Friday, March 17, 2017

Beautiful Chinese Umbrella Dance

Wonderful dancing and presentation: a real treat.

‘One of the Most Compassionate Things We Can Do’: Mulvaney on Whether Bu...

Social service assistance is necessary for tens of millions of Americans. I find it hard to consider cutting services from the most vulnerable of our populations as a good idea.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

On the benefits of growing old gracefully


Now that I am officially beyond the half-century mark, I feel credible to speak to at least a few things I have learned along the way. These are life lessons, some I lived and others I just picked up along the way from seeing the times other people had. In all cases, they left a lasting mark with me and that has led me to write them down.

1. Eat vegetables, drink water  and try to stay fit: There are any number of reasons, all perfectly reasonable, why life gets the best of people and they gain weight and lose their good health. I am an example about what not to do at this point, though I have been trying to take some of my own medicine and have religiously begun to eat vegetables and drink more water. I suppose part of this is staying away from anything that tastes amazing made of sugar, and this includes soda.

2. Use tobacco and drink if you can do it in moderation: Well, no one ever wanted to grow up and be an alcoholic or die of lung cancer. But, it happens. In fact, alcohol and tobacco are life ruiners and it is best to avoid them entirely. However, all things being equal, if these vices are going to be indulged in, it should only be with great moderation.

3. Get your sleep: Lack of sleep can kill someone when done enough. Maybe worse than that, someone who has not had a good night's rest is libel to make some very bad decisions. Being excessively sleepy is not that dissimilar from being on some narcotic. It is just a better idea to get as much sleep as you need.

4. Exercise in moderation: I over-did exercise as a youth. Because of that, there was a lot less of my body to work with when I got older. If I had to do it over again, I would have kept it to a normal, healthy work out regiment and not tried to push myself beyond what was normal. It doesn't work out on the Back 9 of life.

5. Staying married or staying single: There are some people who were made to be in marriages, whether they are gay or straight. And, there are some people just made to be single. The problems happen in peoples' lives when people who are supposed to be paired up aren't, and when people who aren't are. There is no clearer way to put it.

6. It is good to have hobbies: A person should indulge their creative side, if not for profit and gain, just to regularly use those parts of their personality and psyche. It must be very hard to become adled if one's mind is always at work.

7. In all things, do the best you can where it invovles God. Don't let anyone tell you how to pray, or what to believe, or how to have your own private relationship with your creator. Just do what feels natural and let the religious types bark at the moon.

8. Be kind whenever you can, and that means being kind to yourself too. You count.

9. Do the best you can at work: Work hard but don't give your life to a job. It's a cheap way to spend a life given you for only the small number of years we are given.

10. Be social to the extent you can: There is nothing worse than being an old codger yelling at kids to get off their front lawn. Just don't be that guy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The 2nd Armored Division (Forward), Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, Garlstedt, FRG

Former Intel Analyst, 
4th Bn, 41st Infantry Regiment 
"Fix Bayonets" Battalion
2nd Armored Division (Forward)

I was trying to find a few photos of Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, Garlstedt, then-Federal Republic of Germany (circa mid-1980s) and could not find any. At the time, East Germany was known as the German Democratic Republic -- ironically (not a lot of 'democratic' anything going on over there from what I saw). I learned the U.S. Army re-designated a kaserne in Wiesbaden Lucius D. Clay many years after I left Germany, so I am writing about the original Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, which I was stationed at while I served. Afterward, I figured I would post about it because there was not that much on it anywhere else on the Internet. All I found was this rather grainy, black-and-white photo that was undated and really only gives a sense of the kaserne itself. Even a lot of the story of the kaserne has been lost. So, without any further adieu, here is something about LDCK.
41st Infantry Regtiment

I arrived to Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in early December, 1986 from the 21st Replacement Detachment, in Frankfurt. I was transferred from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and there had been winter there -- but nothing like what I had experienced in Frankfurt, and certainly nothing like what I came to find at LDCK, in Garlstedt. 

At the time, the kaserne hosted the 2nd Armored Division (Forward), which was an 'infantry heavy' forward brigade of the 2nd Armored Division (Main), then based at Fort Hood, Texas. I was at the replacement for the Division (Forward) for a brief time and then assigned to HHC, 4th Battalion, 41st Infantry. The other infantry battalion on post was the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry. The 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment was also headquartered there. To the best of my ability to remember, so was the 4th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment; a signal battalion and a support battalion (whose designation I have forgotten over the years).

I caught pneumonia almost immediately at LDCK. though back then that was no reason to go on Sick Call let alone go to the hospital. In fact, the Army back then had its flaws -- common sense sometimes lacking being one of them. Eventually I was treated for pneumonia, though it was only when it nearly became very bad. 
66th Armored Regiment

LDCK was a small kaserne with its own LTA (Limited Training Area). It was one of the first places where the Bradley Fighting Vehicles (M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M3 Scout Vehicle) were introduced. Every soldier was required to attend the HOW Academy once at LDCK. "HOW" stood for "Hell on Wheels."

