Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

blame Swanson

 I want to begin by thanking Edie, a friend and fellow author, among her many other talents, for inspiring todays blog. Edie was writing about using disposable dinnerware for her Thanksgiving table. She went on to relate how in the past she used the good china and all of that. Several other folks left comments on that subject and it got me thinking. I too remember Mom getting out the good dishes, putting the linen on the table and even candles ! Yes Thanksgiving dinner was a big event and a formal one. Proper attire was required and proper deportment while at the table, no elbows ! It was the only dinner I recall the family saying grace at. As much as I would like to paint a different picture, that just wasn't so. I have no explanation for that other than it didn't happen. Well, my point is, it happened at Thanksgiving dinner, that's how important that dinner was.
 The more I thought about it the more I realized just how formal an affair that dinner was. Monies were spent for all the frills, nothing was held back. The table was set with the best we had , we wore our Sunday clothes, on a Thursday, and civility was the order of the day. That old story of everyone arguing with each other at Thanksgiving didn't happen at my house. Step out of line and you would be quickly reprimanded. You didn't get off easy by being sent out of the room either ! You were corrected and then had to demonstrate you had learned your lesson, no matter how grudgingly you did so. I can remember staring into my mashed potatoes having been corrected on some fine point of etiquette, like elbows on the table, or reaching in front of someone else. Yes it was demanded, at least on this one day, at this one meal, that you would behave yourself as a proper young gentleman. May I please have the salt ? Even Dad took his hat off at the table ! You just knew it was special.
 I was born in 1953 and so the Thanksgivings from my childhood would have taken place in the 1960's. In the 1960's families were still eating at the kitchen table. Supper was a set time of the day. We ate around six. That was supper time, be there or have a good reason not to be. When the evening meal was over, it was over. No microwave to reheat stuff and very little snack foods. There might be a bag of chips or pretzels but little else. But something else happened in 1953 as well. The TV dinner was introduced ! Following that came those TV snack trays, I have a set in the closet to this day. You still had to heat those dinners in the oven but now dinner got moved to the living room ! I'm thinking it was the beginning of the decline in civility ! Families no longer gathered at the supper table, the formality of eating a meal together was fractured. In 1967 Amana introduced their first Radar range ( a microwave for you younger folks ) and the fate of supper was sealed. And today, today a meal can be unwrapped, zapped and consumed just about anywhere. No set time, whatever is convenient. I wonder if any of this has any relationship to the obesity epidemic we are seeing in America ? Well that's for another day.
 I was just wondering what if ? What if we hadn't invented TV dinners. What if they had been called TV suppers ? Supper was eaten in the kitchen, dinner was eaten in the dining room. We didn't have a formal dining room, but the living room was transformed for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm thinking that TV dinners destroyed the dining room, didn't need them anymore when you could eat diner in front of the television. The family room was born. We started eating TV dinners  for supper !
 What if we still had to cook our meals, with real pots and pans over real fires ? Would families stay more connected ? Sharing food and drink with our families and friends does create bonds, that is well known. No one likes washing the dishes that can't be denied. In the 1960's the automatic dishwasher came into being. Still we all know they need to be rinsed before going in there and if there are a lot the machine is never big enough. The solution is disposable dishes ! Yup, that is what the TV dinner started. Those aluminum foil pans were designed to be thrown away, no need to set the table, no need to dirty dishes, just throw them out.
 As a man, a hunter gatherer, I must say sitting at the head of the table, overlooking the food I have provided for my family I do get a sense of accomplishment. I have reason to give thanks ! Isn't that a part of the tradition ? Some will label me a chauvinist for saying so, but it is a primal instinct. I'm thinking we would be better off if more men felt that instinct today ! It does provide a time to talk over the day, share our experiences and accomplishments. Ah but that is so 60's. Just zap your dinner and head to the mall, that's how it is done in 2017 ! Shoot just buy a fried turkey leg at the mall and skip the whole deal. You are going to need your rest for black Friday after all. No time for cooking and cleaning ! And you can blame Swanson and their TV dinners for all of that. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

seek the constant

 I've been writing and sharing my thoughts for about seven years now. It's hard to believe but the evidence is there. I do read them over every now and again. A title will catch my interest and I wonder what I was talking about. No, I don't remember everything I have ever written. I remember the stories, for the most part, but not necessarily the thoughts. I am pleased that my thoughts haven't changed very much from when I started. Oh, I know, the current narrative says I should be constantly changing my mind about things, being progressive and all, but I don't see what is wrong with just making a decision and sticking to it. I see a lot of folks stating the obvious and declaring that as some sort of revelation. Examples include, don't be a bully and don't be a racist. Yeah, see that a lot. Thing is, I've known that since childhood and it hasn't changed since. I pretty much feel the same way about most things. Fact is I can't think of any fundamental change I have made. I still believe in God, I still believe in telling the truth, and I still believe that most people are good. I still trust my instincts however, and act or react accordingly. Sometimes I'm accused of being prejudiced because of that. I call it having common sense and exercising discretion. Better safe than sorry ! Remember that old saying ?
 I understand their are few absolutes in the world. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west is one of them. What happens between those two events is less certain. It is up to you to provide a stable foundation. You can't live a life filled with chaos. In order to gain that stability you have to decide upon some things. Constantly changing your " beliefs " will not give you a solid basis for living. Oh you may gain temporary acceptance among others like yourself, but in the long run it will all come crumbling down. The reason is obvious, you don't have a solid foundation, when you rely upon public opinion to prop you up. You can't just keep changing your mind to please others. Others are not living your life ! And that, my friends, is what I think about that. I may not have much, but my life is my own. Along with that, my mission is not to change your life. Should you agree with me that's wonderful, should you disagree that's alright too. There is room enough for us all. We can talk it over and hopefully reach a compromise. Compromise isn't me saying you're right and I'm wrong. Seems a lot of folks are confused about that these days. Compromise isn't picking a side, it is standing in the middle.
 I suspect if I were to read all my postings as a whole I could find inconsistencies. Would those inconsistencies be were I changed my mind ? I don't think that is necessarily so. Our mood plays a big role in all of that. It does depend upon what was happening at the time I wrote that piece. There are things I haven't made my mind up about. Yes, there are things I just haven't made a final decision on. Those are the things that haven't really affected me ; yet. Maybe they never will. Knowing how you will react to a new situation is always speculation, no matter how prepared you may feel. Your initial response may be exactly as you thought it would be only to discover later on, it isn't ! Don't you hate it when you are faced with the truth. Those are the times that test our character.
 I think what we should be seeking are the constants. How can you define anything without having a constant to compare it against ? We are all searching for answers, answers to life. We all ask the same questions. We are never going to arrive at the same answers if we don't have a set of constants. Just like doing a mathematical problem, a constant is required. The constant must be defined. You have to define your own constants in order to arrive at your answers. If you rely upon others to define those constants you will not get an answer at all. All you will get is disappointment and disillusioned. A lot of that happening these days. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

throwing stones

 I listened to a potion of the news yesterday. I admit I haven't been paying as close attention as I used too. The reasons for that are many but the primary one is, I'm taking a break. Anyway I did hear a group of people protesting Roy Moore and his run for the senate. This particular group were proclaiming themselves Christians and calling Roy Moore an extremist ! That's correct. They were saying that Roy Moore is a Christian extremist and therefore unfit to run for office. One group of Christians opposing him and his supporters. I admit it is the first time I heard anyone called a Christian extremist ! It gave me pause, a reason to think about what was being alleged here. If a person is an extremist what is that implying ? What fanatical measures is this man proposing ? That is what an extremist does, take extreme or fanatical actions. What has he done ? I know what he is being accused of and that action has nothing to do with his religious beliefs. It is certainly upsetting to others holding Christian beliefs if true. But the question is, what kind of extremist is he ? They say a Christian extremist.
 Okay I understands there are many ways you can interpret what that means. To me, a Christian extremist would emulate Jesus as closely as possible. He, or she, would be turning the other cheek,  spreading the word of God, loving his neighbors as himself and all of that. Now that would be an extreme Christian. He certainly wouldn't be molesting children ! You would have to be a very bad Christian to do that, hardly an extreme Christian. The whole thing of one group of Christians calling another Christian an extremist just seems so, what's the word, unchristian ! Is it the pot calling the kettle black ? Just which one is the extremist ? I wouldn't call those that were involved with the Inquisition very Christian, although they certainly thought so. What is this group that is calling for the public shaming, indeed demanding he resign from the race, based on nothing more than accusations ? Other " Christians " did that with the witch hunts in Salem, remember that ? I just find it all very disturbing when one group of Christians is calling another group names ! Is this what we have come to ?
 I know of no portion in my Bible, Old or New testament that says pedophilia should be practiced. Oh, there is plenty of violence in the Bible no doubt about that. That violence was always directed by God to a certain individual to perform. The Bible doesn't say I personally have to commit any act of violence to attain entrance into heaven. The Bible does tell me all the things that are displeasing to my God. In modern times if I commit an act of violence, or any number of things saying God told me to do it, that reason will be suspect. Many that claim to be Christians will immediately deny that saying God wouldn't tell you to do that ! We even swear on the Bible as proof that we are telling the truth. If I swear on the Bible that God told me to do it, will it be believed ? Maybe, and if it is I will be sent to the nut house ! That's the truth of that.
 Look I don't know if Roy Moore is guilty or not. That is just my point. It's one thing for the public in general to say, I think he is guilty. We are all entitled to our opinions. That is why we have a court of law however, to separate opinion from fact. I find it very disturbing that a group of Christians would start accusing another person of being too Christian ! Isn't that what they are really saying. You are just too Christian for us, we condemn you without a trial. We are without sin and therefore we will throw the first stone ! Well, I think that is a bit extreme, you should too.   

