A Greatness Clouded in Innocence

But I know a place where we can go
That’s still untouched by men
We’ll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass waves in the wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence

Don Henley, The Age of Innocence

Ever since the phenomenon of Making America Great Again took root with many Americans, I’ve been trying to figure out when, exactly, America was “greater” than it is today, by what definition, and when the decline began.

For the first few years, we were a loosely affiliated collection of former colonies whose primary goal was subjugating or eliminating the indigenous people who were here long before anyone “discovered” America.

We’d fought a war for independence, assisted by the centuries old competition between France and Great Britain, then largely ignored by both. We fought another war with England in 1812-1814 that resulted in no significant territorial changes, contributed to the demise of the Napoleonic era, and yet, on a positive note, started two centuries of a strong partnership with England.

After the War of 1812, we committed on a grander scale what amounted to genocide of Native Americans and, tragically, continued our policy as a slave holding nation unlike most of the western world.

Not much greatness so far.

In 1860, the slavery issue reached a boiling point and plunged us into the most destructive war ever fought in this country. 450,000 Americans died in the war with over a million wounded. But this country was also the site of even more horrendous acts of violence. One almost never mentioned in high school history classes.

Depending on various sources—actual numbers are difficult to determine—somewhere between 10-114 million Native Americans died because of US Government action (note: most historians estimate between 6-11 million deaths during the Holocaust because of actions by the German Government, thus making the Nazi Holocaust the second largest mass murder in history. Let that sink in for a moment.)

Certainly not much greatness here, but at least there was a glimmer of hopeful things to come with the end of slavery. Although the road to freedom traveled the treacherous territory of Jim Crow Laws, the rise of the KKK, and almost universal discrimination against those of African descent. Yet it was a start.

We fought a war with Spain. “Remember the Maine” was the battle cry when the ship exploded in Havana, Cuba Harbor. But unlike the looming attack in Pearl Harbor some years later, questions arose as to the validity of the incident. While initially blamed on a mine or torpedo, and trumpeted by an outraged media deluge, subsequent investigation determined it was more likely a coal bunker fire aboard ship.

As a result of the war, Spain ceded the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the US (which many agree was the entire purpose of the zealous claim of attack even though evidence to the contrary was known to those in command.)

Geopolitics at its best, but I wonder if one can claim that as indices of greatness.

In 1941, the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor and thrust the US actively into the war, although we had been providing matériel to England since the war’s inception.

Here perhaps America took on the mantel of greatness. But the history taught to many of us, me included, gave the impression that the US won the war single-handedly. But if one examines the reality of the war and takes into consideration the number of dead resulting from it, it becomes clear that no one nation was responsible for victory.

History would show it took English Intelligence, American Steel, and Russian Blood to defeat the enemy. We certainly became the dominant power after the war, and if by greatness one uses military might as a measure, no country on earth could challenge us.

Then, with the Marshall Plan, America showed true greatness. Rather than harsh treatment of the Japanese or German people, we tried those responsible for the war and helped rebuild the infrastructure of the defeated countries.

Clearly, we showed signs of how great we could be. Yet the undercurrent of racial discrimination still pulled us down.

We stood firm in Korea against a communist invasion, albeit defending a section of a country arbitrarily divided after World War II, and fought to a stalemate that technically exists today. It would be just prior to this war that President Truman desegrated the military over the objections of many military commanders and public outcry.

It was another glimmer of hope,

In Vietnam, we attempted to recreate the Korean situation, failing to recognize the significant differences between the circumstances. In Korea, there was little local resistance supporting the communist aggression. In Vietnam, the Viet Cong, once known as the Viet Minh, with a long history of resistance to foreign invaders, offered significant military challenges throughout all of Vietnam.

The American military fought with bravery and determination but were left floundering because of the limitations of the US policy on the war (not directly invading the north) and the level of determination by the Viet Cong and their supporters.

Vietnam changed America, for many reasons. Draft deferments for those in college created a chasm between those drafted and sent to Vietnam and those who could avoid it. While significant numbers of those who could avoid service volunteered, there remained a divide within American society. And during this war, simmering racism contributed to tensions among the troops.

On the home front, riots rocked major cities as racial tensions flared.

The 1990s saw the first Iraq War. We liberated Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion and ended the war when it turned into a massacre. Some would argue we should have kept going, but the UN mandate deemed otherwise and we showed great restraint in following it (as we would expect all UN nations to do.)

With 9/11, America was again challenged and rose to the occasion. Afghanistan was both justified and necessary under any measure of international law.

But then the wheels came off with our misadventure into Iraq. Once again, the American military performed flawlessly. While incidents of prisoner mistreatment tarnished our reputation, it was not representative of the overall actions of our men and women in uniform.

