Author Archives: badbiker

Just a Tad Extreme

Recently, I read a story at one of the online news websites about a man who stalked and stabbed an eight year old boy at an arcade. As is my normal practice, I also perused the comment section of the article. The backstory:

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — A man accused of repeatedly stabbing an 8-year-old boy playing video games at a restaurant arcade had spent weeks stalking potential victims at area shopping malls, police said Monday. “His intent was to kill a child,” Nassau County Police Sgt. Vincent Garcia said of 23-year-old Evan Sachs. Sachs was arrested Friday night, moments after police say he plunged the 4-inch blade of a hunting knife five times into the boy’s back.”

The story went on to state that the accused was undergoing  psychiatric care.

Now, lest there be any confusion, I certainly do not have any empathy for the accused, but I was shocked at the comments that I read about him. It would seem that a fair portion of our fellow citizens feel that capital punishment without trial would be appropriate for the accused and that incarceration for the mentally ill should be mandatory.

The anonymity of faceless blogging does tend to bring out the worst in people, but really, capital punishment? I believe I have thoroughly explained my opposition to capital punishment, so it goes without saying that I am not in agreement with that type of commentary, but I have to wonder what drives someone to such levels of hatred.

Perhaps I am a bit naive, but I don’t recall many people with similar points of view in my journeys. Since when do we take a position completely contrary to the right of due process under the Constitution? Have we become so calloused that we flippantly advocate Iranian-style justice in the United States?

If in fact mental illness drove this young man to this crime, it needs to be dealt with accordingly, otherwise, the court system should proceed as it does with thousands of other cases each year. Despite the desires of extremists. we have yet to sink to the levels of barbarians.

I hope and pray that the eight year old boy recovers physically and psychologically. I also hope and pray that justice will be served under the law.

 


William Stephenson Clark

 

PS: The mine rescue events in Chile this evening (Tuesday) stand in stark contrast with the thoughts of some of our fellow Americans. It has to make you think about the direction we are headed.




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Filed under Crimes, Death Penalty

Photos………………

Well, the photo expedition was postponed until Sunday morning due to a malfunctioning hot water heater – Poppa had to be summoned to diagnose and repair a faulty system – so Dee and I went out this morning.

Flickr is a pain, if you ask me, but here are the shots I promised.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/54643815@N03/

BTW: Six-thirty comes AWFUL early!

 


Will

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Filed under Uncategorized

Get Up!

(Thread photo is of a Kodak Pocket No. 1 – circa 1927. My youngest daughter, Julia, has her grandfather’s example hanging on her family room wall. It is non-functional, unfortunately.)

This is being written on Thursday morning, from the comfort of an office chair, but when you read this column, I will be out in the wild with my daughter on a photo expedition to the wilderness of Western Wichita. The best time for landscape photos – and most others – is early morning or late night when the shadows and light are softer.

I am looking forward to spending some time with Dee, pursuing our mutual love of fine photography. Taking a great picture is a pleasure, especially if the experience can be shared. We will be heading out about 6:30 AM, an hour before sunrise, to be able to set up and wait for the perfect light. Thanks to the technology of digital photography, our “mistakes” can easily be forgiven and we won’t have to worry about having enough film with us.

I began my fascination with photography in the old days, with a 35mm Minolta rangefinder. Soon after, I graduated to a SLR. It took a while, but I belatedly went digital. I still shoot like a film photographer, but I appreciate the flexibility of digital. Now, I carry a King’s ransom of photography gear with me – no excuses for poor work these days!

In the real old days, Ansel Adams shot with a huge view camera with 8 x 10 sheet film and massive lenses. Every shot was a pricey event and there was little room for error. Today, I real off six or eight shots of the same scene to get my pix. Adam’s most famous photo, “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome,”  was a three shot wonder, each shot with a different filter, when Ansel was just 25 years old. Today, I won’t be shooting a similar picture – no mountains in Kansas – but I can take as many shots as I want, with all the effects I could imagine, without taking my Canon DSLR off the tripod.

Photography is my passion. I can’t sing. I can’t play an instrument. I can’t draw. Photography is my creative outlet.

Fnord paints rocks. Wicked is a writer. Free is addicted to Southern Rock. We all need a place of our own to express ourselves to remain remotely (?) sane. What is your passion?


William Stephenson Clark


(Photos will be published Monday.)

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Filed under Addiction

Where Do the Children Play?

“I know we’ve come along way.

We’re changing day to day.

But tell me, where do the children play?”

(Where do the children play?  –  Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam  –  1970)

Much has been made this election cycle about the future of our children and grandchildren, mostly by the newly fiscally responsible Republicans that are suddenly and inexplicably against debt and deficits. Great! It is certainly encouraging that the Party of “Deficits Don’t Matter!” has finally seen the light.

Just don’t ask them why they didn’t do something about deficits and debt when they held power. That is “looking at the past and besides, the Democrats made us do it.”

In 1980, I briefly considered a vote for Ronald Reagan for President because he promised (!) to balance the Federal budget. I blame it on an LSD flashback from the Sixties. Of course, Reagan never came close to balancing the budget and, in fact, tripled the National Debt. The truth is, a Republican president has never even proposed a balanced Federal budget since Ike. Let me think, that is, let’s see, um, ………………………. a long damned time.

Debt and deficits have been hashed and rehashed ad nauseam, so we’ll not do it again here. When the “other side” rails against the “highest deficits and debt in history” feel free to remind them that while the deficit is approaching 10% of the GDP in 2010, it reached 30% during World War II. The debt shortly after the War was at 130% of GDP, far above the current level of less than 90%.

