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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Secret


So many people, even some of my relatives, are talking smack these days about finally being fed up... not with the riots or crime in the streets, or the ineptitude of local governments to deal with these things... but with conservatives... or any people like me who support our president. They blame this one man for all of the civil unrest, the breakdowns in the urban areas, especially Democratically run major cities, and even the deaths from a global pandemic. They blame us too for supporting him. And they speak as if this new, righteous intolerance of the president and his ilk is absolutely reasonable.


They watch the major networks and trust that they are sifting reliable information, and well, according to them it's time to ratchet up the condemnation and persecution of all Republicans and their constituency. They speak with the solemn, self-assured haughtiness of Puritans about to round up the witches. “It's too bad about them... those who disagree with us, those who have totally different sources of information; life's wastrels who have taken the wrong path, who have somehow come to such wrong conclusions, and now endanger our carefully constructed paradigm.”


The “Left” reacts to the latest actions taken by the president as the last straw, even though in reality he drew that short straw the day he was elected, when President Obama and VP Biden went to work immediately to totally discredit him, in the process misusing their powers and the once impeccable lever of the FBI... and others. Thus three and half years of baseless accusations which they cleverly seeded, and the subsequent fruitless investigations, have created a pervasive distrust and suspicion... Mere suspicions then reinforced by the Media who whipped up every accusation, usually derived from undisclosed sources, and then spoon fed hungry, impressionable intellects. And they have shaped many false conclusions, (perception is reality) which have sent these high-minded reformers marching, demonstrating, some rioting, some even disowning their own relatives.


It is impossible, to my greatest frustration, to change the mind of a person against their will... regardless of what facts may exist, so I will give the conservative arguments a rest. Here is another angle which I wish my self-satisfied relatives would consider. What is missing from our country, and what is impossible to form unity without, is... forgiveness. The kind that is the product of grace... First embodied by God's grace, defined by many Christians as “unmerited favor.” Sadly, tragically, America has lost its use of forgiveness, and a close relative, Forgetting.


The old, oft-used quip in our American mindset used to be “Forgive – and forget.”


When Iron Tail, Blue Horse, Little Bull, Red Shirt, Little Chief and Flies Above rode with Buffalo Bill in The Wild West Show in London, they were forgiving and forgetting... more or less. Each had his own blend of these precious values. When Civil War veterans from both sides met and broke bread together after that terrible war, they were forgiving and forgetting. The country as a whole could not have healed and prospered without these things.


When the Japanese people went to work and built an enviable new economy after the horrors they suffered at the end of WWII... under American Democracy, they were forgiving and forgetting.


When Jack Roosevelt Robinson led his race into professional baseball, they did not take a knee... they swung away. They knew better than anyone about apartheid... but they still embraced the opportunity to change the face- and the future of America. And they did. White kids like me were soon collecting baseball cards with their faces on them... and they were heroes in our impressionable eyes. And it was because they entered the game with dignity, and forgiving and forgetting, changed history and helped correct injustice in our country. Soon every sport had its own Jackie Robinson, and America was never the same. When Sammy Davis Jr. ran with the “Rat Pack,” he did the same for the American entertainment industry. And on and on it went.


What was their secret?



Racism and injustice could never be totally stamped out, but in my America, and I have known a wonderful cross-section of Americans from all walks of life, there has never been any discernible organized racism, and yet an overwhelming organized, institutional war against it. I just spent the majority of my adult life in a racially “blended” southern town, and the most discussion of race and its inevitable stepchild, racism, was when talking to my black friends, not my white ones. As best as I can tell, the whites have been “over it” for some time. But the blacks seemed to hold on to the old hurts and suspicions. Some could forgive, but some could not. And some quite transparently, would never forgive or forget. Distrust and cynicism shaped their very identities. And in a very inadvertent process of natural selection, the hopeful, ambitious, forgiving blacks moved up and out... and the others stayed in town and languished and had kids. Kids who also did not forgive or forget.


So today we have many groups of distinct blacks... but two main ones, those who forgave and prospered, and those who held a grudge and lived out their self-fulfilling prophesies. The latter group is louder, angrier, and more frustrated than ever, after generations of government assistance, and still they struggle in poverty and hopelessness. Their communities are tortured with drug addiction, fatherlessness, and illiteracy, and they rightfully no longer believe anything politicians say. Today you might say that many are now biting the hand that has fed them. But what is killing them and future generations are the ideas that they have fed their children.

And after years, decades of internal and external struggles, discontented blacks now lead the way to fight, resist, and even disband the police- who are the last protection they have in their neighborhoods, many of which look more like war zones. Insanity and contrarianism seems to have followed desperation.

This must be true, because bizarrely, in the midst of the supposed racial divide in this country, there is a growing contingent of conservative blacks who support President Trump; Lovable black spokesmen and spokeswomen who are successful and optimistic and declare that this is not your mother's America, once embroiled in racism. They are the children of those who forgave and forgot.

 Forgiveness is not just the nice words of Jesus, it is a legacy, and it is a life source. People with it can move on, live out their full potential. It is a powerful gift to be able to put the hurts of the past behind. And it cannot be done without forgiveness. God's Grace, and personal grace.

As the teachings of Jesus wane in influence, and the Media relishes in every questionable word or act by any Republican, and people begin to fashion their own moral absolutes without a Biblical foundation, forgiveness has been dispensed with. That is because forgiveness is not a natural response. Revenge and eternal racial and cultural conflict are the norm, illustrated well in the Middle East, or Africa, or anywhere where the teachings of Jesus never took root. And now Leftist Americans are joining the intolerance of the Palestinians... or the Iranians, or the Jews in Israel, or the warring primitive tribes of the world from one end to the other.

In this new “woke” era of America, Iron Tail should arise from his scaffold and apologize for forgiving, or forgetting, or whatever he and his other Sioux chieftains did, and take up his tomahawk and rage for social justice. President Grant should also go back and hang Robert E. Lee... and all the so-called Confederate traitors. Jackie Robinson should refuse to play baseball until all baseball-loving white Americans get down on their knees and beg absolution. Sammy Davis Jr. should give Dean Martin a poke in the eye.


Well, now they don't have to. A generation who never experienced any of the wrongs or systems which persecuted people in the past have taken up the tomahawk for them, and are whacking back at a society that has only provided them the most open, prosperous society on earth; A monumentally delayed reaction towards the sins of our country, committed by our great-great grandparents, as if somehow this registers in our collective American conscience as changing anything. "Take that! Robert E. Lee. Take THAT! George Washington... Take that, anybody cast in bronze. Whatever you did, you lived back then and you were probably guilty of something... AND WE DON'T FORGIVE YOU!"


Oh, it was Jesus who taught us to pray... “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us...” He also warned, that those who cannot, will not forgive... will get the same from God.


The careful warnings and classic, grace-giving words of Jesus have been abandoned like an old phone book, and the Ten Commandments are considered silly obstacles. Taking the Lord's Name in vain, adultery, and dishonoring parents are just natural expressions of life. And today's ambitious career climbers pride themselves with their habits of covetousness and false witness. Our National politics are rife with all of these sins.


Without Biblical ethics and morals, we have evolved quickly into a society of ruthless, insolent, competitive liars and usurpers.


But the most evident complication for this generation is, since they no longer trust in God, the God who “in the end” judges and rewards all souls whatever their due- this generation must exact ultimate justice themselves. In this life. In this country. And they do not have any concepts of forgiveness or mercy. Christians know this as “Grace.”And in this new Leftist system, grace is as foreign as free speech, and there is no crime or injustice to be left unanswered.


