The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places…from Valverde, NM, along the Florida Coast to St Albans, VT…From Mt. Zion to Mt. Ida to Lookout Mountain along the banks of the Tennessee…In New Lisbon, New Carthage, and New Hope. From Mt Olive to Nickajack Gap. From Tullahoma TN to Fredricksburg, VA. Along the Rappidan and the Rappahannock, along the Susquehana and the Monongahela. In 1864, William T. Sherman would march his Union Army From Atlanta to Savannah waging total war, and would become a hero to the North and a terror to the South. At Chancellorsville, where perhaps the greatest military tactician the United States has ever seen, would launch a risky but rewarding surprise attack against the Union, only to have his right hand man taken out by the effects of friendly fire and pneumonia. From a sleepy corner of farmland in in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg that would cost 51,000 killed and wounded, to a peaceful stream called Antietam, where a costly Union victory was had. From a word meaning place of peace called Shiloh, and twice along a creek called Bull Run…and finally, to a small crossroads called Appomattox Courthouse…where after four long, brutal, bloody years of fighting that pitted brother against brother, father against son, and would claim 650,000 lives, the United States would be ripped in two, and then brought back together. By the wars end, the tiny town of Winchester, Virginia would change hands 72 times. For months outside Petersburg, the Union Army would lay seige, only to gain control after so many lives were lost. It was a war that would end up defining the true meaning of freedom in America, and eventually the world. It became a war that turned a nation from killing each other wholesale, here in America, in old American towns with old American names, into the kind of nation that could no longer conceive how that was possible. All who fought in it, or experienced it from the home front, would be affected by it. It would be a war that would go on to define the very soul of America, and changed the face of the nation forever.

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We Are Right–And You Know It

I’ll not bore everyone to tears with the latest from Donald Trump. Whatever I post will be old news anyway by the time I finish this, since the news cycle from the White House lasts about three minutes these days. . But it is his behavior and reaction to the events in Charlottesville which provided the impetus for this piece. I also am writing this immediately following a protracted series of overnight shifts, so I hope it isn’t too disjointed.

First it was the flag, now the statues, that have the hard right showing faux outrage over , “our lost heritage.”

That is a truckload of crap. You know it, and so does everyone else.

As I have said before, the Civil War is one of the best-preserved parts of history in any country. No flag or Confederate statue is needed for remembrance, because it’ one of those formative events in our history. Right now this is nothing more than an excuse to bitch and raise ire and that lovely Faux Outrage. Why? BECAUSE IT’S ALL THE LEFTIES FAULT.

Yes folks, you caught us. We the Liberals in America want you to forget the Civil War, so we’re taking down the statues. Do you have any idea how stupid this sounds? Seriously, when was the last time any of you even stopped at one of those revered memorials? When you got stuck in traffic at their roundabout?

This is–plain and simple–rank opportunism. Use the statues to get an excuse to march, spread hate. and bitch about all us lefty snowflakes. Well bite me. This snowflake doesn’t melt.  You’re wrong, and almost all of you know it. Pretending to be outraged is not only silly. It’s extremely transparent. Or maybe we Libruls have special extra clear vision?

As I also said before–and it’s ironic here–the Germans get it. They outlawed everything Nazi. Never in world history has a winning side allowed the losers to populate the country with their own memorials, and it’s time we stop it here and now. NO ONE is going to forget the Civil War. Get a clue folks.

I say this again so it’s clear. At cemeteries, battlefields, and certified historic sites, I am fine with Confederate flags and statue galore. You see them at every major preserved battlefield. In fact when I visit those, I observe, and pay proper respect to the sacrifice made there. But I’m not doing it in front of a courthouse or other public building.

Rant over–comment on the blog site if you like.

A Remembrance, and A Beginning on Father’s Day.

PREFACE–I wrote the following piece a couple of years ago, mostly as a way to document and remember my Father and some things he taught me. Since then, I have posted it every Father’s Day weekend. This year I post it with special love and affection for my niece Maddy White.  She just graduated from high school with more honors than I can begin to count, and has been–will be–a credit to all her “Grandaddy” believed and wanted for ALL his children and grandchildren. I could be a better Uncle, and I have been at a loss just what to say to Maddy upon her recent milestone. While I do have something on the way to her of a material fashion, no present can ever measure what she means to us all, and how much she is truly loved. Sweet Maddy, this might be the best gift I can give you. To remind you that you come from the strongest stock, and some of the strongest women in the world.  I love you and I sit in awe of you, your intellect, and your ability to love and be loved. I hope you enjoy this. I am SO proud of you!

