Temple of Democracy

Unity? Peace? Not without truth. These traitors to the temple of democracy must swear allegiance to the Union of which we stand. They must publicly declare the election legitimate before joining any committee seats of power. District voters can decide their fate in the next election. I would advocate removal.

147 plus 6. Two disturbing numbers that began 2021. On January 6th, 147 Republican house members plus 6 Republican senators voted to steal the will of millions of Americans by attempting to overturn the election of President Biden. On January 9th, 1861 almost 160 years to the day these 147 plus 6 voted against our Union, South Carolina Citadel Cadets fired on the US flagged ship STAR OF THE WEST while resupplying the United States military installation at Fort Sumter, S.C. Thus, began the Civil War. And thus, the war continues.

The 2020 election was the most transparent election this country has ever witnessed. These leaders and media backers repeatedly called the election a fraud. Our United States Capital, our temple of democracy, where we gather to peacefully negotiate our differences is where these leaders tore at the very foundation of that temple. Their followers attacked our temple based on the lies told by these leaders. This is Civil War.

Unity? Peace? Not without truth. These traitors to the temple of democracy must swear allegiance to the Union of which we stand. They must publicly declare the election legitimate before joining any committee seats of power. District voters can decide their fate in the next election. I would advocate removal. To solve any problem, you need to agree on facts. Solutions come in many forms. Going forward we need reliable political parties both conservative and liberal who speak truth in order have a more perfect union. Anything less is a lost cause.

My Date with Christine Lagarde

My wife thinks highly of Christine Lagarde and can see why I would want a date with her. So she laughed and said “OK, you get a hall pass and can date Christine Lagarde”.

I have a crush on Christine Lagarde. I told my wife that Christine was coming to a Norfolk, Virginia speaker’s forum and I wanted a date with her. She is quite charming I said. And she is one of the most powerful women in the world. My wife thinks highly of Christine Lagarde and can see why I would want a date with her. So she laughed and said “OK, you get a hall pass and can date Christine Lagarde” never thinking I was serious.

Let me fill you in on Christine. She is a French lawyer and Chairwoman and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Prior to that she led the international law firm of Baker and Mckenzie and also held various posts in the French government including acting as the French finance minister.  This was a first for a woman. She was elected and then reelected to a second term as the IMF Chairwoman. Another first for a woman. She is a vegetarian and rarely sips alcohol. She was once on the French swim team. She is a global banker, politician and humanist with a warm heart. Her intelligence and playful wit are mesmerizing. Yep, I’m smitten!

The Proposal

I’m a cunning linguist myself. Especially when stimulated by well-educated company. Most educated people display a quick-witted sense of humor that I enjoy. I read that Christine likes a good story.  Nothing brings out a good story like being in the cockpit of a sailboat. So, I decided to invite Christine for a day sail on my trimaran. As Sherlock Holmes would say, “The game is on!”

Christine was speaking in Norfolk in June, so I had three months to make this happen.   I found her Facebook page and, knowing that she likes a good story, posted a link to a few of the short stories on my publishing site. Not long afterwards, I noticed that I had a new subscription from France. Was it her? Maybe! Maybe not.

I decided to reach out to Madame Lagarde directly on instant message and offered to act as her concierge while visiting the Norfolk area. I said I could arrange for her to stay at the Old Cavalier Hotel and explained that presidents and celebrities have stayed at this elegant hotel over the last hundred years. The hotel is perched high on a sand dune overlooking the ocean in Virginia Beach. Of course, I offered to make sure she arrived in time to speak at The Forum….and then offered to take her sailing the day after the forum!

A month went by and I decided to not pursue Madame Lagarde any further.. Then I saw a notice from my publishing site. Someone had added a comment at the bottom of my essay titled “The Extremely Rare Sound of Silence.” It was from Christine Lagarde! “Bravo” she wrote. “Well expressed and very true.” “CL”. That made my day.

May was here. Warmer days and the bright yellow cacophony of daffodils and pink cherry blossoms made me forget my proposal to Christine Lagarde. Then one day, my cell phone caller ID lit up with a call from a private number. Normally I would let a call like this go to voice mail.  However, I was waiting for a business call so answered my phone. It was Christine Lagarde!

She Called!

“Hello Douglas,” she began. “This is Christine Lagarde.”

“Hello Madame Lagarde,” I exclaimed. “I am flattered you called me!”

“Please,” she said in her French-accented English, “call me Christine.”

“Christine it is.”

“I want to acknowledge your offer to take me sailing when I am in Norfolk. I do love the water,” she explained.

I replied, “I know that about you. I follow you on the Web.  After seeing several of your speeches, you strike me as a banker who encourages a healthy capitalism around the world –  not just for growth for investors, but for the good of societies and the health of the earth.”

“Nice to be noticed –  you sell real estate, yes?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I can see from your writing you are more than one thing.”

I realized I was on the phone with the chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund. She has met with presidents, kings, queens, and spoken at countless G-7 summits. And yet she seemed so down to earth.  I wanted to be on my best game.

“Yes, I replied, like most people am more than one thing. I have many questions about the economic forces that rock my world. How can you have infinite growth in a finite world? How can capitalism keep from eating itself as it has done over centuries? As it did in 2008? If money is the only thing that is universally sacred, how can we use that to motivate companies and governments to preserve the air we breathe and the water we drink?

Christine stopped me before I got too comfortable on my soapbox, “What do you mean by universally sacred?”

“You interviewed a futurist writer Yuval Noah Harari. He pointed to the Isis fighters in Iraq who blew up an 800-year-old mosque and destroyed priceless art yet when they came upon pallets of cash brought into Iraq by the Americans, they didn’t burn them. They saved them. All those green colored paper rectangles with pictures of American presidents were sacred to them. Money is the only thing that is universally regarded as sacred.”

“Christine,” I continued, “I have admired you from a distance for some time. I think you are one of the good guys…no, let me rephrase that.”

“Please do,” Christine interjected.

“… one of the good women on the planet. That’s why I reached out to you when I saw that you were coming to Norfolk,” finishing my sentence.

“Tell me about your sailboat” she said.

“If you really want to get a guy talking, ask him about his boat,” I laughed.

This is going well I thought as the voice in my head shouted out, “you are talking with CHRISTINE LAGARDE!”

