Thar She Blows!

Letter to the Editor. 2 February 24. Gene Scott to the Johnson City Press.

Dear Editor,

The Saturday paper listed The Wager as the current #1 non-fiction bestseller, and I’m enjoying the true story, a frightening account of life at sea in the 1700s.  Ironically, it mirrors current U.S. politics.

Each sailor crewing an English man-of-war had a purpose; if that purpose went unfulfilled, people died. To become a captain of a British warship, one had to serve in each of its capacities, from deck swabber to latrine pumper before climbing the quarterdeck.

Knowing how it all worked together, and obtaining empathy for all positions, British captains and crews transformed the British islands from a cold rock into an Empire where the sun never set.

But our current political situation is nothing short of a bald mutiny by a small minority that rails against our constitution, ignoring what they swore to uphold:

“In order to form a more perfect Union … and promote the general welfare.”

Reuters.com
Reuters.com

 The British simply tied a cannon ball to a mutineer’s ankle and dropped him off the side.  Better sailing ahead was the motto.

But now we coddle insurrectionists, and our own “representatives” deny election results that have cost millions upon millions to triple verify. All the while turning down federal dollars for school lunches (Marsha Blackburn).

Thar She Blows!
Thar She Blows!

We can save money on cannon balls and cotton rope by substituting brick from the wantonly destroyed public school system – while tax dollars are stolen for parochial schools – and the hemp these jokers must be smoking if they believe their greed and grab for power will get them re-elected for any length of time.

As a whole, the American public is not that stupid.

If it is, then we deserve the treasonous reef already threatening to smash the hull of our beloved nation.

How good is your backstroke?

– Michael “Gene” Scott

Dear Diary (Election Day 2022)

I’ve never shared an entry from my personal diary before, but today I got up and read the newspaper and discovered:

On November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler launched his first attempt at seizing power in Germany with a failed coup in Munich that came to be known as the “Beer-Hall Putsch” (AP).
Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch. Photo credit, History.com
In 2016, Republican Donald Trump was elected America’s 45th president, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in an astonishing victory for a celebrity businessman and political novice. Republicans kept their majorities in the Senate and House (AP).

And now this sad Trumple-Thin-Skin, a dictator-wannabe with a failed coup attempt of his own under an extra-large belt is now throwing a third hat into the ring after losing his first two elections by a combined eleven million votes in order to avoid further prosecution, claiming such a step toward justice would be purely “political”.

If you look at the situation democratically, the writing’s on the wall.

One year ago: A U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection issued subpoenas to six more associates of former President Donald Trump who were involved in his efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election (AP).
AP PHOTO / JOSE LUIS MAGANA
AP PHOTO / JOSE LUIS MAGANA

Diary Entry / 8 November 22

Election Day. Full moon.  The fate of our nation will be determined today.

That’s been said many times in the past.  But today, it’s especially true.

Why?

There are nearly three hundred 2020 election results deniers running for office, many in the position to control the fate of future elections if voted in today.

"The risk is that an election denier serving as a state official could try to manipulate the results in 2024 so that their preferred candidate wins — even if they don't receive the most votes," said States United Action head Joanna Lydgate (MSN).

This is the second nail in democracy’s coffin. When the Supreme Court voted in 2015 to allow corporations, foreign or domestic, to pour unlimited funds into any politician’s campaign chest, well.

The corpse began to stiffen.

In a written statement, President Obama said the high court had "given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics." He called it a "major victory" for Wall Street, health insurance companies and other interests which would diminish the influence of Americans who give small donations (Fox News)

If the Republicans carry the House of Representatives today and begin to lionize integrity and brain-challenged folks like Jim Jordan, Rosemary Taylor-Greene, and Lauren Bobert, well.

The Fourth Reich is well underway.

Poking a stick into your wife’s womb and overthrowing elections are just the warm-ups.

There Was a Time

Maggio Vietnam Wall RubbingIn high school, I worked two summers on the Hennepin Canal, a relic of the 19th Century connecting the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers allowing mules to pull barges from Rock Island to Chicago.

Although it was a “failure” — due to the simultaneous widening of locks on those big rivers that made it quickly obsolete — new engineering techniques required to construct it made the Panama Canal possible.

Lock 22
Hennepin Canal, Lock 22. This is what it looks like today.

One summer day, while I painted the Lock 22 bridge red with a hand brush — the last guy to do so since 1974 — a fellow worker just returned from Vietnam showed me his photographic scrapbook.

Full of dried Vietnamese ears linked together with twine to make belts.

Full of dried Vietnamese noses woven together with fishing lines to make necklaces.

He was proud of it.

Sensing a wave of bile rising to my throat, I turned away in disgust.  He’d married a neighbor girl, but I consciously never crossed his path again.

My draft number was 61 in 1972, but this was 1974 and the war was over.  Looking back, it may have been a good time to go into the service because I wanted to be a photographer/journalist and the bullets wouldn’t fly with fury again until the Persian Gulf War in ’91.

But those pictures made those ideas untenable, even though this was the Watergate era, the apex of newspaper journalism when everyone — it seemed — wished to be Bernstein or Woodward and the military would let me write and take pictures without a gun in my hand.

When I was a bartender at the Playboy Club (’79-’80), I’d hang out at the Billy Goat just to smell cigar smoke and catch a glimpse of my hero, Mike Royko, chomping a cheeseburger. The quintessential Chicago journalist who pitched softballs with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

Mike Royco

This song is my tribute to those who served in Vietnam.

