Category Archives: American Character

A face worth respect and admiration

This year has been very difficult for me to get blog posts written, despite good intentions. My dearth of writing is a combination of my husband’s daily care takes up more of my time, leaving me emotionally drained many days.  Also, the constant media/Trump hysteria disgust me to the point of total burnout on following the news.  Added to all that, often lately my old problem of sitting down to write, then getting stuck on what to write about strikes, resulting in more time spent talking myself into defeat about my desire to write than I do actually writing.  I keep wondering if anything I write makes even a drop of difference in the vast raging seas of political punditry and commentary.

The question that swirls in my mind lately is does what I write just throw more fuel on our extreme partisanship or does it offer anything informative, positive, or hopeful?  It’s a challenge for me not to write Trump, Dem and media bashing invective

Ordinarily, I’d be totally on board  writing about serious and currently popular cultural topics like civility and rebuilding some common ground, but often I think my cynical son probably has it right when he insists we have the society we deserve and he sees 2016, with two thoroughly corrupt candidates, as the fitting candidates for our “almost too stupid to exist” culture.  Despite being a very Pollyanna-type person, lately I wonder if perhaps he’s right, then I dig in on my Libertybelle American cheerleader beliefs and refuse to surrender to the spreading cultural and political corruption, the disturbing escalating partisan hatred and the chaos resulting from leadership vacuums everywhere I turn.

Negativity aside, I’ve seen some good pieces written on civility and positive advice for our ailing spirit.  Here are the links to a four-part series Carly Fiorina recently wrote.  I had mentioned the first part in a previous blog post and all four are very positive and worth a read:

Carly Fiorina: Between Trump and the media, ‘Who’s Zoomin’ Who?’

Carly Fiorina: It’s never as easy as the politicians think it is

Carly Fiorina: Stop waiting on Washington to fix our problems

Carly Fiorina: Who I’ll vote for this November

The thing I liked about Carly Fiorina as a presidential candidate, was something I consider a very important trait of a good leader – she invested a lot of time and energy into reading up on issues and policies.  She showed up to debates very prepared to debate real issues and policies.  When she gave interviews, she could speak articulately about serious matters and she had a lot of positive ideas.  I will always prefer leaders who display the good character trait of investing a lot of time into studying and preparing when tackling complex issues or taking seriously their duty to any office or position they hold.  During the GOP primary Trump attacked “that face”, but in my book, Carly Fiorina is a face worth respect and admiration.

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Filed under American Character, Civility, Culture Wars, General Interest, Making a Difference, Politics

Quest for common American values

“In the military, and in a military family, you learn to do something very hard and not of your own choosing, for a cause bigger than yourself. You’re working for a cause determined by the mechanisms of democracy, standing side by side with others who are fully committed. Current U.S. civilian life has a striking absence of “common causes”—tasks that remind us that there is more that unites us than divide us.”

– Kathy Roth-Douquet

America’s Elite Needs to Get Back in Uniform

I’ve had this link saved for over a week, intending to use it in a blog post, but really there’s not much I can add to this excellent piece written by Kathy Roth-Douquet.

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Filed under American Character, Food for Thought, General Interest, Military

About diversity

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Happy Constitution Day, September 17, 2018

Words have always fascinated me, probably because speaking was such a long, hard struggle for me as a child.  Even now, in my late 50s, I still stutter sometimes when I am nervous or even more distressing, I begin to chatter on and on… kind of like how I write so many long rambling blog posts… only worse.

I wrote my Messages of mhere story in an annoying third person, with a snarky tone and pseudonyms, but it really is a true story, all of the characters are real people, but I have no way to prove what happened to me in 1998, so I live my life looking over my shoulder and trusting no one.  That’s the truth. I mentioned that story, not to rehash all that, but because I wrote a lot about my childhood fascination with words and how people use them there.

As a child I developed a lot of obsessive-compulsive behaviors.  One of them was a dedicated, pretty much daily habit of spending an hour or two reading the dictionary.  I loved to read books and I even developed a habit for reading from our set of World Book Encyclopedias too.  At first I used a paperback dictionary for my dictionary reading, but I guess I was around 11 or 12 years old when my parents bought a set of encyclopedias, which came with a large, lovely dictionary.

