THUNDERBEAR® #311
THE OLDEST ALTERNATIVE NEWSLETTER IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

October-December, 2020


WAS JOHN MUIR A RACIST?

Thunderbear. No, but plenty of his friends were.

There was a recent article (July 26, 2020) in the WASHINGTON POST claiming that the famed naturalist and conservationist was a "racist".

Is this true? Was it possible?

Perhaps some pesky graduate student had stumbled upon a long-hidden cache of letters from Muir to Madison Grant or Harry Fairfield Osborne or some other well-placed bigot in which Muir endorses Eugenics and White supremacy?

Nope! No grad student in the wood pile! No "tell all" book shredding Muir's reputation.

The racism charges are based not on any overt actions on the part of John Muir, but on certain observed "facts" that Muir committed to writing over a century ago. Here are a few Muir observations that have brought down the wrath of the politically correct on his shaggy head.

In Muir's early rambles in the Sierra Nevada, John Muir would encounter people in the Sierra, White and Native American, who were not "Climbing the mountains to get their good tidings", but trying to wrest a hardscrabble living from the peaks and valleys.

They did not dress well.

Describing a Native American woman, Muir points out "Her dress was calico rags, far from clean; in every way, she seemed sadly unlike nature's neat, well dressed animals, though living like them on the bounty of the wilderness. Strange that Mankind alone is dirty.

Had she been clad in fur or cloth woven of grass or shreddy bark, she might then have seemed a rightful part of the wilderness, like a good wolf at least, or a bear."

On another occasion, Muir encounters an Indian band on the trail: "They were wrapped in blankets made from the skins of sage rabbits. The dirt on some of the faces seemed almost old enough and thick enough to have geological significance. A strangely dirty and irregular life these dark eyed, dark haired, half happy savages lead in the clean wilderness.

How glad I was to get away from the grey grim crowd and see them vanish down the trail. Yet it seems sad to feel such desperate repulsion from one's fellow beings, to prefer the society of squirrels and woodchucks that of our own species, must surely be unnatural."

Although Muir does not say so, The Native Americans probably smelled, as you and I (and Muir) would, after a season in the Sierra. Muir also grants full equality to his Red brethren and chides himself for his snobbery.

Since Muir noted that the Indians were sartorially deficient, and had brown eyes rather than blue and dark hair instead of blonde, does this make him a "racist"? How about calling them "savages"? Not nice, and certainly politically incorrect, "savage" was a common 19th century term used to describe unchristianized, untaxed indigenes of whatever continent. (Today, the word "savage" is proscribed and is used only by NPS personnel to describe concession employees at Yellowstone National Park.)

However, Muir goes on to make some positive comments on the Sierra Indians; Comments that his detractors choose to ignore.:

Indeed, as the biologist Dr. Raymond Barnett, points out Muir was one of the very few White men of his time to "see" or observe the Indians, past their white- damaged culture.

According to Muir:

"How many centuries Indians have roamed these woods nobody knows; probably a great many, extending far beyond the time Columbus touched our shores and it seems strange that heavier marks have not been made. Indians walk softly and hurt the landscape hardly more than the birds and squirrels excepting those wrought on the forest by their fires they made to improve their hunting grounds and vanish in a few centuries.

How different are most of those effects of the White man especially along the lower gold region. These are the White man's marks made in a few feverish years; to say nothing of mills, fields, villages, scattered hundreds of miles along the flank of the Sierra Nevada Range. Long it will be ere these marks are erased."

Could it be that Muir was prejudiced against Capitalists?

Ah, but we must press on with Muir's alleged bigotry.

While he was courting his future wife, Louie Strentzel, he attended a dinner party at the Strentzel home in Martinez, California.

Also, at the dinner party was a Colonel Boyce, who instructed the dinner party on the necessity of exterminating the Nevada Indians due to "Outrages" committed by the same. Muir angrily contradicted the Colonel, stating that the only "Outrages" were those committed by the U.S. Army and other Whites against a people whose only offense was defending their land and way of life

The Colonel looked to John Strentzel for support, but the old Polish revolutionary had a soft spot for the underdog and a man who would stand up for them, his future son-in-law.

According to Muir's detractors, John Muir was an equal opportunity bigot, abusing Afro Americans as well as Native Americans

Was he really?

Previous to his Sierra sojourn John Muir took a thousand-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico. Down through the Appalachians to do some botanizing.

He must have been out of his mind; The Civil War had only recently ended and guerrilla bands from both sides still roamed the mountains. The modern-day equivalent would be a hike across Afghanistan to check out the bird life.

