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Homage to Old Cinematic Friends ©

Posted by Howard Denson on January 22, 2022 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON


Some acquaintances grumble about me because, unlike them and apparently the Western world, I don't tend to suffer from depression. That's not true since deaths and illnesses of close ones signal that life is not all skittles and beer (whatever the hell "skittles" are). Then I'll read that the earth's core will cool by and by, and we'll lose our planetary magnetism, and our atmosphere and oceans will just slip away, and we'll be stuck here as barren as a potential writer of a book entitled The Wit and Wisdom of Donald Trump. I even envision the skeleton of a Red Hatter still holding onto a sign boasting "I haven't had a new idea since 2016."

See? That's depressing.

An English teacher would fuss about a run-on, and a Red Hatter would demand, "Do you have to drag politics into Everything?", and you and I would have been dead for millions or billions of years before the core cools off.

To head off such thoughts, I fall back on mind- and mood-lifters, especially films of a by-gone era. I won't list them all, since you may not want this column to expand into an entire book.

First, let's focus on Cary Grant. 
Every eight months or so, I'll realize, "I haven't had my North by Northwest fix lately," and promptly sit down to watch the tale unfold again. You can't help but noticing some contrasts between what characters did in the Fifties and what they would be able to use instead in the Rueful Twenties of the 21st Century (my phrase thanks to the pandemics).

For example, when Roger Thornhill takes refuge in the train room of Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), you are apt to be surprised at the size of the room. It has its own separate shower-toilet area. You're unlikely to find anything like it in the U.S. today. The "toilet" today on an Amtrak sleeper is a hole just large enough to be used and providing no privacy at all. (I like to think there is a luxury option that I was too cheap to buy.)

Writers sensitive to sexual orientations will naturally focus on 
Martin Landau's character (Leonard). A younger viewer may argue that he was the first overtly gay character in a major motion picture. Actually, that's not accurate, although I was too naive to spot such subtleties back in my salad years. Marlowe and Spade (in Bogart films) had some gay characters. In a bookstore, Bogart's detective assumes a "prissy" demeanor as he charms a pretty sales clerk. In other films, Franklin Pangborn often played "prissy" characters (my level of insight at initial viewings).

A minor irritation of the old films is the incessant smoking and bits of stage business with cigarettes. Besides being unhealthy (yes, Bogie and John Wayne, you know what's in your future), they really show a lack of creative thought: We can't think of what the two should do, so let's have them light up a cigarette.

And then there's Cary Grant in Howard Hawk's screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby. Grant plays an intellectual paleontologist David Huxley a.k.a. "Mr. Bones" because of his interest in a dinosaur skeleton. Chaos ensues in his life with the entrance of scatter-brained Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn). Both actors have to interact with a leopard (Baby) given to Susan by her brother. And . . .

Oh, hush. If you've read books about Hitchcock and his films or watched documentaries about the making of Hawk's comedy, you may idle away hours musing about how the crop-duster scenes were made, not in Indiana, but in California . . . and how the leash on Baby seems to separate when Baby is supposedly pulled along by Susan Vance (they melded two shots into one to get the general idea).

You've had time to look up "skittles," so you know it refers to nine-pins, an early version of bowling. A skittle is a pin. And a beer is a beer, but a good cigar, they say, is a smoke.

Which you shouldn't do.

It's Possum Time on Pershing Road ©

Posted by Howard Denson on January 22, 2022 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

For a couple of years, I have been feeding a feral cat whom I named "Blinkers" (not that he/she responds to the name). Blinkers was getting a little closer and said silent meows to my meows at him/her.

Four years or so ago, I had rescued a kitten that I named Peepers because she was small enough to peek through the ventilation holes in the brick foundation. Peepers wound up with major health problems (a mega-colon, meaning the intestines were removed and the stomach attached directly to the anus). Like Blinkers, Peepers had been trapped, fixed, and released back into her old territory. If she had developed mega-colon in the wild, she would have crawled under some house and died.


So I wasn't going to try to force Blinkers inside, but I was getting her to move closer to the back steps since thoughtless visitors complained about stepping in the food dish on the front steps, causing me to say, "Look down, yo-yo." One neighbor complained that the food dishes were attracting raccoons from nearby Fishweir Creek. 

Unfortunately, when I was putting out food dishes, the orange inside cat Pinkie Pissoir (inherited from the late sister-in-law with no manners at all) broke past me and ran at Blinkers, who hightailed it for safety. Twenty or so minutes later, Pinkie returned and got close enough for me to grab his worthless hide. A day or two later, he again chased Blinkers but returned after five minutes. I learned (finally) how to keep him from the back door, but Blinkers shies away whenever I step outside. To myself, I may represent Truth, Justice, and the American Way, but, to Blinkers, the sight of me signals that an orange demon will soon be on the attack.


So I continued to put food out, and it was gone by morning. Occasionally I'd sneak a peek and see Blinkers nibbling away.

One night around midnight, I tip-toed down the hall and looked out. A furry creature was nibbling away, but it was an opossum. I watched the possum eat for a couple minutes, and, when it was finished, it went down to a water bowl. They look like of gross so a natural inclination is to run them off, but I had learned that possums are good to have around since they rid an area of pests and vermin.

Possums are largely beneficial. They munch on rats, mice, grubs, carrion, snakes, etc. They don't get rabies (due to low body temps). They do have fleas, but so do rats, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks.

 
One night, I peeked out the back door and saw TWO possums nibbling away, one quite busy, the other a little nervous about visiting a strange eatery during a pandemic.


I'm hoping Blinkers is still getting enough food. Possums are more than capable of fending off a mere domestic short-haired cat. Whatever, we must keep the critters happy.


The other day, She Who Knows All spotted the carcass of a possum on Park Street (one house away from this abode). I'm wondering if it was one of the two possums. 


In my idle moments, I try to decide if there is a lonesome possum out there missing a partner . . . or one relieved that it has one less competitor for food.


In another idle moment, I'll wonder why Hollywood was using possums in the original U.S. Dracula film instead of rats? Surely Southern California didn't have a shortage of rats. Gossip says that even today the place is crawling with them, of two- and four-legged versions.


Looney Tunes Time ©

Posted by Howard Denson on January 22, 2022 at 12:00 PM

By HOWARD DENSON

All of my life, I have been aware of nutters who have made sweeping, stupid, and bizarre pronouncements:

--"You believe this, by God, because it's a-coming in the future. We're going to have a war between the [N-word] and the whites." Enough idgits have bought into that as they hoped this or that act would spark that war. Think the Manson family and bunches of others.