I’ve mentioned that dictionary in a previous blog post, I think.  When our parents died, I inherited that set of encyclopedias and this fantastic “encyclopedic”  dictionary, which is in need of repair:

From those childhood OCD habits, I still constantly google the definition of words and anguish over the words I choose when writing.  Words have meaning, some words have several meanings, but even the meaning of a word, with several meanings, can almost always be winnowed down to what that word means in a sentence, based on the other words and punctuation in the sentence.  We don’t need to meander to the Lynne Truss punctuation lamentations extreme to agree that how we use words matters.

The PC culture relies on Orwellian doublespeak tactics to impose their cultural dictates on all political discourse in the American public square and then throughout the other mass media avenues, like the entertainment industry.  It permeates our society from top to bottom.  The PC lingo isn’t slang or some sort of shorthand terminology, it’s specifically designed to corrupt and confuse American foundational principles, constitutional precepts and even common moral beliefs.

The other day on Twitter, several prominent journalists and political commentators, in their usual strident anti-Trump fashion, bashed Trump and waxed on that,  “diversity is what makes America great.”   Diversity isn’t what makes or made America great.  Diversity is just a bunch of people from different groups.

The fixation on “diversity” followed a progression of leftist efforts to divide Americans into seething groups, whom they could exploit with identity political efforts.  Americans embracing hyphenated identities became  a visible manifestation of this Leftist political effort, which advanced to our current PC fixation on “diversity”.

What made America great is our common belief in individual liberty, our foundational principles and The Constitution, which codified our individual rights.  The strength of America is that regardless of  your race, ethnicity, religion or sex, anyone can become an American.  It’s one nation united by these beliefs that makes America not only great, but also a unique country in the history of mankind.  Absent these common beliefs which unite us, America will devolve into a hot mess of factionaled fighting, of the type President George Washington warned about in his farewell address.

Among the right, there’s been a backlash to the PC diversity culture and President Trump plays to their xenophobic impulse, but even more disturbing to me is the belief gaining traction among some conservative intellectuals that America must dramatically decrease immigration to preserve traditional American culture.

Being a culture of people from diverse religious, racial, ethnic backgrouns isn’t the problem causing disunity or a fracturing in America society.  The disunity stems from an abandonment of our civic beliefs and a profound lack on commitment to any common values and a lack of American spirit.  It will take a concerted effort to quit the PC faux “diversity” identity politics fixated on factional alliances and work hard to rebuild a common American identity dedicated to uniting Americans to this common purpose:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble to the United States Constitution

American culture has always been a smorgasbord of ethnic communities springing up, who maintained many of their home country habits, cuisine and lifestyle, but even when the first generation struggled with assimilation, the second generation became completely Americanized.

The U.S.military can serve as a role model at rapid assimilation efforts.  Our military is a true diversity soup and very quickly, through basic training, followed by advanced individual training for a specific military job, service members swear an oath to defend The Constitution, embrace a clear, concise set of values, eat, sleep and work together 24/7 and learn to work as one team committed to a common purpose.

The “common purpose” training in civilian life in America has been deliberately ground down in our schools and civic institutions and replaced with diversity worship, which was a deliberate, leftist political effort to erode traditional American values, confuse people, and fuel factional divides.

What America really needs is a rededication to good citizenship training, especially in American schools.  Instead of investing so much time to PC issues, American children would be better served if more time was dedicated to teaching them about not only their rights as Americans citizens, but also about their responsibilities.  Freedom isn’t free and each citizen really does a have a civic duty to embrace upholding The Constitution.

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Filed under American Character, Culture Wars, General Interest, Politics

America’s black vomit

Whenever you think our American political freak show can’t become more bizarre, just wait a day or two.  Since 2015, when Donald J. Trump, tacky, brash, longtime Democrat funder, reality TV star, entered the 2016 presidential race, our national political news became The Trump Show.

President Trump, a leader who prefers a loudmouthed, ill-informed carnival barker approach to setting the moral tone of his presidency, remains more a symptom of our dysfunctional American polity than the disease.  Trump is like black vomit, which although startling and jarring to see, remains but an outward sign of bleeding in your digestive tract.  If you start puking up black vomit, it’s a sign of some serious underlying problem.   Trust me, from my experience,  when I tell you, black vomit is an alarming sight.

