Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care Dr. Vicky Wong Review

Last year I decided to try a different practitioner for my routine annual eye exam and this year had my second appointment with the same optometrist.  A few months following my initial appointment, my wife had her annual exam last year with the same practitioner. The practice is Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, and our appointments were with Vicki Wong, OD.

For those who are not among my regular readers, I’m a professor of US Political and Southern History by trade and a barefooted boy from the fields of the Hungarian Settlement, Louisiana, which is a rural community in Livingston Parish.  I have been blessed with what I’ll term excellent eyesight, but there is a strong history of diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and other conditions in my immediate family.  Thus, I spent considerable time observing and listening to different optometrists including low vision specialists, ophthalmologists and other MDs in subfields such as vitreoretinal medicine.  Shortly after I began graduate school, I had an appointment with an ophthalmologist who had been a student of one of my Dad’s specialists.  He performed his initial examination so thoroughly that I later joked that he climbed inside my eye.  Even during my doctoral work, I would travel down to Baton Rouge for routine vision appointments and could contact him directly for assistance when pollen levels affected my eyes to a degree that I had not experienced prior.

I type that because the only corrective lenses I have used are the non-Rx over-the-counter minimum magnification readers.  It surprises many, but because of my professional field I have used these types of glasses for maybe 20 years.  That was another benefit of my early visits to this younger ophthalmologist.  He understood that I often encounter faded handwriting in my research along with fine print that I suspect fleas would need to magnify.  He told me it was natural to have difficulty seeing some of what I read and not to worry about the need to magnify specific source materials when there was no change in how well I saw other documents or things in general. (Be at ease because I won’t bore you by pondering the proverbial if could fleas read philosophic ramblings).

To clarify, even with my vision, I feel that I have enough experience to differentiate between not just bad and good eye exams, but also those that are thorough by the practitioner.  Keep in mind, however, that my opinions and observations here are through the lens of a patient.  My field is not healthcare, and I have never worked in any aspect of the eyecare industry.

Let’s start with the review:

I was impressed by Dr. Wong during my initial visit, and she earned my confidence in her abilities as an OD along with a genuine respect for her as a professional.  As noted, following my first visit, my wife had her annual exam with Dr. Wong last year, and I was returning patient this year.  Hopefully unneeded marriage advice, but be confident about your commendations when you choose to recommend someone to your spouse.

I’ll detail the reasons for my opinion about Dr. Wong later in this essay, but I want to begin with the practice for which she works.  While I’m not an established Marylander, Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care is an established practice in this area.  According to their website, the practice dates back to the year 1964 and moved to its present location off of Shady Grove Road in the year 1998.  You can read a brief summation of practice history along with that of Drs. Harold and Alan Glazier at the link below.

I do not know Dr. Alan Glazier and did not converse with him during my visits to his practice.  During my initial visit last April, I did observe him interact with one of his patients, a young man of who appeared to be of high school age.  Obviously, I wasn’t privy to their conversation, but it appeared to be relaxed yet professional amongst the doctor, patient, and who I assume was the young man’s mother.  My impression was that all seemed comfortable with each other, and I’m of that school where I think communication is key to any type of relationship.  It’s a two-way street, and both doctor and patient in this case share the responsibility.  I saw a mutual conversation and not a lecture and that is something I want, respect, and honestly need with any medical office.

For readers who are not in the Montgomery County area of Maryland or the Washington, DC, suburbs and exurbs and will likely not be visiting this practice for yourself, I encourage you to take a gander at their website because it may prove useful regardless of where you reside. If you click on the “News” heading in the top menu, there are a number of brief but informative and easy-to-read pieces written by Dr. Glazier within the subtopics of “Eye Resources,” “Common Eye Problems,” “Eye Care,” “Eye Health,” and “News.”  I’ve provided direct links below.

If in the future I would have a desire to conduct some oral history interviews about eye health, the care, and practice related to such, then Alan Glazier would be an individual with whom I would like to connect.  I have little doubt that such an interview would be informative, but I suspect that it would also be enjoyable based solely upon my brief observation, personal experience at his practice, and a cursory perusal of his writings.  One of my mantras is that attitude reflects leadership, and this practice of his exudes a positive and professional vibe.

This part of my review may not be the actual division of the practice as it exists, but I viewed the office as an interesting mix of retail and medical.  That observation is not a criticism.

At my initial visit to the practice, I wondered if I entered the correct office because it looked like the layout one might find at a bookstore or coffee shop.  Comfortable couches and other furnishings that do not give that vibe of a medical waiting room greet anyone walking through the door I entered.  As I expanded my view, I noticed the eyeglass frames displayed on the walls with workers at what I’ll term generically as fitting stations.  To the right near the center of the room is a circular station with multiple workers where patients check in.  Fortunately for me, one of the workers at this station saw me enter and called out asking how she could help me.  In no way am I suggesting any problems with the layout, but it is different from walking up to a sliding glass window or receptionist desk and signing your name to a piece of paper on a clipboard before being recognized.  It’s different from the chain eyeglass businesses where one tends to see the “check-in service” desk immediately.

I had completed the “new patient” forms online from their website.  At the location I merely reviewed a print out for accuracy, had my ID and insurance cards copied, and gave the individual checking me in a two-page document where I summarized my unique vestibular condition, the purpose for a couple of Rx drugs first prescribed by specialists at Johns Hopkins since I do not take these medications for the conditions for which they are most commonly prescribed, and a more detailed outline of my vision health and family history than asked for on the patient forms.  It was a quick and easy appointment check-in, some friendly banter about my accent (I reckon that my Louisiana boy self sounds to Marylanders just like some of these East Coasters sound to my ears), an offer of refreshments, and directions to have a seat in that center area amidst the frames.  The check-in for the second appointment was just as easy.

Both of my appointments were point on schedule, and my wife’s appointment was less than five minutes past the scheduled time which I consider as “on time” in a medical setting.  My impression is that few patients will experience even minor delays of less than 15 minutes, and only in rare circumstances will any patient encounter an extended wait.  For example, with any medical facility the practitioner may need to care for an emergency and doing so will throw everything behind schedule.  Personally, I want that type of focus in medical practices of which I am a patient.  Even if I’m the patient waiting, I’m still not the person in need of emergency care.  Needing emergency care is a far greater inconvenience than merely waiting for something routine.  I have no way of knowing firsthand, but I feel confident that I could see Dr. Wong without an appointment if I had an eye-related emergency.  Depending upon the degree of emergency, I suspect a patient would probably be directed to any of the practitioners available in the office at that time.

For the first appointment, I had arrived about 20 minutes prior to my appointment in case of additional paperwork, but I only waited about 10 minutes before being called by a technician.  Once on the other side of that circular station, it looked like a medical practice with various testing equipment visible along with some examination rooms.

The technician was friendly, and the testing equipment appeared to be modern, well maintained, and clean.  Even though things looked clean, she wiped the machines prior to my placing my chin into the little placeholders.  I liked that she explained the purpose of each test and described what I would see or experience with the test prior to beginning.

As most readers here know firsthand, the routine tests for a “normal” eye exam aren’t difficult for a patient.  They’re quick and pain free.  Even the “awkward” puff of air has more bark than bite or breeze than gale force to keep expressions in theme, but for me at least it’s reassuring to hear exactly what will happen in terms of air puffs, flashes of light, and even what you will be looking at when it’s your eye in close proximity to anything.  The technician did a good job, and one thing that I’ll note is that she encouraged me to blink.  To some that might seem minor, but I’ve seen some technicians and medical practitioners in the eye health area appear to get frustrated if the patient blinks.  I’ve had others who perhaps unknowingly start a sound loop of “don’t blink, keep your eyes open” which for me triggers a blink.  At Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care everything took place at a comfortable pace.

After the tests, the technician directed me to some seating on the “medical” side of the office and said that Dr. Wong would be with me shortly.  In less than 5 minutes, the technician directed me into a small examination room.  I had just settled myself comfortably into “the chair” when Dr. Wong appeared and introduced herself.

Now I had researched both the practice and the practitioners there, so I had an idea about how Dr. Wong looked and more importantly had a familiarity with her educational background and professional interests.   In addition to the brief bio on the practice website linked at the beginning, you can learn a little more about Dr. Wong from this introduction video linked below.

Another representation of Dr. Wong as a professional can be heard in this short video from New Grad Optometry where she was one of several attendees of what I believe was the 2016 International Vision Expo Conference who discussed some professional challenges.

Her video is linked below.

