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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mourning For The Country

For most of the last three months, I have been mourning for the country.  Beginning on November 9, 2016, immediately after the announcement that Hillary Clinton had lost the presidential election, I have fluctuated between utter disgust, bafflement, and grief.  How could such a highly qualified candidate lose, even in a close election, to such a markedly unqualified, ignorant, hate filled, and evil man?  Then the announcement came from the seventeen US intelligence agencies that the election apparatus had been tampered with, in favor of Donald Trump, in several states through the use of the Russian hacker network known as Fancy Bear.  Now the whole outcome in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan made a lot more sense.  A glaring statistical anomaly in key precincts in these three states and Florida had been discovered.  The key precincts were all won by Trump with shockingly similar voting percentages, far too close to identical to be accidental.  I found myself going from disgust, bafflement, and grief to anger.  It has become more and more clear as we have gotten farther away from the election that some kind of effort was put forth on the part of Putin and the Russian government in order to influence the election in favor of Trump.  Theories about their motives range from a simple desire to see the American electoral process in turmoil to outright treason and collusion on Trump's part.  

Earlier in the year, Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, had been forced to resign because of his history of involvement with Russia in Ukraine.  Trump's eventual choice as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one of the least qualified nominees ever named for a cabinet post, had done extensive business in Russia and even accepted an award from Putin known as the Russian Order of Friendship.  Additionally, the Washington Post has called Trump's collective nominees for cabinet posts "The Worst Cabinet In American History".

Trump's assemblage of liars, thieves, potential traitors and criminals is collectively a motley crew who have been assembled deliberately to provide Trump with an entourage that will not question his actions or motives no matter how insane or criminal they may be.  There is Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, who once could not remember the name of the department which he has been chosen to direct and has been indicted, but sadly not convicted, of abuse of power in Texas during his time in office.   There is Betsy DeVos, a member of the same family which built the worst pyramid scheme in American history, Amway.
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos actually stated that American schools should have guns on campus to protect students from grizzly bears. She is also an outspoken advocate for charter schools which are nothing more than religious based means to deprive public schools and students of federal education funds. There are other equally unqualified and ignorant people in this gang of thieves.  There is Scott Pruitt, appointed to head the EPA, who has been the most virulent enemy of the agency over the last several years.  There is Jeff Sessions, chosen to be Attorney General, who in 1986 was refused a federal judgeship because he was too racist at a time when virtually no level of racism could get an appointee denied a judgeship.  

Obviously, I have plenty of reason to grieve for the country.  But, as January 2017 comes to an end, I have realized that grieving is not productive.  I need to work, as does every other committed citizen to help bring an end to the gang of Right Wing Radical criminals being able to destroy American Democracy.  Citizens of a democracy can and must speak out on a daily basis to defend that democracy.  Citizens of Germany in the 1930's stood silent as Adolph Hitler and the Nazis seized control of power in Germany, began World War II, and perpetrated the Holocaust.  American citizens cannot allow this gang to do the same in the greatest country in the world.  My time for grief is over.  My time of diligent resistance is here.  I will work every day to help America prevent the disaster which is even now unfolding in Washington.  So should you!

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."   Thomas Paine

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017

Today is January 20, 2017, one of the darkest, blackest, most dangerous days in American History.  The White House is about to be occupied (I use the military sense of the word.) by a self admitted sex offender, career criminal, and likely traitor who was assisted by a dictator to win an illegal election.  He has assembled what the Washington Post has called "The Worst Cabinet In History",  a band of equally unsavory, amoral, and unintelligent criminals and thieves to assist him in his destruction of the American dream.  It will now be up to the average American citizen to stand up just as they did in the late 18th century to prevent and destroy tyranny.  Nearly every good, decent, productive, and honorable program ever created by the federal government since the Great Depression will be under attack.  There is little doubt that the TRAITOR Trump has committed far more than sufficient crimes to qualify as the "high crimes and misdemeanors" which the US Constitution calls for as necessary for removal from office.  Ordinary citizens need to fight to see to that Trump is indicted, convicted, impeached, and imprisoned for his crimes past, present, and future.  The effort to do that needs to begin today and you need to be a part of that effort.  Go to work to help save America, my friend!

