Rally Round the Flag Boys and Girls. Time to Attack IRAN!

I am re-posting this information which is from Wikipedia.  I have not written one word of this blog, but I think it is important enough to post.  The President of the USA may now be using this tactic with IRAN.  It has been used before and Americans will fall prey to it again unless people are aware of the tactic and stand up to it.

Estoy re-publicando esta información que es de Wikipedia. No he escrito una palabra de este blog, pero creo que es lo suficientemente importante como para publicar. El presidente de los EE. UU. Ahora puede estar usando esta táctica con IRAN. Se ha usado antes y los estadounidenses volverán a ser presa de él a menos que la gente esté consciente de la táctica y la haga frente.

我正在重新發布來自維基百科的這些信息。 我沒有寫過這個博客的一個詞,但我認為發布這個詞非常重要。 美國總統現在可能正在與伊朗使用這種策略。 它已經被使用過了,除非人們意識到這種策略並且能夠堅持下去,否則美國人將再次成為它的犧牲品。

Ich poste diese Informationen, die aus Wikipedia stammen, erneut. Ich habe kein Wort dieses Blogs geschrieben, aber ich denke, es ist wichtig genug, um etwas zu posten. Der Präsident der USA könnte diese Taktik jetzt mit dem IRAN anwenden. Es wurde schon früher benutzt und die Amerikaner werden wieder Opfer davon werden, es sei denn, die Leute sind sich der Taktik bewusst und halten sich dagegen.

Rally ’round the flag effect

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President Bush approval rating from 2001 to 2006. Spikes in approval coincide with the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

The rally ’round the flag effect (or syndrome) is a concept used in political science and international relations to explain increased short-run popular support of the President of the United States during periods of international crisis or war.[1]Because rally ’round The Flag effect can reduce criticism of governmental policies, it can be seen as a factor of diversionary foreign policy.[1]

Mueller’s definition[edit]

Political scientist John Mueller suggested the effect in 1970, in a landmark paper called “Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson”. He defined it as coming from an event with three qualities:[2]

  1. “Is international”
  2. “Involves the United States and particularly the President directly”
  3. “Specific, dramatic, and sharply focused”

Causes and durations[edit]

Since Mueller’s original theories, two schools of thought have emerged to explain the causes of the effect. The first, “The Patriotism School of Thought” holds that in times of crisis, the American public sees the President as the embodiment of national unity. The second, “The Opinion Leadership School” believes that the rally emerges from a lack of criticism from members of the opposition party, most often in the United States Congress. If opposition party members appear to support the president, the media has no conflict to report, thus it appears to the public that all is well with the performance of the president.[4]

The two theories have both been criticized, but it is generally accepted that the Patriotism School of thought is better to explain causes of rallies, while the Opinion Leadership School of thought is better to explain duration of rallies.[3] It is also believed that the lower the presidential approval rating before the crisis, the larger the increase will be in terms of percentage points because it leaves the president more room for improvement. For example, Franklin Roosevelt only had a 12% increase in approval from 72% to 84% following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, whereas George W. Bush had a 39% increase from 51% to 90% following the September 11 attacks.[5]

Another theory about the cause of the effect is believed to be embedded in the US Constitution. Unlike in other countries, the constitution makes the President both head of government and head of state. Because of this, the president receives a temporary boost in popularity because his Head of State role gives him symbolic importance to the American people. However, as time goes on his duties as Head of Government require partisan decisions that polarize opposition parties and diminish popularity. This theory falls in line more with the Opinion Leadership School.

Due to the highly statistical nature of presidential polls, University of Alabama political scientist John O’Neal has approached the study of rally ’round the flag using mathematics. O’Neal has postulated that the Opinion Leadership School is the more accurate of the two using mathematical equations. These equations are based on quantified factors such as the number of headlines from the New York Times about the crisis, the presence of bipartisan support or hostility, and prior popularity of the president.[6]

Political Scientist from The University of California Los Angeles, Matthew A. Baum found that the source of a rally ’round the flag effect is from independents and members of the opposition party shifting their support behind the President after the rallying effect. Baum also found that when the country is more divided or in a worse economic state then the rally effect is larger. This is because more people who are against the president before the rallying event switch to support him afterwards. When the country is divided before the rallying event there is a higher potential increase in support for the President after the rallying event.[7]

