Incident In Idaho

“My heart is in pieces right now…my soul feels like it’s ripping from my chest…this beautiful young man my son Jackson has to endure a constant barrage of derogatory comments and ignorance like I’ve never witnessed. He is called ugly and freak and monster on a daily basis by his peers at school. He talks about suicide…he’s not quite 8! He says he has no friends and everyone hates him. Kids throw rocks at him and push him shouting these horrific words…please please take a minute and imagine if this were your child. Take a minute to educate your children about special needs. Talk to them about compassion and love for our fellow man. His condition is called Treacher Collins. Maybe even look it up. He’s endured horrific surgery and has several more in the coming years. Anyway…I could go on…but please educate your children. Please…share this. This shouldn’t be happening…to anyone.”

Not knowing what to do when his ex-wife called and told him the because of bullying their son, Jackson Bezzant wanted to wear a hockey mask to school and was talking about killing himself, Dan took to FaceBook, probably in desperation.  Dan and Kelley live in Ammon, Idaho a good place to have social media.  His post went viral and because of it came the support of strangers and neighbors, Jackson now has some joy in his life.

Jackson has Treacher Collins syndrome.  That is a genetic disease that affects bones and tissue development of the face.  Treacher Collins syndrome results in the jaws and chins being small.  Added to that are misshapen ears and eyes that slant downwards.  Jackson was also born without cheekbones.  At 13 months he underwent facial reconstruction.

I’ve seen individuals with this syndrome although I didn’t have a name to put on the malady.  I learned the details of jackson’s story in today’s Washington Post article by Ellie Silverman.  The first two paragraphs drew me into the story.  It read:

“School bullies threw rocks at their young child, while calling him a monster, a freak and telling him he was ugly — all because he has a condition that causes him to look and sound different.

Seven-year-old Jackson Bezzant’s self-esteem dropped so much that he wanted to wear a mask to school to cover his face and he talked about killing himself. His parents, Dan and Kelley Bezzant, a divorced couple who live in Ammon, Idaho, didn’t know what to do to stop the bullying.”

The article quotes Dan as saying he hopes people get the message about bullying.  I can only hope but I don’t hold out much hope in today’s climate of bullying being accepted by a third of our population.  Yes, I’m talking about the people who voted for and still think Trump is a wonderful president and give tacit approval to his actions.

I’ve called him, Trump a bully and there is ample evidence of that being true.  I’ve said in several blogs about bullying how I feel about it and the people who do it.  Bullying is not instinctual but a learned behavior, at least I believe that.  Bullying in peer groups can be seen as unifying but I think only through fear.  We should be taught how to behave in the society, without discord, with others.  If there are aberrant behaviors in some I think it was learned—usually, it’s in the home.

I think the Ammon, Idaho school system let down Jackson and so did all of the parents of those bullies.  The others that went along with the bullies are just as guilty co-conspirators and probably they were too afraid to stand up for the bullied boy.

Still, I’m glad that circumstances worked for Jackson and his parents.  Silverman closes the article with the following:

“Despite his newfound confidence, Jackson told his mother he still didn’t want to go to school this week. He had not been back since last Thursday’s Facebook post and he was nervous.

Even so, he went. Jackson’s teacher told Kelley that all the children were kind to him and by the time he came home, Kelley said, Jackson seemed happy.

When Kelley asked Jackson how school was, he replied: “At recess, I had 165 friends.”

His parents make no claim that Jackson’s difficulties are over. But for the moment, they say, he is filled with pride.”

Here’s a photo I cribbed from the Post.

Toys brought to him by neighbor boys whose mother saw Dan’s FB post.

Oorah Jackson.  Live long and prosper.

Rod Blagojevich Was Found Guilty And He And His Family Refuse To Accept It

Yesterday, on the local NBC affiliate here in Chicago, Phil Rodgers hosted a half hour show with a recorded phone conversation from the federal prison Rod Blagojevich is serving his 14-year sentence at.  He has completed five years.  Prison authorities refused direct contact with Blagojevich with or without cameras.

Today I picked up at the professional building adjacent to Resurrection Hospital, now Presence Hospital and soon to have another name change, a copy of the latest Chicago Magazine.  Free.

I suppose in looking for new subscribers free copies are left in various locations in the hope someone will subscribe to the magazine.  This month’s cover didn’t have some sexy celebrity, neither male or female.  It had a white-haired and smiling Rod Blagojevich in prison blues.  Rod had to rent a camera from the prison’s exchange and have someone take his picture that he could send to whoever might want one.

I haven’t read the article which appears to be fairly long.  I will get around to it sooner or later.  It will be, I’m sure more of the same “I didn’t do anything wrong.”  The prosecutors were out to destroy me, defense that he has espoused since the beginning of his troubles.

A little over seven years ago In June of 2010, I reported to the Dirksen Federal Building that began a two-month trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Rob Blagojevich.  Unfortunately, that trial ended with a hung jury because one of the jurors who had worked in government offices most of her life decided early on in the trial that Rod was not guilty.  I found that out after the trial from another juror that was told that in their conversations sometime during the early part of the trial.

Her rationale was that all politicians talk the way Rod did.  Although we tried on numerous occasions to show the juror where Rod crossed the line in taped phone conversations we weren’t able to sway her.  We did unanimously find Rod guilty of one count of lying to the FBI during their investigations.

We failed to convict Blagojevich on the majority of the felony counts about 25 counts.  Like most people I had watch Blagojevich on his national tour which he tried to taint the jury pool into believing that he did nothing wrong.  Without any evidence, I thought him guilty.   But because I swore an oath to keep an open mind and judge only on the evidence presented in the courtroom—I did exactly that.

The federal prosecutors presented a case building it evidentiary brick by evidentiary brick that showed all of the reason why we, the twelve jurors, should find Blagojevich, and consequently his brother, Rob, guilty.  I found the evidence compelling.  I was for finding him guilty on all counts.

A few of the jurors weren’t so sure about all the counts.  I don’t see why they had reservations because to me it was easy to follow the case by phone tap recordings in Blagojevich’s own words.

Anyway, two years later he was found guilty of a slimmed down tighter case and Judge Zagel sentence Blagojevich to 14 years.  With one year off for enrolling in an addictive personality course and one year off for good behavior, it would be 12 years.

Still, Blagojevich is sticking to his song—”I didn’t do anything wrong.”  He is just like our president in that he believes just what benefits him the most.  I don’t know if Trump will pardon Blagojevich but if he does and he accepts that pardon it will be an admission of guilt as the Supreme Court has ruled so many years ago.

There are so many people who believe that although Blagojevich may be guilty of felonies he didn’t deserve 14 years.  They, of course, don’t base their convictions on solid evidence, just their feelings.  I firmly believe for the way he conducted himself in the office of governor of the State Of Illinois—based on testimony from phone tap conversations and witness testimony, he deserved every bit, if not more, of 14 years.  Federal sentencing guidelines state he could have gotten 30 years for the charges against him.

I don’t think long sentences for crimes is a deterrent, even when Illinois had the death penalty, but some people truly deserve the sentences they receive.  And some people deserve the death penalty for the crimes they commit.  However, only in cases where there is concrete and irrefutable evidence to substantiate the crime was committed by the accused.  There have been too many cases of convicted felons found not guilty by additional information.

