Skip to main content

Sun May 24, 2015 at 11:29 AM PDT

Memorial Day Lesson, with Steel Guitars

by B52D

In my early days of the Vietnam War, my crew and I slept on Guam, an island from which our B52s flew west day and night. Sometimes, our flying schedule left us some room to head to the airbase's beach, where the sand was creamy white, the San Miguel beer 15 cents a can, and where storm-battered speakers sent Hawaiian Steel guitar music, from high in the palms.  'Seems obscene, now.

A loner even then, I spread my tatami mat under a palm tree off the main beach, and savored silence. But along came six young women, not very tan. The lack of tan meant not stationed on the island. Visitors.  As they walked the beach, they collected the expected young men from the base, enjoying their day off now even more. One woman, a bit older, broke off the parade, and walked over. She asked, with a small smile, if all the shade was taken. She put down her beach towel.

She was a stewardess on a Boeing 707 Flying Tiger flight, on a layover in Guam. Yes, stewardess was still the term, in the late 1960s. She was from Chicago, and had been hired on at Flying Tiger a year before. She liked to fly, she said, with a sense of sadness I did not pursue. Tomorrow she and her crew would fly to Tan Son Nhut, and then back to the states. Flying Tiger was a contract carrier, transporting troops to Viet Nam, and then back home after their combat tours.

I asked her about her work, as we watched her sisters-in-flight laugh and flirt with their new beach buddies. “It's like two different worlds,” she said slowly. From the states, “Our passengers are so young, fresh-faced, friendly and eager to prove themselves in combat..

“On the way back out of country, a different kind of person comes aboard,” she continued. “They are tired, so much older, the light in their eyes so much dimmer than before. Some seem frantic, fastening and refastening their seat belts, as if to assure themselves that they are safe, in a stateside-bound aircraft. Others are completely silent, like zombies.”

“We try very hard to not let these seated passengers see our other passengers come aboard....the ones who go in the cargo hold, in their GI caskets. It takes a long time to load them all. But sometimes they do see them.”  Her face again registered sadness, a sadness I had not yet felt, certainly not under postcard palm trees, with Hawaiian Steel Guitars murmuring background to the surf.

It was not long afterward that friends of mine began boarding Flying Tiger flights back to the states, in the cargo hold. I would later see their names on the Viet Nam Wall in DC, and remember them in their green flight suits, at mission briefings, on the crew buses that dropped us off at our loaded B52s.

I will think of them and their chiseled names tomorrow. And I will also think of the sadness on the lady's face. On this Memorial Day, I wish her and all her passengers, well.


Wed Dec 24, 2014 at 01:39 AM PST

The Dogs of Christmas Past

by B52D

There was Ben, Smoky, Oscar, Shadow, Sydney, Jayda, and now Bryce.  It seems like a lot, especially since none lived to meet their successor. However, each of them was used or pre-owned, with unknown dog years on the meter, when we found them. get the idea.

I'm not one to rhapsodize about where they are now, but Christmas brings each one back in a unique way. 'Probably your past dogs live there, too, in memory.
The trigger to this pleasant procession begins when I unpack and hang the photo ornament of when I was the SPCA Santa, and my wife brought Sydney the Aussie to see Santa. That was easy to remember: Sydney knew me, under that sweaty, reeking costume, and thus Sydney did not pee on me as the camera flash went off. Many other dogs did, though. Hence the reek.

Sydney was a rebound dog. She was in the Yolo County CA pound, and a reporter friend called as she was perusing page proofs. She saw the “dogs-available” listings to be in the week's paper. There was a big hole in our lives then. A terrified Sydney meekly left the pound, got in the van's passenger seat, and slowly began filling that hole. She never stopped filling it, for all her years forward.   She thought the van's passenger seat was hers, and was greatly troubled each time my wife attempted to use it. She finally gave up (my wife), and sat in the back right seat. The seat of rank, she said.  Where the generals sat.  Ha!, said Sydney, riding shotgun with great authority.

One of our dogs loved presents. Or rather, the unwrapping of presents. The suspense, the sheer joy of tearing paper apart with tooth and nail, finally to reach that squeaky toy, or my new electric drill,  it made no difference. Pure joy to do, and for us to watch.

