Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The attack on Pearl Harbor thrust West Michigan's own 126th Infantry into war

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, West Michigan's own 126th Infantry had been on active duty for more than a year, training in Louisiana as part of the great call-up of the National Guard for training purposes.

Only now, the training was over.

The 126th on parade while training in Louisiana
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, plunging the 126th Infantry into war for the fifth time in its short history. The regiment was ordered to establish security around vital installations in the Louisiana and Texas areas to guard against any sabotage attempts. It was the First Regiment in the Red Arrow Division to be placed on war duty. This second tour of duty as “homeland defense” continued on until the regiment left in February.

In late December, the Thirty-second Division was notified that it was being designated as part of Force Magnet and would be heading to Northern Ireland. The division was given priority for replacements and distribution of equipment. It was estimated the division would sail for its destination sometime around July 1942. Two months later, the Thirty-second Division was reorganized into a more modern triangular division centered on three infantry regiments (Michigan’s 125th Infantry was detached from the division and assigned to a coastal guard mission). Other changes included the reorganization of the existing artillery regiments into battalions.

Monument to the 126th Infantry located at Camp Grayling, Michigan
The Thirty-second Red Arrow Division was among the first units ordered overseas after Pearl Harbor along with the Thirty-fourth and Thirty-seventh. On February 1, 1942, under command of Colonel Lawrence A. Quinn, the Grand Rapids Guard moved to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and underwent replacement of personnel to bring the regiment to full strength. Initially thinking it was staging for service in the European Theater, the Guard was surprised to hear on March 25 that plans had changed and the division was being sent to Australia to face the Japanese. In April the regiment boarded troop trains and headed to San Francisco, California, where it was billeted in the San Francisco Cow Palace. There the regiment picked up a number of replacements that had just completed basic training.

On the eve of departure from San Francisco for Australia, Colonel Quinn addressed the regiment:
Officers and men of the 126th Infantry, we are about to depart on a most important mission.  One not only of national and international, but also of world importance.  Our path will not be smooth.  On the contrary it will be beset with many obstacles; we shall suffer many hardships; we shall face many grave dangers.  Many of us will pay the supreme sacrifice.  Such is the duty of a soldier; such is the responsibility and privilege of every citizen.  It is fitting and proper on such an occasion to ask Divine strength and guidance.  We will now be led in prayer by our Regimental Chaplain. 
This formation may prove to be a very important incident in the history of this grand, old outfit.  We may never again have an opportunity to parade as a Regiment. For the past year and a half we have been working hard—training in marksmanship, musketry, maneuvers, marches; learning to shoot straight, march far and well, and to maneuver fast and cleverly; learning to care for our health, our arms and our equipment under all conditions.  It has not been easy.  There have been difficulties.  But difficulties make opportunities.  We have made mistakes.  But we have tried not to make the same ones a second time. 
At this moment we parade here—not a perfect organization; not a perfect war machine; not a perfect team—but rather a diamond in the rough.  We have much to do in the way of training to attain the goal we have set for ourselves—a rugged, powerful, hard-hitting, fast maneuvering infantry team.  At every opportunity we shall carry on with our training. 
But what we lack in perfection we more than make up for in esprit de corps, determination, team play, loyalty, devotion to duty and country, and plain unadulterated intestinal fortitude. 
In a few hours we shall be on our way.  Our destination is a secret; and, except for curiosity, is unimportant.  What is important, however, is the fact that we are on our way to meet the enemy.  War is a grim business.  It is a killer business.  To some peoples in some parts of the world it is an old business.  But to us it is new.  In battle you go forth to kill or be killed—there is no half way point. We must school ourselves to accept this.  As we approach closer and closer to the sound of the guns we must develop that killer instinct, which is so necessary to success on the field of battle. 
Should you experience difficulty developing this desire to kill—you have but to recall what we are fighting for:  Our homes, our loved ones, our freedom, the right to live as we please.  Our country was founded on such principles; our forefathers fought, bled and died to retain them, as did this Regiment in 1861, 1898 and 1918.  In the future, if necessary, our children will fight for them. Today, now, it is our privilege and duty to do so. 
Our Nation and our loved ones are depending on us; they have placed their faith, their hope; their trust in us.  Let us resolve here today that we shall not fail them. 
On April 18, 1942, the 126th boarded the S.S. Lurline, a luxury liner that had been converted to transport duty, and four days later sailed for the South Pacific. There, it would be the spearhead of General Douglas MacArthur's road back to the Philippines.