My experience as department chair along with observations of some of the distinct challenges that my wife faces as a younger professional woman provides me with some additional insight into the points made by Dr. Wong in this video presentation.  Some may disagree with me, but I do believe that a young professional woman may and often faces a few additional challenges than I have faced.

Here, I’m only referring to those encounters where a patient in this situation or a student in higher education doubts or questions the competency of the professor or practitioner based upon superficial perceptions.  Dr. Wong enjoys a youthful appearance, and is a woman who I think is very attractive.  Of course, those characteristics have zero to do with her ability or competence, but those aspects like so many others make everyone’s experiences unique even within the same environment.

Please don’t read more into the above.  I’m only stating that I have seen some women have their professional abilities at times overlooked because some in society place an additional focus on outward appearance.  Of course, an appeal, trust, or even reliance upon our personal confirmation bias isn’t limited to appearance, gender, race, or any single group.  We all have our own obstacles and advantages, and I hope that we as a society can view those specifically to an individual and not across generic groupings.

I did not look at the dates of her medical degrees or think to ask, but I would guess that Dr. Wong has been in practice somewhere in the ballpark of five (5) years.  I equate what I experienced in the office to what I felt at about the five-year period of teaching and what I’ve observed from my faculty at the same stage in their careers.  It’s a fun stage of professional life because you remember your training as a student, assistant, intern, or resident like it was yesterday, but now you are discovering how to apply yourself to what you learned.

My second appointment the other day confirmed my initial impressions even though I failed to ask how long it’s been since she graduated. While this appointment was not as thorough as my first since I did not have my eyes dilated, Dr. Wong appeared more “experienced.”  Do not take that observation as a criticism because at both appointments she was professional and confident.  I just felt like I saw more of her personality shining through.  The reasons for my perception are endless, but I know from my experience that she has voyaged beyond that “once, twice, thrice” cycle where it begins to feel natural to display both training and experience simultaneously without cognitive effort.  Perhaps, I saw the personality because I was a returning patient and not new.  Maybe it’s because I had my 10-year-old son with me for this appointment.  I don’t know the reason I mentioned “experienced,” but I feel that Dr. Wong is progressing professionally and will continue to improve at her craft.  Succinctly, she has not reached her apex as an OD.

Regardless of profession, I think we all experience similar transitions as we progress in fields.  With Dr. Wong, I respect her as a professional and I also like her as a person.  While I do not “need” to like someone personally to respect them, I find that a positive feeling decreases stress and anxiety.  When it comes to medical relationships, I personally do not need any additional stress.

I recommend the medical side of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care to everyone.  You will receive appropriate and professional care from the optometrists and technicians in my opinion.  While I do not have firsthand experience, I feel that a patient would receive the proper referrals to an ophthalmologist, other specialists, or MD if necessary.  Dr. Wong knows the signs of conditions that are outside the realm of those in her specific area and is humble enough to not view herself as some self-anointed expert in every aspect of healthcare or vision care.  I asked plenty of specific and generic questions about eye health during my initial exam, and she handled herself as good as any I’ve met in her profession and better than many. There is an ophthalmologist with the practice according to the website, but I have not seen this individual during my visits.

An opinion of what I term “the retail” side of the practice is harder to discern.  It’s more difficult because the patient is in some respects more “consumer” than patient.  As a patient, my primary desire is competency.  Both needs and wants tend to broaden as a consumer.  Also, the focus is not upon service only but also tangible goods on this side of the business.

The frames displayed appear to be high quality and among what are the latest fashions and most popular styles judging from the marketing materials.  I suspect that the lenses offered reflect the most recent advancements in their craftsmanship.  Naturally, the price of the “latest and greatest” will be higher than older or more generic options.

If I were someone who had a complex Rx that required progressive lenses or unique medical aspects, I would most certainly look closely at the offerings at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care.  Likewise, if I wanted the latest in styles, I could probably find something that I wanted here.

For some folks, however, the fit may not be the best match.  To clarify, I’ll try to explain via some comparisons.  If your computer usage is limited to a word processor and web surfing, you do not need chips like an AMD Ryzen Threadripper or 18-core Intel I-9.  Those would be overkill for your needs.  I would love to have a need, excuse, or the bucks to buy something like the Massey Ferguson 6700 tractor I saw recently on TV; heck I wish I had a need for the ole Farmall Cub tractors Grandpa had back on the farm.  Historical muscle memory has me leaning to the right to see the ground past the steering wheel. (Note: my favorite tractors were the post-WWII configuration where seat and steering wheel were offset to the right to enable a clear view of the ground).  Residing in exurbia, however, I do not have the need for any type of tractor.

What I’m saying is that there is nothing wrong with the style of a classic Rolls or modern sports car; sometimes you need the power of a modified V8, but sometimes any running vehicle will get you where you need to be.  Sometimes walking or public transit has its advantages.

For me, the eyeglass offerings at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care are not a good match.  I’m lucky enough where I can find something to meet my wants and needs “off the rack,” but others may want or need the precise fit or look that a tailor can provide.

For example, my wife who has worn glasses for many years described her experience with picking glasses from this practice smooth and easy.  She liked the feel of her old glasses and asked the young lady assisting her for frames that were similar.  The employee directed my wife to one display, and she went to another.  My wife picked out two pairs, and the young lady came back to the fitting station with about four pairs.  Very quickly, they removed two pairs from the collection for different reasons and were down to three or four potentials.  Nose bridge didn’t feel right on one, but the overall fit felt better.  Her technician listened and retrieved what may have been last year’s model of that frame which had a different nose bridge.

My advice is to check out the “retail” section but realize that you have the power to walk away if the match isn’t there.  Walking away may mean to try another technician or going to another establishment.  The technicians have diverse personalities and tastes, so I think someone’s experiences might be as different as night and day.  If you sit in that central area while waiting for your exam, you cannot avoid hearing the interactions between technicians and people trying to purchase.  With some, it does sound like a used car salesperson pushing a specific model or package.  Others had personalities that seemed a better match for me personally.

If you have a negative experience with a specific technician, I recommend speaking to your optometrist about what happened.  I do not know the establishment’s chain of command, that is whether an office manager exists, but I know that the practitioners are a good resource.  Obviously, Dr. Glazier is the owner of the establishment and would be the “final voice” inside his business, but I would speak to whoever was your OD if they were available.

Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care can serve the medical needs of most and the practitioners there should be able to provide necessary referrals to specialists when needed.  I will continue to patronize the establishment and will recommend it and Dr. Vicky Wong.

If you are comfortable with your current eye doctor but have difficulty finding the “perfect” corrective lenses or frames, you might want to give the “retail” side of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care a look.  At worst, you lose some time.  If you are comfortable with “off the rack” with limited special needs you might not find anything new in terms of retail.

With the quality of the exams, I think most will be satisfied.  With Dr. Vicky Wong, I think most will leave thinking that they have met a qualified and sincere practitioner.

A final thought for those “old school.”

If you are there just for an exam and feel out of place waiting in the “coffee shop” styled area listening to the talk about frames and lenses, I suggest just taking a seat over on the medical side about 20 steps or so from the machinery or if that area is congested there is a little hallway on the other side of building that has a couple of chairs and televisions.  I just feel more comfortable on that side, but I am sort of “old school” LouisianaBoy.

I’ll be seeing you (yep, bad pun intended) as I hope to return to more regular postings in the coming months.  Thanks to all who have inquired about “what’s up?”  Life does change with children and international adoption adds layers to the degrees of change.  It’s been stressful.  It’s been relaxing.  I’ve wanted to yell.  I’ve smiled and laughed more than I ever imagined possible.

Admittedly, it felt odd being the father on Father’s Day when it was the first Father’s Day after Dad passed away back in Louisiana while I was overseas.  It’s new.  It can be scary at times.  Even the mundane, however, have become adventures.

We’re wrapping up with paying off the bills related to international adoption such as the airfare and such.  I’ll include the Paypal link here because most readers will be local and many continue to ask about what we “need.”

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

For people who happened to find this review in a search engine, there are no obligations or conditions to read this or other entries.  If you choose to comment, I ask for civilness and no vulgarity.  Disagreements and discussions, however, are welcome.  Again, I do not reap any financial compensation from this blog, and I doubt if I’ll ever see another AdSense check from the cat fountain video on YouTube.  I just offer my opinions and like to keep the big lump on top of my shoulders from becoming more empty than it is.  I also like to patronize local businesses who at their core are the “Mom and Pop” style establishments that played such a role in my upbringing.

