Posts Tagged ‘tea party’

The dumb, venal, rotten GOP game plan

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Sorry, Pop, we have no proof this program works. Last meal.

Sorry, Pop, we have no proof this program works. Last meal.

I think I have the White House game plan figured out. Actually, there are two of them. Make that three:

  1. The NIC (narcissist-in-chief) thrives on chaos. He will keep as many balls in the air — as many ridiculous charges, outrageous statements and out-and-out lies — as possible to keep everyone’s eyes off his efforts to milk the presidency for as much money as possible for his and his family’s business interests. It’s always about the buck with the Donald. The fact that he also happens to be an ignorant, racist, misogynist, bully only helps to camouflage his motivation: Greed.
  2. The Republican Party, which controls Congress, wants to use the NIC as a smokescreen for the fact it has no idea how to actually govern and really wants to only do what it always wants to do — reduce taxes for the rich and reward its corporate contributors, for as long as it can manage to keep the NIC in office.
  3. The Destroy-the-Government Gang. As its name implies, this is the really dangerous one, a  combination of Steve Bannon followers and Tea Party fanatics who have grabbed the Republican Party by the throat and said, “Listen up, we’re in charge now.” It combines dumb and venal, a deadly combination which also exists in game plan Number 2. Plus, it throws in just plain rotten.

Since all three are working together for separate goals, they share a mutual interest in fomenting chaos. The media have to decide daily what to focus on: The Russians? The wiretaps? The Wall? The travel ban? The budget? The conflicts of interest? The Trump/Ryan health care plan?

The only way for the rest of us to maintain sanity is to take it in digestible pieces. or, as is the case here, indigestible pieces. I offer two examples from the past week of what I think are the dumb and venal thinking that drive Republican policy today. One involves the budget, the other health care.

First, the budget. Mike Mulvaney, the NIC’s budget director, in defending his boss’s (Bannon’s) proposed 2017 budget, which mercilessly slashes social spending to further beef up the most powerful military on the planet and close the nation’s borders, defended the elimination of federal funds for the Meals on Wheels program because it “doesn’t work.”

He said it was “compassionate” to eliminate funds to feed homebound, low-income senior citizens because it wasn’t fair to ask single mothers to pay for something for which there was no proof of success. He also said the same thing about free school lunches and after-school programs for poor children.

This is dumb on steroids because, as reported in The Washington Post, numerous studies show that Meals-on-Wheels programs that feed more than a million homebound seniors every week “significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants. Other beneficial outcomes include increased socialization opportunities, improvement in dietary adherence, and higher quality of life.” It also reduces costs involved with taking care of the elderly in costly nursing homes.

Plus, what kind of country doesn’t want to fund programs that allow volunteers to bring meals to senior citizens with limited income or to feed hungry kids? That’s just rotten.

For the record, Mulvaney is a Tea Party loyalist. His nomination by the NIC was approved by the Senate, 51-49, with Republican John McCain joining all 48 Democrats in voting no. McCain said his vote was based on Mulvaney’s previous votes to cut defense spending. Interesting, now that he’s the NIC’s budget chief and not just another congressman, Mulvaney is OK with pumping up a bloated military budget by adding $54 billion, even if it means poor kids and older citizens go without food. Dumb, venal and rotten personified.

Now, health care. The GOP plan has been almost universally described as a disaster. We’ll save that for a later time. But if you’re looking for the kind of genius that went into writing it, let’s look at an exchange that took place in the House of Representatives in the middle of the night.

As the Energy and Commerce committee discussed the bill, Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.) asked Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) what he meant when he said premiums were “skyrocketing” in his state “because of the mandates from Obamacare.” What was he talking about, Doyle wondered. What did he object to? “Certainly not … pre-existing conditions, or caps on benefits or letting your child stay on the policy until 26, so I’m curious what is it we’re mandating?”

“What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” spoke up Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). “Is that not correct? And should they?”

“There’s no such thing as a la carte insurance, John,” Doyle replied.

“That’s the point,” Shimkus answered. “We want the consumer to be able to go to the insurance market and be able to negotiate on a plan.”

“There’s not a single insurance company in the world that does that,” said Doyle. “You’re talking about something that doesn’t exist.’’

Dumb.

