Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Republican Party, More Marginalized Every Day

Daily, it seems, the Republican Party becomes more marginalized. It's rabid base has turned against anything but the most extremist, anti-American element. Colin Powell is ridiculed for being weak and supporting a Democrat against McCain. In Nassau County, New York this week a Republican-turned Democrat was heckled and insulted by a Republican crowd, which threw tea bags at her. The county Republican chairman actually endorsed the crowd's behavior:

"They think they can come with impunity into our house and cause trouble. They can't walk all over us... We'd never pull that kinds of stunt. They come to us, they're going to have to take their risks. They got what they deserved today. They tried to make light of what we stand for in the Republican Party, and we gave it back to them."

This kind of uncivilized behavior is becoming the norm for many, if not the majority of, Republicans. Today, a man insulted us at the Memorial Day parade, because the truck which pulled our float had an Obama sticker on it. Our float included distinguished veterans from every branch of the services. They were professional soldiers, who put their lives on the line for their country and are more patriotically American than any of these extremist, self styled "patriots."

Last week a poll revealed that only about 23 percent of Americans call themselves Republicans. It is exactly the rabid, extremist, anti-American behavior of these Neanderthals that is breaking the Republican Party. This country needs at least two parties, but they need to be representative of true American values, not the right-wing fanatical minority that has ruined this Grand Old Party.

I do not know if the Republican Party will survive. It might be best if it does not. It is not the party of Lincoln anymore. In fact it stands for the direct opposite of what Lincoln stood for, and it is primarily a southern party. This article chronicles the GOP's failing strength everywhere but in the South. The GOP is racist, secessionist, and anti-American. Lincoln has probably turned over in his grave many times over the last eight years, as his party has deteriorated into a tattered rabble of right wing fanaticism.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cheney Continues to Spread His Lies and Innuendo

This article analyzes Cheney's lies in his recent rant about the Obama Administration. I urge you to take a look and see how this evil man is continuing to try to clear himself of the many abuses of his office and the Constitution. The worst VP in history, probably, and he is still idolized by many.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yellow Ribbons, The Red White and Blue and a Strange Thinking Newspaper Editor

This past week has been interesting. I have served on a committee that is charged finding ways for our town to celebrate the various holidays and commemorative days. This week is Armed Forces Week. Monday was Armed Forces Day.

We decided to celebrate with yellow ribbons, dedicated to our currently serving military personnel. We would ask the citizens to come in and fill out a card to be placed on a yellow ribbon of their choice around the town square. The mother, girlfriend, sister or wife would receive a red, white, and blue, corsage.

When the public service announcement went to the newspaper, the local editor, a rather strange individual with whom I serve on a board, wrote a scathing column against the use of yellow ribbons, saying that yellow represents cowardice and a tradition born from a Tony Orlando and Dawn song about a criminal coming home. Instead, he said, red, white, and blue ribbons should be used. Had he done any research at all, he would have known that he was so far off base it was not funny.

Prior to publishing his column he sent out an email stating his views. I responded to all with a note that yellow ribbons are a tradition and that the use of the editor's idea would simply confuse the issue, because most would connect it with the upcoming memorial day celebration.

Later, I wrote a short history of the use of yellow flags to remember soldiers serving in harm's way, including the WW I song, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," which became an Army march. I also recalled the use of yellow kerchiefs and scarves by the US Cavalry, serving the in the West. Yellow eventually became the official color of the Cavalry and later the US Army armor.

At first, the editor acknowledged his failure to properly research the subject, but by the time this week's column was published he had forgotten his moment of weakness and was back to his red, white, and blue self. He admitted that yellow ribbons have become a tradition, but he would not back away from his argument.

The bottom line is that we had a nice ceremony and recognized over 25 serving military personnel. The editor did not show up, but his assistant served on the committee. She wrote a nice article about the celebration, and we all had a good laugh at the editor's expense.

Laughingly, I told some of my friends today, who were part of the email exchange, one a distinguished veteran, that I felt like writing a letter to the editor, remonstrating veterans who give away poppies. After all, opium comes from poppies and giving away paper ones is an endorsement of the use of illegal drugs. Yeah, I know about poppies and Flander's field, but that argument is about as absurd as the editor's and it would get a good laugh from most except those who aren't smart enough to catch the point. Kind of like Republicans who don't realize that The Colbert Report is satire.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Afternoon at the Singing Convention

Singing conventions have been around for years, at least since sometime in the early 20th Century, and maybe earlier than that. As a child, I attended them regularly because my father was a avid singer. My sister played piano as well.

I had not been to a singing convention since sometime in my early teens. Yesterday, our historical society sponsored a singing convention in the Old Union County Courthouse, which we manage as a historic site. Large singing conventions were often held in the old county courthouses because the courtroom was usually the largest auditorium in the area. Thus, we were recreating a tradition that went on for many years. Our courthouse was once the site of the National Singing Convention.

Our county has had several natives who were gospel songwriters. Fred Rich and Hansel Hunter, together, wrote over a thousand songs. Rich's song "Jordan" has been recorded by such artists as Emmy Lou Harris, The Grateful Dead, and the Stanley Brothers. His family still releases his songs occasionally for publication in the various singing convention books.

Singing convention music is also known as "shaped note" music. Instead of the usual round notes on the staff, each of the seven notes is represented by a different shape. Singers who can read only shaped notes cannot read music written in the usual way, however, anyone who reads music by lines and spaces can read shaped note music. During a convention the singers sit together by parts and those who wish to choose and lead a song are chosen at random by the leader.

Yesterday, we had a full house in the courtroom, which seats over 2oo people. In addition we had between 25 and 30 singers and several pianists. The singing lasted about three hours and a great time was had by all. One family, which has a long and outstanding musical tradition, was represented by the mother and her three sons. The sons, all musicians and singers, have music degrees and are excellent musicians.

My father's family were great shaped note singers. For the first time in my life, I sang at a singing convention, sitting beside my cousin. We were both somewhat overwhelmed by the fact that we were recreating a family tradition that had been dormant for at least 50 years.

Singing conventions have been a dying tradition for many years. There simply isn't much of an interest in this kind of music anymore. I hope that we are able to revive it a bit in our area. It is fun to sing the lively gospel singing convention music. One must be a good sight reader and able to handle the movement of the various parts in order to keep up. For me it was a great adventure and much fun, although I am far from being the singer that my father was and that my music major sister remains.