Thinkerfromiowa's Blog

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The Forgotten Man

The Forgotten Man

Hello, everyone.

I live in Western Colorado,  and I get BYUTV on my cable system.  There is one program that I never miss, and that is “Music and the Spoken Word,” which features the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  A very gifted speaker named Lloyd Newell always gives a meditation during the program.   This program is in effect my church.  There is no “praise music,” or preachers ranting and belching about “Jesus” or “The Blood” or “the Cross.”  It is just high-quality music and a meditation by a guy who could just as easily be sitting across the table from me, talking in a normal, friendly voice.

On yesterday’s (10/30) program, Lloyd gave a meditation titled “The Promise of Better Days.  Here it is:

“Maynard Dixon, a prolific artist from the previous century, is best known for his vibrant paintings of the American West. He spent much of his life roaming the western United States, which he loved so much, capturing on canvas images of the peoples and places he saw. But during the Great Depression in the 1930s, Dixon’s artistic focus changed: he painted a series of images depicting striking and displaced workers. One of those paintings, Forgotten Man, captured the poignant feelings of so many people during that time.

“A man sits on the curb with his head down and his back against a wall of anonymous legs. The people behind him seem to pass by quickly—they are engaged in life, purposeful, going somewhere. But this person, this forgotten man, sits unseen, cast aside and ignored by those around him. He seems dejected, worn out, exhausted with life.

“Maynard Dixon’s painting has a certain timelessness about it. Who has not felt lonely or forgotten at times? At times it seems like everyone else is moving forward, productive and successful. Meanwhile, we may feel that the world is passing us by—that we are forgotten.

“At such times, it’s helpful to remember that no matter how we are treated by others, we are never forgotten by God. He has placed good things in our lives that can brighten our outlook if we will only seek them. He has sent us here with a purpose—to bring goodness to our little part of the world. We can start by realizing that we aren’t the only ones who may feel forgotten. We can notice the unnoticed. We can strive to do something each day—perhaps some little thing—that helps lift someone who is down. We can do our part to help ensure that there are no forgotten men or forgotten women.

“If we can do this, the seed of hope will begin to take root and grow in our heart. Most often, it won’t be a quick or dramatic change, but in small and simple ways, the light of hope and the promise of better days will come.

“-Lloyd D. Newell”

When I listened to this, there was a part that stuck out above the rest.  Here are those 2 paragraphs:

“A man sits on the curb with his head down and his back against a wall of anonymous legs. The people behind him seem to pass by quickly—they are engaged in life, purposeful, going somewhere. But this person, this forgotten man, sits unseen, cast aside and ignored by those around him. He seems dejected, worn out, exhausted with life.

”Maynard Dixon’s painting has a certain timelessness about it. Who has not felt lonely or forgotten at times? At times it seems like everyone else is moving forward, productive and successful. Meanwhile, we may feel that the world is passing us by—that we are forgotten. “

What Lloyd Newell says is true; we all feel neglected and forgotten at times.  That is just human nature.  But what is sad is that there is a lot of truth behind those feelings.  A lot of us ARE forgotten.  That is especially true of us seniors or someone who has lost a spouse.  One unforgettable episode of the program “Little House on the Prairie” involves a woman who is so desperate to see her own children that she fakes her own funeral to get them to come home.

And in real life, when one loses a spouse, the spouse’s family quite often treats the widow or widower as though he or she does not exist.  People whom one was once so close to no longer want anything to do with them.  That happened to my mother when my stepfather died, and it happened to me also when my late wife Carol died.

It isn’t just individuals who are that way.  Nations are as well.  This country has day after day after day throughout the year when the veterans and service people are honored.  But what about those who couldn’t serve because of physical problems?  What about the civilians who kept the home fires burning and the nation humming while the guys and girls went off to war?  Don’t those people count in the nation’s estimation?  Apparently not, because there is no recognition of them or honoring them in the nation’s year.

Several years ago, one of the phone companies had an unforgettable commercial.  In it, an older guy was talking about his boyhood friend and how the other boy’s mother called them “Pete and repeat” and how he was godfather to his friend’s daughter.  He apparently hadn’t talked to his friend in years.  The commercial went on, and at the end, it showed the old guy on the phone, laughing and talking.  He had apparently reconnected with his boyhood friend.

This happens all the time.  As we live our lives, our significant others change and the once significant ones are exchanged for the current ones.  There is one thing that Facebook has done that is totally worthy, and that is that it has made it possible to reconnect with the once-significant people in our lives. In my case, I have gotten rejoined with several members of my high-school class, and I even got rejoined with a former student of mine whom I loved deeply when she was in my classes.  I also have been able to be joined with some very dear cousins whom I love dearly.

But relationships can go south, and we can be forgotten once again.  At one time, I was a raging Liberal firebrand.  My ex-student got rejoined at this time, and she was a raging Liberal also.  Every mail run or every Facebook visit, there would be something from her.  One time, we were in a back-and-forth, and I set up to print the exchange and it ran to 3 pages!  Roxy and I were drinking out of the same glass.

But that all changed when I got home from my month-long trip around and across the country 2 years ago.  I had seen and experienced much, and I was not the same person.  Where I once worshiped Barack Obama, I now vilified him.  I found good, decent, wonderful people, and I could not help loving them.  I went from being a raging Liberal firebrand to being a strong Moderate who leaned Republican, and that switch doomed my friendship with my former student.  She now has little to nothing to do with me, and I am again the forgotten man.

Yes, we all can become The Forgotten Man through no fault of ourselves.  But, as Lloyd Newell said, these times of being forgotten can lead to the promise of better times.  We have to believe that.  We MUST believe it if we want to keep our sanity.

You all have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

 

 

 

 

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

No Man Is An Island

No Man Is an Island

No man is an island
No man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me
Each man’s grief is my own

We need one another
So I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend

I saw the people gather
I heard the music start
The song that they were singing
Is ringing in my heart

No man is an island
Way out in the blue
We all look to the one above
For our strength to renew


Hello, everyone.

I first heard this song almost 60 years ago in a high-school assembly. I have no idea who wrote it – web pages do not like to give the names of composers and lyricists – but whoever wrote it gets the honor. It is better than anything that I could come up with.

In 1624, English poet John Donne wrote a series of meditations about himself and his suffering from typhus, enteritis, or some other unknown disease. Possibly the best known meditation is Meditation XVIII, which contains the following paragraph:

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the SeaEurope is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.[22] [Donne’s original spelling and punctuation]

I’ll put it in 2016 form:

No man is an Island, entirely of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a Mannor (?) of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

(That was harder than I thought it would be. And I have a Masters in English Education!!)

No Man Is An Island. Think about what Donne is saying. As much as we may want to be individual entities and be all by ourselves, we cannot do so, because that is not the way that society was designed. Each of us was designed to be a cog in that machine called Society. And Society needs each of us to do his part – doctors to treat our physical conditions and diseases; lawyers to guarantee that we get justice; police to enforce the laws and keep us safe; factory workers who make the products that we use; military people to defend the country; pastors and theologians to teach us about God; entreprenneurs to create jobs and invent ways to improve society; farmers to provide our food; millionaires and billionaires to fund the entreprenneurs; scientists to teach us about the physical world and also to invent vaccines and other means to improve our lives; musicians and movie stars to entertain us; and teachers to educate us. Just as we cannot survive on our own, neither can these professions survive alone. Every one of them – and us – is needed for society to survive.

