Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Sentient Being

Listen. Watch.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

(No) Hope & Change (for the Worse)

-by Connelly Simmons

So, how's that "Hope & Change" ("We Can Believe In") thing working out for you?
(And don't even get me started about the grammar of that slogan....)

In case you weren't and aren't paying attention here's the Real Change, by the numbers:
The National Debt:

The price of corn:
The price of soybeans:
The price of sugar:
Overall non-farm unemployment:
Unemployment among African Americans:
The total number of those unemployed:
The INCREASE in the number of federal employees:
The number of those chronically unemployed:
Your income:
The number of those on food stamps:
The total number of those on unemployment:
The poverty rate:
The number of people in poverty:
The US ranking in the world among free nations:
Are you better off or worse off now?
The number of banks that went belly-up:
The value of our currency v. the Japanese currency:
One way to measure the amount of money in circulation (inflation):
Another way (inflation):
That pesky National Debt thingy:
So, how IS that (no) Hope & Change (for the worse) working out for you?

CAN you believe in this kind of change?

Is this the change for which you voted?

Or maybe you just voted for the slogan.

Or maybe you didn't vote at all....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wrestler Pinned By Iowa Misandry

– by Connelly Simmons

I have a confession: I think I’m a misogynist.

I wasn’t one yesterday, but after all that’s been headlined in the news this week and then my accidentally stumbling upon the website of Heartless BITCHes International (where the acronym stands for “Being In Total Control, Honey!") [], I’m convinced that I’m a sick human being.

I have these “feelings” whenever I’m in the presence of an attractive woman who has the right pheromones, look and carriage, and most importantly, she either, overtly touches me, finds an excuse to decrease the distance between us physically, or seems to like me and want to be with me. Yes, I know that I can’t act on my feelings… society has educated and re-educated me over my life in the proper conduct of a gentleman. It’s not like someone threw us together in a cage with no escape. But, sometimes, I can’t seem to help it. What is wrong with me?!

I used to blame it on biology and millennia of human interaction, development and natural selection. I used to just say, “Dude, that’s just the way men and women are. Can’t live with them… can’t live without them. Ha.... Ha....” I laughed it off as God’s cosmic Gender-Joke. We WANT each other, need each other, even though we sometime can’t stand each other. But I’ve been educated once again. I can’t live the lie anymore.

I just discovered that I hate women. Or, at least, I was informed that I do. Why else would I want to “possess” one? Forget that I’m looking for a life-long mate… someone to care for, someone to care for me, a companion in agony and ecstasy… someone to watch children grow with… (and don’t even start with my role in my Christian faith by which I live my life—I can’t even mention THAT.) I’m a misogynist. Women. I just “want” one in my life—and from time to time, not always for the most intellectual of interactions—so, I’m just a sick, deviant, piece of human filth. See! I said I want “one.” Not “her.” I’m doomed. I must hate women. I can’t live with myself. [CHECK THE WEBSITE ABOVE—THAT’S ME, APPARENTLY.]

Oh, why wasn’t I born a Young Teen Iowa Wrestler so I could hide my misogyny? Then I could just hang with my buds and do guy stuff—get down on the mat—smack each other around—swap sweat—only deal with sweaty “guy” pheromones (to which I’m immune)—shower together—tell coarse jokes—eat junk food and then try desperately to “make weight” for the match. I could hang in the gym and not worry about what people thought of me when I thought of women. I could keep private what should be private. After all, wrestling is about as far as you can get from women. No problem. Right?

But wait. Something happened in Iowa. I have no idea how it happened. Iowa legislature? Department of Public Instruction? High School Athletic Association? Title IX Lesbian Athleti-zealots run amok? Heck, it could have started in Washington, for all I know.

Right now, somewhere in Iowa (and probably Washington) there is at least one Liberal misandrist idiot laughing their ass off.

Why? In Iowa, now, boys have to wrestle girls and they can no longer hide their misogyny. (And in tight wrestling kits, I’m thinking they can’t hide anything else that might “appear” after going a couple of rounds grabbing and pressing sweaty bodies together with a female-woman-girl-sexually-compatible-being-type-person either. Know what I mean?) They are thrown into a cage with no escape (so to speak,) required to DOMINATE a woman in physical combat with their whole body, heart, intent, and strength. (I know that’s what my Mom and Dad taught me was The Right Thing To Do.) Sounds like a pretty good gig for a misogynist, huh?

