Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Three Trump Lies

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It's an old joke.  One person asks how do you know a man is lying, and the response is "His lips are moving."  Sadly, with regard to our new President-Elect, that old joke is becoming a truism.  Here are three Trump whoppers from just the last couple of days:

Lie Number 1:  One of my favorite Trump lies is that he is actively considering Mitt Romney for Secretary of State.  Romney, a well known Trump adversary, has been summoned to the Trump Tower in New York City at least twice for interviews with the Great Man.  One measure of the non-seriousness of this process is that Trump's whole team of demonic advisers is speaking out against the possibility of a Romney nomination to the post.  The crazies are out in full force whipping up the lesser crazies - the ones out in Montana constantly cleaning their rifles.  When the job is ultimately given to someone else, some gifted statesman like Rudy Giuliani, for instance, the lunatics will feel they still have control of their man, and the Grand Lunatic will have shellacked another coat of humiliation onto a man who once openly looked down on him.

Trump's discussions with Romney are all a show designed to make Trump look open-minded and magnanimous, and to paint Romney as a groveling sycophant and a loser.

Lie Number 2:  Today Trump announced in a series of tweets that he would be stepping away from his businesses and letting his children run them while he is stuck leading the country.  The notion that a man with an ego the size of Donald Trump's could give up the raw pleasures of building monuments to himself while cheating investors, contractors, vendors, and maids is just too absurd.  The rotund man with the bad comb-over will still be pulling the strings, regardless of whose names are painted on which doors.  Trying to keep his presidential duties free and clear of his obligations to his businesses will result in Humpty Trumpty's great fall.  The sweet irony is that it will be a Republican Congress that is ultimately tasked with removing him from office.

Lie Number 3:  The popular vote in the recent election has really become a point of contention as Hillary's numbers continue to increase over those of Trump.  The latest figures show her with a lead of 2.3 million votes - and that number is still rising.  Trump likes to speak of his "overwhelming" victory in the Electoral College (and that, too, is a lie), but the actual numbers, the votes cast by real voters, have to be a thorn in the braying ass's side.

So to de-legitimize Hillary's win in the popular vote, Donald Trump took a page from Adolf Hitler's playbook and hit her with a BIG LIE.  He said her margin of victory was actually just the illegal votes that were cast.  Trump is saying that at least 2.3 million illegal votes were cast!  So far the only one that has been reported was a Trump voter who was caught voting a second time.  But by God, Donald Trump says millions of illegal votes were cast - all for Hillary - and morons everywhere line up to buy into his crap.

If millions of illegal votes were cast, none of us have any way of knowing who ultimately received or benefited from those votes.  If Donald Trump has any proof that this election fraud occurred, he needs to produce it.  Show the evidence, Donald - not just some 3:00 a.m. tweet from a drunk.  If fraud of that magnitude has been committed, then the election needs to be held again.  It's the only fair way to handle it.

But fairness is not addressed in the Trump playbook.  He just wants the good old boys up in Montana and down in Alabama to know that Hillary really didn't get more votes that him.  She couldn't have - so it must have been those danged Mexicans!

It's time to give it a rest, Donald.  Maybe instead of moving your lips so much, you should focus on building your wall - or was that a lie, too?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Farmer's Dream

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Autumn

The farmer doesn't sleep well, or at least he doesn't sleep as he imagines other people do.  Instead of enjoying one or two long periods of comfortable sleep each night, the farmer usually gets his rest in smaller segments of an hour or less.  Each time he awakens he looks at the bedside clock and notes the time.  He then figures out how many minutes he has slept since his last glance at the clock.  It's a game the farmer enjoys playing, and a bit of a mathematical challenge in the dark depths of nighttime.

The farmer has been to college, so he is aware of the frustrating dream that most former college students have - the one where they suddenly realize that they are late for an exam - the most important exam they will ever have to take.  As the student rushes across campus, he runs into all sorts of obstacles to impede his progress - things get in the way, the lack of a blue book or a pen, a locked door.  And just as the student is about to make it into the classroom where the exam is to take place, he faces one final hurdle when he realizes that he is naked!

The farmer is old now, and it's been quite a while since he has had the "exam" dream.  But a couple of nights ago he had a similar dream that was updated to fit his present circumstances.    In that dream the farmer, who had already woken up several times that night, dreamt that he awoke again.  This time the farmer looked at his bedside clock and saw that it was 2:00 a.m.  He also noticed that a bit of light was beginning to come through the bedroom window and the farm roosters were already crowing.  2:00 a.m. or not, the farmer knew that he had to get outside and check on his poultry.

Normally the farmer secures the poultry in their coops each evening.  The older hens and roosters go into an enclosed building just before dark and the farmer follows along behind and closes the door - securing them from the ravages of predators for the evening.  The younger chickens and Hector, the lone duck,  march into an enclosed pen, and the farmer shuts them into their area as well.

This particular night as the farmer rushes from the house to see what all the racket is about, he discovers to his horror that all of the chickens are still out, and the doors to their enclosures have been shut.  Predators are rushing from bush to bush as they greedily try to capture the fat hens.  The farmer lunges about trying to open the doors to the coop and the pen, but they are stuck and won't budge.  He is in a panic, and so are the chickens!

This, the farmer realizes, feels like that time back in college when he was late for the important exam!

The farmer stops in his tracks, catches his breath, and slowly looks down at himself where he discovers that he is fully dressed.

It is then that the farmer realizes he is getting old!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "If"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Last week in this space I highlighted the song Yesterday, When I Was Young, a beautiful ballad made famous by country artist Roy Clark back in the 1960's.  I heard that oldie on a local radio station as I was driving home from spending time with the family of a friend who was lying comatose in the hospital -  a friend from my youth, many yesterdays ago when I was young.

One day during one of those hospital visits I went out to lunch with my friend's family and another couple who were visiting.  Wanting something quick and good, we stopped at Jimmy John's for sandwiches.  That particular chain of sandwich shops  has quirky inspirational slogans plastered about the place, many encouraging the eating of sandwiches.  Posted at our booth that day was the following poem by Rudyard Kipling, simply titled If.   My friend's wife and I each read it and commented on the poem's simple beauty.

My close friend since childhood, James Steven Carroll, passed away yesterday evening at the young age of sixty-five.  That tremendous loss will be addressed in a future Ramble posting, but for the time being, today's poetry selection is dedicated to him.  It is, on multiple levels, descriptive of the man that I knew so well and for so long.

Rest with Angels, Mayor Carroll.

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The "Hammering" of Justin Trudeau

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Huffington Post is an Internet news gathering site that primarily gets its news from other sources.  The site reprints stories developed and carried by the major news organizations as well as tidbits that it gets by scouring the Internet.  Sites like The Huffington Post gather and assemble news for their readers.

The Huffington Post has long been criticized for its use of sensationalized headlines, bold grabbers that draw readers in.   After news junkies get pulled into a story by its titillating headline, disappointment often follows.  The story was far less provocative than the headline implied it would be.

As an example of this type of aggressive baiting of potential readers, one of the headlines in yesterday's Huffington Post was this:  "Justin Trudeau Hammered for Praising Fidel Castro."  OMG!  Hammered, was he?  That's an awfully powerful verb, one that leads readers to believe that the young Canadian prime minister must have been nearly destroyed.  Who could have possibly wreaked than much havoc on poor Justin?  Why, at the very least, it must have been a significant portion of the Canadian electorate.

