Remembering Cokie Roberts: the unassuming role model

This week the journalistic world, the real one, lost a great journalist, reporter, analyst, and woman; Cokie Roberts.  She finally succumbed to complications from breast cancer which she had been diagnosed with in 2002.  Born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, Cokie was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in December 1943.  Her nickname was a derivative of Corinne which her kid brother could not pronounce.  She remained known as Cokie. Her parents, Lindy and Hale Boggs were Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, in 1972, Hale Boggs’ plane disappeared over Alaska and was never found.  Lindy took over her husband’s seat.  One can deduce that politics ran in the family and obviously in Cokie’s  blood.

Cokie was best known for her positions at NPR and ABC, but her portfolio runs deeper than that.  Her first job was with WRC-TV in Washington DC.  She had a weekly public affairs program called Meeting of the Minds.  Having married another journalist, Steven Roberts, in 1964 she moved to New York City with him and for a short time worked as a reporter for Cowles Communication.  She was also a producer at WNEW-TV, until she moved again with her husband to Los Angeles and started working for Altman Productions.  Later she joined KNBC-TV as a producer to the Emmy winning children’s program Serendipity.  Following her husband again, she did a short stint in Greece as a CBS News part time correspondent in Athens.

Cokie is best known for her ten years as congressional correspondent on NPR, but her journalism, analysis, and congressional prowess was in demand and she became a “regular” on Morning Edition, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and a co-host to This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts.  But through it all, Cokie remained a professional journalist without an agenda.  She was raised in a political family when politics were civilized and friendships were made across the aisle.  That demeanor remained with Cokie Roberts throughout her career.  She also served on the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization, and appointed on the Council on Service and Civic Participation by President George W. Bush. 

Behind the TV anchor and journalist was also an author.  In 2004, Cokie was interviewed by CNN’s Larry King on her book new book Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. This book was written and published two years after Cokie was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In the interview, Cokie told Larry that she her profession helped write the book. As a congressional reporter, she witnessed debates on freedom of speech, religion, and bearing arms, bringing her “…closer  to the  founding fathers”.It was time she took a look at the women behind the men.  She brought to light the influence that wives like Martha Washington, and Mrs. Adams (Louisa Catherine) had on their husbands.  Through letters and notes, she put together the lives of these women at a time when men led and women followed.  Cokie discovered the resiliency of Martha Washington at Valley Forge, and Mrs. Jefferson who single handedly took over her husband’s position as Post Master General, and often protected her home with a shot gun.  Through historical letters and notes, Cokie managed to give us a glimpse at the founding mothers.  In a tribute to Cokie, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi described Cokie as a “trailblazer” who gave us stories on the “unsung women who built our nation”.

In 2018, a few days after the death of President George H.W. Bush, Cookie gave a short interview to David Greene host of Morning Edition. David asked her about her friendship with the former president, and the president’s  almost surreal friendship with Bill Clinton.  Cokie described her friendship with the Bush family as developing through Barbara Bush’s Family Literacy Foundation which Cokie supported.  According to her, the former president “exemplified decency”.  His relationship with Bill Clinton developed because of the former president’s “incredible decency”.  Cokie was close enough to the Bush family that one time she sent the former president a pair of Uncle Same Wants You socks from the National Archives. In true George H. W. Bush form she received a “thank you” note from him.  According to Cokie, the former president was big on sending “thank you” notes.

Cokie Roberts personified journalism as it was but unfortunately has not remained.  She was never crass, biased, rude, over bearing, or partisan flag waving.  Whether she discussed, interviewed, analyzed, or reported; Cokie remained true to her upbringing and her professionalism.  She might have had different political ideology but she never wore it on her sleeve.  Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura described her as talented, tough, fair, and a great “friend of the family”. Former President Obama said that she was a role model to women when journalism was dominated by men.  The latter is very true.  Her ten-year tenure on NPR gave her the fond title of “founding mother of NPR”.   

What made Cokie Roberts admired and liked, was her ability to agree or disagree politely and graciously.  She was in the same league as Barbara Walters, who also had to struggle and punch through the male dominated profession of journalism.  Barbara once told a story how on a set everyone man had a chair with their name on it, but hers said “woman”.  These women were special because they worked hard and did not demand or expect entitlements.  They forged through the chauvinistic world of their profession by using their brains not a bull horn.  They were the silent activists that conquered through intelligence, diligence, and professionalism that could not be ignored. 

Cokie Roberts represented decency and ethics in journalism, two qualities dangerously absent today.  The New York Times comes to mind. It’s unethical journalism once again showed its ugly head with an unsubstantiated almost made-up story against a Supreme Court Justice just for politics’ sake.  It does not get lower than that.  As Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post called it: “impeachable journalism”. Cokie Roberts was the opposite. Cokie Roberts “…disagreed agreeably…listened, offered advice, showed patience and poise…” (Kellyanne Conway). Thank you Cokie Roberts for representing the best in us on and off the screen.  Rest in peace, your story is yet to be told.

What a difference 18 years make: 9/11- 18 years later

New York City 9/11 Memorial Park and Museum

18 years ago our nation stood together in pain and resolve against the forces of evil that managed to kill almost 3,000 of our citizens in premeditated attacks in three locations.  We wept, we prayed, and we stood as a nation without partisanship and hate.  We were united not only in grief but also in patriotism and resolve.  There were no Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or Socialists.  There were only Americans.  That was that, and this is now.

There are American kids who 18 years ago were not born yet.  What have they learned? What story have they been told? Who is teaching them about a moment in time when our country stood still in horror? How many of us thought it was a movie as we watched planes determinately fly into the Twin Towers? How many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the attacks changed the New York Skyline forever?  Does anyone care anymore?  How many will actually remember?  How many will continue to remember? On this 9/11, we might tune in to watch the annual remembrance ceremony in New York City, and we may even remain tuned in to listen to the slow and somber reading of the victims’ names.  Then we will continue with our day. 

010917-N-7479T-509 Ground Zero, New York City, N.Y. (Sept. 17, 2001) — An aerial view shows only a small portion of the crime scene where the World Trade Center collapsed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Surrounding buildings were heavily damaged by the debris and massive force of the falling twin towers. Clean-up efforts are expected to continue for months. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Eric J. Tilford. (RELEASED)

Lower side Manhattan has been rebuilt and a new tower looms above the 9/11 Memorial Glade fountains and 9/11 Memorial Museum that keeps the memory viable and also brings in much needed visitor dollars.  The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is partly funded by private donations and memberships.  The first time I visited “Ground Zero” it was still in rubble and the scars and pain were still fresh.  Pictures of those missing hung adjacent to placards of united support on a make shift wire fencing that surrounded the debris and the hot steel.  A cloud of dust and smoke still hung in the air. People moved about slowly and in relative silence; some wiping tears that were unintentional but honest.  I was one of those people.  It was difficult standing there and looking down at a crater filled with smoldering twisted steel. It was easier watching it on television from the comfort of a couch.  Surrounding buildings were covered in steel netting and American flags flew from their bare walls paying tribute to the lives that had been lost a few months prior.  On 9/11 all lives mattered.

Through my consecutive visits I watched as tragedy morphed into remembrance, memorials, museums, and eventually a quasi tourist attraction and park.  The wire fences are long gone, trees have been replanted, and One World Trade Center rises above the skyline as if in defiance.  But in my opinion, something has been lost in an attempt to keep the memory alive.  The two large deep fountains are etched with names of those lost in the three attacks.  Included are also names of those who had perished in the 1993 Twin Towers attack.  The memorial to the latter was lost on 9/11. Among the 9/11 names etched on the dark granite walls surrounding the fountains, are eleven with the significant byline: “and child”. Eleven mothers died with their unborn child. This did not escape me, but I am sure it escapes the many who pose to take selfies or who lean across the walls and etched names to take pictures, smile, and even imbibe in a Starbucks or two while “remembering”.  A jovial outing atmosphere in an otherwise morbid graveyard. 

I refuse to pose and take pictures leaning against victims’ names.  I refuse to forget the pain that we felt 18 years ago.  I refuse to be a tourist where 3,000 ordinary folk went to work on a beautiful New York City fall day and never returned home to their loved ones.  I refuse to give a pass to idiots who blame America for the attacks.  I refuse to forgive the terrorists who planned and carried out the heinous crime.  I refuse to  turn 9/11 into just another day.  I refuse to forget.

