Good Friday

A View From The Middle (Class):

May your Easter holiday be a blessed one.

Originally posted on I Shutter at the Thought!:

For those observing the Easter holiday, please remember to look beyond the Crucifixion to what it reveals about God. Happy holiday; God is love.

“The Cross exposes the diametrically opposed ruling principles of God and Satan. The other-focused, self-sacrificial love of the Servant God shines in stark contrast to the prideful and ambitious manipulator of the survival-of-the-fittest principle. The God who washes dirty feet is willing to die for his creatures. How different from the creature Satan, who did not shrink from asking his creator to worship him (Matthew 4:9)! The gentle persuasion by the God who values our freedom stands in strong opposition to the methods of force, fear and coercion that Satan uses. These opposing principles were clearly revealed at the Tree of Knowledge and at the Cross. In the end, our affiliation with the respective sides of the conflict is revealed by the methods we use, as…

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About this new American ‘hero,’ Cliven Bundy

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy became an American “hero” on Saturday.

Cliven Bundy

Cliven Bundy

It appears we are extremely desperate for “heroes” these days.

Bundy has been running cattle on government-owned land — as in, owned by the government since the Mexican Cession in 1848, never owned by the Bundy family itself — and in 1993 he decided he didn’t want to pay fees for grazing rights to that land.  Again, his family may have been grazing on that land since the late 1800′s, but the family itself has never owned the land in question.  As with so many ranchers who play by the rules, you need to pay a fee to use that land in order for that land to be managed.  It’s things like that that, if properly managed, keeps the land from being overgrazed and becoming useless.

It’s methods like paying for grazing rights that keep anyone and everyone from running as damn well many cattle over the land as they damn well please.  Think of it like a traffic light.  Without things like a traffic light, anyone and everyone controlling a motorized vehicle could go whenever and wherever they damn well please, and to hell with anyone else.

Should we just do away with any and all regulation and let everything — including our natural resources — go down the crapper?  Apparently, Bundy and his supporters believe so.  Bundy’s been fighting over paying these grazing fees that so many other ranchers pay for over the past 20-plus years — effectively giving Bundy an unfair advantage over ranchers who play by the rules trying to make the same living Bundy’s family has for so many years.  In 1998, Bundy was legally prohibited from grazing his cattle on the land near Bunkerville, Nevada.  He received fair warning that if he didn’t cough up the money he owed for trespassing, his cattle would be confiscated and auctioned off.

Instead of playing by the rules, Bundy thumbed his nose at them and decided to run even more cattle on the land instead — giving himself even more of an unfair advantage over the ranchers who do play by the rules, effectively ripping off American taxpayers in the process.  The legal fight continued as the years went on, Bundy faced around a million dollars in unpaid fees, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finally stepped in and started backing up its words with actions.  They started confiscating Bundy’s cattle.

Images from the Cliven Bundy standoff.

Images from the Cliven Bundy standoff.

Bundy went whining to Fox News, Bundy went whining to Alex Jones, Bundy went whining to Sean Hannity, and before you knew what was happening, militias from all over started popping up in rural Nevada, treating Bundy’s “stand” like it was some modern-day Boston tea party.  Right-wingers salivated over putting a stop to what they saw as a standoff akin to what was seen in Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, which claimed lives.

All over one rancher who didn’t want to play by the rules and wanted his cattle to eat as much as they could wherever they could, all so he could get more dollars in his bank account.

The “standoff” ended Saturday when the BLM backed away.  The situation was getting ugly.  And America now has another right-wing “hero.”

Man, we are sadly desperate for heroes these days.

I’ve been watching this with great interest since word has been popping up about it over the past several days.  Part of my childhood was spent on a dairy farm/cattle ranch operated by my grandparents.  My grandfather knew what it took to graze cattle the right way:  You let them eat where there’s food, when the food source is eaten down you move them to a different area and let the area that was grazed be replenished.  It’s a natural cycle.  Overgrazing is an idiotic concept, but it happens among those who are foolish, irresponsible, and have little more than dollar signs floating in their heads.

The Bundy story also brought back memories of the days when I was managing editor for a small daily newspaper in southeast Idaho, in the heart of potato and cattle country.  I took on a big project myself which examined public vs. private property issues.  I spent a fair amount of time looking at the case of a farmer/rancher in the Aberdeen area who was running into problems with the state Department of Fish and Game telling him what he could and could not do on his property.

One example that comes to mind today is the memory of the property owner wanting to pull up an area of Russian Olive bushes on his land before they started taking over.  If you’ve never come across Russian Olives, they’re nasty, basically useless weeds that can be used for cover and protection by birds who eat the fruit, poop out the seeds and bring about more bushes filled with needle-sharp growth.  Fish and Game fought with the property owner to keep him from pulling up the bushes.

