Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thank you, William Shakespeare

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” -- William Shakespeare

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We should credit the unscrupulous publishers who published the 18 unauthorized versions of William Shakespeare’s plays, made some money perhaps, and managed to get away with their shenanigans.
We understand there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era, thus his plays were reportedly published in quarto editions.
Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived, it was learned.
According to, a collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of William’s plays in the First Folio.
Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print, it was learned further.


Writer Guy Wright believes Shakespeare is the most quotable playwright and poet in the world until this generation.
“I doubt that there’s anyone reading this who goes through a normal day’s conversation without quoting Shakespeare,” Wright writes in Word Power.
“Once in a while we realize we are doing this,” he adds, “but most of the time we lift his lines to season our speech and sharpen our opinions without the slightest thought of the source.”
Wright cited the examples below:
When you call a man a “rotten apple,” a “blinking idiot” or a “popinjay”…When you say he “bears a charmed life” or is “hoist with his own petard”…When you proclaim him “a man of few words”…


When you speak of “old comfort,” “grim necessity,” “bag and baggage,” the “mind’s eye,” “holding your tongue,” “suiting the action to the words”…
When you refer to your “salad days” or “heart of hearts”…
When you deplore “the beginning of the end,” “life’s uncertain voyage” or “the unkindest cut of all”…
“By golly, you’re quoting Shakespeare,” hisses Wright.
Here are more:
When you use such expressions as “poor but honest,” “one fell swoop,” “as luck would have it,” “the short and the long of it,” “neither here nor there,” “what’s done is done”…
When you say something “smells to heaven” or is “Greek to me,” or it’s a “mad world” or “not in my book”…


When you complain that you “haven’t slept a wink” or that your family is “eating you out of house and home,” or you’ve “seen better days”…
When you speak of a coward “showing his heels” or having “no stomach for a fight”…
When you nod wisely and say, “Love is blind”…or “Truth will come to light”…or “The world is my oyster”…
“You are borrowing your bon mot from the Bard. Shakespeare was the greatest cliché inventor of all time,” Wright explains. “Without him to put the words in our mouths, we would be virtually tongue-tied, and the English language would have a lean and hungry look.”

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Love, Understand)

There are two kinds of people in the world -- those you love, and those you don't understand.
 -- UNKNOWN : 

If we do not understand them, we can never love them. They will remain in the opposite side of the fence, and this is a sad and tragic reality.

Capitalism's motivating force

“The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain.” 
-- Karl Marx
By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- In Das Kaptial, Karl Marx, a German philosopher and social scientist, proposed that the motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of labor.
Marx believed that labor’s unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value and then profit both of which concepts have a specific meaning for the author of the Manifesto of the Communist Party.
We will not dwell on Das Kapital in this article.
We have no illusion that we would be able grasp the book’s depth and permanence in the minds of many followers of the socioeconomic system structured upon common ownership of the means of production and characterized by the absence of social classes, money, and the state; as well as a social, political and economic ideology and movement that aims to establish a social order called communism.
Political and social scientists are more knowledgeable on this subject matter.


We are more curious about Marx’s thinking when he wrote: “Religion suffering is at one and the same the expression of real suffering and a protest against a real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Marx mentioned this in the “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Rights.”
We will notice two things right off the bat, according to author Michael Macrone.
First, Marx says that religion is the opium, not the opiate, of the people—a small difference, but worth getting right. (Opium is a particular drug, while opiates are a class).
Second, Marx is very fond of italics.
Characterizing religion as a painkilling drug, shocking as it still is to many, was even more radical in its day, Macrone explained.
And yet Marx, more than condemning religion itself, was actually critiquing the condition of a society that would lead people to it.
Nonetheless, forever after we would hear about “Godless communists,” implying that Marxist thought lacks values and morals.
This isn’t quite true, argued Macrone. What Marx really meant was that religion functions to pacify the oppressed; and oppression is definitely a moral wrong.


Religion, Marx said, reflects what is lacking in society; it is an idealization of what people aspire to but cannot now enjoy.
Social condition in mid-century Europe had reduced workers to little better than slaves; the same conditions produced a religion that promised a better world in the afterlife, observed Macrone.
Religion isn’t merely a superstition or an illusion. It has a social function: to distract the oppressed from the truth of their oppression.
So long as the exploited and downtrodden believe their sufferings will earn them freedom and happiness hereafter, they will think their oppression part of the natural order—a necessary burden rather than something imposed by other men.
This, then, is what Marx meant by calling religion the “opium of the people,” explained Macrone. 
It dulls their pain but at the same time make them sluggish, clouding their perception of reality and robbing them of the will to change.
What did Marx want? He wanted the “people” to open their eyes to the harsh realities of 19th-century bourgeois capitalism.


Macrone pointed out that the capitalists were squeezing more and more profit out of the proletariat’s labor, at the same time “alienating” workers from self-realization.
What workers deserved, and could have if they arose from their slumber, was control over their own labor, possession of the value they created through work, and thus self esteem, freedom, and power.
To that end, Marx, called for the “abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people.”
He wanted them to demand “real happiness,” which in Marx’s materialist philosophy was freedom and fulfillment in this world.
Since the rich and powerful aren’t just going to hand these over, the masses shall have to seize them.
Thus class struggle and revolution. 
Would that it was that simple, concluded Macrone.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Forgiveness, Trust)

If we are bound to forgive an enemy, we are not bound to trust him.

Forgiveness is a virtue while trust is a choice. To trust an enemy is not a mandatory string to be attached on a package deal of forgiveness. We may forgive, but we don't forget, of course; and as long as we remember, our cognitive power will put trust in the backseat. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Mistake)

Assert your right to make a few mistakes. If people can't accept your imperfections, that's their fault.

When we are mocked and rejected because of our errors, we mustn't vow our heads in shame. It's more derogatory and disgraceful to quit without trying to bounce back than to permanently fall after a gallant attempt to correct our mistakes.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Suspicion)

Suspicion is the cancer of friendship.