During that walk, he encountered Afro Americans; people rare in rural Wisconsin; some were good, some were bad.

Muir continued with his fact-based narrative. One of his "facts" was the assertion that, from his observation, the Blacks seem to lack the Protestant Work Ethic. Muir suggested that:

"One energetic White man, working with a will, would pick as much cotton as half a dozen Sambos and Sallies." This is unlikely. There were good reasons why Blacks saw no reason for breaking records working for the White man."

"Facts", however, are slippery things as Muir's contemporary, President Abraham Lincoln once observed.

During a particularly stormy cabinet meeting, Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin Stanton angrily said "Facts don't lie, Mr. President!"

"That's true" Dead panned Lincoln. "Facts don't lie, but they do remind me of a story."

"Back home in Illinois there was this farmer who had a hankering for eggs for breakfast so he sent his little boy down to the barn to see if the hens had laid.

The lad went to the barn and as he searched for eggs, he thought he heard noises in the hay loft. Curious, he climbed the ladder and peaked into the loft.

What he saw caused him slide down the ladder and run for the house.

"PAW! PAW! SOMETHING TURRIBLE IS GOIING TO HAPPEN!" He shouted.

"What is it, son?" The farmer inquired.

"I SAW SIS AND THE HIRED MAN UP IN THE HAY LOFT! HE WAS UNBUTTONING HIS BREECHES AND SIS WAS HITCHIN UP HER DRESS!

PAW, THEY'RE FIXIN'' TO PEE ON OUR HAY!"

The farmer shook his head sorrowfully, and said

"Son, you've got your facts straight, but your conclusion needs some work."

This seems to be true of some of Muir's observations. This does not make him a racist. The interesting thing is that Muir continued to evolve, that is, to learn. When he encountered Native Americans in Alaska, he spoke highly of them and their skills, often putting his life in their hands.

If you apply the 2020 Berkeley, California definition of racism and racist to 19the century and even 20th century scientists, writers, and politicians of the White persuasion, then who WASN'T a racist?

Indeed, probably only Mark Twain escaped the taint of racism and anti-Semitism in his time (And even Twain has been condemned by humorless "liberals" because he studded his masterpiece. HUCKLEBERRY FINN, with the "N" Word; that word being the only accurate way to report the language of a poor White teenager in the ante belle South.)

A sort of low-level prejudice permeated the speech, writings, and ideas of just about every one of the times.

If you were to ask the Average Everyman of the 19th Century "Do you think that a Negro is just as good as a Whiteman? the answer (except for a plucky few) would be an unequivocal "NO!"

The same would be true if you inventoried the worth of other minorities of the times such as American Indians, "Chinamen" Mexicans, or Jews (The Irish had only recently and grudgingly been granted membership in the White race.)

Thunderbear.The Dakota rancher and future President, Theodore Roosevelt, rather famously observed "Nine out of ten dead Indians deserved killing, and I wouldn't inquire too closely about the tenth." Theodore was also an enthusiastic Eugenicist.

Eugenics was the belief that only people remarkably like ourselves should be allowed to reproduce, the "others" should be "institutionalized" or "sterilized" just to make sure.

Eugenics went hand in hand with "Scientific racism in which the "races" were ranked in order of preference (Guess who was first!)

Eugenics and "Scientific Racism" was immensely popular with the Ivy League types as you could be a bigot without wearing white sheets and messing with the White trash.

Madison Grant and Harry Fairfield Osborne, co-founders of the SAVE THE REDWOODS LEAGUE, were both unabashed White supremacists.

George Bird Grinnell, father of Glacier National Park, was a strong believer in Nordic supremacy.

Aldo Leopold, ecologist and Sigurd Olson, founder of Boundary Waters, both believed in keeping original inhabitants (Indians) out of permanent residence in awilderness area.

Both Gifford Pinchot, Forest Service chief, and Steve Mather, NPS chief dabbled in Eugenics.

John Muir was surprisingly free of the common prejudices of the day. How did he manage to avoid them? How did he manage to avoid the curse of Eugenics and "Scientific racism"?

It seems that (possibly) due to the cruel treatment he received from his father, he resolved never to be the agent of such cruelty.

As he remarked, "There is one thing that I hate with a burning hatred and that is cruelty to anyone or anything".

There is no record of cruelty or unfairness towards the large Chinese work force on his Martinez fruit ranch.

Muir's kindness extended to "Our horizontal brethren" the farm animals; his teamsters were required to "apprentice" on mules before being allowed to work with the Percheron draft horses; mules having zero tolerance for cruelty or stupidity.

