WON’T YOU EASE MY WORRIED MIND – Rich Paschall

Layla, Rich Paschall

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?

Eric Clapton was a member of several groups before he joined with others to form Derek and the Dominos in 1970.  No, no one was actually named Derek.  Clapton, along with band mate Jim Gordon, penned the famous song and recorded it in 1970 with their new band.  It was released in 1971 without great success.  It’s length was a problem for radio play.  Thus, an edited version at 2:43 was released and hit the Top Ten in 1972.

Derek and the Dominos

The long version was released again in 1972 and appeared on albums by Clapton and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers fame.  Allman had played guitar on the original studio version of the song.  The long version then found success as a single.

In 1982 the long version was re-released and charted again.  This time it was critically acclaimed as one of the great rock songs of all time.

In January 1992 Clapton recorded an acoustic album which included a new arrangement of the song.  The slower version with a different opening was seen that year on MTV Unplugged.  Clapton was reluctant to release the acoustic recordings, but finally relented and the song was released in September of that year.  The B-side of the vinyl recording was “Tears in Heaven” which also became a hit.

The top video is from a 1986 concert and yes, that is Phil Collins on the drums.  The lower one is from that 1992 MTV Unplugged performance.

GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK – Rich Paschall

Thanks for your service, Rich Paschall

He had been in the business for almost 40 years.  The last twenty-seven of those with the same company.  He liked his job and thought he was good at it.  In just a few more years he would retire.  Everything seemed to be on track.

When Carl started in his career, orders were processed with typewriters.  Carbon paper was used when multiple copies were required.  Details of international orders were sent overseas by telex machine.  Everything was done manually and file cabinets were stuffed with files of all the orders and shipments.

Carl made it through all the changes.  At first, he thought an electronic typewriter with memory was just about the coolest thing.  Fax machines took the place of telex machines and worldwide communication was getting easier.  As the decades went on, technology and communications advanced faster and faster, but Carl kept right up with everything.  You could never say that Carl was behind the times.

Despite the efficiency of his work life, the same could not be said of Carl’s personal life until recent years.  Only as retirement thoughts started weighing on his mind did Carl pay attention to his accounts.  For the last few years, he contributed to the 401K plan.  He even took out some small CDs for better interest return, since savings and checking accounts returned him only pennies per month, literally.

Then came the problems of advancing age.  Bifocals were no longer good enough to do his job.  He was recommended to get trifocals but opted for a second pair of glasses — just to see the computer.  His hands were stiff and sore and he needed medication for that.

Nerve pain in the feet demanded a drug as did high cholesterol.  His blood tests never satisfied his doctor and even when he felt well, there were many pills to take.  With all these issues, Carl still carried on in grand fashion and handled his job like a pro.

When Carl got a new boss, they seemed to get along well.  She appeared to appreciate his experience and they often had nice little chats.  When Carl asked if he could come in late so he could have his annual physical, his boss seemed disappointed.  He assured her he would make up the time during the week and she finally voiced approval.

The doctor’s visit showed the usual issues, but also “abnormal cells in undetermined significance.”  Carl was referred to a specialist and he had to ask for another morning off.  The boss looked quite perturbed when she said: “OK if you must.” Unfortunately for Carl, he did, in fact, feel he must see the doctor.

The specialist was a handsome young man with a sunny disposition.  He indicated all the dire situations that may be happening with such a cute smile, Carl still felt at ease.  His examination and subsequent biopsy lead to “dysplasia but cells are undetermined.”  Carl was recommended to a surgeon.

Again, Carl asked for a morning off.  The stares of the boss led Carl to say he would make up his time the same week and he would not ask for any more time off in the coming months.  He was greeted with a long and painful silence.  “Fine,” the boss stated with an air of exasperation.

The following day was a Wednesday and Carl worked hard all day under the glares of his much younger boss.  Whenever Carl looked around, she seemed to be nearby staring at him.  Needless to say, it was a rather uncomfortable day.  Normally, Carl had pleasant days and nice little chats with coworkers.  He never got close to any of them or saw them socially.  One young man loved having random little conversations with Carl about anything every day, but he was the only friend if you could call him that.  Carl was just at work to do his job.

At the end of that day, just past 5 pm, the facilities manager, the superior to Carl’s boss, invited Carl down to her office for a chat.  When he got there his boss was already seated and staring at the floor.  The facilities manager began.

