I’M So Discouraged

In my 83 years, during 60 of which I was not just politically aware but politically inquisitive, and I have been on every continent except Australia and the Antarctica. 
I have seen corruption in nations, US states, and I have known a Congressman who accepted bribes, so I had a pretty good feel of government corruption. 

I have seen corruption in Japan, and the Philippines, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and…

We all know from our history that cities like Chicago, Newark, and Biloxi were corrupt, and states like Illinois, Louisiana and New Jersey were corrupt to the bone. Hawaii is almost in a space by itself.

What I never accepted was that our national political machinery was corrupt. I now believe that our national political system is absolutely as corrupt as almost any other process I have seen.

It is not just the FBI absolving Hillary of security breaches that would have incarcerated me as a Submarine officer handling Top Secret messages, but I further believe that the fix was set when Bill Clinton had an unannounced “chance” meeting in that Arizona airport hangar.

No one has explained that meeting. I believe Bill Clinton convinced the Attorney General to spike the FBI investigation because it would cause serious disruption to an election. I believe that FBI Director Comer decided that rather than risk chaos, he would give the American enough information to defeat Hillary without directly interfering with the process.

The coverup continues to this day, with Judicial Watch prying hidden e-mails grudgingly from the State Department., and the Department of Justice running interference. The corruption in the IRS was visibly apparent to even the most casual observer (remember the name Lois Lerner?), and, by itself, would not have brought my opinion of corruption, but from the IRS, to the VA, to the e-mail scandal with immunity being handed out like candy, to the DOJ investigation of the Wall Street — with no one ever being indicted, jailed or fired…

If I had previously believed the government was corrupt to the bone, I could not have served in the Navy beginning at age 17, and for 26 years.

My government is corrupt. 

I hate to believe it…but I do. 

It’s Fixed!

About the debates…
I don’t care! I am 83 and I can’t afford to waste 90 minutes, and even if I could, I wouldn’t 

So I didn’t. Not one mind was changed, and it would not not surprise me that it was not designed that way.

No, no conspiracy theory about the people involved today. The Debate Commission was started by the Democratic and Republican political parties in 1988 to foster the Democratic and Republican parties, and while there was no outward design to keep minor political parties as minor parties.

There is a general thought that this nation doesn’t want to fall into the European model of tens of political parties, so the Commission set an arbitrary of 15% in the polls but the result is that even Ross Perot couldn’t qualify for the stage…and he eventually got 19% in the general election.

The co-chairs of the Commission are former executives in the two major political parties, as if that doesn’t tell you that it is an arm of those political parties. 

It’s insane. The Libertarian Party is qualified in every state, and that is a chore getting on the ballot in 50 states. That makes a lot more sense than setting an arbitrary rule of 15% of arbitrary national polls. 

Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party should have been on the debate stage if for no other reason than the two major political parties managed to nominate two of the most deservedly reviled and hated individuals since the Japanese soldier in WWII.

AT least in Johnson, an audience could hear an opinion other than the canned answers to each position that everyone has heard a hundred times from each nominee.

Then I’ll tune in.

Not Really A Baseball Column!

I have great hopes (finally) for the San Diego Padres, and it has little to do with their abysmal baseball play.
The Padres have brought up some terrific talent from their league-leading Pacific Coast League team, the Chihuahuas from El Paso. They are young, fast, have canons for arms, and can hit a ton!

But their physical attributes are not the reason I think the Padres may fare better for the next few years, no, it has to do with their present and past experiences.

How would you like to sidle up to a blond in a bar, all full of yourself and tell that blonde that you are a professional baseball player, but when she asks, “what team(?), you answer, “the Chihuahuas.”

That is a night-ending answer! As bad as the Padres are, answering the Padres beats Chihuahuas all hollow!

Now, the second reason is El Paso.

Ever been to El Paso? No one EVER wants to leave San Diego to go to El Paso! A player will even listen to their coaches, get to the ballpark early, and stay out of the bars to stay in San Diego!

Forget the difference between PETCO Park (voted the best ballpark in the Major Leagues) and whatever exists in El Paso, forget the difference in salary, forget the difference between travel by air and by bus…all important, to be sure, but…

Just think af going back to the Chihuahuas, in El Paso!

Terrorism Reaction Helps Trump

Those Muslim extremists are going to elect Trump all by themselves, as the nation reacts to small, but continuing acts of terrorism — not out of fear, but anger.
And the anger is not just directed at those who came here voluntarily and bite the hand that feeds them, but at government response, as in immigration. Immigration has many moving parts, some good, some bad.

Immigration, is further bifurcated into legal and illegal. Illegal is even again bifurcated into those who come across a border without official notice, and those who came here on a college or a shopping visa and “overstayed.”

