Thursday, October 19, 2017

Barack Obama Triumphs Over Jefferson Davis

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Generations of young black children in Jackson, Mississippi, have suffered the indignity of attending a school named after a racist icon.   Black children make up ninety-eight percent of the school population of the Davis IB Elementary School, an institution that was named for Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederacy.  Jefferson Davis was not only a slave owner who saw blacks as property rather than human beings, he was also a pivotal figure in the government that fought to free itself from the United States of America.

Jefferson Davis was a traitor who plotted and fought to keep blacks in the chains of slavery, yet today his name is still emblazoned across an institution whose primary mission is the education and betterment of black citizens.

Well, the name of Jefferson Davis won't be casting a pall over that school for much longer.

A student at the school who realized that it was "named for a person who didn't agree that they (black children) should thrive educationally - or any way in life - or really be considered human beings" began the push the change the school's name.  The movement picked up community support, and recently the school's governing board voted to officially change the name of the school to honor Barack Obama, the nation's first black President.  The change will take effect with the next school year.

There are currently twenty-one schools bearing the Obama name in the United States including two named for former First Lady Michelle Obama.

What's in a name?  Things like inspiration, self-determination, and pride.

Congratulations to the young people of Jackson, Mississippi, as one more cold vestige of segregation bites the dust.  Next year they will be able to lift their heads higher as they march into a school whose namesake made them proud and will continue to be a source of pride and inspiration for generations to come.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Keep Trump Off of the Phone

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

One of this week's multiple controversies involving the Trump administration is whether or not The Donald made contact with the families of the four Green Berets recently killed in Niger - or, in fact, should he contact them.   At some point in the discussion Trump alleged that he had personally telephoned the families of every American killed in action during his time in the White House.  That was quickly proven to be a lie.  Trump then tried the old "other guy" excuse saying that other Presidents had not telephoned grieving families either - and Barack Obama sure as heck hadn't.  Again, more lies.

That public shaming apparently goaded Trump into phoning at least some of the families of the soldiers killed in Niger.  A report out today based on a first hand account of a U.S. congresswoman relates that Trump called the widow of one of the dead yesterday as she was enroute to claim her husband's body.  According to the congresswoman who was listening on speaker phone, Trump told the widow, "He knew what he signed up for" and then added a scintilla of sympathy with "but when it happens it hurts anyway."

The young widow has two small children and is pregnant with the third.  She needed a bit of compassion and comfort - not a lecture.

After that story began gaining traction in the national press, Trump flew into a rage and denied it.  He said the congresswoman, Florida's Fredericka Wilson, had lied. 

Trump managed to make it all about himself and the demanding role that he has to play.  He said that making those calls was "a very difficult thing."  He added,  “Now it gets to a point where you make four or five of them in one day, it’s a very, very tough day.”  Poor Baby.

Donald Trump, whose only time in uniform was as a student at a private prep school and who vigorously dodged the draft to stay out of Vietnam, could, nevertheless, make a competent commander-in-chief if he was steeped in compassion and empathy, and if he possessed a soul, but clearly Trump lacks all of those human attributes.

Trump had it right to begin with.  He should not be calling the families of the fallen because he has nothing in common with them, not even humanity.  His time is better spent on the golf course.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rep. Jason Smith, Powerbroker

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

My congressman, Jason Smith, a Republican, has finally taken a break from his relentless quest to raise campaign cash and pose for pictures with every tractor and cow in southeast Missouri - and he has had a meeting with someone of consequence in Washington, DC.   In a recent email newsletter Congressman Smith revealed that Ivanka Trump had dropped by his office for a visit.  The  First Daughter, when not focused on selling Chinese rags or trying to manage her emotionally unstable father, busies herself by promoting women's issues in the most notoriously anti-woman administration in recent history.

Smith is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, a group that could conceivably be instrumental in writing the promised tax "reform" - if Paul and Mitch and Donald actually let the committee have any say in the matter.  Ivanka wanted to make sure that Congressman Smith knew of her interest in providing tax breaks to moms who have to put their children in childcare so that they can go to work.  Socialist schemes like that will not  be an easy sell with the current Congress.

Surprisingly, Jason Smith, the consummate name-dropper, did not include a photo of him with Ivanka in the newsletter.  Perhaps he is saving that image to grace his government-funded Christmas cards

Congratulations, Congressman Jason Smith - you are developing into a real powerbroker.   Your constituents here in Missouri's 8th are very proud of you - especially the cows!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday's Poetry: "Rain on the Scarecrow"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

I'm safely back at The Roost following a quick weekend trip to Indianapolis, a round-trip adventure which put just shy of a thousand miles on the odometer of my old flivver.  (How funny - Bill Gates and the privileged children who run Microsoft don't know "flivver!"  Buy a dictionary guys, and update your horrid spellcheck!)

It's been many years since I have driven across Indiana in a rush to get someplace important, and this weekend marked the first time that I had ever dropped anchor and spent the night there.  The state is known for the Indianapolis 500, Notre Dame, Purdue, the lovable Mike Pence, agriculture, moonlight on the Wabash, and John Mellencamp - and not necessarily in that order.  I knew that I had arrived  when, while sitting in a traffic jam on the interstate just outside of Terre Haute,  Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow," a song which depicts the painful realities of making a living on the farm, began playing on the local radio station.

Here, for your remembering pleasure, is my postcard from Indiana, John Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow."  It's not as sweetly nostalgic as "Back Home in Indiana,"but it is a realistic and hard look at an authentic slice of America.

Rain on the Scarecrow
by John Mellencamp and George Michael Green

Scarecrow on a wooden cross, blackbird in the barn
Four hundred empty acres that used to be my farm
I grew up like my daddy did, my grandpa cleared this land
When I was five, I walked a fence while grandpa held my hand

Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
This land fed a nation, this land made me proud
And son, I'm just sorry, there's no legacy for you now
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow

The crops we grew last summer weren't enough to pay the loans
Couldn't buy the seed to plant this spring and the farmers bank foreclosed
Called my old friend Schepman up to auction off the land
He said, "John, it's just my job and I hope you understand"

Hey, calling it your job, ol' hoss, sure don't make it right
But if you want me to I'll say a prayer for your soul tonight
And grandma's on the front porch swing with a Bible in her hand
Sometimes I hear her singing, "Take me to the promised land"
When you take away a man's dignity he can't work his fields and cows

There'll be blood on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
Blood on the scarecrow, blood on the plow

Well there?s ninety-seven crosses planted in the courthouse yard
And ninety-seven families who lost ninety-seven farms
I think about my grandpa, my neighbors and my name
And some nights I feel like dyin' like that scarecrow in the rain

Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
This land fed a nation, yeah, this land made me proud
And son, I'm just sorry, they're just memories for you now
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow

Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
Yeah, this land fed a nation, this land made me so proud
Son, I'm just sorry they're just memories for you now
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hillary "Shocked and Appalled" at Weinstein Revelations

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Hollywood mogul and star-maker, Harvey Weinstein, has been in the news almost constantly over the past two weeks as allegations about his sexual abuse of struggling starlets continues to snowball across the American news landscape.  Weinstein, a co-founder of Miramax and the Weinstein Company, has been a formidable force in the film industry for decades, and he is also well known as a funder of Democratic political candidates.

Weinstein is another dirty chapter in the on-going saga of successful men using their power and prominence to have their way with young people, usually women, who are at the front end of their careers and struggling for notice and success.  He is a pig on the order of Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilley, and Bill Clinton.

Many Democrats who have accepted donations from Weinstein in the past are racing to get rid of that tainted money.  Some are reportedly returning the cash, and others are donating it to charities and agencies whose efforts benefit abused women.