Not for Joel Northrup.

What the heck is wrong with him? If I were in HS and somebody said, “Sorry, son. You gotta go out there and grab her (almost anywhere) and toss her around and, finally, get on top of her, or squeeze her, or pretzel her, whatever, and you have three minutes. We’ll score your performance.” I would have said, “Might take me SEVERAL rounds, Coach.” And I would have prayed she looked like, and was built like… wait… hold on... WHO CARES?!? I’m in HIGH SCHOOL! She's A GIRL!!

You’re telling me I have permission to do that? In fact, I HAVE TO?! And I get to do it in front of God and Everybody?! And I won’t get in trouble or go to jail or anything?! In fact, EVERYBODY WANTS ME TO DO THAT TO HER, AND WILL WATCH INTENTLY WHILE I DO?!? EVEN SHE WANTS ME TO?!?!?

Sign my ass up.

I would have gone out there, pimpled, skinny, hormone-charged, voice cracking, and let her pin me. SEVERAL TIMES. (Yes, I could do the several-times-thing when I was younger….) I would have lost with the BIGGEST SMILE ON MY FACE… EVER. It would have taken her the full three minutes and she would have had to be ALL OVER ME.

I’m such a pig. I’m a horrid misogynist.

The real story would have been more like, “I don’t care what I have to do. No girl is going to beat me! And I’m gonna make it hurt. That’ll teach her—this is a man’s gig, Baby! (And she’s going to like it!)” If I’d lost I’d have never heard the end of it. Punch line for a joke for ALL time.

Okay, now I’m a giant A-HOLE pig. I’m an EVIL, ABOMINABLE misogynist.

(You see where this is going, don’t you? For me and for Joel? For you? For us? For human-kind?)

Joel must be some kind of coward or sicko when he won’t treat women as equals by suppressing his total physical being because somebody in the State of Iowa says he “has to” in order to participate in a sport he likes and in which he is evidently pretty accomplished. (Sorry. That’s a run-on sentence. Forgive me. My brain is full of Liberal B.arbra S.treisand. Makes it hard to think straight.)

So Our Hero has to go out and treat a woman in a way he’s never been permitted to treat anyone but a fellow male wrestler. And then he has to walk the incredibly razor-thin personal and social line of—staying a champion for himself, doing the right thing by his teammates and coaches, living up to his parents’ standards, giving a “disadvantaged minority” their opportunity to prove themself, completely suborning his natural physical desires and urges, and living up to society’s perception of the “new” male. He’s tough but sensitive. He’s a competitor but not brutal. He’s strong enough to be a man and deal with a woman in a man’s place as his equal. Without leering, laughing, loafing or losing.

And he’s, what, 15?

Poor guy. Atlas couldn’t carry that metric-ton-load of horseshit.

(No wonder he quit. He’s like Palin. Quitter!)

He’s also my hero. (But, back to that in a second….)

- - - - -

What an incredibly ironic week. Reporter Laura Logan is viciously attacked by out-of-control men, and female wrestler Cassie Herkelmann isn’t even touched by in-control Joel…. Well, what’s a man to do? Let’s just call all those guys “pigs” (when the women-folk are listening) and go home, shall we?

In both cases, the media, in all its glory, is focused on the wrong thing—whoever THEY define as the victims.

Time was, we’d send Charles Bronson or Chuck Norris to Cairo to “KA-ATN.” (And don’t spare the CHUNKS.)

Time was, we’d applaud John Wayne for riding through the Badlands with a GORGEOUS, HELPLESS woman (when we knew he hadn’t had a “relationship” in ages)—never once thinking of taking advantage of her—and then we’d go heroically empty the trash, trying to do it just like The Duke—ready to cut off a reproductive gland just to ride in a saddle on a horse next to Him.

Time was, we’d have sent Gregory Peck (or even Tom Cruise) to the office of CBS News and REMOVED the criminal idiots who allowed Laura Logan to be in Egypt in the first place. (Katie Couric is damn lucky to have gotten out intact.)

Now, here we sit, ogling the victims like a highway accident scene—and doing NOTHING at all in all the WRONG ways. Poor Laura—let’s analyze her to death. Poor Cassie—robbed of her chance. Poor Joel—robbed by his “faith.” Poor Wisconsin—they’re about to just “bend over.”

