December 2007


A Statement Of American Values.

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it.  Clarence Darrow

I received an e-mail from Ann in Des Moines last week.  She wrote, “Looks like Hilary is pulling ahead which does not make me happy because the Repubs are waiting in the wings for that to happen. My friend Nancy had breakfast with her the other day and said she thought she'd swing her way. She had Bill with her and Nancy said he spoke for 45 min. and you could have heard a pin drop and this was in a diner. She said he could charm the birds from the trees. Too bad I think too much of what he says is a hedge on the truth and I didn't use to feel that way. The remark about Iraq was the last straw!”

I’ve known Ann for nearly 40 years and every four years she’s my barometer for how things are going in the Iowa caucuses. We’re both Democrats and both Iowans, although I’ve now lived in Florida longer than my 20 or so early years in Iowa.  Iowa is white and literate.  For Democrats I’d add educated, too.  There are big differences between Iowa Democrats and Republicans.  That once wasn’t such the case but it is now.

Looking at the history of the modern Republican Party, I would be ashamed that my party thrived on peeling off disaffected Democrats who couldn’t stomach integration.  From Nixon on, Republicans have cynically played the race card, of playing on white fears of blacks.  Today, it’s the same old formula, only it’s a different shade of human being and the rallying cry isn’t states rights, it’s illegal immigration.

The Republican presidential candidates (other than John McCain) are appalling.  On the issue of illegal immigration, they make my skin crawl. Why is it we so need a straw dog to scare the living hell out of Americans?  We have soooooo many legitimate issues to confront as a nation, yet our Republican leaders auger in, pander if you will, to our worst impulses.

Beating-up on the powerless may yet again prove a winning political formula for Republicans.  The shame is on them.  Unfortunately, the nation must live with “that” shame for four years, four years since “Mission Accomplished” was proclaimed.  The shame is on us, too, for electing such bottom-feeders.

Ah, the Democrats. But that they had the stomach for the rough & tough contact sport of American politics.  Actually, that is one of Hillary Clinton’s “primary” strengths.  She is not my first choice to be the Party nominee, not even my second but the Clintons have beaten the Republicans twice.  A vote for Hillary is a vote for Bill, have no doubt about it.  It’s a two-fer.  Bill won’t be President but he comes with a portfolio, so to speak. The argument that Hillary has been vetted and that the Clintons have pounded the Republicans twice does have a certain amount of resonance with me.

And I would like to have a woman as president.  Let’s get over that hurdle.  No ceilings, at all, for America’s women.  Ever.

As powerful a message (and an act) as electing a woman, electing Barack Obama President would be even more of a statement of how far America has come.  For white America to select a black man to lead would be a staggering reversal and repudiation of our racist history.  Obama is smart, eloquent and insightful and I believe his core values are both established and firm.  He has shown resilience, toughness and determination.

But, it is asserted he lacks experience.  This argument sounds good but I am suspicious of its applicability.  If you are smart, well-versed in history, capable of managing and you surround yourself with a team of first rate, tested advisors, who’s to say you cannot lead America?

Actually, I would like each of the candidates to honestly identify contemporary Americans they would like in their cabinets. Who would be your Chief of Staff, your Secretary of Defense, State or Education?  Who would lead your Environmental Protection Agency? Attorney General?  Who will lead FEMA?

Oh, I can hear the arguments for not doing that.  But I don’t really care.  Tell us who will have your ear last.  In Hillary’s case, we know that answer. When the doors close, who will be your inner cadre of advisors recommending policy and advising whether or not to launch pre-emptive wars of choice against nations not at war with America?  We have a right to know this.

As important as all the qualities we ascribe to our presidential candidates, knowing who the President respects and actually listens to is more important. Obama has the core values to wisely lead.  He would be an incredible emissary to the world.  An American statement of American values.

Will it happen?   I don’t know.  Did’ja hear about all the illegals streaming across our borders taking our well-paying jobs and raping, RAPING our women?  Did’ja!

