Monday, September 28, 2009

Sarah Palin, gone rogue

Sarah Palin, gone rogue

Just read the press release announcing the November release of Sarah Palin’s memoir, titled “Going Rogue: An American Life.”

I don’t care that she has written a memoir, won’t read her memoir, and am stunned that Harper has commissioned a first printing of 1.5 million copies.

However, what is really bothering me is the use of the word “rogue” in the title. Rogue is not a flattering word. Seeing it in the title drove me to the dictionary.

I opened my worn, thin-paper copy (“THIN PAPER” is actually printed above the title) of “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary,” copyright 1959, by G. & C. Merriam Co., and looked up “rogue.” The definitions follow.

1. A vagrant; an idle sturdy beggar; a tramp.
2. A knave; cheat.
3. Scamp; rascal.
4. A rogue elephant.
5. Biol. A chance variation:--usually applied to inferior or nontypical plants.

Following this we find “rogue elephant” defined.

Rogue elephant: A vicious elephant which separates from the herd and roams alone.

Then we find “rogue’s gallery,” defined as “A collection of portraits of persons arrested as criminals, for the use of the police.” And “rogue’s march,” “Derisive music for a person driven away under popular indignation or official sentence, as when a soldier is drummed out of a regiment.

After reading the definitions I’m making the elitist assumption that neither Ms. Palin nor her collaborator, Lynn Vincent, have a feeling for the subtlety of language. Did they check a dictionary? Did they think “rogue” is a synonym for “maverick?”

Ms Palin supposedly spent several days in New York working around the clock with editors at Harper after she and Vincent finished their work. Didn’t any of those editors look up the word “rogue?”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


If individuals or families cannot afford to buy health insurance, how can they afford to pay the fines that will be levied upon them if they don't buy insurance?

I ask this after reading an Associated Press article that states that the latest plan from Montana Sen. Max Baucus would levy fines for not having health insurance, starting at $750 for an individual and $1,500 for families.

Does this mean that more people will die because if they show up at ER without an insurance card they will be fined? And turned away? And how will anyone know if all 50 million or so of the currently uninsured individuals buy a health insurance policy? Won't this be a bureaucratic nightmare? A whole new police agency? Wouldn't it be cheaper to offer a government funded health insurance option?

I often wonder lately, is there is anyone in Congress besides Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders who has courage and sanity?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I just read that the White House is ready to drop the "public option" in order to get a health care bill passed. Without a public option there is no health care reform. Why would the private insurance industry change if it isn't forced to? And how would health care become affordable or accountable if left to the private insurers discretion? Why would we expect sociopaths to become responsible human beings if not forced into that behavior?

Why are we giving in to Republican senators who have exhibited behavior verging on the criminal? Baucus, Grassley, the whole pack, are unethical, immoral and disgusting. You only have to look at their lists of big money donors to know how scummy they are.

So we shall continue to allow people to suffer and die so private insurers can enjoy huge profits. I call that murder by omission and in the case of the Congress people, murder by lies.

The only consolation in any of this is that all the leading Republican senators claim to be Christians (although they exhibit little of what I thought was Christian behavior) and that means that for all eternity these creeps will be roasting and broiling. And the Blue Dog Dems will be right there with them. And Sarah, too!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The John Tree

Sunday morning I heard a toddler whooping in excitement somewhere in the neighborhood. Looking out a south-facing window I saw a child in a swing, being pushed by an adult.

The swing hangs in what my mother called "The John Tree." She and my stepfather, both dead now, once owned the house in front of my current house, as well as a very small house next door. Sadly, the small house has veen demolished and replaced by a modest starter mansion (only 2600 sf).

When I returned to Nevada in 1977 I moved into the small house and eventually acquired roommates. One of them, John, observed my mother digging up a small elm tree and volunteered to help.

He dug up the tree, then transplanted it in front of her east-facing bedroom window. Thirty some years later it stands 20 feet tall, shading that part of the house and holding a small child's swing.

Life is good.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Senate Republicans are just plain nasty

I just read the first few paragraphs of an AP story discussing the probable Senate health care bill and am furious. No public option and no requirement that businesses offer health plans. Just read an update and it gets worse. The whole shebang to go through the insurance companies. You know, those creeps that have turned health insurance into an orgy of profit with little or no benefit to the people paying the premiums. Oh, yes, I exaggerate but only a little. I have friends that go through hell to get insurance, then pay such exorbitant premiums that it hardly benefits them to have the coverage. Then, every time they turn in a claim they have to re-submit at least three times to get it paid.

