September 16, 2014

  • We Sold Our Maine Cabin

    Yup, after forty-four years we are no longer part of the "Summer Complaint"downeast.
    At our age (mid and late eighties) being out in the woods was more and more of a chore and probably dangerious even though we had lots of very nice people looking out for us. we pretty much built the place from scratch over the years - from a tar-paper shack with no running water or electricity to a functioning cottage. We got a very good price for it - considerably more than I thought it was worth - and have known the folks who bought it ever since we bought our place - they have the place next to ours as well as several hundred acres behind us and the island out in front - which they bought to keep it from being developed.
    This last Maine summer was a beautiful one - About the only cool weather in the country.

April 23, 2014

  • The Gadfly

    The Gadfly
    Socrates’ reputation as a gadfly – an annoying insect that won’t leave you alone – finally got him in trouble in ancient Athens, when he questioned too many political truisms – and was too critical of the basic beliefs of Athenians. He did manage however, to change the world in profound ways – mostly by his questions.
    Let me continue his methods for a few moments:

    Why in the present United States of America – a nation even more important today than ancient Athens was in its time – Do so many citizens either reject their civic responsibilities or when they do vote, vote for candidates whose professed viewpoints and beliefs are not representative of the voters’ best interests?

March 10, 2014

  • Back in the hospital

    I suppose my warranty is running out - this past month has been one I would like to forget. I have developed atrial fib and atrial flutter as well as congestive heart failure. This led to fluid buildup and kidney failure. I just got out of the hospital where I had two heart stents emplaced after extensive treatment to get my kidneys restarted - which worked. I lost forty pounds in ten days - mostly fluids. i do not recommend this as a weight loss method.
    The blood thinners they gave me opened up old - and previously unknown - ulcers which required pretty massive blood transfusions. These ulcers were apparently caused by long-term use of strong NSAIDs (Naproxen, indomethecin, etc) which I used for my severe arthritis pain. Currently I cannot take either blood thinners - except a couple of baby aspirin a day - or any pain pills except narcotics -which I will not take. I'm going to try physical therapy.
    I'm home from the hospital and getting around on my own. We are even planning on our annal move to Maine next summer - but I think we are going to need some help.
    My wife and I have led active lives - lots of travel to almost every continent, building a cabin in Maine almost from scratch, working at a job we loved, sailing the Florida Keys for many years, the good life.
    Next month will be our birthdays (84 and 88). We've observed a lot of history and enjoyed most of it.

February 16, 2014

  • Fun Times in North Florida

    The weather the nation has had has mostly bypassed Florida - we had one flurry of sleet and a couple of days of hard freeze, but everything has pretty much snapped back - it's in the 70s today and will get up into the 80s by mid week.
    My health is not good - fairly serious heart problems but I'm hanging in there.
    I'm frustrated by all those things I no longer seem to be able to do - getting around and even bending over is a chore - my primary MD says basically that my warranty has expired. I'll be 84 in April, I suppose that has something to do with it.
    We haven't heard about the condition of our place in Maine - it's unreachable this time of year and the couple who look after it are pretty much snowed in themselves. Many years ago snow loading caused the cabin actually fall off its foundation - cedar posts in those days - it slid down almost to the lake until it was stopped by a large pine. It's been moved back and is now on a solid pile of rocks.
    Here in Tallahassee we have lots of small animals and birds this time of year - the whooping cranes were recently led back on their annual migration by an ultralite plane as they are every year. There are over a dozen of them in a more-or less secret refuge at the St. Marks Wildlife Area - which is connected to Tallahassee by a bike trail. Once down at St. George Island we ran across a Whooping Crane who was checking out the beach - they are huge birds - standing almost 5 feet tall. This one was not afraid of humans - in fact quite curious about us. Eventually another crane flew over and they both flew back to the refuge.