We are in the middle of a presidential race that could determine whether this country survives or not. One of the candidates – Donald Trump – has spoken many times of how we all are in this “America” thing together, and how we need to roll up our sleeves, join hands, and work to make this country great again. Another candidate – Bernie Sanders – says “NO!!” The only people that matter to him are the people in the slums and ghettos who contribute nothing to building this country. He, like all Liberals, have a hatred of the police and the people in the military. He and his party have come nowhere close to seeing the truth in Donne’s paragraph.

Fifty years ago, Simon & Garfunkel had a hit song that was the total antithesis to Donne’s words. The song was “I Am A Rock” by Paul Simon, and here are the last half of the second verse and the entirety of the fourth verse:

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
. . . .
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have news for you. For a lot of years, this song was my anthem. It stated my philosophy of life to a T. I was hurt so many times by women that I had decided that I never wanted a woman in my life, kind of like Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady.” I avoided people as much as I could because I simply could not handle any more pain or ridicule because of my physical handicap.

Then I met my Ginny, and she dragged me back into society. We married, only to have her die after too short a time. I then met and married Carol, who had the hobby of telling me what a wonderful guy I was. We had 20 incredible years together and then I lost her also.

Those two dear ladies showed me that I belonged in society and that society needed my little cog to run smoothly.

I am no longer a rock or an island. I have essentially learned the lesson that John Donne had to teach. I admit that I have some rough edges. I am not a Christian, so the Christians want nothing to do with me. I support Donald Trump, so a lot of Republicans don’t like me. I definitely have conservative ideas, so my former Liberal friends want nothing to do with me. But I am fine with all of that. I am a “clod of Europe,” as Donne would put it. I am ME! And I am doing my very little bit to not only help the machine of Society run smoothly, but also to help Donald Trump make this country great once again.

Thank you for bearing with me in this diary. May each of you have a great day tomorrow.

Bill

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Music, Politics, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

Five Truths That Liberals Hate

Five Truths That Liberals Hate

Hello, everyone.

A year ago this month, I took my huge Amtrak trip across this country.  That trip opened my eyes to a lot of things, including the fact that the Conservative philosophy possessed many truths that I could no longer deny.  Thus my personal philosophy and political outlook did a total shift towards the Right.

Not long after my trip, I found a post on my Facebook wall with the above title as its title.   The URL for the article is http://americanvision.org/3078/five-truths-that-liberals-hate/

Here are the truths as stated in the article.

  1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
  2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
  4. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
  5. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Let’s look at these statements with a little more depth.

  1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

You know this is true and I know that it’s true, but apparently Bernie Sanders doesn’t know it.  Or else he DOES know it but cannot embrace or accept it because if he did, his run for the White House would be torpedoed.  But it is a known fact that you cannot legislate morality or prosperity into law.  Because if you try to legislate one certain class into prosperity, you are going to legislate another group OUT OF prosperity and possibly into poverty.

  1. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving

This is very true.  And this is one major argument against the concept of “income equality.”  It makes NO sense for one group to sit on their dead butts and rake in the dough while another group works its backside off and sees no gain in response to its hard work.  Not only are the lazy ones not given any reason to work and provide for themselves, those who do work see no rationale for doing their jobs or even going to work themselves because the proceeds that they earn from their work go to those who have no desire to work.

  1. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

Bernie Sanders is essentially a Socialist, and the idea of the state taking from those who have to give to those who have not is one of the basic tenets of Socialism.  During the Cold War, this idea of the state confiscating personal property was one of the many complaints about Communism.  Do we REALLY want this country to sink this low?

  1. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.

And the Republicans know this.  They know that letting the fox into the chicken coop is the first step in the death of this country.  That is why they have unofficially adopted the phrase “I want my country back” as their battle cry for this election cycle.  Indeed, I believe that if Bernie Sanders or any other Democrat wins the top prize, this country could well cease to exist as we know it before 2020.

  1. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

The Republicans know this as well.  In order to multiply wealth, the wealthy must be free to apply their wealth towards business expansion, which in turn leads to jobs expansion.  You cannot multiply wealth by giving it, hand over fist with no questions asked, to the unproductive class in this country.

These five statements MUST be first and foremost in our minds when we cast our ballots in 2016.

May each of you have a truly great day.

Bill

 

 

 

September 26, 2015 Posted by | Life, Politics | , , | 1 Comment

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

Hello, everyone.

Back in the early 70s, Black comedian Flip Wilson made the phrase “the devil made me do it” a byword in this country.  If anyone needed an alibi for something he said or something he did, he had the perfect one in Wilson’s phrase.  Only God knows how much and for what the devil received the blame.

This phrase crossed my mind the other day, thanks to a Facebook comment I received.  Here is the last sentence of the e-mail:  “With this message I am unfriending you on FaceBook and hope to never hear another word from you again.”

What prompted this outburst?  Did I say anything unkind to him?  Did I smear his family or his reputation?  Did I try to start a flame war with him?  No.  My sin was that in a couple of comments and statuses, I expressed unhappiness with Amtrak and a dissatisfaction with Barak Obama and the job he was doing.

Or consider this.  Back from February, 1972, until June, 1974, I taught at a private Christian boarding high school in Iowa.  Around 2 ½ years ago, I got reconnected with a former student of mine on Facebook.  I liked this girl very much and we were fairly close at the school.  She seemed quite happy that we got reconnected, and we used to do long back-and-forths on Facebook.  But now she has nothing to do with me.  My sin?  I am not a Barak Obama worshiper.  Indeed, we had a rather acrimonious exchange on FB the other day.

This has really eaten at me for the past few days.  No one wants to lose a friend or family member?  What happened to these people?

The answer is not all that difficult.  In September of last year, I took a month-long trip on Amtrak around the country.  I had experiences and saw things that changed my life and my thinking completely.   And I no longer bought the Liberal bill of goods.

I will contrast this with a couple of my cousins.  They are both fine women with fine families.  And they are all Conservatives.  Before my epiphany last September, I was a firebrand Liberal.  I devoured the Crooks & Liars and Daily Kos websites and flooded Facebook with statuses where I posted articles from the sites.  While I was enjoying the friendship of my former student, I was hurting a lot of people who were dear to me.  But my trip saved those relationships, and now I have a relationship with a dear cousin in Texas that I would never allow anything to harm.

Consider both situations – the people who want nothing to do with me because I am not an Obama worshiper, and the people whom I hurt deeply, but still love and accept me because I am family.  Were they acts of free will?  Or to quote Flip Wilson, did “the devil make them do it”?  I would say yes.

To be sure, there are reactions that we have no control over.  Someone who has been in combat will react to sounds like a balloon popping, a car backfiring, or Fourth of July fireworks.  He is reacting out of his experiences.  Some reactions are inborn and we cannot control them.  While some boys carry insects and worms in their pockets, I loathed and detested them and wanted nothing to do with them, and I still feel that way.  People hate alcohol because they know of the harm that it can do to people and families.  And still others hate loud noises and react accordingly.  I was that way as a child, and I still am.

