THE INCREASING STUPIDITY OF THEIR ARGUMENTS TELLS ME ALL I NEED TO KNOW – THE SHINBONE STAR

One thing I learned back in my college days* was if your enemies are walking into an L-shaped ambush, let them walk all the way into the kill zone before firing. They then have two choices: run and die, or stand and die.

The Trump Administration is running headlong into an L shaped ambush formed by the Democrat-led House of Representatives and public opinion, and it is done.

Donald Trump can stonewall, whine, accuse, demand, plead, and threaten …  and then what? Only his truly hard-core cult members refuse to see that this guy isn’t fit for the office. He could light himself afire before he is impeached and those people would cheer him for owning the libs.

The MAGA folks love it when Trump does some nasty shit that owns the libs, but when they see him sell out our Kurdish “allies” to our Turkish allies, those folks have to wonder in which of these allied camps do they stand. If they have half a brain they’ll finally realize they ain’t in the Right camp because they ain’t J.P. Gotrocks and they’re right there with the rest of the people Trump considers to be losers. Unfortunately, most of his non-wealthy supporters aren’t that smart.

It was inevitable that America would end up in this situation because white America selected a stupid and venal asshole (whose only accomplishment in life was being born rich) to replace Barack Obama, who is the embodiment of the American Dream … except he is black.

Trump is the poor man’s idea of what wealth looks like and the loser’s view of winning. And he isn’t black.

Trump has bullied, bought and bankrupted his way through life, but for the first time ever, his modus operandi isn’t gonna work and he is panicked. You know the shit is deep by how excruciatingly stupid are the excuses from the few remaining GOP sycophants unashamed to lie in public.

In a September 23, 2016 article for The Atlantic, Salena Zito wrote:

“It’s a familiar split. When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

Peter Thiel, tech billionaire and Trump supporter said in October 2016:

“I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media is always taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally. . . . I think a lot of voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally . . . their question is not, ‘Are you going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ . . . What they hear is we’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy.”

Last week Jim Jordan said Trump was joking when he asked China to investigate the Biden boys. “You really thank he was serious?” During the 2016 campaign we were told to take Trump seriously but not literally. Now we’re being told not to take him seriously … he’s a bad joke … got it?

Stick a fork in this bastard, he’s done. This “strategy” of putting his fingers in his ears and yelling incoherent bullshit while his sycophants stonewall in court with stupid process arguments is coming to a close. One charge in one jurisdiction or another is going to crack the dam and the flood of provable crimes will wash away America’s Trump Error.

The GOP donor class has used him and the complicit Republican Party to squeeze the last petro buck out of the earth. In the process, they have destroyed traditional alliances and caused worldwide chaos. Trump didn’t quite get them everything they wanted (worldwide authoritarian plutocracy) but he got them enough (massive redistribution of wealth upward and a stacked federal judiciary) for now.

The GOP and Trump have hit the point of diminishing returns, and so they are no longer viable. This is going to be Watergate, ABSCAM and Iran-Contra all rolled into one, and the GOP as a party should not survive.

What’s next will be a test of the American people across all demographics for “do we continue on the path the Founders set us upon to create a more perfect union,” or “will we take the road towards Steve Bannon’s vision of a Fourth Reich?”

I’m betting on the USA.

BTW, I never served, was never an official member of ROTC but I am a proud member of the National Honorary Society of Pershing Rifles. Don’t ask me how that happened, but one of my fraternity brothers is Gen. Colin Powell.

(Note from Marilyn on Colin Powell: He grew up just a few blocks from me and we went to the same elementary school!)

MAYBE IN FUTURE WE SHOULD JUST KEEP OUR HANDS TO OURSELVES – REBLOG – The Shinbone Star

Our sister paper, “The Amazon Washington Post,” has reported that our traitorous lump of a president has spun more than 12,000 lies or misleading claims during his time in the Oval Office. But one rare truth from the fetid lips of Donald Trump — as also reported by The Post — is just as troubling:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, right, pull the strings on their new Oval Office puppet, Donald Trump, on May 10, 2017. Trump, the beneficiary of Russian help to win the election, told his masters he thought it was great.


“President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries.”


While it’s not surprising to see Trump say he’s unconcerned that a traditional enemy of the United States would see it as beneficial to help him win an election, the part that really bothers me is Trump’s reported justification: “because the United States did the same in other countries.”

True?

Of course, it’s true, and I give Trump credit for saying it.

No American, liberal or conservative, is being honest with himself if he thinks such a thing had never occurred. The United States, probably more than any other nation on earth, influences policy in other countries, and often by means a lot more intrusive and deadly than was the salting of a few Russian lies all over your Facebook feed.

What gets me is the holier-than-thou outrage — especially from my fellow liberals — that a foreign adversary would ever do such a thing to the good old U.S. of A.

But don’t worry, I haven’t completely lost my mind by attacking liberals, I still have plenty of venom for conservatives who may accept that interference occurred, but don’t think it’s a problem that the Russians got exactly what they wanted in their boy Trump.

From a foreign policy perspective, perhaps one takeaway from all this should be that the United States, the world’s so-called “preeminent democracy,” should take more of a hands-off approach to how other sovereign countries conduct their business. At the same time, we must take steps to increase safeguards on our own election process.

Of course, that’s too simplistic and will never fly. But it’s something to think about while the impeachment train is rolling, hopefully toward a time when our Long National Nightmare is finally over and we can start to rebuild and learn from our mistakes.

BECOMING A POLITICAL PESSIMIST – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I used to look forward to reading the news. I know it sounds crazy, but every day I looked forward to reading about another advance in the Mueller investigation. It seemed to be moving inexorably toward its ultimate goal – the exposure of the crimes of Trump, his campaign and his family.

In my fantasy world, there would be a day of reckoning. Trump would be forced to resign or would be impeached. We’d get to watch all the shady characters around Trump get their comeuppance. Justice and the rule of law would be restored. And all this before the 2018 midterm elections!

Mueller is my only hope that something so cataclysmic will be revealed that even the soulless, spineless, amoral Republicans will throw up their hands and say “This is enough! We’re out!”

Unfortunately, my fantasy world is crumbling around me. The forces of evil seem to be winning – or at least not losing. Instead of anticipating exciting news from Mueller’s probe every day, I dread the day I’m going to read that Ron Rosenstein has been fired and that the Mueller investigation has been terminated. I know it’s coming. It’s just a question of when and how.