The mobs terrorizing our cities are worse than the worst of the strictest Puritans, who were eventually outnumbered and rightfully neutralized. While their violent destructive actions are excused, even justified, other people are vilified and persecuted now for their thoughts. This is identical to the social atmosphere which produced our Civil War, and the bloody, godless French Revolution.


Public kneeling at games, reparations, rioting and looting, disowning your kinfolks- will not fix this country. Certainly hatred and intolerance, practiced by any group or individual towards any others, is actually everything the “Left,” and most Americans, once stood against. The insults, the accusations, and broad stereotyping became un-American several generations ago. Sadly, this new generation of protesters did not read about that in the history books. And it is too late to explain the “secret,” and encourage them to read all about it. And if they did, they would fail to find the untold truth in books, since they were long since gladly disposed of, and I bought them years ago at the public library. We have to trust Twitter and Facebook and You Tube to protect and convey important truths to our discontented youth. 

I'm afraid the "secret" will remain just that.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Blind Hog Strikes!


Good News, Ranger badge seekers. I finally proved to myself that a person could walk into a Texas antique mall and still find a genuine ranger badge in the showcase- staring up with no one to love it... and priced as if it was a cheap toy.


I found this authentic oreite badge half an hour from my residence in Bell County. It had been messed with, as the finding appears to have been broken off and somebody prepared the back for soldering. Thankfully, they chickened out, probably because they were afraid the badge might melt while attaching the new pin... so it has some shiny buff marks on the back, but for less than $50.00, I did not ask them any questions.

I recognized the design in this old relic, as there was a die sold at one of the Burley Auctions in New Braunfels years ago which was almost identical. Artist Donald Yena was liquidating his awesome Texas Ranger collection, which included dozens of authentic, historic ranger badges. It was the Ranger collector event of the century. There were several Simmang artifacts sold, including some clamps, sample badges and a die used to make ranger badges in the 1920's and '30's.



The design was common then, first made popular in the late Nineteenth Century, when lawmen desired to get past the negative associations of the “tin star,” when many outlaws and disreputable gunmen were hired to “keep the peace.” The new modern, official-looking design was made with hundreds of variations, but basically formed a round shield, sometimes with a star in the center, and mounted by an American eagle with her wings spread. The “spread eagle” mounting a Union shield was a popular motif going back to the Civil War, and suggested a new, united, better America, where law & order could and would prevail. By the 1920's, the design was used for many government badges, including those sported by the IRS and other “Prohibition” men.

It would be years before the Texas Rangers would distribute an official badge to rangers. Each ranger had to order his own, creating the wonderful variations you see in this website. That was why the poor Mexican Peso got so abused during that time, being a cheap silver substrate for a jeweler to use to carve a custom lawman's badge. But some more style-conscious rangers could order a badge from a catalog, and in a few months receive a brassy, “oreite” badge, pressed by machine and beautifully sculpted into a classic lawman's shield, like this one. Many Rangers had similar, miniature badges pressed by the same manufacturers to pin inside their wallets. The truth was, Rangers preferred not to wear a badge which could be easily observed. In fact they hated badges and uniforms as well. Badges were targets for the lawless in those wild days on the border. The element of surprise was about the only advantage a ranger had, and badges were a “dead give-away.”


Charles Simmang of San Antonio was an official Texas Ranger badge maker, and produced different designs over the years, including the traditional star within a circle. The wear and miscellaneous imprints on the die above tell a story of many years of service, as this design was probably used for all kinds of law enforcement agencies. My badge shows hasty stamping of the letters. Or at least the lack of care usually associated with Simmang or any ranger badge maker. But that does not disprove its authenticity...

The relatively soft, oreite badge was unforgiving. Oreite was basically like bronze, containing brass, zinc and tin, and looking like gold when polished. It was easily engraved and stamped, but also easily scarred or bent. And in 1925, or thereabouts, a special order badge blank for this badge was not so easily replaced. A slight flaw in the stamping was tolerable compared to a lawman waiting another week or two for another badge to be obtained for custom stamping. So my guess is, for the time it was being used, it was “good enough.” Mr. Simmang probably gave him a discount on it, and sent him on into “harm's way.”

So, "even a blind hog finds an acorn," every once in awhile. My wife asked me where I was going to display my new find. Surely it needed to be in a suitable, worthy place. And somewhere where I could take it out and look at it! You can imagine that I have picked up some good badges, in all the hunting and gathering, and I have my better badges where I can show them off. But none of them are this old or have a Texas Ranger's initials carved in them like this one. I'm going to have to keep this one handy... so I can let it tell me its story. We need to find out who “T.E.H.” was, and maybe then the badge will be able to rest with the others.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

UNpatriot Games



-OR-
The Profit in Prevarication...

I grew up in the antique business, and in my antique business days, all of the antique dealers loved to purchase items from local hucksters who routinely brought pick-up truck loads of “antiques” to the downtown area and if possible, play one dealer against another. It was often a scene of cat and mouse, as dealers watched them work the business district, considering when might be the most opportune time to strike. The “pickers” had their own strategy, always going to the big spenders first, and forcing the others to “pony up,” or be left out.

Sometimes the dealers would get too excited and enthusiastic, loving the sense of opportunity, and ignoring the fact that what they were ravaging through was a truckload of junk. Or worse, a carefully crafted trap.

This game always included a certain inevitable element of bluffing, acting and other poker skills, and sometimes there was outright lying and even counterfeiting. On both sides. The dealers had to act like they did not care, that the items were common, of little value. They were only dispassionately gazing into the bed of the old truck out of altruistic philanthropy. And in the process, setting themselves up for the kill. This contest led to a much more sophisticated scrimmage of prevarication for profit.

The pickers had their own tricks, and had come to use me as a test, and if their newest counterfeit antique passed my inspection (it rarely did), then they felt as if they had truly accomplished something. I often laughed them off, but sometimes I had to complement them on their artistry. The thing that amazed me the most, was that my fellow dealers were usually never very interested in my warnings to them, that counterfeits were being regularly circulated.

I sometimes visited their homes, whenever they had a new batch of junk, ready to seize anything of value that could be sold for some profit. One day they were all gathered around a drum fire in their primitive outdoor furniture building area, telling lies, bragging and scheming, and I saw one of them quietly carving on an old polished cow horn. He handed it to me shamelessly, to get my reaction. It was crudely inscribed, with a name and date, which elevated it to the appearance of folk art and a highly collectible thing... I always tried to ignore their counterfeiting efforts, trying to encourage the more boring vocation of really “picking” old things from barns and abandoned farm houses. On this day I just smirked and kept walking. But I could not help but shake my head.

A couple of weeks later I saw the same horn hanging from a fellow dealer's private stash behind his desk. It was “not for sale”... or at least that was the game... making the price much higher for anyone who had to have it. I blurted out before I could think, and let him know that I recognized the cow horn. I went ahead and told him what he had, and worried out loud about what he had to pay for it. He would not say immediately, unable to discern whether I was telling him the truth, or kidding him, or even trying to acquire it myself, but defiantly admitted that he had given a reasonable sum.

I assured him that I had no interest in it, and told him that he should never sell it, because that kind of thing could hurt his own reputation. He shrugged, unable to let go of the “find of the week,” and unwilling to affirm my assessment. He was going to keep it, he said, as it looked good hanging there. And that was that.

