Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tough Winter Looms for Farm Mice

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Fall

Everything is seasonal on a farm.  The spring bears witness to regeneration as the new plants push through the warming soil, and the livestock begins the frolicsome and necessary task of procreation.  The trees green in spring, and the peacocks lay their eggs.  If the hens are going to get "broody" and sit on some eggs, that usually happens as the weather is warming and the days are lengthening.  Spring is also the time when the little mice begin abandoning their winter homes in the farm's outbuildings and head into the nearby tall grasses and weeds for a summer of camping out.  Summer on the farm is a period of of sustained growth, fall is the when the fruits of summer are gathered and stored in preparation for the coming cold, and winter is for hunkering down and trying to survive the rigors of short days and frost-laden nights.

We are in the fall season now, and one sure sign of autumn is that the mice have begun packing up their camping gear and moving back into the out buildings - the barn, chicken coop, and garage.  Last winter they found warm hidey-holes in those old buildings and spent their days scurrying about living large on the grain that had been scattered for the poultry.  The chickens seemed to leave the little guys alone, and there was no cat.

This fall things are shaping up differently.  Fiona the cat has moved to Rock's Roost, and she considers the barn and the chicken coop to be her own special hunting grounds.  Some days she spends her waking hours exploring the barn, and many nights she chooses to sleep in the chicken coop.   When the little mice rush from one spot of safety to another, Fiona is often lurking enroute to meet them.

I mentioned last week that I had watched Ol' Speck, one of three farm guineas, swallow a mouse - a feat that took about ten minutes from whiskers to tail.  I've got a duck also which I expect to turn into a mouser.  If guineas and ducks can swallow mice, there should be no anatomical reason why a chicken could not do the same thing, but last winter I never observed that happening.  Yesterday, however, I did see the two young Red Jungle Fowl roosters sharing in a mouse kill, so perhaps they will educate the hens and get them inspired to eat the warm little rodents.

All things considered, it is shaping up to be a tough winter for the mice at Rock's Roost!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Havana Red: A Review of the Novel by Leonardo Padura

by Pa Rock
Reader

One of the ways that I prepare for a trip to a country where I have never been before is to read some good fiction based in that country.  In the late 1990's, for example, in getting ready for a trip to Russia, I read Gorky Park and several of the other police novels of Martin Cruz Smith.  Smith's descriptions of contemporary Moscow provided far more accurate glimpses of the people and the culture than could have been obtained from any guidebook.   The streets of Moscow seemed a little less foreign to me because I had already experienced them through the eyes of Detective Arkady Renko.

This past spring I had a sudden opportunity to visit Cuba, a country that had been essentially closed to America for more than half a century.  My own view of Cuban culture through literature was limited to Dirty Havana Trilogy:  A Novel in Stories by Cuban author Pedro Juan Gutierrez which I had read several years earlier.   Gutierrez told darkly humorous tales of street people and prostitutes as they scratched for a living along the impoverished edges of Havana society.  I would have liked to have had a more rounded view of Cuba through its literature prior to my trip there, but time did not cooperate.

One of the Cuban authors that I would have liked to have read before traveling to the island nation was Leonardo Padura, a novelist and short story writer.  Padura is best known for the Havana Quartet, a set of four novels (Havana Red, Havana Black, Havana Blue, and Havana Gold) focusing on a fictional police detective by the name of Mario Conde, a frustrated writer who has spent so many years with the police that he now bemoans the fact that he looks like a policeman.  Conde, whose friends call him The Count, is also a philosopher and former athlete who would rather be playing sandlot baseball with the neighborhood kids that wading through urban crime life.

The first book in the Havana Quartet, Havana Red, is set in the 1980's, a time when no one doubted the ultimate control of Fidel Castro and the Revolution.

The presenting crime in Havana Red is the strangulation death of a transvestite in a wooded area of Havana.   The young adult, dressed in a beautiful red dress, was the son of a prominent political family in Cuba.  His death is intriguing because there are no signs that the victim tried to fight off his attacker, and two Cuban pesos had been inserted into his anus.  As the philosopher/detective is drawn into the case, he becomes fascinated with the transvestite and gay subcultures of Havana.  While the Count is learning hidden truths about the city in which he has always lived, so are Padura's readers.

This book illuminates the lives of ordinary (and some not so ordinary) Cubans as they struggle to survive and achieve a certain amount of personal satisfaction in a state that places the needs of society well above those of the individual.   I hope to be able to explore the works of Leon Padura more thoroughly in the future - as well as the city that has always been his home.

Havana Red is a captivating work by a very talented author.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "Gunning for Debate"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Today's poetry selection was penned by writer Erika Fine shortly after she heard about Donald Trump's plan to ban all Muslim's from entering the United States.  Her poem does a beautiful job of castigating the combed-over blowhard as well as exposing the amoral culture that spawned him.  It is being presented here in recognition of tonight's first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I like this piece very much.  It flows nicely, is crisp and clever, and zings home the point with pinpoint accuracy again and again and again.  May Hillary's aim be as true - and as deadly - as that of Ms. Fine.

Erika Fine is a contributor at WBUR's "Cognoscenti" where this poem first appeared.


Gunning for Debate
by Erika Fine


“The Donald” is a demagogue,
A xenophobic camera hog.
“Pack your bags and go away.
Stay outside the U.S.A.!”
That’s his anti-terror plan --

A Muslim inbound-travel ban.

The theme of Trump’s extreme regime
Brings to mind another scheme --
Internment for the Japanese
To “make us safe” and cure unease.


But help! We face a larger threat,
A bigger group we need to vet:
White Christian men who live alone
Are sadly more than Muslims prone
To kill and maim in random acts.
You don’t believe me? Check the facts!


And deadlier than all the others
Are white men living with their mothers!


So round 'em up and ship 'em out
We’ll all be safer, have no doubt!
What, you think that’s not allowed?
We’ve learned from Trump; we won’t be cowed!
We’ll put them in a DATAbase!
We’ll make I.D.s that show their face!
For those still living with their moms --
It’s not just guns; they’re into bombs!
For them a smart computer chip
Will catch them at a faster clip!


