Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Homeless -- "What would you do?"

I recently posted to Facebook an editorial from the L.A. Times about that city's (and others roundabout) severe and still growing problem with "the homeless." The troubled people, their needs, the terribly destructive affect such are bringing to the city's quality of life.  Yes, and the sometimes serious health crises their rapidly increasing presence has brought in its wake.

A long-time friend who is a resident in a community some miles from L.A. shared a caring and thoughtful response. He spoke of  his "mixed feelings about the group of homeless who roam around the park not more than a mile from my home" who "while relatively peaceful ...litter the grounds with all kinds of refuse." Of how "the recreational area where my children played are empty when the homeless sleep on the benches nearby and drive the families away" and how such have taken up residence, too, in the local library. About how "the staff is politely accommodating (as required by law) but must citizens put up with the common areas being used as a toilet?"

He spoke of his own concerns and actvity trying to find even a workable short term solution, and that while recognizing that "what is ultimately going to work to erase homelessness is anybody’s guess."

His thoughtful, deeply felt, and much appreciated comment ended with a question: " would you handle a sudden influx of the homeless into P________?"

Here, posted for my regular blog readers, was my response...


K___, your's was a thoughtful answer -- deserving of more than a reply -- worthy of thought. And one that lead me to both think -- and to realize how ludicrous it was for me to do so while in my warm and comfortable home, surrounded by love and beauty, while making blueberry pancakes -- a long-time Sunday ritual -- to bring into my always smiling wife who is snugly wrapped in a blanket.

Where to even start? (and how it keep it appropriate-to-the-venue short?)

First off I realized that no frank answer would make for a good Hallmark Channel presentation. 

I started yet smaller... What if some down-on-their-luck people started an encampment somewhere on my property? Would I allow that?


I do keep it open for hikers, hunters, bird watchers, picnickers, and have had youths build blinds and small encampments -- a campfire and so forth. Such were welcome. But to take up residence? No.

Part of that is because such grows. One family becomes two then twelve. Appreciation becomes a right. And the law, generally, is so open to "interpretation" that I could not count on it if such became my only recourse.

But then what would I do? 

First find if they were locals. Then, if yes, see if the local family services could help. The goal even there would be for them to fairly quickly vacate.

But why the question of whether they were locals? The answer to me is in nature -- man's nature. Individual, family, tribe. I can care about the abstractions of "fairness" and "justice." But cannot care for the world. Big things for short periods. Small things for long periods. 

Okay, what about in a public park?

Basically the same. The town's shared spaces are just that -- the towns people's shared community spaces. The bigger "family." ("Tribe?)

No, out they must go. Not preferably cruelly, but go they must.

But where? 

The best answer is the old one: "Across the tracks."

That was what American society -- one built on personal liberty and responsibility -- came up with. For those who by choice, genetics, chance -- whatever -- had a non community-values way of living. They were free to do so -- "across the tracks."

Thus there was "the Bowery." Thus there was the "combat zone." Bars, shooting galleries, hookers, families with no responsible heads -- all of that.

Nope -- nothing "Hallmark" about it.

Does such "work"? Not in an idealized way. But better than anything else. For one it is self-contained.For another, self limiting. And nothing else that I have seen is.

"If you build it they will come."

Yup. Public housing. Free this and that. 

Free universities too I guess. But make them open to all, and not admission-standards based -- and well, we see where that took us. To just what your local library has become. And public rest rooms. And parks.

Now your local situation is not the same. The barn door was left open. The cows are wherever. The careful farmer no longer holds sway. 

How to clean up that mess "neatly" I have no idea. Today even what used to be called "slum clearance" is seen as something else. The once honored "smart" and "industrious" are today seen as the thieves. Of places. Of other's cultures. 

Nope. Do what you can. Be kind as you can. Genuinely -- not as mere manners. But kindness includes protecting what is good. What brings others here. They want it too! 

Fair enough. You want it? Here is how you get it... (and it is not what you wish to hear).

Is that an answer?


Is it?


Monday, February 19, 2018

Gun Grabbing - A Modest Proposal

Over at Powerline Blog, John Hinderaker, borrowing heavily from earlier writings of Charles C.W. Cooke, focuses sharply on the desire of the left to end the 2nd Amendment. "Talk is cheap" he tells us -- let them actually act.  The article then goes to show why such is nearly impossible. Neither American law nor the American people would likely tolerate such a thing.

