The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Muhammad Ali and Me

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Muhammad Ali defeats Sonny ListonThe Greatest is gone.  At age 74, Muhammad Ali has died.

My dad was a boxer.

Everything I know about my father’s boxing career comes from the stories, the trophies, and old photographs. I never saw him fight. He quit boxing before I was born. I can’t say I know the reasons, but I can guess it had something to do with supporting a wife and new family, namely me in 1960.

Born in 1936, his early childhood spanned a world war and it was in post war America, with Joe Louis as the boxing hero, that my father’s love for the sport was born.  In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, boxing clubs were as common as convenience stores today. It was kind of a rite of passage for young men to try their hand in the ring and my dad was pretty good at it. He never lost a fight.

For me and boxing it was 1970 and a controversial figure named Muhammad Ali. I remember my dad talking about this fighter and calling him Cassius Clay and then explaining to me that he changed his name for his religion and that he refused to go fight in Viet Nam because of his religious beliefs. At age 10 those things weren’t all that interesting to me I just wanted to see if there was going to be a knock out, but it appeared to me even at that young age, that my dad respected Ali for that. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were Mormons and he understood what it meant to make choices that were very different from the world due to one’s faith. I don’t know. But I do know we never missed an Ali fight.

I can’t say I was an Ali fan. I think it had something to do with my mother’s teaching that it was wrong to be cocky, boastful, and arrogant, and Muhammad Ali was all of those things and then some. So, due to a mother’s strong influence, I always cheered for the other guy. History says I cheered for a lot of losers.

In that first fight of 1970, Ali’s return from exile after three years of being banned from the ring due to his decision not to go to Viet Nam, my guy Jerry Quarry, lost when a cut in the 3rd round forced an end to the fight and a TKO win for Ali.

Outwardly, I may not have been a fan, but inwardly I loved to watch Ali fight. He was light on his feet, quick, always moving, fast hands and feet, and when he struck it was hard and accurate. His style was truly elegant and graceful which is why the phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was the perfect simile.

I don’t think my dad and I missed a single heavy weight bout by Ali. Boxing was on free TV then. We watched the majority of his fights on a little black and white set. I remember listening to Howard Cosell at ringside giving the call blow-by-blow.

By the late 70s and early 80s, as the Champ’s career was coming to a close, I was more fan than foe. Ali had been so good for so long, it was hard not to like him and impossible not to respect him. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Muhammad Ali he had become a friend. No longer the foe. No longer the recipient of my agitation. When he fought Leon Spinks, losing once then coming back to win the second time, and then Larry Holmes who exposed the declining Ali and handed him the worst defeat of his career, I… no all, could see the end was near. When it did end, it happened in a less than spectacular 10 round loss by decision to Trevor Berbick on December 11, 1981. My heart ached for the man I loved to hate for so long who’s only real defeat in my mind came at the slow and methodical hands of father time. That irony isn’t lost.

The Greatest of all time had come to the end of his dominance in the ring and I was sad.

Now 25 years after his last defeat in the ring, The Greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali, has come to the end of his sojourn on this earth.

And I am sad.

 

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A Mother’s Prayer

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A Mother’s Day story dedicated to my amazing wife and mother of our four children and to my mom, a woman my feeble words cannot adequately describe.  I love them both more than words can express.

A Mother's Prayer

You came into this world in a rush amid a chaotic scramble to usher in your first breath.  The heart monitor was strapped around your mother’s stomach.  We watched blips on a screen and listened to the rhythm of the beats, but that was the cause of our concern.  There wasn’t any rhythm to it. “No heart beat… there’s no heartbeat,” the words sent doctors and nurses scrambling, taking your mother with them they quickly disappeared from view.  Unlike your other siblings, your father wouldn’t witness this delivery nor would your mother for this time she would be sedated to allow the scalpel to do its necessarily swift job.  Minutes passed but felt like days. Finally, a smiling nurse and doctor appeared.  All is well.  You are here, healthy, and in the arms of a groggy, but smiling, mom.

