50 years ago: the beginning of political activism

By the time this was published, two or three weeks later, I was MORTIFIED by my response.

When I was 15, I was a conventionally conservative kid, fueled by my religion and small city roots. I had been in a couple civil rights marches but that was a topic that affected me personally.

I was preternaturally aware of the political issues, reading the op-ed pages of both the morning Sun-Bulletin and the Evening Press. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were on the NBC news and Walter Cronkite was over on CBS, and I watched one network or the other since I was 11.

I entered Binghamton Central High in February 1968 and was asked early on by someone on the school newspaper, the Panorama News, who I supported for President. Oddly, I hadn’t given it much thought. I opted for Richard Nixon, noting that he had eight years as Vice-President.

By the time this was published, two or three weeks later, I was MORTIFIED by my response. I was going through…something. It may have been the influence of new friends or Cronkite’s assessment of the Vietnam war on February 27 as a likely stalemate.

On March 12, Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) received 42% of the vote in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire against a sitting President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was utterly fascinated by this turn of events.

Still, I was not prepared when Johnson invoked the pledge in his March 31 national address, announcing, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” I had developed mixed feelings about LBJ. Great on civil rights, but like many, I was doubting the point of the war in southeast Asia.

So I’m pleased that my daughter, at an age younger than I was, is feeling all riled up about some issues in her world, more about which I’ll mention in due time. I think the Resistance play she was in this month at church was really in her emotional wheelhouse.

J is for the Johnson amendment

Preachers can preach on feeding the poor and clothing the naked, and that a just society ought to be doing that.

In the midst of the process of creating the massive tax bill at the end of 2017, the US Congress attempted to remove The Johnson Amendment. Fortunately, Congress’ own rules prevented from happening in that particular manner.

From the Wikipedia: It is “a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. [These] organizations [range] from charitable foundations to universities and churches. The amendment is named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, [later the 36th President] who introduced it in a preliminary draft of the law in July 1954.”

Recent claims suggested that the provision was some sort of attack on the First Amendment’s freedom of religion and speech. Defenders of the Johnson amendment, including me, believe that when the churches and other nonprofit organizations that are exempt from taxation, the prohibition against “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office” is appropriate, for it would otherwise be the state establishing religion.

Now the law is fairly narrow in scope. “Nonpartisan voter education activities and church-organized voter registration drives are legal. Pastors are free to preach on social and political issues of concern. Churches can publish ‘issue guides’ for voters.” In other words, preachers can preach on feeding the poor and clothing the naked, and that a just society ought to be doing that.

As it turns out, the piece to quash the Johnson amendment in the December 2017 budget bill was blocked by the Senate parliamentarian. “Because of a requirement called the Byrd Rule, reconciliation bills — which are passed through a simple Senate majority — cannot contain ‘extraneous’ provisions that don’t primarily deal with fiscal policy.”

Nonreligious people have said for decades that we ought to be taxing the churches, and I disagree. But if a religious entity wants to engage in partisan politics, endorsing candidates, it should give up its tax-exempt status.

For ABC Wednesday

Presidents Day 2017: Nixon’s the One

JFK Calls about Furniture

George Washington’s first inaugural address (April 1789), referring to himself: “One, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

Now I Know: The Case of George Washington versus Pinocchio

John Quincy Adams: When The People Cheered

Presidents in Our Backyard – Part 1 (Martin Van Buren, Chester A. Arthur, Ulysses S. Grant)

The highest-ranked President who only served one-term is James Knox Polk.

Sarah Knox Taylor, the second daughter of Zachary Taylor and the first Mrs. Jefferson Davis

This is an actual standard fantasy I’ve had over the years Continue reading “Presidents Day 2017: Nixon’s the One”

Presidents Day 2016

Woodrow Wilson was extremely racist — even by the standards of his time.


Presidents Day quiz


Rose Fitzgerald
Janet “Jessie” Woodrow
Dorothy Walker
Jane Knox
Hannah Simpson

Hussein; Gamaliel; Abram; Earl; Alan

The only one who went 4-0
2-0: He was twice too much for Adlai
2-1: 1-0 vs. James G. Blaine & a split with Benjamin Harrison
1-0, in a split decision over Samuel Tilden
One of the 2 who went 0-1


The most recent left-handed president.
The first president to be born in a hospital; it was October 1924.
The first to hold an Internet chat with the public.
The first born outside the original colonies, in 1809.

ABC News ‘This Week’ Powerhouse Puzzler
Which four sitting Vice Presidents have been elected President?


It’s a Scandal, It’s a Outrage

President Harding’s mistress wasn’t kidding, DNA tests show Continue reading “Presidents Day 2016”

40 years ago: the fall of Saigon

I knew a guy, Michael, who almost certainly died from Agent Orange exposure in early 1982, just after his daughter was born.

S.  Vietnamese in Da Nang struggle to climb aboard ships that will evacuate them to Cam Ranh Ba
S. Vietnamese in Da Nang struggle to climb aboard ships that will evacuate them to Cam Ranh Ba
I’ve been reading several news articles about the documentary ‘Last Days in Vietnam’, directed by Rory Kennedy, daughter of RFK, which revisits the fall of Saigon in 1975. If I get the opportunity, I’ll have to watch it.

I became actively opposed the Vietnam war in mid-1968, as much because of a 1967 speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. as anything.

Prior to that – I WAS only 15 – Continue reading “40 years ago: the fall of Saigon”