Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Facts You Might Not Know About Biden    

     Joe Biden earned a bachelor’s degree from Delaware U. and a law degree from Syracuse U. He married Neilia Hunter and they had three children, but Neilia and their infant daughter were killed in a tragic car wreck, which also injured their two sons. Joe recovered from that devastating grief to enter politics and the people of Delaware elected him to the U.S. Senate in 1972, a job he then held for 36 years before becoming the 47th U.S. Vice President for eight years. In addition to his role as a U.S. Senator, he was also an adjunct professor (1991–2008) at the Wilmington, Delaware, branch of the Widener University School of Law. He and Jill Jacobs, who holds a doctorate degree in education and is a bestselling author, married in 1977 and had a daughter. In 2015, the Biden family suffered another tragedy when Joe’s eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer.

     During his decades in Washington Joe gained a wealth of experience and was respected by members of both parties as an outspoken and effective legislator, a unifier, and a strong-willed advocate on many fronts, chief among these being foreign affairs and the battle against illegal drugs.

     When Biden won the 2020 election, he inherited a White House riven by chaos, a raging pandemic, and economic and climate crises. Yet, despite a steady stream of false defamatory statements from Donald Trump and his far-right followers, and their extensive illegal efforts to overturn the election, including attacking the Capitol—the heart of our democracy—the Biden administration has worked quietly on behalf of all Americans.

     Accomplishments so far include:

  • Fully vaccinating 79% of Americans against Covid (anyone who wisely wanted it free for themselves and their families).
  • Restored threatened species protections, which were dropped by Trump to favor big business.
  • Rejoined the Paris Agreement to fight climate change, which was also dropped by Trump, again to favor big business. Adopted the most aggressive climate change/environmental justice agenda in U.S. history, while adding many new jobs in those areas. Pledged to cut harmful emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.
  • Phenomenal job growth, with 11 million jobs created including 750,000 new manufacturing jobs making things in America rather than importing them from overseas. More people are working now than at any time in our history.
  • An unemployment record of 3.5%, the lowest in 50 years.
  • A $15/hour minimum wage for federal workers.
  • A 15% minimum tax on billion-dollar corporations, with NO tax increases for families making under $400,000/year. (Trump gave a big tax break to the wealthy, including himself.)
  • Legislation to rebuild our infrastructure—deteriorating bridges, buildings, and roads—in all 50 states, territories, and tribal lands.
  • Despite worldwide inflation that is beyond our government’s ability to control, the Biden Administration passed the Inflation Reduction Act to slow inflation in America, and lowered gas prices with the release of strategic reserves.
  • Rallied allies to help Ukraine fight off Russian aggression, eroding Putin’s dictatorial powers and military capability, which is in America’s best interests.
  • More Americans now have health care than ever before. Capping insulin price at $35 per month. Capping seniors’ drug costs at $2,000/year. An $800 health insurance savings for 13 million Americans.
  •  Historic student debt relief so they can get to work in successful contributing careers (and pay their taxes).
  • Clamping down on “junk fees” such as those routinely tacked on by car dealerships after a deal has been agreed on, which can increase the final price by many hundreds of dollars.
  • Record-breaking Wall Street performance that is boosting the investments of all Americans.
  • Proposed the most comprehensive immigration reform legislation in decades, granting much of what the Republicans said they wanted, only to have Trump shoot it down (with his far-right legislative followers bowing to his wishes) because Trump wanted immigration as a platform to attack Biden.

     The Biden administration has been and still is working for all Americans.

     Joe Biden is a good guy.

     Donald Trump is obviously not. (See the last blog post for hard facts to back up that claim.)



Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A Few Facts About Donald Trump

   I don’t usually inject politics into my blog, but because of the current sad nationwide circumstances, I must speak out.

Here are some easily verifiable facts:

   Trump had no political experience when he first ran for president, had never held a governmental position, his major fame being the star of a reality TV show. He told male friends that his status as that star allowed him to “grab a woman [associated with the TV show] by the ***sy” when he pleased. When that comment became public knowledge, he dismissed it as “only locker-room talk.”

   Accused by journalist E. Jean Carroll of sexual molestation, he publicly ridiculed and verbally attacked her and she received threats from his followers. In a resultant defamation suit, a jury awarded her $5 million. Trump continued to publicly and viciously defame her and the threats from his followers ramped up, so she sued him again and another jury awarded her $83 million. The Trump hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels has been well publicized. Trump’s third wife, Melania, has been conspicuously absent from his side for some time as I write this. Does anyone blame her?

