SHREVEPORT – Here in my little burg of Shreveport, a robust debate is underway about Michael Vick; I bring this up because I’m interested in how this debate plays in other parts of the country.
You see, Michael Vick, as you may recall, is now probably more famous for his dogfighting conviction as for any skills he may have on the football field.
In 2007, Michael Vick was convicted in Richmond, Virginia for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. His 23 month sentence was more than that of his co-defendants because the judge found him to be less than truthful about his involvement in the ring. The judge said:
“You were instrumental in facilitating, putting together, organizing and funding this cruel and inhuman sporting activity. While you have acknowledged guilt and apologized, I’m convinced it was not a momentary lapse of judgment on your part. You were a full partner.”
In fact, Vick pleaded guilty to “bankrolling a dogfighting operation…and to helping kill six to eight dogs.”
And now, in Shreveport, one of our most venerable and respecting arts institutions, the Strand Theater, has rented their space to the Michael Vick Comedy Explosion Tour, and Shreveport has drawn lines in the sand.
There are those who are aghast and horrified that any venue would rent to Michael Vick at all, much less one of the most respected and beloved cultural icons of the city. The animal rights community is planning a protest of the event and some have even gone so far as to vow to never support any further endeavors of The Strand at all.
“One must be a true Sociopath to be able to watch animals suffering in horrendous ways at your own hands and not feel guilty. Remember that every serial killer started by torturing, mutilating and killing animals. Vick is no different than Jeffery Dahmer, Albert “The Boston Strangler” DeSalvo, The Columbine Killers, and Denis Rader (The BTK Killer). Vick may not be a “human” serial killer but he is a serial killer none-the-less. No amount of jail time can rehabilitate an already corrupt, empty soul. He has shown no remorse, when doing interviews and when the dogs are mentioned you can blatantly see his eyes turn cold and dark, and his “involvement” with the Humane Society was the best “PR” move ever by his publicists.
So with that being said, I will speak loudly and proudly against him, stand up for what’s right, never forget the innocent lives lost, and never again support a company that has endorsed him, given him money or given him publicity. I have not supported Nike or Subway in over 5 years because of their support of him; and, unfortunately, I will never again support The Strand…”
Others have taken the position to simply boycott the event but to give The Strand a pass on the Vick association and will still support other Strand events.
And still others have taken the position that Vick has “paid his dues” and deserves a second chance.
SHREVEPORT – What in the world is going on with Common Core in Louisiana? Has Governor Bobby Jindal pulled Louisiana out of Common Core or not? The thing is, actually, no, he hasn’t. He can’t.
Louisiana is different than a lot of states in that the state school board has much more power than one might assume; more power in educational matters than the governor.
Back up to 2011: in his zeal for education reform in Louisiana, Governor Jindal stacked the BESE Board (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) with folks favorable to his then ideas for educational reform which included Common Core and a stringent yet subjective teacher evaluation system called COMPASS:
The governor’s faction will have their way in matters of policy, including his choice for superintendent of education,[Associated Press reporter Melinda] Deslatte concedes: “Jindal’s got three appointees to the board, and most of the eight elected members espouse his support of vouchers, charter school expansion, school takeovers and teacher evaluations tied at least partly to student test scores.”
Now, back to 2014 and the friction between Education Superintendent John White and Governor Jindal is explosive. They are now on totally opposite sides of the educational issue. Now, Jindal has issued an Executive Order demanding that Louisiana drop the PARCC assessment, yet this responsibility actually lies with the BESE board, the board that Jindal created. So, since Jindal can’t actually scrap the PARCC assessment on his own, his line of argument centers on the legalities of the contract for the test:
Jindal’s officials have said the school board must pursue a new contract for the assessment, compiled by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC for short. The governor’s office could force education officials to look at other vendors besides PARCC — which is associated with Common Core — if that was the case.
White and school board president Chas Roemer maintain that they could use an existing contract with a vendor to purchase PARCC questions, thereby neutering the Jindal administration’s ability to force them to look at tests other than ones associated with Common Core. In response, the Jindal administration suspended the state contract with the vendor White and Roemer intended to use to purchase PARCC questions.
