Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Specials meals
In the air?
Only if you're lucky


IF YOU NEED a special meal on a flight from Here to There, plan to pack your own food.

Airlines have a l-o-n-g history of failing to deliver ordered-well-in-advance special meals.

THE SPOUSE JUST RETURNED from an overseas flight via Delta and Alitalia.

When the flight was booked, she called Delta and told a Customer Care person that she needed special meals both going and returning. Since the international legs were to be flown on Alitalia aircraft, she asked the Delta agent if she needed to contact Alitalia.

No, Delta told The Spouse; it's all arranged.

About 48 hours before departing, the Spouse called Delta and reminded the Customer Service Representative (CSR) that there was a special meal request.

The Delta domestic leg was sans meal. The Alitalia leg had meals on both flights. Not particularly GOOD meals, but edible.

On the return flight, The Spouse tried to confirm her special meals via the WWW.

Can't be done.

She tried calling Alitalia but was unable to contact a real person.

Not a problem, right? After all, The Spouse HAD spoken with a Delta agent who assured The Spouse that Alitalia knew about, and would honor, her special meal request.

SO, she gets to the airport and, after clearing all the checks, makes her way to the Alitalia counter to check her luggage.

She asked, as she had been told, the agent to make certain her boarding pass was marked showing she ordered special meals. The clerk checked the computer and told her, No mam, no special meals are ordered for you. He told her to check with a ticketing agent.

The ticketing agent reached a new high in rudeness and told The Spouse she should have confirmed her special meal request 24 hours in advance of the flight. Ignoring the fact that The Spouse TRIED - and was unable - to contact the local Alitalia office, Ms. Rude dismissed The Spouse with "There's nothing I can do."

The Spouse asked to speak to the woman's supervisor and was told "There are no supervisors over me."

The Spouse returned to the guy who collected her suitcase and reported no progress. This clerk made a note in hiss computer and escalated the issue to his supervisor.

The Spouse's forgotten meal apparently is a common occurrence with the Italian airline - the same happened to me on an earlier flight.

I once flew via British Midland International - then owned in part by Lufthansa - from England and back. On the outbound leg, no meal. On the return leg, the flight attendant gave my meal - with my name on the box - to another passenger sitting. Fortunately, my United connection - that was held up for my late-arriving BMI flight (thank you, United) - had food for me.

Lest anyone think missing meals only happens on foreign flight, not so.

Back when Pan Am was in business, a special meal that I was assured was on board by a counter agent, was left at JFK. When I complained I was told that I - the paying passenger - should checked with the stewardess (this was pre-"flight attendant") as I boarded to assure my meal was on board.

Since meals have to be ordered at least 24 hours pre-flight, asking the flight attendant (FA) if my special meal is on board had zero value and the FAs cannot or will not do anything to get a promised meal on board.

My next flight was domestic on US Air (when there WAS a US Air). When I got the Charleston NC I hunted up the Station Manager, explained about my Pan Am experience and he made certain my special meal was on board my flight to Boston.

Iberia, which I've flown on several occasions, always managed to get the special meals on board; the only problem with Iberia is the Madrid hub and the short time to rush from arrival gate to departure gate, always on the far side of the terminal. (Barcelona, on the other hand, is nice.)

A thought. It's too bad that an international passenger, once cleared at the originating airport, cannot wait in a secure area for a connecting flight, avoiding having to run the gauntlet of no shoes, no belt, nothing in pockets, no computers in bag time consuming recheck; once ought to be enough (unless the passenger exits the secure area. Domestic changes of planes or carriers don't require a re-check. Why must international passengers suffer, at least when flights originate in a country with tight pre-boarding checks.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


So-so documentation;
Fair customer service


OF LATE I HAVE been on a rampage about customer service; actually the LACK of customer service.

This is, unfortunately, an on-going travail for me.

But I came across a company with responsive, albeit not especially fast, customer service.

The company is Taurus, full name Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc.. of Miami FL.

Actually, Taurus is Forjas Taurus S.A and, save for one caliber, it makes Taurus (and other) firearms in Brasil (Brazil) . The Miami operation imports the Brasil-made firearms and, when necessary, handles repairs.

I was reading the Taurus Revolvers Instruction Manual a/k/a owner's manual; it covers all wheel guns (revolvers) made by Taurus. LOTS of pages of warnings and cautions. As a former tech writer, I appreciate that.

There is a relatively new, "souped up" ammunition for specific calibers. It's called "+P" (Plus P), the "P" being for "pressure."

Not all weapons for which +P bullets fit are designed for regular use of +P bullets.

Taurus' manual gives a list.

It looks like all current Taurus .38 caliber revolvers can accommodate +P, as well as "all firearms chambered in .38 Super Automatic, .45 ACP, and 9 mm Luger."

Missing was a line reading "All firearms chambered for .367 magnum."

I just bought a used Taurus Model 605 .357 magnum manufacatured in 2014.

Was I going to fire .38 +P bullets with it? Taurus omitted that flavor in its list and I suspect perhaps there was a reason for the omission. Perhaps date of manufacture?

I did my homework and found out that while the .38 +P is more powerful (has more pressure anyway) than a .38 Special, the +P pressure was substantually less than a .357 round.

So I wrote a snailmail letter to Taurus asking How Come the .357 was missing from the list of weapons that could fire +P ammunition. I included in my letter what I discovered regarding pressure ratings. Perhaps Taurus has a reason I failed to perceive for omitting the .357 from the list of guns that would safely fire +P rounds. Maybe the age of the gun.

Friday afternoon a Sweet Young Thing calls and tells me she's calling from Taurus and yes, the .357 magnum I bought will indeed safely fire .38 Special +P ammunition.

She tried to explain about pressure and how the .357 bullet's pressure was higher than the .38 +P and I interrupted her, telling her THAT information was in MY letter to Taurus.

For all that, Taurus gets at least a silver star on its corporate forehead for at least responding to my query, and with an answer than actually was usable.

Meanwhile, an airline's Customer Care(less) operation still is doing I'm not sure what, certainly not answering my many-times-asked question. The traveler will be back home before I get an answer from the airline.

Since I know I'm going to make another international flight, maybe I'll ask another airline how to get from Passport Control and Customs to the domestic flight gates in Philadelphia.

It's a shame that a customer service opeeration that takes care of the customers is so unusual.

Friday, July 24, 2015


The Donald:
Nothing new


Is The Donald (Trump) original?

Not really.

