The military has a saying, “No one left behind.” This has served our nation well. However, there is a large governing body in our country that only selectively applies this in civilian life, for the most part hiding behind the words, “for the greater good.” When Reagan took office he abandoned the “War on Poverty,” saying that poverty had won. One of the few programs that survived was the Appalachian Regional Committee (ARC). Among its achievements was the construction of a parkway from the interstate to deep into the mountains of eastern Kentucky, opening up possibilities for the impoverished. Now, under the new proposed budget, ARC will be demolished. It didn’t meet the test. I’m just glad it wasn’t a soldier.
This is from my collection called: TOTALLY IRRELEVANT REFLECTIONS
Days poured into words, a time to satisfy thoughts consumed, but a waste to many who will not read—or worse who don’t want to be reminded of mortality.
For words are, if anything, mortal, unable to stand the passage of time; in this world of nanoseconds and instant gratification, how can the written become anything more than an archived record? The printed page replaced by headlines on a screen, stories scanned and then forgotten. Is Gutenberg rolling in his grave, kicked in the side by technology? So, is my time wasted? Would I be better served by working in a food kitchen?
I approach 80; how, I ask, when only yesterday my brother called to wish a happy 40th. Where are you, my friend, how did this happen to us, two young boys listening to the Emerson sinisterly whispering “The Shadow Knows.” Evenings played out with games until we were bathed in sweat, coming home and listening to crickets sing through our open window. It was a world excited through hope and dreams, but we were too busy having fun. Where have you gone, my brother.
It is a question often asked but only answered through dreams. Both raised in the church, ignoring most teachings when teenaged, but always feeling guilty and saying we would change. We fell in love with many things but words gnawed at me for decades before finally submitting. Lady Chatterley’s lover found hidden under my bed and consigned to the trash. Not literature, it was said. No, but it was fun. I learned to love oysters, how I’m not sure, but different was exciting. A bus ride to Chicago, money pinned inside my trousers, watching hoboes fall off the train, my imagination soaring with words.
Now, the cold hardens my bones, the chill stealing my will. Winds blow time down steep hills. Marriages, deaths, they run together. What day is it? Does it matter? Yet, the words call out, pieces of a giant puzzle looking for reason. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—does this imply my happiness? Separation of church and state perhaps being eliminated with the stroke of a pen. But what of separation of state and capitalism---will it be further breached. Will the right to a fair wage as determined by the state destroy a man’s right to own a business? Hard questions. The cold presses against the window. Will we become a society where we ignore a man’s right to exist for his own sake? Or will we say man has a higher duty to the state? Questions escalate in my mind. Will we become a society eager to allow others to think while we silently observe. The cold is seeping under the door and bushing against my ankles. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear the enemy.
As a liberal have I fallen into the trap of ignoring myself for the sake of others? Is that elitism? I will give this thought. But of this I am reasonably certain; I have no opposition to society—indeed I want society to thrive but I would like to see reason applied, where reason is taking facts and applying, perhaps integrating a better word, our experiences, emotions, intelligence to grow our understanding. Reason is not to be used as a club, no more than is the Bible.
People whom I respect say I sometimes talk too much, though the written word comes far easier. In that regard, a strange matter is occurring—age pushes out more words. While I might easily forget which direction to turn, words pile up in my thoughts like cars on a Friday afternoon interstate. Fonts, Times Roman, pixels on a screen, line up as friends. I must be losing m
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WHAT WOULD JESUS DO
Years ago, rubber bands with the letters, WWJD, adorned the wrists of tens of thousands, so I wonder if Jesus was here today, what would he do politically. Would he tend to be more pro war, pro free market, pro harsh sentencing and anti healthcare for all? Or would he do just the opposite. Ever since Nixon was successful in getting southern evangelicals to vote as a block, they have supported Republican candidates. Not all evangelicals, of course, but the vast majority. So, is this just following or is it free, intelligent thought? It’s a question southern Christians need to ask themselves. Is it okay to forgive one candidate for transgression while wanting to lock up the other? Now, I’m certain I’ll be despised, called names, for my thoughts but that’s fine; it doesn’t make them any less pertinent. Why do we not hold the people who represent us to the same standards we would hold one who speaks to us about spiritual matters? Do we really think that Jesus would not show compassion to immigrants, to gays, to blacks, to anyone who society wishes to group one way or the other? Jesus would be neither red or blue, He would surround himself with latinos, blacks, gays, people of all races, and if He thought they were wrong He would tell them, but the self-righteous, oh the self-righteous, He would take a whip and run them out of the Temple. Look around at the people you know, how many are just like you and how many are different. Then ask yourself, WWJD? Would He entertain rabble or force them to leave? Would he mildly call it locker room talk when it offended millions? Would He want to lock her up for intercepted emails? Or would He look past and say, go and sin no more. So, ask yourself, who would He have supported? Then ask yourself, would He be pleased with my thoughts, or would He look for the whip.
