UP WITH FREEDOM: Reflect on JFK loss, then be done with it

UP WITH FREEDOM: Reflect on JFK loss, then be done with it

With 50 years now elapsed since JFK’s slaying, we can at last pull the plug on that terrible event’s life supports and finally extinguish what little remained of its fading force among the living. Sure, a number of us who have memories of Nov. 22, 1963, will still be around 10 years from now when the Kennedy assassination turns 60, but there won’t be so much conscious reflection of it then.

As I recall, JFK’s first impact in my life came a year before he died, during the summer of 1962. I was all of 6, spending a week at Nora’s home in a more outlying and less-developed suburb of the sprawling, ugly metropolis where I grew up. Nora, a co-worker of my mother at the drug store, commuted rather far to the job, which helps to explain how her place could represent a getaway treat to me. The youngest of her four sons was my age, and he and I became pretty good friends. When parents were away at work, Nora’s oldest kid, daughter Lorraine, enforced law in the home.

The kids were products of a mixed union: father from Britain, mom from Ireland. Culturally, Nora’s side dominated. They were an Irish-Catholic family.

You could say that I, too, had sprung from a mixed marriage: staunchly Republican father and Democrat-leaning mom. So when a couple of Nora’s older boys asked me one day to declare whether I had been for Nixon or for Kennedy, odds were evenly split that I’d answer wrong. When I said “Nixon,” they beat me up a little.

I honestly don’t remember if I tattled, but Lorraine did find out. I watched through a window as she literally took a belt to those naughty boys. My first foray into presidential politics, and already I was acquiring faith in justice.

A few months later, when my family changed residences and I had to change schools, I found myself in the first grade class of one Mrs. Anthony, a humorless, overwrought, relentlessly unsmiling woman who was also much fatigued. She would yell at us about how much grief we were causing her on top of all the nights her baby was keeping her up.

I was terrified of Mrs. Anthony. Determined to escape her notice, I dispensed with my mastery of worksheets from my previous schooling and started copying the work of the girl next to me. I was hoping everyone was performing the work her way, and I’d be safe in being identical. Unfortunately, the girl had no concept of anything. When my papers started coming back all red-marked and with low scores, I stopped doing my worksheets altogether, my next fruitless strategy for flying low.

Mrs. Anthony had my mother in for a conference. Afterward, members of my family talked me into simply doing my work and trying not to worry so much about Mrs. Anthony. I also felt shame.

My self-esteem was still only half recovered when, on Oct. 31, 1962, I donned my Halloween costume. As usual, it was one of those mass-produced cheapies from the drug store where my mother worked, but I don’t think they ordered many units of this item. Was it I who chose to go as President John F. Kennedy? I don’t remember.

A cheesy JFK face rubber-banded to my head, the words “Mr. President” printed boldly in white on the drawn-in lapel of my black, drawn formal suit, that night I had the most gratifying trick-or-treating experience of my entire childhood. Adults who answered their doors offered me not only candy, but some strange but wonderful kind of respect as well. For years afterward, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my unhesitating answer was, “president.”

Although I was saddling myself with a dopey, unattainable career goal, at least my recovery from my Mrs. Anthony terror was now complete.

I was only 7 a year later when Nov. 22 rolled around, but it hit me pretty hard. As consolation during the ensuing months, my mother brought me numerous commemorative items from the ample shelf space suddenly devoted to things JFK at the drug store. I had slick-papered photograph books, a mounted bust of the late president, and an album of his recorded speeches.

A few years later I came across my old Kennedy costume in storage. Now there was a weird moment.

Beyond producing an immediate emotional impact, the assassination influenced my personal politics over the next couple of decades. I suspect I was moving past it by 1990, however. That summer I saw a concert poster for a hardcore punk band irreverently named “Dead Kennedys,” and I confess I wasn’t offended.

Rob Ruth is editor of the Chieftain.

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UP WITH FREEDOM: Reflect on JFK loss, then be done with it

UP WITH FREEDOM: Reflect on JFK loss, then be done with it

With 50 years now elapsed since JFK’s slaying, we can at last pull the plug on that terrible event’s life supports and finally extinguish what little remained of its fading force among the living. Sure, a number of us who have memories of Nov. 22, 1963, will still be around 10 years from now when the Kennedy assassination turns 60, but there won’t be so much conscious reflection of it then.

