Archive for the ‘Column’ Category


Author: admin

Odd word, isn’t it? It’s used by some to describe people from other countries who become full time residents of Mexico.

We have friends who’re “Mex-Pats” and we recently flew down to their “home city” of Chapala in the State of Jalisco. Chapala is a two-and-a-half hour flight Southeast of Phoenix so we figure it to be about a thousand miles.

Chapala is a typical Mexican town. No high-rises like PuertoVallarta, Mexico City, Cancun or any other major spot. Tallest building we saw was a three-story home.

What we experienced in Chapala was about as close to the real Mexico as you can get these days. Very old with cobblestone streets to rattle your teeth. Cement and stone construction in nearly all buildings. Narrow streets with narrow sidewalks, very small commercial businesses and a central plaza near a Catholic Church built in 1749.

Anyone who talks about “lazy Mexicans” has never spent time in a real Mexican community. Everywhere we went – and I mean everywhere – people were working. From the larger businesses to the guy outside the church we attended who was selling many varieties of washed fresh fruit out of a cardboard box – everyone was busy. We saw no indications of homelessness, no panhandlers anywhere we went. And we went just about everywhere in Chapala.

We passed a street crew of about eight men digging out an old water line. Not three working and five watching. All were on picks and shovels because they don’t use backhoes or other heavy equipment. Many road repairs in the area were the same – done by hand.

Locals we encountered spoke little to no English. Even the desk clerk in our hotel and counter employees at the International airport in Guadalahara about 20 miles away. American money wasn’t accepted anywhere we went. Credit cards worked sometimes and sometimes they didn’t. Pesos were a necessity.

There were no “touristy” areas anywhere. Very small shops with goods mostly made in Mexico. No plate glass windows, no neon signs, no upscale fashions. We found small children of working mothers in several shops. All quiet, well-behaved, playing with small toys, reading a book or sleeping. Not one running underfoot.

The large central plaza was great for people-watching. Musicians, vendors both inside and out, no cars or other noises of civilization. Many choices of food and drink. And large trees everywhere for shade in the hot afternoons.

New commercial development was outside the city. No new car dealers. A couple of movie theaters, a Starbucks and a “Wal-Marche.” Bought Colgate toothpaste – writing on the tube in Spanish. Same with Coke or Budweiser. Very little to remind you of the states.

New construction in Chapala is either on small vacant ground which was never used or where older buildings had been removed. Our friends’ new home, in an older section, was one such. About 1,600 square feet, inner and outer walls solid concrete, a glass wall to an interior courtyard and a beautiful hand-laid convex brick ceiling over the entire living area. Less than $200-thousand.

Healthcare quality is good and available either through clinics, public or private hospitals. The public ones are free but crowded. The private ones charge but fees are much less than the states.

There’s a sizeable contingent of Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans and other nationalities in Chapala. Moderate temperatures, laid-back Mexican lifestyle, very low cost-of-living, a feeling of being removed from what we call “civilization,” gracious locals who have gladly accepted their new “neighbors” – many enticing features.

But. There’s always a “but.”

Most homes in Chapala are surrounded by high concrete walls. Many topped with steel spikes, concertina wire or electric fencing. Some have guard dogs. Garage and outer compound doors of steel. Most homes and other buildings have large water storage tanks on the roof because of frequent outages. Local tap water, in some places, not safe to drink. Some homes have emergency generators. Security issues are ever-present.

Those cobblestone roads are everywhere so cars and other vehicles take a pounding. Mexican roads can leave something to be desired. Even major highways are often uneven with roller-coaster rides. For serious shopping, car-buying or major medical needs, it’s about an hour drive to Guadalahara.

On balance, we very much enjoyed our small-town Mexican experience. People were welcoming and gracious. The atmosphere was far-removed from the travel guides, time-share condos, high-rises, carefully-trimmed golf courses, fancy dining and other accouterments we hear about. Our host-friends were generous with their time and knowledge of the area. We felt we did get to see what the country is really like.

Ready to be a Mex-Pat? No. But, the experiences we had and the things we learned were eye-opening in many ways. We have a new appreciation for the country and its residents.

You oughta try the real Mexico sometime. Bueno!

Healthcare is a business

Author: admin

A lot a folks these days are bandying about words like “universal healthcare” and “Medicare/Medicaid for all” and similar popular phrases.

Sounds good. Sounds positive. Sounds hopeful. And chances for any to materialize nationally in the near future are slim to none. Like lots of things we want to fix in our lives, the distance between “want” and “get” is a country mile. Or two.

In November, large majorities of voters in Idaho and Utah said they wanted expanded Medicaid programs to take care of hundreds of thousands of uninsured. Referendums in both states passed with significant numbers. In the old days, the legislatures would have heard the call and gotten right to work fulfilling the will of citizens.

