Saturday, November 25, 2017

Macon County News reports on LWV disbandment


It is being reported by The Macon County News, in a story titled "Macon Chapter of LWV  dissolves due to lack of interest," in its November 21, 2017 edition, by Brittney Lofthouse, that a chapter of the League of Women Voters is being disbanded.

This is alarming for many reasons. According to the article, the Macon County Chapter of the League was established in the Spring of 1990 and " forward 27 years and as of this year, the organization has disbanded."

Susan Ervin and Maethel Shindelman were co-coordinators of the group and it is reported they began to talk about dissolving the league after membership declined and a lack of attendance by the public at forums and meetings began to decline. 

Ervin said the group tried to hold events at different times and places, but it didn't make much difference. 

Ervin and Shindelman said the local league focused on presenting accurate information to voters about local government, candidates, issues, activities and organizations, and held forums for local races -- for county commissioners, town board and mayor, sheriff, school board and N.C. House and Senate.

Younger members were not joining the league and, according to the co-coordinators, members in the league "aged out" and were not replaced with new volunteers. In addition, Ervin and Shindelman believe that, in these very partisan times, non-partisan groups are not as attractive as they once were to people.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Boy Scouts Consider Recruiting Girls

The Boy Scouts of America have turned  page and are making plans to recruit girls into the organization. This is a controversy, especially given the fact that there is a Girl Scouts of America. My opinion: Break down walls and welcome inclusion. The measure of strength in the world of the 21st century is how much any person, organization or entity can cooperate -- and anything that builds bridges is better than anything that creates walls.

Health crisis looms in Puerto Rico weeks after Hurricane Maria hit

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Donald Trump makes a mistake with targeting athletes

Trump and Curry

According to a headline in the Daily News, my favorite of all newspapers, "President Trump withdraws Stephen Curry's White House invitation, doubles down on NFL players protesting," with the story written by DN staffer Jessica Schladebeck.

Basically, what happened was Steph Curry balked at the rite of his championship team, the Golden State Warriors, visiting the White House. All championship professional teams (and even some NCAA teams) go to the White House to get honored by the chief executive. Well, Mr. Trump, being seen by some as basically not being a strong advocate of civil rights, has garnered a poor reputation in many minority communities. So, Mr. Curry decided not to attend the team event. In response, Mr. Trump made it a big deal that Mr. Curry was dis-invited from the event.
Goodell and Trump

Not retreating from the controversy, Mr. Trump then decided to target the NFL, specifically former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick (known for his on-field protest of the American flag). In response, current NFL chief executive Roger Goodell issues a statement wherein he stated that Mr. Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional rights (in colorful terms criticizing the president).

I have been in both political parties. I was involved in both Republican and Democratic party elections and causes in my home-state of New Jersey. Today, I have no horse in any race. But, I can tell you this: For a president with questionable popularity going after the two biggest sports in the United States amounts to questionable logic. To put it flatly, from what I have seen every day, ordinary Americans are far more supportive of the NBA and NFL than they have ever been of any political party or any president (even the most populat chief executives).

It feels like the president shot himself in the foot with the largest shotgun he could find. I now reside in the Carolinas. Whether it was the Greater New York City Area or anywhere in the Carolinas, the NBA and NFL amount to religions in some places and targeting those critically is a mistake of the "mucho grande" nature.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump did perform the minor miracle of once again making NFL commish Goodell actually look like a 'good guy' again, following his running battle with Patriots future-Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady last year.

Do sports figures amount to political icons? Well, I daresay that if LeBron James made it a point to run for governor of Ohio, I would not want to be the one running against him. It is also a bygone conclusion that, if Tom Brady ever wanted to govern Massachusetts, I don't think there is anyone who would get in his way.

Governing the United States is no picnic. It is hard work. But, I am forced to recall the political wisdom I once learned from the late and great U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), when he told a room full of people: "You're always going to have to fight in politics, by its nature politics is bloodless war. But, the people who stick around for a long time are those who fight the battles they have to, not the battles they want to."

I think Mr. Trump has made a mistake and should worry about the things U.S. presidents are supposed to, which is everything but professional or college sports.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Less Counseling, More Coaching

The Coaching Approach for Helping People with 
Addiction Encourages Self-Respect Without a Label

by David H. Kerr                        

The subject of “coaching” is so important to me that I have focused this additional blog on it.  My experience in the field since 1965, especially with hard-core criminal addicts, suggests that the "coaching" approach as opposed to the more traditional “counseling” approach, may be more effective and for good reason.  I have found that the traditional "we-they” counseling model of help does not work so well for people with addiction who already have low self-esteem.  Just the grueling "assessment" process is often inadvertently felt by many as a "put-down."  On the other hand, the "coaching" model is designed for people with addiction and low self-esteem since its' focus is on encouragement and finding positive attributes in people who will then learn to value their own abilities.  This is critical for them to be able to help themselves and turn their lives around.  

The people with addiction whom I have met include a range of folks from the suburbs to the urban areas, all suffering severely from the problem.  Some have had to turn to crime for their drug money and others have drained their savings.

Hard core prison or jail inmates often benefit from coaching even including video face-to-face contacts beginning long before they leave prison and up to five years after release.  The coaching initiated in prison must continue on the outside through drug treatment, and for 5 years thereafter.  

“Lifestyle criminal addicts,” urban or suburban, benefit from this simple one to one relationship with someone caring and knowledgeable.  This is true especially if the coach is a long-term clean and sober recovering person.   

