The Choice is Obvious.

The Choice is Obvious.

Ted Folkert

October 10, 2016

Yes, the choice is obvious. It reminds me of what my mom used to say when I couldn’t find something: “If it was a snake, it would bite you.”

What to do, what to do. Who to vote for to lead our nation. Not a simple matter and plenty of reason for indecision.

Some say they just can’t support Donald Trump. Some say they just can’t support Hillary Clinton. Some say they just can’t support either one. Some say they will vote for the Libertarian candidate. Some say they will write in Bernie Sanders. Some say they will just not vote because they don’t like any of the candidates.

All of these choices are understandable. There is plenty to not like about any of them if you look at all of their beliefs, actions and claims of how they will govern if elected.

But we can’t afford to sit out the election or vote against any candidate. The only reasonable option is to vote for one of the candidates who can possibly win the election at this point – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

The Libertarian candidate seems like a nice guy although seems to lack knowledge about the world he lives in. But regardless of his lack of worldly knowledge, he doesn’t have nearly enough support to be a possible winner and time has run out.

Bernie Sanders was the favorite candidate of many of us and preached the message that many of us found inspiring, but he couldn’t possibly get enough write-ins to be elected and time has run out.

Donald Trump has proven over and over again that he is irresponsible, erratic, unforgiving, self-centered, untruthful, impatient, unrealistic, rude, prejudicial, unrelenting, deceptive, dishonest, uninformed, uneducated about foreign matters – a dangerous narcissist – in other words, totally unqualified to be president of the United States. Not only unqualified but too dangerous and unpredictable to have any governing power of any nature, let alone that of one of the most powerful leaders of the free world.

This stuff wasn’t just made up recently. You can read it in most any publication in the country and hear it on many news media outlets at any given time. He is being ignored by most of the leading Republican campaign contributors in the country and that list grows on a daily basis. He is being continually disclaimed and rejected by many leaders of his own party. He is beyond the hold-your-nose-and-vote stage as a viable candidate.

One of Trump’s ways of accusing an opponent of something starts out with “some people are saying”. Boy is he right about that. They are saying plenty and the conversation is about his ineptness for holding political office.

So, although many of us were not early supporters of Hillary, she remains the only reasonable choice. She has more experience in governmental affairs and US interaction with foreign countries than any candidate or elected official that I can remember. She has been accused of dishonesty but not in matters that would disqualify her from leading the country. Any dishonesty that she could be guilty of would seem like child play when compared to the scam artist that she is running against. She has relationships with hundreds of leaders in government that date back for several decades. The pronounced actions she would take as the leader of the country are mostly favorable to the majority of the population.

It seems the safest choice, the most palatable choice and obviously the choice with the best promise to lead the country in a democratic and equitable manner while maintaining a responsible relationship with all the other industrial nations. Her decades of efforts to improve childhood education is commendable. If she can stay away from Wall Street and team up with the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, perhaps we can continue the great progress we have made in the last few years in spite of an obstructionist congress controlled by simple minded Republicans whose only concern for eight years has been to regain power over the US Treasury.

Think about it!


Eric Gormly – Veteran’s Assistant

Perhaps we could take a moment from our busy lives in our professions of moving money from someone’s pocket into ours and acknowledge someone who opted to follow a path of selfless assistance to those who get too little assistance and recognition for their personal sacrifices in protecting us from harm – our veterans. This article came to me from a friend and is being published herein without the permission of this young man’s proud grandmother, Roz Webb.

University News

Appalachian State University

By Kesha Williams

BOONE—Appalachian State University is ranked seventh among regional universities in the South as a “Best College for Veterans” by U.S. News and World Report. That ranking could be one more reason veterans and active-duty military members select Appalachian.


Eric Gormly, Appalachian’s new coordinator of Student Veteran Services, knows full well veterans are searching for outstanding universities. In the years he has spent serving with and working with veterans, he has had many conversations about the topic. A goal shared by most veterans, according to Gormly, is to earn degrees that will elevate them on their current career paths or to lead them to new, more desirable careers.

Gormly served in the U.S. Marines for six years, which included two tours of duty in Iraq. He worked previously as a veterans services assistant and a certifying official at Johnson County Community College (Overland Park, Kansas) for five years. There, he assisted with training and managing Veterans Administration work-study student employees, implementing the Military & Veteran Student Resource Center and coordinating “Veterans Week” to raise awareness of student veteran presence on campus. He formerly served as the certifying official and enrollment services coordinator at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

At Appalachian, Gormly serves as the single point-of-contact for student veterans and oversees programs and policies that will meet the unique needs of student veterans. Additionally, he works to foster the growth and success of student veterans by developing activities that facilitate the transition from the military to the campus and Boone community.

Gormly explained that the 276 self-identified veterans and active-duty military members enrolled at Appalachian distinctly differ from the university’s traditional first-year and transfer students. Many veteran students have families who depend upon them for financial support, and arrive with additional needs and responsibilities that impact their class and study schedules.