“Under Louisiana law, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are prohibited from entering into a contract for the purpose of circumventing the laws governing procurement,” said Kristy Nichols, who heads up the state’s department that oversees contracts for Jindal, in a written statement.
And there you have the standoff.
Adding to the drama is the question of Jindal’s political future; in essence, he has done a complete reversal on Common Core, and has challenged his hand-picked BESE board, and some would question his motives. Is this a true commitment to educational reform or is it political expediency? Is it the mother of all flip-flops?
The battle is ongoing but as of now, school districts in Louisiana are preparing to go ahead with the Common Core standards this fall. Nothing has changed.
SHREVEPORT — “The Obama administration has been caught off guard…”
Fill in the blank.
The most recent version is that the Obama administration has been caught off guard by the escalation of violence in Iraq:
The Obama administration has been caught off guard by the worsening situation in Iraq, and Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) is pointing to the failures of the president’s intelligence team as the reason.
I’m not real sure how they could be caught off guard by this situation unless the intelligence team is busy catapulting cows across the great divide or something. Pretty much everyone could see this one coming.
The White House tried Tuesday to douse flames of criticism over allegations that dozens of veterans have died because of gross mismanagement at Veterans Affairs hospitals.
President Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, met frustrated Democrats on Capitol Hill who are outraged by reports of secret waiting lists used by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
And they were caught off guard by the NSA scandal, by Fast and Furious, by the failure of the Obamacare rollout, and by the Benghazi outrage.
Say what you will about this administration, but it does not instill a feeling of well being or of safety. The legacy of this administration is one of corruption, of ineptitude, and of dishonesty. We are considerably weaker that we were when this man was elected.
It will only get worse; I do not see this administration taking any steps whatsoever to ensure they are not caught “off guard” again; I don’t see any signs that this administration cares about being ON guard.
Like the fox guarding the hen house, I’d say.
Getting caught off guard is not an effective leadership strategy.
SHREVEPORT — I have no delusions about the 2016 presidential election. We, as a nation, are in serious, serious trouble. This trouble is the result of myriad reasons however complicit in this downward spiral we now find ourselves in is without a doubt the mainstream, legacy media.
I’m not the least bit interested in reading this book, however the review sucked me in with the comment that the book “provides a portrait of the former secretary of state and former first lady as a heavy-duty policy wonk.”
“A heavy-duty policy wonk”?
That never crossed my mind. Ever.
The review goes on to laud Mrs. Clinton and to praise the book as a “statesmanlike document intended to attest Mrs. Clinton’s wide-ranging experience on national security and foreign policy.”
Oh, please. It’s too much.
Can we talk about Benghazi?
Can we talk about Fast and Furious?
I don’t think so. Not one bit.
Okay, so the review goes on in this vein and you can read it yourself if you must, but trust me, it’s all the same whitewash driveling sap that we got about Obama. And we all know that the legacy media is going to continue to prop up these incompetent fools while our country spins around the bowl, but surely, surely people are smarter than that now, right? Haven’t we learned something over the past tenure of Obama?
I am reassured to see that most of the comments attached to this article question Mrs. Clinton’s ability to lead the country and question her leadership on issues like Benghazi and Fast and Furious.
There are, of course, a few Hillary supporters who commented:
One woman says she will certainly vote for Clinton because “we are contemporaries (I am exactly the same age as Clinton)…”. Well, that’s a good reason to vote for a president, eh? To be fair, this woman goes on to say that she admires Mrs. Clinton’s “tenacity and ability to accept challenges” which is a good quality however I don’t think that it actually applies to Mrs. Clinton. How did she accept the challenge of Benghazi, again?
Have we caught those who murdered Chris Stevens yet?
What about Fast and Furious? How did she accept that challenge?
Let’s just hit the reset button on all that, shall we? No. She must answer for all of that.
Clearly there will be those voters who will just vote for Hillary because she’s a woman, because she’s a contemporary, or for whatever nonsense, but by the tone of the comments maybe, just maybe, people are not going to be snowed by The New York Times this time. Maybe people are ready for a true leader who will put the country back on the track to prosperity.
SHREVEPORT – The resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki last week came as no real surprise. It won’t solve the problem but he had to fall on his sword. The VA has been a mess for years and it really isn’t Shinseki’s fault, although certainly he has had time to take steps to bring it around.