So far no laws had been broken; One fellow had made a half-ass “replica.” No harm in that. Another fellow had showed it to the antique dealer. No crime there. He left it with him to ponder. No pressure was applied. Later a third fellow came by and picked up a check. Just a courier of the transaction... so nothing illegal or unethical had been done or said by any of the parties. Each had an “innocent” role in a process carefully woven with plausible deniability.

But a damnable lie had been established and was hanging in that shop, for all to see, and misunderstand. All while the buying public assumed that a reputable dealer would never proudly display a worthless counterfeit artifact. Soon the lie easily became the most coveted item in town. Until the next lie floated in. This was a veritable counterfeit antique ring, covered by smiles and innocence, and after all, nobody was hurt by it. Well, not physically. And great conversation was enjoyed by all, by those passing through, and those participating in the process.

And this is EXACTLY how the American Media functions today. One source creates a lie. No harm in itself... in fact it could be considered a joke or parody. Another source merely repeats it... not claiming its authorship, but advancing the lie to Media outlets. No crime in repeating a lie. The Media publishes these lies, a truckload of clever counterfeits, or just pure junk, ostensibly obtained from “reliable sources.” Nobody claims the information is reliable, only that it was passed on by persons of influence or reputation. The lie is then borrowed, repeated, reworded, pondered, cultivated, and generally spread until it is considered a solid fact. And no one has broken the law. Not even tarnished their ethics.

No one can be directly accused of "bearing false witness," one of the more neglected of the Ten Commandments. But I get some satisfaction believing that God knows all about it. 

Newspapers, news broadcasts, magazines, and Internet news outlets all profit from the lie, which in some cases can be exploited for months or years. Until someone proves it to be untrue. And in some cases, that cannot be done. Lies are easily the most profitable and dependable material being trafficked by the national Media. And it has always been the case. Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Herbert Hoover, and even Franklin Roosevelt could all tell you of egregious lies printed and reprinted about them. The Press has always had scurrilous characters who understood this “gray area” long before somebody coined the phrase “plausible deniability,” and ambitious “journalists” have always been willing to capitalize on it.

Bizarrely, our brave soldiers fight and sacrifice life and limb to defend the right of the Media to perpetuate this wicked chain of injustice. Hunkered in the corner under the auspices of “Freedom of the Press,” lurk the insidious profiteers of prevarication.

There may be no laws to prevent such activity, no prosecution of those who dance in the gray of plausible deniability, cleverly designing their alibis while dealing in laundered lies. But observers have warned for centuries about the latent threat of malicious propaganda designed to confuse and redirect societies.

Alexis de Tocqueville predicted the oncoming strategies overwhelming us today. Edward Bernays and others made a science of population management via mass psychology. Now a hundred years later, Russian disinformation has partnered with partisan manipulation of law enforcement, and the force-feeding of the Media poisonous narratives guaranteed to implement Lenin's secret weapon: “Confirmation bias.” The founder of Soviet Russia built his empire on deception, and that was done by cleverly telling what Lenin knew the Russian people wanted to hear. Could he have known, what we have learned through scientific research, that people actually get a dopamine rush from belief affirmation? Thanks to all of the major networks, Americans are actually mentally and physically addicted to the gratuitous, incendiary trashing of the president; An evil yet effective strategy straight out of Vladimir Lenin's playbook.

It has become a race to oblivion, a question of which will burn out first. Whether the American experiment can outlast the dying newspaper business, pervasively discredited and now cannibalizing itself to survive. We can only hope there will be a special place in Hell for those who knowingly proliferated lies for profit, or worse, for some despicable political strategy.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Coronavirus: Taking a Roman Holiday?


Coronavirus needed two things to succeed: a vulnerable host and messengers to take it there. The map shows where this played out.

It is with great disappointment, but little surprise that we now concede that the Chinese greatly misled the world with the information they provided from their Coronavirus epidemic. They could have saved many lives with useful scientific data, but opted to use the disease and their contrived narrative as a propaganda tool instead.

Still, I believe, for no good reason, that they did forward some truths connected to the disease, before they, for ominous political reasons, shrouded the whole country in mystery. Their willingness to expose their own population to the disease staggers the mind. Their insolence to provide information which they knew would be eventually impugned and which could set back their foreign relations by decades was especially short-sighted and self-defeating... Unless we consider the near revolution which they had been contending with... and what they might be willing to do to squelch it. A handy epidemic could well mask a few thousand executions.

MAYBE, if nothing else, we learned the origin, the high contagiousness, thus the significant threat, and the lack of effective treatment, and the approximate life cycle of the virus within a fairly isolated population. Maybe. There was no good reason to lie about those things. They had their reasons, which we may never know, to not share the route and casualties of the virus in regions beyond Wuhan.

So, forget China... even though a great deal of my own confidence and optimism was centered in their fallacious representations.


Coronavirus bypassed many Chinese neighbors 
and almost made a beeline to Italy and then
 to New York. Might some demographic groups
 have had a more than normal susceptibility? 


For a moment, let's focus on just the Eastern Hemisphere. Removing the U.S. and China, the seeming beginning and end of the pandemic, the Coronavirus outbreak is mostly a Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern phenomena. And the casualties in New York prove it.

Italy was the first on the western side of the Eastern Hemisphere to exhibit great susceptibility to the disease. A massive Chinese population in Italy, and significant inter-relations between the two countries, not unlike a partnership, sealed Italy's fate. Yet China has plenty of other partners around the world, who should also have suffered from their kinship. Strangely, countries surrounding China, including Hong Kong and Singapore, seem to be immune. But South Korea, not exactly an ally, has had a touch of it. Mysteriously, the disease went elsewhere. This seems to prove that not all regions will react the same to the virus.

Finding more fertile prospects in the west, the disease leap-frogged over the Orient and landed in Italy, and Iran, and here is what may be significant, it invaded Italy and many places where there were significant Italian populations: Of the top 20 countries who have suffered the brunt of the Coronavirus outbreak, 9 of them are also in Italy's top-20 list for her ex-patriots. So it is not surprising that Germany (2nd), Switzerland (3rd), France (5th), UK (6th), Belgium (7th), US (8th), Spain (9th) and Australia (11th) are also 4th, 9th, 6th, 8th, 11th,  1rst,  3rd and 20th respectively in reported Coronavirus cases.

Other Mediterranean/Mid East countries, less important to Italy but in the top- 20 are Iran (7th ), Turkey (10th) Israel (18th ) in reported Coronavirus cases. Others in the region may be suffering but not reporting very accurately. The obvious hyper-susceptibility of these mostly western populations should be of interest, as compared to China's neighbors. There might be a racial or demographic angle to this pandemic.

News agencies easily acknowledged that Italy had become the epicenter of the pandemic for several weeks... an insidious Roman holiday, until the U.S. took its place. And we soon eclipsed Italy with our cities sporting the densest collections of Jewish and Italian-Americans in the U. S... New York-New Jersey, which constitute, at this writing, one half of all of the casualties in the whole country. Ten times the losses in Louisiana, 38x that of Texas, home of the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan regions America, (Houston & Dallas-Ft Worth) AND Austin and San Antonio. Surely something is missing from the equation. Sure cases and casualties are rising... and they will for a couple of weeks more... but declining numbers in Italy tell us to hold on. Italy has gone six days where their death totals were less than those when at their highest (Mar27) ... indicating a downturn of the epidemic, and a "curve" very similar to that suggested by the Chinese. Hopefully they have just entered their epidemic downturn, and we are a week or so behind them and will experience a downturn, at least in New York, very soon.

