Dave Stancliff 2014-04-13 blogarama.com

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Well dang it…Justin Bieber Didn’t Get Kicked Out of the USA – Nice Try Though

Image: File photo of Bieber posing at the premiere of the documentary "Justin Bieber's Believe" in Los Angeles

 Good Day World!

 The White House chickened out!

Instead of responding to a petition from over a quarter million Americans, it chose to to whimp out on kicking that spoiled brat from Canada out of the USA.

The reason? To avoid the appearance of improper influence. Oh please! The White House has enough undue influence on everything in our society, why bother reforming now?

From NBC News:

“Sorry, 273,968 people who signed a petition to have pop star Justin Bieber sent back to his native Canada. The White House issued a response of sorts on Friday, but it's not the answer you waited three months to receive.

"Thanks for your petition and your participation in We the People," the letter on the site begins. "Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be commenting on this one. The We the People terms of participation state that, “to avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition." (Story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, April 18, 2014

Essay for the Day: Recognizing when not to ‘die’ over an issue

Good Day World!                                
                                                 
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not worth dying for?”

Basically, it means there’s no use getting stressed out over things when the result is you’re the one who will suffer.

Not that politician who angered you. Not that jerk who cut you off on the freeway. Not that clown who claimed to be pious, but was actually a child molester. You’re the one who will suffer the consequences of increased blood pressure, or heart attack, when your anger gets the best of you.

Fred Phelps was often called "the most hated man in America," a label he seemed to relish. When he died in March it reminded me of something that happened March 10, 2006, when he and his hate-infused family picketed the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder in Westminister, Maryland.

I had to remind myself not to get too upset when I heard the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) to continue picketing Army funerals. Watching that hate group taunt the families of dead American servicemen on TV practically sent me through the roof!

For days, I fumed over the decision, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the only decision the justices could make. Free Speech was challenged and had to be upheld, regardless of how hateful that speech was. It still hit me hard.

As a Vietnam veteran (1970 - Army) I looked at the decision with biased eyes. Gut reaction. Those fallen men and women were my brothers and sisters, and the WBC was allowed to mock their deaths. To disrupt a sacred ritual of comfort for the living over their loss. How wrong was that?

Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq in 2006 and his funeral was picketed by Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, Albert Snyder, Matthew’s father, told Katie Couric on CBS News.
He also said, “When the government won’t do anything about it, and the courts give us no remedy, then people are going to start taking matters into their own hands. And believe me someone is going to get hurt. And when the blood starts flowing, let it be on the Supreme Court Justices’ hands.”

I felt Albert Snyder’s pain. I didn’t lose a son, but I felt like the whole world was turned upside down, and wrong was right. The bad guys won. Chaos was creeping nearer. Then I heard Tom Brokaw say something that really struck a cord with me. He mentioned the veteran groups that were attending military funerals to shield the families from Phelps and his minions.

If anything, the WBC has caused attendance to increase at military funerals across the nation. The fallen are actually getting more recognition for their sacrifices than before the WBC started their vile campaign against them.

For years, I’ve read about low attendance at military funerals. They even had a hard time finding people to play “Taps” and used tape recordings instead. The services were generally confined to immediate family and friends, in spite of being open to the public.

Look at what’s happening now. Hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of strangers are going to military funerals to show their respect and solidarity against those who would profane such a sacred event. I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more dramatic increase in attendance after the WBC promised to “quadruple” their demonstrations after the court’s decision.

The mistake Albert Snyder made was he was prepared to “die over something” that’s not wrong according to our Constitution. As a father, I completely understand how emotions can run strong when it comes to our children.

The WBC is morally wrong without a doubt, but the court can’t use that as  factor in its decision for freedom of speech. Hopefully, Snyder was able to take some solace since his son’s funeral brought about an awareness of military deaths.

The public needs to be reminded that Americans are dying in our never-ending wars. Matthew Snyder’s legacy is he died fighting for his country and his funeral became a wake up call for America.

Violence at military funerals, as Snyder suggested may happen, is not the answer. Violence is never the answer. The Supreme Court’s decision was the right one. Threatening the WBC members will accomplish nothing and will only keep them in the spotlight they crave.

Putting things in perspective; a small cult/church is spewing hateful messages and will do or say anything to get attention. Most of the country disagrees with them, and the end result is an awareness of military deaths and a re-affirmation of free speech.

Few things in life are really worth “dying for” and the ability to recognize that means a longer and happier life.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tourists from Hell: Chinese Assume ‘Ugly’ Mantle from Americans

File:The Ugly American poster.jpg

   Good Day World!