The coach can be a former user but long-term clean and sober, or a person with academic credentials and face-to-face experience.  Here’s a piece from the coaching federation that may be helpful describing the role of the coach:
See article by Kristine Kelly below and at

‘“We changed on an individual level that [allowed us] to change rules they said couldn’t be broken.” Talib Mustafa Shakir is one of many inmates who are experiencing the power of coaching behind prison walls. Talib continued, “We are brothers working for the greater good of ourselves and others. Coaching is the catalyst for [this] change…how else could you explain eight seasoned convicts shedding tears together? That doesn’t happen normally.” With coaching as their catalyst, a group of men at Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) McKean in Pennsylvania have broken free of stereotypical divisions to form a community that offers hope and support to inmates. The goal? To instill intentional living and reduce recidivism.’

“Coaching wasn’t always a part of FCI McKean culture. Talib stumbled upon it while taking correspondence courses in psychology. While studying positive psychology, he experienced what he refers to as his “Aha moment” when he realized that coaching was based around “the idea of not looking at what is wrong with a person but what is right and moving from there forward.” See complete article by Kristine Kelly below and at

I have found that the traditional "we-they” counseling model of help of does not work so well for people with addiction who already have low self-esteem.  Just the grueling "assessment" process is often inadvertently felt as a "put-down."  On the other hand, the "coaching" model is designed for people with addiction since its' focus is on encouragement and finding positive attributes in people who will then learn to value their abilities so they can help themselves.  Teaching and practicing independence and self-responsibility are critical goals of the coaching process.

The counseling model often looks for the problem(s) in people and in their lives and then labels them - "socially maladjusted," or “emotionally disturbed, or “co-occurring,” etc.  This is the exact wrong approach for people with addiction who desperately need encouragement as well as guidance and coaching in order to gain life-sustaining self-respect.  They need help; they need guidance towards that help, but they don’t need the “client” or other labels.  Most people with addiction whom I have met are not “sick!”  I suggest giving them the label called “people;” people who have taken the wrong path in life but with coaching, support and mentoring, can get back on track.

Let’s encourage the State Certification Board to recognize the experience and expertise of those who coach people as well as those who counsel them.  I was a founding member of the NJ Certification Board in 1980.  I encourage us all to continue to modify and update systems of staff recognition and certification to include “coaching” as a viable and valuable approach to helping people.  I’ve used it for over 40 decades and it’s an approach that I have found to be more effective than the more traditional “counseling model” where we are encouraged to label people with addiction, calling them “clients” rather than people.


Here is the Integrity House site:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Philippines' Duterte is a bloody tyrant in the mold of Stalin

It is fair to call Rodrigo Duterte a bloody tyrant

To be clear, the president of the Philippine Islands, Rodrigo Duterte, will not give up power in five years -- or 50 years. The reason is plain: As part of his "War on Drugs," the Philippine president is sending death squads out to kill anyone even suspected of drug trafficking. It just so happens that many of those suspected of such a thing are mayors and public officials who disagree with him.

Should Rodrigo Duterte ever leave the office of the president, he will likely face criminal prosecution in the Philippines, if not in a world court.

Do not get me wrong, everyone wants the 'good guys' to win the War on Drugs. However, when the Magnetic North of trial by jury is lost then that means anyone can be accused, anyone can be murdered for the sake of what could very well be a trumped up charge. These Duterte death squads have even gone so far as to kill the wives and family members of suspected "drug kingpins."

This sounds an awful lot like a bloody purge, ala Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. The Philippine Supreme Court has even endorsed this total lack of due process, meaning one of two things: 1. The judges of the court and their families will, themselves, be executed for a ruling against Duterte; or 2. There was never any actual juris prudence happening in the Philippines at any time in its history.

I do not care how 'conservative' someone is in their politics. When it comes to the day when death squads are randomly moving throughout the public murdering suspected drug dealers and drug users at large, without any due process, then that is the day when government has become an evil entity that requires removing.

The fact that the current U.S. Government has endorsed this way of doing things is nothing short of chilling. Have people become so cowed by technology and self-involvement that they cannot even recognize the indecency of murder in the name of accusation? I will say this, at least at the Salem Witch Trials there was a semblance of order with mock trials. Even that terrible practice has not been afforded those on Duterte's 'enemies list.'

Monday, August 7, 2017

Is Duterte ready to hand over the Philippines to China?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made his break with the U.S.


The Philippine Islands is one of the most tactical locations in the Pacific Ocean. During World War II, it was a strategic linchpin to recapturing the Pacific from the Japanese Navy. Whomever has control of the Philippines has a lot to say about what happens throughout the entire theater. Now to the point: Is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte planning to allow the occupation of the Philippines by the Chinese military?

It's a good question, and here are some of the reasons to consider it: 1. Duterte rejected new grants from the European Union to protest its alleged interference with Philippine affairs, after he received more than $1 billion in pledges for development from China; 2. Inclusive of his newly minted deal with Beijing is the establishment of significant Chinese contruction and hydro companies throughout the Philippines; 3. While Duterte has scaled back U.S. military involvement in the Philippines, he has welcomed joint naval expercises between China and the Philippines, even personally welcoming a Chinese flotilla of warships to Davao, in May; 4. After saying "goodbye" to U.S. involvement in the Philippines post his landmark trade deal with China, the Philippine president welcomed both U.S. and Chinese military assistance in defeating Abu Sayef (the Chinese now being a player in the Philippines); and 5. Duterte stated decisively that it is "time to say goodbye" to the US during an October, 2016 visit to China.
Duterte has created a new era of cooperation with Beijing.

