America’s Legacy – Can We Remember on Memorial Day?

Yes, it is Memorial Day weekend, and for many Americans it is another holiday, albeit with precursors to the 4th of July, American flags, and hot dogs.  It seems that we have developed short attention spans, given the acceleration of information, the associated decline in verity, the expansion of scope, the collapse of objectivity, the explosion of assertions, and the evaporation of examination.

This is my 71st Memorial Day; I was born two weeks after Japan surrendered, ending World War II.  Sixty to eighty million died in that horror, about three percent of the over two billion people who inhabited the earth in 1940.

Twenty to twenty-five million military deaths included about five million prisoners of war. Some estimates show thirty-five million civilians died as a direct result of the war, and another twenty million died from disease and starvation.  No one has tallied the deaths and disabilities of the aftermath.  The mental scars darkened the lives of the survivors for generations.

More than four hundred thousand Americans died in that war, with another six hundred seventy thousand wounded.  In other words, one million Americans dead or damaged.

Then, only five years later, America engaged in the Korean “Conflict.”  Thirty-six thousand killed, one hundred three thousand wounded.

Eleven years passed before our official entrance into the Vietnam war.  Fifty-eight thousand killed, one hundred fifty-three thousand wounded.  My brother and I are fortunate, surviving, Vietnam veterans.  We both have friends on the lists of dead and wounded.  My wife’s little brother is one of the fifty-eight thousand.

Our casualties in the Middle East are not final, but six or seven thousand have died, nearly fifty thousand have been wounded.

This is the evidence of our courage and strength, despite the critics of those wars.  Please take a few minutes to remember the grim violence, the constant terror, the pain, agony, suffering, and sacrifice of those men and women, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

I still cry.

Left’s War on Winners – Town Hell Meeting = Public Media Pillory

You read it right, “Town Hell Meeting;” the town hall meeting is the latest casualty in the left’s war on winners; turning plowshares into swords.  Politicians and public figures are targets of a recent tactic by their political enemies – “Public Media Pillories.”

Pillories were used to humiliate and torture people who were guilty of malfeasance, breaking taboos, or committing sins.  The pillory was usually a hinged wooden device, attached to a post; it held the head and hands of the subject locked in place.  The pillory was placed in the most public area of a town or village to get maximum exposure.

john_waller_in_pilloryCourtesy of Wikipedia

Once a person was placed in the pillory, they received no food or water; there were no bathroom breaks; the public was free to scorn, humiliate, & pelt them with organic and inorganic matter, sometimes killing them.

Today, vicious partisans employ a new form of pillory – the televised, town-hall ambush. Traditionally, town hall meetings were community gatherings, bringing together all the local citizens to discuss matters of public, common interest.  Yes, people discussed important topics using Robert’s Rules of Order.  http://www.robertsrules.org

The modern version has neither good intentions, decorum, nor civility.  Innocence plays no part in the deployment of this weapon.  Now, it is a form of political ambush.  Only foolish office holders attend public town hall meetings that are “public media pillories” in disguise.

The process goes like this:  Opposition partisans invite public figures saying, “we want to talk to you in an open forum,” when they really mean, “we want you to sponsor a media-covered, public event, where we will hound, berate, criticize, insult, accuse, interrupt, scream invectives, and attack you personally, without allowing you to express ideas, answer questions, or even be heard.”

Only the brave or the foolhardy accept their cleverly encoded, poison-pen invitation.  If you decline, they cast you as non-transparent, and postulate what you could be hiding.  If you accept, you find yourself trapped on a stage, with a microphone.  You are greeted by a standing- room-only crowd.  You are surrounded, not by a cross-section of the community, but by a cohort of angry enemies; some are not even members of the local community.

The hounds are loosed, the cameras capture the mayhem, and the air is filled with posters, chants, rants, and pithy aphorisms.  At some point, you shrug and walk off the stage, having only introduced yourself and thanked the people for “coming out.”

You may think it is over because you survived with all your body parts.  Alas, the torture has just begun; the editing and augmenting begin.

Before and after the meeting, the “reporters” identify photogenic, outraged attendees, recently-ousted office holders, and bussed-in opposition pundits.  They script interviews with everyone and anyone who hates you, and “the horse you rode in on.”  They use snippets and sound bites to punctuate the later broadcasts with righteous indignation, and proud assertions of having done a public good.

The masterful image-smiths design a “storyboard,” and use video tape, & sound bites to fulfill it.  When they are done, the town-hall meeting is a victory of good over evil at Armageddon.  They tailor the context, emphasize “talking points” to meet “breaking news” standards; they include hints that support the opposition, bolster conspiracy theories, and not so subtlety, deride your credibility as a public figure.

If you get invited to lead a “town hall” meeting, think “abattoir,” a spider’s parlor.  This use of the media has eliminated its community value, and weaponized its destructive power.

