Sunday, December 25, 2011

The only answer to the problem

by Rich Miles

Well, finally - I mean, fucking finally!!! A guy with a national voice actually says something that I've been saying off and on for YEARS!!

Guy named Jeffrey Sachs, frequent NPR commentator if I am remembering correctly, said in an on-air rant the other day that virtually all Congressdogs, both houses, are owned by their business and industry handlers, and what the voters of this country must do is to make being voted out of office a real fear for these scumbags.

There have been discussions along these lines for decades: term limits for Congress,scaring the bastards with anti-incumbency movements, etc. But nothing ever took hold - and since the Congressdogs themselves were responsible for any legislation that might put the fear of God into them, there was little chance of anything happening on the floor-vote level. This remains true today.

So the only way we can take back control of Congress (as if we ever had control in the past) is to get serious about making moves toward either term limits - vote out any 'Dog who won't support them - or simply organize for anti-incumbency. And we have to be serious about it.

Can we do it? So far, the main move has been for us to say that all Congress is a bunch of thieving bastards EXCEPT our guy - which makes anti-incumbency worth about a half a bucket of warm spit.

I mean, C'MON, people - we have to vote 'em ALL out - even the few that might actually be reasonably decent public servants. Every 4-6 years in the House, and every 12 years in the Senate, there has to be a complete turnover - all new guys.

And if we ever want our country back, and to relieve that simply unfathomable debt, we HAVE to do it. There's no other way.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

He is the very model of a modern Repug asshole

by Rich Miles


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Dishonorable Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI*)- who just last evening had the indecent and unmitigated gall to comment on the ass of the First Lady of the United States.

That's right, he referred to Michelle Obama's backside as a "large posterior".

Now tell me, is there a ruder or bigger piece of shit anywhere in the United States than James Sensenbrenner?

Just as a point of information, African (not necessarily African AMERICAN, though sometimes it is so) women are prone to a condition known as stertopygia, or large buttocks. It's a racial characteristic, and the closer the woman is generationally to Africa, the more likely she is to suffer this condition. Or so I am told by a medical man who is supposed to know these things.

But A) Michelle Obama does NOT suffer it to a large degree, and B) she is the First Lady of the United States and thus due some greater respect than Assh. Sensenbrenner has afforded her, and C)  Jim Sensenbrenner is an unrequited asshole whose momma must not have taught him any manners.

Oh, I'm sorry - Sensenbrenner is a Republican. None of the above, therefore, may or should come as a surprise to anyone. ANYone. I mean it. God, these people make me want to throw up.

And I'd love to see the President call Mr. SenSen out, and thrash the crap out of him for insulting Obama's wife.

Sadly, we don't do things that way anymore. But maybe sometimes we should.

UPDATE : Assh. Sensenbrenner apologized for this incident. Doesn't count. He knew he never
should have said it in the first place. It is the height of arrogant racism that he ever said it in the first place. And yes, racism is what it was. If our First Lady were white, this incident would never - NEVER! - have occurred.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Office of Congressional Child Supervision

by Rich Miles

Man, I'm tellin' ya, the new formatting on Blogger has given me fits!! I've been trying to make some minor alterations to the following article for over 24 hours, and finally had to delete the whole thing and repost it. Where's the instruction sheet for this bitch?

I'm sorry I've been so long between postings - I've been unwell. I'm a little better, but not what I'd call back to normal. After my stroke - NOT Hashimoto's Encephalopathy, as previously diagnosed - I am a little better, but not totally back to normal. Not sure I ever will be, but at least I'm better than I was right after the event.

Anyway, unwell or no, there are a few matters I want to point up, to wit:

Republicans are an entire herd of one-trick ponies, whose only trick is tax cuts. I mean really, when was the last time you heard of a Republican in Congress proposing, pushing and passing anything BUT tax cuts?

Republicans have gotten away with that trick long enough - since the first few months of Shrub's first term, or approximately 10 years - they've pushed almost literally nothing but tax cuts. And we - the American electorate - have let them get away with it. They've shown their wholesale lack of respect for the intelligence of the American people by behaving as if it were just inconceivable that any American would ever vote against a candidate who was instrumental in the creation of a tax cut.

And with few exceptions, until the last couple of election cycles, they've been RIGHT. We have been just that stupid, to let the Republicans dangle the shiny beads of tax cuts in front of us, and we've followed the Republicans over the cliff of tax cuts.

