Archive for June, 2017

“Everyone wants to live longer. Now you can by taking our $%^&@, you can be with your family longer.” What horse manure is that? Sure, we’d all love to live longer and Optiva or whatever the hell it’s called tells us that we can. Okay, but what about the quality of our life. If I take this or whatever other placebo they’re offering this month, will my quality of life be what it was before I contracted whatever the hell it is I have that’s killing me? I may be a bit cynical on this point, but my answer is, “fuck, no!”

Coarse? Of course, it’s coarse. So am I when it comes to talking about television ads that show drugs that can prolong one’s quantity of life without describing exactly what the quality of that life will be. Nine years ago, my wife died of cancer. She was told that she was in Stage IV. There is no Stage V. They told her that chemotherapy would allow her to be with her family for a longer time. She went through two – I think it was two – sessions of chemo before she said, “Un-huh, thanks, but no thanks. Take me home and just ease my pain.” It was an absolutely horrible 13 months, for her…for me…for everyone who ever knew or loved my Joan. Yes, perhaps chemotherapy might have prolonged her life, but would she have been the same bright, smart, funny, intelligent lady we all knew or would she have suffered even longer. They, the doctors that is, told us after her diagnosis that there was nothing they could do. They told us that she was terminal. Why, in the name of God, would one wish to take drugs to prolong the quantity of life without preserving the quality of life?

I see the ads on television foe these life-prolonging drugs and I have to believe that the pharmaceutical companies aren’t telling the whole story. “Oh, but new cures are being found every day,” doctors will say. It may be tomorrow that we’ll find the cure.” No, no you won’t…because the minute you think you have the cure, particularly in the case of cancer, it will mutate, and it will strike again, and your supposed cure will not help that next person.

Fact of the matter is, I see ads on television now, and most of them make me sick. So, a young person is about to graduate from college. In all probability, they have incurred a certain about of debt. That’s fine, but why are these car companies enticing them to buy a new car by offer a certain amount of the MRP for new college graduates. They don’t tell you that the excise tax on a new car can be a back-breaker, or that whatever the amount is, you’re still increasing your debt…and they aren’t as polite about collecting their money as some of your college loan folk might be. Just another bunch of half-truths to fleece you out of your hard-earned cash.

But, enough about television ads and the crap that they try to push on it, let’s get back to the whole living thing. Families should really talk together – as a family unit – about the seniors and how they want their lives to be lived. You, yes you, have you talked with your Mom and Dad about what they want in their senior years. Do they want to be kept alive by all means possible? Do you want them kept alive by all means possible and how do that feel about that? Oh, and Mom, Dad, have you made your wishes known to the children? What do you want, because, after all, it is your life we’re talking about…yes, and your death as well? People don’t seem to want to talk about these things anymore. Look, let’s get one thing straight…you, me, the kids, everyone, we’re all going to take that last breath someday. Okay, so maybe you don’t want to think about it right now. After all, you’re only, what, I dunno, how old? Maybe you still think you or your folks are among the immortal few. It’s not unlike people I know who are in their forties, fifties, and yes, some who are even older, but who yet to have a will drawn, have never appointed anyone as an executor, don’t even have a health care proxy. Sounds a little stupid, doesn’t it?

In this day and age, when you can actually go online and find examples of wills and other important documents, it would seem that anyone with any kind of assets, would want to make things clear. “If I cannot speak for myself, e.g., I’m in a coma because of an accident and there’s little chance I’ll come out, pull the foolish plug and reduce the hospital bill,” this is what I want you to do. “Make certain that the antique chair in the living room goes to Mary because I told her years ago she could have it.” Ah, but unless it’s in writing, Mary could be left in the dust because brother George has had his eye on that chair for years…even though he’s never told anyone! Are you beginning to get the picture?

There are so many end of life decisions that can and should be made ahead of time, and that will solve a great many problems, that it seems foolish not to discuss them when everything is still hunky-dory. No, I’m not trying to be a wet blanket; I’m trying to be practical. And in answer to your unasked question, yes, I have a will; yes, I have a health care proxy; yes, I have made it plain that I do not wish to be kept alive by artificial crap that may prolong my life while ruining my quality of life. It’s your call, but which is better, to be kept alive as a vegetable or just continue to be a nut and then go out hell bent for leather?