This observation, of a Mediterranean connection, could contribute greatly to understanding the spread of the disease, the inexplicable and disproportionate casualty rate around the globe, and the most susceptible populations to the disease, and help warn the most endangered demographic groups.

It also could mean that the models being used to forecast the Coronavirus are skewed towards the general population... disregarding the significant Italian population now suffering the pandemic in New York and New Jersey.

In the United States, where the virus has done the most damage, it has been the quickest and most deadly in the densest Italian populations: New York and New Jersey. Here the carriers, some Chinese and some Italian, brought the virus to the most susceptible populations. New York and New Jersey represent the third largest concentration of Italian-Americans and Italian nationals outside of Italy. New York boasts a huge Italian-American population, over 8%, and there are around twenty towns in New Jersey which tout 40-50% Italian-American populations. They argue back and forth just who is the most Italian. That argument has morphed into who has had the greatest losses per capita from the dreaded Coronavirus.

True, it could be argued that the disease just followed where the Chinese elites took it, to the more populated and prosperous places on the globe, where there would have been Italians... who are part of the Western network of industrialized countries. Perhaps it was merely the Chinese and Italians who were the carriers to Europe and the U. S.. The path of the disease would indeed overlay perfectly with airline travel, trade routes, and tourism corridors. But India and Pakistan, Poland, Russia, and most of China's closest neighbors got a curious reprieve from the outbreak. They have travel and trade as well, and in fact probably have the virus, but it is not killing them in great numbers.

We in the U.S. are greatly Ameri-centric... we always think it is all about us... so when the virus comes calling first and foremost to New York... of course it did!  But why not London? Why not Moscow? Or Houston? Los Angeles (still only 269 deaths)?

There has to be a practical explanation to the explosion in Italy when so many highly populated areas closer to China were skipped. In fact, it would have been expected that poorer populations, worse medical facilities, more backward societies would have been hit the hardest. Certainly not the very opposite.

When Chinese nationals brought the virus to the U.S., they no doubt hit our western shores at about the same time that they hit the east coast, and the outbreak surfaced from Georgia to California to New York about March 1- and New Orleans about a week later, on the Gulf Coast. Yet experts seem to be anticipating a deadly wave across America, as if delayed, which (I believe) may have already visited upon these places... and done their deadliest. Perhaps Corona has hit and climaxed with a speed beyond our comprehension. Outbreaks in California, Colorado, almost every state, suggest that it has had time to seek from coast to coast, and kill or terrify a majority of the population, already.

Then those infected in those places did the rest, spreading the virus to the elderly and those with immunodeficiency, or some other fragility, of all demographic groups... and causing great suffering. But perhaps not as many deaths as those with the Mediterranean/Mid East bloodlines. Only time will tell.

As Rush Limbaugh has pointed out, it is impossible that social distancing prevented the Coronavirus pandemic from having its way, in California or anywhere, since most populated places had probably been exposed for weeks before the public adopted these strategies.  Limbaugh has been intrigued for days with California's seeming immunity. They have a significant Chinese population... no doubt quite a few "carriers"... but perhaps not the density of Italian -Americans which would catch it and suffer greatly, and propel a health threat anywhere near an "epidemic." So far the total deaths (270 in first month) in California is small compared to New York, sand many other health threats they have faced.

"Just an observation..."


But it might be helpful to add another demographic to the “model” being used to forecast America's fate regarding the Coronavirus: Victims are old to very old, (avg of 80 years in Italy) suffering a myriad of preconditions which increase their vulnerability, and more often than not in countries associated with Italy... or Italians, and in New York, where the model for Coronavirus forecasting was born, at least 8% across the board are of Italian descent. That is just my “SWAG” from Internet sources, based on population estimates until actual numbers are available, but the Mediterranean/Mid East angle which is suggested by the world Coronavirus map, and the related casualties in New York and its environs, suggest that it may be even more.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Marked for Life by The Twilight Zone



Do any of you recognize this face?



Please, let me introduce a classic film short... and a great case of real life “deja vu.” But first, who does this woman, featured in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, look like? If you ever lived in Navasota, Texas,and knew everybody that mattered to the community as a whole, you have to know... who this looks like.

This film was based on a story written by Ambrose Bierce and appeared on the Twilight Zone when I was a boy. It impacted my life in several ways including some that I am still discovering. I was only eight years old when I saw it, for the only time in my life, and now I learn that the reason that I watched a thousand Twilight Zone re-runs over my lifetime, in hopes of seeing it again, and never saw it in almost sixty years, was that the Twilight Zone television show only purchased limited broadcast rights to it.

Owl Creek Bridge was a short film made in France! And only edited by the Twilight Zone... no doubt formatted for its time slot and commercials, and it was a hit and won several awards- and my lifelong enthusiasm with very, very limited exposure; Two broadcasts... I saw one of them... in 1962.

It's main character was named Peyton Farquhar... which means nothing to most people, but in Navasota, there is a Farquhar street in the center of downtown by that name, and runs right by City Hall, and the Post Office, and dead ends right into a building where I spent a great deal of time and energy... now known as Classic Rock Coffee Co. But I did not know that wne I was eight, or remember any of the details, as the man's name was barely mentioned... and in the beginning, which had me mesmerized, and stupified.

I just saw it again after many years of wishing to see see it again. Remembering it hard, reconstructing it in my mind, as the years passed, suddenly, by the miracle of Netflix, it was ON!

As a boy I was raised in a history rich environment, injected with a powerful dose of Southern pride. My brother and I played Civil War every day. We had kepis and muskets and knew our generals... and a few battles... mostly we fantasized fighting and dying for the South. When this Twilight Zone came into my living room, it grabbed me, held me, captured me, executed me, and left me for dead. The Confederate spy in the story was me, and I went through his ordeal repeatedly in my mind for the rest of my life.

The theme obviously hit close to home, but it was something else which I could not recognize as an eight year old, and upon seeing again, now understand why the show appealed so much to my soul. The film is a masterpiece of art; The creepy bluesy vocalist, singing as the spy watches his life flash by. “I want to be a LIVING MAN.” (That should have been the name of the segment) The singer has the appeal of a Captain Kangaroo children's entertainer, as he slowly elaborates the beauty of nature, the wonder of Creation... “I see the treeeeees... every vein on the leeeeeeaves...” A man about to die realizes how much he loved life, how much of life there was still to live... how he would give anything to just go home again, and he envisions running home barefooted through the wilderness, and seeing his adoring wife and children one more time.

That hunger, that value stayed, anchored in me like a peg on the wall, and something to hang my identity on. I saw that sweet, loving face of his wife coming happily towards him... but never quite reaching him... for six damn decades! THAT is good art. And that was the day I knew... there was no glory in war so great as a single leaf on a tree.

I did not want to die for the Confederacy... a cause long lost, I wanted to spend my life doing what that poor schmuck hanging from the bridge would never get to do. His yearning, his regrets, his brief, unrealized fantasy became my lifetime of fulfillment and achievement. I still pretended, and played Civil War after that, but I knew I never wanted to stupidly throw my life away. And this was important at that time, as I was soon to go through a boyhood hell and want to end my life. I'm sure now, as I think about it, that the dead rebel hanging from the railroad bridge figured heavily in my mind one Saturday morning when I hunkered down under the fronds of a palm tree in my front yard with a butcher knife, determined to end my anguish. I thought I wanted to die. But the picture of that Confederate spy running and running and never quite saving himself, leaving so beautiful a life behind, stuck with me. Death in youth was a terrible waste. He was dead, but I could still have the life and fulfillment which he could not.

