Jerry Jeff Walker passed away on October 23, 2020. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full moon. There is no way I can watch a full moon and not think of the moon in Luckenbach, Texas.
THE LUCKENBACH MOON
Nuthin’ much happened in Luckenbach this month,
‘Cept the potato chip man came by.
Then there was the moon.
We try to tell folks who come by here to look at our town
What a big, mean moon we have
But nobody’ll believe it.
And last night it showed off.
The greatest ever.
It just hung there, darin’ you to look at it,
Makin’ silhouettes into things and things came alive.
It even shined plumb to the bottom of the canyon,
Under bluffs and plopped dark doughnuts ’round the bottom of trees on top of the mountain.
A kind of moon that makes haunted houses uglier
And ugly girls prettier.
And little animals see farther and feel closer together.
Brave weeds even rose up to look ’round for lawn mowers.
Grandpa sat up in bed and said, “What’s that?”
And the hair on Grandma’s legs stood on end, he said.
On moonbrite nites like this, big eyed deer
Tiptoe into larger openings and they can dance better ’cause they can see where the rocks are at.
Their prancin’ gets fancier and freer because they know mans not there to darnpen the dance.
This kind of moonshine makes you crazy if you sleep in it, they say
But I think you’re crazy not to try it.
Momma even slept with the baby to protect it and I
Flounced in bed even in a thick rock house.
And when I went outside to see what was the matter
Somethin’ scared cold chills up my back.
Everything was standin’ at attention over new shadows.
Then what was that that moved?
Probably just a Nuthin’.
You know, a big full moon like ours is kinda like a person:
It needs help to show off, and last nite
All the clouds stayed home on purpose
to create a great solo.
We can’t stand an encore!
It takes too much out of you.
Those who saw the moon said they could smell it.
One said it tasted like sin.
The quietness at the parkside road was deafenin’
And the little single couple sittin’ there touched the backs of their hands together.
` `Scare Me ! ‘ ‘
We’ve been tellin’ strangers who come to Luckenbach
`Bout our Moon,
But I know they won’t believe that
We have such a big moon
For such a small town.
Digging through some of my older writings, I found a little poem I wrote on September 26, 2004. I had just come home from dinner out with my son who was 16 at the time. I am not sure I ever shared it with him or anyone else.
Now in 2020, another 16 years later, it rings as true as ever, and it gives me inspiration about what really matters in this year of the pandemic.
Better Than That
We were alone last night, my son,
You suggested the place to eat.
Italian food, a quiet booth,
Cool outside, after a long day’s heat.
We talked of school, of growing up.
Of travels to England or France.
Thought of taking Kung Fu or Taekwondo,
I dreamt you’d go to a dance.
And then it hit me right deep in the heart,
I was there with you and so glad,
Because I knew in all of my life,
It won’t ever get — any better than that.
Remember they days when we saw the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs in stores and restaurants ‘back in the day?’ Well, at least in the U.S. that was the case, particularly in areas near beaches and other recreational facilities. Of course, that reminds me of the shock I still remember more than 40 years later, when I was in a supermarket in Soulac-sur-Mer off Bordeaux in France, when a stark naked woman in flip flops with a shopping basket ambled toward me in the milk isle. I still wonder where she kept her wallet?
But back to the U.S. in 2020. Now we’re seeing conservatives complain that their “freedom is impeded” by the requirements of stores to wear masks. And the conservative media supports this.
It’s okay to require shoes in the store, but somehow it’s not okay to require a mask in the middle of a pandemic? I am not sure how I can pick up athlete’s foot if I am wearing shoes myself. But I know I can pick up a virus just from a droplet, a virus that kills 3 to 10 percent of those it infects.
And speaking about restricted freedom and individual rights: Remember when people supported the religious baker who refused to sell a cake to a gay couple? That was acceptable. Now, when a store requires masks, they say you can’t deny people service? Maybe we need to call health “religion” and we’re good?
