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Any one of us cannot really save the world, even though we may try.

As the dad of a certain almost-15-year-old, I tend to act as though the world and all outcomes therein depend on me. I know, I know – pretty arrogant and pretty silly. Somehow I guess I am not quite that important.

I do have – we all have – a part to play in this world, however, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. There was a pretty famous guy who said, “The poor will always be here” and that’s true. The needs will always need to be met; the hurts will always hurt somewhere and be felt by too many. And so there is always something each of us can do.

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I was prompted to write this after reading a helpful article from Charles Schwab. I’ll share the link at the bottom of my diatribe.

There is a personal finance maxim for building wealth: It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. I believe that.

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Thanks to Charity Vault, you can click here to see a collection of Indiana charities. Click on the jar, right, to visit Feed My Lambs Ministry.

 

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And there’s a philanthropic corollary to that: You don’t have to give the biggest gift to be helpful. Maybe it’s poorly stated, but you’ve got the idea.

Let’s just figure this: If you’re able to read this on a computer, if you’re reading this through LinkedIn or some website, demographically – statistically, you’re probably in the group that can afford to do something charitable. Something. Anything. Maybe. Probably. Something.

Religious beliefs and convictions and motivations aside (or none at all; maybe just social consciousness), I think we can all agree there is always great need. (All? Well, probably . . .)

So, as many of us tend to do toward the Christmas or Hanukkah or Festivus or otherwise Holiday Season or just pragmatically toward the end of the present tax year, here are a few things to consider assuming you have decided to help.

(By the way: The E’s are P, B, C and G. The A is K. . .)

 

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Pick your charity

From an other-centered perspective, it’s wonderful to understand that others might need help and we can do something to help. Charities, like needs, are everywhere. They are local and national in scope. You may have a personal tie or some unique knowledge of or reason for feeling strongly about an organization. There’s your best test. Whatever it is, wherever it is, whomever it is, for whatever the reason it is, Go to it.

 

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Know your charity

Spend some time getting to know them. And fundamentally important, make sure it’s a legitimate organization and they are responsible. Make sure they have legal charitable tax status as a 501(c)(3) organization. If you’re just starting out on this adventure of contributing to a good cause, check out charitywatch.org or charitywatch.org and charitynavigator.org. They are both unbiased, non-sectarian and objective groups that are sort of the BBB – Better Business Bureau for charities (and by the way, some are also BBB members; Samaritan’s Purse as one example).

Many Christian charities are members of the ECFA – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability® – a widely known and respected and otherwise unaffiliated organization that essentially evaluates then vouches for the legitimacy, and in particular, the financial responsibility of a member group. You can look for their logo on a charity’s website or just ask if they are a member.

Everybody and their brother has a website now, so it’s easy to read and learn. Look for their annual report to be posted on their website. Look for their endorsements, certifications, memberships and affiliations. Ask someone you trust. Read about their Board of Directors and professional staff. Call them directly. You get the picture.

And by the way, they are not all religiously-based, as we know. There are thousands of foundations, large and small, private and corporate off-shoots, that do wonderful stuff. If there is a company you hold stock in or simply like, look. They may have a foundation that does great work you can support. There are family and community foundations in virtually every locale in America, all ready to accept assistance in making your own community better. They may even have a specific project you can take part in or volunteer for. They may even need yard work or painting in the office done . . . .

 

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Believe in your charity

This follows with the “pick” part, above. It makes sense that you believe in the purpose and mission the charity exists for. If you can’t find this – or the list of other things noted in the previous paragraph – find a different organization. Don’t be a hypocrite – be a believer. They’ll tell on their website what they believe and why they do what they do. You need to buy into their purpose and how they do their good work. If you don’t, they are simply not for you. Besides, it makes a huge difference to be able to say, I believe in what they do. And how you feel about it – Good – is important.

 

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Plan your charity

The Schwab article reminds us that charitable organizations need help of various kinds year–round. They don’t need just end-of-the-year money; they are open all the year ’round.

If you want to give a bazillion dollars, but don’t have it on-hand all at once, you’re normal. Spread it out in manageable monthly payments. And if you commit to $5 a month or quarterly, you can be assured it will be appreciated.

Automatic payment through your bank account is an easy way to do it. Most banks provide this capability, and many if not most charities on-line nowadays provide this feature directly as well. Take advantage of how they make it easy to be helpful.

And by the way: regular, predictable, steady, cashflow that a charity can reasonably expect is probably what we all want in our finances.

 

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Communicate with your charity

Don’t be afraid to call or write to the folks you support. Build a relationship. It is meaningful to them to know you’re not just an impersonal monthly or annual check; you’re invested in the good they do. Tell them and thank them. Let them know you’re a real person with real cares.

Just like everybody else, those guys need encouragement. Remember, the full-timers there are not there to get rich. They are there on a mission. They appreciate being told they are appreciated. Everybody does.

By the same token, if you have a concern, let them know. You can be assured they want to fix things that are broken, whether philosophically or operationally. We ought to feel a sense of ownership in – and responsibility for – the things we put our blood, sweat, tears and funds into.

 

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Get involved with your charity

Again, as you’ll read in the Schwab article, it’s not just cash. It takes more than cash to do the things a charity is meant to do. Volunteering is like cash to a charity. Assemble bikes at Goodwill. Ring a Salvation Army bell outside a local store. Wrap presents or assemble beds or do laundry at a homeless shelter. Serve meals on an evening you’d rather be watching football. Package medical supplies being shipped overseas.