My Father: A Political Journey

My Father was not in politics, but he was an avid student of the political wars, and passed it on to me. So, I suppose it’s all his fault that I’m writing this. He was born in a small West Virginia town, but was fiercely proud of his heritage. A small village nestled in the Allegheny Mountains was his place of origin, and also the place we laid him to rest not all that long ago. While I was floating along a river over the Mother’s Day weekend, I found my thoughts travelling to him.

My Dad was a War Baby as he called himself. Born in 1940, his earliest political memories were of Franklin Roosevelt and how much West Virginians loved FDR. All of them except my Great Grandfather who called him Rosenfelt. He never liked FDR for some reason, but I digress. Dad was a good student and ended up at Berea College for a short time, but came back to West Virginia to do what he really loved.

My Dad was a pattern maker in the foundry business by trade. He built wooden patterns for iron moulds. In other words, if a company made glass ashtrays, there has to be an iron mould for it. But, before the mould can be built, there must be a hand-built wooden pattern. That’s what my Dad was good at, and he came up the hard way. Not as a master of his trade, but as an apprentice. Wood patterns became obsolete years ago, but my Dad still loved working with wood. Examples of his furniture building are legendary. Professionally, he realized he needed to expand his knowledge and he did, by learing the foundry business inside and out. Eventually, he became a respected figure in his chosen field.

Politically however, it was a longer, more convoluted journey. From the FDR of his childhood, he progressed–or regressed some say–to voting for Barry Goldwater. I was only three, and my sister was born the very day LBJ hammered the Man From Arizona, but when I found this out later in my life, I never let him off the hook. Why? Because in just eight short years my Dad went from political neophyte to progressive liberal. He voted for George McGovern, and was proud to proclaim it loudly. I was eleven when Nixon trounced McGovern, and I thought it was the greatest thing in the world! What did I know? I was convinced keeping Nixon was what was normal, and right. This contributed greatly to my feelings of betrayal and scorn when Nixon’s later issues forced him out. Mention Nixon to me now, and you will not get pleasant conversation from me.

My Dad meanwhile, moved to Wisconsin. Close enough to Madison for the liberal politics to not only rub-off, but get totally under his skin. My first time visiting, I recall his stories of Paul Soglin. Soglin was a UW Grad student who ran for Mayor of Madison, and won. Not just once, but several terms. In fact, Soglin is Mayor of Madison right now. His third stint in office, so Dad was onto something and he knew it. The fatal bombing of Sterling Hall on the UW campus was still fresh in everyone’s mind, and liberalism was rampant wherever Dad turned. He watched, he listened, and he passed it on to me. Not in any overt ways, but just by exposing me to what he saw and knew. He drove me around the UW campus, and I saw Sterling Hall. I also saw Mifflin Street where the infamous student activist block parties were held in 1968. He educated himself in these matters, and as a result, taught them to me. He also taught me another valuable lesson. Wherever you are, learn about that place. It makes you understand the people, and places you inhabit, and you are forever enriched.

Dad was a vocal and proud supporter of Jimmy Carter. He felt like Carter was the fresh face Washington needed, I agreed and was by that time old enough to understand and appreciate the politics of the country. Sadly Carter did not live up to our ideals, but was certainly one of the most decent men to ever hold the office. When Carter ran for re-election, I was old enough to vote at last, but could not bring myself to cast a ballot for him or Reagan. I wrote-in Senator John Anderson, and have never once been ashamed of that. Dad? Well he voted for Dick Gregory! Who got quite a kick out of hearing that from me 27 years later.

As I went through my adult life, I voted in every election. I voted for candidates of all parties. One thing Dad instilled in me was to vote for the person, not the party. When I began covering politics full time, he seemed to get quite a boot out of it. I can recall several times on the phone with him driving home after a long day in Frankfort. He wanted to hear every detail. I like to think I made him proud. But I have to thank him for my political life. He gave me the interest, and the insights to make my own choices. I was able to have good relationships with both Democrats and Republicans in Frankfort. That’s all because of what he taught me.

My Dad had a tough last few years. Wracked by illness, and pain, he never seemed to lose the zest for politics. Sadly, he just couldn’t keep up with it as well in his later years. Every press conference I attended. Every candidate I interviewed. Every rally I attended. Every story I filed. All I could think was, “I wish he could see me now.” I admit a bit of hubris on my part, and he was easily able to wring that out of me. In 2007, part of my head appeared on the New York Times web site in a picture. I could not wait to tell him, and his response was less than charitable. Something along the lines of when I got a story in the Times, I should be excited. I deserved it and I knew it!