Sunday, November 19, 2017

giving life to dreams

  Yesterday I was writing about what we remember, and how we remember it. I was asked for an explanation and my best response was, " that's my story and I'm sticking to it. " That is a line from a song performed by Collin Raye. In the song he was making excuses to his wife. We have all been guilty of doing that and when caught in the web, just stick to the lie. There isn't much else you can do at times. We are very much aware of the truth, yet choose to tell a different version. That isn't exactly what I meant by my posting, but it is the general idea. The lie isn't intended to cause harm, in fact its' purpose is to ease the pain. Yes, it is our pain that we are trying to assuage. Self preservation is a strong instinct in man.
 As the day went on and I considered what I had written further, I arrived at this conclusion. There are times when our memories give life to our dreams. I'm thinking that is why my memory of an event can be so different from yours. I have rewritten the script. I get to choose what I remember and how I wish to remember it. I am giving life to a past dream. It isn't intended to hurt anyone, its' intent is therapeutic. Holding onto good memories, even if they are a dream, makes aging more tolerable.
We all live with an awareness of our mortality. We do so even when we are young. Yes, many of us think we are invincible when we are teenagers and young adults, but the older we get the more we become aware of the truth. The future becomes more uncertain and so we must rely upon the past. Might as well make that past as pleasant as possible. That's my thinking anyway. I give life to my dreams. I remember things the way I wish they had gone, as I said yesterday, I remember my intentions. If your intentions were good, the memories will be as well. There are times when we must excuse ourselves, and so a little tweak to the story is necessary. It is that tweak the others may notice and call you out on. That is when I stick to the story ! That's what I remember. Self preservation and forgiveness come to the forefront.
 Our memories give life to our dreams. Dreams can be pleasant or unpleasant. So too, our memories. It is all in what we choose to remember. Remember the bad, and that is what you will live. Remember the good, and that is what you will live. We do more living in the past than we do in the present.That realization is a product of aging. For that reason I say store up the good memories, the good dreams to enjoy in the present, try to stay in comfortable places. You know what is comfortable ? The places we have already been. Throw a new coat of paint on them, enjoy them all over again. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

what I remember

 Occasionally I write a story from my childhood, or young adulthood, although you would be hard pressed to tell which is which sometimes. I am writing it the way I remember it. That isn't to say that it is necessarily factual. I do tend to remember the things I want to remember, the way I want to remember them. I think that is true for the majority of us. It isn't a conscious decision to do so, it is just a habit. What we are recording are our intentions, not the actual result. We know how the story should have ended. When the story didn't end the way we had envisioned, we just change the plot. In that way the desired result is achieved. It is a convenient mental health tool.
 We do this because we can't know the intentions of others. We know our motivations and intentions most of the time, although there are times I get lost, but we have to go forward by trusting others. There are times when the others don't cooperate with our plans. It is those times that change the story. Others are changing the plot and we resist that. I know what I want. When others change the plot it isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we almost always interpret it that way. The reason is obvious, we don't know how the story will end. In our mind we know how our story ends and so are confident in that. It is a trust issue. How many times has the story come out well after having followed this advice, trust me ? You know what I mean ?
 I was thinking about this because I was considering writing a story from those younger days. Those days would of course include people from that time period. Those folks would be aware of the story and the characters involved. The only problem with that is I'm quite certain they remember the story quite differently. I wouldn't want to upset anyone. I'll confess I do get annoyed when my remembrances are challenged. Hey, these are my memories and you can't tell me they are wrong ! But, they are just that, my memories, and aren't presented as historical facts ! They are subject to interpretation. People sometimes do that with dreams as well. When we alter our memory of events are we creating dreams ? I believe that is exactly what we are doing. It is how the story should have ended.
 Not every story has a happy ending, I am very much aware of that. We often hear how our lives are like a book and there are different chapters in that book. I agree with that analogy, it's just that I'm thinking in terms of paragraphs ! I do have a tendency to examine each and every line. I hesitate to change anything without having first seen the result. This has lead me down some roads I wish I hadn't traveled at all. You can't rewrite the book, but you can rewrite the paragraph ! Then the result isn't so unexpected and its' impact lessened. That is what we are doing with those memories. It is nothing more than a reinterpretation of the facts. I can't be responsible for what you believe.
 I'm thinking that this is just a mechanism for survival. It is designed to prevent us from dwelling  on the bad. I have known, and still know, some folks that haven't mastered this technique. They spend a great deal of their time languishing in their mistakes, saying what if. I rewrite the paragraph and so make the mistake a part of the story. That is how I can set it aside. It isn't that I place the fault on others, although that is sometimes helpful, I remind myself that I can't know the motivations or intentions of others. Then lacking that information I can further determine it really wasn't my fault. See how that works ? It's your fault, but not your fault. It then falls into the fate category. I have no control over fate. What I can control is what I remember. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

normal

 This is one of those rare mornings when I have little to say. I know, I'm surprised myself. Now I'm not saying I don't have a few opinions to share just that no one topic rises to the top. About a week ago I  was " unfriended " by someone. I'm still chuckling about that. Guess I touched a nerve. Well I can't bring myself to apologize for telling my truth. The comment that got me " unfriended " wasn't a direct personal attack on one person, but rather a generalized statement. Well, water under the bridge. Still it bugs me, nagging at my conscience. I'll keep examining that exchange.
 The big news is that Trump is killing the elephants ! Yes, that's what I hear. Because his sons are big game hunters he is now allowing all the elephants to be killed. Those elephants will be extinct by the end of his term ! Personally I think the story is being sensationalized just a bit. Well that's what the news people do these days. They seem to have all attended the Chicken Little school of Journalism. Every event, every decision, every accusation, is spelling disaster for the American way of life. We need the Democratic party to rescue us from ourselves. If only the election hadn't been influenced by the Russians and the electoral college hadn't done their job, Hillary would be president right now.
 Closer to home, in the city of Baltimore, an 18 year veteran detective was shot in the head and has passed away. A reward of 169,000 dollars is offered for information. That makes over 300 killed so far this year. It is those violent guns ! The mayor did show up on television saying she wasn't happy about any of that. Meanwhile, other officers are having administrative hearings because they did their jobs. The rioters were left unpunished, but the Police are under scrutiny. The government gave money to Baltimore to help in the rebuilding efforts. I think the newest plan is to try to " entitle " the thugs off the street.
 And then we have all this stuff about sexual misconduct. If it isn't movie stars , it's politicians. The accusations are flying fast and furious. One politician in particular is being vilified in the press and by Senators alike. They have gone so far as to indicate if he stays in the race and wins the election he will not be allowed to assume that office. Yes, think about that, our representatives are now threatening to decide who can assume office based on accusations alone. At the same time a currently serving Senator has pretty much admitted to sexual misconduct and no one is calling for his dismissal. Hypocrisy at its' finest ! And it doesn't matter what party or candidate is involved, that is not the point. Some are saying, well it wasn't that bad, he was just being funny. It was before he was elected so it doesn't count. So, you're saying because he did this five or six years ago it's alright ? But, if a woman accuses you of an offense from forty years ago, that's very bad, disqualifying even, no trial necessary !
 That's my random thoughts for this morning. Guess I'm getting old and starting to repeat myself. Fact is, I've been doing that for a while. I do believe there are things you can decide upon that never need to be changed. I understand that is a foreign concept to some. For some life is all about constant change. Really it is about what makes life easier for them, but they call it progress. Not everything can be improved, not everything needs to change. Take the wheel for instance. Round wheels are the best ones !
    