And finally, we now have reports of establishments that do not allow masks and ask patrons to go elsewhere. WHAT? Darwin’s law will make sure those businesses don’t survive, I guess. Make a stand. Drive your customers away. Get yourself infected with a deadly virus while you’re at it. But don’t ask society to bail out your business or pay for your emergency room bills!
Just ten days ago, Jeff Wittenbrink, the 59-year-old lawyer for the Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was putting a legal case together to allow the church to defy the stay at home order. He went to church. Now he is dead.
I guess he won’t be putting together any more legal briefs.
One of my brothers in Germany lives in the small town of Regensburg. He apparently thinks that the stay at home orders there are denying him his rights for freedom. So he is joining a protest tomorrow on Regensburg’s Old Stone Bridge, standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow protestors. Here is the sign he posted on Facebook today, which he will hold tomorrow:
Sunday for freedom.
Back to normalcy!!!
Intelligence instead of abuse of power!
– Duty [unchecked]
– Order [unchecked]
– Recommendation [checked]
Churches in Louisiana, citizens in Germany, shopkeepers in Michigan, all accuse their governments of overreach.
I wonder what they think? Do they really believe the governments all over the world just like shutting down the local economies? Do they think they do it for power?
I do not understand that logic. I do know that Jeff Wittenbrink is dead.
I hope my brother doesn’t get too close to his buddy protestors. I’d like to see him around some more.
I am still alive, and I am going to keep it that way.
I don’t always agree with Steve Forbes, but I usually read his Fact & Comment column in Forbes Magazine. This time I could not agree more.
I tried to find an online link, but oddly, I could not. Forbes does a very poor job opening its online presence to search engines. Maybe that’s on purpose, to get us to buy the hardcopy magazine? So I scanned the pages and published them here in PDF form.
This article is about the U.S. election system and particularly the electoral college, which is often under attack these days. It is particularly designed by the founders of our nation to be a dampener on public opinion. The founders didn’t want any old crazy political fad or outrageous politician to take over the presidency. Without the electoral college, it would not be inconceivable that a porn star could win, or a movie star, or a reality TV real estate salesman.
I do not want to minimize Steve Forbes’ article by retelling it here in this post, but I really think you should read it before you make up your mind about the electoral college. There is a lot of wisdom in it, and it keeps us from having the problem of needed awkward political coalitions like they have in Germany and many other modern countries.
Not in my wildest dreams did I think, that as a Californian, I would ever donate money to a candidate in Kentucky for the U.S. Senate. I just did. I sent $25 to Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, who is running against Mitch McConnell.
I watched this movie again while channel surfing HBO last night. I had forgotten most of the details, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had also forgotten that I had actually reviewed it. When I re-read this review, I thought it was spot on. I would have written exactly the same thing again.
Here is a hilarious movie review by a fellow blogger. Enjoy!
My wife is profoundly snarky. So if you’re going to have a surreal experience, she’s the one to do it with. Last weekend we had one while watching the new movie First Man. Just as Neil Armstrong and crew were preparing to embark on their historical mission, the power failed. Moments later, we wandered into […]
Michael J. Fox negotiated the deal for “Family Ties” (1982) from a phone booth outside a now defunct Pioneer Chicken restaurant in Hollywood because he had no phone at home. He was told the network would need to call, and he said he was only home between the hours of four and five. He waited for the call, and fortunately he was there to answer it and secure the “Family Ties” (1982) role.
In the video above (at location 2:40) Tara Dowdell quotes Trump as stating the U.S. contributes 90% to NATO, and the actual number is only 22%. There are some misleading statistics at work here that need more analysis.
There are direct and indirect contributions to NATO. Direct contributions are made to finance requirements of the Alliance that serve the interests of all 29 members. They are not the responsibility of any single member. Costs are borne collectively, often using the principle of common funding.
The chart on the left shows direct contributions by NATO country. So here is Dowdell’s 22% figure. Germany, with 14%, carries the second largest burden.
