Monday, August 30, 2021

4754 About Face!

 Library of Congress photo

 

The gathering on the mall was called "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom."  And while it wasn't spontaneous, it wasn't carefully planned either. But what it was a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. Never before -- and never since -- has a gathering of that magnitude taken place in that place. Is it really 58 years in the past?

 

It was there that the rest of the world met Martin Luther King, Jr. King was a Southern preacher who knew how to put words together.  The gathering was fairly evenly divided between blacks and whites and the stage show that accompanied it was more white than black. It galvanized thinking on civil rights and inspired legislation galore. Good legislation.

 

What we're seeing today is a stunning reversal of the thinking that went into that march.  We're seeing good legislation weakened or shot down or saddled with conditions that might as well be reversals.  We're seeing the south rise again.

 

This march wasn't about Martin Luther King, it was about us. It was about the voting rights act.  It was about dozens of court decisions dragging us from the 19th and early to mid-20th century forward.

 

But what has happened is what always happens when a major movement loses its figurehead. That's the first step toward death of a movement because now there's no real leadership.  What happens in every case I can think of, is that when the figurehead is disfigured, the underlings take over and either fight or diffuse.  The thing loses steam and dies.  Countermovements develop, especially in the case of minority rights where there already was a stone wall in place.

 

King’s assassination in 1968 was the beginning of the end.  Not because he was murdered, but because eventually, competing minor interests take over and everyone scatters.

 

Sometimes there are aftershocks.  We’re having one of those now.  At the moment, the culture is experiencing a revitalization.  But so is the countermovement.  Diversity has become the latest Hula Hoop or video game. 

 

The countermovement figurehead now is trump.  And as evidenced lately, he’s no longer necessary.  The leadership has been taken over by people like Florida’s governor.  Or the Senator from Texas. Or the minority leader of the Senate. Or some attention whore on Fox News or one of Fox’s minor offspring.

 

SHRAPNEL:

--Ed Asner was one of the good guys. Livened up the union meetings he attended and was on the correct side of most political issues.  Asner died this weekend at age 91.

 

--One day left for the US to get out of Afghanistan. To be followed by the bodies of the American servicemen who died trying to help our Afghan allies out.  They arrived at Dover Airbase Sunday and from there will be taken home.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021




Friday, August 27, 2021

4753 Wronging a Right

 

Carl Sandburg was an early pioneer of Zoom conferencing and podcasts as evidenced by this photo circa 1958


The poet Carl Sandburg said the Civil War was fought over one word.  The word was “is.” Here’s the full quotation: “The United States is not are. The Civil War was fought over a verb.” 

 

He said it on the campus of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois on October 7, 1958, as part of ceremonies commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Senate debates.

 

Is vs. are.  And of course, Sandburg wasn’t one to minimize the effects and causes of the war.  He took the long view.

 

But not long enough.  Look at us now.  Nominally, we’re one country. But only nominally.  We’re more balkanized than the Balkans. We’re like the minor states of the Soviet Union fighting each other for Moscow’s table scraps.

 

This space has long said the Confederacy won the war and now governs it alongside its occupied territories in the mountain and desert west.  And, more recently, of its semi-independent cells of operatives in parts of the east and the Midwest. 

 

The mindlessness of vaccine and mask opposition are the current battleground.  And that’s just a cosmetic battle. 

 

Behind and beyond is a deeper divide and a far more important foundation of ideas.

 

What are we as a country?

 

Sandburg dealt in words… often powerful… moving.  But words are symbols of concepts and concepts are what we ignore as we pay tribute to their sounds and forms over their meanings. 

 

The Census Bureau tells us there are a bit over 328 million of us.  It’s hard to get your head around a number of that size. But it’s also hard to get your head around the notion that we have differences and that we once found ways to live among each other.

 

The pipe is so clogged now that no plumbing snake can clear it.

 

How long before we start debating the return of slavery?  How long before we destroy ourselves in a storm of Covid?  How long before religious practice becomes mandatory? How long before the houses of cards and air castles we’ve built collapse under their own weight?

 

How long before a justice system becomes so corrupt as to freeze?  How long before we’re priced out of our homes and our hopes?

 

The President wants to spend trillions on infrastructure. But, Mr. President, what about our internal infrastructure? It’s not just the roads and bridges, card houses and air castles that are falling apart. 