The debate moved on with no one being so rude as to point out that it takes a man as well as a woman to produce the result that triggers the desire for prenatal care. It’s a family benefit. Shimkus happens to be the father of three young men.

One more thing about this sharp tack. Shimkus is chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment Subcommittee. In an interview in 2010, discussing climate change in an interview, he said, “I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God. And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.’’

Whew! I feel better.

As I said, there’s far too much of this kind of stuff going on with Republicans every day to be able to make sense of all of it. But if we focus really hard and snatch just one of those balls the NIC has in the air, all the rest will come tumbling down.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Give Me a ‘D’ for Dumb, Pat

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Pat Sajak ... scientist?

Pat Sajak … scientist?

It’s Pat Sajak’s fault.

For the past few years, I’ve been writing one opinion piece a week for a blog. It’s a way to keep doing in retirement what I did for more than 40 years for newspapers.

But I have been unable to form an opinion for three weeks — ever since I read about Sajak tweeting about “global warming alarmists being unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.”

This made no sense to me, starting with why the ever-smiling host of “Wheel of Fortune” had any reason to think his thoughts on global warming were worth sharing on Twitter in the first place.

But as I tried to set aside the Sajak incident, I found myself unable to find anything else that made sense to me. What the heck is wrong with this country? I wondered. What could I write about when what is supposedly the most technologically advanced society in history seems to be paralyzed by a combination of willful ignorance and abject laziness. Sajak Syndrome, if you will.

When did dumb become fashionable?

Pick a topic. Global warming? Pictures of the Arctic ice pack melting? Nearly 100 percent agreement among scientists that humans are destroying the planet’s atmosphere through extravagant, ignorant use of fossil fuels and cutting down of rain forests? That’s nonsense, the pundits on Fox News say. Wasn’t it cold this winter? Didn’t it snow? What the heck do scientists know?

If it were true, the Fox News folks would tell us, the Fox flock say. Really? When they’re being paid to lie? This is abject laziness on the part of the viewers and willful ignorance on the part of the bosses and staff and big money backers at Fox News. And sadly today, most of the Republican Party.

How do you reach people who don’t want to be reached, I wondered, people who are too lazy to question, who are so set in their own prejudices that they eagerly accept the drumbeat message that the man living in the White House is to blame for all that scientific foolishness and everything else that is wrong with this country?

Please, tell me again how racism is dead in America since we elected Barack Obama, a black man, to be president. Tell that to people whose voting rights are being stripped (by Republicans). Tell that to people of color in “Stand Your Ground” states. Check the arrest and imprisonment statistics on drug crimes.

Forgive me for jumping around here, but, as I said, I can’t figure out what to write about because there is so much insanity going on in this country. The bankers drove this country into a recession through shady deals and didn’t go to jail. Today, people who still can’t find jobs because of the recession are called lazy and Congress — again, led by Republicans — cuts money for food stamps for the poor and refuses to extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed or raise the minimum wage or expand benefits to veterans.

It also refuses to cut college students — the future of this country — a break on the interest rates on their back-breaking loans. The corporations, of course, still get their tax breaks and CEOs who drive companies into the red still get rewarded with lavish golden parachutes. And the boss of McDonald’s tells his employees to get another job to make ends meet because he can’t afford to pay them a living wage. To Fox News, this makes sense.

Did I mention guns? There is a shooting at a school or mall or other public place virtually every day now, but it’s not because guns are too easy to get, the willfully ignorant insist. No, the leaders of the NRA tell us that if we armed teachers and let everyone carry weapons openly there would be fewer shootings. Bring your guns to Chili’s and Target. More guns mean fewer shootings. Oh, and if you don’t feel like paying your share of income tax, hole up on your ranch with an arsenal and defy the federal government. Because you’re a patriot. Fox News will defend your “right.’’ This is insane.

Look at the food we eat. Well, actually, most of us apparently would rather not. Monsanto, a chemical company that controls the food supply, changes the genetic structure of basic foods. This allows companies to sell food cheaper because more crops grow in less space and the “food” lasts longer on shelves. That food is usually full of salt and sugar and chemicals, in addition to having its genetic structure changed.