In a study by Political Scientist Terrence L. Chapman and Dan Reiter, rallies in Presidential approval ratings were found to be bigger when there was U.N. Security Council supported Militarized interstate disputes (MIDs). Having U.N. Security Council support was found to increase the rally effect in presidential approval by 8 to 9 points compared to when there wasn’t U.N. Security Council support.[5]

According to a 2019 study of ten countries in the period 1990-2014, there is evidence of a rally-around-the-flag effect early on in an intervention with casualties (in at least the first year) but voters begin to punish the governing parties after 4.5 years.[8]

Historical examples[edit]

The effect has been examined within the context of nearly every major foreign policy crisis since World War II. Some notable examples:

  • Cuban Missile Crisis: According to Gallup polls, President John F. Kennedy‘s approval rating in early October 1962 was at 61%. By November, after the crisis had passed, Kennedy’s approval rose to 74%. The spike in approval peaked in December 1962 at 76%. Kennedy’s approval rating slowly decreased again until it reached the pre-crisis level of 61% in June 1963.[3][9]
  • Iran hostage crisis: According to Gallup polls, President Jimmy Carter quickly gained 26 percentage points, jumping from 32 to 58% approval following the initial seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in November 1979. However, Carter’s handling of the crisis caused popular support to decrease, and by November 1980 Carter had returned to his pre-crisis approval rating.[10]
  • Operation Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War): According to Gallup polls, President George H. W. Bush was rated at 59% approval in January 1991, but following the success of Operation Desert Storm, Bush enjoyed a peak 89% approval rating in February 1991. From there, Bush’s approval rating slowly decreased, reaching the pre-crisis level of 61% in October 1991.[3][11]
  • Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush received an unprecedented increase in his approval rating. On September 10, Bush had a Gallup Poll rating of 51%. By September 15, his approval rate had increased by 34 percentage points to 85%. Just a week later, Bush was at 90%, the highest presidential approval rating ever. Over a year after the attacks occurred, Bush still received higher approval than he did before 9/11 (68% in November 2002). Both the size and duration of Bush’s popularity after 9/11 are believed to be the largest of any post-crisis boost. Many people believe that this popularity gave Bush a mandate and eventually the political leverage to begin the War in Iraq.[3][12]
  • Death of Osama bin Laden: According to Gallup polls, President Barack Obama received a 6% jump in his Presidential approving ratings, jumping from 46% in the three days before the mission (April 29 – May 1) to a 52% in the 3 days after the mission (May 2–4).[13] The rally effect didn’t last long, as Obama’s approval ratings were back down to 46% by June 30.

Controversy and Fears of Misuse[edit]

There are fears that the president will misuse the rally ’round the flag effect. These fears come from the “diversionary theory of war” in which the President creates an international crisis in order to distract from domestic affairs and to increase their approval ratings through a rally ’round the flag effect. The fear associated with this theory is that a President can create international crisis to avoid dealing with serious domestic issues or to increase their approval rating when it begins to drop.[14]

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”  — Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials 

 

3609– Friday, June 14, 2019 – Citizens: Dare, Dare Again, Always Dare!

A number of years ago (1998), I was hired by the Metropolitan Council in Minnesota as a Principle Planner II.  My job was to help the various units at the council to improve productivity and service.  I had been an independent Process Improvement consultant for the previous 13 years.  My new job meant a study paycheck and less travel.  It was a good way to get out of consulting and into more regular employment.  The people at the council were hardworking and dedicated.  Nevertheless, as Dr. Deming always said, “hard work guarantees nothing.”

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In a short while, I found more waste and useless expenditure of time and taxpayer money than I could have imagined possible.  Even though as a consultant, I had often worked with government agencies from the US Navy to the City of Minneapolis, I was astounded at the staggering amount of fruitless effort throughout the organization and other state agencies.  I had become a liaison for the Metropolitan Council to help coordinate quality improvement agencies for a joint committee that included the Met Council and members of various other state agencies.  I frequently came home and exclaimed to Karen: “My god, if the average citizen saw the waste and stupidity that I see every day, they would grab a rifle or pitchfork and march on City Hall.”  I was dead wrong.

It has been twenty years and the waste and lack of accountability in government is still appalling and “no one is marching on City Hall.”  I often doubt if anyone really cares.  There is an old saying which goes like this:

Businesses get the unions they deserve,

Industries get the regulations they deserve, and

People get the governments they deserve.

