After the meeting I went outside our meeting venue at the Kentucky Coffeetree Café in Frankfort, Kentucky, the capital city of the state. I spoke with some folk who were at the meeting and were continuing discussions about politics, life, whatever. As we/they were discussing the needs of the USA, a nearby person said loudly something like, “Well we need to get rid of all this liberal control and go back to what the constitution says.”
One of my friends prodded him about what part of the constitution; and they ended up in a short but interesting and significant manhood competition about whether the more liberal one had really served in the military. They discussed the size of a particular tank and how much it weighed, etc., for my friend to prove he had really served. I actually thought afterward it was kind of funny that it was so important to the guy who didn't like liberal politics.
Somewhere during the talking, in my already aggravated state, I started challenging some of what he was saying; and we ended up yelling at one another loud enough to draw the attention of a lot of people on the block who were sitting talking, eating, drinking coffee, walking their dogs, etc. Two of my friends tried to calm me down; and, before things really calmed down, at least one of them left to go home. One had left earlier; and one more went to another table to sit, probably to avoid the inevitable blood shed that might come my/our way.
There was a discussion of American history with very different ideas about what that history entailed. (For example, Clinton didn't balance the budget. George H. W. Bush's policies actually did the balancing.)
I kept prodding the guy who didn't like liberals whose name was Jim, about what he saw being needed in the USA; and it was immediately obvious that even though we might not agree on HOW to fix our problems, we certainly agreed on what those problems were. The loudness of our respective voices reduced; and the discussion became both better in nature and more productive. It seemed we agreed on a fair amount of things:
- We both believed that the Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision was an affront to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution.
- We both believed that we needed some form of social protection net. He especially seemed to understand the need for the Food Stamps program.
- We both believe that our current two-party system is failing the country. He thinks the Republicans are more likely to have a solution. I believe the Democrats are trying the right approach.
- We both believe congress is taking too much time on things that really don't matter that much to the American people. One example of that was the time taken to vote on returning incandescent bulbs to our store shelves, led by the party that first sought to eliminate them just a few years ago.
- We both believe our governmental systems themselves need to be improved. He says that government needs to be reduced. I argued that the size isn't the problem but that what we needed was effective government of the size necessary to make it effective.
- We both agreed that taxes were too low on the very wealthy and too high on some lower paid folk.
- We both agreed that the invasion of Iraq had disrupted the mission in Afghanistan and causing more problems for the USA.
- We agreed that too many people don't have a concern for the USA and want it to be successful, though we might not have agreed how that would be seen. We never discussed that question of how, though.
- He believes the Healthcare Improvement Act (what negative folk call Obamacare) is bad for America; but we both believe our health care system needs to be improved. He believes the health care mandate is unconstitutional. I believe we need at least needed a “public option,” which to my surprise he didn't reject.
- We shared our own European ancestry and how our families had arrived in the USA, though we never discussed immigration itself.
We discussed the changes in the American neighborhood and agreed we could both place part of the division of the USA today on the lack of the neighborhood structure and a place (restaurant, library, bar,, post office or other) that was a center where folk could share news or gossip or concerns. We see a need for a return to locally-owned and run businesses. It was obvious he was already helping to support that kind of business in our small city at the heart of the Kentucky Bluegrass area.
And yet, as far apart as we likely were in many subjects, when we actually sat down to talk about that on which we agreed (and which I admit to having deliberately done), it seemed we two middle/lower class/poor, I'm not sure which, folk had much more in common than differences.
It's a shame we can't take the time as a nation to sit down like that. My new friend Jim thinks President Obama needs to have a kitchen table with a pot of coffee available on the side to invite national and even international leaders to come sit together and talk out problems. There are ways I saw that as a little too simplistic (that a lot of world leaders would never drink coffee is one of them); but, as a symbol, it seemed very right.
Now for our national and international leaders to get their shouting out of the way and start talking about that on which they do agree and start working on how to make it better for the people who are most in need without taking anyone's actual rights away.
Photo above is Bea Wilson Mansfield James Michael Mansfield, and James Dillon Mansfield
My oldest memories of my father, include his being the disciplinarian in the family, and one who spent a lot of time working when others would have rested. He wasn't afraid to use the “hickory stick” of which the song speaks: “Reading and writing and arrhythmic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.” I remember hearing, “Just wait until your father gets home” more than once. Since I was the one in the family most likely to ignore rules I was also the one most likely to endure corporal punishment. My Grandmother, though, said my parents were just learning how to discipline through me rather than that I was too often the brat in the family.
My absolute first memory of my father was when I was being "Mike" at about age 5 and experimenting with the cigarette lighter my Uncle Bus left behind after a visit. I managed to get my Uncle's Zippo lit, then set fire to the curtains, which set fire to the painted ceiling in my "dormer-style" bedroom. It was then I realized I better tell on myself and screamed for help. My father and mother both came upstairs; and one of them tore the curtains down and stomped the fire out. Daddy realized he had a quick way of putting out the fire. The bathroom was on the other side of the room; and we had one of those rubber-hosed shower heads for rinsing hair while taking a bath. While my Mom held it onto the tub spigot, he pulled it as far into the bedroom as possible with the water going full force. Somehow it reached far enough (probably 10-15 feet) to put out the fire! You don't forget that kind of excitement.