It is completely reasonable to remind people of those facts, given that the country is in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – an economic collapse that was not ended until the War was well underway. Unemployment reached 25% during the Depression. It topped out around 10% during the Great Recession.

The point is that we are not destroying the future for our children and grandchildren. Without TARP and the Stimulus Bill, the economy would have likely slid into another depression, and that would have left a horrible disaster for our heirs.

So, where do the children play? Well, if we want to truly focus on an answer to that question, we would do well to consider the state of our schools, environment and our place in the world. Bumper stickers slogans are handy for those in the bumper sticker industry, but they do little to address the problems of the nation. We need to take faux emotion out of the equation and use real-world facts and figures.

 

 

William Stephenson Clark

 

(Thread photo is the author’s grandson, Eli.)

39 Comments

Filed under Economics

Those Evil Moderates………………………

If the truth is told, I have to confess to being somewhat of a moderate. I lean to the left, hard to the left some would say, but many of my positions are decidedly more moderate than far left. On social issues, I am decidedly liberal, as if it is a “liberal” position to consider equal rights for all and “giving” women the right to decide their own medical decisions.

I believe in giving folks a hand up, not just a hand out. Most definitely a hand out is warranted at times, but it is my belief that most folks would just as soon have an opportunity to make a place for themselves and their families in this life. I believe in the intent of the Second Amendment, a pro-gun position, but I also believe in strong laws to punish those that use a gun in the act of committing a crime. I am against the Death Penalty but I believe in life without parole for those convicted of heinous crimes. I believe in fiscal responsibility but embrace Keynesian economics. I believe in low taxes, but only when they make economic sense. I believe in war, but only when it is in the (true) national interest of the United States.

So why am I “accused,” sometimes in vile terms, of being a far left socialist that is anti-American?

The positions that I have noted should be mainstream, not positions that are vilified as somehow being “fringe or radical.” Recently, I read on another blog that moderates, or independents, are cowardly and ill-informed. Eh? Somewhere, I got the “radical” idea that we are to educate ourselves on the issues and make an informed decision for ourselves. In 2010, apparently it is not enough to label liberals as evil, but moderates fall into that category as well.

The pendulum always swings right when the left is in control politically, and visa versa. This election season the pendulum is not swinging right, it seems to be stuck on far right. The Tea Baggers are purging RINO’s while attempting to win state-wide general elections without moderates and independents.

There is certainly something strange tainting the waters these days.


William Stephenson Clark

19 Comments

Filed under American Society

Monday, Monday………………………………

“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.

Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way.

Oh, Monday mornin’, you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be.

Oh, Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me?”

(“Monday, Monday” – the Mamas and Papas – 1966 – John Phillips)

Ah, Monday, the traditional start of the work week for millions of Americans. The song says, in its condemnation of Mondays, “every other day of the week is fine.” In popular nomenclature, it is known as “Blue Monday,” the day that marks the end of the weekend and the beginning of the drudgery of just another workweek.

In years past, that drudgery was something that the “working man” endured, week after week, so that he could make it to the weekend and spend sometime with his family. If he was lucky, he got a two-week vacation in the summer and took a road trip with the wife and kids to the mountains or the lake. That was his life, week after week, working for the same old company, until he earned his retirement and hung up his lunch pail. If he was relatively healthy, he might look forward to ten or twelve years of retirement before being laid to rest.

Life is no longer like that. For millions of Americans, there is no job to go to on Monday morning. Working for the same company for years is very unusual, given the plant closings and migration of jobs south and east. The company’s loyalty to the worker no longer exists and the worker’s loyalty to the company has faded over the years.

America is no longer home to the “working man.” It now takes two incomes to support a family and to guard against layoffs and job eliminations. The drudgery of the work week has been replaced, for so many, by the drudgery of endless and fruitless searching for a job.

America’s greatness has been the strength of our working class – men and women toiling in our factories and fields, putting food on the tables of their families and gold in the pockets of their employers. Now, the gap between the rich and poor is as great as it has been in  decades and job security is a distant memory.

Where do we go from here? Are America’s best days behind her?

What is the next chapter for the American “working man?”



William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under American Society

A New Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a land between the seas called ‘Merika, the evil multi-headed monster known as ‘Publican crawled from beneath the rocks where he had been hiding for two years and announced that he had a new plan, one that he called a “Pledge to ‘Merika!” ‘Publican was sure that the people of ‘Merika had forgotten his last plan, one that had led the people of ‘Merika to the brink of destruction.

During the last reign of ‘Puplican, the people were led into financial ruin unlike any that had been seen in nearly eighties years, since ‘Publican’s grandfather had stood silently as the country plunged into the Great Depression. Now, ‘Publican has a new plan to sell to the fine people of ‘Merika. Unfortunately, most of the people have short memories and have chosen to believe that everything was just wonderful during the last reign.

The final chapter of this new fairy tale has yet to be written, but the ending is easily predicted. the tale is the same old tale – tax cuts accompanied by promises of cuts in spending that never seem to come.

So far, the multi-headed monster has come up with spending cuts of $100 billion per year, for a total of $1 trillion over the next decade. To go with that, they have tax cuts totaling $4 trillion for a net addition of $3 trillion to the national debt.

Does that sound like the same old fairy tale?

No one is quite dumb enough to believe all of the promises made by politicians during a campaign. Well, most of us are not that dumb, but this new fairy tale goes far beyond the usual campaign rhetoric. For one, it is based on falsehoods. Note:

“It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.”

(http://www.factcheck.org/2010/09/factchecking-the-pledge/)

Well, people of ‘Merika we have a new fairy tale – a new/old tale sold to you by the same monster, ‘Publican, that brought you the heartache of past.

Where is the Big Billy Goat Gruff when you need him?


William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under Republicans