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Archive for the ‘Responsibility’ Category

Individual responsibility. You, yes, you, are accountable for actions taken in your life. And every action you take has a consequence. Or, to quote Sir Isaac Newton, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Study hard, you get an A+ on the test. Slam your fist into a wall, it’s going to hurt like a son-of-a-bitch and you stand a good chance of breaking some bones. Take certain drugs while you are ill or in pain, you will feel better or get well. Continue to take some of those same drugs, you will become addicted and chances are pretty good that you will die.

Okay, so perhaps I took a bit of liberty with poor old Sir Isaac, but do you see what I’m saying? You are responsible for your actions, particularly when it comes to taking drugs in what today we are calling a world-wide opioid epidemic. If you are an adolescent or an adult and doing drugs has been your “thing” in life, great, that’s something that you have elected to do, and you are probably aware of the consequences of your actions. If you’re strung out all the time, you may not give a damn about the outcome. To hell with your family and friends who care about you because you’re doing what you want to do. Besides, if you happen to overdose, some EMT will probably have some naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan, to bring you around…maybe…or maybe not. So, if you wish to continue to get high on Percocet, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, or perhaps heroin because it’s become cheaper than some of those prescription medications, you just go ahead. I would remind you of one thing…you are the one who elected to continue to use opioids.

For those of you who may know someone with an opioid addiction, please, please do not give me excuses for their addiction. Yes, I’m certain that they had pain. Yes, I know that the doctor prescribed the drugs to which they are now addicted. Yes, I know the prescriptions ran out but by that time they were hooked. Yes, I know that they turned to the street drug, heroin, because it was cheaper and more available than Oxycontin. Yes, I know, I know, I know. However, who chose to continue taking the drugs? Who chose the feeling of euphoria over saying, “Wait just a minute here. I’m gonna be in some kind of trouble if I don’t knock this off?” It’s called individual responsibility. It’s called not-making-excuses-for-a-bad-decision. Oh, we can blame Purdue Pharma for creating the drugs, Oxycodone and Oxycontin as an alternative to morphine, codeine, Percodan, or Percocet. And we can blame our doctors who prescribed the pills for the pain, but…when it comes right down to the bottom line, did that individual really need to take something as powerful and addictive as Oxycontin? I have had over twenty surgeries in my life. My back has been invaded three times, both of my shoulders have been opened and closed, as have my knees, elbow, wrist, hand, and on, and on, and on. After my first knee surgery, I was given Percocet. It was terrific…took away the pain and the world was a great place…whoopee. I didn’t move my bowels for damn near a week, and when, after multiple doses of laxatives…well, I won’t tell you just how bad it was. When I asked the doctor why that had happened, he had one word…”Percocet.” No two ways about it, Percocet is a great drug, but I really would prefer not to have the cramps that I suffered getting away from it.

When Oxycontin came on the market, one of the advantages being pushed by Purdue Pharma was that it was “abuse resistant.” Later, when the company had been given the go ahead to create 80 and then 160 mg time release pills, its marketing materials claimed that the potential for addiction was “less than one percent.” Many articles have been written about how Purdue Pharma duped the FDA, built dossiers on doctors more likely to prescribe opioids, and segmented the country for its promotional campaigns to increase its profits. If you would like to read more about Purdue Pharma, I invite you to Google them but I will warn you ahead of time, I believe they bring ethical behavior to a new low.

Pharmaceutical companies and doctors who freely prescribe opioids as a pain medication are such a small part of the epidemic in my own mind that I just cannot bring myself to write more about them. Certainly, I have only my own experiences to go by, what some may call a single case study, but those people who allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of easy pain elimination without regard to the addiction consequences are abrogating their responsibilities to themselves and to their families and friends. I really find having sympathy for them to be difficult.