Thursday, November 16, 2017

a society of appeasement

 We often hear the phrase, the times are changing, in response to bad things happening. But is it time that changes, or is it people that change ? Einstein does say that time is a variable, in relation to motion, but in a different context. I'll leave explaining the universe and space time to him. What I'm thinking about is why people are responding in the fashion that they are. You know, all the terrible things we hear about in the news. Terrorists are everywhere it seems. Common citizens are attacking innocent people for no other purpose other than to kill. Just what is going on here ? Are the times really changing or is it the people ?
 I don't think it is necessarily people that are changing.  I don't believe much in the general nature of mankind has changed since ancient times. The same motivations drive our choices today as they did hundreds of years ago. Read any history book, read the Bible, read any religious text for that matter and it becomes clear. The motivations to do wrong are always the same. People haven't changed all that much since ancient times. For that reason I would have to conclude " education " has little to do with any of that. Really doesn't matter if you are a professor or just a pauper, the motivations are basically the same. The issue has been, and still remains, in defining what is wrong. And as far as man goes, right and wrong is determined by the society in which we live. It is society that is changing.
 I keep hearing about all the changes we need to make. We need gun control, we need mental health services, we need food banks and affordable housing, we need to be more inclusive, we need to be more accepting and on and on. It is society and the what we have allowed it to become that has brought us to where we are ! I agree we need to change things. We need to change them back to what they used to be. Oh, I'm not saying it was perfect in the past, I'm not saying there weren't injustices. What I am saying is our society was more civilized in the past than it is right now ! And just why is that ? In my estimation is the removal of accountability from the individual, and placing that accountability on government. You can not try moral offenses in a civil court. Make no mistake about it, what we are seeing here is moral decay. That decay is being fostered by the state, by society in general.
 The question is what moral state should we be attempting to maintain ? Regardless of any arguments to the contrary this country, this society was founded on Judeo-Christian values and ideals. The founding fathers spoke of this, wrote about it and codified it. It is right there in those documents for anyone to read. I think it is safe to say that our society flourished under those guidelines. I think it is also safe to say our society is degenerating the farther we move away from those values, those standards of moral conduct. It is clearly stated in the declaration of Independence with this paragraph, " We,Therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do in the Name, and by the authority of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare " and it continues from there. Note the appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world ? Just who were they referring too ? The obvious response is now being rejected by many, indeed being rejected by the very representatives that are signing legislation ! Why ? For the same reason mankind has always rejected that. It calls for accountability to a Supreme Judge. A Judge that can not be bribed, a Judge that remains impartial. A Judge without bias.
 Every major religion in the world teaches one thing. Their God is the only God. Christians have the first commandment that clearly states, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. God and " gods " have been used as the motivation for many things in this world, both good and bad. Belief in the " rectitude " of our actions should be the guideline. In my opinion we have begun to set aside rectitude in favor of appeasement. That is what has changed. People haven't changed all that much, our society certainly has. Our society was established with the " rectitude of our intentions " clearly stated. It has being modified by appeasement of the people and by appeasement of our legislators. It is my belief until we return to the intent of appeasing the Supreme Judge our society will continue to decline. Even a cursory review of history and the great societies will bear that out. History does repeat.       

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

justifiably armed ?

 I have read several stories about reactions to that horrific church shooting in Texas. As is expected they range from doing nothing, to the extreme opposite. Naturally emotions are high. There are some that are calling for the parishioners to come armed. Some are for placing a rifle in the pulpit ! Armed guards and security checks ? As tragic an event as that Texas shooting was, I struggle to justify taking such actions. I was taught, and unless something has changed, that places of worship are the house of God. It just doesn't seem right to turn them into armed fortresses.
 I remember when I was young the church doors were never locked. You were always welcome. The idea of locking the door at night wasn't a thing. I can't say for sure when that changed or exactly why. I expect it was because of vandalism, theft or other behaviors making it a necessity. That was the response to those that would do evil, we tried to just lock them out. The idea that someone would rob or otherwise cause damage to a church just wasn't thought about. It truly was a different time in America. Social attitudes were far different. I do have to say I was living in a very rural area and crime in general was very low. In larger cities and towns the circumstances may have been different. But, in my experience, locking the doors of the church caused a bit of consternation, not only to myself, but to the community in general. Truth is, it still does on a personal level. Now I'm hearing about arming ourselves before we go to church. Suit and tie and a forty five.
 The church should be a bastion of Christian values. I do not believe we should turn them into fortresses. Shouldn't we be trusting our God to defend us ? I'm having a hard time reconciling the idea that I should come armed, ready to defend myself, while praising the Lord. If we feel the necessity to go armed to church, shouldn't we be armed at all times ? The possibility exists that another person with a gun will attempt to do harm wherever we go. If we feel that threat so strongly in our churches and synagogues, why not the grocery store or Burger King ? The case can then be made for everyone being armed, everywhere, all the time. The notion that there are armed people that will only use their weapon for good ( the white hats ) and there are those that only use their guns for bad ( the black hats ) is a fiction made in Hollywood. And proper training will not negate the possibility of mistakes being made. Remember when it comes to gun battles the one shooting first usually wins ! That's just how that works.
 The consequences of these choices are life and death. Yes, I believe we have a right to defend ourselves. At the same time Jesus did teach to turn the other cheek. He said in regard to the statement about an eye for an eye verses in the old testament. I understand the majority of us are not up to that task. I can say, without reservation, that I am not. I will defend myself. I will fall short in the eyes of God and rely upon his mercy. That doesn't mean that I should take that mercy for granted, I will be judged ! As I have stated before, Remember : you only have to fear judgement if you are guilty. Does God judge you innocent if you come armed, ready for a fight ? Is it justified if you don't fire first ?  I have no answer for any of  this. I'm thinking it comes down to deciding what you fear more, the judgement of a crazed gunman, or the judgement of God. Granted the one is more immediate than the other. Truly these are times that test our faith.
 I think about all of this while supporting the second amendment. Yes, I do believe we all have a right to bear arms. A well armed militia is necessary to the security of a free state. Soldiers have always had to set aside their religious belief to justify war. The old testament is full of violence. We had the crusades to reclaim the Holy lands. So, it is not unheard of, this notion of, Onward Christian Soldiers. The difficulty lies in reconciling the two. The difficulty comes from trying to reconcile Gods law with mans law. That is why the separation of church and state in the first place. God will not judge us in civil matters, only in matters of faith. That is what God demands of us, faith. Then the question becomes, can you separate faith from civil responsibility ? You can, as long as you don't use one to justify the other. It is a civil responsibility to protect those around me from harm as best as I can. I have no right to stand idly by relying solely upon my belief for intervention on another's behalf. I can " turn my cheek " but that doesn't relieve me of an obligation to help you. That is a social responsibility. We have even made law regarding that. We call them " good Samaritan " laws. I can't just walk by you as you lie in distress saying, God will save you. Does that mean I have an obligation to carry a gun to church ? Does that mean you are wrong to carry a gun to church ? Again I am left wondering. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Judgemental ?

 It is come to the forefront of my thinking the last few days. You have that Ray Moore guy running for a senate seat. Some reporter from the Washington Post finds a woman that then accuses this Moore fella of inappropriate behavior from 39 years ago. All at once he is convicted in public opinion. To make matters worse several current politicians and even the current governor of Maryland is telling this guy to just step down. You can only assume they all believe him to be guilty. Now I'm not saying he is or isn't guilty, I have no idea. Yes, I am completely impartial. Only by listening to the news cast did I know anything of him at all. I hear he is a republican candidate. I also heard he had some issues in the past but not serious enough to disbar him, as he is still a Judge. What I don't understand is why the public condemnation of this particular person ! Are we not innocent until proven guilty ? It sure doesn't seem that way in this case. Sadly I am not surprised about that but I am surprised that current politicians and lawmakers are condemning him ! Hey, its' one thing for you or I sitting on a bar stool somewhere having a beer to say such, but having a sitting governor do that ? What message is then being sent ? He's guilty ? Well what other stuff has Governor Hogan and others decided upon without a fair trial or a impartial hearing ? Am I the only one that finds this disturbing ?
 Just what is on going here ? All I hear is don't judge. If you judge people you are just a prejudicial bigot or worse. We have to be all inclusive, tolerant, accepting and allow others to identify themselves in any way they wish. Well, unless you are accused of sexual assault from 39 years ago, then it is immediate condemnation. What evidence has been offered ? None, other than her own words. I understand others have joined in now, having regained the memory of the most traumatic event to have happened to them ! Interestingly I heard someone started a hash tag thing ten years ago in New York, #metoo.  Yes I can proudly wear a tee shirt and post to social media #metoo. so as not to miss out on the attention. In the quest for trophy's' it doesn't really matter what you get them for, just don't miss out ! All aboard the pity train, #metoo. I'm sorry that just doesn't lend much credence to these claims in my eyes.
 I am not saying it didn't happen. I am not saying these women are liars. I am not saying because it may have happened 40 years ago it doesn't count. What I am saying is what evidence is being presented ? Why are we automatically accepting the word of this person, and others ? Ask anyone in Jail and they will tell you they are innocent. Is it because the accusation involves a man and a minor female child ? If the charges are heinous enough we can skip the trial and go right to the punishment phase ? Is it because a woman would never lie about that ? If she uses #metoo, that is concrete proof.
I just don't get it. We have hundreds of people in prison for murder, rape, and any number of heinous crimes that we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt  they are guilty. Yet, we have hundreds, even thousands of people pleading for leniency on their behalf, the death penalty is cruel and unusual in many states, we advocate for their rehabilitation  and counseling. They should be given another chance. But, this woman regains a memory from 39 years ago, makes an accusation and the guy is guilty ! He should suspend his campaign for political office and resign in shame. Just how does that work ? What a sad commentary of the state of America.
 Looks like a great way to eliminate the competition to me. I'll just start accusing whoever or whatever. No facts are necessary. I'll just hashtag it ! The next person that says to me, don't be so judgmental, is going to get an earful ! That much is for sure. If you are angry about this you may hash tag it  #I'mwithben      
 