Reach Jepson at:
MEDIAmerica.US

01.03.08

An Asterisk By Our Name

So many disparate “facts” suggest 2008 may not be the happiest of years.  A greeting we all occasionally hear is, “How-ya doing?”  If I am feeling contrary at all (frequently the case), I respond with, “Compared to what?”  It makes me laugh and the other person frequently puzzled.  I then repeat their question and my answer and sometimes we both chuckle. Most times we simply move on after I say, “Just ducky, I’m doing just ducky.”

I believe it has finally moved into the American consciousness just how devastating humanity is to other life forms on earth.  We don’t want to believe it, that how we live is killing the planet, that what it takes to sustain our pampered lives wreaks havoc everywhere humans interface with Ol’ Mother Earth.  The inherent conundrum we now acknowledge is nothing we will do will make a measurable difference in our lifetimes. All environmental treaties (signed or imagined) will do nothing to what is going to occur in the next 50 or so years.  Really.

I get a kick out of listening to Rush Limbaugh (540 AM, noon to three weekdays) wax idiotic on the subject.  He says the science of global warming is questionable and that the verdict is still out whether or not man is contributing to the warming of the planet.  He blames liberals and the drive-by media for hyping a problem where none exists in order to create a world organization (think UN on steroids) that will control (and tax) us into slavery. Un-huh, Rush.  You bet fella, pave it all and call it progress. And we will.  Pave it all.  And, call it progress.

We care about things in the abstract.  At least I do.  I may never see a polar bear in the wild but I can get teary over their inevitable demise, or the gorillas of Africa or even the springs of Florida.  All over our beautiful state, incredible springs flow out of the ground and form rivers.  They’re dying.  Reduced flow and fertilizers and septic tanks (all issues of development) are polluting the waters.  It’s a first magnitude loss of nature right in our own backyards. And it isn’t abstract.  It is real.  Hell, Volusia County recently made a decision to tap directly into Blue Spring so they can facilitate yet even more development.  Progress, don’t-cha see.

And there is no answer.  Locally or nationally or worldwide.  Human beings will always trump nature. It’s progress.  More housing developments, more roads, more schools, more farming, more traffic, more economic vitality, more shopping centers, more churches, more, more, more. Everything in the American economy and experience is predicated on more. There is no other economic model.  Those who believe more is the answer for all human problems say, “Yea, sure there’s an economic model for what Jepson describes. It’s called a recession.”

And, I agree. If we don’t sell more Pampers, toasters, toys from China, cars from Japan, housing developments and Magic tickets, we have economic problems.  And if our population doesn’t expand, who will buy those Pampers, toasters, cars, homes and tickets?  You?  Me?  Sure, we’ll upgrade as we can but the over-arching fact of the matter, America is well on it’s way to becoming a 500 million population.  We need an ever-increasing population to sustain our economic model.  Progress, don’t-cha see?

Six and one-half billion human beings on the planet today. Is humanity at risk?  No, but the rest of the planet sure is. Will the universe cry (other than sentient humans) when the last wild Great Ape or Florida Scrub Jay is determined extinct?  Nah.

About 20 years ago, I started saying, “Thank gawd for video tape, without it we’ll never know what we missed.”

Of all Earth’s fine natural treasures, I want to experience the coral reefs off Australia. Reefs and their accompanying  life are an extraordinarily beautiful world for me and all over the planet Earth’s reefs are dying.  And my flying and being a tourist to see them will contribute to their demise.

That, dear reader, is our modern condition. We are well aware of exactly how lethal we are to the planet. Yet, we have no real way of changing course without the most wrenching of consequences.

Will our generation of humanity have an asterisk by our name?  “Yea, they (20th & 21st century humans) were creative, innovative, hardworking and, at times, genuinely pleasant to be around but their unbalanced lifestyles and sheer numbers killed much of what was beautiful, what made Earth special in all the universe.”

We did it consciously, inexorably and with little remorse. Progress, don’t-cha see.

So what is the correct response to “How-ya doing?”  Fine?  It’ ain’t too fine for the duckies, however.

Yet my backyard flowers are abloom and joy remains in my heart.  That, too, is part of the human condition.

