Friday, August 18

Failing as President and Father

Subsequent to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend of August 12-13, President Trump failed in the moral leadership Americans have the right to expect from their President. 

His failure to outright positively condemn the outrageous behavior of the Nazis, Kluxers, and white supremacists, at Charlottesville which among other tragedies cost the life of an innocent woman and two police officers, has brought criticism from responsible political, business, cultural, and religious leaders, and men and women on the streets across America. And he deserves all of it. 

On top of that he failed as a father and a father-in-law to his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism nine years ago, and her husband Jared Kushner. A Nazi thug was seen in a video criticizing the President for giving “ his beautiful daughter to that Jew.” Mr. Kushner is the son of Holocaust survivors. 

And he failed the memory of Americans who fought and died to rid the world of Nazis. 

President Trump has said frequently how much he admires ‘his Generals'. And he should, the generals serving in his administration have rendered outstanding service to the country, some over 40 years.  

At the same time, he ought to remember the 177,100 Americans who died from battle casualties fighting the Nazis in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, the South Atlantic and Europe. These Americans gave their lives so we who live today in this great Nation can enjoy our freedom and liberties, and don’t have to learn German. 

James Murdoch, the Chief Executive of 21st Century Fox and the son of Rupert Murdoch, a frequent ally of President Trump, summed it up most eloquently in an email sent Thursday, August 17, 2017, to “Friends.” He wrote:

“These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation — a necessary discipline for the preservation of our way of life and our ideals. The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob. I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.” (My emphasis.)

Mr. Murdoch in the same email said he and his wife were donating a $1,000.000 to the Anti-Defamation League. (Correction: An early edition said the gift was to the ACLU.)

Tuesday, August 15

The day got better

August 15, 2017 - 

Monday did not begin on a good note. It would be later in the day before President Trump - coming late to the party - called out the alt-right Kluxers, white nationalists,  neo-fascists and other bigots reportedly yelling “Russia is our friend,” for their atrocious acts at Charlottesville two days earlier. 

Then I went for an early walk and it turned hot real fast. Next on the list was an appointment with the dermatologist. Among many men this is the second least favorite medical necessity, being dreaded only by a visit to the proctologist. 

The dermo doc looked me over good, froze a couple of spots (that hurts) and biopsied one. I left there wondering what else could go wrong. Would North Korea fire a nuclear-armed missile? 

Right then and there I decided I needed a treat of some sort and, strangely enough, a pedicure and manicure topped the list. So on I went to Nails and Spa. A friendly beautician from Saigon, named Le, took me by the foot and got started. 

“I had no idea how much it would tingle when my feet were soaked in ankle-deep warm water. The pleasant feeling of skilled hands carefully rubbing each foot. The pulsating tickle, like a feather carefully tracing my toes, arches, and heels,” This was also my experience. 

When she finished I decided a pedicure would be a continuing experience for me. About 25% of American men get a pedicure regularly and I decided to join that number.I am tired of having to use long-handled hedge clippers to do my toe nails. 

The manicure also went well and I left a happy man. My outlook was picking up. In the interest of fairness, I posted President Trump’s press performance earlier in the day on my Facebook page and was heartened by statements of the Generals that war with North Korea was not imminent. 

Later in the day, I confided in a lady I favor about my day and asked her not to laugh at my pedicure and manicure. To her credit, she wrote: “I think your manicure and pedicure is wonderful.  Relaxing, healthy and nails all look nice.”

So the day turned better as the evening came on and all is good with my world.

Thursday, August 3

"Ta Ra Ra BOOM dee-ay"

I got mine yesterday, did you get yours today?

I got this letter yesterday in my email thanking me for taking the time "to express my views regarding our country's domestic policy." The problem is I did not write to the President, nor anyone else at the White House expressing my views on President Trump's domestic policy. (Much of it, in my opinion, is not in the best interests of all the people in America.) Sending out this form letter with a facsimile signature is proof of how our email addresses are so vulnerable to capture and misuse that it makes one wonder if we should go back to writing each other with pen or pencil, (depending on your grade school skills), licking the envelope and increasing the workload of the USPS. 

And another thing. How dare someone at the White House address me by my first name? We are not on a first name basis. I don't know the President, nor any of his staff, and if they want to write to me they should stick to "Dear Mr. Archibald," until, in the unlikely event, we become pen pals. In the past, I made exceptions for President George Bush the First when he penned in his own hand a personal note thanking me for a newspaper column I wrote about him. I also made an exception for President Clinton who sent a 8 X 10 photo inscribed "To Francis." 