“A lot of veterans stack courses in the morning or the evening and go to work,” Gormly said. Those who are returning from assignments abroad or military bases located in different states bring vastly different experiences and perspectives to the classroom than their non-military classmates.

“When you live that military life, it’s a different culture. A lot is dependent on your brothers and sisters in arms. College is different and it can be stressful coming in. It’s good to have someone to answer your questions and to understand your past experiences,” Gormly explained. Gormly said he noticed a nationwide push about five years ago to get veterans more involved on college campuses. Appalachian’s Student Veteran Resource Center, which will open in November, will offer ways to get involved, as well as additional resources and support for student veterans and their families. “There is a lot of support and excitement for veterans at Appalachian,” Gormly said.

The new Student Veteran Resource Center will be located on the second floor of the Plemmons Student Union (PSU), and will open with a public ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception in PSU Room 226 (Linville Falls) on Veterans Day: Friday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m.

Since 2010, Victory Media, the premier media entity for military personnel transitioning into civilian life, has awarded Appalachian the designation of Military Friendly School®. The designation places Appalachian in the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation.

Appalachian maintains a website for veterans and military service members considering enrolling at the university. In addition to its chapter of the Student Veterans Association, the university also has veteran counselors or advisors on staff, a veteran-specific page on the university’s financial aid website, and assists veterans with career placement. The university also offers in-state tuition without residency requirements for military students who are in the N.C. National Guard or on active duty at a military base within North Carolina.

For more information about resources for military students at Appalachian, visit

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

My Vote By Roger Angell

Thanks to Lonnie Shalton for forwarding this compelling article. It should be a must-read for everyone voting in the upcoming election, an election that Roger Angell considers it the most important election in his lifetime. His lifetime has been 96 years and 18 previous presidential ballots. He is  a senior editor and a staff writer, and has contributed to The New Yorker since 1944.

Some excerpts from the New Yorker Magazine article:

My Vote By Roger Angell

September 24, 2016

“I am late weighing in on this election—late in more ways than one. Monday brought my ninety-sixth birthday, and, come November, I will be casting my nineteenth ballot in a Presidential election. My first came in 1944, when I voted for a fourth term for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, my Commander-in-Chief, with a mail-in ballot from the Central Pacific, where I was a sergeant in the Army Air Force. It was a thrilling moment for me, but not as significant as my vote on November 8th this year, the most important one of my lifetime. My country faces a danger unmatched in our history since the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962, or perhaps since 1943, when the Axis powers held most of Continental Europe, and Imperial Japan controlled the Pacific Rim, from the Aleutians to the Solomon Islands, with the outcome of that war still unknown.”

……. ” I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence. From the beginning, her life has been devoted to public service and to improving the lives of children and the disadvantaged. She is intelligent, strong, profoundly informed, and extraordinarily experienced in the challenges and risks of our lurching, restlessly altering world and wholly committed to the global commonality. Her well-established connections to minorities may bring some better understanding of our urban and suburban police crisis. ”

“Ms. Clinton will make a strong and resolute President—at last, a female leader of our own—and, in the end, perhaps a unifying one.”

“The Trump campaign has been like no other—a tumultuous and near-irresistible reality-TV show, in which Mr. Trump plays the pouty, despicable, but riveting central character. “I can’t stand him,” people are saying, “but you know, wow, he never stops.”’

“Mr. Trump was born in 1946, just after this cataclysmic event of our century, and came of age in the nineteen-sixties, when the implications and harshness of war were being debated as never before, but little or none of this seems to have penetrated for him—a candidate who wants to give nuclear arms to Japan and South Korea and wishes to remain unclear about his own inclinations as commander of our nuclear triad. This makes me deeply doubt his avowed concern for our veterans or that he has any sense of their sufferings.”

“Mr. Trump has other drawbacks I haven’t mentioned: his weird fondness for Vladimir Putin; his destruction of the lives and hopes of small investors and contractors unlucky enough to have been involved in his business dealings; his bonkers five-year “birther” campaign, now withdrawn, though without accountability—but never mind all this, for now.”

Read the article:

Think about it!


Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Despair

Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Despair – The Big Three

Ted Folkert

August 20, 2016

What am I doing? I wonder if I am doing the right thing. It seems like a question that I can never escape. And I can’t answer it.

Did you ever ask yourself that question – as a child, as an adult, as a parent, as an employee, as an employer, as an adversary, as a plaintiff, as a defendant, as a winner, as a loser, as a buyer, as a seller? How about as a politician or an elected leader?

What have we done? Are we doing the right thing? I wonder if we ever asked ourselves those questions as a country, as a group of countries, as adversaries, as allies, as victors, as world citizens, as the world’s self-imposed police force, as defenders, as invaders.

