Time For Pres. Biden to Resign? Yes!

Let me be clear, I voted for Biden in the general election, although in the primaries he was not my choice,

I have been underwhelmed by his performance as president and have been hoping he would not run for a 2nd term.

But now, with the revelation of his improper handling of classified documents, I think it is in the best interest of our government, if not the Democrat Party, for him to resign. Most recently, he cavalier attitude about the documents found next to his Corvette, saying afterall, they were in a locked location, leaves me wondering if anyone in Washington has the slightest knowledge of the proper care and storage of classified documents. As someone who has had very high security clearances, the seriousness of the proper handling of such documents was drilled into us and upon leaving the area security clearances, we were debriefed.

Left-wingers have been quick to point out that there are differences between this and Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. While that is true, the bottom line is that each mishandled these documents. Title 18 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines the proper care and handling of classified documents. It states that such documents can only be stored in government approved facilities and containers. President Biden’s garage in Wilmington DE as well as Trumps Mar a Lago home does not meet that requirement.

Furthermore, all security clearances hare granted on a need-to-know basis which calls into question either Biden or Trump’s continued need to know. It is extremely doubtful that either had a continuing need to know upon leaving office. I am not a lawyer, but I believe that in both cases laws have been broken and actions must be taken. From confidential to compartmentalized top secret, the amount of damage to the United States is spelled out with each higher level of greater damage to the United States were they to fall into the wrong hands.

In the case of Pres. Biden, I think it is clear that he must resign from office rather than bring more discredit to the office of the President and to the United States.

What to do With the Thousands of Potential Immigrants at Our Southern Borders

President Biden has failed, at least in part, in dealing with the influx of immigrants at our boders, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida. His first action should have been activating FEMA, declaring a national emergency regarding these immigrants. Notwithstanding Title 42, President Biden can issue orders that might actually assuage Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas. The answer lies in multiple parts.

First, FEMA must be inserted into this dilemma to set up temporary housing and sanitation facilities at the affected areas. Next, he needs to create a robust plan for vetting those desiring asylum. To be certain, there are a lot of undesirables among the refugees. Once vetted the refugees would occupy the facilities of FEMA; a sort Ellis Island of today. For those who can provide an address of a relative living legally in the U.S., a green card would be issued and the refugees allowed to legally enter the U.S. and move to their relative’s address, this would have to be verified of course.

The next part, probably the most difficult of any, would be to confer with the governors of all states. Each governor would be asked to take in a number of refugees in that coincides with their population. The top ten states in population, Texas, New York, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and Michigan would take to most while the bottom 10, Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Delaware, Alaska, Montana, Maine, and Hawaii would take the fewest.

Such a move is not without precedent. Until 1923, almost anyone who showed up at our doors were admitted. The only ones turned away were the sickly and those with known criminal records. But one thing that is seldom mentioned about those immigrants is that about 1/3 of them returned to their country of origin.

The countries of origin for the current refugees is mostly from countries in Central America plus Venezuela. What is happening to the people in those nations in unconscionable. Death squads, constant hunger, political repression, among other things make these people flee the country they love. In the late 19th and early 20th century such immigrants came from Poland (occupied by Russia and Germany/Austria), Syria, Persia, Armenia, Croatia, Serbia and others from that region, all fleeing the Ottoman Empire. The parallels are extremely closely related.

My plan, while flawed, is at least a starting point for dealing with this human crisis.

Why Is Government So Expensive

For decades Republicans ran for office on the idea that they could bring about smaller, less expensive government. This, of course, was largely unachievable goal. Why? From the earliest days of our country, the necessity of a strong central government was tantamount to holding together 13 diverse states. When Washington took the reins of our new country, he was what was then called a “Federalist.” It was largely the only political party in the early days of the United States. Those who opposed it were call the “anti-Federalists.” In the federal elections of 1800, Thomas Jefferson ran for the presidency against John Adams calling himself a “Democratic Republican.” Upon winning, he kept his promise by first reducing the size of our Navy to an unsustainable small size.

My expertise on this topic comes from having spent 30+ years employed by the Federal Government, 11 years of which was on active duty in the Army. Additionally, I hold a master’s degree in U.S. History. The Federal Government is responsible for working for the good of the entire nation in which the 50 states are seen as one. All government, from local to federal, exists in part to spend monies gain via taxes of all color.

