Reverend Billy Bob Weatherspoon

Of the Space Chapel of Life

Photo credit: Scott Norsworthy/Google Images

Meet the Reverend!

Lightghts up to dim. There are two chairs located center stage. Rev. Billy and Jimmy Joe Starter are sitting in the chairs in silhouette.)

ANNOUNCER: (Disembodied voice) Good evening, ladies, and gentlemen, and welcome to MEET THE REVEREND!  A thirty-minute question and answer show where issues of national importance are discussed with prominent individuals from our society and the world at large.

Our guest this evening will be former president, Jimmy Joe Starter from Monkey’s Eyebrows, Kentucky…and to start the questioning will be the host of our show- Reverend Billy Bob Weatherspoon of the Space Chapel of Life.

Reverend Billy…

(Lights up full)

REV. BILLY: (Rises from his chair and crosses down center to address the audience directly) Thank you, Fred. Friends, I want to welcome y’all here to my new weekly show, MEET THE REVEREND! I’m sure y’all are going to enjoy it. I know I am. And be sure to tell all your friends and relatives to tune in too and just keep those contributions rolling in…cause ya know, it cost so much money to appear on TV and it cost so much money to spread the word…and friends you all know how much I like to spread the word.

And now…I’d like to welcome our guest, President Jimmy Joe Starter! (Crosse back to centers and resumes sitting across from Jimmy Joe Starter).

President Starter…

JIMMY JOE: Please…call me Jimmy Joe.

REV. BILLY: Why I’d be happy to Jimmy Joe…and you can call me Rev. Billy.

JIMMY JOE: Okay Reverend Billy. Ya know, I’ve got a brother named Billy. He’s kind of the black sheep of the family. Of course, when we were growing up back in Monkey’s Eyebrows, we always used to call him the goat. You know Billy Goat…that’s because he’d eat anything he’d put his hands on. I’d be going, “Now Billy, don’t be going putting your hand on that. Well, as you can imagine it got pretty embarrassing sometimes. (Big smile)

REV. BILLY: Monkey’s Eyebrows…Now that’s a strange name for a town. I wonder…I wonder if you could shed some light on that for us, Jimy Joe. Just why do they call your town Monkey’s Eyebrows?

JIMMY JOE: (Blank stare) Ya know…I don’t rightly know…but I’ll be glad to look that up for you and get back to you sometime next week.

REV. BILLY: No, that won’t be necessary Jimmy Joe. Now, Jimmy Joe, what would you say was the biggest surprise of your administration? Was it anything as surprising as the Iran/Contra affair or Ollie North and Fawn Hill? Or what about the current fiasco with Donald Trump and the Big Lie? Not to Mention January 6th?

JIMMY JOE: Well, Billy, I’d say the biggest surprise was that the job was going to be as hard as it turned out to be. Ya know, when I first took office back in ’76, 1976, not 1776, (Big Smile) I thought the presidency was going to be a snap, but I soon learned that it was going to be more of a Zbigniew Brezenski. Then things sort of went on the Fritz after I gave America the Lance-thank God for Vance- he was a real credit to the arms race. So, I’d have to say that my biggest surprise was that it was going to be so hard.

REV. BILLY: Have there been any other surprises?

JIMMY JOE: Well, yes. Another surprise was that there were so many bathrooms in the Whitehouse.

REV. BILLY: Bathrooms?

JIMMY JOE: Yes, Billy. There are some 46 of them, and all of them are inside too! I never did get around to using all of them, but I did commission a white paper…or was that toilet paper… No, it was a white paper, on how one could accomplish this task during one administration. I’ll be glad to get back to you later with the results of that study if you like.

REV. BILLY: No, that won’t be necessary. Tell me, Jimmy Joe, what do you think of the current situation in Ukraine with the Russian invasion and all in light of your own SALT II Treaty which you negotiated with the Ruskies?