According to the fine folks at the HOW Academy, the 2nd Armored (Forward) came to Northern Germany in 1978, as a result of a decision by then-President Jimmy Carter to assist British operations in the NorthAG (Northern Army Group) of NATO. The Division (Forward) as it was known, supported operations of a British armored division, as I recall. And, the British had operational control of the Division (Forward) in sector. Indeed, later on, when 4/41 Inf. rotated back to Fort Hood, in 1988, its final pass in review at LDCK was taken by a British two star and his wife. And, in general, there were infrequent visitors in garrison by British Army dignitaries, though this was known to me only by reading The Forward Edge, which was the kaserne's local newspaper. 

So, I was assigned to the S-2 Section at 4-41, which was known as the "Fix Bayonets" battalion because it was the greeting between officers and enlisted men upon passing. The 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry held the greeting "Straight and Stalwart" and the 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment  greeted each other as "Iron Knights."

My NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In-Charge) initially was SFC Craig Fisher, who was a 25 year soldier, the Intel Sergeant at the section when I first arrived. He was a long-time 'Germany soldier' who had spent most of his years in uniform in the FRG. SFC Fisher was an infantry soldier, and was given the position of S-2 NCOIC. I learned some history from him about the unit. At the time I arrived, 4-41 was in itself relatively new, as it had recently been designated such after being the 2nd Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment when he originally arrived at LDCK (what year that was I have no idea anymore). 

There was something different about this post. It was located in 'cow country' in Northern Germany. The locals were a mixed bag: Younger people seemed to enjoy the young, wild GIs from the Division (Forward) in the nearby towns -- Osterholz-Scharmbeck, Bremerhaven, Bremen. Meanwhile, many older Germans gave off the distinct impression they did not, though largely they were courteous to us. I lived on the economy, in Osterholz-Scharmbeck, with my wife at the time. 

As well as being among the first units to receive Bradleys, 2nd Armored (Forward) was also among the first to receive the then-brand new MI Abrams Main Battle Tank. Another first was that infantrymen (originally designated 11B) from LDCK were among the first to go through specialized Bradley training to become the MOS 11M (a Bradley designator for infantrymen). Of some note, when the M1 first was fielded, it had a 105mm main gun, which was later dropped in favor of the 120mm main gun. And, while I was at LDCK, its improvements included going from homogenous steel to depleted uranium. Only later in my tenure at LDCK would the M1 receive the designation M1A1.

At the time, the Division (Forward) was commanded by then-Brigadier General Tommy Baucum. He was flamboyant, and very well regarded by everyone within the command. Meanwhile, 4-41 Infantry was commanded by LTC John Voessler, who was someone I came to respect very much and who taught so many of us so much. Of some note, I find no reference to LTC Voessler's name anywhere online associated with 4-41 Infantry, which is a shame because "Pale Rider," as was his fixed call-sign, deserves to be remembered with the unit he cared so deeply for in its history. 

There were some hallmarks of service at 4-41 Infantry, as well as the rest of the units at LDCK. The Division (Forward) spent an inordinate amount of time in the field, compared to either the units I had served in at Fort Bragg, North Carolina or in Ft. Ord, California. 

The weather was harsh. Division (Forward) soldiers were very used to operating in extreme cold environments and cold-weather safety was second nature to everyone. Where soldiers from Southern Germany used to receive cold weather training in Northern Germany every year, the Division (Forward) (which was the northern most home of American maneuver forces in Europe) annually received its cold weather training in Boris and Oksbol, Denmark. There was a former refugee camp in Oksbol that had been converted into military use over the years and regularly headquartered visiting units. Boris and Oksbol are the coldest places where I have ever been and never before or since have I seen anti-freeze freeze. 

The Division (Forward) was in garrison more than its three maneuver battalions, and it was no surprise if one or two of its maneuver battalions were gone at the same time doing some training or other somewhere. 

Between regular gunnery in Grafenwohr-Hohenfels, REFORGER, certain rail exercises, cold weather training or whatever else came down the pike, 2nd Armored Division (Forward) soldiers were, it seemed then and now, mostly living in the field. However, the 'field' was occasionally different from what I was used to as a soldier. This unit was very good at rail movements for armored vehicles, which is art and science. Railcars we used to transport M113s, Bradleys, M1A1s, M88s and the like and were not designed to such specifications perfectly. And, these vehicles only just fit on the railcars. If drivers or ground guides were as much as a few inches off when guiding these behemoths onto these cars, these vehicles would have capsized onto the ground. How could that be good for anyone? So, one either learned how to do this well, or things became very scary. 

There were times when encampments were in occupied villages or towns, or just outside of them. There were times when armored vehicles convoyed on busy public highways or thoroughfares. Maneuver training sometimes happened in areas occupied by German nationals, though the Army went out of its way to work as unobtrusively as possible. Frequently, American units worked with Dutch, FRG and British forces. In one instance, the Division (Forward) even worked with elements of the French Army in training.