Open Letter To Harvey And Irma Survivors From A Katrina Survivor

I’ve ripped this entire article off from the Common Dreams website without their permission.  I think it important enough just in case someone might show it to a survivor in Texas and Florida and everywhere else these hurricanes caused damage.  I think it’s good advice from some who is knowledgeable and also a survivor of a devastating hurricane.

Published on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Common Dreams


Warning Letter to Harvey and Irma Survivors from Katrina Survivor

Above all, watch out for one another and care for one another by Bill Quigley

(Based on the experiences of those who lived through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Quigley offers victims of the latest mega-storms some warnings as they start to rebuild.)

Dear Fellow Hurricane Survivors:

Our hearts go out to you as you try to return to and fix your homes and lives.  Based on our experiences, here are a few things you should watch out for as you rebuild your communities.

One.  Rents are going to skyrocket and waves of evictions are likely.  With so many houses damaged and so many highly paid contractors coming into your region whose companies will pay anything to house them, landlords are going to start evicting people to make way for higher paying occupants.  Work with local organizations to enact a moratorium on evictions and a freeze on rents to allow working and low-income people to come home and have a place to stay.

Two.  Rip off contractors and vulture businesses are probably already on the scene. Don’t give money to anyone unless you know and trust them and do not pay for everything in advance!

Three.   Take pictures of everything that was damaged and hold onto all receipts for all your disaster expenses. Get a special binder and keep all your papers in it.  Sadly, the process of getting assistance is going to last for years for many people and you will need to prove what damage you.

Four.  Right after a disaster, there is an outpouring of compassion, support, and solidarity. Take what you need for your community.But realize the window of compassion and support shuts much quicker than it should.  Then people will start blaming the victims.

Five.  Insist on transparency, accountability, and participation in all public and private funding sources for disaster relief. The government is yours and ours.  We need them in times of disaster but they can also be the biggest obstacle to a just recovery. Demand they tell the public what is going on and consult with all parts of our communities, not just the rich and well connected usual suspects.  Same problems arise when dealing with the private relief organizations from the biggest private disaster relief organization to many other smaller groups.

Six.  Insist on telling your own story. Your truth is a jewel that shines brightest in your own hands. If you are going to work with journalists or others make sure the real truth is told, not just the sensational or heart rending stories of poor, powerless victims. You may have been victimized by the hurricane but you are a powerful survivor!

Seven.  Unless you are rich enough to try to go this alone, you have to join together with others to make your voice heard. Many voices together are loud enough to force those in power to listen.  Groups of people are far more effective than individual voices. Neighborhood organizations, church organizations, community organizations, join and work with others!

Eight.  Work in statewide coalitions. Statewide coalitions are very important because many disaster relief decisions are made on the state level.  You have to be able to influence those decisions.

Nine.  Identify members of Congress who you can work with. Many decisions are being made on the federal level. You have to make sure your voice is heard. After Katrina, the best voice for poor people in New Orleans was Congresswoman Maxine Waters from California! Now well known nationally as Superwoman, she was a terrific advocate for and with us.

Ten.  Prioritize the voices of women. Men push to the front when the cameras are on and when the resources are being handed out. But in the long run, it is usually the women who are the most reliable family anchors.

Eleven.  Don’t allow those in power to forget about the people whose voices are never heard.  People in nursing homes, people in hospitals, the elderly, the disabled, children, the working poor, renters, people of color, immigrants and prisoners. There is no need to be a voice for the voiceless because all these people have voices, they are just not listened to. Help lift their voices and their stories up because the voices of business and industry and people with money and connections will do just fine.  It is our other sisters and brothers who are always pushed to the back of the line. Stand with them as they struggle to reclaim their rightful place.

Twelve.  Realize that you have human rights to return to your community and to be made whole. Protect your human rights and the human rights of others.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

Once Again Into The Breech

I haven’t written about one of my favorite topics in some time now.  No, it isn’t eating pizza, kayaking, or any of the other things I do to fill up my days.  It’s sewers.  Since moving into this house I’ve had an obsession about sewers.  I suppose it’s because my basement has flooded numerous times caused by a plugged sewer line from the house to the city’s sewer system.

What happens is that sludge builds up on tree roots that find their way into the sewer by cracking the tile that the sewer pipe is made from.  The roots are from the sugar maple tree in the front parkway that finds its way into the six-inch pipe leading from the house out to the main sewer line under the street.  For the past, three or four years I’ve had a sewer company called “Ex-Stink” come out and rod my main with a six-inch cutter each fall to make sure roots will not trap toilet paper until it builds up and forms an impermeable wall and sewerage backs up from the basement drain.  When that happens only water pressure will break up the blockage.  The cutter head of a regular sewer rod will just punch through the sludge and when it reaches the end of the sludge the sludge will close back up without dislodging the blockage.

I’ve also found a one-way valve that I’ve installed in the basement drain that has prevented backup into the basement when the city’s main line is full of storm water.  So far so good.  I’m not sure how much back pressure it can take though.  I’ve seen manhole covers in the street lifted up by back pressure from a heavy downpour.  It isn’t much fun cleaning with gallons of bleach and water when the sewer backs up.  But it could be worse.  I could be flooded out by a hurricane’s storm surge and rainfall and lose everything I have.

But today in the Washington Post there was an article entitled “A ‘Sewer War’ in London”.  I’ve written another blog about another “fatberg” as big as a London double-decker bus that plugged and damaged another of London’s Victorian-era sewers.  In Travis M. Andrews article he reports a currently ongoing three-week battle on a huge “fatberg” in Whitechapel, London.

“It’s more than 250 yards long—longer than two football fields.  And weighs 130 tons, more than 10 average buses.  And it’s solid as a rock.”

Click on the link below and watch Washington Post video about the “fatberg.”

blob:https://www.washingtonpost.com/b3982a1c-2f64-4259-9351-bde22444a31b

And from Thames Water, UK I found these photos.

 

 

Eight men suited as the one in the picture have been battling under ground with high-pressure water jet hoses to break up the “fatberg” and move pieces down the sewer to be sucked up and removed from the sewer.

What causes the sewer blockages are cooking oils and other fats flushed into the sewer system that congeals with other flushed items like paper diapers, wipes, and other paper products that should be discarded as garbage that will go to a land fill.

I guess it doesn’t take long before these items solidify into a rock hard mass.  This “fatberg” may be a record holder for Thames Water, the entity that administers London’s sewers.

Now isn’t that interesting?  Right!  I knew discerning readers would find it so.  Happy worry free flushing to you.

Medical Dilemma Of Charlie Gard

I ran across a blog on a website for doctors called KevinMD.com.  It concerns an infant child who recently died of an incurable disease in the U.K. who’s name was Charlie Gard.  Charlie was the subject of news stories around the world—especially here in America.  As a last resort, Charlie’s parent wanted to bring Charlie to the United States for an untested, therefore unscientific, therapy advocated by a Dr. Michio Hirano, a New York neurologist—a researcher and expert in mitochondrial disorders.  The decision went to the British High Court which denied the parents their ability to take Charlie to the United States.

