1.6.2022 – the power they have

the power they have
is not the power to destroy
not while this Court sits

I to think about back when.

Back when there were rules and laws and people followed the laws.

Back when there was a level of respect.

Back when we thought that the Government was going to do their best.

Back when, if the Government lost their way, the Supreme Court was there to kick them back into line.

Back in 1928, in a case at the Supreme Court where the State of Mississippi sued to get lost tax revenue back, the Court found for the State.

This decision brought a dissent from Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr. who felt that the the State of Mississippi was in the wrong and was going to far.

“The power to tax is not the power to destroy while this Court sits.” Justice Holmes wrote.

Who knows what he really meant, but it sure sounded like the little guy had a friend in high places.

But things change.

The courts change.

The little guy DID have a friend on the court.

A man who once said, “If my fellow citizens want to go to Hell, I will help them. It’s my job.”

But read that last line of the Haiku.

Not while this Court sits.

Justice Holmes was on the court into his 90’s.

That Court no longer sits.

The power of Government today now seems to be the power to destroy.

1.5.2022 – we saw potential

we saw potential
that we thought we could bring out
actually not

Watching TV last night, one of the ever growing list of do it yourself home repair shows flickered by.

There was a couple standing outside of this house that looked like a on old fashioned barn silo made of corrugated metal, laying over on its side.

The couple who lived there was being interviewed.

“We saw potential we thought we could bring out that never actually happened,” the couple said.

Why do I have this feeling that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and James Madison and all those folks are sitting around somewhere, saying the same thing.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Madison and Mr. Hamilton discussed the possibility of the new country under a new constitution not reaching its’ potential because the country would be broken up by some ‘faction’.

Mr. Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 10 continues the discussion of the destructive role of a faction in breaking apart the republic that Mr. Hamilton started in Federalist No. 9.

Madison defines a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

Madison argues, these factions would be prone to make decisions in their own interest, and not for the public good.

Mr. Madison felt the answer was in a large democracy in the hands of elected delegates.

It was simple, thought Mr. Madison, because in a large republic, there there would be more “fit characters” to choose from for each delegate.

I am fascinated that the founders feared that maybe the United States was too big or would grow to big survive as a Union or that our freedoms would be abused.

I am dismayed that I while I can agree with Mr. Madison, that ‘fit characters’ in Government is a great response, I have to ask today, where did all those ‘fit characters’ go?

I often feel that when the USA poured out the brains, there were all on top, like cream, and now we are left with the bottom of the milk jug.

So much potential for a country less than 300 years old.

Hopefully it will be more than a potential that never actually happened.

12.11.2021 – For he thought will there

For he thought will there
not be security and
peace in my lifetime?

I recently read the article about Congressman Peter Meijer, What the GOP Does to Its Own Dissenters by Tim Alberta that went online on December 7, 2021.

The article tells the story of events of and after January 6, 2021 from the eyes of a someone who had been a member of Congress for all of three days.

Congress, Jan 6, 2021 from the iPhone of Congressman Peter Meijer

The read was incredibly sad.

Sad because Mr. Meijer is a Representative from where I used to live.

From where the majority of my family still lives.

A place where I have a lot of friends and contacts.

These people play a major role in the story told by Mr. Meijer.

The role they play is the role of ‘the voters at home’ who take to their texts, phones, twitter feeds, facebook post and face to face meetings with Mr. Meijer to express their displeasure at his actions in Congress.

What did Mr. Meijer do?

The article explains, ” . . . he joined Gonzalez and eight other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump. Meijer was the only freshman among them – and the only freshman in U.S. history to vote to impeach a president of his own party.

Why Mr. Meijer cast that vote?

Mr. Meijer, the article says, contacted Congressman Anthony Gonzalez.

Mr. Gonzalez was voting for impeachment and Mr. Meijer asked why.

I can convince myself not to vote for impeachment,” Gonzalez said. “But if my son asks me in 20 years why I didn’t vote for impeachment, I couldn’t convince him.”

The long view.

It is one of this historical accidents that Mr. Meijer represents they same group of people who, in their day, elected Gerald R. Ford to Congress over and over again.

This same congressional district from 1893 to 1993 elected ONE, thats right, ONE, Democrat.

The one Democrat was elected in a special election in 1974.

And WHY?

These people.

These conservative Dutch folks wanted to send a message to Washington.

