Monday, December 19, 2016

Sharing one "conversation" I've had on Reddit's ASK ME ANYTHING!

I've been amazed at how often a question of this nature has been asked. I wondered why, and one response was that it was a curiosity about when our society changed from a simpler time to a more hectic frenetic lifestyle.  Any other thoughts?

What is your favorite decade and why?

Monday, December 5, 2016

The importance of a caring, supportive government!

Last week four of my days were absorbed by visits to a doctor. Each one was an expensive specialist. And the week before that I had my annual physical. The cost to me will probably be minuscule. I am so grateful for a federal government that supervises Medicare and a state government that provides me with supplementary insurance because of my years of service as an educator. Yet the cost of my much appreciated physical well-being is minuscule in comparison to the finances the federal government provided in extending the life of my wife (now deceased) for many years thanks to a kidney transplant. And further that two of my children are alive because of the kidney transplant also provided at federal government expense. The expense of ANY ONE of these operations without such assistance would have wreaked havoc upon my ability to enjoy life in retirement.

And I leave it to the reader to regularly look for those things "governments" provide to enrich our lives that we all take too much for granted.

PS – But I would be remiss if I did not also pay tribute to individuals and family units that made the transplants possible:

– The family of the individual whose organs were used in transplants.
– The student who donated one of her kidneys to her former professor.
– The friend who donated one of her kidneys.
– And of course all those in the development of science and its application to make such "miracles" possible.

I think it was Barbra who sang about, "People who need people.........."


Monday, November 21, 2016

Here are some thoughts I "just had to get off my mind" from a week ago!

DON'T JUST DEMONSTRATE EDUCATE and COMMUNICATE I have nothing against demonstrations! There's a time and place for them and they have resulted in a great deal of progress in improving the world's and particularly the American social structure. But to put it crassly and crudely, we are dealing with a different "animal" than we have confronted before. Here is an individual whose egotistical, perverse and illogical thinking has found a response in a frustrated segment of American society. An individual whose nihilistic quest for power divided the American populace and was expressed through lies and falsehoods that were reminiscent of dictators of the past. But the people have spoken. He is our president and we must not follow recent precedence and do everything in our power to have him fail. So what is my plan? Here's a man who thinks only of power and that any means justify his ends. Here is a man who has little understanding of the nuances of the American democracy and the subtleties and tradition of government. Just consider two of his first pronouncements as President-elect as he confronts two of the most "hot button" issues that have faced the electorate over the past half-century: abortion and marriage equality! An alert electorate should know how much he has waffled on both these issues in the recent past. And now in trying to satisfy a greater audience he shows his ignorance by passing one issue off as established law and the other as something to be decided by the individual states. How limited is his knowledge not only of the law but also of the injustice and unfairness to individuals. What is his belief? Legal in Oregon and criminal in Texas? How can a woman in Texas with limited funds make the trip? How can she follow her conscience and not bring a severely dis-formed fetus into the world and create unspeakable misery for herself and society? So what possibly can be done? Rather than succumb to power, there are other vehicles for bringing change. 1. Here is a man who believes in communication who has used social media to his advantage and has adroitly manipulated the free press to get his message across. Let's inundate him with truth and a greater understanding of the complexities of society for those who have not been blessed with life's advantages as he has. Let's so overwhelm the postal system with conventional mail that it will no longer be in the red – thus helping the economy – and getting his attention in this one way. At the same time let's use the social media so thoroughly that it might even cause his twittering to cease. 2. Here is a man who is the epitome of the elite American who has no knowledge of the real essence of America. He needs to be educated. Indeed I feel sorry for a man who thinks only of control, manipulation and is so self-centered that he thinks only of his own welfare – who flaunts the conventions of American society by doing everything he can to keep from paying federal income tax and not even being honest with America by failing to disclose his financial status. A man who in business dealings thinks only of himself and the privileged few who are investment partners with him. The essence of America is change. The power of the protest was extremely valuable at one time. It's time for the moral fiber of America to step forward and take a stand bringing enlightenment and opportunity for all through the moral force spoken of by recent leaders and the founders of the great religions of the world. But I must take leave for Thanksgiving. But I feel compelled to again bring you the 20 minutes of thoughts from my Unitarian minister who compares Trummp's WALL with a TABLE - the traditional THANKSGIVING TABLE where all are welcome. It can be heard at

Friday, November 11, 2016

Putting the election in perspective through a remarkable experiene

How dramatic to see some 250 Muslim men and 25 Muslim women giving their rapt attention to their Imam for Friday noontime prayers in the basement of our Christian church. It was striking to see the beauty of their rugs, the prone, prayerful position of the participants, the rapt attention to their Arabic prayers (indecipherable to the three non-Muslims in the room) and the inspiring spiritual words delivered by the Imam that we could all appreciate.

I attended because I felt that I (and two others of our church members) could provide succor and support as we had done previously when the initial outbreaks of Islamophobia "broke out" in our land. At that time we provided welcome signs before and coffee after their service. It was gratifying to make friends and have our welcoming attempts so warmly appreciated. This time we felt the need to do more – to help them and show our support in joint worship.

While old friendships were renewed and appreciation expressed for our support, the most amazing aspect of the experience for me was the emotional spiritual impact I received during worship. How striking that it was I who was comforted by an "immigrant from Sudan" reminded me that "our countries system of checks and balances provides protection"!  How moving were the words of the Imam in one service as he spoke of the need for understanding that justice and love would prevail. In the second service a different Imam stressed that while we cannot control what others do we can only continue to show patience and understanding within ourselves.

How remarkable that in trying to reach out to others I was helped and finally able to put the events in a broader perspective.

And how confirmed I feel in a view I have been attempting to express ever since I began "Ranting and Raving": that religion has been a major culprit in separating people and causing heinous division and conflict, but that it is only through an fuller understanding of religion that we will achieve world peace and understanding.

