Nukes

It is true that in the hands of some unstable leaders, nuclear devices constitute an ongoing threat.

We make every effort to prohibit such devices to North Korea.  Iran probably has nuclear devices and as with North Korea, we try to prohibit such dangerous weapons.

Russia has nuclear devices. Do we complain?

The United States has nuclear devices.

To my knowledge, no other countries attempt to tell Russia or the United States to destroy their nuclear plants and devices.

I certainly do not condone such weaponry, especially in the hands of certain leaders who have openly demonstrated their mental instability. But at the same time, I sit back and wonder.

I wonder what right one sovereign country has to dictate the activities of another. No country would dare tell President Putin to denuclearize his nation. President Trump would lash back with a locker room comment at the suggestion that the United States should destroy our nuclear devices.

Yet we somehow feel that we have the right to hark back to “Manifest Destiny”.  That is to say that since we have superior virtues, we have an obligation to impose them on everyone else and it is our obligation to “teach others the right way”.

Sounds pretty high-toned but does it make any sense?

To follow this line of thinking, we could end up with only one church. We could only buy approved food, drive certain automobiles and so on ad nauseam.

If Kim were to ask the United States to tear down its nuclear facilities and destroy its nuclear devices, we can only imagine the roar of laughter that would echo through Washington.

nuke Just as we as individuals don’t want someone to dictate to us simply because he/she is bigger and stronger, or financially better off, a small country has every right not to be bullied by larger, richer countries. It hardly seems right that one sovereign nation should dictate to another.

Nuclear devices are an alarming threat, no doubt. but there are many ways to get what one wants without threats.

A good start would be to have a president who is “presidential” rather than a sophomoric name-caller.

That’s the way I see it.

 

The “Invasion”

In the states of California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona nearly half the population is of Hispanic origin.

Connected towns along the border such as El Paso-Ciudad Juárez, people come and go freely every day. These cities might be compared to Hungry’s Buda and Pest. Two cities that traditionally have been considered as one and called simply, Budapest.

When a person wishes to go more deeply into either the United States or Mexico, permission must be obtained.
Obtaining permission to visit Mexico is usually quite easy. Obtaining permission to enter the United States can be difficult and take time. For this reason, many poorer citizens slip across the border in order to find work.

The vast majority of these Mexicans are willing to take the most menial jobs. They work at landscaping, general labor, dishwashers and busboys. They become maids. Many do the most tiresome backbreaking work of all. Bent over in agricultural fields beneath an unforgiving sun is a daunting task that few native Americans can or will, handle.

We have close ties to Mexico, not only because so much of the Southwestern population in the United States and Mexico are of Latin American descent but we can take this a step further.

Spain originally claimed the southwestern part of the United States. Once Spain had been driven out, the United States of Mexico claimed it. Eventually, as we all know, Mexico ceded the territory to the United States.

When these two countries are so closely related in culture, language, history, and race, how can we constantly concern ourselves about imaginary crises or invasions?

In the above-cited states, Spanish is widely spoken. in some neighborhoods. English-only speakers are likely to feel as if they’re in Mexico, not the United States.

We’re flooded with taquerías and love ’em. Street vendors peddle tacos daily from their mobile cafés throughout our cities.

We see and enjoy so much of the Mexican heritage from day to day. How can we fear an invasion of poor people who just want to earn a living?

These are not people who are going to “steal” jobs from hard-working Americans. Most US citizens are not interested in working as landscapers, laborers, dishwashers or busboys. Believe me, they not only do not want to work in fields picking lettuce or weeding beets beneath an unforgiving sun. Fact is, most of them can’t. That takes a mindset that harks back to Aztec times. Backbreaking and poorly paid,  workers, are capable and willing to do this until they can begin to move up the ladder.

Everybody starts at the bottom. The Italians, the Irish, Poles, and so on, all looked down on, often despised by citizens. They were Wops, Micks, and Pollacks, etc. But they finally proved their worth and value to our culture.  Instead of accepting people as “Americans”,  many have preferred to refer to them by derogatory names. One way of reinforcing their feeling of “superiority”.  That is not only non-productive but truly unAmerican.

The “invasion” of Asians hasn’t brought much of a fuss. They’re quiet, work hard and support one another in a community effort to build a good environment for themselves and their children. Few people have ever accused them of taking jobs from US citizens.

