Monday, February 22, 2016

Hometown Issues ( Photo of my Grandparents, Father, Uncle and Sister - 1959 Canton, NC)

The RNC and the DNC, along with the out of touch liberal media have their own ideas about what is important for the 2016 election. It is a shame how out of touch these judgmental, wealthy elitists are when it comes to what is important to the average person on Main Street. America is a country formed by the original rebels who left Europe to make their lives in the manner they deemed best, following God, Family and Country, with their own values. All they wanted was an even chance to succeed, regardless of their birth status. The United States was created with this at the heart of her Doctrine and the Republic that deemed all men equal. The pieces of the United States come in all sizes. There are the large cities, small towns and everything in between. Today’s topic is one example of the hometown fabric that has built the shining place on the hill that so many have been inspired to call home. The place is Canton, NC, a small mill town in the Appalachian Mountains. There is a paper mill there that has been in existence for over a hundred years. It built the town up around it, and supported many a generation through depression, world war and a declining manufacturing environment and overall economy. As the song Papertown by Balsam Range says, “This ain’t just another Papertown, it’s the one that I call home.” My Grandfather raised his family working there. He began as a logger at eighteen years old, then moved up to machinist in the mill. His three children, educated by the fruit of his work, became an engineer, a chemist and an artist. My Father worked in the mill as well, and I spent 13 years of my life in Canton, NC. It was common for generations to find their living in the mill. The mill has gone through so many changes as the world reacted to events beyond their control. Today, you will find the mill in operation, but at a greatly diminished capacity in comparison to years past. It has affected the town. It was the largest employer in the area. It provided living wage manufacturing jobs to the population. There is a lot less money to support the commerce that once thrived in the downtown area. This story is one of the key issues that really matter to the people who will vote for a new president in 2016. Watching the news, it seems to be a matter largely ignored and is so far and away from what the media and party officials claims to matter to the average Joe and Jane. The people want to work and earn a living. They want to know that if they send their children to college, there will jobs for them to fill to make their investment pay off. Canton is one location, but Detroit is a prime example of manufacturing that built America and the international trade agreements that have brought about its demise. Last week Carrier announced that the company would be moving the manufacturing to Mexico. Ford just announced they would do the same, citing lower wages, improved logistics and a wealth of free trade agreements. The American People want to know what the next president is going to do to bring the jobs back to the USA! They want to earn their standard of living and be free to make their own lives as they see fit, without the government sticking their noses in everyday lives. The People built this country with their generational hands, and can do so again with just a chance to work. Neither do they need or want everything free from an oppressive, controlling government. The reason, “Make America Great Again,” has caught fire is because it can and needs to be done again. It is not important who leads America to greatness again, it is important to remember that the leader will have a mighty following. Americans are a proud, headstrong bunch, and the “powers that be” have completely and totally underestimated the heart of the people!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Choices = Consequences from my column

