Trump & Obamacare Replacement – NADA!

Just feel like I have to put down my opinion on the premiere issue of today, Friday, March 25, 2017 – namely, the House vote on replacement of Obamacare.

To put it bluntly, I hope the bill on the table today stays right where it is – on the table.  Or better yet, is voted down by the House. Or maybe it just falls off the table and into the trash can.

Like every other thinking American I’ve had enough of Donald Trump’s ego, stupidity, arrogance, crudeness – sorry, I’ve run out of negative descriptors – as evidenced since the election.

While I didn’t vote for the Buffoon in Chief (nor Empress Pants Suit either, for that matter) I DID and still do support much of the Republican Party’s platform, including such things as enforcement of immigration laws, tax reform, reduced Federal regulations/bureaucracy, a return to America First trade policy, incentives for reduced outsourcing, and even repeal/replacement of Obamacare – the subject of today’s rant.

First off, it’s clear that Obamacare is a seriously flawed program; passed in an authoritarian manner with no bipartisan support and proven unsustainable from a financial standpoint.  In other words, it needs to go.

But it can’t be replaced with a new program slammed together, not properly vetted or understood (again) by Legislators, pushed forward once again with absolutely no bipartisan support, sold as a fiscally sound solution in the face of those FACTS that seem to annoy Trump so much which point in the opposite direction.

It needs to be replaced with a solution that provides a well rationalized program, discussed and debated in the light of day with ALL of Congress having at least some skin in the game at the end of the day.

I don’t think any of the above is too much to demand of our elected representatives.

What I CANNOT stand for is watching a petulant school boy demanding what he wants just because he wants it, willing to bargain away any or even all of the current bill’s provisions simply to enable him to claim a WIN.  That isn’t right.  It isn’t even right politics – the latter phrase itself being an oxymoron.

I sincerely hope the Bill fails and Trump is forced to accept a humiliating defeat.  Not that that result would have any lasting beneficial impact on him.  He simply will shrug it off and move onto the next issue where he thinks he can WIN.  That’s the essence of the guy. Right or wrong is immaterial.  Winning is everything to him.  We know the type.  He’s the Bobby Knight of politics.  Knight, former and disgraced head of the University of Indiana’s basketball program recently said of the Administrators who fired him, “I hope they’re all dead.”

That’s Trump.  He’d  just as soon walk over the bodies left in his destructive path rather than call the Medics to tend the wounded.

On a positive note, I hope, hope, hope, the GOP’s refusal to bow to Trump and coalesce around his demands portends the re (? ) emergence of this Country’s balance of power and that both Dems and Repubs ‘get it’ that they’d better hold firmly to the reins of their power and act responsibly during the next three and a half years to offset the demonstrated unbalanced personality of our now ‘Bobble Head of State’.

I had hoped Trump would somehow rise to meet the serious responsibility of the Office to which he was elected.  It didn’t take long for him to reveal to all that underneath that smirking, bloviating, lying egotist we were all afraid he would be was in fact a smirking, bloviating, lying egotist.  (Hey, guess you never really can run out of negative descriptors when it comes to Trump!).

It’s all too bad.  Really too bad.  HUGELY too bad.

 

 

 

Posted in Presidential Election, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hey, lets BINGE! … (or not)

In retirement I frequently have a lot of time on my hands to do whatever I wish.  The rest of the time I do something else but I don’t remember what it was.   I recently and quite accidentally got into some serious ‘binging’. (Pronounced ‘bin-jing’,  not to be confused with the Thai worm dish of the same name.)

First let’s define ‘binging’.  This means you sit your butt in front of  the biggest Screen you have and view every episode of a ‘Series’ available from start to finish using every moment of free time until the Series Finale.  Sounds severe.  Life is difficult.

A few years ago I had my first experience with what I would call ‘Minor League Binging’ when I bought a Kindle device which connected to my home WiFi network and on which I installed Netflix.

In searching the offerings on Netflix I discovered a World War II era BBC Series which interested me called ‘Foyle’s War’ which extended over approximately five ‘normal’ TV Seasons (one Season equals one calendar year) and included roughly ten or eleven shows per Season.

I liked the series and found myself watching one or two episodes per night in bed before dropping off to sleep.  It took a while to watch them all.  From 1939 – 1945 as I recall.

So far so good.

Next I found two other series I’d heard about but hadn’t seen.  These were House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

I had one season of House of Cards to catch up on which I did using my Foyle’s War protocol (a couple of episodes per night until I ‘caught up’ to the current Season).  This series is produced by Netflix and released for viewing in the U.S. as a complete Season.  Ergo, once released it’s possible to view all episodes (without commercials) for the newly released Season.

Once again, really a Minor League binge experience.

Orange is the New Black is produced and released in a manner similar to House of Cards so I watched full Seasons on a per episode basis much like House of Cards.  The only difference was I discovered ‘Orange’ immediately following release of its first Season and therefore didn’t have to play catch up.

