What to Say – (For Valentine’s Day) – from the Poetry archive

Woman Beach And Sea

What do you say
when she asks
“How do I know you love me?”

Don’t say
“I don’t;
I only love your ass.”

Don’t say
“You have to ask?”
She does; she just did.

“You should know by now”
doesn’t work.
Simply because she doesn’t.

“I’m still here in the morning”
is much too snarky
for someone you love.

You live with her questions, her insecurities
her doubts; you try to help
but know you can’t.

You can no more assuage her doubt
than explain why a sock is lost
or why the sky is blue.

“You will know I love you
when you leave me; watch me from afar;
then you will know”.

.

————————————————————

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Guns and “Law Abiding Citizens.”

Well it was just about a week ago that I wrote about guns, mass shootings in America and ammo-sexuals.

I posted about wo mass shootings; one killing ten in California and another eleven shot at a club in Louisiana.  Just another weekend.

On Jan. 5, eight lives were claimed in a shooting in a small town in Utah.  A few days later, five were shot in a home in North Carolina.  And just one week later, six people, including a 10-month-old baby and a 16-year-old mother, were fatally shot in California.

In the first month of 2023, there have been at least 52 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass shootings in which there are four or more victims.

Last week 11 persons were wounded in a drive-by in Lakeland, Florida just one railroad stop outside of Tampa.  Then, before the first month of the year came to an end, a gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle at a Target store in Nebraska on Tuesday.

The U.S. has seen more than 600 mass shootings every year since 2020, averaging almost two shootings a day. We are a country that has more guns than people in it.

Here in the Gunshine state, no one knows how many guns there are.  Florida law does not require licensing of firearm purchasers or registration of the weapons, only mandating that concealed weapons must be permitted. This means data is only kept for concealed firearms, which also means nobody really knows how many unconcealed firearms there are.

Florida is currently #2 (at 35%) in percentage of households with gun ownership though data is woefully incomplete.   Since no one knows how many guns not covered by a concealed carry permit there are, the percentage certainly much higher.

Colonel DeSantis is now supporting the “Constitutional Carry” bill which would eliminate the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a weapon into your local Walmart or car dealership.  The bill would also eliminate any requirement for training in how to use a weapon.

Great.  More about this later.

How many legally purchased guns are used in crimes?  An ATM report in 2021 says 54% of guns recovered at crime scenes were legally purchased with almost 35,000 acquired legally in Florida and recovered at crime scenes in other states.

Do those god-fearing, law-abiding citizens who walk into a gun shop and buy a weapon commit crimes ith them?  The gun lobby says “of course not.”

Ehh, well.

The suspects in the shootings atthe Uvalde, Texas, elementary school and the Buffalo, New York, supermarket were both just 18, authorities say, when they bought the weapons used in the attacks — too young to legally purchase alcohol or cigarettes, but old enough to arm themselves with assault-style weapons.

Samuel James Cassidy legally purchased the three 9 mm handguns he used to kill co-workers and then himself in May 2021 at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard.  He also stockpiled a dozen guns and 25,000 rounds of ammunition at his home.  He would have been “red flagged” and has his guns taken away if U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had advised the D.A of a “significant encounter” with Cassidy on his return from the Philippines.  But they didn’t.  He was bat-shit crazy.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa legally bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol, a semi-automatic weapon with a capacity of up to 30 rounds, six days before the shooting at King Soopers grocery store, killing 10 people in Boulder, Colorado. Alissa was prone to sudden rage and was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to probation for attacking a high school classmate.  The misdemeanor conviction would have prevented him from purchasing a weapon but days before a judge struck down Boulder’s restrictions on automatic weapons and local gun laws.  Ahmad bought his gun legally and was then found incompetent to stand trial.

Robert Aaron Long purchased a 9 mm handgun just hours before going on a shooting rampage at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area. He said he had a “sex addiction” and hated women.  He had spent time in a mental institution.  A lawyer for the gun shop said it complied with federal background check laws. Many addictions will prevent one from buying a weapon – but not his.  Georgia, like the majority of states, has no waiting period to obtain a gun.

Seth Aaron Ator purchased an AR-style rifle through a private sale, allowing him to evade a federal background check, and fired it indiscriminately from his car into passing vehicles and shopping plazas inMidland, Texas. He also hijacked a mail truck, killing the driver. Ator had been blocked from getting a gun in 2014 after his background check was flagged because a court determined he was mentally ill. Private sales, which account for up to 40% of all gun sales according to some estimates, are not subject to a federal background check and private sellers aren’t required to determine if a buyer is eligible to own a gun. Ator was killed by police.

