Dear Comrade Socialist-Friends

Our dear, departed leader, Nikita Khrushchev was correct when he said, “America will destroy itself from the inside.”

Now that the Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS) has spoken saying  what is commonly referred to as “Obama-care,” is constitutional since Congress has the right to impose taxes on citizens, it’s time to see what sort of tax is in the bill.  Joyfully, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) includes 20 new and/or higher taxes on American families and small businesses.

These took effect last year:

1. Medicine Cabinet Tax: Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement account (HRA) pre-tax dollars to buy non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin). Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957-1,959.

2. HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike: Increases more tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantages them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which stay at 10 percent. PPACA; Page: 1,959.

These are taking effect this year:

3. Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals: $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new “community health assessment needs,” “financial help,” and “billing and collection” rules set by HHS. PPACA; Page: 1,961-1,971.

4. Codification of the “economic substance doctrine.” This provision allows the IRS to disallow legal tax deductions and other legal tax-minimizing plans just because the IRS deems that the action lacks “substance” and is merely intended to cut taxes owed. Reconciliation Act; Page: 108-113.

5.  Cellulosic Biofuel Producer  tax hike. This is a tax increase on a type of bio-fuel made from wood byproducts. Reconciliation Act; Page: 105

6. Tax on Innovator Drug Companies: $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed on a share of sales made that year. PPACA; Page: 1,971-1,980.

7. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike: The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues spent on clinical services. PPACA; Page: 2,004.

8. Tax on Indoor Tanning Services: New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons. PPACA; Page: 2,397-2,399.

9. Employer Reporting of Insurance on W-2: Preamble to taxing health benefits on individual tax returns. Bill: PPACA; Page: 1,957.

These take effect in 2013:

10. Surtax on Investment Income: Creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income: Bill: Reconciliation Act; Page: 87-93.

2012 Capital gains: 15-percent, Dividends: 15-percent; *Other: 35-percent.

2013+ Capital gains: 23.8-percent, Dividends: 43.4-percent; *Other: 43.4-percent.

*Other unearned income includes gross income from interest, annuities, royalties, net rents, and passive income in partnerships and Subchapter-S corporations. It does not include municipal bond interest or life insurance proceeds, since those do not add to gross income. It does not include active trade or business income, fair market value sales of ownership in pass-through entities, or distributions from retirement plans. The 3.8-percent surtax does not apply to non-resident aliens.

11. Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax: Current law and changes: First $200,000 for a single individual or $250,000 if married. PPACA, Reconciliation Act; Page: 2000-2003; 87-93.

12. Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers: Medical device manufacturers who employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax and exempts items retailing for less than $100. PPACA; Page: 1,980-1,986.

13. Raises Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5-percent to 10-percent of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of AGI. The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI, which is waived for taxpayers 65 years and old in 2013-2016 only. PPACA; Page: 1,994-1,995.

14. Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka “Special Needs Kids Tax”: Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited). This is indexed to meet inflation after 2013. PPACA; Page: 2,388-2,389.

15. Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D. PPACA; Page: 1,994.

16. $500,000 Annual Executive Compensation Limit for Health Insurance Executives. PPACA; Page: 1,995-2,000.

These take effect in 2014:

17. Individual Mandate Excise Tax: Starting in 2014, anyone not buying a qualifying health insurance plan must pay income surtax according to the higher of the following:

2014: 1 Adult: 1-percent AGI/$95; 2 Adults: 1-percent AGI/$190; 3 or more Adults: 1-percent AGI/$285.
2015: 1 Adult: 2-percent AGI/$325; 2 Adults: 2-percent AGI/$650; 3 or more Adults: 2-percent AGI/$975.
2016+: 1 Adult: 2.5-percent AGI $695; 2 Adults: 2.5-percent AGI/$1390; 3 or more Adults: 2.5-percent AGI/$2085.

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and/or hardship cases as determined by HHS. PPACA; Page: 317-337.

18. Employer Mandate Tax: If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees. This applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee or $600 if the period is 60 days or longer. PPACA; Page: 345-346.

19. Tax on Health Insurers: Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year. This will be phased in gradually through 2018. This is immediately and fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits. PPACA; Page: 1,986-1,993.

This one takes effect in 2018:

19. Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans: Starting in 2018, a new 40 percent excise tax on health insurance plans of $10,200 for one person or $27,500 per family. This includes higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions. This is based on collateral protection insurance, plus a one-percent point index. PPACA; Page: 1,941-1,956.

Fortunately the SCOTUS failed to address the fact these new taxes — as the Justices referenced them – originated from the Senate and not the House of Representatives as the U.S. Constitution requires. Nor did they review the fact the same document says taxes are to be raised for the “expressed purposes of creating revenue,” not as a punishment for failing to purchase a qualifying insurance policy.

Americans  have lost even more of their rights with this ruling and do not yet know it, with that said, Socialist everywhere can rejoice. But be warned — the battle has jus’ begun for the control of freedom-loving peoples everywhere.

Do not forget to send a note of thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts for turning this into a victory for us by changing the argument from “Interstate Commerce,” to a federal taxation issue. He’s simply brilliant!

Civilian

With the war overseas still raging, the inevitable happened — Jennifer Griffin received her draft notice. Her grandparents and parents were upset – she, however, was ecstatic.

Soon Jen, as she was known to her friends and family, was off to the Marine Corps Training Center at Parris Island.  It would be nearly four months before she’d be allowed leave to visit her family.

