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Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated – AUTUMN ALONG THE CANAL

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SATURATED – WET LEAVES ON GLASS

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated – Green Waters

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River water is not blue, unless it’s reflecting the sky. In shade, it is deep green, sometimes almost brown. Dark and rich, green with life, flowers, plants, fish.

Criminals and Gun Violence – SUNDAY NIGHT BLOG, Richard Paschall

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News - Sunday Night Blog – Richard Paschall

Despite news stories that would suggest the opposite, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy are fond of pointing out that the city has endured less shootings than in recent years.  If that is truly the case, then the shootings in past years was under reported by local media.  You can believe that they are all over it now. Local news in most big cities follow the mantra, “If it bleeds, it leads,” and shootings have become the lead stories all too often in the Windy City and around America. Chicago has become the topic of national newscasts and unfortunate late night talk show jokes.

Mayor Emanuel and his predecessor, long time mayor Rich Daley, have worked hard to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals.  They worked to restrict gun sales, limit concealed carry and ban guns at certain locations.  In light of gun violence, it seems logical that city leaders would lead the charge to get guns out of the hands of the type of people who would shoot up a city park.  Unfortunately their efforts have met the fight to let criminals have their guns.  “Who would be against the efforts of our elected officials to make the city streets safer?” you may ask.  Is it just the gangs?  Are the gangs using their drug profits to oppose the city in court?  Is it the Mafia and their high-priced attorneys?  Is it some Tea Party extremist?  No, it is none of those although the last might be close.  It is the National Rifle Association that is working hard to let criminals have guns and keep violence on main street America.  They have money.  They have lawyers and they like taking Chicago to court.

Yes, one of the roadblocks to taking guns away from criminals is the NRA.  They will now point to recent shootings as proof that we can not have gun control.  They will again try to force feed us the argument that gun control will mean that only criminals will have guns  and we will all be at their mercy, as if we are not now.  The NRA will use their usual scare tactics to defend their extreme position that actually allows criminals to get more and more guns.  They will then attempt to sell us on the idea that all of those guns in the hands of criminals means we can not have gun control laws.  Somehow they seem to think that arming the bad guys is proof that the good guys should not have to face any sort of restrictions on buying guns.  If you think this philosophy is a bit twisted, you are right (or perhaps I meant left).

The “slippery slope” argument is at the top of the NRA’s philosophy about gun control laws.  They seem to think that if there are any restrictions to buying guns, soon there will be more and more restrictions to follow and eventually  all the good guys will have to give up their guns to the federal, state and local governments.  It does not matter that this argument make no sense and the Second Amendment will protect them.  They continue to fight the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago through misleading pronouncements and court challenges.  Consider the common sense ideas of the state and city along with the extremist, Wild West position of the NRA.

Attempts at restricting private sale or transfer of guns to criminals have been challenged.  Reporting lost or stolen guns has been challenged.  Restricting concealed carry in certain public places has been challenged.  The NRA has won a battle against the State of Illinois in Moore v. Madigan.  That would be Lisa Madigan, Attorney General for the State of Illinois.  They claimed that the State efforts to enforce its laws left people “defenseless” outside their own homes.  They also backed McDonald v. Chicago in a fight against Chicago hand guns laws.  Their direct fight in NRA v. Chicago was later consolidated with the McDonald case.  While the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the Chicago law, the fight went to the Supreme Court where the much of the Chicago ordinance was struck down, leaving the city to attempt a less restrictive ban in 2010.

The State of Illinois was forced in July to adopt a concealed weapons laws, which angered city officials.  The law forced changes on the City of Chicago.  City officials, however, refuse to roll over to the wishes of the NRA.  They are now attempting to ban guns in bars and restaurants that sell alcohol.  They feel guns and booze don’t mix.  They expect the NRA to back the Dodge City mentality and challenge them in court.  Apparently, there should be no checking of hand guns at the door, but Marshal Dillon is not around to toss the bad guys in jail like an episode of Gunsmoke so this may not go well.  Perhaps all disputes will be settled by a duel in the street rather than shooting up Chicago saloons.

