“This Town’s History”

I am a transplanted Chicago resident who currently resides in a small town in the southeast corner of Iowa known as Keokuk. Originally, the quietness of the neighborhood, the absence of panhandlers and thugs, the lack of constant wailing from police cars and fire trucks gave me a feeling of a place straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. I appreciated the geographical location where the town lays – adjoining states of Illinois and Missouri are mere miles away – and the prospective commerce the Tri – State community could bring. The major economic engine of Keokuk is manufacturing and agricultural services. Lately, there has been an exodus of manufacturing/factory closings in the area with Steel Castings being the most recent. Such an economic decline leaves the city’s residents in a state of disappointment and fear, thus preventing them from using what disposable income they have accrued on patronizing local establishments and bolstering the local economy.

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This led me to begin pondering ways in which our city could lift its spirits and economy to the benefit of not only the residents, but our surrounding areas. What I discovered through research and talking with longtime residents is that Keokuk has a very rich history to be proud of. People of historical prominence ( both locally and nationally) have helped shape what the town has become. From sports, politics, art, music, people such as Howard Hughes, Bud Fowler, Ramo Stotts, Benjamin P. Alexander among others have left a unique legacy specifically for this city and region which should be a beacon to many who reside in or visit this area (Keokuk, Celebrities of Keokuk).

budfowler
First African-American Professional baseball player

 

Learning that Keokuk has such a renowned history, I began to contemplate how our past history could be merged with the present in order to establish future opportunities for tourism and commerce. This article is just an introduction to my effort in helping our community realize the potential benefits of the rich history many have left for us and hopefully to use that knowledge to empower our citizens, businesses, and government to seek ways to enable Keokuk to prosper.

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The Shame of Marital Rape

Imagine being forced to engage in sexual acts against your will by the very person who professed to be your “soulmate”. Furthermore, the resulting consequence ends up with you being impregnated by the antagonist!! How would you feel? What would you do? Who could you turn to? There are millions of women who’ve experienced just such a nightmare scenario committed by men that pledged to ” love, honor, protect, and respect ” them in the initial stages of a fledgling relationship only to transform into a raging deviant once he believes he has convincingly pulled her into his web of unobstructed control. Federal and local law is clear when it  comes to defining rape and/ or sexual assault perpetrated against victims and assailants unknown to one another, but what exactly does the law say when the parties are involved in an intimate relationship? According to national and state analyses, at least 1 in 7 women have been subject to some form of marital rape (http://ncmdr.org/state_law_chart.html). Since July 1993, all 50 states have some provision in which to charge a husband with this crime yet amazingly, there are still some 8 states that allow exemptions to this law in certain instances.

These are very tumultuous times for the victim and grow exponentially worse when a pregnancy results from this savage act. Due to the fact that there is very little to virtually no prosecution in these matters, the victim will almost certainly remain extremely fearful of repercussion from this miscreant. It has been estimated that up to 70% of marital rapes go unreported by women for various reasons (http://healthresearchfunding.org/21-spousal-rape-statistics/).
 

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When you factor in a society governed by patriarchal laws and add to it misconstrued religious dogma, is it any wonder why women in today’s society still feel disenfranchised? Despite gains made by women over the centuries to obtain equal rights, there remains much to overcome – especially if you consider that the women we speak of are mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and daughters of someone. It is shocking to believe that even though we are living in the 21st century, such draconian views towards women are still acceptable in a so- called “advanced” society.

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Born to be Alive!!!!

Going through the transition from displaced worker to independent freelance writer, I have had many a moment when things looked pretty bleak. I question things like my financial outlook, what subjects interest me enough to write about, how can I continue to developed and expand my domain and social media connections, and why is it taking so long to make my mark in this niche industry. By researching other writers, talking to those who are successful and content in their occupations, along with instructors who love to disseminate knowledge concerning the wonders of social media, I was at once both intimidated
and enthralled !!!! Intimidation was a factor because this is a new venture for me. I have been adept at espousing my views via a comment section on some random news article or blog post which interested me but taking it to another level of actually developing my own ideas to share across the medium presented so many unknowns. Understanding that there are perhaps millions to tens of millions of other writers and bloggers in cyberspace – many that possess greater skills and backgrounds – only increased my anxiety but the commitment to actually becoming a part of this community remains. What causes so much excitement for me is the undeniable fact that there is so much to learn about this new world. Where is the niche audience? Should my writing inform, motivate, or enrage people who read it? Does the information I parse out enable the reader to further pursue other means of information by way of differing media platforms? Will it someday lead me to higher exposure or notoriety? Mostly, the biggest question is will  I be able to earn a living doing what brings me enjoyment.