The two-weeks passed quickly and before anyone realized it – the time had come for her to board the bus for the long journey to her new duty site. Her mother and father, grandparents and even her younger brother came to the station to see her off.

They continued to wave, cry and watch as the brakes on the bus released and it began to move. It had gone about a thousand yards when it suddenly pulled to the side of the road and stopped.

Everyone gazed in wonder as the vehicle slowly backed up, returning to the station. It seemed like an eternity until the doors opened and Jen stepped out.

She looked over the crowd she’d jus’ left, “Damned my rotten luck! The war’s over.”

Jennifer Griffin still had four-years to fulfill to the Corps before she could again call herself a “civilian.”

Silver Tailings: The Girl I Left Behind

Described as a beautiful, tall, and slim brunette with dark eyes, the day she died, miners throughout the Comstock cried. The bludgeoning and strangling of 35-year-old prostitute Julia Bulette on January 20, 1867, stunned Virginia City’s residents.

Less than six-years earlier, in 1861, Virginia Fire Company No. 1 had led a grand parade through town. The town’s citizens were gathered to celebrate Independence Day.

Riding on top of the pumper, wearing a fireman’s helmet, a brass fire trumpet filled with roses in her arms was Julia.  The crowd cheered for the “Queen of the Independence Day Parade.”

Julia, born in London, England, in 1833, she and her family moved to New Orleans in 1848 and then to California with the gold rush.  She arrived on the Comstock around 1859, where she lived and worked in a small frame house on D Street in the town’s red light district.

Her reputation for helping the sick and the needy grew over time. This eventually led to her election as an honorary member of the Virginia Fire Company No. 1.

She donated large sums for new equipment and often personally lent a hand at working the water pump — in effect becoming the first woman-firefighter in the nation.

The day before she was found murdered, Julia went to see a performance at Piper’s Opera House. She was unable to attend the performance because she refused to sit in a section reserved for ‘working girls,’ and instead returned home after be escorted from the establishment.

The next morning her next-door neighbor, Gertrude Holmes, who was bringing Julia her Sunday-morning breakfast, found her lifeless body. The neighbor immediately sent for the police.

They found she had been struck with a pistol, beaten with a piece of firewood and strangled. Most of her costume jewelry and fancy dresses were missing.

Julia ‘s funeral was held at Virginia Fire Company No. 1.  Her fellow firefighters took up a collection and purchased a silver-handled casket.

After the sermon, a band led about 60 members of the fire department and 16 carriages of mourners, to the Flowery Hill Cemetery.  And although Julia was given a Catholic funeral, she could not buried in consecrated ground.

Instead she was entombed in a lonely grave half a mile east of town.  A simple wooden plank with the name “Julia” painted on it was all that marked her final resting place.

As the mourners filed back into town, the men of Virginia Fire Company No. 1 sang “The Girl I Left Behind.” The city was draped in black, and for the first time since President Lincoln’s assassination, it’s reported, saloons were closed.

Several months later, prostitute Martha Camp was awakened by someone approaching her bedside. Her screams sent the man fleeing, but she later recognized him on the street.

He was identified as Frenchman John Millian, a baker and drifter. A search of his belongings revealed some of Julia’s possessions, whereupon he was immediately arrested.

Jurors quickly convicted Millian and on April 24, 1868, he was escorted to the gallows where more than 4,000 spectators witnessed the execution. Among them was Mark Twain, who described what he witnessed.

“I saw it all,” wrote Twain. “I took exact note of every detail, even to Melanie’s (sic) considerately helping to fix the leather strap that bound his legs together and his quiet removal of his slippers — and I never wish to see it again.”

Twain finishes, “I can see that stiff, straight corpse hanging there yet, with its black pillow-cased head turned rigidly to one side, and the purple streaks creeping through the hands and driving the fleshy hue of life before them. Ugh!”

While Millian memory has become more-or-less a footnote in Nevada’s history, Julia’s legend continued after her death.

The Virginia and Truckee Railroad honored her memory by naming one of its club coaches after her. Her portrait hung in many Virginia City saloons, and author Rex Beach immortalized her as Cherry Malotte in his novel, The Spoilers, while Oscar Lewis in his book Silver Kings reported that Julia was written about more than any other woman on the Comstock.

An in an episode of the television series Bonanza titled “The Julia Bulette Story”, featured Little Joe falling in love with her, much to the chagrin of his father. Written by Al C. Ward and first aired on October 17, 1959, Julia was played by actress Jane Greer.

To this day visitors to Virginia City report seeing an elegantly dressed woman walking along the wooden boardwalks, only to watch her dissolve into nothingness. Could Julia still be watching over the town?

Ronald Reagan — the “Gay-hater”

Ronald Reagan campaigned for gay rights before he was President — a move considered by many a risk to his future political career. Reagan had been out of the California governor’s office for several years and was preparing to run again for President.

In 1978, California State Senator John Briggs pushed a state ballot initiative to prohibit the hiring of homosexuals as teachers. This was at  the height of Anita Bryant’s crusade against homosexuals and much of the religious-right opposed the concept of “gay rights.”

Support for the initiative was very strong initially and everyone around Reagan argued he should stay out of the fight. But, out of personal conviction people should only be judged on their merits, Reagan campaigned against the initiative.

He even went to so far as to write on op-ed in the now-defunct “Los Angeles Herald-Examiner,” against it in the closing days of the campaign.

“Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.”

“Initiative 6,” as it was officially known, went down in defeat.  

Perhaps the greatest criticism surrounds Reagan’s “supposed silence” about the epidemic spreading in the 1980s.  First, it’s untrue the Reagan administration “said nothing” in response to the disease.

In June 1983, a year before the virus that causes AIDS had even been publicly identified, Reagan’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Margaret Heckler, announced at the U.S. Conference of Mayors the department “considers AIDS its number-one health priority.”  She specifically praised “the excellent work done by gay networks around the nation” that had spread information about the disease.

Despite the oft-repeated claim that Reagan himself didn’t mention AIDS publicly until 1987, he actually first discussed it in September 1985. Responding to a reporter’s question about the need for more funding, Reagan noted the federal government had already spent more than half a billion dollars on AIDS up to that point.

“So, this is a top priority with us,” said Reagan. “Yes, there’s no question about the seriousness of this and the need to find an answer.”

It must also be noted that Reagan was hardly alone. For years, New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who was presiding over the epicenter of the disease, refused even to meet with AIDS groups.

A review of federal spending on AIDS programs during the Reagan years shows annual spending rose from eight million dollars in 1982 to more than $2.3 billion in 1989. In all, the federal government spent almost six billion dollars on AIDS during Reagan’s tenure.

On the other hand, in 1983 New York Governor Mario Cuomo, nixed on fiscal grounds the state senate’s bid to spend $5.2 million on AIDS research and prevention programs. Cuomo’s state health commissioner responded to criticism by saying that hypertension was a more important health issue for the state.

Aside from spending, it was Reagan’s surgeon general who sent the first-ever bulletin to all American homes warning explicitly about AIDS transmission. Finally, it was Reagan who created the first presidential commission dealing with AIDS and, in 1988, barred discrimination against federal employees with HIV.

Ronald Reagan may have been a lot of things — but a “gay-hater,” is not one of them.

The Humble Beginnings of Sam Drucker

He was perhaps best known a “Sam Drucker” in three separate but simultaneous TV series during the 1960s – ‘Petticoat Junction,’ ‘Green Acres’ and ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’ Frank Cady passed away at age 96 at his Watsonville, Oregon home, on June 8, 2012.

Cady was born in Susanville, California, September 8, 1915. His family once lived in Genoa and the Reno area, eventually moving to Wilsonville, Oregon.

While in high school he worked at a local newspaper, The Lassen County Advocate. Later, Cady studied journalism and drama at Stanford University, where he was involved with the campus humor magazine, the Stanford Chaparral.

It was at Stanford where he first met Shirley, his wife, whom he married in 1940. Following college graduation Cady worked at the Westminster Theater appearing in four plays and made an early television appearance on the BBC in late 1938.

Cady then returned to Stanford in 1939 for graduate studies and a position as teaching assistant. Unsatisfied with academic life, two years later he began a series of jobs as an announcer and news broadcaster at various California radio stations.

His career was put on hold in 1943 when he joined the United States Army Air Corps, serving in England, France and Germany during World War II. After being discharged in 1946 Cady appeared in a series of plays in the Los Angeles area, which led to movie roles, beginning in 1947.

In 1950, he had a speaking role in the classic film noir drama ‘D.O.A.’ as Sam the bartender , and another role in ‘Father of the Bride’, requesting mint juleps from Spencer Tracy during the engagement party. He also had a small part in the noir classic ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ playing a witness who refused to identify a robbery suspect.

He appeared in the 1951 film ‘When Worlds Collide’ as the assistant to John Hoyt’s character. Cady had a prominent role in Billy Wilder’s film ‘Ace in the Hole’ – later retitle as ‘The Big Carnival.’

He had a small non-speaking role in one of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window, in 1954, portraying the husband of the woman who owns a dog, which is raised and lowered to their apartment window in a basket. Cady also played the husband of Eileen Heckart’s character in the 1956 movie ‘The Bad Seed.’

Cady appeared on the ‘Make Room For Daddy’ episode that was the pilot for ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ as the town drunk, preceding Hal Smith who eventually took over that role as Otis Campbell.  Cady also played Doc Williams in 19 episodes of ‘Ozzie and Harriet,’ between 1954 and 1965.

He appeared on some radio programs, including the ‘Gunsmoke’ episode titled “Outlaw Robin Hood” on January 8, 1955.  Cady also played the mayor of Abalone in the film, ‘7 Faces of Dr. Lao,’ in 1964.

“He was very sharp, very witty and lighthearted,” Frank Cady, elder Cady’s nephew said. “He was just a regular guy and very fun to be around.”

He was the only actor to play a recurring character on three television sitcoms at the same time, from 1968 to 1969.  Cady also was one of only three co-stars of Petticoat Junction who stayed with the series for its entire seven-year run, along with Edgar Buchanan and Linda Henning, appearing in 170 of the show’s 222 episodes.

His final acting role was in the 1990 television movie ‘Return to Green Acres.’ In 2005, Cady attended Eddie Albert’s funeral, along with co-stars Sid Melton and Mary Grace Canfield.

Cady and his wife had lived in Wilsonville since 1991. She preceded him in death on August 22, 2008, at age 91.

Immigration Shift: Then and Now

The White House will halt the deportation of as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants and in some cases give them work permits. People under 30 who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas when they were under the age of 16 will be immune from deportation if they have not committed a significant misdemeanor or felony and have graduated from a U.S. high school or joined the military.