 

We may be too big to function. But we’re not too big to fail.

 

And what would Sandburg say? Or Lincoln or Douglas?

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Mini 032 The Fishing Village

 

Back when, in the days radio still did local news, we’d call the cops in the pre dawn hours to see what might be going on.  One little fishing village desk sergeant had the same story each Saturday morning.

 

“Nothing much happening.  Just a couple of African Americans stabbing each other at the Boatman’s Inn.  You’re not interested in that, are you?”

 

Well, yeah. We were.  And he didn’t exactly call the people involved “African Americans.”

 

We were interested because they were real people doing really bad things to other real people.

 

Now, it’s not people stabbing each other in a cheap roadside bar a mile from a fleet of rinky-dink fishing boats owned and run by a bunch of non-African Americans.

 

We’ve come a long way.  We no longer care about the color of your skin.  But we still care about people killing each other.  And these days, it’s what you don’t do with more importance with what you do.

 

Knives?  How 1970s! Now we have a better weapon of choice, germs.

 

Are the maskless and the vaccine deniers any less deadly than the knife wielders? In fact, aren’t they not only more deadly but even more cowardly?

I’m wesrichards@gmail.com 

My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them ®

© WR 2021

 

Monday, August 23, 2021

4752 Hurriecane Henri

 


  

 

(NEW ROSES,PA) -- Old habits die hard.  Here it is, a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon in a small town shielded by mountains and bad highways, about 270 miles due west of Moote Pointe, NY, which is on Long Island near New York City, and was right at dead center of Hurricane Henri’s path.

 

The gas tank is full.  The refrigerator and freezer are almost empty.  There’s a new bottle of Smirnoff’s on the shelf. Every piece of dirty laundry is washed, dried and folded.

 Moote Pointe Marty is in the local New Roses Mega Mart with a shopping cart full of stuff.

Batteries. Duct tape.  A small radio. A few flashlights, a few candles.   A car charger for the cell phone.  Couple of bags of ice. A small barbecue and some charcoal.  A 50-pound bag of cat litter.  Chips, V8 juice, a few cans of Dinty Moore and Chef Boyardee and diced chicken breast and two family-size boxes of Total.

 

Harvey Checker-Outer looks at this stuff coming toward him at the register.  Always good for a few laughs and a good conversation, this fella, and he asks “Camping?”

 

Marty says “Nah, having an address in this ZIP code and a phone in this area code is as close to camping as I get.  This is hurricane prep stuff.”

 

For the first time in years, Harvey Checker-Outer is speechless.  But only briefly.  “Hurricane?  We don’t get hurricanes here.  What are you talking about?”

 Marty: “Ya never know.  Plus, I’ve done this a time or two and you get used to it.  You hear ‘hurricane” and “east coast” on the radio.  You see some weather reporter standing in front of a big map that goes from Florida to Maine and has all those splotches of reds and yellows on it, you go buy this kind of stuff.”

 At home, the computer is on.  It’s set to the New York Times animated hurricane tracker map.  You watch Irene amble up the coast.  You switch to the paper’s “neighborhood by neighborhood evacuation orders” map.  You try to get a live picture from the old street in Moote Pointe and you wait it out.  

Nothing much.

 In olden days, Marty was usually working during storms.  Nature of the job. It’s what news guys do.  But still, old habits die hard.

Shrapnel:

 --Henri didn’t hit New York even close to hard as the predictions said it would. But weather forecasting is as much an art as a science.  So don’t kill the messenger, just be thankful he/she/it was wrong.

 --Of all the stupid words and phrases news people applied to this storm was “Henri unleashed his fury.”  First off, you can leash a dog, but not a fury.  Second, it isn’t fury in the first place, it’s wind and rain. And they can’t be “leashed” or unleashed either.

 I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

 

Friday, August 20, 2021

4751 Joe Galloway (1941-2021)

 

 Joe Galloway would have marked 80 this coming November if he hadn’t died the other day.  He was the greatest war correspondent of his generation and they called him “the reporter with the gun.”  He understood and hated war. But he was friend to the troops from the lowest dogface in camos to the highest of Colonels and Generals.

 

He was competitor and then comrade.