If our friends fail to "like" our Facebook posts, we shouldn't be quick to conclude that "they have changed a lot" and/or "are motivated by jealousy and envy." Ouch. Either we have become too big for our breeches or just plain and simple paranoid. This will only happen if we magnify unimportant things into major events and, thus, offend the wrong persons and shatter relationships.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Fear)

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

Ignorance is the precursor or No. 1 cause of our irrational fears, paranoia, prejudice, discrimination, bitterness, sadness, and cruelty. If we can at least be culturally literate and magnanimous, learning and understanding will altogether complete our intellectual development and healing process.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A kiss and tell Lothario

"Classy bitch, don't kiss and tell. Smack her ass and then wish her well. Life sucks, better give em hell."
-- Mac Miller 

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Any public official, or private individual for that matter, who intends to engage in illicit affair must beware when choosing a partner.
If she is a woman and makes a mistake of picking a kiss and tell Lothario like Ronnie Dayan, God have mercy on her.
If he is a man and thinks his decision to admit that he is the lover of Ai-Ai delas Alas or Dionisia Pacquiao will give him instant fame, God have mercy on Ai-Ai and Mommy Dionisia.
If he is a matinee idol and Kris Aquino discloses in a gossip talk show she had sexual relationship with him, God bless that guy.
Even in a permissive society that accepts any male-female, male-male or female-female dalliance, those who will kiss and tell are considered as traitors.


Those involved in any romantic or sexual affair are not supposed to discuss their relationship's  prurient details in public--unless they are under duress or drugged.
Dayan, former bodyguard of Senator Laila De Lima, was neither under duress nor under the influence of any substance when he shamed an enamorata, who happened to be a prominent national figure, in a congressional hearing.
The hearing was supposed to be conducted "in aid of legislation" or to establish De Lima's link to illegal drug trade, not to determine the degree of the senator's sexual appetite.
Kris Aquino was not under the influence of drugs or liquor--and was not under shotgun testimony--when she announced on national TV that she had STD or sexually transmitted disease after having a tryst with comedian Joey Marquez. 


What transpired between two consenting adults should be "treasured" privately and valued mutually. Since they both "benefited" from the affair, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth if any of them brags about their conquest.
A quarrel that resulted in break up is not an excuse for one party to expose the relationship's lurid content. But not Dayan. 
Even if he was under the behest of the congressmen, he could have just admitted his affair with De Lima and stop there; without prejudice, of course, to his testimony that he received millions from drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Dayan revealed something about him other than being a Lothario that the public did not know before he made the testimony that turned into a slut-shaming binge: he had no utang na loob or debt of gratitude.
In his seven golden years of erotic liaison with a former boss, he probably made money. He was "on top of the world", to say the least, if testimonies of those privy to his closeness with De Lima, a former justice secretary, were to be believed.
Prosecutors and even judges who wanted promotions sought his "blessings", among other "sidelines." 
No to mention the "tips" he probably got for his alleged errand job for De Lima and the drug lords, if his admission in the House hearing was true.
You don't kick a former boss-lover who is already down.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Don't slap a woman

"Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in." 
-- Mary Wollstonecraft

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- It's not nice for a man to slap a woman. Even in imagination, a man should never hurt a woman emotionally and physically.
If you want to know a man, listen to the language he uses to describe a member of the opposite sex after he has been jilted by the latter.
It's not pleasant to admit slapping a woman especially if she is a lover or former lover, a wife or former wife. 
Especially if you are having or had emotional attachment with her. Especially if you are having or had sexual liaison with her; if you benefited a lot from her concerning your carnal needs and fleshly desires.
She shouldn't be called a "slut" or "maniac" to justify dumping her like a waste so his macho tormentor can tarry-hoot with the next nymphet. 
It's not good to be a misogynist. Like envy and irrational jealousy, it's an aberration of the mind.
A woman is a special creation of God. She represents the image of our mother, sister, girlfriend, wife or partner in life. 


We have the Blessed Virgin Mary as the symbol of purity, the epitome of piety and righteousness, the mother of Jesus Christ.
Without a woman, no one could biologically bring us here in this material world.  
She labored hard, sacrificed a lot, and carried us in her womb for nine months. She feeds us. She gives us life. She sings for our joy and benefit.
No woman should be ridiculed or put to shame because of her sexual experiences or desires even if she is a criminal or enemy of the most powerful man in the universe.
After all, we are all sinners. In fact, many of us have committed more sins than her.
Magdalene, Cleopatra, Madame Bovary, Lady Chatterley, Princess Diana, Kris Aquino had their own share of infamy in the department of lechery. 
They have been slandered and persecuted. But men of antiquity and modern times treated them with respect and adulation because they are women--and because of the great things they contributed for mankind.


Like men, women also fall in love with passion. They, too, have emotions. They also fail and get frustrated and hurt. When they fall for men, they give their best; they give it all.
If some of them happen to be naive they become susceptible to exploitation and abuse--and sometimes end up as sex slaves, if not tortured and murdered.
Women in general are loving and decent human beings. God intended to give them a special role in society, and they should enjoy equal rights, privileges, and happiness with men.
Let's hear it from Barbra Streisand: "I am a woman in love and I do anything to get you into my world and hold you within. It's a right I defend ever and over again. What do I do?"
To fall in love, to enjoy a satisfying sex life, to live with dignity and respect, to practice freedom of choice, is the right that every woman should fight and defend in a masochistic society governed by some do-gooder and hypocrite congressmen.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is a Burning Spirit.
It Kindles the hearts of mankind.
Like tympanum and lyre it plays them,
gathering volume in the temple of the soul.
Holy Spirit is
all movement.
Root of all being.
Purifier of all impurity.
Absolver of all faults.
Balm of all wounds.
Radiant life, worthy of all praise.
The Holy Spirit resurrects and awakens
everything that is.
(Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen)


Fidel Castro, 1926-2016

CNN has reported that Fidel Castro, the Cuban despot who famously proclaimed after his arrest in a failed coup attempt that history would absolve him, has died aged 90.
Castro's brother and the nation's President of several years, Raul, announced his death Friday on Cuban TV.
At the end, an elderly and infirm Castro was a whisper of the Marxist firebrand whose iron will and passionate determination bent the arc of destiny.
"There are few individuals in the 20th century who had a more profound impact on a single country than Fidel Castro had in Cuba," Robert Pastor, a former national security adviser for President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, told CNN in 2012.
"He reshaped Cuba in his image, for both bad and good," said Pastor, who died in 2014.
Castro lived long enough to see a historic thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States. The two nations reestablished diplomatic relations in July 2015 and President Barack Obama visited the island earlier this year.
President Raul Castro -- who took over from his ailing brother more than eight years earlier -- announced that breakthrough to the nation, but observers noted Fidel's silence on the matter.
Castro's stage was a small island nation 90 miles from the underbelly of the United States, but he commanded worldwide attention.
"He was a historic figure way out of proportion to the national base in which he operated," said noted Cuba scholar Louis A. Perez Jr., author of more than 10 books on the island and its history.
"Cuba hadn't counted for much in the scale of politics and history until Castro," said Wayne Smith, the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba from 1979 to 1982.
Castro became famous enough that he could be identified by only one name. A mention of "Fidel" left little doubt who was being talked about.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What day did you sneeze?