Using torture to extract information, however, was more than a blemish. It contradicted everything this country represents. Despite many more rational people calling for abandoning such practice—one that anyone with any common sense will realize is the least effective way of obtaining information—the reality was we as a nation forgot the moral standards we demanded from everyone else because we could.

More has been written in the last few days about some picture on a beer can than about two people shot—one fatally and one seriously wounded—for going to the wrong address or innocently getting into the wrong car.
That is hardly an indication of a great nation.

Joe Broadmeadow

Along with the troubling international escapades came a new antagonism and abandonment of compromise in the political world. We were no longer a people of different opinions working toward a common goal. We demanded absolute loyalty to one perspective and ignored, or actively thwarted, any who disagreed.

If one looks at history just from this perspective, it is difficult to see exactly when America was great and when the decline began.

Yet it is important to remember we also put humans on the moon and made enormous strides in science and medicine. All examples of America’s greatest asset, its people.

What I think our problem has always been is that we forget the details of history, particularly the horrors and tragedy of warfare, and embrace the elements that place us in the best light. Our memory is like an old war movie, devoid of the blood-drenched horrors of lost limbs, horrendous wounds, and the screams of dying soldiers calling for their mother.

In school, much of the history I learned about colonization of the US and the western expansion ignored what amounted to a genocide on a scale that exceeded the Nazi Holocaust.

Not Making America Great

What they taught about slavery amounted to a few Lincoln speeches, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Reconstruction told in a Cliff Notes manner.

The Civil War brought an end to slavery and replaced it with the shackles of discrimination.

Time and reading more developed studies of history have put things in a better perspective. The Civil Rights Act happened in my lifetime. Brown v Board of Education was only two years before I was born. Integrating Boston schools happened the year I graduated from high school. The last school desegregation case, in Mississippi, happened in 2019. 2019!

One cannot claim to be a great country when such inequality exists. What one can claim is these same examples are signs of our great potential. We have risen to the occasion in times of war. We need to do the same when we can focus on domestic issues.

Now we face another crisis. One of violence, particularly gun violence. It is not just a question of bad people with guns, or simply a mental health issue. It is infinitely more complex than that.

The United States has a murder rate eight times higher than any other of the high-income countries. The rate for murders by guns is twenty-five times higher. (https://publichealth.jhu.edu/departments/health-policy-and-management/research-and-practice/center-for-gun-violence-solutions)

Thus, even if one argues guns don’t kill people, people kill people, people are still dead in the end because of violence. Nobody is better at killing Americans than their fellow Americans, with guns or otherwise. But the comparison to other nations should still shock everyone. We are an inherently violent nation for reasons we refuse to even try to investigate.

We went to war when terrorists killed 3000+ Americans on 9/11. Yet we are willing to ignore the senseless violence within the country that takes almost eight times that number on an annual basis. We wring our hands, wrap ourselves in the Second Amendment like some security blanket, and sigh.

We may learn that placing more controls on who has weapons may not make any difference, or we might discover the opposite is true. But in either case, ignorance just allows this senseless violence to continue. If America seeks to be a great country, wouldn’t determining a solution be a sign of such a goal?

Yet our focus is on matters with little potential for harm to others.

More has been written in the last few days about some picture on a beer can than about two people shot—one fatally and one seriously wounded—for going to the wrong address or innocently getting into the wrong car.

That is hardly an indication of a great nation.

This is a public health crisis of the most significant kind and one which, until we resolve it or at least dedicate ourselves to finding solutions, will forever taint any claim to greatness, past or future. That Congress refuses to even fund research into the fundamental reasons behind the level of violence in such an advanced society is beyond me.

It casts an enormous shadow over any claim to greatness. It is almost as if we don’t want to know the answer.

What we suffer from is a longing for the innocence of our past, albeit a nostalgic past whitewashed of reality. It is time we end the innocence of our ignorance and seek a lasting legacy of greatness that is well within our grasp if we only open our eyes, dig deeper into ourselves, and listen to each other.

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The Albatross (or Cuckoo Bird) Around America’s Neck

The events of the last few months—the classified document hoard recovered by search warrant at Mar-E-Lunacy, the indictment (indicatament) from NYC decades in the making if one knows anything of history, and the more than likely upcoming indictments of a much more severe nature if there is any justice in this world—have led me to a cataclysmic decision (to borrow the wise words of the Wizard of OZ.)

I will not waste another moment, make any brain effort, construct another syllable, or expend even one iota on writing about the albatross around America’s neck, the permanently Ex President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump, more accurately represented as a cuckoo bird, acts similarly by placing his ideas and deranged concepts in the nests that are the fertile minds of America’s uneducated, uninformed, false patriots and bigots, in the hopes they would nurture them as their own and abandon any rationality to the infectious and dangerous rhetoric. Sadly, many did. But things are changing.

