Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category.

Absolute Nonsense (and a Blatant Lie)

Mitch McConnel (lying sack of shit) went before the media to tell us that the vote on the Senate Republican version of their new tax plan (actually it is to replace Obamacare, but it is really a tax cut plan for the wealthy) would be delayed until next week (or never).  He was then asked if he would be willing to work with Democrats and he indicated they were not interested.  This is the lying sack of shit part.  Since he hid it from even many Republicans until he released it, Democrats have not been given an opportunity to weigh in.

Okay, so reasonable people (or so I am told and this is the total nonsense part) asked why don’t Republicans and Democrats come together to fix Obamacare (See Harold Ford, moderate Democrat on MSNBC). There is no compromise possible and the reason is simple.  Remember when the VicLic told you he would replace it, it would cover more people, and would be cheaper?  Seen that yet?  It is not possible in a Republican world.  And here is the wakeup call.  THAT IS NOT WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT!  This bill is an attempt to reduce costs and repeal taxes on the wealthy so they can pass more tax cuts on to the wealthy using reconciliation (no 60 vote threshold).

So think about it this way:  Democrats want to at least cover those who are covered under Obamacare,  fix problems with firms dropping out of the exchanges, and reduce overall cost to consumers.  Republicans say that, but as noted above, their real goal is to get government out of healthcare.  So where in that would you compromise? There is no compromise and if the two parties did sit down to deal, it would be a Kabuki dance because what it would take to fix it is not in the Republican lexicon.

Democrats do need to present their own plan and it would be simple.  Keep Obamacare, reduce the age for Medicare in ten year increments say over the 20 years starting with 55 tomorrow, where there is a problem with lack of competition in the exchanges, offer a public option, negotiate prices for drugs, and continue the cost saving things in Obamacare without interference from Republicans.  Think the Republicans will go for any of that?  Of course not.  There is no negotiated fix.  When we end this nonsense about market place solutions and learn how to read a spreadsheet, the answer is clear, enroll more people to spread the risk, and reduce costs within the system.  The profit motive for insurance companies will do neither.

A Healthcare Question

  I read David Brooks this morning and he was trashing the “new” conservatives and the Republican healthcare plan.  He noted that while real conservatives have come to recognize economic inequality as a problem of our times, the new conservatives work only at the feet of their masters, the wealthy.  Then saying these new conservatives have ignored real conservatism and the ideas for a workable healthcare plan including universal healthcare, he says this:

Conservative income redistribution doesn’t look like liberal redistribution. Conservatives tend to like their redistribution done at the local level, and they like to use market-friendly mechanisms, like child tax credits, mobility vouchers and wage subsidies. But the intent is the same: to give those who are struggling more security and opportunity.

Conservative redistribution extends to health care. Over the past several years many plans have emerged from the various right-leaning thinking tanks that imagine consumer-driven health care that also has universal or near universal coverage.

These plans, from places like the American Enterprise Institute, use tax credits or pre-funded health savings accounts or some other method to give middle- and working-class people coverage, while reducing regulations and improving incentives throughout the system.

Okay, think about this.  “Conservatives tend to like their redistribution done at the local level …”.  How is that done at the local level? How do child tax credits, mobility vouchers and wage subsidies work at the local level?  And imagine the paper involved. On economic inequality the real problem are the rules on how the market place operates and our tax code.  Is the Sacramento City Council going to change that?

But on his healthcare argument, using tax credits or pre-funded health savings accounts or some other method sounds like another bureacratic nightmare and paper suffle to me.  How about we pay taxes and go to the doctor, end of story?  The question you have to ask in both cases for some kind of market driven redistribution at the local level and tax credits or pre-funded health savings accounts, is are we ignoring the simple solution to enforce some kind of conservative dogma about market places, small government, and people are lazy so things can’t be too easy, in many ways no less irrational than the “new” conservatives?