Some who have profited from Weinstein's largess in the past are now rushing forward to condemn him - and his wife has reportedly moved out of their home and is filing for divorce.  One prominent Democratic politician who has spoken out against Harvey Weinstein is Hillary Clinton who says she is "shocked and appalled" at the revelations.

Clearly Mrs. Bill Clinton now has a better understanding of the awfulness of sexual predators in positions of power than she did twenty years ago.  Better late than never - one must suppose.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tatterdemalion Premiers!

by Pa Rock
Proud Father

"Tatterdemalion" a new feature length film by Ramaa Mosley (director/writer) and Tim Macy (writer/producer) premiered this afternoon at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis.  Attending that premier was one of the proudest moments in the life of this ancient typist.

The movie, which was filmed in and around my community of West Plains, Missouri, had three professional actors in the cast, and a large contingent of local talent - none of whom had ever appeared in a motion picture prior to this one.  The finished product was a tour de force of Ozark myth and culture draped over an intense tale of a family conflict and child welfare issues.  The finished product was exceptional in every sense of the word.

Tim named a couple of characters after his grandmother - my mother - who died when he was very young.  My mother was Ruby Florine (Sreaves) Macy (1921-1986).  The main character in this movie had the family name of Sreaves, and one of the main characters was named Florine.    The name "Florine Macy" appeared in the acknowledgments at the end of the movie.  Mom would have been very proud to have seen that, and I was proud for her.  What a nice memorial, Tim!

Tim's older brother, Nick, was also seen in the background of a couple of shots, and he too was noted in the film credits.

Tim's wife, Erin, and their daughter, Olive (age 6) were at the premier - and so was my niece, Heidi, and her family who drove down from Chicago.  Heidi's youngest daughter, Ruby, was named after my mother.  Mom would have loved the event - she had her son at the premier, two of her grandchildren, and three of her great-grandchildren.

Pa Rock has such a nice family!

There was a reception after the showing, and all of the family attended, including Tim's mother-in-law, Judy, and Baby Sullivan.  That was fun and everyone got to meet the stars and the other talent who put this very fine movie together.

"Tatterdemalion."  Remember the name and check it out when it plays at a venue near you!  It's a great story translated into an emotional masterpiece of a movie.

Crossing the Wabash

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

Saturday morning finds me in Indianapolis where, early this afternoon, I will be on hand for the world premier of "Tatterdemalion," my son Tim's second feature film.  It's a big day not only for our family, but also for all of the good people in and around West Plains, Missouri, who came together in the summer of 2015 to make this film a reality.  I understand that several of them are also in Indianapolis for the premier.  It is being held as a part of the annual Heartland Film Festival - and "Tatterdemalion" is definitely a film of and about the "heartland."

I drove to Indianapolis because getting to a major airport would have been quite a drive itself.  The trip lasted most of yesterday and was four-hundred-and-fifty miles from my house to the motel where I am staying.

The drive to Indianapolis was long, boring, and fairly uneventful.  I took the most direct route, the one going through St. Louis, but may take the more scenic southern route going home.  It will be a bit longer - mileage and time-wise - but has to be more visually stimulating than the boring interstate.

All the way to St. Louis I was focused on finding Exit 291-A which Mapquest had assured me would get me through the city without having to navigate the busy city side streets.   I watched the exit numbers slowly climb toward 291 as I proceeded to take Interstate 40 to the very center of town.  Finally I was almost there - I could see the Mississippi River and some bridges on my right, that damnable Arch right in front of me, and Busch Stadium to my left - and then - there is was - Exit 291-A - closed!  For the next twenty minutes I was driving around downtown St. Louis looking for a way across the Mississippi.  Regardless of where the roads led, I kept turning the wheel back toward the river - and finally I found the way across the river and into Illinois!  The detour through St. Louis was an harassment that I did not need!

The only other river of note that I crossed was the iconic Wabash just after entering Indiana.

Mapquest failed me again when I finally arrived in Indianapolis, choosing to give me a long and complicated tour of the city when, if I had been directed to the beltway around the city, I would have gotten here much quicker and with just a couple of turns.

So I am here, safely, and so are my grandchildren - and this afternoon we are going to the movies!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sasse Gets Sassy

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Although I personally share no common political ground with Nebraska’s junior senator, Ben Sasse, on most important national issues (things like guns, abortion, and Obamacare), I will concede that the former university president who holds a PhD in American History from Yale is highly educated and very capable when it comes to putting together well-structured arguments for his right-wing positions.

There is one area, however, where the young Republican senator and I share very similar views, and that is on our mutual contempt for Donald Trump.  Sasse, who just entered the Senate in January of 2015, said early on that he would not be supporting Trump if the reality television personality succeeded in getting the Republican nomination for President.  Sasse questioned Trump’s commitment to the Constitution, and particularly to the all-important First Amendment – the one that guarantees free speech and an unfettered press.  Sasse also faulted Trump for refusing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, and he opined that the blustery Trump seemed to think he was running for “king” instead of president.

That, in my book, is a prime example of prescience.

Trump, for his part, dove deep into his fourth grade vocabulary and shot back that Sasse sounded like a “loser.”

Senator Sasse made national news in the summer of 2016 when it came time for the Republicans to gather in their coven and nominate Donald Trump for the highest office in the land.  Sasse announced that he would not be attending but would instead be taking his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state of Nebraska.

But that was then.

Now, the old Trump-Sasse war of words appears to be about to reignite.  Trump has been barking about “fake news” and has accused NBC, the network that foisted Trump’s reality show onto America, of deliberately telling lies about him.  NBC reported that Trump wants to increase the American nuclear arsenal tenfold, and Trump, ever the diplomat, said they were lying through their corporate teeth.   He has even gone so far as to suggest that NBC’s broadcast license renewal application needs to be challenged.

That overt fascist move to thwart freedom of the press did not go unnoticed by Senator Sasse, the man who openly worried about Trump’s disdain for the First Amendment more than two years ago.  Two days ago the ballsy first-term senator tweeted this query to Trump:

“Mr. President:
Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment?”

Sasse’s tweet will undoubtedly serve to take some Trump heat off of fellow Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. 

Yesterday Senator Sasse upped the ante when he tweeted this bit of sass to American conservatives, something intended to make them think beyond their plans for lunch:

“Question for conservatives:
What will you wish you had said now if someday a President Elizabeth Warren talks about censoring Fox News?”

Unfortunately for Senator Sasse, many Trump dotards are not comfortable with the notion of thinking.

Will Donald Trump, who needs the vote of almost every Republican senator in order to pass anything, be able to let Sasse’s sass go unpunished? 

Hell, no, he won’t!  Sooner or later The Donald is going to erupt all over Twitter!

Sit back and pass the popcorn.  This is gonna get good!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Olive Is Six - and Full of Tricks!

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

My granddaughter, Olive Noel Macy, turns six-years-old today.   She is in kindergarten and seems to like school, and she is also learning to play the piano.  Olive has a little brother named Sullivan who turned one-year-old last June.

A couple of weeks ago while I was visiting Olive and her family we went to a toy store in Kansas City where Olive had a great time looking around.  While she was there she got a "magic" pair of sunglasses that she wore home.  The sunglasses were special because they allowed her to see what was happening behind her.  Olive had a lot of fun with them - she's a very tricky girl!

