Sunday, December 23, 2012

The real problem is the NRA...


The NRA finally spoke out this week about what they see as the solution to gun violence. It amounts to getting more cigarettes into the hands of cancer patients. It is ridiculous and off putting to intelligent people as well as inflaming towards the families who have lost loved ones in this and other recent GUN attacks.

Putting guns in the schools is not a solution. It is a band aide for what ails. Us. Too much violence in our society, too easy access to weapons that are not needed and with ammunition clips that are far too voluminous to be of any use other than killing other humans.

A deer hunter never carries rounds of twenty-five plus rounds per clip into the deer stand. That would not be sport. And just so we are clear, we are not advocating the removal of anyone’s sports rifles from their homes. Nor their shotguns nor their hand guns, so long as none of these carry a magazine of more than six shots. And they are locked up in a gun safe. And they are registered and titled and must be each and every time they are sold or given as a gift, just a car is.

What the NRA did was shoot America the finger and say, “Fuck you America, we are bigger, stronger and better financed than you. So fuck you.”

Well, NRA, I’m afraid that this time, you are on the wrong side of history. You are about to go the way of the dinosaur. Hold on, it is going to be a bumpy and dreadfully ugly ride for you. And it may hurt quite a bit.  But you are going down.

We had hoped the NRA would, with some sound reasoning come out against assault weapons, (Which by the way, 60% of their member ship agree should be banned) and against the high capacity ammunition clips. It is just common sense. The idea of more guns in schools and public places is ridiculous. Ft. Hood where a massacre of 16 occurred is a military base full of armed personnel, so more guns in trained hands isn't the answer.


But the NRA and its head, Wayne LaPierre, do not seem blessed with even a modicum of common sense. Not even a small dose of it.

In fact, if you were an outside looking in, you would have witnessed their press conference and sworn that LaPierre was the crazy one — the nut case. The lunatic. Because he sounded like it. Just like Mike Huckabee and others did with claims that it was God’s revenge, or women’s fault, or any number of half-baked, half-cocked ideas to turn the argument away from the real problem. We have too many guns in our society. And we have too many crazies not getting proper mental health care.

When those two problems come together we get massacres like Sandy Hook. And America is tired of it. NRA, take notice, you are in our sites.

It is time to face the real problems.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The GOP blinked.


In the negotiations on the Fiscal Cliff that looms ahead of us, President Obama made two huge consolatory moves to bring the GOP into the circle.

One was to lower spending drastically in entitlement programs, especially social Security (So much so that it pissed his own part off) and the second was a huge compromise on taxes that met the GOP over half-way on their plan. Then the GOP balked. 

So President Obama has said, “Okay, you don’t want to come to the table like adults, we’ll treat you like the children you acting as…we withdraw our compromises.  The crash in on your head, GOP.” 

And the next time some dumb ass form the Republican right says that Obama caused the collapse, look ‘em in the eye and call them a lair. Because they are. He has met the GOP well over on their side of the line and the retreated even further.

It is time the truth be told. The GOP doesn’t care about America. It cares about two things. Helping the wealthiest 5% in America and trying to retain power with a shrinking base.

The GOP doesn’t care about America. It doesn’t care about the American worker. It doesn’t care about anything that helps people…if those people make less than $400,000 a year.

And, by the way, if you are a woman, the GOP doesn’t care at all about you.

If you vote for or support a Republican candidate, you are part of the problem.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No pain. No gain.


In his New York Times editorial, Juliet Lapidos hit the nail on the head:

Who’s to Blame for the Fiscal Cliff Impasse?


"Republicans are trying to blame the apparent impasse in fiscal cliff negotiations on President Obama and the Democrats.

"Earlier today, Speaker John Boehner projected wildly in conversation with reporters: “I did my part; they’ve done nothing. I’m convinced that the president is unwilling to stand up to his own party.”

"And Mitch McConnell, the Senate G.O.P. leader, reached for an extended, extremely confusing sports metaphor: “They’ve been playing Lucy and the football with the American people for months. They’ve said no to every single proposal that’s been offered to avoid this tax hike—including their own. They’re running out the clock. Moving the goal posts. Sitting on their hands. They aren’t doing anything.”

"One cannot move the goal posts while sitting on one’s hands, but regardless, the notion that the president has “done nothing” is patently untrue.