But that does not represent the correct picture, and I believe that Trump didn’t refer to direct contributions. Trump often speaks inaccurately or imprecisely, to say the least, but I am sure that when he said that the United States contributes 90% of the cost of NATO, he meant the sum of the military spending goals of each country. So let’s analyze those separately.
I have been on record many times in this blog with posts about military spending of the United States. In this post of 2016 I show that the United States spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined. Trump’s increase of military spending this year of more than $70 billion alone is more than the entire military budget of Russia.
For NATO, the member countries agreed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. So the chart below is another matter entirely, and it shows the defense expenditures by NATO country as a share of the GDP in percent.
This chart is pulled from the NATO website where there is a wealth of information and many charts.
Here you can see that the United States is the only country that far exceeds the 2% mark. Only four countries are above this guideline. Besides the United States, those are Greece (surprisingly), the United Kingdom, and Estonia. Everyone else is below or way below 2%. Note that some countries, like Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada has significant increases since 2014. Trump tried to take credit for those increases recently, even though he had nothing to do with them. They were prompted by Obama pressure, and mostly by voluntary military buildup in the Baltic nations, which are close to Russia and feared Russian aggression after watching the Ukraine debacle.
Those are just percentages. When looking at the real numbers per country, the United States military spending in 2017 was $685 billion. The military spending of all other NATO countries combined was $271 billion. This means that the United States spent 71.7% of all military dollars of NATO. Not quite the 90% of Trump’s exaggeration, but a quite staggering amount.
Trump has said that “Germany owes the United States a trillion dollars for its defense.” This statement is obviously ludicrous. Nobody put a gun to the head of the United States and made it spend more on military than all other NATO countries combined. This has been going on for more than 70 years now. We all know about the $600 hammers and $10,000 toilet seats. I have been vocal in this blog about our defense budget and the price of a single F-35 fighter. Here is an interesting example about a $1200 coffee cup. The United States just loves its military and loves spending vast amounts of money on that military. Others simply can’t keep up, or don’t want to keep up.
NATO was created to form an alliance where all other members stand up for each other when one of them is attacked. After the end of World War II, that was critically important for the safety of Europe. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, I am sure it irked Russia that many of its satellites quickly switched sides and joined NATO, including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary. It didn’t look good for the Soviet ideology, and it does not look good for Russia today.
But in all those years the spirit of NATO was invoked only one time, and it was surprisingly in the defense of the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and what transpired after that.
The United States started what many consider an illegal war in Iraq, and many of the NATO allies came to support America. NATO members spent massive amounts of money and many of their soldiers died in Afghanistan and Iraq in alliance with the United States.
So who owes whom money?
The United States spends massive amounts of money on its military presence in Europe and Europe has started taking it for granted. I remember growing up as a boy in Germany in the 1960s. I lived in a city with a large American military presence. As post-war children, we never really understood why the Americans were there. To us, it had always been that way. Today, almost half of all Germans want the American army to leave. They don’t see the point anymore. I suspect the same is true in many other European countries.
Trump says that the current arrangement “is unfair to the American taxpayer.” Well, it may be unfair, but it’s not Germany sticking it to the American taxpayer, it’s the American Congress and the administration, and the past administrations, all spending way too much money on military – and thus taking value and prosperity away from the taxpayer. But then, of course, there is the military industrial complex, which feeds a large sector of our economy. Maybe war is good after all?
With our current commander-in-chief, I wonder if the United States would honor its NATO obligations if Russia were to suddenly invade the Baltic states, or Poland? Talk about a world crisis!
In the end, perhaps NATO has run its course. Trump may be on to something. Maybe it’s time to let it fizzle out.
Thinking of translations from German has reminded me of The Panther – so I repost it here. I find it phenomenally difficult to translate a poem to another language. It’s a unique art form that way – very culture bound, unlike literature, music and visual arts.