Hard Choices

Hard ChoicesI’m about halfway through Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton[1], having finished her Living History[2] not long ago, and I’m impressed not only with her experience and thought processes, but with her writing as well. She gives each event personal as well as diplomatic importance without leaving the reader with the sense that it was all about her. In terms of the diplomatic, she spoke in as much detail about her successes in Living Historyvarious parts of Arabia and elsewhere in the world as of her frustrations attempting to broker an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a sad saga of bad timing and external pressures. Though possibly it shouldn’t have, her descriptions of the old city of Sanaa, Yemen surprised me with its similarity to the Old City in Jerusalem even in regards to the clothes worn by both the Arab and Jewish women.

Even before reading her books, I could not understand why people would believe the picture conservative painted of her. I don’t understand why reasonable people persist in freezing at the wall of skew, exaggeration, and downright lies about Secretary Clinton. Like all of us, she’s made mistakes. Still, she takes responsibility for her own human fallibility, a stark departure from her sworn opponents who blame her and President Obama for some of their own more unconscionable actions.

Infrastructure JobsThe prime example, the attack on the US facilities in Benghazi, that resulted in four deaths, has been a cause celebre for Republicans who want to malign the President and Secretary. Though the 2012 tragedy in Benghazi was a direct result of acts of congressional austerity committed long before Obama took office and had already resulted in thirteen attacks on American embassies during which sixty people died[3]. Senate Republicans had thirteen opportunities to reconsider the cuts in the State Department’s security budget even before it could have occurred to them that Hillary Clinton would have to face those choices. And at every opportunity, they chose to ignore their mistake.

To me, admitting and learning from one’s mistakes is a strength too many politicians refuse to cultivate and the implication by one politician that it’s Clinton’s weakness rather than one of her Cost of trying to kill ACCmany strengths is almost laughable, given the number of mistakes he and his party have made and let go unchallenged. Still, partisan efforts continue to smear her with innuendo and unconstitutional leaks before the evidence has had a chance to be vetted. Not learning from this mistake by a Republican led congress has cost at least $7,000,000[4] (most of which could have been better spent rebuilding roads and not cutting human services) and the lives of sixty-four Americans (at a conservative estimate.)
email
Wikileaks, though already shown to have misrepresented some of the content of those now infamous emails[5], continues to release more documents in tantalizing bundles. Has no one heard of “chain of evidence”? Wikileaks has already proven themselves to be unreliable.

My cousin, a long time conservative, thinks I hate all Republicans and blame them for everything that goes wrong. Frankly, I used to be a Republican when, as it turns out, being Republican did not mean being a neoliberal, anti-union, self-serving obstructionist. When I was — what? — seven-years-old, I would have voted for President Eisenhower. I liked Ike. Today, I’m also having a load of trouble with (at least) one Democratic mayor who’s screwing with teachers as if he were a Republican. No, it’s not Republicans, but the pretenders to sane political thought and process that gall me.

Republicans in congress have spent millions of dollars of public money — not trying to nail HRC — but trying to make her look bad enough that die-hard conservatives and overly idealistic progressives will distrust her — despite reports of nonpartisan fact-checkers that state she has more integrity than most of those in national politics. According to Politico, she tells the truth 73% of the time[6] compared to her opponent Pants on Firelying 70% of the time[7], and all the fact-checkers say the FBI has exonerated her of wrongdoing in the ridiculously inflated email scandal.[8] And, worse, Republicans continue to accuse her of being responsible for the deaths in Benghazi. Even the quality of their untruths differ. According to the Detroit Free Press, “Clinton’s untruths occur with way less frequency, and many fall more naturally into the category of embellishment or distortion rather than outright lie.” [9]

Perhaps the Benghazi noise is just their way of distracting us from republican “austerity” cuts which injured not just the State Department’s security budget,  but Medicare and Medicaid as well. Republicans blame that on the Democrats too. They’ve done such a good job of brainwashing the voters who have much to fear from Republican policies concerning wages and other aspects of the economy that some of their followers are champing at the bit to start another costly investigation into why Clinton and President Obama were not in the Oval office on 9/11.[10] May I respectfully suggest to them that it was because then sitting President George W. Bush hadn’t invited them.

The military solution is usually a disaster as in Viet Nam all those years ago. No one has ever successfully explained to me why we were a) fighting an undeclared war, and, even more demoralizing, b) fighting someone else’s battle when the Viet Namese civilians made it clear, almost daily, they didn’t want us there. However, as Clinton points out, a well-trained military like ours can be the best choice, no matter how hard, in a case like getting bin Laden.      

I won’t get into whose vacuum opened up a space for ISIS and ISIL to pour out — even though their first appearance was before President Obama took office — yet the Republicans blame them on the stalwart team of Obama and Clinton. Still, what I’m most interested in are the cases in which soft diplomacy (people talking) succeed, cases in which human beings interact. Specifically instances like Burma and Pakistan when human rights and democracy prevail, soft diplomacy was vital to the resolution when hard diplomacy (military action) could have easily ended in disaster.

What surprises me most about Hard Choices, is that diplomacy is not primarily a formulaic, even formal process with the detailed and precise language of treaties and other international papers. Perhaps it once was, but now it seems that, in most cases, it’s two or more human beings getting together in myriad types of settings learning how to communicate. Sometimes, the more tense situations require the repetition of specific, clear wording, but those seem to be limited to the more frustrating difficulties.

