Fuel for thought — a few facts about the 4th of July and who votes in the United States

•July 5, 2015 • 1 Comment

After posting Will the Real 4th of July Please Stand Up on July fourth, this is my sequel. Smile, hopefully Big Brother is not watching you on camera yet.

  • 35.5 Million: Number of People Traveling by Car to celebrate the 4th of July with family and friends.
  • 150 Million: Number of Hot Dogs Consumed Over the Weekend
  • 68.3 Million Total cases of beer sold [at 24 beers a case, that is more than 1.6 billion beers] on Independence Day weekend, the most popular holiday for beer purchases, followed by Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t these all democracies?

  • $247.1 Million: Value of Fireworks From China (no wonder the Chinese love the U.S. 4th of July holiday)
  • About 42.6 percent (103 million) of the people celebrating the Fourth this year will attend a fireworks display or community party, while 11.5 percent (27 million) will watch a parade, according to the National Retail Federation.
  • Millions of American flags are actually manufactured abroad. Nearly all of them – 97 percent – came from China last year, which sold us $3.5 million worth.
  • 48 Million: Consumers Shopping for Red, White and Blue
  • More than 48 million Americans will be shopping for decorations, apparel and party supplies this Independence Day, with average household spending jumping up to $71.23 – 4.5 percent higher than 2014’s $68.16 per household.

Then—to honestly measure patriotism—there’s this:

  • 2014 midterm election turnout lowest in 70 years – Just 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out in 2014
  • Voter turnout dipped from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in 2008 to an estimated 57.5 in 2012.
  • That figure was also below the 60.4 level of the 2004 election but higher than the 54.2 percent turnout in the 2000 election.

How would you measure patriotism—by the number of beers one drinks on the 4th of July or if they voted on election days?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

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Will the Real 4th of July Please Stand Up

•July 4, 2015 • 6 Comments

While I’m an apple pie fan, my thoughts were not on fireworks or celebrating the 4th. My wife, who arrived in America in 1986 on a student visa from China and who is now a U.S. citizen, is the one who bought the flag that hangs outside our house.

My job was to install the bracket for the flag, and while installing the flag a lot of conflicting thoughts were running through my head. For instance, the reason I don’t go to fireworks shows is because of the PTSD that came home with me from Vietnam as a U.S. Marine—a war that was based on lies by a U.S. President just like the war in Iraq.

I was thinking of the Swift Boat Veteran campaign against Kerry when he ran for president and how G. W. Bush probably won that election when he was a coward who used his family influence to keep him out of the war.  You see, Kerry served in Vietnam on a swift boat and he was wounded more than once. He even held dying friends in his arms. Yea, they were close calls for Kerry, flesh wounds, but they were still wounds, and even though the rounds, rockets, and mortars that came close to me never cut flesh, close is still too close because an inch more and bam you might be crippled or worse, dead.

I was thinking of the Koch brothers and all that they are doing to sabotage the People’s Republic of the United States that the Founding Fathers gave to America’s citizens. In fact, this morning, I read that non-profits that the Koch brothers fund are waging a PR campaign to get rid of the national parks. It seems the Koch brothers want the federal government to turn all the national parks over to the states and give the states the power to sell them off to the highest bidder in the private sector. — Koch-Backed Group Calls For No More National Parks

And the Koch brothers aren’t alone among the billionaire oligarchs who are out to destroy our people’s republic. There’s Bill Gates, Eli Broad and the Walton family waging an all-out war against America’s democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools to close them down and turn our children over to for profit, opaque, undemocratic corporate Charter schools to teach.  Bill Gates even wants to put Big Brother in every public school classroom by installing video cameras to spy on every teacher and make sure they are doing what Big Brother wants them to do with the so-called Common Core crap.

In fact, I’m reading a book right now that keeps me awake at night.  The book is about a conspiracy that isn’t a theory and it’s like reading a true crime novel but one that is based on the crime as it is happening instead of after the criminals were caught, tried, convicted and sent to prison. The book is called Common Core Dilemma – Who Owns Our Schools? by Mercedes K. Schneider.