Reach Jepson at:
MEDIAmerica.US

12.27.07

Christmas Musings

I’m not the type of Rush Limbaugh liberal who wants to take the X-mas out of Christmas.  I pretty much leave that to the faithful.  It makes me laugh outloud that the celebration for the Son of God is of such economic significance that the fate of Western democracies, (heck, the fate of the West) hinges on whether we buy enough stocking stuffers (from China, of course). I guess if the sales materialize, that’s reason enough to celebrate, let alone believe in miracles. Tell me again, the reason for the season.

Christmas is, however, a time of parties—which I whole-heartedly endorse!  I recently attended a shindig that had the pianist tinkering away nicely in the corner.  I asked if he knew the Bing Crosby (with Les Paul on guitar) classic, “Kiss me once . . .” Sure enough, he did. What a sweet, sweet song.  It’s an achingly tender tune.   It was popular as WWII was winding down and America’s servicemen were at last returning home victorious and hungry for their wives and lovers.  (“. . . and kiss me once again. It’s been a long, long time.”)

At this party I encountered a gentleman who now owns a software company, yet he actually got started writing basic code for Ross Perot back in the 70s. What intrigued me was his college major, English literature. It just “shows to Goya” that not everything in modern life is dependent on a math or science degree.  He is a bright guy full of holiday cheer.

At the bar, I met a tall, lanky, gregarious chap with a generous smile and we got to chatting and he owns (in a partnership) an actual railroad car.  Remodeled and updated for sure. I mentioned that I had been at the Grand Canyon South Rim two seasons ago and a train pulled in with 15 or so such private cars.  He travels in such circles.  What fun! If I were bucks-up, really buck’s-up, I’d put together a number of cars and take my friends leisurely around America. Merry Christmas!  We’d call it:  Party Across America.  See (lease) his train car at: www.dominionrailvoyages.com

But the real reason for the season (Thanksgiving through New Years) is the food.  I’d just as soon not eat (much) if the food is mediocre but that’s me. I sat down to dinner recently (cooked by my wife) over a sublimely (heavenly?) prepared rack of lamb with an exquisite eggplant side dish to die for and an apple soufflé-like dessert that had me calling my brother to come over the next day and polish it off.  Birdy-Num-Num (think Peter Sellers)!

And the conversation was tasty, too. I was explaining to my Muslim guests my Christmas tree that is gloriously adorned with a graceful, flowing-winged angel.  I was sharing the history of Christmas, how early Catholicism smartly appropriated many “traditions” of competing faiths and that Christmas is an amalgam of customs that includes virgin birth, trees, decorations, Santa and, oh, the arrival of the western God.  Oh, and the outlandish, obscene cornucopia of presents and whether or not Macy’s is profitable at year’s end. It’s all of one.  Of a piece.

My guests, agnostic in their own beliefs as I am in mine, discussed at length the Middle East.  I observed that Islam, in a sense, is where Christianity was 400 years ago.  That, for two hundred years, Western Europe literally consumed itself with religious fanaticism. Lutheran murdering Catholic murdering Methodist.  Just a wonderfully rich, expressive time for the faithful.  There’s nothing quite like being called to slaughter (or a jihad, Inquisition or even a presidential campaign) in the name of God.  Much like Sunni slaughtering Shiite murdering the accessible Jew and any available Christian.  Yet another astonishing time (point) in our history.

I should have led everyone in a reverent moment of profound thanks for the Enlightenment (and the notion of religious freedom and toleration).  But I didn’t, I evoked a heartfelt and sincere, “Pass the gravy.”

So this Christmas, I say to my Christian friends, “Merry Christmas!”

And, I wish to all, a tolerance for man’s many expressions of spirituality.

Amen.

Reach Jepson at: MEDIAmerica.US

12.20.07

Along Comes Bill

Is ex-President Bill Clinton a bigger liar than President Bush?  I don’t know.  Are all presidents liars?   I don’t know that either. I have my suspicions.  I know I am greatly fatigued with President Bush and his god-awful war, of his fumbling over words and mangling our language, of his claim to work for God (How about working for us!), of his horrendous deficits, of his throwing the game to the already favored and finally to his self-righteous, “entitled” disdain for competency and genuine merit.

