On the day I become older than my mom lived to be, her advice calms me

by Brian Arbenz

Mom for nov 2017Today, Nov. 20, 2017, is disorienting for me. I reach exactly the age, to the day, at which my mother died in 1983.

Yes, a person would have to be an obsessive number cruncher to know that today is the precise number of days since my 59th birthday last summer that Mom lived past her 59th. And a person would have to be just a little insecure and into the mystical to be preoccupied with this fact.

It’s not a health concern that’s on my mind. I fully expect to be as fine tonight when I drop off to sleep as I am typing this – spry, mobile, and with a nearly ideal body weight since losing 90 pounds nine years ago and keeping it off since.

But something just isn’t right – I will be older than Mom ever got to be.

Older than Mom. No way. Can’t be.

I am not ready to be senior to my source of wisdom and nurturing. Mom will always be older and savvier than I am.

Millie Morrison raised my older sister and myself as a single parent, starting when that was too new even to be a phenomenon.

I will still look to Mom in my memories and in my modern day conception of her for a more mature perspective on things.

Of much more importance than the fact that Mom was our sole financial provider during 15 years when no child support arrived, she was our moral and intellectual guide. A high school English and Humanities teacher, Mom made sure we would love learning as we grew up by incorporating it into what we enjoyed.

When she saw I was fascinated by maps at age five, Mom introduced me to reading by going over the Indiana page in an atlas and teaching me to read our state’s city names. (I’m not sure if it was state loyalty or an abundance of short words; Gary, South Bend and Fort Wayne were great starter outers.)

In a few years I was a sports lover, helped along by the NBC Baseball Game of the Week, so Mom brought home sports themed fiction and non-fiction books she bought through her school to keep me developing my reading skills while liking the experience.

Mom earned her master’s degree, taking classes at a downtown Louisville college while our grandmother and other adults came over to child sit. Mom also enrolled in a non-credit institute to study the culture and politics of India.

She rose at 5 every morning, fed the beloved cats who owned us, then worked the crossword puzzle with coffee in hand — all before taking her son and daughter to school, then driving on to her job to teach other people’s children.

We didn’t think of Mom as extraordinarily disciplined as such, because we had no comparison. But in retrospect, oh my, how she epitomized efficiency and focus, while maintaining an easy, approachable manner (despite a son who tested her patience).

We did appreciate Mom serving as a fountain of information. Friends, students and even a television news anchorman at a station where my father had worked decades earlier would sometimes call asking her to resolve a grammatical matter, which Mom would do in seconds, then go back to cooking supper.

Mom 1945 copped for June 6, 2017

Books by Hermann Hesse, D.H. Lawrence and Alvin Toffler shared space on her shelves with parenting guides and her college yearbooks – and Mom’s issues of The Atlantic.

Their pages each month represented the eclectic spheres Mom would have seen more of in person, but for tight finances and her firm belief that her children came first.

Besides, Mom was happy sharing minds and hearts with the educated friends she had, in our area and other nearby places.

Of course, she gave us needed advice in a rapidly changing world. And today, as I reluctantly walk past that chronological point where fate took her from us, becoming – as impossible as it is to behold this – older than Mom ever was, she gives me the same advice on my number fixation about today’s date that she often did when I’d overthink and anguish about the shallowness and incongruity of the world:

“Tune that out. Enjoy life.”

Thanks, Mom. I’m ready to go on now.


Where you live and breathe

87 DC trip for ROTOUCH 2by Brian Arbenz

Is Earth really our home? Or would it be more accurate to say not that we live “on the planet” but “in the troposphere.”

That’s the lowest six to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) of Earth’s atmosphere. The troposphere is where 80 percent of our air is, and where the survivable air pressure and rain cycles are. So the troposphere is not only where we live. It is why we live.

How many scientists believe this era’s climate change is caused by human activity varies by the survey. The 97 percent figure President Barack Obama often cited was only one poll and not shown to be an accurate reflection of worldwide scientific opinion.

