's continent is Europe, not American.   North America has been a melting pot since the Spanish arrived 500 years ago with African slaves whom they sometimes mated with.  The first documented marriage of an African to a North American occurred in Florida in 1525.

In British North America the "melting pot" began a century later at Jamestown.  The small populations in the early Virginia communities meant that people often had to marry across the black, white and red color lines.  The 1636 marriage of an African man named John Punch to a white woman [who was probably an Irish indentured servant] was not the first such union, but it is one whose descendants have been traced to the 20th Century.   Diplomat Dr. Ralph Bunche was one  of the dark-complexioned descendants.  A Kansas woman named Stanley Ann Dunham [the mother of President Barack Obama] 
was one of the   white descendants.    Dunham like the vast majority of Americans with African  ancestry  didn't know she had an African ancestor. 

Later the introduction of permanent slavery included two laws which initially accelerated the mixing of African and European DNA.   A child's status as slave or free was determined by the mother's status as slave [including indentured servants] or free.  If the child was black it would be a permanent slave.  White children would be indentured servants.   Some slave owners increased the number of permanent slaves by requiring  white female indentured servants to mate with black males.

Subsequent laws prohibiting sex across the color line were generally ignored if the woman was black.  The primary purpose of such laws was to prevent free white women from having black babies who wouldn't be slaves. 

By 1776 some of the descendants of such "mixed" marriages were able to pass for white especially if they moved to a new location and changed their names.  Some claimed they had North American or Mediterranean ancestry. The presence of the albino gene in the African genome could have helped some become white.    Most probably didn't tell their children about their ancestry.    

During the slavery era some slave owners, including President Thomas Jefferson and his father in law, had slave "wives" called "concubines.  Jefferson's concubine, Sally Hemmings was described as white with long straight hair.   The children of  Jefferson's concubine were eventually freed, left Virginia and passed for white.

As the southern urban population began increasing in the early 19th Century, some slave owners  bred  light skinned women [fancy slaves] for the sex trade.  The end of slavery  allowed some of these women along with other light skinned former slaves to pass for white.    Prostitution provided an economic opportunity for young black women with a resulting increase in light skinned  children who could eventually pass for white.

Many whites who checked their ancestry after the broadcast of Alex Haley's "Roots" were surprised to find that an ancestor who had served in the military had the letter "c" after his name for "colored".

Barack Obama was the first dark complexion president, but he wasn't the first president to acknowledge African ancestry.   President Warren G.Harding said one of his ancestors might have "jumped the fence".  There is speculation that five other presidents might have had African ancestry:  Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson  Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, and Dwight Eisenhower.   It would be difficult to prove or disprove such claims. 

 Most parents with North American  ancestry probably did not pass along the information.

Most of us who consider  ourselves white  who have some ancestors who arrived  five or more generations probably have at least one ancestor who was North American or African.  At five generations in the past you can  have 32 different ancestors.  I know I have a North American ancestor and suspect I have an African ancestor. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Media Perpetuating Racism

{I am reposting the following so it can be used for information]

Jesse Washington has reported that many dark skinned Americans recognize that they are not "African" Americans in spite of what some racists say.

 Th e term "African-American"  perpetuates the  principle tenet of Southern racism:  "part black, all black" under the "one drop rule".  

Those who use the term are in effect segregating  Americans with dark complexions from the rest of the population they may be related to.   Those who use the term believe that those with dark complexions should only be able to claim their African ancestors and should forget about ancestors who came from Europe, North America or Asia even if most of a person's ancestors came from places other than Africa.

The media in particular apply the term indiscriminately to any American with a dark complexion. For example, they call golfer Tiger Woods "African American" even though his ancestry is predominately Asian.  His mother is Asian and his father had Asian as well as African and American Indian ancestors.

Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed of a day in which  color would not be important.  Unfortunately, the media along with many politicians and black leaders are still preoccupied with skin color.

Members of the media still falsely claim that differences in skin color among Americans indicate a racial difference.  Perhaps there is an European "race" that is white and an African "race" that is black, but if there is an American race it is red and yellow, black and white.  We Americans are a mixture of peoples from all parts of the world.

As the Lakota say, Aho Mitakuye Oyasin (We Are All Related)   regardless of the color of our skin.     