In short, garrison life was short-lived in the "Iron Deuce." In the rear soldiers, particularly those from the maneuver battalions and the artillery battalion, seemed to be given some leeway with schedules to allow for time with families and time off. The soldiers were young and prone to frequently going out and getting in trouble the way that soldiers have always, in time immemorial fashion.  At the kaserne, though, in my experience at 4-41, vehicle maintenance, field readiness, personal fitness and tactical training were paramount. Yes, the fellows were given a longer rope than ordinarily back at the kaserne, but no one wanted to be on the wrong side of training requirements. Business was business. 
Then Specialist Jim Purcell at the Hohenfels Training Area (1987)

The Division (Forward) was a family, in the truest sense of any word I have ever known. In 4-41, we knew each other better than our wives and loved ones did, we certainly spent more time with each other in almost every condition than they did. It was a clannish place, where friendship was taken very seriously, and soldiers were very lucky to have leaders they could generally respect very much. Good leadership is not something assured in every army, at every post, at every time. This was a very combat-ready unit that was used to working in extremely harsh weather and terrain environments and which was easily able to work with a wide array of NATO units. By modern standards, I suppose, much of its equipment was antiquated and basic. Still, if given the choice, 4-41 Infantry and the Division (Forward) would have been and still is my first choice to have served in would the balloon have gone up for the Third World War in Europe during the 1980s.

I was made a corporal in Germany, and after returning to Fort Hood, Texas, in 1988 with the unit, an exception was made and I was assigned as the S-2 intelligence sergeant. Normally, the S-2 NCOIC job went to a senior infantry non-commissioned officer. However, the then-commander, LTC John Vermillion, thought it was a good idea to retain me there instead -- and I was promoted to sergeant, E-5 and served at this despite being an intelligence analyst and not serving in an infantry MOS at that time. 

No one can capture the whole spirit of a unit with words, or pictures. These are the things left to memory, sad to say since memory is such a fallible thing. It was the finest unit I ever served in, though, and there were many fine units I was assigned to during my tenure in the Army. However, those are other stories. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Elton John - Philadelphia Freedom (Captain Fantastic 13 of 13)

Chronicles Go Over 30K Page Views

Thank you Chronicles readers, over 30,000 page views. You stopping by has meant so much, please keep it up! 

Jim Purcell

Chicago's Hide Out Inn

Chicago's own secret place to have a good time -- the Hide Out Inn, 1354 W Wabasania Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Tel: (773) 227-4433

It's been some years -- like eight -- but I have always meant to post something about the Hide Out. It is a small place, but with a rich history of mobsters from the Prohibition Days of Old Chicago. Today, it is a great small venue and a lot of the literary types hang around there, as well as musicians.

The food was great. You can't be afraid of closed in spaces if you go, but if you are okay with that then expect a good old-fashioned time. The service, as I recall, was friendly and very good.

It's out of the way but not too far out of the way, which is good. The bands are especially good here. Meanwhile, the beer is cold, the food is hearty and the facilities are clean. You meet a lot of interesting people here and the conversations are great. Someone should write a book just about this place.

Sen. Bob Menendez: A Great Orator, But A Controversial Figure

Photo by Jim Purcell
U.S. Senator. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on the 
Campaign Trail for U.S. Senate in 2006. 

I first heard the name Bob Menendez when I was a correspondent for The Jersey Journal, working for the late and very great editor Peter Weiss there. Even in bringing up his name in passing, I will always say it was one of the great honors of my life to work for a journalist of his stature. 

Peter told me stories about the famed Hudson County Demcoratic bosses, the good and the bad of them. Of course, a lot of those stories were relegated to myth and legend and there was no actual proof about half of what he said, and he was sure to tell me that. In that fabled company of North Jersey decision-makers, Bob Menendez figured prominently by the time my byline was showing up in the Journal. 

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, United States Senator Robert "Bob" Menendez was born in New York City, the son of Cuban immigrants on January 1, 1954. His family moved to Union City, New Jersey, which is in Hudson County. He is a graduate of St. Peter's College, in Jersey City, and went on to graduate from the Rutgers University School of Law (in Newark). He was then elected to the New Jersey Legislature, then the United States Congress. In 2006, then New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine appointed Mr. Menendez to fill his own unexpired term for the U.S. Senate as he took over the post of governor from outgoing former Gov. Jim McGreevey

In the years since he was elected to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges in the Untied States District Court. This has yet to play out entirely, but those who supported him sure took a shot in the eye from that. I have no idea if Mr. Menendez is guilty of those charges, and he still has to get his day in court, so I will refrain from further comment in this area. 

In 2006, I was the publisher of The Courier in Middletown, New Jersey, which was owned by New Jersey Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina in those day. I was very involved in politics back then locally. At the time, I was working (away from the newspaper) with Middletown Democratic Chairman Joseph Caliendo to get Democrats elected to the Middeltown Committee. Those were hard-fought campaigns, which were dramas in an of themselves, but those are for other stories. 

For this story, Joe Caliendo and I decided we could insert some flash into the campaign cycle for the election by trying to get a big name -- Sen. Menendez -- to come down to the Bayshore area (the general area that Middeltown was in within Northern Monmouth County) and give a speech. We would make an event of it, if Joe could pull it off with the senator's people, of course. Meanwhile, I spoke with the owner of the Shore Casino and booked that, and got the Color Guard from the North Jersey Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, my home chapter, to attend. 

It all worked out. I think this was one of the first times that Mike Morris from Middletown Mike covered an event. I liked him very much and, before he started writing his very good blog, encouraged him to do something like that online. I think he has done well for himself with it, and for his readers, ever since. He is a hard-working, family man and very grounded.

