Friday, April 9, 2010



Yesterday, April 9th, I read an article in the Myrtle Beach Sun News by a black man named Walter Williams, who claimed to be an economics professor at George Mason University. The article insidiously described social legislation by the progressives on the left as an unacceptable imposition to those on the right who desire nothing more than to turn a blind social eye on the plight of the less fortunate. He called for a “bloodless” but nevertheless irreconcilable severance of the States that demand limited central government from the States that tend to recognize a more stable order emanating from a stronger central government.

Reading Walter Williams’ Palinesque column in the April 9th edition of the Sun Times left me shaking with incredulous rage. Seldom have I read such a malevolent, bigoted concoction of half truths, innuendo and simplistic drivel. My initial reaction to the column was “go ahead, take away social security, medicare, affirmative action, health care and whatever else you deem to be an imposition upon your sanctimonious, aristocratic concept of social and political freedom. Then you will see just how much unjustifiable misery you have wrought upon so many with so little forethought.

What precisely constitutes ultimate freedom to this “mongrel dog” of academia? Will he be happy carrying a loaded weapon into an otherwise social gathering? Perhaps he would find a sense of self worth by denying poor kids decent sustenance because he perceives their parents as undeserving, lazy or useless. What is it you see desirable in a system of class warfare, Mr. Williams, where totalitarian rights are defined as haves and have nots? Is it your desire, Mr. Williams, to arrogantly dismiss the millions who wander unprotected in an old age without any of the three most significant (and obviously brittle) guarantees of the American constitution? While you proselytize on the ignominies of the Federalist Papers, I am unable to proceed past the lines “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

If you think that “being left alone” while others perish, either here or abroad, of malnutrition, ignorance, disease, filth and impoverishment is the answer to what ails humankind, then, sir, I would suggest that Milton was inexorably mistaken by suggesting that “no man is an island entirely unto himself. “

I read that you are an academic, Mr. Williams, at a school I once recognized as esteemed, but now fear is little more than a think tank for a regressive society predisposed to rewarding the undeservedly rich with the silver spoon of hypocritical indulgence while the masses huddle under a totalitarian government concerned primarily with corporate bottom lines and an increasingly immobile society that sees nothing wrong with the top one percent possessing more wealth than the bottom 95% COMBINED.

The concept of a Christian Hell, Mr. Williams, is a mythical horror I have long since put behind me. But I have read Dante’s Inferno, although I suspect that you have not, and in his system of eternal justice I would place you and your recent comments condoning a bloodless but holy secession right there in the furthest reaches of his ninth circle. You, and those who think like you, deserve no better. As a student of literature and philosophy, I have always anticipated the promise of some form of apocalyptic justice mixed with the sudden recognizable gnashing of aristocratic teeth.

Lawrence Young

April 10, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Ten Commandments

"Outside it's not quite dark
But it's getting there." Dylan

The American Tea Party, a homogenous group of white, semi-middle class people who mostly limped out of some mediocre high school sometime in the 1950's and 1960's and whose consequent entanglement with deeper intellect has been limited to TV sound bites and books written by Ann Coulter, represents the new home grown terrorism. These people wish to threaten those who would defend the very fiber of democracy. They initiated their dissatisfaction with government, coincidentally, with the election of Barack Obama, who, coincidentally, is not white and does not read Ann Coulter or watch Fox News.

In order to enlist in this anti army which confuses socialism and fascism, capitalism and theft on a daily basis, one must subscribe to a couple of ancient looking stone tablets enumerating the 21st century's vision of the ten commandments. To wit:

1. God is an American idol. I love him above all else. He looks a lot like me. He speaks oftentimes to our glorious leaders who relate his infinite wisdom to us, especially the parts about how delusional others can be.

2. Socialism is a prominent evil, but I will reluctantly accept social security and medicare in order to continue my fight against socialism.