How does government spend money. Let’s take the U.S. Military’s spending. For fiscal year 2023, the Federal Government has allocated $773 billion. The Defense Department must spend that entire amount by September 30, 2023 or lose it. The Defense Department has certain expenses where it can “spend” its money immediately. That is, paying for all employees to include soldiers for that year. The way all parts of the government spends money is that, in the simplest terms, it says it has given those monies to the soldiers and all DoD personnel. After that, it is sort of difficult process of contracts. In 2022, that amount was $338 billion. (www.usaspending.gov)

Throughout its history the Federal Government has relied heavily on the private sector to meet its needs. For example, from its earliest days, the military has relied upon companies like Smith & Wesson, Springfield Amory, Colt, and others for the latest advancement in guns. The DoD decided it needed a gun to replace the M-16 which the Colt company had been manufacturing since the mid-1960s. It told Colt what it wanted in the new gun, the M-4. The DoD awarded Colt a contract to do the research and development for the new rifle. In my non-accurate, for argument’s sake only, the government award Colt a contract right at the beginning of that year $10 million based on Colt’s proposal for how much that year’s R&D budget. There existed a back-and-forth conversation between Colt and the Federal Government. In June the DoD tells Colt it needs to make a major modification in$1 the specification for that new gun. Colt takes that and by year’s end the government has awarded, and Colt has spent $9 million. That $1 million dollars is required to be sent back to the U.S. Treasury. Now in the new fiscal year Colt tells the DoD that it still needs that $1 million dollars from the previous year plus another $15 million. The Federal Government later that year makes another major change and Colt says it is going to need an additional $4 million. That becomes $4 million of unbudgeted spending. Take that example and spread it among its 3.5 million budgets it spends each year and you can start to see where the excesses come in. Politicians and the public alike see this as government waste. The Federal Government has 226 separate agencies that need funding.

At its lowest level, a government contract can take 100s man-hours of work. Next, that agency puts the contract out for bid. The idea that the government must take the lowest bid is erroneous. There are hundreds of companies that via experience, the government has declared habitually underperforming. These companies are not banned from bidding on the contract, but the awarding agency can use the information to take a bid which is higher than that of the underperforming company. But there is a process by which the government is not hamstrung with annual budgeting which would allow for lower long-term costs. That is, by awarding monies to a different Federal Department the money needed to fund a project. This is called “industrial spending” but is a little used tool.

I worked at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center in Cambridge Massachusetts. For 2/3 of my career there I worked exclusively on DoD funded projects, the last 1/3 on FAA projects. The Volpe Center does not appear on the Federal Budget for what is called “line item” spending. That is, when the DOT puts in its annual budget, the Volpe Center is not listed. That is because the entirety of the Center’s budget comes from contracts awarded to it from other agencies. When those agencies give the Volpe Center its money, the U.S. Treasury sees that as money spent and therefore not bounded by a fiscal year. That is, let’s say the DoD gives Volpe a $50 award. During the fiscal year Volpe only spends $20 of the awarded money. Because the Treasury sees this as spent money, the Volpe Center is not required to return the money to the Treasury. I am suggesting that the entire Federal Government if it found ways to “spend” its money in a matter where it does not have to budget each year for certain programs.

Another way to reduce “waste” is via a process called IV&V, independent validation and verification. This is simply an oversight by another agency to ensure that its awarded monies are being spent in the most cost-effective ways. IV&V is a method where a single person can oversee a large contract at a very low cost. That is, the cost of using IV&V far outweighs the cost were it not used.

The most visible effect of using the above processes is that waste, fraud and abuse can be easily managed if not entirely eliminated in any single contract. It would be a wise move for all portions of the Federal Government to understand exactly how the Volpe Center works and apply it to its own agencies.

Revitalizing AMTRAK

There was a time, prior to the Interstate Highway System, that rail travel reigned supreme. Post-World War 2 saw an end to that when the Eisenhower administration took the German idea of the Autobahn and applied it to America. To be clear, this was vital to America’s growth and has proven itself over the decades. But now with oil prices constantly increasing, and the Interstate system in desperate need of a huge influx of cash for repairs alone, we must consider alternative transportation.

In 1971 at AMTRAK’s inception, the idea was to keep intercity passenger rail service alive as private railroads were abandoning service. But AMTRAK made itself unattractive from its inception as it pared the existing intercity service to about 1/4 of what it had been immediately prior. AMTRAK’s service map of 2022 shows only a small expansion since its inception.

Service is lacking to many cities which defies logic. For example, there are no trains traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, an extremely popular road and air route. Why is this? There is no service from Atlanta to Florida, also a very popular road and air route. Why? And to further that point, there is no Chicago to Florida route, one which actually existed at AMTRAK’s inception. Again, why? And there are many other examples, Dallas to Los Angeles, Atlanta to Savannah and Charleston, Detroit to Cleveland, Cleveland to St. Louis via Columbus, Dayton and Indianapolis, Memphis to Atlanta via Nashville, and there are a host of other potential routes, particularly in the densely populated Northeast. For reasons not given the public, California’s inland route extending from the San Francisco area through central California stop well shy of Los Angeles at Bakersfield. Why? Worst of all, I saved the best for last, there is no service from Dallas to Houston! The state of Texas, however, is endeavoring to remedy that situation.

