What in the Hell is happening to my country?

For almost four years I have watched this country being dragged, kicking and screaming on one side and cheering and vitriol on the other, going to hell in a hand basket at an alarming rate.  Ever since Mr. Trump announced his run for the presidency, he has been tearing this country apart, piece by piece.  It is not only Mr. Trump, but also a number of States who are also destroying the fabric of this great nation.

Whatever happened to one person – one vote?  A number of our states have been in the act of covertly suppressing the vote of their citizens, while others have been overtly, no not only overtly but blatantly, carrying out their plan.  Georgia, Kansas and North Dakota are prime examples of this.  It is not one person – one vote they object to, it is the person on the other end of the voting device they want to change.  If you are brown, black, Asian or native American then you are not qualified.  Only people who are white are qualified to vote and if those in power can maneuver it they will also eliminate those whites who do not own property.

Do you think I am joking?  How do you explain that in Georgia the Secretary of State, who is also running for Governor, has refused to process over 53,000 voter registrations.  It is estimated that of that 53,000 over 70% are African American.  Mr. Kemp, the Secretary of State, has said that they do not qualify under the states exact match law.  How can you tell when you are using amateurs to do the work of professionals.

Kansas, another state where the Secretary of State is also running for Governor, has been purging the rolls because someone has not voted in the last two election cycles, or they did not cancel their registration when they moved from one state to another.  It is not like a drivers license that you exchange the old license for a new one from your new state.

Now in North Dakota if you are Native American and the only address you have ever had is a Post Office Box and now you can not vote because you do not have a physical residential address.

Mr. Trump has, ever since his announcement to run, denigrated anyone of color he thinks is not American enough.  He says that a judge, born in the United States of Hispanic parents, is not American enough to handle a trial that involved Mr. Trump.  Or the black NFL Players who take a knee during the National Anthem to protest the shootings of people of color, by police.

Mr. Trump keeps screaming “Make America Great Again” or “MAGA”.  When did America lose its greatness?  Oh yeah, when white men, mostly it is the men but there are some women included, who found out that the privileges they thought were theirs alone really belonged to everyone.  But as long as you have the leader of a major political party screaming that the Dems are only mobs, who want to open our southern border allowing into our country, drug dealers, rapists, murderers, and freeloaders to further tear it down, you will continue to have a divided country.

Recently, during an interview Mr. Trump was asked about a speech he made in Mississippi and his remarks about a woman who testified at a Senate hearing.  When pressed about his comments his reply was “Who cares, we won”.  Is that what this is all about – who wins and who loses?

Campaigns have always been nasty, bare knuckle brawls, but in the end the competitors shake hands and go about their life until the next campaign.  That was pretty much how it was until the campaign of 2016 and now the campaign of 2018.  The bare knuckle brawls have turned into real hate filled battles.  Is it because there are more women running for office, or more people of color?  Hard to say for sure, but I believe there is something about these two elements that have angered white males and their feelings of lost empowerment.

The Republicans can scream and call Representative Nancy Pelosi all the names in the book, but she is not the all powerful Goddess or Satan that they keep trying to make her out to be and the Democrats are not out to destroy this country.  Our love of country is as strong as ever and the more you try to tear us down, call us names and try to belittle us, that love of country becomes even stronger.  Many of us have served our country with pride and distinction and we do not like being called or held up to be traitors.  We will fight you with everything we have, legally and fairly.  We may not win every battle, but beware we will, sure as hell, win the war.

Do we really want him?


Dr. Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate Judicial Committee hearing

Ever since Thursday, I have felt unsettled about the circus of the Senate Judicial Committee.  When Dr. Blasey Ford testified before the committee she was concise and straight forward while showing emotion she was able to maintain her composure and communicate what had happened to her 36 years ago.  The Republican Senators felt that they should not question her and used a prosecutor from Arizona, this was probably a wise idea.  Even though the prosecutor used questions from the republican senators, I felt she really helped Dr. Blasey Ford rather than hurt her.

