But what if he wins?

We’ve had a piece of trash campaign mail on our kitchen island for several days from an outfit called FranklinAndLee.com. It attacks Eric Greitens.

We wrote about FranklinAndLee on April 27, should you want to read how it and one of the other Republican candidates know of one another but both claim they don’t speak.

Greitens, whose campaign has emphasized that he can shoot a gun and pound on a punching bag but has not indicated HOW he will straighten out a state government that has been left in shambles by those blasted professional politicians (of which he wants to become one of), is Missouri’s Donald Trump.

He’s the Republican that Republicans don’t want to recognize. But he has tied a lot of knots in GOP knickers because he showed up in some recent polls as the leading candidate.

One poll had him ahead of John Brunner 29-22 with Hanaway at 16 and Kinder with 12.  Another poll shows him ahead of Hanaway 24-22 with Brunner and Kinder at 16 and 15.  The results are inconsistent except that both show Greitens in the lead, Kinder lagging badly for a three-term Lieutenant Governor, and 21 to 23% of the potential voters not sure what to make of it all.

FranklinandLee, which has close ties to Brunner’s campaign although he denies any connection to it, is harping on the “He is not one of us” theme.  We heard that throughout the national presidential primary campaign, didn’t we?  .

What are Greitens’ big sins?   If you’ve gotten one of these pieces of trash mail and you haven’t trashed it yet, take a look.  He went with Governor Bob Holden in 2008 to hear Barack Obama’s presidential nomination campaign speech.  In 2013 he committed the heresy of liking St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay because Slay had helped veterans get help, training, and jobs. (Pssst—In case you have missed any of Greitens’ commercials, he’s a former Navy SEAL.)

One criticism is that he met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which was courting him, and met with Congressman Russ Carnahan.  Conveniently left out is WHEN his meeting took place.  It had to be in 2012 or earlier because Carnahan lost a re-election bid that year.

But within inches of the criticism of his meetings with the DCCC is a quote from Greitens, “When Democrats asked me to run, I told them no, because I am a conservative, and I am a Republican.”   So he was recruited and he went to Washington where several influential Democrats tried to convince him to run for Congress and he said no.

Not one of us?   What is he, then, after telling the D’s he wasn’t going to be one of THEM?

Apparently it is an unpardonable offense that he didn’t lemming-like get in line behind Senate Joint Resolution 39 in the legislature this year (there are plenty of previous entries here about that if you want to put yourself through reading them).  And to compound the crime, Claire McCaskill, one of those heathens in the other party, agreed with him.

So Eric Greitens, exercising his First Amendment Freedom of Association with Mayor Slay, should be considered a political leper by Republican voters.  And because Claire McCaskill exercised her same First Amendment Freedom by associating herself with his position of SJR39, he is even more leprous.

And there’s a quote from MSNBC’s Joe Klein, who is demonized in this piece of trash as a “liberal author and journalist.”  Klein described Greitens as “a Pro Gay-Rights Pro-Immigration Reform Republican.”  Let’s seen, what was one of the major points in the primary campaign of the Republican presidential nominee?   Immigration reform?   That’s it.  And that same nominee said several years ago of Elton John’s marriage to his longtime boyfriend, “If two people dig each other, they dig each other.” And in 2000, he urged Congress to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Clearly, being a “Pro Gay Rights, Pro-Immigration Reform Republican” makes one UNqualified to be (a) a Republican and (b) a chief executive of a state or a nation.  At least it didn’t in Cleveland last week.

To summarize:  Eric Greitens is “not one of us” because he was heavily courted by Democrats from 2008-2012—we surmise— before he proclaimed his GOP loyalty.  He’s “not one of us” because he could not conscientiously support a divisive and, many felt, discriminatory proposal masquerading as a religious liberty issue.  He’s “not one of us” because Joe Klein indicates he thinks non-heterosexuals have some kind of a place at the table.  He’s “not one of us” because he said a good thing about a Democrat that he thought had done good things for people like him.

So much for the “big tent” that we’ve heard both parties claim they have.

So what happens to the Missouri GOP if “not one of us” wins the primary election for Governor?  We’ve seen at the national level what happens when “not one of us” comes out a winner.  In Cleveland we heard calls for the party to unify although many of those voices did not call for it to unify behind the party nominee.  Republicans are not alone with concerns about what “party unity” will mean after this. Democrats are in the boat with them.