Duterte characterized the U.S. relationship with the Philippines as for the benefit of the U.S. entirely and derided former U.S. President Barack Obama as the "son of a whore." It is Duterte's position that, for too long, Philippine political decisions have been made in the West. He added, "What kept us from China was not our own making. I will charter a new course." Duterte, who is himself of Chinese extraction, also recently ceded ownership of the South China Sea to China, even after an international tribuneral found for retention of the seaway. However, Duterte stated the international tribuneral was a Western puppet of the United States. He then went on to say that the Chinese are the most powerful military and economic force in the theater.

With more than $1 billion in Chinese investment, besides from the establishment of many Chinese companies in the Philippines now, can it be believed that China would not secure its investments with military power?

Duterte has made it his practice to have long, extended periods of martial law to combat the uprising in the country's Mindinao Province. Yes, this is understandable, to an extent, because of the uprising. Yet, Duterte has, truly, chartered a new course; a course that could easily be undone by a successor in five years, though. In truth, most Filipinos would rather do business with Americans rather than the Chinese. So, the way to guard China's investment into the Philippines, and for Duterte to protect his legacy, is for him to simply not give up power at the time of the next election....maybe because of Abu Sayef...or some other group that may or may not exist.
Can the United States afford to have a Chinese-controlled Philippines?

Bear in mind, with what has already been signed between China and the Philippines, it would be perfectly legal for the Chinese military to show up to 'protect the freedoms' of the Filipinos. They could protect the investment of China and Chinese companies...and the Filipino president who opened the door for China.

Yes, the Filipino people are well known for their love of freedom and willingness to fight oppression. However, against the weight of the Chinese and Filipino military, a Filipino resistance would fail. And, let us face the fact that, unable to either pacify or extract itself from wars in Southwest Asia after more than 12 years, the U.S. military is far from the defense heavyweight it once was. No amount of wishful thinking -- or maybe even throwing money at it -- will recreate an American military that was prepared to fight and win wars. Today, the American military offers excuses about why it has not won and optimism about the future of failed campaigns -- not results. In light of that, the chances of an American military unilaterally displacing the invited Chinese military in the Philippines is small.

Perhaps the United States would have the 'legal' right to wage war should the Chinese military occupy the Philippines or become a satellite of Beijing's -- but lawyers never took an inch of ground.
Perhaps only the United States, with Russia by its side, could actually perform the miracle of beating the Chinese back from the Philippines -- except for the fact that Duterte has already made a peace treaty with Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation, which is a telling move.
I think Americans and Filipinos need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Jim Purcell is an award-winning journalist who has been recognized by, among other groups, the United States Congress and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He is a graduate of the New York Theological Seminary and is a former U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst at the XVIII Airborne Corps.

Monday, July 24, 2017

In Contemplating the Civil War Today

Perhaps it is time to revisit the Civil War.

I studied history at Georgian Court College during my bachelor's years. It was a passion of mine. The field was a study of discipline, delayed judgment, analysis and there was strict methodology to it, as it was taught to me by my professors, Dr. Claribel Young (chair of the History Department during the early 1990s) most notable among them.

As I learned it, no judgment could reasonably be made about a war or some pivotal event without the distance of years and study. I had thought the history of the Civil War was a finished portrait, completed many years before I began my studies. The war was, to my understanding, an unfortunate collision of states' rights on one hand, on the other it was a redemptive moment of American history where -- finally -- slavery was abolished from our national conventions. The Civil War's soldiers of the North were not avenging angels of the ultimate justice, but they were ordinary men who erased the stain of slavery from the American future. The Confederate soldiers of the South were not monsters, but common men who fought to protect their "country," as they saw it, which were the states they were from, largely.

The bravery and skill of the Southern armies were commended, and monuments were constructed for them, they were buried with dignity and their devotion to their cause was celebrated in history books, on video and on film. Yet, I thought it was an apparent judgment of history that slavery was wrong and the fundamental flaw that up-ended any hope of righteousness on the part of the South. The Confederate States of America could not be just or right because it ultimately supported the enslavement of races, and advocated every form of violence against those races.

Well, in the days we live in now, the Confederate cause is being lionized by some reactionary elements of white society. To put it simply, there are voices that are calling for the destruction of peace between races, which advocate an America before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and even the sexual liberation of the Women's Movement of the 1970s. And, the vehicle that is being used to hide these arguments lay in the proponents of "American history," as defined by the ill-fated Confederate cause between 1861-1865. Perhaps it is white supremacy in its death throes amid an ever-changing, ever-more diverse America; maybe it is a racism inspired by an economy that lay in embers from its heyday 30 years ago. Whatever the cause, one thing is clear -- we are a nation unprepared for the 21st century and everything it will bring.

So now, I will give my estimation of the Civil War, being someone who is white, served in the Army and whose family arrived to the shores of New Jersey from Europe a half-century after the Civil War was settled. I see the Civil War as being a conflict where the purest face of evil was defended by a loose confederation of so-called Christians from the South, who had no idea what that word meant. In fact, the root cause of the Southern effort was profane, not just against man but God, in my estimation. If ever there was an army that represented God's adversary on earth, among those ranks was the German Army, under Hitler, and the Army of the Confederate States of America, under President Jefferson Davis.

There should never have been recognition of the Confederate States of America as a civilized army. They were, by definition, traitors to their own country, in the worst ways. The names of their officers should have, rightfully, been stricken from any place of honor in history and they should have been rewarded only by long imprisonment and personal ruin for their efforts. I have always believed, quietly, that the practice of naming United States installations and equipment after this group of profane men was a great mark of disrespect to the actual soldiers of the Union who donned their uniforms and served a legitimate nation -- the United States.