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Allergies. Three words. What-a-bitch!

I didn’t have allergies until I was 80! What is this nonsense? I don’t like allergies. They are a pain in the butt. Not only that, but have you purchased any of these allergy over-the-counter drugs lately? Twenty-three bucks for a pill that, on me at least, doesn’t seem to work. I went to the gym this morning, pedaled my butt off, did 10.3 miles in 43 minutes, banged out 250 ab crunches, gassed up the car, came home, and within five minutes, I’m sneezing worse than one of the seven dwarfs, and blowing my nose enough to put Kleenex workers on an extra shift. What the hell is going on here? I mean, when I have to take my hands off the keyboard to blow my nose every 20 seconds, this is not a good thing…nope, not a good thing at all.

What are allergies anyway? I understand that it’s when the immune system reacts to something in the air, like the pollen from trees or grass, foods, pet dander, or something else, but what does that really mean? Is it that the immune system is more sensitive, is breaking down, what? I don’t recall that my parents or siblings ever had allergies, so how come I’m so lucky?

I joke, of course. Allergies, as I understand it, can affect anyone at any age. I also understand that one can outgrow certain allergies, that they can come and go, but the most important thing is that they can also kill. My grandson has a peanut allergy and carries an EpiPen with him wherever he goes. A friend of mine attended a dinner one evening where the canapes contained crabmeat. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was highly allergic to seafood. Thankfully, someone with some knowledge was carrying an EpiPen and could help her. Oh, the symptoms? Her throat closed and she had difficulty breathing, to the point where she fainted. Since she was ignorant of her allergy up to that time, you can well imagine just how frightening the experience was for her.

For those who don’t have allergies, it’s probably difficult to understand how those who have them suffer. As I have said, my allergies began shortly after I turned 80. I viewed this as a breaking down of my immune system more than anything else, but medically, I’m wrong. The immune system, if anything, has just become more sensitive…dammit! I must admit that my empathy is much greater now for Juli, my grandson, and others I know who have had allergies for long periods. It’s difficult to imagine having to walk around with a life-saving device in your pocket every day, to be ready at a moment’s notice to have to jab yourself, through clothing if necessary, to save your life. That is one frightening situation.

As I was doing a bit of research about allergies, it reminded me of one entire family, mom, dad, and a couple of sons, all of whom had allergic reactions to bee stings. Dad was a member of the management faculty at Northeastern. Mom worked in alumni records, and the boys were still in high school. Mildred, the mom, told me that each member of the family had to carry an injection kit. They also had kits in both cars and in many rooms in their house. Evidently, the sting of a single bee could be life threatening to these folks. I was much younger than Mildred or her husband, Lyman, and in hindsight I recall not being particularly empathetic to their plight…shame on me for my stupidity. According to HealthLine, “Allergies have a genetic component, meaning that they can be passed down from parent to child. However, only a general susceptibility to allergic reaction is genetic. Specific allergies are not passed down. For instance, if your mother is allergic to shellfish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be too.” I know of only one case where someone actually slipped a peanut butter cookie into our grandson’s lunch. Fortunately, another student saw it happen and warned Ryan. Allergy ignorance is not funny…at all…in the least…ever! Although allergies are very common, it appears that most reactions are mild, including watery eyes, itching, runny nose, and coughing. If you suspect that you or someone in your family has allergic reactions, don’t mess around. Check with your doctor to learn what can be done. Fortunately, my allergic reactions are simple and easily solved. In fact, I’m rather thankful for them. It allows me to know what’s going on and empathize when someone complains, “Oh, my damned allergies are kicking up.”

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Hey, America, rise and shine. It’s time to play America’s game…no, not Wheel of Fortune. That has now been replaced by our newest and most exciting contest…Who Do You Trust…the game where members of the ‘insider group’ testify before the United States Congress – that’s right, the do-nothing group of the 21st Century – and tell their version of the truth about anything! Yeah, let’s hear it for Congress, the same folks who can’t pass a health care bill, revise a new tax plan, or balance the federal budget.