Connor Betts was suspended in high school for compiling a “hit list” and a “rape list,” but authorities said nothing in his background prevented him from purchasing the AR-15-style pistol used in the killing of nine at Ned Peppers Bar in Dayton, Ohio. Ohio law requires that sealed records of any juvenile crimes be expunged either after five years or once the offender turns 23. Betts, who was 24 at the time of the shooting, bought the gun online from a Texas dealer. It was then shipped to a Dayton-area firearms dealer, in accordance with federal law. Betts was killed by police.

Former Virginia Beach city employee DeWayne Craddock legally purchased six firearms in the three years before he opened fire on a municipal building, killing 12.  An independent review of the shooting, commissioned by the City of Virginia Beach, found that Craddock displayed no warning signs or “prohibited behaviors associated with a pathway to violence,” and that he had no known history of mental health treatment. Craddock was killed by police.

Robert Gregory Bowers had a carry license and legally owned the Colt AR-15 SP1 and three Glock .357 handguns police said he used to kill 11 worshipers at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after having spent months posting rants aganst Jews on-line.

Read enough?  We are ALL “law-abiding citizens” – until we’re not.

We’re gonna do SOMETHING about guns, this time. right?

Well, Colonel DeSantis is ready relieve Floridians of the requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit for a legally purchased firearm.  No training or registration.  Just buy your gun from a dealer or at at a gun show (no background check required) and put it in your pocket.

Take it to Publix or Walmart.  Get hard.

Excellent approach after Orlando, Parkland and Lakeland.

Finally, in Texas a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the government can’t stop people who have domestic violence restraining orders against them from owning guns — the latest domino to fall after the U.S. Supreme Court’s “conservative’  morons set new standards for reviewing the nation’s gun laws.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a new ruling in a case known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That case set new standards for interpreting the Second Amendment by saying the government had to justify gun control laws by showing they are “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

You know.  Like 18th century.  Brilliant legal scholars, my ass. My daughter would make a better Supreme Court justice than these 5 sitting clowns.

As for the ladies, now nervous about your ex being able to buy a gun, my suggestion?

Buy one yourself and learn how to use it.

 

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Valentween!

Vampira and Bela Lugosi

22″X 28″ poster board

Done in soft pastel chalk, Magic Marker and colored pencil.

Each year as Valentine’s Day approaches, the St. Petersburg art community hosts the Valentween art show with the theme always a mixture of Valentine love and Halloween spookiness.

This year’s theme is Vampires!

Pam decided to enter this year.   Rob is doing well and she has begun to take up her chalks again.  “Vampira and Bela Lugosi” was done these last few weeks in her spare time specifically for the show.  Love, lust and Halloween.

She will also enter a piece previously seen here when Rob got ill last summer.

Rob is doing quite well and after four rounds of chemo a complete scan could identify no living cancer cells.  He will have another scan in three months.  He had his first meeting with the prosthysis techies and will begin measurements as he has now been cleared by the wound care specialist.  His amputated leg has completely healed and he got to ring the bell.

They are getting around well, go to movies, see their amateur theater friends and shop.  Pam texted that they had a “romantic dinner” at a restaurant last week   She said it was so good to see him sitting opposite her across the table.  Rob is having little difficulty in getting around with a walker and is quite adept in his wheelchair.  Pam has returned to her art.

Life is beginning to settle into the new normalcy.

Please, no invitations for Thanksgiving this year.  Pam, Rob, Marie, Clark and I will be cruising to the Bahamas.

🙂

.Happier days will be here again.

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R.I.P. – Tyre Nichols

;

This video shows footage of body camera and surveillance camera footage released from Memphis police in January 2023 following the death of Tyre Nichols. Four videos, three of individual police body camera footage and one of surveillance footage, show officers’ interactions with Tyre Nichols following a traffic stop. First he’s pulled from his vehicle, then struck with a stun gun. Officers chase Nichols, and when they reach him, they wrestle him to the ground, spray him in the face with pepper spray and beat him with a baton. Nichols died days later. The five officers involved are charged with murder in Nichols'”

Watch the entire video.  It is available only on Youtube as some might find it “offensive” what with violence and cuss words and all.

You should find it offensive.  After years of BLM and talk of the need for “police reform” we have come to this right before our eyes.  Another “elite unit” formed to fight “street crime” serving and protecting the neighborhood murders a man stopped for “reckless driving.”  There is no evidence that he even did that.  None.  That story was made up to justify the stop.  He was going home to his momma.

I guess the SCORPION unit had a quota to make.

.

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Tales You Won’t Hear in Florida Schools – #2

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Stories You Won’t Hear in Florida Schools

Once upon a time (1826) a slave girl was born in Clinton, Georgia to a mixed-race slave mother owned by a wealthy planter, Major James Smith.  Our Major Smith is the father of the little girl. He was married with girls of his own.  Nonetheless, like many slave masters married or not, he would occasionally visit the slave quarters and exercise his property rights.  His wife knew of course, but simply turned a blind eye.