Still in the Minor Leagues.

And then I discovered ‘Breaking Bad’.

I vaguely remembered seeing ads for this AMC Series on Network TV but it never seemed to interest me.  Likewise, it seemed to me the Series was ‘old’ in the sense that I remembered those ads appearing for what seemed like a long time – as in years? Hmm….Duhh…

At this point I suddenly found myself in the Major League of binging.  (It’s now called the Binging Major League (BML)- all rights reserved.)

One early Monday morning with time on my hands I watched the Pilot episode of this show and immediately I was hooked.  It’s a crime drama which has been called ‘the best ever produced’ by some people who really know. I’m good with that.

The Pilot episode intrigued me and that first Monday I watched at least six episodes (at one hour per episode).  By the third day of that week  after spending eighteen hours of viewing on my laptop I finally looked at how much more viewing I’d have to do to complete the whole series.  To my amazement I discovered the series played SEVEN YEARS with 12-13 episodes per year.

By then I was committed to watching the whole thing through the end as quickly as possible.

In all I watched sixty two episodes in a period lasting from Monday through the following Sunday, and although I was spellbound and really couldn’t resist NOT watching ‘just one more episode’ I realized I was spending up to twelve hours a day watching THE SHOW.

By the end of the marathon I’d learned a number of things about binging which I offer as cautionary lessons to those who may find themselves drafted into the Binging Major League (BML) – all rights reserved. (Note:  Don’t be upset if you’re drafted in a later round in this one.)

Lesson One – People Could Think You’re an Asshole

To begin with, I quickly found myself isolated from virtually all human contact, save the absolute necessity of at least acknowledging the existence of my spouse, usually in the form of a grunting noise as she passed by throughout the day, making tsk-tsk noises as she came and went. (Note to self:  Jewel/OSCO – flowers.)

I spent my time sitting in my easy chair with a pair of headphones on, stirring only when nature called (actually more of a scream) and stopping for meals when I felt faint.

In the end I found that in seven days I’d lost every friend I ever had. I even pissed off the telemarketing guys.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Lesson Two – You Probably ARE an Asshole

This will become more apparent as you grow older.

Lesson Three – Binging Ages You

 Face it.  In the end you only get so many calories to burn.  And when you’re binging you feel the burn, baby.  All of that motivation, dedication – the feeling that for once you control your own destiny.  Sure, it’s a huge natural high but it takes its toll on you physically.  (Ref:  Need Ref:  Pls sbmt Ref.)

So anyway, at the end you’ll probably be tired.

Lesson Four – If You Watched Every Episode of Breaking Bad You Now Possess the Knowledge to Open Your Own Meth Lab

Don’t try it.

Conclusion

It occurs to me that some of the above may sound, shall we say, perhaps – spontaneous. I’ll have to think about that.

In the meantime, I’d recommend you substitute the urge to binge with something less stressful and time consuming.  Life is short after all, and as Mom said, “Too much of anything is not good for you.”  (That Mom.  Damn, she knew every cliche in the book.)

Consider watching reruns of Jeopardy – in moderation of course.  Particularly those which you’ve already seen.  Knowing in advance who wins is a great stress reliever.  Plus which, knowing all of the answers in advance will boost your self esteem.  Just don’t get too big a head.  After all, too much of anything is not good for you.  (I found that cliche book!!!)

 

 

Posted in Retirement Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Recipe for Disaster

I’ve found that in retirement one has considerable time to think about many things.

Some of these are really important, like whether or not a colonoscopy is affordable in this year’s budget.

(Note:  See previous Post referencing this Procedure.  Comment on this mildly annoying topic is included again to provide a coherent theme from Post to Post, but mostly to really irritate my wife. Thought I’d get that out of the way early here. :-)).

Mostly however,  these things are of the more mundane variety; things that in the usual hub bub of working and parenting life one might find irritating but which are usually ignored or glossed over in order to maintain harmonious family/personal/business relationships or,  for those with serious OCD,  to simply avoid going insane.

Last week, something in that category (mundane) happened that rocked my world, or at least as much as my laid back world is rock-able these days, and which as you will read has occupied much of my waking time for days now and is the subject of today’s commentary.

My wife and I were at my son and daughter in law’s house babysitting for our grand daughters.   The plan was for my wife to make dinner for the family when the kids came home from work.

Come to think of it, there really wasn’t much of a plan involved at all.  Sort of a 1) Get Food, 2) Cook Food, 3) Eat Food kind of thing.  But all things considered, without such a plan,  omission of any of those tasks or execution of any task out of sequence would render the whole process of making dinner impossible, or even, given that pork was involved, potentially life threatening.  So planning is helpful.  I learned that during my career as a Project Manager.

MY participation in the plan of course was to participate in task 3) Eat Food.