Here again, America’s black vomit doesn’t only spew from President Trump’s lips.  It  spews from both left and right, from prominent American politicians and  “thought leaders” down to rabid, brain-dead citizens taking to both literal streets and the internet by-ways.

America endures political incitement efforts 24/7.  President Trump and Maxine Waters level incitement may be direct assaults on our civil order, but they are not alone.  The relentless media scorched earth SPIN information war being waged via all avenues of information – on TV, on social media and online forums and even in our entertainment, bombard us non-stop with extreme politicization.

Along with the Trump/Waters nuclear option verbal attacks, many other partisan verbal battles continue across the American media landscape.  Weaponized words bombard us daily, blowing up not only every vestige of civility in our culture, but also reducing our language to a minefield of hidden meanings and subterfuge of cynical political distortions and fabrications.  We are now living in an America where it really does seem to be a relativistic hell depending on what the meaning of  “is” is.

A Trump mouthpiece, David Bossie,  uttered the phrase “cotton pickin” to a black pundit on Fox News and America erupted into a racial debate, even though around the South, the phrase “cotton pickin”, being uttered by both blacks and whites,  is as ubiquitous as sweet tea or pecan pie.

Jim Webb, former U.S. senator, wrote a gut-check op-ed about our extreme politicization of our language and crushing political correctness.  Webb writes:

So, let’s sum this up. The host did not know what Mr. Bossie meant by using the phrase “cotton picking” and indicated that he and Fox News do not agree with it. In its opening sentence on the controversy, Yahoo characterized “cotton picking” as a “racist phrase.” And now I guess the rest of us are supposed to put down “cotton picking” as a cultural no-no that cannot be uttered in public because it violates the ever-growing lexicon of political correctness.

Really? Let me offer a few thoughts.

First, “Cotton picker” has long been a common phrase in much of the South, with no racial connotations. Throughout my life it has been slung around with about the same level of camaraderie as, “hey, dude.” When I was a kid there was even a country song, mostly instrumental, called “Cotton Picker.” Another popular song, sung mostly on the white folks bandwidth, laments “Them old cotton fields back home.” The phrase “cotton picking” has been a part of normal usage for generations from white to white, as in, “you don’t know a cotton picking thing about what you’re talking about.”

Second, I don’t know Mr. Payne but if he has Southern heritage he should not feel unique, personally or as an African-American, to have “some relatives who picked cotton.”

Memo to Mr. Payne: I’m proud of my mother’s journey, Joel. Very few people in this country of any ethnic origin had it harder than my mother, and nobody complained less. And along the way, my mother picked a LOT of cotton. She also picked a lot of strawberries. And harder still for the energy it took, she chopped a lot of cotton – not many people even remember what that meant.

http://www.jameswebb.com/news/my-cotton-pickin-mama

President Trump and Maxine Waters are two peas in a putrid demagogic pod.  They may point at each other and howl about the awfulness of the other, but the truth is they both behave as vile, ignorant, boorish cretins.  That is the truth.  Sadly, both of them place their partisan flame-throwing and incitement efforts above setting decent examples of civil behavior.  They have plenty of company among the media at fueling these word game controversies.  In the wee hours, the other night I retweeted this one:

libertybelle Retweeted Kyle Griffin

Leftists see ominous things in words that aren’t there. Around the military, they pitch tents and set up “camps” as shelter – even for American soldiers, we set up CAMPS…

libertybelle added,

The Left’s outrage machine, which imposes political correctness on America, feeds off  of word controversy, much of it generated via spin attacks they wage on social media.  The right moved into playing this faux outrage game when  Trump parlayed his personal Twitter feed into a potent front against the Left and mainstream media’s lock on controlling the “national conversation” in America.  Many pro-Trump pundits laud him as being a “disruptor” and equate his fact-free, high-octane tweets and vicious name-calling as  “winning” against the Left’s spin, but each battle tears a bit more of the soul of our country apart.