I consider myself a free thinker so I’ll admit there are things about the Trump movement I like. Even considering that he’s made statements that expose him as both ignorant of public policy and contemptuous of liberal-democratic norms, or his inane proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. What I like is his willingness to call out the Washington establishment for what is: a do nothing, care nothing, blindness to the plight of the average person. Be it democrat or republican, that’s just the way it is.
As far as I’m concerned they could remove everyone in Washington and I wouldn’t care. Only a handful care about us. Trump vows to represent the average Joe and to rise up against the establishment elite. And I applaud that!
There was an obscure website called “The Journal of American Greatness,” where Trump was lauded. This site, no longer in existence, called for the political system to be overthrown by a man like Trump who represents the people’s will. (No coincidence that Trump is yelling about a fixed election). One of the writers suggests that Trump would effectively quieten the influence of Washington, while taking on power much like Caesar. And he would reinstall the people’s right to govern themselves. While such a task has some merit---in my opinion Congress is a failed institution that doesn’t come close to representing anyone but the elite---Trump doesn’t seem the one for the job. He is far too egotistical to effectively carry such power and he brings too much baggage to unite the people behind his revolution. I wrote months ago that if I were president I would isolate those in Congress who have no concern except for their own little causes, who have no desire to govern, so diminishing congressional influence is a good thing. I mean where were these leaders when we went to needless wars, during the financial crisis, and on and on? Someone needs to shut them up!! And unless things change, it will happen. But not with Trump. He is going to lose. If another person, say a Colin Powell, had come forth with the same passion and desire to destroy the establishment, things would be different. But the seeds of dissent have been sown and my hope is that someone with greatness will step forth to see them to fruition.
I will begin this post by saying I don't like Trump.I think he's delusional, a narcissist, and thinks only of himself. He, as my friend Bob---a trained psychologist---wrote ,meets most of the metrics of a crazy person. The way he bullies people who disagree with him,especially women, makes me think that the first time the German leader, a woman, crosses him he'll start an international incident. He complains about Hilary but with all her flaws, she has a brain.
Yet, he can still win. Why? Because across the rust belt, the Michigan's, Ohio's, Pennsylvania's, too many people have been abandoned by the political parties. No one has listened to their cries for help, not the media,not Washington, not the states. So they embrace any candidate that proposes to throw a monkey wrench into the system. How else can you explain the immense popularity of Bernie Sanders? Sanders proposed massive change and change is needed---though perhaps not his kind of change. For decades Washington, whether Republicans or Democrats, has done little for the middle class except talk. The choice to fund the government on their backs was made, no matter what you hear to the contrary. When a man can make nearly half a billion and not pay taxes while a man who makes 50 grand a year pays 2 grand shows a rigged system. When a congressman goes into office with a modest wealth and leaves a rich person, it shows the system is rigged. So, there's a rebellion happening and it's not going to stop with one election.
So, yes, Trump can win. If he doesn't, it's because his narcissism won't allow him to keep his mouth shut---and that the voters would rather take a chance a miracle will happen and Hilary will actually address the middle class issues.(I'm not holding my breath on that, however.)
I don't think he'll win but he certainly can. Voters around the globe are disenchanted with what they see. I am.
When Trump selected Steve Bannon to run his election campaign, he stepped into a sea of controversy for Bannon's affiliation with Alt-Right and its associated groups is concerning. Alt-Right is many things which you will hear about in the coming weeks, including its twisted thoughts about non-whites, women, immigrants, etc. But I want to discuss its association with a group called NEOREACTION. To get to the point, this group, which was originally composed of people with relatively high IQ's, believes the world problems can ONLY be solved by placing the decisions in the hands of a few people who will run the world like a company. In America, they urge that we have a CEO and take the power away from the people, whom they consider unable to make good decisions. I usually dismissed this as just another revolutionary protest from the intellectuals who felt they had no voice---and they were right. You certainly can't look at our Congress and be comfortable that their IQ is anything but ordinary, so Intellectuals felt shunned in the world order. So, neoreaction.