This Sunday started out like any other. A mother works to get her six little ducklings ready for church.  The weekly process consists of a combination of skirmishes and diplomacy but eventually all eight are in route to the meeting-house.  You are still little, the youngest of the brood, and today you are very fussy.  Not like you.  As the worship service progresses you become ever more agitated and increasingly warm. Your mother feels impressed to take you home leaving the rest of the family at church. By the time you get home you are burning with fever. 100, 101, 102 and climbing.  A telephone call to the doctor results in another trip, this time to the local children’s hospital.  When you arrive your temperature is over 104 and pushing 105.  The nurses immediately take you and wrap you in cool wet towels to try to bring the fever down.  The doctor can find no other symptoms of illness, only the high fever. He requests a procedure known as a spinal tap and your mom is asked to leave the room. In anguish, she tearfully obeys. — Spinal meningitis. The words fall heavy from the doctors lips onto the ears of a distraught and panicking mother.  A deadly disease in 1971.  If death did not occur in the first few days the patient was sure to have severe complications, from blindness and deafness to mental disabilities. The doctor’s prognosis left hope dangling by a thread, seemingly out of reach, but not all hope.  You spent a number of days in a hospital room under the watchful eye of your mother, each day showing signs of improvement.  You made it past those initial, crucial stages with your life.  Your continued improvement encouraged doctors to allow your parents to take you home, but it would be weeks, even months, before anyone would know the toll the prolonged fever would take.  Six months later, you were pronounced healthy with no ill effects.

Another night at football practice. The nightly scrimmage was like any other. Repetitions. Lots of repetitions. You run each play over and over until assignments and execution become second nature. The play was a pass play. You took the snap from center and dropped back, eyes darting about the field for an open receiver.  You never saw it coming.  The blitzing linebacker from your blind-side. He lunged at your legs, the crown of his helmet striking just above the ankle.  Your mom was there in an instant hearing your screams of pain, rushing to your side trying to calm you and provide comfort, when someone said, “ankles aren’t supposed to bend that way.”  She never left your side. There was no separating you. She was there assuring you that everything would be alright.

And for the most part, things have been alright.

Oh you’ve made some poor choices, dealing with the consequences, suffering more pain along the way, physical, emotional, and spiritual.  And every hurt, every heartache, every painful experience has been shared by your mother and will continue to be for as long as her life is connected with yours.  Because the bond between mother and child is unlike any other relationship human beings are blessed to experience in this life — for a mother’s arms encircle a child both literally and figuratively throughout his or her life with tender restraint, security, and love. There to protect against fear, harm, and evil.

Motherhood is the highest, holiest service assumed by humankind. It’s the definition of selfless service. It’s both a daunting responsibility and a glorious opportunity.  The divine role of motherhood is a gift from God, and key to His plan of happiness for all His children.

When she heard the words, “there is no heartbeat”, a mother prayed.

When she heard the diagnosis of spinal meningitis, a mother prayed.

When she heard the agonizing cries of her son in pain, a mother prayed.

A man of great knowledge and wisdom once said, “There are few things more powerful than the prayers of a righteous mother.”  I believe motherhood is a divine and appointed calling enabling them to receive help from above in times of need.  Through sleepless nights, dark days, and seemingly impossible and difficult circumstances, the prayers of mothers have been a source of unparalleled divine power in homes, communities, and nations.

That power has been exercised in your behalf countless times through your life.  Do you know what the truly amazing thing is?  She asks nothing in return.  She just wants you to be happy.

On this Mother’s Day and any day you get the chance, tell your mom how happy you are because she is your mom.

It will be an answer to a mother’s prayer.

 

Written by DCL

May 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

The Wisdom of the Aged

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James K. Flanagan passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on September 3, 2012. But he left behind the wisdom he gleaned from the 72 years of his life in a letter to his five grandchildren.

It is wisdom that will benefit us all if we will but take heed.

 

James K FlanaganDear Ryan, Conor, Brendan, Charlie, and Mary Catherine,

My wise and thoughtful daughter Rachel urged me to write down some advice for you, the important things that I have learned about life. I am beginning this on 8 April 2012, the eve of my 72nd birthday.

1. Each one of you is a wonderful gift of God both to your family and to all the world. Remember it always, especially when the cold winds of doubt and discouragement fall upon your life.

2. Be not afraid . . . of anyone or of anything when it comes to living your life most fully. Pursue your hopes and your dreams no matter how difficult or “different” they may seem to others. Far too many people don’t do what they want or should do because of what they imagine others may think or say. Remember, if they don’t bring you chicken soup when you’re sick or stand by you when you’re in trouble, they don’t matter. Avoid those sour-souled pessimists who listen to your dreams then say, “Yeah, but what if . . .” The heck with “what if. . .” Do it! The worst thing in life is to look back and say: “I would have; I could have; I should have.” Take risks, make mistakes.

3. Everyone in the world is just an ordinary person. Some people may wear fancy hats or have big titles or (temporarily) have power and want you to think they are above the rest. Don’t believe them. They have the same doubts, fears, and hopes; they eat, drink, sleep, and fart like everyone else. Question authority always but be wise and careful about the way you do it.

