Birthday girl

This little bit of trouble came into the world on this date in 1942, just a few months after Pearl Harbor. Arriving two months early, she weighed in at 3 1/2 pounds. “About the size of a little bag of sugar and just as sweet,” her daddy said. A box by a wood-burning stove was prescribed by the attending country doctor as an incubator.

Her brother, then 16, and sisters, 14 and 12, have related many stories from those earliest days, including waking her up before they left for school just so they could play with her. Many older cousins joined in the fun of spoiling her.

A German shepherd puppy, “Jack Dog,” a gift from her uncle when she was six months old, became her constant companion and protector until he died when she was nine.

Her sister called her last night to tell her once more about the day she went missing and how Jack Dog led them to find her “sitting atop the wood pile laughing at everyone.” She also threw in the story of how the little girl tried to flush her beautiful new prom dress down the toilet.

Her earliest memories include a red velvet coat and hat, a gift from her sister, and seeing a movie where a white-gloved hand walked up and down stairs and played a piano.

To this day, 66 years later, she still celebrates life, and her birthdays make her feel like a happy kid!

A young niece once said her epitaph should be, “She lived until she died and outlived us all.” What a lovely thought.

To celebrate the day – and her 6,000th blog visitor – she has decided to give up blogging and devote more time to her beloved books, movies and music and to the special people in her life.

With deepest appreciation to all who have dropped by to read and to comment. I’ve learned a lot from the blogging experience and from your thoughts.

B. J. Trotter
Anderson, SC


Giddy ditty or rhyme of reason?

Throughout the day and half the night,
MSNBC joined in the fight
To boost Obama in P-A;
He’s closing the gap, they did say.

They crunched the numbers all day long,
“Obama’s a shoo-in, he can’t go wrong.”
You’d think these overzealous fools
Would stop and read the DNC rules.

Tim and Tom, Keith and Chris
Juggling numbers would insist
She cannot win the nomination;
Obama is the big sensation.

As soon as the last vote was cast,
Keith could announce at last,
To the delight of one and all,
“This race is too close to call.”

As they critiqued and harangued,
Keith said, “The terminolgy’s changed,”
The vote’s not close after all,
“This race is too early to call.”

As the tally monted, keeping score,
Keith said, “The margin’s down to four!”
MSNBC’s boys began to fidget;
“She cannot get a double digit.”

I saw this sideshow in New Hampshire,
And one thing is for damn sure:
Despite the spin, when votes were in,
Hillary was a perfect 10.

She told supporters, “The tide is turning.”
Across this nation there’s a yearning –
A growing sense of finality –
For a fighter who’ll deal with reality.

Her speech was “great,” Chris admitted.
Keith opined, she’s not acquitted.
With the panache of a Hulk Hogan,
He declared she “mocked Obama’s slogan.”

“He’s got the crowds, He’s got the money. He’s got the media,” but ain’t it funny,
Buchanan asked his TV mates,
“Why can’t he win the bigger states?”

They closed their anti-Hillary blitz
Demanding that she call it quits.
The jig’s up, boys, you cannot spin it,
The lady’s tough; she’s in it to win it!


'Hell freezes over'

Some four or five years ago, I was seated at my computer in the early morning hours when my chair shifted momentarily as if sitting in a bowl of Jello. “That was an earthquake,” I said out loud. I went to the Web site of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Center and filled out a report. This was a first for me, and I though it might, at least, establish that the effects of the 4.2 earthquake, centered in northern Alabama, had been felt by a novice in northwest South Carolina.

Early Friday morning, seated on my loveseat listening to Dickens, I felt the same sensation underfoot. I knew immediately another temblor had occurred. This one, at 5.4, was farther away and to the northwest.

Neither tremor shook me up as much as the well-reported change of heart of one Richard Mellon Scaife toward Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In the past year I’ve listened to Bill Clinton’s “My Life,” “Living History” by Hillary Rodham Clinton, David Brock’s “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative,” and “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton” by Carl Bernstein. I know who Richard Mellon Scaife is.

During Bill Clinton’s administration, billionaire Scaife spent the collective GDP of four or five Third World nations and a couple of South American Banana Republics on a one-man effort to destroy the Democratic president and first lady.

Since Brock, now manning the liberal media watchdog site, Media Matters for America, was Scaife’s #1 hired gun, I recommend his book – a gutsy romp, a nonfiction roman à clef which doesn’t bother disguising the pin-stripe-suited, cigar-smoking young men and leopard-skin-skirted young women of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Brock and his fellow conspirators turned out reams of anti-Clinton tripe in the pages of the Scaife-backed American Spectator magazine and other right-wing media. Absolutely nothing stuck except a bit of DNA on a blue dress.