December 29, 2013

  • Looking Backward

    This has been an interesting year - both for me personally and for the US.
    Personally, I have seen my health decline rapidly - with many ups and downs. Currently I seem to be in a holding pattern and things are [mostly] looking up.
    the US, IMHO, as not fared as well - our world influence and prestige has declined; our politics are in disarray, and our economy is still pretty much a mess.
    As a student of and sometime teacher of History, I tend to see things from the longer comparative viewpoint and it seems to me that we (the US) are entering a period of greed and thoughtlessness where multiple demagogues struggle for power riding a wave of voter apathy and fear. Fear that somehow they will lose what little economic security they have left and disregard for those that have already fallen by the wayside.
    These purveyors of fear label everything they see as threatening as "Socialistic" or "terrorist" using those loaded terms to frighten voters into rejecting any change, however positive. They,for example, have pretty much cut the government at all levels from its rightful place as an economic and social spark-plug - as it should be in a democracy - to a government that seems to cater to and protect the richest among us - even though history has clearly shown that government-led economic stimulus has led to the most dramatic upturns in our economic and social history.

November 21, 2013

  • More griping

    My heart problems seem to be more serious than I at first thought - I'm hanging in there but not hitting on all six - or even four - to use an obsolete phrase.
    I suppose when you find it more convenient to use a walker to go out and get the paper - yes I actually still have a paper delivered each day - that your body is trying to tell you something.
    The next few weeks will mean more tests and rather unpleasant procedures but at least I'm home and getting used to the drugs

November 9, 2013

  • Hospitals -yuck

    This summer in Maine was not up to our general enjoyable lake-side stay. I had a couple of episodes with my back (stenosis) and shortness of breath. We flew back to Florida, my GP sent me to a cardiologist who sent me to the ER who sent me to the hospital cardiac care center who diagnosed my problem as severe atrial flutter (rapid irregular heartbeat) which they brought under control by adding a couple of strong drugs to my extensive daily collection. I'm home now after some delay in being sprung from the hospital - typical bureaucratic foolishness -
    The druga leave me exhausted and bruised - but able to function.
    People are gryping about government-sponsored medicine, but I am really thankful for medicare - which has saved us hundreds of thousands over the past couple of decades.
    Thanks taxpayers.

September 25, 2013

  • Politics

    I cannot understand how and why Tea-Party politicians are supported by any voters as they seem to be determined to destroy all of the advances the most completely developed and powerful nation in the world has made in the past 80 years - apparently because they for some reason fear the very power of the government they own and run.
    I can only conclude that they reject the very notion of Democracy - even a democracy that protects minority rights better than any other that has ever existed.
    These anti-american, anti-government radicals have collected a sizable following of voters, apparently because they are well-funded and can afford massive publicity campaigns directed toward the less knowledgeable potential voter. This coupled with a low voter turn-out, partially due to clever anti-democratic gerrymandering has given them a disproportionate advantage in Congress, which coupled with poor leadership in either major party, has led to our current impasse and fiscal crisis.
    I urge readers to become more active in politics - at least to the extent of educating themselves in real truths about issues and the real agenda of those candidates standing for election.
    It is my considered opinion that many voters are voting contrary to their own best interests - especially economic best interests.

September 21, 2013

  • Political Integrity

    It seems to me that American politics are reaching a new low. Neither major political party has a memorable or responsible congressional leader. Most Congressmen seem to believe that their personal career is far more important than the welfare of the country much less the welfare of those they have been chosen to represent.

    The average congressman (Senator or Representative) seems to have little or no knowledge of, or interest in the history of the US and the part politics has played.
    I think I'll write more on this, if anyone's interested

September 8, 2013

  • DownEast Fall

    Well, Fall is in the air here in downeast Maine. The blueberries are all done - the "Summer Complaint" is being replaced by leaf-peepers (Average age at least 70), the kids are all back in school and we keep our heat on here at the camp.
    I'm always surprised at how many businesses are so tourist-oriented that they close up after Labor Day - even those that serve mostly local folks.

    Bar Harbor will get a real shot in the economic arm by the increasing number of cruise ships. When 3000+ tourists hit that very small town all at once it must be something - I'm personally not going closer than looking down at them from Cadillac Mt. Whale-watching season is here also.