4. Make a Life List of all those things you want to do: travel to places; learn a skill; master a language; meet someone special. Make it long and do some things from it every year. Don’t say “I’ll do it tomorrow” (or next month or next year). That is the surest way to fail to do something. There is no tomorrow, and there is no “right” time to begin something except now.

5. Practice the Irish proverb: Moi an olge agus tiocfaidh si “Praise the child and she will flourish.”

6. Be kind and go out of your way to help people — especially the weak, the fearful, and children. Everyone is carrying a special sorrow, and they need our compassion.

7. Don’t join the military or any organization that trains you to kill. War is evil. All wars are started by old men who force or fool young men to hate and to kill each other. The old men survive, and, just as they started the war with pen and paper, they end it the same way. So many good and innocent people die. If wars are so good and noble, why aren’t those leaders who start wars right up there fighting?

8. Read books, as many as you can. They are a wonderful source of delight, wisdom, and inspiration. They need no batteries or connections, and they can go anywhere.

9. Be truthful.

10. Travel: always but especially when you are young. Don’t wait until you have “enough” money or until everything is “just right.” That never happens. Get your passport today.

11. Pick your job or profession because you love to do it. Sure, there will be some things hard about it, but a job must be a joy. Beware of taking a job for money alone — it will cripple your soul.

12. Don’t yell. It never works, and it hurts both yourself and others. Every time I have yelled, I have failed.

13. Always keep promises to children. Don’t say “we’ll see” when you mean “no.” Children expect the truth; give it to them with love and kindness.

14. Never tell anyone you love them when you don’t.

15. Live in harmony with Nature: go into the outdoors, woods, mountains, sea, desert. It’s important for your soul.

16. Visit Ireland. It’s where the soul of our family was born — especially the West: Roscommon, Clare, and Kerry.

17. Hug people you love. Tell them how much they mean to you now; don’t wait until it’s too late.

18. Be grateful. There is an Irish saying: “This is a day in our lives, and it will not come again.” Live every day with this in mind.

As was written in his obituary, James K. Flanagan “was proudly liberal and fought unyieldingly for the underdog. He was an accomplished author, poet, and seanchai — Irish storyteller; he reveled in recounting the joy of growing up Catholic in Jersey City and his adventures in the Adirondack Mountains and on the Western coast of Ireland. His greatest love was spending time with his family, most of all his five grandchildren” Ryan (11); Conor (10); Brendan (9); Charles (8); and Mary Catherine (5).”

*Previously published in the San Francisco Globe.

Written by DCL

March 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

The Miley and Robin Letters

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MTV stands for Music Television.  But this past week MTV became Miley Television.

402631-miley-cyrus-grabs-crotchMiley Cyrus, the once cute and lovable Hanna Montana on the Disney channel, displayed her disturbing and sexually overt persona transformation into a tongue wagging, butt slapping, twerking spectacle at the VMA’s and and in that instant became a polarizing pop culture figure.

I’m not going to discuss the disgusting details of Cyrus’ performance or failure depending upon your perspective.  What I want to share are the lessons that can and should be learned by every person who watched or has read about the now infamous awards show.

The lessons have been eloquently penned by two bloggers in the form of letters to their sons and daughters.

Some will read this and be changed by it.  Others will scoff, mock, and dismiss as an over-reaction or old-fashioned thinking.

You have your agency to choose how you react, but at least choose to read and consider.

 

Penned by Blogger Kim Keller at Roadkillgoldfish.com

Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.

Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your every Tweet and Instagram photo. This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word “no,” made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance.

If you ever even consider doing something like that, I promise you that I will run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks. I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hang out like an overheated hound dog. I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public.

Why would I do that? Because I love you and I want you to respect yourself. Miley Cyrus is not edgy or cool or sexy. She’s a desperate girl screaming for attention: Notice me. Tell me I’m pretty. See how hot I am. I know all the guys want me. All the girls want to be me.

You probably know girls who will emulate this behavior at the next school dance. Don’t do it with them. You are far too valuable to sell yourself so cheaply. Walk away. Let the boys gawk and know in your heart that they see only a body that can be used for their pleasure and then forgotten.

I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt sad because I haven’t gushed over everything you’ve done. My role is to praise when praise is due, but also to offer constructive criticism and correction when it is needed as well. I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt demoralized because your Instagram following isn’t in the thousands, and I’m sorry those “selfies” can never capture how amazingly beautiful you truly are. I’m sorry if you’ve ever wished you had a friend instead of a mom, and I promise you that I will probably get worse when you hit high school.

