Category Archives: 21st Century Politics

Advocating for Women

1978 was a turning point in my life, and today’s official statement from the U.S. Supreme Court causes me to remember that particular year.

Early nurturing from my mother, Thelma Englert Loika, led to opportunities to experience women. I discovered they were a source of security, inspired by loyalty and devotion. Women can be incredibly alluring, will cater to curiosity, nod constantly up-and-down during polite conversation and taste incredibly interesting.

All those tactile sensations were in play when a certain woman, Sarah, flashed herself in front of me. I wholeheartedly gave in, even while Sarah was introducing her parents into our life of mutually satisfying physical pleasures. Sarah was 38; I was 35.

Sarah’s parents suspected our emissions would create an offspring, and those Egyptian Jews were right.

I volunteered for us to get married, becoming betrothed during January 1978 in a tourist-trendy ceremony in the justice of the peace’s wedding chapel/office in the celebrity-rich town of Golden Beach, Florida. The only music I remember came from a background FM radio station, with the whole event taking half an hour.

After saying goodbyes to our respective families, Sarah and I couldn’t wait to undress and fuck like rabbits.

Again and again.

Once early March rolled around, after I refused mother-in-law Edith’s demand to end my own mother’s influence, the happiness of welcoming my own child into the world no longer excited my in-laws.

While I sat on the front stoop of our Miami Shores garden-adorned apartment building, trying to keep a frosty bottle of champagne cool, Edith took Sarah to the ghetto side of town for an illegal abortion. As I walked resignedly back to our apartment and sat upon the bargain-basement couch, my phone rang 10 minutes later.

“It’s Edith,” she said. With just a few words, Edith explained all in just a few words. “Sarah has undergone an abortion. You need to look after her. We’ll be home in about 10 minutes.” Then she hung up.

What? What the fuck? How did this happen? Sarah couldn’t talk it over with me?

After the two of them appeared, I walked around in a fog. Sarah told me nothing but went to bed. Two days later, I filed for divorce.

I suppose people would wonder why I support women’s rights then. Well, I always have. And why would I want to use my personal experience to impose more impediments to the lives of women?

No way. I received too much pleasure from women, especially considering the inconveniences they experience, to control their reproductive rights. I love women!

While I was awaiting the October court date, a front-page story in the Miami Herald’s Aug. 11, 1978 living-today section carried my photo, touting my Miami Jaycee civic reputation as a “dissident” and “suffragist”.

The wonderment brought about by surprise mass publicity caused me to pen a paean:

MEN WHO LOVE WOMEN SUPPORT WOMEN’S RIGHTS.

Now it’s June 24, 2022, and the U.S. Supreme Court just declared a mockery of the New World Order. Once again, women’s voices are being heard about freedom and America.

Being a man, and thereby logically inferior, I offer my contribution to this crucial time. American women need to “remind” men that Men who love women support women’s rights.

I Cry for My Country

I am supposed to be knee-deep in my memoir, but the last two weeks were too much. Through the miracle of television, the same medium my grandmother and I watched the 1956 Democratic and Republican conventions together, I fell prey to the frenzy of America’s 2020 election.

If I would have been old enough to vote 64 years ago, “I liked Ike.” He would have protected us.

As I grew older, my mother told me about David Rhys. He was a distant Welsh ancestor to our Johnston family, who after immigrating to America, changed the spelling of his surname to Reese. That was noteworthy because in 1775, David Reese signed the Declaration of Independence in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, one year before the USA declared its version. No wonder I was able to validate for myself that I was a Quaker – and a patriot.

I cry for my country.

The last time I felt so much hope for America – 1963 –  JFK was assassinated. I was on my way to a history class at the University of Florida when a fellow student asked me if I knew what just happened. I gave him a querulous look, so he replied, “Jack Kennedy just was shot.”

“That can’t happen,” I reasoned, but my disbelief was shattered when I saw a fellow classmate break down in tears. I cried too when Walter Cronkite’s voice broke while reading the hurriedly scripted report that Kennedy succumbed to his injuries.

I cry for my country.

What I thought was a worthwhile way to live became a nightmare again – and again – and again. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave birth to a dream, but his physical being was terminated in 1968. Next was Robert Kennedy, and I was shell-shocked.

Football was no escape for me. While listening to a radio broadcast of the Miami Dolphins-New England Patriots game in 1980, a breathless announcer told America that John Lennon had been summarily executed. Why? For preaching peace?

I cry for my country.

Political Celebration
An interesting photo showing Biden with an aura about his head.

Joe Biden was elected president in a bitterly contested election and is due to govern on January 20. I’ve seen this celebration before. Already, the current occupant calls the contest “corrupt” and is asking Republicans to destroy the outcome. As a first offensive he filed numerous lawsuits, particularly in Pennsylvania.