Anyway, the event came and it went off well. The word circulated through the Bayshore area Democrats and the Shore Casino was bright and the lovely hall was filled. It was typical of political events in most ways, but I enjoyed it very much -- having been a part of bringing it off. What I did not expect, though, was that Mr. Menendez would have such a command of oratory. He is a great speaker, and I do not mean that in some passing way. His command of the spoken word is absolutely mesmerizing. I cannot say that I have heard anyone offer a speech better. 

In fact, if I had to come up with my top 3 all-tome greatest speakers I have ever heard, it would not be hard for me to figure it out: 1. LTC Leonard Scott, former commander of the United States Army Airborne School during my tenure there; 2. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); and then-BG Bernard Loefke, assistant XVIII Airborne Corps commander during my tenure there at G-2. This is my short list. 

I have heard people recount great orators before, in writings and in person. Well, Bob Menendez had that rare quality that can charge the air with electricity. For the life of me, I cannot recall the exact subjects he discussed that night. What I do remember is the way he did it. He was and is a great orator. 

Praise You In This Storm - Casting Crowns

Johnny Cash - Sunday Morning Coming Down

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Stuck in time or walking down Memory Lane: TJK Stadium, Keansburg, New Jersey


I have lived an unsettled life, and this has contributed to me being one of these aging guys who has been a lot of places and done a lot of things. I've been about every place in the world and country I have wanted to go, and I have worked at everything from laborer to top executive of a company, from artist and writer to ditch digger and soldier. I have been everything from a responsible family man with a pretty young wife to a barfly on the prowl for any kind of wizened hag that passes my way after last call.

One of the lives I lived was as a bartender in Keansburg, New Jersey. This was a rough patch, to be sure. I was coming off of some devastating professional and personal losses and was fresh off actual homelessness, living in the woods outside of Lincoln, Nebraska (which was a whole other story). At the time, I was in the last chapter of a bad relationship with a girlfriend 20 years my junior and it was fresh after Hurricane Sandy, the worst howl I have ever been in. My apartment in a run-down flop house in Keansburg was destroyed by Sandy, which is to say my belongings were destroyed along with the thriving bedbug population of the Capuccio Hotel there.

Before Sandy (October 22, 2012), I was tending bar for an old friend, Tommy Keelen, at TJK. Actually, TJK was named for Tommy's initials. I do not know if Tommy is alive or dead anymore, which is a shame because he is or was a nice guy and a stand-up friend. Nevertheless, this is a story about what was, and not what is.

I thought about this after I came upon some old articles about how, four years after I left the bar, there was some big drug bust that involved his place and another bar down the road, Applejacks II, on Carr Avenue.

I remember that bar being so wild. It was a hangout for local townspeople but it got its fair share of bikers from around the state. I wouldn't have called it a biker bar -- but a sports bar where bikers came around a lot. Never have I been in an American bar so much like the Irish pubs I saw in Western Ireland when I visited there as a kid. It was more than a place for some food and drink: It was one of the hearts of the town's community. TJK actually tended to people who might otherwise have no place to go, while at the same time entertaining the younger people, the working people, the upright and downright respectable. But, TJK was this place of non-judgement, where simple kindness could be found by populations of people who could not expect understanding or kindness anywhere else. Maybe it was Tommy who once told me that Keansburg, as a community, was like a carnival troupe. I do not think that would be a bad comparison. Well, if that were true then Tommy was the caretaker of those who would have their tents far away from the Big Top. His place was a godsend to many.
Tommy Keelen and a lady friend (circa 2012)

I did not get the nitty gritty about whatever drug bust happened years ago. Without knowing a thing, I could say the least likely person I would ever know to sanction such a thing would be Tom. He was not that kind of guy. No way. Rather, I would say what I remember about Tom. He was a business man, yes. But, he cared for people who were broken. He gave jobs to people who would otherwise be unemployable -- me for a time among them. I do not want to make this all about Tommy, though it could easily be. The man deserves a book. He was and maybe still is a gentle soul in the world, good at heart -- but with a hard right hook if you want any of that. He was extraordinary, cultured beyond what most people thought in his humble little burg. And, he had a joy in him that was sometimes the best and worst parts of being a kid. In fact, the one and only time I have ever seen a motorcycle driven through a bar, it just so happened that Tommy was riding it. No more about Tommy, but what a splendid fellow.

TJK  served good food, had great characters who went there, and absolutely thumbed its nose at proper society, the likes of which could be found in nearby Middletown or Rumson. The bands were loud and the dance floors were filled with all forms of humanity on Friday and Saturday nights. The last time I danced so hard I was dripping with sweat and dog tired was there (of note, it was my night off). The food was good at TJK. Some of it, like the seafood, was amazing. Everyone knew how to cook and cook well -- Tommy taught everyone. Meanwhile, the beer was freezing and there were a lot of choices for a fair amount of money. No doubt, if I were to be fortunate enough to be granted entrance to heaven at the end of my days, heaven would not generally be TJK. However, TJK would certainly be somewhere over the wrong side of the heavenly tracks.