Eric Greitens, as an American citizen, is free to call himself a Republican if wishes to do so.  It’s his right.

Eric Greitens, a Republican, does not forfeit his mind, his conscience, or his right to associate personally or politically with anybody he chooses.

Eric Greitens, American citizen, does not have not to pass any litmus test of narrowness or broadness to be a member of any political party he chooses.   And to be a candidate within that party.

When you come down to it, the FranklinAndLee.com piece of junk mail might be more damaging to the Republican Party than it is to Eric Greitens.  The portrait it paints of who a Republican must be is not flattering to the party.

A party that makes such a big deal of letting individual citizens exercise their sincerely-held beliefs is not helped by junk mail like this that says Eric Greitens is not a member of the party because he has done just that.

There is a reason stuff like this is called “junk” mail.

Both of our political parties are in a fix this year because both have had to deal nationally with “not one of us” candidates who have caused big problems for party orthodoxy.

What was that again about a big tent?  Is it only for winners?

Beyond 66 degrees 33 minutes

DSC05246Now I know what the poet Robert W. Service meant.

There’s the land (Have you seen it?)

It’s the cussedest land that I know.

From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it

To the deep, deathlike valleys below.

Some say God was tired when He made it;

Some say it’s a fine land to shun;

Maybe, but there’s some as would trade it

For no land on earth—and I’m one.

One day not long ago, I took a little trip.  It started at 5:30 in the afternoon.  I got back to my motel at 1:30 a.m.   And it was still light enough to read a newspaper.

Everything around me was American.  The people.  The cars.  The signs.  The language.  The money.  But there also was a slight feeling of disorientation. This was a different America.  It was late June but sometimes it felt like October.  It looked like April.  It looked a lot like Colorado but it was so much more than Colorado.


  The mountains were higher.  The rivers were colder.  The valleys were wider, far wider.

One of the lodges where Nancy and I stayed will close on September 20, as would most of the businesses in the town, which will become so buttoned-up that the street lights would be turned off, not to be switched on for six months or so when the town would come back to life.

I had just been to two towns with a combined year-around population of thirty-two far off the beaten path—until a path was beaten to them.

This is Alaska and the last frontier really is here, sixty-five miles above the latitude that marks the beginning of the Arctic Circle.

Sixty-six degrees, thirty three minutes is the latitude that marks the Arctic Circle.


About two million people visit Alaska each year, about three times as many people as live in a state that is larger than Texas, California and Montana combined.  At least that’s what they claim and I am beyond arguing with them.  Less than one percent of those who visit Alaska make it above the Arctic Circle.  So we went and we listened to a man there who has lived a life in that frontier that is so different from our own that this listener could not fully absorb it.

A sign on the Dalton Highway at the Coldfoot turnoff says, “Next Services, 240 miles (380 kilometers).  No more services to the Arctic Ocean Coast.”  The nearest Wal-Mart is in Fairbanks, 270 miles and about six hours’ worth of driving to the south on a partly-paved highway built for trucks taking supplies to Prudhoe Bay, where the pipeline begins.


The truck stop at Coldfoot is the only place for fuel, food, and lodging along the entire highway.  500 miles.  You better have a big fuel tank and plan a very long day without a hot meal if you don’t plan to stop at Coldfoot, which was named by the few miners who stayed behind that first year when hundreds of others got cold feet and headed south.

Our driver on the way from the airport in Coldfoot to Wiseman told us there’s only one highway patrolman in the district, patrolling an area the size of the state of New York.  With only one road going through the area and little population in that region, there’s no criminal activity to speak of so he spends most of his time making sure hunters follow state and federal wildlife regulations. He keeps his airplane at the airport.

Life in Wiseman and in Coldfoot, Alaska is called subsistence living and it better be something a person is completely committed to doing. The odds are long against survival without that commitment.


We met in an old miner’s cabin in Wiseman built in 1946 by a character named Harry Leonard, who had moved into the area in 1932 looking for gold. He died in 1989 at the age of 92.  Harry arrived before there were roads and he and a lot of other folks in Wiseman didn’t cotton to the idea of a highway, even if it was gravel, disrupting their wilderness.

And they sure didn’t want any pipeline.  Harry parked a tractor on what was then the pipeline road back in the summer of ’74 and blocked traffic for six hours, claiming the road was interfering with his mineral claims.  State troopers finally convinced him to leave only to see him barge into a pipeline construction camp the next day, waving a gun around and telling the crews to get out.  An AP story reported, “The matter was settled informally, typical of bush justice.”