 "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." Thomas Paine

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Reading List For The Resistance 2017 to 2021

Guidebooks For The Battle Against Trump


As January 20, 2017, we, as a country, are faced with a White House which is occupied by a person who has committed treason in cooperation with a foreign power according to several credible diplomatic and intelligence professionals.  When I use the word "occupy" in relation to Donald Trump and the White House, I always use it in the military sense.  The White House is occupied by an apparent agent of a foreign government which everyone in the world agrees is dedicated to the destruction of American style democracy worldwide.  It is beginning to appear less likely that any form of enforcement action can be taken against Donald Trump short of impeachment and imprisonment which will prevent his being able to put his criminal, self centered, and highly dangeorus plans into action.  The recent report from the US Intelligence Agencies clearly states the fact that Russia, under the direction of President Putin, assisted Donald Trump's election efforts by hacking numerous US entities including the Democratic Party and several state election systems.  What that report did not do is clearly link Putin's actions to Trump's cooperation and that is the flaw which has allowed Trump to occupy the White House.  Yet, I have little doubt that Trump and several others in his organization including Tillerson, Bannon, and Manafort committed treason in cooperation with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government hacking program.  Their close ties to the Russians are well known.  We just don't have the audio and video of the conversations which led to the hacking.  Therefore, it is the responsibility of every loyal American citizen to resist Donald Trump, his entire organization, and all their efforts to damage this country.  

Any resistance is best conducted by well read and well informed citizens.  I had put out a short reading list on social media before the election in an attempt to help American voters to understand the dangers which are presented by Donald Trump and his twisted version of reality.  Trump is clearly mentally ill and most mental health professionals who have spoken and written on the subject have said they believe he is an antisocial personality disorder with megalomania. People with antisocial personality disorder are what the general public usually refer to as psychopaths or sociopaths. They have no conscience and all their actions are intended to benefit only them without regard for the needs of anyone else in the world. Megalomania is the uncontrolled and uncontrollable desire for power.  Donald Trump has now achieved every megalomaniac's ultimate dream.  He now has tremendous power.  By virtue of his mental illness and power, he is now officially the most dangerous human alive.  I urge every citizen of this country to use all legal means to fight Donald Trump's efforts on a daily basis and to become as well informed as possible about him, President Putin, their aides and assistants, and the people whose work they emulate.  I am creating the following suggested reading list for your consideration.  I will regularly add works to it as I find more.  I will also add appropriate suggestions from readers to this list if you leave them in a comment to this post or if you send me an E-mail at my listed address.

United States Constitution The US Constitution and individual rights will be under attack from the first second the Republicans take control of the US government.  Donald Trump has already, on numerous occasions, stated a desire to restrict freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and all rights of Muslim citizens and immigrants in general.  Every citizen should have a solid understanding of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.  Every citizen should also be willing to stand up and speak out in defense of these basic principles of American Democracy at any time Trump or his generally uneducated, ignorant, and unprincipled followers make attacks on these concepts.  The Capitol Net publishes pocket copies of the Constitution and many other important American political documents which are cheap and easily ordered from their web site.   Capitol Net will actually send you a free pocket copy of the Constitution upon request. Get a copy, read it, study it, understand it, carry it with you wherever you go, and be prepared to confront ignorance about the foundations of American Democracy wherever you encounter it. 

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay Do not ever listen to and accept the opinion of another about what the Founding Fathers thought, intended, or wanted.  Read what they said for yourself and form your own opinion.  

"Mein Kampf" by Adolph Hitler Donald Trump's campaign was a carbon copy of the campaign Hitler used to gain power in Germany.  One of Trump's ex-wives has stated that he kept a copy of Hitler's speeches by his bed.  Many of the same techniques Adolph Hitler used to gain and maintain power are the same being used by Donald Trump today and that use is not accidental.  It is deliberate emulation of Adolph Hitler. 