JIMMY JOE: Yes…I’m proud of my record on SALT. The most significant part of that agreement was to trade Amarillo, Texas for Leningrad in the event of a first strike situation involving nuclear weapons.

REV BILLY: Would you gentlemen have seriously considered offering a Russian an Amarillo?

JIMMY JOE: Yes…We believed that using this small Texas town as a bargaining chip would be in the best interest of the country.

REV. BILLY: Do you hold out any hopes of stopping or at least curbing nuclear proliferation?

JIMMY JOE: Yes…What I plan to do is…

REV. BILLY (interrupting) Before you answer that question, let me break way for a message of vital importance…

(WINGES SERAPHS COMMERCIAL. Crosses stage right to a prop table where the book is staged. Light fades on center stage as a spot comes up on Reverend Billy at the table where he delivers his commercial speech)

REV: BILLY: Hello friends. Rev. Billy Bob Weatherspoon here for the Space Chapel of Life…

Ya know…just how many times have ya wondered how many angels could dance on the top of a Bic Butane Lighter?

Have ya ever wondered where ya could find a Guardian Angel when ya really needed one?

And what about Charlies Angels?

…The answers to these and many more important questions may be found in my latest book—

WINGED SERAPHS I HAVE KNOWN

This book is available in both the hard and soft editions. Also, available is the leather-bound edition which comes suspended from a chain.

So ya don’t forget, send now to

SPACE CHAPEL OF LIFE

BOX 666

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA

$8.96 RECORDS

$9.96 TAPES

And now, back to the show…

(Crosses back to the center and resumes sitting across from Jimmy Joe Starter. Light fades out at right and comes up center).

Okay, Jimmy Joe, now we can continue the fascinating conversation about the wonderful world of weapons.

JIMMY JOE: Yes, as I was saying, I support the introduction of legislation by congress that would make it a federal crime to own a nuclear weapon if you are a convicted felon, drug addict, or legally insane. Also, we hope to register all nuclear weapons. In this way, we will know who has them and we will have additional control over who gets them.

In addition, I am proposing an outright ban on the most insidious nuclear device of them all, the Saturday Night Special. These small, concealable radiation-enhanced devices are capable of taking out small targets such as single-family dwellings with little or no blast damage to the surrounding area. These weapons are, however, a very “dirty weapon,” spreading deadly radiation for many square blocks killing all life forms within the size of oh, say, Fort Knox. These devices would make the riots of the 60s look like pep rallies. (Big smile.)

REV. BILLY: Well, Jimmy Joe, you certainly paint a grim picture. What are your feelings about the peaceful use of nuclear energy, say as an alternative energy source?

JIMMY JOE: Well, Billy…I feel that nuclear power will most likely be the energy source of the future, along with solar power and wind. Eventually, we will run out of coal. We are going to run out of oil, but according to leading experts, we won’t run out of matter for several thousand years…and being a nuclear physicist myself, I ain’t just whistling Dixie (Big Smile).  

REV. BILLY: As a scientist, I wonder if you could comment on the recent UFO controversy.

Jimmy Joe: Yes, Billy, I have myself, seen a UFO…it was a close encounter of the weird kind.

Rev. Billy: You have??!! Well, Jimmy Joe…that’s truly an amazing statement. Would you care to elaborate?

JIMMY JOE: Sure. You see, I was on my farm back in Kentucky, plowing a field on a tractor when all of a sudden, a shadow fell over me and I looked up and there was this strange craft hovering overhead.

REV. BILLY: Wow! Was it big?

JIMMY JOE? Big? I’ll say!

REV. BILLY: Well, how big was it?

Jimmy Joe: It was big I tell ya! (Starts gesturing with his hands and arms) It was a hunnert foot, by a hunnert foot, by a hunnert foot, you know BIG!

REV. BILLY: (Interrupts for a commercial): Excuse me Jimmy Joe, but we need to fit in a break.