This blog by a Dr. Saurabh Jha, a medical doctor who observes this controversy from both sides—untested therapy vs. unmedical concern by many including the Pope and Vice President Pence among many, for a dying infant.  It’s not readily answered dilemma.  He does swipe, however,  at American conservatives in several places.

“For American conservatives, Britain’s NHS is an antiquated Orwellian dystopia. For Brits, even those who don’t love the NHS, American conservatives are better suited to spaghetti westerns, such as Fistful of Dollars, than reality.

“The twain are unlikely to meet after the recent press surrounding Charlie Gard, the infant, now deceased, with a rare, fatal mitochondrial disorder in which mitochondrial DNA is depleted — mitochondrial depletion disorder (MDD). In this condition, the cells lose their power supply and tissues, notably in the brain, die progressively and rapidly.”

and he finally, leaves the reader with a thought from Hindu theology.

“Let’s reframe this. A doctor offers hope to desperate parents who have nothing to lose except hope itself. The doctor believes that denying hope, no matter how hopeless, will be crueler than giving hope. Incidentally, Lord Krishna, one of the many Gods of Hindus, said that a lie which makes someone feel better is better than a thousand truths which make a person feel worse.”

The Border Wall And More Betsey DeVos Along With A Climate Scientist and Rush Limbaugh

Here are some more stories I’ve copied from the commondreams.org website.  They are naturally anti-Trumpian thinking.

“How much of our money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border?

The big-businessman-turned-president insists that costs be damned — just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach — but then, it’s not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he’s now demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. And how long is the U.S.-Mexican border that he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. So, $1.6 billion down, and only 1,826 miles to go!

And let’s not even get into the cost overruns, fraudulent billings shoddy materials and other scams that the army of corporate contractors will add to the sticker price of Donald’s boondoggle on the border.

All of this reckless spending of our tax dollars for a 1,900-mile barricade of both physical and symbolic ugliness that only an extremist minority of Americans support. Besides being wildly expensive, this Trumpian folly is not needed, won’t work, stifles the border economy, crudely tramples on both property rights and sensitive environments, autocratically separates millions of families and communities — and is an insult not only to the people of Mexico, but also to our own people’s democratic values.

As for the assertion by die-hard Trumpateers that a massive, 30-foot high, six-foot deep, steel-and-concrete barricade will stop illegal immigration from Mexico, here is a fact Congress should ponder before taxing us with this harebrained structure: Two-thirds of undocumented migrants in our country entered with legal visas, then didn’t leave when their visas expired. How does Trump’s gold-plated wall stop people who can simply walk through or fly over it?”

Betsey, “let’s privatize all of public education,” DeVos is rolling back another of Obama’s provisions to help victims of sexual assault in college.  You would think, with the exception of sexual predators, everyone would be in favor of protecting anyone who is sexually assaulted.”  But it seems as if DeVos and others on the right think these women who report sexual assaults are either lying or just deserved what they were subjected to.  If you can overlook our president’s bragging about sexual assault then you can justify just about any actions or thoughts for yourself and others.

“The era of rule-by-letter is over,’ DeVos said, referring to the Dear Colleague Letter that served as the basis for President Obama’s 2011 directive on Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools. The guidelines, outlined in the letter, require universities to swiftly investigate complaints of sexual assault and offer protections to survivors, and ban schools from retaliating against those who file sexual assault complaints.”

Those interested in Title IX click on the link to see the letter DeVos refers to.

In another story of global warming, I’ll include a link to therealnews.com where the host interviews a climate scientist, Micael Mann.  The video runs 14:08 and is worth watching. https://youtu.be/_Ny6k6hjRSM.

What can I say about Rush Limbaugh?  His actions and words speak for themselves.  His lying is on par with Trump.  Here’s a quote from commondreams.org about what he said and did in connection with super Hurricane Irma.

“On Tuesday, right-wing radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh claimed the media was intentionally exaggerating threats about Hurricane Irma to advance a “climate change agenda” and enable local businesses to make money off of emergency preparation efforts. On Thursday, Limbaugh indicated he will evacuate South Florida ahead of the storm.”

Thanks to Jessica Corbett, a staff writer for commondreams for doing what you do.

Keep Your Eye On Both Hands

As a magician uses distraction to create illusions of “magic” so are the Trump cabinet secretaries doing things quietly to dismantle progressive measure put in place to help working people.  They do it quietly while Trump creates the noise that distracts everyone.  I don’t consider CEOs working people.  Working people are the people who work for a living to support themselves and in many cases a family.

Today Trump made his decision known that DACA, deferred action on childhood arrivals, will end in six months.  Known as dreamers 800,000 young people affected by DACA are in jeopardy of being deported to countries most can’t remember.  In February Trump said “i”m going to deal with DACA with heart.”  What he did today was to keep his promise to his base, the base that hates immigrants either legal or illegal, and make DACA a problem for Congress to solve in six months.  His heart was shown to be black as those that slink in the dark and rob you of what you have.

Many Republican Congressmen, even Paul Ryan who would throw your grandma under a bus, stated they wished Trump wouldn’t rescind DACA.  But Trump couldn’t let his hate filled base down.  Who would cheer for him then?  A handful of neo-nazis probably.

But that isn’t where the insidious actions of his administration are being carried out.  It’s in the background as in the Department of Education and Mrs. Amway herself, Betsey DeVos who terminated the department’s relationship with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  And as Julia Conley wrote for commondreams.org today:

“At the direction of Congress, under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, the Department of Education has shared information with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since 2011 in order to provide assistance to borrowers with complaints about Federal student loans. But the Department, now run by Secretary Betsy DeVos, informed the Bureau in a letter last week that it was ending the relationship.”

She, Conley, wrote further:

“Especially at a time when federal student loan debt has reached over $1.3 trillion*, critics condemned the decision.

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) says, ‘the CFPB has stood up for students and demonstrated the urgent need for an independent watch dog over student loan servicers and collectors,’ fighting ‘to ensure that struggling borrowers can access the repayment programs they are entitled to.'”

Pruitt, the fossil fuel industry’s wolf in the hen house, has cut funds for climate research and other functions of the EPA.  Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would cut EPAs budget by 30%.

Working quietly his swampy cabinet is doing irreparable harm to our country just as other Republicans have done ever since Nixon and Saint Ronald Reagan.  What needs to happen in 2018 is for Democrats to gain a majority in the House.  We’ll see what happens.  If the Republicans remain in power then I see Trump in office for his full term and the country firmly entrenched in Republican values, their real values which are to give absolute power to the masters they serve.  The rich.

*Student debt is second only to mortgage debt as far as ordinary people are concerned.

 

Not Even Reported Much In The News

It’s always the poor that are most devasted by large disasters.  They tend to live in areas of cities where infrastructure is the most in need of repair and where floods are prone to swallow up first in times of heavy rainfalls.

Today’s commondreams.org there was an article by Jake Johnson, a staff writer.  He wrote:

“As Neil deMause notes in an analysis for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), “nearly 600,000 Harris County residents live below the poverty line,” yet “one had to read carefully between the lines” to find their stories told in any detail.