President Richard Nixon had gone too far and beyond the powers of his office.

The country had been watching the Presidency of Mr. Nixon unravel in front of their faces as their read their newspapers, listened to the radio’s and watched their TVs.

When Mr. Nixon appointed Mr. Ford to replace the disgraced Vice President, the people back in Mr. Ford’s home town, in a special election, sent the first Democrat to Congress in 80 years.

Mr. Ford told Mr. Nixon that the people in Grand Rapids had sent Mr. Nixon a message.

Now the people back home in Grand Rapids are watching today’s political events unravel on their iphones, their twitter feeds and facebook.

The people back home in Grand Rapids took to these same tools to send messages to Mr. Meijer.

According to the article, while thinking about his vote, Mr. Meijer, “leafed through a copy of The Federalist Papers, hoping for an epiphany.”

The article states that Mr. Meijer was, “believing that he was on the right side of history, and that an awakening was at hand.

Mr. Meijer took the long view.

The long view doesn’t mean much today.

There are a lot of headlines and statements that seem to show that if the future of the country, the future of democracy, is at stake, folks don’t care.

I am reminded of the history of King Hezekiah as recounted in the book TWO KINGS, in the Old Testament.

Hezekiah had been promised by God that there would be 15 more years of his life and during that time, his kingdom would be at peace.

But after that, the Bible says that, “Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord.”

And what did Hezekiah think of such dire portents for his kingdom, his land and his subjects?

The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?

If you cannot take the long view, and the long view is of course under God’s plan, but if you cannot take the long view as much as any person can.

Why would you care?

Everything can all go to smash.

It will take time.

Nothing will be left.

Will there not be peace and security in your lifetime?

For Mr. Meijer, it says in the article, “His optimism didn’t last long.”

Like I said, the article, was very sad.

12.9.2021 – people are trapped

people are trapped
in impossible, yet still strangely
plausible problems

Perspective.

It’s all about perspective.

In the old TV Show, Barney Miller, NYPD Police Captain Barney Miller’s reoccurring lecture to the people who passed through the police station focused on “not losing one’s perspective.”

The theme was so familiar that it led to this exchange …

Detective Ron Harris : Barney, his wife has decided not to press charges, so I let him go after giving him that spiel you always give about “not losing one’s perspective.”
Captain Barney Miller : I’m … flattered that you chose to use it.
Detective Ron Harris : Well, I thought it oughta be in the public domain by now

I found the words for today’s Hiaku in the article, From snubbing Mick Jagger to explaining the cosmos: the secret life of MC Escher and his impossible worlds by Jonathan Jones in the Guardian today.

The article is a review of the just-released Kaleidocycles, a book that according to the review, lets you make paper cut outs of MC Escher paintings.

Mr. Jones wrote:

You are walking up a staircase that winds up to the top of a tall square tower.

It ascends one side, then the next, then the next – and then suddenly you are right back where you started.

This is the kind of problem people who are trapped in the geometrically impossible, yet still strangely plausible, worlds of MC Escher have to deal with all the time. ‘

In his mind-boggling creations, dimensions collide and normality dissolves.

Somewhere in the years at Crestview Elementary school in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I grew up, one of our text books had the MC Escher painting, Which way up?

Maybe it wasn’t in a text book but in a book from our library.

I remember looking at this picture over and over again.

I would trace the steps with my finger tips.

I would think this is so cool.

I would think this is so nutz!

In my mind I can remember standing at someone’s desk, looking down at the book along with both hands on the pages of the book to hold it as flat as possible.

What I was looking at wasn’t possible?

Was it?

I understood perspective a little.

I covered most of my school work and the margins of my textbooks with doodles of a 3D cube.

Did the cube go up and to the left or go down to the right?

Both impossible, yet still strangely plausible

Perspective.

Keep ones’ perspective.

Don’t lose your perspective.

But from where I stand … so many problems today are a problem of perspective and most of these problems are both impossible, yet still strangely plausible.

On the one hand, (saying this without judgment either way okay?) we have a feller who ran for the office of President of the United States and by all accounts this feller lost.

But this feller will not accept this and many people cannot understand his perspective.

If one reads, and it seems like I have read them all, the ‘inside’ accounts of the election, no one and I MEAN NO ONE, dared tell this feller he was losing.

Throughout election night and the next days as votes were counted, no one, and I MEAN NO ONE, dared this feller he did not win.

