HE AIN’T NO ORDINARY DUMMY

 

For the eighth time, Congressman and former governor Mark Sanford of the 1st Congressional District here in South Carolina, had a town hall meeting. You may remember former Governor Sanford who claimed that he was walking the Appalachian Trail while having a tryst with his non-wife in Argentina. For that action, he has been apologizing at least once a day for a number of years.

Sanford is an interesting guy. He belongs to the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, but does not talk, or sometimes vote with the caucus. Interestingly enough the caucus does not disclose its members. You have to do some guessing and research to know who they are. That seems kind of weird to me.

Sanford claims that he is a conservative. I asked him what he stood for and he said, “Individual Liberty.” He further explained that he believes that in a representative democracy, we should not force people into choices that they should make on their own. We should do away with the ACA because it mandates that everyone get health insurance.

That’s kind of an interesting answer for someone who wears his seatbelt, observes the speed limits, sends children to school from a mandated age, pays taxes, including Medicare and social security, car insurance, has a driver’s licenses, proof of age at a liquor store, or to buy cigarettes ad infinitum. These are all mandates that we have agreed upon in a “Representative Democracy.”

The question of should everyone have healthcare came up. His answer was pretty much the same. We should not have to force people to do something that they don’t want to do. Well, that may or may not be true. However, when those non-insured go to an emergency ward after an accident, the cost of that visit may affect us all in the pocketbook. Your civil rights end at the tip of my nose. We are all intertwined as a people.

When I paid school taxes, even though I had no children in school, I was following the American way. Even though some people may not pay school taxes, I am not angry at them. Should I be angry at our President for not paying taxes because he is a successful business man who knows his way around the law? Nope, I am not angry. I pay when I am mandated to pay.

So Congressman Sanford answers many of the questions he was asked until he came to a couple of stumpers. One woman, who worked within the health system and knew much more than Sanford told him her own story about how the ACA had helped her. I cannot begin to explain some of her major points. Mr. Sanford was flummoxed. He thought that most people had their insurance premiums go up. Her premiums went down significantly. She explained that was the scene with most people.

When he sat down next to the people who were asking the questions, it was a clear play to the media. It was optics. There were many pt. cameras in attendance. He certainly does know how to play to a crowd, even a hostile one.

At the onset of the meeting, a gentlemen got up and asked if he supports, “an adulterer cheater, and liar,” as President of the United States. He was getting angry and security guards were approaching. Sanford stood between them and the man with the question. The man also threw a bird at some else in the audience. Sanford did a good thing calming things down.

At every one of the other town halls, there were signs allowed. Here, the management of Sun City told us that signs were not allowed, although you could hold them up to your chest. There were many AGREE/DISAGREE signs. People kept their cool, except for the jerks that have to get their two cents in by screaming. They are everywhere. The Indivisible organization was “visible” at the meeting. Over three quarters of the people there were members. There are new chapters forming daily, and I mean daily.

THE RETURN OF DENZEL GOLDFARB

If you have been reading this blog for a while, maybe the name Denzel Goldfarb strikes a familiar chord. I had to look back six years to find the description that I wrote of him. If you have a need to, you can go back to January 21, 2011 and read the original. That’s not hard to do. The months and years are on the side of the website.

The reason he comes to mind is that Carol and I met him in Savannah last week. It certainly was not a planned visit and had I been more alert, I might have hid my head when he saw me. I was greeted with a giant hello and the usual embarrassing voice and hug. The woman who Denzel was with was not his 5th wife (she was Chinese). This woman was of the Occidental kind and was about 30 years younger than Denzel.

Since Denzel is the same age as me (78), I expect that she was in her mid-30’s. She was rather nice looking and appeared to be happy with Denzel on her arm.

I wish that I could have been smart enough to tell Denzel that we had a previous appointment, but I did not. Carol kind of nudged me to get away from his presence, but that did not work. Since we were in Savannah, we had done a little sightseeing and were ready to go to lunch. We tried to excuse ourselves, but that didn’t work. We found ourselves in Grffyndor, a restaurant that used to be a pharmacy.