(YOU TOO CAN BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER COMMERCIAL. Rev Billy crosses to the prop table again to deliver the net commercial. Light fade center and come up on the table).

Friends! You too can become an ordained minister! Through the special powers invested in me…you can become an ordained minister in the Space Chapel of Life – think of it friends – for only $6.95 you can save souls – perform miracles –  perform marriages – perform funeral services – and perhaps the best advantage of all – tax-exempt status – That’s right folks, you heard it here tax-exempt status! – so ya don’t forget, send $6.95 today for your credentials to: Space Chapel of Life, Box 666,  in care of this Television station – Thank you so much!

(Crosses back center and resumes interview. Lights fade at the table and come up at center.)

…and now, please continue on with this alleged story about beings from outer space.

JIMMY JOE: Well like I was saying, there I was out there on God’s little acre, plowing my fields and minding my own business when there appeared up in the sky a giant alien spacecraft. It was just hovering overhead, and it let out a slight humming noise, and all of a sudden it emitted a beam of light and the light fell over me and bathed my entire body and the next thing I knew I was being pulled off my tractor up into that beam of light and heading towards the spacecraft… that’s the last thing I remember until the next day when I was returned to earth and there I was, as naked a Jaybird in my ‘backer field, singin’ my fool head off!

REV. BILLY: Yes, well isn’t that special. Well, Jimmy Joe, we are just about out of time, here, and as you know, time is money. I would however like to ask you just one more two-part question. Number one, are you really a born-again Christian? And part two, have you ever really had lust in your heart?

JIMMY JOE: Well Billy, I don’t really feel that these two are mutually exclusive – In answer to your first question. Yes, I am a Born-again Christian; and in answer to your second question, yes, I have had lust in my heart…but it was lust for another Christian.

REV. BILLY: Well, there you have it, friends! Right from the former president’s own mouth. I’d like to thank President Starter for taking time out of his busy schedule to be with us tonight, and I’d like to invite all of you to tune in next week to another exciting episode of, MEET THE REVEREND! My next week’s guest will be that silly old buffoon and darling of the media, Attorney Michael Cohen! Watch him drop a dime on his former boss, Donald J. Trump!

(Jimmy Joe exits. Rev. Billy crosses down center).

And now, my friends, comes a very special part of our show, the hour of power. During this period of the show, I would like to take a few moments to demonstrate the power of our Lord and say a few words and lay a few hands.

(Lights dim)

Announcer: And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Reverend Billy Bob Weatherspoon, in all his magnificent glory, preaching to you all on the word of the Lord coming to you straight from our studios here in the Space Chapel of Life. Reverend Billy!

(Lights up full)

REV.BILLY: Good evening, friends – This is Rev. Billy Bob Weatherspoon here and I want to welcome you all here to Space Chapel. It’s so good to see ya! I’m so glad ya could make it out this evening. Ya know, we are all brothers and sisters on this spaceship we call mother earth, hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour – why, when you think about it, it’s quite a miracle. It’s a miracle we don’t all fall off!

Now, my friends, we are gathered here this evening to worship Jesus – Oh Sweet Jesus – praise the Lord! But I need your help.

Now, give me a “Praise the Lord!”

(Pause for the response)

Now give me a “Hallelujah!”

(Pause for the response)

Now give me an “Amen, brother!”

That’s wonderful! God is with us here tonight! Can you feel him my friends? Can you feel the power of the Lord?

Now, my friends, I’ve got so much to tell ya! I’ve got so much to tellya! I’m going to tell you about communism. It’s everywhere!

I’m, going to tell ya about fascism. It’s everywhere!

And friends, the worst evil of all, Socialism!  Why, I’d rather be dead, than red!

Wouldn’t you?