Could someone find a fight at TJK if they were looking for it? Yes. Maybe even if they weren't looking for it at the wrong place and time. But, the bar was not someplace where lawyers and accounts went. TJK was a place for honest, simple people who were not afraid of the world around them. It was not fancy. No one was talking about the next big business merger there. It was easy enough there -- you drank, you danced, played pool, watched a ball game, bitched about your boss or your wife, maybe you fell in love on the most perfect night of your life. Maybe you broke up with your girl there.
Tommy driving his Harley out of the bar at TJK in 2012

TJK was the best bar I have come across on three continents and several counties. And, along Memory Lane, it is a nice place to stop. Of course, this is the only place it resides now, as it is permanently closed. Well, the only constant is that things change. Yet, it is also said that nothing good lasts forever. I will leave it there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump Seeks $54B Military, Security Increase in Spending Plan

Donald Trump seeks to increase military spending $54B
Military Defense Increases to $603B, All Non-Defense Spending Shrinks to $462B


According to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration has proposed a $54 billion military and security spending increase for the coming year. Meanwhile, all other departments of the Federal Government would see stark decreases in support.

Up to one-quarter of the Environmental Protection Agency's funding can expect to be slashed, according to CNN.

Trump summed up this budget as a "public safety and national security budget" at the White House on Monday. A CNN source identified as a Trump administration official said foreign aid and the EPA are specifically being targeted by the administration.

The unnamed official said that cuts would come through defunding programs currently in operation in the government that Trump considers "unauthorized" and said, where there is duplication in efforts, services will be consolidated.

A budget "congress" has been announced by the White House on March 16. Meanwhile, Mulvaney said Trump's administration intends to add to the lopsided budget next year when, in 2018, Trump intends to begin public financing of the U.S.-Mexico wall he promised to build as a candidate.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Being a Consumer of Mental Health


There are many issues surrounding consumers of mental health services. It is a holistic problem so its fall-out for people so afflicted are far-encompassing -- from personal to professional to medically.

I am a mental health care consumer. I have Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, PTSD and complicating all of that is alcoholism. Are these 'real disorders'? Well, doctors think so. Living with this mess, I can assure you I regard them as legitimate disorders also.

But, there are people who say that these disorders are made up: not real. They cannot be seen. Well, for that matter, gravity cannot be seen either -- nor can time -- but they are very real as also. Still, I would not offer an argument to detractors who may think otherwise. If the idea is that mental health disorders are not real, then that opinion is informed by the individual.

Where it gets dicey is when those who do not regard mental health disorders as bona fide medical problems somehow convince consumers of mental health services of the same thing they believe. There is nothing quite so spectacular as a mental health patient who does not take their medication. If medication moderates erratic behavior, and it does, then abandoning such medication will give rise to erratic behavior again.

I am well medicated. Yet, even still, there are those days when depression and/or anxiety gets through. There are days when medication will fall short. There will be times of challenge, even regulated by a well thought-out plan for meds and despite regular talk therapy.

The mental health consumer has to know that not everything will be 'solved' for all times with talk therapy and medications. All these things do for me is give me a fighting chance to interdict very difficult emotions, feelings and moods.

When a mental health consumer is un-medicated, though, they have very few tools to work with, if any, There is always talk about support networks, and support networks of other people can literally be the difference between life and death at their most necessary. However, I would say to measure people in your networks. Be sure that they are people who can handle 'your crazy,' for lack of a better term. They also need to be people who know when it is time to get professional services involved.

Living with mental health disorders is hard. It is not a zero-defect situation. If it were then there would be a shot and  -- boom -- no more mental health problems. This is not the case yet. Maybe some day.

I am writing this just to bring up the challenges of living with mental health disorders, maybe to remind people who have fallen away from treatment to consider it again -- at the very least to let other consumers of mental health services to know they are not alone.

A Basic Human Need: Ending Housing Discrimination for Mental Health Cons...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

George Washington: Lessons in Leadership

President George Washington Born This Day in History: Feb. 22, 1797

It is too easy to fill the page full of amazing and great things about America's first president, George Washington. In all of America and its history, he is perhaps the most deserving and popular of all citizens.

George Washington was a farmer, a surveyor, a citizen-soldier and adventurer, general, president and statesman.The United States needed, at one time or another, all of Washington's considerable talents.

Now, more than two centuries later, after historians have long finished their weighing and judging of this man, it is still universally believed that there would be no United States of America without him.

For more information about President Washington, please click on this LINK. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Generations: Mom and Dad


My parents were from the World War II Generation, which they characterized as the Depression Era Generation. They were an uncommon people, and thank God for them, which is not to say that there were not a lot of problems with those folks. They just seemed to to make things work out, though, for the most part.

My father was born in 1919 and my mom was born in 1925. They were products of their environment, which is to say they were from Newark, New Jersey and were both from Irish-American families whose feet were still wet from walking off the boat. They were part of a community of people like them: Irish people. A portion of those people had some kind of life in Ireland before, some didn't. Those who didn't were being raised by parents who still bought into a lot of the traditions from the Old Country.

I remark on this because the same things was true of Italian-American communities, German-American communities, Polish get the idea. There were communities where people were essentially homogeneous and maintained what they thought of as 'pure racial lines' among White people. Of course, if White people were so hung up on whatever country their parents were from and someone from another Caucasian experience was considered different or 'other,' then how Whites looked at Blacks or Latinos must have been liked they were from the moon. In fact, that was how they looked at Blacks and Latinos. Mom and Dad thought there was a place for Blacks and Latinos in their community -- on the other side of it in their own part of town where they lived their lives among one another.

