WHERE IN THE U.S.A. AM I? by Milt Hankins

WHERE IN THE U.S.A. AM I? by Milt Hankins

Recently, Deborah and I took a very special two-week vacation.  We flew across the United States from Atlanta, Georgia to southern California. Then we took Amtrak up the Pacific coast and across the northern tier of states to Minnesota. We visited friends along the way and then flew back home to Kentucky.

I have visited forty-eight of the fifty states (all but Alaska and South Dakota).  Below are pictures of ten marvelous places and things I have enjoyed during my travels. Can you study the pictures and determine the city and state I am visiting? The answers can be found at LIGHTER FARE. Scroll down to HELLO, WORLD.

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Let’s see how many places you identified correctly:  GO TO “LIGHTER FARE” and scroll down to “HELLO, WORLD” for the answers.

TRUMP TRUMPS THE SCANDALS OF PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS by Milt Hankins

TRUMP TRUMPS THE SCANDALS OF PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS by Milt Hankins

Almost no presidential administration has escaped the taint of a scandal or two. Scandal substantially tarnished the administrations of Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding. More recently, most of us recall Watergate, Whitewater/Lewinsky, and Iran-Contra.

TEAPOT DOME SCANDAL

I selected only a few to make my point. I could have mentioned many more. Readers can google “Presidential Scandals.” Seth Cline, a staff writer with U.S. News and World Report, began his article “The 7 Worst U.S. Presidential Scandals” (March 1, 2017) mentioning Grant.

If you research Trump administration scandals, you will discover a hefty list of Trump’s disgraces, and you will realize these articles have been published in the first eight or nine months of his presidency. We may have three more years to go. Simply untenable!

JARED KUSHNER

We should have done more than raise our eyebrows when, from the beginning of the Trump administration, nepotism (“favoritism shown to relatives in appointing them to jobs”) reared its ugly head. Nepotism is illegal (see 5 U.S. Code #3110, Sub-Part B: “A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.”)

The responsibilities President Trump has given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka will prove extremely troublesome. Kushner is already a major subject of current investigations by the Congress. He and Donald Jr. are also under scrutiny for their involvement in questionable meetings with Russian operatives.

TRUMP AND DAUGHTER IVANKA

According to an article in Politico by Sarah Holder (July 26, 2017) “13 Trump Scandals You Forgot About,” Ms. Holder barely mentions some potential problems for Trump before listing 13 in bold type. Combining the most dubious, Holder documents that Trump and his family are taking advantage of his position to increase their own personal wealth.

MAR-A-LAGO

Holder begins with “Foreign Governments Are Paying Trump. The White House is promoting Melania’s Jewelry and Ivanka’s Clothing Line, Trump has ‘jacked up’ Mar-a-Lago’s rates, with his campaign paying his businesses and the government writing him a $15,000 check” for use of the plush facility.

 

Secretary Wilbur Ross is keeping investments he oversees as Commerce Secretary and the Kushners tout Jared’s White House connections to do business in China. Jared Kushner failed to disclose key assets, while he and Ivanka are still raking in cash from their businesses.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP “BUDDIES UP” WITH RUSSIA’S VLADIMIR PUTIN

Bluntly, the above plus Donald Trump’s solicitous attitude toward Vladimir Putin and the obvious (proven) Russian interference in our most recent presidential election will, I suspect, prove the Trump presidency to be the most scandal-ridden administration in American history.

Trump supporters take the attitude, “Who cares?”

These actions/behaviors suggest that Trump is unfit to serve as president of the United States–that he is using the highest and most important office in America for his and his family’s personal, financial benefit.

Investigations will likely show a collusion with Russia during the campaign and still influencing the Trump presidency. Unacceptable!

 

L. MILTON HANKINS

[This opinion-editorial first appeared in the Huntington WV Herald-Dispatch on September 11, 2017. Hankins is the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View. He lives in Ashland, Kentucky with his wife Deborah and furry buddy Jose. He is the author of two books “Ashes on the Snow” and “A Sensible Theology for Thinking People.” Both are available through Amazon.com.]

CONVERSATION ON CRITICISM AND ABORTION by Editor and Reader

CONVERSATION ON CRITICISM AND ABORTION by Editor and Reader

[The following mostly unedited conversation appeared in the E-edition of the Herald-Dispatch in August, 2017. Explanatory notes placed appropriately; otherwise, it appears as originally printed. The exchange was brought on by the editor’s response to a column in the H-D by a local columnist, who shall remain unnamed. The subject of the original column was anti-abortion and the body of the exchange, after a bit of back and forth on criticism, is on the subject of abortion.]