From my point of view as a retired project manager with Progressive leanings, this looks like twisting yourself into a pretzel when most solutions are much simpler if you could just bring yourself to see them.  I believe what we see here from David is the kettle calling the pot black.  New Republicans and old time conservatives are just as bound to their ideology with their only difference, old time conservatives might let reality peek in once in a while.  

The market place is a wonderful tool to create wealth, but it operates on a set of rules that favors the wealthy for wealth accumulation.  These rules are set by government.  To change the rules and still have the marketplace work its wonder while seeing to it that the benefits are more widely distributed, government, big government (the Feds) have to change the rules.  Conservatives like David now are starting to see the problem, but are still bound by their ideology to ignore the simple fixes.  Note, I did not say easy, I said simple.  But what I think you can now see from this little logical dissertation is that we have a long way to go before there will ever be consensus again.  Ideology blocks our view of reality and forces us to come up with amazingly complex ways of trying to fix simple problems.  

On healthcare, the analogy that comes to mind with Republicans is that you have a screw to connect two boards, but the only tool you have is a hammer, and it is not working out so well. Every time you try to drive the screw in by hitting it with the hammer, you split and destroy the boards.  Why not try a different tool?  Ideology stupid.

Monday and It’s Just Amazing How Far We Have Fallen

The numbers are out on the Senate’s Heathcare bill and only 22 million would lose healthcare.  See isn’t that so much better than the House Bill?  And the talking point is no one gets thrown off, they just don’t get added in the future.  Hmm.  We accept this? Forty economist including 4 Nobel laureates have sent a letter to Senator Mitchell in opposition.  Does it matter?  Once again this is really really simple.  If you want to cover everyone and lower costs you have to go to a single payer system where everyone is enrolled.  If you don’t really care who is covered, but you need to cut funding so you can fund tax cuts for the wealthy, go with the Senate plan.  How hard is that?  There are no middle ground solutions.  That is what Obamacare was and even then no Republican voted for it.  You can phase the single payer in over time, but sooner or later that is the answer. And note that if our healthcare costs were in line with other countries with better outcomes, it also would not be a problem to afford universal care.

Okay the Supremes has sung and they make no sense whatsoever.  First the ruling which was a partial removal of the stay on the immigration ban:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raises fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.
The court made an important exception: It said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

In the unsigned opinion, the court said that a foreign national who wants to visit or live with a family member would have such a relationship, and so would students from the designated countries — Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — who were admitted to a U.S. university.

Now remember when this was a temporary ban to protect us from bad guys from these countries that was urgently needed?  Remember when they said our vetting program was a mess.  Guess what?  With no ban, no terrorist attacts. Oh and on that vetting thing.  They were lying through there teeth as they have made negligible changes to the vetting program,  It was already severe.  I am kind of wondering what is the point?  This is not the threat.  Meanwhile behind no camera’s the White House is gloating.  I know why they turned off the cameras.  They did not want people to see the “deer in the headlights” look on Spicer or Sanders face when they got confronted with reality.

But I think we are seeing a Supreme Court that is on the edge of moving in to the realm of Dredd Scott (blacks were not American citizens), Korematsu (upheld the interment of the Japanese during WWII),  Plessy Ferguson (separate but equal is oakey dockey), and let’s not forget Gore v. Bush.  This Robert’s court is moving quickly into the realm of one of the worst courts in history, with Shelby County versus Holder (the eviseration of the civil rights protections), NIFB versus Sebilius (upheld Obamacare but let states out out of Medicaid which killed thousands of people), and let’s not forget Hobby Lobby or Citizens United.  And we don’t seem to bat an eye.  We are finally living out the conservative dream with a village idiot and liar as President while they erode all your rights.  

Yes we are entering very dangerous times as the press continues to try to legitimize a man and a party that should be an international disgrace.  Actually they are, just not here.

The Profit Motive

The incineration of Grenfell Tower in London and the death of 79 people gave us this wake up call if we want to hear it:

Flames consumed the tower so quickly that arriving firefighters wondered if they could even get inside. People trapped on the higher floors screamed for their lives through broken windows. At least 79 people died, a toll that is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered. Survivors have charged that the facade was installed to beautify their housing project for the benefit of wealthy neighbors.