Perhaps this is what we’re all fated to do at some point in our lives, ie, watch Congress interrogate others over issues that never get resolved and that wind up with one side just calling the other “nut jobs,” “show-boaters,” and other idiotic appellations. I believe we’ve seen just how that turns out. An angry person grabs a gun and begins shooting. It happened in Arizona with Gaby Giffords and again in Virginia with the shooting of several people whose only crime was that they were playing baseball but happened to be unified by their Republicanism. Congressman Steve Scalise wasn’t a Congressman when he was shot. He wasn’t a Republican when he was shot. He wasn’t an “enemy of the state” when he was shot. He was a guy playing baseball today so that he could show off tomorrow in a charity game.

What the hell is wrong with us, those of us elected to public office, but who are deadlocked by putting party over country? What the hell is wrong with us, those of us who believe we can solve conflict by picking up a gun and shooting people whose political views differ from ours? Is this the “New America?” I cannot help but be reminded of the violence that took place on the floor of the United States Senate just prior to the Civil War…or, if you insist, the war for Southern Independence. You may recall that Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was railing against compromises that helped to perpetuate slavery. In so doing, he managed to really, and I mean really, alienate Preston Brooks, a member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina. It seems that Brooks felt Sumner’s remarks, some of which were directed at South Carolina’s Senator Andrew Butler, an uncle of Brooks, were, well, rather unkind. On May 22nd, Brooks walked onto the Senate floor and began beating Sumner with his cane…severely beating him with a heavy cane. Is that the next step in this orgy of violence that we see breaking out all over our country. Will we have a clashing catfight between Diane Feinstein of California and Susan Collins of Maine. Maybe we can set up a boxing ring in the Capitol gym and have James Comey battle Jeff Sessions to settle the “He said, he said” question.

We are better than this. We are better than what we are becoming. It’s time for the adults to come back into the room and tell the children to stop their Tweeting. It’s time for the adults to tell them to put aside their differences and work together to put in place a strengthened health care program – if Sri Lanka, Croatia, England, France, Canada, Germany, and more than 50 other nations can have universal health care, why can’t we – and get it out to the people. Forget this party politics bullshit and start to think about country first. A Republican Congressman from Illinois noted on television this morning that he had been sworn at, shouted at and spit upon, and this was in his own state…what the hell does it take to get these people to understand that Americans are fed up with their childish antics. He then went on to say that many Democratic Congressmen are friends of his. I hope that one of his aides taped the interview. Perhaps when he looks at it in his office – to see if his tie was straight and the camera caught his best side – he might also begin to question whether he’s serving his country or just those above him in his party.

Many years ago, Texas multi-millionaire Ross Perot ran for President with the slogan, “Wake Up America.” Ross, although a little to the right of Donald Trump and Genghis Khan, was a square shooter – no pun intended. He was defeated in the primaries but I really liked his slogan. Maybe some independent individual with no axe to grind will come up with a platform to please more than half of our voting population, and maybe he or she will adopt Ross’s old slogan. Maybe if we, the voting public, wake up and recognize that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are representing anyone other than those of their own party, we can oust the whole bunch of them and start over. Maybe we’ll just call the new parties the Whigs and the Tories…nah, we tried that and look where it got us. My point is simply this, our elected representatives, from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches must shut party labels away in the closet and do what is right for the country. If they cannot do that, our faltering political system will definitely come under the control of other nations, and we will cease to exist as the United States of America.

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To give or not to give

I received a letter the other day from a foundation – I won’t tell you which one – asking me to contribute to their efforts. Just for the hell of it, I checked out a web site that told me the chief executive officer of that foundation makes an annual salary of $203,000. Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s an awful lot of money. It sort of pissed me off. I’m a retiree, living on an income of well below – and I mean well below – even $85,000 a year. Even though the price of food, house insurance, property taxes, prescription medications, etcetera, continue to rise, my annual income doesn’t.

I enjoy giving to charities that I feel should be supported. There was a time when my gift was measured in the number of hours I volunteered. I sat in a room on a Saturday morning and recorded books for the blind. I oversaw Tee shirt sales for a race that benefited Amnesty International, did a whole pile of work for the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge which benefits the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Research Center, and volunteered for several other charity events. Hey, I was working higher education, and if you don’t know, you-do-not-get-rich-in-that-field.