    Our lake is still home to the Loons - teaching their young to fly. Ma and Pa will take separate vacations leaving Junior to decide when he's ready to go south all on his own. Every year our resident "Loon Lady" has to go out on the ice with a net and heavy towel to rescue one that has waited too long. Junior is taken to salt water and left to figure out which way south is by himself.

    The land-dwelling varmints are all in evidence - Moose, Deer, Turkeys, Foxes, Raccoons, and Porcupines all have been sighted on our camp road. Hunting season will sound like a war - but we will have done our snow-birding bit by then and be back in North Florida by mid-October.

September 5, 2013

August 14, 2013

  • Acting in Economic and Political Self Interest

    The US has been an interesting experiment in basically democratic cultural development. A fundimental idea which has lasted throughout our history has been the that all individuals were basically equal - at least those we considered members of our culture. We reluctantly expanded this idea to include those we at first tended to reject: Negro slaves, late-entering groups of immigrants, even women to some extent, but now we seem to be on the verge of including all Americans as equal citizens - even those who have snuck in.


    This is a very good idea because our economy is set up so as to provide more economic income and social satisfaction for individuals  in direct proportion to the well-being of ALL individuals. By this I mean,  that if the lower income citizens do well, all social levels benefit - the wellbeing of the richest americans actually depends on the lowest income americans doing well. Check 20th century american history for ample evidence of this.


    Given this obvious fact, any government or economic actions that tend to support the very rich by lowering the income of the very poor or political actions that tend to restrict the idea of individual equality will eventually end with the very rich somewhat poorer than they would have been had they not supported any such action - and all americans somewhat poorer for having discriminated against any inhabitants.


    That being the case, current attempts by a fast-disappearing white majority in some states to restrict the political and economic rights of minorities and those who tend to support them is actually going to have an adverse effect.  Fortunately, the practical democratic reaction to such attempts eventually corrects such undemocratic actions, but it sometime takes a very long time.


    In the case of immigration laws, probably the best interests of all citizens would be to make them as lax as possible - after all the most of the ancestors of present americans immigrated under almost nonexistent restrictions and we've done all right.



July 9, 2013

  • Summah Complaint

    Overheard at the crowded local general store: “I seeh they got here”.   “Ayah”

    Downeast Maine is very seasonable – quite busy in the summer- pretty deserted  in the winter, and the local economy very much measures this – wintertime jobs are hard to find.

    A good friend of ours (Much younger and very much local -his family have only lived here for the past 250 years!)  is quite happy that his winter job working on $13 M “Improvements”on a “summer cottage” out on the island has been guaranteed for another year.

    This does not mean all summer visitors are welcomed with open arms – often their expectations and attitudes are dead wrong. Native downeasters speak with a pronounced accent which some regard as “quaint” and the speakers as unsophisticated and very provencial. The person I referred to above has been to Europe twice playing with his HS Soccer team – his wife spent her jr college year in France. Regarding them as “Hicks from the sticks” is absurd – but common among the “Summah complaint”

June 28, 2013

  • Maine in June

    Well, you can almost see the other side of the lake through the fog and drizzle - cold fog and drizzle - If we're lucky it will get up to sixty today.

    I feel sorry for those who get up for a weeks vacation, next week will probably be sunny.

June 22, 2013

  • Maine - US Summer vacation land

    We fly to Maine Monday - our first flying since 9/11 and all the new checks, etc. My wife is in a wheelchair which may or may not mean a hassle - I'll let you know.

    We bought our place on the lake in 1970. It was a long way down a jeep trail and then a clamber down over rocks. No power, of course. The place was half built and we had to drag everything in over the boulders. Cooking was on a wood stove or bottled gas (which had to be carried in) and light was Alladin Lamps (very bright kerosene - not your usual barn lanterns). It was twelve years before power lines were laid down our side of the lake even though the power dam was within a mile of our camp. The lake was good for bathing, but pretty chilly sometimes. Ice-out is generally in late April.