Shadow loved our cats. Every Christmas morning, the cats gathered with us near the Christmas tree. It might have been those new catnip toys. Shadow didn't care about the tree or presents. Her delight was that all three of her cats were there, too. Each got their present, a Shadow bath. They sat purring while she licked their faces, cleaned their ears, and nuzzled each one.

Oscar was a basset. Christmas afternoon meant a long, slow walk in the woods, where cottontail rabbits abound. It was a chance for Oscar to exercise his great nose and his bass voice. As dogs go, Oscar went at about idle. The rabbits didn't really run, but hopped ahead occasionally, just enough to keep out of sight of Oscar, who thought he was in high gear. After a few circuits, Oscar would rejoin us, pleased once again to have kept the wildlife from attacking his meal ticket.

Jayda liked caroling, and wore her Santa hat jauntily, as we serenaded neighbors on Christmas Eve. She came to us through Northern California Collie Rescue.  She was tri-colored, but a smooth coat, like a beagle. A disreputable breeder was encouraged to quit breeding in California, and she dumped her surplus dogs in the pound.  Jayda had spent her life on concrete and behind a chain link fence.  We taught her to jump, but she hated the beach, and refused to swim.  She gently herded our roaming wild turkeys, when I wasn't looking.  She had been partially debarked in her earlier life in the breeder's pen.  Alas, that scar tissue hastened her demise last year, from repeated aspirational pneumonia.  Definitely ours was her first Christmas, and it came with presents for her, including a really snazzy red raincoat, now a hand me down to Bryce, who came to us at six years.

This is Bryce's  first Christmas with us, but he came with presents. His previous owner was quite ill for a year, terminal, and had packed all six years of Bryce's favorite toys in what looked to be an old French Horn case. The case was to go with Bryce when he got a new, stable home.  It was obvious Bryce had not seen them since the lady succumbed  six months ago, and it was an emotional moment when we opened the case for him. The sight of his favorite things, and the scent of his lost love excited and pleased him so much. We wished we could know his thoughts, but maybe we do.  You don't need words for that.

We put the tree up last night, and were kinda worried that Bryce, a very territorial tricolored Aussie male with very healthy kidneys, might mark this tree for Australia, or whatever. So far, so good.  Bryce is nudging me as I type this. It is pouring rain, here on the Mendocino coast, and he reminds me that he has a really nice hand me down red raincoat, and his favorite leash from a life ago. A walk in the rain beckons.
I think he'll like Christmas, too.
May you, and your dogs past and present, enjoy your memories.


Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 09:17 AM PST

The Other Vets

by B52D

These are the spouses who held families together while the vet was off who-knows-where. As a then-young guy with no kids, I watched and heard my older crew members try to keep in touch with their wives and kids, via letters, and little spools of recording tape, mailed back and forth across the world. There were moments of joy, and sadness at missing big events, in those reports from home. Especially in those little tapes, with real voices. They connected, and tore, much more than a ball point on a page. I wonder if it isn't even more wrenching, these days, with Skype et al.
It has been said before, but I think true: It's harder to endure the not knowing, than it is to actually be the one somewhere in the high risk zone.
 Every official car coming down the street in base housing is cause for alarm: “It could be for me. That might be the chaplain, or the commander......or, just one of the other  50 such cars on the base, going about their job, checking on a contractor doing repairs one block over.” The car passes, but the suspense comes again, tomorrow.

So, if you get a chance and you are so inclined to thank a vet for his or her service (I've yet to not be surprised when that happens, and I don't know what to say, other than 'You're welcome.'), bear in mind that person who may be standing proudly next to the vet.

My hat's off to you. Well done.


Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 12:47 PM PST

The Thanksgiving Barney Came Home

by B52D

The adage that you don't know what you have until it is gone is learned the hard way. It seemed so to us kids, as we watched our big friend disappear into the forest.

Our family home, in today's vernacular, was a subsistence farm. We, and our livestock, ate what we grew. What was left over was sold, to allow Mom and Dad the occasional trip to the grocery and shoe store, for the items we could not grow. Our crops were tilled with the help of Barney and Frank....their real names. They were Belgian/Percheron cross draft horses, and my brothers and I grew up with them. In that innocent, childhood time, they were family.