 I remember back in the early 1960s reading the Ugly American – and seeing the 1963 movie about the novel, starring Marlon Brando.

It was a political novel and was written by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer.

The novel became a bestseller, was influential at the time, and is still in print. The book is a quasi-roman à clef; that is, it presents, in a fictionalized guise, the experience of Americans in Southeast Asia (Vietnam) and allegedly portrays several real people who are represented by pseudonyms.

The book describes the United States's losing struggle against Communism—what was later to be called the battle for hearts and minds in Southeast Asia—because of innate arrogance and the failure to understand the local culture.

The title is actually a double entendre, referring both to the physically unattractive hero, Homer Atkins, and to the ugly behavior of the American government employees.

Things have changed however in the 21st Century and now the mantle for ugly behavior has been passed onto the Chinese! Check out the following story from NBC News:

Image: Chinese tourists

“Thousands have clambered aboard student buses at Chiang Mai University, made a mess in cafeterias and sneaked into classes to attend lectures. Someone even pitched a tent by a picturesque lake. The reason: "Lost in Thailand," a 2012 slapstick comedy partly shot on campus that is China's highest-grossing homegrown movie ever.

Now visitors are restricted to entering through a single gate manned by Mandarin-speaking volunteers who direct Chinese tourists to a line of vehicles for guided tours. Individual visitors are banned, and a sign in prominent Chinese characters requesting that passports be produced is posted by the gate.

With their economy surging, mainland Chinese have become the world's most common world traveler, with more than 100 million expected to go abroad this year. In 2012, they overtook the Americans and Germans as the top international spenders, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

But in Chiang Mai and elsewhere, Chinese tourists have acquired the same sort of reputation for loud, uncouth, culturally unaware behavior that inspired the term "Ugly Americans" decades ago. (read full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Some Reflections on Collections

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Good Day World!                             
                                       
Collecting things can be a long and winding road that never ends. The list of things deemed collectible is as colorful as a rainbow, and can stretch the limits of our imaginations.

How many stories have you heard about people who used their baseball cards as noise-makers for their bikes while growing up?

You might even have done that. I didn’t, but I cringe when I hear people tell me how they used Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Duke Snider, and Sandy Koufax cards so rudely. Those same people groan with regret when they learn how much those cards are worth these days.

There are always a few, like my high school buddy Larry, who saved everything he ever ran across. He started ridiculously young and actually saved his baseball cards neatly sorted in shoe boxes. He also amassed a collection of baseball hall of fame memorabilia second only to Cooperstown since then!

Visiting with Larry and his beautiful wife Nanci is like entering a baseball shrine. You get the urge to cry out, “Play ball!” He’s a Dodger fan and the majority of his collection reflects that. Someday, someone in the Dodger organization will find out about Larry and induct him into their fans hall of fame. If they don’t already have one, he can be the first entry.

I, and my buddy Tom (now my brother-in-law and still buddy) collected comic books for a brief time in high school. We were fans of Marvel Comics in particular. We read a lot of the D.C. titles like “Superman” and “Batman,” but it was Marvel characters like the “Fantastic Four” and the “Amazing Hulk” that got our greatest admiration.

Our favorite Marvel character was Spider Man. We snapped up each new issue and eagerly read it while relaxing in a park near the liquor store where we purchased our comics. From 1964 to 1966, we saved enough money each month to buy all the Marvel comics available that month (and a few selected DC titles) on the rack.

We’d take our stack of comics, a bottle of Coca Cola , a candy bar or two, and settle on the park benches for an afternoon read-a-thon. Those were heady times. Our conversations revolved around Peter Parker, aka Spider Man, and if he should reveal his identity to Mary Jane or his Aunt May.

World events seemed far away back then, and comic books were our escape from such horrible things as the drudgery of school, not being old enough to get a driver’s license, and having to walk everywhere we went.

You might wonder what happened to that collection of comics from the so-called Silver Age? Did Tom and I save them and divide them up when our paths diverged? The answer, sadly enough, is no. Neither of us has even one issue from those halcyon days.

The boxes containing the comics were stored in my parent’s garage while I was in the Army. When they moved from that house they didn’t have a lot of room in their trailer so they got rid of a lot of stuff. I was stationed at Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro, and didn’t have any extra storage room in my barracks.

At the time, I have to admit, I really didn’t care much about them. My friend Tom was also in the Army and stationed in Germany. A school teacher moved into my parent’s house and I gave her the comics.

Which brings us back to collectibles, people who save things, and those who don’t. I recently read that a copy of Spider Man’s first appearance in comics sold for a $1.1 million dollars! Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug 62) was sold in a private sale brokered by ComicConnect.com.