With that said, how people who were so self-segregated and who believed so much in tradition could cooperate together to do something so phenomenal as winning the kind of World War they fought, and establish the industrial-manufacturing/pre-technological society they did astounds me. My parents did not like the fact that I rebelled against their traditions or notions of right or wrong. Maybe every generation does that, though, to make their own mark. Still, I recognize what my parents did, and their generation.And, my parents were very ordinary in the ranks of their peers.

Dad was a street kid when he was very young, who easily could have fit in to the mold of one of the "Dead End Kids" of the 1930s. He loved his parents and went to school when he could, earned whatever money he might find for his family and played sports when there was a chance to do it. He was a working man, not an intellectual or academically inclined. During the war, he was already in the New Jersey Army National Guard, where he was a combat engineer. So, he knew what he was going to do during the war. He was one of those brave souls who fought in Normandy and came to liberate Europe on June 6, 1944. I cannot imagine the rare variety of hell that was. After the war, he came home and owned a taxi company briefly before he settled down and became an oil truck driver for Liberty Fuel Company, in Linden, which was his last job in life. He worked it for 30 years. He married a pretty girl from the neighborhood, had two sons, bought a house in the suburbs and did everything his generation expected from him.

Mom had a common story. She was from a big family. Mom loved her parents and did not like school. She was very social and well liked. During the Depression, she did without, helped her family make things stretch for the good of the household. She was a 'good girl' who went to church and went to dances at church and school. Then the war came and she became a factory worker very much in the picture of "Rosie the Riveter." She worked on an assembly line in Edison, helping to create component parts for tanks being used to fight the Axis.

These people were part of a team -- they did their best in teams. Their generation was able to come together like no other generation has in the history of this country -- including that of the Founding Fathers -- and fight back a darkness from the face of the world that would have consumed light as efficiently as a black hole from space. And, they made it look as easy as it could have looked. They bore terrible sacrifices and hardships, and did it all with a grit and determination that informed the world 'they got this.' No matter what it was.

My mom and dad were uncommon for the achievements they had in their life. But, they were part of a larger class of people, Americans from every walk of life and color who, as a group of contemporaries, were so dynamic and industrious.

A friend of mine, who was from my parent's generation, died about a week ago. John was affable, good-natured and cut the perfect image of a kindly and benevolent grandfather. Even as he was dying, he had a serenity and hard-earned peace about him that gave a lesson to everyone who met him: Live life well, do things right and fight the good fight. During the war, John was an infantryman in the 45th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. His unit, nicknamed the "Golden Lions," were savaged by the last gasp of Hitler's army. John's experiences are not easy to identify with, but they are easy to appreciate. He was a hero at a time when there were so many everyday heroes.

The Depression Era Generation cannot be put into a neat, spare box and quantify them in a few words. They were forward-reaching, if not forward-thinking. They were dynamic and a force to be reckoned with. They could accomplish anything from building marvels of engineering to fighting Adolf Hitler or, if they had showed up wanting to fight, Martians or enormous sea creatures. Still, that generation struggled with diversity and civil rights. They struggled with the role of the individual in society and what place society has in the lives of individuals. No, this generation was not good at sorting out everything. They left a lot to do for the rest of us who came afterward. But, we should all feel very lucky for them because they allow us the opportunity to have those conversations, those arguments, in a relatively free world where individual expression still has meaning. Because if the Depression Era generation had not made their contribution to this world, it would be a place of far less opportunity for the rest of us.

I say God bless to my mom and dad, to John and to all of those wonderful people we were lucky to have as parents or grandparents. They carried the water.

Nine Suggestions designed to Help Hard Core Criminal Addicts

  1. Continue to promote and encourage law enforcement to use the drug court for relapse prone addicts with a criminal background. The weight of the court and a pending prison sentence is enough pressure for many criminal addicts to enter and complete treatment.
  2. Try new approaches such as have been suggested in Scranton, PA. See article below. Once an addict is apprehended, allow the option of treatment even before any criminal charges are filed. This would be a real incentive for many if not most chronic addict offenders since the charge would not be filed if treatment was completed.
  3. I have noticed that regular visits with the addict in treatment by the criminal justice referring agent will have a positive impact on prolonged recovery. Addicts in treatment tend to forget that they're on Probation or Parole or Drug Court etc. The brief "legal" visits should be once every three to four weeks and must be face-to-face or virtual via Skype.
  4. The recovery process begins upon entering treatment. Legal video referral visits between the referring agent and the recovering addict in treatment must begin {or continue} for a minimum of once every three weeks.
  5. Random urine testing must be done and certified by the authorized same sex treatment staff member, occurring every two to five weeks based on the client's treatment plan.
  6. *There must be continuing face-to-face or video coaching after treatment for a minimum of four years. This is the most critical point to understand considering the relapse nature of the disease. The fear of the {observed} positive urine test along with the encouragement of the coach are essential to ensure long-term recovery, legal compliance and success. {This new protocol is well worth State funding.}
  7. The treatment coach and the legal referring agent should also maintain video contact while the client is in treatment and thereafter. 
  8. All treatment programs know the relapse prone nature of the disease of addiction and should stick to the protocol of maintaining regular virtual contact with their client for many years thereafter. If the legal referring agent mandates regular observed urine testing for several years after treatment, I encourage the treatment programs to comply provided there is State financial support. A very minimal investment for considering the relapse nature of the disease.
  9. It is my suggestion that the State Department of Human Services fund the coached recovery of each client during and continuing for several years after treatment, until recovery stabilizes as demonstrated by the client's new drug free lifestyle. More and more data shows that addiction is a lifetime disease similar to that of diabetes. Think of the need for an addiction treatment coach for a recovering person just as critical as the need for insulin for a diabetic. Based on my experience with thousands of recovering addicts over nearly 50 years, long-term coached recovery may be the missing piece in our present day protocols for treatment. This process is more likely to result in a durable long-term recovery. Credentials for a recovery coach should only require a signed approval letter by the treatment program director. Certification and degrees should not be a mandatory requirement for a recovery coach. Positive experience and the recommendation of the treatment director are more critical. If the recovery coach is in recovery as well, he/she must also submit to random urine testing by the State or by the treatment program.