2015 has come and gone. It was a year of controversy and offense to those who live in the five year old kindergarten land of fair play. That mythical land of utopia where touchy – feely, liberal, kum ba yah perfection reigns and someone else always picks up the bill. Where feelings are easily wounded with the harsh truth, or rumored half - truth spit out by the lame stream media, or misinformed so and so who said this or that. Where fact checking is too much effort and it is easier to believe whichever nugget of hearsay hits the ear last. It seems that too many folks didn’t have a parent who delighted in informing their children a hard fact of life when hit with the, “but, it’s not fair!” The proper parental come back being, “life’s not fair, get over it now and avoid the rush.” A caring parent would gently strip away the fairy tale lies of life and let the child know that the harsh truth that choices made today can affect the course of one’s life forever. A good example of where bad choices came into play during 2015 would be the riots in Ferguson MO over the shooting of an unarmed teen. The Grand Jury refused to indict Officer Wilson on any count because, after many hours of deliberation, the facts were brought out that Brown had acted aggressively toward Officer Wilson. Brown was not shot in the back trying to surrender, as was initially reported, nor was he the “gentle giant” as was claimed. He had just roughed up a convenience store owner as he tried to rob the store. It is a shame that a mother lost her son, but the outcome of his poor choices delivered the events that cost him his life. Many other people who ran afoul of the police, sparking protests in 2015, were not model citizens. When a person has a criminal record, the police tend to lose sympathy, especially for repeat offenders. Again, poor choices change the direction of one’s life, and no one can expect everlasting patience on the part of those who are called to defend the peace or those who are in a position to judge those who have violated the law of the land. These confrontations with the police spawned the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Yes, black lives matter, all life matters, but blocking roads, malls, and other public places will not bring people back to life, especially in the light of the fact that some caused their own demise with their actions. When all the facts come to light, these same protestors don’t give up the ill -informed example. They continue to run with the same misinformation with indignation. These protests and protestors often have run afoul of the law as well. After which, these same people who have broken laws expect John Q. Public to sympathize with the consequences of their actions. Another example of poor choices would be the predicament of Charlie Sheen. The lifestyle he led brought him to being HIV positive. No one wishes ill health on anyone, but there are definitive reckless choices that put one in a position to contract a disease. Lastly, to those who took offense at every opportunity, especially when it was the truth and it happened to be uncomfortable to hear. The truth is often unpopular and cannot be dressed in silk and velvet and be called something else. Just because it isn’t fair, or politically correct, doesn’t take away from the facts. It is impossible to make everyone happy at the same time and your state of mind is of your own choosing. Get over it and yourself! Let reality in and it will be an eye opener. The conclusion of these examples is that one cannot go against the guidelines of civilization, morality or propriety and expect good results. Neither should one get severely butt hurt because, “it’s not fair” or “why me?” The consequences fit the situation, and cannot be avoided. Hopefully, 2016 will be a year of personal responsibility. The year that the easily offended, reckless or criminal will learn that society didn’t do to them this harm or penalty. The poor choices of their own evocation brought them to the place of discomfort they now occupy.

Dreams, Disillusion and Discouragement

Have you ever felt like you were fighting an uphill battle? Of course, everyone gets this feeling every once in a while. How does one cope? Primarily, I trust God. I know He has everything well in hand. Secondarily, I have a placebo. I have my words and I write. I make up stories to amuse myself. If, by chance, they amuse others that is good. If not, at least I am delivered for a little while. When I explained this to a fellow writer, he said that words were good, but he had rum when things got him down. I suppose that works too. I am just not a very good drinker. I never did care too much for throwing up. The first half of life seems like everything is a possibility. Dreams are established. Goals are set in place. As one ages, dreams change and some disillusionment starts to creep in. Becoming a cynic is a possibility. Negativity has to be held at bay for bitterness accomplishes nothing. As one learns how the world plays its' games, discouragement is a factor. There are those who have tunnel vision. They only see the world as it relates directly to them. They walk about, step on the feelings of others in order to accomplish their goals. There are those with a broader vision, who see the world as a cooperative. They are the ones who are most likely to help one along the way. Learning to deal with the different types of people in this world is a trial we all face. Our current economic system puts workers at the mercy of those who have. They have work to offer us and we have to accept their whims in order to survive. Without work, we have no economy in our household. Even love is very delicate thing. It should not be so hard, but it often is. It is hard to find an honest heart in today's society. Fighting off bitterness is a never ending battle. Things often go awry, but it is important to never give up or give in. Tomorrow will be better. Fight a little longer, though tears get in your way.

Beyonce and other Artists of Privilege - Stop Race Baiting

I would like to comment on the half time "performance" by Beyoncé during the Super Bowl. It seems that you and your husband think you are some sort of royalty who deserve special protection and privileges. You can pay for your protection. You should only have private bodyguards on your payroll. They can be any race, color or creed you would like. Just be sure you are footing the bill. Make your own personal police force, please. Do not ask public servants to protect you, even if compensated. You do not deserve their help. Your agenda that "black lives matter," is your own. Maybe your time would be better served going into the black community and trying to help families stay together. Get people off drugs, get children in a church, or at least somewhere they are properly cared for. They should not be running the streets, raising themselves, then folks wonder why things happen to them. The statistics show black on black crime is very high. Why don't you take your fabulous wealth and follow Denzel Washington's example? Write a check for a public facility. Donate your time. Instead, you choose to judge from your Ivory Tower and feel your privileged status while spewing racial hate. You are a disgrace!