The first time I visited the new 9/11 Memorial Glade fountains, things were different.  The museum had not yet opened and the area was still relatively closed to the public.  Visitors had to go through TSA-like security, and One World Trade Center had not yet risen into the New York City skyline.  The park was still relatively quiet and those who had stood hours waiting to get in still maintained a semblance of respect and grief.  I remember looking down at all the names and feeling a knot in my stomach.  I suddenly realized that I was in the presence of a loss on a grand scale.  As I slowly walked the parameter of each fountain I instinctively ran my hands across each name.  Three rows of names etched on each of the eight fountain walls. Glancing down rapidly and stopping only at short intervals; it took me close to an hour to complete the eight walls. In the space of a lunch break, I managed to give each and every name relevancy and significance in my life. For a fleeting moment I made my acquaintance with each victim.  I do not remember any of the names, but I do remember every touch.

We fail to understand that the 3,000 murdered came from all over the world.  The Twin Towers were home to international investment companies and global corporations.  The victims had diverse religions, ethnic backgrounds, languages, and partisanship.  But terrorists don’t care about diversity, tolerance, or political correctness.  I doubt that they did roll call of who worked in the Twin Towers.  Their sole objective was to kill.  Those who now diminish the War on Terror need to take a short trip to the fountains and run their hands over all the names as I did.  They should visit the museum next door and see the quasi melted frame of a fire truck; it had gotten too close to the burning steel in an attempt to save lives and put out flames. They should walk around Lower Manhattan and visit a few fire departments where names of fire fighters are displayed on plaques. Over 300 of them gave their lives trying to save those trapped in the Towers soon after the attacks.  There should be nothing dismissive about 9/11.

Yes, 18 years have gone by but the deaths continue.  Recently, New York City has unveiled a new memorial  at the National September 11 Memorial.  Large boulders have been dedicated to the first responders, recovery workers, and survivors that assisted at the aftermath of the attacks.  Months of exposure to debris, dust, and smoke has caused cancer and other related diseases at an alarming rate to many 9/11 first responders and recovery workers.  These silent heroes are finally being recognized as relevant victims of the attacks.  Some have already died from the rapid onset of illnesses.  Another poignant reason why the story must continue to be told.

At approximately 1430 on September 11, 2001, I had just arrived at one of our bank’s customers to drop off documents.  I noticed the receptionist, a young man, staring at the silent television set in the lobby.  As I followed his eyes, I realized that he was looking at one of the Twin Towers with a large gaping smoking  hole in its side. I thought it was a cheap afternoon flick.  I joked with him about watching movies in the afternoon.  He did not smile. He just kept on staring at the silent television set.   I turned my head to the screen in time to see a plane hit the South Tower. In an ashen face, the young man uttered: “I don’t think it’s a movie Mrs. Brown.” “Neither do I”, said I. And all our lives changed forever.

Amash, diversity, education, and Liberal logic; oh my!

Amash in Grand Rapids

The arrogance of some liberal Americans knows no bounds.  What do they say?  Always read the fine print.  This morning while sitting idly reading the Stars and Stripes and sipping on a hot “cup’o’Joe”, I had to learn from Sara Burnett of the Associated Press/National Newswatch that unless we are diverse we are probably not educated.  Well not in those very words but you get the gist.  In my opinion, an unrelated story Ms. Burnett managed to insert her own far left spin on why Kent County, once a strong Republican stronghold might turn Democrat.  Her conclusion: Grand Rapids and its suburbs have new universities and a medical sector, which makes them more diverse, and obviously more educated than the rest of hick America.  Which would explain why they would turn Democrat. What a load of crock!

Ode to diversity and intellectualism.  How we love to weave in and out of diverse racial harmony to arrive at the equitable conclusion of intellectual bliss. Ah yes, the liberal elitist self proclaimed educated and diverse intellectuals wearing colorful varsity sweaters while bussing tables at Starbucks. The ones demanding I pay their university fees.  If education and diversity is the key to intelligence and education, what happened to that idiot from Queens New York? You know, the one who chased Amazon from her district and 25,000 diverse jobs with it?  Most six figure jobs would have gone to African Americans and Hispanics. 

Since Ms. Burnett decided to open that dubious link between diversity and education; I wonder how she would explain the increase in homelessness and disarray in cities like Los Angeles, Baltimore, Detroit, and Chicago? Chicago is a war zone every weekend.  Aren’t these cities diverse or educated enough?  They are all Democrat after all.

This repulsive bigotry against blue collar America started in earnest during the 2016 election by no other than Ms. Hillary Clinton. Remember “deplorable”? The bleeding liberal heart seems to stop beating when it comes to traditional Americans who work and asking for no handouts.  I hate to break the bad news to the diverse educated pinheads, but we need more plumbers, mechanics, house builders, roofers, farmers, and manual laborers to get this country back on its feet.  What we do not need more of is 30 something “educated” unproductive entitled adults living in their parents’ basements.  Maybe, just maybe, if we encouraged more youth to go into good paying profitable trades,  we would have more employed diverse educated individuals than diverse educated graduates looking for work.

I am infuriated at the condescending of traditional Americans by those who profess to love America but obviously hate most Americans.  The intellectuals who spout out crap and live in a dazed world of their own.  They think they have a monopoly on “diversity” and wear that mantra like a badge of honor; a comforting assurance toward political sainthood, while passing bigoted judgment on the rest of us.  They are the champions of righteousness by virtue of partisanship. 

The correlation between diversity and education has never really been explained to me.  By virtue of that logic,  if one happens to live in a one specific ethnic neighborhood regardless of race, Ms. Burnett would take issue and she would conclude that the neighborhood was not diverse or educated.  But that logic is often dismissed because it does not play well in the world of the loony left; and we have become too lazy a society to even challenge it.  We allow CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and even FOX news to tell us the “truth”. And we all know how that works out, don’t we?

I get pissed with disingenuous reporting.  Ms. Burnett’s article should have concentrated on Rep. Justin Amash who left the Republican party and has not made up his mind who he will align with.  He does not like President Trump and wants to impeach him.  The story was reasonably on point until she threw in her spin on Kent County and Grand Rapids.  She had to insert bias bloviating before continuing with the report.  It is true that the district might turn Democrat but not because it is more educated or diverse, it is because Amash has still not made up his mind where he would like to drop his hat; which leaves the door wide open to the Democrats who are running in that district. It also depends on fund raising. Even Brian Stryker, Democratic pollster admitted that the area is up for grabs. But the Sara Burnetts of the mainstream media had to make it racial and personal. And mainstream media wonders why the majority of Americans think they are disingenuous twits.

The continual ignorant and arrogant perception that colleges and universities turn a high school kid into an overnight success has been debunked a long time ago. Mostly because the past ten years saw more unemployed “educated” geniuses moving back in ma and pa’s basements and attics than employed graduates. Elitist idiots still ignore the fact that the most lucrative and successful debt free individuals in the country are currently the manual laborers.  The kids who are going back to trade schools and “making something” of themselves.  Who are getting jobs that pay good money, pay bills, and buy their own property. Plumbers are a commodity and are laughing all the way to the bank.  Have you taken your car to a mechanic lately? Every oil stain and spark plug is a dollar in his account.  Chink chink. Try and get a roofer to do your roof, you might as well sell your first born.  Get the gist.  Getting certification from a vocation school to do hair and nails makes more financial sense than a PHD in Russian mythology.  Can’t make this up.  Been across the desk from these prodigies. Seen useless”degrees” on resumes and applicants attempting to get a job as a bank teller.  Most could not count a strap of twenties, but hey they could have bought a house with the money they owe on a useless degree hanging on their intellectual shingle. A new generation of educated morons.

Why did a small paragraph in a two bit Associate Press article by a “reporter” I had not heard of until this morning, piss me off so much? Because I so genuinely sick and tired of political innuendo and intolerance of traditional Americans.  America is about the dream that can happen.  It is not about money or intellect, but about the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is the ability to support your family without a handout from the government.

Success has never been measured by an overpriced “education” but by creativity, ingenuity, and the strength to work hard and “make it happen”.  Bill Gates never went to college. Success is measured by personal satisfaction and responsibility to self, family, and country.  Young adults should be taught how to be self sufficient and grateful for their opportunities and not strangle them by false hopes that put them on the unemployment line.  There is a difference between education, common sense, and intelligence. One can be lucky to have all three.  But we are currently raising a generation of indebted “educated” young adults sans common sense and questionable intelligence.