It scares the devil out of me to think that we are becoming a society of people who refuse to take charge of their lives, who believe that there will always be others to cover for their mistakes. Pain is a part of life, both physical and mental anguish. Disappointment is a part of life; learn to live with it. It’s so much easier to place blame elsewhere rather than accepting the fact that the fault lies right at one’s own front door. Why do people get medals just for participation? Why are trophies given to everyone on the team? I’m all for teamwork and cooperation but within that team, each member must shoulder his or her fair share of the burden, responsibility, or whatever term you may wish to use. It is time we recognize that making excuses for others, defending the actions of others who create problems, is not what we are about. Big pharmaceuticals don’t care if you die. Doctors who continue to prescribe opioid pain pills obviously don’t care if you die. It’s up to the individual to know and understand the consequences of just how bad opioids are and to stay as far away from them as possible.

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“No, no, no, no, no, no, NO, he’s gone. That’s it, period.”

“Aw, c’mon, maybe he thought the cameras were on. He’s used to that.”

“I’m tellin’ ya, he’s gone. He pushed the envelope too far this time.”

“Look, calm down…you telling me you did everything right the first time you got a new job?”

“New job? New job? You get this job, you better be prepared for whatever happens. This isn’t like becoming the head of GM or Ford…or even Goldman Sachs for god’s sake. I’m telling ya, he’s G-O-N-E!”

“Geez, Paul, Mitch thinks it’ll be okay. He just wants a little less drama. I don’t see why you gotta be so pissed.”

“Pissed? Pissed? You haven’t begun to see me pissed. He says we’re gonna ban Muslims…and that didn’t work…not once…but twice he said it, and it’s still not working. Then he says we’ve got a great repeal and replace health care program when he knows it’s a piece of crap. Then he blames us because his shitty health care program doesn’t get passed. Blames us, the crazy a.. idiot. What the hell is he thinking.”

“You gotta calm down man. You’re gonna work yourself into a heart attack. Okay, so he’s not sticking to script. Whadda you want me to do?”

“Do? Do? Talk to Ivanka. Talk to Jared. Talk to Kelly. Talk to the general. Somebody has to put a rein on this guy before he starts to give out classified information to the world.”

“Ah…ah…Paul. He, uh, he met with the Russian Ambassador the other d…

“Awe, cripes, don’t…you’re not…no, you’re not tellin me…”

“Ah, yep, sorry, Paul, but yeah, he did.”

“How bad?”

“Top Secret Code Word, Paul. I mean, he threw the Israeli’s right smack under the bus.”

“Aw, no, and right after Comey…aw, no, what is he thinki…no, there’s the problem right there. He’s not only not thinking, he doesn’t even have the capacity to think…Russian collusion, Mike Flynn, Comey, giving away top secrets, and now he tells them it’s the Israeli’s…aw man…

“…Well, he didn’t really say that it was the Israeli’s.”

“Whadda ya mean, he didn’t really say?”

“You know, it’s just that, well, you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know where it came from.”

“Oh, great, just great. Mossad’s really gonna want to share intelligence with us now. What’s next, Sarah Palin going to head up the FBI?”

“Paul, Paul, Paul, don’t say that too loud. We don’t know where the bugs are!”

“Oh, I know where the bugs are. The bugs are in his head. That doofuss couldn’t run an airline, his vodka business went up in flames, he’s got the Russians running their own ops out of one of his buildings, and all he can think of is grabbing more land from national monuments, probably to give to his oil drilling buddies, or for some new freakin’ golf courses!”

“Look, Paul, you’re the Speaker. You’ve gotta help us. We don’t know what to do. What do we do, Paul?”

“My advice? Now that everything has hit the fan, you come to me for advice? I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you call his son-in-law, Jared? He’s doing everything else right now, maybe he can take the guy’s computer away…or double his medication dosage…or just send him overseas and let Pence take over for a while. Nah, that won’t work either. He’ll take Pence’s batteries with him if he goes overseas. Think of it this way, now every other country in the world knows that Americans can vote even while they have their heads stuck up their collective…no, no, say, ‘heads in the sand.’ As for me, I’m going home to the first district and watch some Packer re-runs!”