After being "hammered," could the young man even hope to survive - politically or perhaps even physically?

A careful read of this crucial news story was obviously in order.

So I bought into the headline and read the story - and really wasn't surprised to learn that Trudeau had not been "hammered" by anybody.  He was just "tweeted" by a couple of twits.  Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whose families lived in Cuba in the days prior to the Revolution, were indignant that any politician anywhere would have decent things to say about Fidel Castro.  The pious Cruz even went so far as to label Justin Trudeau  a "socialist."    Bad, Trudeau, bad, bad, bad!

According to The Huffington Post, Justin Trudeau had praised Fidel Castro as "a legendary revolutionary and orator" while acknowledging that he was "a controversial figure."  Trudeau then went on to say that "both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for 'el Comandante.'"

Ted Cruz, whose very pious father, Rafael Cruz, actually fought for the Revolution in its early stages before he fled to the United States, had this to tweet:

"Disgraceful. Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot -- all evil, torturing murderers."

And Marco Rubio, whose family left Cuba for the United States prior to the Cuban Revolution - but who nevertheless liked to campaign on the notion that they had been forced out by the awful Fidel, spit out this wad of snot over Twitter:

"Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful & embarrassing."

No, Little Marco, you are the one who is shameful and embarrassing - and so is your Senate buddy Ted Cruz.  Before either of you two malicious morons get too absorbed in your own self-importance, you might want to look long and hard at the glittering pile of excrement who handed you your butts in the presidential primaries.  You both are losers, as I'm sure the President-Elect has pointed out to you on multiple occasions.

You are losers, and Justin Trudeau, the elected leader of Canada, is a winner.   When it comes to understanding and evaluating world leaders, I'll take my cue from him over the opinions of two political hacks who couldn't even take down the village idiot of Manhattan.

And the only person in all of this who was likely to have been "hammered" was the headline writer for The Huffington Post!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

El Jefe Esta Muerto

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Fidel Castro has died.  The man known to his Cuban countrymen and admirers worldwide as "El Jefe" passed away peacefully in Havana yesterday evening.  He was ninety-years-old.

Somewhat ironically, Castro's departure from this life came sixty years to the day after he and eighty-one other young revolutionaries set sail from Mexico to Cuba in what would eventually become the successful Cuban Revolution.

Fidel and his younger brother, Raul (the current President of Cuba), left Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico on November 25, 1956.  Also present in their invasion party was Argentinian Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevara who served at the small army's physician.

The vessel that took the revolutionaries to Cuba was a small pleasure yacht called The Granma, a craft designed to house twelve travelers comfortably.  In addition to the eighty-two brave and determined freedom fighters, the boat also carried a great deal of weapons and ammunition, subsistence supplies, and two thousand gallons of extra fuel that had to be stored on deck.    

The Granta, not in the best of shape to begin with, struggled across the Caribbean and did not arrive on the southeastern edge of Cuba until December 2nd - at which time it was spotted by a government helicopter and had to discharge the ragtag army into a swampy area.  Much of the weaponry could not be brought ashore through the mud and was lost to the revolution.  After a savage attack by the Cuban government, the few survivors of the assault rushed into the Sierra Maestra mountains where the resistance to the Baptista government slowly took shape over the ensuing months.

The surviving members of the group, which included both Castro brothers, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos, took their revolution from village to village and across the island.  On January 1st, 1959, the dictator, Flugencio Baptista, a man supported by both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the American Mob, was driven from power and fled the island.  Less than twenty-four hours later the Cuban citizenry had closed all of the American Mob-owned casinos and and piled the gambling equipment in the streets where it was burned.

The revolution had taken Cuba, and for the next fifty years that reality was embodied in basically one individual:  Fidel Castro.   Castro gave up the Presidency of Cuba in 2008 due to illness, and was replaced in that role by his brother, Raul.  Fidel's last prolonged public appearance was this past April at the Communist Party Congress in Havana.  

Fidel Castro was a very important part of the twentieth century.  He took a small island nation that was once ridiculed as the "whorehouse of the Caribbean," rescued it from its oppressors, and brought about a socialist society that offered things like education, jobs, decent housing, and health care to the masses who had once been forced to live in the shadows of poverty and degradation.

Love him or hate him, Fidel Castro was a man who made a difference.  He brought his insignificant island to the forefront of world events, and he showed millions that revolution and the disruption of the status quo was something that could still be achieved.  It was a sad irony that Cuba's primary adversary over the Castro years turned out to be the United States, a country that was itself founded in the fires of popular revolt.

El Jefe was a truly remarkable figure who significantly impacted history.   His passing leaves an immense void in the world around us.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Another Mother Bites the Dust

by Pa Rock
Child of Television

Florence Henderson died yesterday in Los Angeles, and with her passing we also lost Carol Brady, a great television mom.

Back in my day, the era just after World War II and Korea, most American moms were getting out of the house and going to work.   As wages began their steady decline and it became apparent that households which had been supported by just one working parent were fast becoming a thing of the past, more and more American women, many of them young mothers, rolled up their sleeves and joined the job market.

Television became the caretaker of the kids who were old enough to stay at home without constant parental supervision - and the result of that could serve as fodder for a whole series of blog postings.  But the immediate effect that constant immersion in television had on America's youth of that particular time was to show them "ideal" families.  The notion of correct and proper motherhood, in particular, was fashioned during that period.

True, there were some less than ideal mothers being presented on television back then.  Lucy Ricardo, the scatter-brained mother of one television youngster, was too busy getting into wild situations with her friend, Ethel Mertz, to ever focus much on the issues involved with raising Little Ricky.

But other television moms took their parental roles more seriously.

Margaret Anderson (Jane Wyatt) was my personal favorite.  The mother of two teens and one pre-teen on the television show, Father Knows Best, she was able to solve all of the problems besetting her children each week, usually before Father even got home from work.  Mrs. Anderson kept a very neat home, and she was always dressed as if she just stepped out of an upscale catalogue.  If she ever put her hair up in curlers, it was very late at night with the curtains drawn.

Another great mother of that era was June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley), the woman who raised American charmer, Beaver Cleaver.  June's boys were a bit more realistic than the Anderson children, but June herself was cut from the same pure linen that produced Margaret Anderson.  June, like Margaret, was an immaculate dresser, especially for a woman who never left the house, and she was known for always wearing her trademark strand of pearls - obviously a fashion essential for dusting and putting away groceries.

Margaret Anderson and June Cleaver showed kids of the 1950's and 1960's what they were missing by not having Mom at home.  By the end of the 1960's, however, as the world was undergoing social upheaval, changes were also beginning to occur in television families.

Enter Carol Brady.

Florence Henderson, as Carol Brady, ushered in the age of blended families on television.  She was the mother of three pre-teen and teen daughters who married a young architect - the father of three pre-teen and teen boys.  The possibilities for funny situations to develop within the  Brady Bunch household were almost limitless - and they had a wise-cracking maid to boot.  Not only did this television comedy introduce the ideas of blended families to a nation that was already awash in them, it also was the first television sitcom in which the mother and father slept in the same bed.  America was maturing.