Mr. Trump has had his moment. He took four years and forever demeaned and destroyed any semblance of rationality and honor in politics. He sullied the once imperfect but admirable reputation and political process that served this country well. He destroyed our international reputation for reliability and gave an opening to our enemies in the fascist and communist governments that have always sought to weaken us.

Instead of Making America Great Again—we had never lost our greatness until 2016—he made us vulnerable.

But he also may have inadvertently done us a service. America’s youth as a country is over. We are no longer the new democracy leading the world as we became after World War II. We are now transitioning from the self-centered hormone-ravaged puberty of the country into adulthood. We now have to face the reality of a global economy where other countries follow what used to be almost exclusively American; scientific and intellectual innovation and domination.

Those who still bask in Mr. Trump’s orange glow will soon realize—except, perhaps, the hardcore delusional—the light is fading. The Tsunami of 2016, the MAGA movement, crashed on the rocky shore of Justice and shattered into fragments of itself.

Whether or not Mr. Trump serves even a moment in prison if convicted of these charges will not matter. History is a cruel and merciless judge, and the judgment of Mr. Trump’s place in history will not be kind.

And even if Mr. Trump finds a way to “walk”on these charges, those who truly care about this country will accept the verdict yet holdfast to the reality that ‘not guilty’ does not mean the same thing as innocent.

So, take this to heart. Even though I know it will be hard to ignore the trial antics, grammatically error-prone rants, and the death throes of the MAGA infection, I will not write another word about the man.

It is a very good riddance, sir. Time for us to Move On!

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
“Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom’s door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

A Letter to my (Future) Sixty-five-year-old Grandson

As I approach my sixty-fifth birthday, my mind (what is left of it) wanders as it often does into the future. When you reach this milestone, I will be one hundred and thirty years old. I will probably either be dead or a regular on TV—if that even exists, it was in its infancy when I arrived on the planet.

What your world will look like we can only imagine.

I thought it might be interesting to compare the differences between the world I was born into, 1956, and the world you were born into sixty-five years later, 2021.

In 1956 the world was in the very midst of the arms race, as the US, Russia, and China sought to build as many nuclear weapons as possible to kill each other 1000 times over.

Elvis Presley had his first hit, Heartbreak Hotel

We elected Dwight David Eisenhower President and Richard Nixon became Vice-President. Nixon would lose a Presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960 then become President in 1968 then resign from office in 1974. He was a lesson in perseverance and arrogance.

Watch out for people like him, they arise periodically and wreak havoc with government and society.

Color TV was technically possible but uncommon.

There were three TV networks, and none operated 24 hours a day

Most telephones, if you were fortunate enough to have one, were hard-wired party lines, so you had to wait to make a call or listen in to others if so inclined.

The movie “The Ten Commandments” was a blockbuster with what were considered amazing special effects. Something you could do on a cell phone today with better results.

Rocky Marciano retired as the only undefeated world champion with 49 victories in boxing.

IBM invented the first computer hard drive. It weighed over a ton, was sixteen square feet in size, and could store 5 megabytes of information. It was astounding technology. The device I am writing this on has 100,000 times that capacity.

The Supreme Court in the case Browder V Gayle ruled racial segregation on public buses was illegal. (Yes this was 1956 not 1856, unbelievable I know.)

Fidel Castro incited the Cuban Revolution.

On the day I was born, July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided with the S.S. Stockholm at sea off Nantucket, killing 52 people.

Not one manmade object had yet made it into space. (It happened in 1957 with the Russians launching Sputnik)

Average cost of a new house $11,700

Minimum wage $1.00

Average annual salary $4,450

Cost of a new car $2,050

Gallon of gas: $0.22

World Population: 2,835,299,673

You came into a much different world.

While we have reduced the number of thermonuclear weapons, there are still enough around to obliterate the entire population which now stands at 7,614,450 (and rising)

We have had our first Black President and First woman Vice President. Hopefully, in your lifetime, this will no longer be considered newsworthy.

Racial discord and discrimination still exist, but at least we are taking notice.

Above the earth there are thousands of active and inactive satellites, a permanently occupied space station, rovers on the surface of Mars, plans to send humans to Mars (which is likely to happen in your lifetime, perhaps with you on the trip), and we have discovered almost 5000 exo-planets in the galaxy.

Average cost of a new house: $408.800

Minimum wage $7.25 ( I know, right?)

Average annual salary $51,168

Cost of a new car $37,851

Gallon of gas: $3.143

But more important for you and your generation, you’ve been born into an existential crisis predicated on a fundamental disregard for truth.