BILL: Milt, as you so often say when facing criticism regarding what you write in your own column, this is the opinion section. What’s good for the goose?

MILT: So it is. And so, I expressed my opinion above, as I generally do when I disagree with comments about my own columns. Also, it irks me and many others that [unnamed whose column was on the subject of “abortion”] never comes here to defend, explain, comment on criticisms, or expand on his thinking, etc., etc. Sometimes, he writes like he’s the voice of God, and anyone who disagrees with him (especially us liberals) is bound for the lowest levels of hell. Balderdash! I’m certainly neither goose nor gander, so what’s your point Bill?

BILL: My point, Milt, is that you lash out at people who criticize you on your column seemingly using the defense that it’s your opinion, therefore immune from criticism. And here you are lashing out at [unnamed] for his opinions. Seems rather hypocritical.

MILT: Bill, sometimes I’m hypocritical. What’s so strange about that? Most people are from time to time. Actually, it’s not hypocritical to be aggravated by responses to what you have to say, while being really critical of a completely different person. What you’re confusing here is oranges and apples. Oh, well, yeah, I don’t like to be criticized, but since I am frequently criticized, I think it’s perfectly okay if I lash out now and then. Whatever….

BILL: Well if [unnamed] criticized you, you would certainly be entitled to criticize him back, but he doesn’t. But at least you admitted you are sometimes hypocritical, so kudos on that, and yeah, you’re probably right, most of us are from time to time.

MILT: Bill, I think you have missed something. There are times when [unnamed] entire column is a rebuttal (or criticism) of one of my columns. He never uses my name, but the material and the theme is familiar…. Bill, opinion is never exempt from disagreement or criticism. That doesn’t mean I have to like it!

BILL: Interesting comments, some of which I see your point. I haven’t seen much of what you refer to as [unnamed] entire column being a rebuttal (or criticism) of one of your columns, but maybe I just missed that. I couldn’t find that in this particular column. I take it from your response to him that you’re fine with abortion?

MILT: I wrote a three paragraph response giving you two real examples I encountered as a minister, and hit a wrong key on my computer and deleted it before I could send it…but yes, I do believe in abortion under certain conditions if that’s the mother’s choice. And it is the mother’s choice (along with her physicians, family and mentors). As I remember my bottom line, it is definitely not MY CHOICE, YOUR CHOICE, OR ANY RELIGIOUS GROUP’S CHOICE. I also believe if a person believes in abortion under certain circumstances, then they believe in abortion, period. For me, it’s an either-or situation.

Some fetuses, i.e. severely deformed, without brainstems, without limbs, situations where there are defective chromosomes and genes, etc. that should not be allowed to term. I believe abortion is warranted for conception by rape, incest, and other situations that a woman must live with for the rest of her life. If you believe what it says in the book of Genesis, it says, “And God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul.” To me, that means that a fetus is NOT “a living soul,” until it takes breath outside of the womb. Man, I wish I had not lost my first response, but it vanished for good. I hope this explains my belief satisfactorily. But, I will confide that it took me a long, long time to come around to this way of thinking. My wife helped. When we were married I was 100% definitely opposed to abortion, period!

BILL: “To me, that means that a fetus is NOT “a living soul,” until it takes breath outside of the womb.” I agree with that, Milt. If even then. I’ve always wondered about the fact that we seem to accept that when a person dies, the soul leaves the body, which recognizes that the two are distinct from each other. It’s the entry point which to me is totally in question.

MILT: I hear you. I’m skeptical of such an ancient statement from the earliest chapter in Genesis on which to base such a critical decision…but…in my lengthy post I lost, I gave two examples of children I saw while I was in the ministry that never should have been born. I was very close to both families. Frankly, they were living in hell with a child that should have been, in most anyone’s opinion, I think, aborted.

One was a 11-12 year old boy, no speech, no measurable IQ, no awareness of surroundings or recognition of family members, completely confined to an apparatus with a feeding tube and requiring the 24-hour attention of his parents and one older sister, who was not only normal but quite bright [intelligent]. The boy developed pneumonia, which [in his condition] he contracted fairly often and was hospitalized. The doctors consulted with me and asked if I would help them [convince] the parents to decide to let them stop medications [and food and water] and allow the child to die. I conducted the boy’s funeral. The daughter was then able to go on to college, and I think she is a master’s degree teacher now. The parents, too, have a life. The boy never should have been born [aborted], in my opinion.