"Mr. Obama said repeatedly during the campaign that tax rates should rise on income over $250,000. After winning re-election, he proposed raising $1.6 trillion in new revenue. Then he moved the goal posts to $1.4 trillion. Then $1.2 trillion. He also offered a new tax hike threshold of $400,000, essentially re-defining what it means to be wealthy. Mr. Obama even suggested limiting the growth of Social Security benefits, despite the fact that, less than a month ago, he said Social Security would not factor into deficit negotiations.

"The goal posts have moved: 400 billion dollars closer to the Republicans."

Now here is why the President is not compromising further:



He won and he won big. And his campaign was about being reasonable when it comes to taxes and spending.

It is time for the GOP to recognize they lost the election and if they plan to ever win another, they better get to work with this President and fix the financial crisis that faces America.  He has already compromised. It is time for the Republicans to do likewise. Otherwise, I am afraid that the American public, who in recent polls voted 2-1 that the GOP was the problem in the financial negotiating process, will see to it that the GOP loses even more face than they did in last November’s elections.

Here is some advice for both the White House and Congress: Raise revenues. Cut spending‑ but do not take a slashing knife to Social Security or Medicare. There are other places that need cutting first. Remember, Social Security is not supposed to be part of the general fund to begin with and was only made so because Congress couldn’t balance a budget without it.

But if you have to cut into entitlement programs do so in a way that people who are depending on them now and in the next five to ten years suffer the least and other who have the time, can pay into them to build them back up. As the economy improves, you are going to see a lot of the deficit come down. And if you have slashed the muscle out of some of these programs they will never be back to the strength they need to be to assist all Americans.

As for our national health insurance, cut the Pentagon budget deeply before you touch that.
And throw Grover’s pledge out. It is un American and not working in the best interest of our country. We are all going to have to shoulder some of the burden. That means all of us will have to pay higher taxes. That comes with the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. It is time to get out of it. It is bad medicine, and tough to swallow, but it is what will cure us. 

Now get on with the business of doing what we sent you there to do. Grow the hell up and run the country…together. Not as parties, but as grown, adult Americans.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No guns on set…or…rewrite the scene with the gunfight.



Hollywood bares responsibility for the gun-toting images that infect our society. The violence they paint with such lavish brush strokes on the silver screen and on our TV screens is as much a part of the problem in our society as the guns themselves. We have become a society that glorifies violence. And TV and movies play a huge role in that

We have created the gun as the answer in our dramas. We have condoned violence to the point that it is now accepted. Anti-social behavior is the norm and is called out as the way to be. The weirder the better; the scarier the more wonderful; the bloodier the bolder— that’s Hollywood. Imagination has been left behind to the history files of Hitchcock and other directors who allowed audiences to build the dark side of the story in their own minds, not having it shoved in front of our eyes in bloody Technicolor. Now we’re shown every flake of brain bits from every gunshot in our movies— some in slow motion. More arms. Bigger arms. More killings. Welcome to the world of Hollywood and the gun — where art imitates real life.

I am no prude. I don’t want there to be censorship in America.

But I have taken my own steps to help bring order and civility back into art. I have removed the gun violence out of my books. I have taken the crazy, unabashed criminals and their street-talking language far from the crime scenes in my works. In fact, I destroyed two books of a trilogy simply because I felt they had become too dark and served no purpose other than to tease the reader with violence and death. (This actually occurred after the Aurora, Colorado shootings. I could no longer stomach being a part of the problem of glorifying violence in our society.) If there is going to be a crime solved in my work from now on, it will be solved with the brain, not the bullet. It may be a small step, but I will not longer be a part of the machine that idolizes this conduct in America.

And Hollywood should follow suit.

Just as the NRA will scream bloody murder and kick and pout like a child over gun legislation, the forces along Sun Set Strip and in Culver City and in the studios in the Burbank valley will cry foul, too, when the nation wants their movies and TV shows changed. But it is time we look at all our media squarely in the eye and raise the question and concern if it is enticing young minds to act in criminally insane ways. “Putting a cap” into someone’s head is easy language to digest and incorporate into culture. Our art needs to take a higher road.

The road we are on is driving us to ruin.

Just as there are those who believe PORN warps minds of young viewers and should be limited if not removed all together; evil violence does the same. And when it is so prevalent as to seem like it is being worshiped, then those portraying that violence in and to our society have become a huge part of the problem.

Instead, we must depict how we work out our differences peacefully, rationally and with emotions in check. This is rarely glorified in film. It is NOT as exciting as a shoot’ em up. The blast of automatic weapons is fun and exhilarating. It is like watching a train wreck.

