Wednesday, October 4, 2017
The Wild West Showdown with J.C. Hulsey: Episode 99 05/03 by Wild West Showdown with J-C- Hulsey | Entertainment Podcasts
The Wild West Showdown with J.C. Hulsey: Episode 99 05/03 by Wild West Showdown with J-C- Hulsey | Entertainment Podcasts: J.C. Hulsey has lived in Midlothian, Texas over thirty years. He's a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He has been married for 57 years. He enjoys Western movies and TV Shows, (especially the older ones) and reading about Mail-Order Brides. He is also the owner of six cats (all stray cats, showed up on the back porch) and one dog (rescue dog) He worked for 33 years at Bell Helicopter. He served in the USAF for five years, and the Air National Guard for four years. He started writing songs in his early twenties. He recorded a couple of songs in the late 1960s. He started writing poetry in the 1970s to share with others. He self-published them on Amazon in 2013. He still felt the need to write something different. He tried writing a book in the 1970s, but it was never finished. In 2014, he felt the urge to write a Western novel. However, he needed something different than what was on the market. What about a young Christian Gunfighter? That book turned into a series of seven books that won First Place for Best Westen Series in 2015 from Texas Association of Authors. His is also the founder and chairman of Outlaws Publishing LLC. Music by Jason Castro, Donna Ray & Kevin Collins Chad Prather's Thought For The Day Special Guest Author Charles Ray
Friday, September 22, 2017
Link to preview of 'Vietnam in Washington' panel show on WETA-TV. Aired September 22, 2017 at 8:30 pm. http://watch.weta.org/video/3004836857/
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I have been a frequent rider on Washington’s Metrorail since moving to this area in July 1982, when I retired from the army and joined the Foreign Service. Having lived in a number of countries before and after 1982, I am a firm supporter of efficient mass transit in urban areas, and until recent problems began plaguing Metrorail, particularly the Red Line, which is my main method of transportation around the metro area, viewed DC’s system as one of the world’s finest. I’ve been a passenger on the rail systems in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, and Seoul, and viewed our system as one of the most orderly and efficient.
Until recent arguments among the jurisdictions over funding, increasingly frequent breakdowns on the Red Line, and a degradation of order and cleanliness throughout the system, I would never have believed that our system would be in trouble. Alas, it seems to lurch from problem to problem, with no end in sight.
Unlike other urban mass transit systems, Washington’s Metrorail doesn’t have a dedicated budget, but must rely instead on contributions from the three political entities it services, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. In dire need for funds to upgrade in order to merely maintain a modest level of efficiency, the political hassles among the jurisdictions threaten even the now somewhat-degraded service.
I continue to support the system, though, because it is necessary. No urban area can thrive without efficient, affordable mass transit. It makes sense, in terms of helping the economy and protecting the environment. There is, however, another reason it should be strongly supported, and not just by the local political jurisdictions, but the national government as well, and one that has not, to date, been a part of the public discussion.
As a diplomat for over thirty years, I’ve observed the negative effects of the divides between social, political, ethnic, and economic classes in places around the world, both in developed and developing countries. While ethnic differences will always be with us, and economic disparities can only be partially mitigated, the factor that aggravates them is the communication divide that exists within societies. When people of these different demographics get few opportunities to know each other, their views are shaped by impressions and propaganda. When they are put in situations where they actually get to ‘know’ each other, those impressions often change—sometimes for the better.
That is what I’ve seen on Metrorail. When I first came to Washington, DC in the late 1960s, and Metrobus was the only form of mass transit, interactions between and among the area’s various social and economic classes were limited and fleeting. A laborer from Silver Spring seldom had extended contact with a stock broker residing in an affluent Potomac neighborhood, and that stock broker had probably never seen where the man doing his lawn lived. Metrorail went a long way toward changing that.
Before I retired in 2012, in particular during two assignments in Washington—two years working in Rosslyn with the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls and three years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, with an office in Crystal City, I was a daily commuter on Metro’s Red, Orange, Blue, and Yellow Lines. Not only did I have the opportunity to sit cheek by jowl with residents from neighborhoods from all over the area, but saw many of those areas during the surface portion of my commute. I heard dozens of languages spoken, often had conversations with bored fellow riders who, after a few minutes vented about jobs or family problems, and observed the dress and mannerisms of a broad swath of the population. Five years of people watching gave me a better sense of the area than did thirty-five years of reading and watching the local news reports. It also helped me develop a more inclusive sense of community, and contributed to my decision to stay in the area after retirement. I see myself as a citizen of a diverse community, where all the different flavors, like the new M&M multi-colored candies, add up to a most satisfying whole.