       The Proposed Scranton Project:

The department is preparing to apply for a federal grant of about $730,000 to fund a three-year program that would offer a treatment option to low-level offenders and others suffering from opioid addictions, before any criminal charges are filed police Chief Carl Graziano said.

If a person successfully completes the treatment program, no charges would be filed for what otherwise could have been a crime, such as simple possession of heroin, he said. That person won't have a criminal record and, hopefully, will have a better chance at full recovery, he said. If a person facing arrest does not complete the treatment program, charges would move forward.

Scranton        eyes pilot pre-arrest drug treatment program

Jim Lockwood, Staff writer/published: February 2, 2017

The Scranton Police Department hopes to offer certain opioid addicts a chance for treatment that, if successfully completed, won't result in any charges filed for potential crimes, authorities said.

The department is preparing to apply for a federal grant of about $730,000 to fund a three-year program that would offer a treatment option to low-level offenders and others suffering from opioid addictions, before any criminal charges are filed police Chief Carl Graziano said.

If a person successfully completes the treatment program, no charges would be filed for what otherwise could have been a crime, such as simple possession of heroin, he said. That person won't have a criminal record and, hopefully, will have a better chance at full recovery, he said. If a person facing arrest does not complete the treatment program, charges would move forward.

"Rather than get photographed and arrested, they would essentially sign what we're calling a 'Contract for Recovery,' " Chief Graziano told Scranton City Council during an informal caucus on Jan. 26.

He told council that the grant application would come before it soon for its consideration. City endorsement of the application is a required precursor of its ﮋling, he said.

The grant would come from a federal smart policing initiative seeking effective prevention and response approaches to prescription and/or illegal drug overdose and deaths, the tentative application says. The programs aim to help an addict get treatment before he or she has a criminal record, "to give them a real shot at turning their life around, of getting a job and having a future," the application says. It estimates the program over three years could help about 100 people, though the numbers could vary depending on lengths of treatments.

The Contract for Recovery initiative would complement Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and drug court programs already in existence, but differ from them in a key way. That's because people in ARD or drug court have been charged with crimes that, even if expunged, could remain on the internet and hinder them from getting or keeping jobs and staying clean, the chief said.

"The difference (with the proposed Contract for Recovery) is they never actually enter the criminal justice system, so they don't get a criminal record," the chief said. "It's going to be a pre-booking intervention program. It will target the heroin and opioid addiction problem in our area."

This effort would take two approaches:

Pre-offense diversions, in which police would spread the word on the streets about the Contract for Recovery to entice those who want to seek treatment immediately.
Pre-arrest diversions of people involved in "minor criminal acts," such as simple possession, and in which officers could offer the contract option.

The Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department has a similar program that relies upon citizens going to police seeking help for addiction. The United Kingdom has a "test on arrest" program that results in mandatory treatment assessment for those testing positive for drugs. Scranton's proposed approach would fall between these other two methods.

Scranton's initiative would involve two treatment centers: A Better Today and Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service of Lackawanna County.

Results of the program also would be empirically tracked by the University of Scranton's Center for the Analysis and Prevention of Crime.

Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon praised the city police department for "thinking out of the box" to try to stem the opioid epidemic. Early intervention hopefully would prevent what otherwise could become a downward spiral of addiction and recurring crime and jail time, Mr. Scanlon said.

"I think it's an outstanding idea," Mr. Scanlon said of the proposal. "If we can get a person on the right path — the sooner the better."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Mob is in the Streets, at the Door


The Patriot Movement: It is an interesting phenomenon. It is a movement that promotes itself and its members as 'true patriots' to the nation. These people claim to be the ultimate Americans, more knowledgeable than any political party, academics, military or governmental active people or veterans, subject matter experts or any other enthusiasts of government or public policy.

I think it would be a mistake to condescend to these people. They arrived on the political scene as a response to societal stress, winds of historic change, economic unrest....take your choice. But, it was a real thing that created them. And, mob rule is not new.

Every mob in history has needed more than just the environment to spark, they have needed the strong man, a relatively permissive society that would allow the machinations of revolt in the first place, and a means of communication to the mob. And, the mob is a breathing, living thing. It has one mind, one focus, it seeks destruction. Indeed, destruction is the point of the mob. It cannot build. It cannot create. It must destroy. Once assembled, it will do one of two things -- it will be put down or it will fulfill its ultimate mission of destruction of everyone and everything that breaths even a hint of opposition. It is humanity at its worst -- it is the illogical conclusion of political thought.