 

Those Vietnam days he worked for United Press international and often wrote circles around the bigger Associated Press. He wrote from the battlefield while most of the rest of us wrote from a shabby-chic office building on Rockefeller Plaza in then-safe Manhattan. We at the AP in New York were surrounded in art deco.  Our reporters were over there, too and in relatively large number.  In the big battles, Galloway, often alone, was surrounded by trees and tents and death.

 

He wrote books that were turned into movies. “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young.” Was a best seller. He wrote for US News & World Report, then Knight-Ridder, then McClatchy.  His lectures were held in packed houses when it was still safe to pack a house.

 

In retirement, he grew tomatoes -- maybe it was peppers -- on a patch of land in North Carolina, not all that far from his birthplace, a few states away, in Texas.

 

He was in and out of hospitals over the last few years. What finally did him in was what the doctors call “complications” from a heart attack.  That was a huge heart to attack.

 

The thing about Joe wasn’t that wall of awards.  It wasn’t even about how he brought the war into focus for America. It wasn’t the Ernie Pyle phrasing, or the brilliant columns that followed.  It was Joe, himself.

 

You can’t separate the man from that. They were one and the same.  Sharp witted, sometimes cynical, sometimes poetic.  The eyes always open.  

 

In death, everyone had everything good to say about Joe.  In life, mostly, they did, too.  That happens rarely.  The painter Dali said in death everyone is 10-thousand times greater than he was in life.  Not true with Galloway.  Everyone knew. Everyone.

 

Now come the great wringing of hands, the “our thoughts and prayers are with his widow, “Doc” Gracie, a onetime circus performer turned medic. Keep all that. And keep Joe's books at hand for when you need to remember how to write.

 

Let me leave you today with a long quotation 

 

“We were children of the 1950s and John Kennedy's young stalwarts of the early 1960s. He told the world that Americans would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship" in the defense of freedom. We were the down payment on that costly contract, but the man who signed it was not there when we fulfilled his promise. John Kennedy waited for us on a hill in Arlington National Cemetery, and in time we came by the thousands to fill those slopes without white marble markers and to ask on the murmur of the wind if that was truly the future he had envisioned for us.”

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® 

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com 

© WR 2021 

 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

4750 The Longest War

 

Things got so bad in Afghanistan that refugees poured into Iran.  Iran! The poster country for Islamic revolution.  Or at least it was until this past weekend.

 

That’s when the Taliban finished its south-to-north push to Kabul, the president of the country fled and left his underlings to worry about which Taliban jail would serve them their last meals.

 

Twenty years of America’s war in Afghanistan followed the Soviet Union’s almost as lengthy try and an even longer one from Britain.

 

The reasons for the US going in were iffy in the first place. Here’s the rationale:

 

Osama bin Laden used the country as a practice field and training camp, then bombed the American mainland.  We had to stop copycat killers.  And evidently, we did for the most part.

 

How’d we do that?  Sending troops by the boat and planeload.  Sending billions of dollars in sophisticated weaponry.  Training, training and more training.  

 

Then, trump said “let’s get out of there.” So began our exit. When the trump people started talking directly with the Taliban, the legitimate government rightly decided America switched sides.  Biden continued the exodus.  And credit to both presidents… probably plenty of American lives were saved. But…

 

The Taliban began rising from the dead, began takeover battles… and rolled over those sophisticated weapons and all that training faster than Amtrak can get you from Los Angeles to Penn Station.

 

The president of the “regular” government first isolated himself, then got out of Kabul.  The American flag came down at the embassy compound faster than your 600 horsepower Corvette gets you to the donut shop three blocks from your house.  And with less ceremony.

 

So we must ask, why did the “regular” army fall apart.  Gen. Wesley Clark thinks he knows. He told TV interviewers that it’s a survival strategy.  Afghanistan has learned to go with the flow. The Taliban gained strength and population after the USSR pulled out… then went underground again when the Americans came in.

 

Clark says the dream of the Taliban is to die in battle while the dream of the regulars is to go home after work. There’s something to that. You know, play with the kids, have dinner. Watch a little ESPN. Lie down with whichever of your wives whose turn it is.

 

Meantime, has the Taliban gone all touchy-feely?  In their first news conference after “electing” themselves, the leadership said “Hey, we’re going to give women rights.” The leopard changed his spots? Later they amended the statement to include “within the norms of Islamic law.”