No one lives to see the ultimate answer to such questions. The end result really never comes because every action has an opposite and equal reaction with consequences that the perpetrator cannot or will not conceive of in advance. History is replete with pitiful examples of unexpected consequences, collateral damage, impoverished societies, leaderless countries, corrupt leaders, bankrupt economies, and lawlessness – all resulting from reactions to actions not well thought out. Hundreds of millions of people have been killed and many countries destroyed by warfare, political corruption, or adverse regime changes. Hundreds of millions live with no hope or path to escape helplessness, hopelessness, and despair.

And then more bad stuff happens.

As hunters and gatherers it was easier to survive without encroaching on someone’s territory. Now, with seven billion of us on the planet it has become a lot more difficult to all get along. Food, shelter, and clothing got more complicated. And then we add in education and recreation and buying “stuff” and the challenge got even tougher. Oh, and let’s not forget the incurable addiction of the incessant quest for “power.”

We believe that we live in the greatest country in the world. Maybe we do, but it didn’t come about without winning political wars and economic wars. And it didn’t come about without ignoring the question: “are we doing the right thing?”

Please excuse this superficial and inaccurate summary of recent world history, but here goes:

Did we do the right thing in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua? Or were we just serving the interests of our ambitious and pleading corporations by pursuing protectionism.

Did we do the right thing in Korea or were we fearful of “communism” enlisting more of Asia and ruling the world, a threat comparable to “the sky is falling”?

Did we do the right thing in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos or were we just mislead into thinking that defeating the threat of communism was worth the loss of millions of lives and trillions of dollars?

Now we can fast-forward to the Middle East. Have we done and are we doing the right thing in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey? Perhaps a better question is: are we doing the right thing in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman?

We don’t mean for these questions to be rhetorical but, as it turns out, they are. They are rhetorical because we will never know if we have done or are doing the right thing. We will have a hundred different opinions about “the right thing” but we will never know the answer. It will always be arguable by our future historians.

And now, how are things going in the Middle East so far? The war mongers among us demand that we send our military there and resolve things once and for all. That, of course, is laughable at best. The Middle East now is perhaps the armpit of the world, a conglomeration of border wars, regime changes, corrupt leadership, religious conflicts, ethnic cleansing – all of the wrong power and religious struggles to get involved in or to try to resolve.

As we speak, thousands are still being killed in Syria and millions of refugees who were forced to leave their homes and all of their possessions have overrun Europe looking for an existence, survival from warfare, a peaceful place live.

Egypt, having been led by long-term leaders Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, settled on Morsi to replace Mubarak. Morsi was soon overthrown and replaced by a new regime under Sisi, a military general under Mubarak, who has packed the government with military leaders.

Iraq, thanks to US misguidance, got rid of the murderous and corrupt Saddam Hussein, the guy we supported when we found him useful as the USSR was attempting to spread their power and dominance over the region. Now Iraq is a republic struggling to hold on to a country devastated by years of warfare and complete destruction of the economy.

Afghanistan, a victim of retaliation for the 9-11 disaster in NYC, and the perceived mandate to destroy the training grounds of Al Qaeda, is now a struggling republic clinging to what is left of their country which is devastated by years of warfare and complete destruction of their economy.

Tunisia, the home of Mohamed Bouazizi, the struggling fruit and vegetable merchant who burned himself to death in the public square to protest the oppressive government which destroyed his livelihood, triggered protests in Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Jordan and many other countries – the Arab Spring – and even in the US –  and initiated the toppling of many dictatorships throughout the Middle East.

Yemen, an economically poor country, is a republic without strong military protection and close to anarchy.

Libya escaped the forty year regime of Qaddafi and is now virtually leaderless and with little hope of establishing a peaceful solution, close to anarchy.

The Kurds inhabit the mountainous areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey – Kurdistan. They have been known as fierce fighters in protecting their civilization for many decades and have been called upon to play an active role in defeating ISIS, which has invaded and murdered thousands of their people in order to consume some of their territories.

Iran, after changing regimes at the hands of the US in 1953 when the Shah was returned to power and again in 1979 when he was ousted by the Islamic religious leaders, is trying to rebuild their economy after years of economic sanctions. Now they are toying with cooperation with the US in order to pursue nuclear power and with Russia as a defensive measure, with little indication of their right choice.

Pakistan is torn between loyalty to the US or other opposing interests in the region and sits idly by with nuclear weapons and corrupt political regimes.

Israel, sitting right in the middle of all the most dangerous conflicts, under the shadow of Iran and other perceived potential threats, which would tend to make them trigger-happy warriors with nuclear weapons. They are struggling protectionists with little room to expand their population and an important ally of the US in the region.

Most of the countries just discussed are remnants of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI as the empire was divided up by Britain and France. The borders have changed many times, as have the various regimes, but the conflicts seem to be endless and with no obvious resolution.

