The Eclectic Automobile


It’s been a while and I apologize for not writing.   The burning issues of the day are so divisive and I’ve not felt I could add anything useful.  The advent of electric automobiles (though it also has been politicized) may be something we can discuss courteously. It seems to me that we are missing something important in the conversation.

Much has been said about reducing our carbon footprint. Opponents of the rush to save our planet can inform you of the hidden costs of an electric vehicle. I’m just an old country boy so I don’t know, but you can probably find arguments for both sides in a gazillion places on that internet thing.  In the meantime, here’s a little common sense.  Here are some known facts. Here is something on which, perhaps, we can all agree.

Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile.  He didn’t invent the “moving assembly line” either. He put the two together and was able to lower the cost of his Model T from about $850 to a record low price of $326. That price put the Model T within our grasp and changed the world.

It didn’t change overnight. Decades of road-building, mechanical breakdowns and manufacturing errors in a storm of ever-improving infrastructure were to follow.  It took a while.  I was raised in the 1950s, when a coast-to-coast vacation or even a twenty-mile trip from the farm to a small town could be a dicey proposition at best.  It’s fair to say that it took us at least 60 years before a family could drive to town—or California– in reasonable comfort and without fear of heat stroke, hypothermia or mechanical breakdown.

To a farmer with a horse and buggy, thirty miles from town, repairing a broken plowshare or finding more barbed wire usually meant the loss of at least several days productive work. That’s a considerable loss if one’s livelihood depended on weather and luck and backbreaking labor. The loss of time was often a week. Farmers tended to go to town on Saturdays, mostly.

To a Missouri family considering a trip to the coast—east or west—it was about the same as thinking about a trip to the moon and back, assuming you lived through it. An expedition to California was a months-long proposition; most folks simply didn’t have the time. New York was as mysterious to them as the lunar surface.

With the Model T and its offspring, the farmer’s trip to town could be accomplished in hours rather than days.  The California trip might be accomplished in weeks rather than months.

What caused us to buy a Model T?  Certainly, it reduced our need for harnesses, oats and buggy whips. The price was right. But the alluring element was magical.  Henry Ford offered us time itself for three hundred and twenty-six dollars.  That is why it changed the world and that is why we spent sixty years trying to perfect it.

For all its sizzle, the electric vehicle offers me no steak, no overwhelming, world-changing and profound transformation—at least not on the level of Henry Ford.

Ford, for all his faults, understood his customer.  Do the propondbsig2ents of electric vehicles understand theirs?  I’m very much afraid they do. I’m very much afraid the electric car is nothing more than a shiny object being dangled in front of my attention deficit disorder.

I know I’m old and stuck in my ways.  But I’ll sign up when Scotty can actually beam me up.


Covid: Tired Of Hearing About It?


I am a normal person who is tired of hearing about Covid.  Maybe you are, too.

I try to avoid the media these days but apparently there are “important issues” about the President’s authority to enforce vaccination in businesses with over 100 employees.

It sure sounds as if a lot of people are forgetting some common sense.

Let’s get our facts straight.  Any individual, private business or organization has the right to deny access for anything their little heart desires. 

If a business owner or organization decides that every employee or customer must wear a purple hat, we would wear the hats or, if we don’t like it, we would search for other employment or shop somewhere else.  If it turns out that customers don’t like purple hats, then the business would have the option of changing policy.  It’s that simple.  What a wonderful country this is.

If an organization—say a Scout camp—decrees that campers must have a vaccine in order to attend, they are within their rights.  Many, many organizations have such health requirements.  You’re also not allowed in with chicken pox.  It’s common sense and it’s right.

If a person says we can’t enter his home with loaded guns, he is on solid ground. We would likely abide by his rules.  Why?  Because it’s his castle.

Only one entity in this country does not have the right to impose such rules: The government. The government can impose restrictions on its own employees, but it’s the same game.  Employees have the right to leave; the government can fire them or change the rules.

This is the dunderheaded argument the media claims is “raging across our country” and causing me to be even more distracted than normal. Mostly because the media has determined it is “an issue.”  It is not.

The anti-vaxxers say we shouldn’t get the vaccination and the vaxxers say we should.  Again, it’s a free choice, regardless of what someone tries to tell us.  I chose to do it.  I’m older and I have several co-morbidities.  I researched.  I asked a lot of people who were knowledgeable about Covid. I felt the best science was telling me that my odds were better.  No other person in this country will intimidate me one way or the other, and no other person in this country need follow my lead.  I don’t care.  Before you label me as cruel and heartless, here are a few facts:

Most of us realize that loaded guns in the hands of children are a bad idea and we advise our children to never point a gun at something they don’t intend to kill.  Yet it is estimated that nearly 1300 children are killed annually in gun accidents. Tragic.

