Archive for the ‘history’ Category

This Culturally Diminished Generation

July 16, 2017

[RANT – ON]

Maybe I’m in a crappy place right now…

I am a bit saddened by the state of the country these days.

No, not about Trump getting elected or any of the BS the Media keeps heaping on that dung pile. If that’s what’s worrying you then you ARE the problem.

We have had a war going on for the past fifteen years and I do not see anyone protesting it. Fifteen freakin’ years, folks!

Sure you have the time to march in your fancy vagina and penis suits, or marching glibly behind a couple of media puppets for what passes for “science” but is really more politics. Yes, they’ve got time to march for those “issues” but I guess millions of people dying is not an issue for those self-centered muffins.

No, their music today is all about they’ve been offended, or they want more – money, cars, whatever – or how badly they’ve been treated by their biatches.

Yes, it seems the eternal litany of “me, me, me” is alive and well in America these days.

In the sixties, there was a war. A little thing over in Southeast Asia… you may have heard of it – unless your neuter-specific history classes sort of gloss over the embarrassing affair – the Viet Nam War.

It did not go on for near as long as the present conflict in the Middle East but the youth of America were incensed. They rioted, they marched, they protested in great numbers and their music reflected it with things like “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and “For What It’s Worth” by the Youngbloods. (A reason why this blog has the same title.)

How could we wind up with an entire generation with its collective head rammed up its collective butt more concerned about themselves than anything else. And don’t give me the yap about their feigned uproar over “Global Warming”. I have yet to see any of the loud-mouths mouthing that crap to actually do something useful. Sure DiCaprio and Bono are all for fighting global warming but neither of the pair has quit flying, using their yachts, or driving their fancy cars, have they? Of course not! Why? Because they are just mouthing rather than doing.

In the sixties there wasn’t much mouthing. We got off our butts and did something.

We had a candidate primed to take us there in Robert Kennedy but they killed him.

Today, when Bernie was railroaded – not killed, mind you – his followers folded tent and went home, whining. Hey! They did not kill your candidate, people!

Christ!

These young people better reach down and find a bigger and hairier pair pretty soon or there won’t be any planet left to pass down to their own grandchildren.

And, believe me, the “runaway global meltdown” is going to be the least of the problems you’re gonna face. (That is, if that imaginary fairy dust apocalypse ever does come about.)

Okay…

[RANT – OFF]

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Rubbing Elbows

November 28, 2012

People are obsessed with the wealthy. Some more than others but most people have that bug.

The rampant existence of the paparazzi attest to the fact and the success of television shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” show how voyeuristic interest in the subject.

Years ago, a book on economics and sociology shot to the top of the bestseller lists: The Rich and The Super-Rich by Ferdinand Lundberg had everyone drooling even more than Stephen Birmingham’s earlier volumes about the super-wealthy set.

When I was younger, my grandfather told me that there was no difference between the rich guys and me, we both had to put our pants on one leg at a time. And while the concept of us being the same might be true, I think it is more a case of his valet putting his pants on for him one leg at a time, just like me.

Wow. Now if only I had a valet!

Nah.

Anyway, I grew up in a rather heady neighborhood many moons ago. We weren’t rich but my father had a pretty good job with the government and we lived in a modest suburb of Washington that bordered on the other set. Some of the kids I went to school with were children of ambassadors and undersecretaries and one was a grandson of the postmaster General.

And one rather chubby kid. A lot of the group called him “fat Eddie” but he wasn’t really fat, just a little chunky. And he was funny, and personable. He invited me over to his house one day after school and I was amazed. The place was huge and well-protected behind a stone fence and an iron gate, and so forth.

Later that year, we moved to another suburb of Washington and I lost track of those kids but I know Eddie has done well for himself, continuing in the family business. Today he goes by “Edwin” rather than Eddie and he is in charge of the American Heritage Magazine… his older brother was in charge of the National Geographic Society: Melville Bell Grosvenor.

I didn’t know Melville – he was twenty years older than Eddie – and I was only close to Eddie for about six months. And, no, we have never kept in touch. After all, I am not part of “that crowd” as Stephen Birmingham termed the wealthy.

Years later, I lived in Hollywood, California. I tried to get a job in the motion picture industry as a grip or a set-builder but the unions were pretty much full up at that time and I wound up in a clerical position not with that industry.