Trump goes to the Arizona-Mexico border and calls for the U.S. to "build a wall.:


Fences, Walls, & other Barriers

Image from

From the EBSCO web site:

    In 1986, Congress passed, and President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), granting lawful permanent residence to 2.7 million people. Instead of ending the flow of illegal immigration, it actually caused a brief spike, as family members of the newly legal residents entered the country illegally. Within a decade, the number of illegal immigrants was back to more than five million.

    In 1990, (Geo. H. Bush administration) the United States constructed a 66-mile (106-kilometer) fence along the California coast from San Diego to the Pacific Ocean to deter illegal immigration. Arrests of illegal immigrants in the San Diego region declined sharply as a result of the fence, but increased nearly 600 percent in Arizona, where the number of accidental deaths also climbed as Mexicans attempted to traverse the harsh desert environment.

    In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The act increased fines for illegal aliens, provided additional funding for border patrol and surveillance, and also approved the installation of an additional 14-mile (22-kilometer) fence near San Diego. Some landowners in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas erected their own fences, often with the help of militia, but no permanent barrier had been constructed by the government in these areas until recently.

    The Secure Fence Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, promised 700 miles (1,126 kilometers) of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border; however, lawsuits and protests from citizen groups halted construction. The Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife filed a lawsuit challenging the ability of the Bush administration to waive important environmental regulations in order to build the wall on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in Arizona. These regulations include the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In October 2007, a U.S. district court sided with the organizations and stopped construction.

    Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), introduced the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act (HR 2593) in 2007. The bill would mitigate some of problems cited by critics of the Secure Fence Act.

The EBSCO site cited above, History of Border Walls in the U.S. and Around the World, includes interesting information on other, more famous, walls, including:

    The Great Wall of China was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644

    Hadrian's Wall (76-138 CE) stretched more than 73 miles and was as thick as 10 feet.

    The Berlin Wall, built in 1961, was 96-miles long and nearly 12 feet high.

Walls around cities were - are - so common they don't rate a mention on the site.

John McCain & "Sitting out the War"

Image from the Dry Bones blog

Although he claimed it was just a joke, Al Frankel - before he became the Democratic senator from Minnesota, he was quoted by CNN stating:

    "I have tremendous respect for McCain but I don't buy the war hero thing. Anybody can be captured. I thought the idea was to capture them. As far as I'm concerned he sat out the war," Franken quipped to Salon for a 2000 article about the stakes of that year's presidential election.

So, while The Donald's remarks may seem scandalous and outrageous, they are anything but original and they manage to cross party lines.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Protect employees
Or face OSHA fines


According to an Amy Yurkanin article published under the heading Feds fine Birmingham nonprofit after violent clients attack staff in the web site, OSHA* fined a Birmingham AL social service agency a paltry $7,000 for failing to protect its employees from repeated attacks by its teenage clients.

Although the pittance was for only four incidents in January and February of this year, it claimed that "employees were being injured by violent clients for several years" yet management "took no action to protect their workers."

Editorializing about the fine's amount is mine.

ALTHOUGH AGENCY EXECUTIVES still are mulling whether to fight the OSHA fine, the administration director said that " We have always had provisions in place to protect both the safety of our staff and our residents, and we will continue to do so."

If the OSHA complaint is accurate - the reporter carefully, and properly, added "allegedly failing to protect staff" - then the organization's claim to protect both the safety of our staff lacks veracity.

The thing that is disturbing is OSHA's contention that attacks on "employees were being injured by violent clients" have been recorded for "several years."

The article fails to state what action, if any, the social service agency took to prevent the attacks or if the attacks were reported to police (and if the police and courts DID anything in response).

THE BOTTOM LINE for organizations - and this is in the purview of Risk Management practitioners - is to assure that measures are in place to protect both employees and visitors from attack. That includes physical barriers between employees and clients and restricted entry as well as well-publicized policies and procedures - with ongoing training to assure the P&Ps are understood and followed - to prevent attacks.

I once worked as a tech writer for a company that allowed an estranged husband to visit his wife where she worked; he shot and killed his wife, the mother of his children. Personnel and personal safety has been a major concern for me as a Risk Management practitoner.

While the Risk Management practitioner may not be able to demand that management do "the right thing," the practitioner must, at least, make management aware of the consequences: fines, high employee turn-over, law suits, and damage to the organization's image. The practitioner is well advised to document every discussion to avoid inclusion in any post-attack legal action.


OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Source: Feds fine Birmingham nonprofit after violent clients attack staff in AL.COM

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Laissez-faire response
Despite in-place P&Ps
Proving expensive for UAL


In Pryor v. United Air Lines, Inc., the plaintiff, an African-American flight attendant, complained to United after she found a note in her company mailbox with a drawing of a person hanging from a noose accompanied by the “n-word” and language encouraging the hunting and killing of African-Americans. She immediately complained to her supervisor, but he failed to escalate the matter in the manner required by United’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy. Other United supervisors also failed to follow the policy’s reporting protocol, despite the seriousness of the racist death threat and the circulation of other racist remarks at United’s Dulles Airport facility concerning other African-American flight attendants. When the police sought to investigate, the supervisors were uncooperative. United then closed its investigation without informing the plaintiff. Plaintiff later filed a complaint alleging hostile work environment in violation of Section 1981 and Title VII.

Failure to investigate all good faith complaints of harassment can result in serious liability for the employer under the anti-discrimination statutes.

Renee Pryor, A United flight attendant and employee since 1984, apparently did all the right things when she received an anonymous note that she felt threatened her life.

The case first was heard in District Court where the court ruled in United's favor. The case was appealed to the three-judge appeals court that agreed with the plaintiff that United could have done more to investigate the source of the threat.

The appeals court sent the case back to the District Court noting in it's decision that “Indeed, a reasonable jury could find that United's response was instead reluctant and reactive, intended to minimize any disruption to day-to-day operations instead of identifying a perpetrator and deterring future harassment,” said the appeals panel in reinstating the case."

Even if United prevails, and give the Appeals Court decision that seems not likely, the airline is the loser.

    It has paid attorney fees. It's witnesses have lost time from work. It's image has been (further) tarnished.

Apparently the anonymous note writer is based at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia; Pryor since has been transferred to George Bush International Airport in Houston, where she has not reported any further race-related incidents.

United had policies and procedures in place, but apparently its supervisors either ignored the P&Ps or determined that they applied to someone else.