Most of us understand that alcohol and automobiles are a dangerous combination and we advise our young adults to not drink and drive.  And an alcohol-related traffic death occurs every 52 minutes in this country.

Most of us, I assume, don’t want to be hit by a speeding automobile and we look both ways before crossing the street.  We teach our kids the same thing.  But this year over 6000 pedestrians will be killed by the proverbial pie wagon.

We are as “informed” as we can possibly be at this point about Covid. We’ll get smarter about it as time goes by.  We know that it is contagious.  We know it will kill some of us, lamentably, a small number of young people.  The rest will survive. This is the reason I say to anyone who refuses the Covid vaccine:  “The best science says your odds are better if you get it.  But if you don’t, I wish you well and I hope you don’t suffer and die.”  I mean it sincerely.  Even though I said I don’t care.

This is what ought to be said to an individual, business or organization exercising their rights.  Not in judgement or unkindness.  Here are the known facts and the choice is yours.  We will bury some of you and that will be tragic.  But would we not say the same about the pie wagon?


Now let’s remove the portions of the broadcast media devoted to Covid.  Enough of the newspaper segments devoted to Covid coverage.  If we want “normal” back, let’s go there, intentionally.

Actor Morgan Freeman said something a while back, profound in its simplicity.  He was talking about another “issue” and he said “If you’re tired of hearing about it, then stop talking about it.”

The Little Things


Easter approaches.  Those of us who accept the proper observance of it believe it to be more than a celebration. Maybe it is a time to reaffirm the belief and practice of treating other people the way we would like to be treated.

I have not watched broadcast news or social media news since election day. I’ve heard about impeachments and riots and Biden from my friends, but have made very little effort to get information about these things from any newspaper or other major news sources.  Before you accuse me of sticking my head in the sand, I want you to know the reasons and result of my crazy approach to the world.

In spite of errors you and I feel are being said and made nationally, my life has been noticeably more pleasant.  I still discuss “important affairs” with my friends.  I still have an opinion.  But on my own personal priority scale of one to ten, national news has moved from number one to about number, oh, seven I guess. This was not some highfaluting idea or decision on my part; I simply didn’t know where the truth was. There was a day when Walter Cronkite would tell me what was going on and afterward, we’d have dinner.  That was a long time ago and that day is gone.

I cannot control what a Congress or a President or a House Speaker or a Senate Majority Leader says or does, other than with my vote.  As I tell the phone survey people, “My vote is my opinion and I’ll express it on election day.I suspect I’ll hang onto that dogmatic response.

Since I have little or no effect on big things, I’ve started concentrating on the little things–my own ability to treat people in the manner I’d like to be treated.  And I’m speaking of the people close around me.  My friends.  My neighbors.  People in my community.  Doing small good things has an enormous capacity to generate good things in other people.  It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what national leaders have demonstrated.  The little things are my choice, according to my ability.  It’s possible that keeping an eye on the little things could have an effect on the big ones.  All I know is that it makes the other person feel better and it makes me feel better.  I have watched this capitalist society for many decades.  I’m absolutely certain that if enough people stopped watching the news and began treating the people around them better, it would cause broadcasters to tear their hair and gnash their teeth. It’s conceivable that they might change the way they’re behaving. 

Maybe I can’t change the world.   But I believe I can try to change the little things—the little world around me.

Maybe if more people started treating their own little circle the right way, it could become a habit.  Maybe that circle would grow.  Maybe that could become powerful.  I don’t know this, but doing it for myself restores a brightness to my day.  If I watch the news, it takes the shine off.

Of course my idea isn’t new.  Many many people around the world, far wiser than I,dbsig2 have adopted it in all sorts of ways for centuries.  But I’ve been around the barn a few times and I’ve learned that less is more and simple is best.  Being half-simple myself, I think I can do it.

What Joe Says


My dog Joe occasionally talks.  That is apparently a big surprise to folks.  We don’t have long conversations, but he generally gets his point across.  Now what Joe and I talk about in the privacy of our home is our business and nobody else’s, but I gave it some thought and I saw how it might seem curious.  I made a point to ask him about it. 

I went to my office and sat down.  Joe lay on the floor sleeping, his nose between his front paws. 

“Joe, people don’t seem to have a great interest in what I write, but they are devilishly puzzled by a talking dog.”

He raised his head to look at me.

“Well what would they expect?  I don’t have opposable thumbs.  I can’t hold a pen to paper. (He held up his paws)  I’ll never master a keyboard with these things. How did they expect me to communicate?  Telepathy?”

“Well, you know that and I know that, but still. Why don’t you help me out with this and talk more? Like politics, maybe, or current events?”

Joe moved closer to me and put his paw on my knee.  “Listen.  People get uneasy when their politicians and their dogs start talking. Dogs and politicians ought to stay quiet for the most part.  Things just run better that way.  I’m no Donald Trump. I’m no Chuck Schumer either.  (He points his paw at me)  Now you take Calvin Coolidge.  He never said much.  People listened.”