What happens to people when they go to Washington? Suddenly it's all about re-election and forget the people who elected you. The lobbying scum crawls out of the K Street sewers and gives them lots of money for re-election and suddenly they know so much better than any little old citizen back home what's best for this country.

Rather than turn health care over to the insurance people we should outlaw for-profit insurance and send all the current insurance execs to jail for life, preferably to one of the real nasty ones such as the Nevada State Prison.

The members of Congress have shown that they are not going to do any of the obviously smart things to provide health care insurance for all the people in this country. They aren't going to rein in the insurance people or the drug folks. They aren't going to jettison the phony Medicare enhancement policies or the horrible Medicare drug plan. Of course not. The lobbyists would cut off their election funds. So they will come up with a phony piece of excrement rewarding all the wrong people and they'll probably figure out a way to raise taxes on the strangled middle class to do it.

It's time for the citizens of this country to rise up, get our pitchforks, our vats of tar and loads of feathers, then take a trip to Washington. Start with the lobbyists--drag them into the street, dress them up in tar and feathers then march them over to Congress so they can watch the same thing happen to all their best friends in the House and Senate. Then put them all on a train and send them to Camp Baucus, except for the Blue Dog Dems and we'll send them to a no-kill shelter for re-training. I'll send word ahead to Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders. There may be others worth saving but those are the only two I know about.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Entertainment, politics and life after Madoff

Just watched "Enemy of the State." During the first 45 minutes I realized I was angry, spit at the screen angry. The National Security Agency people in the movie are loathsome vermin. What hurt is that I believe these people do all the nasty, horrible things they did to Will Smith's character in the movie. I deep down believe that they frame people, murder people, ruin lives to serve their own purposes, read our emails and snail mail, listen to our phone calls, mess with our bank accounts, spy on our families for their own purposes, and worse, do all these same things to people in other countries.

I had a talk with myself, a serious get-a-grip talk about how I believe in government, I believe in the good, it's only a movie and still, I believe these creeps do all those disgusting things. This ugly belief system of mine started back in the Nixon Times, accelerated during the Reagan Times and solidified during the Bush-Cheney Times. All the awful things done during those administrations are stored in my brain, cellular memories creating a strong belief system.

I'm very sad about this. I voted for Barack Obama, I truly believe he is a Renaissance man, I think he has integrity, I like what he is doing. And at the same time I think parts of the government are totally out of our control, managed by sociopaths whose budgets are secret, names are secret, rules are non-existent. When the chips are down, I suspect some agency will do its worst and we have nothing to say about it.

What would it take for our government to clean itself up and can there ever be enough transparency?

And on to another group of Americans, the folks who lost everything to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Vanity Fair had a sad story about Madoff victims, including women who have lost everything now trying to sell their jewels for enough money to pay their $100,000 American Express bills. What will become of these women, will they have to work, cleaning houses or taking orders at McDonalds? At least one woman is, at age 70, now cleaning houses, while a man in his 90s is a greeter in a supermarket.

Omigod. I start to feel sorry for them and then I remember, I’ll be 70 my next birthday. Vanity Fair won’t cover the tragedy if I lose my pension and the right wingers (the majority, unfortunately) in the community would probably say it serves me right for voting for Democrats. I would simply have to sell off everything and go to work for whatever fast food restaurant would hire me. And thank God the Republicans weren’t able to give Social Security to the brokers to invest in stocks on Wall Street.

Then I remember all the widows and orphans in Iraq, and wonder how many 70-year-old women in that country are left with nothing as a direct result of my country’s decision, in a storm of lies and manipulation, to overthrow the Iraqi government in order to secure a stranglehold on that country’s oil? I mean, speaking of vile things done by my government.

So I feel compassion for the Madoff victims, the Wall Street victims, the Iraqi widows and orphans. I feel compassion for us all. As my dear friend says: It's difficult being human.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Turquoise Eye Shadow is For the Young

I attended a dress-up dinner party last night and decided to wear makeup. That probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal but there is a story here. About three years ago I wore makeup to a party. When I got home that night I looked in the mirror and had one of those awful moments of clarity where I saw that I was an aging woman who still made up her face as though she were 30 years old. Too much turquoise eye shadow, black circles around the eyes and just ridiculous.

