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Happy Holidays!

Before I go on, and on, as I typically do. Let me wish you, your family, and your friends happy holidays. Merry Christmas to those who observe the holiday. Also, happy new year!

Unions!
Woohoo! The United Auto Workers won new solid contracts with GM, Ford, and Stellantis. New pay raises. New cost of living adjustments. The ink wasn’t dry on these new contracts before Honda, Toyota and Hyundai announced that they are raising pay at their US plants. Do not tell me that unions are not critical to America. This is going to be a massive boost to the American middle class.

Bye-bye!
Representative George Santos has been kicked out of the House of Representatives. After an Ethics committee investigation revealed that his scams had scams, he was using campaign money to gamble, buy expensive clothes, get Botox treatments, and pay off personal debt. Even Republicans said that was too much. In a vote of 311 – 144, the House threw Santos out of the front door. Well, the House has not done much of anything this session but they did get this done!

Henry Kissinger
I do not want to spend the whole column talking about Henry Kissinger. Unfortunately, he is such a controversial figure that I could easily spend several days discussing his good points and his many bad points. Henry Kissinger died at his house at the age of 100. He was the Secretary of State to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was more than that. He was a rock star. He was a celebrity. In the late 1970s, he was invited to all the important parties. He went out with some of the most attractive actresses and models. Everybody wanted him on those Sunday morning talk shows. His story was fascinating. His family fled Nazi Germany. He grew up in New York. He went to Harvard undergrad and grad school. He was so good they kept him on as faculty, which rarely happens at Harvard. From Harvard, he got into the State Department and worked his way up to Secretary of State. He had a near-photographic memory of history. On the good side, he opened relations with China. On the bad side, he made a deal with North Vietnam, which ended the war in Vietnam but left South Vietnam out in the cold. He trivialized the consequences of expanding the war into Cambodia. The carpet bombing of Cambodia was inexcusable. We left Cambodia almost as quickly as we got in. Unfortunately, our destruction of Cambodia destabilized the peacefully elected government and paved the way for the genuinely despicable Khmer Rouge to enter. Oh, there is more that I could say. I’ll say – rest in peace.

Gaza
The fighting has stopped for now. We have a pause in the action. There has been an exchange of prisoners/hostages. I don’t know where we go from here. Of course, we can start fighting again. I don’t know what that would accomplish. Northern Gaza has been almost totally flattened. Tunnels have been discovered near hospitals. Somebody, hopefully, the United States, is talking to both sides about an endgame. Now is the time. For decades, we have come up with excuses for why now was not the time. There is never a good time. There is always conflict. There is always disagreement. In order to save more lives, we must come up with a permanent peace solution. Doesn’t that have to be a two-state solution? This Christmas, I’m praying for peace.

Healthcare
Several months ago, I wrote in this space that our current healthcare system really suits no one. The doctors aren’t happy. The nurses aren’t happy. Hospital administrators aren’t all that happy. Insurance companies. They seem to be satisfied. We need a system that works for us. We need to develop a system that puts patients first. A system where doctors can see patients quickly. Doctors can decide what tests to get and what medications to give without jumping through hoops. Sure, the system needs checks and balances. I don’t think that anybody wants a system where doctors run wild.

I watched a health insurance commercial in which some “average guy” told everybody how they needed to check their insurance every year. Somebody asked the obvious question: why? Because, he answered, health coverages change every year. My question to the TV is, why? Why would healthcare coverage change? I think that all Americans want basic healthcare coverage, including doctor visits, emergency room visits, coverage of prescription drugs, coverage of medical devices (wheelchairs, walkers, walking boots, crutches, etc.), full dental coverage, hospitalization coverage, and mental health coverage. If these are the basics, why would an insurance company change them? Well, the answer is that they’re trying to make more money. Therefore, they’ll vary your coverage not based on what you need but on what they want. By the way, why do we have insurance deductibles? We’re already paying premiums for insurance; what is the purpose of deductibles? As far as I can tell, a deductible is a deterrent. The deductible basically tells me not to use my insurance coverage unless I really need it. That’s nuts.

