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Good To Know

Political Compromise 2012-style

(A History Repeats Itself blog, written in 2012)

 

I know I made some people mad this political season.  But hopefully I had good reasons.

 

I have always been a passionate person.  I think it helps carry me through writing a novel.  It helps me get things done when I really believe in what I'm doing.  I'm not the type to just shrug my shoulders and go back to watching TV.

 

But this presidential election I became fearful, and that's never a good thing when it comes to voting.  It's never good to say, oh my god, if we let that guy win we're all doomed!  I saw many Republicans doing that and swore I would not let fear dominate me.  

 

Honestly, I don't know what they were afraid of.  We've already lived through Obama's first four years and the next four can only get better.  But when you hear some companies say that they will lay people off if Obama gets re-elected, then you get some idea where their fear comes from.  Many companies, for instance, fear Obamacare, but they don't want to wait and give it a chance to work.

 

My fear came from a completely different area.  I am editing a book for my co-partner in Dancing with Cannibals, and it is all about oppressive regimes in Africa.  We all know America has had a less than stellar history in messing with other countries, installing dictators who are friendly to our resource interests.  It's not a good thing to do, and for the countries in Africa, after colonialism ended, the regimes didn't care at all about making improvements to the country but just took the money they made on resources and kept it for themselves.  We know this is happening, but editing this book of Dicho's has thrust me right into the middle of it.

 

The problem is, once those dictators are in there, how do we get them out?  How do we know the next one won't be just as bad?  Should we depend on the internal uprisings, and support them?  We never supported Fidel Castro overthrowing Batista back in 1959.  And that made our relations with Cuba strained.  There was talk that Kennedy was going to try to improve relations with Castro before he was killed.  That would have been the right thing to do.

Anyway, as a Democrat, I heard all the talk about how all the rich people and companies and Koch Brothers, etc., are supporting the Republican Party, and that seemed to me like another attempt of the rich to take over another country and make the rest of us poor – kind of like creating a third world country right here.  That's why there was so much talk about defending the middle class in America.  Because without unions and good public schools, our country is lost to oppression.

 

So yeah, put all that together and you can see why I got a little passionate this election.

 

Then there was my husband, who I encouraged to run for state assembly.  He was asked during the height of his busy season on the golf course and was inclined to say no.  But I told him they want you, and you'll never get another chance if you say no.  The Democrats were trying to get as many people as they could to run against incumbent Republicans, who dominate the assembly in Wisconsin.  I knew I would have to do most of the work until his season ended, but I also gave him ideas that he could handle  when he wasn't busy.  Finally, after knocking on some doors and getting my teeth kicked in, and seeing he wasn't making the phone calls or otherwise worrying about it, I turned my attention to other ideas.  

 

Nothing I tried worked very well, and I can't say it's because we didn't have Democratic assistance.  I'm very grateful to the people who tried to help us.  But the insistence on fund raising was contrary to our abilities.  I don't like to think we have to have money to win in politics.  I know they all say we do.  But Joe did not want to call people and ask for money.  And I could not.  With his over a decade as town chairman, he should have called a lot of people asking for support, but he didn't.  He didn't get anyone to write him a letter of support to the newspapers.  The day before the elections he finally went door to door by himself, and he had a great time.  If only we'd known that sooner!

 

So for the most part, we hoped that a Democratic win by the others in our state would pull him and other assembly candidates into the win column.  For that reason, too, I really pushed, at least on Facebook, to convince others to vote Democrat.

 

And now I'm exhausted. I'm like the balloon with the slow leak that's about out of air.  I think we all have to direct our passion where it suits us best.  I think worrying that whoever wins is going to lead the country down the wrong path is the wrong thing to do.

 

But one thing I will add, before you go.  The Tea Party must go.  The people who insist on mixing religion with politics must stop.  This country is one of diversity and freedom of religion.  It must stay that way.  Religion and politics do not mix.  You do not have to be Christian to be a good person.  

 

If we can agree on that, we might actually be able to reach all kinds of political compromises, the kinds that help this country grow.

 

Oh, and Republicans?  Try to find a better candidate next time.  Maybe change your platform image a little?  Seeing Romney talk was kind of like what I would imagine George McClellan trying to tell the country the war was wrong, after he lost so many as General after Antietam.

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A Killing Society

(Updated from 2014)

 

I happened to glance through the sport section of the paper the other day and saw an article about a guy going after the biggest bear known in the area.  He decided he was going to pretend to leave the area to see if he could trick the monster, and sure enough the bear showed up. That's when the article turned nasty.  Of course, he shoots it, but do they have to describe the bear's exploding ribcage and the howling cry of pain?  What is it about violence that gets people off?

 

The next day on a trip south I saw a sign – "Love the smell of gunpowder in the morning?  So do we." It was a sign for a shooting range.

 

What kind of violent society are we that we have to take the 2nd Amendment with its right to bear arms as militia protection from a tyrannical monarchy using muskets to meaning we can walk around with semi-automatic pistols and AR15s into school yards, airports, malls, churches and farmers markets?  

 

What kind of mentality creates this kind of society that advertises the love of the smell of gunpowder? Is shooting just for fun?  Or do these people really think they're protecting themselves, and need the bear meat to supply for their families?

 

I can understand going out to hunt meat when you're starving, and this is all you can afford.  But how can this kind of activity be fun?  Of course people who call hunting a sport also say they eat the meat they kill, but what is it about killing the animal when you're not starving that you get off on?  Are they reassuring themselves that if our society ever collapses they have the skills to survive? Part of their rationale is that these animals would overpopulate and terrorize our cities if they weren't hunted. But why brag about killing?

 

What I see going on now, with increased crime rates since Trump's loss, is that society will collapse because of weaponry. One thing Biden hasn't tackled yet, but to be fair, he's not even had a month yet.

 

I don't think there are too many people, NRA or not, who don't believe that George Zimmerman enjoyed having the 'excuse' to kill Trayvon Martin.  Of course he did.  He bought a gun and he walked around looking for a reason to shoot it.  He found one -- he created one. That he got away with it indicates he could do it again.