“Coverage of the poor during Harvey [has been] a bit better than in Katrina, but that’s not saying much, deMause wrote on Twitter.

“From the Associated Press to the New York Times, the national media has consistently shown its “blindspot for low-income victims,” deMause concludes.”

I searched the internet using duckduckgo.com, an engine that doesn’t track one’s searches, and found the usual one or two sites that claim there is no evidence of the earth getting warmer, which there is.  There are conservative sites, like NOAA, that says attributing global warming to more severe hurricanes may be premature.  But most are like NASA’s site that had the following.

“How Will Global Warming Change Earth?

The impact of increased surface temperatures is significant in itself. But global warming will have additional, far-reaching effects on the planet. Warming modifies rainfall patterns, amplifies coastal erosion, lengthens the growing season in some regions, melts ice caps and glaciers, and alters the ranges of some infectious diseases. Some of these changes are already occurring.

Photograph of Lake Powell showing the bathtub ring exposed by the low lake level.

Global warming will shift major climate patterns, possibly prolonging and intensifying the current drought in the U.S. Southwest. The white ring of bleached rock on the once-red cliffs that hold Lake Powell indicate the drop in water level over the past decade—the result of repeated winters with low snowfall. (Photograph ©2006 Tigresblanco.)

Changing Weather

For most places, global warming will result in more frequent hot days and fewer cool days, with the greatest warming occurring over land. Longer, more intense heat waves will become more common. Storms, floods, and droughts will generally be more severe as precipitation patterns change. Hurricanes may increase in intensity due to warmer ocean surface”

The denier of global warming was a website called theblaze.com.  You can guess where they stand politically.  In an article slamming Al Gore, they cite an article in the English Medical Journal, The Lancet.  They report that the Lancet examined health date from 13 countries, “accounting for more than 74 million deaths, and found relatively cold weather, directly or indirectly, kills 1,700 percent more people than warm weather.”  The last portion of the quote was a link which I followed thinking I’d read the Lancet article.  Instead, I was redirected to a website called The Heartland, which is endorsed, according to their “About Us,” by notable Libertarians, Grover Norquist, the congressman sign your pledge to me, businessman and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

I did find an article from 2015 in USA Today that said:

‘The study — published in the British journal The Lancet — analyzed data on more than 74 million deaths in 13 countries between 1985 and 2012. Of those, 5.4 million deaths were related to cold, while 311,000 were related to heat.

Because the study included countries under different socio-economic backgrounds and with varying climates, it was representative of temperature-related deaths worldwide, the study said. The sharp distinction between heat- and cold-related deaths is because low temperatures cause more problems for the body’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems, it added.

A Promising New Leukemia Therapy; But At A Whopping Cost

Here’s a photo I copied from the commonground.org website.  It is worth a thousand words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Food and Drug Administration approved a new cancer treatment for children with leukemia, but at $475,000 per treatment, it reignited a national debate about healthcare costs. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/Flickr/cc)

The caption under this photo was telling.  Libertarians who worship the false god free market capitalism would just say that what the market would bear.  And they would say it’s not price gouging.   Further from the article in commonground.org is this written by Jessica Corbett, a staff writer.

“While Novartis’ decision to set a price at $475,000 per treatment may be seen by some as restraint, we believe it is excessive,” said David Mitchell, founder and president of the advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs, and a cancer patient himself. “The drug pricing system in America is completely broken. Until policy in this country changes, the vicious cycle of patients struggling under high drug prices will continue.”

Mitchell’s group calculated that over $200 million in federal funding has been allocated to research related to the treatment, and Mitchell said, “Novartis has not acknowledged the significance of taxpayers’ investment,” but Novartis chief executive Joseph Jimenez insisted to Forbes‘ Matthew Herper that his company’s undisclosed investments “dwarf anything the government has invested through NIH grants.”

Novartis, a pharmaceutical company developed the cancer therapy that will be marketed under the name Kymarah.  It’s been reported that 83% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia were cancer free after one treatment and three months.

I wonder how factual Jimenez’s statement that Novartis’ investment “dwarf anything the government has invested through grants.”  How much of Kymarah is based on previous research with tweaks to existing therapies to its chemical structure?  Some biochemists will have to take a look and determine whether or not almost a half a million dollars is excessive for the therapy.

I believe that much of the research money comes from people that pay for health insurance in higher costs of getting insurance every year.  It isn’t just reflected in the cost of insurance for those parents that have children with childhood leukemia.  How much money does a pharmaceutical company need to make to appease their shareholders and their CEOs that receive huge amounts of money in salaries and benefits?

Will parents with bare bones coverage in their policies have to watch their children die because they can’t afford the treatments?  Will the pro-life activists be seen and heard in marching in front of Novartis’ building?  I tend to think not a chance.  They seem to only care for fetuses only.

WTF kind of world do we live in?

I’m Back!

After four or five days of being unable to access my website to write blogs and writing FatCow, my web host, I am finally able to write again.  I could see what I’ve posted on jamesmats.com but not do anything to update or add new posts.  This is the second time this year I’ve been prohibited from accessing my blog site.

Although there are many days when I feel lazy and uninspired to write.  I do miss writing when I can’t.  I’ve never tried tweeting.  At 140 characters I don’t think I’d do very well.  I have tried to write on FaceBook but it wasn’t conducive to writing blogs.  I don’t usually check my FaceBook page.  I’ve almost given up on FaceBook and given it to Barbara.

All the while I’ve been silent Trump has been causing turmoil.  His Phoenix rally was beyond reality with his base behind him hanging on to every lying word he uttered.  Cheering when appropriate and inflating Trump huge ego.  I could continue ad nauseam.  But I won’t.

I don’t believe in the triumph of good over evil and that people get what they deserve. There’s too much evidence to the contrary to believe in some kind of devine intervention. There’s more evil in this world than good.  Otherwise how do you explain the crimes committed against people just because they are different.

Harvey is still doing a number on Texas.  They’ve gotten more water than flows through the Rio Grande in decades.  I wonder how Libertarians feel about big government when their houses are under five or more feet of water.  Who would they count on for relief when disaster smacks them in their Libertarian ass.

There’s so much wrong.  I could wear out hundreds of sticks just shaking those sticks at all that’s wrong in our country.

Let’s do what’s moral and ethical.  Do something nice for strangers.

Over A Thousand Lies in 200 Days

From commondreams.org I copied this:

“A new video produced by the Washington Post asserts that President Donald Trump has mislead or blatantly lied to the public more than 1,000 times since taking office in January.

 

“The newspaper counted* a total of 1,057 lies, with the president averaging nearly five falsehoods per day since his inauguration.

 

“The video catalogues just a few of President Donald Trump’s most frequent lies about his influence on the economy, the negative impact of the Obama administration, and his ongoing battle with the news media.”

The base doesn’t care or won’t believe what the “fake news” outlets say.  They think they know better.   Or it could be that they don’t care about the truth as long as the lies coincide with what they believe.

Trump’s in Phoenix tonight.  The question will be will there be violence.  There are to be massive protesters there.  Stay tuned.

