Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mark Shields … in person and DELIGHTFUL !

I was privileged recently to attend a free lecture at our local Community College where the famed PBS political analyst, Mark Shields, was the speaker. As many of you know he is often paired with David Brooks on the PBS news. He speaks for the left and David the right and that gives us a broad view of the subject discussed.

The title of the Lecture was “The Challenge of Governing in a Polarized World”. Mr. Shields (who started his political career in 1968 working on the Robert F. Kennedy Presidential campaign) has covered the last 10 Presidents and it was fascinating getting his take on some of them. 

He is known for his wit and I think the funniest recollection that he shared with us was when President Reagan made his remark in 1981 “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles”, which of course was proved incorrect. Mr. Shields said shortly after his remark Reagan arrived at one of the California colleges to give a speech and was greeted by a large sign hanging off a tree that read “Cut me down now before I kill someone.”  

Although his talk was sprinkled with witticisms it was basically a serious look at the world as it evolves and our part in it. I found it to be one of those talks that I wished would not come to an end. A quote from The Wall Street Journal expresses it best for me. They called him “the wittiest political analyst around and frequently the most trenchant, fair-minded and thoughtful”. You can't ask for much more than that !

Monday, October 17, 2016

Update on my political yard sign …

Three and a half weeks ago you might remember that I wrote a blog entry about this sign that I made and posted on my front lawn. I had trepidations that it might be stolen in the night, etc., etc. but that hasn't happened !
However … I've had some interesting feedback. Of course your comments are part of that but I also have a few friends who don't comment on line but have called or seen me and who read my blog and they are all in agreement that it sends a good message.
Also, on the positive side, I have had two women (complete strangers) actually come to my door to give me their input and support. I am in a very pro Trump area so this gladdens my heart. However, just a few days ago I found this on my front porch:
I could feel the frustration of the person who wrote that and I wish I had been home and confronted one-on-one instead of just receiving words written on cardboard. In 2008 I was excited too and looking forward to many much needed changes in our country. In actuality (in my estimation) things did start to change and then we Democrats made a drastic error. We failed to realize how very critical the mid-term elections were and, in 2010, the Tea Party Republicans were able to get a majority of their members elected. That has taught us a bitter lesson as we've watched the past 6 years go by with nothing of import being accomplished because of their constant stone walling.

I think their reign is coming to an end as politicians of both parties have come to see that working together (using that dreaded word COMPROMISE) is the only fair way to pay homage to those of us who elected them to office. I pray that it will be the case.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A night out on the town …

It's a far cry from New York City but it turned out to be a very delightful evening. I'm not a church-goer so I would have felt strange going on my own but with my niece Wendy as my date it made it plausible.

We had seen the signs all over the little town that I live in. They announced the supper and Harvest Sale and it caught our attention. It almost goes without saying that the suppers and desserts are always good at church gatherings and that would have made it appealing even if it didn't include a sale … so we decided to go.

The setting, as you see, is a lovely country church situated quite a few miles from the center of town. We were amazed at the amount of people there. We arrived around 5:30 so can only imagine what it was like at 4 when it opened.

After waiting in line and paying our $8.00 we had a choice of fried chicken or country ham and all the fixins'… not to speak of a huge variety of home made desserts. I chose one called Japanese Fruit Pie which was delicious but left Wendy and I wondering what it had to do with Japan !

Then on to the auction …
Everything for sale was made by members of the church and the highlight of the night was this lovely blanket that sold for $1700. I can't imagine how many hours it must have taken to make it and could only wonder at the devotion the women had who worked together to complete it.

It was a lovely evening and I plan to go next year … even if I have to go alone !

Friday, October 07, 2016

“Only the little people pay taxes.”

That was the famous quote attributed to the billionaire real estate mogul Leona Helmsley. I'm sure many of you remember her.

She was also dubbed “The Queen of Mean” due to her tyrannical behavior with those she considered not worthy of her attention … virtually everyone except her beloved dog, “Trouble”. When she died in 2007 she left a good portion of her wealth to him !

I was reminded of Ms. Helmsley this morning while perusing the political news. She was accused (and thankfully convicted) of non-payment to contractors and using fraudulent means to evade paying taxes. A favorite scheme was insisting that the contractors falsify their invoices to read as business expenses billed to her hotels to avoid paying tax liabilities. 

In 1988 then United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani indicted the Helmsleys and two of their associates on several tax-related charges, as well as extortion. After a lengthy trial she was finally convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of tax evasion, three counts of filing false personal tax returns, sixteen counts of assisting in the filing of false corporate and partnership tax returns, and ten counts of mail fraud … but acquitted of extortion. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison but with the aid of her attorney Alan Dershowitz she was released in 1994 after serving just 19 months.

I never realized that Rudy Giuliani (a staunch supporter of our current Republican presidential candidate) was so knowledgeable about the inner workings of the tax laws as it pertains to real estate in our country. He must know every trick in that trade that is used to evade paying taxes so I'm surprised that he hasn't advised his good friend to reveal his tax returns. After all, if they do nothing more than show the unfairness of the tax laws we will at least know, once and for all, that “only the little people pay taxes”.  THAT'S US !!!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

..."his brother will be Alex ..."

I'm sure that most of you have seen this heart wrenching picture of Omran, the little 5 year old boy from Aleppo who was pulled from the rubble just minutes before the building where he lived collapsed…

...but have you seen this youngster?
This is Alex, a six-year-old from Scarsdale, New York who not only saw Omran's picture but was compelled to do something about it. He sat down and wrote a letter to President Obama pleading with him to bring Omran to the United States and even offered to give him a home with his family.
...his letter goes on to say:

Park in the driveway or on the street and we'll be waiting for you guys with flags flowers and balloons . We will give him a family and he will be our brother. Catherine, my little sister will be collecting butterflies and fireflies for him. 
In my school I have a friend from Syria, Omar, and I will introduce him to Omar and we can all play together. We can invite him to birthday parties and he will teach us another language. We can teach him English too just like we taught my friend Aoto from Japan.
Please tell him that his brother will be Alex who is a very kind boy just like him. Since he won't bring toys and doesn't have toys Catherine will share her big blue stripy white bunny and I will share my bike and I will teach him how to ride it. I will teach him additions and subtractions in math …
...I can't wait for you to come. Alex, 6 years old”

Not only did our President receive the letter but he included it in a speech at the Leaders' Summit on Refugees at the UN on 9/21. Wouldn't it be amazing if a 6 year olds words could actually bring some compassion and love to this world that we live in ?