This scandal won’t go away as others have, because all America is united in this thought: We care about our military veterans. We’ve asked a great deal of them, and they have a right to expect a great deal from us. Also, everyone in America knows what it’s like to go to a bureaucracy when you’re in need and get jerked around and ignored.
She is more optimistic that I am, but we shall see.
In either case, it is clear that our veterans need help, support, and care. One of my monthly charitable donations is to The Wounded Warrior Project – an organization I’ve been proud to contribute to for several years now. One evening over dinner a friend of ours said, “Why, you don’t need to give money to them; the government takes care of the veterans through the VA!”
Clearly, it doesn’t.
I’m all for doing whatever we can in support of our veterans whether it is through donating to The Wounded Warrior Project, visiting vets at a nursing home, or running across America barefooted to raise awareness.
What? Surely by now you’ve heard about Anna Judd, the young woman who is running across America, from Venice Beach to New York City, to raise awareness of the problems veterans face each day. Anna made a stop in Shreveport this weekend and we had the privilege of meeting her at a Memorial Day service Friday (the traditional date of Memorial Day).
She is a lithe, suntanned little thing with big blue eyes and two blonde braids. She stopped by the local Memorial Day service to show her support for, and to talk to, local veterans. She did a couple of interviews with our local newspaper and radio station and she participated in a couple of events such as a group run across town which ended at the local Veterans Park.
Anna runs about 33 miles per day, she says, and she told The Shreveport Times that the trek has been much more difficult than she first anticipated. She’s lost seven toenails and has had to make visits to the chiropractor after running on Highway 80 which wasn’t level and caused her hips to rock out of joint.
An RV carrying Anna’s mother and her manager follow along and Anna sleeps in the RV (which has no air conditioning – a problem in Louisiana). There’s a Facebook page where you can follow her journey and there is a website as well.
At our Memorial Day ceremony Anna posed for pictures with the Sons of the Confederacy, and with anyone else who wanted a photo, and she visited with Major (Ret.) Ron Chatelain, the most decorated living veteran in the state of Louisiana. Of Mr. Chatelain, Anna wrote:
I had the pleasure of meeting the most decorated Veteran in Louisiana, Ron Chatelain, who had eyes that were some of the clearest and brightest that I have every [sic] seen He offered me words of encouragement so sincere and soft-spoken that every time I opened my mouth to speak to him I could feel my voice get shaky. For the moment that we spoke I felt such a sense of safety and well-being, and I can’t explain why except that some people simply have the power to move mountains with their presence. I will remember him forever.
Will a little girl running across America really help lower our veteran suicide rate and aid those that suffer from PTSD? I don’t know. I really don’t know. But it probably helps more than Shinseki’s resignation; at least this young lady brought awareness to our little burg this week and brought smiles to the faces of some vets.
SHREVEPORT — It’s probably safe to say that Saving Private Ryan is all over your television menu this Memorial Day weekend. It’s difficult to escape the endless rebroadcasts of the moving story of Private First Class James Francis Ryan lost behind enemy lines after the Normandy D-Day invasion and the ensuing quest to save him.
The film is fiction but there is a real life version of this story right here in Shreveport. In fact, this sort of scenario existed across the nation for multiple families during that turbulent time. As we observe Memorial Day today, let me share with you the story of the Kelley family who lost three sons in less than two years.
Like all of America, Shreveport watched the unfolding events at Pearl Harbor in 1941 with horror. In February 1942, William G. Kelley (his friends and family called him “Bob”) felt the call to service and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He had graduated from the local high school, attended Louisiana College, and was attending seminary. He was ordained at the First Baptist Church in Shreveport by Dr. M. E. Dodd. When he enlisted, Bob was preaching at the Evangeline Mission, a new church in town that he helped build with the assistance of the Queensborough Baptist Church.
Bob Kelley went to officers’ school and became a bombardier; he went with the Eighth Air Force to England. Lt. Kelley had been overseas only six weeks when his plane crashed near Fontainebleau, France and claimed his life on November 10, 1944. He was twenty-four years old.
The Evangeline Mission, where Bob was a preacher, was renamed for him as Kelley Memorial Baptist Church.