Our database will flag a name
And then in pulsing text proclaim,
“This loner guy is very white
He’ll take his gun and find a site --
A movie, church, perhaps a school --
Don’t let a shotgun be his tool!”


Oh, you interrupted me
You say you strongly disagree?
You say a person’s lawful right
To keep and bear a gun’s airtight?
You say a no-fly guy can buy
A gun because we can’t deny
His right to cherish and adore
A weapon meant for waging war?


The NRA’s influenced you
With voodoo through Amendment Two!
Your fetish for that fitful clause
Would give the Founding Fathers pause.
In fact, they’d rise as one and say,
“You’re off the mark now, NRA!”



Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Front Row and Who You Know

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Mark Cuban of Dallas, Texas, is a billionaire - a real billionaire and not a purported billionaire like Donald Trump of New York City.  Over the past few months Mr. Cuban has shown a sustained disdain of Mr. Trump by saying impolite things about him and referring to the reality television personality on multiple occasions as a "jagoff."  Clearly where Donald Trump is concerned, Mark Cuban exhibits a flagrant lack of respect.

This past week Cuban and Trump took their gentleman's war to Twitter.  Cuban dropped this aerial bomb that informed the Twitterverse that he had secured one of Hillary's front row seats at next Monday's debate at Hofstra University.  Mark Cuban crowed loudly:

"Just got a front row seat to watch @HillaryClinton overwhelm @realDonaldTrump at the "Humbling at Hofstra" on Monday.  It Is On!"

Not to be outdone, Trump fired this little gem back yesterday:

"If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Jennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" 

Gennifer (not "Jennifer") was one of more than a dozen women who claimed to have been involved in extra-marital affairs with Bill Clinton during the years he was governor of Arkansas.  She says the affair lasted twelve years, while Big Dog says that he had sex with her only once.  Ms. Flowers, who now claims to be an actress, was reportedly the inspiration for the famous line by James Carville, "Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find."

Before Trump's people could get out and officially deny that he had invited Gennifer Flowers to the debate, the eager actress, never one to pass up free publicity, accepted - on Twitter, of course.

"Hi Donald. You know I'm in your corner and will definitely be at the debate!..."
Then Trump campaigner manager de jour, Kellyanne Conway, managed to elbow her way to the microphone and un-invite Ms. Flowers.

Now the Commission on Presidential Debates is asking both camps - Clinton and Trump - to take a step back and calm down.  The commissioners say they would not like to see any controversy related to front row seating.  They would prefer that the political maneuvering be kept on the stage - and out of the audience.

Clearly who is sitting on the front row on Monday night will be part of the message that the two candidates are trying to get out.  In the end, it's always about who you know.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

They'll Have to Parade without Me

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

My sister, Gail, and I had been planning a big autumn adventure.  We were going to hop on a tour bus with a bunch of old people in November and travel to New York City where we would watch the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live from the sidewalks of the Big Apple.  Our money was paid and our bags were packed.

But those plans came crashing down yesterday afternoon when the tour operator called to inform us that the trip had been cancelled.  Some of our fellow travelers had backed out, leaving too few for the tour company to make a profit.  Those suddenly deciding not to go had used terrorism as their excuse - fear brought on by the pressure cooker bomber who set off a few non-fatal blasts around the city last week.  Never mind that the guy has already been arrested and now poses no threat to anyone outside of Riker's Island.

Didn't those old farts realize that New York City - or any large urban area for that matter - is a dangerous place when they signed up for the trip?  Now when a terrorist weasel suddenly pops up, it dawns on them that they will be traveling beyond their comfort zone of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri.  In the eloquent words of our Most Beloved Dear Leader Wannabe, Donald Jong John Trump, they are "a bunch of pussies and losers!"

Now those cowards will be free to partake of safer activities over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, like storming the Bentonville Walmart before dawn on Black Friday and risk being trampled to death for a flat-screen television or cheap clothing made by slaves in Bangladesh.  Personally, I'd rather take my chances with the New York City terrorists!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Famous Offspring Turns Thirty-Seven

by Pa Rock
Proud Father

Noted screenwriter and producer Tim Macy was born on this date in 1979 at St. Francis Hospital in Mountain View, Missouri.  It was a Sunday morning, the first day of autumn.  Tim grew up in the small communities of southern Missouri and now resides in the Kansas suburbs of Kansas City where he spends most of his time being an active family man, teacher, and writer.

This week Tim is in Los Angeles where he is "taking" meetings and hobnobbing with movers and shakers in the film industry.  Erin and the kids are out there as well, but while Tim is busy making contacts, his family is at the beach having some real fun.

Happy number thirty-seven, Tim.  May you have an Oscar by the time you are forty!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bagworms and Webworms and Trump, Oh My!

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Fall

I noted a couple of days ago all of the "Trump-Pence" signs that I saw while driving west across northern Arkansas.  Today, while driving the same route, only headed east this time, I noticed evidence of other pests.  The trees, in the early morning mist and fog, were startling white with the webs of leaf-eating worms.  Especially hard hit were walnut trees, many of which were plastered with the webs (each holding hundreds of hungry moth caterpillars) and a few dangling walnuts.  Thankfully, most of this raping of the green ended about the time I got to the Missouri state line,  a situation I credit to the "show me" state having the good sense and common decency to elect a Democratic governor - although there were still a few infected trees, due no doubt to the failings of our Republican legislature.

I had always referred to the caterpillars living in these large webs as "bagworms," but wanting to write about them I decided to telephone the Howell County Extension Office and get the definitive name from someone who actually knew.   I talked to a young man who just happened to be there answering the telephone while the other workers were at lunch.  He readily admitted that he did not know the answer, but volunteered to look it up.  The fellow finally came back to the line and said, "Yes, you are right.  They are bagworms."   He even offered to provide the Latin name, but I declined on that.

