In 1973, a movie premiered titled American Graffiti that had as it’s line “where were you in ’62? The movie dealt with the adventures of a group of young adults who had recently gradated from high school the previous June over a Labor Day weekend. The movie was set in Modesto California and was directed by a young man who grew up in Modesto and remembered those days of rock and roll music and “cruising” down the main drag of the city on summer evenings. That young director was George Lucas and the success of American Graffiti gave him the credibility to begin on his next project, a science fiction movie that was Star Wars.
Somehow it seems that our country and society has become consumed with “culture wars” between the political parties and among different lifestyles recently. But culture clashes are nothing new and there were times when there were great divisions in the United States. Of course, the period before and during the civil war always comes to mind when the nation literally split apart over the issue of slavery. But there have been serious culture clashes in more recent times.
There has been another mass shooting in the United States recently. This time an 18 year old man methodically shot and killed ten people at a supermarket in Buffalo New York. The shooter used an AR-15 semi automatic assault weapon that was legally purchased and had body armor on himself consisting of a bulletproof vest. He planned out the attack and even “cased” out the place before his shooting rampage. On the day of the shooting, he drove more than 200 miles from his home to Buffalo where his intention was to shoot and kill as many Black people as possible.
Regarding the Roe leak, Pelosi said, "This is a dangerous court to families, to freedom in our country," and Schumer brought a bill to the floor to legalize abortion. When it failed he said, "women’s constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack -- and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people." Neither of them is correct. In Schumer's case, the bill he touted would have legalized abortion right up until a baby is born. While a majority of people support abortion in certain circumstances, a much larger majority are against abortion without limitations, which is what the Senate bill called for.
Right now, the rate if inflation in the United States is the highest in forty years. Already a host of candidates seeking the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Rob Portman are campaigning heavily on “Biden’s inflation” as if his policies are the cause of the inflation in the country right now. However simple solutions to complex problems very often create another set of problems without really solving the initial problem.
Since I wrote my column last month, the daily news has been dominated by the war in Ukraine between the Russian invaders and the Ukrainian people. Clearly Russian Premier Vladimir Putin grossly underestimated the resolve and courage of the Ukrainian people and their President as well as the commitment of the United States and the NATO allies.
Ever wonder why countless people and causes -- supposedly constitutionally-protected actions for human, animal, environmental and other rights -- are increasingly flouted by the government? As long as business has its hand in government affairs, business trumps people and planet. To wit: The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), a first of its kind anywhere "Rights of Nature" bill, granted the shallowest of our five Great Lakes sovereign protection under the law. LEBOR passed ballot muster, and made its way through the regular channels, but not long after its enactment, was overturned by Ohio Attorney General Yost. Yost ruled in favor of agribusiness owners, who actually sued the state for the right to pollute Lake Erie with animal waste.
At the tail end of February, the Flamingo Writers Guild released a literary magazine called Quill Pro Quo and it is actively seeking submissions! Writers everywhere are encouraged to submit their work, but special preference will be given to those currently living in Parma.
I read a very interesting article this week in The Atlantic magazine on the future of COVID in the United States and the world. The thesis of the article was that COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths will resemble the illnesses caused by chronic tobacco usage. I found that very interesting and decided that would be the theme of my column.
Weather alerts flashed across the television screen warning viewers of the incoming snow storm, so many people rushed out for last minute items. Preparing for a week of icy cold temperatures, gusting winds, and blowing and drifting snow, I was one of the many who chose to do the same. I decided to make a quick stop at the bakery just a few streets from my home. Surely, kolaczki, paczki and pierogi would make staying indoors for the days ahead a bit more tolerable. Cold and dreary with only one other car in the parking lot, I decided to go for it.
Parma’s writing group—the Flamingo Writers Guild—is proud to announce the ‘Mingle with the Flamingos’ reading series! This monthly event features a new seasoned author each month who will begin the event by reading from their work, followed by an open mic that’s open to the public.
As I was getting ready to write my column for the next edition, two events happened that gave me the inspiration for this column. The first event was the celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The second was the failure of the Senate to change the filibuster rules to vote on a pair of voting rights bills before congress.
Last month the nation recognized the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and our entry into the Second World War. Prior to that day the United States was divided as to whether or not the country should enter the war that had been raging in Europe for more than two years.
