RJ's Corner

About Will Rogers…

Will Rogers Clan - Hdr

I will shout as clearly as I can that Will Rogers is one of my primary heroes. Here is what Wiki says about him.

Known as “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son”, Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies”), wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns, and became a world-famous figure. By the mid-1930s, the American people adored Rogers. He was the leading political wit of his time, and was the top-paid Hollywood movie star. Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post, when their small airplane crashed in northern Alaska….

If you want to peruse some of my many posts about him and his words just click on “The Wisdom of Will Rogers” in the About Life category at the top of this blog.   I found the above picture in his museum in Clairemore Oklahoma recently. I have been there a couple of times now and will likely go back again.  See if you can find him in the above photo?

Celebrating Our Disabilities and Our Personal Failures…

I want to forewarn you that this post is going to include some ranting and will probably offend some people. I am sorry if that offends you but I need to speak my mind on this topic.

2015-09-01_10-17-45People who don’t come here often probably don’t know that I am deaf.  I went deaf about thirty years ago from a congenital disease. Before you ask, no a cochlear implant is not a possibility for me.  When I started going deaf I was first exposed to the “Deaf” community (with a capital D”. To them being deaf is something to be celebrated! Most but by no means all of the Deaf community were born deaf. But there are some who, like me, went deaf later in life. In large cities they form their own communities; often living close to each other and pretty much stay within that community. Many have as little to do with the hearing world as possible.

My hearing loss was a gradual thing that started in my college years and resulted in a total loss of hearing about twenty years later. I looked into the possibility of joining the Deaf community but decided it wasn’t for me.  Yes, it might have been easier to just give up on living with the 99% who are not deaf. Communications certainly would have been easier but that is not a road I chose. The Deaf community like everything else has its dark side.  To me part of that dark side is that they consider giving a child a cochlear implant in order to allow him to hear is child abuse. They say it denies him his deaf culture!  They treat their disability as something to be cherished, not to be overcome. I simply don’t see it that way. I have maintained my life in the hearing world and will continue to do so for the rest of what remains of it.

This discussion brings in a wider topic.  I recently saw and advertisement on one of the cable TV channels about a new program that celebrates obesity. Since for the most part obesity is a self-inflicted thing that greatly increases your likelihood of heart disease and other serious health conditions I can’t understand celebrating it.  Maybe it is just too hard for some to tackle their extreme overweight condition so they rationalize.

It seems strange that we are now starting to treat our disabilities and person failures as something to celebrate.  But maybe it is just easier, you might say lazier, to do that. Rationalization is a strong thing.

 

Oklahoma State House..

OK Statehouse ceiling

The picture above is of the ceiling of the senate chamber of the Oklahoma Statehouse. I have quite a story to tell about it. I have probably visited about 30 statehouses in my travels and this is the only one that tried to restrict pictures being taken.  I guess fear of terrorists is at the core. I did manage to get several pics before I was warned that “pictures are not allowed in this area”. The building is such a beautiful place its a shame they don’t want you to have a lasting memory of it.

As Obamacare Takes Hold, Unpaid Hospital Bills Vanish – Forbes

2015-08-31_18-42-33As hospital operators begin to report second period earnings — the sixth consecutive quarter of new revenue from once uninsured patients — the number and size of unpaid medical bills continues to fall thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

SOURCE: As Obamacare Takes Hold, Unpaid Hospital Bills Vanish – Forbes.

If all those idiots in congress who are so adamant in taking away healthcare to those who couldn’t afford it without ACA were to concentrate on making the law better instead of trying to abolish it significant improvements could be made.   There has probably been billions of dollars spent on dissing the law and little to improve it.  How sad is that?

It was clear that what was passed five years ago did little to ameliorate the every increasing costs of U.S. healthcare. That part of the problem was left to another day. But that day has never come due to the complete stubbornness of those who hate it.  All they can do is shout “SOCIALIZED MEDICINE” as if that were some deadly curse that will insure the downfall of mankind.  But the facts are that almost half of Americans have had for some time socialized medicine and most of the rest of the world has had it for much longer.  That is why we are about the only country still struggling to get hold of ever increasing healthcare costs.

When will we be able to start improving the law? Probably not until those who have put a permanent stake in the ground against it on our national congress are driven from office.  The rest of the world learned their lessons on controlling costs a long time ago and are wondering why we haven’t?   Makes no sense to them or to me…

Question everything….

Making Up My Mind…

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This is kind of a companion piece for this morning. There are just too many of us who almost blindly follow the “talking heads” of their choice. “If Fox News says it, it has to be true.”  Independent thought is critical to making a democracy function and we seem to be losing that in giant chunks lately. Thanks Paul for this vital message….