So, how are we doing so far?

Don’t try to answer that question because there is no answer. For every action there is an opposing and equal reaction after reaction after reaction after reaction. No one will live long enough to see the answer to all of the reactions to all of the actions that seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.

The question that we always seem to ignore, and perhaps the most fundamental question, is: what action will help to eliminate or treat helplessness, hopelessness, and despair? These are the roots of anger, violence, aggression, terrorism, and the horrendous suffering by the victims thereof. And there are roots to helplessness, hopelessness, and despair that are not being recognized, considered, treated, or eliminated.

What actions can we take that will evolve into reactions to assuage helplessness, hopelessness, and despair?  And what actions can we take to assuage the roots to the big three. That is the ultimate question. Don’t ever forget those three words.

Think about it!

Trump’s Trash Talk

Trump’s Trash Talk

Ted Folkert

What do we know about the candidate for President of the United States that the Republican Party offers us, not only offers us, but tells us that he is the best they have to offer?

Here are a few things he told us about himself:

  • No one is a better businessman than he is.
  • No one can make deals like he can.
  • No one is smarter than he is.
  • No one could do as good a job as he can.
  • No one is wealthier than he is.
  • No one is more handsome than he is.
  • Things will be great for everyone with him.
  • America will be great with him.
  • No one will pay as much taxes with him.
  • Everyone will be better off with him.
  • The world leaders will love him.
  • Putin will love him.
  • We will wall out immigrants with him.
  • We will deport immigrants with him.
  • We will kick ass all over the world with him.
  • We may use nuclear weapons with him.
  • We will tear up treaties and disregard commitments with him.
  • We will make the other countries bow down and pay homage to us.

Here are a few things we have learned about him:

  • He dislikes Mexicans.
  • He dislikes Muslims.
  • He dislikes minorities.
  • He dislikes most women.
  • He likes Putin.
  • He wants to kick ass all over the world,
  • He hates Hillary Clinton.
  • He hates Elizabeth Warren.
  • He hates Barack Obama.
  • He thinks prisoners of war should have been killed instead of captured.
  • He was a perennial draft dodger.
  • He is a bloviating bully behind body guards.
  • He bankrupted several companies.
  • He defaulted on numerous bank loans.
  • He is crude and rude to anyone who challenges him.
  • He makes up and tells lies about his opponents.
  • He disrespects the parents of fallen war heroes.
  • He makes racial slurs against African-Americans, Muslims, and other foreigners.
  • He slanders any member of the media who disagrees with him.
  • He has been rejected by numerous dignitaries from his own party.
  • He has nauseated the French president and other foreign leaders.
  • He accused Japan and South Korea of freeloading on defense.
  • He has questioned compliance with NATO agreements.
  • He threatens to tear up trade agreements.
  • The Mexican president has accused him of fascist tendencies.
  • Baltic leaders have been disparaged by him.
  • He was declared as unfit to be the American president by President Obama.
  • He vented anger at fire officials for doing their jobs at his rallies.
  • He called for investigation of a federal judge with a Mexican name for ruling against him.
  • He warned donors against him to watch out, that they better be careful.
  • He declares that he will issue illegal orders of punishment for political enemies.
  • He declared that Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Obama.
  • American foreign policy experts declare him to be unfit to be president.
  • He urged Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  • He hinted at declaring the annexation of Crimea by Russia as legal.
  • He has challenged the importance of NATO.
  • He has called for using torture against political prisoners.
  • Former Republican Pentagon and State Department officials are supporting Clinton.
  • 121 self-described members of the Republican national security community signed a public letter pledging support for Clinton.
  • He declines to reveal his tax returns, stating that they are under audit.
  • Obviously, these returns are likely to reveal a predatory prowess that would again disqualify him from holding any control over the largess of the Treasury of the United States.
  • And, most recently, he suggested that “second amendment” supporters (gun control) maybe could prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices. Is this suggesting assassination?

If the above is insufficient to help you make a decision regarding the danger of such a person, who is obviously a “loose cannon”, having the capacity to wield the power of the presidency of the United States, just stay tuned. There will obviously be much more to come. His mouth is like a toilet that just keeps on running.

Think about!

Mind-boggling technology taken for granted

Mind-boggling technology taken for granted

Ted Folkert

June 23, 2016

Things to think about when holding that  communication device in your hand.