I composed myself.   “My boat is a 37-foot trimaran. She is 30+ years old and a beautiful sailor. She is very stable, sailing flat and fast. Very suited to the Chesapeake Bay and June is a perfect month to sail the area. We can sail the Elizabeth River and I’ll show you the waterfront. I know you love the water. I promise safety and good conversation if you will honor me with your presence.”

There was a pause. My heart started beating faster. Then Christine replied, “My staff has taken your recommendation of the Cavalier Hotel. You needn’t worry about my transportation to the Forum. I have a day free after that and I would be delighted to go sailing with you.”

“Fabulous!” I exclaimed.” I will pick you up at 9 A.M. at the Cavalier Hotel.”

“I look forward to our sail,” she replied with smile in her voice.

We hung up.

I texted my wife. “I have a date with Christine Lagarde!”

I got an emoticon back from my wife. It was a face with one raised eyebrow followed by !?

The Date

The day of my sail with Christine just happened to land on the same day that the City of Norfolk holds its Harborfest celebration. Tall ships from around the world sail in a long parade along with US Naval Warships and warships from other countries. It is quite the international event. Norfolk doesn’t look any finer than during Harborfest. A large spectator fleet sails along with full colors flying. Now, Christine Lagarde and were going to be a part of the spectator fleet.

I met Christine in the lobby of the Cavalier. We are both in our early 60’s. She has a beautiful coif of short silver hair and is very fit looking.  Her apparel consisting of a black one-piece bathing suit over which she had donned blue khaki shorts and a light blue windbreaker. I focused on her shoes.. You need to have shoes that won’t slip on the deck. She had perfect sailing sneakers had a great warm smile as we shook hands.

“Delighted to meet you Douglas,” she said.

“The pleasure is mine! And please call me Doug.”

“Doug it is,” she smiled.

We arrived at the Rebel Marina where I keep our boat. It was a churning with activity as people readied their boats for the Parade of Sail to downtown Norfolk. The lead boat in the parade is the Norfolk Rebel based at the marina. She had all her flags flying and I could hear her big diesel engine purring. I got a few sidelong glances from those I knew on the docks as they checked out Christine. Sailors are the biggest gossips. “Where is the Queen Admiral?” they asked referring to the nickname for my wife.

“She’s not going today,” I said.

“Hmmmm,” was the reply. Mostly from the female crew members.

I had previously prepared the boat for today’s sail and packed some sandwiches, hummus dips and a selection of teas for lunch. Just in case I also packed a split of Champagne to celebrate at the end of the day. Feeding a Frenchwoman puts a lot of pressure on a guy! I read that Christine rarely drinks alcohol, but I am a sailor. Always prepared.

I noticed right away that Christine was light on her feet, easily stepping onto the boat and up into the cockpit. She asked, what could she do? I explained how she could help tend a line on a cleat as we backed out of the slip. It was not lost on me that Christine properly wrapped the cleat. This lady knows her way around a boat!

“You’ve sailed before?” I asked.

“Of course, I am French!” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

Cast Off

We got the mainsail up and motor sailed to join the spectator fleet in the Elizabeth River. The Norfolk Rebel had already started leading the parade, so we fell in with the fleet.

On the portside are the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier piers. And stretching for quite a distance are the U.S. Navy destroyer piers and submarine piers.

I pointed to the long row of piers and ships, “That is the largest naval base in the world.”

Christine took it all in and replied, “That base is one of the results of the United States becoming the world power and leader it is today.” After World War I, the U.S. pulled back and became isolationist. But the world’s troubles are persistent. No country is an island and World War II changed the whole world order.”

“The isolationists all disappeared after we were attacked at Pearl Harbor,” I replied.

“And the world has been intricately connected ever since the war ended,” said Christine. “Especially from a banking perspective.”

“Speaking of wars and banking let me get on my soapbox for a minute,” I began.

“Uh-oh,” said Christine as she settled in the boat’s cockpit.

I was steering the boat and starting to wave my hands around, “In the United States when Greatest Generation (as they are now called) went to war, the government raised taxes to pay for it. They also sold around $180 billion in what were called war bonds. The tax rates varied from 23% for lower income earner to 94% for higher earners. It was a shared sacrifice. Today we go to war and lower taxes! The Iraq war is a great example. The tax rates were lowered to 10% for lower income people to a high of 35% for higher income folks. We started the war with a budget surplus from the dot com economy. But we immediately blew though almost 2 trillion dollars in deficit spending during the war. The ME generation had arrived. And we are still doing it!”

I took a breath, “The public no longer shares the financial sacrifice of any war their country is fighting. I think that any leader who declares a war should be required to declare a war tax to pay for it. That way the public would feel the financial sacrifice of going to war and could debate if this war is warranted.”

“Bravo!” said Christine.

“I relinquish my soapbox, for the moment anyway,” I bowed.

Trading on the River

We continued up the river along with the colorful flotilla of tall ships, their uniformed sailors singing in the rigging. It was magnificent! On both sides of the river the Ports of Virginia International shipping terminals loomed. Huge ships bigger than aircraft carriers are tied up underneath the loading cranes in a well-coordinated ballet of international trade. More goods are being brought in than are going out. Most goods are coming from China.

“So, Christine, you have a unique perch as head of the IMF. You monitor national economies and their fiscal policies. And the IMF steps in to help fund an economy that threatens the world economic stability. What are your worries?”

“How many hours do we have today?” she replied.  “You are spot on describing the commitment of The Greatest Generation.  The IMF was created from the Breton Woods Agreement in 1944. It set in place an international foreign currency exchange to prevent nations from using the value of their currencies as a weapon against other nations. The purpose of the IMF was then, and still is, to promote widespread and stable global economic growth.  For almost 80 years, it has fulfilled its mission.”

We turned to wave at another boat crew motor-sailing just off our starboard side. Boaters do that. We all wave no matter how big or small the boat. There is an egalitarian brotherhood on the water. We are all in the same boat.

“But you asked me what I worry about,” Christine continued. “I worry most that governments spend way more than they take in. Greece is just one of the more glaring examples. The U.S. is treading into deeper waters in that regard. The U.S. is not Greece by any measure. However, the large deficit numbers the U.S. and other nations are accruing will make it very difficult to weather the next economic storm. And there will always be another storm.”

“It seems as if there are always those who tear at the fabric of institutions that provide the stability we all count on.”

“Oh yes!” exclaimed Christine, “From the very beginning there have been two primary competing camps of economic theory. Economist John Maynard Keynes was in one camp and Milton Friedman in the other. Each has had their followers since the 1940’s. Keynes was one of the architects of the IMF.  It is among other institutions that the world leans on for peace and financial stability.  His macroeconomic theories are the basis for liberal capitalism and have been adopted by almost all capitalist governments.”