(For those who suspect that Pa Rock might be a tad bit too lazy to learn a Latin name, chew on this:  "Agricolae et puellae in silva sunt."  Don't ask me why I remember "The farmers and the girls are in the forest" from my high school Latin class, but I do.  It must have been important at the time!)

Then, as I began writing this piece, I decided to fact-check the fellow at the University Extension Office because I had some lingering doubts that I could so easily be right about anything.  It turns out, according to the Google, that bagworms are the small worms in individual bags that cling to expensive shrubbery.  The worms in large webs high up in the trees are a different creature altogether and are called "webworms."

(An uncle of mine once offered to pay me and my cousins two-cents for each bagworm we picked from the shrubs in front of his house.  Not only did we clean out the shrubs, we cleaned out Uncle Bob as well.  That offer was never repeated!)

Fortunately, Rock's Roost is currently free of bagworms and webworms, but should any arrive, I will know what they are and the appropriate way to treat them - such as with love and respect - or with disdain and chemical violence!

One must wonder, I suppose, whether Donald Trump has an official position on bagworms and webworms - or will he just make fun of them.  It's a situation that has a direct impact on his supporters, many of whom still live in trees!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Raising Money and Spreading Manure

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

When Hillary was sidelined by pneumonia a few days ago, it wasn't campaign appearances and stump speeches that she had to step away from - it was some heavy duty fundraising in southern California -  an activity so important to her campaign that Bill was rushed out to the coast to take over.   But while the Clintons were begging for cash, once the lifeblood of political campaigns, Donald Trump and his children were saying outrageous things and generating far more printer's ink and air time than a boxcar-load of Hillary's money could buy - and they were getting that coverage free.

Trump, the consummate manure-spreader, slings his stuff everywhere, entertaining and inspiring the low-information, well-armed, Jesus-loving, rebel flag-waving boneheads who, along with America's greediest millionaires and billionaires, make up his base.   Meanwhile Hillary spends big hoping her well-reasoned and highly-polished message will resonate with ordinary, sensible Americans.

Hillary was out-of-sync with America in 2008 when Barack Obama swooped in from the left and took the nomination away from her.  She was out-of-sync with party progressives again in 2016 when a Democratic Socialist mounted a surprisingly strong campaign and forced her from her comfortable, centrist perch.  And now, as the general election approaches, she is out-of-sync once more - fighting a modern war with obsolete tactics.

Hillary Clinton is running a campaign crafted for the 1990's, a time before the emergence of reality television,  a time when campaigns promoted sensible ideas, and a time when journalism was far less ignoble than it is today.  She is well informed, articulate, and able to generate responsible solutions to the problems that impact Americans at every level of society.  But the times have changed, and a well-rehearsed policy wonk doesn't fit the fickle needs of a volatile nation.   Hillary is old school, but she recognizes her anachronicity and is trying desperately to grab onto a movement that she doesn't really comprehend - or like.

Trump, on the other hand, is loud, and crude, and not weighed down by a conscience or facts, but he plays well to the masses - and every word he utters feeds a ravenous press corps.   He is campaigning much like he runs his businesses - on the cheap.  He may ultimately be voted off the island, but if that happens he already has an established conspiracy theory assembled and waiting in the wings:  the election was rigged by "Crooked Hillary."  It will be as good as birtherism and should keep him in the news and selling taco bowls to suckers for several more years.

Hillary sees making money as a way to capture votes, while Trump sees capturing votes as a way to make money.   Both views are flawed, and both are just a tad deplorable.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Out and Proud Trumpbillies

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

The presidential campaign has found its way into the hills and hollers of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.  This morning I took a leisurely road trip between my home in West Plains, Missouri, and my sister's place in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and was genuinely surprised by all of the presidential campaign paraphernalia scattered out along the backwoods roadways - all of it supporting the hillbilly favorites, Donald Trump and Mike Pence.  The goobers are out with their signage, and they are damn proud of it.

A few of the signs were out in front of the large, manicured farms, properties owned by the landed gentry who would benefit directly by having rich white guys with little or no social conscience running the country.  The remainder were where one would expect them to be - next to double-wide trailers and dilapidated shacks, properties rented or squatted upon by people dependent upon government for their survival, but with lottery tickets in their pockets and hopes to one day be part of the landed gentry - and maybe even own a bass boat.

There are undoubtedly a few Hillary supporters living along the same roads, but they collectively know better than to draw attention to themselves.  Trump should carry the entire area by seventy percent or more.

Thank God for the cities!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "To Kill a Deer"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Yesterday I commented on some of the deer that have been roaming about Rock's Roost in the early morning hours.  They are beautiful creatures, serene and graceful, whose only crimes are occasional forays into gardens, unauthorized pruning of fruit trees, and jumping in front of vehicles driven by wild-eyed hillbillies as they barrel recklessly along our country lanes.  Deer can become pests, and for that reason this state, and most others, allow humans to kill the regal animals at various times during the year.

Through her poem, "To Kill a Deer," the poet Carol Frost takes readers along on a hunt in which she shares the feeling that comes with shooting a deer.  She also talks of gutting the animal and harvesting some cuts of meat.  Although her motivation for hunting was not expressed in the poem, it is doubtful that Ms. Frost, who at one time studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, needed the carcass to stock her freezer and sustain herself through a hard New England winter.

Still, many people do.


To Kill a Deer
by Carol Frost

Into the changes of autumn brush
the doe walked, and the hide, head, and ears
were the tinsel browns. They made her.
I could not see her. She reappeared, stuffed with apples,
and I shot her. Into the pines she ran,
and I ran after. I might have lost her,
seeing no sign of blood or scuffle,
but felt myself part of the woods,
a woman with a doe’s ears, and heard her
dying, counted her last breaths like a song
of dying, and found her dying.
I shot her again because her lungs rattled like castanets,
then poked her with the gun barrel
because her eyes were dusty and unreal.
I opened her belly and pushed the insides
like rotted fruit into a rabbit hole,
skinned her, broke her leg joints under my knee,
took the meat, smelled the half-digested smell
that was herself. Ah, I closed her eyes.
I left her refolded in some briars
with the last sun on her head
like a benediction, head tilted on its axis
of neck and barren bone; head bent
wordless over a death, though I heard
the night wind blowing through her fur,
heard riot in the emptied head.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Farm at Dawn

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Summer

It is usually still dark as the old farmer steps out the backdoor in the mornings and heads toward the chicken coop to begin the early chores of releasing and feeding the chickens, taking care of the cat, and visiting with the peacocks as he scatters their feed.   Fifteen or so minutes later as he is finishing up, the sun is starting to climb out of the east bringing the first light of day.