Perhaps this is why our entre society has become so uncivil (myself included) and contentious in every discussion. Reality TV has set up quarrelling and fighting as good TV scripting. Mechanics in a motorcycle shop or chefs in a kitchen getting into arguments and fighting over the wrong nut or nutmeg have become high art in America. Violence, in all forms, corrupts the mind.

I was watching TV the other night, and right in the middle of the national coverage of the horrific disaster in Newtown, there was a promo for Cowboy week at Christmastime.  A shoot and be shot-filled week of rifles, pistols and people going down in a blaze of gunfire featured on TV.

Really?  We needed that at that time?  Really?

And the news channels don’t get off without some scorn here, either. They have all plastered the killer’s picture and name on their screens and devoted entire segments of their evening and morning news shows to him, his family history and the role his disease may or may not have played in this massacre.

Quit giving these shooters airtime.

That is what they are hoping for. To go out in a blaze of headlines and TV coverage. Wall them off from coverage. We don’t need this information. And they need to know they will NOT become famous posthumously for killing a school-full or theater-full of innocent people; then shooting themselves. Instead, they will remain faceless, nameless people. They will not be remembered in the media or in the minds of the country. That is the last thing these crazies want. They want the notoriety. Let’s not give it to them on the evening news.

So I call for the writers, producers, directors and actors to re-examine their scripts and the messages they are putting out about the glorified violence in our society. It is time we heal rather than fight. Time we stage a come back for common sense. Just as more guns in society is not the logical answer for our problems, more violence on our screens isn’t either.

And Hollywood don’t cry First Amendment Rights!!!…because remember, the NRA is crying Second Amendment Rights!!!! just as loudly.

And you both are wrong.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I lost a friend today because of guns.



I apparently alienated an old friend yesterday with my notion that America needs to sit down and have a rational discussion about guns. That old friend was outraged at me

 He yelled, “You are trying to ruin America.”

I told him I was looking for a rational discussion and ideas to help solve the ever- increasing gun violence epidemic that grips our country…and he all but yelled at me… that Obama and I were after his guns, as if he were the only person in the world with guns. I explained to him it was not the case, but he railed on. 

I finally told him to either shut up or hang up. I wasn’t going to talk with him any longer. He had had a chance to say his piece, he had done it and I still thought we as a people should come together and talk about this issue, rationally and calmly. There are great ideas floating around, many of which I have shared in the last few days at this blo9f and other sites that are good thought-starters.

But if you are going to be so closed-minded as to shout and call the President and me pejoratives, I have no use for you any longer.

 I now have one less friend.

 I don’t care.

There comes a time when you have to stand up and be counted on, to do what is right.  If I lose a friend because of that, so be it.

We still need to come together and discuss this. Rationally and creatively and openly. We need gun owners and gun advocates and sportsmen and farmers and ranchers and law-enforcement officers, anti-gun folks and gun restriction folks as well as members of both parties from Congress and the Senate plus judges and lawyers to sit together and talk about this.

 We need solutions. But we need to start.

 I am lighter one less friend today. It is sad, but not nearly as sad as 20 dead children at the hands of a crazy man and his guns in Sandy Hook.

Too many guns. Too many excuses.

-->
This is an argument setting forth on the web in great volume.

AMENDMENT II

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

We do not have a well regulated militia
Top of Form.”

We do have a well-regulate militia...it is called the National Guard and they do not need citizens with assault rifles...or guns with twenty-plus round clips...When the 2nd Amendment was written we had no organized citizen soldiers like the Guard...but we do now, so we need to revise our unrestricted gun ownership laws to reflect the times in wihch we live now. Not in the 1700's. 

Guns are fine...let's license them like cars... like planes...like a million other things that have to be registered.

If every time a gun is sold or changes hands a title has to be drafted and logged in and registered, if there was a 28-day waiting period for background checks and metal stability checks, if we had a limit as to the amount of guns bought and sold in a year and the types (we do not need assault rifles… period nor do we need huge magazines for handguns…) the we can start to limit the amount of damage and carnage created like we saw in Sandy Hook. 

We will never stop all killing…but we can limit the amount by limiting the access to guns and bullets.  I recently wrote that if someone wants to perform sport shooting I am fine with that. No problems. Hunting, too. But that can be done simply enough with registered, insured, titled guns. In fact, sport shooters could join clubs and keep their firearms locked up safely at the club where only the member and the club pro could have access to them. Again, not denying the shooters their guns, but denying access to crazies trying to get guns.

