All posts by JD Pendry

Opening Day!

By J. D. Pendry

Are you a fan of the great American Pastime?  Have you ever used black tape from your Dad’s toolbox to put the baseball back together then go out and have a game with it?  When there was only one bat?  When you came in from the field, if you had a mitt you dropped it at your position for the next kid to use?  Your cleats were high top black sneakers?  Your uniform worn jeans and a tee-shirt?  You had a stack of baseball cards in the back pocket of your jeans and a jaw full of bubblegum?  Maybe even yesterday’s bubblegum?  Recall how proud you were when you made the team?  In the days when you actually had to make the team?  How proud you were on game day to don your little league Yankee uniform?  And wear your cap all the time?  Except at the dinner table?  The times when life was just a fun place to be?

I played baseball until my age exceeded my talent.  In my early Army days, I played men’s fast pitch and slow pitch softball.  It was fun, but not quite the same when the thud of the bat replaced the crack of the bat.  Still, on the softball field I was a little kid except that maybe the bubble gum was replaced by a chew and there were knee pads under my pants.

I followed my son from tee-ball days to high school.  Life permitting, I was there every season from spring until fall.  Those were special, unforgettable times.  The difference between my son and me?  He was the gifted athlete to my Pete Rose.  He had natural ability and there was nothing natural about my abilities.  When he went off to college, I found myself sitting in the bleachers watching the team he helped win a championship practice.  I had rather severe withdrawal symptoms.  The kind where you wonder what you are going to do from March to October.

As a youngster growing up in West Virginia, I was a Reds fan although I don’t recall a single player from the team.  I was also a Yankees fan, as was every other kid.  We all knew Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Whitey Ford and would trade a whole pack of cards including the bubblegum for one of theirs.  When I was barely a teenager, we moved to Chicago.  The Cubs games were on television every afternoon and if I was home, I watched.  When I learned how to get on the Clark Street bus and make my way to Wrigley field, I’d go to a game if could come up with the price of a ticket.  Sometimes, in the spring before school was out, I’d be in the stands for the afternoon game rather than my classes.  The great thing is in those days all the Cubs games were afternoon games because there were no lights at Wrigley.

Just mentioning 1969 still brings on a little nausea.  The Cubs were rolling in 69.  They were so hot and certain of the National League pennant, they recorded a song, “hey, hey holy mackerel the Chicago Cubs are on the way.”  Oh, I remember Kessinger to Beckert to Banks, the battery of Fergie Jenkins and Randy Hundley, sweet swinging Billy Williams and a big smiling Ernie Banks saying “let’s play three today.”  I remember watching on television when Jack Brickhouse and his signature “Hey, Hey!” when Ernie hit number 500.  In 1969, the Cubs lost out to the Mets and I have never forgiven the Mets.

Yesterday was opening day.  With the blessing of today’s technology and a streaming subscription, I can watch every Cubs game if Suzie-Q allows it.  Last night the Cubs bats pounded the Texas Rangers and Cubs fans in Texas were flying the W.  Sometimes it is just great to get lost in the moment and let the annoying stuff pass you by.  Baseball.  It still is the great American Pastime.

© 2019 J. D Pendry, J. D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved.

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The hero aura

By J. D. Pendry

Not every person of military service is a hero.  Not every person who serves does so out of patriotism.  Many are compelled into service for varying reasons.  They may be obliged to continue a family tradition.  Service may be the means to pay for their education.  They may look to the service to give them a marketable skill.  There are a multitude of reasons.  And on the political side?  Politicians seem always ready for purposes of self-aggrandizement to promote their Veteran status and exaggerate their military exploits.  Some get caught making their false claims of service and heroics.  But others?  They’re protected by the hero aura.

Whether by conscription or volunteering, I was conditioned in my early life to believe military service was something young men should experience.  From Southern West Virginia, at least in my time, I’d wager that many more young men left high school headed for the military or a coal mine than did for college.  My initial enlistment into the Army was by no means a selfless act. The farthest thing from it.  My odds of going to Vietnam were quite good, but by the time I completed training, Vietnam was in full drawdown.  When I enlisted In 1971, I was not thinking about service or patriotism or anything except escaping from the hillbilly ghettoes on the North Side of Chicago.  Later for me, it came to be about service and patriotism because I found my family and a fulfilling purpose of serving something greater than self.