I think it an easy prediction you will study the politics of these times as part of your education. No doubt much future research and analysis of what happened between 2016 and 2020 will offer insight into the troubling phenomenon of why we had a crisis of truth.

Somehow, truth and facts became not only malleable but open to interpretation. We somehow forgot the difference between opinion and fact. Instead of accepting facts that may differ from what some wanted to be true, they simply ignored them, claim they resulted from conspiracies, and just propagated “alternative” facts.

There are no alternative facts. A fact is a fact. A lie is a lie. And any attempt to conceal or alter facts to suit one’s own position is not only wrong but also dangerous.

One can hold opinions on food, music, art, and baseball but not truth, justice, or fairness.

When you are sixty-five, in the year 2086, I hope you are part of a society that recognizes and accepts facts and works toward insuring truth, justice, and fairness always win out over opinion.

I hope you play a part in making such a world better than the one you were born into.

When you look back, as I have done, on sixty-five years of life, I hope you take comfort in the fact you always sought the truth no matter what it may be and did your best to support it.

And I hope you live to at least one hundred and thirty so you can have this conversation in person with your sixty-five-year-old grandchild.

Tell them I said hi.


JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

An Inconvenient Truth of Inconvenience

On 9/11/2001 America was attacked. 2,977 innocent American died as a result of this attack on American soil. The country rallied around the President, who rightfully called for an overwhelming response, and we went to war.

In February of this year, the first inkling of what would be the worst pandemic since the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Flu began to take American lives. The President told us it would all go away in two weeks, or in a month, or by the summer, or soon.

Since that moment 311,000+ Americans have died.

On December 16, 2020, 3,611 Americans died of Covid, far exceeding the death toll of 9/11. And yet the country continues swirling in delusion over what to do. The President has moved on to a new delusion–ignoring the results of the election and claiming he single handedly developed the vaccine for a virus that was gonna fade away in the summer sun–and seething over his own inconvenient truth.

But the response, or lack thereof, to the pandemic is not all Mr. Trump’s fault. The sad fact of the matter is when it comes to reacting to problems whose solution lies in military action, blowing things up and killing people in other parts of the world, we are good at it. We’re good at it because the inconvenience of this action falls on just the shoulders of the military and their families.

But when it comes to tolerating inconvenience a little closer to home, we become a nation of whiners and criers. As a good friend of mine, Dr. Jane Auger, so aptly said,

“After 9/11 we started a war. Covid? Can’t even be bothered to wear a mask”

Dr. Jane Auger

311,000 Americans have died. Of that number, had we been willing to accept our obligation to protect ourselves and others, how many would be alive today?

Instead of our willingness to spend trillions of dollars on military capabilities, why is it we cannot be as quick to fund the means to support our economy while we practice the simple act of wearing a mask and avoiding public gatherings?

A nation that once bore the brunt of production of the materiel in a world war, that saw its people planting victory gardens and saving metal for the war effort, that saw the entire country rally behind a global cause, now is unwilling to forego happy hour or shopping at the mall because it is inconvenient.

There’s a line in the movie Patton, where George C. Scott portraying the general, exhorts his troops before battle. He says something to the effect,

“Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great World War II?” — you won’t have to say, “Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.”

George C. Scott as General George S. Patton

Years from now, when thinking of the Great Pandemic of 2020, many Americans may face the fact they shoveled shit in Louisiana…

The inconvenient truth is the death of many of these Americans falls on us. I hope, years from now, when you think back on those trinkets you had to have, those happy hours you couldn’t miss, those demands you made to exercise your “rights” to go to football games, you find it all worth it.

The families of who knows how many dead Americans the virus will ultimately claim won’t have that luxury.


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Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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We DID Start The Fire…

Two fires are burning in America, both fueled by ignorance, indifference, and plain old stupidity.

Curious Kids: when I swipe a matchstick how does it make fire?

In the western US, wildfires burn out of control, consuming millions of acres of forests, entire towns, killing unknown numbers of wildlife, and destroying humans. Many of our fellow Americans push aside the overwhelming evidence of climate change—the intensity of these fires and resulting firestorms are a symptom of the problem—for politics or because of a vested interest in ignoring the science.

Despite the enormous evidence of anthropogenic climate change, we have a President who ignores it all and tells people to “rake their leaves.” That such an unsophisticated, uninformed, scientifically bereft attitude exists in 21st century America is astounding.

We are returning to the Dark Ages where mystics and charlatans guided decisions absent any rational basis. They hide their actions from us by the smoke of fires of our own creation.

We ignore these signs at our own peril, for the earth is resilient. Like any sophisticated, self-sustaining system, our planet has an immune system. If we continue down this path, the earth may come to see us not as the most fantastic product of evolution, but a dangerous one. The signs are already there with glaciers disappearing, sea levels rising, temperatures climbing, and storm intensities increasing.