And the foreclosure (36,000 plus) king’s wife got in an Instagram war with a woman who replied to Steven Mnuchin’s wife Louise Linton after posting a picture of the two of them, Mnuchin and Linton, getting off a government jet.  Her post was extremely classists.  She posted this:

 

“Linton’s caption for the photo included boasts about the fashion brands she was wearing: ‘Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa.’

 

“When another user commented ‘Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable, ‘Linton lashed back by pointing out how much she and her husband have paid in taxes, and the ‘amount we sacrifice per year,’an apparant reference to her husband’s role in government.”

Mnuchin is Trump’s Treasury Secretary.  When Ari Melber of MSNBCs The Beat tried to fact check the percentage, Mnuchin paid his staff did not respond.  It could be as low as 17% after deductions from the 40% he should be taxed at.

Linton took it all back perhaps after one of her or her husband’s staff told her how bad this conflict made her look.

The swamp is still filled with a shit load of deplorable people.  I prefer the term despicable myself.

*Check out the Washington Post’s website to see the video: just click on the blue “counted.”.

What Democrats Stand For

Were you to listen there are many mistaken ideas about what Democrats stand for and work towards.  Some tell lies about Democratic ideals and other don’t care to hear what might conflict with their beliefs.  Even folks who consistently vote Democratic are at a loss to articulate what Democrats believe.

First It isn’t just the party of and for blacks.  Although the majority of African-Americans will vote Democratic it isn’t because the Democrats promise free things—handouts from the Federal, State and Local Governments.  It’s true that Republicans aren’t likely to give the lower classes much of anything.  It’s the rich they are interested in.  The strange thing is that most Republican supporters don’t get much in the way of representation or benefits from the party they vote for.  What they do get is God, Flag, and anti-abortion.

The Democratic Party has changed.  Before they were the Republicans of today.  Around the 1920s and 1930s, they switched philosophies with the Republicans.  They began to support labor unions.  Today even Democrats feel unions aren’t necessary any longer.  Many resent union wages and pensions.  In 2016 there were 11.8% of full-time workers who were union members.  A further 5.7% of part time workers were union members.

.From a height of more than 30% union membership the Republicans and a few Democrats have chipped away at labor union’s power.  I’ve talked about the excesses of labor unions but they aren’t comparable to the excesses of management and corporations.

On the commondreams.org website the other day there was an article and a transcript of a speech given by Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren.  She is a true progressive and one tough lady.  Her speech was about 30 minutes long and given to a conference of Netroots Nation this past Saturday in Atlanta.

I won’t reproduce the entire speech, you can read it by going to commondreams.org in an article written by Nik DeCosta-Klips.

In her speech, she touches on many issues important to liberal/progressives.  She lists what we want from the Democratic Party.  Here then is a few quotes from her speech.

“More and more working families today are hanging on by their fingernails in a country with an economy and a government that works only for those at the very top”

And she continues.

“…I’ve been talking about how our middle class was squeezed to the breaking point, how chances to move up in this economy were disappearing, and warning that, if we weren’t careful, the very promise of this nation—the commitment to expand opportunities—would be lost.”

What do Democrats stand for?

“We’re going to fight for fully portable benefits for everyone.  And we’re going to fight to make sure that all work—full-time, part-time, gig—carries basic, pro-rata benefits.

“We’re going to fight to make it easier for workers to come together to form a union so they can take power into their own hands.

“And we’re going to turn the minimum wage into a living wage.  Fight for $15!

“It’s time for us to say: Democrats are on the side of hard working families who are getting pounded every day.

“We’re going to fight for universal pre-K, and to make it easier for every family to get child care.

“W’re going to fight like  hell to stop Republicans from jacking up the cost of health insurance and taking coverage away from millions.  Trumpcare will not get one Democratic vote—not now, not ever.  But it’s not enough just to defend the Affordable Care Acty, we’re going to improve it, starting with bringing down the cost of prescription drugs—and leading the fight for Medicare for all.

“We’re going to make it possible for young people to go to college or get a technical degree debt-free.

“We’re going to fight for affordable housing and good schools across our country, from the biggest cities to the smallest towns and most remote rural homesteads.

“And we will fight our heart out to d efend—and expand—Social Security and Medicare.”

The litany of things progressive fight for goes on.  Warren with passion has been saying these things for years.  Republicans don’t want to hear it because the things she says isn’t about power and greed.  It’s about people.  Even the people who vote against their best interests because of uninformed ideas and thoughts.  Their ignorance keeps them, lackeys of the Republicans voting for those who laugh at their ignorance in keeping them in power.

In 2013 25% of the population was Republican.  The only way they’ve been able to stay in power is by voter suppression and apathy on the part of voters who might vote Democratic.  American’s voting habits are pathetic.

As far as Elizabeth Warren is concerned I say Oorah and Semper Fidelis.

I Can’t Believe Anyone Is Surprised About Trump’s Statements

There are probably several groups separated by their love/like or dislike/hated.  There are probably those who don’t fit those categories either.  They just support Trump because they will support Republicans without question.  If they were to question it would be the beginning of the end.

I still believe most of Trump’s supporters are racists.  Perhaps not racists in the neo-Nazi, KKK or other white supremacists mold as those we saw in action in Charlottesville this past weekend but they have no love for blacks, Muslims, and other minorities. They’ve always been around.  They just went into the closet when it wasn’t accepted to openly state opposition to minorities.

With Trump’s ascendancy, it has become acceptable to be bigoted.  It has become apparent who supports the Right’s agenda and the mealy mouthed statements leaders of the Republican party have issued.  they condemn racism but are oddly silent about Trump’s support of the ultra-right.  Ryan and the “Turtle” still have an agenda that they want to pass through Congress and that is “tax reform” which is Republican code for giving the 1% more tax benefits.

The rationale being that the more money the rich have the more it will trickle down to those below.  Unfortunately, it never gets to the ones who need it.  The only way the economy grows is by everyone buying goods.  Ask a rich man who many pairs of pants they own and most likely they’ll say a number that would correspond to what a man in the middle class would own.  They will spend more for homes and other luxury items but those things are conducive to growing the economy.  How many luxury cars, boats, and airplanes are sold in a year?  It would be that many because the people that can afford to buy a Bugatti at $1.7 to 2.7 million dollars for one.   When you have bought one it’ll cost you $21,000 for an oil change.  About 50 units are made each year.

The super rich 1/10th of 1% are so few in numbers that what they add to the economy would put a blip on the scale.  It’s the ordinary people that buy everyday goods that drives our economy.  It has always been money gushing up to the rich from down below.  That’s not what you hear but that’s how it works.

But this is getting far from the topic of Trump’s “blame on all sides” remark.  The only people who buy that are the ones that love his out spoken racist remarks.  Do I have to list what they are?  I didn’t think so.

There have been other racist presidents before but not one so blatant.  If you think you’re safe from his attack you’re wrong.  Because he’ll stick it up everyone’s ass and break it off regardless of who you are.  Even his family.  I predict.

The Wedding

Yesterday, our nephew got married.  His brand new minted wife, Kit or Kashia, is a mixture of Assyrian father and Polish mother.  She was fluent enough in Polish to live in Poland where she attended medical school.  Trevor, the nephew, is wholly American after a few generations of ancestors born in the United States.