I look forward to increased discussion and dialogue in the few years I have left to try to continue the arc of justice and equality for all.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The only way I know to vent my frustration about election 2016!

What can I possibly say after an election that results in having elected as my president a man who has constantly lied and used language and techniques that offend me? Certainly I'm tempted to follow the pattern set by Republicans recently when Barack Obama was elected president – to hope that he fails.

But how counterproductive that would be! The past eight years of heroic leadership by Obama has shown how difficult it is to make progress when obstructionism is the major focus of the opposition party.  How bleak it is when one realizes that this new "leadership" will be the face of America for the next four and possibly eight years.  How sad that the progress of the last eight years of more inclusiveness is vulnerable and can be overturned by the union of a conservative party led by an egotistic showman.

But the historic leadership of the United States as a bastion of freedom and opportunity for all has been built on a democratic foundation that enables constructive change to be made. While the results of the election have been extremely disappointing, I find a "path to the future" in the recent Democratic primaries and the pronouncements of the party platform. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAKING CHANGE IN THE TRULY DEMOCRATIC WAY CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION!
We do not have to put up with four years.  With a "know nothing" preside we do not have to put up with four years (using words that sink to HIS level).  It is in Congress* that the action can (AND SHOULD) take place,  And it calls for ALL OF US who were so energized by the Bernie supporters and all who were so repulsed by the candidacy of Donald (including responsible Republicans) to
BEGIN NOW TO START CHANGING CONGRESS IN TWO YEARS.  It is the nitty gritty work of democracy and something we must all commit to.

To me, the lessons of this election are myriad and begin with the need for all who want true justice and opportunity for all and the progress of the last eight years to ignore petty differences and unite to CHANGE THE MAKEUP OF CONGRESS IN 2020!

Indeed in my almost 91 years I have never seen such a disappointing election.  I'll have much more to say in the next few weeks.  I hope you will stay tuned.


*See Franklin Foer's article

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A final look at the election of 2016

90 year oldster considers the three most critical elections of his lifetime!

This is a rant I had planned to send several weeks ago, however I felt that it missed the mark! After a most enjoyable two weeks away from election news while on a cruise of the Mediterranean Sea and reading (most of) the book, The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century & The Birth of the Modern Mind, by A.C. Grayling, I've now recalled two other elections which cause me see the election from a different perspective – one VERY pertinent for the current election. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO READ THE FOLLOWING BRIEF CHANGE IN MY PERSPECTIVE. And, of course, if you find it interesting and would like more of my thoughts – KEEP going and read the rest!

I truly regret that in 1968 I was too involved with my family and working in a racially divided and tense school to pay much attention to the election. For those non-historians and/or those too young to remember, it was the election most noted for the contentiousness and hostility between Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley's police force and the idealistic young people – and others – opposing the war in Vietnam. Of course the stage was set earlier by the assassination of Dr. King and frustration was already at the boiling point when favored candidate for change Robert Kennedy was murdered in California shortly before the convention. Neither of the other candidates favored by those seeking dramatic change, Eugene McCarthy or George McGovern, had a chance against the establishments preferred candidate Hubert Humphrey.

Result: A lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic Party to unite behind the one candidate (other than the South's George Wallace) who had a chance against Richard M. Nixon, the Republican "law and order" nominee.

LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM 1968 – How different the world might be today had there been a willingness to get behind the best choice available and THEN CONTINUE TO WORK FOR THE BELIEFS AND PRINCIPLES ONE HOLDS DEAR.

Occasionally one is tempted to become cynical about elections and ask "Does it really matter?" From my perspective I would point to the contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore. There's little doubt in my mind that an administration with people more knowledgeable about the complexity of the problems of the Middle East would have used better judgment before again initiating war against Iraq.

How different our world might be today.

Putting aside all of the questions about emails and judgment in the separation of personal and public positions or gathering money for the benefit of (mostly) humankind, I have little doubt that my 90 years of experience shows this to be – given the choices we have – the most critical election of my lifetime. The choice must be Hillary over Donald!

And if you still want further thoughts:

Since 1925 when "Silent Cal" was president, I have seen 14 men elected since Mr. Coolidge. Without a doubt I consider the present election to be the most critical of my lifetime. But first a brief look at the other two.

The first one I remember distinctly was in 1936 when first-term president Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran against Alfred M. Landon, the governor of Kansas. Although the pork-pie hat I wore was festooned with sunflowers from the Sunflower State, I quickly learned that my campaigning efforts were in vain. Landon carried but two states, Maine and Vermont. Despite my biases, I've since realized that we not only needed Roosevelt to see us through the depression and WWII, but Roosevelt's “New Deal” set the tone for having the government play a much greater role in making society better for the more of the citizenry.

Fast-forward to 1964 and the campaign pitting Sen. Barry Goldwater against Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson. What a classic struggle between conservative principles and a liberal president. Although Johnson was fettered by the morass of Vietnam, he both furthered civil rights and raised our consciousness to work toward a "Great Society".

But nothing for me has matched the vitriol and the divisiveness (but yet the promise) of the current campaign. It could have hardly started on a worse note with the personal attacks by fellow Republicans in a party that I was once a member of through the election of Richard Nixon. (Yes, I admit it, I favored Nixon over Kennedy.) And while many in the Republican Party felt proud of having 14 “outstanding” candidates, the debate and events surrounding the nominating process soon became a national embarrassment. Not only did members of the Republican Party express shock at the final selection of the party, but most of the entire world was dismayed by the pronouncements, divisiveness and repudiation of American values and actions of the past by Trump's ranting as a candidate.
Meanwhile the Democrats limited its conflict to just two major contenders. One was a neophyte to the party, had as his major constituency many young people who had never before been actively involved in party politics and had the "dreaded" word to many Americans "socialist" in his pedigree. The other candidate has had so much exposure in the political arena, had taken a number of questionable actions of either poor judgment or legal misfeasance that a majority of Americans seem to have no confidence in her judgment. And, of course, the fact that her spouse had been involved in behavior that caused him to be impeached by Congress was held against her.