But there are other reactions that we CAN control.  Those are the ones that “the devil makes us do.”  My cousins could have disowned me, and now I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had.  But my cousin Nikki in particular has been most gracious.  She has never held all of my “before” actions against me, so far as I know, and she has welcomed me into her home, and even introduced me to some wonderful people who accept me, warts and all.  This was an act of will on her part and “the devil” – in her case, God – “made” her do it.

As for the Obama worshipers who no longer want anything to do with me, that also is an act of will, and “the devil” is making them do it.  One of the lubricants that make the machine of human relationships run smoothly is that of agreeing to disagree.  This concept does not declare that someone is right and the other person is wrong; it simply means that two people can disagree on a particular point, but that that disagreement is not great enough to rupture the relationship.  Or it means that the relationship is so important to the two people involved that no disagreement or anything else is going to be allowed to destroy that relationship.

In my exchange with my former student yesterday, a couple of times I made the statement that Barak Obama is not worth destroying a friendship over.  She never responded to that, either time.  Thus, I am beginning to deal with the fact that the relationship and friendship are both gone.  If so, that is an act of will on her part, and she is to be pitied because her world does not allow any dissention from the party line.  All of us are like that, to a degree, but most of us think that there are other things that matter more, and we are able to exercise our will to not let something that is important to us be damaged or destroyed by inconsequentials.

So yes, “the devil made me do it.”  And that can work for both good and bad.

Have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

 

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion | | Leave a comment

Good Luck, Jeb and Chris!

Good Luck, Jeb and Chris!

Hello, everyone.

Jeb Bush has said that he is going to consider a run for the Presidency in 2016. I hope that he decides to run.

I have considered the option of voting for Chris Christie in 2016, until “Bridgegate” arose. I have some thoughts on that later on.

It is no secret that the Democrats have all but anointed Hillary Rodham Clinton as the 2016 nominee. And that is why I am giving the Republicans a second – and third – look.

I can’t bring myself to support Hillary Clinton, much less vote for her. I do have my reasons. First, to be totally upfront, I have my issues with women as a whole. I have not been treated kindly by women during my lifetime, and I am wary and not trusting of them. I have had people tell me that “Women are not all alike,” but my life experience has been the opposite. So yes, I do not support Hillary because she is a woman.

But I have other reasons. First is the issue of leadership
experience. Bush and Christie bring something to the campaign that Clinton cannot, and that is gubernatorial experience. Yes, Clinton was Secretary of State, but is leading a cabinet department the same as leading a state? I don’t think so. In my opinion, a president should come from the ranks of state governors. There are exceptions, of course. Truman was a Missouri businessman who made it to the Oval Office when FDR died, and he handled the presidency quite well. JFK and LBJ went to the White House from the Senate, and they were both quite capable as President. But all in all, I don’t believe that a department secretary is as capable as a governor in leading the country.

Second is the matter of Clinton’s being Secretary of State. How large a role exactly will foreign affairs play in her presidency? Will she be focused on this country and its needs, or will she put her focus on foreign affairs? And in that light, how willing will she be to commit American forces to foreign conflicts, especially those conflicts in which the United States has no vested interest? And if she does so, will she make a unilateral decision to do so like Bush II did in Iraq and Afghanistan and Reagan did in a variety of areas, or will she go the route of the Constitution and seek a declaration of war from Congress?

The Democrats were hell-bent-for-leather to make history by
nominating and electing the first Black presidential candidate in 2008, and they are equally hell-bent-for-leather to make history again by nominating and electing the first female President in 2016. But in my opinion, seeking to make history is not a valid reason for putting a person in the Oval Office, especially when there is a chance that the country will be harmed by doing so.

And the country HAS been harmed by the Obama presidency, in my opinion. Exhibit One is Healthcare.gov. Sure, the website is functioning now, but at what cost in cash, plus the number of Americans who will have to wait until the next open enrollment this fall to get insurance? Exhibit Two is the job situation. Obama campaigned on creating jobs and keeping American jobs in America, but he has not succeeded. The infrastructure in this country is in woeful need of repair, and jobs programs to correct these situations could have been created, much like FDR did in 1933. But Obama did not do so. Exhibit Three is that infrastructure crisis I just mentioned. A lot of people still remember that bridge collapse in Minneapolis several years. Luckily, that bridge was over land and there was no loss of life by drowning. But I read the other day on the Net that there are over 80,000 at-risk bridges in this country, and some of them DO go over water. Clearly the infrastructure needs repair, but Obama isn’t doing it. Exhibit Four is Afghanistan. Obama was VERY quick to take credit for the murder of Osama bin Laden, but that murder has not really had any effect on the war in Afghanistan. Why was Obama incapable of creating a plan to bring the boys and girls home from there sooner? Can we afford to dump treasure and human lives down that sewer any more?

Many of the problems I mentioned above are state-oriented, and a governor would know how to approach these problems. I am not sure that a former Secretary of State would have such knowledge.

There is one person in the Democratic Party who I am convinced is capable of facing these problems and working to find solutions for them, and that person is Senator Bernie Sanders. It would be a joy to be able to vote for him. But the Democrats are determined to put Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, come hell or high water, and I just cannot support that.

So that leaves Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Christie, of course, is tainted by “Bridgegate.” But I can’t help wondering if that is a legitimate scandal. Numbers had been showing that Christie would have given Clinton a run for her money, and I have wondered if “Bridgegate” was a scheme by the Democrats to destroy, or at least neuter, Christie as a viable opponent. Only time will tell.

So right now, Jeb Bush is my only hope. And barring anything totally unpredictable now, he will have my vote in November, 2016.

Everyone have a great day.

Bill

April 27, 2014 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

RIP, JFKJ

RIP, JFK

Hello, everyone

If anyone studies history to any degree, they will find that in each generation, there is a signature event that identifies that generation. I was born in 1942. Therefore, the signature event for my grandparents was the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand; that was the incident that triggered World War I. For my parents, their event was the bombing of Pearl Harbor; that was the event that got this country involved in the Second Great Unpleasantness. For my children, it would likely be January 28, 1986, the day that the space shuttle Challenger exploded. For my grandchildren – and Republicans everywhere, regardless of age – it was September 11, 2001.

But for me, it was November 22, 1963. That was the day that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

“Where were you on the night of January 16th?” A line from a classic movie. But it is also a line spoken in relation to these defining moments. Where was I on November 22, 1963? I was a senior at the former Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, carrying a double major of secondary education and Modern Languages. I was on my way to an Educational Psychology class. On the way, I met a buddy of mine who was one of my roommates during my freshman year. Tom Friel gave me the news. I proceeded to my class. The class was taught by Dr. Frank Tate, a large man who was almost as large as Rush Limbaough – but who had a far more pleasant personality and attitude about others. Dr. Tate always had a laugh lying just under the surface, and we laughed frequently in his class. But this day, when we assembled the class, he was crying profusely. He said that under the circumstances, the appropriate thing for us to do was to adjourn the class, and we did so. Dr. Frank Tate was the last person on earth that I thought I would ever see cry, but he cried that day, and we class members were crying right along with him.

A student’s senior year in college can be a heady thing, and mine definitely was. I was in the last stage of becoming a teacher. I was old enough to vote. A year from then, I would be taking my place in the world. And – most significant to me! – I had my first serious girl friend. She never would let me kiss her, but that is another story for another time.