The wedding ceremony took place in a Catholic church in Skokie, Illinois.  It had elements of Polish tradition with the ring bearers and flower girls dressed in native Polish costumes.  It wasn’t a full mass, which I was thankful for.  I’ve always felt that the constant standing and sitting or measures to keep you awake or just to irritate people like me.

It was afterward that a different culture’s customs were introduced to those attending the ceremony.  It was the Assyrian faction of the wedding party took over with zaghareet vocalizations.  That the trilling that middle eastern women voice during weddings and other happy celebrations.  In English, it’s called ululation.  The bride and groom are surrounded by well wishers and to the sound of a drum, a shrill wind instrument the name of which I don’t know.

It lasted for quite a few minutes.  Trevor tiring brandishing a silver, large candy cane looking stick with what looked like little coins hanging from its entire length.  It was a truly multi-cultural wedding celebration.

The reception, held in Northbrook, at a country club was again a blend of the multi-cultural.  So representative of America’s blending of nationalities and traditions.  However, new traditions prevailed with dancing between food courses and introductions of bridal party and parents.

The dancing was accompanied by the ear splitting electronically enhanced music.  Now there were, what I assume was, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic rap.  Now there’s that and American rap I don’t understand.  My other nephew, Eric, asked if I was having fun.  I said no.  He seemed surprised.  Young people’s definition of fun and an old person’s idea of fun aren’t always compatible.  I’ve never liked music so loud that I border on cranial pain.  Anything above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.  I suspect all young people of significant hearing loss.  It seems, to them, music unless it’s boosted to stomach vibrating levels is too low.

A gathering of people one seldom sees is a great opportunity to catch up and reconnect.  But at today’s sound levels talk is impossible.  Perhaps young people don’t want to talk.  Yelling a few words is preferred.  I’ve mentioned before the escalation of sound levels in televisions shows.  Where before polite applause was sufficient now screams and standing ovations are the norm.

Still, it wasn’t my celebration and if it launches Kashia and Trevor on a trek that will last a long, long time then I say good for them.  I wish them success in a marriage of equality, happiness, and most importantly health.

North Korea

My brother Dave, who died years ago, once told me that he and another soldier were sent into North Korea before the Korean War started to gather intelligence as to what the North Koreans were planning.  Their report when they returned was that they were getting ready to attack the South Koreans for the purpose of reunifying North and South Korea under the hegemony of the North.

Typically their intelligence report was not heeded and the South Koreans were caught flat footed.   The United States became involved in a war that still hasn’t been finished.  Since 1953 there has been a truce between the United States and North Korea.  The president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee refused to sign the truce.  After the loss of 50,000 of our personnel and three years of mostly stalemate, the United States was more than ready to end the hostilities.

The United States, however, has maintained a sizeable presence in South Korea. Today there is about 28,500 military personnel in South Korea, mostly around the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.  North Korea has been run by a series of dictators from the same family ending with the nuttiest one of them all: Kim il Un.

Almost as nutty is the current president of the United States whose rhetoric has cranked up the tension between North Korea and the United States.  Times have changed the face of war since 1950.  Today North Korea has an estimated 13 to 30 nuclear weapons.  They outnumber the South Koreans in almost every category of weapons.  Although much of their equipment is obsolete, a lot can be said for sheer manpower.  Still, they don’t stand a chance against the combined weight of military might of the South Koreans and Americans.

That’s why they would most likely use their nukes.  The North’s artillery could devastate Seoul.  You can’t bomb North Korea back to the stone age because they are not far removed from the stone age.  Over 62% of Americans favor sending troops to South Korea.

Here we go again.  Since there’s no draft and only fools volunteer to serve in the military why should the majority of Americans care that our troops could be nuclear test dummies?

For over sixty years we’ve contained North Korean ambitions with sanctions and diplomacy.  Now Trump has to be the typical bully and threaten our enemies.  Oh, but not Russia.  What’s with Trump and Putin.  I sure hope the truth comes out about that odd couple.

Let cooler heads prevail.

The Secret Diary Of Hendrik Groen

The full title of this book when it first was published was Attempts to Make Something Of Life: The Secret Life of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 years old.

“Tears were streaming down my face – from laughing so hard. I couldn’t stop grinning for three days.” – Ouderenjournaal (Holland)

The above quote from Older Journal (Holland) was reproduced on the Amazon.com website.  I wonder if the reviewer was an older person?  I think it would make a difference.  A young person would see the humor in the writing—an older person would see the wrenching pathos lurking just under the descriptions of elder care homes, humorous or not.

In reading this book I felt an overwhelming sadness seeping through the writer’s words.  It carries the Arctic whisper of the grim reaper’s breathe.

I finished the book yesterday.  And as I’ve been reading it I’ve been thinking about it as well.  To me, the book was well written, humorous and the plot was laid out in an interesting manner.  Still, there weren’t any tears caused by laughter for me.  Although I did smile throughout my reading I didn’t find myself grinning like an idiot.

From the Barnes & Noble Website, I copied this review and blurbs about this book taken from Publisher’s Weekly.  In it, you’ll find a succinct description of the plot.

Publishers Weekly

05/29/2017
Delightful and moving, Groen’s novel shares a full year of the eponymous* octogenarian’s journal entries, detailing his day-to-day observations, humorous inner monologues, and overall zest for life within a nursing home in Amsterdam. Bored with the daily monotony of life at the center, he decides to keep a journal for a complete year to expose the frustrations, gripes, and groans of his fellow “inmates” and the realities of growing old. Between hilarious quips about life, Hendrik regales readers with the joys of the motor scooter and his decision to relent and wear adult diapers. Hendrik’s good friend Evert—a crotchety old fellow who gets his kicks riling up the other residents—helps stave off the loneliness, but it’s when new resident Eefje arrives that Hendrik feels a spark he hasn’t experienced in a long time. Hendrik, Eefje, and Evert, along with a small group of wily seniors, decide to have a little fun while they still can by organizing the Old-But-Not-Dead Club to plan outings and excursions, including tai chi and cooking classes, and visits to the casino and museums. Engaging and hilarious, Hendrik’s diary gives a dignity and respect to the elderly often overlooked in popular culture, providing readers a look into the importance of friendship and the realities of the senior care system in modern society. (July)

From the Publisher

“Amusing [and] wickedly accurate…Reading The Secret Diary, I was constantly put in mind of Ken Kesey’s madhouse tale One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, another comi-tragedy concerning the tyranny of institutions of the unwanted. Enjoy Groen’s light touch but do not be fooled by it….The Secret Diary is a handbook of resistance for our time.”—The Express (UK)“Funny and frank – a story with a great deal of heart.”—Graeme Simsion, New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Project

“A story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I’m an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen.”—John Boyne, internationally bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

“An incredible picture of friendship… something we could all stand to emulate, no matter where we are in our lives.”—Bookpage, Top Fiction Pick for July

“Interspersed with Groen’s biting wit and comic take on aging and all it entails… A page-turning delight for adult readers of any age and locale.”—Booklist, starred review

“Poignant and true-to-life, an international bestseller.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

I think the writer’s artistry shines illuminating his words and life in the supposedly simple diary entries of Groen through one year in the lives of the inmates of this Dutch senior housing.  It is all about the things mentioned above; but it spreads its narrative over the existence of all older people worldwide with little time left to live and tells the reader how fragile their existence really is.This book is worth reading.  It is thought provoking.  But it won’t appeal to readers of all ages.  At least I don’t think it will.  Older readers will get the most out of it.  Some young people aren’t interested in the life of old people.