That was a case where a government agency — a state agency in that case — did infringe on the rights of a property owner to do what he felt was necessary within the bounds of his own land.  That was a case where a government agency was out of line.

bundy foxIn Bundy’s case, the issue of private vs. public lands should not be confused.  But in Bundy’s case, it’s been exploited by Bundy running to the extreme anti-government talking heads and whining about how tyrannical the actions against him have been, when the fact remains that Bundy is simply breaking the law, giving himself an unfair advantage because of it, forcing American taxpayers to foot his bill, and becoming a right-wing “hero” because of it.

Cliven Bundy and his anti-government supporters may feel like they’ve won this standoff.  What was lost out of it was common sense and balanced land management.  It’s a balance that — out here in the West — is very delicate.

Try making sense out of this story.  I dare you.

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Spending more than a day in our lives with the homeless

Maybe I’m amazed.

This is the first time in nearly two months that I’ve written an article for this blog.  Not that I’ve stopped caring about it, far from it.  It’s just that … paying work gets in the way.  Life itself gets in the way.

Life has a way of carrying on, no matter what our situations, as long as we keep pursuing it.  The key is to keep pursuing that life we’re given, no matter what.

I’ve been checking in to the blog recently and looking at the stats, and here’s what has me amazed:  Despite the fact that I haven’t written anything new in nearly two months, this blog is still getting about the same number of views on a daily basis that I used to see when I was putting up fresh, new articles every day.

A long line of homeless people line up behind the ICOR truck at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City in early March. (Photo by John G. Miller)

A long line of homeless people line up behind the ICOR truck at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City in early March. (Photo by John G. Miller)

Here’s the main thing viewers are going to when they come here:  A day in the life of a homeless person.  And if they’re not going to that one, they’re going to some other article I’ve written about personal time that I and members of my family have spent going out to help the homeless as part of the Wasatch Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Inner City Outreach (ICOR) ministry.

I’m hoping the reason that particular article is being viewed so many times is because of a deep, genuine sense of caring for those less fortunate.  After all, that’s part of our moral obligation.

It’s been a few weeks since ICOR volunteers went out for the last time this season to Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City.  The weather was getting warmer, but the needs were still great.  The line of the homeless was long, and it still included men, women, children, pets.  Everyone was helped in some way, no one was turned away.

The needs are still there.  And, regardless of what the naysayers will tell you about the impoverished side of America, the poor among us really don’t have it all that great.  I still stand there on the street along the west side of Pioneer Park and talk to the people getting help, and can only shake my head when I hear how many of them have a paying job and still can’t afford a decent place to live, so they find themselves living out of a vehicle or a homeless shelter.

Alicia Miller, Grant Miller (middle) and ICOR coordinator Steve Binder help those in need.  (Photo by John G. Miller)

Alicia Miller, Grant Miller (middle) and ICOR coordinator Steve Binder help those in need. (Photo by John G. Miller)

Anyone telling you the working poor in America have it pretty good compared to other places … well, have they ever tried walking a mile in those people’s shoes?  My son Grant wrote the heart of that article that’s been getting so many views here.  I think that assignment touched him in some way.  It’s done my heart good this season to see him getting so involved in the back of the ICOR truck, helping those in need on a face-to-face basis.

It also can’t be said that the homeless who don’t have jobs don’t want to earn a living, that they prefer to live off of handouts — at least not all of them.  This week, I was infuriated by a story from Scottsdale, Arizona, of a 35-year-old homeless mother of two children who could not find anyone to care for her toddlers while she went to a job interview to try and improve their lives, so she was left with no choice but to leave the children in her vehicle with the windows cracked open while she sat in the interview.  Authorities came to take her children, and the mother was charged with two felony counts of child abuse.  She not only lost out on the chance for a job to improve her family’s life, she stands to lose her children as well.

I — along with many others who’ve read the story — don’t find myself angered by the mother’s choice to leave her children in the car unattended as much as I do with how glaringly this story shows that we are apparently becoming a nation that seems to care less and less about those less fortunate, our desire to lend a hand seems to be diminishing, even toward those who are still trying to pull themselves up only to find themselves shoved back down.

This is becoming less and less of a Christian nation.  More and more people are losing their homes, whether they’re working or not.  You have to see it to feel it.  You have to look into the eyes of the people to feel the impact.  You have to talk to these people to understand what it is to be without a home.

Try spending a day in your life among the homeless, just like Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) has done and spoke about in front of the House of Representatives.

Until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, no one has room to talk about how good America’s poor have it.

Try spending more than one day among the homeless.  I challenge you.

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Super Bowl XLVIII: Offense and defense and ads, OH MY!!! (A live blog post)

I’m not anti-social.  Maybe a bit on the quiet side at times in a crowd, but not anti-social.  We were invited to a Super Bowl party today with lots of people and small children running around, but that’s not how I prefer to watch a Super Bowl.

For me, the Super Bowl isn’t a time for a pro football fanatic to get together with more casual fans chattering away about so many other things other than the game itself, or having to press my ear closer to a TV screen to hear an explanation of a crucial call during the game because the youngsters are running around playing games.