I had forgotten the lack of dialogue in the film, which made the emotions portrayed so much more important. I had completely missed the stream of conscious singing... the violence of the waterfall, but I had fixated on the long, long run home... and the reaching... reaching, to the breaking point... the final embrace as the condemned man actually falls to his death at the end of a rope, which rocked my world. It was the first time I had ever seen a show that did not end with a happy ending. He was supposed to get away and reinforce my juvenile sense of justice. Instead the show went on for many minutes, making you think that somehow he had struggled free and was going to go home to his family. Just as in life, death came with a terrible shock. It was as effective and sobering as any thing I have seen since. It possessed with my eight-year old mind, and never let go. That is the power of art.

I was not the only celebrated writer to love the piece- Kurt Vonnegut said it was the greatest American Short Story ever written. He called it a flawless example of American Genius.

Bizarrely, as I finally saw it again, playing the two main roles were actors who could have been doubles for two friends of mine. All of these years there was a strange familiarity... they were the physical and temperamental embodiment of the characters in the film. Him, a melancholy folk musician, she a loving soul, once a popular children's day-care provider. Seeing them again... in this haunting film, familiar faces in a film which owned a part of me, added another real-life layer to the Twilight Zone.

Of course, I grew up to be... an artist, a historical illustrator, a photographer and writer. A bird watcher... and a happily married man, to a beautiful Southern belle, going on 45 years. And she loves the Twilight Zone. I am the LIVING MAN!

So the actor was Roger Jacquet. The Actress Anne Cornaly... or so they said... But if you are from Navasota, you will watch it with... a certain kind of myst in your eye.

Now, start voting as you hum the Twilight Zone theme song.



Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Crazy Dream- That Made Sense




I really did have this dream last night.

I had been invited to the White House as an honored guest. For what I do not know. But in dreams you never think to ask questions. Anyway, I was sitting in a special section of honored guests at an event of some sort... there was music playing on the stage... and the great man and his lovely wife were sitting up front, tall and dignified, and I was proud to be there and proud to be an American. It was a golden dream.

Then after a break, I was told that it was my turn to sit with the president and first lady. And like a child going to Santa Claus, I got up from my seat and came down a few rows to the front and took my seat. The music was already started again, so there were no time for introductions, no hand shaking, but it was fine by me. It was such an honor, just to stand next to, sit down at the right hand of President Barack Obama.

I wondered if he knew that I usually voted Republican, and had never liked his politics, and certainly had never cast a vote for him. Nor had many people whom I knew, for that matter. Whether he did or not, he was very kind and gracious to me, and I took my seat and just basked in the glory and diversity of our wonderful country. Realizing we had never been formally introduced, the fatherly president just took my left hand, and rested our clasped hands on his knee. And then he lovingly placed his left hand on top of mine. I took it as an affectionate gesture, and decided to finish this bipartisan love fest with my right hand, but as I put it on top of our mound of hands, he brushed it away. This had been a presumptuous and preposterous gesture on my part. After all, it was his shindig.

But it was my dream, and staring at first lady Michelle's long, slender, beautifully bejeweled fingers, perfectly manicured nails, her hands clasped angelically at his other side, my eyelids suddenly got very heavy, and my head slowly dropped and leaned on the towering president's shoulder. I tried to stay awake, but a part of me wanted to nestle and doze on his shoulder, like a little boy. And I did. President Obama did not seem to mind, he seemed to almost understand, like this often happened to him. He sat typically dignified, totally composed, as I shrugged off any possible embarrassment- as one does in crazy dreams, and I just melted into the music and the beauty of the moment.

Soon, the concert was over, and people were scattering like they do. We were ushered through the throng and showed a faster way, THE way out of the venue for the Prez and his entourage. Quickly, forcefully we marched into the darkness, and once again, forgetting my place, I took the lead. And it was a good thing. No sooner had we outdistanced the teaming mass of people behind us, we came upon a fifteen foot drop, where there had once been a grand stone stairway. Now it was a muddy cliff. With the crowd pressing behind, I shrugged and trusted my dream and jumped.

Maybe I thought I would go first... somewhat protectively, to see if the president and first lady would be safe... and instantly I landed on the crumbly earth below... farther down than I anticipated but without much incident. But it was too far, and still on all fours, I yelled for the President not to try it, for fear that he might break a leg. And certainly the first lady should not try to jump it. But before I could get their attention they were already jumping and they landed and bounced like Olympians.

President Obama chuckled, took it all in stride, and stood up faster than me, since sadly, I was still a 65 year-old man, in my dream, and not so resilient. Meanwhile, many followers came trustingly behind him. He graciously helped me up, as if it happened every day. It did not seem to surprise or fluster him that government workers had destroyed his exit, and left a dangerous precipice that would certainly harm hundreds of others, even cripple some of them. 

We were dirty now, and a little shaken, but I thought, what a nice guy. What a strong and good-natured fellow. Nothing seemed to bother him, and he is always glib, and well spoken. And I realized in my soul, in my real mind, how much I missed that kind of dignity in my president.

Then I looked back at the muddy bluff, with people spilling over like lemmings. Some were making it. Many were turning back. Mounting numbers of faithful followers were broken and wounded at the base of this hole that had once been a trusted stairway. Some were laying about unconscious and not moving. The news of our president confidently leading hundreds or thousands over a cliff was certainly going to be a national crisis. And I thought, that was too bad, but it was just a dream, a ridiculous scenario, and I was not worried at all.

I knew that soon enough, President Trump would fix it. And Americans, whether they liked him or not, would be safe again.

I was pretty sure that President Trump would never invite me to a White House concert, and if he did, he would knock me out of my honored place if I laid my head on his shoulder! He is not much of a father figure... never very comforting. But he understands very well how to survive in a world full of pitfalls, and takes charge of problems like a construction foreman. Trump has been visioning, building, and fixing things and making them work all of his life; Showing a profit in New York City. And now he has begun to fix many things in our country, against incredible, deliberate obstructions. And as I awoke, I knew which kind of president I would rather have.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Delightful Scars of Christmas Past




Scarred for Life!

It will probably seem petty to many people, that I was scarred for life because of mistakes Santa made at my childhood Christmas tree. Being a middle child, I was already struggling to find my own identity, to identify what I might excel at, so as to compete in my own way with my boisterous brothers. They were robust, and smart and athletic, which left me arts and humanities, which I began to ponder seriously. I told Santa I wanted a carpenter set... I was about nine and thinking that my creativity could be put to use in some positive way besides bloody battle cartoons. Wasn't Joseph, Jesus's father a carpenter, and wasn't Jesus said to be the same?

Christmas morning at our house was an explosion of laughter and wrapping paper, as three boys dug into their long-awaited prizes. But the tree had some surprises. It was as if a bad elf, or a drunk had placed the gifts left by old Santa. I kept unwrapping things made out to me, but which were meant for Reynolds, my little brother. Socks, underwear, nothing of consequence, and my mom seemed to better understand what Santa intended, and snatched them up as fast as I unveiled them, trading out with the intended recipient and handing me yet another thing to unwrap... and then the extent of Santa's chain of errors became more clear, as my six year-old brother came up out of the layers of shiny paper with EXACTLY what I had wanted for Christmas: a real deal carpenter set. 

A cute little hammer, a saw with real teeth, even a little coping saw, and some other carpenter stuff little boys would not understand.