Common Sense????

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QE BannerBeing a progressive in most aspects I hate it when so many in the media say Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are pretty much the same.  I think what they are trying to say is that both of them don’t stand much of a chance in getting their party’s nomination. Bernie Sanders is actually nothing like Trump.

When I  enthusiastically backed Obama in 2008 he seemed like a pretty passionate person. He took stands that were not popular at the time. He was against the invasion of Iraq from the beginning.  It took years to discover that yes he was passionate about change but his passion was just not focused on any particular topic. In other words he was an idealistic young person who lacked the experience or acumen to drive his passion to the action required in today’s world.

Bernie Sanders is also a person who goes against the trends. Much of what he says just makes sense, at least to those of us who dare to look over their boxes.  The above quote is one of those things. The Saudi family has the resources to take on, and take down, ISIS if they really wanted to but it seems they would rather have the U.S. do it so they aren’t bothered by the possible political ramifications. Maybe Bernie has the convictions and experience to put his compassion into action? I don’t know but he is nothing like the attention seeking Trump.

Speaking of Trump, I guess I have to get me two cents in on that. I believe that the reason that Trump is ahead among so many conservative Republicans especially low-info voters is because they just don’t like the twenty-odd alternatives.  Politics has become a big game now. If you want to succeed you must follow the “game plan”. You must never say what you think but instead only say things that have been tested by a focus group so as to offend the least number of those who might vote for you. Politics has become too much of a game and not enough of demonstrating your passions. If Romney had fired his handlers in 2008 and spoke from his heart he would have probably gotten many more votes, maybe even the presidency.  His “47%” comment and others like it, I’m sure given to him from his handlers had not happened he might have had a chance.

Yeah, Bernie Sanders is a progressive and he is definitely a pragmatist. He sees all the damage that our obsession with guns has caused our nation and is not afraid to say so.  He looks at the rest of the world and sees that they managed to restrain cost of healthcare via single-payer system and thinks we should do the same.  He looks at the numbers that show the happiest people in the world come from those countries with the highest form of socialism. He is a pragmatist. Maybe that reduces his chances of getting a presidential nomination, especially in a country we so few seem to be able to even glance over the sides of their boxes that constrain them from seeing other possibilities.

Question everything….

Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda

Many Christians are wary of participating in social justice because of a deep-rooted fear of being labeled “liberal,” “progressive,” or “secular.” They don’t want to be associated with “secular” movements, and are uncomfortable delving into issues that go beyond their cultural comfort zones. But the Bible tells us that Jesus cared deeply about the social causes around him….

 Christians do a disservice to the gospel message by removing the cultural context from Jesus’s ministry and watering down his message to one of religious platitudes. We like to generalize the words of Jesus and transform his life into a one-size-fits-all model that can apply to all of humanity.

Source: Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda | Sojourners

Some of my Christian friends would literally panic if I called them a “liberal” and especially if I called them “secular”! I’m not sure I would put the cause of this on them personally? I think a lot of it has to do with the indoctrination they get from the Sunday pulpit.  As the article from Sojourners above says too many religious organization seem to melt Jesus down into a one-size-fits-all model.  They say the only thing from Jesus’ words that are important is that he “died for your sins”. Everything else is washed away.

Their message of all you need to know is that if you profess what we tell you to you have a free ticket to heaven. Nothing you do or say on this earth really matters once you have that ticket.  I am certainly not a literalists when it comes to the bible but I do take to heart the messages of Christianity’s founder and the vast majority of those messages tell us how he wants us to live on this earth, not how to get to heaven. To me his words are paramount to what it means to live a fruitful life.  To wash them down to five simple words is well, sinful…

Virginia shooting proves Americans aren’t numb to tragedy..

2015-08-28_07-41-21For decades, members of the news media have struggled to determine whether a gruesome photograph or video crosses the line from newsworthy to something so disturbing that it is potentially harmful.

Source: Virginia shooting proves Americans aren’t numb to tragedy — we just have a higher tolerance for it – Yahoo News

QE BannerSadly we seem to get a weekly dose of tragedy of gun violence in this country.   The stats show that we kill each other with our guns more than terrorists kill others in the world.  Are guns the sole cause of al this?  Of course not but in the vast majority of cases they, due to their easy availability,  are the means to accomplish the end.  Yes, I’m sure that most of these shooters have some sort of mental disorder that spurns them to their acts of violence. But then again one persons mental disorder is another person’s way of life.  I don’t think, for instance, that anyone in the KKK or similar groups are without some sort of mental disorder.  But this is not what the post is about.

