Donald J. Shithole

Donald Trump has given us Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Little Marco and Low-Energy Jeb.

This week he may have stumbled upon a word appropriate for himself.

You may think that tacking “Shithole” unto his name doesn’t show the respect appropriate to the Office of the Presidency. It’s a year too late to worry about that.

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Tax Cuts Billboard

The tax cuts just passed for middle-income wage earners are temporary. They’ll be phased out in a matter of years. It’s the old teaser-rate come-on.

Meanwhile cuts for multinational corporations, financial entities and real estate developers like Donald Trump will be permanent.

A couple can now inherit a fortune of almost $22 million without paying a penny in taxes. But a kid working to save for college is nailed on the first dollar earned.

More money in fewer plans. They planned it that way.

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Buttocks

Our son was born without buttocks.

The bone structure of his ilium was perfectly normal and his “gluts” were standard-issue. What he lacked was the meat most folks have on their coccyges. I’m sure I’m misusing these words but you get the picture.

The boy was unaware he was skin and bones until well into grade-school when he came to realize that certain boys commanded the playground. They got to choose the teams during recess and twist the rules however they wanted. They were invited to parties. Girls liked them.

For some reason my son got it into his head — do not laugh — that it was the fit of his pants that was holding him back from joining the alphas.

He became obsessed that the seats of his trousers were baggy. He studied himself in the 360-degree mirror in our back bedroom — something he’d never done before.

It so happens that I sew. Not to brag but I can rip a seam and take in a crotch with the best of them. I strapped on my wrist pin-cushion, grabbed my reading specs and performed miracles on the saddle of that boy’s pants.

Over time he shot up and put on a little flesh on his frame. His face cleared up nicely and he took to wearing contact lens.

During a Sunday supper just after he started a full-time job, he told our family an older woman at the office — she was twenty-two if she was a day — patted him on the bottom and told him she was “into” men with tight little tushes.

We still laugh about that from time to time. But the fact is that the memory of young woman’s come-on would come in handy when a bald spot began to show on the back of his head.

What’s a mother to do?

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Firefighter Tom

You’ll find the ladder truck from Fire Station Two double-parked outside our corner coffee shop some mornings.Tom Howard will run in to pick up a round for his crew.

You might think idling a hugely expensive firefighting vehicle for a coffee run is a waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s not.

Think of it as readiness training. Every minute on the street sharpens the team’s knowledge of traffic patterns, access points around town and behavior of equipment under weather conditions. Every emergency call sets off a mesh of calculations and responses.

Tom is part of an eight-member team that pulls a 24-hour shift. They stand ready at all hours to hit that pole and engage with sixty pounds of gear, tools and breathing packs.

Two meals are prepared each shift. You get your fussy eaters, restricted diets and meat-and-potatoes holdouts. It seems that leftovers don’t play well on Sundays.

There are occupational hazards. Firefighters seldom talk about fear but they worry about mistakes. A drop in adrenaline between shifts can feel like a loss of purpose and camaraderie, an isolating work cycle doesn’t help. Tom manages a hotline to deal with exactly those problems.

As an engineer he drives ladder trucks and fire engines and is certified in medical response and Hazmat. His thing is opening cars with kids locked inside. “Good enough to be a cat burglar.” he laughs

The 25-year-veteran firefighter earned a master’s degree in divinity after a deepening of his faith and has been asked to preach at various congregations. There’s that quality about him.

Physical realities catch up with even the fittest firefighters. Tom will be ready for the next chapter of life. “I believe the Lord has called me for something.” he says. And the good Lord willing a ‘98 Harley and a Yamaha Motocross will be part that something.

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Happy Holidays, Mr. Trump

…the ‘poster boys’ strike again.

Dear Mr. President,

No offense sir, but your campaign to get people to say ‘Merry Christmas’ is doing more harm than good.

What with your divorces, your grab-ass games with women, your scams and insults to one and all, you’re the wrong kind of guy to put Christ back in Christmas.

Neo-Nazis don’t wish people ‘Happy Chanukah’ and members of the KKK don’t say ‘Happy Kwanzaa’ at the mall.

It’s like that with you and Christmas, Mr. President. You really should stick with ‘Happy Holidays.’

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Lost In The Woods

The forest is home to animals that want to eat you.

Wolves are especially dangerous because they dress like grandmothers and say things to throw you off guard. Grizzlies are just as bad. They see you and they start polishing the silverware.

A few Octobers ago a Cub Scout troop descended on a campground just over the state line. The small wooded acreage brought in a little cash for farmers who worked at the GM plant until it closed.

Tents were pitched. A lady named Peggy grilled burgers and dogs. A bonfire was lit. The night had turned cold and various critters rustled around the tents causing some kids to climb into their parents’ sleeping bags — the older scouts wouldn’t have to know.

The air was pure oxygen the next morning. After a warm breakfast a party set out to explore the environs. Everybody wanted to strike camp early because of the NFL game that afternoon so one of the fathers stayed behind to police the grounds.

When the hikers got back, his son wasn’t with them. No one seemed concerned about the missing boy — except his father of course.

The man squared his shoulders, squinted into the sun and ventured out alone.

He followed the trail that rolled to the right. Nothing. A child shorter than the undergrowth would be difficult to spot. He came to the loop where the paths intersected. Again, nothing.