Judge Kavanaugh
Judge Kavanaugh testifying before the Senate Judicuary Committee

When Judge Kavanaugh came in and started his opening statement with all the yelling and crying, I felt outrage that anyone, particularly a Judge, would come into a room and treat Senators, Republican or Democrat, in such a manner.  He was out of line and he should have been removed from the hearing until he could compose himself.  Unfortunately, he was not and the American people got to see what his temperament really is.

The Republicans, after getting rid of the prosecutor, threw softball questions at Judge Kavanaugh.  I do not blame them for doing this, after all he is their man and they want him on the bench.  But when he was questioned by the Democrats he was belligerent and combative.  At one point he asked one senator, over and over, if she had ever blacked out after drinking too much and to another senator he admitted that he liked beer and proceeded to question the senator if he liked beer and what kind of beer he liked.

I do not know exactly how many times Judge Kavanaugh said “beer”, “he drank beer”, and “he liked beer” during his testimony, but it seemed excessive. It has been my experience that when a person talks about drinking and how much they like alcohol, that person has a problem with alcohol.

Now the proceedings have stopped and the issue of Judge Kavanaugh’s drinking and sexual exploits have been given over to the FBI.  As we all know, and Senator Grassley made it clear, over and over again, that the FBI does not make recommendations or come to conclusions, but they do gather the facts and give those facts to a higher authority to analyze for use by the committee.

Whether or not the FBI finds more information about Judge Kavanaugh’s drinking and sexual exploits, I feel that he should not be confirmed as an Associate Supreme Court Justice.  By his own actions and temperament, he has deemed himself ineligible to be placed on the Supreme Court.     

Father’s Day 2018

Today is Father’s Day, first I would like to wish all the men who are fathers, or who have accepted the role as a father and have touched the life of someone in need of a fatherly touch, a very happy Father’s Day.

My father died in 1992 at 69 years just three short years after my mother’s death.  I loved my dad, but I did not always like him.  Dad was not always a loving man, he was an authoritarian in many ways and he ruled in that way.  But dad was a dreamer.  He was always going to start his own business or get a pick up with a camper and we would do a lot of traveling and camping.  None of these things ever took place, but we heard about them all the same.

What did I learn from all this?  I learned how to be a realist.  Oh, that does not mean I did not have my own dreams.  Some have come to pass and others have gone to the wayside.  Whatever my dreams were I knew when to drop the pie in the sky dreams and concentrate on the ones that were realistic.  People talk about the optimist and pessimist.  You know the one that goes “The optimist sees the glass as half full and the pessimist sees the glass as half empty.”  No one ever thinks about how the realist sees the glass, he sees it neither half full nor half empty, he just knows that someone must wash and put the glass away after it is finally empty.

I had dreamed at one time, that after I retired, Kathy and I would go back to Europe traveling around and finally renting a small villa in an Italian village, where we could shop in the local market, learn some Italian and relax, using the villa as a home base traveling the country, enjoying the good life.  After I finally retired Kathy said that she really did not want to do all that traveling.  Then she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease that caused me to realize that this was not a dream I would realize.

One dream that did come to pass, was when my daughter asked me to go with her to Hawaii after she had graduated from College.  Kathy and I had promised that when she finished school we would send her to Hawaii as our present for graduation.  She did not want to go alone and she did not have any close friends to ask.  I had longed to go back to Hawaii, after a brief stop in 1970, as part of the long journey to Vietnam.  My dream came true and Lara and I had time that many fathers wished they had had with their daughter(s).

Now I temper my dreams with a stiff shot of realism.  It does not stop the dreaming or the desire to do something.  It just reminds me that there are dreams and there are realities and my realities must take priority over the dreams.

Today I received two beautiful cards, one from my wife with a very special message that only a wife and mother can give to a father and husband, the other from my daughter, her card is very special to me, it is one of those cards that is placed in a very special place in the heart and displayed for a very long time.