"But surely, he must have been prejudiced against SOMEBODY! You ask despairingly

How about the Japanese?"

Nope! Sorry!

In 1914, a young Japanese college student, Ryozo Azuma was taking an ambitious outing with his classmates. They would first circumnavigate Mount Rainier, a distance of 100 miles and then they would climb the mountain as a finale. After a successful summiting, they stopped at Camp Muir on the descent.

Young Azuma asked their guide who was this Muir person. The guide responded that Muir was America's greatest naturalist and mountaineer and described climbing Rainier with him.

Totally impressed, he asked the location of Muir's grave, so he might visit.

"Impossible!" laughed the guide "He's not dead yet!"

Azuma lost no time writing John Muir and asking if he could meet him.

Muir wrote an enthusiastic invitation.

So Ryozo took the train down to San Francisco, where to his surprise, he was met by a member of the Sierra Club who escorted Azuma to Muir's home in Martinez.

Azuma spent 3 days with Muir; "Three of the most important days of his life" talking mountains, conservation, and Alaska. Muir arranged for a Captain Hooper to take Ryozo on as crewman on his revenue cutter bound for Alaska and adventure. Over the years, Azuma would climb over 140 mountains, become Japan's leading expert on the Arctic, save the life of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen., became known as the "John Muir of Japan" and write a biography of Muir.

"All that proves" you say, "is that John Muir wasn't prejudiced against Japanese. What about Koreans or Filipinos?"

To the best of my knowledge, Muir doesn't mention them.

So, was John Muir a racist or not?

I'm afraid we must default to the Scottish Verdict "NOT PROVEN" (With the bulk of the evidence on Muir's side.)

Unlike his good friend, Dr. Joseph Le Conte, Muir did not constantly rant against the enfranchisement of the Negro and how inferior they were, and how necessary

Jim Crow Laws were to the salvation of the White race and so on.

Muir mentions Blacks and Indians only in passing, and in a friendly if somewhat condescending manner. (A condescension he extends to the Whites of the Appalachians and the Sierra Nevada.)

Could he have done better? Of course! So, could we all.


THE GAME

Thunderbear.Every year in the summer, the Game would begin in earnest at Petrified Forest National Park.

The Game was a contest between the park rangers who wanted to keep the petrified wood in the park and a small but significant part of the public who wanted to take it.

It is a tribute to the environmental ethic and basic honesty of most of the public that there is as much petrified wood left as there is. These glittering, multicolored fragments lie begging to be picked up.

Not everyone finds the strength to put them down.

That is where the park rangers come in. Their job was to deter that human tendency to keep what glitters. They do it mainly by physical presence on horseback and on foot, using arrest or citation as a last resort. During two years as a ranger at Petrified Forest. I recall very few rangers who enjoyed that part of the job.

Now most people, unless they are professional dope smugglers, are not too imaginative when it comes to hiding something in a car; the glove compartment, the spare-tire well, under the front seats, occasionally the air filter; The Dirty Diaper Bucket Ploy was so common that we devised a special tool to search that hiding place.

The all-time favorite was the Modesty Ploy. The lady of the family would simply place a 10-15-pound chunk of wood between her knees, pull her skirt down, and, heart pounding, drive to the exit with the sure knowledge that no male ranger was going to search her person.

She would have been less confident if she had known that another ranger, hidden in a foxhole atop a butte and equipped with binoculars, had observed her husband putting the chunk of wood in the car and had radioed the make and license number to the exit station.

Suspect would always be asked three times if they had any petrified wood. If during questioning, they repented and confessed, the wood would be confiscated and they were given only a written warning.

If, like St. Peter, they denied three times, the ranger would then politely ask permission to search the car. The husband would always say "Yes! Of course,"

The ranger would then drop the other shoe. "We can't search the car with you in it, folks; so, if you'll just mosey over to that fence post and wait while I do the search, it'll just take a minute."

This was the Moment of Truth.

Usually the lady would give a sheepish grin and confess; but occasionally I would get a real competitor, a lady who appreciated a challenge: jaws set with determination, and 20 pounds of petrified wood clutched above her knees, she would heave herself out of the car and attempt to walk the longest 10 yards of her life.

As I watched her lurch across the road like Boris Karloff on the late show, I would ask the husband if his wife always walked that way. A variety of tragic ailments were cited as the cause of her pathetic condition.

About halfway to the fence, there would be a groan of despair, satisfying crash of falling rock, and, miracles of miracles, the lady could run, jump, and presumably kick her husband. It was better than a trip to Lourdes.