I had that embarrassed, shameful, blush all over feeling and decided everyone at the party had spent all evening snickering behind my back, etc., etc. I did come to my senses and remembered that they all had lives, that my makeup and I were the least important things in their lives and I really could go out in public again. I also threw away all my makeup and decided I never needed to wear any again.

Last fall I was visiting friends in Grass Valley and we decided to go shopping. After an hour or so we found ourselves in front of the Oberon skin products store. We drifted inside and the owner suggested we try out the products, Oberon and Dr. Hauschka being the only two brands she sold. Dr. Hauschka skin care products have been used by the wealthy and the beautiful since 1967.

Next thing I knew I was in the chair, explaining that I no longer knew how to apply makeup and was turning myself over to her for a makeover. Well, she patted tinted moisturizer into my skin, lightly brushed subtle shades of taupe and vanilla on my eyelids, stroked white cover-up on the blue bruised looking patches between the inside corner of my eyes and my nose. Finally she applied a subtle red lipstick that was really a lip moisturizer. Eight hours later my lips were still soft and moist—a miracle. I usually use lip gloss at least twice an hour.

All the women exclaimed over the new, beautiful me then took their turns in the chair for a similar magical experience. I watched carefully, thinking I’d remember all this. I walked out of the store the proud owner of $136 worth of tinted moisturizer, Dr. Hauschka mascara (I think it’s very dark blue in deference to my age and naturally silver hair), three subtle shades of nearly no-color powdered eye shadow, a white pencil for covering up blue spots, a brush to apply something (what? It’s been six months) and several sponges for removing everything. I forgot to buy the lipstick. Darn!

When I arrived home I lined up all my new goodies in the bathroom and proceeded not to open any of them for six months until the fancy dress-up dinner party. Fortunately I allowed plenty of time for this operation. It took half an hour to get everything on my face and around my eyes. It took the store owner about 10 minutes. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how subtly lovely I looked to myself. All the shame of my last makeup job was erased.

However, underneath that lovely face sits my neck, the skin on which is the definition of crepe. I cannot think of any cure for that neck but surgery, a life-threatening procedure I would never consider because of the cost. I admit I’ve caught myself thinking, “What the hell, a neck job wouldn’t be so awful if I had a disposable $20,000.” I mean, this is not the first time I’ve noticed my neck. But it just ain’t gonna happen. Even before the crash of the worldwide financial system there wasn’t even a remote possibility there would ever be that much disposable income in my life. Since the crash, the cats and I flip a coin to see who buys food each week.

So I’ll just wear makeup every once in awhile and pretend like I don’t notice my neck. And maybe it’s time to read Nora Ephron’s book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck.”

If you’re interested, here is the website for the rich and beautiful .

Saturday, April 4, 2009

You say klarr-RAY, I say KLARR-it

On a recent visit to Davis, Calif., I enjoyed a splendid glass of wine in a local bistro, a 2006 claret from Newton vineyards. Claret is a blend, a Bordeaux type red wine, and a wine I remember fondly from the late 1970s and early 1980s. I quit drinking alcohol in 1982 and when I began having the occasional glass of wine with dinner 20 years later there was no claret. It had fallen out of fashion. I missed it and have been happy to see it showing up again. Hurrah.

So, I recently stopped in at a liquor store with a good rep and a wine shop, both in Carson City. In both stores I asked for Newton claret (KLARR-it) and in both stores the clerk repeated it back to me as klarr-RAY. In the first store I let it pass, but in the second I said, “Actually, its KLARR-it.” I’ve been noticeably cranky lately.

I got a bit sniffy about it and for several days had numerous biting discussions in my head and with my bathroom mirror over this bastardization of a perfectly good word.

Then I thought, “Well hell, maybe they changed the pronunciation since the 1970s and early 1980s,” although I did briefly remember that in the restaurants where I’ve been served that lovely wine they still pronounce it KLARR-it.

So I looked up the word online, then in the “American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,” Third Edition, and finally, in “The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary” published in 1971, the latter being a free gift I received for joining the Book of the Month Club way back then.