Don’t get me wrong — I love socializing, I love children.  But this is the Super Bowl.  My biggest enjoyment comes in immersing myself in the game, either with my own little family or with someone who’s as focused on the game as I am, if not more so.

Phyllis and Andy Kotowski with their son Bill in football gear from 1999.  (Photo courtesy Bill Kotowski via Facebook)

Phyllis and Andy Kotowski with their son Bill in football gear from 1999 in Pocatello, Idaho. (Photo courtesy Bill Kotowski via Facebook)

This Super Bowl in particular, my memories take me back to 25 years ago, to the day when San Francisco faced Cincinnati in Super Bowl XXIII, sitting in the living room of my friends Andy and Phyllis Kotowski in Blackfoot, Idaho, along with their four small children.  Andy played semi-pro ball in California himself.  We coached football together from Little League through junior high school ages.  He was into every play, and his wife knew a lot about the game herself so she contributed to the football-rich atmosphere that made watching the game so enjoyable.  Even the children were into it.

I remember that game 25 years ago very well to this day.  I remember the collective groan when Cincinnati nose tackle Tim Krumrie broke his leg, and the sight of that lower leg flopping around being shown on the giant screens at Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium.  I remember the classic come-from-behind finish with Joe Montana throwing a last-minute touchdown pass to John Taylor in the back of the end zone.  Classic finish.

My friend Andy and his wife Phyllis were the ones who helped introduce me to my lovely wife Amy.  Andy was best man at my wedding.  He died all too young.  The last time I saw Phyllis and the children was early last decade after I’d found out that Andy had passed away.  We stayed in touch through email for a while after that, but then lost touch again for too many years.  I finally caught up with their children on Facebook a couple of weeks ago after the NFC Championship game, sadly to find out that Phyllis, that sweet football fanatic herself, died last August, all too soon.

I’m watching this Super Bowl with Andy and Phyllis and their children in mind.  I can still hear Andy growling and shouting over big plays, Phyllis cheering.  I’m reliving those memories with my own family around me, reminded of Andy and Phyllis when I look at my wife’s lovely face as she watches for every Budweiser ad that involves the Clydesdales.  If it weren’t for Andy and Phyllis, my happiness wouldn’t be complete.

Tune in for my updates on the game and the commercial starting around kickoff time, and you can hit refresh on your browser to see the latest thoughts on the game action and the ads to see the latest thoughts.  All times MST.

4:20 p.m. – Renee Fleming singing the National Anthem.  Yeah, that’s the way it ought to be sung!

4:28 p.m. – The coin flip and Joe Namath gets a little ahead of himself.  Denver’s ball first.  The tone will be set early.

My Italian burritos.

My Italian burritos.

4:32 p.m. – Kickoff … time to taste my entree, Italian burritos.

4:34 p.m. – Seattle safety on a bonehead play to start it all off.  Are you kidding me?

4:46 p.m. – It’s 5-0 Seattle on a field goal after a challenge I thought would go the Seahawks’ way.  Denver’s lucky it didn’t end up 10-0.  Peyton needs to get going now.

5:02 p.m. – Denver “D” containing Marshawn Lynch so far, which it needs to do.  Still getting hurt in other ways.

5:05 p.m. – On to the ads — Arnold Schwarzenegger and ping pong.  Don Cheadle and a yak.  Okay, now it’s coming together.  The teasers have apparently been coming for a while now.

5:07 p.m. – Another Seattle field goal, and it’s 8-0.  The Broncos need to rally on offense, starting now.

5:12 p.m. – Manning throws an INT.  Okay, who kidnapped Denver’s offense?

5:22 p.m. – Marshawn Lynch runs it in from a yard out, 15-0 Seahawks with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.  Too many dumb mistakes from Denver.  The Broncos under Manning are looking rattled and they’re having a tough time shaking it.  If this doesn’t change and soon, defense will win another Super Bowl — for Seattle.

5:38 p.m. – Another INT on a bad throw from Manning under heavy pressure, and Seattle’s Malcolm Smith runs it back for a touchdown.  It’s 22-0.  If Don Meredith were alive and broadcasting the game right now, he might start thinking about singing.

5:54 p.m. — Denver has to give it up just before halftime.  It says a lot that Denver’s bread and butter on offense — intermediate to long range passing — has been taken away, thanks in part to intense pressure off the edge.  If the Broncos can’t turn that around, it’ll be a long second half.

6:26 p.m. – About time to start the second half.  I just saw the meme of the game so far.

peyton

6:32 p.m. – Percy Harvin, 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and it’s 29-0 Seattle 12 seconds into the second half.  Percy, why didn’t you do stuff like that late in my fantasy football season instead of nursing injuries?  And I can hear Don Meredith singing …

6:39 p.m. – And I finally see an ad I can truly appreciate:  Audi’s “Doberhuahua.”  Yeah!

6:53 p.m. – Morpheus has a great voice in that Kia commercial!