--"That damned Eisenhower is nothing but a communist." He wasn't, of course, but (as leftist critics said) he was just a golfer . . . and someone who liked to read Zane Grey ("If Zane Grey didn't write it, Ike didn't know it" was one totally unfair assessment).

--"Chief Justice Earl Warren is a communist." The John Birch nutters had this message on billboards. 

Then we had (and have) nutters who resurrect those who have shuffled off this mortal coil: Elvis, of course; JFK (who was alive but severely handicapped in a remote hospital); John Lennon (MSM hoax, you know); and so on.

So it's not surprising that Red Hatters spread the rumor that John Kennedy Jr. is alive and didn't perish when his small plane plunged into the Atlantic. A "what if" scenario involving Junior brings up fascinating possibilities. Though wary about entering the political arena (not surprising when your father and uncle have been offed by nutters), he was handsome as a movie star, articulate, and more stable in his personal life than Papa. His administration likely would have outshone that of Dubya or The Donald.

The Red Hat nutters began predicting a Trump-JFKJr. ticket in 2024. Oh, you know he didn't die in some damn easily faked plane crash despite what MSM claims. He's going to save the day for . . . for . . . yes, you've got it, for Donald J. Trump.

There's a big problem, of course: Assuming that JFK Jr. were still around, what makes the nutters think he'd be satisfied with being No. 2 on a ticket for the GOP (Goofy Ol' Party)? Wouldn't a bumpersticker look better with "JFKJr.-Trump for 2024"?

Bear with me now because I want to go out on a limb. Isn't it more logical that JFK Jr. would want to run on a Democratic ticket? Joe's a good guy and would be glad to pass the baton to him. Kamala is young enough to run on her own in another year.

But who would be his running mate? We won't know that until we check with Vladimir Putin.

Ah, well, it's time for Red Hatters and Democrats to mull over the political adage: You organize with what you've got.

The Farcical and the Far-Fetched ©

Posted by Howard Denson on January 1, 2022 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)


BY HOWARD DENSON

Once I recognized that Aaron Sorkin’s “Don’t Look Up” is a farce, I could enjoy what unfolded during the flick. After all, comedy focuses on our flaws and foibles, but farce emphasizes that we’re all basically idiots.

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So we do not encounter dedicated but flawed characters as in Sorkin’s “The West Wing.” Although “Don’t Look Up” has some of the same spirit, almost everyone comes off looking like idiots. The two protagonists, the scientists who have discovered the life-ending comet, are dedicated and competent in their field, but one’s a middle-aged psychological mess (Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy) led astray temporarily by a blonde news media star (Cate Blanchett as Brie Evante), while the other’s a young woman with barriers up (Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky) to keep at bay the world and a personal life.

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The media get a well-deserved going-over. The continual emphasis on happy talk and entertaining trivial overwhelm the characters’ abilities to recognize Something Damned Serious. By contrast, Fox’s alleged news actually focuses more on angry talk than happy talk, but the morning shows and chat shows on all networks may dwell too much on the transient than matters worthy of real attention.

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In reality, if our planet was faced with destruction by an asteroid or comet, the media would step forward. The Iran hostage crisis, for example, sparked ABC to create “The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage,” originally hosted by Frank Reynolds and later co-hosted by Ted Koppel. It evolved into “Nightline,” hosted by Ted till his retirement. If earth were to be struck in six months, equivalent hosts would step forward with “Countdown: 182 Days.” We like to mourn that we don’t have any more Edward R. Murrows or Walter Cronkites, but they rose to the occasion when presented by such great events as the bombing of London during World War II and McCarthyism to a presidential assassination and the space program. In farce, such individuals don’t emerge. In reality, they will.

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Meryl Streep does fine as President Orlean, wanting to avoid facing reality and trying to use political rhetoric to avoid the hard decisions. She’s happy that it’s not 100 percent certain that the comet will destroy the earth, only 99 or so percent. Eventually, we recognize that she is Donald Trump, the least intelligent and informed individual to occupy the presidency since, well, pretty much ever. At the last minute, Trump, like President Orlean, would hop on a spacecraft to find another habitable planet, but that would be in farce.

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In reality, Trump would never endanger himself, unlike Washington, Jackson, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Truman, JFK, and Carter, who actually had to show physical courage. The Donald wouldn’t wait to bug out. Trump was looking for a Great Action that would establish himself as The Greatest President Ever, so he envisioned building a silly wall to keep out drugs and criminals (even though most entered the U.S. through regular crossings). A Great Mission to Save Earth would be ideal for the 45th POTUS. Blow up the damned thing and go down in history.

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With a tip of the hat to “Farm Film Celebrity Blow Up” on “SCTV,” major farces with serious messages often end in a way that would please Big Jim McBob (Joe Flaherty) and Billy Sol Hurok (John Candy), who delighted when a celebrity guest “blow’d up good, blow’d up real good!”

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Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) ended with the American bomber getting through USSR defenses and then blow’d up the world real good by setting off the Reds’ doom’s day bomb. Vera Lynn sings about us meeting again as the atomic clouds roil on the screen. Scenes were shot and thankfully not used of a massive pie fight in the War Room in the White House (yes, the one that Reagan wanted to see when they settled in back in 1981).

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The original movie version of “Casino Royale” (1967) had five different directors, including John Huston, as they tackled a spy-parody using Ian Fleming’s James Bond. It was full of silliness with Bond being played by everyone from David Niven to Woody Allen. (Each director’s segment generally goes on too long.) There’s an atomic pill involved, and, of course, the film ends with it exploding and everyone being in heaven, except for Woody.

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“Cold Turkey” (1969/released 1971) is a Norman Lear flick featuring Dick van Dyke and a host of fine comedic actors. It’s about a town in Iowa trying to quit smoking and going through horrible nicotine withdrawal. Animal groups complained when one shot featured a lap dog being kicked like a football by an exasperated smoker who is dying to smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, any cigarette. We don’t have atomic oblivion, but a penultimate scene has some individuals carrying lighters that look like pistols and others packing real pistols. There’s crowd jostling, guns and lighters falling and getting mixed up, and individuals getting shot inadvertently. Greenfield, Iowa, and a couple other towns loved being the setting for the fictional Iowa town of Eagle Rock. Hmm, and, yes, smoking has killed more than died at Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

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One advantage of this scribbling codger being of a certain age is that getting to witness the Golden Age of Television (and hear the Golden Year of Radio from the Forties and early Fifties). The name of Paddy Chayeksky would crop up frequently on “The Philco Television Theater,” and he eventually won one of his three Oscars for “The Hospital” (1971), a very dark comedy that shows everything that could go wrong in a hospital. (I was born at home, so I assume these are places where sick or injured people go. Correct me if I’m wrong.) The film doesn’t end with the world blowing up but simply leaves you with a sick feeling that you just might be better off relying on chicken bones buried under midnight under your back steps than risking a ride in an ambulance to certain death.