They can apply for a renewable two-year work permit that won’t provide a path to citizenship but will allow them to work legally in the country. Applicants will have to prove they’ve lived in the country for five consecutive years.

The U.S. has been through this before and — yes — President Ronald Reagan got it wrong and admitted it. The Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was a blanket amnesty for illegal aliens.

The act required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants, granted amnesty to certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants and granted amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously.  It introduced the I-9 form to ensure that all employees presented documentary proof of their legal eligibility to accept employment in the United States.

This law was supposed to be a compromise — an attempt to finally limit illegal immigration through strengthened border security and increased immigration enforcement against employers — combined with amnesty for the millions of illegal workers in the United States. President Ronald Reagan approved this “path to citizenship” amnesty due to what was believed to be a relatively small illegal immigrant population.

For the first six months after the amnesty there was a modest fall in illegal immigration, but within 12 months illegal immigration was breaking all previous records, rising to 800,000 per year. In fact, the 1986 amnesty resulted in more amnesties from 1994 to 2000, awarding legal status to another 3 million illegal immigrants.

By 1997, the number of illegal immigrants in the country was back up to the 5.0 million in the U.S. before the 1986 amnesty according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies. The same 1997 report says the cost of amnesty for 2.7 million illegal immigrants had accumulated to $156.7 billion in 1986 dollars.

Breaking that cost down farther shows that  after $78.7 billion in tax collections  — it cost U.S. taxpayers $29,148 in 1986 dollars for each amnestied ‘immigrant’ . Furthermore, it displaced 1,872,000 American workers over the next 10-years.

Later, Reagan said of IRCA, “The amnesty was the worst mistake of my presidency.”

Today, about 12 million illegal aliens reside in the U. S. Most of those who violate our borders come from Mexico and other Latin American countries while about 6 percent of illegal immigrants come from Canada and Europe.

Finally, in 1986, about three million illegal immigrants were eligible for amnesty.  This time, roughly 9 million people are expected to be eligible for legalization — not the 800,000 being floated by the current administration.

Why Dove Mourns

This is a Karok story, I believe, because it mentions the Klamath River and Weitchpec, which is a village that rests along the river’s bank in Humboldt County and home to the ‘Up-Stream’ peoples.

Once a family of doves lived with their grandmother in a sheltered cave, and were all very happy. A spring gushed up outside; grasses grew everywhere and best of all there was a large tree to which they could fly in case of danger.

One day the eldest brother decided he wanted to fly up the Klamath River as far as Weitchpec. While he was there he fell in with bad company, and learned how to gamble the Indian way.

He played and played, day in and day out. He forgot all about his poor, sick grandmother at home, who was waiting so patiently for him to come back.

Finally a younger brother went to search for him. On finding him he told the older dove that their grandmother was dead.

He was very sorrowful then, and said that he would mourn in the trees with a ‘coo’ which would tell all the world that his grief would never cease.

Silver Tailings: Behind the Ox-Bow

The first time I heard of “The Ox-Bow Incident,” I was perhaps 13 years-old. One of my cousins had to do a report for a high school English class and had the “Cliff Notes,” on the book.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually saw the movie starting Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan. Eventually, I got around to reading the novel written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark.

Clark was born in East Orland, Maine, August 9, 1909, but his family moved to Nevada when he was eight. He grew up and went to college in Reno, where his father was president of the University of Nevada.

Besides being well-educated Clark had a number of interests, including sports, art, music, theater, chess, western history, Indian lore, geology, mining, and ranching. Many of these interests are touched upon in his writing.

He’s also credited with editing the journals of Alfred Doten, no easy task since Doten’s personal papers are contained in a three-volume set covering  the period of 1849 to 1903. And the fact that he grew up in Northern Nevada caused me to want to know more about how he came to write such an unforgiving portrayal of the old West.

The story takes place in Bridger’s Wells, Nevada, a town located in a valley on the western side of the Continental Divide. Ox Bow Valley’s to the west of town and jus’ over the mountains.

The valley’s two or three miles long and half or three-quarters of a mile wide. A creek, in the middle of the valley, winds back on itself like a snake and so is called Ox Bow.

There’s also a road along its edge at the south end, which is the only way in and out of the valley, because the mountains on the other three sides are steep. There’s a clearing right at the summit of the valley, but the road runs through the middle of it.

Technically speaking, neither Ox-Bow Valley or Bridger’s Wells exists geographically, but rather, they’re composites of other places. Instead, the landscape as described appears to be based on the historic Comstock town, Virginia City.

This is only supposition on my part.

As for the triple lynching — that comes from the biography of William J. Flake, who helped settle parts of Arizona, and was imprisoned for polygamy.

Authors Eric Kramer and Carol Sletten write in their 2010 book, “Story of the American West:  “He (Flake) went to Phoenix to recover livestock stolen during the Pleasant Valley war. He found the bodies of the young cowboys who were lynched near Heber in the true story that led to the writing and filming of the Ox-Bow incident.”

In August 1888, Jamie Stott, James Scott and Jake Wilson were arrested for allegedly shooting a rancher named Jake Lauffer. Furthermore, Deputy Sheriff J.D. Houck, who made the arrest, had a long-standing feud with Stott.

On their way to Prescott, a group of fifty masked vigilantes intercepted the deputy and his posse and took the three men from their custody. It’s believed Houck was in on the plan to take the trio.