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3 Outdated Gun Measures and no the 2nd Amendment isn’t One

Society has gone nuts. Suddenly our lives are binary, either / or, you are with us or against us. I say BS.

I’m going to pitch a hanging curveball for either side to hit out of the park. For gun control, and to protect the 2nd Amendment, how about if we REPEAL specific restrictions about guns? No, I don’t believe that repealing 3 measures that have been enacted from the years 1996 to the present will solve all the problems. I’m just hoping that giving both sides a half inning, we might move forward in the game of life.

Rest assured that 1996 is not a typo. I’m not advocating a repeal or any changes to the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment became part of our Constitution back in the year 1791. I’m suggesting repealing 3 firearm measures that became law beginning 205 years after the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

These 3 actions occurred after I turned 18, and I had graduated from high school where my friends and I kept firearms in our vehicles parked on school grounds. It seems like everyone argues in favor of the “olden” days when things apparently weren’t “Crazy.” Obviously, violence is not new, but I’m just asking if your or my 2nd Amendment rights were being violated prior to these statutes?

Our rights were violated is the argument today. That is the legal interpretation of the SCOTUS decision in Heller back in the year 2008 which changed the previous 217 years of precedent. Even with that decision, I think more people should read the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s Opinion of the Court more carefully.

Supreme Court rulings have changed legal interpretations. I’m not suggesting a challenge to that SCOTUS ruling. In fact, I am supporting the idea that a gun is a tool. Guns are powerful and can be deadly, but other tools can kill as well. I’m stating that by repealing these 3 measures that guns will receive similar treatment to practically any other tool.

Let’s repeal:

1) The Dickey Amendment that is part of Public Law 104–208 which passed in 1996.

I know that the recently passed Omnibus funding bill makes alterations to Dickey, so please spare me that argument.

What the omnibus doesn’t address, however, is that for those adjustments to mean anything then the Tiahrt Amendments need to be addressed so:

2) The Tiahrt Amendment that became attached permanently to DOJ Appropriations in fiscal year 2007. It began as a rider to DOJ Appropriations in fiscal year 2003. One can easily look up DOJ Appropriations for any year which I encourage readers to do.

Unfamiliar and don’t want to read dry appropriations documents?

Here, I’ll just link 2 pieces about Tiahrt from different perspectives, Gifford Law Center and NRA-ILA.

It’s true that Congresses since the 110th which made Tiahrt a permanent attachment have passed subsequent legislation altering its original scope. Still, nobody seems to agree about what information can and cannot be obtained because of the quagmire. Let’s just repeal this rider.

3) 15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 enacted into law in 2005.

I know, the avoidance of lawsuits and burdening our court system is a given and ready argument. It’s true that other industries have similar, although more limited protections. I’m not denying that fact. I’m just suggesting that guns be treated the same as other tools. If used properly, they are helpful and if used improperly they can have devastating consequences.

Please consider:

The Dickey Amendment technically did not ban gun research, only advocacy. Its real goal and one it easily achieved was to scare federal agencies into thinking twice about even collecting data that might reflect badly on gun ownership.

Tiahrt prevents the opportunity for the public to experience and demand newer technology. It limits the effectiveness of laws on the books by handcuffing law enforcement. It prevents the release of necessary data to conduct legitimate research upon which to base rational arguments.

15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 affords the gun industry specific protections that other industries do not have. Others have some protections, but not to the same degree and scope as firearms.

Remember that I’m not suggesting touching the 2nd Amendment, the modern legal interpretation, or adding any new laws. I’m proposing doing away with changes enacted in 1996, 2003 (became permanent in 2007), and 2005.

  • If we have the 2nd Amendment?
  • If as some contend the right to bear arms is a natural right that existed before the 2nd Amendment?
  • Why do we need these measures that were enacted just in the last 22 years?

Let’s Repeal Newer Gun Legislation, Not the 2nd Amendment

Unfortunately, I could not make it down to DC for the March last Saturday. I did, however, watch a lot of the events on News Channel 8 which is a sister station of WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington D.C. I do not know these students, but they made me proud. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with their positions, I think these young people should be praised and not chastised or in some cases vilified. Yes, they had assistance with organizing. Who doesn’t need help with an operation of that size or one in a distant community?

On the local news, I saw a group of Moms from my area who helped find lodging with volunteer families for many students. Local vendors provided items and services at discounted rates and many donated their goods and services. I know that some airlines allowed groups to charter jets. Robert Kraft provided a Patriot aircraft for transportation. I have not seen any reports, but I suspect that teachers helped prepare speeches.

At the very least give credit to the young people who delivered remarks on stage. Public speaking has always been fear for many people, and how many of us have stood before so many people to speak into a microphone. I even agree with Rick Santorum because I hope these young people are learning CPR back in their communities.

I’ll disagree with Mr. Santorum because I believe that the young people participating in the various marches were engaged in active learning. More importantly, they were demonstrating what it means to be human. They care. It’s sad to me that many critics under the veil of our Constitution belittle these young individuals. Somehow the critics must have forgotten the idea that we are all supposed to have the same rights.

Let us all think back to the times when we were kids or teens in school. If you’re anything like me, I imagine that at least once you have thought or remarked that “THIS IS CRAZY” upon hearing the latest episode of school violence, violence in your or any community for that matter, or some shooting be it an individual, a mass shooting, or even some unintentional discharge resulting in the loss of life. For these young people, FOR OUR KIDS, this is their NORMAL not in a foreign land but here in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. These “crazy” events happen in urban areas, in rural communities, suburbia, exurbia, and the sticks. It’s nuts. Regardless of where one stands on the “gun control” / “gun rights” debate, we should all agree that what’s happening in our country today in terms of violence needs to stop.

How to stop the violence. How to stop the bullying. Those are questions that we need to talk about together. We need to communicate with one another and stop shouting without listening. From my observations, that’s what these young people are really advocating. They don’t have all the answers just like my generation doesn’t have all the answers. They’re just the ones who have spent their entire lives with this “NEW NORMAL.” Folks, Enough is Enough.

I see these 15 minutes of fame pundits (well it’s more like 15 hours thanks to all the social media) asserting that these young people have no real plans of action or are too focused on what are just artificial scapegoats in guns and the NRA. They say the students neglect the root causes of society.

I call BS.

Look, I don’t think firearms are the sole reason for the violence and discord.

I’ve seen all these social media memes, listened to pundits, and read some well-researched arguments about how guns aren’t the issue. All relevant points and I do believe that the core of the gun violence problems/school discipline problems / poor worker attitude / poor supervisor or management attitude / seemingly fewer manners / seemingly less common courtesy / just a general lack of respect / etc., etc., etc., is society in general.

That said, take your pick as to what aspects of society. It could be bad parenting, being too lenient or soft, pushing people beyond a breaking point, television, video games, social media, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I don’t know, and I don’t have a solution.

Well, I do have a means to a solution which is everyone putting aside their egos and biases for real discussions and then working together on what is practically an infinite number of problems. Many of these problems are unique to that location so a single answer isn’t the right answer everywhere. I just know that nothing will change if we insist on talking at one another instead of with one another. I can’t be alone in my repetition of that belief.

Yesterday I heard the argument that these students and people like me should care more about abortion because more lives are lost there.

Perhaps.

Here, I’m not typing about abortion. I’m not typing about repression or an individual’s right of control over their own body. I’m not typing about “pro-life” being equated with “pro-birth.” I’m not typing about the unborn.

I’m most certainly not SHAMING any woman. I’m most certainly not disparaging the March For Life.

I asked the critic. What besides overturning Roe v. Wade and defunding Planned Parenthood do you propose to stop abortions?

I didn’t hear anything about the complex societal or social problems that might contribute to abortions. What about the cost of health care or other issues of poverty for example? Aside from being more “pro-life,” SCOTUS, Planned Parenthood and intimidating or demeaning young girls and women, I honestly feel challenged to think about what else this critic felt could or should be done. This exchange was like so many others of which I’ve heard or been a part.

Support adoption?

I’m obviously pro-adoption. If I wasn’t then I would not be an adoptive father. I can also talk your ear off about how difficult it is to adopt a child. If a biological parent had to complete all the paperwork, undergo all the background checks, provide details about one’s life in every state where one has lived since the age of 18, various safety inspections of one’s home, all the references, and then take a financial hit from closing retirement benefits accrued at a previous job in another state, I truly believe that the number of unwanted or unintentionally pregnancies would drop significantly which might in turn reduce the number of abortions.

I got off topic and repetitive, but can people just agree that many of the issues that lead to abortions are the same as issues that lead to violence?