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Through the various journeys of life I have traversed, they lead to one singular realization: a life of fulfillment can either be attainable by effort and reward, or denied when one is consumed by failure and constraint. I’ve worked in occupations which have committed me to 16 hour days up to 7 days a week yet lacked satisfaction even as I was content with nice paychecks therefore enabling me to enjoy some luxuries in life for myself and my family. In this moment of my life, reflection becomes a permanent companion whom I can lean on when melancholy creeps in. I contemplate all that has transpired on my life’s journey; all the friends and family who’ve passed on, the memorable or unforgettable jobs I’ve worked, the loves I’ve engaged in, and the many other instances where I have survived and flourish and come up with one conclusion – I was born to be alive and to live this life to its fullest, no matter what!!!

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The Continuing Saga of Trump’s Call to Ban All Muslims

Another wave of elections have come and gone. Hillary Clinton is marching convincingly to the Democratic nomination while Donald Trump continues to rack up delegates as the “Stop Trump” movement lurches and fumbles  to find any way to stop him. It has become sort of a memorized mantra as to why many Republicans support The Donald. Recited rhetoric such as ” he tells it like it is, he isn’t beholden to special interests, he’ll make America great again” seem to burst forth from supporters in an almost robotic soliloquy. There have been so many reasons that some view Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls as an indictment against the ‘establishment’ that no amount of discussion nor reasoning could dissuade them from thinking otherwise. Aside from his embrace of unruly and violent retribution against those who dared disrupt his rallies, discounting the xenophobic, misogynistic statements which poured from his lips early in his fledgling campaign, and his continuing bloviating about restoring America to greatness
via negotiation, the most troubling aspect of his campaign is the continued belief of his sycophants that all Muslims should be banned from entering the United States. Never mind that there exists upwards of 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, the fact that that there is no real discernable way to identify ALL of them makes such a pronouncement troublesome. The origin of this recent anti – Islamic sentiment stems from the tragedy which occurred in San Bernardino, California on December 02, 2015 where 14 innocents were killed and 22 injured. Add to that the searing remembrance of the December 11, 2001 terror attacks and the rise of the Islamic State conducting acts of barbarism via social media understandably stoked fears amongst some of the citizenry. Whereas Trump has seized on this fear to enhance his positioning within the Republican Party( which is a common tactic politicians exploit to garner votes), results from exit polls show that those voters on the right in general and Trump supporters in particular harbor strong feelings on this issue. Polling shows that 2/3rds of Republicans support a ban on Muslims, 75% of Trump disciples approve of such a measure, and a staggering 78% of his base in the Southern states overwhelmingly wish it to be the law of the land(http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/donald-trump-electing-islamophpbia-160313104258994.html).
What makes this so alarming is that facts seem to have been omitted in relation to the everyday dangers the average American faces when going about their routine. Since 2007 until present, there have been a total of 45 fatalities from terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens on our soil(http://securitydata.newamerica.net/extremists/deadly-attacks.html). By contrast, in the same period, there have been at least 372 mass shootings leaving up to 475 dead and 1,870 injured (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604). Whether it’s fear of offending those who cling to their Second Amendment rights or refusal to acknowledge that most of the perpetrators who carry out these atrocities are predominately white males, there has not been much of an outcry from either party. It may seem in fashion to portray Muslims as the bogeyman during this primary season to gain an advantage over an opponent, but one should remember that they are part of the electorate, have served our country in various capacities, work and pay taxes, and generally assimilate into this melting pot called America.