At this point, I would tactfully insert myself into the argument and politely tell the husband that while he had lost the petrified wood caper, they could still save his marriage if he would sign the citation as defendant. He usually jumped at the opportunity to be gallant and get her off the hook.

And so, every time I see a piece of Petrified wood in a home or a museum, I can't help but wonder how the Game is going


THE U.S. MARSHALL

Thunderbear.Recently, there has been a rather sharp demand that American history should be reconsidered; that some Founding Fathers be exposed as less than altruistic slave owners and just as importantly, that minority groups be given a fair share in the telling of the story of America.

Fortunately, the NPS is ahead of the game in the telling the story of minorities and frontier law enforcement.

Fort Smith National Historic Site tells the story of the frontier U.S. Marshalls (among other things) and relates the saga of perhaps the greatest frontier Marshall of them all,

That would be Bass Reeves, a gentleman of the Colored Persuasion, who, in a 30-year career as a frontier lawman, captured more than 3,000 desperate men and killed only 16 of them. (Granted, 16 might seem a tad excessive by today's liberal standards, but by Southwest frontier standards, that's tender hearted. Suffice to say that Reeves preferred to use psychology and reputation to deescalate a situation and effect an arrest; something that today's cops could use.)

More years ago, than I care to admit, I stopped at a second hand gun shop up in the Dakotas to play "just looking" and maybe swap for a gun. I noticed an interesting pair of matched revolvers. They were S & W .38 caliber on .44 caliber frames. I asked the elderly proprietor if the guns were for sale. "No" he smiled "They're sort of souvenirs from my old profession."

It turned out that the "Old Profession" was that of U.S. Marshall for the Dakotas in the bad old days around the turn of the century's and that the man himself was O.V. Lamb, one of the more notable lawmen of the period.

I was interested in the "gunfighter-lawman" period of our Western history and got the old man talking about his experience as a federal lawman. Although he was in his 90's, Mr. Lamb was still sharp and alert. He was one of the few college educated "gunfighters" and was more articulate than most of the old timers.

I was immediately interested in comparing the TV quick draw and shootout with the real thing as survived by Mr. lamb.

"I don't know how it was in other parts of the West, or how it was in the really early days, but I never had any experiences like you see on TV. For example, in my day, the holster was simply where you kept your pistol when you weren't using it. You took it out slow and careful and you put it back slow and careful, otherwise you might shoot yourself in the knee or foot.

I was left somewhat confused. If one didn't face his man on main street at high noon, exactly how did he get him to jail or the cemetery?

Mr. Lamb smiled and proceeded to explain his philosophy of law enforcement which still has a great deal of validity in the age of Donald Trump.

According to Lamb, the secret was quite simple; You always had your gun out and pointing before you approached your "bad man."

"I have seen men who could draw a pistol mighty fast, but I have] never seen one who could draw against the "drop" he remarked.

I suggested that it would be somewhat tiring as well as alarming to the citizenry to have the Marshall walking about with a leveled pistol.

The old man's eyes twinkled and he said "You studied your man, you learned his habit where he hung out, what he did during the average day; then you went after him and started maneuver."

"Maneuver" I inquired. "Yes, maneuvering was part of the business. You slipped behind the man, took out your gun, forced your face into a smile and said "Good morning!" real pleasant. The man, taken off guard, would turn around, see the friendly smile and the big .45 and his hands would naturally go up in the air, at least that's the way I did it.

I never gave a man a fair chance" he said with conviction "and I believe because I never gave them a fair chance, I never had to kill anyone in 20 years as a law man" although, he reflected "I did have to wing a few and there were a couple that I should have killed."

"The secret was firepower and psychology." He went on "If you were stupid enough to walk up to a man with your pistol holstered and demand his, he would feel that this courage would be in question if he didn't try to do something about it.

I always took great care not to damage a man's pride even if he was a bad man. When I went out after a man, I usually had two flankers armed with Browning 10 gage lever action shotguns. "Those Brownings!" he chuckled "They could clear a pool hall, tables and all. When my man saw those shotguns and a drawn.45, he didn't think anything about his pride or courage being in question; he just naturally got em up.

"Another thing," he went on, "Don't ever give a man the idea that you're getting some kind of personal thrill about putting him in jail or that you are doing it out of meanness or spite. The men I went up against respected a man who was doing his duty; they would go to any length to kill an officer who had a personal vendetta against them."

I asked the inevitable question: "But Mr. Lamb, couldn't the bad guys get behind you on occasion?"