6:56 p.m. – It can’t get any worse for Denver, darn near literally handing the game over to the Seahawks.  So bloggers just resort to filling up a live blog with commercials.  They’re more entertaining right now if you picked the Broncos.  Total domination by Seattle.

7:03 p.m. – Jermaine Kearse touchdown pass from Russell Wilson.  Yes, it can get worse for Denver fans.  What a blowout, 36-0.  Puts the “ugh” in “ugly.”

7:11 p.m. – Wow!  Denver scores a TD with no time left in the third quarter, and a two-point conversion.  A 36-8 game.  Bronco fans, don’t get your hopes up for an epic comeback.  Not against that Seattle defense.

7:20 p.m. – Is it just me, or do the Super Bowl ads get more lame overall every year?  Oh, and the Seahawks are about to … yep, score again.  Doug Baldwin helps make it 43-8, 11:45 left in the game.

7:28 p.m. – My lovely wife, the horse fan, wants to see “Thunder,” the Broncos’ Arabian mascot, do some running.  The problem is, “Thunder” only runs after Denver touchdowns.  My lovely wife might just have to settle for this …

7:42 p.m. – I remember Super Bowl XX, when the Chicago Bears trashed the New England Patriots 46-10.  I recall having slept through much of the second half.  This is one of those games.

7:51 p.m. — Amy’s excited to see the Budweiser ad.

7:55 p.m. – Game over.  In the battle of the legalized recreational pot states, Seattle takes it to a higher level.  Certainly a well-deserved championship.  DOMINATION!

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Super Bowl XLVIII prediction: Who’ll fly higher?

Let’s just get it out of the way, shall we?  Super Bowl XLVIII features two teams from the only two states in America to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  It’s already had its share of … errr, messed up moments, right from the closing seconds of the NFC Championship game when egos became the talk of the nation.

So, out of this year’s big game between the teams representing the weed capitals of America, who will fly higher when it’s all over and who will end up having taken the biggest … hit?

superbowlNow, let’s get something else out of the way, shall we?  This whole Richard Sherman thing that had much of America, football and non-football fans alike, talking after the end of the NFC Championship game.

Sherman — the Seattle Seahawks’ standout cornerback — got the ball rolling by throwing the universal symbol of choking in the direction of the San Francisco 49ers bench in general or Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick in particular, followed by an awkward exchange between Sherman and San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree as the last seconds of the game were left on the clock, capped off by one of the more memorable live television interviews ever conducted following an NFL game with Sherman declaring himself to be unbeatable and his foes little more than mediocre.

It wasn’t the first time Sherman has struck that kind of pose, tearing others down while building himself up to fabulous heights.  He was setting himself up to become the next Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, a talented and talkative defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs who spouted off plenty before Super Bowl I and ended up getting knocked out during the game — literally — as the Chiefs were being trounced.  While Sherman had plenty of supporters for his actions, he had just as many detractors.  Over the past two weeks, however, he seems to have had a bit of an awakening, showing itself in a guest column on the Sports Illustrated web site.

“No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is.” – Irvin Himmel

And then there’ve been concerns over weather conditions in this first Super Bowl ever played outdoors at a cold weather site.  How odd it’s seemed to think that the biggest sporting event in the world that’s classified as one of the biggest non-holiday days of the year — Super Sunday — could end up being moved to a Friday, Saturday or Monday instead to avoid bitter cold or a winter blizzard.

That’s messed up, man.

But here we are, hours away from kickoff, and it appears the game will go on as scheduled.  Enough of the Sherman hype, enough Weather Channel watching … are you ready for some football?

Here we have the No. 1 offense in Denver with league MVP Peyton Manning going against the No. 1 defense in Seattle with Sherman headlining a dynamic back seven.  It’s a classic matchup, you couldn’t ask for anything better.  It’s been said that offense wins games but defense wins championships, and it’s been proven to be true in the past.

Defense could very well be a deciding factor in this game.  But will it be Seattle’s defense winning it, or Denver’s?

The Seahawks have one of the top power running backs in the game in Marshawn Lynch, with just enough speed to break it once he gets through punishing would-be tacklers.  The thing is, the New England Patriots were showing that same style as they lumbered their way to the AFC Championship game and the Broncos ended up handling it defensively just fine.  They could do the same thing against Seattle.  If you contain the power running of Lynch, you force second-year quarterback Russell Wilson to beat you.

In a matchup of Wilson vs. Manning, the league MVP would get the nod.

The Seahawks will do all they can defensively to keep Manning off the field by pounding the ball inside and killing the clock.  But I have a feeling the Broncos will mix it up just enough offensively to do the same thing, with Manning using his vast array of receivers to keep Seattle’s defense guessing all game long when he’s not handing it off to Knowshon Moreno for some clock killing of his own.

In a game of inches, Richard Sherman turned away the 49ers with a well-timed play that could have easily gone the other way had Kaepernick’s pass to Crabtree in the end zone been just a touch longer.