Brief summary of the 126th Infantry's service during World War II. 
By the end of the war in 1945, of all the divisions under General Douglas MacArthur’s command, the Thirty-second “Red Arrow” spent more combat time, earned the most Distinguished Unit Citations (14), won the most Medals of Honor (11, three of which were members of the 126th Infantry), and paid the highest price in killed and wounded (7,268).  Throughout it all, the Grand Rapids Guard's 126th Infantry was there every step of the way.

Pfc. Dirk Vlug of the 126th Infantry returns to Grand Rapids as a hero 
after receiving his Medal of Honor from President Truman

Note: Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the governor mobilized a company of Michigan State Troops at the Grand Rapids Armory to guard the Kent County Airport, where it remained until June 1942. The Troops were volunteers organized to stand in for the 126th Infantry and other units from around the state that had left for the war. Many of them were veterans of World War I.

Source: Britten, David G., Lieutenant Colonel. Courage Without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard. Xlibris, 2004

Infrastructure or Education? The looming battles in Michigan for adequate and equitable funding

In response to crumbling roads and the Flint water crisis, Governor Rick Snyder created the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission to conduct an inventory of needs and project future costs. The commission delivered its report on November 30 and the governor released it to the public yesterday. You can read the Executive Summary for yourself as well as the full report, if so inclined. Most of us have simply skipped to the part where they estimate what it will cost the taxpayers over the next 30 to 50 years.

The report concluded that $59 billion over the next twenty-years was needed and should be seen as an "investment:"
Investing in our infrastructure—our roads and bridges; water, sewer, and storm water systems; and energy and communications networks—is essential for ensuring 1) public health and safety, 2) quality of life, and 3) sustainable economic growth for all Michigan residents.  (p. 117)
Of course inflation and additional deterioration of our infrastructure is likely to send that cost even higher.

What's interesting is that the same "investment" rationale is easily applied to the need for better public education in Michigan. And it just so happens, the legislature released a report this past June (three months late) titled Michigan Education Finance Study (June 2016), to determine if schools are funded at a level of EQUITY that ensures each and every student has a chance to be successful when measured by state-imposed standards and tests.

In short, the study concluded a resounding NO and recommended the following:

  1. An increase in the minimum foundation allowance (the per-pupil funding provided to most school districts) of approximately $1,100 per student to meet adequacy standards.
  2. An additional 30% increase in funding for each at-risk student.
  3. An additional 40% increase in funding for English language learner (ELL) students.
  4. A method of better tracking of special education expenditures from all sources to determine equity costs for this category.
To estimate the investment necessary to provide at least an equitable education system that can better meet the 21st century needs of our students (and our state), consider the following student counts for last school year:

Total number of enrolled K-12 students = 1,540,005
Approximate increase of $1,100 per student = $1.4 billion

Total number of at-risk K-12 students = 713,295
Approximate increase of 30% (after the additional $1,100) = $1.8 billion

Total number of ELL K-12 students = 90,121
Approximate increase of 40% (after the additional $1,100) = $306 million

Please note that these are simply low-end estimations only. However, it's plain to see that Michigan should be investing in public education at a much higher level than it does now. Approximately $3.5 billion more per year in fact! Ironically, that is nearly the same as the recommendation by the infrastructure commission.

Combined, this investment shortfall is roughly $7 billion per year. Sounds incredible and perhaps impossible but according to state agencies that deal in these kind of numbers, Michigan is currently undertaxed to the tune of $10 billion according to the Section 26 state revenue limits.

My fear, however, is the rush to improve infrastructure while continuing to ignore the educational needs of our children.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Exposing the real reasons behind the attacks on our public schools

Reform is not new to education. But never has the type of reform advocated by today's billionaires and their lap-dog politicians been so destructive and divisive. Presidents over the last fifty years have frequently called for improvements to our educational system, but none have quite advocated the steady erosion of our local public schools as Bush (NCLB) and Obama (Race-to-the-Top) have.

And now comes Trump and his new public school executioner, Betsy DeVos. The policies they support, if enacted, will likely make us long for the days of NCLB. Nothing they propose will be good for ALL kids. Equity and inclusion are not a part of their lexicon. Neither have even a thimble-full of experience with the complexities of teaching and learning.