If Al Capone were still alive he would be proud of the efforts of the NRA to let Capone and Frank Nitti keep guns on the streets of Chicago.  As for Eliot Ness, the NRA would keep him and the Untouchables busy in court with challenges over any attempts to enforce the law, even common sense laws.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

Despite all the palaver that the availability of guns does not affect crime levels, this is so obviously ridiculous and self-serving by gun enthusiasts that it really isn’t worth arguing. I think everyone who hunts, competes in shooting sports and has some kind of genuine reason to own a weapon should be allowed to do so. I also think that all guns should be better regulated, insured, and kept track of.  Here is an opinion from Richard Paschall, SUNDAY NIGHT BLOG. Well worth reading.

See on rjptalk.wordpress.com

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Daily Prompt: We Can Be Taught! – GREATNESS

Greatness comes in many forms. From your best friend, to your husband and fourth grade teacher … the fireman, police and soldiers who protect you … the men who invent our world … the people who fight injustice. So  much greatness, too much for one post … this is a small start.

Where I was that day

On September 11, 2001, I had just gotten back from overseas. I’d been in Israel, a business trip. While there, I picked up some kind of nasty bug that kept me very close to home — and a bathroom — and so, I was at home when the phone rang. Sandy and I were in my bedroom, sorting through some clothing. It was Owen — her husband, my son — on the phone.

“Turn on the television,” Owen said.

“What channel?” I asked.

“Any channel,” he said. “Do it now.”

I did. “The World Trade Center is on fire,” I said.

“A plane hit it,” he said. And as I watched, another plane hit the other tower and the world spun round and nothing was the same after that.

HittingTheTowerSandy and I just watched, silently. Owen was watching at work, on the other end of the phone line. Then, a tower was gone.

“Oh my God,” I whispered. “The tower is gone. Gone.”

Then, the other tower fell.

Nothing remained but a cloud of dust and a giant pile of toxic rubble. Information started to come in. One of my co-workers was supposed to be on one of the planes that had hit a tower. I called, but Herb said he had changed his mind at the last minute. He had felt he didn’t want to go on that flight. He’d take a different flight, later in the day.

“God whispered in your ear,” I said, as did everyone else that day. “God whispered and you listened.”

Close as we were to Boston, everyone was calling friends, family, trying to find out who was where, who was not, if anyone knew something. We watched television, we waited. Garry got home from Channel 7. He said the newsroom had been a very strange place that day. Very strange. Never stranger.

We knew the world had changed. We didn’t know how much. We didn’t know it would be forever.

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12 years later, we know. It will never be the same. So many differences, some subtle, most not-so-subtle. It was the end of our belief in our invulnerability, though surely Pearl Harbor should have done that years before … but that was a “real” war, somehow different. This was an enemy we didn’t know we had, didn’t know was out to get us. Didn’t recognize the hatred behind the rhetoric, a hatred so blinding it would exempt no one from the fire.

It’s 9/11 again. A good time to remember who lived, who died, and how the world has changed.

Daily Prompt: Blogger With a Cause. Not.

“If your day-to-day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?”

The answer is … I wouldn’t. In the immortal words of Phil Ochs, “I ain’t marchin’ anymore.”

I marched against war and for peace.

I marched for civil rights.

I campaigned for universal health care and free care for anyone who needs it.

I marched against evil and for justice all my life and now, it’s time for a younger generation with better feet and hips to do the marching. I’m not sure, after all that marching whether or not I even accomplished anything … other than to make denim a fashion fabric.

I have discovered that the world spins on its axis and night follows day whether or not I march.

Good luck. Take sandwiches and something to drink.

Daily Prompt: Do over and over and over?

Do I think it’s ever possible to get life “right”?

In a word? No.

And how dull would it be if we did?