We brought food for dinner with us, thus completing the  1) Get Food task.  However, somewhere between our arrival and the start of 2) Cook Food  I began to have hunger pangs which eventually led me to the kitchen in search of something, anything really, to tide me over until supper. Not wishing to eat too much before dinner and in doing so jeopardizing my ability to successfully participate in 3) Eat Food I decided to make a couple of slices of buttered toast.

I tossed the bread into the toaster and turned to the refrigerator to get the butter.

Opening the door I shuddered as I beheld a site which brought back terrible memories from my childhood, adolescence, mature (?) adult years and even today in my dotage.

There in the butter dish lay a small, basically useless little chunk of butter.  You know what I’m talking about. It’s that quarter inch rectangular shaped cube left over after the previous butter user has finished buttering something and rather than using that last little chunk decides to escape responsibility for REPLACING THE BUTTER.

But that isn’t what disturbed me most.  I’ll even admit here that once or twice in my life I’ve left that little useless chunk in the butter dish myself.  (Hmm…I just realized it’s true. Confession really IS good for the soul.  At least I feel better after admitting to doing that. Or maybe it’s just that last Cheeto I’m munching on as I write.  Whatever.)

No, it was the fact that there in the butter dish was also a new stick of butter STILL IN ITS PAPER WRAPPER !!!

Since I was an infant, or at least since I was old enough to open the refrigerator door to reach for the butter which was likely some time after infancy, I’ve found it to be an Immutable Fact of Life that any time it’s necessary to replace butter on the butter dish two things will result:

  1.  The useless little chunk of left over butter will NEVER be removed from the butter dish
  2. The NEW butter stick will be placed on the butter dish UNOPENED and in the
    process will not only hang over the end of the butter dish but will also, as a result
    of the butter dish containing residual scrapes of butter from the previously
    opened stick of butter (now reduced to that useless little chunk) have on the bottom part of the wrapper traces of butter.

And the end result?  The guy (perhaps girl, but more often I think this happens to guys since this has happened to me so often) who needs the butter to put on the bread now toasting will have to unwrap the new butter stick in order to get to the butter.

Lets get one thing straight at this point.  From long, tedious, frustrating experience we all know it’s virtually impossible to effectively use that little left over butter chunk as a spread onto newly toasted toast.

Why?  Well, primarily because its shape renders it unsliceable (new word?) via butter knife into portions which can be spread onto the hot toast which will melt into an acceptable spread.  When attempted, the knife will slide off the little chunk, in the process knocking off a tiny sliver of useless butter. In a frequently experienced worst case scenario the knife will slide off the leftover butter chunk, launching it out of the butter dish onto the floor.

When this happens the useless butter chunk gets tossed into the garbage (NOT the recyclables, BTW) and the floor must be wiped clean.

Regardless of whether the launch occurs or not, after having attempted unsuccessfully for the millionth time (after all, no one LIKES to waste food) to slice the chunk into usable slices, it inevitably gets tossed in the non-recyclable garbage, which the previous butter user should have done in the first place.

The next step is the unwrapping of the new stick of butter. This process presents its own set of challenges to the ‘needer’ (also a new word?) of the butter.

First let’s talk about how the butter is wrapped.

The wrapper is made of a waxy type of paper which in itself is not a bad thing except that when you add the traces of butter left over from the previous occupant of the butter dish (see Immutable Fact of Life cited above), you get waxed butter wrapping paper with the viscosity and handling characteristics of an oiled eel.

It has often occurred that in lifting the wrapped, oiled eel feeling stick of butter out of the tray, the stick slips out of the hand and falls to the floor.  Once again, floor cleaning is necessary albeit without the involvement at this point of the non-recyclable garbage.

Then there’s the matter of removing the wrapper.  Maybe it’s just me (I doubt it) but instinctively I start the process by trying to loosen the TOP, or long, section of waxed butter wrapping paper from the enclosed butter.

Hah!  Try to do that without ripping the waxy butter paper.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Of course once the waxy cover is ripped you usually get butter on your fingers which, in tandem with the eel thing creates an infinitely greater likelihood of additional launch(es) of the new butter stick as unwrapping proceeds.

After realizing the futility of trying to unwrap the new stick from the top side, one must turn to the wrapped ends of the stick seeking an alternative way in.

Which end you choose doesn’t seem to make much difference (feel free to provide feedback if your experience indicates otherwise); however, whichever end is chosen, at least three distinct motions are required to uncover the end of the butter, each of which results in additional butter on the fingers.  (Ergo, the origin of the term ‘butter fingers’).

After both ends are unwrapped the final step is to hold the top part of the wrapper (likely previously ripped) and shake the wrapper until the now unwrapped stick of butter either falls into the butter dish or once again hits floor.

And now comes the final insult.  By the time you’ve done all of the above the freakin’ toast popped up around fifteen minutes ago and all you’ve done makes no difference cuz you end up with cold butter AND cold toast.  A non-starter all around with the exception that you’ve probably got a very clean floor near the base of your refrigerator – if that helps

So, to finish my story about what happened at my son’s house, we left off at the point where I’d turned to the refrigerator to get the damn butter out.  When I finally accomplished this, of course I found the new stick of butter too cold to easily slice into sections which would readily melt onto the now frigid bread.