    We spent the first summer shingling the camp, installing windows, building an outhouse, laying a floor, etc. It was a lot of work but fun. Nowadays we have a drive down to the camp, dock and ramp for the wheelchair, a/c and even indoor plumbing!  The road to the camp is much better but a four-wheel drive still is a good idea - though not absolutely necessary. We even have road signs and a street address (required by fire safety laws in ME). Our mailbox is still a couple of miles away at the  closest paved road.

    Our place is in Downeast Maine - about midway between Bangor and Bar Harbor on a deep lake which has the southernmost population of Arctic Char in the world. The lake is not built-up, and because of Maine's very restrictive lakefront building laws, probably never will be. It one of four lakes in the US with a native population of land-locked salmon.  Fishing is good.  Years ago one of our resident otters tried to follow me into the cabin (he was just a pup and didn't know any better) My garbage can is bear-proofed, but they keep trying.

    As you can see, our summer life is somewhat different from our life here in Florida - cooler, for one thing.  We'll be back down in mid-october. 

    Fortunately, internet access isn't a problem - I can see the access tower on the hill across the lake - direct line of sight for a 4G wireless modem. We even have Dish TV.

June 21, 2013

  • Will we have to move?

    I like xanga - I'm used to its peculiarities - but I'm not sure I want to pay (most of my interests will probably shut down anyway if that happens.

    For some time I've had two other sites which sort of mirror this one :

    I will start updating them - if you find me interesting, check either or both out.


    This summer we are flying to Maine rather than driving, which has become more and more difficult for a couple of octogenarians.

    We will fly up on Monday 6/24. I'll keep you posted.

May 12, 2013

  • The Politics of Division and Terror

    It seems to me that America is approaching the nadir of its modern political activity. Never before in my rather long lifetime have I seen politics so focused on attacking the other party and with less concern for managing a responsible government. Elections, both state and national seem to  be more focused on denying the other party the election than in selecting responsible or even qualified candidates. 

    The real concerns of the voters seem to have been warped to fit the vendetta offered by each party. The Republicans seem to be particularly adept at this, their well-documented personal dislike for President Obama is hard to explain except in terms of racial and class hatred - this despite the fact that their anti-minority and class bias has been pretty soundly rejected by the majority of Americans.

    The shift to state politics, where there is more entrenched prejudice in some states has led to an amazing resurgence of many long-settled political questions affecting most voters. No longer can many Americans take their voting rights or the social safety net for granted. At least one state has even seriously contemplated the idea of setting an official state religion and the U.S.Constitution is routinely ignored or subverted.

    My concern is that this very dangerous political trend can result in even more violence. We really don't have to worry about foreign terrorists - we have plenty of terror growing right here at home. The puzzle is why so many voters seem to vote to encourage this form of political terrorism.

May 1, 2013

  • Modern International Morality

    There seems to have been a change in Morality as viewed in many developed nations - probably due to more intense competition for economic hegemony.

    There has been a move away from the idea that "Civil Rights" are the natural rights due everyone - the idea of "Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" which modern history has seen as applying to every individual, not just a privileged few. This idea has led to many popular uprisings in the past couple of hundred years and the gradual growth of at least nominally democratic governments around the world.

    Humane treatment of others has also been a casualty of modern competition - torture and violence - especially against minorities - has become the norm even in the most "enlightened" states.  International relations have moved from cooperation to competition and the idea of a United Nations organization based on mutually agreed upon basic moral ideals has degenerated into a forum of fairly intense  political competition - both between the major power blocs and the smaller less influential nations who no longer find they can ally themselves to a major nation without the danger of assimilation or aggressive bullying.

    Perhaps the idea of some kind of universal morality never was really in  play - just a sort of lip service to gain favors from the super powers which has slipped as national alliances have changed.  Do you suppose the idea of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness was ever an international goal, or do modern nations see those goals as applying only to their citizens at the expense of all others?