Cooperatives Still Work from my column

There are many people in the United States who lack jobs that pay a living wage. There is an ongoing controversy about resetting the minimum wage. On one side of the controversy is that workers cannot live on amount per hour set as a minimum now. The other side is that minimal skills warrant minimal pay, giving incentive to the worker to improve their skillset in order to improve their personal bottom line. Most will agree that minimum wage jobs are not a career option. The tragedy is that the majority of “jobs created” in the last seven years have been service industry jobs that start at minimum wage. Anyone who has ever taken an economic course will tell you that a business that with high overhead is not a functional business. In this situation, the business has to eventually fold. This is a major stumbling block to raising the minimum wage in the service industry, the cost of which must needs be passed onto the consumer. Today’s consumers are stretched pretty thin as it is. A vast majority of manufacturing jobs, jobs that allowed the greatest generation to make a middle class income, be homeowners and have a family with a stay at home mom have been sent overseas. One solution to this problem would be to impose a tariff on the goods that are produced overseas in order to be competitive with the same goods made here in America. Another solution would be to heavily tax the profits of the corporations that have moved their jobs in order to find locations where low pay is acceptable, or a combination of the two. A logical solution is to look back at business history and apply it to today’s need for both living wage jobs and the return of manufacturing in America. In 2013, the PolitiChicks website published an article about reinstating the Cooperative. The basis of the article and of a cooperative is that citizens pony up their resources and form a business where everyone has a share or vote in the business. They are able to work within the company or simply be an investor or both. Agriculture has employed the cooperative for decades. The most outstanding and easily recognized being the kibbutz in Israel. It is pretty obvious that our elected representatives and big business have little to no interest in returning “made in America” to a label to be proud of, much less provide living wage jobs with benefits and security to the constituency that they are elected to represent. The benefit of a cooperative is that an individual’s smaller investment can bank roll a manufacturing company to reality, where it is very difficult for one person to realize the capital needed to fund such an undertaking. What is needed is for the next administration to attempt to recruit talent and business acumen together to go into communities and spearhead the resurrection of the cooperative, along with relaxing some the rigorous EPA obstacles and providing funding for other EPA guidelines that are most important for protecting the environment. We are a consumer driven economy. Without viable income, no one can consume very much. The economy will droop and fail. Cooperatives have the potential to breathe life back in the economy and revive the middle class, the economy and the honor of the “made in America” label.

Building a Wall from my column

Immigration has been a key issue in this presidential election. They say Rubio has flipped, then later flopped on his position concerning illegal immigrants. Trump, Cruz and Christie are for building a wall to secure the borders. The Democratic side, regardless of whom is chosen, will go for allowing more illegal aliens in the hopes that they will be fresh Democratic voters for their machine. Secure borders to both the North and South are essential for national security, but what of the 11 million or so illegals from various countries? For the sake of argument, say theoretically on February 2017, the first of a two part decision is to try to build the wall in order to keep out any new illegal immigrants. Part two of the plan is to find a way to document the people who are already here and find the best way to deal with and process them. One of the traditional sources of illegal aliens is Mexico. For many decades, the country was so economically depressed, that the United States was the proverbial Promised Land. People could cross the border, get a job, even a low wage job, and earn much more than they had in Mexico. They could send their money home to their families, build their homes there and put money into their economy, usually around a 10 to 1 exchange rate. That is, 10 pesos to one dollar. In 1993, NAFTA, (North America Free Trade Agreement) was signed into law. Then president Clinton said that “NAFTA meant jobs.” (He did not necessarily mean for people in the United States, but it did mean jobs for the countries where former US manufacturing jobs were transferred.) Vicente Fox, president of Mexico at the time, said, “The real end winner of NAFTA will be Mexico because we have that human capital. We have that resource that is vital to the US economy.” Felipe Calderon, Mexican president from 2006 to 2012, has issued a statement to Trump’s claim of a border wall at Mexico’s expense, “Mexico won’t pay a cent for Trump’s stupid wall.” He goes on to state that immigration is down from Mexico to the US, since citizens have opportunities to work in their own country. He claims levels have declined or have been flat for the last five years, and some illegal immigrants are returning to their homeland because of the jobs that have been relocated to Mexico. All of this is most likely true, thanks to NAFTA. Since the mass migration in the twentieth century from Mexico to the US, illegal immigrant dollars have been sent south of the border, improving and building many of the Mexican citizen’s standard of living. While it is not the responsibility of Mexico to secure our border, they might consider with some gratitude all the United States has done for them by way of employing their citizens, and ensuring the good health of many as well. Hospitals in the United States deliver their babies, heal their sick and injured. Some pay their way and some cannot. Many take advantage of social welfare programs such as WIC and Food Stamps. In 1985, when Mexico City had a horrendous earthquake and subsequent mudslide, causing great loss of life and physical damage, the United States sent a large sum of financial aid to combat the devastation. The above references are just a two examples of the amiable relationship of the United States and Mexico. It might be nice to remember how Mexico has come to have opportunities for its people. The Mexican government has never done one third as much for her people as the United States has done. The powers that be in Mexico are generally very corrupt and do not help their own people anywhere near as much as the United States has done for theirs and our own. The only favorable thing one can say of the Mexican bureaucracy is they are very honest in their deceit and corruption, as opposed to our government who claim to be pure, fair and democratic to its people, yet scandals of corruption erupt all the time. It is true that we are a nation of immigrants and we should find a solution for those who are already here and would like to be legal citizens, but in closing, it would seem that an old saying would be applicable in this situation and in reference to the comment by the former Mexican president. “If you can’t say something nice, keep your thoughts to yourself.”