Once Mueller is gone, I’ll have nothing positive to look forward to politically except the 2018 elections. And they are too far away to get my blood boiling yet. Without my daily dose of hope from Mueller, I have nothing to blunt the impact of three and a half more years of a Trump Presidency. That is truly depressing.

I also don’t put too much hope for salvation on the upcoming elections. Even if the Democrats win the House of Representatives in November, they can impeach but they can’t convict and remove Trump from office. Only the Senate can do that with 67 votes – way more than the Democrats can even dream of winning.

So, barring a thunderbolt from Mueller, and soon, I can’t foresee anything keeping Trump from serving out his full term. And the damage he can do in three and a half more years is mind blowing!I feel for the country and fear for our democracy. I cringe at the thought of what this country will look like after four full years of a Trump Presidency.

I’m also selfish. How will I get through each day of Trump without a total moral and emotional breakdown? What will I cling to each day to get me through to the next? I can try to avoid the news. But for me, that can only last for a few days. I’m addicted and so is my husband. He’s even worse than I am.

Maybe after November, it will be enough for me to watch a Democratic House pummel Trump and renew criminal investigations into him and his merry band. Maybe that will be enough to keep me sane. Maybe it will be gratifying enough to watch the inevitable decline of the Republican Party. Maybe that will keep my spirits up.

Maybe watching Trump squirm under a Democratic thumb will brighten my days.

Who knows what will have happened by the time November rolls around? I pray it will be something with which I can maintain my equilibrium until the next national election.

THE REVOLUTION RESTARTS AT THE REGISTRY

RESTART – WHEN YOUR LICENSE EXPIRES


Some years back, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided they could save a few bucks if they stopped reminding people to renew their drivers licenses. We are all supposed to remember what year our license expires. Since drivers licenses are good for five years, pretty much no one remembers. If you miss the date, you can’t renew online. That means ONLY in person.

Registry of Motor Vehicles – Worcester

It doesn’t matter if it’s one day or 3 years overdue. If the license has expired, you must come to the RMV in person — to get an eye test. According to the RMV, there is a direct, if somewhat obscure and mystical connection between an expired license and failing eyesight.

Note: After 4 years, you have to start over as if you never had a license at all, including written and road tests.

To save us even more money, the Commonwealth decided to close down all the kiosk RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicle) mini offices at malls where you could get simple tasks completed quickly and conveniently. Then they closed more than half the local RMV branches, keeping only the main offices open.

Between one thing and another, the result is a guaranteed daily pile-up of disgruntled Massachusetts motorists at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Wait here!

Garry discovered his license had expired and came home upset. I tried to renew it on-line, but though it had expired less than two weeks earlier, he had to renew in person because he needed an eye test. A punitive eye test. It is your punishment for not noticing that your license was expiring. He wondered if he could defer it. No one wants to go to the RMV, but there’s no reprieve. Driving around with an expired license is not an option. Should something happen –even a minor fender bender — you would end up getting hit with a fine that would make your head spin.

We headed up to Worcester, which according to the RMV office was our nearest branch. That turned out to be untrue, but we needed to get it done and had barely enough time. Away we went. It was a trip backwards in time.

And still we wait.

I remember saying many years ago that when the revolution came, it will begin at the motor vehicle bureau where frustrated, tired, aggravated citizens get bounced from place to place in pursuit of accomplishing a simple goal in a reasonable length of time. That we were at the RMV at all was because some moron thought sending a postcard to licensed drivers every 5 years was costing too much money. I’d like to see a cost analysis on this brilliant piece of legislation.

There used to be dozens of queues at the RMV. In the bad old days, you waited on whichever line you thought was the right one until you got to the front, discovered you had been waiting on the wrong line, and were directed to some other place to restart.

After several hours of bouncing from line to line, with the queues getting longer and angrier as the day wore on, at 5 o’clock sharp, they’d close and tell you to come back another day. The new method eliminates lines. Not a queue in sight. The Powers That Be have used chaos theory and a non-linear approach to eliminate lines and logic simultaneously. It’s a new world, a science fiction world, a completely incomprehensible world.

To get you oriented, everyone starts on a single information line where you get a little deli counter paper ticket. On it is printed a 3-digit number preceded by a letter. We were I-256.

There are letter codes A, B, C, D, F, G, I and Z. I do not know what any of them mean or if they mean anything. I don’t know why those letters were chosen as opposed to other letters. It’s all part of the non-linear thing. In the front lobby, there is a single, rather small illuminated sign that flashes the next number up. There is no order to what combinations of numbers and letter might be next.

Any combination can be called any time to any window. There were about 24 queues, though not all were open. If you got lucky, you could hear a sotto voce announcement I’m sure Garry couldn’t hear at all and I could only hear parts of and only sometimes. There were words to the effect that “We are now serving A-132 at window 14” and that number would flash on the screen. Sometimes they would flash the number for a couple of minutes, sometimes for just a few seconds.

They might be serving Z-542 at window 2, followed by D-234 at window 17. Everyone hovered near the screen because the noise level precluded being able to hear anything. When finally your number was up, you had to dash madly to whatever line you were called, which could be a long run (in my case, hobble) to the other side of the building. No way to know how soon you would be waiting. You didn’t dare leave, not even to go the bathroom.

Garry was baffled. I said that the RMV had eliminated bourgeois linearity and gone to a non-linear chaos-based formula.

“What?” he said.

“Completely random,” I assured him. We were both having flashbacks to the near riots of the 1960s as the lines in the motor vehicle bureau would stretch into the street and around the block.

Finally?

There were just as many people waiting now as then, but there were no lines, just folks sitting on hard benches with dull, blank faces or milling around wondering what happened to order and logic, and why don’t they simply send a postcard reminding you to renew your license? It took three and a half hours.

I took some pictures. Security concluded I was a terrorist.  I took the pictures quickly. By the time they told me to put the camera away because “this is a State building!” (what that had to do with anything I don’t know), my camera was out of sight and I was standing around looking bored, annoyed, and out-of-sorts. Like everyone else.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Finally, they called us. Garry got a new picture which is nominally less horrible than the one he had for the past 10 years. He passed his eye test, signed an autograph for the lady who served us (who became much less rude and more helpful after recognizing Garry as the TV guy), and we finally got out of there.

Are they really saving money? I don’t think they actually pay for official mailings anyway, so it this simply one more way to annoy us? I don’t believe for a moment the savings are not more than offset by needing many more people at the RMV  rather than letting us renew our licenses on our computers. At home.