A wider sampling of surveys shows about 60 percent of scientists believe climate change is human caused. That’s up from about 10 percent in the 1980s.

If just 25 percent believed it, that would be enough to prompt swift climate action, including conversion from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

If you were about to board an airplane, and somehow knew there was a 25 percent chance the movie projector would stop working in mid-flight, you’d still get on board. The expense and lost time of taking a later flight would not be worth getting to see The Three Amigos from your aisle seat.

Now, what if you knew the engines, not the movie projectors, had a 25 percent of shutting down in mid-flight?

Same 25 percent chance. Vastly worse consequences.

The climate debate needs to be more about consequences, instead of focused primarily on odds. The troposphere is our engine, not a movie projector.

This is the first response by Brian Arbenz to a prompt from WordPress. He believes it went well!







5 amazing Space Odyssey facts you didn’t (and still don’t) know

2001 Schwartzeneger
Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally cast as Heywood Floyd, but he stormed out in a huff after reading the script and realizing Lolita was not in this movie.

2001 Kub Polariod 1
Stanley Kubrick, in a bold artistic flourish, set out to film the movie by taking Polaroid pictures, then stringing them together. The need to make 30 photographs for a single second of screen time caused him to abandon the plan early, to the relief of a skeptical cast and crew.

2001 Irish River dance
Plans to make a musical were scrapped after disagreement about genre. Kubrick and William Sylvester wanted an Irish River Dance….
2001 DISCO Arthur
… while Arthur C. Clarke insisted on Disco!

2001 Keir and Stanley's special friendship
Keir Dullea and Stanley Kubrick occasionally escaped the set’s hustle bustle by getting away for a little “we time!” 

Use the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from power

I wrote the following letter Aug. 16, 2017 to my congressman, Rep. John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky’s 3rd District:

Dear Rep. Yarmuth,
After careful consideration of the effects it may have on the stability of the nation, I write today to ask you to initiate the use of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from power.

The amendment allows the Vice-President and a majority of the Cabinet to recommend the removal of the president in cases where the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” and allows the House and Senate to confirm the recommendation over the president’s objection by two-thirds vote.

Though it may appear that partisan loyalty by the Vice-President and cabinet members would impede the process, under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, Congress has considerable input.

In lieu of waiting for a cabinet majority to make the recommendation, Congress may by law provide an independent body, described as a “disability review body” which, with the Vice-President’s concurring, could declare the president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and send its own written declaration to the Senate president pro tempore and the House speaker.

Twenty-fifth Amendment author U.S. Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, concurring with former President Dwight Eisenhower, said the question of whether a president should be removed is “really a political question.” Bayh continued that the decision to invoke the 25th Amendment should rest on the “professional judgment of the political circumstances existing at the time.”

Today, President Trump’s performance in office has demonstrated ineptitude and instability which have endangered the security of the nation and the lives of millions of innocent Americans and residents of other nations. I strongly believe that circumstances show, based on Senator Bayh’s criteria, that President Trump is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. These circumstances include the president’s:

Indiana’s Birch Bayh gave us the tools to clean up the Trump mess.

*Inability to abide by the 14th Amendment’s requirement of equal protection of the law, as shown by his use of derogatory sweeping generalizations of minorities.

*Failure to devote effort to his job in the crucial first months in office, constantly vacationing at his own resort while his agenda flounders in Congress.

*Hazardous and ill-considered nuclear saber rattling done on his personal whim, instead of relying on plural input by military strategists.

*Lack of basic linguistic skills, which undermines the communicating to the public needed to ensure consent of the governed, and use of gaslighting trickery and evasive adhominem responses to criticism.

*Refusal to sit for the crucial American tradition of independent media scrutiny, instead calling reporters enemies of the people, a verbal assault which undermines the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In the May issue of The Atlantic magazine, National Constitution Center president and George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen, while acknowledging that use of the 25th Amendment’s never before employed involuntary removal mechanism on a president not incapacitated by illness “could trigger a political crisis,” added: “…(T)he constitutional test of the president’s being ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties’ of the office was intended to be vague and open-ended.”