On Sunday, 30 March 2008, Scaife wrote the following editorial in his newspaper, the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune-Review:

Hillary, reassessed

Hillary Clinton walked into a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review conference room last Tuesday to meet with some of the newspaper's editors and reporters and declared, "It was so counterintuitive, I just thought it would be fun to do."
The room erupted in laughter. Her remark defused what could have been a confrontational meeting.

More than that, it said something about the New York senator and former first lady who hopes to be America's next president.

More than most modern political figures, Sen. Clinton has been criticized regularly, often harshly, by the Trib. We disagreed with many of her policies and her actions in the past. We still disagree with some of her proposals.

The very morning that she came to the Trib, our editorial page raised questions about her campaign and criticized her on several other scores.

Reading that, a lesser politician -- one less self-assured, less informed on domestic and foreign issues, less confident of her positions -- might well have canceled the interview right then and there.

Sen. Clinton came to the Trib anyway and, for 90 minutes, answered questions.

Her meeting and her remarks during it changed my mind about her.

Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to expect (or even, perhaps, expecting the worst), took courage and confidence. Not many politicians have political or personal courage today, so it was refreshing to see her exhibit both.

Sen. Clinton also exhibited an impressive command of many of today's most pressing domestic and international issues. Her answers were thoughtful, well-stated, and often dead-on.

Particularly regarding foreign policy, she identified what we consider to be the most important challenges and dangers that the next president must confront and resolve in order to guarantee our nation's security. Those include an increasingly hostile Russia, an increasingly powerful China and increasing instability in Pakistan and South America.

Like me, she believes we must pull our troops out of Iraq, because it is time for Iraqis to handle their own destiny -- and, more important, because it is past time to end the toll on our soldiers there, to begin rebuilding our military, and to refocus our attention on other threats, starting with Afghanistan.

On domestic policy, Sen. Clinton and I might find more areas on which we disagree. Yet we also agree on others. Asked about the utter failure of federal efforts to rebuild New Orleans since the Katrina disaster, for example, she called it just what it has been -- "not just a national disgrace (but) an international embarrassment."

Does all this mean I'm ready to come out and recommend that our Democrat readers choose Sen. Clinton in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary?

No -- not yet, anyway. In fairness, we at the Trib want to hear Sen. Barack Obama's answers to some of the same questions and to others before we make that decision.

But it does mean that I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today than before last Tuesday's meeting -- and it's a very favorable one indeed.

Call it a "counterintuitive" impression.


It’s called “spunk.” I like spunk!


On Sunday, 20 April 2008, Scaife’s newspaper endorsed Clinton. The headline on Editor & Publisher’s report on the endorsement said it all: “Hell freezes over.”


Paying the piper


Barack Obama supporters are livid over the “piling on” he got from ABC debate moderators last week – a 52-minute “free association test” of Obama’s “my bads.”

Were they paying attention early Sunday morning when Fox News’ “The Beltway Boys” – Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke – delivered a potentially lethal litany of Obama’s “unpatriotic” leanings?

Seems an appropriate moment to recycle my post from 17 December 2007. Bear in mind, dear reader, that Obama is now the perceived frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.


On the evening after Election 2006, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews hit the ground running with a one-man campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Soon, others fell in behind this modern-day Pied Piper of politics.

“To see the townsfolk suffer so
from vermin, was a pity.”

As I pointed out, on this blog, the growing media bias, I was told, quite frankly, that it was a product of my perception – by the very pesons who are now screaming “foul.”

“By drowning their speaking
with shrieking and squeaking in fifty different sharps and flats.”


Maybe Obama supporters will pay more attention to the post’s premise now that the shoe is on the other foot.

“Folks who put me in a passion may find me pipe after another fashion.''



Method in MSNBC's madness

My veins still run with newspaper ink, and I still love the institution of journalism. Real journalism. Ethical reporting.

I confess: I have been addicted to politics and news since I was a child. Both were discussed at our family dinner table. I can remember lying on our living room floor reading the daily newspaper which landed on our front porch. The “Brenda Starr” comic strip led me as a kid to dream of a career in newspapering.

Because I love the Fourth Estate – and still believe in its potential power to right the wrongs – I am deeply troubled by what cable news is imparting under the non sequitur “news.”

Perhaps as a defense against spin, distortion and lies now disguised as “news,” I am compelled to keep myself informed.