 It seems simple enough. We punch a few buttons or spots on the plastic face and can communicate instantaneously across town or worldwide. No big deal? Well, consider a few facts about how we got here:

  • $8 billion factories
  • A staff of thousands with special knowledge
  • Silicon wafers
  • Transistor miniaturization
  • Photolithography
  • Nanometer technology
  • Etchings and deposits – 2,000 times
  • Slicing and dicing
  • Particle-free air
  • Memory controllers
  • Input/output circuits
  • Cache
  • Cores (chips within chips)
  • Nanometers

I remember working at Western Electric Company back in the 1960s as a production programmer and later, while attending college, as a machine setter in the plant manufacturing electron tubes. Western Electric was the manufacturing and supply unit for the Bell System, a division of AT&T. They were on the cutting edge of communication technology at that time, slicing silicon wafers and manufacturing transistors in their early stages of development, among many other electronic components, including resistance lamps and cathode-ray tubes. A transistor is a switch which is turned off and on by electronic pulses instead of manually, one of the important early components of electronic miniaturization, a single function on-off switch. Western Electric had one of the early clean rooms, into which you couldn’t enter except under strict conditions of cleanliness and sterility.

In later years, after a stint in the military and then a return to the company in an office role, I encountered one of the early computer rooms, with large main frame computer processors, card readers and tape readers, all located in a large enclosed room. There was a constant stream of trays of cards being transported in and out of the computer room to record data in the archaic way that computerization was done in those early days. Punched slots in cards served as the on-off switches, which were later replaced with transistors.

The technology seemed amazing at the time but much more was soon to come as this technology evolved.

Now computerization is accomplished by silicon chips with a myriad of minute circuitry which is barely visible, if at all, by the naked eye. If you want to manufacture silicon chips you will first need to spend about $8 billion building a factory capable of the process. Then you start with a 12-inch silicon wafer, which costs about $300, create patterns on the wafer with photolithography and deposit super-thin layers of material on top of the wafer. These wafers are cleaned with the purest form of water possible. So pure that it could not be safely consumed by humans because it would absorb the nutrients from the body. This wafer is chopped into 122 Xeon E5 chips, which sell for $4,000 each. Each E5 chip has as many as 7.2 billion transistors. (Yes, 7.2 billion on-off switches). The chip in the original IBM PC had 29,000 transistors. It takes about three months to manufacture a single E5 chip. It requires about 2,000 steps of etching and depositing layers of materials, sometimes as thin as a single atom. The 12-inch wafer, when finished, will be worth more than $300,000.

A human blood cell is 7,000 nanometers across. Chip manufacturing works on a 14 nanometer scale, a tiny fraction of the size of a human blood cell. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. (39.37 inches divided by one billion – 39.37” ÷ 1,000,000,000 = .00000003739 inches). That is getting very small, not visible by the naked eye.

It takes five years to make a new computer server chip. It takes about three years for that chip to become obsolete. A chip design needs to generate $3 billion over the first two years to be economically viable.

In research and development and capital expenditures, it costs more to make a chip than to make an airplane.

A human brain has 10 billion neurons. By 2026 or so, someone said, your computer will have more than 10 billion transistors.

Think about it when you hold that personal data phone in your hand. How can they do all this amazing stuff and make it available to every living human in 50 years?


Think about it!

A Quiet Man with a Great Legacy

A Quiet Man with a Great Legacy

June 6, 2013 – republished on June 6, 2016

Homer Theodore Folkert. Today is his birthday, a wistful day for me. He would be 101 today but he only actually lived half that long. But what he accomplished in that half life he can be very proud of, believe you me.

He was six feet tall and skinny as a rail with dark brown hair combed straight back and parted in the middle, a receding hairline on each side, ruggedly handsome, muscular arms, had a slight build, probably never weighed more than 150 pounds. Most of the time he wore bib overalls and a small cap with the bill turned up. And he carried a lunch bucket. He had a rather low friendly voice which you never heard very often. He wore a hearing aid, without which he was difficult to communicate with.

As a small boy he had been bedridden with rheumatic fever for a period of time, which left him with a hearing deficiency. He had surgery when he was about 35 or so, called a double mastoidectomy, I believe. This apparently improved some painful headaches but left him with little hearing in either ear.

He was a hard-working man and spent about a dozen years as a hardwood floor sander and refinisher. He used to come home every evening with saw dust all over him from sanding floors all day. A man totally dedicated with trying to provide a comfortable living for his family. A quiet man, not vocally religious, but with a totally honest and generous nature, he didn’t attend church with us because he couldn’t hear what was said. He always had a good appetite, starting the day with cereal with cream, eggs over easy, bacon, toast and coffee with cream, probably a diet which led to his clogged arteries, which then was called hardening of the arteries, for which there wasn’t repair in those days. He was struck by this problem at about 45 years of age and was then unable to work and finally succumbed to a final heart attack just before his 51st birthday.