As I recall, JFK’s first impact in my life came a year before he died, during the summer of 1962. I was all of 6, spending a week at Nora’s home in a more outlying and less-developed suburb of the sprawling, ugly metropolis where I grew up. Nora, a co-worker of my mother at the drug store, commuted rather far to the job, which helps to explain how her place could represent a getaway treat to me. The youngest of her four sons was my age, and he and I became pretty good friends. When parents were away at work, Nora’s oldest kid, daughter Lorraine, enforced law in the home.

The kids were products of a mixed union: father from Britain, mom from Ireland. Culturally, Nora’s side dominated. They were an Irish-Catholic family.

You could say that I, too, had sprung from a mixed marriage: staunchly Republican father and Democrat-leaning mom. So when a couple of Nora’s older boys asked me one day to declare whether I had been for Nixon or for Kennedy, odds were evenly split that I’d answer wrong. When I said “Nixon,” they beat me up a little.

I honestly don’t remember if I tattled, but Lorraine did find out. I watched through a window as she literally took a belt to those naughty boys. My first foray into presidential politics, and already I was acquiring faith in justice.

A few months later, when my family changed residences and I had to change schools, I found myself in the first grade class of one Mrs. Anthony, a humorless, overwrought, relentlessly unsmiling woman who was also much fatigued. She would yell at us about how much grief we were causing her on top of all the nights her baby was keeping her up.

I was terrified of Mrs. Anthony. Determined to escape her notice, I dispensed with my mastery of worksheets from my previous schooling and started copying the work of the girl next to me. I was hoping everyone was performing the work her way, and I’d be safe in being identical. Unfortunately, the girl had no concept of anything. When my papers started coming back all red-marked and with low scores, I stopped doing my worksheets altogether, my next fruitless strategy for flying low.

Mrs. Anthony had my mother in for a conference. Afterward, members of my family talked me into simply doing my work and trying not to worry so much about Mrs. Anthony. I also felt shame.

My self-esteem was still only half recovered when, on Oct. 31, 1962, I donned my Halloween costume. As usual, it was one of those mass-produced cheapies from the drug store where my mother worked, but I don’t think they ordered many units of this item. Was it I who chose to go as President John F. Kennedy? I don’t remember.

A cheesy JFK face rubber-banded to my head, the words “Mr. President” printed boldly in white on the drawn-in lapel of my black, drawn formal suit, that night I had the most gratifying trick-or-treating experience of my entire childhood. Adults who answered their doors offered me not only candy, but some strange but wonderful kind of respect as well. For years afterward, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my unhesitating answer was, “president.”

Although I was saddling myself with a dopey, unattainable career goal, at least my recovery from my Mrs. Anthony terror was now complete.

I was only 7 a year later when Nov. 22 rolled around, but it hit me pretty hard. As consolation during the ensuing months, my mother brought me numerous commemorative items from the ample shelf space suddenly devoted to things JFK at the drug store. I had slick-papered photograph books, a mounted bust of the late president, and an album of his recorded speeches.

A few years later I came across my old Kennedy costume in storage. Now there was a weird moment.

Beyond producing an immediate emotional impact, the assassination influenced my personal politics over the next couple of decades. I suspect I was moving past it by 1990, however. That summer I saw a concert poster for a hardcore punk band irreverently named “Dead Kennedys,” and I confess I wasn’t offended.

Rob Ruth is editor of the Chieftain.


Continue reading

GUEST COLUMN: Second Amendment not so endangered

GUEST COLUMN: Second Amendment not so endangered

We live in a rapidly changing world with a rapidly growing population and exponentially changing technology. It is scary. It calls to mind another scary time during the Great Depression when people were frightened. At that time in his inaugural address, FDR made the statement, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

Here we are in a very beautiful place in a very special country. We live among friendly people who care deeply for their families, their homes and their neighborhoods. Yet, many of us, even in this beautiful place, isolated as we are, are afraid because of the unfamiliarity caused by so many changes. These changes cause us to believe we are in danger, in danger of losing property or in danger of losing the comforts we enjoy. Such fear can lead to paranoia, a form of mental illness in which our fears become unrealistic and we develop an illusion of being in mortal danger.

An outside of the county group is asking the Board of Commissioners to approve an ordinance that they say is needed to “bolster the Second Amendment.” They say it is necessary to prohibit local officials cooperating with the federal government in Second Amendment actions.