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I find it difficult to understand why Senate Democrats would block Neil Gorsuch’s nomination when they all know that it will just lead to the ‘nuclear option’ that will allow the man to be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. This is just the child-like behavior that Republicans showed over the past eight years of the Obama administration. It seems to me that the two-party system in America has degenerated into a bunch of name-calling, infantile, assholedness that we often attribute to police state countries in other parts of the world. Perhaps the part that bothers me most is that the American public appears to be content to tolerate this behavior on the part of our national law makers…and that my friends is no less than absolutely frightening.

Are the Democrats so fearful the Justice Gorsuch will sway the balance of power that they have to use anything they have to prevent his nomination from passage? Yes, of course it’s true that he will be a voice of conservatism on the Court, just as Merrick Garland’s appointment would have made the Court one that would lean more to the liberal side of the aisle. However, I have to assume that the successful block of Garland’s nomination was nothing more than a cry-baby attempt by conservatives to further their agenda of diluting any kind of legacy that would be left by Obama. Certainly, Trump’s executive orders and the House’s idiotic attempt to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act seem to be designed to ensure that there is no Obama legacy to be undone.

Call me naïve or dumb or whatever you wish, but I find it absolutely ridiculous that 435 men and women, sent to Washington to do the very best for this country by composing, comparing, and enacting legislation that will benefit this nation as a whole, cannot do so. Sure, I understand that what the people in Maine want, the people in Mississippi want, and the people in Montana, Minnesota, and Massachusetts may want, but goddammit, somewhere along the line, there should be things that people in our 50 states can say, “Well, yeah, I’m not crazy about it, but I can live with it.” This is not the case today in the Houses of Congress. It’s “my way or the highway, and fuck you very much!” and that does not serve the best interests of anyone in any part of the country. Congress has become too self-absorbed with what it considers to be its own importance. To top it off, we now have a person in the White House who encourages this type of discord, although for what reasons, it’s hard to imagine. Congress can censure its own members, but the only way that America can benefit is if we throw some of these people out of office and let some new folks attempt to understand the word, “compromise.”

I can hear the politicians now…”Oh, you don’t understand how government works. You don’t realize the pressure we’re under from our constituents to stand our ground.” Perhaps not, but what I do realize is this: Too many of you have been in office too long, and you have turned government into your own political play thing, that does nothing for the nation, but that lines your pockets in ways that are unimaginable to the vast majority of your constituents. Do you think I’m joking? Time Magazine, in a January, 2014 story, wrote, “The Center for Responsive Politics analyzed the personal financial disclosure data from 2012 of the 534 current members of Congress and found that, for the first time, more than half had an average net worth of $1 million or more: 268 to be exact, up from 257 the year earlier. The median for congressional Democrats was $1.04 million and, for Republicans, $1 million even.” In that same year, the median income of Americans was $51,939. Doesn’t that make you stop and think that perhaps members of Congress cannot possibly understand what it’s like to be an average American citizen? They listen and nod their heads and commiserate with their folks back in East Bumfuck or wherever, and then they return to Washington, dining at Fiola Ware, Bourbon’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, or The Source, usually at the expense of some lobbyist or other who will get them to vote for a bill that is actually at odds with what the interests of their constituents happen to be…but they tried…they were just overwhelmed by their fellow Congressional leaders or members of their party…and it’s all a bunch of bullshit…just so they can pocket a few more bucks or increase their portfolios.

Am I a cynic? No, that’s not cynicism, it’s realism. I’ve been on this earth for over eight decades, and in that time, I’ve learned one or two things about political leaders. The first of these things is that they are overly impressed with their own self-importance. A second thing is that they may have begun their political careers hoping to change things for the better, but that they soon become corrupted by those who were in office before them and took them under their wing, and if they refused to be taken “under a wing,” they were soon out of office and never even saw the bus that they had been thrown under by their ‘friends.’ Remember what Mark Twain said, “We have the best government that money can buy,” and by God, he was absolutely right.

My political ambition never carried me farther than being vice president of a Little League, and seeing the back-biting and chicanery that happened in something as low-level as that was enough to convince me that getting into the real political arena was somewhat akin to shoveling shit against the oncoming tide…you just won’t win.