A second Kelley son, Bose, Jr., died in the D-Day invasion. Al McIntosh, writing for the Rock County Star Herald, wrote on June 8, 1944, after learning that the expected invasion of France had finally taken place:
“This is no time for any premature rejoicing or cockiness because the coming weeks are going to bring grim news. This struggle is far from over – it has only started – and if anyone thinks that a gain of ten miles means that the next three hundred are going to go as fast or easy he is only an ostrich.”
He was correct: the grim news was only beginning.
Bose Kelly, Jr. enlisted in May 1942. Bose graduated from Fair Park High School in Shreveport. He was married to Betty Miller and working as a mechanic at Central Motor Company, a car dealership. Bose volunteered for the Army Airborne, went to jump school and became a paratrooper. Bose was part of the 507 PIR which became attached to the 82nd Airborne in 1943. The 507 PIR was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia on July 20, 1942 and trained there and in Alliance, Nebraska. In 1943, the 507th PIR shipped out to Northern Ireland, then England, and it was in Nottingham where they prepared for the coming Allied invasion of France. They studied sand tables, drop zones, and were given Hershey’s chocolates and a carton of cigarettes.
Bose was on a C-47, number 13 in his stick, as the plane lumbered through the fog banks toward Drop Zone T, near the west bank of the Merderet River. Because of the fog and the incoming German flak, the C-47s flew faster and higher than anticipated which caused almost all of the paratroopers to miss the drop zone. They were scattered over a 15 mile area. The 507th was the last regiment to jump and by the time Bose Kelley’s C-47 was over the Cotentin peninsula the entire area was stirred up with flak coming from every direction. There were sixteen men in Bose Kelley’s stick and at least eight of them were killed that night. The Germans had flooded the valley as a defensive tactic and some paratroopers, weighted down by equipment and unable to swim, drowned. Bose Kelley was killed by a direct hit from an artillery shell.
“This regiment unquestionably received the worst drop of the six US parachute regiments dropped that night.”
Howard Huebner, who was number 3 in Bose’s stick, survived that drop. He wrote:
I am a Paratrooper! I was 21 yrs old when we jumped into Normandy.
We knew the area where we were supposed to land, because we had studied it on sand tables, and then had to draw it on paper by memory, but that all faded as our regiment was the last to jump, and things had changed on the ground. Most of us missed our drop zone by miles. As we were over our drop zone there was a downed burning plane. Later I found out it was one of ours. The flack was hitting our plane and everything from the ground coming our way looked like the Fourth of July.
When I hit the ground in Normandy, I looked at my watch. It was 2:32 AM, June 6, 1944. I cut myself out of my chute, and the first thing I heard was shooting and some Germans hollering in German, “mucksnell toot sweet Americanos”.
We the 507th, was supposed to land fifteen miles inland, but I landed three or four miles from Utah Beach by the little town of Pouppeville. I wound up about 1000 yards from a French farm house that the Germans were using for a barracks, and about 200 feet from a river, an area that the Germans had flooded. If I would have landed in the water, I may not be here today as I can’t swim. A lot of paratroopers drowned because of the flooded area.
Local writer Gary Hines spoke to Bose’s widow, Betty, for an article he wrote for the August 2000 issue of SB Magazine. She told him, “He was going to win the war and come back home.” Betty was married at 18 and a widow at 20. She told Mr. Hines “We were both young enough to feel that he was coming home. He wasn’t going to be one of the ones who was lost.”
A third Kelley son, Edgar Rew, was drafted into the Army in 1943. He was sent to Camp McCain in Mississippi where he died five weeks later from an outbreak of spinal meningitis. He never made it out of basic training. He was 27 years old; he left behind a wife of five years.
The remaining Kelley brother was Jack. Jack Richard Kelley was serving in the medical corps in Washington at Fort Lewis. His father, Bose Kelley, Sr., wrote to U.S. Representative Overton Brooks and pleaded with him to prevent his oldest son from going overseas. It is reminiscent of the scene in Saving Private Ryan where General Marshall reads the Bixby letter to his officers. In this case, in a letter dated December 8, 1944, Mr. Kelley received word that his son Jack would remain stateside for the duration of the war. Jack Kelley died in 1998.
