Lucky you! Here is another issue of The Greshrey. Get ready to be exhilarated or depressed, happy or revulsed as you waste another few minutes of your life reading this missive.

I was playing on the internet the other day and happened on the WWI song, “Over There” which ends in my favorite lyric “ . . . and we won’t be back ‘till it’s over over there.’”  Then I went  to John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”.  I think I am going to listen next to “Caissons Go Rolling Along”, the Marine Hymn, and “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder”.  I urge you to listen to these songs for reasons I will explain. But enough musing about music. . .

Didja know that “only in America …

  1. do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage?
  2. do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight?
  3. do we have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering?”  (Thanks RVTravel)

Didja know that Thomas Paine was a prolific best selling author in the latter part of the 18th century?  Paine was one of the Founding Fathers who in his writings powerfully urged independence from England rather than a dispute with it over taxes. He questioned the rights of kings. I recommend that you read some of his writings. (I have all his writings on my Ipad and they go with me everywhere.)

Didja know that I love NY?  Why, you ask. Not because I was born there (I came to California when I was 6), or because it has the best pastrami sandwich (It doesn’t. The best pastrami sandwich is from Harold’s Deli in Edison, NJ.) Then why?  Because, like Martin Luther King, I have a dream, a dream where T-rump goes from the White House to the Jail House. And nowhere is this more likely to happen than in New York. Mark my words.

Didja know that the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report will for the first time include same-sex couples in its count of married workers?

I know that you think I am rambling so I will more or less get to the point. Remember the playground ditty, “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”? Unfortunately this is not true. Words can hurt. In fact, they can cause a lot of emotions, reactions, and actions.

George Washington knew this. He had Thomas Paine’s Crisis pamphlets read aloud to his troops at Valley Forge to inspire them. And obviously we fought the Revolutionary War for independence proving Paine’s pen was “mightier than the sword!”   President Franklyn Roosevelt knew this when he asked Congress to declare war on Japan in his “day that will live in infamy” speech following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, experienced this. In 1918 while in England Wilson–a soldier at the time–came across the gravestone of an 18th century British grenadier. The gravestone was inscribed,

“In Memory of Thomas Thetcher a Grenadier in the North Reg. of Hants Militia,

who died of a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small Beer when hot the 12 May 1764. Aged 26 Years.

In grateful remembrance of whose universal good will towards his Comrades, this Stone is placed here at their expence [sic], as a small testimony of their regard and concern.

Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,

Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer,

Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall

And when ye’re hot drink Strong or none at all.

An Honest Soldier never is forgot

Whether he die by Musket or by Pot.”

A few years later Wilson’s life was consumed by alcohol. Then he and a fellow group of alcoholics founded “Alcoholics Anonymous” which saved him.  In his book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” Wilson recounts his encounter with Thetcher’s gravestone as a major influence on his recovery. (Atlas Obscura 2-14-20)

Moving on. . . .

Did you take my urging and listen to “Over There” or any of the other songs? Did the songs stir something in you, even a little? As an Army veteran sometimes I come close to tears when I hear the songs.  I can’t help myself.

How do you feel about learning that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is recognizing same-sex marriages in its U.S. Jobs report?  Did you say, “it’s about time?” or did you have another reaction? How strong was it?

What about the “only in America” funny but true statements? Did they make you laugh? Did you think about your garage? Did your thoughts go to hot dogs and buns? Are you intending to count the hot dogs and buns in the packages the next time you are at the store?

What about my “White House to the jail house dream?” Did you have a reaction?Do you say to yourself, if only? Or did you say, “he did nothing wrong” so he will not go to jail. Did you think something else? Was your reaction associated with your feelings about T-rump? Would you classify it as strong?

Of course, not all reactions to words are severe, some are very mild. But words can create emotions.  Words are not always harmless and they can lead to physical action, like those arising from the Trump Effect. Never heard of the Trump Effect? This is the name given to Trump’s divisive rhetoric during his campaign and subsequent election that emboldened hate crime perpetrators which  has contributed to more hate crimes.

Is there really such thing as the “Trump Effect”?

In a study released in January 2018 by Griffins Sims Edwards (Univ. of Alabama) and Stephen Rushin (Loyola University Chicago,)  “…compelling evidence to support the Trump Effect hypothesis” was found.  In that study it was concluded that “Donald Trump’s election in November of 2016 was associated with a statistically significant surge in reported hate crimes across the United States, . . . “ and  “ . . . counties that voted for President Trump by the widest margins in the presidential election also experienced the largest increases in reported hate crimes.”

In another study entitled “Trump and racism: What do the data say?” (Vanessa Williamson and Isabella Gelfand, August 2019, Brookings) it was found “. . . there is substantial evidence that Trump has encouraged racism and benefitted politically from it. . .”  The study authors said that “Trump’s support in the 2016 campaign was clearly driven by racism, sexism, and xenophobia.  While some observers have explained Trump’s success as a result of economic anxiety, the data demonstrate that anti-immigrant sentiment, racism, and sexism are much more strongly related to support for Trump. . .”

While many studies show correlative effects, some experiments show directly that being exposed to Trump’s rhetoric actually increases expressions of prejudice.

In one 2017 survey mentioned by Williamson and Gelfand, researchers randomly exposed some respondents to racist comments by the president, such as: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Other respondents were exposed to a statement by Hillary Clinton condemning prejudiced Trump supporters. Later in the study, the respondents were asked their opinion of various groups, including Mexican people, black people, and young people. Those who had read Trump’s words were more likely to write derogatory things not only about Mexican people, but also about other groups as well.  By contrast, those who were exposed to Clinton’s words were less likely to express offensive views towards Muslims. The study concluded that “words do matter, and data proves it.”

Now to the other side of life.

“Someone stole all of my credit cards, but I won’t be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.” (Henny Youngman)

“I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes and six months later you start all over again.” (Joan Rivers)

Now it’s time to say goodby so I will end with these thoughts: “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly . . . and for the same reason.” Source unknown. And, as always, sleep tight but with one eye open. T-rump is still president and he is looking to take something from you.