Monday, August 29, 2016



For those of you who -- like me -- wonder (quoting a candidate) "what the hell is going on" this political season should read a book called "The Loudest Voice in the Room" by Gabe Sherman.

This is a link to a review of the book by the Washington Post. Before you jump to conclusions, the book is heavily annotated & researched.

I think it puts in perspective some of what's going on this political season and provides some directly relatable history.

Lest you think I am one sided. I also read an 'authorized' bio on Donald Trump called "TrumpNation" & Carl Bernstein's exhaustive bio on Hillary Clinton titled "A Woman in Charge".

None of these books were complimentary.

Then there is an excellent book written just after the Nixon election called "The Selling of the President" by Joe McGinnis.

All of these books accurately reflect this election season & are worth your time if you are a serious voter although I'm sure some will argue that one could be a serious voter w/o reading them.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Privilege, Pathology and Power

January 1, 2016

Wealth can be bad for your soul. That’s not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it’s a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder. [...]

Just to be clear, the biggest reason to oppose the power of money in politics is the way it lets the wealthy rig the system and distort policy priorities. [...]

[...] it’s not trivial. Oligarchy, rule by the few, also tends to become rule by the monstrously self-centered. Narcisstocracy? Jerkigarchy? Anyway, it’s an ugly spectacle [...]


Friday, August 19, 2016

ORWELL's 1984? NOPE. REAGAN'S 1986 [A Magazine article]

[...] The INS’ multi-pronged proposals left little to the imagination, offering two options: a “general registry” and “limited targeting.” In its general registry scenario, the State Department would “invalidate the visas of all nonimmigrants” of the targeted nationalities, “using that as the first step to initiate a wholesale registry and processing procedure.” In its limited targeting scenario, the Investigations Division imagined a series of eight steps to expedite the deportation of the targeted nationalities. One was an executive order, requiring the FBI and CIA to share data with INS to locate alien undesirables and suspected terrorists. Another expanded the legal definition of international terrorism as a deportable offense; to speed the process, the measure would circumvent “proposed rule-making procedures, as a matter of national security.” The INS recommended holding aliens without bond, excluding the public from the deportation proceedings and convincing immigration judges to agree to those terms by referencing classified evidence. [...]


Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Seriously, folks:

Can you imagine Mr. Trump sitting through meeting after meeting in the oval office or situation room, listening to all the principals offer their opinions on some issue?

Do you really think he wants to work 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week except for a few days of golf while under constant scrutiny?

Do you think he's going to read reams of position papers on various issues around the world day after day; even after his 14 hour day in the Oval ends?

How do you think he's going to react when the SS says, sorry Mr. President, it'll take a week to organize your security for your trip to Atlantic City to speak to the Chamber of Commerce about jobs.

Whether you agree with his random thoughts on governing or not -- just as a personality -- do you think this is a guy who is emotionally / constitutionally suited for the constant meetings & discussions as the chief executive of the united States?

What happens the day he gets bored and just wants to have fun? Will Donald be able to be Donald? I don't think he will be able to be true to himself in the Oval Office. It's a gilded cage.

Not being in total control will frustrate him. Although he might enjoy the perceived power, he will not enjoy the job.

Even if Hillary was the only un-trustworthy alternative, one could at least imagine her wonkishness fitting in better.

And there are alternatives.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


For all the people who chant USA! USA! USA! (a sentiment I share), I wish they would put the USA! before political affiliation. That doesn't mean voting for Hillary. There are other choices.

When the SCOTUS took on the state's rights case and decided the election in Bush v Gore, that exalted institution became a political football with feet of clay. Sadly, we see how well that has worked out. 

When a presidential candidate suggests that the elections are rigged, it could set in motion a national loss of confidence in another pillar of our democracy. This is not good for the USA! 

Win or lose, this guy -- Trump -- will do just fine.

If he loses, he has managed to further his brand, build a bigger customer base for his products and has set in motion a multi-million dollar opportunity in communications, i.e. television and cable. Think Trump TV. Good for him. Could that have been the backup plan all along? Who knows.

