The Daily Dose – July 8, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

TO BOLDLY GO…WHERE WE’VE ALREADY GONE BEFORE: Vice President Mike Pence – whose motorcade we witnessed then reviewed in this space a couple of weeks ago – visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week and talked about America’s space program.

Usually when a vice president is dispatched to places like this a major policy announcement is forthcoming, but like everything that comes out of the Trump Administration, very little of substance was offered. Pence did say America would return to the moon and eventually put Americans on Mars, and he did announce the National Space Council, which Pence chairs, would meet for the first time since the first Bush Administration later this summer.

Perhaps Pence didn’t know, or chose not to mention, that America has a program in place to return to the moon and go to Mars. Project Orion was announced in 2011.

How The Mighty Have Fallen: America, the only nation to put men on the moon, cannot put anybody into space anymore and in six (6) years Project Orion has had one (1) unmanned spaceflight so far and a manned flight is not expected until 2023 and even that might be a stretch.

Dry, Technical Matter: Recall that in the 1960’s America – spurred on by President Kennedy’s demand that we put a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth before that decade was out – started from scratch and met that goal with a few months to spare.

Please Pass The Dry, Technical Matter: To be exact, 2,983 days elapsed from the time Kennedy said let’s go to the moon to the time Apollo 11 returned safely home. Now we need 14 years, minimum, to get someone into space again and you don’t have to be Neil Armstrong to figure it will be at least 2035 before we put anyone on Mars.


Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: We fully support a manned mission to Mars, it’s a shame we haven’t done so already and it is a sign of how far this once-great nation has fallen that it is taking us so long to do it now.

Regular reader(s) of this crap know we are unabashed fans of the space program. We’re on record as saying the Apollo 11 mission which first put man on the moon was our species’ finest hour and we also believe that had we wanted to we could have used the momentum provided by the entire Apollo program to have had men on Mars in the 1980’s.

America took a flier on that, though, and the loss is ours. We missed out on both the great national effort that going to Mars would have required, not to mention whatever technological advances that would have presented themselves. America had a responsibility to itself and the rest of the planet to go to Mars and we were, and continue to be, derelict in that responsibility.

GREAT MOMENTS IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Wall Street Journal debuts on this date in 1889. It had its origins in hand-delivered news bulletins delivered to traders at the New York Stock Exchange earlier in the decade and, later, a daily summary called Customer’s Afternoon Letters.

The Wall Street Journal cost two cents in 1889, about 51 cents in today’s money. With an average circulation of over 2.3 million, the Journal is the largest newspaper in the United States by circulation.

Let’s Go To Ted With Business News: The previous Saturday, July 6, 1889, what come to be known as the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 12 industrial stocks closed at 87.71, down from the last noted close of 91.38 on June 12.

FunFact: This past Friday the Dow, now comprised of 30 stocks, closed at 21,414.34, up 94.30.

Oh Yeah: The period that appears at the end of the word ‘Journal’ in the masthead was there in that first edition, too.

As Long As We’re In The Area: The Dow Jones Industrial Average hits its lowest point of the Great Depression, 41.22, on this date in 1932. It would not reach its pre-Depression high of 380.33 on August 30, 1929 until November, 1954.

This Type Of Irony Is Difficult To Take: The United States sends humans into space for the final time on this date in 2011, when the space shuttle Atlantis, with a crew of four, blasts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis would return to Earth on July 21, marking the end of American manned space flight.

QuoteBook: …the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Hawaii consumes the most Spam per capita of any state in the Union.

Today’s Stumper: What is the only company whose stock has been a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average continuously since its inception? – Answer next time!


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The Thought for the Day – The 14th Dali Lama

Through their own practice, individuals gain their own merit. The relics and rituals are only tools. – The 14th Dali Lama

The 14th and current Dali Lama, born Lhamo Thondup in 1935 in Tibet, is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and of Tibet itself, a country that has been occupied by the Chinese since the middle of last century, and which the Dali Lama fled when he was a teenager. Since then he as lived in exile in India.

Far from being a relic himself, the Dali Lama has shown himself to be in-step with modern thinking, cognizant about how advances in human thought and experience can produce precepts that are consistent with ancient teachings. For years the Dali Lama had produced thoughts on our human experience that are deserving of consideration by any thoughtful person.