Rather than acting on an illusory sense of danger, we need to stop and think rationally and realistically. Instead of imagining such strange ideas as armored flanks of soldiers, tanks, airplanes, drones proceeding into Wallowa County to take away the guns and ammunitions owned by our residents, let’s get real, if only for a moment.

1.A majority of the population in the United States believes strongly in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. In this environment, no politician or group of politicians will be the least bit interested in weakening that Amendment.

Fearful people at the beginning of the present administration cried out that the government was going to “take our guns.” That fear was obviously misguided. Five years hence, not even a discussion of such action has occurred except among the fearful.

Changes in the Constitution of the United States are not easily made. In fact, it is very difficult and must be done according to specific rules set within the Constitution itself. When a change is made, it usually takes years and requires huge majorities. (See Article V.)

We have a problem. Too many people in our country are being shot and killed by guns. Regardless of whether people could be killed by knives, clubs, etc., too many are killed by guns.

2.Mentally ill people are obtaining guns and using them to shoot high numbers of people in malls, schools, theaters and other crowded places. In general, fear leads to a sense of isolation which leads to paranoia and mental illness.

If we can understand these facts, we ought to be able to realistically believe that it is silly to fight the windmill that we call “The Big Government” in regard to the Second Amendment. Instead we need to stand together as neighbors to oppose fear, because that fear can undermine the blessings we enjoy living in a beautiful place and experiencing the friendships

we enjoy so much.

Evelyn Swart is a resident of Joseph.

Continue reading

GUEST COLUMN: Second Amendment not so endangered

GUEST COLUMN: Second Amendment not so endangered

We live in a rapidly changing world with a rapidly growing population and exponentially changing technology. It is scary. It calls to mind another scary time during the Great Depression when people were frightened. At that time in his inaugural address, FDR made the statement, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

Here we are in a very beautiful place in a very special country. We live among friendly people who care deeply for their families, their homes and their neighborhoods. Yet, many of us, even in this beautiful place, isolated as we are, are afraid because of the unfamiliarity caused by so many changes. These changes cause us to believe we are in danger, in danger of losing property or in danger of losing the comforts we enjoy. Such fear can lead to paranoia, a form of mental illness in which our fears become unrealistic and we develop an illusion of being in mortal danger.

An outside of the county group is asking the Board of Commissioners to approve an ordinance that they say is needed to “bolster the Second Amendment.” They say it is necessary to prohibit local officials cooperating with the federal government in Second Amendment actions.

Rather than acting on an illusory sense of danger, we need to stop and think rationally and realistically. Instead of imagining such strange ideas as armored flanks of soldiers, tanks, airplanes, drones proceeding into Wallowa County to take away the guns and ammunitions owned by our residents, let’s get real, if only for a moment.

1.A majority of the population in the United States believes strongly in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. In this environment, no politician or group of politicians will be the least bit interested in weakening that Amendment.

Fearful people at the beginning of the present administration cried out that the government was going to “take our guns.” That fear was obviously misguided. Five years hence, not even a discussion of such action has occurred except among the fearful.

Changes in the Constitution of the United States are not easily made. In fact, it is very difficult and must be done according to specific rules set within the Constitution itself. When a change is made, it usually takes years and requires huge majorities. (See Article V.)

We have a problem. Too many people in our country are being shot and killed by guns. Regardless of whether people could be killed by knives, clubs, etc., too many are killed by guns.

2.Mentally ill people are obtaining guns and using them to shoot high numbers of people in malls, schools, theaters and other crowded places. In general, fear leads to a sense of isolation which leads to paranoia and mental illness.

If we can understand these facts, we ought to be able to realistically believe that it is silly to fight the windmill that we call “The Big Government” in regard to the Second Amendment. Instead we need to stand together as neighbors to oppose fear, because that fear can undermine the blessings we enjoy living in a beautiful place and experiencing the friendships

we enjoy so much.

Evelyn Swart is a resident of Joseph.


Continue reading

LETTER: Fix water system without raising rates

LETTER: Fix water system without raising rates

To the Editor:

Although I have not lived in Wallowa County for a number of years, I still own property in Enterprise and have been following, with interest, the latest regarding the sewer and water fiasco, catching bits and pieces where possible.

As can sometimes happen in a representative government, those that have been elected seem to forget about those who elected them. The case in point is the article about the city having done its homework regarding the water system, detailing a long list of reasons. I would loudly submit: “No, they have not done their job” as they have overlooked the first and foremost aspect of representation.

