Posted by: johnhourihan | May 18, 2015

Screw Tom Brady and the Patriots

If you are among those who believe the Patriots and Tom Brady are “getting what they deserve,” think about this for a second.
The NFL has been home to racist owners, players who are convicted druggies, alcoholics who continue to drive drunk get in accidents and get arrested, players convicted of assault and battery, players carrying illegal weapons, owners who pay bounties payable for injury to opposing players, and shooting incidents, and gambling incidents, players abusing their spouses, and there are even those who have been accused of murder and only getting off when the witnesses disappear.
And the heaviest penalty ever given out by the league has been for underinflated footballs, and then without even proving anything.
Seems as if there might be something wrong about that.

Posted by: johnhourihan | May 15, 2015

Poverty, Pride and BaltimoreB

The problem with poverty, as it is with racism, is pride.
No matter who we are, on some level as we get older, we become increasingly proud of it. By the time we are adults we are proud of who we are, and that is why it is so difficult to change the mind of a racist. He is proud of his racism and doesn’t want to give it up. It is why some police treat Americans of color so poorly. They are proud of their racism and shouldn’t be police. They can’t be changed. They can’t be educated. They are too proud, and we should get them off our police forces.
It is also why adults living in poverty do no better when they are taken from the inner cities and put in a better neighborhood. By that time they are too proud of their poverty to change. I don’t mean poor people want to stay poor. I mean they want to be out of poverty but without changing who they are.
I think of the working man who brings his family to a restaurant and proceeds to be loud, messy, demanding and then as he walks out very obviously picks his teeth with his thumbnail while staring defiantly at anyone who notices. It isn’t how he acts at home, but he is proud that he is not part of the social strata who frequents restaurants and he is determined to show that pride to the point of violence.
When you have a choice of admitting you are an underling or being proud of who you are which would you choose?
I remember the mantra of my own poor family, “I’m poor, but I’m proud.”
I don’t see this as a good thing. In order to walk like everyone else you first have to throw away the crutches that hold you back.
In the 1990’s there was an anti-poverty experiment called Moving to Opportunity. It helped people move from inner city poverty into homes in the suburbs. It was found that the people did no better financially in the new situations.
As sad as that was, new studies show now that there is hope for finding our way out of poverty. The new studies show that children who are moved from poverty situations early on in life, nine or 10 years old, have a much better chance of moving up the social ladder. Teenage siblings however, as well as adults in the family don’t fare as well as the younger children.
The study doesn’t say.
Let me say it for them.
Children at nine or 10 years old have not yet been taught to be proud of their poverty, proud of their underling status. They are more susceptible to change, meaning the pride of being poor and an underling has not taken hold yet, and they are not resistant to moving up in status. They do not adhere to the “us versus them” mantra of their older siblings and parents.
Baltimore as a city , after its riots, said, “We a re a great city. The people are wonderful people. We will police ourselves. We have come together.”
I say, “No you are not a great city. Your teenage children were in the streets throwing rocks at cops and burning people’s cars , property and buildings. You are poor and angry people who complain when the police are too forceful and complain when the police are not forceful enough. And you are proud of who you are.
“ You have not come together, there is not a more divided place on earth right now.
“ What you are is proud. You say you want justice, but what you really want is for a conviction of some cops, any cops – pay back for how you have been treated for years by some cops. You want people to be convicted without a trial or you say you will burn the city.”
How proud.
What Baltimore is missing is what the studies show are conducive to allowing young poor children to get out of poverty and live a less hassled and more productive life. There are a number of things that the studies say are needed: two-parent families, religious or community influence, multi-levels of people in your neighborhoods – rich , middle class and poor people, better education, and less pride in being poor, angry and unproductive.
Baltimore, and other inner cities, need to demand that those fathers who have been taken from the city for minor drug offenses be rehabbed and be brought back to help their children grow up. These cities need to partner with the police to make the neighborhoods safe from gangs and other criminals so those who can afford to buy houses will buy them in the cities. Religion needs to become more of a force than gangs. And parents need to teach their children it isn’t a good thing to be proud of being an angry underling.