I think that both Hinderaker and Cooke are right about that. But still, as in good medicine, might not a trial be allowed to test the hypothesis? A "test case" as it were. One that in a small way, avoiding many of the larger problems outlined in the two articles, allows us -- politicians, their media voices, and most importantly the American people -- to see how much "cure" there is in the gun grabbing idea -- and what issues, expected and otherwise, might need to be balanced against any demonstrated efficacy.  In that spirit I here put forth a modest proposal:  That guns already illegal -- many of which are even now doing observable harm -- be "grabbed."  Legally under present law, or such small modifications of which might pass at least local muster.

Let the police -- no, charge them! -- to remove all the illegal guns in the city of Chicago.  Now.  Starting today.  Or as soon as the needed organization and momentum for it it can be built.

"If just one child's life can be saved it will be worth it."  -So we are often told when it comes to a nation-wide gun grab.  Well certainly such will prove to be the case in Chicago. Indeed it'd likely be far more than one each and every weekend. And many more over some holidays.

Now we are not suggesting that all guns be "grabbed." Such would be unconstitutional. Just the ones that are currently possessed illegally under laws that have already seen at least local "testing" in the courts.

Let the authorities request such all be turned in. Then, as would be needed if the experiment should proceed to a larger field (be it the entire nation or a given "test" state), the police would take whatever action is legal to gather any that might remain.

The beauty of this test case is that its efficacy would quickly be apparent. And make great headlines to boot.  "Seventh Weekend In a Row Without a Single Shooting in the City!"  Who wouldn't like to see such a thing?  What politician wouldn't like to run taking claim for it?

Oh yes, there might be some problems.  Perhaps a few illegal gun owners might not willingly comply. Perhaps searches would be neccasary -- legal ones of course, authorized by courts based on evidence that an illegal gun is owned. Some might even resist. (And they'd somehow need to be dealt with. Without shedding any blood of course.)

Well what is that in comparison with what would be needed to grab all of the guns nation wide?  And where are we more likely to see the will to get guns off the street than in perpetually violent, left-leaning, Chicago?

If it works. -If all those unlawful weapons are no longer possessed by wrong doers -- If the streets have in truth been made safe -- then our leaders can bring that fact to the American people and let us, having seen the good, decide.

The argument could be well made about how safe we'd then be -- our children in school for instance -- if only the local police are alerted to a home where violence had taken place.  (Such would stop for sure!), or, failing that, if the FBI was alerted to a possible danger. ("'So-and so' has a gun and plans to do harm." -With the FBI alerted certainly we would feel and actually be "safe." Or local school and community authorities could be made aware and local social services, now involved, could assure us that 'so and so' has been interviewed and is assuredly "of no danger to themselves or others."

Yes, then We the People" -- the true rulers of our land -- could decide about the relative safety afforded my each and all of these methods. And having decided, based on tested facts, we could either keep our constitution as written, or legally modify it.

A slightly modified version of this piece
was published by American Thinker 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Looking Back at 2017 (and Ahead to Our Shared Future)

Is 2017 really becoming the past?  So soon?  So quickly?

It's an old custom to look back as each year passes.  -To ask one's self and one's friends "what kind of a year has it been?"

I'm pleased to report that for me 2017 was wonderful -- and that in so many ways!

The end of 2016 was for me and mine full of questions.  My wife Jan's health issues had forced a change. What would such portend?  Even our ability to stay in our beloved home, on our beloved property in the larger community that so suited us, was in question.

2017 saw happy "conclusions" to each of these questions and unknowns.

Jan's health has remarkably returned. Our home has become our home to an even greater extent -- with more of "us" in it. (And the part that the kindness of dear friends has played in this makes it all the more heart warming and wonderful.)

Jan and I both being in retirement has emphasized once again how much we love one another --and enjoy one-another's presence.  More joy. More smiles. More and more evidences of caring and, yes, "love."  What a meaningful word that is! Especially when applied to a home and a marriage.

And the world has turned too. For the better. For the much, much, better.


I am not in any formal sense a "religious" person. But how can I deny -- or not be warmed and encouraged -- by the obvious signs of kind providence our world and (especially) our nation has seen over the course of this past year?