We all took President Kennedy’s murder hard. We felt that he was one of us – someone young, with a vision for the future. We respected Truman and Eisenhower and other people of that generation, but to us, they were “old folks” who didn’t know us young whippersnappers, let alone understand us. They were of the generation of war, and they did not – or could not – understand why we younger people had a desire to live in a world of peace. Kennedy also fought in World War II, but he DID understand us; and for that reason, we all bought in to him. When the Bay of Pigs invasion crashed, many of us young freshman pups talked about going to Cuba and doing it over and getting it right this time.

We weren’t alone in our love and adoration of Kennedy. Most of the country took his murder very hardly, just as we young bucks did. Indeed, on this anniversary of the murder, the Washington post published a recap of that weekend, showing how the paper covered that weekend 50 years ago. Here is the URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2013/11/19/our-president-is-dead-how-the-post-reacted-to-john-f-kennedys-assassination/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

But, to be sure, not all of America felt the same way about the martyred young president. There were people who absolutely despised him. Indeed, it is a matter of record that J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, despised BOTH John AND Robert Kennedy, to the degree that people held opinions that the FBI was behind the assassination. And – Texas being Texas – there was a group of conservatives in the Dallas area who also despised Kennedy – to the degree that earlier on that fatal week, they had taken out an ad in the Dallas morning newspaper that reviled JFK. The ad was in the form of an FBI Wanted poster. Here is the URL for the ad and an article about it: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/11/15/jfk_assassination_flyer_distributed_in_dallas_by_edwin_walker_s_group_before.html

That ad got the people responsible for it an examination from the Warren Commission. However, the Commission was sold on the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in killing the president, so the Conservatives and their ad disappeared either under a rock or into the ether.

So the weekend ground on until the climax of the interment in Arlington on Monday. Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald – an act that I honestly cheered – and the TV networks showed a black-framed picture of Kennedy with his name and dates on the screen while Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s #6 in B Minor were played over and over. We all cried for the dead president and prayed avidly for the new president, that God would guide him and endow him with the same amount of wisdom that JFK had shown in his leading of this country.

There is an old standard titled “What a Difference a Day Makes.” So does a half-century really make a difference? Not really. Republicans despise the young black president as much in 2013 as they despised the young Catholic president in 1963. Obama champions the gays in 2013 just like Kennedy championed the blacks in 1963, and the Republicans hated and hate both men for those championings. And Texas is still Texas – just as full of loonies, crazies, and whackjobs in 2013 as it was in 1963. So in reality, very little has changed.

So eventually Kennedy was buried and the world moved on. LBJ coasted to a landslide victory in 1964, only to decide not to run for re-election in 1968 because of opposition to the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon won that election, only to be forced from office in August, 1974, because of the Watergate Scandal. In the 1990s, we had a little sip of Camelot with another young, vibrant, intellectual president named Bill Clinton, who was also as deeply hated an despised by the Republicans as were JFK and Barak obama.

And life goes on in the personal realm as well. I received my B. A. the following June and completed two years of graduate study after my second year of teaching. I pursued theological education in a later period of my life and essentially hold two Masters Degrees. I taught for 5 ½ years – three in the public schools and 2 ½ years in a misbegotten Christian high school. I have worked also as a tutor, a direct-care giver in a facility for the developmentally disabled, and as an office manager and database manager and data man for a non-profit literacy program in northwest Denver. Plus I had a long and happy career as a church musician. So I have known both good and bad times since the Kennedy assassination, just like the country has.

And oh yes! I have had ladies cross my path who were quite willing to let me kiss them. In fact, I had a wonderful life with two of them as my wives.

Yes, indeed, life does go on. Have yourselves a great day and wonderful holiday season.

Bill

November 24, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , | Leave a comment

The Cost of Idiocy

The Cost of Idiocy

Hello, everyone.

Crooks & Liars has an item on its front page titled “ Ted Koppel Says the Terrorists Have Won.”

http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/ted-koppel-says-terrorists-have-won

The concept comes from a op-ed that Ted Koppel wrote for the Wall Street Journal, which is dated this past August 6. Here is the URL<: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324653004578650462392053732.html

Koppel’s premise is one which countless liberals and progressives, myself included, have been saying for the pat 12 years: The so-called “Terrorist Attacks” and “War on Terror” could not have come without the Republicans being in power and a president of George W. Bush’s capability being in the White House.

I am not going to digest and then regurgitate Koppel’s article. I will, instead, quote from the Crooks & Liars comments and respond to those. Here we go.

Comment # 1: “The terrorists won when we got the Patriot Act and went to Iraq.”

Absolutely! Bush’s response to the attacks was worlds apart from FDR’s response to Pearl Harbor. First, FDR got a declaration of war against Japan from Congress, and THEN he took such action as he felt was needed to execute that war. Bush and the Republicans, on the other hand, enacted the Patriot Act WITHOUT the benefit of any Constitutional sanction of any kind. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were simply waged without declaration. By getting us to abandon the legitimate protocols for our actions, the “terrorists” won the war in fact.

Comment # 2: “…The attack on 9 11 was more successful than Bin Laden could have even imagined . Bush , Cheney and Republicons picked up right where he left off.

Absolutely again. In essence, this was my point in the paragraph above. It is said that Bush once referred to the Constitution as “a goddamned piece of paper.” Whether he actually said this or not is not certain. But the way that he responded to the “terrorist attacks” definitely confirms to such a philosophy that Bush is accused of holding.

Comment5 # 3: “…I have said exactly this since watching the towers go down; the US is going to become a police state and it will be 15 years before we start to recover.

“I knew at that moment the terrorists had won with the gang running the government.

Again, Absolutely! Lest we forget, Al Gore won the election by winning the popular vote. But as we all know, unfortunately this does not guarantee election because the “Founding Fathers” imposed on this country a mechanism that is older than the Middle Ages — the Electoral College. The electoral vote was so close that the Republicans were able to force an end to the vote count in Florida and persuaded the conservative Supreme Court to anoint their boy as president, rather than the actual winner, Al Gore. As the commenter said, this action by the Republicans was enough to guarantee that the “terrorists” had indeed won the “War on Terror.”

One other interesting fact: Dick Cheney did not permit any kind or contest to select Bush’s running mate. He anointed himself with that role and both Bushes — Elder and Younger — acquiesced to Cheney’s decision.

Comment # 4: “Well, they knew enough to wait until a weak-minded wingnut idiot got into the White House.

Who can argue with that? Certainly not me! For the record, there was an attempt to bomb the World Trade Center early in Bill Clinton’s presidency, but Clinton was more than up to the challenge. He did respond, and the “terrorists” learned that Bill Clinton was not a man to be messed with. The Republicans knew this as well, but they were nowhere close to the intellectual caliber of the “terrorists/” They continually jacked around with Clinton and his Administration, but they got nowhere. The “terrorists” knew far better, and as a result we had eight relatively peaceful years during the Clinton presidency.

Comment # 5: “…While I still have many questions regarding the events of 9/11, Ted has this right. By provoking the disproportionate spending on military measures, while at the same time passing knee-jerk legislation curtailing individuals rights, the terrorists have won.

“The objective of terrorism is to instill terror within the psyche of its target. Considering the fear evident in, and dividing our country, I’d say the objective has been achieved.