And now the country is in an absolutely inconceivable deficit mess at almost every level, and America is on the verge of bankruptcy. And because we have a Democratic president, the Republicans are getting away with blaming Obama for debt that could not possibly be his fault.

 And ya know what? I am almost positive that this entire mess is intentional on the part of the Repugnicans.

The song goes like this: tax cut, deficit, reasoning for cutting social services, more tax cuts, bigger deficits, etc., etc.

And we keep letting the bastards do it!!

What America needs to do is to turn its attitudes toward its legislators around: they're not big important men who should be listened to. They're our employees, who should damn well do what we tell them to do!! How do you think that would play, us telling them that they work for us and that there will be no more perks, no more legislative skullduggery, no more insider trading, no more lack of oversight etc. etc.

Because it's true - they work for us, and they must be forced to do what their bosses want them to do!!!

With computers capable of doing feats of data crunching unheard of as recently as 10 years ago, I would favor a system of national referenda counted by computer, and supervised by a Cabinet-level Office of Supervision of the Children in Congress.

In other words, every time a vote comes up in Congress, Americans would express their opinions via national computer poll. And that way, Congress would know what to do. How to vote, how to speak on the Floor, When to jump and how high. You know, stuff like that. And in order to be hired to the Cabinet-level office that oversees all this, one would have to prove that one is capable of really BEING non-partisan!

So if all this went into action, we'd be at our home computers, voting for legislation, once or twice a day or more. Then we'd know what the will of the people really is!

No more leaving these assholes to their own devices, to get the country into all manner of messes. We'd know what they were doing, maybe even be able to reduce the instances of sexual misconduct and insider trading. And maybe the sort of men and women attracted to run for Congress would improve a bit, as having a seat in the House or Senate ceased to be like one big frat party, with occasional classes to interrupt the nonstop partying.

And the beauty of this plan is that, as I have conceived it, it wouldn't even require a constitutional amendment. Floor votes, certainly, but not an amendment.

Of course, all this is so unlikely to happen, because just as with congressional labor laws, and congressional health coverage, and congressional child labor laws, the foxes are the ones running the hen coop. I'm afraid I can't even offer a hint of a solution to that.

But I say again, it needs to be done. Congress is a bloody mess, and no longer serves the American people in any but the most rudimentary fashion. Think it over. Then write me with any addendum to this solution that occurs to you. Hey, I'm enough of an optimist to believe that this could at least become a topic of discussion in our nation's capital.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First time I've been here since the reformatting of the page. It's a little easier to operate by and large. Anyway, why am I here today? Well, I'm glad you asked. Got a little housekeeping to take care of, to wit:

Cletis, you have my blanket permission, till rescinded, to reprint anything of mine you wish, as long as you credit me. Use your judgment as to how many pieces you should do this with. This permission does NOT apply to any other site. If you want reprint permission, please ask for it. The reason I've been away for so long, almost 6 months by my count, is that my medical condition has gotten worse. In some regards, however, better. My daily function level is higher, and I am able to remember things better in SOME cases. I have discovered a process in which I must try to "shove" items from short-term memory into long-term memory, where they will be more readily retained. My LTM is pretty much intact - I can remember things that happened 55 years ago - but the STM is in tatters! It's a most unpleasant sensation sometimes. Secondly, my apologies to all the commenters whose comments have sat in the waiting queue for months. I hope I've got them all public now. Thirdly, my diagnosis has changed entirely - I am now suspected of having had a low-level stroke, instead of all that other nonsense like Hashimoto's encephalopathy and fronto-temporal dementia etc. I haven't had a brain scan in over 3 years, and am going to try to get one soon. I just want to know what's going on in there, ya know what I mean? And finally, it's come to my attention that the Republicans have this most disconcerting habit: they WARN us of what they're going to do to the country, but they do it in such a way - so far - that it's hard to tell whether to take them seriously or not.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tax cuts are not what they seem

by Rich Miles

I try, God knows I try to help people think about things in new and different ways. Sometimes I succeed. Most times I don't so much.

But think about this: have you ever wondered why Republicans are so het up for tax cuts?

It's not because they think the average American is overtaxed.

It's not because they believe that government is too big, and too far up on the back of the average man.

And it's not because they think we deserve to have more of our money in our pockets instead of the government's.