Gene V. Glass (2008) did an excellent job (as he always does) foretelling of the forces at work in the continuing destruction of one of our most important institutions. Unfortunately, I fear that with most writings about the battle for our schools, few citizens (and even fewer educators) take time to read them.
In an earlier time, reformers called for change within the existing structure of public education.
Today's reformers, overwhelmingly representing a conservative political philosophy, call for nothing less than radical change.... choice financed by public monies.... [and schools required to] compete for students.
No longer is the assumption made by would-be education reformers that our nation must have a universal system of free public education.... The form they propose would better serve the interests of one special group, the majority class [emphasis added]. These same advocates of reform have learned to cloak their proposals and legislation in the mantle of concern for the poor so as to make their efforts appear less self-interested. "Choice" is claimed to be for the benefit of the poor who must escape the failing urban schools. But for a variety of reasons, the poor can seldom take advantage of choice; the suburban middle class can. Freedom and justice, liberty and equality are in constant opposition, and conservatives opt for liberty.
The inequalities of American education mirror the inequalities in American life more generally. They are, as Jonathan Kozol described them, savage; and they appear to be getting worse. 
 Proposals advanced by would-be reformers travel under false colors.... these actions stem largely from economic and material interests colored strongly by class conflict and racial suspicion and animosity.
Indeed, the claim that "classism" and racism underlie much of contemporary education reform efforts goes to motives of which the reformers themselves would be offended to be accused. And yet, in our ordinary daily lives, we see and hear the evidence again and again that one group wants nothing to do with the other: not to live by them and not to send their children to the same school. (pp. 7-10)
These are harsh accusations but Glass supports them with evidence as to how the current educational debates have been "shaped by powerful economic and demographic forces that have been over a century in the making." These forces are not going to go away anytime soon and more than ever it appears the White affluent class is in the driver's seat.... for now.

I strongly encourage anyone interested in a more critical analysis of the forces at work get hold of a copy of Glass's Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America (2008). I guarantee after reading it, you'll have a better position in which to understand the attacks on our neighborhood public schools, and you will see the reformers for what they truly are. It will help move the energy of our education reform debate away from the surface issues and symptoms, focusing instead on the root of the reform disease.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Homework for the President-Elect: Those jobs are not coming back so stop telling your supporters they will

Dear President-Elect Trump:

I know you rode the critical issue of loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico, illegal immigration, or trade agreements, but I thought before you take that oath of office you might be interested in learning the real reasons that jobs --- many of them middle class jobs --- are going away, forever.

Perhaps you would like to bring your minions up to speed on the reality of this issue as well, since the technology genie is out of the bottle and no President, Congress or any other person is going to stuff it back in. The heyday of U.S. manufacturing job expansion that along with unions helped build a strong middle class are over. Even your soon-to-be predecessor finally gets it and spoke out about the impending impact of artificial intelligence on future jobs. And don't forget, one of the first major industries that may be impacted soon by technology is the huge trucking industry.

So here are a handful of excellent links. Perhaps one in your growing hoard of aides could read up on the topic, put it in words you can readily understand, and get you on message as to what has really occurred and how it's going to impact employment in this country from here on out. In the meantime, I invite you to please keep your word and get the federal government out of the K-12 education arena where it doesn't belong, and take its (select one or more: NCLB, Race-to-the-Top, and ESSA) test-crazed shackles off local public schools, so we can focus instead on preparing our kids for a future unlike anything this nation and world has ever seen.

Your homework assignment (click on the links). Feel free to Tweet about any of these since I know you are a prolific Tweeter.

The real reason for disappearing jobs isn't trade—it's robots

The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation

Elon Musk says robots will push us to a universal basic income—here’s how it would work

Digital Dividends (World Bank)

The Myth and Reality of Manufacturing in America

For more extensive reading and study, I personally recommend the following books. I found them all to be fascinating, a bit frightening, but right on the mark given what we are all observing and many are already experiencing.

Rise of the Robots, Martin Ford

The Second Machine Age, Brynjolfsson and McAfee

The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly

The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Robert J. Gordon

And here's one about what K-12 education should focus on instead of narrow curriculum consumption and test-prepping as a result of misguided federal and state education policies. If you're getting tired of reading, you could simply lease the movie at I hear the White House has a really cool theater.

