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Archive → September, 2017

The Wonder of Elvis

Elvis Presley was a wonder in so many ways.

Youthful cutting-edge song writer and musician, he combined mountain folk music with country, blues, and gospel, with substantive themes and meaningful words, creating his own powerful sound with bi-racial bands that captivated people around the world. Come to think of it, in some ways like Ray Charles, a similar creative genius who also went on to make his own unique blues and jazz sound (also drawing upon sacred music) during the same time.

Both men created, captured, and represented certain turning points in American culture in their music.

But Elvis was more than a musician of meaningful songs. He also wrote, directed, and starred in dozens of movies, for which he wrote or performed some or all of the sound tracks. Like his music, Elvis movies are about simple life themes, like love, relationships, community, commitment, family, patriotism, public service, and God. Gosh his movies are corny, with clunky acting, but they carry important and positive messages Americans could sure use a dose of today.

In the 1950s, when Elvis was debuting, American women were married to the scarred men who had returned from the battlefields or the military training grounds of World War II. A lot of these men were tough, hardened either from the Great Depression or from their military experiences, or both. Romantic thoughts or gestures, tender touches, gentle words with their women were pretty scarce then.

Along came Elvis, singing to these women about loving and relationships they could only dream of, representing a model man they could only hope for. In his way, Elvis taught men of his generation how to respect and treat women right, mostly by singing about the kinds of feelings women had and how men could aspire to satisfy them.

Women screamed and swooned, and men wanted to be his friend.

Meanwhile, other entertainers were singing about banging in the back of a car, and most popular music hasn’t moved too far forward since. OK, it is true that later on Elvis developed that hip thrust, but he let it stand on its own without any words to back it up.

He was a good soldier, literally, volunteering for the US Army at a time when most of the people being drafted to serve in combat were less privileged young men without access to lawyers or school deferments. His military service was mostly symbolic, but inspiring. Asked by a reporter in 1971 what he thought about the anti-war protestors, he responded that he was just an entertainer and would rather keep his opinions to himself.

In private Elvis was no Lothario. Reportedly chaste and deeply religious, his child was born exactly nine months to the day after his marriage to Priscilla. No fooling around or cutting corners.

After developing his own sequined and bejeweled stage look, Elvis wore a freakin cape, and yet still commanded the adoration or respect of everyone around him, be it president of the United States or hard bitten businessmen. He was authentic, real. A humble, simple country boy. With a big shiny gold belt under his coat!

He was relatable, because he was real.

“Before Elvis there was nothing,” said John Lennon of the Beatles.

“When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I was transported,” said crusty Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, no pushover or soppy romantic.

Elvis’ impact on the development of music was unequaled.

Embodying so many unique, separate, divergent, and ultimately convergent strands of American identity, Elvis was a wonder no matter how you analyze him. He represented the best of America, the best of its values.

Elvis is still be the King of Rock and Roll, four decades after prematurely reaching the Promised Land. His generous spirit lives on, albeit appreciated by fewer and fewer. No one since has attained his heights or impact on popular culture.

America could use a pop culture figure like Elvis today. Someone to bridge the gaps between us, to help inspire and unify us, to sing to us about our best qualities, about love and gentleness.

We need and miss you, Elvis.

Current American Parallels with the Fall of Ancient Rome

In the recent past I have been in touch with some old high school friends.

We were quite close way back then. All remain good people, and we have maintained irregular but meaningful contact for the past 35 years. So any communication between us now is like picking right up where we last left off way back then.

“When are you and your militia friends going to storm DC?” semi-teasingly asks one, a professional resident of Washington, DC.

Immediately I’m thinking “Trump winning pretty much was the storming of DC, in a way.”

But I don’t say it, as the cascade of shallow whining about the election results sure to follow has become regular and boorish among Trump detractors.

“Josh, I was no Hill-Dog lover [Hillary Clinton], and I liked Kasich [presidential candidate], but do you really like Trump?” asks another, this one a successful self-made businessman, his face unhappily wrinkling over Trump Anything.

Given the constant opposition to the Trump presidency from both establishment parties (Republicans and Democrats, or the ‘UniParty’ as some call both parties together), as well as from taxpayer-funded entitlement recipients, some small and many big business folk alike, and especially the media-academia Big Government complex, now seems a good time to remind everyone who has something to lose of the history that brought America up here and could drag us back down.