But the Bradys, as cute as they were, still came up short on mirroring real America.  That task fell to Roseanne Barr who in the early 1990's presented us with the blue collar Conner family.  Dan and Roseanne's kids drank, had sex, lied to their parents, and even smoked the occasional joint as they traversed life in a chaotic household that was steeped in relatives and in-laws, good times and hard times, and a steady undercurrent of parental tolerance and even love.  There were no pearls hanging around Roseanne's neck, and her outfits could have come from Good Will.

And the very realistic mother portrayed by Roseanne Barr begat, a decade later, Jane Kaczmarek who played Lois Wilkerson, the crafty, conniving, and very hard-working mother of (eventually) five boys in the hit television series Malcolm in the Middle.  By the time Lois added her input to television parenting, moms were no longer above the fray of life, they were knee-deep into it.  Lois was a person who could have been right at home stomping grapes or wrapping chocolates with Lucy Ricardo.

Goodbye Florence Henderson.  Thanks for helping us grow up.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Morning 2016

by Pa Rock

This holiday finds me at the hospital in Joplin where I have spent the night at the bedside of an old and dear friend.  My friend's wife has been here every night at his bedside since he was admitted a week ago yesterday.  Last night she went home to refresh and sleep in her own bed while I stayed the vigil.

My friend is still in a coma and the prognosis still is not good.  It is all very sad, especially with the holiday season rolling in.  His family and friends will have to struggle to find any joys in the season.

My sister and I were supposed to be in New York City this Thanksgiving watching the family parade, but that trip was cancelled after a few of the travelers became worried about the possibility of terrorism in the Big Apple.   And while I resented the cancellation at first, it turned out to be fortunate because of my friend's medical catastrophe.

As I reflect on Thanksgivings of the past, a few stand out.  When I was about nine or ten-years-old, there were two years in a row when we had the first snowfalls of the season on Thanksgiving Day - heavy snowfalls.  Last year there was only one day in West Plains when the ground was white - and that was in March and the ground was just barely white.   Climate change is very, very real.

The other memorable Thanksgiving was in 2010 when two friends (Kelly and Murphy) and I went to Korea for the holiday.  We were staying at a U.S. military hotel in Seoul.  My friends had other plans on the evening of Thanksgiving - or they were holed up in the hotel bar - and I decided to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving dinner that was being offered in the hotel restaurant.  It was a wonderful meal of turkey and dressing with all the trimmings, and I either overate, which is likely, or suffered food poisoning, because I was deathly ill for the remainder of the night.

When a person is young, they think in terms of snowfalls and the wonders of nature - but as we age our thoughts turn to medical issues.

It's Thanksgiving - hug your family and have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump Begins Draining the Congressional Swamp

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Just before the close of the recent tragic campaign, billionaire blowhard Donald Trump began barking about "draining the swamp" as soon as he was elected as our Glorious Leader.  The "swamp" was reportedly the lagoon of lobbyists that infest Washington DC and all fifty state capitals.  But it didn't take long for President-Elect Trump to realize that not only was he not going to have much impact on the lobbyist cancer that eats steadily away at democracy, but that he was going to need those creatures to help his establish his new government.

Trump's plan had been to freeze current lobbyists out of the executive branch of government by not hiring any of them - either for the transition or the actual running of the government.  He also yammered on about barring those exiting his administration from becoming lobbyists for five years after leaving government.  It all sounded great - but the spirit of the swamp-draining quickly dissipated, and lobbyists are already being called on to aid with the transition.

Herr Trump, however, may have inadvertently begun draining Washington DC's other swamp - the U.S. Congress.  He is doing this by taking some of the most odious members out of their safe seats and placing them in prominent spots within the administration - where they can be removed on little more than the whim of a large man who lets his life be stampeded by Twitter.   Jeff Sessions, the racist curmudgeon from Alabama who has loomed large in the Senate for twenty years may soon give up his seat at that trough to become U.S. Attorney General - if he can find fifty of his colleagues who will support him in that move.  Sessions, with his colorful background and his complete misunderstanding of the Constitution will be a disaster - or an impeachment - waiting to happen.

Mike Pompeo, a congressman from Kansas who is about as culturally aware and as bright as Jeff Sessions, hopes to be confirmed as Director of the CIA.  True, both Sessions and Pompeo will be replaced in Congress through nominations made by redneck Republican governors who have little or no regard for the public good, but the replacements will go to Washington DC minus one very important asset that their predecessors had - seniority.   They will be dangling at the junior end of a system whose power is vested almost entirely in seniority.

This morning I heard that the Trump Administration is about to reach into the Congressional swamp and pull out another of its most noxious alligators.  Fat Boy is apparently thinking of bringing Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee to The Show.  To misquote the late comedian Henny Youngman, "Take her, please!"  Governor Haslam will have a very difficult time coming up with a replacement who is half as mean-spirited as Blackburn, and the new member will again have zero seniority.

There are many Republican members of the House of Representatives and GOP Senators who could be replaced with sandbags without having a negative impact on government.  Hopefully Trump will give them all a good a proper vetting and then elevate as many as he possibly can to exalted positions in his administration.  And if they don't work out, he can fire them like the snot-nosed apprentices that they are.

Make America great again, Donald.  Promote those Republicans right on out of Congress!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pence's Broadway Debut

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Last weekend Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who has been strolling the streets of New York of late trying to scrape Indiana off of his shoes, did the consummate tourist thing and went to Broadway to see the smash hit, Hamilton.  While Mr. Pence was probably just hoping for a bit of respite from the vulgar and oppressive personality of his new boss, what he got instead was a good dose of scorn and humiliation.

Pence was recognized as he entered the theatre, and a few in the audience applauded his arrival.   But before the Indiana homophobe could acknowledge the kind attentions of his supporters, others in the audience began booing, loudly booing the next Vice President of the United States!

And the show went on.

After the curtain calls were completed at the end of the play, the cast assembled on stage where the actor who played Aaron Burr (another Vice President of the United States) read a statement directed at Mike Pence - who was in the process of leaving the theatre.  The actor, Brandon Victor Dixon, read the following:

"You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening. Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you hear just a few more moments. There's nothing to boo, ladies and gentlemen. There's nothing to boo. We're all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.

And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post, because this message needs to be spread far and wide, OK?

Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do.

We sir, we, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations."

The Vice President-Elect reportedly heard most of the statement and said later that he had not been offended by it.  His boss, however, a man whom Hillary Clinton described as easy to bait with a tweet, took great offense and stirred up one of his standard Twitter shitstorms.  Donald Trump apparently put up multiple tweet responses to what he considered to be a personal affront by Broadway.  He later pulled down some of his invective, but the following survived:

"The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior."
(There is perhaps no one in America more qualified to understand the concept of "overrated" as Donald John Trump.)

Trump has an interesting perspective on the types of things which should beget apologies.  Some of us believe  that he owes a huuuggge apology to every woman in America for his "pussy-grabbing" banter with Billy Bush.  Others believe that the appointment of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, a man with a racist past, to be Attorney General merits an apology to the country.   Still others think that the appointment of people like Kris Kobach and Steve Bannon to positions of influence in the transition team and the administration merit apologies.

But asking for the cast of a Broadway Show to apologize for encouraging the administration to be inclusive of all Americans and their values, well that is just bullshit.

Perhaps Ivanka can bottle the fragrance and sell it with her "fine" jewelry.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "Yesterday, When I was Young"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

This week, as a close friend lies unresponsive in a hospital bed, I have been more than a bit contemplative over the meaning and swiftness of life.  Then last night as I was making the long trip home from the hospital, I heard the most beautiful song on the radio, a musical wisp from my youth that captured and and rooted among the feelings I was experiencing at that very moment.