Today, not so much. Majority political parties in each state tried their damndest to ignore those voices. Bills were introduced to cut benefits of anything eventually adopted. In Idaho, there was a “poison pill” measure in committee to kill eventual expansion if the feds ever change the funding ratio. In Utah, they tried to flat out stop expansion. Period!

If voters in those states want to see their dreams of more insured folks, they’re going to need a second election to get rid of the naysayers. Maybe even a third and fourth.

Looking to Congress for help is an even more daunting – and certainly doomed – task in the near future. While large numbers of us want significant improvements, too many denizens of that swamp won’t lift a finger. There’s all that lobbying money from insurance companies, the folks making pharmaceuticals and dozens of other interests wanting to keep the status quo.

It’s not as if “universal” care or federal medical programs won’t be expanded or that our payment system for services won’t be improved. All that can – and likely will – happen. But, given the obstacles, those politicians promising such in the near future are blowing smoke.

For those too young to remember, we went through such efforts in the ‘60’s with creating Medicare. Even with favorable majorities in Congress, Lyndon Johnson had to push, pull, promise, horse-trade and literally threaten the political futures of some in both parties to get it. The fight today is way more uphill. The aforementioned drug and insurance outfits and their friends are making it so. Whatever the outcome, it’ll start with political and business decisions – not consumer need. A basic issue that must be solved is how those entities can survive and in what form.

Proof of that is how physicians and hospitals have radically changed business models in the last decade to stay in business with Medicare. Many now use step-down intermediate care to get patients out of the more expensive hospital stays. They’ve hired salaried doctors and “hospitalists” on staff, opened their own related care facilities such as rehab centers and lower-level extended care centers. Many ancillary services previously farmed out have been incorporated into the overall structure.

Physicians have reorganized for Medicare, too. Often, they create a partnership of several specialities, open in-house labs, manage their own testing such as EEG and similar exams and limit nearly all patient visits to 15-minute appointments. Many docs have hired specialty physician assistants so more patients can be seen, spreading the load but not the costs.

Insurance companies started “Medigap” programs which, given the amount of advertising to attract new customers, must have proven profitable. They’ve also changed other aspects of their business models to streamline coverage while assuring income.

In all likelihood, we’re heading to some sort of single-payer system in this country. Call it “Universal” or “expanded Medicaid” or any other popular name. The plain fact is we can’t continue to operate under a system that eats so much of our national resources, is priced out of reach of millions and causes bankruptcies in the thousands each year.

But, to realize a goal of “healthcare for everyone,” the political and business issues must be solved first. If availability and cost containment are the goals, then assuring the survival – in some form – of the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance providers who make up that system must be addressed up front.

No one entity has the answer. And you won’t have traditional quality healthcare of any reliable sort without them. As businesses and corporations, they’ll need to survive or none of us will live to see significant changes.

Politicians who make it sound like we can achieve all that by simply electing them and they’ll make it happen, are glossing over the massive work to get it done.

Healthcare is, after all, a business.

Civil War II

Author: admin

Funny what you can overhear while sitting in a diner, a medical waiting room or a theater before the movie starts these days. Interesting. But, sometimes scary.

Filling the gas tank recently, listening to two guys gassing up their cars who obviously knew each other. A conversation I never thought we’d hear in these United States of America.

“I’d bet, before the 2020 election, we’re going to have a shooting civil war again in this country,” said one.

The other agreed, saying he was already stocking up on ammunition and had recently bought a second AR-15.

“Not going to get me without a fight,” he warned.

Driving home, at first I was sort of shocked. A second “civil war?” Nah. Just goofy talk. Got home. Sat down at the computer and read this: “I have the support of the police, the military, Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people but they don’t play it tough until they get to a certain point, then it would be very bad, very bad.”

The President of the United States? Nah, just Donald Trump. And, therein lies a problem.

While it wouldn’t be right to lay all blame for division and violence at his feet alone, what were conditions, say five years ago? Were they then what they are today? Did you feel the same about your world then as you do today? Every disaster that befalls a nation needs someone to hold the match. Trump is a torch!

But, look elsewhere. How about Idaho and Utah where voters overwhelmingly ordered legislators in both states to create expanded Medicaid for all. Resoundingly! So, what happened? They produced bills to radically change what the referendums specified; to add work requirements; to twist what voters approved into some other unrecognizable creature. To outright kill it. And, to flip the bird at voters, Idaho legislative miscreants tried to make future referendums all but impossible to achieve success.

Look at other states where court orders to do this-and-that about redistricting, voting laws, added school funding, public safety, civil rights have been all but ignored by state governments. Just flat ignored!

What about today’s tone coming from Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity and the rest of the hate talkers? Is it more angry today? Do they often get right up to the line of inciting action against someone, some form of government or some “foreign” religion or country?

What about some of our politicians? Steve King, for one, publically predicting actual, physical confrontation between “red” states and “blue” states. And he’s got a national audience of racists, bigots and white supremacists who listen.