The fact that a person has dark skin doesn't mean a majority of ancestors came from Africa. Dark skin only means a person received  one or more of the half dozen skin color related genes that produce "black" skin from an African ancestor.  Some of the genes associated with dark complexion are also present in persons from other parts of the world, especially India and Australia.  The versions of the skin color genes that cause dark skin are dominant genes which means if a person has a dark version of the gene, complexion will be dark even if the other gene is associated with light skin.   Incidentally, the African gene pool includes the albino gene  which means some residents of Africa have pale skin.

Calling black Americans African-Americans denies them the opportunity to claim their European (especially Irish) and North American ancestry.  The first Africans  in the English colonies worked with the Irish in  the fields and occasionally became sexually involved with them. In some cases planters deliberately forced Irish women to have children by African men to produce children of a desired complexion. Later, Irish overseers and plantation owners sometimes offered favors for sex or just raped slaves.

Until the 1960's Southern white men could rape black women without fearing punishment.    Some black women voluntarily had sex with white employers or their sons.  Former Sen. Strom Thurman fathered a daughter by his parent's 16-year-old housekeeper when he was a young man.   Young southern women were told that if their good night kisses were too passionate, their boyfriends might seek sexual satisfaction in the black community.

Some black Americans can trace their ancestry back to President Thomas Jefferson and his virtual wife Sally Hennings.   DNA tests confirmed the claim that Sally Hennings descendants were also descendants of  Thomas Jefferson.  The tests examined the "Y" chromosome which is passed from father to son. 

A test of the "Y" chromosome of Martin Luther King III indicates that he and his civil rights leader father Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a north European male ancestor  like about 33% of black American males.

The Spanish who established colonies in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia in the 16th Century using African slaves were less likely than the British to bring wives and instead used their slaves for sexual satisfaction.  The French in Louisiana also had a shortage of white women.  The French, unlike the English, even used terms indicating the proportion of African and European ancestry.

African slaves of the Spanish started a long association with the original inhabitants of North America that continued in the British colonies.  The Africans left behind when Spain withdrew from Florida joined with the Seminoles.  In the English colonies the Cherokees and some other tribes socialized with the Africans, gave refuge to runaway slaves or had African slaves of their own. 

Many white  Americans, including former President Warren G. Harding, have African ancestors.  Some believe as many as four other white presidents had African ancestors.  After the "Roots Miniseries" many whites who researched their family histories were  surprised to find ancestors who served in the military who had a "C" after their names for "colored".

Most whites with African ancestors probably don't even know it because their African ancestors whose skin was light enough to pass for white covered up their past.  It would only take a few generations of people with mixed parentage to have descendants with skin light enough to pass for white.  If only one gene were involved, the math of inheritance would indicate that if two parents each had one black parent and one white parent approximately 25% of their children would have white skin.  The math is more complicated with the involvement of multiple genes, but  the probability of some light skinned children increases with each generation. 

Racists  sometimes suggest that black males  have a greater propensity for violence especially against women and falsely ascribe that characteristic to their African ancestors.   If some  black men actually have a genetic tendency to commit rape and murder it would be far more likely that they inherited the gene from a white male ancestor who raped one of their black female ancestors than that they inherited it from an African male ancestor.

Another popular stereotype is that blacks have "rhythm"  which they are supposed to have inherited from their African ancestors.  Although the slaves' African heritage would have influenced their music, it seems more likely that the social and biological association with the musically oriented Irish would be more responsible for the black emphasis on music. 

The Irish responded to the repressive treatment by the English through musical expression.  They would have passed that tradition along to the Africans whom they initially worked with as "indentured servants" and later supervised after black slavery was established.  The slaves blended their Irish and African traditions with their own situation.  They concentrated on expressing themselves through music because their oppressors didn't allow other ways to "fight" their situation.    Watch Irish groups like Riverdance and Celtic Woman and then say that black Americans could only have gotten "rhythm" from African ancestors.

The first  African "servants" arrived in Jamestown in 1619 only 14 years after the founding of the settlement.  During the two centuries of the Atlantic slave trade only about 500,000 additional Africans were imported into North America.   Britain led the way to ending the Atlantic slave trade in 1807 and the United States quickly followed to outlaw the importation of slaves without prohibiting the internal slave trade.   Thus, the vast majority of the 4.5 million blacks living in the U.S. in 1860 were born here to parents and grandparents who were born here.   A substantial portion had at least some ancestors who were living in North America at the time of  the American Revolution. 