This background leads me to this conclusion: MSNBC is swift-boating Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Opinion” shows such as “Morning Joe,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “Tucker,” “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “Live with Dan Abrams” aside, the personal attacks on this candidate for the presidency have spilled over into the so-called news segments throughout the day.

Those of you who despise Senator Clinton have your reasons and are entitled to them. But, if you approve the PERSONAL attacks on her and her campaign, you are turning a blind eye to ethics in journalism.

MSNBC has long been my cable news source of choice, although I do trust CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at 4 p.m. ET to give me a thorough and reliable daily news wrap.

From 5 a.m. ET up until the nightly tabloid, “Doc Block” at 10, I have heard reporting on Senator Clinton’s campaign which spins, distorts and takes out of context its every effort.

There is no attempt at subtlety. Whether her laugh is called a “cackle” or her campaign workers called “surrogates,” MSNBC’s campaign against Clinton is aimed at those who do not think for or inform themselves.

To my chagrin, I have seen long-respected journalists such as Tim Russert, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, David Shuster join in these unrelenting jabs at the Clinton juggernaut.

(I hope you will remind yourself, dear reader, what this same select group did to Don Imus.)

There’s no need to even mention Fox News.

Big media is after the Democratic frontrunner.

Have you asked yourself “Why?”

There are two reasons, and they both involve profits.

The first, simply put, is “conflict sells.”

The other is a little more complicated. As you read this, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is ready to “open the floodgate” to further media consolidation.

Here’s what freepress.net has to say:

“If FCC Chairman Kevin Martin gets his way, your community will be inundated with even more mass-produced celebrity gossip and infotainment, and less local reporting and quality journalism: more of the junk news that is making us sick.

“Martin wants to ‘Super Size’ Big Media, allowing companies like Gannett, News Corp and Tribune to swallow up even more local TV, newspaper and radio outlets. Martin wants to let one company own both the major newspapers and a TV station in your hometown, drowning out the few remaining independent voices, so that media moguls like Rupert Murdoch can expand their empires.”

So, you ask, what has this got to do with MSNBC’s campaign against Hillary Clinton?

Well, everything.

When it became apparent that Senator Clinton was the frontrunner, outpolling candidates of both parties, cable news went into overdrive to stop the Democrat most likely to succeed.

By attempting to marginalize both Hillary and Bill Clinton and promoting candidates which, in my opinion, cannot carry the national vote, “big media” will keep in place an FCC which is favorable to both profits and expansion.

I remember the words of a former executive editor, who, when I complained our inside pages “news hole” (space left after advertisements are inserted) was too small, said, “It’s a business. If you don’t want it to be a business, you had better get out.” I did.

So, now you know: there’s method in MSNBC’s (and Matthews’) madness.

I will support and work to elect the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she is, but I did that in 2000 and 2004.

I honestly believe the one person who could win back the White House – and turn this country around - is at the mercy of an unethical media. If these personal attacks succeed, you just wait to see what they do to the Democratic Party’s nominee.

That “food for worms,” Benjamin Franklin, who chose “printer” as his sole epitaph, must be spinning in his Philadelphia grave.

And, when there’s a Republican taking the oath of office in January 2009, I will refer you back to this post. –END-


“For dolts that can't or won't determine what's best to rid us of our vermin! … Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking to find the remedy we're lacking, or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!''



* Hillary Clinton goes one-on-one with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, tonight at 8 ET.

· Hillary Clinton will be on CNN’s “Larry King Live” tonight at 9 ET.
· Barack Obama will appear on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central, tonight at 11 ET/PT.
· Tuesday: Pennsylvania Primary.
· Tuesday is Earth Day.


ABC debate moderators catch hell

As explained in the previous post, I missed ABC’s Democratic debate in Philadelphia.

In addition to the transcript (LINK), I have read numerous critiques, all lambasting the debate moderators.

To be fair, the bulk of these were written by obvious Barack Obama supporters who thought he was treated unfairly. I am a Clinton supporter, and I agree.

On the other hand, most TV pundits I’ve seen since the debate have declared Clinton the clear winner – in terms of overall advantage.

Of the many articles I’ve read, here are two which stand out as most informative:


“Numerous media figures have criticized George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson, moderators of the Democratic presidential debate on ABC, or the subject matter of the event, in part or in whole, as "shoddy [and] despicable," "specious and gossipy," "cringe-worthy," "banal," consisting of "tabloid trivia," "flat-out repulsive," "embarrassing," "seem[ingly] slanted against [Sen. Barack] Obama," "shameful," and "an outrage." READ MORE


Nothing like an ethical and ticked-off journalist to get my attention. In this open letter to the two moderators, Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Daily News reminds them – and us – of a free press’ obligation to serve the citizenry. Bunch is angry, yet manages to turn all that venomous energy into an outstanding critique. READ MORE

Wouldn’t you know it! The one debate of this long campaign season which I’ve missed turns out to be a lollapalooza of lame journalism! That would have set my keyboard afire!



