Oklahoma City and Now: How Things Were 22 years A

It was April 19, 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed.  Before this heinous event I had invested several years in researching domestic terrorism and in writing a Novel I called The 47th Day. I had also been tracking terrorist groups  country by country ( and terrorist) events around the world since the 1970s.
Five day after Oklahoma City, April 24, 1995 I wrote the following, which I intended to send as as a VIEWPOINT to our local newspaper, The Kalamazoo Gazette. For reasons now long forgotten,  I never sent the piece. In looking for something else I ran across this and was struck by the fact that much of what I wrote back then, and the observations made still hold today. This is not an indictment of any particular political group. Rather it is a look at what seemed to me to be  steady, slowly spreading simmering  discontent in this country, especially the rural and fly-over parts. The Oklahoma City Bombing was neither a milestone, nor a watermark in the history of domestic terrorism, save perhaps for the magnitude of casualties.
The alleged perpetrators of the Oklahoma crime are being portrayed as a violent fringe of demented people with peculiar beliefs, and they certainly are, yet there some reason to believe that the “fringe” is not as small as the media and knee-jerk political  rants suggest. If the fringe is defined as those parts of society outside the “mainstream,”  those who feel isolated and alienated from the political infrastructure, the “fringe” may be considerably larger than it  appears at first blush. What this portends for the future, I don’t know.
Isolation and alienation occur when people feel ignored by political power, or persecuted by it, and see no logical way to obtain power except to seize it in the same way our Founding Fathers seized it more than two hundred years ago – violently and in open rebellion. That time however, the rebellion came from the money-men and the top and was pushed down to the poor to prosecute for their “betters.”
One might argue convincingly that the seeds of such rebellion are not only planted now, but growing slowly.
The massive national political move to the right in last fall’s elections (Conservative Republicans took 2 of 3 House and Senate seats) suggests a rejection of Big Government centered in Washington, D.C.  Our Capital is increasingly seen as distant, disinterested,  impotent, and uncaring. Those inside the Beltway have their insulated way of life and let the others eat cake.
The conditions of violence and economic abandonment in many of our rural or semi-rural and suburban regions suggest a rebellion against incumbent power and the status quo. The riots in L.A. surrounding the Rodney King incident were reminiscent of earlier outbreaks in Watts, Detroit and elsewhere where open warfare broke out against police officers and brought looting, and other illegal acts of desperate people. Our mistake is seeing such things in black and white terms. They are not. The country’s poor may not be rioting and killing cops, but it the cauldron is simmering and  people are not far from taking some kind of drastic action.
In virtually any part of rural and blue collar America, you will hear attitudes and opinions that range from healthy skepticism to vehement cynicism about the Federal government.  You will also hear nightmarish archetypes (modern myths) about life among The Other, stories with no basis in fact, yet as is true with all myths, accepted for their symbolic and archetypal power to differentiate  us from them.
Consider the immediate swing of public opinion against Arabs and Middle Easterners while the fires were still burning on the Federal Building ruins in Oklahoma City. We seem to be a nation of victims looking for other victims to replace us.
Middle Class whites are reputed to have led the conservative shift last fall; poor whites play only a marginal role in the shift because the poor (of any color) generally don’t express their dissatisfaction at the ballot box. Yet the sense of frustration with Washington felt by the Middle Class, is also felt by the poor, and perhaps more keenly because such folks have little ability to do anything about their circumstances Certain racial classes may lead the poverty roles percentagewise,  but in sheer numbers the poor in this country are white and most people, including our political and elected leaders, seem to pay little attention to this reality.
At the heart of the pro-gun movement there is an inherent belief that anti-gun foes are led by the government and, all logic aside, people wonder why they must disarm. The facts are in their favor. That is, most white people who own weapons do not commit murders or mayhem. Most people of any color and with any level of privately owned arms don’t commit such crimes. Weapon ownership is seen as a Constitutional right and adherents wonder, if they are not acting criminally, why the push to disarm them? It’s a reasonable question. Absent compelling answers, people tend to invent their own.
Our justice system is viewed as inept at best and a mass failure at the worst. Slick lawyers and incompetent judges make a pathetic stew. People with means (money and connections) get a different quality of “justice” than the poor, and never mind color.
The mass media, pursuing the commercial definition of news (that which attracts audience size attracts advertising revenue) give us a steady stream of stories of violence and outrage.The media formula for squeaky-wheel news is so well understood that infinitesimal groups with obscure grievances, real and imagined, can manage their way to major news coverage, creating, at least momentarily, perceptions not warranted by reality.