First, like America, ancient superpower Rome was also “too big to fail,” both in the minds of Romans and their many enemies. They had too much money, too much military power, and the Roman people were living too fantastically a high standard of life to envision it actually dissolving.

In that way, America is no different than Rome, or any other major civilization that has come and gone before us: We perceive we are too wealthy and powerful to fall, and our personal lives are so fantastically comfortable and convenient that we cannot imagine all of it coming undone. It’s just too good. How could it possibly go away?

But fail and fall, Rome did. First sacked in 410 CE by its own mercenaries, and then for good in 454 CE by its mercenaries allied with their ethnic tribes. Inside jobs, both.

Second, like Rome, America is an island anomaly in a sea of big, all-powerful governments, dictatorships, really, domineering little citizens. While by today’s standards ancient Rome may not have been a free society, by the measure of its time it provided a lot of liberty and opportunity to individual citizens, much more than anywhere else.

Rome also had a semblance of the rule of law. Most nation-states back then were simply feudal aggregations of people with swords at the top and field-cropping, over-taxed serfs at the bottom. No rule of law.

Today, Planet Earth still has mostly tyrants and dictators, with a cruel grip on their respective  populace. So, like America now, Rome then had some extra work to do to hold itself together. Government power had to be diffused among senators, army officers, and business people. Standards and expectations were higher among a wider group of people. Government power, societal stability, quality of life did not depend upon the one monarch alone.

Predicting the end of America is almost as silly as predicting “climate change” -caused sea levels catastrophically rising, and super-powerful storms catastrophically leveling human civilization.

Though there is evidence of climate and weather affects on past human civilizations, it is a historical fact that human civilizations come and go of their own accord, usually due to simple power lust and ego. Sometimes environmental destruction rendered the land unfit for habitation. So on that alone we know that some day America will change. And it will not be a change good for the majority of its citizens.

America is nowhere near where Rome was when it fell, in terms of military preparedness. But in other ways we are past where Rome was, in terms of our unsustainable debt, ironically held by some of our worst enemies. The Chinese have become a kind of mercenary banker force, also supplying us with the electronics we use to run our daily lives as well as much of our military. That they are spying on us through their electronics is already proven.

Plenty of people inside and out would like to run America themselves, without the annoying, dirty citizenry in the way.

And yet so many Americans continue to party on, oblivious, as if we are invincible, invulnerable.

Go ahead and tease me, friends. Your ribbing is funny. But you should also be reflecting on the implications of ANTIFA, BLM, OWS etc mobs-cum-militia already rampaging across American streets, including DC and the US Capitol. Those stormings are already under way, under cover of national media and academia. They are real, and neither I nor any militia I know of have anything to do with them.

Go ahead and casually write off people like me, ‘kooks’ who love America in a simple way, a traditional way. We love all Americans, in all their ingenuity and passion for liberty and opportunity, and we have therefore come to despise the power-grab being waged against the citizenry by Big Government latté sippers. In both parties.

Go ahead and smugly dismiss us, mock us, cheerily toast our foolishness.

Just remember in the back of your mind, it is you we are trying to save. God knows, you can’t get it done.

NFL – “No F@#*n Loss”

As part of the entertainment industry’s decades-old war on American culture, ESPN and now the NFL have joined the politically correct pile-on.

Hollywood has led the way, surely, with its movies’ power of suggestion.

That Hollywood increasingly excretes unvarnished political activism in the guise of children’s movies as well as rated R adult movies is a thing of pride to that city; no one there even denies it. Hollywood is really just a communication propaganda arm of one political party.

But you cannot discount the increasing effects of ESPN reporters who now openly write that President Trump and his supporters are “white supremacists,” among many other examples of overt daily political activism by ESPN staff.

When I write “effects,” I mean the boomerang effect, which is where the intended results of one’s actions negatively rebound and injure the person who started it. These are ironic consequences, the best, most well-earned.

Perhaps the pinnacle of this boomeranging political activism is the anti-America statements by NFL players. Taking a knee and not standing during the national anthem wasn’t enough. Now some NFL players are making political videos that are shown at the game opening, or at half-time.

Well, removing the ESPN application from my iPhone was easy. There, ESPN, I am done with you. You are out of my life. See ya!

Over the past few years, ignoring the latest crop of poorly acted, poorly scripted, CGI-heavy Hollywood movies was a little more difficult, because Saturday night out at the movies with ice cream afterwards is a regular family thing. Even a lame movie would nonetheless entertain us and provide food for discussion later on. Like, was the movie’s symbolism consistent with its message? Did the message flow, or did acting anomalies and hiccups sidetrack the message? Was the message worthy, or was it muddled, or even negative?