These are the thoughts (starters only) we need to have in our nation about the control of guns.  Many have written me in support of what I have said and a few (very few) have written, pushing back.  I expect some push back. But every time I get push back I think of those 20 innocent faces of the children murdered in that school and think….enough.

I like to shoot guns. I’m quite good at skeet. I was trained well. And it is fun. Shooting is supposed to be fun. And safe. But driving is too and yet, we can title, license and insure automobiles and drivers…why not guns?

Back to original argument…We have a well-regulated militia in America now. Why do we need so many guns? The intent of the law has been fulfilled. The amount of the guns supported by the law is ridiculous.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Here is why we must have gun contol.

Here is all you need to know why we must have gun control...

‎1. Charlotte Bacon (DOB 2/22/06)

2. Daniel Barden (9/25/05)

3. Rachel Davino (7/17/83)

4. Olivia Engel (7/18/06)

5. Josephine Gay (12/11/05)

6. Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06)

7. Dylan Hockley (3/8/06)

8. Dawn Hocksprung (6/28/65)

9. Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06)

10. Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06)

11. Chase Kowalski (10/31/05)

12. Jesse Lewis (6/30/06)

13. James Mattioli (3/22/06)

14. Grace McDonnell (11/04/05)

15. AnneMarie Murphy (07/25/60)

16. Emilie Parker (5/12/06)

17. Jack Pinto (5/6/06)

18. Noah Pozner (11/20/06)

19. Caroline Previdi (9/7/06)

20. Jessica Rekos (5/10/06)

21. Avielle Richman (10/17/06)

22. Lauren Russeau (6/1982)

23. Mary Sherlach (2/11/56)

24. Victoria Soto (11/4/85)

25. Benjamin Wheeler (9/12/06)

26. Allison N. Wyatt (7/3/06)



Guns don't kill people...they just make it real easy to kill people.


Last Thursday ( a little over a week ago) I wrote a daily blog concerning violence in our country‑ violence with guns. In the blog I was calling for a nationwide discussion of the second amendment and what the intent of that amendment, when it was written, meant.  I decided not to publish that blog that day. Then as of yesterday, with the horrible news from the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, I could no longer stand by without saying what I think.

I think that either:

(A) The founding fathers got it wrong when considering the second amendment or

(B) we have misconstrued what they wanted to protect by being so overboard in our protection of guns as to become stupid in our protection of our people.

In either case, I think we need a national conversation about guns and gun ownership and the Constitution.

I have been a sportsman all my life. I have hunted. I am a fairly good skeet shooter. And have over the years owned a lot of different guns. I am no longer sure I support the Second Amendment as it is being interpreted in America today. Friends of mine said, ”John you can make this a crusade. Too many guns out there. Too much control by the NRA. Too much money against you.”  Tell that to the twenty grieving parents in in Connecticut this morning. If we don’t start we will never get it done. If we take that advice my friends gave me— if we had gone down that road 150 years ago…then slavery would never have been abolished.  Wrongs have to be righted. And out-of-control gun violence must be stopped.

Lets get together and discuss guns. Rationally and without yelling and screaming. Lets discuss the code of conduct with guns and the society stung with the violence that comes about from guns. Lets find a way to end this senseless killing.

I heard a line from a movie the other night being repeated by two small boys playing in our neighborhood.  “I’m gonna put a cap in your head, man.”  One of them said. They were talking about shooting each other but the language is so loose and so street-level that the act of killing someone has been reduced to ease of spiting out a window.

The gunman in Connecticut didn’t put a cap in 26 heads. He took 26 innocent lives. There’s a big difference. One is a non-thought The other is murder. They are both acts of murder.  On the same day as the Connecticut shootings, in China a deranged man attacked 33 children at an elementary school. No one, as of this writing, was dead in that attack. Why? Because he used a knife. Knives are harder to kill people with. Knives versus guns? It is going to be a hard discussion, America. But we need to have it.

And don’t tell me guns don’t kill people.  A semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster rifle and two 9 mm’s killed 27 in Connecticut elementary school yesterday.







Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Where was the act of a militia yesterday?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What to do before the world ends on the 21st.


I have been wondering what I should do before December 21, 2012— the end of the world as the Mayans knew it.  I could take a quick trip to Europe. See pris one last time. Visit London. Go hang out with the Germans.  Or, I could go to the Great Wall of China. Maybe I could go take out the idiot in North Korea.  Or the ones in Iran.  No, they deserve to suffer like the rest of us will. I could visit Africa or South America. I could go surfing in Australia or New Zealand. Maybe take a dip in the Indian Ocean in Aceh.