This is America.  It was born out of diversity.  Diversity has no boundaries, colors, accents, or races.  Diversity is all of us.  Be diverse, be educated, but most of all be proud to be an American regardless of whether you are an investment banker, roofer, Democrat, or Republican.  If they can take care of themselves, their families, and their communities, then they are past being “educated” because they are intelligent.  So, Ms. Burnett: being a Democrat and diverse does not qualify you as “educated”.  I suggest you take time to better “educate” yourself in diversity before inserting inane opinions in your article.  And by the way: Amash is also thinking of running as a Libertarian.  By the time he makes his mind up the election will be over and at the rate he is going, he might announce that he is Amish.

Who is responsible? The truth behind mass shootings

El Paso, Texas

I am sure that I will be pissing off many people, but I am sick of the political rhetoric and finger pointing after every mass shooting.  I am sick of race baiters and haters who turn a tragedy into an excuse to score political points.  And I am sick of listening to all mainstream media and cable news trying to justify their spin on partisan loyalty. Hardly has a shooter been caught or killed when the media, without any substantiated information start their own airwave bloviating in aid of partisanship. It is sickening. 

Discrepancy in reporting to fit political narratives turns on the volume on a division that has become dangerous to all Americans. The two mass murders were perpetrated by two nut cases.  Nobody can dispute that.  Although more emphasis has been put on who is to blame than the assholes who actually did the killing. Both creeps blamed society for their warped brain.  But according to law enforcement, not both seemed to have been racially motivated. However, both managed to cause havoc within 24 hours of each other.  Coincidence? I doubt we will ever know. But there is one thing that cannot be explained, and that is the relative silence on Dayton’s perp.  Why? 

Amid the political finger pointing and race baiting crap is a shred of truthful analysis by no other than The Washington Post.  It is refreshing. An August 4th in depth article by Marc Fisher strips every layer of unfounded media spin.  Fisher, with the help of researchers on terrorism, explained the phenomenon of these and other mass shootings.  The “lone-wolf” shooters, as they are referred to.  Inspired by everyone and no one, by everything and nothing.  While mass media hysteria points fingers at video games, the president, guns, and a surge in racism, the truth is that nutcases take it upon themselves to see the world through their own crazy notions of utopia.

Contrary to the pseudo analysts and commentators on major news networks and cable, they generally do not belong to any organized group.  They might share the views of a specific group but act alone. They assimilate with an ideology but act on their own volition.  Most are being “recruited” ideologically through the internet.  The hateful indoctrination is on both sides of the fence.  Visceral left wing and right wing hatred gives lone-wolves a platform that they otherwise would not have.  It is home grown terrorism on the same level and platform as the recruitment by ISIS and Hamas.  Very convincing and alluring.  Add mental illness, dysfunctional families, poverty, and depression, and the recipe for home grown terrorism is born.

2017 Supremacists march in Charlottesville

The “replacement” syndrome among white supremacists and far left anti-Semites is not new and has very little to do with Trump’s inane tweets. In 2012, a book entitled “The Great Replacement” by French writer Renaud Camus, argues that the influx of immigrants in Europe are replacing the now “minority” whites.  He found it threatening to Europe’s sovereignty. His mantra was taken on in 2017 by the white supremacists who marched through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us”.  It is possible and probably true that Trump’s strong stance on immigration and campaign remarks gave these yahoos a misled courage that they otherwise might not have had to raise the ante on anti-Semitism. Trump made an egregious mistake when he did not denounce them fiercely and resolutely. But then Obama did not really denounce the thugs who rioted in the streets and burnt cities under his watch.  But I digress.  Two wrongs do not make a right. For good measure, Camus has publicly denied having anything to do with the El Paso shooting.

But what about Dayton? The media is relatively quiet on Dayton because as far as we know, the murderer did not seem to have a specific motive, and the police (as of this writing) are ruling out racism.  No racism, no news, no pundits, no interest.  The perp had a history of “weird” which like all mass murderers, is not unusual.  Eventually, the police will discover some sordid crazy background that was either overlooked or not reported. Not one is sane one day and crazy the next because two years ago Donald Trump called illegal immigrants rapists. And this is where the disingenuous racism uproar is exposed for what it is; political.

Mass shooting aftermath in Dayton

So far Dayton seems less significant because the racism card cannot be played to its full potential.  However, local politicians, all Democrat, had to bring it up as a point of contention for wanting the President to visit their city; if there is no fire let’s create one. Police found no white supremacist manifesto, no right wing rant, and immigrants were not targeted.  He was a nutcase who managed to acquire a gun and kill his own sister.  According to Marc Fisher, the killer was driven by “personal grievances rather than political ideology”.  Fisher puts everything in perspective; the shooter joins a long list of mass murderers who are being taught online (through video games, and movies) how to “escalate personal beefs into community-shattering events”.  Heard that Hollywood? Still too early to tell.

The same weekend that 29 people died of gunshot wounds, Chicago had 40 shootings.  Three dead.  Chicago has been a den of human misery for years.  Bush did nothing, and Obama did even less. Those shot were neither Hispanics nor immigrants; they were African American in poor neighborhoods. Not a peep, not a wink, not a breathe, not even a sigh for Chicago by CNN, MSNBC, or Fox.  Wonder why?  Where is the race analysis? Where is the gun debate?  Where is the finger pointing? Chicago’s poor black neighborhoods are war zones without relief.  Law enforcement is often reluctant to enter these danger zones.  Fisher calls it “tragically quotidian”. A city that has been run to the ground by policies and politics rife in corruption and promises.  No matter who gets elected as mayor, they are of the same party and dole out the same crap that keeps these poor folk in conditions akin to the Middle East and often more dangerous.  How do the gangs and thugs manage to get guns when Illinois has the strictest gun laws? These aren’t white privileged.  They are blacks killing blacks.  Yet the same politicians who “cry me a river” at the border manage to sleep very well at night about Chicago.  Hypocrisy wrapped in partisan and disingenuous media quagmire.

So who is responsible for the mass murders?  Everyone.  President Trump must be held partly accountable because his inane tweets and bullish rhetoric can be legitimately or illegitimately  misconstrued; he knows it and yet still goes at it.  There are crazies out there Mr. President, and they do not need a nudge and a push to become crazier.  Mr. President, it is your responsibility to make sure that the country is not thrown into a racial divide. You can fix the border with dignity and without unnecessary disparaging tweets or comments about those literally dying to get into the US. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they want a better life rather than destruction of our way of life.  True leadership comes with compassion.  As a New Yorker, it’s about time you took a hard look at the beautiful lady in New York harbor. Then take a long stroll through Ellis Island and use it to inspire you to come up with a humane and viable solution at the  border.  You always boast of how great you are, well, put your money where your mouth is. While you’re at it, start talking seriously about race relations.  It’s no use having a good economy if American families are not safe to shop for school supplies at Wal-Mart.

Responsibility also lies with the main stream media who fuel unnecessary race baiting and hatred.  You are irresponsible and must also be held accountable for unsubstantiated race innuendo to satisfy your egos and ratings.  You are supposed to be impartial.  I can’t stand watching any of you, because the majority of you have turned into disingenuous partisan assholes.  You do not report, you pontificate.  You do not tell the truth, you spin.  You are not fair or balanced because most of your programming and guests are of the same political persuasion. You cannot be impartial when you donate to political parties.  You cannot be trusted when most of what you “report” is founded in hearsay.  You wallow in disasters because they give you an ego centric platform.  You have made a mockery of the First Amendment. You have contributed to the division of a nation that has survived internal and external wars but always stood firm under one flag and one God.  You managed to disgrace both. 

Politicians on both side of the house are equally responsible for the racial divide.  The “white privilege” mantra is an obscenity perpetrated by white politicians to buy votes. It is patronizing.  While one party wallows in anti-Semitism, race baiting, and bigotry; the other is afraid to speak out against their party’s leadership. Both parties hold the American public hostage to political zeal for no other reason but to further their own partisan agenda.   Sick of both.