And I’m going to tell ya bout Satan. Satan is an all-pervading evil force that lives right here in our very midst. It’s Satan that makes you go out on Saturday night and sow your wild oats. It’s Satan that makes ya come to church on Sunday morning and pray for crop failure. It’s Satan that makes us tell lies. Satan is the master of lies. And it is Satan that leads us into temptation. We have to tell Satan to get behind us. Say, “Get behind me Satan! Get Behind me Satan!” Why, I believe that is Satan behind me right now…He’s a sneaky little devil! He will creep up on ya when you least suspect it.

But mostly, I want to tell ya about our Sweet Jesus – and after the service is over, I’m going to ask you all to come forward and accept Jesus as your personal savior.

But before that, my favorite part of our service – We are going to play a little game that I think you will enjoy. It’s called “Stump the Choir.”

If any of you in the congregation can name a hymn our choir cannot sing, then you are going to win dinner for four at the Last Supper. Judas his Seven Piece of Silver will be playing for your listening enjoyment.

Now, it’s time for a miracle – Praise the Lord! I feel the power of the lord coursing through my body. Who needs a miracle? Bring me you afflicted, bring me your sick, bring me your wounded. Let the Blood of Jesus make you whole again. Who needs the hand of the Lord? Who needs to be healed? Don’t be shy – come forward.

(Someone from the audience, the actor who played Jimmy Joe Starter, stumbles forward with his arms extended)

BLIND MAN: Rev. Billy! Rev. Billy! Can you help me? I cant’ see! I’ve been blind since birth!

REV. BILLY: Why yes! Come on up her young man! (Speaking in tongues, waving his arms about, placing his hand on the blind man’s shoulder.). Son, do you feel the power of the Lord? Do feel the power?

BLIND MAN: (Nods his assent)

REV. BILLY: There are none so blind as those who will not see! (Places his hand on the Blind man’s forehead. Pushes him away and throws his hands into the air)

BLIND MAN: (Drops his cane) I can see! I can see! It’s a miracle! (Runs off stage)

REV BILLY: All right young man. Go and sin no more. And while you are at it, go up to the bar and bring me back a drink. That was quite a miracle!

I’d like to finish tonight by singing along with the choir an old favorite of mine, “Save a Place in the Light Bulb For me.” This song has a lot of meaning to me. And while we sing along, I would like to ask for your generous contributions to the Space Chapel of Life so that we can continue our important work. Please be generous my friends, please be generous! And now, like I said,  “Save a place in the light Bulb for Me.”

(The actor who played the Blind man now comes on stage to a microphone and plays acoustic guitar and sings the song: “Save a place in the Light Bulb for Me.”)

SINGER: (Singing) Save A SPACE IN THE Lightbulb For Me (Lyrics by Daniel Buddha Hildenbrandt)

Leave me room for my couch and tv

Well don’t worry about the weather

Just as long as we’re together

Save a space in the lightbulb for me

Weather started getting rough

Went to turn the gas on

Lit a match, stuck it in the hatch

Blew me to Saskatchawan

Save A SPACE IN THE Lightbulb for me

Leave me room for my couch and tv

Well don’t worry about the weather

Just as long as we’re together

Save a space in the lightbulb for me

Sheila’s such a pretty girl

Sure knows how to use it

If I get a hold of what she’s got

I’m afraid I might abuse it

Save A SPACE IN THE Lightbulb for me

Leave me room for my couch and tv

Well don’t worry about the weather

Just as long as we’re together

Save a space in the lightbulb

Don’t forget the right bulb

Save a space in the lightbulb for me

REV. Billy: This concludes this evening’s service…Thank you very much and may God bless!

(Lights fade to black.)

Finis

War and Rumors of War

Lessons from History

(Image: Getty Images/stock photo)

Once we are through with the 1619 project perhaps, we could move on to the Vietnam War Project.

While we are at it and are stressing over our fighting a proxy war with Russia and fearing the possibility of a nuclear confrontation let us remember that we (the USA) are the only country in history to drop an atomic bomb on another country. And it was we who let the nuclear genie out of the bottle in the first place. One can only hope that we don’t inherit the wind.