"Of course, they could, son" he laughed.

"Well, what happened?" I asked, impatiently.

"Nothing much" he grinned, "I would just lose my gun belt, saddle and occasionally, my pants. Then the badman would tell me exactly what saloon or general store would have my belonging; you tried not let it happen too often."

Thunderbear.The two pistols? Well, that's another story.

Mr. Lamb leaned back in his chair and lit up another cigar. "So, PJ, you would like to know some more those twin .38 revolvers of mine?"

"Yes!" I responded eagerly.

"You will remember my philosophy of arrest procedure? Plenty of firepower, plenty of manpower, and nobody gets hurt." He said, answering his own question.

"Well sometimes rules get a little bent, particularly when you are young and eager like I was, but the results just prove the rule." he ruminated.

"I was serving some papers on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in the Dakotas when I happened to meet a reliable informant who told be that I could find "Indian Pete" wintering in a dug outwear the junction of Red Scaffold and Cherry Creeks.

"Indian Pete" was one of the most wanted men in the area at that time. He was one of the Chief Lieutenants of Jack Sully's gang of stock thieves. He was also one of the few Indians who was proficient with the revolver as well as the rifle, and wore a brace of .38s on .44 frames.

"Pete" was also of the opinion that he would never be taken alive.

Now in the case of 98% of the outlaws of that time and maybe even today, that business about dying with their boots on, was just whiskey talk; when they were cornered, they quit, but there was something about "Indian Pete" that made lawmen believer that Pete might be in the other 2%.

The logical thing to do was to report his location and go in with plenty of men and shotguns, but, he reflected with a chuckle; "I was 23 years old and only 4 miles from the dugout and the single handed capture of a very notable outlaw; something that would be quite a feather in my cap, so I rode off alone for the junction of the Red Scaffold and Cherry Creek.

The dug out was in the side of a creek bank in a thicket, with a plank door set into the bank and a little stove pipe sticking out of the top of the bank, putting out smoke from rotten or green cottonwood, which gave the outfit's location away.

I listened for a while at the door, but couldn't hear anything, but an odd "clicking" sound from time to time. It took me a while to figure out what it was. Indians didn't talk while they played poker: the "clicking" was poker chips. My informant didn't tell me that Pete had company. I sat down behind a tree and did some thinking. My plan had been to wait until Pete came out, get the drop on him, put the irons on him and take him in.

I hadn't planned on his friends and the logical thing to do was go for help, but at 23, you are not logical as you should be.

It was a winter day and the shadows were getting longer. I was getting colder; I was a long way from help. Indian poker games can last for days and I was plain getting scared; so, I decided to do something stupid.

I decided to rely on the element of surprise. It was unlikely that they would have weapons on the table. It is uncomfortable to wear a pistol belt while sitting at a table for any length of time, so Pete had undoubtably removed his belt and guns.

I decided to kick in the door and enter with drawn pistol, yelling Federal Officer, just like the modern TV cowboys do it.

I screwed up my nerve, resisted an urge to throw up my breakfast and charged the door.

My leg went right through one of the rotten planks of the door and I stumbled into the dugout wearing half the door and screaming at the top of my lungs.

I was right about there being no weapons on the table, but I was wrong about Pete: Uncomfortable or not, Pete was wearing his twin .38's and his hands were on them.

I guess my voice must have squeaked when I yelled "Hands up "or I looked pretty ridiculous waving a gun and trying to untangle myself from the door because Pete's knuckles went white as those big pistols started coming out of those black holsters and were almost in line when I shot him.

"Did you kill him?" I gasped.

"Never killed a man in my life, Son "he replied. "I shot him in the upper right leg and I like to think that's where I was aiming. In my time, if you shot a man in the body the chances were that infection would kill him if the bullet didn't so I always tried for a leg, which you had time to do if you had the drop on a man and he was dumb enough or brave enough to try to draw.

At any rate, the shock of that .45 slug knocked him unconscious. The other two men were petrified with fear and didn't try to make a play. I had them stop Pete's bleeding, stacked him on Pete's horse and drove off their horses after telling them about an imaginary detachment of Indian police who would arrive shortly. I then rode for civilization, leading Pete's horse.

"Did you get a promotion out of it?" I inquired.

"Hell no! "he laughed. "I got a verbal reprimand for being lacking in judgement and crazy as a hoot owl at high noon!"

"What happened to Pete" I asked.

"About what happens today. He got a good lawyer, made some promises, got out on bail and made a successful getaway to Saskatchewan as soon as he was well enough to steal something with four legs."