These kinds of conversations with our kids were always stimulating, because as parents we enjoy watching our children grow. Nonetheless, unless a movie is exceptional in every way, we now decline to spend our money on a product from Hollywood, because that city is constantly at war with our values.

Now we have the National Football League, the NFL, getting all poseur-like. The NFL, too, is starting to see a substantial decline in business income. Why?

Illiterate men of the NFL, who have earned tens of millions of dollars in a few brief years’ time simply for running up and down a field, are out complaining about their station in life. You cannot make this stuff up. We indeed have phenomenally successful young men from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose wealth is largely accumulated from admirers of a different skin color, now claiming discrimination. And therefore, they take a knee during the American anthem.

In short, they tell their audiences and fans to go to Hell.

I don’t deny these guys have a right to stage their silly protests. But I have no duty to watch them, or to listen to their nonsense. And I have the right to stop watching their football games altogether, which is what I have now done.

This past January I called the NFL headquarters in Manhattan. Sharing my opinion of the league’s unwillingness to bring the football games back to being just about the games was the goal of the call. But, try as I might, finding a live human being was impossible. The phone menu just kept rotating through, taking me back to the beginning each time.

So I just started punching random numbers in to the phone.

Next thing I know, I was into the voice mail of a young NFL staffer, whose name I do not recall. But you know I took that opportunity to leave a detailed message on his voice mail.

My message to him was simple: Since I was eleven years old, I have looked forward to new NFL seasons. I always enjoyed watching NFL games.  But that enjoyment has diminished lately because of all the fake moaning, fake victimhood, fake whining by these anti-America grandstanders on the football teams. And so I kindly asked the league to give players a simple choice: Dear employees, play, or leave, but no more political crap on someone else’s dime.

Unsurprisingly, I did not get a call back from anyone at the NFL. The organization seems to take people like me for granted. At their own peril.

Well, I did not watch one single NFL game last year, and I will not watch one single NFL game this year, either. And I will keep spending my time on other activities until the NFL gets its players to commit to just playing the game, and to stop insulting good people who have not had a racist thought in their lives. Or perhaps the time I free up that I used to spend watching NFL games on TV will become better spent, irrespective of the political landscape.

Yes, I know, it is common now for people to assert that disagreeing with them on policy issues automatically means you or I are “racist.” The contrary facts do not matter to them. As a result, nothing has done more damage to the battle to end discrimination and racism than this constant crying wolf by crybullies and rich crybabies.  I am a very good person, I am not a racist, and I am tired of being told I am a bad person because I do not share some silly ideology.

Guys, just play ball. OK?

I have now arrived at a place where the NFL has taken on a new meaning: No F@&#’n Loss to me. I don’t miss it.


9-11, still happening in slow motion

“Nine Eleven” evokes images of smoky towers in lower Manhattan, and still photos of planes rocketing toward the towers, and people throwing themselves from the windows to escape the flames, heat, and toxic black smoke.

Finally, the twin towers fell, or rather collapsed, not long after the Muslim hijackers from Saudi Arabia had sacrificed themselves and the passengers on the planes.

Their goal was to attack America, as did their fellow hijackers on other planes that day. Flight 93 went down here in Pennsylvania, and it was my role to try to purchase or protect with conservation easements that landscape around the crash site. Working with staff from the National Park Service was mostly fun, sometimes frustrating, but in the end, the site was secured and the area set aside as a memorial.

Other memorials have been established at the Pentagon and in Manhattan.

But what is a memorial worth if the lesson it memorializes is lost?

After 9-11, our mainstream media did everything it could to cast Muslims as the actual victims of 9-11, not the perpetrators. Certainly not all Muslims can be painted with that hijacker’s brush that day, but it is a fact that throughout the Muslim world the day’s fiery images were greeted with shouts of joy and celebration. Including here in America.

Jihad groups like CAIR quickly went on offense, playing to defensive notions. CAIR and other groups played upon big-hearted Americans’ sense of fairness and justice. And so they demanded that we not only forget that 9-11 was by and for Muslims, but that we actually embrace Islam so that we could come to understand that it is actually a great belief system. Anti-Christian groups like CAIR actually used 9-11 to achieve greater inroads against Christians in America and against Christianity globally.