Democrat in Republican’s Clothing – George W. Bush

George W. Bush supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He has become an ersatz Republican elitist, who still thinks he is right to oppose President Trump.  He remains a sore loser, who did not get his way.  He is worse than the Democrats who continue to moan and groan because they lost the election.  George is a Democrat in Republican’s clothing.  It appears that his mission is not yet accomplished.

“Wolf in sheep’s clothing” is a term for something that seems innocent, but is a lethal enemy.  Nothing could be a worse disguised enemy than someone who pretends to be in the same political party, but who attacks the president, being not too careful in hiding his true feelings.

Who would want the return to elite political power more than GWB?  He was born, raised, and steeped in the rarified, upper echelons of the Republican party.

The Associated Press published part of a recent interview, at a book promotion in Simi, CA.  Bush asserted that receding from global interaction creates a vacuum that would be filled with “… people who don’t share the ideology, the same sense of human rights and human dignity and freedom that we do,”

On his assertion of what will fill vacuums:  Just exactly what countries does he mean?  Does he really think we have friends in every nation into which we pour money?  No, they still hate us, but they love our money.  Does he think adversarial ideology will take over Europe, Britain, Mexico, etcetera?  It must be much more complicated than I thought.

Whoever tries to fill the “vacuums” will do so at their financial peril.  Estimated total foreign aid by Russia and China combined was less than half of US expenditures.  If these evil forces had enough money, they would already have forced us to find other places to put our dollars.

What would be lost by focusing on our internal problems?  I read recently that our foreign aid expenditures total about 1% of our budget.  I also read that only 34% of our budget is discretionary.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/aug/17/facebook-posts/pie-chart-federal-spending-circulating-internet-mi/

That means 1% is really 3% of our discretionary expenses.  With a total 2016 budget of about $4.15 trillion, $42.4 billion goes to “foreign assistance.”  (And everyone made a big deal about Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in military spending; just 1.35% of the total budget.;)

In the interview, Bush stated that he, “… didn’t intend to criticize Trump when he said recently that a free press is essential to democracy. Trump has referred to the press as the “enemy of the people.” Bush said at the library, the nation needed an independent press, but added that it needs to be accurate.”

The “independent press” used to be 98% news, and 2% editorials; today, editorials are more like 50 to 100% from many sources on both the left and the right.  That changes the character of the press from providing information, to publishing propaganda.  This is an abuse of the public platform and audiences.  This is a perversion of journalism.

Wikipedia says, ” Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the “news of the day,” and that informs society to, at least, some degree.”  Note that the word “reports” means relays, or conveys factual information about what happens, without interpretation.  Also note the chagrin of “at least some degree.”

Spin, commentary, opinions, editorials, exaggerations, conflation, are not reports.  Neither are unbalanced, “soft ball” interviews with only strongly opinionated, partisan, advocates or critics, selected to advance an ideological agenda.  (e.g. Fox, MSNBC, CNN) That is propaganda.

The BBC is the best example of journalism today.  They clearly delineate news from opinion, and entertainment.  Walter Cronkite is a shining example of the qualities of journalists, and the journalism of the past.  Persuasion is not the intent of true journalism.

What if a news source is not accurate, on purpose?  What if the “free press” is vicious, verging on hate speech?  What if their articles contain accurate facts, wrapped in overwhelming opinions, “newspeak,” “analysis,” and commentary that is clearly inaccurate, subjective, and savagely slanted in scope and innuendo?  What do you call an organization that is staunchly, and consistently opposed to the elected government of the USA, almost to the point of sedition, subversion, insurgence, even insurrection?  What kind of “free press” pounces on, and amplifies every mistake?  What good is a free press that fearfully, and angrily projects, and postulates every possible, negative, future outcome of executive proposals?  Does a free press overlook, denigrate, and downplay every positive possible scenario to extinction, or discredit?

I appreciate GWB’s talent as a painter; he was president during the most shocking attack on American soil since WW II.  His standard-issue ideas, elitist disloyalty, and blindness to the enemy within is not what we need right now.  We do not need disgruntled words from a veteran patrician.  But I do not mean to criticize him.

 

Apnea – The Loud Annoying Killer

Could you be suffering from sleep apnea?

I have sleep apnea, and have been treating it for 2.5 years.  Snoring is a symptom, although not all snoring is caused by apnea.  I am not talking about your run-of-the-mill snoring; I mean SNORING!!  I thought snoring was universal.  Snoring runs in my family – my brothers and I can easily drown out the sound of a chain saw.

Sometimes I can be a little stubborn and skeptical.  (After all, I did not hear any snoring, and it did not keep me awake.)  OK, so I snore a bit.  Doesn’t everyone?  I found out how much my snoring kept my wife awake, because she told me about it.