Happy birthday, Olive!  I will see you tomorrow evening in Indianapolis when we all gather to watch the premier of your daddy's new film, "Tatterdemalion."  I love you bunches!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taxpayers Should Not Have to Pay for Pence Political Stunt

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

This past weekend Vice President Mike Pence and his family traveled to his hometown of Indianapolis - on the public dime - to attend the Colts-49ers professional football game, a game that he walked out of before it even commenced.  Pence left the stadium when several players on the 49er's team, all black, "took a knee" during the national anthem.  The players were protesting the continuing murders of black men and boys by police, crimes that are often not even prosecuted.  Pence was protesting what he and Donald Trump perceive as disrespect toward the national anthem.

The kneeling players had no direct cost upon taxpayers.  The Pence show, however, cost taxpayers dearly.  He flew from Las Vegas, Nevada to Indianapolis on Air Force Two at a cost of over $42,000 per hour.  That night he and the family stayed in an Indianapolis hotel, a situation which required extra police presence, and all of which was billed to taxpayers - and the following day Air Force Two flew the Pence family back out west, over Las Vegas where the sojourn started, and on to Los Angeles.

Estimates of the cost for the Indianapolis side trip range from a quarter of a million dollars to a full million - and the Pence family did not even see the game!  Of course, the real rub is that they never intended to see the game to begin with.  It was all a political stunt to draw attention to the protesting players and emphasize the administration's sanctimonious defense of "patriotism," whatever that entails.  Or, as some wags would suggest, it was all an attempt to to remind Trump's supporters that he and Pence are every bit as racist as they are.

Mission accomplished!

Those black football players disrespected the national anthem, football, motherhood, and God - and Mike Pence called them on it.  What a man!

Most of the press reporters who have the tiresome duty of following Mike Pence around all day missed his hasty exit from the football game because they had been told to remain in the press van.  Administration officials forewarned them that the Vice President would probably be leaving the game early.

He never intended to watch the game.  It was just a cheap political stunt - one that the American taxpayers paid for.

I will be driving to Indianapolis this coming weekend.  Yesterday I had my car in the garage making sure that it will be up to the eight-hour drive (each way).  The mechanic's bill for fixing the air conditioning, rotating the tires, and servicing the engine was a bargain at one-hundred-and-thirty dollars.  Fuel out and back will be over a hundred dollars, and I will be paying for a motel room for two nights, several meals, and a ticket to see the world premier of a great new film.  All of those expenses will be borne by me personally - but I am really looking forward to the trip and don't mind the cost.

I do, however, resent having to help pay for Mike Pence and his family traveling to the same destination.  If Pence wants to prove his racist street cred, let him do it on his own dime - not ours!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bullies Are So Cool!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Donald Trump is a bully.   He has always been a bully - and the possibility of that changing for the better in the current millennium is somewhere on the far side of never.  Everyone knows he is a bully, yet few with a national megaphone have dared to stand up to him.  Hillary Clinton tried to during the debates and Trump brushed her aside like a pesky mosquito by labeling her a "nasty woman." That's what bullies do - name-call and belittle.

And bullies always strive to have the last word.  They have to talk the loudest and the longest.

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona had the temerity to announce that he had voted for a third-party candidate for President, and Trump responded by going into full battle mode and encouraging his party in Arizona to abandon its junior U.S. Senator.  That's what bullies do - instigate and berate.

Bullies get their bluff in quickly and are always on the offensive.  They want to be the absolute boss and quickly move to shut down defiant behavior.  That's why it was odd, yet refreshing, this week to see a few cracks beginning to develop in the Trump fortress.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the nation's chief diplomat and the person who is fifth in the line of succession to be President (behind Fat Boy, Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate President Pro Tem Orrin Hatch), apparently disparaged his boss last summer at a meeting in the Pentagon when he referred to Trump not only as a "moron," but according to some news sources actually called The Donald "a f--king moron."  Tillerson passed up an opportunity this past week to personally deny the story, but the State Department trotted out a lackey a few days later to deny it for him.

Today Trump lambasted the Tillerson story as "fake news," but said if his cabinet secretary had made the statement he would be glad to compare IQ scores with him.  (Being officially labeled a "moron" would entail an IQ test, and a skilled grifter would likely do quite well on one of those measures - even a two-bit con-man who didn't know squat about history or current geo-political situation.)

And then there's Bob Corker, the Republican senator from Tennessee who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Corker recently announced that he was not going to run for re-election, and Trump immediately got on his Twitter machine and took credit for Corker's decision saying that the Tennessee senator had begged Trump for an endorsement, but that he declined.  It was a shot across the senator's bow, but instead of crawling off into some dark corner and licking his wounds, Senator Corker fired this tweet right back at the bully-in-chief:

"It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."


Corker then said on an interview program that Trump was treating his office like a "reality show" and that his reckless threats towards other nations could set our country on a path to "World War III."

Double ouch!

Just because Bob Corker is not currently planning on running for re-election to the Senate, does not remove him from that chamber.  Even without running in 2018, he will remain a United States Senator until January of 2019 - fifteen more months.  Donald Trump will need Corker's votes for tax "reform," mistreatment of immigrants, crippling American health care, and who-knows-what-all over the next fifteen months, and now he has gone and seriously pissed off the senator from Tennessee.

And Jeff Flake, and Ben Sasse, and Rand Paul, and John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski.

Keep it up, Donald!  Make those Republican Senators be your bitches!  Show them that you're the boss!  Bullies are so cool!

And so are morons.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday's Poetry: Military Jodies

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Anyone who has gone through basic military training in this country or has watched Bill Murray's classic film, Stripes, knows what a "jody" is - the cadence music that service members sing as they march, music that keeps them in step.  These snappy little songs often focused on "Jody," a character who was supposedly at home making time with the girl the service member left behind.  Most of the ones that I remember from my days in the Army are not family oriented.

As an example of a bit of one that I remember:

"The women in the army
They say are mighty fine
But most are over eighty
And the rest are under nine.
I don't want no more of Army life,
Gee, but I want to go home!"

I have been thinking of jodies quite a bit this week as the big yard around my place has suddenly transformed into a military parade field.

Several weeks ago I freed my two peacocks and five peahens.  One of the peahens immediately moved away, but would occasionally come back for a morning visit.  I'm not sure what drew her away because peacocks generally stick close to the area they regard as home.  They may wander during the day, but they invariably come home to roost in the evening.  Last week I found the carcass of another hen, one that had been killed and mostly eaten by predators.  Three peahens and the two peacocks remain.

My five Toulouse geese had been the bosses of the farm until the peacocks were released, and even then they rushed forward and tried to get their bluff in on the newly freed fowl.  They were able to push the peahens around some, but the big peacocks were having none of it.  Within minutes of being freed, the peacocks exerted their dominance over the geese.

For awhile the geese managed to stay out of the way of their new overlords, but it didn't take long for the peacocks to seek out the geese and begin teaching them how things were going to be.  One of those lessons centered on herding the bewildered geese around the house, in a gaggle, relentlessly.  Sometimes one peacock would march the five geese around while his brother took a leisurely dust bath and nap in the sun, and at other times both peacocks would herd the frayed geese around the house in one direction, and then give an "about face" and march them back in the other direction.  At times they even split them into two groups which they would work separately, and if one goose had trouble following orders, he got singled out for some one-on-one remediation by a determined peacock.

A couple of evenings ago I was feeling sorry for the geese, so I stepped in between them and the drill instructor.  The big peacock was not amused and stepped up to me and screamed.  At that point I decided it would be best for me to get out of the way and let the geese take care of themselves!

Here, in honor of The Roost's crop of basic trainees, is just one of many presentable "jodies" that can be found on the internet.  It is called "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," and I can remember singing/shouting a version of it as me and my buddies tramped along the dark streets of Ft. Riley, Kansas, nearly fifty years ago.

Geese, you have my empathy.

Hup, two, three, four,
Hup, two, three, four!