Still, I was in Hollywood and I ran into “stars” all the time. At first I was excited about it but after a while it became too normal. I didn’t chase anyone down for autographs nor did I try to start up conversations with them like an old friend… I don’t have the stalker mentality… well, mostly not.

For the most part, they seemed a lot like the rest of us. One stopped his Maserati in front of a 7-11 store and dashed in for… of course… a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. You think only the middle class have the call from the wife saying “don’t forget some milk and bread on the way home”?

Once, in a park there, I came off a trail to find one actor and his famous wife having a picnic lunch with their small children. I smiled and nodded to them and kept going.

I cannot imagine how it would be to have such a degree of fame that strangers assaulted you – all the time – for autographs, photo ops, or even a simple handshake and praise for how much they loved my latest… whatever. I really don’t think I would like that lifestyle much.

Fortunately, the rate I am going with my booksales, that doesn’t appear to be a problem looming in my future.

Whew! What a relief!

April 15th… What a Day it Was!

April 16, 2012

Another April 15th has come and gone and this one was a bit bolder than usual because it just happened to be to 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic… the ship, not the film.

The film has done quite well in its re-release in 3D and pushed it over the $2 Billion mark, a feat shared by only one other film, also by James Cameron, “Avatar”. You remember, the film with all the blue people who lived inside a tree.

April 15th is also famous in America for being the IRS Tax Deadline since 1955, though since it falls on a Sunday this year, the deadline has been extended to the 17th. And you can be sure a LOT of people will take advantage of the extension to put off their filing “to the last minute”. Which they would do even if the deadline was extended to September 1st.

Another interesting anniversary happened on the 15th although not many people mentioned it. The date was seven score and seven years since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Something most people today seem to have forgotten although it seemed to be a really big deal in the nineteenth century.

I suppose everyone is waiting for the sesquicentennial of the event, three years from now, or 150 years afterward, to commemorate the event that will live in infamy…

Or was that the bombing of Pearl Harbor (the event, not the film) that was supposed to live in infamy?

Well, maybe they can share the same cell in infamy.

But, thankfully, the 15th has passed and we all survived.

At least a little better than Lincoln, or the Titanic, or a lot of unhappy taxpayers.

Oh, and another little thing that happened on the 15th… I finally got published!

Yes, I had been working on a volume called “For What It’s Worth” – hey, isn’t that the name of this blog!? – but it never seemed to get very far since I got distracted by so many other book ideas.

But I finally finished one called If the World’s a Village, I’m Its Idiot. It is available on kindle if you’d like to check it out.

For myself, at least, I have something else to remember about April 15th. Perhaps you have something as well.

Anything has to be better than that other stuff.

Democracy in Action

January 24, 2012

In case there are some readers here not familiar with the precise operation of democracy as used in the American framework, I will give a short example from a real set of events.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, there was a movement to create a day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. It was to be called “Civil Rights Day” but was to coincide with Dr. King’s birthday, thus calling it Civil Rights Day though everyone would call it Martin Luther King Day in order to avoid any confusion.

Most states simply submitted the bill for the holiday to their state legislatures and it was passed, usually by voice vote acclamation.

In Arizona, however, the process occurred a little differently: it was put on the ballot and offered up to the populace to vote on it.

On election night, the results were coming in and they looked favorable to the backers of the bill. One gentleman from the NAACP was interviewed around 11 p.m. that evening when the votes were 2 to 1 in favor of the holiday and he said the voice of the people had spoken. The reporter tasked him to pronounce his view if something would happen and the bill was defeated.

The gentleman turned to look at the tally board and said, “I think this vote will decide the issue once and for all, and all sides will simply have to live with it.”

A very magnanimous gesture, I assure you. But a gesture was all it seemed to be because around 2 a.m. the numbers grew uncomfortably close and by 3 a.m. the “nays” pulled ahead, getting further ahead with each passing minute.

The gentleman from the NAACP was interviewed again at this point and he was extremely hot under the color. “We will fight back on this, I assure you. We will come back again and again until this measure passes.”

So, Democracy in this man’s mind was that the will of the people should prevail, as long as they were in agreement with him. Otherwise he would do anything he could to get the measure passed.

And that, in a nutshell, is what democracy is all about.