There’s lots to do.

I could go and take a swing at Mitch McConnell. Or take a shot at Rush Limbaugh… proverbial or otherwise.  Hannity, too. I could go to Lake Louise in Canada or to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Maybe do some fly fishing in Scotland.

I could lease a new Ferrari. Who cares, I’m not going to have to pay for it. Jump in and drive it like mad. Ferris Bueller’s day off like mad. I could kidnap a Hollywood movie star and make her dance for me on a brass pole. (Does my wife get this blog?)

I could take all my money out of the bank, buy a bunch of food and feed all the poor I could find for one day. Maybe two.  I would need some help, so keep the 20th and 21st open.

If the world was going to end on 12.21.12, I could watch my top ten movie list one last time: I’d start with number ten — Toy Story and end up at number one — Shawshank  Redemption. I could reread Gone With the Wind. But why? I could take a long walk through a national park; say Zion for example.

I could sit and watch all the hoards of people fighting each other, trying to escape the coming doom.  Maybe I would buy a video camera and record their antics for some lost space traveler who might stumble upon the planet in say 2895.

I could set sail on the Gulf in a stolen yacht. Who cares if they chase you and try and catch you? The end of the world is just hours away.  Maybe I would go and free all the prisoners in all the prisons around the world. Maybe I would cook a giant meal and invite my friends over.

Maybe I would take a nap. All this planning is making me tired.  If I miss you on the 21st, have a good hereafter. If we are both still around on the 22nd, the Ferrari is your problem…I’m telling them you stole it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quit stalling and start working together.


I am waiting on the Republican Party to understand they did NOT win the election. While they still hold a majority in the house, they actually lost ground there, too. But still no resolve to solve the country’s financial crisis with compromise.  No wonder the President is digging his heels in and being tough.

The other side is obstinate and unyielding.

I give the Speaker credit for restructuring committees and taking Tea Party stalwarts off financial posts and placing more, levelheaded folk in those positions – men who understand that revenue generation will have to happen and that means new taxes.  The followers of Grover Norquist are mistaken and wrong.  And I am even believing they are slightly un-American in their view of the future of this country.

And I also give the Speaker kudos for trying to negotiate with the White House on a path to getting us out of this crisis. But the party behind the Speaker is being just as stupid as they were before the election. America wants a change.  They want all Americans to pay their fair share.  Key word there is FAIR.  One needs only to read Warren Buffett to realize that the rich can afford more — and they get more out of the  infrastructure of the nation that the average citizen.

Arguments have been made on both sides of the question about lower taxes for the wealthy generating more jobs.  We haven’t seen in in the last five years, so it must not be working. It didn’t work under Reagan, Bush I or Bush II. But the right wants to believe that lower taxes for the Daddy Warbucks of America will generate great prosperity for us all.  (Ain’t gonna happen.) Besides the right wants to strip America of the entitlements it has paid into…Social Security and Medicare: both of which need restructuring to be sure, but not wholesale dismantling as some on the far-right would have you believe. We are “entitled to these things, because we have paid for them. They are not freebie handouts to a slothful society. Far from it. They are part of a whole network of payments entrusted to Congress on the behalf of the American Taxpayer, which Congress has squandered away.

But the right would make you think that people wanting the entitlements are a bunch of non-working, freeloaders. Hey, Rush, look at our paychecks and see the withholdings for FICA, et al., and then tell us we are freeloaders. American is made up of hard working men and women who have paid into the system and who expect that system to return to them the funds the entrusted it with.

 The “Cliff” is looming.  If we get there without an accord, the finger can only be pointed in one direction: Toward Congress. It has done little if anything, to show that it is willing to work for America and not for the “causes” that propelled it to the most expensive loss in U.S. electoral history.

Come on Republicans, let’s roll up our sleeves and work out a compromise. We need new and more revenue and we need to cut spending.  We need reform on both sides of the ledger.  Not just one.  But both. 

Give us a solution and the American people with their resilient American spirit will make it work. But remember, not all Americans are country-club, yacht-owning-high-net-worth individuals with tons of cash buried off shore out of sight from the IRS. Some are just hard-working middle class families trying to make a go of it. 

Oh, I forgot, your party walked away from them…haven’t you?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It is not what you do, but how you do it.


The measure of a person is not what he or she has done, not what they have accomplished, but how hard, how diligent they were in working toward their goals.

