A Singular Opportunity: Let’s Not Blow It

Whenever I switch cars, I have this odd experience; maybe you can relate. You’re driving around in your new vehicle, and suddenly you see your same make and model EVERYWHERE! “I didn’t know there were so many of these on the road!” you think. It’s a weird little consumer-based “empathy,” so odd, because we don’t usually think of empathy as having component parts, in this case recognition sans emotion or outreach.

Empathy, in each of us, has its dimensions, and they increase with aging, as we experience struggle, triumph, love, and especially loss. As an example, if you have lost a loved one to cancer, and later one of your friends announces that someone s/he loves has been diagnosed, you feel for your friend. You remember every moment of your family’s agony, from the medical appointments and the hospital smells to faint glimmers of hope you leapt at, to the day you sat down with yourself and said, “This is happening.” Then the aftermath, what that loss did to your family. Life goes on, but that loss stands like a stone arch between you and the person you were before. You know the dimensions of your empathy around cancer.

Imagine an unspeakable family trauma that lasts a lifetime. What would be the dimensions of grief and of empathy resulting from that? I have a friend whose brother suffered traumatic brain injury at birth, such that he has been institutionalized his entire life. Not only does he require constant professional care, but he is, for all intents and purposes, unresponsive. She loves him.

For a young girl in a lively Irish/Italian family, it must have been hard to accept or even comprehend how this boy could be so set apart from his own loved ones, missing the events, the personalities, the memories. As she grew older, she must have begun to calculate all that he was missing against the various opportunities that came her way. I believe that early on she dedicated herself to living a bigger, more aspirational and generous life, as if to live for the two of them, herself and her beloved brother. She knew that a life dedicated to accumulating wealth would not be a worthy choice for the two of them. Having never not known profound grief and its counterpart, selfless, helpless love, she chose a life that matched the dimensions of her empathy.

Her name is Tracy Mitrano. A long life of service as a sister, a mother, a teacher, and a leader has brought her to this time when she offers her hard-earned education and experience, her (desperately needed) expertise in cyber security policy, her insight as an historian, and most of all, her profound empathy as a fellow traveler to us, the voters of NY Congressional District 23. Mitrano wants to represent the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Western NY in Congress so she can speak for us in the place where systemic change becomes possible according to our system: the U.S. House of Representatives.

I can hear the backlash already. She’s strumming on our heart strings! Using her brother as a tool in her campaign. She is not. If you believe that you have to be a scoundrel to want to work in government, I’m sorry for you. Tracy does not know I am writing about this, and I hope she will forgive the intrusion into her privacy. But I’ve been watching her for a few years now, trying to understand what it is about this person that is so magnetic. I have often encouraged her by saying “when people meet you, they will vote for you.” I believe this, and here’s why: yes, her intelligence is striking; yes, her resume is formidable; but it’s her empathy that pulls you in. Not that she’s a “bleeding heart,” whatever that is. She’s a determined, talented woman who sees and feels the suffering of others and believes she can make things better. This is the fire in her belly. If you’ve paid attention to her dizzying schedule and her exhaustive understanding of issue after issue, you know there’s a fire there. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor. Get out to an event near you and meet Tracy Mitrano. You may end up feeling as if you’ve known her all along. Empathy works that way.

This article was written by Lee Marcus is a writer, artist, and activist who lives in Steuben County.

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Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen

middle eastKorea has a border with China which allowed soldiers and material to flow to N. Korea. Short of a war with China, N. Korea couldn’t be defeated in the Korean War.

Vietnam has a border with China; if the North had needed it, it might have received support from China. Vietnam has a more significant border with Laos. The Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos allowed N. Vietnam to support fighters in the south. Short of invasion of N. Vietnam, an independent S. Vietnam was doomed.

Afghanistan has borders with Pakistan, Iran, and former Soviet Republics to the North. Support for the Taliban from Pakistan was important for its success. American support for the Afghan Govt. came via a long road thru Pakistan. Had it been necessary, support for pro-Russian factions might have come from the north.

Iraq has borders with Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait and Iran. The American invasion was marshaled in Kuwait in part because Turkey was uncooperative. Iran supported the Shiite resistance and eventually came to dominate the government there.