   After his loss to Joe Biden, Trump called Brad Raffenspurger, Republican Georgia attorney general, and asked him repeatedly to “find” thousands of votes, just enough to reverse the Georgia outcome from Biden to Trump. Brad steadfastly refused and wisely recorded the conversation. Georgia did two complete machine recounts and a full hand recount in response to heavy Republican pressure. Brad and others testified under oath that the numbers came out the same for Biden as the winner each time. Republican Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Baur also testified that Trump pressured him to overturn the Arizona vote, which Biden had won. Rusty refused, sacrificing his own political career. In response to Republican vote tampering accusations, some 60 judges across America ruled there was NO election fraud. Despite this, Trump and many of his followers still claim the 2020 election was stolen. Who, in fact, has attempted to steal that election with every devious means including setting up fake electors? Certainly not Biden.

   Day after day the far-right Fox News Network knowingly broadcast the lie that Dominion Voting Machines had rigged the election in favor of Biden. A court found those claims to be utter fabrications, and fined the channel $787.5 million, the largest settlement against a media outlet in American history. Yet millions among us still trust that network for their news.

   Trump is the first president in our history to refuse a peaceful transfer of power and to fight in every way he could to overturn the certified election results. He went so far as to summon a crowd of his supporters to Washington (“Be there. It will be wild,” he said.), harangue them at length, claiming again that the election had been stolen and that Vice President Pence had been derelict in his Trump-assigned duty to refuse certifying the electoral votes. (Traditionally a mere formality; no vice president has any authority to overturn an election, of course.) Trump sent them, armed and openly hostile, marching on the national Capitol, the seat of our democracy. Among his parting comments was: “. . . if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not gonna have a country left.” Fight they did. Capitol Police officers were overwhelmed, beaten, gassed, bear-sprayed, and severely injured. Police Officer Brian Sicknick died. The mob battered their way in, trashing the place as they went, destroying antiques and artifacts, chasing after the fleeing legislators of both parties, chanting, “HANG MIKE PENCE,” defecating on office carpets and desks. The insurrection went on for three hours, while Trump sat in the White House watching it unfold on TV, ignoring even the entreaties of his family members to call off the violence. The mob only began dispersing when law enforcement was independently gaining control of the situation anyway. Then Trump finally went on TV, telling the rioters he loved them and sending them home. Hundreds have since been convicted in court and are serving sentences. The series of January 6 Committee hearings exposed the sordid details behind the riot, and nearly all the witnesses were Republicans, as were Vice Chairperson Liz Cheney and committee member Adam Kinzinger, both of whom sacrificed their congressional political careers to stand up for the truth. 

   After meeting with the dictator of North Korea, Trump said that Kim was “a nice young man.” Anyone who’d like to know the truth about North Korea and the brutal Kim Un regime should read Star of the North by David John, who researched the subject exhaustively, interviewing the few defectors who’ve made it out alive, even traveling there to see what he could for himself. Kim is anything but “a nice young man.” John’s portrait of that bizarre, oppressive, isolated nation, its ruthless dictator, and the threat posed to world order is chilling.

   John McCain was a decorated Navy A-4 Skyhawk pilot and hero (Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star). Shot down during a flight over North Vietnam and severely injured during ejection, as a POW he endured five years of deprivation, brutal beatings, and continual torture. Despite his horrific ordeal, during which he nearly died several times, he went on to become a respected Republican U.S. Senator from Arizona until his death. When asked by a reporter about John McCain, Trump said, “I prefer people who didn’t get caught.” Trump also publicly mocked a disabled NY Times reporter in a speech, mimicking that person’s involuntary muscle movements.

   Under Trump’s personal direction, boxes containing hundreds of secret and top-secret documents were intentionally and illegally removed from the White House and taken to his Mar-a-Lago members’ club/Trump residence, where they were put in storage in a bathroom and elsewhere. These documents included classified defense plans, nuclear secrets, and secret intelligence reports from America’s allies. He is known to have shared some of these documents with friends who had no security clearances. It is not known who else may have seen any of the unsecured documents, or what Trump’s motives were in taking them. He refused to turn over the documents to the secure National Archives where they legally belonged, and finally the FBI raided the club and seized them. Trump claimed he’d had the power to declassify any document “just by thinking about it.” As I write this, he’s currently under indictment in Florida on 37 felony counts of violating the Espionage Act.