Some of those problems extend from non-receptive Republican controlled states who view AMTRAK as an unnecessary luxury!

Another issue with AMTRAK is its scheduling on existing routes. If, for example, you go to the AMTRAK site and query a trip from New York to Chicago you will find a single train that does not require changing trains, the Lake Shore Limited. The Sunset Limited runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles only 3 days a week. On that route sits Houston Texas and Phoenix Arizona which are the nation’s 4th and 5th largest cities respectively. To be clear, Phoenix actually has no direct connection and residents of that city must travel south to Maricopa to catch a train between the 5th largest and 2nd largest cities.

There are only four areas of the country which receive good, not excellent AMTRAK service: The Northeast Corridor, Boston to Washington DC, California, San Francisco to San Diego. and Florida, Washington DC to several Florida destinations, most notable, Miami. Finally, Chicago with destinations of Milwaukee, Detroit, and St. Louis. I left out Indianapolis, with a metro population of over 2 million people out because AMTRAK allows it a single train that runs only three days a week!

AMTRAK does virtually no advertising. When was the last time you saw a commercial extolling to benefits of rail travel over airplanes. No lines to board, no security checkpoints, and when heavy weather closes airports the trains will still complete their trips excepting the most serious of conditions, hurricanes and blizzards. And even in blizzard conditions, trains may still be able to complete their trips.

Let’s look at a trip from Atlanta to New Orleans. Right now, airlines are publishing 1 hour 45-minute flight times point to point. Add in the 2-hour preflight arrival and the 1-hour post flight from New Orleans airport to downtown, this includes exiting the aircraft, finding ground transportation and dealing with traffic. Now your 1:45 minute flight has turned into a total of nearly 6 hours! The AMTRAK schedule shows a 12-hour trip between those points. Seems to be a negative but is it. Let’s go back to the flight. If you leave Atlanta on your flight at 9AM, considering the 7AM arrival time necessary, you will arrive in New Orleans about noontime, or time for lunch. Now we are at 1PM and only the afternoon ahead. The train leaves 9AM from Atlanta, arrives 9PM in New Orleans and the cost is $39 coach compared to the over $300 coach seat on the airline! In terms of pure economics and also stress, the train suddenly looks like the far superior choice. This is not even considering the people who must go between these two cities, cannot afford the air fare and do not want to sit on a bus. And in most of America, the people who are most drawn to rail travel are those of lesser means. This excludes the Northeast Corridor where businesspeople of all sorts regularly take the train.

The main hinderance to more people taking the train is the lack of choice in trains available and a lack of trains which make truly limited stops thereby decreasing the amount of time between any two points. Right now, AMTRAK simply does not have enough trains equipment to cover the suggestions I have made. Even more, the fleet it does have is aging and in need of replacement.

If we are ever to look like the passenger rail systems Europe enjoys, we are going to have to commit to a very large outlay of money to accomplish this. I can only guess that a 10-year $100 billion commitment might fall short. But in 10 years what are gas prices going to be, and what are air fares going to be. I am also guessing that the American public will be clamoring for exactly the extent and levels of service to which I have alluded. And finally, we can no longer afford the upkeep of America’s sprawling Interstate system which much of it needs extensive repair and replacement.

Study: World has 9 years to avert [climate] calamity

First, I must give credit to the Boston Globe, November 12, 2022, p. A4, for that heading, it being, excepting the setoff word, climate, a direct copy of its subtitle to “War may have put climate goals out of reach.”

I found this article absolutely stunning until I read its contents and then did a bit of research. It amazes me the amount climate change deniers still in the world today. Even more, those in political power who take no, or little action towards changing their nation’s responsibility towards reducing our greenhouse gas epidemic. It must be noted that most scientists, probably an overwhelming number, are agreement over our impended doom from these emissions.

The chart below lists the greenhouses emission by each country’s total in descending order. Notice the United States, which claims to be doing so much, is in the number 2 position! This is entirely unacceptable. Number 3 India is an interesting case that along with its status on this chart, it also has the ignominious reputation of have amount the 10 most polluted cities in the world, mixed in are Pakistan and other 3rd world countries.

Conservative Americans are amount the first to deny global warning and liberals are shouting about it. But in truth, it is the liberals who are failing the most simply because most compromise on issues where holding your ground is called for.