The need for a spiritual life is one of our most basic needs. Even the most casual reading into the history of religion shows us humans have always required a higher power, someone to help us understand an eclipse, to thank when times were good and to turn to when the crops did not provide the yield we expected or needed.

Through their own practice, individuals gain their own merit…

Our spiritual life must be a tool we use to get the most out of our life, the means to an end and not the end itself. We must not be afraid to take a path less traveled in order to provide ourselves with an experience that will produce a rich and lasting dividend. Which path to travel will differ from person to person, of course, because we all have different and assorted talents and interests. The only real knowledge comes from experience and if we are going to maximize our time on this planet we must completely utilize the talents we were born with.

The relics and rituals are only tools…

Sacred  texts, ancient liturgies and age-old relics are all elements we use to help in our journey.

However, all education is self-education. Whether we learn at the hands of a spiritual master, a prestigious university or we do it ourselves, we must take care to learn both what we must know and what we want to know, mindful that we will only get out of this life what we extract from the experiences we give ourselves.

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The Daily Dose – July 5, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

GREAT MOMENTS IN THE MINIMUM WAGE: Missouri Governor Eric Greitens this week announced he will neither sign nor veto a bill that would prevent cities and counties in his state from establishing their own minimum wage. This has the practical effect of allowing bill to become law, which means the Missouri state minimum wage of $7.70 an hour will be the standard statewide. Without his signature, the bill will take effect in late August.

Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: Good for him. It’s not the government’s job to dispense raises to private sector workers. Nor is it government’s responsibility to mandate what an employer pays an employee. Any wage, salary or benefit is a private contract between an employer and a worker, and a free market demands this contract be respected by the government. 

Quote That Sucker: Gov. Greitens also gets credit for being one of the few politicians willing to talk about the practical effects of a minimum wage:

…the minimum wage might read pretty on paper, but it doesn’t work in practice. Government imposes an arbitrary wage, and small businesses either have to cut people’s hours or let them go.

Very true. A complete analysis of the minimum wage is, thank God, beyond the scope of this column, but we believe any objective analysis shows this to be the case.

Dry, Technical Matter: What the government should be doing is providing an environment where businesses want to pay $15 an hour. A low tax, minimum regulation environment where people have money to spend and businesses have money to meet these needs. An environment where there is competition for labor, which will drive up wages. An environment where the American worker feels empowered and in control of their working life.

None of these elements exist right now. Us citizens are over taxed and businesses are over regulated. Businesses figured out how to continue to make a profit in the Great Recession, and workers are still taking whatever wages and benefits employers choose to dispense.

The Bottom Line: The American worker must assert themselves – both individually and collectively –  and not look to the government to get them a raise. Jobs that provide the money you want to make – both white collar or blue collar – do not grow on trees. We must put ourselves in a position to get them.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, commonly known as The Principia, by Isaac Newton is published by the Royal Society of London on this date in 1687. The Principia’s  influence on scientific thinking was and remains profound and, next to The Bottom Ten, is one of mankind’s most significant and influential works.

Great Moments In Token Women’s Minor League Baseball Appearances: Lizzie Arlington, also known as Lizzie Stroud, becomes the first woman to play in an official, regular season professional baseball game on this date in 1898.

Some sources, including some used regularly by the staff here at On This Date, say Arlington appeared for the Reading Coal Heavers of the Atlantic League, while others, including some used regularly by the staff here at On This Date, say Arlington appeared for Reading of the Eastern League.

Thank God For The Internet: Some research cleared the matter up, however. The Eastern League in 1898 did not have teams in Reading or Allentown, so it is plain Arlington pitched in the Atlantic League, which did have teams in those town in 1898.

The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Coal: All sources seem to agree, however, that Ms Arlington did pitch an inning for Reading, allowing two hits, a walk and no runs as Reading defeated the Allentown Peanuts 5-0.

This Will Surprise You: Arlington’s appearance was a publicity stunt! The Coal Heavers were not setting any records at the gate and Ed Barrow, president of the Atlantic League and later, among other things, originator of the New York Yankees dynasty, hired her to draw a few more fans to the ballpark. 