During a period of time when the six of us lived in a tiny house at 227 North Glenwood, a house with the water faucet in the front yard and the bath in the back yard, Dad spent lots of his evenings drawing building plans on butcher paper saved from Mom’s trips to the grocery store. They had purchased about a half acre of land across the street from our little house which sloped downhill from Glenwood rather steeply and it was there the he was planning to build us a home. After a few years he was able to borrow some money from the local bank, Fairmount Bank, and hired an excavator to dig him a place for a foundation and basement for his house. Then a few months later he ordered the pouring of concrete for the foundation. The next phase began a few months later with building concrete block walls for the basement. He was building a house that would be strong and enduring, using 12” blocks instead of the usual 9” blocks. These were heavier to handle but that was his plan. He used to work on his project every night after work until dark and all day Saturday and Sunday. It seemed like it took years, but he finally got the walls all up to the roof level. Then he ordered two steel I beams to support the roof and the future house above the basement. The beams were set in place by someone with a machine capable of handling them and then Dad started framing in the roof with 2 by 12 rafters to support the roof and house above, which was then followed by roofing paper and hot-mopped tar for waterproofing. Once this was completed he installed windows and a walk-in door beside the drive-in door opening, which was enclosed with plywood.

After a few more months he started doing the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom and constructing a septic tank behind the house since the basement was too low to hook up to sewer in the street. Then came the build out of the kitchen counter and cabinets and divisional walls for a couple of bedrooms and the bathroom. Then the electrical wiring phase began and finally the installation of the furnace.

Bear in mind that was all done by one man in his spare time with his own hands and no help from anyone except me sometimes mixing and carrying concrete, concrete blocks and lumber for him.

But the basement was finally completed and we moved in and vacated the tiny house at 227 and became residents of 240 North Glenwood, a house with indoor plumbing and a forced air furnace, luxury at last and the successful completion of Dad’s years-long project. He had built a home for his family. A greater success than most of us will ever achieve in a lifetime.

But it didn’t stop there. He was committed to build the house on top of the basement and a few years later he started on that phase. This phase of his project took several more years and was completed as he had the time and money to complete it. He bought lumber as he had some cash and framed in the outside walls, the interior walls of three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, dining room and a living room with a fireplace. Then came the construction of the roof, the floor, the outside walls, the exterior wood shingles, the windows, the doors, the stairs from the basement, the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom, the electrical wiring, the ductwork for the furnace, the sheetrock, the taping and finishing, the build out of the kitchen, bathroom, dining room built-in cabinets, the fireplace and chimney.

This is really, really a long story made really, really short. This was one man building his house all by himself with his two hands, strong arms, intelligence and intestinal fortitude. This took guts and endurance and dedication and is a project that most of us would be incapable of and would lack the qualities to complete.

But he did complete it for the most part and the family moved upstairs. By that time my older sister and I were married and had moved on but my younger sister and brother and Mom and Dad moved upstairs and gained another rung on the ladder of living standards.

Dad got to enjoy his accomplishment for a few years before his poor health became too much, but Mom lived there for many years to come, along with the younger two siblings.

But that wasn’t all Dad did during those years, although it is hard to imagine that he had any time left for other activities. He always took us wherever we needed to go. With me it was Boy Scout meetings every week. He went along and became an Assistant Scout Master. With my brother he went to Boy Scouts and each and every sporting event for his entire little league, high school and college sporting years. And for the girls he was there them just the same in whatever they were involved in.

He was unselfish, honest, responsible and led and taught by example in his quiet and humble way. That is his legacy. What greater legacy could one leave or hope for?

Labor Party

Labor Party

Ted Folkert

May 7, 2016

These two words together “labor” and “party”, can seem like an oxymoron – like nice insult, or pleasant illness, or bad fortune, or sweet sorrow. We like to party for fun, but labor is something we do for food, usually not for fun.

But in the sense of what we don’t have and badly need, a Labor Party can mean a voice in the way we are governed, a voice for the working class, a voice now unheard from the invisible class, those of us who do the work to keep everyone in food, shelter and clothing – and streets, highways, fire departments and police forces.

This may come as a shock to some of us, but the working class has no voice in the way we are governed. Lincoln’s description of the way our government should function – “of, by and for the people” – has never been the case, was never meant to be the case by our founders, and has never been allowed to carve out a space in our political system. The original intent of our founders, who were pre-capitalist in those days, seems to have been protection of property, their property. What it became after the advent and massive growth of capitalism is a government of, by and for the corporations and the wealthy. This was no accident. It was by design. It was created this way to prevent an uprising by the people and an overthrow of the government, a plan that was not very Jeffersonian but merely the best they could agree to when considering the landholding and slaveholding interests of the planners.

They didn’t teach us this in the public schools. They taught us from the textbooks which were deemed pertinent to glorify the democratic intent of the founders and to give no hint of the intent of the consensus that resolved the issues.

Our primary focus has always been on our two party electoral system, the Democratic and Republican. What we have always been lacking, and which seems to place more emphasis on government of, by and for the people, is a Labor Party – a party of the working class as opposed to the aristocratic class which has always governed us. Our two parties are both controlled by corporate interest first and equality of opportunity interest last or not at all.

