In Commemoration of Don Cooks

Brian Hamilton from The Union wrote an excellent article dedicated to Don Cooks.

Find it here:


Final Farewell

Donald Cooks passed away in his home on October 7, 2013. He was 90 years old.  He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Opal Cooks, and his four children – Michael Cooks, Vicki Mckinnis, Luanne Clague and Jill Hill – and nine grandchildren.

Don was born in 1923 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and grew up during the Great Depression. His father, Victor Cooks, was a labor organizer and worked towards establishing progressive measures for the poor and the middle class. Both his father and the historical context of his childhood had a profound influence on Don’s life. In 1958, Don moved to California to begin his teaching career. He worked directly with the poor living in the projects in Pittsburgh, and later went into upper-level administration for the final years of his career. Upon retirement in 1978 he moved to Nevada City.

During his retirement years he volunteered for the Senior Citizen Center transporting kidney dialysis patients to Sacramento, delivering meals on wheels, establishing the free income tax service for the senior citizens, and volunteering for Hospice by visiting nursing home patients with his therapy dog, Molly.

He was an iconoclastic writer and contributed regularly to the editorial section of the Nevada Union newspaper. Don also started a personal blog covering topics such as politics, history, inequality, and war. His writing-style was a mix of truth and satire. Don’s goal was to provoke thought and give a voice to the destitute and oppressed.

Don’s other hobbies included golf – a pastime he and Opal shared, camping, and traveling. He participated in agility and obedience training with his dog, Molly, and had her perform several times at the county fair as well as in nursing homes and schools. He was a dedicated husband and father.

A family memorial is planned for the spring. He was aided by Hospice in his final months, and they were a great help to his family.

Haste Makes Waste

                                                                        Haste Makes Waste  by A C                            pic

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”– ( Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates speaking to cadets at West Point)

 Although over 60 percent of the American public oppose intervening in the civil war in Syria, President Obama has received a lot of pressure and criticism for not taking an aggressive position on the issue. Proponents for intervention most commonly cite terrorism prevention as the central reason to get involved. Some supporters also see the state of Syria as a humanitarian concern.

 The problem with this advocacy is that it assumes this is both a black-and-white issue and that the rebels are wearing the white hat while President Bashar al-Assad is wearing the black hat, which is something President Obama realizes. He had previously stated that the use of chemical weapons was a red line, but hasn’t taken action after reports of chemical weapons. His reasoning is that the United States doesn’t yet know “how they were used, when they were used, who used them,” and further stated: “When I am making decisions about American national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapons use, I have to make sure I have the facts.” 

 In a recent report, Carla Del Ponte, the veteran war crimes prosecutor and a commissioner of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria said that the Syrian rebels had likely used the nerve agent sarin. She explained, “Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.” And Del Ponte later added, “This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.” 

 One of the most prominent Syrian opposition groups is al-Nusra Front. According to the U.S. State Department, al-Nusra Front is a cover name for the division of al Qaeda in Iraq, which has been operating in both Iraq and Syria. Of all of the al Qaeda groups, al Qaeda in Iraq is the only one to have a history of using chemical weapons.

 There have also been multiple reports of President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons. During his regime, the current Syrian leader has been accused of human rights violations, specifically of the secret police’s treatment of people who have spoken against the government and political opponents. A U.N. report stated: “Security agencies continued to systematically arrest wounded patients in state hospitals and to interrogate them, often using torture, about their supposed participation in opposition demonstrations or armed activities.”

 It must also not be ignored that Syria is a religious country, and there are a mix of religious sects involved in this conflict. Al-Assad’s regime is Sh’ia, the most dominant of the rebels are Salafi, and the vast majority of Syria is Sunni. Interestingly, long before the civil war began, the al-Assad regime openly opposed Salafi ideology while building ties with Sunni groups and, in response, the Salafis had spent years organizing its current leading opposition.

 The United States’ past military involvement in the Middle East has not been ultimately fruitful, as Iraq has not become the peaceful democracy that the past administration sold to the public. The 2003 American invasion sparked the death of Iraq as a cohesive nation, and present day Iraq is devastated with sectarian infighting. In just the month of April this year, the U.N. Assistance of Mission for Iraq said 595 civilians and 117 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed by acts of terrorism or general violence. Another 1,633 combined were wounded. The mission was not accomplished.