I rapidly concluded the solution to this dilemma would be to soften the butter.  And what better way to do this than to put the butter dish with the now unwrapped butter into the microwave oven.

This I proceeded to do, first setting the cook time to five seconds and pressing the ‘Start’ function on the microwave Key Pad.

After the five seconds the oven beeped and I removed the butter to test its firmness.  The five seconds clearly was not enough time as the butter still felt cold to the touch.

I returned the dish/butter to the microwave and set the cook time for twenty seconds  and again pressed ‘Start’..

Somewhere around the ten second mark it occurred to me that perhaps I’d been too pessimistic in my estimate of butter softening cook time and looked at the Key Pad to locate the ‘Stop’ function.  This being my son’s microwave I wasn’t entirely familiar with the Key Pad layout and as the seconds ticked by I frantically scanned the Key Pad for the location of the ‘Stop’ function, having completely forgotten about the alternative way of stopping the butter cooking by opening the door to the microwave.

Finally, twenty seconds was up, the oven beeped and I opened the door to see the results of my effort.

To my astonishment I discovered that not only was the butter well softened, turning it into a remarkable facsimile of the wreck of the Titanic (see illustrations below), but that a good deal of it had melted into the butter dish itself which, while removing it from the oven, dripped onto my son’s oven and onto the floor, once again involving floor cleaning but now with the added task of stove top cleaning.

sunken-titanic

butter-dish

At this point I held the dripping butter dish over the now ossified toast, poured the melted butter onto the toast and spread it out, thus successfully and after only twenty minutes or so, completing my snack.

I hope the above will be of help to you in once and for all assigning full responsibility for comprehensively replacing butter in butter dishes in your household.  I feel confident that once the ramifications of leaving that chunk of used butter in the butter dish and putting a new stick of unwrapped butter are fully understood, your life will be greatly simplified. Or maybe a little.

FINIS

 

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A Great Time to Be Alive

We’re now into the second month of the Trump Administration.  And what a month it’s been!

I don’t know if my reactions to State (Illinois, Ugh!), National or World events – particularly in the Political arena – are typical of anyone else’s (in fact, I don’t really care to be perfectly honest), but so far I’m thoroughly enjoying what’s happening around me.

For starters, every morning I awake and go through my little ritual of coffee (bathroom visits before and after too, mentioned here in the interest of total intellectual honesty accompanied by the usual desire to share TMI – particularly of the kind that is mildly offensive) and light up my faithful laptop to enjoy the day’s online CONTENT.

This is my quiet time of day, differentiated only by the noticeably lighter sky characteristic of the ‘other’ quiet time I enjoy the rest of the day.  But it’s a special time because this is where I get to sit back and without interruption troll through the websites which keep me informed of and in tune with the world around me.

These include financial websites, Email and Facebook, the online Chicago Tribune, CNN, CNBC,  MSNBC and even lately and amazingly  FOX News (more about the latter further on).

From the content reviewed, by the time I’m finished trolling, which usually consumes an hour or two, I’m ready to face the day knowing  pretty much everything I really need to know at this stage in life.

First I go over the finances on my personal financial websites. You know who you are.

When I’m finished with these I know things like whether or not I can afford to buy yet another LED flashlight/personal defense doo hicky on Amazon.  I now have enough of these to illuminate virtually every space I may occupy at any time, including home, vehicles, dark alleys and of course the bathroom and to theoretically blind any adversary stupid enough to try to attack me with their eyes open.  (I’m not really sure but I think these things would also work on dogs too?)

I also know whether anyone is hacking my credit cards and charging me for things like subscriptions to porn sites, escort services and the like.  (Disclaimer:  I have NO idea what might trigger such nefarious activity.)

From CNBC I get the day’s Market Futures and a real time assessment of whether or not I’ll be able to afford retirement for the next ‘n’ years;  whether I need to completely and immediately downsize;  whether it’s going to be McDonald’s or TRUE for dinner; if I have enough life insurance; whether I can afford a colonoscopy this year etc., etc..

Indeed, it’s comforting and even EMPOWERING (I love to use that word. And it’s even more fun to capitalize it) to get this kind of insight first thing in the morning, every morning excluding weekends and those odd Federal Holidays on which absolutely no one but Government employees and financial institutions actually get a day off from work.  (As a side benefit, my daily online financial review generally reminds me to take my hypertension pill for the day.)

Next I check Email and Facebook.

My In Box provides a plethora of information apparently  essential for my health and well being and which reminds me of things like my need for even MORE Under Armour under gear, sales on 92 point wines from Tambora, and the occasional jokes and nudie pics which certain friends of mine send me – and which are actually the REAL reason I look at my In Box.