The short clip above shows that while we may be immune to all the violence we have some sort of standard about displaying it on our media.  I don’t know but I kind of think we should show it all. Until we see personally the gruesomeness of gun violence it does not come fully home to us. Being a history buff I know that the Civil War pictures of battlefield death helped shorten that bloody conflict. The shock of seeing thousands of bodies strewn on a farm field brought the war home to the citizens living rooms. We need to get that same shock in this battle against gun violence.

During the Reagan years it become quite the thing for States to shut down their mental health institutions. It was a way to save money and to reduce the “government that is the problem” syndrome that many had and still have.  As a result there are now thousands, probably millions, of people with severe mental disabilities homeless on our streets or languishing with their problems  huddled in their homes.  I have personally known one guy who was convinced that the “bad guys” were right outside his house trying to get in. To counter that he had a loaded gun in every room of his house and many more in a cabinet (unlocked) in his basement.  He was paranoid about someone attacking him.  The sad thing about it was that he was briefly married to my sister and had my young nephew in the house.  We need to make it easier for families to bring mentally unstable members for treatment.

The gruesomeness of gun violence will never become reality until we are exposed to the aftereffects. Let’s put all the gory pictures out there. Lets finish this post with a very thought provoking figure from Steve Breen.

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The Rich Get Richer… Or….

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Thanks Dan for reminding us what is really tragic.

Evangelicals supporting Trump?

2015-08-25_10-04-58Ever since a mid-July Washington Post poll confirmed that Trump is the leading candidate among white evangelical Republicans…

But while it’s easy to chuckle at the idea of Bible Belt voters rallying for a thrice-married real estate mogul who would never dream of turning the other cheek, Trump’s evangelical backing may not be that surprising. It’s been a long time since the personal morality of a candidate was a deal breaker for evangelical Republicans. They only reluctantly backed squeaky-clean Mitt Romney in 2012 as the GOP nominee, and yet voiced few concerns in 2008 when the divorced John McCain self-identified as a Baptist who has never been baptized.

SOURCE: Why are white evangelicals supporting Trump? It goes back to Jimmy Carter..

QE BannerDonald Trump very much reminds me of George Wallace of the 1960s. He also had a strong following among evangelicals.

Trump is basically throwing away any moral factor to the campaign and it seems the Evangelicals that so adamantly support him are either oblivious to that fact or simply don’t care. How un-Christian is that!!  I’m just not sure if the evangelical vote is well, “evangelical”.  It appears to me that the tag “evangelical” is simply one used by certain groups of the population who really despise most everything they don’t agree with. Evangelical gives them a nice label similar to the KKK who also adopted it in their extreme bias against anyone different from them.

But then again from my personal experiences with evangelicals comes into focus. I did see at some level this type of behavior among those who regularly attend religious services. I heard words in the weekly bible study sessions that were to me very un-Christian like.  Being a Lutheran group there were some there that simply despised Catholics  and especially the Pope and most any other brand of Christianity maybe to a lesser extent. Like thousands of other religious organizations these folks were convinced that they were the only ones who had God figured out.  Everyone else was simply WRONG to one degree or another.   Some there railed against “those freeloaders who would rather be on welfare than get a job”. There seemed to be little or no compassion in this sub-group for those less fortunate than they were.

Were these folks, the core of this group or outliers?  It’s hard to say since there were very few there, including even the minister leader, who would  attempt to challenge their words.

My “question everything” attitude got me in a lot of trouble among evangelicals.  It now is obvious that if I had  like so many others just passively went along with what I was told everything would have been fine and I would still have a church home. I think the lesson learned by so many is just don’t speak up.  They would rather be silent than chance losing the social aspects of their religious group. After all, everybody needs a clubhouse… where everybody knows your name…

Mills of Bygone Days…

Like so much around today the rural mills are fast becoming a thing of the past. I guess at the corporate farm level they take their grain directly to their corporate supplies.   I found this mill about 40 miles east of Amarillo Texas this spring.

Texas Mill

I recently made a ten-hour walking tour of the college I graduated from. I had briefly driven around campus a few time before but never got out of the car.  It was fifty years ago this month that I had my first exposure to Purdue University in West Lafayette Indiana.  Needless to say that a LOT has changed since that time both to me and the campus I once walked through daily.

Me 1966When I stepped foot on the campus in the late summer of 1965 I was a skinny naive country boy who had never had a conversation with anyone much different than me.  They simply didn’t exist in my world up until that time. I was never challenged to think outside my box that was already built around me.  My progression to a guy who “questions everything” was a gradual thing that happened over the years but the five years I spent there was very enlightening.

