3 Lines from a Trump Tweet, his words not the media’s

I’m baffled.  I’m worried.

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of.”

I ask who is the United States Government?

Apparently, our government is no longer “We the People.”  We are no longer a republic where we elect individuals to represent us.

OK, we can debate who our elected officials represent.  I think big money which has been helped by the SCOTUS ruling in Citizens along with Super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups has too much influence today, but the truth is that “special interests” have always influenced our politics.  Special interests can range from criminal to movements that brought about social justice.  Both terms “criminal” and “social justice” are intentionally generic in my usage here. It’s historical fact that organized crime has put people into office, and on the other hand, who today would suggest that women should be disenfranchised?  I only use those as examples of my “generic special interests, and how they may run the gamut between good and bad.

Who is the head of the United States Government?

Apparently, it is not the person elected president by the vote in the Electoral College according to this tweet.

How is law enforcement supposed to enforce the laws on the books?

Do criminals obey the law?

Well, the second question often results in answers that are based primarily on perspective.

Isn’t it strange how a person can suggest that gun laws are worthless at protecting human life but then saw that murder of children would cease if Roe was overturned?

If only all things were simple.  Consider that at times a stop sign or a red light can be aggravating, but not obeying a basic traffic law can be tragic.  It’s hard to define common sense, but I think it is just as dangerous to have too many laws as it would be to have too few.

As my Dad used to tell me, to have real freedom we must be willing to sacrifice some freedoms for the sake of others.  It’s like being strong.  If you fail to stretch or cannot bend, then you break or snap, but stretching and bending puts you in a position temporarily where you are not at your strongest.  It’s about balance.

What is the right amount of yes and not?  I don’t know because all things aren’t that simple.

It’s the same with law enforcement.  The suspect or whomever or whatever is the subject has certain protections.  Evidence obtained may not be admissible under the law.  It’s a delicate balance and sadly we often lean to whatever suits us at the moment instead weighing each situation independently and waiting for the scales to tip in one direction or the other.

“Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”

I just can’t be the only person who has heard of a lawyer taping a conversation with a client.  In today’s world, I think one can assume that someone is recording what we do practically every second.  It’s no longer mysterious or science fiction (my armadillo shell hats with tin foil that protected me against space aliens and satellites all these years are ineffective against smartphones, security cameras, and microphones near and far).  In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that President Trump hinted that conversations with Mr. Comey may have been recorded.  Didn’t President Trump accuse Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower?  I doubt if any insecticides would have killed those bugs back in the Watergate Building when I was barely knee-high to a baby grasshopper.

“The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

That line just scares me. I’m not a psychologist but a US political history person by profession and a farm boy at heart, but if you have done nothing wrong, why would you want or need to exclaim such a statement?

Isn’t the purpose of an investigation to discover the truth? These investigations (I’m lumping for simplicity) have produced several indictments and guilty pleas.  In terms of time, these investigations have been going on for a short amount of time when compared to those of a similar scope historically.   I’m confident that one can find continuing investigations into misdemeanor crimes that have been going on longer than the special counsel probe.

At this stage, Donald Trump has not been charged with anything.

He refused to release his tax returns for public review which isn’t a crime but goes against what he stated as a candidate.

He refused to allow transcribers for his talk with Vladimir Putin.  Again that’s not a crime but historically we know the long-term negative effects from when FDR met with Stalin at Tehran and Yalta, so one would think that any US President would have the sense to avoid those mistakes.

Even if one disagrees with “mistakes,” wouldn’t someone, especially “your favorite President” want a record for posterity?

The contradiction in attitude floors me, especially when the Fake News Media is the real enemy of the people. If one really believes that American news and journalism is the real enemy of the United States, why not take it out of their hands and provide the primary documents so we don’t have secondary speculation?

In my opinion, the lines between journalism, opinion, and entertainment have been blurred.  Often it is hard to distinguish what is what.  We don’t have people like Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite who I am old enough to have a passing memory.  The local run small town newspaper is an enterprise gasping for its last breath which I think is a tragedy.

We do, however, have local beat reporters for your local news stations.  I’ve been friends with some great ones in different areas where I have lived.  I don’t know them personally, but I’ve met a few reporters with our DC affiliates.

Many local anchors are also journalists and not pundits or entertainers.  I think we have two of the best in my local market with Alison Starling of WJLA and Leon Harris of WRC.

With network and cable networks, I think we have some true reporters and journalists.  Off the top of my head, individuals such as Peter Alexander of NBC, David Muir, Pierre Thomas, and Cecilia Vega of ABC, John King, Dana Bash, and Kaitlyn Collins of CNN, Chris Wallace of FOX, Leslie Stahl and Major Garrett of CBS come to mind.