Rosen added: “Because the Twenty-fifth Amendment was intended to leave the determination of presidential disability to politicians, rather than to doctors, nothing in the text or history of the Amendment would preclude the vice president, Cabinet, and Congress from determining the president is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’ if they deemed it in their political interest to do so.”

The intractable and worsening dangers posed by President Trump’s clear inability to discharge the powers and duties of his office now outweigh any negative effects of the use of the 25th Amendment. Though sufficient votes in the House and Senate certainly would not exist now to remove the president, appointing a disability review body would communicate to the administration that President Trump’s fitness for the office is an issue that will very possibly result in his facing removal if he continues using his current tactics.

I urge you to propose a discussion on the prompt creation of a disability review body for the purpose of weighing the evidence on using the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from power.


Brian Arbenz

Louisville, Ky.

Spanning 43 years, My Letters To And From A Distant Dad

“…do not capitulate. It may be too late sooner than you think. Be adamant, my boy.”

I publish these excerpts from letters between my biological father and myself not because they reflect a person who contributed positively to my life, nor because they display any father-son dynamics as most anyone else would recognize those. I publish them because I believe they are interesting.

dad and me LETTERS wordpress
Two George Morrisons, writing the news for WAVE-TV in Louisville circa 1950, and the younger, now named Brian Arbenz, at a signing of one of his books in 2011. 

I have only a patchwork of the many missals written until my father’s death in 2007 at age 82. The correspondence began one evening in 1964 when our mother encouraged us to write to Dad in advance of a trip to Albuquerque my sister and I would make for a two-week visit. I was five and this was three years after my parents, who had lived in that city for four years, were divorced. The great majority of letters between my father and myself are lost forever, but this collection (encompassing letters, then e-mails starting at the usual 1990s point) is a treasure trove of observations on personal and worldwide matters (genres which intertwine in me) between two people 2,000 miles apart. Both are named George Morrison (my legal name until I changed it in 2014 was the same as my father’s, though we had different middle names).

These communications, which sometimes are supportive, sometimes straightforward and critical, are not classically those of a father and son, but two complex, gifted and oft struggling people. For 11 years in my adulthood, we were estranged, with no contact of any sort. The angry letters that launched that period are not in here. As said, this is not any complete look at a familial tie, but talk between two Georges who were very different people, yet alike in that they were unconventional and often went against their generational grain. The younger George Morrison became a radical leftist in the late 1970s, when the campus me-generation was raising beer glasses, not consciousness like a decade prior. Yet I was so ideologically precise and abstinent from pleasures that a ’60s campus existence might not have fit me much better.

Mom and Dad, though continually at odds over unresolved divorce fallout, had during their college years at the University of Louisville in the late 1940s been united as significant others, literature lovers, champions of intellectual freedom and, I figure, Henry Wallace voters.

“Your mother and I believed art was the salvation of man,” Dad wrote circa 1980 when I was about 22. That sets the time frame for the rest of these letters, which mean nothing more and nothing less than what they say:

Summer 1964, me to Dad:

“I’m not sure I want to fly out to Albuquerque to visit you if the North Vietnamese don’t stop shooting down American planes.”

(After I read this aloud to Mom, she explained the geography involving the war her five-year-old son was hearing about on the news, and I erased that sentence.)

Summer 1975, me to Dad:

“I’m writing this letter at 2:30 a.m….. Not only could writing letters to you be, like you said, a good way to restart the lines of communication and develop my writing ability, but a good insomnia cure!”