No, it's none of these reasons, nor any of the other specious reasons they've tried to stuff down our throats, or shove up the other end of our alimentary canals.

It's quite simple, really: They believe that no electorate at large will ever vote out of office a politician who has reduced their taxes!

And so far, they've been mostly right. George W. Bush's first AND second terms were both the result of this belief structure. Especially the second one. For the first one, he had only promised, he hadn't actually done anything yet. And the stupid voters threw a monkey wrench into the works of Clinton's highly successful deficit reduction by falling for the ol' tax reduction two-step.

And they're going to keep on trying this ploy for as long as it works: No ungrateful wretches are ever going to vote out the people who just cut their taxes.

It's yet another way that Republicans are manipulating our electoral system. It's also yet another way that they're showing how stupid they think we are. They think they can run this okie-doke on 100 million voters over and over.

And like I said above, so far - they're right.

So enjoy your tax cuts, people - while the Repugs take away five times as much as you'll ever get from a tax cut, if you live to be 176.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh, shut up!!

by Rich Miles

I guess my hiatus ends sooner than expected.

Interesting title to this piece, huh?

Anyway, the point of the title, and the point of this article, is that I am SICK TO EFFIN' DEATH of the rich bastards in this country whining about CLASS WAR!!

I mean, it's demonstrable that there is no class war in this country, because there are any rich people left. If there were a genuine class war going on in America, there would be dead rich people strewn all over hell and back.

But there aren't. More's the pity.

So anyway, here's the thing: rich people have been getting a free ride, or perhaps it would be better to call it a net-gaining ride, for decades now, and now that certain pundits are putting some rich people on the spot, and embarrassing the poor little lambs, that term keeps popping up: Class War. Class War. Class War.

But if it ever came to that, we poor people would lose, because we don't have the resources to buy the guns and hire the mercenaries. We'd be at a definite military disadvantage.

But then, we'd be much more pissed off. That counts for something. Doesn't it? We'd be much more motivated to off as many of the bastards as possible. Whereas hired soldiers wouldn't have such motivation, by and large

Anyway, yes - let me be clear on this point: there is indeed a cold class war being conducted in America today. Not a shooting war, of course, but a war nonetheless. Because rich people have been despicable shitbags for long enough. Yuppie scum. Robber barons. And the rest of us are just trying to get by. Literally.

I got nothing else to say here. I used to want to be rich. But not any longer. It would require me to become an asshole. Or more of one than I already am, anyway. I still want to have more money, but I wouldn't want to be rich.

So that's the class war for you in a nutshell. I'm sure books have been written on the topic, but that's the short version. Rich people are the most anti-democratic segment of this alleged democracy, and still they cry in their beer.

Rant over. For the moment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Buh-bye for now

Dear friends, I need a break. It's not like I was running a grueling schedule on this blog, but still, I simply need a break. So you will not see any new posts here for an indeterminate amount of time.

Thank you for your patience. I'll be back as soon as I can stand it.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feeling kinda S.A.D.

by Rich Miles

Anyone who reads this blog even remotely regularly will notice that I haven't written much on it lately. There is a good reason for this: it's the weather.

I have been for a number of years now an acute sufferer of S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Which is, in short terms, a deep sense of melancholy that takes place in the worst of the winter. When sunlight is rare, and gray skies are the norm, and temperatures are too cold to allow for much outdoor activity, and generally, the otherwise pleasant activity of going outdoors doesn't help in perking up the spirits in the dead of winter.

It's a recognized and medically-documented syndrome, causing more than the occasional suicide, and while I've never tried to kill myself, there has been more than one occasion when I have been curious as to what it would be like to be dead. But I didn't do it, because if I think it's dark and cold now, I can't even imagine what it would be like to be buried 6 feet under in the dead of winter.

So anyway, cheery as all these thoughts may be, I have had to contend with them for at least the last 40 years or so. And it hasn't been a bundle of fun, I can tell you that for free.

But at any rate, my life has not, so far, turned out the way I hoped it would. I lack any meaningful work. I lack meaningful connections with other people. I feel like I have alienated an awful lot of people, though they've all been inadvertent. I've managed to drive off at least a half-dozen people who were once important to me, but who now want nothing whatever to do with me. All inadvertently. I really didn't mean to drive them off. But nonetheless, I have driven them away. Part of it was my brain disease. But part of it wasn't. Or at least not as far as I can tell.

