An Immodest Proposal: Catch and Re-Lease

In 1729, Jonathan Swift, an Irish cleric better known for his work Gulliver’s Travels, wrote an essay entitled,

“A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick”

 It is more commonly known as A Modest Proposal.  Swift, seeking a way to deal with the starving people and abject poverty of Ireland, came up with a unique, if controversial, idea.

Since one can always learn from the past, I submit this Immodest Proposal for your consideration  in dealing with the Extraordinary Danger posed by the invasion of our country by those illegally crossing our borders, stealing all the good jobs, raping and pillaging (even if they are caught) because of our “catch and release” policy.

Here is An Immodest Proposal for Preventing the Poor Immigrant People from Being a Burden to America and For Making them Beneficial to our Economy (although I hear it is already perfect.)

It seems our efforts at stemming the tidal wave, nay tsunami, of people crossing our border under the mistaken idea we welcome these teeming masses yearning to be free has been only failure.

We have tried kindness and understanding, and still they came.

We put the National Guard on the borders, and still they came.

We built a wall (and rebuilding it as soon as part of it fell into Mexico,) and still they came,

We snatched their children holding them as hostages to discourage others from coming, and still they came.

It’s time we turned these lemons into lemonade. For what level of desperation must they feel to face not only our indignation and revulsion for their daring to embrace the dream of freedom but to ignore every effort we’ve made to stop them?

I have the perfect solution.

Instead of catch and release, we catch them and then lease and re-lease them to do all those jobs Americans are not willing to do.

We can lease and re-lease them to farms, at costs far lower than minimum wage, and thus lower the cost of agricultural products.

We can lease and re-lease them to cities and towns to clean the highways, collect trash, maintain the sidewalks, sweep the streets (at night to be out of sight of most citizens) thus reducing taxes and improving our living environment.

We can lease and re-lease them to companies who need massive amounts of labor to fill all those newly created jobs (after all Americans have first dibs, of course) and the lower labor cost will reduce the price of all those Amazon orders.

The cost savings will translate into lower taxes, put more money in the hands of “real & true” Americans, and eliminate all those pairs of sneakers hanging from telephone lines which is a blight on our land.

We can take some of them and use them to care for the children too young to work and supplement our own daycare facilities to lower day care costs.

Some might claim, this is slavery. I disagree.  We did not ask them to come here. We’ve made a tremendous effort to discourage them, yet still they came. It would be reasonable to conclude their ignoring our objections to their coming here amounts to volunteering.

We might even put a light at the end of the tunnel.  Say after ten or twenty years of toiling for our mutual benefit, they would be entitled to either a path to citizenship or a free ticket home.

Absent concurrence with my suggestion, we could always revert to Swift’s original idea. More difficult to sell but would accomplish the same honorable purpose.

The Soundtracks of Life

Music has always been a big part of my life. I’m sure that’s true for many people, I know it’s true for some of my friends. The music of our youth shapes us even to this day. It added color to our memories, and still keeps much of those “good ole’ days” vibrant and alive, even if tempered with time.

I always find it fascinating that I have to work at remembering names of people I’ve just met, yet just the first few notes (can you name that tune?) of The Sounds of Silence or April Come She Will and I can recite the lyrics without fail.

I often listen to the 60s channel on Sirius XM and, except for a few obscure songs, can sing along with almost every tune.

Pleasant Valley Sunday, I’m a Believer, Shiloh, Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?, and on to the days of Good Times Bad Times, Stairway to Heaven, Smoke on the Water, the sound of the first few notes or rhythmic beat of the drums and I am sixteen once again.

Born to be Wild… indeed.

In my senior year of high school, 1974, the theme of the prom was Seals & Croft’s We May Never Pass This Way Again. I didn’t attend the prom, choosing (or perhaps because I may not have had a choice) to experience (with several other option-less friends) a more cinematic cultural experience at a rather chic drive-in movie location, accompanied by fine, hand-crafted ales, and facilitated by our well-altered fake Id’s attesting to my being a mature 19-year-old and thus able to appreciate the fine art and refreshments.