Sleep is very important to my wife.  Unless she gets 9+ hours every night, I wake up with a zombie.  I bring her a cup of coffee, in bed; she drinks it over 5 – 10 minutes; her eyes open to slit-level; I put the second cup of coffee next to her sink in the bathroom, and run to the kitchen; she smells it and gets slowly out of bed, and does that slow, side-to-side, living-dead sleep-walk into the bathroom.  Twenty minutes later, she is the living, breathing, woman I love.  But, that is when she gets enough sleep.

She tried earplugs, but the vibrations shook her awake, or gave her tremor-nightmares. (She lived in California years ago, and has not gotten over fear of earthquakes.)  I tried sleeping on my side, elevated pillows, breathe-right nose strips, sinus washing, those things you put in your mouth at night to keep your jaw positioned, only minor improvement.  Things came to crisis mode when I started waking up to an empty place in the bed.  I found her sleeping in another room.

Then I heard the word “Apnea;” sounded like a Balkan dialect.  How did this apply to me?  So, I went to the sleep doctor. At first, I did not believe it, even after I had my first overnight sleep study at an apnea clinic.

It took a second sleep study before I accepted the fact:  I do have severe “complex” sleep apnea.  The problem is not so much the snoring, but the silences, when no air is going in or out.  Without treatment, the study showed that, when I was asleep, I stopped breathing 67 times an hour, for 10 – 20 seconds; over eight hours, that would be 536 times per night, 5,360 to 10,720 seconds; 90 – 180 minutes; this is like holding my breath for one and a half, to three hours a night; my blood oxygen dropped to 89 – 94% several times each night (normal is 100%). Frequent interruptions to the sleep cycle can keep you from getting enough REM “deep” sleep, needed for quality rest and restoration of the brain.  That is not good for the brain, or anything else.

Things that could happen with untreated apnea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Weight gain & difficulty losing weight
  • Lack of ardor
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Accidents
  • Nodding off during the daytime
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Lower response to medications
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Spouse sleep deprivation
  • Divorce

Still skeptical, I ask, “aren’t these people just selling stuff?” Well, yes, no, yes, and yes, depending on who you mean by “these people.”  Yes, sleep clinics “sell” sleep studies, and they prescribe equipment to keep me from holding my breath 66 times an hour, in my sleep; no, the clinics do not sell the gear.  Yes, “durable medical equipment” companies sell the equipment.  And, yes, medical insurance and Medicare cover their share of the costs.

The doctor prescribed a heavy-duty, nighttime breathing machine called a “bi–pap.”  People with less severe cases use a similar machine called a “c-pap.”

I wish I could tell you that using the machine is a pleasure.  This would be a real treat, if you would find pleasure going to bed, wearing a plastic mask over your nose (and maybe your mouth too), with elastic straps to hold it in place, attached to a plastic air hose, attached to an electronic device that looks something like a portable radio, but without the music, that makes you feel like a scuba diver, or a jet pilot, and makes you sound like Darth Vader, or the announcer at a bus station.  Oh, you will need another elastic strap under your chin and over your crown, if you have trouble keeping your mouth shut, and only breathing through your nose. All this, just to keep breathing a few years longer.

It took me a while (60 nights) to get used to wearing it, AND sleeping; (you also need to remember you are hooked up when you get up in the middle of the night; it makes a bit of a mess when you sweep your bedside table clean with the air hose, in the dark, half asleep, waking your spouse, everyone in the house, and your next-door neighbors’ dogs.)  But, I am resolute; I use it religiously; now it only annoys me.  (Note: Any chances of spontaneous romance at night are, let’s say, ZERO.  Planning is the key.  It is sort of fun dating my wife again.  “Would Saturday about 8ish work for you, Sweetheart?”)

This is an amazing, computerized machine.  It monitors every inhale and exhale, to adjust to your normal breathing patterns and air pressure. It generates a constant flow of air at about the same speed and pressure you create when you inhale.  (If you close your throat, and open your mouth just a little, you can make the sound of the wind blowing; by pursing your lips a little tighter, you can make your lips sputter and vibrate.)

If you stop breathing, it blows air into your nose to fill your lungs, and gets you going again. The machine keeps track of sleep stoppages, and sends the results to the doctor.  After six months, the records showed only 1 or 2 brief stoppages an hour; not enough to cause any more brain damage.

I would encourage you to consider the possibility that you, too, might have sleep apnea.  If so, the treatment can change, even save your life.

Here are links to good sites about apnea.  You might want to check them out.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/symptoms/con-20020286

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-apnea.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/central-sleep-apnea#1

 

Donald Trump – The Matryoshka Candidate?

