Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

My flag, on my porch, photo by me.

I was watching the news this morning. They were predictably talking about Independence Day. One of the questions that the moderator asked the panelists was: “What does the flag mean to you?” I got lost in my own thoughts and didn’t even hear their answers. I started thinking about all of the things that are wrong in America today, and how frustrating it is to not be able change them. I finally concluded that, for me, the flag means everything that is right about America. It is the symbol of the freedom that we enjoy, the friendships that we have, and the fact that we still have freedom of speech. I also like the fact that we have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves and our families. I know that there are people out there that fear guns, but they are the ones that should insist that the gun laws, that are already on the books, be enforced. Why aren’t they?

Why don’t our borders mean anything? I have heard that people cross the borders rather routinely. To ask if a person is a legal citizen should be okay. It should be a matter of great pride to show that indeed you are a citizen of the united states, or that you have a permit to be here. I’m serious, why shouldn’t we be proud of who we are? It isn’t racist to check for criminals. Yes, it’s a crime to enter this country without permission.

I know, I haven’t mentioned the two wars that we are fighting, or the several other “problem countries” that keep tweaking America’s nose. Some people can’t talk reasonably about the reasons that we are at war, and whether we should be, or shouldn’t be. So I want this to be about the reasons that we need to join together, not argue about things that we haven’t been able to change.

Then there is the Gulf Oil spill… If this isn’t a sign of failure of our whole government, ALL of them, there never will be. Corporations don’t have consciences, government oversight is necessary. Where were the regulators? that were supposed to be watching out for us? They were having an orgy with the oil drillers! Yes! A real orgy! You could look it up. Something is wrong, when instead of protecting the environment of the whole gulf, the regulators and oil drillers were in bed (literally) with each other. This spill isn’t over yet and I keep saying: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

I graduated high school in June of 1963. The major decision back then was, what should I do with my life? What career should I pursue? The sky was the limit, all careers were open to any young man with at least modest ambition and a little bit of talent. There was little thought about whether or not you could get a job and support a family. You could.

In 1967, Dustin Hoffman’s character in the film “The Graduate” was given the advice “plastics”. What advice should we give a graduate today? Get a PHD in business administration? … then try to pay-off your student loan while working at McDonalds. Most of what I am distressed about is not that our kids aren’t ambitious, they are, it’s that their jobs have been given away by the super-rich to countries who don’t play fair. Our politicians scold us for our selfishness by saying “it’s a world economy now. Your only hope is to get an education.” Some people worked hard for an education, and most are in the ranks of the under-employed or not employed at all.

My coffee group often talks about what needs to change about America. It is often mentioned that we had a quiet revolution while nobody was paying attention, the rich simply bought America. They own the corporations, they own the news services, and they most obviously own our election system. They didn’t even use guns.

You may say that you still have control, but when was the last time you were totally happy about who you voted for? When was the last time you wrote a letter to a congressman or senator that made any change.

The flag represents the hope that I have, that America can return to it’s former prosperity, and pride in who we are.

The flag represents the America that I see as Ideal. The America where we all stand under the flag, as one people, not Democrats or Republicans, not Tea Party or any other “party” but Americans. The Flag may be the last thing that we have in common, that we feel is important.


Anonymous said...

As usual, I agree with you Ernie. I wish I could put words together as well as you do instead of pulling my hair. I do pay more attention today to what is going on but have always been aware of the corruption in our government but now it seems to be in overdrive. Hopefully, we will see more of the people that respect our Flag come forward in the months and years ahead of us.
Happy 4th of July.


Ben said...

Well Ernie... From way over here on the left, I agree with you too. Money, not talent or integrity, is the deciding factor in modern politics. Foreigners like Rupert Murdoch run media empires and twist the opinions of millions of unsuspecting Americans. China will have the worlds largest GNP in ten years. If we wonder why California is broke, I just noticed that an electrician for the City of San Francisco makes$160,000 a year. Probably about the same as some of our more enterprising local electricians. We have a staggering economic disaster which does not seem to want to fix itself, yet every day I see dozens of RVs, which cost upward of $500,000, going merrily up and down 101. Around here, we find it difficult to remember that the marijuana industry is only a tiny fraction of the American economy. My cousin was a mid level manager at American Express. They sent her to India to set up the phone answering program that cost us thousands , well maybe hundreds, of jobs. When she returned they called her in and told her they had off shored her position. She was pissed but does not see the irony to this day.
I'll probably get by. Thankfully GW Bush did not sell Social Security to Wall Street. What really worries me are the kids who inherit this mess. They can't even go fishing to forget their cares. The fish are gone.

Joe Blow said...

See what happens when you crawl out from under that rock? You sound like President Obama spouting all that HOPE.

Anonymous said...

Well, I will just step around Joe's deposit on the sidewalk and offer a quote about our founding Fathers:
"Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two Lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the revolutionary war.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty wouldbe death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress Without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution.These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”"

Anonymous said...

"Is America Really Free ,If A Privately-Owned Central Bank Controls Our Currency And Runs Our Economy?"

Robin Shelley said...

Thank you, Anon 10:29. It's good to be reminded of these facts.
I pledge allegiance...

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ha, ha, ha, Somebody in the Ukiah area dug up the fiber optic cable, so our internet is out!
But not me! I'm blogging on my cell phone. Thank God for high speed cell service...