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Closer to “Dr. Strangelove” and “Don’t Look Up” are two anti-war films, “On the Beach” (1959) and “Fail Safe” (1964). In the former, nuclear warfare has broken out and the human race is dying of the radiation. They look for survivors and detect an erratic Morse code, which turns out to be a cola bottle caught in a window shade being moved by the wind and sending out what could be mistaken for a message. It is quite melancholy, as one character chooses to exit in a garage with his sports car, while others opt for suicide pills or a sub’s last journey so the crew could die in the U.S. In “Fail Safe,” we have accidentally nuked a Soviet city, and, to make amends, promise not to retaliate (and kill all life on the planet) if we permit them to bomb a U.S. city.

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Whether farcical or far-fetched thrillers, these films taught us to be damned careful regarding the use of atomic weapons. It may well be why neither the evil Soviet regime nor their “cowboy counterparts” in the U.S. didn’t see who really had the best weaponry.

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We may be losing this sense. The idiots of North Korea began saying they were developing supersonic missiles that could deliver an atomic missile in a flash. Although the whole thing may be simple posturing, the U.S. also says it is trying to come up with the equivalent. Both sides would create a doom’s day bomb that would invite another Sorkin or Kubrick to dramatize.

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The farcical and far-fetched may help us to regain our respect for the dangers posed by atomic energy. We easily forget about Level 7 nuclear disasters at Chernobyl or Fukushima. The latter borders the Pacific and is polluting our world. Too often we hear advocates for more nuclear power (or fossil-fuel plants), even close to a steadily rising ocean.

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So how should the world end?

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Not at all, until millions or billions of years in the future when our sun expands and consumes us? Or with us having a last supper with apprehensive loved ones? Or—?

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think I’ll opt for a pie fight.

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SOME REVIEWS:

“I’m a climate scientist. Don’t Look Up captures the madness I see every day” www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/29/climate-scientist-dont-look-up-madness

“Adam McKay on the Ending(s) of ‘Don’t Look Up’: DiCaprio’s Last-Minute Line, Streep’s Improv and Brontarocs” variety.com/2021/film/news/adam-mckay-dont-look-up-ending-spoilers-1235142363/


Bat-Guanista Crazies in Texas©

Posted by Howard Denson on September 6, 2021 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

 By HOWARD DENSON

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Far be it for me to argue that all religions and faiths have their shares of hypocrites, but let’s be candid. Individuals all over the world do have their personal agendas and do twist, or ignore, what their Good Books say.

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After all, the Ancient Greeks had on the Temple of Apollo at Delph the sayingsi “Moderation in all things” and “Know thyself,” even though (as Will Cuppy said) they only did things in excess if they were crazy about it and individual Greeks often had no more idea about who they were than we do today. We’re no better. We have “In God We Trust” on our money, even though we rarely do, and “Liberty,” which doesn’t apply to others, just ourselves.

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In the 21st Century, we have so-called Christians putting up posters of Jesus toting an AR-15 (never mind all that jazz about loving one’s enemies, turning the other cheek, and other admonitions that only a wussie commie would favor).

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We also have a few male Muslim terrorists chanting that God is all powerful: “Allah Akbar!” Most Muslims protest that the Koran didn’t say that’s the way to show proper devotion. Early on, the newer Muslims in Mecca were persecuting Muhammed’s older Muslims from Medina. By and by, some faithful wrote the Discourses of Muhammed (the Hadith). They may be compared to the New Testament written long after Jesus or to the rabbinical treatises that addressed issues raised in the Torah. We may also compare Muhammed’s rules of war to the regulations of the Geneva conventions. Avran Ara lists these rules from the Prophet:

 

• No killing of children and women

• No killing of elderly and sick persons

• Exercising patience even during war

• Not to head into war “hoping” for a conflict

• Leaving the monks and those in places of worship alone

• No destruction of property, cultivated lands and crops, etc.

• No uprooting or burning of green and fruit-bearing trees

• No slaughtering of animals for reasons other than food

• No hurting or burning bees

• No theft or robbery in the guise of war

• Avoiding destruction to an inhabited place!

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As we marvel at how noble and progressive these rules are, we recognize that U.S., Britain, France, and other countries in the West choose to ignore them. Ditto for the Japanese in the Thirties and Forties. And also for Muslim armies as they fought other Muslims or infidels. After Muhammad’s death, they lacked any clear succession, so camps favoring the Sunnis and the Shias began murdering each other with as much gusto as Turks and Greeks did to each other . . . or Roman Catholics against the Huguenots . . . or Anglicans against the Puritan round-heads.

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All of us will disdain our holy books and kindly recommendations. “God is all powerful, but He needs my help to accomplish His Goals.” Really? “It’s necessary for me to blow my ass up to prove God is all powerful.” Crazy, right? And illogical. God or Allah created all, but we blood-thirsty twats believe we are obligated to murder. Moreover, when we’re challenged, we’re like six-year-olds: “He started it! He murdered first!” Are we able to raise the dead? Do we have a Resurrection gene that kicks in when we decide we may have been rash and killed someone unjustly? It’s not discovered yet.

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Texas is just one of several Southern states who have latched onto bat-guano wacky measures. Mississippi was a leader earlier in the race. The bat-guanistas and other Trumpers believed that, if a measure had something really bonehead stupid and nutty, the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the case and rule with all solemnity: “We declare as unconstitutional the bat-guano sections of Statute #xxx-xxxx from Mississippi/Georgia/Texas, but, upon sober reflection, we also noticed the unconstitutional rationale for Roe v. Wade, so say bye-bye to it, too.”

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Texas’ “Bat-Guano Legislation” falls short in its wide-open invitation for litigants to file suit. It destroys the concept of a litigant needing to have reasonable “standing.” In a general information page, the U.S. Department of Justice has this section:

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The “case or controversy” clause of Article III of the Constitution imposes a minimal constitutional standing requirement on all litigants attempting to bring suit in federal court. In order to invoke the court’s jurisdiction, the plaintiff must demonstrate, at an “irreducible minimum,” that: (1) he/she has suffered a distinct and palpable injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct; and (3) it is likely to be redressed if the requested relief is granted.