You won’t see Peyton Manning making the same mistake.  You won’t be seeing Richard Sherman flashing the choke sign in Manning’s direction.

In the end, in this year’s Doobie Bowl — errr, Super Bowl — it’ll be the Broncos riding the highest, 27-23.

It’ll be a Rocky Mountain high.

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A new, fresh look at modern-day “applesauce”

will rogers

In humorist Will Rogers’ day, the slang term “applesauce” was similar to saying something was “horsefeathers,” or — in more modern and less clean terms — bullshit.

Will Rogers knew what he was talking about.

Mark Twain also knew what he was talking about when he shared his thoughts on politics.

twain“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”

“An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.”

I remember when a guy who’s been a good friend for close to 20 years, a longtime co-worker and daily commuting mate for several years couldn’t say enough good things about Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  In my friend’s mind, Christie was refreshing, someone not afraid to speak his mind, he’d “tell it like he is” while career politicians would only tell people what they’d want to hear, how Christie’s “a man of the people,” he’s “one of us,” just the “kind of person we need running this country.”

I also remember where we were when — during a commute home from work — my friend made me laugh out loud by talking about a study that showed Fox News Channel is the most unbiased news source around.  When I asked him where he got that information, his answer was, “My brother-in-law.”

Needless to say, it got to the point my friend and I avoided discussing current events, or at least those events that involved politics, as much as possible with so much daily contact.  It could lead to some tension.  I don’t think he appreciated the humor I found in statements like “Fox News is the most unbiased news source around” and the hearty laugh he’d hear from me after he’d say it.

I’d be curious to know what my old friend thinks of Chris Christie these days, after the revelations of “Bridgegate” were made last week that Christie’s top aides were found to have exchanged messages calling for traffic problems to be created on the George Washington Bridge between New York City and Fort Lee, NJ, either because Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor didn’t give Christie an endorsement in the 2013 gubernatorial election, or because there’s some bad blood between Christie and state Democrats because of some state Supreme Court justices who were pulled off the bench or denied seats on the bench, all involving some form of political retaliation and the Democratic Senate leader in New Jersey is from Fort Lee … whatever the case may have been.

Meanwhile, for the better part of a week in September, millions of commuters’ personal lives were affected, countless hours of time was lost, countless gallons of fuel were wasted in idling time, public services were delayed, and human lives were put at risk due to delays in emergency response time.  All because of political retaliation in the name of Chris Christie — that “man of the people” who’s “one of us” and is just the “kind of person we need running this country.”

Christie spent about two hours after the revelations were made public last week saying how he’d fired those responsible, how he had no knowledge (after flatly denying in December that any such thing was possible) of any plans to cause such disruption to so many people’s lives, how he was so saddened that such a thing was possible and he wasn’t told the truth about it by his own people.

NJ legislator asserts ‘laws have been broken’

The truth is, Chris Christie is just your typical politician.  I personally believe he’s full of … “applesauce.”  I personally have a hard time believing someone as domineering as Chris Christie has shown himself to be in the public spotlight could attend what had to be numerous meetings involving this matter without demanding that his people tell him the truth if he truly didn’t know anything about it.  After all, the truth generally has a way of coming out and if Christie were smart (which I think he is, like a nasty fox) he would have raised hell and gotten down to the bottom of what was happening with the massive public disruption on public thoroughfares in his state and made damn sure it didn’t happen again instead of making jokes about it when the revelations about his administration’s possible involvement were made in December.

I call “applesauce” on Chris Christie.  With the outbursts he’s had in public when it comes to anyone who’s dared disagree or question him — whether it’s a member of the media or a member of the public he was elected to serve — I strongly doubt that anyone in his administration would make a move that could come back to haunt Chris Christie without Chris Christie having major input in it.  Who would want to make a move that could seriously damage Chris Christie’s public image and suffer that much wrath if he didn’t know it was happening?

I believe it’s only a matter of time before the smoking gun in “Bridgegate” is shown to be held in the hands of Chris Christie himself.  He puts on a good show when the time calls for it, making people believe that he’s a supremely caring human being.  That’s what politicians do.  Chris Christie pulls no verbal punches.  That’s what mean politicians do.

christieChris Christie now looks like a child politician who — when things didn’t go the way he wanted them — decided to take off his clothes and figuratively sit on one end of the George Washington Bridge pouting, while traffic and emergency services come to a standstill for the better part of a week.

Unlike what my friend said about Christie in past years, the man truly does appear to be a typical politician.  He just adds more public bite to his politics.

In the meantime, when Christie’s brand of typical politics is practiced, people’s lives are affected to the point of being endangered.  We need to keep that in mind.

It’s the people who elect children like Chris Christie to public office.  It’s the people who elect children like him to public office who need to look a bit deeper beyond the surface.

It’s time for Chris Christie and politicians like him to pack up their binkies and their blankies and let the adults start getting down to some serious work that actually serves the public interest.