Without so much as an introduction to his new partner, Goldfarb began to regale us with his history since our last encounter. I hope you understand that everything that he said was a complete falsehood, a lie, an untruth, not a mischaracterization, nor taken out of context. It was pure and simple- a lie.

Since we did not have any commune for a number of years, we were amazed at his ability to create a story out of whole cloth that would fill in the gaps. He told us that he had been around the world accumulating secret remedies for many diseases, including cancer. His partner (we really never knew her name) bobbed her head at certain intervals to lend credence to his stories.

AS he found these secret cures, he would have them developed into pills that could be sold in certain stores here in the U.S. He had the dosages developed by an apothecary on the Greek Island of Monos. He made sure that he had the distribution rights tacked down and began to advertise on the net.

The business was amazingly successful and he began to see the products appear at various locations in GNC stores, Walmart, other chains across the country. He made sure that he was not advertising falsely and did not run afoul of the FDA. He was delighted to see that the present administration in Washington was letting some strings go at the FDA making it easier for drugs to come to market.

His crowning achievement, he said, was that he was contacted by the Royal family in Saudi Arabia (if you read my earlier blog about the King of Morocco, this will sound familiar), and asked if he could make a stopover in Riyadh to visit King Abdullah. He, of course agreed, and was soon made an honorary Saudi with full rights to live in that country if he so chose.

He claimed that the royal family was impressed with his products and wanted an open line of credit so that they could obtain the medications whenever they ran out Of course Denzel agreed.

His stories continued without surcease, with the occasional head bobbings from his partner. Carol had been hitting my knee for most of the lunch. She was so anxious to get out of there. She was so annoyed that she actually got up from the table and excused herself to go to the ladies room. As she was leaving, she whispered that she would not be coming back and that I should meet her in the car.

Denzel had no idea of what was happening. He was such a narcissist, that other people’s actions had no effect on him. When I told him that we had to leave, he kind of stopped his story for a moment. The waiter came over with the check. Denzel reached for his wallet and declared “I must have left it in the car.” That was my signal to pay for the meal and get out of there fast. I handed the waiter my credit card and saw Denzel get up from the table with this partner and make for the exit, while exclaiming, “Great to see you Arthur, must do this again sometime.”

Could it really be that he did not remember my name? Or, was it one of his shtick? I walked back to where our car was parked and saw Carol looking at her phone. I got into the car and started it. Carol began laughing hysterically. I looked at her and said, “What’s so funny?”

“Both of us knew he was lying through his false teeth, but the lies were so interesting. I looked him up on the web. If he had done anything at all like what he said, he would have made the papers somewhere. And I did find him. Four years ago he was sentenced to federal prison for impersonating a doctor and selling pills from a website that claimed cures for many diseases, including cancer. The feds finally caught up with him and sent him to jail for seven years. He was paroled recently and must pay fines and perform copious hours of community service.”

“The woman he was with is actually his sixth wife. They met when he was in jail. She saw his story on a news program and fell in love with him immediately. They were married by the warden of the prison.”

I can see that you cannot believe that such a person exists. However, that would not be true. I have changed a number of  facts, but Denzel Goldfarb actually does exist.

THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW THE WORDS

Making fun of the College of Absurdity, presided over by Sean Spicer, does not even rise to a small chuckle. What does rise in me is a worry that all of the present administration has had words sucked out of them. Their massive lack of understanding that they are presiding over the United States of America is a scary concept.

While doing the bombing of an insignificant airfield in Syria, the President gleefully announced that he made that decision over dessert at Mar-A-Lago, while talking to the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China. The word that’s missing here is thoughtful.

What in hell would prompt an American President to gleefully announce the bombing of a foreign country while munching on chocolate cake that he tells us we would think wonderful? The words here are condescending or ignominious.

How can this administration claim to represent the people of the United States when it continues to make us look foolish in front of the whole world (including our enemies)? Russia has called our threats and pullbacks at loutish (this word is theirs). We are more than loutish, we are foolish looking and dangerous to our own country and to others.