Rep’s Gaetz, Jordan, Meadows, Nunes, Gohmert and the garbage and hate speech flowing from some of the “Freedom Caucus” in the U.S. House. These people didn’t get there – and they aren’t staying there – without votes of millions of Americans who’ve supported them? And Lindsey Graham? Single-handedly stopping House-passed legislation on new election laws and energy conservation. All by himself; while touting the “extraordinary accomplishments” of one D. Trump.

And this. Several years ago, the BLM tried to shutdown an illegal mining operations near Grants Pass, Oregon. Made a number of visits to serve papers. Until that day when a dozen guys in fatigues toting AR-15s met ‘em and held ‘em at bay for a week. Finally, the BLMers gave up. Even closed the Grants Pass office.

How about the Bundys in Nevada who successfully stopped the feds with rifles? It all ended when the feds quit.

The sheriff in Douglas County, Oregon, has repeatedly stated he won’t enforce any new federal gun laws and will arrest any federal agents who try to enforce them. He’s not alone. Hundreds of other duly elected badge wearers have taken the same position. “I’ll decide what to enforce and I’ll arrest others trying to do their lawful duties.”

And, immigration. We’re not solving the problem. We’re making what used to be worth hardly a mention into what could become a powder keg, especially in border states. Mass killing in churches, schools and other public venues. Any progress there? Feeling more and more helpless as the numbers of innocent bodies stack up?

There are many, many more signs of citizen frustration, Citizen disappointment. Citizen anger. Starting with local governments up to the feds, people are feeling their votes don’t count and the system has either failed or, in some cases, begun actively working against their interests and needs.

This is not to say this nation is at the “civil war” stage. It IS to say, if current political and social conditions don’t change – if laws we live under aren’t properly and evenhandedly prosecuted – if violence and other injustices against unarmed minorities aren’t ended – if banks and big business aren’t called to task – if all this and more feeding citizen feelings of helplessness and neglect aren’t addressed and corrected, there will eventually be a bad ending.

Maybe not a civil war. But, a bad ending nonetheless.

Number 2 important too

Author: admin

Show biz folks refer to it as a “cattle call” when open auditions are announced for a new movie or play and hopefuls come running.

Seems fitting to use the same terminology since everyone but your Aunt Susie has jumped into the 2020 race for the Democrat presidential nomination. Most Democrats are O.K. with the large field of names, hoping the “best” person wins. Well, you can always hope.

But, my question is this: Who’s running for vice president? Who wants that second spot on the ticket? Who’s looking at 2024 or 2028? And, you know some of them are.

No one I know can name all the candidates to date. There are several I’ve never heard of and we probably won’t see their names much longer. The winnowing process – lack of money and support – will take care of them sooner rather than later.

The field is hard to handicap. Most don’t have enough national political experience to be called “qualified” candidates. Biden, Warren and Sanders do. Maybe Klobuchar. But, a larger number are either governors, former governors, a mayor or two, some in their first terms in Congress and a couple of folks who like the idea of just running. Experience or no.

Barack Obama was a rarity as he jumped from the Illinois legislature to the U.S. Senate to the presidency in a series of quick moves. But, none of the congressional one-termers, so far, seems to have that possibility. They’re not able to “light the fire” Obama did.

There are some very able people in the field. Washington Governor Inslee is one. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Klobuchar have some good state and federal experience. All capable but short on foreign affairs and military issues. Important for a president.

Pete Buttgieg is a candidate with a name most folks can’t remember and even fewer can spell. Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. No prior national experience of any kind. Not someone who’d normally be considered a serious challenger. But – after listening to him and checking out some of his history – he’s getting a better welcome from some Democrats than you’d expect. Bright. Multi-lingual. Veteran. And seems to be catching on with younger voters. A “comer.”

When it comes to experience and background you’d look for in a presidential candidate, Biden tops them all. But, four things work against him. Age. An uncanny knack of verbally stepping on his own feet from time to time. The baggage all that 40 years of experience brings as he’s grown and evolved – as we all do – have put him on both sides of several major issues. And he was found guilty of some plagiarizing many years ago. All that is fodder for any opponent in a presidential race. When that opponent is certain to be Donald J. Trump, Biden could find himself on the defensive 24-7.

Two other names are worth considering for VP – Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke.

There’s a lot of talk these days that younger folks are looking for the new – the interesting – the next “big thing” in politics. You even hear it said that “older, more experienced” candidates should “move over” and make room for the “new faces.” Interesting talk but the plain fact is our national problems require some “gray hair” in the front office.

It’s obvious Castro and O’Rourke have captured a lot of attention with intelligence, grasp of issues, ability to “light up” a crowd and a kind of dynamism not often seen in our national politics. Both would seem to have bright futures. Either one would make a good vice president. And, maybe that’s just what they’re positioning themselves for.

