Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Swinging Pendulum of Russophobia

When I was born in the 1950s, our nation was in its second "Red Scare" with such people as Senator Eugene McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) looking for subversives, especially communists in government and elsewhere in our society. This second "Red Scare" had originated with a Democrat, President Harry S Truman, whose Executive Order 9835 of March 21, 1947, required that all federal civil service employees be screened for "loyalty." Of course McCarthy was a Democrat, as were the leading members of the HUAC. 

So was most of Congress during that time. In fact, except for brief lapses in 1947-49 and 1953-55, both houses were controlled by Democrats until 1981. Yet today if you question people about the eras of the Red Scares, they'll tell you it was probably conservative Republicans who were engaged in the "witch hunts" which compelled private citizens (screen writers, actors, etc.) to bear witness against everyone around them.

By the time I became an adult in the 1970s the debate over the Viet Nam War had changed the narrative of things dramatically. By that time it was Democrats who conveniently overlooked the fact that Presidents Kennedy and Johnson had started the mess; Nixon and his party were the "hawks" that were guilty of warmongering and enriching the evil "military-industrial complex" which President Eisenhower had warned us about. 

It was also about that time that people began "remembering" the history of the Civil Rights Act as being a Democratic Party cause, forgetting that it was southern Democrats who had filibustered against it and Republicans who had rallied to pass it.

When President Reagan came into office with his goals of destroying "the Evil Empire" of the Soviet Union, suddenly Republicans were being castigated as warmongers and Democrats were proclaiming that communism wasn't really that bad. Warren Beatty wrote, directed, and starred in "Reds," a movie in which an American journalist journeys to Russia to document the Bolshevik Revolution and returns a revolutionary, seeking to change America.  In 1989, many liberal Democrats seemed sickened by the demise of the Soviet Union.

In short, history was being rewritten before our eyes, and no one really noticed.

Fast forward to today: Russia, in the past few years, has gone from a country to build alliances with (anyone remember the heroics of Boris Yeltsin?) to one to "reset" relations with (Putin was too scary?), to one that's now suspected of hacking into everything and controlling our presidential election (Putin is too scary!). 

Attorney General Sessions has been forced to recuse himself because he had contact with a Russian ambassador during the campaign. General Flynn was forced to withdraw himself from consideration as the National Security Advisor because he talked to the Russian ambassador after Trump's election.

Have Democrats met with that ambassador? YES! 

Until last month only one group has stayed absolutely convinced that Communism is a good thing, that we need to all become Socialists, and that capitalism is the scourge of mankind: college professors! Yet today even they are chiming in that Russia stole the election from Hillary. 😕

Oh well, that pendulum does swing!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Am I Who?

This is not glurge, a syrupy bit of fiction designed to make the reader feel good. It happened, tonight, to me.

Tonight when leaving a restaurant with my wife, I noticed a homeless man sitting just inside the door with all his belongings in a black garbage bag. The temperature outside was 9° and it's supposed to go below zero tonight. The manager approached him and asked if he wanted anything. He said, "I just want a cup of coffee and to get warm." She said "Yes, it is a cold night."

On an impulse I then did something I have never done before. I pulled a $10 bill from my wallet and gave it to the manager and said, "See to it that he gets a full meal."

As I turned to leave, the man asked me, "Are you Jesus Christ?"

All I could say was "I try to follow him."

If anyone ever reads this, I'd like to know how you would answer that question.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hardest or Easiest Job in the World?

Now that the election's over, I'd like to call your attention to the job of the president, or POTUS as some insist on calling the occupant of the office. Given the ages of the various presidents when they entered office, it's no real surprise that they continued to age... but some aged more than others, presumably from the stress of the job:

So, just how stressful is the job? Take a good look at each one and consider how they went about doing their jobs.

To my eyes, the one who was affected most in the shortest time was Abraham Lincoln. He truly served in an extremely stressful time. I can't imagine anyone else doing as well as he did with such a difficult task as leading the nation through a Civil War.

The one who I think was affected least was Dwight Eisenhower. After successfully managing the European theater of World War II, fighting with Congress didn't affect him so much. The bullets they shot at him were all verbal! He quietly did what he thought was best and ignored his critics. And he had impressive results. His behavior in office was that of a man comfortable in his skin, his grandfatherly smile reassured most Americans that he was doing the right thing because he cared for them. It was reflected in his extremely high approval rating during office.