There is always an element of crime to consider, true.  Criminals do slip in and out of countries. But it would be infinitely less expensive to catch them on a one-to-one basis than to build a wall? Today we also have the advantage of being capable of flying drones to cover vast areas of territory so sitting at a desk one person can monitor a number of drones.  If and when trouble is spotted, the border patrol closest to the problem can be notified.  None of those measures could possibly come near to an outlay of almost six billion taxpayer dollars that could be spent on our severely neglected infrastructure.

In any case, no matter what the racial origins or religious beliefs of any person, we would do well to remember that the entire idea of America was to create a welcoming environment where disadvantaged people could grow and make a better life for all. When we create dissension, distrust, and suspicion, when we call others by names, it only harms all of us.

We can do better than that. We can make America great, but it takes work.

Walls, Walls, Walls…

Since ancient times people have constructed walls to keep them safe from invaders.

History and common sense confirm that walls are a useless expenditure of time and money.

The Bible tells us how the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Walls and moats around castles failed miserably. The only protection they really had was to build in a nearly inaccessible place.

The great wall of China is a monumental work of construction. Sadly, although it was high, wide and long, it too failed.

The Berlin wall failed.

People see walls as a challenge and thrive on devising means to overcome such an obstacle.

People can climb over walls, People can dig under walls. People can sometimes simply storm walls.

With our educational system in the sorry, underfunded state it is, with our bridges, highways and dams creaking with age, imagine how much work five billion dollars could accomplish. Imagine how many Americans could be employed and imagine how much better our country would be. Five billion dollars spent in the right way very possibly could do what our president promised: Make America great again.

But wait! There’s more:

Wall

A fence or hedge separating properties is acceptable because there’s always at least one entrance. The primary use is often to keep pets from annoying neighbors. But what if your neighbor built a ten-foot wall with broken glass along the top or barbed wire?  How would you feel?

The existing ugly and shameful walls we already have between us and our neighbor are an embarrassment to our nation as well as an insult to our neighbor to the south.

Drug dealers get their product in regardless of walls and it’s likely just as much product comes in from Canada as from Mexico.

What next? a wall between us and Canada?

Isn’t this Isolationist state of mind a step back rather than a step forward?

Isn’t that something like going to bed and pulling the covers over our heads in the hope that things will somehow improve while we sleep?

Let’s wake up and try to think like adults. Our closest neighbors can be our allies – or our enemies. Which would you prefer?

 

 

 

 

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Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

 


I know most of the people who lived through the WWII area are gone.

But a few of us old-timers are still here, and we remember.

A glib fellow made all sorts of big promises he knew he couldn’t keep. 

They got him elected.

He was an egomaniac.

He was a genius.

He overruled the counsel of his distinguished and learned generals.

He maneuvered the public by keeping their attention focused on one segment of the population.

He insisted it was a cancer. It was eating away at the country’s wealth.

He didn’t build a wall as such He built a fortified line to separate his country from imaginary invasions.

He built walls surrounding wooden bunkhouses with no amenities. He forced millions of people into them.

Little by little, he decided the best way to deal with the problem was to kill all of them.

By now you probably know I’m talking about Adolph Hitler. Donald Trump may look like a Mussolini clone, but his persona and his actions all spell Hitler.

Ever since arriving at the Whitehouse, President Trump has been pushing the envelope, straining each day for a little more power.

We’re more fortunate than Germany after WWI. Germany had never known democracy. When Hitler came to power, everyone allowed him to gather a group of yesmen around him while he constantly expanded his control of the nation.

He focused the public’s attention on the treatment Germany suffered after the Kaiser’s defeat in WWI and the Jewish population.

He convinced many that it was time for Germany to even the score. He vowed to make Germany “great again”.

This all sounds familiar today. As Mr. Berra would say, ”It’s like déjà vu all over again”.

Presidents are human. In the past, every president has had his faults and had surely done things he later regretted.

The members of our senate and congress are all human too.

All, or nearly all, owe a debt of gratitude to some who contribute large sums of money to help get them elected. Once in office, it’s only natural that at some point, those who contributed large sums of money quietly call in their chits. And lobbyists constantly woo them with sweet offers.

But by and large, each constituent tries to listen to the voters who put him/her in office and do the right thing

The right thing them now is to refuse to allow our president to continue to turn citizens against one another, encourage racial dissension, to encourage violence and instill fear of Mexicans.

