I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver

I wish a buck was still silver
It was back when the country was strong

I wish a lot of things — and with certainty I can say we’ll be in sync on some of them.

My generation got off easy, as all we were called to do was weigh information. But even that was too much of a burden.

As we got more, we became less . . .

In John Wayne: The Life and Legend, the author relays a story about The Duke growing up as Marion Robert Morrison — and how every day he rode eight miles to elementary school on a horse named Jenny. No matter how much he fed his horse, Jenny was still too thin.

Some ladies in town took notice of what they perceived as malnutrition and reported his family to the Humane Society. After a vet examined the horse it was diagnosed to have a disease and eventually they had to put her down. On top of losing his beloved horse, Marion was understandably unhappy with how he was treated:

[A] sense of outrage over being falsely accused never left him. “I learned you can’t always judge a person or a situation by the way it appears on the surface,” he remembered. “You have to look deeply into things before you’re in a position to make a proper decision.”

In the book: DUKE, We’re Glad We Knew You: John Wayne’s Friends and Colleagues Remember His Remarkable Life — in the forward is a 1979 article that includes the following:

To him a handshake was a binding contract. When he was in the hospital for the last time and sold his yacht, The Wild Goose, for an amount far below its market value, he learned the engines needed minor repairs. He ordered those engines overhauled at a cost to him of $40,000 because he had told the new owner the boat was in good shape.

— The Unforgettable John Wayne by Ronald Reagan

This 60-second scene from The Searchers squares with the quote above, and it’s at the bedrock of my beliefs.

“I Told Ya, Didn’t I!”

I can’t say I’ve always come through on my word, but I try pretty damn hard — and I openly acknowledge any mistake of any kind. But sometimes we rationalize our ways and need someone to open our eyes to see it. I’ve been immeasurably fortunate to have people do that for me.

A long time ago, a teacher’s admonishment struck my spine in a way that forever altered how I would see things.

My construct of consideration began in April 1988: One moment of truth that set the foundation for all that followed. That teacher didn’t need a letter or a lecture, just a look and a few choice words. He revealed something I couldn’t see, as I was blinded by my disgust in being so royally wronged.

The bigger picture is a beautiful thing — as your interests can be served in ways you wouldn’t have imagined had you gotten what you wanted.

I think of conversation as a journey — where even the tiniest kernel of truth can alter your course. No matter how much I disagree with another’s view, I’ll look for anything that’s true and work backwards from there. What I find might not change anything or might change everything, but it’s a worthy endeavor regardless. As I wrote 15 years ago:

There’s nothing more edifying than taking a trip to another point of view

Ford: Rebuilding an American Icon tells of the company’s comeback after its largest-ever loss of $12.7 billion in 2006. At the helm of its turnaround was Alan Mulally — who faced quality concerns by embracing criticism from Consumer Reports. When he says the following, it’s not some fancy quote to float — it’s a mindset that makes all the difference in the world:

We’re gonna seek to understand before we seek to be understood.

This 2:20 scene shows what serious-minded leaders look like (and not just Mulally). Ya gotta hand it to the great-grandson of Henry Ford for having the humility to see what was best for the company by putting the right person in place:

Mulally didn’t invent the phrase — but his version flows a bit better than Stephen Covey’s from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The synopsis for the “seek to understand” tenet is as follows:

Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.

Our country could sure use some habits like that

We’re here to listen, we’re here to learn


There are powerful forces that make damn sure you don’t.

“It is widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma particularly to Black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups,” the resolution says, adding that Orange County is more diverse than it was when the airport was christened under Wayne’s name in 1979.

Lemme tell you what else is “widely recognized” — you’re being played.

I’m not defending The Duke, I’m Defending sanity

There’s a lot to be said for the totality of one’s life — and liberals have lost their way in abandoning that idea right along with their intellect.

Whatever gains you get by aimless protests, removing monuments, renaming airports, and other concocted outrage you come up with — those gains will be offset untold times over.

And They already have Been . . .

Couldn’t we just have a grandfather clause that covers our questionable past — and get on with the business of solving problems in a serious-minded manner?