Human interaction is still the best path avoiding the military solution. Films with battles and bloodshed may seem more interesting than biographies or quiet histories, but the focus on successful human communication teaches us about ourselves and how we can be better people. Even before reading her books, I could see that the false image of Hillary Rodham Clinton projected by frightened Republicans and other conservatives with a lot to lose from a progressive government did us all an injustice. It doesn’t fit with the true image of her service: standing up for women all over the world, helping them find economic and personal autonomy; standing up for first responders and for her imperiled state of New York after 9/11; all the way back to when she personally went from school to school rooting out systemic racism. And probably even before that. None of this fits the picture of her conservatives have drawn in their own image propagated within their politics of selfishness. 

HRCAfter all of this, can the rift between conservatives and progressives be healed? As I read Clinton’s books and discuss them, I think we need to adopt the soft diplomacy approach. In describing those highly effective, informal diplomatic conversations — human beings getting together in myriad types of settings  — Secretary Clinton may have designed a way to bring the country together after the bitter conflagration of the 2016 election.

Human Rights Commission

“Women’s rights are human rights . . . ”
hear the whole speech at: http://tinyurl.com/ClintonHumanRightsSpeechMP3

Notes:
[1]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17727276-hard-choices?ac=1&from_search=true
[2]http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56073.Living_History?ac=1&from_search=true
[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Benghazi_attack
[4]https://www.quora.com/How-much-money-has-the-U-S-Congress-and-Senate-spent-investigating-Hillary-Clinton-and-what-has-the-country-gained-from-these-investigations
[5]http://www.newsweek.com/vladimir-putin-sidney-blumenthal-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-benghazi-sputnik-508635
[6]www.politifact.com
[7]www.politifact.com
[8]http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/05/fbi-director-james-comey-has-concluded-the-investigation-into-clintons-emails.html
[9]http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/opinion/sunday/clintons-fibs-vs-trumps-huge-lies.html?_r=0
[10]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_l4zi4p9WI&t=54s This video has been edited, no longer showing the interviewer pressing the supporter about his concern that Obama and Clinton were not in the oval office on 9/11. When asked straight out if he wanted an investigation, he said yes, he most certainly did.

Media Credits
Secretary of State portrait and at the 1995 UN Conference on Women in Beijing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton
Pants on Fire truth-o-meter: http://wwwpolitifact.com
Infrastructure Jobs: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/
email: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What Are You Afraid Of?

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was adopted, having been ratified by three-fourths of the states.

A lot has been said about the second amendment – much of it willfully misinterpreted so that any lunatic or terrorist can acquire a gun, or multiple guns, to use at will. Whatever it’s called, the gun of choice for terrorists and mass murderers was created specifically for the purpose of killing as many humans as possible in the shortest possible time. To allow those weapons off the battlefield is just wrong.

stg44-large

Neither the first or second amendment implies or avers the right to practice one’s religion with a gun. Anyone questioning that assertion should be kept as far away from weaponry as possible. Nor does either amendment imply any purpose for automatic weapons, which didn’t exist in those days (except possibly weapons from ancient times that cannot be reasonably considered convenient for anything but testing on the Mythbusters.) Far be it from me to tell the military how to run its business. However, it seems logical, if we’re going to teach people how to kill efficiently, we shouldn’t be surprised if they carry that behavior off the battlefield. Still, clearly, when warfare must happen, those stateside would be much better off if those weapons were only on loan for a soldier’s tour of the battlefield.

As if all of that was not distressing enough, the misrepresentations and distortions of both the First and Second Amendments are shouted over any disagreement. Free speech has been stretched beyond its limits. No longer the purview of callers into talk radio, thisScared_Child_at_Nighttime disgraceful practice has spilled over onto the floor of Congress: The 2016 Republican senate refused to do its constitutional duty to interview a nominee for the Supreme Court. The same politicians lie about women, Muslims, and people of color, and think it’s an effective use of our tax dollars to harass a White House hopeful and humiliate the head of the FBI. Another presidential candidate wrote a book called The Art of the Deal in which he says openly that if you tell a lie three times your prospect will believe it, then you go in for the kill by appealing to their fears.

PinocchioFox News has no compunction about spreading “pants on fire” lies 60% of the time[1]. A Republican senator said openly that congress would focus not on governing, but on making sure the Democratic president could not do his job. A plethora of Republican governors have lowered taxes on the rich and found their venue bankrupt. If the 2016 Republican presidential nominee and 40th President of the United States are any indications the way around deficits is to purchase goods and services and default on the payments. Moreover on June 30, 2014, in an effort to legitimize a previous, misrepresented ruling that corporations are people[2], a benighted Supreme Court of the United States ruled that money is a function of Free Speech.

corporatepeople
Republicans and conservative economists continue claiming cutting taxes for the rich is key to full employment, wealth for the masses, government flush with money, and a robust economy. In fact, Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback and the Republican legislature were so confident that slashing safety nets, cutting education, and spending a budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich would produce an economic bonanza, they gave the wealthy well over a billion dollars in unfunded tax cuts that starved the state’s economy of revenue. [3]

How does making education less available improve job prospects? Especially for good jobs. And how does preventing voters from entering the voting booth support Free Speech? Certainly, one U. S. political party is seriously confused on what Free Speech looks like:

Senator John Lewis and his Democratic collegues sit-in for Gun Control.