You know all that. You also know that Europe is suffering badly and yet they refuse because of overblown concepts of multiculturalism and diversity. We have bought into that failing concept, albeit in a minor key. One of the driving forces behind BREXIT was trying to escape the EU suicidal mode of immigration.

The world is in chaos, and those who offer the chance that they know the way out of the chaos will get a following. The greater the chaos, and the closer to the election, the more likely that the population will run to the sound of a more certain trumpet.

In a more perfect world, a Know-Nothing like Trump would be opposed by a a more trustworthy candidate who had something more to offer than just more of the same of an obviously failed policy

Great TV Watching

My poor DVR is filled with “American Pickers,”
 I mean 63 hours of the History channel’s great reality show — a couple of guys that “buy junk and sell antiques.” They pick through hoarders and collectors — then sell in their antique stores.

Most “Reality Shows” are completely inane, but American Pickers is different. 

My Caregiver touted this show to us because our house furniture is strictly family and 1800s, so we obviously are into antiques, and this is right down our alley, but there must have been a lack of good TV material…we would watch three, and the recorder would record five more! Pretty soon, we couldn’t keep up!

I love them, but I hope bad weather comes quickly (not really) so I can do six a day and start getting ahead.

I learn from it. First, I see collections of antique bicycles, motorcycles, car parts, movie parts, and beautifully restored cars — and rusty cars you wouldn’t look at, but they have, or know where to find, the missing parts! There are collectors throughout the US, and they “pick” the barns or catacombs of Italy.

I was in TV, both a CEO in Los Angeles, and as “talent” with a few of my friends. We had a weekly TV show on Time-Warner and Cox, called “On Edge,” modeled after “Crossfire,” and we were a finalist for the Cable Ace Award. We proposed a different kind of show to the Discovery Channel. I still think would be a winner, but alas. It rose to their Top Five for several years, but never was funded.

Come to think of it, I could use a lot less politics. Just to show you how much I hate politics right now, and the choices available, my last few published newspaper columns have been about technology and education. 

TV is such a wasteland. American Pickers is some redemption. Heck, today on their Facebook page I saw a weathervane in a house as decoration — both my garden and my home have been converted to Kauai, and last week I added a 100 year old weathervane I scored from Kauai! That may come inside from my garden. (Or on a cupola I am looking at in American Pickers inventory. They paid $200.)

Now, about those three-wheel 1850 British Invalid Chairs, that were pushed in Bath, England by a Manservant….

Hypocrisy, Exposed

So let me tell you how my very liberal Submarine Commanding Officer banned me from discussing politics in the Wardroom — a ban he unjoyously retracted after a couple of weeks.
So, we are on the surface storming (16 knots) from submerged patrol near Hainan Island, enroute to Hong Kong — and hating every second of topside watches, because our submerged weeks in the South China Sea, grew tons of undersea growth, which smelled to high heaven as it died in the heat of the sun.

I looked forward to meeting my wife in Hong Kong. Since submarines were notorious for being diverted from scheduled ports and redirected to other ports, the guy who directed all covert submarines in the Pacific, Cdr. Pete Bucher, (later to be captured as the CO of the ill-fated USS Pueblo (AGER-2)), called my wife at 2am San Diego, to confirm at the last second that we would not get diverted. (He said, A-OK, and hung up!

As the designated “Wardroom Needle,” I was busy needling the very liberal Commanding Officer, slowly, day after day. “I’ll just bet, Skipper, that you really support child labor laws?” 

I then suffered quietly through many minutes of the advantages of child labor laws and their humane intent.

Next, I queried him about his position on retirement, minimum wage laws, working conditions, etc.

Just before we arrived in Hong Kong, I told him that I would be going to the tailoring shop to Her Majesty the Queen and having an entire wardrobe designed for my wife, soup to nuts, while he supervised the crew scraping the smelly barnacles, and he roared that he too would be buying at the same shop, while Mary Soo’s girls scraped the hull and repainted it.

I reminded him that Mary Soo’s girls worked for the leftovers from our crew’s meals, no minimum wages there! Too all extents, they worked for slop, fairly high-class slop to be sure, still…

And I reminded him that Hong Kong of the day, under British rule, had no child labor laws, no government welfare, no retirement for the elderly, no…

…and our shoes ($9 a pair, custom), would be glued and stitched by seven year old children, and our suits and wive’s custom Cashmere coats would be silk lined, cut and sewn by 80 year old women…

And my CO, said, “Hemphill, I won’t put you in Hack because Jean if flying in, but you are banned from discussing politics in this Wardroom!”

By the time we left Hong Kong, he had relented. But we both understood…

THE Threat!