Then, along came Alt-Right and its less than intellectual base that saw these beliefs and said, "Wow, wouldn't it be neat to run the world? To do all the things we like, to get rid of those we dislike, to return control to OUR people." So, they embraced and eventually took over neoreaction. Now, this movement provides ideological fodder for Trump supporters, and because of this the movement is destined to grow. It grows because Conservatism is dying---is going nowhere--- make no mistake about that. America has seen it and said, "no thanks." Which leave the Democrats and a void that people like Steve Bannon and his groups hope to fill. I doubt it is a coincidence that Trump called Bannon's position as Campaign CEO. To many within the movement, that's a code word saying that the world finally has a candidate with the guts to attempt to take over. We should all be aware of this!!!
Alt-Right has absorbed this group, along with White Nationalism, etc, so even if Trump loses the election, Steve Bannon wins because millions of Trump zealots now have an organization to support. That's why he accepted the position. Both Bannon and Trump share the idea that one man (it can't be a woman) can make America "great" again. By the way, this is probably another code word for the movement.
Building a wall, stop Muslims from entering the country, denigration of women---these appeal to unconscious bigotry, that sentiment that many ( we all know them) hold in their hearts just waiting for a chance to be political correct and spew it out. So don't be fooled, know who and what you're dealing with. If you believe in our democracy, don't take it for granted that it will always be safe. IT WON'T!!
When you think of the election, try to put aside your Party affiliation and think how important being the President is to the world. Forget all the issues and concentrate on the people running.Would you want a man who gets vindictive anytime someone says something bad about him? Would you want a man who believes his sacrifices to make money equals the sacrifices of those who gave their lives? Would you want a man who said on CBS that he had no relationship with Putin and never had been in Moscow but said on national television months before that he had visited Putin in Moscow? People, no matter what you think of Hilary, this man is DANGEROUS!! This man is capable of acting out of anger to destroy the world as we know it. Think about it---do you really think that building a wall make any sense? Okay, we can make improvements but not with this man. He is running solely on appealing to anger and seems to get worse every day. He's NOT going to win but for the sake of reason, reassess your thoughts about him if you plan to vote Republican. In a few weeks, his Party will step aside and leave him alone. With his latest actions, I don't think they'll have a choice. The only issue he can run on is hate, and he will fan it for all it's worth. HIs latest rants, his lies that he doesn't seem to know he's made, makes me wonder about his sanity,
So, here's a poem I like to make me temporarily forget the madness. It's be a man named House.
How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day.
To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.
Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
Falls the remorseful day.
Have you ever been reading a book when suddenly the author throws in three paragraphs describing something---just out of the blue? I call that literary whoop-de-doo. It’s the author’s way of saying, “Look what I can do.”
I once listened to a series of lectures on writing sentences and fell in love with long sentences. And this is against my impatient nature. I have to go back and edit out the simple sentences because if it was up to me I’d say, “See Jane run,” instead of “Seeing the man, a look of hate etched on his face that even the week long stubble couldn’t hide, Jane hiked her skirt and called on the skill she hadn’t used since running track in high school.” I speak in short sentences because I want to get it done, but writing is a different animal. You have to convey information in an interesting way.
I enjoy reading Pat Conroy, the way his sentences flow; to me it’s like watching Picasso paint. But not many are him. Not me, for certain. If you want to read the wonderful use of simple sentences and beautiful dialogue, read anything written by Elmore Leonard. He has great timing, and timing is everything! If you like more description, try Cormac McCarthy. The Knoxville native does it his way and it works.
The older writers—Faulkner, Hemmingway, Wolfe, Agee, etc---were descriptive, sometimes to a fault (read Agee). But a page telling me what she was wearing and why is a bit over the top.
And speaking of that, has there ever been two more disliked Presidential candidates in our history?
On my way to NYC, sitting in an airport, so have a good week.
My name is Richard Biggs and I'm a writer. My latest book is about Jerry Allen LeQuire, a convicted drug kingpin, who rejected two offers from the CIA to work for them, and has been in a federal prison for over 30 years.