"Do you know how helpless you feel if you have a full cup of coffee in your hand and you start to sneeze?" -- JEAN KERR 

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- While standing in a long line at the Bank of America ATM machine in Jackson Heights, Queens on Thursday morning (a Thanksgiving day, November 24, in the United States), I sneezed twice.
An elderly Latina woman in front of me turned her back and sighed, "God bless you."
"Thank you," I replied.
"Today is what day, honey?" she snapped back with a smile. "Ah Thursday. Something better will happen to you because you sneezed on Thursday. If it's Friday, you sneeze for sorrow."
She continued: If I sneeze on Wednesday, I will receive a letter. On Tuesday, I kiss a stranger. On Monday, I sneeze for danger. On Saturday, I see my lover tomorrow.  On Sunday, the devil will have me for the rest of the week. Oh lala.
She was being superstitious. I don't believe in superstition but I thanked her nevertheless.


In the bus, train, shopping centers, coffee shops, among other public places, I sneezed in the past and people were apt to say, "God bless you" or the German expression, "Gesundheit," or the Italian word, "Felicita."
In the old practice, they would clasp their hands and bow toward the one who sneezed, which is popular in Near and Far East until today.
The custom of asking God's blessing started when early man believed that the essence of life--the spirit or soul--was in the form of air and breath and resided in one's head, according to authors Claudia De Lys and Julie Forsyth Bachelor.
A sneeze might accidentally expel the spirit for a short time or even forever, unless God prevented it. 
The act of bowing toward the sneezer was also reportedly counter-magic. For it meant, "May your soul not escape."


There were some ancients who believed that evil spirits which had previously entered the body jumped out when one sneezed. This meant danger to others for such spirits might now enter their bodies.
So the expression or blessing was to protect others as well as the one who sneezed. So serious was a sneezed considered in the Middle Ages that even today people speak of certain situations as "not to be sneezed at."
We know today that a sneeze is one of our unconscious reflexes. However, medical men consider it almost as harmful to others as some of the primitive people did, explained Lys and Bachelor.
For, instead of "evil spirits," sneezing expels harmful bacteria and is one of the most effective ways of spreading disease. So our best counter-charm, say the doctors, is to cover a sneeze with a handkerchief so our germs won't jump down someone else's throat.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Goodness)

"Goodness is the only investment that never fails."

"When the ethical and behavioral patterns of some people around us are showing signs of rapid decline, we need to save and invest more in goodness. Our moral capital gains are secured when we maintain a good relationship with others."

'U.S. Navy submarines will save the world'

"The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim."
-- Edsger Dijkstra

By Alex P. Vidal

GROTON, Connecticut -- It's normal for the United States (U.S.) Navy not to talk about some of the nuclear-powered attack submarines especially if the story involves the national security, but some basic information that are not classified can be accessed even in the internet, a retired US navyman recently disclosed.
Reynaldo A. Amuan, who retired in 1976, said the U.S. Navy submarines are called as "silent service" because they can save the world from rogue states that occasionally threaten to trigger a nuclear world war.
Amuan, 82, a Filipino-American, said "the U.S. Navy submarines are the most powerful and sophisticated in the world today. Everything is powered by nuclear."
"Our submarines are now cleaner, more sophisticated and don't need diesel fuel unlike what we have some 50 years ago," said Amuan, who was "CPO/E7 Reynaldo A. Amuan" during his active years in service from 1956 to 1976.
Amuan added: "The U.S. Navy submarines were the lifeblood of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) during the World War II."


Amuan, active member of Connecticut-based New England Filipino-American, Inc. (NEFAI), said anyone who wants to be enlisted in the U.S. Navy must be willing to act as volunteer first and should have a good moral character.
"The most important is he must be mentally stable as he will undergo a one-year observation or study duty to be able to familiarize the vessel and learn its basic operations," Amuan quipped. 
When he was enlisted in the U.S. Naval Base in Sangley Point, Cavite, Philippines in 1956, the requirements and qualifications were not as rigid compared today.
"It's because times have changed. There is no more recruitment in the Philippines as the U.S. Navy doesn't have a military base there anymore," explained Amuan, who finished radio operator from a technical school in Iloilo City, Philippines prior to applying in the U.S. Navy.


America, considered as military superpower in the world, reportedly has 43 Los Angeles-class submarines on active duty and 19 retired, making it the most numerous nuclear-powered submarine class in the world.
It was learned that the class was preceded by the Sturgeon class and followed by the Seawolf and Virginia classes. Except for USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709), submarines of this class are named after U.S. cities, breaking a Navy tradition of naming attack submarines after sea creatures.
The final 23 boats in the series, referred to as "688i" boats, are reportedly quieter than their predecessors and incorporate a more advanced combat system. These 688i boats are also designed for under-ice operations: their diving planes are on the bow rather than on the sail, and they have reinforced sails.
The National Interest reported that the Navy doesn’t like to talk about its submarines. 
"After all, a sub’s biggest advantage is its stealth. And of the sailing branch’s roughly 70 undersea boats, Seawolf and her two sister vessels Connecticut and Jimmy Carter are among the most secretive," it stressed.


If readers will Google the names of any of the Navy’s Los Angeles-class submarines, "the most numerous in the fleet, and you’ll get hits: Navy statements and photo releases, the occasional news article. But try to look up Seawolf-class vessels and you’ll get next to nothing," it explained.