One might suppose that mornings on the farm would be a quiet time with the only noises coming from the farmer as he rattles feed cans and putters about getting things done.  But four roosters think otherwise.  The two Red Jungle Fowl roosters who sleep in a tree in the garden spot next to the chicken coop are still adolescents and have been struggling to find their big boy voices, but over the past couple of weeks they have developed a crowing ability the rivals that of the two adult Rhode Island Red roosters who sleep inside of the coop with the hens and guineas.  The four boisterous boys start trying to out-crow each other before the first hint of light has found its way into the farmyard.

The three guineas love a good fuss, and they also begin making their racket in loud competition with the roosters.  And then there is the cat, wandering underfoot and demanding breakfast.  Fiona makes her share of noise, too.  The younger chickens and the duck are all peeping their desire to be released from their pen and get out into the dew-wet grass to begin the day's foraging.  The peacocks are usually aloof in the mornings, sitting silently, but regally, awaiting their meal to be served.  But if those big birds are startled, a raucous honking begins that quickly drowns out all of the other farm creatures.

By the time the farmer can actually see what he is doing, the place is rocking and rolling with the noises of morning!

A couple of days ago as the old farmer was scattering grain for the chickens, a pair of young deer stepped right in front of him, so close that he could have reached out and touched them.  The pair had been nibbling on a couple of young volunteer sassafras trees that the farmer been protecting throughout the summer.  The deer became startled when they saw him and quickly bounced away, their white tails pointing upwards at the lingering night stars. 

This morning, as it was just getting light enough to see clearly, the farmer was surprised by another young deer which was standing next to a bush eating grain that he had just scattered.  She looked up at him with her big, brown deer eyes, surmised that he posed no danger, and went back to eating.  They were less than ten feet apart.

The farmer will probably lose the young sassafras trees before winter has passed.  That is a shame because they are well formed and off to a good start.  But the trees don't "belong" to him.  Their ancestors were here first, and so were those of the deer.   The old farmer is just a temporary caretaker, renting space and trying to stay out of nature's way until he shuffles off to greener pastures. 

Hopefully the deer will be there waiting for him.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Final Curtain Call for Edward Albee

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

One of America's finest playwrights has left the stage.  Edward Albee, a winner of two Tony awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama, died yesterday at his home in New York.  He was eighty-eight.  The playwright was known as someone who enthralled - and sometimes repulsed - audiences with his unsparing portrayals of contemporary life.

Albee's first professional production, The Zoo Story, opened in Berlin in 1959 on a double bill with a play by Samuel Beckett.  Albee's play told of the encounter of two men sitting on a bench in New York's Central Park.  It was followed two years later by his best known play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a play which won the Tony award for the year's best drama.

I have told this story here before, but in 1966 when the movie version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf came out, it was a highly controversial film.  I was just out of high school and in my freshman year at Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield when the movie came to the Gillioz Theatre.  It was probably not something that I would have rushed out to see - if not for the fact that a group of fundamentalist Christians led by a former conservative congressman and regular Reader's Digest contributor, O.K. Armstrong, held daily protests outside of the theatre.  Those protesters made the Fox company - which owned the Gilloiz - a pile of money!

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a twisted tale of two couples having dinner together.  George and Martha (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) were an older couple, a college professor and his wife, and their guests were a young professor and his wife (George Segal and Sandy Dennis).   The social evening quickly descended into a mudslide of drunkenness, cursing, and serious psychological abuse.  There was however, no nudity.

At the same time, across town at the Tower Theatre where I worked selling concessions, a Swedish movie was playing called Dear John which was a love story of sorts between a shipmaster and a waitress - with an abundance of nudity.  The manager of the Tower, A.C. "Mac" McDonald was incensed that the Gillioz was getting all of the attention and free publicity from the sign-carrying fundamentalists, while he was showing the dirtier of the two movies!

Edward Albee, who was not yet forty at the time Mike Nichols made Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf into an American cinematic classic, still had five more decades of good writing ahead of him.   His dramatic oeuvre would grow to become one of the more extensive and respected in the annals of the American theatre.  Albee was a skilled observer and reporter of American life and culture.

A great writer has taken his final bow and left the stage - but his work will live on.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Kander's New Ad Leaves Blunt Firing Blanks

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Jason Kander, Missouri's current Secretary of State and the man poised to drive Ol' Roy Blunt away from his money trough in the United States Senate, is out with a new thirty-second television spot that is unlike any other political advertisement in the current election cycle.  The ad features Kander standing at a table in what appears to be a warehouse.  The Senate candidate is blindfolded and assembling a rifle as he talks about his experiences fighting in the war in Afghanistan.

Dailykos describes the Kander ad this way:

Kander is shown blindfolded as he notes that Republican Sen. Roy Blunt has been attacking him on guns. As Kander assembles a rifle while still blindfolded, he describes how, while serving in Afghanistan, he "volunteered to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs." And after saying that he voted to protect gun rights in the legislature, Kander also notes that he "believes in background checks, so that terrorists can't get their hands on one of these." After Kander finishes putting his rifle together, he concludes, "I approve this message because I'd like to see Sen. Blunt do this."

Roy Blunt is a life-long politician and the patriarch of a family of lobbyists.  In addition to attacking Kander as being weak on gun issues, Blunt also employs the standard Republican cheap shot of calling his opponent a "liberal."  The old senator is quickly learning, however, that name-calling may not be enough to save his job.  Jason Kander is one tough hombre - and this new ad makes that very clear.