 The lack of transparency in government is bewildering.  Transparency and accountability go hand in hand.  However, many cities, states and towns fail to publish their complete financial records on-line.  Yet no one demands to see the records of government spending.

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“Democracy depends on an informed electorate, but due to current practices in both accounting and budgeting, the true financial health of a city can be obscured, and citizens are deceived, or at best misled.  Without access to truthful, timely, and transparent information, how can citizens be knowledgeable participants in their governments?” —  Truth in Accounting

It seems that everyone you talk to is willing to condemn the cupidity and incompetence of most of our political leaders.  Yet, such criticism begs the question: “Not why did we elect these people, but why do we continue to reelect them?”

“Congressional stagnation is an American political theory that attempts to explain the high rate of incumbency re-election to the United States House of Representatives.  In recent years this rate has been well over 90 per cent, with rarely more than 5-10 incumbents losing their House seats every election cycle.”Congressional stagnation in the United States

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These high rates of reelection defy logic since they come at a time when trust in government is at an all-time low.  “We the people” grouse and complain but the fact remains that “we the people” do not demand accountability and we do not enforce accountability.  We elect leaders who soon feel little or no need to represent their constituents but more likely never felt the electorate really mattered in the first place.  Too many of our leaders are fully aware that they owe their first loyalty to the lobbyists and corporations that funded them and not to the “joe or jane” on the street that simply cast a ballot for them.

“Public trust in the government remains near historic lows.  Only 17% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right ‘just about always’ (3%) or ‘most of the time’ (14%).”  — Public Trust in Government: 1958-2019

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I have repeatedly said that we need government.  It would be foolish to think that a community, let alone a nation, could function without a government.  Yet, I can also accept the words of Edmund Burke that “The government that governs best is the government that governs least.”  I do not say throw out government, but I do say “we the people” have to start making our votes and voices heard.  Too many of our so called “silent majority” simply do not give a damn.

If you don’t give a damn, you will get the government you deserve.  It would seem that this bit of wisdom has become a reality for most Americans.

PS:

I just watched Jon Stewart’s heroic and passionate speech to the House Judiciary on behalf of 9/11 Responders.  This speech will go down in history as a testimony to the difference citizens can make in government if we dare to speak out.  Stewart echoes my call for accountability in his speech.  See:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2QMqsNvWuc

“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.  Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it’s a stain on this institution.  And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here.  But you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.” — Jon Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

 

3611– Wednesday, June 12, 2019 –  Fear of Death and Dying

 Have your ever cursed out an “old” driver for going to slow?  If so, I am sure that you are not alone.  I was once one of those who had no patience for the old folks poking along doing less than the speed limit on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Karen would always remind me that “You will be old someday.”  I did not believe it.  The problem is that I am now an old driver.  I probably drive slower and more cautiously then I did years ago, but so as not to offend anyone, I usually set my cruise control about 5 mph over the speed limit.  I figure it is too slow to get a ticket but too fast to piss off anyone who hates slow old folks behind the wheel.  Of course, my logic sucks.  I am beset by mortals who obviously have both no fear of death and no fear of getting a ticket.   Why are people in such a hurry today?  Where the hell is everyone going?

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The subject of my blog today concerns the poor old guys and gals who want to live a few years longer.  One would think that at age 70 or greater, the elderly would be reckless and carefree.  After all, I have had 72 good years on this earth, why should I fret if I die tomorrow.  The strange truth is that the older we get, the more cautious we get.  It is almost like thinking that if I give up smoking, drinking, motorcycles, wild parties and wild women or wild men, I will be able to live longer.  I doubt seriously if the time to be safe is after age 70.  It seems to me that logically, the time to be safety conscious would be when you were young and had many potential years ahead of you.  Why be safe, when your heart or brain might blow out tomorrow.  This is a paradox that I do not understand, but I observe it all around me.

I have friends who don’t want to travel because it might be dangerous.  I have friends who have concealed carry permits because they might get mugged and this even in Frederic.  I have a daughter who has security lights all around her house and is planning to install a security camera.  I have friends who live in gated communities with security guards.  I have friends who will not drive in the city or at night.

