Monthly Archives: October 2014

Picking at the Scabs of Race Relations

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In 1950, Jesse Helms was in charge of publicity for the Senatorial campaign of Wills Smith, a conservative Democrat, a campaign that featured fliers with the unambiguous heading, “Wake Up, White People.”

Helms would later run and win as a Senator from North Carolina. In 1990, running against Harvey Gantt, the Helms campaign released an ad that tightly focused on a pair of white hands, crumpling up a job-rejection letter, with a voice over that he lost the job because they had to hire a minority. Continue reading

Sharing the Danger

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This is a difficult MULLINGS to write because I am not certain how I would react if it were me.

The issue is mandatory isolation – quarantine – of doctors, nurses, and military personnel who have been in the Ebola area of West Africa. I have unending respect for Americans who make the decision go into dangerous places to help try to save people’s lives.

The case making current news has to do nurse Kaci Hickox who had been in Sierra Leone working with Doctors without Borders. Continue reading

Media Malpractice in Ferguson

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The nation’s news media has never been held in lower esteem. And never has that derision been more deserved than in Ferguson. It’s astounding really, how irresponsible the news coverage has been.

The facts are thus. A white cop and a black man get into scuffle. The white cop shoots the black man.

End of story.

Tragic? Yes. But hardly the conspiracy that we have been led to believe by the news media. Continue reading

What “Winning the Senate” Means

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We’ve heard all the chatter about the chances of the GOP taking control of the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections a week from Tuesday.

But what, if that should happen, would that mean, in practice?

First of all, assuming Republicans end up with a net six seats (either through knocking off six Democrats in the elections, getting a few sitting Democrats to switch sides, or both) they will get to organize the Senate. Continue reading

Quotes to Remember When Bad News Breaks


Through the years (I won’t mention how many) my mind has accumulated a great deal of quotations, not in any systematic way, but through the random process of reading and listening. Many of the quotes that I remember most clearly come from sources—-old radio shows and old songs in particular–not known for providing nourishing food for the mind.

Why I remember certain quotations and not others is a mystery. I wish I could say I know great chunks of the Bible or Shakespeare or Lincoln by heart, but I don’t. Throughout my life, when I try to memorize something special, I almost always fail to do. I can hold my own in a contest to recall song lyrics written by such Golden Age giants as Johnny Mercer, Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter, but I think this is because the words are accompanied by irresistibly memorable tunes which can be great mnemonic devices. Continue reading


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I have no interest in adding to the rising level of fear-mongering and finger-pointing that we’re reading, hearing, and seeing about Ebola. It is scary enough without a bunch of people running around like a character in an Edvard Munch painting.

I just looked this up. According to an outbreak “happens when a disease occurs in greater numbers than expected in a community or region or during a season.” Continue reading

Reflections on Failure, in Baseball and Politics


Long ago I read a short story (I believe it was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald) in which a rich young man loses the girl he loves. He resumes his dissolute life, going to parties, laughing at every joke, dancing exuberantly with pretty girls who adore him. There is only one problem that suggests he may not have recovered from his loss. Every now and then, no matter where he is, at a formal dinner or a party or a dance, he suddenly bursts into tears, and sobs uncontrollably as his friends look on.

I do not wish to suggest that my grief over the Washington Nationals post-season loss against the San Francisco Giants is as great as that of the character who lost his soul-mate, but I didn’t take the defeat easily. Continue reading

Oil & Gas

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The American oil and gas industry has saved our collective bacon.

On July 3, 2008, oil closed at $145.29 a barrel. Demand was strong. Inventories were low. And production was inelastic.

A few weeks ago, headlines screamed that U.S. and Gulf State aircraft had target Syrian oil installations under ISIS’ control in an attempt to degrade its ability to fund its operations. Continue reading

Soda Tax & Yoga Tax: The Common Thread

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On one side of the country, in the People’s Republic of Berkley, the city council there is trying to raise taxes on soda pop.

On the other side of the country, in the People’s Republic of Washington D.C., the City Council raised taxes on people doing Yoga.

So what is the common thread linking the Soda tax and the Yoga tax?

Taxes, of course. Continue reading

Chocolate Chips, Computer Chips, A Cookie By Any Other Name


So, the points I had accumulated with a company were about to expire. Use them or lose them, the notice said. But don’t despair.  You can redeem your points today. It’s easy.  Simply check the box next to magazines to which you want to subscribe and they’ll be on your doorstep in a matter of days. Oh, goodie.

The last time I ordered magazines, I believed I could win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

The only magazine I’ve subscribed to since is the Minneapolis-St Paul magazine. It’s the best, and if you live in Minnesota or used to live in Minnesota or used to live near Minnesota and don’t get it, well you don’t get it, as the Washington Post likes to say. But I digress. Continue reading


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A man named Omar Gonzalez jumped over a fence along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, ran across a lawn, and, was finally tackled as he crossed the threshold of the White House.

His family has said that Gonzalez is a veteran who served three tours in Iraq. They say he has been seeing a therapist at Fort Hood, Texas, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

That is our subject today.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the phrase used to describe the psychological issues that often – not always, but certainly not never – appear after military service in a war zone. Continue reading

Congress: Heal Thyself


It has been 20 years since insurgent Republicans in the House of Representatives made a “Contract with America,” promising changes in public policy, but also promising to run the House in a different way.

Now, it is time for Republicans and Democrats in both chambers to pledge anew to a serious review of how the Congress has sunk to such low esteem in the eyes of its constituents and start the lengthy process of regaining their credibility and self-respect.

Patrick Henry referred to history as the “lamp of experience” to see more clearly the past than the present, and also to be used as a guide for the future. Continue reading