Looking back, when Barack Obama became president a longtime political barrier was demolished.  A black man holding the highest elected office in America rightly garnered a great deal of media attention.  However, the deep partisan divides, even in 2008, created constant partisan flashpoints and fissures of unrest.

Our present bizarre political climate didn’t form in a vacuum.  It follows decades of polarizing Leftist SPIN information warfare waged against the Right and the American people by the Left and mainstream media.  The Clinton media gurus introduced the SPIN type info war into American politics and from there it blossomed into an all-out culture war against the Right and conservatives.  President Obama used the Oval Office to foment racial discord and aid and abet the Black Lives Matter street activism against the police.  Anger and feelings of political alienation fed the Right, which led to the Tea Party movement.

In 2016, both parties sold their souls to two very corrupt, extreme narcissists, who were willing to do or say anything to win.  The fall-out from 2016 still litters our political landscape and the ruthless scorched earth information war continues, unabated.

America loses when morally bankrupt politicians and media promote and perpetuate this extremely corrupt spin information warfare against the American people.  Spin cycles churn at such a fast rate now that perceptions and reactions far outpace the rate at which facts begin to catch up.  Each side works to capitalize on that fact-void window of opportunity to lob verbal assaults, all to try to galvanize public opinion among our increasingly gullible and easily led public, which prefers to react rather than think or carefully study issues.  It’s a shameless media shell game to dupe the American people, who have been brainwashed on Oprahesque emoting for decades.  Neither side will ever win this spin mass media information war.

Only when some principled leaders on both sides renounce this scorched earth spin information war and begin the difficult process of reconstructing some common ground in our political landscape will we be able to begin rebuilding and uniting America around some shared American values again.

Digging out from under this suffocating pile of spin rubbish won’t be easy, but each small effort at rejecting reactionary spin sets us on a better path.  I’m trying to take time to sift through these endless spin bombardments.  My goal is to cultivate a habit of rejecting joining in any spin-driven outrage…  from either side.

It’s way past time for Americans to calm down for a change.  Let’s all stop being mindless reactionaries and work at learning how to be good citizens, who protect and respect The Constitution of the United States.  Even more than that let’s treat all people with respect.

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Filed under American Character, Civility, General Interest, Information War, Politics

Frederick Douglass celebration

Found this Frederick Douglass google celebration site worth checking out:

Learn about writer and activist Frederick Douglass

 

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Filed under American Character, American History, General Interest

Chasing old paper trails

“Some people regard discipline as a chore.  For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”
— Julie Andrews

I spent the day sorting through a lot of old photos, cards, letters and other old papers.  In January 1980, I completed my AIT course at the Defense Information School, becoming an Army journalist:

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I thought about this a good bit today, because I went out in the garage to sift through some old photo albums and memorabilia, that I had in my old steamer trunk.  I purchased that trunk at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN to hold my large pile of books, which I had in my barracks room.  Someone told me that I could ship them to my first duty assignment by sending them “hold baggage”.  My AIT boyfriend, a Marine, lugged that steamer trunk to his car and took care of getting my books shipped safely.

When my steamer trunk arrived in Germany, it was shipped to some nearby infantry unit.  I was assigned to 1/41 FA (Pershing).  Once again, men came to my rescue.  I asked my battalion commander, whom I worked for, as the battalion public affairs person, how I would go about getting my steamer trunk of books.  I asked him where I should go to make arrangements to receive my steamer trunk, filled with my books.

My battalion commander, smiled and told me he had a meeting at that infantry unit and he told me that I could drive along with him and his driver.  He assured me that his driver would assist me with retrieving my steamer trunk.  I was concerned that trunk would not fit in the sedan.  When I expressed that concern, my battalion commander assured me that we would cross that bridge, if we came to it.

My battalion commander went to his meeting and his driver took me to retrieve my trunk. It would not fit in the trunk of the sedan, so the driver loaded it into the backseat of the sedan. It took up most of the back seat.

When we went to pick up our battalion commander, I was worried that he would be angry about my trunk becoming such an inconvenience. When he saw the trunk in the backseat, he smiled and said there was plenty of room in the backseat for him and he insisted I stay in the front passenger seat.  He said something like, “You young people can stay up there and chat.” He was matchmaking, because his driver liked me a great deal.