Iran has borders with Afghanistan, Iraq and former Soviet Republics to the North. It is unlikely that an American invasion of Iran could be staged in Iraq or Afghanistan; it would likely have to come from the sea. As much support for Iran could come overland from Russia as Putin wished to provide.

Yemen has borders only with Saudi Arabia and Oman. How Iran supports the Yemeni insurgents (if it does) is unclear to me.  If it can’t be by land, it must be by air or by sea.

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An outline of conflict in the Middle East

No more than a sketch of history as I remember it.

  • Palestinians seek justice
  • CIA overthrows popular government of Iran, restoring monarchy.
  • Islamic revolution deposes Shah.
  • Hostage crisis aids election of Ronald Reagan
  • Eight lost years
  • Election of G.H.W Bush
  • Iraq invades Kuwait.
  • First Gulf War
  • Afghan war
  • Second Gulf War
  • Relations with Pakistan weaken.
  • Iraq’s museums looted
  • No WMDs found.
  • Short, inexpensive wars turn out to be long and expensive.
  • Election of Donald J. Trump who criticizes past policy, promises to end foreign wars.
  • Putin has Trump’s ear; NATO, Canada and European allies disparaged.
  • Rise and suppression of ISIS with help of Kurds.
  • America repudiates nuclear agreement with Iran
  • Saudis use American military as mercenaries
  • Assad and Russia triumph in Syria
  • Turks and Russians turn on Kurds abandoned again by the United States.
  • Taliban resurgent in Afghanistan
  • Iraq parliament votes to expel American Forces
  • Palestinians seek justice

Prospects for peace  and justice remain unchanged–poor at best.

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President Trump’s biggest accomplishments of 2019

believe it



The White House • December 30, 2019

TOP 10: President Trump’s biggest accomplishments of 2019.

Here are things President Donald J. Trump claims to have done for the American people in 2019:

  1. The Trump Boom is going strong. The unemployment rate recently hit its lowest mark in 50 years. All told, since President Trump’s election, our economy has added more than 7 million jobs—over half a million in manufacturing alone.
  2. The stock market keeps breaking records: The Dow Jones and S&P 500 hit record closes again on Friday.
  3. The working class is thriving, as are previously forgotten communities. Wages are now rising the fastest for low-income workers, and poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanic Americans have reached all-time lows.
  4. Accountable government is back. Since taking office, President Trump has rolled back nearly 8 regulations for every new one, saving American taxpayers more than $50 billion in the process—with bigger savings still to come.
  5. Better trade deals are putting America back in the driver’s seat. Congress approved President Trump’s USMCA this month—a huge win for U.S. workers, farmers, and manufacturers that will create 176,000 new jobs.
  6. Trade with China in particular is about to get a whole lot fairer. As part of a historic “phase 1” deal, Beijing has agreed to structural reforms in its trade practices and to make substantial purchases of American agricultural products.
  7. Securing the border is paying off and making our country safer. President Trump struck new agreements with Mexico and Central American countries this year to help stop the flood of illegal immigration. Thanks to this swift action, border apprehensions fell by more than 70 percent from May to November.
  8. On health care, President Trump is fighting to give our patients the best system on Earth. While Democrats try to take away choice, the President’s focus on affordability led to the largest year-over-year drop in drug prices ever recorded.
  9. American interests are taking center stage abroad. In just one example: After years of not paying their fair share, NATO Allies will have increased defense spending by $130 billion by the end of next year.
  10. Our great military took out the world’s top terrorist in October. Our troops are now getting the support they deserve. President Trump recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 fiscal year, which includes the biggest pay raise for our military in a decade.

Which of these are factual, which of those are significant accomplishments, and which are attributable to the Trump Administration? Will the voters buy this bill of goods?


Posted in 2020, Health Care, Immigration, trade, Trump | 3 Comments

The NYS Presidential Campaign is starting soon.

Even though the April 28 New York State Presidential Primary Election seems far off,  at least two Presidential Campaigns have contacted chairs of the NY 23rd Democratic Committees seeking democrats to pass petitions to get their candidate on the Ballot. Each candidate needs to get 5000 signatures state-wide. Passing the petitions can start on Tuesday, December 31. Only registered NYS Democrats can sign them; a person can only sign one candidate’s petition.  The campaigns will tell you when they need the signed petitions back to them. You can get a list of democrats who live near you from your County Board of Elections. There is no cost if they send the lists to you digitally.

