How do Republicans “Think?”

I received, a letter in the mail, (not personal) from Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Minority leader in the US House.

He prefaced the letter with this: “The Democrats are trying to use the Chinese coronavirus as a pathetic excuse to force their socialist agenda on the American people. Since seizing power (!) the Socialist Democrats have dragged the American people through the most partisan and least credible impeachment in American history.”

Enclosed was also a “survey” of presumably Republican voters, (I don’t know how he got my name and address, since I only voted for one Republican in my life, long ago: Jake Javits) and of course, at the end there was a suggestion for how much to donate—up to $1000.

His reason for the survey: “If we don’t act fast and unite behind President Trump’s plans to rebuild the economy and ensure for a fair election…in a fair fight against the Do-Nothing Democrats, the freedoms that you and I enjoy will be gone forever.”

What plans? might be a legitimate question. Trump has no platform, no published or stated agenda, aside for his strident Law and Order message.

As I read the letter and answered the survey (I don’t think I’ll send it), I kept on thinking: does Congressman McCarthy live on the same planet? Does he really, really believe these stories? He represents a district (Cal 23rd) that is predominantly agricultural, but is also a major oil producer, and a producer of renewable energy, but it also includes part of LA County with large military installations. 

When I started to fill out his survey, I thought to myself, he must have made up those details all by himself (an example in a survey question). 

“Do you think we should stop the Socialist “Green New Deal,” which will ban airline travel, forbid air conditioning and force people to walk to work?”

McCarthy has also renamed the opposition as the Socialist Democrats, which is kind of laughable.

Here’s one that’s even crazier: Do you oppose the Democrat-supported “Born Alive Abortions” legislation that would make infanticide legal in America?

 I figured McCarthy made that one up with the help of an Irish priest. Actually, he twisted the meaning of the latest (Republican) bill, which mandated necessary care to insure the survival of a baby, but as Senator Kaine pointed out the bill was unnecessary, because a 2002 law passed by unanimous consent had already outlawed “infanticide” anywhere in the country.

When you see the importance Trump’s/GOP’s tax scam is believed to be by people like Congressman McCarthy, it is pathetic to read this question: Do you support Republican efforts in the House to cut spending, balance the budget and reduce the national debt?

Didn’t the GOP tax cut increase the deficit? But that increased profits and wealth….

On the backs of everyone else. Billions, possibly trillions of dollars have been transferred through legislation like this: tax cuts, loopholes like the depletion allowance, financing services by regressive taxes like Sales and Excise, paid for disproportionately by the poorest of the poor.

Republicans aren’t racists, of course. It’s just that those “minorities” happen to be poor. And the R’s believe in “free” enterprise and hard work. Obviously if you’re underpaid, or under-protected from Covid, that’s your fault.

The reason for asking for donations: to “make sure we have the critical resources we need to fight against voter fraud and the Socialist Revolution led by the radical left.”

The Socialist Revolution includes?

“Bernie Sanders’ brainchild “Medicare for All,” which will cost $3.3 trillion per year and make private health insurance illegal.”

Note: none of these details are in anything but a draft bill that would obviously have to be negotiated.

“The Socialist “Green New Deal,” which will ban air conditioning in your home, make air travel illegal and impose a new 70% tax on hardworking Americans.”

Here, McCarthy adds a new wrinkle, the 70% tax, which he appears to have made up after he wrote the made up details that are in the preface to his letter—but he left out having to walk to work!

Free College for All, adding billions to our national debt for our children and grandchildren to pay.

There’s a simple solution to the putative debt noted above: repealing the Republicans’ tax cut scam that added billions to the national debt in order to enrich wealthy corporations and the very richest among us. And, by the way, only the stockholders’ wealth was increased, dramatically, since most of the resulting windfalls went to them, not investments, when corporations cashed in stocks in response to the new law.

The last part of the “Socialist Revolution” McCarthy is warning against was proposed by some leftwing activists: “Abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), putting the security and safety of Americans in danger.”

But abolition per se is not part of the Democrat’s agenda. Reform certainly is: ICE is a rogue organization encouraged by right-wing extremists like Steve Miller, Trump’s longstanding White supremacist advisor. It is likely that most Americans do not approve of forced family separations, but despite the public outrage, ICE’s separations and other outrages continue.