I’m shocked (SHOCKED!) when I hear of a political poll showing 78% or 80% (some shockingly high percentage) of Iowa Republicans are “okay” with President Bush. No, not “okay.”  They approve of the man. I simply do not get it.

I grew up in Iowa.  Can Iowans be that ignorant?  How can I be at a polar opposite of my fellow Iowans?  I won’t say he’s the worst President ever, but how about in the last 100 years?  People’s eyes fog over, I’ve seen it, or they start thinking about their cuticles (men & women) when I bring up Iraq and why we are there.

“That’s old hat, Jepson.  Besides we have to deal with events now.  We’re there now.  How does going over, yet again, how we got in Iraq, how does that help anyone, help America?”

Why is getting to the “truth” so esteemed yet so rare?  That’s it.  Esteemed for its rarity.  Ah, yes.

I believe President Bush did not act in the best long-term interests of the United States.  He foolishly engaged us in an Islamic land war and actually used the word “crusade” in describing the context. It was such an ill-conceived, poorly planned enterprise that West Point historians for the next hundred years will teach it (as a tragedy) at the academy.

Nearly 4,000 dead.  Tens of thousands horribly, horribly wounded. Trillions in debt because one man, President Bush took the nation under false pretenses into an unequivocally unnecessary war of choice.  It was the fool’s choice. America was misled, lied to and deceived.  But Bush is history. His administration is history.  403 days to the next presidential inaugural.

Now to my opening question regarding which of the two presidents is the biggest liar.  Bush’s lies are, relatively speaking, more catastrophic for the nation.  I know there are those, they must all live in Iowa and be Republican, who think lying about an inappropriate sexual relationship because it is embarrassing is more egregious than lying about going to war with 4,000 casualties, thousands wounded and trillions in debt.

Lying about inappropriate oral sex is more offensive than lying about death, mayhem and indebtedness. Lying about going to war.

I’m not one of those, however.  See, I’m a relativist.  Bush’s lies are worse than Clinton’s lies.

But that does not excuse President Clinton.  I am soooooo sick and tired of political waffling, of history rewrites and abrupt 180’s on the issues. As adults.  Adult Value Flippers.   I laugh at Mitt Romney. Laugh at him.  He hadn’t “thought” the abortion issue out as a man in his 40’s.  C’mon.  Yea. Right, Mitt.

I’ve been rethinking my position on Hillary. For President.  She’s has many qualities I admire.  Intelligence, ambition, resiliency.  And a decency. I could see voting for Hillary. Against any of the Republican candidates.  Any of’um.

But there are qualities about Hillary I do not like either.  Such that I was rethinking my level of commitment to her campaign. And then, along comes Bill.

Along comes Bill rewriting his history on Iraq.  Hillary’s vote giving Bush authorization to war against Iraq is a big stumbling block for me in voting for Hillary.  I believe she did that in order to appear tough on the enemies of America  for when she ran for the presidency.

Hillary sticks her finger up in the air too much for my taste.  Way too much. She’s an equivocator, a “mincer” of words, a hedger of bets (necessary political qualities sometimes) but not the core fiber of the candidate.

And Bill.  He now says he was against the Iraq war.  I turned to my wife when I first heard that and said, “I don’t remember it that way.”

Bill Clinton did not speak out and ask, “What foolishness is this?”  No, he was mostly silent but he did offer the occasional boot licking spittle of a comment about the necessity of the Iraq invasion.  For the same reasons as Hillary, for when she ran for the presidency.  Can’t appear weak!!!  Democrats can’t appear weak.

Bill Clinton lied.  And he thought we’d forget.  That he was mostly silent or, worse that he paid lip service to it.  Shameful.  Worse than his last minute pardons to me. And they were despicable.  How dumb does Bill think we are?

I’m over the Clintons. I’m over the Bushes.  I’m over lying leaders.  No more of either family.  America can do better.