No one knows the possible effects of genetically modified food, but Congress (Republicans, again) allows it — won’t even require labeling of foods with GMOs — because Monsanto is a very generous donor to political campaigns. Europe has banned GMOs. China, too, and other countries. But Fox closes its eyes and ears and shuts off its brain to the obvious questions — willful ignorance — and its sheep munch away on cheap, addictive food, raising health insurance costs as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and weight-related illnesses increase. All the while, of course — again at the instigation of Fox — they are criticizing the president for trying to make health insurance more affordable for everyone.

There’s plenty more. We are a nation of immigrants that can’t come up with a reasonable immigration policy. We espouse freedom of religion, but in some areas of America it’s probably not wise to admit being Muslim. There is still some question among some conservatives as to who is responsible when a woman is raped. Evolution is considered by the willfully ignorant and abjectly lazy as a theory to be debated. But Noah and the Flood — an undeniable fact.

The Internet gets blamed for a lot of the misinformation that is spread today. But the Internet is just a tool. People spread ignorance, out of fear, greed, selfishness, prejudice, envy, laziness. I think many of the commentators at Fox News are laughing all the way to the bank. They are getting rich by criticizing the poor. Others are simply willing to say whatever they are told to say to get a paycheck. Some are just nasty and don’t like people who are different from them. I think at times they all say stuff that they have to know can’t be true, but they do it anyway because that’s their job. There is really no excuse for people like this — the willfully ignorant.

Why the Republican Party has allowed itself to be dragged down to this level, kowtowing to the frenzied anti-government, anti-Obama cries of the tea partiers, I don’t know. I suspect it has to do with race (the president’s) and with money — who is providing how much of it to whom. Integrity is clearly not held in high regard in the GOP these days, at least not since it offered Sarah Palin as a person to be trusted a heartbeat away from the presidency.

That leaves the climate-change deniers (who also doubted the president’s birth certificate) who think anything they read on the Internet is true, except if it’s on an actual mainstream news site or one run by liberals. These are the abjectly lazy who wouldn’t check a fact put forth by Fox News even if their life depended on it. And sometimes it does.

So there’s my dilemma. I know what I have described here doesn’t apply to everyone in this country. My belief — indeed, my fervent hope — is that it doesn’t apply to a majority or even large minority of us. But Sajak Syndrome exists. So I will continue to write with that in mind and encourage others of like mind to do so as well. Far too many Americans have bought into the idea that dumb is good, up is down, black is white and what some politician said yesterday doesn’t have to make sense with what he or she says today.

Far too many, in other words, would rather think of renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of “Cosmos” (on Fox TV no less) as a charlatan and liar when he describes the “Big Bang” theory and tells us that global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed seriously and immediately. On this issue, they’d rather trust the judgment of game show host Pat Sajak.

That’s where I came in.

Bob Gaydos can be reached at rjgaydos@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Barack Obama II: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

President Obama delivers his inaugural address.

By Bob Gaydos

OK, bring it on. That was the unvarnished, unmistakable message of President Barack Obama’s second Inaugural Address. No pussy-footing around. No avoiding the controversial. No kowtowing to political opponents who have figuratively spit in his face from Day One, whatever the issue. No reason to.

No reason to.

There can be something freeing about presidential second terms. Unburdened by the need to proceed in a manner conducive to reelection — more cautious as a rule — a second-term president can speak his mind and declare his positions with more clarity — more honesty, if you will — as he focuses on legacy rather than voter registrations.

Barack Obama wasted no time letting Americans know that, yes indeed, inside the veneer of the cautious consensus-seeker of his first term beat the heart of a true, progressive politician.

On the second day of his term (Sunday was the first official day) Obama delivered an address that spoke of gay rights, global warming and even gun control. For the record, America, your president believes in all three and, for those who do not, he made it clear he intends to tackle all three in the next four years. Indeed, the relatively brief address was remarkable for the number of challenges he hurled at tea party obstructionists and members of the Republican Party who have let the nay-sayers define their party.

The million or so people gathered on the Washington Mall to witness the event had barely started paying attention to the speech when Obama lit into the know-nothings: “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” It’s like he was saying, “Pay attention, folks, this is no ordinary speech.”

He even went after Republicans who tried to deny Americans the right to vote in the last election with a series of crippling hurdles to the fundamental democratic act: “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.”

That journey was a recurring metaphor in Obama’s speech, as he conjured the spirit of the nation’s founders in bringing “we, the people,” along with him on the journey, “including “our gay brothers and sisters.” He equated the struggle for gay rights with the struggles for women’s equality and civil rights for blacks, an extraordinary statement for an American president. Indeed, a first in an inaugural address.