Monday, November 13, 2017

unqualified pride

 There are times when I feel unqualified. When I was asked to say a few words at the Veterans day ceremony, I did feel a little unqualified. I was honored to be asked and justified the acceptance of that honor by the knowledge that Veterans day is for all Veterans. I'm one of those alright. Still, I feel a bit unqualified. I served for twenty years and retired. The qualification that is lacking ? I remain untested. The closet I came to battle was transiting the straights of Hormuz during operation desert shield/desert storm. We sat ready, at battle stations in case of missile attack. We weren't attacked. Not much of a test.
 I joined the Navy in 1971 as the war in Vietnam was winding down. I had seen men leave and never come back. The evening news started showing the horrific results of war in real time, for the first time in history. I knew many that were protesting that war, I saw how those vets that were lucky enough to return were treated. Yes, it was a tumultuous time in America. In truth, when hasn't it been ? My ship sailed off the coast of Vietnam supplying oil to other vessels engaged in the battle. I was safely back, the Vietnamese had no ships to threaten us and certainly no air power. I was safe enough. It wasn't until years later that I sailed in harms way. Even then the odds of anything happening where pretty slim. It wasn't much of a risk. A sacrifice ? I hardly view it in that way. It was more of an inconvenience. I was compensated for my time and service. I had signed the contract, all I needed to do was what I was directed to do. Pretty easy. Blind luck or divine intervention ? That is a tough one. If God were truly protecting me, he would have also had to protect all those around me. I myself not being the most devout Christian, and some I knew around me denying his very existence, that would seem improbable. I wasn't thinking about that at the time. Today my philosophy is that God doesn't directly interfere in our life. Through belief and prayer you will be guided, but God won't grab your hand and walk you ! You have been given free will to act as you please. But setting aside philosophy, I do feel unqualified at times.
 Now I never wanted to rush into battle, nothing so glorious as that. I have never had that desire that so many young men seem to have. I never felt that I had to prove myself. Now, having been unproven in battle I feel a little lacking. I joined the Navy for the opportunity it offered. It was also an honorable choice. I would get to display a bit of bravado without being in too much danger. That thought had entered my thinking when making the choice. GI Joe was fun to watch on television and in those war movies, but I was aware of the reality as well. Was it rational thought or a bit of cowardice ? That is the question I still struggle with to this day. That is why I cringe at the word, hero. I'm no hero. How can you be a hero if you have not been tested in battle, in a life and death struggle ? I've done nothing heroic ! I did exactly what I obligated myself to do. Even that I didn't do flawlessly, I made poor choices at times. It wasn't all Anchors Aweigh and sailing into harms way. I can say I would have responded had the need arisen. But how would I react ? That is the question left unanswered. It is also a question that will never be answered. My time has past. I do have to thank my God for his protection.
 I have to look back upon those years of service as a lesson in humility. It is a difficult lesson. I made my decisions based on my needs. That is the truth of it. I stumbled upon this quote by Charles Caleb Cotton that made me think.  " The greatest friend of Truth is time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility. " Was it humility that inspired my thoughts and actions over the years ? Well, that sounds better than self preservation. Should I take pride in my service ? The immediate response is always, yes. I fulfilled every obligation. I did my duty. I can be proud of that. When I hear that word pride, I remember this statement, " Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. " ( Thomas Merton ) I understand that sentiment exactly. It is my thinking that pride should be replaced with contentment. Contentment is what brings us peace. For some of us that peace is a long time coming. Time is how we measure understanding. And understanding will come in time.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

being a patroit

 The meaning and use of words has always been important to me. I guess I have always wanted to know exactly what it is you are trying to say. I have always been aware that the same word or phrase can mean vastly different things. Context is of primary importance. You do have to know when and where those words or phrases are being used.  Now that isn't to say I feel like I have such an extensive vocabulary, I haven't actively searched out and learned new words but rather tried to learn the ones that made my thoughts clear. There are times when words do get confusing and I have to look them up. Often there are several meanings listed. That is where knowing the context will clear things up. Another interesting thing to me is how that meaning can change over time. The word that comes to mind this morning is Patriot. I'm certain that is simply because we have just finished celebrating Veterans day. I used that word, a description really, in my brief address yesterday at our Veterans day ceremony. I summed up my thoughts by saying. " We remain citizens only by their sacrifice, may we never take freedom for granted, it was won by Patriots and is preserved by Veterans. "
 I wonder now how many share my understanding of the word patriot. To me a patriot is one that loves and defends his nation. That doesn't imply a blind obedience to that nation. In fact a true patriot will fight for what they believe to be the correct action for government to take. We live in a Republic. How many understand what a Republic is ? It is understandable that many would be confused about that. Our political leaders, our teachers and others often call our government a Democracy, which it is most definitely is not. Does it employ democratic principles ? Yes it most certainly does, but it is not a democracy. The distinction is subtle but it is distinction. When Ben Franklin was asked, following the constitutional convention, what form of Government do we have Doctor ? His response was, a Republic is you can but keep it. Why did he say that ? Because he knew that to be the truth of it. He also knew that Aristotle, hundreds of years in the past, had written  " Republics decline into democracies, democracies degenerate into despotisms." Have we reached the " democracy " phase ?
 There are certainly many who believe that to be so and even more that believe that is a good thing. The truth is, it is a decline, just as Aristotle said. And what is very troubling is that Patriots are now being labeled Nationalists ! They are entirely different descriptions and are not interchangeable. Just as so many interchange Democracy with Republic, they are substituting Patriot with Nationalist. As an American you should be alarmed by this. Instead many are blindly and foolishly accepting this. Given a few more generation and despotism will be the result.
 I know I sound like chicken little, the sky is falling. I would ask you to consider this. There is much talk of how our government needs to provide for its' citizens. But is charity a function of government ? It certainly is not and that is why it is not included in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Remember it is those documents that delineate our government ! Those documents form a Republic.  Daniel Webster stated in his address to the Senate, " It is, Sir, the peoples government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared that this constitution shall be the supreme law. " If we the people allow the government to operate, unchecked, outside the boundaries of those documents , we the people have relinquished our republic. We the people are not answerable to the government, the government is answerable to us ! It was Patriots that rejected King George and subsequently won the freedom we all enjoy today. They were not Nationalists ! Nationalists were called Tories back then. Time and context once again.
 I fear our nation has gone bankrupt. We are morally bankrupt, financially bankrupt and there is no one to lead us. We are so busy fighting among ourselves that we are missing the bigger picture. Slowly the government that we the people formed is taking control of us. What portion of our citizenry is dependent solely upon government for their subsistence ? Oh, but you say, that is charity. And I respond charity is not the function of government. You won't hear it on the evening news but as of 2012, 49.6 % of the population is dependent upon the government in some fashion. The fact remains, if the government can not pay out the benefits they currently pay out, almost half the population would be in desperate straights. Half way to total dependence upon the government ! Think about that. A democratic choice ? It seems apparent to me but then I'm no great scholar. We the people have voted ourselves right into dependence. We have allowed the government to run unchecked in the name of charity. Instead of focusing upon the health of the nation, we have focused on helping ourselves ! Yes, it will take Patriots to rectify this situation. Patriots willing to fight for the government, not for their personal wants or needs. We the people have that power, we need to exercise it before it is taken away. Patriots neither wanted nor endorsed a Democracy because they knew what that meant. The 51 impose their will upon the 49. A Republic is for all the people.
 Well it is a lot to think about but it is what was on my mind this morning. I believe there are many patriots left in this land. All the others are a distraction, that much is certain. Those with the power doing everything they can to retain that power, those that wish to give it all away, and those that are plain misguided. It is time to focus upon the Republic ! That is what we face. Are we going to allow it to decline into a democracy ?  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

what was offered

 Today in Greensboro we are planting trees in remembrance of our veterans. I was asked to say a few words at a brief ceremony. I am honored to do so. Greensboro does not have a parade for Veterans day and this will be the only observance of an official nature. Yesterday I did help place the flags on the graves of all those veterans having been relieved of their duty. Being a veteran is a lifetime commitment. Their service didn't end with their tour of duty. I believe I can speak for the majority of veterans when I say, I wasn't relieved of my duty when I was discharged or placed on the retired list. That duty remains with us. I stand ready to answer the call should that become a necessity.
  In recent years it has come to light the alarming rate of suicide among our veterans. All that can be done is the offering of help and understanding. The reason for such an increase I'll leave to the experts. The important thing to remember here is that Veterans day is to remember all veterans. The duration of service ( a minimum of 90 days is required for you sticklers out there ) is not important. Whether that veteran served on the front line or served in a support position doesn't define the commitment. What we need to remember is that individual basically relinquished their freedom to serve others ! Those others are you and I, the citizens of this great nation. They promised to die in defense of your freedom if that became necessary. There were no limitations set. The sole contractual obligation was to obey the orders of the President of the United Sates and those officers appointed over them !
  Originally veterans day was called remembrance day. It is a day to remember all those that have served our nation. The red poppy represents the blood shed in the fight. The symbolism is obvious. But that isn't the whole story. Those same poppies represent new life, new hope for the future. In the poem on Flanders field that is what the author is trying to convey. It was the growth of those poppies that inspired his writing, not the death of soldiers. That is the lesson to teach our children, freedom does come at a price. Some will pay with their lives, some will be wounded in a physical sense, and others suffer from mental anguish. Every veteran paid a price That is what we need to remember ! It isn't so much what was taken, it is what was offered.
This is the last verse of that famous poem, On Flanders Field


 Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields


John McCrae wrote those words on May 3, 1915. The day before he had buried his good friend, Alexis Helmer, killed instantly by a German bomb blast. The only words spoken were what he could recall from the "order of ceremony of the dead " from the Church of England prayer book. There was no chaplain present and the ceremony had to be performed in darkness and secrecy. In the morning, with a gentle breeze blowing across the battlefield, John McCrae contemplated the loss of his friend and all those others lost to the battle. He determined to fight on, to keep faith with those who died. I'm certain he never forgot his friend and wished the same for each and every soldier that ever laced up the boots. We must all " keep the faith " as a solemn obligation, a debt to be satisfied for that is the cost of the freedom we enjoy. Sleep peacefully my brothers and sisters for I will carry that torch until my hands fail me, sleep peacefully knowing the line is unbroken and the Poppies still grow at Flanders Field.