A formal government inquiry into the fire has just begun. But interviews with tenants, industry executives and fire safety engineers point to a gross failure of government oversight, a refusal to heed warnings from inside Britain and around the world and a drive by successive governments from both major political parties to free businesses from the burden of safety regulations.

Promising to cut “red tape,” business-friendly politicians evidently judged that cost concerns outweighed the risks of allowing flammable materials to be used in facades. Builders in Britain were allowed to wrap residential apartment towers — perhaps several hundred of them — from top to bottom in highly flammable materials, a practice forbidden in the United States and many European countries. And companies did not hesitate to supply the British market.

Oh those burdensome government regulations, except when we need them.  Yes you can find rules that are unnecessary and burdensome, but on the whole, they come from valuing lives over profit.  So the next time you hear a Republican go off on the government or regulations, know it is a gross over generalization.  Sure we need smart government, but that means rules and regulations that puts people before profits.

Saturday Morning

Well we are approaching summer and just a couple days before the longest day of the year and then the days start to shorten again.  Kind of reminds you of life itself as you grow, stay up later and then at some point, it is never too early to call it a night. The VicLic is off to Camp David with his family which is probably the only thing saving us from a twitter storm and the firing of someone substantial.  My baseball team has taken to wins from the Yankees with another barn burner last night, and I still haven’t planted my tomatos but will get to it this weekend. Sunday is Father’s day and it should remind most of us males of the most important job we will ever do.

There are a couple of good reads this morning that might get you going:

  • The first is Brett Stephens, a conservative who wrote a tongue in cheek piece about mass deportation, pointing out that on his scale of productive, law bidding, and Christian people, you know, real Americans, immigrants score better than those of us who have been here for a while. Oh, those facts.
  • The second is a piece from Timothy Egan about the fact that France and Canada have elected young vivaceous leaders of the future while we have elected an old man with tired old failed ideas and are looking backwards
  • A study reported in the WaPo and CNN says that if you eat french fries more than twice a week, you are twice as likely to die younger.  Because I love french fries (although I rarely have them) all I can say is now I understand fake news.
  • The final one is from the editorial board of the WaPo explaining the reality of why Obamacare is failing, Republicans.

So I will leave you and go plant my garden with this.  As we claim we want to lower the level of rhetoric, Republicans lie to us about the basic unstable Obamacare that it is failing under its own weight.  Here is the WaPo on the real facts:

Another week, another insurance company deserting patients in a wide swath of the country. Last Tuesday, Anthem announced it would pull out of the Obamacare marketplace in Ohio, potentially leaving individual insurance-buyers in about a fifth of the state’s counties without Affordable Care Act coverage to purchase. 

The news came after insurers in various other states announced or threatened market exits or big rate hikes over the past several weeks.
Are these moves more evidence that Obamacare is fundamentally unworkable? Hardly. Of greedy insurance companies callously disregarding their customers’ health? Not that either. 

Anthem explained clearly what is responsible for its retreat: Republican sabotage of the health-care system.
The Trump administration has been serially unclear about whether it will keep funding a crucial subsidy program, known as cost-sharing reductions . Without them, insurers would have to jack up premiums to cover their costs or leave markets that would become deeply unprofitable to them. Just as experts and industry officials predicted, insurance companies have done both as the uncertainty about these subsidies has grown.

When one party reinvents reality to pass their agenda, how can you have a civil conversation with them.  It isn’t a difference of opinion.  It is a different reality where they lie to us to get their way.  Hard to respect that.