Today we would call it rape.  But not in Georgia in 1826.

Let us call the little slave girl Ellen.   Ellen was very fair, (she was probably 3/4 European) and resembled her white half-siblings, her slave owner’s legitimate children. Smith’s wife gave the 11-year-old Ellen as a wedding gift to her daughter Eliza Cromwell Smith, Ellen’s half-sister to get the girl out of the household and remove the evidence of her husband’s infidelity.

After Eliza Smith married Dr. Robert Collins, she took Ellen with her half-sister to live in the city of Macon where they made their home.  Ellen grew up as a house servant to Eliza, which gave her privileged access to information about the area.

In Macon at the time was a 16 year old slave called William.  He met Ellen when his first owner sold him to settle gambling debts. Before he was sold, William witnessed his 14-year-old sister and each of his parents being separated by sales to different owners. William’s new master apprenticed him as a carpenter and allowed him to work for fees, taking most of his earnings.  

Ellen’s owner Dr. Collins had a half interest in William. At the age of 20 Ellen married William, now to be known as William Craft.

Craft saved money from being hired out in town as a carpenter. Not wanting to have a family in slavery, during the Christmas season of 1848 the couple planned an escape.

Taking advantage of her light skin, she would kye her hair, acquire the proper clothes and dress as a man accompanied by her servant, William.

Together they planned their escape north.  She dressed as a man since, at the time, it was not customary for a white woman to travel alone with a male slave.  It was however quite common for a southern gentleman to travel with his servant.

She also faked illness to limit conversation, as she was prevented from learning to read and write with the threat of death because she was enslaved. William was to act as personal servant while she impersonated a man.

During their escape, they traveled on first-class trains, stayed in the best hotels, and Ellen dined one evening with a steamboat captain. Ellen dyed her hair and bought appropriate clothes to pass as a young man, traveling in a jacket and trousers. William used his earnings as a cabinet-maker to buy clothes for Ellen to appear as a free white man. William cut her hair to add to her manly appearance. Ellen also practiced the correct gestures and behavior. She wore her right arm in a sling to hide the fact that she could not write. She muffled her face and coughed regularly to keep folks away and from starting conversations.  They traveled to nearby Macon for a train to Savannah. Although the Crafts had several close calls along the way, they were successful in evading detection. On December 21, they boarded a steamship for Philadelphia, in the free state of Pennsylvania, where they arrived early on the morning of Christmas Day.

Their innovation was in escaping as a pair, though it was Ellen’s bravery and genius which made their escape successful.

Soon after the Crafts’ arrival in the North, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison encouraged them to recount their escape in public lectures to abolitionist circles of New England. They moved to the well-established free black community on the north side of Beacon Hill in Boston, where they were married in a Christian ceremony. Ellen Craft posed in her escape clothes for a photograph. It was widely distributed by abolitionists as part of their campaign against slavery.

During the next two years, the Crafts made numerous public appearances to recount their escape and speak against slavery.   It was a time when women generally did not speak to mixed public audiences.  William would tell their story and Ellen would stand with him on stage.  In April, 1849 she took the stage on her own speaking to 900 abolitionists in Newburyport, Massachusetts to thundering applause.   There was great public interest in the young woman who had been so bold.

And they lived happily ever after.

No.  Not yet.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which increased penalties for aiding fugitive slaves and required residents and law enforcement of free states to cooperate in capturing and returning formerly enslaved people to their owners. The act provided for a reward to officers and simplified the process by which people might be certified as slaves.

A month after the new law was effective, Dr. Collins sent two bounty hunters to Boston to capture the Crafts.  Upon arriving in Boston they were met with resistance by both white and black Bostonians. Abolitionists in Boston had formed the biracial Boston Vigilance Committee to resist the new Slave Bill; its members protected the Crafts by moving them around various “safe houses” until they could leave the country. The two bounty hunters, regularly facing rock throwing abolitionists finally gave up and returned to the south. Collins then appealed to the President, Millard Fillmore, asking him to intervene so he could regain his “property”. The President agreed that the Crafts should be returned to their enslavers in the South and authorized the use of military force if necessary to take them.

It was time to flee again. This time through Maine to Halifax where the couple sailed to Liverpool and freedom, notwithstanding Britain had a King.  “They were aided in England by a group of prominent abolitionists, including Wilson Armistead, with whom they were residing in Leeds when the census was taken in 1851 and who recorded his guests as “fugitive slaves”,and Harriet Martineau who arranged for their intensive schooling at the village school in Ockham, Surrey.”