Today is a different story. My back and legs are shot to hell. I can’t stand in one place for more than a couple of minutes and I can’t walk 25 yards without having to stop and rest for a moment. The days of running around, putting glow sticks to mark a route for volunteers to follow after they’ve parked their cars in a designated lot at 3:30 in the morning are far behind me. It was a great deal of fun while it lasted but while the spirit may be willing, the flesh has other ideas.

I’m not going to kid you, I’m making more money in retirement than I did when I was working. Seems kind of strange, doesn’t it, but that’s the way our retirement plan worked out. So now, instead of volunteering my body, I do make modest contributions to those charities that I believe are really helping people. I will not, however, contribute to any charity where the CEO is making three or more times the amount of money that I am. And that’s just the reported salary. Heaven only knows what other perks are included with the job, e.g., car, expense account, clothing allowance, etcetera.

Perhaps it’s the fact that a good part of my career in higher education was spent on the periphery of fund raising, but I know that “giving until it feels good,” is not just a slogan coined by some development officer many years ago. I know that when I support the Williamsburg Foundation or Rosie’s Place or some other charity, it gives me a warm feeling. On the other hand, when I look at a request from an organization such as AARP, and learn that the chairman of the Foundation is making better than half a million bucks, I just don’t feel the need to put forth any more of my dollars.

For a long time, the wealthy of this country gave 1.3 percent of their wealth to charity. On the other hand, those classified as “poor” were giving 3.2 percent. Of course, that figure is deceiving, but it wasn’t until 2010 that things got serious. It started simply enough, and I quote, “In August 2010, 40 of America’s wealthiest individuals and couples joined together in a commitment to give more than half of their wealth away. Created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge came to life following a series of conversations with philanthropists around the world about how they could collectively set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy.” Oh, sure, you may be thinking, they have all that money so they can afford to do it, but think about it…half of their wealth? Just think of what can be done with “all of that money.”

“The Giving Pledge is a simple concept: an open invitation for billionaires, or those who would be if not for their giving, to publicly dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. And it is inspired by the example set by millions of people at all income levels who give generously–and often at great personal sacrifice–to make the world better. Envisioned as a multi-generational effort, the Giving Pledge aims over time to help shift the social norms of philanthropy toward giving more, giving sooner, and giving smarter.”

Okay, so maybe you and I can’t give away half of our “wealth,” if that’s what you want to call what we have, but our contributions are just as important as someone who gives a million bucks. Don’t laugh, it’s true. It’s true because that five dollars or twenty-five or more may be harder for us to part with than it is for the billionaire to part with a million. If you give canned goods to the US Postal Service or drop a buck in a fireman’s boot; if you can’t walk out of a store at Christmas time and put some coins or a bill in a Salvation Army kettle, doesn’t it make you feel a bit better about yourself? Damned right it does.

I’m not asking you to go out and become a philanthropist. I am asking that you consider finding a charity in which you have an interest. Check it out carefully. If you like what you see, think about making a small contribution to help that charity continue its work. At first, you might believe that your modest contribution doesn’t mean one whole helluva lot, but trust me, it does. I like to put it this way: “Who knows, it may be my single dollar, the last buck, that will help find a cure for cancer or provide a meal for a homeless person in a shelter.” It’s not the amount that is important, it’s the thought behind that gift.

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Life is a present

I refuse to believe that I’m sitting in God’s waiting room. I will not accept that those fatalists tell me I have one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. Okay, so I’m 82, get up five or six times a night to pee, have bruises all over my arms from this or that, and I can’t jump up and click my heels like I did when I was a youthful 65, but so what?

I saw an interview the other day with Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, and Dick Van Dyke. They are all in their nineties and still going strong. “Oh, sure,” you say, “they have access to the best doctors in Hollywood. They’re all rich and don’t have any worries.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Yeah, they don’t have to concern themselves with money – as far as we know – but it’s their attitude toward life that excites me. They are excited just to put their feet on the floor in the morning, and I feel the very same way. Reiner maintains that the first thing he reads in the paper every morning, before he even gets out of bed, he reads the obituaries. “If my name’s not there, I get up and have breakfast,” he told the interviewer, while both Lear and Van Dyke roared their approval. I guess he figures if his name was in the obits, he’d just have a cup of coffee and go back to bed…awaiting the retraction no doubt.

