Don’t be a problem be a solution – the NFL on its knees

I was note doodling the other day trying to stimulate the brain a little. It’s what I do, but in this case, it was not too stimulating. I decided to post my notes to Facebook and take the pulse of my FB friends. I didn’t get too many fire bombs thrown at me. I never liked singing to the choir anyway.

This is what I posted to Facebook:

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The National Football League (NFL) minimum salary for 2018 is $480,000.00. That means the lowest player on the depth chart who most likely did not graduate from college and may spend an entire season riding the pine makes about 9 times the US median income. An Army Private with less than 2 years of active service is paid $19, 659.00 per year. A West Point graduate entering service makes $37, 292.00 per year. A Staff Sergeant with 6 years of service and most likely supporting a family makes a whopping $38,059.00 per year. An Army Major with 6 years of service makes $74,862.00 per year. The NFL league minimum for 6 years of experience is $790,000.00.

The combined salaries listed above for active military service is $169,872.00 per year. That is just a little more than one quarter of the salary of single NFL rookie whose never played a professional down.

I chose the military pay scale for this illustration because that is my background. For the record, the median annual pay for a public school teacher is $55,259.00. That means half of them make less than that. The average salary for a police officer is $49,808.00. For a Firefighter its $45,969.00. The average for an EMT is $34,000.00. The average for a Registered Nurse is $66,640.00. The combined salaries of our nation’s most critical servants is $251,676.00. Just barely more than one half the cost of an NFL rookie.

For $421,548.00, less than the minimum pay of a first year NFL player, we can field a professional Army a squad willing to put their lives on the line defending us (even football players). We can provide a school teacher for our children, a police officer to protect us, a fire fighter risking life to save our property, and EMT to save our lives on the way to the hospital and a registered nurse to care for us when we get there.

So, kneeling fist raising NFL player. Tell me again about social justice.

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I’m told to accept that kneeling or whatever other gesture one might make is meant to bring awareness to social justice issues. Social justice can mean many different things and has over time. Equal treatment under the law, etc. When I look at the data base of NFL players arrested compiled from public records and media reports by USA Today sports writer Brent Schrotenboer, I imagined there may be some personal justice system issues here. But, put that aside and let’s not judge.

I know that comparing salaries from different occupations is not a basis for drawing too many conclusions about anything. For me, it illustrates a societal view of the world. Wealthy people, many of whom may be paupers like me within a year or two of leaving the NFL (Sports Illustrated How and Why Athletes Go Broke), often have a somewhat inflated view of themselves or of their importance to most anything except their exceptional athletic ability. Athleticism and special treatment cultivated from childhood. In this regard, they are not unlike entertainers. For most of their existence, they’ve existed in a walled off world typically far from reality. It’s hard to effect change when life has not taught you where the change needs to start.

Now, let’s take this issue back to its origin.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Colin Kaepernick

On multiple occasions, I’ve heard NFL players when challenged declare that this has never been about disrespecting the flag. Doesn’t that conflict with their founder’s declaration. Regardless, to take a knee or make any other gesture when the national colors are displayed and the national anthem played is disrespectful. No matter the declared reasoning, it cannot be rationalized. It is a display of disrespect and disloyalty to our country. God gave you the free will to choose your way, but He did not relieve you of the consequences of your choices. There are movies I won’t go see because the people starring in them have chosen to share their political views while insulting large numbers of people who ultimately pay their exorbitant salaries. Last year I switched off my favorite NFL pre-game show right in the middle of a certain color commentator’s comments about the President and the 1st Amendment. What I wanted to hear was thoughts on football. Last season, I didn’t watch their program again or another game. It didn’t hurt my wallet one bit. When political activism is divorced from football, I may tune in again. For now, however, I am enjoying baseball and looking forward to the college football season.

I’ve also heard that it is about freedom of speech. According to some, if team owners forced players to stand for the flag and anthem they would be taking away their freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is guaranteed us by the US Constitution. There is a big however. When paid professional football players take the field for a game, they are employees. Employees don’t have a Constitutional right to free speech or freedom of expression at work. Constitutional right to free speech means the government cannot restrict free speech. It all comes down to what the team owner allows or restricts. But, not to worry most of them straddle the fence as well. If their income takes another big hit this season, we’ll see. Leave them be, I say. Let them kneel, fist pump, sit, stay in the locker room. Who cares?