One Thanksgiving, it looked like, to us kids, that Barney wouldn't be home.  This was new, and frightening, to kids and to Frank, who loved Barney as well. Horses are herd animals, like us, really.

A seldom-seen neighbor lived three hickory-covered Ozark ridges away. Henry and his family had a tinier farm. We kids were never there, at least, not while they still scratched out a living there. We did spy on them, from the ridge.  Henry, his wife, daughter and son lived on maybe 20 acres. They had a huge garden, a root cellar, a shed, and a house. The son continued to drag old cars home. He was set on getting one to run by borrowing parts from the others. I think so that he could flee. He did, eventually. The rusting roofs of his donor cars are visible where they died, alongside the weedy path to the little house. Inside, peeling  wallpaper now waves from pane-less windows.

Houses back then were uninsulated, heated by wood stoves.  We cut the trees down with a crosscut saw, an adult on one end of this six foot handsaw, and a kid on the other. Another kid pushed on the tree with a pole, to fell it in a direction most convenient. Henry and his son did this, but had no way to get their firewood to the house, as their farm could support no team of horses. Or even one horse. All they had was one cow. Some chickens lived in a small coop barricaded against foxes and raccoons.  

This fall day, Henry came calling.

Our dogs heard Henry crunching his slow way through the frosty grass long before we humans did. Henry appeared in an old sweated fedora, faded overalls and a much-washed grey shirt, covered by a threadbare denim “jumper”. LL Bean calls it a barn coat today. We had never seen Henry up close. He had solid black, heavy eyebrows, topped by silver hair. He wasn't an old man, but life made him appear formidable to us. We were afraid to get too close.  We had often heard him and his son shout at one another, three ridges away.  Upsetting words, even at a distance, which we intended to keep.

Henry and our grandpa talked, and by and by, Henry left with a small farm sled, propelled by Barney.  We  had watched grandpa harness Barney. Frank paced nervously, left out. In short, Henry borrowed Barney and our log chain to pull his firewood home, so he could cut it into stove lengths for the winter.  It seemed, to us kids, like grandpa was selling Barney down the river. It sure seemed so to Frank, who stood in his paddock, huge brown chest heaving as he leaned against the boards, whinnying to Barney, his departing brother. Who cried back, the voice growing fainter as the trees blocked our view. The harness trace chains clinked softly, more softly, and then no more, in the distance. What assurance did anyone have that Barney would be back?

This was two days before Thanksgiving. We kids wondered: “Where will Barney sleep? Is there room in that little lean-to shed near Henry's chicken coop? What will Barney eat? Won't he be lonely? Will Henry holler at him, like he hollers at his son?  Does Henry know that Barney never sleeps with his harness on?”

Such thoughts also seemed to run through Frank's mind. After all, he no doubt had heard the hollering. And recognized Henry's voice. Frank didn't eat much that night, even though all three of us petted him, and offered him an apple, and more ear corn, his favorites.  He was no calmer in the morning. That day was endless. Even though we were kept busy preparing for thanksgiving.  

There is a certain stoicism acquired early on when you live so close to your food sources.  The fat hen destined for dinner on Thanksgiving doesn't get there via a grocery bag. She must be prepared, and we kids knew the drill. While we worried about Barney, a big barnyard animal, we had no such affection for the chickens. They were egg sources, or dinner sources. --To be treated humanely, but their end was assured, and known.

Our pre-Thanksgiving chores, including the demise and defeathering of the hen, kept us busy that Thanksgiving Eve. But still no Barney, as Frank's snorts and whinnies told us periodically as he watched us from the barn lot.  It was a cloudy day, even darker as the sun sets early in November.

Carl, my younger brother, first said “SSHHH” in a loud hiss. Well, he needn't have done, as we were all pretty silent in our worry anyway.  It was a soft, small bell sound....Barney's trace chains on his harness were clinking faintly, somewhere.  It took about five more minutes before we could see Barney, his blackness gleaming through the leather harness he wore. He was headed back home! We knew he would have liked to break into a trot, but his years of training to the plow and wagon prevented that. Nevertheless, we kids supplied the footwork needed to quickly unite us with Barney and his sled. Although we kept our distance from Henry, still the villain to us, the man who hollered at his son.