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AMY’S ANGLE: Another plea for “Legend,” aka “Milo”

By Amy Kathleen Miller

It has been awhile since I have written a blog article here.  However, I feel the need to write about a horse that has had a special place in my heart for a while now.

This horse’s name is Legend.  He used to be called Milo with the previous owner.  Legend has been with his new owner, Karen O’Donnell, for over a year now, and ever since she has gotten him he has been very aggressive to anyone who would come around.  However, there have been a few trainers come and start to train him out of this state of distrust.  But no one has really completed the task.  There have been trainers with good intentions, but haven’t followed through to where the horse was workable again.  There was progress when they did work with him.

Milo

Milo

So here we are now with Legend needing his hooves trimmed for the first time in over a year.  The horse is in a very unhappy state.  He has been fed and is no longer skinny but his hooves need to be tended to along with floating of his teeth.  If this horse is not worked with to the point of trusting again and having some gentling done, I am told by Karen that she would probably have to put him down.  This is not what she wants done with this horse, she loves this guy but can’t stand to see him  suffer and she doesn’t have the means to help him since she was not intending to bring in an aggressive horse.  Here are past blog articles about this horse.  He is not skinny any more as he is in the photo.

AMY’S ANGLE:  Horse rescues and horse tricks

AMY’S ANGLE:  Following up on Milo’s rescue

I have extended pleas for this guy in the past but have gotten no donations for him.  But what is needed are funds to pay for a trainer to help him through rehabilitation enough to be safe with Karen.  He needs to be trained enough to let someone work with his hooves and get his teeth floated.  So if you have any donations, please send them to www.friends-in-need.org

Anything you can do would be greatly appreciated.

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The end of innocence, 50 years after the fact

“We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people.’  But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.” – John F. Kennedy, from a speech prepared for delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas November 22, 1963

“We now have authority to shoot Obama, i.e., to kill him.  His willful violations and alienation of our Constitution, constant disregard for our peaceful protests and corruption of all the three branches of government, (i.e., rogue and illegitiimate government), reveal the dictator that he is.  Obama and his co-conspirators disrespect our Constitution (constitutional rule of law) and abuse the American people.  The authority to kill Obama comes from the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution: He is levying war on the United States and aiding and comforting our foreign enemies — the 2nd Amendment gives us the right and duty (authority) to engage an enemy of the United States that does so with the design to reduce us under absolute Despotism.  I would be very surprised, if Obama does not leave Washington DC today (Nov. 19th) …never to return, if he is not dead within the month. PLEASE JOIN US AT CHRISTIAN AMERICAN PATRIOTS MILITIA: https://www.facebook.com/groups/417199228403274/” — From a photo posted on Facebook by Everest Wilhelmsen November 19, 2013

John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas, Texas, Nov....

John F. Kennedy motorcade, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The question has been asked so often since November 22, 1963, and it will be asked a countless number of times today alone:  Where were you when JFK was shot?

I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when the news broke, but I can guess with decent accuracy that I was in my hometown of Salmon, Idaho.  I was only 1,008 days old at the time, far too young to know or understand what was happening in the larger world around me.

Last weekend, I asked my 82-year-old mother what she remembers from that date that joins others in American history living in infamy.  Her memory isn’t what it used to be, but she did say, “I just remember wondering why they’d do something like that.”

I don’t exactly know when JFK’s death entered into my conscience.  Perhaps I came to appreciate its significance more not quite five years after he was gunned down when his brother Robert was assassinated in Los Angeles while on the campaign trail for the presidency in 1968.

Through the years, my interest in JFK has grown immeasurably.  Through the years, I’ve often wondered:  What would this nation be like if John Kennedy had lived to finish his presidency?  All we are left to do is wonder about that.

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on...

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So much promise and hope was wiped out in an instant.  We’ve all seen so much speculation since Kennedy was slain.  His killing has been the model for conspiracy theories.  Was Lee Harvey Oswald a lone gunman, or did others lurk on the grassy knoll or under a manhole cover?  Was Jack Ruby part of a scheme to keep Oswald from spilling the beans about a sinister plot?  Was it a coup, part of that military industrial complex President Eisenhower warned against just before he left office?  A mafia hit?  Part of some plan Cuba had to get even for any American plots to assassinate Fidel Castro?  Was Lyndon Baines Johnson a part of it?  On and on, and we have to wonder if the absolute truth will ever be known or believed by everyone.

I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but even I have to look at the Zapruder film and wonder why — if the shots all came from behind — the fatal head shot made JFK move backward instead of forward.  The mystery is intriguing.

America was not a perfect nation long before Kennedy came to power.  Kennedy himself had his weaknesses, although back in his day his personal indiscretions were overlooked a lot more than they would have been today.  But what Kennedy brought in his time in office, through his eloquent words, was a sense of innocence.  He brought a sense of idealism.  It was perfect for the time — much like the innocence that was shown in one of the television programs that was interrupted by the news of JFK being shot 50 years ago today, “Father Knows Best.”