I read those words in a book the other day as I waited to go into an appointment and I thought of all the times people have set out to try an accomplish something grand, only to discover a new path to somewhere new or to refine an old path to a place many have been before, but never looked at it in the same light.

The trick with life is that it is not about the destination it is all about the journey. The Nookta tribe of Native Americans call it the Great Way: the path that we must all travel in our lifetime toward whatever end— whatever goal there is awaiting for us.  Our measure is not how fast we get there, not how brilliantly we finish, but rather how strong we are on the entire journey.

Perhaps in Western Civilization, we are far too concerned with being judged along the journey rather than moving along it learning from our mistakes and our victories.  There is too much emphasis placed on judgment from afar by some spirit that is going to eventually send us to either heaven or hell. And in so doing, we have become a narcissistic society, interested in saving our own skin, rather than sharing what we have learned on our own journeys, so that others' lives might be fulfilled as well. What we set out to accomplish is of little value to the total purpose of the Great Way, but rather what we deliver to others as we move along its indelible pathway.

This is a holiday time where we celebrate the birth and life of Christ, who himself talked over and over about giving and sharing to others: the very essence of the journey along the Great Way. It is about the movement down that path, rather than the ultimate goal of that path, that is so vital to each of us.  We should not miss a day enjoying it, reveling in it and even understanding its lessons, both hard-learned and joyous.  In life and in death, in sickness, sorry and in health and celebration, the Great Way is a passage for us all to grow in and to share from.

So perhaps this crazy holiday season we should slow down. Stop even. And enjoy the moment. Remember friends. Remember family. Share in the delights of the world around us.  And look as far down the Great Way as we must, to set our sights on the steps we will take that day and then in later days, knowing not when the last steps each of us will take along the path. But remembering that in each step we take, we grow and we share the knowledge of that growth with those around us.

The measure of a person is really not in what they accomplished, but in what they shared from their experiences. My wish for all of you, is that you get to share richly with others and do so with an open heart and an open mind to receive back from them, the lessons they, too, have learned along the way.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Alzheimer's vs Jimbo


I received an invitation the other day to appear on a radio show in a city far to our north. They had read my PR about the release of my new novel, The Myth Makers and wanted me on the show.  As I talked with the producer, I realized I knew her from somewhere. Finally I asked her if she had a brother named Jimbo?  And she laughed and said, “Yes, but I haven’t heard him called that since I left Austin.”  Come to find out, she was the baby sister of a good friend of mine from UT days…that’s something like a million years ago.

I asked about her brother and she told me he was not doing well. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s’ and was in its very late stages. I asked her about her other brother, Tom and she said he had been giving his brother care around the clock ever since he had become so ill. 

I called Tom and introduced myself. He remembered me and I told him of getting his name and number from Sally and then I asked if I could see Jimbo if not but for a moment. Tom said it would be possible. He gave me their address and I went to their house a day or two later when I was in Austin.

Something rather strange happened. As soon as I walked in the room Jimbo recognized me and even called out to me. “Crawley!  You old rascal, you.” His brother and the nurse there in the room were both shocked.  We spoke a few sentences together and hugged like old college buds will do. Then the gray curtain came back down and he had no more an idea of who I was than a brick wall. But for that instant he remembered me and called out my name.

Later, Tom said that moment was like a small miracle. “We live for those. Just to know that deep inside there, he’s still with us. Somehow and at some level.”  I didn’t stay long.  I had pressing engagements elsewhere, but it was such a great gift for Jimbo to have called out my name and remembered me, if not for but the briefest of instances.

Alzheimer’s is a dreaded disease.  It robs one of the most vital of all our organs — the brain. My close friend Stephen Woodfin has written about it a length in his novels and participates in fund raising and awareness for a cure for this thoughtless killer. His work opened my eyes to the plight of families facing such horrors. The tales he tells are sad and lonely.  But that day — that instant with Jimbo, gave me and those in the room a moment of victory in a losing war. For one instant we had a beachhead.  We had a minute of joy…of remembrance.

Jimbo will not be with us long. His passing will be sad. But of all the things he and I did in school (some of which I cannot print in this article) of all the things we shared, the thing I will remember the most is his looking up from a blank stare as I entered his room and him calling out, “Crawley! You old rascal.” Somewhere deep inside we had a bond strong enough to overcome even the onset and destruction of brain cells caused by this silent killer. Jimbo’s mind triumphed that afternoon. And he gave us all a little joy.

