Meandering49

something about everything

How Poison Ivy can help the Russia Investigation

I’m suffering through an attack of poison ivy. To say that the itch from a mosquito bite and the itch from poison ivy have something in common is like saying a firecracker and a nuclear bomb are both hot.  To say, “don’t scratch that itch!” is like saying don’t drink water after you’ve been stumbling around lost in Death Valley all day.

Steroidal cream, prednisone, Calamine lotion, Benadryl. I’ve got them all in the works! It’s still spreading, and what concerns me is that gravity has the rash making a beeline for my groin area…and the itch continues, and I don’t want to be caught scratching my genitals in public.

But I’m not looking for your sympathy. I have an idea for Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election. Got a person of interest who refuses to talk? Hiding behind the fifth amendment? Begging for immunity from prosecution?

“So, you won’t talk?” Special prosecutor Mueller asks.

“No.”

“Okay.” Take a look at this picture.”

 

“Hey Joe. Bring in the poison ivy plants,” Mueller orders.

“Okay! Okay! I’ll talk. But please don’t give me poison ivy!*

“Turn the recorder on Rosemary.”

 

*Not really torture. Let’s call it VPT (A vegetarian persuasive technique).

What My 50th High School Reunion Meant

There we were. A bunch of kids transformed into old men and women by fifty years of living. It’s hard to believe, but with the exception of my friends Ed and Nick, I hadn’t seen any of them in half a century. As I wrote in a poem prior to going, for those few hours, we were young again. Old stories in high school, buried in the archives of our memories, suddenly were front and center. New memories were created. Maybe even new relationships. I remember talking to people whom I didn’t talk to in high school, because we travelled in different circles. But we all walked in the same hallways and classrooms and had many of the same teachers and coaches, so we had that in common.

And when I talked to people I knew then, I saw that they weren’t different. That whatever happened in their lives, they hadn’t really changed. And the heart-break that is part of living, didn’t show…at least for that night. In a way that seemed magical, they became the kids I knew in high school.

And the people who were gone – on display in our memorial – were a stark reminder not only about the shortness of life; but that we are fortunate for the time we still have. I could hear my friend  and classmate John, gone two years, say to me, “Don’t waste it!”

I know I’ll never see most of them again. But for those few hours, we revived a lost world…and were young again. It was a rare opportunity that I’m glad I didn’t miss.

 

What do Conservatives Want to Conserve?

Conservative: Tending to emphasize the importance of preserving traditional cultural and religious values, and to oppose change, esp. sudden change. – Cambridge Dictionary

There are definitely things worth conserving. As long as that conservation doesn’t fly in the face of facts…or preserve the discrimination of groups of people. I do a lot of wondering about this. For example…

I wonder how long it took conservatives of the time to accept that the Earth is a sphere, an idea first put forth by Pythagoras in Ancient Greece?

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I wonder how long it took conservatives in Copernicus’s time, to accept that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the Solar System?

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I wonder how long it took conservatives after the 1956 call for massive resistance to the civil rights movement to accept civil rights, even as they slowed progress toward this goal?

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I wonder how long it will take conservatives in our time to accept equal rights for the LGBTQ community, even as they slow progress toward this goal?

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I wonder how long it will take conservatives in our time to accept the science that human activity is changing the climate of Earth and endangering human existence, even as they slow progress toward this goal?

Climate change

I really do wonder…

Because the conservative road, according to history, could lead to a dead-end.

Breaking News: Andrew Jackson Supports Donald Trump!

Recently, CNN reporter Coyote Spritzer travelled back in time to visit former President Jackson at his home, The Hermitage, in Tennessee.

Coyote Spritzer: Mr. President, you said you have experience removing large numbers of people, and could advise Republican candidate Donald Trump on how to do it. I’m referring, of course, to the Indian Removal Act that you signed in 1830, which led to the “Trail of Tears.”

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The Trail of Tears

President Jackson: Trail of Tears? That’s what the media calls it. Believe me, there were no tears. I saved the Cherokee by removing them. A tremendous number of Americans were crossing the Appalachians. They were coming like a colony of red ants. They needed a place to live. Many people wrote to me and said, hey Andrew, you have to get rid of those Indians. I was humane. I made them leave or the settlers  would have killed them. That I can tell you. Believe me. I support Mr. Trump’s plan to get rid of illegal Mexicans.

Coyote Spritzer: But many Cherokee died on the way to Oklahoma. Do you feel bad about that?

President Jackson: Listen. More would have died if they stayed. Besides, nobody liked the Cherokee. That I can tell you. Go talk to the Choctaw Indians. They hate the Cherokee. They tell me the women are fat and the men are lazy and just go around smoking tobacco.

Coyote Spritzer: But it was their home. They had a sophisticated government and a written language. They were one of the five “civilized” tribes.

President Jackson: Gimme a break. They wrote a few words down on parchment. Listen. They were going around banging on drums and sending up smoke signals. Civilized? Plus, you go to the Indian country now. Oklahoma? Where the hell did that name come from? You talk to the Cherokee. They all love me. Many of them write to me and tell me how happy they are that I removed their ancestors.