3. Hate all workers' unions despite the fact that without them our sorry asses would have never had a pension or health care. Since we never prepared for anything, we deserve everything, including a class A motorhome.

4. We don't want government making decisions about our health care. That work is best left in the hands of Wall Street execs who understand that we are more important than profits.

5. Taxes are inherently evil and serve no purpose. Teachers, public servants, firemen and police officers are overpaid with too many benefits and must be publicly humiliated by those of us who are not qualified to do anything of material value.

6. Guns are our friends and we need to stock pile them due to the socialist in the presidency.

7. Abortion became law in the 1970's but it is all Obama's fault. Besides, God hates it, he told us so. It is in the bible with the other stuff like selling your daughter into slavery and cooking live animals on the bbq grill. It is good to know these things.

8. Kill our enemies before they get the chance to kill us. Collateral damage can be expected, but they are not Americans so who cares.

9. Liberals are actually radicals and mean to hurt us by saying stuff like health care is a right and not just a privilege for the rich.

10. Shout nonsense and trite expressions at public gatherings and refuse to listen to anyone trying to be reasonable. Calm, rational folk are dangerous and just want to tread on the moral fabric of this country. I want "my" country back.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Message For Good Times

Finding myself in Russell, NY on this day two days in front of Christmas is not the most pleasant experience I've ever had. To be sure I love my house here. I love spending time at the fire hall where I am an EMT. I love my 36 acres, the wood stove and looking outside at the misery inflicted on us all by the snow and cold. But therein lies the rub. I hate being inside.

It is only another week that I'm going to be here and then we'll be on our way back to Myrtle Beach. And so far I've enjoyed the Christmas time. Tricia gave me an ipod shuffle, tickets to a John Edwards ("Crossing Over") lecture, new pajamas and 3 months of the New York Times Weekender. Matt and Meghan gave us a house protection system wherein if the house in Russell gets colder than 45 degrees it will call us. Pretty cool.

We had a very good year financially and we celebrated by spending two weeks in China and plan on going to visit Tricia's parents in south Florida this winter. We also presented each of our kid's families with a nice check that should help each of them.

We now have 6 grandchildren and we have two more enroute next year. Christmas eve we plan on driving over to Plattsburgh to spend the holiday with Sandi and her family. Looking forward to that.

If we stay here long enough we may spend New Year's with Kate, Jerry, Matt and Meghan. Then on the way back to our southern home we will stop in and visit with Angie and family.

I answered a survey yesterday that wondered if I would celebrate the season with any religious observances. My response was that there were already too many contradictions in life and I didn't need another one that I adopted voluntarily. Jesus lovers and their smug certainty about the meaning of life piss me off in general and infuriate me at other times.

I've had my moments this year, but in essence I feel comfortable with my life. I have had for the last 36 years the best spouse anyone could ask for. We have worked hard, saved and struggled so that now we can travel, splurge and relax. Next stop, we hope, is England, maybe next year.

Our children are all doing fairly well, obviously some better than others, and they all have the greatest kids. We visit as much as we're comfortable with and it is always rewarding.

I've been trying to (half seriously) to talk to Tricia about moving to France but she feels sure that I am kidding. South Carolina is of course totally fucked up politically but there are some really neat progressives living there so I guess the US is home for now.

We don't know what next year will bring but probably no moss will grow under our feet. We live and breathe to learn, to strive and and to be of use. We are not perfect, nor wish to be. But we are perfectly aware that we can do more. That's enough. To expect more would be conceited. To do less is unacceptable. "Cowards might ask for more, heroes have died for less."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Snowbird

In house terms, we own an old house in an even older town. According to county records, only three families have lived in this house for any length of time. There is the Davis family, who lived here from circa 1895-1935. The Greenville's lived here from sometime in the 40's until 1978 and then the Young's, us, from 1978 until the present, November 11, 2009. We closed on the house on same day that "old man" Greenville passed away. It is a house that has experienced several upgrades over its lifetime. In our time alone, we have remodeled the interior and sided the house in 1988, tore down the old dilapidated garage and put up an attached porch/two car garage in 1993, an inground pool in 1994, remodeled the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom and pantry during the period 2003-2007. Last year we replaced all the carpeting in the living room, up the stairs and in the two guest rooms. In these terms, it is the house from hell, a veritable money pit.