Churches in this, the most religious of nations, offer claims to the path to peace and love and salvation (some are also preaching that wealth is an indicator of  God’s light) but some churches act more like competing country and social clubs in a battle for members and their money. In the best traditions of institutional (not necessarily enlightened) write off non-believers  of competing groups as doomed in the sense of ever achieving salvation. Nationally known spiritual leaders, their feet of clay publicly cracked and revealed, go off to jail for bilking believers, yet beliefs continue because human beings need to believe in something, however imperfect. It’s no wonder that many of the cults and leftfield political groups in this country use the rhetoric of God and religion and organize along church-like lines.
Under such conditions, isolation and alienation seem inevitable.
What  will the view be of Washington when late baby boomers hit their mid to late sixties and find a sick and ailing Social Security or social net?
The economic trend lines among minorities of all hues and ethnic backgrounds,  especially the poor, the young, and the elderly, are not comforting.
Warfare, is said to the be the last option of diplomacy, but if the individual is a sovereign citizen, then violence is the last option of individuals trapped without hope.
Violent and extremist political organizations and pseudo-spiritual cults have always been with us, just as vigilantism has been a constant and ugly thread in American history.
My own Michigan has had its share,
In 1936, sixteen Michiganders were arrested as members of an organization called the Black Legion, though responsible for 57 assassinations and attempted killings over a half decade. The  national umbrella group for the Black Legion was the United Brotherhood of America, headquartered in Ohio. Members of the Black Legion here in Michigan were white, drawn from the ranks of the employed and unemployed, from blue collar ranks, members of government agencies, day laborers, police officers, firemen, hospital workers. This group operated in virtual anonymity for nearly a decade and was only accidentally uncovered here in the process of a murder investigation. The Black Legion controlled numerous front organizations with names that ought to strike a familiar chord: The Wolverine Republican League, the Bullet Club, The Wayne County Rifle and Pistol Club, the Malteca Club, Night Riders, and The Black Knights.
History, it seems to me, doesn’t repeat so much as it doesn’t change a  hell of a lot.
The so-called Patriot Movement spawned state militias, pledged their allegiance to the American flag and proclaimed themselves patriots in service to country – not, it should be noted, in service to government, but to country. The men and women I know who serve and have served, may do it out of patriotism, but feel no need to bellow it to the public or to get a bunch of attaboys and attagirls. It’s my prejudice, but I always suspect people and groups who self-name themselves patriots or claim similar titles. Whenever I have dug into such groups (militias, etc) I have found them invariably the opposite of what they purport to be.
In the collective American psyche, there seems to have developed a profound difference between government and country. Perhaps this has always been around, but it is a relatively recent discovery for me. The difference? A country is loved unconditionally (theoretically) but a government is never to be trusted.
I spent three or four years looking at this shaded part of America in preparation for writing my novel, which I  completed and sent to my editor at Random House. He sent it back some time later and said in essence, no can do, he couldn’t suspend  his disbelief long enough to accept the premise. He told me, “What you’ve written could not happen in this country.”
A few months later came Oklahoma City and that day I got a frantic call from that same editor. “What you wrote can be real. It is real.  Send that manuscript back to me ASAP!” which I did, and not long after, he died suddenly, and that was the end of that book.  Such are the vagaries of a publishing career.
In researching, studying and spending time with different groups I observe certain shared characteristics:
1) Race or ethnic identity is often a central issue. We hear mostly about white racists, but racism is not exclusive to one race;
2) Such groups often arise from a single individual with charisma and the ability to give voice and a compelling story to a perceived wrong shared by others;
3) Paranoia provides glue. Such groups view themselves as targets of various conspiracies. The government and its law enforcement arms are viewed as The Enemy;
4) Weapons and paramilitary training are not uncommon, even among groups claiming to be extensions or offshoots of traditional and conventional religions. If there’s a conspiracy to get you, you need to be able to defend yourself. Self-defense is a common line of rhetoric espoused simultaneously with a group’s  push to develop offensive capabilities. This is not surprising. Over  Fifty years of Cold War our Federal government behaved similarly;
5) The movements often are presented as quasi-religious with the inherent right to worship freely; more often, such groups take on the force of religion for their adherents and those who try to opt out are demonized, and worse;