I love America with all my heart and soul. It is the greatest country on earth. It’s a land where people are free to pursue their dreams, and whether they succeed or fall flat on their collective faces, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because they are free to get up and start their pursuit all over again. Yes, I love my country, but sometimes I wonder just how we ever came to this sorry impasse that we call the United States Congress.

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In the “as if we needed to hear any more bullshit from you,” category, Donny Trump tweeted that “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”

This is just another indication of why Trump is not a leader, just a thin-skinned child who, when he doesn’t get his way, takes his ball and goes crying home…in this case, to his daughter, not his wife…hmm. It was the perfect opportunity to admit that ‘his’ congressional leaders were unable to develop a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act {ACA}. He could have followed it up with, “Now is the ideal time for Republican and Democratic leaders to reach across the aisle and, together, develop a plan that will replace the flaws in ObamaCare and that will ensure that all Americans receive appropriate health coverage.” That is something that a leader would have done.

Consider the number of times that Republicans attempted to repeal the ACA over the eight-year term of Barack Obama. The number, by the way, is sixty. It seems to me that rather than spending all of that time attempting to repeal a law, they could have more productively spent their time developing a plan to replace the Act. If you, as a member of Congress, felt that ObamaCare was such a terrible piece of legislation, wouldn’t you first come up with a better, stronger, more viable plan rather than behaving like a bunch of spoiled children? I’m sorry, am I being too logical here? Was it, perhaps, a case of, “We don’t want anything that the ‘foreign-born,’ n-word, SOB got past us to ever show up as part of his legacy! Oh, naw, that could never be the case…or could it? Was it that this first national health plan, for all its flaws, managed to get enacted by Congress?

You see, I’m rather a cynic when it comes to killing something just for the sake of killing it. I don’t hunt, but I used to enjoy deep sea fishing enormously. We kept the bluefish and stripers that we caught because people would eat them. If we were having a better than average day, it was catch and release. The Republican Party had seven years to put together a better health plan. They-didn’t-do-that. They-wanted-to-kill-a-program-that-had-been-legally-enacted-without-having-the-faintest-fucking-idea-of-what-to-replace-it-with. Now, I don’t know about you, but I might just have wanted to ask my Republican Congress person what he or she was doing to develop a plan to replace ObamaCare during those seven years, and if they didn’t have an answer, I might just have voted his/her ass right out of that Congressional seat. Am I being too harsh for you here?

Now, unable to come up with something to replace the Affordable Care Act, instead of uniting Congress, this idiot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the “Greatest Deal Maker of All Time,” whines and moans and blames everyone without even considering the tremendous opportunity put before him, starts his surrender talk with, “Well, no Democrats were going to vote for anything the Congress came up with.” Note that please. It wasn’t “…anything we came up with,” it was, “…anything Congress came up with.” In other words, “It wasn’t my fault; it was the fault of those assholes in Congress.” It’s this lack of leadership qualities or even understanding the qualities of leadership that terrifies me about this man. He was a little king in a small village when he had his businesses that were being run by others. He was a television celebrity who could do as he damn well pleased when he was on air. He is now in a position that requires skills and qualities that he has never and probably will never possess, but because of his celebrity status and the bombast with which he conducted his campaign, he was the chosen one.

There is a need for our nation to have a health plan. There is a need for a health plan that covers the rich, middle, poor, and elderly classes. It can be done. Mitt Romney showed that it could be done in Massachusetts. Was his plan perfect? No, it, too, was flawed, but care was taken to correct many of those flaws. No plan, whoever, drafts it, is going to ever be 100 percent guaranteed to work for everyone. We are not a one-size-fits-all nation. Hell, we weren’t even a one-size-fits-all-state. From the hills of Holland to the tip of Provincetown and from Florida to Dracut and beyond, Massachusetts residents have different needs, but by God, Romney tried and did something no other governor had done. Now is the time for Ryan and McConnell, Schumer and Pelosi to sit down, shake hands, look at one another, and simultaneously ask one another, “How do we pull ourselves out of this deep shit,” for that’s what it is. Trump and his hooligans will do everything in their power to ensure that the ACA implodes, just to get back at Obama. It’s time for the adults in the room – those from both sides of the aisle – to come together and determine what is best for the country, for all 326,474,013 members of this country. Forget ‘Hairspray’ and his band of brothers, for he will attempt to sabotage your efforts. While sub rosa may be a term we don’t care to hear, it may be the only way that the nation will be able to make health care for all a reality. Demonstrate that you are true leaders even though we don’t have one sitting in the White House.

