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Aging gracefully, one skin-tag at a time

August 16, 2013

Aging gracefully, one skin-tag at a time

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the Accidental F-Bomb

July 15, 2017

Shawmut F-Bomb_Redo2

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Stop asking what ails Trump…

July 4, 2017

start asking what ails US….

Politics, particularly Presidential politics, is multidimensional. I’m not talking about different viewpoints and so forth. I’m talking about actual dimensions, as in differing existential planes.

The one we are most familiar with is, of course, the political dimension we glean from the media. It’s amazing how much faith we all have in this political plane. Few of us have actually ever met a real live politician beyond the local Mayor, or the state legislators who knock on your door when it’s time to smile and kiss babies again. Nor have most people encountered a journalist other than the sports writer for the high school paper or the campus rebel from the college newspaper looking for fresh meat to declare fetid. Obviously then, most people acquire their knowledge base, form opinions, vote, and perhaps block traffic while holding hand-lettered posters aloft bitching about one thing or another, all based upon information from complete strangers. We read their bylines in the newspapers, hear their names on the radio, and see them on the evening news. We don’t automatically genuflect when they first appear, however. We do, after all, have a certain amount of independent brain power, don’t hesitate to dump those who offend, and channel surf in search of someone who more closely reflects our own pre-established ideas, especially if they are physically attractive, glib, and have “voice”.

Another dimension of political existence is the one that most blow off as pure fiction but others swear exists in the shadows while really calling the shots without our knowledge or permission.

Then, of course, there are the multiple variations and levels in between that which we think we know and that about which we most likely haven’t a clue.

And, yes, purveyors of popular fiction have capitalized on these factors for centuries, creating some of our favorite literature.

Selected politicians, their handlers, and their butt boys have done the same thing.

The bottom line is, I believe the extreme majority of us go about our daily business and political lives fairly sure we know that the candidates we don’t favor are manifestations of Satan and that our own choices are merely pending beatification. The only thing missing is a fancy round platform covered with red, white, and blue stars for us to stand on, and a large ball to perform tricks with at the behest of some invisible Ringmaster.

When things don’t work out as planned, the Shirts exude moans of betrayal and confusion, while the Skins sneer and sniff “I told you so!”

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As a voter in the recent election, I don’t think I’m any exception, other than having briefly been the campus rebel from the college newspaper looking for fresh meat to declare fetid fifty something years ago.

Like many, I was a little surprised, but not much, by how divided the nation has become in the last few years. This is above and beyond traditional Party Politics, which can get pretty wild in its own right, but I don’t believe anyone has yet figured out exactly who was running the show this time around.

Most of the media was, and still is, as suspect of shenanigans and incompetence as the elected officials, their minions, and camp followers.

I, for one, favoring conservative and Libertarian viewpoints, found myself between a rock and a hard place. I had seen eight years too many of Statist philosophies continuing the efforts to build a prescriptive federal government while adding caveats and yeah-buts to the concepts of liberty, rights, responsibilities, and more. The very thought of Hillary Clinton setting up her unmentionables in a White House drawer again fed my paranoia and I kept my Nitro handy for the duration.

Obviously not a Democrat, I don’t think I’ve ever registered as a Republican, either, though I will often vote for their candidates. I was a registered Libertarian for a number of years, starting in the late seventies. I watched the debates and was disappointed in the showing of those I favored. “Politics as Usual” was a profanity, which eliminated some of the most experienced and qualified. I was underwhelmed by Rand Paul. I kind of rallied behind the Libertarian candidate, though I wasn’t as enthused about him as I would like to have been.

Donald Trump was an amusement, but for some reason, he took hold and there was no stopping him. It was a draw in the final stretch and “undecided” people were left staring down at one of the worst ballots in my memory. Accusations of fraud, corruption, and so forth are still falling out of the air like embers from a distant forest fire.