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, Wagner and Dintersmith

Check out the trailer below!

Thanks for reading and good luck with the new job. We're all anxiously awaiting for you to demonstrate beyond a doubt that it will continue to be wise to elect humans as our leader instead of relegating that job along with millions of others to robots and artificial intelligence. This is your chance!

P.S. No, I did not vote for you but there's always 2020, if you earn it that is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

End Lame Duck in Michigan

An awful lot of people are confused as to just what is meant by a lame duck Congress. It’s like where some fellows worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory and you let’em out, but after you fired ‘em, you let ‘em stay long enough so they could burn your house down. ~ Will Rogers, Dec. 8, 1932
It's clear when you read the many quotes from Will Rogers that he had little respect for politics. But substitute "Michigan House and Senate" for Congress, and the same applies to one of the most misused and abusive policymaking tools ever used in the Mitten State -- lame duck.

The term “lame duck” refers to an official leaving office due to retirement or an election loss. "The term 'lame duck' originally applied to bankrupt businessmen in 18th-century Britain 'who were considered as "lame" in the sense that the impairment of their powers rendered them vulnerable, like a game bird injured by shot. By the 1830s, this expression had migrated to America 'to describe politicians on their way out of office.'" (Dangers of Lame Duck Sessions)

You may recall the mess from the 2014 version of lame duck over the road funding battles, but at least the legislature found time in that short session to pass a very important bill that allows people to use their golf cars on residential streets without having to purchase no-fault insurance on the carts. I'm sure the gated-community folks were celebrating that victory!

That year, the legislature approved a $1.2 billion legislatively referred constitutional amendment to raise more money for the state’s roads but the voters ultimately rejected it as bad policy and a confusing mess. A whole lot of things were traded over this Frankenstein proposal. It proved a waste of time.

Most of what gets considered and either passes or fails in lame duck never receives any type of formal public hearing. Often, the legislators themselves don't get a copy of the bill until the last minute, but that doesn't seem to slow things down; they're usually too busy horse-trading on the bills they are pushing or supporting and don't have time for such trivial details. Regardless of which party is in power, lame duck is often seen as a way to quickly and sometimes quietly usher controversial bills through a polarized legislature.

Some reasonable members of the legislature and others interested in furthering an ethical legislative process have called for an end to lame duck sessions, in Michigan as well as other states. They point to states, particularly those with part-time legislatures, who make a point of adjourning the legislative session before the fall election. In Illinois, “You have situations where legislators’ district phones have been turned off because they’re leaving office, but they’re still voting on important policy issues. That’s not representative government.”

In March of 2015, Representative Joel Johnson (R-97) introduced a resolution that would put an end to lame duck in Michigan. House Joint Resolution M (2015) was introduced on March 26 and referred to the Committee on Government Operations where it surely was relegated to an early grave. The resolution proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would, if passed, read:
EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS SECTION, EACH regular session shall adjourn without day, on a day determined by concurrent resolution, at twelve o'clock noon. IN EVEN-NUMBERED YEARS, THE REGULAR SESSION FOR THAT YEAR SHALL END ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE THE FIRST MONDAY IN NOVEMBER.
There are no committee records of any hearing or testimony on this resolution, but the House Republican caucus web page provided justification for passage of this resolution:
Rep. Johnson believes that regardless of the party in power, the lame duck session process damages efforts to proceed in a deliberate and thoughtful way on important legislation, and also leads to understandable cynicism from voters. 
“Our constituents expect us to make the tough decisions in a transparent and thoughtful way,” Johnson said. “Late-night sessions and last-minute votes without a thorough committee process damages the credibility of the Legislature, because the political will or consensus is present on legislation or it’s not.” 
“The oft-used tactic of ‘waiting for lame duck’ must come to an end.”
Source: The Times Dispatch, March 7, 1911
According to State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, "Anything's possible in lame duck." If I might clarify that bit of sage wisdom from Rep. Schor: anything but well thought out, publicly-vetted good policy.
Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous. ~ Will Rogers, undated
You can bet there'll be a whole lot of "something" done in the upcoming lame duck session. Whether good or bad remains to be seen.

Source: Newspaper clippings retrieved from

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Just like before, "this too shall pass"

It's Saturday morning and I thought while drinking my coffee I would muse on the topic of "this too shall pass."