A BRIEF NOTE ON EDWARD ABBEY

Thunderbear.One of the few things good about this Pandemic is that it gives you time to cull your files and get rid of a lot of stuff that would not interest the undertaker or Internal Revenue.

Most of the files were requests for information that somehow caught my pack rat fancy.

One was a request from a Dina Doolin, a reporter for the mighty COOLEDGE EXAMINER

(Well, you've got to start somewheres.)

The enterprising Ms Doolin had discovered that The Desert Gadfly, Edward Abbey, had once been a seasonal park ranger at Cooledge's one claim to fame, Casa Grande National Monument, irreverently called "The Mud Hut" by a staff member.

Ms Doolin wanted to interview anyone who had worked with Cactus Ed. For some reason, she thought I must be the Keeper of the Abbey Flame, though I had never met the man. She asked my opinion of him.

To: Dina Doolin, COOLEDGE EXAMINER

FROM: PJ Ryan, NPS

SUBJECT: Edward Abbey

Mr. Abbey was one of the most controversial employees of the National Park Service and even today, heated discussion arises upon the mention of Abbey's name. Some employees prefer not to discuss the man and his work.

It may well be true that Mr. Abbey did not always display the moral probity that the public has come to associate with the National Park Service, and it is possible that like most of us, Mr. Abbey was not as good a Christian as he might have been.

Claims have been made of misconduct on the part of Abbey involving the seduction of female employees both on and off duty as well as misappropriation of government funds at one park. It should be noted, however, that these claims were made by Mr. Abbey's worst enemy, and have not been substantiated.

Having said this, we are left with monumental evidence that he was the best writer on the American desert Southwest. He has filed his intellectual mining patent on the Southwest and has resisted all claim jumpers. You have already sampled some of the rich vein of his descriptive talents (As well as his humor) in DESERT SOLITAIRE and should move on to his various collections of essays (DOWN THE RIVER, ABBEY'S ROAD etc. etc. (You may skip his novels including THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG, which are pretentious eco-drivel.)

As I remarked, not everyone who knew Edward Abbey wishes to discuss the cannot necessarily because of disapproval, but because they do not wish their space or the that of Abbey to be invaded.

I will, however, do my best to supply you with the phone or Fax numbers of those who are willing to discuss the man.

God speed in your work.

PJ Ryan


JOE THE IGNORABLE

Thunderbear.Down through the centuries, certain leaders have had certain pronounced characteristics.

There was Ethelred the Unready, Pedro the Cruel, Abdul the dammed, Charles the Simple, Ivan the Terrible, Richard the Lionhearted and Philip the Fair.

And then there is Joe the Ignorable.

Joe Biden has many winning characteristics; he is kind, just, intelligent, honest, (Remember that one?) truthful, patriotic, moral, brave, and faithful.

However, one of his most endearing characteristics is that you will be able to ignore him as he quietly goes about his job of repairing the nation.

Ignore him? Yes, neighbors! For blessed days, weeks, maybe even a whole month, you will be able to think of something besides what terrifying mischief the Executive Branch is up to now!

Dr. Samuel Johnson once remarked "There is nothing that so fixes a man's mind as the sure knowledge that he is to be hanged within a fortnight." This was true of the Trump Administration: "Will he start a nuclear was with (pick one) China, North Korea, Iran?"

"Will he destroy the economy?" "Will he destroy the environment with climate change?"

No longer will the Orange Menace appear every godforsaken damn day on your TV, whether you want him or not. You will now be able to escape him Trump's baleful presence will still be available on Fox TV for the addicts, but for Normals, there will be blessed relief.

Joe the Ignorable will discuss boring stuff: How to get the economy going again, how to knock out the Covid Pandemic, how to deal with a future Pandemic, how to deal with Mega Forest Fires, how to stop or even reverse climate change. How to make friends with our former allies. How to develop police forces that work for everyone and don't leave unarmed citizens dead or disabled.

Joe the Ignorable would like your input, but if you don't want to provide it, Joe will understand. You may need a vacation from "Leadership."

The Anarchist park ranger Edward Abbey once remarked that "Grown-ups don't need leaders." He is probably right.


THE SAFETY MESSAGE

Well neighbors, it looks like Donald Trump plans to go out like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; guns blazing and orange hair flying.

You have to remember that this was not my idea. You can't make this stuff up!

When January 20, 2021 rolls around, Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States may choose not to vacate the White House.

What happens then?

Do units of the 82nd Airborne or Delta Force rappel onto to the White house roof from helicopters, blast entry holes in the roof, duct tape the Donald into an office chair, carry him to curb side and wish him bon voyage?