Rosalynn Carter
It was 1982 or 1983. I was a junior or senior at Emory University. President Jimmy Carter had joined the faculty at Emory. I had seen him around campus a couple of times. It’s hard to miss a president United States walking around a university campus with three or four Secret Service agents flanking him. Anyway, I was invited to dinner with President and Mrs. Carter. It was me and approximately 15 of my student leader companions. I’ll never forget how nice and gracious both of them were. After dinner, we had a roundtable discussion. We asked questions. The former president and first lady answered the questions. I don’t recall any evasive answers. There were questions about the White House. There were questions about the failed rescue attempt of the hostages in Iran. I asked about his biggest regret concerning the Israeli–Palestinian situation. He said that his goal was to come up with a permanent solution. He regretted that he never did. As I recall, Rosalynn Carter was not a porcelain statue. She was an active participant in the conversation. I got the feeling that they were a team. They loved each other. They helped each other. They completed each other.

Very few of us live an exemplary life. Even celebrities that we put on a pedestal. When we put them under a microscope, many of them fall apart. Rosalynn Carter does not. She grew up in the Baptist Church. She believed in modesty. She believed in helping people experiencing poverty. She fought for better care and better access for the mentally ill. Mental health care improved in this country because of her tenacity. She was instrumental in the expansion of Habitat for Humanity. She founded the Institute for Caregivers. She was a powerful advocate for both women and children. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.

Rosalynn Carter died at the age of 96. Someone said at her funeral that her life was her eulogy. Rest in peace, Mrs. Carter.

Your Nerves
I want to ask you to protect your nerves this holiday season. Turn off the mainstream media. Don’t listen to Donald Trump. Spend some time with family and friends. Remember, our time on this earth is short. We need to spend time just loving each other. Happy holidays!

By |2024-01-16T23:02:57-04:00January 16th, 2024|Domestic Issues|0 Comments

The Tin Man

In The Wizard of Oz, the children’s tale and famous movie, our four heroes all want something from the great Wizard. Dorothy wants to go home. The Lion wants courage. The Scarecrow wants a brain, and the Tin Man wants a heart. Today, it seems that we all need a heart. We need empathy.

Israel- Hamas War

The Land of Canaan

This is really a small strip of land on the eastern Mediterranean. This piece of land is mentioned in the Torah. This land is mentioned in the Bible. This land is even mentioned in the Koran. After World War II, an area was carved out of this land to create the state of Israel. Israel is surrounded by Lebanon and Syria to the north, Jordan to the east, and Egypt to its south. The Mediterranean Ocean is to its west.

On October 7, Hamas, a Palestinian militant group funded by Iran, based in Gaza, attacked Israel on multiple fronts. They launched rockets (over 3,000 of them). They used paragliders to get deep into Israeli territory. They used cars, trucks, and motorcycles to attack outlying Israeli communities. They even attacked a military base. They killed men, women, and children. They killed Israeli soldiers as well as police officers.

The purpose of the attack was to cause chaos and panic. They killed over 1,300 Israelis. They also took over 200 people hostage. Then, they disappeared back into Gaza.

The Israeli response was predictable. They vowed to destroy, eliminate, and extinguish any remnants of Hamas. For the next 2-½ weeks, Israel bombed and shelled northern Gaza. This was followed by a slow and methodical ground invasion. Millions of people have been herded from the north to the south. There has been a small humanitarian corridor opened between Egypt and Gaza, but only a few trucks of humanitarian aid have entered Gaza. This is allowing some small fraction of the aid that is truly needed.

This is a disaster of epic proportions. Most Americans would agree that Israel has a right to exist and has a right to defend itself. On the other hand, it seems to me that Palestinians have a right to freedom and autonomy as well. However, the stated goal of Israel is to eliminate Hamas.

Don’t know how you do that? I have no idea. I know we tried to eliminate the Taliban 20 years ago. How did that work out?