PIE IN THE SKY

Not long ago, I read a post detailing how America fares when stacked against other countries.

CapitolBuilding

We aren’t the richest or the most productive country . We have relatively high unemployment. Purchasing power per capita is unimpressive. We get salaries that sound good, but the cost of living overran our paychecks long ago. We’ve lost more jobs to automation than outsourcing. One machine, one robot replaces a dozen or two workers.

US_Income_Distribution_1968 (1)There are few jobs for unskilled laborers that can support a family. We manufacture too little, depend too much on service-based work.

Americans are convinced their government is awful. Corrupt. Really, our government is merely inefficient and mired in oppositional politics. Funny how after morons are in office, nobody voted for them. How did that happen?

Statistics are fragments, not a story. We’re having hard times and I doubt we’ll see the end of them quickly. We have work to do. Rethinking where people will work and what they’ll be paid.

Figuring out what we want from our government. Without the hyperbole and entrenched party positions. For all that, we don’t exactly live in Hell.

Statistics need context. We are not even close to a seriously corrupt nation, regardless of perception. I’ve seen corruption. We’re amateurs.

I wonder if Americans would really like living in one of those top-rated countries, like say Finland. Where 90% of your salary goes to taxes. You get great services and a safety net. You won’t wind up living in a crate and you’ll never die because you can’t afford surgery or medication. But there’s payback.

Socialism isn’t a terrible way to live, not even close to the nightmare portrayed by the GOP. It’s not heaven, either.

US_Income_Distribution_2009Mostly, it means working harder or better doesn’t get you a promotion, more money or even recognition. You are whatever your G rating is and move up  by seniority. It’s secure, but sort of dull.

Mind you, plenty of people can’t imagine living any other way. Lots of others would rather be here and would happily take their chances on capitalism. They think we complain too much. They have a point.

A friend of mine lived in Belgium for 15 years. He described it this way: “In Europe, if they don’t say it’s allowed, you can safely assume it’s forbidden. In the U.S., if they don’t tell you it’s forbidden, you know it’s allowed.”

That’s a huge difference.

Like every country, we have strong points and problems. We’ve made some progress, but not enough. Unlike small homogeneous countries — like Finland — we’re a conglomeration of people from everywhere. We’re never going to be like those other countries. We like our freedom too much.

We are what we are. Good and bad. But I am sure we will all live happily ever after. Because what other choice is there?

THE MYTH OF CLEAN GOVERNMENT

“If only we could get a clean candidate, we could have a government without corruption.”

Please, show me an example of an un-corrupt government. Anywhere, anytime in the history of the world. From the first known government (Egypt? China?) to today. Any form of government, even a town council. Because as far as I know, there is no such thing.

75-SignOfTheTimesNK-1

I finished re-reading “Imperium,” a fictionalized biography of Cicero. It whacked me with a reality check on government corruption and I realized (again) that Americans don’t “get” real corruption.

In Rome, those guys understood corruption. They were serious about their corruption. We are just dilettantes compared to them! More on this later.

72-Statehouse-Beacon-Hill_126

Never in this world, has there ever been a government free of corruption. It is the nature of government to be subject to … uh … um … what shall I call it? Oh, okay. Got it.

Pressure.

What do you mean by that?

Well, let’s see. Money. That’s a classic. Locally, we favor nepotism, a type of corruption whose popularity never wanes. Otherwise known as doing favors. Hey, they just need jobs, you know? It’s not a big deal, is it?

72-Cannon-Vertical-Uxbridge-0807_076

Find me a small town where the government isn’t composed of entrenched old families, their friends, friends of family, cousins of the friends of the families, their brothers and sisters in-and-out-of-laws.

What about constituents? You know, when we tell our pols what we want them to do or else we’ll throw them out. The stuff you and I want and demand, the stuff we think our government owes us because we are the people who elected them.

“What?” you say? “Isn’t that what government is all about?”

Right you are! A little question for you.

Does the fact that we want it mean it is moral? Just? Righteous? Legal? Fair? If you believe that, I have a bridge you can buy cheap.

72-Main-St-Uxbridge-GA_047

We want what we want. We don’t really care if it is for “the greater good.” We want what we want. We want it now. We deserve it. We voted for you and you are supposed to make it happen.

Pols who deliver the goods get re-elected. That’s the way it works. That’s the way it has always worked and always will. If you don’t think the electoral process itself is a form of corruption, you are missing the point.

It doesn’t matter who is applying the pressure — or why. The process of gaining and retaining power guarantees corruption.

72-Beacon-Hill_013

Personally, I would like my officials to do something good while they hold office. Preferably without getting caught, killed, impeached, indicted, imprisoned or exposed. Cynical? Moi?

I propose a movement for better corruption to require corrupt politicians to use their power — however ill-gained — to pass laws that make the world better. In my opinion. Because my opinion is the only opinion which counts.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN URBAN SCHOOL – JAMAICA HIGH SCHOOL

Why was Jamaica High School closed down?

1981.CREDITILLUSTRATION BY OLIVER MUNDAY; PHOTOGRAPHS BY VIC DELUCIA / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX; JACKSON KRULE (TOP-LEFT)

Jamaica High SchoolThe Jamaica High School building last year and, at right, in 1981.CREDITILLUSTRATION BY OLIVER MUNDAY; PHOTOGRAPHS BY VIC DELUCIA / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX; JACKSON KRULE (TOP-LEFT)


Jamaica High School, in Queens, was once the largest high school in the United States. For most of its history, it occupied a majestic Georgian Revival building on Gothic Drive, designed in the nineteen-twenties by William H. Gompert, who had begun his career at McKim, Mead & White. With east and west wings, granite columns, and an elaborate bell tower, the building looked like a state capitol that had been dropped into the middle of a residential neighborhood; it sat on the crest of a hill so imposing that planners would have been guilty of pretense had it housed anything other than a public institution.

One evening in June of last year, Jamaica students wearing red and blue gowns gathered with their families and teachers and with members of the school staff at Antun’s, a catering hall in Queens Village, for the senior-class commencement ceremony. Accompanying the festivities was the traditional graduation boilerplate—about life transitions and rising to new challenges—but it carried a particular significance on this occasion, because it was as applicable to the faculty and the staff, some of whom had been at the school for nearly three decades, as it was to the students. After a hundred and twenty-two years, Jamaica High School was closing; the class of 2014, which had just twenty-four members, would be the last.