Well, we don't know, and we doubt if anyone else does.

Granted, the General Services Administration, the National Park Service and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have contingency plans for what to do if a terrorist group were to somehow seize control of the White house and take the President and family hostage.

However, it would not occur to the average planner on what to do if the President himself were the terrorist.

We may be faced with that possibility. (Safety planning requires we plan for any eventuality.)

On the other hand, it is extremely unlikely that Trump would do anything that would result in pain or death to himself.

So, the Butch Cassidy scenario is off the table.

What Trump plans to do is what he has been hinting at doing for the last few weeks. He has been claiming that mail in ballots are inherently subject to fraud.

Since the counting of mailed in ballots will be much slower than in person ballots and because Democrat tend to vote by mail, it is likely that Trump will assume an early lead on election evening.

Trump will accept that early lead as a harbinger for the rest of the election. He will NOT accept a flood of Biden mail in ballots arriving later. These, according to Trump, will be fraudulent and must be discarded.

Trump is also on record that he will not accept any outcome except his reelection.

Is he serious? Like a stroke, neighbors.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (A not exactly unbiased left-wing outfit) there are around 165 militia outfits with a fluctuating member ship of between 20,000 and 60,000 non too tightly wrapped individuals.

Thunderbear.Trump is likely to call upon these worthies for assistance in any election dispute.

In addition to the above, there is always the National Rifle Association, whose 5 million membership is larger than that of the combined armed forces of the United States. They might be a bit rusty on infantry tactics, but they are guaranteed to have at least one gun apiece and plenty of ammunition.

So, what must be done?

Well now friends, we are still a democracy. We have to assume that the worst can happen: that as H.L. Mencken feared, that the American electorate have achieved their heart's desire and reelected a moron to the office of President of the United States.

Fortunately, that is unlikely to happen if (A) Everyone votes, and (B) All the votes are properly counted.

(A) is pretty much up to us; (B) is a bit more problematic.

In our country, local boards of election, staffed by members of both parties, count the ballots and send the results on to the state. State election authorities verify that these results are correct. There are a number of safe guards in every state to assure that the count is accurate.

For obvious reasons, it is important to keep the vote out of the Supreme Court, which it is why everyone must vote.

President Trump gave marching orders to "The Proud Boys" a right-wing terrorist group, telling them to "Stand by".

Stand By for what? If a disruption of the vote count is planned, then perhaps The Joint Chiefs of Staff should agree to assist the State Election authorities, not to put Biden in Office, but to assure that every vote has been counted.

The military are very good at counting things, whether it is tanks, bullets, or ballots.

The military also have the resources to deal with the Boogerville Militia should they or their allies think they are going to take over America.

Normally the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) do not like to mess with Civilian affairs. The American military are supposed to be neutral and not take sides.

A military takeover has always been a bogeyman of the American left and the JCS has always tried to reassure the Left that their fears are unfounded.

The Left's patience was recently stressed when the Chairman of the JCS rather naively allowed himself to be tricked into accompanying President Trump on a photo op to a church during a protest. (General Milley thought he was going to inspect some National Guard troops).

The General later apologized in public to the American people.

This does not mean there is no role for the JCS in ballot counting-As long as the service is impartial and aimed at getting a fair count. (Or would you prefer that the ballot counting be handled by the Proud Boys?)

As this is a Safety and Loss control issue, you might like to contact your Congressman for reassurance that there will be no difficulty in getting a fair count.


THE DC FOOTBALL TEAM AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Thunderbear.Although the contest involves grown men, the battle over what to name the Washington DC football team continues.

Sports fans will recall that the team was called The Redskins.

Now there are those who say that name is a tad racist.

The owner of the football team, one Dan Snyder, vehemently denies any racist intent and for the life of him cannot see why anyone could object to the name.

A well-known writer and commentator, PJ O'Rourke, decided to comment.

"You know, there just might be a reason we don't have sports teams named "THE NEW YORK KIKES or THE PHILADELPHIA DAGOS, or THE LOS ANGELES GREASERS, or THE DETROIT JIGABOOS."

Mr. O'Rourke may have a point.

Mr. Snyder remained adamant. The name of the DC football team will not be changed "AND YOU CAN PUT THAT IN CAPITAL LETTERS!" (Did we mention that Mr. Snyder is a grownup?)

There were, however, what are called "intervening variables". These are the things that prevents you from getting what you want, deservedly or not.