To underscore the importance of McCarthy’s appeal, he concludes: “That’s not all. We are not only fighting against the radical socialists in the House, like Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but we are engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the media, who are their willing accomplices.”

In other words, everybody is against the poor, besieged Republicans, even though both the Presidency and the Senate are controlled by them—as well as Fox News, Sinclair news, and a whole panoply of rabid right-wing propaganda (“news”) organs.

After all, they have to go to battle against the “massive, well-funded Pelosi-Democrat political machine.”

I swear, these are direct quotes from the letter and survey, even though they read like a parody.

Republicans really do think this way!


Bhimbetka Caves outside of Bhopal: paintings from 4000-30,000 BC


I have seen the effects of almost unbridled growth. In India.

It isn’t pretty and it isn’t good for people, either.

With the exception of the British Empire’s cantonments, cities in India were never planned. They grew; they grow, like octopi. When I was interviewing people in Jabalpur back in 1970, I had an object lesson in what unplanned development meant. I had addresses and names, but the addresses were building numbers, not streets, because the streets were really just meandering spaces between buildings and the numbers were in order of when the building was built, not some rational numerical order down a straight street. The only way to find somebody was to ask someone who knew you, trusted you, or someone with you. 

My interpreter/informant, Shyam, an orthodox Brahmin, saw someone across what might have passed as a street. He hailed him, muttering an aside to me, “he’s a classmate—and he lives here.”

His friend came over to me, shook my hand, chuckling. “They think you are CD, or something. They send you on wild goose? chase. I will ask, and they will tell me. No worry.”

Within ten minutes, we were welcomed to my first power-weaving small business on the sample, Shyam’s friend introduced us and the proprietor looked pleased that we’d come. And he helped us find the next businessman on the sample, when we’d finished.

While new parts of cities, like the new Kochi, and the new Sagar, have relatively straight streets, there are no regulations enforced that prevent people from putting up any sign, of any size, building extensions out into the street, or shelters for unlicensed shops. In the oldest continuously inhabited city, Varanasi, there are no traffic lights. There are free-for-alls at every intersection, even ones where police try valiantly to direct traffic (they don’t succeed). Motorcycles outnumber cars, pedestrians equal motorcycles; trucks and buses vie for space; cows and bulls wander imperturbably down streets and everyone avoids them, even stops for them. Traffic stops for little else. But, at least the free-for-all at the intersections are all in extreme slow motion.

India was developing rapidly, before the pandemic: averaging over 7% growth in GDP per year, but it’s not planned, not regulated; it’s out of control. It looks like what rapid, unregulated development looks like. It’s not  pretty.

Delhi, Mumbai, even Agra, had air pollution that was visible; people had hacking coughs, some wore face-masks. Even in Darjeeling, and in Sagar in the virtual center of the subcontinent, air pollution was present. Only out in the hinterlands, far from mega-cities was the air somewhat clean (Delhi 25 million, Mumbai 23 million, even Bhopal in central India 3.3 million).

Development (via the Union Carbide explosion) killed our driver’s father in Bhopal, when he was 2, and his mother 10 years later.  (Note: the American corporation responsible never paid for the damage). Mr Asif had to quit school at age 12 to feed his remaining family.

Development is killing people every day. Many Indians expressed dismay at what was happening to their land. Houses, huts, shops, temples, mosques, churches, mega-malls, hucksters under awnings, hotels, all sprout almost spontaneously along any right of way, whether it be a straight street, a boulevard, a highway, or a meandering alley. Traffic is incessant all day, an assault of motorcycles, a flood of people, cars, trucks–many way overloaded–cows, bulls and even dogs. Opposing lanes keep shifting, but there are usually two discernible lanes, except at an intersection, where it’s a free-for-all in slow motion. Cars, buses, motorcycles, three-wheeled taxis slowly converge, cows and un-wheeled people, dart in and out between vehicles. Lanes get seriously blurred. So do the edges of the roadway.

It was in one of those free-for-alls that a motorcyclist, coming from behind, accelerating his way through what he saw as a hole in the mass of traffic ahead of him, grazed inches of skin off my arm. After a quick visit to a clinic, I wore a large bandage for about a week. I had been as far over to the side of the road as I could manage, skirting around trucks or taxis parked halfway into the road, following a guide.