Thus the country seems to be faced not with selecting a preferred candidate, but the one least disliked by a majority of the voters. How then can one feel that this is an election with great promise? For me it rests in a personal look at the appeal and foibles of the three most viable candidates.

Trump – there's hardly anything negative I can say about the man than has already stated even more strongly than I might utter by his fellow Republicans. To me he represents everything that can go awry in an egalitarian democratic society from his inherited head start in life to a lifestyle centered on himself and the use of any technique to push his agenda – gaining notoriety and wealth. It has been seen most clearly in the divisive campaign he has run and the staff he has chosen to assist him. I see his candidacy as a total embarrassment to a country I love. Looking for silver linings, however, I can cite 2 benefits from his campaign:
  1. He has spotlighted the travail of so many Americans who have been left behind in a country where wage inequality has grown at a furious pace, and
  2. he provides an opportunity for the voters to show that they cannot be duped by a Huey Long or Father Coughlin type figure, a fascist, who proclaims he has all the answers and pits one group of citizens against the another.

Sanders - was a populist addition to the campaign who obviously struck a major chord in youth along with their idealism. Knowing something of the powerful organization of political parties, I felt he had little chance as the campaign began. But I underestimated the zeal of youth and the commitment of elders seeking a better opportunity for all Americans. One could feel the shock of his supporters as they reluctantly realized that party elders and lifelong volunteers prevailed by nominating a candidate long associated with what they perceived as the status quo. It is however exciting to think of the possible lasting results from the involvement of the Bernies:
  1. That since their enthusiasm almost achieved its desired effect, it is imperative that they learn from their experience and become a continuing strong voice on the American scene, and
  2. that since their cries for greater equality and opportunity for all had resonance throughout the country, they can join forces with the establishment and with continuing involvement, they can convert many who too easily fell prey to a fascist type leader.

Clinton – throughout her life she has brought to the national scene the liberal causes espoused by her opponent. What a remarkable story of the American dream has been hers! Coming from a conservative middle-class Midwest home, she followed tradition throughout her youth yet by dint of effort and intelligence, found her own voice for liberal causes from civil rights to advocacy for children and healthcare. Along the way she of course made mistakes from being a zealot for certain causes to errors of judgment shared by virtually all the men who preceded her. History is replete with honored males whose missteps have been forgotten as they made contributions to society – and for themselves. And what other presidential candidate has borne the same prejudice against them because of negative publicity given to their spouse. Just as the presidency of our first African American president has shown the continued racism of society, a large segment of our nation refuses to acknowledge the ability of women.

From the the two candidates who have a chance to be elected for president, there is but one who can continue to uphold that office with dignity and respect. There is only one candidate whose life shows a commitment to the causes I believe in. One candidate who works as a team member supported by a party platform that endorses the American values that I believe in. One candidate who feels that American exceptionalism is built upon the values espoused in our political documents and symbolisms of freedom and justice and a welcoming for all who come to our shores. One candidate who continues the equal opportunity for all as evidenced by the election of the current incumbent Barack Obama.
It was a thrill for me to see the election of our first African-American president. I feel he has nobly led us through difficult times. I will be equally thrilled to see a woman elected president in her own right who, if given a chance, will work to unite our nation.

I have too long been silent and basked in the accolades of being a part of the "Greatest Generation". That "greatness" stems primarily from our unity in facing three malignant dictatorial powers as we were joined by an almost unified world. However I find it impossible to accept generalized greatness for a generation that perpetuated bigotry, did little to stem lynchings, failed to open its doors to refugees even as they languished on ships within sight of our shores who were persecuted by demons and we placed our own patriotic citizens in concentration (that is what they were called) camps because of their ethnicity. Yet the sons of many of those patriotic parents died defending the freedom of the rest of us.

We now have a generation who because of their zeal and support of the true American dream can become an even greater generation by continuing to be involved in making better FOR ALL the best governmental system devised by humans.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A frequently asked question among the thousand or so I've had on Reddit's AMA

"You seem to have lived a remarkable life. I'm 20 years old and I'd appreciate any advice you could give me, and others like me, for the future."

It should be obvious that it is from statements like this that I get a great deal of pleasure in conversing with the young people of Reddit. Often there are qualifiers regarding the individual's situation and we often engage in a two-way conversation.

Unfortunately since I am hastily preparing to take leave for three weeks, I'm not able to give an in-depth deeply thought expose. But I did want to share a reaction to a bit of research I've seen recently that verifies a recent concern of mine - a rather mundane topic that I've yearned to talk about with young people.

Last year, the U.S. had the highest one-year percentage increase in traffic deaths in half a century, according to 2015 data released Wednesday by the National Safety Council (NSC). Initial estimates, which may be revised when more information becomes available, indicate that 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2015, and roughly 4.4 million sustained injuries that resulted in medical consultations. The number of deaths rose 8 percent from 2014, compared with a less than 0.5 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 and a 3 percent drop the previous year.  

While I am well aware that oldsters like me may well often be the culprit, and therer are multiple causes, here's my simple bit of advise:(unsolicited I know) for young people:


So that's my prejjudice/advise for all whether you asked for it or not.  I primarily wanted to have a final say before being away for 3 weeks.  I've been more than gratified to see the great increase in "hits" on my RANT BLOG.

