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Long walks, art and concert-going fill the time in beautiful Eduador

Hi, gang! How are things in the Town of Middle? And thank you for asking … everything is hunky-dory here in Cuenca (you can research the derivation of hunky-dory if interested).

As usual, there are all kinds of things to do here in the city. So far in 2016 we have been to 34 symphony concerts and/or performances, of which 32 were free. The other two were to benefit the Ecuadorean earthquake victims and tickets were $10 each. There is another free concert this week. One of the performances was held in a 14,000-square foot, three-story home that has been restored by a couple from Texas. It took more than four years to complete the restoration. If interested it can be yours for a mere $2 million. 

Last week there was a two-day art walk, which had 55 different venues that displayed various works of art. We walked for a few hours touring the various galleries and shops to see some very interesting paintings, photos, sculptures and various other art forms. In a few weeks, the city will celebrate its Independence Day with a three-day craft fair by the river, which is being billed as the largest in the world — the fair, not the river. There will also be an international food fair. 

Speaking of walking: I kept track of the walking Olga and I did over a 15-day span. We walked 28 hours. The average human walks about three miles an hour. If my math is correct, we walked approximately 84 miles. Imagine how many times a Middletonian would have to walk from his home to the car, car to the mall or work, back to the car and back to the house before 84 miles would be logged. Years? In addition, Olga had five one-hour Pilates classes and I lifted light weights five days.

Random observations

• Spring has sprung. Yep, we have entered spring. Our seasons are reversed here in the Southern Hemisphere. We have noticed that several stores are already displaying Christmas decorations and we are still weeks from Halloween. 

• Yesterday we heard some commotion in front of our apartment so we went to the window to see what was occurring. We are on the second floor so we had a bird’s-eye view of the action. There was a small fender-bender and the drivers were out of their cars yelling at each other. People gathered to watch the spectacle. No police were called for something this minor. In about 15 minutes when the oral combatants ran out of verbiage they got back in their cars and left.

• We received a call from a friend who told us he was very ill and was having trouble walking. We told him to go to the emergency room and Olga and I would meet him there. He was seen by the hospital emergency room staff, a cardiologist and a neurologist. He was there for several hours but would not stay overnight for observation as they suggested. He was given several medications. He had to pay his hospital charges before leaving. The total bill was $279. I think just the “cover charge” to enter a central Pennsylvania emergency room would be much more than that, not even considering the various doctor bills — unless one is a welfare recipient or illegal alien.

• Did you watch the Summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro? Did you notice how small the team from Mexico was? An unnamed source stated that most any Mexican who could jump, run or swim was already in the United States.

• A friend of ours here is an international lawyer from the Netherlands. One of his clients was Freddy Heineken, as in Heineken Beer for you teetotalers.

• From the “Knock On Wood” department: There are only two continents on which there have been no terrorist attacks: South America and Antarctica. I think the prayer mats would stick to the ice in Antarctica.

• Having sold major appliances both retail and wholesale for years, I find two features of stoves/ranges here interesting. First there is a hinged glass lid that covers the burner top to keep it dust and dirt free. When lifted, it then serves as a back splash to keep grease off the wall in back of the range. And second there is a rod that connects the oven door to the oven rack so that when the oven door is opened the oven rack slides out, thus eliminating the need to use a hot pad. Rather ingenious. Not having seen a new range in America in four years, I don’t know if these features are now incorporated on new stoves there or not.

• I just celebrated my 50th anniversary of when I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. I find it ironic that I joined the military to help protect the country from the people that now run the USSA, (Uniformed/Uneducated Socialist Slaves of Amerika), and some of those that are currently running for president and other public office.

• Do you recall the cult horror classic movie that was filmed in Pennsylvania, “Night Of The Living Dead”? I started watching it the other evening and 15 minutes into it I discovered it was actually a presidential debate. I had to make a choice — either watch the NASCAR race or view another presidential debate. I would have watched NASCAR if they would have been racing slugs.

• Remember when you were a kid and the fairy tales began, “Once upon a time …”?  Now the fairy tales begin, “If elected, I promise …”?

• “We’re No. 1!” The USSA is now the No. 1 consumer of sugar in the world, averaging 102 pounds per person per year. No need to wonder why diabetes is rampant and the “yutes” act like wild animals.

• The rankings were just released rating the safest countries in the world. The USSA ranked 103 of the 163 countries surveyed.

• Well, it is the end of Western civilization as we know it. The big news? Brad and Angelina are getting divorced. Does anybody really care? It just doesn’t affect my life even a little bit. Gee, nobody got excited when I got divorced the first time … the second time … or the third time. Although it did make some lawyers happy!

