Monthly Archives: February, 2017

The First Amendment

“The first Amendment to the US Constitution, says that, ‘Congress shall make no law…abridging (limiting) the freedom of speech, or of the Press…’Freedom of speech is the liberty to speak openly without fear of government restraint,” according to Wikipedia.

Last Friday President Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer prohibited several news outlets from participating in the daily press briefing.  Included in this banned group were reporters for; The New York Times, CNN, Politico and BuzzFeed and most of the foreign press.  Earlier, Friday morning, the President had spoken to the Conservative Political Action Conference and said that, ‘Many of these groups are part of large media corporations that have their own agenda.  And it is not your agenda and it’s not the countries agenda, it’s their own agenda.’

The President said, ‘Fake News Media’ the ‘enemy of the people,’ and he listed NBC news along with ABC, CBS, The New York Times and CNN, according to VOX.

President Trump contended shortly after his Inauguration that he would have won the popular vote if it had not been for three to five million illegal votes.

The President states that his Inauguration crowd was much larger than former President Obama’s.

President Trump says that our court system threatens our national security.

The President publicly condemned Nordstrom’s Department for ceasing to carry his daughter, Ivanka’s, Fashion line.

The President signed an Executive Order, banning entry to the United States of all citizens from seven predominately muslim countries, that was temporarily blocked by a Seattle Judge.  Trump referred to the Judge as a ‘so called judge.’

President Trump,’ suggested that Fredrick Douglass is still alive in speech on Black History Month,’ according to New York Magazine.

The President says that we may once again have the opportunity to confiscate Iraq’s oil.

‘ High-level advisers close to then presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN.’

President Trump has said repeatedly that he supports torture of military captives.

‘ Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington D.C. in 1972 and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement.  When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis,’ according to Wikipedia.

If it had not been for the dogged determination of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s investigative reporting on Watergate it would never have been revealed.

I watched the televised Watergate Hearings that Senator Sam Ervin chaired.

I heard Senator Howard Baker ask the now historic question, ‘what did the president know and when did he know it?’

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was fired by the President for telling the Vice President that he did not discuss the Obama Sanctions against Russia with Russian Officials before Trump took office.

Policy Advisor to the President, Steve Bannon, says that the press is the opposition party.

The President says that the press is the enemy of the people.

I remember watching Dan Rather reporting under fire in Vietnam…as did many of his colleagues…to bring the American people the news.

I remember Walter Cronkite reporting that the Vietnam War was not going to be won by us and that we should seek peace with honor…he was telling us the truth.

Woodward and Bernstein told us the truth about Watergate in spite of the Saturday Night Massacre and the constant dirty tricks and enemies list compiled by the Nixon White House.

When a leader tells you that , ‘I am not a crook’…’Trust Me’…’Believe Me’…you need the Free Press!

statue of liberty, arm w torch



Please read and enjoy this insightful Blog.

‘This Land is Your Land’…as long as it does not get in the way of Money

My friend of over forty years, Jeff D., has educated me on the Dakota Access Pipeline.  When he first began talking with me about the problem…I did not know that there was a problem.

‘First, the pipeline would cross right under the Missouri River at Lake Oahu, half a mile north of the reservation.  A leak or spill could send oil directly into the tribe’s main source of drinking water.  The tribe points out that Dakota Access originally considered a route farther north, upstream of Bismarck, but the company rejected that route, in part because of the close proximity to the state capital’s drinking water wells.  Second, the tribe argues that the pipeline would run through a stretch north of the reservation that contains recently discovered sacred sites and burial places.  True, the land isn’t part of the current reservation.  But the Standing Rock Sioux argue that the land had been taken away from them unjustly over the past 150 years.  And any bulldozing and construction work could damage these sites,’ according to VOX.

Former President Obama halted the pipeline construction for further study and possible re-routing, at the close of his administration.

President Tump, in one of his first Executive Actions, restarted the pipe line.

When asked by a reporter, a few days later, he said that he had not heard one complaint regarding the Dakota Access Pipe Line.  I was told today, by a SIU student who was protesting DAPL that the phones  that people are to call at the White House, complaining about this violation, had been shut off.  Although the President’s exclamation of no complaints and everything is going smoothly strains credulity…as he is an admitted voracious consumer of television news.

img_0720img_0721It seems curious to me that with all of the ‘Make America Great Again’ talk, of our new President, and his vision of removing those who are illegally here…and with the new Travel Ban that will be released later this week…that will protect our pristine shores from all those who do not have the right to be in America…how do we not consider the rights of the ‘Original Americans?’  Our Native American brothers and sisters were here before President Trump’s family.