Posted by: johnhourihan | April 18, 2015

Treatment of our pets shows true love

I saw a bumper sticker today that made me think. It said “I love my Irish Setter.”
It reminded me of all the millions of people in this country who love their pets for no apparent reason, just because they decided to love their dogs, cats , hamsters, rabbits, Vietnamese pigs, all of our beloved pets.
There is no real reason for us to do this. Dogs and cats don’t bring in money, they don’t usually work at all. Mostly they sit around and wait to be fed or walked, but we love them anyway. It seems to be just a wonderful human trait to love our pets.
We feed them, kill their fleas and ticks, protect them from adversaries, buy them expensive medicine, and, when needed ,we even take them to the vet for wallet-busting medical procedures.
I was thinking how wonderful human beings are to care for our animals with the love usually saved for members of our families. And when we find them homeless we take them in and search for a good home for them.
Seldom do we hear, “They are just lazy stupid animals. Why should I feed them and make sure they are healthy?”
Seldom do we hear, “It isn’t my fault they have no place to live and have to run around the streets at night eating out of garbage cans.”
Seldom do we hear “I’ll let him eat basic cheap food but not the good stuff. The good stuff should be saved for working animals.”
Seldom do we hear, “We ought to drug test them all before we feed them.”
No. We save that stuff for fellow human beings.
I wondered why it is that we can’t seem to treat our fellow humans with the same love and respect that we show to our animals.
It occurred to me that if anyone who owns a pet compared the amount of money spend on food, health care and shelter for a pets in a year with how much of our taxes go to provide the same service for human beings, it would become obvious which we treat better. (Spoiler alert: The animals make out much, much, much better)
Why is it I never see a bumper sticker that says “I love my brothers and sisters?” and display it with as much pride as we display the ones about loving our Irish setters, German shepherds, cocker spaniels and pit bulls.
I have a question. If you have a pet for whom you provide food, shelter and health care, how inhumane is it that you complain about a miniscule amount of your taxes going to do the same for a human being?

Posted by: johnhourihan | April 10, 2015

teenage immigrant welfare mothers on drugs

While you are complaining about the president’s newest executive order concerning immigrants, at least you should know what you are talking about.
Around five million immigrants who have been in this country for more than five years and who can prove they’re not criminals and who pay their back taxes will be allowed to not be deported.
The millions who will be allowed to stay in the United States will not receive many of the benefits that Americans receive- like unemployment, food stamps, or health care under the Affordable Care Act. They can’t even eventually become citizens.
If you have a problem with this tell the Republicans in the House of Representatives to pass the bill that has already passed the Senate and is waiting on their desk for more two and a half years.

Posted by: johnhourihan | March 27, 2015

Voting against our own best interests

I’m confused.
I have looked up a lot of things that have been said by Republican politicians and I am asking why anyone would vote for these people. It is astounding.
Republican politicians and candidates have said there is no reason to stop a criminally insane person from getting an automatic weapon, children on food stamps shouldn’t be allowed to get cookies, snow in the northeast means there is no global warming, there is no such thing as evolution, oil pipelines filled with the dirtiest oil on the planet could not possibly hurt the environment, Fighting the unions is good practice to take on ISIS, vaccinations are a bad thing, minimum wage jobs are mostly for teenagers (only 24 percent of those jobs are filled by teens) we can support our troops by cutting VA benefits, Medicare recipients are just not being responsible for their own health care, women should not get equal pay for equal work, minimum wage should be eliminated because it would create jobs, some rape is legitimate some is not, people who help uninsured people get Obamacare should be put in jail, corporations who receive government money should be allowed to renounce their citizenship so as to not pay taxes, since we haven’t been attacked domestically since 9/11 we should do away with the department that has been keeping us from getting attacked, just because we have ended two wars doesn’t mean we should cut how much money we spend on war, we can make our environment better by doing away wiht the only organized group trying to make it better, siding with foreign leaders against our own president is a good thing, the best way to help the middle class the poor and the elderly is to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Veterans benefits and any money that goes to education, nutrition and any other benefit going to the middle class the poor or the elderly.
Now that is what the Republican party is saying, so I guess that I am confused because some poor and middle class people still vote for them, and that is just a special kind of stupid.