The bodies of Bose Kelley, Jr. and his brother William (Bob) were buried in separate military funerals in France but were returned to the United States in September 1948. Bose and his brother now rest side by side in the veterans section of Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport. Their brother, Edgar Rew Kelley, is in a civilian cemetery across town, the Jewella Cemetery on Greenwood Road. Their father, who pleaded for his fourth son to be spared, died just one month after Bose and William’s bodies were buried in Greenwood Cemetery. It’s as if he was just waiting for them to come home.
For sixty-five years their sister, Ruby, tended the graves of her brothers. There has never been a time that I visited the graves that there was not a crisp American flag flying over each and flowers. Ruby died last year and the graves are now tended by Ruby’s daughter. I visited the graves of Bose and William last week and sure enough, there were two new flags and flowers steadfastly in place.
As we observe Memorial Day today, we remember the sacrifices of young men like the Kelleys all across the country. Their name belongs alongside the Sullivan brothers, the Borgstrum brothers, the Niland brothers, and the Wright brothers. It is their heroism and their sacrifice, along with that of so many others, that we remember and honor each Memorial Day.
SHREVEPORT — “Trigger warnings.” As a teacher of literature, this blows my mind:
Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.
Are you kidding?
We have reached the pinnacle of the wimping out of America. Talk about pansy lightweights…this goes so far beyond the censorship debate it’s just unreal.
Jennifer Medina, reporting for the New York Times, reports on a growing call for “trigger warnings” on assigned literary readings. If this is the new norm, we are doomed. Doomed.
Can you imagine To Kill a Mockingbird with a “trigger warning”? What is the end result of this? The student then says, “Oh, I can’t read this book; someone once used the N-word on me and now I have trauma.”
Suck it up, people. This is what a nation of wimps looks like. I’m not without compassion; truly, I’m not. But if you’re going to tell me that you can’t read Invisible Man because you’ve experience prejudice before, then we have a problem. Incidentally, Invisible Man is THE most often cited work on the AP exam for English. As I recall, there is no “trigger warning” on that book or in the AP syllabus. Should there be?
The most vociferous criticism has focused on trigger warnings for materials that have an established place on syllabuses across the country. Among the suggestions for books that would benefit from trigger warnings are Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” (contains anti-Semitism) and Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” (addresses suicide).
I guess what they want is a totally sanitized syllabus and a reading list of Llama, Llama perhaps. Unless you have a hump, in which case even that might offend you.
… advised faculty members to “[u]nderstand triggers, avoid unnecessary triggers, and provide trigger warnings.” It defined a trigger as something that “recalls a traumatic event to an individual,” and said experiencing a trigger will “almost always disrupt a student’s learning and may make some students feel unsafe in your classroom.”
“Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct, but also to anything that might cause trauma,” the policy said. “Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.”
The policy said that “anything could be a trigger,” and advised professors to “[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.”
Where does it end? You can’t read The Grapes of Wrath anymore because you were once poor and that might illicit trauma for you. Goodbye Julius Caesar because you once had friends who stabbed you in the back (literally or not) and thus trauma. Goodbye Hamlet: you come from a broken home and we can’t risk stirring up that trauma; besides, Ophelia commits suicide and that might provoke you to do the same thing. It boggles the mind.
Truly, where does it all lead? What is left in the literary canon? Will the Bible come with a trigger warning? I am against censorship in all forms and to me “trigger warnings” are the same thing; it’s an “opt out” clause.
If we are as a coddled society are now so soft that we now need “trigger warnings” to temper the blow of challenging topics, we can reduce students to tears with just a few profane words and some provocative subject matter.
It’s just one more way of sheltering them from the real word.
SHREVEPORT: Let me join the #hashtag chorus for a just a few minutes and let’s look back at one of the weirdest weeks in #foreignpolicy in recent memory (and that’s saying something.)
I’m #baffled, really, by this #hashtag #diplomacy. What in the heck is going on here?!
Fausta posted earlier in the week on #hashtagdiplomacy in response to Michelle Obama’s now infamous tweet in which she held up a sign saying #bringbackourgirls. It is beyond bizarre to me that the First Lady would do this. Not that she’s done anything wrong, mind you, just that it’s weird. When I first saw the photo my first response was “Is this what we’ve come to?” Really?