 

I get the need for every country to have soldiers. But I don't think for a minute that they're making us safer by killing people in other countries. It's like the tribes in America's pre-contact past. If you kill one of mine, I have to kill one of yours. This is a mentality that has been with us as human beings forever. Iran is smarter than Trump, so they could not be goaded into starting his war. We're fortunate they say him for what he was. But why do people become soldiers?  Why were so many ex-soldiers part of that January 6th capitol raid?

 

Can't we all see that not killing is better than killing?  Join the Peace Corps instead.

 

I asked recently if humans having consciousness are really still so far from being beasts as the beasts without this knowledge of "me-ness," and the feeling seemed pretty universal – no, we're not. We're still just beasts trying to protect what's ours.  We're still territorial. What good is ou consciousness if we don't use it to think?

 

Of course there are many altruistic people in the world, too -- people who wouldn't dream of picking up a gun.  Trayvon Martin might have been one of those.  Those could be the people who are truly evolving away from this 'beast' mentality. I like to think I'm one of them. But am I?  Or am I just fooling myself into believing that I'm safer without a gun? Am I just a declawed cat that's gone crazy?

 

I have to admit, if there's a societal showdown between people who want their guns and those who don't, we without are at more risk. That's what became scary when Trump kept insisting he won that election, and getting his supporters to believe it. But again, Trump failed to get the war he wanted.

 

I only know I'd rather die than live in their world anyway.  Because there's no place in my world where killing live breathing life -- for meat, for protection, for war -- is fun. It's sacred, and needs to be treated that way. No one's life in nature is of more value than another's. If you believe all living, breathing life is sacred, then don't glamorize your hunt. It just makes you look like a bully.

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I VS. U

Ego Vs. Selflessness

(first written 10 years ago)

 

I woke up this morning and read my obituary.  No-no, it's not quite the way it sounds.  What I mean is that symbolically I decided to bury my ego last night, and awoke to its death this morning.

 

I'd like to talk about that process for a minute. It's not really something you can do overnight.  It's not like you can wake up and it'll be gone.

 

I keep wishing I could see my obituary in the paper.  This desire has been going on for some time now, and I think it means I wish I could die and be someone else.  It means I wish I could bury this person who has this ego and be someone who doesn't notice herself so much all the time.

 

But this ego was given to me when I was a kid. It's not something I woke up with one day clinging to my back.  I had so many people when I was a kid telling me that I had something, or that I was something.  My father's last words to me when I was 14 and he was dying were "You look so pretty today."  

 

So I don't see this huge ego—that tells me I have to BE someone—as being all my fault. But it's there, and I'm the one who has to deal with it, right?

 

Nobody should be given the idea that they're going to be great someday.  It made me feel like I didn't even have to try.  It's not called giving someone confidence.  It's called giving someone unreal expectations.  It's something I felt was gonna happen no matter what I did.  I had it and people would just naturally see it.

 

But they didn't.  They don't.

 

And I have to face it.  I'm not that "pretty."  I'm average.  A lot of people have told me that they know my twin (four times at one convention). So thanks, Dad.  I could have used some other final words, you know.

 

I have this attitude that it's me who's important and not anyone else. So I'm here today to bury the "I" and focus on the "U".  The U that is all of us.  I want to focus on how we can go about doing that and become a better in the process.

 

I always thought of myself as a good person. I always thought people liked me.  I thought I was likeable.  But I find myself at age 68 facing loneliness due to friendlessness.  I thought that if I moved, I could be happy somewhere else. But I cannot move away from me.

 

The change comes from within. You know, you hear that all the time.  The change comes from within.  Well, great!  Wonderful!  Whoopee!  They don't tell you how to do that, though.

 

I'm going to try and see if I can make it work for me and if it does, I can share it here. How?  I versus U.

 

You know, I was gonna start this with a little grammar lesson.

 

I and U are so far apart in the alphabet.  It seems they never hang around together at all.  And I comes before U in the alphabet, so doesn't that prove that we always should put ourselves first?  Because if we don't, who will?  And there's a lot that comes between I and U – there's J, K,L – etc.  Just like there's a lot that comes between people and keeps them from communicating.  You can't put JKL together and make a sentence.  All you get for a vowel between I and U is O.  Oh.  But the words joke and poke – they both need an E.  

 

I have an acquaintance I'd love to be friends with, but it's not happening.  I think we have a lot in common but for some reason she keeps herself at a distance from me and I don't know why.  I thought it had something to do with the distance between I and U in the alphabet. I couldn't think of any words that used the two letters together, next to each other.

 

But I was driving one morning to a location on my GPS and I did at double take at the street name.  Muirwood Drive.  Muir was an environmentalist in Wisconsin awhile back.  And that name, with the UI together like that, is one of the few instances where you see the use of those two letters together.

 

Notice the U comes first?  Because when we talk about the environment, it should never be about ego – it should always be about Us. I love synchronicity.  This word, Muir, is very symbolic of what we're talking about here.

 

It seems we all say "I" very often.  I did this. I went there.  How many of us in our conversation say "You did this" or "you went there"?  We can't speak from the perspective of U.  We can only speak using our own eyes, what we witness.  And that gives "I" its importance.

 

We don't have to take away the importance of "I" to get rid of the ego.  But we have to recognize the times when "U" is more important.

 

"I want to do this" has a totally different connotation that "U want to do this."

 

"I am right" is diametrically opposed to "U are right."  Do you see how much better you feel when you recognize and concede to someone else's opinion?  Can you see how much better you make them feel?

 

We may ask others to apologize but how often can we say "I am sorry."

 

The use of I means that we are not intimidating to U.  It's about feeling good – and who should feel good. Do we claim that right, or do we give that right to someone else?

 

That's what we're looking at.  We're looking at how to make U feel more important than I.  And that's the whole basis of being a better person.

 

One way I'm going to suggest doing it is keeping Muir in your head. He asked us to remember the environment, and the environment is for all of us.  Not just me.