As I understand it, at prior public hearings the majority of testimony was overwhelming against any increase in water rates. This position, Councilors, is your starting position. No increase in water rates – now try to find a workable solution based on this axis. Once you accept this as a position that represents those that elected you then, perhaps, you can truly be on your way of doing “your homework.”

Continue reading

LETTER: Fix water system without raising rates

LETTER: Fix water system without raising rates

To the Editor:

Although I have not lived in Wallowa County for a number of years, I still own property in Enterprise and have been following, with interest, the latest regarding the sewer and water fiasco, catching bits and pieces where possible.

As can sometimes happen in a representative government, those that have been elected seem to forget about those who elected them. The case in point is the article about the city having done its homework regarding the water system, detailing a long list of reasons. I would loudly submit: “No, they have not done their job” as they have overlooked the first and foremost aspect of representation.

As I understand it, at prior public hearings the majority of testimony was overwhelming against any increase in water rates. This position, Councilors, is your starting position. No increase in water rates – now try to find a workable solution based on this axis. Once you accept this as a position that represents those that elected you then, perhaps, you can truly be on your way of doing “your homework.”


Continue reading

LETTER: What’s what with parasite

LETTER: What’s what with parasite

To the Editor:

I thought your readers might appreciate some slightly more accurate information about the Echinococcus tapeworm mentioned in Connie Dunham’s article.

1) Echinococcus are not likely to have been confirmed in any dead wolf because they are too small. Regular tapeworms are visible, but echinococcus are really tiny (fit inside a printed “o”) By the way, the wolves are neither alien nor invasive.

2) There are two strains – the wild strain (fox, coyote, wolf and deer family), and the pastoral strain (sheep, dogs). Humans get worse disease from the pastoral strain. While it is prudent to deworm a dog in an area where there is

echinococcus, a tapeworm dewormer is a must, and these are not usually found over the counter. Consult your veterinarian.

3) People can get the hydatid disease form, which is indeed nasty (cysts in lungs and liver), but there are no spores, and it is not obtained from inhalation, but from ingestion. So it is important not to eat wolf and dog feces!

4) Echinococcus is spreading but parasitologists attribute this more to restocking areas with elk (also not alien or invasive, though they do come from other parts of the continent like the wolves did) and foxes for foxhunts, coyotes, and dogs. The reintroduced wolves might harbor the parasites, but are a minor source of them.

Continue reading

LETTER: What’s what with parasite

LETTER: What’s what with parasite

To the Editor:

I thought your readers might appreciate some slightly more accurate information about the Echinococcus tapeworm mentioned in Connie Dunham’s article.

1) Echinococcus are not likely to have been confirmed in any dead wolf because they are too small. Regular tapeworms are visible, but echinococcus are really tiny (fit inside a printed “o”) By the way, the wolves are neither alien nor invasive.

2) There are two strains – the wild strain (fox, coyote, wolf and deer family), and the pastoral strain (sheep, dogs). Humans get worse disease from the pastoral strain. While it is prudent to deworm a dog in an area where there is

echinococcus, a tapeworm dewormer is a must, and these are not usually found over the counter. Consult your veterinarian.

3) People can get the hydatid disease form, which is indeed nasty (cysts in lungs and liver), but there are no spores, and it is not obtained from inhalation, but from ingestion. So it is important not to eat wolf and dog feces!

4) Echinococcus is spreading but parasitologists attribute this more to restocking areas with elk (also not alien or invasive, though they do come from other parts of the continent like the wolves did) and foxes for foxhunts, coyotes, and dogs. The reintroduced wolves might harbor the parasites, but are a minor source of them.


Continue reading

CHIEFTAIN: Cutting food assistance too harmful and saves little

CHIEFTAIN: Cutting food assistance too harmful and saves little

With a devastating economic recession cutting a painful swath through American life in 2008-2010, the Obama administration and public-spirited local leaders encouraged out-of-work families to make appropriate use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly referred to as food stamps.

Before the housing crash, about 26 million received food stamps. This summer, the total reached almost 48 million, or one out of every seven Americans. The cost has swelled at the same time. Even with some paring-back now in progress, the program is expected to cost $74.4 billion this fiscal year. In comparison, fiscal year 2014 defense spending is expected to total about $832.2 billion, or about 11 times as much.

On Nov. 1, a temporary boost in food stamps benefits came to an end. It had been part of the Obama economic stimulus plan of 2009. This will reduce the program’s overall cost by $5 billion in the 2013-14 period. A family of four receiving the maximum benefit will see a $36-per-month reduction, from $668 to $631. Individual maximum benefits will fall by $11.