We were led to believe in my youthful years that the Democratic Party was the working class party. That was when labor unions were strong, when we had presidents like Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, (perhaps) Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and (perhaps) Richard Nixon. Unfortunately, since 1980 we have been saddled with conservatives – Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush. And, yes, even Barack Obama, who tries to be labor oriented but, unfortunately, got in bed with the bankers early on in order to get elected and reelected and has been repaying those debts ever since by looking past the felonies committed by these acclaimed pillars of society. His healthcare breakthrough has been good for the people but he skipped a great opportunity to reduce the overpowering control of equality of opportunity by the big banks. And perhaps, in all fairness to Obama, he could have accomplished much more if he had some congressional support, which has been zilch except for his first couple of years in office while he was still training for the job and getting acquainted with a few of the millions of employees suddenly under his reign.

As we witness in some European countries, from which our founders originated, Labor parties can be very effective. Political control of the various countries, such as Britain and France, seems to vacillate between the conservative and liberal leaning prime ministers. The British Labour Party, originally formed by the union movement, represents the interests of those who do the work, as opposed to the Whigs, who encourage a more constitutional form of government, and the Tories, who are in favor a strong monarchy. We see the leadership in France vacillate between conservative and liberal leaning prime ministers. In European countries socialist parties seem more effective than in the US. The fearsome term “communism” is not linked to socialism as it is here. French leaders are sometimes considered socialists, which would by definition be more labor oriented.

Of course, our unions took a devastating hit when Reagan showed up in 1980. He had been GE’s mouthpiece on the airways for years and knew all of the misleading arguments against collective bargaining as well as welfare for those less advantaged. He used his experience very effectively in the war against the workers and the needy. We should have formed a labor party then and there, while the labor unions still had funding capability. Instead the labor unions have linked with the Democratic Party, which has now become more of a Republican Party. We now have two likely candidates for president who are Republican by nature, Hillary and the Donald. And then there is the democratic socialist, Bernie, who could open a path to a labor party which could become an influential force for future contests for control of our government and our economy.

Yes, it is true. We have lost lots of wars the last few decades. We lost the war on drugs, the war of poverty, the war in Vietnam, the war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan. And the war that was never mentioned that was actually won, and the one that did the most economic damage, was the war on the workers. That one is still going on although the corporations and the rich and powerful won it a long time ago.

We need a labor party so we can get back in the action, rearm our troops, take back some territory and maybe lose the war on the workers in the future.

Think about it!

Clinton + Goldman, a lasting romance

Clinton + Goldman, a lasting romance

Ted Folkert

April 15, 2016

“Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other.”

It seems we need new words for that song, such as: “K Street and Wall Street, go together for another repeat.”

Where is Sammy Kahn when we need him?

The repeat we are discussing here is the ongoing love affair of Wall Street and the Clinton family. As we all know, many marriages don’t work out. But this one sure has. It seems that this marriage started when Robert Rubin, Senior Partner of Goldman Sachs, fell in love with Bill Clinton in 1991 when Clinton was a presidential candidate. They became forever partners after he was elected, Rubin became Treasury Secretary, and both have profited handsomely ever since – a marriage made in heaven.

Just to mention a few examples of what transpired:

Rubin and other Goldman Sachs partners raised money to get Clinton elected.

Rubin became Treasury Secretary and led the financial deregulation that paved the way for the launching of the unregulated financial derivatives trading in the early 2000s, the reckless, abusive, and fraudulent scheme that nearly destroyed the banking system later in the 2000s and required you and me to bail them out with billions of our tax dollars.

After we bailed them out, they paid huge bonuses to the partners of the company.

Goldman was later deeply involved in the collapsing housing bubble, which was devastating for the working class and initiated years of investigations, charges, fines, and hand slapping of the financial perpetrators.

The U.S. economy suffered greatly, causing massive unemployment and loss of equity in housing and depletion of retirement savings for thousands of Americans.

Goldman was penalized thirteen times for negligent representation, securities laws violations, and fraud – some of the penalties were more than $300 million.

The Security and Exchange Commission fined Goldman $550 million for fraudulent marketing.

Recently Goldman agreed to pay $5 billion to settle multiple lawsuits for fraudulent marketing.

Just to mention a few examples of the reconciliation of the love affair:

Hillary Clinton received a $711,000 contribution for her 2000 Senate campaign.

Bill Clinton received $650,000 for four speeches to Goldman Sachs in 2004 and 2005.

Bill Clinton received another $600,000 from them between 2006 and 2014, including $200,000 in 2011 while the bank was lobbying Hillary’s State Department for changes in the Budget Control Act.

Hillary Clinton received $675,000 for making three speeches for Goldman in 2013.

If my math is correct, that totals to more than $2 million. Not bad for the Clintons and apparently a good investment for the financial fraudsters.

I didn’t make this stuff up. The figures were provided by the article “Clinton and Goldman: Why It Matters” by Simon Head, NYR Daily.