There are many others. It’s just too easy to confuse pundits and editorials for actual reporting.

I yearn for my childhood days when Mr. Phil Johnson would make it purposely clear what was news reporting and what was the editorial opinion on the WWL-TV news.

A free press isn’t an enemy unless freedom is the enemy.

If you have nothing to hide, then you should not be terrified of the truth.  The truth can be scary.  The truth might not be what we want to hear.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

President Trump isn’t alone in disagreement with that command, many politicians are in the same boat he is navigating, but he is supposed to be the Leader of the Free World.



NRA response to Parkland shootings disgusting and Trump’s would-be machismo makes him even more of a laughingstock

Louisiana Voice

I’ve deliberately put LouisianaVoice on hold since the horrendous events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in order to try and let my emotions level off somewhat. That’s because I couldn’t really write how I feel about the NRA, the failure of law enforcement to read the signs, and the incredibly simplistic and idiotic reactions of our Coward-in-Chief, who would have us believe, in hindsight, that he would have tried to save the day had he just been there.

You see, I have seven grandchildren, five of whom are in public schools (the other two are in college). I also have two daughters who are teachers. So, whenever I hear about a Columbine or a Sandy Hook or Parkland, it becomes very personal—and emotional—to me.

So, before it even gets to that point, don’t bother trying to label me as some sort of idealistic liberal who wants to take you…

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Please God I’m 16 and Didn’t Try to Get Murdered

You didn’t know me, and I never met you. Still, you act like I need to apologize to you because I died.

I don’t think you understand, but I wasn’t ready to die.

I experienced what I once read, seemingly a long time ago, maybe yesterday, perhaps this morning, from a Dear Abby column that Mom or possibly Dad put on the door of the refrigerator. YOU DID NOT!

I think it was like this, but I don’t know for sure. You’re yelling for all to hear, but I can’t hear you. I’M THE ONE WHO GOT MURDERED!

A portion of that column on the refrigerator door:

“It doesn`t matter how the accident happened. I was goofing off–going too fast. Taking crazy chances. But I was enjoying my freedom and having fun. The last thing I remember was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow. I heard a deafening crash and I felt a terrible jolt. Glass and steel flew everywhere. My whole body seemed to be turning inside out. I heard myself scream.

Suddenly I awakened; it was very quiet. A police officer was standing over me. Then I saw a doctor. My body was mangled. I was saturated with blood. Pieces of jagged glass were sticking out all over. Strange that I couldn`t feel anything.

Hey, don`t pull that sheet over my head! I can`t be dead. I`m only 17. I`ve got a date tonight. I`m supposed to grow up and have a wonderful life. I haven`t lived yet. I can`t be dead.

Later I was placed in a drawer. My folks had to identify me. Why did they have to see me like this? Why did I have to look at Mom`s eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of her life? Dad suddenly looked like an old man. He told the man in charge, “Yes, he is my son.“

The funeral was a weird experience. I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the casket. They passed by, one by one, and looked at me with the saddest eyes I`ve ever seen. Some of my buddies were crying. A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they walked away.

Please–somebody–wake me up! Get me out of here! I can`t bear to see my mom and dad so broken up. My grandparents are so racked with grief they can hardly walk. My brother and sisters are like zombies. They move like robots. In a daze, everybody! No one can believe this. And I can`t believe it, either. Please don`t bury me! I`m not dead! I have a lot of living to do! I want to laugh and run again. I want to sing and dance. Please don`t put me in the ground. I promise if you give me just one more chance, God, I`ll be the most careful driver in the whole world. All I want is one more chance.

Please, God, I`m only 17!”

I wasn’t in a car, on the road. I did not see or feel glass and steel everywhere. I wasn’t goofing off or taking crazy chances. I was sitting in my desk in English class. I was listening to Coach Arnold recite a poem by Emily Dickinson.

“ I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

The Stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air –

Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –

And Breaths were gathering firm

For that last Onset – when the King

Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away

What portions of me be

Assignable – and then it was

There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –

Between the light – and me –

And then the Windows failed – and then

I could not see to see –

I never had the opportunity. Well maybe I did, but I never thought about willing my keepsakes away.

I did not see a fly or hear it buzz.


The only other thing I recall is Please God, I’m only 16. I won’t be 17 until the summer.


Look, I’m sorry that more people die in car accidents. I lost a close friend because something ran into the road, and he swerved. He would have been OK if it had happened at any other place on that road, but it happened where they were working on the highway. Instead of just being stuck in the ditch, his car hit that big machine and it fell, crushing my friend’s car.