Now that made sense to me.  If more people listened to him carefully, Joe would be thought of as the Calvin Coolidge of dogs.  He uses fewer words than any dog I know.  I leaned on the desk and rested my chin in my hand as I stared at him. “Are you saying we need a President like Coolidge?”

“What you people do bores me.  But I promise you if I trotted into the kitchen right now and said “I’m thirsty,” I bet I would get me some water.”

I smiled.  You see, he won’t talk to Mary.  In the kitchen, he’s the Harpo Marx of dogs. But she talks to him frequently and I get a lot of information that way.

“I see your point.  But consider this.  Yesterday  I was reading about the election and the people who got into the Capitol building and all these security measures for the inauguration, and this impeachment thing.  All you did was yawn.”

He yawned again.  He began to lick himself.  “You people can do.  What you want.  But can you imagine.  How calm and peaceful it would be right now.  If all the dogs and people.  Just stopped barking.  And went outside.  And smelled their yard?”

“Have it your way.  But I am a little concerned.  Listen to this.  A reader says it is “simply unbelievable” and “an insult” to her intelligence to suggest that you might sit in my office or downstairs in the workshop and discuss politics.”

He stopped and looked up at me.  “Insulting.  Is that so?  I’ll bet when she was a kid she watched Mr. Ed every week.  You people get your intelligence insulted too often.  If all I talked about was chasing a tennis ball and barking at other dogs in the neighborhood, nobody would listen. I’m a dog, that’s what I do. What kind of a life would that be?  She thinks I don’t talk and I think she talks too much. That’s a brick wall, my friend.  That’s when I start sniffing around for bugs.”

“You’re not following, Joe.  Some people are saying that I spend too much time alone with you.  They think I’m losing my mind.”


Joe sat up and stared at me.  “Oh, I’m following, mister.  I will never, NEVER (stomps his paw on the floor) stop spending time with you. Losing your mind?  Well.  That ship sailed a long time ago.  Let’s stop wasting time. I’d like to go outside now and get the paper.”

A Fool’s Restraint


“Turn the volume down on that thing, will you?”

I’ll bet that’s what a lot of us say to the never-ending barrage of political commercials on our televisions.  Most of us are pushed to the breaking point and would throw the television out the window if they weren’t so big.  I can’t get my hands around the average TV these days, but I can get my brain around what they are saying to me.

There’s a new twist in political advertisements this time around—a campaign to make sure we vote.  “Make a plan to vote!” is the oft-repeated phrase.  Every time I think about that, a little warning bell goes off in my head.  If I need a plan to vote, was it important to me in the first place?  I’m older.  I make notes and plans for things I’m afraid I’ll forget.  “Trash Wednesday” is one I’ve used before.  “Trim Joe’s Nails” is another one.  Joe is my dog; I don’t offer nail trimming to just anyone.  “Cobwebs in Shed” is another one that comes to mind, and since it came to mind,  I probably didn’t need the note.

“Make a plan to vote” is a reminder that I have never used and never will.  When I am so old that my children come to get me, drive me to the polling place, carefully hold onto me while we walk in and I ask “What are we doing again?” it’s time for me to stop voting.

And that will be all right, won’t it?

I will have reached the stage in life when I no longer know about the candidates and the issues.  I will simply be reaping the benefits from other people who vote.  People who have studied the candidates and the issues.  I will be cared for by people who know what’s going on as I am carried slowly into the sunset.

Crack. Glass breaking. Music stops as the film melts and burns.  My beautiful ending dissolves in a cold bath of logic and reason.

People who know what’s going on?  No, these are people to whom the privilege of voting was at the bottom of their “to-do” list.  In order to make a decision that will affect my rights, my beliefs and my life, they require a “plan” to remember to decide?  I do not want these people making decisions for me in my old age.

They are not prepared to vote.  Watching three seconds of a candidate at a political rally does not count as “knowledge.”  Believing and repeating a shouted slogan on social media does not constitute mastery of the subject at hand. Being uninformed or misinformed grants us no wisdom at all.  It steals a part of the truth from us while we are unaware.  It is the pickpocket of truth.  The result is that we often feel used and abused–very much like we feel when our wallet is missing.

Now that is the long way around the barn to say there are many people out there who should not vote.  Do not misunderstand and think that because you have the right, you should abuse the privilege.  Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  If you sit in your airplane seat and the flight attendant asks you to fly the plane, you’ll probably politely decline; seems wiser to ask someone who knows how to fly. We don’t let our children drive a car until they understand a braking system and what a steering wheel looks like.  When we are feeling poorly, we don’t walk into the garage and drink a gallon of antifreeze, thinking “This ought to help.”  Yet your right to drink antifreeze is probably guaranteed in the constitution, if you ask the right lawyer.  A teaspoon of common sense, twice daily, might be better prescribed.