“What’s the main difference between the two theories?” I asked.

“In basic form Milton Friedman was a supply sider who felt markets will level themselves. Capitalism will ride booms and bust and occasionally just crash, but private market forces of supply and demand will eventually cause the market to find some equilibrium. Government should not intervene.”

“Hmmmm,” I said. “I don’t like that model. I lost 40% of my invested retirement funds in the 2008 financial meltdown. President Clinton should have never teamed up with Newt Gingrich in repealing the Glass-Steagall Act.”

“Right,” said Christine. “That act was put in place in 1933 after the Great Depression market collapse. It separated commercial banks from investment banks. The repeal of Glass-Steagall allowed those banks to take deposits and invest them in risky derivatives.”

I started waving my hands around again, “It was pure greed on the part of banks!  I had a front row seat selling real estate then. Mortgage lenders were offering interest only loans at 110% of the value of the property. They charged big upfront fees and then sold the loans as derivatives. Investors bought the derivatives thinking the collateral was safe American real estate.

“Yes,” Christine replied. “And when America gets a cold, the world gets the flu.”

“America got more than a cold,” I said using Christine’s analogy. “It took almost 7 years for my portfolio to recover its value.” Had there been well regulated banking laws in place to prevent this meltdown, I figure my net worth would be double what it is now. This really hurt the country. The bankers made millions of dollars. Some of the CEOs got $20 million dollar bonuses. The rest of us got caught in their web.”

“So, Christine,” I asked, “Was the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act a rejection of Keynesian macroeconomics and an embrace of Milton Friedman’s Supply Side economics?”

“Yes, and the recovery employed by President Obama was an application of Keynesian macroeconomics. Just as it was employed by FDR after the Great Depression,” she replied.

I remarked, “There is saying from WW II that “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I guess another saying would be “There are no Supply Siders during a depression.”

“Not so,” Christine replied. “The Supply Siders are always there.” Both in the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the Great Recession starting in 2008 there were the Supply Siders who argued that any institution should be allowed to fail including banks, the auto industry and the insurance industry – meaning even people with savings accounts could lose their money.  The supply siders see opportunity in those failures.”

“So why do governments do it?” I asked. “Why do they lower taxes and force government to borrow money to pay for them?”

“There is a sugar high for the economy from lowering taxes,” she replied. But it is typically short lived, and the data is pretty sketchy on the longer-term stimulus to the economy. “It’s called the “trickle down” theory.. The reduced tax rates benefit the wealthy the most. The spending by the wealthy is supposed to trickle down through the economy.”

“So, the investor class cashes in, but the country is left with a huge deficit to pay,” I remarked. “This I know. If my government had not bailed out the banks and industry, I would never have recovered in time to save enough to retire. And we would not be sailing on this boat today.”

Christine replied “Your investments were not the only thing that recovered. The auto companies repaid the bail-out money and thrived. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who were bailed out to the tune of $180 billion, paid it all back and are now a cash cow to the U.S treasury. $88 billion was added back into the U.S. Treasury so far.  Additional billions are still being added each year.”

I decided to get up on my soapbox again, “It frosts me when I see greed triumph and tear down my country. The combined policies of past six presidents created the largest, most prosperous, middle class the world has ever seen. FDR created Social Security, the Federal Housing Administration and the 30-year mortgage. Before that almost no one could afford to buy a home. Truman integrated the military, spreading prosperity. Eisenhower created the interstate highway system investing in the country and seeding future prosperity…..,”

“I like IKE!” Christine jumped in repeating Eisenhower’s campaign slogan.

I wasn’t done yet, ….“Kennedy and the space program. Johnson and Medicare. Richard Nixon signed equal housing laws further adding to the middle class. All these Keynesian macroeconomic programs make me proud of my government. So, it really got to me in the 1980’s when Ronald Reagan campaigned on the slogan ‘Government is not the answer. Government is the problem.’ A huge disservice to this country. He sowed a lasting cynicism that is still hurting the country today.” Now, I yield my soapbox”.

Music from a boat next to ours floated across the water. It was a vintage Sonny and Cher tune.

“The beat goes on”, she said.

“The beat goes on”, I replied.

Roll play

The Norfolk Southern Railway coal export piers were on our port side as we rounded the final bend towards the skyline of downtown Norfolk. I offered Christine the wheel of the boat. She jumped right in and took command. I watched her pilot our ship and saw she had it.   I sat back and pointed to the coal export piers receding in our wake and asked, “Care to role play with me?”

“What part do I play? Christine replied.

“You are Madame Venture Capitalist looking to invest in the energy business. Here is my pitch. I propose to open coal mines in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio. Mostly surface strip mines. I will build a rail system to transport the coal to power plants and to export terminals 300-500 miles away. The coal will load on ships and travel 12,000 miles to power stations overseas. Questions?”

Madame Venture Capitalist replied. “How much do you pay coal miners?

“Average $60k a year,” I replied.

Madame VC: “And do you supply benefits like health insurance?”

Me: “Yes. We pay into lifetime health insurance and pension fund.”

Madame VC: “Lifetime? Isn’t mining very dangerous? Many of them get black lung disease?”

Me: “True. But if the insurance pension fund runs dry, the federal government steps in and funds it.  It is called The Promise. It’s an exchange for providing a stable energy source.”

Madame VC: “What are the environmental costs? Don’t these mines create a big toxic mess?

Me: “Yes. Mining obliterates the area. Chemicals like mercury, arsenic, sulfur and uranium drain into the waterways for decades. But all we must do is put up a bond that says we will clean up the area. We clean the best we can, then get an inspector to sign off and we get our bond money back.”

Madame VC: “So, you transport the coal by train and by ships. That’s a lot of power to generate power? Seems inefficient.”

Me: “It is. But the consumers will pay the cost.”

Madame VC: “The power plants also generate air pollution.”

Me: “Yes, the smokestacks emit arsenic, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium, beryllium, cadmium, barium, chromium. You get the picture. But we don’t have to worry about the cost of those. Not on our balance sheet.”

Madame VC: “What about the ash generated by the power plants?”

Me: “We store it. Pretty much forever. Of course forever means it leaks into the waterways.”

Madame VC: “What about the Co2 generated by the power plant? I read that the build up of Co2 is contributing to the climate changing.”