A gun is something that can kill. That’s the purpose of the tool, just like a garden hose is manufactured to transport water some distance away from the spigot. Practically anything can kill. Some can kill more animals or people faster; some requires skill and training to use to kill one or many; some only require a finger, a toe, or anything to pull a trigger.

I admit that I don’t know much about guns. Dad owns several that he keeps locked in his gun safe. He can break each down and put it back together blindfolded, but I can’t.

Last winter, he took me hunting and I shot and killed a deer. He said it was a spike. I only know that it had antlers, and we ate the venison. I’ve shot all of his guns at one time or another. He always supervised and was strict that I do exactly as he told me whenever I handled a gun. No, he wasn’t mean. He spoke with me the same way when he showed me how to use any of his tools. Mom did the same helping me learn how to drive the car. I don’t love guns, but I don’t hate them either. I’d just rather ski in the winter or do anything where I’m running or jumping than just sitting and waiting for some deer to walk by.

People talk about guns for self-defense, but I’ve never carried a gun for that purpose. I have studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for four years now. We focus about how to avoid an attack. If an attack cannot be avoided, we learn how to escape. If we cannot escape, we learn how to control the attacker. Mom has been studying for the last two years with me. She even used what she learned when a thug tried mugging her. Even Dad, who was a Marine for 20 years has started training.

Is it foolproof? I don’t think so, but what is? If I gun was then why do police officers get killed? If it’s gun free zones, why did all those officers and others get murdered in Texas? Whether it’s one person or 1000 people, murder is still murder.


I know that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires muscle memory. So does skiing. So does soccer. Your skills fade without practice. Handling a gun can’t be any different.

Dad doesn’t have the same muscle memory or efficiency with a weapon like he had while serving in the military. He doesn’t have the same level of awareness that he had out on the battlefield. My Uncle who is a police officer is required to do a lot of training each year. Maybe you could get lucky with your handgun and avoid 30 rounds while landing one to stop a killer. If my Uncle can’t do it all the time during his training simulations when he knows that he will have to shoot. If Dad could not do it on the battlefield when he knew the enemy was likely in the next building. Don’t claim that I could. If you can, prove it to our military and law enforcement and get a job helping them if you are that good.

I don’t see the relevancy that you do but for your information, I can’t tell anyone anything about Planned Parenthood or the NRA. I can, however, name every member of my state’s congressional delegation thanks to Mrs. Rhodes and Civics class. I made and A in my history class. I can talk about the Constitution because I compete in the oratory contest that the American Legion holds. This year I came close to going to nationals in Indianapolis. I finished second in the entire state. I wasn’t disappointed because this was only my second year to compete in the contest. Thanks Mrs. Rhodes, Coach Arnold for the public speaking help, and of course Mr. Perkins for teaching history and helping me find primary sources for my speeches. Maybe next year…

Wait, there isn’t a next year. Someone walked into my classroom and murdered me.

I appreciate the thoughts and prayers. Really I do.

I just want to know why you seem so put off, so vocal, so demanding that my death somehow hurts your rights?

Why does my death mean less than all these statistics you cite about how other people died?

Why are my friends and classmates being vilified for asking questions and wanting to prevent others and even themselves from being murdered like me?

They don’t have a magical solution that’s 100 percent effective.

You don’t either.

They’re concerned because they experienced this terror.

You’re concerned why?  It’s not because you think you’ll be next.  It’s because my being murdered is a threat to your way of life.



For now, I’ll just say that I’m sorry that my being murdered makes you feel like someone will make your life inconvenient. No offense, but I feel more sorry for my family and friends who knew me. I just want to limit the chances of someone else getting murdered. My friends feel the same way. That’s why we’re trying to be heard.



RE: The Horrific Events in Las Vegas

RE: The Horrific Events in Las Vegas

It was a tragedy, a senseless massacre of innocent people by a Caucasian American man (White male)  with multiple weapons including what reports indicate were legally purchased guns designed for military use that had been modified to fire in a more aggressive fashion. According to accounts, several individuals involved with the musical performance were armed, legally concealed carrying. Given the nature of the public event, there were a number of armed law enforcement officers present as well. General public labeled “good guys” with guns did not stop this assault, and neither did any laws on the books or stricken from the books.

I’ve never had a history professor in any of my departments who were and are not aware of massacres on US soil that saw more casualties. Even if the courses we teach do not pertain to the time frames or subject areas that include for example the Lakota Indians at Wounded Knee on 29 December 1890 or the black men and women in Colfax, LA, on Easter Sunday, 13 April 1873, we know of these horrific events.