 

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Texas knows it has gone totally bat-guano crazy, but it really doesn’t matter. “There’s method in our madness,” they would argue. Without going into litigation history for abortion cases, who would reasonably have “standing” if Susie Q. wants to have an abortion? The list is small: her parents or guardians perhaps, her grandparents, the father-to-be, and possibly but probably not her siblings. That’s it.

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Texas would allow ANYBODY who knows about an abortion, or simply suspects one, to file a civil suit, and supposedly if the case were proven, the individual would receive $10,000. You may be sitting there, frowning up a storm and thinking, “So what? If it punishes her for trying to get an abortion, somebody is getting $10,000 for a good deed. Now what’s on ESPN?”

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Really?

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When I reviewed Frank R. Donavan’s WILD KIDS back in the Sixties, I was amazed to read that it was common for, say, Charity Bradstreet to stand up in church and announce, perhaps while holding hands with young Nigel Goodfellow, “I want to confess that Nigel and I have been doing the Nasty, and I have a muffin in the oven.” (All right, an anachronism here and there.)

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Donavan also reported that courting couples would lie together in a bed with a bundling board between them. Grannie might be wrapped in quilts in a rocker close by to keep watch. The arrangement avoided burning a lot of firewood.

And, of course, Grannie might snore her way to dreamland while the couple practiced being mates.

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The bat-guanistas argue that even the Uber driver could be sued for taking a pregnant woman to an abortion clinic. Now consider the silliness of the remark. Do Uber drivers ask the purpose of their passengers’ trips? Probably not. Is it any of their business? Nope. Is the driver able to look at a passenger and tell if she’s pregnant? Usually not. If someone wants to zing the Uber driver in a civil suit, can that person tell that (a) the female is pregnant, (b) she told the driver that she was going to get an abortion, and (c) she was going to 1234 Fifth St., where she would enter Suite 6 for abortion, and not Suites 1-5 for hair styling, a lawyer, a tax official, sports goods, and a chiropractor.

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Today, if Charity Bradstreet stood up in her church or a special program at her college and announced her intention, would all 300 have standing to sue her? Bat-guanistas say they would. However, since Charity confessed her intentions, could she sue herself and get $10,000?

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Ironically, the bat-guanistas cry about murders being committed, but they seem indifferent to the deaths of fetuses and infants. It’s difficult to nail down the exact figures (not all abortions are reported to the Centers for Disease Control), but the following is a good-faith effort at summarizing various deaths for each year in the U.S.:

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about 900,000 abortions

1 million miscarriages

25,000 still births

21,000 deaths of babies during their first year

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That’s about 2 million deaths concerning which so-called conservatives don’t bother to seek ways to save the children.

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The bat-guanistas in various state legislatures, however, will propose ways to punish the women for their miscarriages. They want the females to report the deaths to the police. Some want them tried if they were smoking, drinking, taking drugs, falling down stairs, etc. They want to require funerals, even though some individuals may want to skip the folderol of funerals, memorials, etc.

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The bat-guanistas want to play God since He is falling down on the job. They may speak of the Last Judgment but may not believe that Charity Bradstreet might have to stand before the Higher Power and answer for any transgressions.

 

Bat-guanistas will not want anyone to suggest that punishment should be meted out for the crazies who shoot up schools, movie theatres, rock concerts, or church services. They apparently believe that the Good Book says, “Thou shalt not kill more than necessary.”

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On Jamestown and Juneteenth ©

Posted by Howard Denson on June 18, 2021 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

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With the political atmosphere being so strained, I was curious why Juneteenth was accepted so quickly as a federal holiday. Neither political party would seem to budge to support even a measure confirming that, say, Red, White, and Blue should be the colors of our flag. Washington has been in turmoil about Critical Race Theory, Project 1619, etc., so why was Juneteenth adopted so quickly by Congress and signed into law by President Biden?

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The answer came when an info page popped up during Rachel Maddow's show and said that 45 states had already recognized the date. That was a heck of a lot of support, even if it came with a caveat: apparently only one state had PAID holidays. Surprisingly, Texas was a state that paid its workers on their day off. I wondered which five states had been hold-outs even to a non-paid holiday. Current sources were only identifying four states: North and South Dakota, Montana, and Hawaii. Pennsylvania had ended its apparent opposition not long ago. I'm tempted to write that the Dakotas have to go to hire Rent-an-African-American to have any at all in their states, but any halfway decent researcher would discover that North Dakota really had 651 blacks in 2019 (about 6.5 percent of their population). South Dakota's African American population was about 1.5 percent of its population. Montana can boast only .4 percent African Americans. Until 1969, one resident was Charley Pride, who moved to Dallas after his music career took off.

Politicians are divided about schools teaching the Critical Race Theory, and, to be honest, I'm not 100 percent certain what the dispute is. First off, we can read books and serious articles about race, and often they will argue that the term is useless since so-called different races are really quite similar. Let's dismiss that notion for a moment and examine the assertion that what is taught is white man's view of history. Race isn't a factor, some would argue, even though slaves were first brought to the English colonies in 1619.

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The English who founded Jamestown and the New England colonies certainly had the whites' needs as top priorities. Europeans simply didn't think in terms of "how can we insinuate ourselves into the New World without destroying or disrupting the lives of the Native Americans?" It was more a matter of "we'll be nice but we want land, prosperity, and any gold you guys have socked away." The colonists were driven by other factors, religion being a factor. The heavy protestants (Puritans/Pilgrims) were settling New England, while the high church Anglicans were looking for the good life in Virginia. We could also explore the history from an economic perspective. To the north of Great Britain, the common businessmen were gaining more wealth and power, and colonies were often organized around Companies. 

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Some of all that was taught in history classes in my era and in later eons. Some key facts were ignored. For example, Jamestown was founded in 1607 and named in honor of Elizabeth's successor, James VI (of Scotland) a.k.a. James I (of England). As an elementary school student in the early Fifties, I was taught that the first women and the first slaves didn't arrive until 1619. It didn't occur to this fifth/sixth-grader to wonder about sex and the fact that the settlers went a dozen years apparently without any kissy-poo.


Things were bad, but not that drastic. For example, Erica Hahn's article, "How Many Women Came to Jamestown by 1620?", said, ". . . prior to the arrival in 1620 of the first 'Maids for Virginia', thousands of men had come to Jamestown but only about 100-150 women colonists. There were only two women prior to the fall of 1609. The Third Supply brought perhaps 40 women. In the period from 1610 to 1619, while most of the ships brought no women, a few seem to have brought some wives and servants, often no more than one or two, and one or two bringing 10-20 at most. In 1616 there were 65 women and children in Jamestown. A generous estimate would assume that 50 women were adult women."

