The Yellow Brick Road

Slogans, Monuments & Movements, Oh My!

“We . . . want it now, and if it makes money now, it’s a good idea. But . . . if the things we’re doing are going to mess up the future, it wasn’t a good idea. Don’t deal on the moment. Take the long-term look at things.”

The Dust Bowl

Years before the Green Book movie came out, when I was working in St. Louis I went to the Route 66 exhibit at the History Museum. What sticks out in my mind the most is The Negro Motorist Green Book

Like most people, I had a romanticized image of Route 66 — it never hit me how dangerous it was for blacks to travel back then — they needed “special” travel guides for safe places to stop.

So while we’ve had periods of greatness, we’ve rested on our laurels and looked the other way all too often. And with the technology of today, we see no evil with lickety–split satisfaction.

At times, the Right is justifiably infuriated by the Left, and vice versa — and this site illustrates their systematic efforts to derail debate.

Rain drippin’ off the brim of my hat
Sure is cold today
Here I am walkin’ down 66
Wish she hadn’t done me that way

I am an American singing American music, not a black man singing country music

Charley Pride

I’m not a “genius,” a “hero” or a “statesman” — but I’m everything else Abigail brilliantly brings to life here . . .

And you could be too

Who knows, maybe you could be the genius, hero, statesman, or all 3 that America so desperately needs.

Man is at least as much a problem-creating as a problem-solving animal. Better a crisis than the permanent boredom of meaninglessness.

Life at the Bottom

I don’t do slogans, so to me, “Black Lives Matter” is just as empty as its comeback cousin.

Blunt instruments for change are just too ham-handed for my taste.

Rather than endlessly debate catch phrases, monuments, and movements — I’m far more interested in considering the underlying merit in a point of view. While everyone else spins their wheels on who’s right, I define what I see by factoring for what’s true (isolating and correlating along the way).

When it comes to ascertaining the truth, I don’t care what your cause is, who’s in the White House, who controls Congress or the courts.

I learned early on in life that what you want gets in the way of what you see.

Does the Democratic Party have a history of manipulating racially charged incidents? Undeniably! Has the left-leaning side of the cable clans increasingly accommodated Democrats over the years? Without question!

Can you conclude what happened to Trayvon and Michael Brown with the same certainty as the death of George Floyd?

No way — but ya did, and in lickety-split fashion.

Zimmerman’s brother perfectly put it: “He had the greater hand in his own demise.” To an apologist, he had no hand at all — a mindset that violates the rules of reality.

If you’re pulled over by the police and you cop an attitude, you’re askin’ for trouble.

And right on cue, “He was a wannabe cop and was told not to follow him!” So, you want to skip right over what transpired and go right to “gunned down” — because he was armed and didn’t follow instructions?

Wishful thinking is not an argument — not to mention the fact that preforming calcified conclusions is prejudice by definition.

The Left seeks to eradicate racism while refusing to recognize how they fuel it. The second they painted Trayvon as a child, they contaminated their judgment. The cops made an honest mistake in calling his watermelon drink “iced tea” (simply because of the brand).

That the media advocates reported it the same way at first is understandable. That they never corrected it is unforgivable.

To conform to fact, we must agree that it was watermelon and consider what it means: Maybe nothing, maybe everything. But you pollute the debate when you won’t even acknowledge the irrefutable.

Worse than that — you poison your purpose.

You’d think that a party that prides itself on intellectualism would examine the efficacy of their efforts. Perhaps even try some predictive analysis:

Hmm, we’ve got the first black president in the White House and we’re marching to Black Lives Matter.

That might be overplaying our hand and have unintended consequences.

Same goes for the removal of monuments — do we really want to infuriate the opposition for fleeting gain?

Maybe the awe-inspiring artistry of historical figures will spark a sense of wonder in the youth. Perhaps they’ll read the plaque and probe for more. Whatever their findings, isn’t there great value in that process of discovery?

Wouldn’t it be better if we just let people make up their own minds about whether problematic pieces embody hate or heritage?

And even if the monuments could magically vanish from the face of the Earth, would that really solve anything?

On top of all that, it seems that the more sensitive we try to be, the more hypersensitive our culture has become. That wasn’t our aim.

We elected a sophisticated guy — shouldn’t we seek change in a bold and sophisticated manner?

After all, wasn’t that the point of his presidency?