Dry, Technical, Historical Matter: This would be Arlington’s only regular season appearance, thought it appears she would play in exhibition games the rest of the season.

Glorious Spam!: The canned, precooked meat Spam makes its debut on this date in 1937. Spam got a big boost during World War II when, because it was easier to deliver to the troops than fresh meat, it was used extensively to feed our soldiers. That infernal gelatin that gets all over your hands was also used by servicemen as lubricant for assorted weapons.

Fly In The Ointment: Few know for sure what Spam stands for. Spam’s producer, Hormel, refuses to say, adding that only a handful of former executives ever knew for certain.

FunFact: Spam is available in 44 countries, and Hormel reports over eight billion cans have sold over the years.

QuoteBook:  Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow. – Louis L’Amour, The Walking Drum

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress ultimately signed the Declaration of Independence.

Today’s Stumper: Which US state consumes the most Spam, per capita? – Answer next time. 

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The Daily Dose – July 4, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US: 88,026 days after America declared its independence from Britain, let’s take a look at how our Founding Fathers might regard the country the America they founded has turned into.

Leading Off: Let’s start with the media. Newspapers, pamphlets and town criers were important in America in 1776 – important enough that protecting them was put into the Bill of Rights a decade later – and the media is important today, though the Internet and TV have replaced pamphlets and town criers and newspapers, of course, are still hanging on mightily.

Extra, Extra Read All About It: And Washington, Franklin and Adams wouldn’t be particularly surprised at how partisan today’s media is. Newspapers throughout history have always had a partisan bias.

But they would be surprised at how today’s media is derelict in their responsibilities, having long ago decided that entertaining America was more important than informing and educating America. A splendid example of this is the phenomenon that is President Donald Trump.

We are of the opinion Trump never wanted to be president, that he got into the race in 2015 merely because he wanted to further utilize his only real talent: drawing attention to himself. A real media would have realized this, properly vetted Trump and would have had him out of the race within a few days, the same as it would’ve done to any childish billionaire that had declared for the GOP nomination.

Fly In The Ointment: Trump, however, meant clicks and ratings, so he was ushered right into the GOP primaries, the November ballot and then the White House. Trump was an embarrassment as a candidate and he has been and will continue to be an embarrassment as president.

War: It’s What’s For Dinner: On the surface, the Founding Fathers would not be particularly surprised that America spends an awful lot of time at war. The Founding Fathers, after all, spent no small amount of time fighting the Indians and, of course, had to defeat Britain in the Revolution.

But those wars were on our home turf. None of the wars we are fighting now are, and the Founding Fathers would be appalled at the amount of fighting we do in foreign lands, in countries that are not direct threats to us. They would be surprised, and discouraged, to see a chief executive unilaterally authorizing military action without the consent of the Congress.

Dry, Technical Matter: They would be surprised at other things, too, both good and bad. Told what they do, Benjamin Franklin would marvel at an airplane from the outside, climb aboard, go immediately to first class and order champagne before flirting with your wife or daughter or, as likely as not, both.

One Small Step: Thomas Jefferson would look dumbstruck at pictures taken on the surface of the moon and be glad the slavery he had been unwilling to do anything about is gone. All would fret over the excessive taxes and regulations our government imposes and would note that we certainly appear to be generally well fed as a country. They would not marvel over the differences between rich and poor because as generally wealthy, landowning white males, they were accustomed to this.    

Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: What I think our Founding Fathers would really be surprised at is how easily Americans now accept what their government chooses to spoon feed them, how we continue to tolerate a government that is a partisan, fractured and bickering mess.

The Bottom Line: They wouldn’t understand this because when they deemed British shackles intolerable they went and did something about it and they would be disappointed to see today’s Americans not only accepting substandard government, but refusing to do anything about it on Election Day.

“ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL”: The Second Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence on this date in 1776, declaring the United States an independent nation, free of Great Britain. Despite the fact Congress had actually declared America independent two days earlier, Americans have always celebrated Independence Day on the Fourth of July.

Please Pass The Dry, Technical Matter: On June 11, the Congress had appointed Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston to a committee to write a declaration of independence. Though the Committee of Five kept lousy records, it is plain everyone but Adams thought Adams should write the document, but fortunately for History Adams was able to convince everyone, including Jefferson, that Jefferson should write it.