In Darjeeling we had a guide, Amit, who lives in a village in the valley below. He told us that he won’t sell his ancestral home and land, but that people all around him have moved out, have become absentee landlords. All are happy to sell to any developer, as long as the price is right.

There are no regulations, or regulations enforced, that would prevent almost any kind of development, anywhere. Amit said that in the monsoon, all the drainage of the new construction wells up as sewage in the streets.

Further, climate change is worrisome: flowers blooming now that should be later, marked changes in rainfall—if the monsoon fails most will starve—warm and cold weather—Darjeeling is subtropical, but high in the hills. Our view of the Himalayas was completely blocked by clouds and mist the whole time we were there—and maybe pollution from neighboring Nepal and Sikkim added to the clouds.

When we drove from Delhi’s Ring Road to Agra, about 4 hours on the road, there was nowhere along the way, even in what looked like the pastoral Gangetic plain, heavily cultivated, that the haze of pollution went away. Most of the air pollution was from either Delhi or Agra (the latter a little over 1.5 million in 2011, probably closer to 2 million now), but a lot of pollution was from brick kiln production out in the hinterland, burning coal to feed the building boom.

Neither climate change nor development are kind to human beings, or other living things, especially when India has no control over either. The people are wonderful: kind, patient, friendly, helpful, but many expressed anxiety and helplessness about what was happening to their land.

It’s what unbridled growth looks like, like the “beautiful” modern buildings thrown helter-skelter, next to huts, tiny shops, jerry-built apartment towers along a crowded highway, or the piles of trash, some being eaten by the wandering cattle. Trash is also burning, adding to air pollution.

India is a vision of what the US could look like if Trump and the GOP are successful in eviscerating all regulations and all environmental rules.

However, there is one crucial difference: when I worked in India in 1970, the population was about 450 million (100 million more than the US now). Now, India has 1.324 billion people, almost three times US figures, and on a territory about 1/3 the US mainland.

Further, India is getting even hotter than it was already, with temperatures on the Gangetic plain frequently climbing above 120 F. How long will 1.324 billion people be able to survive there?

Will humans leave barren deserts and poisoned wastelands?

I haven’t mentioned the Modi Government, until now. Narendra Modi was (is?) a Hindu extremist, member of the RSS, a former member of which assassinated Gandhi. He organized the Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat as an RSS assignment. Now, the BJP rules India and most of its states. 

Modi, leading the BJP swept most of India in the 2019 election, increasing his majority, while still not carrying my favorite state: Kerala, still proudly Communist.

The BJP, like the Hindu party I encountered in Madhya Pradesh 48 years ago, is pro-business and pro-American (Nixon, then, Trump, now).

Modi reinforced his Hindu nationalist image, by locking down rebellious Kashmir, revoking state-hood and imposing Federal rule. Kashmir is 67% Muslim.

He has also posed the question, whether Muslims, anywhere in India, are really citizens, He’s set up barriers to repatriating any Muslim refugees from neighboring countries, but no barriers for Hindus. Like Trump, he divides, but it’s not “the Left” pounded by Trump, but a whole religious group,171.7 million, who date back, in some areas, to the 7th century. The rest of today’s Muslims are the result of successive Muslim conquests until the Mughal conquest (1520), its court and armies, and all those who converted for the advantages it offered them (including liberation from a low caste).

They are neither a movement, nor a race; they are a religion, but now it seems, while Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and even Christians are acceptable to the RSS’s idea of Hindutva (roughly translated as Hindu-ness), Muslims are a foreign religion. They don’t have Hindutva.

Modi has done poorly managing the pandemic. First, abruptly, closing everything down. Cases stayed low. Then people began to starve, and/or flee, or rebel. So, he opened everything up, and two weeks later, Covid exploded, in all the cities, first of all. Public health spokes-people say India is on a trajectory, with the disease, that could overtake the mismanaged US, in numbers of cases and deaths.

Modi and Trump got along; pals for two events. Modi also rules with the kind of suddenness  we’ve become familiar with in Trump. Like his retirement of the most used rupee denominations, to stop ‘black money.”

The currency “reform” didn’t work, but it wasn’t a political disaster, just an economic set-back. Modi was fighting against “black money,” so many thought it must’ve been a good thing. His charisma is somewhat (consciously?) reminiscent of Gandhi as political holy man, albeit a very skilled politician when it comes to exciting his followers, and bringing more on board.

