"If at age 20 you are a conservative then you have no heart. If at age 30 you are a liberal then you have no brains."
Sir Winston Churchill

Obama obviously knows very little about economics, specifically that "Society stagnates when independent productive achievers begin to be socially demonized and even punished for their accomplishments." This dilemma fogs Obama's reality. To him, accepting this truth is a "false choice", his answer to things he doesn't understand. And by the way... where is John Galt?

Saturday, February 22, 2014


I was born and raised in a union household.  I owe a lot to my fathers union.  I probably would not have gone to college without it.  I have never crossed a picket line in my life and I pray that I never will.  Unions helped create the modern middle class in 20th century America.  Unions did so, by being the champion of middle class values and American patriotism and exceptionalism.

 As an adult I was a member of two unions.  The first was the UFT, the NYC chapter of the AFT.  This union or at least the chapter in one school where I taught Special Education, did not think much of my students and at times even less about their members who taught them.  Both the AFT and the NEA nationally would initially oppose efforts to mainstream students with disabilities.  Today both would probably deny this but they would be lying.
So my personal experience with unions has been mixed as has the experience and perceptions of millions of other Americans which are reflected in the decline of union membership in the work force to 11.3%.  Private sector union membership is now an anemic 6.7% while the public sector union membership is a healthier 35.3%. while growing in controversy as to its effect on the size and cost of government at all levels. 

This past weekend workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted not to join the UAW despite  the active cooperation of VW management and I G Metall the bargaining agent for Volkswagen  workers in Europe.  The UAW has fallen from a high of 1.5 million members  to less than 400,000 nationally.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


I grew up in upstate New York.  Winters there begin before Thanksgiving and end just before Easter ...if Easter falls in April.  As kids my brothers and I reckoned that Spring actually began in February when the Pitchers and Catchers reported for spring training in either Florida or Arizona.  We knew that somewhere it was warm  with sunny blue skies and we could almost smell the linseed oil and pine tar.
Baseball is the most democratic of sports.  You can be thin or fat...tall or short...man or woman...fast or slow...disabled or not...and after 1947 black, white, brown or yellow.  Somehow if you love baseball ...baseball will love you back.
Once down in the Dominican Republic, where every town, village or barrio has both a church and a ball field, I watched a group of boys, some with shoes and some without, clear rocks and debris from an empty field to make a   diamond and outfield.  I stayed and watched them play ...some still without shoes.  They had to play and I had to watch.
Baseball tugs at your heart and tugs at your brain.  It is unlike any other sport because it  truly is a metaphor for life...a drama conceived and played first on an American stage and now on a world stage. It begins the first time you visit a ball park and for that I will let the words of my brother Don describe it from memory,  in the eyes of an eight year old boy...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I am the son, the husband, the grandson, the nephew, the cousin and the descendant of immigrants.
The first  came in May 1638 on the ship BEVIS out of Southampton England.  Her name was Annis Littlefield and she came with six children and two male bond servants.  She landed in what is now Welles Maine, which then was close to the North East boundary of what was  the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Plantation Colony.

 There for 150 years, my ancestors farmed, fished, hunted and fought the French and Indians and then their British cousins in the Revolution.
By 1830 my great-great grandfather Spencer moved to south central New York to work on the Chemung Canal which connected the Erie Canal at Seneca Lake to the Chemung River and then the Susquehanna.
On August 13,1862 his son, my great grandfather Charles, enlisted in the Union Army.  35 days later he was at Antietam, followed by Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and all the battles up to and including the capture of Atlanta.
107th Monument at Gettyeburg
He came home sick from the war and married Mary Jane Bunnell who was of German and Irish ancestry.  My grandfather Forrest was born in 1880 and he would marry my Grandmother, Cynthia Amanda Richards after the turn of the century.  Her family name was originally Richarde but her father Egbert, Americanized it after he married  my other great grand mother Elsie who was a Howe. They and my Grandmother's little sister Bertha all died of diphtheria in 1880 and she and her baby brother grew up as orphans.
The second wave came in 1912 and 1914 from Smaland, Sweden.  My grandfather Gustav came first to make glass in Corning, New York.  My grandmother Klara Franson Erlandsson came next with my father, his two brothers and her sister in May 1914 on the RMS Mauretania just months before the start of the Great War.
Mauretania 1930s.JPG
In 1917 my father ran away at 13 to join the Army and fight the Kaiser.
My Grandfather had to take the train to Buffalo to bring him home.  In 1942 he was back in Buffalo to fight either Hitler or Tojo but this time Uncle Sam found him too old and too married and sent him back to Corning Glass to make CRTs for radar for the war effort.  In between the family had changed their name and become citizens.  By the time I was born my father and my uncles had lost most of their Swedish and were Americans through and through.
The third wave came in  April 2003 on a Northwest Airlines jet from Pangasinan in the Philippines.  This wave was a single person... my wife to be, who four years later became a US Citizen in a ceremony so moving that it still sends chills up my spine.  She is the vanguard of more de la Rosa's, de la Cruz's, Sta. Ana's and others who will follow her here because this nation is still the end of the line for any and all who seek personal and religious freedom, and the  opportunity for the pursuit of happiness and a better life.

Monday, February 3, 2014


The annual State of the Union Address or SOTU has become a ghastly affair.  It makes buffoons out of our elected officials and makes the television viewers at home long for a pageant at least as dignified and solemn as the Grammy's...which should not be an impossibly high standard.   Hey... Jay-Z and Beyonce at the 2015 SOTU...now that's a thought.   After that we could have the "Cirque du Soleil's" production of "Potomac Fantasia" complete with acrobats, clowns, and people breathing fire. I mean If you are not going to talk substance... then bread and circuses are all that's left.

Thomas Jefferson refused to make the pilgrimage to the hill because he understood he was a co-equal branch of government.  Instead he sent a written epistle and for 100 years his successors wisely did the same until the autocratic Woodrow Wilson decided to use the occasion  as an opportunity to try and make the Executive Branch not co-equal but a superior branch of government.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale.
Today the SOTU has become a festival of words unaccompanied by either action or facts.  It is a stage where the actors on the stage often loath each other but when on camera take every opportunity to kiss, hug or embrace one another as if they hadn't seen each other in weeks.
Barack Obama's fifth SOTU was an unexceptional and graceless affair until the very end when he paid tribute to wounded warrior Ranger Sgt. Cory Remsburg who was horribly wounded during his 10th deployment to Afghanistan. The sustained applause for this brave man was the only genuine  moment of the evening and the President is to be commended for including this and at least ending a dreary event on a high note.