A fellow came to me in the gym recently. He said, “I’ve never forgotten what you told me when I was complaining about how sore I felt.” I asked what I had told him – I remembered…I was just checking. “You said that after my 40th birthday, if I didn’t wake up hurting somewhere, I was already dead and just too stupid to lie down.” “That’s very good,” I said, “and after 75, if you don’t hurt everywhere, you haven’t moved in the right way yet.” It’s true. We all have our crosses to bear, but if we treat those crosses with a sense of humor, as morbid as that might sound, they will be made a bit lighter.

Today is generally my day off from working out at the gym. However, I had two early morning doctor appointments so I thought, “What the hell,” maybe you’ll take tomorrow off instead and off I went to Planet Fitness. I did a brief, 20-minute cardio routine and then worked on eight weight machines that covered arms, chest, shoulders, and legs. It’s a special section of the gym where they have what they call “the 30-minute workout.” I’m fully prepared for the pain that will strike…not tomorrow, but the day after. You rarely hurt the day following weight training, but if you’ve done it right, you’ll feel a bit of discomfort two days later. “Why do you want pain at all?” you ask. The only way I can explain it is that this is ‘good’ pain. Sound weird? Yeah, I know, but it’s different. It’s like asking someone why they do stretching exercises. If you don’t, you are more apt to pull a muscle or worse yet, suffer a tear. Lifting weights makes small tears in your muscles but it also strengthens them. Look, I’m no physiologist, I just know that it works for me and the people I know.

So, at the first doctor’s appointment, I learned that my glaucoma is getting worse because my line of sight is a bit narrower than it was last year. No problem, it just means that I’ll have to do more stretching of my neck muscles so I can turn my head faster, right? Hey, guess we took care of that problem. At the second doctor’s appointment, I was shown the test results from a biopsy performed last week. That scab on my head that wouldn’t heal, yep, you guessed it…on its way to become some kind of skin cancer. The dermatologist thought it would be a good idea to hit the entire area with liquid nitrogen…talk about your ice cream headaches, mama mia! While driving home after these two medical visits, I didn’t concern myself with what either doctor had to say. The skies were clearing after several days of rain. The traffic was light with very few idiots on the road. I’d had a great workout, and life is pretty damned good, but then, any morning you are able to pull the sheet off your own face rather than having a morgue attendant do it is a pretty damned good day.

It’s easy to complain about aches and pains. Look how fortunate we are to have them. A number of people with whom we graduated from high school or college don’t have the blessing of those aches and pains. They didn’t make it this far. I leave you with this old parable, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift which is why we call it the ‘present.’”

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These terror attacks in London seem to me to be something we should have seen coming some time ago. That’s not a very nice thing to say, I’m sure, but think about it for a moment. I don’t know precisely what the catalyst has been but extremism has been around for millions of years. Peoples have been killing for as long as man has existed. Cain slaying Abel may be what some call “the first case of murder,” but it’s always been there. Extremism, in any form, always reaches a point of violence of one group against another.

It seems to me, and I’m certainly no theologian, that the God of the Old Testament was about as violent and wrathful as anyone, deity or not. I look at my own country and see just how prejudiced it and I am. For the most part, people will deny their prejudices, but deep down, we all have them. We may cross the street if we see a homeless person coming toward us, talking to him or herself while wheeling a shopping cart filled with god only knows what. The same may be true if we see a group of young men who appear to be “looking tough” coming in our direction. What do you think when a car drives by with all of its windows open and the radio blaring so loudly that you think you’ll go deaf from the assault on your eardrums…no, no, no, I don’t want your answer. What did you think when I stated that scenario? How did you react?

Because of…because of a lot of things, we are more attuned, more aware, or made more aware of violence wherever and whenever it occurs. A week or so ago, I posted a piece on domestic violence and in it I said that an American woman is battered every nine seconds, and a person is shot every fourteen hours in a domestic dispute. I come home from a pleasant lunch and read that five people in Orlando, Florida have been killed by a disgruntled employee. Hell, I worked more than 40 years in a variety of jobs. I’ve seen employees pissed off at any number of levels, but I don’t ever recall one, at least in my working career, taking a gun and killing someone. Becoming sufficiently angry that you are willing to sacrifice your own life just to kill others seems to me to be a 21st Century phenomenon. Yet, as I said above, we can take this entire violence schtick all the way back to the Bible.