If he wins, well.....I don't believe it will be good for the USA!

Maybe it's time to rethink "The Manchurian Candidate".

Thursday, July 14, 2016

In Response to Ruth Bader Ginsberg's Comments on Donald Trump's Candidacy

I think SCOTUS let the cat out of the bag when they took on the state's right issue of Bush v Gore. I don't say this as a Gore or Bush supporter. I do say it as a citizen who was once relieved that ONE government institution never got into politics publically. Now it's NOTHING BUT politics from judicial hearings to this situation. It's a shame & IMO a danger to a country that prides itself on believing in the RULE OF LAW.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Excerpted from the NYT 6/17/2016

"When Dr. Joseph Ibrahim heard that the attack at the Pulse nightclub may have been linked to terrorism, he caught himself fearing any kind of link to his own Muslim, Middle-Eastern roots.

Ibrahim, who heads the trauma unit at Orlando Regional Medical Center, spent hours repairing gunshot wounds in the bodies of Latino men and women, many of whom were the sons and daughters of immigrants, too. 

Yanked from bed at 2:15 a.m., he was doing what he had trained for. But it was hard to escape the pairing: the son of one Muslim immigrant from the Middle East trying to save the lives of mostly gay Latinos whom another son of Muslim immigrants tried to kill, all in a chunk of verdant Florida built on Disney joy."

Saturday, June 04, 2016


Why did presidential candidate Donald Trump point to 'my african american' in the CA crowd gathered on a tarmac to hear him speak on June 3rd, 2016? I thought the 'my' african american days were over. Disgusted.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

ATTENTION WORDMEISTERS, butchering the English language

News reporter: Donald Trump has completely precluded having a debate with Bernie Sanders. (A PLEONASM, not an OXYMORON)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A 240 Year Old Doll That Can Write

The Writer Automaton, Switzerland

A 240 year old doll that can write, a clockwork creation by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a Swiss watchmaker. The doll is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long, and it uses a goose feather to write, which he inks from time to time, including a shake of the wrist to prevent ink from spilling. His eyes follow the text being written, and the head moves when he takes some ink. You can view this doll in person at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland.

Video by BBC and lesterfontayne

Monday, April 11, 2016

First Row, Second from the Left, to my Left: Claudia Robbins Circa 1956. Claudia, Where are You? :-)

Also Hjalmar F, Diane F, Idalia O, Ricardo dlT, Frances S, Paul B, Paul B, Lynn S, Alma R, Diane B, Sonia A

Friday, April 08, 2016


From the very beginning of this national political season I have focused on two campaigns: Trump & Sanders.

Both campaigns represent large swaths of Americans -- of all stripes -- who are fed up with their representatives because they don't feel they are being represented.

It harkens back to our history when we had a revolution centered on taxation without representation.

Between gerrymandered districts, a lack of congressional term limits, big money & special interest lobbyists, the feeling is that our political representatives are now out of touch with their electorates and, instead, representing their own interests.

These 'representatives' set their own schedule, salaries and benefits. In short, their own jobs as permanent members of an unforeseen political class, have taken priority over their representative duties. As a result, the structure appears stacked against the vast majority of our fellow citizens.

Of course, Sanders & Trump followers take different tracts and generally have different styles but their message, not their would-be policies, are the same.

I find it fascinating how these two political extremes could have the same message. To me it's a tell tale sign of general unrest.

On April 4th I heard Bernie Sanders take a page out Donald Trump's play book on the NBC Today Show. When asked about his statement that he didn't believe Hillary Clinton was qualified to be president, Bernie answered: "she started it". I was disappointed with the infantilism but, clearly, 'the Donald' doesn't have exclusivity in that department.

Add to the aforementioned frustrations, we now see a situation unfolding on the Republican side (and no doubt on the Democratic side with super delegates and other elements of the party apparatus) whereby 112 individuals, selected by the GOP political apparatchiks, set the rules of the convention. And they can do whatever they want.