Friday, November 10, 2017

standing in line

 Once again, all too frequently lately, I was reminded. I read of the passing of another person of a certain generation. That generation is that of my parents. I have always been told that as you age time speeds up. I am learning that lesson well, through experience and yes, over time.  It was a fact never hidden from me or glossed over. People pass away. A polite way of saying, they die. Now passing away is taking on a deeper meaning than that, passing away means they are in the past. All that remains is the memory of that person and whatever physical articles they may have acquired. Those articles will be fought over, distributed, and discarded, not necessarily in that order. But now I am thinking about an entire generation passing away. Surely that is a sign that I too have been around longer than I care to admit. I'm fortunate in that I still have my Mom. She is one of ten children, nine of which have passed on. The last of her generation from that family.
 That generation has been labeled the Traditionalists or Silent generation. It was they who gave birth to the baby boomers. They are called the silent generation because they were taught as children, to be silent. Children should be seen and not heard. A traditionalist today is at least 72 years old today. If you are a man your average life expectancy is 76 and for a women it is 81. So if we go by the average it won't be much longer. Fortunately there are those that will exceed that expectation. My Mom has done that by seven years already. Generations overlap.
 There are six generations alive today. The only one older than the traditionalists are the GI generation. Their numbers are miniscule. They were born prior to 1924 and would be at least 93 today. They are less than 2% of the population. Their time has come and gone, the ones remaining admired as a curiosity, their age something to aspire to. Their children, the silent generation will follow them and I watch that progress. It is the natural order of the world and nothing to be done about it. It is a sobering realization as the line for departure grows shorter.
 I heard of the passing of the last soldier from WW1. In 2011, six years ago, Frank Buckles passed at the age of 110. The last American " dough " boy from the war to end all wars.  The silent generation sent about 16 million " dog faces " to WW2. It is estimated they are leaving us at a rate of 492 every day.  By 2036 there will be no living veterans of WW2. Will I live to hear that news ?  I would have to become an aberration to do so, I would have to exceed what is expected. I would have to live to see the age of ninety ! It's a possibility.
 Saying goodbye to the GI generation is far more likely. Their generation is defined as being born between 1901 and 1924. Estimates are the last will leave us within the next twenty years. It is hard to imagine an entire generation gone. Oh it isn't hard when you never knew anyone from that generation. Those folks are just historical figures. Their lives and accomplishments are subject to review and revision. Mr. Albert Woolson passed in 1956. I was three years old. Who was he ? He was the last veteran of the civil war. He had fought for the union. Can you imagine how he must have felt about what history had recorded in his lifetime ?
 Each generation is distinct in its' beliefs and actions. Sociologists have written great tomes about this very subject. It is they that label the generations. That is a more modern day thing though. The labeling and time frames are disputed among those scholars. All agree that there are six living generations, that is the limit. That may change as we increase our lifespan. When we are born we are number six in the queue. The big question we all have, the one left unanswered is, will we make it to number one ? Number one means you're next. I'm standing at number three according to my calculations. I'm only half way ! This is one time I don't mind standing in line. Fact is, I'm hoping the line doesn't move at all.       

Thursday, November 9, 2017

without a net

 I watched another advertisement for some kind of rehabilitation center. It is just another in a stream of those ads. I can only assume business is booming. The spokesperson was citing figures and statistics that were eye opening. I caught the fact that it had been determined only 11 % of the people needing this help were actually getting it ! That's right, they felt there should be an increase in business of at least 89% ! The implication was clear,  few of us can make it on our own. Of course from my viewpoint that help needs to come from your belief in a higher power. That is just one step nowadays in at least twelve you have to take. I haven't checked it out but I wouldn't be surprised to learn there are a few more steps to be taken beyond the twelve, along with medication. I'm thinking it probably requires some sort of continuing care, at a continuing cost. But then I've been accused of being a skeptic.
 Now I won't deny that life can be hard. It isn't easy to walk the straight and narrow. We all slip now and again. When that happens we must regain our balance and continue on. It can be similar to walking a tight rope. When things are going good, going your way so to speak, it is easy. Then something goes wrong, that rope begins to sway beneath you, and you hesitate. You do feel like you are going to fall.
 In the past we relied upon our ability to recover. It would seem these days we are working with a net ! That is what all these rehabilitation centers are about. They are safety nets. They are provided to negate the consequences of failure. You are not held to account. You will get another chance, a do-over. Having fallen into the net many are rewarded for that action. The fear of falling is reduced, the desire to remain on the straight and narrow isn't as important. Confidence is replaced by what ? Reliance, arrogance and pride is the answer. I can just do as I please and not suffer any consequence. I will be empowered ! Isn't that the message being sent, a message of empowerment. Should I fall and land safely in the net that isn't a failure, it is an empowerment. I'm a survivor ! Well, I'd say you have been recued. The lesson you should learn is humility, not empowerment. Oh but that isn't the lesson plan for today is it ? We will be empowered by those failures and hold them up for everyone to see and admire. See, I failed and survived ! The message is clear enough, you can too. According to that ad, 89% of us should be doing just that. Why aren't we falling into the net ! It's a failure.
 Now I've been accused of being old fashioned and a skeptic. Okay, old fashioned is too gentle a description of what some say about my view of things. The string of adjectives to complete that thought isn't necessary, you can fill in the blanks for yourself. My point being I have seen a fundamental shift in the way our children are being raised. I was taught to work without a net ! If I slipped and fell it was I that had to pay the price. I may or may not get a do-over. The implication was always, probably not. The other part of that was if you required the use of a safety net that wasn't anything to be proud of. Yes, it was expected you would be ashamed of yourself. That was for a simple reason, you were also expected to know better ! You were to blame, not inanimate objects, peer pressure, or political correctness.
 What I heard in that ad and so many like it was this, it is alright to fall. Fall as many times as you need, we are here to catch you. As long as you can pay the price of admission you can remain in the circus. Sure you can't perform very well but that's alright. Fall enough times and we'll make you a spokesman ! It isn't pity that is being extended, it is admiration ! That's the message being sent these days. You will be admired for your courage ! You're a survivor ! And this is where I  get labeled, I say you failed. You should acknowledge that failure as a shortcoming, not a victory. The goal in life is not to fall into the net, but stay on the wire. We should be teaching our children to work without a net ! Instead of telling us 89% more people should use that net, the goal should be that 11% less require it.  
 
 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

never forgotten

 It is that time of year again, time for Wreaths across America. I have written about this in past years but thought I would write a reminder. This campaign is to provide a Christmas Wreath, or Holiday Wreath if you prefer that term, for every Veterans grave. I have been involved with this the last three years and I can't tell you the satisfaction I get from it. Here in Greensboro I have my sons' father in law and a couple of neighbors that were Vets and so they get honored. I have also adopted a Colonel Comegy, civil war veteran, and ensure he gets a wreath. I never see any flowers or mementos at his gravesite and so feel he has no family left in the area. I just wouldn't want him to be forgotten. Forgotten graves are one of the saddest things I can imagine. Were I able I would provide each and every Veteran a wreath. Truth is, if I were able I would provide each and every grave one. Last I knew the estimate was at 10,000 souls. I will not estimate the number forgotten. I think of them as unvisited. I believe someone , somewhere, remembers those names. But, back to Wreaths Across America.
 Ordering your wreaths is a easy thing to do. You can go to their website and order from there. It takes a little searching around but a list of participating cemeteries is provided. All you have to do is list the cemetery and the name of the person you would like given a wreath. Volunteers place them on the graves on December 16. That order must be placed by Nov 27th. You can also just order wreaths for unnamed individuals and they will be placed on a veterans gravesite at random. There is a link to the website for ordering wreaths on the Greensboro Historical Society on Facebook ! Should you choose to order through that organization, of which I am a member, it would be appreciated. For every wreath ordered the Historical Society receives five dollars back from Wreaths across America. Last year we used those funds to buy American flags to place on the graves on Veterans Day. We are hoping to buy flags representing the branch of service for each veteran as well.
 It wasn't my intent to turn this blog into a sales pitch and I apologize for that. I did want everyone to be aware of this campaign. It is something that speaks to me. Last year the cemetery where the majority of my family lies did not participate in this program. It is a matter of volunteering to lay the wreaths. Of course someone has to organize the whole thing. For me, the fundraising part is secondary. I encourage everyone to participate and I really don't care where you order your wreaths from. There are plenty of places you can check to see where your ancestors may be buried. I use Find-A-Grave myself. It is free and has quite a big listing.
 Well that is my thoughts for this morning. Like I said you can go to The Greensboro Historical Society on Facebook. Make sure it is Greensboro Maryland and just scroll down the page. You will see a piece about Wreaths across America and in that piece there is a link to order wreaths. Remember you don't have to send the wreath to the Greensboro cemetery from there. You can send them to any participating cemetery in the country. The historical society in Greensboro will get the credit for the sale however. That's a good thing. No veteran should ever be forgotten, especially at Christmas. This is one small way of remembering them.

Just type this in the search block of your browser  : https://wreaths.fastport.com/donateLocation.html?page=42810    I think this will work, if not just google wreaths across America.