To this day, this feller cannot admit the he did not win.

Other feelings aside, at this point, I find it hard to blame him as his reasonings, from his perspective, are strangely plausible.

I cannot say that had I been in the his place, based on the information he received, that I would feel any different.

AGAIN, and this is important, I am treating this as a laboratory case to examine the perspective of one individual and to comment on that individuals’ perspective based on the information received by that individual ASIDE from the body of work produced by this individual.

All I am saying is I can see his point, as it were.

This world’s history is filled, littered, with folks who only got the information they wanted to hear from their entourage and most likely never did accept that their information was wrong.

Often I come back to John F. Kennedy and the criticism he got for appointing his little brother Bobby, Attorney General of the Untitled States.

RFK was 35 without much experience to which JFK said, “I can’t see that it’s wrong to give him a little legal experience before he goes out to practice law.

Such was the predicted furor over the appointment that JFK said he felt like opening his door at 3AM and whispering, ‘It’s Bobby’ to the street and going back to bed.

Here is the point, when he made the appointment, JFK said something along the lines that what he needed was someone in the Cabinet that would tell him when they thought he, the President, was wrong.

JFK trusted that RFK would do that.

If you read the history of JFK’s and RFK’s discussions over the the LBJ pick for VP, I think JFK got what he wanted from RFK.

Maybe this should be made a Cabinet position.

A lifetime appointment for someone designated to tell the President when he is wrong.

Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, sure.

But again, I can understand, with the team this feller had in place, this fellers perspective.

And, by the way, who wants to be the bearer of bad news?

With that in mind, if you were this feller, how cannot you want to quote Joe Jacobs out loud and say, WE WUZ ROBBED?

Richard Nixon yelled ‘WE WUZ ROBBED’ back in 1960.

The Republican Party called for a recount of votes in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois where Mr. Nixon lost by around 8,000 votes.

If I remember it correctly, it was in the book, BOSS, about Chicago’s Mayor Daley by Mike Royko, that explained how the Cook County Board of Elections managed the recount.

Mr. Royko explained that all the ballots were thrown at the ceiling.

Any ballot that stuck was considered a Republican vote.

Guess how the report came out?

Can’t you see today’s Twitter videos of this?

Mr. Nixon didn’t like it but he accepted the report.

But I digress.

Perspective.

So much of what is presented in the news today are impossible problems.

Impossible problems that are still strangely plausible.

They are mind-boggling creations where dimensions collide and normality dissolves.

Try to maintain one’s perspetive.

Try to follow the arguements without losing one’s perspective.

You go up one side, then the next, then the next – and then suddenly you are right back where you started.

MC Escher and his paintings.

In his mind-boggling creations, dimensions collide and normality dissolves.

Normality dissolves.

And, just for fun, remember what was said in the book Godel, Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. (At least I think this is where is was said.)

“All Escher paintings,” wrote Hofstadter, “are connected from the back.”

12.5.2021 – gross negligence , a

gross negligence , a
disregard, failure to act
no job, not your job

Another school.

Another school shooting.

Reading a legal analysts discussion of charges against the parents, I was struck by these sentences:

To convict the parents of involuntary manslaughter, the state will have to prove that the parents were “grossly negligent” in allowing their son access to a firearm, and that their gross negligence caused the deaths of the students.

Gross negligence means more than just carelessness. It means willfully disregarding the results to others from the failure to act.

Thursday night in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints without their head coach due to Covid 19 Protocols.

Defensive Coach and one time Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn took over for the game.

Asked about the win, Coach Quinn said this.

I think it’s really an example of leadership from Mike and to say what happens when the leader is not here.”

Everybody had to chip it in and say, ‘No job is not your job right now. By any means necessary, we’ve got to get this job done.'”

Thinking back to the legal analyst and the sentence, It means willfully disregarding the results to others from the failure to act.

Thinking hard about the failure to act.

Thinking hard about the failure to act, I want to say, “No job is not your job right now. By any means necessary, we’ve got to get this job done.”

No job is not your job right now.

By any means necessary.

We’ve got to get THIS job done.

11.19.2021 – testing that nation

testing that nation
so conceived dedicated
how long can endure?

Mr. Thomas Jefferson, explaining the reasoning behind the Declaration of Independence, wrote that all men are created equal.

I feel that Mr. Jefferson really meant what he said.