"Night" by Elie Wiesel This is a classic and powerful personal account of the Holocaust by a Jewish survivor who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his work to bring about world peace. And, yes, it can happen here.  Trump has uncovered, nurtured, spread, and encouraged a great deal of hatred already in this country.  With great power, he will do worse.  

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak This is a fictional work about the Holocaust written for adolescent audiences.  But it does an excellent job of informing the reader of how the Nazis spread terror during the Holocaust.  It is well worth reading by the adult reader to learn about how terror is spread by unjust governments.  While this book is fiction, the descriptions of Nazi terrorism in Germany are factually based and quite accurate. 

Black Earth The Holocaust As History And Warning by Timothy Snyder One of the most cogent quotations from history comes from the philosopher George Santayana:  "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Donald Trump is backed by a coalition of extremist groups ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to the American Nazi Party.  Trump has consistently refused to condemn them, their ideologies, or their actions.  Here is a link to a great story from Mother Jones about those groups.  Most of the followers of these groups are psychologically very similar to the German citizens who became Hitler's Brown Shirts and SS Troopers.  And the most important thing to remember about the Germans who carried out Adolph Hitler's crimes against humanity is that before Adolph Hitler rose to power those people were considered to be ordinary German citizens just as most of Trump's followers would have us believe they are ordinary American citizens.  This book by Timothy Snyder looks at the Holocaust both as a historical event and as an event that could be repeated if the people of today do not heed the warnings provided by the Holocaust.  

Stubborn Twig: Three Generations In The Life Of A Japanese American Family For those of you who do not believe that anything remotely resembling the crimes of the Holocaust could happen in America, this book is a must read as Donald Trump rises to power after having preached disrespect, disregard, and unconstitutional labeling of groups in America such as the media, Muslims and immigrants.  It details the life of a very successful and patriotic Japanese American family which had their land and property seized during World War II and were sent off to interment camps simply because of their ethnicity.  Yes, it can happen in America and it already has under the administration of one of the greatest American Presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

The Cherokee Removal A Brief History With Documents edited by Theda Perdue & Michael Green  For those of you who have read "Stubborn Twig..." and still find yourselves saying it couldn't happen here, it already has...twice, once to the Japanese Americans and once to the Cherokee.  In many ways, the disrespect that Trump shows to Muslims and immigrants is a lot like the attitude which Andrew Jackson showed the Native Americans.  

The United States Of Appalachia How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment To America by Jeff Biggers  This book will teach you a great deal about the birth of American Democracy, especially for those of you who have never heard of the State Of Franklin.  Jeff Biggers will also show you a lot about how a few dedicated citizens can change a country for the better. 

A Nation Defiant Polish Resistance To The German Occupation Of Poland by Richard S. Fuegner  The only way the country will be able to successfully resist, confront, and stop the destruction of American Democracy by Traitor Trump and his henchmen will be by utilizing a committed, determined, and well organized populist resistance.  Such a resistance is forming in America and can win this battle in the long run but that resistance must learn techniques which have been successful in other periods and other places.  This is an excellent book about the Polish resistance and will teach you a lot.

When Even Angels Wept by Lately Thomas During 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin led an effort known as the Communist Witch Hunts which destroyed the lives and careers of many thousand falsely accused Americans.  Senator McCarthy, another classic megalomaniac, led a senate investigation into alleged communism in the country and dragged hundreds and thousands of innocent socially active people in front of the committee where they were pilloried, denigrated, and defamed with little to no evidence in most cases.  Many of these people spent the rest of their lives unemployed, defamed, and in poverty.  But Senator McCarthy was confronted and stopped before he could completely destroy the country and American Democracy.  This is a great book to learn about one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the country and to utilize that knowledge to prevent TRAITOR Trump and his henchmen from perpetrating another such crime.  

I hope every person who reads this post will go on to read at least one of the listed works, especially the United States Constitution, which will be under attack for the next four years by the Republican Party whether or not Donald Trump is successfully prosecuted for treason.  