BOTTOM LINE for Risk Management practitioners: Policies and Procedures sans regular training and retraining of personnel - from the new hire to the most senior executive - must be ongoing to assure that at least the organization has done its due diligence.

That may not stop a law suit, but it might mitigate the severity of a fine if the courts rule against the organization.




China, yes,
Saudia, yes,
Iran, yes,
Cuba, no ?


SOME (MANY) SOUTH FLORIDA CUBANS, including lawmakers, are ranting that the U.S. should NOT reopen diplomatic relations with its neighbor a mere 90 miles to the south because the Cuban government is not democratic and restricts people's rights.

Fair enough.

BUT, the U.S. has diplomatic and trade agreements, and in some cases, military compacts, with countries far worse than Cuba when it comes to human rights violations and democracy.

Plus, for more than 50 years the U.S. embargo - that, thanks to its allies has all but crumbled - has failed to depose the Castros and Communism.

Finally, if full diplomatic and trade relations are restored, maybe some of the Cubans who always said they would go back will go back and Miami can be American once more.

It seems highly hypocritical that politicos such as presidential hopeful Mario Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are so against normalizing relations with Cuba when it was a Republican president - Richard Nixon - who normalized relations with China, the country that gave the world the the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and followed up with

    Lead in children's toys
  • Defective tires
  • Poisonous wall board
  • Tainted food products

and largely has managed to own much of the U.S., primarily through illegal trade.

Democrat Bill Clinton normalized relations with Vietnam after Nixon got the U.S. out of the war there.

The current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is leading the U.S. toward normalization of relations with Iran, not only a despotic state but one where the leaders call for "Death to America."

Neither China not Vietnam are bastions of democracy and human rights.

The U.S. maintains diplomatic relations with at least five countries labeled by the Human Rights Watch as violators of human rights:

  1. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy which doesn’t even allow political parties or any kind of public dissent.
  2. Zimbabwe. The US has diplomatic relations with the notoriously dictatorial government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and actually has given the country $400 million in humanitarian aid
  3. Belarus, a small eastern European country with a population of 9.5 million, which never made the transition to democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union. We have an embassy in Minsk, though the post of ambassador is right now unfilled (there is a charge d’affaires).
  4. Sultanate of Brunei: The US has warm diplomatic relations and a US embassy there, despite its disregard for basic human rights
  5. Vietnam The Vietnam government systematically suppresses freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and persecutes those who question government policies, expose official corruption, or call for democratic alternatives to one-party rule. Police harass and intimidate activists and their family members

The U.S. maintains diplomatic relations with Russia, despite its record on human rights and its invasion of the Ukraine. It maintains diplomatic relations with Turkey despite its human rights record against is own, never mind the Kurds.

The U.S. State Department issues an annual International Religious Freedom Report . The report for 2013 listed the following nations as places where freedom of religion is denied or restricted:

    Bangladesh, Belgium*, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, France*, Germany*, Hungary*, Italy*, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Latvia, Nigeria, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden*, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom*, Uzbekistan

    * = noted for increasing anti-Semitism.

    The Palestinian Authority is notable by its absence despite the fact that it promises a Jewish-free country.

Given all of the above, it's hard to see why Cuba should be singled out to (try to) punish for being "un-American."

Monday, July 20, 2015


Open mouth,
Insert foot


"THE DONALD" (TRUMP) should recall the old saw about "throwing stones when you live in a glass house."

Trump recently belittled non-candidate Sen. John McCain's military service, noting that in his opinion, McCain was no hero for spending time as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Vietnam.

Maybe McCain is not a hero for surviving the war. McCain fought his war from a Navy attack aircraft. (Wikipedia) His plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967.

The question is: What did YOU do in the war, Donald?

While John McCain, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jim Webb were in uniform - with Webb, a Marine, on the ground in 'Nam - were was "The Donald"?

It may not be "heroic" to spend years as a Viet Cong prisoner, as McCain did, but at least he served, and he served in a combat area, albeit from the relative safety of the skies.

According to the Daily Caller web site, both Graham and Perry wore Air Force blue; Graham as a lawyer and Perry in the air.

Webb, a Marine, ended the war with a Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. Were I unkind, I could picture The Donald telling everyone that Webb's Purple Hearts were because he "forgot to duck" or "got in the way" of the bullets.

Because of Webb's service, he isn't likely to casually send Americans into danger; his son, a Marine Corps sergeant, served in Iraq.

To be fair, the U.S. has had presidents who served in the military and did a really lousy job as president - Jimmy Carter is a prime example - and presidents who avoided military service and did OK; Thom. Jefferson comes to mind.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton, having watched as Americans were murdered in Libya on her watch (as Secretary of State) might - or might not - have some second thoughts about sending Americans into danger.

Trump is correct that Mexico exports crime to the U.S., but his broad brush attack on all Mexicans is outrageous. The man lets his mouth overload his … posterior. Apparently Trump took umbrage at remarks McCain made at Trump's expense and that prompted his ill-advised attack on the senator from Arizona.

Unfortunately for The Donald, he is becoming known less for his hair and more for his mouth.

At least when Muhammad Ali nee' Cassius Clay, ran off at the mouth, he could - and did -back it up. While Joseph Evans Brown had a big mouth, at least he was funny; Trump is not.

Donald, you are NOT Howard William Cohen and you do NOT "tell it like it is"; you tell it as you want it to be. You are not what I want in the White House.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Can't people READ?


I BELIEVE I KNOW how to communicate, at least in writing.

Over my lifetime I have worked successfully as a newspaper reporter and editor, a PR flack (practitioner), and a technical writer. I'll admit I am not the world's best "speler"CQ, but I use spell check and both on-line and unabridged hard copy dictionaries to mitigate my deficiency.

Given that, I am somewhat miffed, put out, and otherwise perturbed (I'm being polite) when I TRY to communicate with groups that claim to be "Customer Service."

I recently had occasion to contact my favorite airline's Customer Care people. For domestic service, this airline is very good; not the least expensive, but service is usually A-1.

My Spouse is returning from visiting across the pond. She will be arriving at JFK' Terminal 4. Clearing passport control, collecting baggage, and clearing Customs goes fairly smoothly, even with masses of passengers seemingly arriving at the same time. I did the "Welcome Home" exercise a few months ago, so I write from experience.

Once The Spouse clears Customs she has to haul her bag to a domestic flight baggage re-check. The walk from the Customs' exit gate to the baggage re-check is short and, if the bags are on wheels - as most are - not difficult.