If players have to be forced or coerced to stand for our flag and anthem, I don’t want them to stand. I prefer honest disloyalty and disrespect to feigned respect. I prefer to know who they are not who they pretend to be. For me, I have a choice. I choose not to participate in your protests or be a spectator of your entertainment. See how easy this was?

The people mentioned at the beginning of this contribute daily to our country and our communities. They perform invaluable services enthusiastically for a pittance compared to what these protesting athletes get. I have a question for the players who continue to kneel. What have you done for communities in need? Take your wealth and fame and go do something rather than protesting. The government, politicians, and activists are not the solution. Truth be known, they are the problem. Always demanding that someone else do something is the problem. Try doing something rather than demanding that something be done. You know. Don’t be a problem. Be a solution.

I wager the next chickenshit move for the NFL is to do away with pre-game posting of the national colors and playing the national anthem. Or at a minimum not televising them.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

 

E Pluribus Unum – Out of many one

We are not living up to the words gracing our national symbol, E Pluribus Unum. Out of many one.

You can be a wing nut left or right, middle of the road kill, anarchist, or even call yourself an independent. Frankly, I don’t know any independents. If a right wing nut is surrounded by left wing nuts he or she suddenly transform into an independent. They lack courage to stand their ground. Independent is a good barrier to hide behind. Then there are the intellectually deficient who agree what a great idea something is until they discover it comes from someone they’re ideologically conditioned to hate. With all of this mess, is it any wonder that our political system, which many of us do not even understand, needs an enema. When a group of overpaid and over-served people cannot agree that a good idea is a good idea then we are lost. Doomed to spend the rest of our days trapped in in the pit of regressive ideological hell. Two plus two once equaled four. Give the problem to congress and they would debate this for months. Have hearings and investigations. Ask the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate. And, in the end we’d have common core math where any answer is fine. Then the Supreme Court would rule the Constitution supports that conclusion.

We have an ever-widening array of ideologies, culture conflicts and identity groups. What is growing more difficult is finding red, white, and blue Americans. Those great melting pot people. Then ones who left less than satisfactory lives for the American ideal of individual liberty. They embraced exceptionalism, became Americans. A people who have their internal squabbles about one policy or another, but who would stand shoulder to shoulder defending our way of life. People who believe in the founding principles of our country. People who want to defend and be governed by our Constitution rather than some ideologically driven activist judge. People who would never take a knee.

Where are those people?

They’re still here in overwhelming numbers I believe. The discounted people. The people who’ve felt the pain inflicted by politicians wholly owned by the donor class. The people talked down to by condescending political and media types. The people who work everyday to provide for their families should they be fortunate enough to have a job. The people who fill the ranks of our military, police forces and fire departments. They work in our factories, run small businesses, provide services. Fix our plumbing. The great middle class. The people politicians promise to help but never do. The forgotten people.

The Washington establishment, the media establishment, the people convinced they are decidedly smarter than everyone else believe they all had it figured out. Then they lost to a non-political outsider. They hated one candidate and loved the other. They overlooked the character flaws of one, but not the other. They considered one an intellectual giant and the other an idiot. They could not conceive that one candidate could possibly win an election yet it happened. They were left distraught and astounded because they were conditioned to think in a certain way. Conditioned to draw a mental red line and automatically despise anyone that stands on the other side. Conditioned to believe they were the smart people who knew what was best for the rest. They built up pre-conceived notions about people and set about trying to prove those notions to themselves and everyone else. Even if it meant ignoring, burying or misconstruing the truth.

Anyone who believes that voter fraud to some extent has not played a role in elections for the history of elections is rather naïve. We have concocted every conceivable method of potential voter fraud. Absentee ballots for most anyone, early voting, allowing non-citizens to register to vote in local elections, sanctuary cities, sanctuary states, automatically registering people to vote when they obtain a driver’s license when you don’t need to be a citizen to get a driver’s license, no voter identification laws.