If history is to move over time, and give way to fashion, then I suppose that my take on it is as fair as the next person's. The rebellion by the Confederate States of America was the greatest act of depravity in American history. It is a time when an army, as ill-meaning as those under Hitler or Mussolini, Tojo or Stalin, rose up to defend what was wrong in the world -- with a terrible zeal. Far from heroes, perhaps it is the greatest mistake ever made by this republic to seek reconciliation with the South by not saying it like it was. Clearly, that reconciliation has led to later generations brandishing the Stars and Bars in a new war cry. Thus, it was a mistake.

I submit that no cause ever crafted, with its intention being the debasement and enslavement of another people or group, has ever deserved a place of honor in this republic's history. In the case of the American republic, the Confederate States of America was a time when the teachings of Christianity were proven to be unteachable to the vast majority of Southern States and, as a consequence, 620,000 people perished. No stirring song or parade of garish uniforms, no solemn moments fecklessly given treasonous Confederate icons, will abolish the fact that the only differences between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Nazi Third Reich were a few shades of gray and several thousand miles.

There should never have been monuments to these confederates, nor tolerance of their icons. Today, in placating the South in defeat so long ago, it has stirred bitter embers invoked by the hideous relics of their failed and ungodly cause. Far from being a voice to save such monuments and remembrances, I do say plainly that I cannot imagine what mad thought ever allowed the sanction of such reminders of terribly mutiny.

America has been a diverse nation since it began. So many of our Founders believed at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence that it was a mistake to omit the abolishment of slavery right then and there. Well, it was settled in due course. How could they have known that the retraction of slavery would bring so many alleged "godly" people to riot and murder for the sake of that institution?

It is time to fold the Stars and Bars and throw it in some back alley somewhere for cats to make a home from, not to continue as emblems within legitimate flags and symbols of office within the nation that these colors rebuked. Slavery was a horror, nothing else. It was not romantic and it was not some secondary issue. People are entitled to be treated equally, according to the content of their character, and not the color of their skin.

USS Constitution Hits The Water Again

Thursday, July 20, 2017


John Locke is such an important figure to the American governmental and political process. Though Mr. Locke's work is not well-known to most Americans, his writings heavily influenced the Founding Fathers of the American republic.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Politics Is Interfering With Our Nation's Progress



Politics has become such a flashpoint in the United States. I am not saying 'government,' but rather 'politics.'

Let me be very clear that politics is a necessary evil. In a democratic republic, there are parties and they vie for power during the election season. However, once elected, the ruling party must, by logical course of reason, become the party to rule over all of the people -- not some of the people. American citizenship is, after all, the gold standard of the American republic.

Well, we have a situation in this country where the new "Trump Conservatives" and, to a lesser extent, more traditional Conservatives, are actively demonizing not only the rival Democratic Party but also anyone who thinks liberally or progressively. This is a very dangerous trend.

People of science and technology are, by and large, liberal-minded thinkers. People who are educated are, mostly, liberal-minded thinkers, with some exception.

I think it is bad precedent for one half of the country to go around spewing extreme hate-speech against the other half of the country. This is a bad road and there is no good at the end of it.

Citizens possessing differing political ideologies is essential to the democratic process, and I do not believe anyone is saying otherwise. Yet Conservatives must realize that alienating the poorest, most vulnerable elements of our society, while embracing America's traditional enemies (Chine and Russia), while at the same time keeping our traditional Allies at arm's length (Great Britain, France and Germany) is a recipe for disaster.

Religious fundamentalism of any kind, be it Islamic fundamentalism overseas or Christian fundamentalism domestically, brings inherent dangers. 'Fundamentalism' is a term that amounts to radicalism. The vast majority of people on the earth are not radical about anything more than keeping their families together, making a living, having work and relative safety for themselves and those they love.

At no point in the history of the United States, beginning with the Revolutionary Period, has our nation ever been a fundamentalist Christian nation. Has God of the Christian Bible been our guiding light? Of course! Have we offered burnt offerings and adopted wool clothes and gone about scourging ourselves? No.

Conservatives are attempting to re-write American history in a ridiculous manner. The greatest achievements in our nation's history, ranging from the Revolution to the Civil War and both World Wars have come about as an extension of liberality and progress, not as some hallmark of repression and hard-line Christian angst.

In due course, modern liberality and its sensibility has led some traditional people to be terribly confused and angry about the way things are changing. Well, stopping change in society or the tides of an ocean cannot be done. Nevertheless, stopping change is tried.

Still, the rights of a peaceful, law-abiding, tax-paying citizen must out-weigh the collective self-righteousness of the minority of people. It is the way of things.

In America, most people do not vote. This is no great announcement. This is not 'secret knowledge.' Most people do not care about who sits in the White House or the Congress, so long as they can go about their daily lives uninterrupted. If there is anything traditional, the idea that people want to be left alone by their lawmakers is it.

I do not believe that Conservative hate-mongering or Liberal retaliation in-kind is going to amount to much except for a great deal of trouble for everyone. At this point in our nation's history, we should be aspiring to greater things than we have achieved. However, today we are at a virtual stand-still in many respects because of this political digression into the absurd.

When I was a child, I thought that by 2017 my nation would have been further along in many respects than we are right now.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dialing It Back for a Few Months

Dear Readers,

You guys are the straw that stirs the ice for me. But, I am going through a new phase and am retiring entirely from working at the end of this month, July, 2017. So, I will be putting up content but it will not be things written by me specifically until probably October or so. 