Russell, on the other hand, is a town that has changed but little since we moved here. The (in)famous hotel burned the same year I started teaching at Knox Memorial. There have been about three other major changes in the 30 odd years we've lived here. The Kunoco was built on the ruins of the town's former gas station (which also burned). It is a convenience store/gas station/occasional meeting place for coffee and forgettable conversation. Secondly, and probably most importantly, was the merger of Edwards Central and Knox Memorial into Edwards-Knox, which prompted the building of a fine new school with the amenities of much larger schools. The old schools were closed, Edwards being partially torn down, and Knox Memorial is in the irrevocable process of falling down. Recently, the "corner store" was torn down by the fire department, a long anticipated event due to the fact that the former store was in ill repair and an unmitigated eye sore.

Of course there have been other "improvements". A library was built next to the fire department, new people moved in but others quietly left, the Catholic Church closed, later to become an upgrade for the library/museum and the old library became a health center.

Our house of 31 plus years comes with 36 acres (39 according to the tax records). We have ATV trails over much of it and I've cut wood up there for most of these years. For the first eight years we lived here, it was the only source of heat we had. It necessitated getting up in the night and feeding the stove so that it would be somewhat warm in the morning. Winter mornings could range as low as -40 degrees (F). Then we put in a propane furnace which allowed us to sleep all night for a number of years. The price of gas began to fluctuate wildly around 2005 and we began to earnestly use the wood stove. By 2007 we had both retired from teaching and began to spend huge chunks of time in Myrtle Beach in the winter. Our house in MB was completed in April, 2009 and we spent odd weeks here over the spring and summer, finally landing for the winter on November 8. Our plans are to travel back north for Christmas and to return early in January to stay until May 1st. We had anticipated staying until May 15 but relatives invited themselves up to stay at our home in Russell before that date and Tricia doesn't know how to say no. My reasoning for staying that late was to celebrate cinquo de mayo in MB, an irrelevant holiday to some in Mexico and the US.

Our Russell home is heated to 50 degrees while we are here and the upstairs is closed off altogether. We hired someone to plow our driveway so that the gas truck could get in and then we drove away. Behind us are a ton of memories, including four extraordinary kids, pets beyond number, our pioneer days (as we call them), our careers, a couple recalcitrant ghosts, Russell Rescue, friends and, of course, our share of disappointments, regrets and disillusionments that make up a lifetime.

Our goal now is to live until our money is gone. Then the kids can divide the houses and hopefully pay off their education loans (yeah, one monstrous regret of ours). Please mix our remaining ashes and find an appropriate place to bury them where we can overlook the house and town.

It is raining now in Myrtle Beach and it is an extremely gloomy day, but I got my run in and all is well. How many of us can actually say that? We have worked hard and been fortunate in a lot of ways. Later today we will sit down and read. Tricia is preparing an appropriate meal for a lousy day and the sun's absence is just a passing inconvenience. Tomorrow will be better. That's why tomorrows are made. Tricia and I recognize that our visions have not been perfect, but they are ours and, anyway, imperfection is the root of all hope.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Before you vote your way to hell

Dear District 23,
As you prepare to vote for candidate Hoffman because he is a "conservative", please consider that there is an enormous gulf between conscientious conservatism and the ugliness of reactionary politics. Even if the man ultimately retracts most of his policy statements, which he won't, the results will be catastrophic.