I am sorry to say I fell asleep about 15 minutes into last night’s Democratic debate in Philadelphia, but not before I saw where it was going.

Apparently, ABC went negative in a crucial moment when the candidates – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – needed to fine tune their differences and show the nation theirs is a better way.

I stayed up until 3 a.m., hoping ABC would reair the show, but the network felt it more important to show infomercials, or “paid programming” as it’s called now.

The transcript (LINK), copied and pasted to Microsoft Word on 18-point font is 101 pages – and so much is lost in a written transcript. But, I will read it.

I very much would like your take on the debate. To comment, click on “Comments” below, type in your comment, select “Name/URL,” and when the new screen comes up, scroll up until you see a place on the right to type in your name, then click on “Publish.”

I look forward to what YOU have to say!


Sounds familiar!

Portions of The New York Times’ lead editorial today sound an awful lot like my post, “In Defense of Barack Obama” on 14 April (LINK)

Read the NYT editorial: LINK

The NYT and I agree Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have better fish to fry than to be going after each other over guns and religion.

Watch the debate between the two Democratic contenders TONIGHT on ABC at 8 ET/PT. Moderators will be Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.


My left eye

Thought I would follow up with the report I got yesterday on the problem with my left eye – my so-called “good eye,” but first a little math.

Five minutes ago, Forbes reported the cost of oil has reached an all-time high at $113 a barrel.

The price of the antibiotic eyedrops needed to treat my eye is $3,090,278.40 a barrel. I figured it up.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I haven’t had a prescription filled in years. I’ll get over the shock in a week or two.

The retina specialist says I have an infection which can be a “recurring condition” and has a name so long I didn’t think it worth the effort to remember.

The feeling of having something in the eye is being caused by a "swollen area" on my eyeball. Nice.

A week of the eyedrops should clear up the infection and, hopefully, the blurring which has greatly hamped my computer activity of late.

$3,090,278.40 a barrel. My God!


In defense of Barack Obama

Our hobbit friend Frodo (BLOG LINK) had predicted, even before George W. Bush took office, that one day his approval rating would drop to 24 percent.

On Thursday the Associated Press poll showed Dubya’s approval rating at 27 percent. It’s really scary: to think that 27 percent of Americans think Bush is doing a “good job.”

Who, then, was responsible for Bush’s re-election in 2004? Primarily, one-issue voters, who I suspect remain in the approving percentile.

To be sure, within that 27 percent are the people squawking loudest about the following remarks made at a San Francisco fundraiser by Sen. Barack Obama:

“So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,”

The premise in all this media uproar is that these one-issue voters have been insulted. It’s a shame they cannot see it as an opportunity for soul-searching self-improvement.

Given the fact that Democratic strategist James Carville has described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle,” I have no problem with the camps of senators Clinton and McCain claiming Obama is “out of touch” with voters (NY Times, 12 April 2008, LINK). This is, after all, a heated political contest. All three candidates now have been victims of a 24/7 cable news and Internet smorgasbord of soundbites blown entirely out of proportion in a frenzied rebirth of “yellow journalism.”

My regular readers know I’ve supported Hillary Clinton since she entered this mad race. Barack Obama doesn’t need me to defend him. He’s got Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Jack Cafferty and a whole host of reporters and pundits to do that. Let’s just say, then, that I am defending the truth.

“Out of touch?” “San Francisco liberal elitism?” “Condescending?”

Like it or not, Sen. Obama is right. What he’s talking about is what got Bush re-elected and could very well result in a McCain presidency. Let me exlain.

I once read that certain pooh-bahs, potentates, sheiks, emirs, princes, kings and other rulers in the oil-rich Middle East encourage hatred of Americans because it takes the minds of impoverished peoples off their fleets of Rolls Royces. Made sense to me.

Similarly, the Republican Party – with, in my opinion, a platform of hate - wants to take the minds of lower- and middle-class Americans off the problems which plague them.

Wouldn’t do for Americans in need to realize the Democratic Party is more populist, more in tune to their needs, more dedicated to solving their problems.