For the United States, there needs to be a much more concerted effort to reduce CO2 emissions by about 80% and well before 2031, the deadline. The United States cannot be a world leader in this fight when it comes in 2nd in total emissions worldwide. But the above chart is only referencing CO2 pollution. The chart below is referencing Methane pollution for the purpose of this discussion. I have not been able, thus far, to find a country-by-country accounting for this sort of pollution. In the United States, however, two of the most prolific forms of this comes for natural gas leakage at drilling sites and their pipelines, and also from fracking where the search for oil always finds a collection of natural gas which is supposed to be burned off but that only adds to the CO2 pollution.

For at least 30 years now, Europeans have been taking the problem with pollution seriously. Many cities, excepting England, have taken the tack of making their inner cities less friendly to automobiles, and in some cases, banning them altogether. In place of automobiles, they have doubled down of rail transportation and well set out bicycle ways.

Such tactics in the United States would be met with heavy opposition and politicians bent on saving their political butts would bend to that opposition rather than doing the right thing.

Consider, there is no city in the United States that can properly handle 4 lanes of traffic entering its limits with any ease at all, leading to a 40-mile commute taking as much as 1.5 hours or more. All cities on the East Coast plus Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and a host of other cities cannot continue to maintain these roads and the problems that go with them for much longer.

Consider that the average length of a railroad coach is 67′ and that of an automobile almost 15′. Simple math tells us that even the 4 automobiles, were each carrying 3 individuals totaling 12 total is a far cry for the 60 to 100 passengers a single railroad car can carry. A rapid transit car can carry at least 50 people, light rail cars and buses the same. Highway maintenance on average, costs $14,500 per year. By shutting down one lane of a 4-lane highway in both directions for 25 miles saves $750k per year. Now, take the New Jersey turnpike which extends 41 miles from the Garden State parkway to Exit 7, Bordentown and is 8 lanes wide. Remove the 4 inner lanes in each direction, a total of 328 miles, and you have a total savings of $4.7 million a year. New Jersey has an exemplary commuter rail system as well-as an extensive bus system.

In probably every city their existing commuter rail, rapid transit, light rail and buses systems would have to be both modernized and expanded first. But this would give the public several years to plan on the eventual shut down of highway traffic lanes.

Such a bold step forward would cost in the 10s of trillions of dollars to properly implement. Couple that with all cities denying entry to their city center by private automobiles, another public screaming point, and inner-city pollution declines dramatically.

Right now, when it comes to public transportation, the United States is little more than a third-world country. Countries like Italy, Germany, Holland, France and a host of others, put the U.S. to shame in their approach to public transportation. Even China, the world’s greatest polluter, has a rail transportation superior to ours.

Why is this true. First, it America’s continuing love affair with the automobile, next, politicians of all stripes failing to inform the public of what should, by now, be painfully obvious, global warming is happening, and at an ever-increasing rate, just ask Floridians.

There is, however, one form of public transportation, which is one of the largest polluters in the U.S., the nation’s airlines! How do we reduce that? Simple, convince Americans to take AMTRAK on medium length journeys over air travel. This, of course, will require a heavy investment in AMTRAK but the rewards far outweigh the costs. Already, the Northeast Corridor of AMTRAK, from Boston to Washington DC, is heavily traveled by businessmen as well as private travelers. But routes such as Cleveland to Chicago, Atlanta to Miami, Dallas to Houston, Chicago to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Detroit.

Americans, living near to large cities, must learn a new way of getting around or be culpable for getting the globe to “point of no return,” that point where warming accelerates at a rate no one can stop. Is that nine years hence? I do not know but it seems many scientists are thinking that way. Who are you going to believe, your next-door neighbor, you politicians, or the scientists?

I am only showing the pollution type below, that of “particulate matter” and in this case, that of plastics.

On final note on this. When I was taking a course in Astrophysics at Harvard University, my professor made a point of saying that anything which produces heat adds to global warming. That polluter is nuclear power and everything else which has the side effect of producing heat.

Why Democrats Will Lose the House and Senate

Ever since 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt took on Herbert Hoover for the Presidency, first in the mind of voters has been economics, with the exception of 1944, a war year. Roosevelt’s campaign built on the failures of the Hoover administrations failures in the banking community, something Hoover, trained as an engineer, had little clue on a cure to the nation’s ills. In most elections the cry of “it’s the economy stupid!” has taken center stage. This election cycle is no different!

For about two months following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Democrats made hay. But since then, starting in early August, inflation and supply chain shortages have been front and center in the national consciousness. Democrats have stubbornly stuck to their abortion issue.