It was as close to being an American dream as we could get.

At 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, on November 22, 1963, after the presidential limousine turned from Houston onto Elm Street in downtown Dallas, that sense of innocence was lost.  So far, we haven’t gotten it back yet.  With the current political climate — including threats made via computer over social media by yahoos like Everest Wilhelmsen of the Christian American Patriots Militia — it seems we are far from ever getting it back.

Will we ever learn?  Or are we destined to live through the same kind of horror that Americans and people around the world experienced at 12:30 p.m. CST, 50 years ago today?

Perhaps that sense of innocence that was felt during JFK’s presidency was buried along with him, marked by an innocent gesture — a little boy saluting his fallen father.

KENNEDY John F. Kennedy

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44 vs. 42: The similarities are striking

It was a bit of a prescient moment.

It came after Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States in 2008.  I took a break from my work to walk outside and talk on the phone with a friend of mine, a black man possessing keen common sense and thoughtful observations on many things, including current events.

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He had the opinion that Barack Obama may not make it out of his presidency, at least not alive.  He thought that someone would end up taking a shot at him, in a literal sense.

So far, that literal sense hasn’t come to pass.  That’s a minor miracle, though, seeing as how there’s been a sharp rise over the last five years in gun nuts appearing in public places — even when the President has been in the same general area — with straps over their shoulders and holsters on their hips and legs carrying weapons of various calibers and capacities, talking about the need to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.

No, Barack Obama hasn’t had anyone take a literal shot at him yet.  Instead, he’s been on the receiving end of more figurative shots than any U.S. President in recent memory.  The opposition is doing all it can to make my friend’s prediction that Obama wouldn’t last through his presidency come true, one way or another.

Meanwhile, the moral and civil fiber of a nation is eroding.

Remember Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher?  Sure you do.  He gained a measure of fame in the 2008 election as a Sarah Palin-like conservative darling, someone held up as an “Everyman” who simply asked Obama on the campaign trail about his taxation plans and whether raising taxes on the wealthy would hurt him and his business.  A few weeks ago, he published an article on his website that was taken from another conservative website — an article written by a conservative black author — making the case that “America needs a white conservative President” because we just can’t seem to handle the thought of having a black Democratic President who’s actually much more moderate than most conservatives would care to admit.

UPDATE:  Here’s the latest from Joe The Plumber.

With a government shutdown going on and fingers being pointed in all directions (even by the people most responsible for it), the race card was being played in a much more bold and open way.  It hasn’t lightened up since then, it only seems to have become more intense now that the struggle with this latest shutdown is over and Republicans have come away looking foolish because they haven’t gained a single damn thing out of their efforts to extort something from the opposition.

Disagree with a U.S. President — fine, believe it or not you still have that right in this country and that alone doesn’t make you a racist.  I have conservative friends who strongly disagree with Barack Obama on a variety of things, and I would not call them racist because in their case there hasn’t been any hint of his race entering the discussion.  Their disagreement is on political points alone.

But we’re seeing something different coming into the mix now, especially after the shutdown fiasco.  What once seemed more veiled now comes across more blatant.  And it’s putting the ugliest face on American politics that I’ve seen since the fight for civil rights in the 1960s.  I can even remember what it was like then from personal experience as a 7-year-old, having to avoid the monuments in Washington, D.C., and listening to a police scanner filled with the chatter that was going on when I and my family visited relatives there in the summer of 1968

Joe The Plumber sharing the article about the need for a white conservative President reminded me of a thought that had crossed my mind a time or two before.  Now, there are examples of that same kind of bigoted thinking thinking popping up on a daily basis and it’s getting hard to ignore.

Think about this:  What other President in our history has been part of an accusation involving a U.S. Congressman with a key position in the House of Representatives — in this case, reportedly being Texas Republican Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee — looking a black President in the face during budget talks and saying, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois mentioned it on Facebook.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has confirmed it.  The White House has denied that it happened, and — naturally — Republicans have demanded an apology from those making the accusation.  But Durbin is sticking by the story.

Sessions himself only seems to be denying it by playing typical political word games.

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a jo...

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding health care reform (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone remember a sitting President being told something like that by a person in power, anything quite as personally cutting?  Whether you like Obama’s politics or hate them, the office still demands some sort of respect.  Joe Wilson yelling out “You lie!” at Obama during a State of the Union address is one thing.  Now, it’s being taken to a new level of personal slime.

And then there was this gem that came over the web Thursday.

“Even if some people say, well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that, they will hold the President responsible.  Now I don’t want to even have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get, you get it, you know … you are stuck and you are part of the problem now and you can’t get away.” – Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)

For anyone who wants to continue to turn a blind eye toward the fact or just deny that racism is returning as an unwelcome part of American politics, all you need to do is watch an interview from The Daily Show a couple of nights ago to see that it’s still alive, and it’s getting louder and more blatant with each passing day.