When all else fails and the establishment’s favored candidate loses they promptly roll out the tired argument of doing away with the electoral college and have the president elected by popular vote. If you look at the 2016 final election results you’ll see that minus the sanctuary state of California, the popular vote changes sides. That is the brilliance of the electoral college. It does not allow one population center to control the outcome of presidential elections. It makes every vote count for something.

We are not living up to the words gracing our national symbol, E Pluribus Unum. Out of many one. We are devolving into ideological Balkanization. We no longer embrace American Exceptionalism. The world’s one country founded on the principle of individual freedom. We are trying to take the exceptional one and turn it into a divided many. Your culture, color, ethnicity, religion…. None of that matters. What matters is are you an American? One who embraces our Democratic Republic? The time for choosing is upon us. Out of many one or out of many nothing?

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal.

Seek the truth it will set you free

I was minding my own business doing research on the players in the biggest political scandal in our nation’s history. What an ugly and divisive event this has been for our country. While looking over my notes I opened the web browser to search for something. Facebook was on the open tab and staring me right in the kisser was a big picture of an aging Jane Fonda. There was a sigh. There was a lengthy message accompanying the photo and I knew parts of it were bogus. Many of us accept without much question everything we read on Facebook as we do with media news and commentary. We’ll accept it more readily if it’s negative toward someone to whom we already have an aversion. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s made us lazy headline readers and victims of search engines leading our attempts at research. It also worsens our national attention deficit disorder. Instead of sticking to what I was doing, I felt compelled to add at least one bit of truth to Ms. Fonda’s Facebook spread. I added her quote about communism:

If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would someday become communist. . .. I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism. – Jane Fonda

Back in 2000, while trying to sell a book, she presented sorrowful for her excursions with the North Vietnamese. I wrote a letter explaining that there are better places to begin making amends than the Oprah show. If in fact it was her aim to make amends. Over the years, however, she’s only appeared apologetic for taking a picture with North Vietnamese soldiers perched on an anti-aircraft gun.

After I posted to Facebook her views on communism, a Fonda apologist responded. It should not have surprised me. Not long ago, after reading about John Kerry trying to derail or prevent talks between the Trump administration and the Palestinians, I thought I’d remind people about who John Kerry is. An angry Kerry apologist responded, quite incoherently I might add. It’s interesting how all of them use the same tact. They build a strawman and commence pounding the snot out of him while attacking your character and everything for which they believe you stand. Yet, in all their zeal they never acknowledge they don’t know you from Adam and never ever address facts presented. They just spew illogical hatred. And just as you see and hear the yapping heads on television or radio, they will never let you have the last word. If it was possible to filibuster in print, they would. Maybe it is some type of psychosis which, unless I am familiar with the sender, is why I rarely respond to comments or emails. However, while defending the Jane Fonda’s and John Kerry’s of our world they forget what’s most important. Time passes, views may soften, and there is always generational ignorance of the truth, but the truth remains the truth. And the documented truth is these two individuals betrayed our military members serving in Vietnam, betrayed our country, and collaborated with our enemy.

According to the Fonda apologist my Dear Jane letter is just more garbage and I am harboring anger over something that happened nearly 50 years ago. I am also a lost soul trapped in my sin of anger. I guess she told me. It may come as a shock to her and like-minded others, but I am not an angry person. I am not angry at Jane. Rather I pity her as I pity anyone who cannot look or think through their malignant hatred and deeply ingrained biases to see the greatness of this country. I especially pity the self-loathing and those who, because of the opportunities our country provides, have lived privileged lives yet want to change the country to conform to an ideology or form of government that would ensure no one else can ever raise their life’s status. Life’s hard lessons taught me that harboring anger and hatred sucks the life right out of you. We need to let go of it. But letting go of hatred does not mean that I or anyone should ever let go of the truth or allow it to be buried beneath misinformation or incoherent rage. As a people, we’ll certainly fair better when we accept the truth and move on.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Nowadays, it is quite difficult to have civil discussion. Angry people hold to arguments made up out of whole cloth. They either lack knowledge of facts or they simply accept a storyline that plays to their emotional state. A story that justifies hatred held for a person or group. Sadly, our country’s major media are the greatest purveyors of the slanted stories and the hatred. Some have morphed into around the clock hate machines. It is our nation’s greatest abuse of hard won freedom.