Roy Blunt, a man who avoided the draft and wallows in contributions from special interests - including the gun lobby - versus Jason Kander, a man who volunteered to fight for his country and knows more about guns, even blindfolded, than his opponent ever will.   Mr. Blunt has gone to Washington to take care of himself and his family.  Jason Kander will go there to take care of the rest of us.

See this great political advertisement at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wqOApBLPio   And then share it with friends!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fat Boy and Pneumonia Girl Wheeze Toward the Finish Line

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Donald John Trump, the man Ronald Reagan, Jr., recently referred to as "fat boy," has filmed a segment for the "Dr. Oz" television show in which he discusses his health with the celebrity physician and shares a whopping two-page medical history.  Although the episode has yet to air, word of it's content is leaking to the press from audience members.  What is apparent is that the Trump camp is continuing to keep their candidate's health status very close to the vest - while constantly clambering for Hillary Clinton to be more forthcoming with her medical history.

One page of the Trump medical history to which Doctor Oz was granted access was apparently a list of test results that were conducted at Lennox Hospital in New York City last week.  One of those results supposedly indicated that his cholesterol level was good - and there was also information provided that Trump is on medication to control his cholesterol. 

Trump's weight was a topic of conversation on the show, with an acknowledgement that he weighs either 236 pounds or 267 pounds, depending on which audience member was quoted.  The Trump camp is apparently laying claim to the 236 pound figure.  Reports from the program indicate that the candidate confessed to not exercising except when he is able to play golf, and that he enjoys eating fast food.

As someone who has weighed 236 pounds before - but never 267, I can attest that even the lighter of those two figures is an uncomfortable burden to carry around as well as a serious health risk.  A president who was taking the extremely high stress job seriously, and who weighs that much, would be at serious risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Two pages obviously can't cover the health history of a seventy-year-old, obese male.  (It would take several pages just to provide a history of my dental check-ups or eye-exams - much less the serious stuff.)   It would appear The Donald is still going to great lengths to control the story of his health.  Kurt Eichenwald, a reporter who has an investigative piece on Trump in the current on-line edition of Newsweek, tweeted this piece of speculation on Tuesday:

"I believe Trump was institutionalized in a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown in 1990, which is why he won't release medical records."
Eichenwald's tweet was later withdrawn.

Meanwhile, in the other camp, Hillary Clinton is drawing criticism for trying to conceal a case of pneumonia while maintaining a very active schedule.  A friend told me yesterday, quite seriously, that he heard Hillary had died from the pneumonia and has been replaced on the campaign trail with a double.

The true state of both candidates' actual health is likely to remain murky, but what is clear is this:  the secretiveness of the two, Trump and Clinton, will continue to lead to outlandish speculation unless they are more open and honest about their medical histories.   Both candidates are well into their senior years, both of vying for one of the most grueling jobs in the world, and both are trying to sell themselves to the American public as healthy enough to run the country.

When I make a purchase of this magnitude, I want to have a look under the hood.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Meet the Deplorables

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

When recently asked by a member of the press if Klan Man David Duke, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senator from Louisiana, is deplorable, The Donald ducked.  So, in response to no response from Trump on the question of David Duke's deplorability, Daily Kos  (www.dailykos.com) is this morning asking its readers if they think the ex-klansman is deplorable.  The results so far are a bit lopsided:

Yes:  1,354 votes  (99%)
No:  12 votes  (1%)
No Opinion:  3 votes  (0%)
Other deplorable people in the news this week include an Alabama Baptist minister who made headlines on Sunday when he suggested that people who don't want to stand for the national anthem should be shot  (Jesus would have loved that bit of Christian charity!), the seventy-three-year-old man who "cold-cocked" a sixty-nine-year-old female protester (who was using oxygen at the time) at a Trump rally in North Carolina on Monday, and Matt Bevin, the Republican governor of Kentucky,who suggested to a Fox interviewer that it might take a citizen response with guns to solve some of our political difficulties.

Donald Trump would like for America to believe that Hillary was slandering ordinary folks - school teachers, truck drivers, mill workers, farmers - the people who make America strong and resilient.  She wasn't.  She was speaking to the nut jobs who ignore the teachings of Christ while clinging ferociously to the mantle of Christianity,  to the children and grandchildren of immigrants who now desperately want to keep "foreigners" out, to unreconstructed Confederates, to people who hoard automatic weapons in a desperate desire to go to war with their own government, and to people who unabashedly and enthusiastically support hate, misogyny, and racism.

The deplorables know who they are - and so do the rest of us.  And, for that matter, so does Donald Trump.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Don't Mess with Speck!

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Summer

One day two years ago I rushed outside in an attempt to rescue a young sparrow that was pinned to the ground and being pecked to death by a bloodthirsty blue jay.  As I came crashing into the scene, the blue jay calmly secured the little bird in his beak and then flew up into the maple tree where he proceeded to enjoy his breakfast - safely out of reach of the outraged farmer.  I was shocked that one common yard bird would eat another.

This year someone told me that ducks can also be carnivorous, and that they have a real taste for mice.  As my hen house and barn were overrun with mice last spring, I tried my hand at incubating and raising a few ducklings - eight in total - but with no apparent luck in the mouse-swallowing department.  I am down to one duck now, and her days are filled with playing in the kiddie pool and hunting bugs with the chickens.  So far she has not developed into a mouser.

Then I acquired a kitten, one who is very good about staying around the hen house and barn.  Fiona (yes, she finally has a name!) will occasionally grab a passing mouse and play with it for hours on end - and one time I even observed her eating a mouse - so I am hopeful that she will be up for some fine dining as the mice start moving back inside for the winter.

Two days ago I came upon a scene that was somewhat reminiscent of the blue jay eating the sparrow.  Of the hundred or so guineas that I have tried to raise since moving to the farm, three survive - hearty, speckled souls who roam the yard during the day and have the survival smarts to sleep in the hen house at night.  Two of the birds, Lester and Earlene, function as a couple, and the third, Ol' Speck, is a loner.