Early Voting Dates are Saturday April 18 to Sunday, April 26. Each county will determine their times for voting.

Not only will you help the candidate to get on our ballot, you are promoting him or her, and informing the voters about the Presidential Primary.

If you are supporting Bernie Sanders, and are willing to pass petitions for him contact Emily Adans at emilyfinnadams@hotmail.com

If you are supporting Amy Klobuchar, and are willing to pass petitions for mer contact  Bruce Levine at levinebruce@msn.com.

If any one has information about who to contact for other candidates, please leave that information as a comment.

More information about the Presidential Primary will be coming soon.


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My Semester with Snowflakes

This article was written by James Hatch, a retired servicemen, combat wounded veteran. It was originally published at Medium (https://gen.medium.com/).
I would like to thank Comment-er D’Artagnan for bringing this article to our attention

In May of 2019, I was accepted to the Eli Whitney student program at Yale University. At 52, I am the oldest freshman in the class of 2023. Before I was accepted, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen the infamous YouTube video of students screaming at a faculty member. I had seen the news stories regarding the admissions scandal and that Yale was included in that unfortunate business. I had also heard the students at Yale referred to as “snowflakes” in various social media dumpsters and occasionally I’d seen references to Ivy League students as snowflakes in a few news sources.

I should give a bit of background information. I was an unimpressive and difficult student in public schools. I joined the military at 17 and spent close to 26 years in the US Navy. I was assigned, for 22 of those years to Naval Special Warfare Commands. I went through SEAL training twice, quit the first time and barely made it the second time. I did multiple deployments and was wounded in combat in 2009 on a mission to rescue an American hostage.

Every single day I went to work with much better humans than myself. I was brought to a higher level of existence because the standards were high and one needed to earn their slot, their membership in the unit. This wasn’t a one-time deal. Every time you showed up for work, you needed to prove your worth… read more

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I Yield Back My Time

This article was written and submitted by Lee Marcus of Arkport, Steuben County

bright daylight environment forest

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Inasmuch as one wonderful thing leads to its exact rotten opposite, November 8, 2016 was to blame. It was a gem of an autumn day. Cool air, brilliant sunshine, full fall-fabulous foliage. A friend and I decided to drive to Rochester and visit the grave of Susan B. Anthony. And so did several hundred others. The line to the grave was two hours long, but nobody seemed to mind. People smiling ear to ear, hugging, taking pictures. It was a sacred pilgrimage. We had all just voted for the first woman president, and that was going to change everything. EVERYTHING! It was the dawning of a common sense world. A practical, no-nonsense, kinder, gentler, America. And the rescue of democracy from the threat of …

Well, you know what happened. The shock of it. The say-it-isn’t-so of it. The Women’s March of it. The Allen-Town-Hall-in-a-mud-puddle of it. The DON’T-LOOK-AWAY-NOT-FOR-ONE-MOMENT of it. It’s that right there.

I get this way in an airplane. As soon as the movie’s over, I start. Gotta pay attention to every sound, every little bump and sway; strangle the armrests, keep an eye on the ground, and sweat. How else is this plane ever gonna land safely?

That’s me, since November 8, 2016. Well, People, you’re on your own now. I quit. I yield back my time. Check it out: I don’t know what You-Know-Who tweeted while we were sleeping. Joe Scarborough can rant until the cows come home, but I won’t hear him; I’d rather hang with the cows. I will miss Ms. Maddow and long for Ari Melber, but something had to be done. I knew it when my partner said I needed an intervention. He’s a resourceful man, and there’s no telling what he was up to. But when he said, “think of all the things you could be doing with your time,” well, I did. And by “time,” I believe he was taking the longer view. Not just this morning or this day, but this life. There’s only so much time, full stop.

So you’ll have to go on without me. Our cat has taken my place on the couch, and there’s no arguing with Sluggo. I am painting. Re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Playing the piano. Messing with words again. Walking in the woods. Cleaning the refrigerator. And making phone calls for the Mitrano campaign, so yes. I have some responsibility as a passenger on this plane. But I don’t have to land it. I yield back my time. To me!

Oh, by the way, I have concocted a plan that would kneecap racism and save our democracy. If you’re interested, write to me.

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