RepetitionSigned

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Daily Prompt: To pledge allegiance and mean it

I promise to love my country and no one has to force me to do it. I will love the United States regardless, but like a child, I won’t always approve of her behavior.

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One of the things I love best about this nation is exactly that we are allowed to say we don’t care for what she is doing, what her leaders are doing. There’s no Hell to pay for it. No one comes in the middle of the night to arrest me for saying — or publishing — what I think. You can disagree with me. The government can disagree with me. Everyone can send me strongly worded messages opposing whatever it is they find objectionable in what I say, do or publish … but that’s as far as it goes. At least so far.

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We may not be nice to one another, but we don’t have concentration camps — not anymore — and we’ve managed to make some progress towards equality in the past 60 years. Okay, we aren’t there yet, but at least we seem to be trying to go in the right direction.

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Even when historically, we derail for a while, we equally historically find our way back to the good path, though it may take more time than we like. Ours may not be the best form of government on earth … but if it isn’t, please show me the better one? Because I haven’t found it. And I have looked. However imperfectly this government functions, there is none better. Maybe there are a few just as good — arguably, anyhow — but not superior.

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Does that make me a patriot? I think it does. I think the Constitution is a brilliant, if flawed, document that has shown itself to be flexible enough to grow with the changes in the world. If only mens’ minds were equally flexible.

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I believe we are strong enough to survive hard times, bad presidents, well-intentioned but wrong presidents, bad legislation, bad legislators, scandal, corruption and stupid wars. And still be a good people. If that isn’t patriotism, then I don’t know what is. I am not always proud of this country, but I always love it.

Republicans and Democrats can be friends? OMG!!

When I read this comment, it was posted in regard to the YouTube video of President Barack Obama’s dedication speech at yesterday’s MLK Memorial. I was horrified :

“… the Republicans and Democrats hold hands behind your backs. It’s like pro wrestling, they act like they’re enemies in front of you but are good friends behind you. Why do you think they always agree on the key issues and have been seen many times spending time together, attending functions together, and even eating together. It is all a hoax to control the people. Research Obama’s evil policies he has instilled without the public knowledge. He will end life as you know, impeach this traitor!”

Is anyone really that naïve? It’s not his politics that appall me, though they are appalling. It’s his belief that people who disagree can’t be friends.

Of course they are friends. They work together, eat together and know each others’ wives and kids. They are human beings, not only politicians. Just as the district attorney, the defense attorneys and the judges are friends.

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Does anyone really think otherwise? Why would they not be friends? They are not on opposing teams. Quite the opposite: everyone in Congress is on the same team. American. The good of the nation is what they are supposed to stand for, not their party and its politics. They represent us, but ultimately, they represent the country.

Does this person also think baseball or football players on opposing teams don’t socialize off the field? That our professional lives so dominate us we don’t also have personal lives?

To know there are so many people who hate so much they have lost touch with reality scares me more than anything else going on in this country.

Regardless, it’s a fine speech, no matter what your political persuasion may be. I have posted it so if you missed it, you can catch up.

We are all people first. We aren’t what we do or even what we believe. We aren’t Republicans, Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives. We are men and women, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Sisters and brothers. Friends. Above all else, human. There are — and ought to be — allegiances which supersede political labels. Too many people are too busy hating to remember tolerance, reconciliation and love.

Intolerance is the evil we must forever fight. It’s the cause of war, murder, genocide and cruelty. It has saturated all of history with blood. It’s the thing that is fundamentally wrong with the world.

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Water Retrieving

It was a party on the Cape. Beautiful house. A group of politicians, media folks, and their Others. And one, big, wet Golden Retriever.

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To be fair, he could have been a happier retriever if only someone had thrown one of his hoarded tennis balls. He had carefully corralled them in the family swimming pool and while the spiffily dressed guests sipped cocktails and munched on sandwiches, he swam in the pool, then dripping he would try to convince someone to throw a sodden tennis ball.