Every day a new national or foreign policy is presented to us as if it has always been the plan. Now we use the biggest non-nuclear bomb (all 21000 pounds of it) to demilitarize (this word is mine) a part of Afghanistan that at one time had Al Qaeda residents.

Are we on the path to war or Armageddon (after Har Megido)? Doesn’t Donny Little Hands know that he has the capability of destroying us all and also his golf courses? His speech is irrational. The Secretary of State is evidently still in charge of Exxon and not doing his secondary job of statesmanship. He speaks out of every orifice of his body and says differing things each time. I am not sure if we can work with Russia or go to war with Russia.

There is also some confusion about our US military. According to Donny, “It is my military” that is doing the job in Syria and Afghanistan. Funny, I have always believed that the military is beholden to the people of the United States. Although the President is the Commander-in-chief, it is certainly not part of the Trump Empire of holdings. The word here is befuddled.

All of this bluster, this  sturm und  drang (those are this paragraph’s words) are a good cover for the investigation of the collusion between the Trump campaign and the FSB (formerly the KGB, formerly the NKVD, in plain talk, the secret police). If you don’t think that this former KGB guy, Putin, is not trying to return to the Soviet Union, you are mistaken.

Donny is now saying that so many things he said were easy in the campaign, healthcare, foreign policy, monetary policy, the economy, North Korea, ISIS (bomb the shit out of them), Syria, Radical Islamic terrorism ( not saying that very much and General McMaster is not saying it at all) are now very complicated. He also got a lesson in the history of the Korean peninsula from President (Chairman Xi) of China that he hadn’t ever heard before.

For those of you who actually read newspapers, books, and so on, can you believe that a 70 year old “businessman” has no understanding of the history of our country and the history of the world? What did he learn at Penn. He certainly took some gen-ed classes in his college career. The words here are “Slept through those boring courses.”

Is it possible that he is listening to Jared Kushner? That would be interesting. How is it that he forgot to mention Jews in the Holocaust speech? Did that not offend Jared, his wife and his little grandchildren? Was that a deliberate gaffe instigated by anti-Semite Steve (I used to be powerful) Bannon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO RURAL FOLKS WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP

As a person who has spent most of his adult life advocating for rural people and suing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on behalf of 214  rural schools, I believe I have the right to say these things (yeah I know it’s a run-on sentence). You have been royally screwed.

All of the things that you were promised and all of the hullabaloo about taking America back and making America great again was just caca de toro (b.s.). The almost sad part that makes me cry is that you have been jacked up once again. All of this populist stuff spouted by Donny Little Hands was a pack of lies.

You must know by now that the world has not been set up for rural people for a long time. When our country was young and farming was the most important industry, you (or we) had clout. We elected senators based on their record of bringing home the bacon (actually bacon). We put our own neighbors or friends into Congress who then understood what we needed.

So when things went bonkers in the 1970’s and worse in the 80’s and since then, we suspected that we were being given the business. We no longer had confidence in our governments, both state and federal. We were objects of school consolidation and panaceas that came from on high and left so quickly that we hardly knew they were happening.

Cities and suburbs grew so fast that we could not keep up with all of the changes. After a time, we fell into kind of a stupor. The plants that had been in our communities shut down and left for Mexico, and other low cost places. Coal disappeared and is not coming back, no matter what Donny says. This buy American crap is just that, crap. How about the new pipeline that will be built by American workers- pipes manufactured in China. That’s a wakeup call to our people.

We get no help and when we do, we get suspicious of the people who are trying to do something. We have been screwed so many times, that when someone from the Fed comes and says, I am from Washington and I am here to help you, we stop listening.

So, along comes someone who claims to be a successful businessman. He defeats all of these opponents by saying bad things about them. How about Senator Cruz’s father being responsible for the shooting of JFK?  He denigrated Carly Fiorina (and she just took it). How about his implication that Marco Rubio had a small member? That was the way he treated the people in his own party. Is there anyone he has not made fun of? Actually, he made fun of all of us a few years ago. “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure. It’s not your fault.”