But I also feel that Mr. Jefferson accepted that all men are created equal in the abstract, he could not figure a way of how it might be achieved in reality.

Mr. Jefferson saw that the wieght of human history and the current lifestyle of most Americans was proving his statement that all men are created equal to be, if not wrong, at least wistful thinking.

A fire bell in the night, Mr. Jefferson called it.

When the bell rang and the United States was called on for an answer, their answer was to fight the Civil War.

Review the history of that war and you can understand why Mr. Jefferson was reluctant to even look for an answer of how to achieve a country where all men are created equal.

It was left to Abraham Lincoln to try and explain why the Civil War was being fought.

It was 158 years ago today that Mr. Lincoln, in a short, short, short 272 word speech explained, “. . . our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.

Mr. Lincoln was speaking at the dedication ceremony of a vast cemetery on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

Mr. Lincoln recognized that great as the battle, the struggle that the country was in at that moment, that there was more to do.

Somehow back in 1863, Mr. Lincoln spoke to us.

Mr. Lincoln said, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work.

The unfinished work.

This country is a work in progress.

No kidding.

The testing, every day, the testing goes on.

Here is the full text, all 272 words of Mr. Lincoln’s Remarks at Gettysburg.

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

10.26.2021 – is temporary

is temporary
continued postponement still
necessary … what?

I admit it.

My faith in the Government of the United States has been, well, shaken, stirred, somewhat less that it might have been?

Yes yes yes, I told all the jokes.

Quoted Ronald Reagan, “The scariest words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the Government and I am hear to help.'”

Mark Twain’s, “Suppose I was insane and suppose I ran for Congress. But, wait, I repeat myself.”

And not to forget Mr. Jefferson’s, “The Government that governs least, governs best.”

STILL.

I like my country.

I like my government.

All its faults, it is what it is.

But of late I worry about it.

It is just not the same.

Then along comes a document and some of that old buddy-buddy goofy gotcha feeling was little bit restored.

Did you see it?

It was a document released by the White House as an official “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” dated October 22, 2021.

In part it stated:

Temporary continued postponement is necessary to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

This is such a wonderful collection of words of multi syllables hammered together in such a wonderful way that it, in part, restored my faith in my government to respond like a government.

It could have been said by Humphrey Appleby.

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
I foresee all sorts of of unforeseen problems.

Jim Hacker:
Such as?

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
If I could foresee them, they wouldn’t be unforeseen.

My old Government!

It can still sling out the verbiage with the best of them.

Temporary continued postponement is necessary.

Just say that out loud.

It’s … it’s … Shakespearean!

Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations.

I am not talking about names or personalities here, but the monolithic double speak that is written by the body of government, the all inclusive, corporate beast that mandates or tries to mandate things like Fair Labor, Un-American Activities, Interstate Commerce and the Services of Internal Revenue through the use of the English language.

I don’t know.

Harm that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

See that all inclusive, military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations!

The use of OR here is magnificent.

Somehow restores my faith in Government you know?

Lets not leave out what the memorandum is about.

The full title is, in all its’ governmentalease glory, “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated back in 1963.

More than 60 years ago.

Lee Harvey Oswald was one of the youngest people in the story,

Oswald would be 84.

Anyone in else involved the conspiracy, planning and or coverup is most likely … dead.

Yet our Government is telling us that they HAVE documents about the conspiracy, planning and or coverup, that if released would cause identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

The mind boggles.

Did LBJ do it?

Did Lady Bird do it?

Are we at a point that I have to explain who LBJ and Lady Bird were?

Are they now as obscure as Babushka Lady, Umbrella Man and the Three Tramps?

I have to interject, those are all real personages in the JFK assassination story.

Good ahead and do the Google if you have to.

But come on.

Identifiable harm of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest?

Oh I don’t know.

Somehow it was reassuring that the government had not lost its touch.

As Mr. Twain writes in The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, “There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory.”

I won’t hold my breath but maybe the next time we can get, permanent temporary continued postponement.

8.17.2021 – experiences teach

experiences teach
appalling reluctant lack
imagination

In the book, Potsdam : the end of World War II and the remaking of Europe by Michael Neiberg, the author writes, “As the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote at the end of the war, “The man of the East cannot take the Americans seriously,” because “they have never undergone the experiences that teach men how relative their judgments and thinking habits are.” Because neither the Americans nor the British had suffered as Eastern Europe had, Milosz concluded, “their reluctant lack of imagination is appalling.”