I don’t recall the name of the movie, nor the actors, nor the theme of the story. Sometimes what seems to be a good use of time at the moment turns out not to be so. Such is life, but regrets never accomplished anything.

My point for revisiting that moment in time was the appropriateness of the theme. While we may have loved the music, and can still sing all the words, we didn’t appreciate how prophetic those words were or how quickly the time between those moments and now would pass.

Now I find myself a part another song from that era.

In 1967 (FIFTY-THREE YEARS AGO) the Beatles released the song, When I’m Sixty-Four. At the time of its release, me and most of my friends were eleven years old. Old people were sixty-four. Antique cars were sixty-four. Dinosaurs were sixty-four.

I could not grasp the concept of BEING sixty-four.

Now I am fast approaching sixty-four.

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me?
When I’m sixty-four?”

Yet even as I approach this now seemingly young age–60 is the new 40, or so I tell myself–the lyrics and music of those days still reside, alive and well-cared for, deep in my memory.

Of all the many songs and artists of those days— Neil Diamond, Harry Chapin, Chicago, Blood, Sweat, & Tears—Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel remain my favorites. Even today, with my fingers battered and bruised from an active life, tinged with arthritis, I can still pick up my guitar and play the songs.

Simon had a way with words and a masterful ear for setting music to his poetic lines. One of my favorites, interestingly enough also about the aging process although that was far from my mind back then, is the song Old Friends from the Bookends album.

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends

Old friends
Winter companions
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends


Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

Time it was
And what a time it was
It was. ..
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago. .. it must be. ..
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

(Music and Lyrics by Paul Simon)

Sixty-four a moment away, seventy on the horizon…preserve your memories and sing the songs of your halcyon days. We will never pass this way again.

"They're the Young Generation (and they've got something to say)

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” President John F. Kennedy 

The winds of change—unstoppable and inevitable—course through these United States.  Often such change begins with destruction of what was, scattering the pieces of the past askew. But like a forest fire destroying lives to prolong life, the devastation brings opportunity.

In 2016 anger drove many Americans to abandon principals—to ignite the flames of destruction—in exchange for a firestorm named Trump. They believed the mere act of burning down the past would set it right. 

But even a devastating fire leaves some things unharmed. It does not destroy all the trees.

This election will not be decided by people like myself who will vote for anyone but Donald Trump.

This election will not be decided by those who would grant Trump the Presidency without the benefit of an election.

This election will not be decided by those who have already made up their minds.

This election will be decided by a new generation. And they have the clarity of the past to measure the need for real, rational change.

History may not repeat, but it rhymes (a quote attributed to Mark Twain but who knows?) Here, the rhyme is the rise of a new generation to seize the mantle of leadership.

Men like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders represent those of the Kennedy age who have served their country as they saw fit to do it. While I may not agree with everything they represent, they have been men of integrity. Not perfect, not flawless, but committed to fundamental honesty.

It is time they recognize the moment to pass the torch has arrived.

Pete Buttigieg ( well-educated, articulate, Navy veteran) and Amy Klobuchar (an accomplished lawyer and Senator) represent the rise of a new generation. Their resumes read like the American dream, striving for excellence.

While John Kennedy’s generation rose to preeminence tempered by World War II and the Cold War, this new generation is tempered by asymmetric warfare, instant communication, climate change, a more vibrant global economy, and complex–in some cases nuclear armed–geopolitics.

There has never been a time more critical for a cerebral President, attuned to embracing complexities, than now.

In 1959, during the race between Kennedy and Nixon, Kennedy’s Catholicism posed a major issue for voters. His youth posed another. These were divisive issues upon which many voters based their decisions. Yet that generation rose to the challenge.

In 1960, the idea that someday there would be a Black President was the stuff of disbelief for some and disaster for others.