Of course, over the next few weeks, the people of Arizona also learned what Democracy was about when the organizations planning conventions in the state began canceling because of the vote.

The NFL even canceled the Super Bowl scheduled in Arizona that year because of the vote.

Needless to say, Arizona saw the error of their ways and very democratically passed the bill in the next election.

Of course, the NFL offices themselves did not celebrate the Martin Luther King Day because the holiday celebration was so close to the aforementioned Super Bowl that they were far to busy to honor Martin Luther King Day. Well, that is, except to break contracts with others made in good faith, who might also choose to work on M.L.K. Day.

Isn’t Democracy a marvel!?

And, in case anyone was wondering, yes, I did vote for the MLK holiday the first time around.

But before anyone starts thinking I am that idealistic, I would have as quickly voted for a Benjamin Banneker Day, Frederick Douglass Day, Thomas Jefferson Day, Benjamin Franklin Day, or even a Mickey Mouse Day.

(I’m never one to turn down any sort of Federally-mandated holiday.)

Another Look Back

September 11, 2011

Here we are, ten years past the tragedy that was visited on us on 9/11/2001.

It was a far different 2001 than that visualized by Stanley Kubrick in his famous film”2001: a Space Odyssey” but far more realistic.

I keep waiting for the “healing” to begin, to put us beyond that which we are being constantly reminded of, constantly commemorating. I would like to move through an early September without the constant reminders of horrors all to human to ever possibly forget.

So, in our effort to bring some meaning to the senselessness of the thousands that died that day we have taken a war to the Middle East and killed so many thousands more to repay someone who we have finally wreaked our vengeance on…

Does the story have any sort of a happy ending? And should it?

Or are we supposed to carry the pain with us always and ensure that others come to know the depths of our suffering by doing unto them?

Seeing how we have been so readily able to move beyond the tribulations of a nation torn apart by the “Civil War” – (NOT!) – I fully expect this commemoration to carry forward for another century, at least, while we still tear the scabs open and reawaken the wounds. And as the blood flows freely again, we can somehow feel some solace for our loss.

So many of the Civil War commemoration protesters today cat-call the Rebel-biased lamenters with that famous phrase: “You lost. Get over it!”

As humans, we do not seem to be able to “get over” such large scale tragedies.

So, while others lament at the foolish sentiment wasted by the Rebel-lovers during the current Civil War Sesquicentennial, let us all take a moment to remember the cause of our righteous indignation against an innocent people half a world away.

Have a thoughtful 9/11.

Return to the Confederation

May 13, 2010

Many times I have turned back to the early pages of American History and wondered whatever happened to the first noble experiment: the Confederation.

Other than the trick question of who was the first President of the United States where people would answer George Washington and the poser would respond: No, it was John Hanson, first president under the Confederation (and some snooty people respond that George was the First, because he was elected under the Constitution), most people are completely unfamiliar with the period.

And that is just how many people would like it to be continued. Proclaim Washington as the first real president because the earlier guys don’t really count.

No, people needed a stronger central government, one that could TAX the populace, and grow to behemoth proportions!

Somehow, I think the Confederation might have worked quite nicely with a few minor alterations. I wonder who – or what group – worked and maneuvered so tirelessly to see that it got torpedoed?

I don’t think we’d have to go too far to find them.

One thing about the conspirators, they were not looking for the quick pay-off. Time and patience have always worked for them… and certainly makes them harder to spot.

Slavery is Freedom…

January 18, 2010

The Bush Administration set out to establish a continual war in the mid-east and around the world (and the present administration is happy to oblige). Hmmm, now why does that sound so familiar? Because it was one of the characteristics of the Government of Big Brother in the George Orwell novel 1984. The premise of “spreading democracy” is about the same as in the novel and seems such a “noble cause”.

Bush might have a bit of a problem keeping an army in the field (even with his special recruitment tactic, i.e. NCLB) since many Iraqi Freedom soldiers had to purchase their own armor, and some even their own uniforms, and then most of veterans had to purchase identity theft protection after the VA lost their personal data. All the money that administration threw at the war effort and the spending was still so wasteful… but I get that is typical rather than the exception.

Still, the bigger issue to deal with here is the “spread of democracy…” Which form? And how can we be sure it is right for the people over there? Certainly we have done well by it, but if our country had been developed in 1776 based on the template we are currently using, I don’t think we would have come so far.

