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We’re just small people on a big planet and we have to cope with every kind of disaster. California has recently faced raging fires in different areas of the state. It was almost surreal to watch the fires on TV. It was just too much to cope with and many homes were lost.

In New York City a crazy man decided he would rent a big truck and then drive it down a popular bike path running over people. He killed innocent people who were minding their own business. His last act was to run into a school bus, before he left the truck and ran around. The response from the police was immediate and the stupid man was stopped by a bullet in his abdominal area. It was shocking, but the NY police department are vigilant now and better prepared to fight back. Sadly 8 people were killed and others injured. The news is almost instantaneous all over the world.

This killer has rights. He was taken to a hospital and taken care of. Unfortunately he didn’t die. He is a staunch believer that anyone who doesn’t follow his religion should be destroyed. Of course, it’s too bad that he was allowed to become a citizen here. How could anybody know his intentions were evil? Maybe we should just stop allowing men from certain countries to come here and become citizens. I would not be disturbed if we put a brake on all immigration for a good long while. We need a break! From all the turmoil and savagery that some men bring to our country. How can we ever forget 9-11? It’s not that long ago. Our safety is more important than anything and we should be allowed to live our lives without terrorists in our midst.

I suppose that this evil man will get good medical care, his day in court and then a life in prison forever, all on our dime. He will be able to recall his dirty work and gloat about it as he waits for someone to bring his dinner to his cell. As any kid would say, “it’s not fair!”

It’s unfortunate but our president just seems to create problems where/when there shouldn’t be problems. He wants things his way, no matter what. He wants everyone to believe what he says, when it’s impossible to do that. He lashes out at any slight criticism with incredible anger. He seems to be focused on Hillary Clinton, talking about her frequently. Why she is so important to him is a puzzle. He also talks about former President Obama. He sneers when he says “Obamacare.” He wants his own version of health care to be put in place. President Trump seems obsessed with these two people, who are busy living their own lives.

I would hope that our President is busy doing good things for the whole populace. He made brief appearances after the fierce storms/hurricanes in the southern U.S. A quick trip to Puerto Rico offered photo ops for the media but he didn’t stay long, well long enough to pitch paper towel rolls at an audience. Puerto Rico needs a lot of help right now. Their problems are varied and severe. It will take longer and much more help for them to come back to their “normal” lives. President Trump didn’t seem very sympathetic . It was a “must do” kind of visit. He seemed to think because it is an island the task to rebuild will be so much harder. Hawaii is an island and it functions. Puerto Rico can also come back to normal with the right leadership.

President Trump seems like a restless man. He doesn’t have much vocabulary and that could be because he’s always in a hurry. He must love to travel because he’s always going somewhere. Or maybe he just loves the drama of climbing aboard the presidential plane or helicopter. He’s looking for a legacy but at his rate it’s going to take a good while. He’s not forging consensus and cooperation yet. He doesn’t even attempt to hide his hatred of the former President and the former First lady/Senator//Head of the State Department.

Which reminds me of the time I watched the procession of vehicles when former President Bill Clinton was making an appearance in the San Fernando Valley. He was to say a few words at the metro train station, in Sylmar, which also had a settlement of new housing, plus a child care center nearby. I was a part of he crowd who were told to stand on the sidewalks just across the street. It wasn’t a long visit so the President was in the limo and he had the driver stop at the corner. He got out and waved to the crowd, who clapped and cheered. What impressed me was the number of vehicles in front and behind the limo: police cars, officers on motorcycles, cars for the Secret Service, a doctor and I assume, an ambulance. It really was a parade. They were on their way to the small Whiteman airport in nearby Pacoima, where his Presidential helicopter awaited to take him to the Presidential plane at LAX. I have to say it’s a very impressive “parade.”

So, it is a big deal when presidents travel anywhere. When former President Obama came to L.A. people were very angry because they closed off so many streets as he moved about from one place to another. He was also going to private homes in the hillsides to raise money. It cost thousands of dollars to attend these dinners. But the donors got to have photos taken with the President and that alone is worth a lot of bucks! Ultimately, it’s a giant photo op for everyone. Some people get very excited when a president is in town, while others dread it.

The job of being president presents money making ideas. President Trump red caps are sold when he makes appearances, so maybe he makes money from that. Presidents also write books for adults and children and of course they make money when they appear at dinners and other public events. I remember how shocked I was that former President Reagan was going to receive around $20,000 for a speech in Japan. As taxpayers we probably don’t want to know what exactly it costs us to keep these folks in office and what it takes to take them from one place to another. We also pay to keep their family members safe 24/7.