Southerners claimed that Ellen regretted her flight ot England  Having quickly learned to read and write, Ellen replied in the abolitionist press:

So I write these few lines merely to say that the statement is entirely unfounded, for I have never had the slightest inclination whatever of returning to bondage; and God forbid that I should ever be so false to liberty as to prefer slavery in its stead. In fact, since my escape from slavery, I have gotten much better in every respect than I could have possibly anticipated. Though, had it been to the contrary, my feelings in regard to this would have been just the same, for I had much rather starve in England, a free woman, than be a slave for the best man that ever breathed upon the American continent.

— Anti-Slavery Advocate, December 1852

The Crafts spent 19 years in England, where they had five children together. Ellen participated in the London Emancipation Committee, the Women’s Suffrage Organization, and the British and Foreign Freedmen’s Society.  After the end of the Civil War Ellen located her mother Maria in Georgia; she paid for her passage to England, where they were reunited.

In 1868, after the American Civil War and passage of constitutional amendments granting emancipation, citizenship and rights to freedmen, the Crafts returned with three of their children to the United States. They raised funds from supporters, and in 1870 they bought 1800 acres of land in Georgia.

They lived and worked there for 22 years until moving to Charleston to live with their daughter Eliza  who was married to Dr. William D. Crum. He was appointed Collector of the Port of Charleston by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Ellen Craft died in 1891, and her widower William on January 29, 1900.

  • In 1996, Ellen Craft was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement.
  • Their life, accomplishments, and history are displayed at the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Georgia
  • In September 2018, at the village of Ockham, Surrey, where they found refuge, a sign commemorating their escape was unveiled at an event attended by their great-great-grandson Christopher Clark and other descendants.
  • Their residence in Hammersmith, London is commemorated by a blue plaque on the wall of the newly named Craft Court.

Your kids in Florida schools will never hear this.

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On Religion and the Belief in Myths

Snake Handlers

Ever get “followers” who never leave a “like?”  Never leave a comment, New subscribers who, if they even have a blog, put up posts completely antithetical to your beliefs?

I’ve had a few.  One in particular.  I regularly remove him my followers list and he just keeps coming back.  He is a Christian fascist.  Never leaves a like or a comment.

I remove him because nothing good can come out of his subscription.  He posts that the Democrats are  “communists,” the “Bidens are pedophiles” and Dems want to take away our guns “so you cannot defend yourself, your friends or your home.”  The Dems are trying to make guns “look evil.”

Now why would this bat shit crazy Christian fascist follow my blog?  Not to perhaps leanr something.  Nope.  Not for anything good.

He will be removed again today.

While Christian fascism appears to be growing in our government circles, fact is churches are closing at at increasing rate here in the U.S.  We are beginning to see the trend long present in Europe and Canada since the 1960s.  The number of atheists, agnostics and unaffiliated to a church has never been greater.

Congregations dwindle across the country as a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics.  As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The situation means some hard decisions for pastors, who have to decide when a dwindling congregation is no longer sustainable. But it has also created a boom market for those wanting to buy churches, with former houses of worship now finding new life.

About 4,500 Protestant churches closed in 2019, the last year data is available, with about 3,000 new churches opening, according to Lifeway Research. It was the first time the number of churches in the US hadn’t grown since the evangelical firm started studying the topic. With the pandemic speeding up a broader trend of Americans turning away from Christianity, researchers say the closures will only have accelerated.

“In the last three years, all signs are pointing to a continued pace of closures probably similar to 2019 or possibly higher, as there’s been a really rapid rise in American individuals who say they’re not religious.”

Protestant pastors reported that typical church attendance is only 85% of pre-pandemic levels.  There is a broader, long-running trend of people moving away from religion. In 2017 Lifeway surveyed young adults aged between 18 and 22 who had attended church regularly, for at least a year during high school. The firm found that seven out of 10 had stopped attending church regularly.

What is the top reason young adults who formerly attended church have stopped going?  Church members seem to be judgmental or hypocritical.”  About a quarter of the young adults who dropped out of church said they disagreed with their church’s stance on political and social issues.

“Since the 1990s, large numbers of Americans have left Christianity to join the growing ranks of US adults who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’.”.

“This accelerating trend is reshaping the US religious landscape.”

In 1972 92% of Americans said they were Christian, but by 2070 that number will drop to below 50% – and the number of “religiously unaffiliated” Americans – or ‘nones’ will probably outnumber those adhering to Christianity.”

Which group in America do you think is the most marginalized and under represented?  Blacks? Asians, Muslims, native Americans, LGBTQ, trans-gender?

Nope.

There is not one “out” member of Congress who will admit to being as atheist or agnostic.  Not one openly ran as an atheist.  Yet some four percent of Americans call themselves atheists while an additional five percent define themselves as agnostic. Not only do these folks not attend church; they don’t believe any of it either.

In Europe, 25% of Czechs are openly atheist. Meanwhile religion has had a string of victories lately at the Supreme Court – you know – you don’t have to do it if a “sincerely held” religious belief.  There are so many of these lately!