But even more important, I feel, is making sure as many as possible read the Rant (and listen to the lecture) of two weeks ago.  If you haven't seen it, may I strongly suggest you continue for 20 minutes or so to consider the following quote and the speech it inspired?

-Nikki Giovanni
I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn't
And she scared me
And I smashed her
I don't think
I'm allowed
To kill something
Because I am
Giovanni's simple poem served as the focus of a very powerful lecture that gave an implicit, yet veiled, insight into present national and world-wide conditions..
But I'm compelled to be up front and tell you that it was delivered as a sermon in the church I attend and feel very comfortable in although I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist – truly, I guess, a humanist.

And regardless of what your view of "church/mosque/synagogue" going might be, I hope you'll follow the leads below, take 20 minutes to give the talk a listen.  It's the sermon for Sunday, October 2.

I'm sorry it does not include the very moving and nontraditional "songs".
Pete Seeger's, "If I Had A Hammer" 
Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny ''Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding"
"Bright Morning Star" with Cantor and choir and
The traditional Afro-American spiritual, "There Is More Love Somewhere"

Here's the link ;

I'll welcome any thoughts and reactions.

See you in a month.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Transcription of a very moving lecture I attended this week.

-Nikki Giovanni
I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn't
And she scared me
And I smashed her
I don't think
I'm allowed
To kill something
Because I am
Giovanni's simple poem served as the focus of a very powerful lecture that gave an implicit, yet veiled, insight into present national and world-wide conditions..
But I'm compelled to be right up front and tell you that it was delivered as a sermon in the church I attend and feel very comfortable in although I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist – truly I guess a humanist.

And regardless of what your view of "church/mosque/synagogue" going might be, I hope you'll follow the leads below, take 20 minutes to give the talk a listen.  It's the sermon for Sunday, October 2.

I'm sorry it does not include the very moving and nontraditional "songs".
Pete Seeger's, "If I Had A Hammer" 
Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny ''Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding"
"Bright Morning Star" with Cantor and choir and
The traditional Afro-American spiritual, "There Is More Love Somewhere"

Here's the link ;

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Uber and the free enterprise system

Last Saturday when there was a light, misty rain we needed transportation from Cleveland Park to Washington's National Airport. Turning first to Uber, we were dismayed to learn that the cost would be $42. Thus we turned to our "old-fashioned" but government regulated taxi system, and were quoted a $21 charge.

Thus I'm forced to continuing to assess the merits of free enterprise vis-à-vis carefully considered governmental regulations. And it further confirms for me an innate hostility toward systems that tend to encourage wage earners to seek added employment to support family needs in contrast with a living wage for all workers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A "needed" break in takling about the election.

Here is a question and my answer to a question posed me two months ago on my Ask Me Anything (AMA) Reddit dialogue system.  I thought it was time to take a break in looking at the election - (I get more and more depressed as I see Trump's numbers rising!)

I've truly been impressed by the thoughtful questions posed me.  I just wish I had more time to answer them more quickly and give more time to giving thoughtful answers - I merely dictate thoughts that come into my head.  

Here's a question that came to me and the answer I gave. I thought others might be interested.

The question: 

Honestly, I've got a thousand questions I'd love to ask you. But, since I'm sure you've got a flood, I'll pick the three I'd love for you to answer. I'm a biology major intending to go into aging research to discover why we age, how we age, and ultimately how we can control the aging process. So, my first question is fairly predictable. If you could live another 90 years (in, say, the health of a 50-year-old), would you? Another 900?
Second, you were an adult in a time when prejudice regarding race, sexuality, and religion were incredibly blatant and really were systemic oppression, fully encoded into US law. A great many older folks (I live in the American South, so my sample size may be skewed) still hold ideologies of decades gone by. Would you say your perceptions of race, sexuality, and religion have changed over the years? You seem very progressive in such areas, so I'd love to hear about how you were back when you were 20-30.
Third, what do you most want to live long enough to see? If there was anything you wanted to happen in your lifetime that you would die happy if you could see, what would it be? Has it already happened, or is it yet to come?

And so my answer:

[–]dcretiree [S1 point just now 
First of all I must say that it's the opportunity to relate to young people that is one of the major factors in my allegedly youthful demeanor and condition. Your questions are quite fascinating and so I'll just ruminate – and probably make mistakes – on my Dragon dictation machine.
  1. Live another 90 years? Not if Trump is elected! I do have trouble with hypotheticals, but I almost feel that nature – plus reasonable medical assistance – has provided an ideal life span – for me at least. Human intelligence has not created proper vehicles – yet at least – for meaningful existence of so many more people to live on this planet.
  2. I to was brought up in the South until I went into the military at age 17 for three years. And while I did not participate in furthering civil rights, "something innate within me" kept me from the blatant racism that was present in San Antonio in the 30s and 40s. I attributed to two things – a. Parents, although they only had a fifth and an eighth grade education, never showed any racial hostility, and b. A liberal mainline church that gave emphasis to the TEACHINGS of Jesus. The one area in which I have changed the most is in the field of gay and lesbian acceptance. As a child my only concept of gay men was that they were predators of boys – and with three aunts who never married but had scores of female friends, I never even knew the term lesbian. Fortunately my life experiences have  changed my attitude completely.
  3. I would die tomorrow with a smile on my face if the nations of the world would support a United Nations organization that would be strong enough to stop war and solve all disputes through arbitration.
Thanks for asking.

PS – for this rant: In rereading this I note that I give short shrift to religion other than emphasizing the importance of the teachings of Jesus. I do not want to minimize how dramatically my perception of religion has changed. While religion is still central in my life, I approach it as an agnostic atheist. I do not believe in the God that was projected to me throughout my formative years, but feel there is some mysterious "force" that attracts ALL peoples to the good. Personally I appreciate and support the good work of "all enlightened religious institutions" but feel that all religions – at least those based on love and peace – have much to offer in the way of instilling constructive life values.

