Fake, fake, fake!

Donald Trump made the first splash in his campaign for President with a “fake news” story that Obama was not born in America. Now he and his supporters cry, “Fake News!” at any reporting not favorable to him or his message, particularly in regard to the Russian involvement in his campaign. Looking past the tacit racism underlying the questioning of Obama’s “Americaness”, the claim of fake news has become a political tool to confound and confuse public perception of what may or may not be factual. A truthful evaluation of the Republican effort to Repeal and Replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act would term it the Fake Health Care Act in its denial of quality health care for those less fortunate, which also exposes the Fake Christianity of Republican politicians who choose to ignore the teachings of the Beatitudes. Through it all, it reveals that Donald Trump is a truly Fake Savior of America’s Greatness.

Robert Porath

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Education

To the Editor:
    Up until Ronald Reagan was elected Governor, public education through college was free for any citizen of California.  One could call it socialist education, an entitlement program that benefited anyone wishing to become better educated.  As the “Question Authority” and Free Speech movements and the anti-Viet Nam war protests grew on college campuses, the Conservative sentiment became “education is not for the masses” and must be relegated to a select few, easily manageable and fully buying into the status quo and America’s self-image, and the push has been to render higher education increasingly more expensive and privatized.  What better way to ensure compliant behavior is there than to have everyone indebted to the financial industries?  There is a lot of braggadocio about the “freedoms” inherent in capitalism, but being constantly indentured, be it to a bank or, for that matter, to “must-have” telecommunication services, does not seem much like true freedom. The great irony is that the emphasis on the monetary value of education, in reality, only cheapens its true value, both to an individual and to society at large.  Call it socialism, if you must, but like healthcare and retirement planning, education should not be placed so heavily under the thumb of for-profit institutions.
– RP

Elderly Care in America

Dustin Hoffman’s film Quartet besides being a gentle gem of acting and film-making, should also be seen in contrast to the state and status of the elderly in America. A Home for Retired Musicians is, of course, a completely unique institution and who wouldn’t like to live out their last days on a bucolic country estate in England, surrounded by people of like interests still engaged in and sharing of their passions, but we must not ignore the grim reality of old age institutions here which, for the most part, resemble dormitories for minimum security prison hospitals . Eldercare in America is in a great conundrum: the Senate is the most elderly branch of government, but with its members having generous retirement plans and substantial accumulated wealth, it tends not to be a personally high-priority issue; and the younger House of Representatives generally thinks only one term to the next, and both political parties seem content to ascribe the misnomer “entitlement” to any federally administered, non-profit insurance program for retired people. So where are we aging boomers to turn?

In the film, the Home for Retired Musicians appears to be maintained by a combination of charitable giving and government subsidy (Maggie Smith’s character, despite having been an operatic diva, is there essentially “on the dole”), but it also operates somewhat like a working, almost “tribal”, commune with classes, lessons, and concerts to supplement its survival. However, while marijuana use seems on the comeback trail (drug use as the curer of all ails never left), one thing we boomers learned in in our hippie days is that communal living and finding tribal compatibility are next to impossible, some might even call it “downright unAmerican”. Classical musicians are unique in that, despite rivalries and jealousies, they embrace both the value of collaborative work and a strong sense of self. For the rest of us, the future is more a toss-up. Perhaps in time, all the new communication technology will change how the next generation relates to one another, but today a distinct worry is that our tendency to individualism, independence, and newness will leave us ultimately isolated, alone,and forgotten.

The Super Bowl? More like Commercial Bowl.

To the Editor:
    I think it important to note that the word “football” does not appear in the title “The Super Bowl” and, judging from the amount of post-game commentary over “winners and losers”, this media extravaganza could more realistically be called the Commercial Bowl.  Further, with either CBS advertising itself or the NFL targetting parents and young athletes to counter recent negative revelations of brain injury from the sport, the official 60 minutes of playing time actually amounts to less than 40 that are commercial-free, and real-time action, from the snap of the ball to the end of the play, is less than 20.  I timed the 2nd half at 9 minutes and I suspect that the Go Daddy commercial prompted as much visceral and glandular response as Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return (and lasted longer).  So is it really “football” that we are watching?
– RP

The Power of the Gun

To the Editor:

    Again following a mass shooting, gun sales are on the rise.  As a warning it should be noted that the death of Vincent Van Gogh, long thought to be a suicide, could be considered an accidental shooting, that he carried along a gun hoping to frighten away a group of children who were harassing him as he tried to paint in the fields around Arles, and that in a scuffle he was shot in the stomach, certainly not a likely target in suicide.  In either case, the simple presence of a gun had a fatal consequence.  This negative potential should never be underestimated.  The tragedy of Van Gogh is that at the peak of his artistic powers, creating paintings that are still so vibrant and alive today, his life was ended by the power of a gun.  The tragedy of America is that the power of the gun is so accepted as positive.

– RP