And he made clear that immigration reform leading to citizenship would be central in his second-term agenda and that, whatever weapons the NRA might muster to fight it, gun control would not be avoided because it is too controversial.

Not this time.

The speech at once energized Obama’s faithful and antagonized his opponents. But clearly, after four years of trying unsuccessfully to find a sane Republican voice with whom to at least try to reach some consensus, the president had obviously decided to play the victor’s card. He won the election convincingly and public opinion is behind him on virtually every issue, including gay rights and gun control, while Republicans are getting most of the blame for the obstructionism that has paralyzed Congress the past four years.

Politics as a profession often gets a bad rap. “You can’t trust any of them.” “They’re all out for themselves.” Etc.

Much of it is deserved, but without politicians we can have no government. Someone has to do the job. Sometimes it is messy. Sometimes it involves going against one’s own wishes — compromising. Sometimes — and this is tough for followers to accept — it requires patience. Things change. People change. The world changes. Timing is essential to good politics. Timing and an honest assessment of the situation as it is.

Barack Obama has not changed. He has merely waited for the right moment to let his inner, progressive self out. He inherited a recession bordering on depression and led the country (perhaps the world) out of it. He inherited two wars and has all but ended one and pushed up the timetable to end the other. (“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” he said, with those who would love to attack Iran clearly in mind.)

For good measure, he let the tea partiers know that “we cannot … treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

Conservatives may not have liked the speech,, but then, they lost the election, didn’t they? And they rejected every offer of bipartisanship from their president, didn’t they? The president obviously believes he has “we, the people” on his side and intends to pursue his agenda aggressively with that mind. (And, by the way, GOP, don’t think you’re going to dismantle Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid either.)

There were no details in the speech and the goals (save for immigration reform perhaps) will not be easy to achieve. But Barack Obama is through playing Mr. Nice Guy to folks who never gave him the time of day. Is it the right approach? At the very least it would be an honest approach, one true to the president’s ideals and convictions. If the recalcitrants are offended, so be it. (“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle …”)

With little to lose and a legacy to create, Barack Obama has taken off the gloves. Four more years. Some might say it’s about time.

bob@zestoforange.com

Of Congressmen and Cockroaches

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

A scene from "The Walrus and the Carpenter," by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Sir John Tenniel in 1871. (Wikimedia Commons)

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things,
Of cockroaches and congressmen,
Of cabbages and kings.”

a paraphrase from Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter”

 

By Emily Theroux

Have you ever wondered exactly how unpopular Congress is, when stacked up against stuff people really dislike – say, traffic jams, telemarketers, or root canal procedures?

Just ask the president of Public Policy Polling, whose latest survey instructed respondents to compare their disdain for our elected lawmakers to a range of unsavory things. “The fact that voters like (Congress) even less than cockroaches, lice, and Genghis Khan really shows how far its esteem has fallen with the American public over the last few weeks,” said Dean Debnam.

A new PPP poll found that cockroaches rated higher among voters than Congress did, by a margin of 45 to 43 percent. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A full 85 percent of participants revealed during the January 3-6 poll that they view our legislative branch as creepier than cockroaches, crawlier than head lice, more obnoxious than the most tedious pseudo-metal band, and a bigger pain in the ass than a colonoscopy.

Bored with conventional surveys of congressional approval by the public, PPP resolved to try a novel approach: testing the esteem in which Congress is held against 26 different loathsome* people, places, situations, or things. The 9 percent favorability rating of our current federal legislators, as seen after they narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff, ranks Congress beneath the following unpleasant entities and experiences:

  1. Head lice (the possibility of whose removal, considering the GOP gerrymandering that’s made it almost impossible to dislodge entrenched Republican congressmen no matter how badly most voters want them out of office, boosted their score: Lice 67, Congress 19);
  2. Brussels sprouts (not as yucky to grown-ups) 69, Congress 23;
  3. The NFL replacement referees (for everyone but Packers fans) 56, Congress 29;
  4. Colonoscopies (which at least provide vital information after the fact) 58, Congress 31;
  5. Root canals (painful but mercifully temporary) 56, Congress 32;
  6. Used-car salesmen (the lemons they foist on unwary buyers, apparently, don’t leave as sour a taste as threats to “shut down the government”) 57, Congress 32;
  7. Traffic jams (you may get stuck in them, but not for 2-6 years) 56, Congress 34;
  8. France (because nobody’s saying “freedom fries” these days) 46, Congress 37;
  9. Carnies (who “may use loaded dice,” according to PPP, but still offer “a better chance at winning”) 39, Congress 31;
  10. Canadian band Nickelback 39, Congress 32;
  11. Genghis Khan 41, Congress 37;
  12. DC political pundits 37, Congress 34;
  13. Donald Trump 44, Congress 42; and, last but hardly least,
  14. Cockroaches 45, Congress 43.

The Canadian 'nu metal' band Nickelback, which one Urban Dictionary reviewer described as exemplary 'of why our art is in a state of stale, regurgitated darkness.' Another said lead singer Chad 'sounds constipated on a permanent basis.' Opined a third: 'This band is like cyanide for my ears.' (Photo from social media site Fanpop; membership 69% white, 89% non-college-educated)

Things could be more calamitous for lawmakers, although not by much. Most people prefer Congress to venereal disease, telemarketers, and a certain cheating presidential candidate, among the few other things they found viler than our current crop of elected pols.

What did 85 percent of voters judge worse than Washington legislators? Lindsay Lohan, playground bullies, telemarketers, the Kardashians, John Edwards, lobbyists, Fidel Castro, gonorrhea, Ebola virus, communism, North Korea, and finally, at the bottom of the stinking heap of horribles, meth labs.

 

The United States of Absurdity

When I first heard the results of the new survey on the comparative unpopularity of Congress, my thoughts turned wistfully to a simpler time, my early childhood, when my father used to read us Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, and Edward Lear. Daddy had a highly attuned appreciation for the absurd, which he set about to instill in his children as soon as we were old enough to listen to storybooks.

The March Hare and the Mad Hatter from Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “The Jumblies” and “The Pobble Who Has No Toes,” from Lear’s Nonsense Book; and “The Elephant’s Child” and Small Porgies (the Animal that came out of the sea) in Kipling’s Just So Stories, were my imaginary childhood friends.

Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Army-McCarthy hearings (AP Wirephoto, 1954)

At least it seemed like a simpler time. Dwight Eisenhower inhabited the White House, a fact that greatly disturbed my mother, who adored Adlai Stevenson and campaigned for him twice (in the days before it was only Republicans who ran losing candidates a second time for president). She chiefly resented Ike for failing to denounce Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, perpetrator of the post-World War II “Red Scare,” during the notorious commie-hunter’s reign of terror in Washington. “I will not get into the gutter with that guy,” said Eisenhower, who privately likened a fight with McCarthy to a “pissing contest with a skunk,” according to Eisenhower biographer Piers Brendon.

William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1985

My mother curtailed all unnecessary housework to sit rapt in front of our first TV set throughout the Army-McCarthy hearings in early 1954. After the Senate voted 67-22 to censure McCarthy that December, far-right wingnuttery simmered down for awhile. In 1962, conservative visionary William F. Buckley denounced founding “Bircher” Robert Welch for his extremist view that the entire federal government was infiltrated by communists, including Eisenhower and members of the Supreme Court. As Buckley wrote, in a 5,000-word “excoriation” of Welch’s delusional thinking, published in National Review:

“How can the John Birch Society be an effective political instrument while it is led by a man whose views on current affairs are, at so many critical points . . . so far removed from common sense? That dilemma weighs on conservatives across America.”

In 1964,  conservative GOP candidate Barry Goldwater lost the presidential election in a landslide. In 1980, Ronald Reagan tacked hard right again, and a steady, 30-year progression began toward conservative “limited-government” policies and culture-war social fundamentalism.

 

Our politics enter ‘a state of stale, regurgitated darkness’

Since Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, however, congressional Republicans appear to have lost their ever-lovin’ minds. Since the reactionary mid-term contests of 2010, the Tea-Party-bewitched House has abandoned any notion of compromise, and the once-staid Senate (which George Washington described to Thomas Jefferson as a “cooling saucer” for legislation passed by the House, used as if to cool one’s tea) has gone filibuster-crazy. Now, we’re stuck in a vortex of far-right recalcitrance and ideology. Together, they’ve led Democrats into a maze of gridlock with no apparent escape route.