I want to believe again, I want to stand up and praise the U-S-of-A, and rail against terrorism because of 9/11, but what does America stand for? Is it our territory or a transitory idea? To watch a so-called president attack the nation’s most fundamental function – a fair election in the birthplace of our country – makes my Quaker blood boil.

#45 sets the stage for a fundamental evil that pervades this “land of the free.” He is guilty of treason, an enabler for future terrorist attacks on everything I hold near and dear. How can he continue to spout his poison? Is this free speech?

I cry for my country.

Postscript: On January 6, 2021, my worst fears came true, as the news media chronicled a failed attack on our Democracy and its Capitol.

How it was planned, who was involved, need to be uncovered, examined and dealt with in such a way as to hasten our late emergence into the 2000 Millennium. Few of us will survive in a new Civil War where mass destruction is possible.

The NFL: Where Billions are at Stake

The forests of California, Oregon and Washington are being decimated. But pro football is back, so who cares?

The West Coast is suffering a growing crisis. The death toll has yet to be totaled, because health effects from breathing this particular toxic air are yet to be estimated. While people in the rest of the country have been paying attention to Covid-19, the West Coast is showing the world a climate-change fact of life. Fires are decimating Western forests and air quality far out West has turned beyond unhealthy.

That’s why I have been running my air conditioner constantly, even when the temperature outside never makes it above 70. Longview, Washington is on the northern periphery of the Western air-quality crisis, and my A/C recycles high-quality air inside the apartment, keeping bad air out.

The adjectives used to determine air quality are as follows: 0-50 is good, 51-100 moderate, 101-150 unhealthy for sensitive groups, 151-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above hazardous. Longview today registered 384; Tualatin, near where my cousin lives, 411.

Turn your attention, please, to San Francisco, where the NFL dictated the 49ers play football against the Arizona Cardinals today. Hmmm, the City by the Bay’s air-quality number was 193, qualifying as “unhealthy.”

But deep down why should we care? These players are being paid handsomely, right? So why not send weekend warriors into the smoke-filled confines of Levi’s Stadium, amid “lucky” ticket holders who can see the made-for-TV spectacle in person (minus the commercials, of course) and simultaneously fill their lungs with carcinogens? What better way to convince a bored, quarantined America that it’s good to play outdoors under “unhealthy” conditions.

Yes, as long as football graces American TV screens in the fall, everything’s okay. Just like we can depend upon the CDC for the most accurate guidance going forward. Perhaps some of football’s millionaires can give us more guidance after smashing their noggins against one another for three hours.

Today is no longer Sunday, but please pray for America.

Graham’s Granddaughter Speaks Out

When I was 5 years old, my mother, Thelma, took me to a Billy Graham “rally” in a Hialeah, Fla. auditorium that turned into a commitment to faith. Attendees were urged to respond to the words of Jesus Christ and be “born again.”

I stood up as tall as I could, and in that packed auditorium where Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows held sway, I pledged to live my life as a Christian.

Today, I read the words that Graham’s granddaughter, Jerushah Duford, set forth earlier this week in USA Today, and they resonate in my soul. Considering I’m 50 miles north of the epicenter of last night’s killing of a so-called “Patriot’s Prayer” counter-protester, it’s appropriate that I reaffirm what she wrote.

“Our president continues to perpetuate an us-versus-them narrative, yet almost all of our church leaders say nothing,” Duford writes.

“Trump has gone so far as to brag about his plans, accomplishments and unholy actions toward the marginalized communities I saw my grandfather love and serve.

“He held a Bible, something so sacred to all of us, yet he treated that Bible with a callousness that would offend anyone intimately familiar with the words inside it. … The entire world has watched the term ‘evangelical’ become synonymous with hypocrisy and disingenuousness.”

Signaling a prospective religious war, this is a shot across the bow. Pray for America.

Fighting for Women’s Rights

Nancy Pelosi’s appearance on Steven Colbert’s show Wednesday night reminded its audience to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. The 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution exactly one century ago, and Pelosi’s message reminded me what I once accomplished for women.

Perhaps the unfairness of how men publicly denigrated women was why I got involved. Forty-two years ago in South Florida, I ran for president of the Greater Miami Junior Chamber of Commerce, otherwise known as the Jaycees. I had turned 35 years old, become a senior member of the organization, served as the chapter vice president, and was in line to rule over its civic contributions for a year before becoming a “greybeard”; i.e. ineligible for full membership.

Something was blowing in the political winds, however. Before the election of new officers could take place, members of the National Organization for Women presented a compelling argument to have women participate fully. I was moved by their pleas, and I ran on the platform of giving women the right to vote.