Thus you see the enjoyment I have in sharing thoughts with the thousand or so young people through Reddit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lessons from the conservative side of Bobby Kennedy!

Some hurried thoughts from a new biography of the life of Robert F. Kennedy

One of the most thrilling things about hearing authors talk about their books is the great insight, knowledge and above all, enthusiasm they bring to their topic. Larry Tye more than exceeded that as he spoke about his book, "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon".   The elderly audience was, of course, aware of Bobby's enthusiastic support for Joseph McCarthy, one of the all-time most sinister and reviled figures by liberals,  Bobby was not only on his staff in his "shameless " hearings, but he went against his older brother's wishes and attended McCarthy's funeral in 1957 as the only Democrat in attendance.

I was mesmerized by the talk and found some interesting parallels with our present election and the one that Bobby was prevented from entering because of his assassination by Sirhan Sirhan. And while I'm working to soon share my deeply held feelings about the election, I felt a compunction to immediately share some thoughts.
  1. Both the present election and that of 1968 were noteworthy for charismatic figures attractive to varied segments of the population: Eugene McCarthy and Bobby and Donald Trump and Bernie.  
  2. The country was extremely divided and young people were aroused as never before by causes they firmly believed. Certainly this is true again for two groups of the population, the "underclass" that Trump is appealing to and youthful voters who rally to the many causes that are espoused by Bernie.
  3. Humphrey's defeat of McCarthy and the death of Bobby Kennedy silenced many young voters and caused them to be disenchanted with the system.  While protests continued, there was no effort to join with the establishment to counter the reactionary forces that maintained control.
  4. How dramatically Bobby changed from the searing lessons that life thrust upon him. From a father who supported right wing causes and bigotry and McCarthy supporter, he became a champion for racial justice and all important liberal causes. In my personal experience in responding to youth in a series of AMAs, I was appalled more than once to see that my present views were unacceptable because I had once voted (in my innocence) for Richard Nixon. How important it is in looking at candidates or anyone, that we understand the full scope of their life, not just single events or skills.
In many ways I see the election of 1968 as one of the three previous critical elections of my lifetime.  TO ME, HOWEVER, NONE OF THEM EQUALS OUR PRESENT DIVISIVE CONTEST!

As a former history teacher, I truly believe,that we MUST learn from the past.  Tye's book  provides us with that opportunity.
  1.  I sincerely hope that young people will continue their activism and become involved in ALL aspects of the political system and not give up on the democratic system, and
  2. that voters will look beyond flamboyance, fascist calls for law and order and divisive appeals and look at the total trajectory of candidates lives.    I trust they will see the many difficulties Mrs. Clinton has faced (and overcome) in working to make an inclusive village out of our richly diverse American society.
Next week I'll truly try to express my strongest feelings. That one of the most vitriolic undercurrent themes of the Trump campaign is SEXISM!

But recalling Bobby Kennedy and the McCarthy hearings I remembered one of  the most searing statements I have ever heard, the turning point in a divided countries response to McCarthyism, when Army legal counsel, Joe Welch asked of the Senator, "At long last,have you left no sense of decency?"

After some of the statements and position of Donald Trump, I felt like asking the same question.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How I wish all America could have joined us……

…… as my college age granddaughter and I worshiped at a Muslim mosque.

Several months ago as the virulent anti-Muslim voices became even more pronounced throughout our country, I felt compelled to do something in support of those of the Islamic faith. Knowing that the Christian church I attend provides space each Friday for Muslim prayers, I felt that the least I could do would be to welcome these worshipers. As I stood outside the door to welcome them and was joined by a few young people, I could almost feel the apprehension of those men and women who were arriving. Upon noting that we were a "friendly mob," my heart was warmed by the exchange of greeting - not a handshake - but drawing each other into friendship by touching our own hearts.

As we continued to do this for several weeks, we invited the worshipers to share food and drink several times after their prayers. Several months now have passed and our friendship has waned somewhat because of summer schedules. How tragic, however, that the forces that divide us have continued unabated. Thus I thought I would not only greet the worshipers again, but also see if we could join in worship.

How I wish all Americans could've accompanied us! How very warmly we were welcomed.  Fellow human beings of all hues taking time from their noon lunch or work on Friday afternoon sharing a time of prayer. Young and old, men and a few women, well-dressed professionals, workers in overalls and cab drivers prostrated themselves towards the origin of their belief. My granddaughter with me in the rear of the room held the leash of the seeing-eye dog of the speaker, a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. In a message of love, forgiveness and reconciliation, as he made equal reference to God and Allah, his sermon equaled any I have heard in a lifetime of attending Christian services.

We could feel the dedication and commitment to love in the room through the silence of worshipers in their prone position, I felt a oneness with all humankind as I bowed my head in joint meditation with them.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Something to really rave about at ninety!

I truly never thought I would live to see it! How much America has changed since I first left the womb in 1925!  REGARDLESS of any political affiliation, it was truly a miracle for me to hear the eloquence of an African American who has been president of OUR country for eight years speak on behalf of a woman who has been nominated to be president of our country.

It has been my privilege to volunteer for the past 7 1/2 years at the White House Visitors Center welcoming people coming to the White House expressing pride and interest in our country. I HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMED by the number of African Americans - from individuals to proud large family reunions - eager to enter the WHITE House where someone of their race is head of the house and the country.  

How remarkable now that I might also live to see a woman become president!  IT WAS BUT FIVE YEARS BEFORE I WAS BORN that a woman could even vote in a presidential election.

Whatever happens in this election, I have to remain confident that my country is continuing on the path of truly becoming exceptional in ways never before seen in this world.   

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thoughts that come to me in the night!

