Pull Up a Chair

(photo: DocJelly/flickr)

My short-term memory is back at work, but not so much at home. The surgeons said it would take about three months for me to feel like I’m back to normal.

My son-in-law has sore feet from the anti-rejection drugs. Hopefully, they will be able to stabilize him with those drugs.

Paul and I are finally getting married, April 28th, 2012. We’re going to Sarasota, where my family lives. I picked out the ring… it’s a pear-shaped diamond on a slim band.

Hopefully, my brother who lives in Pensacola can come down with his kids. His kids play instruments and we hope they will play at our wedding. We’d like a combo… oboe, keyboard and violin.

There was always some reason not to get married. When my daughter was a teenager, I needed my head of household credit, so that I could make ends meet.

In the meantime, we are planning the wedding and hoping it all goes smoothly.

My sister will probably cater the event. She’s a caterer for her school district.

We are getting married on the beach… and then we’ll have a picnic of sorts. My sister will probably buy the food and we’ll pay her back, and give her a large tip, besides.

Pull Up a Chair: The Gift

(photo: Maeflower72/flickr)

[As many of you know, KarenM recently donated a kidney to her son-in-law Jimmy. Of course there’s a lot that went into getting them into the OR, but we’ll start with some tales from the surgery.  What a beautiful gift.  -Ed]

First off, after getting there ready to go, they delayed the surgery by one day. My son-in-law had to have an upper and lower endoscopy on Tuesday and they wanted him to rest afterwards. Originally, the surgery was scheduled for Wednesday, October 19th, but they re-scheduled it for Thursday, October 20th.

Paul came down after my surgery on that Thursday and stayed with me in recovery and then came to my room with me. He came down again on Saturday and took me back to Theressa’s hotel suite (she had a lot of meeting planning points) and was able to get a suite. Paul stayed over… we had breakfast the next morning in the hotel and the chef picked up our check. I told her that I had just donated a kidney. After that, we went back to the hospital to see Theressa and Jimmy again, and his brother and sister-in-law and his aunt.

A funny story… they had given me some Versed and then introduced me to Jimmy’s surgeon. Theressa said I was polite and greeted him, but I don’t remember any of it. That Versed makes your forget everything!!!

Paul took me home on Sunday.

I couldn’t sleep in the hospital. They had those massage thingies around my ankles and they kept waking me up. The next night they kept waking me up to take my vital signs. I was really glad to get home where I could get some sleep. Of course, I did get some sleep in the hotel suite on Saturday night.

Jimmy looks great now. He was looking a bit grey about the face and his skin was a bit puffy, but now his skin is tight and he has a lot of color in his face. He looks fantastic! His hernias had come back. The surgeons fixed them and gave him a tummy tuck. He didn’t have much belly fat, but he had some loose skin and they wanted to get rid of that, so that he would heal better. Fat does not heal as well as muscle does.

When they put the kidney in him, it started making urine right away. He says he feels great now. They removed the staples a few weeks ago and removed the tubes that were draining his kidney. He looks great now and a bit slimmer. He had to lose some weight… he cut down on his portions and did a lot of walking. They have a dog and Jimmy probably walked him quite a bit.

We went to their house for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful feast… though I could not eat much because I had filled up on the nibblies before dinner.

I am just thrilled that they will be able to have a normal life in a month or two. My daughter used to work all day, then they would eat dinner and then do dialysis at home until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

Everything I went through was worth it!!! …even all of the invasive tests they did throughout the screening process.

Census Data Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income

WASHINGTON — Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans – nearly 1 in 2 – have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

“Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too `rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

“The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said. “If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years.”

[snip]

A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

Many mayors cited the challenges of meeting increased demands for food assistance, expressing particular concern about possible cuts to federal programs such as food stamps and WIC, which assists low-income pregnant women and mothers. Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger in cities, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

Across the 29 cities, about 27 percent of people needing emergency food aid did not receive it. Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., Sacramento, Calif., and Trenton, N.J., were among the cities that pointed to increases in the cost of food and declining food donations, while Mayor Michael McGinn in Seattle cited an unexpected spike in food requests from immigrants and refugees, particularly from Somalia, Burma and Bhutan.

Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.

“People who never thought they would need food are in need of help,” said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo., who co-chairs a mayors’ task force on hunger and homelessness.

Planned Parenthood vs. The States: The Legal Battles Rage

Laura Bassett at HuffPost writes in her first three paragraphs

The states launched an unprecedented avalanche of attacks against Planned Parenthood in their 2011 legislative sessions, but Planned Parenthood is battling back in the courts.

Eighteen states have passed one or more measures to limit the services the family planning provider can offer. Four are already facing Planned Parenthood in what promise to be lengthy and expensive legal battles to defend their right to enact those laws.

Legislators in five states — Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Wisconsin and Texas — defunded Planned Parenthood in 2011 because some of its clinics provide privately funded abortions. Planned Parenthood attorneys challenged three of those laws in court this summer, and judges in all three states — Indiana, North Carolina and Kansas — temporarily blocked their enforcement, unanimously ruling that state governments may not punish a particular health provider for offering a legal, constitutionally protected medical service.

You can read the rest of the post right here!

8 In 10 Lawmakers Lack An Academic Background In Business Or Economics: Study

Jordan Howard at the Huffington Post writes:

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers try to convince their constituents that they have the best answers for jumpstarting the economy and lowering the deficit, but the majority them aren’t actually economics experts — at least not academically.

Eight out of 10 members of Congress lack an academic background in economics or business, according to a new project called “Defeat the Debt” out of Employment Policies Institute, a fiscally conservative think tank.

Only 8.4 percent of federal lawmakers have a degree in economics, and 13.7 percent have a degree in business or accounting. Over half of the members of Congress (55.7 percent) hold a degree in a government-related or humanities field.

Image:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/59381529@N05/6076461114/in/photostream

(breakdown of academic degrees for members of congress)

Too many tax shelters for 1,400 millionaires!

Cayman Islands equal tax shelters

Alexander Eichler writes:

American Millionaires: 1,400 Paid No U.S. Income Taxes In 2009

New tax data from the Internal Revenue service shows that in 2009, incomes fell, unemployment claims rose, and the U.S. economy shed nearly two million taxpayers.

And of the 235,413 taxpayers who earned $1 million or more in 2009, 1,470 of them paid no taxes. [emphasis mine]

According to the data, the average income for American taxpayers fell to $54,283 — a drop of $3,516, or about 6.1 percent, between 2008 and 2009. Not only that, but the overall number of taxpayers — that is, individuals or married couples filing with the IRS — fell by almost two million.

“What you’re seeing is the devastation of the massive loss of jobs and the effects of the real recession on real Americans,” said Ed Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California.

Top Democrats are urging Obama to invoke the 14th amendment to stave off the potential downgrading of U.S. creditworthiness

14th Amendment by KarenM on flickr

Here’s a link to the many stories at HuffPost about this issue.

Tim Geithner:

14th Amendment says debt shall not be questioned. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Thursday

…that the Constitution may trump the debt ceiling, allowing the administration a way out of the default impasse. 

Rev. Chuck Currie:

Invoking 14th Amendment A Moral Option To Solve Debt Ceiling Impasse 

Jennifer Bendery at HuffPost writes:

“We believe that the president should invoke the 14th Amendment,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday. “The debt ceiling must be lifted,” said Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), also at the press conference. “And if that is the only way to get it done, then Mr. President, do it. And we and many more Members will stand with you.” Other Democrats, including Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), John Garamendi (Calif.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), are also calling on Obama to step in to resolve the debt crisis if Congress can’t reach a deal by August 2, when the government is expected to run out of money to pay its bills and begin to default. “Our president, we believe, has the [ultimate] power to solve this,” Garamendi said. “We hope he doesn’t have to use it.”[snip]
The provision at the heart of the constitutional debate, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” Essentially, Democrats are arguing that since the “public debt” cannot be questioned, then the debt ceiling itself is unconstitutional.
[snip]
“I am convinced that whatever discussions about the legality of that can continue,” Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said. “But I believe that something like this will bring calm to the American people and will bring needed stability to our financial markets.”[snip]Engel speculated that Obama’s resistance to the option may fade if it becomes apparent that Congress can’t reach a deal by August 2. (more…)

Americans are FURIOUS with Congress over their inability to raise the debt limit!