6) The groups all espouse self-determination; that is, the right to do and think and believe what they want without external interference. Ironically, such groups seem to demand near-absolute obedience to the cause by all members;
7) The membership is drawn from the disaffected. But the disaffected can take in fairly large segments of our population, and this distinction is sometimes not apparent. There has been in the history of American hate groups quite a number of highly educated founders and leaders. To write off such groups as ignorant clods or uneducated fools is to invite disaster.   Smarts and education are different things. It often doesn’t take a genius to coalesce support; Hitler is a classic example of a sociopathic maniac who found an audience and used it to ruthlessly move to take power;
8) The founders of such groups tend to lead by the authoritarian model of top-down, often imposing a military style chain of command on their organizations. Such groups, as they grow, tend to disintegrate because the original leaders lack vision or persuasion power to take the group to the next level. Or the founder-leader refuses to share the vision or his power with fellow believers. This, on the surface, might seem to indicate that the ability of such groups to survive is small, but the reality is that while one group  may fail, adherents will move to like-minded groups, or found their own. In a society filled with increasing numbers of alienated and disaffected individuals, the recruiting field in quite fertile. Remember, a cancerous tumor is a collection of cells, not a single cell. The overall hate movement grows larger, not smaller.  Not single group dominates, but this is not to say that one day movements may coalesce and join forces and visions;
9) Because of some law enforcement excesses spawned during the Vietnam War, the Justice Department  has implemented controls that minimize the ability of law enforcement to identify, surveil and infiltrate such groups. Because the burden of common crime is in some places  so heavy, and police resources limited, hate groups often take a lower priority until an outrage changes the priority. Violent behavior is not exclusive to one part of our political range. It can come from the left or the right, and has;
10) Hate groups exist everywhere, in apparent small numbers if only active participants are counted,   but when cadres of philosophical and ideological sympathizers are considered, the  overall size of this fragmented movement is much, much larger than it might initially appear. The aggregate of sympathizers  is not at all insubstantial and the role of sympathizers in the  proliferation of underground and extremist organizations. In every conflict there are more sympathizers than participants and combatants; in our own American Revolution there is evidence that there were fewer rebels and sympathizers for rebellion,  than Americans loyal to Great Britain. This changed over time, but it began with the rebellion seated in a small portion of people. The power of small, committed groups to violently affect political and social change against unfavorable odds  must never be underestimated;
11) These groups invariably strike the chord of Constitutional rights and protection under the law at the same time they seek to deny others their Constitutionally guaranteed rights and protection; and,
12) Organizations disappear entirely, or go dormant and later re-emerge when conditions are deemed more favorable. As long as conditions which spawn such movements persist, such groups will be among us.
The dreadful crime in Oklahoma City should terrify and sadden us, but it should not have come as a surprise. The only real surprise is more tragedies of this kind have not happened before this.
The truth is that the government, for all its size and impressive might, is limited in its ability to keep us completely protected from all psychopathic elements of our society and others around the world. Even if President Clinton gets the legislative initiatives he wants to allow police agencies to increase their efforts, episodes like that in Oklahoma City  will no doubt be reduced, but they cannot be eliminated.
In Russia (aka the old USSR) citizens now lament the loss of domestic peace and stability under the Communists when there was virtually no crime. (Disinformation as much as reality).The Russians also had no freedoms. With true freedom comes the competition of ideas and beliefs and  frequent verbal sniping , criticism and complaints.  Sometimes such dissatisfaction turns to violent behavior.
President Clinton is right in calling for us to speak up in the face of hate rhetoric. But if  the wake of Oklahoma City creates a politically intimidating environment that will not allow all opinions, no matter how loathsome, to come forward into the light, we will all be the poorer for this. We already have seen in this country a powerful force coercing us toward what is called political correctness.  What is deemed “correct” is dictated and controlled by those in power. This is the major take-home of history.
Opposing groups attempt to control the story of what is and what has been, but suppress any and all opposing stories  or contentions.
Hate is like anaerobic bacteria  living lives in the ark and proliferating in the absence of oxygen. In our democracy, where we have always tended to put our faith in free speech, the way to defeat such pathogens is to expose them to light and oxygen, where they can be examined and rejected by the powerful collective good sense of the American people.
It won’t be easy. The battle will not ever be over, at least in our lifetimes.