I will not lose hope in America. Every generation has gone through a period of immigration anxiety and bigotry. From the mid-19th century anti-Irish Catholic riots by Protestants in Philadelphia, to the massacres of Chinese immigrants in 1871.  It is born out of fear.  A fear often fueled by politicians who reject violence but still adopt the “anti-other” rhetoric.  Sounds familiar? Four new congresswomen and our President come to mind.

Fisher, M. August 4, 2019. A Weekend of Mass Murder Reflects How American Violence goes Viral. The Washington Post. (Retrieved from:

50 years later and still relevant – the moon landing

International News

The 1969 moon landing was a moment in time we all remember. From sea to shining sea people watched in awe and prayed for three men who took a giant step for humanity.  The landing was not an American success; it was a world success.  Schools, churches, businesses, and ordinary life, paused for a brief moment to witness the unthinkable and the excitable. Black and white television sets in shop windows, diners, restaurants, and class rooms gave us mere mortals a glimpse of “out there”.  As Captain Kirk so aptly put it, “where no man has gone before”.

Camera: DCS420A Serial #: 420-2040 Width: 1524 Height: 1012 Date: 11/24/97 Time: 11:39:45 DCS4XX Image FW Ver: 081596 TIFF Image Look: Product ———————- Counter: [88] ISO: 100 Aperture: F2.8 Shutter: 60 Lens (mm): 28 Exposure: M Program: Po Exp Comp: 0.0 Meter area: Mtrx Flash sync: Norm Drive mode: S Focus mode: S Focus area: Wide Distance: 3.4m

The space race started in the late fifties with the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, and later the first earth orbit by a young 27 year-old Soviet, Yuri Gagarin.  A test pilot and industrial technician, Gagarin made an 89 minute historic orbit around the earth.  It was 2 April, 1961. Space exploration had begun in earnest. Eventually it turned into an unspoken race between the Soviet Union and America. The “space race” was more than an attempt to conquer the elusive void.  It was validating which super power was superior.  Although the Soviet Union had the early advantage, America had the tenacity, technology, and Americans behind it.  

Speech to Congress, May 1961

President elect JFK understood the significance of successful space travel and the impact it would have on global politics, especially on the Cold War.  On May 25, 1961, in an address to Congress, JFK put forth the now iconic objective that “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth”. He asked for funding, and the rest is history.  Within a year, names like John Glen, Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra, and Virgil Grissom joined a long list of potential astronauts. They embarked on an intensive program of space training that would eventually put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

The race for space supremacy went beyond romantic idealism.  It was also psychological. It was assumed that whoever “dominated” space would ultimately “dominate” the world. The notion that a super power could determine our fate was daunting.  It was “quasi” science fiction. As the Iron Curtain descended on Europe, the hope that America would win the space race became more prevalent. That feeling gathered momentum when our hazy black and white television screens showed the Berlin Wall going up. JFK’s visit to Berlin became a testimonial to America’s commitment to fight Communism and the freedom of the Eastern Bloc.  The Soviet Union had lost the public relations battle.

Kennedy Space Center Florida

In mid-1980’s, space travel became “up close and personal” for our military family. Albeit military life could be stressful and nomadic, it also gave us unique opportunities that we otherwise would not have had.  In 1984, we were assigned to Patrick Air Force Base in Central Florida.  We lived barely 20 miles from Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, and the Kennedy Space Center.  The Cape and Space Center were visible from the beach at the end of our road. I can vividly remember the first time the kids and I stood on the beach anticipating a launch of a Space Shuttle from across the horizon.  The distance was inconsequential as we heard the rumbling and saw the simultaneous flash that indicated the shuttle launch.  As the rocket carrying the shuttle rose upward toward the hot Florida sky, it changed its trajectory and arched toward a new path right on top of us.  There were no words to describe the wonder of that moment.  We were to relive that launch many times in the following months. The Air Force provided special transport and passes to watch shuttle launches directly from the Cape.  We were close enough to feel the launch vibration without being in danger.  Regardless of how many times we watched the launces, each launch brought a feeling of excitement and anticipation.  They were moments of incredulity. 

Kennedy Space Center

The incredulity increased when we had the opportunity to visit the Kennedy Space Center and see early Space Program rockets and capsules.  We developed a new respect for those who volunteered to train and go into space.  There is a fine line between courage and insanity. I believe that those astronauts were on the edge of both. Apollo capsules were no bigger than a closet. Strapped in cramped places and subject to drastic temperatures in entering and re-entering atmospheres, the danger of launching into space was obvious. Drastic atmospheric conditions caused outer layers to burn and heat resistant tiles to fall off.  Crude and rudimentary technology left astronauts vulnerable to dangers beyond our comprehension.  The chances of being burnt or frozen alive were an equal probability. They relied on control centers in Florida and Houston for support because they had neither equipment nor the space to fix much of anything in an emergency.  Years later, Neil Armstrong admitted that making it back home alive from the moon landing was a primary concern. You think?

Apollo 1 after a fire in the cabin during a routine ground test.

The Space Program was not without tragedy.  On January 27, 1967, three astronauts, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chafee were killed in a routine ground test.  Fire broke inside the capsule and they suffocated.  On January 28, 1986, and only six months after we had left Florida and Patrick AFB, the Challenger carrying the first teacher Christa McAuliffe burst into flames a few seconds after launch.  Challenger was one of the shuttles we had often watched being launched at the Cape. On February 1, 2003, the Columbia broke apart upon re-entry killing all astronauts on board to include Israeli Ilan Ramon.

1969 Woodstock

1969 was on the edge between our parents’ Baby Boomer generation and us.  We were between the old and the new.  The traditional and the “modern”. Our parents could not understand our fascination for loud and often disconnected music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and the myriad of other long-haired pot smoking entertainers.  Woodstock crushed all barriers of what was traditional.  While women’s skirts grew shorter, men’s hair grew longer. An upside down world was unfolding.

Apollo II Launch

But on that hot 20th July in 1969, the crazy 60’s world found solace in the hazy black and white images of a small space craft landing on the moon.  As Neil Armstrong stepped out, we held our breath and wiped off tears of joy and thanksgiving.  America was united in pride.  There was no partisanship.  Vietnam, feminism, and other political agendas were temporarily set aside, and for a few days Americans were united in watching three of their brave countrymen  land on the moon and return safely back to earth.  I can only recall one other significant moment of unity in American modern history: after 9/11.

50 years ago nobody questioned the authenticity of the moon landing.  We believed in the success of American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and optimism. There was a genuine love of country that JFK reiterated in his inaugural address; “…ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country”. These singularly and distinctive American traditional qualities have unfortunately been eroded by social entitlement and coddling.  The sense of adventure has dissipated in narcissist expectations that fail to permit failure as a learning experience. JFK’s message has fallen short on this generation’s ego centric expectations.  

As naïve as it might sound, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, did what they did for “love of country”.  I am hoping, futile as it might seem; that on this 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, educators take time to tell the story.  The story how the impossible became possible.  How the improbable became fact.  How the Moon landing was not about America, but about mankind. Before leaving the moon surface for the return journey home, the astronauts left an American flag on the surface. They also left a patch commemorating those who perished in Apollo 1 just two years prior. But most importantly, they left a plaque with a message:  “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 AD.  We came in peace  for all mankind.”

To all the men and women who dedicated their lives to making the Space Program a reality and bringing astronauts home safely: Thank You.

Apollo Mission Control Kennedy Space Center

The bashing of America to suit idiots

Courtesy: VOX

So Nike succumbed to revised historical blackmail by no other than the “has been” pinhead Colin Kaepernick.  Nike launched a new commemorative shoe this week. The debut was short-lived.  Enters the former quarter back whose career had been in decline since 2015, and booted out in 2016.  Listed as the worst quarterback in the NFL, Colin had an issue with the shoe.  Nike, in an equally unprecedented stupid move, decided to make this pseudo activist ignoramus its spokesperson.  Nike actually developed a line of sports ware with this idiot’s face on it.  So I ask; why would anyone associate themselves athletically with a loser?  But I digress. The inanity started when Nike launched a special Independence Day patriotic shoe depicting the original 13-star flag on the back.  The “Betsy Ross” flag as it is so often referred to.  At this point I must beg forgiveness from the seamstress herself. Sorry Betsy, but according to the now all too familiar visceral rhetoric of the far left loons; which includes the ex-NFL moron, you were obviously a white supremacist. Who’d have thought? 