So, for all these reasons, I entreat the powers that be to take a broader, more inclusive view of mass transit in this area. In addition to helping people move about better for economic reasons, and protecting the environment, maintain the system in order to continue building the Washington area’s sense of community. In a time when partisan divides threaten our unity more than ever, we need something to pull us together. A one-hour political speech won’t get the job done, but a one-hour commute can get it started.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Friday, September 8, 2017
Monday, September 4, 2017
Friday, September 1, 2017
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Friday, August 18, 2017
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Friday, August 11, 2017
Watching the national and international news, where the war of words unfolding between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is like watching two bullies vie for dominance over the playground, I’m torn between laughing and crying. Laughing because these two child-men, with their over-sized egos and disregard for common courtesy, would under other circumstances be jokes, fodder for late-night comedy shows, and crying, because their playground in this case is nothing less than the world.
Since assuming leadership after the death of his father, Kim has been one of the more provocative leaders of North Korea, a country that has made a specialty of bad behavior and bellicosity since the end of the Korean War. Trump, on the other hand, a reality TV personality, with his own out-sized ego and lack of introspection, has, since his surprise win in the 2016 election, added bellicosity to the American political and diplomatic playbook.
The problem is that neither man understands the other. Kim lives in a hermetically-sealed environment where everything is filtered through the lens of the Western threat to the feudal country, and a cultural need to save face at all costs. Trump, on the other hand, lives in self-imposed ignorance, eschewing reading or reflection, and defaulting to his bullying style to get his way, a hallmark of the way he has traditionally conducted his business affairs. While I can’t say it with any assurance about Kim, my guess is, like Trump, he pays little attention to advice from underlings unless it fits his preconceived opinion, and like a child whose tantrums have elicited a response from beleaguered parents, believes that his way of doing things works.
Kim doesn’t understand how the U.S. system works, and like many foreigners, takes what our politicians say publicly at face value. Trump doesn’t have a clue about Korean culture or psychology—or anyone else’s for that matter. Kim threatens because threats have worked in the past. It has gotten food aid from the South and the international community, and he has been allowed to continue developing North Korea’s nuclear capability—a capability that I’m convinced he thinks the country needs in order to survive. Trump bullies because he is, not to sugar coat it, a bully. He bullied in business, he bullied in the campaign, and it has worked for him, so he continues to bully from the White House. He bullies everyone; his friends as well as his adversaries; so, he believes that the way to handle Kim is to just be a bigger bully. What else explains his statement that his ‘fire and fury’ statement was probably ‘not strong enough.’
The U.S. president doesn’t seem to have a clue about how international relations work, and he seems incapable of filtering his speech. Thus, instead of letting his ‘fire and fury’ statement stand for itself, and moving on to other things, he doubles down. His attitude seems to be, if Kim threatens, I’ll threaten ten times worse, unaware that he’s dealing with a man from a culture that believes in the saying, ‘better to burn down the house than to let one bed bug escape.’
Let’s be clear here; something that Mr. Trump seems incapable of; this is not just about North Korea and its nuclear blackmail. It’s about the existence of the Korean Peninsula. With thousands of long-range artillery pieces aimed south, Kim would be able to kill hundreds of thousands and do untold damage even if the U.S. launched a pre-emptive strike against his nuclear sites—provided we even know where they all are. And, of course, the Chinese have said that if the U.S. strikes first, they will support their North Korean ally. If North Korea strikes first, they will remain neutral. I don’t really believe that, but it’s nonetheless chilling that they would go so far as to say they would side with North Korea if we attack first. Kind of changes the dynamics a bit.
But, I don’t think Trump paid much attention to that. He’s like a lot of politicians who have no military experience or knowledge, but who are fascinated by all things military. He seems to believe that having the strongest military on the planet is all a country needs to impose its will on others. After a stalemate in the Korean War and a loss in Vietnam, many, even in the military, know better. That strong military needs to be backed up with strong diplomacy, which Trump seems to disdain, and strong alliances, which he seems determined to undermine.
Knowing the two personalities involved, I don’t see the war of words deescalating any time soon. One can only hope that wiser heads on both sides of the Pacific will eventually prevail, and both men will find something else to occupy their narrow minds and short attention spans.
In the meantime, those of us on the sidelines can only watch and wait.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Monday, July 31, 2017
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Friday, June 9, 2017
Thursday, June 8, 2017
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Here's an example of what I'll have available:
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
When I served as the American ambassador to Zimbabwe (2009-2012) I had a conversation with a southern African politician that intrigued me. He said that when African politicians spoke publicly, it was a good idea to know who they were really addressing, because they only spoke to their intended audience, and anyone else who happened to overhear should shut their ears.