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
by Anonymous

Around her hair she wore a yellow ribbon
She wore it in the spring time, in the early month of May
And if you asked her why the heck she wore it
She’d say she wore it for her soldier who was far, far away
Far away
Far away
She wore it for her soldier who was far, far away

Around the block she pushed a baby carriage
She pushed it in the spring time, in the early month of May
And if you asked her why the heck she pushed it
She’d say she pushed it for her soldier who was far, far away
Far away
Far away
She pushed it for her soldier who was far, far away

Behind the door, her father kept a shotgun
He kept it in the spring time, in the early month of May
And if you asked him why the heck she kept it
He'd say he kept it for her soldier who was far, far away
Far away
Far away

He kept it for her soldier who was far, far away.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Good News-Bad New for Puerto Rico

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The good news for some citizens of Puerto Rico, particularly those who managed to get close to Donald Trump during his very brief recent visit, is that they now apparently have an adequate supply of paper towels, at least for the time being.   The bad news is that much of the island is still without electricity, food, and safe drinking water.   The good news is that Trump assures Puerto Ricans and the world that his people have done a 'great job" and "amazing work" in getting the island back on its feet.  The bad news, of course, is that when Donald Trump's lips are moving, he is almost always lying.

Donald Trump went to Peurto Rico following the massive Hurricane Maria, and instead of bringing aid and comfort to the residents of that ravaged island,each and every one anl American citizen,  he supplied them with senseless and soulless bon mots about the devastating impact that their tragedy was having on his budget - and a minimizing of what they had gone through by comparing Maria's death toll with that of Katrina.  (You all should be ashamed for costing us so much money, and it wasn't that great of a hurricane anyway.)  He had also paved his runway of insensitivity with earlier reminders of Puerto Rico's looming debt crisis - as well as with disparaging remarks about San Juan's mayor.

Donald Trump is not the human being that Barack Obama was in these types of situations.  His mode of operation is to show up, assemble the press and pat himself on the back, stay well away from the muck, and then leave as quickly as possible.

Today Puerto Rico is still struggling to survive, and Trump is playing golf.   Reports indicate that many Puerto Ricans are planning to relocate to the mainland United States in search of jobs and better futures.  As Americans living within the United States, they will also have the right to vote in U.S. elections.  That will be good news for them, and, one hopes, bad news for Donald Trump.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

What the War on Women Looks Like

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Today marks the one-year anniversary of when Donald Trump's disgusting remark about grabbing women by the genitals became public.  His filthy rhetoric, in an un-aired taped portion of an "Access Hollywood" segment, was such a foul affront to public decency that many people suspected the election had ended right at that point and The Donald had lost.  A few weeks later, however, the Electoral College corrected that flawed thinking.

A pig was headed to the White House - to live there!

Some might have hoped that Trump's disparagement of women was just a temporary aberration, but those hopes were quickly dashed as the new administration demonstrated time and time again that women's issues were not a priority.  Perhaps Donald saw widening the gender chasm as key to his continuing war with that "nasty" Hillary.

Earlier in the week in this space I spoke to the hypocrisy of the GOP pushing a twenty-week ban on abortions while failing to re-authorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a pairing that seemed to be very pro-fetus and anti-child.  Then, just yesterday, as if to further highlight their sustained war on women and families, the Trump administration rolled back the birth control mandate for Obamacare, a move which will allow employers to not cover birth control in their insurance packages if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.   Trump's move could cause millions of women to lose that important coverage.

Less birth control, fewer abortions, more babies, more children without access to health care - yeah, that makes for viable, healthy families.

Yesterday a person named Emmy Bengston (@EmmyA2) posted a tweet that seemed to capture the whole dynamic.  It has been re-tweeted nearly 50,000 times.  Emmy described the war on women this way:

"No abortion. No birth control. No maternity leave. No health care for your kids. No care for you.
This is what a war on women looks like."

America should have taken Donald Trump at his word a year ago.  He was no friend of women - and he still isn't - nor will he ever be.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ol' Roy Blunt Wallows in NRA Cash

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Missouri's junior senator,  Ol' Roy Blunt, never met a lobbyist he didn't like, and he even married one.  Blunt, who has been a denizen of the Washington, DC, area for more than twenty years was a former public official back home in Missouri and was President of Southwest Baptist "University" in Bolivar before heading off to the glamor and riches of political life in our nation's capital.

Today Ol' Roy lives in a three-million dollar home in the DC suburbs along with his wife, Abby Perlman, and their young son.  Perlman is one of the more prominent lobbyists in Washington, DC.   All three of Blunt's grown children are lobbyists.

Ol' Roy likes lobbyists, you betcha he does - and when he sticks his hand in a lobbyist's pocket, he goes deep.

Yesterday America's newspaper, The New York Times, published a listing of the United States Senators and Representatives who had received the most money from the National Rifle Association - and Ol' Roy placed a respectable third in the Senate and was well above every member of the House of Representatives.  The NRA had invested a whopping $4,551,146 to secure the undying gratitude and loyalty of my Republican senator.

The only other two members of the Senate to draw more blood money from the NRA than Blunt were Richard Burr of North Carolina ($6,986,620) and crusty old John McCain of Arizona ($7,740,521).  But I have faith in the corruptibility of mankind and am certain that given a few more years at the trough Ol' Roy will be able to surpass the totals of even those two master graftsmen.

Keep that hand out, Ol' Roy, and keep stuffing that cash into your pockets.  You're meant for greater things than just number three!

Thursday, October 5, 2017


by Pa Rock

James A. Michener's panoramic and ponderous tome, Hawaii, was reportedly finished just days before the group of Pacific islands became the 50th state in 1959.  It is a  history of the islands going from the time millions of years ago when the lava that was to form Hawaii began seeping out of the ocean floor up until the early 1950's when the the post-World War II business and economic realities were beginning to take a firm hold on the ever-evolving island paradise.

I recently read this literary masterpiece in preparation for an upcoming trip to Hawaii, the first time that I will have been there in over forty years.

Michener's massive work (nearly 1,100 pages) is peopled with fictional characters, but ones based very closely on the individuals who actually lived the tale.  Michener dedicated his book "To all the peoples who came to Hawaii," and he structured the novel around them:  the Polynesians, the missionaries from New England, and the Chinese and Japanese laborers.  Each group brought unique qualities and strengths to the islands and left imprints that remain to this day.  While the outlines of Michener's take on the history of Hawaii are basically true historically, he peopled his tale with characters of his own creation and molded their lives and stories to fit the historical outline.

The first Polynesian settlers of the uninhabited paradise of Hawaii came from the South Pacific (Bora Bora, according to Michener) around twelve hundred years ago in a "swift single-hulled outrigger canoe" that employed dedicated paddlers and a triangular sail.  It contained a couple of dozen people, provisions for a long journey, two bred sows, taro plants, and religious artifacts.  Michener portrayed those first settlers as fleeing an encroaching new religion in order to find a place where they were free to continue worshiping their old gods.

Things evolved slowly and peacefully for a thousand years until Captain Cook discovered the islands in the eighteenth century.  After Cook's discovery of the islands, ships from various nations began sailing into Hawaii to replenish supplies and allow the sailors to become familiar with the native women.   Soon missionaries from America began arriving to save the islanders from themselves and to combat the immorality being imported into paradise by the sailors.

Michener's eight fictional missionaries were all young Congregationalists educated at Yale.  Their sponsors required that they be married in order to go to the islands and do God's work, and consequently most of the young men got married within days before their ship sailed out of Boston Harbor.  After a harrowing journey of several months, living in cramped quarters and suffering filthy conditions and constant illness, the young men and their brides, several of whom became pregnant on the voyage, finally stepped ashore on the beautiful islands of Hawaii.