When we got back to 1/41 FA (Pershing), the driver dropped the battalion commander off at his office and then his driver drove to my battery.   He went inside and got another guy to assist him in lugging my steamer trunk down to my barracks room.

A few days later I bought a metal bookcase at the PX and sat and assembled it, so my books would have a home in my barracks room.

That trunk has served a lot of purposes in my life. When we lived in Columbia, SC, in the mid-80s, it served as our TV stand.   Here is my younger son, with wild bed hair waiting to open Christmas presents.  The pillow in front of the trunk was a crewel embroidery kit I stitched .

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In Germany, from 87-92, it served as my plant stand. You can see it behind my oldest daughter’s German Barbie dollhouse, which I purchased right before Christmas.  My Pop, who had come to Germany to spend Christmas with us, and my husband spent most of the night before Christmas, assembling that dollhouse, which had very poor instructions… in German.

Here are my other three kids, holding little stuffed animals,  mugging for this lame photo, LOL:

And now that steamer trunk sits in the garage still serving a purpose as my storage container for a lot of old papers and miscellaneous memorabilia.  Today I was working on something and I actually needed some old photos of friends from 1/41 FA (Pershing) and once again this old steamer trunk came to my rescue.

I also found this cross-stitch quote that my husband wanted me to stitch and frame for his office when he was the 1s BDE Operations SGM in the late 90s:

All in all, today was quite a trip down memory lane for me.  Unlike this Turkish mess kit, which my youngest sister, found in Turkey and gave to my husband as a unique Christmas gift, sometimes it takes quite a few pieces of paper and photos to build a unique trail to the truth::

Still have many more miles to go before I am satisfied with my early Spring housecleaning.  Here’s my motto :

This was Walmart Halloween clearance and I have this hanging on the hutch in my kitchen, right behind where I sit at the table, LOL.

I finished the day marveling how that cheap steamer trunk has paid for itself many times over since 1980…

My Army ride has assuredly led me on some truly amazing adventures!

Peace out:-)

.

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Filed under American Character, General Interest, Messages of mhere, Worthwhile Quotations

America is more than Trump & Media Tweetstorms

Senator Ben Sasse posted this inspiring video on social media today.  It’s a much-needed blast of American spirit, to cleanse the air of the latest Twitter SPIN battle.

While the American media and President Trump fall into another SPIN “shithole”, today’s blog post is not going to be about politics.  Some Democrats, after a meeting with Trump, decided to attempt another #Resist Trump takedown spin effort.  The mainstream liberal media went into full hysteria mode last night… again… about “Trump is a racist”.

I had been working on a junk journal last night and didn’t look at Twitter until close to midnight.  It took me about 30 seconds of scrolling through journalists’ tweets to assess a full-blown #Resist SPIN attack underway.  By this morning, a great deal of the liberal Twitter shitstorm over “shitholes” was so over-the-top, that it’s clear they may, once again, end up bolstering Trump rather than taking him down.

Many of the #Resisters, who pretend to be objective journalists, sound  like hysterical lunatics.

The altered book junk journal I am working on is for my youngest daughter.  I found this lovely scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago, when they had this brand of paper on sale for 50% off.  The background is actually a skirt my youngest daughter sewed in her early teens.  She loved this dark navy fabric with the lobster print, even though I was trying to steer her toward pretty pastel colored fabric.  We found an easy skirt pattern and she sewed several pretty floral print skirts and this lobster print skirt, needing very little assistance, once she did a little bit of practice sewing on scrap fabric to get the hang of machine sewing.  I came across this skirt in the spare bedroom closet recently and my mind flew to thinking it would be great to repurpose it as a junk journal cover and possibly use more of it to make a tote bag for her too.

The picture above is one of my favorite childhood books, that I came across looking through old books for junk journaling.  It’s pretty beat-up and has pen scribbles on it, that I know I didn’t put there.  I know this, because I wrote my name inside the front cover of my books and did not scribble or write in them.  When I got to college and first observed the habit of using highlighter markers in your textbooks, well, I was appalled that people would deface their books like that.  I never got into the habit of “highlighting” or writing in my books and I tried to take good care of my books.   And of course, bending down page corners to mark your place in a book should be punishable with a good smack upside the head.