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In each case above, my friends would not have thought twice about it a few years ago.  But something happens as we age.  Suddenly, we worry.  We worry more about things that in the past would not have given us a glimmer of concern.  Now we want to know what the weather will be like before we go out.  We want to know if a neighborhood is safe before we drive though it.  We want to know if a chosen vacation spot is safe to visit.

Why again I ask, would anyone with so few years left to live, worry about their safety?  They say that growing old is not for the faint of heart.  I can see why.  The older we get; the scarier things are.  Is it simply a bit of DNA that ordains old people should die safely in their beds?

A little caution as we age is no doubt common sense.  Old people are more brittle and less flexible.  We do not bounce when we fall, and we can no longer put one foot behind our heads while standing on the other foot doing a Yoga posture (not that I ever could).  We do not have as much balance and we should rightfully be staying off of high ladders and roofs.  We take more time to mend and with less time left on this earth, we don’t want to spend our last days in a cast or hospital room.  We will probably end up in a hospital room anyway, but I doubt it will be because we did anything foolish like bungee jumping or wing suit diving.

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Aging, for many of us, will be a process of pulling our blankets ever closer and ever tighter.  The days of throwing off the blankets in wild abandon and streaking naked through our gardens are probably over.  Somewhere between the two extremes we must find an accommodation with growing old.  To die or not to die is not the question.  The question is how to die.  I always liked the quote in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare “Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant never taste of death but once.”  Or to paraphrase Patrick Henry, “I know not what course others may take, but give me a party or let me die comfortably in my bed.”

“You can’t possibly be afraid of death, really, you can only be afraid of life.”  — Carl R. Rogers

3613– Monday, June 10, 2019 – Summer, Never Enough Time!

Calvin and Hobbes once described summer as “Never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”  Sometimes life seems the same way.  The older you get the faster time and things flow around, over and under you.  I have been back from Arizona almost six weeks now and after fixing the car, truck, yard, lawn mower and house, we seem to have skipped spring and went right into summer.  It was 85 degrees here yesterday.  I am still waiting to get started on my new business project and trying to motivate myself to be creative, dynamic and inspirational, at least to myself.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to a student club at Metropolitan State University.  A good friend of mine (Israel) is one of the faculty advisers to the club and each month they try to hold some type of event to help the students with both life and school.  Israel noted in his closing comments to the group that he had realized school was more than just teaching subjects but that the students who went on to become successful in life had learned character and coping skills.  Israel asked me to talk to the group.  The subject of my talk was the role that discipline plays in our life.

Wisdom Summit

Discipline is often associated with punishment.  The discipline that I discussed is self-discipline.  I view self-discipline as the commitment and ability to respond to our goals and desires in a meaningful way.  Some people say that discipline is not needed but that motivation is needed. I see things more the other way around.  It takes discipline to become good at anything in life including music, art, sports, dance, acting and business.  It helps if you are passionate about what you are doing.  Karen enjoys playing her dulcimer and practices about an hour each day.  The amazing child prodigy Anke Chen practices five hours a day to play the piano.  She is now eight years old but started playing at four.  When you watch Anke, you see someone having fun and thoroughly enjoying what they are doing.

The problem I had when I was young was not realizing the discipline and dedication it took to become great at anything.  Regardless of how much of a genius you are, regardless of how smart you are or how beautiful you are, without discipline you will eventually fail.  You can survive on pure talent for only so long.  The same goes for beauty and brains.  They will only take you so far.  Look around and you can see the “A list” people who have had life too easy and the only way they can stay on top is with drugs.  Too many great artists and performers have succumbed to the perils of drugs.  Self-discipline is a drug free remedy for a happy and fruitful life.

Now that summer is here, my writing class will start again, although our grand instructor (Dr. Carolyn Wedin) will not be attending due to illness.  Carolyn will very much be there in memory.  Her spirit will hover over each writer and guide us in the use of language and syntax.  Over the years, I have leaned a great deal from these classes about writing and life.

Writing is an art that requires great self-discipline.  There are many days when I don’t feel like writing.  It is not always easy to come up with ideas, words, adjectives, descriptions, narrative, characters, plots, settings and action that will be interesting and unique.  No one wants to hear a story that is boring or mundane.  We read something because it takes us our of our life and puts us into the life of another person.  (Of course, we may also read to learn something.)  We can live vicariously in the character of whomever we are reading about.  Today, you are living in my character.  For a few moments, you are absorbed in my thoughts and feelings and to some degree you know what it is like to be me living in Frederic, Wisconsin, the summer of 2019.