Under Investigation

So from five sources, the VicLic* is now officially under investigation for obstruction of justice.  No there was not a leaker, think about it.  If you start interviewing people some of them are going to talk about it.  I wonder how little Jeffy Sessions will do in front of a grand jury.  Now you know why the VicLic was wanting to fire Mueller.  He got wind of who he was interviewing and what questions he was asking.  Now once again, the special counsel could “indict” him through a grand jury, but that is as far as it goes unless Congress acts.  Again we are at the mercy of those Republicans salivating over their agenda.  Only when there is no longer any doubt will the rats (Republicans) start deserting the ship.

Will he do it, fire Mueller**?  I think he will.  Remember that obstruction of justice is really part of the cover up, not the original crime, or if you want, investigation, colluding with the Russians.  If there is an obstruction of justice there has to be a reason he was trying to obstruct it.  That finding, obstruction of justice, since it really exposes the existence of the greater crime is a bomb for the White House.  Now if there is obstruction of justice, and I have no problem saying there is, aides in the White House could be co-conspirators especially if they withhold information.

There is just too much there, there.  When was the last campaign filled with aides who were meeting with the Russians?  None.  Why deny and lie about it until you got caught in the lie.  Sessions couldn’t remember any of them.  Does that not give you pause?  The timing of the firing of Comey makes no sense unless it was about the investigation. Here is the deal as I see it, and it is not complicated.  It’s about the money.  The VicLic got money to back his projects when no one else would and all you have to do is look at the source.  In some cases it was simply loans from Russian banks who now have their hooks in him.  In some cases it was really laundering money for the Russians and others.  I don’t know this, but in many ways it has been hinted at many times.

Now when the VicLic had a shot at President, the Russians were all in.  I don’t think the VicLic was stupid enough to meet with the Russians or their finance guys, but his team did.  So they were looking at a deal, remove the sanctions (for their incursions into Eastern Europe and into our election) and they would open up more business opportunities, and not mention his earlier dealings (for now).  It was just a deal to them, not doing the Russian’s bidding.  So there was collusion or so I believe.  I also believe, although with no facts to support it, that there was coordination on the leaks and fake news.  See the VicLic’s loose lips during the campaign encouraging the Russians to hack Hillary.

So, the fire is breaking out from the smoke and my guess is the next move is the firing of Mueller.  Then we see what the Republicans are really made of.  I think they will only desert their dreamed for agenda when they realize all that is left is to save their own skins.  We will see.

Oh, I would like to add one more thought.  If the VicLic really wants to get this behind him so he can work on his agenda, why aren’t they working on it now?  Nothing in the investigation is keeping them.  All we have is a secret repeal and replace Obamacare plan in the Senate because they are not foolish enough to vote for the one out of the House, and a repeal of Dodd-Frank out of the House that will also have real problems in the Senate.  Where are the jobs bills?  Where are the infrastructure plan?  Where is the Tax Reform Bill?  What is holding that up?  It isn’t the investigation.

*VicLic -Village Idiot/Liar in Chief

**Not the VicLic cannot fire Mueller, but he can order the Deputy Attorney General to do it, and when he refuses, fire him. It will be just a matter of time before he finds someone who will do itl

A Sniveling Liar

I admit it.  I was playing golf this morning and missed the early hearing, but what I saw should disturb everyone.  Could not remember, not to my recollection, and can’t answer that because of executive privilege (which he cannot claim).  What I got was the Southern slow talk walk, run the clock out, answer another question, not the question asked.  It will come back to haunt him, thankfully.

Meanwhile most Republicans either wanted to change the subject to leakers or find alternate scenarios for Sessions behavior.  It was almost like they had planned out their questions with him.  I would think that we have a very serious problem and we would all be working to get answers and instead the Republicans continue to circle the wagons.  We should have a special investigative panel installed so we can end the crap.

But the thing we ought to focus on is this refusal to answer a question because it was a privileged communication with the President is a whole new alledged exemption to telling the story.  Only the president can claim executive privilege and he did not.  Sessions, and Coates and Rogers before him, are basically telling Congress that all conversations with the President are off-limits because someday he might claim it or has the right to claim it.  Does Congress really want that to stand?  Either the President asserts executive privilege and takes responsibility for having his lackeys not answer questions  or not, but his minions can’t do it for him.