May 1976, Dad to me:

“I received your graduation announcement and being sorry that I cannot respond in some material way, I can only say ‘congratulations.’… You did not seem too overwhelmed with what was being done to you the last time I talked to you on the telephone. But being a bright lad, you… are most likely at least minimally prepared for university work. I hope the meaning of that word ‘university’ has made an impact on you. It comes from the Latin aggregate ‘universus,’ which means ‘universe’ and that means everything there is to know in reality. That would seem to imply that in a university, one is allowed to sick himself upon all there is to know that he doesn’t know, including how man thinks; but I wouldn’t rely on it if I were you. They will still try to shape you the way they want you to look. It seems to me that what a man must do if he intends to take studying seriously is to brace himself for that final confrontation when he tells the teachers to go fornicate with themselves, that he is by far the best judge of how and to what extent he will achieve autonomy.

“The best advice I can give you as your elder, not necessarily as your father is: do not capitulate. It may be too late sooner than you think. Be adamant, my boy. I feel compelled to say also that one is not irrevocably tied to his genes. It is true that you are to a great extent what your mother and I and our predecessors made of you. It is true that you are different from everyone else living today or who has ever lived in the potential you have for developing yourself, for understanding your uniqueness, for reverencing your human sensitivity, for knowing and coming to terms with a world that is not always, in fact not even often, very nice. Dare yourself to think anything you want to think.”

1979, Dad to me, after I visited him for the first time in 12 years. I was 21 and was happily pursuing socialist revolution for the world and enjoying a job in a pizza restaurant (not really paradoxical to my leftism, as I was successfully testing my ability to work for ethical, rather than monetary incentives):

“My first thought is, what are you reading to support all these views?… Many others are going think ill of you, denounce you, and they’re not going to be gentlemen about it…. You may be seen as nothing more than a truculent neurotic masking his own failures.

“You have some grievances with society, but you still are a person who values money for college, and reliable airline service… So save that pizza money and consider making another trip out here.”

1983, me to Dad:

” ‘If you want change you must change the inner soul,’ Soviet poet Andrei Voznesensky has said. This sums up exactly how I feel about the attempt to build socialism. It must stop being a matter of structures put in place by the ruling officials and must become based on personal values and an appreciation, by people on the grass roots, of cooperation. Voznesensky is not anti-socialist, but he does not favor the approach to governing used by the Kremlin. He has been in and out of favor with the state.”

1983, Dad to me:

“I don’t think much of this Russian you quote playing footsie with language. How can you support the Soviet Union when it represses writers and poets the way it does?”

Late 1999, Dad to me:

“Anticipation of the millennium began longer ago than most realize.  I remember the beginning of 1950 and the second half of this century.  ‘It won’t be all that long,’ someone said where we were all gathered.  I couldn’t help wondering which of us would survive.  Not many have; but it seems I might, barring some unexpected step-up in schedule.”

Me in Sandias for LETTERS WordPress
 A 9-year-old George photographed by his 42-year-old father in the Sandia Mountains above Albuquerque. 

Circa 2000, Dad to me, on the 1940s feminist in Mom’s life:“…Your mother was assistant to the Dean of Women at the University of Louisville when I met her.  Her boss was Hilda Threlkeld.  Dean Threlkeld advised your mother not to get married, that perhaps she might not like being married, that there were many other satisfying pursuits in life for women other than marriage, even sex, she said, although one must remain discreet.  Dean Threlkeld warned your mother specifically about me, saying that my war experiences may have left me with long term problems….  After our marriage, your mother and I drove to Maysville, Kentucky, to visit the Dean, who was raised in Maysville.  She seemed very curious about the progress of our life together.”

Circa 2002, Dad to me, when my job with the U.S. Census was at about the 2-year point:

“It was nice to hear from you.  You sound terrific, as if the rigid government bureau schedule is doing something positive. “  (In fact, Dad’s impression was right. The change from self-employment through much of the 1990s to a “real job” life helped me become more organized and contented.)