At what point will our nation rise one day and say,

“You know what, this isn’t working!”

America is weighed down by baggage and misguided beliefs that became calcified over time. More so than ever, we are in perennial pursuit of ideologies — warfare waged with . . .

opinions lightly adopted but firmly held . . . forged from a combination of ignorance, dishonesty, and fashion

Life at the Bottom

Speaking of which, as I was writing this I received the reply below to some old commentary of mine. When this site is done, he’ll get the link and never hear from me again. I will not engage with anyone who shows no interest in intellectually honest dialogue. Those days are over.

Are you blaming Martin and Brown for their own deaths,white punkass Honkey, how the hell was it their fault rather than their killers?”

He probably took all of 10 seconds to make up his mind on those matters. If he were interested in what I have to say, he would have paid more attention to what I wrote in the first place.

For the conservative crowd that revels in my criticism of off-the-rails wokeness — people who deny reality on a daily basis are in no position to talk about sanity.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t listen to the you in your rare moments of reason — it means they won’t.

By the way, Obama was a terrible president and the catalyst for worsening race relations with his piss-poor handling of incidents along those lines. But no matter how you slice it — you stole that Supreme Court seat from him, which was one of the most egregious acts of theft I’ve ever seen.

You know goddamn good and well that you’d be apoplectic if the Democrats pulled a stunt like that . . .

And so would I

That just doesn’t compute with you people — that principle still counts to some of us:

That the manner in which you pursue your values matters more than the values themselves.

The origin of Safe-Space Central: Facebook Note from November 20, 2016:

You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s table . . . that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.

As I wrote on The Yellow Brick Road: 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.

In The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, he shares an encounter that gave him pause for reflection:

Then one day at the end of my thirty-seventh year, while taking a spring Sunday walk, I happened upon a neighbor in the process of repairing a lawn mower. After greeting him I remarked, “Boy, I sure admire you. I’ve never been able to fix those kind of things or do anything like that.”

My neighbor, without a moment’s hesitation, shot back, “That’s because you don’t take the time.” I resumed my walk, somehow disquieted by the gurulike simplicity, spontaneity and definitiveness of his response.

“You don’t suppose he could be right, do you?” I asked myself.

The Road Less Traveled - 2 - resize

Peck didn’t just ask himself “Could he be right?” — he acted on it (and the result is proof positive of how the even the smallest consideration can change the dynamic of your thinking).

Somehow it registered, and the next time the opportunity presented itself to make a minor repair I was able to remind myself to take my time. The parking brake was stuck on a patient’s car, and she knew that there was something one could do under the dashboard to release it, but she didn’t know what. I lay down on the floor below the front seat of her car.

Then I took the time to make myself comfortable. Once I was comfortable, I then took the time to look at the situation. . . .

At first all I saw was a confusing jumble of wires and tubes and rods, whose meaning I did not know.

But gradually, in no hurry, I was able to focus my sight . . .  I slowly studied this latch until it became clear to me . . . One single motion, one ounce of pressure from a fingertip, and the problem was solved.

Clearing the clutter can be quite revealing

That didn’t make Peck mechanically inclined any more than reading his books will make you a psychiatrist. But even a guy who dedicated his life to helping others through his insight into the human condition — allowed another to help him see something that was hidden.

Once I was comfortable, I then took the time to look at the situation. . . .


Throughout the stories on this site, the poppycock pushers did not spend one second in the spirit of the above. Quite the contrary — as they take comfort in the clutter while wallowing in doubt-free delight.

There is no thirst for clarity — no notion of wonder

It is as though with some people — those who most avidly embrace the “we are right” view — have minds that are closed from the very get-go, and they are entirely incapable of opening them, even just a crack. There is no curiosity in them. There are no questions in their minds. There are no “what ifs?” or “maybes.”

— Laura Knight-Jadczyk

My way of life is on the other end of the spectrum — a never-ending quest for clarity that’s exemplified by this song.