The BJP doesn’t control the state of Kerala, Hindus, Muslims and Christians live there in apparent harmony: they have been doing so since the 7th century, even celebrating each other’s religious holidays,  but the BJP still tries to drive them apart.

As far as his economic policies go, Modi is for deregulation, (much needed in India after  the corrupt “Indian Socialism” of the Congress, bound up, literally, in red tape) (the term red tape, and the practice of tying files in it, was created by the British Raj, but the Congress government “got rid of” the red tape: changing the tape color to blue.). Modi’s also for protecting his friends, cronies and Indian billionaires. He says he’s “pro-business.”

The likelihood is that his government will continue to appeal to the super-rich, and continue to allow development to go on unregulated. But with Covid19, it’s likely that India’s huge population will be trimmed of many of the most vulnerable people.

Inequality will worsen. The environment will be even further compromised.

On a more positive note: the Communist government in Kerala built the first completely solar-powered airport, in Kochi.

LIFE AT 75 (1st Posted 2015)

“You’re old now,” my 28-year old daughter (my youngest) told me on my birthday. She’s into extreme sports.

“You don’t look old; I took you for 55.” A sample comment from people who don’t know me.

I am lucky to have relatively good health. I hike and garden in the summer, ski in the winter, but I no longer fell, haul, cut and split firewood in the winter, in part because last year I sold the forest land that was my firewood supply and didn’t replace my woods truck when it broke down.

Relatively good health depends on health care, however, and on Medicare. I’ve been treated for prostate cancer through radiation and would have had to go heavily into debt if it weren’t for good insurance coverage–and a radiologist who is a real human being.

Appearances can also be deceiving.  I’m nearly blind in one eye; I bruise ridiculously easily; I had a persistent cold for the whole month of December, and I seem to be vulnerable to every cold that comes along. Last summer,  I ended up in the hospital with acute Lyme Disease and Babesiosis. I was told that when I entered the acute disease ward, I was the sickest one there. However, at least one patient died from the ward  during my 5-day stay.

I had long-term Lyme two years before and had to have a 9-week course of intravenous antibiotics.

Do I cover up to prevent tick bites? I spend as much time outside as I can, but I do not cover up. In my experience, nothing prevents ticks from catching a ride, but clothes give them more purchase, and more places to hide (underneath them). I’ve had at least three tick bites so far this year (June, 2014), but in each case I felt them early enough (I hope) that I was able to remove them within about an hour of contact. They itch as soon as they penetrate my skin.

[added in 2020: I now wear a pre-treated pair of pants if I’m wading into high grass, where ticks are most prevalent. And recently, when I didn’t, I found an imbedded tick on my upper thigh, so I medicated]

Two winters ago (2013) I fell through ice into a lake (the property was sold in 2014) and my body temperature reached the 80’s by the time I arrived at the hospital almost three hours later. At one point, when I was fighting through the rotten ice to a raft,  I envisioned my body  being found on the lake bottom months later: no one knew I was there. I shouted bloody murder and my wife, very luckily, was walking outside with a client. Otherwise, no one would have heard me.

Another thing about being 75, is that my mother was still living, barely, at 101 and on the strength of that people assured me that I’ll live a long time yet. I wouldn’t really like to live as she did toward the end, however, unable to move, except her forearms and her neck, unable any longer to speak more than a few words. It was a long, slow death. She also had NO short-term memory. Think about that: even before her long, slow decline, she couldn’t remember me going out of the room and coming back a few minutes later.

Olga died at 101 and 10 months, in December, 2014, died from the feet first, essentially of old age. The process of dying actually took from mid-summer until early December, not something anyone would want to go through.

Life begins with crying and never ends well (good deaths are just quick and painless), but life in between may have its points. I’ve settled in a beautiful place (see picture above: a nearby hiking lookout) and there’s a lot to do in the local area: I’m learning salsa, for example; I never knew how to dance anything except the Twist before this.

Addendum: Life at 81, during the pandemic. It’s lucky we live in a beautiful place where we can be comfortably quarantined. Neither of us are sick, but from my catalogue of ailments listed above, I need to add a bout with Lyme that I think brought on a temporary Atrial Flutter, which means I have a heart condition.

So, I’m probably vulnerable if I were to get Covid19. Therefore, I’ve kept pretty close to home, only gone to the local grocery, coop, drugstore and hardware store. Always masked.