I don’t expect any peace, quiet, or civility for a number of years to come, and I don’t think we’ll find the source of our festering socio-political lesions until we dare to look in the mirror. We have become a pampered, entitled, and elitist population that doesn’t play well with others unless we get to rewrite the rules and make team assignments. We have made a habit of entrusting our liberty and freedom to those who prefer to give orders rather than to take them, volunteering to serve as their cattle in exchange for flattery, perfumed atmospheres, and free lunch paid for by someone we don’t have to play golf with.

The two party system has been incrementally nudged along to provide us with choices that make for a colorful display of appearing radically different while doggedly continuing on the same path to some sort of authoritarian collective existence. Same team, different uniforms, taking turns.

I’m sure Donald Trump has an admirable IQ, but that doesn’t make him “smart” in his current field. The White House isn’t a “Hobby Farm,” after all. While I imagine things “get done” in the political arena much like they do in the high end construction and development business, politicians are supposed to be especially adept at staying out of view in the process. Trump, on the other hand, tends to parade around stark naked, metaphorically speaking, at least for now.

The apt metaphors regarding his Presidency, obscene and otherwise, run in the streets like the Monsoon rains, but the bottom line is even Trump’s own party leaders are begging him to shut up. The man has demonstrated over the past six months that he has the social skills of a feral child, except he should know better and the feral child draws no such expectation.

I don’t think I’m alone in having droned “Give it a chance,” “Wait and see,” and the usual. I have come to the conclusion, however, that we are pretty much where we were last November. We want change, but the unknown is a bit scary at this point.

I have no doubt in my mind that President Trump has a generous cross section of personality disorders in his profile, but that’s neither unusual nor is it necessarily undesirable with the likes of those who win at King of the Mountain. However, I’m beginning to listen to rumblings about suspected deeper psychological issues. Sane or otherwise, the man is becoming a liability to the country, not because of the things he says he wants to do, but because he can’t say anything without insulting or offending the world.

In short, Donald Trump may be intelligent, he may be a billionaire, and he may be President of the United States.

Nevertheless, He is proving himself to be a consummate ass-hole as well, and that designation tends to trump the rest.

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Cliché II

April 28, 2017

UpShitCreek_final

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March 3, 2017

lemons_final

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What you need, what you want…

January 27, 2017

…and what your neighbors can afford…

This started out as a response to a post by an Angry Young Woman, which she posted to explain why she and many other AYWs marched the day after the inauguration, adding that they didn’t do it because Donald Trump won. Okay, “dog-licking-himself syndrome, then; kind of a just for the helluvit, seemed like a fun thing to do on a January afternoon sort of deal. Whatever the reason(s), and she mentioned a few, I couldn’t just let sleeping dogs lie, or lick, or whatever, so I’m putting my three cents worth in. To wit:

Whether you marched because Trump won or not is of little relevance, although since you brought it up, I suspect that it was a significant motivator. After all, President Trump did not walk up to the first podium and decide to take things away from you. Certain changes became highpoints of his campaign because your friends and neighbors and millions of people you never heard of wanted those changes. virtually everything you fear the loss of is paid for by somebody else, involuntarily in most cases. Clean water, clean air, and national parks are all valued by most Americans. As with any household budget though, we have to ask first: how much can I afford? We need transportation, but need alone does not provide a blank check for most of us to purchase luxury vehicles. Blank checks for many needs, and wants redefined as needs, have been handed out like Halloween treats for too long. Goosing up the national debt to pay for them doesn’t get nearly the blow-back that goosing up taxes instead would get. The “conservative” view says to put away the global credit card and get things under control; the “neo-liberal,” judgment is “damn the spending limits, full charge ahead!”

Healthcare: do we all deserve it? Of course we do. We deserve many things, but we will actually acquire or enjoy relatively few of them. Do we have a right to quality, affordable healthcare? Yes, but the questions are, what does that mean and how will we avail ourselves of it?