Back to the point:

As a Professor of US Political and Southern History, I can argue about interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. Admittedly I believe that the legal interpretation during 217 years of precedent from ratification in the year 1791 until the SCOTUS decision in Heller is more accurate than the new legal interpretation we have had for about the past 10 years. Your opinion may differ.

I’m certainly not anti-gun. As a rural farm boy in South Louisiana, I often had my .22 rifle in my truck when I drove to school. Most friends had shotguns or rifles in their trucks as well. Unlike them, I did not hunt, but I encountered my fair share of cottonmouths and copperheads out on the water fishing or running my lines. None of us ever thought about using a firearm on campus. A gun is a tool. Too much power is just as dangerous as too little power. For example, it would have been asinine for me to use that .22 or my Glock if for some reason I went deer hunting or knew that I might encounter a large nuisance gator. Likewise, if I used my 30/06 to take out a field mouse running toward the berry fields instead of the woods while I was bush hogging or baling hay that would have been stupid as well.

I agree that criminals do not obey laws.

I’ll also argue that laws are necessary in a free society. It’s true that to have freedom one must sacrifice freedom. Discipline isn’t an enemy. It’s the extremes that we need to fear, and a proper balance that we must strive to obtain. That’s what our Founding Fathers accomplished with the drafting and ratification of our Constitution. We aren’t a monarchy. We aren’t a democracy. We are a Republic.

I do think certain laws are needed. Old ones need to be enforced and in some cases, new ones need to be written and adopted. I get frustrated if I must wait for a red light, but I wouldn’t want to drive where every intersection is a 4-way stop or involves a round-a-bout. It’s scary to think of an America today without traffic signals. When it comes to guns, however, any mention of a law seems to lead to nothing but arguments.

I have my ideas about reforms, but I’m going to pitch a hanging curveball for either side to hit out of the park. For gun control, how about if we REPEAL specific restrictions about guns.

No, I’m not advocating a repeal or any changes to the 2nd Amendment. I lack both the eloquence and knowledge of retired Justice John Paul Stevens.

For those criticizing Justice Stevens, he did not suggest the confiscation of guns. He understands, better than most of us, that the repeal of an amendment requires a new amendment to be ratified. Unlike most of us walking the planet today, he witnessed the only time in US history when such an action happened. I do not know his intent, but I read his Op-Ed as another attempt to facilitate rational discussion based upon the facts today and historical precedent.

YES, I said REPEAL some restrictions, and restrictions that only became enacted since I became an adult.

With this proposal, guns would be considered just like other tools. Guns are powerful and can be deadly, but so can several tools or “modern” conveniences/tools such as automobiles.

If I recall my statistics accurately, the National Center for Health found that the likelihood of death due to an incident with any motor vehicle is approximately 1 in 100. For comparison sake, the chance of death from cancer or heart disease is something like 1 in 6. The chance of death from a foreign-born terrorist is in the ballpark of 1 in 45,000 while suicide or poisoning (including overdoses) is in the 1 in 100 range.

The chance of death due to an assault with a gun is about 1 in 300+.

In other words, there are certainly things more likely to result in death or injury than firearms and things less likely such as being dying as a victim of a cataclysmic storm which is about 1 in 66,000. I knew people who died because of all the conditions or events typed above, and I mourned those who passed regardless of how. A life is still a life, and a death is still a death. Whether one (1) or ten thousand (10,000), humankind is affected and thus am I and you because we are part of humankind.

Keeping those general statistics in mind, let’s repeal 3 statutes that our system codified in “modern” times.

These happened after I turned 18, and I had graduated from high school where my friends and I kept firearms in our vehicles parked on school grounds. It seems like everyone argues in favor of the “olden” days when things apparently weren’t “Crazy.”

Obviously, violence is not new, but I’m just asking if your or my 2nd Amendment rights were being violated prior to these statutes that I suggest we repeal to at the very least start over from those “olden” days when my generation walked the schools as students?

  1. The Dickey Amendment that is part of Public Law 104–208 which passed in 1996.

Yes, repeal a law that has only been on the books for 22 years. I know that the recently passed Omnibus funding bill makes alterations to Dickey, so please spare me that argument.

What the omnibus doesn’t address, however, is that for those adjustments to mean anything then the Tiahrt Amendments need to be addressed so:

  1. The Tiahrt Amendment that became attached permanently to DOJ Appropriations in the fiscal year 2007. It began as a rider to DOJ Appropriations in the fiscal year 2003. One can easily look up DOJ Appropriations for any year which I encourage readers to do.

Here, I’ll just link 2 pieces about Tiahrt from different perspectives, Gifford Law Center and NRA-ILA.

Yes, repeal something that first appeared in 2003 or 15 years ago. It’s true that Congresses since the 110th which made Tiahrt a permanent attachment have passed subsequent legislation altering its original scope. Still, nobody seems to agree about what information can and cannot be obtained because of the quagmire.

Let’s just repeal Tiahrt.

  1. 15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 enacted into law in 2005.

Yes, repeal a law that has been on the books for less than 13 years. I know, the avoidance of lawsuits and burdening our court system is a given. Other industries do have similar, although more limited protections. I’m not denying that fact.

Yet, just compare the industry often used to “prove” the argument that this law is necessary for the firearms industry. Remember this protection only began at the federal level in 2005 or 214 years following the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

The automobile industry:

Can you imagine today if buyers of cars today were anti-safety instead of anti-regulation? If not for the threat of liability and regulations, seatbelts would not have been mandated and standardized in 68. State’s would not have passed laws requiring usage. Air bags would not have been required for all cars since 1998. Manufacturers would not have experimented with and marketed safety mechanisms such as crumple zones and anti-lock brakes.

Today, people would not seek out additional safety features such as:

  • Automatic emergency braking (AEB):
  • Forward-collision warning (FCW):
  • Blind-spot warning (BSW):
  • Rear cross-traffic warning: Visual, audible, or haptic notification of object or vehicle out of rear camera range, but could be moving into it.
  • Rear automatic emergency braking (Rear AEB): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent backing into something behind the vehicle. This could be triggered by the rear cross-traffic system, or other sensors on the vehicle.
  • Lane-departure warning (LDW):
  • Lane-keeping assist (LKA):
  • Lane-centering assist: Continuous active steering to stay in between lanes (active steer, autosteer, etc.)
  • Adaptive cruise control: Adaptive cruise uses lasers, radar, cameras, or a combination of these systems to keep a constant distance between you and the car ahead, automatically maintaining a safe following distance. If highway traffic slows, some systems will bring the car to a complete stop and automatically come back to speed when traffic gets going again, allowing the driver to do little more than pay attention and steer.

Sure, some of those technologies work far better than others. There’s always room for improvement, but most of that list are things developed after the year 2005. What if firearms saw similar advancement during that same period?

Think about it. The number of deaths due to vehicle accidents is lower today than it was prior to my birth. Does anyone really think the reason for the drop is less cars on the roads or better and less distracted drivers?

Why can’t gun manufacturers do the same as car manufacturers? Again this law providing additional protections for the gun industry passed 214 years after the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

Remember that I’m not suggesting touching the 2nd Amendment, the modern legal interpretation, or adding any new laws. I’m proposing doing away with changes enacted in 1996, 2003 (became permanent in 2007), and 2005.

Please consider:

The Dickey Amendment technically did not ban gun research, only advocacy. Its real goal and one it easily achieved, was to scare federal agencies into thinking twice about even collecting data that might reflect badly on gun ownership.

Tiahrt prevents the opportunity for the public to experience and demand newer technology. It limits the effectiveness of laws on the books by handcuffing law enforcement. It prevents the release of necessary data to conduct legitimate research upon which to base rational arguments.

15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 affords the gun industry-specific protections that other industries do not have. Others have some protections, but not to the same degree and scope as firearms.

Perhaps you might not care about possible technological advancements in safety, but this law also affects your pocketbook. Sure prices have increased for practically everything except for our paychecks, but seriously look at what the cost difference for essentially the same firearm is today than it was back when we were the age of the students Marching For Our Lives. Now think about the cost of ammo from back in those “good ole days” to now.

Could it be that the gun lobby has too much power?

Is the NRA really protecting 2nd Amendment rights or their financial interests? Prior to the Harlon Carter takeover of the NRA in 1977, I would have said that the NRA sought safe and proper usage of all firearms as its primary mission. Please don’t take my word, research for yourself how the organization has changed since the events that occurred in 1977.