The New York City Department of Education had announced the closure three years earlier, citing persistent violence and a graduation rate of around fifty per cent. Accordingly, the department had begun to “co-locate” four newly created “small schools” in the old building. Advocates argue that small schools can best resolve many of the ills associated with urban education, but the reorganization produced a logistical problem. The schools tended to operate like siblings competing for bathroom time. Access to the building’s communal spaces was at a premium. Unable to secure the auditorium for a graduating class of two dozen, Jamaica High School found itself, both figuratively and literally, pushed out.

Underscoring the indignities that attended the school’s last days was a difficult irony: for much of its time, Jamaica was a gemstone of the city’s public-education system. In 1981, the schools chancellor, Frank Macchiarola, decided to take on the additional role of an interim high-school principal, in order to better appreciate the daily demands of school administration. He chose Jamaica, and was roundly criticized for picking such an easy school to lead. Four years later, the U.S. Department of Education named it one of the most outstanding public secondary schools in the nation. Alumni include Stephen Jay Gould, Attorney General John Mitchell, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Walter O’Malley, Paul Bowles, and three winners of the Pulitzer Prize: Gunther Schuller, Art Buchwald, and Alan Dugan. Bob Beamon, who set a world record for the long jump in the 1968 Olympics, graduated with the class of ’65. The school’s closure felt less like the shuttering of a perennial emblem of stagnation than like the erasure of a once great institution that had somehow ceased to be so.

Jamaica had become an institution of the type that has vexed city policymakers and educators: one charged with serving a majority-minority student body, most of whose members qualified as poor, and whose record was defined by chronic underachievement and academic failure. Even so, word of the school’s closure angered students and their families, the community, and alumni. I was among them—I graduated with the class of ’87—and for me, as for many former students, the school was a figment of recollection, frozen in its academic glory. George Vecsey, the former Times sports columnist and a member of the class of ’56, accused Joel Klein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s schools chancellor, of “cooking the books,” to make schools slated for closure appear worse than they were, and compared the Department of Education’s closure policies to the nihilism of Pol Pot. Vecsey later apologized for having slighted the suffering of Cambodia, but he held to his contention that Klein ruled by dictatorial fiat. He wrote, in a blog, “The city destroyed a piece of history because of its own failure.”

There are two broadly competing narratives about school closure. The one commonly told by teachers, students, and many parents at underperforming schools centers on a lack of financial and material resources, which insures that the schools will be unable to meet even minimum standards. Strongly connected to this version is a belief that closure functions as a kind of veiled union-busting: shutting a school allows reformers to sidestep contracts and remove long-term teachers.

Reformers view closure as a necessary corrective to what they see as bloated bureaucracies, inept teachers, and unaccountable unions. They argue that urban schools are often too large to give students the attention they need. In 2000, the Gates Foundation began funding education reform, with an emphasis on reducing school size. Nine years later, in an annual newsletter, the foundation reported that its efforts had not met with significant success, particularly with schools “that did not take radical steps to change the culture, such as allowing the principal to pick the team of teachers or change the curriculum.” The foundation also said that it “had less success trying to change an existing school than helping to create a new school.” The reform movement nationwide increasingly saw closure and the creation of new institutions—as opposed to funding and reorganizing existing schools—as the way forward.

During the nineteen-forties, in a series of landmark tests conducted around the country, the psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark demonstrated that black children associated virtue and intelligence with whiteness, and had correspondingly internalized racist stereotypes of inferiority. Robert Carter, an attorney with the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund, heard of the Clarks’ work and brought it to the attention of Thurgood Marshall, who was then the legal fund’s director-counsel. Marshall made the Clarks’ findings central to the argument for school desegregation in the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. The decision made Kenneth Clark famous (while largely overlooking his wife’s role in structuring the experiment). Clark, who had grown up in Harlem and was a professor at the City College of New York, then turned his attention to the city government, which, he charged, had fostered segregation in the schools.

Arthur Levitt, then the president of the New York City Board of Education, responded that the schools merely reflected residential patterns: children who attended overwhelmingly black schools lived in overwhelmingly black neighborhoods. A Commission on Integration was set up to examine the issue, with Clark as one of the commissioners, and Levitt as co-chair, and it issued recommendations, which were never quite translated into policy. (Clark resigned, but continued to push for integration throughout his career.) In 1959, the Board of Education experimented by sending four hundred students from overcrowded black schools in Brooklyn to under-attended white schools in the Ridgewood and Glendale sections of Queens. The move was met with rancorous opposition and a brief boycott that anticipated the riotous response to busing in the seventies.

In 1949, John Ward, an African-American student whose family had migrated to New York from Virginia after the Second World War, enrolled at the school. Ward’s father was a bus mechanic, and his mother worked as a domestic; between them, they earned enough to buy a home in Jamaica. Ward recalls the area as a place where Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, African-Americans, and Jews lived in peaceful proximity. His house was not far from the grocery store that Mario Cuomo’s parents owned, and Ward, who played baseball as a boy, remembers the future governor from games in the neighborhood sandlots. The area had not yet entirely shaken its rural roots. “There were still people farming there,” Ward told me. “I remember seeing people butcher hogs on Linden Boulevard in the forties and fifties.”

Ward wanted to be a teacher, but Woodrow Wilson, the high school that most blacks in the area attended, was a vocational trade school. So he applied to Jamaica, which had acquired a reputation as one of the city’s strongest academic high schools. Ward initially found the rigor daunting. “My first semester, I failed about three major classes,” he told me. “My father said, ‘If you’re not going to work at school, you’ll have to get a job.’ ” Ward studied hard and spent an extra semester earning enough academic credits to apply to college. He played baseball well enough to be selected for the All-City team in 1954, his senior year. “I don’t really recall there being much racial tension,” he said of the school. “The blacks mostly hung out with other black students, but, being an athlete, I interacted with a lot more of the white students.” For a few years in the fifties, Jamaica’s integrated athletics teams, with their winning records, were a point of pride for the school. In 1954, Ward was elected the school’s first black class president.