We certainly have our share of problems in California. Lately it’s the horrific fires that have destroyed whole neighborhoods in parts of the state, from north to south. The reason for the fires in Northern California have been attributed to climate change. Heavy rains, drought conditions, the rising sea levels all contribute to precarious conditions. Fierce winds drove embers towards neighborhoods on flat ground and many areas ignited whole streets full of houses. Everything burned to the ground.

Most people were able to flee in time and get to safety, but there were some lives lost., 40 people perished. Those who lived in hillside areas had to flee the raging fires all around. Calistoga, the Mill Valley, Napa, the Sonoma coast, Santa Rosa--all had great losses of homes and vehicles. The world had turned to rubble on once peaceful, pretty streets. Some got out with only the clothes they had on. Everything else was lost. More education and planning plus a dose of science could help us figure out better materials for building homes and public buildings. We all need to be better educated about safety issues, planning escape routes, better communications during disasters and so on. Ultimately we’re all responsible for doing all we can to stay safe wherever we live. We must know by now that nature cannot truly be tamed.

After a lot of arguments pro and con it seems that permission has been granted to build more housing for the Santa Clarita area. The housing will be along Highway 126, which runs from Santa Clarita to the beaches of Ventura. It’s an agricultural area with a river that runs through it. It’s a busy highway so if thousands of houses are built it will become very busy, very crowded and just another suburban enclave. Yes, taxes will be collected but it will just increase the congestion on most Southern California freeways, highways. The people who make money from all this growth want it to continue forever. California will become even more frantic, never tranquil.

It reminds me that there are folks who want to tear down the cement in the L.A. river and want to see it return to a bucolic easy moving river for recreation. They want to float boats and have kids splash in the water. It’s all a lovely idea paid for by taxpayers. However, just a few days ago, the Daily News reported that the nonprofit group, Heal the Bay, reported that people should avoid the river because there was a high level of bacteria in the water. “Avoid getting water in the mouth or on any wounds. “ Why can’t people leave things alone? The “river” is lined with cement and fences because its purpose is to catch runoff from rainstorms and deliver it to the ocean. Some people jump in it when it rains hard, thinking they can play in it. Some homeless people camp out there with their dogs and of course they need to be rescued. Why can’t the flood channel stay a flood channel? Some things serve us well and should be left alone.

When all is said and done all humans want more attention. Couples want more attention from each other, children want more attention from their parents, workers want more attention and praise from their boss, older folks want more attention from their children, so it all goes around. People need to be recognized, appreciated and praised when it’s warranted. In that sense, we’re all little kids.

Hang in there.

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“If we Americans are to survive it will have to be because we choose and elect and defend to be first of all Americans; to present to the world one homogeneous and unbroken front.” William Faulkner, American poet, novelist (1958) Sept. 25, 1897-July 6, 1962

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October 2017

The year is nearly over and we’ve come to the age of blue plastic tarps. Turn on the TV and the devastation from hurricanes and ferocious amounts of water flooding the southern U.S. states and islands of the Caribbean is almost unbelievable. Houston was deluged with water and soon small boats were seen on TV going down neighborhood streets looking for people to rescue. We saw all this during the Katrina hurricane hitting New Orleans a few years ago. The blue tarps come out as people try to stay dry, protect whatever meager belongings remain.

I watched quite a lot of the disasters on TV and I wondered how anybody could get through these horrendous experiences. How do you hold on to hope? Hope almost feels like a useless emotion. People just have to keep going, follow what the professional rescuers tell them to do. It’s especially hard as people look at their destroyed homes and all the photos, scrapbooks and mementos of their lives are a big, wet mess. It looks like big, metropolitan areas are going to have to do more to protect people during natural disasters. More money will have to be collected from all citizens to deal with these catastrophic events.

My understanding is that one reason there was so much flooding in Houston was because a lot of housing was built on a long-ago flood plain. In California we have lots of housing near earthquake fault lines. Scientists can pinpoint with good accuracy where these fault lines are and we can get a bit of warning when a quake will happen. Still, a lot of old buildings are not safe and are still housing a lot of people. People love California and will stay here, earthquakes be damned.

Some folks in Florida were rather casual about the hurricane coming to their peninsula.. They love the sea, some lived on their boats, others made their living with their boats. When the storm arrived it was bigger than anyone expected or prepared for. The future will bring more thoughtful planning and of course, more money for recovery efforts. There are always lessons to be learned from these experiences but people, especially Americans, think that everything will work out, eventually. We have a belief that our government will be able to take care of everyone.

After all of this, Mexico was struck by a powerful earthquake in the center of the capital. Buildings fell, pan-caked upon themselves, trapping people inside. The impulse to rescue was immediate, especially when a school was affected. Men with shovels and pick axes attacked buildings that had been built with machines. Some people were saved but too many perished in the mountains of rubble. Mexico has been through this before but it’s still always a surprise when it happens.