 These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." Thomas Paine

Friday, January 6, 2017

You Don't Need A Reason In A Bluegrass Song

Today, while we were traveling to and from an appointment in Mount Sterling, KY, my wife Candice and I listened to a couple of Bluegrass CD's which we hadn't listened to in a while including Ralph Stanley's classic "Saturday Night" CD, Larry Sparks' "40" disc, and Dale McCoury's "Del And The Boys" album which contains one of the best Bluegrass songs ever recorded, "Vincent Black Lightning 1952" which was actually written by the great rock and roll guitarist Richard Thompson.  Actually, every one of those discs contains more than one Bluegrass classic recording.  Candice grew up in East Central Wisconsin and never listened to Bluegrass until we were married and she moved to Eastern Kentucky.  At first exposure, she frequently responded "it makes my ears hurt" but she has become a devout Bluegrass aficionado over the last twenty-five years.  But today, as she sometimes does in the middle of a Bluegrass song about death or murder she asked "but why did he kill her". This time she asked that question in response to "Banks Of The Ohio".  My first response, which I still think was a good one, was "you don't need a reason in a Bluegrass song".  But, if you listen to the lyrics, you will hear the words "I killed the girl I love you see because she would not marry me."  As is true with "Banks Of The Ohio", most Bluegrass songs which involve the murder of a loved one or an innocent do contain some stated reason for the murder. 

Bluegrass Banjo

The next best example of this type of song that pops into my head is "Pretty Polly".  Late in the song, the reason for the murder is clearly given: "Willie, Little Willie, I'm afraid of your ways The way you've been rambling you'll lead me astray".  The young Polly is clearly afraid that her lover, Little Willie  will lead her astray.  We don't clearly hear exactly how Polly is afraid this will happen but we learn almost immediately that Willie has planned this murder in advance and has "dug on your grave the biggest part of last night". 

Photo Of An Appalachian Graveyard

The Bill Monroe classic "The Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake" actually falls clearly into this category of songs without a clear reason for the death, not by murder but by snake bite, and also falls clearly into another of the most unique categories of Bluegrass which I have written about previously, Dead Baby Music.  The child dies due to a snake bite without any clear reason being given in the lyrics for her death.  It is also interesting that this song is included on a very unique compilation CD called "American Gothic: Bluegrass Songs Of Death And Sorrow".  That CD also contains a Mac Wiseman version of an old song called the "Ballad Of The Lawson Family" in which the father kills his wife and six children and commits suicide.  It is a classic Bluegrass song without a reason for the violence and the lyrics clearly state that "we'll never know what caused him to take his family's life". Of course, since the song is about the death of six little children, it also falls clearly within the subgenre of Dead Baby Music. 

I could go on at great length about all the Bluegrass songs which contain tragic circumstances without a reason for the tragedy but I think you get the point.  Some of the best songs in Bluegrass are tragic and have no clearly stated reason for that tragedy.  Let's all hope Bluegrass song writer's keep going for the next hundred years writing without a reason. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Seeing An Eagle On New Year's Eve!

Bald Eagle Photo by Wikepedia

Yesterday, December 31, 2016, New Year's Eve, I took a ride across the hill from my house to the local country store to pick up some ice cream to eat while I watched Alabama do what they do best, destroy lesser but ambitious competition.  As I was returning home, about a mile and a half from my house on a two lane road up a hollow, I looked ahead and saw a large bird in the middle of the highway eating on a road killed opossum.  As I approached, the bird began to rise and when I saw the wide spread tail beating to gain lift, I realized it looked like a Bald Eagle.  As I got closer, the bird lifted and turned and I got a clear look at the beautiful, white head.  It was an eagle.  I have seen a few eagles in my life before including one at Cave Run Lake in Rowan County Kentucky about thirty miles from my home.  But I had never seen one in Morgan County or anywhere near my home.  As I drove slowly on past, the eagle appeared to be turning toward a small group of trees in the edge of the creek bottom near the highway so I drove about a hundred yards farther, found a place to turn around and drove slowly back where I saw the eagle perched in the top of tree about fifty feet high beside the highway obviously waiting for the coast to clear so it could return to the opossum in the highway.  