It's time we recognize that the only African ancestors of the descendants of slaves arrived here centuries ago.  We need to recognize that those dark skinned  Americans whose ancestors were slaves are just as deserving of being called  regular Americans as those of us with light skins without any modifier that segregates them from the rest of us.

Americans with dark skins should be allowed to claim all of their ancestors, not just those who provided the genes responsible for their skin color.  Those of us with light skins need to accept the possibility that many of those with dark skins are our distant cousins.  Those of us whose ancestors arrived here a couple of centuries ago or came from the British Isles, especially Ireland, likely had relatives who had sexual relations with the descendants of Africans. We could also have ancestors who came from Africa. Those whose ancestors have lived in the south for several generations, especially if they have dark naturally curly hair,  could easily have an ancestor who passed for white at some time in the past.

Americans need to recognize that color is only skin deep.  It doesn't totally define us.          

Monday, July 31, 2017

Russia Sanctions Humiliate Hillary

I've been trying to find a logical reason for the Congressional vote for the extreme action of imposing sanctions on Russia.

Sanction supporters talk about what they call "fake news",but the term is just another word for propaganda which governments produce all  the time.  We didn't impose sanctions on the British government for its "fake news" stories about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Russian spying on candidates cannot justify sanctions because spying on political figures is  a common  government activity.  Besides the CIA had already infiltrated the Russian hackers who were the alleged spies.

The only significant difference in the situation is that the person Congress is concerned about is a woman, Hillary Clinton.   I believe Congress  is upset because  members think the big old Russian bear was mean to poor little defenseless Goldilocks.

Does anyone believe Congress would have taken a similar action if Donald Trump had been the alleged victim?  Or, for that matter the previous losing Democratic candidate John Kerry?

Congress didn't impose sanctions when Vietnam meddled in the 2004 election by producing  story claiming that potential Democratic presidential aspirant Sen Bob Kerrey had participated in a war crime in Vietnam 50 years earlier.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Charlie Gard's Parents Demonstrate British Fortitude

Americans  support Charlie Gard partly because his parents demonstrate the fortitude in the face of adversity that  Americans have long admired in the British.  Unfortunately for Charlie his doctors don't have that fortitude.   The doctors prefer a white flag of surrender to a "stiff upper lip"

If Charlie's parents had been in London during WWII they would have come out of the shelters between bombing raids and taken  care of business.  I don't know about his doctors.

The decision by Charlie's parents to ask for American help repeats   another British behavior.  During the last century when "Mother England" needed help she turned to her powerful "child" the United States.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Old Medicine vs. New Medicine

Poor baby Charlie Gard and his parents are caught in the old battle between compassionless medical traditionalists who are satisfied with existing medical knowledge and the experimentalists who are trying to advance medical knowledge  to reduce the number of disorders that cannot be successfully treated.   Traditionalists who don't know how to treat disorders tend to deny the possibility that patients like Charlie whom they don't know how to treat can be treated by anyone.   They are like selfish little children who don't want to let other children play with toys they aren't playing with at the time.  Traditionalists would rather have a patient die than allow someone else to treat and cure "their" patient. 

Traditionalists often call themselves "experts", but they are incapable of being experts because experts must be familiar with the latest knowledge as well as the traditional knowledge.   Development of new treatments can intimidate traditionalists because they don't know if they can learn the new knowledge.

Traditionalists don't understand that parents can accept a child's death more easily if they know they have tried every possible treatment.  Parents can accept death more easily if they know doctors have gained knowledge from their child's death that might help other children in the future.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Do British Understand Importance of Medical Research?

The efforts of British medical personnel to prevent Charlie Gard from  receiving experimental treatment implies they don't understand how important participating in medical research is.  All medical treatments begin as experiments.   Someone had to be the first to be treated for rabies.   Someone had to be the first to receive a heart transplant.   Sixty years ago my grandfather had experimental treatment for skin cancer on his face that didn't work as expected because, according to my dad, The doctor applied the radiation for too long.  Decades later doctors used the knowledge they gained from treating my grandfather and others to successfully treat my father and his brother as well as myself  for facial skin cancers.

Sometimes treatment developed for one malady can be used to treat another.  American entertainer Jerry Lewis helped raise millions to develop treatments for muscular dystrophy.  Doctor used one of those treatments to save Lewis from a potentially fatal heart problem.

We cannot tell in advance if Charlie Gard will benefit from experimental treatment.   If he does not his parents will know that their son's life served a purpose because  knowledge gained from treating  their son will eventually benefit the lives of other children just like knowledge from efforts to treat my grandfather's skin cancer benefited his sons and grandson.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Was "Russian Hacking" a CIA Sting?