Circa 2002, Dad to me, on the Morrisons and media (Dad worked in TV news and wrote three self-published books):

“As for abandonment, I think you might consider the cumulative effect of abandonment, as it occurs from generation to generation.  I was abandoned and sent to an orphanage when I was seven.  I think you already know that.
“Does that help to explain my drive to entertain others in order to attain approval and establish identity?  I think it does.  Does abandonment in your father’s life in any way intensify facts you interpret as abandonment in your own life?  Yes, I think it does…. My own impression is that you have chosen a professional life that is best for someone who sees himself as abandoned as a child.  Writing is a marvelous way of daily dialogue with one’s secret self, even if the writing is for others on the business of others.  And you have developed a very good, lively writing style.  It should not be replaced, in my opinion at least, just for the sake of a mid-life change.”

circa 2003, Dad to me, on his son’s radical outlook:

“My real feeling… is this:  you have never had much of a feeling for the advantages to be offered by compromise.  No self-respecting activist can tolerate compromise.  Isn’t that true?  I see compromise as change or amendment of existing facts of one’s life.  In a positive sense, one uses compromise to bring about beneficial change.  There is no need to discuss the negative of the same equation, since I don’t see benefit in negatives.”

2003, me to Dad, after I made my first visit to Logan, West Virginia, where Dad was born and lived until age 3, when his father (also named George Morrison), a successful home builder but heavy drinker, died at about age 50.

(My visit was partly to talk to Logan Banner newspaper editor Keith Davis about the unsolved and widely written about murder in 1932 of Mamie Thurman. She was my father’s half-sister, (who was 25 years older than Dad) the topic of debates and student term papers, and supposedly a ghost who still roamed the woods near where she was killed. The headline atop page one of the Banner the next day was: “Mamie’s Nephew.” Well, sort of; I hadn’t even known of this woman’s existence until a year and a half before this visit. While in Logan, I wrote a piece about the community for FORsooth, the monthly radical peace and justice paper of the Louisville chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, of which I was the editor.)

“What I have to say about Logan could not be produced in the very tight time frame of the last few days, during which I had to get FORsooth out (with a column by me in it you’ll find interesting) and work at the bureau (of the census).
“Now, finally, I am free to write.
“Logan was spellbinding. In this parallel universe to my environs, it has been existing all these years. People were hospitable and hardworking, too busy to lament their town’s loss of population because of the decline of coal’s labor intensiveness. The town defied a number of stereotypes. It had nice restaurants, a fairly good newspaper, clean streets and pretty architecture. The accents surprised me, too — gentle southern, not twangy like Eastern Kentucky.
“Keith Davis, whose Central Ohio accent has been modified some by that southern, told me something during our “dialogue” (We interviewed one another simultaneously) that allowed me to more clearly understand the key difference between Mom’s family and, as you put it, the other half of my double helix.
He said my being in Logan was a matter of utmost public interest. Perhaps this was because it signified the entry of the Mamie legend into a third generation of Morrisons — perhaps even assuring its permanence.Me how I feel March 2016 (3)
“Here [in the Louisville area, specifically New Albany, Ind.] where I dwell because of Mom’s family, I am by no means a public figure, despite writing news and columns for weekly sections of the Courier-Journal. Mom’s family isn’t going to inspire any books. Students aren’t going to write term papers on the fate of any of its members. Youth won’t hang out in the woods in pursuit of any of its ghosts. Television stations and newspapers wouldn’t consider mom’s family worthy of any special series (although the New Albany paper wrote a very nice piece on Grandpa upon his death).
“Mom’s family excels at the conventional and the essential.
“Your family, on the other hand, can’t help but be the center of attention. Whether on Holden Mountain in June 1932 or the story of how your step father died [in a police shooting, circa 1930] and the ensuing existence in an orphanage and, certainly, by the legend of Mamie.
“Being a Morrison gives one a huge repertoire of implausible anecdotes with which to instantly impress people. Unfortunately, being a Morrison also gives one the need to impress people to compensate for a lack of self-esteem and security.
“I have lived many decades of my life putting my primary energy into trying to do precisely that. I was a pistol with jokes and voice impressions in every newsroom where I worked. I finally discerned, with the assistance of a good self help book and a couple of friends willing to be outspoken, that I was behaving outlandishly because I needed people’s laughter as approval.
“I even took to the stage in 1988, performing stand-up comedy in a bid to get that sense of validation on a grander scale.
“I was living the legacy of the Morrisons, using the only tools it gave me to offset the emptiness it left me with.
“I have another legacy, of course — that left by the Rodmans. They were not perfect. I know Grandma Olive Rodman was extremely difficult during her youth and middle age, before I came along. Still, Mom’s family gave basic, essential, non-glamorous if not always complete nurturing. After Mom, Grandpa is my primary hero for the job he did standing in as my substitute father, something beyond that which was required of him.
The family did nothing worthy of mystery novels or network television (Keith Davis said Unsolved Mysteries of NBC has called him about the Mamie case). They won’t be the source of amazing stories that will make me the life of the party. And I must resist the temptation to indulge in telling those attention riveting stories from your side of the family in excess, always telling myself that the family I want people to know about — the one I am a product of — is the one that was involved in the truly amazing spectacle of raising a boy and his sister and preparing them as best as could be done for the world.
“I mean a world where we are valued simply because we are people, not because of our ability to entertain people in perpetuity.
Something else I received from Mom’s family is an ability to be positive about life, despite everything.
“My life growing up was generally a very good experience and I am pleased overall with where I am today as well. I was able to learn fine reporting skills from Courier-Journal editing, something not available to all but a tiny few people in hinterlands communities our size. I am able to use those skills in a leftist, peace and justice newspaper that fits my sensibilities. Only a tiny few journalists in cities of any size can count that as a blessing.
I have said some things here that needed expressing. I hope they will add value to our correspondence. The Logan trip indeed was a worthy venture.


