Archive for June, 2017

“My Summer Vacation” (Sierra Star for 7/6/17)

June 30, 2017
heart normal anterior view of exterior structures

Medical Illustrations by Patrick Lynch, generated for multimedia teaching projects by the Yale University School of Medicine, Center for Advanced Instructional Media, 1987-2000.

 

When a lab technician stares at the screen and loudly proclaims, “Wow!” — adding, “Don’t you feel that?”, one realizes he is at the scene of breaking news.

Every year in early summer, Eileen and I travel back east to Syracuse, NY, where we were both born at Memorial Hospital on “the hill” adjacent to Syracuse University. I remember Jim Brown jogging on the sidewalk in front of our house on Ackerman Avenue when I was a kid.

We enjoyed a great week with family and friends, including several days at Alexandria Bay near the Thousand Island Bridge on the St. Lawrence River, now at its highest level in memory and threatening to flood the city of Montreal upstream. Many of the little islands are completely underwater. Tourism has been greatly curtailed and it has recently kept on raining days at a time. But there’s no such thing as global warming.

Then I suddenly started feeling weird and super tired. By Sunday morning I was huffing and puffing like that little train that could, except I couldn’t. I could barely stand up.

Moderate COPD enthusiastically earned smoking 2 1/2 packs a day for 40 years colliding with the mysterious onslaught of severe heart arrhythmia in the form of Atrial Flutter (with a consequential pulse rate relentlessly racing at 150 beats and above for over 50 hours) brought about radical shortness of breath and marked pneumonia .

Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts. The left ventricle is the heart’s main driving chamber pumping oxygenated blood through the ascending aorta to the rest of the body, so ejection fraction is usually measured only in the left ventricle. An LV ejection fraction of 55 percent or higher is considered normal. I was clocked at 30 — a little over half of that. Stroke City, here we come.

Such warranted four days of hospital stay, but all has been successfully addressed. Happily there was no permanent heart muscle damage as originally anticipated when treatment was initiated. But Eileen and I did miss our Tuesday flight home.

Arranging our delayed return home, an exercise complicated by heavy Fourth of July bookings, brought an unpleasant encounter with corporate compassion. Although armed with a handwritten note on hospital stationary penned by a prominent Syracuse cardiologist explaining my plight, it cost more for us to fly back to Fresno than the price of our original round trip tickets. “Sorry. Company policy!” It was pay or stay. Climate change deniers must be in charge.

While I was recuperating, Clown Boy struck again with a brutal attack on Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC with five major lies viciously compressed into two mindless tweets.

Legendary New York ad agency icon and TV host Donny Deutch, guest appearing on “Morning Joe”, proclaimed Trump “a pig” adding, “Let’s face it. When it comes to appearance, a quality he constantly brings up criticizing others, Donald himself looks absolutely disgusting.” Cautioned that he was taking “the low road”, Deutch emphatically stated, “It’s time we all did. This guy is a menace.”

This weekend Cheese Child finally meets Putin in Hamburg.

“Step into my parlor said the spider to the fly.”

It’s great being home again.

Don’t smoke.

 

 

Sent from my iPad

 

“Eve of Obstruction”

June 15, 2017

Keebler Jeff

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice.”

 Donald J. Trump

3:55 AM – 15 June 2017

Nice.

The “Russians story” isn’t phony, there’s plenty of proof, and “obstruction of justice” is certainly much clearer than how you can possibly think you look good with that thing on your head.

Mister President? Why don’t you just jump on a broom like the Wicked Witch of the West and circle the White House, replacing “Surrender Dorothy” with — “I’m Guilty!”

 That would save us all time, attention, money and face. We do need to move along, discarding you on the trash heap of history as a mock messiah unworthy of memory for having shamed us all with bitter betrayal, national disgrace and global dishonor.

The self-indicting tweet confirmed a report in the Washington Post that the Republican President was personally the subject of an extensive criminal investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstructing justice. Upon learning of same, Trump seriously contemplated firing Mueller just as he had FBI Director James Comey, but was finally dissuaded by the few clear heads left in his inner circle. Not you Steve Bannon.