And let us not forget we fire-bombed Tokyo, another civilian target, nearly burning that city to the ground. Robert Macnamara, the Secretary of Defense at that time, is quoted as saying that if we had lost the war he would surely have been tried as a war criminal.

This is not to say that we should not condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its merciless targeting of civilians, but as the saying goes, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. There is a reason we are not signatories to the International Criminal Court.

We can do better and we are doing better I think, but let us not forget from whence we came for he who forgets the lessons of history is forever bound to repeat them. Rather, let us be a beacon of hope to those who love freedom and a keeper of the eternal flame of remembrance for those who have fought and died in war.

Fear and Loathing on the Way to Galveston

A trip to the heart of the American Dream

The White Whale as captured by the author

I drove the 117 miles to Owensboro and arrived at Buddha’s in the early afternoon. This was the first leg of our journey to the heart of the American Dream. I gassed up the White Whale, a 2011 gas guzzling Nissan Maxima, the day before, and put together a road trip mix to listen to on our way down to Galveston. We were going to Galveston to recapture our past and rekindle a friendship that had cooled off over the years.

We had both been to Galveston before and though we had separate memories we were both eager to see her pretty sea wall, hear the sea wind blowing, and see her dark eyes glowing.  

I like to listen to the sounds of the 60s while on a road trip with nothing else on my mind but driving fast, grooving to the music, and avoiding the law if at all possible.

Daniel “Buddha” Hildenbrandt was one of my oldest friends and a spiritual adviser. He was also a teacher at the local community college. He taught communications and was fond of saying, “the main problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

We called him Buddha because of the pudgy nature of his physique. He just looked like a Buddha.

When I got to his place, we watched TV until about 5:30 pm when his daughter, Mara, arrived to fetch a key. After she left, we went out to get a bite to eat at Owensboro’s one and only Sushi place. I knew it was going to be a problem when I noticed the chefs behind the sushi bar were Mexican. I had the Hibachi Chicken. It was terrible.

We went back to Buddha’s place for drinks and more TV. I lucked into a Harold Pinter play on YouTube I’ve been wanting to see: “The Birthday Party,” starring Harold Pinter himself and Joan Plowright, in a BBC production. It was pretty good, but you have to be into Pinter to enjoy it. Buddha wasn’t so he went to bed to read while I watched the rest of the play.

The next day was Friday, October 2. I woke to the news that Donald Trump and Melania Trump both have contracted the coronavirus. Is that karma or what?

We are living in strange times. I was thinking of love in the time of Coronavirus. 1,000,000 dead and Donald Trump was still president. This was before the insurrection at the nation’s capital and Moscow had yet to declare war on Ukraine. The best was yet to come.

We packed and loaded the car. We had to make a pit stop in Evansville so Buddha could see his psychiatrist and check up on his meds. Apparently, I am traveling with a madman. That’s OK. We’re all as mad as hatters here. All the best people are.

We finally got on the road and headed west. I figured to push as far into Arkansas as I possibly could before stopping for the night. We made it to Hope, which was in the first ring of hell. It wasn’t quite dark yet, but it was getting there. We crossed the river Acheron into the abyss. The dreams weren’t broken down there, but they were definitely walking with a limp.

We checked into the Best Western Motel. The maskless clerk behind the desk kept asking us if we wanted one bed or two.

“Two beds, dammit!” Buddha muttered, shaking his shaggy head.

“Do we get a discount?” I asked. “AAA? AARP?”

“Yeah, I’ll give you a discount alright,” the clerk snapped.

“Well, what’s the rate?”

“$75.00 including tax. Do you want one bed or two?”

“Two beds, dammit!”

“OK! Can I see your credit card?”

“Any restaurants in the area?”

“You can Google them and they will deliver.”

“OK. What room?”

“105. Right around the corner.”

Buddha was already heading out the door on his way to the room on foot. I drove around. We unlocked the door and unloaded the car, then took a moment to get settled. Buddha went to get ice.