Reynolds was thrilled, that Santa had given him something valued by others. He was more thrilled, suddenly having something he knew that I would like to have. I eventually found a cheesy plastic carpenter set on my side of the tree. Santa understood that Reynolds would be jealous of the real carpenter set, so he left him a little baby one. I looked at it as if Santa had just kicked me in the gut. My mom looked mortified, and looked at my dad... who said something flippant like “Santa must have made a mistake!”

You'll never get that from him...” My mother said dryly. She could not help but chuckle, as Reynolds began to show everyone his new hammer, gleefully trying it out on the furniture.

Uh... boys, Santa's helpers have made a mistake...” My father tried to interject. But as he tried to wrestle the hammer away from Reynolds, it was obvious that the little guy was already a member of the carpenter's Union, and fighting for his life. No way was he giving up the carpenter set, now the tools of his profession. So, of course, as parents always do, they give in to the wants of the youngest, even when Santa has made a stupid, irresponsible mistake. And then they did the other thing parents always do, they tried to extract a compromise with the little peckerwood. “Now Rey Rey, you'll be glad to share your carpenter set with Russie, won't you?”

My dad was a big tough guy, and could be very intimidating, but Reynolds was not phased. He clutched the hammer, and looked around for moral support. When he saw none, he did what all indulged little punks do, he puffed up and turned red, and looked like he was about to explode. Mom swiftly took him and the hammer away to soften the moment, and dad began laugh. That was easy for him, it wasn't his hammer.

Of course Reynolds never made anything with that damned carpenter set, he just proudly owned it. The little saw didn't really work very good. Then he grew up to be a journalist, which had nothing to do with carpentry. And I learned that someone as powerful as Santa could make grievous errors, which could not be undone.

But I was a forgiving soul. And I got even soon enough, when one day we were pretending to be Rebs fighting Yankees, and he tried to sneak up from behind and I twirled around and nailed him right between the eyes with the steel barrel of my quite real looking Confederate musket. Made a perfect circle on his forehead. Blood running down his face just like that reb in Shenandoah...It was really cool. You can still see that scar if you look close. That fixed his little carpenter butt!

I changed my life goals that year and the next Christmas, Reynolds heard me tell Santa that I wanted a microscope. I wanted to look at things up close, to study their textures and cell structure. I was now ten and curious about nature. Ok, so maybe we were going to torment some ants along the way...

The big day came, and we shot out of bed and flew to the tree like wasps on the warpath. We tore into mounds of toy army gear and guns and plastic army men, and then... Reynolds unwrapped his brand... new... microscope. Complete with slides and minerals and science experiments.

I could not believe it.   I... COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!

Really? Two years in a row? He was just seven freaking years old! How could Santa make that BIG of a mistake? It was if the devil elf was taunting me.

Sensing a repeat from last year, Reynolds clutched the microscope as if it were a long lost friend. Meanwhile I unwrapped the Erector Set Santa had left for him. It was a fussy affair, with millions of little metal strips and nuts and screws, even an adult could not figure out. Reynolds would not consider a trade even if he was threatened, or begged, or reasoned with.

“I want it!” was all he said, so happy to be such an obvious favorite of Santa's, to get big-boy stuff that even his older brother wanted. It was as if life was extraordinarily fair... to him. And it was great to find out that all of those threats about being a good little boy, if he wanted Santa to bring him great stuff, were just parental ignorance.

Reynolds was always relentlessly competitive anyway. He always wanted whatever I had, to do whatever I was doing. That competition continues in many ways, until this day. If I got an old truck... he bought three. And then there were the arrowhead wars, wrought iron wars, stoneware, tintypes... we are both pathetic and just a tiny bit covetous.

So anyway I gave up on a microscope and finding a cure for cancer. And by now I knew that Santa was over the hill, horribly incompetent, and no more efficient than a thirty-something couple in a rush, who had hit the egg-nog a little toooooo often. Every year! And scarred for life, I gave up on being like Jesus and resorted to hours entertaining myself with pencil and paper. Lots of paper. Lots and lots of paper.

It was cheap, and Reynolds had no use for that. I made all kinds of paper airplanes, and drawings of Texas history, and even dozens of little elves to decorate the house for Christmas. I was probably hoping they would hang around and lend Santa guidance the next year.

Merry Christmas Brothers!

None of us would change a thing.

 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

If you are about to get a new cell phone...

DON'T TRADE IN YOUR OLD CELL PHONE!


I'm glad to explain, but for now just believe me and read until you are satisfied. If you are about to get a new cell phone, let me share what my wife and I just endured.

My phone was damaged and hers was about to be inoperable, so we decided to be brave and strike out to the local Verizon store. Here we found a wonderfully informative young man who sold us on converting to the new Google Pixel 3X phones. DON'T DO IT! But let me first explain that after we waited for five days for the Verizon guy to fetch these new techno-wonders, and were disappointed when we showed up to get them, that this nice young man had to be summoned from someplace else in his street clothes to tell us they were not in the store, and one had been “jacked.” I guess that means stolen.

We smelled something fishy and left... not surprised but yes, a couple of disgruntled retired people... visited the phone center at Sam's, then settled on getting the PIXELs at Best Buy. Already sold on the product, we gladly paid a little more and got outfitted, me with a Pixel 3XL and my wife with a 3X... and because I was too distrusting, I did not let go of my old, damaged phone, because it had a mountain of images and videos in it... and (LUCKILY) I was not so sure about the information transfer...

My wife sadly, naively traded in her phone... it was swiped clean before she realized that she had lost precious and sentimentally important texts... like her father's last voicemail to her... and they were GONE. We soldiered on... and I went home to play with my new super-duper Google Pixel camera and all my wonderful new picture making tools...

Then the real debacle began! My photos from my iphone had not all transferred. Not even a tenth of them. None of my videos. We went back to the Best Buy store to try to learn what had gone wrong. A nice young fellow explained that we needed to establish a connection to a “Cloud”- (I thought I had!) and he recommended the Google Cloud, and started it for me, and the download began... we thought. Next day, I had about the same number...basically all my photos for the past month, and few random ones from seven years ago! The Googel Cloud, accessible from my computer, had not downloaded any of my photos from the iCloud. Now I got concerned. I still had my photos and memories in the old damaged phone, thank goodness, because I had not traded it in. And I looooved the my new Pixel phone... for about five minutes.

The Pixel camera was great, but the photo tools were not as handy or effective as my old iphone 7's. You are supposed to download an App for that, if your really care or know the difference. So I studied Apps... then decided on a movie App... the latest Photo Shop free app. But I still had very few photos to work with.

One peculiar thing, the “Cloud” was sending my new phone some very old images... somewhat randomly, from as far back at seven years ago... many of which I had originally deleted... in other words, it appeared that everything I ever photographed was still in existence... in the iCloud, and when it sends them to the new phone, they come raw, unedited, and even undeleted. So half of what I did have were duplicates, outtakes, and stuff that I did not want.

I was more than underwhelmed with our advances in technology, and we just wanted our old phones back... with our old stuff in them. We went back to the store to trade-in our purchases, get iphones and be done with it. Then we stumbled into disaster.

The lady at the customer service counter was more than understanding... she immediately went to work to satisfy us. I was glad to get something else, but still retained ownership of my old damaged phone...We traded in our Pixels and purchased iphones at a considerable savings, and then the worst thing possible happened. The Best Buy people at the Customer Service counter did not know that when they removed those tiny little microchip cards from the Google Pixel phones, that everything in them is erased. LOST. REALLY... lost.