Coyote Spritzer: So tell me what advice you would give Mr. Trump about his plan to remove more than eleven million illegal aliens from the United States?

President Jackson: It’s simple. You get an army together and you get them the hell out of here!  I know more than the generals do on how to do this. Believe me. Those Mexicans have to go. That I can tell you.

Coyote Spritzer: But you were a general, Mr. President, and you tried to get the Seminole Indians in Florida to leave as well. What happened?

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President Jackson: You can’t blame me for that! You know that the Spanish owned Florida first, right? They pampered those Indians and made them feel like they belonged there. Many people in Florida wrote to me saying get these Indians out of here! They’re thieves and rapists and they kill all the birds to make headdresses.

Coyote Spritzer: So why weren’t you successful in removing them?

President Jackson: Are you kidding me? You ever been to Florida? They ran into the goddamn swamp. It’s all swamps down there. White people hate swamps. They wouldn’t live there. So I said, fine. Let the Indians live with the alligators and mosquitos. I’ll tell you what. Go there today and talk to the Seminole. They love me down there. They actually come and put flowers on my grave here at the Hermitage. That I can tell you.

Coyote Spritzer: So you think if Mr. Trump wins, he can successfully remove all those people?

President Jackson: If he takes my advice. Of course, I won’t get any credit for it. I still haven’t gotten enough credit for all the Indians I got rid of. Believe me.

Coyote Spritzer: But you’re dead Mr. President! Why do you want credit?

President Jackson: What does that have to do with it? I still want the credit!

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Tribes subjected to Removal

What Should America be?

 

Trump is a rascal

A grown-up Eddie Haskell

He would build a wall between us and Mexico

While Hillary takes money from Texaco

Trump doesn’t give a damn about facts

And Hillary sold herself to Goldman-Sachs

The truth is dead, lying on a gurney

So whatever happened to Bernie?

Flawed candidates, no doubt. So whom will I vote for? It’s easy for me, because ultimately it’s about more than the candidates. They represent two vastly different philosophies of life. Two visions of America.

Here’s my vision for America:

  • I want to see equal rights for all Americans. I don’t care how they look, where they came from, what their sexual orientation is…or anything else.
  • I want to see action on the most serious problem of our time – global warming. To hear Trump say that it’s a Chinese hoax is appalling.
  • I want to see a thoughtful and humane solution to the immigration problem. Building a wall is as offensive to me as the Berlin wall was to the world.
  • I want to see common sense gun control. Period. Fuck the NRA.
  • I’m sick of trickle-down economics and its time-honored tax breaks for the rich. It’s never worked. Except for the rich.
  • I want to see policies that promote the growth of the middle class.
  • I want a country that tackles poverty and racism head on.
  • I want to see a serious respect for science.
  • I want to see religion out of politics, as the founders intended. Christian extremism is as dangerous as other types of extremism.
  • I want to see the role of money in elections reduced – and Citizens United overturned.
  • I want to see term limits for Congress.

Hillary Clinton is certainly not George Washington. But if you believe as I do, you must vote for her, or put the country in the hands of a power-hungry narcissist and a Christian evangelist who once proclaimed that cigarettes don’t kill.

What’s your vision for America?

Long John Peg-Tooth

No matter what they say about getting a pain-free tooth extraction these days, this is what I have in my mind’s eye:

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And if that’s not bad enough to make me want to swallow a bottle of Xanax, it’s one of my front teeth. But it has to be yanked out. I have a raging infection. It’s like I have microscopic piranhas in my mouth eating away at my jawbone.

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After the yanking, I need a bone graft to strengthen my weakened jawbone. The dentist said he uses cadaver bones. So I’ll have a dead person’s bone in my mouth. Why does this come to mind?

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They gave me a “flipper,” what a cute word for a fake tooth. This is on the way to a dental implant. This is a happy occasion, the dentist said. It should look like this:

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But I can’t help thinking it will look like this… Long John Peg-Tooth?

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But back to the yanking. I see myself tomorrow, waiting for the dentist, who is armed with AK-47 plyers…

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I know. It’s only a tooth. So I’ll enjoy my last day with that front tooth…by biting into a hard, honey crisp apple.

Can Trump Make America Great “Again?”

I have a problem with Trump’s campaign slogan. The problematic word is ‘again.’ In my view, America has to be great for all of its people to be really great.  Has it ever been that way? Trump isn’t specific about when America was great; but it’s a good guess that he means during the economic boom following World War II and beyond.

Let me point out a few groups for which America wasn’t so great back then:

It wasn’t great for African-Americans in so many ways I don’t have enough space to write about them. But here’s a few: Yes, Jackie Robinson was playing ball in the majors; but black people couldn’t use the “whites only” bathrooms in many of the stadiums in which they went to see him play. And they couldn’t vote or eat in the same restaurants as their fellow white citizens…in large swaths of America.