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I fondly remember an incredible man – a great influence on my life – a Jew-turned-Christian musician who issued forth this challenge during a concert:
“. . .God can’t cash out of state checks in Heaven . . . He needs you.”

Keith Green, who wrote, sang and played piano like nobody’s business, was speaking of supporting missions – Christian missionary work – in Africa and elsewhere. He said that next time you are tempted just to simply write a check, which may be easy by comparison to the other things that we can do – next time, instead – go.

Click and check this out:

KG

One of the most rewarding Christmases I have ever had was when my older sister and I went to serve meals at the local homeless shelter in our hometown. (Thank you, Kathi, for asking me to do this with you.) By the way, I also recall acutely how naturally uncomfortable and out of my element I was. Pitiful. I was far out of my comfort zone, and as I remember that time, I realize it would be well for me to live that way more. No doubt we grow the most when we are outside our comfort zones.

I also vividly remember the sad but thankful face of a destitute mother and that of her very small child when my wife and I delivered a couple of boxes of food to their “home” – a corner room in a dump of a motel in the inner-city. These too many years later, I still feel the mixture of hopelessness and hope as she opened her door to us and quietly, gratefully accepted the gift the folks at our church had for them.

And the image I saw in those few stark moments still haunts me. Maybe there is a question remaining: What do I do about it?

Was it self-serving, selfish for my own feelings to be good about helping in that way? I don’t know, but my feelings aside, the one thing I do know for sure: it needed to be done. If I can say so humbly, I guess I see it as a privilege to be part of it.

I am not declaring we all must or should go and volunteer. I am admitting, uneasily, how hard it is in my own experience. I feel a sense of getting off a bit easy by simply sending a check or making a donation on-line. That’s ok, and it’s good, but we know that people – going and actually doing – are the ones who truly make the world go ’round. I am thankful for them. And regardless of anything else, it needs to be done.

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Promote your charity

Gee Whiz. With Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and free blogs and personal websites and LinkedIn, we can be our own little (or not-so-little) marketing machines. If you like them, then brag about them. If the old saying goes, “Put your money where your mouth is”, then the corollary to that is, “Put your mouth where your money is.” This too, will help.

Here are just a few [more] we’re interested in, including some recommended by friends and colleagues:

Simon Youth Foundation

Christian Alliance for Orphans

Wabash Valley Foundation

The Lighthouse Mission

Christel House

Sisters of Providence Food Pantry

Compassion International

American Red Cross

Children’s HopeChest

Goodwill Industries

Boy Scouts of America

Wounded Warrior Project

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana

March of Dimes

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

For more – and actual – good advice and the inspiration for this long speech, have a look at Schwab’s Moneywise article, here.

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Michael E Conner writes on life, society, work, religion and career, politics, sport, and of course, lots of things-Indiana – at AskAHoosier.com. He has also just begun his second blog, irunsome.com, for the runner – or at least sort of evolving runner – in all – or most – or some – of us.

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The following is from the final chapter, Reminiscences, of John We Hardly Knew Ye, Memories of John F. Kennedy, by Kenny O’Donnell, David Powers and Joe McCarthy.

In the video clip below, what stands out to us as especially compelling is the President’s statement, “…in the absence of an economic crisis today…”, describing that in his view, while even as the then-present US economic state was strong, he recommended across-the-board tax cuts to bolster the economy even further. It is significant, too, to note his optimistic expectation: this move will result in an “…immediate and permanent benefit to our economy…”

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kennedy-dem ecomonics

Kennedy Economics JWHKY page 469

Watch:

Kennedy Economics

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About Walter Heller. It should be noted that while Kennedy’s efforts in economic strengthening were guided largely by Heller and were largely successful, Heller was at the same time an economic philosophy opponent of Milton Friedman. Watch this interesting interview of Friedman by William F. Buckley on his program, Firing Line.

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BONUS ITEM

Here’s a fascinating item, President Kennedy’s speech, The President and the Press. This is a condensed version. Listen and consider. Go here to the JFK library audio collection for the full version.

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Yes, we’ve got a long way to go yet in the 2016 Presidential race, but here’s where it all stands right now, according to AAH.

(Each image in this article is linked to its original publication. Click on the image to get another perspective)

Donald Trump arrives to his Comedy Central Roast in New York, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

Donald Trump arrives to his Comedy Central Roast in New York, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

What most of us wrestle with, and what most of us don’t realize, is that we live between intellectual judgment and emotion. We too frequently blur the lines separating them, and often the result is we make decisions based on how we feel rather than what we think. I believe this is largely what happened in electing Barak Obama twice. I suspect that this same phenomenon is propelling Donald Trump this early in the pre-primary season. And he is striking a chord that none of the other GOP candidates are striking. For the long-term, I don’t think the others really need to . . . yet. But it has long been a theme in American presidential politics that we have looked for the greater intangibles – those that appeal to our first impressions, our gut. We do look for that person who can speak to the highest ideals; down in the weeds policy specifics do not always reign supreme. Certainly not early on.

At this very early point in the presidential campaign, it’s all about passion.

It has been said of John F. Kennedy that for his lack of executive experience, he very rapidly and confidently grew in to his role as the most powerful, influential – and inspiring – leader in the world.

As for experience and so-called qualifications, there was little-to-no, really, in hard and long –fought, long and indisputably established accomplishment demonstrated by either Obama or Kennedy, and granted, Obama brought with and in himself additional unique aspects to-date not experienced in the American political scene. It was Robert Kennedy that said almost exactly 40 years to the day before, that a black man would be elected to the White House. Clearly, it was perfecting timing for Barak Obama. And to go up against the Old White-haired White Guy and then the Stiff Rich White Guy, all the more perfect.