Mr. Snyder very much would like to have a football stadium within the District of Columbia. Very good, but along comes an "Intervening Variable". That would be the mayor of Washington, Ms. Marion Bowser, who happens to be Black.

Normally, this would not be a problem; the mayors of big cities tend to be Afro Americans. This time it was a problem. Mayor Bowser felt it was asking her to endorse a symbol of bigotry-a caricature of a native American, complete with a demeaning nickname- "Redskin".

Now every Washington DC politician harbors the fond hope of becoming one of DCs two Senators, or at least its Congressional Representative if Washington DC becomes our 51st state; a possible event if the Democrats recover the Presidency and both houses of Congress.

Mayor Bowser realizes that she must oppose the name "Redskin" or her political career

ends with the mayor's office. (This is not to say that she would not oppose the name out of common decency, but there is nothing like pragmatic realism to stiffen a politician's spine.)

Finally, finally, after years of resistance, Mr. Snyder finally agreed with Mayor Bowser and just about every sentient being, that it was possible, even desirous, that the name

"Redskin" could be dropped as the name of the Washington DC football team.

Naturally, the question arose "What do you call the team?" You could, one imagines simply call it "The Washington DC Football Team" which is what Dan Snyder's enemy, THE WASHINGTON POST, calls it.

That will not do. A team requires a mascot or a symbol that the fans can rally around.

Umm, Why?

The reasons are both psychological and economic. Symbols and logos are very important for instilling group solidarity and cohesion for good or ill. Consider the swastika or the letters KKK or the Hammer and Sickle; all of which evoke strong reactions in the viewer depending on his or her point of view.

My personal preference for a name for the DC football team is....... (roll of drums!)

THE DC BUREAUCRATS.

Why?

Well, bureaucrats are the unsung heroes of our Democracy. They are front line warriors against misinformation, tyranny, and corruption as well as doing the job they were hired to do, often risking career and livelihood to protect the public and the environment and the common good. They provide a deep well of information to reporters and other guardians of society, leaking profusely.

It goes without saying that Washington, DC is the Home of Bureaucrats in actuality, so why not in the name of the DC football team?

Alas! In spite of being my personal preference, I am afraid that the "DC Bureaucrats" will not work as the team's logo.

You see, bureaucrats, useful as they are, do not have a sexy image and it is difficult if not impossible to create a logo (Can you imagine the fans getting excited about a guy carrying a brief case? It would be problem for a sports cartoonist to handle.)

As noted, one problem with symbols and logos is economic. The logo must help sell a wide variety of team memorabilia to the fans; jackets, caps, beer coolers, mugs, pennants and so on.

The team logo must be catchy, popular and recognized by all; HELLO! Speak of the Devil! How about "THE DC DEMONS"?

The logo is easily recognizable; a guy dressed in red, horns going out of his forehead, wearing a malicious grin and carrying a pitchfork (The better to jab other team logos; a sport cartoonist's dream!)

Now you could get some backchat from the Q Anon folks and other trump supporters who might accuse DC DEMONS fans of being Devil worshippers.

So, what does the National Park Service think?

The National Park Service? Well yes. You see, ever since that unfortunate incident where Dan Snyder chopped down trees on an NPS scenic easement in order to provide himself with a view of the Potomac River, the NPS has kept an interested eye on the doings of Dan Snyder.

The NPS has even come up with an ingenious way for Mr. Snyder to redeem himself from the ridiculous charge that he might be, well, racist.

Dr. Lisa Bratton was a historian for the National Park Service's Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project.

According to Dr. Bratton; "The football team in the nation's capital should change its name to the WASHINGTON RED TAILS." The change would honor the famed Tuskegee Airmen, members of the segregated military during world War II, who were nicknamed "The Red Tails" because of the distinctive crimson color painted on the tails of their aircraft the first African American pilots in US. Military history, the Airmen completed more than 15,000 sorties in which they destroyed more than 260 enemy aircraft.

"Redskins to Red Tails would be more than just a name change. The Red Tails symbolize so much that is right in America: Victory over Fascism, honor for veterans, African American intelligence and perseverance. The change would elevate one group of Americans while ending the insult to another. Does get any better than that?"

Actually, Yes. There is room for some frosting on the cake. The Smithsonian's African American Museum can obtain one of the original "Red Tail" P-51's for display in the museum (Perhaps Dan Snyder would like to assist with the purchase of the plane just to show there are no hard feelings-- or to take a tax write off.)

There should be no reason why a Junior Tuskegee Airman or woman should not be allowed to sit in the cockpit of the P-51 to be photographed by beaming parents.


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PJ Ryan can be reached at:
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