The planet will protect itself either with us… or from us.

We repeat the pattern of ignoring problems in hopes they will just go away in other matters, the other fire burning across this country—the fire of racism, intolerance, and violent resistance to acknowleding the inequalities in our society.

Despite the mounds of evidence of climate change and racism, we continue to ignore the signs. The only difference between these two issues is we have been ignoring racism for a much longer period, despite having documented it with our own words. Words written by well-intentioned (mostly) individuals or commissions, published with a grand ceremony, then forgotten when the attention fades,

In 1922, the Chicago Commission of Race Relations published a seven-hundred-page report entitled “The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and Race Riot.” The report documented evidence of housing and employment discrimination and brutal mistreatment at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system.

(From the report) “… investigations indicate that Negroes are more commonly arrested, subjected to police identification, and convicted than white offenders, that on similar evidence they are generally held and convicted on more serious charges, and that they are given longer sentence… These practices and tendencies are not only unfair to Negroes, but weaken the machinery of Justice and, when taken with the greater inability of Negroes to pay fines in addition to or in lieu of terms of jail, produce misleading statistics of Negro crime.” (emphasis mine)

Nothing changed.

In 1935, following riots in Harlem, another report said.

“… The sudden breach of the public order was the result of a highly emotional situation among the colored people of Harlem, due in large part to the nervous strain of years of unemployment and insecurity…it is probable that their justifiable pent-up feelings, that they were victims of gross injustice and prejudice, would sooner or later have brought about an explosion…

The blame belongs to a society that tolerates inadequate and often wretched housing, inadequate and inefficient schools and other public facilities, unemployment, unduly high rents, lack of recreational grounds, discrimination in industry and public utilities against colored people, brutality and lack of courtesy of the police.” (emphasis mine)

Nothing changed.

In 1977, Michael Lipsky and David J. Olson published a study entitled “Commission Politics: The Processing of Racial Crisis in America.” They said between 1917 and 1943, at least twenty-one commissions were appointed to investigate race riots.

Take a look at you and me,

are we too blind to see,

do we simply turn our heads

and look the other way

Well the world turns

Despite the sincerity and good intentions of theses twenty-one commissions, nothing changed. The reports were printed, distributed, read, and forgotten.

The Kerner Commission, the grandaddy of race riot reports written after the Watts Riot in LA in the 1960s, is another example. Well written and meticulously researched, it documented the conditions leading to the riot and was largely ignored.

President Lyndon Johnson, who could not understand why his Great Society initiative—Voter Rights Act, Welfare Reform, and other programs—did not solve the problem, refused to accept it.

Nothing changed.

In 1969, Elvis Presley had a hit record called In the Ghetto, written by Mac Davis. A prophetic tune then, and now.

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
’cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need
it’s another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
People, don’t you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way
Well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto
And his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal
and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto
Then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don’t get far
And his mama cries
As a crowd gathers ’round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto
As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

 We face a turning point in America. The challenges we face– the raging inferno of wildfires amplified by climate change, and the hellish nightmare of our failure to address racism and discrimination against our fellow Americans–can be our descent into Armageddon or our rise to Enlightenment.

There have been times in our history when a leader emerged—often one we might least suspect of having the courage or ability—to guide and unite us in a time of need.

George Washington, a surveyor and soldier, who rose to become the epitome of a selfless statesman dedicated to the good of the country, led us through the birth of a nation.

Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky woodsman who rose to lead us toward reunifying the country and abolishing slavery. Who knows how different we might have been if he had lived out his second term?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once seen as weak and ineffectual, rose to lead us out of not one, but two dangerous dark times in our history, the Great Depression and World War II.

We face such a choice this November. Can Joe Biden rise to this moment in history and lead this country out of the conflagration we face? I am uncertain. But I am sure of this; Mr. Trump will not. He is not the leader we desperately need at this moment in history.

We need someone to quell the flames, not fan them.

We need someone who embraces science and reason, not disparages it,

We need someone with compassion for the challenges facing people of color, not one who openly encourages white supremacy and fear-mongering.

There is one other thing I am confident we do not need. We do not need another commission to study these problems. We need a leader who will gather the best and the brightest among us and craft solutions.

Or the song will just repeat itself all over again and the country will continue to burn until there is nothing left of America…

As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin’,
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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American Impatience: Blessing and Curse

“Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century.”

― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

Americans are an impatient people. It seems it is a characteristic we’ve borne since the very founding of this nation. When the Europeans first set foot upon the land, driven here by several factors, impatience for change played a major part.