In the meantime, I will be posting what I believe are interesting pieces from YouTube. If anyone is interested in putting any of their original work on the site, please e-mail me at 


Jim Purcell

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Times Have Changed: No Time Machine Yet

The perfect American family scene (circa 1962)

When I was a boy, my Mom worked. She was one of the few. My Grandma stayed at home with my brother and I. My father worked full-time My parents had a nice house in the suburbs. I played with my friends and it was mostly about sports and trying to figure out what boys had to do with girls. 

It was an idyllic situation. But, the things that made that life possible do not exist anymore. What were those? Well, factories, unions, jobs and relatively good wages.

The economics of yesterday isn't there today
There was plenty of work. If someone wanted to make more money then all they had to do was work harder at their job and there were promotions, because business was booming in the United States throughout the 1960s and '70s. The working man having a decent living translated into prosperity for absolutely every corner of our economy.

It seemed there would be no end to the good times. But, there was an end to them. It came when companies got the green light from Washington DC to start moving all of their plants across the sea in search of cheap, slave wage labor markets. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what killed this country and nothing else.

There are angry men in the world who will tell you today that a woman's place is still in the home. To them, I would say I am sure many of them would love that except wages are pitiful and, last time I checked, kids still have to eat.

Meanwhile, the notion of a sole bread-winner in a working-class household today is preposterous. It does not happen, and whatever political nonsense that made it more profitable for companies to be headquartered in China as opposed to right here in the United States are squarely to blame.

Want a revolution that is beneficial, bloodless and where everyone wins? Make the companies bring back their manufacturing and industrial hubs to the U.S. Drag them back kicking and screaming if you have to, but do it.

By doing that one thing, many of the ills that have Conservatives barking loud will be cured overnight: Our nation will experience full employment again, so everyone will be insured the old-fashioned way. Everything will flourish again, and there will be fewer homeless people, unemployed name it.

Men and women in this country would, with the return of manufacturing, be able to do things like buy nice things again, go on trips, eat out more, buy shoes for the kids without having to sacrifice the light bill.

This would have a beneficial impact on the American family, as well. Is it just about changing values that the American family suffered? Everyone changed their minds about having a loving home: children, a nice life? No, when economic times are bad the very first place it is felt is in the family.

A man and woman having a life together is tough enough, add into it a world where work is scarce and holding on to cheap jobs and working too many hours is the only way to almost get by. Now, Mom and Dad have to work, and still not make the rough equivalent of what the breadwinner did 30 years ago. Pressure is on the American family today like it has rarely been before (the Great Depression put a lot more on it).

Nothing will be solved in this country until the issue of manufacturing's return is actually addressed. The business lobby is trying to have their cake and eat it too: 'No, it is more profitably to hire labor for 5 cents per hour in China rather than use American workers, who cost more.' Well, if the 'downside' for paying slave wages isn't apparent, let me make it more clear: It's wrong! Big Business is sacrificing its humanity for the sake of a crooked buck.

You cannot get people back on to the job rolls if there are no jobs. There is a massive displaced work-force in the United States today and they have been displaced for the better part of 20 years now; it is time to get them placed. Meanwhile, the notion of paying a non-living wage in this country goes against everything America stands for.

Look at the average number of hours that Americans work compared to Europeans -- we win. The only place that averages more hours at work than Americans (who have jobs) is Asia. And I, for one, do not like the idea of American workers being ranked alongside the Asian work-force for most hours worked at cheap jobs. Too wide of a disparity between rich and middle class transformed our culture, and not for the better.

A lot of so-called "Conservatives" want to gauge this country for every penny they can get and not give a dime back to it. Heck, nowadays, there are even poor people saying rich folks shouldn't pay taxes because they might -- might -- hire someone if they didn't. Well, that is a lot of malarky. Greed is a disease, and it is infectious, and so is desperation.

Teddy Roosevelt was a Conservative, he was the first one actually. That word arrived from his interpretation of Conservative: Conserve the forests, the jobs, the money Americans spend -- all of it within American borders to the best of our ability.

We all know how to "make America great again," and the only way to do that is to restore full employment, manufacturing and raise the standard of living.

Of course, women will not and could not be shoved back into the kitchen: That ship has sailed. But it's high time that struggling work people stopped getting blamed for being lazy by the self-same people that sent their jobs to be worked by slave labor in Asia.

Yogi-ism of the Day

Rev. Dr. Dale Irvin on Evironmental Justice in Light of New Testament Sc...

Who Am I - Casting Crowns

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Reflections: Recovery, God, Avatar and Norman


It has been an eventful weekend. I was thinking about addiction, God, James Cameron movies and my cat, a black-and-white male named 'Norman.'

I have made no bones about the fact I am in recovery, sometimes my recovery is better than other times. I wish I could say my recovery has been great all the time. Truth be told, recovery is a process. Recovery is not a cure for the is a fighting chance at  life not entirely consumed by drugs and/or alcohol.

Like many addicts in recovery, I am under the care of a shrink and a therapist. A lot of good work has gone into me getting sober by them...and me. But, the work is never done;can never be done. Because, as it is said so often in the 'Rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous,' addiction is "cunning, baffling and powerful." It can re-enter one's life at any time, and plunge that life straight into the toilet.

All that anyone can do is everything they can do to avoid relapse. Relapse happens. But, not letting one relapse turn into a thousand more is the key to staying in recovery. If one isn't working on their recovery, then they are working on leaving recovery. Yet, leaving recovery is too terrible to consider, and rightfully so.

I think people who go looking for God need him more than others, like a kid goes looking for a parent. For some people, they can get through life on their own talents and sensibility. For others, and I am in that number, finding a connection with the Maker is essential just to keep everything together.