Today, I see the organization as one that limits innovation, research, and in fact, advocated and succeeded in banning more weapons than Barack Obama managed as President. Yes, I know about the state law in Massachusetts, but that is a single state. The Armatix may not have been the right choice for everyone, but it should have at least been a choice.

Please in what type of sanity is a .22 deemed more dangerous and threatening to one’s safety than say a .500 S&W Magnum or an AR-15? Sure all can kill, but which has more force or the ability to fire the greatest number of rounds in the shortest amount of time.

One just cannot cross the NRA without suffering the consequences. Public opinion is to the point where one does not even feel the emptiness in their pocketbook because they want to believe the message at any costs.

Consider the case of Smith & Wesson when the company announced a move to increase gun safety in 2000.

Perhaps you don’t agree with these students marching. That’s your right just as they have the right to march. These children are our future. Agree or disagree at least they are attempting to create dialogue. I think we have many complex issues that need to be addressed. I don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to communicate and at least try to work together. If you feel threatened by these students, perhaps the problem is looking you in the mirror. If you feel it necessary to belittle or ridicule these young people, then what hope to do we have as a country?

Don’t accept what you want to hear as the truth, especially when the information comes from big money. Do some research and learn about the past which is filled with both mistakes and accomplishments.

I’m proud of the young people speaking out and saying that Enough is Enough.

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.

I HEARD SCREAMS. I HEARD GUNSHOTS COMING FASTER THAN I COULD COUNT.

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

MY MURDER HAS INCONVENIENCED YOUR LIFE AND YOU TALK ABOUT WHY:

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.

WOULD CARRYING A GUN PROTECT ME? I DON’T KNOW. I DIDN’T EVEN SEE THE PERSON WHO MURDERED ME SO IT PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE MATTERED.

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.

I’M SORRY THAT OTHER PEOPLE DIED BEFORE ME. I’M MEETING SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE WHERE I’M AT RIGHT NOW. SOME WERE MURDERED JUST LIKE ME. WHO DID AND IT AND HOW THEY DID IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER TO US RIGHT NOW. WE’RE ALL DEAD, AND I KNOW THAT I WASN’T READY TO DIE JUST YET.

IF I MEET SOMEONE MURDERED WHO WAS READY TO BE MURDERED, I’LL TRY TO LET YOU KNOW.

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.

I’M SORRY MY BEING MURDERED INCONVENIENCES YOU!!!!

PLEASE GOD, PLEASE EVERYONE, I WAS ONLY 16.

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.

Harvey and about the Day of Prayer

Some off the top of my head thoughts after hearing some pundit comments this morning.

Call me, well whatever, but I feel that politics and religion should be separate.  I don’t go to church services to hear political messages that endorse or oppose a specific candidate, piece of legislation, or a governmental ideology.  To me a good sermon is one that causes people to ponder and to reflect.  The preacher presents an idea and does so in a way that encourages you to want to discover more.

Likewise, I oppose politicians who make it their mission to include extended specific religious ideology in their addresses to their constituents or voters from whom they seek support. I’m not debating faith versus works, but on the political spectrum campaign and legislate your faith by your works and not by your words proclaiming that you have faith.

I’m sort of a Golden Ruler in that I feel like if we would all just treat people in the same manner as we would hope others would treat us if our roles, responsibilities, and feet were in fact staring right back at us.  My own spirituality is personal.  Personally, I believe in a God, a son who died on the cross, and a Holy Spirit.  Each are different, but yet are one and the same.  I can neither prove nor deny existence without utilizing faith to explain what I think are wondrous miracles of beauty.  It’s true that I can break down some things that I attribute to faith into concise tangible bits that can be seen by all, but to me the sum is often even greater than the individual parts no matter how magnificent those pieces may be.

That’s only a miniscule portion of an abstract that in itself would be a tome trying to summarize what would be a never-ending continual series of manuscripts about my personal beliefs.

What brings me here are the statements being made by politicians, pundits, and so many people about the National Day of Prayer for victims and response to Hurricane Harvey created by Presidential Proclamation.  I see nothing wrong with such an idea, and nothing wrong with such a proclamation, but I do want and expect more from any President or Congress than a mere proclamation or words because action is needed for assistance, recovery, and rebuilding.

Rescue in my opinion starts with the local.  Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs, Mayors, aldermen, councils, police juries, and the local leaders are the ones who need to oversee operations on the ground in their respective neck of the woods.  They know the area and the people.  State and Federal should provide equipment, manpower, and other resources to assist, but they should not step on the feet of those who know what needs to be done in that specific locality.  Helping to coordinate to keep everyone on the same page is one thing, but usurping the authority from those most knowledgeable and connected to the area and those people in dire need is another.

Specifically in regard to the Presidential Proclamation, I think it is a positive.  Such a proclamation, however, is not unique.  If all people were doing was to promote the proclamation, I wouldn’t be responding.  What’s happening, however, is specific ideological media and pundits are turning this into political rhetoric and attempting to demean and belittle others in order to make their own status appear higher and superior.  That divisive BS irritates me.  They’re trying to equate religion and politics, and when someone questions or disagrees the deniers either become the targeted or are barraged with this juvenile behavior of “so and so did it, so why are you outraged now?”

One, two wrongs don’t make a right, and many of us were outraged back then but you were not because it wasn’t as interesting and sensational as the plethora of really stupid and far-fetched claims being pitched in opposition at the time.

Trump’s proclamation is correct that we have a long history of such days of prayer and reflection in this country and on the continent.  He cited the Constitutional Congress which makes sense, but he could have also cited earlier in colonial history.  Both are accurate.

The concept is tradition, and President Washington and President Adams called for National Days of Prayer.  I have not fact checked, but I believe the next president to call for a National Day of Prayer would have been Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, so you have a gap of approximately 60 years.  It wasn’t because the US became anti-prayer or anti-reflection; it’s because unless I’m mistaken historically none of the presidents issued any “formal” declarations during the period.  The time-period is not one of my regular research areas.

Now I can say without historical reservation that President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution passed on 17 April 1952 for a National Day of Prayer and issued a proclamation for such on 17 June 1952.

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=87332

36 U.S. Code § 119 – National Day of Prayer designating a specific day can be found below.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/36/119

As president, Donald Trump followed this decree with his own proclamation on 4 May 2017.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/04/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-may-4-2017-national-day-prayer

He is neither the first nor the last, if we remain under the Constitution, US President to call for additional days for catastrophic natural disasters, accidents, or horrific events.

Barack Obama’s proclamations for National Prayer Day read similar to Trump’s and past presidents.  No, Obama did not cancel any.  A few examples below:

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/04/29/presidential-proclamation-national-day-prayer

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/06/presidential-proclamation-national-day-prayer-2015

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/04/presidential-proclamation-national-day-prayer-2016

When he spoke of prayer and reflection following such horrific events as the murdering of the children at Sandy Hook, some opponents deemed and still assert that massacre was a hoax.  Other opponents asserted that Obama was confiscating guns.

From an academic research perspective, if someone in the future were to read right-wing media articles and pundits remarks, it is a sad fact that they might come to the conclusion that decent, working class, “common” people not on TV or talk radio and who did not vote for Obama were happy as can be that these innocent children were murdered.  The truth is the exact opposite of course, but that’s how much influence the extremes have on society, and future generations will have a tough time figuring that out when doing true historical research.

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/16/167412995/transcript-president-obama-at-sandy-hook-prayer-vigil

Just an aside for all the pundits and media who still argue that Obama was anti-Christian and anti-prayer and so on:  Groups have challenged the National Day of Prayer signed by Harry Truman and the issuance of future proclamations coming from the White House.  In the court case that remains the deciding case about the legality, who was the defendant on the side of prayer?

That defendant was then President Barack Obama back in the year 2010:

https://ffrf.org/uploads/legal/SummaryJudgementGeitner.PDF

With prayers, kind thoughts, sympathy, hopes to offer encourage and to assist with recovery and rebuilding, for all impacted by this tropical system and other natural disasters, I am.

A Non-related aside:

We have a new member of the LAB LouisianaBoy Household.  My wife and I have returned from overseas with our 9-year-old son.  It was a trip with both highs and lows. The highs are obvious, but the low was that while overseas my Dad passed away back home in Louisiana.  It was a tough time emotionally, but I knew that Dad wanted me overseas to pick up his grandson.  In the coming days, I’ll try to come up with a few words as a tribute to Dad.  While he never got to meet his grandson face-to-face, he is here with us in spirit, I’ll try my best to teach my son as Dad taught me.  Dad will continue to live on through both me and my son along with all the people he touched during a full lifetime.  K&B has another of its old-school managers in Heaven.