Neither has the “seasoning” or broad experience critical for the next President. There’ll be a lot of wreckage to clear away and many fences to mend. But, four years of on-the-job training would make either a formidable candidate for the top job in 2024.

Or, possibly, either or both would make good cabinet appointees in a Democrat administration. Get on “the inside” and learn the finer points of making a success of some of the tougher jobs. Become part of the decision-making process at the highest levels. Get that good, broad, international exposure they both lack.

When you’ve got 10 or so serious candidates to consider, there are many variables and outcomes on the table. Democrats are just a couple of votes shy of taking over the Senate. If they can do that, if they can hang on to the House and IF they can win the White House, they’ll face some very tough times trying to straighten out the mess left by Trump, his terrible decision-making and his “rogues gallery” of a cabinet.

Democrats need a combination of experience and youth. It’s not just the top job on the line here. The subject of succession needs to be at the center of the 2020 choice.

So, a very important question to answer is – who’s running for vice president?

One dangerous section

Author: admin

So, we have the Mueller report. Rather, we have most of the Muller report. Some days ahead, we will have it all. No redactions. No phony accompanying “gas lighting” from an attorney general who’s failed his constitutional responsibilities and become a political whore for a failed – and likely doomed – president.

Strong words? Yes. Strong feelings? Yes.

But, there is a particular portion that scares the hell out of me. Just one section but its implications go far, far beyond the report.

Trump – who doesn’t know the legal difference between obstruction and collusion – has claimed “vindication” because he was “cleared” of obstruction. No, he wasn’t. The largest contributing proofs of that are the reasons I’m frightened.

The following is taken directly from the Muller report, courtesy of CNN:


“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

“(James) Comey did not end the investigation of (Michael) Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. (Don) McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the special counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order.

(Corey) Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the President ‘s message to (Jeff) Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the special counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed,” the report said.

Permit me to translate all that. Trump TRIED to obstruct justice but his staff refused to follow his direct orders. Simple as that. Scary as that.

Take Trump out of the equation for a moment. Think only of the Office of the President of the United States.

I’m reminded of a line from the Spielberg movie “Lincoln” when an angry Abe pounded the table and railed “The is the office of the President – clothed in immense power!”

That’s an absolute fact. And it can be personally overwhelming when you stand silently in an empty Oval Office, listening to your own heart beat. The very real sense of authority – read “power” – is as authentic as the furniture.

That authority comes directly from the Constitution and is both specific and overarching. Whoever sits behind that desk is “clothed in immense power” and decisions and orders emanating from that spot are expected to be followed. Most often, previous occupants have made decisions or issued orders only after consultations with staff and discussions with experts in their fields to assure all relevant facts have been examined to assure accuracy.

Now, put Trump back in the picture. Like him or hate him, he’s also “clothed” in that power – that authority. His decisions – his orders – are issued with the same constitutional backing as his predecessors. Even if they don’t have the same group thinking.

BUT – many of his staff and advisors – those who know him best – have been given their orders from Trump and, without telling him, have refused to carry out ones they disagreed with. They’ve disobeyed and secreted their decision to do so,

I’ve written before about instances of such real resistance to Trump in activities of the military. Clear cases of finding ways to not do as ordered – no military parade, unarmed rather than armed soldiers at our southern border, Pentagon refusing to allow immigrants arrest powers, etc.. Again, a constitutionally authorized portion of our national government finding ways to block presidential authority.

Now, we know such resistance is occurring in the White House.

Given world conditions today – given Trump’s legal authority to unwisely conduct negotiations of a nuclear treaty with North Korea – given the failure of Congress to perform its duties as a co-equal branch of government – given Trump’s mercurial nature in his conduct of our national affairs – given even our military leaders thwarting some of his orders – given his serial lying – we should be afraid.

And, now, Robert Muller’s report contains specific examples of staff closest to Trump deciding, on their own, which orders they’ll obey, putting verbal gasoline on an already smouldering situation.

The pervasive thought, that people we’ve never heard of, elected to no leadership roles, people surrounding the President of the United States, individuals at the highest levels of our nation are often secretly ignoring legally-issued orders based on their own thinking – all that is quietly terrifying to me.

If that doesn’t kick-start a sleeping congress – especially Republicans – to perform their co-equal branch responsibilities, we’re in greater trouble than we know.

It’s subpoena time

Author: admin

When most of us were kids, we were taught to tell the truth. When we did, things around the household ran smoothly and life was good.

But, occasionally, a lie seemed like the easy way out. Besides, “who’d know?” Most often, Mom or Dad DID know. When that happened at our house, the result usually had something to do with a willow switch, wielded in love, though it didn’t seem so at the time.

Been watching the Congressional hearings of late? Been watching and listening to some of our nation’s “leaders” testify to this and that? Been trying to match a lot of that testimony with fact?