He was accepted at Morgan State University, a historically black institution in Baltimore, but his family couldn’t afford the tuition, so he played D-League baseball for a few years, then applied to the New York City police academy, and, in 1960, became one of the first black members of the motorcycle corps. Of the more than three hundred graduates in Ward’s police-academy class, fewer than two dozen were African-American. In 1974, he was promoted to a plainclothes unit working out of the 114th Precinct. “Out of sixteen guys, I was the black on the street-crimes unit,” he told me. His career on the force was, at least demographically, a replay of his experiences at Jamaica, and Ward later credited the school with giving him not only an excellent education but also the skills that allowed him to navigate primarily white environments. “Jamaica being integrated in the fifties was something unusual,” he told me. “But it was also a place where I felt I belonged.”

South Jamaica’s black population continued to grow in the fifties and sixties, though not all of it was as economically stable as Ward’s family. In 1947, when the Olympian Bob Beamon was still a baby, his mother died, and he was eventually sent to live with a guardian in a rough part of the neighborhood. After a troubled childhood and a brush with juvenile court, which resulted in his being sent to a remedial, “600” school, Beamon became convinced that if he could get into Jamaica he could turn his life around. Four decades later, in a memoir, “The Man Who Could Fly,” he wrote of the school in nearly ecclesiastical terms:

Mr. Louis Schuker, the principal at Jamaica High, had a long talk with me and Coach Ellis. He said the odds of a 600 school student making it in a regular school environment were next to zero. His admonition to me was reminiscent of the one given by the judge who had sentenced me to the 600 school.

“Beamon, any trouble out of you and you are out of here,” Mr. Schuker said. “Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, sir,” I answered firmly and clearly. I knew that I wasn’t going anywhere but Jamaica High. This was where I wanted to be. This was where I belonged.

It’s easy to wax idealist about the happy spaces of one’s childhood, but in Beamon’s case the assessment can’t be so easily dismissed. He traced his desire to compete in the Olympics to a visit that the track-and-field star Wilma Rudolph, a triple gold medalist in the 1960 Games, paid to Jamaica during his sophomore year. The school was a place where someone like him, who grew up poor in a crime-plagued neighborhood, stood a chance of encountering someone like Rudolph.

Jamaica High School

Read the entire article via Scoop.it from: www.newyorker.com


Notes from a graduate of Jamaica High:

I attended Jamaica High School, graduating from it in 1963. Those were probably the last peak years of the school. It had issues of racial non-integration. Despite the author’s statement, in the years I attended it was anything but racially homogeneous. Kids ran with kids like themselves, more or less divided down the lines of ethnicity and race.

There was little active hostility between the groups and a surprising amount of cross-pollination and dating. The school was far from perfect, but there existed a cadre of talented and dedicated teachers who made themselves available to those who wanted to learn, or who needed help.

Was it a model for the future? There were standardized tests — Regents exams — but these were based on what we learned in school, not on some bureaucrats notion of what we should “know.” Most of us came out better than we went in. And that’s saying a lot, especially these days.

On a lighter note, it was the only high school of which I’ve ever heard to cancel the senior prom (1963) due to lack of interest.


 

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About the Author

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

Jelani Cobb has been a contributor to The New Yorker and newyorker.com since 2013, writing frequently about race, politics, history, and culture.

MEDICARE TO SENIORS: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE?

If you’re on Medicare, that’s the message you’re getting.

Out-of-pocket costs of Medicare have been going up annually, with ever-higher deductibles and premiums and a massive doughnut hole in prescription coverage that like the energizer bunny just keeps going and going and going. Many of the most fundamental, critical medications aren’t covered at all — emergency and other inhalers for asthma sufferers, nitroglycerin, newer antibiotics. Out-of-pockets costs are terrifying. Now, they’ve added a new twist. Something special to make us feel the love.

Coffin

I had my semi-annual physical a few weeks ago. These are supposed to be no-cost, no deductible preventative visits. Included in the visit were some standard blood tests and vaccinations. Three of the vaccinations were boosters to the vaccinations we got as children: polio, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping-cough (which is making a come-back). One was against shingles, which apparently is an issue for anyone over 60 who had chicken pox.

When I got my statement from Medicare, I expected to find maybe $20 due for the lab. Instead, there was an outstanding balance of $464, all for vaccinations. More than $300 of those dollars was for the shingles vaccine. No way can I come up with this amount of money on our fixed income.

Medicare had covered none of it. It said my “other insurance” (what other insurance? I’m on a Medicare PPO Advantage plan) didn’t pay anything either.

medicare confusion

When my husband’s Medicare statement for his physical arrived, there was another $265 for vaccinations, all boosters. I compared the statements. Garry is not on an advantage plan. He’s on straight Medicare with a “Medigap” policy that never seems to pay anything no matter what the claim.

That was when I realized how they’d done it. Vaccinations are no longer a medical expense. They are prescription medication.

Medicare reclassified vaccinations as prescription medication so they now fall under Medicare Part D. None of the prescription plans ever have — or ever will — cover vaccinations.

Medicare decided it’s cheaper to let old people get sick (maybe they’ll die and save even more money) than to vaccinate them against disease. Because while millions might avail themselves of preventative measures (we are old, not stupid), many fewer will actually contract the illness. Cost analysis won.

I’m so angry, so upset, I’ve been waking up early in the morning already in a rage. Brooding on the kind of mentality which leaves us — people who worked our whole lives and paid tons of money into this system — vulnerable because our government has misused our funds.

I will not go into the history of this mess, except to say it started under Reagan, and has continued apace. With everyone crying crocodile tears over Medicare — while spending the money earmarked to keep us safe in our senior years.

Meanwhile, I’ve got about $700 of medical bills I have no idea how to pay. They never said they won’t pay for vaccinations. They just reclassified them as “medication,” knowing full well that no plan would pay for it. No Medigap plan covers prescriptions, so you are well and truly screwed.

Ever since I turned 65, it’s been a downhill slide.

The day I turned 65, I was dumped by MassHealth (Medicaid). I hoped I’d be protected by my disabled status. I’d been on disability for years which was why I was entitled to MassHealth.

No problem getting around that. Social Security simply reclassified (sound familiar?) me. I’m just old, not disabled. They switched me to standard Social Security. I get the same monthly money, but without medical protection. They also lowered the poverty guidelines so we no longer qualify for the extra help on prescriptions.

“Why don’t you just die already? Stop using up valuable resources.”

Obviously, we’ve outlived our usefulness. So how come we are not dead yet?

When did the United States become such a mean-spirited country? When did we decide it would be better for us to get sick or die rather than give us proper care? How did we come to this? Who are we?

I get the message. Just die already. If you are not outraged, you must think somehow this will never affect you. Think again.