People like me are not heroes.  Most now serving and most Veterans will tell you they do not consider themselves heroic, but will always offer they’ve served with and known true heroes.  True heroes are the humblest people you’ll ever encounter.  They do not boast and insist on recognizing accomplishments of others before themselves and attributing to others the deeds for which they are recognized.  Soldiers in the collective often perform heroic acts or complete heroic missions.  It’s their standard – their warrior creed.  They will tell you who the heroes are.  Those selfless individuals who exceed self-imposed expectations often performing miraculous acts of bravery to become true heroes among the heroic.

Over compensating America, justifiably so, is guilt ridden over its treatment of Vietnam Veterans and Veterans in general so today everyone that serves is easily labeled hero.  On some, are built legends.  Some try to build their own heroic story or just outright lie about it for other purposes.  In shining, practically impenetrable armor they mount their white horses and gallop in seeking adoration.  I learned early in my Army career to be wary of the boastful who rode in on their noble status to fix you or save you. Generally, they could do neither because they were preoccupied with self-promotion. People hesitate to oppose those fenced off by the hero aura.  Because of it, bad things sometimes happen or bad things are covered up.  We tiptoe lightly around the hero aura.  The longer a myth perpetuates the tougher it is to break through that armor.  It is much easier to pretend admiration of a hero, real or mythical, than to question their heroic merits or motives.  When their hero standing becomes national, their armor becomes impenetrable.  They will be admired and defended by people who neither know the truth nor pursue it.

By now, you may be wondering what possessed me to write about this topic.  For the past few days I’ve poured over pages of information refreshing my memory about a few select and prominent people.  Some real heroes and some self-proclaimed.  Some still living some passed on.  I was a little angered by recent news and I fully intended to dismantle some prominent individuals and had compiled pages of information with that in mind.  It was going to be a full out brutally honest assault.  I was pumped for it. 

Then someone I trust implicitly and have near 5 decades, the kindest and gentlest soul I know, asked me why is that necessary.  Other than satisfying my own anger, I could not offer a good reason.  I was reminded that even bad people have families and they’ve probably endured enough.  So, I will just leave it here.  I will not stand in judgement of anyone.  For as bad as I believe some of them are or were, each will face or have faced his or her Maker.  All of us, whether or not history records true legacies, for the lives we’ve lived we will be held accountable.  Our country has known many true heroes.  We have also been served many myths.  Myths that have harmed us as people and a country.  Always seek the truth.  Do not become blinded by the brightness of the hero aura.

© 2019 J. D. Pendry, J.D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved

Email J.D.: jd@jdpendry.com


Internal Rot

By J. D. Pendry

“America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  Abraham Lincoln

Occasionally, I look back through the Bunker archives to see what I was on my mind back then.  The archives are a journal of sorts.  Sometimes I’m surprised when something I wrote 15 years ago is as relevant today, or maybe even more so, than it was originally.  In 2005, I wrote Internal Rot for JD’s Bunker, the ancestor of American Journal.  Relevant today?  You decide.

I was passing a semi pulling tandem trailers when I clawed at the CD button to switch off the screeching talk radio.  The cab of my pick-up truck filled with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  Yes Beethoven!  You gotta a problem with that!?  In my rearview mirror, I saw a woman yakking on a cell phone.  She was following me so close that I could not see the headlights on her minivan.  After passing the semi, I flipped on my right turn signal indicator.  The semi driver blinked his headlights at me and I started to drift back into the slow lane.  Before I completed the lane change, Ms. mini-van was half a truck length past me.  She glared, a furrowed brow showing above her designer sunglasses and appeared to mouth something about my dear departed mother.  A Kerry/Edwards campaign sticker adorned the back window of her van.  Tailgating her was a bright red pick-up truck with a “W-04” sticker in the window.  Just as close behind him was an irritable looking driver, with a 10 O’clock 2 O’clock white knuckled grip on the steering wheel of a small SUV.  The bumper sticker proclaimed, “Jesus is my copilot.”  He’d be safer riding with me I thought.  Concluding that 3 of 5 rush hour drivers belong in an insane asylum, I slouched and focused on the music.

A friend of mine, and my historical authority of choice sent me an email about one of my recent columns.  His lesson for me was that throughout human history great societies have fallen because they first destroyed themselves from within.  Internal rot is the descriptive term he used adding that when the failing society is at its lowest point, outside forces will end it.