And I keep asking myself as I’m reading the book—I’m almost done and then I’m going to write a review—why the conspiracy this book reveals isn’t front page news in our corporate owned and controlled media. Then I tell myself I already know the answer: 90% of the traditional media is owned by six huge corporations and one of those media corporations is controlled by Rupert Murdock.

Then as I stand there watching the wind rippling the stars and stripes hanging from a flag pole attached to the side of our house, I think, how many Americans really represent the United States our Founding Fathers gave us—who reads and votes?

In the 2014 election, fewer people turned out to vote than any election in the last 70 years. In the 2012 Presidential election, 64% of eligible voters voted. The biggest excuse is they were too busy to vote (17.5%) or they were just not interested (13.4%).  And the turnout for the 2014 election was the lowest since World War II at 36.4% and look what we got.

Of all the socioeconomic factors impacting voter turnout, education has the greatest impact. The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to vote, as they have a better understanding of how the system works, how to influence the system, and why participation is important.

Thinking of the voter turnout, I ask myself: How many Americans celebrate the 4th of July with a barbecue, hot dogs, beer, apple pie and fireworks—the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air?  The 4th of July holiday makes for a great party atmosphere, doesn’t it?

I was also thinking of the Fairness Doctrine (1949 – 1987). The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

The Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by two U.S. Presidents on the excuse that it was a violation of our freedom of expression: Ronald Reagan followed by the first Bush to live in the White House.

Does freedom of expression also guarantee the right to lie and mislead the public?

The last thought I’m going to share is this: studies show that 91% of elections in the United Stets are won by the candidates who spent the most money on the campaign propaganda they spin out to fool voters. – Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap

Will the real 4th of July please stand up.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

He served with love, courage and honor – a review of “He Wrote Her Every Day”

•May 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

He Wrote Her Every Day by Gail Lindenberg is a true story that warms the heart. Barely married a year, Jim leaves his young wife, the love of his life, and ends up fighting in Europe during the final months of World War II. He experiences a lot of combat and is awarded a Silver Star when he risks his life leading a charge against a Nazi machine gun position.

jwh-staff-sargeant-1945James (Jim) William Hendrickson, Jr.

His brother Bill is in a prisoner of war camp somewhere in Germany, and Jim dreams of being the one who liberates him. You will need to read the book to find out what happened to Bill.

Jim also seldom missed a day to write a letter or add to one he was working on. Between being in the field chasing the enemy, on guard duty and/or in combat, he always finds time to write even when everyone else is trying to sleep—even when he is in a filthy, cramped foxhole in freezing winter weather.

pix-in-germany-eating-ks

somewhere in Germany 1944

I’ve never read a seamless story that grounded me in both the home front and a combat zone like this one did—especially after the war and the long months of waiting in Germany when Jim is anxious to return home but there is one delay after another. I kept turning the pages waiting for that moment when Jim finally made it back home to Arizona, and the conclusion brought a big smile to my face as I remembered the moment when I arrived home from another war.

irene-at-190001edit

Irene (Butch) – Jim’s wife and the love of his life

The author sent me a copy of the paperback for my honest review, and don’t miss the rest of the photos you will discover at He Wroter Her Every Day.com. This is a story that was lovingly researched and written by one of his daughters—a wonderful story that immortalizes a father who served his country with courage and honor.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Promo Image with Cover Awards

This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Comparing Cultural Wars: the U.S. versus China

•April 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Lloyd Lofthouse:

Another form of warfare is one waged against a country’s own people by its most powerful leaders, and it can be economic in nature.

Originally posted on iLook China:

In 1965, China’s Mao Zedong launched a cultural war against the excesses of capitalism, and this was led by the people, the workers and their children, and the capitalists in China and anyone who was accused of supporting the lifestyle of the rich and famous was targeted leading to millions of suicides.