 

I only means me.  It is a very self-centered position.  The more you use "I", the less people will listen to U.

 

But let's get to a lesson in using U.  Say you're sitting at a bus stop.  The bus doesn't stop.  You stand there saying "Hey, I'm right here.  What are U, some kind of jackass?  Why didn't U stop?"

 

That's placing the blame on U.  Now try placing it on I.

 

I didn't wave at the bus.  When I saw it, I stepped away from the bus sign toward the place where I thought it would stop, but as I did so, the driver saw me only as walking away from the bus stop and figured that I saw it wasn't the bus I wanted.

 

I was at fault.  I can't blame U.

 

See how that works?

 

The next time you think life is all about I, trying thinking about all the other people in the world. U and I might just get along a little better that way.

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Paganism Revealed

Pagans get a bum rap. They are Satan worshippers, or they are witches casting evil spells and making people into zombies by sticking pins into them. They dance at night in the trees and in the day they give you evil-eyed stares.


Let's right now understand what Pagans are not. They are not devil worshippers. They are not a religion. All religions have a form of devil worship. But in the case of Pagans, devils are just the bad things that happen as opposed to the good things.


Duality. That permeates most all of the ancient cultures composed of people who could be called Pagans. Yes, Paganism is the oldest form of 'religion' in the world, but it's not technically a religion at all.


The interesting thing about Paganism is that each person is free to develop their own beliefs based on their dreams, and no one would dare argue with another person's dream. Dreams were just another level of reality. No one who calls themselves Pagan would dare to tell you to believe as they do.


There are some beliefs in Paganism around the world that are pretty standard, however. Beliefs in ancient cultures had oral traditions, not written ones; we can usually only guess how people felt about their spirituality back then by observing the last of these cultures today, by looking at historical records of early encounters and by their own art left behind or found underground.


Overall, however, there was this belief in duality: good/evil, man/woman, night/day, hot/cold, up/down. The change of the seasons affected them directly, without air conditioning or temperature gauges. Sure, they had enclosed structures and fire. But they had to worry about the fire going out, in ways that we don't today.


They understood a lot more than we give them credit for. They understood that they were a minute part of a huge universe, they understood the use of plants, and they examined the biology of other creatures, even comparing them to themselves. They must have wondered why a lot of male animals had a penis bone while human males did not. Did they understand human consciousness? Probably, as it can be found reflected on in their art.


So Pagans can be simply defined as a spirituality devoted to nature and individualistic depending on dreams; not something to be argued. In other words, I'm a Pagan and recognize that without Mother Earth, we would be dead. And I am not obsessed with convincing you to see it my way, as you might be with converting me to your religion. Nor would I denigrate you to feel inferior to me, as Europeans did to the native Indian cultures in this country when they first arrived.


Here's an internet definition of Paganism.


Wikipedia: is a broad group of indigenous and historical polytheistic religious traditions—primarily those of cultures known to the classical world. In a wider sense, it has also been understood to include any non-Abrahamic folk/ethnic religion. The term pagan was historically used as one of several pejorative Christian counterparts to "gentile" as used in the Hebrew Bible—comparable to "infidel" or "heretic". Modern ethnologists often avoid this broad usage in favour of more specific and less potentially offensive terms such as polytheism, shamanism, pantheism, or animism when referring to traditional or historical faiths. Since the 20th century, "Paganism" (or "Neopaganism") has become the identifier for a collection of new religious movements attempting to continue, revive, or reconstruct historical pre-Abrahamic religion. There are roughly 300 million pagans worldwide.


"Historical pre-Abrahamic (Judaism) religion." Yes, that would be the first organized religion that pulls its roots from Paganism. Orthodox Judaism is a spirituality that is practice a lot more on a daily basis, as were the early Pagans. Everything they did was with nature's gods in mind, both good and bad.


The book I'm working on is called "Creating Consciousness" and looks at the roots of all religions to find what it is that we created to deal with our fears of death. This is what sets us apart from the animals. All Paganism does is sees spirituality in everything, and that humans are all a part of nature. That's a good thing. That's a belief to be honored above all others, not demonized.

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Reflections: A comparison of two presidential campaigns

Jack Newfield's memoir of Bobby Kennedy is an intensely personal look inside the man before he decided to run for president; Newfield started following Bobby as a journalist in the autumn of 1966, and then covered that campaign through June 5, 1968. Apparently Newfield started out disliking him, noting that he'd picketed the Kennedy administration in 1963 at the Justice Department over the treatment of blacks to date. At that time Newfield was protesting black oppression, and saw Bobby come out. When someone yelled, "we haven't seen too many Negroes coming out of there," Bobby's only response was that they did not hire by the color of the skin, only by their ability. Bobby was booed for this. Two years later, Newfield found himself following Bobby as a journalist reporter.

 

So Newfield fills this book with intimate moments showing what Bobby was really like. He was a human being, and certainly flawed. He was not only complex, but contradictory. Newfield claimed he was a man at war with himself, especially in these early years after his brother was killed. This book made me understand Bobby more, and identify with him as a human being.

 

This is also a book that, in reading it today, shows how little politics has changed since then. I'll share some of those comparisons here in this summary of a book I highly recommend; it sells pretty cheaply used at Amazon.

 

Bobby is portrayed as a passionate, sensitive introvert, not naturally inclined to the political process but drawn to the nobleness of it. He could be moody, and he daydreamed. According to Newfield (54), he was "a nature sensualist. Clouds and rain depressed him. Sun, wind and the sea elated him. Mountains, rapids and animals exhilarated him."

His belief about the nobleness of the political process can be summed up in his own words (55): "…but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I'd like to feel that I'd done something to lessen that suffering."

 

In today's world so many people think all politicians are only crooked, no longer working to lessen anyone's suffering. But we have to believe that desire is still there in the people who want to run our country, or all hope is gone. Are we nothing more than dollar signs walking around?

 

Newfield (56) called this time between 1965 and 1968 "the most concentrated and violent change in American life since the 1930s." This book demonstrates that change as a reflection of the Vietnam War, just as our politics evolving today continue to reflect Bush's invasion of Iraq and growing terrorism that has resulted.