I am not a believer.  But I’m not in your face about it.  I simply live quietly and without religion.   I try to convince no one.  I try to live rationally – for I believe that this is all there is – this time; this moment.

None of my family are church-goers.  My parents weren’t either.  Mom spent her teen years in an orphanage run by Benedictine nuns. When she got out at 18 she never went to church again.  She insisted her 3 sons attend public schools.  My in-laws were not church goers.  In fact, I only know one person who attended church regularly.  At least she did several years ago.  I don’t know if she still does.

Two childhood friends attended seminary to become priests and both left after a couple of years.  They never said why but I suspect it was the presence of rampant homosexuality.

I no more believe in a Christian god any more than I believe in Zeus or Appollo.    When I was a kid it seemed obvious to me that where you were born and what religion your parents practiced determined your own “beliefs”.  As an Italian there was a good chance I was going to be Catholic.  Had I been born in Saudi Arabia there is a really good chance I would have been a Muslim.  If in India most likely a Hindu.  If my parents had been Jews, I would be Jewish.

Religion is culture and myth; “truth” had nothing to do with it.

As I got some scientific learning it dawned on me early on that each of the major religions had a “book”, each written by men thousands of years ago; men who had no idea why the sun rose in the morning.  The earliest civilizations gave explanations for those things they could not understand – it was the Gods that made the sun rise and the crops grow.

The Egyptians did it in a big way.  And the Egyptians were the first to live for the “after life”.

Now I have not studied “theology”; because other than from a perspective of the history of religion I think it’s a waste of time – kind of like arguing over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin – which assumes of course the existence of angels.  Arguing with a “learned theologian” is pointless; they have faith.  I do not.

Is there something to take from religion?  Well, yes.

I believe that Jesus was a great teacher worth emulating.  The world would be a much better place if we all, including the Christians acted like him.  That is enough for me.  Do I believe that he is literally the son of God and rose from the dead?  No.  No more than I believe that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ under the appearance of a wafer.

The history of Christianity is filled with instances of endeavoring to “clarify” belief.  Was Christ the “son” of God, created by God, thus less than God?   Of course not.  Otherwise Christians would not be monotheists.  He was “begotten, not made.”  See Council of Nicaea, 325 A. D. and Arianism.

Muslims ask “Why does God need a son anyway?”

The Protestants brought up predestination.  If God is God, he (or she) knows whether or not you will be saved.  If God doesn’t know then it is not God.  In fact, God should know well in advance, before you were even created.

So where does “free will” come into play?  The Dutch figured God knows who will be going to heaven and rewards the “chosen” with great financial success and happiness.  Thus if you were successful in business and life, you would be a regular church goer.

When I die, I will not see my girl again, my sons, my mom and dad, my brother.  We will not meet on that beautiful shore; there is no beautiful shore any more than there is a River Styx.   Best to love them while you are here.

I am 80 years old. Thirteen and a half billion years went by before the dawn of my consciousness; thirteen and a half billion years will go by just as quickly after the lights go out.

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Another Weekend in America

Well it’s Monday and it was just another weekend in America.

Two mass shootings; one killing ten in California and another eleven shot at a club in Louisiana. I used to write about these events but they have become so common one cannot keep up.

After Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, Isla Vista, Parkland Uvalde, Buffalo, Pulse and now Monterey Park, it gets to be hard to remember details. I would have to read the posts again.

The mass shooting that left at least 10 people dead in Monterey Park, Calif., on Saturday night is the deadliest in the United States since the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, last May, when 19 children and two teachers were killed.

Saturday’s shooting is also the second major attack in less than a week in California. Last Monday, gunmen killed six people in Tulare County, Calif., including a 16-year-old and her 10-month-old child, in a shooting that the police said was probably gang-related.

There is no consensus on what constitutes a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of government, nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, defines a mass shooting as involving at least four people killed or injured.

By that measure, there have been 33 mass shootings so far in 2023, according to the group. That’s 33.  And January isn’t over.

Gun Violence Archive counted 648 mass shootings last year, 21 of which involved five or more fatalities.  No point writing about it. No one in Congress proposes anything to try to do anything to stop the violence and the availability of firearms to just about anyone.  No one even talks about it.  I haven’t even heard “thoughts and prayers” lately.

There are more concealed guns walking around Walmart on a Saturday afternoon than in half of London.  We no longer give the finger to some driver who cuts us off on the parkway. We open fire.

Oh well.  Says a lot about American society.  “Today’s America is extremely anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-rational, unreflective, impulsive, narcissistic and juvenile. Such a dynamic breeds fascism, authoritarianism, fake populism, white supremacy, misogyny, violence, and a larger culture of cruelty and debasement that does not value or elevate human dignity and human respect.”