   

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

fair enough

You ever wonder about things ? I do, all the time. Lately I've been wondering about the proposed tax plan from the Trump administration. I haven't really seen it in its' entirety or read it. Generally all I have seen or heard is what the political pundits have to say. Those opinions, for the most part are sharply divided along party lines. I do try to keep in mind that generally speaking the people that are offering these opinions are the ones with a great deal more money than I. I'm certain that changes the perspective entirely. Perhaps these folks are reading the proposed changes and have a complete and thorough understanding of it all. Perhaps they don't.
 Now the thing is I also hear a lot of talk from common everyday people, just like me. I readily confess I don't understand the current tax code and question whether there is anyone that does. When you stop and consider there is a whole industry devoted to figuring out the tax code and filing forms for compliance, it should come as no surprise the average citizen really doesn't have a clue. How many are employed in this business ? How many lawyers and tax consultants are there ? These question are all rhetorical  as there is no real answer to any of it. The tax code is a jungle of laws where every law has a loophole of some kind to benefit whomever first wrote the code. Understanding that much my friends is common sense. Everyone should pay their fair share ! It is defining the fair share that is the issue. If I'm the one writing it, my share isn't the same as yours, of that much you can be certain.
 But the thing I was wondering about is how so many became tax experts overnight. I hear all manner of things explaining how the proposed tax code will make the poor, poorer. Well, unless you are really poor than you don't need to be concerned with any of this stuff, just collect your tax free money. If you are low income folks this is going to make you poor. If you are low-middle income this will make you low income. If you are upper middle class you could wind up, gasp, middle class !  Of course if you are wealthy, your wealth increases. That is the way this new tax system is going to work. That's the way the tax system has always worked right ? The rich people should just pay for everything ! It isn't fair. Thing is, where do rich people get their money ? They get it by providing goods and services to people just like you and I. That money is called , profit ! Amazing thing about profits, it increases your wealth. So how much profit is too much profit ? How much money is too much money ? Shall we put a cap on that ? You are only allowed so much money, anything beyond that threshold must be shared with everyone else ? Limited capitalism ? Or would that be limited socialism ? Is that what we should be striving for ? We will tax the wealthy to the point they become poor like the rest of us ! Then everyone is poor and everyone is happy being poor. Sounds like a fine plan.
 I'm not much of a numbers guy and surely haven't spent a great deal of my time worrying about taxes and money. I have what money I have because I earned that money, no matter the abundance or lack thereof. Taxes are inevitable. But here is an interesting tidbit of information you so seldom hear. According to the Wall Street Journal, still, as far as I know the most respected financial newspaper in the country, the top 20% of earner in this country pay 84% of all income tax received. Stop, let that sink in. The top 20% of earners pay 84% of all income tax collected. Does that seem fair to you ? Then factor this fact into the mix, the bottom 20% get paid from those taxes. That's right, 20% get paid by Uncle Sam. Now like I said I'm not much of a numbers guy but if we were to equally distribute the amount of tax collected over that entire spectrum, from rich to poor  how much is everyone's share going to be ? Well, I can't do that math but I do know it would cost me a whole lot more than what I'm paying now. I look at it like this. 10 people have to pay a tax and the total tax is 100 hundred dollars. The tax code as it is written now says, the top 20% (2 ) will pay 84% of the tax. That means two people each pay 42 cents, two people ( another 20% ) get paid two cents each, leaving six people to pay the 14 cents necessary to reach the tax goal of 100 dollars. Seems right doesn't it ? So how much are you the taxpayer not in either category going to pay ?  You owe 2.3 cents. Make it fair, everyone pays the same, now you owe 10 cents. Sounds fair enough right ? 

Monday, November 6, 2017

knowing why

 I expect the gun control debate will begin anew. The cries for something to be done will reach a crescendo. Then something else will happen and that debate quiets down once gain. Just why this 26 year old white guy that had been given a bad discharge conduct discharge from the Air Force did what he did we may never know. Yes it could be argued that if he didn't have a gun he couldn't have done that. Oh, but that it were that easy. Fact is, it is a person problem not a gun problem. We need to figure out what went wrong in our society that has got us to this point. What happened to the moral compass ? How did we get here, where life means so little to so many ? And it isn't just guns doing the harm. Drugs are taking lives at an alarming rate, just that they take one at a time. Look at the rate of abortion ? No matter how you spin that you are taking lives. And that we claim as a right ! What value is placed on life then ?
 So once again we are faced with a tragedy. Once again the search for answers begins. Why ? That is what is being asked and there is no reasonable answer to that question. There can be no explanation. In truth, would it make any difference ? Does it matter why ? What we have to deal with is the reality. Is there anything that could be done to prevent this from ever happening again ? The answer is no. A single person or a group of people can not be prevented from doing these acts. Yes, it was a gun but could just as easily been a bomb or anything else. Saying not as many would be killed if he didn't have a gun is sheer speculation, wishful thinking. We would all like to think that no one would be subject to this sort of thing.
 Is there anything that can be done ? Sadly the answer is no. There is nothing that can be done. You can't change the hearts of people that have evil intent. There is no way you can remove all objects from the hands of those that would use those objects to cause harm. Cain killed Abel with a rock. One murder is too many. It is like Pandoras' box, the evil can not be contained. In that myth all the evil was let out of the jar and when the jar was closed all that remained inside was hope. The lesson is still applicable. All we have left is hope.
 If we knew the reason why, would that change anything ? Does anyone really believe that they can satisfy the needs or wants of everyone ? Does it make a difference what those wants or needs are ? Can anyone or any government provide everything for everyone all the time ? Or will there always be those that just aren't satisfied ? Knowing the reason why is only useful if you can travel back in time. If I could do that, I would be able to satisfy whatever need that person had and prevent the action from happening. Knowing why after the fact is only a comfort to those left. That is because it gives us hope. If we know why we can prevent it right ? Why do bad things happen to good people ? It's because of bad people. Why are some people bad ? Answer that, and you will have found the key. Then all that would be left is deciding what is good and bad.     

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Forbearance

 He wore blue jeans and a flannel shirt jacket as I watched him walk slowly across the cemetery. I was just driving by, coming home from the hardware store. Just before I passed him he had stopped and with his neck crooked forward I saw him staring at the stone. At that moment a wave of emotion swept over me. It was a mixture of sorrow and peace. Just as quickly, the feeling was gone and I was left wondering, why ? Why that response, at that time ?  I don't know that man, don't know who he was visiting, and ride by that cemetery almost daily. He certainly wasn't the first person I've seen do that. Was it because of his age ? He looked to be just a bit older than myself. Was it because of his dress ? That outfit could have been borrowed from my closet. Was it the grey hair, or the manner in which he stood so still, so contemplative ? Mostly I wonder, why did I notice all of that and it remain in my thoughts. That drive by happened two days ago. It doesn't strike me as premonition, it doesn't have that quality to it. It strikes me more as resignation. I thought that is what I was witness too, resignation.
 Resignation is the acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable. I'd say death fit into that category. As I thought more about that I arrived at a conclusion. I had chosen the wrong word. Now I feel forbearance is the correct term. Yes, it would be listed as a synonym for resignation in the thesaurus, but there is a subtle difference in those actions. To resign in my eyes is to surrender or give up. That isn't what that gentleman was doing though, I didn't see a defeated person. What I did see was forbearance. Forbearance being an action or response to an unwanted circumstance. You do have to accept whatever happened, but you don't have to resign. Remaining stoic in the face of such eventualities as death requires inner strength. Our strength can only be tested by experience in such matters. For those of us fortunate enough, that experience comes with age. That is the irony of time, as it grows shorter we wish to live in what has passed.
 This morning as I sit and write these thoughts I think I may understand why. I think that seeing that gentleman and the response it evoked was a lesson. I was upset about the verdict Bergdahl received. It was an unwanted thing ! I felt somehow cheated by that. I was angered. I even wrote yesterdays posting about all of that. But then the lesson became clearer to me, I hadn't resigned those feelings quite yet ! I do think that resignation occurs either out of anger or despair. I was angry. I hadn't gotten my way. That was it, in a nutshell. What I need to display now is forbearance. I need to set the anger, the disappointment aside and channel those emotions elsewhere. Finding the channel is the challenge, not accepting the loss. Having grown up by the water I know that you should launch your boat on an outgoing tide. Bucking the tide does nothing more than slow progress.
 I wonder now if I have witnessed a death. When that verdict was handed down a part of America died with it. At the very least a part of America I grew up with has. I feel that loss as deeply as losing a loved one. I also feel there is little I can do about that. Only the young feel they can change the world. Truth is they will change the world. It is the changes that the " elderly " rail against. Yes, that is the truth of it. I must face that reality with forbearance. There are many in this country that need to learn that lesson ! I can only pray that they do before it is too late, before it is all gone. When one is standing before the grave, there is little to be done, but mourn. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The volunteering victim