So far their approach has kind of worked. For example, the mainstream media refuses to report how the Muslim Students Association at a major university is actually holding a big celebratory bake sale today. You have to go one or two layers down into media sources to find this infuriating fact. Another example is that key Trump administration appointees are still cozying up with CAIR and other jihadist groups, in the hopes of makey-nicey public appearances translating into a protection scam on the ground, like the mafia used to do.

“Nice country you got here. Shame it’s so…Islamophobic. We’d hate for some Muslims to take all this Islamophobia stuff the wrong way and start cutting off American heads here…” goes the CAIR sales pitch. And so the State Department and Homeland Security Department are continuing the failed Obama policies, which allowed civilizational jihad to continue.

A new report shows that the government of Saudi Arabia funded a dry-run of the 9-11 events, helping its jihadists perfect their hijacking methods. Why we have not occupied Saudi Arabia and confiscated their oil reserves as punishment and reparations for the damage they caused America is a mystery. Any other self-respecting nation would do that. Like it or not, Russia does that kind of response. And it works.

So here we are, 16 years after 9-11, and the net result is that we are still under attack, just as we were that day. Except this attack is slower, quieter, and playing on our silly notions of fairness and justice, which are being bent and used back against us.

To millions of Americans, the 9-11 memorials are a huge red flag. They are a “WAKE THE HELL UP, AMERICA, YOU ARE UNDER ATTACK” sign, neon on a dark night. As any national memorial should be.

But do Americans have elected leaders who understand what it takes to remember 9-11 in a meaningful way, learn the lesson from that day, and apply that lesson to our laws and policies; that is the question.

Until that question is affirmatively answered in a way that protects and supports America, the answer is that 9-11 continues in slow motion.


DACA, Shmaka

“Trump’s decision about DACA makes me feel so sad,” types a dear friend on her FakeBook page.

“It’s not who we are [to turn away or deport illegal minors],” responds another emotional thinker.

DACA was an illegal, unconstitutional executive “action” taken by Obama, circumventing a congress that wouldn’t enable or stamp with approval this and many other similar monarchical decisions by His Highness. Dovetailed with DACA was an illegal freeze by the then executive branch in enforcing actual immigration law.

So Trump issues an executive order to eliminate a prior executive order, DACA. This is the prerogative of the president.

Heaps of emotion cannot change the law on the books. Feeling oh, so so sad can’t change the way the executive branch functions.

Saying DACA is for “the kids” doesn’t work, either. Because it wasn’t ever about kids. You for kids? But for abortion on demand any time any where? How’s that “for the kids”?

Gotta be consistent, folks, because your credibility is melting away with these double standards.

Fact is, DACA is about getting more voters for one political party, and making sure there’s always a new pool of unhappy underclass present to complain about America. One political party needs that. They thrive on it.

So go on and do your job, president Trump. Whenever you hear “DACA,” think “Shmaka” or another naughty rhyming word. That’s what it is– it’s crap.

Hurricane Harvey: Land Use, Not Climate Change

If there has been one big lesson from the sad devastation in the Texas Gulf, it is that poorly planned and poorly implemented land use more than anything is responsible for the catastrophic results.

“Climate change” may be a political science exercise more than a science exercise, but there is no debate about the actual facts on the ground in the Texas Gulf communities like Houston: Residential developments built downstream from watersheds are in the path of a watery bullet or bulldozer. And to think that undisturbed, those watersheds perform highly valued ecosystem services, for free, that no amount of channelizing, dyking, levies etc can come close to reproducing.

For two hundred years America has described any kind of residential and commercial development anywhere as “economic development,” and therefore desirable. And yet, here we have a classic example that some places should not have development. Unless the buildings there can withstand serious flooding. Even then the costs far outweigh the benefits.

I feel terrible for the flooding victims in Houston. Our own home in Harrisburg was built in 1939, in the flood zone along the Susquehanna River. It is a foolish place to build a house, and in 2011 our home had nearly six feet of water in the basement. It is a traumatic, disruptive experience.

To the extent they can help, state and the national governments should try to figure out how to buy out development rights in areas subject to floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters. That is a concrete response to a demonstrated problem. This would be the actual function of government, versus a lot of the silly peripheral “social” functions slowly accreted by government over the past decades.

And this is one of my objections to alleged human-caused “climate change.” It reduces our focus on actual, tangible environmental issues like land use, which we can actually fix.