Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ever Since I met you…… Just the start of Gert's Story

I was asked by my dog to make a noble decision for her last week. She told me that she had enjoyed a wonderful time with me, and that together we had taught children the value of the softest brown ears in the world, mothers that it is okay to feed Thanksgiving turkey from the table, squirrels that they shouldn't be digging in my ferns, birds that they should still keep a watchful eye when bathing in the big park fountain, and cats though they might make a stand and swat at her nose, that she simply wouldn't stop teasing them. She apologized for the gash in my chin that required stitches just two weeks ago (we didn’t mention the gash in the hand, the black eye or the dislocated fingers from previous years) and agreed with me that if any of the rugs were too dirty and couldn't be cleaned she'd be okay if I bought some new ones or had the old ones cleaned.

These were just a few of our thoughts as we sat in the Arboretum last Friday and enjoyed an unusually warm fall day sitting on a grassy hill. Gert had a bad heart. No, she had a great heart, but in the past 8 months her heart had decided that it just wouldn't work hard enough to keep her lungs full of good oxygen. She wouldn't accept that. As a matter of fact, she tried to commit suicide shortly after we discovered her heart condition. She ate a two month supply of meat flavored doggy Motrin that was prescribed for my roommate's 15 year old dog. The vet said that there was nothing to do and that she wouldn't make it through the weekend. Though she did nearly die, she struggled back with the help of Gatorade, honey, and sweet potato. That was seven months ago in May. But I digress.

Since May each day has been a gift; some I said should have been re-wrapped and re-gifted, but they were ours and everybody's. Gert liked to make the story and I liked to tell it. Some might say embellish, but I don't think there was too much of that as I couldn't make facts bigger than Gert.

Everybody has the pretties, smartest, and most wonderful dog, and so did I. She lives in my heart now. But Gert, like me, always took everything the extra inch, foot, yard, mile, and beyond. She was handsome, smart, persnickety, precocious, stubborn, smart, manipulative, loving, tender, courageous, trustworthy, and had a few but wonderfully rich group of friends. I’m not sure if I am the two legged embodiment of her, or if she is the four legged embodiment of me.

We had a dialogue. Whether it was in English, English with a German accent, an eye to eye look, or a loud repeated name calling, we knew how to communicate. She often ignored all of that if she happened to come across a pile of rice in the park, a cupcake wrapper in the street, a pizza crust just out of her reach on the other side of a fence, or bread thrown out for birds in the winter. I often thought there must be a few birds that didn’t make it through the cold winter because Gert found and ate all the nibbles so kindly strewn across the ground for them.

Gert was a rescue – her name was Misty when I got her and that name was changed as soon as I decided she could stay. I thought I was just fostering her until I found a home for her, but she would have none of it and outlasted me – yes, determined was yet another of her characteristics.

A friend of mine sent a beautiful green gardenia, waxy green in its freshness and pregnant with blossoms ready to release their heavy perfume. The accompanying note read “You rescued ole’ Gertie and gave her a great life. You were her sun, moon, and stars… She loved you always and unconditionally which is why she held onto life so long even when she was really sick. Hugs, Ditty”. My vet wrote “She was like a cat with 9 lives – what a strong will to live. But then, she probably thought why go to heaven, when I already have heaven on earth?”

Grabbing a seat on the one ride we get on this carousel of life is not a choice. We don’t get to decide where we sit or how fast the ride is going to be. And, it can be a struggle to hold on. But we must do the best we can to enjoy and find the beauty in it all; it is not easy as we all know. Grab the most brass rings, smile at everyone that goes by, and share joy however you are able.

I said goodbye to my friend on our terms in her space in our living room. Peaceful and strong – that was both of us. I trust someday that mankind can be as kind to their own.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Mandates, dog bites, and homeless Veterans

I am quite tired of the word mandate. No one has a mandate. Democracy says that the majority has the mandate (sorry) and that the people who landed on the "wrong" side of the vote need to accept the outcome and work to change the environment down the road. Democracy is checks and balances, negotiations, and reaching across the aisle.

Yes, I have been labeled a snarky, liberal Democrat (Thanks Ralf) but I like where my state is and I like what is happening in government (most of it, and for today). I'm not happy that the Republicans took over the House, but let's see if we can make some headway by compromising and thinking. Like I've said, this liberal state has done very well by me and others... I'd like to know how other states (to my right) are fairing....

As for bankruptcies, I certainly don't factor them into my prices. Let the buyer/lender beware. Foolish spending is foolish. Loaning money or giving credit to a foolish spender is even more foolish.