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The National Park Service has a website on "Historic Jamestowne" with an article about "The Indispensable Role of Women at Jamestown." It mentions that two females, a Mistress Forrest joined her husband in 1608 (and apparently died soon after and disappeared from history). However, she brought along her servant, fourteen-year-old Anne Burras. Miss Burras quickly married  carpenter John Laydon and over the years gave birth to four daughters before dying about 1627 (in her early thirties). 

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In 1609, Temperance Flowerdew arrived with about 400 other settlers, but 80 percent of them died (that's 320!) of disease, sickness, or starvation. Temperance returned to England, but she returned as the wife of the colony's governor and, when he died, she married another governor.

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Hahn noted "The very first in 1607 included 144 men and boys, of whom 104 remained in the new colony. Only 38 were still alive when the first supply ship arrived in 1608." Let's emphasize that 106 had died, almost 74 percent.

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In the British comedy series, Edmund Lord Blackadder says to his dense servant, "Baldrich, we are not home to Mr. Cock Up." Unfortunately for the Jamestown settlers, their bosses did not have a cunning plan for establishing Jamestown. Instead, they had guestrooms welcoming Mr. Cock Up and all of his sons, siblings, and nephews. The whole venture was a mess, and, since slaves from Africa hadn't appeared yet, they were abusing their own people. Notice the failures of their cunning screwups:

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--They didn't include actual farmers among their settlers. Many of them were "gentlemen" hoping to make a fortune and return to England. (And unfortunately a gentleman back then, and later, was someone who sat on his butt, sipped tea or brandy, while others did the actual work.)

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--They weren't trained about how to establish a community. Today, we train to learn the best way to establish settlements on the moon or Mars.

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--They didn't use their best judgment about how to select a site for a settlement. They settled in a swamp of all places and received constant visits from grateful mosquitoes dying to share their hospitalities.

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--They didn't know about nutrition, but they did realize that half of their crews (and passengers) might die from scurvy and malnutrition. If they settled on land with limited food resources, the problems continued. It wasn't until the early 1750s that a Scottish surgeon, James Lind, proved that citrus fruit helped to control scurvy. His findings were overlooked, and it wasn't until the 1790s that the British ships began including citrus in sailors' diets. One estimate was that two million sailors had died from scurvy from 1500 to 1800. 

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Grade school education for a long time emphasized the lovely Pocahontas sparing the life of Captain John Smith. Nevermind that the Captain knew how to spin a tall tale and market the possibilities of a grand adventure. In reality, the girl would have been ten or eleven years old (and, after she married John Rolfe, she only made it to about twenty-one before dying likely from a common disease in England). Disney helped to promote Smith's yarn. 

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Two British ships had raided Portuguese ships carrying slaves, and, needing food, The White Lion, stopped at Jamestown to arrange a swap: some grub in exchange for over twenty slaves (or indentured servants) captured from the Kongo and Ndongo kingdoms in what is now Angola. Some sources say this was the start of slavery in North America. It wasn't, of course, since the Spanish had slaves in St. Augustine and elsewhere in the 16th Century. Their expeditions included free blacks and enslaved ones. (Almost 42 percent of the slaves originally on the Portuguese ship, San Juan Bautista, had died during the crossing. Keep the percentage in mind.)

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When our Navy family lived in Norfolk, we made weekend trips to Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, and Jamestown. We had transferred up there from Pensacola, which was founded before St. Augustine but got wiped out by a hurricane or two when the settlement was on Santa Rosa Island. Our school books had referred to Jamestown as the oldest English settlement, but, when we visited, there was nothing but ruins. Since no one likes living in a swamp, they had moved their town over to Williamsburg in 1699. Oldest English settlement, my eye.

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Although I'm more of a meerkat than a human equivalent of a lion, tiger, or bear, I do have a connection with Jamestown. In fact, several of my great-great-whatever-grandparents came into North America through Jamestown (one line entered via Philadelphia and another via Boston). The Densons, Lollars, and O'Rears landed first at Jamestown, most in the 1600s. Typically my forebears settled in Virginia, and the next generation or so moved down into North Carolina, then down into South Carolina and Georgia. An alternate route would be to go over to Tennessee and then down into my home state. 

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Some of them overlapped in Jamestown/Williamsburg. I wondered if one g-g-g-grandparent liked another . . . or if each thought the other(s) were horses' asses. Meerkats don't leave biographies nor journals. We can only guess at how they thought and about what. If we find individual graves, then we discover they have acquired a veneer of respectability. Grass will do that.

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I've taken two DNA tests (different companies). I struck out in trying to determine a Creek or Cherokee g-g-g-grandmother (or father?). Alas, she had traveled many decades with me. One test gave me a Neanderthal forebear. That was all right, but I would have swapped the individual for a Creek or Cherokiee. Both tests had me with about 2 percent African. One test sent out revised figures later, and I'm never sure if I'm referring to the current one. At any rate, I have forebears from Sub-Sahara Africa (West Africa), from regions that are now located in Mali, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Berkina Faso.

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The Kongo and Ndongo slaves (from what is now Angola) were about as far away from West Africa as Georgia is from New England, so my g-g-g-grandparents likely didn't come from there. 

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The point of all this? Probably little, except to another meerkat. However, we do need to know where we came from, who we are, and where we are going. It's not race. It's awareness. Another problem. Those in power were energetically exploiting laborers. If they needed seamen, they boshed them on the 'ead, mon, and, when the unfortunates regained consciousness (or simply sobered up), they were at sea for the duration. If those with power were unable to hack it in the swamps or on dry land with cotton crops, they "recruited" dark-skinned workers who were supposedly better able to handle the heat and malaria. Was it racial? Oh, yes, very much so.

Clear Need for National Health Service ©

Posted by Howard Denson on June 18, 2021 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down another attempt by the GOP and the right to throw out the Affordable Care Act. Good for the Supremes. The right previously argued that only the tax element of the ACA barely got it into law, but (among other complaints), once the tax penalty was removed, the ACA was nonsense because nobody had a constitutional right to health care.