But anyway, lest I sound even more self-pitying than I already do, I'll see if I can't come to some sort of point in this essay.

I think the point must be that one must have meaningful work in amongst all the other things we need to live. Air, food, a warm place to live out of the elements, friends, lovers perhaps, and -- meaningful work. What 'meaningful' means is a moving target, but -- each person knows what it means most of the time. Working in a plastic bottle-making factory, shifting cartons of empty bottles from one side of the factory to another -- that's not meaningful. Creating the 'Mona Lisa' -- that's probably pretty meaningful.

Doing nothing at all -- that's not even remotely meaningful.

So anyway. I tend to come out of the S.A.D. symptoms when the weather starts being consistently warm. And I am the first to admit that my variety of S.A.D. is by no means the worst there is. People really do kill themselves or others sometimes simply because the sky is overcast yet again today - for the 22nd day in a row.

But just because mine is not the worst variety doesn't mean that it's not bad. It is.

If you've had this happen to you, I recommend a visit to a psychiatrist. Sometimes medications can help the syndrome. Sometimes not, but just because not everyone can be cured doesn't mean you shouldn't seek medical help.

The upside is -- winter doesn't last forever.

Does it?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Teabaggers' Mistakes

From my friend Trebonska, via email:

Questions for the "Tea Party": What took you so long to get angry?

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Dick Cheney allowed energy company officials to dictate energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed for political reasons.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we invaded a country that posed no threat to us and spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said war.

You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend over a trillion dollars in taxbreaks..

You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creation in several decades.

You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement and home values.

No . . . You finally got mad when a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.. .

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Funeral, by Cletis

As I'm fairly sure I observed recently, there are tons and tons of really fine writers floating about the Internet, blogging for the sheer love of the act, and generally making not a dime for it. I dare to think I've found one of them, and here he is. His name is Jerry Richardson, and he writes more or less under the name of Cletis on a website called The Book of Cletis at I highly recommend that you visit there at your earliest convenience.

At any rate, the following piece by Jerry touched my heart in a number of ways, not least among them that I lost my father just over a year ago, on Nov. 11, 2009, and this spoke to me in very profound ways, though my father was only marginally like Jerry's (they were both cockmen, for instance). I really think you will enjoy this - especially if you love your father, as I did mine, and as Jerry clearly did his.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Creative Sunday #6 Funeral

I'm pretty sure my father was dead. I mean there we were at the funeral home consoling and being consoled and there he was in the casket looking better than he had in years. Looking back on it though I don't think Dad was exactly dead. I think he was more like partially dead.

My father was Vivian Richardson. He was born in 1910 in Southwestern Virginia and went to work in the coal mines at thirteen after his father was crushed in a rock fall. He retired when he was sixty-two, lived for another seventeen years, and sort of died on February12th, 1990. Like I said though, I'm pretty sure he hung around a few more days getting things the way he wanted them before he headed out.

Dad was handsome and well-built. He was right at six feet tall, slim and quick, with powerful arms. He had strong, patrician features and intense blue eyes which were quick to anger and quicker to laugh. His hair was plentiful and had been silver-grey for years. He told me it changed color after he washed paint out of his hair with a bottle of Clorox. My mother vouched for this story but then again she and Dad were married for almost fifty-five years and worked closely together.

Dad noticed everything and found laughter in almost all of it. He preferred situational humor and if nothing was going on naturally he would take some time to help it along. That’s why I believe he was only partially dead. He wanted one more crack at things.

Religion had not been my father's main interest. I know he went to church when he was a young man because that was the only place to meet girls. He read the bible but I believe that was primarily for the history and adventure. He knew a good deal about the women in the bible and seemed to have a particular fondness for Delilah. Mary Magdalene was also one of his favorites. He said he had known quite a few women like her and they seemed to be, all in all, pretty noble people.

Dad no longer attended church and must have been viewed by the local ministers as a hard man to bring down. He was greatly respected for his honesty and for the way he raised his kids, but I don't think the local churches held out much hope regarding his celestial prospects.

I remember only one occasion when he attended church and this stemmed from an incident involving me. I was hitchhiking from Lynch to Cumberland, Kentucky where I attended Southeast Community College. It was a cold day and I had been passed up by at least thirty people who had known me all my life and who generally attended church on a regular basis.