*The book isn’t really eponymous.  The writer’s name isn’t Hendrik Groen.  The author is anonymous.  This is a work of fiction.

The New Colossus

Emma Lazarus’ occupation is normally listed as a poet.  Those were the days someone from a rich family could be a poet.  Today, not so much.  I doubt if Wikipedia would list anyone who solely writes poetry as a poet even though they may have published a book of poems.  People today don’t read poems.  Few write poetry that is in mass market circulation.  I can only think of one off hand, Mary Schmich who writes them for her column in the Chicago Tribune.

Emma Lazarus is known today if she is known at all for her poem The New Colossus. The entire poem is inscribed on a plaque that is still on display in the museum in the Statue Of Liberty’s pedestal.  You’d be excused if you said what poem.  Inscribed on the tablet the Statue Of Liberty hold are the lines, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The idea of the Statue Of Liberty being the “new colossus,” is that America is the new land of freedom. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the ten wonders of the ancient world, has been displaced.  America, at least in 1883 when this poem was written, was the beacon to Europe giving its huddled masses and direction and place to breathe free.

Stephen Miller, a disciple of Steve Bannon, along with other alt-right, white supremacists hate the Statue of Liberty and I’m sure Lazarus’ poem.  Lazarus was Jewish American and worked for the establishment of a Jewish state.  She worked for Jews suffering pograms in Europe and Eastern Europe.   Miller is himself Jewish but hates his roots.  He has said that his grandparents, who came penniless to the United States, should not have been let in.  Now the spawn of all that is despicable has a chance to be Communications Director.  Worse than Scaramucci?  I think so.

Lazarus died in 1887 at the age of 38 most likely from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It wasn’t until 1903 that her poem was inscribed on the plaque in the pedestal.  Today, however, the statute’s “beacon hand,” while it may still glow, does not shine a “world-wide welcome.”  Now you must speak English.

Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

 

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp! (,)” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

For over a hundred years this sentiment has been our siren’s call to the world.  In just over six months it no longer is.

 

Still Afghanistan

Starting in 2003 there had been a moratorium on the media showing flag draped caskets of dead military personnel arriving at Dover AFB for Iraq and Afghanistan.  The other day I saw the two more recent dead arriving at Dover AFB killed by IEDs in Afghanistan.  The United States and its allies have been there now for 16 years.  The statistics as of 2016 was 2,386 dead and 20,049 wounded.  The UK has had 300 troops killed.

The English first went to war in Afghanistan in 1839 and they were still there in 2017.  Not continuously but it’s ironic, isn’t it?  There were ten years of Russia trying to tame Afghanistan without results.  It was their Vietnam.

The cost for American’s in dollars of our war in Afghanistan is $779,642,548,000.  That figure goes up rapidly every second to this day.  What for?  Was there a reason to have put U.S. troops there just to flush out Osama bin Ladin?  A few dozen perhaps but not to commit the United States there at $2 billion a day is, as Trump said to his generals, “nuts.”

Some billionaire pal of his told him of the mineral wealth in Afghanistan and like Iraq’s oil, he wants it.  He doesn’t know it would be against international law if we were to confiscate those minerals.  But what does he know about the law or anything else?

There’s no reason for us to get involved in nation building in Afghanistan or Iraq.  We didn’t do such a good job in the political decisions to go to war in either country.  It’s no wonder the Muslin nations believe we are at war with Islam.  Trump’s Muslim Ban doesn’t do anything to assuage their fears either.

Our volunteer military accounts for 1/10th of 1% of our population.  They have multi-deployments in combat zones.  The 20,049 wounded are mostly those severely wounded.  Many have traumatic brain injuries.  Congress tends to forget about them after they’ve been through veterans hospital for months.  It’s rarely their kids that die.  Except for General Kelly who lost a son in these senseless wars.

I can’t see how he can work for Trump a man who received 5 deferments for a heel spur that doesn’t seem to have bothered him much in his life.  Then he says he prefers his heroes not to have been captured like John McCain.

Will Trump lead us to the brink and beyond and be responsible for the deaths of many more U.S. Military personnel?  We’ll have to keep our Congressmen’s and women’s feet to the fire to prevent Trump from starting any kind of war.  They didn’t do so good with “W” Bush or Obama.  Let’s hope they do better with Trump.

Respect

Barbara records the View and she wanted me to see a segment of the View that talked about Newsweek cover picture With Trump.  Here it is.

After showing the cover the ladies on the panel talked about the picture. Jedediah Bila and the newswoman from NBC’s Today Show,  Paula Feris, a  conservative felt that it was disresp-ectful of the office of the president  I thought about the issue most of the today.  I thought about respect and the respect of “the position.”  There’s a lot to be thought of when thinking about having respect for a position and having respect for a person.

Personally, I find nothing wrong with the picture.  It is satire about a person’s traits who just happens to be the president of the United States.  Let’s look at ten disrespectful incidents aimed at Obama as president.

 

1. The birther fiasco (2009-2011). No evidence. No proof. No documentation.  But the story traveled on for years. Yes, Hawaii is part of the United States of America.

2. “You lie” (Sept. 2009). That any individual — no less a member of Congress watching a U.S. President during a joint session on live national television — is so lacking in self control that this moment was made possible is incredible — even in an age of incivility. Remember this happened only nine months into Obama’s presidency and is another “we can’t remember that ever happening ever before” moment. Close your eyes and pretend Rep. Maxine Waters was Wilson doing this to President Bush and image the reaction.

3. Signs of the Tea Party (July 2010) and Naked Racism (April 2011).  Anyone remember California GOP official Marilyn Davenport’s racist e-mail? Did she ever resign for that?  I remember all the criticism of the NAACP – particularly from Black Republicans — for their “Tea Party resolution” of 2010.  Where was that indignation regarding what can be viewed in this video? Click here.

4. Donald “unchecked ego” Trump inflames birther fiasco, media assists (April 2011). The mouth of Donald Trump is a powerful thing when joined with a 24-hour cable news cycle desperate for viewers.  That news organizations invited Trump on the air unchallenged with zero proof of what he was saying speaks volumes on the state of journalism.  That Trump was completely comfortable demanding that a U.S. President “show him his papers” displays a superiority complex that exists among those who can’t accept someone they view as “lesser” in a position of power over them.

4. Deadbeat dad and probable one-termer thinks his presence before the President actually matters and needs to tell everyone (Sept 2011).  The disrespect isn’t that probable one term Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) wouldn’t attend the President’s Sept. 8 speech. The disrespect is that Rep. Walsh actually believed that everyone knowing he wasn’t attending was important.  That he needed to announce he would not attend on national television, as if anyone cared, was yet another delusional superiority episode.  That proudly showing public disrespect towards the President is a winning strategy in some political circles reveals a lot.