Posted by: johnhourihan | January 27, 2015

The poor today have it easy

I would like to try to explain something to all those friends who say they are tired of the poor people of this country getting fat off government programs without having to work for it, that the poor have easy lives. Somehow those who are poor in this country are seen as the scum of the earth. That is probably because in this country we measure a man’s worth by how much money he has.
Having been poor back in the 1950s, that mythical time when fruit still had seeds and there was hardly any divorce or welfare, it is disheartening that more than three quarters of conservatives in this country say the poor, “have it easy” according to a new poll.
The poll was done by the renowned and pretty much unbiased Pew Research Center. (The poll is about a year old.)
A great column covers this issue well. It was written for The Washington Post by Christopher Ingraham who is “a data journalist focusing primarily on issues of politics, policy and economics. He previously worked at the Brookings  Institution and the Pew Research Center,” according to the Post column.
Toward the end of the piece, Ingraham cites what he calls a “wildly incomplete” list of ways life is “easy” for poor people.
Here is his list:
• Compared to middle and upper-income Americans, the poor are three times less likely to have health insurance coverage, and more likely to put off or skip necessary medical treatment as a result (This fact has changed a bit with the beginnings of Obamacare);
• They are three times more likely to be victimized by crime;
• The daily stresses of living under poverty impose a cognitive burden equivalent to losing 13 IQ points;
• Poor children are three times more likely to be affected by food scarcity and obesity;
• Poor children receive a lower quality education in public school, and the ones who make it to college are more likely to drop out;
• Poorer Americans breathe dirtier air, they sleep less, and the even have less sex;
• And in the end all this “easy living” literally shaves decades off their lives.
“The notion that poor people have it easy is at odds with the data,” says Ingraham.
I would like to add that, while these poor children are trying to compete, many people have far lower expectations of them ever succeeding at anything, so teachers, parents, police, employers and nearly every other official person in their lives expect them to fail in all their attempts to climb out of poverty, and guide them into continued poverty while, at the same time, these same officials let them know it is believed that they are a drain on society who have it easy.
Please stop telling me how easy it is to be poor. I’ve been poor, and if you believe it is easy you are fooling yourself. So, to my friends who say the poor have it easy, please stop saying that. It makes you sound stupid.

Posted by: johnhourihan | January 23, 2015

Drug-testing welfare recipients

If you want to drug-test welfare recipients, and you feel we should live by our constitution please read the following.

You can’t do both.

Constitutional challenges to suspicionless governmental drug testing most often focus on issues of personal privacy and Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches.”
For searches to be reasonable, they generally must be based on individualized suspicion unless the government can show a “special need” warranting a deviation from the norm.
However, governmental benefit programs like TANF, SNAP, unemployment compensation, and housing assistance do not naturally evoke special needs grounded in public safety that the Supreme Court has recognized in the past. Thus, if lawmakers wish to pursue the objective of reducing the likelihood of taxpayer funds going to individuals who abuse drugs through drug testing, legislation that only requires individuals to submit to a drug test based on an individualized suspicion of drug use is less likely to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, governmental drug testing procedures that restrict the sharing of test results and limit the negative consequences of failed tests to the assistance program in question would be on firmer constitutional ground.


Posted by: johnhourihan | January 14, 2015

Which Bible?

OK, I’m tired of the righteous wrath that keeps surfacing in the mouths of Republican politicians and their blind followers. They have used “The Bible” to try to discredit, gay and lesbian marriages, global warming, illegal immigrants, people on welfare, women’s rights and anything the Democratic president proposes about anything.
They all say the same thing. “I believe in what it says in The Bible.” Then they smile smugly because they know a certain number of millions of Christians will agree with them if “it is in the Bible.”
Which Bible?
While there are hundreds of versions of the Bible, there are eight primary versions found in history:
Septuagint – 250 C.E. Written in Greek
Vulgate- 400 C.E. First version of the Bible which is canonized at the Council of Carthage in 400 C.E. Written in Latin
Luther’s German Bible- 1534 C.E.
King James Version- 1611 C.E. This is the most widely used versions however it has large number of errors given that none of the writers had a decent understanding of Hebrew.
Revised Standard Version- 1952 C.E. Liberal translation into American English which used the earliest possible text
Jerusalem Bible- 1966 C.E. This is the first version of the Bible to be commissioned by the Catholic Church since the .400’s.
New Revised Standard Version- 1990 C.E. This is the most academic and scholarly
version with the most accurately possible translations of the original text
There are literally hundreds of translations of each.