And once upon a time, in a time long ago, two hearts met, and the meeting changed the whole world.

Every time, a writer and a reader meet, it is like two hearts meeting and the world can never be the same again.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  –Anais Nin

 

 

3617– Thursday, June 6, 2019 – Living in Paradise?

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Imagine living in a town with no stop light.  A town where we leave our back and front doors open most of the time.  A town that saw its last murder case over twenty years ago.  A town where people wave to you and stop on the street to talk to you.  A town where you still see kids on bicycles and people carrying their groceries home.  A town where a meat market, library, grocery store, bank, insurance company, hair salon, church, gas station, hardware store and bakery are all within five minutes walking distance of your home.  The local business windows are festooned each week with notices for things to do and events to participate in.  Never a boring moment up here.  This is my town.  I live in Frederic, USA, Wisconsin.

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I spent the first ten years of my life in an apartment on Autumn Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.  Somewhere between Fulton and Atlantic Avenues.  I grew up reading the Hardy Boys stories, watching Spin and Marty and hating them for having a much better chance of landing Annette Funicello than I had.  I dreamed of living in a small town near a river and participating in some of the same adventures that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Flynn had.

My parents eventually moved to a medium size town in Rhode Island of about 30,000 people at the time.  While no Bayport, (the town where the Hardy Boys lived), it was a considerable step up from Brooklyn.  For some still unknown reason, we moved from Woonsocket in only four years and my brief idyll with a “near” paradise ended.  It was back to a larger urban area.  I gave up pining for a small town and four years later left all thoughts of paradise behind when in 1964, I joined the United States Air Force.

20190604_090406Now fifty years later, I am living in the town that I dreamed of growing up in when I was young.  However, now I am a snowbird, since (Did I forget to tell you?) Frederic is no damn paradise in the winter.  This past winter, Frederic had more than 90 inches of snow, making it the snowiest winter in Frederic history.  Locals that often laugh at snowbirds for leaving the great North-Woods were complaining so loud that I could hear them in Arizona.  My spouse would be more than happy to leave Frederic for a full-time gig in Arizona.

 

You may ask how we ended up in Frederic?  It just so happens that Karen’s great grandparents were some of the founders of this town.  Her grandfather and father both grew up here and Karen was baptized at a local Lutheran church.  When we decided to sell our house in White Bear Lake, MN, upon Karen’s retirement, we also made the decision to find a small town to live in.  Karen having spent many summers and weekend in her youth visiting her grandparents suggested Frederic.  I had been up here several times with and without her and was always impressed by the atmosphere and small-town civility.  I was content to live here full-time, but we agreed to split our time between Arizona and Frederic.  Karen was not nearly so keen to enjoy the snow and cold as I was.

20190604_090423Since coming to this town, I have met some of the most wonderful people you could imagine.  Karen and I took a drama class given by Dr. Carolyn Wedin.  Carolyn and the other people in the class were all fun and inspiring to be around.  We remain good friends with several of them.

Sadly, Carolyn’s health has dictated that she gives up some of her teaching and spend a little more down time.  I looked forward each year for the past nine years coming back to Carolyn’s writing and drama classes.  Alas, this year Carolyn’s health took a turn for the worse and she is taking a hiatus from teaching for the summer.  If my writing is not quite up to the usual summer standards, you can blame Carolyn.  By the way, Carolyn, is definitely one of the people I know who deserves her own blog.  I will reserve my comments about Carolyn for this later blog.  Suffice it to say for now, she is one of the best teachers and nicest persons you will ever meet.