Winter, the Creative Months

We’ve passed the Ides of January, which this year also fell on Friday, ergo a concern for all those afflicted with paraskevidekatriaphobia (from ????????? Paraskevi, Greek for Friday) or friggatriskaidekaphobia (after Frigg, the Norse goddess after whom Friday is named in English).

This is in some ways and in some years my favorite time, largely because we are currently without snow on the ground (no doubt a temporary condition) but every day of snow escaped is escaped and put behind us, a good place for it to be.

My Januaries, Februaries, and Marches, tend to be loaded with work of choice with little socializing or other time-wasting events. This is the time of year to see the lay of the land (literally) and likewise to have a good long look at the lay of one’s own internal turf.

Best of all, the hard-winter months are a fine time for serious reading and thinking. I read every day all year long, some days all day long, and I relish the time with the ideas, notions, and words of others. Much of what I read, I come to via serendipity, which is a nice path for discovery. As a regular reader of the London Review of Books I became been familiar with Alan Bennett, who’s seasonal diary features used to show up around the holidays or new year.  And some years ago I saw a picture called “The Madness of King George,” which I found entertaining and interesting. Turns out Mr. Bennett was screenwriter of that movie.  Then I found Writing Home (1994) and Untold Stories (2005) and dug in.   A.B is what I would call a clear writer, with an eye for detail and humor, a man who spends an inordinate amount of time plumbing his own psyche and history. Some of the two works cited above contain myriad material which is full of potential ideas for other scribblers.

For example, in a small funk after turning down an honorary degree at Oxford, Bennett wonders if he has “slightly made a fool of myself.” And he wonders “whether after more momentous refusals martyrs ever went to their deaths not in the strong confidence of virtue, but just feeling that they had somehow muffed it.”

This seems to me  a marvelous premise for a short story, a form that  A.B. does not seem  to be much interested in except as practiced by Kafka. But it’s  potentially a great idea for me and has gone into my short story idea book with a simple line or two about the basic plot. I never develop a short story beyond one or two sentences until I sit down to actually write the first draft and then I find out if there is adequate substance to make something happen. Obviously the short descriptions must bubble somewhere in my subconscious because almost always when I sit to write they come  flapping right up like eager  pats begging to be bagged with the trusty old Brazilian single-shot .20 gauge.  

Most short stories take me one to three days to write, not including typing. I write every draft longhand, shortstory or novel, no diff.   I approach each  short story with no notion of length and “let (as my editor and late pal  Joe Fox once advised) the story  have what it needs, and worry about editing later.”  I enjoy writing short fiction, and reading some  of it but there is so much out there now that is strange and indecipherable(okay, there undoubtedly is an age or generation gap)   that it’s difficult to find original voices.

In one of his entries,  A.B. opines it may be a good thing God has no name, otherwise in this increasingly informalizing fragmenting de-globalizing world (let’s call it feckless antidignifarianism, my term)  he might very well be tagged Dave. This made me smile and brought forth the voice of Hal the Computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey, with Hal calling in his (it’s) dulcet tones to Dave the astronaut. No doubt someone has massaged this idea before but that should never be a barrier to one’s own efforts because every writer, like every human is unique and finally all that matters is whether one can make the idea work, or not. The only test is on paper and all chat-talk and mind-wandering is meaningless. And yes, yes this too has gone into the idea book. (Remember, there are only two plots: someone goes on a trip; a stranger comes to town.)

