IS IT REALLY A CONSPIRACY?

Is there a method to all of this madness? The actions of the President and the congress may just be a synchronized plan to change our country. How would you change our country rather quickly if you were in charge? Long term solutions could include decimating the electorate by removing live saving care. This would involve removing health coverage and make it impossible to receive the proper health care. All you would have to do would be to remove the pre-existing conditions  and other parts of the Affordable Care Act. Part D (prescription drugh) would be a good one.

This is not a plan to destroy the legacy of Barack Obama; it is a way of increasing the power of those that have coverage. Strange that the congress that gets free health care from the taxpayers, also wants to destroy a certain segment of those taxpayers. Sounds like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? However, as we have seen, voter suppression isn’t’ the answer. Russian interference isn’t the whole answer. Making fewer possible voters is a great plan for getting a larger share of the votes.

How about sending all of the Muslims back to where they came from. Muslim Americans probably would not vote for the present congress or the President-elect. If there were fewer of them, that would make things easier for the perpetrators of these plans. Fewer Muslims, or Arab Americans, mean fewer votes for the opposition.

What about going after sanctuary cities? The original immigrants, with no legal permission to be here, have children that will be, or are, citizens? If you get most of them identified and sent back to their countries of origin. That would diminish the city vote. We all know that that the city vote is pure Democratic. Even though, the mayor of Miami has given in to the current administration, we have not seen the courts decide what is legal about what is happening.

How about keeping the press out of the loop. No more criticism from the inside. Get the press out of the White House. What you have then is press release reporting. Yes, there are some reporters who get all of their stories from press releases. The investigative reporters are those who dig out the stories for themselves. That will become harder if no one wants to speak with them, or they have no access. They will never be able to find out if any of those stories about the President’s activities when he was in Moscow are true. Even if they are true, will his supporters even care?

How about this one, when asked who his heroes are, he answered “I don’t believe in heroes.” He then went on to a story about himself and how successful he has been. He also threw in a couple of kudos to his father. Let’s see, if there are no heroes, than it is o.k. to make fun of John McCain, John Lewis, and others. By demeaning everyone else, he believes that he elevates himself. All of the pandering to his followers allows them to make fun of and revile everyone. Since there are no heroes, there are no positive accomplishments other than his own. In his inauguration speech, he claimed that nothing by the government has had any positive accomplishments. That means that all of the congresses, all of the Presidents have been failures. He has never admired anyone other than himself. This allows him to do all kinds of dastardly things. This kind of reminds me of when the Beatles said that they were more popular than Jesus Christ.

His appointments to his cabinet all contain some thread of reducing the number of people who would vote for someone else. Dr. Price would eliminate programs that seem to advance the interests of poor people. Maybe he does not realize that bunches of poor people in rural areas voted for the President-elect. His proposed Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson is an admirer of Mr. Putin and seems to want to instigate wars all over the world. Former head of the Soviet Union, Mr. Gorbachev thinks the same thing.  What’s good for Exxon Mobil is good for the U.S. In those wars, lots of youngsters from poor areas (unless we bring back the draft) will be put in harm’s way. His proposed Secretary of Education has said that priority in giving parents more choices is more important than the outcomes of their children’s education. Let’s see now, less educated children, less educated voters, or no voting at all.

Does all of this sound like conspiracy theory? When voter suppression started, people poo-poohed that it was a conspiracy to keep voters from the polls. It worked in this past election. They have begun, with the power of the presidency, to effectuate their plans. The new justice department has asked for a delay in the voter suppression case in Texas and removed certain items from the White House page. Don’t assume that these folks that are now in charge are lunatics. They are very purposeful, very mean and very smart.

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JASPER GENTLEMEN II REDUX

We are now in the second year of working with students at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School in Jasper County, South Carolina. It has been a wonderful year for both Carol and me. Carol has extended her vision down to the elementary and middle school and I have spent time with the “gents” and with community people.

We feel comfortable in the Jasper County community, as well as with rural communities in other parts of the state. It has taken us a while to understand that rural South Carolina is similar to rural PA, West Va. and N.Y., but there are subtle and not so subtle differences.

The young men that I am working with are a disparate bunch from those of last year. They tend to be much quieter and do not challenge me as much. They are very thoughtful and almost whisper when we are having conversations. These folks were chosen by last year’s group. The first group was chosen by the assistant principal.