Heck, right now people in the general public and politicians are still arguing about the removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument which is the marker for approximately 35 deaths on 14 September 1874. How is that relevant some ask? It was the same white supremacists’ groups who killed approximately 150 black men and women in Colfax up in Grant Parish on Easter Sunday the previous year who carried out the attack on Liberty Place in New Orleans. The monument first erected in 1891 to “honor” this event had an inscription advocating white supremacy added in the year 1932.

I and I assume most people are aware that even more people were murdered on our soil on the morning of Tuesday, 11 September 2001 without a single shot from a gun being fired.

These deaths are not the price of freedom as one well-heeled media personality is spewing. They are not “understandable” or “acceptable” losses as another well-heeled perpetrator of hate beneath a cloak of religious love contends.

Likewise, these deaths that take place because of violence at mass events are no different from the single lives lost every day on any street, any city, any town, any clod of soil.

WHY? I have too many words but as John Donne articulated: “And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness”  [Meditation XVII].

A senseless death, no matter the cause or place, is a tragedy. It should not be justified or explained away. It need not be our family blood or that of a friend or colleague. It matters not the color of the skin, gender, heritage, for the blood remains red and is the life fluid for us all even when the vessel from which it flows has an external appearance that is ever so different. All are different yet same.

People attempting to justify or dismiss for whatever reason really don’t have a clue and that concerns me because I believe that is part of the problem.

Why Senator Jeff Flake, AZ?

Dear Senator Flake,

Healthcare is a complex issue that requires bipartisan efforts.  We cannot address the myriad of components in any single forum.  No plan or system will be “perfect” for everyone.

Like most legislation, ACA consists of positives and negatives.  Some people have benefitted from the law and others have not.  If ACA remains the law of the land, several parts need substantial revision, some need elimination, others need minor adjustment, and new sections need inclusion.

If ACA is repealed, any replacement needs to address a substantial portion of the numerous issues concerning healthcare.

My question Sir, is if you know that this Graham-Cassidy bill could allow states to undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions, what should give you, me, and citizens of your state and this country confidence that these protections will not be undermined?

In your interview on MSNBC, you cited some logical reasons such as 1986 with welfare reform.  You also state that in reality no governor or state legislature will deny protections even with waivers because of the political repercussions such an action would bring.  Whether de jure or de facto such an implementation would be disastrous for the elected official in a logical and rational environment.

  • Senator Flake, are we currently in such a logical environment?
  • Sir, did you expect a President of the United States to take to social media and brand you as toxic?
  • Would the Leader of the Free World feel it necessary to publicly refer to you as Flake Jeff Flake in a logical and rational political environment?

Sir, do you still believe in the statement you made on Twitter concerning the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

I’m not asking or debating whether a pardon for the individual is warranted.  I’m asking about the process by which the President undertook?

Senator Flake, in your book, you wrote that Republicans need to take the long view when it comes to issues like free trade.  Shouldn’t the same apply to healthcare?

You wrote of the priority being to deny President Barack Obama instead of advancing a conservative policy agenda.

Can members of your party honestly say that supporting Graham-Cassidy is about promoting a conservative agenda when the so-called skinny repeal failed?

Or is a vote for Graham-Cassidy, regardless of what may or may not be in the bill, without CBO scoring, with limited discussion and debate, merely a vote because repeal has been GOP promise?

Is political party and reelection truly more important than the country?

Apparently, the President thinks so based upon his tweet this morning.

Sir, if there are reasons to believe that elected officials will, in fact, work for the best interests of all constituents, citizens, and country even if it means opposing their political base who is focused more upon the short term and not the long term, would you please enlighten this professor of history?

I never imagined seeing any White House rejecting the authority and validity of our own intelligence findings regarding Russia and labeling that as hoaxes created by the Democrats and perpetuated by the media.

Would a former US Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, have argued the same?


…and I Live on Maple Street Immigration Scapegoating

With an update regarding the WH press briefing on 2 August 2017 and the RAISE Act.

LAB Louisiana Boy

Given the remarks today by Stephen Miller today at the White House press briefing where he spoke about Trump administrations support of the RAISE Act sponsored by Tom Cotton and David Perdue, I thought once more about the Monsters on Maple Street.  I do not see such a difference in temporary workers such as the doubling of the H2-B visa applicant maximums if indeed legal immigrants posed such a threat to US workers with similar skills.  The US Department of Labor website currently has advertisements for H2-B workers for the “Southern White House,” Mar-a-Lago.


Is the White House suggesting that Americans do not have the skills to work in restaurants as servers and cooks or to do basic housekeeping?  Mr. Miller tried the seasonal argument, and yes these positions are seasonal but how do people get on the job training to move from part-time or seasonal to full-time?  If…

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Fake News, CBO scores, Bama fires Saban, and other Gumbo fixings sans the Roux.