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Alas, it was not his lucky day. How to make him understand that even we dog lovers couldn’t embrace so much wet dog dressed in our “nice” clothing?

Mom and Pop – Closed For Business

Mom and Pop. American political mythology declares them the backbone of business.

They are the official symbol of our nation’s best, the hardest workers. The folks who build our towns and cities. How fine it is to do business with neighbors and friends rather than faceless corporate franchise operations. Oh, wait. Our friends and neighbors work for those conglomerates. So aren’t we dealing with them anyhow?

Every day, it gets harder to find a Mom and Pop business. Blame it all on corporate greed pushing out small businesses, if you like. Always nice to have someone to blame. Too bad it’s not true. Or, not as true as we would like it to be.

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We love simple answers and if we can’t find one, we’ll make one up. The world keeps changing. So does what people want for themselves and their kids. Labor intensive small retail businesses have long been the bulwark of America’s Main Street but they aren’t appealing to today’s computer-savvy kids who are far more likely to want a shot at the boardroom of one of those aforementioned faceless corporations.

Who does want to run those little businesses? Immigrants. The people we are so determined to get keep out of our country or get rid of. They don’t see long hours and hard work as punishment. They see it as an opportunity. It’s American kids who see mom and pop’s business as a dead-end.

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Everyone has a piece of the truth. It’s a matter of how you look at it. Most of our small general stores, if they haven’t already been knocked down to make way for a CVS or Stop & Shop, are being run by recent arrivals from India, Pakistan and Asia. They work long hours, put they hearts into it and do well. They go out of their way to build relationships with their customers. And they succeed. Immigrants have always been the true bulwark of the “American dream” because they came here full of dreams.

The original Mom and Pop? They got old. Their kids never wanted to work at the family deli, restaurant or ice cream shop, so as soon as a better offer came along, they took it. Moreover, Mom and Pop didn’t send the kids to college so they could slave their lives away like they had, so they’re onboard. That was always the plan.

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One by one, family run businesses are closing. Young Americans don’t want to work so many hours for such small returns. The older generation agrees. You and me may want to support them, but they are no longer looking for our support. They want to retire. If they can’t find a buyer for the business, they will sell the land to the highest bidder.

Is it unreasonable to profit from long years of sweat and labor? Everyone knows small retail businesses — unless they find a niche market that doesn’t put them in head-to-head competition with corporate franchises — barely survive, even with community support.

I’d gladly support local small businesses, but who? One by one, our restaurants, delis, gift shops, independent groceries, book stores are going away. There is only one independent bookstore in the Valley now. There never were many, but now, just one.

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Independent drug stores? Gone. Small clothing shops? None. We have a few delis, restaurants, hair dressers and fingernail shops. Services do okay, but not retail shops. Restaurants, especially if they serve alcohol do okay. You can always find a couple of tattoo parlors. A lumber yard with two branches and a hardware store. Everyone else sold, closed and moved away.

We are grateful to haveWalmart. Without it we’d have no place to shop for anything without driving 25 miles to the mall where we would merely be buying from different corporations. We need someplace to buy dish towels, paper goods and bathmats. The place to go if the microwave suddenly dies or I break another coffee carafe. Walmart did not displace local businesses. We never had many and now, even fewer. Maybe a hundred years ago, but not in the last 50.

Good bye, Mom. Good bye, Pop. We miss you, but I understand. You worked hard. You want some time off now and an easier life for your kids. Welcome newcomers. Prejudice and politics be damned. I’m glad to have you in my town.

Daily Prompt: Whose Planet Is This?

It doesn’t take much to feel like a visitor from a foreign planet. Humans are  good at making anyone even a little bit different feel like an alien.

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My body is a great place to start. It is rebuilt, an imitation of a human body. Fake breasts with no nipples. Missing internal organs. No belly button.

Yet nothing makes me feel more out of time and place than reading posts on Facebook. The inability of average people to use any grammar, to write in full sentences, to understand that “loose” and “lose” aren’t the same word leaves me feeling as if I have been inter-dimensionally transported to “The Planet Without Grammar.” Forget typos. I get that. We all make mistakes and usually know it. How often I have wished I could go back and correct them.