The most famous version of "Yesterday, When I was Young," and the one that tugged at my memory last night, was recorded by country legend Roy Clark in 1969.  This beautiful ballad offers a timeless sentiment that eventually touches us all.

Relax, and let your mind listen - as time rushes by.

Yesterday, When I was Young
by Charles Aznavour, Georges Garvarentz, and Herbert Kretzme

Seems the love I've known has always been
The most destructive kind
Guess that's why now I feel so old
Before my time.

Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue.
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built to last on weak and shifting sand.
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day
And only now I see how the years ran away.

Yesterday when I was young
So many happy songs were waiting to be sung,
So many wild pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out,
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me and nothing else at all.

Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do.
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond.
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died.
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play.

There are so many songs in me that won't be sung,
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.
The time has come for me to pay for
Yesterday when I was young...


Sunday, November 20, 2016

To Joplin and Back Again

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

I just arrived home from my second round-trip to Joplin (180 miles each way) in three days.  Today's drive was uneventful with much less traffic than I encountered on Friday.

For those who know James, our friend is still deep in a coma with no visible signs of improvement.  He suffered a stroke on Wednesday morning and has been in the ICU on a ventilator since that time.   His family is constantly at his bedside, and an amazing assortment of friends have shown up to offer comfort and support.

I was telling Patti (James's wife) about my farm animals today, and mentioned Hector the Duck.  When I told her that he was a Cayuga, a nurse who happened to be in the room said, "I used to have a Cayuga.  They're beautiful!"  Yes, they are.  I will pass her compliment on to Hector when I see him in the morning. 

The leaves still remaining in the trees between West Plains and Joplin are all brown now - and almost all of the trashy "Trump / Pence" signs have been taken down.  The Ozarks appear to be settling in for the winter.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Incredible Shrinking Wall

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Great Wall of Donald John Trump has yet to see the arrival of the first cement truck, and already it is shrinking.    The original edifice to American Intolerance was reportedly going to stretch 2,000 miles along the southwestern border with Mexico and be thirty feet in height, an obstacle of such grand enormity that only Mexicans with access to a Lowe's ladder department could ever hope to surmount it.

But before a single vote was cast, America's Big Orange Blowhard rethought his campaign scheme and decided the wall would only be one thousand miles long.   To increase the grandeur of the shorter barrier, however, he vowed that it would range in height from thirty-five to forty feet.  It would be a great place for thousands and thousands of photo ops - and what is America all about if not photo ops?

Then some Republican wags fluffed the wall again and said that it would be made of cement planks and soar to over fifty feet in height.  God help the poor wetbacks who thought they could get over something that enormous.  Lowe's might want to shift their sales from ladders to shovels!

But the size of Great Wall of Donald John Trump is still open to debate.  This week I heard a very political Border Patrol agent being interviewed on National Public Radio.  The man was gushing over Trump, seeing him as someone who would finally get serious about protecting the southwest from raging hordes of housekeepers and landscapers crossing the Sonora Desert to take jobs that were beneath their white neighbors to the north.  When the interviewer questioned the Republican operative, and questioned him hard, the fellow finally admitted that a lot of what Trump said on the campaign trail did not reflect what he would be likely to do as President.  The Border Patrol agent was forced to admit that the "wall" would be considerably shorter than 2,000 miles, probably more in the range of 400 miles, and some of it would not be a wall at all, but instead would be a fence.

So the once Great Wall of Trump will be more on the order of a glorified cattle guard.  How disappointing that it's going to fall short of Red America's great expectations.   But in all honesty, it would be unreasonable to expect more from a man with such petite hands.

Even with the new reality of an abbreviated wall, I still would expect to see a monstrous observation tower somewhere along its length, a place where our Great Leader could stand in all his glory looking south and waving an angry fist at his former hotel housekeepers whose continuing lives of poverty he helped to insure.  If those women wanted to be successful in his America, they should have been born pretty.   The man with the big, orange comb-over understands the value of pretty.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Speed of Life

by Pa Rock

I drove to Joplin today to stand at the hospital bedside of a close friend of over fifty years, and to provide what comfort I could to his stunned and grieving family.   My friend suffered a stroke and is currently on a ventilator.  The prognosis is not good.

The long drive to Joplin and back, a total of about seven hours, gave me plenty of time to ponder the frailty and uncertainty of life.  One day we were young men setting out to conquer the world, and mere moments later we found ourselves clad in old, gray bodies fading into the twilight.

It all goes by so damned fast.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pelosi Swings her Big Hammer

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is moving swiftly to curb a revolt that appears to be fomenting within the House Democratic Caucus.  The objective of the revolutionaries, it would seem, is to oust Pelosi, and perhaps the rest of her Metamucil-fueled leadership team as well, from their fancy offices and positions of power.  Younger Democrats in Congress are noting, with no small amount of frustration, that the reluctance of Pelosi and her lieutenants to step aside is keeping other deserving individuals from ever having the opportunity to gain leadership experience.

Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio is a Young Turk within the Democratic Party who feels that the Midwest (what he calls "flyover country") is lacking representation within the Democratic leadership.  Although Ryan hasn't announced yet that he will challenge Pelosi for her title and sweet corner office, he is openly considering it.  Others in the Democratic Caucus are urging Congressman Joe Crowley of Queens in New York City to challenge Pelosi.  Crowley is the current Vice-Chair of the Democratic Caucus.

The point is being made that it's time to retire the old leadership and bring in some new talent - but Nancy Pelosi ain't having it.

Yes, she did attempt to mollify the insurgents by letting them move the leadership elections from this week until November 30th so that they could "discuss" the current state of affairs and pitch a few strategies for going forward.  But going forward will include Nancy in the wheelhouse steering the ship, of that there is to be no doubt.

Yesterday Pelosi sent every Democratic Member of the House a cheery letter which said in part:

"It is with both humility and confidence that I write to request your support for House Democratic Leader.  As of this writing, I am pleased to report the support of more than two-thirds of the Caucus."

Or, in plain English, "Vote against me at your own peril."

And with that bit of contrived sweetness, Nancy Pelosi brought her big hammer down on any dreams of democracy that might be welling up within the rank and file of the Democratic Party.   She plans to stay at the helm until she is too frail to even lift the hammer.

Please pass the Metamucil.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kander For DNC Chair

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Now that the general election of 2016 is history, one of the tasks that awaits both parties is an internal reorganization.  Reince Priebus, the current Republican Chair, is moving to the White House where he will become Chief of Staff to the incoming President.  The Democrats' interim party Chair, Donna Brazile, will hopefully be ousted from her position and set out along the side of the road someplace where she can do no further political harm.

New leadership for the Democrats will be critical as the party comes off of an election year in which it was deeply divided and ultimately witnessed the loss of its crown jewel - the Presidency.  The presidential candidate who suffered the most grievous personal harm at the hands of his own party machinery, Senator Bernie Sanders, is endorsing Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota for the post.  Ellison, one of only two Muslims in Congress, would be a bold and perhaps provocative choice to lead the party.  He is already garnering support among party leadership.

Another prominent entry into the DNC Chair race is the party's former Chair, Howard Dean.  Dean, a medical doctor and former governor of Vermont, helped to organize and revitalize the party after John Kerry's loss to George W. Bush in 2004, and his "50-state" strategy is often cited as one of key components of Obama's victory in 2008.