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And it wasn’t great for gay people, because they had to hide in “closets” to avoid being bullied, beaten, killed or coerced into “cures” for homosexuality.

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1953 Thinking

And it wasn’t great for many women who had to hide from the sexual advances of their bosses at work or the abuse of their husbands at home, because they had little financial means to escape from either. How many of them numbed themselves with Miltown?

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And it wasn’t great for many catholic schoolboys, because they had to hide from priests who coveted them sexually as they preached the word of God and while church “fathers” turned a blind eye.

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And it wasn’t great for many African-American WWII soldiers who came home and wanted a bit of the American dream by owning a small house to raise their families. Levittown, that great post war social experiment, was perfect for returning soldiers – but only if you were white.

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LEVITTOWN: FOR WHITES ONLY

Whew! America’s greatness excluded millions of Americans, didn’t it?

So who did enjoy its greatness? For the most part, white heterosexual men who could take advantage of the open road of opportunity called the American Dream.

Until that road is open to all Americans, it can never be really great. It never was, by this definition. I believe Trump’s greatness has more to do with American power and influence in the world of nations and little to do with quality of life and equal opportunity for its people. There is a balance we can achieve and find greatness in both.

I don’t believe that Mr. Trump gives a damned about balanced greatness. So I say I don’t want you as our leader.

What do you say?

The Door that Keeps Opening

Justice Antonin Scalia called yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision on same-sex marriage a “threat to democracy.”

Here’s a guy who defended the Supreme Court decision to allow the super rich to pour millions into campaigns to get their candidates elected – called Citizen’s United. Now that’s a threat to democracy.

Let me put this up here, just in case Justice Scalia hasn’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Mike Huckabee, would-be President:

“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

Mike would have been jumping for joy if the Supreme Court had ruled against same-sex marriage. Take your ball and go home Mike, like any spoiled kid who doesn’t get his way.

Let me put this up here for Mike, just in case he hasn’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said that catholic bishops would continue to teach that marriage remains solely between a man and a woman. But the Catholic Conference of Bishops also urged “compassion for gay individuals.”

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That’s like saying we’re going to keep you in chains; but we will give you good food to eat.

Let me put this up here for Bishop Vigneron and all the other catholic bishops who urge compassion for gay people. Just in case they haven’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And for the Republican candidates for President who threaten to push for a constitutional amendment to allow states to deny same-sex marriage, maybe they haven’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And for all those who purport to know what God intended or to point to history or religion or whatever cockamamie justification you use to try to keep the door shut on full equality for all people, the door keeps opening. And while it’s not yet open enough for everyone to walk through – all you can do, as you have always done – is to stand behind the door and try to push it until it closes.

You know who you are. You have always been on the wrong side of history; a.k.a. – The Door… that keeps opening.

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A SPLASH OF #ROUNDUP IN YOUR #FRAPPUCINO?

That’s ridiculous, you say. Who would put a pesticide in a Frappuccino? No one would; but it seeps in, hitching a ride on the farm to table passageway. Here’s how: A cow, if its lucky enough to be grazing these day, eats green grass protected by glyphosate, the killing agent in Roundup, ℅ the king of the genetically modified organism, Monsanto.

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The farmer milks his cow and goes to market. Starbucks buys his milk and that milk is transported to your neighborhood Starbucks Café and finds its way into your coffee, and then a smiling Starbucks Barista serves that milk – and ice cream – to you…in a Frappuccino.

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You don’t believe it, you say. It’s a stretch. And you reason that even if we’ve been getting small doses of Roundup, our bodies would build up an immunity to it. Isn’t that how vaccines work? Except that Roundup isn’t a virus. It’s a chemical with one objective: TO KILL. And your immune system is helpless against it. Read more…

America in 500 Feet

It rises out of the ground floor by floor.  Cement trucks arrive like locusts to deliver the mixture that will hold the enormous weight of the 56-story building. The construction workers begin to look like ants as each floor reaches toward the sky. The sun shining on the corner of Arch and Eighteenth streets will soon be a thing of the past.

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A homeless man sits against the fence of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church. His hair is dark and unkempt. He stares ahead, oblivious to the massive structure rising in front of him. In his hands, he holds a dirty cardboard sign that says Homeless but not Hopeless. On the ground is a wrinkled baseball cap holding change and a dollar bill.

Around the corner, the original Comcast Center stands higher than any building, and when the new Comcast Tower is completed, they will dwarf the skyline of Philadelphia.

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The homeless man wants something to eat. In the near future, a restaurant 900 feet above him will light up the night sky and look down upon William Penn on top of City Hall. After the last French truffle is served, the garbage dump will overflow with enough food to feed a thousand homeless people.

What it could look like

The Caviar Crowd Look Down on the City

Someone said that 10,000,000 television watchers around the world, most of whom could never afford to eat in the top floor restaurant, paid for the cost of each floor.

In the 500 feet between the homeless man and the Comcast Tower and what it represents, all of America exists.

Where are you on this continuum of American life? Most of us are closer to the homeless man than we would like to believe; but you can only see it…if you open your eyes.

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