Me: “Again. Not our cost. Not on our balance sheet.”

Madame VC: “To summarize your proposal. Your business model extracts coal, transports it, and burns it to generate power. The Full Cycle Accounting of this business plan does not include the full health cost of the miners, does not include the real cost of maintaining a clean mine site, or the full cost of restoring the mine site. It does not include the cost of pollution to the air and water. So, your business profits from the upside and the tax payers pay for the downsides. Sounds like a good return on the dollar.”

Me: “Yes, the sacred dollar.”

The spectator fleet of boats had arrived in the harbor between the cityscapes of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. Christine went to the bow of the boat to take in the waterfront panorama. Thousands of spectators were crowding the festival to watch the parade of boats pass by. Horns and whistles were blowing. Tugboats spouted big water plumes from their firefighting cannons. Tall ships, with crews in the rigging and bands playing on deck added to the cacophony in the harbor. Everyone waving to everyone!

Lunch at Anchor

We dropped anchor in Crawford Bay in order where to watch the activity along the Norfolk waterfront. I set up the cockpit tables for lunch and passed Christine some caprese sandwiches. From the galley I produced a tray of olives, cut carrots, radishes and some spicy pickles. We sat opposite each other and took in the view of the Norfolk.

“Norfolk is a beautiful city,” I said. “It’s going to be facing some serious challenges due to the changing climate.”

“Most areas around the world are in the same boat, some are flooding, some are drying up, some areas are getting hit with super storms they have never have experienced before,” replied Christine.

“This city is dealing with continually rising water. It some areas a regular high tide on a nice day is flooding properties. I worry that people are taking 30-year mortgages on properties that will be uninhabitable at the end of the loan term,” I said.

Christine remarked, “There is a financial case to change the way we generate energy and the way we construct buildings.”

“Explain the building construction part.” I said.

Christine replied, “Even though the way we generate energy gets all the attention for adding greenhouse gases to the biosphere, it’s only 35% of the story. Population growth and the building boom will add an area the size of New York City every 40 months doubling the world structures footprint by the year 2060.”

“It will take a lot of energy to build and power all that. They better be net-zero buildings, or the planet is going to get really hot!” I exclaimed. “Is there a financial incentive to build that way?”

Christine answered, “Until there is a universal agreement that this needs to be done, it is a big challenge. Bill Gates’ investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures is teaming up with the European Commission to help companies solve these issues. There are many others working in that direction.”

“My country is not leading on this,” I said, “We pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Christine cheered me up, “Yes, but it’s a global market for transportation and energy. Companies are bringing energy efficient vehicles and energy production solutions to satisfy the demand in the 185 countries that did sign the agreement. Due to market forces, the U.S. will follow along anyway.  As you said on the phone, those green paper rectangles with presidents’ pictures on them are sacred even if the environment is not.”

“What about financial incentives to keep other countries from destroying essential forests like the Amazon rainforest? 20% of the planet’s oxygen comes from there. The new president of Brazil says he will allow it to be forested. Can the world banking system establish a monetary value on a forest and create a fund to pay them to preserve the rainforest?” I queried.

“Chaos from climate change is the challenge of this century,” replied Christine.

I replied “Let me challenge you. There are climate models that show we may be heading to a 4 degree raise in global temps by the year 2100. That’s in the life span of millennials and their children. At 4% warming we may reach a tipping point releasing huge amounts of carbon and methane from the artic permafrost causing a caustic environmental feedback loop. The displacement of millions of people due to flooding and extreme heat would cause a financial disaster for the global economy. The state of Florida would be swamped up to Tallahassee. Washington D.C. and New York City would be under water. And that pretty city we are looking at would be gone.”

“Pretty grim,” remarked Christine.

“So,” I continued, “I noticed on the IMF webpage there is a Capacity Development Agreement with the European Commission to deal with exogenous shocks. Meaning shocks from outside the organism or developing from external factors. Would preventing the displacement of millions of people and loss of billions of green paper rectangles with presidents’ pictures be an exogenous shock?

She replied “That reminds me of a quote from H.G Wells. ‘Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ Would you like to convince your Congress and President to step up to the challenge?”

“I’m afraid the pockets of my country’s politicians are lined by mining and fossil fuel corporations who can support them anonymously with unlimited sacred cash. It’s called the Citizens United Ruling.  The only thing us citizens can do to combat it is to vote. And the big corporations do everything they can to gerrymander the vote in their favor.”

The Sail Home

We finished lunch and I noticed the boat had swung on her anchor. The tide was running in our favor for the sail back down the Elizabeth River. And we are going fly back down the river! The wind came up to a perfect 15 knots from the west. I started the diesel engine to motor us out of the anchorage. Christine worked the mainsail halyard and we raised the sail. I could tell she enjoyed the activity after our lunch.

We let out the headsail and I shut down the diesel. The engine noise was replaced by the satisfying sound of the boats three hulls picking up speed down the river. I was standing next to Christine at the wheel. We both had our hands on the wheel. I quickly realized she was not about to yield piloting our ship to me. This woman is used to being in charge. I let go and adjusted the sails to the course Christine set. Looking aft, I saw that we were picking up speed. Where we once had three wakes from the three hulls, we now had just two wakes. The windward hull was now out of the water. We were in perfect trim.

“Christine, you are one of the few women in positions of power and leadership around the world.”

Yes, it’s raining men,” she replied sardonically.

“I grew up with three sisters. My mother was ahead of her time in the 1960’s. She was smart, articulate, well informed and had a career. She passed her intellectual curiosity on to all of us.”

“I would have loved to meet her.”

“In a way she is here now.”

Christine smiled, “Your mother would like that I and others have shown that by bringing women into the fold the world economy would benefit from their talents, skill, perspectives and ideas. Bring women in boosts GDP and leads to higher wages for all. One study shows that adding one more woman in senior management or a corporate board adds a return on assets by 10 basis points.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Women on banking boards result in greater financial resiliency and stability. They don’t bet the house! They require larger capital reserves to ride out rough periods than men do.”

“You mean like not loaning 110% of the value of a property?!”

“Good example,” replied Christine.

We were really flying now. We made the bend in the river passing the coal export terminal. Christine set a new course and I adjusted the sails to her new course. Soon we were passing the International Shipping Terminals where we had to alter course to dodge one of the huge ships. Our windward hull was still flying, and the leeward hull was kicking up spray as we approached the Naval Base. A security boat with its blue light bar flashing came roaring out to defend its territory around the aircraft carriers. We made the entrance to Willoughby Bay and jibed the sails for the final leg back to Rebel Marina.