DEFORMED NINE-YEAR OLD GIRL

The second case is almost unbelievable…but I was totally shocked when I saw the situation. The boy, probably 17-18 years old was kept in a cage [literally]. He had no normal human abilities or capabilities. He made screeching noises like an animal and swung back and forth in his cage, holding onto the upper bars. He was, for all intents and purposes, an animal. He was somewhat vicious [savage], so his food was placed in the cage and, of course, they had to do their best to keep the cage as clean as possible. [I don’t know how they accomplished this.] The explanation I was given was that while he was being born, he had to immediately have a blood transfusion and was transfused with the wrong type of blood [blood type]. Okay, he was born, but, in my way of thinking, immediately upon understanding the gravity of the situation, he should have been immediately aborted. I know lots of people would say that would have been murder, but, in my thinking it would have been a medical, post-partum abortion…and a blessing to his family. Actually, his condition (which required the immediate transfusion) should have been identified in the uterus and the entire situation could have been very different. I don’t know. [Perhaps, doctors did not have that capability back then.]

I just believe that sometimes the consequences or results of a birth are not a moral issue at all…but a humane and ethical one. With these situations (and others) I still remained anti-abortion until I married my wife. Over the years, she helped me to understand that abortion is a woman’s choice…. Isn’t it strange that those people who are so anti-abortion seem to have no such compunctions about taking the life of someone who has committed a heinous crime? It just seems to me if we as a society so value life we ought to be very careful to allow compassion and understanding in situations where a life is to be taken. This is what has shaped my way of thinking on abortion. It also seems to me that those people who so vehemently oppose abortion should be willing to adopt an “endangered” child to insure that life! Such an unwanted child was adopted into my aunt’s family and became a well-educated professional who is of great service to his community.

Bill, for your information, I also believe in euthanasia. I would hope that should I ever be completely inhumanized by some fatal disease, i.e. Alzheimer’s or A.L.S. or a disease that completely debilitates me and steals the quality of my life, that my wife would take me to a state where euthanasia is legal that that my life would be humanely terminated. What a blessing that would be!…WOW! I really laid it all out there, didn’t I?

BILL: Yes, you did (lay it all out there). I’ll never agree with you politically, most likely, but I do on these things you just wrote about…I definitely do not believe life begins at conception.

MILT: I understand that, Bill. But my politics is based on the general moral and spiritual principles I discussed in my responses. Let me give you another thought. I could never be a Republican conservative if Donald Trump is an example of that party. I can sum him up in one word: disgusting! I cannot agree at all with those who think he is good for America, i.e. [unnamed]. Yet, I was a moderate Republican until Bill Clinton’s second term, when I liked what he was doing with the economy and switched parties. To attempt to compare Clinton’s moral lapses with Trump’s total lack of respect for women and marriage is ludicrous. No comparison. As far as I’m concerned I got out of the Republican Party at just the right time!

[I admit this conversation might be boring to many; but, to others it might give some insight into how one might form a tenable, sensible opinion on such important subjects as abortion and euthanasia…and political affiliation. –the Editor] 

 

AN APOSTATE YOGI by Judson Jerome

AN APOSTATE YOGI by Judson Jerome

This yogi in his dhoti in Benares

stood on one leg.

One outstretched palm kept ice from melting

while the other fried an egg

Wearing nothing but a turban and a mandala

he dwelt in a Frigidaire

eight months chewing a ginseng root.

They don’t need air.

They are not dependent on the variables

that generally maintain us.

They show the autonomic nervous system who is boss.

A yogi can suck water up his anus.

swallow Kleenex and pull it out his nose.

A woman with a yogi for a lover

said he never came too soon,

yet sitting in his lotus with his thoughts on God

could spurt all afternoon.

I never met a lady yogi, but I hear they menstruate

when they please.

A yogi never laughs without deciding,

nor does he sneeze.

He makes his heart beat fast or slow, depending

on mind, not glands.

his hiccups, sweat and pupil sizes

obey commands.

He farts at will and never apologizes.

 

As a boy I tried to suck my belly under

ribs till I saw my spine.

Though I never tried a rope or cobra, I played

my ocarina for some twine.

I pounded blunt ten penny nails through plywood

and would have lain on it, no doubt,

if I could have got my weight all in one motion 

evenly stretched out.

I wiggled my ears and pursed my sphincters,

crossing my eyes.