Moving on to Facebook I get my dose of SOCIAL MEDIA for the day.  I’ll save my commentary on the usefulness of what I find and even post myself  (e.g., this Blog) on Facebook for another day.

Ok, not that you asked, but that’s how I pretty much start my day.  But I haven’t yet covered the really fun part.  And that is when I move on to the NEWS websites.

It’s clear to me that the Media is undergoing the most challenging and stressful period in my lifetime and I’m thoroughly enjoying watching them go through it.

In the online  Chicago Tribune I’m watching what has for, like forever, been a bastion of conservative/Republican reporting morph into sort of a split personality thing.

On the National level the Page 1 Headlines seem to vacillate between Bad News and Maybe It Might Not Be Bad News.  Either TrumpGov has said or done something incredibly stupid or we’re not sure whether what was done or said is legal, Constitutional/sensible/idiotic but watch this space cuz we’ll somehow decide tomorrow or the next day.

On the State and Local (read: Chicago) levels the news is always Bad.  I mean, what else but Bad News would you get from the CPD, CPS, CTU, County and State Governments in Illinois these days?

Next comes the day’s Social Commentary where the ‘guy’ on Page 2 is totally agin’ that guy/girl on Page 5, unless the guy on Page 2 is a fill in person (often times a girl) who is on a totally different track than the usual guy on Page 2..

Next comes the Editorial Page, where commentary seems to switch from Liking to Not Liking ‘X’ (insert Your Topic here) on a regular basis.  And this is when they’re not just  bitching about how the State of Illinois, its Governing Structure (State, County, Township, City, Town, Aldermen (AlderWOMEN?), the CPD, the CPS,  CTU ad nauseam, are dysfunctional, corrupt (Ok, they’ve PROVED that one), unsustainable, unaffordable, insensitive, gender annoying (I made that category up), or whatever.

After I get through the maze of thoughts, commentary, Bad News and articles about the schizoid Bulls in the Trib I move on to CNN.

CNN used to be my fav source of online news.  That was before the Election Campaigns and the Election itself.  I found CNN’s content to be generally fair with an acceptable level of bias on both sides of the Political spectrum, along with an entertaining amount of attention paid to the clothing worn or not worn by the latest B movie celebs and oh yeah, those GINORMOUS Kardashian protuberances.

But for the past year or so there has been an apparent coup staged at CNN.  During the run up to the Election, CNN couldn’t produce enough articles about how controversial/stupid/outrageous the Trump campaign was.  Conversely, they occasionally made mention of the other obscure and much less entertaining Republican candidates, which in the end ultimately gave billions of dollars (or a LOT) of free publicity for Trump.

Meanwhile, they kept a steady watch on old Hillary’s Stronger Together pant suits, never quite figuring out exactly what her Platform was but that’s OK cuz we’re good with more of the same… I guess.

Then BOOM! Trump got elected and suddenly the Lucifer Incarnate was President of the United States.

Since then, far as I can tell, CNN has been trying to make up for being a de facto publicity machine for Trump by generating a non stop flow of Mea Culpa stories about the path to perdition the Election has put us all on.

Thinking my perceptions might be skewed for some reason, the other day I called up the CNN main screen and counted fourteen out of seventeen stories visible there which damned Trump’s Administration, his Tweets, his Executive Orders – pretty much everything, or which announced the latest activities of what is rapidly becoming known as ‘The Resistance’.  (Financial Tip:  Find a Company which specializes in making berets and invest heavily!).

Ok, so after getting my fill of depression, anger, confusion there I move on to MSNBC where to be honest I pretty much just watch the latest snippet of Morning Joe to see how much more confused Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzesinski are with the events of today, yesterday and tomorrow.

Finally, like enjoying a really fine bottle of Ripple after downing a dozen or so Sliders, I make my online way to online FOX News.  I really almost hate to admit that since over the years I’ve heard absolutely nothing good about FOX news except for the hot chicks there.

But once having capitulated, I’ve found FOX News to be a fascinating counterpart to my other online news sources.  Where others find nothing but gloom, doom and Kardashians, FOX News seems at least make an attempt to find the Puppy in the Pile of Poop.  And I freely admit, these days THAT’S some tough work!  (And YES, the chicks are pretty hot too. :=))

And with all of that I am raring and ready to go for the day, fully convinced that the Media is a bi-polar world of angry, frustrated men and women who are putting their chips on both red and black on the Roulette Wheel of Life and playing Double Zeros, just in case.

I tell you, it makes we wonder how retirees back in the day managed to fill the spaces between their ears without such sources of information.  Come to think of it, maybe life in those days was just less complex what with all the chores around the farm which needed doin’.

But I snigger when I think about how I know pretty much every day whether or not I can afford that colonoscopy.

It’s a great time to be alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trump, Bafflement & Other Synonyms

Donald Trump has been President for six days now and it’s been fascinating to watch the media’s reaction in that brief time.