I have. And, IMHO, what’s needed most now, along the banks of the Potomac, is a willow tree – make that an orchard of willow trees – from which many switches could be cut. Many.

Though there are others, two major miscreants stand out: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Attorney General Barr. Both have wandered so far from the truth their willow punishments alone could account for a tree or two.

The lying behavior of both wasn’t hard to see coming. There’s been plenty of evidence that, when push came to shove, their allegiance would not be to the great responsibilities of their positions but to an arrogant, serial-lying, racist misogynist who would sell out this country for a new hotel site.

Barr, especially, has come dangerously close to performing in a way that would put his law license in danger in the purview of some bar associations. He’s not skirted truth so much as stomped all over it. At the same time, he spewed conspiracy theories and some of the flat-out lies we’ve heard so often from his “master.”

Given a second chance, and sufficient rethink time, to recant one of the most heinous charges, he wouldn’t. Instead, he doubled down on a lie that’s been refuted by investigatory agents in his own department!

Rather than supporting the work of Special Prosecutor Muller, he’s blithely announced formation of yet another team to investigate why the Muller investigation was authorized in the first place. In other words, when the facts – and law – aren’t on your side, try to undermine those who do have the facts.

Barr’s whore-like “testimony” was given to a panel made up entirely of lawyers. All of ‘em. Some were prosecutors in their previous lives. They can spot what Barr was amateurishly trying to do. In the legal professions – and many others – it’s called “ass-covering.”

I have to wonder what Muller is thinking and feeling about all this, especially about Barr’s positing an investigation to try to undermine nearly two years of the Muller team’s work. These guys know each other – worked together. Their professional histories go back years.

What do you suppose Mueller thinks now? He, alone, knows what his nearly two years of work uncovered. He, alone, knows what was in -and what was left out – of his report. He knows far, far more about facts uncovered – facts that can eventually be used by Congress and other authorities to support future prosecutions. Barr doesn’t know that. Yet, there he was, promising an investigation of the investigators and their authority.

Mnuchin shared in that “ass-covering” drivel. The law regarding congressional access to tax filings – anyone’s tax filings – is simple-enough and straight-forward enough – to withstand challenge. But, there he was, trying to buffalo another committee of lawyers who know what he was attempting to do.

He even told the committee he had a “more important appointment” to get to and challenged the chair over when and how he could leave the proceedings. He looked like the damned fool he is. All he accomplished was to anger members of Congress that have many ways of bringing him to heel.

Again, IMHO, it’s time to start printing and distributing subpoena’s and handing them out. Lots of ‘em. The time has come to put Barr. Mnuchin and their cohorts under oath and hang the swords of contempt and lying to Congress charges over their misbegotten heads.

We’re headed for an explosion – or maybe many explosions – in D.C.. The pressure of Trump’s arrogance, outrageous behavior and dislike of any restrictions to his presidential authority, coupled with what has now been proven regarding coverup attempts by his minions, is heating up. Trump, alone, is the subject of 27 formal investigations. Other miscreants around him can account for another dozen or more.

This is all headed – now or when Trump leaves office – to legal charges for many folks in a number of jurisdictions.

Barr and Mnuchin are, quite possibly, the opening act. They may have become the first leaks of “steam” from the building pressures. If so, their shoddy efforts to carry water for a lying president are proof Trump will try to poison truth. That he, and those around him who’ve pledged their fealty to his cancerous presence in our Republic, will do and say anything to protect him.

Get out the popcorn. It’s subpoena time.

Joe and me

Author: admin

In this nation – and I suppose others as well – we have a constant national problem. Well, we have lots of national problems. But, this one you find in our news media, entertainment, religion, societal issues and a lot of other institutions. Including politics.

It usually becomes a major part of our national dialogue when some issue – or someone – becomes the major topic of the day capturing people’s attention. For good or ill. When it happens, the pendulum – discussion – swings from one side to the other at such a fast pace that reason and logic are often forgotten.

At the moment, Joe Biden is being victimized by that kind of national momentum that’s mostly undeserved. I say that as a man a decade older than Joe but as someone who was also raised in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s in a middle class working home. A home with two loving parents, public schooling, religious training and proud of it all.

We learned the social expectations of the time, learned to live by the right values of that era and, in most ways, evolved as the decades rolled by. We both are creatures of that background and, like Joe, I still live and most often practice those ways in daily life. It’s who we are.

Now, Biden’s being pilloried for some of the behavior which is part of his being. Just like mine. Not sexual actions or threatening, violent behavior or socially unacceptable language. But, he’s being subjected to daily public criticism as if all that were true of him. They’re not.

To those saying “Times have changed and we must change with ‘em,” I say, “I understand.” God knows, I understand. Even as our culture has grown grosser, our language in public more highly offensive and our acceptance of what was once unacceptable in entertainment, media, sports and other public activities continue unabated. But, I understand.