The year between presidential elections, the party not in power has historically made gains and frequently taken control of the house and senate. That, all by itself, should have put the Democrat Party on alert. But add to it, inflation and the declining purchasing power of the dollar, Americans, as history shows, will vote with their pocketbooks!

Nancy Pelosi has a compelling long-term outlook for our nation’s future. But that, unfortunately, is not how the American public at large votes. Democrats needed to keep such issues among elected officials and then educate the American public in non-national voting years, the importance of such issues. But even more, and along those lines, Democrats have shown little action in showing America why Republicans have no better chance of changing the economic climate than do they. They have not shown that what is being experienced in the US is in fact a global issue in economics. By simply making Americans look beyond America’s borders would at least give Americans pause to reconsider political campaign claims.

The Democrat’s war cry should have been “What is the Republican plan to change our economic ills?” Republicans do not have a plan, just a war cry. Leading Democrats needed to admit that they, any more than Republicans, can do precious little to cure what is actually a global issue. About 23.5% of Americans have a college degree, however, most of them have no education in economics. In a country where education should be of primary concern, few politicians, from any party, take the time to actually educate their electorate. I suspect that is because to do so would cause that electorate to actually question their political claims.

Democrats resistance towards addressing the top 5 issues on Americans’ mind, none being abortion, will not only lead to their losing both the house and senate, but in my estimation, the Senate will break 53 – 47 in the Senate and about 235 – 200 in the house, both in favor of Republicans.

North Carolina’s Vile Political Ads

I am a new resident of North Carolina having moved here just a year and a half ago. We moved here from Massachusetts in no small part to escape New England’s harsh winters. Over the last several months, we have been bombarded with political ads from both Democrats and Republican. By and large, I have found all these ads to be very disingenuous. Democrats have run ads against a woman called Sandy Smith claiming court filings show her to be a dangerous person. They showed documents that were requests for restraining orders against her. I think if the restraining orders had been put in place, they would have shown such documents. This leads me to believe that no such order was ever given.

The Republicans have been particularly egregious in their ads with claims that are on their face false. A woman named Cheri Beasly, a judge on North Carolina’s Supreme Court, is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated. Her opponent is a Trump acolyte named Ted Budd. One of their ads claims that Beasly in her present office has allowed sex offenders to go free without any tracking. Behind this is a North Carolina law for lifetime ankle GPS monitoring of these offenders. What they fail to mention is why she refused such restrains and what she her decision actually was. I suspect that Beasly found the NC law to be in violation of the 6th which bars “cruel and unusual punishment.” I think it likely that she did order tracking on these offenders. They ads claim that Beasly is putting children in danger because of her decisions. Such fear mongering tactics rely upon the electorate to take them at face value and not question what is being said.

I have long said to people that they should not let other people do their thinking for them. The only outlet I know of which challenges political claims is the site factcheck.org. As an organization that is not aligned with any political party, the site takes on various claims made by politicians and their campaigns.

I am registered as an independent. There are things about each political party which causes me pain. But I cannot help but wonder how much of what is happening in North Carolina is happening in other states, particularly those states that are turning “purple” as the old solidly conservative North Carolina is. Someone, somewhere needs to come forward and speak the plain truth about the various lies and half-truths being foisted upon the American public and it needs to happen now.

Reflections On the Presidents I Remember

I have been alive now to have lived under four different Presidents of the United States. The first I must be excused from any remembrance of Harry Truman as when he left office, January 1953, I was only 3. Pres. Eisenhower is the first president of whom I have any memory. It was probably around 1958. The media seemed to be mocking him for having back problems and his regular appearance on the golf course. I do remember when he was running for re-election in 1956, in the town of Andover MA where my father had his business, everyone seemed to be wearing “I LIKE IKE” buttons. Of course, I was still not of an age during his administration to have any political feelings about him. My father, who had served in World War 2, voted for him twice for obvious reasons. On reflection, great credit must be given to Pres. Eisenhower as he had the idea to take the German Autobahn and replicate in the United States as our Interstate Highway system.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy was running against Richard Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice-President, for the Presidency. I remember a family a short distance from my house having “vote for Nixon” signs all over a pine tree in their yard. Even to my young 11-year-old brain, this seemed to be a bit overboard. And so, I took the opposing side and rooted for Kennedy, even though I was for too young to vote. After all, Kennedy was a Massachusetts man and a Catholic, both which I was, and am. Also, something that bothered me immensely, the Republican Party launched a campaign against Kennedy saying, to effect, that his election to the Presidency would mean the Pope would be meddling in our country’s affairs. Something inside me told me that was not true.