 I think it would be wise to follow former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gate’s advice and not get militarily involved in Syria to try to solve this complicated problem. With the not long past memory of Iraq, it seems rather presumptuous to even assume that getting our military involved would be ultimately beneficial for the Syrian civilians. The war hawks have continually brought up the current death toll of 70,000 in Syria to prompt our involvement, but I wonder how many more deaths the United States would add to that number if our military also got involved in the violence. In Iraq, the American invasion resulted in over 100,000 deaths and in Afghanistan around 20,000 deaths have been recorded. It would be best to handle this issue carefully, and President Obama has acted accordingly. The United States and Russia plan to organize an international conference in Geneva to encourage peace talks between President Bashar al-Assad rebels.          

S$yria in tub

EDITORS COMMENT: Angela’s analysis could have saved many lives and money if our decision makers had taken the time and been students of history; thinking before rushing into military action. This is a characteristic of both political parties.  The public can easily be brought along by providing a bad guy aided by an anxious press interested in another source of news. One can analyze the results of our past military actions using cost- benefit analysis.

My Mom

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

                                                                                      Vicki Sue Mc Kinnis                   563346_10151931078710137_1427300161_n  

  Much is being said about equal rights for women in the workplace. I support this. However, I hope our society will not create an environment where two incomes are required to support a family.  My mother chose to be a homemaker, and our family was blessed by it. 

Marie Hafen said, “There is no career more meaningful, no calling more divine, than being a person who truly makes a home in the sense of creating and maintaining an environment of human warmth, intellectual stimulation and spiritual strength–someone who sees the wellspring of personal meaning that lie beyond a first glance at a diaper, a frying pan, and a worn tennis shoe.”

 During my first year of marriage, my Dad told me that he believed that he and Mom each had important roles in the family. He was the provider and Mom the homemaker. He said that no amount of money could compensate for contributions Mom made to the family as a homemaker. Over the years I have come to see the wisdom of his advice. 

 Each morning Mom entered our rooms singing to invite us to cheerfully greet the day. While we prepared to leave the home, Mom was making a hot breakfast that we all ate together around the table. Our home was modest, but clean and orderly. When we came home from school Mom was sitting at the table ready to hear about our day while we ate our “after school snack.” We took for granted that she was (and still is) intensely interested in our accomplishments and struggles. After we children had our time to “decompress,” Dad came home and they chatted with hor d’oeuvres. Rather than having two tired parents coming in at the end of the day, Mom created a peaceful refuge from the world. The evening meal was thoughtfully prepared and was a time for conversation and laughter.  We had a regular bed time, and fell asleep to the sounds of our parents popping popcorn and enjoying their evening. 

 Dad insists that the money saved through Mom’s creative homemaking more than made up for money she could have earned outside of the home.  Our lunches were packed, we picked out the fabric for the clothes Mom sewed, we worked together in the garden and preserved foods. Yes, when we traveled we camped, and our big adventure was the out-door-movies with a bag of popcorn; but we never felt that we went without. In fact, we felt bad for our neighbors because their mother worked outside of the home.  When we came home from school we played with our Mom but they had to go to the babysitter. Yes, we made our doll houses out of scrap fabric and shoe boxes and Mom helped us sew our Barbie clothes, while they had the “store bought” Barbie-Houses and clothes, but we had the companionship of our Mom while they didn’t see their Mom until the day was far spent. We witnessed her acts of compassionate service to people in our community and were aware that she took time for activities that interested her. I wish I had space here to list the gifts of time and service Mom gave us to enrich our lives, teach us how to live happily, and give us a feeling of being cherished. 

 When our first child was a year old, I was offered a job in an attorney’s office. I accepted and took my son to a home day care. I spent the day amid the leather bound books, taking calls, interacting with professionals and enjoying lunch at a restaurant. However, when I picked up my son, the look of betrayal in his eyes ended that career plan.  No, I realized that no work outside of the home was more important than being a part of his day. I was tuned into when he needed a walk, when it was time for stories and snacks, when it was time to be wrapped tightly in a blanket and lulled off to sleep with a song in the rocking chair. Building high towers and knocking them down, looking into each other’s eyes and laughing-nothing the world offered could compare. The time savored as a homemaker with each of our children has been precious beyond any price. 