In modern vernacular “fake news” means anything the reader or viewer doesn’t like. For example, “Saints Lose and Dirty Birds Win” could be classified as “fake news” if I accepted the modern popular definition.

I reckon that LSU won the College World Series and Nick Saban has a losing record as coach and will likely be fired are reality since mainstream media reports the opposite along with people who went to Omaha or who have watched Bama roll for quite a spell.

At some point while I wasn’t looking, predictions and opinions became the same as reporting news.  The distinctions have been blurred, but doesn’t it seem like fewer and fewer today recognize the difference or even care?

Instead, if one agrees then it is real news or if they disagree it is apparently “fake” instead of just being inaccurate.

Makes one wonder if Dewey really beat Truman and served as President. Did Foreman win the Rumble in the Jungle? Mike Tyson never got busted by Buster. OJ must still be running through airports for Hertz, so the white Bronco chase must have been filmed on the same stage as the moon landing. With my very own eyes, I forgot that I witnessed the New England Patriots a few years back win the Super Bowl to become the second NFL team to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. To suggest otherwise is: FAKE, FAKE, FAKE by those dastardly dirty rottens of MSM.

The above is ridiculous, but if I chose to give a fancy little spin or chum the waters with a little bait to create a feeding frenzy, a significant number would believe.  It’s both sad and scary.

Fake and mistake rhyme but that’s it. Prediction after-the-fact is quite easy but before-the-fact ain’t as easy. Opinion and who are connected directly.  When an eyewitness or anyone is giving an account of what is happening their perspective matters as to what they can and cannot see.

CBO scores are not an absolute science. They’re assessments based upon a multitude of variables. Whether proven right or wrong, the thoroughness of the methodology to derive that score is the most important factor to determining worth. It’s not fake. It’s a prediction. In the 43 years of existence, one really must cherry pick to label the CBO as partisan. Even when people try, they often neglect the fact that it is the majority party who appoints the director and all staff serve at the pleasure of the director.

It’s not a perfect system, but it has proven better than the OMB in the role it plays. The problem is that too few people have any idea about who or what the CBO is. Reading a WAPO opinion from two WH staffers ahead of the CBO score on the latest Senate health bill is evidence of the ignorance. The assessment from the CBO may prove incorrect, but it is not “FAKE NEWS” and is not partisan.

One of the better overviews which sadly I have never seen cited in the click baits, partisan press, or by the vast majority of pundits because it requires some actual reading comprehension is this working paper from the Hutchins Center back in 2015.

If only it were so simple that anything reported that we did not like were in fact fake.  Credibility for any given source seems to depend upon whether one agrees with the source.  Legitimacy is based upon if one’s confirmation bias is supported.

That’s one of the problems that limits possibilities for solutions.

Educators and educational institutions are being discredited.  In the work force, in some respects at least the focus has shifted to using specialized tools before even trying to understand the problem.  Need to do something, and there is an app for that.  New doesn’t necessarily mean improved, but are we losing that ability or desire to think for ourselves?

Food for thought…

An Aside:

I have never sought or accepted any payment or donations for this blog.  My position hasn’t changed, but I wanted share some good news.

After 10 years of marriage, my wife and I are in the final stages of adopting a son from an international orphanage.  We would most appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our son and us as soon-to-be parents to more than fur babies.  I hope that people read and follow because you either gather some information or at least see something that causes you to think.  We’re not conducting any fundraising with crowd sourcing sites or other means.  Nobody goes into the education field to become wealthy, but it’s a valuable reward when former students remain in communication or drop in unexpectedly to say that you made them think, believe, or made a difference.  Students, colleagues, peers, readers, and others have inquired so if anyone would like to make a monetary donation to help us with airfare primarily or other expenses associated with adoption, below is a link to a PayPal donation account that I have set up.  Any donation would be appreciated, but it is certainly not necessary to continue whatever connection we share.



Want to Hear some Good Music?

Listening to some of my man’s covers.

LAB Louisiana Boy

It’s been a bit since we last posted, but the blog has not gone away.  Thanks to all who have messaged to ask about the lack of recent activity.  Work and life…what more is there to say.

One of the worst things about not posting is that I have not kept up with writings of others because that’s what I enjoy and more importantly where I learn on WordPress.

My original post contained a tangent about the election and education, but I just cut that out to emphasize the positive with this post.

I have no training or background in music although I did at one time build some really good speaker boxes for cars and trucks.  One in particular I remember resulted in not only incredible sound from the 6 X 9 speakers but a good back message from the 10 inch woofers housed within.  Ah youth….

Still I know music that I like…

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US Home Filter Review

My regular readers are familiar with my fondness for many things past.  I’m nostalgic, but being trained as a history professor often provides the necessary balance between sentimentality for the past and the realities that remain clear when everything is considered within context.