Senator John Lewis and his Democratic colleagues’ sit-in for Gun Control.

Worst of all is the wall of words used in congress to prevent a discussion of gun control on the floor of the senate after the abomination in Orlando. This process in which walls of words, like noxious gas, vomited out in an effort to silence rational response is much too similar to rape to be acceptable. The response was devastating, again proving that quiet voices speak the loudest.

Kuhn on shaky voice

Why

Click to see “Why Gun Laws Need to Change” video on “The Other 98%” Facebook page.

——
[1]http://www.mintpressnews.com/pants-on-fire-analysis-shows-60-of-fox-news-factsare-
really-lies/205563/ 787
[2]Hartmann, Thom. Unequal Protection: How corporations became “people” and how you can fight back. San Francisco, CA: Barrett Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2010.
[3]http://www.politicususa.com/2014/07/28/kansas-bankrupt-republicans-lying-taxcutting-reason.html

Media Credits:
Pinocchio – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie
Scared Child -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scared_Child_at_Nighttime.jpg
Corporate Personhood – https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/occupy-santaclara-corporate-personhood-reconsidered
Ids – http://imgur.com/gallery/MzoNfof
Sit-in for Gun Control – http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/22/politics/john-lewis-sit-in-gunviolence/
Gray Pather Maggie Kuhn – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/151926
Why Gun Laws Need to be Changed – The Other 98% – https://www.facebook.com/TheOther98/videos/1358714637472844/

Posted in constitution, economy, ethics, Free Speech, guns, hobgoblins, politics, powerlessness, violence | 3 Comments

Sanity?

The 2016 Republican Platform[1], the social solutions would legitimize the indefensible act of bullying of women, blacks, the LGBTQ, party_republicanand Muslims. Modern Republican behavior reflects bullying too, and their reliance on it. After the Orlando massacre of June 20, 2016, Republican Senate leaders bullied the minority by shouting them down to avoid a discussion of gun control. And to describe their mode of operations as “Rebirth of Constitutional Government,” as per one of the headings in the platform is particularly laughable given their refusal to do their constitutional duty regarding the SCOTUS nominee. In fact, all of the headings and subheadings in this platform are belied by the actions of some of the high profile Republican office holders over the last eight years. Though the platform is written to give the impression their plans are meant to benefit everyone, it’s hard to believe their ultimate actions would be designed to aid the lower and middle classes, when so many Republican-led states have been forced into bankruptcy and their assets sold off by policies of the very politicians given responsibility for the safety of all citizens.

Modern Republican economic protocols are depressing. Their rhetoric tells us some fairy tale about the benefits that will trickle down to benefit everyone in every class. In fact, almost every Republican action in this century and the latter half of the last one has been aimed at strengthening corporations and enriching billionaires. And the most damning thing about Republican, neoliberal economics is that they bring the whole country closer and closer to bankruptcy. The Cambridge English dictionary defines neoliberal as “supporting a large amount of freedom for markets, with little government control or spending, and low taxes.” Merriam-Webster online and Dictionary.com it only relates to liberals. However, as liberals don’t buy that philosophy, it’s a commonplace misconception. The latter two online sources also define Keynesian (see proper definition below) with wording more appropriate to neoliberal. It just sounds like someone is trying to confuse the issue.

Of the rise of neoliberalism, which goes back to the 1930s, Susan George, wrote in a paper to the Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World, Bangkok, in 1999: “In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today’s standard neo-liberal [sic] toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage [. . . ] or sent off to the insane asylum.
At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian[2], a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist. The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection–such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time.[3].”
1956_platform_meme

As late as 1956, Republicans supported workers and unions. Politifact said the meme about what they fought for in that election cycle was generally true. Even President Reagan once said that freedom could not survive without collective bargaining. It’s sad to see how far they’ve strayed.”[4]

Hooverville

Hooverville home to the homeless in of the 1930s.

CoolidgeThe stock market crash of 1929, which sparked the Great Depression happened late in the term of Republican President Calvin Coolidge a “pro-business conservative who favored tax cuts and limited government spending.”[6] The next president Republican HooverHerbert Hoover didn’t take The Depression seriously at first, and then made it worse by continuing to ignore it and foisting responsibility on states rather than investing any of the federal government’s resources to balance the economy.[7]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal put people back tFDRo work, and supported the middle and lower classes. By the time I came into the world, white people and a few others had reclaimed confidence in their own economic situation, and were buying homes and investing in the economy as consumers.

History

As lifestyles became more about excess, the economy began to drop. President JimmyCarterCarter used the zero-based budgeting to reign in government spending. His conservative administrative methods began a slow rise in the economy; it wasn’t fast enough.