Here's perhaps the best way to put the last year in perspective:
Thank you, Donald, you have made your point. Now go back to your sandbox. And let Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kaine continue their lifelong commitment of working to solve the problems of the world. for ALL of us,

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's too hot to rant and rave, but

I just HAD to do it!  I couldn't keep silent all summer.  While they aren't "earthshaking," a couple of items came to my attention this week that I just HAD to "have my say" on.  Any reaction?

About political correctness:

What a joy this morning in church to sing the stirring, patriotic hymn composed in 1882 by Samuel Augustus Ward, "Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies".

Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. 
for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee, 
and crown like good with *brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
*Or "servanthood."

I first want to admit that I am an agnostic, atheistic Christian! But a vital portion of my life at 90 continues to be attending my various churches. And the hymns for me are a lusty and beloved part of the weekly experience. But how can I be expected to praise the "servanthood" that is listed as an alternative singing?  Something that so beleaguered so many of my fellow Americans for so many years as a blot upon our nations conscience.  Think how the rhythm of the tune would be destroyed were we to put all the various sexual references into the rendition.  Can't we sometime just sit back and enjoy a tradition for what it is?

 About leaders::

How very fascinating to have The Washington Post this week on the front page of the Style Section include in a lengthy article on my boyhood hero, Charles A. Lindbergh! Of course many of the younger generation are not aware of the exploits of this national, worldwide hero who was the first to cross the Atlantic alone in his simple aircraft, "The Spirit of St. Louis". Honored by President Hoover at the White House, he was showered by events in our country and lionized throughout the world. And today I prize the two-sided ancient phonograph record that was the hit of the day and was a part of our family collection.   In order to get a feel for how great was the adulation, I'd like to recommend that you take a few minutes during this holiday week to listen to

But what a lesson on how gullible we can be in selecting our heroes.  History has not been kind to him as it has divulged the full life story of this man:
  • his blindness in eulogizing  Adolf Hitler before World War II
  • his Antisemitism, and
  • his betrayal of his wife, distinguished poet Annie Morrow Lindbergh, as a bigamist maintaining a family in both the United States and Germany.
I truly believe that the choice facing us in the presidential election this year is more critical than any I have participated in during my 90 years.  While my generation - and previous ones - made grievous mistakes and tolerated heinous atrocities through the years, I truly believe the "Arc of Justice" has maintained a positive direction.   I was thrilled to see the commitment of so many to a candidate "promising" to enlist more voters seeking to hasten change.  I trust they will not be led now by a candidate whose only plan is built around empty promises and whose entire life's work has shown a disdain for  values I hold dear.  And while the other candidate may have made errors of judgment, I perceive a lifelong commitment to all those values I find commendable.  Dropping out now in disappointment would negate years and years of arduous progress.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I couldn't help it - I just had to Rave!

And I did so on two new venues: Amazon Books evaluation and Reddit's religion page on the Internet. I felt so strongly about Corinna Nicolaou's book, "A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, & Islam" that I wanted to do everything I could to stir up interest, and, hopefully conversation. I'm only publicizing this through family and Facebook, so I am counting on you to spread the word. This is what I said:

As she approaches middle-age, Corinna Nicolaou, who has NEVER been exposed to ANY religious doctrine, wonders if she has missed anything in life by never being a part of a faith community . The reader accompanies her on her four-year odyssey from coast-to-coast exploring Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam both as an academic exercise and as a participant as a sincere neophyte. With humor and sympathy, she participates in the practices of a variety of sects of each religion not only at formal services but with nascent friends. As a nonagenarian who has also taken a rather unique course in assessing religion myself, I highly recommend it for any young person who seriously contemplates religion, spirituality and the questions of existentialism. The chapter on Islam alone – particularly as she practices that faith in an unusual setting – is particularly poignant. And her conclusion provides a thoughtful coda to her study.
I personally chanced upon her presentation at a local bookstore and HAD to buy the book! I found the book as compelling as her delightful presentation.  How remarkable that Columbia University Press saw fit to publish a "first book" by an unknown author.who gives such thoughtful consideration to one of the most important topics of the day.

But in addition to the review, I want to add for my personal viewers:

I do think her "assessment of religion" lacks one thing, what the WORLD misses by HER not being a part of a faith community.  I truly believe that this is one of the Hallmarks of our American democracy, the citizen groups, agencies, etc. that work voluntarily for progress in our society.  Alexis de Tocqueville cited this in the early days of our republic and it has been a strength throughout the years,  Yet most all such agencies are in serious decline today - and I think it is clear that faith groups have played a major role in bringing social progress.  Thus the two books of Robert Putnam, "Bowling Alone" and "Our Kids" would be companion reads for anyone seriously looking to help our country overcome the problems and division we face today.

And now it is off to NYC, Santa Fe and Michigan during the next four weeks.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Two interesting religious views - and plans for my summer sabbatical

It's been my great fortune to learn so much in the past twenty years or so that I have been retired in Washington, D. C,   Most of it has been a result of being able to afford the FREE cultural events in the city.  From the privilege of attending the birthday parties of notables like Stephen Sondheim at the Library of Congress to George McGovern's at the National Archives to a front row seat for Stevie Wonder's performance on the mall, I've been entertained and heard from outstanding speakers.

But I've also had the great opportunity to explore provocative and timely topics on Reddit and a variety of other internet sources.  For the rest of my two year celebration of my 90th birthday, I want to explore some topics in more depth.  Thus until the fall I'm ending my weekly blogs.  I hope you will tune in occasionally to see if I've Ranted or Raved (as the "spirit moves me") about topics I find interesting.

I've been challenged recently by two activities (that have been on my culture blog):  And not surprisingly they have related to a topic of great  interest to me - Religion.  In these perilous times (and I feel in many ways they equal that of WWII) I believe that while religion has caused hostility and war, I also believe that it MUST play a significant role in bringing harmony and peace.