It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,

It’s the forests where silence has lease,

It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,

It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

The growing season is nearing an end in this region for people like Jack Reakoff, the Wiseman resident who spent the better part of an hour talking to us in Harry’s cabin, remembering days before the pipeline, days before the Dalton Highway, days before any kind of a paved road and who explained how one of the main focuses of living in a place like Wiseman is staying alive.

DSC05307His narrative was nothing like television’s version of reality.  What was so interesting was that he talked about his life within the Arctic Circle the same way we would explain our lifestyles here.  Except we would talk about going to Wal-Mart or the mall for things or watching the grocery ads for bargains on groceries and he talked about spending 18-21 days chopping ten to fifteen tons of wood that keeps his home warm during the long winters, growing almost four-hundred pounds of potatoes in his 24×21-foot garden and the vegetables that will help feed his family (“I have about fifty, sixty pounds of carrots and other root vegetables, lots of leafy green things, lettuces and all that for salads.  There’s no…green, leafy lettuces here in the wintertime so I freeze kale and turnip tops and spinach, stuff like that. And I put that in my 22 cubic foot freezer from late April through late September. The rest of the year the freezer’s turned off. And the freezer stays outside night and day.”), and going out even when it’s fifty-below zero to shoot the protein he and his family will need—moose (he’s allowed one a year), caribou, fox, wolf, bear, wolverine, rabbit, and lynx among the possibilities.

Summer growing season is June and July at this latitude. He plants his crops in May and covers them with plastic to trap the UV heat that allows his vegetables to be showing above ground by June 1.  He store his vegetables in his cellar which is dug into the permafrost and stays at 34-45 degrees.  That’s a trap door in the middle of Harry’s cabin, for example, that led to his cellar.

This particular valley gets about nine inches of precipitation a year. Reaker calls it a frozen desert.  How can he grow so many vegetables, how can the foliage be so green, with so little precipitation?   It’s because the permafrost keeps the water from soaking far down into the soil. It’s why the trees in most areas are so small and thin even though they might be a century or two old—their roots are shallow because they can’t grow through the permafrost and don’t need to do so because the moisture remains near the surface.

And don’t believe some of the stories you hear or that you see on television. “You hear guys sitting in a bar drinking whiskey telling bear stories—The Alaskans have to tell these stupid bear stories which they’ve heard over and over. It’s like a rumor going around in a room. Pretty soon these bears have bulletproof pelts and bullets bounce off their skulls and it takes multiple…rounds to kill one of them.  Anybody who tells you that it takes multiple magazine round is either really poor shot or they’re drunk and they don’t know what they’re talking about. Those bullets do not bounce off of bears and they’re easy to kill,” he told us, later showing a grizzly bear skull with a bullet hole between the eyes.


There’s nothing particularly colorful about Jack.  He’s living in his environment and doing what he has to do to survive there—just as we do in our environment.

That’s just part of the stories we heard about life above 66 degrees 33 minutes.  And there were many more from people below that line.

We think we have our magnificent areas here in the lower 48 in terms of mountains and valleys and scenic vistas.   We found Alaska above and below the Arctic Circle to be all of that and many times more.  Here are some things we did not know before we went:

America’s third largest river system is there—the Yukon, stretching 1,980 miles from British Columbia to the Bering Sea.   Seven of our nation’s ten largest national parks are there.  In fact, the largest one, Wrangell-St. Elias, covers 13,005 square miles.  And the second one, Gates of the Arctic (which isn’t far from Wiseman), covers 11,756.  Each of those national parks covers more area than the other three large national parks in the lower 48, COMBINED (Death Valley, Yellowstone, and the Everglades total just 11,094 square miles.

We visited a temperate rainforest in Ketchikan, where fire danger is always low, and forests in the inland national parks, where the fire danger was always high.  We marveled at the seeming frozen power of glaciers and heard their crackings and poppings and boomings as they ground their way forward.  We even flew out to one, the Mead, near Skagway, and hiked around on it for a while in special spiked overboots.


Glaciers are filthy with the debris of the ground they grind over. If you are familiar with Jefferson City, try to imagine a sheet of ice two-thirds as high as the Gateway Arch stretching from the double diamond interchange on the Whitton Expressway (Highways 50, 54, and 63)  all the way north to the 54/63 interchange across the river, and covering everything east beyond Linn—and moving at five feet a day. Glaciers are forces of nature that can only be experienced by being among them.  Their power—and their vulnerability—leaves one grasping for superlatives.

