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I Will Be On Local News Tonight

October 4, 2015

I was interviewed by WKOW-TV (Channel 27) today and will be on the news tonight at 5:30 and 10:00 regarding lights on the bike path where a violent rape took place over three weeks ago.  I have been a strong advocate of lighting the path.

The American Fear Of ‘The Outsider’

October 4, 2015

For weeks my heart has gone out to the ones who are fleeing the ravages of war in Syria.  The small children who trek the long miles day after day alongside their parents with the look of such sadness in their eyes when filmed for newscasts has touched my heart.  The world effort to make a change in their lives by relocating them to nations that can provide safety and economic gain is surely a good thing.  A moral thing that should call us to action.

So it was with utter dismay when I read Saturday that Donald Trump while running for Republican presidential party nominee stated “This could be one of the great military coups of all time if they send them to our country — young, strong people and they turn out to be ISIS.”

Trump’s vision of America and my vision about who we are and what this place is all about are very different perspectives.  Very different.

The Trump way of looking at the influx of immigrants who might speak a different language or eat with different spices or connect with God in their own way is not knew.  That however does not make his statement any less sad regarding the current folks who need our help.  But it is worth reminding ourselves that xenophobia has always been a part of our history.  It is also most important to note that it has also been shown to be severely misguided.

In 1789 there was a massive national angst about French people when the fear of war with our former ally during the revolution spun out of control.  People then there calling for the expulsion of the French immigrants and even calling into question restaurants at the time who served French food.  It was simply absurd.

In World War 1 the great fear were the Germans who had come to this nation to make a better life and were called into question about their loyalty.  In the second World War it would be the Japanese who would be rounded up and sent to camps.

In the recent past children from Central America were treated horribly while trying to find a place to shelter when in California.  It was shocking to see that bus of kids surrounded by angry and loud white protesters.

There have always been those who seek to place national angst on the outsider and try to damage the human spirit of those who for whatever reason are slightly apart in custom or religion than the majority of the residents of the nation.  How pathetic and sad it has been for our nation to have to then read our history about the ways so many have had to deal with prejudice and endure the undermining of their attempts to make life work and live out dreams.

We are better as a nation when we hold firm to the guiding principles that this nation was founded on and move forward in the human spirit that binds us all one to another.  Our history confirms that fact.  Our inner compass tells us that to true.

Let us end the war on ‘the outsider’ and work to make this nation better for all.

World Looks At American Gun Violence And Wonders What Is Wrong With Us?

October 3, 2015

The Economist, in June:

The regularity of mass killings breeds familiarity. The rhythms of grief and outrage that accompany them become — for those not directly affected by tragedy — ritualised and then blend into the background noise. That normalisation makes it ever less likely that America’s political system will groan into action to take steps to reduce their frequency or deadliness. Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.”

Happy 90th Birthday To The Grand Ole Opry

October 3, 2015

When I was a child on many a Saturday night the radio that always rested on the wooden buffet in the dining room would not only be turned on but equally important physically turned in such a fashion to best be able to hear WSM radio.  The Grand Ole Opry was best able to be received in the cold months in our Hancock, Wisconsin home–as anyone who understands radio signals knows.  It was always getting the radio in just the right location and also using the cord placement that worked as an antenna effect which allowed the nation’s longest running radio show to fill our home with music and laughter.

Today the Opry celebrates its 90th birthday. In an era when new and improved is just expected there is a real charm to the idea that this radio show continues to endure.

Over the years this blog has operated I have been pleased to post many times about the music and the stars who have played such an important part in our country and also in my life.   I have commented on their triumphs and felt sadness as they left us for the biggest stage of all.  I have recalled the joys of attending the Opry and also being able to see some of those same ones perform in other venues where they were always content to let anyone who wanted to get an autograph or picture to do so.  After all, as I was to learn from watching Porter Wagoner, Little Jimmy Dickens or Charlie Louvin among others, the show was not really over until everyone had a personal memory to take home.  They simply do not make entertainers like that anymore.

There is a richness that I carry with me from having had Saturday nights with the often scratchy signal from Nashville coming over the radio back home.  Or telling Whispering  Bill Anderson after a show how as a kid I used to impersonate him by standing on our  picnic table in the back yard and pretend the garden hose was the microphone.  Then came puberty and my country music career ended.   I still see Bill laughing at that comment.