 

What's interesting about the 1968 political campaign year is that Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) became one of the first to decide not to seek re-election, which happened previously in 1884 with Cleveland. In Johnson's time, television was to the people what the internet is today, certainly a mover and driver of more information than people ever had access to before. They were showing Vietnam battles on nightly news, and that was unprecedented. I think there were some World War II scenes shown in movie houses, but nothing like this before. It's really not surprising that there would be an outgrowth of war protests with those kinds of visions. "Television, and the media in general, are now more powerful in determining politics than heredity is," noted the author (57).

 

People get upset over the idea of a "Clinton" dynasty, as some were over a "Bush" dynasty, but that's nothing new in American politics—the Adams, the Roosevelts, and here potentially the Kennedys. If one is suited to the task, with experience and education, the last name shouldn't be factor.

 

One of the criticisms of Hillary Clinton has been that she changes her mind. But a trait of a good leader is the ability to reassess. Bobby Kennedy did so on Vietnam and in his Vietnam speeches between 1965 and 1968 he would often apologize for the role he and his brother played on getting them involved. George McGovern's break with Johnson in 1965 had a big impact on him (130). He later said that if McGovern had run in '68, he would not have. The author also quoted a columnist here who believed Bobby stayed quiet all through 1965 to avoid a fight with President Johnson. Later the author said he made his first aniti-war statement in 1965, but became more vocal in '66, when the Senate too had begun to turn against the war (134).

 

Immediately Bobby faced a backlash of criticism from many, including those who had been friends with John Kennedy. "The general impression was that Kennedy got the worst of the political exchange because of the subtleties of his own position, and the potency of the simplistic anti-Communist rhetoric of his opponents" (135). Sometimes the development of the strength of convictions takes time, and in-depth analysis of the mood and pitch of the country's people; a true leader can change with the times and the will of the people.

 

But the backlash meant that Bobby stopped talking about the war for the remainder of 1966 (136), even as his opinions grew. Newfield gives readers the impression that Bobby was not the natural politician that his brother had been. But he wanted to be president because there were so many people to help, and he didn't know how else to help. His passion made people begin to rally around him. He felt real.

 

He was back at it in 1967, and this time, he did not give up. Here's from his last speech in 1968: "Do we have that authority (to kill) tens and tens of thousands of people because we say we have a commitment to the South Vietnamese people? But have they been consulted—in Hue, in Ben Tre, in other towns that have been destroyed? Do we have that authority? ... What we have been doing is not the answer, it is not suitable, and it is immoral, and intolerable to continue it."

 

Bobby was afraid to run up against Johnson. They never got along and for a while, Johnson's politics were favorable; also, his brother had chosen him (though Bobby told him not to) (202). No love was lost between them during JFK's presidency; Bobby was often treated (and acted) like second-in-command. For these reasons he was late to declare himself an anti-war president, and was considered a coward for a while. Eugene McCarthy got in before him and gained a lot of support from the college crowd. Johnson at first—following the JFK assassination—received as high as 80% approval, and 69% of his bills in 1965 were passed, a record number (189).

 

Politics at this time revolved around poverty, racism, bureaucracy, foreign policies and war. How little things change, sometimes, no matter how hard we try. But in 1967 the revolution began, and it wasn't started by Bobby or the Beatles. It appears it started with the anti-draft movement (195), probably related to the news reports showing what went on in war. By early 1967 the Democrats were looking to replace LBJ. One movement was to draft Bobby, but he wasn't ready (19 . In June of that year, he was clearly in turmoil over his inability to challenge Johnson. At that time he used glowing praise for the president that he later regretted (203-204).

 

He finally began to travel the country in mid-January of 1968, making anti-war speeches, and his closest friends felt that meant he was running. He openly admitted to disliking McCarthy, calling him pompous, petty and venal. He couldn't endorse him. "Gene just isn't a nice person" (211-213).

 

Yet it was the Tet offensive beginning January 31, 1968 (234) that got Bobby into the race and not LBJ's decision not to run again, as I had thought. With McCarthy already running he was receiving a lot of support from the campuses and the Jewish communities. A number of Bobby's closest advisers jumped up to encourage him, but his brother Teddy remained uncertain (235).

 

Finally on March 16th he made his candidacy official : "I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies … I made it clear to Senator McCarthy … that my candidacy would not be in opposition to his, but in harmony … my desire is not to divide the strength of those forces seeking a change, but to increase it" (257).

He worked hard to gain the trust of the college crowd, who saw McCarthy as the man with courage. At first Bobby's audience was made of those who hated hippies and happy that Bobby was running against Johnson. He talked up the college revolution scene, saying that we need to attack life with all our youthful vigor (262-263).

 

By the end of March, "Kennedy Besieged … there was almost a riot at the airport, the crowds were out of control, and there as a brief fistfight between a Kennedy enthusiast and a McCarthy heckler." There seems to be a distinction here—enthusiast versus heckler? It's a perspective issue, same as today. Or it really was a McCarthy fan sending jeering words at a Kennedy fan. "I want to find jobs for all our people," said Bobby into a bullhorn. I want to find jobs for the black people of Watts, and the white people of eastern Kentucky. I want a reconciliation of blacks and whites in the United States" (273-274).

 

Reconciliation? You see, blacks and whites didn't always not get along. They don't all not get along today. See the movie Free State of Jones playing now and you'll see what I mean. The more we live with each other, the more we can. That's why desegregation was so important in the 1960s, but still, we see so many places today where a white hasn't seen a black, except on TV.

 

Bobby was devastated by the death of Martin Luther King, and was tempted to withdraw. Shades of Dallas had to have run through his head. But he knew he had to speak out. "But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land" (281).

 

And later: "For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter" (283).

 

How far have we come, really? Shouldn't we be ashamed that many of these words can still be said today? Where is the hope of the 60's?