More than forty percent of the people in Alaska live in one place—Anchorage.  Another four or five percent live in Fairbanks.   The rest are scattered, and we do mean scattered, throughout the vastness of the place.

It’s a long ways and at least three time zones from Missouri to Alaska.  Don’t go there if you want to see quaint and colorful people.  Don’t go if you expect to see the massive herds of  caribou that you see on television (Jack says Hollywood and even some of the depictions on the History and National Geographic Channels don’t reflect reality).


Go and be quiet.  Go and listen.  Go and soak in a place where only one-percent of the land is allowed to be in private hands.  Go to see something gone in our part of the nation.  Go to respond to another Robert W. Service poem:

Have you seen God in His splendors,

            Heard the text that nature renders—

(You’ll never hear it in the family pew.)

The Simple things, the true things

            The silent men who do things?

Then listen to the Wild—it’s calling you.


They have cradled you in custom,

            They have primed you with their preaching,

They have soaked you in convention through and through;

            you’re a credit to their teaching.

But can’t you hear the Wild?—it’s calling you.


Let us probe the silent places,

            Let us seek what luck betides us;

Let us journey to a lonely land I know.

There’s a whisper on the night-wind,

            There’s a star agleam to guide us,

And the Wild is calling, calling….let us go. 


The post-convention bump

Your faithful observer has wondered every four years whether polls taken right after national conventions are worth the headlines they generate.  Surveys taken after the first convention seem to consistently show the candidate of the party not in the White House gets a pretty good bump in the numbers.  Then the second convention is held and the candidate of the party that has controlled the White House for the last four years or eight years sees its candidate’s numbers improve.  At least, that’s the way it seems to have been in memory.

Polls taken, say, a month later seem to convey a more accurate picture of where the candidates really are after the emotions of the conventions have given way to the give-and-take of the long slog toward election day.

So we can expect Donald Trump’s numbers to look better after the convention’s concentrated effort to put a new, focused, and presidential face on the nominee going forward.  Conventions, like primary elections for state offices, mark a dividing point.  All of the division and attacks that have gone on for months are irrelevant now. This the time for going forward in unity.  Now is the time to pay heed to the idea that if you can’t say anything nice about someone (within your own party) you shouldn’t say anything at all, a reversal of the contest before the convention when the mantra seemed to be, “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, say something really nasty.”

The party in power will have its chance in a few days to put its new, focused, and presidential face on its nominee and we expect the immediate post-convention polls to show some voters are more favorably disposed to that party’s nominee than they were. Many potential voters will lean toward the most recent, most intensive message they have been given.

It seems from our lofty perch high above the convention floor (on our television set in the living room below) that post-convention raw-number bumps are of limited meaning on the surface.  But we’ll be interested in the analysis of the other data that is collected.

Both candidates headed to their conventions with high negative attitudes by many voters.  The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls released before the Republican convention showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by three to eight points in the “favorable” ratings in four battleground states—Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.  While both have higher “unfavorable” numbers than “favorable” numbers, Clinton was less unfavorable than Trump by six to fifteen points.

For example, the survey taken in Colorado showed those questioned rated Clinton at 34 percent favorable and 62 percent unfavorable, a 28 point difference. Trump was 27 percent favorable and 67 percent unfavorable, a 40 point difference.  So while Clinton was favored over Trump by seven points on the favorable side, she was 12 points less unfavorable.  It’s a heckuva way to measure who’s ahead, isn’t it?

Regardless, that was the case in all four states. She was more popular than he was and she also was less UNpopular than he was.

Conventions are about a lot of things.  But one of the bigger things is how they shape public perceptions of the candidates.  Both will try to paint their nominees as saviors of the nation and the opponents as pending national disasters.  Will the effort to portray a kinder, gentler, more loving Donald Trump while dismissing perceived flaws in his personality or record be paying off on, to pick a date, September 1?  Or will the portrait of Hillary Clinton that emerges from the Democratic convention that dismisses perceived flaws in personality and record increase confidence that her experiences foreign and domestic are the qualities that should prevail?  Will the Republican effort to paint her portrait as a manipulative, unindicted political clone of President Obama increase her un-favorability among voters or will the Democratic portrayal of Trump as a rash, shallow, bully increase his?