First, my first attendance at a book review at Kramers and Afterwords Bookstore enabled me to hear Corinna Niolaou review her new book, A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity , Judaism, Buddhism & Islam.  As someone approaching middle age without any religious exposure, she devotes four years to both a study and first hand participatory experience to see if she has "been missing anything".  Her skillful, humorous writing approach (accentuated for me by her presentation) accompanies her scholastic portrayals (why else would Columbia University Press see fit to publish it).   I'll soon finish my review of it for Amazon and share information about it on some future blog.

And how fortunate I felt last week during DC's Embassy Open House to learn about several Asian and African and African nations I have never visited and have a "fellow traveler" hand me a booklet on Islam.  Certainly I've regretted and been embarrassed as devout folks of Islam have faced the scorn of some of our prospective leaders.  I've tried to show a personal friendship to Muslims who use my church for their prayers, but I feel I have so much to learn.  This brochure has presented me with material to study further.,

Indeed I was skeptical at first because I've seen too many handouts from religious extremists imploring me to "follow THEIR way as the only way .. And this one is entitled

"Join us in reviving True Islam

True Islam is a religion that….
holy rejects all form of terrorism
believes in nonviolent jihad of the self and of the pen
believes in the quality education and empowerment of women
advocates freedom of conscious, religion and speech
advocates for the separation of mosque and state
believes in loyalty to your country of residence
encompasses the universal declaration of human rights
believes in all verses of the Quran and forbids lying
recognizes no religion can monopolize salvation
believes in the need for unified Muslim leadership
holy rejects the concept of a bloodied Messiah."

 "If you agree with these eleven points, you can join us by endorsing them at

I'm looking forward to my "summer sabbatical" to study this topic further and another on a jazz project .  As usual I'll welcome comments and suggestions.   

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ron's plan for world peace and a poet looks at two of America's greatest concerns: racism and immigration

The plight of refugees in the Middle East has been an overriding concern my entire lifetime. I well recall that during our college years in the 40's (then fiancee) Regina saying, "This horror MUST be stopped!"  Yet it continues!  How ironic that such misery seems endemic in that part of the globe where three of the world's most popular religions were cradled: religions  concerned with the welfare of ALL humans. How many generations of Palestinians have wallowed in refugee camps with little or no hope for the future.  And their Jewish neighbors suffered untold horrors in recent times solely because of their religious views.  Christians too have seen the "Holy Land" as the sacred birthplace of their Prince of Peace.

Isn't it time for the true nature of religion to exert itself and renounce the divisions of the past?  Yes religious doctrine has been divisive.  Extremists in most all faiths have espoused selfish doctrine and and followed murderous practices with false claims.

What an opportunity for the world to unite through these religions in standing together to renounce selfish claims with a message of peace, love, justice and opportunity for  for all.   Religions in each sector of the world have developed different practices and customs in trying to explain the source and meaning of life.  Sensitive and enlightened people recognize, respect and appreciate the differences.

The creative intelligence of humans has made astonishing, bewildering progress in expanding the possibilities of enriching life on earth.  It is time for a world-wide meeting of religious leaders to use the same energy and skill in bringing peace in the most troubled part of the world as an example of what is possible.

Think of it!  A meeting of the religious leaders of the world initiates a process for having Palestinians and Israelis live together in peace !  All the world would be united in standing together against the forces of evil.  

I may be a naive idealist, but as the good books of one of those three religions states, ".....your old men shall dream dreams, and shall come to pass."


Slam poet Will Smith has a dramatic message about race and immigration that everyone should listen to. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Special edition: Especially for Oprah readers - and hopefully a million more

Thank you for taking a moment to look at my blog! In the spirit of my efforts to spread positive impact on the internet, I invite you to view a video that has significantly impacted me in recent days.

Slam poet Will Smith has a dramatic message about race and immigration that ever Oprah reader should listen to - and hopefully millions more. 

I guarantee you will find it a very moving experience - as I did some months ago live at The Aspen Institute. Nothing would delight this 90 year older more than to find a way for Oprah's 2+ million and many more see this on the internet. I hope you will help me get the word out!

This power of this message may even cause me to delay my thoughts on PEACE another week.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Some random, Idle thoughts - From Madeline Albright to a "modest" proposal for peace in our time

Sorry!  You'll have to wait until next week for my peace plan.  This old man has trouble keeping up with all the publicity from Reddit and now having my picture and story on page 150 of the May issue of Oprah's magazine.

I continue to marvel at the readiness of my mind about 4 AM virtually every morning to consider a broad array of fascinating topics. Recently it was to ponder what books would be written about the current election by future historians. Certainly within two years there will be a book to take advantage of a "hot market". But how different it will be 10, 20 or more important 50 years from now when others will have the opportunity to look back and objectively see what is gong on RIGHT NOW!  And that is called history - a topic most often judged by school students as to be booooooooring.  And what a shame, because if we don't learn from the mistakes of the past, adage too often forgotten.,

Perhaps a look at history is what impelled me to go to Georgetown University to hear Madeleine Albright discuss the topic, Religion, Peace and World Affairs: The Challenges Ahead.  Unfortunately too many young people only know of Secretary Albright's recent actions and the publicity that has focused on her exuberance in backing her preferred presidential candidate in a statement that she later apologized for and her fetish for jewelry. Too bad more publicity hasn't been given to her insightful, prescient book, The Mighty and the Almighty:  Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs,  published in 2006.

She stressed the importance of seeing religion as a unique and integral part of the culture of each society and that we in the United States have not paid enough attention to understanding its importance in dealing with other countries.  Rather than seeing suicide bombers as warriors or fighters, all should see them as murderers.