Any event that shakes our emotions to the core leads us to believe that this must be the end times. I'm in my seventh decade and have lived through many newsworthy events, a number of which might be considered by those of us who were there to be as traumatic or even greater than the election this past week. So I thought I'd just take stock of what some of those were in a "short" listing below. Now I'm sure whether the event was negative or positive depends on your point of view and I respect that. The list is in no way comprehensive and I apologize if I didn't include something that was or is important to you.

Oh, and a few are included for a little humor because this list can be somewhat depressing.

·      The anti-communist “Red Scare” and “un-American activities” witch hunt.
·      The Soviet launch of Sputnik 1
·      The Vietnam War (1959-1973)
·      Suez Canal Crisis and Algerian War
·      Cuban Revolution and Castro’s overthrow of Fulgencio Batista
·      Creation of NORAD
·      Playboy magazine and empire
·      Rise of Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev
·      Hurricane’s Diane and Audrey
·      First tests of the hydrogen bomb
·      Soviet opening of the first nuclear power plant
·      James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause
·      Beginning of the effects of the so-called “Golden Age of Television” and its impact on what we wear, listen to, eat, and the news we receive
·      Vice President Nixon
·      Federal troops sent to Little Rock, Arkansas
·      Dr. Benjamin Spock
·      “The Day the Music Died” and the death of Superman (George Reeves)
·      U-2 incident
·      Soviets put first man in space
·      The Berlin Wall and the faceoff at Checkpoint Charlie
·      Senator Barry Goldwater
·      Assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King
·      President Johnson, Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
·      The draft
·      Bay of Pigs Invasion
·      Indo-Pakistani War
·      Arab-Israeli conflict and the Six Days War
·      Rise of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya
·      Cuban Missile Crisis and near-military confrontation between U.S. and Soviet Union
·      Duck-and-cover drills in schools
·      France and China detonation of first atomic bombs
·      Governor George Wallace
·      “The whole world is watching” demonstrations during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago
·      Czechoslovakia’s “Prague Spring” and subsequent Soviet invasion
·      Recession to begin the 60’s with resulting inflation and rising unemployment (dubbed the “misery index” which hit 10%)
·      The “New Math” movement
·      Assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam), Malcolm X by the Nation of Islam, and Che Guevara by Bolivia (allegedly aided by the CIA)
·      Good Friday earthquake (Alaska) and Hurricane Camille
·      The “sexual revolution”
·      Timothy Leary and LSD
·      Antiwar movement
·      “New Left” post-war growth of Marxism in America
·      SDS (Students for a Democratic Society)
·      Space race
·      Apollo 1 disaster
·      Apollo 13
·      Influx of cheap Japanese “stuff”
·      Invention of the first computer video game, Spacewar!
·      Summer of Love (1967) and Woodstock (1969)
·      Hippie movement
·      War on Poverty
·      Draft card burning
·      Free Speech Movement
·      Unsafe at Any Speed
·      College campus takeovers by students
·      “Beatle backlash” in the south
·      Black Panther Party
·      Detroit Riots
·      Palm Sunday Tornado
·      Vietnam Veterans Against the War
·      Muhammad Ali found guilty of draft evasion
·      The Tet Offensive
·      My Lai Massacre
·      LBJ forced out of running for a full second term
·      Anti-war and civil rights riots in major cities
·      Rise of feminism
·      President Richard M. Nixon
·      National Guard sent into cities and college campuses to put down protests and takeovers
·      Vice President Spiro T. Agnew
·      Occupation of Alcatraz
·      Flint War Council
·      Nixon’s secret war operations in Cambodia
·      Student Strike of 1970 and Hard Hat Riot
·      5,000 National Guard at Ohio State University
·      Black Liberation Army
·      U.S. Capitol bombed by war protesters
·      Pentagon Papers
·      Governor Wallace is shot
·      Jane Fonda visits North Vietnam
·      Wounded Knee
·      Watergate and the Senate Watergate Investigation
·      Resignation of President Nixon
·      Patty Hearst kidnapping by SLA
·      Watergate conspirators found guilty