I would not want to have my drinking water in danger?  Would you?

I would not want my precious Mother and Father’s graves violated?  Would you?

My friend traveled to North Dakota and stood in Solidarity with our brothers and sisters.  My friend has significant Native American Heritage…so do I.

The camps of the protestors, who by and large were there to pray, are burned to the ground…


University Reborn

As you may have guessed by now…Southern Illinois University is a primary passion of mine.  It has been so for nearly forty years.  After having worked there for thirty-two years, two months, and three weeks…the University became part of my life.  Now I am in the seventh year of my retirement, and I only love the institution more than ever.

Over the past few days as I was walking the Campus, I noticed many of the Red Bud trees are already in bloom with their beautiful red/pink blossoms.

img_0669-5img_0662-2As I continued my walk I encountered an impassioned and articulate SIU student conducting a tour for a prospective SIU Family.  As I listened to her terrific rendition of the spectacular opportunities at SIU…it occurred to me that our University may be on the cusp of becoming greater than it has ever been!

Certainly SIU has had extreme challenges for the past several years due to primary budgetary issues caused by a diminishing of students and the state of Illinois failure to address their fiscal deficit.

Nothing focuses a person or an institution’s efforts…vision…and willingness to go the extra mile and accomplish what needs to be done more than a dark and perilous valley of change.


I have talked, of late, with a good friend and one of my colleagues from my SIU days.  Elizabeth’s passion and vision and energy for helping SIU is extraordinary…and gives me renewed hope that all is not lost…perhaps this is the beginning of the true Halcyon Days of our wonderful institution of higher education.

img_0708-2img_0704-2I read a budgetary hopeful email from University President Dunn today…perhaps the clouds are at last clearing?

One truth is irrefutable…our University will rise on the enthusiasm of it’s Community!  If our legislature and Governor will at long last come to an agreement on the State’s Budget…we will all win!

img_0655-4img_0503Is the current situation we find ourselves in desperation or opportunity?  Is it sunset…or perhaps a glorious sunrise?


Stay Cool

Please enjoy a great Blog by my Son Jonathon.


It can be difficult to be an original, a one-of-a-kind, instead of a crowd copy. Peer pressure doesn’t end after junior high or high school. It carries over into adult life. The crowd says to drink a lot of this and then I can be cool. The crowd says to do that (insert any risky or immoral behavior here) and then I can be in with the awesome people. This world says to eat and to drink and to be merry because tomorrow the whole mess is coming to an end anyway.

Now I’m all about a glorious and merry celebration of every new moment of my entire life. I believe in always rejoicing regardless of the situation I’m in at the time. However, life is so much more than passing pleasure or wild parties. The pleasures and the parties can leave one believing all is lost and everything is…

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Alternate Universe

I began using the range terms of, Alternate Universe…Alternate Reality…and Twilight Zone about a year ago when referring to the massive upending upheaval in Presidential Politics and the desire of people who had not been heard from in many years…to be heard.

I have been surprised and amazed at the number of times that I have heard the term Alternate Universe used in popular mainstream media.  Often this is the ‘go to’ terminology to describe the Trump Administration and their accusations of, Fake news…election fraud to the tune of three to five million illegal votes…and that the mainstream media is the enemy of the American people.

These accusations seem ludicrous to many of us and damaging to our long history of the freedom of the press and the need of that adversarial relationship, of the free press with government,  for the ultimate health of our beautiful democratic experiment.

However, Americans see reality through the prism of their experience.  To the poor urban African American who has lived in poverty and deprivation for generations.  Who have been the victims of profiling and prejudice…who have looked longingly for truth tellers in the predominately white government…the Alternate Universe that they live in is cruel and cold and filled with want and lies.

Reality of the poor white man and woman who is working, if they are fortunate enough to have a job, until their fingers bleed without any hope of accomplishing more than to cover the monthly bills and the purchase of enough groceries to stave off hunger for themselves and their children.  The experience, every four years, of having presidential candidates tell them that they feel their pain and that if elected they are going to solve their economic distress.  Watching silently as their government tells them that they do not have the money to give them an opportunity for a good job while at the same time their government sends untold millions of dollars to other countries to help their efforts and people.  The Alternate Universe that these people live in is one of hard work… without reward.