Suddenly, it’s incredulous that Sen. Obama would say such a thing? Gimme a break. This is not a novel idea: it’s rooted in the political strategies of Lee Atwater and his protégé Karl Rove and melded into the frontline in a cultural war.

How does the GOP accomplish this? In recent election cycles, they have brought out those old “hot-button” emotional issues, “God, gays, guns and abortion.” Under the auspices of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn), they even threw in flag-burning, gay marriage and poor Terri Schiavo. As Obama points out, immigration and trade have been stirred into the caldron.

Anything to take American minds off education; health care; the economy; energy, fuel and grocery prices; job losses; housing foreclosures and other problems close to home.

Nice diversions from the debacle in Iraq.

These red herrings create one-issue voters who ignore the candidates most likely to improve their lives and vote for those who claim to champion the issues they feel morally obligated to defend.

Sen. Obama used the word “bitter.” Yes, there are Americans out there who are bitter; they are angry; they are frustrated; they feel powerless. Yesterday, in discussing “our lot in life” with a friend, I remarked that I’m not bitter, that I feel blessed when I get a break. Her reply startled me. “I’m scared,” she said.

She’s scared because she quit her job a few years ago to care for an aging parent. Her husband works hard, with little fringe benefits, to support the family. Living costs are climbing. And, with no health insurance, they can’t afford to get sick.

It is time for an awakening in this country. The Democratic Party is not made up of “far-left extremists out to destroy the American way of life,” as proclaimed by a power-hungry right-wing chorus which makes its money manipulating the “have-nots.”

I have no doubt this is what Sen. Obama was trying to say, and telling the truth will probably hurt him with some voters.

Maybe those too easily swayed by the emotion-stirring techniques of propagandists.


Flying takes a 'Lo' blow

Some things never change. The safety of flying is being scrutinized once more, so it seems appropriate to recycle this column published in the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail, 20 July 1987. Enjoy!


Arguments for flying jumbo jets take a ‘Lo’ blow

By B. J. Trotter

My poor husband wants to take a European vacation, but our ’75 Caprice Classic won’t make it.

I once bought a waste-of-time paperback by Erica Jong because its title expressed my greatest phobia, “Fear of Flying.” The book, if I recall, was about sex and dirty toenails and never even mentioned airplanes.

Actually, it’s misleading to say I have a fear of flying. I first “slipped the surly bonds of Earth” at the age of four in a small plane piloted by my dad. I remember looking down with delight on ribbon-roads with crawling ant-cars. It’s those big, super, jumbo jets that scare me to death.

I love Cessnas and once ventured weekend flights with a friend who owned an Aerocommander. I even tried sky-diving, making five static-line jumps: at least with sky-diving you have a parachute! The only fatality was a favorite dress, ripped while I practiced PLFs off a table. (That’s “parachute landing falls.”)

Oh, I’ve heard all the reasons to fly the jumbos: “There’s nothing to it.” “You have a couple of martinis and watch a movie, and you’re there.” “Statistically, it’s safer than driving.”

Etc., etc., and when I finally work up the courage to even consider it, the news wires move yet another crash or near-miss story.

If this is less-than-comforting, there’s more. Add to the threat of terrorism and hijacking these recent headlines (ripped right from these pages): “Pilot Lands on Wrong Runway.” “Pilots Land at Wrong Airport.” “Pilot Says Air Safety ‘on the Brink of Crisis.’” “Senators Warn Airliners to Shape Up.” “N.C. Man Pleads Guilty to Firing at Airliner.”

Suddenly, the friendly skies don’t seem so friendly.

The topper came on June 30 (1987) when a 27-year veteran pilot, shortly after takeoff from Los Angeles International Airport, mistakenly cut off fuel to both engines of his craft. The plane glided from 1,500 feet to within 600 feet of the Pacific Ocean, and passengers warned to prepare for a crash went into mass hysteria.

It’s mass hysteria which separates the Cessnas from the big ones. What I really fear is not flying, but sharing that moment of reckoning with hundreds. One-on-one, it doesn’t seem so bad.

When the big ones go down, they go down as poet Walter Benton puts it: “Without a rain check or a parachute, a key to Heaven or a last long look.”

My friends are right. Flying has to beat long treks by car or bus. (Amtrak has its own problems.) Statistically, flying is safer than driving. But, I’m serious about this. So much so that in 1982, to avoid flying, I drove a necessary 1,000 miles from Plattville, Wisc., to Jackson, Miss., in 24 hours – without sleep! So, I offer one last excuse:

Our dear Grandma Trotter is a lovely, bright woman. She gave me a better argument for not flying than any when she soothingly advised: “Remember, our Lord said, ‘Lo, I am with you always.’”

