Friday, September 23, 2016


I have mixed feelings about the term redneck. And yeah I know it mainly targets southerners and what Foxworthy did with it. In the beginning all it really meant is that the person worked outside and ended up with a permanent tan on the back of their necks.
I guess you could call my dad a redneck.. He was a logger. Spent nearly twenty five years working outside in all weather. We live in Oregon and that may explain a lot.
Dad was a farm kid before he was a logger. He and grandpa ran a milk route for several years. Dad was a high school graduate in the early thirties, an era when many people didn't go to high school.
When he and mom started their family he made sure we had books at home, made sure we knew where the library was and we had magazines like National Geographic in the house. He made sure WE made it to school.
He was proud of his right to vote and made sure to pass it on to us. I didn't get my first legal drink on my twenty first birthday. I got hauled down to the county office that handled voter registrations. Been voting ever since.
He wasn't perfect by any means. And he was just ornery enough to not let anyone else tell him who he should discriminate against because of color or religion. He'd figure it out for himself, thank you very much.
Grandpa was invited to join the triple K''s back when it was almost respectable. His reply to that invitation in unknown, but he didn't join. if what I've heard about grandpa is right it was probably colorful and inventive. LOL.
What I'm trying to say is this. Using redneck as a blanket term for ignorance and racism may be true now. But perhaps it shouldn't be. Highly recommend Wendell Berry's essays.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


From the movie Judgement at Nuremberg. The film is based on one of the later trials.That of the German judges who supported or facilitated the rise and rule of the Nazi party. In the film, Ernst Janning (brilliantly portrayed by Burt Lancaster) is respected jurist with a long career behind him. Throughout most of the trial Janning had refused to enter a plea or speak. Stung by the efforts of his defense attorney this is his reply. It's actually on Youtube. As is Spencer Tracy's Judge Haywood's defense of what we stand for. At least in the movie. We've come a long way baby and it's no compliment.

Ernst Janning: There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that - can you understand what Hitler meant to us.

Because he said to us: 'Lift your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed.'

It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb. What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded... sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password. And history tells how well we succeeded, your honor.

We mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said 'go ahead, take it, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - remilitarize it - take all of Austria, take it!

And then one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual began in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase had become the way of life.

Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again.

You have seen him do it - he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it... whatever the pain and humiliation.

Sound painfully familiar? It's been the refrain since 9/11. Fanned to higher and higher heights of near hysteria. Make Germany great again! Make America great again! Pound the drums. Point the finger.  Fear the other! Fear your neighbors! Fear the foreigners! Fear yourself! Be afraid until fear is all you have and it eats you alive.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Here we go again. This young woman has been refusing to say the pledge for nearly ten years. But this time her teacher docked her participation points for refusing to stand. School administration intervened, she and another student were moved to another classroom and her grade restored.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot is going on? The constitution has nothing to say about either the pledge or the national anthem. Earth to "participate to prove your patriotism" or whatever it proves. Guess what? Neither action is mentioned in the constitution for a very simple reason. Neither one existed at the time the constitution was written. And even if they did. We are protected under the first amendment. Not speaking is as protected as speech. Get over it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Written by Wendell Berry in 2003 from his collection This Day Collected and New Sabbath Poems page.

Berry paints wonderful word pictures in some of his work. Since he often uses blank verse I believe he uses the format to force the reader to pay attention to the punctuation. It really does make a difference.

This is a poet of the river lands,
a lowdown man of the deepest
depth of the valley, where gravity gathers
the waters, the poisons, the trash,
where light comes late and leaves early.

From the window of his small room
the lowdown poet looks out, He watches 
the river for ripples, flashes, signs
of beings rising in the under surface dark,
or lightly swimming upon the flow,
or, for a minnow, descending the deeps
of the air to enter and shatter
forever their momentary reflections,
for the river is a place passing
through a passing place.

The poet, his window, and his poems
are creatures of the shore that the river
gnaws, dissolves, and carries away.
He is  tree of a sort, rooted
in the dark, aspiring to the light,
dependent on both. His poems
are leavings, sheddings, gathered
from the light, as it has come,
and offered to the dark, which he believes
msut shine with sight,
with light, dark only to him. 


Not sure where to go from here. If there's a good way to find out who among Trump's followers have ties to Christian Identity. And how to tie it to the Eugenics movement that started in England and moved to America in the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. A movement that definitely identified northern white Europeans as superior to everyone else. Gee, I wonder why. It couldn't be because white, male Northern Europeans came up with this load of BS.

For now recommend The War against the Weak by Edwin Black. It is a tough read. Not because it's poorly written. But, because the information will probably lead to an overwhelming urge to bounce the book off the walls. Repeatedly.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Make America Great Again. Just how far back do you have to go to Make America Great. Again. In September 1913 11,000 miners went out on strike in Colorado. Miners and their families were forced from their sorry excuses for homes. They set up camps. tent cities. A private detective agency was hired to harass the strikers. Then the governor of Colorado called out the National Guard. On April 20, 2014 two companies of the guard opened fire on a camp in Ludlow, Colorado containing at least 1,000 men, women and children.