Over the course of the next several hours, the vigilantes pretended to hang Stott’s friends, forcing him to watch. However when the two men refused to beg for their lives, their horses were driven out from under them and they were hanged for real.

They did much the same with Stott — stringing him up briefly then lowering him to the ground before he succumbed. However they left him hanging for too long and when they finally brought him down he was dead.

Their bodies were found a few days later by Flake and were buried in the same clearing in which they died. No one was ever punished as a result of the lynchings.

Along with some of the geography and history, the characters of The Ox-Bow Incident were drawn from real-life. For instance, Ma Grier, the burly proprietor of a boarding house, who is chosen as Major Tetley’s lieutenant, was based on an actual person.

One day Clark decided to stop at a roadside diner. Unfortunately, the place had been shut down and a group of people including the diner’s owner, a large woman, were in the process of loading equipment onto a truck.

When the time came to load the cook stove, the woman simply known as “Ma”, wrapped her arms around it, hoisting it onto the truck by herself. Clark recalled this and decided the image of “Ma” lifting her cook stove would make the kind of character rough-and-tumble men could respect.

Finally, the wide-exterior scenes shot during late June to early August 1942 were taken in Alabama Hills, near the small California town of Lone Pine, not far from the Comstock of Clark’s youth.  He would later serve as the writer-in-residence at the University of Nevada, Reno from 1962 until his death November 10th, 1971, in Virginia City.

The Silent Leader

For years I have been working to be the best “Silent Leader,” possible.

A ‘silent leader’ is someone who acts in such a way, others might follow their example. This can be anyone from a CEO if a Fortune 500 Company to the person cleaning the restrooms and everyone in between.

Much of it is derived from the Book of Matthew in the New Testament. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-15.

So how does this tie into being a ‘silent leader?’ First off know that in my view the ‘silent leader’ is based on ‘interpersonal relationships,’ which is defined as an association between two or more people who may range from fleeting to enduring.

These kinds of relationships are not often thought of as a biblical topic, but advice about dealing with other people makes up a large part of the teachings of Jesus and the wisdom books of the Old Testament.  We spend our entire life interfacing with fellow humans.

Without interaction with others, our lives would have virtually no meaning or purpose. Yet, it is our relating that creates most of our difficulties.

Imagine your life without another person in it. No arguments, no fights, no obligations, no misunderstandings, but also no love, no joy, no laughs and no life.

Obviously, the answer to difficult relationships is not to withdraw from or avoid interaction with others.  Rather it’s to learn how to relate in a meaningful, honoring and constructive way to a person.

All of the New Testament teachings on relationships spring from Jesus’ commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

The English word “love” has many different meanings, but this “Christian love” of the Bible comes from the Greek word agape which means good-will and benevolent concern for the one loved. It is deliberate, purposeful love rather than an emotional or impulsive love.

“Love your neighbor” was not a new commandment, but the people of Jesus’ time had developed a rather narrow view of who should be considered a “neighbor.” In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus corrected that view and teaches us that a “neighbor” is anyone we come in contact with.

If you explore the Jesus story you begin to notice how He respected others, whether they were male or female, young or old. Jesus made it His priority to teach how to relate in every type of relationship.

In many ways, all of Jesus’ teaching addresses our responses in relationships. For example, Jesus also said in Matthew: “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Is the practice of being a ‘silent leader’ hard? You bet – but nothing good ever comes easy.

Finally, in the course of life we all come across difficult situations in which we are unsure how to relate. It’s how we respond that makes us either a ‘lamp on its stand’ — or one placed ‘under a bowl.’

New Book: Final Flight

Three weeks ago I decided to clean out some of my news notes I’d collected from work. I had nearly one-hundred pieces of paper regarding the disappearance of Steve Fossett.

In order to do this, I spent the day copying and transcribing these notes and such — creating a massive computer database file. By the time I was finished I realized I had more than enough information to write several short stories about the ‘Fossett Incident.’

As I organized these notes further, I knew I could take what I’d normally regard as ‘future story material,’ and write a booklet. To me that’s any publication that’s smaller than 80-page, in which case a publisher will not place the book’s title on the spine.

Called, “Final Flight,” it’s about adventurer Steve Fossett, who was lost in a plane crash in the Sierra Nevada mountain Range of eastern California in 2007. Since that time I’ve held onto or collected news articles from the wire and other sources in order to write a full account of not only his disappearance and recover, but of his life and achievements.

A quick read at only 84-pages, it documents many of the behind-the-scene events that lead up to his fatal crash, as well as those involving the search for the lost flier. It culminates with the discovery of personal items, the recovery of bone fragments and the finding of local and federal authorities.

You can order your ‘print-on-demand’ copy exclusively from FastPencil. And thank you for your support in advance.

Silver Tailings: That Infernal Blue Stuff

Virginia City’s beginning is described by a Dr. Pierson in a letter to the Carson Tribune, dated August 1879:

“I visited the spot known as Virginia and found not a house, but two tents in the ground. One was owned by John L. Blackburn who died by an assassin’s knife. I saw the first mine and formed an acquaintance with Mr. Comstock, the man whose man is perpetrated everywhere mines ar known throughout the world.”

Dr. Pierson continues:  “I also met old Virginia for whom the place is named. On that day in June (1859), the writer saw $1900.00 in black gold valued at $11.00 an ounce washed out of the surface ground at the Ophir.”