Watching and reading the news lately about the shenanigans of the 45th President of the United States, this conversation came to mind. Just at the time Donald Trump’s considering petitioning the Supreme Court to reinstate his ban on visas to people from five predominantly Muslim countries, he’s been busy on Twitter and giving interviews that expose the true reason behind that ban—just such conduct that caused two federal judges to put a hold on his original attempt, on the grounds that his public utterances gave a different interpretation to the motives behind his executive orders—motives that were at odds with what the DOJ attorneys were telling the courts.
Again, he demonstrates his tone-deafness, or his inability to understand that words and actions have consequences.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Saturday, May 6, 2017
With intellectuals and experts currently under siege from some rather high places, and a coterie of national leaders who appear to disdain contemplative thinking and even reading, it’s easy to think that the disease of anti-intellectualism is beginning to infect the world; but especially the United States. While it’s certainly true that there is a strain of anti-intellectualism and anti-elitism (in this case, elite in a positive sense) prevalent in many parts of the western world, it would be wrong to think that this is something new.
The Trump Administration didn’t invent this phenomenon, but it has regrettably taken full advantage of it, showing a negative attitude toward science, art and humanity in general, and a general tendency to value entertainment, a casual attitude toward truth and facts, and a glorious self-righteousness. Negative attitudes toward intellectualism, however, are a deeply-ingrained, long-held fact of American life that predates the founding of the country.
In the 17th century, the Puritan, John Cotton, wrote, ‘The more learned and witty you bee, the more fit to act for Satan you will bee.’ Despite the fact that Puritans established America’s first institutions of higher education, among many, especially the rural and working classes, there was a general disdain for secular education. According to the economist, Thomas Sowell, the early colonial people of America were wary of the educated upper classes who had been their persecutors in Europe. There were intellectuals among the early settlers, but very few, as few had the skills to survive in the harsh environment of the American frontier. The early whites who came to America were first mostly indentured servants, and later, peasant and workers fleeing economic, religious, or political deprivation in caste-bound Europe.
By the 19th century, when most of the country was rural or worked at hard labor in the few urban settlements, bookish education was seen by many as unimportant and unprofitable. Nor was there much high regard for so-called experts. Woodrow Wilson, when he was governor of New Jersey in 1912, said, “What I fear is a government of experts.’ The common interpretation of the freedom and equality enshrined in the Constitution (for white males property owners, but not for women, blacks, Native Americans, or certain undesirable non-northern Europeans) was a core belief that everyone was equal, regardless of their lack of knowledge.
The author, Isaac Asimov, summed it up succinctly. “There is a culture of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
At the risk of offending some of my religious friends (and, I do have a few), religion has played a role in embedding this disdain for knowledge in the American psyche. In the late 19th century, the evangelical preacher, Dwight Moody, said, “I do not read any book, unless it will help me understand the book. I would rather have zeal without knowledge; and there is a good deal of knowledge without zeal.” His successor, the fiery preacher Billy Sunday, said, “If I had a million dollars, I’d give $999,999 to the church and $1 to education. When the word of God says one thing and scholarship says another, scholarship can go to hell!”
This philosophy is seen in the parsimonious funding of public education in this country. Our public school teachers are among the poorest compensated of professionals, in comparison to other developed nations, and that seems to be rearing its ugly head again with the current administration’s attitude toward public education. It’s also seen in the fact that most of our colleges focus not on educating students, but training them to get jobs.
What this attitude has led to, for anyone willing to think about it, is truly frightening. We like to think of ourselves as a great nation, the most powerful on the planet. True, as far as the ability to project military power and destruction, but what about building things? A World Economic Forum report in 2010 ranked the USD 52 out of 139 nations in the quality of college math and science education. Half of our graduate students in the sciences are foreigners who go home after getting their degrees. A 2012 Gallup poll indicated that 40 percent of Americans under 44 have not read a book at all since leaving school, and 42 percent of Americans thought God created us in our present form 10,000 years ago. This same poll found that just over half of the people surveyed read anything for pleasure. A 2008 University of Texas study showed that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth at the same time.
As if these statistics are not frightening enough, a Gallup poll some years ago found that 74 percent of Republicans in the Senate and 53 percent in the House deny the validity of climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.
With some religious and political figures mired in such a swamp of ignorance, and the lack of a credible counterweight in the education system, it’s no wonder that we’re in the state we’re in. We live in a time when social media and communications technology, products of the intellect of some pretty smart people, have become the engines that have helped accelerate the decline of intellect across the land. People no longer have to think. They can just ‘google’ it, and with the judicious use of the proper search terms, they don’t have to subject their un-inquiring minds to any ‘facts’ with they disagree.