We no longer have a shared reality or sense of knowledge, truth or facts.  These are the prerequisites for the rise of neo-fascism and authoritarianism; antidemocratic forces mainstreamed by Trump and continue to grow in power and influence.

“More than half of all Americans cannot read at a sixth-grade level. High quality primary and secondary public education, as well as the college and university system — which should create citizens who are capable of critical thinking and acting as responsible members of a democratic community — have been systematically targeted for destruction by the Republican Party and “conservative” movement.”

Neo-fascists now control the House of Representatives.  We can’t afford to believe otherwise.  Of course, you will never see such a statement in the main-stream media.  Half the House still peddles the lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” and that the January 6 insurrectionists were “patriots.”

Meanwhile George Santos continues to sit in the House and now has two Committee assignments.  What has he lied about?

His mother’s death: Santos said on his campaign website that his mother, Fatima Devolder, was “in the South Tower” on 9/11 and later succumbed to cancer, but she said on a green card application filed in 2003 she had not been in the U.S. since 1999,

A hefty salary: Santos claimed he made a $750,000 salary and up to $10 million in dividends between 2021 and 2022 through a company he founded in 2021 called the Devolder Organization, according to his most recent financial disclosure–but reported making only $55,000 during his 2020 campaign for Congress.

A career selling yachts: Santos has stated that he made money by brokering luxury purchases, like a “$20 million yacht,” for wealthy clients, but refused to provide the media with a client list or details about the alleged contracts.

A real estate empire: Santos claimed he owned a $1 million apartment in Brazil and said on the campaign trail his family owned 13 real estate properties, but he later told the New York Post he does not own any real estate properties and is living with his sister at her apartment in Queens, where she’s allegedly facing eviction for $40,000 in unpaid rent.

His inflated resume: Santos claimed he attended the prestigious Horace Mann prep school before graduating summa cum laude from Baruch College with a 3.89 GPA, scoring a 710 on his GMAT exam and earning a master’s degree in international business from New York University–but later admitted to the New York Post he never graduated from college, while a Horace Mann spokesperson told The Times there were no records of him attending.

An early Wall Street career: Santos confessed to The New York Post that he embellished claims of working directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, blaming the lies on “a poor choice of words.”

An animal rescue charity: Santos said he founded and owned an animal rescue charity called Friends of Pets United, but after The Times found no IRS documents to back up Santos’ claim, he changed his story to say he only campaigned for the charity and helped find foster homes for the animals.  He is accused by a veteran of defrauding him of $3,000 which was raised on a GoFundMe page so that his dog could have life-saving surgery.

Ties to the Pulse nightclub shooting: Santos admitted that he fabricated his claim that he “lost” four employees in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, explaining in a recent WABC radio interview with disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), that he was in the process of hiring the four victims.

His “Jewish” heritage: Santos claimed on his campaign website that his maternal grandparents fled Ukraine to escape anti-Jewish persecution during World War II but confessed to the New York Post that he is not Jewish and identifies as “Jew-ish,” while genealogy records reviewed by The Forward show his maternal grandparents were both born in Brazil.

His marriage: Santos, who claims to be the first openly gay non-incumbent GOP representative elected to Congress, never disclosed his marriage to a woman, The Daily Beast reported, citing records that show the pair were divorced less than two weeks before he launched his 2020 campaign for Congress.

His criminal background: After the Times uncovered Brazilian court records showing Santos was charged with check fraud in 2008 for allegedly stealing a man’s checkbook and using it to make fraudulent purchases, Brazilian prosecutors announced they would reopen the case.

A stint as a drag queen: Santos initially denied claims made by two acquaintances that he performed as a drag queen in Brazil, despite his support for socially conservative policies, but after one of them produced a photo that appears to show Santos dressed in drag, he told reporters on Saturday, “I was young and I had fun at a festival,” while continuing to dispute that he was ever a “drag queen.”

It is fair to say I could walk into the food court of any shopping mall in America and find a candidate more suited to the office in 15 minutes.

Will the GOP expel him from Congress?

Hell no.  McCarthy has a majority of only 4 seats and can’t afford to lose anyone of them.  The Governor of New York says she will call a new election if he is expelled.  So the Majority Leader he will keep this no character liar in the House simply for his vote.

Where was the media expose about this guy BEFORE the election?

The saddest part of all this is that I simply don’t recognize my country anymore.

Info on George Santos from an article in Forbes magazine by Sara Dorn

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Health Care Scams

Last June I was having some intestinal issues and after discussion with my doctor on the phone I proceeded to the emergency room of my local hospital.  I met with a physician for about fifteen minutes, gave blood and urine for testing, had an IV put into me for fluid and eventually had a CAT scan of my abdomen.  I was there in the waiting room for maybe 3 hours.  Doctor came out, told me there were no blockages, it was nothing serious and prescribed two weeks-worth of medication.