The National Interest disclosed that it's official website is blocked. The last time Seawolf’s exterior appeared in a Navy photo was 2009, it said.
"That’s because Seawolf and her sisters are special. Newer, bigger, faster and more heavily armed than standard attack submarines, the nearly $3-billion-per-copy Seawolfs have been fitted with hundreds of millions of dollars in unique equipment and are assigned to their own special squadron in Washington State," the report added.
Amuan named Chris Tibus, a Fil-Am Navy liaison, who was considered as "the godfather of the Filipinos" for his role in helping Filipino guerrilla fighters in the Philippines during the World War II.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

An affair to Connecticut

"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." -- Ray Bradbury

By Alex P. Vidal

GROTON, Connecticut -- If the story of her love affair with a fellow Ilonggo that began on board a commercial vessel in 1956 would be told, Aida Castro-Amuan, 80, wanted to compare it to Leo McCarey's 1957 classic film, An Affair to Remember.
Aboard a Manila-bound ship from Iloilo City one summer in 1957, Aida met Reynaldo Adrias Amuan, 82.
She was 20 and he was 22. Aida was scheduled to enroll in a nursing school in Manila, while Reynaldo was on his way to Cavite for physical examination at the U.S. Base Naval Station in Sangley Point. 
"A true friendship was built aboard the ship like in that movie before we hit it off romantically," recalls Aida, a native of Ajuy, Iloilo, Philippines and now resides here.
While the ultimate romantic tearjerker chick flick starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr ended in a tight embrace atop New York City's Empire State Building, the love affair between Aida and Reynaldo continues until today, or 60 years after they got married.

"We are still very much in love with each other until now," Aida exclaims shyly, her eyes flicker while stealing a quick stare at Reynaldo, sitting on her right side in the buffet table in a breakfast.
Aida calls Reynaldo "darling" and credits him for encouraging and accompanying her when she "reports to office" everyday so she won't get sick and bored at home.
Her "office" is the poker table in the Mohegan Sun, a casino hotel in Uncasville, a village in southeastern Montville, at the mouth of the Oxoboxo River.
"I noticed that if she stayed at home for three days, she became weak. So I goaded her to go to 'office' so she can move and exercise her body," Reynaldo volunteers with a timid smile.
When they "report" to Aida's "office", they bring only credit and reward cards, a few one dollar bills for tips, and a bag full of maintenance pills.
Aida admits she is not a good player and only plays to kill time and keeps her mind busy.
Mohegan Sun gives Aida privileges like free buffet meals, tickets and access to entertainment shows and sports events, use of facilities like swimming pool, and hotel room from points earned in a reward card. 
If the points are so high, they invite friends "to share their blessings" especially on buffet. 
Unlike Grant, Nickie Ferrante in the film, a well-known playboy and dilettante in the arts, Reynaldo had been "engaged" only with one woman before he met Aida, daughter of an affluent family in Iloilo's fifth district.


"I wasn't engaged yet," sighs Aida, "but I had an insistent suitor who wanted to fetch me in the pier (when the ship arrived in Manila). I tried to avoid him (the suitor) but Rey told me to treat the guy nicely."
To make the long story short, explains Aida, "I rejected that suitor and married Rey."
"One thing I like about Rey was his honesty. I was immediately attracted to him because he was frank and honest when he told me he came from a poor family," narrates Aida. "In all our married life, he never gave me a headache."
After being crowned as municipal queen of Ajuy in 1952 at age 16, Aida had attracted hordes of suitors, mostly coming from Iloilo's influential and moneyed families, "but I found my true happiness with Rey because I knew he would never take advantage of me."
She describes her future husband as "guwapo (handsome), soft-spoken, sincere, and simple."
Aida considers their two children--Fern Boivin, 55, and Sean, 53, and their six grandchildren--as "our real blessings."


"Their values and the values of their respective families--the husband, wife and children--are exceptional," Aida boasts. "I think it has something to do with how we raised them and how they raised their own children. Wala na kami sang ipangayuon pa sa Diyos. (We have nothing more to ask from God)."
Fern, an engineer, is married to Mark Boivin, president of Northeast Wood Products. Sean is a pilot at American Airlines with international routes, and a 1985 graduate in the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They were both born and raised in the United States.
"Everyday we call each other to say hello. If they can't call us, we call them vice versa using FaceTime (a video call in Smart phone)," reveals Reynaldo.
Seconds later, Reynaldo dials his iPhone: "Hello, son what do you have for breakfast this morning?" Son Sean replies in video call: "I'm having a bagel (bread) right now, dad."


Aida takes Reynaldo's iPhone and intones: "Hi darling, how are you doing today?" Son answers: "I'm fine, mom." Aida: "Are you going for golf today?" Son: "Yes, mom." Aida: "Okay, you take care my darling."
Grandchildren call their grandparents from time to time vice versa to say hi and hello. Grandpa tells a teenage female granddaughter in video call, "No holding hands with your suitor or boyfriend, please." Granddaughter replies with a smile.
"This is our life. This is how we spend our life here in Connecticut as retirees. This is where we get our simple joy and happiness. And our children and grandchildren are very supportive of what we do and where we are," Reynaldo hisses, holding Aida's left hand as they saunter the vast, 34-story casino, hotel and entertainment complex that features Native American-style decor.
Reynaldo, a native of Divinagracia, La Paz, Iloilo City, Philippines, retired from the US Navy in 1976 after 20 years of service. He was detailed in the nuclear submarines. 

Like Hillary, Kovalev wins but loses in the judges' 'electoral college'

"As much as I love boxing, I hate it. And as much as I hate it, I love it." -- Budd Schulberg

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Bad news for Vladimir Putin. Good news for his "favorite", President-elect Donald J. Trump.
We have boxing's version of the puzzling "electoral college", the decrepit system that denied Hillary Clinton the presidency despite besting Trump in the popular votes in the recent election.
We respect the judges' verdict, an identical 114-113 unanimous decision in favor of American Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), but the night belonged to dethroned Russian world champion Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) in the battle for WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight belts on Saturday night (November 19) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
With 84 percent KO in his ledger, the 33-year-old warrior, born in Kopeysk, Russia, should have prevented a "hometown" decision by finishing off the 32-year-old challenger from Oakland in the early rounds.


But orthodox Kovalev allowed Ward to be rescued by the judges when he failed to put him away for good after scoring a second round knockdown which was worth 55 electoral college votes in the presidential race.
But unlike Clinton who gamely accepted her upset defeat, the Russian KO artist could only complain: “It’s the wrong decision. I don’t want to say my opinion. The witnesses are here – they saw it. It’s my job. It was a fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges’ decision. He got maybe a few rounds, I agree with that. I kept control. I lost maybe three rounds the whole fight."
He added: "Of course, I want a rematch and I will kick his ass. I want to show good boxing. I am against here it is the USA and all the judges were from the USA. He is a boxer. It’s a sport, don’t make it politics. It’s a sport and I won the fight!”