After shooting up the camp the guardsmen moved into the camp, setting fire to the tents. When it was over the dead included two women and eleven children were found in a pit like cave that had been dug under the tents. 

Thirty years later Woody Guthrie wrote the words and music to this song.

Ludlow Massacre

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

It was early springtime when the strike was on,
They drove us miners out of doors,
Out from the houses that the Company owned,
We moved into tents up at old Ludlow.

I was worried bad about my children,
Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge,
Every once in a while a bullet would fly,
Kick up gravel under my feet.

We were so afraid you would kill our children,
We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep,
Carried our young ones and pregnant women
Down inside the cave to sleep.

That very night your soldiers waited,
Until all us miners were asleep,
You snuck around our little tent town,
Soaked our tents with your kerosene.

You struck a match and in the blaze that started,
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns,
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me.
Thirteen children died from your guns.

I carried my blanket to a wire fence corner,
Watched the fire till the blaze died down,
I helped some people drag their belongings,
While your bullets killed us all around.

I never will forget the look on the faces
Of the men and women that awful day,
When we stood around to preach their funerals,
And lay the corpses of the dead away.

We told the Colorado Governor to call the President,
Tell him to call off his National Guard,
But the National Guard belonged to the Governor,
So he didn't try so very hard.

Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes,
Up to Walsenburg in a little cart,
They sold their potatoes and brought some guns back,
And they put a gun in every hand.

The state soldiers jumped us in a wire fence corners,
They did not know we had these guns,
And the Red-neck Miners mowed down these troopers,
You should have seen those poor boys run.

We took some cement and walled that cave up,
Where you killed these thirteen children inside,
I said, "God bless the Mine Workers' Union,"
And then I hung my head and cried.

So ask the Trump supporters just what America do you want to celebrate. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


The dog ate my homework. Actually the computer "ate" my notes and rough draft. I thought I saved it. I did save it. But, its somewhere out in lah lah the cybernetic void.

I would ask if the family had magazines and/or newspapers in the house when they were kids. And what publications were they. Were there books in the house? On a logger's pay my folks slowly filled a six foot, three shelf book case with National Geographics, Reader's Digest condensed books and a set of World Books encyclopedia my grandparents passed on to us. Grandma and grandpa khad a big bookcase too. The books I remember were books about India and the Far East. My great aunt was a missionary in India for years. I didn't realize until much later how rare we were until years later.

And then I'd ask if their folks voted regularly or just showed up every four years. When I turned twenty one I didn't get my first legal drink I got a free ride down to the office where they handled voter registrations. Dad grew up in a farming town and he loved to tell us about the ceremony of opening the polls on election day. And a little ceremony to close the polls at when it was time.

If I could get away with it I'd ask him or her what faith they held. Presumably Christian but what flavor? And just as important which version of the Bible did they use. You can tell a lot by which translation they favor. Evangelicals favor the New International Versions. Many older main line Protestants rely on the Revised Standard Version. Don't even mention the New Jerusalem Bible. The Catholics produced that one. And don't even go into whether the King James version is the best English language version ever produced. I've got one. Haven't read it in years.

How do they view other religions or even other denominations of Christians? Is it my way or the highway? And what will happen to those they don't respect if they ever gain the power to force the rest of us to walk their path. There are some really scary folks out there. Especially since Trump announced at Values Voter Summit that he looked forward to the time when his fellow citizens were united under "One nation, One God, One Flag." That's very reminiscent of the Nazi "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fhurer.

Monday, September 12, 2016


If I could build a set of poll questions for Trump supporters it might include the following.

What is your ethnic background? I don't mean are you white? I mean what do you know about your ancestors? When did they get here? Where did they settle? I'm Scots/Irish, English and German with a touch of Welsh tossed into the mix. The majority of my colonial ancestors settled in New England and Connecticut. One line from Virginia. They were Quakers and so was a branch that started out in North Carolina but moved to Indiana as soon as a decent road was built.

There were four major migrations from different parts of Britain at different times. The Puritans, the refugees from the Civil War in the 1640's or younger sons of the gentry who couldn't hope to inherit family land back home, the Quakers and finally the Borderers in northern England and southern Scotland. Most of them were tenants who had filled the raiding parties that went back and forth over the border until England and Scotland were "unified" in the early 1700's.