And now in some of the democracies we have set up, we find out we don’t approve of their elections – as in Palestine. We could then be fighting against democracies we established, negating the work we did in establishing it. (Hey, that sounds vaguely familiar as well… Haven’t we already done that? Once, or twice maybe, or three…)

So, who are we to decide what is right for others? The Catholic Church tried that for over a thousand years, forcing their religion on everyone or killing them, and you can see where it has brought us. The idea that it will ever regain status as the “universal church” is a very slim wager.

Diversity is to be found in all areas of nature and the world seems to prosper from it. Perhaps we should take a lesson from that and stop trying to clone ourselves forcible onto the world populations. I figure we can allow diversity in our relations with others as well. If we force everyone to fit our vision alone, slavery would be freedom… but not any freedom I would want.

Was This Guy Psychic or What?

January 15, 2010

Here is a great example of the allies our American government supports.

I was just amazed at the ability of Ehud Olmert to discern what was going on around him. Maybe its some intuitive awareness of minutiae or some rare psychic gift bestowed on him by the Almighty, but this guy is the real deal!

After the first week of the recent conflict in southern Lebanon, he claimed the army had destroyed Hezbollah’s infrastructure and they would fall apart within days.

A week later he said Hezbollah had been sufficiently crippled that they could no longer continue their rocket attacks on Israel.

He claimed later that his army was targeting only the Hezbollah positions and that soon the terrorists would have no place to hide.

Wow!! This guy was batting 1.000! He was 100% WRONG!! Perhaps he oughta step down and allow someone with some intelligence to run the country. His intelligence services seem to be on a par with ours, though, as our record in Afghanistan and Iraq matches what the Israeli intelligence service has accomplished: NOT MUCH.

Perhaps Ohmert, like Bush, did not understand the word ‘intelligence’.

But, as both seemed to be psychic… who needs intelligence?

Divide and Conquer

January 11, 2010

Joe Lieberman had lost his place in the race for the Senate. The Democrats had chosen his opponent, Ned Lamont. So, did Lieberman bow out gracefully? Hell, no! He was going to remain in the running “for the good of the people of the great state of Connecticut”.

Who the heck does he think he’s kidding?

Let’s journey back in time for a moment, back to 1992. The free-wheeling billionaire, Ross Perot, throws his hat in the ring and runs for President as an “independent”. Not that anyone noticed, but Ross ran hot and heavy in the beginning, when George Bush was ahead in the polls, but when Clinton closed the gap… well, Ross had to take a little ‘family time’. And he was not heard from again until about two weeks before the election when Bush pulled ahead in the polls again. Suddenly, Ross was back in the fray slugging it out at every opportunity.

What was happening was clear to see, although I don’t recall any news organization mentioning the fact: Perot appealed to Republicans more than Democrats and was able to ‘draw off’ Bush supporters, so Clinton could win.

One of Clinton’s first acts was to invite Perot to the White House for a celebratory dinner.

So, Lieberman will draw Democratic votes away from Lamont in the general election and give another Senate seat to a Republican. (I am surprised the Democratic Party leadership has not stepped in to prevent such a thing.)

I knew Lieberman was a staunch supporter of the Republican Administration, but didn’t that make it a little too obvious? Today he is sort of a parttime Democrat and parttime Republican. It does rather blur the whole concept of it being a two-party system anymore, doesn’t it?

(As if it ever was.)

Election Reform

January 9, 2010

Hooligans waited near the voting areas to chase away any “undesirables”, people who were likely to vote differently than the powermongers wanted.

Ballots from precincts heavy in the opposition party somehow got lost.

Other voting records were outright falsified.

Does this sound like election day in some far away third world country, a hotbed of insurrection and anarchy? The picture presented is frequently heard about in the evening news of elections in war-torn countries run by military juntas attempting to gain a “stamp of respectability” by indulging the populace in what foreign observers would call “fair elections”, but are in reality anything but fair.

And unfortunately, this was not some third world country, this scene was of the last three elections in the United States of America. November 2000 saw those actions taken in Florida and November 2004 saw them reenacted in Ohio. In 2008 it happened in several locations but was not as heavily reported.

And Congress still wants the rest of us to move over to electronic voting machines with no paper trail.

There really is no more reason to vote, is there?