Ward, who earned my admiration when he blasted to smithereens the incredible Chad Dawson for the WBC and WBC super-middleweight crowns in 2012, believed he won the bout: “No, I was not surprised when I heard the decision, I don’t’ know where you got that from. I know it was a close fight – the crowd you can hear they thought I won…I have been a champ before I knew it was going to be a tough fight – it was the first time in my career I was dropped."
Ward added: "He did everything I expected him to do. He started to show up as I expected he started to fight like I expected. My coach did a great job…It’s hard for me to call myself great. At the end of the day I am a two-weight division champion. Of course, I would do a rematch. I am not going to negotiate a fight right now I will go home and relax and see what’s next.”

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Friends)

The best time to make friends is before you need them.

We acquire friends not because we expect to use them as shields when we are under siege. We can't live alone.. No man is an island. When friends come to our defense, it's a bonus. If they decide to stay away while we are being torn to pieces by enemies, no hard feelings. Foibles of life!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Humility)

When we become aware of our humility, we've lost it.
 -- UNKNOWN : 

Awareness is consciousness. If we are conscious of our humility, we can fake, fabricate, or even exaggerate it. Genuine humility is spontaneous, natural, and heart-felt.

My vitamins, your vitamins, our vitamins

"Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them." -- MAHALIKA JACKSON

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Because of confusion on what kind of vitamins we need today to ward off diseases, we made a research about vitamins. 
Amid the advent and sudden mushrooming of food supplements that claim to help strengthen our immunity system, we may be wondering if vitamins are still essential in our day to day life.
Where did they originate, how were they discovered, and why do we need them?
One of our most reliable sources on the subject matter is Alexander Fried's High Points in Biology. 
During the 18th century it was discovered that orange and lemon juice, taken in small quantities, would cure the disease scurvy, which sailors often contracted during long voyages.
It was gradually realized that this disease was caused by a lack of something in the diet, and was not the result of germs, poisons, or similar causes. 
Later, beriberi and rickets were also found to be deficiency disease.
Many experiments performed about 1900 proved that there must be certain substances in food that scientists knew nothing about. 
In one such experiment, an artificial mixture of all the nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals) that were then known to be present in milk was fed to mice. 
The mice weakened and many died.


Mice fed on natural milk behaved and grew normally. This demonstrated that other things, in addition to the above nutrients, must be present in milk. 
By 1910, most scientists agreed that foods contained unknown substances. 
Dr. Casimir Funk, a Polish nutrition scientist, suggested in 1911 that these new substances be named vitamins (vita means "life"). 
At first, scientists knew nothing about the chemicals of which vitamins were built, so they named them according to the letters of the alphabet (vitamin A,B,C, etc.).
A vitamin is a chemical substance needed in small amounts by a living thing in order to function properly.
We know today the exact chemical elements that make up many vitamins. 
It is possible to test for the presence of some vitamins in foods, just as we test for other nutrients. Many are now manufactured and sold in pure form. We have learned much about the part played by vitamins in the functioning of the body.


During the World War I, Denmark exported nearly all of its butter. Margarine (without vitamin A added--it was unknown at the time) was substituted in the diet. 
So many children became victims of a disease called dry eyes that the US government cut down its exports of butter and gave it instead to its own people.
The disease disappeared. 
The food factor needed to prevent dry eyes was called vitamin A. 
When experimental animals are tested on diets completely lacking in vitamin A, they acquire the disease dry eyes. Restoring vitamin A to their diet helps the condition.
Why vitamin A is needed? 
It helps fight off infections (colds, etc.) by keeping the membranes of the body in good condition; it prevents dry eyes (xerophthalmia); and prevents certain types of night blindness.
Vitamin A deficiency results in xerophthalmia. 
The tear glands dry up so that the eyeball cannot be washed and kept moist. 
Infection and permanent blindness may result. 
It will also result in night blindness, where it is difficult for the eye to adjust itself to a change from bright light to darkness. 
Example: When a person with night blindness enters a darkened movie, it may be a long time before he can make out subjects. 
Normal eyes begin to see properly within a few minutes.


Dairy products (butter, cream, milk, and eggs), liver, yellow or green vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsley). 
The body manufactures Vitamin A from a chemical called carotene which is present in the vegetables just mentioned. 
The discovery of vitamin B1 (Thiamin) is due largely to the work of Dr. Christiaan Eijkman, a Dutch physician. 
He was greatly affected by the sight of many of the natives of Java dying of disease called beriberi (meaning, "I cannot, I cannot"). 
It began with muscular weakness and ended with paralysis of the arms and legs, and death. 
No one could cure it.
One day, Dr. Eijkman noticed that some chickens were staggering drunkenly about. 
In fact, they were acting very much like natives who had beriberi. 
Eijkaman's investigations showed that these chickens had been fed a diet of polished rice.
When brown rice (rice with the outer covering on it) was substituted in their food, the chickens quickly recovered their health. 
The same wonderful results were obtained when brown rice was substituted in the food of the natives. The cause of this startling cure was called vitamin B, present in the outer covering of the rice. 
It was later shown that vitamin B consisted of several vitamins; the one which cured beriberi was then called vitamin B.
Later, the American chemist R.R. Williams discovered the exact chemicals that make up vitamin B, now called thiamin. 


Vitamin B1 is needed to help our body oxidize starches and sugars and to stimulate appetite and vigor. 
Vitamin B1 deficiency results in lack of appetite; appearance of various digestive disorders; showing of nervous upsets; beriberi. Vitamin B1 is found in whole cereals and grains (not refined), yeast, pork, eggs, liver, legumes, milk. Vitamin B is stored in the human body. 
Like vitamin B1, Vitamin B2 helps the body oxidize nutrients to provide energy for the body. 
Vitamin deficiency can cause skin trouble around the mouth, nose, and cheeks. Vitamin B2 has same sources with Vitamin B2 except the cereals. 
An English doctor named James Lind experimented (1757) with the treatment of scurvy aboard his ship. As was usual in those days, many of the ship's crew had come down with scurvy. 
Livid divided his patients into groups and tried a different method of treatment on each group.
The group that received lemons and oranges made startling recoveries. 
The British government then ordered that all sailors, while at sea, be given daily rations of lemon juice. Although lemons were used, the juice was called lime juice; hence the name "limey." In 1932m ascorbic acid (vitamin C) was separated out in pure form, and in 1933 a method of manufacturing it was discovered.