Over fifty years have passed since Shock Theater ended. The program’s cancellation ended Ernie Anderson’s wig-loving Ghoulardi caricature, who at the time was a famous, over-the-top late-night performer who helped solidify Parma’s image as a town populated by polka-lovin’, high-socks-wearin’ working class people obsessed with pink flamingo lawn ornaments.
I am quite sure that most of us are optimistically looking at 2022 as being a good year. One in which we are not inundated with news items about covid 19, vaccinations and quarantines. A year where we can go to restaurants and visit family, enjoy party gatherings and sporting events, or visit a friend or relative in a hospital or nursing home without any fears. The impact of covid over the past two years has certainly altered our lifestyles and enhanced our awareness of health issues. There is one health issue that has taken a toll known as the silent killer…….Stress !
Good news from heaven the angels bring,
In the 1960s Broadway musical and movie Mame, the title character is an eccentric woman named Auntie Mame who is the central character of the story. Toward the end of the first act, the 1929 stock market crash leaves the family destitute and the mood becomes as gloomy as the weather. To liven things up and ease the depression, she sings a rousing musical number that has become the most popular song from that play and movie, “We Need a Little Christmas” as she lavishly decorates the family home for the holidays.
Deborah received one of Australia’s highest individual honors, the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2008 and is the chair for the non-profit, Australian Koala Foundation. Deborah wrote a Koala Manifesto stating 10 solutions as to what needs to be done so the koala's existence is ensured and thrives, firstly by initiating into law, The Koala Protection Act. The book contains a plethora of current and historical information and pictures.
Not a morning goes by I don't wake up grinding-my-teeth furious that, as humans, we're simply not working hard enough to bring this planet down so that we can move to our new home in my lifetime. It's time we admit what the richest people on this planet already know: Earth is just a stepping stone and, though those who've thrived here have done so through adaptation, the new law means colonizing and despoiling of a pristine planet where adaptation can be circumvented, if needed.
It was just eighteen months ago after the pandemic forced a massive shut down of the nation’s economy that the Department of Labor’s unemployment rate reached over 14%, a rate not seen since the 1930s. Now the unemployment rate has fallen to almost pre pandemic levels. Yet there seems to be a severe shortage of workers in many businesses and industries.
One of the major reasons why it seems that the country is so divided and dysfunctional right now is that perhaps too many Americans have lost our sense of being part if a larger community and have retreated into our own little bubble of family and close friends. Of course, this has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Hey YOU!” “Hey YOU back!” I shouted. As I turned to see who was calling out with such a loud voice, there appeared an adorable little girl. She came barreling up the sidewalk on her two wheeler bicycle headed right to my driveway. Apparently, my drive had become the official turn around point and “that's as far as you are allowed to travel” location. It had been sometime since I saw children playing in the neighborhood. Children who are now older and heading off to college. It was good to see little ones once again.
Hunting is inextricably tied to feelings of inferiority and atrocities against humans.
Hunters first learn to objectify, even sexualize the animals they kill, then transfer their pathology onto women and outside social groups. It's clear there's something sinister lurking in the brains of those who intentionally maim (bow hunting results in at least a 54% or higher wound rate) and slaughter nonhuman animals, particularly deer whose beauty, disposition, and comparable size are virtually unmatched in the natural world. In the foreword of Jim Robertson's Exposing the Big Game, the illustrious Captain Paul Watson states: " hunters can be described quite adequately as sadistic perverts and social deviants." Watson adds, "there is nothing to be admired from those who kill for pleasure, sport and short term gratification due to frustrated sexual inadequacies."
Before I started writing this column, I received the news that the Phizer COVID vaccine has received the full approval from the FDA. No doubt that the other COVID vaccines will also receive the full approval from the FDA soon. As soon as the FDA gave approval of the Phizer vaccine, the Pentagon has ordered that all active duty and reserve troops must be vaccinated against COVD as soon as possible or face disciplinary action. At the same time I also saw that the city of New York has mandated vaccines for all public and school employees.
Forrest Gump said it best in the movie; “Stupid is as stupid does”. Many years after those words were spoken on the movie screen, it seems that many people in the United States are proving Forrest Gump was correct.
We often hear that the deep divide in this country is due to partisan politics. But what drives partisan politics is the loss of the simple concept of right and wrong plus a great deal of ignorance and deceit. It actually started during the Clinton administration. According to Bill Clinton, lying was only wrong for other people. For him it depended “on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.” And then it spread to Congress. Prior to Clinton, when Democrats decided to impeach Richard Nixon for covering up Watergate, the Republican leadership told Nixon that what he had done was wrong and that they wouldn't support him. Consequently, he resigned. Clinton committed perjury, a felony. That had already been proven and he lost his law license over it. But when he was impeached he decided the law didn't apply to him, only to other people. Senate Democrats agreed. In his trial, every single Democrat chose partisanship over right and wrong and voted not guilty.