That struck me as odd since the U.S. Constitution opens with this: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

"Promot[ing] the general Welfare" clearly involves the health of a nation. It is likely that the Founding Parents weren't more explicit in writing the Constitution because medical standards were so bad during the late 1700s that most times you were better off NOT seeing a doctor, unless you were bleeding badly or had a compound fracture.People lived in fear of hospitals back then and during the 1800s because hospitals were where folks were sent to die. As the 20th Century rolled on, physicians and hospitals were invaluable. At one time, a person could reasonably argue that health could be a local matter, or even a state matter. Many aspects certainly can be handled locally, but pandemics prove that national involvement is necessary. At one time, one could argue that, if you had bad health, that really meant you made unwise choices; you deserved what you got. It was a variation of the Puritan Work Ethic. That meant, if you succeeded and were rich, it meant that God was pleased with you. In health, the Puritan Ethic would mean that, if you weren't in thel hospital or emergency room, then God favored your blessed hide. The pandemic drove home the emptiness of that argument and makes us listen to others as they note that they or close ones have come down with cancer, ALS, renal failure, etc.

We do have fools who spoil their health and invite disaster. They could be like Bix, Bunny, Bird, Lenny, or Janis. They drank too much booze, swallowed too many pills, or shot up too much heroin. Government isn't able to control or fix such individuals. On the highway of life, they invariably seek the quick exits to oblivion. Such individuals often don't run up that many hospital bills since the doctors' main diagnoses may be simply declaring them D.O.A.

From Tom, Dick, and Harry, to Thomasina, Ricia, and Harriett, everyday Americans living relatively blameless lives don't need to see themselves destroyed by medical problems and bills. A National Health Serivce for the U.S.A. is clearly overdue.



When the DOA Knocks on Your Door ©

Posted by Howard Denson on March 21, 2021 at 2:55 PM

By HOWARD DENSON

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You are reading your local fish-wrapper and notice a story by Luci Lavander. She writes about colorful personalities and tells us, “Acme Manufacturing’s assembly line works overtime to send its products to a loyal customer in the deserts of the American Southwest. When it’s time for a lunch break, an elderly shop foreman, Sam Pickett, 55, grabs his banjo and entertains his fellow employees.”

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You can deduce a little about the writer. You don’t see her handwriting, so you can’t tell if she puts a heart in place of the dot in Luci, but you can confidently predict that she is about 18-24 years old. Only someone that young would think that “elderly” starts in the fifties.

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Not having all that much to think about, I asked other college retirees when you may safely call someone “elderly.” Definitely, not in the fifties, they all agreed.

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Those in their sixties said it didn’t apply to them. Those who were seventy kicked the can further down the road.

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Recently, I reached the big 8-0 and realized, “Holy cow, I’m elderly.” I didn’t feel much different from what I did in my seventies, sixties, or even fifties (except for many more trips to the bathroom). As I processed that information, I was shocked when I realized, good Lord, I’m even an octogenarian. I had gone whole decades not even thinking that I was a septuagenarian . . . or sexagenarian. In my fifties, I didn’t think about being a quinquagenarian nor a quadragenarian in my forties.

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I shouldn’t have been so ignorant since I received monthly letters from the D.O.A. That, of course, stands for the Department of Aging. The D.O.A. has had two sections: the Division of Coots and Codgers and the Division of Biddies and Grannies.

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The D.O.A.’s pamphlets explain that coots originally were duck-like waterbirds (Fulica americana in North America), while biddies were young chickens. Petitions bombard Congress and the White House to add another division: the Division of W.T.F., which stands for Whippets, Turkeys, and Frogs. The new division would cover all those who don’t identify as male or female. The petitions are often self-defeating because some advocates want separate divisions for each of the 50 or more genders they say exist.

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A big brouhaha occurs along party lines. Democrats favor a new division or even 50 of them. Republicans cite fiscal responsibilities and oppose one or more new government divisions unless they were privatized using funds funneled from Social Security and school lunches.

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The word “brouhaha” above comes from the D.O.A.’s monthly publications in which older citizens are encouraged to stand up for what they are and be old. Each month has words that must be memorized and used frequently, especially when D.O.A. Home Support calls. A few of the words include the following:

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Bamboozled

Bean counter

Brouhaha or hubbub

Cattywampus

Discombobulated

Doohickey

Flabbergasted

Flibbertigibbet

Floppy (for PCs)

Gee willikers

Good golly, Miss Mollie

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle

Ice box

In like Flynn

Jalopy

Juke joint or juke box

Jumping Jehoshaphat

Kerfuffle

Kilroy was here

Knee high to a grasshopper

 

 

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There are many other words, but I have space limitations. My latest effort is to say “I love playing my LPs on the Victrola.” You don’t use the word “vinyl” and certainly not “analog.”

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I dread the telephone calls with the rep from the Coots and Codgers division. I never have gotten off on the right foot with them. “Is this Mr. Harold Wilson?” (Why is it always a female caller? Why can't I have a coot or codger . . . or even a wannabe?)

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I correct her (with the name on the byline to this piece).

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The caller asks, “Do you know what day of the week it is?”

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I tell her, “I’m retired. Every day is Saturday or Sunday.”

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“Yes, Mr. Wilson. Who is president of the United States?”

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An easy one. “It used to be Vladimir Putin, but now I’m pretty sure it’s Kamala Harris.”

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Silence. “Very amusing, Mr. Wilson. I can see why they have you down as a ‘D.S.A.’ ”

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“Disagreeable Smart Alec?”

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“No, Mr. Wilson, they’ve upgraded you to Disagreeable Smart Ass. If you disagree, and, of course, you will, you may go online and file a complaint. Now let’s go through the terms. When you were young, how young were you?”

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“Got it. I was knee high to a palmetto bug.”

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Tremendous sigh, followed by a series of more despairing sighs during the rest of the call. Finally, we end with “That’ll be it for this month. Will you stay on the line for the client satisfaction survey?”

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I say good-bye and hang up. Let them hassle Harold Wilson. He probably deserves it.


TO COMMENT: Send your remarks to [email protected], and they may be added to the posting if appropriate. (Why? Spammers were trying to use “comments” to publicize lotteries or the like.)

 

Struck Blind on the Way to . . . a Cow Pasture? ©

Posted by Howard Denson on March 12, 2021 at 12:35 PM

By HOWARD DENSON

 

In the Sixties and sporadically later on, I emulated Samuel Pepys by keeping a journal. Unlike Pepys, I was handicapped by not having a Great Plague or a Fire of London to write about. However, in my small way, I could write about the nature of white Southerners and bigotry back then.

 

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A Hollywood scriptwriter would want to really dramatize my unique epiphanies. We would have melodramatic blasts from celestial brass, a plucking of harps, and perhaps a booming drumroll as yours truly was struck blind on the way back from a political rally in a cow pasture south of Bessemer, Alabama.