It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week’s Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared – on social media! – and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
The key word in that, at least to me, is “Western Impotence.”
What in the world is a #hashtag going to do? Doesn’t the world already feel terrible about the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian school girls who will be (have been already?) sold in to slavery? A #hashtag is going to make us more aware? #seriously?
There’s something slightly weird about taking a hashtag – which on the Internet at least has a functional purpose – and getting a big black felt marker and writing it on a piece of cardboard and holding it up, as if somehow the comforting props of social media can be extended beyond the computer and out into the real world.
It’s #pandering is what it is. MO is taking a terrible event and pandering to her social media fan base; look at the gloomy, sad face she has adopted for the photo shoot. Was she just sitting around in the White House with this poster board in her lap when the White House photographer stumbled upon her? I think not. It’s #pandering.
That being said, I now can’t help but wonder why Reagan didn’t deal with Gorbachev by just pulling out a poster and marker: #teardownthiswall.
For that matter, Patrick Henry could have used the old hashtag trick: #givemelibertyorgivemedeath. It would have saved us a lot of trouble.
The #hashtag theory of foreign policy would have served Roosevelt well: #daythatwillliveininfamy.
The point, of course, is that Michelle’s staged photo simply illustrates the feckless foreign policy of this administration.
I was aghast. I mean, it’s embarrassing that a Twitter hashtag is all we’ve got. And, in fact, I was further embarrassed that a Twitter hashtag is assumed to be enough because all we have to do is show that we’re concerned. All we have to do is exhibit our proper intentions, and that covers it We don’t have to actually do anything. It’s perfect liberalism. You don’t solve anything. You don’t do anything. You just show that you care and you have good intentions.
We are impotent. We arm Mexican drug cartels, we bow to foreign leaders, we alienate our allies, we appease dictators, we leave our people behind in foreign countries after a massacre and never seek justice. #embarrassing.
What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.
“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”
And she’s going to be our next president? #sayitaintso.
As I said, it’s been a most bizarre week in politics, the least of which is our now most powerful weapon in foreign policy: the hashtag.
SHREVEPORT — The summer reading season is almost upon us and it’s time to assemble your vacation reading stack. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make a suggestion. If you haven’t read Michael Henry’s books you need to add them to your list.
Author Michael Henry has his own wonderful style and a gift of the ability to create memorable ad quirky characters, but if you asked me to compare his writing to anyone on the market today I’d have to say he’s a cross between John Grisham and Michael Connelly. Maybe some James Lee Burke, too. His latest novel is reminiscent of John Ludlum or Dan Brown. Well, with all that, let’s just say Mr. Henry has his own style which is reminiscent of some other really great authors!
Mr. Henry’s latest novel, Finding Ishmael, might be his best one yet. I first started reading his books in 2010 with Three Bad Years(which remains my personal favorite) and I eagerly anticipated his next novel as soon as I finish reading one. So far there have been seven! (If you haven’t been reading him this means you have missed seven great novels! There’s your summer reading right there!)
In Finding Ishmael we meet oilman Liam Connors who receives a mysterious letter from long lost fried Ike Palmer. Ike, now in Jerusalem, says he has found an ancient document that will turn the political and religious landscape of the world upside down. Ike, who says he’s had the document authenticated, needs Liam’s help to keep the document safe as he is under surveillance and, well, a little paranoid. The document concerns Islam’s historic claim to the Promised Land through Ishmael, thus the title. Of course Liam and his girlfriend Mimi get on a plane to see Ike although Mimi has some very real concerns. Things unfold rapidly from there and that’s as much of the plot I will give you, but suffice to say, it’s an incredibly topical book right now and very intriguing. Don’t start the book if you have something pressing to do because you won’t be able to put it down.
With Finding Ishmael, Mr. Henry deviates a bit from his first novels which are legal thrillers. As a former DA in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Mr. Henry has the background for writing excellent courtroom drama. He is also highly skilled in constructing dialogue and characters; many times I have found myself with the feeling that I know these characters personally.
