Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The most popular name for boys in Israel

It’s Muhammad.  I am not making this up.  

Last year 1,986 baby boys were named Muhammad.  Twenty-one percent of Israelis are Arabs.  Six percent of the civil service jobs are filled by Arabs.  1.2% of the tenure track positions in Israeli universities are filled by Arabs.

F.Y.I:  That info came from an article by Jodi Rudoren in yesterday’s Times.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

19th Amendment

Sandra and I were canvassing for Wolf in Union Hill, when I ran across a woman who proudly announced, “I’m 80 years old and I have never voted.”  

I said, “You know they did pass that amendment.  Women now have the right to vote.”

She was not amused, although Sandra thought it was funny.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Joseph McNamara, Irish Cop, 1934-2014

When I moved to San Jose in 1973 the San Jose police were not very popular.  Few of them were Latino, although Latinos made up a large percentage of the population.  They were known for using excessive force, and they were often seen as an occupying force.  

In 1975 Joseph McNamara was appointed the Chief of Police.  At that time San Jose was the 17th largest city in the nation; it is now the 10th largest.  In his 15-year tenure, the city grew by 40%, while major crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, assault, and burglary) dropped by 9%.  In 1990 San Jose had the lowest crime rate of any city over 400,000.

McNamara opposed the militarization of police, criticized the L.A. police for the Rodney King beating, and thought the “War on Drugs” created a military mindset.  In an action I especially liked, he also took on the N.R.A. 

McNamara believed in “community policing,” in which police developed relationships with store owners, community leaders, and residents.  Many of his ideas, considered rather radical at the time, are now accepted as common sense by police departments.  He was one of the good guys.

P.S.:  One of these days I will post about the “hooker patrol,” a community action Linda and I were involved in to rid downtown San Jose of prostitutes.  McNamara’s police force was a major help in that.  I really liked that man.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Obama really does get it

Here’s what he said at the U.N.:

For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week—terrorism, instability, inequality, disease—there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.

That changing climate results from human activity.  I recently read that only six percent of Republican congress members even “believe” in climate change.  In my own district a candidate for Congress named Moylin denies that the earth is getting warmer.  After November our President may confront a Congress controlled by the willfully ignorant, elected by willfully ignorant people.  We have a real battle ahead.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Take that, N.S.A.

The iPhone 6 allows users to encrypt emails, photos, and contacts based on a mathematical algorithm using a code created by the phone’s user.  Apple will not have access, and N.S.A. won’t either.

First of all, I don’t know what an algorithm is, and secondly, I don’t have an iPhone.  Nonetheless, I do know a thing or two about government overreach, the right to privacy, and the erosion of our freedoms.  

Thank you Mr. Snowden.  Thank you Apple.  And goodbye Attorney General Holder.

Of course the F.B.I says Apple will be aiding terrorists.  So does the requirement for a search warrant to enter someone’s home.  So does freedom of the press.  And free speech.  And the 14th’s guarantee of equal protection of the law.  

You don’t fight tyranny by imposing it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jim Zbick trusts in god

It is always amusing to watch politicians and columnists try to wrap themselves in either religion or patriotism.  Today in the Times News the old reliable Jim Zbick did both, attacking the Allegheny County Council for voting against displaying the motto “In God We Trust.” 

In the Fifties U.S. politicians were desperate to show we were different from the atheistic Commies.  We adopted “In God We Trust” as the national motto and put “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, itself adopted earlier as a way to sell flags.  Neither pledge nor motto was around when our country was founded.

If Mr. Zbick wants to be a patriotic American, he needs to be more tolerant, more respectful of minority religions and people who have no religion, and more vigilant about separating church and state.  

If he really wants a motto, how about one that predates the Fifties:  In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.  Now that’s a real American motto.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Republican fat cats exposed

A pile of documents were inadvertently released that detailed donations to the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, a 501(c)(4) organization, which under present Supreme Court policy, does not have to publicize its donors.

According to the New York Times, last year the Committee “allowed corporate donors to make their cases on how to carry out the Affordable Care Act; discuss hydraulic fracturing, an oil-and gas-exploration method regulated at the state level, and hash over state budgets just as coffers began to loosen.”  (For the full article, go to <>).

A group of corporations known as the “Statesmen,” whose members donated at least $250,000, included Aetna, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Koch Companies, Microsoft, Pfizer, UnitedHealth Group, and Walmart.

In 1969, the first year I taught college classes at the Penn State Behrend Campus, one of my more radical students kept complaining that the U.S. was a “plutocracy,” rule by the rich.  I argued with him and explained why he was wrong.  Now I’d have to agree.