The original colonists sought tolerance for their differences in religious tenets. They were impatient with a government unwilling to change and accommodate them. Their impatience with conditions in Europe took hold in America. They grew impatient with Native American resistance to their usurping of traditional tribal lands.

This impatience grew under the boot heel of English domination, erupting in open rebellion to the crown. It led to the creation of a new experiment in self-governing, disdain of royalty, and loathing the concept of divine ascension to the throne.

Our impatience drove us to ignore many of the founding principles—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—as we exterminated Native Americans in a quest to seize their land to satisfy our impatience with the status quo.

Yet, over time, despite sometimes violent changes, we came to tame our impatience and learn to direct it toward the common good.

When our impatience clashed with the resistance to abolishing slavery and the secession of those who refused to release their fellow humans from bondage, we went to war.

Our impatience with the continuous bloodshed faced an ever more powerful force in the commitment and dedication of one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln understood our impatience and turned it to accomplish the goal. It was our most costly war, yet we survived.

In 1939, the world plunged into a global conflagration. Our impatience with the last vestiges of the depression caused us to turn away from the battle as something outside our concern. Roosevelt understood this and sought to help those affected European nations without coming up against our intransigence to get involved.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the Axis powers declared war on the United States, Americans put aside their impatience. For four long years, we fought and died to save the world.

Yet, an element of our impatience drove us to victory—and set the stage for our potential destruction. Seeking an end to the war ignited an effort to develop a weapon so terrible no one would want to use it.

And we succeeded and failed. We built the weapon and, in our impatience with waiting for the inevitable fall of Japan, became the only nation to use atomic weapons.

By July 1945, the defeat of the Axis powers was inevitable. Germany had surrendered, the Japanese were starving, surrounded, and running out of oil. When the Japanese refused to believe we had such a devastating weapon, despite efforts to convince them, our impatience compelled us to grant them a view of Armageddon.

Thus came the destruction of Hiroshima, followed by the obliteration of Nagasaki. Our impatience had ended the war and opened a new chapter in world history. Soon, the atomic bomb gave way to ICBMs—missiles equipped with thermonuclear warheads.

The dawn of MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction — was upon us.

This same impatience has accomplished much good. It drove us to put a man on the moon. To be the first people to leave the planet in the dawn of a new age, the age of exploring the universe. The directing of our impatience into a defined goal should have shown us the power within ourselves.

Instead, we grew impatient with the slow progress and turned away. We turned our efforts inward to more self-gratifying pursuits. Our drive for the moon ended with Apollo 17. While we have the ISS, and Americans are in orbit almost all the time, we are just now recapturing the ability to launch our own astronauts.

Youth have always been impatient, wanting each day to come sooner, to flyby, and then move on to the future they view as both destiny and a better place. Impatience fueled by the mistaken belief they have all the time in the world.

The folly of youth unfettered by the inevitability of death.

In a time when the simplest actions—wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, minimizing the risk to our fellow Americans—are all that is needed to ride out the storm, we can’t manage even a few months of patience and determination.

With age comes the desire to slow down time, savor the moment, fend off the rapidity with which it passes. Yet when confronted with a challenge, we’ve forgotten all the lessons of history. We ignore the benefit of tempering impatience despite the hard lessons of our history.

America’s impatience is a dual-edged sword. Driving us to achieve when others urged caution or sending us on fool’s missions toward disasters.

We are living in a time of a pandemic—a time that tests our mettle. Our impatience may kill us if we do not choose our path with care. We forget we are people capable of patient determination in the face of adversity. We forget the legacy of two World Wars, lost to the fog of the past. We forget the fallacy of our mistakes, lost in the noise of our loathing any inconvenience.

We may have the right to pursue happiness, but often that path is paved with challenges requiring patience.

In a time when the simplest actions—wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, minimizing the risk to our fellow Americans—are all that is needed to ride out the storm, we can’t manage even a few months of patience and determination.

Our impatience as Americans drives us to accomplish many things. Yet if we fail to temper that impatience with rationality, it will be our demise. It has already caused the death of 131,509 Americans. If we want to be impatient, be impatient with those who refuse to perform such simple acts out of pure selfishness.


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Erasing History

The recent decision of the United States Marine Corps to ban displays of the Confederate flag is a necessary and welcome policy. I am proud to say, my cousin, Lieutenant General John Broadmeadow, was the senior Marine officer signing and issuing the official command.

Banning symbols associated with those who once fought to preserve slavery is a worthwhile goal. The flag represents two fundamental and undeniable legacies, slavery and a once lethal enemy of the United States of America.

Some have tried to spin the past into a less sinister reality. But the states that seceded from the Union did so to preserve and protect slavery. Every other rationale was ancillary and tangential to the cause.