Regardless of our upbringings or ideologies, I think that at times we all lament what I’ll term an erosion of customer service in our retail transactions.  My colleagues over in business divisions have several metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to gauge levels of customer service.  Me, I’m just the barefoot boy from the fields who wants someone who knows their products and can offer recommendations when needed, stands behind the quality of their products, seeks to make their profit from repeat business, and considers customers as people instead of a just a source of revenue.

Admittedly I miss the locally owned “Mom and Pop” stores with which I grew up.  Chains could often operate in the same fashion with a superior level of service.  For those back in Louisiana or the Deep South, who at some point doesn’t yearn for the purple, the “Personally Yours” from the K&B Drugstore in your neighborhood?  It wasn’t just the quality of the locally produced K&B ice cream, but the reality that you had cashiers at the pharmacy checkout in the back and on both sides in the front.  If lines started to form, a clerk from the floor or a manager would open the additional checkouts.  Need assistance on the floor, and there was a clerk either on that aisle or the next along with a manager near.

I lucked into finding similar customer service at a company through the unlikeliest portals, Amazon.

That company is US Home Filter which is the online division of Midwest Supply Inc., located in Belton, Missouri.  Midwest Supply is a family owned company established back in 1928 and today is a distributor of air filters that they manufacture and ship from their facilities near Kansas City, MO.  You can read a brief history here from their website.

Now I’ve never been to Kansas City so I haven’t seen the manufacturing facility or warehouse firsthand.  I’ve never met an employee face-to-face.  In fact, my experience beyond the product itself is from an email exchange and a single phone call from the company.

Why then am I writing a review of this company, praising their customer service, and recommending their products?

Let’s start with the last part first.

Air filters for air conditioning, heating systems, and heat pumps such as we have up yonder here in Maryland are one of those essential products that is easy to neglect.  Even the best industry jargon will not induce visions of excitement, mystery, or intrigue by replacing a filter.  Now failure to conduct such routine maintenance will likely result in some type of horror from the costs and hassles associated with repair or replacement, but I purposely try to avoid that genre in life and my reading and viewing habits because sadly history has ample non-fiction examples of horrors that negate any want to immerse myself in fiction.

Like most people, my goal with an air filter is a quality build, expected performance for a reasonable period per run time and conditions, and an affordable cost.  I haven’t conducted any tests to validate the MERV ratings on these or other brands.  I can only tell you that the US Home filters appear to capture similar levels of dust and particles as other brands I have used.  The physical construction is as good as, if not superior, to the “name brands” one sees in retail outlets such as Home Depot, Ace, Lowes, Target, WalMart, or your local hardware store.  The cardboard frames are strong and solid.  The pleated material of the filter is consistent throughout the entirety of the frame.  A backing of galvanized metal adds rigidity and prevents the pleated material from becoming deformed by the air flow.

You can read Amazon reviews for size and MERV ratings of the filters I have purchased at the links below.  Combined as of my typing there are approximately 200 ratings for the MERV ratings in this specific size with the average being 4.6 stars out of 5 stars.  Statistically any ratings that are not a 4 or a 5 would be outliers if one were graphing a curve.  I’m not the only consumer who has a high opinion about these filters in terms of quality and cost.

For additional information about the various types and sizes of filters they manufacture, please refer to their online website linked here and below.  I should note that the size I need is not found easily on most brick and mortar store shelves, but it’s apparently a common size for many of the newer household sized systems.  As one can see from their website, US Home manufactures standard sizes for many different systems along with custom sizing options if needed.

I’ll let readers do their own pricing comparisons to other brands and manufacturers, but I have found my filters to be a good value when doing my own cost comparisons.

Now why am I writing this and praising the customer service?

Well I placed an order with Amazon, received the tracking information for the package, saw that the package arrived at the Federal Express distribution center near me, and then remained at that distribution center for days instead of going out for delivery.

When we purchased our new heat pump few years back, I ordered a set of filters from this same company through Amazon.  The package arrived quickly in a sturdy box that protected the contents.  The next time I ordered a set directly from the US Home website.  I believe their listed price was lower than the Amazon price at that specific time, maybe I had a coupon code, or perhaps I was in some type of anti-Amazon or major retailer mood.  I do not recall, but I do know that delivery went just as smoothly.

This time, however, it appeared that my air filters received a visit from Rod Serling at the Fed Ex center and entered into the Twilight Zone.  I’m not sure if they are enjoying that trek, and I doubt if Mr. Serling or Mr. Burgess Meredith from the remake will be providing some closing words for me to ponder per the meaning and fate of these filters.