Joe is being accused of “touching” women or making them “uncomfortable.” Not by women he may have “touched” today or even this week. But, by women who said they felt “uncomfortable” several years ago. My question: “Where the hell have they been, why didn’t they speak up before a presidential campaign and, most important, when the behavior made them “uncomfortable,” did they say so to Biden?

As for the woman from Nevada, she and Biden were making a public appearance that day. She was about to speak. He leaned forward and touched her hair and shoulder as if to say, “You got this. You’ll do fine.” Encouragement is what I get from the details. Did she tell Joe afterwards he was wrong – that his actions upset her or made her more nervous? Did she?

Let’s talk about “behavior” for a moment.

When it comes to public “touching” or “caressing” or any other social act of greeting, I remember the late Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus and Senator Frank Church as they “worked” a room or campaign appearance. Both approached you with an extended right hand – palm up – followed many times by a left hand on someone’s body. Male or female. And, the gestures were nearly always returned.

Politicians of every stripe do the same. Always have. Many hug – or are hugged by – the other person. Sometimes even a kiss on the cheek. In a basic sense, it’s part of the “job description.” You may not like it or get upset. But, that’s a most common political social environment.

I understand some people – female and male – not liking physical closeness. I get it. Joe gets it, I’m sure. It’s always been that way. Many folks like their “space.” These people – female and male – aren’t new. Their feelings aren’t new. But, the current uproar by some voices is. The pendulum has swung quickly.

That pendulum swing of currently “acceptable” social behavior has gone far from center. Joe’s been around for 70+ years. Me for more than 80. This sudden “foot-on-the-brake” of what’s now “expected” is new to people – men and women – with all our previous years of experience. Of 70-80 years of what was acceptable conditioning.

Education is a two-step process for most of us. Especially seniors with years of history. Step one: forget – unlearn – what you know and have done in the past. Step two: learn the new, even if it’s radically different. Forget and re-learn. Forget and re-learn.

When you ask people who know Biden the best, what you hear most about are his many little – and mostly very private – acts of kindness toward both friends and strangers. How he often goes out of his way to do or say something to support individuals he doesn’t even know. How personable and, yes, even loving he is with just – people. Not the kinds of things you hear about other vice presidents or senators.

What angers me most, at the moment, is the sudden outbreak of female criticism of Biden. Aside from being probably the most experienced of all candidates in both parties, he’s an old “war horse.” But, some of the very experiences that make him so highly qualified are now being seen as inappropriate. In many ways, the older you get, the more history you have to overcome.

And, let’s not forget. Among Democrat contenders to take on Trump next year, Biden is the leading candidate. Hmm.

Finally, for Joe and me – and the millions of other men out there who are long-lived – give us some time. We’ve made careers – fathered families – lived long lives of achievement – been accepted for who and what we are. We’re paying attention. We’ll make the adjustments necessary for what’s expected today.

And, we’ll still be here when that pendulum swings back to its proper place.

Less light, more heat

Author: admin

Here’s a fun fact for you. Most recent CNN polling of registered voters has Trump and Orcasio-Cortez statistically tied in “like” versus “dislike.” The numbers approving (about 41% for each) and the numbers disapproving (about 54%). Weird, huh?

Trump’s been in office just over two years. But, AOC reached her numbers in just about 90 days Something of a record, I think, given all the media attention she gets or puts herself out there for. And that’s the problem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “She runs the risk of being just another Kardashian.”

Which is too bad. She’s bright. She’s good on her feet. She’s advocating for most of the proper issues: new and better energy sources, improvements to banking and other finance regulations, higher wages. All good. All needed.

The problem is, since she won her Bronx election in November, between her efforts – and with willing support of national media – she’s achieved “rock star” status with a lot of folks. One of the late night talkers took to the streets recently to see what people thought of AOC. Answers were generally positive among those few who actually knew she was a member of Congress. But, an amazing number actually said “rock star!”

She’s not the only one of the new freshmen in Congress putting herself on the front pages and the talk shows. She has the highest public profile but others – mostly on House committees investigating Trump – are getting a lot of air time. IMHO, too much.

These young people have their “track shoes” on and many “hit the ground running.” Good. Mostly. But, some are demanding their predecessors take up their “new” bills right away. Demanding places on upper level committees. Right now. Wanting seats on the Budget & Finance Committee, for example, that traditionally go to members who’ve served longer and know a lot more about the budgeting process. The newcomers have proven patience is not one of their long suits.

Someone once likened the “ship of state” to an actual ocean liner. It takes a long time to turn that large ship around. It’s got to be done slowly, with many adjustments, before the maneuver is complete. There’s a lot of truth in that comparison.

Our national government was deliberately designed to be slow to change, though there are ways to achieve it. But, there’s great protection from making large-scale mistakes by having to push against the resistance to change. Took me years to learn that because, like AOC and the other “newbies,” I wanted to see more and faster responsiveness to ever-changing societal demands. It just doesn’t work that way. Nor should it.