The reality is that it is nearly impossible to eliminate a group of militants who blend in with the local people. This is a fact. Think of the Viet Cong during our war in Vietnam. Unless you’re willing to eliminate all the local people, every last one of them—and that’s called genocide—I don’t know how you eliminate only the militants. According to some estimates, there have already been over 8,000 Palestinians killed.

How many of them were militants? How many were innocent bystanders? How many of them were families in the wrong place at the wrong time? How many of them were in “safe shelters” where they had gone for refuge?

I don’t know, and I doubt any government knows, either. What I do know is this: If you have a heart, if you have empathy, it seems like we must pray for and work for peace.

Another Mass Shooting

A 40-year-old American went into a bowling alley and then into a bar. (No, this isn’t a joke.) He opened fire and killed 18 people and wounded another 13. The weapon used appears to be an AK-47. The perpetrator had a psychotic break of some sort.

Sooner or later, we have to say enough! We’ve seen enough shootings and gun violence in this country. We need universal healthcare. We need more psychologists and psychiatrists. We need more mental health institutions. With universal healthcare, people who are struggling can get the help that they need.

And there are simply too many guns. They are too easy to obtain.

We need stricter gun laws. We need better background checks. There should be a 14-day waiting period. We need to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We need to be able to keep guns out of the hands of people who are struggling with severe mental illness.

This shouldn’t be hard. This is not a slippery slope. I have no desire to take everybody’s gun. I simply want to make America a safer place. I would like to live in a country with less gun violence. We need better mental health therapy.

If you have a heart… if you have empathy, you know we must fix our gun violence problem. People who love guns and people who hate guns need to come together. We can figure this out!

By |2024-01-14T23:23:43-04:00January 14th, 2024|Civil Rights, Israel, Mass Shooting, Party Politics|0 Comments

No Abortion in Texas

So, it looks like I need to get out of my comfort zone. I usually pull something together once a month on this blog. I have been writing this blog for close to 15 years. I have gotten into a comfortable routine where I write kind of a summary of the month’s activities in one relatively long blog post.

Events have caused me to change my routine. A woman from Texas is pregnant. This in of itself is not news. She has been told by her doctors that her fetus has some sort of defect (trisomy 18) and will not live. As a matter of fact, her doctors told her that carrying this baby to term may endanger her life and, if she survives the ordeal, may impair her ability to ever have children again. She opted for an abortion.

In Texas, abortions have become illegal. Abortions are not kind of illegal. They are seriously illegal in the state of Texas. There are no exceptions. There is no exception for incest. There is no exception for rape. So, this woman decided to petition the court to allow her to have an abortion. A lower court said that she could have the abortion. Immediately, the state Attorney General Ken Paxton stated that any doctor who performed an abortion on this person would be criminally liable and would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It was only a couple of days later when the Texas Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision and stated that she could not have an abortion in the state of Texas.

I find this whole ordeal extremely infuriating. If you believe in freedom and you believe that women should have the same rights as men, this decision should make you angry, too. This decision is not about protecting children. This decision, this law, is about making women subordinate to men. It is about men telling women what they can and cannot do. This is about rolling the clock back to the 1940s and 1950s when women had to ask their spouse if they could buy a car, if they could buy a house, or if they could get a loan.

If you don’t want an abortion, then do not get one. You do not have the right to force your religious beliefs on other Americans.

This is a medical decision. It should be between a patient and her caring doctor. I’m sorry. If the men would stand up and be responsible, then women would include you in the decision. If you are here today and gone tomorrow, you don’t have any rights. None.

If the Texas GOP cared about children, they would fund Child Care, but they don’t. If they cared about children, then they would fund early childhood education. They don’t care. I hope and pray that the women of Texas are paying attention. The Texas GOP wants you barefoot and pregnant. That’s it.

Elections matter. Remember that Trump appointed 3 Supreme Court Justices who helped overturn Roe vs. Wade. If Roe was still intact, we wouldn’t have this problem. We must fix the Supreme Court. WE MUST!

By |2023-12-24T17:17:28-04:00December 13th, 2023|Healthcare, Party Politics|0 Comments
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