Dear daughter, I am going to fight or die trying to keep you from becoming like the Miley Cyruses of the world.

You can thank me later.

**********************

Penned by Blogger and Radio Show host Matt Walsh at The Matt Walsh Blog

Dear son,

Don’t let Robin Thicke be a lesson to you.

Don’t let any of these pigs and perverts you see on TV be a lesson to you. They treat women like garbage; they possess no chivalry, no self control; they are disloyal and dishonest; they spend all day pursuing pleasure at the expense of others, and they encourage you to do the same. You might be tempted to follow suit. In fact, you WILL be tempted. These male pop stars and celebrities, look at them, you’ll think. They take advantage of emotionally broken, self loathing, confused young women, and they are rewarded handsomely for it. Look at their nice clothes and their nice cars. Look how they are admired and loved. Look, they treat women like trash and other women fawn all over them because of it. This must be how real men behave, you’ll think.

And you’ll be wrong. You’ll be wrong about a lot of things in life — this is what it means to be human — but never will you be more wrong than when you feel the temptation to buy the lies that pop culture sells about the nature of true masculinity. Son, there is nothing glamorous or fun about being a man of low character and no integrity. What you see on TV is a facade. It’s a sales pitch. It’s poison. You see the bright lights and the sexy women, but you don’t see what happens when the cameras are off and these pop culture gods return to their lives as mere mortals. You don’t see them in their big, empty, lonely houses. You don’t see the emptiness in the pit of their souls. You don’t see all the alcohol and drugs they have to use to dull the pain of living a life devoid of real, committed relationships. You don’t see the hatred they have for themselves and for humanity. You don’t see the jealousy they have towards normal, decent men.

Your dad is no celebrity. He’s just an average, boring guy. But he’s got something that every famous and non-famous womanizer envies: He’s got the love and commitment of ONE beautiful, smart, faithful woman. He’s got your mom, and he’ll only have your mom until the day he dies. He ought to be waking up every day shouting praises to the Lord because of that.

Listen, son, don’t let the world tell you how to be a man. They don’t know anything about the subject.

Men are loyal. Men are honest. Men respect and honor women. A man goes out and finds one woman, and he vows to protect and love her for the rest of his life. A man would never betray that vow. Even the weakest and most cowardly man — if he is a man at all — would die for the woman he loves. Your dad is no hero, but let someone try to hurt your mom and watch him suddenly turn into Superman (or Batman, whichever you prefer).

See, son, you don’t have to be big and strong to be a man, although I think you will be one day. You don’t have to be “cool” or athletic. You don’t have to play guitar or fix cars. These are all fine things, but they don’t define a man. A man is defined by how he treats women, by how he keeps his promises, and by how he protects and serves the ones he loves. That’s what makes a man a man. My dad taught me that, he taught it by example. I pray I can do the same for you.

Oh, and by the way, if I ever catch you disrespecting women, I will sit you down and talk to you about it. But first I’ll kick your butt up and down the street. That’s a promise.

Love,

Your old man

Written by DCL

August 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Confessions of a Welfare Worker

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A recent report by Bret Baire of FOX News followed a California beach bum through his typical day, driving a nice black pickup truck, hanging out on the beach drinking beers with friends and flashing his SNAP card.

SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps…

How does a guy living the life on a California beach do it?  The same way many Americans do it.  Gaming the system, finding its flaws and loopholes, which are many, and taking advantage.

The following is a post by a person only identified as a Welfare Worker.  As I followed previous and subsequent posts it became clear he or she was indeed what they said they were or perhaps even higher in the welfare food chain.

Regardless, what they had to say should be cause for every tax payer to be hammering their elected representatives to clean up and fix a corrupt and broken system that seems to foster dependency and discourage self-sufficiency.

Welfare Worker

Management discourages us from looking into fraud, for all but the worst cases.

I once discovered fraud from a bank statement, the bank statement were not required, but the transactions showed unreported income. I got called into my supervisor’s office and asked “Why did you request a bank statement? You know it is not needed.” I had to apologize, and tell her I did not request it, they just sent it in with the rest of the paperwork. If I would have actually requested it, I would have been in real trouble, but there wasn’t much she could no.

Most of what people think is fraud, is actually just gaming the system – shaping the circumstances so maximum benefits are received.

People can quit jobs to increase welfare benefits for ANY reason.

No work requirements for food stamps in 46 states, mostly done under Bush.
ABAWD regulations suspended for 12 month periods, year after year.
http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/rules/memo/…
http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/rules/memo/…

Many states have no resource requirements. In our county one family got $600,000 in a settlement, quit their jobs and went on food stamps and Medicaid, no problem. This type of think is common nationwide.