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Is this a great country or what? We’ve got a national security adviser who can’t be trusted to advise the President, a nominee for the position of Secretary of Labor who withdraws his name before the Congress even has a chance to lay into him, and a Secretary of Education who can’t even spell at a third grade level. And don’t forget anorexic Kellyanne Conway, that paragon of ‘alternative facts’ who is totally clueless about what actually goes on in the West Wing. Hey, we’re on the road to making America great once more! I’m not allowed to say ‘again,’ because that would be pilfering someone else’s line, and I wouldn’t want to do that. Then we show a picture of the first daughter sitting at the boss’s desk in the Oval Office – looking, incidentally, much more presidential than dear old dad. It appeared that she was about to sign her first executive order that any store not carrying her clothing line would no longer be allowed to do business in her country…oops!

One of the things that I fully understand is the national intelligence agencies’ fear of giving classified briefings to Mr. Trump. While he has a tendency to blame his mistakes on everyone and anyone else, it has become patently obvious that he is the principal leak in the White House. On General Flynn’s resignation, Trump immediately blamed the intelligence community and the media for revealing the telephone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador. Certainly, the agencies wouldn’t leak it because they understand what the word “classified” actually means, and I have serious doubts about most media outlets reporting it unless they have a minimum of three unimpeachable resources. In this regard, it’s more than apparent that Mr. Trump doesn’t understand how either the intelligence community or the media actually work.

Even some of the most diehard Republicans on the hill are going “WTF!” You have to figure that when Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings are smiling at each other, the US of A has some serious problems. It was my understanding that one of the principal jobs of an incoming president was to unite the country, not send it into paroxysm of laughter on the late shows or anti-anti demonstrations in town hall meetings and outside in city and town streets.

I have returned to this essay after watching several minutes – it was all I could take – of Mr. Trump’s press conference. My epiphany came while he was speaking. I now know how to tell when he is telling the truth and when he is lying. While listening to a question from the reporter, he is in a moment of truth, but the minute he speaks, whatever he says, it is a lie. This leads me to believe that Mr. Trump cannot tell when he is lying. It’s the fabric of his life. Lying, to him, is like breathing to the rest of us. In the brief time I listened, he told three different stories about why his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was asked for his resignation. He went on to lay blame for Russian election hacking on Hillary and the Democrats. He talked about “fake news” in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, three of the most respected newspapers in this country. Why he charged a black reporter with the task of setting up a meeting with himself and the Congressional Black Caucus was beyond my comprehension, but it was certainly an opportunity for Trump to denigrate both Congressman Elijah Cummings as well as Representative Charles Schumer of New York.

There will, no doubt, be those who find my condemnation of Mr. Trump’s actions over the first few weeks of his presidency much too harsh. That is their prerogative. However, it has become apparent to me that the Republican Party has made a tragic error in allowing this man to become a candidate unfit for the office to which he aspired and, even more tragically, to allow him to usurp the office of President of the United States. Would Mrs. Clinton have been a better choice? Not in this writer’s opinion, and that is the single most important question for America to answer…where is our next true leader? Where is the next Dwight David Eisenhower? Where is the next William Jefferson Clinton? Where is the next Ronald Reagan or Jack Kennedy? He…or She is out there somewhere, and somehow, he or she must be located and convinced to dedicate him/herself to a nation that is in dire need of leadership. It does not lie within the mind or the soul of Donald J. Trump, if, indeed, a soul he possesses.