Finally, a young man I did not know stopped and gave me a lift. He said he was the new minister at the First Baptist Church and also said he was thrilled to be in Lynch. He said the people were wonderfully kind and Christian and he couldn't think of a place he’d rather be.

I told him I’d rather be anywhere else; that the place had more hypocrites per square mile than any place on Earth. I said I didn't think Christians should leave their halos in the church. What they should do is take their good works out into the community. I was freezing and laid it on thick.

That Sunday Reverend Jones tore in to his flock at the Baptist church. According to my sisters, he preached long and hard about what it means to be your brother's keeper. He drew on the parable of "the good Christian who passes up a hitchhiker he has known since birth". He followed that with the parable of "the Christian who leaves his halo in the corner as he leaves the church". Dad said he had never heard of those parables. I told him I had.

Several weeks later Reverend Jones made a visitation and invited me to a revival. Dad said he was impressed and would go with me. Baptist revivals are wonderful events where people dedicate or re-dedicate themselves to Christ. They laugh and cry and in general express their emotions in ways they wouldn't ordinarily do.

When we entered the church, people were still milling around laughing and socializing. The air was one of nervous expectation as the guest minister was a man of considerable reputation. He was noted with some envy by fellow ministers to be a persuasive man who was "...beloved by the Lord and feared by the devil".

I had never seen Dad so polite. He shook hands with astonished parishioners, asked about their families, commented on the beautiful fall weather, and gradually steered us to a pew about halfway back. I looked across the church and saw several of the deacons glancing our way and patting Reverend Jones on the back. You could feel the satisfaction throughout the room.

When the evangelist launched into his sermon, it was obvious he had one target. He preached. He invoked. He cried. He pulled out all stops. He warned that to leave the church unrepentant was to risk damnation. He cited anecdote after anecdote of men who had hardened their hearts, of men who would not allow Jesus into their lives, of men who had been killed by trains as they left the church parking lot.

Members of the church were beside themselves. Some were running to the front crying and proclaiming their faith. Others were being carried out in a swoon. The choir broke into "Bringing in the Sheaves," and that brought in more lambs. My father stood quietly with his head bowed and his hands resting lightly on the pew in front of him.

The minister warmed to the challenge. He threw off his coat and loosened his tie. He took the bible in his hand, took a deep breath, and set out again. This time he was all over the church --- moving, gesturing, making his case. He had a beautiful voice and used it to its full effect. He alternated between thundering and roaring and pleading and urging. He spent three-fourths of his time near my father and the other fourth looking in his direction. He gave all any man could give. Dad's response was to raise his head, smile politely, and look back down.

Finally, the Holy Spirit was worn out and things settled down. The minister made the final call and we filed out. Dad shook the preacher’s hand and praised his good work. He said he enjoyed the sermon and that it had given him plenty to think about. The minister offered a depleted smile.

I don't remember seeing my father in church after that but when he got older and his health failed, he began to realize his mortality and became more receptive to visitation. This is where Brother Hill entered the picture.

Brother Bertrand Hill was a church deacon and a man of faith and good works. He was genuine in his efforts to be Christ-like and my father liked and respected him. Brother Hill specialized in ministering to the ill and elderly and had found the near-death experience to be an invaluable ally.

His friendship with my father had strengthened in recent years and was the reason my mother sent me to ask if he would speak at my father's funeral. Services were held at the Tri-City Funeral Home in Benham, Kentucky and there was a big turnout. My father was well-liked and we had large families on both sides.

My oldest sister, Sue, my oldest brother, Bud, and my sister, Ann, flew in from California. My sister, Betty, drove in from Western Kentucky and I drove in from Maryland. My brother, Robert, who still lived in Lynch, drove down the street.

The day of the funeral arrived and people were filing by:

"Jerry," your dad was crazy as hell. I'm going to miss him."

"Thanks, Mr. Collier. He was a great guy."

"Funniest man I've ever known. Laugh at anything."

"Yes sir, he had a great sense of humor."

"Loved women. Did you know we called him "cockman" when we was young?"

"Yes sir, I know. Better not let my mother hear that."

"No, of course not. Before he knew her anyway. You take care now. I'm going over and speak to your mom."

"Thank you, sir."

"Hey Jerry, sorry about your dad."

"Thanks, Mr. Jamison. He was a great guy."

