The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Friday, November 30, 2012


Because IF we had a Congress, that is a real working Senate and House of Representatives, then things would get DONE.

As it is, the only thing that has actually excited the loudest members of Congress is trying to grill our ambassador to the United Nations.    It seems that only certain Republicans misunderstood our UN ambassador, Susan Rice when she made some simple preliminary statements on behalf of the intelligence community, because she was asked to do so.  I say this, because it seems that most of the rest of the country and the rest of the world understand that a ‘preliminary investigation’ is just that.  These folks apparently don’t want to find out what really happened in Benghazi or they’d be talking to the folks who are investigating Benghazi.

Nor do they want to get our tax situation settled in a sensible way so that everyone pays their fair share.   The only other thing I can figure out that the members of Congress really want to do is to set up drastic cuts on the Social Security and Medicare programs, as well as Medicaid, so that the oldest, poorest, and most vulnerable in our country can reduce the deficit these same members of Congress created with unfunded tax cuts and unfunded wars, while at the same time making sure that most wealthy folks in the country are protected inside their cocoons of wealth and privilege.  In fact, it is a fact that in order to maintain their illogical positions, these same members of Congress have suppressed the report they themselves ordered from the Congressional Research Service that found that “reducing the top tax rates has no correlation with the nation’s economic growth, but does contribute to the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of Americans.”  And why did they suppress that report?  Because it didn’t agree with what they wanted to believe or what they were told to believe.  Amazing.

So here we are, thirty-one days from the end of the year, with more posturing and drama than most modern movies, with a Congress that seems hell-bent on embarrassing us in front of the rest of the world by demonstrating, with every press conference they call, that they simply cannot do their jobs.

So maybe we should all mark our calendars, and in a couple of years, say November 2014, when all of the members of the House of Representatives, and lots of the Senate, come up for re-election, we can consult our notes and give them all tickets back home to manage the wealth they have accumulated in ‘government service’, and maybe we can find some folks who understand that when you are given a job, you show up and do it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not being a climate scientist

Actually not only am I not a climate scientist, I’m not any sort of scientist.  But it doesn’t take a scientist to observe that there are real and significant changes being experienced with the weather.   Now having lived in Texas all my lengthy life with the exception of a couple of sojourns in other parts of the world, we Texans know about weather changeability.  There’s an old saying hereabouts:  If you don’t like the weather, either walk across the street or wait five minutes.

But today is November 27, 2012, and we have had no rain since October 13, plus I cut a miniature gladiola bloom today to bring in the house.  Long gaps between rains is not unusual at all in Texas in certain years.  There’s a wonderfully sad book by Elmer Kelton, The Year It Never Rained, that tells what it is like without rain in Texas.  And I can certainly recall years when I had roses blooming in December because we had not yet had a hard freeze and roses are tough.  But a gladiola is a different story.  Glads are late spring and early summer blooming flowers; they go dormant during the heat of summer and we had plenty of that this year.  But then they decided to come back up when the days started to get shorter and milder; the glads seem to think it is becoming spring.  And they may be right.  

 It’s just that I can’t help thinking that certain harmonies and rhythms are changing when we have chrysanthemums and other fall plants blooming alongside gladiolas and periwinkles and such.  Oh, and I have a tomato plant that re-seeded from the summer and is now setting blooms.  Change is not always a bad thing, and can be pretty exciting at times.  But regarding change, there are always two things I like to know:  what and why.

Friday, November 23, 2012

War and strawberries

Today on the morning news we were watching coverage of the current Israeli-Palestinian situation.   Photographs are always shown of militants on both sides claiming victory, but the story also mentioned all the buildings damaged, all the lives lost or damaged, and it is hard to see any victory for either side.

I think mostly of the children and the old people, and the sick and vulnerable, on both ‘sides’ in such a conflict.  And all those millions or billions that will be needed to get back just to where the conflict started.  All those millions and billions that could have been used for food and education and comfortable homes.  Frankly, it seems to me that when even just one life or one home is lost or when one child is frightened, the conflict can contain no victory, especially when there are so very many other ways to resolve any conflict.