If we don’t know how to fly, then why in the world would we take part in the flying of our country?  That’s like walking into the cockpit, reaching out your finger and saying “I think we ought to press that button.”

If you have not made the effort to be informed, if you have not valiantly tried to find the truth (and these days it is a valiant effort), if you have not lifted a finger to search for honesty, your best bet is to trust the pilot and sit down.  Statistics will prove me right on that one.

If you are unprepared to vote, I urge you to stay home.  Play that video game you enjoy so much.  Go get that whimsical manicure that has occupied your mind this week.  Break up with your boyfriend. Have a sleepover with your BFF. Party hearty.

If you are unprepared to vote, then don’t.  “Make a plan” to avoid voting. We will all be the better for it.

The Right To Defy


I have kept quiet for as long as I’m able.  So far as I know, I still have a right to say what I believe to be truth.  I could be wrong about that.

There are two stories blaring out of your televisions and newspapers today.  One of them is played as big news, the other as secondary.  They’ve got it backwards.

We all know by now that Hunter Biden, the son of former vice-president and presidential candidate Joe Biden allegedly left his laptop at the repair shop with God knows what on it.

Did the appearance of this story—not the laptop but the appearance and timing of the story—surprise anyone?  Anyone? Those of us who have watched a few elections barely batted an eye.  I don’t know about you, but I was waiting for the October Surprise.  I just didn’t know which side would push the plunger down to see a story explode.  “Surprise!” said absolutely nobody.

I don’t know if it’s true or not.  But here’s something I do know: Every four years, in the middle of October, somebody will push the plunger down.

If the story is not true, Joe and Hunter should show a little righteous anger and demand unimpeachable evidence from their accusers.  If you are unjustly accused, righteous anger is an effective defense. If, on the other hand it’s true, folks are entitled to know about it. These things must happen now, because the story is out there. That’s politics.

You’ll find another story below the fold on the front page or at the end of the broadcast of your favorite talking head.  In some newspapers and some networks, you won’t find it at all.  That would be the story of how at least two major social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, unilaterally suppressed the laptop story.  Tweedledee at Facebook judged it to be politically incorrect and possibly false.  She pressed a button and endless algorithms went to work, removing the story and any attempts to share it.  Tweedledum, her counterpart at Twitter, pressed the same button. Poof.  Story doesn’t exist.

These two major social platforms deleted or suspended accounts of the New York Post, the President and his press secretary, among others.  They digitally prevented the copying and sharing of the story.

To my very good friends who call themselves liberals or progressives (and I have many), you may be secretly high-fiving each other over this.  I must tell you that, were the shoe on the other foot, I would still be outraged.  I don’t get my news from social media, because it is so filled with bluster, baloney and hate.  I tend to stay off of it.  I know that major newspapers and media networks are polarized, so I try to avoid getting news from a single source.  Truth be told (and it isn’t these days) we would probably agree it’s damned hard to find out what’s really going on out there. But that doesn’t negate the fact that gazillions of young people and others use social media as their only source of information.  That’s scary even without the laptop thing.

The very idea of blocking a major story on the internet may not trouble you.  You may honestly feel that it’s no different than what the newspapers and TV networks do.  You may feel that these incredibly large and influential social platforms are basically publishers of news like the New York Times or Fox News.

They are not.

In the 1990s, government, news publishers, Internet platforms and the public were all balled up in an argument about “decency.”  It went on for a long time–a complex issue.  In 1996 Congress passed the Communications Decency Act. And within that Act, Section 230(c) (1) attempted to insure the free flow of ideas.  That section says in essence that social media platforms are not “publishers.”  That section says that they are no different from UPS or the pizza delivery guy.  That section says they are not responsible for the content of what they deliver and that you can’t take them to court for delivering or not delivering your pizza or your news.

In reality, Congress was concerned about “pornography,” whatever three hundred twenty-eight million people seemed to think that was—and is. Section 230 protected that free flow of ideas, exempting Internet platforms from liability regarding their content posted by third parties.  In understandable language, that means that Twitter and Facebook cannot be held responsible for what you, me or anyone else posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Section 230 was flawed. We have just witnessed its failure.  Amy Coney Barrett would understand what’s happened.

(And as to cleaning up pornography, do you think it worked?  You may need the experience of sitting down with a grandchild to help her write her school assignment on Louisa May Alcott.  You search for “Little Women”.  And then you frantically cover your grandchild’s eyes from the result. Asking for a friend.)