 

Kennedy began winning heavily with the black population, to the point of Ethel saying, "don't you wish everyone was black?" (299) When Kennedy didn't do as well as expected, Newfield intimated a double standard: "If Kennedy had the relationship that McCarthy has with Shana Alexander and Mary McGrory, it would be a scandal. But Gene can get away with it because no one accuses him of buying off the press. So he gets a free ride."

 

If Kennedy was like Sanders early in the race, he became like Hillary later. Bobby appealed to the blacks, as Hillary does, and both are accused of duplicitous methods. Was Bobby using his brother's name? Newfield believed the opposite was true (303). By invoking their mistakes and how wrong the war was, and ramping up on Civil Rights, Bobby was making a name for himself. Hillary, too, puts herself squarely with the liberals and women's and black rights, and the need for more gun regulation.

 

A man heckled Bobby at one of his stops, and the police arrested him. Bobby said to let him go, but they wouldn't. So Bobby promised to get him out of jail as soon as he was elected. That kind of peaceful rhetoric seems missing now, where this kind of heckling had been easier to tolerate.

 

Bobby also pursued gun control legislation, and he tested the ground against rifles and hunters in Oregon, known for being very volatile state over the issue. He lost Oregon, but he loved to challenge his audiences, not cater to them (307). This was before the California vote, and if he didn't get that, he wasn't sure he could keep going.

 

His speech in Oregon is worth noting: "Nobody is going to take your guns away. All we're talking about is that a person who's insane, or is seven years old, or is mentally defective, or has a criminal record, should be kept from purchasing a gun by money order."

 

After Johnson announced he wasn't running, Bobby took on Hubert Humphrey with the same vigor of being pro-war that Johnson was. "If the Vice President is nominated to oppose Richard Nixon (and Nixon was pretty much running in the primary unopposed), there will be no candidate who has opposed the course of escalation of the war in Vietnam" (313).

 

In Oregon, McCarthy had scored heavily against Bobby, but Bobby didn't counterattack, fearing to appear ruthless, and not wanting to alienate McCarthy's college voters. He wanted people to see him as running against Humphrey. McCarthy, on the other hand, went after Bobby's previous pro-war record with his brother. But Newfield noted that Bobby was on record as being anti-war even before McCarthy (315).

 

Bobby finally agreed to debate McCarthy before the California primary, and of course they each won it, depending on who you listened to. But when his staff asked why Bobby blew the closing remarks so badly, he said, "You won't believe it, but I was daydreaming. I thought the program was over and I was trying to decide … where to take Ethel for dinner" (321-322).

 

The last time the author talked with Bobby, it was about Bob Dylan. Bobby had just heard the song "Blowing in the Wind" and was very struck by it. He decided he wanted to meet Dylan. As they talked and Newfield wondered how Bobby could win the activist students, Bobby turned to brood out the window again (324).

 

Toward the end of California campaigning, those in Bobby's camp decided that Bobby and McCarthy were alike on so many issues, and the focus still needed to be against Humphrey. Yet on June 4th McCarthy claimed that Martin Luther King had endorsed him; that Bobby once had his phones tapped (330). Some feared Bobby wouldn't take New York later. Others feared this country was going to kill another Kennedy, "and then we won't have a country" (327).

 

We all know what happened. He was killed, just after winning California. We can hope and pray that never happens in this country again, even as the death toll from guns rises. Newfield ends the book without mentioning the killer's name, and just asking "Why?" 

 

As you think about the campaign in 2016, let Bobby's last words stay with you:

 

I ask you to recognize the hard and difficult road ahead to a better America –and I ask you tomorrow to vote for yourselves. The people must decide this election—and this must decide so that no leader in America has any doubt of what they want. For your sake, and for the sake of your children, vote for yourself tomorrow (327).

 

I don't want to share the author's final words because, quite frankly, I don't want to believe them. "And from this time forward, things would get worse; our best political leaders were part of memory now, not hope. The stone was at the bottom of the hill and we were alone."

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A Violent Society

Revisiting a blog I wrote in 2012

 

Guns seem to be everywhere lately and though innocent people, people who don't carry guns, have been dying, no one wants to do anything about it.

 

But violence has a long history in this country and many believe that to have freedom we have to accept risk.  But does it have to be at the point of a gun?

 

They say there have been 700 anti-Muslim attacks since 9/11.  But we can look farther than that to see images of intolerance in this country.  The real problem seems to be people that are lunatics can get guns.  These are smart lunatics, too, for I'm told they can outwit the psychological evaluation questionnaire they are supposed to complete before getting a weapon.  Maybe they're just smarter than whoever evaluates the questionnaire.

 

Smart.  Like Mark David Chapman, who gunned down John Lennon by shooting him five times in the back.  In the back.  I don't know a more horrifying act than killing peaceful people, like the Sikh recently in Wisconsin.  But we understand, at least, the anti-Muslim sentiment and how a whacko can make a turban-esque mistake.  

 

Be different in America at your own risk, right?

 

No, shooting innocent people because you're mad at a few radicals is never an answer.  And yet it seems the chosen outlet in this country, one that no one is trying to do anything about.

 

What was Lennon's crime?  It's hard to imagine that this happened to him, even today, 40 years later.  World-class peacemaker who wanted everyone to live together, completely accepting each other.  But Chapman, whose name I wish I could forget, was a born-again Christian who took offense to Lennon's utopian sentiment in Imagine.  

 

Chapman was a Beatle fan until Lennon's innocent comment about Beatlemania being too big in 1966.  Many Christians took offense—at 13, I was one, and that allowed the emergence of the Monkees who recaptured that innocence that the Beatles outgrew.

 

I had to mature into John Lennon myself. As I rediscovered him with Imagine, I learned that most of my favorite Beatle songs were Lennon songs.  One of my wedding songs was his, but I didn't know he sang it when I picked "Love is Real."

 

But it's interesting, now that I think about it.  It seems Lennon's "anti-Christian" comment was a defining moment in time in many ways.  It allowed John to reach out beyond the Beatles.  But it also made early Beatle music my favorite, and I never could figure out why my husband, who is older than me, preferred late Beatle music.  It's because he became a fan after that comment, when he wasn't before.