I swore this wouldn’t evolve into a history lesson, but think about the violence committed against the Native Americans when explorers first landed on the continent of North America. The Spaniards greeted the Indians with swords and blunderbusses. The Puritans conducted raids and massacres, then turned around and began accusing one another of witchcraft…and the only way it seems you were able to prove you weren’t a wish was to die. It’s crazy.

We bitch and wail and wring our hands when we hear that some female in some Middle Eastern society has been stoned to death for what appears to us to be a nothing ‘crime.’ But how long has that been going on in that particular society or culture. How about the human sacrifices that we are just now learning of in our exploration of early civilizations? Civilizations, that’s a hell of a word, isn’t it? What is so civilized about a group of people who would sacrifice others to appease…what? To appease the gods? Ah, but there is only one God. Really? Because you’d never know it the way we treat one another in today’s age of enlightenment. That’s a joke. We’re no more enlightened than man has ever been since the beginning of time. We’re not enlightened because we still feel, deep down in our bowels that killing is alright and can be justified in situations that we believe are right and just. A father becomes depressed and kills his entire family by slitting their throats. What is the hue and cry? “Give that son-of-a-bitch a taste of his own medicine.” “Hang the bastard.” “He should be shot.” Outrage. Outrage. Outrage. We’ve all said it in one form or another, and anyone who says, “Not me,” is a liar.

Hatred and rage is part of the human psyche. How do we combat it? I haven’t a clue. Maybe, if we didn’t make it sound so exciting, whether on television, in social media, as headlines in our daily papers, maybe that could be a start…but that is not going to happen. We certainly can’t terrify people who are determined to kill others by telling them that they, too, will die. That doesn’t work because in all too many cases, that’s exactly what they want and expect. You can’t very well say, “Well, let’s go on an extremist hunt and kill the bastards before they kill us good guys.” Repeat that to yourself, if you’d like, and then you’ll see just how nonsensical that statement is. Who are the extremists? Are they the ones with the different colored skin? Perhaps they’re the people down the street whose cooking smells are different from our own. Maybe they’re the ones where the men all have long beards. Perhaps they’re the ones with the curls and long hair and who dress differently from the way “we” dress. Is every woman who wears a hajib a terrorist. Perhaps it’s those who speak with an accent…no, no, not that accent, a different accent. Are you beginning to get the drift here? For the most part, extremists do not walk around with a sign around their necks proclaiming their extremism. You and I might well be classified as extremists by others, but I don’t really believe that either of us is going to pick up a gun or the keys to our car or truck and run people down while firing away. Well, that’s me. You, eh, I haven’t a clue.

So, do you see the difficulty of stopping people from killing one another? Why do we think it’s more prevalent today than at other times in history? Who knows, maybe it isn’t. Maybe, it’s that our world, once so massive that it took months for news from one continent to reach another, is now so small, that we can view, almost live, actions taking place across the globe. Could that, possibly be it? An extremist sees an action taking place half a world away and thinks, “Dammit, that’s right, I’m going to out and do something about it,” without ever even realizing just precisely what “it” really is.

Maybe there is no solution. Maybe terrorism or extremism or whatever label you wish to attach to it is just another part of what living is all about. You walk down the street, you get shot, so what? You’re riding on the 420 bus to wherever and the bus driver flips out, starts running people down and drives the bus off a bridge, so what? I hate to think of life in these terms, but it certainly seems to be the reality of today. It’s kind of sad when you think about it. I remember a time when my folks never locked their doors. I’m quite certain, if they were alive today, their doors would be locked and the guns they owned would not just be for hunting rabbit and deer. Come to think of it, I’ll bet they’re in a far, far better place than some of us.

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Okay, what now?

With a piece of the Antarctica ice shelf about the size of Delaware ready to break off, yeah, I believe in climate change. With seas rising to the point where small island nations in the Pacific may be wiped out, weather events becoming more extreme, and oceans becoming warmer, yeah, I believe in climate change…oh, and don’t forget the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, there is good news to report…Republican Congressman Tim Walberg of Michigan let it be known recently that while he believes the climate has been changing since the beginning of time, when the problem becomes too big, that God will take care of it. You go, Tim, you the man! I suppose we should be pleased that he didn’t tweet something as ridiculous as Trump did when he said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Okay, despite the fact that he tweeted it, he did later say that it was a joke. Gee, Donny, if you thought it was a joke, why the hell did you pull us out of the Paris Accord…just so we could be like Syria and Nicaragua, those world leader nations? There are others in the “what climate change” padded cell, including Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia who has said, “Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.” Uh, gee, Paul, how many scientists have you talked to lately.