To underline what the Russian’s suffered in World War 2, Mr. Neiberg presents data on relative civilian deaths.

As Mr. Neiberg writes, “The difference in the numbers of civilian deaths puts the case even more starkly.”

Mr. Neiberg cites:

An estimated 14.6 million Soviet civilians died in World War 2.

The British lost 67,100 civilians.

The Americans lost 1,700 civilians.

Mr. Nieberg then states, “Sometimes smaller numbers tell the story better. To cite one poignant example, the city of Stalingrad, which had a prewar population of 850,000, had just nine children with both parents still alive at the end of the war.”

I am not in a position to confirm or dispute these numbers.

I do not doubt the statement, “Because neither the Americans nor the British had suffered as Eastern Europe had, their reluctant lack of imagination is appalling.”

A lack of imagination.

I feel you have to excuse people who have lack of imagination.

My problem is an over abundant imagination.

My family is full of anecdotes about “Mike telling stories again.”

BUT a reluctant lack of imagination.

An active choice to choose to not have or use imagination.

That is an indictment.

I cannot imagine is one thing.

I will not imagine is another.

The latter in many cases, is appalling.

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If you visit there, you can tour the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

When it was built in its distinctive triangle shape, political satirist Mark Russell said it was because there wasn’t enough stuff to hang on four walls.

Ever since, locals have been working to come up with more stuff to prove Mr. Russell wrong.

One historical artifact you can see is the ‘Saigon Staircase.”

While it is NOT the stairway that reaches to the very top of the US Embassy that you see in all the photographs it IS a stairway you had to take to get to that stairway.

It still WAS part of the only way out of Saigon when the US pulled out.

Maybe its me but not really a highlight of the Ford Administration.

But they try to make it fit.

When the exhibit was opened back in 1999, former President GR Ford, said, “No doubt each visitor will interpret this staircase and its historical significance for himself. For many, it was both a way out of a nightmare – and a doorway into something incomparably better. To some it will always be seen as an emblem of military defeat.”

President Ford said, “… it symbolizes man’s undying desire to be free.”

I do not know how anyone could look at that stairway and the photographs of the US exit from Vietnam and not have the imagination to apply those images to the present time.

How can you look at those photographs with the idea of man’s undying desire to be free and not have the imagination that this could, would happen all over again?

Should not the experience have taught something?

Leaving Afghanistan was a way out of a nightmare.

The reluctant lack of imagination of what would happen once the US pulled out, is appalling.

Neither here nor there but I also came across a another speech the other day.

The speaker said:

Every gun that is made,

every warship launched,

every rocket fired signifies … a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,

those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers,

the genius of its scientists,

the hopes of its children.

The year was 1953.

The speaker was then President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Also known as Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ike doesn’t get a lot of credit today.

I was taught that one of the criticisms of Ike as President is that he never had to handle a major crisis.

I was also taught that Ike never had to handle with a major crisis because he was the type of President that kept major crises from happening.

As Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, I think Ike had a pretty good idea of what war was and what war did.

I think he most likely had the imagination to understand what the Russians went through.

I think when Ike said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies … a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he knew what he meant and and he meant every word.

His grandson David (husband of Julie Nixon which allowed Richard Nixon to introduce himself as General Eisenhower’s Grandson’s Father-in-Law) was asked if he thought his Granddad would be best remembered for being a General or being a President?

David replied along the lines of, “This country has had 40 plus Presidents. The world has had one Supreme Commander.”

Experiences teach.

If there is the imagination to learn.

8.3.2021 – that boy called wolf

that boy called wolf
but remember the last time …
there really was a wolf

I was reading an article this morning that titled, “The Anatomy of a Rumor.

The abstract stated, “The rumor that the President was plotting to use election-eve violence as an excuse for massive repression of students and blacks, mass ar­rests, and suspension of Constitu­tional guarantees to keep the dis­senters behind bars… The rumor was really saying that a Reichstag fire was in the works.”

Okay, that wasn’t the real abstract.

The real abstract states, “The rumor had Nixon plotting to use election-eve violence …”

Can’t make this stuff up.

The story was from the Village Voice online archive and had been originally published on November 5, 1970.

You can click on the link and read if for yourself if you want too.