   Prior to the 2020 election in a phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky Trump asked the man to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for any dirt that Trump could use. Implied was the withholding of aid if Zelensky would not. Republicans have since used Hunter’s admitted indiscretions to attack the whole Biden administration, even though Hunter has no role in it. We may recall that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and paid close personal advisor during the Trump administration, secured a two-billion-dollar deal with the Saudis for his investment firm to manage. What will Kushner’s ongoing fees be from that?

   Trump was recently found guilty of fraud in his New York dealings over many years, fined $355 million plus interest to be paid to the state of New York, and was banned from doing business in the state for three years. Two of Trump’s sons, Donald Junior and Eric, were found complicit in the fraud, each fined $4 million, and banned from doing business in the state for two years.

   For years, Trump refused to release his tax returns. Why? Every other president, including Reagan, Obama, Clinton, the Bushes, and Joe Biden have done this willingly and promptly for all to see. When Trump’s most recent returns were finally leaked, the reason he’d so closely guarded them became clear. For three out of five years, he paid nothing at all. For two of those five years he paid exactly $750 each. Trump’s business career has been littered with massive failures, nonpayment to creditors, and outright fraud. In 2018 in California, for just one more example, a federal appeals court upheld a prior agreement to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits accusing fraud associated with his by-then-defunct Trump University.

   Trump has said, “Immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country.” Hitler said the same about Jews poisoning the blood of Nazi Germany. Hitler also promised to Make Germany Great Again. The truth is the entire North and South American Continents and Central America as we know them have been founded entirely by immigrants. The only original and true occupiers were the native Indian tribes, the Mayans, and the Aztecs. Every single other living person in the Western Hemisphere is either an immigrant or a descendent of immigrants. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Should we tear down that statue?

   The truth is immigrants have made our nation great. Einstein, one of the finest geniuses who ever lived, was an immigrant. Millions of other immigrants have contributed to our industry and culture over the decades. Many of our cities are named for the places they came from: NEW York, NEW Jersey, NEW Orleans, NEW Haven, NEW Bern, where I live. There are Chinatowns in New York and San Francisco. There’s a Korea Town in New York. There are French settlers in Louisiana. There are hard-working, tax-paying Italians, Irish, Russians, Latinos, Germans, Greeks, Scandinavians, and many other nationalities responsibly contributing to our culture and our world leadership role all across America.

   Immigrants should, of course, be vetted before they’re allowed legal status. When Joe Biden proposed a recent long overdue and comprehensive bill on immigration reform, which gave the Republicans a large part of what they’d wanted, Trump fought it and his congressional supporters dutifully killed it because he wanted to run on that issue himself, condemning Biden and Democrats for not taking action.

   Trump said, “With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.” Really? Does this include Washington, Jefferson, the Roosevelts, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, and all those other presidents from both parties who worked so tirelessly to improve, promote, and defend our democracy?

   The hard facts are: Donald Trump has proven to be criminally incompetent in business and leadership, morally corrupt, incapable of common empathy, a supreme narcissist, an inveterate liar, and a real danger to our American democracy.

   Each of us must decide whether we want to grant this man the great powers and prestige of the White House once again. You know what my vote will be.

   Please give some good old American common-sense thought to your vote.


Monday, June 12, 2023

Our Feeders Are Killing Us

    I recently was in the bustling Charlotte Airport terminal with only an hour between connecting flights. I was hungry but the lines at the fast-foot places were far too long, so I ducked into a shop and grabbed a three-dollar bottle of water, a small bag of baked chips, and a PB and J sandwich on wheat bread in a neat wedge-shaped clear plastic container labeled “City Point Market ‘Fresh Food To Go’”, believing I was making reasonably healthy choices. I ate half the chips and half the sandwich before walking quickly to my departure gate.

    When I got home, I still had half the sandwich left. Naomi read the ingredients. She had to use a magnifying glass because the type was that tiny. You’d expect a short list, right? Peanut butter, jelly, and wheat bread. Wrong.

    She read out 45 mostly chemical ingredients to me, some of them difficult to pronounce and including well-known unhealthy stuff like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and witchy potions to retard spoilage. Forty-five ingredients.

    She then compared the numbers of my expensive grab-and-go concoction with a typical PB and J sandwich we’d make at home using Nature’s Own Wheat Bread, Polaner All-Fruit Jelly with no additives, and “Simply Peanuts” butter with no additives.

Here were the results:

            My Grab-and-Go Concoction                           Our Homemade sandwich

Calories             760 (almost half a day’s load of 2,000 c)            380                                                     

Total Fat            32 g (almost half a day’s load)                            17 g

Saturated Fat     7 g                                                                           2.5 g

Total Sugars      31 g                                                                         14 g

Sodium               860 mg (a whopping third of a day’s load)        355 mg 

    I concluded that the York Street Caterers Company of Englewood, New Jersey, must have been trying to kill me.