Newspapers and television networks are publishers.  They are businesses.  They supply “news” and sell advertising, while rolling in Croesus-like sums of money for doing it.  They are legally responsible for what appears in their product.  They spend millions each year on lawyers and risk management to assess their liability exposure.  And they get sued anyway.  Happens every day.  Regardless of whether you or I agree with their content, they do run this risk every time a story is published.  You can demand their appearance in court for anything, if you so desire.  This is America.

You cannot take Facebook to court for their content (or in this case, the lack of it).  You can shout all day long at Twitter because of something you read or were unable to read.  You have the right to shout at Twitter, but they don’t have to be legally responsible.  This, also, is America, thanks to Section 230.

Full disclosure: I supported this law.  I didn’t like the idea of it, but I felt freedom of speech was too important.  I landed on the side of “Let everyone speak, regardless of what they say, warts and all.”  We all make mistakes.

Facebook and Twitter say they are not “publishers.”  Section 230 supports them.  But it stands to reason that when they sell advertising and claim to offer “news,” when they profess to be champions of the “free flow of ideas”, and then  actively suppress a story because they don’t happen to agree with it, they have become publishers.  They are acting like the New York Times.  If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

Today it means that the laptop story disappeared from Twitter and Facebook, two enormous social media platforms involving millions and millions of people and selling advertising to the tune of billions.  Sounds like a publisher to me.  In fairness, whether the story is true or false, some people believe it needs to be heard and investigated.  Tomorrow, it will be a story you believe should be heard.  And it will disappear.  And your account will be suspended.  Zillions of people will never see it, because that’s where they get their “news.”

We all seem to be concerned about being right.  But maybe we have forgotten how to be wrong.  Regarding Section 230, how difficult is it to say “Yeah, we got that wrong. Let’s get it fixed.”?  Most folks in this country are forgiving if the problem gets fixed.

This is more important than Hunter Biden’s laptop.  It goes to the heart of the Constitution—your right or mine to have access to a free press and make up our own minds.


I hope you will sit for just a moment and consider this.  Don’t Google it.  Don’t tweet.  Just use that gray matter that God gave you and discover what you think.  I trust your gray matter over every single newspaper, network or media platform in the world.

Is this right or is it wrong?

Joe The Dog And The Newspaper


I don’t know about you, but in this house, we’ve enjoyed our local newspaper for nearly forty years. I don’t read it much, but Saint Mary does.  Invariably, I’ll find a story on my desk, clearly circled for me to read.  I’m not henpecked but I am a wee bit controlled.

We’ve always been pleased with the newspaper service.  For decades, they tossed that paper right onto the front porch, where I could lean out and grab it.  We always appreciated that and at Christmas time, Mary wrote the delivery folks an extra check.

A couple of years ago (right after we sent the Christmas “bonus check”) we received a letter from the newspaper office.  It seems that they were no longer able to get the paper to our front door, but they could still get it to the driveway.  That is, unless we were willing to pay an extra five bucks.  Now, mind you, our home is built on a small hill.  To get to the driveway from my front door, I must walk down the sidewalk, down the steps and find the newspaper.  If I were thirty years old and living in California, that would be an enjoyable trip.  But I’m older than two thirties put together in Missouri.  I know that if I were in California I probably wouldn’t read the newspaper at all, but that’s beside the point.  There’s a principle involved here.

I took more than a little umbrage at the extra charge.  “No Christmas Bonus for you!” I shouted in my best Seinfeld Soup Nazi voice.  I told Mary I’d be damned if I was going to pay for that, and I’d do it myself.  And I did.  Until it snowed and got really, really cold.  It took me only one winter morning, standing in snow on my dark and freezing driveway to realize that perhaps my decision to take on the job of paper delivery boy was, well, unseasonable.  I went inside where I could think.

I fixated on this problem.  Now there were two things I didn’t want to do.  I didn’t want to pay the extra five bucks and I didn’t want to go out in the cold.  Joe The Dog lethargically thumped his tail on the floor as I stared at him and that’s when it hit me.  The problem wasn’t the distance to the driveway.  The problem wasn’t Missouri winters.  The problem was that Joe The Dog, to whom I provide food, water, shelter, education and companionship, was lazy.  Joe could get the paper from the driveway every morning. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night would keep him from his appointed rounds.

Joe’s a clever dog.  With a couple days training, he was happy and excited for me to open the front door.  He would race to the driveway, grab the newspaper in its pink plastic wrapper and race back to the door.  I taught him to take it down the hallway and deposit it undamaged on the floor beside my office chair.  And Joe was happy, let me tell you.  He never once felt put upon.  He took on the job of morning paperdog with the thrill that only a dog owner can understand.  He would sit in the office and stare at me expectantly until I said “Want to get the paper?” And he would tear down the hall to the front door where he would jump in the air until I got there.  This dog actually jumps about two feet into the air when he’s excited, I kid you not; his ancestry has kangaroos in it.  And he had reason to jump.  We both knew a win-win situation when we saw it.  I bragged on him.  I put photos of him on Facebook, prancing up the sidewalk with the huge pink roll in his mouth.  I wasn’t boastful about it, but when others told me I had a real knack with dogs, I let it be said uncontested.