Why is it that all you need to say is “Jesus is my savior,” and everything is OK even if you have no idea what Jesus said you should do to be a righteous person.
How do you say, “I am a Christian,” and follow it up with “The economy is the most important thing in our country?”
You say “I believe in Jesus,” and you add, “Why should I bust my ass and then have people take part of it to feed their kids? Tell them to get jobs.”
“I believe in Jesus,” and “We have to kill those Muslims.”
“I believe in Jesus,” and “We should be allowed to legislate who will love whom.”
How do you say I believe what is in the Bible when there are eight versions of the Bible found in history. Each one saying different things. Then each of these eight are translated into English….several times by different people with different philosophies and different axes to grind.
Many of the books included in each of the versions were first written in Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek, then translated several times.
The Jerome Bible that most people are quoting from currently was translated from one of the original languages into Latin then translated into French then to English. The words were changed, the nuances were changed in each translation.
Each version of the Bible went through this multiple translation process leaving hundreds of versions in English, all saying something different, all having lost something in the multiple translations.
You can say it was all done with divine inspiration, and I say then why are they all different?
Then politicians misquote what is in one of the translations, or just lie about what is in the Bible, and, like sheep, people who call themselves followers of “The Bible” believe the nonsense spouted by men who we know are using it mainly to get votes.
I believe in God. I believe Jesus was his son, I believe what Jesus told us to do is the right thing to do. I am tired of this “Christian right” nonsense. If you want to call yourself Christian follow the lead of your religious leader, Jesus
But if you think you can do that by following the platform the Republican Party itself espouses, that says cut assistance for the poor, cut health care for the poor, turn your back on hungry children, continue to destroy our planet with chemical food and fossil fuels, foster a world in which the rich get preference, build up our capability to kill people who don’t think like we do, I believe you are in for a surprise in the end. The bibles say a lot of good things, but these aren’t any of them.
It is time for all Real Christians to stand up and say, “Enough.”

Posted by: johnhourihan | January 4, 2015

1984 is deeper and more true than you thought

There are little-known and seldom-quoted passages from George Orwell’s 1984 that we choose not to remember because they are too close to reality, and getting closer. They have become even closer and more frightening since the lies and half-truths that big money PACs dominate social media. They are even closer to current reality and more unsettling than:


The first passage tells of how, in the book, an ultimate outcome was achieved by the Party, or in our case could be achieved, and the second tells of what that outcome was, or in our case what is coming dangerously close to what the outcome could be.
The first part:
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.”
That was how the world in 1984 was manufactured, according to Orwell, with doublethink. That was what he expected to happen in his future. It may have taken longer, but we have just witnessed the infancy of “doublethink” in the obvious lies mouthed as truth every day on behalf of the GOP.

The blatant lies spewed over and over by people who know that what they are saying are lies, but who seem to believe in them wholeheartedly, have so far covered our political and social landscape like a soothing balm for those who know they are wrong.

All you have to do to feel better to is believe what you know is false.

It is frightening because of where this could lead, according to Orwell. And since we have over the years adopted much of what he said as an honest forewarning, I think we should read the second part of this. The part that explains how our lives could end up if we do that.

The second part: (Please understand that the mainstream public are “the proles.” You are the proles)
“… according to the principles of doublethink, the Party taught that the proles were natural inferiors who must be kept in subjection, like animals, by the application of a few simple rules. In reality very little was known about the proles. It was not necessary to know much. So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina. … They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through  a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them under control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations.”

There are hard times coming, says the Republican party, times that will need to administered to with “tough Love” (they will do the administrating and we will be administered to) and of course love of American might with anyone who defies our idea of how they should live.
God Bless America, they say
But I’m starting to hear whispers that sound more like:



Before, in 1963 when I first read this book, I identified with Winston, a party member who worked a tedious job changing history.
Now I am understanding that Orwell meant we were not that high up on the food chain, what he meant was we were to become the proles.
If we believe lies because it is easier than to understand the truth, we are well on our way.