It seems every day there has been a new word or phrase selected by the media and it’s embedded punditry to describe the Trumpster’s Executive Actions, Tweets, and even random thoughts.

This morning’s term is ‘Bafflement’.

To set the stage I should make clear I didn’t vote for Trump – nor did I vote for Clinton either, although I did exercise my franchise to vote for candidates whom I felt were ‘worthy’ (at least as I define that and as all of us do in one way or another at election time).

To set the stage even further I consider myself politically conservative and pretty much just your average Joe when it comes to my views of this wonderful Country we live in.  Am I alt-right?  No way.  In fact, I reject all forms of political radicalism (from the right OR left) and always have, going back to the good old days of social unrest in the 60’s and 70’s.

But for what seems like years I’ve noted what many others have when it comes to the media; viz., a liberal, progressive, redistribution of wealth bias combined with an insistence on Political Correctness, all of which harbors very little patience for those of us who take opposing views of how and what THEY believe the rest of us should think and do and how we should act.

As a result, the emergence of Trump whose various well known positions fly in the face of such liberal views has the media seemingly buried in the Thesaurus trying to come up with new synonyms to describe the awfulness of his agenda and the speed with which he is moving to make what he said he’d do and what the electorate (minus 2-3 million popular votes of course) agreed he should do as President.

In the past week we’ve been told by the media that what Trump is doing has:

  • Horrified
  • Concerned
  • Confused
  • Outraged
  • …and today’s word, Baffled

various Activist Groups, Special Interest Groups,  NATO, the Intelligence Community, Civil Servants, Illegal Immigrants (a once common reference to those living in this Country in violation of our Immigration LAWS), the entire Pacific Rim and, oh yeah, Mexico – to name a few.

When not laser focusing on critically important issues like the size of the Inauguration Crowd or Trump’s belief  that millions of people voted illegally in the election -who BTW in theory would have been Clinton supporters thus resulting in HER election – and drawing from these things the dire conclusion that Armageddon will be the inevitable result, we are being lectured non-stop by the media leftist/liberal cabal that the things Trump is actually DOING should be antithetical to any sense of human decency or morality.

Well, as an individual who believes:

  • our borders MUST be protected and those who are here illegally and are involved in criminal activities should be given a one way ticket home
  • that trade agreements made by the U.S. should be made in OUR favor
  • that U.S. businesses should be incentivized to invest here versus overseas
  • that charity begins at home and foreign assistance should be made available AFTER we’ve taken care of our own (however that’s defined)
  • that universal Health Care is a good thing but that the current scheme is fundamentally flawed and needs replacement
  • that regulations in too many spheres (including financial and environmental, among others) have had an adverse affect on the betterment of societal levels below the privileged elite

I say ‘enough’ to the hypocritical well heeled loudmouths whose multi millions give them access to the bully pulpit of the media (the Moores the Zuckerbergs, the Streeps,etc.) and to the liberals working in the media who believe that theirs is the only voice that should be heard.

And I ask them to report objectively on  ‘News’ and at least have the decency to separate and clearly identify  ‘Opinion’ rather than surreptitiously including same in supposed ‘Headlines’.

And lastly, for once I’d like to see someone in media have the balls to use the word ‘Bulls##t’ as a synonym to describe true Bulls##t.

At least I’d know I was getting an Opinion versus actual News.

 

 

 

 

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Brian Williams, Jackie Robinson West & Life’s Lessons Learned the Hard Way

It’s been quite a week.  First, Brian Williams gets essentially dumped (six months, oh yeah) for embellishing a war story.  Next, the Jackie Robinson West boy’s baseball team, crowned National Champs last summer are dethroned because their team included players who were ineligible based on Little League rules which exclude players living outside of the predefined geographical boundaries established for their Team (and ANY Team for that matter).

So what’s the reaction?  Well, based on his place and status in the media, Williams’ transgression(s) couldn’t be ignored.  When a major Network Anchor jumps a plane to put him/herself into a story, there’s no reasonable rhyme or rational for them to report on anything but the truth of what they’ve experienced.  As much as I like Brian Williams, I have to agree with Jon Stewart’s assessment that professional reporters who become celebrities beyond their field of expertise – which Williams did by his many, many appearances on talk shows, cameos in movies, etc. – can very easily lose their way as they try to switch from ‘report’ to ‘entertain.’

So goodbye and good luck to Brian Williams.  I’m sure he’ll be able to live extraordinarily well during his time off – and for years afterward even if he never worked a day again.

Having said that, I feel like I need to add a perspective from personal experience to the Williams story.

I served in the Vietnam War (’68 – ’69).  During most of that time I worked in an air conditioned office in Danang, RVN, with thousands of other rear echelon troops.  While I was there I became aware of the fact that Danang had a nickname ‘back in the World’ (the U.S.).  It was called ‘Rocket City’ in the media.  At the time I laughed at the name as it made it sound like the U.S. Troops stationed there snuck around in underground bunkers covered with camouflage, in flack jackets, armed to the teeth – all to avoid a torrential rain of enemy 120mm rockets launched at the city.