Grandpa and Henry talked a while, in the German they both grew up with. Meanwhile, Barney hurriedly led us kids to the barn, and to Frank, who stamped impatiently in the nearest corner of his fenced-in lot. Carl and I dragged the harness off Barney under Frank's supervision, while our little brother brought six ears of corn from the feed room. For once, the corn came in second place, as two joyful giant friends first went outside and rolled on the cold, dry ground.  Eight stone-polished horseshoes were dog paddling skyward as these gentle giants squealed and whinnied, upside down in the dust. It was equine ecstasy. By the ton.

We checked their trough for water, and headed to the warm house, as winter darkness descended on all. We never found out just where Barney slept on his night out, or if Henry hollered at him. It seemed not.

We all had the day off on Thanksgiving, except for the chores. Barney and Frank again both got welcome home rations from us kids, and I suspect again from Grandpa.  Everyone, and everything was in its place.

It was a good Thanksgiving.


Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 01:47 PM PDT

Why I Listen To Rush

by B52D

This morning, Rush gleaned this kernel of “truth” from a caller's drivel: That, since women are not as clued in to physical attractiveness (in a mate, I think he means) as men are, then, ergo, ipso facto, etc, opines Rush,  the reason that many lesbians are fat is......drum roll.....maybe that their mates don't care if they are hefty. Now, I doubt that Rush has any more data on lesbian body conformation than I do, but I can always count on him to plow on regardless.  Truth be told, he may know fat.

Where else can you get this absurd crap, just for the cost of enduring a commercial for motorized wheel chairs and walk in bath tubs? Rush doesn't mention that some wheel chair providers might be SOL if it wasn't for Obamacare paying the cost of many such machines.

After the pronouncement about fat lesbians, he goes into the breaking story that a court has put the screws to NYC Mayor Bloomberg's effort to ban huge single servings of sugary soda. Rush wants everyone to have the right to drink as much sugary pop soda as you can buy. If you die, you die. It is your right. I think the largest ones I've seen are 64 ounces. Rush berates “low information voters” for applauding efforts to curb this sticky consumption. This happened on a Letterman show.  Again, Rush doesn't mention that you could just buy TWO 32 ounce hits of your favorite soda, if you really need 64 ounces in possession. Apparently, Rush's audience contains no “low information voters”, so it would be needless to mention these details.....well, or details of most anything.  Again, I'm wondering if some of those sugar freaks aren't sucking up my Medicare dollars at the urgent care clinic. No details, natch.

But I am greatly, deeply disappointed this morning. Rush goes from fat lesbians whose mates don't care about their circumference, to the attempted onslaught of our right to buy and drink huge single servings of carbonated sugar drinks........I'm thinking, come on, Rush, you can do this, you can see the light already got your fat lesbians, you got 64 ounce obesity big gulp sugar drinks,,,,,you got seque, go with it. But nothing.  Maybe his producer was whispering in his earpiece: “Cool it Rush, we don't want to piss off anymore sponsors.  Fat folks of all sexual persuasions use motorized wheelchairs and scooters, too,  and we desperately need those sponsors.”

Stay tuned.  


Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:25 AM PST

Maybe not my best idea

by B52D

I awoke to an email from a Red state cousin, who entreated his complete email address book to vote in a purported USA Today poll. His headline: Eric Holder Says We Have No Right to Own Guns."  The idea was, for all readers to take time from polishing their many firearms, and vote against Eric Holder and his pinko ideas. Usually, I ignore this stuff. Well, I lost it. So I punched "Reply All" and sent the following. Probably didn't make some recipients feel better, but signed my name, so they'd know who. We'll see what develops.

"I think that we have no right to possess certain guns. Automatic and semiautomatic rifles and pistols, for instance. They are not needed to bring down hunting game. I also think that it is time the US looks into some kind of periodic review, testing, and periodic, renewable licensing, of firearms. How is it that Canada, with more of a hunting tradition than the US, and Australia, England, Germany, the list goes on, do not have our fine tradition of allowing whackos to buy all the guns and ammo they want? Incidentally, these countries don't seem to have as many whackos that shoot up kids and strangers. I never read of, nor hear of from friends who are citizens of these countries, that they wish to rise up in revolt because they can't buy all the guns they want.  Actually, they think our laws are pretty crazy, and the folks abroad who wrote me today are certain of it. Aren't you?