But today there is another force at work – one which seems to be swinging from the far opposite side; one of plain, straight talk and of a directness not experienced in our present political and cultural climate, but one which appears to be welling from deep ground waters of discontent and disillusionment. It’s a backlash. It’s passion. It is raw, deliberate and unapologetic, uncensored passion coming from Donald Trump, and it seems it is what many Americans have been thinking and feeling for some time.

The tricky thing about emotions is that they subside. They are a transitory thing, often excited by particular and short-lived events. Not always, certainly, but commonly. With 14 months to go before the general election, and even only 5 months to go before the first primary, much will change. At a minimum, Trump is laying the groundwork for the eventual Republican nominee, regardless who it turns out to be.

So, in the meantime, here’s AAHs 14 months-out analysis of where it all stands. Call it prophecy, call it heresy, call it ill-informed. Call it prescient or call it foolishness. Call it biased. But just remember: I told you so.

Hillary Clinton

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The Democrats

Hillary Clinton will not be the Democrat nominee, and the GOP will win the White House.

The one act that will become, over all else, Obama’s most memorable act and ultimately his legacy – his final and most significant act – will be the pardon of Hillary Clinton. She will go the way of other tragic politicians, and as it goes, it will get ugly and fascinating. Think of just two of too many examples: Dan Rostenkowski and James Traficant; think of too many Illinois governors – except she will not serve time in prison. She will be pardoned after indictment, and she will quietly, defiantly go home and back to her speaking tour where she will explain it all to the true believers, and she’ll make her gazillions on the speaking circuit and she’ll be fine. Nixon recovered to the extent he did, and at least in some circles, he became the Elder Statesman. She will refind and rebuild her way. But she will not be President and she will never hold public office again.

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Bernie Sanders. We’re not ready for socialism in the White House. Plain and simple. Not even his True Believers. Ultimately, he is fringe and his to-the-end supporters are fringe and there are not enough of them. He will syphon off some number, and that’s about it. He’ll get to make his statement, then he’ll go back to Capitol Hill, or maybe home. He gets 100 points for being up front and proud of what he believes, but he loses 100 points for being a socialist and another 100 points for being crazy-wrong. Bottom line? Not on this continent, Bub.

Joe Biden, paraphrased (but not much)

biden_double_guns_AP

“. . .Get a shotgun and shoot it off the balcony. . .” Sorta like Saddam Hussein used to do.

“You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. . . I’m not joking.”

“This is a Big F******* Deal. . .” – TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. Oops. Hot mike.

“Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president . . .”

“. . .They gonna putch’all back in chains. . .”

And those are just the ones that occur to me and that I could find this instant. There are, thankfully, many, many more. Bottom line on the possibility that Joe Biden takes Hillary’s place and seeks the nomination? OMG, I hope so.
Want more? Check them out right here.

The rest of the Dems

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Sadly, Jim Webb is not getting any traction. He should have all the traction. If I were to choose to vote for a Democrat and I did not have Evan Bayh or Sam Nunn or Harold Ford, Jr. in the mix, I would choose Jim Webb. Maybe Martin O’Malley. But somehow, the Dems apparently are happier with the old and tired, white-haired, troubled and controversial; the familiar Let’s-go-back-20 years-and-do-it all-again-program. Wow. Really?

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley addresses members of the Maryland House of Delegates on the first day of the 2013 legislative session in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Standing behind O'Malley is House Speaker Michael Busch. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley addresses members of the Maryland House of Delegates on the first day of the 2013 legislative session in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Standing behind O’Malley is House Speaker Michael Busch. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The truth is, far and away, Webb should be the Democrat’s number one choice. He would give any one of the GOP candidates a serious run for their money. I am truly mystified on this one. Except I really do know why: He’s too moderate.

Well, and we all know, and as the electorate taught the Repubs in 2008 and 2012, you get what you pay for. For 2016, I’ll give the Dems a hint: You’re not paying for very much at this point, and it appears you’re not willing to pay much next year. Could change, but I doubt it.

O’Malley ought to be in a close second to Webb. I don’t even want to talk about Chaffee and Warren. And there’s no need. As it stands, I cannot say that the Democrats are serious about winning.

Al Gore or anyone else? No.

The blaring, glaring question is obvious: Is this really the best you’ve got?

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The Republicans – The New Team of Rivals

(Thank you, Doris Kearns-Goodwin)

In short, I am biased heavily. I am deeply impressed with the size and depth of the field to-date. Having said that:

UNITED STATES - MARCH 16:  Dr. Ben Carson during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on Saturday, March 16, 2013. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

UNITED STATES – MARCH 16: Dr. Ben Carson during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on Saturday, March 16, 2013. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Dr. Ben Carson. As wonderful and as capable as Dr. Carson is, he will not be president. Not for lack of all the most important things; this is strictly and only because of his lack of forceful, bold personality. For better or worse, and probably worse, we vote very much on gut and first impression. We live and decide by it. I hope he is selected for a cabinet position.

Donald Trump is generating passion far and above anyone else. He is striking an emotional and volatile chord in a huge number of Americans. He is redefining Presidential Politics… at least for this cycle. But 14 months is a long time in this business, and the pundits all say he will not go far. But seeing is believing, and there is no question he is developing, refining with each day that passes. It appears he intends to stay. I am not holding my breath, but I am not breathing easy, either.