Writing is about doing the work, not  yakking and theorizing about doing the work.

Recently being on my butt with pneumonia I found it impossible to get any real work done and instead contented myself with inventories and end-of-year, start-of-year chores and tasks. One of these involved updating my inventory of short stories where I found I had 52 stories written, either by hand or partially typed, and another 35 with the two-line plots sitting there calling my name.

As my lungs cleared, I dove into the short stories, attempting to get them all typed and clean (“fair copy” to Shakespeare and his lot) so I can revise the dickens out of them (if needed; sometimes there’s no revising needed at all).

AB writes somewhere, “Its like cutting a play, the zeal and pleasure of finding a cut far exceeding the joy of writing the stuff in the first place.” All writers will “get this,” even me, though in the revising world of putter-inners and taker-outers, I far more of a putter-inner than the other. Still, I can cold-bloodedly kill 100-200 pages of  text writeen over months, without a second thought.

There are several clusters of stories, some  may comprise a start on a third collection of Woods Cop Stories.  The first two  published collections were called, Hard Ground (2013)  and Harder Ground (2015), each of these containing 27-29 original stories. Right now I have 20 new  stories done, but for a variety of reasons,  I’m not ready to put them into a collection quite yet.

There also seems to be a cluster of stories about Yoopers and their lives, a strange collection of tales in a place where white dirt buries most life for 7-8 months a year. This is where most of my concentration is at the moment, and where I expect it will remain, no title in mind yet, though I favor the title of one of the stories in the collection for the entire collection, “Hearts of Wolves.”

 

And there are other stories, difficult to categorize, like one I call “Bringing Home Sheep,” about a Vietnam veteran and an Australian WW2 vet who go to Camp Pendleton looking for company employees who escaped the fall of Vietnam and have been brought here so they can restart their lives.

Other outside a category stories include: “Standardized Testing,” about a man who worked for H.Ross Perot for 20 years, been a valued, well paid employee. On Friday he gets the highest performance rating in his department. Come, Monday the company gets rid of the whole department and he is forced to find other work, in this case with a  Texas company that scores standardized student tests used to qualify students for  university, scholarships, etc.

There is also a story called “An Old Gray Packard,” about a black man who serves as a hangman for the Klan, just as his father did.

And the story “Last Man Out,”  of a tailgunnerm whose B-24 Liberator  has an engine fire near the Porcupine Mountains and the ten-man crew is forced to bail out where the snowfall is  more than 300 inches. It is late April, a  long month from real spring even starting but bears are already out of their dens this year. He lands in a tree and therein begins the tale.

And there is “St. Certain’s F.C.,” the story of Yooper gravediggers.

 “The Pool Hall Ain’t Open Weekends,” isset in Mississippi in the 50s or 60s.

Finally there is a short story taken from a chapter of the unpublished novel Brown Ball. It is called  “El Cabra,” which means the goat. The story begins with the line, “He is called the Goat for how he smells.”

Where does all this come from? Reading others and seeing possibilities where others might not have seen them.

Most short story writers, especially early in their careers are not lucky enough to have their material in collections of their own. Some do end up in anthologies, which is good, but most get published one little magazine at a time until they build up a sufficient following that a publisher usually a university publisher decides to commit to a collection.  Short stories and essays are notorious poor sellers in commercial markets. The collection then, is a holy grail, and like all holy grails, damn hard to get to. There seems to be one other route to a collection, this for someone who had just died or is about to and who has been a long-time slogger, much admired, or even a lion, in which case publishers seem to be drawn to collections by writers in these categories.

The most difficult thing to explain to non-writers is the importance of time to writing. It has to be in chunks, four to 8 hours or more at a dime, multiple days on end, the sort of immersion in which you become the work and the work becomes you and you hardly notice when you have eaten, or what, or care.  These periods it is critical to have a supportive spouse who understands this whole immersion thing (which some non-artists) mistake for drowning or wandering.