Until I found stories about FSB's [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] arrest of Col.Sergei Mikhailov, I thought the claims about Russian hacking during last year's presidential
election  were probably false.   I know  the FSB is unlikely to be as effective as the legendary KGB, but  I wouldn't expect it to engage in the amateurish activities attributed to Russian hackers.  The CIA's connection with Col. Mikhailov raises the possibility the CIA was operating a sting to discredit Donald Trump.
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For example,  the KGB wouldn't have been satisfied with using hacking to get some emails from the Democratic Party headquarters.  The old KGB would have planted an agent in Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters.  This agent  would have occasionally downloaded documents, including summaries of meetings,   onto a zip drive.   Russians have been planting people in American organizations for 70 years. Why would the FSB switch to  a less productive means of acquiring  information?  A human agent can overhear conversations that contain information that doesn't get into the computer.

The CIA could have used Col. Mikhailov for more than just a  source of information about Russian activities.  The association potentially allowed the CIA to use Russian hackers to spy on Americans or on "friendly" governments like Britain or Germany.  Those detecting  the hacking would blame the Russians rather than the Americans.  European governments would complain if they caught the CIA spying on them.  Using Russian hackers potentially allowed the  CIA to gain information risk free.

 CIA could also have had Mikhailov send Russian agents to try to compromise American politicians.   Spy agencies sometimes have trouble resisting an urge to become power brokers.  The CIA has a history of involvement in other countries, particularly in the Middle East.  An agent of the World War II OSS [predecessor to the CIA]  admitted before he died that he was responsible for killing American World War II General George Patton.  Many Americans believe the CIA was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. 

The following statement is not intended to accuse the CIA of attempting to interfere in the process of determining who is the President of the United States.  I merely want to point out its actions are consistent with that possibility.  The CIA could have used the Russian hackers to keep Hillary Clinton from winning the election and then used other Russian agents to discredit her opponent Donald Trump and make him appear to be responsible for the Russian hackers.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Is Special Counsel Robert Mueller obstructing justice?

American prosecutors often treat the concept of obstruction of justice as if the concept only meant efforts to prevent them from successfully prosecuting a case.  That concept of obstruction might be acceptable in a country like  Nazi  Germany or the Soviet Union, but it is not acceptable in the United States of America.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights to American citizens accused of illegal actions.

A prosecutor who uses illegally obtained information in an investigation is guilty of obstruction of justice.   The Constitution guarantees those accused of crimes the right to confront their accusers in court because the British government had allowed convictions based on anonymous claims that might have been fabrications. Government agencies wanting to obtain information by electronic eavesdropping must first obtain approval by a judge.      Eavesdropping information obtained without court approval may be considered "fruit of the poisonous tree" and thus unusable by the prosecution.  The courts may prevent prosecution of individuals whose possible involvement in an activity is learned from "fruit of the poisonous tree"

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Should American Military Employ "Comfort Women"?

"Make love not war" was a popular slogan in the late sixties.   Soldiers in many wars  have found that "making love" is a way to forget the realities of war.

Sex and war have been connected since the first time men from one village attacked another village to kidnap women.    Invading armies often have a problem with soldiers sexually assaulting local  women. 
American military forces have an ongoing problem with male personnel sexually assaulting female personnel.   

Although genes don't control human behavior the way genes control the behavior of other animals,  genes do influence human behavior.    It may be significant that in species in which  males may fight each other to the death, the fighting is over acquisition of females.

During World  War II Japan decided to try to  prevent the rape problem by hiring women  to serve as "comfort women" who would provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers.   The size of the Japanese military hampered the effort to have an all volunteer unit.  Japan dealt with this situation by conscripting  women in the countries Japan conquered.  The controversy over the practice continues to  hamper relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Although I would not advocate the use of "comfort women", I recognize "comfort women"  could provide an option for reducing rapes by male personnel.

Women providing sexual services would probably have a military job title like "personal therapist".  The men they provide services to would be officially listed as "patients" and the "treatment" they receive would have the same privacy protection as other medical treatment.  Patients would have to pass some basic physical exam to make sure they don't have contagious diseases or medical conditions that sexual activity might affect.   Therapists  would inform patients that a doctor or nurse might monitor their treatment by video.  Any monitoring  would be for quality control as well as to protect the therapists.   There are rare cases in which even young seemingly healthy athletes have heart attacks during strenuous activity because of undetected heart conditions.