 

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I had been a flunky journalist for The Bessemer News, a weekly published by The Birmingham News, and perhaps that was one reason thatd the big paper's city editor, Al Stanton, wanted me to cover a white’s supremacist rally, but he told me they didn’t want to glorify the gathering. The News only wanted a couple of paragraphs to let them know that the press was there. And, alas, since I am no Charlton Heston fighting mightily against the will of Jehovah, any music would come from a car radio tuned to a big band station.

 

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I wrote a brief piece, and it ended with the warning of a wannabe Nazi, “Don’t put your trust in Barry Goldwasser. He’s a Jew and a conscientious member of the Communist Party.”

 

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Later, at home, I knew I had been changed, not so much as Saul being transmogrified into Paul on the road to Damascus, but I wasn’t the same person as I was earlier in the year. I wrote a fuller account for my journal, and, although I didn’t know it, that rendering was much better than the two-graphs I submitted. It was closer to the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe and others. I didn’t discover Tom Wolfe until I finished graduate school and began reading some of the books that my profs at Florida State and Southern Mississippi had mentioned for the curious to read. That journal is somewhere in the paper kitchen midden of my life.

 

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I had earlier attended a rally at one of Birmingham’s armories and heard such speakers as former Mayor Art Hanes and other allies of Bull Connor and his segregationist buddies. As a young Southerner, I was still under the influence of the myth of the Lost Cause and the glorification of the heroes of the Confederacy. The principles of Sovereignty, Our Agrarian Way of Life, and Self-Determination had been beaten into my soul, and the heroes metaphorically wore gray uniforms instead of shining suits of armor.

 

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I knew there was violence and evil in the racism back then. It was . . . out there, somewhere, but always away from me. It was a stranger to me, but these rallies brought home the malevolence in the hearts of whites back then. I possess flaws enough, but I didn’t carry hate in my heart, perhaps because I was lazy and it was easier to like people. Will Rogers said he had never met a man he didn’t like. I didn’t measure up to that admirable standard. I disliked many a person, but I didn’t dislike an entire race.

 

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That naivety was about to change at that rally sponsored by a white citizen’s council. At the pasture, we all pulled our cars into parking spots, and, as evening and darkness came on, the headlights of muscle cars and pickups shone their headlights on what looked like the Confederate Battle Flag pinned to a woven wire fence. I had to do a doubletake because what I saw wasn’t quite the CSA flag. It did have a red background with a blue St. Andrews cross outlined in white. The blue stripes didn’t have any stars in them, as the CSA flag had. The center of the flag had a circle of white. In the center of the circle was a red thunderbolt, very much like the wolfangel image that fifteen or so military or organizations used in Germany in the Twenties and Thirties.

 

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Since I will read practically any periodical, I had examined newspapers of several pro-white groups then: the Ku Klux Klan, of course; the white citizens’ councils under a couple names; and the American Nazi party. Their publications lambasted the Commies and fellow travelers in Washington, the flaws of inferior races, and the insidious power of Jews, along with extensive tracts from Henry Ford and a bit of fakery called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I noted that they apparently would rather die than check their spelling or hire a proofreader.

 

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The rally in the cow pasture featured three speakers. After writing the story, I quickly forgot one speaker’s name. It may have been Edward Fields or J.B. Stoner, big names in the anti-black movement then. One speaker was a young man of my age, but I saw that, to look older, he had grown a moustache not like Hitler’s but vaguely like Clark Gable’s. He wore a Sam Browne belt over a white shirt. (The Nazis had their militia called the Brownshirts; Mussolini’s group was called the Blackshirts; and a white supremacist group would wear—what else?—white shirts.) The young man’s shirt had Reich-like trapezoids on the collar tips, and his black arm band had the thunderbolts. He was the prophet who warned us about the traitorous Senator Barry Goldwasser of Arizona.

 

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I long remembered the unusual name of the third speaker: Connie Lynch. He represented the National States Rights Party (NSRP), which he had helped to found in 1958. His more formal moniker was Rev. Charles Conley Lynch, and I heard a quick reference to Northeast Florida. Recent research revealed he was a minister in the General Assembly of Jesus Christ, a California sect. In California, this native of Texas had worked as a plasterer and a lemon picker.

 

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He had been an Army cook during World War II and after the war was reordained into the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. (The original name of the group founded by Wesley Swift was White Identity Church of Jesus Christ–Christian.) After Lynch’s death, this fanatic cult from St. Augustine evolved into the Aryan Nations. He was also the leader of the now-defunct Unite White People Party of America, Inc.

 

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From skimming their publications back then, I noticed they spent much of their time suing each other instead of, say, the NAACP. (An attorney friend in Bessemer found it hilarious that he had two clients that no other lawyer in the city would touch: the KKK and the NAACP.)

 

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One obit says Lynch was a fiery spokesman who was rabidly anti-African-American and anti-Jewish, and he was a chieftain of the United Florida Ku Klux Klan. He gained nationwide notoriety for his hate-filled, fanatical, violence-provoking speeches. Lynch was also a member of the now-defunct Christian Defense League, the paramilitary Minutemen, and he was a state organizer for the NSRP. He was described as a “sinister-impish-featured man with a somewhat cleft chin.” In the dim light of the cow pasture rally, I don’t recall what he wore, but an obituary said he often wore a black Kentucky colonel bow tie and a Confederate flag vest with his suit or Klan robe. He called himself a “war hero” and a “Jap killer.”

 

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For the longest time, I could reproduce his spiel and his dialect, but I stopped my performances because a black friend would generally appear at the crescendo of his aria. He began being reasonable about “our colored friends,” but then he would underline some great transgression. Next, he referred to “Negroes” or “Nigras” (the terms most often heard in the days before “African American” was invented). He would underline another great wrongdoing. The next section contained offenses committed by [here you must stick in the n-word]. With his voice reaching a fever pitch, perhaps saying that “by the year 2000 Americans will all be the color of tea or coffee because of the mixing with . . . [shouting] these black b------ds.”

 

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That, of course, is when a minority friend appears, and I’d be babbling like an idiot trying to explain, no, no, really, that’s not me talking . . . that was the Rev. Connie Lynch, no really! I was imitating him! He’s real . . . or was and—”

 

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Ironically, such speakers at the rallies always presented the blacks as sexual aggressors. They didn’t mention that their forefathers had loved slavery, in part, because the slaves’ cabins functioned as a plantation’s bordello.

 

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The attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, caused me to remember a contrast with the white supremacist speakers of the Sixties. Invariably, a speaker wanted to stress their rebelliousness and determination to stand up for what is right. “Up in Washington, those Kennedys [later “that LBJ”] forget that we have guns. We have M-1’s and shotguns and pistols.” You could see the speaker thinking through his word choice. The Justice Department and/or FBI had infiltrated all of the groups. The feds were gathering evidence.