In 2012, the convention operated under the 'Romney rules'. What are they going to be called this year? More important, I always thought that rules were rules and something that didn't change on political winds. So, do our primary votes REALLY count? I think that's in doubt.

When I hear reports that candidates on both sides have hired "operatives" to corral delegates, I think of a Tom Cruise movie or a Tom Clancy novel, rather than an exercise in true democracy.

So do we have a true representative democracy? Again, I think it may be in doubt and I believe we need some serious consideration about how we govern ourselves going forward. To me, it sometimes feels like a country with a politburo electing a presidential candidate rather than an idealized America where one wo/man, one vote supposedly 'trumps' ;) everything.

Of course, one major difference is that we normally have a choice between two candidates, instead of rubber stamping the politburo's choice. And I'm grateful for that choice but I think the dream of the founding fathers, who created our style of democracy, with so many checks and balances, is slowly slipping away from the people, and is sliding, permanently, to special interests.

What we are witnessing in this political season is that realization. It has activated 'revolutionaries' in both political parties who want to change the national course and discourse. However, it will require many more citizens to become involved in the political process to spur those changes.

I am a concerned citizen.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Letter to the Editor - Selectmen Cave...... Again

Ridgefield Press, March 24, 2016

At their March 8th meeting, the Selectmen dodged their Charter responsibility by not making a recommendation on the requested 5.72% education budget increase. The Selectmen folded to political pressure from a special interest group representing 20% of our Ridgefield community. 

What ruffles my feathers is that we elect these people to make balanced decisions that affect the entire community. So did they?

Sort-of. By recommending that the mill rate not exceed 3.5%, they were saying that the BoE request was too high.

The question has now moved to the Board of Finance and they should have lots of pointed questions.

I re-read a letter-to-the-editor from 2004. The BoE and it's supporters made the same arguments then: state mandates, special ed, DRG, falling behind and real estate values. 

To begin: real estate values have fallen precipitously since 2004 despite steady increases to the BoE budget year after year -- mostly to support a larger school bureaucracy, more hires, a larger head count. Does this have a familiar ring to it?

About $800,000 of this year's school budget goes to training teachers. Are we hiring the right teachers? I don't understand why the teachers don't contribute to this training.

Nevertheless, over the years, nothing much has changed scholastically in special ed or standard ed. Yet this year the town has cut almost $1,000,000 in the highway department budget and will most likely be expected to cut planned fire fighters. These cuts will affect all of us in order to satisfy an insatiable 20% of the community. Is that a balanced approach?

The town's books are audited annually. Connecticut has an education auditing department. How about using it, Board of Ed? Let's make sure the kids are getting the benefits, not the bureaucracy.

From a strong proponent of great education.

Jan Rifkinson
New Road

Friday, February 26, 2016

Enough Said

Gravitas -- What's That?

Whatever happened to the word "gravitas"? I haven't heard it used once this political season. Is there any wonder?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Born Feb 25th, 1999 -- Stella Bella, My Littlest Bouvier

Sunday afternoon, Sun Feb/21/2016. Dr. Dale Krier is gone. Stella is gone. Ziggy is Prince of the hill. I'm still King.

Meet Dr. Gail Krier, an ironic name given her specialty: mobile geriatric and end-of-life veterinary care. Ziggy liked her when she came to visit Sunday, five days before Stella Bella's 17th birthday.  


Around noon, Saturday, February 20th, Stella came trudging into the kitchen which meant she wanted to go out so I opened the door, watched her stretch, look around somewhat casually, then carefully amble down the 2 shallow steps onto the grass. She liked to make this trip by herself so I usually followed her progress through the windows. For some reason, I didn't this time. 

Stella's walk was a short one: after bathroom activities, taking a left, walking along the side of the house, another left, up the terrace steps, back into the house. This does not take long. Sometimes, along the way, she would stop to bark at the neighbor's black, midget dog. Otherwise it was an uneventful little stroll. 