 

We’ll see.  But no one’s betting the rent on the likelihood that the people who stoned adulterers to death and cut off the hands of thieves yesterday are going to read “suspects” their Miranda rights today.  After all, in that region of the world you invoke the right to remain silent by someone cutting off your head.

 

In the meantime, over here… we have an obligation to help those who helped us over there. We have a moral obligation to do that and do it fast.  Get ‘em out without the TSA wandings and just hope no one is wearing a shoe bomb.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

Monday, August 16, 2021

4749 It's Time to Take a Stand

 

The Outlaw governors of some Confederate and near-confederate states refuse to recognize reality. They’ve turned the worst pandemic in the lives of anyone now living into a political game and the grand prize is death.  And it’s not a pretty death, not one where relatives surround your bed as you drift gracefully and peacefully into the Great Beyond.

 

Killer governors like DeSantis in Florida and Abbott in Texas are trying to forbid people from protecting themselves against Covid and encouraging the infected to pass it on to random strangers.

 

They don’t want you to mask up.  They don’t want you to vaccinate.  They have poll watchers with bodycams at the vaccination sites (the mall, the church, the clinic, but not your arm.)

 

They’re taking names.  And these poll watchers aren’t just on the lookout for fellow crazies who won’t mask and won’t vaccinate.  They’re practicing for the 2022 and 2024 elections.  Paid snoops with connections to government officials who want to destroy the government and you.

 What’s with these guys?  Is it a death wish?  Or is it a wider wish for the depopulation of America?

 Has it occurred to these … um … people that the population they’re eliminating is the very population that elevates them to their high-falutin’ offices?

 

Is it possible that this space likes those victims and potential victims more than they're liked by the people who have hypnotized them into thinking in tongues?

 

It’s hard to believe they don’t see this.

 

It’s especially disconcerting when voiced by people who believe the world was created five thousand or so years ago and that humans and dinosaurs once shared space on earth.

 

God will provide, they say.

 

Well… hasn’t He? Has he not given you science to learn and use?  If God created the earth and all that, did he not create science along with it?  Does He not want you to save yourself and given you the means to do it?

 

Let’s end with a most un-funny joke about a guy named Billybob who lived in Louisiana.  The hurricane starts with the usual wind and water. Billybob’s street starts to flood.  The floodwaters reach the first floor.  Billybob goes upstairs and prays while peering out the window.  A boat passes by. The boatman says “hey, Billybob, let me get you out of here.” Billybob says no, God will provide.  


Things get worse. Billybob climbs up on the roof.  A helicopter hovers above and throws him a rope.  Same response.

 

Soon, the water covers the house and Billybob drowns.  When he meets God, he’s angry about why He didn’t provide. God says “I sent you a boat and then a helicopter. You rejected them both.  Third strike, you’re out.  Welcome to heaven.”

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions: wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

MINI 031 Cuomo

 

In today’s world this had to happen.  Suddenly and sort of unexpectedly, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday.  His fellow Democrats from the President on down urged him to quit following charges of sexual misconduct against eleven women as a report he’d requested and received from the state Attorney General said.  

 

The report may not have been what he’d hoped for, but thumbs up or down, it gave him time to ramp up a defense.

 

The defense was a complete denial which no one believed.  Impeachment looms -- and may yet happen… which would prevent him from running again in the future.... And something that common sense would dictate anyway.

 

The gov. Is no dummy.  He can read the writing on the wall.  Sometimes he follows it.  This was one of those. He did the right thing after doing the wrong things.

 

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul -- pronounced HO’-kul -- will be the state’s first woman governor.  That only took 245 years plus a few days.  New York was admitted to the Union on July 9, 1776.

 

I’m wesrichards@gmail.com and also in real life.

My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

© WR 2021

 

Monday, August 09, 2021

4747 An American Suicide

 

Map of the United States. Either someone hacked the electric power grid, or the country is appropriately dressed in the black of mourning.

Suicide? Or maybe it’s a homicide. But in either case, the country has moved from rescue to recovery.  And the weapon is lying next to the body.  It’s a double-barreled shotgun.  Shot one is the pandemic and our reaction to it. Shot two is a group of vital organs that are designed to work together but are at war among themselves.

 

The Pandemic was relatively calm for awhile.  We humans profess to like calm, but we lie.  Calm is like a vacuum.  As soon as it shows up, we fill it.

 

When there was no vaccine, science filled that vacuum with one of the fastest chemical reactions since flame met paper for the first time.