In the late 20th Century, Republican Ronald Reagan used his party’s Reagansupply-side tactics which gave a moderate increase in employment, but increased homelessness to a point that we saw more living openly in the streets, shockingly reminiscent of the Great Depression. In his two terms, as President, Reagan cut the budgets of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (by 40%), the Department of Commerce (by 32%), the Department of Agriculture (by 24%), the Department of Education (by 19%)[8] When Reagan took office in 1981, the federal debt was down to $994 billion and had grown to $2.9 trillion by the time his second term ended in 1989.[8]

debtchart
His deregulation, continued by his successors, allowed banks and Wall Street to scam and connive, again weakening the middle class, and worsening the situation in the lowest classes. In my lifetime, Republicans have consistently tried to diddle the middle class while screaming at the evils of Communism. Yet, an article on Quora.com said, though it’s only one of two reasons, “Communism is usually a response by the poor and oppressed when poverty and oppression reach a breaking point.” In other words, the distribution of wealth has been used by the wealthy (in the case of Russia, the Czars’ family) against the lower class, to the point where the middle class no longer functions as a buffer between the upper and lower classes.”[9] Still, the Republicans gouge the middle class.

ClintonDemocrat Bill Clinton is credited by Forbes as having the best record on the economy of all the presidents from Nixon to Bush “Clinton’s two terms in office (1993-2001) were marked by strong numbers for gross domestic product (GDP) and employment growth and especially for deficit reduction. His overall ranking puts him first among the ten postwar presidents ahead of Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy, and Reagan, who were tightly grouped behind the 42nd president . . . .”[10]

Though generalizations are limiting, it’s reasonable to state that from the mid-Twentieth Century to date, the Republican party has tanked the economy and Democrats pulled it out of jeopardy. Yet the Republican party continues its rape of the federal and local economies.

The rise of neoliberalism, in terms of public opinion, a Gallup Poll published around the time of the Forbes article (7-20-2004) indicated “that Americans rank John F. Kennedy  slightly ahead of FDR, and both of them ahead of Reagan.” While it may be a preference of the majority for Progressive philosophy, more likely, the majority of citizens define a booming economy as one in which more people are buoyed by it.

Today it is more than the economy that’s at stake. However, the Republican nominee has chosen to lay out few specific plans ― let alone a practical course of action for the economy. A sane candidate would feel hampered by a party platform that does not address many practical issues. However, it is designed to vilify while simultaneously appearing to alleviate the fears of those they’re trying to scare. For example, like the Republican’s North Carolina bathroom law[11], which was touted as protection from transgender “predators” in public bathrooms. However, the true purpose, stated in the second part, was to prevent local governments from raising the minimum wage or pass laws to increase safety for minors in the workplace. As they’d hoped, that part went virtually unnoticed until it was too late.

In the presidential race, the Republican nominee has effectively vomited out his own lack of platform, and done his little monkey dance to distract from the Democratic nominee who has articulated specific plans that would add to President Obama’s improvements in jobs and the economy. (The economy has added more than nine million jobs, and the jobless rate has dropped to below the historical median.”[12]). One would hope that the more public tantrums he forced on us, the less likely we would have to worry about the Republican platform. However, the reality is, we’re stuck with something significantly worse than what was promised.
Pyramid_of_Capitalist_System

      Notes

1 https://prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/neoliberal
2 “Keynesian economists often argue that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes which require active policy responses by the public sector, in particular, monetary policy actions by the central bank and fiscal policy actions by the government, in order to stabilize output over the business cycle.” Quoted in Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics) from Sullivan, Arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-063085-3.
A Short History of Neo-liberalism: Twenty Years of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities for Structural Change by Susan George, Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World Bangkok, 24-26 March 1999. http://www.globalexchange.org/resources/econ101/neoliberalismhis
4http://shoqvalue.com/ronald-reagan-where-collective-bargaining-is-forbidden-freedom-is-lost/
5http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/calvin-coolidge
6http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/new-deal/resources/herbert-hoover-great-depression-and-new-deal-1931%E2%80%931933
7Veronique de Rugy, “President Reagan, Champion Budget-Cutter,” American Institute for Public Policy Research website, June 9, 2004.
8https://www.quora.com/What-factors-political-social-and-economic-led-to-the-rise-and-spread-of-Communism-in-Asia
9http://www.forbes.co10m/2004/07/20/cx_da_0720presidents.html
10http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v0.pdf
11http://www.factcheck.org/2016/01/obamas-numbers-january-2016-update/

    Photo Credits

Republican logo: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0881985.html
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/oct/28/facebook-posts/viral-meme-says-1956-republican-platform-was-prett/
Calvin Coolidge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_Coolidge
Herbert Hoover: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter
http://www.facebook.com/TheOther98/photos/a.115969958413991.17486.114517875225866/1768348576509446/?type=3
Debt chart: https://www.quora.com/What-factors-political-social-and-economic-led-to-the-rise-and-spread-of-Communism-in-AsiaHooverville: http://hoovervillehistory.tripod.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton
Pyramid of the Capitalist System:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pyramid_of_Capitalist_System_-_bulgarian.jpg

Posted in debate, economy, ethics, politics, proper response, Supreme Court | 2 Comments

Gingy

Gingy
I’m missing Gingy something awful! Her gentle eyes and smile, they way she danced around when anticipating a treat belying her sixteen years which would be 75, 85, or 95 human years — depending on which website you consult — I even miss the way she’d fuss in the car.

From the beginning, the firing up of the engine would prompt whimpering and her Beagle-like warble which continued until we reached our destination. On the way home, I would notice how calm she was, as if anticipating being back in her bailiwick. The last three car trips she took, that behavior was reversed. It wasn’t until it was all over that I realized it probably meant she was aware her time was limited.