Howard Dean argues that the party needs to be under the leadership of someone who can devote full time to the job - not someone who would be running it as an extra duty, as was the case with the last party chair, Debbie Abomination Wasserman Schultz, who was also a full-time member of Congress.  Dean, who is currently unemployed, would meet that criteria of being available for the position on a full-time basis.

And Keith Ellison, in the mold of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, would not.

I like the good doctor from Vermont, and even had the privilege of sharing a brief conversation with him once - and I firmly believe his point is valid.  Leadership of the Democratic Party is too important to be addressed on a part-time or phone-in basis.  But Howard Dean, who did a remarkable job with the party before, will be sixty-eight-years-old tomorrow and is nearing his "use by" date.   He could best serve his party by helping a young and dynamic new leader learn the ropes.

Others being mentioned or expressing an interest in the job include former governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, South Carolina Party Chair Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Party Chair Ray Buckley, and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.

And for anyone who's interested, Pa Rock has a favorite in this race.  Thirty-five-year-old Jason Kander, a political dynamo who came within three points of defeating our basset-faced junior senator, Ol' Roy Blunt, would be exceptional in the position.  Kander is energetic, personable, and politically astute - and he will be available full-time when his term as Missouri's Secretary of State expires in early January.

The Democratic Party could not do better than allowing itself to be led by Jason Kander.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

After the Flood

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Usually after a flood, a good housecleaning is in order.  One might assume that after a flood of Biblical proportions, such as the one that swept over the Democratic Party last week, cleaning house would be the first order of business.  But politicians, being politicians, seem to be much more focused on clinging to their bits of power than they are on creating substantive changes that might help protect the party (and the nation) from a future drubbing.

The Democratic Minority membership of the United States House of Representatives is a case in point.   Democrats are currently scheduled to meet on Thursday morning to select (or more likely, confirm) their leadership.  There is, however, some growing unrest in the party, and some have been putting forth the notion that the leadership elections should wait until after Thanksgiving so that members will have time to adequately review the situation and visit among themselves on the best ways for the party to go forward.  The Black Caucus and others argue that there is no need to rush.

Today Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has agreed to let the Democratic Caucus in the House vote on whether to postpone leadership elections or not.  (If one were predisposed to being cynical, one might reckon that Pelosi has the votes to keep the election on schedule, or she would not be promoting a plebicite on the issue.)

The current House Minority leadership appears to be the picture of diversity.  The group of four includes a woman (Pelosi as Minority Leader), a standard issue white guy (Minority Whip Steny Hoyer), a black (Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn), and an Hispanic (Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra).  Sadly, though, the group is not nearly as diverse as its yearbook photo would indicate.

None of the four, for instance, comes from a state that played a pivotal role in the Presidential election.  Pelosi and Becerra are from California, with Pelosi doubling down on the Left Coast effect by being from the San Francisco area.  Hoyer is from the Washington, DC, suburbs of Maryland, and Jim Clyburn, out of South Carolina, is the only member of leadership from the Old South.  The group has no representation from the Midwest, the Rust Belt, or the decisive Battleground states.

The other area in which the Democratic leadership does not resemble all of America is in age.  Three members of the incoming group are older than our next President - and he is old.  Pelosi and Clyburn are both seventy-six, and Hoyer is seventy-seven.  All should be retired and home raising peacocks - not trying to create and ramrod legislative priorities through Congress.   Becerra, the baby of the group, is fifty-eight.

Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House, is likely going to be challenged for her leadership position, regardless of when the election is actually held.  Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio has indicated an interest in running against her.   Ryan, at age forty-three, is younger than all five of Pelosi's children.  And while toppling the entrenched Minority Leader would be a long shot, just the act of mounting a challenge to her barnacle-like hold on power is healthy and reflects the spirit of democracy on which the Democratic Party is based.

We've suffered a flood, and the mud is up to our knees.  This would be an excellent time to start pitching and cleaning.   Change is often good - and often necessary.

Bring on those shovels and mops!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "Hallelujah"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Last week witnessed the death of Canadian songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, a man who while prolific at his craft, remains best known for one song, "Hallelujah," a massive hit that has been revised, re-interpreted, re-envisioned, and covered by countless artists.  Cohen, in fact, reportedly penned over eighty verses to the work when he first composed it back during the early 1980's.

This past weekend comedienne Kate McKinnon, sang the song, at the piano, for the opening segment of Saturday Night Live.  Her performance, in the character of Hillary Clinton after she had just lost the election, left many in the show's live audience with tears in their eyes.

I have two versions of "Halleujah" on my iPod rotating among thousands of other songs.  One version is by the song's composer, Leonard Cohen, and the other by Il Divo.  Whenever either version begins to play, I stop what I am doing to listen.  It is a powerful and enthralling piece of music, one that can be adapted to fit a range of emotions and circumstances.

Here then is "Hallelujah."

by Leonard Cohen

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Sunday, November 13, 2016

America Takes to the Streets

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Nightly protests are erupting coast-to-coast, and our soon-to-be Blowhard in Chief can't decide how to react to the public outcry against his magnificence.  At first the Big Orange Tweety Bird took to Twitter with this snitty fit of pique:

"Just had a very open and successful presidential election.  Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting.  Very unfair!"
In less than one-hundred-and-forty characters he threw red meat in several directions.   Those weren't real people out there raising hell, they were "professionals," people who had been shipped in from remote, godless places to tear down democracy and interfere with his personal business plan.  There would, in fact, be no protests at all if not for incitement by the media - and it was all very, very, very unfair to god's chosen.  Poor me, poor me, poor me.  The only thing Big Orange failed to include in his snarl-laden tweet was some mention of how physically ugly the protesters were.   That one-hundred-and-forty character limit is so very, very, very unfair, something that must be addressed during the first one hundred days of the Second Coming.

The following day Big Orange let out another stream of gas in the form of a tweet.  Instead of being one of his standard, shoot-from-the-hip, angry outbursts, this tweet was a bit more nuanced - and civil:

"Love the fact that small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country.  We will all come together and be proud."
Beautiful words, lovely thoughts, forgiveness and reconciliation abound, flowering national pride - while dreams of Guantanamo danced in his head.

Tweet to your heart's content, Big Orange.  Pound that keyboard until your fingers bleed and cream soda runs out your ears.  You're an American and you have every right to express yourself.  It's guaranteed in the Constitution - the First Amendment.  And, of course, that same Amendment gives people the right to take to the streets in peaceful protest - like thousands are doing in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland(ia), and Iowa City, Iowa.  You have your say, and the rest of us will have ours.

One million women are reportedly planning on having their say at your inauguration.

It's all there in the Constitution, a document that you are about to swear to "preserve, protect, and defend."  Always remember that old faded parchment protects us all - regardless of our bank accounts, skin color, sexual preferences, religion, handicaps, political leanings, or even our physical appearances.   The President is a chief enforcer of the Constitution, and, as such, he, too, has a moral and an actual mandate to look after the well-being of all Americans - not just the ones who inhabit his particular world view.

Change is coming, and it's not all going to be scripted by Fox News and the National Republican Party.