The life of the immigrant…whether Mexican…or muslim…or any nations suffering under economic and eminent threat of death and destruction…still looks to the Great Lady with the poem of acceptance…and the hope of a better life.  We were known for being a beacon of freedom and escape and opportunity to the suffering masses of the world…but now we are known as something else.  As we round up immigrants that have been here for years…and strike fear in their little children and their families…are we really adhering to our values?  The Alternate Universe of the refugee and the immigrant and ‘the wretched refuse of you’r teeming shores,’ is one of fear and uncertainty in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

If you watch MSNBC as opposed to Fox News…you may and will hear two different reporting of what are supposed to be facts…not alternative facts.  If you only subscribe to the news source that fits your political ideology…you will continue to live in your Universe of facts and reality.

‘Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.’   Abraham Lincoln…(a Republican)

The North Dakota Pipeline is opposed by many Native Americans for serious reasons.  The Standing Rock Sioux are opposed to this pipeline due to the threat to their main drinking water source.  The Sioux are also opposed to the destruction of their ancestral burial sites and the destruction of burial grounds.  The Alternate Universe for the Native American is often that of broken promises and lies.


If there is a solution…it must include the setting down of all of us…to break bread and listen…and listen…and listen…to each other…with an open heart…and with empathy.

The answer is not in our current leader…it is in us…if we are willing to accept the assignment.


What is a Leader?

‘Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right,’ according to Professor Warren G. Bennis.

‘Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it,’ according to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I have always been fascinated with Leaders and the concept of Leadership.  Former President John F. Kennedy said, ‘My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ This historic statement resulted in a generation devoting themselves to public and humanitarian service.

Winston Churchill lead embattled Britain with the power of his oratory and clear eyed vision of their ultimate success…in the darkest days of World War II.

Winston Churchill said, ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.’  ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.’  ‘If you are going through hell, keep going.’

Empathy has a role to play in leadership.  Can you place yourself in another person’s shoes?  Can you relate to how another is reacting or feeling?  When someone is hurting…do you feel their pain?

For many years I was a manager of a large housekeeping organization.  I found one of the statements uttered by the popular motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, to be relevant in all my leadership efforts, ‘People do not really care how much you know, until they know how much your care…about them.’

We all are looking for a leader who has our back.  Someone who has our best interest at heart.  A person who cares about our success and our advancement.  A leader who is fair with all and who endeavors to treat others like they would like to be treated.

Criticism comes with being a leader.  This is something that our new President appears to be having some difficulty with.  No leader likes criticism and it is best to ignore it, accept for instructive purposes.  Certainly a leader must not personalize criticism.

A true leader understands that they are a member of the group that they are attempting to lead.  They are not more intelligent…gifted…or somehow endowed with a special magical sprinkling of dust from heaven that is kept in storage… just for people like them.

Humility is important and vital to the success of a leader.

Nothing is more humbling than being a manager, an administrator, a leader of a group of honest hard working people…that are looking to you for guidance.

All of us seek to be our best.  We desire to maximize our skills and be recognized for our efforts.  A leader understands how to make these very human desires happen.


Leaders often must make difficult decisions.  These decisions should be made after serious consideration regarding the impact of the them and the motivation for them.

A leader is inclusive.  Opportunity is for everyone.  During my thirty-two year career at Southern Illinois University our department went from being a primarily caucasian male organization to being a ‘house for all people,’ according to my former friend and Chancellor Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger.  This included many disabled persons…who were some of our finest staff.


What Road Will You Take?


Our Pastor, Rev. Janice west, spoke to us this morning regarding the variables that occur dependent upon our choices though our life.  How different each of our lives would be if we had gone left on the path of life rather than right.

The classic Christmas movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ depicts clearly the impact each of our lives have on those we encounter…even if we do not realize it.  In the movie George Bailey, after encountering the reseting of his dreams of education and travel to rather stay in Bedford Falls and support his Father’s life’s work of the Bedford Savings and Loan and later encountering financial catastrophe…contrived by the town’s richest and most evil man, Mr. Potter.  George ultimately tells his guardian angel, Clarence, that he wished that he had never been born.  He gets his wish and the collateral results on the town and his friends and even his wife are devastating.

So often our lives, although short, are full of mystery.  Often the choices that we make are far removed from what our original mental GPS had illustrated so clearly.

The novel, ‘4 3 2 1,’  by Paul Auster is the story of Archibald Issac Ferguson and the four different paths that his life takes.  In other words four different Archibald Issac Ferguson’s simultaneously.

I can easily remember my feelings when Mary Jane suggested that I take the Building Service Worker I Civil Service exam at Southern Illinois University.  She holding a teaching certificate and a Bachelor’s Degree from SIU and I a janitor.