I believe emails like this sent out by staff with access to the presidential signature signing machine  give the Commander-in-Chief his daily happy ego massage when staffers report X number of people have been sent "thank you letters." So, if it makes him happy it is harmless unless he (and the staff) begin to believe their own bulls**t. 
The White House, Washington

Dear Francis:
Thank you for taking the time to express your views regarding our country’s domestic policy. I am committed to unleashing America’s full potential through domestic policies that drive opportunity and economic growth, while ensuring the safety and security of the American people.
My Administration will work each day to advance an America First agenda, and we will do it while remaining committed to a responsible fiscal policy that addresses our Nation’s mounting deficit and debt. My 2018 Budget, A New Foundation for American Greatness, will eliminate job-killing regulations, drastically shrink the size of the Federal bureaucracy, prioritize the safety and security of American citizens, and reduce our unsustainable $20 trillion debt, while protecting programs that our senior citizens depend on, like Social Security.
My budget puts America first by investing in a stronger, safer America. That means making our communities great again by supporting law enforcement, rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, fixing our education system so that workers can get good jobs, and fighting to eradicate the scourge of drugs that is spoiling the promise of our youth. We must also return to the values and protect the Constitutional freedoms that made America a beacon of hope and opportunity to the world, including the right to keep and bear arms.
My America First policies will bring a new wave of opportunity to this great land. You can learn more about my budget by visiting For more information about the steps my Administration is taking to keep America safe, visit
Thank you again for your suggestions. Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define the next generation of American greatness. Your courage, goodness, and love will guide us along the way. As we look to the future, we know that no challenge will outmatch the resolve of the American people to overcome.
Donald Trump

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Thursday, July 6

Voter Data

Letters to the Editor (Published July 6, 2017)
The Post & Courier
Charleston, SC

Dear Editor,

I am 110% opposed to South Carolina sending any voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, beyond what is available to any South Carolinian and only if the Commission pays for it like a citizen would have to do.  

There are approximately 175,000 voting precincts in America. No one knows the exact number, as it may vary from year to year. But every one of these is usually staffed by good, local people volunteering to oversee the most important act of citizenship. 

To allege, as President Trump does, that widespread fraud in voting across America deprived him of a plurality in the popular vote, is nonsense. It is not supported by any facts from any state, or by anyone or any organization who conducts legitimate poll watching. 

The President’s comments are a vicious, undeserved slander on the good, hard-working, women and men who voluntarily staff the polls.

I have run for local and state office and won and lost. I never questioned the integrity of the process or the counting of the votes.

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Thursday, June 22

Those who need Driver Training

Normally young people are the most logical candidates for driving lessons from a driver’s school. An older friend taught me how to drive when I was coming out of high school, but when he thought I was ready for my driver’s test he recommended I take some commercial driver school training. I took three hours, went for the test and aced it. 

There are exceptions. My mother and an uncle learned to drive when they were in their fifties and each learned under the guidance of driver’s school instructors.  My mother got her license but never drove. My uncle got his, bought a car and enjoyed the experience which came to him late in life.  

There is another identifiable group of people who will undoubtedly benefit from a licensed driver’s school - government executives at all levels who enjoy the luxury of chauffeurs and government cars during their service. For many years in some cases, they are ferried everywhere and then one day they are on their own. 

A reliable and knowledgeable source told me Mrs. Robert Mueller said when her husband left the FBI after 12 years, “The first thing we are going to do is get him some driving lessons. I’m not riding with him and the grandkids aren’t either.”

In 1975, Joseph L. Schott, a former FBI agent, wrote “No Left Turns” in which he told the story of J. Edgar Hoover riding in a chauffeured bureau car in Texas, and while making a left turn the car was almost hit by an oncoming vehicle. After Hoover returned to Washington, the Bureau sent out a notice to all Field Offices that when chauffeuring the director there was to be “no left turns.” 

Hoover served for 42 years. Would you have ridden in a car driven by a man who wouldn't make a left turn?

Think of presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet officials, agency heads, leaders of Congress, senior military officers, and who knows who else, who haven’t been behind the wheel for years and one day they are out of office, back in private life, and the wife says, “Honey, drive down to the drug store and get a bottle of aspirin.”

Government officials worldwide are just like Americans. They could use refresher driver training. In Nixon’s memoirs, he told the story about Soviet President Brezhnev driving at Camp David.

"He got behind the wheel and motioned me into the passenger seat. The head of my Secret Service detail went pale as I climbed in and we took off down one of the narrow roads that run around the perimeter of Camp David….
At one point there is a very steep slope with a sign at the top reading, 'Slow, dangerous curve'….
Brezhnev was driving more than 50 miles an hour as we approached the slope. I reached over and said, 'Slow down, slow down,' but he paid no attention. When we reached the bottom there was a squeal of rubber as he slammed on the brakes and made the turn….
'You are an excellent driver,' I replied. 'I would never have been able to make that turn at the speed at which we were traveling.'
Diplomacy is not always an easy art.”