Wouldn’t we be more successful in solving problems if we took an honest look at the different dimensions within them? Instead of putting Kaepernick on a pedestal for telling us what we wanna hear, maybe we should be inspired by Kobe who told us what we don’t:

I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American.

For immovable conservatives who find comfort in that quote — take a good look in the mirror, because defending the indefensible is your M.O.

What we’re seeing today was partly built on a foundation of manufactured outrage (which applies to most controversial issues in America over the last 30 years).

Decades of dishonesty in the Gutter Games of Government is not a nation on a path to greatness.

I wrote this piece before I came across the accompanying video. I was blown away by these words:

Anti-racism, as currently configured — has gone a long way from what used to be considered intelligent and sincere civil rights activism. Today it’s a religion.

As explained in the post above:

I made a mistake

Years later, I was looking around and discovered that the picture on the right is a different Trayvon Martin.

At the time, I just grabbed the graphic without giving it much thought (which is precisely the problem). From

Mea culpa

My endless efforts to get it right on everything else — doesn’t excuse my carelessness.

It’s bad enough that it’s the wrong Trayvon, but big, bold letters of “The truth Should Not have an agenda!” is not my style.

I made a mistake and I’m embarrassed by it.

That slip-up is nowhere near my standards — which bugs the hell out of me and always will. But it’s an opportunity to show how this can happen — even to those with the most unwavering commitment to truth.

And that when you make a mistake — you say so.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit. Only five men, just five men, and we could get out of the oppressive cold. Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up.

There was still over eight hours until the sun came up. 8 more hours of bone-chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud . . . It was hard to hear anything.

And then — one voice began to echo through the night. One voice raised in song. The song was terribly out of tune — but sung with great enthusiasm.

One voice became two, and two became three. And before long everyone in the class was singing. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing. But the singing persisted. And somehow the mud seemed a little warmer. And the wind a little tamer. And the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person . . .

It seems we have all the time in the world to promote the false — but not a second to spare for the truth. “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” — a quote that’s been around in various forms for over 300 years (evidently the original being from 1710):

Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect.

Chris Rock didn’t come up with this sketch out of thin air

“How not to get your ass kicked by the police!”

And I didn’t write this poem from my imagination 16 years ago

It’s not anti-war — It’s pro-thinking

Believe it or not, the best way to serve your interests is to first and foremost — hold your own accountable. If you wanna make the opposition look bad, try looking good. If you wanna have the moral high ground, try earning it:

The moral high ground, in ethical or political parlance, refers to the status of being respected for remaining moral, and adhering to and upholding a universally recognized standard of justice or goodness.

There’s a classic scene in Seinfeld that delightfully illustrates the divide between declarations of virtue and delivering on them

The road to reality is blocked by detours designed to keep you going in circles. Purveyors of poppycock reroute you with narratives that avoid detail like the plague. The way out is to start with something small — an inconsistency or two that’s narrow in scope — and take the trail where it leads.

I can think of no finer example than 12 Angry Men. This 32-second modified montage captures the core of the story — and then some:

Henry Fonda’s character stood alone in his quest to examine the evidence before prematurely coming to a conclusion. He doesn’t get any traction early on — but sticking that duplicate knife into the table worked wonders — opening the door for the el-tracks inquiry:

Let’s take two pieces of testimony and try to put them together . . .

When debating our views, we would do well to remember the wisdom of The Deer Hunter. This 5-second scene is the essence of arguing on the merits — which means to stay true to the topic at hand. More specifically, let’s look at the definition of “merits” — since not everyone understands it (and so few practice it). From The Free

Merits are the intrinsic rights and wrongs of an issue — as distinct from extraneous matters and technicalities. The factual content of a matter — apart from emotional considerations.

By design — the debauchery of platform politicking overlaps all that you seek — so when you think you’re arguing over one issue, you’re really arguing over them all. And ya wonder why this nation never solves anything?

Stanley, see this? This is this! This ain’t somethin’ else — THIS IS THIS!

Putting aside Bill Cosby’s fall from grace — he was a universal icon of goodness growing up. In just this 5-second scene from Picture Pages — a parallel can be drawn to everything I advocate on this site:

There’s a mutual responsibility in communication — and that “deal” is to hold up your end of the bargain (and it’s in your interests to do so). After all, you want others to consider your concerns — so shouldn’t you do the same in return?

Wouldn’t some good ol’ give-and-take be refreshing for a change?