Even if you are much less biased than I am, if you watch what is going on, Sessions telling us (and he is on the security council) that there have been no Russian incursion briefings in the White House, they are trying to cover something up.  It is now approaching screamingly obvious.  Hopefully if Mueller lasts, we will get to the bottom of it.  If he doesn’t, at that point even I take to the streets.

How the Arts Inform Us

Since it is Tony time, I thought I would write something about the Arts, visual mostly.  I have not seen a play in a while and I pine for live theater.  My bad. But there are two things I have seen recently that I found to be masterpieces, even if the critics did not.  The first is the Bernie Maddoff movie, Wizard of Lies, with a great performance by Robert de Niro.

I found this movie riveting on the human condition and our need to believe what we want to believe.  Oh, you could focus on the fact that regulators ignored complaints about Bernie and his impossible returns, but that would be to ignore what the movie was really all about, our greed and need to believe what we need to believe.

You could start with de Niro’s depiction of Bernie who went over the line, got trapped over the line, and then just accepted it, and turned it into the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. Maybe he was a sociopath.  He never seemed overly concerned about his victims and in fact (and there is some truth to this), blamed them for putting all their money in his fund.  He was just trying to met their expectations. When it all fell apart, he indicated that no one was to worry, they had all been taken care of. Some how none of this was really his fault.  Remember the collapse of Wall Street in 2007.  None of it was their fault either.

You could focus on his sons who believed their father was a god to be lived up to and the betrayal they felt when the impossible was quite really impossible.  Should they have known?  Did they know?  Not according to the movie and it was the ultimate betrayal between father and sons.  They all paid dearly, one son with a suicide, the other of death by cancer, and the father a life in prison and no one to visit him.  Asking should they have known is to not understand the deep psychology between all fathers and sons, and sons measuring themselves by their perceived father’s deeds (for better or worse).

You could focus on the wife and whether she knew.  In the movie she clearly did not, and the man she thought she married was now alien to her.  The great Bernie, man of intellect and integrity who would take care of everything and always came through (there is a Trump analogy in here) turned out to a lie.  She was lost.  Her life was Bernie and Bernie providing for her.  One could ask, maybe that is too much to ask.  Her life was about glitz, social whirl, and her sons.  But in the end she was left with none of that.  Was she too an innocent victim? Hmm.

Finally there were his investors who Bernie blamed for expecting too much and not spreading around their investments as he claims to have advised them.  From the Jew in LA who was responsible for the Holocaust museum there, who put his entire wealth in Bernie’s trust because he was a Jew who understood the importance of his work and would do the right thing, to the spinster who was left penniless, none of them ever really questioned the rate of return that was so above anyone elses.  They just wanted to believe in Bernie and not ask any questions.  Again the Trump analogy.  Trump promised his followers he would make America great again, but never ever told them how. “He is a successful business man.”

So yes Bernie destroyed many of them and sent them penniless into old age, but did their greed (they got into Bernie’s fund and the hell with everyone else) and need to believe someone else would take care of them play an important part? Did they also have some responsibility for losing their fortunes?  We look to government to protect us from the Bernies of the world and this is where we become quite hypocritical, we  also want government out of our lives.

The movie bears watching several times because in there are all our human foibles.  There was the master manipulator who believed his own lies, and in the end, believed it was not really his fault.  There was his family and his investors who needed someone to believe in and take care of them and he gave them that. And there was a government that saw all the signs of fraud and did nothing because these were rich and powerful people and who wanted to rock the boat until the economy crashed.  Finally there were the lynch mobs demanding a pound of flesh and to hold someone responsible when some mirror gazing might suffice.  It is our times.

The other movie was the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast which I watched last night with she who must not be mentioned here.  I love live musicals, but TV/movie versions usually do not cut it for me.  This was not true in this case.  The music was so integral to the story telling that unlike many musicals where it seems they just find an excuse to sing, the music was part of the story.  And it was just beautifully delivered.  The villain, Gaston, had such a deep beautiful voice, it was hard to hate him.  They all had wonderful musical talent.