Burn the Books from my column

On the night of May 10, 1933, German students from some of the most prestigious universities, set about burning books that contained “un German ideas.” It seems like we should schedule another bonfire. Anyone with ideas contrary or unflattering to Hillary Clinton should also be censored and “not allowed” to write their books. Really, “not allowed?” What part of the First Amendment do you not understand? If the writer has proof of their point, why not bring the facts to light? The liberal left seems to need to suppress the truth, or anyone with an opinion contrary to theirs. The left’s standard M.O. is not to try and prove the point with the facts. They pull the noise factor, the race card and the how dare you think for yourself card. If anyone has “un-left leaning ideas” their material should be burned. At least, that is the way the left wants to eradicate any independent thought. I am of the opinion that the liberal left is like my late Chihuahua. She was too small to ever defend herself on her own merit, so she was the loudest, most touchy, easily offended dog in the bunch. The conservative right is like my standard Poodle. She is calm until there was a real threat. She has nothing to prove. As a writer, I have had people disagree with me. Sometimes, they were misinformed, some were of a different opinion, and some just did not like it. However, as an adult, I can agree to disagree. Disagreement and discord will happen time and again, it is a professional liability, it would be best to get over it now and avoid the rush. How does anyone miss the fact that our country is creeping forward, inch by inch, to the same mental state as Nazi Germany? The Reich mantra was to reject anyone who was not up to the Aryan standard. They did their best to eradicate the mentally ill, the physically challenged, the intellectual, the Jew and anyone who went against their lockstep, brain dead ideas. Ms. Clinton and your people, you are no better than anyone else. Perhaps, it is time to have some humility.

An Ode to Bowie from my column

On Sunday, January 10, 2016, David Bowie, born David Robert Jones, died of an 18 month battle with cancer at 69 years old. David Bowie was a pioneer in music and he had the gift of reinvention. He was an icon to expanding one’s horizon from A Space Oddity to his last album Blackstar. He sang with Bing Crosby, Mick Jagger and with Freddie Mercury and Queen. If that isn’t the epitome of an ability to fit in anywhere, there is no comparison of ability. He had a long lasting marriage. That in itself is a remarkable accomplishment in everyday society, but monumental to celebrities in the public eye. Even though he was, quote, “naming their children the night they met,” Iman was reluctant to get into a relationship with him. Her take on their relationship is summed up as she fell in love with David Jones, “David Bowie is just a persona.” Bowie and Iman have been married 22 years and have a 13 year old daughter together. Both Bowie and Iman have a child by a previous relationship. Bowie was a performer who embraced glam in the 70’s. At that time, no one could quite figure him out. It was a daring act that worked because he had the talent to back up a gimmick. In the 80’s, he hit his stride and changed his persona once again. He traded suits for the leotards and boa glam. He morphed (back) into an Englishman who could get your feet moving in his 1983 hit, Let’s Dance. He supported various charities and performed with Alicia Keys in 2006 Black Ball in support of Keeping a Child Alive. He finished his final album, Blackstar just days before his death. His longtime producer, Tony Viscotti, has called the album a parting gift from the “Thin White Duke.” Viscotti goes on to say that to the end, Bowie did things his way, even to the end of his time here on earth. David Bowie, a persona, musical chameleon, and entertainment master who could find a fit in the most extraordinary places, will be sorely missed.