Our comics, if you recall, were from 1964-66. I bought a copy of Comic Buyer’s Guide (to torture myself) and looked up Marvel and DC Comics from that time.

One example: we paid 12 cents for Daredevil #7 (Apr 65) and now it’s selling for $650! After nearly suffering a seizure, I collected myself and realized my memories are worth more than those comics are now.

I started collecting Los Angeles Laker memorabilia as a hobby back in the early 90s, and have put together a nice collection with the help of my friends and family. I’ve been a fan since they moved to LA. No one has to ask what to get me for Christmas, Father’s Day, or my birthday. I hope my grandchildren enjoy it someday when I’m gone and it helps them remember their “Pa Pa.”

The best part of collecting is the memories that come with it.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

About a hater out of control: When hate turns murderous

Good Day World!

Hate is like cancer, it spreads and eventually consumes a person.

That appears to be the case for, Frazier Glenn Cross, the poster boy for hate in America.

He was arrested last Sunday,on the eve of Passover, after murdering a a 14-year-old Eagle Scout and his 69-year-old grandfather at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City campus in Overland Park.

Cross, a Vietnam veteran, has devoted his life to hate. He preaches white supremacy and has organized armed militias, stockpiled military weapons and plotted to kill the founder of the Southern Law Poverty Center, which sued him in 1984 for trying to intimidate blacks in North Carolina.

Cross was involved in extremist politics as a young man, but became active in the KKK after returning home from the Vietnam War, where he served in the Army's Special Forces.

When he lived in North Carolina, he became head of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He turned the chapter into a paramilitary group - with help from soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg -organized against minorities and their advocates.

His life has been devoted to hating non-white people, and he even makes an exception there including white Jews in his deranged attacks. So how does this poor excuse for a human end up? He’s going to be tried for murder.

But you want to know the real kicker? None of the three victims were Jewish!

A perfect example of all-consuming hate out of control. There’s only one thing to do with a crazy bastard like him; lock him up for life in solitary so he has time to think about the path he took.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, April 14, 2014

Women Listen Up! Start Accepting Compliments From Each Other

       Good Day World!

Compliments can trigger an usual response when they come from one woman to another.

Rejection.

That’s a sweeping statement but consider this; women these days  receive mixed messages about which behaviors are desirable or accepted, according to Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

“We’re told love yourself, but not too much. Be confident but practice a style of humility this culture doesn’t require of men. Less than we thought we were going to be. Less than what we could have been. This is a big issue with women,” said Engeln in a recent interview.

Engeln also explained that women are taught to believe in themselves, but not to admit it, lest they make other women who don’t feel good about themselves feel uncomfortable. These observations fit my experience in observing women interact.

In 40 years of research (aka marriage) I’ve watched this behavior first hand. My wife, a very intelligent person, will describe herself as a scatterbrain or some other negative description depending upon the company she’s in.

She lives in fear of offending people. I may sleep out on the front porch for a couple of nights after she reads this column, but I like to share from experience. You know, that little bit of insider knowledge that keeps you from being a clueless clown even though you don’t have a degree in psychology.

I’ve had a lifetime of observing women from my mother and sisters to my girlfriends. My wife has been my master’s degree on women and why they do the things they do. The whole concept has been foreign to me from the start. Experts say men just don’t worry about the same things. I’ll go along with that.

I can’t remember the last time I went to a sporting event with my guy friends and had one of them tell me my outfit looked cute! I don’t recall any men I know ever admiring one another’s t-shirt or slim-cut pants when we got together. Perhaps I’ve lived a sheltered life.

Men just aren’t that nice. Women often worry about hurting each other’s feelings. Men are busy bruising egos and boasting of their exploits to all who’ll listen. I’d wager if you checked out our DNA you’d find that most men are missing some nice traits. Not all, mind you.

I think women are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to showing they feel confident without offending each other. I’ve personally witnessed a woman arrive at a party and get immediately complimented on her dress. She responded by saying she bought it at a Salvation Army Thrift Store! Even though it wasn’t true.

I ran across a viral video created by Amy Schumer of Comedy Central that every woman should watch. It shows a bunch of young women busy deflecting compliments from other young women. If you have a moment check it out at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzlvDV3mpZw
Women are often considered unfeminine if they’re assertive in their careers. Men are thought of as “bold” or some equally positive description when they’re assertive.