We see only a few people, and with all of those we maintain social distance. We also zoom with some of them, on special occasions.

At my age, social distancing is more pleasure than hardship. I sit outside, when it’s warm, in the evening, and contemplate the beautiful world around me.

I know I’m shrinking: shorter now than ever, from a never tall 5’ 5 1/2” to 5’ 2”. I tire more easily; short hikes seem longer, but I still do hike.

In the summer, I wear skirts/kilts most days and ankle-length tunics in the evenings—I can’t bear wearing a belt around my waist after five PM. 

Why skirts and tunics? To me they are freedom from the constraints of pants and shorts. The first time I wore a Scottish kilt, I realized how freeing it felt. I was 65.

At 81, I don’t really care what I look like, only that I’m comfortable.


Princess Olga: Uncovering My Headstrong Mother’s Venezuelan Connection is available in hardback, paperback and as an e-book. Princess Olga may be ordered on B & N, Amazon and other retail outlets. Publisher: Imagination Fury Arts. Also available here:’s+Venezuelan+Connection&qid=1593367871&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

I have published two books only on Amazon Kindle. They are Attila’s autobiography Attila as Told to His Scribes, available at:

and I, Zerco, available at

In addition, I have two books published on Smashwords: Body Destiny, available for a limited time at $0.99

and From Renata With Love, available for a limited time at $0.99 

Douglas C. Smyth Author, Gardener

The great white oak, about 300 years old, that brought us to this piece of land.

On May 3rd, 2020, the great white oak collapsed! No wind, no rain, a beautiful sunny day, but Our Oak got too heavy on top, and too weak at his base. Result:

Quite miraculously, the Oak fell between two rows of trees and only broke off one secondary limb of a cherry tree at about the center of this picture.

He’s already made a fine outdoor meeting place, even before all the upper branches (to the left of center) are cleared away for firewood. There are huge branches for benches, and its hollow base for a shelter, bar, whatever. The boughs are more than two feet thick. We’ll leave the base and the biggest boughs as an almost encircling enclosure for our meeting place. A good place to meet friends during this pandemic.

A friend sent a New Yorker cartoon they’d seen the same day: a largish oak fallen next to its standing mates, saying: “Oh, my God! It feels good to lie down!”

After 300+ years, Our Oak must have felt the same.

But he’ll still be enjoyed and celebrated, for at least another 20 years, long after I’ve gone.

I do hope I do not live anywhere near as long as my mother, Olga, about whom you’ll read more here. She lived to be 101 and 10 months, before her body, much like the Oak, just gave out. But she inspired a novel, by me.

Share this:

Published by douglascsmyth

Writer, gardener, former political science and economics professor, free-lance writer, 81-years old, married to Elizabeth Cunningham, father of Darshann, Julian and Marina. I live on the western slope of the Shawangunk ridge, NY, in a house powered largely by solar and heated and cooled by it. Associated with High Valley, Clinton Corners, until 2014.View more posts

Post navigation

Previous Post Previous post:
Introduce Yourself (Example Post)
Next Post Next post:
Douglas C. Smyth, Author

Leave a Reply 

Douglas C Smyth, Author and GardenerBlog at


Honeybee Society

How do bees keep order? 

Are there bee enforcers?

No bee rampages through the hive and kills its sisterhood. They do give the drones the heave ho, when supplies are scarce or winter is coming, but they wouldn’t have lived long in the winter, anyway, only eaten precious honey. And worker bees can lay drone eggs, if they’re needed, so they’re easily replaced. But almost every naturally occurring transition for a new queen involves multiple murders: a newly hatched queen will seek out all the other developing queen cells, and kill each one of them—to prevent interregnal warfare. Other than that, there is no violence, except from outside predators.

So, rules of behavior and expectation may be more effective in controlling what’s permissible in their hive. 

Bee society is like an extreme version of Mao’s PRC (People’s Republic). They, the individual worker bees, drones and the queen herself are all part of this huge personality, in which everyone does what they’re supposed to do, so the hive will thrive. There is no dissent; there is no discussion; there is only what they are supposed to do, in every minute of the day. Almost free, are the foragers—it’s a stage in their life cycle—when you see them purposely buzzing to a flower, and then to another and another…. As lovely as that looks, it’s hard work. The freest of the bees are the seniors who have lived long enough to graduate from foragers to scouts; they know the lay of the land, and can find the blossoms, or a place to swarm. They warn of danger: pesticides, mowers, people and bears.