Until later from beautiful Cuenca ... Eddy the Expat

Ed O’Connor, a former resident of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township, is an expatriate living in Cuenca, Ecuador.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 October 2016 11:31

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Donald Trump isn’t perfect, but he’s just the medicine the U.S. needs

Two summers ago, I wrote a laudatory piece for the Press And Journal on Donald Trump and his then-ascendant campaign. I praised his tenacity to speak directly to the everyman, infuriating media elites who discourse in meaningless verbiage. 

The D.C. class needed a good reminder that the rest of America doesn’t think, talk or act like them. Trump was that outlandish reminder.

Fifteen months later, I never thought he would be the Republican nominee. He’s less than 30 days from winning the presidency. Hillary Clinton, who I predicted would win the election hands down, is no longer a guarantee. 

Come Election Day, I plan on voting for Donald Trump. I know what you’re thinking: How in the world can you vote for that vulgar monster for president? Don’t you think he’ll run his gums and start World War III?

Well, the truth is that I do fear missteps in a Donald Trump administration. I’d rather him not embarrass us on the world stage. I’d prefer his temper not flare while negotiating with world leaders. I’d really like for him to not screw over his supporters the way he’s filtched from his creditors over the years.

All that said, I’m under no illusion: I’m prepared to be disappointed in a President Trump. Any president will sooner or later let you down (see the fall in millennial support of President Barack Obama). The Donald, despite his boasts, will not follow through on his dreamy, superlative-filled promises.

But I still back Trump, not so much for what he says but what he represents. He’s a blowhard businessman whose avarice is only rivaled by his opponent’s insatiable opportunism. He wouldn’t know the Constitution if it was gold-flecked and began with “Me, Donald Trump, of my United States, in Order to form…”

However, any apprehension I had about Trump’s ability to execute the duties of commander-in-chief have been softened by one thing: His penchant for protecting that which is close.

I doubt Trump knew what he was getting into when he launched his campaign way back in June of last year. His infamous announcement speech is remembered most for implying that many illegal Mexicans are criminals (definitionally, all illegal immigrants are criminals) and rapists. 

But he said much more. Channeling conservative columnist Pat Buchanan’s populist presidential runs from the 1990s, Trump came off as fiercely inward looking. He raged against international trade deals, the downscaling of the U.S. military, our porous border with Mexico, and proposals to gut Medicare and Social Security.

Trump’s platform wasn’t ideological. Heck, it was barely Republican. Trump shot from the hip at whom he perceived as corrupt politicians driving the country down the road to ruin. And he never apologized for it.

This was made all the more clear when Trump, after routing 16 opponents in the long and bloody primary war, accepted the GOP nomination. With his amateur campaign polished by professionals, the Manhattan billionaire took things up a notch in his acceptance speech, attacking Hillary Clinton’s cosmopolitan views. “The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents,” Trump boomed, “is that our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

It was once understood that nation-states exist to advance the prosperity of their citizens. That outdated belief is at odds with the “global-mindedness” of today’s elites, who see national borders and patriotism as limits on spreading the liberal gospel to the far reaches of the world.

Hillary Clinton is unquestionably the elitists’ choice this election. And her neoliberalism is based on a few assumptions, the prime one being the interchangeability of human beings. For Hillary and her globalist ilk, we are nothing by biological automatons that react to pleasure and pain. Blood, kin and roots are only the product of colorful imagination. They aren’t real like gross domestic product. They don’t provide meaning like biweekly dole checks. 

Of course, Hillary, being the canny pol she is, utilizes identity politics to rile up her base. She uses feelings of racial and sexual solidarity to boost her numbers. But that’s only a political ploy. Her heart is with the universalized idealism of the TED talk crowd.

Trump’s the opposite. He wants to bring money spent on democracy-building home to repair our broken infrastructure. He castigates companies that leave the United States to set up shop in cheaper countries. He wants to preserve America’s unique character by securing the border. He doesn’t want to just defeat ISIS — he wants to take their oil reserves for American use.

Trump’s focus is here, on our country and our people. His message resonates with those who don’t long to see the world, and are comfortable right where they are. A new poll from The Atlantic shows that “40 percent of Donald Trump’s likely voters live in the community where they spent their youth, compared with just 29 percent of Hillary Clinton voters.” Not only that, but 60 percent of Hillary supporters live more than two hours away from their hometown. (For the record, I live in Northern Virginia, which is slightly over two hours away from Middletown).

In a recent NPR interview, Bruce Springsteen, reminiscing about his hardscrabble years in Asbury Park, New Jersey, divided people into two camps: “(T)here’s folks that stay and there’s folks that go.” Trump is the voice of folks who stay — stay in their family, their hometown, and their country. Hillary is the voice of those who leave — who break the bonds of their birth and embrace their will-to-power self.

This 21st century America needs a good dose of staying put. Trump is the medicine. No matter the taste, I plan on taking it on Nov. 8. 

Do you?

James E. Miller, a native of Middletown, works as a digital marketer in Northern Virginia.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 16:23

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House OKs expansion to PACENET program

A proposal to allow 32,000 more senior citizens to enroll in the state’s PACENET prescription drug assistance program cleared the House this summer, and is now in the state Senate for consideration. This would be the first expansion of the program since 2002.