Toritto and Medicare then received a billing from the ER for $28,857!!

Now any medical facility or doctor who serves a Medicare patient has agreed in advance to accept the amount that Medicare pays in full settlement.  Medicare can decide the amount for services through the medical code system; it then pays 80% and my supplemental insurance with Blue Cross pays the remaining 20%.  The private insurance which pays 20% costs me more than my Medicare plan.

The invoice billing had about $4,500 in blood and urine tests.  The remaining $24,313 was for the CAT scan!  Laughable!

Well all of the services provided were approved, relieving me of any liability to the hospital.

Medicare paid and the ER accepted $443.50 in full settlement.

Why bill $28K+ and settle for less than $500?  Probably because private health insurance companies negotiate EVERYTHING.  Providers therefore ask for outrageous amounts for services knowing full well its a negotiation to get paid.

Medicare however publishes these settlements in advance and providers know what they are going to receive in payment.

With private insurance however the game is different.  Suppose your policy has a $5,000 deductible.  Your insurer would be in a position to pay a more attractive settlement to the provider than Medicare would have paid while sticking the patient with $5,000 of the settlement offer.

Nice.  Who the hell knows what an uninsured patient will owe.  Will he receive a $24,000 bill?  The issue becomes one of transparency.  One never knows what the bill is gonna be and there are very few ways to find out in advance.

Last month I received a bill from some radiology doctor I never met for $875. I can only presume that somewhere along the way he looked at the at the CAT scan or was somewhere in the vicinity having coffee while I was on the table.  The bill came from some medical billing company in Indianapolis 6 months after the event.  Doctors don’t even bother collecting their own bills anymore.

So I contacted Medicare (by far the best government entity I have ever dealt with) and it turns out the bill was never submitted.  The billing company clearly hoped the old man would simply pay it.

So I called them up and asked if the bill had been submitted.  “Oh no!  We’re sorry”.

Why didn’t the bill get submitted?  Because Medicare authorized $85.  The government paid 80% and my private insurance covered the remainder.  But not until I got a bill for $17 which my private insurance had already paid.  Seems to me like a nice way to make a few extra bucks from old people.  Bill ’em first and see it they pay.

If hospitals were paid at Medicare rates they would have received $19.7 billion less in revenue between 2016 – 18.  Every year, Medicare issues a fee schedule that determines how much the federal insurance program will reimburse hospitals for specific services.

Any hospital or physician who accepts Medicare agrees to accept Medicare rates in full settlement no matter what they bill.  If Medicare turns down a payment for service  I am not responsible.  Usually, a decline is based on a need for the hospital to provide more information.

How does Medicare get away with paying less? “Medicare doesn’t negotiate rates. It sets them.”   How?  Because it the largest insurer by far with tens of milions of insured patients.

And doctors might be okay getting less per procedure because Medicare patients tend to need a lot of care. As a result, the total bill can add up. Nearly 4,000 doctors were paid more than $1 million from Medicare, according to data released this month.

So why is Medicare considered “bloated?”

Because people use it more.  In 2020 I spent about a month in a hospital with surgery to remove my spleen.  Half that time was in an ICU>

I never got a bill.

The GOP is already ranting about cutting “social entitlement” programs.

For all of you fools getting your info in the Fox News bubble, they mean you.  I ain’t worried.  There won’t be any cuts to existing programs.  It’s you MAGAs rubes around 45 years old who will not get what I have.

You know who you are.  Like me, you paid more to the IRS than Donald Trump did for 4 years while living comfortably in his tower.

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Romans. Gladiators and Football

Well its football playoff time here in the U.S. of A. and the screaming, fanatical fans are packing the stadiums to watch two teams bludgeon each other for 60 violent minutes so that one of them can move on to the next round. The ultimate prize?  A Super-Bowl appearance.

The Super Bowl was originally called the NFL Championship game but became the Super Bowl because, well. everything in the 6 0s was just “super.”

Lately, while watching games on TV, I have begun to have visions of Romans in the Coliseum, screaming bloody blue murder, supporting their favorite gladiator.  All we need is Russell Crowe.  Our football spectacle has everything but the sword and trident.  It seems Roman to the core.

It certainly has the violence.  It is not simply a contact sport.  It is a collision sport, statistically more dangerous than boxing or rugby, which is played without pads.  Sure, many sports are dangerous.  Alpine skiing.  Auto racing. Rock climbing.  Even cheerleading.  Football, however, is where the big money is.  BIG money.

As everyone reading this undoubtedly knows, on the aborted Jan. 2 edition of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” Buffalo Bills star safety Damar Hamlin made a clean tackle against a Cincinnati Bengals receiver, and then collapsed seconds later from commotio cordis, or percussion-induced cardiac arrest.