By the late 1860’s, Virginia City had more than 30,000 people. Not bad for a place that boasted only two-tents when it was first established.

Why the big turn around? It was a simple chance encounter that created the eventual rush from the California gold fields to the Comstock’s silver mines.

Most of the miners in the area were plagued by what was known as “that infernal blue stuff.” The soft, blue-tinted mud got in the way of their serious work — the mining of gold.

It was simply shoveled out-of-the-way and forgotten.

Then one afternoon a Carson rancher named W.P. Morrison, having heard of the strikes being made in Gold Canyon went to have a look for himself. There he found the unwanted mud and intrigued by it, collected some of it.

Months later, Morrison had the sample analyzed. He jus’ happened to have some of the stuff with him the day he rode into Grass Valley, California, where he decided to have it assayed.

The assayer, J.J. Ott took the sample and checked it for gold. It assayed out at $1600.00 and ounce — but he felt compelled to double-check his findings because of what else he’d found.

After the second assaying, he knew his first findings were correct. The “infernal blue stuff” yielded $4,971.00 a ton and it was simply being thrown away.

By the next morning the word had spread throughout Grass Valley and the rush east over the Sierra Nevada was on.

Weegie

She knew she wasn’t supposed to have the thing – let alone have it in her bedroom. Bette’s father had forbidden it and now she was sitting on the couch listening to him lecture on the evils of the Ouija Board.

“But its jus’ harmless game board,” Bette protested.

Her father either didn’t hear her or he ignored her completely. Instead he continued his rant on the evils of the Ouija Board and how it was a vulgar item in the face of their Catholic religion.

As he did this, she sat on the couch watching the thing burn in the living room fireplace behind her father. As she watched, the smoke curled and rolled up the chimney flue.

She became transfixed on the gray clouds as they grew darker and darker, until they nearly blacked out the flames engulfing the board. Bette could smell the smoke – it seemed tainted – like a burning steak.

She found herself smiling as the smoke started bellowing outward, hanging low along the shag carpet. Bette was no longer listening to her father’s voice as it suddenly sounded miles away.

There was a sudden flash – followed by a long fall into darkness. It seemed like hours before she wakened to the unfamiliar sight of flashing red lights and the feel of the chill of evening air.

“I don’t know what happened,” Bette heard herself say to the fire investigator.

It was then she realized she was sitting outside on the curb as what was left her parent’s home crumbled into an ash heap.  She was confused but otherwise unharmed.

Beside her rested the Ouija Board – undamaged.

The Communists Next Door

Beijing, China based Xinyuan Real Estate Co. Ltd. purchased a portfolio of 325 finished lots and 185 acres of raw land across northern Nevada for $7.4 million, according to Lou Berrego of West Haven Development Group.

The properties, which had been owned by Wells Fargo Bank, extend from Wingfield Springs to Washoe Valley to Gardnerville, Berrego says. The deal was closed in May 2012 and was the first U.S. market property purchase the company has ever made.

The company, along with Lou Berrego, looked at over 100 properties across the United States, including properties in Miami, Chicago, Orange County and New York. The first deal picked was the Reno area properties.

Hot Tempered, Hard Drinking and God-Fearing

All that was missing was a passable road through the area, so Hanson ordered one to be cut. A survey was made of the coast from the Klamath to Crescent City as 1855 was nearing its end.  Building a road in rugged and steep terrain had its trouble, but not as many as the difficulties with Capt. Robert G. Buchanan and his hot temper.

Buchanan’s temper prompted the man first ordered to create the Agency, S.G. Whipple to ask that the company of soldiers still in his area not be subject to orders from Fort Humboldt.  Whipple asked that the men be permanently assigned to the Klamath Reservation.

However, when Henley brought up the subject with Brig. Gen. John E. Wool, the commander of the Department of the Pacific, he was told that the detachment was being recalled because they had no quarters on the reservation. This left Whipple with 5,000 Indians who has recently “been hostile.”

As the year 1855 came to a close, Whipple busied himself purchasing flour from a mill near Kepel, directing his agents to ready gardens for the Indians to use for potatoes and other plants.  They bought gardening tools for them, along with seeds and twine for fishing nets.

And as the nearby war on the Rogue River ended, Whipple asked them to move to Wilson Creek. He promised them the government would help them until land could be cultivated and food grown.

He also promised to reimburse them for their fisheries and 900 square miles of land with money paid to them in their currency, Ali-cachuck.  But Whipple resigned in 1856 and was replaced by Agent by James A. Patterson.

Patterson repudiated the agreement, whereby the Tolowa returned to their Rancherias on the Smith River and the coast north of Crescent City.  In October 1856, Lt. Hezekiah Garder of the 4th Infantry concentrated them on Smith Island, where he issued those rations and clothing at the government’s expense.

Patterson was found so drunk in Crescent City in January 1857,  that he slept in his clothes in the bar of a local hotel.  He continued drinking the next day and passed out in a local stable’s stall and an investigation of his conduct was called for.

When the charges were substantiated, he was ordered removed, and replaced by V.E. Geiger. However, Geiger declined the appointment, so Maj. H. P. Heintzelman was nominated as sub-agent and told to take charge of the Klamath River Reservation. 

Unlike his predecessor, Heintzelman was industrious and “God-fearing.” He prohibited liquor and gambling on the reservation, ordered his employees not to drink or co-habit with Indian women on pain of discharge. 