No, I’m talking about all the millions of people who don’t even know they are doing something wrong because they never knew their own language in the first place.

Then there’s music. I sound like every member of every older generation throughout history, but this didn’t start when I became a Senior Citizen. It started when I was a young music student and had to listen to 12-tone music. This is music?  To me it sounds like Tom cats locked in a trash can to duke it out until only one emerges. Howling, banging, shrieks, crashing, thumping. No rhythm. No melody. Just noise.

I can get into rhythm without melody. I can enjoy melody without rhythm. When you remove both? What makes it music? Please, someone, explain. Where do noise and music part company? My inability as a young music student to grasp what it was about these sounds that made them admirable as music signaled a lifetime of “not getting it.” Whatever “it” has been.

There are so many things I don’t get. Politics. Ignorance. Movies without scripts. Books without plots. Published authors without talent. Illiteracy (voluntary). A society-wide lack of compassion. Environmental destruction for short-term goals which will have permanent devastating planet-wide repercussions. Genocide.

And that old standby, stupidity.

I said I’m an anachronism. I wasn’t kidding. I really am. And everyday, I get worse.

 

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Daily Prompt: Origin Story — Goal Free and Destination Unknown

I started blogging because it was Thursday or Tuesday … or maybe Monday and I didn’t have any reason not to. I didn’t have anything specific in mind and I had no plans. I felt like writing and since I’ve always been a professional writer, I couldn’t see much point in writing if no one what going to read it. I don’t need another by-line. Got plenty of those. A by-line and $7.50 might buy me a cup of coffee if I don’t want one of the really big ones. Or something with foam.

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I’d been following a couple of blogs on WordPress and had signed up so I didn’t have to identify myself each time I wanted to comment. That was in February 2012. I didn’t actually do anything more except name it and write an “About Me” page until June and didn’t get “into it” until September when the election stuff all over the Internet got totally crazy.

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I dislike ignorance. I resent millions of people who think you can get all the facts you need by watching Fox News … or for that matter, by listening to the opinions of those who watch it, then repeating what they heard as if it were facts. It made me crazy too, so I spent a lot of time checking out rumors, “opinions,” so-to-speak facts, then writing my stuff or reblogging commentaries by people who seemed to still have some contact with planet Earth.

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When the election finally ended and we had a nation full of sore losers whining about how they wuz cheated, I wrote about that along the lines of “shut up, take your marbles, go home and wait for the next election.” An opinion I still hold.

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Then I shut up too because sometimes, silence is the best answer you can give.

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After that, I started writing about whatever I felt like writing. I discovered the joy of reviewing books which worked out well since reading has always been my number one form of entertainment. I treated myself to some good camera equipment and upgraded my processing tools … and that’s pretty much where I have stayed.

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My life is a disorderly, sometimes scary, often a painful disaster area. So there’s always something awful going on. And I’m old enough and I’ve been around, so I’ve got a backlog of stories — true stories no less — to tell. When I remember one, I tell it. Preferably with humor because whining is boring. Even I find my whining boring, so I can only imagine how dull you find it.

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I’m opinionated. Ask anyone who knows me. Not only am I opinionated, but I can be on either side of any issue because I’m a Pisces and I agree with everyone, more or less … or at least, I understand their point of view, even if I hold a different one. Everyone owns at least a bit of the truth except some annoying morons that I wouldn’t mind shooting with a big gun to which I am entitled by my second amendment rights (you pointed it out, not me). But guns costs money and I don’t have any, so I guess I’ll have to use words. But a gun, now that would add a bit of spice.

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Has my blog changed? Often. And I’m sure it will keep changing. It isn’t evolution. It’s just me getting bored with doing the same thing all the time.