The First Time I Went South — I Mean Really South

SixteenthStBaptistBomb01Is this what revolution looks like – Grand Slams and coffee on Formica?

Growing up right on the Mason-Dixon Line of mixed Hoosier-Kentuckian-West Virginian stock, I could never get a handle on exactly whether I was a southerner. Louisville and Southern Indiana had strong unions and lots of Catholics (clearly Midwestern traits) but also generous use of the pronoun “you all” by pick-up truck driving GED holders whose workweeks ended with trips to their favorite fishin’ spots.
I did not venture into an unambiguously southern area until 1983 when, at age 25, I decided to spend a few leftover Christmas vacation days from my newspaper reporting job in Southern Indiana and travel to Atlanta.
Would it be the cosmopolitan, diverse “too busy to hate” city of its major-league image, or a provincial small town with tall buildings, as some critics regard it?
The trip shed little light on that question; the below-zero temperature was the second coldest ever recorded in Atlanta and even though there was no snow and the sky was cloudless blue, the place absolutely shut down. Nope, I’m not a southerner, I decided as I motored almost alone along the normally packed freeways, enjoying the easiest big-city driving I had ever experienced.
A Yankee gets great restaurant service, too, when he is the only one there, unless the weather “crisis” has prevented the wait staff from coming to work.
It warmed up to the normal Southern December high 40s just as I decided to amend my itinerary and head west on Interstate 20 to Birmingham.
Ah, the real south, in its meteorological element – and away from Atlanta’s glitz and economic verve. Birmingham, I figured, would be different.
The city too hateful in the early ‘60s to get busy and accept integration. The church bombings. Fire hoses on people peaceably assembling. Bull Connor. That was the Birmingham I knew from flashpoint news coverage and assigned civics class readings.
Once in the real place, I drove through an area called Red Mountain I had heard was lovely (yes, the homes and trees indeed were, but the police car that tailed me the whole time took the joy out of the tour), then stopped at a Denny’s. There, architectural mediocrity aside, the feeling was more uplifting.
Blacks and whites dined, with the dress of both varying from suits to work ware. An utterly ordinary scene, but that is what made me gaze in awe for a moment around the room.
For this display of everyday, nondescript familiarity to come about, it took children dying in bombings, peaceful demonstrators being gassed and beaten, followed by a long obstinate Congress finally passing the most sweeping domestic legislation in the nation’s history.
Twenty years later, racial Birmingham picthe fruits of this heroic struggle were that people of all colors can eat lunch oblivious to the racial justice angle of their joint presence as they chat about the weather, church and the upcoming football bowl games.
Is this what revolution looks like – Grand Slams and coffee on Formica?
As I learned much more over the next couple of decades about the issue of racial justice, I came to understand that the crucial matter anymore is whether the servers and dishwashers at restaurants such as Denny’s can make adequate and stable wages and afford health insurance — not who can be served.
Being able to ride on any part of the bus is a great and overdue boost to human dignity, but it becomes largely a symbolic victory if there is no adequate job to which to ride.
We have so far to go to achieve true equality, but recalling a winter afternoon in Birmingham assures me that if that city can go from homicidal carnage to casual mixed-race dining in 20 years, we can end hunger, war, and patriarchy.
And someday a visitor to Rwanda, Stonewall, Guatemala or Immokalee will contrast the history of suffering there with the present equality and nonviolence and marvel at what is gloriously mundane.
Continue reading “The First Time I Went South — I Mean Really South”