Facts no longer matter.

Realities no longer matter.

Common sense no longer matters.

The mob is a seething, toothy beast.

It is a historical creature, who has prowled the streets of Ancient Israel, the Roman Empire, Paris during the French Revolution, Moscow during the October Revolution in 1918 and all the way to Arab Spring in 2010. Now, the mob has convened here in the United States. And, it is circling, building up its courage. If it is allowed to circle this republic long enough, it will strike.

Mr. Trump is the focus of these people and they have imbued this very self-centered, hedonistic, mentally unstable real-estate developer from New York with super-human strength of character and wisdom. And, frankly, he has done nothing throughout the long stretch of his 70 years that would incline a reasonable mind to believe he has any superior abilities in anything. Well, reason is not in the house here right now. It has vacated the premises. It no longer resides in the halls of power, in the streets surrounding those halls, in the homes along those streets or in the hearts of the nation's citizens.

Yet, when the mob controls the halls of powers; When its strong man rules a mighty nation, rest assured that havoc is loose in the streets. Where will it go? Beats the hell out of me.

As bad as it might get, as terrible as its historical consequences of the past (and quite possibly the future) the mob can be an agent of change -- and even the most brutal change can bring good in its wake. Not right away. Right away it is bad. And, it will be bad for a long time. With America being the greatest democracy in the world -- leader of the free world -- all of that is by the way side in the wake of some mob going loose in this country. I think that is likely.

This mob loves guns. They will use them.

This mob hates people who are not white. Well, we all know how that will work out, historically speaking.

This mob hates central government. And, it will direct its ire against it, probably using the guns they love so much.

Of course, this is if things go as far as they can. This will happen if there is not an agent of change. This will happen -- and innocent people will suffer -- if there is not an agent of change to disperse this crowd of "Patriots." These people are not devils, nor any other supernatural thing -- they are our neighbors and family. They are our friends. They are us. They are simply caught up in something that they cannot control, and God help the rest of us.

Hopefully, things will not go South. Hopefully, this whole thing -- this whole country -- does not melt under the weight of its angst. It almost did in the 1960s. But, Hippies were about peace and love -- not about guns and God. I do not know what is the more deadly of the two -- God or guns. Arm someone with a gun and they can take lives. Arm someone with a false idol and they will take many more lives. Arm an angry mob with guns and a false idol -- do the math.

For the record, I am under the impression that God is about peace and love, caring for the poor and instilling peace among nations. I know that is not a popular idea right now, but it is the one I live with. There is no use convincing the New Patriots of Jesus in the Book of Mark or about God's gentle hopes and desire for us. The mob is loose in the streets. The course will be run.

What is left is prayer.

Sometimes, it takes Divine Providence to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

As a younger man, I would have argued common sense, science, God and recorded history to try and convince a mob from its appointed duty. But, I am not a younger man: I am one who has seen something of the world. I think people are going to do what they are going to do, and relying on their better angels, sense of right or duty is an utter waste of time.

This drama involving President Trump and his followers will play out in American history. I have no idea what the result will be. I do not believe anyone does -- not Trump himself. We are all in God's hands now. Now is the time for those of us who profess faith to have it. Sometimes, the best we can do is get by the day until we catch a break -- Lord knows we all need one.

Fingers crossed, folks. Fingers crossed.

I Love the Lord whitney houston gospel

Mark, the Restored Deserter (Mark 1:1)

SpaceTime - Full Documentary HD 2015

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Tribute To Lt. General Hal Moore: Feb. 13, 1922 - Feb. 10, 2017

A tribute to the late and great Lt. Gen. Hal Moore. If ever there were someone who deserved an easy rest, it is him.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Arby's reports serious security breach


According to a report filed by Abigail Elise for National Curator, more than 335,000 people who ate at Arby's between October 2016 and January 2017 may very well have had their credit or debit card information stolen. She cited a statement reportedly issued by the fast food chain.

Arby's reportedly discovered the security breach around mid-January. The fast food chain has more than 3,000 sites nationwide. Arby's Senior Vice President of Communications Christopher Fuller said, "Although there are over 1,000 corporate Arby's restaurants, not all of the corporate restaurants were affected."

Tom Brady - The Greatest Of All Time

Alright, I want to self-identify as a New York Jets fan. I have no love of the New England Patriots or their stand-out quarterback, Tom Brady. With that said, Tom Brady is the greatest player to ever play the quarterback position and I believe in giving the devil his due.

How Great Is Our God: Chris Tomlin

Better Together: A Sermon By Joel Osteen

My name is Jim Purcell and I operate this blog. I am the one who posted this sermon by Joel Osteen and I stand by it. When I went to seminary at the New York Theological Seminary, a lot of scholars and ministers there disapproved of Mr. Osteen. Why? Because he never attended seminary anywhere. He never became an actual biblical scholar. He is not a biblical scholar. However, he has something to say.

I do not believe it is wrong for anyone getting up in front of large crowds of people and giving them positive words of hope. Meanwhile, nowadays one would be hard put to find ministers ordained in traditional ways. With that said, I invite my readers to click on today's sermon and find strength in this gentleman's words.