When she came to me, she’d spent a week or two in the hospital directly from a long time in the “wild.” The quotes reflect the animal communicator’s assertion that some of that time was spent as a guest in someone’s backyard. Still, she was found wandering around the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago in a dazed condition. My friend Carol saw a woman carry her off the railroad tracks, but poor Gingy staggered into the busy street. Carol ran out and picked her up. She found the woman and asked if she wanted to take her, but being on the way to work she couldn’t. Carol took her to her vet and sprang for medical and dental attention for the abscess that had worn through her cheek. Given her seven cats, Carol couldn’t take her home so she uploaded Gingy’s beautiful mug to Facebook.

As the name in the microchip was something that could be taken as insulting, Carol asked me what I wanted to call her. I told her I’d have to think about it. I stared at her face and its gentleness which reminded me of my mother. Though I wondered about the propriety of naming a pet after a parent, I couldn’t give up the opportunity to sing “G-I-N-G-Y. G-I-N-G-Y. G-I-N-G-Y. And Gingy was her name-o” for someone other than my departed Mom.

Lucky me! About a week before my home was ready, Gingy came to me: cataracts, arthritis, heart condition, reported deafness, sweet disposition, gentle eyes, beautiful face, radiant smile and all!

When she’d had a moment to get used to her surroundings, we drove her, whimpering and warbling to the natural pet store and, of course, the staff was taken by her. We stopped at a drug store on the way home and picked up a big blue pillow for her bed.

She trotted around her new home, passing the pillow once before stopping to regard it, then climbing up and falling asleep. Boy, did I wish I had a camera! The first of many times. Another happy surprise, I clapped my hands once and she turned around. So much for being deaf. We suspect she learned to ignore certain noises while living on the street.

She came to live with me in February of a particularly cold winter. Getting her out in the snow was nearly impossible. In our whole six months together, I only saw her relieve herself outdoors once. The rug was nearly carpeted with training pads, but she still managed to christen the carpet in between the 1.5′ squares. Why not? I suspect while I was treating her for hitting the pad, she seemed to take it that her good fortune was for the bodily functions themselves. As time went on, Gingy drank more and more water. I thought perhaps, she was training me to give her more treats.

As we got to know each other better and the weather became less brutal, her life was filled with treats and massage. Even in good weather, she seemed to prefer to stand at the open balcony door and watch life go by. She got out occasionally, but still with a reluctance that made me less inclined to force her out. I’d feel the same if I’d been homeless as long as she had been.

Homeless, apparently, did not mean starving. Everyone kept telling me she was overweight and I needed to feed her less. I wasn’t feeding her so much that it seemed an issue. Although, I was making her hamburger or chicken to put on her prescription dog food. She rarely finished the dog food, usually only if it were laced with powdered probiotic and prebiotic. Or if I had to be out for a long time.

She particularly liked beef and chicken. Wellness has “Petite Treats” at four calories a pop. Most of them have ginger or spearmint, and hardly smell like dog food at all. With her lost teeth, she wasn’t eager to chew a lot of the crunchy treats, but she ate them with relish for the fowl. However, as time went on, she appreciated them more.

The second time we saw one of the vets at the local hospital, she took me aside and said when she’d first seen Gingy she’d though we’d only have a few weeks at best. At that second meeting, she saw Gingy’s new found energy and revised the prognosis. She thought she’d have several months — maybe even nearly a year.

As Carol said, we always knew it would be a short gig. The reason she’d rushed to bring us together was she wanted her to have a quality life at the end. Over our six months together, Gingy flourished for five months. Then in July, she began to fade rapidly. As long as she relished her treats and meals I steeled myself to her uncooperative hips and periodic breathing issues. Even when I’d rush her to the vet for issues I did not need to worry about, her problems were adding up.

In the second to last week of July, one of the vets decided to x-ray her chest because of the cough they’d attributed to her heart issues. The black spots on her lungs might have indicated an infection, heart failure, or cancer; so they sent us home with an antibiotic, a heart medication, and something else — I forgot what it was for immediately. Though we were told to come back in three or four days, there were too many emergencies in this summer of dog flu. We couldn’t get an appointment until a week later. On the last Thursday of July, the vet confirmed it was cancer, but could not say whether the lungs were the primary site or it had metastasized from somewhere else.

Now, the vet said, all we could do was spoil her until her quality of life was gone. She could even OD on the beef Joint Rescue treats ( without being hurt by too much glucosamine condroitin.

That night, for the second time in our life together, her stool looked suspiciously dark and in the morning there was fresh blood. I called the vet. Though she said they had meds that would fix the symptom, I postulated that, being the second time, her colon may have been the primary site of the cancer. Add to that how much trouble she was having getting her back legs to stand and stay up, it was probably time. Besides, I’d seen people go through cancer and enough was enough. She made an appointment for us the following day.

Other than beef treats and hamburger meals, she hesitated over food, if she took it at all. So, on the rare occasion she came over for a treat or a forehead massage, I’d either give her the Joint Rescue or make her hamburger and rice. By breakfast time, she was leaving more hamburger in her dish.

One of the women from the office brought me papers to sign and said for $100.00 more (I’d asked about prices) I could take her ashes home after cremation. Not my style.

