Mrs. E. and I were having a late lunch in Bar Bill Tavern in East Aurora, NY. We were sharing a beef on weck (the proper way with lots of horseradish) and some wings. Bar Bill is famous for these two things and deservedly so. All of a sudden, I almost choked on my Molson draft in a frosted mug. That was because of the extremely loud conversation of two men and a woman all in their seventies who were sitting behind us. One guy said, “That damn Obama just gave those terrorists in Iran $400 million of our tax dollars.” The Woman said, “It just proves “Obamie” is a Muslim terrorist who is trying to give our country to ISIS.” The other man loudly chimed in, “That bastard never had a job before he became president and knows nothing about doing an honest day’s work.”
My head snaked around to stare at them. At that point, Mrs. E. kicked my ankle under the table. She said, “Don’t get involved, you promised me you wouldn’t talk about politics on this trip. Also, I don’t want you to get your blood pressure up.” She had a point as I had promised no political talk on the trip; I’d also forgotten to pack any blood pressure pills. I wanted to tell my tavern neighbors that; President Obama had been the director of the Developing Communities Project, a Chicago Catholic Church based-community organization. From 1985-1988 he set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants’ rights organization. He also helped steelworkers who had lost their jobs. He helped them get training and aided in finding them jobs. I can relate to that because as a former steelworker I was in that position in 1999 when the plant I worked at closed. I didn’t get much help in getting back into the job market. I would really have appreciated a community organizer like Barack Obama. Conservatives who belittled Obama for being a community organizer just don’t realize what an important job that can be to people in need. I’ve known some community organizers and it is a difficult and underpaid job. The old timers behind me had been talking about a terrible supervisor they worked for at a construction company. I guess they were luckier than me and retired without ever being forced to change careers.
President Obama also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago law School for twelve years. He directed Illinois’s Project Vote that had ten staffers and seven hundred volunteer registrars; it registered up to 400,000 unregistered African-Americans. It led Crain’s Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of “40 under Forty” powers to be. Obama then spent three years at a 13-attorney law firm that specialized in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development. Obama spent eight years in the Illinois State Senate. He then spent fours year in the US Senate before becoming president. That resume sounds like he did plenty before becoming president to me. Had I not feared being kicked again by Mrs. E. I would have stated Obama’s resume to the table behind me. I would have added that I bet all of their resumes added together wouldn’t have even come close to President Obama’s resume.
I reminded myself of why I had come back to visit East Aurora for the third time. It is a town where a hero of mine established an Arts & Craft community. I find the same peace that my hero, Elbert Hubbard found here in 1895. Here at Bar Bill Tavern in East Aurora I was having that peace disturbed by a few know nothings that get their info from FOX NEWS. I took a deep breath and tried to meditate and remind myself how tranquil I always feel in East Aurora, NY.
At that moment two men in their late 60’s sat down at the bar on the other side of us. One said very loudly, “I saw on the news that our government and that damn Obama just gave $400 million of our money to his terrorist pals in Iran.” The other man said, “I haven’t seen the news in the last few days but I’m not surprised by anything that ahole Obama does.” As I stared at them Mrs. E. waved down our waiter to get our bill. I would have given all of these folks who seem to get their news from FOX or right-wing radio these facts: The US did not pay a $400 million ransom to Iran. It was actually money Iran paid for weapons in 1979. The weapons were never delivered, so the US was actually refunding Iran its own money (plus interest) as required in a lawsuit. The Iranian government spun the story to make it look like a ransom payoff for some U.S. hostages. Of course FOX NEWS and other conservative media also spun the story to make it look like President Obama was paying ransoms.
I had thought someday about retiring somewhere like beautiful East Aurora (which is also not far from the picturesque Grand Canyon of NY) because I feel at peace there. I am now reminded some people will always eat the apple that snakes like FOX NEWS sells and F#*k up your paradise. I guess I’ll switch gears and try to find a very remote cave to retire to.
Hal Walker: “Home in Ohio”
“The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.” ~ Elbert Hubbard