Therapists  would receive  training as counselors and be expected  to watch for problems like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so men could  receive treatment as early as possible.
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Outside  the building where the services are provided therapists would wear the same uniforms as other female personnel during the time when they are expected to be in uniform.     To guarantee personal privacy their living quarters would be separate from where the work area even if the living quarters are in the same building.    Therapists would receive hazardous duty pay because of the disease risk.   They would have a clothing allowance for their "work clothes".

I realize that some people will question  having the military encourage what they consider an immoral practice.   I would ask these people if they  consider war a more moral activity than making love.   What many ignore is that prostitution is a business relationship rather than a personal relationship.   Although some prostitutes enjoy their work,  they don't become involved with their clients.  The "personal therapists" I'm proposing would be providing a therapeutic service to those who are asked to risk their lives for their fellow Americans.  How can that be immoral?  

 Part of the rape problem is the failure of   American culture to teach men that they should learn to control their sexual nature.  Instead American culture encourages men to expect women to serve their sexual desires.   Unfortunately it isn't practical for the military to change men's sexual attitudes.   The most practical alternative is to employ women whose profession involves serving men's sexual needs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Hero's Last Mission

This is the city, Fallujah, Iraq.  When insurgents took over the city, elements of the 3rd Marine Regiment went to work to force them out.

It was Monday November 15th. It was hot in Fallujah.    As part of  Operation Al Fajr  Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment was clearing houses of insurgents.

Sgt. Rafael Peralta volunteered to join an undermanned squad participating in the operation even though he wasn't required to.   Although  Peralta wasn't born in the United States, he was so grateful for being given a green card he decided to enlist in the Marines. 
 
[Psychology professors often conduct an experiment in which someone enters the classroom does something and then leaves the room.  Students typically give a variety of different accounts of what happened.   If this happens in a stable situation, imagine  the difficulty of recognizing and remembering what happened in a chaotic situation when someone is shooting at you and all are moving. 

Those of us who have watched videos of football plays which last only a few seconds know it is sometimes necessary to rewind the video a few times to tell what happened and what order various actions occurred.   The entire incident in Iraq from the opening of the door to the explosion of the grenade might have taken six seconds or less.]

After clearing several  houses the Marines  entered a  house where they found two rooms.  After clearing the first two rooms the Marines found that the two rooms were linked at the  other end where they found the closed door to a third room.  .  

  Sgt. Peralta opened the door to the third room and they were  met by gunfire.   In the confusion that followed. combat correspondent Lance Corporal T.J. Kaemmerer thought  that Peralta was hit in the face with gunfire,.  However, this claim is inconsistent with the pathologist report that his fatal head wound was in the back of the  head rather than the face.   The statement that  "he jumped into the already cleared, adjoining room"indicates Peralta  was not seriously wounded by the initial gunfire.

I doubt  Kaemmerer's description of a grenade "bouncing" into the room Peralta was in.  Grenades don't bounce very well and a grenade coming in like that wouldn't have gotten much past the door.   I think it is more probable that   Peralta followed the grenade into the room.    Peralta was in the best position to see the grenade come through the doorway. His view of the doorway could have allowed him to see the grenade as it left the insurgent's hand.  His movement after he opened the door might have been intended to help him try to catch the grenade or deflect it. If  the insurgent noticed Peralta he likely tried to throw the grenade so it would be difficult for Peralta to catch.

Gravity would have caused the grenade to hit the floor less than half a second after it was thrown.  The insurgent would have had to throw the grenade at a speed of at least 30-45 mph [44-66 feet per second] to get it into the room with the Marines  It likely would have exploded in four seconds or less.  It would have been difficult for someone who didn't see the grenade coming toward him to see it until it was on the floor.

Peralta wouldn't have had time to think about what he was doing.  He would only have had time to react.  Peralta might have tried, and failed, to catch the grenade.  The grenade could have hit him in the face if he had gotten in it's  path.   In this case, others might have interpreted his motions as an indication he had been shot. 

 Based on Kaemmerer's description of the rooms,I am wondering if the grenade could have landed where the Marines saw it unless Peralta deflected  it, possibly while trying to catch it.  If he had deflected it to an area with other Marines he would have felt an obligation to follow it.  He would have "jumped into  the room", as Kaemmerer says, to save time. When he thought he was close enough  he would have tried to dive onto the grenade to save time.  This motion would have  drawn the attention of the other Marines  to the grenade.   They would have seen him first and then the grenade and assumed the grenade arrived after he was on the floor.  If his dive had left him short of the grenade, he would have had to reach for it. 
 