(Column photo, 1987)


A giant of a man

PHOTO: Paul Harper Hill & Mary Bell Turner Hill, 2000.


I remember a hot August day in Mississippi, a day so hot that photos show white tapers in candelabra warped from the heat. The setting was our home, and my sister Mary was marrying a tall, dark and handsome sailor.

To a 5-year-old girl Paul Harper Hill at 6’6” looked like the giants of my fairy tales, and he has remained a giant of a man for 61 years – a good man with a zest for life who never met a stranger.

Paul was a baker in the U.S. Navy aboard aircraft carriers and a destroyer in the battle zones of WWII. True to his duty of feeding the men who flew the planes and manned the decks, Paul’s love of cooking and baking remained one of life’s great joys.

One of the happiest summers of my life was spent with Mary and Paul and their little boy Johnny on Chincoteague Island in Chesapeake Bay while Paul was stationed a ferry ride away in Norfolk, Va. That summer was filled with catching crabs, steaming clams and watching the “Penny Pony Roundup” as wild Spanish ponies made the annual swim from nearby Assoteague Island. (Mary’s Sunday School teacher, Marguerite Henry, wrote of such days in her children’s classic, “Misty of Chincoteague.”)

Upon leaving the Navy in 1951, Paul worked at Colonial Bakery. To prepare himself for a career with the postal service, he attended college. He liked to joke that he took math courses to learn to convert his Navy recipes, like biscuits calling for a hundred pounds of flour, down to family size.

We had all ended up in Jackson, Miss., and I remember one day in the 50s when Paul drove up with a metal contraption which he set up in our backyard. For the first time in our lives we tasted barbecued chicken halves, and they remain the best I’ve ever eaten.

While continuing his work with the post office, Paul became a baker and cook at the Mississippi National Guard Armory. Out came the old recipes.

In 1975, Paul was awarded the Mississippi Commendation Medal, awarded to any member or former member of the Mississippi National Guard for “meritorious service.”

Gov. William Winter, a childhood friend of Paul’s in Grenada, in 1982 presented him the Mississippi Magnolia Medal for “distinguishing himself through outstanding service and extraordinary achievement in behalf of the Mississippi National Guard.”

Upon retirement, he began to bake in earnest, making mult-tiered wedding cakes for young folks in the church he served as deacon. Always there was good food, candies, cakes and pies. He was happiest in his kitchen.

When I was at the Jackson newspaper with access to free press passes, Paul and I had great fun attending plays and art auctions and the International Ballet Competition.

One Christmas Paul conspired with his grandson Phillip Hill, now working on his PhD in opera at UT-Austin, to publish a cookbook – a combination of his WWII recollections and favorite recipes titled “The Measured History of Paul Hill.” The books were surprise gifts for every member of the family, and the two guys pulled it off.

During one of those 50th anniversaries of WWII, the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., ran a full-page feature story about Paul and his cookbook. There are photos of Paul surrounded by freshly baked breads and cakes and pies. The reporter, Gary Pettus, told me he had never had a tastier assignment.

Several years ago Paul had a leg amputated. He hitched up his prosthesis and never slowed up. Then, about three years ago, he was diagnosed with a stomach aneurysm – a ticking time bomb within. I told him he was like a Timex watch: “Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.” He got a kick out of my wry sense of humor!

On the day the aneurysm ruptured he had been by the store to buy ingredients for a baking session with his daughter the next day. Miracle of miracles, he survived the aneurysm after paramedics shocked his heart and administered CPR.

Then, this 85-year-old man put up a fight, demanding surgery. His zest for life refused to yield to the inevitable.

Paul and Mary, who died in 2005 after 58 years his bride, have four children – John, Robert, Jeanette and Dovie – and they were at his bedside when he died Monday, 7 April. He leaves nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by two young granddaughters and two great-grandchildren.

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. …” I’d like to think there’s a kitchen in one where a happy reunion is taking place.

Paul will be buried today at high noon with full military honors and a 21-gun salute.


Family and friends will gather following this service at the Mary and Paul Hill Fellowship Hall at Flag Chapel Baptist Church in Jackson, named in honor of service to their church and community.

I will be there in spirit.


August 4, 1922 – April 7, 2008



Sweeping reality under the rug

There are times when I probably get a tad too personal for my readers, and this will be one such post. You know: it’s my blog, and I’ll cry if I want to!

Thanks to a friend’s generous Christmas gift several years ago I have a little “slush fund” which I dare not touch. The peace of mind it brings is priceless. Occasionally, when I’ve been able to add to it, it has allowed me to give a little to charity or lend someone a helping hand.