Anyone who thinks change in government should come quickly need look no further for conclusive proof of the dangers than to note what’s happening in the White House. In the demands of one man’s unchecked, ignorant will, we’re seeing national and international carnage to a degree that’s never happened before. The wreckage he’s created can also come from a government unchecked and in too much of a hurry.

There’s a lot of talent in the new folks. Lots of energy that comes from not having experienced what the inside of Congress really looks like. Or how it operates or having been forced to slow down and learn how things get done. How bad ideas sometimes get through while good ones die aborning. Check back with ‘em in a couple of years and you’ll find the successful ones spent some time learning. And slowing down.

The 2020 election promises even more new faces. And the possible elimination of some disastrous roadblocks i.e. Ol’ Mitch. Whatever damage can be rightfully laid at Trump’s small feet, McConnell has done, in my opinion, far more lasting damage to this nation.

He’s done so by (1) stacking our federal court system with dozens of wholly unqualified people who’ll be there for decades and (2) killing any bills he doesn’t personally “like” or thinks shouldn’t become law. His actions have brought stalemate and partisanship to staggering new levels.

Aside from learning the ways Congress really works – when it works – the new folks need to study monoliths like McConnell and a few others. They need to listen. A lot. Listen to the members of both houses that are effective – that get things done. They need to divert some of that inexperienced enthusiasm into developing more patience with both the system and some of the “older” folks. Don’t lose the eagerness. Just temper it a bit.

They might spend some time with Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, who came to Congress some years ago, filled with zeal and lots of good ideas. Some of which are now law. Find out why people in “red state” Ohio keep returning him each election. Why they like his “lunch bucket” approach to governing. Still has the zeal. But, he’s also gathered a lot of knowledge and more than a few successes.

At the moment, AOC has a problem. That polling shows it. Just the fact that I can write “AOC” and you immediately know what those letters mean after only a few weeks makes the point.

There’s joy in recognition and acclaim – to be hounded by an ever-hungry media – to be asked by everyone what you think about this-and-that. But, there’s a deep downside when someone newer comes along; someone with a bit brighter wit, just a bit more enthusiasm, just a little more personality. Someone who’s a bit more “quotable.”

The good ones become better, often by ignoring the spotlight while sharpening their talents. She’s obviously got the talent. She’s just got too much spotlight.

Ask what people think when they hear the name “Kardasian.”

Marines vs. Navy

Author: admin

Polling. Polling. ‘Tis the season to be polling.

Unfortunately, when it comes to asking the public about Democrat presidential contenders, the numbers are just about meaningless at the moment. Way too early.

Saw one this week that had Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders way out in front. Duh. Of the 20 or so names on a pollster’s question sheet, do any of the others have the name identification of a 40 year politician – and recent Vice President for eight years – and a sitting senator who’s been running for President for 10 years and still has a national network of supporters?

It’s going to likely take another year for anything meaningful to come out of political sampling statistics. There’ll be lots of pushing and shoving and more than a few dropouts by early 2020.

Here in our cactus-littered landscape, we have an interesting race coming up. With some unique human interest.

After the death of John McCain, former Arizona Senator John Kyl was appointed to fill the remaining months until the 2018 election. At the same time, two of our members of Congress were going head-to-head for the other Senate opening to replace Jeff Flake who quit after polling showed him losing.

Eventually, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat the GOP’s Martha McSally in a close one.

Just before a new Congress could be seated, Kyl – as promised – stepped down, leaving McCain’s chair empty. So, what did our faithful Republican Governor do about filling it? Well, now, he just reached out and plopped the loser in the 2018 Senate race in it. The candidate the public had just rejected. McSally is in there until 2020 when – as the incumbent – she’s got to run again.

Hold those thoughts.

Several years ago, our Rep. Gabby Giffords was badly wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson. During a long recovery, she was forced to resign and one of her staff members was eventually elected to replace her.

The main support for Giffords during recovery was her husband – former astronaut Mark Kelly. As she got better, the two of them started a national campaign to tighten requirements for gun ownership. Many prominent people joined in and the movement is now well-recognized and represented in several states.

A tragic story could happily end right there. But, it doesn’t.

After a lot of urging by a lot of people, Kelly has decided to run against McSally next year. Lots of hoopla around here when he made the announcement. Arizona has traditionally been a pretty red state. But, several House seats have recently gone to Democrats and Sinema is our first Dem in the Senate in 40 years.

Kelly was more than just another astronaut in our space program. He and his twin brother provided a unique opportunity for NASA to further determine the human effects of extended spaceflight when one twin circled the globe for a year while the other sat it out in Houston under the watchful eye of doctors. Additionally, Mark Kelly made three space flights himself.

As a result, Kelly brings a lot of charisma and name identification to the political wars. Around these parts, he’s thought of a lot more than just “local boy makes good.” So, there’s got to be some real concern in the McSally camp.