I was busy filling the outdoor watering bowls on Sunday afternoon when I spied Ol' Speck behaving curiously.  A closer inspection revealed that he was in the process of trying to swallow a mouse - head first.  After a minute or so of fruitless struggle, the guinea released the small rodent and studied his prey as the mouse ran in circles trying to get his bearings.  Then Speck scooped him up again.  The hungry bird worked the squirming mouse down his throat for about ten minutes until the creature finally slipped, tail and all, down the bird's windpipe and into his gullet.  Mission accomplished.

With three guineas, a cat, and the potential of a deadly duck, this may be a tough winter for the mice at Rock's Roost!  Let us prey!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "The Day that Summer Died"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

I was on my twelfth mow of the season this past Friday when my trusty old riding mower hit one rock too many and suffered an injury that will require a trip to mower repair shop.  The good news is that the growth of the grass is slowing.  As one who has spent the spring and summer trying to keep up with the rampaging grass, I know that is slowing.  Summer is ending.

The leaves, of course, are beginning to drift down from the treetops.  Some of the fallen are still green, and others are brown.  And each morning when I step out the back door just before daylight to release and feed the chickens, I notice that the air has a bit more of a chill.  Autumn approaches.

To mark this subtle change of the seasons, I have selected a poem by the late British poet, Vernon Scannell, with the appropriate title, "The Day that Summer Died."  Scannell celebrates the end of the summer season as many of us would the passing of a friend - with a funeral service.



The Day that Summer Died
by Vernon Scannell 

From all around the mourners came
  The day that Summer died,
From hill and valley, field and wood
  And lane and mountainside.


They did not come in funeral black
  But every mourner chose
Gorgeous colours or soft shades
  Of russet, yellow, rose.


Horse chestnut, oak and sycamore
  Wore robes of gold and red;
The rowan sported scarlet beads;
  No bitter tears were shed.


Although at dusk the mourners heard,
  As a small wind softly sighed,
  A touch of sadness in the air
  The day that Summer died.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Yes, Trump's Goobers are Deplorable

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Hillary Clinton, whose presidential campaign has been vetted and road-tested to the point that is one-hundred percent predictable and desperately dishwater dull, seems to have wandered off-script and committed what many in the GOP hope will be perceived as a gaffe of biblical proportions.  In commenting to a friendly crowd last week, the Democratic presidential nominee noted, almost in passing, that half of Donald Trump's supporters fit into a "basket of deplorables."

Only half, Hill?  Surely if all of America's racist, xenophobic, homophobic, women-hating, anti-immigrant, Muslim-bashing, gun-licking, mouth-breathing morons stood shoulder-to-shoulder waving their Confederate flags, they would fill way more than half of The Donald's voter basket.  Those are his people.

Yes, in a polite and civilized society, those folks obviously are deplorable, but, like cockroaches everywhere, they run and hide when the lights come on - leaving the Republican Party, which is home to most of the vermin, to sputter and spew outrage at the audacity of Hillary for speaking the truth.

And then Hillary, after having made one of the bolder statements of her campaign, kicks it into reverse and says she "regrets" having said what she said.

You called them "deplorables," Hillary, and you were right.  Stand tall and own your comment.  They are the scum of the earth, they worship Donald Trump, and they are very, very deplorable - even on their best days and in their Sunday finest.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mr. and Mrs. Pepe Le Pew

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Summer

Rock's Roost is home to some amazing creatures.  The most productive members of the farm team are the Rhode Island Red hens - and two roosters - who were brought to the farm as chicks. The girls are currently laying six to eight eggs a day and working the entire yard in their never-ending search for bugs and other gastronomical delights.   There is also another flock of younger chickens that were incubated to life at the farm, and they will be of age to begin laying eggs in December.

Other farm domestic fowl include one young black duck who swims in a kiddie pool as well as all of the water bowls, three noisy guineas, and nine peacocks.  Currently the only domestic creature in residence who was born at the farm in natural circumstances is Pee Wee, a young peacock who, although roughly half grown, still sleeps under his mother's wing at night.

The young cat, still without a name, is doing very well.   She catches and plays with mice, and I have even observed her eating one.  The cat frequents the barn where the peacocks reside, and she will often volunteers to spend the night in the chicken coop.  She is developing into a fine farm cat.

There are also some non-domestic animals that call Rock's Roost home.  I set up a salt lick out by the pond that attracts deer on a daily basis, and ground hogs even stop by for the odd lick or two.  Last year there was a young armadillo who would take leisurely strolls about the place punching holes in the ground with his snout. but he has been strangely absent this summer.  One puffy old toad lives underneath one of the poultry watering bowls where he has created a maze of burrows and tunnels.

The barn is old and somewhat dilapidated, with enough holes in its sides to provide easy access to any creature seeking shelter.  Last year and early this year it was home to some ground hogs, but they have now vacated the structure due to the arrival of some more odious guests.  Last spring I discovered that a skunk had moved in.  His normal routine was to sleep there and then head out for his day job at about daylight.  Sometime in the evenings I would see him in the peacock aviary which is attached to the barn.  The peacocks did not seem to mind, so I adopted the position of "live and let live."

Besides, how do you get rid of a skunk?

Two nights ago, however, the unsettling situation got worse when I was walking around the farm just after dark and noticed that there were two skunks in the aviary.  Again, they were gone by daylight - but it seems evident that they are starting the process of turning the barn and its environs into their winter sanctuary.  One must assume that by next spring Mr. and Mrs. Le Pew will be comfortably at home in the rickety old barn and will more than likely be the proud parents of a fine litter of little skunks.

Farming, it would seem, is not for sissies!