For the last few decades, millions of people in the United States have been victims of its own cultural war, but this one is the reverse of the one that was led by Mao in China. America’s cultural war is being led by a handful of billionaire oligarchs who are transforming American into a money making paradise for those who have the most wealth and power.

This morning I read a piece in the Huffington Post that reported Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent…

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Discovering Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs with my ears

•March 27, 2015 • 1 Comment

I can’t remember when I paid $3 at Half Price Books for an audio book of Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear. You see, I enjoy reading. That’s why I buy books—audio and the old fashioned kind on paper—and DVD’s of films and TV series faster than I watch or read/listen to them, and they are all around me in the study where I write.  They are also books in storage under the house. I think I’ll have to live another thousand years to read them all—as long as I don’t buy more.

In an attempt to read faster, I started reading with my ears when I’m in the car on the way to the farmer’s market, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. And I drive in the slow lane to gain more listening time.

The reason I am now a fan of Winspear’s work, and specifically Maisie Dobbs, the main character in eleven of the author’s twelve novels, is because Maisie has a serious and convincing case of PTSD, and I came home in 1966 from Vietnam with PTSD.

As I wrote this post, I visited the author’s website, and saw that Pardonable Lies is the 3rd novel in the Maisie Dobbs series, and I smiled, because that means I have ten more to read—hopefully with my ears since I’m reading about four or five audio books to every tree book.

This is where I copy and paste from Winspear’s page on The World of Maisie Dobbs: “The period of time from the mid-1900’s until the 1930’s was a time of unprecedented change in Britain. The devastation of The Great War, mass emigration to America and Canada, rapid social changes—not least votes for women—to be followed by the Roaring Twenties, the General Strike and the Depression. It was a time of burgeoning artistic expression, with the movements that we now know as Art Nouveau and Art Deco demonstrating a dramatic departure from the Victorian age.

“The Great War demanded that there was hardly a field of endeavor left untouched by a woman’s hand, so that men could be released for the battlefield. The first women joined the police force, they worked in construction, on the trains and buses, on the land and in all manner of military support roles. The made munitions and they worked close to the front lines as nurses, ambulance drivers; as intelligence agents and code-breakers. And after the war, it was these same remarkable women who, more often than not, faced a life alone, for the men they might have married had been lost to war.

“It was also during these first decades of the century that scientific methods of detection were being rapidly developed. From medicine to international travel to the study of the human mind, all benefited from a time that was both terrifyingly painful in terms of the cost to human life, and yet demonstrated a hunger for innovation and a fascination with the avant-garde.

“It is in this world that Maisie Dobbs came of age.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Low Def Cover 8 on January 20

This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Two former Marines take a hike on Old Baldy that wasn’t as Lethal as Leukemia

•March 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Originally posted on Lloyd Lofthouse:

We were about to discover that you don’t have to climb Mount Everest to face danger in mountains.

Near the end of the 20th century, two former U.S. Marines, Lloyd (me) and Marshall, decided to climb a mountain they’d conquered many times, but this climb was different, because they had no idea when they started up Mount San Antonio in Los Angeles County’s San Gabriel Mountains that they’d almost freeze, and the harsh wind would work hard to rip them from the mountainside, and Marshal would lose his footing on black ice and slide down a steep slope toward a two-thousand foot vertical drop and almost certain death.

Our goal that Saturday had been to climb to the top of the highest mountain in the San Gabriel Mountains that soared above Los Angeles to a dizzy height of 10,069’. As we climbed, the sky above the mountain was capped with…

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Capturing the pulse of a nation at the end of an unjust war

•February 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

While reading Last Plane Out of Saigon, an opinionated but accurate memoir by Richard Pena and John Hagan, I did a lot of reflection and here are some of my thoughts.