"You remember that time he got in a fight in the poolroom? Knocked Tom Haynes over the table before Tom knew what hit him. Tom told me later he thought he was fighting Three-Fist Wilson."

"I was little then, Mr. Jamison, but I've heard people talk about it."

"Well, your dad was a load when he got mad but he didn't hold a grudge. Bought Tom a beer ten minutes after the fight.”

"Yes sir, I've heard that."

"Well, take care son. I'm going over and speak to your mom."

"Jerry, it's good to see you. I'm sorry about your dad."

"Thank you, Mr. Johnson. I miss him already."

"He was a good man, Jerry. I worked with him for years. We still talk about that fart he cut over in 37 Mine. We were walking out and he laid in to it. Men were running and hollering. Your dad just kept walking. Best I remember it measured about seventeen feet and nine inches."

"You measured it, sir?"

“Your daddy did. Can't blame him. Hell, you can't let something like that go unrecorded. Jerry, you take care of yourself. I'm going over and speak to your mom.”

"Mr. Johnson?"

"Yes, son?"

"Don't mention the fart."

"No, of course not. That wouldn't be proper."

That was the way it went all morning until finally the service began and Brother Hill got up to speak. Brother Hill was in his seventies, a man of medium height, dignified and serene. He stepped up to the front and waited for quiet. My father was in the casket behind and to the right of Brother Hill. To Brother Hill's left was a young Baptist minister who had also agreed to speak. I couldn't help but notice his wife. She was blonde and very beautiful. I'm sure Dad was pleased.

Our family sat in the immediate front in the first row. I sat between my sister Ann and my youngest sister Betty. Brother Hill cleared his throat and began. He sang two songs in a strong, rich voice. There was no music but his voice carried easily throughout the room breaking occasionally as befitted a man of his age. This only served to make the song more beautiful and heartfelt. When he finished, a lot of people were crying.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Brother Hill said, "I’m here today to talk to you about the Lord Jesus and the wonders he has performed. He has touched my life and I’m sure he has touched yours as well. Many years ago when I was a young man I heard the call and knew I would dedicate myself to spreading the glorious Good News. I have been blessed and am humbled to stand before you today with the knowledge that through the grace of the Lord Jesus I have brought home three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven souls to date."

At this point, Brother Hill took a small, tattered writing tablet from his pocket and held it up. "In this tablet,” he continued, “are the names, dates, and times those three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven souls came home to the Lord. Many of you assembled here have known me for years and know of my work at Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital. It has been an abundant seam and I have mined it for the Lord. That's right. I am proud to have been a miner, a miner for the Lord."

This was beautiful stuff and things were going along nicely but we were at least ten minutes into the eulogy and Brother Hill had yet to mention Dad. People were shifting in their seats and you could feel a little uncertainty in the room. He picked it back up.

"I remember as a child knowing I would have a calling among the old and the ill. Other children would shun the elderly --- not me ladies and gentlemen. I gloried in the opportunity. I knew it would be my ministry, my province, the place where I could best serve the Lord Jesus."

He held the tablet up again. "Three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven souls are with the Lord today because of that ministry. Of course, I am only the earthly arm of the Lord Jesus; a humble servant if you will."

He went on for another twenty minutes and we all agreed later that it was an amazing oration. He did not, however, mention Dad or even glance in his direction. The assembly was restless and you could hear people moving around and clearing their throats. Brother Hill finally wrapped it up, looked out over the room, and started up again.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "l am here today to talk to you about the Lord Jesus and the wonders he has performed."

The air went out of the place. Brother Hill had gone senile and picked a heck of a day to show it. My sister Ann’s elbow hit me in the ribs.

"Do something," she said.

I'm not the eldest child. I'm fourth down the line but I did get up and walk to the podium and stand next to Brother Hill. He seemed to come out of his reverie and noticed me beside him. I put my arm around his shoulder.

"Brother Hill," I said, "you were a wonderful friend to my father and on behalf of my family I want to thank you for your kind words. Do you mind if I say a few things?"

"Of course not, Jerry," he said. "Your father was a great man."

He glanced toward the casket then leaned close to me.

"Did you know we called him "cockman" when he was young?"

For all practical purposes, that was the end of the service. I think Dad left about that time. I spoke for awhile and thanked my mom and dad for raising us right. Then, we got into our cars and drove across the mountain to the cemetery and buried Dad.