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Jeb Bush, qualified or not, big money support or not, is disappointing many straight down the middle Republicans. But he is likely to demonstrate staying power over the longer run. Still, warranted or not, he is, just by virtue of his name, of the Old Guard, and similar to Clinton, his name reaches too far back in history, a perspective widely held, justified or not. Some will say this is unfair, and perhaps it is. But if elected can he do it well? Of course. It just may not matter. (Reference again James Webb.)

For these and everyone else, suppose the true test were to be a combination of executive experience, the ultimate intangible measure, exhibited in strength of character and personality, the mysterious aura of one who is Presidential (we just know it when we see it); and hard qualifications such as a degree in law or economics or business, or significant experience as a legislator or a business person or both. Who can do it, and do it to the satisfaction of the majority of the country?

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Walker: Possibly-Yes. There is more to life (and performance) than holding a degree. While he’s proven he can achieve respectable success in the midst of significant opposition, high taxes in Wisconsin will be a source of difficulty when the going gets rough.

Christie: Maybe-to-Doubtful, because 1) while he is presently eclipsed by Donald Trump in his ability to be overly blunt, he runs the risk of personality backfire, and 2) though not legitimate, the bridge so-called scandal and high New Jersey taxes may dog him as it will for Walker as low-hanging fruit for the Dems and his rivals.

chris

Pataki, Huckabee and Kasich: Yes, each highly capable and accomplished. But in the end, they will be the last three standing Old White Guys in the room. And according to the Obama election rules, this alone will usher them out.

Paul: No – too quirky, too Libertarian, too much like his Old Man. Too many button-down collars, too. Only a straight collar is presidential. He should know this but apparently doesn’t.

Gilmore, Santorum, Graham: No. And for the longer list of possibles. . . yes, the list is even longer than any of us could have imagined. . . Check it out here.

Fiorina: Yes. No worries about her, no other comments required; full confidence. Just can’t wait to hear her clean up in the CNN debates… if she is given the chance she clearly deserves. Dying to see her head-to-head with Hillary. Still, for some set of poor reasons, the GOP electorate will likely not choose her. Too bad.

Carly_Fiorina_16669797001

Perry: Yes. Yet one more highly experienced governor from Texas – hard to beat, and the only candidate with military experience (and a fighter pilot to boot), still a big plus in my book. But somehow, he does not stir the hearts of voters broadly, and already his funding is flagging. To continue to harken back to his moment of forgetfulness four years ago or to critique his glasses are illegitimate, but effective nevertheless. He will leave early.

Jindal: Yes, and another very well-experienced governor. But just as the appalling and wrong-headed discrimination and suspicion against Romney factored because he is a Mormon, too many will silently and irrationally be racist against him as an Indian. They won’t say it, but they’ll do it.

Cruz: Yes, maybe. He has a fair chance at the nomination. If he gets it, he will bloom as a firebrand for conservatism. But by some segment of his personality, he will exude an ever-so slight level of negativism, different than Trump, and it will become a point of criticism. Ultimately, he will have to convince us of and demonstrate his ability to bring the country together, something he has had difficulty with in the Senate. This problem in particular and by comparison, Marco Rubio does not have.

rubio-marco

Rubio: Yes. Ultimately, if the Primaries show that Trump will not continue as a Republican and he does not run on as an Independent or Trumpian (reference Bill O’Reilly), which is as of yet a real threat to the GOP, Marco Rubio has “all that”: The ability, the personality, the character, the vigor, energy, and vision of youth, and the positive manner, among other less tangible measures, but those which are real to voters. He has all that Obama (and Kennedy) brought into the Oval Office with respect to experience in the Senate, and he has an impressive sense of pace and timing. He will be seen more and more as the clear stand out with the poise and demeanor of a President, even-keeled and yet exuding the passion and producing the stirring rhetoric American voters are seeking.

And finally, all the more to his credit, whether or not one agrees with him, he had deeply developed policy positions that he comfortably and convincingly articulates. He is prepared. He will “come into his own” more and more and forcefully through the Primaries.

Bottom Line: We predict Marco Rubio to be the GOP nominee and to win the White House. The only remaining question will be – Will he form a New Team of Rivals in a similar way to Lincoln? We shall see.

Geo Will Predicts

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This is for my friends I graduated from high school with, celebrating our 35th reunion and with whom I cannot be on this occasion. If anything gets broken or if anything questionable happens in the next 24 hours, you can assign it to me. Have a great time tonight. I will be thinking of you and will truly miss you all.

As for me, it is remarkable that today, as you prepare to get together over Jeff’s pulled pork and some brews and very changed faces and lives, I am reminded that almost a year ago my father passed away, a moment I still feel today; and that in just two days, my son, Jace will begin his freshman year in high school.

Dad and Jace, Mowing, 2005

Instead of being at the West Vigo Class of ’80 Reunion, I am at the family farm in Kansas this weekend, one last excursion for Jace before school, and recalling that it was while sitting on the front porch of this house just a couple-few years ago that I called and spoke with Robby Cooper, whose father had just passed away. I never knew Rob’s and Roger’s dad, but I read the obituary in the paper and was powerfully compelled to call. We had a nice chat, and though it was entirely unexpected, Rob was gracious and I think we enjoyed our catching up.

By all accounts his dad was a remarkable man, and a veteran as I recall. And most of all, it was clear how deeply he was loved and appreciated. He was a man who made a great difference in the world and would be missed immeasurably by his family and friends.

Enjoy each others company tonight, and stay in touch. It’s really all we have left, and we don’t really need anything else. It is everything, and it is enough.

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Reign, Westside Bash, 1980

I think back, I remember how important, how central to our daily lives our music was to us. And now, of course, when we think of it or hear it, we are transported back in a way that nothing else can do.