   I don’t  imagine I can compare myself with my Mother, but her example of setting aside  a career outside of the home to magnify the role of homemaker and mother of four has inspired me and my siblings. I hope that when young girls are thinking of possible careers, they don’t overlook the role of homemaker.

    I close with a thought from Neal A. Maxwell: “When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries had made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing…the act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim.” 

 Editors Note: Vicki Sue is the eldest of my three daughters and dad day 01while visiting from Idaho and consented to write a blog while I’m still tied down with physical problems. My oldest is a boy Michael.

I can vouch for Vicki.s description of her mother as I had the pleasure of living  for 64 years with her and could add much more about her as a mother and wife.  




New Age MC Carthyism

Mc Cain’s Flavor of New Age McCarthyism

Bye A C

Susan Rice should have known better, and if she didn’t know better, she’s not qualified. I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States Secretary of State.”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), to Fox News on the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Since becoming a politician, McCain has described Teddy Roosevelt as being one of his heroes to the press. And while Roosevelt’s love of war does coincide with McCain’s longing for military action as the first line of defense, Joe McCarthy is the closest kindred spirit McCain has in his political career.

McCarthy, like McCain, was a war veteran, which he touted in his political campaign to become a United States Senator – the farthest up the political ladder he went in his career, like McCain. McCarthy also had an arguably questionable moral history prior to becoming a politician. Before enlisting in World War II, he was an attorney who gambled on the side. But it was his judicial career that was especially known to be controversial. Judge McCarthy had a reputation for speeding up hearings, and offered quick divorces to politicians he knew personally in the political party he favored. He was an alcoholic throughout his adult life, and it is believed that his alcoholism attributed to his death from acute hepatitis.

But the most pertinent similarity that these two men share is their strong desire for profound influence over the country and their ability to use the fears of the time as leverage to realize this goal. The fear of McCarthy’s day was known as the Red Scare, where Americans were afraid of Communism during the Cold War with the Soviet Union in the late 1940’s. The public was deeply concerned that there were Soviet spies that had infiltrated the United States. McCarthy self-appointed himself as the head hunter of Communist defectors, regardless of whether or not he had sufficient proof, McCarthy successfully ruined the lives and careers of high-ranking U.S. officials, government employees, writers, actors and other American citizens.    

McCain suffered a bitter defeat in 2008, which is clear considering he has chosen to oppose all of the current president’s proposed legislation. But before completely losing his voice among the public amidst his defeat, he realized, as other politicians also have, that today the public is afraid of terrorism. And the best way for him to hold power is to talk to the press to target his opponents in hopes of dousing their political careers as unqualified protectors against terrorism.

 While serving as McCain’s opponent’s senior foreign-policy advisor in the 2008 presidential campaign, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice criticized McCain as being “dangerous” and “reckless.” Later, in 2012, after she relayed the talking points given to her by the CIA about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi to the press, McCain successfully removed her from the running for Secretary of State by repeatedly going to the press reporting that she was unqualified and even “not very bright” for not stating that it was a terrorist attack even though the CIA had not given her that information at the time.

Ironically, when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice passed along incorrect intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, McCain and Graham responded to any criticism stating, “To attack her personally is way out of line.” Also interesting is that while McCain finds a Rhodes Scholar and Oxford alumnus who served under the Clinton administration and later as New Age Mc Cartyismthe U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations unqualified for mccain_susanricepalinSecretary of State, McCain supported that Sarah Palin, an Alaskan governor who attended six universities before obtaining her bachelor’s degree with a history as a sportscaster, was qualified to be vice president of the United States. I suppose she won the Miss Congeniality award in the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant.

McCain strongly opposed Chuck Hagel, the current president’s nominee for secretary of defense. Hagel was a fellow Vietnam War veteran who served alongside his brother. Once after helping his wounded brother from an explosion he had a resolution, which he describes, “I remember sitting on that track, another track, waiting for the dust-off [helicopter] to come and medical evacuation, and thinking to myself, you know, if I ever get out of all of this, I am going to do everything I can to assure that war is the last resort that we, a nation, aren’t called upon to settle a dispute it unless it’s a last resort.