Christine had a broad grin on her face that you only get from a perfect sail. “Well done!” she said.

“Bravo!” I replied.

We put the boat away and I drove Christine back to the Old Cavalier Hotel. We didn’t touch the split of Champagne. Who needs Champagne when you are already high?

In the lobby of the hotel I turned to Christine, “Thank you for spending your precious time with me. You can’t invest time and get more time in return. You can’t build or manufacture more time. Time is the rarest of all things. You chose to spend your limited time with me today. I’m honored.”

Christine leaned in to kiss me on the cheek, “It was an honor to be with you today.”

We parted and I went home to my wife. She looked at me and saw that I was glowing.

She smiled, “You know that hall pass was not free. You owe me a two-week cruise on the boat.”

Pirate Radio

Once we were on the air our radio station frequency would wander around the upper end of the FM dial and sometimes just fall right off the dial.

After the prosecuting attorney finished his case against me it was my attorney’s turn to defend me in the United States v Jesse Douglas. The charge? Operating a Pirate Radio station.

My attorney began, your honor and ladies and gentlemen of the jury. As you hear the testimony and read the case before you, I hope you will consider the amount of time that has passed since the defendant committed his crimes. We realize the punishment for this crime is up to 5 years in jail and a maximum of a $25,000 fine. The defense points to the fact that every seven to ten years all cells in the human body are completely replaced. This crime occurred more than 30 years earlier. So, the defendant Jesse Douglas has no connection with those cells that committed this crime and is therefore innocent. I looked at my attorney. I’m toast.

So began my trial for the crime of Pirate Radio. Let me explain how I got here. In the late 1960’s I would spend summers at my grandparents’ home in River Edge, New Jersey just across the Hudson River from New York City where I listened to Wolfman Jack at WNBC in New York. My grandfather had an old tube type radio that rested on the bed stand. It was about as big as a bread box and made of mahogany with a beautiful dial labeled with AM frequencies of 55 kHz to 1600 kHz. The dial had a warm amber glow when you turned the room lights down low. This was before FM radio.

I brought the radio back home to Alexandria, Virginia where at night in my darkened room I tuned into worlds far away. When the sun goes down AM radio signals bounce off the earth’s ionosphere and travel great distances. I still listened to Wolfman Jack at WNBC in New York. I listened to WLS in Chicago, the first station in the United States to play the Beatles. It amazed me that at nighttime the power of WLS reached 38 states. From Northwest Washington D.C. just up the river from me came WRC and The Joy Boys. WRC was where Willard Scott who later became Ronald McDonald and the NBC-TV Today Show weather man launched his career. His partner Ed Walker who was blind had a variety of character voices. They would improvise skits for hours and sounded like they were having the kind of fun I wanted to have.

I was always interested in how things work. Particularly electronics like tape recorders and radios. My dad gave me some small reel to reel recorders that had been used in the newspaper business to record interviews. I tore them apart and rebuilt them as an electronic organ for a school project. The assignment was to make a musical instrument. Other kids made drums out of oatmeal containers or banjo’s out of cigars boxes. My organ was crude, but it made synthesized sounds that approximated a music scale.

I later rebuilt it to bug a tent where some girls I knew were camping out in their parents’ back yard. That’s the first time I also learned how to build a small transmitter. It was fun listening to the girls play truth or dare. The girls dared each other to run around the block naked. Us boys were ready. We hid in the bushes at the corner. The neighborhood was dead silent at 1 in the morning. That silence was broken by the unbelievably high pitch sound of young girls shrieking as we jumped out of the bushes. It scared the hell out of us. Everybody ran in different directions.

I didn’t have much of a plan at the end of high school, but I saw a course description offered at Northern Virginia Community College. Introduction to Broadcast Radio. I was in. The course was taught by two guys working in commercial radio. One guy was the morning host at WWDC in Washington. The other guy whose name was Bob worked at WOL in D.C. He was called Bobbis. Bobbis eventually became my housemate where we had the Pirate Radio station.

After several months of hanging around radio stations I decided this was it. I wanted in. At the time there were two required broadcast licenses you needed to be on the air. There was a 3rd class license that allowed you to be a radio announcer. Then there was a 1st class broadcast engineers license that allowed you to be on air and to work on commercial transmitters. I decided to go for the 1st class engineer’s license.

There was a technical school in Sarasota Florida that specialized in broadcast engineering. I was self-studied in electronic circuitry. Heathkits were big with electronic nerds back then. I had a Heathkit that taught circuitry and I learned how to calculate voltage, current, amps, wattage and resistance. What interested me most was RF. Radio frequency. I wondered how on the transmitter end do you generate a frequency, attach an audio signal to it and on the other end have a radio grab that frequency and strip the audio signal off it to get music?  It’s called the superheterodyne principle and it still fascinates me. So, I enrolled in the Radio Engineering Institute.

REI was housed in the Old Will Rogers Theater in mid-70’s sleepy Sarasota. I had a dorm room with the other students behind the balcony on the second floor of the theater. On Sunday we woke to the Southern Baptist congregation that used the theater for their service. There was no sleeping through it. There was fire and brimstone coming from theater. I would sometimes slip into the balcony to catch my dose of dogma. “The dark stain of Islam will sink in the wake of the ship of Christianity” the minister exalted as he pointed to the heavens. The Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by Palestinian terrorist was still fresh. I guessed then that religions are going to fight each other until our sun is a cool burnt ember. Science will settle this dispute.

School was intense. I teamed up with a guy name Marty from Ohio. His family owned a radio station in Canton. We made flash cards with the circuitry formulas. We carried them everywhere and we chanted the formulas as we made our way to the beach each day after school. We made up prose like this. In Electronics Please Read Instructions to Repair. The first letter of each word represented part of a circuitry formula. P equals power. R equals resistance and so on. I can still do those formulas from that experience. The goal was to pass the Federal Communications Commission 1st class engineering test. We did.

I headed back to the D.C. area and immediately got a job at WPRW in Manassas, Virginia. And I fell back in with the radio guys. I was now one of them. Soon I moved on to WINX in Rockville, Maryland where I did the six to midnight shift. I was having fun and getting paid. Not much but still getting paid a whole dollar an hour over minimum wage.  I knew many of the guys who were on air at other stations in the same time slot. We would talk to each other on the phone while we were on the air and listen to each other do jokes and bits between the records. If you were driving around the D.C. beltway switching from radio station to radio station it would not be unusual for you to hear the same joke in succession on each station. Shameless!