So we’ll be looking after the Democratic convention at the favorable-unfavorable numbers to see if all of the platform rhetoric and chants and demonstrations on the floors wind up making the favorable/unfavorable margins between the two nominees much different.  Then we’ll check the numbers about the first of September to see what they are in less euphoric circumstances.

Oh, it’s a long, long time from August to November.

And the days grow short when you reach October.

When the autumn weather

Turns the leaves to flame,

One won’t have time

To recall the convention game.

Oh, the days will dwindle down

To the precious few.

September, October….

And will these polling bumps

After conventions one and two,

Still mean anything

To folks like me and you.

(with deepest apologies to composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Maxwell Anderson)


Some of you might think it’s funny.  Some of you will pump your fist in the air in agreement when you see it.  Some of you might honk your horn in support if you pull up behind a vehicle with the bumper sticker on it.

Good God, people!  In this campaign year when nothing seems too low, when there seems to be no limits on appealing to the worst of our narrowest natures, governor candidate Eric Greitens seems to have bored deeper into the darkness of politics based on hate and fear.

isis permit

Make a ten dollar donation to his campaign and he’ll give you an “Isis Hunting Permit” to stick on your bumper.  “No Bragging Limit. No Tagging Limit,” it says.

It’s not an original idea.  Unfortunately, other candidates in other states have decided to go swimming in these sludge-filled waters, too, with variations on this theme.

Political columnist Dave Helling with The Kansas City Star quotes a Greitens campaign news release claiming, “Liberals will go crazy when they see these, but remember, this isn’t an official government issued hunting tag.”

That statement strikes this longtime observer of Missouri politics who has seen a lot of tasteless campaign statements as irresponsible.  Some would find it outrageous.  And a campaign statement that suggests this is just a bit of innocent fund-raising fun might not even rank high enough to be termed contemptible—especially not in a time when we see too many headlines about senseless shootings.

Yes, ISIS is a bunch of bad people.  It’s hard to think of any group right now that deserves to reap the whirlwind.  But—

Given the current appeals throughout our political system that certain segments of the population should be stererotyped and scorned, this unfunny solicitation of ten-dollar bills can be dangerous, especially as a follow-up to a television commercial suggesting the answer to dissatisfaction with the political status quo comes symbolically from the barrel of a gun.

Is the Missouri voting public so far away from intelligent consideration of the issues that determine the quality of our lives that it can be motivated to vote for someone who thinks targeting ISIS—and in the minds of some, those whose faith might be blindly considered somehow related to it—is the most serious issue the next governor will have to deal with?

Are we so lost, so sick, that this kind of thing seems to be just an amusing way to get some attention and some ten-dollar bills?

Let us use the freedom of religion that seems to be such an important element of the campaigns of Greitens and his competitors to pray that we are not.

Notes from a Quiet Street—V

Just some observations when we’re not feeling real bloggity.

The words of Alfred Damon Runyon, 1920s New York newspaperman, seem appropriate to recall in this important political campaign year and form this entry’s scripture reading.

“Son,” the old man said, “as you go around and about in this world, some day you will come upon a man who will lay down in front of you a new deck of cards with the seal unbroken and offer to bet he can make the jack of spades jump out of the deck and squirt cider in your ear.   Son,” the old man continued, “do not bet him because as sure as you do, you are going to get an earful of cider.


Our tour bus stopped at an intersection a few days ago and we spotted this interesting juxtaposition of signs, grabbed our camera, and caught the image just in time.


The signs struck as kind of funny, particularly given the political climate here and the overt efforts by the Humphreys and the Sinquefields to buy elections.  We thought we might congratulate the Alaskans on their candor but then realized the signs were at a parking lot next to the legislative building and it was the parking that was soliciting money.  Yes, the capital city is Juneau but the legislative building is in Anchorage and there are times when the Governor doesn’t want to live in Juneau and the legislature doesn’t want to meet there.

But the signs did make us think.

Fun times are about to start in Cleveland

Donald Trump is holding a nominating convention in Cleveland in a few days.  The Republican National Committee arranged the dates and the venue and the delegate selection process.   It did not, however, arrange for Donald Trump and that’s why this could be the most entertaining national convention in years.

Conventions have degenerated into carefully orchestrated infomercials but this year the orchestration has turned severely dissonant.  We might actually watch this convention.