So, how hard is it to be a peace-time president? Eisenhower made it look easy. Is it? No matter your politics, there will be those seeking your destruction. There will be people striving to use your power and prestige to enrich or empower themselves and their friends. You'll feel like you have a bulls eye painted on your back as the press snipes at you for every little thing you might do wrong... and even when you've done things right, they'll twist your words and invent errors you've never made.

What will Trump face compared to what he's seen so far in his life? Will he masterfully appoint and hire the right people to get things done? Or will he try to micromanage his way through as so many others have done? Will he pick fights with Congress or will he challenge them to write legislation the way the Constitution requires of them?

I believe a great leader inspires others to do great things. I hope Donald Trump will do just that.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


The great news is now that I've worked with my replacement in my church position (see prior post) I understand now why she seemed so foreboding to me and others who had gossiped about her. (Yes, it was gossip, and I'm sorry I listened). And, I find that I've much more in common with her than I would ever had guessed.

This lady has survived a traumatic traffic accident that broke her neck in two places. The doctors fused the vertebrae and she has healed—physically. Being a Texan, she has continued on with her life on sheer guts and willpower. She has put her energies into teaching people to excel at singing. She's even making a living at it!

What she hasn't done as nearly well is deal with her PTSD. It's affected her personality—she comes across as very brusque and insensitive—and is very hard to befriend. Here's a challenge I can look forward to! After all, I've tangled with that particular burden myself...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Waiting for a shoe to drop...

I’ve no idea how many people have ever read this blog. Perhaps I’m just writing for my own entertainment. One thing I do know is that I’ve mostly written about what I think about things and very little about what I feel about them.

Part of being a member of my church is the idea that we are “called to serve” in various positions by an inspired leader. The length of that service can vary by quite a few years. Eventually, we are “released” and someone else is called to serve. That release can come about by moving away, dying, or just because it’s someone else’s turn to serve in that position. Most of us muddle through new callings, gain in our skills, learn how to do things right, then we’re called to yet other positions.

Right now I’m in the most difficult part of that process. After being for a few years in a position I loved, someone else has grudgingly accepted a call to that position. She seems to not care too much for it and is talking about scaling it all back to suit her existing calendar. I’m finding it hard to keep my mouth shut and am wondering how long it will take for her to destroy what I (and my predecessors) built up.

I hope I get called to something else soon! Not having a position is bad enough without this drama.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Autism from vaccines?

I was born in a time before most vaccines. I endured regular and German measles (rubella), mumps, and chickenpox. I knew kids who endured whooping cough and polio (I never had polio, but my mom did). 

These were not diseases that magically appeared--they "traveled' around, carried by people. A community that had been free of one of these diseases would eventually have a wave of incidents as the virus was carried into the community by an unwitting victim... and eventually most of those whose immune systems couldn't fight it off got it... and then the disease would fade away because the remaining people were able to resist it. A few years later, the process would repeat when again someone brought the virus back into the town.

My kids have not had any of those diseases. They and the vast majority of other kids around them were vaccinated against them. Unfortunately vaccines aren't 100% effective, so those who weren't vaccinated sometimes became carriers amongst themselves and to those whose vaccinations failed to protect them. Still, smallpox is gone (for now, but that's another story) and most other of those diseases became rare for a while.

Unfortunately, a British doctor faked some research and convinced a lot of people that vaccines were dangerous and causing autism. His twaddle is still out there on the Internet, but at least he was caught and punished for his lies (stripped of his license). And the rates of infection for those once rare diseases have climbed. Children are much more at risk for those diseases... Diseases which were fought for a reason: those diseases killed many kids and crippled many of the survivors.

Now, I don't think unvaccinated kids should be marked in any way... but I'd be happier about all this if there were a reliable way to keep my grandkids away from their generation's disease carriers. Yes, my daughter is getting her kids vaccinated, but since the shots aren't 100% effective, there will still be the risk of disease from those who aren't vaccinated. And that means a lot of kids, even some of the vaccinated ones, are going to get polio, measles, mumps, etc. and are going to suffer needlessly.

Bad science is used by charlatans to bamboozle people into joining their ranks, contribute to their cause, buy videos or books, or just read their twaddle online so they can be paid by those whose ads appear on their webpages. 

Please don't be fooled. Kids' lives are at risk.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Line Too Far...

During this past year I've noticed an increasing number of drivers stopping short of the crosswalk lines by an ever increasing amount. Not too long ago most drivers stopped 3 to 5 feet short of that line. Today at least a third of them are stopping 15 to 20 feet away from those markings.

Why are they doing this? I've no idea. Why do I care? They're stopping short of the underground sensors that trigger the traffic lights.