But, to me, there’s one more part of the promised McSally-Kelly match-up that will make it unique.

If all goes as planned, we’ll have a former Marine fighter pilot – McSally – running against a former Navy fighter pilot – Kelly – to replace another former Navy fighter pilot – McCain.

You just can’t get much more human interest than that.

Advertising for “active senior” communities usually depicts a silver-haired couple or two, golfing, playing tennis or lounging around some palm-studded oasis featuring a huge pool. “Retirement adventures.”

For many, that portrayal says everything they’re looking for is “Nirvana for the taking” and is immediately available in California, Nevada, Florida or, as in our case, Arizona.

But, there’s another side. One we’ve come to know living in one of three Del Webb communities that are “cheek-by-jowl” which total some 90,000 of us “silver-haired” folk.

People who move here may be in their 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. Ready to dive into that “active” retirement, doing all the things they promised themselves they’d get do someday. And, nearly all “go for it.”

But, we get older. We get weaker. We grow more susceptible to the physical and mental changes aging brings about. While communities like ours may be filled with wonderful facilities and golf courses every few blocks, as our years stack up, we often find our “new” physical limitations make us spectators rather than “active” participants.
Medical care in these communities is usually first-rate and, with Medicare – and possibly a “medigap” policy – it’s all available on a moment’s notice. From sniffles to sophisticated surgery, we’ve got it. In abundance.

Over the last few years, Barb and I have spent some time in various medical waiting rooms. And, we’ve seen a lot of those formerly “active, silver-haired” seniors who aren’t so “active” anymore. We’ve experienced the other side – the down side – of senior community retirement living. It’s something those attractive ads leave out.

When you lump some 90,000 seniors together, you get a steady progression to the end of life. Some may eventually move elsewhere in the country to be near family for assistance. A few more have enough resources to hire the best home care support. But, without those options, you’re pretty much on your own. Sitting in waiting rooms can be damned difficult as you see so many people suffering from every ailment known to man. Up to and including near total incapacity.

The “other side” of retirement communities is not advertised. You can spend years playing golf, pickleball, shuffleboard, swimming, working on exercise devices and enjoying hundreds of clubs for just about every hobby you ever heard of. But, the “new faces” will become the “old-timers” and the “old-timers” will eventually become the frail elderly.

We are surrounded with first-class medical care, several hospitals catering to geriatric medicine and a wealth of specialists for every ailment. But, the plain fact is, there is an end to “retirement.”

There are five main entrances to Sun City Grand and Sun City West. I’ve often chuckled that, outside two of them, you’ll find two funeral homes. Just outside. Waiting. Plus four more “on campus.”

Some folks find humor no matter the downside. One of the funeral parlors offers monthly “pre-need” sessions. At each, they serve pizza. “Pizza and pre-need,” it’s called. If you can’t find humor in planning funerals while eating pizza, you’re probably too old to live here.

For months, there was a huge billboard in the middle of our community that read “COMPLETE CREMATION JUST $695.” Why it needed the word “complete” is beyond me. Folks talked about asking the proprietor what you get for $475?

A joke going around these communities of senior living has a couple in their 90’s meeting with an attorney to file for divorce. “Why now, after all these years,” the lawyer asks? “We wanted to wait until the children died,” was the response.

Not funny? Maybe. Tasteless? Could be. But, if you’re in your 80’s or 90’s and retirement isn’t “fun-and-games” anymore, you’ve gotta laugh at something. Even yourselves and your conditions.

Getting into your last years is a most personal experience. Different for each of us. Even if you’re been a caregiver for a loved one – even if you’ve been a healthcare professional – someone else’s spinal pain or cancer surgery or even dementia is entirely different when it’s yours. In so many late-in-life experiences, it’s “learn-as-you-go” because it’s your pain or your cancer or your dementia and nobody else can live it for you.

Please don’t read this as a condemnation of retirement communities or even retirement living. It’s just that, when you put 90,000 people in one big plot of land, and when they’re all growing older together, it’s a far different experience than traditionally depicted in those glossy ads.

Unless life is cut short by disease or some fatal event, we’re all heading in one direction. Long life is a privilege not granted to all. Most, who’ve been “allowed” the experience, find parts of it challenging or downright hard to deal with. The “machine” that is our physical being isn’t under warranty. Some of the “breakdowns” can’t be fixed. Each day can present a new obstacle we have to learn to deal with.

The retirement experience can be – and most often is – a good one. For awhile. You meet so many folks that, though strangers, often have a lot in common, even if it’s just the aging process itself. You share things. You remember many of the same things. You do things together to the best of your current abilities.

But, eventually, it’s not retirement anymore. It’s personal experience dealing with issues you’ve never known in the “first person.” End-of-life issues. It’s also a learning experience. How you handle it is all up to you.

You won’t find that in the ads.