Hagel initially supported the Iraq War, but opposed the surge in 2007. McCain admittedly held this against him and rallied support to stall Hagel’s acceptance. Unfortunately for McCain’s track record, he failed to ruin Hagel’s chances at being sworn in, but he didn’t go down without making full-hearted attempts at soiling his reputation. He was the most vocal United States Senator throughout the process.

Nonetheless, a significant difference between McCarthy and McCain is that, in time, the Senate began to censor McCarthy. Enough of his antics had been exposed and his fellow politicians were tired of hearing what he had to say. But although McCain has said some outrageous comments that are potentially damaging to the reputation of his party, he is both allowed and encouraged to continue to speak.

“I do not believe that Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of defense.”

– Senator John McCain (R-AZ), to CNN’s “State of the Union” show.

If a politician becomes a constant critic of a President and his appointments he must be able to expose and defend his own actions.

Creation of a War Hero

The War Hero

By A C  

“I don’t know if it’s either a cover-up or the worst kind of incompetence, which doesn’t qualify the president as commander in chief.”

– Senator John McCain (R-AZ), to Face the Nation on his former opponent in the 2008 presidential election and the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

While John McCain’s hopes may not have been realized in his political career, he must be noted for his persistence. It is obvious that there is nothing he wants more than power and influence over the American people. Most former presidential nominees fade into the background following their defeat, and often follow other pursuits. But McCain fully intends to govern, regardless of whether or not the American people elected him as commander-in-chief.

Becoming the present-day Moses was so important to McCain that he created central titles in his campaign that won the hearts of millions in his party and continue to follow him positively. Namely, the title of “war hero.” mccain_pow

His journey to proclaiming this title began at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Young McCain started with a clear advantage, as the son of John S. “Junior” McCain and grandson of John S. “Senior” McCain, who were both famous four-star Admirals in the U.S. Navy. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class in 1958 and was well known for organizing drinking parties among his peers. Nonetheless, he was granted a slot to be trained navy pilot.

His very first plane crash was on March 12, 1960 during his advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. McCain explained: “The engine quit while I was practicing landings… I barely managed to get the canopy open and swim to the surface.” But, according to a Naval Aviation Safety Center report, “In the opinion of the board, the pilot’s preoccupation in the cockpit … coupled with the use of a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn were the primary causes of this accident.”

Around December 1961, McCain, this time admittedly, continued to struggle. The now-Senator described the incident: “There were occasional setbacks in my efforts to round out my Navy profile. My reputation was certainly not enhanced when I knocked down some power lines while flying too low over southern Spain. My daredevil clowning had cut off electricity to a great many Spanish homes and created a small international incident.” McCain was promoted to full lieutenant in June 1, 1962.

After marrying his first wife, former model Carol Shepp, McCain had his second crash in 1965 in a situation where an L.A. Times report confirmed, “a close examination of the engine found ‘no discrepancies which would have caused or contributed to engine failure or malfunction.’” A little over a year later, he was granted a promotion. This career eventually led him to Vietnam, where he was famously known as a POW who nearly gave his life for his country.

In congruence with the history of his training, McCain’s plane crashed on his 23rd mission in Vietnam in 1967. He was badly injured when he ejected from his plane, as he broke both his arms and one leg. A mostly unconscious McCain fell into a lake, where a Vietnamese peasant, Mai Van On, and a friend lifted him out from his parachute, rolled him onto a bamboo log and brought him towards the shore. As they got closer to the bank, a group of men and some women jumped in to help haul McCain out of the water. Mr. On saved the fallen pilot again when he warded off angry villagers on shore. Although McCain mentioned that he was dragged out of the lake by a group of Hanoians and he reunited with Mr. On in 1996, he never mentioned him in his autobiography. Later, he was captured and brought to Hanoi Hilton prison camp.

After three or four days of torture and imprisonment, McCain promised to surrender military information if he was taken to the hospital. Upon realizing that McCain’s father was of such high military rank, he became known as “the crown prince” among the North Vietnamese and was treated as a special prisoner, who was given exclusive medical treatment from a Soviet physician. About two weeks following his admittance to the hospital, Hanoi’s press released specific military information quoting the pilot, such as “the name of the aircraft carrier on which he was based, numbers of U.S. pilots that had been lost, the number of aircraft in his flight, information about location of rescue ships and the order of which his attack was supposed to take place” (Sampley).