After Kennedy had won, by an extremely narrow margin, I stopped thinking about politics. It was not until 1963, when I was 13 years old, and a freshman in high school, that one sad day, November 23rd, someone came to the music room, where I was part of the band, and told us that Kennedy had been assassinated. Time seemed to stop. It was a little after 2 in the afternoon, and everyone started wandering in the corridors, no one saying much of anything besides “can you believe it?” There was no need to announce the end of the school day as students were already leaving the school and heading home. I think most of us watched in stunned silence, before our televisions, the next six days. In between his assassination and funeral, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on live television. I did see that as it happened and once again was stunned by what was going on in our country at that time. Our first youthful President, in either our recollection or that of our parents, had been taken from us and was replaced by a much older man. In Kennedy so many of us had such high expectations which started with his promising to put a man on the moon and then his handling of the Cuban missile crisis.

I think a lot of people tuned out as Johnson was sworn into the Presidency aboard Air Force 1. He did keep the space race going which gave us all something to cheer about. But he also increased our presence in Vietnam which had started during the Kennedy Administration. Personally, I tuned that out as graduating from high school was my priority. On reflection, a little reflection back then on what was going on in Vietnam would have done me good. Still, it would not have changed my mind away from joining the military. I think Johnson was an average president. He had no crowning achievements.

An aside. Pres. Johnson had kept many of Kennedy’s cabinet members. One of them was Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General. Eventually he was replaced but in 1968 he was running for President and once again our hopes arouse only to be dashed when he was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. I was in the U.S. Army’s flight school at the time. I called my mother and in tears asked her what was going on. I felt our country was in trouble.

In 1969, Richard Nixon took office as President. At the time, the U.S. Army had given me all all expenses paid for vacation in the far east, Asia. For some reason, still unknown to me, our former vice-president, Hubert Humphy (it could have been Nixon’s VP) showed up in-country and set up the protect him at all costs scenario. I though it to be foolishness on his part and it gave me a poor opinion of Richard Nixon, poorer, that is, than I already had. Nixon simply continued the mess which was going on before realizing its futility. I was a career soldier and I do remember something he did for which I am grateful. He gave the entire military a big pay raise. We really deserved and even though we were still grossly underpaid, we were thankful. Nixon’s presidency was first blackened by the Spiro Agnew debacle, when it was found out he was doing illegal business activities and was forced to resign. He was replaced by Gerald Ford, a soft spoken, well-respected senator from Michigan. When Nixon resigned, Ford filled the void.

President Ford was made fun of from his stumbling a couple of times. But in true, he was a breath of fresh air after the Nixon Presidency. Pres. Ford was a highly qualified, honest to a fault President. It is a bit difficult to explain Ford’s failure to win the Presidency in 1976 but he at least had restored honor to the position.

President Jimmy Carter was probably one of the least ready for the job Presidents we have ever had. People were quick to point out that he had a degree in nuclear engineering, his service in the US Navy in such a position. His folksy way made him a most likeable person and that may have been the single reason he prevailed. By anyone’s measure of his time in office, he was a failure. To his credit, Carter tried to free the hostages in Iran only to have the mission fail from an unforeseen sandstorm. In the election of 1980, Republicans used that failure to describe his entire Presidency, along with very high interest rates, something no President has much control over. He was also submarined by the Republican “October surprise” where Ronald Reagan had promised to free the hostages.

President Reagan took office on January 20, 1981, and the hostages in Iran were immediately released. That some sort of an illegal backroom deal was made was obvious. But what was it? Reagan was a good talker and could convince people of many things. Reagan, like Carter, had a folksy way about him and with economics as they were going into the election, it was easy for the American public embrace him in hopes of a change for the better. Interest rates did go down. Our economy also seemed to settle down and an era of “good feeling” set in. But behind the scenes, the Reagan administration arranged for the sale of arms to Iran, something that had been made illegal by Congress. The funds gained from the sales were used to arm the Nicaraguan rebels. At the forefront was Lt. Col. Oliver North. And although North was the most visible part of those illegal doings and who took the fall. In truth, nothing happens of that nature that the President is not aware. Then in 1987 the stock market took a fall so great that all trading had to be suspended. Until that time, there was nothing to stop the freefall. Not long afterward, Congress passed a law directing the stock markets to put in stop gap measures should the market be headed for a similar fall. It has been used in the years since. And finally, we know for fact that President Reagan suffered for Alzheimer’s Disease. It is well-established that this disease takes its time settling in and that it is likely he was suffering from it while still President. Although some Democrats have suggested that Nancy Reagan was calling the shots, I think it was most likely VP Bush. Reagan’s successes can be measured in just 2 places. First, he put in place a minimum tax rate for all corporations and person’s making over a million dollars a year. Republicans since have seen fit to remove those things. More importantly, he united what had been a divided Republican Party.

