Thoughts for Memorial Day

Memorial Day began in 1868 as Decoration Day, promoted by General John Logan on behalf of Northern Civil War veterans, designated May 30 as a day for “the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

The day of remembrance became Memorial Day during the Great War – later to become known as World War I – to honor veterans of all the nation’s wars. The commemoration was changed to the last Monday of May in 1971 to conform to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, passed by Congress in 1968.

Memorial Day is also the unofficial beginning of summer in the U.S.


What Harley-Davidson Did with Its Tax Break

Harley-Davidson paid its President and Chief Executive Officer, Matthew S. Levatich, $11.1 million in 2017, a 19% increase from his $9.35 million take the prior year, rewarding him for taking the company’s net income to $522 million, down 25% from 2016’s $692 million. Five years ago, he collected a paltry $3.7 million. A share of H-D stock (HOG) was priced at $69.24 at the end of 2013; $50.88 at the close of 2017, down 27%. ($42.31 on May 25, 2018.)

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The New Gilded Age

Twenty-two-year-old Elvis Presley paid $102,500 for a home in Memphis for his parents and himself. That was in 1957. The purchase price was equivalent to about $915,000 in 2018. Today, Graceland is the second-most-visited house in the country. (First is the White House.) At 10,000 square feet and less than a million dollars, though, Elvis’s estate is almost laughable in the hierarchy of grandiose residences. In Los Angeles’s Bel Air neighborhood, anything less than 30,000 square feet cannot be taken seriously. And a million dollars? Hard Rock Café co-founder Peter Morton recently sold his Malibu home for $110 million.

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A Modest Proposal about Gun Carnage

We as a nation, have decided that tens of thousands of violent deaths and countless injuries every year is a reasonable price to pay to keep guns easily accessible to all. Each mass shooting brings out politicians to send thoughts and prayers to the bereaved and vow to work on preventing future slaughters. That maybe there’s too many guns that are too easy to get is not even considered.

The National Rifle Association’s newly installed president, Oliver North – the person who arranged arms sales to Iran and the subsequent money laundering – says it’s too many kids on Ritalin. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick say it’s too many doors on school buildings.

(Fun fact about wheelchair-bound Abbott: In 1984, while jogging – and with no health insurance – a large tree limb fell on him, resulting in waist-down paralysis and a $10 million-plus insurance settlement. In his later political career, he advocated and helped pass legislation to make sure no one else will ever receive a seven-figure judgment.)

It’s failure to deal with mental-health issues.

It’s not enough religion in schools.

It’s violent video games.

Way back when “The Tonight Show” was more commonly known as “The Johnny Carson Show,” best-selling author and former policeman Joseph Wambaugh made one of his occasional guest appearances. The subject of violence on television came into the conversation. Violence – in movies and TV – was having one of its periodic appearances in the headlines, stirring up outrage and controversy. Wambaugh said that if violence was to be shown, then it should be depicted as it really is, not sanitized as the media portrayed. “Wouldn’t people be offended?” Johnny asked. “They’d be offended as hell,” Wambaugh responded. “That’s the point.”

Since massacres by firearms are and will be integral to our national life, it’s time for the various media to show the public in explicit detail. The network news cameras should be allowed to graphically record the carnage and blood and damaged bodies and broadcast it to the world. We should see the bloodshed and decide if we’re really okay with it.

(If you want to stay up-to-date on gun violence in the U.S., gives you a daily update.)


Where Are You, Kenneth Starr?

Time for some perspective…

… at the one-year anniversary of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russia’s messing with our 2016 election.

President Donald Trump sent out a Twitter message celebrating the milestone: “Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History…”

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News (sic) viewers, “It’s about time to get the darn thing over with. It’s about time to say, ‘Enough. We’ve tortured this president enough.’”

Vice-President Mike Pence said, “And in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up. I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.”

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