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I could say more about small town life, but I think that is enough for now.  Many people growing up in such a town may have a more pessimistic attitude towards the life.  However, as age has taught me, there are positives and negatives to everything we do in life and everyone we meet.  This blog I want to share the positives about living in a small town like Frederic, Wisconsin.  The whole truth and nothing but the truth.  The pictures are some I have taken from a walk around the town.  A complete walk around will take less than thirty minutes. 😊

“All of us grow up in particular realities – a home, family, a clan, a small town, a neighborhood. Depending upon how we’re brought up, we are either deeply aware of the particular reading of reality into which we are born, or we are peripherally aware of it.”Chaim Potok

 

 

3619– Tuesday, June 4, 2019 – Eddy, The Gonzo Journalist

Eddy is the bad boy of the Library Guys.  Adored by his conservative readers and vilified by liberals far and wide in both Polk and Burnett County.  Eddy (Rumors have it that he is related to the late Ralph Waldo Emerson) moved to Trade Lake amidst a hail of stories concerning some nefarious goings on in St. Croix Falls where Eddy was town administrator.  Some say he was ridden out of town on a rail while others say he tired of the big city (St. Croix Falls?) and decided to live the life of a hermit in Trade Lake.  Eddy bought and moved into a small cabin sans hot water or indoor plumbing.  Perhaps worse than the lack of these amenities is the fact that he has no internet or TV.  Nevertheless, you will never find a subject that Eddy is uninformed on.  He might be misinformed but never uninformed.

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Eddy was living a fairly quiet life in his cabin until he decided to take a position on our local paper as a roving reporter.  Eddy covers many different topics and events happening in and around both Polk and Burnett Counties.  This is when he started to get into trouble with the liberals.  Eddy has a propensity to mix literature, personal opinion and journalism.  I would guess that not coming from a bona fide school of journalism, Eddy treats many of his subjects with what some call a Gonzo Journalism approach.  When the reader agrees with Eddy’s point of view, Eddy is beloved.  However, all hell breaks lose when the reader disagrees with Eddy’s perspective.  Eddy has probably broken the record here in Frederic for the greatest number of readers writing in to cancel their subscription or to demand Eddy be removed from the paper or often both.  One reader demanding that Eddie be removed coined the term “Eddyfied” to refer to what she called Ed’s bias in reporting topics.

From a personality or psychological framework, Eddy is hard to pin down.  He can be funny, serious, solemn, moody, cantankerous, obnoxious and irritating but he is never boring.  He is actually quite interesting and charming unless you get into a deep discussion with him.  Going deeper you may run into some of what I call his “bizarre” ideas.  I suppose what Eddy and I usually differ on is, well most things!  Eddy (perhaps just to be a contrarian) generally has a perspective quite different from mine.  In 2016, I lost a one hundred dollar bet with him on who would be the next president.  He picked Thump and I picked Hillary.  I am still trying to win my money back, perhaps by betting that Trump will be impeached.  I suspect Eddy would say I have a left-wing liberal bias, which I am almost 100 percent certain is false. 😊

A blog about Eddy would be incomplete without at least one example of his writing.  A number of years ago when the meth problem up here was growing, Eddy did a first-person series of interviews with some meth addicts.  In my opinion, had it not been written in a small-town newspaper, it would have been noticed for a Pulitzer Prize nomination.  It was informative, inspired, heart rending and touching.  It was something that could only have been written by blending the subjective with the objective.  Eddy was at his best with this piece.

I think there is a role for the subjective perspective in news reporting.  We are all inundated with stories of fake news as well as the admonition to find the truth.  The problem is that we all grow up with this idea that an objective truth exists out there and that all we have to do is find it.  Give us a light like Diogenes had and we are positive that we can find the truth.  I now realize that the truth is a myth.  No objective truth exists.  This is my truth.  My “truth” will not make too many people happy.  A reporter (if they want to keep their job) has to be careful to balance the “truth” and somehow keep his/her theories from dominating the framework.  There are too many people on either side of the “objective” truth who will draw and quarter you for not telling the truth as they want to see it.

Eddy will keep on truckin and where he ends up, I am sure only Eddie knows.

Eddy, please don’t Eddyfy me!  I really didn’t mean everything I said here. 

“What sells, today, is whatever Fucks You Up – whatever short-circuits your brain and grounds it out for the longest possible time.”  — Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

3623– Friday, May 31, 2019 – The Old Library Guys

Did I tell you the story about?  What do old guys talk about when they get together?  I am part of a group of guys who meet each day at the library in Frederic from 10 AM to 12 PM.  There are some guys like Jerry and Dick who come in every day.  Then there are some guys who come in frequently but not every day.  Guys like Lowell, Reggie and Bill show up about half of the week.  More infrequently are Tony, Reid and Andrea, Reid’s wife.  Reid never ever goes anywhere without Andrea or perhaps it is the other way around.  We also have the very infrequent participants like Eddie (A writer for the local newspaper) whom I will talk about another time.  Eddie deserves a blog all by himself.  In fact, each of the people I noted are probably deserving of their own blog.