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I find a new template I like and switch to it. An idea scurries across my brain? I write about it. A spider crawls up my leg? I yell ‘EEK’ and that’s a post. I watch a movie and review it. I have a stack of virtual books to read and review that leaves me not a minute to spare. Sometimes I have trouble finding enough hours to sleep.

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And then there’s my health (ha!) about which the less said, the better. But I’ll still talk about it because life and death have a lot of impact and can’t be ignored. Not completely, anyhow, though Lord knows I wish I could.

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I write what I think will make others laugh or at least smile. Sometimes I write stuff I think may prove useful in solving problems.  I display pictures I enjoyed taking which are pretty or interesting to look at.

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I have no goals at all. I have no ambitions. Ambition left home without me about a decade ago, along with my health. I’m not in it for money. I write because I’m a writer and a blog lets me put my writing in front of eyes that may read it. I take pictures because I love to take pictures and displaying them makes me happy.

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Am I supposed to have a lofty objective? Something important I need to achieve? Because I don’t.

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If the lack of ambition means I’m a failure, so be it. I lack objectives. There is no distant destination I feel I need to reach, though there are places I wish I could go …. just because they are beautiful and I’d like to go there.

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Christmas and Boston

I wish I were making money at this. I need a mobility scooter. I need a stair lift. I want that cool new camera Panasonic just put out. Lacking capital, I hope my writing keeps getting better and eventually I get rid of typos. Take better pictures.

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And hope you’ll enjoy them. If that’s not goal enough … oh well. C’est la vie.

 

American Mythology

Every nation revises history. They leave out the bad bits  – slaughters of the innocent, unjust wars against minorities and civilians. They invent heroes, turn defeats into victories.

This (attributed to ) originally appeared duri...

American history is no different. It’s relatively easy to make our history match our myths when such a large percentage of U.S. citizens haven’t learned any history since third grade. There’s some question about how well third grade lessons were absorbed. Recent studies show a troubling pattern of ignorance in which even the basics of history are unknown to most of our natural-born citizens. Ironically, naturalized citizens are far better educated. They had to pass a test to become citizens. The rest of us got a free pass.

College students don’t know when we fought the Revolution, much less why. They can’t name our first president (George Washington, just in case you aren’t sure). Many aren’t clear what happened on 9/11.  I’ve been asked which came first, World Wars I or II — indicating more than ignorance. More like deep stupidity.

Getting the people excited enough to take up arms is hard work.

All over Facebook, morons gather to impress each other with the vigor of their uninformed opinions. They proclaim we fought the Revolution to not pay taxes and keep our guns. Saying that’s not how it happened is insufficient. I lack the words to say how untrue that is.

Why did we have a Revolution? How come we rebelled against England rather than peaceably settling our differences? Wouldn’t it have been easier to make a deal?

Yes, it would have been easier to make a deal and we tried. Unfortunately, it turned out to be impossible. We fought a revolution when we exhausted every peaceful option. Petitions and negotiations failed, but we kept trying, even after shots had been fired and independence declared.

We didn’t want war with England. There were lots of excellent reasons:

  • Our economy was entirely dependent on trade with England. Through English merchants, we could trade with the rest of the world. Without them, we were stuck with no trading partners or ships
  • We were ill-equipped to fight a war
  • We had no navy, no commanders. No trained army. We barely had guns
  • Our population was too small to sustain an army
  • We had no factories, mills or shipyards
  • We relied on England for finished goods other than those we could make in our own homes, including furniture, guns, clothing, cutlery, dishes, porcelain
  • We needed Britain to supply us with anything we ate or drank (think tea) unless we could grow it in North America.

All luxury goods and many necessities came from or through England. We had some nascent industries, but they were not ready for prime time. It wasn’t until 1789 we built our first cotton-spinning mill — made possible by an Englishman named Slater who immigrated from England and showed us how to do it.