An old Christian text says that "the wise have been shamed by the foolish things."  How true that has proven to be!  .

Or maybe it's just that our society's idea of what (and who) is "wise" and who or what is truly "foolish" has gotten a needed "update"? In any case it makes me smile. And laugh. Yes, and feel hopeful for humanity's shared future.

Put simply: Things are looking up again.  (And how many years has it been since it genuinely felt that way?)

So now, today,  2018's own hope is calling out like a distant voice -- to be heard only if one listens and concentrates.  "Look here! Watch what I do! Be prepared to me amazed!"

And I do watch.. With joy in my heart and love for life's endlessly wonderful possibilities. 

Happy New Year all!

Wishing you joy, and prosperity, and health and abundant peace.


Friday, October 20, 2017

"All Is Right With the World"

I'm smiling!

Yeah, I am. (No Facebook "selfie" though. My smile is too real for that.)

But *why* am I smiling?

Robert Browning sort'a captured it in his poem "Pippa's Song"...

"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!"

Well, in truth all is not right. Of course not. (Browning, of course, knew that too) But so much is!

Here are just a few of those things. The things that are making me smile.

This may be the most beautiful Autumn I have ever experienced. Two "peaks" of color. (The 2nd going on now!)  Clear and cool mornings, followed by sunny 'warm kisses' afternoons.

Jan is home with me.

What's the biggie in that? Simple: She is my best friend. My dear one. My love. My truthful companion. The light of my life. -And for the almost fifty years she and I have been "together" most of our days were spent largely apart. Working and/or whatever.

Now we are home together. Not linked by any rough-hewn knot. Not 'Siamese twins' to use an old, outdated, phrase. No, not at all. But together. On our own terms. In our own beloved home. And that all day long.

The world is getting "right" too. The world outside.

Have you noticed that?

No, you'd not think so by what the media is every day telling us. But it is.

Okay, not *their* world. No. Because their world is broken beyond fixes. They have lost control. (They and those they serve) and that's what they're so god-awful pissed about.

But yet it is.

Even the flashes of ugliness -- the anger (largely created and canned for public consumption) -- shows this.

Look at the numbers. The "stats." Things are starting to go right. Not for "them." But for us. The regular people.

Look at the faces of almost anyone who is seeing and thinking for themselves, and not repeating the mantra from above. They, too, like me, are smiling.

The "threats" -- those big, ugly, threats that are supposed to make us cower -- they are largely phony.

And what's more, more and more people are seeing that. And in the people's eyes the little laugh lines reveal that even when and where its still unpolitic to say it. Look and see!

Isn't all that WONDERFUL?

So yes. I'm smiling. A big, BIG, smile.

I hope you are too.

(And if not, please think about all the above.)

* * * * *

Saturday, September 2, 2017

It's All in the Jeans

That our nation has become more divided in the last dozen or so years has been obvious to most of us. Painfully so.  What is the reason? Where is the dividing line? What can we do to pull it together?

The last weeks have been revealing. Answers to all those questions are becoming clear.

Bottom line, the fault line is culture.  American culture.

The 'coasties,' as some of us have come to call the NY/LA/Boston/DC crowd, simply do not like America.  At least not the America that the non-'coasties' know and love.

This is not a matter of "brains" or education (although some proudly claim it is while crying out "hurray for our side.")  No, there are "brains" and education on both sides of the divide.  It is a matter of in what people trust. What holds a person's faith.

"You can judge a tree by the fruit it bears." -So said a very wise man a couple of thousand years ago. And those words are proving to be a great guide today. They point us in the right direction.  At people's works.  Not what they say, but what they do.

The calamity caused by Hurricane Harvey has not only enabled us, but forced us, to see with our own eyes. Who is doing what? And to compare what our eyes see with words that have be for too long smugly spoken. Words about "values". Words about culture. Words about where goodness and truth actually lie.

Not just theoretical or philosophical goodness. -Words about such that look good in print or sound good when spoken over the airwaves or even in a college classroom lecture.

No. Real actions. Real works.

With our eyes open we are seeing just who actually does, and who merely talks. What people actually accomplish in comparison to what people claim.