Reach Jepson at:
Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

12.13.07  

Not Your Mamma’s
Republican Party

I give money for church organs in the hope that the organ music will distract the congregation’s attention from the rest of the service.  Andrew Carnegie

When someone tells me they are a Republican and they say it’s because they are a small government, small regulation, small tax Republican, I inwardly laugh and think, “Box of rocks.”

Not always.  But frequently.  They want to explain how the Republican Party of today isn’t really the Republican Party of their fathers.  This I know in spades.  I grew up in a Republican household.

This ain’t your Momma’s Republican Party.  I have watched nearly all the debates thus far and I am unsure what office the candidates are actually running for.

I become physically nauseous (I exaggerate but only slightly) whenever the issue of God is introduced.  I don’t care what these men believe about God.  Shut-up already about it.   When‘s the last time God established public policy?  Oh, sorry, this administration.  God is the President’s chief advisor and as such, Bush is a mere instrument of God’s plan for America.  Is that the, uh, Party line?

Is that what Republican presidential candidates believe, such, that they righteously claim they are truer to God’s will, know God better then the other guy?

Ugh. It’s ugifying.  Arkansas Governor Huckabee is on record that he does not believe in evolution. That used to really ruffle my feathers but, so what?  Examine all (any) of it.  None of it holds up to the bright light of a reasoning mind. Yet?  Are we going to elect a leader in the 21st century who does not embrace modern science? Are we?  Again?

Governor Huckabee, an evangelical Christian, wants to get into a “I know God better than you do,” kind of one-upmanship with Governor Romney, a Mormon.

Folks, they really did debate, once upon a time in European history, so many, many hundreds of years ago whether “several angels could be in the same place at once.”  Really.

So how arcane a Christian does one have to be to pass what has become “The” standardized test question of the Republican Party?

The last Republican Debate, the so called YouTube Debate had more, shall we all pray now, of this kind of nonsense.  Then “The Boys” got off on immigration.

And I thought, where did all the Christians go?  They were in the room a minute ago trothing their fidelity to the Bible and Jesus and then the mention of brown-skinned folks streaming across our borders, raping our women, infecting us with incurable viruses and doing the work few if any of us willingly chose and whoa now, we’re back to the Old Testament with a gnarly, unforgiving kind of Republican Jehovah.

We’ve got the New Testament Republican for tax breaks, fewer business regulations and for making money (Please see tele-evangelical ministers new pitch on wealth accumulation.  So timely.).

And, then you run out the Old Testament Republicans for illegal aliens, socialists, pre-emptive war and unionizing.  Man, is religion versatile.

The Republican debate over illegal aliens is a low point for me.  I part company with my liberal colleagues on this issue.  I want the US/Mexican border shut down.  No one comes across without checking in first.  Build a fence.  Sensors.  More border patrol agents.

If it were Danes and Swedes streaming across from Mexico, I’d feel the same. Every person in America comes with a cost.  Let’s have a debate over how big America should become, how much land to develop, water to use, etc.  We cannot control our population (our natural resources) with a sieve of a border.

That said, everyone now here is part of the team.  No talk of sending them back.  No talk of denying access to our schools, police or healthcare services.  No saying, “You’re not welcome here because you had the cojones to walk through hell to be an American.”

The Republicans stumbled all over each other trying to prove they could out-vilify these sneaky, desert crossing, river swimming wetbacks! Republicans know how to “whomp” those nasty illegals.  Speech after speech saying how those here illegally need to be herded-up and driven back to Mexico.   Roll’um, roll’um rawhide!

My goodness, what is that all about?  Sure, there are bad eggs among the illegals.  As they surface, incarcerate them.  Most are more interested in pursuing the “American Dream” than many of our own children. Embrace them. Let’um work their dreams.

But not our Old Testament Republicans. No way. Fire and brimstone down upon you, you illegal.  Out!

The Republican candidates should be campaigning for the highest religious office of, oh, Arkansas or Utah (even Taxachusettes!).  Not the presidency. They are small, yet certain men of little vision.

I’d give money to any Republican who’d pledge to take God off the ticket and out of the race for the White House. I don’t think that would distract the faithful, however.  Get the organs tuned.

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US

12.06.07