“Carl, you know we think you have been doing excellent work for us for many years but…” Then there was a long pause while the manager looked for the words.  “Well, business has fallen off some.  The stronger dollar means weaker business. We are well behind budget for the year and we must eliminate a position.  I am sorry, but we have to let you go.”

Carl was dumbfounded.  He planned to work another two or three years and retire.  He was not ready for this.  His boss continued to look at the floor when the manager spoke up again.  She explained about the last paycheck, vacation pay, Cobra insurance, unemployment.  She said she would write a nice letter of recommendation.  She closed by saying she was sorry, it was not personal, it was just economics.  She thanked him for his years of service.  His boss continued to stare at the floor.

pills and wine
pills and wine

He returned to his desk, took a few personal items while his bossed hovered nearby and he was then prepared to leave.  That’s when she came over and asked for his badge and ID and walked away.  “What was that?” a longtime female coworker asked.  “I was fired,” he replied.  The coworker started to cry.  Carl quietly said goodbye, looked around for his young friend, who was already gone, and he left.

After a few days of reviewing jobs online and making a few calls, Carl saw it would be difficult at his age and salary range to find a new position.  That night, he lined up all of his prescriptions on the kitchen table, including the container of powerful painkillers for his hand pain.  Next, he got a bottle of one of his favorite wines, appropriately chilled.  He opened the wine, poured himself a glass and sat down at the kitchen table.  There he looked over the table and contemplated his future.

BREAKING UP

It’s Hard To Do, Rich Paschall

Do do do
Down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Breaking up is hard to do

You tell me that you’re leavin’
I can’t believe it’s true
Girl there’s just no livin’ without you

Neil Sedaka scored twice with a song about breaking up, using different opening lyrics each time out. The first song was released in June of 1962 while the “Doo Wop” era of music was still alive. The background vocals are by a little known female group, The Cookies.  The song was co-written by Sedaka and Howard Greenfield.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is Sedaka’s biggest hit among his many hit songs.  It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was, in fact, a hit all over the world. The text was translated to many languages and Sedaka recorded an Italian version.

Neil Sedaka

Lenny Welch, known best for his 1963 hit “Since I Fell For You,” originally released the slower version which reach number 34 on the charts in 1970.  Sedaka scored big with his 1975 slow version which hit the top 10 in February 1976.  It was reported to be only the second time an artist hit the Top Ten with two versions of the same song.

THE ROAD WE ARE ON – Rich Raschall

It’s Not A Great One, by Rich Paschall

Aside from insulting our allies and befriending our enemies, here are just a few of the actions by the current administration. They show that we are actually taking away the things that made America great:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

This was the promise to help all people through tax cuts, but the truth is it primarily helped corporations and the top one percent of the wealthy. In defense of this, Republicans have argued the faulty theory of “trickle down” economics. That did not work in the 1980’s and it is not working now. Many corporations used the extra money to buy back stock and strengthen their company. Billionaires can donate some of their extra millions to Republican campaigns to help them maintain power.

The 2016 Overtime Rule:

The current administration would not defend the rule. Now low-level managers, making 23,660 dollars or more, can be made to work many extra hours for no extra pay, saving corporations a lot of money.

Pooled tips:

Some restaurants and bars used a “pooled tips” system.  This means all tips go into a pool and are then distributed among workers. busboys, and cooks, for example, might share these tips.  The current administration has taken action to remove any restrictions, allowing employers to pocket the cash.

Ending DACA:

One of the downsides of attempting to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is that it would take away documentation and the protections of young adults brought here as children. This could force them into working “under the table,” that is, illegally.

Companies could then pay them anything.

Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces:

Initially, this sounds like a good thing.  We should not give contracts to companies that do not follow this rule.  The Trump administration, however, has backed the Congressional resolution to block record keeping in this area, making it hard to tell who is playing fair.

The Federal Reserve Board:

The current administration had three appointments to make and two more members have resigned since the beginning of 45’s term.  Appointments by 45 are there to protect Wall Street. The new chair is Jerome Powell, a Wall Street venture capitalist.  “We’re so bad at forecasting productivity, it’s just very hard to know when productivity is going to arrive and in what quantity….”

Well, I guess that is rather honest.

The Supreme Court:

Appointments such a Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have swung the balance of power to the extreme right. The current administration has sought to politicize the court with these appointments.  In addition to an expected challenge to the Roe v. Wade ruling (1973) allowing abortion, these appointments may, in fact, protect 45 and other Republicans from court challenges for things like tax returns. A challenge to gay marriage may also be coming.