The other thing that just floored you was the beauty of the artwork, costuming, and scenery.  Certainly this will be an Oscar contender for production design, visual effects, and cinematography.  It is rare when I watch the credits for 10 full minutes because the artwork in the background was so breathtaking. And then there was just the story which was a fairy tale I know, but with some real lessons about love and acceptance.  It was just good fun where the good guy, and an important lesson finally wins out and everyone lives happily ever after.

But as I was commenting on how much fun and how beautiful it was, she who must not be mentioned here noted that there were protests about this movie.  Say what?  Apparently there were those who were “tired of Hollywood shoving their values down their throats” of good Southern Christians.  There were some gay characters in some fairly innocuous scenes, just a nod to diversity of the human condition and nothing overt. Ah, good Southern values.

I am thinking WTF!  Did they not get the story line of a girl who could love a cloven footed beast and they are upset about allusions to possible gay characters?  That love should transcend outward appearances and is our one true emotion that should not be judged was lost on them.

I guess I could say don’t read the Bible and not get nonsense from sand people of the past rammed down your throat, except nonsense is in the eye of the beholder, and isn’t that the point of good literature, to expose you to the human condition and other ideas?  Is there an amazing hypocrisy here that says movies must only meet Southern Christian values and claiming the other guy is ramming their values down your throat?  Whose values are getting rammed now?

So I will leave you with this thought:  We climbed out of the slime and over the millennia and have evolved today to say the world is a wonderous and diverse place where we should accept that diversity and be tolerant of others, not define away diversity.  If our evolved self is to now define what is acceptable diversity in the human condition when that diversity does not harm us, then we need to climb back into the slime.  Home sweet home.  TTFN.

Danger Zone

This has nothing to do with curent events or politics, but the frailty of my being, my mortality specifically.  The other day I decided to start wearing my old dog tags again.  But I had lost my original dog tags a long time ago.  So I had replicas made.  And then I decided to update them a little and get them in Sterling Silver since they were replicas anyway.  That was a task in itself.  Most jewelry makers don’t get the idea of left justified text in landscape on an actual sized dog tag.  I even had to find a different purveyor for the ball chain because they all wanted to send me some foo foo chain. But anyway I finally managed to put it together. 

Now, if I had my original ones, I would have just worn them as is or had them coated.  Gold is a little ostentatious for me, but silver would have been fine.  But I don’t have them, so I have my replica sterling silver bling jewlery around my neck and you may now want to ask, what for?  The answer is because in my little mind I am back in the danger zone again and for some very strange reason, they comfort me, maybe because the last time I was here, they were part of who I was. Their jangle just seems right.  Let me explain.

Back in the day, I was a back seater in an RF-4C.  It was a two seater jet fighter (no weapons, just cameras).  It was my dream to fly airplanes, but I had bad eyes.  I got to be in the backseat on a waiver to get into navigator training.  You go through a lot of training, navigation, aircraft systems, three different survival schools (basic, water, jungle), and of course your craftwork, navigating the beast to the targets and getting the pictures while avoiding defenses.  But each step was another step to get as close as I could to my dream.  Finally, you are a certified combat crewmember, dog tabs to prove it, and you fly every day, and lucky for me, I got a ton of stick time (flying the aircraft). The backseater might have to bring it home one day if the pilot is incapacitated. I even got fairly good at backseat refueling.