Bees reproduce to spread themselves, by swarming. Sometimes the old queen leads the swarm, while the scouts lead them all to promising new places. Other times, it’s led by the new queen. She, and all the swarm, follow the scouts, who know where they’re going.

A swarm is sort of like a revolution, starting with the permissible insurrection of worker bees making queen cells. The reasons for making them: a felt need to move, an aging queen, a shortage of food within their range (about two miles). Some hives seem to be more prone to swarming, even multiple times in a season, others not so much. Swarming frequency may have genetic roots in the queen.

I saw one swarm gather on a bough high up a tree in my yard. When I climbed up to collect it (with a paper bag), I inadvertently jiggled the bough and the swarm took off, straight into the sky and disappeared high above me.

When a new queen hatches, or is about to, a portion of the hive (mostly foragers and scouts, not nursemaids) leaves the familiar, setting off into the unknown, following either the old queen, or the new one. Then, when settled in the new place, the scouts, no longer leaders, and the foragers now have to become nursemaids again, while the queen (old or new) busily lays her eggs in the brand new hive–if she’s been impregnated. Sometimes, a virgin queen is killed by a passing bird, during her mating flight. Then the swarm hive has a real problem. Only intervention by a human beekeeper introducing a queen by hand, will save the swarm hive from a gradual death.

The older nursemaids in the hive left behind, become the foragers and scouts.

The next generation has to be produced as quickly as the queen can pop out eggs. Then the nursemaids nurse them, until they hatch. The hatchlings replace them as nursemaids, first by cleaning up their own cell. The former nursemaids get to be foragers, again, if they live that long.

Bees seal hives with propolis that appears to have some antibiotic properties—and human uses—especially protection from diseases in the local environment. The propolis is like their collective suit of armor.

A hive, average size, 40-50,000 bees, is a collective person, and personality.

What bees do not have is ethnic diversity. There is no possibility of racism, only sexism and defense against predators, like yellow jackets, mice, or murder wasps. The drones (males) do only sexual service, not even defense. All they do is wait around for a virgin queen. She is usually impregnated many times (perhaps hundreds of times) in her virgin flight. The more impregnations, the longer she can lay, or the stronger her offspring. That’s the only use the drones have, but they’re bigger than worker bees, so they may eat more.

No wonder they’re ushered out into the cold with the coming winter!

“Republicans Will Never Win”

Trump’s Executive order aimed at social media may have been issued in a fit of pique, in part: to him, if he believes it, it is true, so any questioning (fact-checking, horrors!) has to be stopped.

The actual order, if enforced, could increase social media’s liability to what others post.

And it is an attempt to stop twitter/FB, etc. from fact-checking, since “the Republicans will never win another election” (to quote DJT), if they can’t cheat, lie, deny and mislead or misinform.

Trump probably knew that the media companies would jump all over him, as well as those “freedom of speech types,” but his “base” will love it (that’s the point, really). Furthermore, he probably knew that the lawsuits would probably stop him from actually carrying out his order, especially for the next six months.

But I bet El Jefe Trump and his gang-members will try to use it to intimidate the opposition—if they can.

The important thing is for both the social media and the opposition (Democrats, independents, the conscientious ) to refuse, on principle, to mince words, or proof, or facts.

And the science seems to say that, on the issue at hand—mail voting vs face-to-face voting—voter fraud has been extremely rare. And the one recent, confirmed mail fraud case was performed by a Republican contractor, “harvesting” and even completing, absentee ballots. Face to face fraud is mostly the voter suppression kind of fraud: intimidating the nervous (minority) voter to go home, instead of voting. One can infer that Trump, and his party, are all for that kind of fraud. Keep black and brown people from voting and he and the Republicans could win.

Trump will do anything he can to prevent certain types of people from voting, cheating, misleading, lying: otherwise, as he stated: “Republicans will never win another election,”

Douglas C. Smyth, Author

I’m half Venezuelan and a quarter Hawthorne. Writing is in my blood.

I wrote for magazines and free-lance assignments, from encyclopedias to radio programs from 2001-07. I have authored many unpublished novels and, so far, four (self) published novels, as well as assorted published short stories and articles.