Nothing more needs to be said on this pointy. We above a certain age remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. At that time, the Republicans derided JFK and insisted that we needed “a man” in the White House. What actually happened was that JFK stood eyeball-to-eyeball with Nikita S. Khrouschev over Russian missiles that had been delivered to Fidel Castro in Cuba. JFK did not blink; Khrouschev did, and the end result was that the missiles left Cuba.

What would have happened if we had had A MAN in the White House on 9/11/01? We’ll never knows because we did not have one. And we did not have A MAN in the White House on 9/11/09, and we won’t have one on 9/11/13 either. And the “terrorists” are aware of these facts. But what has helped hold things together was the fact that Obama had and has extremely capable people like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretaries of State. And they, more than anyone else, have been responsible for the uneasy peace, in spite of the Republicans’ war-mongering, that we have enjoyed during the Obama years.

Comment # 6: “From the first moment, we’ve been dancing to the lunatics’ tune. It’s unbelievable how completely they control this country.

But don’t lose sight of the fact that the “terrorists” could never have called the tune that this country dances to without the overt, welcome help of the Republicans.

Comment # 7: “That creepy guy on the right side of the screen is an endless stream of ‘straw man’ arguments. No wonder he is so confused.

That creepy guy on the right is Representative Michael McCaul, Republican — naturally! — from Texas, who is chairman of the “Homeland Security Committee. I tried to follow the logic of his line of nonsense, but my brain is killing me big time.

Ted Koppel made a powerful statement when he said, “Terrorism is the weapon with which the weak engage the strong.” FDR. got that point. JFK got it. Both Clintons — Bill and Hillary — get it. Bush II and Cheney didn’t get it, and Obama hasn’t shown me anything that indicates that he gets it. But if we had a leader like FDR, JFK, and Bill Clinton who got it, then I believe the “terrorists” would get religion VERY quick.

Have yourselves a good day tomorrow.

Bill

 

August 12, 2013 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

Stand Your Ground?

Stand Your Ground?

Hello, everyone.

Unless someone has been living in a universe far, far away, everyone knows by now that George Zimmerman has been exonerated of the killing of Trayvon Martin. In my personal opinion, “Not Guilty” was the only proper verdict that could have been rendered.

But I do not want to talk about the case per se. I wish to discuss the foundation on which the case was built – Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

The basic premise of the law is that everyone has the right to use deadly force if necessary to protect himself from physical assault or threat of same. For example, if someone found himself in a bad section of a city and was carrying a gun, he could use that gun to protect himself. And if he wounded or killed someone else in the course of doing just that, he would be exempt from prosecution for any crime due to the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Florida is not the only state with such a law. Texas has a similar law which goes further than the Florida law. In Texas, one can use deadly force to protect his property – both real and personal.

There have been two rather notorious cases involving the Texas law. The first one involved a guy who owned a pickup truck. He had fallen behind in his payments and the finance company was coming to seize the truck. The owner set up a stake-out on a public road and waited until the repo people had come for the truck. They came one night, in the middle of the night, and the guy was ready. As the truck passed him on the public road, the owner took a high-power rifle and shot the person behind the wheel. His defense at trial was that he was acting within the constraints of the law and was protecting his truck from being stolen. The jury agreed because they acquitted the truck owner of murder. The Property Protection Law saved the guy’s skin.

This was maybe 10 years ago. Earlier this year, another Texan was exonerated of murder under this same law. This time, a man had engaged a female escort from Craig’s List for whatever purpose. Now I know Craig’s List only by reputation, so I don’t know their policies or rules regarding situations like this particular one. But according to the media, the man apparently had asked the woman to engage in sex with him and she refused. The affair occurred in the parking lot of the apartment building where he lived. According to the media, when the woman refused his demands for sex, he hurried into his apartment for an assault rifle, and he pumped bullets into the car, killing the woman. He then apparently notified the police of what he did and informed them that he was acting under the “Protect Your Property” law by alleging that the woman had stolen his money. Again he was not punished for the killing.

Ever since Zimmerman shot Martin, Liberals have been braying about how awful the “Stand Your Ground” laws are and how then need desperately to be revoked. Not hardly! There is a good reason why the laws were passed in the first place, and I will discuss that shortly.

Adding spice to the stew are the comments of a couple of the jurors. A jury of six women, one of whom was not white, heard the case. Two of them have spoken up about the trial – those known a B37 and B29. B37 spoke first, and for all practical purposes, her comments have disappeared from the Internet. There is one brief 69-second video clip and that is about all there is of her. In my research, I found virtually no direct quotes from here. This sample from the Huffington Post is essentially how she is handled on the Net:

“Juror B37 said the actions of Zimmerman and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin both led to the teenager’s fatal shooting last year, but that Zimmerman didn’t actually break the law.

“…

“In the CNN interview, Juror B37 said she did not believe Zimmerman followed Martin because of his race. She said Zimmerman made some mistakes, but that she believed Martin struck Zimmerman first and that the neighborhood watch volunteer had a right to defend himself.

“Juror B37 said the jurors were initially divided on Zimmerman’s guilt, with three jurors believing he was guilty of either manslaughter or second-degree murder, but that the jury agreed to acquit the 29-year-old Zimmerman after more closely reviewing the law.”

In contrast, we have B29, known as Maddy, who is of Puerto Rican descent. Her comments are all over the Net. This clip from the New York Daily News will suffice:

“The only minority on the all-female jury in the Trayvon Martin case says George Zimmerman “got away with murder” when he fatally shot the black 17-year-old — the announcement “devastated” Martin’s mother.

“For myself, he’s guilty because the evidence shows he’s guilty,” the juror said.

“But the juror, a 36-year-old mother of eight who moved to Florida from Chicago five months before she was selected for the trial, says the panel had no choice but to acquit Zimmerman, based on the law and evidence.”

The key to all of this is the law. George Zimmerman acted within the constraints of the law, and because of this, acquittal was the only possible verdict.

Let’s consider the law. Why was it enacted? I believe personally that it arose out of the self-preservation instinct that God put into each of us. I have heard comments on TV nature shows that an animal which is caught in a trap will actually chew off one of its feet in order to survive. That self-preservation instinct is strong! It is also strong in us humans, and we will do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves and our property.

It is a know fact, established by piles of evidence, that non-white males have a proclivity to breaking the law, and sometimes doing so violently. Liberals love to carry on about people who are uncomfortable in the presence of non-whites, even going so far as to label such people as “racists.” Nothing could be further from the truth. People are afraid of such people because of the record of those people’s behavior. Watch any of the police shows on TruTV – “Cops,” “Bait Car,” “Most Daring ….,” etc. – and almost invariably the perpetrator of the crime is a Black male.

I have run into such behavior myself. I have had Black men eye me whenever I have pulled out my wallet to pay for something. I have worked with Black men whom I would not want to meet in a dark alley at midnight. A cousin of mine was visiting Chicago about 30 years ago. One night he was in the mood for some McDonald’s and he got on the el and went south. He got into a bad Black neighborhood, and two white cops who were eating at a McDonald’s escorted him to the el stop and got him on the right train to take him back downtown. I myself went into some bad Black Chicago neighborhoods as an encyclopedia salesman and wondered if I would walk out alive. Whether Liberals like it or not, non-white males DO have reputations that insist that one be alert in their presence.