I’ve just regretfully turned down an invite to speak at Beaulah where I have a large contingent of fans, but most of these speaking gigs come up in summer when we are Baraga County and 8-10 hour drives back below the bridge. I am still not convinced of the value of writers yakking at readers, though these affairs are always nice with multitudes of fine folks. Last year I turned down a dozen offers during the summer season. I never do the same presentation twice, which means it takes me 4-5 days to prep a new one, then two days of travel, including an overnight, which now puts each commitment at a week, roughly and f or a dozen of them, we are talking about 12 weeks out of an already too damn- short-summer during which I chase brook trout and do site-scouting for new stories. Add to this most libraries don’t have budge to pay fees and the whole thing, while nice for egos, is practically a waste of time for the writer. Few authors have publishers who underwrite such activities and thus the fees are important for writers who actually make a living off their wits and writing. I always laugh when I get a note saying, “We are a small library with a small budget.” I always reply “And I am a small writer with an even smaller budget.” In summer I’m more likely to visit places in the UP or northern Wisconsin, but I am wont to drive below the bridge until I have to in November.

But this is January, the reading and writing are good, and I tend to put all else out of my mind. I did manage to get in a splurge of drawing painting over the month of December, the 24th canvas now perched and roughed in on my easel.  I hope to get to that this week.

For the record, I’m awake every morning at 4 and working until 1en or noon, then a short nap and up for lunch, a couple of hours of reading, and  back to writing or painting into late afternoon or early evening. Evenings I read until 11 or so, then to bed. I have lived most of my life on 5 hours or so of sleep with the occasional sleep-in. Not every author works this way, nor should they, but every one of them is beset by eaters of time. One of my author friends has taken a job teaching in  in another state this winter so they can find time to write uninterrupted every day. If here, they would be deluged by the professional writing community, neighbors,  friends and family, who have no understanding of the demands on the author’s time. I always advise young writers or those just starting out to be selfish with your time. If not, someone else will use it and nothing will get done.

Enough blather. Time to go find breakfast and a Sunday New York Times. Have a fine week. Over

Loogieless and Stumbling Into the New Year

We’ve acquired a virus here, both of us, and one of  us has morphed into pneumonia.
The cacophony here is  an endless hack-fest of partridges flumping their wings for romantic attraction, a sound that never ends. I feel like I’ve been in a nine-day torso slug fest, like Sylvester Stallone in his meat locker, talking sore, and as this thing dragged on  as I learned earlier this year, when I’m sick, I get  zilchwork done  as I tend to sit or lay like a slug in one place, hacking and taking up space, my gyroscope collapsed like an exoskeleton on my supine bod. Lonnie seems to power through with verve, no surprise, women  bring stronger. My brain seems to be lost in a state of inequilibrium where thoughts pass through but the grabber device  won’t catch hold. Thinking so slow I can almost watch my brain work, but if I give into this, it puts me to sleep, which under normal circumstances is not particularly fast. It reminds me how after my stoke in 1998 I had to revise THE SNOWFLY manuscript post hospitalization, and my brain then raced and skipped around like a three-legged puppy on his first outside run, and I had to be watched back then  so I didn’t topple out of my computer chair. (I never fell, but there were close calls.)
This thing is well,  “ virusy,” a nonspecific form of a general malaise,  a bit like the gall bladder  extraction of this past fall, when I lay in bed like a great silent schlub and spent my  time with absolutely no personal or professional  agenda.
This time I’ve at least been able to contemplate certain important questions, such as how it is that I never developed the adolescence male skill for building up and expelling loogies? You’d think our evolving human genome would have made sure we all had this ability, but this seems wishful thinking  on my part.
I found myself sort of staring stupid-headedly at the TV. Has it hit any of you how much Paul Ryan is a Charlie Chickenhawk lookalike? I had the opportunity to hear Nancy Pelosi’s laugh, which sounded like concertina wire being scraped without enthusiasm down a stretch of chalkboard. Egad! No wonder all of my conservative pals cannot stand the sight of  her( With sight, comes chance of hearing. Not that fluffy laugh!)  I also heard Speaker Ryan flub his words with “I’ll be rearry blief.” He even  flashed a grinned (or did I imagine this?) seemingly to acknowledge the stumble ( “although it  occurred to me later that he might have had a bet with one of his Wisconsin pals, (“hey, Lumppo,  watch me pull this off). It was an odd moment.
Had to visit my physician, an old Navy Doc from up International Falls Minnesota way. He wrote me a couple of scrips for something his nurse called  an antibiotic T-Bomb or Z-Bomb and some codeine-laced cough syrup
ur house has turned into a gathering place for sick seals  and Walri learning to bark, a sort of hack-hackland. Sometimes Shaksper gives up, and slinks away to find a cone of silence. 
Congress is back in session. Heard one of the august representatives proclaim this morning they’d been sworn in on Tuesday,  “so we’ve only been back three days.”  Okay, the  cipeherin here done throwed me a tad? Tuesday until today is 7 days. Decrease the weekend that makes 5 days. Yet he said three days. How can we possibly communicate with such people?
Couple of new NPR show revamps this year. Diane Rehm, possibly one of the best  interviewers ever, and on the air for something like 37 years has retired her on air show, and has been replaced by one  Joshua Johnston, whose new program is called A-1, which refers to the First Amendment. Meanwhile the mystical Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion had been on the air since 1974  has retired and turned over the helm of the ship  mandolinist, Macarthur Grant winner Chris Thiele.  We couldn’t get Diane Rehm in da yoop, so no loss here.  Mr. Johnson is of the wide-eyed, pert, and  instant jacked-up age of  hair-standing enthusiasm but not in the least bit compelling then the juice is gone. We used to use Garrison and the PHC for a weekly event  even up there, old fashioned radio in an old fashioned place. That dog won’t hunt this year.
Congress is in session. Let the Bitepartisanship commence.
Over.