 When I heard the news that Bergdahl would receive no prison time I was angered. My initial reaction was, how could this be ? This man is an admitted deserter. Not only did he desert his post but he endangered many fine soldiers. The soldiers that went in search of him were injured and had to fight for their lives. I'm certain they didn't want to be there any more that Bergdhal did. Did they desert their post ? Did they shirk their duty ? The answer to all those question is, No they did not. The more I read about the case the more angered I became. The defense was actually using the fact that he was held prisoner as an excuse for his behavior. How ridiculous is that ? He gave himself up to the enemy !! That isn't being taken prisoner, that is volunteering ! He volunteered to join the U.S. Army and when he didn't like that he volunteered to give himself up to the enemy. If he didn't want to do that he could have refused to obey orders and been sent back to the United States for punishment. But no, his choice was to wander off. The defense also had some physiatrist testify about some mental illness Bergdhal had. I want to meet this doctor. Just how can you tell me what he was thinking or feeling six or eight years ago ? How do you analyze somehow in the past ? Who are you, Houdini ? If that is the case why didn't you say something back then ? Obviously you are some kind of time traveler.  Yes, I'm upset. The last administration made the decision to trade five known terrorists in exchange for this piece of crap. Whereas I understand the intent , were it me I hope the trade would still be made, to leave this guy unpunished is a travesty. Everything that happened to him was of his own making ! In my eyes he isn't a victim, he was a volunteer !
 After I calmed down a bit, and had time to think, I grew even more concerned. What message has just been sent to our troops ? Is the message now, if I don't like it I can just walk away ? What of the oath Bergdahl took ? Does that oath mean nothing ? Yes I guess that is the deal here, just take a knee ! Give yourself over to the enemy and gain leniency for your suffering ? He is given a dishonorable discharge and has to forfeit a thousand dollars a month for ten months. Yeah, he gets to keep half his pay ! A dishonorable discharge ? Like this man has any honor in the first place. Do you really think that is a punishment to him ? Do you ? Oh but these liberal folks in the country will be giving him everything now. We have to be compassionate, expressing empathy for his actions. Well my empathy would be delivered with a 45 caliber. He was a deserter and a traitor to our country. A man with no honor whatsoever. Oh, but he was reduced in rank to private ! He was given a dishonorable discharge, his rank doesn't matter ! Who cares what his rank used to be ? Guess I still haven't calmed down.
 I guess we are going to have to change the oath of enlistment.
  "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
 That is the oath he took. Where does it say, unless I decide I don't want to ?  You are required to swear, or affirm to that. Well if I can change my mind on that, what about when I testify in court ? Can I change my mind then too ? I'll just lie, walk off, and complain about being a victim. If that is going to be the case we must remove that opening phrase from the oath. It would have to be replaced with, " I might " if I don't disagree with the President or Officers appointed over me, do my duty, unless it becomes inconvenient, and follow the regulations, sometimes. I agree that I can be tried using the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I guess you could leave the phrase so help me God in there although it carries no meaning to a person like Bergdahl.
 I am personally ashamed of the sentence he received. Where is the honor in serving ? This guy should not be allowed to walk free. You want to be with the Taliban, I'll gladly give you back to them. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

circling around

 Every once in a while I post a comment on other forums besides Facebook. Yes, I am susceptible to click bait like everyone else. There are times when the question asked or view expressed prompts a response. I did that yesterday and I was verbally abused ! Is it verbal abuse when you read it and the only voice you hear is your own ? I suppose it is, at least the effect is close to the same thing. I was angered at times. I didn't respond in kind however, I just didn't comment further. Oh, it's nothing new but it really came to light how emboldened people are on social media yesterday. Unless those folks are armed to the teeth or all MMA fighters I'm certain they wouldn't have said those things to my face ! I wouldn't say it was shocking, as I said, I've seen all this before but it is certainly rude and crude. The action those folks suggested I do to myself are just, well, unnatural. Puzzling why they would think that would be helpful.
 I have no idea who these folks are. I am not one to go check profile pages and the like. I am curious however. They feel like they know an awful lot about me. The string of descriptors was quite amazing. I'm white, that much is a fact, but as far as the rest of it goes that is open to debate. I didn't agree that Hillary should be the president so that automatically made me a Trump supporter. And of course if you are a Trump supporter I must have a KKK outfit in my closet and hate every immigrant. Yes and I don't know or understand anything ! It is my white privilege that has blinded me. All that was surmised from one statement that I made. I said, " doesn't matter if you like it or not, the fact remains, Trump is the president. "  Yes, that's what I said, a simple statement of fact. Amazing how many people attempt to deny that. I didn't bother to post more as these folks were obviously unwilling to listen to even a simple fact. Obama was the president for eight years. That is a fact, undisputable. That didn't mean I supported him. Trump is president, I state that fact, and I'm automatically a Trump supporter ? Strange how that works.
 I have no one to blame but myself. I post my comments and that is an invitation to respond. That is just how it works. I've never been one to keep my opinions to myself. I've always felt that is what opinions are for, sharing. The free exchange of ideas is how we get to know one another. With our very best friends we enjoy that exchange without judgement. Therein lies the problem with this social media. You start out having been judged. First it is your profile picture followed by a statement. My profile picture is a seagull. I placed that there on purpose, as a reflection of part of my personality. I've mentioned it before and I'll explain that once again. My dad used to say to me, " you are just like a gull. All you wanna do is eat, *hit and squawk. " It wasn't meant as a compliment, just an observation. I expect in his view that was what I was doing. Dad and I had many discussion concerning current events. No they weren't " historical " current events. Our discussions centered more around choices.  No, you ain't wearing your hair down to your shoulders ! Those clothes from Sears and Roebuck are just as good as anything you can buy uptown. You want a car ? Get a job and pay for that yourself. That was the type of discussions we had. I listed all the reasons I should be able to do whatever it was I wanted to do at the time and he mostly said, no. Through it all I remained the " gull " and that is why it is now my profile picture.
 What does any of this have to do with anything ? Well the lesson is a simple one really. If you have ever been anywhere there were gulls you know they can be an annoyance. They are relentless. They do squawk a lot ! You also know there just isn't much you can do about them. They are protected in most areas of the country because they perform a vital function. They clean up the mess people leave behind. I feel like a gull at times. I'm circling around ready to " feed " all the time. And yes sometimes I  *hit on people. I'm not aiming really, it just falls where it falls. I'm doing what comes natural to me. I do try to " clean up " the mess every once in a while. Mostly I do that by offering the truth about things. Ah, but many mistake the truth for opinion, like who is the president for instance. Not much I can do about that, just circle around.   

Thursday, November 2, 2017

contrite stupidity

 I turn on the morning news to hear a funny story. Well, it isn't funny really but I couldn't help but laugh. There was this 28 year old mother that was stopped and arrested. Her crime ? He had tied her nine year son to the roof of her minivan to hold down a plastic pool. Yes, that's right, the pool wouldn't fit inside so she had no choice. When questioned by the Police her response was , she didn't think it was a problem, her father used to do that to her all the time. She genuinely thought it was just fine ! Good thing her friends didn't jump off the proverbial bridge when she was a child ! When asked that age old question by her parents, " if Johnny did, would you have " her answer was always, yes. Now do you understand why I'm laughing ? Sometimes, stupid is funny. She is being charged with child endangerment. I wonder , is it her fault ? How do you prosecute stupid ?
 Another little piece in the news concerned an abduction. A woman had been abducted from a motel. Her hands were tied and she was put in the trunk of a car. The person stops at a convenience store for gas and snacks. The lady opens the trunk of the car, because you know all trunks have an inside latch these days, in fact that became a law in 2001. So she opens the trunk and runs into the store. She enters and the guy sees her. He runs out the door and drives off. The Police are looking for him. In this case the stupidity was a good thing. You would just think that people planning such heinous acts would be a bit more informed. I guess it was a spur of the moment type thing. I'm bored, guess I'll abduct someone. Oh man, should have gassed up first ! It had to be quite the scare for that lady, I can't imagine. I hope they catch the idiot before he hurts someone else.
 The morning news can certainly get you down. Every day it seems like someone is being shot, robbed or beaten. Crime and corruption are running rampant. For the second time a group of citizens in the city of Baltimore are calling for a cease fire. That's right, a cease fire. There has been over 300 shootings in the city this year. Back in August a 72 hour cease fire was called for and they almost made it. It ended with two being shot. Interesting is this time the hope is to just confine the " shooting " area. One organizer is going around spray painting a message saying " don't shoot " on walls that he says the gangs respect. They won't shoot in those areas. The city of Baltimore is considering offering a 2500 dollar tax credit to any Police officer that lives in the city. The reason ? There aren't many Police officers that live in the city because they know it is too dangerous. Good luck with your 2500 dollar bribe city council.
 I'm not even going to get started on the political landscape in the country. For this morning, for now, I'll just leave it be. The weather is suppose to take a turn and warm up again. I'll go out and about while the weather is pleasant. I'm not much on the cold anymore. The urge to migrate grows stronger every year. I'm thinking it has something to do with being born in New York state. There is a definite pull to the south. So for today anyway I'll chuckle at the sheer stupidity of some people. My father used to tie me to the roof of the car all the time. I didn't think it would be a problem. LOl Well, the truth probably is, what else can you say ? Yes officer I am that stupid ! That is the only defense, contrite stupidity. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