Their work was presented to the Congress on June 28, with Jefferson dismayed at the amount of dissecting and rewrites his work was subjected to.

Close, But No Cigar: Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds comes within three outs of becoming the first major league pitcher to pitch two perfect games on this date in 1989. He settles for retiring the first 24 batters he faces when Philadelphia’s Dickie Thon leads off the ninth inning with a double. The Reds would still beat the Phillies 2-1.

The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Old Style Beer: In 1988 Browning had thrown a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the only perfect game thrown against the team that would win that year’s World Series.

Some Places Have Interns For This: While no ML pitcher has thrown two perfect games, Ron Hassey has caught two and Jim Wolfe has been the plate umpire for two.

Thought For The Day:  That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government… – The Declaration of Independence

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: General George Washington declined to accept a salary as commander of the Continental Army. He did, however, surprise Congress with how scrupulously he maintained his expense account, for which he was reimbursed.

Today’s Stumper: How many delegates to the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence? – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Dorothy Canfield Fisher

If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with two weeks vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days. -Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958) was an American educator and writer. Born in Lawrence, Kansas, she lived mainly in Vermont. She was well educated and spoke five languages and was an activist in both education and politics at a time when not very many women did any of those things.

We’ll be honest, this quote has always hit home. You are reading this because we give an appropriate amount of thought to what we want to get out of life, but Lord knows few are capable of attacking a vacation plan like us, especially if it’s a road trip. Destinations, routes, hotels, especially if we have some money and can afford a 5-star joint. And let’s not forget looking to see if there is a Waffle House or White Castle in the area.  

If we would only give…the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life…

If we have a detailed plan for two weeks off, why wouldn’t we have a plan for the other fifty weeks of the year? After all, the reason we come up with detailed plans for two weeks off is because we want to get the most out of that time. Why wouldn’t we want to maximize the rest of the year?

…the aimless procession of our busy days.

If we want to avoid an aimless procession of busy days we must have a plan for our lives. All of us come from different circumstances and we each were issued different talents and interests at birth, but each of has 24 hours in every day, the only commodity we are all issued in equal measure.

We must put those 24 hours to work for us. We must spend them developing and then maximizing the talents we were given because to do that is one of life’s great prizes, just like life’s great tragedy is to look back on wasted time and wasted talent.

And the hard part is not actually going out and maximizing our talents because Mother Nature has seen to it that what we are good we generally enjoy doing. No, the hard part is going out and doing it every day because the day’s 24 hours are relentless: they are there every day, waiting for us to either squander them or put them to work for us.

Ms Fisher makes one of the only points that matter: we can have a plan for our life or we can not have a plan for our life. We can give our lives the same attention we give our vacations, or we can choose not to.

Every day it’s our call.


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The Daily Dose – July 3, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

SORT OF HOT CONTINENTAL CONGRESS ACTION: The 3rd of July, sandwiched as it is between the 2nd of July – when the United Colonies actually declared their independence from Britain – and the 4th of July – when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress – tends to get lost in the shuffle. It is kind of like being the best football player at Duke University, nice, but Duke is a basketball school, so who cares?

Dry, Technical Matter: The Second Continental Congress was in session in Philadelphia on the 3rd, though. Seeking to tone it down a bit after the excitement of adopting the Lee Resolution the day before, and mindful of the labors to come, the Congress took it easy today.

FunFact: The Lee Resolution was also known as the Resolution for Independancy, which was a word back then but is not used too much nowadays. The resolution was named after Richard Henry Lee, a convention delegate from Virginia, who proposed it.

Leading Off: The Congress took care of routine matters first. They entertained letters from the colony of New Jersey and the commissioner of Indian affairs of the southern department.

Then, among other things, Congress then resolved to ask Pennsylvania to send some to help to New Jersey, then passed off the supplying and leading of these troops off on General Washington, who evidently didn’t have enough to do.

FunFact II: War with Great Britain had actually been going on for a year. 

Down To Business: Then, finding it “agreeable to the order of the day” the Congress morphed itself into a Committee of the Whole to “farther” consider what the Congressional journal always refers to as the Declaration.