I have never sought or accepted any payment or donations for this blog.  My position hasn’t changed, but if anyone would still like to make a monetary donation to help us with the airfare costs or other expenses associated with adoption, I will be keeping this PayPal donation account open for short period.  As I said on previous posts, any donation is appreciated but certainly not necessary to continue reading or interacting with me on this forum. 

 

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

A simple tactic to force members of Congress to listen to us — Louisiana Voice

This short piece from Tom Aswell is an excellent brief visual guide to one of the primary issues we the people face on Capitol Hill today.  In my opinion, people who have money to invest have learned that they receive greater returns by investing in elections and elected officials than they would if they invested in expanding existing businesses, building new businesses, and repairing and modernizing our infrastructure.  SCOTUS with its ruling in Citizens infringed upon the rights of the majority of individual citizens by allowing money to have rights like people.  The IRS scandals should not have been about targeting but disgust about why all 501(c)(4) groups did not face the same scrutiny for tax exempt status.  Our partisanship has blinded us to the influx and influence of dark money.  Who could have ever imagined that a special election to fill a portion of a Congressional term would see $millions upon $millions spent.  I worked for years in the University System of Georgia, and if the money spent for each individual vote would have been spent on infrastructure repairs or practically anything else it would have changed lives for the better and resulted in profit for the investors.  Folks, we have to see that something is wrong when spending to get a job where the salary plus the MRA (Member’s Representational Allowance) that many individuals do not know exists is a mere blip of a percentage of what is spent during the election.

I’ve written quite a number of pieces on Citizens and especially 501(c)(4) organizations on this forum and elsewhere.  The power of money in politics is only getting worse, and the voices of We the People are diminishing.

I do want to offer a little jambalaya for thought.  One major change on the Hill is that fewer Members reside in the area.  With previous Congresses, Members spent some time together away from the Hill with people who were on the other side of the aisle.  Today, that type of socializing is an anomaly.  When a Member lost or retired, they used to return back to their homes in the district they represented.  They had roots in the community and were part of the community so they cared.

I’m reminded of Jimmy Morrison.  Congressman Morrison lost a reelection bid to John Rarick before I was born.  He had been out of Congress longer than the 24 years he served before I started working with him identifying photographs, doing oral histories, and cataloging his papers while working on my MA degree.  Still, I did a lot of work for senior citizens who sought assistance from Congressman Morrison.  His property, Shadow Creek, was a showpiece with the azaleas throughout the grounds.  Ms. Margorie did so much for the arts and civic causes in Hammond.  Husband and wife did so much for Southeastern and embraced area causes.  It amazed me the number of people I met from my grandparent’s generation who were not interested in politics and really paid little attention to Jimmy Morrison when he was their Member of Congress.  These same people, however, talked glowingly of him using his influence and focusing his energy on local causes post Washington.

At the federal level, we don’t see that type of politician who walks easily amongst the people back in his or her district.  That type of elected official is even disappearing when they represent at the state level.

I don’t think money is the sole cause for this change, but I think we the people have somehow, perhaps unwittingly, accepted this change.  We are not better off because of it.

A Non-related 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.  It would be appreciated, but it is certainly not necessary to continue whatever connection we share.

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

In trying to illustrate why members of Congress become so inaccessible once they’re inside the Beltway, it would be to belabor the obvious to say that they appear to ignore the voters back home… …even as they seem hyper-attentive when the special interests whisper in their ears. It is certainly no exaggeration to say […]

via A simple tactic to force members of Congress to listen to us — Louisiana Voice

…and I Live on Maple Street Immigration Scapegoating

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.

https://lcr-pjr.doleta.gov/index.cfm?event=ehLCJRExternal.dspJobOrderView&frm=lcjr&task=view_job_order&view=external&lcjr_id=116833

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 legal immigrants are the problem, why is it OK for President Trump to further the problem by his own discrimination of American workers.

It isn’t a problem.  Miller is correct that immigration has changed throughout our history with ebbs and flows.  He’s correct about the timing for the inclusion of the words penned so beautifully by Emma Lazarus.  Using Miller’s reasoning in his fury with Jim Acosta, the Bill of Rights would also be meaningless because they became part of the Constitution 2 years following ratification.  It doesn’t make sense.

The numbers do not bother me.  For good or bad we have had immigration quotas. Having criteria doesn’t bother me, but I will always be concerned as to who decides the criteria. For example, we all know that the old literacy tests were not to gauge literacy but as an excuse to disenfranchise.

To prevent any misunderstanding, my maternal heritage would not have been allowed into this country if the RAISE Act had been in place.  I would not be an American.  The Hungarians from Livingston Parish who built that community would not have become Americans.  They would not have served in the 2nd World War.  Even as a historian, I don’t know the actual number of American and Allied lives old Mr. John was credited for saving.  He didn’t boast about his stars and battlefield decorations.  When I was a kid he only talked of war as “Hell on Earth” that sometimes one must enter.  No, Mr. John would not meet the standards of an acceptable immigrant because of his lack of education and skills before coming to the US.  His son would not have served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.  His grandson, a few years my senior, would not be an oral surgeon today who does a lot of volunteer work using his skills to assist the elderly.  I would not have earned graduate degrees.

Yes, it’s personal but what really matters is that RAISE does zero to address actual problems.  Businesses hire cheap labor to increase profits.  They ship jobs overseas for the same reasons.  Sure the law allows them to, and Donald Trump does what most others in his position have done to maximize his profits.  Still, just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.

The problem isn’t caused by immigrant workers but because we no longer educate and train people with the necessary skill sets for careers today.  Some people will not work in the occupations that immigrants will.  Some demand a better salary because that paid for these types of jobs is not enough.

It’s another topic, but we need to work on education and job training and match those to opportunities.  We need to create opportunities.  The idea is quite simple although the implementation is not in that it is multi-faceted without an easy one size fits all application.

Blaming immigrants; blaming non-English speakers; is just throwing gasoline onto a fire that shouldn’t be burning in the first place.  It’s just to appease those who want the monsters to destroy Maple Street.

The Original Version: 

Maple Street, any town, any state, USA — a non-descript residential community, working class families, homes, America.  The time was 4 March 1960, 19 February 2003, but it also today, the present, and perhaps tomorrow, the future.  The types of cars have changed on Maple Street.  Music with its distinct rhythms and melodies plays from different devices.  Clothing styles have evolved or devolved depending upon who is commenting.  Houses have more modern conveniences.  The people today – their faces, types of work, interests, and leisure time are more diverse in the present, yet that core, essence of being, is consistent with those who lived before on Maple Street.

The Sun rises, sets, and casts shadows.  Passages of time are marked. We rely upon electrical power to the degree that only its absence is noticed.  That has not changed.  Technology for the sake of enjoyment increasingly becomes more prominent in our lives.  Despite the “necessity” to be “connected 24/7,” in many ways today is a rerun of days’ past, but within this loop resides the last moment of calm reflection for everything and everyone on Maple Street before the monsters return.

In 1960, the monsters were supposedly aliens from outer space.  In 2003, those monsters were thought to be terrorists.  Today?  Well today, the monsters take diverse forms.  Terrorists still exist as do aliens even though that term today often invokes visions of illegals from other countries instead of visitors from other planets.  But our monsters?

Our monsters are surprisingly more mundane.  Their appearance is just like that of you or me or if distinguishable to us not so easily to others.  All that we know is that our monsters are just dissimilar from you, me, or whomever has either floor or soapbox and their voice transcends through the air in a manner that causes us to want to listen.  We see and hear what we want, and why not?  We are independent and free.  Past generations who lived on Maple Street defeated great enemies and overcame tremendous obstacles so that we maintain rights that seem natural or bestowed upon us by the Creator, God.

Still…

The monsters aren’t just returning to Maple Street.  The monsters never left.

They reside on Maple Street inside the very homes we seek to protect from invasion, from takeover.

We, the residents of Maple Street, harbor these monsters, but we allow those who do not live on Maple Street opportunity to rattle cages, break down doors, and crash through windows to antagonize these ogres to wreck additional fear, chaos, and destruction.  Why?

Some say that it’s only a theory, make believe, a fantasy.  It must be because nobody is a stranger on Maple Street.  There are no outsiders, no monsters, here unless they invaded.