There are none among them that are not academically able. That does not mean that they got gaudy grades on their ACTs, but that’s a story for another time. Their nature is to wait awhile before answering a question or formulating a statement. It’s interesting to watch them mull things over. That does not mean that we don’t have some who are instantaneous.

We have four young men who are on the basketball team. Two of them are starters and the best players on the team. I hope they will find a school to go to that will honor their skills. That’s something that I am still wrestling with. These guys can go to lots of schools that are academically challenging. Because of a tradition of going to less than competitive schools and also money, they just continue the trek from RHHS to easy to get into schools.

Maybe I should not raise their expectations. It’s hard for me to keep my tongue when I see a young man going to a school that was in the process of losing its accreditation. That really frosts me. This is not something that I discuss very readily with the Gents. It comes during sessions when I have the big College Guide with me and we look up bunches of schools that the guys are interested in.

I point out retention rates, staff to student ratios, number of PhDs on the faculty staff, number of freshmen, number who were applied, accepted and then enrolled. This tells you whether these schools are first choices or not. The fellas always seem to be interested in that kind of thing. We also go over what majors are available. Sometimes, we even call the schools while we are there. The guys are really shy about calling.

In the final instance, money determines where they go. The financial part of this is complicated and can lead to much misunderstanding. Of the 10 young men, 8 of them are first generation college goers. The other two are looking at the military. We do talk about the military, how it works and how much you get paid as a grunt or an officer (or even a warrant officer).

As I have said, these Gents are not as forthcoming as last year’s group. I get more information about them when I hand out thought cards. They are allowed to ask questions, say anything they want (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone nor has foul words). Lots of things are revealed. There are no names on these cards and I mix them up. I cannot tell by their writing that they are.

Our plans are to go on two college visits. That will happen very soon. I am thrilled the school district has provided the funds to do this. We can provide money for lunch from donations we got from friends last year. I really hope that we are doing things that will help them. They are a wonderful group.

REBECCA

Carol and I had lunch with Rebecca yesterday at Wendy’s in Ridgeland. When she walked into the place, it was hard to compare her to the Rebecca that I met on the basketball bus a year and some ago. Her hair was swept up and surrounded by a band, her makeup was modest and her clothes were similarly modest.

She approached us and reached out her arms to give us a hug and a kiss. She was stately, assured and impressive. We ordered our Wendy’s food and sat down at one of the tables. This was not the same person who sat next to me on the aforementioned bus. I had gotten permission from the assistant principal L.R. and the basketball coach to accompany the team to an away game.

For me, that was a signal event at our volunteer mentoring at the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School in Jasper County South Carolina. Carol and I had been to a number of games, both home and away. I have always been a basketball fanatic. I even majored in basketball in my first year and a half at Queens College. I did not attend many other classes. That was one of the reasons that I dropped out and went into the U. S. Army. So, basketball was in my veins and arteries.

It was a joy to me to be mentoring some young men at the high school, some of whom played on the team. This led to our attending games and eventually put me on that bus.

As I sat down on the bus that night, this tall young lady sat down next to me. For some reason, she wanted to talk to me. I don’t believe that I had ever had a conversation with her before. She was also not one of the young women that Carol was working with.

We talked basketball for a while and then slid into future plans for college. Her family included 4 other sisters. Mom had a Bachelor’s degree in pre-school education and dad was a truck driver. Her other sisters were either going to college, or were graduated.

She was curious about my background and wondered why I was volunteering and why I was given permission to be on the bus. We were going to a faraway game and we had enough time to get into some serious discussion about majors, what college was really like and how to improve the high school.

Ridgeland Hardeeville has trouble scheduling non-conference basketball games for both the men and women. The women won the state basketball championship a few years ago. The same sized non-conference teams were, and still are, a bit afraid of playing them. So, they travel distances (one time, I was on the bus to Brunswick, Georgia) to play teams whose student population is much larger than RHHS.

That night the RHHS teams both won. I admired and still do the attitude of the players on both the boys and girl’s teams. They keep their cool and don’t mouth off to officials. On the way back home, some other young ladies wanted to sit next to me and talk. Rebecca shooed them away and said that SHE was going to sit next to me.