Vitamin C is needed to build strong blood vessels (especially in the gums and joints). 
It is needed to keep the parts of the teeth just under the white enamel, in healthy condition.
Vitamin C deficiency will cause bleeding of gums, poor tooth formation, sore and stiff joints, and finally, in bad cases, scurvy. 
Sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and their juices (lemons, oranges, grapefruit), tomatoes, cabbage, bananas.
Vitamin D is an unusual one because it is not found in many foods, as are other vitamins. 
However, we have present in our skin certain substances which the sun helps to change into vitamin D. 
Those of us who haven't the opportunity to be out in the sun much, may use ultraviolet lamps to stimulate the body to produce vitamin D. 
Scientists have also learned how to put vitamin D into certain foods, such as milk and bread.
Foods to which vitamin D has been added by exposure to suitable rays are known as irradiated foods. 
Vitamin D is needed to help the body make proper use of the minerals calcium and phosphorus, which aid in building sound bones and teeth.


Vitamin D deficiency results in the disease called rickets, which shows itself in bowed legs, soft bones, and bad teeth.
Vitamin E has been known and recognized for almost 80 years, yet its action in humans is still much of a mystery. 
Rats and mice must have this vitamin in order to have young. 
Its need in humans is not proved, however.
In rats and mice, a lack of vitamin E results in sterility (inability to have young). 
Wheat germ oil, meat, dairy products, lettuce, peanut oil are good sources of vitamin E. 
Vitamin K is needed to help the clotting of blood under certain conditions of excess bleeding. 
Vitamin K deficiency may result in severe loss of blood. 
Green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, and alfalfa are good sources of vitamin K.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

'Don't push me'

"A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand."
 -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The violent death of an Ilongga housekeeper pushed in a subway train in Manhattan recently, has stunned the Filipino community.

I always tell newly-arrived or just visiting friends in the Big Apple to stay away from the yellow lane of the subway train platform and to never trust anyone when waiting for the next train.
There's no harm in taking precautions. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
We never know if we are standing next to a lunatic who is a fellow passenger. Or a violent-prone maniac with criminal instinct who does not like the way we look or the color of our skin.
In every paradise there is serpent--like the New York City Subway.


The largest rapid transit system in the world by number of stations, the New York City Subway, with 469 stations in operation, is also the most deadly in the world.
There are actually only 422, if stations connected by transfers are counted as single stations located throughout the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
This year alone, as of this writing, 44 people were killed by trains. Last year saw 50 fatalities in all, according to the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
The Daily News reported that the 2016 death toll includes Connie Watton, 49, a former resident of Iloilo City in the Philippines, who lived in Queens.
A woman who has battled mental illness,  later identified as Melanie Liverpool,  is accused of sending Watton into the path of a 1 train at Times Square on Nov. 7.


Connie's shocking death became the talk of the town in the Filipino community also because she had worked for decades as a housekeeper for billionaire Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman.
"My whole family is really said and shocked" about the death of 49-year-old Connie Watton, Zibby,  Schwarzman's daughter told the New York Post. "It's horrifying."
Connie, who was earlier reported to be "from Molo, Iloilo City", had engaged Liverpool in a verbal spat prior to the pushing incident, witnesses said.
There were reports they they accidentally bumped each other when they swiped their cards while entering the platform area.


"Basta Ilongga mabato gid na ya kon gina away kag kon na trap na (An Ilongga will always fight back if pushed against the wall)," said Edeza Hablo, an Ilongga from Molo, Iloilo City, who has lived here for more than 10 years.

Because of the recent tragedies on train tracks from people being shoved or fatally jumping from platforms to their deaths,  some MTA officials are reconsidering putting up barriers and technology to stem the carnage.
Transit systems in London and Paris use sliding barriers on some platforms, it was learned.
By annual ridership, the New York City Subway is the busiest rapid transit rail system in the United States and in the Western world, as well as the seventh busiest rapid transit rail system in the world; the metro (subway) systems in Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Moscow, Tokyo, and Guangzhou record a higher annual ridership.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Don't panic: 'Overstaying' different from 'undocumented'

"Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them." --Thomas Sowell

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- This could be a heightened emotional rather than political issue.
President-elect Donald J. Trump may have taken a tough stand on immigration issues during the campaign period, but it remains to be seen how will his incoming Republican administration implement the feared mass deportation of "illegal aliens" estimated to be around 11.5 million in the entire United States.
While his upset win against Hillary Clinton hogged headlines days after the November 8 elections, the gnawing fear among undocumented immigrants dominated the discussions in communities that may be potentially affected by Mr. Trump's ascension to White House on January 20, 2017.
Now that real panic has beckoned, it is best if we begin with the definition of terms to describe and identify the involved parties, so as not to cause confusion, misinformation, and miscommunication.
Although the term "undocumented" should be the generic to describe those staying in the United States illegally, let us be clear about Mr. Trump's real targets--and how far can he possibly cause torments to the culturally diverse population.


When he began lashing at "rapists and criminals" last year to unravel his intention to run for president, Mr. Trump stepped up his acrimony with a stunning proposal to build a wall in the border.
He was referring to the Mexicans or the Latinos from Spanish-speaking countries and territories who used the U.S.-Mexico border to sneak illegally into the mainland USA.
This group of "illegal immigrants" are considered "undocumented" because they entered without legal papers or government-issued identification cards, among other valid documents after outsmarting border patrols.
To add insult, some of them commit criminal acts and violate the laws, thus their chances of being deported swiftly become certain.
Some Chinese and Cuban nationals, who arrived under mysterious circumstances, may also be classified as "undocumented" because, like some tricky Latinos, they have no passports, birth certificates, among other legal papers, when they set foot in the US via sea.
Most of them did not go through proper immigration procedures upon entry.