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OOPS!!! Trump rhetoric meets reality

In Chicago recently, a rally for Donald Trump at the University of Illinois/Chicago morphed into a chaotic, confrontational mass of differing opinions and emotions. There were naturally groups in support of the Republican presidential candidate but, unlike other Trump rallies, there was a conspicuous amount of non – Trump adherents who arrived to present a counterview. While the immediate sensationalism of these current events dominated the night’s media attention, past outcomes from protestor versus supporter encounters have not garnered the same consideration in the press. Most of the visual journalism seemed to seek out combatants from each respective group engaging one another through violence but there was very little for them to focus on in that regard. Pundits’ views ranged from feigned shock and outrage, to condemnation and deflection as the night wore on. It was both interesting and surreal to be a part of some real time conflict. News reports indicate that students and some faculty had circulated a petition requesting that the University cancel Trump’s rally on campus but apparently it was dismissed by higher authorities. This led to vigorous social media activity by students who mobilized with other anti Trump factions to hold highly visible demonstrations at the event (http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2016/03/12/3759465/how-activists-mobilized-chicago). It’s now apparent that with the seeming victory resulting from a collective call to action, more of these larger protest will become the norm – and that is a good thing.

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Is there a future after 50?

You work for years, even decades in your craft. You study, take training classes, and ascend to higher levels within your occupation simply by experience and time. Then, BOOM!!!! Your employer informs you that the job you’ve pretty much dedicated your life to, the place you’ve sometimes spent more of your life at than at home, will no longer exist. Welcome to the world of the Baby Boomer displacement. If you are of this generation like I am, you’ll soon discover that for a person 50 years of age or older, it will take approximately 5.8 weeks longer to find employment than someone between the ages of 30 – 49 years of age, and 10.6 weeks longer than those age 20- 29 (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/finding-job-after-50-study_n_7603590.html). This, of course, only heightens anxiety for those in limbo – you are close to retirement age but not quite yet so what are you to do? Creditors do not care if you are unemployed, they want their money!!! You still have to eat, there are things that must be attended to, and you still have to find a way to be productive and profitable. If you are fortunate enough to become gainfully employed, chances are you will make significantly less wages than with your previous job. Although there is a lack of specific data to examine the exact percentages in various industries in relation to wage earning shrinkage, individual accounts of finding employment after displacement shows most Boomers earn significantly less in their new positions (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15537917 ns/business-answer_desk/t/how-are-older-laid-off-workers-faring/).

While there is a plethora of information concerning the financial, psychological, and health ramifications of layoffs and displacements, the good news is there are now programs in place – both governmental and private industry – which empowers displaced Boomers to seek training in the skills needed to compete in today’s market (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/12white-house-announces-details-president-s-plan-provide-americans-job-training). By taking advantage of available programs, older workers stand a good chance of assimilating into updated careers and skills.

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Are voters angry at politicians or themselves

There is a refrain which seems to have become sort of a mantra nowadays that voters are casting ballots out of “anger”. When asked what causes this reaction, various generalities are offered such as dissatisfaction with governmental policy, gridlock on legislation, dislike for the president, and one party has been able to advance their agenda at the perceived expense of the other party. I was watching the Republican debate which was held in the state of Michigan with the hope that a candidate would show a semblance of statesmanship by mentioning the crisis in nearby Flint, Michigan which is mired in an environmental catastrophe (
Flint water crisis). You would think all citizens would be outraged by this act of negligence and demand immediate action from responsible city leaders. Instead it has degenerated into political partisanship without thought to the well – being of the populace (GOP Senators holding up Flint aid deal@ The Hill). None of the candidates spoke about the situation – presumably to spare the Republican governor any more embarrassment which was disappointing. It is these type of actions, along with the continued vitriol and hyperbole that infuriate some in the electorate.

Another issue seldom discussed is the participation rate of voting – aged Americans in the electoral process. If non citizens and felons are eliminated from the overall voting census, a staggering 84.3% of U.S. citizens are eligible to vote yet only 53.6% participate in any election( http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/06/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries)
is a well known axiom that less voter turnout favors the Republican Party while more turnout benefits the Democrats. Herein lies the dilemma; as both political parties attempt to gain an advantage of a percentage of the voting sector, many people are left feeling outside the process. Add to that attempts at voter suppression, racial identity rhetoric, misleading advertisement, bombastic campaigning and other issues, it is no wonder people don’t believe in the process yet we as citizens are the ones who continue to suffer because of our inability to recognize that our right to vote was earned through blood and death in the name of freedom.
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