A supervisor came along about that time and told us what had happened... but there was no recourse... the information in both phones had been lost completely, and there was nothing that could be done. We were starting out all over again, totally fresh, no contacts, no photos. We went to the phone center there at Best Buy to get our phones updated as much as possible, since I still had my old damaged phone.

Once again, the Best Buy cell phone person waiting on us, this was now about the third, began trying their best to recover what they could. They began a download, once again from the “Cloud,” which was supposed to help me transfer the contacts and photos I had in my damaged phone into my new iphone. My poor wife was speechless, having just lost years worth of contacts and messages and photos. The worker explained that it might take a while, so we went to get something to eat. Wife walked like a war refugee in the parking lot, almost unaware of moving vehicles, stupified by such an unexpected loss. I was hopeful that my old broken phone would pull my transfer through.

To cut to the chase, (sorry about all that detail!) we were assured that it was all loading up, and we could take it home and it would all be OK. But when it was “finished,” it was no better than the first downloads in the Pixels. Random, and still sending unwanted, recently deleted images which I thought had been sent to the bad place. I gave my wife a few contact numbers which we had in common. There were not that many! I depended on her to keep certain contacts, and she depended on me. So call her if you are one of her buds, and let her reload your number.

Our daughter, our hero, came and helped me retrieve my images, in ways even she does not completely understand. She was able to recover all of my photos... (they are still loading!) and even my numerous “Memories” video/slideshows made with the iphone 7 movie program... which are quite good. Hallelujah!

As best as I can understand, as long as you have that old phone, and the data it contains, even if the phone service has been transferred to a new phone, it still is connected to the “Cloud” and can keep your contacts and photographic images “alive.” It is the lifeline. But your average cell phone salesperson has no clue how to adequately transfer what it has access to. You'll need better people than who occupy the local Verizon outlets to get it done.

So:
  1. Don't let go of your old phone until you are totally satisfied with your info transfer. You can always trade it in later. My wife lost all of her texts because she traded in a phone which they only valued at twenty bucks!
  2. Don't trust the Verizon guys, they are scamming or something. At one point we commented to one another on the unkempt nature of the place, and the unprofessional way they were handling customers. (This was in Bell County) Certainly I was skeptical when the salesman told me he would drive over fifty miles to Georgetown get our phones at another location during the weekend, and have them for us next week... and was not at all surprised when he dumped a big lie on us.
  3. DONT LET THEM EXCHANGE “SIM CARDS” WITHOUT AN EXPERT TECHNICIAN PRESENT. Ask lots of questions... Different phones have different data memory essentials... Your average salesperson is not going to know all the changes, until it is too late! I kept saying, “It's like they never sold a phone in this store before!” And I might add, these were recenty outdated Pixel phones...
  4. Find a way to copy your Contact info so you still have it, no matter what. Back up your images with something in your own possession! The “Cloud” seems only to keep data but never releases much of it, EVEN TO PROFESSIONALS, and when it does, it is random and RAW. Thankfully, I had emailed myself many of my favorite images over the years.
  5. Keep your daughter handy. :)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The BIG GREEN MONSTER vs. common sense


Issue: The Earth is said to be in danger, or at least its status as a living environment for most of its inhabitants. Pollution and dangerous levels of animal CO2 emissions will eventually make the planet uninhabitable. These pollutants and “green house gases” could be reduced to safe levels by joint actions taken by humans, all around the world. WE have done the damage and now we must fix the problem. The United States, one of the worst “offenders,” should lead the world in its air recovery. Otherwise mankind is doomed...

Politicians in the United States have begun to offer up a comprehensive, even grandiose plan which would assume world leadership by revolutionizing, and to a large degree limiting the travel, diet, and freedom of its citizens. This would be accomplished by drastic reduction of petroleum powered automobiles, domestic air travel, energy-inefficient buildings, and even cattle. The “Green New Deal” would not only completely (ideally) eradicate domestic air travel and energy-inefficient structures but the petrochemical industry and the medical insurance industry, while providing free health care, and free income for those who do not work, and free college educations for all and other marvelous benefits of a liberal society. Some of these things have little to do with the planetary emergency being discussed here, but are part of a grand plan for our government to meet all U. S. citizen's needs by confiscating 70% - 90% of the “excess” income of the wealthiest class.

Response: We know from responsible observers like NASA that carbon emissions on the planet have doubled since 1900, (when they were far less than historical highs) to over 380 parts per Million today. When seen on a graph it is a straight up rocket, spiraling into dangerous levels in the relatively near future. When illustrated on a fourteen-year time lapse movie, the earth grows from a foreboding but habitable place in 2002 to a choking wasteland 2016. And that is where we are. Anyone who has ever visited a Third World country, or even Mexico City, has seen and smelled and felt the ominous results of man's abuse of our most necessary natural resource.

Yale University has invented a dipstick they call the EPI; Environmental Performance Index. The U. S. does not make it into their top 20 performers. Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark head the list. I wonder if it would be fair to ask what and how much these winners produce? Jobs, social mobility, International exports, or GNP apparently do not enter into the EPI.

We Americans are good at one thing, and that is beating up on ourselves. We have plenty of input from college instructors and Liberal politicians, who gain a devoted shadow of hand wringers as they spread their bad news gospel. According to the “Kyoto Protocol,” which took force in 2005, America does not lead the world in pollution control. On the “ecosystem vitality scale,” the U. S. ranked 39th, (out of 149) below other developed countries, showing poorly in clean environment or pollution progress compared to our European counterparts. This low score and other subjective measures have brought on a growing wave of outrage among Globalists and Environmentalists. They fail to appreciate what America does in the world, while it produces those lackluster scores... and still finishes in the top quarter of the planet's organized nations.

Before we get into solutions, let's consider the role the United States actually plays in this world environmental crisis. The facts presented here are readily available to anyone on the Internet.

The U. S. is a leader in the world in the control of industrial pollution and preservation of “clean” air. In fact it ranks in the top twelve among all countries in the world, balancing our immense industrial productivity with environmental protection, having done a better job with our dangerous emissions than most of our peers, including the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Russia, and Israel. Only fairly NON-INDUSTRIALIZED countries like Finland, Sweden and Canada, or much less productive ones like Australia or New Zealand have better air.

Our (U. S.) carbon emissions are not even close to competing with the real violators or Earth's oxygen, such as the Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait and others. India and China have a long way to go to match our level of air quality or its protection.

The numbers are very confusing, depending on how a reporter slices the onion. But every American should know and be proud that his country, for all its productivity, only makes about 1/6 of the carbon emissions on the planet- about half of the emissions of China, who produces nearly a third of the world's pollution.

The reason American politicians are creating drastic reforms for the U. S. is that we are an easy target, and a conspicuously messy population, and we don't score well. Although we lead the world in quality of life and production in agriculture, in the process we make more pollution per person than other countries. For instance the next worst nation in per-capita carbon emissions is India, with its growing industrialization and approximately 280 Million cows... (Compared to our 100 Million)

Which brings up a controversial source of the world's greenhouse gases- Livestock. American politicians have suggested that a massive reduction in consumption of beef, thus erasing cows from the landscape, would be a big benefit to solving the oxygen crisis. This is a very overstated claim. While Americans do enjoy their beef, it only makes up a small fraction of the poundage of animal flesh we consume. While we are eating 32 Million pounds annually, a fairly conservative amount of cow meat, we are putting away 42 BILLION pounds of chicken. If cows have got to go, chickens should have already been banished.