Four groups. Four definitions of "liberty." Ordered liberty which but the good of the social group before individual rights in much of early New England. A hierarchical society in Virginia and the Tidewater. The gentry were born to rule and heaven help the rest of you.. Reciprocal liberty for most of the Quakers. As long as no laws were broken; you keep your nose out of my business and I'll do the same. Now we come to the last. The Borderers. I guess it was a take on the warrior's creed. Personal honor above all and heaven help anyone who was perceived to impugn it. Duels come out of that belief and Andy Jackson wasn't the only duelist in our history. And a belief that my rights as an individual are paramount. You must respect my rights and I'll respect yours when or if I feel like it. Sound familiar?

I believe I'll break this into several parts.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


It was 1943 and a Jehovah's Witness named Barnette brought suit against the West Virginia Board of Education. His faith forbids Witness's from pledging allegiance to symbols, including political symbols. The Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 in favor of Barnette,

This is an excerpt from the decision delivered by Justice Robert Jackson.

To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.
But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

Jackson went on to serve as chief prosecutor from the US during the first of the Nuremberg trials.   



The original pledge of allegiance: I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Of the United States of America and etc. was added in 1942. In the fifties under God was added to prove to the world that we weren't Godless pinko commies.

Now that the school year has started and so are knickers are in a twist because some kids are refusing to stand up and repeat the pledge.   Some teachers are going to far as to try and force their students to stand. Lay hands on my kid (if I had one) and you are going to hear about it. 

I have some reservations about the hoo haw over the pledge and the national anthem. Neither one is mentioned in the constitution. There is no law on the books at the federal level that mandates reciting the pledge are standing for that nearly impossible to sing anthem. 

The constitution is the foundation of our laws. The constitution that is a monument to compromise. 
The constitution that all members of our government swear to protect and defend. The constitution that members of our armed forces also swear to protect and defend. How well some of the elected hired help follow that oath is, shall we say, questionable. 

If you insist on swearing allegiance to something, pledge allegiance to the constitution. 

Friday, September 9, 2016


The misbegotten joke of a Republican candidate made a policy speech on education yesterday, All we need is more vouchers and charter schools. Of course those actions would gut, according to the article, up to thirty percent of our public schools. 

When the public schools are gutted what happens to the rest of us who can't afford private schools or charter schools even with vouchers? At that point we'll be little better than most third world countries. What's next? Take a page from the death squads and dictators in Central and South America? Hunt down anyone who dares to teach the least among us to read, write and think? 

With apologies to the X-Files Trump is pond scum with a moral dipstick that's about two drops short of bone dry. Actually, referring to the X-Files. Who needs aliens when we're doing such a good job all on our own. .

Actually I can really understand why he's touting private schools. After all it worked so well for him. (sarcasm deliberate; very, very deliberate).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My name is__________ and I'm addicted to the deal making high

Now I've got no quarrel with folks getting paid for what they're worth. But, in my world the people that haul the trash, put out our fires, teach our kids and risk their lives in places with IEDs, RPGs and land mines. After all we got along just fine without "financial planners" and MBAS for centuries.

I believe Trump is prime example. He overstates his worth, scams anyone he can, puts his costs on the backs of his shareholders and somehow manages to get out of four bankruptcies with at least as much money as he went in with. Put his campaign in the Trump Tower and then jacked the rent.

His behavior, and that of CEO's that either give themselves hefty raises or get them from a compliant board of directors look to these tired eyes  lot like the behavior of gamblers or drunks. Or maybe it isn't just the money. maybe there's a "high" that comes from making the deal, getting all you can from a situation and the hell with everybody else while claiming that you are worth it. Especially when patients have to buy your product or become very sick or die.

Haven't noticed the price of Advil going up and if it did there's other medications you can take. If you are a diabetic, a cancer patient or severely allergic you don't have a choice. Sure the gal who runs Mylan made a savvy business decision and captured the auto inject epipen market. But, was that decision worth  jacking her pay from about 2.5 million dollars to a figure in the neighborhood of 18 million dollars? How much is enough. And how many of us have make a choice between dying or bankruptcy so some overpaid tenant of a top floor office with a view?

I know this is a little (more than a little) disjointed. I have trouble sometimes getting what's in the head into words.

Monday, September 5, 2016


I haven't been posting much this year. Some health issues were part of it. But, frankly when it comes to politics this year, I'm exhausted and how many times can you repeat that the Republican candidate is ___________________________________ and facing a trial for fraud, Fill in the blanks with expletives of your choice. LOL

So, what do I do. Well I could write about the books I'm either reading or trying to read. I could post cute pictures of other people's cats. LOL It's labor day and I'm feeling a whole lot of labor history coming on.

I could spend a heck of lot less time on FB looking at pictures of rescued cats and the world's worst toupee. If Trump wins I'm NOT moving to Canada but I may spend a lot time writing about herbs and sustainable gardening. 

Seriously, fill in that big blank up there and ask yourself how in name of all that''s holy and some that aren't how this man ended up being a presidential candidate. Almost makes you believe in a vengeful God punishing America for its sins. Almost.