Finally, I want to thank Dad for giving me the gift of dreaming, but also the greater gift of realizing when dreams must end.  It is not easy to make that decision when a dream ends, but it is worth every moment of dreaming and finally setting them aside.

 

Gains and Tribulations

Recently I wrote about losses.  Losses are hard on the spirit and relationships, but we need the losses to learn how to appreciate the gains we also experience in our lives.

About 11 months ago we lost a family member who had only been with us for a year.  Chloe was a sweet little girl, but as the cancer started to take hold she was becoming more aggressive towards people other than Kathy and I.  It was a big loss for us because it was a loss of two dogs in two years.  We said that was the end of it we were not going to get another dog.

Well you know how decisions such as these go.  During the last year I would go on the local websites and look at the dogs, getting my puppy fix I would say.  Then some weeks ago when I clicked on the Oregon Humane Societies (OHS) website there waIMG_0487s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, not one but two.  They came from the same family but they were not siblings.  I showed the pictures to Kathy and she fell for the female, we decided that we would try for one of them. I was up early the next morning and found myself fifth in line.  When I got to the desk I learned that someone had already put a hold on the male and I was the first to put a hold on the female named Kiki.

After visiting with her I went back to the desk and placed a formal hold on Kiki.  Kathy had an appointment at noon, after which we proceeded to OHS for Kathy to visit and evaluate Kiki.  As soon as Kiki walked into the room she engaged with Kathy immediately.  The longer we were in the visiting room the closer they were getting.  We decided that we would adopt this little girl. First thing was to change the name from Kiki to Katie, she has responded to the change like a champ.

The first night we were taken a back, we were told in the information given to us that she was house broken.  We took them at their word, big mistake.  She peed and pooped in several places in the living room and hallway.  We know that she was kenneled a great amount of time and to have that much freedom all at once was probably too much.  The next day we got a kennel which she loves and utilizes a lot, we keep the door open during the day and closed at night.

Each day Katie’s bond with us is stronger and stronger.  She wants to be with us as much as possible.  Being only 22 months she is fully grown, but she still has quite a bit of puppy left.  It is a joy for us to see her playing with her toys.  Cavalier King Charles are known for their character, boy can she be a character.  With her presence and playfulness Kathy has perked up and is more of her old self.

Kathy’s nurse practitioner is writing a letter for Katie to be an emotional companion dog.  I’m hoping that we get it soon.

When I take Katie out for her walk and we pass the garage door she stops and waits for me to open it, or if she sees the car parked in the lot she heads straight for it ready to get in.  Somehow she has become a great enthusiast to riding in the car.  She would ride all day if we gave her the chance.

Something I had never considered before was, do dogs have a preference to which side they prefer?  In other words which hand or paw are they?  All of our other dogs we think were right-handed.  Before we give them their meal we have them do some tricks, one is to turn in circles, all our dogs have always turned clockwise but not Katie she turns counter-clockwise.  When we come in from a walk she will run in circles, always to the left, while I am getting the door open.

We encourage her to run in our apartment, wearing herself out and making us laugh.  After all this running she is ready to settle down with Kathy on the couch.  Most of the time she lays down on the pillows above Kathy’s head, on top of her or at her feet.

Katie is fitting in just nicely.  We look forward to many years of fun ahead.

More than I will ever know

This last Sunday was Pentecost, while the choir was singing, two little girls started dancing in the center aisle.  They were certainly in the groove, these girls could not have been more that three years old, but they sure liked the feel of the music.  Those little girls were not alone, many of the adults were feeling the rhythm of the music and was allowing it to carry them along with the spirit.

While watching the girls dance I was reminded of a song I sang a few years ago in the church we were then attending.  It was a song made popular by Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World”.  The third verse in the song came to mind as I watched those girls dance.  The verse goes like this – “I see babies crying, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know, and I think to myself what a wonderful world”.