One thing that the Liberals have never been able to explain satisfactorily are the wounds on Zimmerman’s head. They try to say that it is self-abuse, or that it is some other crazy thing, but they are located where it would have been hard – if not impossible – for Zimmerman to have inflicted those wounds on himself. Thus, one can presume that Martin did attack Zimmerman, and that Zimmerman responded by killing Martin. Such a killing would have been self-defense, and therefore within the constraints of the law.

There is one other possible reason that these laws are enacted, and it is what I would call the “Willie Horton Factor.” Here are segments from the Wikipedia article about Horton.

“Horton was born in Chesterfield, South Carolina. On October 26, 1974, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Horton and two accomplices robbed Joseph Fournier, a 17-year-old gas station attendant, and then fatally stabbed him 19 times after he had cooperated by handing over all of the money in the cash register. His body was dumped in a trash can. Fournier died from blood loss. Horton was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and incarcerated at the NortheasternCorrectionalCenter in Massachusetts.

“On June 6, 1986, he was released as part of a weekend furlough program but did not return. On April 3, 1987, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Horton twice raped a local woman after pistol-whipping, knifing, binding, and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the car belonging to the man he had assaulted. He was later shot and captured by Corporal Yusuf Muhammad (formerly named Joseph Bell) of the Prince George’s County Police Department after a pursuit. On October 20, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge, Vincent J. Femia, refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, “I’m not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again.”

“On April 18, 1996, Horton was transferred to the Jessup Correctional Institution (then called the Maryland House of Correction Annex), a maximum security prison in Jessup, Maryland, where he remains.

“Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts at the time of Horton’s release, and while he did not start the furlough program, he had supported it as a method of criminal rehabilitation. The State inmate furlough program was actually signed into law by Republican Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1972. However, under Sargent, convicted first-degree murderers were not eligible for furlough. After the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that this right extended to first-degree murderers, the Massachusetts legislature quickly passed a bill prohibiting furloughs for such inmates. However, in 1976, Dukakis vetoed this bill arguing it would ‘cut the heart out of efforts at inmate rehabilitation’….

[COMMENT: Now THAT is what I call being hard on crime! HAHAHAHAHA!  Thank God that Judge Femia was able to see what was going on in Massachusetts with Dukakis and Horton.]

“…

“Republicans picked up the Horton issue after Dukakis clinched the nomination. In June 1988, Republican candidate George H.W. Bush seized on the Horton case, bringing it up repeatedly in campaign speeches. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, said “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate.””

In an article in the Baltimore Sun, dated November 11, 1990, Roger Simon had this to say:

“Whether you were white or black or red or yellow, Willie Horton was your worst nightmare.

“Decent people had no defense against him. That was the most terrifying thing of all. Capture him and take away his knife and sentence him and put him behind bars — we pay taxes for these things! — and what would happen?

“He would be given a weekend furlough. Ten times, Michael Dukakis opened up the prison doors in Massachusetts and said to Willie Horton: “Go and sin no more.”

”Nine times Horton followed instructions. But the tenth time, he went to Maryland and broke into a home and tied a man to a joist in the basement, slashed his chest and stomach with a knife, then beat and raped his fiancee while she screamed and screamed and screamed.”

Was Michael Dukakis really THAT obtuse? I’m afraid that the answer is a resounding “YES!!” Dukakis’s stupidity and his loyalty to and love of Willie Horton literally planted the seed for the “Stand Your Ground” laws.

And here essentially was the water that allowed that seed to sprout and grow. This is from the Wikipedia article about Michael Dukakis:

“The issue of capital punishment came up in the October 13, 1988, debate between the two presidential nominees. Because she knew the Willie Horton issue would be brought up, Dukakis’s campaign manager, Susan Estrich, had prepared with Michael Dukakis an answer highlighting the candidate’s empathy for victims of crime, noting the beating of his father in a robbery and the death of his brother in a hit-and-run car accident. However, when Bernard Shaw, the moderator of the debate, asked Dukakis, “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis [his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” Dukakis replied, “No, I don’t, and I think you know that I’ve opposed the death penalty during all of my life”, and explained his stance. After the debate, many observers felt Dukakis’s answer lacked the passion one would expect of a person discussing a loved one’s rape and death. Many– including Dukakis himself– believe this, in part, cost him the election, as his poll numbers dropped from 49% to 42% nationally that night. Other commentators thought the question itself was unfair, in that it injected an irrelevant emotional element into the discussion of a policy issue and forced the candidate to make a difficult choice, while others believed that Dukakis dwelled too much on post-mortem reflections about this incident while the election was still in play in a way that was too self-effacing to the point of appearing self-pitying and defeatist, which only served to demoralize his campaign and reinforce the image of him as a weak leader.”

Since this will to live, or survival instinct, is so strong within a normal, rational person, Dukakis lost that election, losing to George H. W. Bush 426-111 in the electoral college. Dukakis’s siccing Willie Horton on American society just did not work for him.

If nothing else, Willie Horton reminds each of us that that instinct to survive is innate within each of us. And as the years have passed, that instinct has manifested itself in laws like the “Stand Your Ground” law. THAT INSTINCT was what drove George Zimmerman, NOT an innate racism. And the sooner that the liberal community realizes that and accepts it, the better off they will be. After all, the Willie Horton albatross is around their necks, NOT around the necks of the conservatives.

Everyone have a great day.

Bill

 

August 4, 2013 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Darned Piece of Paper

“That Darned Piece of Paper”

Hello, everyone.

Back in 2005, there was a story making the rounds on liberal blogs that then-President George W. Bush had referred to the Constitution as a “goddamned piece of paper.” For years, I have wondered whether this had actually occurred or if it was a made-up story. I decided to do a google and see what I could find out.

At the very top of my Google search page was a link to a site called Fact Check.org. Here is what they had as regards the subject. I am quoting only what I believe to be essential.

– – – – – – – – – –

Bush: The Constitution a ‘Goddamned Piece of Paper’?

Posted on December 12, 2007 , Updated on Feb. 21, 2011

Q: Did President Bush call the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper”?

A: Extremely unlikely. The Web site that reported those words has a history of quoting phony sources and retracting bogus stories.

FULL QUESTION

Is it true that President Bush called the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper?” He has never denied it, and it appears that there were several witnesses.

FULL ANSWER

The report that Bush “screamed” those words at Republican congressional leaders in November 2005 is unsubstantiated, to put it charitably.

We judge that the odds that the report is accurate hover near zero. It comes from Capitol Hill Blue, a Web site that has a history of relying on phony sources, retracting stories and apologizing to its readers.

Update, Feb. 21, 2011: The author of the Capitol Hill Blue story has now withdrawn it. Doug Thompson messaged us to say:

Doug Thompson: This is to let you know that the piece on Bush and the Constitution has been changed and reads:

“This article was based on sources that we thought, at the time, were reliable. We have since discovered reasons to doubt their veracity. For that reason, this article has been removed from our database.”

I no longer stand behind that article or its conclusions and have said so in answers to several recent queries. In addition, I have asked that it be removed from a documentary film.

. . .

There’s no record of Bush ever using these words in public and no other news organization has reported him using them privately. Thompson based his report on three sources whom he didn’t name. He gave the date of the quote as “last month,” which would put it sometime in November 2005.

. . .

But we also note that Thompson described his own reporting habits this way:

Doug Thompson (July 26, 2006): I started taking more chances with stories, jumping on ones with sketchy sources, always trying to outdo the last “big” story. I had people willing to help me and they would send me info that I used often on their word alone.