I don’t pretend to understand North Korea, but I was inexorably attached to it man and boy, from getting three Battle Stars, a US Presidential Unit Citation and Korean Unit Citation in 1951 (Korean War), to working to get the crew of the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) returned after their seizure at sea, as spokesman for the family of that ship’s Skipper, Cdr. “Pete” Bucher.
I even had a chance after the release of the Crew to step across the line at Panmunjom under the angry gaze of the NK Guards, on a day that the US was in charge of the table. I got to stand at the head of the table in NK territory.

So, North Korea and I have had several intersections. I don’t pretend to understand anything about them, and anyone who says they do, is lying. We can describe them only from our Western frame of reference, and nothing in the literature or experience exactly describes a combination of paranoia, extremely low self esteem, dictatorship, and protection by China can give a tiny, insecure region.

One thing that is easy to understand is their desire to secure atomic weapons – – it feeds their low self esteem. It protects their nation from potential invasion, though none is a potential. Still a nation with “The Bomb” can pull on their Big Boy Pants every morning.

So, why not a preemptive strike? Well, for one, about 1,000 artillery pieces within range of downtown Seoul, so if they just get off a few rounds each before they are destroyed, Seoul will be a flaming wreck. The loss of life in Seoul will be enormous, and the NK Army will overrun the South like a human wave. They have experience in quickly invading the South.

Only the use of US Nuclear weapons in the North to destroy their atomic arsenal, their missiles, AND their army will do the job, and no American president has had the will. Every president for the past five has kicked the can down the road hoping, (and that’s what it is “hoping,) that a new and more enlightened ruler would appear.

It has gotten worse through each US Administration, and the threat has increased through each administration. Of course not every nation with an atomic weapon is a threat.

North Korea, is.

Next Man Up

The football rankings are out and Navy is ranked 46, just behind USC.
But that isn’t the story. No, the story is Tago Smith, the ultra patient Quarterback but very talented Quarterback for Navy. He was backup for Keenan Reynolds, Navy’s record setting scoring demon. (88 college touchdowns.)

Finally on his own, Tago Smith and with acknowledged talent, he tore his ACL in the very first game he Quarterbacked, last week against Fordham. His season is over, and so is his college career. Surprisingly, Navy only dropped two places on Tago’s injury. 

It’s “next man up.”

Unless, Navy does what many teams are allowed to do, play a “fifth year.” In Tago’s case it’s really a fourth year, but he will have graduated. Navy has never played a man who has graduated because he is supposed to be in the fleet, but as a humanitarian move…

National University — A Success Story

The closure of ITT Technical school sort of hit me.
I am certain that the closure is warranted, but I recall the start of National University — because for years I was the president of the Alumni Association, and a Core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science in its transition period.

The start of the University, now recognized as a fine university, was books sold from the trunk of the Founder’s car on Rosecrans Street, in the 1970s by Founder, David Chigos. By the time I joined as a professor, about 1984, I knew that the transition was underway when I saw a Marine at the soda machine, who obviously was a serious Gym Rat. His T-Shirt read, “Kill Them All (Let God sort it out),” but his conversation with a buddy was about the opposing views of Aristotle and Plato.

I did a silent, “Yes!”

At the time, or shortly thereafter that the fledgling university was placed on probation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) — actually I wondered why National had even applied to the Gold Standard of Accreditation instead of a lesser group, but it signaled the University was stretching.

They were, and slowly they attained the highest accreditation the Western States group offers, a six year accreditation! The WASC is the entity that gives accreditation to Stanford University and it had the Stanford had the same six years accreditation.

Damn good for a university started out of the trunk of a car! Along the way, the university not just stretched academically, in 1988 they hired the president (Dr. Jerry C. Lee) of the acclaimed University for the Deaf in Washington, Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. That was HUGE, because to give him his due although, we had differences, he was almost singularly responsible for the turnaround. No one else could have done it! Dr. Lee not only had the academic view, he had worked as an Accountant with General Motors, so he knew numbers.

National University is one of the city’s worst known success stories. 25,000 students in the second largest non-profit school of higher education in the state.

NU deserves better.

In The Race to the Bottom, It’s a tie

Well, the political polls are tightening in the race to the bottom.
I just hope that Trump, should he win, doesn’t think he is beloved, because he is running against the single most lying, criminal, and devious candidate since her husband, Slick Willie. The Democrats are notorious for electing crooks, some of whom are elected while serving prison sentences.

But Trump, in this race among the most disliked candidates, appears to be taking advantage of the known and suspected criminal elements of her campaign. Each candidate has been holding on, trying to avoid too many unforced errors while waiting for the other candidate to implode.

Today, Hillary is imploding faster, but is just one turn of the hour hand and Trump will replace her. Trump keeps trying to give the presidency away, but Hillary can’t hold it.

The Republicans will have more trouble repairing the Party regardless. The Democrats have a great deal more tolerance for crooks. They almost venerate them. It’s greater than simple tolerance.