Funerals are never easy but thanks to Brother Hill we had a pretty good day.

Note from Cletis: "Funeral" was originally published in Now and Then. It is the sole property of the author, Jerry Richardson. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish his work.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


by Rich Miles

I got a question to ask:

Can someone riddle me this: IF a politician needs millions (or billions?) of dollars to run effectively for high office; and IF that pol needs to solicit contributions from wealthy and/or corrupt persons with large amounts of money to contribute; and IF, after contributing to that pol's campaign, the pol wins, and the contributor (wealthy, corrupt) insists on dictating to the pol what policies and beliefs the pol should espouse, and what laws s/he should propose and sponsor;

Then how does that transaction differ materially from bribery?

I've wanted to ask that question for years. In fact, I HAVE asked it to my friends and fellow-travelers in the Democratic party. Because of course, members of both parties do this - no false equivalence here, it's probably spread about evenly between members of both major parties, and nearly as much in minor-party candidates. But it's not against the law, even though the act and its consequences are pretty much precisely the same as the crime.

So what do we do about it, you're wondering? Well, we could adopt some variation on the British model, with vastly reduced time limits on campaigning, and vastly lower limits on campaign fundraising.

Or, we could continue to allow, nay insist on, our politicians and leaders being extremely expensive whores who spend the bulk - that is to say, over 50% - of their time raising money, and demeaning themselves into abjection to get it. And then, those whores are our leaders once they're elected.

Seems like an altogether unsavory system to me. Sorry, maybe I'm not seeing it somehow. It just seems like we need to change this.

Or maybe I'm wrong.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blood in the Streets

by Rich Miles

You know, I begin to think these Republicans are serious about destroying America.

I mean, take the article by Pat Garofalo, published on, and entitled "GOP's State of the Union Responder Would Set Higher Taxes on Middle-Class Than Millionaires".

I recommend reading the whole thing , but if you don't want the pee scared out of you, take this precis: The Republican Party thinks that no one but millionaires should have more money than is necessary to put a few cold potatoes on the table, and buy enough gas to get you to your menial, Republican-serving job.

Hell, I don't know about you, but that much alone scares the pee out of me.

Now let me explain something that, as so often with me, should be obvious, but has not to the best of my knowledge been stated by anyone in a position to be heard by more people than his immediate family.

First off, one of the main acts by the Republicans that is going to move America further down the crapper is the taxation of millionaires at a significantly lower rate than middle- and lower-class taxpayers. That is really going to hurt the nation because the federal deficit will GROW, not decline as Republicans claim it will.

So why don't they see this? Why don't Republicans recognize the damage this is going to do to the American economy, and many Americans as well?

The answer is quite simple, really - and I have thought this through, and I really believe it, and don't think there is any other overarching reason for the movement to tax millionaires at lower rates than the rest of us:

It's because so many Republicans, including so many members of Congress, are millionaires.

Yep, that's it: the destruction of America and its economy, and so many of its citizens, is nothing more than unenlightened self-interest.

And the fact that they're pursuing this with such vehemence shows that it's not possible to instill a conscience in a person, when his entire livelihood depends on him NOT having one. (Paraphrase intentional)

So in the absence of any way to get these greedheads to change their behavior in the interest of the country, the only way I can see to keep them from destroying our nation is...civil war.

Yes, I'm afraid that's the only way. And Democrats/liberals/progressives are going to have to learn guerrilla warfare really quickly, and quite covertly.

The only bright spot in all this that I can see is that the plutocrats will seek to hire the war out, while we on the left will try to do it on the cheap. No way of telling who will win in that scenario.

But civil war is the way - we have already slid down the ladder of international prestige so far that we are nowhere near the preeminent nation we once were. We might as well do something totally stupid and prestige-destroying like this. Hell, it almost couldn't hurt outside our borders.

But make me a better offer - how am I wrong? Don't just say I'm wrong - tell me HOW you think I'm wrong. Because I don't think I am. I know I have been wrong before - viz. my theory that George W. Bush would seek to not leave office in January 2009. And I hope I'm wrong this time. But I don't see any other way to save America.

Do you?