Thus, I decided to delve into cyberspace at the US Home Filter website where I clicked the “contact us” tab in the menu at the top, typed my name and some brief comments to include my Amazon order numbers in their online form and clicked “submit.”

From there you never know if your message will reach its intended destination.  If it does, will it be filed in that recycle bin that has replaced the older fashioned filing cabinet on the floor that could be used as a makeshift basketball hoop for written correspondence, apple cores, or just about anything for that brief respite from work at your desk?  Inquiring minds want and need to know.

Well it wasn’t long after clicking that submit button that my phone began to ring.  Naturally I checked what the Caller ID displayed before answering.  “Midwest Supply,” who is that?  I don’t have time for a robocall but then the better half shouted “I think it’s your air filters,” and I answered the ring.

It wasn’t a robot, computer, gremlin, Twilight Zone regular, or even a voice informing me to hold.  On the line was a person.

It was Ms. Allison Roberts, the Operations Manager for US Home Filter.  She was friendly, polite, and apologetic.  Very quickly she informed me that another package of filters was in the process of being shipped to me directly.  She had contacted Fed Ex and even though the portal to the Twilight Zone was in the Fed Ex distribution center, she wanted to send another package because most do arrive at their intended destination without embarking upon their own side vacation.

US Home Filter was not at fault.  All jokes aside, something just happened to the package after it left their warehouse.  She could have asked me to submit another order, complete forms with either Amazon or Fed Ex, but she just wanted me as a customer to have the product I purchased and apologized for the delay.  If by some chance the original box arrives, I have another box of filters.  It was that simple.  She provided tracking information for the new package along with her direct phone number and email address if I had any questions or concerns.  It was such a quick yet thorough example of customer service that used to be the norm, and today I no longer take such basic expertise in that area for granted.  Sadly, I do not take it granted because I’ve become a kinder and wiser individual with age.  As Robert Frost might opine, I am no longer acquainted with the experience as I once was despite more frequent opportunities for our paths to intersect.

Somehow my conversation with Ms. Roberts evolved to the point where she told me a little about Midwest Supply.  I was unaware that this was a family owned business.  Yes, I am guilty of not doing independent research before my first purchase where I relied on price and customer reviews.  I reckon laziness and karma sometimes works in one’s favor, although I am not planning to push my luck in that area.

Ms. Roberts is the great-granddaughter of the founder, and she said that operations are beginning to pass from her Dad’s generation to that of she and her siblings.  We spoke a little about “Mom and Pop” stores, and she related a few experiences that she and her husband have had with contractors and other businesses.  Our exchange was similar to what one would have had if standing in your local neighborhood hardware store where both proprietor and customers knew everybody by name and at the conclusion of the visit reminded you to say hi from them to another family member.

Ms. Roberts provided customer service.  It was an online transaction, interstate from Missouri to Maryland, but it was like watching my Dad with customers in K&B or likely what she experienced with her parents and grandparents at the family business.  I’m guessing that the latest generation is expanding their business as they must to compete in today’s environment. It’s obvious by their years in existence that the business has enjoyed success through different eras.  Regardless of storefront size, however, the focus remains on a quality product and being able to deliver prior to, during, and after a sale.  Customer Service is that key; that bedrock just like it was when workers and customers knew and interacted with one another in multiple venues outside a specific storefront or facility.

For those back home in Louisiana, professors and mentors from grad school at Mississippi State, friends and colleagues from my stops in Georgia and elsewhere, former students, neighbors, readers, critics, Saints fans, and everyone else, when you need to purchase air filters, please take a look at US Home Filters.  They’ll be getting my repeat business.  Now if only I’ll be able to enjoy the breeze (filtered in this case) coming from my vents as the Brees (Drew in this case) led Who Dats breeze (no injuries, consistent, balanced offense,  and a Dennis Allen coached defense along with special teams playing well in this case) into and to win another Super Bowl.  Even if that doesn’t happen this upcoming season I anticipate that I’ll be cool or warm (depends on this MD weather — the past couple of days we have had Louisiana styled humidity) with filtration by US Home filters.

Wow, can you imagine what it would be like if our son’s first Super Bowl to watch had the Saints?  Yep, I have thought about that what if he becomes a Dirty Bird fan. I’ll adjust because I’ll still love him, but in the wonderful life I pray he has maybe instead of his guardian angel being named Clarence, Hokie Gajan could play the part.  RIP Hokie

Again, Jen and I appreciate all the words of encouragement, thoughts, and prayers in our adoption process.  We hope that you will continue as we are in the final stages before traveling to bring home our son.  While certainly not a requirement or expectation for readers or anyone, but because a few have asked if you would like to assist with either airfare or other expenses related to international adoption, I did set up a PayPal account that I have linked below for that purpose.  While I do not want to discuss adoption in any comments, as always please message me directly if you have questions.