Carol and her husband drove up from South Shore and my friend and neighbor Tammy, who works with Adopt-a-Pet, met us there. Gingy was never alone and from the moment we left the house. She was surrounded by loving friends as the tech tried twice to insert the IV before succeeding on the third try.

When the attending vet came in, she hugged me. I said, I knew it was late in the game, but if she wanted to talk me out of it, I’d listen. She said it was the right decision, the time had come, and I was disappointed.

Then, having learned I’d never been through it before. She explained what would happen. In a three shot procedure, she would be sedated and fall asleep. Then, the doctor would inject a saline solution. That was the only time a needle touched me. I had moved my hand to cup Gingy’s cheek.

By the third injection, my dear girl was snoring. I took it as a sign she was aware of four sets of hands on her — even of the five sets of weeping eyes. My forehead had been touching hers since the first shot. Despite her aging, dry nose that she had scratched raw over the months, refusing all attempts to coat it with petroleum jelly, she could smell my skin and breath. I don’t know whether she could hear at all by then, or if she’d just learned serenity in the face of scary noises, but I sang to her one last time: “G-I-N-G-Y.”

With the overdose of anesthesia, her tongue dangled between her teeth and she was no longer snoring. We continued to pet her and kiss her. The vet hugged me again and presented me with the plaster cast they’d taken of her paw while I was otherwise distracted. All the blankets, bowls and dog beds Adopt-a-Pet had lent me went back, but I kept Gingy’s collar, wrapping it around her paw print which I put in my parent’s breakfront where it is near me while I work.

GubGt7

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What Make Car Does Your Android Drive?

I’m sick of debating my conservative friends. Not that any I know are fundamental crackpots. They are good people with intelligence, and some have warm, generous natures. They just don’t get it.

Case in point: one of my friends, a man of intelligence and sagacity, comments on my Facebook page taking delight in contradicting nearly every political opinion I hold. After a year or so of fencing, I’ve come to the point that I don’t want to deal with him anymore. Recently, I shared a cartoon in which in 1954 UAW president Walter Reuther was touring the new Ford motor plant in Cleveland. A company official could not contain his delight that his was the most automated factory ever built. Reuther replied. “How are you going to get them [the robots] to buy Fords?”
Fore-reuther
My friend commented that “by lowered prices [on the cars] and it worked.” It occurs to me that, even if Ford gave its products away, the robots would have no use for the automobiles. Maybe it was the semi-ambiguous nature of the cartoon, or he just didn’t get that Reuther was walking about the robots, not the customers.

I think Ford and my friend are unclear on the purpose of unions. Workers have not risked their lives and welfare simply to buy their employers’ products. Nor did they do so just to steal profits from them. Initially, they did it because working 12 or more hours a day for a pittance barely put food on the table, let alone a car in the garage. They did it because their health was being assaulted by overwork, inadequate rest, and unsafe working conditions. They did it, and continue to do it, to be treated like human beings.

Investopedia defines a “blue collar” worker as “a working-class person historically defined by hourly rates of pay and manual labor. A blue collar worker refers to the fact that most manual laborers at the turn of the century wore blue shirts, which could hold a little dirt around the collar without standing out.” Another identifying factor is that to work a blue collar job, you don’t need a college degree. In the second half of the twentieth century, that didn’t mean you hadn’t worked hard and incurred debt to achieve an advanced degree — it only meant that your job did not require the knowledge or skill acquired in college. Unions were invented by people in blue collar occupations.
AlfredPalmerwelder1
While compensation and working conditions have been the main topics of negotiation, the bottom line has been the workers’ demand to be treated like human beings and the insistence of employers on treating them like automatons.

Around the 1960s, I started hearing customers complaining about how customer service was a thing of the past, but it took a very long time for industry to see how the dehumanization of front line workers was having a negative effect on purchasing patterns. It took an even longer time for someone to notice (or at least care about) the interconnection of industries. Still, the interest is limited to the disastrous effect the gutting of the fossil fuel industry would have on the auto industry or how the failure of the auto industry would impact the auto parts industry, rather than how the status of the workers affects the industry, or even how the welfare of the consumer base is affected by anything.
Automated_online_assistant
Suddenly, someone came up with profit-sharing. While for some it didn’t put food on the table or send an eighteen-year-old to state college, it was a step in the right direction, admitting that an employee with a stake in the company worked harder for its success. Sharing the load.
Wall_Street_-_New_York_Stock_Exchange
When we share the work and the responsibility we get more done, but some employers gutted that axiom by getting rid of full-time employment, giving one job to two decompensated employees. A step backward in the same spirit as using what became known as “corporate welfare” monies to declare bonus for the bosses rather train workers or hire new ones.

So a hungry, trapped workforce, bound to hard-to-find or simply inadequate jobs which barely scratches the economic surface, is a scared and exhausted workforce. And a scared, exhausted workforce is not the way to build a strong electorate or a strong country.

Yes, I realize the modern union is quite different from the original unions and that some unions are headed up by people liberals wouldn’t vote for. However, considering what some financial institutions did after deregulation (stealing homes from the elderly for example,) it wouldn’t surprise me if, in the absence of all unions, workers found themselves back in the 19th Century.
sweatshop
The national pastime has become dividing voters rather than bringing us together. Some pundits shout loud enough at us that many believe what happens in every bed in the world affects our way of life. Scratching off the scabs of racism then wondering how anyone could be so sick as to murder nine people at pray.