It's probably a mistake to think someone is stronger or weaker if they embrace faith. Everyone's road is different; their challenges are not the same. We learn differently.

I have studied faith my whole life. I even earned a Master's in it. Faith is a struggle, though. Yet, in faith, I am convinced there is a serenity I am dying to find. Faith does not require a degree, or even formal study. It only takes conviction.

The faith of a small child, convinced on something in belief, is perhaps the strongest binding in all the universe. I think this might be true, and perhaps this is why God favors them so much.

Thus far in 51 years, I am convinced there is a God...not one doubt. I am less convinced of my own abilities to integrate the lessons of faith wholly into my life. But, there is trying, and so long as God keeps letting me wake up in the morning, I suppose I will keep trying.

Where do people in our lives figure? I guess as well as they can: Some people will fit in our lives and some will not. If people are good for one another, then they will find places in each other's lives -- but this is a gift and not a guarantee.

I was thankful that I re-watched James Cameron's "Avatar" on Saturday. It distracted me from my 'big thinking.' You know, a good movie can go a long way during a lazy weekend. I have become a voracious movie-watcher -- my cat too.

Cats are adaptable creatures. Mine has taken to watching movies with me. He must like them because he watches enough of them. As I write this, I am in my living room, while Norman is in the bedroom watching movies.

I don't know the final answer about if cats are smarter than dogs or the other way around. I can tell you Norman is smarter than me.

Thanks for stopping by and do have a wonderful weekend.

Jimi Hendrix Started Out in the 101st Airborne Division


James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (Nov. 27, 1942-Sept. 18, 1970) served for about a year in the United States Army before he embarked on what would be a legendary musical career. 

Hendrix came from a troubled past in Seattle, Washington and tried to make a go of it in the Army after some legal entanglements back home. So, he enlisted in the Army on May 31, 1961 for three years. While it is unclear about just what his military occupational specialty was, he ended up serving in Company A, 801st Maintenance Battalion, in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Jimi Hendrix in U.S. Army fatigues (circa 1961)

Hendrix was not an ideal soldier. In fact, he is reported to have slept on duty, needed constant supervision and was a "habitual offender" for missing bed check at night. This did not endear the future rock legend to his chain-of-command, so his company commander, Capt. Gilbert Batchman, made a case for him to be discharged. Reportedly, Hendrix had sustained an ankle injury following a parachute drop, so this facilitated things.

Hendrix was given an honorable discharge and was free to start his career performing.

Jersey Summer Scenes (All Photos By Jim Purcell)

The sun about to rise at Sandy Hook, New Jersey
At Harshorne Woods Park, Middletown, New Jersey
On Carr Avenue, Keansburg, New Jersey
Taken at Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold, New Jersey

At Harshorne Woods Park, in Middletown, New Jersey

A Quote From Chesty Puller

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Legend Begins: LEWIS 'CHESTY' PULLER (1898-1941)

LTG Lewis "Chesty" Puller enlisted in 1918

Lewis "Chesty" Puller is a United States Marine Corps legend. 

Through the course of his storied, 37-year in the Corps, Puller rose from the rank of private to lieutenant-general. He joined the Marines after World War I, but was already a combat-hardened commander by the outbreak of World War II.

During his career, Puller won five Navy Crosses; a Distinguished Service Cross; a Silver Star; the Legion of Merit twice, once with "valor" device; the Bronze Star, with "valor" device; the Purple Heart; and three Air Medals, among other decorations. But, Puller's character wasn't measured in the medals he won, but the men he trained, led and inspired during some of America's darkest chapters.

During the first of this two-part series on the most celebrated United States Marine in our nation's history, Puller's early life and participation in what has come to be called the "Banana Wars" will be examined. With an eye toward looking at how his participation in these campaigns impacted his later, better-publicized career as a Marine combat leader, this segment looks at young Chesty Puller and the people, times and events that shaped him.

Puller was born on June 26, 1898 in little West Point, Virginia. Puller's hometown was incorporated only 37 years before its most famous scion was born. Puller was born to parents Matthew and Martha Puller. During his early life, young Lewis was brought up on stories of the Civil War -- its battles, leaders, sacrifices and causes.

In 1862, Puller's hometown itself was a strategic objective for Major-General George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac. During his failed Peninsula Campaign of 1862, McClellan tried, unsuccessfully, to secure its key railroad intersection that led to the rebel stronghold of Richmond. Richmond became the South's capital city on February 22, 1862 after it was moved from Montgomery, Alabama.

Tragedy struck the Puller household, though, when young Lewis was only 10 years old. That year, Matthew Puller died.
The Mameluke Sword is worn by Marine officers

Few people know that Puller had a famous relation that would, himself, make his mark in American military history. Indeed, Puller and U.S. Army Gen. George Smith Patton were second cousins.

During America's Border War with Mexico (1910-1919), Puller tried to enlist in the United States Army to go fight. However, his mother, Martha, refused to give her permission for her son to enlist. Accordingly, Puller would have to wait to see the action he so eagerly sought.

The Border War was comprised of a number of military engagements that took place along the border of the United States and Mexico between Mexican revolutionaries, led by the infamous Pancho Villa, and the American Expeditionary Force, led by General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing.

A year after Puller's abortive attempt to enter the Army, he did gain entrance to the Virginia Military Institute, which is a state-supported military college in Lexington, Virginia. It had been established in 1839 and its alumni includes three of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson's four commanders during the Civil War: James Lane, Robert Rodes and Raleigh Colston. Meanwhile, Jackson himself had taught at VMI before the outset of hostilities between the North and South.