 Right now, in England, they are worried about their whackos who seem to be pulling out their knives and assaulting people. I wish we had such problems. It is hard to cause a large massacre with one knife and one whacko. Here, we make it convenient for the whacko to efficiently kill a large number of people with guns. Until we get a handle on the politicians and gun companies that seem to control our laws, watch out are collateral damage. You don't count, you can be sacrificed in the name of gun owner rights.
And in case you are wondering, yes I have had numerous hunting licenses. Yes, I have served in combat and carried a gun, and participated in eliminating large numbers of humans. And yes, I own firearms, and am quite willing to cooperate with any reasonable program that would make the killings we read about lately less likely to happen. We don't have such a program. I'm waiting to hear what Eric Holder has to say. That old crap about "Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have guns" needs to be rethought. Hello: Outlaws already have guns. They use them to shoot one another. And they are not the ones grabbing Mom's semiautomatic rifle with the large magazines, and shooting kids in school. It is a supply and demand problem."


Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:30 AM PST

"Have you tried our sausages?"

by B52D

Staffing a sample station at a Big Box store is not for the faint-footed.  You show up well ahead of store opening time. You get your station assignment from the boss---What you will  prepare and present on your tray, and where in the huge store you'll set up your station. You don't work for the store, you work for the sampling staffing company. There's a difference.

OK, say you really are going to offer hot hunks of those scrumptious sausages to the milling crowds. You heat them on your hotplate, and you arrange them just so,  then stab each one with a toothpick....and when those front store doors open for business: Show time!

Armed with the smile that got you this gig, you practice your pitch lines... Of course, the smell of sizzling sausage will tempt all but the hardcore vegetarians. It's important to be friendly, engaging, even when folks don't make eye contact, but take a sample, and roll their cart onwards...maybe just to the next sampling station. You quickly learn there are lots of folks who really do treat the store as a food court. The store counts on this, actually. They keep track of the number of packs of sausages sold the day you're offering samples thereof. If it's a lot, you get a bonus of some sort. Not money, but who knows...sausages?

You learn, after a time or two, that there are tricks to this. If you get assigned a sampling station on a less travelled aisle, you won't be going through as many packs of product as when you're in the center aisle somewhere. So it's time to turn on the charm, large size. Obviously, your station will almost always be BEFORE the actual display of the sausages for sale....not after, not on the way to checkout. Traffic patterns count. You chat, but don't engage...carts and their pushers are there to move, and buy.

You know to expect that rush when church lets out on Sunday. You can time it to the minute: In comes the Sunday-best folks: Grandma, Mom, Dad, with kids in tow.....straight for the sample trays. The record is: From fully-stocked trays to not a crumb left--- two minutes. A smart staffer will have his or her hotplate full of product ready in reserve, BEFORE the nearby United Evangelical & Eternal Church of Whatever Ethnicity winds up worship in the strip you're ready for the second coming of consumption. If you're not, expect no slack from the lady who, paper cup of sample coffee steaming in hand, tells you she expected her sausage “now” to go with her coffee. Sale lost.

You do meet interesting people.  An older guy points his cart your way. He's talks to someone, but the someone is not there, not even on his cell phone. “Have you tried our great sausages?” is the opening line. “He threw me out of the house!” is the reply. “My son. Threw me. Out of his house. Here, see those marks still on my arm?”  Well, there's no provided script with which to answer. “Here, try this, sir” seems inadequate. You are next informed that Old Guy has a bottle in his car. “I might just go to my car, and start drinking,” he opines. No, no, that wouldn't be a good idea. What if you're stopped with an open container of alcohol.....or get in an accident. Better to go home, and drink there.'Going off message, off script,.. but saved by your next patrons.....a woman outpaces her cart-pushing mate by 20 yards. He, bellowing to her backside, “Wait! You never listen to what I say. Ever!” She trods purposefully up, ignores the guy who was thrown out of the house. But he tells her anyway: “I've a mind to go to my car, and just start drinking in the parking lot. I told him never to marry that woman!”

This woman, who doesn't listen to her mate, immediately empathizes with Old Guy, and they have a few words over sausage. Cart-pushing mate catches up, they all mosey on.

Another morning, sampling life in the Big Box Store.


Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 08:24 AM PST

Thanksgiving on a small farm

by B52D

Hopefully, it hadn't snowed overnight....because in a few hours, Dad would crank (literally, no starter on our old 1937 relic) up the Farmall tractor and inch it down to the annual site of our woodpile. Snow made woodcutting harder work. A long row of hickory poles, cut and trimmed from our woods, waited to be cut into firewood. Because Dad had the day off from the feed mill, and we boys were home from school,  this became our Thanksgiving ritual. The two draft horses got the day off and an extra ration of ear corn; Barney and Frank watched from their pasture, nostrils steaming in the freezing air. They had pulled all the logs from the woods on an earlier weekend.

Food was on our minds, of course. While we worked on the wood pile, Mom was working wonders on the wood fired kitchen stove.

Dad took the position nearest the belted saw blade, feeding the poles to the blade; OSHA hadn't been invented yet. All of us survived with our limbs intact, and having no snow made our job a bit safer. Hickory wood releases a tangy aroma when superheated by a whizzing saw. You notice it at first, until then it blends with the warm fumes from the old tractor, and sweat, even in the sub freezing morning.  We three boys would lift each pole, slowly sidestepping toward the whining saw's table.  

When it was done, we'd survey the new winter's woodpile; Fresh rounds of charcoal-gray bark wood, fresh-sawn ends showing the trees' ages. No worries about clearcutting. Hickory trees, and their fat squirrels, still abound on that farm. No one cuts firewood anymore, so deer and now turkeys, too, flourish in the forest.

On a farm, “dinner” means the noon meal. And so it was with us. We'd return to the very warm kitchen to the aroma of Mom's baking hen, dressing, Grandma's home-baked bread. (Every Wednesday was baking day at our house.) Every dish was made with ingredients from our farm: The flour was milled a mile away, where Dad worked weekdays; The baking hen was a past member of our flock.  Potatoes, dressing ingredients....pumpkin pie...lots of organic food, but we didn't know the term then.

It was years, to my ongoing regret, before I appreciated how hard my family worked to put that food before us kids, on that huge kitchen table. The real world lurched and lumbered on, unbeknownst to we kids, who were warm, dry and well fed.

It was a great way to grow up.  Today, I'm doing the turkey, dressing and gravy, in our suburban kitchen. When it's ready, my own silent toast will be in thanks for those responsible for those meals long ago, and then for friends present and past.


Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 10:03 AM PDT

Fox: Where's your Sandy Benefit Program??

by B52D

I note that Fox News is bemoaning NBC's decision to stage and broadcast a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Springsteen, et al, are appearing. Fox seems to be rending garments and gnashing teeth, because it seems to them that this will become an Obama campaign rally. After all, it is about helping people get back on their feet. About charity. And Springsteen is certainly an Obama fan.
It begs the question, though: So, Fox, why not call up Ted Nugent and a few other performers, and use your network to promote the general welfare of those affected by the recent storm?  Use Romney and Ryan's name all you want, that'll do it.
Daily Kos readers, perhaps you'd like to add to the list of potential Fox performers?


Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 03:43 PM PDT

Rush on Birth Control

by B52D

Oct. 25
Today I tuned into Limbaugh, and am reassured that he is distraught with the way the campaigns are going. Rush opines today that it could be that women who favor fewer controls, and more access, on contraception are in the main, more issue-oriented voters....that they become more issue-oriented in their voting. And that these kinds of voters, who consider the issues before them in an election, tend to vote not Republican. So, (I just love sophistry, well-practiced) Rush intones, and I paraphrase “Could it be that the Democrats are pushing this issue of contraception availability....wanting contraceptives readily and freely swell their ranks of liberal voters?....moreover, does it not seem that women of that ilk...with access to contraception, more issue-oriented.....are then attracted to more liberal (read less manly, my edit here) men....”. Does it not follow that this is a great reason for the Democratic leadership to push this contraception issue? After all, if this is the type of man that these women are then attracted to, what better reason to push contraception availability?  How else are these kind of men going to get women?”

My thought was: Jeez, if the Excellence in Broadcasting Network is spending its precious time flinging this fecal matter before the faithful's fan, it must mean they've run out of better things with which to produce oral foam.
We on the left might just be doing pretty well.  Certainly, the males among us know now how to attract the opposite sex. Thanks, Rush.