I now know, thanks to the airline's Web site, that there is (was?) a bus/van shuttle between JFK Terminal 4 to the airline's terminal for most domestic flights. I didn't know this when I came back; the guy who checked my bag - certainly nice enough - directed me to the intra-airport train that stopped at all terminals. I caught the train - 'course it was going clockwise and I needed to go counter-clockwise, but it's a closed loop - and I arrived at my destination terminal in good time.

HOWEVER, now knowing that the airline had a terminal-to-terminal van/bus shuttle - unlike the train, no intermediate stops - I sent the airline's Customer Care people a short message via the airline Web site:

    Wife arriving from ROME/FCO with connecting flight to FLL.

    Believe FCO to JFK arrives at T-4; JFK-to FLL departs from T-2. What is BEST WAY for her to get from luggage recheck at/near T-4 to T-2? If (airline) shuttle, where are stops? TIA

Rather than provide an answer to what I thought was a simple question in 8th grade words, Customer Care ignores the question and responds

    Based on the information received, we are unable to locate your wife's reservation. Your assistance would be appreciated in providing additional information which would allow us to process your request.

    Please provide us with the 13 digit ticket number that begins with 006 or 012, dates of travel, flight number, city pairs, or the phone number listed on the reservation.

OK, maybe I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, but I fail to see how the flight-specific information was needed to answer what I still believe was a simple, straight-forward question: How to get from Point A to Point B.

Perhaps it is a time-of-day thing. The shuttle operates between, say, 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Still, Customer Care could could have responded with:

    A shuttle bus (van) operates between terminals between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.; all other times passengers may use the train that runs 24/7..

I responded to Customer Care's email with the requested information and asked them why it was necessary since the question was not flight dependent. Customer Care declined to respond.

I eventually documented my exchange with Customer Care and sent a paper letter to the airline's Customer Care(less) operation. Perhaps - perhaps - someone who can READ AND THINK will respond in time for me to advise my Spouse.

In another instance, I asked a company a two-part question:

  1. Where is the product made
  2. What is the warranty?

The reply, from the Advanced Technical Sales Manager told me where the product was manufactured, but failed to address the warranty issue.

A second email to the gentleman reminded him that my post was a two-part question and he owed me an answer for part 2. He replied "Lifetime warranty" - no apology. In the end I bought a competitor's product, also made overseas and also with a lifetime warranty. (Both companies have service centers in the U.S.)

Anyone who has visited this blog knows that I seem to have a running feud with customer support operations. I've railed against insurance companies (frequently, it seems), VoIP phone companies, and retailers.

There are a couple of bright notes : Julia J. of Wayfair, Inc. took care of a warranty issue the first time I contacted Wayfair. Bravo to Julia and to Wayfair for employing someone who can read and giving the people enough authority to do their job.

I know my penmanship's not what it used to be - I WAS proud of my handwriting - but I can't blame handwriting on my apparent inability to communicate with so many Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) across several business fields since my exchanges with them have been via a keyboard.

I work very hard to make myself understood. I avoid negatives (no, un-, not), rephrasing things in the positive. I sometimes list things "by the numbers" after alerting the reader that "This message has two questions."

On the other hand, I admit to providing only information I deem relevant to avoid making the CSR read more than absolutely necessary. My opinion of most CSRs' ability to read - Julia J. being an all too rare exception - is that second grade may be too high.

Perhaps most CSRs are told to follow the script and never deviate. If any box lacks a check, tell the person asking for help that all boxes must be checked if they expect service from Customer Service.

Why not use the telephone?

  1. I lack patience for 30-minute wait times
  2. I have a difficult time understanding non-U.S. English - and I lived overseas for awhile
  3. I am a curmudgeon.

Am I asking too much for Customer Care, Customer Support to actually DO THE JOB they are charged with doing?

Thursday, July 16, 2015


What the country needs
Is a .38 as long as a .357


I JUST BOUGHT a Taurus Model 605B2 .357 wheel gun (revolver).

.38 (caliber) ammunition and .357 (caliber) ammunition have the same diameter; in other words, the gun I bought will fire both .38 and .357 bullets.

So far, so good.

.38s are less expensive to buy than .357s. The .38's also have less recoil (kick). Together this makes the .38 the preferred cartridge for target shooting.

But there is a problem.


The .357 is longer than the .38. The reason the .357 is longer is so that people won't try to fire the more powerful .357 bullet in a revolver that was not made to withstand the .357's pressure.

According to a Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI) pressure table on the Hamdloads.Com web site, the pressures of the three cartridges are:

    38 Special 17,000
    38 Special +P 20,000
    357 Magnum 35,000

There was, once, a .38 Long Colt (.38 LC) with a case length of, according to Wikipedia of 1.031 inches/26.2 mm.

The case length of a .357 cartridge, again according to Wikipedia is 1.29 inches/33 mm.

By comparison, the case length of a .38 Special is 1.155 inches/29.3 mm. Wikipedia again is the source of the information.

The .38 LC was discontinued in 1909, apparently sans tears from the soldiers who tried to hit a target with it.

The Grey Arsenal site includes an article titled Fouled Cylinder Chambers From Using .38 In .357. The article gets into detail on the problem and what is needed to remove the residue left by the short cartridge.

The article's author comments that "Even if cleaned normally after shooting .38 Spl, you still may need to go a bit further to remove this fouling. You could use a slightly oversized brass brush (for instance, a .40 S&W brush in a .357 Cylinder) soaked in solvent and just have at it for a while. A serious while. It takes A LOT of effort to remove this fouling this way."

The bottom line: Since the .357 has been around for a l-o-n-g time - since 1934 - it would seem reasonable that someone would sell a .38 Special "Long" (as well as a "+P" version) for use in .357 magnum revolvers.

It would save a lot of elbow grease and dealing with small pieces of a gun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Neville Chamberlain - Part III

When is a deal
Not really a deal?


KING OBAMA IN HIS (lack of) wisdom, has created in a terrorist-controlled state a new nuclear power.

A power whose leaders instruct their subjects to shout "Death to America" while burning the U.S. flag.

Daring the legislature to act against his agreement, he promises to protect his gift to the ayatollahs by vetoing any Congressional attempts to kill or even modify the "compact."

MEANWHILE, some GOP presidential hopefuls, and perhaps a Democratic candidate as well, promise to cancel the agreement.

I don't know what impact that would have on Iran's ayatollahs, but it WOULD have a severely negative impact on America's already tarnished image as a trustworthy ally.