old men coffee club

Every day we gather for an informal talk about whatever is on anyone’s mind.  No schedule.  No agenda.  No leader.  Almost any subject is up for grabs.  Jerry is the intellect of the group and seems to be the best read with the exception of Tony.  Tony owned a bookstore and taught college for many years.  Dick is a retired mechanic and the most sensible and objective member.  Reggie is a nuclear physicist and that is the truth.  Lowell is a drug rehabilitation counselor now raising some type of legal hemp.  Reid is a former minister and Andrea is a retired lawyer.  Bill was a teacher and now does great wood working art.

We sit around a table, drink coffee, chat and on Fridays we buy cookies from a girl who brings them in each week for sale.  They are homemade and very tasty.  Sitting around talking for two hours can sometimes have its boring moments.  Not all of the conversations are equally interesting to participants.  Some of us ease these boring moments by playing on our smart phones or reading the local newspaper.  Others peruse the library stacks or stacks of movies for something to take home.  Eventually, the conversation changes and those who may not have been interested in a previous subject then find that the new topic is of interest to them.

I have attempted to diagnose the content of our conversations.  If you made a pie chart of the subjects of our conversations, I think it would look like this.

discussion topics

Old stories clearly dominate the discussions.  The bad part of this is hearing so many old stories over and over again can be beyond boring.  The good part is that since the majority of us are over 70 years of age, we usually do not remember much of each other’s old stories.  The exception to this is Jerry.  Jerry always seems to have a keen sense of when and how many times a tale has been told before.  Some of us are worse offenders than others in terms of repeating old stories.  It clearly does not matter to the person telling the tale.  I for one feel that my stories get better each time they are repeated. 😊

Cars are our next most popular topic.  I guess a bunch of old guys anywhere in the USA would find some common ground when it comes to cars.  I don’t think there is anyone in the group who cannot remember their first car.  Dick, the former mechanic, has the best knowledge when it comes to the inner workings of a car and anytime one of us is having car problems, Dick will have some good advice. Jerry who was never much of a motor head frequently zones out when the subject turns to cars.  However, bring up Jeopardy or any old Turner Classic movies and Jerry will provide a better summary of plots and cast than you can find on Wikipedia.

Now you may have noticed that certain topics seem to correlate with the skill sets of group participants.  However, when it comes to politics, we are all experts.  Nevertheless, since Trump was elected, the group has more or less toned down its politics.  I suspect that is because some of the group voted for Trump and some did not.  There is a great divide in our land between Trump supporters and Trump haters.  In the interest of harmony and civility our group has been shying away from discussions dealing with national politics.

More recently, our political discussions tend to focus on “local” political issues.  A current hot topic is the citing of a new CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feed Operation) in Trade Lake.  Trade Lake is a town just north of Frederic by about six miles.  The operation would involve the establishment of a large hog farm on some local farmland.  Many townsfolk are against it and a number of groups have organized to stop it from being built.  Reid and Andrea live on Trade Lake and have taken a keen interest in stopping the citing of the CAFO.  Numerous stories abound about horrible smells and water pollution from pig farms.  Eddie (our journalist) has attended many of the Trade Lake Council meetings where the discussions have often become quite heated.  Once known for his lack of objectivity, he has been working harder these days to “give us the facts and nothing but the facts.”

Once the CAFO becomes old news, there is sure to be something that springs up worthy of discussion.  When all else fails, we will fall back on discussing old movies.  The majority of the group seems to favor older movies as opposed to the newer genre of comedy, superhero or zombie movie themes.  Ask any of us how many times we have seen one of the Dirty Harry or John Wayne movies and it would probably shock you.  Jerry usually leads our movie discussions due to his prodigious ability to remember details from every movie he has ever seen.  As noted above, he is a walking encyclopedia of the old classics.

Well, as Porky Pig would say “Th-th-th-that’s all folks.”

“It was among farmers and potato diggers and old men in workhouses and beggars at my own door that I found what was beyond these and yet farther beyond that drawing room poet of my childhood in the expression of love, and grief, and the pain of parting, that are the disclosure of the individual soul.” — Lady Gregory

 

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