    From my years working as a volunteer pilot for the environmental Neuse River Foundation, I’d learned that the American diet is knowingly polluted with harmful chemistry. Hogs, for example, are fed antibiotics to prevent rampant disease in the packed corporate barns, and the meat retains those antibiotics. Eat enough pork and you’ll develop a resistance to antibiotics. Crops of all kinds are drenched in harmful pesticides. Soft drinks are loaded with way too much sugar. And we’ve long known that sodium levels in soups and meats and nearly everything else are far too high. But I never thought an innocent looking PB and J sandwich would be almost lethally laced with chemistry.

    Check out the YouTube documentary “Eating You Alive.” It’s frightening what the typical American diet of fast food and processed food (in other words, the vast majority of food in the typical neighborhood supermarket) is doing to us over time.

    Then read any healthy eating book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman or his like.

    We don’t have to let our feeders kill us. We only have to read their legally mandated labels, even if we have to use a magnifying glass.

    And change our diet habits accordingly.


Check out my guaranteed non-poisonous suspense series of novels available--each for less than the cost of a probably poisonous fast-food lunch--in print or Kindle on Amazon. Easy buy links through my website. People seem to like them.

Monday, April 24, 2023

 Longevity Stats 

    My maternal grandfather lived to 103 and my father lived to 98. Both were healthy throughout their lives. I’m hoping I’ve inherited their durable genes, even though I’ve not lived as common-sensibly as they did.

    The oldest known human was Jeanne Louise Calmet, who made it to 122 with only nineteenth- and early twentieth-century medical care available (1875-1997).

    Other earth’s fauna live lives of widely varying longevity. That last lobster you savored might have been 100, but that’s nothing compared with an Ocean quahog clam, which could be over 500 years old before it’s served up on your plate. If you prefer Mahi-mahi (Common dolphinfish), it cannot have lived more than 4 years when caught and grilled. Pink salmon live only 3 years, while a rougheye rockfish can live 205 years.

    The shortest-lived vertebrate on our planet is the Pygmy goby fish, at eight weeks. Waaaay over at the other end of the longevity spectrum is the Immortal jellyfish, which can reverse its life cycle back to a polyp over and over. The life of a single Hexactinellid sponge can date back an incredible 15,000 years, to a time when the earliest people arrived in North America.

    Here’s a selection of other creatures’ life spans:

          House mouse 4 yrs

          Mountain cottontail rabbit 7.4 yrs

          Red squirrel 9.8 yrs

          Buff-bellied hummingbird 11 yrs

          Guinea pig 12 yrs

          Common quail and Giant armadillo 15 yrs

          Domestic cattle, American crow, and Giant manta ray 20 yrs

          Red fox and Cheetah 21 yrs

          Tiger and Blue jay 26 yrs

          Domestic dog and King penguin 27 yrs

          Domestic cat 30 yrs

          Panda 37 yrs

          Gray heron 38 yrs

          Giraffe and Whooping crane 40 yrs

          Great white shark 50 yrs

          Bottlenose dolphin 52 yrs

          Gorilla 60 yrs

          Chimpanzee 68 yrs

          American alligator 77 yrs

          Asian elephant 80 yrs

          Killer whale 90 yrs

          Blue whale 110 yrs

          Eastern box turtle 138 yrs

          Aldabra tortoise 175 yrs

          Bowhead whale 211 yrs

          Greenland shark 392 yrs

    All the creatures on the above list survive with no medical help whatsoever. No procedures, therapies, dieting, yoga, psychological counselling, gym memberships, supplements, or pills, yet the last five of them far outlive any of us. But, on the other hand or paw or flipper, none of them consume double bacon cheeseburgers or fries or Twinkies or loaded pizzas or alcohol or nicotine or soft drinks. And they get plenty of daily exercise.

    Maybe we’ve a few lessons to learn from them.


Source: National Geographic

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Monday, April 17, 2023

Storm Visitor

     You’re not supposed to begin an account with a worn-out weather cliché, but it was a dark and stormy night some years back as we fought our way south through rough seas well off notorious ship-killing Cape Hatteras. The boat’s owner, Pete, had hired me and another licensed captain, John, to help him move his immaculate 62-foot sailing yacht from Newport to Florida for the winter. We had to travel offshore and take turns standing watches because the 87-foot-tall mast wouldn’t make it under fixed bridges along the protected Intracoastal Waterway. During this night, we heard the owner of a catamaran that was taking on water radio a Mayday to the Coast Guard, but we never learned that boat’s fate.