How many of you recall the group Ten Years After? I got to know them as a sophomore. A new guy came to my school, then State High, from Frankfurt, Germany and we became friends. Chris von Slatow was into wind surfing, which I had never heard of until I met him; he was a runner and joined the track team; and he was into music I had never heard of, including Ten Years After. He lived with an elderly couple near Union Hospital who raised springer spaniels; my grandparents had bought their hunting dogs from them many years before.

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Now we are all 35 years after high school, and while a lot has changed, our memories are fixed.

These are just two particular things I remember vividly, and they are memories – among hundreds, I suppose – so many of my classmates and good friends are a part of. In fact, these memories would be nothing without you.

I guess distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

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Rare Earth In Concert

In my opinion, one of the best albums ever made; certainly one of the best live albums.

RareEarth_InConcert1_1971

My senior year in high school I sang in a band. Reign.

So on a Monday morning, second hour, my chemistry-zoology teacher was reading the week’s announcements. After Friday night’s homecoming football game, Reign was to play for the “Welcome Back Mixer.” Unfortunately, I sat in the front row.
So as he read, he came to us. “And at the Welcome Back Mixer West Vigo’s own Reign will play….”

Then he paused, looked over his half-lens reading glasses at me and said, “Does this mean you REIGN OVER your fellow students?” I was sick. I don’t remember what if anything I said in response, probably nothing. I am pretty sure the only appropriate response would have been, “No, Sir.”

We covered Foreigner, The Beatles, Ted Nugent, Journey, and a few others, including REO Speedwagon – aside of the Peter Gunn theme, Ridin’ The Storm Out was our theme song – whatever was popular in 1979 and ’80.

We also made some tragic efforts: Get Down, Boogie-Oogie, Oogie by Taste of Honey. Wow. Sorry. Enough said. And Just When I Needed You Most, by Randy Vanwarmer. Whaaa? I had never even heard nor heard of this song or the guy. Someone just showed up at practice one night with the sheet music. Whiniest song and guy I ever heard. Again, sorry everybody.

A couple of other efforts were not quite as tragic only because they were well intentioned. We tried (well, the guys did, and I tried) Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, which went way too fast for me to master. Embarrassing. Then finally, Clapton’s Cocaine, which is a great tune, but I couldn’t feel okay about using that word, so I changed it to Spokane

Anyway, it was fun, but I can’t believe either we as a whole or at least I, individually, didn’t get fired.

So this brings me to Rare Earth.

In retrospect, I am frustrated considering the lost opportunity to play their songs. We didn’t do one. Jeez – they had been one of my favorite bands since fifth grade, about 1971-’72.

My uncle John, the coolest guy on the planet (still, and co-subject of my post “Todd Rundgren and the Sacred Den of Cool” Nov, 2010) had given me his 8-track of Rare Earth In Concert – their 1971 live album – the “backpack album.”

Rare_Earth_-_Ma_-_Front

In fact, I was so crazy about them, in fifth grade art class I made a clay plaque with the band’s name in balloon-bubble letters and flowers on it. It was decorated in many-colored glaze, baked in the furnace. I put two holes at the top so I could lace a string through and hang it in my room. Cool.

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I cannot believe it did not even occur to me that we should learn and play those songs. Makes me want to get back into a band just to sing a few of those. All those great songs – I mean really great – like Get Ready and Hey Big Brother and I Just Want To Celebrate. I knew intimately every song on In Concert and Ma. If I ever wished I could go back it would be to correct history and play Rare Earth in the gym or at the Banks of the Wabash Festival.

Ah, such is life.

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The Internet is awesome.

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So all these years later – about 2001 – I was able to find the CD at Amazon. It was expensive but worth it. I also sent a CD to John, sort of a “thank-you-payback.”

Meanwhile, Jace, my son whom I had introduced to Rare Earth when he was about two, was four in 2005 and now playing drums on a cheapo-set from some cheapo-store. I’d say to him, “Play some Rare Earth,” and he’d whack and bang away. At that age, all his Rare Earth sounded exactly like his U2 – which sounded pretty much like random whacking and banging.

I also found Peter Rivera, Rare Earth’s original lead singer and drummer. A little Google search, and Vwalla….he’s got a website. That voice and those drums. That has to be one of the best packages to ever come together in rock music.

So I wrote to him, telling him my Rare Earth history and about Jace now carrying on to the next generation. He wrote me back, thanked me for my years of loyalty, and thought the Jace story was pretty cool. He also said, “Make sure he learns to read music. I never did, but should have. It’s really not that hard.”

Rare Earth, along with co-founder Gil Bridges, still plays, though Peter is not with them. But when they were together in those early days, nobody put more energy into a concert. Check out this video of “…Celebrate” at California Jam in 1974.

– – –item_drum_sticks_s

Promotional insert: Checkout Peter’s site. Pretty interesting and encouraging life. Reading through it, he comes off as the kind of guy you’d really like to know. You can find him on Facebook, too. In searching, you may want to include “Celebrate” along with his name.

– – –

I bought a set of signed sticks for Jace, which he still has, though one is broken; he drums with gusto. No matter. They are sacred and so remain on his bookshelf like religious icons.

So as old as Rare Earth’s music is, the songs are staples in my running-riding-lifting regimen.

To get your own copies, check them out on iTunes.

– – –

Rossington Collins Band
Don’t Misunderstand Me, Rossington Collins Band (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, 1980)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rossington_Collins_Band

Summer 1979. We’ve just officially become seniors and Karl and I are driving all over West Terre Haute in his white 1969 Triumph TR6 convertible. We’re smoking Swisher Sweets and listening to this hard-hitting, top-down, post-Lynyrd Skynyrd near-rock anthem.