 

It calmed things.  But not for long.  When there was no choice about vaccinations because there were none, we went about our business.  Then when vaccines appeared, we broke the calm by stampeding and demanding.

 

All the while, hospitals were being overrun with patients.  Many were drive-ins: Land in the emergency ward. Get checked in. Die.  Ah! Things are normal. The calmness vanished.

 

The vaccines began to work. People got calm. Thought about things. Decided making them vaccinate was an attack on their freedom.  Government intervention. Experimenting on… “me,” whichever me said so.

 

Then things got worse. Much worse. People had already figured the worst was over and started ditching their masks and cramming by large numbers into small spaces.  The result:  The rise of the Delta variant.

 

We’ll calm that, too, though naysayers go to motorcycle rallies and political rallies and catch the virus.

 

What’s the most common phrase you hear when wandering among hospital death beds?  “I wish I had been vaccinated.”

 

But this isn’t the worst of it. Let’s not forget the second shell from that double barreled shotgun.

 

The country is using Jiu jitsu -- using its own strength against itself.  Everyone has an issue with everyone else and everyone has the law on his or her side. How is that possible?  By making two centuries of laws that go in every direction at the same time.

 

You can see it in action in the fight over the president’s infrastructure bill.  One group using laws to stall another’s.  

 

The other side is using another set of laws to contradict the first. And the US Supreme Court, supposedly the arbitrator and decider of places law have in the self-created hierarchy, has become fully detached from its missions and become just another political clubhouse where fear and favor are the underpinnings of every decision.

 

Combine these two shotgun shells and you can’t expect the shot country to be anything but dead or dying. Are the shells working in tandem? It depends on which side you ask and in which moment.

 

So, whether suicide or homicide it’s going to require a mighty big coffin.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

Friday, August 06, 2021

4747 The Time Bank

 

 A little misleading.  There IS no time bank.  But think of what you could do if there were.

 

First, let’s get one thing straight: Time is your only real asset and it’s not renewable.  Forget relativity, spacetime, alternative universes. We get enough of that from physicists and gurus.

 

Time may be an artificial construct based on observable phenomena.  But in day to day use, it’s real.

 

And think of how much you squander.  If you could bank some of it, your life would be longer… generally considered a plus.

 

As in any market, there are gains and losses.  When the court has a missing item on its calendar and your case comes up early, you gain.  (Unless, of course, bail is denied and they take you directly to the electric chair.)

 

When the sign in the doctor’s office says if you’re more than 15 minutes late you will have to reschedule, you’ve lost time even if you’re only 16 minutes late.  Of course, if doc is late, no matter by how much, tough, buddy. Live with it.  He or she’s a doctor, after all.

 

You lose time on checkout lines, in traffic jams, waiting for “her” to put on her makeup after taking forever deciding on what to wear (still subject to change after the makeup’s done.) You lose time waiting for “him” to finish watching the ball game or the golf match.

 

You lose time when the foursome ahead of you on the 18th hole decides to drink and carouse before they get to the “19th Hole Lounge” in the clubhouse.

 

You lose time when you use the cash only lane on the George Washington Bridge and eight cars ahead of you is Jed Clampett in his 1928 Model- A Ford, trying to get directions to Rhinebeck followed by seven cars from Ohio.

 

These are times you can’t bank.  But think about the time you lose all by yourself.

 

An hour watching “The Voice” or the MTV awards is an hour you’ll never get back. A trip to the outlet mall is a day you can’t get back. 

 

The clock is not syncopated, it counts steadily.

 

Grapeshot:

-When you tell the bank teller you want to make a “time deposit” and she asks how much, and you answer about an hour” she’ll have you thrown out.

 

-Calling a watch a “timepiece” in an ad is pretentious, calling it a timepiece in conversation is ridiculous, printing the word on the watch face is gauche. 

 

-In the smartphone era, watches are jewelry because there’s no need to have one to tell time.

-Digital watches with LED readouts often have a zillion functions but they lack one you get only with analog: time remaining in the hour at a glance.

 

-Make that two functions… because a stopped analog is right twice a day, but a stopped digital is a blank face.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

4761 J-6

  Motivational speaker and discoverer of Jewish Space Lasers Marjorie Taylor Green.   So, who showed up at the Million Moron March on Wa...