 But one of the most poignant aspects of the story we watched this morning was the desperation experienced by farmers who had worked to make a wonderful crop of strawberries, fruit no doubt enjoyed and appreciated by both ‘sides’, and which the farmers were having great difficulty in harvesting and getting to market.  Because it’s really hard to grow and harvest strawberries in the middle of a war.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Secession? Well, I swear and declare

And to continue with another old southern expression, “I’ll be switched.”  To think that our beloved state of Texas has joined a number of states submitting petitions for applying for secession.  That’s right, secession from America – from the United States of America.  It seems that there is a group of intense folks who are so determined to remove themselves and our state from membership in the USofA, that they are including  everybody in our state in the process.  Now I don’t have a bit of a problem with folks who are like-minded to these secessionist individuals all getting together and going somewhere else.  There’s Mexico, there’s Canada (if Canada would take them), there’s Australia, heck there’s probably some odd island somewhere that could use a sudden population.

Folks, we need dissent.  We need different points of view and we need debate. But that’s not what is happening.  These secessionist folks (or as they used to refer to them during the Civil War in the 1800’s, these ‘secesh’), are so determined to achieve their brand of ‘freedom’ that they clean forgot us other folks and our brand of democracy.  And doesn’t that seem to be the way of it nowadays?   Folks so determined to be free of the government telling them what to do that they decide to tell everyone else what to do.  And I do not wish for such nonsense, particularly for such nonsense to be presented as if these ‘secesh’ are speaking for all of us Texans.  They are not.

Decades ago, back in the ‘eighties, I mentioned to my mate and best friend that it sure seemed that our country had not yet recovered from our involvement in Vietnam.  “Heck,” this wise man exclaimed, “our country has not yet recovered from the Civil War.”  Thinking about it all, I realized he was exactly right.  And that seems to be what is going on right now in states such as Texas, in fact all across the South.  There are folks who are consciously or subconsciously reacting and over-reacting to the re-election of Barack Obama, purely because he is half black.  Or half white, depending on one’s view.  We simply think he's a good man.

Well, we can say that for us and our family, we’re proud to be Americans, proud of our President, and most of the time, proud to be Texans and Southerners, at least until some fool thing like this comes up.     And one more thing, we are always, always proud to say the Oath of Allegiance, particularly the part that goes, “one nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Adios Walmart

Oh, don’t worry, Walmart isn’t going away, but we are, as customers.  It has taken awhile, and personal expressions of concerns from dear friends, but we finally see the true Walmart situation and we can no longer participate in such a situation.  Walmart won’t notice, but we will feel we’re doing the right thing.  We see Walmart as being a huge and hugely successful corporation that treats all of its ordinary employees as simply undervalued tools, using and then discarding them if need be.  The salary scale is lamentable for the ordinary, everyday Walmart employees, their hours are many times kept to part-time in order to avoid paying certain benefits, and they expect these underpaid folks to do at least the job of 1-1/2, perhaps two people.  None of this sort of attitude is particularly unusual in the modern American retail management behavior.  In fact, far too few managements understand the basic, commonsense relationship between a reasonably compensated, well-trained, relatively contented workforce and the status of low turnover and healthy work attitude that creates great success. 

Walmart has so far quite successfully avoided such concerns, but that may be about to change.  A business can apparently avoid certain restrictions when it is growing and developing its myth.  However, now we have a country whose workforce is becoming increasingly aware of the disparity between the fabled upper one percent earners and the rest of us, and the additional awareness that that one percent group achieved its status through not only the very hard work of everyday workers, but through a calculated effort on the part of management to keep salaries low so as to keep profits really high.

Now the ironic thing is that studies have shown that when workers are paid a decent wage, which is estimated to be at least 27 percent more than what most Walmart employees receive, those employees become Walmart customers to a much greater extent, the increased salaries become a stimulus effect of their own, and ultimately companies such as Walmart, with its estimated 2,200,000 employees, would realize even greater profit.  For more information on this, go to, and read the November 19, 2012, article by Catherine Ruetschlin.  This is an excerpt from that article:

“Large retail employers can afford to pay wages that match the value that workers bring to the industry, and some do. Employers like Costco and Safeway pay decent wages and still manage to satisfy customers with low-priced goods, and earn a profit. When other companies write poverty-level paychecks, all Americans end up subsidizing those firms with sacrificed buying power in the economy and lowered standards of living. At a time of weak economic growth and declining incomes for most Americans, large retail firms are in the position to raise take-home pay and boost the national economy, all while improving their own outlook for growth.”

But will they do it?