I Googled the restaurants in the area and found a Pizza Hut and a Dominos. I called both but got put on hold at both places. Well, what could you expect in a little town called Hope, deep in the Arkansas interior? Bill Clinton territory as it were. The town sucked just like Monica Lewinski. Finally, Dominos answered.

“I’ll have a medium Supreme delivered to room 105 at the Best Western Motel, please. When will you deliver it? One hour? Wow! Well, go ahead. We will just have to wait.”

While waiting for the pizza to arrive we made the drinks.

We had picked up some liquor a few exits back. We got separate liquors because Buddha always buys cheap booze and I can’t stand the whiskey he usually gets, so I get something a little better. Turns out he got Ezra Brooks and I got Jack Daniels.

“Well, hell, if I’d a known you were getting Ezra Brooks, I would have drunk your booze. Ezra Brooks ain’t bad!”

“No, you wouldn’t! You’re not drinking my booze! You just drink your Jack Daniels!”

“What the hell Buddha? You don’t think I would have replaced your whiskey? You mean to tell me you wouldn’t have shared?”

“I don’t want to have this conversation right now!”

“Why not?”

“Just don’t.”

“OK.”

We drove the rest of the way in silence.

Meanwhile, back in the motel room, we decided to watch a little TV while waiting for the pizza. It was 9 pm EST and 8 pm Central. Buddha grabbed the remote and engaged the “on” button. TV said, “No Signal.”

“Call the front desk and tell them the TV doesn’t work,” I said.

Buddha grabbed the phone, listened intently, punched the dial hooks repeatedly, looked up wild-eyed.

“No dial-tone! Motherfucker don’t work!”

“Call him on your cell phone.”

Buddha stared at the black desk set and started stabbing the numbers into his cell phone.

“Hello? Yeah, this is Buddha in room 105. The phone don’t work…. I’m calling you on my cell phone…. OK…OK…Ok. That’s not why I’m calling you. The TV don’t work either…OK…. OK…Ok.”

He hung up.

“What’d he say?”

“He said he would come down and try to reboot it himself.”

“Well OK then.”

So, we waited a few minutes, freshened our drinks, and munched on some smoked almonds. Pretty soon there was a knock at the front door.

Buddha let in the night clerk who again was maskless, but he was at least pretty friendly. He took the remote and began trying to reboot the TV.

About that time, we got another knock at the door. It was Dominos. Buddha answered the door. He paid for the pizza, $20.00 including tip.

The smell of the pizza filled the room.

“Wow, if you are getting pizza, I’m getting hungry.” This from the maskless night clerk.

“You want a slice?” I asked.

“No. No.”

The clerk didn’t have any luck getting the TV to work either.

“Let’s see, the TV don’t work, and the phone don’t work. Don’t you think we should get another discount?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’ll give you another discount. I’ll give it to you right now.”

And with that, he left.

Buddha and I just looked at each other and shrugged. Then we devoured the pizza.

A little later on that night, the night clerk showed up with our receipt which included our discounts. All in all, an $85.00 room ended up costing us $65.00. Not bad.

We got up early the next morning and hit the road again right after breakfast. It was around Texarkana when the drugs started kicking in. It was only a matter of time before we would see the bats.

As soon as we crossed the Texas state line the environment seemed to change. The horizon stretched out further, the roads became wider, and the countryside a lot brighter. You could see further in all directions. There were also a lot of Trump signs. We were definitely in Trump country. If there ever was time to be traveling armed, this was it.

Donald Trump. The 45th president of the United States of America was nothing more than a screaming hyena, a barking dog, a snake oil salesman, and a carnival barker. But he held a death grip on American politics for four years, and even though he was impeached twice and lost a fair and free election he still has a death grip on the GOP and a large number of the electorate. One-third of the country thinks the election was stolen and that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. What a mess! But I digress.