Affordable Care Act:

Despite the promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare “very, very quickly” the Trump administration has done neither. Instead, they have taken actions to undermine its success.  “I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail.”

To this end they cut the budget last year for the marketing of the Affordable Care Act, apparently hoping people would miss the deadline for enrollment.

ISIS:

There was the campaign promise that ISIS would be defeated in 30 days by a “secret plan” only 45 knew.  Apparently, he is still the only one who knows it.  While ISIS has been driven from their stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, they have not been “wiped out” as 45 claims.

Infrastructure bill:

Promised, but never delivered.

The Wall:

You may recall the promise that we would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it.  While we have repaired a few sections of fence and added some additional fencing, there is no wall and Mexico will never pay for one.

The Paris Agreement:

Almost every climate scientist of note in the entire world agrees that man-made pollution is causing global warming with possibly dire consequences.  Despite this, the current administration has pulled out of this historic agreement that was signed by 195 nations.  The USA joined Nicaragua as the only nations not part of the agreement.

Tweets:

It is hard to quantify just how unpresidential this is.

LGBT:

Not only has 45 refused to sign the traditional Pride Month declaration, but he has also, along with Pence, spoken to the Values Voter Summit, an anti-LGBT group.

Trade War:

Tariffs are, after all, taxes.  By warring on China with tariffs, the administration has cost farmers billions of dollars in sales.  As a result, the taxpayer will have to bail out US farmers to the amount of 12 billion dollars. This will be paid for in part by borrowing money…from China.

If you are an ardent follower of the current occupant of the White House and his party, you probably have not read this far. Just as well. You would likely not believe most of it anyway, despite the overwhelming proof of it.

There are a lot more broken promises and destructive policies that could be listed.  If you have not gotten the point, more examples would be of little value.

Many Americans do not agree with the road we are on.  It is not the great journey that some believed it would be.  The choice is now.  Continue down this path, or vote for change.

Sources include: “Ten actions that hurt workers during Trump’s first year,” Economic Policy Institute, epi.org, January 12, 2018.
“Most millionaires don’t plan to spend their tax savings, CNBC survey finds,” cnbc.com, 27 June 2018.
“DACA alive, barely, a year after Trump ended it,” cnn.com, September 5, 2018.
“Did Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell Just Say That?” forbes.com, September 28, 2018.
“With the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade is likely dead,” Perspective, Carole Joffe, The Washington Post, July 10, 2018.
Trump Drops Key Campaign Promise to ‘Repeal and Replace’,” nbcnews.com, July 18, 2017
“Editorial: Wrong About ISIS,” The Weekly Standard, weeklystandard.com, September 26, 2018.
“Trump Has Now Broken Every One of His Economic Populist Promises,”  Intelligencer, nymag.com, May 11, 2018.
“Trump’s Trade Wars Are Bad. They Could Soon Get a Lot Worse,” foreignpolicy.com, July 25, 2018.
“Dem senator: Trump is borrowing money from China to ‘pay our farmers to not sell their crops to China’,” thehill.com, September 26, 2018.

 

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

The Senior Issue, by Rich Paschall

Recently a friend of mine commented that if Congress cut Social Security and Medicare, they will see a lot of angry seniors vote them out of office.  Many Republicans promised to do just that before the last election.  If they maintain control of both houses, they almost certainly will do it now.  The problem here is why would seniors wait to see if something bad is going to happen before taking action?

While seniors historically vote in larger percentage than other age groups, there are still many who stay home as if the election does not matter.  Yes, some are physically unable to vote and do not get any help to get to the polls or vote by mail.  Others are victims of political actions attempting to deny them the vote.  But for many, the excuse is the same as other age groups, “My vote doesn’t really matter.”

Of course it matters.  In the coming midterms it matters a lot for seniors and those about to reach retirement age.  The Republican party has targeted what they term “entitlements” as a reason for the deficit and hope to cut back on them.  You may recall, however, this same group of legislatures engineered a massive tax cut that primarily benefited corporations and the one percent, and resulted in a deficit of almost a trillion dollars at this writing.