Remembering that verse caused me to start thinking about all the things that I have learned or more importantly seen developed during the past 69 years.  I remember when television first came to Portland, it broadcast on channel 27 with the call letters of KPTV, it was the first commercial station in the US to broadcast in the UHF band, later they changed over to the VHF band and channel 12.  I also remember when KWG – 8, KOIN – 6, KATU – 2 and the educational channel that would later become KOPB – 10  signed on in Portland.

I remember the US testing atomic and later hydrogen and plutonium bombs just to stay ahead of the Soviets.  Testing was first out in the middle the Pacific Ocean but later moved inland to the Nevada Proving Ground test site 65 miles north of Las Vegas.  I have seen pictures and movies of people who lived in Las Vegas sitting in their living rooms or in hotel rooms watching the mushroom cloud develop those many miles away.

How many remember the big 2, 3 and four prop engine airliners before the advent of jet airliners.  Four big, bulky jet engines propelled the planes though the sky, then smaller planes with two or three jet engines were developed.  Then came the giant of the passenger planes, the 747 with four massive engines, double decker, this behemoth could fly nonstop from New York to Tokyo Japan, now smaller planes can fly the same distances.

The Soviets beat us into outer space, they placed Sputnik 1, the first manmade satellite into space, causing many in our government great embarrassment.  The US then put our own satellite into space Explorer 1.  I recall we would lay in the grass on warm summer nights and watch for the satellites to pass overhead as they reflected the sun. We were the first put man into orbit and on the moon, Later we teamed up with the Soviet Union and build and maintained the International Space Station.

Talking about space and satellites, we now have satellites that beam to us radio and  television programs, and internet data.  The military uses satellites for many missions that save the lives of our service personnel.  Drones also are used to deliver munitions to areas not accessible to regular aircraft, and to gather and disseminate information on the battlefield.

The Century 21 Exposition (also known as the Seattle World’s Fair) in 1962 showed us new things that would be coming in the next century.  Many of those things became available during the remaining years of the 20th century, and many more that were not imagined also came to life.  A prime example is the computer, in 1962 a computer took up large rooms requiring vast amounts of air conditioning.  Now they are on our desks, on our laps and hips in the form of laptops and cell phones. They have even tried to put them in our eyeglasses.  Computers may be on our desks and in our phones, but they have not moved out the of air conditioned rooms, now they are called servers, small computers chained together and serve as the cloud to store vast amounts of information that can be retrieved anytime.  Computers are networked together to share information, can you imagine getting along without email, the World Wide Web or social media?

Computers are not only in businesses and our homes, but also in our cars and trucks, they track where we go, how far we have gone, how long it took to get there, the speed, braking time, fuel mileage and a host of other information unbeknown to us.   After an accident the police and insurance companies can download the information to help in the reconstruction of the accident.  Cars are now being developed to drive themselves.

Medicine has come a long, long way.  Remember when the only imaging machine was the X-Ray?  Now we have the CT (Computed tomography) the MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging), and the PET (Position emission tomography).  All of these machines new in the past 69 years.  Cancer is more treatable now, and heart disease, according to NIH (National Institute of Health),  has decreased 75% since early 1960’s.

Now imagine all the things these little girls and all the boys and girls will be seeing and learning about that have not been imagined.  We can only guess at what these youngsters will see in their life time.  Maybe it will be colonizing the moon, or Mars, or even further.  How about going to the store or work in self flying cars like in the cartoon of the 60’s the Jetson’s.  The future is in their hands, they will be the ones, both boys and girls, to forge ahead and make the unimaginable. 

Losses

 

Elephant costume jewelry
Elephant costume jewelry

Have you ever had a loss?  Losses come in many shapes and sizes, also

Grandmother's wedding ring
Grandma’s wedding ring

emotional and unemotional.  Take for example the loss of a piece of costume jewelry, it is not something that has any great intrinsic value and probably little emotional value. But if it were your grandmothers wedding ring and it were lost or stolen then the value increases greatly both intrinsically and emotionally.  Everything has its own worth, large or small.