During the summer that followed, a friend mentioned that he takes the electronic edition of the local paper—no physical paper delivered.  He said I ought to take a look at it.  He said the price was much better.  Well, of course Mary and I investigated.  I don’t remember the price difference, but it was enough to make you say “Maybe we ought to try it.”

And so we “went paperless.”  We received our electronic newspaper and Mary enjoyed reading it.  She was happy.  My Scotch blood was warmed by the knowledge that I was still avoiding that extra five dollars.  I was happy.  Joe, on the other hand, was inconsolable.  He wouldn’t get up.  He refused to eat.  He moped. He wouldn’t have a thing to do with me.  Mornings were the worst.  He would stare at me and I knew what he was thinking.  “You’re not going to say it, are you?”  I had never seen clinical depression in a dog before, but he had all the signs. He wouldn’t talk to me about it, and I realized that dog therapy was going to cost a lot more than the five dollar charge I had outwitted.  A neighbor accosted me on the street one day and said “Why won’t you let that dog get the paper?”  And he had a tone when he said it.  I knew right there I had to solve the problem.

Things are better now. Mary reads the morning paper and emails me the articles that she thinks I need to read.  She’s happy.  I’m still controlled and resigned to it.  But Joe the Dog is ecstatic.  On the bookshelf above my desk is an old newspaper in its pink protector.  And every morning I take it off the shelf and look at Joe.  “Do you want to get the paper?”  He leaps into the air and tears off to the front door.  I step onto the porch and I throw the paper onto the driveway.  Then I open the door for him.  Like I said, a wee bit controlled.

I have never paid them the extra five bucks.

Trumped Up America


This is the first CommonSense published solely to its followers.  I am not “advertising” it on Facebook because I would expect to be shouted down.  I find very little good purpose in that social medium, particularly when trying to quietly state my political opinions.  On Facebook it appears that when the shooting starts, the persecuting begins. This column may very well be available only to those who wish to read it in the future.  We’ll see how it goes.  As far as Facebook is concerned, I am thinking I don’t need the headache.

From a human side, I’m not a fan of Donald Trump.  He is boorish and self-aggrandizing.  Joe Biden doesn’t appear boorish; he simply doesn’t appear.  Trump doesn’t speak or communicate well unless somebody else writes the script. Biden can’t seem to speak and hold his train of thought. Liberal reporters are able to bait Trump easily, and the President always takes the bait.  Biden merely replies that 150 million people have been killed by guns since 2007, while the total population of our country is only 328 million people.  Trump stands in front of a church with a Bible in his hand, when most of us think he hasn’t read much of it.  But is he a monster?  I don’t think so.

We’ve had outstandingly boorish Presidents before.  You may not remember them.  John Adams had a reputation for razor-sharp put-downs at the expense of his allies and rivals alike.  James Monroe had a fiery temper and once chased Treasury Secretary William Crawford from his office, brandishing a pair of hot fireplace tongs.  The opponents of Andrew Jackson called him a “jackass,” resulting in the donkey as the Democratic symbol. Thomas Jefferson referred to Jackson as “one of the most unfit men I know of” to serve as president of the United States. Jackson taught his pet parrot to swear.  It did so, at his funeral.  John Tyler is usually ranked among the worst. He used ten unpopular vetoes to block his own party. Most of his Cabinet resigned in protest, and eventually they all quit.  And that’s not to mention his drinking.  Andrew Johnson, who also liked a drink or two, was despised for his arrogance.  He was called “a self-made man, distressingly proud of his maker.”  The New Republic wrote of Theodore Roosevelt: “ [He] spent much of his life behaving like a bully, drunk on his own self-regard…Roosevelt’s reputation for boyishness arose from…his ceaseless action, his snap decisions, his adolescent bellicosity, his refusal to consider intellectual or ethical complexity, his confusion of physical with moral courage, and his exaggerated self-esteem when confronted by actual or imagined insults.”  Lyndon Johnson was well known for a rude and overbearing personality.  The list of ungentlemanly Presidents goes on and on.  Some of them turned out all right.  This is a very long way of saying we have seen it before and survived.

Someone far wiser than me once said “Don’t judge the words.  Judge the behavior.” Let’s do that, disregarding the Covid-19 crisis, since the economy seems poised to return better than ever. 