My hope is we can find a cure or prevention for this disease. I know Woodfin is working hard at it. And I, too, will pick up the mantle. If for no other reason than Jimbo Evans remembered me, and I want to some how do something to remember him.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kate's going to have a baby. Big deal.


Kate is pregnant. Whoopee. Hurray.  Way to go, Brits!

Enough already.  The TODAY show on NBC lead off their morning news with her emergence from a London hospital. So what?

I do not want to hear about Kate and her baby to be for the next nine months. That would lead us up right to the beginning of the pre-pre-primary movements for the 2016 Presidential elections.

Enough already. I must say the press in this country is truly led by a heard mentality and of the lowest common denominator. Marion Wise is pregnant, too.  She is not getting headlines. Yes, Kate’s child could well be Queen of England some day (or King for that matter), but WE ARE NOT ENGLISH.  We fought the bastards to get rid of the monarchy.  I don’t want to hear about them every morning over cereal at breakfast.

So here was the line up of stories this morning on the news;

Kate leaves hospital.
A quick primer on British law allowing the child regardless of gender to assume the             mantle of head of the British empire.
Typhoon kills more than 200.
Budget crisis looms….

See my point?  Kate and the baby?  Really?

It takes nine months to squeeze a little squirming nugget out.  I don’t want the next nine months filled with daily and hourly reports of the Duchess of Cambridge’s health and the baby’s every kick.  Let me know when the baby comes. That will be all for now.

Let’s get back to some real news.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The GOP needs a big dose of common sense

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I was trying to decide what to write today.

You see, there was a lot to choose from.  Yesterday there was an article about a Republican representative from Georgia making it known that even though he was on the science committee; he thinks a lot of science is straight from “the pits of hell.”  There’s a man with a mind screwed on straight. And then there was the article about the Republicans voting down the U.N. disability treaty that their own Bob Doyle came onto the floor of Congress in a wheelchair to advocate. The radical right felt like it was infringing on the rights of families?  Really? Have they actually read the act?  Doubtful. It is about helping those with disabilities, just like our own Americans With Disabilities Act protects. The UN version would make it active the world over. But some nut job from Utah is afraid it is going to give Ugandans the right to come to America and put our families in jail. For a state that doesn’t drink a lot, these guys sure think like their minds are made of sour mash.

I was trying to decide which stupidity of the GOP would get my wrath today and I decided that neither deserved it.

The GOP has gone so far overboard to the extremes of the “Christian Right” and the No-Taxes at any costs party, that it is ludicrous to even consider them thoughtful members of our society. Unfortunately they still have enough votes to control certain acts in our legislative process.  Something we will need to change rapidly in the up-coming, mid-term elections.

We need to rid ourselves of the no-tax, science-hating, fear-mongering, build-the- Pentagon-budget-on-the-backs-of-poor-folks, limit-those-who-can-vote, pledge allegiance to Grover Norquist, abortion-is-the-only-issue-I-care-about Republicans. 

Where have the truly smart conservatives gone?  Where is the leadership we expected to emerge?  Did the GOP not learn anything from the 2012 election? Their platform went down in flames. Instead of sound judgment, we get the silly-ass Michelle Bachman’s and the likes of her Tea Party stalwarts still trying to make headlines in Washington.  Enough America. Let’s get rid of these radicals.
It is time for common sense in Washington.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Knock. Knock. Who's there?...Wait, I don't give a damn.

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This is the season that door-to-door canvassers seem to be out collecting for every possible cause under the sun. The cure to diaper rash, the prevention of nighttime sunburn, The collection for orphans and widows in Beverly Hills. You name it and there is an organization collecting for it.  Why door-to-door?  I found out the other day.

A young man, nicely dressed and with good elocution came to our door and after our dog settled down and decided not to rip his face off, we had a brief conversation. He was raising money for inner city kids to study abroad. Let me think about that for a moment. At first blush it sounds like a good idea. Kids from poor families who might not have a chance to go abroad to see the museums, the cathedrals; to experience the architecture, the art, the languages…Why yes, that would be a grand idea. To broaden a few kids’ worldview. What was wrong with that?

I asked the name of the organization and he stuttered something like the Greater Texas Child Development and Education Fund. I had never heard of it, but then again, I hadn’t heard of half of the causes that come to our door — like the International Prevention of Leopard Spot Changing. I asked the young man if he had any information on his group and he said he did not, but he did offer that he, himself, was planning on going to England, if he could raise enough points. 

“How do raise points?” I asked. (Wrong thing to ask. You are locked into the giving cycle now.) He reached into an old sack he as using for a satchel and removed three bags of candy.  “Every bag of candy I sell I get two points. All I need is 5,000 points and I can spend six weeks studying in London.”