Yet I did take her advice…and it resulted in a wonderful career at the University…and an opportunity to help people…which was my passion.

I began as a Fundamentalist Christian.  I received a great bedrock christian training that is part of my character.  Yet, colleagues of Mary Jane asked her to visit with them at their church, First Presbyterian in Carbondale.  I loved it from the first time that I attended…and it has changed my christian life.  That was nearly twenty years ago.

A dear friend of mine told me recently how much that I was missed at the University and that I had made a difference in peoples lives…I am sure I am not worthy of such lovely sentiments…but indeed it was my desire for the people that I associated with to receive the great gift of opportunity that I received from the path of Southern Illinois University.

img_0435dscn5486‘Don’t You Quit’

‘When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit-Rest if your must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a fellow turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out.  Don’t give up though the pace seems slow-you may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man; Often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victor’s cup;  And he learned to late when the night came down, How close he was to the victor’s crown.

Success is failure turned inside out-

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close your are, It may be near when it seems afar; So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.’


Breaking Bread With People From Around the World

This past week Jonathon and I attended the International Student’s Annual Lunch that  they serve at the Student Center on the Campus of Southern Illinois University.  The first thing that I was struck with was the enormity of the crowd shortly after 11:00 am when it did not open until 11:00.

As we waited to purchase our tickets for the culinary event…again long lines.  When we entered the Ballrooms it seemed that every table was full and the food line was surrounding the large assortment of international food delights.

The kindness of the servers, who represented countries across our globe, was touching and affirming.  These scholars were glad we were there…and they were honored to serve us.  I was humbled and honored to be a part of this healing event.

dscn5468dscn5506The peace and harmony of the unique luncheon event was moving.  In the Student Center Ballrooms were peoples of many nations…including many of the Muslim faith who were doing one of the most human…and most loving of interactions…breaking bread with each other.  No one was thinking of the political divisions between us…or the differences in how we approach God…or not.  Instead everyone was united in the family that we all are members of…the human family.

dscn5509dscn0018dscn1868dscn0037No one required banning.  Everyone in attendance loved the diversity of our enormous family.

One of our greatest Presidents…who led us through the Great Depression…and World War II…said…”The only thing we have to fear, is fear its self.”  This great leader did not stoke our fear…or daily ramp it up by false assertions and feverish dreams of grandeur.  He calmed us…and centered us during some of the most difficult times our country has ever endured.

dscn4423dscn4370Indeed there are people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life…but it is not the majority…it is an evil minority.  Most of the human family still wants to live in peace and acceptance of their fellow men and women and children.

When Jonathon and I finished our lunch and began to exit the International Lunch…we were stopped by a young woman who asked if we would like to add our names to a poster that was going to be presented to the international students at the conclusion of the event…to let them know that Americans supported them and were glad that they were in our Country.  We added our names with humility and pride.

We were told that attendance at the International Student Luncheon last year was about 100.  This year there were several hundred.


Dark Times Reveal Rays of Light

For the last three days I have taken extensive walks around the Campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.  It had been since before Christmas since I had engaged in this thoroughly enjoyable activity, due to falling and fracturing three ribs.

Saturday I happened upon what was apparently an Open House, where I found many prospective students and their parents looking with awe and wonder at the great and beautiful University that is SIU.

The excitement that was in their faces renewed my remembrance of what a gift higher education and SIU are, not only to the people of Illinois…but around the world.

img_0510IMG_0450.JPGimg_0475I think we often feel that our efforts are not enough to combat the herculean problems that confront us.  Indeed many support our new President’s Executive order banning seven countries on a thinly veiled religious test…which is directly in opposition to our Constitution.  However one Attorney General from Washington State presented a written argument to one Federal Judge…which in turn has…for now halted the President’s Un-constitutional Executive Order.


We in  Illinois fear that some of our University’s may become so diminished, due to the failure of our State Legislature and our Governor’s failure to agree on a budget for almost two years, that they will be unrecognizable to their faithful alumni and the students who are rely on them to be there for the fulfillment of their educational dreams.

I saw in the eyes of the parents and their children, this past Saturday, hope in the midst of darkness…and a belief that what is right…what is as necessary…what is wise and prudent…will continue to be offered as a necessity and not a luxury.

img_0503img_0478-9img_0537Your know…at time you just feel in your gut…that something is wrong and you must speak out.  That feeling is often right.  It is not about Republicans and Democrats…it is about right and wrong.

It has been said that people get what type of government that they deserve…?