Book collecting (hoarding) is a lifelong habit, that I will never quit, although I’ve tried to read more kindle books and buy less actual books in recent years.  Sadly, my same book hoarding habits easily transferred to digital hoarding too.  My bookmarks always are out of control, same with the other crap I download and my Pinterest has over 200 boards and over 12,000 pins…   I have pinned way more recipes and craft projects than I can ever use, but I still keep pinning more.

Anyone else have this  “hoarding” problem with digital information?

One of my happiest memories of my early years of school was receiving my Scholastic Book Club flyer from my teacher, pouring over every book listing, then compiling my “wish list”.  Usually my list contained almost every book in the flyer.  My mother would give me money for books and then I had to sit there and decide which books I wanted the most, to fit my small book allowance.  I bought Codes & Secret Writing when I was around 10 years old and it fueled my interest in cryptography. Learning about its use in warfare led to my interest in military strategy.  I also liked reading mystery genre stories, as a kid, which often involved strange happenings or odd people rather than the more common adult crime detective mysteries.

Truth be told, I was never very good at codes and ciphers and I found military strategy much more my cup of tea.

Another of my favorite childhood book genres was biographies of great or famous people.  I still like reading about important people in history, but I prefer a narrower selection now, opting to read biographies about people whose lives and/or ideas impacted history in some profound way.   I also moved toward trying to read the person’s own writings and letters whenever possible, rather than relying on a biographer or historian’s assessment.  This habit grew out of observing that too often historians seem to work from having already decided on the character of the historical figure they are writing about and using their research to cherry pick historical documentation to bolster their preconceived character assessment.

In comments on my last blog post, JK provided links to several very interesting John Batchelor interviews with historians, H.W. Brands, Ron Chernow and Robert L.O’Connell on two fascinating and controversial historical figures, Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman.   It’s interesting that two of the most important generals in the Union winning the U.S. Civil War ended up with their characters frequently extremely maligned, yet Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate forces, trying to tear the United States apart, has consistently been recast as a saintly man of conviction and the “better” general, even though he lost…

I honestly believe that at the core of the perceptions of Grant and Lee lies a class bias, where Lee obviously had the pedigree of a Southern aristocrat and Grant came from a hardscrabble working class background.  It’s much easier to place Lee, with his impeccable personal appearance and stately bearing, as a majestic war hero on a statue than it is Grant, with his rumpled clothes and lack of a commanding presence.

On a day when America’s politicos continue to furiously tweet on about Trump’s shithole comment, it’s important to remember that America’s greatness lies in our commitment to the belief in the power of freedom to transform the lives of individuals.   It’s not where you came from, the color of your skin, your religion, or sex; it’s about believing that in America you are free, to borrow Emerson’s line, “Hitch your wagon to a star.”

Here’s a 2016 Marco Rubio quote that I came across in an Ian Tuttle piece at National Review, which sums up America eloquently:

“We are a hopeful people, and we have every right to be hopeful. For we in this nation are the descendants of go-getters. In our veins runs the blood of people who gave it all up so we would have the chances they never did. We are all the descendants of someone who made our future the purpose of their lives. We are the descendants of pilgrims. We are the descendants of settlers. We are the descendants of men and women that headed westward in the Great Plains not knowing what awaited them. We are the descendants of slaves who overcame that horrible institution to stake their claim in the American Dream. We are the descendants of immigrants and exiles who knew and believed that they were destined for more, and that there was only one place on earth where that was possible.”

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/432928/americas-pioneer-spirit-dead-gone

I wish Trump and his enemies waging these Tweetstorm battles would call a truce to this destructive information war, but each side believes they’re “saving” America, even though their SPIN battles deepen the partisan divides in America, incite rage, and fray the bonds of civil society.  You don’t need to understand any secret codes or ciphers to see how damaging SPIN is to America, all you need to do is listen to the Trump vs. the Media news a few minutes a day.

It’s depressing to think that this is what the world believes America is all about…

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Filed under American Character, General Interest, Information War, Inspirations, Politics