I am not going to say much of President George H. W. Bush. Mr. Bush was an extremely honest president and one who did not shy from difficult situations. His downfall, of course, was when he found it necessary to raise taxes after having run on a no new tax platform. I was in Gunter AFB in Mississippi in 1991 with a high ranking official from the U.S. Air Force’s air staff from the Pentagon. I was working for the U.S. Department of Transportation but worked entirely on military projects related to transportation and logistics. The man I was with, who I will call George, sat with me as we watched the beginning of our war against Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bush did not feign enjoining the fight but instead put exactly the right troops at exactly the right time in Saudi Arabia to take on the Iraqi Republican Guard, purportedly their finest troops. I think the Bush Presidency was an overwhelming success at all levels.

Then in 1993 the reins of power were turned over to Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton may well have been the most intelligent President we have ever had, to include going forward to the present day. Republicans hated Clinton in some part because he stole some of their agenda, eliminating the national debt, and also by repeated, and mostly without merit, the claims of sexual misconduct by the President, the one which was both true and caused his impeachment, was his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. But he was far from the first, or even the second, to have had such dalliances. Presidents Kennedy, Eisenhower, Roosevelt and Harding all have well-documented such affairs. Why was Clinton different? Republican truly hated him and had been spurned on by New Gingrich, a Republican representative from Georgia. How would I characterize the Clinton Presidency? A little above average, in light of his financial successes, but nothing to cheer about.

The last presidency I will comment on is that of George W. Bush. Mr. Bush probably made the Presidency via US Supreme Court meddling. It overturned a Florida Supreme Court decision, something the USSJC is wont to do at all times. In office on 8 months, Mr. Bush was put into an impossible situation. On 9/11 he was blindsided by a terrorist attack on our country. Many people, particularly Democrats, were quick to point to his inaction immediately following the attack. That was simple political fodder, expediancy, when in fact, there was nothing to do in the moment except to support those at the twin towers in their efforts. That he did do with immediacy. From there, a planned attack on Iraq was formed. The reasoning used, extremely faulty, was that Iraq held weapons of mass destruction and hid terrorists. There were no weapons of mass destruction but there certainly were terrorists. And when it was discovered that Osama Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks and that he was hiding in Afghanistan, the war was expanded to there. I think those were the right moves at the time. Saddam Hussein was still in power in Iraq and had no problem not only terrorizing his own people but harbored those who terrorized other countries. By-and-large, the Bush Presidency was above average. His one big failure was his inability to reign in financial markets, and in particular, the sub-prime mortgage thieves. Even though I did not vote for Mr. Bush either time, I found myself defending him when Democrats were calling him a draft dodger, someone who used his father’s office to gain a position in the Texas Air National Guard. The very fact that he served was enough. As anyone who ever served in Vietnam knows, members of the National Guard of the various states were not immune from serving there, and many did. He was, and is, an honorable man who served his country to the best of his ability.

A Problem With Public Education Today

I am part of the largest group of people in the U.S. population today, Baby Boomers. We are fast retiring from the workforce. But are we done with working? To that question, many of us would say “no.” Many of us have advanced degrees which are comparable to subjects taught in high schools today. So what is the problem particularly with a national shortage of teachers today? The idea of teacher testing.

I have a master’s degree in U.S. history, a departure from my degree in engineering, a field in which I worked 40 years. In today’s job market, which until this fall, I worked as a substitute teacher. In most districts, substitute teachers are paid the same rate whether you have a high school diploma or a master’s degree. It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind that. Some districts do make a financial difference, but it is minor. Personally, I feel very underpaid and for that reason I have decided to not participate in substitute teaching this year.

Around the year 2010, after I had retired from the Federal Government and over 30 years of service, I took the Massachusetts tests for a teaching certificate. I passed 4 of the required tests, failing only one that was full of “teacher speak.” Those are terms that are peculiar to teaching and not found elsewhere. I did not retake that test as there is no handbook on such jargon. Such tests, and how courses are taught in teachers’ schools, need to be changed to align with common English phraseology.

All states have a requirement that a regular classroom teacher have taken a teaching course of study in college and have passed a certain set of exams to qualify. In the case of primary school teachers, that they have taken college courses in their desired field of instruction is entirely reasonable. But after that, such a requirement becomes less necessary upon succeeding grades, 4 through 8. In particular, where middle school education is concerned, most school districts have taken an approach to education that is similar to that of secondary education. That is, students see two or more different teachers during the day. Additionally, to their curriculum, the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has been added as a single course. This is a response to today’s world.