 

Chapman, on the other hand, turned away from the Beatles and never looked back.  He became Christian.  He allowed the song Imagine, and the man, eat away at his soul.  He wanted to make a name for himself and he thought Lennon was bad for the world.

 

Did he take a psychological evolaution to get a gun?  Doubtful.  How about Oswald or Ray or Sirhan?  Why was violence seemingly born in the 60s?  Because the hippie movement that blossomed also gave birth to its opposition.

Unless we realize we have a real problem in this country with racism and religious intolerance, this violence will continue.  Who will be next?  You?  Me?

 

I'd like to see guns completely purged from the U.S.  Barring that, the FBI profilers need to sit down and create a fool-proof questionnaire … problem is, can we really deny someone a gun because he answers questions wrong?

But then what can we do?  Just keep putting up with the freedom to be killed by a lunatic?  What terrible new event awaits us?

 

They like to say guns don't kill people.  People kill people.  But how will they kill if you take that gun away?  Bombs?  Maybe.  Knives?  Doubtful.  You won't kill too many in a theater with knives.  

 

Guns are easy.  Too easy.  Just ask Yoko Ono.

 

Update: I post this as Trump's Proud Boys are roaming the streets with guns, looking to create the violence that could start another  Civil War. Because do not doubt that Trump's only way to save his own skin is to at least have a part of the country he could still be president of. Fortunately, for all his blow-hard words, so far, are all empty. DO NOT give them something to shoot at. We only have a little more than a month before we have a new president.

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An Anti-Gun Post from 2012

I wrote this in 2012, and it's disturbing because we see the forces that elected Trump emerging.

 

A VIOLENT SOCIETY

Guns seem to be everywhere lately and though innocent people, people who don't carry guns, have been dying, no one wants to do anything about it.

But violence has a long history in this country and many believe that to have freedom we have to accept risk.  But does it have to be at the point of a gun?

They say there have been 700 anti-Muslim attacks since 9/11.  But we can look farther than that to see images of intolerance in this country.  The real problem seems to be people that are lunatics can get guns.  These are smart lunatics, too, for I'm told they can outwit the psychological evaluation questionnaire they are supposed to complete before getting a weapon.  Maybe they're just smarter than whoever evaluates the questionnaire.

Smart.  Like Mark David Chapman, who gunned down John Lennon by shooting him five times in the back.  In the back.  I don't know a more horrifying act that killing peaceful people, like the Sikh recently in Wisconsin.  But we understand, at least, the anti-Muslim sentiment and how a whacko can make a turban-esque mistake.  

Be different in America at your own risk, right?

No, shooting innocent people because you're mad at a few radicals is never an answer.  And yet it seems the chosen outlet in this country, one that no one is trying to do anything about.

What was Lennon's crime?  It's hard to imagine that this happened to him, even today.  World-class peacemaker who wanted everyone to live together, completely accepting each other.  But Chapman, whose name I wish I could forget, was a born-again Christian who took offense to Lennon's utopian sentiment in Imagine.  

Chapman was a Beatle fan until Lennon's innocent comment about Beatlemania being too big in 1966.  Many Christians took offense—at 13, I was one, and that allowed the emergence of the Monkees who recaptured that innocence that the Beatles outgrew.

I had to mature into John Lennon myself.  Many fans had to.  As I rediscovered him with Imagine, I learned that most of my favorite Beatle songs were Lennon songs.  One of my wedding songs was his, but I didn't know that when I picked it.

But it's interesting, now that I think about it.  It seems Lennon's "anti-Christian" comment was a defining moment in time in many ways.  It allowed John to reach out beyond the Beatles.  But it also made early Beatle music my favorite, and I never could figure out why my husband, who is older than me, preferred late Beatle music.  It's because he became a fan after that comment, when he wasn't before.

Chapman, on the other hand, turned away from the Beatles and never looked back.  He became Christian.  He allowed the song Imagine, and the man, eat away at his soul.  He wanted to make a name for himself and he thought Lennon was bad for the world.

Did he take a psychological evolaution to get a gun?  Doubtful.  How about Oswald or Ray or Sirhan?  Why was violence seemingly born in the 60s?  Because the hippie movement that blossomed also gave birth to its opposition.

Unless we realize we have a real problem in this country with racism and religious intolerance, this violence will continue.  Who will be next?  You?  Me?

I'd like to see guns completely purged from the U.S.  Barring that, the FBI profilers need to sit down and create a fool-proof questionnaire … problem is, can we really deny someone a gun because he answers questions wrong?

But then what can we do?  Just keep putting up with the freedom to be killed by a lunatic?  What terrible new event awaits us?

They like to say guns don't kill people.  People kill people.  But how will they kill if you take that gun away?  Bombs?  Maybe.  Knives?  Doubtful.  You won't kill too many in a theater with knives.  

Guns are easy.  Too easy.  Just ask Yoko Ono.

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Why Read about the Civil War?

CIVIL WAR & BLOODY PEACE: Following Orders is an 20-year project that took me around the country into dusty files and hard to read microfilm until I thought my eyes would fall out.  It took me through two degrees, earning me a master's in history in 2006.  If anyone had told me how much work one of these books would take, I would have run screaming in the other direction!

 

But I have to admit, exploring the 20-year army life of an ancestor, from 1862 to 1884, and beyond, was also a lot of fun.  It also enabled me, and I'm sure will enable readers, to see the country in a whole new way.  Already I've made my readers uncomfortable with a very real portrayal of Abraham Lincoln (see Mystic Fire -- my brother hates my writing now).  This discomfort is necessary, however, if we're ever going to be able to make sense of the way our country is.

 

I thought I would share the process of getting this book published. I queried about everyone three times as I went from 173,000 words down to 135,000 words. Traditonal publishers thought it was better suited for the university presses, who thought it was better suited for the traditional presses. In the meantime, I wasn't getting any younger. So with one final edit I self-published (2019) with the expected results. Readers feel it's unvalidated, so instead of acceptance they look at it with a more critical eye. And that's okay except … historical books do need validation. I did not want to go this route. I once singed a contract with Sunbury Press.  It seemed pro-active and not in the least intimidated by footnotes.  Those were the two key ingredients that enabled me to sign the contract.  They promised to get me an editor within six months after submitting it to them.