We’ve lived, worked, played, and reared children side by side on Maple Street.  No need to fear those we know. Nothing can sever the bonds of trust that have been strung and joined with the strength and intricacy of dovetails. Internally the wood has been honed and glue has cured within the tracings of each interlocking joint.

Security except — all it takes is a single seed.

A seed might take the form of a seemingly innocuous thought, word, or gesture.  It’s miniscule in any derivative to what it can produce.

But how can a solitary seed?  The idea with monsters seems outlandish. To grow a watermelon perhaps, but from which a monster can spring?

Often, we don’t see, hear, and fail to realize that a pebble has fallen into the water, and the slight ripple that rolls out consumes energy until a wake of solitude becomes a tsunami.  It’s the flapping wings of a butterfly creating a gentle breeze somewhere that develops into a hurricane that batters another hemisphere.  It’s a snowball rolling downhill, building into what becomes an avalanche.  In our isolation, we are neither immune nor protected. We cannot run and hide from doubt.

Sure, we live in a Democratic Republic.  Maple Street is no different from Main or First or even Second Street.  We elect men and women to represent our interests.  We have a foundation for government in our constitution.

Our forefathers declared and won independence to live as they pleased.  These were exceptional individuals, but they were not infallible and learned that with government too much slack and reliance upon promises instead of establishing obligations would not be sustaining.  There had to be some sort of balance of power with checks to maintain that equalizing.

The Declaration of Independence listed natural rights.  It justified a revolution by enumerating the reasons to make this military conflict distinct from being just another rebellion against authority.  It proposed ideas for a new type of government.

The Articles of Confederation became this government and that government managed to obtain the surrender from Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.  With this government, we gained from others the undeniable recognition as being independent with the signings of the Treaty at Paris.  We had personal responsibilities but limited duties to one another.  We were free to govern and live as we pleased.  We only needed to prove it to others and more importantly to ourselves.

The promises of the Declaration, however, did not translate seamlessly into practice.  How could it?  For example, In plain sight yet hidden as the Purloined Letter the document told of monsters near, “the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”  All men were not created equal.

Yet as John Adams penned to Hezekiah Niles years later and with the power of hindsight on 13 February 1813:

“The Colonies had grown up under Constitutions of Government, So different, there was so great a Variety of Religions, they were composed of So many different Nations, their Customs, Manners and Habits had So little resemblance, and their Intercourse had been so rare and their Knowledge of each other So imperfect, that to unite them in the Same Principles in Theory and the Same System of Action was certainly a very difficult Enterprize. The compleat Accomplishment of it, in So Short a time and by Such Simple means, was perhaps a Singular Example in the History of Mankind. Thirteen Clocks were made to Strike together; a perfection of Mechanism which no Artist had ever before effected.”

That Singular Example in the History of Mankind, however, almost imploded under the same generation who accomplished the “perfection of Mechanism which no Artist had ever before effected” before a Miracle at Philadelphia occurred.  That miracle was the Constitution, but it was not ratified by the existing state governments but specially called conventions.

  • See Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May – September 1787.
  • Paperback: 346 page
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st edition (September 30, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1299961029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316103985

The Constitution was another revolution whose success depended upon acceptance, not battling a foreign power to gain independence, and obviously neither tradition nor force which were the traditional roots for other governments.  To perpetuate, the Constitution had to work and become recognized as legitimate.  That was a long road full of unseen, unknown, and untold obstacles.

It was a road that nobody had traveled successfully prior, but one upon which we on Maple Street have trekked for now for 228 years.

Yet with 140 characters at a time, that road leading to Maple Street crumbles.  It’s akin to 140 jackhammers concentrated upon a single square inch of pavement.

It isn’t just the tweets.  Backhoes in the form of pundits on radio, television, and in print take swipes.  Social media has given most of us access to sticks of dynamite to use for our own satisfaction and sometimes our usage is absent of consideration for others.

It would be hypocritical to suggest that this is the first time someone has attempted to sow seeds on Maple Street.  Others have:

“And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:”

  • Matthew 13: 4-7, KJV

Hence, the reason for jackhammers trying to create fertile ground within a square inch in the middle of Maple Street.  The seeds cast, however, are to bear dissension, discord, and hate instead of fruit.  For the sower is powered by and recognized for amassing personal wealth of which these seeds bring hefty prices upon the open market.  Being loud and flamboyant draw more recognition than skill.

Again, these techniques are not new.  In Southern US History there is a phrase “revolt of the rednecks” that characterizes the rise of the flamboyant Southern politicians such as Theodore Bilbo and James Vardaman in Mississippi, Pitchfork Ben Tillman in South Carolina, and the Kingfish Huey P. Long in Louisiana among others.  Presentation in a carnival like atmosphere attracted crowds who feasted on messages tailored to their emotional hunger.

Even the Bible told of such days:

“Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:”

  • Psalm 49: 5-7 KJV

Some people inquire, why do you have this fixation, this interpretation today as opposed to administrations past?

Despite what some may think, this fixation is not new.  History is littered with examples.  Many became far more horrific and destructive than is likely or even has a statistical possibility beyond that extreme outlying data point of occurring.

One worry is our growing ignorance of history.  That’s a criticism of us as a people, but it’s also an understandable product of feeling overwhelmed and human limitations.  When learning ceases, we cease to exist.  Another is that some exaggerate history.  Both scholars and those with only a cursory knowledge embark upon that route.  Monsters do not need to be created from windmills for the windmills themselves have problems that because of neglect present their own dangers.

Why today?  Today is the present.  We may learn from the past, but we do not live there.

We may prepare for the future, but that future is not the present.  The future does, however, come faster than we often anticipate because it is only the next line of text and doesn’t even require a flipping of page.  We live in the present, so it matters.  It affects us directly and will mold our future.  That is why today.

The man elected as leader per the procedures established in the Constitution implies scandals or weakness at every turn.

It escapes some, but to become “great again” means that failure occurred.  The question is when and the fingers are pointed elsewhere,  but weren’t we on Maple Street around for that failure?

He campaigned that the election would be fixed, rigged against him. In fact, he would not commit to accepting the results prior to but only after the Electoral votes showed in his favor.  That was unprecedented.

Even with victory, he is not accepting and moving past for the loss of the popular vote count is considered an obvious sign of fraud.  He made that charge, not opponents.  Opponents made excuses and lamented their loss, but it was the victor who originally alleged fraud.

Many will say false, and chant Russia, Russia, Russia.

Russia is still an unknown.  We don’t have all the facts, yet the President and supporters deem even the premise that Russia could have influenced our election as a witch hunt.

The other night a pundit who went to great lengths to demean and to discredit everyone else (although he did acknowledge Politico positively before blaming them of stopping what they started to report) whined about the past.  Why didn’t the media cover Hillary Clinton and Ukraine?  Why didn’t the media cover Barack Obama and Israel?  Why the outrage about this email chain and no outrage about Clinton’s server or “lost” emails?

If there was no coverage, how or why did the preceding Congresses engage in so many hearings and conduct so many investigations?  I can only assume about specifics, but some investigations are continual and ongoing.

Why didn’t this pundit’s television network and the platforms that host many of his commentators and experts flood the American public with these stories?  Did they really believe that propagating birtherism was more important?  Did they really believe that repeated detailed accounts of Barack Obama on the golf course should take precedence to potential election interference?

If CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, New York Times, and others are free to investigate, why isn’t FOX?  If “mainstream” silences opposing views, why can I tune into the Blaze and similar on television?  Why do I watch Sinclair push these recorded spots on local news that might be an affiliate of any network?

At Metro stations, there are print newspaper boxes for WAPO right next to a box containing print copies of the Washington Times.  Alternative platforms and outlets exist, and one does not need to search for them.  It’s impossible to avoid them just as one finds it impossible to avoid mainstream media.  Either side rains down enough talk and print to flood entire communities and states.  Together that amount of flooding is unprecedented in all of history, not just here in the United States.

When anyone clamors “no coverage,” I think that person must have been marooned on Gilligan’s Island and even then, had zero clue as to what that little white radio was, let alone how to turn it on and tune it to a station.  Seriously this pundit may only be a commentator, except for the times when it’s convenient to refer to himself as an investigative journalist or reporter, but he appears on a major network that is widely distributed.  FOX News cannot be confused with my high school class news report that at best could reach an audience of about 50 of my classmates all of whom knew each other because our hometown didn’t even have a large enough population to be classified as a town.

Instead this pundit like the President, and the White Communications staff continually informs us that any disagreement in the media from what they say is “Fake News.”  The topic doesn’t matter.  For example, it was the largest inauguration crowd in history, the photos are false, doctored.  Apparently, size must matter more than the people or their feelings.