 

A Higher Power

Throughout the ages, mankind has felt an ingrown need to look to a higher power for help, guidance, on simply to thank for supposed assistance.

Men have worshiped bulls, cats, the moon, the sun, all sorts of idols. Mankind has imagined a wide variety of unseen but all-powerful gods who, if pleased, can help us, but when displeased, these invisible beings are quite willing to punish us with floods, hurricanes, avalanches and more.

 In the past, for some obscure reason, some decided that sacrifice would help. Animals were often sacrificed (and a banquet would follow since the burning sacrifice smelled delicious). But sometimes that wasn’t enough. Human sacrifice was better. A young virgin sacrificed to some god would buy a lot of indulgence and bounty. Crops would be more abundant, nets would fill with fish and hunting would be better than ever.

If man displeased a god enough, a drought could destroy his crops. Hunters might return empty-handed and the lake might dry up, thus putting an end to the fruitful fishing a tribe might have enjoyed only weeks earlier.

It continues today. We have the luxury and peace of mind in men who proclaim themselves to be Jesus incarnate, or those less ambitious who simply tell their followers they’ve been chosen to receive messages directly from that unseen but omnipresent god. He has chosen them to be his mouthpiece and has commanded followers to be generous with the donations.

Many of these dress in what they consider “holy” clothing, clothing that sets them apart and tells the world that they’re “holy” men or women. Their personal uniform may include colorful capes, outfits similar to those worn by Catholic priests not only in black but in gray or many colors. Some – those fortunate enough to have received a bounty –  enjoy the comfort of expensive automobiles paid for by their humble followers. Considering what they preach, is it any wonder that we question the sanity of either their followers,  them or the god they claim to know on a personal basis?

Even skeptical persons often turn to their personal idea of god to pray for the sake of a loved one who lies near death in a hospital bed. They thank their god if the loved one survives and if he/she doesn’t, it was that person’s time to go.

It’s certainly no sin to believe in a higher power. That can be of great help in any crisis no matter what the outcome. Church attendance too, can be of great benefit in some ways if not all.

The thrust of most churches is to instill honesty, fairness, treating others as we would have them treat us. Many of course forget this the moment they return to their parked vehicles, but children especially may take in a good deal of this counseling and have it embedded in their open and receptive minds.

But the negative aspect of this is that these same children are taught that particular church’s doctrine no matter how illogical or fanciful it may be. This can have a long-lasting negative effect on those same open and receptive minds.

In any case, as an adult if a person derives a sense of security from the belief that a higher power may step in and help a loved one through a crisis, then, in biblical terminology, verily the supplicant has his reward no matter what the outcome.

Perhaps after all, that’s better than having the hopeless feeling of seeing oneself or a loved one in crisis with no one to turn to.

That’s the way I see it. ♥

Shithole Countries

Our president may have referred to countries such as Haiti and the African nations as “shithole countries” and indicated he didn’t want their peoples to come to the United States. He earlier didn’t want Muslims to come in either.

I believe there was a reference to the Norwegians. Why would they particularly want to come to the United States? Norway is not a shithole country and the standard of living is probably higher in most instances than it is here.

Why did Europeans come to America in the first place? They were facing a sometimes hostile environment in a strange place with no cities or facilities save what they managed to scavenge for themselves.  They had to build shelter, hunt food in unknown terrain and do lots of praying. Why would they leave a nice comfy country to endure this? Because they didn’t. They left shithole countries because life had become unbearable and poverty ruled in places where royalty lived like…well, royalty.

America was built on the idea of allowing religious and racial freedom for all. We’ve certainly had our serious setbacks, such as slavery, but today we should be on track.

Unfortunately, we aren’t on track. There are only too many who believe that we should restrict the United States to white Protestants only.  Maybe we could allow Catholics to stay through Christian charity and the entertainment industry would collapse overnight were it not for Jews behind the screen and on it as well. We could probably allow them to stick around.

Okay, that’s about as far as our Christian charity goes. We don’t necessarily like it but after all, being Christians, we have to be charitable. The citizens of Chinese origin are okay because we all love Chinese restaurants.  Besides, most people of Asian descent keep pretty much to themselves and we only interact when we go out for Chinese, Korean, Pho and so on. America without taquerías wouldn’t be America, but we allow that because those people run legitimate (and very necessary) businesses. They aren’t out robbing and raping. ¡Ay Chihuahua! Everybody loves a taco.