The Congress had been farting around with Thomas Jefferson’s original version since it had been presented to them on June 28. After some discussion, the journal doesn’t say how much, delegate Benjamin Harrison V announced the committee really would prefer to put the matter off until tomorrow, and Congress adjourned for the day.

Name Game: Benjamin Harrison is a familiar name in American history. Benjamin Harrison V was chairman of the Committee of the Whole at the Second Continental Congress that considered and made changes to the Declaration of Independence and in the early 1780’s was the 5th Governor of Virginia. Both his son William Henry and great-grandson Benjamin were presidents of the United States.

TEN-HUT: General George Washington takes command of the Continental Army on this date in 1775. The colonies had been at war with Great Britain since the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April, and Washington had been appointed by the Continental Congress on June 15.

More Great Moments In American Warfare!: The Battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) in the American Civil War concludes on this date in 1863, with the Union repelling one last Confederate attack, known as Pickett’s Charge.

Though it was a victory for the Union, the battle was devastating on both sides. The Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E Lee was barely able to retreat, and the Union army, under General George Meade, was unable to pursue them.

Going…Going…Gone…And Gone: In one the major league record book’s most curious marks, pitcher Tony Cloninger becomes the first National League player to hit two grand slam home runs in one game on this date in 1966. He homered in the first and the fourth innings, and added an RBI single in the eighth, giving three hits and nine RBI’s for the day.

Oh Yeah: The Braves defeated the San Francisco Giants 17-3.

The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Old Style Beer: Cloninger wasn’t too bad a hitter actually. He would finish 1966 with five home runs and would finish with eleven home runs over his twelve big league seasons. Cloninger was the fifth major leaguer to hit two grand slams in one game and it has now been done 13 times, the last by Washington’s Josh Willingham in 2009. Cloninger remains the only pitcher to turn the trick.

Whoops, Our Bad: The USS Vincennes shoots down Iran Air Flight 655 on this date in 1988. The plane was over Iranian airspace and the Vincennes was in Iranian waters, also carrying on some small arms fire with Iranian warships.

As usual in incidents like this there is enough blame to go around. Had the Vincennes Commanding Officer William Rodgers not been told, incorrectly, of course, the plane was an attacking Iranian warplane he probably wouldn’t have fired. Had the crew of Flight 655 been monitoring civilian radio frequencies like it should have been, they would have heard the Vincennes trying to make contact with it. Had my parents never met you would be playing with your fidget spinner instead of reading this.

Dry, Technical Matter: While the US never admitted fault or apologized for the incident, it did pay Iran $131.8 million to settle a suit Iran brought in the International Court of Justice.

Thought For The Day:  In the city, people paid to hear other people sing and watch other people feel. Passion has become a spectator sport supported by emotional cripples. Love and suffering were knacks possessed by the talented paid to display their gifts. – Lawrence Sanders, The Third Deadly Sin

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Andrew Jackson was the first US president to suffer an assassination attempt. On January 30, 1835, a house painter named Richard Sanders twice attempted to shoot Jackson, but his pistols misfired both times. Jackson then proceeded to beat Sanders with his cane.

Today’s Stumper: What was General George Washington’s salary as commander of the Continental Army? – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Confucius

When wanted, go. When set aside, then hide. Confucius

Confucius was a Chinese educator and philosopher who flourished 500 years before Christ, as we Westerners reckon the calendar. He grew up in northeast China and by some accounts was an enthusiastic learner as a child. After a long and useful life, Confucius died near where he was born in his early 70’s, though his exact age at death isn’t known.  His maxims and aphorisms continue to have influence today.

Today’s Thought speaks a lot about judgment, about when to step in make something happen and when to let matters run their own course. It is, of course, human nature to want to have influence, but sometimes human nature can get us into trouble, because it is not always in our best interest to assert ourselves.

A good example from everyday life comes when dealing with the young. There are times to step in and provide guidance and time to let experience provide lessons. For example, when your kid wants to go play in the street, it is wise to step in show the child you have something better in mind for him. On the other hand, when a child is climbing a tree, it is usually best to let the child climb the tree, even though he might fall off. Sometimes it is wise to impart wisdom – don’t play in the street – and sometimes it’s wise to let someone climb a tree and learn for themselves.