Yes, as I type this, the Liberals of WI are… wait, forgot to say that “WI” stands for “Whiny Ingrates,” not Wisconsin, as you assumed—the WI Liberals are demanding not to “suffer” and we are TOTALLY focused on them, too.

It’s all about victim analysis.

What the Hell happened to dealing with the heroes and villains, and letting FAMILY quietly and steadfastly care for victims? Why are we so focused on the victims and not on the people of action? Heroes belong on pedestals—villains behind bars, in boxes, or on blazing pyres. There’s the story people….

The world is upside down.

(But then we worship, and have elevated, as a society, a man who hasn’t ever really done anything but talk. Our heroes and villains are exactly as we have arranged them….)

The “True” among us are BEGGING for things to be put right. Why else are movies like “The Magnificent Seven,” “Death Wish” and “Taken” timeless for men? Why do we ache for Mr. Smith as he discovers Washington? Why are we both torn to our very soul--wanting Shane to stay, AND ready to walk with Shane out of town and NEVER LOOK BACK. We know deep inside who the real hero is. (Despite what Heartless Bitches International says, and we’ll look after them anyway…. It’s our JOB.)

What should have happened this week?

I don’t know. I think we might be too far gone for a guess. But I know what I want. I don’t want a movie. I want someone real to STAND. (Governor Walker of Wisconsin comes to mind….)

I think my wish list is simple.

I want an executive at a news company to say, “The men can go. You women stay here until the VIOLENCE subsides. Work on the INTELLIGENT stuff and be ready to ‘hit the ground running’ as soon as it’s safe.

I want the people at CBS who sent/let Laura Logan go to Cairo IN JAIL.

I want, now, to leave Laura Logan alone until she feels safe and ready. The barn is empty. She’s been raped, for God’s Sake! She owes us nothing. Not even her story.

I want the president to say, “This is Wisconsin’s problem to deal with as they see fit.” I don’t want him to compare legislation to ASSAULT. (Logan was assaulted. The Unions and people of Wisconsin weren’t. Don't insult me. And don't be a firebrand. Mr. President you're only the President, you don't have enough experience to be a Governor.)

I want covert US Special Forces in Egypt. With knives. And silent, deadly things. (I'd like to think Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs is out there with his "Kate." Waiting for the word "go" in his earbud.) I don’t want to ever know, really, what happened to Logan’s attackers. I just want to hear whispers and rumors that they’ve never been heard from again. I want to hear that ugly, violent men just… disappeared. Or NOT hear, actually. I just want to think someone took care of that and the next perp will think twice.

(I also want UnPlanned UnParenthood to have to beg, borrow, bribe, blackmail, steal, and hold a bake sale to get even one public penny to operate on… but THAT’s another story entirely….)

And I want someone to build a Men’s Wrestling Stadium with Joel Northrup’s name on it. In big letters. Or just a simple statue with the inscription, “Hero.”

You see, of all the names in the news this week. His is the one I can admire and revere most.

As far as wrestling goes, he could only lose. He couldn’t win. Not for himself. Not for his team, coach, school or state. Not for his friends and family. Not for men. Not for women. Not for wrestling. And certainly not for God.

And then, he did what men twice, three times his age can’t do. He figured it out. He found the ONLY way to win, however painful, and he sucked-it-up and did it. I don’t know what his wrestling kit reveals, but that boy has a giant, man-sized, clanking, shiny brass pair that I can only hope I’ll have when the time comes.

I don’t really think he’s a misogynist. And I know I’m not either. We both believe according to the Bible, God created everything in ascending order, and he created Woman last. (Is that a Misogynistic Fairy Tale?) He created woman last and then said, “Dude!” (Or maybe he just said, “Adam…”.) And he and Adam just stared at each other and then God said, “I can’t top that. I’m done. It’s ALL GOOD. Take care of each other. Y’all have fun….”

And Joel Northrup said to Iowa, (and to any of us who are looking for a hero,) in essence, “If you people are going to be this stupid… if you’re going to try to redefine humankind to fit your desire and not God’s… if you’re going to ignore Natural Law and Social Propriety… if you think you’re going to take my manhood and humanize it or feminize it… well, I’ll just be going, thank-you.