Michener described these missionaries as "people who came to do good - and did well," because as the years went by they and their descendants came to control the land and the economy of the islands.  As the island's economy began turning toward agriculture, particularly the production of sugar cane, it became apparent that the relaxed nature of the native population was not going to lend itself well to field work, and farm laborers were sought from the Far East.

Chinese field hands were brought into the islands in the 1860's.  One of Michener's most memorable characters in Hawaii was Nyuk Tsiu who was brought to the islands by a gambler who had a contract to deliver her to a whorehouse.  The gambler had also signed a contract whereby he was to work five years as a field hand.   Nyuk posed as the gambler's wife in order to board the ship with its cargo of male contract workers.    The gambler became intrigued with Nyuk's aggressiveness and intelligence while enroute to Hawaii, and by the time the ship docked he had decided to buy out her prostitution contract and marry her.  They had five sons, and by the time Nyuk died, in the 1950's at the age of one hundred and six, she had hundreds of descendants living in Hawaii and her family controlled much of the land and the economy of the emerging U.S. state.

Hawaii, unlike Fiji and some other islands that imported large groups of laborers, allowed its immigrants to vote and to own land.  The Chinese soon began leaving the fields and opening businesses in and around Honolulu, a fact that created a need for a new labor source.  This time the missionary families who owned the fields turned toward Japan - and during the 1920's a large influx of Japanese immigrants began arriving in the islands.  While the Chinese turned their attention to business success, the Japanese proved to be more interested in worker rights and organizing.  Both groups, the Chinese and the Japanese, recognized the ultimate power of education, and both groups were relentless in their pursuit of educational opportunities for their children.

Michener pointed out the discrepancy with which the white master class in Hawaii - the descendants of the missionaries - treated immigrants versus the way they treated the native Polynesians.  Immigrants were given opportunities for advancement through education and the right to own property and vote.  The native population, however, were treated more like incompetents who were incapable of managing their own lives and whose interests needed to be managed by the whites.  Consequently as the native Polynesians began to disappear through the ravages of disease and inter-marriage, the Oriental immigrants were establishing a permanent presence in the social and economic aspects of the islands.

World War II and particularly the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was a major focus of the latter portion of this book. Michener examined the stresses that the bombing and constant fear of an invasion by Japan placed on the islands and their residents, particularly the Japanese.    Many of the young Japanese of military service age had been born in Hawaii and considered themselves to be Americans.  While many of the islands' Japanese were initially rounded up and detained, a lot of prominent local whites went to the jails and detention centers and managed to vouch for a good number of them who were then released.

A lot of the young Japanese men joined all-Japanese military units, led by whites, and were sent to Europe to fight.  They proved to be some of the bravest and fiercest soldiers involved in the Second World War.  Michener's epic tale focused on four of these young men, brothers, who fought in the same unit in Europe.  One was killed in Italy, one died in France, and the other two survived to become important members of the emerging post-war social order in Hawaii - one as a labor leader, and the other as a Harvard-educated lawyer who became a formidable politician.

The characters introduced in each of the various migrations to Hawaii drift across the pages and interact with one another, weaving a compelling story as well as a broad history of the islands.   Readers are taken from sailing across the ocean under the tranquility of a starry night in an outrigger canoe to riding in a cramped ship while the passengers constantly vomit over the sides of the ship and deal with intestinal maladies.  At one point readers are basking under the swaying palms of Lashaina on Maui, and a few pages later they cringing in horror as rapists roam the beach at the leper colony on Molokai looking for victims.  Michener's characters are very human, and they tell a compelling tale.

James Michener was an avid student of history with an in-depth knowledge of the South Pacific, and his first novel, in fact, Tales of the South Pacific, won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.  He went on to write more that three dozen other novels, each a comprehensive examination of the human story and experience.  His works are engrossing - and none more so than Hawaii.

I feel much better prepared for my upcoming trip after having read it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

GOP Moves to Save Fetuses While Abandoning Children

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Trent Franks is a congressman from Arizona who is basically a one-trick pony.   Mr. Franks' primary objective in serving in the House of Representative is to make life hell for women seeking abortions.  He is a highly focused (obsessed) vagina-master who is determined that women's rights over their own bodies be tightly limited and controlled by men like him, men who know what is best for women.

Yesterday Franks managed to get a bill passed in Congress, one which dealt with (of course) abortions.  Franks new legislation would make it illegal for a physician to perform or attempt to perform an abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy.   Failure to strictly adhere to the Franks' law could result in a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.  The bill passed the House on a fairly straight-line party vote of 237-189, with most Republicans self-righteously and sanctimoniously defending the "rights" of the fetus.

Lindsey Graham plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.  Passage in the Senate will be more difficult because sixty votes will be required.

The White House is on record as "strongly" supportive of the Franks' legislation and applauding "the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections."

Yeah, right.

Also in the news this week:

On September 30th the same House of Representatives allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire.  CHIP is mostly funded by the federal government.  It helps over nine million children receive low-cost health care. 

Conservative politicians have long been accused of believing that life begins at conception and ends at birth.  This week many of them have moved aggressively to cement themselves into that hypocrisy.

And it is the children who suffer.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Trump Headed "Straight to Hell"

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a gifted writer, composer, and stage actor who created and starred in two of the biggest  hits on Broadway of the last decade - "In the Heights" and "Hamilton."  His impact on modern American culture is immeasurable.

Miranda is also a native of Puerto Rico and he still has family living on that beleaguered island.  He loves and cares about the people who remain trapped in rubble and desperation that Hurricane Maria dumped on his homeland.  He is raising money and leading relief efforts for Puerto's Rico's recovery.

To say that Lin-Manuel Miranda was less than pleased with Donald Trump's lack of empathy over the tragedy that struck Puerto Rico would be criminal understatement.  Miranda was livid at Trump's blaming of Puerto Rican officials for problems they encountered in dealing with the hurricane's aftermath - as well as Trump's decision to institute a Twitter-feud with the mayor of San Juan - all actions that the Broadway star saw as not being helpful.

So this past weekend Lin-Manuel Miranda exploded onto Twitter himself and told Donald Trump how he really felt - and it was not pretty!

"You're going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump.
No long lines for you.
Someone will say, "Right this way, sir."
They'll clear a path."
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a concerned human being who suffers real pain when misfortune befalls others - and  Donald John Trump . . .  well, not so much.  Today Trump is traveling to Puerto Rico.  May he see and experience more than he intends to.

Stay strong, Puerto Rico!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday's Poetry: "The Blood-Spangled Banner"

by Pa Rock
Outraged American

I was up before daylight today listening to news coverage of yet another blood-soaked shooting rampage in America.  Last night an old man pointed an automatic weapon out of a window on the thirty-second floor of a hotel in Las Vegas and opened fire on an outdoor country music festival that was being held across the street.  Police are now saying that more than fifty people have been killed and over two hundred wounded - making this the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.

Someone, somewhere is waking up and learning that a loved one, someone who was happy and healthy yesterday and preparing for an evening of boot-stomping country music fun, is now stone-cold dead and gone forever.

Someone, somewhere in the stinking bowels of the NRA headquarters is working through a bag of donuts and a mug of coffee while selecting talking points to feed the press, soundbites that will blame disturbed individuals and stress the absolute necessity of every American arming themselves to the teeth with guns - and thanking God that we live in a country where that is easy to do.

Someone, somewhere has decided that this craziness has gone too far and the only sane thing to do is to buy a gun, a big one, one that can kill dozens of bad guys with a single pull on the trigger.