However, eager to march to the drums of war, and with America still in the thick of World War I (1917-1918) in August, 1918, Puller left VMI. At VMI, Puller and his fellow cadets were training to become officers. By enlisting, Puller began his military career in the far more humble role of private. Impressed by the grit and determination the United States Marines displayed during World War I's Battle of Belleau Woods (June 1-26, 1918), Puller signed on and went through Boot Camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, in South Carolina. 

Nicaraguan Sandinista rebels (circa 1927)

Soon after Puller graduated from Boot Camp, and with the Marine Corps being in flux with its staffing need due to World War I, he received orders to attend the Non-Commissioned Officer School at the island. Surprisingly, after he graduated from NCO School, Puller was selected to attend Marine Corps Officer's Candidate School, in Quanitco, Virginia. It was from OCS that Puller received his commission as a second lieutenant on June 16, 1919 in the Marine Corps Reserve.

However, though the need for the Marine Corps' wartime expansion assisted Puller in getting to OCS, the draw-downs in the force after the war's end left his commission converted to inactive status and him receiving the active rank of corporal.

Puller did not have a common experience as a junior non-commissioned officer. Perhaps because of his inactive commission, Corporal Puller received orders from the Marine Corps to serve in the Gendarmerie d'Haiti as a lieutenant. At the time, Haiti had a treaty with the United States that allowed for military personnel from the U.S. working closely with local military and law enforcement. So, Corporal Puller became Lieutenant Puller in Haiti and participated in more than 40 engagements as such for the next five years against Caco rebels on the island nation.

Lieutenant Lewis Puller (center) in Nicaragua with the National Guard detachment he led

During his time in Haiti Corporal/Lieutenant Puller attempted to regain an active commission as a second lieutenant in the Active Duty Marines. In 1922, Puller was assigned as an adjutant to Major Alexander Vandergrift in Haiti. Later in his career, Vandergrift would go on to become a future commandant of the Marine Corps.

It was not until Puller returned from the war in Haiti that, on March 6, 1924, he was officially recommissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines. Subsequently, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks in Norfolk, Virginia and then at The Basic School, in Quantico, Virginia. His assignment at Quantico changed midway through and he was assigned to the 10th Marine Artillery Regiment.

By the time Puller was assigned to the 10th Artillery, he was already an expert at unconventional warfare, in modern language. Due to the nature of low-intensity conflict against a rebel adversary, artillery probably did not play as large a role as it might in other kinds of conflict. So, in a manner of speaking, his assignment to the 10th Artillery allowed Puller to gain some necessary doctrinal uses of artillery that he was not as clear about before that assignment. However, after about two years after being recommissioned, Puller came up on orders for Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, and then, in 1928, he was ordered to San Diego, California.
Crest for the 10th Marine Arty Regt.

Puller's service in Haiti, though, was not forgotten by the Marine Corps. And, in December, 1928, the Corps wanted to use the skills he had honed there and sent him to another Third World nation, this time Nicaragua, to fight yet another low-intensity conflict. In Nicaragua, Puller led a Nicaraguan National Guard Detachment against Sandino rebels in that country. Again, he led his soldiers against an unconventional opponent. He was effective at this as he won his first Navy Cross for his actions between February 16 to August 19, 1930. Puller led the Nicaraguan Guardsmen, and some U.S. Marines, in a major action that included five successive engagements against the enemy, which outnumbered Puller's troops.

At this point, Puller received orders to return to the U.S. and attend the year-long Company Officers Course, at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Afterward, he returned to Nicaragua. Once there, for his combat leadership in actions between September 20 to October 1, 1932, Puller won his second Navy Cross.

Finally, the battlefield for his last engagement in Nicaragua turned out to be the last of the Sandinista rebellion (of that era) and occurred near El Sauce, on December 26, 1932. Following this decisive fight, the back of the Sandinista rebellion was broken.

Puller won two Navy Crosses before World War II

The Marines did not allow Puller to rest on his laurels for very long following his second "Banana War." Rather, soon after the conclusion of hostilities, Puller was send to the Marine Detachment at the American Legation in Beijing, China. Once there, he commanded a unit of the 4th Marine Regiment until he received orders to command the Marine Detachment aboard the cruiser USS Augusta, commanded by then-Captain Chester W. Nimitz.

While he was the Marine Detachment commander aboard the Augusta, he was sent back to the States in June, 1936 to serve as an instructor at The Basic School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Of note, some of Puller's students included Ben Robertshaw, Greg "Pappy" Boyington and Lew Walt.

However, in 1939, Puller received orders to return to the Augusta. After serving several months in this position, during May, 1940, Puller disembarked at the Port of Shanghai, where he would command the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment until August, 1941. After his command in Shanghai, Puller was finally ordered back to the United States, where he was given command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at New River, North Carolina (later to be re-christened as "Camp Lejeune").

It is from there, with war clouds mounting in Asia and Europe, that then-Major Puller would wait for the inevitable conflict. He trained his Marines for a war he knew was coming, which was unlike the rebellions he had helped put down in the past. This war would not span a small country, but oceans and continents as it raged between vast land and sea-going forces.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Edwin Maling: Service With the Multinational Force and Observers

Ed Maling is a former paratrooper with the 505th Regiment

Today, Edwin H. Maling is a grandfather who resides in San Marcos, Texas. He is retired and finds joy in his home-life and his family. But, there was a time, three decades earlier, when hearth and home was the last thing on his mind.