The hypocrisy and stupidity of Colin’s genre is the intentional modification of history to suit one’s agenda.  Everything is generalized for maximum impact with limited capacity for thought or intelligence.  But the hypocrisy lies square on Nike’s back. For years, Nike produced its shoes in Vietnam, the Philippines, and China. In the late 90’s they, like other brands and high-end designers, were exposed and caught in a scandal that revealed unhindered business practices in third world countries. They were caught hiring cheap and often slave labor to produce their brands which they in turn sold to idiots in the west, and at exorbitant prices. This small fact seems to escape the disingenuous victimized complex of Colin and his ilk. It also seems to have skipped Nike’s mind. So pardon me for not taking Nike seriously as they ride patriotically into our 4th of July sunset claiming solidarity with those who find offense with Betsy Ross or the birth of our first flag. 

Betsy Ross

To continue debunking Nike and its inane and nebulous intent of activism, it made a public statement that it did not want to “…offend and distract from the nation’s patriotic holiday”.  So it is okay to celebrate Independence Day, which is commemorating the nation’s birth, which prompted the first 13-star flag, but it is not okay to display the flag because it is offensive? If you are scratching your head, you are not the only one.  The story about Betsy Ross and her patriotic sewing prowess has never really been verified historically, but it is accepted as lore which adds to the charm of the birth of our nation.  We all find comfort in envisioning a simple woman sitting in her rocking chair sewing our first flag.  But Colin, the one-man crusader for justice who earned millions while accomplishing very little; has a problem with Betsy and her flag. It offends him. This is the man who screwed up the only thing he was paid to do right: play ball. Go figure. The man who led a good life on the backs of those he insults. The man who complains about the country that has blessed him with the ability to make money as an incompetent idiot. We should be so lucky.

What country is bereft from dark history?  What peoples are not guilty of past atrocities?  How many countries have risen out of the ashes of civil wars and slavery to become a beacon of hope for millions?  I do not see anyone trying to leave America.  I see millions literally dying to get in.  If America is so bad, why the thousands at the Southern Border? Colin and his compatriots are the shallow elite disguised as historic victims.  They are not activists, they are opportunists. They care very little for truth.  They are narcissists. They claim to be the tolerant but in reality the most intolerant.  The diverse who want nothing to do with anyone who thinks differently.  The saviors of humanity as long as humanity plays to their tune.  In short; charlatans.

So Nike and Colin are suddenly the sensitive police. The moral compass of our nation. What a load of crap.  Enough is enough.   America and Americans, at least those of us who have to work for a living, have had it up to their nostrils in this garbage.  Liberals call the right protectionists.  Are you kidding me?  I hate to break it to you MSNBC, but activism is protectionism.  Activists want to protect an ideology.  They will go to all lengths to tell the rest of us that we are not worthy to breath the same air as them. The far left has one thing in common with the far right; they are both extreme idealists who have very little tolerance for the rest of us.  They operate on visceral hate.

We are witnessing activists who claim to fight for “injustice” and “rights” of Americans but hate America.  The current clique of pseudo social justice warriors are conveniently choosy.  Their narrative is very selective.  Unless one aspires to their dogma, their ideals, and their fights, then one is not worth fighting for.  A point in fact is the current anti-Semitic rhetoric by a few in Congress and on liberal campuses.  As Bernie Goldberg once said; liberals fight for minorities but not if you are Jewish. The selective few are worth saving, the rest can go to hell.

The demonization of America is home grown. It slowly crept in partisan politics and quickly flourished under President Obama.  His “apology” tour was meant to purposely bring down America’s might and “humble” it to make it look “good”. He even went after Christians for past atrocities while extreme Islamists were beheading people just because they could.


He travelled around the world apologizing for America and Americans.  The America and Americans who freed Europe and Japan from tyranny.  The America and Americans who brought the end to the Cold War.  The America and Americans who formed and joined the Peace Corp in aid of third world countries and their plight. The America and Americans who developed the Marshall Plan and rebuilt Europe from the ashes of war.  The America and Americans who donate billions to countries that often kill Americans.  The America and Americans who send their sons and daughters to die in countries we can’t pronounce just because it is the right thing to do.  The America and Americans that gave young people like Colin the opportunity to be well educated and earn millions wearing tights and throwing a ball.  The America and Americans who are there first when tragedy strikes anywhere in the world. The America and Americans who defend unconditionally those who ask for help.

The age of grievance and entitlement was born out of inane rhetoric by our leadership, and continued through the deliberate distortion of historical truth and bias to satisfy a political agenda fraught with nebulous social justice and talk of reparation.  A social justice boondoggle that brought us to present day stupid and Colin Kaepernick.

Nike will still sell shoes but its pandering to the left loons will take its toll.  The problem with companies like Nike, Starbucks, Gillette, and other brand names that identify with political correctness activism is that they inadvertently exclude a majority of their market. They fail to realize that their in-your-face attempt at “educating” us mere mortals on our obvious moral and social short comings is offensive and does not impress us. We find it condescending and annoying.  There is more to America than Oregon, California, New York, and Washington.  There is the America that buys shoes at Target, drinks a cup of Joe at the local diner, and buys the cheapest blade because it works just fine.  In short, heartland America and Americans have never needed brands to identify with.  They identify with the founding fathers and the idealism that made America a country where the impossible is possible, and success depends on individuality not the government.

In the land of the free and the brave we have the blessing of freedom of speech and choice.  Nike and Colin choose to belittle and demonize our past.  I and the majority of sane Americans choose and have the freedom to ignore both.  We choose to celebrate our country’s independence cherishing our blessings as Americans, in a country called America.  Independence Day is more than a shoe and a self-proclaimed activist fool; it is also about those who fought and still fight for our country.  Some died so that the Colin Kaepernicks have the freedom to be ungrateful idiots and others like me to be able to say so.  Happy 4th of July!

Somebody had to do it!

Image result for jon stewart in congress
Jon Stewart testifying before congress

Somebody had to do it, and Jon Stewart sure did.  He ripped Congress ass when most of them failed to show up to discuss and approve funding for 9/11 first responders.  Surrounded by emergency workers and fire fighters, his passionate plea for decency threw us back to the horrors of 9/11.  Jon peeled off layers of Congressional hypocrisy.  Between anger and anguish he took them to task and dragged their sorry asses through the proverbial political mud. 

Jon brought to our attention political callousness and a sick  realization that unless an agenda is politically charged, it holds very little interest to those elected pinheads.  The meeting was attended by only 14 sub-committee members of the House Judiciary Committee, mostly Democrats.  The Never Forget the Heroes Act of 2019 re-authorizes the Victim Compensation Fund that helps 9/11 First Responders and their families beat medical costs due to illnesses caused by the debris, and other chemicals they were exposed to during and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  GOP representative Peter King, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand,  Democratic representatives Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, all support the VCF.  All five are New Yorkers.  But as Jon so eloquently put it; Al Qaida  did not shout “death to Tribica” but “death  to America”.  He was referring to some members of congress kicking the can down the “this is a New York issue” road of excuses. 

When the first plane hit the first Twin Tower,  it only took five seconds for the wave of First Responders to respond.  412 emergency workers would eventually lose their lives helping others.  343 of them were fire fighters.  For those of us who were in NYC months after the attacks, we can recall making our gut wrenching way downtown toward Ground Zero; reading long list of names on every Fire Station wall in lower Manhattan.  There was not one Fire Station that had not lost someone or many. The nation came together in sorrow and resolve.  As Jon pointed out; if it weren’t for the endless work and sacrifice of those first responders, the nation would not have gone on its feet as quickly as it did.  It was not a New York thing then and it sure isn’t now.

The insidious political game that both parties play has been exposed by a “funny” guy who for 30 minutes shed his entertainment persona and became a New Yorker, and a patriotic American.  He did not need some goofy red hat or activist hash tag rhetoric.  He was a pissed off American looking out for those who gave their all and left to rot in the great bipartisan political void.   Like the Vietnam vets before them, these First Responders had their illnesses trivialized, patronized, and eventually left at the mercy of overpaid “civil” servants, to mull over and by the goodness of their heart, approve.  A short reprieve until the next time these silent heroes have to beg.  Disgusting comes to mind.