I guess my whole reason for this piece, is to show that people can work together, and voters can vote for the best people. Not an ideal or philosophy. Not only can we do it, we should celebrate that idea. Dad managed to come full circle in his life. When we laid his ashes to rest, it was within a half-mile of the building where he was born. I think his political journey was a pretty good trip too. A great example for all of us on how to listen, absorb, and evolve.

Election ’16–Purging The Toxins

Since last Tuesday, I have been struggling with many questions, just as I know many others are doing right now. But I’m not quite as worried as some people believe I should be, given the outcome of the election. I hope I can explain this without sounding like an apologist or wishy-washy. Am I happy Donald Trump has been elected? No. Of course not. But the total gloom and doom isn’t something I agree with or believe.

The one, overriding thing everyone needs to remember is that this is how our country works. America can’t be satisfied. Someone, in every city you visit, is upset at any given moment with the President, or government. The end result of this is that during periodic election cycles, The United States has to throw-up all over itself, and expel the toxins.

THAT’S why we have upheavals, and 180 degree turnarounds in our leadership preferences. Every administration, no matter their political bent, eventually wears out the welcome and voters make changes. Pay attention to what I wrote in that last phrase. THE VOTERS MAKE CHANGES.

We saw it with Barack Obama, when millions showed up to elect him twice.  We also saw it with George H.W. Bush who lost to Bill Clinton in an election that he should have won easily. We saw it with Jimmy Carter who lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Sooner or later the country convulses and either burps or pukes. and we force change. It’s always difficult for someone. The Left or Right always will have discontented people. It’s the price of change. But discontentment can, and has forced people to sit up and notice what they either did wrong, or how they can become stronger.

I’ve also been telling fearful people that the peaceful transfer of power is THE hallmark of our country and signals the rest of the world that, no matter how it might seem to them, we got it right in our system of government.

As for the balance of power in the Supreme Court. I’m not that concerned. First of all, no one has died or retired yet.  Second, the Court normally gets it right. Oh sure they still screw up. Citizens United leaps to mind. But once a Justice walks into the building, they work, and rule via rule of law–and this is important–by citing precedent. One thing to know is that the Supreme Court is loathe to even consider cases that were already decided by their own body.  You have to keep in mind that the current court upheld Obamacare, and handed down the Obergfell Decision (gay marriage). Something few expected with Conservative  Chief Justice Roberts at the helm of the court. Roberts even cast the swing vote on Obamacare.

As for obliterating all of the changes made by the Obama Administration? Some of it might be affected, but the wholesale steamrolling simply will not be nearly as likely to happen. Primarily because the GOP won’t have the 60 seat bulletproof Senate majority they really need to accomplish that.

In short–the sky ain’t falling, and there’s no real dictatorship on the horizon. Just as there was none on the horizon for the GOP when Obama was elected. Take a breath folks. No matter which side you choose, there’s a lot of work to be done.

There are storm clouds. But if things get screwed up, use your vote. Brandish your vote like the weapon it really is.

What Would Hunter Thompson Say?

As the campaign screeches to a halt, at long last, I caught myself last week musing about the late Hunter S. Thompson, and just how he would have covered this one. I can only say the invective would have been thorough, and thick. If you think HST hated Nixon (he did), you can just imagine how he would feel about this run.

My guess is he would have gone on the road a brief time with both campaigns, then retired to the National Affairs Desk to monitor the entire, sordid mess. Beginning each day at the crack of 2pm with Huevos Ranchero, a large pot of coffee, a dozen grapefruit, and an rasher of bacon–all consumed poolside as he perused the various daily rags from around the country. Topped off with a full pitcher of Margaritas. After that, Hunter would begin his day.

He would doubtless have all the major cable-news outlets on at once, swearing at the idiocy at the same time. I trust the word “CAZART” would be uttered more than a few times a day, along with language I likely cannot repeat here.

But given all that, I think HST would simply be shaking his head, and wondering how things got so bad, so fast. He would be wondering how a greed-head like Trump managed to get THIS CLOSE to the Presidency, while at the same time trying to figure out how a “grifter like Clinton”, managed to pull off the same thing on the other side. Wondering all the while where he really was and what the hell had happened.

I’m fairly sure he’d be cranking pages out of the red Selectric, and slipping the Mojo Wire into overdrive. I KNOW he’d have blown the deadline. What I know for sure is the end result would have been glorious to read, and to watch as it happened. I suspect he’d be sorry George McGovern wasn’t there to see it too–and given the caliber of this election, he might even want to apologize to Nixon. (I know–a pipe dream).

On election night, he would have went to wherever Gary Johnson was, and spent the evening there. Lamenting the fact that had Johnson run on the Freak Power ticket, he would have had a fighting chance.