He too, would soon find himself being discharged.

The Glass Pool Inn Sign

The Glass Pool Inn was a two-story motel at the southernmost end of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s most striking feature was its kidney-shaped, 54,000-gallon above-ground swimming pool with seven portholes that allowed passers-by to see swimmers underwater.

About the only structure on the desert when it was built in 1952, the Glass Pool Inn was a like a “mirage” to travelers exhausted from the heat of the Nevada desert. It was originally named the Mirage Motel, but changed its name with the arrival of the Mirage Luxury Resort.

It closed in 2003 and was demolished in 2006, leaving only the Glass Pool Inn’s sign standing alone in an otherwise vacant lot. Now the Neon Museum of Las Vegas is searching for it after it disappeared in May.

The sign itself was a landmark for its size and unique design of two light-blue, pond-shaped facades with the motel name and an advertisement for its slot machines. The large sign was being kept on the motel property behind a locked fence before its disappearance.

Unlike many of older ‘cabinet signs,’ the Glass Pool Inn sign is made of a curvy metal which can be damaged easily. Officials says if a crane wasn’t used to move it — it would have needed to be cut apart.

Given the size of the sign and what its extraction would require, the sign may not have survived its removal from the lot. For now the sign is gone and its whereabouts remain unknown.

To My Son, the Graduate

It was a night for which I couldn’t have been prouder. I witnessed my son, Kyle walk across the stage and receive his high school diploma.

It might seem like a simple piece of paper to some, by to Kyle, I sure it feels like the achievement of a life-time. That’s because of all the trouble had getting to that stage.

First, he had ear infections as a toddler that were so bad he developed a hearing problem. He was unable to hear certain sounds and this set him back when it came to talking.

Because of this he was held back in Kindergarten. It was a tough decision but one that was correct none the less.

Like most kids — Kyle struggled with the discipline of school. He also found himself bored with many of the subjects, preferring to ‘self-educate’ himself on that which interested him, such as art, science-fiction, the latin language and Greek and Roman mythology.

Kyle attended Christian schools until his senior year, when continuing with a private education became financially impossible to handle for his mother or myself. Excited by the prospect of going to public school, he enrolled at Galena High.

And despite repeated assurances and an eleven credit load that he would graduate on time in 2011 he came up short by half an elective-credit. It came down to the title of one class — “Christian Studies” verses “Religious Studies.”

So, set back once again, Kyle refused to surrender and go for his GED (though he seriously thought about it), and instead stepped up for one more semester of high school. In that semester he took art, photography, small-engine repair and welding.

The final day of the semester he was told by his art teacher he had failed her class because he had turned in incomplete paintings and drawings. Once again it look as if he’d have to complete yet another semester.

However, an artist since before Kindergarten, Kyle overwhelmed that teacher with work he’d completed over the years and she relinquished — but jus’ barely. She gave him a ‘D’ — which doesn’t look like much — but is a passing grade none-the-less.

Since then, Kyle’s been attending Truckee Meadows Community College and carrying a ‘B’ average. He has plans to attend the Art Institute of San Francisco — because it’ll offer him a foot into Pixar, Disney or one of those places that make animated films.

There are not enough words to express jus’ how proud I am of his success — not only for finishing school — but for his internal fortitude! Where others may have and some did fail to press on, he stayed the path and earned a bright future!

It’s more than either his mother or I could have asked for.

Silver Tailings: Tahoe from Grant to Clinton

The first chief executive to visit Lake Tahoe was Ulysses S. Grant, in October 1879, two-years after leaving office. And contrary to popular belief, John Kennedy’s visits to Tahoe were before he was elected president in November 1960.

It’s rumored he visited the Cal-Neva, which was owned by Frank Sinatra at the time, for a tryst with Marilyn Monroe. However the only documented account of Kennedy visiting Lake Tahoe was as a Massachusetts U.S. Senator seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Besides Monroe was in Los Angeles, rehearsing for the movie “Let’s Make Love,” at the time.

Less than a year after Grant’s visit, the first sitting president to visit Tahoe as well as Nevada, was Rutherford B. Hayes. On September 7th, 1880, he arrived in Northern Nevada along with the First Lady, General William Tecumseh Sherman and Secretary of War Alexander Ramsey.

After a brief stop in Reno to make speech, Hayes and company were driven to Spooner Summit by legendary stagecoach driver Hank Monk. Once there, the group took the train to Glenbrook, then boarded the steamboat, “Meteor” for a trip across Lake Tahoe.

One-hundred-seventeen years would pass before another President would officially visit the lake.

President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore hosted the Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum at Incline Village in 1997. Clinton eventually signed an executive order on July 26th of that year, creating an agency charged with management of Federal projects within the Lake Tahoe Basin.

A Drive-by Cashing

My wife and I were running a few errands in town before going out to lunch. We were heading north on Rock Blvd,  jus’ south of Prater Way in Sparks when I saw a black SUV fly through the intersection.

The next second – I saw what looked like pieces of paper come flying out of the open window behind the woman driver. The papers were released by a toddler – perhaps 3-years-old.

It took another second for it to dawn on me that those pieces of paper were actually legal tender. I shouted for the wife to stop the car and let me out so I could scoop up as much as possible.

Before I could get there, two then three other men were in the intersection grabbing up the cash. I joined in the free-for-all and managed to get a hold of several bills.