Quoting Simon Head: “As long as Clinton refuses to reveal the content of her Goldman speeches, the suspicion will remain that she has cast a blind eye on Goldman’s dark years and that her campaign pledge to “rein in Wall Street” cannot be taken seriously.”

So, I guess some things never change – love and marriage, horse and carriage, K Street and Wall Street, financial shenanigans by the big banks – and as they used to say in Missouri, “money talks and b. s. walks.”

Is this the government that we want to lead our country? A government controlled by Goldman Sachs and manipulated by the Clinton dynasty?

Think about it!

America – Land of Plenty

America – Land of Plenty

Ted Folkert

April 5, 2016

This has to be one of the most mind-boggling election years that I can remember. What to do? Who to support? How to avoid disaster? What about foreign policy? What about the economy? What about un-indicted known criminals? What about rebuilding the infrastructure of our country? What about our educational system and the massive student debt? – All critical questions for our future here in this land of plenty.

This is the land of plenty you know – plenty of ignored problems, plenty of inequality, plenty of ineffective leaders, plenty of underfunded essential programs, plenty of dishonest financiers, plenty of self-serving politicians, plenty of misguided governors, senators, and representatives, plenty of military hawks financed by the defense contractors, plenty of undemocratic election laws – yes, this is definitely the land of plenty.

Maybe this inspired the Porgy and Bess song: I Got Plenty of Nothing. Remember the line: “I got plenty of nothing and nothing’s plenty for me”.

There are probably thousands of people in this country capable of being very effective as president. But, none of them want the job or are capable of mounting a campaign in a country where the leaders can easily be elected by the highest bidder. So, all of these capable potential leaders choose to stay home and suffer the anguish of watching four or eight years of pathetic performance from the oval office. (Merely a prediction after consideration of the likely potential choices among the offerings as espoused by the self-appointed political prognosticators)

So, what are we left with? What are our choices this time around?

We have an arrogant, super-egotistical, economically challenged, foreign policy numbskull, a coward who walks around with his body guards as he insults women, Hispanics, Muslims, and everyone else that he abhors – the Grump. Did you ever see the guy smile? This is the loose-lipped, smartest-guy-in-the-world who has an unfavorable rating of 57%.

We have a mentally warped Texan who would take us back a century with his attitude regarding human rights, economic policy, education, health care, carpet bombing, or any other governmental responsibility – Texas Crude.

We have the wife of a president who took us down the path of financial disaster while he was convincing us how great everything was, while he embarrassed the nation by feeding his sexual appetite at the expense of a naïve young intern and trashed the meaning of marital fidelity in an egregious manner – whose candidate-wife touts his financial and economic acumen as her guide to financial prosperity. It seems the financial prosperity they are good at is their own, having amassed a fortune of tens or hundreds of millions in the last few years from the generosity of the same crooks that took us down the tube as a nation and have the table set to serve us more of the same for years to come. Yes, former Goldwater supporter, Hillary “I’m liberal just like Bernie” Clinton. Although she has now adopted many of Bernie’s popular beliefs she still has an unfavorable rating of 52% and is found by many as lacking honesty and trustworthiness.

Wait till the Republicans start displaying all of the hundreds of millions that the Clinton Foundation has amassed from foreign governments during her reign as Secretary of State. There may be nothing illegal there but it might not pass the smell test with the voters as they use the favorite lead-in of the Grump – “people are saying.”

And then we have the guy from Vermont – the Bern – who, throughout his political career of decades, always got involved in critical political challenges for the under privileged while ignoring making any money for himself. The guy the media has ignored because the former philanderer-president’s-candidate-wife is proclaimed to have the race all sewed up, as she gets angrier and angrier when asked embarrassing questions that she prefers not to answer. Sanders has a higher approval rating on honesty and trustworthiness than any of the above mentioned candidates. His disapproval rating was reported as 37%.

Sanders’ critics, primarily the prognosticators who yearn to sound insightful in their offerings, say that he can’t do all of the progressive goals that he proposes. Well, of course not, but you certainly can’t do them if you don’t get started. You certainly can’t do them if the people don’t believe that they should be done and can be done. You certainly can’t do them if the people don’t rise up and elect a congress that will support meaningful change for the benefit of the nation and not just for the benefit of a handful of the politically connected. Sanders wants all of us to be politically connected, and I like that idea.

If the prognosticators are correct, that Sanders doesn’t have a chance, then what are we left with? What we are left with is the pathetic challenge of electing the least of the evils we have to choose from, the hold your nose and vote candidate, the candidate with the least baggage to carry-on, the candidate that might do the least damage, the candidate that might keep us out of foreign wars, the candidate furthest removed from corporate and financial control, the candidate who might improve the plight of all the people instead of just the “chosen ones.”

Beyond Sanders, that choice will be a tough one. A choice that may not improve our land of plenty.

Think about it!

Think about our Land of Plenty!