Finding Ishmael is the first of Mr. Henry’s novels not set in the south; most of this novel takes place in Jerusalem and the characters are all well drawn and memorable. Ike Palmer is as bizarre as any character you will find anywhere. In Jerusalem, Liam is aided by an aide of Ike’s, Menachem, and the dialogue between Menachem and Liam is always engaging and often funny. As the novel approaches its climax, the book is just impossible to put down.
While Mr. Henry has written six other books before and there are recurring characters in each, this novel can stand completely alone as it is the first that introduces Liam and Mimi. The Willie Mitchell Banks series should probably be read in order, but that may just be my own particular fetish.
The subject matter of Mr. Henry’s latest book could not be more relevant to today’s headlines as the Middle East is in turmoil and our Secretary of State John Kerry continues to blunder and mismanage relations there.
I recommend starting with Finding Ishmael (because it’s so topical right now), and then go back to Three Bad Years and read through the rest. Take it from an avid reader – you will not be sorry. All the books are available either in paperback through Amazon or on Kindle.
SHREVEPORT – Remember when Nancy Pelosi said “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it…”? She was talking about Obamacare, of course, but it seems now that this profound political approach could also have applied to Common Core.
In the beginning, it was touted as the great savior of public education; it was going to raise standards across the country and “it’s bi-partisan!” they said. Governors from across the country came together and agreed to education reform and common nationwide standards.
And so it goes that not long after Common Core became policy, the backlash began. I’d venture to say that the majority of parents who send their children to public schools never even heard of Common Core before it became the rule of the land; even worse, many of them still don’t know what it is.
That’s another story.
One of the proponents for Common Core, of course, was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal; however, now that we are finding out “what is in it,” public opinion is beginning to turn against Common Core. As with Obamacare, there are still die hard believers, but the tide is turning.
Does it have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? Maybe.
In Louisiana there has been a growing rift between Governor Jindal and Education Superintendent John White as Jindal has been turning away from Common Core. Governor Jindal penned an Op-Ed in USA Today this week in which he advocated leaving education to the states:
I’m from the school that believes education is a matter best left for local control. The notion of Washington determining curricula is something most states are simply not interested in. It’s a non-starter.
“Since 2008, Jindal has touted the need for Common Core and its ability to raise Louisiana’s education standards. But now as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Jindal finds himself having to balance the political sway of the Tea Party against a program he has fought to put in place for nearly five years…”
So what changed his mind?
In his Op-Ed, Jindal says that “the federal government became increasingly involved,” and
Second, parents have spoken out. It has become fashionable in the news media to believe there is a right-wing conspiracy against Common Core. The folks who think that need to get out more. The rebellion against federal government mandated testing is widespread and is led by parents of all stripes and political persuasions.
Fair enough. I can’t begrudge a man who sees the light and alters his position, even if it does seem a little opportunistic.
Superintendent of Education John White got his job with the backing of Gov. Bobby Jindal, but two years later, the men are increasingly at odds and appear to be drifting further apart on education policy.
The rift centers on Louisiana’s shift to Common Core standards, and comes largely because Jindal did an about-face, moving from strident supporter to critic of the reading, writing and math benchmarks adopted by most states.
But the fissure, which has developed in the most recent legislative session, is a striking contrast to 2012 when White served as a sort of Jindal proxy before the Legislature, helping to muscle through the Republican governor’s sweeping education changes.
Governor Jindal has been working behind the scenes as the Louisiana legislature is in session throwing his weight and influence behind various anti-Common Core bills, but has not been successful in most cases. Earlier this month he lent support to House Bill 381 which was to scrap Common Core; the bill was defeated.
In any case, Louisiana is still a Common Core state even though the governor has changed his position. Both Governor Jindal and Superintendent White play down any rift between their now altered positions on the best educational plan for the state. Is Jindal just being opportunist, looking at 2016, or has the leopard changed his spots?
This blog exists as a full time endeavor thanks to your support.
The reporting, the commentary and the nine magnificent seven writers are all made possible because you, the reader choose to support it.
For a full month of all of what we provide ,we ask a fixed amount $1465, under $50 a day.
This month we are behind with 3 days to go we need $1042 for a full pay month. We can make our goal if we can get $350 per day We need 14 $25 Tip jar hits for each of the next four days to make that goal..
If you think the work we do here for the conservative movement is worth it, please consider hitting DaTipJar below.
Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.