Times changed and it came to pass.

Now, there is the real chance of a woman or a gay person occupying the White House. That this possibility exists is a good thing, that some will consider these salient issues upon which to base their votes shows we still have a ways to go.

And the only way we will get there is to learn from the past, but look forward to the future.

I, for one, am excited by the prospect of a new generation of American Leadership.

Ode to a Cracked Pot

Donald, Donald, orange bright
In the forests of the night
What immoral hand or eye,
Could frame they fearful symmetry?

In what distant deep or skies
Burnt the ire of thine eyes?
On what lies dare thee conspire
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could place the evil in thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat
What dread hair & and what damaged feet?

What the hammer? What the chain,
In what madness churns thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare create thy pompous ass?

When the Senate gave up their spears
And abandoned honor in their tears
Did the devil smile his work to see?
Did he rejoice in making thee?

Donald, Donald burning bright,
In our country you haunt the night
What immoral hand or eye
Dare inflict us with your symmetry?

Author’s note: Apologies to William Blake and John Keats for borrowing their magnificent words and to Dan Walsh who, if he reads this, will forever regret introducing me to their work.

An Economic Change of Course

Well, there you have it. Donald J. Trump, in three short years, has performed a miracle with the State of the Economy.

His economic policies have sent the economy soaring, the stock market to new records, and righted the imbalance in trade agreements.

He took what was a country on the brink of disaster, one brought on by the policies of the previous administration, and saved the day.

But, like the line from my favorite movie, he would also warn you to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” He doesn’t want you to look beyond the spectacle of his performance.

The issue is not whether the gains he claims are true—some are and he polished some to make them sound good—but whether his policies are responsible.

And therein lies the problem.

As anyone with a basic understanding of economics would know, the American economy is like a giant ship in the ocean.  Sometimes it is running at full speed with a following ocean and sometimes it is battered by storms.

No matter the speed at which it travels, turning this ship requires planning. One cannot just stop and head in a different direction. The economy can react and adjust course, but this all takes time. And there are other ships on this ocean—China, Europe, Southeast Asia—requiring course adjustments and communication.

Mr. Trump’s policies—the course corrections he has ordered—are just now turning the ship on its new course. Here is one example. His corporate tax cuts—which poured billions of dollars back into the profit margins of corporations—drove the stock market up, not the new course he set.

Where this course will take us is the issue. Mr. Trump is betting companies will pour their profits into new growth. Sounds hauntingly similar to another course correction set by a different President, Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics. The trickle never happened and the economy foundered on a rocky shoal.

Mr. Trump inherited an economy showing consistent growth in both employment and GDP. Instead of touting his “business” acumen and claiming to build on this, his megalomaniac ego demands he claim all the credit. Mr. Trump may be the captain of this ship, but if he doesn’t instill confidence and loyalty in the crew—even those who might disagree with him—the ship will founder.

This election will be decided by those who could not vote for Hillary, taking a risk on an untested entity, and by those who take the time to understand that the complexities of our nation require more than grandiose claims.

I fear we may steam at full speed toward another rocky shoal demanding it gets out of our way since this Captain cannot be wrong.

If you do nothing else significant this year, VOTE. Voting is the single most patriotic act within everyone’s power. Indeed it is a right paid for by great sacrifice worthy of being exercised.

Every vote matters!

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the real numbers. https://apnews.com/3750c39f92c817a6790098be323142df

Confessions of a Reading Junkie

T’is true: there’s magic in the web of it.

William Shakespeare The Tempest

My name is Joe, and I am a Kindle-aholic. The addiction to reading anything and everything has plagued me all my life, long before this devil device came along. Kindle opened a whole new dimension to my addiction.

It all began with a book my grandfather gave me. A compendium of condensed stories; The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver’s Travels, Huckleberry Finn. I would carry the book with me everywhere.