“Aw Mama is this really the end?”

 

 

Own Your Vote, and Stop Blaming The Media

PREFACE-I’m writing this in the middle of a multi-day headache siege, and I hope it is at least somewhat coherent. If not–sue me. It’s midnight.

 

So in the past 72 hours, I have heard, and seen numerous people from ALL sides of the political spectrum, claim the media is manipulating news surrounding the Presidential Election. Furthermore there are numerous claims the media and some other sinister people are Brainwashing voters.

Really?

After the absolute shit storm of this campaign with thousands of allegations and unfounded rumors, it comes down to blaming the media? AGAIN??!!

Sorry, but we just aren’t that good, folks. Oh sure, I’d love to admit we all have regular meetings and assemble secretly to conspire against EVERYONE, but you and I both know it’s just not so.

It finally comes down to this. If you’re paranoid, think everyone is out to ruin you, and this country, and steal your vote, then it’s your own fault. TV’s have an on/off switch. So do radios. Newspapers can be folded or just lie unpurchased. Computers can be ignored.

If you feel like the electoral process has been hijacked and stolen from you by the media–it’s YOUR FAULT. Why? Because if you are so weak-willed and small-minded that you can’t defend your true beliefs, and back-up your so-called ideals, then it’s YOUR FAULT

Why? Because you read. watch, hear, and read what you want to, when you want to, on your own terms, and it applies equally to ALL sides of the political spectrum.

The overriding theme of this campaign isn’t mud, deception, or even Democrat versus Republican. It’s people using the philosophy of convenience. What is that you ask? It’s really very simple. It’s the overwhelming number of voters and citizens who somehow manage to ignore and submerge their own set of values and beliefs to back a candidate, just because it’s convenient.

I’m really going to be interested to hear just how many voters truly express remorse for how they have acted, voted , and lied to themselves, in a post-election self-examination. Because that’s what is happening all over the country. People lying to themselves to justify a vote.

What the hell has happened to us?

Election 2016-Historic Beat Down Coming, But I Take No Joy

Before I get blasted as an Uber-Liberal GOP basher, let me just say I have always been an advocate for a healthy multi-party system when it comes to U.S. Politics. Just as I have always been a supporter and believer in our government’s system of checks and balances. One of the reasons I’ve never been particularly upset or concerned about appointees to the Supreme Court, is that usually the court does the job very well, and the way it should be done. Oh, there have been notable exceptions like Citizens United, but on the whole the court usually runs well.

I long for the time when Republicans and Democrats could sit down and compromise, work things out and actually govern.  Alas that time seems to have passed and may never return.  You can speculate all day who’s at fault, but safe to say, there is plenty of blame to go around. I feel for the GOP and Republicans because in these circumstances, Donald Trump is absolutely the wrong candidate to be the party nominee.

Trump is beyond a mistake. He is a bull in a china shop and carnival barker rolled into one being. He’s beyond a bad reality show. Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to The American Character and American politics since Richard Nixon. He is the Drunk Uncle of the Republican Party. Yet, I hesitate to continue tarring the GOP with this Bozo. He simply chose the GOP to inflict himself upon. What Democrats should be feeling first, and foremost, is relief that he didn’t decide to do it to them.

But none of this is the worst part of the story. The worst part, is that Donald Trump will be dragging the GOP down with his sinking ship. Not just the Presidency. The ENTIRE party. The down-ticket races and possibly even local elections.  If you think the damage he’s caused so far is bad, he still has three months to dig the hole even deeper. There is a very good chance Trump’s candidacy will sink the Senate candidates in nearly every race for the GOP, or at least seriously weaken most of them. With that will come the loss of Senate majority for the GOP. If things go totally in the tank, Hillary Clinton could become President with a Democratic controlled House and Senate, and the possibility of as many as three SUPCO appointees in her first 18 months. (although I think the GOP can and will likely hold the house.)  Think about that Republicans.

As for the Presidential Election? It could be historic in the numbers. The GOP Defeat could be the worst-ever.  But it won’t kill the GOP. It will, however, bomb it back to the stone-age politically. The GOP will find itself in a similar spot as it did in 1961, and throughout most of the 60’s Democrats in the White House, Democrats in the House and Senate all in control. It took decades for the GOP to finally re-emerge. Granted, it could have happened sooner without Nixon and Watergate, but THIS is what the GOP is facing right now.

Despite what those critics of mine claim to know, (they don’t), I am not anti-Republican. What I AM is anti-militant partisanship. Just being angry and mad at others just because they aren’t Republican, (Or other parties).

We need MULTIPLE healthy parties, and right now we don’t have them.