Governor Nixon has withheld $115 million dollars approved for spending by the legislature after getting a look at state tax collections and deciding they’re not trending in the right direction to support that spending.  Several legislative leaders have done some huffing and puffing about the action.  We’ll see in September if they want to take the responsibility that will go with overriding the vetoes. The problem with overriding the withholds is that the legislature will bear the sole responsibility if the economy continues to struggle and there really isn’t money available to pay the bills. But so what? By then, there will be a new governor and the legislature will have a lot of new faces so it will be THEIR problem.

Overriding the withholds might not mean much other than the legislature saying, “It’s okay to spend the money.”   The Governor can still tell his department directors to be guided by his withholds.  By January, 2017, his successor will have a better handle on the fiscal outlook to decide whether to give his department directors the same message.  Overriding governor’s spending restrictions then amounts to little.  Legislative grandstanding, maybe.

We’ve been kind of quiet for the last few days being increasingly unimpressed by the political commercials we’re seeing.  They either have no real substance to them or they’re pitchforks-and-broadswords and show no qualities that encourage many disaffected voters to have any increased confidence that we have or will have a rational government in Missouri.

The real reason we haven’t had much to say is because we’re trying to figure out what we can say about our two weeks (more or less) in Alaska. Most of those who have taken a look at the place find themselves lacking adequate superlatives to describe what they’ve experienced and witnessed.


Denali, from forty miles away.  The highest mountain in the United States. Some people still call it Mt. McKinley.  As impressive as Denali is, remember this:  Everest is about fifty percent bigger.                                                          —-

We passed through Wassilla.  Saw the former Sarah Palin place.  The only things visible from her house are the railroad tracks, a shopping mall, and a whole lot of trees. We were told she lives in Arizona now.  We wonder if she can see New Mexico from there.

Borrowing a song

Australia has a national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair,” but in 1987, Bruce Woodley of the great Australian singing group, The Seekers, got together with Dobe Newton, who was with another group, The Bushwhackers, to write “We are Australian.”  There are those who have suggested it be the new national anthem.  It is often taught in that country’s primary schools.

We wonder if, in this year of division and anger, an arranger might look at that song and Americanize it.  It might become a theme song at one of the major party political conventions although there are reasons to hope not. It probably would not be good at the first one, given some of the things the presumptive nominee has said.  Maybe not even the second one either, come to think of it, although it might be the better fit of the two.

Although an Americanized version of the song could light up one of our conventions, we wonder if we are so far down a sorry road that it would have no meaning in such a climate.  And given our politics today, it probably would be a mockery to try to make it a convention song. In fact, we regret even bringing up the possibility. We’re not sure our Australian friends would appreciate their song being used in such a setting.  There are much better venues.  We hope that they would be complimented that our country values the sentiments of this tune.

The lyrics of We are Australian speak of a diverse nation’s history and its people—not all of whom are the most reputable.  The important thing that is emphasized, however, is that despite everything and everybody, they are a single people and it is the united people that have made Australia a great nation.

I came from the Dreamtime*

From the dusty red soil plains

I am the ancient heart

The keeper of the flames

I stood upon the rocky shore

I watched the tall ships come

For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian.

I came upon the prison ships

Bound down by iron chains

I fought the land

Endured the lash

And waited for the rains.

I’m a settler,

I’m a farmers wife

On a dry and barren run,

A convict then a free man

I became Australian.

I’m a daughter of a digger

Who sought the mother lode.

The girl became a woman

On the long and dusty road.

I’m a child of the depression;

I saw the good time come.

I’m a bushy, I’m a battler.

I am Australian

We are one

But we are many

And from all the lands on earth we come

We’ll share a dream

And sing with one voice

I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m a teller of stories.

I’m a singer of songs

I am Albert Namatjira.

And I paint the ghostly gums.

I’m Clancy on his horse.

I’m Ned Kelly on the run.

I’m the one who waltzed matilda.

I am Australian.

I’m the hot wind from the desert.

I’m the black soil of the plain.

I’m the mountains and the valleys.

I’m the drought and flooding rains.

I am the rock.

I am the sky,

The rivers when they run,

The spirit of this great land.

I am Australian.

We are one,

But we are many.

And from all the lands on earth we come.

We’ll share a dream

And sing with one voice:

I am, you are, we are Australian

We are one

But we are many.

And from all the lands on earth we come.