Now you see, or don’t you, what he is doing. This populist for America person has populated his cabinet with billionaires, heads of large corporations (even the biggest), wives of billionaires, doctors who made money from knowing what congress was going to do, a guy who was involved in a bank that did money laundering for Russians.

Those people don’t give a fig about you. Yup, he promised to continue and defend Medicare and social security. He acts like we never paid for those programs. Take a look at your paycheck, if you are working, it’s right there. He is trying to undo the Affordable Care Act. That will crush our people- no preexisting conditions, no child up to 26 on your insurance, if you have it, no coverage from Medicaid.

How about education? Who can afford college even now? With the Pell grants either getting smaller or disappearing, how will our people pay for schools? What about the proposed 9 billion dollar cut in education? Who needs the 21st century grants (family friendly help for families); Gear Up (program that follows kids from rural and city areas for 6th grade as far as first year in college). How about the Trio program in colleges (helps kids that have a tough time and may come from really rural places and have not had the proper courses)?

What’s going to happen to the folks who are beneficiaries of the Meals on Wheels? I know you are not too pleased with Planned Parenthood. For those of you who avail yourselves of their health services for women will affect you directly. How about the Health Care Act that did not pass. In it, Donny was pushing for reductions in health care for rural areas and rural hospitals. Not that we have great health care right now, but his ideas would lead to deaths. His callous remarks about who would be affected if this bill passed should give us all a clue about what slice of the population he represents.

So we don’t need the EPA. They are a bothersome governmental bureaucracy that meddles in our lives by producing rules that prevent us from making a living. They also are annoying with their focus on clean water and cleanup of old factories that pollute our land and our waterways. So a few rural people die of cancer or even lead poisoning. That’s just a price to pay for our freedom.

Not only does Donny not know who we are, but if he did, he would not give a s**t (something that he once said). I know that rural people sometimes vote against their own self-interests (see Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant). I am afraid that we have lost any kind of control that we had of our lives before this past election. I am not sure what to say to you about that. Since there is no specific polling attributed to rural people (that’s why the polls re wrong about the election), I have no idea what you are thinking right now. Since many of my friends live in rural areas, I really should talk to them about what is going on. I probably will not.

I will continue to work for the wellbeing of rural people in my new abode here in South Carolina. Maybe I can do some good with the young folks. We have started a rural school association. Perhaps that’s the most that I can do right now. I have no advice for you. I can only watch your feelings of betrayal and feel sorry.

 

 

HOMER V. CARPETBAGGER

There are few hotter arguments in education that who shall we hire as a superintendent of schools. There are age old conflicts about getting an outsider with lots of experience in other school districts and someone from within. There are even studies about the subject. Most say that an outsider is more successful 60% of the time. How you manage to determine that is beyond my ken.

I was at once a homer and an outsider at the same time. I got a job in the Kutztown Area School District as a junior high school principal and then became the school superintendent. I was somewhat of a hybrid. However, I had my children in those schools and was involved in the community. If it wasn’t for the community, I would not have become the school superintendent.

There is certainly a difference between hiring an outsider and hiring someone who has had multiple superintendencies. That is what I mean by a carpetbagger. Just locally I have run into two superintendents who have had 6 and 4 jobs as supers, including the one they have now. In one case, the person is already getting pensions for two other states. It appears that he will make no waves and get a third pension here in SC.

What does all of this mean? Having a homer, someone from the community, who went to those schools, went to college and then came back to teach and climbed the ladder to the superintendency, is sometimes a very good thing.

This is not to say that it is always true, but there are some obvious advantages. Most of the time, for a homer, it’s not really a job. Having lived in the community most of one’s life, the feeling of what can be done to make life better for the kids and the adults in the community is always  in the forefront of one’s mind.

Gathering forces in the community is a possibility when times get tough. In trying out something new, there is a trust that the homer will not do anything bad for his/her hometown. Especially in rural areas, suspicion runs deep. There is that old saw about the elderly women standing around a casket at the funeral home. They commented on what a wonderful person she was and even though she was born in the neighboring township and moved here when she was six months old. It was almost like she was born here.