Fri Oct 19, 2012 at 05:31 PM PDT

I'm probably not alone here?

by B52D

As the only atheist Democrat in my five-sibling very Catholic Republican family, I get a good portion of “faith-based” conservative bilge and birther items email forwarded to me. 'Not sure why, I don't send any their way.  But that's OK. What I don't understand is the tendency for that mindset to mindlessly forward photos of Obama, and Mrs. Obama, doing things improperly.  Today it was the “Mr. and Mrs. Clueless” photo, showing the Obamas standing outside the White House,  ostensibly listening to the national anthem, with their hand over their hearts. Well, in this photoshopped version, they have their  LEFT hands over their right lung, basically. For those of you who  missed basic military training, that's not how it is done.

Hence the headline “Mr. and Mrs. Clueless”.  

There are some clues, but I find that my senders ignore them always. Michelle has her hair parted on the opposite side from that of the photo that's taped to our fridge.  And there's something about wedding rings on fingers not used when I married in the Immaculate Conception Church, back in the Triassic eon.

Are you similarly afflicted? Are we Democrats also sending poorly photoshopped images of Romney, Ryan et al to our Republican brethren? Or is this an ideological trait that follows the conservative bent?

I politely point out, in email “reply all”, that perhaps one should insert the headline into a Google search, just to check authenticity,  before sending this out to the entire conservative DNA spectrum. And I have never gotten a reply.

I have to admit it is entertaining, in a cretinous fashion. I'm glad the last family reunion I will attend was a year ago.

Are you similarly afflicted? Are we Democrats also sending poorly flipped and flopped images of Romney, Ryan et al to our Republican brethren? Or is this an ideological trait that follows the conservative bent?
   What's your reply when you receive these things?

Continue Reading

Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM PDT

Public Union Viewpoint?

by B52D

While we  readers of DailyKos regularly decry the erosion of labor unions, I expect that the general populace does not.  First, most  statistically don't belong to one, nor are they of the family of a union member.  So, why should they care? Historically, they should care for many reasons, some found on the bumpers of cars, union made or not: “ Enjoy your weekend? Thank a union member!”
Of course, there are more reasons,-- worker safety, child labor laws, a living wage-- among them.
Yet, many of us who do/did not work under union rules judge unionism not by those who make cars, or build bridges, or keep our power plants or communication nets humming. Our most obvious reminder of unionism is that of the state and local governments, organizations that impact us daily, and at tax time.

In my case, it is/was routine to see a newspaper photo of a line of applicants stretching around the block to sign up for a shot at a government labor position---be it golf course grass cutter or administrative aide—and this was in our boom times, not just now. Now, we can easily predict what happens first when government budgets are cut: The people who do the actual labor get laid off, but the very well paid senior staffers stay, at the same salary as before. With a pension plan that they do not directly contribute into. True, they manage more work with fewer staff now, and that's more work for them, perhaps....but in reality, the work done seems to diminish for the same reason: Fewer workers to do the work.  At least, that's the scenario that's understood by many of their “customers.”  No matter that those senior managers are not always part of the union. The public doesn't know that, in general.

As a one time business owner, I've seen  talented union member folks  leave the private sector for the security, salary and vacation packages of the public sector.  It was certainly in their best interest. Those lines of applicants stretching down the blocks stick in the public's minds.  A colleague who, when being considered for a county position, was asked for, and gave, their current wage and compensation package details. ...and then was told by the HR rep, “No, I think you need to revise this upwards, to mirror the wages paid”... in a much larger world-class city.  The applicant got the job, at a great pay raise inconsistent with local wage studies, to illustrate that a rising tide inflates all (government labor) rafts.  Our elected officials well know that public unions are a mainstay of their campaign funding, and woe to the one or two of them that do not do the unions' bidding.

And then we learn, on Rachel Maddow recently, that when given an option, quite a few union dues payers opted out of the automatic payroll plan that sent their monthly dues to the union shop.  That was a surprise, to me at least. I don't know how government union dues are collected in my state.

My point, assuming I have one, is that the general public may likely be unsupportive of unions of any stripe, in that those models with which we are best acquainted  have a less than stellar image, IMO.  That's regrettable, in both cases.  How can we change this?

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.


Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site