Claret is an English word and it is still pronounced KLARR-it. According to Wikipedia “It has been coined from the [French word] clairet, a now uncommon dark rose which was the most common style of wine exported from Bordeaux until the 18th century. Claret is a protected name within the European Union for describing a red Bordeaux wine; it was accepted after the British wine trade demonstrated over 300 years’ usage of the word.”

Wikipedia goes on to explain that the Plantagenet kingdom, covering England and much of France from 1152 to 1453, encouraged wine trade and the development of English taste for this wine, adopting the French word clairet to describe it. And now that I know I’m right, I can stop making sure everyone else knows I’m right, damnit.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why would I blog?

2 March 2009

I’ve had a couple of friends tell me they can’t imagine why anyone would write a blog. Too personal, too "out there." I’ve actually been thinking about this for several years because I wanted to write and to be published. I’ve wanted to write since I learned to hold a pencil and make letters.

I did work as a reporter and columnist back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For the last couple of years I was again a columnist until the newspaper folded. It was fun. So I finally set up a blog.

I was encouraged to do this by memories of “The Carolina Israelite,” published by Harry Golden from 1942 to 1968, reaching at its peak 16,000 subscribers. I subscribed for the last few years of its publication and loved it. It was a forum for his political views, but also his observations about life and reminisces of his boyhood in New York’s lower East Side. I’m pretty sure I found out about The Israelite from reading his book, “Only in America.”

According to Wikepedia (will all my librarian friends please quit shrieking and sit back down) and, Golden (1902-1981) was born Herschel Goldhirsch in the shtetl Mikulintsy, Ukraine, then part of Austria-Hungary. In 1904 the family immigrated to the US. Harry grew up to be a stockbroker but lost his job in the 1929 crash. Convicted of mail fraud, he served several years in a federal prison. In 1941 he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and as a reporter, wrote about and spoke out against racial segregation and the Jim Crow laws of the time.

He was very funny. I remember a short piece explaining that Elizabeth Taylor was a serial monogamist, obviously during that whirlwind time of Michael, Eddie, Richard and Richard.

One of his solutions to the racial problem in America was “The Vertical Negro Plan.” Observing that whites were loathe to sit with African Americans on busses or in restaurants but that they often stood in line with African Americans, he called on public schools to remove all the chairs from the classrooms.

If Harry Golden were alive today, he would have a blog.

Thomas Paine, whose biography I recently read, is another man who wrote prodigiously and published frequently, at a time when pamphlets were cheap and popular. I’ve long wished we could still blanket the country in pamphlets. They would now be way too expensive and worse, written on dead trees. Until we can once again grow hemp in this country with which to manufacture paper, among other things, pamphlets cannot be morally justified no matter how important or worthy the text.

Paine wrote “Common Sense,” a document credited with fueling the American Revolution. He also discussed ideas almost daily (well, every evening, in a pub or tavern usually), belonging to discussion groups with other men interested in ethics, philosophy, politics and religion. If he were alive today, he would have a blog. I bet Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Christabel Pankhurst, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, along with thousands more gutsy women of the past would have had blogs.

This is part of my reason for writing a blog. I believe, passionately, that Americans need to discuss ideas, philosophies, beliefs. We need to discuss them, examine them, write about them. We’re not all in the realm of Golden or Paine but until we all start speaking up, we will continue to be controlled by the few who speak longest and loudest, those people who dominate the media with their unpleasant voices and hate-filled minds.

But finally, I love words, I love to read, I love the challenge of putting words together in both a pleasing and a sensible way. And as with email, the delete key is handy. I have the pleasure and reward of publishing, no one has to read me and it’s free.

Only in America (a collection of essays from The Carolina Israelite) and The Right Time : An Autobiography, by Harry Golden.

Thomas Paine : Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations, by Craig Nelson, published 2006

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Drop the grandstanding and get to work

26 Feb 2009

I saw the handwriting on the wall Jan. 20 while reading the 5 a.m. news on the internet. Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas announced he would hold up Senator Hillary Clinton’s confirmation as Secretary of State because he wanted more time to talk about her husband’s foundation. Wanted to be certain there were “transparency protocols” in place, among other things.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I thought, “Here we go again.”

What I heard that man say is, “I’m doing this because—I can.” Serving notice on day one that the Republicans have it in their power to obstruct and by gawd they intend to do it. More of the same tired game playing and showmanship from the same tiresome people.