The premise is that, “The original newspaper story explained that Nixon was alarmed by the Bank of America burning, the 11th Street “bomb factory” explosion, the Weatherman blast at police department headquarters, and the sudden wave of bomb scares, and concerned about possible bombing of polling places and other left wing attempts to disrupt the Presidential cam­paign. But the rumor that preceded the story and mushroomed all over the country afterward had Nixon plotting to use election-eve violence as an excuse for massive repression of students and blacks, mass ar­rests, and suspension of Constitu­tional guarantees to keep the dis­senters behind bars. It was a rumor not so much about cancellation of elections as it was about cancellation of the left it­self.”

It is a fascinating read.

The story also had that quote from Attorney General John Mitchell, “This country is going so far to the right you aren’t going to recognize it.”

Mr. Mitchell said that back in 1970.

A case of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose I guess.

One short line in the story that I found most chilling was, “The important thing to remember about the story of the boy who cried “wolf” is that there really was a wolf there that last time.

Lots to worry about today.

A lot more voices are crying WOLF than just the one little boy.

So many voices.

So many wolves.

I feel I should be concerned.

I feel I should be aware THAT THAT LAST TIME THERE REALLY WAS A WOLF.

But know what?

Boy do I really find it hard to believe that this is that last time.

The Shepherd Boy & the Wolf

A Shepherd Boy tended his master’s Sheep near a dark forest not far from the village. Soon he found life in the pasture very dull. All he could do to amuse himself was to talk to his dog or play on his shepherd’s pipe.

One day as he sat watching the Sheep and the quiet forest, and thinking what he would do should he see a Wolf, he thought of a plan to amuse himself.

His Master had told him to call for help should a Wolf attack the flock, and the Villagers would drive it away. So now, though he had not seen anything that even looked like a Wolf, he ran toward the village shouting at the top of his voice, “Wolf! Wolf!”

As he expected, the Villagers who heard the cry dropped their work and ran in great excitement to the pasture. But when they got there they found the Boy doubled up with laughter at the trick he had played on them.

A few days later the Shepherd Boy again shouted, “Wolf! Wolf!” Again the Villagers ran to help him, only to be laughed at again.

Then one evening as the sun was setting behind the forest and the shadows were creeping out over the pasture, a Wolf really did spring from the underbrush and fall upon the Sheep.

In terror the Boy ran toward the village shouting “Wolf! Wolf!” But though the Villagers heard the cry, they did not run to help him as they had before. “He cannot fool us again,” they said.

The Wolf killed a great many of the Boy’s sheep and then slipped away into the forest.

Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth.

The Æsop for Children from the Library of Congress

6.18.2021 – defy ignorance

defy ignorance
of vested prejudices
vested interests

17 syllables, 7 words and more situational application than you can shake a stick at, if that’s your idea of a good time.

If I started listing the different situations in the current news cycle that these 7 words could be applied, the list would soon be hiring than the Empire State Building and its 102 floors.

I adapted today’s haiku from a “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West” written by Wallace Stegner and published in 1954.

Major John Wesley Powell was the one armed explorer of Wonderful World of Disney fame who rafted down the Colorado River in 1869 and located the Grand Canyon and invented a tourist sport at the same time.

Major Powell also served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881–1894.

When Mr. Stegner wrote about Major Powell, Stegner was able to comment about the problem of living out west.

Living out in the American West where there was LOTS of SUNSHINE, LOTS of WILD FIRES and VERY LITTLE WATER.

Mr. Stegner was able to comment about as Major Powell noticed that there would be issues.

Major Powell published in 1878 a government paper titled: Report on the Lands of the Arid Regions of the United States.

According to one account, Major Powell, “. . . unflinchingly described the scarcity of water, and summarized that much of the American south-west, if it must be settled, should be settled lightly and modestly. Overpopulate it, and it will be unforgiving.”

According to Mr. Stegner, “As a government scientist, Major Powell was now defying ignorance. He was taking on vested interests and the vested prejudices by which they maintained themselves.”

As one account puts it, Major Powell was a sage.

And what does sage mean?

According to the online Merriam-Webster it means:

Wise through reflection and experience.

Proceeding from or characterized by wisdom, prudence, and good judgment.

One (such as a profound philosopher) distinguished for wisdom.

A mature or venerable person of sound judgment.

So what happened to Major Powell and his report?

No one listened to him.