Obama may have won reelection in 2012, but the balance of power hasn’t substantially shifted in 2013. The GOP continues to hold the House, with an ineffectual John Boehner still at its helm. The Republicans in the House, two years away from another campaign, entrenched in their gerrymandered districts, and beholden to powerful corporate donors, are beginning to forget the party’s post-election angst over what new direction it should take in light of its devastating election losses.

The Republican Senate minority under Mitch McConnell, currently digging in on obstructionist tactics against Obama’s cabinet nominees, acts as if the 2012 election never happened. The president has a traditional prerogative to appoint the cabinet he wants, barring influence-peddlers, convicted ax murderers, or proven zombies. (Chief obstructionist John McCain even said so, back when Dubya swaggered where Obama now stands as tall as possible, given the carnage done to our Constitution by total whack-jobs.)

The cockroaches, in this case, have nothing to do with cabinets, with cabbages or kings. This new, psychotic breed is scurrying out of the chamber pots, the ones with the Rs on their lids – both sets of them.

* * *

* I personally exempt Brussels sprouts and France, which I find unobjectionable, except for the fact that, during an excellent European adventure in 1972 (during which my first husband and I carried our belongings in backpacks and were thus considered “dirty hippies” by disapproving Parisian hoteliers), we were not offered continental breakfast. And don’t call me paranoid, but I swear, a chambermaid strategically rearranged the pieces on a chess board we had left in our room mid-game.

A Gratitude List for 2012

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

By Bob Gaydos

The last few years I’ve practiced the habit of making a gratitude list at the end of the year. Nothing formal. Just a kind of memo to myself about the the good things in my life and even in the world we live in.

Some people might find this corny or even delusional, given the state of much of the world. For me, that’s the reason for doing it. I have learned that if I focus on the positive people and situations in my life, the rest of the nonsense, over which I have little or no control, tends not to bother me, or at least not nearly as much as it used to. And positive stuff tends to follow.

I think this is how I got through the most inane and insane election season in a long time. Yes, I am grateful that Barack Obama was re-elected president. But I never for once took seriously the ship of fools the Republicans offered as possible opponents, including the zombie who eventually survived, Mitt Romney. After his opponents devoured him in the primaries, the man had no brain of his own. But the real saving grace in that scenario for me was that, even if Romney somehow won, he was still smarter than George W. Bush, and we survived eight years of him in the Oval Office. (Note to self: If you live in a country that elects George W. Bush president twice, you really can’t take politics too seriously.)

Worse than being too concerned about other people’s absurd political views, of course, is taking one’s own views too seriously. Hello, tea party members, how’d things go in this past election? Not so good, you say? All your extra- terrestrial, misogynist candidates lost? Yeah, I’m really kinda glad about that. I’m not so thrilled with what you’ve done to the Republican Party, but then, their party members chose over and over again to adopt your dumb (there’s no other word) positions on social and economic issues and, whaddya know? Americans rejected them one by one across the country.

For that, I am truly grateful, because I am a big fan of sanity and compassion.

What else? Well, I’m grateful the Mayans were wrong about that end of the world thing and that that mystery planet, Nibiru, didn’t destroy us. (Actually, I just threw those in to placate the folks who believed that stuff.)

That brings me to the personal stuff. I am grateful I have two healthy, smart sons who speak to me, friends who can be counted on (yes, even Facebook, which helped me find new ones), a brain (or is it a mind?) that still functions fairly well and lets me share these thoughts, a blog that lets lots of people read them, if they choose, an abiding sense of curiosity about the world, and a willingness, even in retirement, to accept new people, habits and thoughts into my life.

The latter have to do with a new diet and exercise regimen I have undertaken in the past few months, which I mentioned in a previous blog.

This is easily said, not so easily done. But this is not one of my old New Year’s resolutions that evaporates with the new year. So far, so good. I‘ve lost weight and had to buy new jeans and hoodies, because the XXL sizes are too big on me now. There are actual signs of muscle. Fruits and vegetables are not the enemy. Sugar is a stranger. I haven’t finished reading “Wheat Belly.”

I have profound gratitude for the surprising willingness I discovered to actually make these changes and to trust that this is the right new path for me to take, and for those in my life who make it easier, even enjoyable, to make the journey.

Happy New Year.

bob@zestoforange.com