My commute and screeching talk radio illustrate where we are.  We’ve lost civility and are so intent on demonizing one another for our beliefs that we can’t focus on our roots or a common purpose – freedom and securing our country for example.  If you still have a 2004 Presidential campaign sticker on your car, you are part of the problem.  You’re trapping us in time, keeping us hostage to emotions and diverting us from important issues – sounds like a politician’s resume doesn’t it.  And, if your copilot is supposed to put you above the fray, your actions should demonstrate that you are.

The most basic leadership principle is being the example.  The led reflect the example of the leaders.  My drive home shows Americans following the example of those we elected to Congress to lead us, bolstered by senseless and endless Red State, Blue State political polls and media nonsense – liberal and conservative alike.  A look at the 911 hearings, steroid follies and recent cabinet confirmation hearings should be enough to convince anyone that the most destructive combination in America is an egomaniacal politician and a television camera.  It’s more obvious each day that you and I – Mr. and Ms. liberal Democrat, conservative Republican and proclaimed Independent – have elected and sent to Washington a collection of people not concerned about the problems facing our country.  Their concern instead is power at all costs.  When political leaders focus more on obtaining power and destroying political opposition than they do solving problems – which seems to be the focus of our currently non-functioning political system – the result is political rot.  We are watching the decay of what is supposed to be the world’s greatest representative republic.

Moral relativism has saturated our society.  Many believe there are no absolutes when it comes to right or wrong.  They see behavior in shades of gray in conflict with others who view behavioral absolutes of black and white.  The chasm between the two grows.  Many manmade laws of our country are a product of moral relativism.  They contradict the Judeo-Christian values on which our country was founded and often the laws of nature itself.

Moral relativism is why we are not raising our children properly.  Recent examples of out of control children and adolescents in schools demonstrate that.  We pump our kids up with MTV and junk food then try to calm them with Prozac and Ritalin.  We send them to school dressed as thugs and prostitutes.  We connect their brain housing groups to MP3 players and cell phones.  We baby sit them in Internet chat rooms.  They don’t know math, science, history or current events.  Is this how we prepare them to confront the most complicated and dangerous world in human history – and to preserve our country?  More likely, we are preparing them to accept what follows the rot.

We have the power to fix what is wrong – you and I.  We can lop off rotten limbs and cauterize wounds, but once the roots of our way of life – our political system, our morality and how we raise our children – begin to rot, we might consider how soon we’ll need to start learning Chinese.

© 2005 J. D. Pendry   All Rights Reserved  Email JD: jd@jdpendry.com

There is an education scandal way beyond what’s in the news

By J. D. Pendry

Do you really think this college admissions scandal is new?  A new racket?  Just look at some of those we know supposedly educated at highfalutin institutions of higher learning.  Our political families?  People who would die rather than hob nob with the peasants over at the public school.  It’s always been that way.  Daddy donates a few million and junior is admitted.  Even if junior is dumb as a box of rocks.  President’s kid?  Pick any school.  According to Ben Shapiro, a brilliant young man and Harvard Law graduate, these children of the wealthy are not going to school to learn a skill set.  They’re going there for the credential and the lifelong social connections – another participation trophy.  Yep, these are the people with their “credential” and “connections” who end up running our country.  Certainly, it’s not every wealthy kid just as certain as it is that there are principled and ethical parents who actually worked hard for what they have and believe their children should do the same, but from the evidence it’s easy to surmise it is many.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into our education system as American Journal is privileged to have an expert on our team, who I expect will have plenty to say about that in future posts.

“What are the humanities?  The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries.” Stanford Humanities Center

When we consider these young people who are mostly getting degrees in the humanities, which has expanded to encompass things beyond classic humanities such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, what is their likely career path?  It’s academia, government, journalism and similar occupations because they have nothing to offer industries that need engineers, mathematicians, scientists or other skills. Don’t misunderstand, I know there are value to the degrees.  We must know our history.  We must have people who are skilled at running a free and fair press.  We must have teachers and as bad as it may be most days, someone to run our government.