So blue-collar and low-income conservatives take up the anti-union banner and many other causes which I think may be in conflict with their own interests. Even when our chief best interest is to be treated like human beings.

I doubt my friend actually believes that business people conspired to have their business concerns granted legal personhood so they could act more humanely. However, I’m relatively certain he doesn’t realize that just the opposite is true.

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My New Baby

For those of you who missed the announcement on Facebook, I’m a new mommy to fifteen-year-old Gingy. As you can see she’s gorgeous, and the intelligence in her eyes doesn’t lie! My friend Carol found her wandering near the train station in Hyde Park about seventeen days ago. She’s mostly deaf and has cataracts, arthritis, and a couple of other age-related issues, but she’s as spunky as a puppy. For that alone, I named her Gingy after my mom.

Gingy

We’ve had our adjustment issues. Between my arthritis and her confusion, she’s been peeing and pooping on my rug, shunning puppy pads, yet continues to enjoy our short walks on the relief plan that has served her all her young years, she still has more to do when we’re done. I’m finding it easier to follow her a little longer each day, but we need to find sitting places along the way. I suspect her enjoyment in wrapping the leash around my legs (and everyone else’s) is more than her quirky sense of humor, but I’m not ruling that out as her favorite parlor trick.

On advice, I got a flower essence thought to relieve feelings of abandonment and abuse and put two drops of it on the back of my hand. She came right to it and smelled it gently. She walked away and came back to it. Encouraged, I transferred it to my palms and rubbed it into her head and shoulders. As I prepared to go lower, she shook her head and walked away. I thought vaguely about her sore hips and let it go. By the next day, she seemed to feel much closer to me.

And then there’s her pills. The pain pill tastes so awful, that she nips around every blind I offer her by hand, shaving the good stuff away and leaving the pill. We’ve tried everything: dog food meatballs, hamburger meatballs, peanut butter, cream cheese, three flavors of pill pockets, and crushing them and squirting them with water or putting them in veg capsules. Once upon a time, she’d take her antibiotic, now she avoids all pills. For you no-nonsense dog trainers oral surgery has made opening her mouth and shoving them in a non-option. Quite the picky eater, she most enjoys her plain beef stir-fry with rice and seems to enjoy it when I share her repast.

I thought we were doing pretty well up ’til now. Despite all our adjustments we’ve managed to bond. Yesterday, I woke to find her sleeping on my sweatshirt!

Our trauma started yesterday with three whole walks (a record), a trip to the vet to consult on the meds, and get her butt shaved. After a trip to the pet store for a humane harness, she came home and lay down in the kitchen, happy, but exhausted. Dozing on and off, she chewed around her pills and listened to my discussions about her with my neighbor Tammy a pet adoption lady which lasted the well into the night. Gingy slept peacefully.

Nine a. m. rolled around and she was still lazing in the kitchen, alternating sleep with a dazed look. I was used to her falling asleep in the hallway where she can be aware of the whole place. I was also used to her waking up much earlier. I offered her half of her glucosamine treat, which she took with what I hoped was her accustomed gentleness. When she set it down, licked it and laid down her head facing away from it, I was concerned. Well, more like terrified. At one point, she ate it as if trying to please me. So, I called the vet and woke the adoption lady. Nothing more tenuous than a canine who won’t eat.

When Tammy got here, we covered Gingy’s shivering body with my sweatshirt and tried everything to spark some interest in food. Suddenly, it occurred to me that when I bent over her and rubbed her head, the aroma of the flower essence of two days earlier reasserted itself. And when I smelled it, it diffused immediately into my mouth and tasted really bad. That felt like a clue.

With more facility for sitting on the floor, Tammy washed Gingy’s head and back with warm water and gave her a rub down with a dry towel. Then, we wrapped a towel straight from the dryer over her. A few moments later, her head came up and she was smiling with that expression that makes everyone want to hug her. She wobbled to her feet and walked around a little. So I tried the other half of the glucosamine treat. She snarfed it up!

As she still refused the lamb/rice prescription food with, at the vet’s suggestion, Gerber’s sweet potatoes, I stirred up some hamburger in a skillet. Of course, she inhaled that, too! Frisky again, she jumped around the living room begging for treats and, I thought, perhaps, a romp in the sloshy snow.

I turned away to call Tammy and Gingy came running back in the room and turned my attention to the pool of pee on the puppy pad. That got her a treat and a cuddle and lots of verbal yays! A moment later, there was a giant poop on another pad!

After all she’d been through, we sent her for a spa-day for a warm bath and blow-dry at a local groomer. Styling a soft, blonde fluffy-do, she had two short walks and met Tammy’s gorgeous Pom, George. Gingy was a bit shy with her new friend, but they got along well.

Now, she’s sacked out on of her favorite spots having happy dreams. Just as I thought I’d join her, Tammy knocked on my door. She had called a canine foster mother who cares for elderly pups and had exciting, surprising, and slightly disturbing news. Being elderly, Gingy will be sleeping a lot. She just may not feel like eating right away. In fact, she’s chubby enough, that she can go two days without eating. With her arthritic hips, she should not go for long walks. In fact, the puppy pads are just what she needs!