Humans are fallible. Not a single one of us is perfect. All of us have something in our past for which we wished we could have a do over. I suspect most of us could not endure the scrutiny and hatred directed at our President. His supporters are deplorable, they smell, they’re Nazis, they’re stupid and it goes on and on and most of it coming from other politicians, employees of the federal government and the news media. With all of our human failings, we have the audacity to stand in judgment of people we’ve never met or engaged in conversations. We’ve turned into a fairly pathetic lot. We long ago stopped seeking the truth. It is only the hard and unbridled truth that doesn’t always agree with our worldviews that will set us free.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

What happened to our country? These are not our values. This isn’t who we are.

I think I’ve figured it out. There’s multiple Americas. I don’t mean North, Central and South. I mean multiple US of As. What other explanation could there possibly be. When I hear a windblown politician, a television yakking head, or the wholly ignorant in the streets making these comments I think: That’s exactly what should be happening in our country! That is exactly what I value. That is exactly who I am. So, here we rest our weary hearts and minds. In a standoff across an ever-widening abyss. An abyss of wayward ideologies, ignorance, directionless baseless hatred, stupidity… multiple Americas.

As they like to declare over there in East Virginia, let me be clear. There are rational people who consider themselves either liberal or conservative. There are irrational people who are used as a broad brush to categorize them all. Not every liberal is a progressive socialist. Not every conservative is a white supremacist. There are conservatives more liberal than self-identified liberals. There are liberals more conservative than self-identified conservatives. I would say the same about self-identified Democrats and Republicans except with each passing day, that nom de plume is becoming more meaningless.

One America has become irrelevant. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is irrelevant. Our Constitution is only relevant to the extent we can get enough judges to declare it means whatever we want it to mean. What’s relevant is political power at all costs. What’s not relevant is loyalty to our country, knowledge and acceptance of our history including the good, bad and ugly, understanding American Exceptionalism – the only country ever founded on the precept of individual liberty, and basic knowledge of how the branches of our government are supposed to function.

Own up to it, the world’s most powerful country, we are no longer a unified like-minded people. Like minded in the importance of liberty that is. Nope. We are a color, an ethnicity, a religion, a gender, a hyphenated American, a sexual orientation, pro-life, pro-abortion. We are you name it – everything except freedom loving Americans. Guardians of freedom. We hear about the unfairness of capitalism by people who’ve become wealthy because of capitalism. We hear of the virtues of Socialism and Communism minus their world scourge from the already wealthy or the ignorant.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Washington is filled with people who forgot their purpose is service. Many of them in Washington for so long they’re no longer cognizant of life outside the beltway. They are not beholden to the people who continually send them there. They are beholden to mega corporation and defense industry lobbyists. Beholden to power and to the people who give them money to help them stay in power. Their decision cycle is quite simple. What do my donors want? How much cash can I milk them for to push legislation they want? How do I spread the wealth around to garner support from other swamp dwellers? How can I dress it up so the saps who vote for me will think I am doing something great for them? Repeat.

The Washington cartel relies on the divisions they foster. They also rely on the stupid-ignorant. Stupid are those lacking intelligence or common sense. They’re prone to unreasoned thinking. It is, as they say, hard to fix stupid. Some even insist you can’t fix it. The ignorant lack knowledge. In this case knowledge of our country from our founding through our history, our Constitution and functioning of the branches of our government. Ignorance is fixable, but it is a grand challenge when the ignorant do not believe they are so because of life-long indoctrination. When stupid is combined with ignorance, it is the perfect formula for self-destruction. The Washingtonians rely on it as do those who inspire the no borders no country protests, those who attack people for their beliefs, and those driven by blind hatred toward a group or an individual.

What happened to our country? What are our values? Who are we?