The meager pay forced us radio heads to rent a house together. I found a house high up on Beacon Hill overlooking Alexandria and the Potomac River. There were three of us in a four-bedroom house in a suburban blue collar neighborhood called Groveton. There was Bobbis, the Italian American from Baltimore. And Sky King, the heavy-set Virginia redneck and me Jesse Douglas, a skinny guy just out of high school. All of us were employed on air at radio stations around the area. Sky King and I held 1st class engineers’ licenses. This is pertinent for the court case as we embarked on building a Pirate Radio station in the house.

An engineer friend tipped us off that NBC was rebuilding their radio studios in Northwest D.C. He said we could have any of the old broadcasting equipment they were tossing. We loaded up vans full of 1950’s mixing boards and audio racks. Reel to reels and huge turntables that were as big as washing machines. Our living room décor was early American broadcasting. We built a broadcasting studio and now we needed a transmitter. Sky King and I went to work building one from a schematic. Since we were scrimping, we didn’t buy high quality components. There is a huge difference in components that have a 1% tolerance from those that have a 10% tolerance especially when you start adding them together. Once we were on the air our radio station frequency would wander around the upper end of the FM dial and sometimes just fall right off the dial. This was due to changing temperature and humidity. No matter. We billed our selves as the wandering radio station. We ran the transmitter antenna way up a tall oak tree high atop Beacon Hill. The effect was impressive for a low power F.M. transmitter. Our station signal covered the George Washington Parkway into Alexandria and across the river just into D.C. Not wise, as the Federal Communications office is pretty much on the riverfront.

We named the station WBKS, South Alexandria. We played anything we wanted. The neighborhood started to tune in. We were naive enough to give out the station phone number for music request. If we ran out of groceries, we would play your favorite tune if you brought us a gallon of milk. Soon we were getting brownies and all kinds of food.

To cut our expenses even more we rented out the fourth bedroom to a friend of mine named Penny. She had long brown hair and had a mystical air about her. She was not in the radio world. From the start there was friction. She didn’t care for all this male radio bravado. Bad things started happening to Sky King. He developed food poisoning and was admitted to the hospital. He recovered and was back on the air at WWDC but then ran his car into an iron beam that extended out the back of a truck bed on the beltway. The beam went right through his windshield missing Sky Kings head.

Sky King was very superstitious. He thought Penny was a witch and had cursed him. He and Bobbis went for a drive on the GW parkway to talk about it. They were listening to our pirate radio station. Sky King cued up KC and the Sunshine Bands album on the station before they left. I came home while they were out. I couldn’t stand K.C so I put on an old Fats Waller tune called The Girl I Left Behind Me. Sky King was sitting with Bobbis in Sky Kings freshly repaired car overlooking the Potomac River along the parkway. He heard the Fats Waller tune and blew his temper. Sky King yelled and punched the air. He missed and hit his new windshield. It shattered with a lighting crack across it. See Bobbis! She’s a witch! Somehow attributing all his bad luck to Penny.

The next week Sky King was at work on the air when he said one of the seven dirty words comedian George Carlin joked you cannot say on the air. Sky King was fired. Somehow that brought scrutiny to our pirate radio station. Or it might have been the Christian radio station that we trampled across when our frequency drifted.

The jury heard the evidence presented by the Christian radio station attorney. How instead of listening to the lord’s word the listeners were subjected to Shake Your Booty, Sympathy for the Devil and Fats Waller. The jury couldn’t help themselves. They tried to control it, but they snickered. Even the judge couldn’t contain a glint in his eyes. My attorney didn’t dispute the station and that as licensed engineers we should have known better. But she emphasized the low power and short term the station was on the air. And she noted no one has claimed financial damages due to lost advertising revenue.

The jury returned the next day with a verdict. Guilty. On sentencing the Judge said the 5-year prison term was too harsh for what was clearly young male stupidity. He suspended the prison term and imposed a thousand dollar fine. Then commented he was a Fats Waller fan.

The Extremely Rare Sound of Silence

No light. No sound. Just floating weightlessly naked in a warm salt water sea.

There is a city in northern Italy named Cremona whose claim to fame is the Stradivarius violin that was created in the late 1600’s. The Museo del Violino or Museum of the Violin in Cremona has become so concerned that the sound of the Stradivari violin may be lost forever that the museum has embarked on recording every individual note and transition that can be played on a Stradivari violin. Roughly 100,000 of them. This turns out to be very a challenging task in a very noisy world. They need absolute silence to make the recordings. The first attempts failed. The man-made sounds outside the studio made their way in. A car door slam. A truck rumbles. A woman dragging a suitcase across the cobblestone street. All those sounds made a signature in the initial recordings. Fortunately, the city’s mayor is the President of the Antonio Stradivarius Violin Foundation. He asked the city to be quiet during the recordings. They have blocked the street, and everyone is trying to keep it down.

This reinforced what I have been thinking for some time. One of the rarest of things on the planet is the man-made-free, sound of silence. I have camped in the Rocky Mountains and hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail. Even hours into the wilderness there is a persistent background of man-made sounds. Someone running a distant chainsaw. Far away roads with cars traveling. Jets flying over at 30,000 feet all make a sound signature.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates as part of his series on climate change laid down an astounding fact. By the year 2060 the number of buildings on the planet will double. He said that is the equivalent of constructing a city the size of New York every 4 months. The world is going to get a whole lot noisier.

When I was younger, I used to work a room full of people. At a party I made the rounds. Contributing loudly with music and conversation. Now even though I’ve got 100+ channels of Sirius XM in my car I frequently drive along in silence. Some people thrive with a lot of sound around them. Television always on. Radio always playing. Can they hear themselves?

I had a transition in the Moosehead Lake region in north west Maine. It was the quietest place I’ve ever been. We camped by a lake. I heard no jets. I heard no vehicles. I heard nothing but the silly calls of loons and the occasional crash of a moose through the underbrush. All I heard was my mind free associating in my inner space. It’s a wonderful playground in there. Synapsis flying from my right hemisphere to left. Left brain thought trains coming in on time. Making appointments. Planning the next trip. Counting dollars. And running into the right brain who says I love what you do for me, but let’s listen to some music. How about White Bird by It’s a Beautiful Day? Listen to this….White bird must fly, or she will die…the violin solo sends you away. I’ll bet it would be awesome on a Stradivari!  All in my head. The right brain is so much fun.