McCain admitted that he violated the Code of Conduct, but that it was only after being brutally tortured by the North Vietnamese. He recounted the aftermath, asserting that he was so distressed over having done this that he tried to commit suicide.

 Over a period of three years, the U.S. pilot made radio broadcasts for the North Vietnamese, and was interviewed by General Vo Nguyen Giap – North Vietnam’s national hero – during one of these broadcasts, including at least one other general. On June 4, 1969 a U.S. story recovered one of his broadcasts where he confessed to bombing civilians and praised the medical treatment he received by the North Vietnamese. These broadcasts were used as propaganda to rally communist support in South Vietnam. 

When McCain returned to the United States, he and his wife, who had been in an automobile accident, entered physical therapy together. McCain met his second wife, Cindy Hensley in 1979 and divorced Shepp in 1980. When asked about the affair and divorce, Shepp said, “The breakup of our marriage was not caused by my accident or Vietnam or any of those things. I don’t know that it might not have happened if John had never been gone. I attribute it more to John turning forty and wanting to be twenty-five again than I do to anything else.”

McCain retired from the Navy on April 1, 1981 as a captain and moved to Arizona where he worked for his new father-in-law’s Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship. Soon after he decided to enter the realm of politics, where he worked as hard as he could to bring all of the many life lessons that he learned in his military career to leadership in one of the most powerful countries in the world. 

My next blog will examine the efforts of Mc Cain’s and Lindsey Graham’s campaign to criticize every move of the President.

Note of the Editor: I’ve not been able to write again as had to make another trip to the hospital. My grand daughter Angela , a JR. at Columbia University, has come to my rescue and will write until I’m up to writing again.

I’m happy to have Angela writing as she is a skilled writer and most blogs need the views of the youth.        

Politics as Usual (Phew)


Your Tax $ at Work

I watched the Hillary Clinton’s inquisition to check on any maturity growth of our congress after the election, but was again disappointed. I was under the illusion that a hearing by the Foreign Relation Committee, which should be made up of the smartest members representing us, there would be some depth to the hearings, but alas the public was treated to the same old political jousting.

The probe into the reasons for the attack in Benghazi began with the chairman giving a ten minute political speech, heaping praise on Hillary, a member of his party. This was followed with each member following suit; her party immortalizing her for her work as Secretary of State and the opposition party throwing her under the bus.

None of the questioning reached the depth of the real reasons we were involved in Libya’s civil war or other parts of terrorist countries. The real reasons for the attack may have been that members of the Muslim community weren’t interested in our occupation of their communities or our killing thousands of their religious faith in unnecessary wars.

One could say that the questioning of Hillary was funny, but to me it was sad to witness those in charge of foreign affairs more interested in politics than correcting any deficiencies in our security in Libya. Not going into the many shallow statements made in the inquiry, Rand Paul’s questioning was the highlight of the day when he seriously said that if he was president he would fire her. He also among other quips compared the attack at Benghazi with the 9-11 bombing of the twin towers.

Rand is a fanatical Libertarian and although I’m in agreement with many of their policies, like liberals or conservatives’ one must use common sense in supporting their beliefs. For those not familiar with Libertarians; generally speaking their policy is that a person has the liberty to do anything they please as long as it doesn’t harm someone else. Many of their beliefs are similar to those of a 1600’s philosopher, John Locke. Jefferson used many of his aphorisms in writing the Constitution. In a C-Span interview Rand admitted that under the Civil Rights Law he believed that business owners still weren’t obligated to serve minorities.

If you are interested in more of the stupid actions of a former constitutional professor by Mc Cain who finished in the bottom 5 of Mc Cain and Lindseythe graduating class at the Naval Academy and his puppet with the Southern drawl, keep tuned into Mc Cain and Graham. Since they lost the 2008 election they have monitored the President’s lack of knowledge and kept the public aware of their mistake in the last election.

Threatening to block his cabinet appointments is their latest ploy. Creating a frenzy over Benghazi resulting in this political waste of time is an example of why we have a do nothing congress. This committee has many other important issues to sweep under the rug.

This must have been a frustrating experience for Hillary being interrogated by a group of men with IQ’s 20 to 30 points below hers.