 

After six months, they still had no one for me. I started getting shade from them, and cancelled the contract. And then I got to thinking -- maybe I should put it out as two volumes. So I started the query process again. That didn't work. Meantime, I kept making the book shorter.

 

Problem is, people still see it as a personal story of a soldier, and that's not the way it's meant. Yes, I follow Henry's orders, but that's to give the book cohesiveness. Yes, I went every place he went, but that was to dig out primary information no one else has ever seen. And that enabled me to solve the mystery of the Little Bighorn. But without validation? Sigh. No one takes me seriously.

 

And that's a shame. Because they're missing a really interesting story. How the story of a soldier IS the story of a country.

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Home for the CAMD is Being Sought

I am asking around for an Amerind organization to take a donation of the entire CAMD. Why would I do that? Because of the negativity I keep hitting against me and this work in the archeaology field.  I've been a member now of the WAS for years and they've never once asked me to present my work. I've offered articles but they've always completely changed the article from what I've offered. Because of people like ***, once on my free newsletter subscription list, now won't tell me why he doesn't want me emailing him. I asked a simple request for a reference, and all he needed to say was no. Not one person I asked for a reference for the Michigan resource manual said yes. Okay, who's badmouthing me? Is it you, ***? Because of Archaeo Press, who thinks they can take an archaeologist's hard work and not pay them anything. Because of a Facebook copper page, where *** kicked me off because I wasn't making photos from museums free for everyone. She intimated that I should just make my entire work free, so now I hope I've found a way to do that.

 

And then there's ***, who is the wrong person to run the Oconto Copper Burial Museum. But I get it -- they can't find anyone else. I curated there for three years, and the only pay I got, for all that I did, was when I gave tours. And I had a tour guide who wanted most of those hours, until Oconto County Historical Society stopped paying even for tours. Then I was alone and there was no pay. In those three years, I opened up the museum with new paint, new shelves, new displays, lots of research, found lost copper hidden away, ripped out old plants and planted new flowers, ran our board meetings, developed a membership and newsletter, hosted open houses, gave presentations -- I lived for that place for two of those three years. In the third year, as an OCHS thanks, they pulled all funding, so I said I was done the end of that season.

 

But ***? Yes, a lifelong resident, former city council member, former business owner, he was on the board. He was supposed to help with the displays because that's the kind of thing he did in his business. But we could never agree on how much he should be paid. Yes, paid. He wanted money from the meager budget I got on the museum. I felt that he should be offering his services, and just get paid for supplies. That was the beginning of the end of that friendship. After that, he stood in my way wherever he could, belittled me and made for a very uncomfortable workplace, which didn't pay a cent as it was.

 

And now he's running the museum? When I gave tours, I was often asked what credentials I had. I would tell them about my master's in history and about the focus I developed in my undergraduate work on following an ancient trade network. That seemed to satisfy people. What does *** have to offer? Well, since he was voted off the city council and closed up his framing business, I suppose it was a matter of there's no one else and he needed something to do.

 

I left after three years because I needed a paying job and a little dignity back in my life. That was at the end of 2010 and it took until 2015 before I got one full time that offered the health insurance I needed. But I kept my interest in copper, spent a lot of time and money developing the CAMD, and now people want me to just give it to them - for free? So I decided, if I have to give all this work away, it'll go to the people whose ancestors created those copper artifacts. No one else.

 

I knew when I started doing this that I was in over my head. I didn't have any real archaeology in my background. Oh, I took a class from ***, but then I lost her support, too. Somehow. I developed an archaeology fiction novel that I wanted her to beta read for me, but she's since disappeared. But the more I collected the data, the more a trade network began to appear. It all felt so fascinating to me. But what was I going to do with it? Well, ultimately, publish the data, of course. But how?

 

Yes, what I was hoping to find all along was some support, some help, maybe a partner or two, an archaeologist or student of such who wanted to make the project was progressing properly. To that end, I put out a monthly newsletter, and received comments that way, which were helpful. But no one to say, hey, let me see what you have so far. I suppose that's understandable. Museums felt this was a good project, except for those who wanted nothing to do with it (only a handful, thankfully). One archaeologist in a public forum was asked if it was a good idea, and he said sure, if the right person was doing it. I was right there in the room. Of course, I made him an enemy of my work while I was still curating at Oconto. And for now good reason, I bore the brunt of his anger, though it was the town's decision to ignore his advice. And then he told the state archaeologist, who got down on me, but there was nothing I could do. The state doesn't support the museum, after all, and has no say.

 

And then there's the fellow I had to kick off my newsletter subscription because he professed he just wanted to "steal" photos for his work. Well, I say right in my newsletter that none of these photos are available for use. I didn't have permission for anything but this free newsletter. And yet he has published a huge color book of artifacts. Did he get permission for all of those? I hope so. For his sake. He's being touted now as the copper expert, while my data gets ignored. I should get a copy, but it's pricey (mine won't be) and I can't get over all the ugly comments he's made about me.

 

Self-publishing is always an option but I don't like to because there's no validity. Still, as things have progressed with my newsletter, I lost validity anyway because of my "guesses" in my newsletters -- hey, everyone guesses about the ancient past! I did have archaeologists as subscribers and I always published their responses to my material. There was never any serious challenge to what I wrote, which was basically all about what I was finding, and where. I put out 88 copper newsletters, and I think they were a lot of fun.

 

I waited a few weeks for some responses to some further queries of publisher, and now I'm querying national tribal organizations. I'll still publish the first manual, which is almost done. But I would prefer this research would go to somewhere that can treat it with the respect IT deserves (not me, but I'm used to not being treated with respect anyway).