The Iran "deal" is as good as the one Hillary's husband made with North Korea. Both the Obama deal and the Clinton deal promised two things:

    One: That the North Koreans/Ayatollahs would give up their efforts to develop nuclear weapons

    Two: That their neighbors would be safe.

In return, the North Koreans/ayatollahs would receive valuable compensation.

Read about the Clinton surrender in a New York times article at

Both Clinton and Obama deserve the Neville Chamberlain award for Pollyannaism in the face of aggression Note 1. Chamberlain's failure to see reality followed Benjamin Disraeli who, in 1878, told the English following the Congress of Berlin: "I have returned from Germany with peace for our time." That reduction in hostilities lasted until the opening of World War I in 1914 - 36 years later.

So much for the "peace in/for our time" history lesson.

The U.S. has been known to ignore - not blatantly abrogate but simply ignore - agreements with other nations in the past. It also has had a number of chief executives who promised more than they delivered or delivered less than they claimed. Both parties have had less than sterling leadership in the White House and in Congress.

All of which leads others to take U.S. promises or threats with the proverbial grain of salt. China's Mao Zedong said, "In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger."

It is one thing to be a "paper tiger" but consistent. It is another to have an inconsistent foreign policy, even if that policy is severely flawed.

What message will the U.S. send to its allies and its foes if, upon taking office, the new president abrogates the agreement with Iran for no apparent reason?

I suspect based on the ayatollahs' past performance, that even before the current incumbent has vacated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue the agreement will be violated; the ayatollahs have repeatedly promised that inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities would be allowed, only to renege and renege again. (Yet, Obama is convinced once the ayatollahs get what they want - removal of only partially effective sanctions - there will be an Open Door policy for international inspection teams to enter and inspect any and all of the ayatollahs' nuclear operations.)

IF, as I predict, the ayatollahs renege on the agreement, then the next president will be well within his - or her - rights to implement the sanctions the Pollyanna President lifted.


Note 1: Both Disraeli and Chamberlain said their agreements with the Germans would bring "peace FOR our time."

    Chamberlain outside 10 Downing Street: My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

    Disraeli, on his return from the Congress of Berlin in 1878: "I have returned from Germany with peace for our time."

Monday, July 13, 2015


Battle flag not always
South Carolina's flag


WHILE I ADMIT MY initial reaction to the attack on South Carolina's "Stars and Bars" (Confederate States battle flag) was a knee jerk reaction, perhaps selecting the "Stars and Bars" was a knee jerk reaction of someone else a decade of so ago.

The CSA battle flag replaced a symbol associated with South Carolina almost since its founding. The symbol: A palm tree and crescent moon.

Even during the War for Southern Independence (a/k/a War of Northern Aggression or U.S. Civil War). The state flag STILL included the palm and moon. A selection of state flags, including South Carolina's through its history as a political entity, can be viewed at

EVEN WHEN THE BATTLE FLAG was flying over the state capitol, the palm tree and moon still were South Carolina's state symbol.

With the exception of motorcycle and specialty license plates, all modern South Carolina license plates included the palm and moon . . . or at least the palm.

Granted, the palm tree and moon are a relatively new addition to the license plates; as late as 1963 the plates were symbol-free.

The "Stars and Bars" when it served as the CSA's battle flag, did not represent racism, certainly not as some people - on all sides and of all colors - have made it to be today.

When Grey faced Blue, the flag represented independence from what Southerners considered the tyranny of the North; they had the ill-conceived notion that individual States had certain rights; that the Federal government was to assist the states in inter-state affairs, in dealings with foreign governments, and to maintain a national army and navy to defend the several states. In other words, the Federal government, the Southerners foolishly believed, was a constitutional government bound by the Constitution as ratified by the original colonies - states and commonwealths.

When the "Stars and Bars" is flown today it still may represent state and individual rights - free speech, right to keep firearms, state - not federal - speed limits, state - not federal - educational standards and funding.

The flag, unfortunately, has also - repeat, also - fallen into the hand of , and disrepute, of racists and bigots of all stripes.

But then, when a cross is burned by the KKK (or KKK wanna-bes) on someone's lawn, the cross becomes a symbol of racism and bigotry; perhaps it, too, should be banned.

The "Stars and Bars" is not the problem, anymore than a cross is the problem.

The problem is the people who misuse these symbols.

The symbols mean more than racism and bigotry and should not be consigned to the dump because a few disgrace these symbols.

South Carolina can dust off its old state flags, the ones with palm and crescent moon (although given the Islamist terrorists originating from countries having the crescent moon in their flags, perhaps the moon should be filled out) and let it represent the state above the capitol and other state buildings as it represents the state on South Carolina license plates.

Let the "Stars and Bars" and crosses be used properly; as political and religious symbols, not as racists' and bigots' symbols of hate.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


By Association


IT'S ALL OVER THE TV so it HAS to be true.


That the sandwich chain Subway "suspended" its association with longtime spokesman Jared Fogle because, as reported by Fox News, Fogle's house is being searched for evidence of child pornography, a search Subway admits "might be linked to the earlier arrest of someone who once worked for him."

The Fox story notes that Tuesday’s raid comes more than two months after the executive director of the Jared Foundation — Fogle’s organization that aspires to combat childhood obesity — was arrested in Indianapolis on federal child pornography charges.

Fogle has neither been charged nor arrested

Fox quoted a Subway spokesman: “We are shocked about the news and believe it (Tuesday’s search) is related to a prior investigation of a former Jared Foundation employee. We are very concerned and will be monitoring the situation closely. We don’t have any more details at this point.

New York tv Pix 11 reports that Earlier this year, the former director of the Jared Foundation, started by Fogle, Russell Taylor was arrested on suspicion of possessing and producing child pornography, FOX59 reports.

Investigators said a search of Taylor’s home turned up more than 500 videos with images of child pornography. In May, Taylor unsuccessfully tried to kill himself while in jail.

As youngsters we all hear the admonition that "Birds of a feather stick together" warning us of guilt by association.

Fogle MAY be guilty of something, but Subway is guilty of assigning guilt by association.

It may be good business to cancel all ads featuring Fogle, but to suspend the pitchman - when "suspend" is in many eyes means "fired" - before any charges are made seems a knee jerk reaction. When a cop or teacher or jock is "suspended" it usually is with pay.