I retired from the local medical center after twenty five years, and I saw many things change over that time span. The institution was “self-insured” early on, and my expenses for care as an employee were reasonable but certainly not “free” just because I worked in a hospital. I could pick up prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy, and have the cost deducted incrementally from my paycheck. They weren’t cheap, but it was affordable. If I visited my physician, he billed my (supplementary) insurance company, and then he billed me for the difference. When I ended up hospitalized for three days in the mid-eighties with chest pain….eventually diagnosed as GERD…my bill was about $3, essentially for the TV in my room.

We are not a rich community, but the people did not go without care for lack of money. The hospital had a “charity care” program for those who could not pay. They still do, as a matter of fact, because enforced insurance or no, many people have unreasonable and unreachable “deductibles”, and therefore would go without if the community didn’t do as it has always done and find a way to get it done.

Family violence shelters and services deserve funding, of course, but if the people cannot afford to pay for the level of care recommended or desired, and if the country can’t afford to provide same without borrowing the money on the world market or snatching it out of the taxpayer’s wallet, then we have to find another way. We can.

You mentioned education, Rabbi, a topic close to my heart. But I don’t want bureaucrats and paid advocates deciding what our children should learn and how they should learn it. The elementary school I went to back in the fifties isn’t there anymore. It was one of those cavernous brick buildings with 14 ft. ceilings, stairways that echoed, and the playground was dust or mud, depending on the weather. But we learned. My late cousin was a brilliant man. Like his father, he went to MIT and became a Chemical Engineer. He stopped short of completing his PhD because he was too busy working.

I went to school with him one day when my family visited on an early summer vacation. My school had finished for the year. It was quite an experience. Believe it or not, it was a little one room schoolhouse! He eventually went to a prestigious private school on scholarship, the same way he went to MIT.

There were no federal rules, regulations, and mandates to follow beyond the fundamentals back then. If I had my druthers, we would dismantle the Department of Education. I think our teachers would be free to teach more, instead of connecting the dots, and I’d bet the kids would learn just fine.

Last but not least on your list, Rabbi, is the right to free speech, which you, and I, and those who marched on January 21 have all done and are doing. I believe it is in the best interests of our nation as it was conceived, and of the 325 million plus people now living here, to think about what we have been doing, think about the outcomes, and question how we might best proceed.

One thing is clear to me. We cannot continue to hold “need” as the primary justification for actions taken, and convenience for the manner in which they are taken.  

One thing that must change is the National Credit Card. I’ve torn up a couple in my lifetime and I’m still kicking. I trust our nation can do the same. It’s not a simple problem to resolve, of course, because it is not a single problem and they are not independent of each other. But we have to start. I’ve untangle some pretty nasty line snags over the years, but it never stopped me from fishing.

Another thing I have seen change over the years is the fragmenting of the sense of community, and the dissolution of the family unit as where and how we learn our values. Much of that is now defined and described on a bureaucratic or legislative level. Those are cold eyes through which to see the world, ones friends, neighbors, and family. While may seem rather philosophical in nature, I did major in the behavioral and social sciences, so I think about such things.

As federal programs and funding have been made available, people have come to problem-solve differently. Need is the new currency of acquisition, administered by countless bureaucracies and “government contractors’” the latter which is provide services that government will pay for. Too many of the “critical” needs, I fear, are identified at the polls.   And, you know, when the rumblings started about actually repealing the AFA, I was somewhat stunned but not particularly surprised that some of the first gasps of protest were about the jobs that would be lost!  Then it got down to the PR push about healthcare itself.

What it boils down to, is we have a society with a near-religious sense of entitlement. We have many things to which we feel we have a right, deserve, to which we believe we are entitled, with the caveat they will all be provided “free.” The problem is, these quantities are uniformly named, created, distributed, and paid for by the federal government. The federal; government does not pay for them, however, because the federal; government has no money and doesn’t produce any. The bills are paid through debt and by being confiscated in one way or another from us. You. Me.

That’s my take on it, Rabbi, and not surprisingly, “we” aren’t giving up easily, either.

Regards,
Jeffrey Marsh
Retired

By the way, opposing Trump or his policies with a winner take all mindset may serve political or personal goals, but that doesn’t mean it would be best for the country. I would suggest that the smart money will search for productive ways to work with his administration. This country wasn’t built only by folks on one side of the road, and it won’t survive if managed that way much longer.