Elementary school brought me the world of the Hardy Boys, more Mark Twain, more and more worlds to explore by the mere turning of a page. Reader’s Digest added to the mix. I even read the Encyclopedia Britannica (surely an early indication of my future addiction.)

Reading became an integral part of my world.

When I traveled, I would almost fill a separate suitcase, requiring four or five books just for a week’s trip. The thought of being without something to read made me tremble with terror. I could not bear the thought of being without a book.

I recall one trip to Barbados, where I did not bring enough books to read. I found myself desperate, almost willing to grab a dog-eared copy of some romance novel left behind on the beach just to have something, anything, to read.

But fate intervened at the last moment.

In the hotel room—this was a Marriott hotel—was a copy of J. Willard Marriott’s biography. The whole place got started with an A&W Root beer stand. Who knew? Now I did. Alongside the biography in the nightstand was The Book of Mormon—no Gideon’s Bible here, although I’ve read that as well on another ill-planned expedition—Marriot was a Mormon and promoted his flavor of religion.

This book is a frightening read. In the dark, a reading light cannot ward off the bizarre contents of this most terrifying of religious tracts.

Back then, lacking a book would force me to seek one out at any cost. Bookstores were my suppliers. Then, when my career required me to travel over two hours each day in my commute, I discovered audiobooks.

It got to where I did not even look at the titles in the library. I would just grab a handful and head out. It got me strange looks from the librarian. But I feared the terror of being stuck in five o’clock rush hour traffic, moving three miles per hour, and the book ending more than a librarian’s disdain.

Perish the thought. On a side note, did you know there are audio cookbooks? There are. I listened to one and learned a few things, arriving home starving.

But what put my addiction into overdrive was the invention of two things; the Internet (with its insidious links) and my acquisition of a Kindle Reader.

No more taking notes about other books I might want to read, no more wandering libraries or bookstores, no more looking for old favorites to reread hidden in stacks of books all over my house.

Oh no, not for me. All I needed was a Wi-Fi connection and my thumb, and I could buy just about any book ever written.

Read about a book in a footnote, one-click buy it.

Read a list of other books by the same author, one-click buy it.

Read a list of similar books to the one I just finished reading, one-click buy it.

One-click buy it, one-click buy it, one-click buy it.

On my Kindle device, I now have 189 books. I have the added enhanced reading addiction where I always have two or three books going at once. Since I’ve owned the device, the number of books grows geometrically. The chances of the total reaching zero is, well frankly, zero.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail, where every ounce of weight is evaluated for its necessity and usefulness, I carried my Kindle!

On top of my addiction to reading, I’ve followed a tragic but common path. Now I’ve WRITTEN books available on Kindle for others to join me in this affliction.

(Here is the link for those of you ready to one-click buy it. https://www.Amazon.com/Joe-Broadmeadow/e/B00OWPE9GU)

They say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. I know this is true, I read it in a book.

There is a special place in hell for those who have made it so easy to feed my reading habit, and when I join them there, I promise to bring plenty of good books to read.

Now do yourself a favor, and one-click buy it!

https://www.amazon.com/Joe-Broadmeadow/e/B00OWPE9GU

Hidden in Plain Sight

In a classic case of the “we differ from everyone else” mentality of some elected political figures, another gem of a bill has made it to a committee in the Rhode Island State House.

House Bill H-7203

Introduced by Williams, Lombardi, Vella-Wilkinson, Cassar, and Almeida

The act would allow an exemption for certain state officials, elected representatives, and other municipal and state employees from the law restricting tinted windows on motor vehicles.

It adds a new section to the law on tinted windows with the following language;

(9) Any privately owned motor vehicle which is owned by an individual employed as a municipal or state police officer, firefighter, judge of a state court, or any elected member of the Rhode Island general assembly

Williams is quoted in several news articles defending the proposed legislation.

“Better safe than sorry,” Williams said. “When we are in our cars and on our private time, we should still be able to have that feeling of, ‘I am OK, because that person that is following me may not know it is me.’”