Now flying in one of those beasts is in itself a little dangerous.  A high performance fighter is not very forgiving. The job itself was dangerous, low level high speed flying, and that was in peace time.  The proof was the only life insurance I could get was a subsidized program from the government.  Then I went to war.  Now my time there was not particularly dangerous.  But you did strap on two jet engines most days and fly into an area where they would like nothing better than make you walk home if you were lucky enough to be able to walk home. Now I will get to the point.  Was I a big brave combat crewmember?  Nope.  None of us were.  In today’s mostly make believe world of TV and movies, bravery is badly misunderstood,

Bravery for most of us is just putting on our boots every day and doing the job.  Emergency responders, firemen/women or policemen/women don’t think about the danger most of the time.  They just do the job, and they do the job because they want to. When most people react spontaneously at some emergency and do something really brave, it was not a decision to be brave or hide.  It was just something that had to be done. That does not mean you don’t have your moments that hit you like a ton of bricks, but that is usually after.  

When I came back from Vietnam (Thailand really), I was assigned to B-52’s, a new profession and a long couple of years of training, and then you are back at it, just in a different airplane, no stick time, and nuclear weapons. This time if you go to war, it is to end civilization as we know it.  There were several crashes during my B-52 days and there was this nagging feeling that after 11 years, maybe I was running out of luck.  There had been plenty of close calls. So I left the service and the danger zone, took off my flight suit and my dog tags, and became a civilian again, family, mortgage, and 8 to 5.

So how am I back in the danger zone now?  I have metastasized prostate cancer.  It is at bay right now but sooner or later it will take control.  One can easily say that being alive is a danger zone because each day is “a day off the tour” in the tour of life.  The difference is you don’t face your mortality every day. But when you get that sentence you have been dreading and you know your time is limited and that limit is unknown, it focuses you back in the danger zone.  Every day now cannot be taken for granted. Is this my last summer, trip, whatever?  In all the stupid and dangerous things I did in airplanes, I always had my dog tags, and somehow we got through it.  They were proof of surviving. Their jangling is a reminder I am still here. Nobody was pulling them off my neck to determine who these body parts belonged to.  So now I feel I need them again.  It’s like pulling on your boots and doing the job. They worked out last time fairly well, so just hang them around your neck and get on with it.

So when you see an old white guy with some bling dog tab jewelry, he is not advertising that he is a vet or even wants any attention.  He just wants to feel young and part of the fight again, who could live forever, pretending he could spit in the face of death.  Not rational I know, but some of my most endearing qualities and some of the best things I have ever done were not rational.  Now that my mortality is once again very real, I got my dog tags on and I am back in the struggle, like pulling on your boots and going about your job. Same guy, same service number, same blood type, and still with no religious preference, but moving slower and my knees hurt.  So it is just comforting.  I have been here before and the outcome was just as unknown.  Somehow wearing dog tags just seems right.


Trump America

I was having a lovely day wine tasting when the ignorance and stupidity of Trump America raised its ugly head.  I was sitting sipping some wine outside a lovely winery when an acquaintance sat down next to me so we chit chatted for a few minutes and it turns out he has worked for a firm or with a firm I consult for.  I mentioned the Request for Proposal for the prototype border wall, and he launch into maybe we won’t need it since it would seem Trump’s rhetoric had scared many away and they would not be going to school tuition free and stealing our tax dollars.  Now none of that is true and is easily fact-checked on the web if you go to reliable sources.  But their minds are not up for changing.  Facts, real facts do not matter.

There are loans dedicated to undocumented immigrants to help them, but understand who we are talking about, Dreamers.  These are kids who know no other home and they just want to productive Americans.  Again a little work on the internet and you can educate yourself, but they just want to believe somebody is getting a better deal than they are.  They want to hate.

I tried to change the direction by saying what we really need is an immigration system where workers (especially farm workers) can come into the country fairly simply and leave again.  He stated that was already the system we have and they just need to get their green cards an we would have no problem in the fields.  I said that was not the case .  He lives in a different world than I do.

My point is simple.  We live with people who actually believe that somehow immigrants are stealing from them.  Somehow they were not getting their fair share and immigrants are the root of our problem, getting some kind of free ride..  And facts or the gray areas just don’t make any difference.  That is the Trump America we live in.  It is so much easier to blame someone who is different, than to see the humanity in their striving.  And in good Christian America, we are slapping the hand reaching out for help.