These are the words three states publicized in justifying their secession.


The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic…”


“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

South Carolina

“But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.”

Let there be no doubt about it, the argument for secession by the confederate states was based on slavery. They considered slaves to be nothing more than property. They saw the rising tide of abolition as an unlawful deprivation of their rights to this property by the government. There was no consideration of the black race as anything near as valuable as the white race. The south saw slaves as little more than two-legged pack animals.

 No alteration of facts, or creative interpretation of history, can change that reality.

Yet, the clamor to remove monuments to those who supported the south as a way of cleansing the stain of slavery is an exercise in contradictions and a fool’s mission.

These statues and artifacts represent a period in history important for us to remember. Removing them will not alter the past anymore than denying the reality behind it.

To remove the name of General Braxton Bragg from Fort Bragg, North Carolina cannot stand scrutiny without removing all those who may have held slaves.

One cannot erase history, no matter how unpleasant, unless one will wipe out all of it. And that is impossible.

If we tear down the statues to Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis because they fought in the cause of slavery, should we also remove statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or the sixteen other Presidents who owned slaves?

Jefferson himself, while troubled by the institution of slavery, vacillated in his position. While he lamented the practice, he still held onto his slaves.

“I can say with conscious truth that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would, to relieve us from this heavy reproach [slavery], in any practicable way. the cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me in a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected: and, gradually, and with due sacrifices, I think it might be. but, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other”

If we are to remove the name Bragg from the fort, should we rename Washington, DC?

Do we erase from the history books the actions of William Tecumseh Sherman because of his total war in Georgia? Sherman was not an abolitionist. He didn’t care if the south held slaves, he fought to preserve the Union. Are those motivations admirable absent a revulsion to slavery?

Sherman’s own words expressed the nature of his conduct of the Southern Campaign.

“I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers … tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.”

Sherman may have detested the realities of “hard war” but he did not shy away from visiting it in all its terror upon his enemies. Is his memorial something to preserve while we demolish those of Robert E. Lee?

Where do we stop trying to whitewash history? Do we remove all the names of soldiers memorialized in Forts and military posts who took part in the genocide of Native Americans?

Much of our history is written in blood. We shouldn’t try to obliterate these histories but learn from them. These statues and portraits represent Americans who lived during a much different time. They stood by their convictions, no matter how we view them now, and their fellow countrymen saw fit to memorialize them.

They are a part of history that is undeniable, unchangeable, and unerasable. Trying to understand the motivations of those who supported the southern cause is important, so such misguided endeavors never happen again.

They also remind us that slavery was the precursor to something many Americans still endure. They carry scars not from the whip but from the crippling pain of racism and discrimination.

The Confederate Flag should be on display in museums and history books. The legacy of slavery should be an important element of every American’s education.

For someone to display the Confederate Flag today is equal to displaying a Nazi flag. We do not celebrate the causes of our enemies. Despite efforts to recharacterize the motivations of secession, the fact remains that the Confederate States took up arms against the United States of America to preserve slavery. One of the most hateful legacies of human history.

Yet it is important, when those enemies were fellow Americans, that we don’t bury history because it is painful to recall it. Remembering something, in its proper perspective, is different than celebrating or endorsing it.

History is a valued teacher if we learn to appreciate and put the lessons into context.


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In Every Moment Lies Opportunity

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

We have before us one of those moments in history where we face a great upheaval. Often such times are defined by war, ours results from evolution—a mutated virus.

Now in such times we have a choice. We can bemoan the social distancing and shelter-in-place measures necessary to limit the spread of the virus, or we can look for the opportunities within. Wailing and gnashing of teeth about how difficult this is does little to salve our discontent. Crying about the unfairness is a waste of effort. Ignoring the measures out of a selfish sense of inverted priorities is to threaten family, friends, and the whole of the nation.

As a wise woman was fond of saying, “Life’s not Fair.”  That wise woman was my mother and I know, were she alive today, if confronted with someone complaining about the situation would tell them to “get over it and stop acting like a two-year-old.”

Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on the fact you have an opportunity—and the time — to do things that often get left aside in our 7X24 connected world.

Write a letter to a friend, relative, or perhaps a person in the service serving their country in a far-off place unable to be here with their family.

Read a book. Read a book to someone, even if they are far away, put Facetime or some other modern form of communication to a good use.

Take a class on-line.

Visit a zoo thru the wonders of webcams.

Go for a walk (if you can do so without coming closer the 6 feet from others)

Write that great American Novel everyone seems to want to do.

Listen to music. Really listen to music, not as background to your day, but to recapture the essence of why music “has charms to soothe the savage breast.” I find in moments of difficulties listening to the music of my youth is a tonic for the soul.