In school I sat with a stony gaze, engaged

in internal exercise.

But I surrendered as I aged

to the voluntary and involuntary

as discrete domains,

with uncontrollable regret enduring

riot in my veins,

incontinently wishing I could master

that skill or art

that could predict, if not manipulate,

the weather of my heart.

And yet my effort is no more to strengthen,

but to subdue my will,

to go through ego’s mirror and be whole.

Still you may see me sitting very still,

straining to throw off the mind’s control.

 

[from PUBLIC DOMAIN JUDSON JEROME published by Trunk Press, Hancock, Maryland, 1977.]

 

 

 

A SWEET SALTY TOUCHING LOVE STORY by Kiran Kumar Roy

A SWEET SALTY TOUCHING LOVE STORY by Kiran Kumar Roy

He met her at a party. She was so outstanding, many guys were chasing after her; while he was so normal, nobody paid attention to him. At the end of the party, he invited her to have coffee with him. She was surprised, but being polite, she promised.

 They sat in a nice coffee shop. He was too nervous to say anything. She felt uncomfortable. She thought, “Please let me go home.” Suddenly, he asked the waiter “Would you please give me some salt? I’d like to put it in my coffee.”

Everybody stared at him…so strange! His face turned red but, still, he put the salt in his coffee and drank it. She asked him curiously “Why do you have this habit?” He replied, “When I was a little boy, I was living near the sea. I like playing in the sea. I could feel the taste of the sea, just like the taste of the salty coffee. Now, every time I have the salty coffee, I always think of my childhood, think of my hometown. I miss my hometown so much, I miss my parents who are still living there.” While saying that, tears filled his eyes. She was deeply touched.

That’s his true feeling from the bottom of his heart. A man who can tell out his homesickness, he must be a man who loves home, cares about home, has responsibility of home. Then she also started to speak, spoke about her far away hometown, her childhood, her family. That was a really nice talk; also, a beautiful beginning of their story.

They continued to date. She found that actually he was a man who met all her demands; he had tolerance, was kind-hearted, warm, careful, He was such a good person, but she almost missed him! Thanks to his salty coffee!

 

Then the story was just like every beautiful love story…the princess married the prince, then they were living the happy life….

And, every time she made coffee for him, she put some salt in the coffee, as she knew that’s the way he liked it. After forty years, he passed away. He left her a letter which said, “My dearest, please forgive me, forgive my whole life lie. This was the only lie I said to you–the salty coffee. Remember the first time we dated? I was so nervous at that time, actually, I wanted some sugar, but I said salt and it was hard for me to change, so I just went ahead. I never thought that could be the start of our communication!

I tried to tell you the truth many times in my life, but I was too afraid to do that as I have promised not to lie to you for anything. Now I’m dying. I am afraid of nothing, so I can tell you the truth:  I don’t like the salty coffee. What a strange bad taste, but I have had the salty coffee for my whole life! Since I knew you, I never feel sorry for anything I do for you. Having you with me is my biggest happiness for my whole life. If I can live for a second time, still want to know you and have you for my whole life, even though I have to drink the salty coffee again.” Her tears made the letter totally wet.

One day, someone asked her, “What’s the taste of salty coffee?” “It’s sweet,” she replied.

[Kiran Kumar Roy is a freelance writer. His touching, salty coffee story first appeared in INTERESTING STORIES.]

 

SOME THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND DEATH by David C. Williams

SOME THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND DEATH by David C. Williams

What is life?

Life connotes all animal and vegetable entities that are self-replicating, sensitive and temporary. Life has one beginning, one end.

What is important in man’s life?

Food, sex and religion–in that order. (eating, coitus and preaching)

These three are primary, mandatory and essential.

Religion distinguishes man from all other species. (Gods are mythological, and religion is an invention of man but remains an important factor in human activity today.)

THE ARTS

MEDITATION

Secondary areas of importance in man’s life are the arts: manual, visual and mental, work, producing something, and esthetics, evaluating, criticizing and contemplating.

Man’s life may be greatly influenced by emotions such as love or hate and by varying degrees of happiness or melancholy.

Men have varying levels of intelligence, but they all contemplate death.

IMAGE OF DEATH

What is death?

Death involves all animal and vegetable entities that are self-replicating, sensitive and temporary. Death occurs once at the end of Life, and it is eternal.

[David C. Williams is a retired, professional mechanical engineer. He is a writer, artist, and philosopher. He is 94 years old and lives alone in Ashland, Kentucky.]