We’ll share a dream

And sing with one voice:

I am, you are

We are Australian

I am, you are

We are Australian

(*”Dreamtime” refers to the ancient Australian aboriginal creation myths, similar to the creation myths of our Native Americans.)

You can watch The Seekers perform this song at:

If you aren’t old enough to remember the Seekers, perhaps this piece from 60 Minutes (2012) will be helpful:


Youtube has some of their concerts. They were and are incredible.  And Judith Durham’s voice is memorable.

In the wake of the Independence Day holiday, we have found ourselves wondering which of our major patriotic songs speak to us as a whole people the way We Are Australian speaks of Australia?   My Country ‘Tis of Thee memorializes our founders.  America the Beautiful speaks of natural resources and founding heroes.  The Star Spangled Banner is about the symbolism of our flag.  Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Our Land speaks of a depression era America.  Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, the number one country patriotic song according to one poll, speaks of pride in being an American and a willingness to defend the country.  But we don’t seem to have a patriotic song that speaks specifically of our country in reference to its people—as We Are Australian does.  Nothing musically expresses E Pluribus Unum, “Out of Many, One,” which appears on our national seal and on our currency.

“American” and “Australian” can be sung with the same number of syllables. And the lyrics can be slightly changed to reflect our culture (perhaps including Jesse James instead of Ned Kelly).

God Save the Queen (or King, when appropriate) was Americanized by Samuel Francis Smith, who wrote the new lyrics in half an hour in 1831. So borrowing from the English empire is not a new thing musically for us.

Maybe it would be good for the national spirit if we could sing—and believe when we sing:

“We are one.  But we are many.  And from all lands on earth we come.  We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice.  I am, you are, we are American.”

I am,

you are,

we are


Trumpvention week

We’re going to spend some time today kind of talking inside baseball stuff.

The Missourinet has sent our Director of News Services, Ashley Byrd, to Cleveland for a week to see if chaos does, indeed, erupt and to report on the Missouri delegation’s role in the most unusual national political convention the Missourinet has ever covered.

Ashley is based at the Learfield News Division nerve center in Jefferson City. She oversees all of our networks in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

Covering national political conventions has been an essential part of the existence of the Msisourinet since we sent Jeff Smith (now a retired Northwest Airlines VP in Minneapolis) and Chuck Morris (who now is a Christian radio host in California) to the conventions in 1976. The Missourinet was formed to fill a void in broadcast reporting in Missouri—covering state government. And covering Missouri’s delegation to the national conventions remains part of that purpose. Our delegations have had their ups and downs as far as influence at conventions, but the Missourinet has always felt it’s important for the people of this state hear about Missouri’s participation in the process.

It’s been quite a while since Missourians expressed their preference for the Republican candidates—it was March. To refresh your memory: There were a lot of candidates still on the ballot then although some already had thrown in the towel. Trump got 40.844% of the vote. Ted Cruz got 40.634. John Kasich got 10.099 and the rest picked up the crumbs that fell off the table.

The list of convention speakers released this weekend includes no names from Missouri. And don’t look for the Missouri delegation on your teevee. The seating chart shows a center section of delegates from New York, Florida, and Tennessee. In the first right-hand section (looking at the stage), Missouri is behind Wisconsin, South Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island and apparently a few seats might be across the aisle in an area occupied by Georgia, North Carolina,

and American Samoa.

Cleveland, we hear, is kind of nervous about this whole business, partly because of the turmoil that Trump creates and partly because of recent incidents of mass violence. Almost two square miles of downtown Cleveland is considered an event zone that has security restrictions. And things are really tight in the convention center neighborhood. Our reporters dealt with the security hassles at conventions four years ago and indications are that Cleveland is going to be even tighter. But we’d rather have our reporters covering the news than being an unfortunate part of the news in Cleveland.

Be watching the Missourinet social media pages and the webpage all week for Ashley’s updates and listening to your Missourinet affiliates station’s newscasts.                                                                                                                             —

We’ll be waiting for a report on a tap-dance at the convention that could make Riverdance seem like a box-step.   One of the speakers is Ted Cruz, who in Indianapolis on March 3 called Trump “utterly amoral” a “narcissist,” a “serial philanderer,” and “a pathological liar.”   Trump used his Cruz designation of “Lyin’ Ted” several times during the campaign, including during a debate in May.

If you call a guy a liar who has called you a liar, should anybody believe anything good you say about each other later?