Rock on, America.  Rock on!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Jigsaw Roulette

by Pa Rock
Tedious Typist

Last summer I reported in this space that I had been selected as one of ten runners-up in a writing contest that is featured regularly in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  The contest, called "The Mysterious Photograph," centers on an oddball photograph that aspiring contestants must write a short story about.  The story has to be 250 words or less, and it must feature a crime.  One winner gets a $25 cash prize, and ten runners-up get their name and hometown listed in an upcoming issue of the magazine.  My information appeared in the October 2016 issue, and it was all spelled correctly!  Other runners-up came from across the United States and from places as far-flung as England and Australia.

My story last summer was titled "The Flying Catamite," and it focused on an adolescent boy who was being sexually abused by two adult males.  It was not a cheery tale, but as the brief story concluded, the kid was set to get his revenge.  It was published in the space on July 29th.

This week I learned that another of my efforts has been selected as a runner-up in one more of Alfred Hitchcock's "Mysterious Photograph" contests.  This one revolved around a photograph of two hands reaching toward one another, each holding a large piece of jigsaw puzzle.  The two pieces obviously fit together.  My story was entitled "Jigsaw Roulette."  My name and hometown will appear in the January-February (2017) issue of the magazine.  Look for it in  a grocery store near you!

Here then is a tale that lost, but still managed to score "runner-up" recognition.  It is lighter and more comic in nature than my last entry.  I hope you enjoy it.

(And if I ever break through the pulp ceiling and win that $25, I'm taking the cash and heading to Bermuda!)

Jigsaw Roulette
by Rocky Macy

Something bad was going down.  Why else would Johnny Spots call his enforcers to the Rathole Bar - and on a Sunday no less, a time when decent people should be at the track?

Johnny brought the group together by rattling the can.  Ah, jeez, it was going to be jigsaw roulette!  The last time we played I had to fit Tommy Torrijos up with cement shoes and take him out to the middle of the lake for a swimming lesson.  The time before that I pushed a lawyer in front of an on-coming commuter train, but I sort of enjoyed that one - way more than she did!

Johnny showed his puzzle piece.  "Whoever draws the one that fits with mine is gonna do Fenster."

Moe erupted, but he erupted for everyone.  "Fenster?  Chrissakes, Johnny, he's family!"

"Yeah,"  Leo pleaded.  "We can't kill Fenster.  He's part of the gang!"

But Johnny wasn't having it.  "Fenster led the cops into that warehouse job whether he intended to or not.  He cost us hard cash and nearly got Buzzboy killed.  Whoever wins this contract does Fenster, or I'll do the both of them.  Capiche?"

We took turns reaching into the can.  Moe first, then me and Leo, with Otto drawing last.  I waited nervously while my pals revealed their fates to Johnny.

No matches.  Damn!  As relief flooded their faces, they all turned to me.

Now what?  This ain't what I signed up for.  There's no way I can kill a dog!

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Veteran Remembered

by Pa Rock

Before leaving Okinawa for good in July of 2012, I made a final trip to Peace Park at the southern end of the island and carefully photographed each panel in the monument that has been dedicated to the American and British servicemen who died in the Battle of Okinawa in April - June of 1945.  The long string of panels contain over 11,000 names of the casualties from that period.  There are also panels dedicated to the Japanese servicemen who died in the battle located on the same site.

I am currently in the very slow process of transcribing all of those names into a word document which I plan to eventually post on the Internet as a genealogy and historical research aid.   Last year on Veteran's Day I chose a young Marine by the name of Romeo Dye to highlight.  Private Dye, a native of rural West Virginia, was just eighteen-years-old when he was killed during the invasion of the Japanese island.

In August of this year I received a surprise email from a retired naval veteran who finds and maintains the graves of veterans in his area.  The veteran informed me that the grave of Romeo Dye was one of those which he was maintaining.  We exchanged correspondence, and he sent me a newspaper photo of Romeo along with a picture of his grave.  The young man was strikingly handsome.  He is buried next to his mother, Olive Godby, in a rural West Virginia cemetery.

Private Romeo Napoleon Dye:  born November 4, 1926 in West Virginia, died June 21, 1945 on Okinawa.

Private Dye gave his all for the defense of his country - and he gave it at a very young age.  May his sacrifice as well as the sacrifices of countless millions of others who have fought and died for the ideals of freedom and democracy never be forgotten.

And may Congress finally wake up to the staggering needs of our young veterans - men and women who, like Romeo Dye, went to war with an understanding that they would be respected, and if need be, taken care of, by the country that they fought to preserve and protect.

No one should have to sleep out on the streets of America, especially veterans!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Let the Recriminations Begin . . . and End

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There is a long history in American politics that the losing party, particularly after a horrifying loss like America suffered this week, spends some time blaming, finger-pointing, and generally falling in upon itself.  It's part of the grieving process and it must be expressed and worked through by those who own the defeat, a group that includes most of us who are now quietly forming the loyal opposition.

I plan to spend one stint at the computer commiserating on my party's miserable performance at the polls last Tuesday.  While much of that travesty is rooted in things beyond the boundary of the modern Democratic Party - America's continuing racist fervor, for instance - a fair share of the blame emanates from within.  We are, after all, a party of jackasses.

Today's column will focus on a couple of areas where I believe my party, the Democratic Party, screwed up.  I will air those grievances, succinctly and with malice aforethought, and after that I will shut up and go back to mowing and gathering eggs.

The following things pissed me off, and, I believe, helped to cost Democrats the election and put a lunatic in the White House:

Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Vice-Chair Donna Brazile failed to remain neutral during the nominating process.  Wasserman-Schultz was active in limiting the number of primary debates and arranging those debates for times when fewer people were likely to be watching - strategies thought to have been for the benefit of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.  Donna Brazile, who became interim party chair after Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign the chairmanship over her attempts to rig the nomination, was later discovered to have given the Clinton camp access to debate questions before at least one of the debates with Sanders.   When her unethical activities became public knowledge, CNN fired Brazile.

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is going back to Congress where she will have to work and survive in the mess that she was instrumental in creating.  Donna Brazile will never be regarded as a competent journalist again.

Hillary Clinton, who took the nomination through questionable tactics, owes a significant portion of her loss to political incompetence.  Clinton, instead of focusing on votes, always had her eye on fundraising totals.  She seemed to equate dollars with votes, and that just did not pan out.  Also, her laser focus on the swing-states, most of which she ultimately lost, kept Candidate Clinton from touching down in the flyover states.  Lots of us felt ignored as Hillary rushed from North Carolina, to Florida, to Pennsylvania - and back again.  A few courtesy stops in red states might not have put her over the top in the Electoral College, but they would have certainly generated votes and added to her lead in the popular vote.

Missouri's senior senator, Claire McCaskill, also deserves a mention.  Claire, who is well known for sticking her nose into political races and issues in other states, spent much effort raising money via email-begging for candidates beyond Missouri's borders.  I only recall once, in fact, when I received a plea from Claire to help fund a Missouri candidate.  The amount of resources that she pulled from the "Show-Me" state, most ultimately spent in vain, could have gone a long way toward helping Chris Koster become our next governor and sending Jason Kander to join Claire in the U.S. Senate.

That's it.  Those are my recriminations.

I'm done now.

Live and learn.

It's time to pick up those ruck sacks, get back in line, and resume the march.  The road ahead is even longer and rougher now than it was just a few short days ago.  But keep putting one foot in front of the other and plodding along because ultimately good people must prevail.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What a Revoltin' Development This Is

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Great American Chester A. Riley would have described the events of yesterday thusly:  "What a revoltin' development this is!"