At the state level, there are officials starting with the governor and the lieutenant governor and other state office holders who serve for years and ride in chauffeured cars. One day they will find themselves on their own. 

In the private sector, there are also thousands of executives - men and women - who would benefit from driver’s training after they leave the company and no longer have the privileged perk of being chauffeured. 

The late William F. Buckley, founder, and editor of National Review rode to work daily from his home in Connecticut to his office in Manhattan in the back seat of a chauffeured stretch limousine so he could work en route. If Buckley had decided to drive one day, would Mrs. Buckley have ridden with him?

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Thursday, May 25

Leaking sensitive government information

President Trump has pledged his administration will get to the bottom of alleged leaks of information coming out of the government and put stop to this practice. He is not the first president to stake out this position, particularly when it puts him in a bad light.  Not only presidents but cabinet officers, senior government officials, Generals, and Admirals, also have made the promise to “get to the bottom of this” and send someone to prison. Much of this is bombast to placate the public. 

Many leaks from the government are planned, well-thought out, desirable, and often serve an official purpose. An official can leak something and if the public outcry is against it, the official’s identity, reputation, sanity, and job are not at stake. Masters of the convenient leak are found in the executive branch of government and the Congress. Supporting all these officials are thousands of workers from attorneys to file clerks who may also leak information for various reasons. Leaks have occurred since the Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to form a more perfect union. 

In 1953, I was a young airman in the USAF and assigned as the senior clerk in the Sabotage & Espionage Branch, Counterintelligence Division, HQ, USAF Office of Special Investigations, (OSI). There were six officers serving under the Branch Chief, a Lt. Col. We had two civilian secretaries. We all shared a rectangular office with four desks lined up on one side and five on the other side. Conversations among the officers were open affairs. 

These were the days when hardly a week went by that muckraking columnist Drew Pearson didn’t publish something that someone in the government fed him. Whether it was true, accurate or fair, did not matter to Pearson.

One day a particularly inaccurate and offensive Drew Pearson column dealing with Air Force business appeared in print and the matter came to the attention of OSI. Senior Air Force officials were furious and characterized the story as a mixture of bad information, half truths, and blatant inaccuracies. Three officials in the Air Force were suspected of being the source who leaked to Pearson. 

A plan was hatched by the officers in the S&E Branch. It called for putting together a classified report to be circulated to the three suspects with minor variations in each suspect’s copy. The fabricated report would be close to reality and the type of story Pearson would jump at. Based upon what Pearson published it would be highly possible to identify the source based on the variation revealed.

The plan was worked and re-worked and ready to be put in play. Appropriate officials in the hierarchy of OSI and the Pentagon were briefed. Then the word came down from on high. Scuttle the operation. No one wanted to learn the identity of the leaker.  

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Sunday, May 21

The world has lost one of the good people

The call came shortly after eight a.m on Friday from my daughter, Martha, informing me that “Jo Rogers died last night.” She was 90 years old. 

This saddened me and brought tears to my eyes. It was as if a member of the family had died. My friend Karen Spica was with me at the time and she put her arm around me to comfort me.

Josephine (Jo) Rogers was the best friend my late wife Mary (1931-2010) ever had. They met in 1964 and instantly bonded. They were two mothers with young children who met in Hanahan where we lived for decades. Our families went to the same church forever, or at least it seems that way, and Jo and Mary were part of the parish activities that unite people and make life happy and worth living. 

Our children went to Catholic and public schools together and the Rogers girls, Ann and Laura, became life-long friends to my daughters, Martha and Wynn.  Ed Rogers, Jo’s son, and my son, Patrick, are friends to this day. Billy Rogers and my sons Frank and James also attended school together and hung out in early life. 

Jo and Mary would confide in each other like only sisters could do. They shared the happy moments and the times when one was in the pits for something or other. When Jo came to the house Mary always fixed her a cup of tea. Jo was not a coffee drinker like Mary. They would sit at our kitchen table and talk to each other and give each other friendly advice if such was needed or enjoy something to laugh about. 

Jo and her late husband, Jim, met in New York While he was in the Navy. They were married over 50 years. Jim died several years ago. Jo had asked me to speak at his funeral and as I was dressing that morning to do so I had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and had instead to go the hospital. Jo was understanding in speaking to me later. 

She had the good quality of being able to see and deal with life in its many perspectives, pitfalls, humor and exhilaration. At a low point in my life, in the late 1980s, she bought me a book to read, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” Jo was that kind of a caring person. She was a friend for the ages, for my wife and our family, and all who knew her.  The world has lost one of the good people.