The silent voices of 9/11 First Responders do not make headlines.  They are not abortion, women’s rights, immigration, “the wall”, impeachment, transgender, gay rights, or any other news worthy cause that gets congressional dickheads out in front of the microphone.  They do not hold rallies or cause traffic jams in annoying protests.  They dedicated their lives to saving others and have not asked much in return, but to be assisted in their time of need. One would think it reasonable. But good people very seldom  score political points. 

Emergency workers from NYC and New Jersey do not have a voice loud enough to even make a mention in the evening news. Actually I doubt that we would be discussing this hearing or I would be writing about it had it not been for Jon Stewart. Jon was bi-partisan.  Sans any correctness filter Jon became a raw angry American. He was the brash millennian John  Wayne fighting for those who are getting too weak to fight.  Both sides of the aisle should take a good look at themselves and realize who they really are and who they represent.  Basic decency should be bi-partisan.  Hell, common decency should be universal. 

To those Republicans who wrap themselves in the America Great mantra: where the hell where you?  You pride yourselves on moral Christian Judeo values; are the lives of these First Responders not valuable enough for you? Not American enough?  To the Democrats who are always preaching their social tolerance and justice: where the hell where you?  Not news worthy enough like all the “rights” you seem to define on a daily basis; some genuine and some the flavor of the month?  You both send “sub” committee members? These First Responders are not worth your while to get your sorry asses out of bed and listen to?  You don’t have time? As Jon pointed out: neither do those standing with him.  Their time is running out as they combat cancer and other traumatic diseases. Hash tag that!

Yes, somebody had to do it, and I am so glad that Jon Stewart did.  His spontaneous anger came from the heart.  The heart of an American who watched with  pain as his city and country were attacked. We all stood together as the Twin Towers fell.  On 9/11 we cried and bled as a nation.  Jon is a true red, white, and blue American who at a crucial moment in time forgot his public persona and stood for what should be good in America.  All the flag waiving, hands on heart, and patriotic posturing in the world has not done what Jon did in 30 minutes.  He demonstrated his unconditional love of New York, but most of all, his deep love of America.  You want to make America Great Again, how about we start by taking care of those who risk their lives taking care of America?  Thank you Jon Stewart, I wish there were more of you and less of the partisan pinheads paid to serve and who decided not to. 

God bless America, and God bless all our First Responders, and those who put their lives on the line every time they leave their front doors. 

Remembering my childhood in post war Malta

The George Cross awarded to Malta for valor: 1942

Sunday morning is “my” time. A quiet cup of coffee, a good book, creating some amazing dishes, and always listening to Campus FM, a University of Malta radio station.  Campus FM is my umbilical cord to my Maltese roots and language.  My mother’s passing left me with no one to speak Maltese with on regular basis. Sadly enough I have lost the ability to write it, read it, and quite often understanding it.  Campus FM enlightens my life with Maltese history, art, daily news, and local folklore.  As I sit with my coffee on this beautiful sunny Sunday morning, I listen to Patricia Salomone’s  journal-like story of her childhood “My Pizza and Toffee Apples in the 1950’s”.  A vivid recounting of her life in post WWII British Malta. 

RAF Valiant Bomber

She could have written about my life. Except for the nanny and living in another part of the island, Maltese 50’s children  all grew up the same way.  We were the post war generation.  Patricia’s family was similar to every other Maltese family in the 1950’s.  After the war, Malta was part of the Marshall Plan and rationing was still in effect.  I remember the local grocer measuring  our “rationed” portions of flour, rice, and sugar from large calico bags embossed with an American flag and large  black letters “Donated by the people of the United States of America”. The rationing went into the late 50’s and eventually and slowly disappeared in the early 60’s.  Like the rest of us, Patricia remembers a childhood without television and a country trying to recuperate from Luftwaffe bombings and destruction. 

Unidentified village in Malta after a bombing

The island suffered over 14,000 bombs, 1,500 casualties (of a population of less than 300,000), and 30,000 destroyed buildings.  There is only one other country that has been bombed more than Malta in the last century: Laos, during the Vietnam War. The George Cross, a medal and award normally awarded to individuals for valor was awarded to the entire island, for enduring months of day and night bombings meant to bring it to its knees. In April, 1942, King George VI made the singular personal decision to award the highest honor to Malta. Conditions were so dire that even Churchill was considering surrendering the island, just to feed its people.  Up to the day she died in 2016, my mother abhorred the sight of canned beef. A poignant reminder of a time when food was scarce and her weekly ration was a can of something. With no food and Italy just 60 miles away preparing to invade and occupy, the Maltese dug in, endured, and survived the barrage of attacks by the Axis.  This was the Malta that most of us were born into.  But rubble and destruction led the way to an era of hope.

Chalet at Ghar id-dud

Patricia Salamone took me on a journey into my own childhood.  The simple enjoyment of late summer walks on the promenade by the sea in Sliema.  The treat of going to Valletta on a multi-colored bus without doors and windows that let in fresh air, smells, and noise.  The wonderful aromas of traditional Maltese food sans McDonalds, Pizza Hut, or Subways.  I can still remember walking to the end of the promenade at Ghar id-Dud, where the Chalet stood in its classic white limestone elegance.  A dance and music hall suspended above the rocks and sea below.  The music reached out into the wonderful warm summer nights as couples danced to Italian melodies and rock’n’roll.  In the winter, it doubled as a skating rink for those few lucky ones who owned a pair of roller skates.  In bad winter weather, the sea would rise up in defiance and cover the dancing floor with foamy waves, knowing full well that there would still be dancing the next summer. 

Post war British Malta was an enigma. Just as Patricia recalled, children were only allowed to speak English at school . This was the British idea of easy assimilation.  Maltese children were expected to sit and pass the same school leaving exams (GCE) as the rest of the British Empire.  An annual summer ritual that caused raw nerves as students anxiously waited for their GCE exam results from Oxford, London, and Cambridge universities. Those results opened doors to a future. Through it all Maltese remained on the back burner of our education erroneously assuming that it was spoken at home.

Maltese cheese pastries Pastizzi

The Maltese still found ways to cling  to their Mediterranean roots, and generally through the kitchen.  Maltese dishes like lampuki*, cerna*, fenek*, qarnita*, and the ultimate hobz biz-zejt u tadam*, were imbedded in our childhood.  But the influx of British military and their families also provided neighborhood Fish’n’chip shops, English sausages, beans, and the inevitable red telephone kiosks and mail boxes; crested with the royal crest of whoever happened to be on the throne.  But the Italian influence would not disappear either.  Italian music and pizza were essential to our well being and realization that we were still Mediterranean.

Toffee apples  held a significance akin to the local pastizzi*  we bought from a vendor’s cart. Every summer, and mostly in Sliema, possibly because of its proximity to the sea, we were treated to a Luna Park, loose translation: “moon park“.  There was nothing extraterrestrial about it, but it was meant to conjure up adventure and fun that winter months could not provide.  An escapism so to speak. Everyone’s favorite ride was the bumper cars.  Without cell phones, iPads, X-Box, or the latest Avengers movie; 50’s teenagers in Malta quickly realized that bumper cars were the closest thing to a driver’s license.  Malta in the 50’s did not have many privately owned cars or telephones for that matter.  In some small villages there may have been one of each. But I digress. Of course, the Luna Park was a family affair.  Especially on Sundays, rides were chock-a-block full.  Kiosks with soft drinks in real glass bottles and paper straws were also busy selling candy floss and toffee apples. Smells I still cherish from my childhood.

Mosta Church today
Mosta Church inside
One of the bombs that went through the Mosta Dome

Malta in the early 50’s, was like the rest of Europe; attempting to rebuild and return to normalcy. Our parents would often show us the aftermath of the war.  We all knew where the Italians had dropped the first bombs, or which village sustained the most damage, or often who died where.  Later we learned how two large German bombs possibly targeting the neighboring British airfield at Ta’ Qali, were instead dropped through the dome of the Mosta Church. But they failed to explode.  250 people were at mass when the bombs came through the roof and rolled on the marble floor without exploding.  A miracle? 

