Denial can be a savagely dangerous

Neil deGrasse Tyson says that this video might just be the most important thing he has ever said.  That’s quite a statement considering his long, illustrious career as an American astrophysicist.

Often people aren’t comfortable with science and new ideas.  Some folks are still denying many components of evolution.  Parents are still attempting to dictate what is taught in science class across the nation.

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RIP, Joe Medicine Crow

According to Crow tradition, a man must fulfill certain requirements to become chief of the tribe: command a war party successfully, enter an enemy camp at night and steal a horse, wrestle a weapon away from his enemy and touch the first enemy fallen, without killing him.

Joe Medicine Crow was the last person to meet that code, though far from the windswept plains where his ancestors conceived it. During World War II, when he was a scout for the 103rd Infantry in Europe, he strode into battle wearing war paint beneath his uniform and a yellow eagle feather inside his helmet. So armed, he led a mission through German lines to procure ammunition. He helped capture a German village and disarmed — but didn’t kill — an enemy soldier. And, in the minutes before a planned attack, he set off a stampede of 50 horses from a Nazi stable, singing a traditional Crow honor song as he rode away.

“I never got a scratch,” he recalled to the Billings Gazette decades later.

Medicine Crow died Sunday at 102, according to the Gazette. He was the Crow’s last war chief, the sole surviving link to a long military tradition. But he was also an activist, an author, a Medal of Freedom recipient and a vital chronicler of the history of his tribe.

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Earl Hamner Jr.– A Virginia gentleman of great talent

Earl Hamner, Jr.
Earl Hamner, Jr.

Earl Hamner Jr., the versatile and prolific writer who drew upon his Depression-era upbringing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to create one of television’s most beloved family shows, “The Waltons,” has died. He was 92.

Hamner died in Los Angeles and had recently been battling pneumonia, said Ray Castro Jr., a friend of Hamner’s who produced a documentary, “Earl Hamner Storyteller,” about the writer. Castro said he learned about Hamner’s death from the writer’s daughter, Caroline. A Facebook post by Hamner’s son, Scott, stated his father died surrounded by family at Cedars Sinai Hospital while John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” was playing.
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Nancy Reagan dies at age 94



Nancy Reagan has died at the age of 94.  Her passing marks the end of an era.

Nancy was a fierce warrior against drugs and against Alzheimers.  She crossed many barriers to move science forward on the issue of Alzheimers, to include stem cell research.

Nancy Reagan was also fiercely protective of her husband, Ronald Reagan.

RIP, Nancy Reagan.  You were a remarkable first lady.


Citizens of Charlottesville and beyond clash over Lee / Jackson Day


A debate over whether to pan Charlottesville’s annual observance of a holiday honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson plunged the Charlottesville City Council Chambers into chaos at times Monday.

On Feb. 17, the council is scheduled to decide whether Charlottesville will continue to mark the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the third Monday of January — as a local government holiday.

“There is a sentiment in our community that the holiday is outdated and offensive to many, and should be retired here in the City,” City Manager Maurice Jones wrote in a Jan. 28 email to city employees.

Charlottesville does not give employees a paid day off on Veterans Day, he noted, at the meeting.

The debate Monday drew speakers from Petersburg and Richmond and letter writers from Oregon, Maryland and Ohio, some of whom signed their notes “In Honor of Old Virginia” or “Respectfully … a daughter of the South.”

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The Roosevelts: stark reminder of better times?

Excerpt from Ken Burns’ ‘The Roosevelts’ Reveals Everything Wrong With Our Current Political Class’  by Joseph Palermo

Ken Burns’ seven-part PBS series on the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, is a remarkable achievement. Burns sheds a poignant new light on the personal and public lives of three monumental figures in 20th Century American history. And in doing so, he illustrates the relative rottenness of the hacks, partisans, and plutocrats who make up the political class that rules America today.

By exploring the lives and times of TR, FDR, and ER Burns shows that in our not-so-distant past the governing institutions of this country were actually responsive to the needs and desires of working-class Americans. This superb and moving portrait is a perfect fit for our times. The utter failure of our current “leaders” is glaring by comparison.

Yes, TR was a warmonger, and FDR signed the order that imprisoned innocent Japanese Americans. There are long lists of both presidents’ failures. But we shouldn’t let those flaws bury the fact that both TR and FDR were not afraid to stand up to big corporations and Wall Street if they viewed their actions as damaging to the country. That alone is probably the biggest difference between those leaders of the early decades of the 20th Century and today.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Patriotism over Partisanship

marine barracks 2

Robert F. Kennedy posted the following piece in the Huffington Post  on May 19.  I reposted the opinion piece from his blog in its entirety because it spoke to a time that apparently is no longer with us; when patriotism was more important than partisanship.


My uncle, President John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning best-seller Profiles in Courage recounted the stories of courageous U.S. Senators — Republicans and Democrats — who chose patriotism over partisanship and sacrificed personal ambition to national welfare. The GOP’s recent efforts to gin up presidential scandals in punitive hearings, media lynchings, and weekly calls for impeachment, evince a party-wide pathology that puts partisanship over patriotism. For Republicans who believe that patriotism ends with lapel pins and cowboy costumes, it might be useful to consider some historical examples of true patriotism by a political party.