Friday, September 9, 2016

What a Country!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

While both of the national political parties seem to be saddled with presidential candidates who see the presidency as a vehicle for increasing their net worth, money and raw power do not appear to be the motivators of the three main third-party candidates.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, Dr. Jill Stein, and intelligence analyst Evan McMullin may not be as polished and on-message as Hillary Clinton, nor as loud and theatrical as Donald Trump, but the third-party candidates do seem to be better connected to the people they are vying to lead.  These "little guys" are working to bring down the tightly controlled and overtly rigged two-party system that has had a virtual strangle-hold on the American political process for the past century-and-a-half - the system that has narrowed our choices to the likes of Hillary and Donald.  And as they rush about the country in their small planes and private automobiles, these lesser-known candidates for the presidency are infusing the campaign with something that has been lacking - honest discussion at the neighborhood level about a whole host of issues.  They are also giving the campaign some much needed sparkle and pazazz.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate has a primary focus on the decriminalization of marijuana - along with a host of other concerns regarding what Libertarians see as government incursions into our basic rights.  Johnson made news this week when he was asked about the situation in Aleppo (Syria) - to which Johnson asked a totally honest question in return - "What is Aleppo?" While the national media might have looked on that exchange as some sort of disqualifier, lots of hard working Americans who don't have time to wallow in the never-ending news cycles, popped a top and asked, "Yeah, what is Aleppo?"

Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party ripped a page out of a 1960's protest manual earlier in the week when she spray-painted "I approve this message" on the blade of a bulldozer that was being used on the Dakota Access pipeline.  Construction of the pipeline is being opposed by members of North Dakota Indian tribes and a bevy of green activists.    For her efforts in trying to stop the pipeline, Dr. Stein has reportedly earned an arrest warrant with her name on it.  In addition to wanting to preserve our natural resources for future generations, Stein supports free cradle-to-grave health insurance and a plan that would make college free and would pay off student debts that have already been incurred by our struggling young people.

Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative who is unhappy with the current administration as well as with the candidates  of the two major parties, has made it onto the ballot in nine states so far.  He sees Trump as a flawed candidate who can't win, and is running as a right-of-center alternative to the New York businessman.  McMullin was in the news this week when it was revealed that he may have inadvertently picked a running mate without intending to.  He placed the name "Nathan Johnson" on the ballot as a "placeholder," only to learn later that in eight of his nine states the selection cannot be changed.  Nathan Johnson is reportedly a friend of McMullin's.  McMullin, a Morman, is expected to do well in Utah where his name on the ballot could be a significant factor in the results.

For those who prefer to look beyond the sad offerings of the national political parties this year, more choices are out there:  a pothead, a vandal, and a candidate with a mystery running mate.  America, what a country!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dear Walmart Shopper

by Pa Rock
Grounds Keeper 


Dear Walmart Shopper,

I just wanted you to know that I managed to climb into the bramble patch are retrieve the plastic Walmart bag that you pitched out of your claptrap car's window as you were speeding down our country lane yesterday.  Yes, I did get a few cuts and scrapes as I fought my way through the briers, but please don't worry because I am fine.  I treated my injuries with an anti-biotic ointment which I purchased in the medical aisle of one of our independent grocery stores.

Having a variety of local businesses is important to me.  I support these noble independent merchants by staying out of Walmart.

I have to pay a little more to shop in locally owned businesses, but its worth those extra pennies not to have to go wandering aimlessly through Walmart filling my cart with Chinese crap that I neither need nor even actually want.  And the best part of not going to Walmart is knowing that I won't get stuck in a line standing behind you and wondering why you don't spend your money on soap and deodorant instead of cheese puffs, cigarettes, and beer.

Just because I don't shop at Walmart, however, doesn't mean I don't support the coven of billionaires who own it.  I pay taxes which helps to support all of the non-negotiable infrastructure demands that the Walton's make on a community before they will even consider planting one of their stores in the local setting.  My taxes also help to insure that adequate welfare programs will be in place to subsidize the below-the-poverty-line crap wages that the company pays its serfs.  

And, just so you know, if our local Walmart puts up a food donation box in the employee's lounge so that their workers can enjoy a Christmas meal - like was reported in one of their stores a couple of years ago - I will support that as well.  In this day and age no one should have to suffer the pangs of hunger - especially people who have proven that they are willing to do anything to make a living - such as cleaning septic tanks or working for Walmart.

I also showed my support for local Walmart employees by participating in a protest in front of the local store after an employee who was a bit over-zealous in price-matching was fired shortly before he was eligible for a pension.

Fall is fast approaching and as soon as my large trees drop their leaves, a few Walmart plastic bags will invariably find their way into the uppermost branches where they will wave for months in the winter breeze like so many vulgar Walton family flags.   I will have to suffer those obscenities until the winds of spring tear them away - but I'll be damned if I salute.

So, Walmart Shopper, keep enjoying those cultural outings to the Super Center.   It's a great place to show off misspelled tattoos, spandex shorts, and exposed beer guts.     And throw your trash wherever you damned well please.  This is America, after all, and you have rights.  They're listed in the Bible.

And the next time you roar by my place, give a honk.  I'll probably be up in one of the trees.

All the best.

Pa Rock

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Story That Won

by Pa Rock
Determined Typist

Congratulations to Daniel LeBoeuf of Lakeland, Florida, for his winning entry in "The Mysterious Photograph" recurring contest in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  His story was entitled "Whitish Heat" and can be found on page 109 of the October 2016 issue - the one with a sailboat on the cover - available in the magazine section of fine grocery stores everywhere.

Also listed on that page are the names of the ten "honorable mentions."  In addition to myself from West Plains, MO, the other also-rans included aspiring writers from Bethesda, MD, Golden, CO, Westerville, OH, Benton, KY, Round Lake Beach, IL, Sugarland, TX, Worcester, MA, Exmouth, Western Australia, and Hamilton, Ontario.

My entry, "The Flying Catamite," can be found elsewhere in this blog. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Phyllis Schlafly, Rest in Ignominy

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It's a rule of polite society that if you have nothing good to say about a person, you should say nothing at all.  But with the passing of Phyllis Schlafly, that rule is hard to abide.


Schlafly, a constitutional lawyer and mother of six, passed away at her home in LaDue, Missouri, yesterday at the age of ninety-two.  The founder of the conservative group, Eagle Forum, Schlafly was known for her opposition to expanding the rights of women and gays, as well as her opposition to immigrants.  As a self-styled lightening rod for conservative issues, it was difficult, if not totally impossible, to find anything positive to say about her, yet with the impact that Phyllis Schlafly had on society in the latter half of the twentieth century, it is equally hard to ignore her.