Each year our universities, elite and not so elite, turn out into society, legions of young people who know “how process and document the human experience.”  They take that education and the “sense of connection” and just want to make our lives better.  Humanities subjects themselves are important to any society, but I’m left to ponder what additions to these areas of study do professors offer their students.  Do they get history lessons accompanied by a fact less possibly tainted worldview?

I am left to wonder when I see and hear these young people root for Socialism while offering disdain for capitalism.  I hear them defending and demanding democracy when we are a representative republic not a pure democracy.  I hear them demanding that we abandon the Electoral College and instead rely on a national popular vote to elect a president clearly not understanding that to do so would mean east and west coast population centers turning the rest of the country into voiceless serfdom – and that unfortunately is the stuff civil wars are made of.  They oppose voter identification laws while supporting sanctuary cities and in some cases sanctuary states for illegal immigrants.  They think 16 year old children should vote, as their matron Nancy Pelosi declared, “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about the government, to be able to vote.”  Exactly, Madame Speaker, when they have zero life experience and are easily emotionally manipulated, “Our world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change!”  I was 16 once and was never “interested in all this” but I was as gullible as any 16 year old could be.  They also believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to vote, might I add legally.  Write it down, it’s the next voting rights move.  They listen to Bernie Sanders and cheer for free Medicare for all, discounting the millions upon millions who were forced into the system and now depend on it.  A guaranteed living wage that will close the doors on small business quicker than you can say bankruptcy.  And it goes on and on and on until we get to free college for all the voting age 18-year olds and maybe 16 as well.

There are millions of Americans like me.  We do not have a lot, but we’re okay.  We worked decades for what we do have and that makes us appreciate things more, especially our free country.  But the system made us dependent.  Dependent on a military pension or some other, social security, and our often-piddling retirement accounts.  All of which will disappear in a puff of smoke when our children educated in the “human experience” with a healthy dose of 60’s activism votes for utopia.  They tell me however, they’re no longer interested in old white men so it’s not likely to be Bernie who does us in.  Kamala and Spartacus?

© 2019 J. D. Pendry  J. D. Pendry’s American Journal  Email: jd@jdpendry.com

The Snake and Different Shades of Pale

By J. D. Pendry

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.Genesis 5:1-2

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.
Original Lyrics by C. Herbert Woolston

Mankind.  Each one of us made in God’s likeness.  Each one of us a different shade of pale.  People declare that no one knows what God looks like.  No one knows if He is white, black, brown, red, yellow.  But we do know.  He is all of those.  “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.”  The specifications, as far as I can tell from scripture, did not include colors.  Still, as humankind tends to do, we began judging people, among a hundred other things, because of their skin tone.  Sometimes we forget.  Since none of us have seen God and lived to talk about it, let’s accept that everyone you see is “in the likeness of God.”  If you accept that there is a God, doesn’t it follow that you believe He made all of us in His likeness.  Then shouldn’t we also love our neighbors as ourselves.

I am neither Preacher nor Biblical scholar, but what I know is from the time Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the mankind God created in His likeness have been turning away from Him.  Ever since the serpent convinced them, you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Apparently, we are not very good at being like God. He does a much better job separating good from evil.

Take a look around.  Everyone seems focused on skin tone or some other identity.  We hear about people of color.  We are all people of color, different shades of one color.  We are one race.  The human race.  And we are allowing ourselves to be torn apart.  Torn apart by people who have no interest in loving their neighbor.  They prefer the snake’s approach of separating us from God and then from each other all the while trying to convince us evil is good.

Here in America our national motto is “In God We Trust.”  When we return to our founding documents, we find declarations owing to our Creator, appealing to His judgement on the goodness of our intentions, and asking for his protection as we go forth:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…”

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Biblically, we have but one identity, “made in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them.” Anything beyond that is a worldly invention, not a creation of God.  We have given away our one identity and replaced it with skin tones, gender, political ideology, religion, and you name it.  It is up to each one of us the choose a path.  The serpent’s or God’s.

For us, it’s becoming increasingly difficult.  Through many of our man-made laws, we mock God.  There are snakes among us constantly spreading hatred and pushing us away from one another rather than bringing us together.  We witness that 24 hours a day in our unending news cycles.  We have moved a great distance from the nation that believed we were endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for His blessing, and actively sought the protection of divine Providence.  In my view of the world, if we continue on our current path God will do what He’s done before.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

© 2019 J. D. Pendry  J. D. Pendry’s American Journal