For months I have saved what little money I have left in “B.J.’s Boojay” (my monthly budget) toward some essential logistical changes. I have a friend coming to visit the first week in July, and she will help me rearrange my living room so I can continue to live independently.

It really does come down to that as I have lost most of my eyesight.

A shopping trip is planned for a new desk, a computer chair and a surge protector, which will allow me to move my huge videomagnifier from the opposite side of the living room to flank my computer desk.

These two wonders of technology – the computer and the videomagnifier – have allowed me to continue business and correspondence as usual. With a growing dependence on both, it has become necessary to move them to one spot so I can work from them in tandem.

Have been feeling really great about saving the necessary funds to implement these changes.

Now, for Part Two of this tale.

Red tape and forms are the BANE of the blind, and after a whole year of such activity, I was blessed to qualify for state Medicaid, which, finally, would cover the Medicare premiums for physician insurance.

I am incredibly blessed with good health, haven’t had a cold in 20 years and cannot remember the last time I had a prescription filled.

In order to qualify for the wonderful visual aids received from the South Carolina Commission for the Bling, I paid an initial visit to a “retina specialist.” There’s absolutely nothing he can do for retinitis pigmentos (RP), but he is monitoring my “good” left eye for cataracts and my blind right eye for a mole inside which “could develop into melanoma.” This monitoring has cost $270 for each yearly visit.

Nine months passed before I learned, after all the red tape, that there’s a yearly deductible to be met, and none of his fees have been covered.

Enter the health problem.

Remember the public service ad which stated “The five most dangerous words in the English language: maybe it will go away”?

About three months ago, I began to have a problem with the left eye, wherein lies my dwindling vision, possibly a cornea scratch or tear which is causing constant irritation, mucus and blurred vision.

Selfishly, I’ve clung to the “shopping savings” earmarked for July in the hopes that this problem would just “go away.” Working on the computer is becoming increasingly difficult. You would be amazed at the tricks one uses to do so.

So, having just paid the last doctor’s visit and with another check-up scheduled for August, I am looking at an unforeseen visit. Doing the math, that’s gonna get costly, a large portion of which I will pay.

Is there a point to all this, besides bitching? Yes, there is.

Much has been made over Hillary Clinton’s story of the pregnant woman who died because she didn’t have the money to be treated by a hospital. Few replays of her telling of the story have included the interview with the Ohio deputy sheriff, who related the story to Clinton during a visit in his home. Clinton merely repeated verbatim what the law enforcement officer told her. Yet, few people saw his interview.

Should Clinton’s team have vetted the story? Yes.

Here is the point of this post:

What can be deduced from the many pundits discussing this Clinton faux pas – on cable TV and the Internet - is that medical care problems like this don’t exist – a sweeping under the rug of the realities of health care in this country.

These talking heads, perched atop their comfortable pedestals, choose to ignore millions of such stories – true stories – which are happening across this country.

This, while relatively insignificant, has been one of them.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports Hillary Clinton's story was true, after all, 7 April 2008: LINK


He can't win

“He can’t win,” the media quoted Hillary Clinton. Hillary said her “I can win” statements have morphed into “He can’t win.”

Another racial slur by the Clintons, the media are claiming.

First, Bill and Hillary Clinton are not racist. I have said all along that he can’t win, and it sure has nothing to do with race.

What I have said, to make it very clear, is: this country does not elect a candidate perceived to be far left and anti-war. For far too many Americans, “liberal” is a curse word.

Of the following Democratic nominees, which ones most closely resemble Barack Obama’s political stance, and which resemble Hillary Clinton’s?

1968 – Hubert Humphrey (Richard Nixon won)
1972 – George McGovern (Richard Nixon won)
1976 – Jimmy Carter (Gerald Ford lost)
1980 – Jimmy Carter (Ronald Reagan won)
1984 – Walter Mondale (Ronald Reagan won)
1988 – Michael Dukakis (George H. W. Bush won)
1992 – Bill Clinton (George H. W. Bush lost)
1996 – Bill Clinton (Bob Dole lost)
2000 – Al Gore (George W. Bush won*)
2004 – John Kerry (George W. Bush won)

Now, look back over the Republicans to see how many losers closely resemble John McCain. With all due respect for McCain’s POW years, an examination of the winners shows military service hasn't always mattered in the voting booth.

Notice who won and who lost?