A friend gifted me a massage and then an hour in a sensory deprivation tank. No light. No sound. Just floating weightlessly naked in a warm salt water sea. When I walked outside afterword it was rush hour on the city street. I sat on a bench listening and watching the play before me. The Doppler sound of a skate board striking each crack in the sidewalk as the rider went by. My friend peeled me off the bench and took me out to dinner. My mind refreshed by marinating in its own broth.

Back in Cremona I hope they accomplish preserving the ancient sound of the Stradivarius. In the process the city may learn they like the extremely rare sound of silence and make it a habit. I recommend it.


He even said your sex life will be enhanced by being a vegetarian. Then Dr. Jerry said there was a downside to being vegetarian and that the has found a way to overcome it.

I worked for a small technology company in Norfolk, Virginia. One day the owner of the company announces he hired a corporate motivational speaker to give a talk on team building and better customer relations. The speakers name was Dr. Jerry or something. Dr. Jerry at first focused on good communication practices for working with customers and each other in the company. Practices like being an active listener. Acknowledging what the person said by repeating it back to them. And then responding with your thoughts. We often assume the other person is in sync with our thoughts only to find you are in different worlds. Like this.

First person: My wife and I were at the game this weekend.

You: I was there! I can’t believe the Hokies won!

First person: Not the Hokies! The Hoos playing Duke!

You: Oh. I was at the Hokies game. They played the Blue Devils.

You can see where this conversation could have ended up as an Abbot and Castello routine. Hoos on first?

Dr. Jerry talked about being in the moment. Every moment. When you are talking with someone, be present. Don’t think about the future or what happened an hour ago. As you work with another person thru a dense contract or a technical issue find the joy in the moment.  Is there any comedy in this moment? Any absurdity? Any way to make this so-called work turn into play? People start creating a language of two as they work with each other. The language of two builds a larger lexicon as time goes on. This creates a bond.

Dr. Jerry said this works for all relationships.  He said there will be conflicts and differences of opinions but acknowledging what the other person said goes a long way to resolving problems. Then Dr. Jerry took an abrupt turn.

Dr Jerry said he looks at things holistically and that means staying present in your own body. By staying healthy you are being a good team member, whether in a marriage or as a coworker. Dr Jerry said he is a vegetarian and touted the benefits as having more stable energy throughout the day. He even said your sex life will be enhanced by being a vegetarian. Then Dr. Jerry said there was a downside to being vegetarian and that the has found a way to overcome it.

Dr. Jerry opened a box and started handing out small bottles to everyone in the auditorium. I received my bottle and looked at the label. BEANO. The anti-gas treatment you can take before a meal.

I’ll have to hand it to Dr. Jerry. We found the absurdity in the moment. The whole company shared a code word that bound us together. Whenever there was a problem to overcome, we could reach for one of the many bottles that stood on the desk around the office and say BEANO!

Throwing My Weight Around

My “Spidey sense” says something is about to happen. I paced the hallway outside the brokers office door. I heard some raised voices and then a loud crash.

Master Ed. A Tai Chi master lived and taught Tia Chi in a Baltimore row house. It was a peaceful sanctum with hardwood floors, exposed brick and mature bonsai plants. Master Ed was huge. He looked like an Irish Catholic sumo wrestler. It was amazing to see how powerful and graceful he was.

So, I was his student.  From the start I arrived without wearing my right arm prosthesis thinking my right hook would not be useful in learning Tia Chi.  I learned to feel my center of gravity and to feel the weight of my extremities as they moved through the motions of “The Cat.”  Master Ed asked me to wear my hook to the next session.

When I arrived wearing my prosthesis Master Ed ask me to remove it. I did, and Master Ed took it and then held it up to his arm so that my right arm prosthesis was parallel down the length of his right arm. He began to move through “The Cat” feeling the weight of the hook at the end of the arm.  As he spun on his own axis the inertia forced the mass of the hook outward. He felt the arm shudder as the elbow joint stopped the range the arm would bend. He spun again and used that force to impact the hook on some padded bars used in sparring. He smiled.

Master Ed asked me to put the arm back on. Then he and I went to “push hands” a two-person exercise where each pushed the hands of the other testing and deflecting the weight and balance of the opponent. Master Ed showed me how I could throw the mass of the stainless-steel hook. He showed me how to turn in any direction throwing the mass of the metal unit while keeping a calm center of balance.

After most classes Master Ed would walk us down to a corner neighborhood bar. We got to be regulars there all decked out in our black Tia Chi uniforms. We were a bunch of guys lined up at the bar drinking Heinekens dressed in black Gi’s. Even though it was a rough area at night in 1970’s Baltimore somehow we never had a problem.

26 years later I am in my real estate office when a couple comes in. They are not my clients. They seem disturbed and ask for their agent. I watched them closely as their agent lead them into the managing brokers office and the door closed. My “Spidey sense” says something is about to happen. I paced the hallway outside the brokers office door. I heard some raised voices and then a loud crash.

I pushed open the door to see the agent had been slammed against the plate window and had blood coming down her face. My broker was reeling back in her chair and looming over her was a very large sumo wrestler of a woman who had grabbed a long gold pen from its stand on the brokers desk. The women’s arm was raised in the air using the gold pen as a dagger, her back to me. With a calmness and no fear, I swung the mass of my stainless-steel hook and caught the neck of the women knocking her off balance. She tripped backward towards me. I deflected her weight. As her husband came towards me, he eyed my hook. Hookie! he yelled. I served in Viet Nam! You people can’t treat us this way Hookie!

By that time others were in the room and the man and his wife backed out of the room. The receptionist had called the police and they quickly escorted the couple into two separate police cars. I don’t need to explain why the couple was there. Nothing they did could be justified. The woman would spend some time in prison. I spent some time thinking about my time in Baltimore with Ed, the Irish Catholic Sumo Tia Chi Master.

Angular Momentum

“What keeps the earth spinning?” I ask. ” I don’t know” she says and goes to look it up. She returns to say it’s Angular Momentum.