Some actions are seen to be life affirming -- life saving even.  People being saved, not from figuratively drowning in words but from literally drowning in deep water.

And if we are willing to think about it seeing such tells us what we need to do. Whom we need to support.

America is the land of blues jeans. -Clothing originally designed to be worn not as a fashion statement, but as a tough outer layer that holds up while its wearer does tough work. Made of heavy fabric that has been riveted at its stress points.

Just look at the jeans people choose to wear.  That's all it'll take. Who wore out the knee? How heavy is its denim and how did it become faded?

Take sides based on that and you will be on safe grounds. As will our nation.

Yes, it's all in the jeans.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

That America We Knew and Loved? It's Still Here

It's kind of sad how many people find themselves asking "where did the America I knew and loved go to?"    And the reason so many are asking that is because what is put before our eyes every day: A nation without any but the most superficial values. -An America supposedly full of selfishness and small thinking. Of cheap laughter and an even cheaper culture. Of broken families and broken lives. And especially (it seems to me) a lack of real leadership. There is no one (we are repeatedly told) that we can trust.

But here is what I have realized -- I, and I know, many, many others -- some who realized this far more quickly than I did -- that the America we loved still exists.  Not just here and there -- mere smatterings -- holdouts -- but virtually everywhere.

People with values. People with depth. People that are quietly going about their lives in a way that reveals that the 'old' America is far from dead.  It is living. It is breathing. It is being passed along.

The reason we may not quickly or easily see this is because we have been taught to not look with our own eyes, but through the eyes of others.  The coastal media. The big mouths on TV and, yes, on the Internet.

And such people -- this is worth noting! -- rarely even pretend to be looking at the nation about us. Instead they spend their days quoting one-another.

If you listen to "news" or read opinion pages take note of this: How much time and space is being used by the same few people quoting and arguing with each other. As if their voices, and only their voices, mattered.

That is why some who actually think and speak for themselves talk and write about there being an "echo chamber."  It's almost like there is just one voice speaking. On and on and on. Endlessly. "He said he said that he said..."

Then take note how different the country they see is from the one that you and I see with our own eyes. Not just occasionally, but each and every day.

If you'll allow the semi-jest... how many little boys do you see that want to wear a dress?  ANY?

How many people that you know want to do any of the things that those voices repeatedly tell us that everyone is wanting to do?

I'll bet in many cases the answer is NONE.

On the other hand, how many people do you see with your own eyes that have real, "traditional" values about the goodness of hard work? That value accomplishment? That care for their families? That care about other people? -Yes, all other people, without the supposed distrusts and divisions and narrow-minded hate that those loud voices tell us are common amongst us?

America lives. It lives in us.

America has a future.  Because of us -- and the many, many millions more just like us in the ways that really matter.

We're not gone.  We're here.

They can't see us because they do not want to see us. Nor do they want us to see ourselves. -For who we are. For what we believe in.

And frankly that is exactly what has those loud few so frightened. US. You and me. And that is what makes them so desirous of making us turn inward so that we will not see one-another. And realize our power.

America is still here.
They can only kill it if we let them.

(And again frankly, I think that it is for them too late.)

Enough of us know.
Enough of us see.
Enough of us care about all this and are speaking out.

Welcome back America!  Yes, even if in fact you never really went away.

Posted to American Thinker
Aug 12, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Staying Put

For many years it was a growing 'tradition' for older people whose family had grown and moved away to, upon retirement, do the same themselves. To give up what had been their home for many years -- the place, often, where they had raised their families -- and to move elsewhere -- often to a "retirement community."  Frankly I was surprised to read that that trend seemed to be reversing. -That many older people are now choosing, instead, to stay put.

Bloomberg News posted an article whose title captured the change, and its effect on society: "Baby Boomers Who Refuse to Sell Are Dominating the Housing Market." From the point of view of younger people this change was hardly a positive one.  Housing for young families in some areas is getting increasingly short. Indeed the article focused on one younger man who has of late been spending his free time canvasing entire neighborhoods in search of somebody -- anybody! -- who is willing to sell. That so he can have a home to call his own. A foundation on which to build his future life.

Responses to his appeal have been vigorous and, in every case so far, negative.

Said one older house owner "“I wouldn’t sell even if you gave me $2 million — this is my retirement. If you gave me a bag of money, I wouldn’t sell.”