Throwing money at a problem doesn't work. Propping up industries that don't work isn't always the right answer either. If GM would have shut its doors, bing bang boom, what do you think would have suddenly happened to all the states and the employees around the world that worked for GM. Talk about over a cliff... Maybe softening and lengthening the death (that probably will not happen anytime soon) of GM was a good thing. You (me) would have paid a lot more in unemployment benefits than any amount of bailout, let alone additional bankruptcies. Many times it IS the right decision to go into a deficit to make things better for the future. Did any of you pay for your college while you were going to school, or did you graduate with a little debt.

There are so many chinks and bricks in our economic wall that no one constituency, Representative, Senator, Governor, or President can fix it immediately. I can't wait to see, and hope that it happens, how many jobs the new Republican House makes and how many trillions they cut out of the budget.

Speaking of health care and illegal immigrants. I'm sure that Massachusetts and New England have our fair share of illegals. We do not have the problem of an "open" contiguous border with Mexico, which I believe causes much of the stress to the Southwest and Midwest. We do have a number of crazy, errant, Quebecois and Canadians that come across the border and stay past their welcome. We also have huge communities of Chinese, Brazilian and Central American people who more than likely arrive by plane (unless they migrate through the Bering Strait) and stay illegally.

On the health care side, I was in the emergency room last Wednesday for 5 stitches from my poor old dog. It was late at night, and I can guarantee you that the emergency room was not filled with illegal immigrants (people in Massachusetts can now see physicians and not go to emergency rooms -- thus taking burden and cost out of the once last option emergency rooms). I can't say exactly who they were -- I know my Spanish dialects, and Puerto Rican doesn't count because they are here legally -- but they were speaking English in an "American" dialect. I don't know what the health care in Massachusetts is going to cost the state as the cost burden has moved around, but I do know that it is cheaper. When I find out, I will fill you in because curious minds want to know. Don't you?

On Spending money to save money down the road. Massachusetts just built a large housing complex for homeless veterans with state and US grants. These people will be taken out of the homeless shelters and given a much better place to stand. And I totally believe these people should be at the front of the line when it comes to care. They fought for our country. So here is another form of deficit spending (we deficit spend for the "wars", why not people") that will make us better in the long run.


Repercussions of an Election -- as gleaned in the news

I am addicted to intelligence, points of view, listening skills, and respect.

Try these on for size, and remember, they are from many points of view. Let's get educated.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg --If you look at the U.S., you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate--they can't read," he said. "I'll bet you a bunch of these people don't have passports." "I think in America, we've got to stop blaming the Chinese and blaming everybody else and take a look at ourselves," he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- Congress should act quickly, before new members take their seats, to repeal the military's ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has attempted to lower expectations in recent days by saying that Republicans can't really accomplish anything unless President Obama is voted out of office in 2012.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) set the stage on Sunday by declaring that any lack of progress in Congress -- including a possible government shutdown -- will be Obama's fault.


Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday the U.S. should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard. A leading U.S. senator on defense issues says any military strike on Iran to stop its nuclear program must also strive to take out Iran's military capability.

He says they should neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back and hope Iranians will take a chance to take back their government.


Some Texas Republican lawmakers — still reveling in Tuesday’s statewide election sweep — are proposing an unprecedented solution to the state’s estimated $25 billion budget shortfall: dropping out of the federal Medicaid program.

Peggy Noonan (love and agree with her) Former Speech Writer for Reagan taking a jab at the Vacuous (yes, that is editorial) Sarah Palin "The point is not 'He was a great man and you are a nincompoop,' though that is true," Noonan continues. "The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world."

Though Noonan's piece is not simply a jab at Palin, but rather a larger message about the real political significance of one's actions and accomplishments, as well as the necessity to "earn your way into politics," it's also worth noting that Noonan has never shied away from writing confrontational columns about the former Alaska Governor.

ON BANANA REPUBLICS IN THE U.S., INCOME INEQUITY AND TAX CUTS... C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

That’s the backdrop for one of the first big postelection fights in Washington — how far to extend the Bush tax cuts to the most affluent 2 percent of Americans. Both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires. Republicans would also cut taxes above that.

The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.

At a time of 9.6 percent unemployment, wouldn’t it make more sense to finance a jobs program? For example, the money could be used to avoid laying off teachers and undermining American schools. So we face a choice. Is our economic priority the jobless, or is it zillionaires?

And if Republicans are worried about long-term budget deficits, a reasonable concern, why are they insistent on two steps that nonpartisan economists say would worsen the deficits by more than $800 billion over a decade — cutting taxes for the most opulent, and repealing health care reform? What other programs would they cut to make up the lost $800 billion in revenue?

GOP climate deniers vie to run House Energy Committee -- enough said. - Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Joe Barton (R-Texas), and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) -- all want to reopen the floodgates for a deregulated fossil fuel industry.