The Truth Is Out There — Eight Times Presidents Leveled With Us

prez J“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” — George W. Bush, Aug. 5, 2004. The president, flanked by Vice-President Chaney and other staff members, was reading from a prepared text, so rather than this being a classic W flub, perhaps he was preparing us for more Homeland Security.

“We could make no more tragic mistake than merely to concentrate on military strength. For if we did only this, the future would hold nothing for the world but an Age of Terror.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, State of the Union Address, Jan. 9, 1958. Yes, Ike saw it coming. Tragically, W, Obama and the present regime have not figured out that militarizing the Mideast leads to Al-Quaida leads to 911 leads to invasion of Iraq leads to ISIS leads to drone bombing civilians leads to more ISIS recruits.

“We have a tendency to condemn people who are different from us, to define their sins as paramount and our own sinfulness as being insignificant.” – Jimmy Carter. Not sure when he said this, but it defines the narcissistic, starved for circumspection arguing style in today’s echo chambers.

“We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America — none, whatsoever.” – Ronald Reagan, 1984. Well, look who was one of those politically correct, liberal defenders of the multiculture!

“I think that people want peace so much that one of these days, government had better get out of their way and let them have it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many sources verify this, but none includes a date or context. The statement displays Eisenhower’s long view that the military-industrial complexes of all the nuclear nations were perpetuating the arms race, rather than it being based on nations’ genuine security needs. It has inspired many grassroots efforts at striving for real peace by direct citizen diplomacy.

“A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” –Ronald Reagan, March 4, 1987, televised address. So, the Democrat majority in the House and Senate impeached him, right? No. House Speaker Jim Wright (far less of a criminal than Dennis Hastert, the speaker whose House impeached Clinton), said impeaching Reagan would be “divisive,” and Democrat leaders were described as bending over backward to find excuses not to pursue impeachment.

“Life is unfair.” – John F. Kennedy, May 21, 1962, press conference, responding to complaints from some military reservists who felt they had done their duty but now were being deployed overseas. The whole quote explained that while some soldiers never leave the country, others randomly end up in danger; some survive, others die. Within this context, it appears “life is unfair,” is not brusque, but still a card the president is selectively pulling to deflect criticism. Overall, however, in a universe where random chance is the ultimate power, JFK’s three-word summation applies.

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” – George W. Bush, May 24, 2005 in Greece, N.Y., explaining his strategy to sell his ultimately failed proposal for Social Security reform.

Brian Arbenz has lived under 12 presidents. Eight truths in 12 presidencies. That’s not such a good total!