April 19, 2013

  • Police, the Media, and Citizens

    Well, they took only a few days to wrap up the Boston Marathon Bombing attack. The two brothers who made and placed the bombs were apparently panicked by the display of their photos on TV and went on a rather clumsy  - though well armed with guns, bombs, and home-made grenades - attempt to flee Boston. They got as far as Watertown, one was killed in a shootout and the other badly wounded. The younger (19) managed to creep away but was found the next day when a Watertown resident noticed blood on his boat cover, peeked inside and saw the bomber "Covered in blood". He called 911 and within a couple of hours the man was in custody, in the hospital, in serious condition. The Watertown residents lined the streets cheering the police as they left.

    The point here is that there was quite a remarkable degree of cooperation between all the government agencies and the media; but most of all the willingness of citizens to respond to a difficult situation (all day virtual lockdown) and their willingness to cooperate with the police. When you get down to it, the bombers were caught mainly because they were recognized and identified by many people, and an alert citizen checked out some blood stains.

    Now, if Congress could be so cooperative.......

March 18, 2013

  • Tyche Remembered

    This site is named in honor of my favorite sailboat: The Hermann built Catboat TYCHE.

    We sailed Tyche in the Florida Keys for many years. She was well suited for that area as with her board up she drew only a couple of feet. She had a large cockpit - could seat six, and nice accommodations for two below.  She was a comfortable day-sailer and weekender. When we took another couple overnight, we would put them ashore in a tent for the night on someplace like Nest Key (Everglades NP primitive campsite - a small island in the middle of Florida Bay) or maybe we'd all tent.

    With her single giant sail, she was fairly stiff to hold - but fun in a light or moderate breeze. Her power, if you could call it that, was a British Seagull outboard - the only OB I ever had that would re-start after being well doused with salt water.

    Recently my wife re-discovered our log for Tyche - good for many laughs. Here are some photos

February 27, 2013

  • Future History of the US

    I'm a long-time observer of trends in the US and I'm not too pleased with what seems to be happening here.

    During the past thirty or so years there has been a pretty steady decline in the political and economic power of what had become the US middle class.

    This group had become dominant during and after World War II with the general rise of wages and provided services from the Federal and State governments. The movement toward a more equitable way of life seemed to foretell a future where there would be much decreased poverty and many more people enjoying the good life. This was the culmination of a trend that had started in the 1890's, increased after 1900 and even weathered the great depression, when massive government spending encouraged private economic growth and left the US, after World War II as the first Superpower of the twentieth century.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, the Cold War (1946-89) and the Korean War (1950-54) most citizens of the US enjoyed unparalleled economic wellbeing. However,a conservative backlash led to diminished union power - the unions were victims of their own success and at first the slow-down of average annual earnings was not so apparent. As jobs became tighter, there was a rise in concern about "other"competing groups and there was growing dissatisfaction with government regulations and decisions which seemed to many conservative voters to be both discriminatory and immoral. 

    Conservative politicians have taken advantage of this growing dissatisfaction to attract voters to their own agendas - tax relief for the business and financial community (their primary financial supporters) and attempts to undo controversial government decisions (Abortion, environmental protection, and equal rights among others). These positions seemed to blind many voters to the growing economic problems and disparity caused by decreased government revenue; which is, after all, mostly spent in ways which encourages middle-class wellbeing.

    While these basically conservative policies eventually led to two disastrous wars (Viet Nam and Iraq) and the over-all collapse of the financial system, there still seems to be enough residual support for their basic ideas so that conservatives enjoy the ability to check and sometimes undo attempts to use Government power to bring the US back on the track it left several decades ago. This despite growing voter attempts to overcome the conservative agenda.

    If present trends continue, I think the glory days of the US have ended. It will be a country with chronic fairly large unemployment - thus keeping wages at a minimum - with a fairly large class of poor, poorly educated, poorly paid, workers and a small very wealthy group of financial and business owners; and certainly a country with very much diminished power in the world.

February 2, 2013

  • A Balanced Federal Budget

    It seems to me that the sensible solution to the current US financial crisis should start with movement toward a balanced Federal budget - that is ZERO deficit spending.

    Such a budget should include all those current types of fundings which Americans have come to expect and plan on using in their future - such as Social Security and Medicare - as well as those expenditures necessary for the general wellbeing of the country.