I'm not suggested Fogle ought to be paid while he is "on the bench" - not hyping the sandwich firm - but Subway might have better handled this matter quietly; pulling or changing advertisements and cancelling his appearances on its behalf.

As it stands, it appears that Subway believes a person is guilty until proven innocent.

Is this the new American way?


Say anything you want
But make sure it's "PC"


"The Donald" (Trump) is upset because, as the The UK's Daily Mail reports, Francisco Sanchez, 45, - accused of gunning down Kathryn Steinle, 32, as she walked along Pier 14 with her father on Thursday evening - had already been deported five times - and was recently released from jail by officials who routinely refuse requests to hand over illegal immigrants.

The murder came as immigration officials revealed that Sanchez should have been sent to them when he was arrested four months ago, but was let go in accordance with San Francisco's 'sanctuary city' policy.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement had marked him as an 'enforcement priority' who should have been handed over immediately.

But San Francisco officials admitted that due to a soft policy on undocumented immigrants, they do not always comply with the requests - which in Sanchez's case left him out on the streets on the night of the murder.

The politically correct (PC) Republicans running against Trump say nothing; neither supporting nor debating Trump's position. The Democrat currently said to be leading that pack, sharply criticized Trump. At the same time, it's reported that The Donald has jumped to the #2 position of the GOP hopeful ranks.

MEANWHILE, IN SOUTH CAROLINA the state's senate overwhelmingly voted to get rid of the state's flag - the Confederate States battle flag - because one crazy made it into a racist rag. The state's lower house still must vote; some want to put the flag up for a vote; others say that will only drag things out.

UNFORTUNATELY Trump is right in that too many Mexicans who cross over into the U.S. ARE criminals of one type or another. Probably, despite his pontificating that all people working on his building projects are eligible to work here, there are more than a few "undocumented residents" on the work crews.

As Trump continues to be politically incorrect, those PC people who have business with Trump are, like rats, abandoning his ship. Never mind there are binding contracts; when a few liberals are offended, those around the truth-teller quickly, and blatantly, distance themselves from the pariah known as The Donald.

I hope he sues each for breach of contract and wins.

Apparently there is no corporation that can withstand attacks from the liberal establishment.

I know that many, probably most, Mexican-Americans are good people, and I know that most Mexican "undocumented residents" are in the U.S. for one reason only: economics. As the mantra of a recent presidential contest went: "It's the economy (stupid)."

The Mexicans stay in the U.S. because Americans employ them, usually doing work Americans, no matter how long out of work, refuse to do. Human nature; the same applies in Israel, where Arabs from Occupied Israel (a/k/a the Palestinian Authority areas) do the work the Israelis - no longer Zionists - are "too good" to perform. The PA Arabs, like the Mexicans, make much better money than they would if they stayed home. (In Israel most cross the border in the morning and return in the evening.)

Perhaps Trump, to be "PC," ALSO should be concerned not just with the Homeland (No) Security's Border Patrol but also scoff-law San Francisco and the Americans who employ illegals - and that means ALL illegals, regardless of their country of origin. (That the long-outdated immigration quotas need to be reviewed goes without saying.)

Meanwhile, if South Carolina wants to get rid of offensive symbols, let it banish the cross.

After all, burning crosses are a KKK trademark. Crosses also were held before the eyes of "heretics" by Torquemada and his coreligionists of the Spanish inquisition - which spread to most of the Catholic world.

The cross is offensive to American Indians who were forced to accept it while being forced to give up their heritage and beliefs.

The cross is offensive to Muslims who remember the Crusades.

The cross is offensive to indigenous Mexicans who were made slaves by the Spanish and who were slaughtered for wealth.

Someone said, on tv, that if you want to fly the CSA battle flag, do it in your own backyard.

If you want to worship at the cross, do it inside the churches.

In other words, consider all the ramifications before marching on the state house or condemning someone = even The Donald - for exercising his right to free speech. It might be STUPID and you might strongly disagree, but in America, that right is sacrosanct.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Bigotry & hate
Vs. Free speech
Vs. States rights
What's in a flag?


I CONFESS, I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN STATE'S RIGHTS; I think we have allowed Washington to supersede the States when it should have kept hands off. I will concede there are times the Feds ere right, but most often not.

But I also believe that some of the folks flaunting the Stars and Bars don't know anything about that flag or, in deed, for what the Confederacy stood.

The Stars and Bars was NOT the flag of the Confederate States of America (CSA); it was the CSA's common battle flag.

The CSA's last NATIONAL flag was far different.

Call it what you will, the War for Southern Impendence, the War Between the States, or the Civil War, the war was not about slavery - Lincoln didn't issue the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the CSA until late in the conflict and then only when the Federals' capitol was threatened.

Moreover, there were armed blacks serving in the CSA forces.

An aside: the term "red neck," applied to anyone whose social status is less than yours, refers to the sunburned necks of white farmers/planters who did their own field work.

In addition to blacks in CSA uniforms, a number of Cherokee Indians, remembering the Trail of Tears also served in the CSA's ranks. Interestingly, black soldiers of the CSA were paid the same as white soldiers, unlike the Federals that paid their black soldiers less than whites.

Granted, there ARE stupid people who assume the Stars and Bars equates to racism - both some of the whites who flaunt the flag at anti-anything demonstrations, and blacks who think anything recalling the CSA is racist.

Frankly, this scrivener thinks flying the CSA battle flag when the issue is either state's rights or freedom of speech is wrong; the proper flag would be the CSA national flag. Ok, the battle is to restore state's rights and to preserve free speech, but since the battle flag is found obnoxious - or worse - by some, let the emblem be the national flag and what it represented.

I am NOT suggesting that "the South will rise again," but that it behooves the government in Washington to remember WHY the CSA was formed - and that was NOT about slavery.

Neither the national flag nor the battle flag represented slavery anymore than the "Betsy Ross" flag of 1776 when ALL the colonies depended on the labor of slaves and indentured servants)

Meanwhile, in a knee-jerk reaction, a silly tv show - the Dukes of Hazard has been pulled because the stars' Dodge Charger has a CSA battle flag on its top. I'm surprised it wasn't cancelled for making women - in the form of "Daisy Duke" (Catherine Bach) - sex objects.

Even though the KKK started off as an organization to counter carpetbaggers who came to the post-war south to swindle the populace, it quickly turned racist and for that I find it offensive; down there with neo-nazis, skin heads, and similar bottom feeders.