  • Donald Trump’s administration is responsible for almost 4 million jobs created since the election.
  • More Americans were employed than ever recorded before in our history.
  • 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since Trump’s election, growing at the fastest rate in more than three decades. 
  • New unemployment claims hit a 49-year low. 
  • African-American unemployment achieved the lowest rate ever recorded. 
  • Hispanic-American unemployment recorded is at the lowest rate in history. 
  • Female unemployment reached the lowest rate in 65 years (and that was when Rosie The Riveter and her female compatriots went to work in World War II). 
  • Trump’s administration records the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for Americans without a high school diploma. 
  • He signed the biggest package of tax cuts and reforms in history.
  • After tax cuts, over $300 billion poured back in to the U.S. 
  • Thanks to Trump’s tax bill, small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years. 
  • A record number of regulations have been eliminated.
  • The Obamacare individual mandate penalty is gone.
  • He withdrew the U.S. from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord. 
  • He secured a record $700 billion in military funding.
  • He withdrew from the idiotic, one-sided Iran Deal. 
  • He moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. 
  • He protected Americans from terrorists with the Travel Ban, upheld by the Supreme Court. 
  • He concluded an historic U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal to replace NAFTA. 
  • He reached a breakthrough agreement with the E.U. to increase U.S. exports. 
  • He Imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum to protect our national security. 
  • He imposed tariffs on China in response to their forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and chronically abusive trade practices. 
  • Net exports were on track to increase by $59 billion. 
  • He has begun building The Wall.

This is far from a complete list.  If Donald Trump were our employee (and he is), we would be hard pressed to fire him as a slacker.

It seems obvious that Trump detractors will do or support anything that will remove him from office.  I expect those detractors have made plans.  The Epoch Times  reports that the Department of Justice has evidence that the far-left extremist organization Antifa and other similar groups have been behind the recent riots in order to fuel their own violent agenda.  Police departments in several states have warned of materials being purposefully planted in certain locations so as to fuel the rioting. Bricks, incendiary materials and accelerants (that’s a Molotov cocktail) have been found hidden, ready for use.  Unknown individuals, wearing dark combat gear have been reported in the crowds, communicating with others and giving directions.  These are not peaceful protesters.  They were organized and ready.  They don’t care too much about the reprehensible death of George Floyd.  The clear evidence of riot preparations and directions during the rioting should strongly suggest that plans were in readiness prior to Floyd’s death.  Something smells fishy. His wrongful death appears not to be the reason for rioting, but rather the excuse for it.

Floyd was not the model citizen who had “turned his life around” and who is being made a martyr by the misinformed.  He was a career criminal.  He was high on Fentanyl and methamphetamine, trying to pass a counterfeit bill when accosted by police.   A video clearly shows him handcuffed, sitting against a wall and secretly dropping a packet of white powder behind his back when police weren’t looking. While the left screams of intentional murder, It is not clear if the policeman intended to kill him.  The video makes policeman Derek Chauvin appear to be showing off.  Any evidence of an intentional murder is, at the most, unclear. Maybe we should let the courts decide.

It appears that George Floyd was no hero and Derek Chauvin no saint.  Should justice be served? Certainly. Did Floyd deserve to die?  Certainly not. The left now agitates to “Defund The Police.”  That is tantamount to sinking an ocean liner because one is mistreated by a crew member.  Yet it seems clear that this incident involved a career criminal and an idiotic cop.

During this President’s term, we have seen outlandish charges leveled by liberals and the press on every single day.  The Senate Judiciary hearings for Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh were an embarrassment and a complete disregard for our legal and time-honored presumption of innocence.  Trump’s impeachment proceeding was a shameful travesty.  The pandemic of Covid-19 unleashed accusations of poor leadership.  And now rioting, which seems directed at businesses in an attempt to curtail the resurgence of the economy.  Do you see a pattern in all of this?dbsig2

Those of us who have watched elections down through the decades are familiar with what is called an October Surprise.  The disloyal opposition has managed several of them in the past four years.  Only God knows what October will bring.

My Calm In The Middle

LogoCommonSense2I’ve never wanted CommonSense to be an “advice column.”  I’ve always felt capable of having ideas, but never skilled enough to know what’s best for others. Maybe that’s because I’ve always believed you can decide that for yourselves.  I’m afraid I’ll always have more questions for you than answers.

Does it seem to you that in a crisis, people tend to act and react in an “only two choices” mode? And do you believe that real life is seldom that way?  Does it usually turn out, after the fact, that there were hundreds of possibilities?  And when you found the answer, was it ever, in your life, one of the first two choices you considered?

Do you suspect there is a “thinking trap” into which we often fall?  The sort of thinking that imprisons us, believing our choices are between the devil and the deep blue sea.  This—or that.  Politics and public issues tend to be a good example of this: Republican or Democrat.  Liberal or Conservative.  Hawk or Dove.  Let me ask you about that, and how you think it applies to our current “emergency.”.