Our American colonies didn’t want to be Americans. We wanted to be British. We wanted the right to vote in parliamentary elections as equals with other British citizens. The cry “no taxation without representation” (remember that?) didn’t mean we weren’t willing to pay taxes. It meant we wanted the right to vote on taxes. We wanted to be heard, to participate in government. Whether or not we would or would not pay a particular tax was not at issue. Everyone pays taxes — then and now. We wanted seats in Parliament and British citizenship.

King George was a Royal asshole. His counselors strongly recommended he make a deal with the colonists. Most Americans considered themselves Englishmen. If the British king had been a more flexible, savvy or intelligent monarch, war could have been averted. We would be, as the Canadians are, part of the British Commonwealth. There would have been no war. A bone-headed monarch thought a war was better than compromise. He was a fool, but it worked out better than we could have hoped.

We declared war which many folks here and abroad thought was folly. We almost lost it. We would have lost were it not for two critical things:

  • British unwillingness to pursue the war aggressively
  • French ships and European mercenaries.

Without French assistance and hired mercenaries from central Europe, we would have been squashed by the British who were better armed, better trained. They had ships with guns, trained seamen to man them. We didn’t.

Near home, in a ritzy Boston suburb.

Just as we considered ourselves English, albeit living abroad in a colony rather than in England, British soldiers and commanders were not overly eager to slaughter people they considered fellow Englishmen. They didn’t pursue the war with the deadly determination they could have … and if they had? Who knows?

Did we really win because the British were inept and couldn’t beat an untrained ragtag rabble army? That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. I doubt it. There is considerable argument on much this affected the course of the war. I side with those who think that the British found it distasteful to shoot people with whom a short time before they had been friends and with whom the hoped to be friends again. And of course, many British soldiers had family in “the colonies” and vice-versa. It was a painful fight, rather like a civil war.

Many British citizens sympathised with the colonists including a goodly percentage of troops. Sympathy ran high even in the upper echelons of British government. Many important people in England were none too happy with King George. So they did as they were ordered, but without enthusiasm. No one in the British government — or high up in the army — believe the colonies had any chance of winning. They were convinced we’d work it out by negotiations eventually. Many felt the fewer people killed in the interim, the fewer hard feeling would exist afterwards.

And then there was one huge miscalculation. The British did not expect the French to show up. As soon as the French fleet arrived, a few more battles were fought and the British went home. Had they pursued the war with vigor from the start, we wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the French to get here, much less save our butts.

The mythology surrounding the American Revolution is natural. Every nation needs heroes and myths and we are no exception. But as grown ups, we can apply a bit of healthy skepticism, read a couple of books. Learn there’s more to the story than the stuff we learned when we were eight. Like, the second part of the Revolutionary war known as “The War of 1812.” Part two of the Revolution which we lost fair and square when the British burned Washington D.C.

We did not win the Revolution. We survived it. Barely.

Andrew Jackson’s big win at New Orléans in 1814 kept the British from coming back. The battle took place a full 10 days after the war ended. Losing it would no doubt have encouraged the British to return, but the Battle of New Orléans was not decisive. The war was over by then. No one had a cell phone, so they didn’t know, which is why I contend the course of history would be really different if cell phones had been invented a few centuries earlier.

Only crazy people think guns and killing are the solution to the world’s ills. Guns and killing are the cause of most of the problems. It horrifies me such people gain credence. It used to be considered a normal part of good citizenship to have a basic understanding of history and government.

Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown

Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no better form of government than ours. There are others perhaps as good, but none better, none more fair, none that offers more protection to its citizens. Whatever is wrong with our system of government is wrong with the world, not just America. Intelligent people don’t throw away the good stuff because someone lost an election, or a jury brought in a bad verdict.

We have the good fortune to live in a nation of laws. They don’t always work the way they should, nor does justice always prevail, but the laws exist. We have elections. We transfer power from one administration to the next without battles, riots, bloodbaths.

An educated citizenry and a free press are our best defenses against tyranny. As long as you can complain openly and protest vigorously against your own government, and those people on TV and on the news can say what they will about the government — whether or not you or I agree with them — we are living in a free nation. That’s a rare and wonderful thing.