Some speak of making America great again. I don’t believe it was ever particularly great, but it could be a lot better if we just minded our own business and took care of our own crumbling country instead of trying to run the rest of the world while  pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into what amounts to bribes or missiles that run as much as $1,500,000.00 a pop. You read that right!

Imagine what $1,500,000.00 would do for our infrastructure right here. And let’s not forget that shameful wall. Jericho didn’t work. The Great Wall of China didn’t work, and the Berlin Wall didn’t work. I have a gut feeling that (a) walls aren’t very efficient and aren’t worth their cost and (b) instead of walls and all the extra border patrol expense, we could use the same sort of border we share with Canada?

If people slip across, so what? Where else are we going to get our landscapers, dishwashers, busboys, general laborers and field workers? Have you ever tried to weed beets in the heat of summer for so little money it’s risible?

We could get by much more cheaply by simply dealing with aliens on a case-by-case basis. When an alien is arrested for a crime, deal with that particular alien. If an alien comes to the attention of authorities for any reason, we can deal with him/her on an individual basis. This alone could save our taxpayers millions of dollars every year while allowing us the dignity of being to walk with our heads up rather than the shame of skulking around behind walls for fear of aliens invading to rob us and rape our womenfolk. We’re talking about our next-door neighbors here; not aliens from outer space.

It’s time to stop talking political rhetoric and focusing our woes on other peoples. Hitler chose to use Jews. President Trump first wants to use Muslims, and so on. Kim Jong Un uses the US as a horrible threat to keep his people walking in fear of a surprise attack by the hated Americans.

These are dated tactics that everyone should understand and choose not to applaud. It’s time for us to grow up and maybe we can, finally, make America great.

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Getting my Exercise

Recently, shortly after my 90th birthday, my doctor felt that I should try to build up my strength. He suggested I drink Ensure® (I can’t stand anything that closely resembles milk, etc. and told him so, but he wanted me to try Ensure®. He also suggested I get a bicycle for some good but easy daily exercise. Okay, he’s the doctor.

The Ensure® was too much for me even to contemplate since I much prefer a bottle of dark beer with my lunch, but I did think a bike might be fun. I hadn’t ridden in many a year. I looked around and found a nice “old-school” bike with balloon tires, one speed (I’d never be able to master even a three-speed, not to mention like ten and up. An additional plus (for me), this baby had that marvel that used to impress me greatly as a kid: New Departure Coaster Brakes.  Although it had been years since I had ridden a bike, they say you never forget and for the most part, I think they’re right. But you do have to consider age and condition.

So far the results have been mixed but encouraging. I cleaned the bike up on April 30th, made sure everything was oiled and working and the next day, May first, I’d take her for a spin around the neighborhood. It also turned out the first of May was a pick-up day for rubbish, tree branches, limbs, etc. Just pile the stuff in the street by the driveway. My next-door neighbor obediently did just that.

I got on my bike in our garage with my wife doubtfully watching and overall, it felt pretty good. I hit the pedals and started down the driveway.  As I did this, perhaps in a burst of unwarranted overconfidence,  laughing and talking over my shoulder to my wife, I didn’t notice the neighbor’s clean-up pile that waited just ahead.

Talk about exercise! I’ll tell you, there’s a lot more to exercise than meets the eye. Man, what an experience, but still, I find it hard that the city can justify nearly $4,000 for the emergency vehicle that took me three miles to the wrong hospital. And since that hospital didn’t use the plan I have, they billed me nearly $2,000 for emergency services and a three-day stay in ICU just to make sure I was going to be all right.

Unfortunately, my insurance plan would only cover those costs if I called ahead and got prior approval. I’m not so sure they’d have approved anyway if I told them I intended to drive my new bike into a pile of rubbish. But being unconscious, I couldn’t have called, so the joke’s on them.

I really feel bad for my poor wife though.  My exercise accident upset her so much she was a nervous wreck. She followed the emergency vehicle in our new Lexus. The entire incident had so upset her that she didn’t see the red light and a beer truck T-boned her. Insurance will cover most of the damage to the car…well, they determined it to be a total loss, and but whatever we end up getting can go toward another car.