However, political gaffes don’t all have to do with climate change or global warming. Day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out, we hear from our politicians’ idiotic remarks that must cause many of us to pause and ask ourselves, “Why the hell did we ever elect that damned fool to represent us?” For example, “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” said Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri). Excuse me, but what is “legitimate” about rape in the first place, and please, please, explain to a group of rape victims how they could have “shut that whole thing down.” Then there was this gem: “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said. Broun, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is a doctor, and would have been taught many of the generally accepted principles of evolution and embryology in medical school. Eeek!

A few years ago, we were in the middle of a financial crisis, fighting two wars, losing jobs at an intolerable rate, but Representative Peter King of NY thought it would be a good idea to introduce a bill in Congress that “…any mobile phone containing a digital camera that is manufactured for sale in the United States shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken with the camera in such phone. A mobile phone manufactured after such date shall not be equipped with a means of disabling or silencing such tone or sound.” Wow, that’s really taking action against…against…wait a minute, what about the people who already have these ‘silent phone cameras?’

When it comes right down to it, dumb, stupid, ignorant, or arrogant actions or words by our politicians are not only not funny, they are a reflection on us the American public who voted these idiots into office. Aside from very few inconsequential pieces of legislation, what the hell has the United States Congress been doing for the past ten years? Really, think about it, and yet every two or four years, we keep putting these jerks back in their little seats where they refuse to have anything to do who isn’t a member of their own party. This is just plain wrong!

Republican members of Congress had nearly eight years to develop a health care program that would be ‘better’ than the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pushed through by Obama. Everyone and his brother knew that this was not a perfect ‘cure’ for Americans everywhere. Instead, the members of the Republican Congress time and time and time again, attempted to pass measures that would either gut or defund the ACA rather than working behind the scenes to come up with an alternative that would be acceptable to both Democratic colleagues and a new person in the White House. What happened is known to all. No one bothered to think things through until the White House did become occupied by a member of the GOP, and then, the bill they came up with couldn’t even pass because members of their own party wouldn’t accept it. Seems to me that Bobby Jindal hit the nail on the head when he said, “We have got to stop being the party of stupid.”

Hey, I’m the first one to say that bureaucracy in Washington is totally out of control. Redundancy is piled atop redundancy as it was decades ago when I was serving a tour at the Pentagon. There was a plethora of stupid idiots with their thumbs in their bums and their minds in neutral (thanks, Cecily) and who would run like hell from anything vaguely resembling the dirty word, “work.” I am quite certain that the same is true for Senators and Representatives…their people are their people and by God, the bigger the staff, the more important the leader. Just to give you one example of redundancy upon redundancy, there are – as far as we know – 17 different agencies responsible for collecting and acting upon intelligence. After 9/11, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created to coordinate the activities of the other 16 agencies. Here we go, there is the CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI, DSBI&R, DHS-OIA, DEA-ONSI, DT-OIA, DE-OI&C, NG-IA, NRO, AFIS&R, AMI, ONI, USMCI, and CGI. Now, I could tell you what all of those initials mean, but then I’d have to come to your house and kill you, and what the hell, neither of us wants that. From all of those initials, however, you can understand why I believe that we are just a wee bit overburdened with conflicting intelligence bullshit gathered from too many agencies, employing too many people with just way too much time on their hands.

I’m truly sorry, but God will not protect us from people like Representatives Walberg or Broun, or the entire United States Congress, nor will the Creator, if that happens to be your belief, protect us from someone like Donald Trump who has already served to alienate most of our European allies as well, it would appear, as the Pope. At home, some 1,100 positions that have to undergo Congressional approval have yet to have nominations sent to the Hill. If this is Mr. Trump’s idea of reducing government, he’s doing a hell of a job of it, but it would seem that his ‘deconstruction’ of government may very well end up creating more problems than it will solve.

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