It is often repeated, but seems to fall on deaf Republican ears, that Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlements.”  These programs are not some sort of hand-out to seniors and the disabled.  We paid into these programs for all our working lives. We didn’t have a choice, either. We have the right expect to receive back the pensions (Social Security) and medical coverage (Medicare) we were promised.

Then along come Republican legislators who have their pensions and medical care secured for their retirement, and now plan to cut yours.  Their campaign promises should not be dismissed lightly.  They are coming after your retirement savings, which they control.

In the federal budget, Social Security, Unemployment and Labor are the largest piece of “mandatory spending.”  Military is the largest piece of “discretionary spending.”  The military spending for 2016 was 36 percent of the global total, or more than the next 8 nations combined.  If you suggest we could cut military spending, Republicans will paint you as un-American.

There is something important to be noted about the Social Security payments.  They are covered by the SS Trust Fund.  The money we have been paying for years goes into a trust to pay out when you retire.

According to Marketwatch, “For the first time since 1982, Social Security has to dip into the trust fund to pay for the program this year.”  If revenue has more than covered payouts for many years, what is the problem, exactly?

No, the feds are not “raiding” or “stealing” from the fund as some suggest.  They did that under Reagan. If there were more money, they’d still be “borrowing” it. Note: Do they not understand the concept that “borrowing” implies returning the money at some point?

It also indicates a lack of budgetary knowledge.  There are ways to make the fund viable well beyond the projected 2034 date currently being given as when Social Security won’t be able to cover 100 percent of payments. But that’s another issue.

The point of concern for seniors now is that the Republican Congress wants to cut payouts now as if Social Security is adding to the deficit, rather than the loss of revenue due to tax breaks for the very rich.

Republican Ronald Reagan told us that Social Security had nothing to do with the deficit, something current Republicans likely do not want to hear.

In 2017, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, one of the poorest states in the nation, told us that the tax cuts for the wealthy would pay for themselves. Now he says of the increasing deficit “It’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”  And according to McConnell those “real drivers” are “Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.”

Really. And all that money we paid in? Where did that go?

In fact, a whole host of leading Republicans have promised to cut these programs as early as next year.  There is no reason to believe that they don’t intend to do it.  If they maintain control of both houses, they can fast-track these ideas and cut the social program virtually every administration since Franklin Roosevelt has vowed to protect … except for this one.

If your thoughts are that they would not dare do such a thing to a large voting block, you had better think again.  They have shown a willingness to serve the one percent at the expense of everyone else, so why would they not cut these programs if they have the votes to do so?  If you are here in the US and are a registered voter, you have a voice in this.

I suggest you use your vote.  You may regret sitting out this one.

In order to try to keep the votes of the many seniors who voted “red” last time out, the Republicans are engaging in scare tactics.  “The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised,” President Trump recently wrote for USA Today.

The column, however, was filled with “false and unsubstantiated claims” according to NPR.  Of course, that will not matter in Trump country if his followers believe the lies and vote for those who will ultimately cut their benefits.


While I have used this space for social commentary a number of times, I don’t like to give up my Sunday space for a political piece (satire and fiction aside). I thought this was too important to not speak up.

I also didn’t want to make this look like a research paper but I thought it was important to show this was not merely a political rant, but a serious issue for most Americans.

Remember: You may be young now, but you won’t be forever.


Here’s a list of references you can check:

“Dozens of black senior citizens ordered off bus taking them to vote,” October 16, 2018, thehill.com
“Voter-Suppression Tactics in the Age of Trump,” October 29,2018 issue, newyorker.com
“U.S. Budget Deficit Swells to $898 Billion, Topping Forecast,” September 13, 2018, bloomberg.com
“The Top 15 Countries For Military Expenditure In 2016,” Niall McCarthy, forbes.com
“Social Security to tap into trust fund for first time in 36 years,” June 6, 2018, marketwatch.com
“Policy Basics: Understanding the Social Security Trust Funds,” June 29, 2018, Center On Budget and Policy Priorities, cbpp.org
“McConnell eyes cuts to Medicare, Social Security to address deficit,” October 16, 2018, msnbc.com
“GOP Revives Medicare Scare Tactics As Election Nears,” shots, Health News from NPR, npr.org, October 30, 2018.
“Trump’s False Claims On ‘Medicare For All’,” Fact Check, npr.org, October 10, 2018.

AUTUMN LEAVES – RICH PASCHALL

Les Feuilles Mortes

The falling leaves
Drift by the window
The autumn leaves
Of red and gold

I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sunburned hands
I used to hold

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I’ll hear
Old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all
My darling
When autumn leaves
Start to fall.