All this was after Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard “Pee Wee” Sessions testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee as it continued its own investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as any ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Futilely attempting to radiate elfin innocence with a sugar sweet smile and an occasionally engaging “y’all” drawl, Pee Wee did past audition as a future poster boy for the Smedema Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting amnesia. Rolling Stone magazine counted 25 separate times Pee Wee encountered a major memory lapse while testifying. They might have been stoned. Several other publications came up with 26.

California’s own new Senator, Kamala Harris, pointedly noted to Sessions that even in the brief opening remarks he submitted to the Committee in advance of his appearance, “Just on the first page you wrote,” nor do I recall”, “do not have recollection” and “do not remember it.”

 Senator Harris did us proud in rapidly pounding away at Pee Wee until Senator John McCain interrupted her in mid sentence by pounding the table, yelling, “Mr. Chairman, the witness should be allowed to answer the question!”

 Sessions did so, although confessing with due embarrassment that Senator Harris made him “nervous.” Yes. And she’s a woman!

The question Pee Wee was wildly attempting to wiggle his way out of was what he meant by refusing to answer anything he discussed with President Trump, alleging a long held “policy of communications confidentiality.” No one present had ever heard of such a thing. Pee Wee insisted this was not a matter of “Executive Privilege” or even “classified information.” He also wasn’t sure any such rule existed in writing. Anywhere. Adding intentional avoidance to chronic amnesia has started quite a fuss. Some feel Pee Wee should be charged with Contempt of Congress. Senator Elizabeth Warren flatly stated he should be immediately dismissed. Others swear they will never eat Keebler Cookies again.

Trump will be going down. All loyal hangers-on will be going down. History will be unforgiving.

Although “Obstruction of Justice” is emerging as initial candidate for inclusion in a Bill of Impeachment before the House of Representatives, we are scratching the surface.

The ultimate end will be a dollars deal. It usually is.

Forget the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy.

Follow the money.

 

 

 

“Batman v. Trump”

June 11, 2017

Batman-BenAffleck

Last week we lost 88 year-old Adam West, an iconic actor best known for his role as DC Comic’s Batman in the spectacularly successful ’66-’68 ABC TV revival of the legendary franchise dating back to May of 1939.

As with other super heroes packing movie theaters through succeeding generations, the Batman character epitomizes beliefs, balances and behaviors commonly regarded by the greatest majority of our citizenry through the years as core national values. The kinds of things you teach your kids.

Perhaps Superman proclaimed it best. “Truth, Justice and The American Way!”

Batman would have had little use for Donald J. Trump. Nor would Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or Wonder Woman. Try giving HER a grab, President Puffball.

Trump can’t tell the truth, thinks “justice” means “just us” and believes the American Way is measured in karats, not character.

I watched former FBI Director Jim Comey’s live testimony under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee from start to finish. I found him clearly confident and highly credible. As any professional pool player would quickly recognize, Comey brilliantly set the table for future things to come. When ABC’s Jon Karl later sprang his own trap on Trump, Donald instantly snapped at the bait like a starving sturgeon. Would the President testify giving his “version of events” under oath? You bet. “One hundred percent!” roared the response. Don’t hold your breath.

Latest Quinnipiac polling shows the Republican President hitting yet another new low with a plunging approval rating of 34%, the worst ever recorded. A full 57% of the 2,000 + sample registered disfavor. An even larger majority of respondents (68%) believe that the President is not “level headed” – including 64% of Republicans. Incidentally, these figures were obtained before Comey went before the Senate Committee and swore under penalty of perjury “the administration chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, and that the work force had lost confidence in its leader. These were lies – plain and simple.”

 The initial White House response?

“I can definitely say the President is not a liar,” lied Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee “Southern Baptist Minister’s Daughter” Sanders.

Being unable to secure personal representation from four respectable Washington law firms due to his established legal reputation for “not listening and not paying,” Trump has turned to an old go-to lawyer, New York’s Marc Kasowitz, to act in his stead during the current Russia probe. Marc arrives on the scene quite cozy with the subject at hand since Kasowitz recently represented a major Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank and one particular company owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska with proven connections to the Kremlin. It’s a small world after all.