Now on to the changes in the campus. One of the most astonishing changes was the almost total absence of green space at least compared to when I was a student there. Even the street that I most often used to get from my room at Fowler Courts to the campus is no longer there!  Fowler Courts were a bunch of single story quonset hut type buildings that were probably build just after World War II. The shocker came when I found out that the dormitory that replaced my old dorm has also been torn down and is now First Street Towers which are more multi-room apartments than they are like my 10ft x 12ft dorm room that I shared with my buddy Bob.

I must admit that I had hoped to retrace my steps that I traveled so many times but soon found that to be almost impossible. First off things just weren’t where I remembered them and secondly there were a lot of new building blocking my path.  Even though my dorm has been replaced twice over the building that housed the cafeteria where I worked 40+ hours per week was still there but repurposed  and totally reconfigured into a child development center.  But even the building itself brought back some pleasant memories.   I still have a hard time convincing myself that fifty years have passed since those days. I can’t understand how that happened.

Click on any picture from my 2015 visit to see a larger slideshow…

White Innocence..

Flowering Bush

There is a bush that we planted fifteen years ago that gives us twice annual beauty.  I don’t know what kind it is, that is my wife’s thing, but I do appreciate it very much. It continues to thrive even though it took a pickax to plant it in the very rocky soil…

Should citizenship be a birthright?


The wording of the 14th Amendment is key. “All persons,” it reads, “born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

That includes children whose parents are here illegally. Trump and others argue that goes too far and encourages people to give birth here as a way of allowing entire families to stay. In some circles, those children have come to be called Anchor babies….

2015-08-21_10-31-50And this first sentence ( of the constitutional amendment), the primary purpose of that sentence was to reverse the 1857 case of Dred Scott, which had held that blacks could not be citizens. So this made everybody who was born here, black or white, a citizen of the United States.
And it was assumed, actually from much earlier than that, from the first founding in the 1780s, it was assumed that citizenship went with birth. That was what common law was at the time. And nobody even challenged it until 1850, when a New York State court found that someone who was born here was a citizen….

 “Professor Sherry, is this a uniquely American, that, if you’re born here, you’re a citizen here?”

“It’s almost uniquely American. The only other developed country that has birthright citizenship is Canada.”

SOURCE:  Should citizenship be a birthright? Why some GOP candidates say no.

QE Banner

I’m going to put on my conservative hat and agree with Donald Trump. Well, sort of…

With the limited understanding I have of the issue it appears that “anchor babies” are a big business in immigration issues. The logic goes that if I can just get into the USA and have a baby  I can also become a citizen as there are those won’t allow “the breakup of a family” by telling me I can’t stay here when my child is a citizen.  There is a thriving business teaching how to game the system it this regard.

But aside from all that to me it is a matter of allowing the constitution to change according to the times.  I certainly understand given the Dred Scott Decision the reason for the amendment. Without it the southern States would likely have tried everything possible to prevent their previous slaves from citizen status. But the amendment has become something it was not intended. It is time for it to change.

Now it is time to switch hats and say the same thing applies to the second amendment. We need to understand that the first part of that amendment is the justification for the last part.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 

Since we no longer depend on a militia to secure our freedom this amendment is well beyond it usefulness and is doing much more harm to our general welfare than the birthright amendment.

I will support the conservative change to the 14th amendment if the 2nd one is changed at the same time.

Question everything…

Apple Live TV ….

2015-08-15_08-09-49Apple Inc. customers waiting for the company to revolutionize live television as it did for music and phone service will have to keep waiting, at least until next year.

Source: Apple to delay live TV service to 2016 – Yahoo Finance.

It is amazing how so few companies can change our culture so dramatically.  Apple is certainly one of them.  They revolutionized the music business so quickly. Gone are the black disks of my generation and now even tapes, CDs, DVDs, and record stores.  Amazon is another who is shaking up the retail business. Where locally there are hundreds of choices, Amazon offers thousands and delivers them within two days to you doorstep.  Yes, I know that there are some who work for these companies that are overwhelmed by the intensity of effort that it takes to achieve excellence in their field. Those who give their customers top priority thrive while others with different ones fall by the wayside.

I hope Apple is able to revolutionize TV service and we are able to choose what we want to pay for instead of being forced to choose a pre-packaged list. I imagine like the video stores this will happen faster than many are ready for. Customer is king and that is the way it should be in a free market economy…

Old Time Tractor

Old Time Tractor-2

I Am A Jon Stewart Fan… After The Fact…

He nailed the insane reason we still need to talk about climate change

Burn Noticed StewartYes, 99.9% of the scientific literature shows that climate change is real and worsened by the things we do every day, like driving cars and burning fossil fuels. Yet political representatives who continue to deny that very real science continue to serve on government science committees. 