help yourself

" God helps those who help themselves." Although it sounds like one, it isn't a Bible verse. This was one of my Grandmothers favorite sayings. The real meaning is to stay busy, do for yourself and don't expect others to do stuff for you, not even God. The help you can expect from God stems from your faith, it doesn't mean God will do it for you. It is basic philosophy, simple and to the point. It is also a lesson that I believe needs to be taught again. Somehow we have allowed that to get pushed to the wayside. As a consequence, we hear cries for help. The reason is obvious, we don't know how to take care of ourselves. And I mean by that, mentally take care of ourselves. We are emotional weaklings these days. Triggered and offended and not knowing what to do ! The reactions are at the extremes. Their are parades, protests, and all manner of unrest. Some are gathering in the streets wearing handkerchiefs like Hollywood outlaws, some are marching with Vagina hats on and others are just taking a knee ! Statues are being torn down and empathy has become an epidemic ! That's right, empathy has become an epidemic because the true meaning of that emotion isn't fully understood. Just giving everyone any thing they want, at any cost, is not empathy ! But, the lesson has not been taught and we are reaping the rewards of that.
 Another popular phrase from my youth was, " sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you. " The lesson was supposed to be taken literally. I was taught to just deflect that stuff. Yes, at first I reacted by crying, then I reacted with violence, but I learned to let it go after a while. I learned to help myself by dismissing those that wished to harm me. I discovered I don't have to be a friend to the world ! I become okay with the idea that some people just don't like me. Fact is, I learned to help myself. I no longer ran to Mommy saying I was being called names, I no longer tried to beat people up and just dismissed those folks. And here it is fifty years on and I don't feel a need to tell anyone, anything that happened to me when I was five that seems unfair today ! I learned to just set that stuff aside and get on with life.
 As I watch the news and hear all the tragic tales of todays youth I can't help but wonder. Are we failing the youth of today by doing too much for them ? Are we doing them a disservice by teaching them to wear their hearts on their sleeves ? Hearts are exposed that way you know and subject to being easily damaged. It has been my experience in life that we don't like to do unpleasant things. We will try to avoid those things if at all possible. Better still is getting someone else to do them ! This is true for the mental as well as the physical. And that is what Grandma knew and was trying to tell me when she said, " God helps those who help themselves. " There will be times when you are the only person you have to rely upon. Yes, you have to help yourself and God will give you the strength to do that. You don't have to ask either ! You are in charge of your actions and your faith.
 The largest disservice I see is this teaching of a victim mentality. Whatever happens to you that is unfavorable, in your eyes at least, makes you a victim. Afterwards you are a survivor ! Well, I've said it before and it bears repeating, if you are alive, you are a survivor ! I will add this, it isn't an accomplishment it is a gift. Whether you believe in a loving God or not, you can't deny the fact that you can't know the hour of your death. We will not talk about taking your own life, so don't use that as an argument. And guess what, even that action fails at times, so. But whatever, the point is we are all survivors.
 Now having taught our youth that they are victims what do they seek ? Justice. That is the pursuit these days. What is Justice ? Justice is getting my way. Isn't that the long and short of it ? That is what Justice was when we were children, right ? We either got our way or a reward to compensate for real or imagined injustice. My brother got a bigger piece of cake ! Here, you get an extra scoop of ice cream. That's the way it worked, at least for a little while. As we got older that didn't fly anymore you learned to just suck it up, life isn't always fair.
 If I can't get my way, I should get monetary compensation. That is justice.  If I find myself in circumstances, either by no fault of my own, or by my choices, I should receive help, that's justice. If you have more than I do, that's unjust. Give it to me, help me. If you are not doing that,  you lack empathy. It's your fault, not mine. I can't help myself ! That is how distorted the lesson has become. God is removed from the equation, replaced by what ? Government ? Government helps those who help themselves ? Yes, if you help yourself  to every program, entitlement and benefit available. Just be the victim. If that doesn't work, hire a lawyer, sue somebody, anybody over anything at all. As long as I get a " settlement " that's cool. I got Justice.
 The problem with this philosophy is it leaves a person empty. You are made to feel like you are a failure ( victim ) and it continues. What is the motivation to continue ? Am I to hope for a big settlement one day ? Or is it the expectation that the world will change to suit me ? What about when neither of those actins take place ? Where do I turn then ? I turn to someone or something for help. I can join these groups screaming at the skies, parading in the streets, or meeting in dark corners. I can seek counseling, therapy and medications. I can even self medicate. All of these things because you failed to learn a simple life lesson. " God helps those who help themselves. "
 You know, that isn't a Bible verse for a simple reason. It really has nothing to do with God. It has to do with yourself and the way you view the world around you. If you do the things that you know, in your heart, to be right, good things will happen. Positive outcomes stem from positive actions. Yes, bad things happen to good people. The bad comes from the actions of bad people, not a lack of protection from God. I believe in God and I don't believe he " allows " people to be bad so why should I believe God makes us good ? No, it's our choices that make the difference. Do good and good will find you. Do bad and bad will find you. Do not be content with being a survivor, be an example to others on how to survive. Help yourself. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hobo's and halloween

 Halloween 2017. A lot has changed about Halloween since I was a little spook. By spook I mean ghost, spirit, specter, phantom, apparition or nebulous image, just to be clear. I hear this year there is a problem with cultural appropriation ! Imagine if you will, little children dressing up and portraying a person they are not. Now that's pretty insensitive. When I was young hobo's were the go to costume for families on a budget. Well, we weren't told we were on a budget, we were told we couldn't afford that stuff. I was told anyone can go to the store and buy a costume but it was better to make your own. Making your face look dirty with a burned piece of cork, wearing dirty torn clothing and having a stick with a handkerchief tied to the end, you were all set ! Fortunately I never ran into any real hobo's and offended them. OMG , how insensitive of me to mock them like that. I expect the pirates were just as upset. Cultural appropriation ? How is it possible that any of us have avoided the wrath of witches ?  There are covens of them all over the country. Wicca or witches ? Same thing to me but I'm just an insensitive brute. And just why are there cats black ? Seems racially insensitive to me. The two are inexplicably linked however, and have been for centuries. Well, my trick or treating days are done, the grandchildren are done with it, and I'm just closing the door and turning out the light. I wouldn't want to be triggered by some culturally insensitive five year old !
 I can see the days of going door to door becoming a thing of the past. It is getting to be just a bit dangerous. You can't trust the candy, you can't trust the people and you can't trust ! If we start removing or restricting costumes that is going to really dampen the spirit of the holiday. Spirit of the holiday, get it ? I've heard that ghosts are insensitive because they are always white ? Other ethnic groups are feeling excluded. Hey, Casper, remember him, got bullied for being just a bit too friendly. Don't hear much about him anymore do you ? No and that's because he is being oppressed. Those ghosts do need to be more inclusive. Can't dress like an Indian unless you really are an Indian. Even then you better make sure you identify yourself as an Indigenous American so as not to upset anyone from Indian who are the real Indians. Of course they might be the indigenous folks to their region of the world and therefore not merely Indians, but Indigenous Indians. Maybe we should all just call ourselves indigenous to the earth and avoid all this labeling and confusion in the first place. Indigenous Earthlings ! Sounds about right to me, especially if you live in California but that's another blog.
 I do wish the kids , the little ones anyway, a happy Halloween. I always enjoyed that time and hoarded what candy I collected for quite a while. There was little to be concerned with. When I was little people didn't try to poison, drug or injure little children as a form of entertainment. Yes, I know it happened but rarely. Yes it was a different place and time, a time that will never be again. The kids today will form their own memories of this trick or treating tradition and bemoan the loss of it when they have children and grandchildren, same as me. Can you believe how insensitive and barbaric we were ? Man the 1950's and early 60's were emotionally turbulent times. Bullies and cultural appropriation were rampant ! We would just dress up as anyone without a second thought. I'm sorry hobo's. Even that is insensitive.
 I'll take this forum to officially apologize to those homeless folks I so callously made fun of. That was insensitive and I obviously lacked empathy. Instead of mocking you, indeed exploiting your image to gain candy for myself, I should have asked for good wholesome food to redistribute to you. I should have offered you housing and medical attention. I'm so ashamed. And Superman, I really wasn't fighting for truth, justice and the American way, I just wanted candy for myself. From now on when faced with inequity or injustice  I will " take a knee "  as a symbol of solidarity. Just what was I thinking ? 

Monday, October 30, 2017

In a mood

 It's a rainy and cold Monday in Greensboro. The weather is reflective of my mood. There is no need for explanations, like the weather it just is. Like the weather you really can't control it either. These moods come and go. I'm certainly not overly concerned or in need of anything. I'm thinking that may be part of the issues we face today, we are always trying to fix everything. Take a pill, see a therapist, go buy something. I say there are times when you just need to experience life, good and bad. It is what it is.
 Empathy and sympathy are being confused all the time. If I don't agree that you are experiencing something terrible and immediately try to do something proactive to relieve your suffering, I lack empathy. I can be sympathetic but that doesn't mean I have to do anything. You know why ? Sometimes we cause our own misfortunes and sometimes we are the only ones than correct that. It is the same vein as blaming the drug for our addictions. Might as well blame the knife because you got cut. But, like I said , that's the mood I woke up in. Stormy Monday !
 Mueller is set to release indictments for Russian collusion in the election. I'm just so sick and tired of that waste of time and money. I voted and no Russian told me who to vote for ! No Russian changed my ballot in the ballot box. Oh, I was influenced ! Well isn't that the purpose of a campaign ? To influence who you vote for ? Fact is, Bernie tried to influence me, Hillary tried to influence me, Trump tried, and how many others ? I can't even remember how many tried. Where any of them Russians ? I don't know but Bernie says he is a socialist, close enough for me. I didn't vote for Bernie. I didn't vote for Hillary and I didn't vote for Trump. None of those candidate were successful in influencing my decision in their favor. I lost the election. I hope to live long enough to vote again.
 If we are now going to say it is a crime to influence people we had better outlaw advertising ! Ore Ida influenced me to buy their tater tots and they were awful ! I had better investigate that and see if there was any collusion. Listen if you are deciding upon your candidate based on Facebook ads and memes the problem isn't the Russians, it's you ! Anyway, that's about all I have for this morning. This too shall pass. I'll find something constructive to do and that'll improve my mood. Have a great day.