One of my best friends fought as an M-60 machine-gunner on a PBR craft, which was a twin-engine fiberglass pleasure boat built for speed and outfitted with twin M2HB .50 caliber machine guns forward in a rotating shielded tub, a single rear M2HB, one or two M60 light machine guns mounted on the port and starboard sides, an Mk 19 grenade launcher, and a Jacuzzi drive so it could enter the shallow water.

M60
M60

He speaks little of the combat he encountered in Vietnam, but I’ve shared hotel rooms with him and he gets up in the middle of the night, pounds the headboards with his fists until they’re bloody, and battles demons all night long. Talks to his service comrades throughout the night, those who lived, and those who died.  The few battle stories he has shared make me wonder why he sleeps at all.

A cherished mentor escaped the draft by going to college, but his younger brother served in the Army and volunteered for a rescue mission — even though he was at the end of his tour and knew he was going home to his family in a month. Refusing to turn his back on his buddies when they needed help, Randall Maggio paid the ultimate price.

Randall Maggio
21 years old

Randall Maggio Medals

The Maggio Way
The Maggio Way

This song does not pay justice to anyone who served in the Vietnam War.  I’m not even sure where it came from.  Suffering a long songwriting drought, I tuned the guitar to an open chord, and there it was.  The melody requires only the picking hand.

But I do know the pain and suffering that war caused still lives today.

I see it in my friends’ eyes, hear their screams in the night, and feel the anger they exude when confronted with the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Randall’s brother Drex and I went to the Traveling Wall in Chicago one summer, but he couldn’t get near it.  I could see the veins in his forehead sticking out, his fists clenching.

Vietnam Memorial Wall

Vietnam was invaded at least eight times — in the modern era alonebefore our attempt.  We couldn’t even learn from the French, who were defeated by the same guy who kicked our ass.  We won a majority of the battles and killed an estimated one-million-one-hundred-thousand Vietnamese and Viet Cong, but lost the war for the very same reason the French limped home in disgrace.

Inadequate Education Mixed with Greed and “Christian” Nationalism

When a Supreme Court member’s moral stance is “I love beer!” and a ten-year-old has to carry her rapist uncle’s baby to full term — or risk being charged with murder — then it’s obvious we don’t even know our history going back a mere fifty years.

We’d already learned those lessons — as polio taught us about vaccines — but lightly-educated politicians in high places are now forcing the idea into ten-year-old brains that it makes perfect sense to murder their incestuous rapists because they’re going to face a murder charge, anyway.

Kill My Rapist
Kill My Rapist!

And now polio is back.

One has to wonder if sheep wormer will be prescribed for this new outbreak.

“Christian” Nationalists say they pray to Jesus, who as a Jew believed life begins at birth, not conception.  They don’t even know the God they’re praying to, much less read and comprehend a Bible that explains love conquers, and that we should render unto Caeser what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.

A preacher I admire once said from the pulpit: "We want you to read your Bibles. Make no mistake. But please don't pick them up all at the same time because the resulting dust storm would blot out the sun."  

-- Reverand Bill Carter, Holston Conference, UMC

They do not know the horrific harms connected to a mixture of church and state foisted upon innocents across the centuries.  Our own brewing Civil War is a direct descendent of those historic horrors.

Now we have to learn them all over again via death and destruction.


I tried to research how many times Afghanistan’s been invaded, but I grew weary when I got to ten.  We couldn’t even learn from the Russians, who slunk home with their tail between their legs after the Taliban blew them out of the sky with US Stinger missiles carried by Tennessee mules.

Taliban and Stingers
Taliban and Stingers

There Was a Time is dedicated to those who served in Vietnam and live with its consequences to this day.

Our undying gratitude will never be enough, will never repair what’s been torn asunder.

 


There Was a Time …

Verse 1

There was a time when I was sixteen.

Didn’t have a guitar, and had no self-esteem.

There was a time when I turned eighteen.

Still unexposed to anything obscene.

Bridge

Then a letter came by the US Mail.

It said I had a choice:  Vietnam or jail.

Verse 2

I went to war. Yes, I did, and now

I flop around at night like an ocean squid.

I went to war. Yes, I did, and now

I flop around all night wondering what I did.

Chorus

We fought for the helicopter company Bell.

We fought for Dow Chemical as well.

Don’t ever get on the wrong side of The Man.

Do your stint and eat the Spam.

Vietnam or jail.

Verse 3

There was a time when we thought we’d win.

But the real enemy was lurking within.

That same country that sent me to war

Slaughtered my son at the Capitol’s front door.

Bridge

He was a fine policeman they said.

Then they jabbed a flag pole into his head.

Chorus

There was a time before we sold out.

There was a time when we had no doubts.

There was a time when we thought we’d win.

But the real enemy was lurking within.

 Copyright: Alarice Multimedia, LLC.

Butt Shooting Reported

Butt Shooting Reported

Looked like the GOP would gather new seats in the mid-terms. 

They had it nearly sewn up.

But then they stripped constitutional rights and freedoms from 1/2 of all voters. Uh.

Followed that up by castrating the EPA and ensuring our early deaths via air and water pollution just so the petroleum industry could rake in more $$$. 

Cough

Meanwhile, America comes in (dead) last in healthcare among wealthy nations.

(Try providing health care to poor people. See what they do to you, then.)

Followed THAT up by standing behind a senile insurrectionist when they have moral and able young folks — good honest people who don’t lie and grab women between their legs — waiting in the wings.

Only a gun cult could be so practiced and accurate at repeatedly shooting itself in the butt?

Kerpow!

Roe Roe Roe Your Vote
Roe Roe Roe Your Vote