Questions for our time. If all of us cannot answer them with the same response then we have no country, no values and no identity.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

Sometimes life needs a reboot

Recently, I reviewed a book manuscript written by an old Solider and mentor. Great story that some publisher or movie screenwriter would be wise to grab hold of. I’m envious. I can’t share details, but the story stirred memories of another time. A time when our country was not in great shape. War protestors were in the streets while Americans were fighting and dying in a place only a few short years earlier most Americans had never heard of. Unfortunately for those in combat, it was a politically managed war. For the Soldier’s part, it was not about politics. It was about the Soldier standing next to them and survival. Thanks for the trip down memory lane my friend.

In September 1971, I was in basic combat training at Fort Ord, California. Monterey, Carmel by the Sea beautiful places. But, I was on Planet Ord known for fog, sand, ice plant and Vietnam Combat Veteran Drill Sergeants. Although the draft era was coming to an end, there were plenty draftees. There were also Reservists and National Guard. It was Regular Army (RA) that seemed the rarity. That was me. During that time, volunteering to serve wasn’t in vogue. The connected managed draft deferments or Reserve unit assignments while others avoided the draft by going to Canada.

At age 16, I was a high school dropout working for minimum wage as an unskilled laborer in a Chicago factory. After a couple of years, I looked around at men twice my age still breaking their backs. I didn’t like that glimpse of my future. A couple of weeks shy of my 19th birthday I walked into the Recruiter’s office on North Clark Street. Two days later I was on an airplane to California.

After a tortuous couple of weeks, I developed a blister on the pinkie toe of my right foot. My Drill Sergeant was quite clear when he told us he wanted to see any blister or other such thing if we had one. I showed him mine. It was very painful. He handed me a half a bag of salt obviously pilfered from mess hall stores. He told me to get a small trash can put hot water and salt in it and soak my foot and that would take care of it. I did. Several days later I was admitted to Fort Ord’s World War II era hospital with a very swollen foot and lower leg. The Doc said it was cellulitis. All I know is that it was throbbing painful and near impossible to stand on.

I was admitted to the surgical ward. It was a large bay with beds on each side. Some of them held medical evacuees from Vietnam. I recall one skinny little troop around my age. He seemed fine except for the metal brace on his left leg that clamped around the bottom of his boot. He said he was a helicopter door gunner when he was wounded and now he was waiting medical discharge. It brought life into focus for me – a two-week old recruit. The hospital kept me for a couple of weeks. When I returned to my unit, my locker was cleaned out and my stuff locked away in the supply room. I was sent to another unit to complete training.

The next unit was odd I thought. There were only three platoons. It did not take long to discover that I was one of only three RA recruits in the company. There was a spattering of draftees (US) and the remainder were in the Army Reserve (AR) or the National Guard (NG). There were some well educated people, a lawyer or two, some athletes. Not typical of those I associated with on the factory floor or expected to find in Army basic training. All had their reasons for being there. The draftees because their number was up, the Reservists and Guardsmen trying to get service commitments behind them so they could get back to already established lives and the RAs just beginning life’s journey. One major difference. The US and RA expected to go to Vietnam following training. At least that is what the Drill Sergeants pounded into our heads. The National Guard, and I believe the Reservists also, still had to qualify with the M-14 because that is what their units had. The National Guard also had to have riot control training.

In the spring of 1972, I completed training. Like others, I expected my first assignment to be Vietnam, but as I would later learn Vietnam was in drawdown. In large numbers, Soldiers were leaving Vietnam. My first assignment was to Korea. In February, I arrived at the replacement depot wearing my winter green uniform via a Military Airlift Command (MAC) Northwest Orient flight out of McChord Air Force Base, Washington to Osan, Air Base, Pyeongtek, Korea. During the few days I spent there, a flight full of Soldiers wearing jungle fatigues arrived from Vietnam. It was not an adequate uniform for February in Korea. Talking to some of them, they were barely on the ground in Vietnam before they were diverted to Korea.

My service career began with I Corps, Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, Korea. No matter where you’ve been – Northeast Asia or Southeast Asia – during that period the description of a town (Village or Vil in GI lingo) could be layered one over the other. The people, the streets, markets, alleyways, the shops and clubs catering to Soldiers were all about the same.

All things considered, for a directionless kid taken under the wing of a Korean War Veteran First Sergeant, it was a second chance on life. I’m thankful it turned out OK.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J.D. Pendry’s American Journal

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