I find it interesting that after many blacks had migrated north - either escaping slavery in the south or to find work following the war - there has been a very large immigration of northern blacks to the traditionally southern states.

Most people - all races - who know their history don't object to the FLAG as much as the people who use it as an excuse for stupid, dangerous behavior.

Hauling down the CSA battle flag won't change idiots' mentality; they'll simply find another symbol to represent their hate and ignorance.

Maybe we should do away withi the cross the Klan uses as a symbol. That is as logical as hauling down the battle flag.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Is reading
A lost art?


WHEN I WAS CREATING technical manuals for the Navy, I was told that I should write to a fifth grade level.

Keep It Simple (Stupid) - writing to the KISS principle.

Now, trying to communicate with AvMed customer service representatives I am discovering that even fifth grade may be too advanced.

AvMed, as probably most insurance providers, has different co-pays for different providers and different venues.

My plan, with which I am generally satisfied (providing POTUS doesn't chop any more out of the allegedly protected Medicare budget) has two levels of co-pay for specialists: $10 and $30. Before POTUS messed with Medicare it was $5 and $25.

POTUS, for the acronym-innocent, stands for President Of The United States.

I needed an appointment with a specialist, but I had forgotten the co-pay rates. I'm sure the provider would have told me, but like the Coast Guard and Boy Scouts, I wanted to "be prepared."

I sentr my question -"What are specialist copays?" - to customer service, a/k/a Member Services. I also sent an email to the person who is supposed to be my personal contact with AvMed.

My personal contact was Out Of Office (OOO). Apparently no one covers for her when she's away on vacation, sick leave, or for whatever reason. I'm sure her absence was justified. As a risk management practitioner and former customer service manager, I know that is NOT how to run a customer service organization; someone must cover for absent personnel..

Member Services responded telling me I needed to inform it of the provider's name in order for Member Services to give me an answer to my query which, I remind you, was simply "What are the two co-payment levels?"

I know that English comprehension is not (effectively) taught in our schools.

Grammar? Forget it.

I'll admit I'm a slave to spell check; knowing my limitations I run spell check frequently as I compile my thoughts and always after I make a change - those gremlins always manage to sneak in when a minor change is made.

But - I thought - I asked a very simple, straight question: What are the AvMed specialist co-pays?

With the exception of one year, I have been with AvMed since 2010. The benefits provided by AvMed have been OK - it did cancel the PCP that saved my life, something I still resent, but it came through for me when I needed AAA surgery. (As with most Medicare dental plans, AvMed's plans - two different sub-insurers - leaves a lot to be desired.)

I spent a year with Humana which, thanks to PCP capitation and some fresh off the boat PCPs, caused me to come running back to AvMed. Humana's customer service is no better than AvMed's; perhaps that's because once a person signs up for a plan, the person is "stuck" with that provider for a calendar year. Given a captive client, why bother?

I don't mind having to get referrals from my PCP - he knows who is good and who is not quite so good. I also like knowing my complete medical history is in one place. My current PCP may not be the diagnostician my previous AvMed PCP was, but, like my other AvMed PCP, he listens and he gets me referred to specialists when we - he and I - think it necessary.

AvMed is a pretty good insurance provider - just don't expect any service form Member Services.

Friday, July 3, 2015


Same sex


CAVEAT: I BELIEVE SAME-SEX couples should have all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of heterosexual couples.

My problem is calling the same-sex arrangement a marriage.

Let the governments muck about in people's personal lives; we surrendered that eons ago and we'll never again see individual rights trump what government has taken.

Same goes for state's rights.

BUT, FOR BETTER OR WORSE, we are at the mercy of the government and "political correctness."

Was "The Donald" (Trump) out of line with his comments about Mexico's government? No. Was he politically INcorrect - absolutely. Freedom of speech is passé' in America. Do I agree with Mr. Trump? Not entirely.

The court decisions that force businesses to cater to any class of people hark back to the days of Jim Crow and segregation - apartheid, if you are "hip "and "live in the now." The beginning of the end for merchant freedom started along bus and train lines. Places where passengers had no choice of places to eat and sleep. I agree that restaurants and lodges along the way had to be open to one and all.

But I question if a flower shop in a Washington (State) community with multiple flower shops really needed to be forced to sell flowers for a same-sex "wedding."

But I digress.

For my two cents - the U.S. does not have "pennies, " by the way - I would prefer to call the state's sanction of homosexual commitments anything BUT "marriage." I really don't care WHAT word is used in lieu of "marriage."

Vinculum matrimonii has a high-tone ring to it; not easy to say, but it might do.

Coverture might be OK for "gay" (how did homosexuals become "gay"?) couples, but it's doubtful lesbian couples would find it suitable.

Conjugal union works well, as does Connubial union


There is something sacred about marriage - if only the word.

While we - or at least I - are looking for a word other than "marriage" to denote a legally binding and sanctioned by the government (if not some organization with a religious tax exempt status), perhaps we - or I - should look for alternative words for "divorce" and the phrase "dissolution of marriage" which seems less confrontational than "divorce."

Maybe - and this will make forms printers happy - we should reword the question: "Any previous marriages" on the license form and replace it with "Any previous government sanctioned liaisons". Seems to me that would cover whatever our courts deem appropriate. (I don't know of any court, at least in the U.S., that sanctions connubial relations between a human and a non-human - animate or not - although I have heard of such "relationships.")

If we had accepted the fact that not everyone was the same as everyone else and provided equal rights to same-sex couples perhaps - just perhaps - this whole marriage discussion would not have been necessary. Between busy-bodies and blue noses, the Supremes have issued a fiat from on high that same-sex couples may be legally joined as couples; pity the justices failed to find a suitable, and polite, word for the arrangement.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Chins & Cuba
Nixon & Obama



OBAMA OPENS RELATIONS with the Castros of Cuba and the Cubans in America aren't happy.

Some politicians, notably Miami-raised U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, are making this Obama move a major part of their appeal - at least to the Cubans in South Florida.

Liberal folly to re-establish diplomatic relations with a "Communist" country only 90 miles from Key West, Florida, America's southernmost point?

Or good sense following in a Conservative politician's lead?


U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China was an important step in formally normalizing relations between the United States (U.S.) and the People's (PRC). It marked the first time a U.S. president had visited the PRC, which at that time considered the U.S. one of its foes, and the visit ended 25 years of separation between the two sides. (Wikipedia: 1972 Nixon visit to China)

The distance between Anchorage Alaska and China is less than 700 miles, a mere 510 miles FARTHER than the distance between Key West and Cuba.