Write a song, write a poem, list the things you will do when the world recovers. And then do them when the opportunity arises.

Sit outside and look for shapes in the clouds.

Write a diary of these moments so, decades from now, you can remember the things you did and how you overcame any tendency to whine and complain.

Free your mind. Now is the time to awaken or reawaken the magic of imagination, of all things in this universe, it has no limit.

Stay well, stay in, stay safe.  This too shall pass.

An American Twelve Year Memory Loss

In 1956, the year I was born, the world was a much different place than it is today. My generation came into a nuclear-armed world where the possibility of global annihilation rested on the shoulders of opposing powers, Democracy and Communism.

wordmapOr so we were told as we learned to duck and cover under our desks in case of nuclear attack. A mere twelve years before, in 1944, the world still faced Hitler, the Final Solution, and raging war. The end of the war still more than a year, and hundreds of thousands of more deaths, away.

There were no cell phones, websites, or Facebook.


Twelve years later, in 1968, America was being torn apart as much as our military forces were tearing apart the country of Vietnam. The ’68 Tet Offensive, live on TV, brought the war into the American living room as the body count climbed. The military defeat of the Viet Cong lost in the outrage over America’s continued spending of the blood of our young men and women for a failed policy.

Twelve more years pass and, by 1980, Americans were held hostage in Iran, and a new President came into office promising to win their release. What first appeared to be the success of a firm and effective policy later turned out to be political subterfuge.

In 1992, a new chapter dawns. A President takes office who would reopen relations with Vietnam and start the healing process for those who fought there, and then go on national television and lie to the American people. An unnecessary and foolish lie.

Another twelve years, 2004, would find America embroiled once again in an endless war, with no clear goals and no end in sight. A President would commit troops to combat and tell the American people to go shopping.

He would go on to declare “mission accomplished.”

Twelve years later, 2016, the troops were still there. Except, of course, for the ones who’d been wounded or killed after the mission was accomplished.

We also had a new President. In the peculiar institution of our electoral process, more people voted against him than for him but he won the Electoral College.  It gives one pause to consider if we should rethink the accreditation of this college.

Nevertheless, he is the President.

Since taking office, he has shut down the government unless Congress meets his demand for money to build a wall most people agree is an ineffective solution to a complex problem.

And so it goes.

It would seem Americans have an attention span of fewer than twelve years. We repeat the same mistakes, or conveniently forget about them

If I am fortunate enough to enjoy the full extent of my life expectancy, I have two or three more twelve-year cycles to go. Let’s hope we get better at it.

Lessons From Auschwitz-Birkenau

One cannot help but be tormented by the sights of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The sheer size of the complex and the efficiency with which the Nazis exterminated millions is overwhelming. Each of the chimneys in this view are remnants of a barracks that held 4-5 hundred human beings awaiting death.

Emptied and refilled over and over.

The Nazis epitomized all that is wrong with humanity. It is necessary to remind ourselves of the beast within us.

Adolf Hitler killed no Jews.  He used the power of hate, anger, misinformation, and repetition of lies to inspire an entire nation to kill millions of innocent men, women, and children just because they were different. For anyone, anywhere, to emulate the philosophies of the Nazis is the height of ignorance and evil.

To deny the Holocaust is obscene. It is to abandon one’s very soul.

Instead of worrying about football players taking a knee during the National Anthem, we should all be more concerned about the existence of the American Nazi Party and their supporters. Nothing is more unAmerican than such hate.

I defy any rational human being to stand under the gate to Auschwitz, to read the words Arbeit Macht Frei, and not recognize the evil of such philosophies. To stand in a room once filled with human beings stripped of their dignity and realize it was intentionally flooded with poisonous gas by other human beings is to know pure evil.

I stood mere feet from the ovens used to consume the remains of what were once vibrant human beings, all in the cause of purifying the Third Reich. That people holding such philosophies exist today is the worst abomination of humanity. The one thing every American should agree with is there is no place for such hate in our country or anywhere in the world.

It is said that if you desire peace, you should prepare for war. I think a better philosophy is,

If you desire peace, remember the cost of war.

These shoes, taken from a child before he or she was sent to the gas chambers, are a reminder of that cost. They sit alone in front of 40000 pairs found in storage after the Nazis fled the camps. A small reminder of the estimated 16 million pairs taken during the Holocaust.

What potential did we lose with this child’s death?

An Einstein? A Chopin? A Maya Angelou? A Nobel Prize in Medicine?

That is the cost of war and the price of forgetting the past.

At the entrance to one of the barracks in Auschwitz, is the saying by George Santayana “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Remember, Hitler did not kill one Jew.  Yet, with mere words, caused millions of deaths for the sake of a lie.

Never Again!