Wanna get your liberal juices flowing? Watch this movie

by Rich Miles

Back in 1976, a lady named Barbara Kopple released a documentary she had made called "Harlan County U.S.A.". It's the story of the struggle of the coal miners against the coal mine operators in, you guessed it, Harlan County KY, and the wonder of this film is how little has changed in the nearly 35 years since the film was made. There are still coal towns today - the only difference is that the miners and their families live in crappy worn-out trailers instead of crappy worn-out shanty shacks. The pay was not much over minimum wage back then - $2 an hour or so - and the pay is not much over minimum wage today - $7.50 or $8.00 an hour to start. And of course, the union leaders are still in the pockets of the operators, no matter what they say to try to get re-elected.

The miners inhale coal dust enough to kill themselves, and smoke like chimneys as well, as they are encouraged to do by advertising and the local store. And altogether, the miners and their families live in miserable abject poverty today, just like back then. And the operators make millions on the backs of those miners, and still resist safety reforms, and pay increases, and so on. The union is somewhat stronger today, but still not what you'd call strong - the cost of a strike to the owners is still just a cost of doing business, and they know they can outwait the miners, who need their piddling salaries far worse than the operators need to sell another carload to another utility company.

And if you can listen to all the songs in this film, most especially "Which side are you on?", and "Black Lung, Black Lung", and "Death, O Death", and not both cry for the poor men digging their own graves in the mines, and get furiously angry at the operators, then I don't know what to tell you about your humanity.

The film is currently playing on IFC, Dish Network Channel 131 and others, and if you're a liberal you need to see it. Even if you've seen it before, you need to see it again. Because it will make your heart beat for freedom and the working man, and unions of all stripes and types. And we need the help today.

And while you're at it, try seeing "O Brother Where Art Thou?". It'll very likely tap the same nerves, but with somewhat less direct purpose. But it's very entertaining nonetheless.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Predicting the same ol' shit

by Rich Miles

UPDATE: The Democratic representative mentioned in the third graf is Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

As I read all the stories today about the House vote to repeal health care reform, my mind is boggled by the realization that, in 2012 if we aren't destroyed by a South American comet or something, the likelihood is very great that the Republican majority in the Congress will become greater.

Because you see, your fellow Americans are just insufferably stupid, and will let the repugnicans hoodwink them over and over and over again! And the repugs are well-armed and well-disposed to do that hoodwinking, as we see in those same stories about the near-repeal.

A Democratic member of the House, I don't know who because it went by on TV so quickly, made a speech on the floor about how dangerous it would be to engage in the old drinking game where you take a drink every time something happens - in this case, every time a Republican says something untrue - and how one should enlist a designated driver if you do. Quite agree, quite agree.

For instance, every single Republican representative voted for repeal of the so-called "Obamacare". All of them, no exceptions.

Now when was the last time you saw that many people agree that thoroughly on ANYthing? Do you really think every single repug representative, and even a few Democratic traitors, had read the health reform bill, and knew what they were voting to repeal?

I kinda doubt it.

But there are voters all over the country who are cheering for the repeal of Obamacare without having any idea what that vote will cost America, and Americans, and THEM. And they will vote in 2012 for those repug representatives who saved America and the budget by voting to repeal health reform without even knowing what they were doing, or to how many people they were doing it. And there will be even more repugs in both houses of Congress, and they might even manage to drive the repeal through, as they claim they will. And all of us will suffer in ways we cannot even imagine now.

As I grow older, I simply goggle at the ongoing and apparently never-ending stupidity of so many Americans. I mean, this is not just my opinion - it's demonstrable that people are voting against themselves, their financial interests, and their children's interests, over and over and over.

And I call that stupid.

It may be 22 months till that election, but I see large numbers of Americans gearing up to exercise their God-given right to be as stupid as they wanna be.

Man, this democracy stuff is rough on the thinking man and woman.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just wanted to let you know...

by Rich Miles

I don't really have much to say on this topic. I just wanted to stop by and let you all know, because to me it's very exciting news.

Tom DeLay (yes, THAT Tom DeLay) was sentenced to 3 years in prison today, for, in essence, money laundering.

I don't think there's any way he'll serve the entire sentence, but in any case, he's going to jail. The man described some years back as the most powerful politician in America - is going to prison. He might have to stay one year at least.

I am gleeful that at least this much justice was served.

Now all we need to do is get Shrub in prison. His crimes were not merely diddling about with cash.

He's a murderer and war criminal. Hell, he might end up going to jail for FOUR years. Or maybe for life.

One can only hope.