I open my eyes to see my wife standing next to me. She opens the blinds and I ask “Are we wobbling back the other way?” It’s the first morning after the Winter Solstice. “It’s not perceptible yet” she says. “What keeps the earth spinning?” I ask. ” I don’t know” she says and goes to look it up. She returns to say it’s Angular Momentum. It started a long time ago. There is almost no resistance to slow it down so it continues. “What are we doing today?” I ask. “Let’s clean the house and then celebrate the natural world” she says.  We will go for a walk on the salt marsh trails and sand dunes at First Landing State Park. It’s almost Christmas with its promise of hope and love. I am not feeling it. Crude discourse from all quarters offends my sense of being respectful and reasonable. Every religion rightfully claims persecution and they are correct. They are persecuted by every other religion. Even the Buddhist (The Buddhist!) are committing genocide against the Muslims in Myanmar. So we take our walk and celebrate Angular Momentum. Peace on Earth.

More Genius

The guy who sat next to me was a black guy. Very friendly. Very inner city looking. His dress was over sized baggy hip/hop. I was your typical white guy, beige chinos, blue shirt and blazer. No tie. Very hip. Not much hop.

I always thought I was savvy. I was going to use my many years in real estate to my benefit. Each city holds tax auctions where they sell off property that have unpaid property taxes where the owners never paid up. I got on the published list and then went about determining the value of each property on the list. There were about a hundred properties in Chesapeake, Virginia. I did my due diligence. Researching the multiple listing system and the city tax records and then driving around to each property to get a look at them. I had my target list of the top dollar I would bid for each property. I was ready.

I sit down front in the conference center as the room filled up with about 200 people. Man, I thought. I armed with the best data you could have on these properties. The guy who sat next to me was a black guy. Very friendly. Very inner city looking. His dress was over sized baggy hip/hop. I was your typical white guy, beige chinos, blue shirt and blazer. No tie. Very hip. Not much hop.

I ask him if he had been to these before. He said yeah, he had bought a lot of them. He asked me what I did, and I told him I was a Realtor. He told me he got his GED and then worked for a fence company installing chain link fences around industrial sites. But said he works for himself now buying property and renting it out.

The auction begins. The properties I wanted were all single-family homes. They came up for bid and each one was bid higher than what I felt they were worth. So, I sat on my hands. The guy next to me didn’t bid on any of those properties. In fact, he didn’t pay any attention to those. But he came alive when a series of properties that in my research I had scratched as not worth anything came up for bid.

These properties were mostly very small parcels on busy streets. To small to build on. Some with no utilities running to them. Most of them didn’t have a building on them or maybe an abandoned garage. The guy next to me bid $300 for one. And got it. No other bidders. And $700 for another and got it. No other bidders. And so on.

With the auction over I turned to him and said, “I researched these properties and scratched them. What are you doing with these things?” Big grin. He said “I put chain link fences around them. And then I call the power company and the gas company and the cable company and the city utility department. I ask them if they need a place to store their construction stuff in this area. I got dozens of these all over the place. They pay me $2000 or $3000 a month to store their pipes and wheels of fiber cable. No utilities. No roofs to fix or appliances to replace.


I watched him get into his brand-new BMW as I slinked away in my savvy beige chinos.


It’s that secret squirrel handshake that musicians develop performing together. In this case it’s a language of two.

What is a Genius? Would you recognize genius? Do you know a genius? There is no scientifically recognized definition of genius. But if you are paying attention you will find genius everywhere. I spot creative productivity in many corners. It’s a form of genius.

I was watching and listening to a music group called Mercy Creek. They are Jim and Cheryl. I have seen them many times in many different venues. They play what they call Aggressive Folk Rock. Earthy, Edgy Music with many CD titles of their music under their belts. Cheryl plays the heck out of a guitar and other string instruments. She is the singer of their band of two. Jim plays drums. That’s an understatement. Jim PLAYS percussion! He is mesmerizing to watch and hear. Both communicate on stage with each other, but you need to watch and listen to see it. It’s that secret squirrel handshake that musicians develop performing together. In this case it’s a language of two.

But where some genius’s show talent only in one area Jim and Cheryl show it across another skill set. Once I picked up on it fascinated me. During the breaks between music sets Jim and Cheryl visit with the folks who came to see them. And they are very present. They are genuinely interested in the lives of those that come to see them. They remember the last conversation you had with them even though they have played in 20 different places since seeing you and talked with hundreds of fans of their music. Very alive. Very present and in the moment. You matter.

Jim and Cheryl have created a world where they play their own music in small venues traveling a circuit with-in a hundred miles from where they live. They are living and thriving from the creative productivity in their heads. They are Genii.

Down with the Civic Ass

Our signs were a mix from slogans we had seen over the years. Like “In your guts, you know he’s nuts.” That was from the opponents of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. (Maybe this one should have been recycled for the 2016 campaign.)

It was 1968. The world was protesting. Martin Luther King led the civil rights march on Washington and changed the world. The anti-war protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago cost the Democrats the White House. There was Flower Power and The Black Panthers.

And there was the injustice of the Riverside Estates Civic Association cut to Halloween Trick or Treat hours!

My three sisters and I had learned a lot by tagging along with our parents. My mom was way ahead of her time in the 1960’s.  She was a campaign manager to elect the Justice of the Peace in Fairfax County.  She worked on congressional and senator campaigns. In 1968 she had us kids stuffing envelopes at Democratic Party National Headquarters in Washington when Hubert Humphrey ran against Richard Nixon. Nixon wouldn’t debate Humphrey on T.V. so my mom came up with the idea to dress someone as Nixon in a chicken suit. She alerted the T.V. stations and the newspapers and we went over to Republican Headquarters with our chicken Nixon and had him lay an egg. It was a paper Mache balloon with the face of Spiro Agnew, Nixon’s running mate on it. That was great fun and an education for us kids.

What we learned was we could fight the power. This Civic Association rule limiting Trick or Treat time to 7 p.m. would not stand! We organized our friends who were more than happy to join the cause. We made protest signs. The plan was to hold a protest march at the entrance to the neighborhood right when the adults were getting home from work. Then we would march to the home of the civic association president.

Our signs were a mix from slogans we had seen over the years. Like “In your guts, you know he’s nuts.” That was from the opponents of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. (Maybe this one should have been recycled for the 2016 campaign.) Other signs said “Fight the Power.” And “Learn Baby! Learn!” Each sign had the tag line DOWN WITH THE CIVIC ASS! We were kids running this revolution.  But we didn’t know the correct way to abbreviate the word association.

So we marched to the home of the civic association president each with a sign that read DOWN WITH THE CIVIC ASS! We brought truth to power. We fought the man. And we won! Trick or Treat hours were extended to 9:30 p.m. Viva La revolution!

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