This isn’t a big reduction. But it’s easy to see that $36 may easily represent a family’s entire food budget for a day or two. At a time when science points to life-long developmental impacts from childhood nutritional gaps, it’s no small thing to ensure some essential baseline for meals every day.

Now, both to begin reining in the federal deficit and out of a philosophical wish to make sure people practice self-sufficiency, the Republican-controlled U.S. House aims to trim an additional $39 billion for the program over the next 10 years. Senate Democrats look for saving of about one-tenth as much.

It’s understandable from a budgetary standpoint to worry about all expenses. But cutting food stamps – even the short-term boost in them from 2009 – is premised on a different view of reality, one that may exist only within the U.S. capital Beltway. In the majority of the nation, the lackadaisical recovery still feels like a depression to many working families. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call them “formerly working.” Old jobs have gone away and new jobs aren’t being created very fast.

As federal aid dwindles, community volunteers and civic groups are struggling to fill gaps – for instance by sending backpacks of basic food supplies home with schoolchildren on Fridays. Local charity is wonderful and can be an efficient way of delivering calories where they are needed at low cost. But is it sufficient to feed millions? Almost certainly, the answer is no.

If we are to cut back on food assistance – and allow emergency unemployment benefits to lapse on Jan. 1 – we need at the same time to greatly improve job re-training and perhaps provide direct federal jobs to the long-term unemployed, as the Works Progress Administration did in the 1930s.

Together, cutbacks in food stamps and jobless benefits could easily shave half a percent from our economy this winter. Our fragile recovery – and fragile working families – can’t withstand this.

There are many things America should cut first, before we start carving holes in our minimal social safety net.

Continue reading

CHIEFTAIN: Cutting food assistance too harmful and saves little

CHIEFTAIN: Cutting food assistance too harmful and saves little

With a devastating economic recession cutting a painful swath through American life in 2008-2010, the Obama administration and public-spirited local leaders encouraged out-of-work families to make appropriate use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly referred to as food stamps.

Before the housing crash, about 26 million received food stamps. This summer, the total reached almost 48 million, or one out of every seven Americans. The cost has swelled at the same time. Even with some paring-back now in progress, the program is expected to cost $74.4 billion this fiscal year. In comparison, fiscal year 2014 defense spending is expected to total about $832.2 billion, or about 11 times as much.

On Nov. 1, a temporary boost in food stamps benefits came to an end. It had been part of the Obama economic stimulus plan of 2009. This will reduce the program’s overall cost by $5 billion in the 2013-14 period. A family of four receiving the maximum benefit will see a $36-per-month reduction, from $668 to $631. Individual maximum benefits will fall by $11.

This isn’t a big reduction. But it’s easy to see that $36 may easily represent a family’s entire food budget for a day or two. At a time when science points to life-long developmental impacts from childhood nutritional gaps, it’s no small thing to ensure some essential baseline for meals every day.

Now, both to begin reining in the federal deficit and out of a philosophical wish to make sure people practice self-sufficiency, the Republican-controlled U.S. House aims to trim an additional $39 billion for the program over the next 10 years. Senate Democrats look for saving of about one-tenth as much.

It’s understandable from a budgetary standpoint to worry about all expenses. But cutting food stamps – even the short-term boost in them from 2009 – is premised on a different view of reality, one that may exist only within the U.S. capital Beltway. In the majority of the nation, the lackadaisical recovery still feels like a depression to many working families. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call them “formerly working.” Old jobs have gone away and new jobs aren’t being created very fast.

As federal aid dwindles, community volunteers and civic groups are struggling to fill gaps – for instance by sending backpacks of basic food supplies home with schoolchildren on Fridays. Local charity is wonderful and can be an efficient way of delivering calories where they are needed at low cost. But is it sufficient to feed millions? Almost certainly, the answer is no.

If we are to cut back on food assistance – and allow emergency unemployment benefits to lapse on Jan. 1 – we need at the same time to greatly improve job re-training and perhaps provide direct federal jobs to the long-term unemployed, as the Works Progress Administration did in the 1930s.

Together, cutbacks in food stamps and jobless benefits could easily shave half a percent from our economy this winter. Our fragile recovery – and fragile working families – can’t withstand this.

There are many things America should cut first, before we start carving holes in our minimal social safety net.


Continue reading