JM

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Is there a “Plan-B”…?

January 23, 2017

themarch_001mount

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Regarding the “MORON”…

December 14, 2016

part of oxymoron and reason number 999 why I hate Facebook….

I don’t go looking for this stuff, honestly. It just seems to jump out of the bushes at me while I’m on the way to something else, like that goddamned Chihuahua that jumped out of a hedge line and sunk his miserable little teeth into my ankle back when I was in college. I tried to punt the snarling coprolite into the next county but he was too quick for me. The upside is that the little shit likely died fifty years ago.

But, I digress. I was talking about those off-the-wall websites and other waste products that some jerk I never met, sitting in an office thousands of miles from here, decides I really need to check out, join, or at least pay attention to so the referral source gets that fraction of a penny for a “hit.” Facebook is one of the worst for presuming the right to dwell in the global mind, heart, soul, and rectal orifice, and it was there that I was threatened with a web-group called…get this…”Libertarian Socialism.”

I’ve been trying to reconcile the use of the adjective “libertarian” in combination with “socialism”, but so far have failed. Perhaps it’s at an intellectual level beyond my reach, but I can’t get past the thought that “Libertarian socialism” has a bit of an oxymoronic ring to it, you know, sort of like “Celibate Prostitution.”

Of course, I had to check it out.

First of all, I have to say that the concept is real, in the sense that such a political philosophy has been around for a long time. I didn’t know that until I looked it up. Being given shelf space in some remote lexicon closet does not legitimize or validate the term, or any other, however. It merely acknowledges that the term had been coined and enjoys a reasonably stable definition, and is therefore, at least on that score, equal to any other “ism.”

That doesn’t belie my assessment, though. I stand by it. My first involvement with Libertarianism began many decades ago, whenever it was that I first read something by Ayn Rand, and later during the seventies when I registered as a Libertarian and voted for Ed Clark for President. My understanding has always been that “libertarian” referred to a concept of community that eschewed force in favor of volunteerism. Liberty.

Secondly, the first thing I encountered upon tiptoeing through the iron gate of the Libertarian Socialist page was the welcoming message:

“this is a place to discuss libertarian socialism. trolls, reactionaries, racists & race realists, etc. are not welcome. ableism, queerphobia, transphobia, misogyny and other forms of reactionary discrimination are not welcome. this includes libertarian capitalists/ancaps/right libertarians and so-called “anarcho” nationalists. violations of these rules may result in a ban, both for the person who does them and possibly the person who invited them to the group as well.

Here again, I was tripped up by my preconceptions regarding definition. I thought I had learned way back when that “socialism” was an economic idea based on social, society-wide, ownership and democratic control of the means of production. I’ve never liked it because it disenfranchises the individual in favor of mob rule over the utilization of one’s assets, and it depends upon force to maintain its form. Despite verbiage to the contrary, it does not represent liberty.

Obviously then, the philosophy of “libertarian socialism“, at least the form offered by the internet group in question, eschews liberty and freedom of speech in favor of an authoritarian, narrowly prescribed menu of permitted sub-philosophies of the newspeak variety. The only reason I could think of why someone would wish to “join” such a group would be (1) if they could be in charge, or (2) could be located near enough to the emperor’s ass to facilitate profitable sycophancy.

Sycophancy has never been my strong suit, however, due in part to an unfortunate lifelong bilateral Tourettes-like tic in my middle digits.

They (Faceplant, et al)really should let me window-shop for my own points of interest and curiosity.  Nine times out of ten while at the end of Mr. Zuckerberg’s tether and choke-collar I find myself misdirected to some flame hole or digital Rubber Room that lacks any compatibility with me or my vapor trail. Just because I spent 30 seconds on Tuesday, 1988 at the urinal next to a guy in a blue suit in the Boston airport does not justify non-stop ads for blue suits or job offers from American Standard…

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