NOTE: Well said, for all of us — of a certain age. The old man was right!

“Generosity. That was my first mistake.” Obviously, not my last.

Apparently we have outlived our value to the society we served so long and so well. You are welcome.

Garry Armstrong

A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY BULLETIN UPDATE

ANNOUNCEMENT, ANNOUNCEMENT!

Next Tuesday will occur on Wednesday. In the name of keeping myself sane, I’ve decided to do this prompt a mere once per week. On Wednesday. Because Wednesday’s child is full of woe and it’s the middle of the week.

WARNING: TODAY IS NOT WEDNESDAY. TODAY IS SATURDAY. THIS IS NOT A PROMPT. IT IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS PROMPT.

A NEW PROMPT WILL APPEAR VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29th.


I like telling stories linked to pictures. To help the process along, every Wednesday, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use any of my pictures if you like, or any of yours. Link it back to that day’s post (ping back) so other people can find it.

You will have to forgive me if I miss a day here and there, or if Thursday is comes out on Friday.

Feel free to jump in.

What do I mean by “story” and “pictures”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about

What to write about?

Your trip to Paris. You flight from Irkutsk. You favorite dog, cat, ferret, cockatoo. The weird boyfriend you had in high school. The last book you read, the next book you plan to read, why you don’t read books (but you write them)(don’t write them)(would like to write them).

Television shows, movie stars, classic film, history, language. Fiction, non-fiction. Everything, anything as long as you include a picture and some text.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple because it is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. You are free to follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text will do it. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.


So as not to waste this space, I give you the pictures I took this morning of a vase containing my very own, fresh-from-the-garden daffodils sometimes accompanied by Robbie, The Robot. Robbie loves flowers. I couldn’t keep him away. He quite insisted on being included.


  1. GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER – Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  2. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Let’s start with a Serendipitous Bang (DAY 4) 
  3. MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL – Thursday, April 23, 2015
  4. Photos and Stories behind them – day four – The secret places in Bern the capital town of Switzerland
  5. I Went To A Carnival, And A Baseball Game Broke Out!
  6. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT | A Day In The Life
  7. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY #2 – MEET TILLY 
  8. Spam-Bam Thank You Ma’am | Cordelia’s Mom
  9. And on the Eighth Day, God said … | Cordelia’s Mom
  10. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Early Peacock View and tiger spotting
  11. Size doesn’t matter… | The Happy Quitter
  12. Photos and Stories behind them: Day Five – The Birds
  13. Life’s A Ditch | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  14. Of mountains and things | Willow’s Corner
  15. A Serendipitous Story
  16. Statue of Limitations | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  17. Tradeoffs | Willow’s Corner
  18. oddments | Willow’s Corner

A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT – 2015 #2

This could be a hit or a flop, but it’s worth a try.

I like telling stories linked to pictures. To help the process along, every Wednesday, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. Sometimes, it may be a relatively long post. Other day, you’ll see just a couple of sentences. You can use whatever picture I post  or any picture I have posted — or any picture of your own — as a prompt. Link it back to this post (ping back) so other people can find it.

You will have to forgive me if I miss a day here and there, or if Wednesday turns out to be Friday (occasionally).

Feel free to jump in.

What do I mean by “story” and “pictures”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about

What to write about?

Your trip to Paris. You flight from Irkutsk. You favorite dog, cat, ferret, cockatoo. The weird boyfriend you had in high school. The last book you read, the next book you plan to read, why you don’t read books (but you write them)(don’t write them)(would like to write them).

Television shows, movie stars, classic film, history, language. Fiction, non-fiction. Everything, anything as long as you include a picture and some text.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple because it is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. You are free to follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text will do it. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.


My entry for today:

A SERENDIPITY PHOTO STORY – THURSDAY APRIL 24, 2015

The headline in Boston Globe:

MARIJUANA ADVOCATES EYE LEGALIZATION IN MASS.

An effort has been launched to both get a question calling for the drug’s legalization on the 2016 ballot and to raise enough money for victory.

What happened?  Massachusetts passed a referendum making medical marijuana legal more than two years ago. After which, as so often happens, it vanished.

I bet legalizing it would have the same result. Nothing. Nada. Maybe they would stop busting people for smoking a joint at a concert … or would they? I suppose it depends on how the law is worded. I’m sure legalization would not make dope cheaper or more available.

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Why not? Because this is Massachusetts. Not only (to quote Tip O’Neill) is all politics local, but absolutely everything is political. Everything is a power play between dueling egos.

They can “eye legalization” all they want, but it won’t help me or my buddies. They’ll find a way to keep us from getting any. By the time they finish with the legal gobbledygook, it will be easier to buy it illegally. Like always.

I figure the process will be like applying for MassHealth. Fill out a thousand page form. Mail it in. Call six weeks later to learn they lost it. Fill in a another form. They’ll tell you it’s too late to meet the deadline (because they lost the first one). Eventually, they will start to process the application. If you don’t die in the interim, a year or two down the road, you’ll get fantastic medical benefits.

Weed? The price will be too high. You’ll realize what a bargain the illegal stuff was. Taxes alone will exceed the original non-legal price by hundreds of percent.

Dream on, you aging hippies. It ain’t gonna happen here. Not in our lifetime.


  1. GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER – Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  2. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Let’s start with a Serendipitous Bang (DAY 4) 
  3. MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL – Thursday, April 23, 2015
  4. Photos and Stories behind them – day four – The secret places in Bern the capital town of Switzerland
  5. I Went To A Carnival, And A Baseball Game Broke Out!
  6. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT | A Day In The Life
  7. A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY #2 – MEET TILLY | MY OTHER BLOG – Living in Tasmania and loving it.
  8. Spam-Bam Thank You Ma’am | Cordelia’s Mom
  9. And on the Eighth Day, God said … | Cordelia’s Mom
  10. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Early Peacock View and tiger spotting
  11. Size doesn’t matter… | The Happy Quitter
  12. Photos and Stories behind them: Day Five – The Birds
  13. Life’s A Ditch | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  14. Of mountains and things | Willow’s Corner
  15. A Serendipitous Story
  16. Statue of Limitations | Evil Squirrel’s Nest
  17. Tradeoffs | Willow’s Corner
  18. Oddments | Willow’s Corner

AMERICANS ARE FAT … AND GETTING FATTER …

Doobster at Mindful Digression wrote a piece today about how fat Americans are. He noted, among other statistics, that poverty food tends to be unhealthy. Duh. Being poor and eating well are contradictions in terms. If you live on a very limited and/or fixed income, you can’t eat a healthy diet. You can’t afford it.