The arch-Conservative Nixon achieved peace with radical Communist China DESPITE China's involvement in the Korean "Policing" action - a condition that remains unresolved to today and one that keeps U.S. troops far from home, protecting a people that, during the fighting, were less than dependable allies.

Arch-Conservative Nixon also signed the peace agreement with the China-leaning Communist government of Vietnam, a country that a Liberal Democrat, JFK, thoroughly embroiled this nation while ignoring the ignoble expulsion of the French early in the century. (Dwight D. Eisenhower got the U.S. involved militarily with small Military Advisory Groups [MAGs]; JFK committed thousands of U.S. troops, largely in piecemeal increments.)

Nixon, of course, was the arch-villain of the liberals who now are open to détente and full diplomatic relations with the U.S.' nearby neighbor to the south while those claiming to be Conservatives rail against the compact.


A little Cuban history

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Cuban loyalty began to change as a result of Creole rivalry with Spaniards for the governing of the island, increased Spanish despotism and taxation, and the growth of Cuban nationalism. These developments combined to produce a prolonged and bloody war, the Ten Years’ War against Spain (1868–78), but it failed to win independence for Cuba. At the outset of the second independence war (1895–98), Cuban independence leader José Martí was killed. As a result of increasingly strained relations between Spain and the United States, the Americans entered the conflict in 1898 during the administration of President William McKinley. Already concerned about its economic interests on the island and its strategic interest in a future Panama Canal, the United States was aroused by an alarmist “yellow” press after the USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor on February 15 as the result of an explosion of undetermined origin. In December 1898, with the Treaty of Paris, the United States emerged as the victorious power in the Spanish-American War, thereby ensuring the expulsion of Spain and U.S. tutelage over Cuban affairs.

On May 20, 1902, after almost five years of U.S. military occupation, Cuba launched into nationhood with fewer problems than most Latin American nations. Prosperity increased during the early years. Militarism seemed curtailed. Social tensions were not profound. Yet corruption, violence, and political irresponsibility grew. Invoking the 1901 Platt Amendment, which was named after Senator Orville H. Platt and stipulated the right of the United States to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs and to lease an area for a naval base in Cuba, the United States intervened militarily in Cuba in 1906–9, 1917, and 1921. U.S. economic involvement also weakened the growth of Cuba as a nation and made the island more dependent on its northern neighbor.

The 1930s saw a major attempt at revolution. Prompted by the cruel dictatorship of Gerardo Machado y Morales (president, 1925–33), the economic hardships of the world depression, and the growing control of their economy by Spaniards and North Americans, a group of Cubans led by students and intellectuals sought radical reforms and a profound transformation of Cuban society. Following several small army revolts, Machado was forced to resign and flee the country on August 12, 1933. Sergeant Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, unhappy with proposed reductions of pay and restrictions of promotions, joined forces with the militant students on September 4 and overthrew the U.S.-backed regime of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (the younger). By making the military part of the government and allowing Batista to emerge as self-appointed chief of the armed forces, the Sergeants’ Revolt marked a turning point in Cuba’s history. On January 14, 1934, Army Chief Batista also brought to an end the short-lived provisional presidency of Ramón Grau San Martín (president, 1933–34) by forcing him to resign. Although the reformers attained power five months later and Machado’s overthrow was supposed to mark the beginning of an era of reform, their revolution failed. Batista (president, 1940–44; dictator, 1952–59) and the military emerged as the arbiters of Cuba’s politics, first through de facto ruling and finally with the election of Batista to the presidency in 1940.

    An aside: Cuba had agreed to accept Jews escaping from the nazis on the SS St. Louis, but on arrival in Cuba the Jews were prevented from disembarking, despite the fact they had visas. Dr. Federico Laredo Brú was Cuba's president when the SS St. Louis attempted to land in 1939, Visas to land in Cuba were issued by Manuel Benite, sans Bru's authority, which, in part, led to the refugee's being refused entry. The Jews also were denied permission to disembark at the U.S. port, condemning them to death at the hands of the Germans.

The end of the early Batista era during World War II was followed by an era of democratic government, respect for human rights, and accelerated prosperity under the inheritors of the 1933 revolution—Grau San Martín (president, 1944–48) and Carlos Prío Socarrás (president, 1948–52). Yet political violence and corruption increased. Many saw these administrations of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Cubano—PRC), more commonly known as the Authentic Party (Partido Auténtico), as having failed to live up to the ideals of the revolution. Others still supported the Auténticos and hoped for new leadership that could correct the vices of the past. A few conspired to take power by force.

Batista’s coup d’état on March 10, 1952, had a profound effect on Cuban society, leading to doubts about the ability of the Cubans to govern themselves. It also began a brutal right-wing dictatorship that resulted in the polarization of society, civil war, the overthrow of Batista, and the destruction of the military and most other Cuban institutions. Fidel Castro Ruz, a charismatic, anti-U.S. revolutionary, seized power on January 1, 1959, following his successful revolt against the U.S.-backed Batista government. As the Castro regime expropriated U.S. properties and investments and began, officially, on April 16, 1961, to convert Cuba into a one-party communist system, relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly. The United States imposed an embargo on Cuba on October 19,1960, and broke diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961, in response to Castro’s expropriations without compensation and other provocations, such as arrests of U.S. citizens. The failure of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)–sponsored invasion by Cuban exiles in April 1961 (the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion) allowed the Castro regime to destroy the entire Cuban underground and to emerge strengthened and consolidated, basking in the huge propaganda value of having defeated the “Yankees.”

THERE WAS A TIME when the U.S. was a major economic force in Cuba, being the primary purchaser of sugar and tobacco products. (JFK, according to the UK's Daily Mail had a cache of Cuban cigars laid in just before he declared an embargo on the items.)

Ernest Hemingway and U.S. gangsters spent time in Cuba as did the average American who wanted to visit an affordable - and warm - foreign land.

Having grown up in South Florida listening to many ex-pat Cubans claim that if they could they would go back, it will be interesting to see just how many of the Cuban community in South Florida will indeed go back. Will English once again become Miami's first language?

Whether the Cuban guests return to their island or not, the 50-year snub of a neighbor that, of itself, never threatened the U.S. , should have ended when Nixon made a pact with China's Cho, or at least when Nixon brought the Vietnam conflict to an end.

Enough is enough, and 50 years is too much.

I am not a fan of Obama, but this time he got it right.