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Stupid people piss me off!

This past summer, that is, the beginning of July, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) began a campaign to remind drivers that beginning November 1st, all drivers using toll roads would be required to have a transponder in their cars because cash tolls were being abolished. The transponder could be used on the Massachusetts Turnpike, Sumner Tunnel, Ted Williams Tunnels and the Tobin Memorial Bridge. After a brief period, it could be used on any EZ Pass toll road. If one happened to be a member of AAA, transponders were available at their locations. There were also a number of EZ Pass locations where the free transponder could be picked up. Simple, eh? If you use a toll road in Massachusetts, all you had to do was to pick up a transponder for your car prior to the first of November.

This is the last week in October – the 28th to be exact. Each night this week, the television news has shown long, long lines outside of EZ Pass locations. A reporter asked one standee, “Why did you wait so long to pick up your transponder?” The response was, “I didn’t want the government to know where I was going.” There are no words, none whatsoever, to describe the stupidity of that answer. This might well be the nth degree of paranoia. Worse than the stupid answer given by this jerk was the fact that the news stations were simpatico with those people in line. Wait a minute…you’ve had four friggin’ months to pick up a transponder for your car…four months! And you’re telling me that there wasn’t one single day in those four months when you couldn’t have taken the time to pick up something that you will be using on a daily basis. And now that you have to stand in a long, long line because of your stupidity, you expect me to be sympathetic to your plight? I’m sorry, but I rarely use toll roads. The last time that I did use one, which was a number of years ago, I did not have an EZ Pass. Heck, it wasn’t even in this state. I got caught in an EZ Pass lane and wound up paying $72.00 for what should have been a buck and a quarter toll…whoa! I may never drive on a toll road again in my life, but I picked up a transponder in August…no line, no waiting, sat down, chatted with the lady across the desk, filled out the form, opened a $20.00 deposit account, chatted some more with the lady, who just happens to have Cerebral Palsy so we chatted about that for a while, got up, left, and there was still no one waiting behind me.

I don’t understand these people who are now standing in line and bitching about it. How stupid can they be? It is not big news that cash will no longer be accepted on toll roads in Massachusetts. People, idiots, brainless ones, you have had four months to put something on your windshield that will save you from getting traffic tickets which I guarantee you will be a hell of a lot more expensive than the little white gizmo that you Velcro behind your rear view mirror. The instructions are very clear regarding how and where to place the transponder. You do not require a 160 or greater IQ to do this.

It is possible, I suppose, that these slackers actually wanted to stand in line in the hopes that some television reporter would ask them a question and they could make an intelligent response such as, “I didn’t realize it would take place this quick.” It’s ‘quickly’ asshole, and you’ve only had four months to get the job done. Had I been one of these numbskulls, I would have been embarrassed to be seen in those lines. Worse are those reporting the news and saying, “Oh, those poor people, having to stand in those long lines. Maybe EZ Pass should extend its hours, yadda, yadda, yadda.” No, no, no, no, no…offer no sympathy to these people…FOUR MONTHS they had to accomplish this one simple task. I can’t even call this procrastination. There is no word other than stupid to explain this behavior. If you or someone you know falls into this category, you or they are stupid. The only word of advice I can give you is this: Don’t expect your EZ Pass to work immediately. It takes a minimum of three days and a maximum of two weeks for your application to be processed. Feel fortunate that Mass DOT has given a six month grace period to those whose transponders have not yet gone through the system. I have to admit that had I been the head of DOT, I would not have been as generous…FOUR FRIGGIN’ MONTHS YOU HAD!