We often fall into this “dichotomy dilemma” by watching television, social media or reading a nationally syndicated newspaper.  Take “scientific research” as opposed to “anecdotal evidence,” for example.  If you hear a story about a doctor who has cured Covid-19 cases using hydroxychloroquine, you can bet good money that you’ll next hear a scientist saying it’s only anecdotal evidence.  It’s not scientifically proven.

Now I have a barrel of respect for science, along with a pinch or two of salt.  The good thing about scientists is that they always get smarter, given time.  The unfortunate thing is how many times they’re wrong in between.

Anecdotal evidence isn’t always wrong, any more than scientific research is always correct.  When Paul Revere rode through Lexington and Concord, warning “The British are coming,” he was operating on purely anecdotal evidence. Somebody told him about it and, having good horse sense, he jumped on a horse.

Context is often critical.  Abraham Lincoln often told this story: A law-abiding citizen once found himself looking down the barrel of a gun. According to Lincoln, this attacker severely underestimated his target, who lunged forward and took the weapon. “Stop!” hollered the crook. “Give me back that pistol; you have no right to my property!”  Context is often critical.

If a speechifying politician pounds his fist in Congress, telling us that our friend from yesterday is now an enemy, we’ll probably want to think about it.  But if a family member awakens us in the middle of the night shouting “The house is on fire!” we will likely accept the anecdotal evidence.

Does it seem to you that in our hometowns, we tend to consider context when we hear a story?  Maybe that’s because we have the context.  Maybe it’s because we know these people and only rarely do we talk with Senators over the back fence. Isn’t it almost always the case that when we want to find truth we seldom find it on the ends but somewhere in the middle? 

So when we’re told that “new coronavirus cases are increasing,” do we examine the context? Do we consider that testing  for coronavirus is also on the rise?  When someone tells us that sunshine kills the virus, we probably don’t rush naked into the streets, but we might sit out in the yard for an hour or so with our clothes on.  dbsig2We probably figure the sunlight isn’t going to kill us any faster than it has in the past.  That’s anecdotal, of course.  Are we careful about getting too close to other people, and do we wash our hands?  Seems like it worked for the common cold, tuberculosis and Ebola.  That’s operating on the anecdotal comfort of our lives and experience.  That’s horse sense.

After talking this over, you have convinced me that the truth is somewhere in the middle and we’re going to feel collectively foolish about the current crisis.  We’ll blame someone for it.


Avoid Coronavirus Death Rays

LogoCommonSense2Normally I don’t watch much television.  Only three of us live here.  Saint Mary, Joe The Dog and me.  In these days of governmentally forced imprisonment, someone likes to leave the TV on as “background” and it’s not the dog.

As a consequence, I’m exposed to a virus on the outside and indoor media manipulation when I walk through the living room or kitchen.  I’ve stayed inside too long because I’m beginning to feel as though death rays are being emitted from that talking box.  In a way, it’s true.

There are more commercials than in previous decades.  I haven’t set a stopwatch to it yet, but I believe the actual air time of any program, including the news, now consists of more commercials than the actual broadcast they promised me.  I suppose I could get one of those Tivo things and avoid commercials.  But why should I have to lay out the investment when I didn’t invite them in?  If the Fuller Brush Man knocked on my door and asked me to let him show me all his brushes, I’d say “No, thank you” and shut the door.  Why do zillions of us passively allow this home invasion by death rays? 

You may now realize that commercials annoy me no end.  Not because they’re trying to sell me something, but because they didn’t ask to come in and they entered with deception. At least the brush salesman would have told me what he’s up to, out there at my front door.  In these times of misguided lockdowns, every commercial I see or hear tells me, in one way or another, that we’re all in this together.  We’re not.  Saint Mary, Joe The Dog and I are in this together.  Ford Motor Company has never set foot in this house.  Neither has Viacom, which airs the most commercial minutes per hour, according to the folks who analyze that sort of thing.  Why do they speak of “we,” as though we are intimate friends?  I would think if we’re that close, they’d at least offer me a stock option. That would set the stage for a much friendlier relationship.

Today, every commercial assures me that, during this terrible crisis, their company is here to help me.  That’s shameless.  They want me  to help them. And they’re not here, they’re there.   All I want is for them to fess up and admit it.  If they were here, as they claim to be, we could have a conversation based on honesty, like with the Fuller Brush Guy.  But they’re not, so my solution is to hold up a foil turkey roasting pan to avoid the death rays while I’m in the kitchen.

The smartest thing most of us could do is turn off the television and read a book.

This odd national scare we’ve had will pass.  I suspect most of us will feel foolish dbsig2about it before too much time goes by. We are in this together, you and me.  I’m not selling anything other than ideas.  If you’re as old as me, stay safe.  If you’re young and healthy, stop worrying and enjoy your life.  I realize you have no idea who the Fuller Brush Man is, but take care around older people and help to protect us.  Our later years may be valuable to you.  And we’re honestly here to help.