    1.Social Security and Medicare should both be "Off budget"that is, fully financed through their own FICA (payroll) funding independent of the general tax structure. Currently Social Security is funded this way, Medicare should be, but is currently, only partially funded through dedicated FICA contributions. A single-payer universal medicare system would probably be the most efficient.


    2. The income tax structure should be set so that all earners contribute something - no matter how little. This is necessary if citizens are to feel that they have some part in the government. The IRS contributions levels should be progressive - say from 10% to 40% depending in income. If a taxpayer does not make a certain minimum, all but a token payment may be refunded. All earned income, from whatever source, should be taxed.


    3. The budget and tax rates should be for a period longer than a single fiscal year.


    This would be a start toward a sensible tax and spend system. Eventually, less tax revenue would go toward debt service and more toward general expenditures. History has shown that sensible government spending leads to a more robust economy - at quite a rapid rate.

December 28, 2012

  • Gun Control

    I'm an over-age gun nut. For almost all my life I've owned and shot multiple firearms - mostly pistols, but I do have a '03A3 .30-06 Springfield, a shotgun and a couple of .22 rifles. My handguns are target pistols and, along with the rifles, kept unloaded and well secured. I was, in a far-off time a pretty good target shot (In what are now called "bullseye"matches - not very popular nowadays - hitting a 3.5"-5" bullseye from a one-handed standing position at 25-50 yards is too difficult for most modern gun owners - and their pistols).

    For some time I was an NRA member - back when they espoused gun competence and gun safety, before they became an arm of firearms manufacturers and modern-day anarchists (Remember, an anarchist is someone who by definition, is against all organized government - which certainly defines the modern NRA, as well as the Tea-party, come to think of it).

    The US constitution calls for a "Well organized militia" and thus thinks all citizens should have the right to bear arms. The NRA and its fellow anarchists tend to ignore the "Well organized militia"part of the Second Amendment - which surely implies some sort of control - and demand that all citizens, no matter how ignorant they are of proper gun use, have the right to unrestricted gun ownership - of just about any type of firearm - maybe up to and including cruise missiles.

    I think all gun owners should be required to register and demonstrate proficiency, sort of like automobile drivers have to. Also I think the production and sale of assault-type weapons, ammunition, and clips should be tightly controlled.

    When we are seriously suggesting that school teachers should be armed to protect their students, the country is in deep trouble.

December 12, 2012

  • Grumbles and a Modest Proposal

    It's been some time since I added a blog here - probably because I haven't had much to say that I care to have published

    I'm irritated at how my life seems to be progressing - the latest is a completely arthritis-destroyed shoulder which is not responding to any treatment I've tried so far. My Orthopedic surgeon (yes I have had one of them for a couple of years) says that shoulder replacement is a last resort and not that successful for people in my condition - also that would make my job as a full-time caregiver for my wife almost impossible for several months - so I guess I'll just suck it up and ignore it. The only trouble is it's my left shoulder and I'm left-handed.

    I'm fairly satisfied with the general turn American politics is taking. We seem to be moving forward- but only by fits and starts - The main problem, as I see it, is that unless there is a major break-through in Congress allowing for a gradual move into the realities of the modern world, there will be a major culture change with results which will please very few and badly impact a good many - both economically and socially.

    Much of the current concern seems to be over the fact that the US is becoming older and entitlements will be the responsibility of fewer and fewer working people. One easy solution to this is simply to reduce the average age of our population and that's easily done through immigration - just encourage more younger working people to come here - that's what we did a century and a half ago and it worked remarkably well.

    This outlandish proposal - open the US to much more immigration - is anathema to the Republicans and many Democrats - so I don't suppose it will be seriously considered. Remember you heard it here first

November 22, 2012

  • A last word on politics

    This past political year has been an interesting one. My wife, who is going blind, has become a TV political junky - mostly MSNBC with occasional looks at CNN and FoxNews. The amount of political disinformation has been astounding, as has been the really surprising ability of the GOP to delude itself.