Now, back to the “Baby Boomers” and their possibilities. Between STEM, mathematics, social studies, physics, chemistry, and other fields, there are many retirees who are either as knowledgeable or more than present classroom teachers. Now, especially considering the teacher shortage, states would do well to drop the impediments facing such people to joining the ranks of teachers. They instead should only be required to participate in and successfully pass an online course that teaches teaching techniques, classroom behavior, and student expectations.

I fear, however, that teachers’ unions would opposite such a move, much to their detriment. But to ignore this, as yet, untapped source of knowledgeable persons, is to shoot yourself in your own foot. Many such retirees could easily serve as much as 20 years in a school system, and, as they already have a pension, would have no need of a state supported retirement making them much more cost effective than life-long teachers.

The solution to your national teacher shortage is obvious. What is not obvious is why states refuse to consider these people and make changes to accommodate them. Personally, I feel fully qualified to step in as a teacher of U.S. History were that offered, particularly with my 15 years of experience in substitute teaching.

Political Tomfoolery

In this election year, the Republican Party has taken our economic condition as its cudgel. Similarly, the Democratic Party has taken abortion as its cudgel. Neither position helps the American public to any great degree.

The Republicans a very disingenuous in using the economy. In my undergraduate studies, oh so many moons ago, I minored in business administration. But even in those days, it was made very clear to us that we live in a world of a global economy. Simply put, every nation in the world is affected by the actions of either a handful of large economies of any single nation or that of a handful of small nations tied together.

Over the last 10 years, one of the world’s largest economies, China, has affected the rest of the world. China supplied, and still supplies, the world with electronic components and toys among to many other items. In return, China imported many food stuffs, particularly from the United States. When the corona virus hit the world, supply lines everywhere were negatively affected. Christmastime last year those supply line issues were shown to us via the major news outlets. Everything seemed to be in short supply, which was true. And who was to blame? Absolutely no one! The simple fact that many workers were too ill to work caused shortages which were entirely because of the pandemic. Recently, China has taken the stance of cancelling many of its food imports.

During those two years, many of those workers dropped out of the work force entirely, some never returned. Additionally, sectors such as transportation laid off huge numbers of their employees entirely because of the lack of demand. But in all cases, many of those workers who were of an age to retire, did so. Others got themselves trained for jobs which were still available and did not return to their previous job. Were there no pandemic, it is not unreasonable to assume they would have stayed on well beyond today. This was not because of the action or inaction of either political party. It was a simple and predictable part of economics. One such example is the oil industry. When demand goes down so do prices, a simple principle of economics. But the response of oil producing countries was to lower supply, an entirely reasonable response. This has the effect of raising prices even in a down economy. But this particular industry is somewhat unique. As the demand for oil started to rise, there is no reason for oil producing countries to increase production even though the United States was able to get OPEC to briefly raise production. Recently, OPEC decided to reduce production again.

Americans, thinking locally have taken this personally, and have disregarded this as a global issue, which, of course, it is. Right now, it is President Biden who is taking the heat for something over which he has no control, a global issue. The entire world is suffering the effects of higher oil prices with no country immune.

Our economy, like every economy in the world, is affected by the whims of stock markets, and in particular, that of the “futures” guessing game within stock markets. Easily spooked and too often wrong, these markets affect the prices we pay in the supermarket. Does the President of the United States or the entire 535 members of Congress has any sway over these things? It is foolish to think they do.

Politically speaking, neither party has the power to change our present economic situation. The best tact for each party is to explain to the public the truth, as I have just laid out, how our challengers with China, the war in Ukraine, the problems with the European Union economies, political unrest in Africa, food shortages world-wide, and so many other ills, all play into the economy in which we now find ourselves. One of the best moves, which Pres. Trump started, and which Pres. Biden has continued in earnest, is to make America lest dependent on supplies from other countries. No place is this more evident than in the automobile industry where new car availability is difficult at best. Pres. Biden has called upon industry to manufacture more electronic components here rather than relying upon other countries to supply them. But that is not an isolated example. Our export deficit has been plaguing us for decades with U.S. businesses sending more jobs overseas in search of lower manufacturing costs. There is one place that politics can take action, if unpopular to business, the resulting effect would be positive to Americans, in supply availability but in job availability.

It would be far more responsible were politicians to honestly educate Americans on the realities of economics than playing the us-against-them ideology being practiced today. All 535 members of Congress plus the President and his political appointees are responsible for seeing that through.