The Chick-filet cows have won the public-relations battle in convincing Americans to “Eat more Chiken.” And we are. So much that outlawing cows would barely put a dent in the production of nasty air. It is estimated that there are between 90 and 100 Million cows from sea to shining sea. And a quarter of those are dairy cows, who provide us with milk, cheese, butter, ice cream and latex paint. The abolition of the dairy industry is out of the question. And beef is more and more becoming a minor player in the “Greenhouse Affect.” When you think about having to invent satisfactory substitutes for leather, glue, gelatin, fertilizer and all the jobs related to all these products, it seems like the Green New Deal is far-fetched and unnecessarily sacrificial. To most rural Texans, it is just plain political grandstanding.

Perhaps it would be smart to look back... and compare our animal population to 500 years ago. When you imagine the pristine American landscape, before the invasion of White people, it sported upwards of 25 Million bison, and huge numbers of elk, deer and antelope, (now greatly reduced) and vast populations of passenger pigeons, (extinct) and other game birds, not to mention a huge amount of feral horses, pigs and longhorn cows... (greatly reduced) whose aggregate greenhouse gas production could easily have been half or even two thirds of the present number. Meanwhile the great herds in Africa and Asia have been reduced to alarming numbers. It is somewhat inconsistent for Liberals to pitch the eradication of livestock, whose production of greenhouse gases could not be much more than the emissions of the wildlife they replaced, suggesting that former wildlife populations would have been unacceptable today, intimating that humans and animals cannot coexist, thus delegitimizing pet ownership and wildlife preservation.

Animals are not our enemies. They have been our sustenance and allies for centuries. The Greenhouse gases which result from agriculture in our country are a necessary bi-product of food production which is a major benefit to the whole world. While some individuals may choose vegetarianism, we have no alternative method to produce enough protein to sustain our larger population, especially children, much less others, without meat and eggs and dairy products.

Remember that we are talking about the planet here, so even IF the emissions in the U. S. were at alarming levels, there has been a compensating loss of the various wild herds around the planet. Wildlife experts anticipate that there will be a 67% depletion of the world's wildlife by next year. Human populations are squeezing them out until there is insufficient wild space for them to exist. These usurpers will need food. And America feeds the world.

True we are messy, when it comes to air, but if you want to see a nice, neat country, with no air quality challenges, visit an unproductive one. And even though Americans foul up more than their “share” of the earth's air, they also in their busyness provide a lot of food and goods for the whole world to utilize. Much more than their share. The U.S. is and has always been the world leader in food exports.

Punishing U.S. Citizens, by restricting their travel and diet, would be beating the goose that lays the golden egg. The Democratic proposals designed to address our carbon excesses would result in the retardation and decline in health and productivity of the very country which has become the breadbasket of the world.

Even though the U. S. does more than most countries about its pollution challenges, it is still number two in the world, after China, in production of “nasty air.” There is no empirical data on the impact which carbon emissions have on the earth's atmosphere and thus our lives, only the “scientific” assumption that it is bad and getting worse. Since the U. S. is evaluated as a major offender, some politicians have been quick to point to American excess, abuse and even malignance.

But the number ONE cause of our “Greenhouse gases” is not cows, or the cattle industry, it is simple human beings, trying to make a living... You and me. Our carbon emissions, our cars, our use of energy... which is exacerbated by the steady deforestation going on all over the world, especially in Third World countries outside of our reach. TRUE, America is a prime greenhouse gas producer, and thus considered a “major violator,” because we have so many areas of great prosperity and productivity, which create and grow one another. We make more, do more, travel more, and thus use more. More than the world's average. The only answer to this conundrum, for America to match the planetary average is for Americans to do less. Work less, travel less, eat less. A lot less.

And that would mean for every family to make less income. To enjoy less. Have less. It would mean the end of our culture as we know it. Suffering all of that while the rest of the world is doing little to solve the pervasive problem of the earth's air quality. THAT would be social injustice. But dumbing down America is the only Democrat solution to our maintaining environmental leadership in the world. Their solution is that we have to invent the future so all the other countries will have a pattern, when they are ready for it. It is a lofty demand in a hand-to-mouth world.

This is why in the past decade Democratic leaders have quietly overseen the depletion of American industries, neglected our highway and aeronautic infrastructure, promoted a future with socialized medicine, vegetarianism, late-term abortions, high speed rail everywhere, limited air and auto use, and proposed subsidized income for those who do not work, because it is the only way for the U. S. to reduce its carbon production so that we might compare well with world CO2 levels, which would be necessary for leading by example. And they have ginned up the climate arguments to justify these quantum changes in our country and our lifestyle. In the '70's it was an immanent ice age... in the '90's it was Global Warming, now because weather statistics do not support that, they have morphed the semantics to “Climate Change.” That just about covers anything that might happen, so that the U. S. population stays alarmed and (hopefully) patriotically cooperative with these monumental adjustments being imposed on it. But a growing number are counting the cost and questioning Democratic strategies.

Too many of these Democrat social constructions depend on assumptions that, following our lead, someday the straggling nations will catch up, modernize and provide for themselves. But even Russia, after all its modernization, cannot feed itself. The Arab and African countries will continue to prosper and their populations grow in a desert land with scant agriculture, and will never be able to feed themselves. Populations which have traditionally been checked by famine and disease will benefit from modern medical advances and as they celebrate life and longevity, increase the demand for places like America to feed them. They short-sightedly decimate or abuse their natural resources even as we consider our own inconvenience and restriction, to set some kind of example.

It seems obvious that if America has already failed to meet the environmental expectations of our Democrat brethren, in spite of decades of government regulation and corporate striving, and the only answer (for them) is a nationwide shake-up of our lifestyles and the subsequent wholesale loss of jobs and family incomes, then this country, The United States of America, cannot stand one more immigrant. New people will only make worse the impossible task of feeding ourselves and the world, while drastically reducing our carbon emissions. More immigrants means more cars, more cows, more carnivores, as our immigrants are very much beef eaters, and thus more nasty air. Sorry immigrants, we have already used up our oxygen.

Of course, we can do better for our environment and we will, and this assertion is as absurd as the Green New Deal. Neither is going to happen. And America will continue to lead the world... and most importantly, it must lead with common sense.

It is not time to dumb-down America's productivity, it is time to anticipate the coming starvation in that half of the world that has an admirably small CO2 impact but insufficient industry and agriculture to survive. It will be a very amicable trade off. It is also time to attack pollution where it multiplies unchecked, to begin enforcement, through the United Nations, or International trade, rewarding developing countries who care as much as we do about the environment, and educating those who don't.

The “Green New Deal” has nothing to do with solving the world's problems. It only turns our world upside down, as it proposes to vastly centralize our government by Federalizing our transportation, agriculture, health care and education; A bizarre but misguided compensation for the environmental abuses in two-thirds of the world, where the carbon emissions are growing every day. And democrats know that few promises are being made in these countries to do otherwise. The Green New Deal may be the most presumptuous, the most ambitious, the least feasible, the worst proposal ever submitted to the American public by a national party.

No disrespect to our wonderful Statue of Liberty, and what it represents, but we really can no longer accommodate all the unhappy and oppressed people in the world. And we cannot bear the burden of their sins. American magnanimity was wonderful and noble while it lasted. But we are running out of oxygen- so to speak. It is time to stop bashing ourselves, to meet our global crisis where it is, and to meet and train, and if need be indoctrinate those huddled masses where they are.