In September of last year, Stewart nailed Representative Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana) for saying the science on climate change “still isn’t clear.” …

“If scientists could be bought,” said Stewart, “these companies would have already made it rain in nerd town.”

He pinpointed exactly why health care just can’t work as a free market

Steven Brill Daily Show Obamacare

Last January, Stewart had guest Steven Brill, author of Time’s in-depth health care analysis“Bitter Pill,” on the show to talk about Obamacare.

He told the story of a cancer patient who was recently forced to pay $13,700 up front for a drug transfusion which was only part of a much bigger $83,000 payment. Yet the transfusion, says Brill, cost the pharmaceutical company just $300.

Brill said the reason health care will never work as a free market is simple: “The cost has shifted to the taxpayers — which I think is a good thing. But it’s outrageous that we haven’t done anything to control those costs.”

Then, Stewart brilliantly came back at Brill with a common conservative argument: If we simply create a free market for health care where patients can pick-and-choose their coverage, it will result competition and, therefore, better options.

Here’s Brill’s response: “Everyone says, ‘Well it’s a marketplace.’ That guy [the cancer patient] has no choice in buying that drug. His doctor told him, ‘This will save your life. You don’t take it, you’re gonna die.'”

Doesn’t sound like a marketplace.

Source: 3 epic moments where Jon Stewart nails the most pressing global issues of our time – Yahoo Finance.

I know this is a big quote above and leaves little of my self-imposed 500 word post limit for my take but it does kind of speak for itself so maybe my 200 words is more than enough. Jon Stewart is an off-the-wall guy who says what we all would want to say if we had his audience. Well, almost all of us. Some of my more conservative friends probably hate him as they sadly do so many others…

ISOA BannerThe pictures shown in the slideshow are from the grounds of the Museum of Indian & Art Culture in Santa Fe New Mexico. It is a fantastic place to visit. Santa Fe is quickly become my favorite city on Native-America culture and history. It is a very interesting fact that the Pueblo Nation which is in this area is the only nation to not have been defeated by the U.S. government. They still reside on the land of their ancestors.

States By Population..

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An interesting way to look at  our country.  It helps you understand how all those very small conservative States have so much power over the majority of us in the U.S. congress.

Like a Death Wish… I Can Only Hope….

2015-08-20_08-13-55Last week, Jeb Bush told an audience in California, “It is strength, and will, and clarity of purpose that make all the difference.” This is the Tinker Bell school of foreign policy that has spread over most of the Republican presidential field. Clap if you believe in a stable Middle East where Syria is rid of ISIS, Al Nusra, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and any Iranian influence. Clap if you believe Iraq will be safe for religious minorities and free of undue Iranian influence, too…..

As an electoral strategy, it is absolutely nuts that Republicans would preemptively tell the American people, “Elect me and I’ll put American troops back on the ground in Iraq.” And then add, “And Syria, too, and with allies TBD, and final victors TBD.” This seems like a 2016 death wish. Not just for Republican electoral ambitions, but for American troops, American prestige, and American power.

SOURCE: The GOP presidential field’s dangerous fantasy on Iraq and Syria.

QE BannerI want to do a “what if” here.

  • What if America’s energy was totally devoid of fossil fuels?
  • What if we have grown into other means instead of the 100+ year old technology?
  • Would that make a difference in our opinions of the Middle Eastern part of the world?
  • Would we be so concerned that one muslim group was trying to take control over another muslim group?

I pretty sure the answer to these questions would be that these conflicts would not even be on our radar screen.  One religious sect trying to dominate another is nothing new in the world. It has been happening constantly since the age of Constantine when a Roman King assured the dominance of one particular brand of Christianity over the myriad of others that were present at the time. It has been going on since Muslims and Christians were fighting each other for  two hundred years. It has been going on since the Inquisition, the Protestant/Catholic battles in Northern Ireland.

Let’s face it we as humanity just have little patience for versions of God different from our own.  The Middle East is just the latest battles to be fought in a long history of battles. I am convinced that if we had not become involved by invading Iraq and getting ourselves so entwined in this matter that terrorism would not be so prevalent in our world today.

Maybe instead of putting trillions of bucks into our world’s latest religious battles we should be putting them into developing twenty-first century  energy resources. I’m sure with all the money and young lives we have wasted in this futile attempt we could dust off our sandals and leave that part of the world to their own demise..

We don’t need to be the policemen of the world…

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