There we were, driving along US Highway 59 with an open road in front of us and Ruby and the Romantics blaring on the radio and I couldn’t help but think that here we are, 20 years into the next century. I remember the 60s as being a beacon of hope when the culture hit a high watermark. If you look back and squint your eyes just right, you can almost see where the crest of the wave finally broke and rolled back. It’s been downhill pretty much ever since.

Next stop: Galveston!

THE REBEL

The Rebel – Albert Camus

I’m giving The Rebel another read, a book I read when I was in my 20s, written by a man who has shaped my views more than any other, Albert Camus. You might think that The Plague might be more in order given the current plague we are now living through. Well, I’ve read that one too and it is vividly etched in my brain. But no, for me, given the current political situation in the USA, The Rebel is far more relevant. At no time during my lifetime, with the possible exception of the Vietnam war, has the idea of “man in revolt” been more relevant or more important. Updates to follow. I’ll be reading with new eyes…

Posse Comitatus

Trump wants to mobilize active duty U.S. military to attack peaceful protestors. This action would be unconstitutional, unlawful, and unconscionable. It is the action of a dictator and tyrant and a further degradation of our democracy. What Trump really wants is a race war.

What makes this illegal is the Posse Comitatus Act which states: Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. The exception to this law is the Insurrection Act. But to use this there has to be an insurrection, and what is happening is clearly not an insurrection.

The Attorney General for New York, Letitia James, has stated, “We will not allow Donald Trump to dominate New York.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly disagreed with President Trump’s threatened use of the 1807 Insurrection Act. Speaking to reports at a recent Pentagon briefing Esper said, “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

In my view, any soldier asked to deploy to an American city to fight protestors and enforce the law has a duty to disobey this unlawful order.

Failure of Leadership

Rant of the day

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Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump’s recent refusal to wear masks (PPE) in violation of their own public health guidelines is a dangerous failure of leadership and a dereliction of duty. The first principle of leadership is to lead by example. When I worked in manufacturing this is a lesson, I repeatedly pounded home during out daily staff meetings and production meetings. Our employees were required to wear PPE on the factory floor to ensure their safety. If our supervisors and mangers wouldn’t wear the PPE, then neither would the rank and file employees. Lead by example! And if you can’t do that, then get out of the way. You have no business being in a position of leadership.

Concentration Camps

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Representative Alexandria Occasion-Cortez, of New York, recently called the U.S. detention camps for migrants “concentration camps.” She caused quite a stir by so saying. I have been saying the same thing for months. I feel that it is a complete moral outrage for the American government to detain these men, women, and children in these camps.

Now we are arguing over the terminology. In my view a thing ought to be called what it is. And these camps are clearly concentration camps. The meet the technical definition. Historian Andrea Pitzer has made the same assertion in her piece in Esquire magazine: “The United States has created a concentration system.” She argues that mass detention of civilians without a trail was what made these concentration camps.  The full text of AOC’s tweet reads as follows: “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States, for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

Strange bedfellows Liz Cheney and Bill Maher condemned the remarks as being emotionally laden with memories and connotations of the holocaust. Masha Gessen, writing in the New Yorker, says this is a failure of imagination. We don’t’ want or cannot imagine a world where we as a people would be evil enough to place human beings in the same predicament as the Nazis did in WWII. Well, I agree with Green and I disagree with Bill Maher. Maher every once in a while, strikes a sour note and sings out of tune. It is surprising coming from a fellow who wears his political incorrectness on his sleeve like a red badge of courage.

These camps meet the technical definition of concentration camps, and so what if it brings up images and memories of the holocaust? It doesn’t devalue it. Rather, it shrieks out a warning, do not go there! It should be a warning that this is what we are capable of, the same thing the Nazis did in WWII. This what Hannah Arendt describes as the banality of evil.

We have to have the moral imagination to realize what we are doing is wrong and can lead to greater evil. We need to make a course correction now!