  Peralta could not have pulled the grenade under his body directly if he had been lying face down on the floor.  He would have had to have rolled onto his side to get enough clearance so the grenade would fit under his body when he rolled back onto it. The other Marines describe him as pulling the grenade to his body which is how it would have looked to them even if he used his hand to "bat" the grenade toward his torso to save time.    The time required for this maneuver would likely have meant the grenade would have exploded before he could have rolled onto it.  He still could have protected those who were behind him.  If the grenade exploded as it was moving the fuse might have hit his body armor with the fragments hitting another area of the body.   The grenade might even have bounced off the body armor as it exploded.  

As I noted above, I doubt that Peralta received the controversial head wound when he opened the door.  If he had been wounded at that time he would have fallen in the doorway rather than moving into the adjoining room.   It is unlikely he could have been hit in the back of the head at that time.    Insurgents bullets would have hit him in the face.   "Friendly fire" at point   blank range would have dropped him where he stood.   Insurgent fire would have been unlikely to have hit him directly  once he moved away from the doorway.   However, there would have remained the possibility of a ricochet off a hard wall. .

The most likely time for him to have been hit in the back of the head was after he was on the floor.   One of the Marines might have fired accidentally in the confusion after seeing the grenade.  [Although my duties in an army post office in Vietnam didn't involve clearing buildings there was always the possibility that the enemy would have gotten inside the perimeter at night.   In that situation I would have kept my finger on the trigger in spite of the  danger of accidentally  putting just enough pressure on the trigger to fire a round.]  If the floor where Peralta  lay was hard enough  a round could have ricocheted off the floor and hit his head.   The Marines probably would not have noticed the   sound of a rifle fired nearly simultaneously  with the explosion of the grenade.  A Marine who reflexively  placed a little  too much pressure on the trigger might not have noticed what he had done if he had been preoccupied with the grenade.

Something strange happened that November morning in a Fallujah building.   A grenade went off in a room with several Marines and only one of the them was killed.   The Marines who survived said that the dead Marine. Sgt. Rafael Peralta, used his body to protect them from the  grenade.     A pathologist claims a head wound would have  prevented Peralta from covering the grenade  even though Peralta might have been wounded after he moved to cover the grenade.   Unless someone can come up with an alternate explanation of why only one man died, the Pentagon should accept the explanation of the eyewitnesses and award a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor to Sgt. Peralta. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Amazing Grace: The Perfect Hymn


"Amazing Grace"  is one of the most popular hymns because it has a simple message and readily lends itself to being performed  in different ways. It can be sung fast or slow, loud or soft.  Reporter Bill Moyers once did a PBS documentary about the hymn "Amazing Grace" which included several different ways of singing the hymn.   When I was in college I learned a version sung to the tune of "The Wanderer". 

I have heard impressive performances played on a magnificent pipe organ and on a simple harmonica.  It can be played on a heavenly sounding harp or on a jazzy trumpet.  I don't know of any song I would rather hear on the bagpipes.  Or, "Amazing Grace" can be sung acappella as  Judy Collins did in a 1970 recording.    

Some call "Amazing Grace" a white spiritual because  it combines English words with an African melody.  I had never really thought about where the melody came from until Larnell Harris mentioned it on one of the Gaither music programs.  According to Harris the melody is an Africa sorrow chant. 

John Newton, who wrote  "Amazing Grace", likely learned the melody while working on slave ships and briefly being a slave himself in West Africa.  When Newton wrote "a wretch like me" he meant it literally.  Newton's sailing career began when he joined the crew of his sea captain father's ship.  Newton served on various ships after his father retired before ending up on the slave ship Pegasus. He had so much trouble getting along with the rest of the crew that they eventually sold him to a west African slave trader who turned Newton over to his wife who abused Newton in the same way as her other slaves.  After a friend of Newton's father rescued him. he returned to sailing and subsequently became the captain of a slave ship.  A religious conversion eventually led him to become  minister.  Decades later he became a leading advocate for abolishing slavery. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Was ISIS Behind Syria Gas Attack?