Wow, why haven’t I heard about this for my kids.  I would have gladly bought all the candy myself and sent them to Siberia for four years‑ without cell phones, of course.

I felt sorry for the kid so I bought three bags of his candy. Two sacks of  hard, peppermint swirls and one bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Grand total, $25 U.S. dollars.  Six points toward an education with a cockney accent.  Go get ‘em kid.

He left.  I handed the bag of Reese’s chocolate to my daughter who took a bite and immediately spit it out on the floor in disgust.  The candy was at least sixty years old.  It was horrible. The peppermints were no better.

It was a con job. Pure and simple deception. He probably had gotten the candy at Halloween in 1998 and had been planning this ruse ever since. So here is the bad thing.  A few days later a boy scout showed up at my door selling tickets to their annual pancake breakfast.  I now have a rule. We buy nothing…NOTHING…at our door from anyone.  Jesus could be selling salvation tickets and we are not interested. Period.

So the poor Boy Scouts lost out because of a jerk wad posing as a member of some Travel to Europe and Study Abroad group who sold us bogus candy.

Moral to this story:  You want a good education?  Get it in Dallas and let the English keep their schools to themselves.

I am going to be a scrooge this Christmas. Every benevolent society that comes knocking at our door gets a big resounding NO WAY, from me.  Sorry. Blame it on the kid with the stale candy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A little of this. A little of that. Happy Holidays.


Having a get together in the neighborhood and a lot of folks who have moved away are drifting back — it is a reunion of sorts. Good to see such wonderful old faces. Many of their children have grown up and moved on to careers. Others have children of their own now. It is a great comfort to see community this way. the passing of the torch...

The music tape has been made (yes we are old school and use a tape.) Blues, Christmas songs, classic rock and an occasional Frank Sinatra song sung off key fills the air.  As do salutes to the Sooners (which makes my blood boil) and to TCU (which almost does, too.)  But still, these are neighbors and God love ‘em they are good people.

Most believe Johnny “Football” Manzelle will win the Heisman trophy.  I think Kline from K State will.  All I know is that Texas should have been 11-1.  OU was the only team with better athletes than us this year. We just couldn’t block or tackle to save our lives.  Oh well, as the custom has become around Austin — next year. And how about Baylor…winning four of their last five games! Go bears! The bears are poised for great things also…next year.

Speaking of the Bears, my wife is sad, because the Bears from Baptistville ended the longest home court winning streak in NCAA basketball by beating UK Wildcats, yesterday in Lexington.

It’s the holiday season…fun and festive and lots of things to do. We’re having a great time this year.  Staying out of the maddening crowds at the mall and shopping on-line then sitting back and waiting for the UPS guy to navigate through the thickening traffic to find us. Oh technology…God love it!
 
For the first time in about two centuries, we do not have to travel this Christmas Season. Yeah!  I have become, since starting to work from my most comfortable home office, a homebody. I admit it and love it.

Well that’s all the ramblings I have on a Sunday morning. I hope you and yours are well and healthy.  And I hope you can enjoy friends and neighbors this season as we are going to.

Make PEACE your goal this year.

 Don;t forget to pick up your copy of my exciting new novel at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or lulu.com


Saturday, December 1, 2012

You want peace? Start acting like it.


I wrote about this the other day, but Israel has  to slow down its aggressive streak for the rest of the world to side with it.  We all know that Hamas is a bad, bad neighbor. No question. But Israel is acting a tad bit like the neighborhood bully.  As I said the other day, “Israel, get your head out of your ass. You want peace, back down a bit.” Continuing to force the issue by building in zones where both sides claim ownership, is a bit like saying, "...come on, let's fight."

I am not the only one saying this.

Here is the excerpt from CNN about Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks.

Washington (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Israel to reconsider plans to build thousands of homes in its occupied territory, saying it will set back efforts to bring about a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Clinton's comments Friday followed news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the construction of the new homes, a move widely viewed as retaliatory after the Palestinians won a United Nations bid to recognize their claim to become a "non-member observer state."

"In light of today's announcement, let me reiterate that this administration — like previous administrations — has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace," Clinton said in remarks delivered at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington.

Peace will only happen with the Palestinians and Arab states get rid of this notion that Israel should be pushed into the sea AND when Israel gets rid of the notion that it can do anything it damn well please with the Palestinians. 

There are two sides to this coin.