FARGO fans will surely appreciate this 57-second clip. In a nutshell, this is what my site is all about — how to handle information that doesn’t look or sound right, is inconsistent, too coincidental and so on. If you just put the politics aside and look at something objectively — it’s AMAZING what you can see.

This 2:22 scene from Shattered Glass is a model of self-deception — how a reporter allows her friendship to severely cloud her judgment. What’s especially educational is the turnaround time to see what would be obvious if not for the Cloak of Loyalty’s Lies

She repeatedly digs in to find a way to absolve her friend, but she can’t escape the envelope of arguments that cut off every avenue of evasion:

Instead of genuinely listening to each other with our fine collection of communication tools — slinging snippets of certitude has become America’s pastime. We have created a knee-jerk nation where discernment is derided and negligence is in vogue. What was glaringly impolite in the past is now perfectly acceptable.

Much to our detriment we have fashioned a society in which “I say tomayto, you say tomahto” is all the authority required to have a “point of view.” 

Most maddening of all is the dedication to preserving beliefs that, at minimum, would be revealed to be seriously flawed by the slightest objective scrutiny.

How much can we hope to accomplish in a culture that razes reason for fun?

In 11 seconds this clip encapsulates what America has become

The United States is now a country obsessed with the worship of its own ignorance. . . . we’re proud of not knowing things. Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue. To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything.

It is a new Declaration of Independence: no longer do we hold these truths to be self-evident, we hold all truths to be self-evident, even the ones that aren’t true. All things are knowable and every opinion on any subject is as good as any other.

We no longer have those principled and informed arguments. The foundational knowledge of the average American is now so low that it has crashed through the floor of “uninformed,” passed “misinformed” on the way down, and is now plummeting to “aggressively wrong.” People don’t just believe dumb things; they actively resist further learning rather than let go of those beliefs.

I was not alive in the Middle Ages, so I cannot say it is unprecedented, but within my living memory I’ve never seen anything like it.

Speaking of trench warfare, in the slightly summarized passage below — the Russ Hoyle is referring to Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam:

True folly, Tuchman found, is generally recognized as counterproductive in its own time, and not merely in hindsight. In Tuchman’s template, true folly only ensues when a clear alternative path of action was available and ruled out.

Tuchman also stipulated that real folly was most often the product of a group within an organized government. Tuchman alighted on a root cause of folly that she called “wooden-headedness” — defined in part as “assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting contrary information.”

She also saw wooden-headedness as a certain proclivity for “acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by facts.” Wooden-headedness, said Tuchman, was finally — “the refusal to benefit from experience.”

Tuchman could have just as easily been describing America as a whole

Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask!

Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something.

And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting.

Fighting for something better than just jungle law . . .

fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed.

That’s what you’d see.

In 1939 reporters and politicians hastily walked out of a screening of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, “the film was attacked as anti-American, and several politicians suggested the film shouldn’t even be released at all — that showing it would be very bad for the country.”

In keeping with American tradition of sloganeering, since the movie was deemed “anti-American,” naturally it was also assailed for its “pro-Communist” sentiment.

Over time Mr. Smith came to be revered as a cultural icon for truth and justice, but we carried on the legacy of assigning “anti” to anything we refuse to examine.

And we asked each other a lot of questions. I asked you questions, you asked me questions” . . .

I’m a big fan . . .

Unlike almost all of America — I don’t see through the prism of Right & Left.

  • This makes sense — that doesn’t
  • This is true — that’s false

That’s it!

There is no amount of gain you could give me to believe something to be true that is false. When warranted, I will defend those I despise and call out those I like. I call a spade a spade, period.

Little did I know that something so comical would become so acceptable:

Sir, I have got conclusive evidence: Notarized depositions, tire prints, blood samples. I’ve got eyewitness accounts, murder weapons, fingerprints, recordings . . .

Hold it. Hold it, kid. It’s flimsy. It’s not enough. It’ll never hold up, not in a court of law.

Let’s put this aside . . .

We’re here to socialize — not talk shop

Shown here is a somewhat dehumanized, life-size bronze figure of a human being of no particular sex, age, race, culture, or environment. Compressed between the two wheels, it seems to present humanity as the victim of its own complicated inventions. The wheels also symbolize the blind ups and downs of fortune.

The date 1965 is inscribed on the base, and the whole sad assemblage seems to say that human history and civilization have not exactly turned out as was once more hopefully expected.

A History of the Modern World