Mr. Hoffman supports the immediate escalation of the eight year old war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in Essex County, the bridge in Crown Point that crosses Lake Champlain and is the only bridge between Rouses Point and Whitehall sits blockaded due to structural weaknesses. Last year we kissed away $620 billion to fund two perpetual wars, a jet plane grossly inappropriate for any logistical purpose and other atrocities. That much money would rebuild every bridge in America and we'd have more than pocket change left over.

He opposes a public option in our health care fiasco because government doesn't belong in our health decisions. No, better leave it where it is, in the hands of Wall Street executives whose involvement can be synthesized to the probabilities of profit and loss.

Hoffman is opposed to ALL pork spending. This means closure or severe reductions to all North Country hospitals, airports, small businesses and Fort Drum. It also promises the bankruptcy of most communities north of Syracuse. Glen Beck would find this attractive.

Hoffman has also regurgitated the flat tax proposal "because it is simpler and cleaner". Especially if you are rich or depend on deregulation, unbridled capitalism, bonuses, derivatives, ponzi schemes and a stock market that fluctuates like a weather thermometer in Canton. Sound attractive? Sound familiar? It should. This is W. economics.

Being a male anti-choice advocate certainly smacks of righteousness as long as you dismiss the inconvenient reality of medically complicated, developmental or psychological issues. If you're opposed to elective abortion, then fine. Say that. Otherwise you are little more than a fool trumpeting some religious hysteria.

So, shall we vote for a man whose principles are largely unprincipled? Is he the proverbial altar boy come to rectify the excesses of our materialistic, godless society? Or is he that society?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I've decided to go rogue, much like Sarah the diva, but in quite the opposite direction. This decision stems from the fact that I spent a piece of yesterday evening watching Sean Hannity's America program on Fixed News. What I perceived from his own rantings and the rants of his interviewees, Michelle Maulkin, Ann Coulter, Kyle Rove and even Lou Holtz, was an America owned by four distinct groups. They are, as follows, and not necessarily in any type of order:

1) The uber wealthy
These people represent about one percent of the American population, but they possess more wealth than the lowest 95% of the population, combined. Their henchmen, who include all conservative groups (Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Freedom etc.) and most lobbying groups. Most legislation favors this group since they have also bought and paid for our congress (state and federal).

2) The Pentagon
This arm of the government secures a huge amount of our annual budget. They are unable to discern between viable weapons and huge misappropriations of taxpayer money. Further, they don't care. Their mission is to keep us bogged down in wars without end with causes that are at best shaky and at worst, long since acknowledged lies and deceptions.

3) Wall Street
This one doesn't need much explaining but I like best the description given by Dylan Ratigan. They are corporate communists, moving without regulation, sucking the breath (and money) from the middle class. They see wealth as a right of passage even though they produce nothing, give nothing, but can never receive enough.

4)The truly disturbed
This includes the tea partiers, Fixed News, the religious right, all bigots, fools and plain morons. Their agenda centers on guns, guns, hate talk, what god supposedly says, guns, "traditional marriage", anti choice and did I mention guns?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Winter is an angry god, a skeptical disciple of human knowledge, but knowing wherein we live and wherein we die. He loves the frailty best because it is easily exploited. He mingles with the depressive as well as the physical aspects of our natures. He is a killer of such prodigality that he never stoops to a mea culpa or even a 'damn'.

He loves the death, oh especially the death. He is an academic of the ill will, of the contagion, of the eventual hopelessness that engulfs us all by the ides of March. But he isn't through, he has oftentimes a month of cruelty left.

I can see his evil face in the clouds, in the parts of nature that a month ago I loved the best. He takes no notice of me, my desires, my needs. No, none of that, but he knows whence I have prepared for him. He knows the darkness of my soul as he approaches. He knows the weary of the earth. He laps up despair like sustenance and feeds it back.

I know I must be gone. Close up this house and make for a land where freezing isn't the norm.

The product of despair and ill will is destruction and there will be plenty of that this season. Maybe he won't be able to find me. Maybe.