Notes: Roger Williams had a number 1 hit with the instrumental version in 1955. Above he is playing in 2010 on his 86th birthday.

Andy Williams (no relation) appeared with Jose Feliciano in 1969. He first recorded the song in 1959.

Yves Montand introduced the song in 1945 in the movie “Les Portes des la nuit.” Above is from a 1951 movie “Parigi è sempre Parigi.”

Songwriters: Jacques Prevert (music) / Joseph Kosma (lyrics) /  Johnny Mercer (English Lyrics)

DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

A cautionary fairy tale by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

The King Brothers strode through the luxurious lobby of the grand Wilford Washington Hotel. It is a stately old hotel with all the modern amenities. Only the richest of the rich can stay at the Wilford, and the King Brothers were among the one percent that controlled most of the nation’s wealth. It was a particularly joyous night for the highly successful businessmen as they again used their business skills and wealth to get what they wanted.

Your Vote CountsAlthough they were knowledgeable and successful businessmen, Chauncey and Derrick King owed most of their wealth to inheritance. Their father discovered a new way of making energy. It was not the most environmentally responsible method, but it sure made a lot of money.

When old Farley King passed on, Chauncey and Derrick aced out two other brothers to grab control of the largest privately held corporation in the nation. Now they had their sights set on power. They wanted the sort of power that would assure continued success to their business as well as that of their friends. This meant no environmental controls that would limit their production.

The boys were all smiles as they moved to the elevators, one of which would take them to an exclusive penthouse party to celebrate victory. It was election night in the nation and everything was falling into place. Despite the massive price tag of their efforts, they were pleased with what their investment had purchased.

When the doors of the elevator opened, the King brothers found family, friends and a few carefully selected politicians on hand. They all had the opportunity to partake in the best drinks and hors d’oeuvre money could buy.  Chauncey was partial to a particular wine from France, Pierre Jouet Champagne, at a mere $6,500 per bottle. The hotel secured a case of it just for the event.

Cal Rhodes came up to the boys with the latest good news. “We have won another one. Just one more and we will control the Senate as well as the House. There are victory celebrations in just about every one of the party campaign headquarters across the country.”

For all the money the brothers dumped into attack ads and digging up dirt on the other party, they felt they ought to win most of the battles. And win them they did, all night long.

Time to vote! - Marilyn Armstrong

The party went well past midnight as they all kept a careful eye on the western states. The laughing and joking and storytelling of the earlier hours had given way to watching election results. Giant screen televisions around the room had been playing FIX News all night, but now they turned up the sound so everyone could hear. The audience hung on the words of the political reporters they knew and loved.

Elections in Oregon and Idaho were unexpectedly close. While Oregon was supposed to be a battle, Idaho was considered “a lock” for the brothers prior to election night.

“What the hell is going on in Idaho?” Chauncey shouted at Cal.

“I’ll check it out,” was all Cal could say as he went back to working the phones, a task he normally relished. It would not be good for Cal or any of the architects of the Senate strategy if they did not pick up one of the remaining states.

The numbers on the election boards were moving agonizingly slowly. Derrick said to no one in particular, “No one lives in Idaho, how long can it take to count a few votes?” At just past one in the morning, Eastern time, the crowded roomful of conservatives heard the news they’d been waiting for.

“With 93 percent of the precincts reporting, FIX News projects the incumbent Senator from the state of Idaho has held off an unexpected challenge and will retain his seat.”

With that announcement, Chauncey ordered another bottle of his favorite champagne. “Give everyone a glass. Let’s toast this hard-fought, hard-bought victory.” They toasted until the wine was gone and the guests headed home or back to their rooms in the warm, friendly Wilford Washington Hotel.

Derrick went to Cal with hardiest congratulations.

“You know, Cal, it’s time we set our agenda for the next two years. We need to start working on it immediately. But let’s get a good night’s sleep first. We’ve all earned it.” With that, Cal got a big hug from both King brothers before heading downstairs to his room.

On the very next day, with the House and Senate in hand, the King brothers discussed who should be the candidate for the highest post in the land two years hence. Whoever they picked would become their anointed one, their monarch and would serve the brothers well.

They would send him off to live in a big white house. Congress would pass all the Kings’ proclamations and the brothers would live happily ever after.

The very end.