 Mr. Maling is a veteran of the United States Army's 82nd Airborne Division, where he served with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment as an Airborne Infantryman. His travels with the Division took him many places -- and among those places was the Sinai Peninsula, which separates the Middle-Eastern countries of Egypt and Israel, as part of the Multinational Force and Observers.

Mr. Maling's Army sojourn began right out of high-school, in his native Virginia. He was recruited in Norfolk and sworn-in at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Richmond on June 25th, 1981. He attended Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. After earning his blue infantry cord at Ft. Benning, he changed his address a few blocks there and underwent training at the U.S. Army Airborne School.

Like so many young paratroopers, Mr. Maling found his way to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th PIR. A storied unit that was founded in 1942 for service in World War II, the 505th has played a key role in nearly every U.S. military endeavor since.

Mr. Maling said, "It was a good unit with excellent training and opportunities and a chance for travel." However, Mr. Maling saw the 'downside' of the unit being its "dog and pony show" atmosphere and what he regarded as "toxic leadership" in some places within the unit at the time.
According to Mr. Maling, life at the 505th included many field training exercises and "prodigious drinking" when him and his fellow paratroopers were released from duty.

The 505th PIR crest
He was not even out of the 82nd Replacement Detachment, which all soldiers entering the Division pass through, when the Fayetteville Observer newspaper announced that the 1/505th Regiment had been selected for "MFO duty."


The Multinational Force and Observers is an international peacekeeping force that was organized for the expressed purpose of overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between the nations of Egypt and Israel. The MFO operates throughout the Sinai Peninsula and has included military units from around the world, including: Australia, Canada, Columbia, the Czech Republic, Fiji, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, the United States, Uruguay and the United Kingdom.

The MFO's history is traced back to Sept. 17, 1978, and resulted from the Camp David Peace Accords, brokered by U.S. President Jimmy Carter and signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The accords called for a full withdrawal by all Israeli forces operating in the Sinai. Subsequently, the two nations signed the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty on March 26, 1979 and the nations of Egypt, Israel and the United States established a peacekeeping force after the United Nations passed on creating the force. So, on August 3, 1981, the MFO was created.

It would not be long after the creation of the MFO that Mr. Maling and his comrades would find their way to the Sinai Peninsula. His unit left Pope Air Force Base on an El Al airliner on March 19th, 1982. They would land at a place called Ophir, which is about nine miles from the MFO base camp at Na' ama Bay, near Sharm El Sheikh (on the southern tip of the Sinai). The contingent would not return to Ft. Bragg until September of that year.

Mr. Maling explained, "We were to observe, verify and report violations of the Camp David Peace Agreement. Basically, we counted and reported every camel, truck, pedestrian or ship that we could see. We would even do roving patrols, both mounted and on foot."
Ed Maling (far left) and his comrades

Mr. Maling said the contingent from the 505th initially spent a few days in the base camp and then deployed in squad-sized observation positions and check points. During the rotation, he said his unit switched locations. Today, though, he says that units at the MFO spend their entire 6-month rotation at the same locale.

"Some of the [fixed] positions that had been used were [created] by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force the Egyptians had ejected in 1956. Most were unimproved but there was at least one microwave relay site that had previously been fortified by the Israelis," Mr. Maling said.

The shift for the paratroopers were four hours long, with eight hours off. They counted whatever they saw and reported their counts hourly.

"I'd say we did a good job," Mr. Maling said. "When we arrived the facilities were almost non-existent. The first observation point I saw had nothing there when we arrived -- just some orange paint marks. Later, they brought in small buildings and 1,000-gallon water tanks." He noted that the paratroopers' radios, model AN-PRC-77s, turned out to be inadequate and the troops were later issued Motorola jeep-mounted high-frequency radios.
READY FOR ACTION: Trooper Ed Maling in the Sinai

One one dark day, an Australian UH-1 helicopter even crashed while delivering food and mail to Mr. Maling and his comrades.

There were many challenges during the rotation, and no small degree of hazards. Mr. Maling said that facilities were "non-existent," communications was poor and there was inadequate supplies of anti-venom. This last item became tragically evident when a soldier from the 505th was stung by a scorpion and died on the emergency helicopter transport flight to Eliat.

"Nobody thought to bring sandbags," he said. "Trying to dig in the sand without sandbags is a complete waste of time."

Mr. Maling said duty in the Sinai was marked by boredom and monotony, punctuated by "...intense, way over the top partying in Cairo and Tel Aviv."  Along the way, though, he also says he received a good education in Middle Eastern cultural contrasts.

When his unit did return from the Sinai, it is perhaps ironic that Mr. Maling was re-assigned to the Army's National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, California, where desert-fighting skills are honed within units from around the armed forces.
The MFO Medal awarded to Sinai veterans

While at Ft. Irwin, his command sent Mr. Maling, who was a corporal at this time, to Primary Non-Commissioned Officer training at Ft. Ord, California. If he were to have re-enlisted, his unit made it clear he would be promoted to the rank of sergeant. "By then, it was obvious to me that the Army wasn't the place for me to try making a career," he noted.

After he left the Army, Mr. Maling said he went to college "so I'd never have to sleep in the dirt again." He studied engineering and worked, for a time, with the Bureau of Land Management, fighting fires. He went on to assist in saving Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park from a large fire in 1988.

Eventually, though, Mr. Maling's professional path concluded with him working for Chevron.

Though retired today, Mr. Maling still looks back with pride and satisfaction about his time in the Army as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. Like so many before him, and after him, he took up his uniform and rifle and offered his service before turning his thoughts to family and career.
During his tenure in the Army, Mr. Maling earned the Army's Expert Infantry Badge, Basic Parachutist Badge, MFO Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, NCO Professional Development ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.