I watched some television last night, then sat at the computer for an hour or so absorbing the mess that sweeping out of the voting booths and across a once proud land.  When it became apparent, at least to me, that liberty was on the verge of being bound in chains and drowned, I shut the computer down and went to bed.  It was nighttime in America. 

Not only did Hillary Clinton sink into the ignominious mud of history, she drug many good people down with her.  Missouri had two exceptional candidates who were laid low by the weight of the national race:  Chris Koster who should have easily been elected governor, and Jason Kander who ran a brilliant campaign against Ol' Roy Blunt for Blunt's Senate seat.  But it wasn't only Missouri - good people running for office in all parts of the country were swept aside by a tide of pent-up racism and sexism and greed that was finally freed to express itself in a sea of Confederate flags and ball caps proclaiming a desire to "Make America Great Again."  (We'll see what that sea of discontent looks like after a few months under a new administration.)

There were a couple of bits of good news:  Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth was elected to the United States Senate in Illinois (Barack Obama's old seat) as she defeated incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk.   And the biggest news of all - Joe Arpaio was defeated in his bid for a seventh term as Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.  Congratulations to all of my good friends out in the Scorpion State.  No more Joe!  No more Joe!  No more Joe!

But, that smattering of good news aside, overall the election was a disaster.   One must hope that the America which survived Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush, will also be able to withstand the bombast, vanity, and complete lack of decency that is about to park itself the Oval Office.  The months and years ahead will be a challenge to good people everywhere.

This is America - it will get better - it always does.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Building a Legacy

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The American presidency is, like the nation it serves, constantly evolving.  As America changes, so too does the face and life story of its leadership.

During my lifetime, a period covering about one-fourth of the country's presidential lineage, I have witnessed the election of the first Catholic president (John F. Kennedy), the first presidential resignation (Richard Nixon), the ascension of a president who had never run on a national ticket (Gerald Ford), the first president in modern times from the Deep South (Jimmy Carter), the first divorced president (Ronald Reagan), and the first non-Caucasian president (Barack Obama).

During my sixty-eight years I have also lived through a presidential assassination, a presidential impeachment trial in the Senate, and a father and son both elected to our nation's highest office.

By the time the sun rises tomorrow I will have undoubtedly also witnessed the election of our country's first female President - Hillary Clinton - an evolutionary as well as revolutionary step in our political progress toward establishing a just and equitable future for all.  Hillary will have a big job ahead of her as she struggles to bring the nation back together, and we all need to devote our spirit and energies to that task - not for Hillary's legacy, but for our own.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pa Rock Holds his Nose and Votes for Hillary

by Pa Rock

I voted an absentee ballot last Tuesday at our local county courthouse, and the presidential selection on that ballot proved to be the single hardest vote that I have ever cast.

My first vote in a presidential election was way back in 1972 while I was living and working with the Army on Okinawa.  As a young officer in the Army, the pressure emanating from on high to vote to retain the Commander in Chief, a crook by the name of Richard Nixon, was immense - but I withstood it and cast my first presidential vote for Senator George McGovern, one of the most idealistic individuals to ever be nominated for President by a major political party.  McGovern, who had stumbled badly with the Eagleton affair (google it), went down in flames on election day, but his supporters had their revenge less than two years later when Nixon was forced to resign the presidency in complete and utter disgrace.

Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end . . .

Over the years I have never missed the opportunity to vote in any election - particularly those in which U.S. Presidents were selected.    Normally I vote for Democrats for President, but have, on a couple of occasions, opted to vote for independents instead.  This year I was sorely tempted to vote for an independent candidate again, but I caved at the last minute.

A big part of Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy has been to convince Democrats from the progressive wing of the party that while she might not be perfect in their eyes, she is far better suited to be President than Donald Trump.  It was the tired, old "lesser of two evils" argument - and I for one don't like being bullied into making a bad choice just to avoid making a worse one.

But this time the worse choice, Donald J. Trump, was just so god-awful that I felt compelled to hold my nose and vote for Hillary.  It was far from my proudest moment.

What a choice that was:  On the one hand an ignorant racist who brags about sexually abusing women, not paying taxes, and not paying his bills - and on the other hand a hardened career politician with a vindictive streak wider than the Mississippi at flood stage and who hauls around more baggage than a major airport handles in a month.

Hillary, you have my vote this time - it's already in the ballot box - but DO NOT assume that you will automatically get it again in four years.  The next time the Republican Party probably won't opt to help your candidacy by nominating a total lunatic.  The next time you will have to run on your own record - and not Obama's.  And the next time I will be even older and crankier than I am today!

If you want my vote again, you're damned well going to have to earn it.  This lesser-of-two-evils crap has run its course!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Niangua's Loss Will Be K Street's Gain

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Roy Blunt, Missouri’s junior United States Senator, a native of Niangua, Missouri, will have been a resident of Washington, D.C. for twenty years come next January.  But by the time Ol’ Roy got to our nation’s capital in 1997, he already had a long and crusty career as a county and state politician that stretched back a quarter of a century.   The erstwhile Blunt is a man who enjoys life at the public trough – and makes a nice living out of politics – thank you very much!

Roy Blunt hadn’t been in Washington very long when he divorced his wife of thirty-five years – the mother of his grown children – and soon married Abigail Perlman, twenty years his junior.  The new Mrs. Blunt is a lobbyist for Kraft Foods.   (Abigail Perlman Blunt was recently described by “The Hill” news magazine as being one of the thirty-five most effective lobbyists on Capital Hill.) 

Roy and Abigail own a modest condo in Springfield, Missouri, which they seldom use, but it does give them claim to having a home in the state that Roy is paid to represent in the Senate.  Their actual home is a seven-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath affair in a nice suburb of Washington, D.C. that is reportedly valued at $1.6 million.

In addition to the senator’s wife being a federal lobbyist, all three of the adult Blunt children also lobby at either the state or national level.  Having friends in high places pays a bunch of Blunt family bills.

Life has been good to Ol' Roy Blunt and if he wakes up next Wednesday to the news that he has lost his place at the public trough to whippersnapper Jason Kander back in Missouri, things will still be okay - because Pappy Blunt will slip quietly out of the Senate and into a cushy lobbying job on K Street.   He will still live in the same big house with the same pretty young wife - and he will keep on hob-knobbing and playing golf with the same people that he's been cultivating for two decades in Washington, D.C. 

Ol' Roy may win re-election to the Senate on Tuesday, or he may lose.  Nothing in life is certain.  But either way, win or lose, the chances that Roy and Abbie will ever move back to the Great Midwest are exceedingly slim.  The closest Ol' Roy is likely to get to coming home will be watching late night reruns of Hee-Haw on his television machine.

Roy Blunt's heart and his welcome mat are in Washington, D.C.  That is his home.

Niangua has lost its allure.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

"Nice Work" Opens at The Barn

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

My nearly famous screenwriter son, Tim Macy (The Brass Teapot, Tatterdemalion), and I were on hand last night in Mission, Kansas, for the opening of Nice Work If You Can Get It at  the Barn Theatre.   The musical, a song and tap extravaganza, is set to the music of George and Ira Gershwin and based on a book by Joe DiPietro that was inspired by material from Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse. 