We grew up British singing the God Save the King or Queen as the case might have been.  Some 50’s Maltese children were raised speaking English rather than Maltese.  With schools demanding that English be spoken in lieu of Maltese, I unfortunately have never learned to write my language well enough. Reading it is also a chore. If truth be told, most of us cherished the fact that Maltese was not mandatory because we found it more difficult to master than English.  However we learned other languages, most common were French and Italian. Italian was easy because we listened to Italian music on the radio, plus the close proximity of both countries made travel to Italy frequent.  In the mid-60’s Italian television was introduced in Malta. RAI* remained the sole provider of television programming for the next 30+ years. No one would have thought that just a few years prior we were at war with our dolce vita*  neighbors.  Live and let live and we still enjoy Italian music, movies, and food.

St. Julian’s circa 1950

Technology and 21st century problems have unfortunately reached the wonderful shores of Malta.  English and Maltese are the official languages, but Italian, German, French, Swedish, and even Chinese is now being taught and spoken.   Malta evolved with the times which I often regret.  I miss summer evening walks at  Ghar id-Dud.  I miss the early morning cry of the fisherman or milkman rather than the irritating horn of a BMW SUV in a hurry to go nowhere.  I miss when we could still take drives to the kampanja* and play in the open fields at Bin Gemma;  looking out at the island of Gozo in the distance.  Now we try to dodge 5-Star hotels in a futile attempt at a peek at the sea. I miss being able to eat locally made Maltese cheeses and sausages without an EU stamp of approval.  I mostly miss the simplicity and clarity that life in post war Malta gave those of us born out of the ashes of war.

My dad driving his Triumph motorcycle shortly after the war.

As I sit in the silence of a warm Sunday morning with my cup of coffee, I listen with nostalgia and warmth to what could have been my childhood.  Yes, Patricia’s life mirrored my own.  I gently sip the warm coffee and as I turn my eyes to my parents’ 1938 wedding picture, I realize that they had gone through the terror of war, but we had gone through the aftermath. At that moment I also realized that I missed them both terribly, and that my story was also theirs.  Thank you Patricia Salamone and Campus FM; because for a few minutes on a Sunday morning, you brought back fond memories of my parents and my childhood.


Cerna: Mediterranean fish Grouper

Lampuki: Mediterranean fish Dorado

Fenek: Rabbit

Qarnita: Octopus

Hobs biz-zejt u tadam: bread with oil and tomatoes aka “bruschetta”

RAI: Radio Televisione Italiana

Dolce Vita: the sweet life

Kampanja: country side

The good, bad, & ugly of Eurovision 2019

Courtesy of BBC News (May 19, 2019)

Well, I have made it through another Eurovision Song Contest without managing to throw up.  Armed with a bottle of good red wine, I braced myself for the next three plus hours of musical pain. Eurovision is the annual European “competition” (and I use that term loosely), that supposedly launches the best singer in Europe.  If we are to be geographically accurate neither Australia nor Israel are in Europe,  but they both participate. We can lend a blind eye to the latter being across the Mediterranean and closer to Europe, but Australia is a quaint anomaly. This intentional “blind eye” what makes Eurovision more insidiously curious to follow.  Like a car wreck; one is unexplainably unable to fight the compulsion to watch.

Michaela Pace (Wikipedia)

Eurovision is a combination of European kumbaya and back slapping that can be simultaneously borderline nauseating and hilarious. The country that hosts the event is the winner of the previous year.  Hence this year, Eurovision was in Tel-Aviv, Israel.  Amid political rhetoric and talk of boycotts by the far left loons like the BDS, the event sort of went off without a hitch. 

My initial intentions were honorable. I endured the four quasi torturous hours because a young Maltese girl by the name of Michaela Pace qualified for the finals.  Michaela has a beautiful clear voice which should not have bothered to participate in this competition.  Eurovision singing expectations rate on the same level as your tone deaf uncle singing Elvis in the shower.  Equally painful and ugly. Very few Eurovision winners ever gather any momentum or global success.  Abba was a unique phenomenon that has never been duplicated or repeated.  My patriotic sense allowed me to sit and listen through 25 more compositions. The wine numbed the pain.  

The Eurovision commission put out a strict warning against politicizing the event .  Whatever good it does, but Eurovision is all about image rather than substance.  They did not disappoint us.  Eurovision is all about perception.  We are one happy family. The EU Waltons. The four presenters remained true to their role with fake smiles and camp jokes that played well with the uber enthusiastic audience.  Flags waived.  Love was in the air.  Contestants performed and true to Eurovision fashion, at the end of each song cried out to the audience on how much they loved them and how much they loved Israel.  Whatever.  This was the good.   The bad was yet to come.

Courtesy of BBC News (May 19, 2019)

Madonna, the middle-aged icon was scheduled to perform mid-way through the event. To be fair, despite harsh criticism from far left anti-Israel BDS Hollywood pin heads, Madonna has often entertained in Israel.  She made the decision to perform at Eurovision amid similar visceral critiques which she waved aside as political inanity that has no place in music.  On the final night at Eurovision, between the contagious excitement of voting and winning, Madonna gave a pep talk to the contestants telling them they were all winners, and that music brings everyone together.  And that’s where Madonna’s cultist mystique ended for the night.

Like the rest and best of us, Madonna is getting on in years which is more than okay, because it irks the shit out of me that women in show business are expected to look 20 for the rest of their lives.  I actually hope that she does not turn into a quilt like Cher.  I have a disturbing image of Cher sleeping wrapped in Saran Wrap in case her face falls off.  I am digressing.  I also understand that ‘over the top” is a prerequisite to successful show business, but dressing like an over-aged Viking pirate did not win Madonna any points.  Her long blond braid wig and eye patch did very little to enhance either the few extra pounds she managed to stuff in her brass brassiere, or her performance.  The Madonna “what the fuck” experience was yet to tragically unfold on stage. The crescendo in excitement was evident in the presenters’ inability to breath the same air as the iconic Madonna.  They couldn’t even utter her name without breaking into reverential sweat. 

Madonna went back into her past with the 1989 hit “Like a Prayer”, unfortunately by the first note it was evident that she needed more than prayers to deliver the song.  Out of tune, out of breath, and flat, she would have been fiercely given the red buzzer by Simon Cowell in the first ten seconds of her rendition.   Must give her kudos for finishing the song; anemic as it was.  Going into her new release “Future” with US rapper Quavo, the performance marginally improved but her struggle was still ongoing.  What was supposed to be non-political became history when two of her pinhead dancers left the stage displaying a flag each on their backs: one Palestinian and one Israeli.  Charming. At this point I was wondering what had been worse; Madonna’s performance, or the now all too familiar pandering Colgate smiles of the presenters, attempting to say something other than “Oy Vey”!  But this is Eurovision and everyone must remain happy and upbeat.

Courtesy of BBC News (May 19, 2019)

After three plus hours of bad singing, bad music, and Madonna, we had to brace ourselves to the voting. An exercise in futility.  The voting is allegedly part public and part judges.  Each country gives 12 points to the “best” song.  Of course that is a matter of opinion, but then after Madonna’s performance even the grunting anti-Semite Iceland heavy metal twits began to sound good. 

As usual the Nordic countries think it’s cool to raise the bar on bizarre.  It’s chic. They stretch their Viking birthright to stupid.  But hey, each to his own.  They could not contain their anti-Israel feeling any longer.  So they displayed the Palestinian flag as the votes were cast. They went beyond Nordic pixilation; someone should have taught them some manners.  If they intended to be rude to their hosts they should have stayed at home, no loss there. What happened to music being non-political? I guess they missed that memo. Iceland has the highest cost of living and inflation in Europe. They have to sell their first born to buy a beer, yet they have the unmitigated  gall to criticize Israel.  A country that leads the world in patents, technology, medicine, and music. What’s Iceland claim to fame? Their ancestors must have tied their Viking hats too tight.

As countries cast their votes, politics entered with a vengeance.  Former Eastern Bloc countries referred to their votes as voting “for a friend”, or “a friend of a friend”.   I guess Malta, UK, Spain, and Germany have no friends.  Who was surprised that Hungary would vote for the Czech Republic, or that Cyprus would vote for Greece, raise your hand?  But the pretense continues.  Under irritating comic camp, forced EU camaraderie,  and the pretense of one big happy family, is buried centuries of suspicion and dislike. Like Don Corleone, who would kiss you while driving a knife through your back, European hypocrisy disguised as intellectual acceptance is putrid.   