·      Weather Underground bombs U.S. State Department
·      Presidents Ford and Reagan survive assassination attempts
·      Death of Elvis Presley
·      Murder of John Lennon
·      Runaway inflation of 1970s
·      1973 Oil embargo
·      Corn subsidies and the unhealthy rise in use of cheap corn syrup
·      The Cold War
·      Soviet War in Afghanistan
·      Yom Kippur War
·      Assassination of Sadat
·      Pol Pot regime
·      Yugoslavia dictator Joseph Tito
·      Uganda dictator Idi Amin
·      Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes
·      War in Northern Ireland
·      1979 energy crisis
·      Rev. Jim Jones and the Jonestown massacre
·      Saddam Hussein
·      Khmer Rouge
·      Lebanese Civil War
·      Sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald
·      AA Flight 191 air crash
·      Iranian revolution
·      Stagflation
·      1978 Blizzard
·      Three Mile Island
·      Chernobyl nuclear disaster
·      By 1980, misery index reaches all-time high of 21.98%; inflation at 21.5%
·      Production of the AMC Gremlin
·      Launch of pay television
·      Bell-bottomed pants, leisure suits, and platform shoes
·      Lava lamps
·      1982 Lebanon War
·      1983 Beirut Barracks bombing
·      Iran-Iraq War
·      Iran-Contra
·      War on Drugs
·      Fall of the Berlin War
·      Fall of the Soviet Union
·      U.S. Drought of 1988
·      Mount St. Helens erupts
·      Exxon Valdez runs aground
·      Attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II
·      Anwar Sadat, Benigno Aquino and Indira Gandhi assassinated
·      Marvin Gaye murdered
·      Challenger disaster
·      Late 1980’s severe global recession
·      Free trade agreements
·      Savings and Loan Scandal
·      1980 Moscow Summer Olympics boycott
·      The Congo wars
·      First Gulf War
·      Chechen wars
·      Kosovo War
·      Breakup of Yugoslavia and resulting wars
·      1993 World Trade Center bombing
·      Oklahoma City bombing
·      IRA bombing of Manchester, England
·      Monica Lewinsky scandal
·      North American Free Trade Agreement
·      Rise of the Palestinian National Authority (PLA)
·      North Korea
·      Breakup of the Soviet Union and destabilization
·      Murder of pop singer Selena
·      Hurricane Mitch
·      “Irrational exuberance”
·      Japanese economic disaster
·      Chrysler bailout
·      Genetically engineered crops introduced
·      Columbine
·      O.J. Simpson murder case
·      John F. Kennedy, Jr.
·      Assisted suicide
·      Jonbenet Ramsey
·      Boy bands and young pop stars
·      Rap
·      CNN, MSNBC, Fox News – all news, all the time whether it’s true or we have to make it up
·      Athletes and drug use (too many to name)
·      2000 Election and “chads”
·      September 11, 2001
·      Osama bin Laden
·      Anthrax
·      War on Terror (ongoing)
·      War in Afghanistan (ongoing)
·      Second Iraq War
·      Saddam Hussein
·      Arab-Israeli conflict (never ending)
·      Israeli-Palestinian conflict (never ending)
·      Second Congo War
·      Second Chechen War
·      Mexican Drug War
·      Columbian Armed Conflict
·      Angolan Civil War
·      Somali Civil War
·      War in just about every central African nation
·      Haitian coup
·      Honduras coup
·      Antibiotic resistance
·      Swine flu
·      AIDS
·      Hurricane Katrina
·      Housing market collapse
·      Wall Street corruption
·      The Great Recession
·      Dot-com bubble burst
·      “Shovel-ready” projects and bailouts
·      Rise of the robots and second machine age
·      Disappearance of the middle class
·      Obesity and rise of Type II diabetes
·      Climate change (or not)
·      Grid-lock politics
·      Polarization of America
·      Privacy concerns
·      Domestic and international terrorism
·      Political correctness
·      Social media
·      Clogs
·      Botox
·      Immigration wars
·      New segregation
·      Attack on public education
·      Inequities of school funding
·      Lead in our water
·      Deterioration of infrastructure
·      Anti-tax movements (or something-for-nothing club)
·      Military intervention in Libya, Ukraine, Yemen, and Syria
·      ISIS, ISIL or whatever you want to call them
·      Mogadishu
·      Arab Spring
·      Cyber War
·      WikiLeaks
·      Edward Snowden
·      Anonymous
·      The seemingly irrelevance of the United Nations and NATO
·      2011 tornado outbreaks in U.S.
·      Hurricane Sandy
·      2016 Louisiana floods

·      Cubs won the series (and cats and dogs began living together)