Those who claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad  used poison gas against rebels need to consider the possibility that some members of his military are ISIS sympathizers.  Considering the reaction Assad generated when he previously used nerve gas, it seems unlikely he would use gas now.  He would be unlikely to receive any benefit from using gas.

ISIS could be the biggest potential beneficiary of  using gas because of the potential of an American response against Syria.  On the eve of World War II Germany created the appearance of  a Polish attack on a German radio station to justify  a German invasion of Poland.  ISIS could have had its operatives replace regular Syrian munitions with poison gas so that the Syrian government would appear to be responsible for using the gas.

I'm sure ISIS would love to get President Donald Trump to repeat President Barack Obama's huge blunder in Libya.  Obama created  a political vacuum in Libya by overthrowing the government without the presence of a viable replacement.   Terrorists quickly took advantage of the opportunity to operate in Libya.   ISIS gained supporters from those upset about American and European "imperialism".

Syrian rebels don't appear any more capable of controlling the country than Libyan rebels were at the time of the Western invasion.   American overthrow of the Syrian government would give ISIS an opportunity  to replace the geographic base it is losing in Iraq.

Westerners sometimes ask why people in the Middle East hate western nations so much.   The people of the Middle East resent Western intervention in their countries.  The areas that today are the site of countries with names like "Egypt", "Syria", "Iran" and "Iraq" were  the locations of the capitals of great empires when Europeans were too primitive to have governments.   ISIS and other terrorist organizations claim they can restore a Middle Eastern empire.

Those who claim Adolf Hitler didn't use poison gas in WWII ignore the gas chambers Hitler used to murder Jews. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Do Gold Sellers Know Something Buyers Don't?

Some of the tv channels  I watch have been inundated in recent years by people trying to get others to buy gold.  They tout gold as a great investment that will go up in value.

If they really believe gold will be worth more next week  why do they want to sell now?   Do they know something about future gold prices that others don't know?  What will they invest the money they get from selling their gold in?

One reason they might want to sell is that they think the supply of gold will increase and cause a drop in price.  Some  people believe the Pebble deposit   in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska could contain a significant amount of gold.   Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.  hopes the Trump administration will approve its application to mine this region.  Approval of the application would likely cause  an increase in the price of Northern Dynasty stock and a reduction in the price of gold.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Black Men Don't Matter on Decades Channel

I'm white, but I am concerned that the  February schedule for the "Decades" television channel  could indicate the staff is racist.   February is supposed to be Black History month, but you can barely tell it from the Decades program schedule.   The emphasis is on publicizing the lives of those they call remarkable women even though women have the month of March as their month.

Decades normally has a schedule that combines history documentaries and entertainment programs. Each weekday has a program that summarizes major events that occurred on that day which may include events such as a birth or career milestone in a celebrity's life.  Weekends have marathons called "binges" of a single series.  Lately they have been running mini-binges with two 3-hour periods devoted to a single series possibly featuring a celebrity being emphasized that day.   This month they are running series featuring predominately white women.  They are running a week of shows featuring black women, but except for "Touched by an Angel"  the shows have a white male as the principle character.

There aren't very many female entertainers who are more remarkable than Debbie Allen who played  a dancing teacher on "Fame" while being the show's choreographer.  She later became a successful director.   Diahann Carroll as "Julia" was one of the first black women to play the central character in a sitcom.    "Barefoot in the Park", a series about a young black couple,  was the first show since "Amos and Andy" to feature a predominately black cast.  Teresa Graves starred in "Get Christie Love" the first series about  a police woman since the fifties' series "Police Decoy",

 I had expected they would emphasize programs featuring black performers to observe Black History Month possibly including episodes of Nat King Cole's program.   There's no good reason to run women's programs instead of black programs this month. One thing that would have been great would have been to run different series showing how the roles available to blacks changed since the fifties.   If they wanted to devote two months to women's programs instead of one month they could have used April instead of February.   The devotion of a week to black women indicates they believe  black women matter.  The lack of a similar  week for lack men implies they don't believe black  men matter.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Will Trump Bring Down Gold Prices?

You've probably seen the ads urging you to purchase gold.   You might want to investigate Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. first.  If the company gets EPA approval for its request to mine the Pebble deposit in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska the price of gold will drop while the price of Northern Dynasty Minerals stock increases.

I had been wondering why some people are so anxious to sell their gold if it is such a great investment. It appears they want to sell before the supply of gold increases causing a drop in gold prices.  Of course they won't warn their customers that the price may drop.