Carter, in retrospect, seems the lone exception. At the time, though, he was the bright young chairman of the Democratic National Campaign Committee, a former Naval lieutenant who had worked with Admiral Rickover in developing our nuclear submarine program, a farmer and former Georgia governor. Like Obi-wan Kenobi, “our only hope.” (Now, like Bill Clinton, Carter is the brunt of right-wing attacks and media jokes, despite his post-presidential good works.)

Here’s a quote at the time by Carter campaign pollster Patrick Caddell (LINK):

"If it weren't for the country looking for something in '76, Carter could never have gotten elected. He would never have been allowed out of the box. No one would have paid attention to him."

This country definitely is “looking for something” after Bush and Cheney, and Obama might ride that wave to the White House.

Frankly, after voting for seven losers in the last 10 elections, I am ready to vote for a winner again!

In my heart, I just don’t think Obama can pull it off.

Overriding all these considerations is the fact that this country is facing hard times, and we had better think long and hard about who is best qualified and most capable to guide us through them.

(Footnote: In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by 540,520 votes, but SCOTUS gave the election to Bush.)


I met a man with six wives

“Nature wronged her by not making her a man. But for her sex she would have surpassed all the rulers of history.” - Oliver Cromwell, upon the death of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, divorced from Henry VIII.


Remember the riddle about going to St. Ives and meeting a man with seven wives? Well, on my way to my blog this morning, I stumbled across such a man on a great Web site.

Althogh I thought I knew all there was to know about his wives, I found excellent biographical sketches on each.

No deep thoughts or frivolous froufrou to offer you today. I’m still thinking about the above quote and am knee-deep in history.

Here they are, complete with portraits: the six wives of Henry VIII. Some things you just can’t get enogh of!



John Cleese settles U.S. election

This came from a friend who got it from a friend, Syd, who got it from a friend “whom I must describe as now a senile Ozark hillbilly,” who got it from a friend “who is an Englishman living in Canada.”

I didn’t check snopes.com to see if John Cleese, now retired from films, really is the author, because I like mentioning him. “Monty Python,” “A Fish Called Wanda” and all those brilliantly crafted “Fawlty Towers” episodes (“Basil!”) merit his mention. Enjoy!

Britain Repossessing the USA: A Message from John Cleese.

To the citizens of the United States of America

In light of your failure to acknowledge officially the incompetence and arrogance of George W. “Dubya” Bush and the evil heart of Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney, and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and territories (except Texas, which she does not fancy).

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then, look up “aluminium,” and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as “favour,” “colour” and “neighbour.” Likewise, you will learn to spell “doughnut” without skipping half the letters. And, the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up “vocabulary”).

3. Using the same 27 words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize. You will relearn your original national anthem, now “God Save The Queen.”

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a potato peeler. And, a permit will be required if you wish to carry a potato peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are useless; and this is for your own good. When we show you European cars, you will understand what we mean.

8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric (with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables). Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

9. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) - roughly $6/US per gallon. Get used to it.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call french fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat and dressed not with catsup (you know it as ketchup), but with malt vinegar.

11. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on Earth, and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood now also will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie McDowell attempt English dialogue in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby, which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every 20 seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies. Don't try rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.

14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1 percent of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.

God save the Queen. (Only He can.)

John Cleese


No fooling, a bit of good news

This election cycle might be one of the greatest red herrings of our time, drawing the politically engaged away from the continuing day-to-day shenanigans of the Bush administration.

Whether it’s Bush attempting to ram through a pro-torture Justice Department nominee or just the lack of attention to the many unresolved scandals which have permeated his administration, some of us are missing a beat or two when it comes to keeping up.

Not so with the folks at the Center for American Progress, whose daily newsletter “The Progress Report” makes every effort to stay on top of all current issues.

This morning I took some time to catch up on several editions of the Report and found, among the on-going Iraq and economic woes, a bit of good news.

Reuters reported on 27 March (LINK):

“New Orleans, abandoned by thousands of residents after destructive floods and hurricanes in 2005, was one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States last year, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday.

“The Louisiana city's population climbed by 4 percent, with an increase of 39,885 residents between July 2006 and July 2007, making it the eighth fastest growing metro area in the country, the bureau said.”

A 2006 study estimated fewer than 200,000 people were living in New Orleans, down from 485,000 in 2000.

According to the bureau, eight of the 10 cities with the highest population growth are located in the South, a fact that bodes well for the re-emergence of the Crescent City as a major U.S. port and commerce hub.

Let’s hope, with growth, the culture and cuisine which has made New Orleans one of America’s great tourist destinations is preserved.

Laissez le bon temps roulet!