I have no idea what her stay will amount to since she has the same medical plan I do, But with the surgery and all, I imagine it’s going to be a pretty stiff number.  But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining here is that she’s not suffering at all, and when she comes out of her coma, the doctors tell me she probably won’t remember a thing about the entire incident.

My doctor did manage to come around to see me. He smiled and said, “The last time I saw you we decided you needed more exercise, didn’t we? Well, perhaps a bicycle is a bit too much so perhaps we should try exercising in the garage.” I liked the part where he kept saying “we”, but he’s a very nice doctor, so I said nothing.

When I was discharged, I donated the bike to The St. Vincent de Paul Society and opted to jog in place inside the garage.

We live in a crazy world. The funniest things happen. Well, it’s my own fault that the oil from my old pickup leaked all over the floor. And since I lost my glasses in the neighbor’s rubbish I didn’t notice the oily floor.

I have to laugh though, at the expression on my son’s face when he came by two days later to see why no one answered the phone.

He said, “Dad, why are you lying here on the garage floor? Don’t you see it’s all oily?”

The upside to all this is that now, back in the hospital, I can have a nurse push my wheelchair up to see my sweet wife. Of course, she can’t talk, but I’m sure she knows I’m there holding her hand (it’s a pity they couldn’t save the other hand, the one that got crushed in the accident), but the upside to that is, now she can get out of a lot of housework I supposed I can do for her.

Well, this exercise business has certainly been an eye-opener and I have lost nearly seven pounds I’m glad I no longer have to carry around.

The moment my wife wakes from her coma, I’ll be sure to write a follow-up. (That is if the burns on my hand permit. Up until now I never dreamed the handles on pots and pans could get so hot, but now that I’m the cook, I’m learning quickly.

Old Man on Bike

Whoever knew a little exercise could be so exciting?

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Islamic Terrorism?

We keep hearing the buzzwords “Islamic Terrorism” from the media.

It’s easy to understand the media’s need to keep people interested and following. Advertising money is what keeps the media rolling. Readers and/or viewers see the advertising. If the media has little to offer, interest dies off and advertisers look elsewhere to peddle their products.

However, keeping the public interested doesn’t necessarily mean we have to use words that are not only untrue, but serve rather to arouse anger and intolerance in others.

Christians have arguably started and/or become involved in more wars and bloodshed than peoples of any other nation.

Starting in the Middle Ages with the intention of wiping out Islam (still an almost unknown religion in most of Europe without the ease of communication we enjoy today), and located across the Mediterranean where few Europeans ever expected to go, good Christians took it upon themselves to make numerous Crusades to wipe these Infidels off the face of our world map.

Before and since that time, not content with waging only religious wars, Christians have managed to become involved in an almost constant stream of warfare for some of the vaguest and most improbable reasons imaginable.

The point here is that, no matter how many wars Christians believers wage, few have ever referred to these conflicts as Christian Terrorism, or the Christian war in Korea or Viet Nam. No one calls our invasion of Iraq the Christian Movement to get Saddam.

Terrorism exists. No doubt of that, and it’s worldwide, but Islam has little or nothing to do with this. While it is true that many factions hide their violent assaults on other peoples behind the veil of Islam, the truth is that they use this as a cover, an excuse for their actions. The real focus of their anger is the common practice of the United States to meddle in the affairs of other countries. It’s true that as a world leader, the United States has a vested interest in keeping an eye on other countries, especially repressive countries. We have an interest in protecting human rights. But where does our interest in human rights end and our interest in the protection of oil wells, and other resources supersede these?

Neither Christian beliefs nor Muslim beliefs promote violence nor intolerance. In Christian communities, some people carry a Bible and many have spent years in close study of this document. Yet everything a Christian needs to know and heed has been stated by Jesus. His words are words to live by, yet we conveniently forget or twist these around so they can fit our purposes. People smile and say, “Do unto others before they do unto you”.

The message brought by Jesus is so simple and straightforward that even the most uneducated should be able to understand and follow it. Mohammed taught essentially the same ideas. In fact, almost all world religions teach exactly the same teachings.

From the very beginnings of life on earth, until today, we  — each and every one, black white, yellow or blue — are related. We’re brothers and sisters. While it’s true that siblings sometimes have disagreements, they seldom attack and even kill one another.

Rodney King may not have been an educator, nor even an upstanding pillar in our society, but he said something very penetrating when he said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

That’s how I see it.

 

 

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