Courtesy BBC News (May 19, 2019)

When the voting started and with my wine gone, I switched to whiskey for strength and fortitude.  But after four plus hours of sheer torture, my body gave in to mental Eurovision fatigue. Every year we all know how it will end and we don’t give a shit, because like all good Europeans we will make plans for another evening of bad music, bad costumes, bad entertainment, and an opportunity to pan the hell out of the event in 2020.  I raise my glass of 12 year-old single malt to the winner and go to bed; hopefully a dreamless night.  

2020 election; Send in the clowns

Is it that time again? The presidential election time? The circus-like exercise in futility for many, and agonizing irritation for the rest of us? It seems like only yesterday when we went through the Hillary emails, Bernie’s rants, and Trump’s thumps. But here we are again, in desperation and mental anguish watching a bunch of self absorbed yahoos attempt to convince us that they are going to save us from whatever they think we need saving from.  A collection of political hacks and character misfits working their way through our lives.  We are supposed to decide and choose one of these pinheads, who on a good day I would ignore,  to lead our country. God please bless America.

Folks, the choice pickins are very slim. In the old days, character and moral fiber defined leadership.  We sought people who were reasonably intelligent, polite, and singularly and hopefully better than us.  We were looking for politicians that gave us the confidence that they will take care of us.  We never questioned their personal lives because deep inside we knew that they were probably flawed, but at the same time we expected and demanded behavior that instilled trust.  Rhetoric was left to polite political debate.  There was no name calling, no attacks on families, no hateful intentions; at least that we could see.  Campaigns were fraught with patriotic red, white, and blue promises that most likely would not be kept, but deep inside we still hoped they would.  All in all, campaigning was hard and loud, but never vulgar, or on a thug level.

I am dreading 2020 and the election year we are about to suffer through.  If you thought that 2016 was bad, hold on to your corsets because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Every crazy on the left has thrown the hat and a portion of their brain into the ring.  The Democratic contenders are now approaching two dozen.  Except for Joe Biden, I do not even remotely attempt to label and package the rest of the Democratic ticket.  They are crazy socialist leftists, bent on  convincing us that socialist America would be grand.  The “free for all” crowd who want our money to give it to someone else.  Yes,  free education. Now I ask, why would I want to pay for someone else’s education, especially the way universities and colleges operate these days?  They offer subjects that are as useless as basket weaving.  I am always suspicious when someone tells me that they have a graduate degree in “studies”. My initial urge is to ask: so what have you learned? Catch the drift?  We have grads owing six figure loans bussing tables at Starbucks.  Ask any one of them what they studied in.  I doubt you will get science, plumbing, mechanics, or even medicine.  “Women in Africa Studies” is one of my favorites.  That will surely get you a job! So once again, why would I want to pay for some moron’s idea of education?

The country seems to have been hijacked by nut cases.  The bar has been lowered so much that Nancy Pelosi is beginning to make sense, and that is frightening.  The  congresswoman from Queens makes stupid look good.  The “green deal” goddess who predicts the end of the world in 12 years.  Why 12? Why not 10, or 13, or 32? She wants to remove every ounce of fossil fuel in 10 years because the world will be destroyed in 12.  Even if you failed math, the numbers don’t add up.  And by the way, didn’t Al Gore play that card 20 years ago?   I vote in Queens, and the ballot only had her name on it.  Not much choice.  She got elected then turned around and chased Amazon out, together with 25,000 jobs and six figure salaries.  She and the rest of her dolty clueless clique are scientifically, economically, and for sure historically deficient.  But they are popular among the equally inane masses.

Hot from the presses is the other elite intellectual pseudo ethnic idiot, Elizabeth Warren.  Here new soap box tirade is against nurses.  Nurses; the least appreciated and paid.  One has to be a special kind of moron to go after the people who are self less in a thankless career.  I don’t know about you, but nursing never crossed my mind because it is demanding and stressful. Yet thousands of individuals put themselves in debt and through school to follow a vocation in service of others.  They smile and take abuse from doctors, administrators, and patients.  And now a two-bit self-appointed crusader with an identity crises attacks the very individuals who one day will have the misfortune to wipe her ass while she drools in bed.  She accused white nurses of racism because allegedly black people do not heal as fast.  Somewhere inside that brain is a hamster on a wheel.  Hate mongering among the tolerant far left loons.  I can’t laugh about it any longer because it is too painful.  What’s even more painful is watching the equally equipped idiots cheering her on. 

The climate change narrative has now taken a life of its own.  While we are thumped on the head by the dolt in Queens, China remains the worst offender in emissions and just plain disgusting air.  Large cities like Beijing has its citizens walking around with face masks.  How about talking to them into a “green deal”? Car manufacturers in the west are already spending millions on eco friendly technology and reduced emissions.  Some work, while others are just a political ploy. The electric car or hybrid is  a good example of environmental boondoggle that sends a poker up my ass.  The uselessness behind the concept is mind boggling.  The batteries on these vehicles require up to seven hours in charging.  The charging requires electricity. I would assume that environmentalists realize that the energy required to charge these vehicles is substantial and more than a tank of gas. The vehicles cannot be driven on battery alone because they can only go approximately 30 miles on a charge.  The rest of the time they are driven in a hybrid mode which increases horse power and gas guzzling. I know this because I am in the car business. But neither the loony left nor Hollywood pinheads can tell the difference.  The US government is currently dishing  out up to $5,000 in tax incentives to buy hybrids, resulting in  higher electric usage in homes and public charges.  I am sure that this has escaped the “green deal” gurus.

Except for Donald Trump, no  Republican has come forward to run for president.  I don’t know whether it is genius or cowardice. Let’s face it, we have already regurgitated Huckabee, Romney, and Cruz.  Who is left? Who will take a swipe at Trump?  Who wants to take a swipe at Trump? The man can be as irritating as hell.  The incessant tweets and childish comebacks are getting old.  To be fair, his ride has been anything but smooth.  The continual investigations and persecution of his family is not only unprecedented but visceral. It is obvious that it has very little to do with justice but more with the blatant hatred of the man. Tax payers’ money has been thrown in investigations that brought nothing to the table.  If the opposition had spent as much time and money working on health care, labor, and immigration than investigating Trump, they might have something to show for their five months in office. At least under Trump, the economy is thriving, employment is up, and NATO is finally paying its share. I doubt middle America cares much about Trump’s tax returns either.  However, I am sure that they would like to know how members of congress making less than $200,000 a year become the one percenters?  I think we should demand that all members of congress show us their tax returns, because I for one am curious at how a civil servant’s salary can turn you into a multi-millionaire like Nancy Pelosi and the senile socialist Sanders. But I digress. 

I do have a message for Mr. Trump the incumbent. Mr. President, now that Joe Biden has joined the fray, I do not want to hear “sleepy Joe” again.  As a matter of fact I do not want you labeling anyone ever again. It’s annoying as hell.  I don’t want to hear how great you are, look, and feel either.  It is equally a pain in the ass.  I want you to tell me why I should keep you in the White House.  I suggest you spend less time tweeting and watch reruns of Reagan as president instead.  He was true to himself but never disrespectful or brash.  He was likeable because he was a nice person. He also allowed his people to do their job.  He listened to those around him. These are attributes of leadership. He managed to win the Cold War that way. Better still, take a look at Margaret Thatcher.  She kicked ass with aplomb.   What I am trying to tell you is that you can be yourself without being a boorish disturbing version of yourself.  I appreciate you wanting to be genuine but some “genuine” needs to remain under wraps.  Your administration is like a revolving door.  I can’t remember all the names of who have gone in and out of the White House. You had some good people like General Mattis who left you.  That was a big mistake.  He is an exceptional honest and honorable man. Is it possible that there is something wrong with the way you manage and lead?  I suggest you gnaw on that thought for a while. I appreciate your business savvy but the White House is not one of your casinos.   Wizen up or you are fired.

So here is the 2020 election selection in a nutshell.  A Twilight Zone of political zombies.  If by now you are not dreading 2020 you must be either hypnotized, high, or brain dead.  I would love to line them up and slap them respectively and repeatedly with a two by four.  I would love to cause them as much pain as they will be causing me. There is much to say about hibernation.  Maybe I can sleep through the election. I am making a list and checking it twice. Movies, television reruns, books, and plenty of single malt whiskey.  That ought to get me through the election blues.  Wake me up when it’s over!