Someone, somewhere is undoubtedly busy at this very moment planning a strategy to break the record for kills in a mass shooting.  This is America, after all.

America will be outraged today, and possibly for much of the rest of the week.

This poem gives a bit of history of mass shootings.  They are becoming commonplace symbols of life and death in contemporary America.  It also points fingers of guilt toward two deserving targets, the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party - and it makes an appeal for "sane and tough" new laws to bring gun proliferation under control.

Those laws will never be passed, and gun manufacturers will make a killing off of last night's carnage.

It's all bloody crazy.

The Blood-Spangled Banner
by Erika Fine

These tragic acts of wrath and hate
Are likely to proliferate
When men can saunter through a store
And buy a gun conceived for war,
When lies the N.R.A. has spread
Speak louder than the Newtown dead,
When fear of N.R.A. disdain
Numbs Congress to Orlando’s pain.
Assault guns, banned in ’94,
Are not illegal anymore.
The “right to bear” was misconstrued;
The prudent ban was not renewed.
A gun not meant for sport or play,
A gun designed for human prey,
A gun envisioned to destroy,
Is sold as if it were a toy.
The G.O.P. should be ashamed
That gun-rights zealots have them tamed.
A silent moment’s not enough
When laws are needed, sane and tough.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Drag Queens Storm the Stage at the Starlight!

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

The Broadway traveling presentation of the hit musical, Kinky Boots, will complete a three-night run this evening at Kansas City's beautiful Starlight Theatre.  My son and I were in the audience last night, and, as usual, Tim scored some great tickets.  If things got dull on the stage, which they never did, we could always look down into the orchestra pit and almost read the sheet music.

Kinky Boots is based very tightly on the British movie of the same name which came out a decade or so ago - except that the stage version is a rocking musical.   The stage version was penned by American playwright and actor, Harvey Firestein, and all of the songs were composed by pop singer and songwriter, Cyndi Lauper.

(I saw Cyndi Lauper three years ago in Kansas City when she opened for Cher.  At that time Lauper was plugging Kinky Boots which was still running on Broadway.)

The plot:  A young man from Northampton, England, Charlie Price, leaves his struggling family business, a shoe-manufacturing firm, and heads off to London  with his girlfriend, an employee of the company,  to lead a more exciting life.  As soon as they arrive in the big city, Charlie gets a phone call telling him that his father has died.  Charlie returns to Northamptom and tries to figure out a way to save the business and keep providing employment and paychecks to his many friends who still work there.  His girlfriend, however, is not so charitable and wants to see the business closed up and the building sold to a condominium developer.

As the story develops, Charlie meets a drag queen named Lola and they come up with a scheme to save the company by making beautiful (and strong) boots for drag queens.  Charlie sees that as a "niche" market which was not being addressed by other shoemakers.   The rest of the tale centers on conflicts between Charlie and his self-serving girlfriend and the emotional upheaval that ensues when ordinary factory workers begin to focus on the lives and needs of drag queens.

I have been to three Broadway traveling shows at the Starlight over the past two seasons:  Pippin, An American in Paris, and Kinky Boots.  All were exceptional productions, but Kinky Boots was far and away the most energetic - and it attracted an exceptional audience which captured that energy and reflected it right back onto the stage.   And through it all, the whole placed rocked out to Cyndi Lauper's wonderful music!

Firestein and Lauper have come up with a winner.  I highly recommend Kinky Boots - and the Starlight Theatre in early autumn is the perfect place to enjoy this great slice of modern American musical theatre!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Private Citizens Lead the Relief Effort in Puerto Rico

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The American island of Puerto Rico remains in dire straits after last week's devastating Hurricane Maria.   Electricity is still out across most of the island, effecting homes, relief centers, and hospitals, and those with generators are having trouble finding diesel to power them.  Drinking water is also in short supply.  Many of the relief supplies that have made it to the island are stuck at the port without trucks to move them inland where they are desperately needed.

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, has issued calls for immediate humanitarian aid, saying that residents of her city and the rest of the island are dying.  The situation is, by all accounts, unimaginably horrible.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, this week loaned the team's private plane to Maverick's point guard, J.J. Barea, a native of Puerto Rico, to take emergency supplies the island and to bring survivors back to the mainland.

Rap singer Pitbull also sent his private plane to Puerto Rico loaded with relief supplies.  Pitbull will be bringing cancer patients in need of chemo back to the United States in his plane.

Meanwhile, the Boeing 757 which Donald Trump owns sits idle.

Trump initially resisted lifting the "Jones Act" which would have gotten more supplies to Puerto Rico quicker because he didn't want to cause financial harm to U.S. shippers.  Trump, who also claims to be a billionaire, has now decided that his most effective course of action in this tragedy is to lash out at Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of San Juan and accuse her of "poor leadership."  Meanwhile, he fantasizes aloud that his administration had organized a response by federal workers who are doing a "fantastic job!"

Donald Trump also used the situation to launch some tweets regarding Puerto Rico's on-going debt crisis, not letting the islanders forget that once they get past the hurricane they will still be in a precarious legal situation.   Puerto Rico's debt was made worse a few years back when a Trump-branded golf course on the island went bankrupt there and left Puerto Rico's government holding the bag for nearly $33 million.  

Trump will fly into Puerto Rico next Tuesday for a quickie tour.  Here's hoping that Melania wears sensible shoes and that The Donald pays attention while he is there.  So far the disaster response from Trump and his team has been less than spectacular - to put it charitably.  The United States can and must do better in taking care our territory and our people.

God bless our private citizens like Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks, and Pitbull - and everyone else who have reached into their hearts and pockets to save lives in the Caribbean.  They are foraging down a path that our government should have already cleared.

Stay strong, Puerto Rico, more help is on the way!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pumpkins and Walnuts and Atomic Bombs, Oh My!

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

Rosie and I are back in the Kansas City area this weekend.  We had a nice drive up this morning - 375  miles of sunshine, blue skies, and autumn scenery.

The Amish were out in full force, especially around Seymour, Missouri, where we encountered four individual buggies of the hard-working religious agrarians.   One buggy was driven by an older woman dressed in black and wearing a dark bonnet who seemed to be in a hurry to get to wherever she was going, and another was under the control of a bearded young man, also dressed in sensible Amish garb.  The other two buggies were being driven by married couples with young children on board - and both of those buggies were pulling long, wooden trailers which were loaded down with pumpkins.  One also had what appeared to be some blooming home-grown mums that were heading to a fall market.

We pulled into a quick stop just north of Springfield, Missouri, where I noticed a parked pickup truck that was hooked up to a trailer that was full of walnuts, still in their hulls.  There are many places in the rural Midwest now where people can take walnuts and have them hulled by a machine - with a buyer standing at the ready to purchase the hulled nuts in bulk.  Most small town feed stores have a hulling process in operation this time of year.

When I was young we would gather walnuts in their thick green hulls and spread them out on gravel driveways.  As the cars drove over them during the course of the fall and winter, the hulls would gradually be worn and ripped away by the car tires.  We cracked the hulled walnuts by placing them on an old anvil and then striking them with a hammer.  My sister and I would help our mother pick the "goodies" (nut meat) out of the broken walnut shells.  Mom kept the goodies in quart jars, and she would use them to make cookies and candy throughout the rest of the year.

One other bit of walnut trivia:  My dad's favorite flavor of ice cream was "Black Walnut," which was made with delicious walnuts like those grown throughout the Ozarks.  During the summer we would often make homemade ice cream with a hand-cranked ice cream freezer, but I don't remember ever making any using mom's hand-picked walnut goodies.  I do remember making homemade ice cream with fresh peaches and strawberries - and both flavors were delicious!