 

2008-08-24 12.20.07
Scamp

Almost three years ago, Scamp my miniature Schnauzer, died after a

IMG_E0392
Chloe

severe stroke, and last year we lost Chloe, another schnauzer, to cancer.  We had Scamp for almost 13 years and Chloe for only one.  We were devastated over the loss of both dogs even though we only had Chloe a year, she had become part of the family and burrowed herself deep into our hearts.

'57 Chevy
’57 Chevrolet

Cars are sometimes as big a loss just like the loss of a pet.  According to one insurance company ad on TV we are so close to our cars that we name them and if we have an accident and it is totaled, we are depressed beyond measure, then when the insurance company pays for a car that is newer you break out into your happy dance.  Really, you must kidding.  I have had cars I really liked but never to the point that it was a love affair.

Some people are that way about their houses or the possessions in them.  When we sold our house 11.5 years ago there were some nostalgic feels I had when we left, it is only normal, it is not like losing a pet or a loved one.  Within just a few months we were settled into our new home and had pretty much forgotten about the old house.  but if that loss is the result of a fire or a violent storm would that change how I woud feel? More than likely I would be devastated, the loss of everything that Kathy and I have worked for over these many years and the memories they represent.

But these losses are trivial compared to the loss of someone you love. The physical death of someone is devastating at the monent and the feeling of hurt will last a short time and turn into a mild ache coupled with the memories that will last a lifetime.  What about the loss of a loved one, not by death or divorce, but by an illness.  It is a toughter loss than can be imagined.

2012-07-21 12.32.05
Enjoying a trip to Crater Lake.

My wife, Kathy, has Parkinson’s disease, it is hard to feel the loss when she is right here.  Her walking has slowed, balance is an issue we can overcome with a walker.  Sometines cognitive issues have come up and has caused friction between us, it is not like losing someone to dementia or Alzheimer Disease.  We get irritated with each other, but that is because we are around each other a lot more now that we have entered in that part of life call retirement.  Because of the changes that my wife has gone througth I now do more things around the house, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry, making beds, doing the dishes after meals.  And then there are the doctor’s appointments and since she no longer drives I take her to all of her appointments.  Someone told me not long ago, they having recently lost their loved one, that it was like losing your loved one twice, once to the disease and again when the loved one passes on their rewards.

I had hoped that the two of us would be able to do some traveling and visit places that

New Year Celebration Anywhere
Illumination by fireworks

we had never seen or do again things that we had done in the past, but that is not going to happen.  If I want to see or do something, I have to plan it for the times that I take for respite care.  This does not mean that my wife and I can not go places and take some time to enjoy ourselves, it is just not very often. For example, this July we are going to the Oregon Gardens in Silverton to see the 4th of July celebration. Can you imagine seeing the Gardens lit by the exploding rockets?  It should be spectactular.

Ainsworth UCCLosses like these are what you make of them.  They can be devastating and overwhelming or with a lot of love and support it can be rewarding.  Support comes in many varities, your church (if you have one) can be a great resource, disease related support groups, your city/county may have programs to help with care while you are taking respite time, organizations that you belong to (Masons, Elks, Eagles) might also be able to help.  While on respite ensure that your loved one has plenty of stimulation, lonelyness can turn into depression which can lead into much tougher issues.  Some places, like here in Oregon, have organizations that support particualar diseases or illnesses, ours is Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon

Masonic Square and Compass
The Masons
BPOE_logo
Elks Lodge

And for goodness sake take care of yourself, be involved with activities that will help you relieve the pressures that build up.  If necessary get yourself a therapist, this a great way of blowing off steam without judgment.  Many therapist have tools to help you cope with loved ones suffering from diseases or illnesses that may or may not linger on for years.

 

When? When did it happen?

For close to eight (8) years the Republicans have been telling us how bad the Affordable Care Act (ACA or also known as Obamacare) is and how it is exploding and going under.  Really!  Well tell that to the millions of Americans that did not have healthcare before the ACA and do now.  Tell that to those who because of Pre-existing conditions were denied coverage, even for having acne as a teenager, or to the women who gave birth and were then denied coverage because of pregnancies.  How about those who were not denied but because of the amount the insurance companies charged effectively denied them coverage.