Another group of Asians that include Indians, Filipinos, Indonesians, Malaysians, and Vietnamese who arrived on tourist or temporary visas may be classified as "overstaying" if their visas have expired and have extended their stay without authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),  a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
They may be technically called as "illegals" for having violated the terms and conditions of their visas or their failure to go back to their country of origin as specified, but they can always obtain valid documents like passports from their respective consulates. 
They can't be tagged as "undocumented".
If they did not commit a crime and their behavior is not inimical to the interest of the state, and regularly pay taxes, TNTs (Tago Ng Tago) may not be easily "harassed" into falling in line to the deportation proceedings especially if they have competent lawyers and valid or justifiable reasons for extension of stay.
There is no doubt Trump's deportation guillotine is now being sharpened, but it will take a horrific number of manpower and federal cash out to round up all the 11.5 million warm bodies without being hounded by international watchdogs and accusations of inhuman treatment when emotions start to rack up and families start to break up.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

'Duterte hard to predict than Trump'

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Describing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as "an emotional person", the director of New York University Center for U.S.-China Relations considers the Filipino leader as "more difficult to predict" than US President-elect Donald J. Trump on the issue in the South China Sea.
"If it’s difficult to try to predict Mr. Trump, it’s even more difficult to predict Mr. Duterte.  So I really don’t want to be in the position of trying to predict how he would behave," David B. H. Denoon, also professor of politics and economics, told foreign journalists in a briefing for the 2016 presidential race hosted by the New York Foreign Press Center (NYFPC) at The Westin New York Grand Central, November 8.
Denoon said there are some people who think that Mr. Duterte "is clever and that he is essentially just trying to negotiate and play China against the United States, and that he thinks he can keep the United States as the Philippines’ most important ally while insulting the American President and saying a number of very rash things."  


According to Denoon, "the foreign ministry in the Philippines has tried to back down from some of the things Mr. Duterte said in Beijing, when he said he wanted to break off the relationship with the U.S."
He added: "I don’t think we know what he’s going to do.  I think he’s very, very hard to predict.  I would say the Philippines would be an absolutely critical country for anyone who believed in the original concept that Secretary Clinton put forth in terms of rebalancing towards Asia.  Because if the Philippines turns out to be pro-China or hostile to the U.S., given its location close to Taiwan and given its location close to Malaysia and Indonesia, that would change the strategic balance." 
"The same thing is true of Malaysia, however.  Malaysia is much smaller, but if you look at its location, the eastern provinces of Malaysia are next to Indonesia and next to the Philippines.  If Malaysia becomes pro-China, then it’s going to have a dramatic effect within the region.  


"The only country that has moved in the other direction and become more critical of China in the last few years is Indonesia, where the president has become extremely antagonistic to the Chinese role in Indonesian waters.  In fact, Indonesians are the only people in Asia who have sunk Chinese fishing boats and have captured Chinese civilians.
"So I would say the problem with trying to predict Duterte is that we don’t know whether he’s just bargaining or whether this is his true set of views.  But certainly the mainstream public in the Philippines is very positive towards the United States, and they’re all scratching their heads over what he’s trying to do."

Monday, November 7, 2016

What to expect on election day in New York--A Primer on Exit Polling and Calling the Race

NEW YORK CITY -- Transcript by the New York Foreign Press Center (NYFPC) on Q & A with Dr. Christina Greer of Fordham University, during the NYFPC briefing on "What to expect on election day in New York -- A Primer on Exit Polling and Calling the Race" at The Westin New York Grand Central, November 7.
PRESS:  Good morning.  I am Alex Vidal and I am from the Philippines.
We hold our presidential election every six years and like in the United States, there are more than 100 candidates who file a certificate of candidacy. 
And before the election proper commences, the names of these so-called nuisance candidates are removed from the ballots.  
So we’ve learned that in the United States, in this year’s election there are at least, 1,780 people who signified their statement of candidacy.  So how do you handle this situation?  Are their names still there in the ballot?
DR. GREER:  Depending on I think the state in which they possibly declared, but no.  We know that most people have never heard of any of these people.  Right?  
And you have to get a certain threshold to actually show up on a ballot.  So you may have declared your candidacy, but you are not on a ballot as a proper party.  A recognized party.
There are lots of ways that you can write in particular individuals, but unfortunately, I think that goes back to an earlier question where it’s like the country and the institutions, mechanisms that create sort of how we run our elections are really based on a two-party system.  Right?
The interesting thing, though, is there has been a conversation and I don’t know how this would happen because again it would be a constitutional amendment, but some people argue that because of the influx of money in campaigns these days.  
We know that essentially we’ve been dealing with this campaign for about a year and a half.  Because of so much money and like the billions of dollars that it now costs to run for the presidency, we know that the sitting President has to start running essentially immediately after the mid-term elections. Right?  
So when Barack Obama got through the 2014 mid-term elections, or the 2010 elections, he essentially geared up for his reelection campaign for 2012.
Some people argue, well if we gave the presidency just six years, so it’s a one term of six years, we wouldn’t have to worry about someone spending essentially two years running for reelection.  
They could just get in and get the job done and then they leave.  Right? 
However, our Senators are there for six years and so it’s an interesting proposition, but I don’t know if that would happen.

The State of the Race: The Liberal Perspective

NEW YORK CITY -- Transcript by the New York Foreign Press Center (NYFPC) interaction between yours truly and Jefrey Pollock, founding partner and president of Global Strategy Group, during the NYFPC  briefing on "The State of the Race--The Liberal Perspective" at The Westin New York Grand Central, November 7.
ALEX P. VIDAL of the Philippines: Mr. Trump has bashed the media not only once, not only twice --
MR POLLOCK:  Say that again.  He has passed?
VIDAL:  Mr. Trump has bashed the media not only once, not only twice, but several times in his speeches.
MR POLLOCK:  Oh, yes.
VIDAL:  Yes.  And since these polls have been reported in mass media, and technically they have become part and parcel of media -- 
VIDAL:  -- so how do we convince the doubting Thomases, especially the pro-Trump supporters, that these polls that tilt in favor of Hillary Clinton, are credible?