5. Newt Gingrich’s “Kenyan anti-colonial behavior” comment (Sept 2010).Even Washington Post columnist and conservative thinker George Will slammed this attempt to define the President as “foreign.” Never mind the facts: President Obama wasn’t reared by his father in Kenya with whom he spent only a month of his 50 years on this earth. The strategy to define the President as a “foreign” or “alien” being was started by Sarah Palin in 2008.

6. One of the underlying premises of disrespect towards the President is that he can be ordered around and dictated to like he’s Tipi the laundry boy.  The presumption that a U.S. President can be ordered around is a new phenomenon that appears to have gotten underway around January 2009.  From big mouth Congressmen to millionaires with nothing to do, you name it — they all inherently believe they can order President Obama around.  At least Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an actual leader of something. Regardless, read this and ask yourself if you think this would have happened to Presidents Bush, Reagan or Clinton.

7. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer puts her finger in the President’s face (January 2012). The photo speaks for itself.  Of course there are strong political disagreements between President Obama and Gov. Brewer.  But is it just possible there was a better time and place for this conversation?  Brewer said she felt “a little threatened” by President Obama. Please.

8. GOP House, prompted by Tea Party — refuses to raise debt ceiling (Aug 2011). Sounds like this was just hardball politics right? Let’s review the facts: The debt ceiling had been raised 69 times since 1962 without incident.  Seven times during Bush II and 18 times during Reagan.  Suddenly, with President Obama, a shiny new precedent is set with regard to raising the debt ceiling.  Another never before seen incident is born.

9. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Publicly Announces His Top Political Priority (Dec 2010). McConnell wants the President out of office?  No news there, but, wait, there’s more to it. “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term,” Sen. McConnell told the Heritage Foundation.  Of course the Senate Republican Leader doesn’t want the President to be re-elected.  But what’s with the public announcement? In July 2010 McConnell acknowledged his single most important political goal: President Obama being a one-term President. Again: In public and on national television.

10. Speaker Boehner refuses speech date request (September 2011). No it is not the end of the world.  Of course, the White House intentionally wanted to step on a GOP debate that same night. But, this is yet another first in American history. Once again, no one can find another instance where a President of the United States requested a date to address Congress and was refused.

Now there’s a white president and although the president may have colluded with the Russians, is a pathological liar, a sexual predator, and bully we have to give. some think, the office of the president respect if not the man.  Humbug!

Does the office, the position, of the president demand respect from the world regardless of who is the president?  If John Wayne Gacy was president or Adolph Hitler was president would we have to be respectful to them just because they were president? Does the position of the president make the man of does the man earn our respect by being a good, or better, a great president?

Too often we have to be respectful of an office or position because if we don’t we will suffer somehow.  Try being disrespectful to a judge, or police officer, or your boss, or even your teacher and see what happens.  All too often the teacher gets little respect even though he or she may deserve it.  Sometimes respect comes just from likability. Because I like you I, therefore, can respect you.  Humbug again!

I’ve had to salute officers in the Marine Corps that I had no respect for.  But the consequence of not saluting was not worth showing my disdain for the individual.

I wouldn’t say that all of Trump’s supporters are poorly educated and racists but I would think that a great majority of them are just that.  Looking at another dose of Trump’s need for sycophantic adoration during a West Virginia campaign style rally was disturbing to watch.  Chanting “lock her up” and responding with Mexico to Trump’s prompt as to who will pay for the wall, I found it hard to believe that people can be that naive or that stupid.  But seeing is believing.

Now after all the hard work of thinking of words to Tweet Trump is going on a 17 day “working” vacation at his New Jersey Golf Club.  Will he work on tax reform or a new version of Trump Care?  Or will he just reflect on why he’s on vacation after saying “what’s the point” of going on a vacation?

As the Newsweek cover shows he has already spent 40 days at his golf clubs already.  He’ll be worse than George W Bush vacationing and Ronald Reagan working short hours each day.

As I said, respect has to be earned or there has to be the fear of consequences if respect is not given.  So far Trump has done nothing except for anti-Muslims, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-government people.  He is an affront to my America.

 

Corpsmen

My guard post and M60 machine gun.

After returning from Vietnam and spending a little time in Chicago on leave. I reported in to my next duty station located at Montford Point, North Carolina.  Montford Point is located hailing distance from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina home of the Marine Corps 2nd Division.  It’s located just east of Montford Point.

In those days Montford Point was the Marine Corps’ formal schools location.  Many of the MOSs, Military Occupation Specialties, had schools there.  I was assigned to teach auto mechanics there.

Looking in Google Earth I notice that Montford Point is now labeled as Camp Gilbert.  I guess the fact that Montford Point, until 1947, was a boot camp for Black Marines.  It wasn’t until 1947 that Truman integrated the armed forces.  There is a memorial to the Black Marines there though.

The reason I’m bringing this up is just as background for another of the schools located there.  It was the Hospital Corps School and Field Medical School.  The Marine Corps, being the poorest branch of the military, doesn’t have their own combat medical personnel.  The fact that the Marines were last in line was driven home by the lack of jungle boots, jungle utilities, and while the Army had M16s we still carried the M14.  I actually preferred the M14 at the time.  The corpsmen who served and serve with the Marine Corps are all U.S. Navy personnel.

I’ve always imagined how they felt when told their medical duties would be fulfilled serving with the Marine Corps.  Often as I would travel the road out of the base I’d see these corpsmen being drilled by Marine Corps drill instructors in the same manner as all Marines were in Marine Corps boot camp.  These prospective Corpsmen had already gone through Navy Boot Camp and now had to spend another thirteen weeks learning how to be Marines.  Then there were three weeks of Field Medical School where they were taught how to medically service the Marine Corps.

I’ve mentioned before in another blog that no one had a negative word for our “Docs.”  For us they were Marines.  While on Guard duty I would watch as a grunt squad and a Corpsman bringing up the rear would pass through our lines into the boonies past the rice paddies, just around sunset.

In this month’s issue of the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars, magazine, there is an article about the medics and corpsmen that served in Vietnam.   It gave information that I didn’t know.  Information that raised my respect for them even more than I had.

Jerome Greet Chandler, a former Army medic wrote the article that I read in VFW.  He writes:

“According to U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Historian Andre Sobocinski, more than 10,000 Navy hospital corpsmen served with Marines during Vietnam (War).  Of Those, 645 were killed in action and more than 3,300 wounded.”

The statistics for Army medics serving in Vietnam is unknown.  Now how is that possible?  But what is known is the number of medical personnel that received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for bravery.

“According to the Medal of Honor Society, 259 medals were conferred for actions during the Vietnam War.  Twenty of them went to medics. corpsmen and the like—one out of every 13 conferred.”

Altogether, from 1964 to 1975 2.7 million served in Vietnam.  I was just one of many and I did nothing heroic during my months there.  I was scared several times but mostly I simply survived.

But, to all the “Docs” who served along side of Marines, I say Oorah and Semper Fi.  I salute you all.