Ignorance is the enemy of freedom. It allows fools to rush in where angels would never dare. Support education. Encourage your kids to read. Let’s all read. Knowledge benefits everyone.

You’re ALL out of order! Historically speaking.

MAD-Magazine-Anthony-Weiners-BackMy husband is astounded the people of New York could really seriously consider electing Anthony “The Peter Tweeter” Weiner. How can people be so dumb? Of course he knows the answer. He’s just in denial.

I reminded him how the good citizens of Washington DC elected Marion Barry, Jr. multiple times, even after he was arrested, convicted and served time for cocaine. And he’s by no means the only known criminal to be elected after being convicted and serving time. Sex scandals, corruption, bribery, extortion, armed robbery, witness intimidation, drugs, embezzlement, murder. You name a crime and we, the American people have elected someone who committed it. Was known to have committed it. Was convicted in a court of law for committing it. And we elected them anyway, frequently more than once.

And then we have the gall to complain about the poor quality of our elected representatives? And demand term limits?

We have term limits. They are called elections. If you don’t want them, don’t elect them. It’s not as if foreigners sneak over the border and vote for their own candidate. We nominate and elect them. It isn’t the Russians, the Pakistanis or the Mexicans. It’s us. And we keep doing it. If ever a nation has the politicians it deserves, it’s the USA.

It’s funny, if you’ve got the right kind of sense of humor. The Hall of Shame list is broken down by presidency, governmental branch and by scandal, many of which have cool names that resound through history. Watergate. Teapot Dome. Iran-Contra. Koreagate. Only the juiciest scandals get really good names.

The number of indictments does not represent the number of crimes. It just shows who got caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Keep in mind many people convicted under one administration were actually appointed or elected during (or by) preceding administrations. They just didn’t get nailed until years later.

nyh-08-09-1974

My vote for top scandal of my lifetime: Watergate. I doubt I will live to see anything that can touch it for sheer bizarre excitement. Watching it unfold was a total reality show immersion experience. Nowadays, they try to create reality, but that was reality. Everyday, some totally weird new stuff showed up on TV. I used to carry a transistor radio with me so I wouldn’t have to miss the daily hearings. (Note: Transistor radios were predecessors of computers. You turned them on and live sound came out, but no pictures.) I turned on the TV as soon as I got home to watch the day’s events unfold. Crazy stuff! The best live continuing series ever.

I can’t believe I’m waxing nostalgic for great scandals of the past. With all the hoopla during the Clinton and Bush administrations, nothing matched Watergate. But that was just the big one in my lifetime. Historically, although there was no electronic media to cover the event, the biggest government scandal in American history? Take a guess. Let’s not always see the same hands.

It was the Whiskey Ring scandal. It took place during the massively corrupt administration of President Ulysses S. Grant’s (R) and involved whiskey taxes, bribery and kickbacks. It ended in 1875 with 110 convictions. That’s the record, folks. Hopefully, it will never be matched, much less beaten.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

Most crimes, serious or minor, were punished by slaps on the wrist. A couple of months, a small fine, probation or community service, most of which was made to “disappear” by a pardon from the next occupant of the Oval Office. Without regard for party affiliation.

In case you are detail-oriented, I put together a list of most of the elected and appointed officials on the Federal level who were convicted while holding office. It’s in a separate post, The American Hall of Shame. Originally part of this post, it was huge, so I gave it its own space. Wow, eh?

More than a few of the people who were convicted of crimes while in office were subsequently re-elected, some while still serving time. The list goes all the back to … well … George Washington. It doesn’t start to get really intense until the Reagan administration, not because there weren’t many criminals, but the because officials were virtually untouchable for many years. Everybody knew they were criminals, but no one was willing to point a finger.

Somebody might cut that finger right off. No, really.

See The American Hall of Shame for delicious details of the America’s elected and appointed criminals and scandals. History can be fun!