Went to see Emmylou Harris tonight

It wasn’t like this: (First, public buildings inherently suck. Second, the jam and carry on thing seems dead. Play popular songs, familiar songs to satisfy fans.  Maybe they just need to get loaded.)



Jimi and Sergei

I call Dawn’s choral director in Mason City the Jimi Hendrix of choral music. He snickers. I was fortunate to attend a Jimi Hendrix concert in 1968 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. That’s where the Oscars yawner occurs nowadays, I’m told. Jimi had a way with a guitar and amp that couldn’t be captured on a recording. I sat up high and in front of him that night. I was reminded of Hendrix as we listened to some other gifted musicians in Iowa City last week. The tickets were 27 times more expensive but the seats were in a similar relationship to the stage. It’s been since about that time 50 years ago, that I’ve craved the opportunity to hear Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. My mom had it on LP with Jascha Heifetz on violin with the Chicago Symphony and I wore it out. It was rumored that the piece was once deemed unplayable because of its difficulty. Hendrix brought his own sound equipment to a venue that was privately built and owned. His performance was like being transported to another world, every note a distinct part of a united whole. The concert in Hancher Auditorium was imperfect in two ways, both of them of little consequence. Violin soloist, Lisa Batiashvili was under pitch on one note, according to my wife, Dawn. Maybe
that was on purpose so we didn’t think it was fake, because her incredible talent might make it seem so. Also, the sound was a little dead, with some of the soloist’s notes being lost in the orchestral accompaniment. The best part was after intermission with Rachmaninoff’s, “Symphonic Dances, Op. 45.” I never really got into the guy that much, maybe because the ’60s were such a rich musical time for contemporary music. I didn’t need to look further. We thought the Sergei Rachmaninoff piece surpassed the violin concerto. I’ve always thought that good music is like driving on a country road. Settle in and drive, or be driven. It goes somewhere. Rachmaninoff constantly surprises us. This is no over-regulated NASCAR oval track. To think I came for the violin concerto and was elevated even further. I’m so blessed. Hancher auditorium sent an email asking for comments, and that is how this column started. As I read the notes in the program, I found that Rachmaninoff had fled Russia and the Revolution of 1917 to the United States. Here we were in Iowa City where anyone would agree the predominant opinion would support the communists over the czars of 1917 and everyone is giving an enthusiastic standing ovation for the work of an artist who knew better. There has been a lot of negative rhetoric about “Russian influence” lately. I suggest we focus on the positive. The Russians, with Iran’s help, defeated ISIS. As a grand Christmas present to themselves they threw out the communists, who had murdered 90 million people just to make it fair on December 25, 1991. I wasn’t antagonistic to any of those leftists in Iowa City. And they were friendly to me, in spite of my “smash the state” t-shirt. As default position, we should peacefully share with other people of the world. We have a lot to offer each other


There is a show on public radio called Marketplace, even though every sound uttered there is about political manipulation of markets. It should be called Anti-Marketplace.

Kai Ryssdal was interviewing a leader of a tile manufacturers group who stated that tariffs would not raise prices. No follow through on this ridiculous claim?

There is hardly a product produced anymore whose price is not driven up by politics. And none of it is necessary to make the product better in any way. Only to feather the nests of the well connected.

Constitution Day

This is the week of September 17, Constitution Day. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia added this special day to an omnibus spending bill in 2004. It is also referred to as Citizenship and Constitution Day.

This amendment requires any school that receives federal funding to have a program on this date commemorating and educating about The Constitution, and every federal agency is to provide educational materials to all federal employees on this date.

Several years ago we read about a Constitution Day program at NIACC that was open to the public. The teacher there spoke of the “flexible clause.” It didn’t take long to decipher it as the “general welfare clause.” As the name implies, it gives a general reason for the existence of The Constitution and so, the federal government.

The focus for this teacher was the overriding idea that anything the federal government can do to benefit its citizens, trumps (sorry) the rules and amendments stated in the rest of The Constitution. It seemed odd that he would then stop the discussion mid-sentence at exactly three o’clock despite the lively discussion and raised hands. But rules are rules, eh?

Why would The Constitution open with a statement allowing the government to do absolutely anything and then go on to list its duties, even stating that the states or the people are the only ones who may do that which is not on that list? When it says “promote the general welfare,” it refers to the purpose of the document then goes on to outline how that is to be done.

The damage done to our republic by an unconstitutional government is so vast and yet we still enjoy a lifestyle unimaginable just a hundred years ago. We have to give credit to the remnants of a free market that proves how powerful freedom is.

It is important to look at the practical side of a strict constitutional government. As a kid, I remember looking up “flags” in the encyclopedia. I gazed at the page with dozens of colorful national flags. Every country has a flag. Only ours has a constitution designed to protect each person from the aggression of another.

Yet, our flag is bordering on being a religious symbol to many, while The Constitution is routinely ignored or scoffed at; even by people who call themselves “constitutional conservatives.”

In practical terms what difference does it make?

A perfect example of the different world created by an unconstitutional government is being played out in the Carolinas right now. Very few people who will lose their homes in Hurricane Florence have flood insurance and almost all of that is federal insurance.

The West Fork of the Cedar River runs through our farm. We know what a flood looks like. We’ve lost cattle in a flood. The farmstead is not in the floodplain. It makes us wonder why all these people build in floodplains.

Although I don’t think there are many who conspire to take advantage of federal disaster aid, the fact that it exists makes it more likely that dream home will be built. On a beautiful day it is hard to imagine filthy floodwater lapping at your windowsill. The wording of The Constitution makes it plain that the federal government was not intended to be an insurance company.

The free market I mentioned is destroyed by federal insurance of any kind. It is more correct to call it welfare or robbery.

There are many more examples of disasters caused by unconstitutional government:

  • If war had been required to be declared by Congress instead of that authority passed to the president, as has been done in every war since World War II, our representatives wouldn’t be able to pass the blame (for the 58,000 lives lost in Vietnam or the 6,000 lost in the Middle East) onto the president. Think of the scientific advancements that may have been discovered by one of those lost lives.
  • If the modern welfare state had never gained traction and private charity had remained as the prime benefactor of those in need, the culture of dependence that has robbed us of a our sense of community and family would not have grown into a major part of our economy.
  • If the system of business incentives and disincentives that has grown to be a major part of all business had never been allowed, we may have found all kinds of different products or processes not connected to powerful lobbies.

Robert Byrd’s pocket Constitution was smaller than a pack of cigarettes. We should stop waving the flag and start waving The Constitution in the faces of our representatives.