I’m not going to be sport for fools. And, for me, it's all good.”

Fifteen years old. Fifteen years wise. Fifteen years strong. Fifteen, and already a man.

My hero.

But then, he, like me… is, in reality, probably just a sick human being. He is, after all, probably just a misogynist.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life in Dangerous Times

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
- by Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Pimp-Slap for Perez

I am so LMAO. So much so, that I had to blog and purge.

Perez Hilton.

It really does not get any better than this.

Mr. Hilton, it seems, has used a Homophobic Slur (The Other “F” Word) was captured doing it in a YouTube video [not linked here] and is seen receiving a slap in the face for same -- and the resulting screeching, cat-fight blow-up is national scuttlebutt and has resulted in Mr. Perez Hilton becoming the very public target of Ridicule.

What a waste of life-form-level intelligence. What a sad, pathetic little man. First, he hides in the weeds and lays in wait for opportunities to further his “career” and favorite social agendas at the expense of the innocent. And then, bang! Before you know it, the Cosmic Karmic Wheel has turned and the venom is in the other vein. Or, in his case, the Pimp Slap is on the other face. Not much I like better than watching an Angry Fist turn the other cheek (sharply to the side, with appropriate force) for someone who cruelly picks on the innocent.

I have this thing about the use of Fear. When you use Fear as a weapon to get what you want from others it should taste exceptionally bitter and burn like hot coals when it is touched to your own lips or heaped upon your own head by a turn of fate. I don’t feel schadenfreude in the misfortunes of the inept, the ignorant or the innocent; I bathe gleefully in it when it is the result of the misadventures of a misanthrope.

For those of you who came in late… a recap of sorts: Perez Hilton a.k.a. Mario Armando Lavandeira. (I’d have changed my name too.) According to Wikipedia, Hilton has a reputation as a blogger “known for posts covering gossip items about musicians, actors and celebrities. He often posts tabloid photographs over which he has added his own captions or ‘doodles.’ His blog has garnered both positive and negative attention for its brash attitude, its active ‘outing’ of alleged closeted celebrities and its role in the increasing coverage of celebrities in all forms of media.” I won’t re-post the entire entry, you can go here and pick it up:

Hilton is a stealth misanthrope of the lowest order who specializes in perpetuating his own useless, flimsy celebrity status under the guise of promoting a self-defined “higher” social good or, worse, he does what he does because he thinks it is fun. He’s been sued by folks who were otherwise-minding-their-own-business more times than I can count. He has a reputation for meanness that is particularly harmful to live-and-let-live Innocents. Again, from Wikipedia: “On his blog, Hilton is open about his homosexuality and about his desire to ‘out’ those who he claims are closeted gay celebrities.” The Wiki entry has a special section devoted to people of all stripes and sympathies who STRONGLY abhor Hilton’s activities. Count me WILLINGLY piling on.

Yo, Perez, what other people choose to do, how others choose to live out their dreams in ways that do not bother or harm the lives of any other person shouldn’t be any of your business. Anyone who lives under the law and doesn’t seek to impinge on the lives of others should be Free from the Fear that you might, or a government might, or that anyone else might seek their public ridicule or openly subject them to disrepute. Anything happen to you lately to get your attention on this matter, buddy? Perez, come now! It honestly surprises you when the Sword you have lived by comes calling with malice aforethought?

Having had a person in my own life who has been “outed” has made me keenly aware of the lasting damage that can be done by the careless spread of any private and protected information by second or third parties – whether true or not – when the person most concerned is unprepared for the event. (I cannot and will not argue lifestyle choices here. Don’t write me if you think I’m a [YourLifestyleChoiceHere]-Hater. I’m not. This piece isn’t about that. Caveat: I do favor forcing “private” information into the light when a person’s health or life is in danger. This isn’t about that either. It’s about what-goes-around finally coming-back-around.) When people are “outed,” and they aren’t the one doing the outing, reputations, livelihoods and careers can be trashed – not to mention what is done to families and otherwise loving bonds between people. Makes no difference if the outing is sexual (He’s GAY!), personal tragedy-related (She was raped, you know….), political (Did you know he’s a Republican?!?), past-life-indiscretion (She went to prison for it.), or any other private matter of lifestyle – if the person about whom the information is released isn’t the confessor, then it’s just gossip of one form or another. Check your handy moral and religious references -- gossip is bad. It is one of the refuges of the cowardly and fearful. It’s a weapon of the intellectually and emotionally weak.