     Our own situation was deteriorating, and we were all awake trying to sort it out. The bow hatch had sprung a leak, the storm wind had ripped a seam loose on the cockpit overhead canvas dodger, and waves had broken one of the two heavy steel davits suspending the dinghy crossways aft of the stern. We rigged a stout line from a heavy electric sail winch to brace the davit somewhat.

     In the gray pre-dawn light, a small brown songbird fluttered aboard and settled on a cockpit cushion. The wind must have blown it out to sea, and it had obviously exhausted itself trying to fly back to land. By then, we were somewhat worn down ourselves. We fed it some bread and water and soon it perked up enough to fly below and explore the yacht’s layout. Its ordeal had evidently eclipsed any fear of us, and at one point it perched atop John’s ball cap visor for a time, looking ahead through the windshield into the mist.

     South of the Cape, as we drew closer to Beaufort inlet, heading for the town docks where we could make repairs, the wind abated, and sunlight was lancing through the scudding clouds.

     Our small brown visitor spotted the dunes and darted away, leaving us with a nice uplifting memory.


Check out the latest suspense novel, Dawn Light, starring yacht delivery captain Dent Stedman. It’s on Amazon in your choice of print or Kindle.



Monday, April 3, 2023

A Cat’s Interactive Channel

     Naomi and I had never seen our 14-year-old cat, McKenzie, pay the slightest attention to TV, until one recent day when we were watching and listening to various songbirds on YouTube. He loped into the room and not only became riveted by the screen, but also began interacting with it. Even weirder, some of the featured birds seemed to be interacting with him.

     So, it wasn’t that he never could comprehend the TV all those years.

     Evidently, he’d simply scorned our choices of programming.

     I’ll let you know if he figures out how to use the remote now.

     Please share this post with the cats in your world.

McKenzie and a bold jay stare each other down.

Check out Phil’s half-dozen acclaimed suspense novels on Amazon in your choice of print or Kindle. Money back if you don’t love them.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Inventing Words

     The practice goes back, of course, to the earliest global emergence of languages, when cavepersons presumably felt the need to say things like, “pass me that rock,” or “let’s call this bright stuff fire,” or “anybody seen my favorite club?”

     Shakespeare, apparently not satisfied with the several thousand words available to him then, made up lots of new ones, among them: dauntless, lackluster, lonely, swagger, bandit, dwindle, uncomfortable, unreal, and unearthly. He used the un prefix liberally, tacking it onto over 300 words.

     Slang has long forced dictionarians (a real word) to officially add new ones: groovy, rad, shiner, bummer, switchblade, jeepers, ducktail, dork, spaz, nerd.  

     The tech world has recently gifted us hundreds more new words: Google, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, meme, blog, vlog, podcast, bingeable (as in a pop TV series), dumbphone (no frills).

     And how about all those anonymous souls who labor in the depths of the pharmaceutical dungeons inventing slick words for the thousands of drugs that overflow our medicine cabinets?

     There are a handful of words I would prefer to see erased from our language or at least severely usage-restricted by law: awesome, like, and committed top that list. And does anyone know what the devil woke means?

     Between 800 and 1,000 new words get added to the Oxford Dictionary every year. In 2022, these included influencer, ankle-biter, sharenting (parents sharing info about their children on social media), and trequartista (in soccer, a position between midfielders and strikers). In 2023, new words already include: nearlywed (nicer than shacked up), hellscape (Congress?), cakeage (a charge for bringing your own cake to a restaurant party), talmbout (conjunction of talking and about), selfcoup (or autocoup; what Putin did to secure power for life), and petfluencer (a person who gains social media followers by posting vids and photos of pets).

     We’ve advanced considerably from those cavepersons squatting around a fire and trying to come up with something clever to say. The Oxford Dictionary now gives us more than 170,000 English words with which to spellbind readers of fiction and poetry, obfuscate political debating, slant the news, confuse legal documents, sell a billion different items to hapless consumers, and delight Scrabblers.


P.S.  My six novels and short story collection represent about three quarters of a million words that I’ve tried my best over recent years to select and string together in a laborious attempt to engage and move readers. If you’d care to sample a hundred thousand or so for less than you’d pay for a fast-food meal, they’ll all available in print or Kindle on Amazon. You might even discover a few words I’ve made up myself.