Honor our Vietnam Vets from my ClashDaily column

The Vietnam War was a tumultuous period in the United States. It began November 1, 1955 and ended April 30, 1975. Many Americans were against the war and made no secret of their disapproval. Many of proper age who protested somehow managed to avoid the draft and combat, either by luck, or by going to Canada, as did ex-president Bill Clinton. The others were as John Fogerty wrote in a song, Fortunate Son, those whose families were wealthy enough to provide other options. “Some folks were born to wave the flag. Ooh, they’re red, white and blue and when the band plays “Hail to the Chief” Ooh they point the cannon at you. Lord It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son son. It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one.” Others were older and the draft didn’t affect them. It was the era of the Hippie and their particular ideology of “Free.” They advocated free love, free living in a utopic society. Anyone who has experienced combat will tell you that our freedom is not free. The people who were against the war spit on Vietnam vets as they returned home from the battlefront. That was a not the homecoming those who suffered the hell of jungle warfare were expecting as returning warriors. Perhaps those who blamed our military sons for their participation in war they had no choice but to fight have repented of their actions, perhaps not. Maybe a closer look into the personal history of one vet would give the unrepentant cause for shame. There was a young man born to a family with an extensive military history. His uncles served in WWII, his father in Korea. However, their legacy of armed service went back even further. The family was comprised of Native Americans, Cherokee and other bloodlines that fall under the name of Cherokee. They had fought in the American Revolution with the colonist rebels and again on the side of the Confederacy. Defending hearth and home ran in their blood, as they were part of the Long Hair Clan, protectors of the Tribe. He grew up listening to the stories these family members told of combat, of the honor and duty military service entailed. He passed his days playing with little toy soldiers, dreaming of the day he could take his place among those who were called on to defend the country and the Constitution. He never entertained the idea of any other life. For his eighteenth birthday, Uncle Sam gave him orders to go to Vietnam. His twin brother followed soon after and both were serving in different combat zones. He fought through the jungles, often without proper equipment, food, water or ammunition. He was fighting as Agent Orange was dropped on the jungles to deforest the hiding places for the Viet Cong, or Charlie. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam. When he returned to the United States, the army had to bring him and his fellow combat vets into the airport in the dead of night to protect them from those who scorned their sacrifice. He had difficulty getting any type of job if he admitted to being a Vietnam vet. It was certainly not the homecoming he had envisioned, and times were hard for him. His leadership example was followed over time by his siblings, both brothers and sisters, to join the Army. All were proud to serve their country with honor, continuing the family legacy of protectors of the country. Regardless of his treatment by those who preferred to remain ignorant of his personal sacrifice, He returned to military service after a time out to further his education, where he was tapped to participate in Panama and Granada, as these were jungle theatres as well, and completed numerous air jumps into harm’s way during his career. Now retired from service, he struggles with the after effects of Agent Orange, as do many others with whom he had served. Some of the effects of the insecticide poison are diabetes, birth defects in the children born to Vietnam vets, lung damage, cancer and many other maladies. PTSD was not a byproduct of Agent Orange, but is a mental disease to itself that makes everyday living extremely difficult. The time for the Vietnam vet to be honored has finally come, but for so many it came too late. Too many died before their due and undying respect was given to them for their time running and fighting through the jungle. Today, so many stop this man to thank him for his service. That is all very nice and is appreciated, but the nightmares and trauma can never be fully erased, for any of those who returned. So, as this Veteran’s Day approaches this Wednesday, remember those who paid for the freedoms that are often taken for granted. Some will be attending services to honor the fallen, some cannot make it, due to debilitating illness or family members of the fallen go in their memory. Veteran’s Day is not just a bank holiday. It means something so much more and should be given the weight and honor it deserves.