The latest disaster happened on the island of Puerto Rico, which was literally pounded to rubble by hurricane force rain and wind. Roofs were peeled away, buildings tattered, rain flooded streets and buildings across the island of around 3.4 million American citizens. Some may not know it, but Puerto Ricans are considered American citizens. Their homes, roads, schools, businesses, hospitals and infrastructures have been ruined. The airport is damaged but planes can take off and land so the National Guard has arrived and more personnel and supplies are arriving.

A leader, General Russell Honore is in Puerto Rico now and he’s complaining loud and clear about the lack of coordination between the island and the White House. He’s angry, yet ready to work to get things done, cleaned up. He’s the man who brought some sense of order in New Orleans during the Katrina catastrophe. He’s angry at what he found on the island. He wants order, safety, lines of communication to work among the citizens and those there to help. General Honore’s wrath is with those who are slow to act, slow to understand the enormity of the damage.

The response to the destruction of Puerto Rico seemed slow, especially to people who had no running water, gasoline, food, shelter. As the days passed it did seem pretty careless on the part of the head of the USA. President Trump seemed not as interested, not as involved. However he did seem very interested in the football players who decided not to stand for the flag and “Star Spangled Banner.” Some players did stand, while other knelt down on the grass field. One team owner was shown kneeling among his players. Here’s what I think about all this; these men are grown adults, able to decide for themselves what hey want to do. They are separate human beings who have the right to take a stand on an issue that is important to them. They are not beholden to a President’s opinion about how they should behave. They are Americans and we are all free to make choices about certain things. We are not free to injure others, demean others, lie or steal from others.

Each of us decides what our philosophy of life is, what we support and what we won’t support. Americans are (in general) kind, generous, optimistic and forward thinking. How did we get that way? Daily observation of our teachers, neighbors, military, police forces, leaders and of course observing what our parents, our families honored and supported. Lucky for us, we have a real “optimistic” bent. We think we can help, so men and women go to areas of need, whether it’s an island, or a pile of rubble in Mexico. We are independent and strong. We do think that we can help because we have the resources to help. We have the energy and the resources to try. On TV I watched a group of L.A. fire fighters who were packing up to go to Texas. They were going to drive their rigs there and stay as long as they could help.

Our President seems to have a hard heart, an empty heart. He’s so quick to criticize, to mock, to sneer at those who don’t follow his lead. He’s expecting absolute obedience from those around him. But the more he pushes, the more people turn away. He eventually stands alone. He cajoles, sneers, belittles those who defy him or disappoint him in any way. He has a long way to go to earn the respect hr thinks he’s owed. He’s not royalty, not a king. Right now, he acts like a dictator, chastising something or someone frequently. He is a bully, plain and simple. A man who thinks humiliating people is his right. With millions of people in need of everything all around, he decides that he needs to scold the players of the NFL. The NFL is a billion dollar enterprise and they don’t need the President to tell them what to do. It’s none of his business.

It would appear that Washington is not in good hands. The health care in place, Obamacare, is something the President wanted to end. Three Republicans voted against killing “Obamacare,” defying the President’s wishes. Well, President Trump does seem to target certain policies and he rails against them. But, obviously others don’t agree with him and vote as they wish. He calls the leader of North Korea “little rocket man” and promised a “devastating military option” if he didn’t stop testing missiles. The man is a dictator with total control of his country but our President himself often acts like a dictator.

The news on TV has just reported that Tom Price, the head of Health & Human Services has been giddy with all the traveling he’s been doing lately. He preferred private airplanes and really piled on the miles in a very short time. Apparently he flew to Nashville to have lunch with his son! At a cost of $17,000! Yikes, that’s greedy. Some have estimate that he used up nearly a million dollars worth of “air time.” He was willing to write a check for around $50,000 to repay the tax payers. His poor judgment has caused the President to accept his resignation today. The Office of the Budget is going to investigate all the use of government and private airplanes for travel by elected officials. It’s about time!

Speaking of traveling, it seems to me that the President is always going somewhere. He travels a lot to rallies of his followers and to play golf and of course to overseas visits. I think he’s in love with the Presidential plane himself. It’s a rather ceremonial event, when he boards he gets a snappy salute from one or two airmen standing by. By the way, the plane is spectacular. If anyone is interested, the very impressive airplane used by President Reagan can be seen at his library in Simi Valley and visitors can walk through it.

What happens in the USA does concern me and I‘m compelled to write about it. This is our world and as a very wealthy and powerful country we need to be aware of what goes on in the world. We cannot solve all the problems in the world but we wouldn’t be such a unique country id we didn’t show concern.

Hang in there.

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“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the one thing left to us in a bad time.”
E.B.White, author, essayist, poet
July 11, 1899-October 1, 1985

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