The reason, given by another such older home owner, was stark and clear. Said he: “This neighborhood still has the soul of the past. Everybody I know — people older than me — wouldn’t move from here for nothing unless they couldn’t afford it no more.”

I don't know that I'd personally say "no" to two million dollars, if offered that for my home and property, but the reasoning those two individuals expressed -- and those of several others mentioned in the article -- rang true to me.  I, as apparently have they, thought it through. I've evaluated a wide range of options. And decided to stay put.

Indeed my wife Jan and I did this together. With much care and focused purpose.  And, be it for similar reasons as others of our generation, or, perhaps, just our own, we have decided to stay.

The "whys" of this are many.  Here, from our personal perspective, are a few of them:

We are where we wish to be.

In the end that is the most salient reason.  Jan and my life together has not largely been an "oh, whatever..." affair.  We've from the start had goals and aspirations -- goals and aspirations we have lived for. Focused upon. Striven for. Sacrificed to reach.  Thus our living where we live did not come about by mere happenstance.  It is a location -- a home -- a community -- of our choosing. One based on what we are as people. -Upon our own shared, but also individual, needs.

Quietude, privacy and peace are to us essential elements of a happy and contented life. Being able to be ourselves, with little need to answer to others -- and to remain unaffected by other's equally genuine and equally personal choices and preferences.

In a sense this is not too different from the comment of one of the elderly home owners quoted above when they spoke of their neighborhood still having the "soul of the past." In their case there seemed to be an ethnic community aspect.  But underneath the specifics of what they personally valued their desire was not unlike our own: To live in a place where they/we feel comfortable.  Where one's own likes and dislikes -- and personal level of comfort -- remained paramount.

For Jan and I that "community" is in a certain sense a community of two.  But it is still a community -- one with deeply held values. -Values that in many respects differ from the greater world around us.

Another reason for staying put -- how mundane! -- is simple dollars and sense.

Yes, "sense."  Evaluated, not by commonly accepted "truths" such as "living is less expensive elsewhere," but a personal evaluation of where we'd be financially and otherwise if we should up and move.

We have for many years invested everything, or pretty close to everything, in our home and property.  That with the goal of making it exactly what we wished it to be.  And the fact is that much of that investment is non-transferable.

The large, gorgeous, porch. Rebuilt from the ground up at great cost. The home's Great Room with its large fireplace -- and room aplenty for Jan's baby grand piano, a billiard table and a bar. My personal sanctum -- a library loft with comfortable leather seating surrounded by my books and personal mementos. The home theater -- carefully designed, styled, and created with hours and hours of work -- and providing us the real theater experience in sound and picture, but without the sticky floors and endless whispering that makes the commercial movie house often less than a complete joy no matter how good "the picture."

And beauty.  Acres of it. Diverse and ever changing beauty. -There to be enjoyed outside, or through any of the house's many windows -- including the virtual glass wall that allows us to look out onto a small meadow full of life when first opening our eyes on each new day.

Then there's the larger "neighborhood."  A true "art town."  Not "arty" in the superficial, trendy, Hollywood sense, but a place of real, stable and mature creativity.  One built up many years ago on the three pillars of the MacDowell Colony, the Mariarden and the Laughton Camp/Out-Door Players -- the later of which property and main house is now what we call "home."

Could any of above be found anew?  And if so, at what cost? In money, yes, but even more in time, attention and expended energy?

Take the supposed (and in some ways real) "lower cost of living" in other areas -- and then add into the equation the cost of moving. -Of paying a real estate agent's seller's fees. Of again setting up a home, if not from scratch, then as close to that as neccasary to make the fittings "right" for the place. A new place. Likely a very different sort of place.

Add to that that such "lower cost of living" most often comes with a different price:  A less desirable location. One without such things as "the arts." One without a long standing (and still existent) culture of its own. A barren field without strong, tall, trees -- if not literally, than figuratively.

So for all these reason we are staying put.  As are, it seems, many others of our generation.

"Selfish"?  Perhaps.  But in the end isn't all life so?  Grasping for the sun. With the deep roots needed to grab up all the water needed to live and to thrive.

So, yes, we are staying put. For as long as possible. Be it as now, on our own, or later, if needed, perhaps with a little loving help.