“We have a lot of disgruntled individuals,” Williams said. “In the court system, law enforcement, and the General Assembly, we get a bum rap, and we can face retaliation when we least expect it. When folks are on personal time, we are targeted.”

Where do I begin?

Once again a political figure sees themselves as requiring special treatment because of the demands of the position. A position they sought and accepted when elected.

Now no individual should face physical threats for acting in their official capacity. We already have laws in place to protect against such behavior. What this legislation does is nothing more than attempt to add another shield between the public and the representatives they elected to office.

Setting aside for the moment the self-aggrandizing implications of such attitudes, let’s look at this from a practical perspective.

If only legislators or certain public officials can have vehicles with these tinted windows, finding them out of the thousands of other vehicles on the road just became easier.

If Representative Anastasia Williams and her co-sponsors have concerns with their safety, and fear being identified while driving their vehicles, removing the special license plates they display from their cars might help. Perhaps this didn’t occur to her but the plates would not benefit from this legislative exemption.

Why do they need special plates in the first place? What might be the motivation behind that, never mind that it mitigates the tinted window shield effect.

No, Representative Williams, tinted windows will not protect you from those who might take exception to your politics or position. When one is in the public service, it goes with the territory.

If someone follows you, or you feel threatened, call the police or drive to a police station. I do not expect you to tolerate physical intimidation, but there’s a difference between threats and the public’s right to express their displeasure with your actions as a representative.

You work for us. We didn’t hire you to insulate yourself from us.

Dark with a Chance of Old Temperatures

What is it about the gloomy dark of winter that makes me cold even when I am inside? As time’s moved on, I do things I never would have dreamed of as a kid.

I wear gloves.

I have a lifesaving supply of long underwear—left over from my days as a Ramp Supervisor for Southwest Airlines and many a night spent in frigid temperatures deicing planes—but now necessary for my mere survival.

My religious practices consist of wearing many layers of clothing, both inside and outside.

I zipper my jackets, once considered heresy in my youth.

Winter days follow a common pattern. Beginning with the clothing ritual, I prepare myself for the cold. And for most of the day, it works fine. Even on days when clouds mask the sun, the diffused light still brings a sense of comforting warmth.

But then, at the first hint of sunset, the cold permeates my body to its core. Now I’m not talking about being outside in some howling, wind-chilling blizzard or Arctic freeze. I’m talking about standing inside my house, where the temperature remains a constant 65 degrees until 10:00 P.M., long after I’ve crawled into bed and buried myself in the warmest of blankets.

Inside, out of the weather, something changes. Something unseen. Something unsettling grips me with an irresistible force.

I’m talking about a phenomenon that has grown more pronounced as I’ve added years to my age. The darkness overtakes the light and the chilling specter envelopes my very core.

I get cold despite any efforts to ward it off.

There is no scientific explanation for this.

My religiously applied layers of clothing remain.

The temperature in the house holds steady.

No insidious windchill permeates our hermetically sealed home.

Yet darkness falls and the cold sets in.

Like the cold grip of death, it chills the body.

Which each passing moment of life, the darkness grows colder.

But there is hope, the morning light dawns, and the cold demon recedes once more.

An Enemy of the People

A recent piece I wrote called The Price of War (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/01/13/the-price-of-war/) drew some interesting comments and criticisms; the responses were markedly disparate.

The majority agreed with the sentiment of the article but had serious doubts we will ever eliminate war as human condition.

Many of the concerns were sincere yet tainted by resignation to something I believe within our power to change.

There was a significant number who focused on one or two negative comments directed at the President. In a nutshell, I find him ill-suited for dealing with complex geopolitics issues. His usual act is saber rattling the power of our military. Creative and nuanced solutions elude him. He plays to some of his supporters like a character on WWF, not the President occupying the Oval Office. Latching on to these criticisms, they tagged me as a progressive leftist liberal.