People spend more for cell phones and cable TV than for heat, cooling, electric, and welfare programs pay those bills, no fraud.

Many people live off social services, and will not apply for cash assistance (TANF) because they do not want to work or file for child support, no fraud.

It is known that for adults with SSI (welfare) children, half of their income is the SSI – pays the bills not covered by welfare.

(Per the SSA reference below – SSI and children – “On average, SSI payments accounted for nearly 48 percent of the family income of SSI children,”) For all families with SSI children, SSI is nearly half of ALL income. SSI and children.
http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v66n2…

Myth: Most welfare recipients are on benefits a short time.

Let me make that clearer.

At any one time 80% of any given caseload is chronic, repeat for one or more lifetimes.
80% of the money being spent at any one moment in time, is for the chronic, constantly needy, needy by choice, more than circumstances. The other 20% comes and goes on a regular basis, in one door, out the other, never to be seen again.

At any moment in time, only 20% of the total, but over a long stretch (say five years), most of the ones helped were short timers, came and went, just like the myth says, most of the recipients on a short time,but they only use 20% of the total funds available.

80% of the financial help available, goes to those ‘few bad apples.’ That does not sound like a good taxpayer investment to me. It seems to me the lion share of the money should be spent on the temporarily poor, the poor by circumstances, more than choice.
http://www.urban.org/publications/900288…

~ ~ ~
Cash Welfare Caseload. In December 2010, the number of families receiving TANF cash welfare was 1.9 million families, consisting of 4.7 million recipients, of which 3.5 million were children. The cash welfare caseload is very heterogeneous. The type of family historically thought of as the “typical” cash welfare family—one with an unemployed adult recipient—accounted for less than half of all families on the rolls in FY2008. Additionally, 15% of cash welfare families had an employed adult, while almost half of all families had no adult recipient. Child-only families include those with disabled adults receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), adults who are non-parents (e.g., grandparents, aunts, uncles) caring for children, and families consisting of citizen children and ineligible noncitizen parents.
http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/asset…

~ ~

Today’s antipoverty safety net is dramatically different from the one in place two decades ago when welfare reform was enacted. Rather than a safety net primarily dependent on cash assistance programs, as is the common perception, the current system is highly reliant on social service programs funded by government and delivered through community-based nonprofits. Annual public and private expenditures for social service programs today exceed total federal outlays for cash assistance programs like welfare, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

https://ed.stanford.edu/events/…

 

Telling the Emperor He’s Naked OR Saying What Others are Afraid to.

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Sometimes when Bill O’Reilly speaks I find myself shaking my head in disbelief and disagreement.  Other times my nodding is profuse and fervent in the positive.

Regardless of what you personally think of Bill O’Reilly, the man isn’t afraid to say what he thinks and more often than not what others are likely thinking but are too afraid to say themselves.

So it is with his Talking Points segment on the O’Reilly Factor Monday night following President Obama’s second speech on the Trayvon Martin case and race in America.

Personally, I felt the President injected himself into the Zimmerman case haphazardly and recklessly when he made his first statement prior to the trial or any presentation of evidence in the case.  I felt he unnecessarily created more angst and bitterness with his unbalanced remarks which made it appear the president had taken sides and with no thought toward the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a court of law with regard to George Zimmerman.

This second speech was more tempered and calculated than the first but still failed, in my opinion, to root out the main cause for the tensions and problems that exist with regard to race in America today and failed to acknowledge the core reasons for the problems that plague the African American community.  He ignored them, played the blame game, and did little to ease the tensions of which he spoke.

I’ve long held the belief that the disintegration of the family has led to more problems in society than any other failure and that includes the black community.  I still hold that belief and apparently Bill O’Reilly sees it that way too.  Fix that problem and many many other problems go away.  It’s not a panacea but it is a huge part of the cure.

Of course in the days following this monologue the excuse makers and placaters have come out in droves.

The Royal Court is not pleased at having its leader’s bareness outed.

Written by DCL

July 24, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Red Skelton With a Message for Our Day

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Red Skelton was the funny man of my childhood.  I remember seeing him often on TV programs like Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, and of course his own TV show, The Red Skelton Hour.

But on the occasion represented by this video, Mr. Skelton took a moment to teach a valuable lesson on what it means to be an American citizen and the solemn words of our pledge of allegiance.

This is a message for our day perhaps more so than in 1969 when it was recorded.  It is a great reminder of who we were as a nation and people not so long ago and where we must return if our nation is to remain whole and strong.

Written by DCL

June 8, 2013 at 10:39 pm