Before my Ph.D program (Political Science, Economics and Anthropology), I tried to write short stories while I was assistant editor of Glass Packer/Processor, a business magazine. I then taught at what became the University of Central Florida. After publishing almost the requisite number of academic articles, I quit full-time academe and taught for years in a college prison program in NY. That’s when I turned to writing novels as well as freelance work. I wrote at least ten novels. Agents and/or publishers seriously considered several of them, and finally I self-published two of them as e-books on Smashwords: Body Destiny and From Renata With Love, a prison novel.

Scrapping the formula: write what you know, I wrote two historical novels. They are: Attila as Told to His Scribes and I, Zerco. These I published on Kindle, after a British agent marketed both of them unsuccessfully for years; he finally retired.

Niggling at the back of my consciousness were stories from my family: both the Venezuelan and Hawthorne branches. 

My mother was born on a Venezuelan island off its coast. She was named on ship-board after a Russian princess, raised in Trinidad to age 11, and then she, her brothers and her mother fled Trinidad for New York–but always denied they fled. My maternal grandfather later became the Governor of the Venezuelan state of Falcon; he and his many brothers were mostly high up on the security side of dictator Vicente Gomez’s long-lasting regime.

My paternal grandmother was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the favored daughter of his son, Julian Hawthorne, a bestselling novelist and convicted fraudulent speculator. Her son, my father, Julian Smyth, was impatient with the whole Hawthorne phenomenon and was a would-be scientist and teacher. My paternal grandfather, Clifford Smyth, was a former consul in Colombia, journalist, writer, novelist and the founder of what became the New York Times Book Review. He and his wife, were Swedenborgians, following a mysticism my father rebelled against. However, Clifford also published a fantasy novel about an American traveler wooing a South American Indian princess. His son, Julian, married a Venezuelan who styled herself a princess, having been named after one.

My parents later set up and ran a small school, where I grew up–as the teachers’ son.

After graduating from college, I joined the Army to avoid the draft (serving just before Vietnam). I was stationed in Turkey and Germany in the Army Security Agency.

After the military, I worked for a business magazine (Glass Packer/Processor), virtually reporting, writing and laying out each issue as Assistant and then Associate Editor. The Editor assigned the themes for each issue, sold ads for it, and arranged ad-related articles for me to write.

At graduate school, I focused on third world politics and development, with a concentration in South Asia. I spent a year (1969-70) in Central India for my dissertation research. Then, I taught at the University of Central Florida, until I decided not to apply for tenure. I returned to the Mid-Hudson region of New York, where I’d grown up.

In 1979, I married Elizabeth, now a published novelist and poet and together we raised a son, a daughter and (part-time) my daughter from a previous marriage. They are all grown now, and I’m well past retirement age.

But still I write. In 2017, I “published” on Amazon and with a private publisher, a novel-memoir of my mother’s childhood in Trinidad, and the mystery surrounding her family’s hurried departure for New York: Princess Olga Uncovering My Headstrong Mother’s Venezuelan Connection.

I am currently working on two novels. One is a fictional retrospective: “What? At High Valley?” The other is post-apocalyptic: “Will We Survive?”

Douglas C Smyth

Douglas C Smyth, Author, Gardener,

The great white oak, about 300 years old, that brought us to this piece of land.

On May 3rd, 2020, the great white oak collapsed! No wind, no rain, a beautiful sunny day, but Our Oak got too heavy on top, and too weak at his base. Result:

Quite miraculously, the Oak fell between two rows of trees and only broke off one secondary limb of a cherry tree at about the center of this picture.

He’s already made a fine outdoor meeting place, even before all the upper branches (to the left of center) are cleared away for firewood. There are huge branches for benches, and its hollow base for a shelter, bar, whatever. The boughs are more than two feet thick. We’ll leave the base and the biggest boughs as an almost encircling enclosure for our meeting place. A good place to meet friends during this pandemic.

A friend sent a New Yorker cartoon they’d seen the same day: a largish oak fallen next to its standing mates, saying: “God, it feels good to lie down!”

After 300+ years, Our Oak must have felt the same.

But he’ll still be enjoyed and celebrated, for at least another 20 years, long after I’ve gone.

I do hope I do not live anywhere near as long as my mother, Olga, about whom you’ll read more here. She lived to be 101 and 10 months, before her body, much like the Oak, just gave out. But she inspired a novel, by me.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.