We also made homemade ice cream in the winter when there was a good snowfall.  A very delicious concoction called snow ice cream could be whipped up in a hurry using milk, sugar, vanilla, and, of course, snow.  Enjoying that delicacy came to an end around 1960 or so when the government began warning us not to eat snow because of possible radiation from all of the atomic testing that was going on at the time.

One other bit of radiation trivia:  Our family drove to California from Missouri twice during the late 1950's and I remember being stopped by military roadblocks in the desert at least twice.  Long lines of cars waited in the hot desert sun for what seemed like hours until we were cleared to move along.  At one of those stops our car was either first in line or very near the front, and my dad asked one of the young men in uniform manning the roadblock what was going on up ahead.  He said that the government was testing a weapon.

Fortunately, I don't remember seeing any mushroom clouds!   Things are better today, though we still run the risk running into pumpkins or walnuts as they come bouncing down the highway!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Geriatric Senate

by Pa Rock

Aging politicians are like barnacles - damned hard to remove.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had been President less than one hundred days when Dianne Feinstein was born in June of 1933.  Today she is the oldest serving member of the United States Senate and is seriously considering running for her fifth full-term next fall.  Should she win that election, Feinstein would be ninety-one at the end of the new term.

When the founding fathers - James Madison and the other wealthy white landowners - drafted our Constitution, they were careful to include minimum age requirements for various federal offices.  A member of the House of Representatives had to be at least twenty-five years old, a senator thirty, and the President had to be at least thirty-five.  They didn't want a bunch of kids taking over the levers of government.   Sadly, the Constitution drafters failed to include any provisions that placed a limitation on the maximum age a person could be who held those offices.

Dianne Feinstein, the senior senator from California, is eighty-four-years-old and she is seriously considering running for another six-year term in the Senate.  A new poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California found that fifty-percent of that state's likely voters feel that she should not run, but Feinstein seems inclined to share her political skills with Californians for another six years, whether they want her to or not.

Currently six other U.S. Senators are also over the age of eighty:  Chuck Grassley of Iowa is eighty-four (less than three months younger than Feinstein), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Richard Shelby (Alabama) are both eighty-three, James Inhofe of Oklahoma is eighty-two, and Pat Robers (Kansas) and John McCain (Arizona) are both eighty.  Thad Cochran of Mississippi will celebrate his eightieth birthday this December 7th - and then there are more than twenty other senators who are currently in their seventies!

With age comes wisdom - and mule-headedness, incontinence, and senility.  The United States government offers a choice of good retirement plans, and more Senators need to be taking advantage of them.   Those over eighty should lead the way to the exits.

The United States Senate is a political entity that barely functions as it is.     The time is overdue for a transfusion of younger blood and more vitality.   The kids need room to move up - and the dinosaurs need to be put out to pasture!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Palin Takes Trump to the Alabama Wood Shed

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Though Donald John Trump would be loathe to admit it, he is apparently not the be-all and end-all when it comes to backwoods politics in America.   Yesterday a candidate whom Trump personally campaigned for lost his senate seat in a brutal Alabama run-off election.   Yup,  The Donald, God's gift to poor white voters, had flown into Alabama the previous week and put a big pile of political capital on the table in support of the state's appointed incumbent senator, Luther Strange - and it turned out to be a losing bet!

Trump was a big gun, and by God he was going to tell those crackers what to do and who to vote for.  Vice President Pence flew in later with the same message - and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spent about a bazillion dollars also backing Strange.  The big guns were all locked and loaded and aimed squarely at the white voters of Alabama.

Strange's opponent in the run-off election was Roy Moore, also a Republican.  Moore is a colorful bigot who doesn't like Muslims or gays, and has twice been removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for political stunts.  Moore had far less money to campaign on than Strange, but he did ride to the polls yesterday on horseback, and he did campaign relentlessly portraying his opponent as part of the status quo in Washington, DC - a gator in the swamp.   Roy Moore was also actively supported in his campaign to unseat Luther Strange by white supremacist Steve Bannon and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Trump's man lost yesterday by ten full percentage points, enough to thoroughly embarrass a normal human being.  Trump, who likely will remain unfazed, might do well to have Ms. Palin back to the White House for another meal and perhaps a  lesson or two in how to speak cracker.

It looks as though Sarah Palin may rise again, and for that we can thank Donald Trump.

Glory, glory hallelujah, Her truth is marching on!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

McCaskill Is on the Beg

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The days when I don't get two or three desperate entreaties from Claire McCaskill begging for a campaign donation are rare days indeed.  The senator is relentlessly on the beg for campaign cash as she stokes the fears of Missouri citizens and Democrats nationwide.  The fate of the nation hangs by a thread, and that thread is Claire.   Those evil Trump Republicans have painted a big target on her backside, and if she loses, the country is doomed.  Doomed, she tells us!

The sky is falling and only Claire McCaskill can save us!

One thing Claire McCaskill fails to mention in all of her desperate and shameless begging is that, as of yet, she does not a credible Republican opponent. Republican Governor Eric Greitens has said he will not run against McCaskill, as have U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Ann Wagner.  State Treasurer Eric Schmjdt has also said that he is not interested in taking on McCaskill.  Tony Monetti, a relatively unknown retired bomber pilot and college professor is running, and so is Austin Petersen who ran as the Libertarian candidate for President in 2016.  Both Monetti and Petersen are running as Republicans, and neither has much of a campaign organization.  Also, neither pose a serious political threat to the wily McCaskill.

McCaskill's most likely GOP opponent is Missouri's newly-elected attorney general, Josh Hawley.  All living former Republican senators from Missouri are openly encouraging Hawley to challenge McCaskill, and he seems to be the most promising horse in the right wing of the state's political stable.  Josh Hawley, however, is hobbled by a campaign promise from his 2016 race for state attorney general, a promise that he made to voters to be focused on that job and not use it as a ladder for higher office.

But a politician's gotta do what a politician's gotta do - and Hawley recently announced an "exploratory" committee to look at a run against McCaskill.  That move was not lost on Claire.  She immediately sent out an appeal for more money.  An "exploratory" committee!  OMG, the sky really is falling!

McCaskill sold her soul to Hillary early in the last election cycle, undoubtedly hoping to secure a cushy cabinet position so she wouldn't have to come back to Missouri and press the flesh in yet another Senate campaign.  But that plan crashed and burned, and now if she wants to stay relevant she will have to struggle to hold her senate seat.

So far I have been able to resist all of McCaskill's unhinged begging, and I will stand firm at least until the two major parties select their candidates.  If the choice is - as it is likely to be - between Claire and some Trumphead, I will vote for Claire, - and maybe even send her a dollar or two - but not many.   I would be more generous if Claire's office had better constituent services or if she could resist the urge to get involved in Democratic politics in other states, but those patterns are fairly well established and unlikely to change any time soon.

The Republicans will nominate Hawley or some other Trumphead, and The Donald will rush into Missouri and try to control the election.  He's popular here, especially in the rural areas, and will have an impact on the election.  Claire McCaskill is likely to lose.

But that doesn't have to be the case.  Missouri has a much stronger senate candidate waiting in the wings, one who could and would defeat the strongest GOP challenger.  Jason Kander, Missouri's former secretary of state came within a hair's breath of defeating established Senator Ol' Roy Blunt in 2016 - in the same election in which Donald Trump trounced Hillary in Missouri by over eighteen percentage points.

Kander, of course is expressing no interest in putting up a primary challenge to McCaskill, which is sad because he is by far the more dynamic candidate of the two.  McCaskill, for her part, would have little room to whine about a primary challenge because she took on Governor Bob Holden, a Democrat, back in 2004 and defeated the incumbent in a primary.  She later lost the general election to Ol' Roy Blunt's sensitive son, Matt.