I didn’t overcome the opposition nor win the election, but future peers at The Miami Herald paid me the ultimate honor on August 11, 1978. Calling me a “suffragist,” using the above photo that a Herald photographer took mere days prior, the morning metropolitan newspaper recognized my effort to admit women to the organization so they could be fully recognized as voting members. The story ran on the front page of its Living Today section. And NOW recognized me with a Certificate of Appreciation that I hold dear.

Then the “snapper to the capper.” Six years later, on Independence Day, 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling that Jaycees nationwide must accept women as full voting members. Just imagine my elation to an event George Orwell never proclaimed regarding a future world.

I saved a copy of that article (of course), scanned the deteriorating newsprint and would be happy to share it via email. Because the Herald’s stories are subject to copyright protection and I do not seek permission yet to print that article, I abide by legal requirements accorded to the copyright holder. If you want to see and/or read it, send me a comment, or write to mason@masonloika.com.

This August, we celebrate a milestone. By telling my story of recognition, I acknowledge what one person of conviction can accomplish.

You don’t have to be a woman to support women’s rights. But consider the flip side when men take up the fight. By definition, championing women’s rights is the most chauvinistic thing a member of the male gender can do. But I don’t hear any women complaining about chivalry. Perhaps it’s a necessary evil?

Donald Trump Mouths Off Against Immigrants

The silly season is well under way.

In a bid to have their egos and “values” stroked on another televised episode of “America’s Politicians and How They Got That Way,” seventeen candidates for President of these United States threw their straw hats into the Republican ring earlier this year.

While shedding themselves of Rick Perry and Scott Walker, one of their ilk made an extraordinary mess.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. Reuters

Trump Is Not a Happy Guy

Donald Trump, emboldened on past celebrity exposure, became the Koch Brothers’ pandering ringleader by riling the masses with outrageous epithets toward Mexican-American citizens, while Jeb Bush forthrightly held his temper.  I don’t need to requote “The Donald” here, except to express astonishment over his latest salvo: He says his Republican rivals plan to start the next world war over Syria.  Where do they plan to recruit soldiers: from immigrants?

On this website is “Virgil’s Story,” where anyone can deduce that Virgil’s contribution to my ancestry was a rabbi’s ingenious ruse enabling him to slip by U.S. immigration gendarmes on Ellis Island.  You can read it here.  My father’s later fame to claim was that of a renowned big-band musician; he’s one of many immigrants who excelled once arriving on these shores.

What would Donald Trump do with everyone whose descent evolved from ploys similar to my father’s?  Would he subject our nation of immigrants to checking, double-checking and eventual deportation?

Of course not.  That’s why I see the aftermath of Trump’s obnoxious mouth as a sign of the silly season.

Is Marco Rubio looking aghast at the photographer?
Marco Rubio at a political rally

Anti-Communism as a hammer

But why hasn’t Marco Rubio raised holy hell about Trump?  As the photogenic son of an immigrant Cuban, certainly he sees behind the inherent danger of the “blame game,” in which politicians conjure up scapegoats to explain tough financial times, i.e. targeting immigrants whose ethnic experience differs vastly from Europeans.

How would Rubio answer the question, “Do Cubans think of themselves as better than Mexicans?

That’s not a stupid question, either.  In Miami for 50 years, I became familiar with Cuban social circles ever since Cubanos left their island nation to avoid political persecution.  Their exodus eventually transformed politics in Miami, and their brain-trust Latin Builders Association became South Florida’s money machine.

On their way up the ladder, Cubans pushed African-Americans to the back of the bus once again.  I wonder if Cuban exile politics finds it expedient to expose the whole country to unfair categorizations of Mexican-Americans.  When I lived in Southern California in the late 1960s and early ’70s, I discovered Mexican immigrants to be mostly deferential and anxious to stay below the radar.

Only when an undocumented immigrant commits an unspeakable crime does the reputation of that ethnicity become viral.  I say, “None of these accusations and innuendos is good for the country.”  Intolerant generalizations of ethnic groups divide us, and dash the concept of nobility against the rocks of vile behavior.

The Travesty of Republicanism

Republicans of the 21st Century are so dissimilar from their forefathers that they resemble miscreants who will do and say anything to get elected, while pursuing hidden agendas from wealthy contributors who try to remain masked by PACs (political action committees).

As a youngster, “I liked Ike.”  I remember when conservatism was synonymous with “conservation.”  Republicans then espoused protecting the environment; these days, I hear none of them embracing the inescapable fact that global warming is real.

What I despise most is that today’s Republicans have turned this country into a one-party system.  I believe we deserve a choice, but how can anyone deny the rising seas that are a direct result of climate change caused by human activity?

We can only laugh when the sideshow of politics borders on the absurd.  Let’s hope someone steps forward – besides a Democrat – who cares enough about this country to inspire a serious conversation.  Only then will we be able to stop laughing at this train wreck of a long-running stupid, silly season.