We wonder if the convention band will play a tune from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I:

When the last little star has left the sky,

Shall we still be together

With our arms around each other

And shall you be my new romance?

On the clear understanding

That this kind of thing can happen,

Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?

Shall we Dance?


We did see one report from a Wall Street Journal reporter that RNC folks have gotten real busy at the last minute replacing signs in the convention center reading “White elevators.”   Such signs don’t play well, given some of the comments from the party’s presumptive nominee, of course.   We’ve been in a lot of convention centers and we know they’re often marked for different zones for the convenience of attendees which leads us to wonder—because we are left without some information that might have been included in the story—whether there are blue elevators or green elevators or other color elevators in other zones of the building.

Some folks might think the elevator brouhaha is a matter of over-sensitivity. But accidental or not, they’re also seen as signs of the times at the Trumpvention.


We need to mention here that Mike Lear, who was one of those convention reporters four years ago, has joined the staff of the information office of the Missouri House of Representatives. Mike’s last day at the Missourinet was Friday. The House Information Office where he starts working this week is non-partisan. Republicans and Democrats seem to think they each need to have their partisan voices separate from the information office and are spending taxpayer money to pay people to make sure you know the two parties don’t like each other.

Mike was with us for about five years. We brought him in after long-time Managing Editor Brent Martin was promoted to the news directorship of our network in Nebraska. Mike was an outstanding reporter for us and he was great to work with. We spent a lot of late hours in our Capitol newsroom during legislative sessions, putting together our stories for the next morning after the Senators and Representatives had left for the day.   Mike was our food-scrounger. He was the one who knew where to find the leftover food from dinners brought in to feed House committee members.   Yes, we wound up eating a lot of food provided by lobbyists but we never knew which lobbyist had done the committees favors each night so we never worried about showing any preference for any cause of issue—other than making sure we didn’t go hungry.

The Capitol Press Corps has lost a good reporter. But his wife and five daughters will be gaining a husband and father with more time to spend with them because he’ll be working more regular hours and will have weekends and holidays off.


Taking over Mike’s slot in the Missourinet newsroom is Brian Hauswirth. Brian is a newsie through and through. We’ve known him for several years from days when he was in local radio in Jefferson City and Moberly and respected his work in both places. He’s been the Assignment Editor at KMIZ-TV in Columbia for the last few years, hungering for a chance to get back to face-to-face reporting.

three generations

The other night, at a going-away gathering for Mike at Prison Brews, we asked affiliate relations director Mike Cady to get a picture of the three generations of Missourinet leaders. That’s Brian on the left, Mike in the middle, and your correspondent on the right. We hope it’s a long time before a four-generation picture is taken.


Mayhem, 1924

Perhaps you’ve seen the “Mayhem, like me” television commercials for an insurance company—a guy who is always causing various kinds of incidents, accidents, crashes, and explosions.  Mayhem.

Dean Winters is the actor’s name and he is no stranger to mayhem. Seven years ago he collapsed in his doctor’s office where he’d gone for treatment of a bacterial infection.  He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and was revived by paramedics, then was in the intensive care unit at a hospital for three weeks.  During the next year, gangrene cost him two toes and half of one thumb. He also had ten operations including a skin graft.  After living through mayhem he became “Mayhem” in 2010.

It’s not a new advertising concept.  As we were recently leafing through the program for the St. Louis Fashion Pageant of 1924 (historical research takes the researcher on some interesting side journeys), an ad for the Missouri State Life Insurance Company sounded a familiar theme:

I ride on the point of a pin.                                                                                                     

Or the pilot of a locomotive. 

I lurk in the bottom of the bathtub with a cake of soap.

Or in the shaky corner of a skyscraper—

I cling to the baby’s toy automobile left at the top of the stairs.

Or sit in the driver’s seat with the near-sighted motorist who won’t wear glasses—

I fly through the air with the sign wrenched loose by the wind

And with the cinders borne from the spouting chimney—

I stalk the hunter as he pursues the fleeting rabbit.

And slink behind the errand boy who eats a banana and throws away the peel—

I am ever present.

I am—

                                    An Accident

There is only one protection against me—

                                Accident Insurance

                         GET YOURS TOMORROW

All the reader had to do was call the St. Louis Branch of the insurance company at Central 1700.

Other than “cinders…from a spouting chimney,” all of these dangers remain ninety-two years later.  Mayhem never goes away—although sometimes it adjourns for a few months.