Back to the case: another thing Hilton does regularly is to pick off “easy prey” in his desire to Ridicule for the purposes of furthering his own flimsy Celebrity or in order to further “his” social agenda. Again, this piece isn’t here to beat around the arguments concerning Mr. Hilton’s cause celeb, Same-Sex Marriage, just to beat around and beat up on his excuse for celebrity. He’s a hater of anyone who doesn’t “do” however he thinks they “should do.” Mr. Hilton is now primarily “famous” in Average-Jane-and-Joe-America for putting the then-Miss California, Carrie Prejean, in a tight spot in the final question phase of the recent Miss USA 2009 Pageant. Transcript of the question and answer from Wikipedia:

“During the Q&A portion of the contest, pageant judge Perez Hilton's question came to Prejean. Hilton asked:
Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?
Prejean responded:
Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.”

Okay. Probably a fair enough question in the context of All Things. After all, we are about “change” here in the Red, White and Blue.

[I am compelled to interject at this point, as an aside, that I cannot fathom how a sad little hater of a man like Hilton became a judge in the Female Beauty Pageant world in the first place. If he’s Gay and likes men, wouldn’t he be more qualified to judge the MISTER Universe pageant or something where men are contestants? As a gay man, and therefore obviously more open to being the potential target of some other man’s sexual desire, does he aspire to improve his chances at success-in-same by being a part of “all things more feminine” and therefore have an edge on the rest of the male world in attracting male attention? I’m so confused here. (It’s kind of like trying to follow the space-time-continuum paradoxes in a Star Trek film.) I understand that he has appropriated, as his very nom-de-guerre, a take-off on the name of his own highest estimation of The Sacred Feminine, Paris Hilton. (What the heck is HE thinking?) Does being a faux-feminine beauty-wannabe qualify him to judge True Femininity in some pageant organizer’s mind. Oh, wait… many state Miss X Pageant directors are also gay men?!? Hmmm…. Wow. I wasn’t aware of the trend. I would think that any female-beauty-contest-judging panel would more suitably be composed of Past Miss Whomevers and consist of slightly more traditionally-Masculine experts in Femininity. Perhaps Mr. Hilton can find a spot on the panel at the Mr/s/?. GLB 2010 Pageant. Hey, I wonder what those contestants would say about same-sex marriage, Perez? But, I’ve departed from the text enough….]

So, back to the drama at hand: Mr. Perez as the hunter and the Innocent as the hunted…. Or was it the other way around now...?

Like the celebrities “outed” before her, I personally think that Miss Prejean did the best she could with the career-ending, politically-charged dynamite handed to her. She fell on it. Again, I’m not here to hash that outcome. (She took the same stance as our President, by the way.) But it’s what came after that outcome that really shows us Mr. Hilton in all his radiant glory. He went to his video blog and made pronouncement upon the then-long-removed-from-competition and therefore-moot-contestant Ms. Prejean:

(Wikipedia: ) “After his blog post Hilton lambasted Prejean as a ‘dumb bitch’ in a YouTube video [I refuse to link.] he taped after the pageant Sunday night. He apologized the next morning for the attack, then retracted his apology. On the following Tuesday afternoon, Hilton told an MSNBC female anchor that he was thinking of the ‘c-word’ as he listened to Prejean's answer. Hilton in an interview with CNN's Larry King; ‘Yes. I do expect Miss USA to be politically correct.’"

I won’t re-argue the whole marriage question timeline here, but that’s what I was talking about in my opening paragraph. A viper lying in wait for an easy mark. Please allow me to use the format one employs to reveal the True Killer in the Parker Brothers board game “Clue:” “It was Mr. Hilton -- on National Television -- with The Politically-Correct Question.” Sorry, Miss CA. But I distinctly heard Mr. Hilton just ask you, to paraphrase an old mean-spirited joke, if you have “quit beating your wife.” [Irony intended.] You lose with any answer.