MR POLLOCK:  Well, if Hillary wins tomorrow and then maybe they’re convinced until Donald Trump says it’s all rigged and contests the election.  I don’t have a great answer for you.  There’s no question that Donald Trump has taken media bashing to a new level, a disheartening level, in this cycle.  There are pictures of folks at their – folks at a Trump rally from today or yesterday wearing terrible t-shirts that sort of talk about taking it to the media, and I mean literally taking them out and hanging them on a tree kind of a thing.  
And so that’s part of the thing that is so depressing about this election cycle is the base level of conversation that we have had to have.  But I don’t think that – it’s not – it’s not anyone’s job to convince the voters that the polls are wrong or right.  
We’re going to see on Election Day and there’s going to be a lot of conversations about what those polls said and whether they were right or wrong. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

My U.S. election tour assignment: Brooklyn

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- First of all, I would like to thank U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center Director Kathy Eagen for approving my participation in the New York Foreign Press Center (NYFPC) Tour to New York City Polling Locations during the U.S. Presidential Election on November 8, 2016.
Director Eagen asked me to choose between Samuels Community Center in Harlem in Bronx and Williamsburg Community Center in Brooklyn. 
I chose the latter.
Those approved to join the two NYFPC Tour with topic: "New York Presidential Election Polling Center Observation: Harlem and Brooklyn," will have the opportunity to observe the voting process.
We can also conduct interviews with polling officials and voters on a strictly voluntary basis, according to Eagen.


Journalists who carry authorization letters from the Board of Elections will be free to go to any polling center in New York.
On Monday, November 7 (U.S. time),  we will have "on-the-record briefing" on  "What to expect on election day in New York -- A Primer on Exit Polling and Calling the Race" with speaker Dr. Christina Greer of Fordham University in the morning.
In the afternoon, Jefrey Pollock, founding partner and president of Global Strategy Group, will speak on the State of the Race--The Liberal Perspective.
On Tuesday, November 8 (U.S. time), "On-the-record panel with Columbia and NYU professors: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Next Administration" will be tackled.
The speakers are: 
--David L. Phillips, senior adviser to the United Nation Secretariat, who also writes frequently on ISIS, Iraq, Syria and Turkey for He is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights;
--Kimberly Marten, a former Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute with expertise in Russian foreign policy; patronage; corruption; U.S-Russia relations; international security;
--Christopher Sabatini, who has worked on and in Cuba since 1997 and has been working with White House advisors on policy change toward Cuba since the start of the Obama administration.  He is the senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA);
--David Denoon, professor of Politics and Economics at New York University and Director of the NYU Center on U.S.-China Relations.  He has served in the Federal Government in three positions:  Program Economist for USAID in Jakarta, Vice President of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.


Also to be discussed is "On-the-record Briefing: The State of the Race-The Conservative Perspective" by speaker John McLaughlin, CEO and Partner of McLaughlin and Associates.
 On Wednesday, November 9 (U.S. time), "On-the-record Panel: Post-Election Day Perspectives at Baruch College" (to be hel at 5 Lexington Ave., Entrance on E. 25th St. between Lexington & 3rd Aves, NY, NY) will have the following speakers:
--David Birdsell, dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs (all election topics);
--Mitchel B. Wallerstein, president of Baruch College, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counterproliferation Policy and Senior Defense Representative for Trade Security Policy from 1993-1997;
--Thomas Main, professor whose current research is on the alt-right and is an expert on urban issues/cities; and
--Carla Robbins, clinical professor, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, specialist in national security and diplomacy.

Friday, November 4, 2016

CNN: The final get-out-the-vote flurry begins

Washington (CNN) -- On the ground, on the air, and on the stump -- it is now all about getting out the vote.
For both parties, the last 96 hours before Election Day is the time to put months, even years-long plans to turn out voters in motion.
In 2016, Republicans are trying to learn from their mistakes. After their lagging 2012 operation failed to elect Mitt Romney, the Republican National Committee began working to step up their game, investing manpower and resources in many key states some three years ago.
"We are 100 miles away from where we were in 2012," said Matt Dailer, the RNC's director in the battleground state of Iowa.
One of the biggest differences between this election cycle and those in the past is that Republican activists and volunteers are working on a new phone app to get out the vote.
"It will show you their party affiliation, how reliable they are as a voter. You just click that voter, do tech survey, boom there you go right there," said Dailer, as he demonstrated the way it works.
It also gives volunteers what's called "dynamic scripting," a tool that prompts different pitches to voters depending on their answers to a set of questions, information instantly sent back to RNC headquarters.
"If we have someone who says the country is going in the wrong direction but they plan on voting for Hillary Clinton, there we go," Dailer said. "Now we know how we can target them."
"We need to talk to low-propensity Republicans to make sure they know when the election is and figure out who they're going to support so we can drive them out," he added.
Now, in the final push, thousands of GOP staffers and volunteers are using that app in battleground states across the country. The RNC, which is leading Trump's ground operation, says it will complete 17 million door knocks by Election Day, up from the 11.5 million it did in 2012.
It's an ambitious plan, but it's been done before -- by the Democrats.
Republican strategists openly admit that they are trying to emulate the Obama ground machine that crushed the GOP for two presidential election cycles.
And this cycle, the Democrats are not slowing down. Armies of Democratic volunteers and activists are spread out over the same key states as Republicans.
Clinton campaign aides say they are expecting to have close to 1 million volunteer shifts in the final 96 hours alone.
In some ways, team Clinton is old school. Unlike the Republicans who do almost everything on an app, the Democrats still distribute call sheets and send volunteers out canvassing with paper and clipboards. All the information is then imputed and tallied at the end of each day.
Still, overall, the Clinton system is very high tech, using social and digital media to build on that vaunted Obama operation. Jessalyn Reid, the Clinton campaign's Virginia state digital director, explained that their technology is all about meeting voters where they are, which in 2016 is online.
"We've got apps and mobile websites and email and all of the stuff that we're going to bring together for a holistic direct voter contact program that really reaches people where they are and enables them to organize their communities and get out the vote both on and off line," she said.
For Team Clinton, getting out the vote is all about decentralizing the process and helping volunteers reach out to people in their own communities.
Democrats also stress the importance of getting their supporters to make a concrete voting plan. Reid demonstrated on her phone how voters can use text messages to nail down every detail, from their polling location to what kind of transportation they will take to what time of day they plan to go. And on Election Day, Reid said those voters will get a reminder straight to their phones telling them to go vote.
With just days until the election, Clinton officials say their volunteers are pretty much done trying to persuade voters to support the Democratic nominee; they are just focused on turnout.
"Right now, and through the final stretch of the campaign, we are talking to Hillary supporters -- so people that we know support Hillary," said Reid.
Republican officials say they are also focusing their phone efforts on turning out supporters, but say their technology makes it possible to continue trying to persuade soft voters door to door, even in the final days of the campaign.
Still, for both sides, on Election Day, all the phone calls, messaging, door knocking, has to translate to one thing: votes.