Similarly, it is good to go out and use your time and talents to make something good happen for yourself. The wise, however, realize there are times when assertion will not provide a dividend and it is time to stand back and let life run its course.

Knowing when our influence is in favor and when it is waning is wisdom that leads to a well-lived life.

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The Daily Dose – July 2, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

WHAT IN THEE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?: The GOP is in power and they are unable to govern! 

This is relatively funny, actually. A party in control of both the White House and the Congress should be able to pass whatever legislation it wants, from mandating color of socks to who ends up having health insurance and who does not.

Stop Us If You’ve Heard This Before: Of course, the health care legislation the GOP-controlled Congress is trying to pass is spiteful and mean. The act it is supposed to replace, the Affordable Care Act, had no business being passed in a nation conceived in liberty in the first place.

Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: We let the free market provide food, clothing and fidget spinners and we should also let it provide medical care.  Doctors and health insurers should have the same access to the free market your plumber, banker or butcher has.   

Back On Message: The GOP can’t get anything done, though. Their president, unable to think beyond his next Twitter post, has been unable to provide the big picture leadership and inspiration required of a chief executive.

This really shouldn’t be too much of a problem, however, because a strong Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader should be able to take of routine matters like this as a matter of course. But they can’t. This lead current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to lament this weekend:

It’s not easy making America great, is it?

Oh Jesus H: Yes, it is, Senator. Good government isn’t hard: Low taxes and free markets. Stop fighting wars in countries that represent no threat to us. Stop convicting the innocent. A great America is there for the taking. But the American electorate isn’t demanding greatness at the ballot box. We have settled for a second-rate nation. 

The Bottom Line: We had pretty low expectations for the Trump Administration. Trump was a misfit as a private citizen and an embarrassment as a candidate so it should not be a surprise he has turned out to be both as president. But even our originally low expectations are being exceeded and deep down even the most ardent Trump supporters have to be scratching their heads and wondering exactly what is going on.

USA! USA! The United States of America is formed on this date in 1776, when the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, adopts the Lee Resolution, which declared the 13 colonies independent of Great Britain.

And You Wonder Why You Don’t Get Invited To More Parties: After “Sundry letters were laid before Congress, and read” the Congress “…resumed the consideration of [the Lee Resolution] and the same being read, was agreed to as follows”:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved

Dry, Technical Matter: Though America celebrates its independence on the July 4th, the day Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, more than one Founding Father at the time thought July 2 was the day that would live down the ages.

Great Moments In Presidential Assassination: James Garfield becomes the second US president to be shot while in office, being shot twice from behind by Charles Guiteau at Washington, DC train station on this date in 1881. Garfield would die on September, 19 and his 200 day presidency is the second shortest in American history. 

Fly In The Ointment: The wounds themselves did not cause Garfield’s death, infection did, and it is believed by some that had Garfield would have recovered with sterile medical care.

Oh Yeah: Justice was swift in America back then. After Garfield’s death Guiteau was charged with murder, convicted in January, 1882  and was hanged the following June.

Never Again…At Least Until The Next One: American officially ends its involvement in World War I on this date in 1921 when President Warren Harding signs the Knox-Porter Resolution. The resolution was necessary because the United States Senate had rejected Treaty of Versailles, which had officially ended the war amongst the other nations involved.

Watch Out K-Mart…And Sears…And Everyone Else: After operating Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville, Sam Walton opens the first Walmart – then known as Walmart Discount City – in Rogers, Arkansas, on this date in 1962. Walton would have 24 Walmarts in Arkansas by 1967  and in 1968 would open its first stores outside the state and today Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, the world’s largest company by revenue and the world’s largest private employer.

Here, Take That: Two Chileans with the nerve to protest dictator Augusto Pinochet are burned alive in Santiago, Chile on this date in 1986.

Rodrigo Rojas DeNegri and Carmen Gloria Quintana were part of a group that had gathered, prepared with, among other things, Molotov cocktails and gasoline. Their group encountered a military patrol, with everyone but DeNegri and Quintana escaping. Both were set on fire then wrapped in blankets and shipped off my the military patrol to a ditch out of town, where they were tossed out and left to die. They were found by some farm workers and taken to a hospital.