I am amazed at the number, scope, and continuous flow of speculations about Donald Trump, as president-elect.  Now we have an American, billionaire, capitalist, accused of being a Russian sympathizer, and even a collaborator with Russia’s Putin to win the election.  Does that sound like the Russian version of “The Manchurian Candidate” to you?  (FYI:  a Matryoshka is one of those hollow, Russian, nested, wooden dolls with smaller and smaller dolls inside.)  I guess there are no limits on imagination, enmity, paranoia, malice, and disappointment.

Those who oppose Donald Trump, and those who are left bitter, dazed, angry, and confused by his election as President do not need to be rational in their relentless attacks on anything Trump.  Those accusing him of being soft on Russia, a Putin sycophant, and naïve about our enemies might take a minute to reflect on how silly that sounds.

Is it soft to sell some rich Russians overpriced condos and land in the US?  Is it sycophantic to use Putin to criticize political opponents as being weak?  Is it naïve to get the Russians to pay premium prices to have the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow?  Do I hear a no?

Until now, Mr. Trump’s interest in Russia has been limited to money, i.e. making money, not losing it, and not giving it away.  All his dealings with Russians have been real estate in the US, or visiting Moscow for a US-based beauty pageant.  Trump has never met Putin face-to-face, or made any deals with him.  Putin even cancelled a scheduled meeting with Trump during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.  Does that sound like love to you?  I believe Trump could continue to make money from Russians without being President, and without being friends with Putin; therefore, I do not think there is a sinister link. What else would he have to gain?

Some cite the friendly, respectful tone of comments and letters between the men.  A friendly demeanor is not the same as friendship; sometimes negotiations can benefit from pleasant diplomacy.

Others suggest that Putin sees Trump as weaker than Clinton.  Do we have some evidence that Trump is as passive as Obama has been in foreign matters, such as Crimea and Syria?  Or maybe evidence that Putin is afraid of Hillary after meeting her as Secretary of State?

Let us see what happens after January 20th.

Media Hair Triggers

The Clinton campaign and the allied media have set bear traps with hair triggers; mention guns and they snap.

Hillary Clinton and her party have a reputation for favoring gun control.  Check out the gun laws in California and New York, if you doubt the bias.  (Note:  So far, no criminals obey gun laws, including the ban on gun ownership by convicted felons.)

Despite the palliative assurances of Democrats that gun ownership is not in jeopardy, the evidence screams the opposite.  It seems that leading Democrats are very afraid of guns.  Otherwise, why would they construe every challenge to the hypocrisy of spouting gun control from within a heavily-armed cocoon?

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The most generous interpretation of Trump’s comment that the second-amendment supporters could prevent the appointment by voting against Clinton, or prevent confirmation by lobbying their Senators not to consent to such appointments.

But no; inferring that Trump was inciting assassination was the immediate response.

More recently Trump said,

“Now, you know she’s very much against the Second Amendment, she wants to destroy your Second Amendment — guns, guns, guns, right? I think what we should do is, she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right? I think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? Yeah, take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Take their – let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, OK? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Once again, the immediate inference that Trump was inciting Clinton’s assassination, not highlighting the irony of her politics compared to her actions.

Ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that the Clinton campaign and the press were misconstruing Trump’s words.

“What he intended is very, very simple — that (gun owners) should vote against her,” Giuliani said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “He had no idea that anybody would interpret his words that way. It was so obvious to all of us what he meant.”

Do you believe that Trump wants Hillary dead by violence?  The pro-Clinton forces want you to think so.

Middle-Class Families Robbed by Obamacare – Before and After Taxes

The New York Times just published an article claiming that middle-class families are better off financially.  They blithely overlooked the greatest tax increase in recent memory and the greatest increase in medical cost Americans have ever seen.  We have been robbed blind.

Many employers dropped or reduced their health insurance benefits and left their employees to shop Obamacare market places.  Not only are the premiums higher and the benefits lower, but now they must pay with after-tax dollars.  Insurance premiums paid by employers is exempt from payroll and income taxes.  Any of the premiums employee pays must come from earnings that have been taxed at about 8% for Social Security, Medicare taxes; the employer pays the same amount in matching payroll taxes.

But that’s not all; the employee also pays income taxes on the earnings – at least 15%.  So 8% + 15% is 23% fewer dollars in the employees’ pockets just to get the money to pay for healthcare insurance.  Since Obamacare started, health insurance for middle-class families has roughly doubled.  They get no government subsidies; they have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals; the deductibles and copays empty the bank accounts.  People who have worked hard, have been nicked by the recession.  They may be working for a fraction of their former incomes.  Families are now strapped for cash, and struggle to find medical providers that will accept their healthcare insurance.

Ask yourself, is the New York Times right?  Have we increased our incomes enough to rise above the tax grab and the insurance double-cross?  Our economic anemia verges on leukemia; Obamacare is the pathogen, not the cure.