The cost for finding this absolute jewel of a companion is that I risk become the mad old woman whose floors are lined with puppy pads, sitting alone most of the day with a sleeping pup, eating hamburger and rice from an Orgreenic pan. A fair price.

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One-Size-Fits All

I vaguely remember promising myself I’d never write about dieting. However, once I’d joined the Medicare faction I realized the popular caveat “Never break a promise to yourself,” has its limitations. So, as I cast off my reservations and throw on my most radiant purple garment, here I go.

beef and macaroniA while ago, I was privileged to party with some great people. For the potluck, I prepared two gluten-free versions of a friend’s recipe for beef and macaroni. In addition to honoring another friend’s dietary need by replacing the real onions with a little onion salt, I was careful to use only a small amount of butter with olive oil. Gluten-free brown rice noodles fit the bill; moreover, I made two versions, one with chili-ground beef and one with ground turkey. The only other difference between them was the size of the tomato chunks: one dish had the petite diced and one had slightly seasoned regular diced. (For those interested, I also substituted tomato puree for the tomato soup the recipe’s originator uses because of her garlic issues. Both options are good, but I made the choice because the people at the potluck have a chili jones.) Then, I was hit with a loud averment that I’d made one healthy and one beef entree. It took a few days to realize probably reflected the displeasure of someone whose diet was different from everyone else’s. Clearly, his diet vilifies beef – a common occurrence among diet fundamentalists.

oaThe ensuing discussion included statements of equal strength that no diet was right for every type of body. My only contribution to the conversation was a joke that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” diet. However, I could have inserted the notion that not only one’s body, but one’s personality may require different approaches. It’s axiomatic: all diets you’re likely to have heard of will work if you’re willing to commit to it. And I ought to know. One therapist postulated that I have a WW_logo_metaphoric scalp belt adorned to capacity with souvenirs of doctors and other diet promoters. I’ve gone the way of Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, Jenny Craig, Behavior Modification, a nutritionist, a battery of psychotherapists, protein shakes only, protein shakes mostly, carbohydrates-only, no carbs at all, vegetarian, as few veggies as possible, red meat prohibited, red meat only, eating right for my blood type, and probably a few I’ve forgotten.

The first physician I remember labeled me “obese” when I was four. About four years later, another family practitioner bullied me and put me on diet pills that made my hands shake so badly they buzzed. When, on his advice, my mother cut each pill in half, I still shook. Of course, then, I ate twice as much as before the pills.

Despite medical evidence to the contrary, the myriad diet books, clinics, storefronts and kiosks still leave room for treating fat like a personality defect. Is loss of one’s thyroid a personality defect also? What about the fact that diet only drains fat cells of their content rather than dispatching the cells themselves? Then there’s the not-so-recently found fat gene. And the so often underscored unrealistically thin body types portrayed in the media, designed to demoralize dieters and destroy body images. All leading to the biggest question: should the same diet “rules” apply to the “morbidly obese” that apply to those struggling with two or ten pounds?

I’m not discounting lifestyle choices as a large factor in weight management, nor am I saying my only issue in failure to maintain a healthy weight is the so-called “low-dose” radiation (over 1000 rads) aimed at my unfledged tonsils when I was two-years-old. What I am saying is that all those engaged in losing weight are always fighting their own bodies and sometimes their own minds.

g-fRight now, I’m participating in a program based on idea that a gluten-free diet is most conducive to weight loss. There’s more to the regimen that is being formed around my gallbladder and thyroid deprived body than changing my idea and use of wheat. I believe this is the process I’ll be able to follow long term. Still, while I would not hesitate to recommend the program to anyone or everyone, most of my friends with eating issues would likely balk at the notion of vitamin and mineral supplements; and, clearly, at least one person I know would resist anything to do with red meat and would be scandalized to know I’m allowed marbled red meat in limited quantities. 

In this age of wide-spread corporate line blurring in news, politics and retail, many are trying to turn back the clock to a “kinder, gentler time.” We tend to forget that humans have never really experienced a golden age of anything, except perhaps in art or radio.

Whether its business, politics, journalism, medicine or a plethora of other traditions, every age had its flaws and peccadilloes. Fiction has been trying to tell us for generations that even time-travel would be a double-edged sword, more likely to make things worse than to bring on a true golden age. We need to accept we are where we are.

Let’s not kid ourselves: diet is big business. In its wrap-up of the 2013 U.S. weight loss market Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a leading independent market research publisher, states “America’s estimated 75 million dieters—about 80% of whom try to lose weight by themselves, are fickle and shift from fad to fad.” The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market (11th edition) says the U.S. weight loss market is worth $60.9 billion and the value of the market actually declined by 1.8% to $60.5 billion [poor dears], largely as a result of slumping diet soft drink sales, and flat performance in most other market segments — including the large chains.”

With the smorgasbord of available diets in this big-business world, it would be difficult not to think a quick trip to the bookstore would be the answer to one’s prayers. Except, that the concept of one-size-fits-all is a lethal virus. Finding the right diet or program for your body with its unique history and issues takes research, honest thought, and maybe auditioning would-be mentors.

Especially in this day of social media, with the body role models in the minority and technology making it less and less necessary to leave our homes, it’s worth the time and effort to reach for the sky even if it seems impossible. It’s time we stopped letting them convince us we’re wrong when we’re just different.

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