Turns out they were only one-dollar bills – hardly worth the effort. And it became obvious at that point that the SUV wasn’t going to come back and the money already grabbed up wasn’t going to be returned – so I handed mine to the nearest guy, who had also been collecting the dollars in the roadway.

In the end, I figure the woman driving the SUV didn’t realize her child was throwing her money out the window. I’m only surmising here, but I think she left her open purse next to the kid with the money in view and easily accessible.

Children being children, the toddler chucked the cash out the window, not knowing he or she was doing something Mom wouldn’t appreciate. I imagine Mom’s still trying to figure out what happened to all her one-dollar bills she was planning to use for laundry later that day.

Honestly — had those ones been hundreds – I’d have kept them. Is that bad of me or what?

A Knock at the Door

The doorbell rang and I looked at the clock — 9:30.

“Who the hell’s coming to our front door at his time of night?” I asked myself, “Better no be a salesman or some shit like that.”

Peeking through the peephole and saw a man in uniform standing jus’ to the left of the door frame. Beyond him, parked in the street was a white and green cruiser from the Washoe County Sheriff’s office.

Quickly I though about what I might have done wrong to get in trouble with the law and concluded I’d done nothing. Then my thoughts raced to my son Kyle and whether he was okay or not.

Upon opening the door the deputy smiled and said, “You left the trunk open on your car.”

My racing heart slowed down as I looked out towards the drive way. The trunk of the car was open and I laughed, “Thank you.”

“No problem,” deputy responded as he walked back towards his cruiser.

Earlier in the day, Kay had gone to the store and she must have left it open after bringing in the groceries. I slammed it shut and waved at the deputy as he drove away.

Once back inside, I was met by Kay, who asked, “Did I hear the door-bell?”

“Yup,” I answered, adding, “It was the sheriff’s office.”

“What did they want?” she asked.

“They wanted me to close the trunk of your car,” I answered.

“Oh, my goodness,” she replied, “I forgot all about it.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” I returned.

Then Kay’s eyes grew wide, “And no blogging about this!”

“What? And let everyone know this isn’t the first time you’ve done this?” I countered.

“Yes, exactly,” she shot back.

“Would I do that?” I asked in a mischievous tone.

“Yeah!” she answered.

Kay knows me too well.

Remains Identified as Eureka California Woman

The Sierra County, California Sheriff’s Office has identified the remains of a woman found in the forest several years ago. Her skeletal remains were found in a heavily wooded area off State Route 89 that runs between Truckee and Calpine in 2003, in the central part of Sierra County.

Since then, authorities have been trying to figure out the identity of those remains.  Recently, they received word they belong to Charlene Rosser of Eureka, California.

Identification was made through DNA samples from her mother and father, which had been sent to the California Department of Justice’s DNA lab. Rosser’s mother notified the Eureka Police Department that her daughter was missing in October 1998 after having last been seen in April 1998.

Rosser, who was known to accept rides from truck drivers, was 29 when she was reported missing. Her death is now being investigated as a homicide.

If you have any information on this case, you’re being asked to call the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office at 1-888-274-3743.

The Air Force’s Missing Trainer

While completing background research about adventurer Steve Fossett, I happened across a related story. This one takes place May 9, 1957 and is still the subject of speculation.

“Wife Refused to Let Hope Dwindle,” declared the front-page headline in the Reno Evening Gazette on July 3, 1957. The story of David Steeves dominated the upper half of the page.

“I don’t think a wife, deep down, ever really gives up hope,” Rita Steeves was quoted.

David Steeves was a U.S. Air Force lieutenant who was accused of giving a Lockheed T-33A trainer jet to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He had been ordered to fly the jet from Hamilton Air Force Base in California to Craig Air Force Base in Alabama.

Both Steeves and the jet disappeared, and he was declared dead after a search turned up nothing. Some 54-days later, he walked out of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, saying he had parachuted to safety after something blew up in the jet.

The parachute had torn upon opening, causing the 23-year-old to suffer a hard landing and severely twist his ankle. He remained in place, using what was left of his parachute to bundle up against the cold.

Steeves told authorities he hadn’t eaten for nearly two weeks and thought he was going to stave to death, when found an unused ranger’s cabin in Kings Canyon National Park. There he also discovered a tin of beans and ham, sugar and a packet of dried soup, which helped him survive.

Eventually, Steeves built a trap and was able to catch a deer. By the 13th day, he felt strong to try to reach civilization.

On July 1, after several attempts and failures, Steeves stumbled upon some hunters warming themselves by a campfire and told them who be was. And for a while, he was treated like a hero.

But when the Air Force couldn’t find any wreckage, Steeves was accused of giving the jet to Russia or shipping it piecemeal to Mexico. Even though no charges were brought against him, the rumor destroyed his military career.

Steeves spent the following years searching for his jet, renting planes and scouring the countryside. He, like so many others, never located a single thing from the downed T-33A.

Steeves, remained in the U.S. Air Force as a Reservist, flying and designing experimental airplanes. He was killed on October 16, 1965 during a demonstration flight of one of these new aircraft.

In 1977, some Boy Scouts from the Los Angeles area on a hiking trip in Dusy Basin in Kings Canyon National Park came across a cockpit cover. The serial number on it matched the missing T-33A jet that Steeves had piloted.

Where it was found, triangulates well with the U.S. Air Force’s 41st Air Rescue Squadron’s mission report of longitude 36 14 north, latitude 118 41 west. However the remainder of the craft has yet to be officially located.