Man, we feel free and light. Our junior year is over. We’ve made it.

The sun is bright and the open cockpit is a swirl in the wind and it’s anywhere we want. So we want DQ on National Avenue, then we want to go to South Lake, which requires a cruise through Toad Hop to get there.

We park on the west side of the white cinderblock building and saunter into the open-air pavilion, across the cold concrete floor, shaded in the basement of the raised building; we’re in a breeze-way of a concession stand full of neatly aligned green wood picnic tables. We move to the counter to order a follow-up to our DQ visit of just ten minutes before.

We each get a huge Coke and keep glancing out, through the open lake-side of the room, to the beach, its coarse gravel pit-quality sand, same as it ever was, just as it was when we were kids. The tall, galvanized slide standing half in and half out of the water is still there, too, as it has always been. And the warm water in its color of weak coffee with a little cream; that too, just as it has always been.

We were searching for our friends – mainly girls; probably strictly girls, come to think of it – who have come to get a tan.

We are searching when we get there, and searching when we finally leave. Jeez, this is good. And summer has only started.

We continue to search through the summer and all the way through our last year of high school and beyond. And life has only started.

– – –

Find it at iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/rossington-collins-band/id64790

– – –

To read all this and a little bit more in the original, just go Top 5 page, scroll down to the original June and July Top Fives, and look for Rare Earth and Don’t Misunderstand Me.

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    UPDATE

With this past week’s decision by a federal judge and last year’s “ruling” from the US Patent Office to assume legal jurisdiction over social-moral-ethical issues, we decided to repost this piece and add a bit more commentary along the way.

As ugly as perhaps our free speech can be at times (and that is certainly a matter of opinion and is debatable), it is a constitutional freedom. Now tertiary government offices and judges get to decide for us. This is scary. What next?

Here’s just a little of what AAH is bothered about, as it relates to disparaging anybody and anything, especially in the world of sports.

– – –

The flood gate has been officially declared open. The Braves, Indians, Warriors, Blackhawks, Hatchets, Vikings, Chiefs, Redmen, Red Devils, Blue Devils, Lady Buffaloes, Lady Bison. And that’s just a short list of high school mascots we can come up with in 3 minutes.

Everybody’s on the chopping block. Good for them. Good for the disparaged. Maybe they deserve it; maybe it’s time. It’s apparently not about freedom – even the freedom to make a mistake or be possibly offensive to someone – anymore. It’s about what society decides in the present mood and how government is obliged to intervene in the place of freedom.

The Louisville Redbirds’ teeth. I have had it with the teeth. It is not only disparaging, but entirely inaccurate to put teeth into the mouth of a cardinal. I don’t care how tough it makes them look. If they were all that tough, they’d go out and win the Rose Bowl. How about this – You win the Rose Bowl and you can keep your damn teeth. Until then, Shut up and peck like everybody else.

Wheaton College Whatevers. The fine Christian college in northern Illinois, where my nephew is headed this fall. Great school. They used to be the Crusaders, but clearly for a Christian school that eventually became unacceptable. For the life of me, even with my nephew wearing the T-shirts at family gatherings, I can’t remember that new ho-hum name. They should have taken our suggestion that they become the Martyrs. That would offend NOBODY.

Evolution. Is it true that a native American artist designed the Washington Redskins logo? Well, maybe he changed his mind in these intervening years. That’s ok. Even the Roe vs. Wade lady later became a Christian and came to oppose abortion. Anything can happen, and we do evolve.

But we also devolve. All in the Family and Archie Bunker are no longer produced, and many consider it close to the most offensive television show ever made. But my wife and I have renewed our interest in watching, thanks to MeTV. Great social and simple human relationship issues are exposed, explored and challenged in every episode.

Did Archie lead us to this? I really don’t know.

– – –

Recently Bob Costas brought the current controversy full front and center – during Sunday Night Football. And he stated the obvious – that it is the obvious elephant in the room.

He went through the historical perspective, showing photographs of the team in their logo emblazoned uniforms as far back as the 1940s. He drew and comparisons with other professional and collegiate teams. He presented the changes made, too – names and logos changed and traditions altered; arguably all for the purpose of righting long-standing wrongs.

5228ca8761ec7_preview-620

He submitted the obvious, too, that we, generally, the American public, as well as the team, Dan Snyder (the Redskins owner), anyone else, really, that there is no animas, no hatred, no ill-intent. There is only history and tradition.

Still, his conclusion was that we have to admit another obvious fact: the term “Redskins” is unlike any other. It stands alone in its representation of ethnicity and hence, race. And that, in and of itself is, by definition, racist. No others do so. At least, no longer.

Perhaps it was a bold thing to do, to issue forth social commentary on social controversy during Sunday Night Football. After all, we’re sitting down to watch, whether in the stands or at home, to finally, after a long and serious week, and just before the start of another; one more relatively brief respite, perhaps really call it what it is – our national (as well as personal) distraction, to take us away from, perhaps protect us from, the seriousness we’re about to once again embark upon in just less than 12 hours.

12 hours. Then we’re back at it.

Serious and daily and mundane and regular and yet, there’s our next respite – a bright reminder that we actually can make it: Monday Night Football. Our next Big Distraction. Then Thursday Night Football, then Saturday it’s all the college games; mainly Big Ten is all we care about, and Glory Be, we’re back to Sunday. Let Loose. We can make it through the week after all.