Many memories and thoughts will flood Americans around the nation as we celebrate this slice of Americana tonight when the big red curtain goes up at the Opry House.   When trying to pick one song that sums up the mood and magic of the Opry from over the decades I decided to post one of my favorite entertainers and singers who stood on the famed wooden circle.  Not only would Roy Acuff, “The King Of Country Music” get people to tap their feet to the music but during the commercial breaks he would do tricks for the audience at the Opry House with his fiddle bow balanced on his nose or with his famed yo-yo tricks.  He felt being an entertainer meant when one is on the stage they have a role to play.    He played his part at the Opry with perfection for decades.

So Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry!

Jeb Bush Totally Wrong About “Stuff Happens”

October 2, 2015

From the tin-ear and wrong-headed department comes the following.

Today Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that there isn’t always a useful government solution to mass shootings and other crises because “stuff happens.”

Really, those were his words.

Speaking at an event in Greenville, South Carolina Bush’s comment came in the midst of expansive answers about the Second Amendment and how people respond to school shootings.

“We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think that more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion — and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

This is just incredible.

After having gun laws undone (assault weapons ban) and sensible gun control legislation blocked (background checks) by those elected officials bought by the NRA it is simply unfathomable how anyone can then say gun violence is just in the category of “stuff happens.”.   How could there be any other outcome in this nation after decades of less gun control than the deaths that make headlines all the time in this nation?

The words of Bush show his shallow and callous regard for the victims of gun violence and a weak-kneed approach to running for the GOP nomination.    If Bush can not speak with credibility to this issue of gun violence when it has once again smacked the nation in the head how can he ever be assumed to make correct judgment calls about anything that matters?

If however there was some need for a tax break for the wealthy Bush would have been front and center to explain why government had to make it happen.  But when it comes to guns and the death toll they cause in this nation Bush is not caring at all.

His Mom must be so proud of Jeb.

It should be noted to Bush that other nations have found ways to not have stuff happening!

Why National Background Checks Are Needed For Buying Guns And Ammo

October 2, 2015

Family members of Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer let it be known today that he had sought mental health treatment.  Yesterday he wore a flak jacket and brought at least six guns and five ammunition magazines to the school in Oregon and killed nine people.  Investigators found another seven guns at the apartment he shared with his mother.  A flak jacket with steel plates and five magazines were also found at the school.

Investigators have recovered writings believed to be his that include ramblings about his racial animus toward African-Americans and general feelings of anger about being isolated and unable to make relationships.  It was also learned that he was kicked out of the army.

Harper-Mercer, who died during a shootout with police, was armed with handguns and a rifle, some of which were military grade. The weapons had been purchased legally over the past three years, some by him, others by relatives.

This all underscores who easy it is get guns, that we have too many guns in circulation, and how we need to be more aware of the ones who for mental health reasons need to be red-flagged so not to be able to obtain or keep guns.

Study Finds Shooting Sprees on Increase While NRA Has Grip On Congress

October 2, 2015

The New York Times had a must-read editorial in the paper today about the gun violence this nation has allowed to happen.  Readers will know I have commented and argued for the federal research on gun crimes to be again funded and that is one point this editorial made.  The whole piece can be read here.

The gun lobby has such a grip on Congress that it has successfully squelched most federal research on the problem. It wasn’t until last year that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prompted by the White House, issued a report confirming that mass shootings have been rising significantly in recent years.

In a 13-year study, analysts found that while the average number of annual shooting sprees with multiple casualties was 6.4 a year from 2000 to 2006, that number jumped to 16.4 a year from 2007 to 2013. The study found that many of the gunmen had studied previous high-profile shootings and were attracted to the attention that mass killers received when they staged lethal attacks.

Modern high-powered weapons, adapted from war and unscrupulously marketed on the home front, have unfortunately provided the means for a shooter to act out his anger and despair in a matter of minutes. The state-sponsored citizens report on the gun massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six workers in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 concluded there is “no legitimate place in the civilian population” for fast-firing rifles and large-capacity magazines that were invented for the military but have flooded the American marketplace.

These are the problems that political leaders should be discussing after the latest gun tragedy. Democratic presidential candidates have not ducked the issue. Hillary Rodham Clinton has repeatedly called for greater gun safety, telling voters, “We have to take on the gun lobby.” Bernie Sanders, who as a senator from Vermont has been criticized for not being strong enough on the issue, firmly endorsed President Obama’s gun control agenda after the Oregon massacre. He said he is tired of sending condolences to grieving families after these brutal murders.


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