Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is President Obama Channeling Teddy Roosevelt Speaking Softly While Carrying A Big Stick?

On September 2, 1901, American Vice-President Teddy Roosevelt, in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair, used the phrase, in regards to American foreign policy, that America should "speak softly and carry a big stick."

Four days later President William McKinley was shot by a terrorist assassin, Leon Czolgosz. McKinley died on September 14, 1901, which made Teddy Roosevelt America's president for the first 8 years of the new century.

Sort of a George W. Bush of his day.

Only Teddy Roosevelt exercised America's power in a less noisy way than George W. Bush, who spoke way too loudly and used a big stick way too much.

Tonight America's current president, Barack Obama, is giving a speech from the Oval Office regarding Syria. Regarding Syria, President Obama seems to be sort of speaking softly while threatening to use the big stick.

The speaking softly, while threatening, seems to be having some results. There have been no fresh reports of Syrian sarin gas murders. The Syrian Civil War seems to be taking a bit of a break. There seems to be a lot of international debate going on regarding what to do about Syria, if anything.

Somehow Russia's President Putin has managed to get himself in the role of peacemaker, doing his own version of sort of speaking softly while not carrying quite as big a stick as America carries.

To my way of thinking I prefer the Barack Obama go slow approach, applying pressure, listening to the debate, to the George W. Bush approach of boldly going where no sane president has gone before, invading another nation to "pre-emptively" remove a supposed threat that turned out to be non-existent, and in the process seeing thousands of American soldiers killed, a number in excess of the number murdered in the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. Not to mention the thousands upon thousands of Iraqis killed during the Iraq War's American use of its big stick, when speaking softly had been working well for years keeping Saddam Hussein from being a bad boy.

I hope Obama's speech tonight hits it out of the ballpark, continuing with that big stick metaphor, but I am not all that optimistic that I am going to like what I am about to hear.

America could really use a Teddy Roosevelt. Or his cousin Franklin. In these troubled times....

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Am With George Carlin Thinking About How Stupid The Average Person Is

Judging by this quote it would seem George Carlin knows how stupid the average person is and that half of them are even stupider than how stupid you think they are.

I have no idea how stupid the average person is. I do know a lot of average people are really stupid. I make note of that when talking to them, or reading what they write in various venues that give stupid people unfettered access.

Like Facebook.

When stupid people lose their temper it truly is an unsettling spectacle to witness. It is like suddenly you are being granted access to the swirling nonsense to which their brain neurons must subject them all the time.

There really is no reasoning with a stupid person, near as I can tell. I know I've had little success in penetrating a stupid person's thinking. When I try, the stupid person usually just gets more upset and gets deeper in to his or her angry place.

The planet is plagued by stupid people both on the micro and the macro level.

Take this whole Syria situation.

I'd wear myself out trying to iterate all the ways the Syria problem is stupid.

I do see a lot of smart comments regarding the stupid Syria problem. People belittling the idea of countering violence with more violence.

If Syria's Assad did a bad bad thing by murdering his citizens with Sarin nerve gas, how does it fix that problem by sending in some Tomahawk missiles to inflict some damage?

I read some smart person suggest that we do a massive flyover of Syria airdropping all sorts of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered areas of Syria. That would not be a stupid thing to do....

Labor Day Remembering Being A Child Laborer In American Agricultural Fields

Tacoma's Connie D called this morning with her usual annual Happy Labor Day wishes. During the course of the usual annual Happy Labor Day wishes the subject of why Labor Day was a holiday came up.

The subject of why Labor Day was a holiday led to talking about our long ago youth. In those days, when school let out in the agricultural areas of Washington State, in the United States of America, most school kids would go from being students to being field workers.

Picking strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, beans, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables.

Our moms would wake us at the crack of dawn, give us a sack lunch, then load us on rickety old school buses to be taken to the fields.

We knew nothing different, so this all seemed perfectly normal, kids being field hands, sometimes under a very hot sun, often very dirty.

Picking berries was hard work. Particularly being a little kid trying to carry a big flat full of berries. Trying to carry a big bucket full of cucumbers was even more back breaking.

The pay was not good. A berry flat had 12 boxes. If I remember right the pay was 75 cents a flat. On a really good day, in a really good strawberry field, you might fill 12 or more flats a day.

You picked at your leisure. There was no one with a whip keeping your picking pace up. A field boss would inspect your berry row to make sure you were picking all your berries. You could get docked a box for various infractions.

I remember at some point in time, over some issue I've long forgotten, I lead an insurrection in a cucumber field. I remember one by one I had us pickers throwing our buckets of pickle wannabes in the air. I do remember us pickers won that particular battle of the Labor Wars.

Looking back on it, years later, years after it no longer being permitted to use child labor as berry pickers, some of what I remember appalls me.

The sanitary conditions, for one thing. Each field had a couple primitive outhouses. Outside the outhouses there was no hand washing device. We were picking food, with this type un-sanitary condition allowed.

Drinking water was provided at the fields I worked at. A big cooler with paper cups. Connie told me the water situation at the field she remembers consisted of a big tub of water with one water scoop which everyone shared.

I do not know who picks the fruit and vegetables in 2013 in the State of Washington. But I know it is not little kids doing the picking.

And that is part of what we celebrate on Labor Day here, today, in America.