    The outcome of the election was never much in doubt - easy to say in retrospect - even though most pundits, left and right, though it would be very close. Perhaps at the start they had a point but the Republicans went so far out of their way to offend the majority of the electorate that it's a wonder the election wasn't even more of a blowout.

    In the past hundred years, only four presidents have been elected and re-elected by a substantial majority (Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Obama). This election was not a fluke - it demonstrated the new reality of American politics, but the GOP still seems unable or unwilling to come to terms with the future.

    It will be interesting to see how the Republicans (and for that matter, the Democrats) adjust their campaigns to reflect the fact that "Angry Old White Men" no longer dominate the elections. I predict that our next president will be a female - probably Hillary Clinton.

November 6, 2012

  • Recent Political/Social History of the U.S.

    Today is election day. I will not try to predict or suggest the outcome, but I would like to make some comments about the political and social movements in the US during the past 100 years. I'm a pretty good historian, and I've lived through most of them.

    During the past hundred years, the US has swung between Progressive and Conservative political orientations. Theodore Roosevelt opened the century with a very progressive agenda - slowing the "Robber Barons" influence and control over society and the economy. Conservative reaction to this led to a split in the Republican Party and the election of only the second Democrat President (Wilson) since before Lincoln and the Civil War. Wilson's progressive stance - attempting to involve the US in World Affairs as well as other domestic actions, helped to usher in a conservative/reactionary group of presidents (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover) and ultimately to the Great Depression. That economic collapse led to the election of  the most progressive - and popular -  president of the twentieth century, Franklin D Roosevelt - who was elected in 1932 and re-elected Three more times (The only president re-elected more than once). 

    Roosevelt pretty much set the tone for government activity of our era - introducing many of the government programs which are now a fundimental part of the nation's social program. His successor, Truman, continued his agenda but the next president, Eisenhower, began to move in a more conservative direction. Kennedy and Johnson renewed the progressive drive with civil rights and other social agenda programs. During most of this post World War II era, the economy of the US boomed - propelling the US into world economic leadership. A series of ill-advised wars and social unrest led to the election of a series of conservative presidents who attempted to return the US to the imagined "Good Old Days" before the rise of a politically/socially powerful working/middle class. They were generally unsuccessful but their attempts did develop a fear of replacement among a large part of the population who worried about the rising political power of minorities and the secularization of the population in general. This fear-mongering was successful most of the time and managed to keep enough social/fiscal conservatives in power that they were able to take over the financial institutions and free them from many of the controls placed on them during the mid-century.

    The result was an economic collapse which spread world-wide and led the US into a pretty deep recession. This allowed the progressives to seize power and elect the first minority president, who immediately set about attempting to replicate what Roosevelt had done in the 1930s. He has been remarkably successful but the general mistrust of novelty and fear of the rising political power of minorities has made his re-election very difficult.

    History will record the decisions being made today - did the US once again swing to the Conservative Right or continue down the Progressive highway? Interestingly enough, the economic health and growth of the US as always been greater during progressive times.


October 22, 2012

  • Politics Again

    I suggest that anyone still undecided or hesitant about their presidential choice watch the debate tonight and look for some not-often-mentioned visual and verbal clues - especially with Romney, as he seems to be the most closed and devious of the two candidates.

    With Obama, what you see seems to be pretty much what you get; though I think he is a good deal more centrist and conservative that some of his followers expected. Despite GOP claims, he has put forward a pretty straightforward and detailed agenda for the next four years: He wants a budget deal that includes both spending cuts and tax increases; he has put forward rather detailed deficit-reduction proposals (to reduce the deficit by $3.8 Trillion over a decade) He has supported the Dream Act, a number of jobs bills, and rather detailed proposals to adjust the tax code.  Romney's suggestions, by contrast are pretty much what Republicans have proposed in the past with the addition of promises to kill medicare and obamacare as well as reduce taxes. All of these proposals are very general and depend on changed political and economic situations.