The truth was that indeed the city underwent fairly regular rocket attacks (several times a month, sometimes more often) but the majority of these were targeting the Danang Airbase, located several miles from where I served.

Admittedly some landed fairly close.  (I can tell you that shrapnel from one of these  sounds like a handful of marbles raining down.  That’s how close some of them came to me.)

On another occasion I was flying in a Huey which developed a mechanical problem just after takeoff, filling the chopper with smoke and resulting in a forced landing from around 50 feet in the air.

There are other stories I could tell you about the times I was really in danger, at least in my opinion, however, the point I want to make about Brian Williams is that he was IN FACT in a dangerous place, wasn’t a trained military man, and certainly was not used to living day to day with that little critter in the back of your mind that reminded you something bad over which you had absolutely no control could occur at any minute.

When his chopper landed in that desert and knowing that an RPG had brought down another bird nearby, Williams no doubt was under a lot of stress if not worse.  And no doubt he bonded with those servicemen surrounding him he considered his protectors.

As for his later embellishment of the event, believe me, I’ve heard far, far worse “Enhanced War Stories” from men who actually served in combat arenas but were no closer to danger than a completely random rocket landing on their head.

It’s these types and those who blatantly engage in the activity called ‘Stolen Valour’ in which complete lies are made up and Combat Medals – up to and including the Medal of Honour – are claimed as earned, that truly deserve censure and  ridicule.

So over time, Williams foolishly embellished his experience.  But I can’t help wonder tho how much the passage of time made the truth fuzzier, the actual danger become more near, and Williams’ recollection morphed into the story as we know it today.  To the point it became his reality.

Now onto the JRW fiasco.  Wow.  Talk about a media failure not to mention a moral failure on the part of the adults involved in this who brought in the ‘ringers’ (as we used to call them when I was playing baseball in my youth in Chicago) to create the kind of talent needed to excel at the National level.

The moral problem speaks for itself.  The Coach and all who had knowledge of the ineligible players should be pilloried for their totally unacceptable behavior.  As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certain some if not most the players involved knew they were going around the rules (i.e., ringers  were playing); however, given their age, it’s difficult to place blame there.  One can only hope they’ve learned a life lesson about the penalties involved with not playing by the rules.  Only time will tell on that one.

Then there’s the accountability of the media.  The firestorm of praise, public appearances, parades, visits to the While House, etc. was the product of a media who blare their own horns to the heavens when they uncover some evil doing somewhere.  Their job is to report the news and as they continually brag, through their own investigative reporting seek out those who do wrong.

So why was it that not one person in the media undertook the simple step of ascertaining the JRW’s team members were legitimate and eligible to play according to the rules?   I’d really like to hear an answer to that one. And why didn’t this occur earlier – like BEFORE the team became National contenders and media stars?

Is it they didn’t want to spoil all the feel good stories filling their air time?  Did they not want to miss the opportunity of standing in front of the mic night after night with crowds of celebrants dancing around in the background?

Who can say?  But I for one want to hear the answer.  I want the media held to account on this one.  And I want that ass hat Pfleger to shut his mouth about how the revelations of foul play are indicative of racism.

What these events have in common is the incompetence and lack of credibility in the crap we’re spoon fed by the media.  They get wars wrong.  And why should that be a surprise?  They can’t even get Little League right.

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The New Age Discrimination in Employment

I am in that group of early boomers entering the ‘golden years of retirement’.  So are most of my friends.

I’ve been retired for a little over four years now and during that time have watched a number of colleagues of my age finish their working years under circumstances which point to subtle new forms of age discrimination in the private work force.

What follows is a description of several different practices and tactics Companies are using to ‘get rid of’ older employees’ in (strictly speaking) legal, yet highly questionable ways. Ways which stretch the rules governing age discrimination in employment, denigrate the individual, and take advantage of older employees who are often at their most vulnerable economic point in life.

Why are Companies doing this?  The answer(s) are fairly obvious.

1.  Older employees tend to be among the higher salaried component of the work force.
‘Dumping’ such people presents an immediate expense reduction for a Company.

2.  Older employees, particularly those in middle management, present a blockage to
promotional opportunities for younger, less expensive talent.  The ‘baby boom
particularly exacerbates this situation with so many older workers in the work force today.

3.  ‘Right to Work’ laws offer Companies extreme leeway to discharge employees ‘without
cause’.  Although as written, there are so called restrictions against age discrimination,
the  ‘without cause’ clause is a virtual blank check for Companies to come up with
excuses  for getting rid of older employees – supposedly legally.

4.  Older employees possess the least leverage in protecting their jobs.  For example,
individuals nearing retirement are less likely to ‘put up a stink’ when confronted with
changing work conditions which younger employees may challenge under threat of
leaving and taking their future potential, desperately needed by Companies, with them.