 

 

Electoral College

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Recently a couple of my Facebook friends have used Prager University to support their political points. Once in reference to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and once in reference to the electoral college. In response I would make the three following points:

  1. Prager University is not a University but rather a right-wing propaganda mill. As such it has no credibility in academic discourse.
  2. The United States is a federal republic and a constitutional representative democracy. To say it is one and not the other is simply wrong.
  3. The electoral college was driven in part by slavery. The 3/5’s compromise was enacted to count slaves as 3/5’s of a person in order to give slaveholding states more power based on population, although these slaves couldn’t vote. The Three-Fifths Compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution which reads: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

The electoral college is a shameful holdover from these times. It is said to protect minorities, but in modern times this means protecting whites from being ruled by people of color. Either way it is based on a racist outlook, is morally reprehensible, and must be abolished in order to provide free and fair elections by the majority of the people. One has to go no further than former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, who said that white people would be hurt if Maine joins other states in an effort to reduce the impact of the Electoral College. “Actually, what would happen if they do what they say they’re going do is white people will not have anything to say,” LePage said during an interview with WVOM radio. “It’s only going to be the minorities that would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida.”

Five times a candidate has won the popular vote and lost the election. Andrew Jackson in 1824 (to John Quincy Adams); Samuel Tilden in 1876 (to Rutherford B. Hayes); Grover Cleveland in 1888 (to Benjamin Harrison); Al Gore in 2000 (to George W. Bush); Hillary Clinton in 2016 (to Donald J. Trump).

 

 

 

 

 

ELECTION 2020

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Well, we are in a new presidential election cycle. It seems only yesterday that the monster Donald Trump was foisted upon us.  There is literally nothing more important than removing him from office, either through the ballot box or otherwise. We have a rather large field of Democratic candidates. Should be an interesting primary season.

My favorites include Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke,and Julian Castro. Any combination of these candidates would work for me. Of course, the most important consideration, in my view, would be electability and the ability to defeat Trump. Although I do think it might be questionable if Trump lasts long enough to run. If he does, we are all in danger.

I believe the electorate needs and wants a female candidate and a person of color on the ticket. I think it is high time we have a woman president or vice president. There is no question that Hillary Clinton was robbed last go round.

Joe Biden has the most experience, has the most gravitas, and is the most presidential. He would restore much needed decorum to the office and the land. However, he has some drawbacks. He has some things in his past which will bear scrutiny when his record is examined. Also, his age and gender might work against him. Do we really need another old white guy in the Oval Office? But, if he agreed to one term and chose a younger running mate, it might work.

I like Kamala Harris. She impressed me by her intelligent questioning in some of the congressional hearings that she has taken part in. She has an impressive record and background and I agree with her on many policy issues. Also, of all the candidates, she has got social media down to a science. A necessary ingredient in today’s world.

Cory Booker appeared on my radar while I was living in New Jersey and he was mayor of Newark. Quite an impressive fellow and a man to watch. Elizabeth Warren has the best record on consumer rights of any candidate and of any congressperson ever. This is a subject close to my heart she gets extra point for this.

Beto O’Rourke reminds me of a young Bobby Kennedy and he brought democrats together in Texas. He could turn the state Blue and would be a valuable asset on a ticket.

We will just have to see how all this shakes out. Can’t wait for the debates. Let the games begin!

 

 

A Fly in the Ointment

Howard Schultz  Running for President

howard schultz

There is always a fly in the ointment. This time it is former Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz announcement that he is running for president as an independent. The last thing we need is another old billionaire white guy as president. Now you might think that as an independent he doesn’t stand much chance of winning. But my concern is he could be a spoiler and throw the election back to Trump.

steve schmidt

Another concern is he just hired Steve Schmidt as campaign manger. Schmidt is a brilliant political operative who I greatly admire. With Schmidt at the helm Schultz has a chance. Things should be pretty interesting over the next few months as they develop. As if they hadn’t been interesting enough. Watch this space.