Cries of why wasn’t this person or that person investigated are continual.  Everyone before failed as President.  America stopped being great, but he alone is great.

Opposing voices are demeaned with the objective to discredit.  Cable news personalities are “crazy,” and “dumb as a rock.”  They are bullies to the leader of the free world.

It doesn’t make sense that the most powerful with the most resources are not just threatened but bullied by others who are so small that they can be knocked out by that small seed cast.

Many readers are of age to remember first-hand, and those of my age and younger should have been taught McCarthyism in their US History courses.  Admittedly Edward R. Murrow might be disappointed in the overall state of journalism today, but would the current administration and its pundits be forever in hiding if they faced probing less than even 10 percent of what Murrow did less than four score ago?

What if Joseph Welch posed the questions in the hearings of today?  I’m scared to think the reaction because hollering, denigrating, and attempting to intimidate Mr. Welch by any means didn’t seem to work effectively.  Partisanship existed at that time.  Regionalism had a greater influence in Congress than political party as the Solid South still existed.  Racism and other such ideas that imbued society were out in the open.  Yet the people of the generation recognized the monsters and managed to distinguish monster from man and survived this critical period.

Today, however,  in non “Fake News” we have accusations such as:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

 When is enough finally enough?

Here on Maple Street the reality is that our elected leaders are not calming fears and promoting cooperation and humanity.  It’s suspicion and division to open chasms for those seeds to germinate.  Everyone else is blamed or denigrated.  The example from the top is everything should be about me.  Everyone else receives breaks, gets rewarded, is given free passes, but what about me?  Remember, I’m President and you are not.

Opposing views of this description retort that Barack Obama did the same or worse.  He was the divider in chief.  Crooked Hillary Clinton committed more crimes and atrocities but never faced the same level of scrutiny.  Bill Clinton lied.  Loretta Lynch, James Comey, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others have gotten away with everything and nobody noticed, complained, or cared.

Here’s a shock.  I feel no need to argue those points.

Let’s just agree that everything you want to say about the previous administration is true.  Everything you want to say about the Clinton organizations is true.  Everyone is unfairly attacking our elected leader today.  I’ll accept that with no argument.

Say that it’s true, but how does that justify doing the same bad things?

Just because others did it, isn’t a valid reason.  If I had a nickel for every time one of my schoolmates from K through 12 listened to their Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, or our teachers answer us with some version of “just because ______ is doing it doesn’t mean you get to do it,” I could probably pay a mortgage payment at least.

Continuing that type of lame excuse only slides us closer to falling off the slippery slope.  How is that making us great again?  Progress needs to start someplace, and progress doesn’t mean pulling those with opposing views down or blaming everyone else for not asking immediately “how high” when you say “jump.”

Regardless of personal political ideology, as an American, doesn’t it seem strange that some profess disgust at the public perception of a President and First Lady who have celebrated many anniversaries and are rearing two daughters together.  How many scandals appeared in opposition media with promises to that the information would “cause liberal heads agony,” “make the left furious,” “incriminate all Democrats?”  [I purposely chose to downplay the wording of these “news reports and sources”].

That was common practice with Barack and Michelle Obama.

Honestly, we don’t know about fights and stuff behind closed doors just as they don’t know about your family or my family squabbles.  Here on Maple Street we see everything that happens outside, but not under another family’s roof.  We see the public image and hear what they say about themselves.

Likewise, we don’t know everything about Donald and Melania Trump and their young son behind closed doors.

We do know that the President had been married twice previously.  Sadly good people get divorced, I’m not making judgments.  I’m pointing out that as recent as the 1950s with Adlai Stevenson, a president who had been divorced was unthinkable for many Americans.  That changed obviously with Ronald Reagan.

This reordering of the importance of various traits and characteristics by candidates and electorate are not new nor relegated to a single party or ideology.  In the 1980s, Gary Hart’s political career and hope for the presidency ended because of sex scandals.  By the 1990s Bill Clinton won consecutive terms despite sex scandals.  Clinton defeated a man with a distinguished military service record in George H.W. Bush even though Clinton dodged the draft.

Today our Commander in Chief is regarded by supporters as a military advocate even though he also dodged the draft.  Supporters excuse him for criticizing a Veteran like John McCain and apparently accept the President’s reason that he doesn’t like individuals who were captured by the enemy.  He only respects those who were not captured is considered “reasonable” for the President to say about an American POW.

It doesn’t make sense.  Perhaps in a cult it makes sense, but has partisanship and our own level of discourse really disintegrated to that level?

We can all talk about “locker room banter,” but would you accept your son saying that he would walk up to a woman and grab her by the #%$$*?  What if someone said that to your daughter, wife, or Mom?

Does it matter?  Perhaps not, but isn’t it traditional to hold Presidents and leaders to at least the same standards as we hold ourselves and our children?   Inside a classroom, I expect more from myself than I do any of my students.  As a student, I gauged my success by how well I performed, not what my classmates did.  As a child those with authority over me practiced the “do as I do” philosophy.  The concept of “do as I say, not as I do” was inconceivable.  I know I’m not the only one reared in that manner.

As far as we know, Barack Obama has never admitted to having extramarital affairs.  Donald Trump in his own books has bragged about past affairs that played roles in his divorces.  Who are we to judge, but how can Obama be described as surely not Christian while Trump is a true Christian?  Perhaps both, perhaps neither, but would you rather your child set a goal for multiple marriages and affairs or for in sickness and in health until death do us part?

We seem to accept and sadly justify standards of a public figure who many only know as the character he played on the Celebrity Apprentice.  Most people I know would be appalled or offended if someone they actually knew behaved in the same manner.  Tweeting insults is not hitting back hard.  Dodging the draft does not make one understanding, sympathetic, and supportive of the military.  Excessive boasting, bragging, whining, complaining, and making everything about me are not attributes that we equate to success and leadership.

Here on Maple Street our views are obscured.  We used to be a group.  We used to care about one another.  Now it’s suspicion, jealousy, and animosity.  Things aren’t going as we think they should so it’s Don’s fault, and we run to stop him.  He fights back and yells that Charley is the bad person, and the crowd moves toward Charley.  Charley becomes frightened and points his finger at Steve.  You’re the one; you started this and as Steve backs away he cries out that it’s Tommy, it’s the kid, remember he knew.  Everyone is a danger, but the one taken down first is the one with the least resources or skill to fight back.  One by one, we succumb.  It’s a mob scene, a riot on Maple Street.

Martin Niemöller wrote:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Caught within the chaos we cannot see the big picture, but on the top of a hill overlooking the brutality, bloodshed, and destruction, everything becomes clear…

“Understand the procedure now? Just stop a few of their machines and radios and telephones and lawn mowers …. Throw them into darkness for a few hours, and then just sit back and watch the pattern.

“And this pattern is always the same?”

“With few variations. They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find … and it’s themselves. And all we need do is sit back … and watch.”

“Then I take it this place … this Maple Street … is not unique.”

“By no means. Their world is full of Maple Streets. And we’ll go from one to the other and let them destroy themselves. One to the other … one to the other … one to the other –”

Lastly:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices-to be found only in the minds of men.

For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. A thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own for the children …

and the children yet unborn, (a pause) and the pity of it is …

that these things cannot be confined to … The Twilight Zone!”

And I live on Maple Street, and so do the monsters, for those monsters are part of me.

The title and thought of this essay came from The Twilight Zone, Season 1, Episode 22, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” that aired originally on 4 March 1960.

Readers can most likely catch the episode being rerun in local television or networks.  It is also available on many streaming sites.  I’m linking an episode guide entry from The Twilight Zone Wiki for additional information.

In the year 2002, a remake of the Twilight Zone debuted on the UPN Network with Forrest Whittaker assuming the Rod Serling role as narrator.  This remake should not be confused with the remake that aired for two seasons on CBS beginning in the year 1985 with a third season produced for syndication.

In the second remake (2002), an episode titled “The Monsters Are on Maple Street,” Season 1, Episode 32 made its debut on 19 February 2003.  It offered a contemporary take of the original.  I’m linking the IMDb entry for more information.

Episodes from this series remake are not as prevalent on our airwaves today as the original Twilight Zone.  Still, one can find this episode many streaming sites.  Myself, I find comparing these episodes quite interesting, but I would rate the original as the superior version.

A Non-related 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.  It would be appreciated, but it is certainly not necessary to continue whatever connection we share.

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

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.

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

 

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