Let’s start with who is poor.

Old people are poor, or at least a large percentage of them. Also poor? Some very hard-working but low-income workers. The people who serve you in restaurants, pump your gas, do all those jobs you don’t want to do and probably never think about — if you can help it.

You might want to read Senior poverty is much worse than you think, or Senior Poverty: Action Needed to Address A Growing Problem even though these studies are not really up-to-date and the poverty scenario for older people is worse now than when these studies were published. A State-by-State Snapshot of Poverty Among Seniors: Findings From Analysis of the Supplemental Poverty Measure is pretty interesting too.

Nationally, nearly half of all seniors (48%) live with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty threshold (under the supplemental measure), compared to 34 percent under the official measure.3 The share of seniors with incomes below 200 percent of poverty is higher under the supplemental measure in every state than under the official measure.
Under the supplemental measure, at least two-fifths of seniors (40%) have incomes below 200 percent of poverty in 48 states and in DC; using the official measure, this is the case in only six states.

At least half of seniors have incomes below 200 percent of poverty in 10 states and DC based on the supplemental measure: DC (59%); California (56%); Hawaii (55%); Georgia (54%); Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee (52%); Florida and Mississippi (51%); and Arizona (50%).

In terms you might understand more easily, 100% of the government poverty “line” for a couple in Massachusetts is $12,000/per year. You can get some kind assistance — senior housing, for example — up to 400% of that amount. After that, no matter what the actual cost of living or your personal circumstances, even if 75% of your money goes to pay for medicine you need to survive, you’re out of luck. And the total amount is much less in other states. Poverty is relative to the cost of living based on where you are.

Poverty food is high in fat and carbs, low in protein. No fresh vegetables … or anything that isn’t prepackaged or canned. Mac & Cheese, the fallback position of poor people throughout our land, along with every other kind of pasta and rice, not to mention instant mashed potatoes — offer no real food value. But at least you don’t have to be hungry.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD

Eating healthy is more expensive than “poverty food” — carbohydrates, sugar, and fat. The price of eating healthy keeps going up, too. There are no options for those on limited incomes. We (personally) choose to eat less so we can eat better, but our cupboard is often bare. We buy just enough for dinner, a light lunch, and coffee in the morning. There’s no spare. Not going to be doing any entertaining in the foreseeable future.

As social security and pension money does NOT rise — ever — and the cost of living ALWAYS rises, we can but hope we need less food.

The price of chicken and fish is easily 50% more than it was a year ago, but the money on which we live is the same. Chicken? Really? Has chicken feed risen that much? It can’t be the transportation costs, because that’s way down in the past year. So you figure maybe it’s price gouging?

I know all you Republicans out there think we live on government handouts, high (as it were) on the hog. But those governments handouts are pretty hard to come by. I don’t get any and neither does anyone I know. Even those who technically qualify don’t seem to be able to get what they need.

We don’t qualify for any help because although we do not have enough to live on, we are “rich” by government standards. That means we do not get help paying for medications and I specifically do not take medicines that cost a lot. I can’t afford them. Medical conditions go untreated or are treated using less than the best medicines. There’s nothing to be done about it. Dental care is a crisis. Needing new glasses is time for fear and trembling.

All we can do is keep tightening our belts and hoping that we won’t outlive our money. The government levels of “acceptable” poverty for senior citizens is so low no one could live on it at all, much less in dignity. Or afford proper medication, food, and utilities. Or have any fun at all. But hey, why should the poor — grandma and granddad — have any fun? They are old, so all they need to do is survive. If they die, so what? They had their lives already.

The food the poor can afford — most of them working poor who don’t earn enough to feed themselves or their family — rely on food pantries to make up at least part of the gap. Food pantries try desperately hard to help and without them, there would be even more starvation than there is. They deserve a lot of credit for their efforts.

But what do they distribute? Lots of carbs. Boxes and boxes of pasta, beans, mac & cheese. Canned vegetables (past date, mostly) because that’s what gets donated by those with plenty. Nothing fresh, nothing healthy. The poor are not entitled to eat well. In the opinion of many, they are not entitled to eat at all. And it is the mainstay of every comedian’s best monologue about how FAT the POOR are. Really terribly funny. I’m laughing all the way to the food bank.

While everyone is busy laughing heartily at the Walmart crowd, consider that they represent a rather broad cross-section of America’s poor of whatever region you care to name. Fat? Yes, they are. Given their diet, it’s inevitable. They aren’t going to their gyms. They have no gyms for people without discretionary income. And when these people get through with their poorly paying no-future jobs, do you figure they go exercise on that machinery they got with the spare money the government throws at them?

We should be a lot more ashamed of ourselves than we are, but we are so busy blaming poor people for their own problems, how the poor are lazy and unwilling to work because they are busy stuffing their faces with junk food. The working poor I know … and sadly, I know a fair number of them … are hard-working and ambitious. They just don’t have anywhere to work which will pay them a living wage. No one is interested.

So if you had to live on what they live on, I bet you’d stuff your face with junk food too. Because junk food is better than no food. Even if it makes you fat.


I Got Skills – If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick? I have skill at writing. Today I am trying to make use of it to highlight a social problem, a growing injustice, an issue of reality.  I never chose writing. It picked me long ago.

YOUR BUSINESS IS IMPORTANT TO US

It’s an epidemic, a pandemic  — of bad service.

Do you remember when the customer was always right? I do. It wasn’t that long ago.

Customer satisfaction and service was the norm until approximately 2002, at which point everyone — more or less simultaneously — decided to save money by “automating” customer service, eliminating it entirely, or shipping it overseas to be handled by people who speak heavily accented English and don’t know anything about the products they are supposed to be supporting. That was when you and me, the customers, the ones who spend our limited, disposable income on their products or services, became unimportant.

outofserviceThat was the year when we all became not worth the effort of answering a question, or supplying documentation. The gold standard for customer service became … nothing. These days, after slightly more than a decade of working out the details, most organizations do not offer any service to their customers. At all.

The overall attitude is “do the least you can — nothing, if you can get away with it. All customers are liars and thieves. Treat them as such.”

Customer disservice. I think I’m permanently pissed off. Even thinking about calling a customer service department gets my blood boiling. I’m shocked if I’m treated well. Delighted, but shocked.