And so a host of questions came to mind:
  • In what way does religion impair peace?
  • How do we invite hostility by acquiescing to hearing jokes at the expense of other faith groups?
  • As a melting pot country, how can we be so audacious as to be defined by one religion?
  • What are the factors that distort the quest for a religious/spiritual life.
  • And a number of other related ones that came to me in attempting to answer the hundreds of questions I received from youth throughout the world on Reddit.
And so I return to a constant theme of mine - the universality of ALL true religions as a means of examining the meaning, purpose and source of life and seeking a loving relationship with all humans.

But this has gotten far too long for me to add my peace plan.  I'll have to put that off until next week. I know, all the world is eagerly awaiting all I have to say, but time and strength has caught up with me.  In the meantime I'll spend more time with the book I mentioned in my other blog, Corinna Nicolaou's A None's  Story:Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, & Islam.  At Kramer's Book Store she wove an interesting tale of how she as one totally ignorant of any religious tradition spent four years trying to learn what religion was all about and if there was anything she was missing in life.  While she told us how she was able to convince the "minds" at Columbia University Press to publish her book, she refused to tell us what she found out. I can't wait to see what she says.

How lucky I feel to have all these opportunities - I feel the need to share my good fortune with others,

Monday, April 11, 2016

Welcome all - especially Oprah readers

I truly appreciate Oprah Magazine's extending my "fifteen minutes of fame" to 16!  I hope any new friends (or old ones too) will continue the conversation with me started by Reddit two months ago. .  New to Social Media as I am, may I suggest you do so by giving feedback on the comments section on this blog.

And while this is published irregularly you can learn of new Rant's weekly on my other blog,
While the events calendar may not be something you can take advantage of, I'll always mention when a new "Rant" is issued.

The previous Rant referred to a topic I'd love to see all America exposed to:
The Slam Poetry of Clint Smith.  I hope you will check it out and refer it to your friends.  It is at

I'd enjoy conversing with as many of you as possible through Oprah as  I did on Reddit.


I'll have much more to say in a few days.

Friday, April 1, 2016

An urgent plea

Returning from a week long trip to my boyhood home in San Antonio late last night, I was able to produce only an abbreviated blog this week.   However it gives me an opportunity to underscore my theme for last week - Slam Poet Clint Smith.  I was gratified that a new friend in San Antonio confirmed for me the high regard I had for the power of poetry when Barbara said, "It gave me a totally new perspective on race and immigration."

In all candor I was disappointed in the number of people who took time out to hear Clint's recitation last week. I strongly urge more of you  to find 15 or so minutes to view it this week.  It can be found at

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

One of the ten best............. I have attended in DC in the past 20 years was a Conference convened by the Aspen Institute on Income Inequality.  I was blown away by the presentation of Slam Poet, Clint Smith.

I urge you, implore you, to hear it NOW at

I hope you will pass this on to others


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

One of the TOP TEN..................

.....................lectures and events I have attended in the past 20 years in Washington, D. C.

Religious leaders from the Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions were present for a Worship Service at the Washington National Cathedral in January just after President Obama was inaugurated for his second term.  The tradition has been followed since the inauguration of George Washington and has been held in the Washington National Cathedral since the inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  This years address was given by the Rev. Adam Hamilton from the Methodist Church in Leawood, Kansas, the largest church of that denomination.  While the entire service was awesome, I was particularly impressed by the "advise" Hamilton directed to the President.

In brief he made the following points:
  • There seem to be three reasons why people run public office;
    • desire for power and to feel important
    • they are a little off in the head
    • they really want to make a difference
  • The historic example of Moses discloses three aspects of leadership
    • A humble person with heart and character brings forth compassion for the marginalized and oppressed.
    • Vision is necessary to motivate and inspire people.
    • Despite opposition and discouragement a true leader never gives up.
Hamilton closes with a story from Robert Louis Stevenson.

What a privilege to be in attendance.  Rather than just reading my summary, I sincerely hope you will avail yourself of the entire printed sermon at:

Or even better see and hear it at:


I'm quite sure that you will find next weeks "one of the top ten" to be most interesting. I heard - and you can too - hear a fabulous SLAM POET!.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ron Rants and Raves about the four social/cultural institutions that have shaped his life

The nearly 2,000 questions that were asked of me on Reddit's "Ask Me Anything" initially focused on my longevity and amazement that an old man could have a blog, I soon came to realize that the underlying theme related to what I felt contributed to my having a relatively satisfactory and successful QUALITY of life.

It seemed the questions posed by (mostly) young people were a rather nostalgic look at the past wondering what made the "Greatest Generation" what it was. But at the same time it forced me to look at the FAILINGS of the past with the hope there might be clues for making America EVEN BETTER in the future.  While I was surprised at the number of questions, I was even more surprised by how insightfully probing they were and how they seemed to want advise from the "Voice of Experience" on some of  the basic issues of life!

Equally dramatic to me was how answering them effected me.  It was almost as though - at the age 90 - I was mysteriously forced to look critically at these 90 years and place my life and existence in perspective.  With questions as wide ranging and intrusive as "After 43 years of marriage how could you even consider marrying someone else" to "What do you think of revenge" to "What is the purpose of life" to "What did you think about the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima"?   I was amazed at how easily the answers flowed, but I hardly expected to have to be philosophical about that which is so important.  And even though I have never had a course in philosophy, I now begin a philosophical look at my life and offer some thoughts for the future!
  • The four social/cultural institutions that have shaped my life are:
    • The family
    • The church/Religion
    • Public Education
    • Government
  •  Each of these are in the midst of dramatic change.
I'll have a week now to prepare my thoughts on the topic that was so profoundly effected by Traister's book, "All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent nation". I'll look forward to any thoughts you might like to share with me.