 

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The speaker would falter for a moment and then say, “Yes, we have guns . . . and . . . they shouldn’t forget it.”

 

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Notice that they didn’t say they were going to use their weapons nor their bombs. They stopped just short of sedition, at least at the rallies I covered.

 

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Unlike today’s right wingers.

 

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The insurrectionists of 2021 have been irresponsible enough to tape themselves in the act of destroying federal property and threatening to hang politicians. One Oath Keeper was a 66-year-old Navy veteran, Thomas Caldwell of Clarke County, Virginia. He sent this message: “If we’d had guns I guarantee we would have killed 100 politicians . . . They ran off and were spirited away through their underground tunnels like the rats they were.”

 

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His attorney essentially argued, ah shucks, it was just political boilerplate, influenced by big talkers in the movies. No biggee, your honor.

 

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One website enables us to see parallels between the Sixties and 2021: “The NSRP organized demonstrations in several southern states, often resulting in violence. In 1964, an NSRP rally in St. Augustine, Florida, resulted in injuries to forty people after sympathizers attacked civil rights demonstrators. The attack was incited by NSRP member Connie Lynch, who told hundreds of supporters, ‘I favor violence to preserve the white race … some n-----s are going to get killed in this process.’ ” Another website quoted him: “I believe in violence! . . . All the violence it takes to scare the n-----s out of the country or to have ’em all six feet under!”

 

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Chickens came home to roost for Lynch: “In July, 1966, Lynch and two others were arrested, charged, tried and convicted of inciting to riot in Baltimore, Maryland. He served 13 months in Maryland State Prison.” Upon his release, he eventually worked as a house painter in Jacksonville and was buried someplace in Northeast Florida when he died at age 58.

 

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Do left-wing groups ever commit acts of violence? Oh, yes. Are their acts of violence equal in severity and scope to those committed by white supremacists? Not really. Do Americans have a general tendency to be more violent than necessary, often committing thoughtless shootings, murders, etc.? Lord, yes.

 

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It would be helpful if they were struck blind on the road to Valdosta, Hoboken, or Pismo Beach just as a celestial voice ordered them to shape up or ship out to Hell.

 

TO COMMENT: Send your remarks to [email protected], and they may be added to the posting if appropriate.

 

Thanks to . . . That Man ©

Posted by Howard Denson on February 12, 2021 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (4)

 Since I fancy myself as a Wild-Eyed Moderate who has voted Republican and Democratic over the years, I want to emphasize Donald Trump's one great contribution to the American political system:

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He helped to identify the weaknesses of our political system and demonstrated to the country how vulnerable it was to being transformed from a democratic republic to an autocracy.

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Earlier, he showed how to trash the political environment and how he could weaken and nearly destroy our political system. Whereas Socrates urged Athenians to identify their terms and whereas others in our history have urged us to come to an agreement about what is common sense, That Man has emphasized that, to him and his followers, terms don't mean diddly-squat.

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Perhaps unintentionally since he certainly is a lazy thinker and not a planner at all, That Man has gotten those who could be serious politicos to endorse the Leader and to pledge personal fealty beyond what honorable men and women would do.

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His lapdogs are yapping, in effect, that nothing he did in January should be given serious examination. There's no foul if he is going out of office, they argue (incorrectly).

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In reality, they have given That Man and any successor the green light to do a hit-and-run on the Constitution and to our democratic republican system.

 

We speak of the "ship of state," but let's refer to the country as an airliner. The craft is most in danger when it takes off and when it lands. Assuming that adequate maintenance and training have occurred, the craft should meet its destination without problems. Proper training, maintenance, and procedures should keep the plane de-iced in freezing weather, should see that it avoids storms that may have wind sheers, and should make sure that no nutter has placed a bomb on board.

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Our country is most vulnerable when one administration is coming in for its final landing and a new crew is taking over.

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We speak of significant dates in our history: 1775, when the preliminaries for the revolution got underway, 1776, when we declared our independence and seceded from the British Empire, later when there was a surrender and finally the swearing in of George Washington, a man noted for his sound judgment and his probity. However, an equally important date occurred in March 1801, when something remarkable occurred. John Adams, our second president, elected as a Federalist, was defeated, and Thomas Jefferson, of another political faction, was seated as president. One party WILLINGLY gave up power to its opponents.

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This piece won't go through all the election controversies in the 1800s (there were plenty), but NOT ONE losing candidate called upon his supporters to storm the Capitol and make certain that the man with the most electoral votes wasn't seated as the next president.

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Not one . . . until the (in)actions of That Man and That Leader on Jan. 6.

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JFK defeated Nixon by about the same electoral vote as That Man defeated Hillary . . . and about the same as Biden defeated him.

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They didn't entreat their followers to emulate storm troopers and to stop the steal. Except for That Man, they acted like grown-ups in a democratic republic and put on the good face of a good citizen by accepting their fate. After losing a gubernatorial election in California to Pat Brown, Nixon exploded that the press would not have him to kick around anymore. Privately, no doubt, losing candidates undoubtedly wept and possibly cursed, and their close friends and families assured them, now, now, you're a good person . . . you're going to be all right . . . yes, you'll be back on the playing field soon enough.

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And they were.

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I have used "That Man" to refer to that man because I am inspired by a 97-year-old loved one. Almost exclusively over the years, she has voted for a Republican, but in 2020 she could not bring herself to vote for . . . [we pause as she searches for a term] "That Man."

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She voted for Dewey, Ike, Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon again for both terms, Ford, Reagan twice, Bush I, Dole, Bush II, McCain, and Romney. (I didn't ask about her write-in choices.)

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Some of us detest practically all leaders in an opposing political party. Let's compare Richard Nixon to . . . That Man. Back in our more naïve years, the opposition frothed at the mouth at the Evil Richard Nixon. Watergate was this far from taking us over the edge into the abyss of autocracy. John Dean and others have said what has gone on recently is far, far worse than Watergate.

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Moreover, Nixon was a thinker, an introvert, and a visionary. The tapes revealed his flaws when he had his minions played bad boys in the locker room of the political gymnasium. A former college basketball player, Nixon knew the rules and, as a politician, knew the rules as laid out in the Constitution. When engaged in the locker room spit-balling, he felt he was bending rules as the Kennedys and big city politicians had done for years. He was third in his Duke U. law school class and knew when to fold his tent and leave.

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That Man, of course, was no Nixon. He does not belong in our political system any more. 

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