But when I sensed this day's trip was taking a little too long, I went out to find her standing unsteadily, dazed, facing the wrong direction, lost, swaying from front to back. Clearly she had had some kind of catastrophic episode. Heart attack? Stroke? Brain tumor? A week ago, her blood values had been perfect. 

Not wanting to startle her, I approached her sideways until I was able to reach out & touch her. Somewhere in her depths, despite her condition, she seemed to recognize me. I could swear I saw a sigh of relief. 

I attached Stella's black and white polka dot lead, and ever so gently, led her onto the right path. She followed me into house, to her safe spot where I sat on the sofa right next to it. This usually comforted her enough so she would lie down.... which she did, in slow motion, onto her side, falling into a deep sleep. 

Hours later, her body clock announced it was feeding time & Stella came to the kitchen, very weak & limping badly. But she refused food & water. She refused a pain pill wrapped in smelly, delicious, Boar's Head genoa salami -- sliced thin. So I reversed her path where I sat on the sofa again & Stella lay down again. There I remained. There she remained. 

Through tears, I grew to accept that this was to be the end so I left a message for Dr. Krier, notifying her of Stella's situation and, via text messaging, we decided that, since Stella was resting comfortably and apparently not suffering, we would wait for the morning unless there was an emergency. 

I spent the night with Stella, checking on her condition many times during the night. Her breathing was so shallow. 

5:45am, Sunday, February 21st: Ziggy wanted to go out so I took him for a quick walk while Stella snoozed. But on my return, I found Stella standing blank & lost just a few feet from her safe space. Again her internal clock told her it was time to go out. But she couldn't make it so I coaxed her back to her padded area where we both remained until Dr. Krier arrived later in the morning. 

When Dale (Dr. Krier) arrived, after hugs, we sat around and talked; everyone knowing what was before us. She pointed out what a blessing it was when our canine friends let us know it was their time, making it easier for us to do what we had to do. I suppose but it is still tough. 

I remember the first time Truman & I met Stella with Kathy Dawson in Baltimore MD. Stella was terribly shy. Constantly anxious, it seemed we could never make her feel totally safe even over the ten years she was with us.

At first, she buried her biscuits for a later snack when no one was looking. She hollowed out spaces behind bushes around the house where she could hide. All her life with us (starting at age 7) and continuing for the next 10 years, she always required a safe space; a crate, a corner, a sofa. When, finally, she couldn't jump any more, we spread towels & pads & blankets on the floor between the sofas where she would feel safe and that's where she lived for the last two years. 

Stella never played, never wagged her tail, never kissed, never walked toward me but I could always count on her being behind me. 

She never took treats from strangers & towards the end, even required that I put treats on the floor for her to pick up at her leisure. From the start, Sophie always respected Stella but Ziggy got his 'what for' when he got too frisky with her. Sometimes she barked at a stranger approaching the house -- usually me. I'd like to think it was a happy, welcoming bark but I doubt it.  

Stella never got over the traumas from the first six years of life -- whatever they were. I'm told she was used as a brood bitch in a Missouri puppy mill. Supposedly, she birthed 6 litters and the only time I saw her really excited was when a vet tech friend stopped by with her rescued Chihuahua and Stella thought it was a puppy. 

But she traveled with me to Bouvstock & other Bouvier events where she never let me out of her sight. She hiked with me & Sophie in Ridgefield's parks -- Sophie leading, Stella following.  

She joined us at restaurants with outdoor venues for lunches or dinners. She hung out with me when I dipped my toe into local politics and ran for selectman. She helped me hand out pamphlets in front of Stop 'n Shop. She got used to riding in the car after a rough start of peeing & drooling on the back seat. She loved the snow. 

In the ten years she was with us, I never heard her whine or cry out in pain. She never demanded anything of us. But we tried our best to give her everything we could. I hope now, finally, she's at peace. I know her official kennel name but I prefer to think of her simply as 

Stella Bella  
Feb 25, 1999 - Feb 21, 2016