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Full Circle at last: Bob Dylan advertizes America

Dear God! I have come full circle. I never thought I would live to see the day when Bob Dylan advertised for America.  Yes, Bob Dylan was the unofficial, self-appointed poet laureate of the 60’s.  He marshaled in protest and protest music like no one else.  He stood for defiance and what was wrong with America’s youth.  He stood against all our parents had fought for.  Or did he?

The bad boy of the 60’s, that gravel-throated young man who had most American parents screaming “turn that commie pinko bastard off!!!” to their kids is now the grand spokesman for America. Pool hall, suit, and somewhere, an American flag.

Bob Dylan, you have made me proud.

Pete Seeger: 1919–2014 RIP, Pete

What a life! Pete Seeger has made more contributions to American folk music than just about any other individual. Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan probably rival his sheer volume but I don’t think they passed it. reports:

With his lanky frame, use-worn banjo and full white beard, Seeger was an iconic figure in folk music who outlived his peers. He performed with the great minstrel Woody Guthrie in his younger days and wrote or co-wrote “If I Had a Hammer,” ”Turn, Turn, Turn,” ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” He lent his voice against Hitler and nuclear power. A cheerful warrior, he typically delivered his broadsides with an affable air and his fingers poised over the strings of his banjo.

Seeger was a political activist and a folk singer. He was married to the same woman for 70 years. His wife died just last year. Pete Seeger’s career was significantly damaged by McCarthyism.

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Richard Holbrooke, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dies

Richard Holbrooke has died after complications of 21 hour surgery to repair a torn aorta.  He has served under every Democratic president since JFK.  The Washington Post reports:

…that Holbrooke’s last wordscame just before the 21-hour operation.  As Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon, family members said: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

Those are powerful words coming from a man who has brokered many difference peace accords between countries. 

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Farewell to Chris Dodd

On Tuesday, Chris Dodd gave his farewell address to the Senate.  He retires after 30 years in the Senate.  He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1974 and the Senate in 1980.  Senator Dodd has left a legacy of legislation. 

Perhaps his greatest contribution to improving American lives was the FMLA Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  To date, over 50 million Americans have taken leave to care for a sick child, spouse, parent, knowing that they would have a job to return to.  Mothers have been able to take the necessary time off after giving birth or adopting a child.   


As I listened to Senator Dodd’s farewell address, I thought of the advice in his wise words.  He spoke of the Senate, the expectations of the Founding Fathers, and the collegiality that was necessary to get the job done.  Listen for yourself:


I would ask that if people have negative, political comments, please keep them to yourself. 

Chris Dodd’s advise to the Senate and really, to all legislators comes at a crucial time in our history as a nation.  It could bode well for America to heed his advice.  Our legislators need to relearn the art of working together towards a common goal. 

Thanks for your service, Senator Dodd.  Enjoy your retirement and smooth sailing in all your new endeavors.

Leave it alone, Ginni Thomas–No more crank calls

In 1991,  Anita Hill testified against Supreme Court Associate  Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing.  Hill had worked  for Thomas at the Department of Education and at EEOC.  Under oath, she testified that Thomas had made sexual remarks to her during the time they were both at DoEd and EEOC. Thomas was confirmed 52-48 but the hearings were extremely contentious and almost everyone had an opinion on Anita Hill.  The support and condemnation usually ran along party lines.  


According to the New York Times:

In a voice mail left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9 — the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend — Virginia Thomas asked her husband’s former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The Times.

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometimes and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Ms. Hill, in an interview, said she kept the message for nearly a week trying to decide whether the caller really was Ms. Thomas or a prankster. Unsure, she said, she decided to turn it over to the Brandeis campus police with a request to convey it the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I though it was certainly inappropriate,” Ms. Hill said. “It came in at 7:30 a.m. on my office phone from somebody I didn’t know, and she is asking for an apology. It was not invited. There was no background for it.”

In a statement conveyed through a publicist, Ms. Thomas confirmed leaving the message, which she portrayed as a peacemaking gesture. She did not explain its timing.

“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago,” she said. “That offer still stands. I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

The olive branch seems to come with a very accusatory tone attached to it.  Ms. Hill feels she told the truth which she was required to so and she owes no one an apology. 

What is Virginia Thomas thinking? Why dredge up the past after nearly 20 years.  To call someones office at that hour of the morning, on a weekend when the likelihood of the person being there is fairly remote,  is nothing short of harassment.  Mrs. Thomas is already under fire for being too much of an activist with her husband sitting on the Supreme Court.   Most spouses of Justices keep a very low profile politically, much like a General’s spouse must do. 

It now seems that Anita Hill is the one who should receive an apology.  I hope she gets it. 

Not Even Close

Some of the slogans and buttons seen around town this past weekend simply do not represent the truth.  How do we break these sort of misconceptions and report history accurately?

Seen at the Glenn Beck rally
Seen at the Glenn Beck rally

George Washington never said it or wrote it, accordingn to most  sources.

How about redefining what some of the founding fathers were?

From the Glenn Beck rally
From the Glenn Beck rally

Right Wing Radicals? There was nothing right wing about these guys.  If one defines radical as:  One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions, then most definitely radical, just not right wing radical.  I used to think that expression was an oxymoron.  Not any more. 

Glenn Beck gave a post mortem on his Restoring Honor rally.  He was very concerned about the crowd size numbers being reported.  Every organization is always concerned with numbers.  It is going home with the most marbles on a grand scale.  He did bring in a huge crowd.  Good for him. It was peaceful and no one carried offensive signs. 

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