And then here comes Bob Costas to drag us down into the mire and stress of serious social issues.

Well, perhaps we need it; perhaps it needs to be said.

It’s just that we’re not quite on that channel – the Get All Serious And Philosophical channel – when we sit down to watch a football game. We’re more on the Relax And Not Think channel.

And Costas has done it before, in Kansas City. He did it over hand guns, any guns, and gun control, or non-control. He’s got a huge platform and a huge opinion and a huge go-ahead, so why not? And seriously, it was an important moment: that week a Chiefs player had just committed suicide with a pistol.

Well, he had to (or got to . . . .) make the morning TV rounds after that honest, expressive moment, to explain, sort out, defend, expound. It doesn’t seem to have hurt him; he just got to press his point a few more times. Apparently his bosses have made it clear it’s his job.

And maybe it is.

Well, Bob, the issue is real; we’re not arguing it’s not. And it’s important, and if we get into a conversation over this one, say, during lunch, or while walking down the hall to the conference room, or while doing a little yard work, we’ll actually get into it. We’ll put some thought into it and we’re ready to see it both ways. Hell, several ways. It is complicated, after all.

And maybe we do think somebody ought to . . . . uh, ought to . . . Uh . . . uh, ought . . . Uh . . .

What, exactly? Somebody ought to what?

Only a few days before this, say on Wednesday or Thursday night this past week, it was Brian Williams of ABC News who opened his broadcast with the question, “Should the Washington Redskins be forced to change their name?”

redskins-logo

Now they’ve got us thinking.

But here’s what we’re thinking about:

The – exact – words – he – chose; the proposition, exactly:

“Should the Washington Redskins be forced to change their name?”

Should they be FORCED . . .

FORCED.

Now all’s a-swirl in which thought to express first, where to begin. How to deal with which problem. How many problems? Many.

Here’s one to begin with:

This one’s so obvious, so common, so knee-jerk, it’s cliché. And one perhaps nobody wants to hear any more. Maybe nobody wants to see it dragged out of the closet and dragged through the muck one more time. Maybe it’s a tired argument now; lost its steam. Lost its shine. Especially in these times in the life of America.

It’s the freedom of speech-thing. The First Amendment to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights.

We’ll not even go into it. It’s tiring just considering the whole discussion, and generally, it seems nobody really cares about that argument any more.

So here’s the next one to think about:

In the past couple of years Ask A Hoosier has posted a couple of blogs that come pretty close to the heart of this matter.

First is our piece, Reading, Hearing, Understanding . . .and Changing History . . .and Ourselves from May, 2011 about the use of – and regret for the use of – and the discarding of – and the covering up of – the evidence, the history, the context, the reconstruction of – the N word.

Second, On My Honor, I Will Do My Best . . . , May, 2013, is the piece written more recently about the issue of gay membership in the Boy Scouts of America. Rather than reiterate, or more realistically, re-exhaust ourselves here by retelling and rearguing the issue, maybe it would be worth your time and effort and intellect to read it. Substitute one issue for the other. You’ll find it’s really the same.

Now, to apply it to the Redskins issue, consider this:

Consider rewriting history and tradition in a similar way that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have been altered and filtered to make – finally – acceptable the stories told by one man.

3556-1

One man, said to be one of the greatest writers in our nation’s history, who happened to be the very one who said that choosing just the right word; the exact and best, most fitting word, is what makes all the difference.

The very words he chose – supposedly so carefully with very specific intent – have, at least by some, been discarded.

The result?

Perhaps someday, when enough time and knowledge and accuracy in history and tradition have gone, when all those who were first-hand witnesses to it are gone or at least silent, when all abhorrent written and printed record is put aside in another dark and cold Krystal Nacht revived from another history, then perhaps . . .

. . . . perhaps . . .

Perhaps it will be denied. Denied that it ever happened.

Where is the proof, after all? “Show us the proof”, they could say. And there would be none to be found.

It was Edgar Allen Poe’s character in The Tell-tale Heart who was made insane with guilt because the evidence of his crime, though hidden, was still there.

Floorboards, no matter how thick or heavy, are no match the weight of truth. The evidence was still there, only just beneath the surface. Perhaps because the truth was as the stones of the Apostles – that even they would cry out.

Zangrillo_TellTaleHeart_7

The truth will not be hidden.

So in our guilt and pious or self-righteous efforts to right the wrongs of history, we have found a way – to destroy. Then in the aftermath of destruction, disposal, so convenient and desirable these days, we find a new opportunity: denial.

If all trace is erased, if all record is destroyed, perhaps our guilt can finally be assuaged. Why feel guilt for something which does not exist? Something for which there is no proof. The oppressors are free at last.

Someday, when enough time has passed and people and memory and passion have passed, denial will come so easily. Perhaps that is ultimately what we want.

By the way, the occurrence of the holocaust – the attempted extermination of the Jewish Race – is a truth, a fact of history. And to reiterate this truth, Germany has passed a law that makes it illegal to speak of the holocaust as not truth; that it did not happen. Illegal to speak of it other than as truth.

– – –

The legal control of our words and how we speak.

– – –

chiefquabachi1

For a number of years, I was a student at the Laboratory School attached to Indiana State University. In those days we wore school-issued gym shorts for our “Phys Ed” class. Dark blue shorts with the likeness of a leaf of a sycamore tree and “Young Sycamores” emblazoned on one side. I also remember the university’s marching band equipment trailer, on which was painted on its sides a sycamore tree trunk, with feet and arms, marching, playing a trombone. Meanwhile, Chief Quabachi and his indian princess so-and-so would run out onto the basketball court and football field every weekend in full regalia.