I won’t run through the list of the many problems we Americans are facing right now but I have noticed something. President Barack Obama has the list and has presented many ideas about how we can approach the work ahead of us. He’s talking about creating jobs, providing health care for all Americans, making college affordable for all the Americans who want to attend, providing better pay and benefits for the women and men in the military.

He has asked for bipartisan support in coming up with solutions. And the Republicans decline to help because all they want are tax cuts and not for the 98 percent of non-wealthy in this country but for corporations and the wealthy two percent. The famous “base” of the ideological zombies.

I remember when Reagan took office in 1981 and everything was about tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts. In order to make that work they slashed budgets, except for the Pentagon’s, that financial black hole. Then they sang this pretty song about how all the wealthy corporations and individuals would use that money they no longer had to pay in taxes to create trickle-down prosperity for the rest of us, roughly 98 percent of the population of the US of A.

Well, I’m still waiting. I have yet to see evidence that so much as a dime has trickled down from the two percent of the population these tax breaks benefited. I assume that Republicans either don’t understand how bad things are in this country or they don’t care. Their ideological stance seems more important than people or the planet.

Ideology is safe, it feels secure, it promises to eliminate questions. And we can all fall prey to that need for safety and security and pat answers to our questions. But there is a different way of approaching the world, of managing and governing.

It sounds simple. During discussions you forget everything you “know” and you listen to all the other people in the room, attentively and with an open mind. No one is called upon to change his or her mind. Just listen.

What happens, and there is evidence out there to verify this, is that people who have learned to listen this way find they are able to hold two or more opposing thoughts in their minds. Their minds don’t change, they grow. There is openness, expansion, and in that environment new ideas show up.

People who are locked into ideological zombiehood never get to experience that bigger, grown-up mind.

So here’s the deal. New jobs would take people off the dole and in time provide some disposable income. Affordable health care would benefit businesses large and small, helping to create more jobs, and making us more competitive in this country and the rest of the world. Affordable college would create a more productive work force and possibly even a thinking population. I have to remind myself that the leading zombies went to university. Higher education doesn’t always ensure an open mind.

All the ideas President Obama offered are up for bipartisan discussion and we need creative solutions to our problems. But you can’t squeeze them through an ideological funnel. Three Republican senators managed to get past the cant to help pass the stimulus package. I’m anxious to see if any other Republicans can drop the ideology and get to work.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's my birthday

23 Feb 2009

Today is both my birthday and my first blog posting. To celebrate I went to breakfast with a friend followed by a walk to our local theater to see “Frost/Nixon.” Excellent movie. Sean Penn had some amazing competition for that Oscar.

Received cards and gifts in the mail and am being taken to dinner tonight.

According to “The Writer’s Almanac,” produced by Prairie Home Productions, W.E.B. DuBois and Samuel Pepys were also born Feb. 23. Pretty heady company!

I was born in 1940 and according to a bookmark I’m holding, produced by Pages of Time in Millersville, Tenn. the Dow Jones average was 134 that year. The average income was $1,725, a new car cost $850, a new house $3,925. A loaf of bread was 8 cents, a gallon of gas 11 cents and a gallon of milk 55 cents. Gold was $35 an ounce. And radar was invented that year.

I’m happy, healthy (good genes on both sides of the family) and I have enough income. I’m rich in family, friends, work, pets (cats and a dog), and play.

My first job was as a babysitter when I was 12 years old. At 14 I got my Social Security card and a job as a waitress. I’ve since worked as a clerk in a county office, a reporter, a waitress again, and finally, a librarian. I attended college off and on my entire adult life and finally earned a liberal arts degree at age 53.

I retired in 2002 and love the freedom although the first few months were unnerving while I was working out a structure. After 50 years of working for other people whose rules required that I show up regularly at specific times, retirement offered way too much freedom. I eventually got it under control and no longer spend days at a time reading from morning to night, eating sandwiches and organic soup from a box. I’ve not been bored one minute since retirement and sometimes wonder how the hell I managed to work and do everything else I did and do.

Life is good.

And, there are a few problems in this wonderful country which I shall write about, offering my ideas for improvement. I have many very bright friends and a few have said they will write for this blog, thus the title, Constance and a few good friends. I promise they are good writers.