. . . I wrote stories based on emails from sources I never met. I would meet self-proclaimed “important people” in out-of-the way bars, taking what they told me at face value. Washington is a breeding ground for phonies and wannabes. Too often I printed what they told me because I was so full of myself that I was sure it was true and did not require further verification.

By Thompson’s own account, these were the habits still in place when he reported the “piece of paper” quote in 2005.

We also note that Thompson expresses extreme personal hostility toward Bush, calling him in one recent article a “madman,” a “despot,” and “a man without honor, a leader without conscience and a human being without a shred of decency or humanity.”

– – – – – – – – – –

So what do we have here? Nothing but a bogus story written by a person with an animus against George W. Bush – a story based on hearsay evidence from some unnamed sources – a story on a website with a rattling reputation for posting trash about people and then having to remove the trash when it is learned that there is no factual evidence to support the trash – a story posted by a guy who bases his decisions to post or not to post a story purely on “gut feelings.” Hopefully, indigestion is not a factor in his decisions.

I checked other sites listed in the Google search results, and one thing that I found both interesting and appalling at the same time is this: The liberal blogs jumped on this thing and passed it on without even checking to see if it was true or not. Why they didn’t verify it is anybody’s guess, but I believe that a major reason that it wasn’t checked was nothing more than sheer spite. “Hey! Someone said something despicable about George W. Bush, and we are going to carry the story along! We’re not even going to bother to check and find out if it is true. It’s something nasty about Bush, so it’s got to be true!” Incidentally, I cannot recall any retraction from these liberal sites that posted the “paper” story. I guess that retraction just isn’t their style.

One of the fascinating things about this whole scenario is the fact that no other news site was able to corroborate Doug Thompson’s story. I do not recall it ever being talked about on the national news on television, and I am sure that it was not mentioned on conservative blogs except in order to defend Bush, and there would not need to be any corroboration in order to do that. So the “Paper” story was essentially nothing more than a figment of a wild liberal imagination. One man tells the uncorroborated story on one blog, so it has to be true because I saw it on the Internet.

So that raises a logical question: Who in reality believes that the Constitution is a g– d—– piece of paper – George W. Bush or the liberal blogosphere? As we have seen, there never was any corroboration that Bush ever made that statement, so the answer is obvious.

But to be sure, the liberal blogosphere believes that the Constitution is NOT a g– d—– piece of paper – as long as the Constitution suits their purpose. For example, in the Second Amendment, the LB believes that the “militia” clause is valid; it is the “right to bear” clause that they have questions about. They believe that guns are only valid for the National Guard and the military. Don’t forget; they are the environmentalists who believe that deer, elk, rabbits, and squirrels have their place in the environment and that killing these animals is wrong – if not actually a sin. So there is no legitimate reason for anyone to have a gun, in their opinion.

But what about the FIRST amendment? And the “freedom of speech and press” clauses in that amendment? I’m afraid that that is a different story. Ever since 9/11 occurred, John Amato of the “Crooks & Liars” web site has totally banned any discussion of conspiracy theories about 9/11. Why? In the times I have visited that site, I never saw any constraints placed on Kennedy Assassination conspiracies or “Project Apollo Lies” theories. But then that site is hard to figure out, given the number of Fox News video clips that they have up.

Now for a word of confession: I was a commenter on Crooks & Liars for a period of time. However, I have been banned from there three times. The first time I was banned, I had made a statement that all but declared the fact that I was not fully persuaded that all of the science concerning “global warming” and “climate change” was valid. The second time I was banned, I had made a statement that if the black and hispanic communities wanted my respect, they had to show me that they were capable of doing something besides playing children’s games on an adult level. The third time I was banned, I made a statement indicating that I did not genuflect to the teachers’ union or any union for that matter. I will say that while my bannings might well be legitimate, not once did I see any guidelines indicating that my comments violated any “terms of use.” And for darned sure, my comments did cut the constitutional muster.

But Crooks & Liars isn’t the only blog that has a problem with “that g– d—– piece of paper,” as the liberal blogs put it. Daily Kos does as well. I used to have commenting rights on that page also, but I found that they were taken away without one word of explanation as to why. Of course, I posted comments that did not exactly compliment Harry Reid after he caved in to the Republicans as regards filibuster reform in the Senate. I also posted comments that were not complimentary to Barak Obama as regards his desire to make deep cuts in Social Security. But since other people were commenting along the same lines as I was but did not get their rights taken away, why did it happen to me? I’m afraid that this one is up to Nero Wolfe to sort out.

So who really believes that the Constitution is “a goddamned piece of paper?” Not George W. Bush; that story has been thoroughly debunked. And not the Republicans. Their constitutional arguments for the right to bear arms does have its basis on fact. The Constitution DOES say that “the right to bear arms will not be infringed.” So that leaves the liberal community, and as I have shown above, there is evidence to support the opinion that they do hold the opinions that they tried to foist off on Bush.

As the old saying puts it, “It all depends on whose ox is being gored.” I confess to being unhappy that my First Amendment rights have been gored. But then the conservatives are also unhappy that the Liberals are trying to gore their Second Amendment rights. And I am afraid that the actions of blogs and groups like C&L and Kos bring back to mind the behaviors that the old Soviet Union used to display against dissenters. But luckily C&L and Kos do not have a Siberia to ship people off to.

In closing, I believe that we all are behooved to stand up and defend our Constitution when the need arises. Heaven knows, it isn’t perfect. But it is better than anything else that is functioning in the world today. And it is certainly a heck of a lot better than the kind of country that the Liberals want to give us where they call the tunes that we dance to. So the next time you hear something from the liberal community about “global warming” or “climate change” or “the lack of equality for women and gays” it might be wise to to remember the debacle about George W. Bush and the Constitution and take any liberal conversation involving liberal buzz words with 20 freight trainloads of salt.

You all have a great day today.

Bill

 

April 28, 2013 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

The Destruction of West

The Destruction of West

 Hello, everyone.

 Last week, while we as a country were caught up in the Boston Bombing, there was another catastrophe in this country. A huge fertilizer plant in the tiny town of West, Texas, a short ways north of Waco exploded. The blast killed several people and was so severe that it registered at least 2 on the Richter Scale. It also created a crater at least 20 feet deep in the ground.

 People are being allowed back in in some areas near the blast, but the area closest to the plant is still off-limits. I saw one video of the damage done a ways away from the blast, and the place looked like a war zone. I saw only one short video; I couldn’t handle any more.

 On the Bing search page where I found the video, there is a link which said that some law firm has added a page to its website offering legal help for victims of the blast. Somehow, I believe that there will be several more similar pages showing up on the Net soon, and that is good.

 As I said above, the plant itself is still off-limits to reporters. The authorities apparently are still gathering what evidence they can find as to the cause of the blast. It is known that the plant contained a humongous amount of ammonium nitrate. Indeed, one account that I read said that the plant had ONE HUNDRED TIMES the amount of ammonium nitrate that Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City bombing. In case anyone’s chemistry is a tad rusty, the chemical formula for ammonium nitrate is NH4NO3. In essence, that is a blend of ammonia and nitric acid. It is one extremely powerful brew.