DeNegri died four days later, but Quintana is still alive. She emigrated to Canada in 2010.

Thought For The Day:  The heroes see themselves simply as chaps doing the best they can in a special situation. Robertson Davies, The Lyre of Orpheus

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: 1979 was the year the most Chevrolet Corvettes were produced (53,807).

Today’s Stumper: Who was the first US president to suffer an assassination attempt? – Answer next time!

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Staying Active Until The Next Election

Even though it is not campaign season, from time to time I will get asked by a citizen who is not pleased with our government what they can do during these partisan, fractured and bickering times.

Because it isn’t easy right now. Until at least the 2020 election, America will be led by a president whose only real talent is drawing attention to himself, who is as big a fiasco as president as he was as a candidate and a private citizen.

The 2018 midterm elections will offer some zero help, because regardless of what happens, nothing of substance will get done. If the GOP retains control of Congress it will be more of the same. If the GOP retains only one house, it will be even worse. If the Democrats retake both houses of Congress they will find some reason to impeach Trump, especially if any of the investigations into the Trump Administration show so much as a parking ticket.

No matter what happens, America will be spending the remainder of this presidential term marking time. We will have done nothing to address our biggest problems of perpetual war and crushing debt and we will be four years closer to the end of the American Experiment, because our nation will collapse, probably before this half-century is out, if we do not make substantive changes to the way we are governed

What to do?

The worst thing we can do is nothing. At the very least every concerned citizen – you and me, we the people – regardless of affiliation, must stay informed. Pay attention to what our government is doing to us – not for us, to us – and not just on your favorite issue, either, because a single issue outlook isn’t going to do you, me or our country any good. Take a step back and take a big picture view and ask yourself if you like America’s long-term prospects. Do you think our country can stand non-stop war and mindless debt forever? If you give this question serious thought and conclude that yes, America can withstand non-stop war and a crushing national debt, well, I  am going to shake your hand for caring enough to think about this enough to come to a conclusion, even though I disagree with you.

More than anything, if you are not happy with America’s long-term prospects, be prepared to put your ballot where your mouth is the next time you vote. Voting for a Republican or a Democrat will change nothing. You know it, I know it and they know it, too. All and R or a D will do is keep spoon feeding us the status quo as long as we keep allowing it. The government we want is, as it always is, as close as the next election. All we need is the courage to go and get it on Election Day.


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The Thought for the Day – Moussa

Nobody said no. Moussa

Moussa is a friend of mine. He’s from Senegal and like a lot of his fellow Senegalese who moved here, Moussa works two full-time, physically demanding jobs, usually with a smile on his face. He is currently studying for his US citizenship exam and he may well know more about checks and balances and The Federalist Papers than many American citizens.

Today’s Thought, by the by, is one of the few you will read here that I was actually present at when uttered. Most of the quotes in our personal quotebook come from books.

Today Moussa and I found ourselves talking about checks and balances because Moussa was in the mood to review what we’ve discussed so he doesn’t forget and I reiterated that our system of checks and balances prevents anyone from getting too much power, though, honestly, we’re no longer checking and balancing, were obstructing and impeding and nothing of substance is getting done in America. I didn’t tell Moussa this, however, because his English is still developing and it would have only confused him

Anyway, Moussa nodded and said, yes, it’s good to prevent one person from getting too much power and then he mentioned the word “dictator”, although his pronunciation of that word is still rather unique because of his accent. He noted that Africa has had a lot of dictators over the years and that African dictators always mean bad things for African people.

Nobody said no…

Moussa said these words with some assertion, as if people saying no could have kept the dictators away. Maybe, maybe not. But it got us thinking about what we here in America could be saying no to.

Right now, collectively, we haven’t said no to perpetual war or mindless debt. In fact, we’ve been doing the opposite: collectively we’ve been saying yes to perpetual war and crushing debt because we keep reelecting the leaders have been providing these things. The chains of perpetual war and crushing debt are being applied and if we don’t shake them off pretty soon America will be tossed aside the scrap heap of history before this half-century is out.

When it happens, we will only have ourselves to blame because America didn’t say no.

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