He was well-aware that a nine-year-old carried away by the Chippewa would be initiated as a brave and end up on the warpath against the Great Chief in Washington, meaning that he would never be eligible for Federal Student Financial Assistance.

He tried to think what Liam Neeson would do.

Tick, tick, tick.

Then on a rise worn bare by the wind, something yellow darted between the trees. The man ran to a clearing where he finally got a visual lock on his boy.

Hiding any trace of panic he approached and asked his son how he was doing.

“Can we get shakes on the way home?” the kid answered. Then he mentioned how much he liked being alone in the woods. He said it was awesome.

The dangers were imagined that Sunday morning, but the fears were real. This was just the latest installment on the price of being a father. The man drove home knowing his account was current, its balance was paid in full.

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Net Neutrality

Dear Friends, this is not a usual ‘Out Among Human’ post.

The Commissioner of the FCC is determined to kill Net Neutrality.

Ajit Pai would allow Internet service providers to create “fast lanes” for certain websites, charge fees for bundles of sites the same way cable companies do for broadcast content, and adopt price structures that’ll trap you in economy class.

Enormously profitable corporations would be allowed to hijack and control the Internet.

Below is a web link that will place your phone call to your three congress members’ offices. It provides and dials the number and even suggests a brief script to help you explain your support for Net Neutrality.

I made my three calls during office hours and immediately talked with a staff member. It took less than three minutes.

Here’s the link: https://advocacy.mozilla.org/en-US/net-neutrality/

It’s our Internet, not theirs. Please share.

Thanks, Pat

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Donald Trump Jr. and Elephants

…the ‘poster boys’ strike again

A horse’s ass with an elephant’s tail.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Donald Trump recently suggested the way to prevent the slaughter of African elephants would be to allow wealthy Americans to do exactly that — to slaughter African elephants.

Americans would pay fees for the privilege of hunting, butchering and bringing home body parts of the endangered species. USFWS says the proceeds would be used to stop terrorists from trafficking in the same animals.

A final decision has not yet been made. But if the goal is the survival of the African elephant, it’s hard to see how a round fired by a vacationing trophy hunter is less lethal and less final than any other.

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The Doctor And His Shakespeare

This post is about a person I respect very much.
He has faced a serious illness with strength and imagination.

The man shown in the photograph has dedicated his life to… the healing arts. He’s an internist specializing in cardiovascular medicine.

He’s a personable man but if you ask him about himself he’ll volunteer as little as possible. His focus has always been on his patients.

Then he got sick.

The people he had attended over the years couldn’t help but be concerned.

Without going onto great detail, he explained that he was suffering from a disease of the mouth and that his jaws would be locked shut for a period of time. His patients watched a large man grow small.

His team began referring his appointments to other practitioners. His absence stretched longer than expected.

That was some years ago. These days the doctor speaks with a certain difficulty, his jaws still a bit clenched.

People find miraculous ways to face tragedy. Although the works of William Shakespeare are steeped in murder, larceny, insanity and despair, the doctor has always delighted in how accurately the playwright diagnoses what makes us tick.

Last year he put together a cut-and-paste, photocopied invitation to the reading of a stage script he wrote in homage to ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ The performance was delivered by professionals with a wit the Bard would have applauded. The doctor was radiant.

During a recent appointment I told him I’d like to make a few notes about him and the sixteenth-century poet. He insisted that no one would want to read about him.

“You didn’t make an appointment to talk about me,” he added.

But here’s a man who had walked through fire, and I was hoping he would share a few pointers with the rest of us mortals who one day may find slings and arrows coming our way.

The coming flu season should give me an excuse to try him again.

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Rich Quinn’s Tour of Duty

Rich grew up believing that he had a duty to serve his country.

Rich watched World War II movies on TV. He knew that John Wayne had done us proud and that the peace we engineered was as much a victory as the war we had won.

Despite Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about a ‘military industrial complex’ the U.S. waded into a ‘limited’ civil conflict. it ended up sending almost three million Americans to Vietnam.

That televised war bitterly contradicted our image of ourselves.

Just years earlier The Peace Corps had been created to spread American ideals around the world. That mission, Rich Quinn realized, would allow him to serve honorably without drawing a weapon.

He trained for ten weeks at Columbia University before shipping out to coastal West Africa.

Not everything made sense in Ghana. Volunteers weren’t sent to posts based on their skills but on the alphabetical order of their names. The town where Rich was assigned didn’t need an English teacher so he was hijacked to teach French — the good people of Bechem forgave his shortcomings because the presence of an American was prestigious.

There was no running water. The latrines were foul. Rich contracted amoebic dysentery, dengue fever and a festering skin disease that landed him into the hospital in Kumasi. “If it weren’t for penicillin I wouldn’t have made it back home,” he laughs.

Peace Corps volunteers were free to leave at any time. Many were shipped home because they couldn’t hack Africa. “This is a mistake,” Rich remembers thinking after his first year. But he stayed in Ghana and met his commitment.

Corps members believed that by serving a two-year tour they would be exempt from the military draft but that policy had didn’t appear anywhere in writing. Just after Rich returned home, the Selective Service initiated a lottery.

His birthday drew a draft number of 19 out of 365. He had served his country honorably but there was now a likelihood he would be called back for a second tour, this time in the military.

Every day for three years Rich went to the mailbox expecting to find the induction notice that never came.

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