 On the Daily Kos site, Laura Clawson wrote a diary on Monday (4/22) titled “Toxic Texas politics on display in fertilizer plant explosion.” Here are the final three paragraphs of her diary:

In the West explosion, the majority of those killed were indeed first responders, who did not have any way of knowing the scope of what they faced. And those killed deserve to be remembered despite the fertilizer plant explosion having happened in the same week as the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent dramatic hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As Richard Kim writes:

What separates these victims from one another? Surely not innocence, for they are all innocent, and they all deserve to be mourned. And yet the blunt and awful truth is that, as a nation, we pay orders of magnitude more attention to the victims of terrorism than we do to the over 4,500 Americans killed each year while on the job. As former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis once put it, “Every day in America, thirteen people go to work and never come home.” Very little is ever said in public about the vast majority of these violent and unnecessary deaths. And even when a spectacular tragedy manages to capture our collective attention—as the West explosion briefly did, as the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster did three years before—it is inconceivable that such an event would be constituted as a permanent emergency of world-historic proportions.”

Whatever precise combination of accident and chemicals and lack of safety precautions caused the West explosion, chances are, it was political. Not political in the sense that someone actively intended or tried to cause damage, but in the sense that it was made possible by a state government with intentionally weak safety and environmental regulations and federal and state governments that don’t put the needed resources toward enforcing what regulations should apply to a place like the West Fertilizer Co. Political in the sense that as a society we basically have agreed that disasters like this are, as Kim puts it, “the presumed cost of living in a modern, industrialized economy.” We should take disasters like this one as a reminder of the recklessness with human life that our political and economic systems tolerate and even encourage.”

One aspect of the fertilizer plant blast that no one seems to want to talk about is the locale of the plant in the community of West. In my following of the event, I saw only one plot or picture which showed its location. Two schools – a high school and a junior high – were essentially across the street from the plant. There was also a nursing home or extended care center located just as close to the plant as the schools. Given the video that I watched earlier, which was shot at some distance from the plant, one can only imagine the carnage at the nursing home and the schools. At least 14 people, mostly volunteer firefighters, are dead and at least 100 are injured. One can only hope that the extended care facility and its residents survived. The blast left a crater 22 feet deep in the ground.

In the Huffington Post for today, 4/23, an unsigned article contains some extremely interesting news. Here are 6 paragraphs from the article:

“Through interviews with former regulators and community leaders, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of documents going back to 1976, a sense emerges that no institution sounded the alarm here, even as fertilizer piled up inside the plant, creating a potentially deadly tinderbox in close proximity to the town. No one effectively prepared for the emergency that eventually materialized, leaving this community uniquely vulnerable to the tragedy that unfolded last week when the plant caught fire and exploded, killing 14 people and ripping apart an apartment building, a school and dozens of homes.

“In June 2011 — less than two years before the explosion — the private company that owns the plant, the West Fertilizer Co., filed an emergency response plan with the Environmental Protection Agency stating that there was “no” risk of fire or explosion at the facility. The worst scenario that plant officials acknowledged was the possible release of a small amount of ammonia gas into the atmosphere.

“Fertilizer long has been recognized as a dangerous combustible material. One variety, ammonium nitrate — a pellet-shaped product typically shipped in large bags — caused the deadliest industrial accident in American history, the explosion of a ship at the port of Texas City in 1947, which took the lives of more than 500 people.

“In 1995, Timothy McVeigh used about two tons of ammonium nitrate to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. As recently as 2012, the West Fertilizer plant held some 270 tons of that substance, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Yet, according to a Reuters report, the stores of ammonium nitrate here never tripped the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which apparently was unaware of the plant’s existence.

“Documents reviewed by The Huffington Post indicate that the last time regulators performed a full safety inspection of the facility was nearly 28 years ago. The entity with primary authority to ensure workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, last visited in 1985, according to OSHA records.”

Actually, the lack of interest by the Feds is easy to understand. George W. Bush was governor of Texas before he was elected President. They weren’t about to risk his wrath by nailing a Texas firm because of its stockpile of ammonium nitrate.

Back in 1980, there was a movie titled “Condominium” which dealt with a situation much like the Texas fertilizer plant. However, in this case, the problem wasn’t basically bad zoning, but bad construction materials. Here is a summary of the plot from the Internet Movie Database:

A new condominium is built right on the beach in Florida. Well, mother nature takes that as a challenge and decides to throw a hurricane at it. Of course, there is the mix of the mistress and wife finding out about each other, substandard building supplies, and stubborn people that won’t evacuate.

Here is what the website Moviefone has to say about it:

Condominium is a two-part, four-hour TV adaptation of the novel by John D. McDonald. The setting is a hastily constructed Florida high-rise, assembled at the least possible cost by its greedy owners. An oncoming hurricane threatens to topple the structure and its residents into the ocean. Various degrees of greed, lust, terror and concern are displayed by stars Steve Forrest, Dan Haggerty, Ralph Bellamy, Barbara Eden, Stuart Whitman, Jack Jones and Pamela Hensley. Produced for the syndicated “Operation Prime Time” series, Condominium was first made available to local stations on November 20, 1980.

The movie is on YouTube and, thanks to Firefox, I was able to download it. It is a piece of history as well as piece of entertainment because there are several stars in it that I haven’t heard of for years. Plus, there are some really cute girls in it, and that NEVER hurts!!

The common thread to “Condominium” and the fertilizer plant explosion is greed. As Moviefone says about the film, “The setting is a hastily constructed Florida high-rise, assembled at the least possible cost by its greedy owners.” In West, Texas, the greed is manifest in two basic ways. First, the company that owned the plant set up shop in Texas because that state’s laws in terms of industrial safety are virtually nonexistent. Thus, it did not have to pay out good money to bring the plant up to standards that would have been mandatory in other states, and thus it could pass that money on to its executives and shareowners. Second, the funding for OSHA and other federal watchdogs had been gutted by the Republicans – and compliant Democrats like Barak Obama – in order to guarantee more money for wars and gifts to the rich. Had there been SOME semblance of oversight by Texas and the Feds, then there is a good chance that the explosion and mayhem would not have happened.

It is extremely interesting – and sick, in my opinion – that the Republicans have run pell-mell to trash and blame Muslims and Islam for the Boston bombing – without any hard evidence of the same – but absolutely silent on the role that the West Fertilizer Company played in the explosion at West, Texas. That is easy to understand, since Republicans worship at the shrine of business and also hate and despise any religion that is not Judaism or Evangelical Christianity. But the difference lies in the evidence. There so far has been no discovery of hard evidence that Islam had directed the Tsarnaev Brothers to do what they did. There has been discovered hard evidence that West Fertilizer Company had stockpiled bags of ammonium nitrate pellets, to the tune that the plant contained almost 300 tons of the substance.

Dead people are dead people regardless of whether the deaths are caused by small black-powder pressure-cooker bombs or a huge stockpile of bomb-grade chemistry. They are also dead people regardless of whether the perpetrators of the explosion are two badly messed-up young men or a company seeking to cut costs any way it can to satisfy the greed of others. Already there are calls for background checks on people who for whatever reason purchase black powder or merchandise that contains it. There are also calls for even more stringent laws concerning Islam – in spite of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion. Should there also not be SOME laws dealing with companies that skirt ecological and occupational safety laws and pose a risk to the communities where they are located?

All of you have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

April 25, 2013 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion | , | Leave a comment