So, for the time being, Democrats in Missouri are stuck with Claire, while Republicans are still mulling the situation over.  But, the sky is falling - make no mistake about that - and Claire desperately needs those dollars!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday's Poetry: "Puerto Rican Obituary"

 by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Puerto Rico, one of the larger islands in the Caribbean, has been an American territory since the Spanish American War at the end of the 19th century.  The United States took Puerto Rico and the Pacific island of Guam as part of the spoils of that war, and our country still controls much of the governance and daily life of those two islands today.  There is sporadic talk of each becoming a state someday.

Puerto Rico is, or has been, one of the lovelier jewels of the Caribbean.  Old San Juan and the massive Spanish fort along the coast draw millions of tourists annually, and El Yunque, the rain forest of Puerto Rico, is an amazing experience.   With English in common usage and the dollar as the official currency - as well as an array of American businesses and medical and educational professionals residing on the island, many Americans see it as a viable retirement option. 

This past week, of course, Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a gargantuan weather event that left the entire island tattered and without electricity.  Reports are that it will take months to get the power back on throughout the island, and years to rebuild.

That is so sad because it is a charming and beautiful place.

Shamefully, our national government does not seem to be engaged with helping Puerto Rico recover from the massive hurricane damage the way that kicked into gear with the tragedy in Houston.  Puerto Ricans are Americans, too, albeit marginalized ones.

This poem, "Puerto Rican Obituary" by Pedro Pietri, is a lengthy look at what it means to be a Puerto Rican struggling to get by while residing in New York City's Spanish Harlem.  It idealizes life back home on the island, and portrays a sad, soulful longing for a place where people could live as human beings and not just workers toiling their way toward the cemetery.

Stay strong, Puerto Rico.  You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Puerto Rican Obituary
by Pedro Pietri

They worked
They were always on time
They were never late
They never spoke back
when they were insulted
They worked
They never took days off
that were not on the calendar
They never went on strike
without permission
They worked
ten days a week
and were only paid for five
They worked
They worked
They worked
and they died
They died broke
They died owing
They died never knowing
what the front entrance
of the first national city bank looks like

All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow
passing their bill collectors
on to the next of kin
All died
waiting for the garden of eden
to open up again
under a new management
All died
dreaming about america
waking them up in the middle of the night
screaming: Mira Mira
your name is on the winning lottery ticket
for one hundred thousand dollars
All died
hating the grocery stores
that sold them make-believe steak
and bullet-proof rice and beans
All died waiting dreaming and hating

Dead Puerto Ricans
Who never knew they were Puerto Ricans
Who never took a coffee break
from the ten commandments
the landlords of their cracked skulls
and communicate with their latino souls

From the nervous breakdown streets
where the mice live like millionaires
and the people do not live at all
are dead and were never alive

died waiting for his number to hit
died waiting for the welfare check
to come and go and come again
died waiting for her ten children
to grow up and work
so she could quit working
died waiting for a five dollar raise
died waiting for his supervisor to drop dead
so he could get a promotion

Is a long ride
from Spanish Harlem
to long island cemetery
where they were buried
First the train
and then the bus
and the cold cuts for lunch
and the flowers
that will be stolen
when visiting hours are over
Is very expensive
Is very expensive
But they understand
Their parents understood
Is a long non-profit ride
from Spanish Harlem
to long island cemetery

All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow
Dreaming about queens
Clean-cut lily-white neighborhood
Puerto Ricanless scene
Thirty-thousand-dollar home
The first spics on the block
Proud to belong to a community
of gringos who want them lynched
Proud to be a long distance away
from the sacred phrase: Que Pasa

These dreams
These empty dreams
from the make-believe bedrooms
their parents left them
are the after-effects
of television programs
about the ideal
white american family
with black maids
and latino janitors
who are well train—
to make everyone
and their bill collectors
laugh at them
and the people they represent

died dreaming about a new car
died dreaming about new anti-poverty programs
died dreaming about a trip to Puerto Rico
died dreaming about real jewelry
died dreaming about the irish sweepstakes

They all died
like a hero sandwich dies
in the garment district
at twelve o’clock in the afternoon
social security number to ashes
union dues to dust

They knew
they were born to weep
and keep the morticians employed
as long as they pledge allegiance
to the flag that wants them destroyed
They saw their names listed
in the telephone directory of destruction
They were train to turn
the other cheek by newspapers
that mispelled mispronounced
and misunderstood their names
and celebrated when death came
and stole their final laundry ticket

They were born dead
and they died dead
Is time
to visit sister lopez again
the number one healer
and fortune card dealer
in Spanish Harlem
She can communicate
with your late relatives
for a reasonable fee
Good news is guaranteed
Rise Table Rise Table
death is not dumb and disable—
Those who love you want to know
the correct number to play
Let them know this right away
Rise Table Rise Table
death is not dumb and disable
Now that your problems are over
and the world is off your shoulders
help those who you left behind
find financial peace of mind
Rise Table Rise Table
death is not dumb and disable
If the right number we hit
all our problems will split
and we will visit your grave
on every legal holiday
Those who love you want to know
the correct number to play
let them know this right away
We know your spirit is able
Death is not dumb and disable

All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow
Hating fighting and stealing
broken windows from each other
Practicing a religion without a roof
The old testament
The new testament

according to me gospel
of the internal revenue
the judge and jury and executioner
protector and eternal bill collector
Secondhand shit for sale
learn how to say Como Esta Usted

and you will make a fortune
They are dead
They are dead
and will not return from the dead
until they stop neglecting
the art of their dialogue—
for broken english lessons
to impress the mister goldsteins—
who keep them employed
as lavaplatos
porters messenger boys
factory workers maids stock clerks
shipping clerks assistant mailroom
assistant, assistant assistant
to the assistant’s assistant
assistant lavaplatos and automatic
artificial smiling doormen
for the lowest wages of the ages
and rages when you demand a raise
because is against the company policy
died hating Miguel because Miguel’s
used car was in better running condition
than his used car
died hating Milagros because Milagros
had a color television set
and he could not afford one yet
died hating Olga because Olga
made five dollars more on the same job
died hating Manuel because Manuel
had hit the numbers more times
than she had hit the numbers
died hating all of them
and Olga
because they all spoke broken english
more fluently than he did

And now they are together
in the main lobby of the void
Addicted to silence
Off limits to the wind
Confine to worm supremacy
in long island cemetery
This is the groovy hereafter
the protestant collection box
was talking so loud and proud about

Here lies Juan
Here lies Miguel
Here lies Milagros
Here lies Olga
Here lies Manuel
who died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow
Always broke
Always owing
Never knowing
that they are beautiful people
Never knowing
the geography of their complexion

If only they
had turned off the television
and tune into their own imaginations
If only they
had used the white supremacy bibles
for toilet paper purpose
and make their latino souls
the only religion of their race
If only they
had return to the definition of the sun
after the first mental snowstorm
on the summer of their senses
If only they
had kept their eyes open
at the funeral of their fellow employees
who came to this country to make a fortune
and were buried without underwears

will right now be doing their own thing
where beautiful people sing
and dance and work together
where the wind is a stranger
to miserable weather conditions
where you do not need a dictionary
to communicate with your people
Se Habla Espanol
all the time
Aqui you salute your flag first
Aqui there are no dial soap commercials
Aqui everybody smells good
Aqui tv dinners do not have a future
Aqui the men and women admire desire
and never get tired of each other
Aqui Que Pasa Power is what’s happening
Aqui to be called negrito
means to be called LOVE