I turned around and drove the short distance to my house and told my wife, Candice, about seeing an eagle almost within sight of our house.  Then I got on the phone to call my cousin, more like a brother, Jack Terry, to tell him about seeing the eagle.   He and I had a telephone conversation earlier in the week about eagles and other things and he had said that he has never seen an eagle in spite of having traveled over a great deal of the world with the US Army and US Army Corps of Engineers.  In that conversation, I had told him that the first eagle I ever saw was attempting to take off from the shoulder of US 441 a bit north of Yeehaw Junction, Florida, with half of a road killed armadillo.  Therefore, I already knew that eagles commonly eat road kill.  But after I ended this second conversation with Jack about the eagle sighting, I realized that this eagle is, as always, but now much more so, a metaphore for the United States Of America.   

Ever since Thomas Jefferson lost his argument in favor of the wild turkey, the Bald Eagle has been the most common symbol of the United States Of America.   We generally use strong, brave, free, and self sufficient words and phrases to describe the Bald Eagle.  We speak of the eagle in flight, soaring, gliding, and striking prey swiftly and silently from the skies.  Rarely, if ever, would an American speak of the Bald Eagle, this symbol of American Democracy sitting in the middle of the road eating road kill of any kind.  We would certainly never speak of the Bald Eagle as eating opossum.  Then the completion of the logical route I was on led me to my metaphorical destination.  The Bald Eagle sitting in the middle of a run down, two lane road in Eastern Kentucky eating a road killed animal which only about one in a million Americans would touch is an apt metaphore for the state we are now in as a nation.  

Unless President Obama, the United States Congress, the United States Supreme Court, and perhaps even the United States military step up and take some very courageous actions, this country will fall into the hands of man who is highly likely to be the greatest traitor this country has ever seen.  Steadily mounting evidence points to the highly likely possibility that Donald Trump colluded with the President of Russia to hack the United States election system computers and steal the presidential election from one of the most qualified candidates who ever ran.  President Obama has taken strong, public actions against the Russians by seizing two properties which have been suspected of being spying operations for many years.  He also ordered thirty-five or so Russian "diplomats" out of the country.  In response, Donald Trump has defended Putin and the Russians as he has done on several other occasions.  Putin responded by doing nothing and stating he is waiting for Trump to assume the White House.  Earlier, all fifteen US Intelligence agencies stated collectively and jointly that the Russians were behind the elections hacks.  In response to those announcements, Trump has consistently refused to admit or accept the validity of American intelligence.  It is a sorry kettle of fish in every way.  Trump, who was already unfit to hold any public office based on his history of self admitted sexual crimes, lack of intelligence and governmental experience, and multiple refusals to pay just debts, would have placed this country in great danger without the shadow of treason hanging over his head.  Now, it is likely that he is a greater traitor than Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, Aldrich Ames, or Tokyo Rose.   

It seems likely that a wide ranging investigation is ongoing by the US intelligence community, the US State Department, and the White House.  But can this investigation be completed and necessary enforcment and legal actions be taken in three weeks in time to prevent the White House from falling into the hands of a likely Russian spy?  As I understand some of the processes involved, it would require the investigation to be complete, a case from the Justice Department and State Department to be filed before the US Supreme Court, a special hearing to be held by the Supreme Court to vacate the election results, and some process put in place to choose a President.  It is highly complicated.  The risk is immeasurable if the wrong actions are taken or no actions are taken.  The time available to do the necessary investigative and legal work is far too short.  And there is only one other option available.  If the US Joint Chiefs Of Staff, the generals and admirals who are the supreme commanders of the military have evidence that requires it, they could stage a military coup in the wee hours of the morning of January 20, 2017, install an interim President, schedule another election in a year or so, and save the country.  I hope it does not require such actions.  But if those actions are warrented, I sincerely hope the Joint Chiefs have the courage to do the correct thing.  

Of course, I also sincerely hope that America does not simply sink to become an eagle eating a road killed opossum in the middle of a metaphorical highway.