I am not ashamed to identify myself as an intellectual, as someone who is not content to merely ‘do’ things, but also to ‘understand’ how and why things are done. I’ve endured being called a nerd and geek for most of my life, and will wear those labels proudly to my final resting place. But, being a thinking person, I can’t help but despair. Experts are being ignored and pushed to the far margins of the policy making process in favor of ‘politically and ideologically reliable’ incompetents, who act often without thinking through the consequences of their actions. Thankfully, the checks and balances built into the system by the Founding Fathers are still in place to stem some of the more egregious errors. But, like the dripping water that eventually erodes the rock away to create a chasm, if we don’t divert the stream of ignorance that is now more a torrent than a drip, even those foundations are in danger of being washed away.
Instead of the slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ we should perhaps try to ‘Keep America Great.’
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Friday, April 28, 2017
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump hit immigration issues hard, much to the delight of his Rust Belt supporters. Since his inauguration, he and his attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, have endeavored—not too successfully—to fulfill his campaign promises. In their efforts to appeal to the nativism and economic angst of denizens of America’s Rust Belt, they have repeatedly stressed the three main points of his campaign:
- A ban on granting entry to the U.S. of people from certain predominantly Muslim countries.
- Building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to stop the flow of people from south of the border.
- Punishing U.S. cities who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement; the so-called Sanctuary Cities.
So far, the administration’s efforts have met with a resounding lack of success. Federal judges shut down two attempts to impose a Muslim ban, and a federal judge in San Francisco has temporarily halted DOJs attempt to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. Noise continues to be made about building the wall, but Mexico has been adamant in its refusal to pay, and it’s unlikely that the congress will come up with the massive amount that would be needed to build the bloody monstrosity.
If Trump and Sessions were more aware of history, in particularly, America’s fixation on anti-immigration, they might have taken a saner approach to this whole issue.
The history of opposition to immigrants in America is older than the nation itself. Before independence, for example, Benjamin Franklin railed against the increase in the number of Germans arriving in the colonies, fearing that they would not assimilate, and would overwhelm the ‘English’ community.
Starting in the late 1790s there was vociferous opposition to political refugees from France and people from Ireland fleeing the potato famine, mainly on the basis of their Catholic faith, which led to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which sought to stem that flow, and Catholics in America were banned from holding public office.
In the 20th century, anti-immigrant sentiment took on a racial tone in response to the number of Asians arriving in America and competing with native born for jobs, particularly in the western states. The federal government, wanting to avoid alienating Asian countries with whom we had diplomatic relations, held out against this sentiment for a long time, but finally caved to domestic pressure, leading to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1902, which stopped all immigration from China, and the Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan in 1907, which limited immigration from that country. The Chinese Exclusion Act was not repealed until 1943, as a gesture of goodwill to our Chinese ally in World War II, but the full limitations of the act weren’t abolished until 1965.
Despite being thought of as a nation of immigrants, American nativists began pushing for exclusion of people not from northern Europe in the late 1800s, and labor unions opposed many immigrants on economic, moral, cultural, and racial reasons. Publicly, the unions stated that this influx of ‘undesirables’ would flood the labor market and lower wages.
The sentiment against Mexican immigrants, legal and illegal, which saw an upsurge in the 1990s, and a giant uptick with the rise of the Tea Party movement after 2014, is not a recent phenomenon. Anti-Mexican movements began in the early 1920s, often involving the mass deportation of Mexicans.
These past anti-immigration activities and sentiments have created foreign relations problems for the U.S., often at critical times when we’ve needed the cooperation of other countries.
More recent anti-immigration sentiment, though, has had more direct consequences. In Georgia, for example, when the state legislature passed a draconian anti-immigration law in 2011, thousands of agricultural workers fled the state for more hospitable locations, resulting in an over $300 million loss in the state’s melon crop, and a potential total economic loss of $1 billion. There have been similar losses in other states that have dipped their oars in the immigration enforcement waters.
Another important aspect of the new administration’s push for local and state governments to participate in enforcement of immigration laws (civil rather than criminal, which they have a responsibility to do) is that these police forces are ill-equipped for such work. In addition to a lack of training in the complex civil laws relating to immigration, they lack the manpower to take on immigration enforcement and still protect their communities. Further, when local police begin to involve themselves in identifying, detaining and deporting foreigners, it complicates their ability to gain the trust of the very communities they need in order to perform their principal mission.
One can’t help but wonder if the president and attorney-general have given any thought to the complexity of what they’re insisting that states and cities do. Or, do they even care?
The nation’s reputation, at home and abroad, has suffered because of past actions that were counter to our professed credo. Are they setting us up for another round of the same?