We continued our earlier conversation. The advantage that these talks gave me was to find out about the community, the people who lived in the them and the aspirations of the community. It is amazing to find out that these youngsters are keen observers of what is happening, both economically, socially, and yes politically in their areas.

As Carol and I talked to Rebecca at Wendy’s, we saw an intelligent young woman, who will succeed in her life. She is bright and articulate and yes, she did well in her classes this first semester. The historically black college that she is going to, limits social activities for the first two semesters. From our perspective, that is a good thing.Rebecca keeps her own counsel on that subject.She will not get involved with extra-curricular activities until she feels that time management and her academics are on a positive track.

Rebecca is majoring in criminal justice and a minor in pre-law. We talked with her about going to law school. She said that was in the back of her mind. Somehow, last year, we had started a tradition of bringing her a bag of peanut M&Ms to the games. She would share it with her teammates. Actually, this year, we have continued the tradition with one of the young ladies that Carol is working with. Shakylla, who is a cheerleader, is carry on the tradition.

Although we are quite proud of what Rebecca has accomplished so far, we take no credit for what she had done. In truth, her family set her up for success. We have met her mom and a few of her sisters. They all have the same kind of drive for success. All we can do is to observe this wonderful young lady and know that there are many more of her sort that need a chance to flourish.

JEREMIAH NEBBISH COMMENTARY

(There are some few times when I give these pages of musings over to another. In the seven years of this blog, it has happened with only two people- Ronald T. Bogus (Congressman from the State of Anxiety) and Jeremiah Nebbish, (a 94 year old citizen of Clarion County in Western Pennsylvania).Nebbish has some interesting things to say.

I don’t write very much, never have. Once in a great while I have something to say, I usually go into town and look for some of my friends at the County Seat on Main St. Guess what, most of them are not around anymore. The young guys, in their 70’s and 80’s don’t have any idea what I am talking about. There are a few guys at the County home that are my age or older, but they hardly remember their names.

I have lived through a great deal in my life. The most significant thing was marrying my wife Martha. We got married in 1941. I was 19 at the time and she was 18. The worst day in my life was when she died some years ago. I try not to dwell on this day too much.

Like all folks about my age, we remember things that aren’t so anymore. Things are so fast now that it’s hard to keep up. Then they say fast food restaurants, they really mean it. Most folks think the people behind the counter are slowpokes. I think that they are very fast. Once in a while I do to the McDonalds in town, near the Catholic Church. I like the chicken mcnuggets. I can still sit and read my paper, the Oil City Derrick and dip my mcnuggets into sauce, throw a bunch of ketchup on my fries and guzzle my diet drink (not sure if it’s Pepsi or Coke). That kind of takes up an afternoon for me.

I kind of walk around town, using my cane and stop by some of the stores and peek in the windows. Most of the owners of the stores when I was still working are gone by now. I do see David Karp in James Jewelers once in a while. Jimmy Crooks is still running his clothing store. Weins is still there, but I have no idea who runs it today.

Fortunately for me, I can still drive some. I wouldn’t dare get on route 80 to go to DuBois, or ride up to Titusville, but I can get around Clarion County pretty good.

The changes that have been made in the county are overall pretty o.k. with me. The roads seem to be fixed when they need to be. They still have the Autumn Leaf Festival (although the college kids almost killed it). Once in a while, I get a visit from Fred McIhattan, who brings me up to date on the happenings in the county. They tell me that the new rep. from Clarion County is an o.k. lady. I believe her husband graduated from high school with my grandson. She seems to know what people need and tries to get it. She isn’t always successful, but she still tries. I hear that she is now a big wheel in the Republican Party in Harrisburg.

The old Glass Plant closed a number of years ago. It employed 400 people. It was the biggest employer in the county. I worked there for over 40 years. It provided a good living with good pay and benefits. Those jobs don’t seem to exist in Clarion County any more. People are now satisfied with lower paying jobs and sometimes have to work two of those to get along.

I read that the reason the Trump won in Pennsylvania was because of workers who did not have jobs as a result of businesses moving out of the country. I believe that. I remember when Keith Martin and Paul Stehle tried to get a low flush toilet bowl factory to be constructed in the county. A large Swedish firm was really interested. Guess what they did. They put it in Mexico. Don’t even know if it is still around.

Speaking of being around. Since this is the beginning of the year, I have to wish you Happy New Year. I hope I am around to wish you Happy New Year in 2018.