For what seemed like forever doctors worked to restore a heartbeat until an ambulance arrived onto the field to transport Hamlin to a local hospital.  The crowd was stunned silent; the remainder of the game cancelled.

The media was initially horrified, but then came the “feel good” sequel.  Hamlin made an amazing recovery, has been discharged from the hospital and is recuperating at home.

One month and a day before Hamlin came frighteningly close to becoming the second in-game fatality in NFL history, he was ejected from the Amazon Prime Thursday night game for an illegal hit on New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. See it for yourself on YouTube. Hamlin blasted Meyers helmet-to-helmet, preventing a touchdown catch in the end zone.

Hamlin was disqualified from the remainder of the game for “unnecessary roughness.” This is all part of the illusion of “making the game safer” marketed by the owners and the NFL.  Like it or not however, football is deadly.  It was designed to be deadly.

In Hamlin’s first play he hit his opponent helmet to helmet which is now forbidden by “safety” rules. He was ejected from the game.  New rules require tackles to be basically “heads up.”  In the subsequent near-fatal incident this is exactly what Hamlin did, dutifully following the recently emphasized “heads up” tackling doctrine (which is already almost always impossible to execute at game speed). The result left him unconscious on the field, without a pulse, seconds or minutes from death.

Commotio cordis is not an everyday occurrence in football, but it happens, and it was bound to play out sooner or later, in an NFL prime-time game. But the manufacturers of commercial solutions to football violence — such as better helmets, are really selling something which is no more effective than better mousetraps.  The helmet makers and owners want us to focus on only one aspect of football harm.

Concussions.

Yet “there have been at least a dozen football deaths, below the professional level, from chest-trauma cardiac events.  Additionally, there is catastrophic neurological injury, resulting in permanent neurological injury or death. The mechanism is most often a forced hyperflexion neck injury, as occurs when ‘spear tackling’. The mean incidence of catastrophic neurological injury over the past 30 years has been approximately 0.5 per 100,000 participants at high school level and 1.5 per 100,000 at the collegiate level. This incidence has decreased significantly when compared with the incidence in the early 1970s. This decrease in the incidence of catastrophic injury is felt to be the result of changes in the rules in the mid-1970s that prohibited the use of the head as the initial contact point when blocking and tackling.”

You know.  Like Hamlin did against the Pats – he was ejected but saved a touchdown.

During 2005–2014, a total of 28 traumatic brain and spinal cord injury deaths in high school and college football were identified (2.8 deaths per year). The most common playing positions of those fatally injured were running back and linebacker. Approximately 18% of identified high school brain injury deaths were preceded by an earlier concussion, which might have led to second impact syndrome.

No doubt the makers of hit-sensor helmets (given to high school athletes for unethical experimentation while continuing development on crash dummies) are already beginning to start development of a better protective pad for the precordium (the area in front of the heart). Players are already armored up the wazoo, and the only thing that has accomplished is to give them a false sense of being bulletproof.

Football is deadly.  Rules requiring geometrically impossible positioning of heads on tackles, on pain of penalty or disqualification or fine or suspension are useless.  Hamlin purposely broke the rule to save a touchdown.  Then he got thrown out.  So what?  I’m sure he got handshakes in the club house.   Several games later he played by the rules and went to the hospital with cardiac arrest.

The NFL owner’s efforts to make football “safer” has become media necessary in the face of the effects of getting hit repeatedly in the head on retired players, many old or gone before their time.  Not to mention the spinal injuries and paralysis we read nothing about.

Football is as violent as you can get without swords and tridents.  It is as American as apple pie (nobody else plays it) and is part and parcel to our culture as gladiator contests were to the screaming Romans.

“During 2005–2014, a total of 28 deaths (2.8 deaths per year) from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries occurred among high school (24 deaths) and college football players (four deaths) combined. Most deaths occurred during competitions and resulted from tackling or being tackled. All four of the college deaths and 14 (58%) of the 24 high school deaths occurred during the last 5 years (2010–2014) of the 10-year study period.”

Among the 24 high school fatalities, 20 (83%) occurred during a game and during the regular season; 17 (71%) involved tackling or being tackled. Among the four college fatalities, two occurred during a regular season game, and two occurred during spring football.

This week The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver took a hard hit to the neck during the final minutes of the playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. Gage tried to get up but couldn’t, leading to the medical staff taking the field and checking in on him. They stayed on a field for a few minutes before taking Gage off the field in a gurney.

He was seriously injured during the final minutes of the final game of the season at a time Tampa was trailing 31 – 6 with no hope of winning.  He suffered a serious neck injury and concussion.  Simply unnecessary.

Football is a deadly as team sports gets.  Which is probably why we are so hooked on it.

I watch.  Not a fanatic.  But I watch.

But I’m glad my grandson doesn’t play football.

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