And now, Mr. Hilton has used a Homophobic Slur (The Other “F” Word) and received a slap in the face for same -- and the resulting blow-up is national chuckle-fodder and has resulted in Mr. Perez Hilton becoming the very public target of someone’s ridicule. He's lucky someone hasn't popped a cap in his ass. How sad, Perez. How sad that this didn’t happen prior to the outing of some otherwise quiet and unassuming gay celebrities or prior to the Miss USA 2009 Pageant.

But, don’t worry, Carrie… rest easy in the fact that now, forever, and always, Perez Hilton will go to his grave wishing he were half the woman you are.

So, I don’t know which side of the issues you come down on. Don’t care really. Some of you may feel sorry for Mr. Hilton. If you do, please read his blog and support his sponsors. For the rest of you who may enjoy cosmic justice... join me in enjoying a piqued, hurt, screeching little coward writhing in agony from a blind-side pimp-slapping as his private laundry is publicly aired.

That’s why I’m sitting here laughing my ass off.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life, Fortune, Honor

Who wrote this piece below...? (He's dead now if a clue will help.) If you send me an email asking, I'll tell you. (Or you can Google yourself silly.) Why the secrecy? If I told you the name of this man up front, public polling says that I'd have a 50/50 chance that you'd call me names and never return my calls again.

That notwithstanding, this piece should be required reading for EVERY American regardless of demographic. Preferably to be read at a young, impressionable age.
(Btw, if you object to any part of this post, fine, but I don't want to hear from you.)

- - -

My children and I attended the gathering on the North Carolina Capitol grounds in Raleigh on Wednesday and the air was filled with all sorts of things - and none of it was covered properly in the media. I have three children I dearly love. Their future is, in part, my responsibility. I fear for their country's future. I fear for their liberty and their freedom. That's why I went on Wednesday and will go again whenever I can.
If you are one of the few who didn't/don't understand the Tax Day Tea Parties and want to understand them, this is for you.
If you think the Tea Parties were crap or mean or partisan. Stop now. You haven't got what it takes to understand the rest of this. Go away.
If you are a "thinking American," interested in your/our roots (whether you claim them or not,) who has an active, open and feeling soul, it'll just be confirmation of what you already realize.

Read on....

= = =

"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor"

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them." All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the president's desk, was a panoply -- consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: "I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

Much To Lose

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half - 24 - were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

"The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

"Most Glorious Service"

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

• Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

• William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

• Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

• Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

• John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

• Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

• Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

• Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

• George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

• Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

• John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

• William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

• Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

• Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

• Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

Lives, Fortunes, Honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Season's Grudge Reprised

Spring and birdsong have crept through my little forest on fog trails
Under loam and matte of leaf and stem I sensed the bulge of bulb and tendril
(Although that false and mischievous cloud obscured my view.)
Then Winter’s vapor did as vapor will and yielded late to fat flakes fallen
Heaps upon heaps of this bold reminder that season’s change can hold a grudge
Thus in an hour hid all victory from despair and his companion fear
They’ve found their way from East of Eden to my doorstep and into my garden place
Spring has held her tongue and awaits her cue in the wings of the story’s drama
I know her being to be right there in hiding, idling for a constellation’s arrival,
Pending a degree of heat and a lumen of light and a plodding turn of celestial arc
But only because I have seen the play before, just as I was last a seed awaiting
Window glass and wood frames the sadness within and the purity without
The snow has come a last time to bundle tight our expectation
And we will wait under this last shroud of denial until March bursts on
An arrow to her mark at downstage center in the footlights’ special warmth
Expectation of the story known still yields excitement in our hero’s wrath
I wish death not on any living thing except the bitter breath of winter
Living, like dying, isn’t fallow when furrows belie the field
Only furrows broken from below will beggar the sun’s return
And choice greenness, once again a hobo in search of home,
Arrives at where we are to be taken in as a child, our steward
The stage is set afire with light and all the characters are afoot
The properties are placed and the book is solved and put to voice
Implements of sound and light await the touch of action sewed
Tilling ground without a plow breaks the plowman, not the soil.
And none but broken earth will render birth and earth renewed
The white-crested daffodil can shiver a while to strengthen stem and petal
And earn the right to gaze where we dare not – straight into the sun.
So in the wings is Spring in costume with her painted face in study ready
And I, the plowman, here stand promising her I will not fail to cue her line aright
And I will beat her sword into my plowshare and take her path
Where she will lead, into her Summer’s promise I will follow.