During a war, the U.S. government has the power to draft—against their will—recruits who might end up fighting in a just or unjust war. Then there are those Americans who join voluntarily to serve in the military. It’s been 49 years since I served as a volunteer in the U.S. Marine and fought in Vietnam, and for the last several decades, after a lot of research to understand what happened and why the U.S. started that war, I have concluded that the war in Vietnam was wrong and it was based on lies. I think the same about the Iraq War.

There is a big difference between volunteering versus being drafted and forced to serve, and two-thirds of the U.S. troops who served in Vietnam were volunteers and about 70% of those who were killed were also volunteers and 62% of the troops killed were age 21 or younger.

For me, a few weeks before I graduated from High school, I voluntarily surrendered the freedom most Americans take for granted and joined the U.S. Marines on a delayed deferment. In fact, once you join any of the branches of the U.S. military, you leave your free choice behind, and you don’t get it back until after you are honorably discharged. The military is another world with its own courts, hospitals and prisons, and the troops are trained to serve and obey without question. Disobey and a recruit might end up in prison or even executed for the crime of treason.

In the summer of 1965, I was in boot camp at MCRD in San Diego when we heard that the U.S. war in Vietnam was escalating and once we left boot camp every recruit was going to be on his way to fight. That scuttlebutt turned out to be true, and I arrived in Chu Lai, Vietnam, about 90 miles south of Da Nang on March 28, 1966.

About halfway through my combat tour, the first draftees started to arrive, and one was assigned to the communications platoon where I was a field radio operator. To me, and the other Marines in that platoon, it was considered wrong that anyone should be forced to serve in the U.S. Marines and fight in one of America’s wars, and we went out of our way to shelter that draftee.

In Richard Pena and John Hagan’s “Last Plane out of Saigon,” on page 100, Pena wrote something that I agree with: “I submit that the true American patriots are those who see the faults of our country and do not hide from them but instead attempt to rectify them.”

I didn’t always think that way. As a child, I grew up in a totally non-political family, and at the same time I was also being brainwashed by patriotic films disguised as adventures, thrillers and suspense out of Hollywood—for instance, most John Wayne movies. My parents never voted and the one time I asked my father why, he said all politicians were crooks, and it was a waste of time to vote because it wasn’t going to change anything. When I was in college on the GI Bill 1968 – 1973, I would become more aware and today I disagree with my father, because I think that when we don’t vote, the criminals in the White House and Congress get away with their crimes, but active, knowledgeable voters can change that.

To understand the dramatic attitude shift of the Vietnam War in the United States, in August 1965, when I reported to boot camp at MCRD, 62% of Americans agreed with the war. By the time I flew home from Vietnam near the end of December 1966, that number was down to about 52% and dropping. In 1968 when I was honorably discharged from active duty, support for the war was down to 37%, and by 1971, during my third year of college on the GI Bill, support was down to 28%.

“Last Plane Out of Saigon” is Richard Pena’s story, and it roughly captures the nation’s mood at the end of the war. Pena was drafted—forced to fight in a war that was clearly wrong. His book is a journal of what he felt, thought and did in Vietnam where he witnessed the horrors of war working in the operating room of Vietnam’s largest military hospital in Saigon.

I served in Vietnam in 1966 during the buildup. Soon after I left, U.S. troop strength reached about a half-million. But by the time Richard Pena arrived near the end of the war as a draftee in the fall of 1972, U.S. troop strength in Vietnam was down to about 100,000 and dropping.

I think many of American’s troops—both volunteers and draftees—served honorably for mostly honorable reasons, but many of the leaders of the United States who supported the war and sent the troops to fight justified their criminal actions based on lies and deceit.

That leads to a question I have no answer for. How does one serve honorably in a dishonorable war? As for the 5-stars I gave this book, how can I justify loving a book about a dishonorable war? I awarded the 5-stars based on the honesty of the book that revealed the reason why more than 70% of Americans were not allowing themselves to be fooled by the liars who started the war.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

 Low Def Cover 8 on January 20

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 
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