It’s gone beyond simply disagreeing with Barack Obama’s politics with way too many people.  Not all, but way too many.  Whether you like his politics or despise them, no sitting President deserves the kind of disrespect Obama gets, the kind that gets as personal and cutting as it is now.  And it’s interesting that we’re seeing it becoming as blatant as it is now that the shutdown is in the past and Republicans who helped force it have been dealt such an embarrassing setback.

If the trend continues, we may see more moves like this one made by Judge Carlo Key.

What we’re seeing more now with Barack Obama — from Joe The Plumber and the allegations regarding Hastings and the “tar baby” statements made by the Colorado representative, and looking back on the outright obstructionism and hatred that’s been seen in the entire five years of the Obama administration — is reminiscent of another ugly chapter in American history that lasted way too long and was endured beyond measure by the man who suffered the most from it.

It’s 44 vs. 42.  Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States and the first man with black skin to serve in the office, vs. Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers, wearing No. 42 on his uniform.

Jackie Robinson with Branch Rickey as Robinson signs his contract, becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball history.

Jackie Robinson with Branch Rickey as Robinson signs his contract, becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball history.

The things that Robinson put up with in his historic role in history are being brought into clearer focus with the actions that we’re seeing today with Obama.

The White House may be denying that the incident with Hastings ever happened.  Even if it didn’t, it’s not all that surprising to hear about it.  Surprising?  No.  Disgusting?  Yes.  It only goes to show that a lot of people still have some “growing up” to do.

The White House may be denying that the incident with Hastings ever happened.  Or, if it did happen, they may be denying it to take the higher ground — much the same way Dodgers president Branch Rickey advised Jackie Robinson before he suited up for Brooklyn’s Montreal farm team in the 1940s.

We may not be seeing Obama’s ankle getting spiked by an opposing player as he’s catching a defensive throw, but we’re seeing a bit of the same viciousness in a different, more subtle way.

It would be nice if we could see more people “grow up” the way Dodger great Pee Wee Reese did back in the day — putting aside his own prejudices, disliking what Robinson was being subjected to, and — in front of a stadium that included members of his family and friends down South, with loud choruses of boos raining down on the field along with hurled insults — exhibiting a gesture as simple as putting his arm around Robinson’s shoulder for everyone else to see.  It was a way of showing that — regardless of Robinson’s skin color — they were all part of a team.

We need more “grown-ups” these days when it comes to the fact that we have a President with black skin.  Not a “tar baby.”  A President, of states that are supposed to be united here in America.

Do people really hate Barack Obama more than they love the United States of America?

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How do you solve a shutdown? Burn down the House?

A random computer-generated phone call came to our land line tonight.  It was from Utah’s Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, inviting me and a bunch more people from around the state — all registered voters, I’m sure — to a live telephone town hall.

, Congressman from Utah (D-Utah, 2001-present)

Jim Matheson, Democratic Congressman from Utah (2001-present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I actually stayed on the line and listened to what that rare Democratic lawmaker from Utah had to say, especially in light of a government shutdown getting tons of attention from all corners of the United States and around the globe.

I also wanted to see what Matheson had to say in light of the fact that he’s opposed to the Affordable Care Act, and has actually been among those in the House of Representatives who’ve voted to repeal the ACA, stripping landmark legislation of funding before it’s even gone into effect.

Yes, Utah’s rare Democratic lawmaker has been among the lawmakers choosing to waste time and money by voting 40-some times to do away with that nasty thing called “Obamacare” before shutting down the government because, darn it all, those “kids” in Congress who don’t believe in progress and compromise just won’t be satisfied until they get their way, and they don’t give a damn who gets hurt in the process.

Matheson may be a Utah Democrat, but that doesn’t make him any less of a contributor to Congress’ anti-ACA hamsters taking another spin on that wheel going nowhere.

I got my question in to a screener, waited in the queue, and the call ended before I got to put in my line of questioning.  But I did leave a message, not that I expect it to do any good.

It went kind of like this, with a couple of statements of my disappointment thrown in as well …

Hey, Rep. Matheson, I understand you don’t like “Obamacare” but what specifics do you have to make a better law? And instead of wasting time and money voting 40-some times to defund a law that hasn’t even taken effect yet, why not let it take effect and then work to improve on it — fixing the things that don’t work, moving forward with the things that do?

Along the way, though, I got to get a feel for what’s on the mind of Utah voters over what’s happening in Washington, D.C., these days — or, rather, what’s not happening.  And the bottom line is this:  Liberal or conservative, people are pissed, and they’re pissed that lawmakers in Congress so bent on taking away the ACA would hold a nation hostage in order to do that.

I shared that line of questioning on my Facebook status.  One fellow music-loving friend said I make too much sense.

I need to stop making sense.  Most politicians don’t like it when people make sense, not when there are political points to be made.

How do you solve a government shutdown?  In a figurative (not literal) sense, maybe it takes threatening to “burn down the House.”

Burn the damn thing down.  Start all over again.

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