That kind of thinking needs to recede into the past where it belongs. I think it’s up to women to break the double-standard. They can start by accepting compliments from one another. It’s okay to be praised for something. No matter what it is. Women don’t have to be complete jerks like men tend to be socially, but they should loosen up and not be afraid to say they’re good at what they do.

We’re not responsible for what other people feel. You can be proud of what you do without being a heel. This change won’t come about overnight, but it’s time for more talk about the topic.

I’ve watched my wife grow emotionally and intellectually for nearly four decades now. She’s still learning how to take a compliment. I’m not sure if this attitude is hardwired in women or a cultural phenomena.

I remember reading “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” by John Gray, a relationship counselor and American author, and thinking …“This guy’s hit it on the head!” If you’ve never read the book give it a shot. It’s a good read.

I have hope for women however. My six year-old granddaughter has no problem accepting compliments from her Nana and me, to complete strangers of either gender! She gives a disarmingly sweet smile (minus one front tooth purchased by the tooth fairy) to anyone who compliments her.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Essay: 20th Century World Leaders: the Good, Bad, and the Ugly

04-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-cropped

        Good Day World!

Who will history be kind to or revile as we look back at the 20th century? Before I share my list of candidates, I think it’s important to add a qualifier; these choices ultimately depend on who is in power at the time.

Now that we have that cleared up, let’s take a look at three lists; one with world leaders leaving behind good legacies, another with bad legacies, and the third list of leaders who could be remembered either way.

As you might have guessed, the good list isn’t as long as the other two. Good leaders are heavily outweighed by bad ones historically. I’m not sure why that is. How many great leaders in the 20th Century stand out to you (I’ll list mine below)? My calculations are based upon a simple formula of statistics, facts, and personal opinion.Hitlerart

First, let’s look at some people who I think will not be remembered kindly in history books:

Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy), Joseph Stalin (Russia), Vladimir Lenin (Russia), Osama bin Laden (al Qaeda), Saddam Hussein

(Iraq), Idi Amin (Uganda), Nicolae Ceausescu (Romania), Kim il Sung (North Korea), Mao Zedong (China), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Augusta Pinochet (Chile), Hideki Tojo (Japan), Slobodan Milosevic (Yugoslavia and Serbia),

Francisco Franco (Spain), Menghistu (Eithopia), Tito (Yugoslavia), Ismail Enver (Turkey), Yakubu Gowon (Biafra), Jean Kambanda (Rwanda), and Yahya Khan (Pakistan).

That was th8FpMqSte short list. There’s not enough space in this column to list all of the bad leaders in the 20th century. Now, let’s look at the candidates for good leaders worldwide:

John F. Kennedy (USA), Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (India), Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA), Winston Churchill, (England), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Ch’iang Kai Shek (China), Leon Trotsky (Russia), Jimmy Carter (USA), and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Turkey).

Here comes my favorite list, those leaders who could go either way when the historians try to winston_churchill_01-1categorize them. Here’s my real close good/bad list:

From America we have three presidents: Richard M. Nixon (“I‘m not a crook…”), George H.W. Bush (can you say Iran-Contra?), and George Walker Bush (invading Iraq and Afghanistan for no good reason). His brother Jeb, recently said history will be kind to him. I beg to differ.

From Russia (with no love): Nikita Khrushchev (known for temper tantrums), Leonid Brezhnev (he spied on his own countrymen), and Vladimir Putin (who may or may not restore the old Soviet Union).

Gamal AbdRussiael Nasser ( a dictator with mixed accomplishments), Golda Meir (resigned after questions of her handling of the 1973 Yom Kippur War), and Hafez el Assad (current Syrian dictator involved in a civil war).

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From England we have:
Anthony Eden (his Middle East policy in 1956 was a failure), Neville Chamberlain (“Peace in our time…” after visiting Hitler), and Gordon Brown ( his popularity nosedived during the 2008 recession).

From Canada we have:
Kim Campbell ( during her four months as Prime Minister she was unable to bring forth any new legislation), John Turner (he was out of touch with his country), and Joe Clark (who suffered from a poor public image and imagined weakness).

As much fun as this has been, I’m not going to continue this last list. Suffice to say there are a lot of 20th century world leaders whose legacies are in question. Leaders whose accomplishments have been dwarfed by dumb and sometimes deadly decisions.

The 21st century, still in it’s fledgling stage, promises to give us a whole new crop of world leaders to evaluate. As I mentioned earlier in this column, world leaders are ultimately judged by historians with agendas.

Acute readers may have noticed I selected three Americans out of  the nine picks for the good list. I did mention that part of the process is simply my opinion (worth nothing on the open market) and easily contested.

Time for me to walk on down the road…