This is an addendum to my recent columns from the past two months.
Wilmer McLean was a grocer who lived near Manassas Virginia. On Sunday July 21 1861, his house became involved in the First Battle of Bull Run. Wishing to escape the war, he sold that house and moved further south and west to a small community named Appomattox Court House. Then on Sunday April 9, 1865, his house was again involved in history as General Grant met with General Robert E Lee in the parlor of McLean’s house to discuss the surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Civil War.
In 1955, a young Senator from Massachusetts, John F Kennedy, wrote a book while recovering from surgery on his back about Senators who exemplified courage to either speak out against injustice or bad policy. The book was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1956 and became a best seller. A few years later the author was elected the 35th President of the United States.
President Biden has introduced a massive two trillion dollar infrastructure bill that would not only repair our bridges and highways, but also bring broadband internet service to every corner of the country and increase renewable energy while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. This is a very big undertaking that has the potential to revolutionize our nation and keep the United States a world leader well into the 21st century. This bill is also called the American Jobs Plan and that much is true as the infrastructure projects will create thousands of well paying jobs throughout the country. It will also help reshape the nation for the remainder of this century.
During the week of April 4-10, we join libraries in communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.
I am sure that many of us have seen the classic 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It was a movie about a naïve young man appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate. The lead character, Jefferson Smith is played by Jimmy Stewart and the movie was directed by Frank Capra. There is a climactic scene at the end of the movie where Mr. Smith conducts a filibuster on the floor of the Senate in support of a bill authorizing the government to buy some land in his state for a boy’s camp. But a corrupt political machine had already rigged the vote against the project because they wanted the land for their own purposes. I won’t spoil the movie, but this movie is a classic “feel good” movie.
My father introduced me to many old expressions from his days. One of them was an old Army expression from the Second World War. It was SNAFU; which was short for “situation normal, all fouled up”. That expression from a bygone era clearly describes how our federal government has fouled up everything related to this pandemic.
Last month we saw the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States and the changing of the nation’s head of state. This month we celebrate President’s Day. How many people realize that there are within an easy drive from Parma four presidential homes or museums that are open to the public?
It's the 21st year of the 21st century. Time to reconcile that there can be no social justice or human rights without animal rights. When we choose to treat other beings with less than the right to exist for their own sake, we forfeit our own rights. This is not merely a call to veganism, though that would constitute a demonstrably huge step in the right direction. It is an awakening. A consciousness that informs, that is the bedrock of, ALL social justice. Until we can look into the eyes of other beings, great and small, from elephants and whales to ants and spiders, and honestly, humbly see ourselves looking back at us, we cannot call ourselves religious, empathetic or godly. It is impossible to love God while cherry-picking for whom we have mercy. When we witness tax funded police absolved of murdering and terrorizing people of color and feel outrage, we should also feel pain and grief for all the imprisoned, shackled, lynched, slain, impaled, hunted, chased-down, commodified and profited-off-of other beings.
As I am writing this, the year 2020 is closing out with two weeks left until we put up the calendar for 2021. To say that this year has been one that few will long remember is an understatement. A year ago everyone knew that the election would be contentious and it sure was that. But no one could have predicted a year ago the kind of year that 2020 would become.
I was really rooting for Parma’s education bill to pass. The schools have desperately needed the funding ever since ex-Superintendent Jeffrey Graham bankrupted the district and fled to Lorain, who then had the audacity to turn around and sue our school system in 2019 for telling the truth: our school district’s money troubles were the direct result of his leadership. I mention this so you, dear fellow Parma resident, may consider this point in future school levies.
In the Broadway musical Les Miserables based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel of 19th century France; there is a poignant musical number in the second act called Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. The scene is where a group of women lament about the students and friends who gathered at the café were all killed when the French army stormed the barricades during a protest against conditions in Paris during unrest in 1830.
Most of my baby boom generation grew up in a double parent, single income family where the father went off to work and the mother stayed home to take care of the children. That was back in the 1950s and into the 1960s. It was a “Leave it to Beaver” type of family life as portrayed on numerous television shows of that era.