 

Why would they want this? Here's a list of reasons I think might help them decide:

 

1. CAMD demonstrates a wide-ranging trade network.

2. Dispels misinformation about the ancient past.

3. Gives an accurate record of where artifacts are being kept, so that we can see what was actually found in any one location.

a) Caveat: they will need to sign an affidavit saying they will not go after anyone's collection, not any museum or any collector, and then I will give them the confidential data.

b) I will remain attached to the material so they can get my assistance with interpreting the materials, and correcting any errors, for as long as they need.

4. I will give them my credentials for creating this database.

5. I can continue to develop the books and give them 50/50 proceeds. (Splitting it insures that I have the incentive to continue developing the manuals as long as I'm able.)

6. Lack of a good Amerind home means it will end up at WHS for their online archives. But I'd rather it go to the descendents of the materials' creators.

7. I will give you one complete state's data in advance so you can see what it looks like.

8. It includes 68 folders of copper data, including spreadsheets, photos and resources (Photos are not free use; you'd have to contact the owners to publish.) The folder called "Resource Manuals," which has 23 folders of the various manuals I've planned to produce. The Sources Used folder contains  resources used. Data totals over 84,000 pieces. I have a lot of paper materials that I can ship, too, for a mailing fee.

9. I will retain, if agreed, two things: the ability to produce several resource manuals (not all; I'll never be able to finish) per #5 above; and the right to publish a book about my experiences as an outside in the archaeology world, which will include theories about these ancient peoples as compared to those today who think they know them. This last can be beta-read by someone in your organization for approval before publication.

 

Yes, the CAMD needs a proper home. It's outgrown the home I tried to give it, and if I had been able, I would have known long before that this time would come.

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A NEW Bonanza Project Announced

For those who can never get enough Bonanza, how about a nonfiction book, Virginia City & Bonanza: History Fact & Fiction? Sound appealing? As a lifelong Bonanza fan, the research on this project is fascinating. I'm curious is there's a market for this, before I get too far into it and work to get Bonanza Ventures' approval.

 

The Bonanza TV series, as we know, began to air in 1959, one hundred years after the big Bonanza silver strike on Sun Mountain at Washoe Diggings. Virginia City was then established and became known as one of the richest cities in the world. But their big bonanza days ended by 1880. The city's renaissance in 1959 owed everything to the new TV series, said Joe Curtis.

 

Curtis is former owner of the Mark Twain Bookstore and Museum, and the museum was started by his parents around the time Bonanza began to air. Curtis is retired now and is a historian for Virginia City, a stickler in getting details right. I first contacted the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce because I wanted to know if Bonanza had any role in opening up Virginia City to tourism. They forwarded my message to Curtis, who said "without a doubt, if it weren't for Bonanza, Virginia City would be a ghost town today."

 

We worked on an article about this renaissance, and there are some surprises. Hopefully we can find a magazine that will publish it. I've got queries out.

 

It's also part of the larger project. You see, Bonanza didn't just set itself in Virginia City. It had episodes taken from their history. This book will explore just how accurate those episodes were, and will expand on them by showing the real history of the territory. I see this as not only a great resource for history buffs and Bonanza fans, but an amazing look at this period in time and the process of mining in the 1800s, and how this was reflected in the TV series during its 14 year run.

 

For instance, you'll learn that the entire area called the Ponderosa was not settled in 1859. So the Cartwrights didn't kick anyone off their land -- well, except Washoe Indians. Perhaps this explains why Bonanza has usually had a soft spot for the natives portrayed on the show. You'll see the Ponderosa area colored in red on the authentic 1860 map. Joe Curtis confirmed that they didn't start building up this Ponderosa area at Incline Village until the 1930s. The Cartwrights' Ponderosa took over unsettled land. Carson City and Virginia City are east and north of the Ponderosa. And Genoa is down at its southeastern corner.

 

Joe sent me more maps, too, that will be used in the book. Do you know where the Comstock Lode was? I mean, precisely? Do you know where it was first found? I uncovered a mystery about Mark Twain, too, and how the Territorial Enterprise moved three times.

 

A lot of what I've used comes from materials I've picked up over the years from the many trips to Nevada, but there's nothing like the direct conversations that Joe Curtis and I have had. He's a real gem, helping me weed out fact from fiction. "Virginia City is a mining town, not a cowboy town," he noted. Yes, Virginia City did try to accommodate the cowboy fans; however, in this project I note more and more how the episodes related to mining history, such as in "She Walks in Beauty."

 

In disseminating the history of Virginia City, I learned how much the writers of Bonanza got right, which is pretty darned good at a time when VCRs weren't used and episodes were shot out of a gun a week at a time -- a lot more episodes than any series does today. When you buy a DVD of a single season, you're getting as many as 24 episodes.

 

In reading Dan DeQuille's "The Big Bonanza," there is one episode that Bonanza got exactly right. Can you guess which one? Hint, no, not "Enter Mark Twain." That was more to dramatize his time there, a composite of what did happen with Sam Clemens there.

 

The main focus in this book will be on getting Virginia City history right, but I will include information about the Bonanza conventions held here, times that the Cartwrights visited the area, and even more detail on the Ponderosa Ranch Theme Park; information in the article will also be included in the book.

 

I will also straighten out the Bonanza timeline. I used to think that episodes shot in 1959 were reflective of those that happened in 1859. Instead, I will be inserting episodes that can be dated into the actual historical timeline, which is an outlined breakdown of Virginia City history. For instance, Mark Twain didn't get to Virginia City until 1862.

 

What I won't do in the book, though, is dissect the lives of the four (or more) cast members of the TV series. I will go all the way through the DVD series to pull out those historical episodes that deal with Virginia City history. As I've only bought the series to Season 6, this gives me a great way to do what I've never done; study the series after Adam's character left. It's time I do that, and show how historically right Bonanza episodes really were, right to its finish line, which was before 1980 but not a lot before.

 

I think we'll all develop a greater appreciation for Bonanza, and for Virginia City - the little town that would never die. We'll understand that, even though the real geographic distances made no sense, why David Dortort gave Bonanza the best of both worlds.

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