Older employees are viewed as having already reached their maximum potential and
are thus considered ‘expendable’.

So let’s categorize and discuss the tactics being used by Corporations to rid themselves of older employees.

REDEFINING PRODUCTIVITY STANDARDS

This is probably the most frequently used tactic.  Companies always need to reduce costs by finding ‘cheaper, better and faster’ ways of doing business.  It’s the nature of business.

Although there are a number of totally valid ways of accomplishing this, including such things as introduction of automation, and analysis and redesign of processes to eliminate redundant and otherwise unnecessary effort, these ways require financial investment on the part of Companies.

It is far cheaper and easier to ‘raise the bar’ as the saying goes in the Corporate Land by simply increasing the number of widgets employees are expected to produce in defined timeframes (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).  This requires no more investment than the editing of existing Performance Standards and publishing of new Standards.

And who is more likely to be able to meet (or at least TRY to meet in the short term) the new expectations?  Is it the sixty-something employee or the bright eyed bushy tailed twenty year old?

Whether or not the new standards are realistic or sustainable over time is immaterial.  The mere establishment of them provides an immediate opportunity to turn an older, long term ‘valued’ employee into an underachiever who can be placed on probation and let go for non performance.  After that’s been done and expense reduction benefits achieved, Companies can simply redefine Productivity Standards again to adjust to the threat of burn out on the part of the overworked younger employees.

REORGANIZATIONS AND REDUCTIONS IN FORCE (R&R’s)

It is common practice for Companies to reorganize internally for a variety of perfectly valid reasons.

Many Companies go through cycles of centralizing or decentralizing operations.  This is common in the Services Sector.  There is always some rationale associated with these kinds of organizational moves; however, as often as competitive forces drive them (e.g., the need to open a new office to expand business), once again, expense reductions are also, and often exclusively, a prime incentive – particularly in a contracting economy.

In either case, reorganizations – whether internal to an individual office or as part of a centralize/decentralize move – are most often accompanied by Reductions in Force (RIF’S in common parliance.)  RIF’s can be achieved as a result of economies of scale, elimination of redundant positions or even changes in business or product strategies.

When Companies reduce their work force they generally are very careful in documenting exactly who has been let go and the distribution of personnel let go by age (among other things).  The reality, however, is that RIF’s can be used to eliminate non performing younger (i.e., less costly) employees but at the same time eliminating older, more expensive employees.  On paper it all looks legal and above board and the Company achieves its objectives but the end result to older employees is the same.

REDEFINING PERSONNEL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

This is a tactic which was used by a colleague’s Company to enable them to include her as part of a RIF.

It involves the constant revision of Personnel procedures defining the circumstances under which employees may be placed on probation or Performance Plans, for how long, and how they can (or more accurately, cannot) achieve what is necessary to be taken off and considered as contributing employees.

In my colleague’s case, she was a twenty five year employee of a Company which desperately needed to reduce expenses.  She was also the highest paid employee among her group.

First, she was a victim of the Redefinition of Performance Standards ploy described above, accompanied by a deliberate reduction in her workload which precluded her from being able to meet the revised Standards.

When first put on a Performance Plan for non-performance (almost two years ago) the Company’s Policies and Procedures contained a definition of how the Performance Plan worked.  When she achieved what was defined in the Procedures Manual she discovered the Procedures had been changed and she was still considered a non-performer.  This process was repeated several performance cycles until, when the RIF finally occurred, she was included as part of the RIF and her high salary saved.

In her case, the Company was able to justify including her in the RIF on the basis of non performance; however, it is a clever way of disguising age discrimination on an ongoing basis.

ELIMINATION OF RESPONSIBILITIES

This is a tactic used to ‘nudge’, ‘encourage’, and even ‘force’ older employees at higher levels of management out of the work force.

It is an insidious tactic which preys on the psyche of employees by gradually reducing their job responsibilities to the point where they feel useless, their daily activities are largely make work, and pressure is exerted as their peers observe what’s going on and even commiserate with them.  The latter simply reinforces the loss of self worth to the point where what amounts to non-voluntary retirement becomes preferable.

I saw this tactic used by a Company to force another colleague of mine into retirement earlier than desired.

CONCLUSION

Although my retirement was voluntary, what happened to me at the Company I worked at for twenty five years was disturbing and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  I won’t go into details here as a sop to my then Management hierarchy with whom I’ve remained friends since that time, however, after years of outstanding performance my ‘good bye’ and ‘thank you’ were colored by an unfortunate administrative move.

Bottom line, age discrimination comes in many shapes and colors.  Only those with deep pockets can even begin to challenge Companies for this most onerous treatment of older employees.  And even then the scales are weighted so heavily in favor of Corporate America that a successful challenge under current employment laws is unusual and even unlikely.

Where for preceding generations retirement was a life event to be looked forward to, in today’s business and economic environment, surviving as an employee UNTIL retirement is possible and affordable is more difficult than ever.

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