As I said before, my father was a disciplinarian; but I do not remember any punishment for setting that fire, what was probably the worst things I did as a child or teen. I believe he had the wisdom to know I had been punished enough by the immense fear this had caused me. It is possible I was given some kind of corporal punishment or banished from play or something else; but, if so, I have no memory of it but only of the fire and my Dad's quick action to save us and the house.
Another important thing about my Father was how much he knew about so many things. This might not have been a special thing among his peers of that; but I never knew anyone else who could do so many things so well.
He built the home in which I spent years 6-20. When I say he built it literally. He dug the trench for the footer, mixed the concrete and poured it, laid the block on which the frame was placed, put on the siding, installed the windows and doors, laid the flooring, put in the furnace and water heater, wired the entire home, and roofed it. He only had help in two ways: Friends and family members helped raise the frame since doing that as an individual would be very difficult or impossible. Those friends and family would occasionally come just to help with whatever he was doing that day, too. He hired someone to plaster the inside walls and ceiling. He could weld, solder, work with electricity, fix the car, and more things than I can remember.
Photo above: Three of theMansfield children
In front of the home their father built..
He was not affectionate in a physical manner; but it would have been difficult to deny that his love was there for the five of us and our mother. As he got older he became more demonstrative; but it was difficult for him, just as it was once difficult for me.
One of the most dramatic memories I have of my father begins with the arguments we would have about the War in Viet Nam. We could never agree; but the war eventually ended. Many years later, with no lead up, my Father turned to me and said, “Mike, I was wrong about Viet Nam.” It wasn't easy for him to admit when he was wrong; but this was far beyond any usual disagreements we might have. This had to do with what the core of the United States was about and even when a veteran would have to say about that particular war. Later on Robert McNamara confirmed what we both eventually believed about Viet Nam.
I had a great mother. Perhaps I'll get the chance to write about her on a Mother's Day in the future; but my Father had an awful lot to do with the person I became, working hard, not giving up, and staying married now forty-six years, almost as long as he and my Mother.
Thanks Daddy. I'll miss you again this Sunday.
-- Reverend J. Michael Mansfield, BS, MT(ASCP), M. Div.
TAX DAY RALLIES, ETC
Verizon, Amazon, BFA, GE, Citi, etc are doing what the tax laws allow them to do. The corporation lobbyists may have influenced legislation, but corporations are not the right target.
It’s the government, its rules and regulations and the legislators who are being bought off that are the problem.
Rally, where, why and how? To get what? What can I do?
DEFICIT: It’s the revenue, not the spending.
WHY IS REVENUE A PROBLEM?
Corporate tax loopholes
Tax cuts for the wealthy
Jobs shipped overseas
Unemployment, insufficient job creation
Republican obstructionism and Democrat wimpishness, Lobbyists.
Citizens United Supreme Court Decision (Koch Brothers, Chamber of Commerce)
IS THERE A SPENDING PROBLEM?
We certainly don’t want waste but we don’t want to cut good programs. Republican ideology is attempting to slash good programs.
Too much war and defense spending
Need to spend more in areas that will create jobs and improve the economy.
Education needs support.
HOW CAN IT BE FIXED?
Grass roots activism to get leadership to act
Educate the public and get them to vote
President and Democratic leadership need to take a stand
It can only be fixed by Congress and the President.
WHAT ABOUT ENTITLEMENTS (SS, MEDICARE AND MEDICAID)?
Social Security is solid for 30 years --- do not touch
Medicare only source of affordable health care for seniors.
Medicaid is being abused by states and needs some reform.
Health Care costs need to be contained. They increase too much too fast.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Rallies? Town halls? What kind? Where?
Get our organizations to support going after the real target, Congress and President
Demonstrations? Target legislators?
Letters to editors
Educational forums and material
Make Them Pay Tax Day Protest
WHAT: Make Them Pay Tax Day Protest
WHO: Lexington-Frankfort Area MoveOn Members and Friends
WHERE: U. S. Post Office, 1088 Nandino Boulevard , Lexington, KY
WHEN: 5 PM-8 PM - April 18, 2011
On Tax Day, Lexington-Frankfort Area Residents To Protest Corporate Tax Dodger Chase Bank
Participants At “Make Them Pay” Event To Deliver Tax Bill To Chase Bank
On Monday, April 18, Tax Day, Lexington-Frankfort Area residents will protest outside Chase Bank and urge them to pay their fair share of taxes.
The event is part of a nationwide Tax Day campaign called “Make Them Pay.” Events similar to the one in the Lexington-Frankfort Area are taking place all over the country targeting “The Deadbeat Dozen”—GE, Bank of America, Google, BP, Amazon, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Boeing, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, Chase—wealthy corporations that are doing everything in their power to avoid paying taxes in America.
“During these difficult economic times, when all Americans are being asked to sacrifice, it is simply wrong that Chase Bank is shirking their American duty to pay their taxes,” said business owner Rikka Wallin. “We are protesting on Tax Day because corporate tax dodgers have a responsibility to our community and our nation to pay their fair share. We pay our taxes. Chase Bank should too.”
Rikka Wallin 859-272-9166
Mike Mansfield 502-682-8704
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