Leftist I am not, but I am guilty of the other charge. No one has yet explained the negative value of being progressive or liberal. It seems the founding fathers of this country were very progressive and liberal about their continued allegiance to the King. British loyalists considered them terrorists and an enemy of the crown.

However, some went full bore, wishing me an unhappy, painful, and imminent demise. I am an enemy of the people. In light of such threatening behavior, I must poke the dragon once more.

I will dispense with the history aspect I so painstakingly wrote, play the role of “advocatus diaboli,” and argue for a more aggressive response to the perceived threats to this country. Since we will never, in the eyes of many, eliminate war, let us prosecute it with vigor and resolve.

Do unto others before they do unto you.

Perhaps my new found militancy will improve my reputation and earn me an upgrade me to plain liberal or, god willing, a conservative.

But I must set the stage with a small bit of history. Growing up a child of the sixties, I knew the godless Russians and the Chinese hated us. They wanted to either kill us or enslave us all. I knew this despite having never actually met a “Chinamen” or a “Ruskie.”

Yet all the adults seemed to know and accept this as fact, which is why many supported spending much of their tax money on building nuclear weapons. Enough to kill every human six or seven times over.

Of course, what they might have thought was to kill all of “those” people twelve or fourteen times over and keep us god-fearing Americans alive to repopulate the world.

Better dead than red, I always say.

What I don’t understand is, if the Russians and Chinese hated us, and for a time we had the advantage in nuclear weapons, why didn’t we strike then and be done with it?

As Madeline Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, once said, “Why have all these nuclear weapons if we can’t use them?”

Perhaps she has a point.

Instead, we waited and hoped the Russians and Chinese would see the fallacy in Mutually Assured Destruction.

They have so far. But the world has changed. Can we afford to take the same chance?

Now it is the Muslims who hate us. And we do not want them to get nuclear weapons, so maybe we should not risk it again. Give the command. Turn the launch keys. Send them to their god, It might be a smarter choice.

One more historical point. Allah, the God of Islam, is the same Abrahamic God of Judeo-Christian tradition but why get hung up on a technicality. As a good Christian Crusader once said, “Kill them all, God will recognize his own.”

Iran is the devil of the moment. The country that hates us the most. It was North Korea for a while, but they’ve dropped into second place. They have a better chance of nuking themselves before they get us. Iran is the “Raison du moment” we are playing chicken with armed conflict. But I do not understand something.

Pakistan has nukes. They harbored Osama bin Laden, the hall of infamy star of Islamic terrorism. They are supposed to be our ally and we could not tell them we were coming to kill Osama. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Saudi Arabia supplied nineteen of the hijackers. If we were keeping score, the Saudis are responsible for more American deaths than that Iranian General we spread all over the tarmac. Once again, an ally in name only. Why haven’t we nuked them?

Since Mr. Trump and his BFF, Mr. Putin, control thousands of nukes, and seem to be engaged in a mutual admiration society, perhaps a return to the alliance we shared in defeating the Nazis is in order with our target the new enemy, Iran.

Oh, wait, Russia backs Iran. Perhaps there’s a reason for Mr. Trump’s confusion with allies and friends like these. There’s that pesky geopolitics again.

I would suggest we approach China, considering our new trade deal, but they may be too busy enjoying their 6.1% economic growth. Why can’t we have that? Maybe we can learn something from them on that front.

Let’s just keep this simple.

Here is my plan.

  1. Recall all American military personnel to the US. Notify all Americans living abroad now might be a good time to visit the homeland. Advise them to sell all their furniture or find a solid storage facility.
  2. End all foreign aid to everybody except other nations based on a Christian tradition
  3. Hold a referendum on exempting the Israelis from this requirement. They are not Christian but, in all likelihood, Jesus was Jewish so that bodes well in their favor.
  4. Ask each nation to support what we do. Make a list of all who agree, add to the target list all who refuse.
  5. Start the countdown.

It makes about as much sense as our current covfefe foreign policy.