Most recently Phyllis Schlafly had surfaced at an ardent supporter of Donald Trump.  In a statement after news broke of her death, Trump said that he had spoken to Schlafly recently and referred to her as a "champion for women."  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Phyllis Schlafly came to national prominence in the 1970's as the focal point in the struggle to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.  Her effort was ultimately successful.  Verbally incontinent television huckster Pat Robertson has called Schlafly the woman who "gunned down" the Equal Rights Amendment.   Part of Schlafly's opposition to the ERA was her belief that it would lead to more "homosexual rights" and even gay marriage.  Another fear of the times was that it would also result in unisex bathrooms - which led humorist Erma Bombeck to acknowledge that she had been cleaning unisex bathrooms for years!

Schlafly also minimized the need for an Equal Rights Amendment with her arguments that sexual harassment of virtuous women almost never occurred because once a woman said "no" that usually put an end to it - and her belief that rape could not occur within a marriage because when a woman married she accepted that sex would be a part of the arrangement.

In 1992 a gay publication revealed that Schlafly's oldest son, John, was gay.  He was living with his parents at the time he was outed.  Later that year when she was appearing on Meet the Press to discuss Republican politics and the upcoming convention, moderator Tim Russert surprised Schlafly with a series of questions about her son.  She referred to the interview as an "ambush" and remained bitter about it for years.

Schlafly also believed that it was possible to deport all of the illegal immigrants living in the United States and envisioned that happening through the use of railway boxcars - imagery straight out of Nazi Germany.

Phyllis Schlafly is dead and gone - and she will be missed by many, but not by me.  In looking for positives to note about her life, I could come up with only one:   the passing of Phyllis Schlafly means there will be one less Trump vote in Missouri this November.

Rest in ignominy, culture warrior, while the world moves on.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "Woman Work"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Today is Labor Day, a time set aside for honoring America's working men and women.    However, as any parent will quickly point out, some of the hardest and most demanding work comes without benefit of a pay check or even a regular day off.  Today's poetry selection, "Woman Work," by Maya Angelou, pays homage to moms trying to keep everything together as they raise their children.  Sadly, many mothers today live the life that Angelou so artfully depicts and also have to hold down regular jobs on the side - and much of the income from the paid jobs goes to daycare providers.

This is for Molly and Erin - who both have husbands who help with the kids.


Woman Work
by Maya Angelou




I've got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I've got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
'Til I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You're all that I can call my own.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Oregon Discoveries

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

I'm sitting at the airport in Portland reflecting on the past two days with my grandchildren.  Here are some of the things I learned while I was visiting:

Sebastian likes to be outdoors.  He seems to be particularly at ease riding his bicycle and navigating on roller skates.   Sebastian has a small garden,  and he has recently built a bird feeder.  He hasn't figured out what he wants for Christmas yet, but I have asked him to send me a letter with some suggestions.  I hope that he writes to me because I like getting mail!

Judah was more verbal this time than on any of my previous trips.   His interest in mechanical things is continuing to develop, and he likes to focus on items of interest until he figures out how they operate.  Judah is going to an awesome school - so much more advanced than the schools where I used to work.  Judah likes movies and electronic games.

Little Willow has a beautiful voice and likes to sing.  Yesterday  I discovered that she also knows how to whistle and enjoys doing that.  I told Willow that she gets that ability from me.  Neither of her brothers whistle - yet.  Willow also likes her dolls and stuffed animals - so I have plenty of Christmas ideas for her.

Pixie, their little dog, bonded with me this time much closer than on any of my other visits.  She is such a sweetie!  Now I am anxious to get home and see Rosie and Riley - my babies!

Oregon has been a treat.  I will definitely try to get back in the spring.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Trump and the Party of Lincoln

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

A recent survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump with a zero percent favorability rating among black voters.  That seems a bit on the high side to me.

The Donald has been reaching out to blacks for a while now, primarily through speeches to gatherings of white, knuckle-dragging morons where he challenges the absent blacks to get behind his candidacy because "What have you got to lose?"  Today Trump climbed out of his comfort zone and spoke to some actual black people at a predominantly black church in Detroit where he told congregants how proud he was to be on the ballot representing "the party of Lincoln."

Remarkably, there were no reports of lightening striking the church.

At one time the Republican Party was the organization which nominated and elected Abraham Lincoln to the presidency - but it was obviously not the same Republican Party that put Donald Trump at the top of this year's ticket.  The old Republican Party, the one of idealism and liberty and equality, began a long slide into the moral abyss shortly after Lincoln's big night out at the theatre, and now it has absolutely nothing left in common with the Great Emancipator - nor does it want to.

Today's Republican Party is home to people like Dick Cheney, Kris Kobach, Joe Arpaio, David Duke, and yes, Donald Trump.  Lincoln wouldn't share a urinal with any of those individuals - much less a political affiliation.

Today's Republican Party is not about making the lives of black people better by providing opportunities for affordable healthcare, quality education, decent jobs, and good housing.  Today's Republican Party is more focused on vote suppression, educational schemes to keep blacks, browns, and impoverished whites away from children of privilege, keeping the school-to-prison pipeline open and functioning, and living on a grand scale in gated communities.

Donald Trump is a Republican alright, you betcha he is.  Trump is, in fact, the very embodiment of what the Republican Party has morphed into over the century-and-a-half since the death of Lincoln - a big, stinking pile of greedheads and self-serving hucksters focused on making their own lives better while stridently denying social and economic advantages to others - particularly people of color.   They have theirs, and screw everybody else.

Today's Republicans are as much about Lincoln as Trump is about humility - and compassion - and paying his bills (or even his workers).     The Republican Party abandoned Lincoln a long time ago, and Donald Trump's pathetic push to claim the mantel of Lincoln is nothing more than wishful thinking floating on a cloud of hot air.