ISU eventually came to their senses, like many schools, and canned the Chief and his side kick, and came up with what is described as “a furry woodland creature” – Sycamore Sam – arguably better than a tree trunk for a mascot, even if it were equipped with a really full crown of giant leaves (sycamores are known for producing very impressive leaves).

ITWYIBEVZEPFNOM_20110928150810

Well, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the woods, by the way; hunting, camping, exploring, and such and 1) I have never seen “a furry woodland creature” that was about 5 and a half feet tall and bright blue and white wearing pants, and 2) if I ever did, I imagine it would scare me about as badly as a raging indian chief in full headdress wielding a spear. But the fear factor was apparently not part of the calculation.

Anyway, Sycamore Sam is in and Chief Quabachi is out.

– – –

Suppose all Native American groups opposed any “external” use of their names or descriptions in any way. What could happen? A particular perspective is that the result would be that we – anyone – never, ever, ever talks about them again.

No mention.

Period.

Silence.

In organized, uniformed athletics, their names, likenesses and symbols are used for what purpose? To honor them? To celebrate their great and admirable qualities? To remember them and their history? Or to publicly, openly, unabashedly mock, deride and scorn them?

What if instead, they were never spoken of again?

Perhaps they would disappear, and – their – our – all – memory of them would disappear. Something like their languages. The lost sounds of their beautiful languages. Silenced.

In athletics and education in this country, we can believe the intent was never to dishonor them. The intent was surely to raise up, recognize and honor – celebrate – the great virtues of another: strength, honor, loyalty, fidelity, and more. And to remember and not forget a people who were the first of this land to embody such character.

We are a flawed people.

We are mistaken in so many things and yet, we are evolving; learning from our history, changes evolving one from another to another, compounding upward, always changing – hopefully growing, hopefully improving.

Should the names disappear from our daily social, cultural landscape when misused? Is force the modus operandi?

Consider these:

Apache Corporation
Cherokee Clothing Company
Blackhawk pencils
Navajo Trucking
Mohawk Paper
Sioux Corporation
Pontiac
Jeep Cherokee
Land O’ Lakes
The Cleveland Indians
the Atlanta Braves
the Kansas City Chiefs
the Chicago Blackhawks

. . . and the Washington Redskins.

Should the Minnesota Vikings be exempt? Why?

How many more are there?

Think of the innumerable high school, college, and university mascots. Wheaton College in recent years experienced the painful and divisive evolution.

When they began they were the Crusaders. When it was over, they were the Thunder. They should have become the Martyrs. Surely that would have been acceptable and better yet, repentant and non-threatening, especially to any of their intercollegiate athletic competition.

Read about them, read their histories. And if you can find it, read about their names. Should they be compelled by law – by some other method – to change their names? Should they be compelled to compensate or make restitution? What should the disposition of their freedom of choice be in the matter? Should they remain free to choose, even if they choose badly in someone’s judgment?

What if in bad judgment for everyone?

What if it’s even decided, virtually universally, that it’s hateful or hurtful or just insensitive or crude? What if millions say it’s inappropriate?

Is that enough? Should there be a law?

Should such a thing be regulated like a noise ordinance?

If the theory of evolution is to be believed in any form, to any extent, then the progression of this issue will also continue and it will not stop.

So questions remain: What are the implications? What’s next? and Who’s next?

– – –

Postscript

It’s ironic, with all the controversy, every Redskins logo we can find actually seems to depict brown skin.

It’s ironic that on the very day this piece was originally written, the Redskins were defeated by the Cowboys. Well, of course they were. And how hateful is that? The Cowboys beat the Redskins. I don’t even know where to begin.

– – –

For more reading, visit these sites:

Cultural Survival
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_name_controversy

Green America

The World

Native American Imagery in Advertising & Branding

An interesting list: Inc. magazine’s rundown of the top Native American-run companies of 2012:
http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2012/diversity/nativeamerican

As for Tom and Huck, Twain Scholars and observers have their opinions about changing history:

The Wall Street Journal

The Christian Science Monitor

– – –

Graphics Credits

Redskins images: Washington Redskins
Cover image, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: New South Publishers and Publishers Weekly
The Tell-tale Heart image: Rob Zangrillo
Chief Quabachi and Sycamore Sam images: Indiana State University

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Johnny cover 001

I have been reading Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, co-authored by David Powers, Kenny O’Donnell and Joe McCarthy (1970); a retrospective of John F. Kennedy’s political life.

Rather than add any commentary, I just want to share a few snippets from the book. The context is referencing a discussion of President Kennedy’s handling of the Bay of Pigs invasion, April 1961. For reference, my copy is the Book Club Edition published by Little, Brown and Company, copyright 1970, 1972.

Excerpt from Page 305:

Johnny 1 - pg 305

Excerpt from page 307:

Johnny 2 - pg 307

Excerpt from page 308:

Johnny 3 - pg 308

BONUS

Ok, actually just a little commentary, although not exactly. Just some interesting alternative facts surrounding the title of the book:

It comes from an old Irish tune. Hint: I remember singing our own rendition of this on our way home on the school bus from school at Sugar Creek Consolidated Elementary. Check this out:

Clancy Bros Johnny

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This very moment is the time, the opportunity for every Muslim, especially every Imam, the entire Islamic world, to speak openly, publicly and denounce the evil violence of all those who claim to act on behalf of Mohammed and Islam.

They do not claim to act on behalf of radical Islam or Islamist ideology; they claim to act as Muslims for Islam.

Now – Now is the time to stand and speak. Now.

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