    Romney presents a rather "closed"and stern demeanor during most of his public appearances. His attempts to be "one of us"are obviously rather strained. That's not necessarily a bad thing - we have had lots of patrician-appearing presidents -one of the best, FDR was a good example. Eisenhower was another. but Romney more often given the appearance of an angry CEO who doesn't like any criticism or questioning - which seems to jibe with his history. His attitude toward Obama during the debates is an example of his apparent attitude toward those he considers inferior - if some of his body language and "keyword"comments are indicative.

    Another problem Romney has is his constant position changing and refusal to allow himself to be pinned down or most social issues. He also seems to be a smart person super-focused on what used to be called micro-economics with little interest or knowledge of the world outside his narrow vision - rather surprisingly, he seems to be depending on a good many experts from the failed Bush administration in the field of foreign affairs; not, in my opinion, a good idea.

    He apparently has little interest in those things which make up a modern developed nation, other than a sort of bottom line view of the economy. He apparently really believes that Wall Street and large corporations doing well will translate into an economic surge. Remember he considers Bain Capital and other hedge  funds as "Small businesses".

    It's apparent where my choice lies. If you want a rather ignorant, arrogant, and devious president, by all means vote for Romney.


October 14, 2012

  • Traveling

    Last week was interesting.

    We drove down through the NH White Mt.  There was snow on the top of Mt. Washington. The Fall colors were pretty much at their peak and the weather more or less cooperated. Our second day driving is always the worst - through NY and PA - but at least this year we didn't have a  blizzard. The third day is almost all the length of Northern and western Virginia and then through the Smoky Mt.  The final day is the length of GA - a mix of back roads and interstates - i'll have to take the car in and get the bugs scrubbed off. The high cost of gas hasn't seemed to diminish the traffic. Florida is still pretty warm (hot actually) - a far cry from the chilly weather we left in New England.

October 7, 2012

  • Travel Time

    My wife and I will be driving down from Maine to Florida this week - Our usual trek. We'll be driving down through the White Mt. of NH, the Berkshires in MA, and on down through NY & PA to the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains as far as GA, then down through central GA to FL - we live about 20 miles south of the GA line. 

    Maine's getting chilly and the leaves have pretty much turned and are falling - it's time for us snowbirds to leave.


September 26, 2012

  • Fall DownEast

    It's a really gloomy day here in downeast Maine - sort of typical of the rapidly changing weather this season brings. The summer tourists and people in our lake colony have mostly closed their camps and gone home;  the leaf peepers aren't here yet - though the big cruise ships are still evident at Bar Harbor - where they made a deal to sell them some of our cheap lobster.

    That's right, there is a surfeit of lobsters on the market - I paid $3.50/lb. last week. Some of the lobstermen have pulled their traps and shut down for the winter - "not worth hauling...what with the price of bait and fuel.."  Maine is not a rich state and any stumbling of the local economy is quickly felt. Because the economy is both local and seasonal, changes are both obvious and dramatic.

    Our lake has been drawn down for the winter. The lake is an important source of water for both power and a national salmon hatchery and is pretty carefully monitored and supervised. Its level is kept high during the summer but draw-down begins after labor day and by now is almost complete - the level is about three feet lower, fishing is still pretty good however

    Our wildlife is much in evidence - the usual squirrels, chippies, small birds, and rabbits have been joined by deer, a cow moose and calf, coyotes, foxes, a bear, and lots of turkeys. Typical of this time of year. In four months the lake may have two feet of ice and the animals will be even more prevalent - except the bear.

    We won't be here. We leave for Florida the day after Columbus Day and will follow the changing leaves down the mountains  - a beautiful drive - if the weather cooperates.  I'll let you know.

    Meanwhile - back to politics.

    Whatever are the Republicans thinking? I am really surprised at how inept their campaign has been . It's as if they thought people would be so dissatisfied with Obama that all they had to do was put someone up and he would be a shoo-in. They don't seem to realize that most Americans apparently blame congress, not the president, for the lack of government action regarding the economy - with good reason.  Unless Obama gets a more sympathetic congress, we may have more frustration and the same inaction.