And it’s going faster all the time.

I can’t believe it’s been seven and a half years since Alan Cheah and I began writing this “For Your Consideration” column, starting in January of 2010. Along with Editor Brian Wilkinson, Publisher Betty Linn has been with us all the way, providing Sierra Star readers with a perhaps more progressive outlook on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “(more Superman) than otherwise occasionally encountered. As you may have read, Betty is retiring from the Star at the end of this week, but surely not from Oakhurst and all the friends and admirers who love her dearly.

Thank you Betty for being there for all of us, right, left and center, all the time every time.

You’re very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Duck, Donald!”

June 4, 2017

Duck

Here comes the sun.

With former FBI Director James Comey’s sworn words of damning testimony inexorably about to unfold, rumbling and roiling like vengeful, redemptive storm clouds on the near horizon, an inevitable beginning to the end may be drawing near. It’s none too soon.

For the first time in my 75 years of life, an American President is no longer leader of the free world. When our Demander- in – Chief cut and ran from a signed global commitment to the 2015 Paris Accords, his disgusting display of woeful ignorance represented a federal government in full flight from rational responsibility, signaling to the rest of the planet cowardly surrender to naive nationalism at its most pernicious and imperiling.

Trump’s Rose Garden retreat was filled with exaggerations, distortions and outright lies, consistency evidently emerging as one of his few remaining virtues. He actually pontificated before a carefully selected audience of solicitous sycophants; “We don’t want other countries laughing at us anymore!” Here’s when they’ll stop. When the door hits a certain prodigious posterior on its way out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, President Pudge.

The new leader of the free world could be Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel or even France’s brand new President Emmanuel Macron. Macron is the one who delivered an unanticipated and prolonged power handshake to Trump when they met in Brussels. The Washington Post reported, “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white, their jaws clenching and faces tightening.” Reuters cheerfully added, “Trump just seemed to want his hand back.” Macron called it. “A moment of truth.” Merci!

The Chinese might even find themselves in a position to fill the vacuum created by Trump’s defiant dump, moving to the forefront in developing extensive innovations in green technology – an area in which they have already gained significant traction. On the brighter side, it also seems that there is wide support among American business leaders, local mayors and state governors such as our own Jerry Brown to step in where Donald has struck out, embracing the immediate need for critical change. Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say that true political power is always local. That might still save us all.

London Bridge wasn’t falling down, but it was unfortunately back in the news Saturday afternoon as we were suddenly jarred by yet another senseless terror driven tragedy. With all three cable news networks presenting live coverage, CNN was first to report that “top advisors” were being “summoned to the White House to meet with the President and determine a course of appropriate responsive action.” While in the past I’ve always found such news certain to bring reliable comfort, my stomach was suddenly churning in knots — fearing yet another round of universal global embarrassment. Donald didn’t disappoint.

Prioritization often provides insight. The President’s very first tweet offered no sympathy, concern or compassion for the victimized. Trump simply twittered: “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” A few minutes later, handlers had him add that the U.S. would do whatever it could in offering assistance. He followed up Sunday with attacks on Sadiq Khan, the Muslim Mayor of London, and then renewed support for the American gun lobby, proclaiming, “We are not having a gun debate right now because they used knives and a truck!”

 Satisfied with his shrewd sagacious sharing, “Two-Scoop Donny” then retired for the night with extra chocolate cake, several gallons of Diet Coke and a Teddy named Eddie.

Had he been spending the preceding night in Oakhurst, Trump probably would have slept through till Noon and missed an extraordinary opportunity to be both brightened and enlightened.

Tim Z. Hernandez delivered an outstanding presentation before a full capacity crowd at Denny’s Saturday morning for our June meeting of the Oakhurst Democratic Club. There’s a major difference between a standard speaker and a gifted storyteller. Mr. Hernandez was very much the latter; bringing his nationally heralded, “All They Will Call You” to vibrant life with passion and power. We’ll be taking the month of July off, starting things up again on Saturday, August 5th with Joe Moore, KVPR Director of Programming Content, discussing “Valley Public Radio and Freedom of the Press.”

 Real patriots arm themselves with information.