House Bill 2069, which I supported, would increase the annual maximum income limits in the PACENET program to $31,000 for a single person and to $41,000 for a married couple. Current maximum income requirements for the PACENET program, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, are $23,500 for a single individual and $31,500 for a married couple annually.

An adjustment in the reimbursement formula would allow the program expansion without additional costs on enrollees or additional funds from the Pennsylvania Lottery or taxpayers.

The PACE and PACENET programs provide low-cost prescription drugs to nearly 282,000 Pennsylvanians age 65 and older. 

Both programs are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery. For more information on the programs, visit, and click on the “PA-At Your Service” icon.

Small business grants

The Department of Environmental Protection is inviting manufacturers, retailers, service providers, agricultural businesses and other small businesses to apply for Small Business Advantage Grants to finance pollution prevention and energy-efficiency projects. 

The grants provide funding to projects that include auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks, HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, solvent recovery systems and waste recycling systems. 

The grant program is funded by the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, which is financed by the state Capital Stock and Franchise Tax and Act 13 impact fees, as well as hazardous waste transportation and management fees, and hazardous sites cost recovery.

Applicants will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be accepted until fiscal year 2016-17 funds are exhausted or April 17, 2017, whichever occurs first.

For eligibility requirements and more details, visit, and click on “PA-At Your Service.” 

John D. Payne is a Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives whose 106th District includes Middletown. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . His Capitol office telephone number is 717-787-2684.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 16:12

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Trump plan to vet those who want to come to U.S. is un-American

I was startled when I heard Donald Trump call for an ideological certification and extreme vetting for people entering the United States. 

The whole concept of an ideology — a coherent system of beliefs and values that motivate individuals and groups — is something that is foreign to the American experience. I expected a headline the next day in The New York Times recognizing the strangeness of this proposal. There was hardly a mention and certainly not the outcry I expected.

For most political or economic theorists, ideology is a morally and analytically neutral term that expresses the existing ethos of a group or civilization or, in fact, any comprehensive normative vision. For most of the average American middle class, ideology is a 75 cent word of little practical use. 

For the people who think about it, ideology is what we live by. However, a pejorative aroma lingers about the term which, especially for Americans, implies a rigidity and mindless conformity to some abstract rule or goal. “He is an ideologue,” is not a compliment. 

The governing “Elite” are supposed to protect and maintain an ideology as a system that all of the people are expected to know and support for the common good. Except that is not the way Americans see it.

Americans have a problem. It is doubtful that America has an ideology that “all of the people are expected to know and support.” In fact, polarization across the spectrum of potential ideologies raises serious doubts about that mythical philosophical point. 

To put it simplistically, the American ideology begins with democratic socialism on the left and runs to the right through alt-right. In addition, lots of people put themselves outside that spectrum but they still consider themselves full-fledged Americans. Who belongs to or is deserving of the American dream, if I can use that term, has to be chosen after “extreme vetting.” And someone has to get very specific about that ideology when in reality the ideology is as vague and amorphous as the values that make up the American dream.

The present ever deepening polarization in America’s economics and politics is a disagreements about our values. The Great Moderation of the 1950s and early 1960s witnessed a consensus about our value system. The political, sociological and economic changes in our society during those years were not reflected in the society around them. 

The power centers held on to the status quo. The educational system, health care and manufacturing establishmentsfor instance, had not adjusted to the new reality and when they did in the late 1960s it was violent with riots in the streets and assassinations. 

Then the society tried to catch up and did it with startling speed. The society embraced civil rights, changes in sexual mores, feminism and gay marriage. 

Because these changes were sociological, the people could institute the change practically by themselves. What took money or political power, did not get done and will not get done until the power structure of the previous ideology ceases to stand in the way. In the meantime, the middle class is losing its place and it’s faith in what is left of the economic and political value system that they counted on.

Other areas such as global warming, tax reform, economic adjustment and political structures lagged because they require money, lots of it. Now consensual ideology exists to guide these changes. 

Likewise, there was no agreement on who would pay and the 1 percent were not about to give up the money they had skimmed over the past 40 years. The polarization and strife represented by the rise of Donald Trump will not conclude just because he loses this coming election, if he does lose! The ideological base is going to have to be created and that is not yet in sight.

Nothing is more un-American or exclusionary than the idea of people being certified as ideologically correct and therefore worthy of entrance into the United States. That sounds more like Hitler or Stalin. In the meantime we have to ask what would a Trump administration certify to as a basis for allowing immigrants to enter the United States. 

No one in his right mind would presume to know just where Donald Trump would go on that ideological spectrum. No one I know would presume to draft a certificate of worthiness.


Paul A. Heise, of Mount Gretna, is a professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College, Annville, and a former economist for the federal government.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 16:10

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