SO WHAT DO I HATE?

Recorded phone solicitations that interrupt your sleep, meals, conversations, and the show you’re watching. Calls that display on caller ID as familiar phone numbers, but they’ve hacked your data or bought it from someone from whom you bought something.

waiting

Fake charitable organizations, many supposedly in support of breast cancer research or some other form of advocacy. Who take your money and use it to line their own pockets.

“Surveys” that are nothing but scams to collect your private data for sale and misuse.

“Discount cards” for every shop you go to, all of which are a way to collect your personal information so they can sell it. Because you may not be worth much as a customer, but your buying habits sell for big bucks.

Voice-mail systems at doctor’s offices with so many options you can’t recall the first option halfway through the message. The recordings go on and on, until you are ready to scream. Worse, you have to listen to the entire spiel every time you call. The message starts with “Please listen to this entire message before making your selection. Our menu choices have recently changed …” Recently was 10 months ago … or a year or more. You can sing along with the recording because you’ve heard it so many times.

CustServCartoon

Many places no longer offer any option of speaking to a live person. Try to find a live human being at your electric company, cable provider, or credit card company.

Our electric company had customer service. Today, if you can find their phone number, a recorded message will tell you to visit the website. Online. Not quite what you need when the power’s off. Make sure you have their actual phone number on your device. You can’t look it up online when there’s no electricity because if there’s no electricity, there’s also no cable or WiFi.

If your whole life is online, it’s over when the power goes out.

Death cust serv

Assuming you can worm your way through voice mail and finally push the magic number to connect you to a live agent, you hear: “Your business is important to us …” followed by Muzak and a 40-minute wait on hold. Better yet, it’s the long wait, followed by a disconnect and dial tone.

96-Waiting-Worcester

Bad (automated) service is particular noxious when it’s a local company. You know both office workers are probably playing games on Facebook while you listen to their 5-minute voice-mail message. All you wanted to do was ask on which night they are open late. By the end of the message, you no longer care.

THERE ARE STILL SOME GOOD ONES OUT THERE 

Amazon and Audible. Audible is an Amazon company now, but they always had terrific customer service. The more I deal with Amazon, the less I want to deal with anyone else. They are proof getting service does not have to be a nightmare. Trauma need not part of all interactions with vendors, medical facilities, utilities, or other corporations.

AT&T is good. Not as good as Amazon, but you can eventually get a real live person who knows what they are doing. And oddly enough, Medicare and Social Security. Though you may need to wait on hold for a while, you will get a live person in the end — and they will speak your language. They will stay on line with you as long as it takes. Credit where it’s due. These underpaid public servants try hard to help you.

L.L. Bean has wonderful customer service. Land’s End is good too.

To everyone else, I offer a big raspberry and a Bah Humbug in honor of the season.

GENEROSITY. MY FIRST MISTAKE.

My husband’s statement from Medicare showed a charge (paid by Medicare) for a doctor neither of us had ever heard of. This wasn’t the first time such a charge had appeared and I was fed up with phantom charges, even if they didn’t personally cost us anything.

I called the number on the Medicare summary to which one was supposed to address issues of fraud. After half an hour on hold, I got a person … who told me I needed to call the “Fraud Hotline.” Following some grousing (I was merely trying to be a good citizen … Medicare was the one getting hit with bogus charges, not us), I called the hotline.

75-WalmartNK-2

More like a cold line. Endless voicemail options. Press this, press that, press the next thing, press another thing … and then …

You got it. Wait on hold for another half hour.

When finally I get through, I provided the information. Then, I pointed out if they are serious about stopping fraud, they might want to make it less of a challenge to report it. She said that’s the way the hotline is, nothing to be done about it and I mentally threw my arms in the air and gave up.

It turns out it was actually Walmart (who we already paid for Garry’s eye exam), billing Medicare for yet another eye exam with the optometrist’s wife — who he had never heard of and never seen. Another $100 on top of the $110 he already paid to Walmart. Nice little scam, eh?

Apparently no one appreciated my attempt at good citizenship and like Calvera in “The Magnificent Seven,” I realized “Generosity, that was my first mistake.”

I spent nearly 2 hours trying to report a fraud … and no one cares. As far as Medicare is concerned, it is more trouble to track down scams than to just pay them off.

And here we sit, wondering where our money goes.

Wonder no more. I know where it goes.

CAPITALISM EXPLAINED – FINALLY!

I don’t usually publish stuff I find on Facebook, but there’s an exception to every rule. This made me laugh and I really need a laugh. It didn’t get to me until I got to Canadian Capitalism. Then, I lost it. Happy Election Day!

WARNING: This is a joke. It is not intended to make a serious point. It’s silly and funny. Please, let’s not turn it into a political debate.

capitolism-explained

Daily Prompt: To pledge allegiance and mean it

I promise to love my country and no one has to force me to do it. I will love the United States regardless, but like a child, I won’t always approve of her behavior.

Flag on our Library

One of the things I love best about this nation is exactly that we are allowed to say we don’t care for what she is doing, what her leaders are doing. There’s no Hell to pay for it. No one comes in the middle of the night to arrest me for saying — or publishing — what I think. You can disagree with me. The government can disagree with me. Everyone can send me strongly worded messages opposing whatever it is they find objectionable in what I say, do or publish … but that’s as far as it goes. At least so far.

75-GloryHPCR-5

We may not be nice to one another, but we don’t have concentration camps — not anymore — and we’ve managed to make some progress towards equality in the past 60 years. Okay, we aren’t there yet, but at least we seem to be trying to go in the right direction.

Not Flags of War

Even when historically, we derail for a while, we equally historically find our way back to the good path, though it may take more time than we like. Ours may not be the best form of government on earth … but if it isn’t, please show me the better one? Because I haven’t found it. And I have looked. However imperfectly this government functions, there is none better. Maybe there are a few just as good — arguably, anyhow — but not superior.

75-FlagHighNIK_88

Does that make me a patriot? I think it does. I think the Constitution is a brilliant, if flawed, document that has shown itself to be flexible enough to grow with the changes in the world. If only mens’ minds were equally flexible.

Ghoul Soldier

I believe we are strong enough to survive hard times, bad presidents, well-intentioned but wrong presidents, bad legislation, bad legislators, scandal, corruption and stupid wars. And still be a good people. If that isn’t patriotism, then I don’t know what is. I am not always proud of this country, but I always love it.