2016 ANIMAL COUNT (Includes MI and Fla)

2016 was not a great year for wildlife watching, but here are the results:

Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (86,071)

Razzie (5,942)

Pine Siskin (3,328)

Rosebreasted  Grosbeak (1,850)

Eastern Grosbeak (1,732)

Sandhill Crane (1,363)

Blue Jay (1,259)

Cliff Swallows (1,125)

Downy Woodpecker (1,035)

Nuthatch (915)

Red-breasted Nuthatch (799)

Hairy Woodpecker (777)

Redbelly Woodpecker (762)

Northern Flicker (521)

Pine Warbler (267)
Chickadee (241)

Deer (228)

Chipping Sparrow (203)

Carolina Wren (156)

Dead Deer (147)

Turkey (147)

Bald Eagle (128)

Brown Pelican (112)

Osprey (78)

Snow Bunting (Snowbird) (64)

Redtail Hawk (67)

Great Egret (61)

Mourning Dove (59)

Snowy Egret (47)

White Ibis (35)

Fox (1/47)

Ovenbird (44)

Pileated Woodpecker (42)

Yellowbelly Sapsucker (40)

Black Skimmer (40)

Spotted Plover (40)

Loon (28)

Oriole (27)

Yellow-Rump Warbler (27)

Skunk (26)

Porcupine (24)

Kingfisher (23)

Great Blue Heron (25)

Black-Throated Green Warbler (20)

Willet (20)

American Restart (19)

Nighthawk (19)

Pats (18)

Cedar Waxwing (16)

Rabbit (15)

Coopers Hawk (14)

Turtles (14)

Cowbird (19)

 Blooey (18)

Greater Yellowlegs (14)

Chipping Sparrow (13)

Wood Stork (13)

Palm Warbler (12)

Rosette Spoonbill (11)

Sora (11)

House Sparrow (10)

Barred Owl (10)

Rock Pigeon (10)

White Pelican (9)

Snake (9)

Black Cormorants (9)

Snowy Plover (8)

Red-Neck Grebe (8)

Tree Swallow (8)

Dolphins (8)

Merlin (7)

Black Vulture (7)

Brown Thrasher (6)

Woodchuck (5)

Lizards (5)

Miscellaneous Hawk (5)

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