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Tell me, please, because I really would like to know…are you as sick and tired of this year’s elections as I am? Forget for a moment the contentiousness of the Presidential election, but look at some of the “lesser knowns.” I happen to live in Massachusetts, land of the bean and the cod, where the Lowell’s speak only to the Cabot’s, and the Cabot’s speak only to God…actually, the original poem referenced the City of Boston and not the entire state. The lesser knowns in our case consists of two races in the adjoining state of New Hampshire. The Republican candidate for senate is trying to tar her opponent with the untrustworthy Hillary Clinton brush, and the Democratic candidate is hanging the Donald Trump/Koch brothers’ nasty noose around her ‘enemy of the state.’ Similarly, the governor’s race in the Granite State pits a famous name Republican, who doesn’t appear to be doing any television ads at all against a Democratic opponent who is doing everything short of calling his rival the Devil incarnate.

I find this entire 2016 political process to be nauseating, repugnant, disgusting, despicable, and detestable. How grown men and women can engage in such filthy rhetoric is beyond belief. I suppose that the ‘public figure’ exemption will disallow any liable or slander suites following the outcomes of these elections, but frankly, I’d like to take all of these candidates for all of these offices – one at a time, of course – out behind the woodshed and give them a paddling they would never forget.

I cannot help but wonder if the behavior of our politicians isn’t merely an outgrowth of what else has been silently simmering in American life for some time. When I speak with school teachers at the gym, they tell me tales of kids in elementary, middle, and high school who have no qualms whatsoever of being disrespectful, both in language and attitude toward the entire educational process. Disrespectful to a teacher? You have to be kidding me. One friend told me of a third grade teacher who left the profession after three years. Why? She couldn’t control…get this…the parents who would come in and defend their child’s rude behavior. “Where do you suppose they learn to act that way?” she was asked, and her answer was, “Where else, in the home.”

What has happened to us as a nation that we feel so empowered that we care nothing for the rights of others? Someone gets cut off on the highway. Rather than utter a string of obscenities at the “cut-or,” the “cut-ee” takes out a gun and begins wildly firing. A police officer attempts to pull over a vehicle for a traffic violation and instead, receives two bullets through his windshield from the fleeting car. A fourth grade teacher tells a student that she failed a test and the kid picks up a chair, charges the teacher’s desk and throws the chair at her…and the mother has the chutzpah to tell the teacher she shouldn’t have failed the kid! Say what? Kids walk out of class to protest a dress code that certainly appeared to sound realistic to me, but the principal has to meet with some who are offended. Uh-uh, not in my world. In my world, if you want to walk out, keep on walking, and if parents wish to protest, they can keep on walking too. My school; my rules. How you act or how you dress at home has nothing to do with how you act or how you dress when you’re in my shop. State boards of education, however, appear to have stopped defending their teachers, their principals, their coaches, or any other employee of the board. Are there poor teachers, principals, coaches, and other employees? Of course there are. Who wants to go into a profession that pays so poorly? It is truly a wonder that we have any teachers, administrators, or staff working in our schools.

It’s not only our political and educational systems that are messed up. I saw a T-shirt recently that read, “Why people who wear a helmet and carry a gun are paid so little while those who wear a helmet and carry a football are paid so much.” I may be paraphrasing a bit here, but you get the gist…and it’s a fair question. Now the military is demanding that those who received ‘re-up’ signing bonuses return the money with interest…because the military made a mistake. It’s bad enough that military pay is so poor, but now the military wants to penalize its personnel for its mistake? This is a horror show. Men and women in the military, just like police officers and firemen/women never know when they are going to be called upon to lay their lives on the line. Those in combat areas don’t know if today will be their last, and some bloody bureaucrats want another pound of flesh? What have we become? Where are we going? It seems to me that we have lost our moral and ethical compass. Our priorities are not what they should be, and why is this?

It appears to this old man that over the past several decades, we have begun to use such words as “empowered and entitled,” without explaining sufficiently what these words mean. Certainly, I wish to see people empowered, but with that empowerment comes responsibility and accountability, and that seems to be lacking. Most assuredly, you are entitled to certain rights, but your rights end where my rights begin. You have the right to be respectful and well mannered, whether at home, in school, on the job, or anywhere else…and I have those same rights and responsibilities.

Let us just get this election out of the way. Then, let us reassess what our priorities are as a nation, as a state, and as communities. We darn well better or America is on its way to the scrap heap!

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