The play sounds like the Gershwins and feels like Wodehouse as a sparkling array of flippant maids and butlers, cops and gangsters, playboys and flappers, and even one chandelier-swinging prohibitionist tap their way across the stage while belting out some of the songs that gave the decade of the twenties its infamous roar.

Nice Work If you Can Get It opened on Broadway in 2012 where it won an assortment of Tony and Drama Desk awards.  It's great material that the Barn Players pulled off flawlessly.

For an exceptional theatre experience in the Kansas City area - at an affordable price - I heartily recommend the productions at The Barn.    Tim and I saw The Producers there last year and were very impressed by that performance as well. 

Productions scheduled for the upcoming season include High Fidelity (March 3-19), She Loves Me (April 21-May 7), Rumors (June 2-15), The Crucible (July 14-30), Grey Gardens (September 15 - October 1), and Sister Act:  The Musical (November 3-19).  Upcoming productions for young theatre-goers include Big (January 13-22), and Disney's The Lion King (June 20-22 and July 18-20).

Nice Work If You Can Get It plays evenings at The Barn through November 20th.  Get out and enjoy this musical romp through the 1920's - it's fun, and it's a winner!

For more information on this talented theatre troupe, please check out their website at:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Missouri GOP Has Nothing Good to Say About Ol' Roy Blunt

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

My kids only send me actual mail a few times a year, but the Missouri Republican Party has gotten to where they write almost daily - and I appreciate it!  It warms my heart to know that the state Republicans are not only wasting their money by sending me flyers that support their inferior candidates, but they are subsidizing the United States Postal Service in the process.  Good work, fellas!

Over the past week or so I have received three pieces of campaign literature informing me of how awful the Democratic candidate for United States Senator here in Missouri, Jason Kander, is, and each making certain that I know Jason is joined at the hip with Satan, a.k.a. Hillary Clinton.  All of the single-page flyers are dark black and blue with absolutely creepy pictures of Kander and Clinton superimposed with one another.

One advertisement warns that the pair of arch evil-doers, Clinton and Kander, are conspiring to take away my health care choices - that from a party that is flatly and completely opposed to ordinary individuals having any health care options other that expensive and ineffective polices through big insurers, like those companies that do so much to fund the Republican Party and pay for their direct campaign mailers.  Republicans are prepared to fight to the death to end the socialist tyranny of Obamacare and its sordid mandatory provisions like coverage of pre-existing conditions and including young adults - up to the age of twenty-six - on their parent's policies. 

But don't worry, America - Republicans won't be coming after your socialist Medicare and socialist Social Security until after they ax your socialist Obamacare.  First things, first.

The second advertisement warns that Clinton and Kander have an energy "agenda" to kill Missouri coal jobs and spike Missouri utility bills.  Who knew Missouri even had coal jobs?  This is probably a flyer that was sent out in Kentucky and West Virginia and some GOP genius who was late for a cocktail party with a room full of lobbyists just changed the name of the state and ordered a big printing.  And nobody likes paying utility bills, so it works as a relatively reliable scare tactic.  Of course, the Republican Party spends far more time snuggling up to the big energy companies than their Democratic counterparts - a situation that actually does result in higher utility bills.

Republicans give utility companies the regulations and means to charge more to consumers, and utility companies shovel more money back to Republicans through their lobbyists.  It's a sweet symbiotic relationship.  But for those wanting to believe that Democrats are responsible for rising fuel and utility costs, please don't let facts dissuade you. 

And if your goal is to work in a Missouri coal mine, start digging.

The third flyer addresses the contentious issue of "amnesty," again declaring the Clinton and Kander have an amnesty "agenda," and with a dire warning that the pair of miscreants are planning to make Missouri a sanctuary state.  If it's one thing that the good Christians of rural Missouri won't tolerate its any form of Christian charity - don't feed 'em, don't clothe 'em, don't educate 'em, and sure as hell don't let 'em live in your neighborhood or your state. 

There are two mail delivery days remaining until the election, and I fully expect the well-funded Missouri Republican Party will write again.  They still haven't addressed some of America's more pressing needs, such as the advantages of segregated neighborhoods and the effectiveness of using public money to fund private schools.  And surely they will address the sin of gay marriage because that came about almost entirely because of the efforts of Clinton and Kander.  And even though Jason Kander can assemble a military assault rifle blindfolded, everyone knows that he and Hillary are coming to take your guns away.  There is even a rumor going around that they both tolerate Muslims and want to build a wall along the northern border of Texas!

The three ads that have been mailed out so far all warn the Jason Kander is too much like Hillary, and they imply that people should not vote for him for United States Senator.  What the ads do not mention, however, is any reason - any reason at all - to vote for Kander's opponent, incumbent Ol'Roy Blunt.  What's the deal, Missouri GOP?  Don't you have anything positive to say about your own candidate.

I know I don't.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Racism Rages on the Right

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

All Donald Trump supporters are not racist, but nearly every racist is a Donald Trump supporter.

Yesterday on a drive through southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, I traversed a land festooned with Confederate flags and Trump/Pence signs.  Again, not every Trump sign was paired with a Confederate flag, but every Confederate flag that I encountered had at lease one Trump sign standing proudly in its shadow.

Bigots, it would seem, know who butters their bread.

So why do racist pond scum gravitate to Trump?  Much of that connection has to be related to the history and actions of the candidate himself.  Trump and his New York City slumlord father had a history of screening renters by race and avoiding renting to blacks.  As Donald grew into his own man, those racist tendencies persisted.  Trump developed into one of the more adamant "birthers," and stirred white nationalist passions by speaking out against Mexicans and calling them "rapists" and drug runners.  He made loud complaints against a judge in his racketeering trial because he perceived the judge as being a "Mexican," though the jurist was actually born in Indiana.

Last week at a rally in North Carolina Trump taunted a black man as he was being escorted out of a Trump rally - ostensibly for being black.  Trump yelled at the man as he was being removed, "We have a protester!  By the way, were you paid $1,500 to be a thug?"  It turned out that the man was a longtime Trump supporter who had just turned up at the rally to see his hero in person.  But throwing a black man out of a Trump rally was awfully good theatre - and it gave the rabble their racism fix for the day.

The racism, of course, has spread well beyond the candidate.  This week The Crusader one of the main "newspapers" of the Ku Klux Klan, devoted its entire front page to an article supporting Donald Trump under the heading "Make America Great Again."  Former Klan leader David Duke has endorsed Trump.

A black church, the Hopewell Missionary Baptist in Greenville, Mississippi, was gutted by an arson fire earlier this week.  Spray-painted on the church's exterior wall were the words, "Vote Trump."

And then there was the double cop killing in Iowa which also occurred this week.  The alleged killer, a white man by the name of Scott Michael Greene, had reportedly become angry with  local police after they removed him from a high school football game for causing a disturbance.  Greene had started waving a large Confederate flag at the game in response to some black players kneeling during the national anthem.  Some black fans in the stands had taken his flag away from him before police arrived and led Greene away.  Greene, it turns out, had a Trump/Pence sign in his front yard - not a small yard sign, but one of the near-billboard variety.

It's small wonder that the Trump campaign openly talks about suppressing the black vote.  They know where their votes are - and where they aren't - and they also understand the symbolism (like walls and flags) and code words (like "rapist" and "thug") that keep their base focused and fired up.   Trump and his band of haters have fanned the flames of racism into a raging inferno, but it's a fire that will soon burn itself out.

The America that rises from the ashes of hatred will be great.