If anyone would like to donate to assist us with airfare or any other expenses related to international adoption, I have set up a PayPal account that I have linked below.  Please message me with questions or for any additional information.

PayPal link to support LAB LouisianaBoy adoption

Campaign Promise Update for the Forgotten

Accomplishment is a subjective term.  Still, I question the ability of “experts” who are also touting the brilliance of 266 blank pages and people buying such to make it the #1 bestseller on Amazon.  Many of these experts argue that President Donald Trump has had “unprecedented” success in the early days of his administration.  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer agrees with that assessment of the administration.  The forgotten individual is supposedly represented and championed unlike ever before in our history.

Yet it’s difficult to find anyone who gives specific examples that one can connect directly to this success. Stock market, jobs?   Obviously, there’s a seemingly unlimited scope of variables with some areas, but I have no issues giving whomever the president might be credit for favorable job reports and stock market increases.  Admittedly I am bothered more when whomever is president is blamed for unfavorable reports or problems in the markets.  Still, the imagery exists as to who gets credited and blamed regardless of their connections, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to meaningful involvement.

What could be cited as direct actions of success are 16 Executive Orders and hodgepodge of additional memoranda, but neither Spicer nor supporters discuss these.  Why not?   Among those was the rollout of a travel ban that did not go smoothly to say the least and quickly faced legal hurdles.  The justification for the immediate rollout was a safety argument.  It would seem, however, that the revised order would have been issued more quickly and without a 10-day delay before attempted implementation since it would have been too “dangerous” and counter-intuitive to announce and delay the first for even a 24-hour period.

New guidance for immigration enforcement has been implemented.  Instead of focusing resources to apprehending the most dangerous which sometimes required the cooperation and tips of those who have committed no crimes to provide assistance and information to law enforcement to help locate those who have already committed violent crimes, we have moved to a first-seen, first-apprehended practice.  Instead of talking a rifle and firing a couple of rounds at a target, we have begun firing shotgun shells at the same target regardless of distance in the hopes of multiple strikes by the pellets.  We might get more marks on paper, but we do not pierce the bullseye.  Also, anything near the target is often struck by the shot as well.

Financial advisors are no longer required to work in the best interest of the client paying for their services.  If that advisor receives an incentive to push a riskier investment or one that will likely result in a loss for that specific client, it is the client’s responsibility again to discover the motives of the professional.

Small interior waterways no longer have federal government regulations that would require specific businesses to divert runoffs and pollution from entering.  Responsibilities for cleanup and damages to the surrounding environment and wildlife falls upon those who want to enjoy that environment or say hunt or fish in that area.

If companies such as ATT or Verizon have their accounts hacked and the personal data of customers compromised, the FCC may not be able to demand accountability since the bar of expected security has been lowered to “reasonable measures.”  The chances that your internet searches will be available for purchase from the largest providers has increased tremendously.

Foreign companies can use eminent domain regulations to take private property from citizens for “just compensation” in the eyes of the business.  Rights granted by the Fifth Amendment and later expanded to provide protections from entities other than the government have been curtailed in the name of capitalism.  Despite promises on the campaign trail and more importantly despite provisions written into the disputed legislation from the previous administration, US products are not required for usage of this usurped land as for all intents and purposes foreign products have been grandfathered in.

We do not know yet what will become of healthcare.  If the current proposals do not pass Congress, the blame will be upon Speaker Ryan.  If the proposals do pass and prove disastrous the blame will be upon Speaker Ryan.  If we remain at the status quo, all efforts will be made to harm individuals with blame then being cast upon the previous administration and minority party.

We do not know yet of budget suggestions from the Executive, but we do know that one proposal to finance the construction of the border wall is to cut anti-terrorism activities and training for the US Coast Guard and the TSA.  FEMA and other disaster aid will also be cut to fund this wall.

We still do not know if Congress will ever pass any legislation as they have yet to do so.  Attention has been focused on potential Russian hacking and connections to control our government.  Attention has been focused not on the non-disputed results of the election and Electoral vote count, but to prove that millions of illegal votes changed the popular vote tally.  Attention has been focused on crowd size on inauguration day and that of various marches following inauguration.  Attention has been focused on merchandise with the Ivanka Trump name.

Perhaps accomplishments can be read in the #1 bestseller on Amazon, “Reasons to Vote for Democrats.”  The text need not be changed, and the title could be “Ways the Presidential Administration Has Assisted the Forgotten American.”  Many people argue that’s why they voted for Donald Trump, and political rhetoric aside forgotten remains forgotten despite what the experts spew.