Posted by: johnhourihan | December 20, 2014

The Three Wiseguys

Willy, Stretch and Dee-Joe Mammal were the unholiest trinity ever conceived.1950_Ford
For instance, we called Dave, Dee-Joe Mammal because we were pretty sure of his species, but little else was obvious, and he was the wisest of the three.
The past summer, they had planned to rob a bar in Woonsocket.
Skinny Willy cased it; Stretch drew diagrams of it because he had passed mechanical drawing; and the three of them drank there 14 nights in a row to see what the busiest night was and where the money was kept.
Then, on the day of the supposed payoff, they stepped from Willy’s body-rotted, ‘50 Ford and were nabbed on the curb for being “suspicious looking characters.”
The cop told them to “get out of town,” and they came back to the Tradesman Lounge, tails between their legs, to find out it’s not a good idea to tell everyone in the bar where you are going when you are going to rob a bar.
The young Portuguese couple who owned the Tradesman had tipped off the cops. They never figured it out.
So, ’twas the night before Christmas, and we sat at the quarries in the Ford, sharing a green plastic canteen of  Old Turkey ( a combination of remnant bottles of Old Grandad and Wild Turkey), and after a few lies about women, Stretch asked me to tell “That  Christmas story” again.
No, this is true, in their mid-twenties, they still had soft spots in their hearts for this time of year – matching of course some of the more obvious soft spots elsewhere the rest of the year.
I made the family in the story Marchigiano just to make the whole thing more understandable to them. And what the heck, it was from the same general area of the world, so no harm – no foul.
There was a family, I started.
The father was a shoe worker and the mother was blessed with seven children, I told them, as Willy fired up the car again to get some heat.
They looked out the windshield at the icy black water that filled the granite quarry in front of us.
Christmas was never over the top for any of us, a carton of cigarettes or some socks or something, but they liked this story I had told them first several years before.
One Christmas, I continued, the old man spent his paycheck on the way home and there was nothing left for presents except the food money.
“Sounds like my family,” the mammal said squinting down a swig.
“If you’re going to interrupt me, I‘m not going to tell it.”
“No, tell it,” Willy said, “Shut up, Dee-Joe.”
So the mother calls Ted’s Taxi, ‘cause she can charge a ride with Beanie, and piles all the kids inside for the ride downtown.
And into Woolworth’s five and dime they march.
In the window of the store is a dining room set for, I don’t know, about six hundred bucks.
“I remember that.”
“Shut up Dee-Joe.”
“But I remember it. It was like leather or something.”
“What’s that come from?”
It’s the hide from a Nauga. Anyways, the mother goes to the manager carrying the sign from the dining room set that says if you buy it you get a hundred bucks worth of toys free.
She tells him, “I would like to buy this.”
He says OK, and she turns to the kids. “Go pick out $14 worth of toys each,” she says and gives them assigned siblings to buy for.
“Brothers and sister,” Willy explains, having heard the story before.
So the siblings all come back with a carriage each of toys, and 14 bucks bought a lot of toys back then.
Then she turns to the manager and says, “here,” handing him the $10 grocery money. The evil manager glares at her.
“Booo,. Hisss.”
She says, “Put it on lay-away.”
Lay-away was a new concept at a time just before credit cards. You plunked down some modest amount and paid the rest over a period of time.
“No, lady, You have to buy it outright,” he says.
“That’s not on the sign,” she answers and stands her ground.
After a staring contest the evil manager says ”No,” and starts to walk away.
“Then you tell them to put the toys back,” says the mother, and begins to walk out the door as lips quiver and noses start automatically to run.
“You can’t do it lay-away,” he says, “but I’ll let you buy it, take it and give me $10 a week,” he says. “You have to pay it,” he says, weakening at the idea of being left with seven screaming kids in his store at Christmas-shopping time.
The mother gives him the $10, and the family has the best Christmas ever, including The Great Garloo robot and dolls that closed their eyes and everything..
“Then what happened?” Dee-Joe asks, knowing full-well what happened.
“Then, after a month, the guy comes in a truck to pick up the dining room set, and Christmas 1952 cost the mother ten bucks total.”
“So John,” says Stretch, passing Willy the canteen, “You really going in the Army?”
“Looks that way,” I answer.
“Do you have to take a test or something for that?”
“Not a hard one.”
“So you must have passed it, huh?”
“I guess so.”
“You must be smart, then.”
“No,” I said looking out the windshield, “just not suspicious.”
“Let’s go buy some presents for everyone,” Willy says, “Some fool company sent Dee-Joe a credit card.”
And that, children, was how the three wise guys, and the rest of America, learned to spend beyond their means and go deep into debt every year in December.

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