All day I’ve faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water, cool water
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool, clear, water

The nights are cool and I’m a fool
Each star’s a pool of water
Cool water
And with the dawn I’ll wake and yawn
And carry on to water
Cool, clear, water

Undeniably, the exponential increase in self-righteous certitude is tied to technology. Instead of becoming more worldly with our exceptional tools — our conveniences are eroding our ability to think things through. In our brave new world, we get a high out of being dismissive, distracted, distant, and shortsighted.

After all — who has time to be thoughtful anymore?

Roger Waters’ question from 1988 has been answered

At the heart of why we fail to live up to our potential as a society is because we excel at polluting even the purest form of fact. How did we get to a place where regurgitating garbage gets people to “Like” you — celebrating “victory” by clicking “bravo” to bad manners and bunk?

Humans are hardwired to want some degree of attention, and forums like Facebook are great for sharing what matters to us.

But the ever-rising ocean of partisan pettiness is gluttony under the guise of concern.

“I wish a buck was still silver” is an overture to the idea of your word being backed by something meaningful. Being true to your word is more involved than simply telling the truth. More so than ever, people feel free to believe whatever they want and still see themselves as honest.

As Rep. Blust essentially put it with pride:

It’s not a lie if I believe it’s true

THAT — is Grade-A horseshit!

As I said in my documentary about John Kerry:

By miserably failing to ask tough questions, you abdicated your responsibility. You closed your eyes and then wondered why you couldn’t see.

Those guys didn’t wanna know the truth — few do when their interests are at stake.

That’s what this is all about — that’s what it’s always been about.

Which is why intellectual honesty is far more demanding than honesty itself. The former requires the curiosity to question, a willingness to reflect, the welcoming of criticism, the acceptance of correction, and an objective interest in the truth — whereas with the latter you can be satisfied in your perception alone.

What does it say to you that someone had to put this in a book?

judge opinions on the basis of the reasons given for those opinions

Our culture loves to argue but eschews the rules of argument. It’s high time we appreciate the difference between an assertion and an argument. A perfect depiction of the distinction is on a blog I stumbled across called Duane’s Mind: A Christian’s Perspective:

An assertion is just a point of view, an opinion. An argument goes further. An argument is a point of view supported by reasons that demonstrate the view is a good one.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that at least 90% of all discussion in the domain of politics is dominated by assertion. Adhering to the demands of argument would expose this emptiness for what it is:

When you look at the bricks from the right angle, they’re as thin as this playing card. 

How can we possibly solve serious problems when we refuse to adhere to some semblance of the fundamentals of making sense? And to do that you need to be willing to entertain information that doesn’t conform to your view.

We cannot solve life’s problems except by solving them. This statement may seem idiotically tautological or self-evident, yet it is seemingly beyond the comprehension of much of the human race. This is because we must accept responsibility for a problem before we can solve it.

The Road Less Traveled

Conservatives rightly criticize the Left’s ridiculous “woke” ways — and there is a clear connection between that culture of coddling and the violent protests of our times. But many of those same Republicans went batshit crazy after 9/11 — hell-bent on bombing Iraq just because they were in the mood.

That doesn’t strike me as “party of responsibility” — and neither does this scene from my documentary:

HUBRIS: When Bush had campaigned for governor in the early 1990s, he had flown about on a plane called Accountability One. When he ran for president in 2000, Bush claimed accountability as one of his campaign themes, and his aides dubbed his campaign jet Responsibility One. But there has been no accountability for those who were wrong about Iraq — about the threat or about what would come after the invasion. Bush fired no one. Nobody resigned in disgrace. There were no consequences.

Richard W. Memmer: That’s a pretty casual attitude toward people who supposedly provided him with “bad intel.” When I told a friend that no one had been fired — instead of pondering the point, he asked me if I had a letter from the White House to prove it. Does anyone really believe that it would have mattered if I did?

Stop rollin’ downhill like a snowball headed for hell
Stand up for the flag and let’s all ring the liberty bell
Let’s make a Ford and a Chevy
That’ll still last ten years like they should
‘Cause the best of the free life is still yet to come
And the good times ain’t over for good

Merle’s sorrowful song has an uplifting twist at the end, and without that final 45 seconds — you’d miss the meaning of the message.

That there’s something more to see is what this site is all about . . .