Insurance companies really do not want to provide anyone coverage unless they are young and healthy and have never been sick or injured in their life, other than minor ailments.  That effectively eliminates a lot of folks.  There are a few ways to get around this – 1) is to be covered under an employer’s healthcare plan, 2) join the military (they have great coverage), 3) (this goes with #2) go to war, get injured and be covered by the VA (great benefit and care, but not everybody qualifies and this is probably the least desirable way to become eligible).  Now what are Health Insurance Companies, really?  They do not see patients, nor do they prescribe medications, do surgery or any other form of medical procedure.  They are bankers, they move money around, they collect your premium, pay themselves an incredibly high salary, then they nickle and dime the doctors and hospitals to accept lower payments for a procedure.  Even worse are those (especially doctors) who are not in NETWORK, boy do they get the shaft.

Now the Republicans in the Senate (and later in the House) plan to vote on a Repeal and Replace bill before the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2017).  So what does this new bill do?  It will allow insurance companies complete control over who will or will not be covered.  Over the next several years it will eliminate Federal Medicaid, coverage that millions of our citizens (especially children) need and turn it over to the state who will decide what to use the funds for.  It will change how states will receive Medicaid funds by changing them into block grants.  It also changes the formulation that affects distribution of funds to the states.  Under the ACA states were encouraged to expand Medicaid, the federal government would pay 100% the first three years and 90% thereafter.  Some so called blue states including California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington, to name a few, will be penalized for following the rules and expanding their Medicaid programs.  So called red states such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and others will benefit because they decided not to expand Medicaid.  Because California and New York are such large states and they had the audacity to expand Medicaid and they will not be allowed to go to a single payer health care system.

This bill, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), will eliminate millions of our citizens from being able to afford, let alone qualify, for health insurance.  What does this really mean?  It means that people are going to DIE.  Die because they could not afford to see a doctor or if they do see a doctor it will be at an emergency room where we, who are insured, will eventually pay the costs.

Now to answer the question “When did it happen?”  I believe that we really started this downhill slide to this point of our country’s history in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan told us “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  I have always found this statement to be absolutely absurd.  Why you might ask, because under our form of government WE are the government.  We ask people, that we think that we can trust, to represent us, therefore a representative type of government.  The more you ridicule and distrust those who are elected only means that you ridicule and distrust yourself.  If they pass laws that are contrary to what you want, it only means that you were not paying attention and keeping your elected officials in check.

How do we stop this madness?  How do we regain control over our government?  It is by taking charge and stop being so cynical.  Step up and declare yourself to be a candidate for an office.  It does not matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican as long as you do the job with honesty and integrity.  Run for office be it for dog catcher, for a position on the school board, or any number of offices that can use a fresh face and new ideas that help rather than hurt our fellow citizens.  After a couple of years at this level try running for the city or county council, from here and at high levels of office, you have an impact on state and federal legislation and regulatory decisions.  If you are young enough, and age is not necessarily an obstacle,  step up to state offices, positions in the State legislature, House and Senate (most are part-time positions and in some states your regular job, by law, must be held for you), are just as powerful and rewarding as on the Federal level.

On the Federal level positions in the US House of Representatives and the Senate are not as plentiful, but this is prestige and strut time.  This is where you make a name for yourself, by being a leader or a follower.  It is what some people want, they like the cheers, the music, the glad-handing, and the speeches.  This is where the big boys and girls live, work and play, many will not have the stomach for such high power living and others seek even more.

Okay, are you in – as a voter or as a candidate?  But most importantly be an active, charged up citizen that is ready to take on the idea that – if you are from the government and you are ready help – it is not used in a negative way.  We are Americans, we stand up and take charge and do what is right.  Let us stop sitting on our hands and continue to gripe about how the government is no good and they do not listen to the people.  You and your fellow citizens can and must join together to change this country to again be caring and compassionate.