"hulk angry"
"hulk angry" by owenbooth on flickr

Henry C. Jackson at HuffPost has written a piece about how furious Americans are with congress at this brinkmanship that is close to tipping us over the economic cliff.

He begins with these three paragraphs:

Bob Krogman, an Air Force veteran who survived three helicopter crashes over North Vietnam, leaves little doubt about what he thinks of politicians when asked about the debt ceiling debate in Washington.

“(Politicians) care about themselves, and that’s the way it’s always been since I was in the military,” said Krogman, 60, hobbling on crutches outside the St. Louis VA Medical Center, where he went for an exam on his troubled lungs.

He fights back tears. “I’m furious. I hate them.” (more…)

Pull Up a Chair

Paul's quintet

I marched in the parade with our local Democratic Party on Monday… most of our members are truly progressive, and many of them are pretty upset with the president. We tossed tootsie rolls to kids and a few adults, too. It was the first time I had done that. Usually, I’m a spectator, taking photos of the parade.

I took only a few photos this time… one of the parade forming behind us… another of the parade forming ahead of us… and one of Paul’s quintet on a flat-bed truck. That tuba is pretty heavy and not easily carried in a parade. I also took a photo of a young man standing and watching the parade. He had tears in his eyes and several members of our party thanked him for his service. I suspect he is only recently out of the military.

It was a pretty busy weekend for us, as all of these patriotic holidays are. Anyone who plays a trumpet is in big demand on these holidays.

Friday night, a bunch of us went to see my grandson’s concert near Reading… we wanted to see the program they would be doing in Europe. Paul could not go because he had a gig that night.

Saturday and Sunday, Paul had concerts with two different bands (a big band and a Sousa band) in a park with an amphitheater, and on Monday he had two parades and a pool party. His quintet played at all three of those events. I couldn’t get a photo of the other parade, because I was picking up a birthday cake. The host of the pool party and I shared a birthday on Thursday. I am now 58, but I’m not sure how old he is, though he is a little bit older than I am. Before Sunday’s concert, we went to a barbecue that someone I work with was having… he and his family live near us. I made some deviled eggs for the barbecue and some wheat-free cupcakes with chocolate chips in them.

We were planning to see some fireworks after the pool party, but we were both so tired after all of the other activities; so, we just went home and took long naps.

I hope you all had a great weekend. Did you go to any parties or barbecues or picnics?

(photo’s after the jump) (more…)

Republicans’ intentional ignorance… by Bob Cesca at HuffPost

Cesca writes:

Republicans and conservatives make it really, really difficult for us to avoid focusing on their lapses in intelligence. And with a conga-line of top shelf Republicans front and center for the 2012 presidential nomination, we’re being treated to more examples of nitwittery from these people.

In the last six or seven months alone, there are enough examples of Republicans botching very basic ideas and facts to fill volumes of “Bushism” style novelty calendars.

[snip]

However, there’s a spectrum of anti-intellectualism on the right, and that’s a fact. The Republican Spectrum of Ignorance runs the gamut from “genuinely smart but wrong” on one extreme to “genuinely stupid” on the other with various points in between. (The categories can be overlapped, Venn Diagram style, and applied to specific conservative players.)

The categories:

Genuinely Smart but Wrong.

Deliberately Ignorant.

Un- or Miseducated.

Incompetent and Incapable.

Genuinely Stupid.

The wild card category is, simply put, Crazy.

You can read descriptions of the categories at this link!

Cesca also goes on musing about the role of education for the voting public… and how much Republicans would prefer to have uninformed voters, rather than smart ones!

Cesca closes with the following:

The Republicans are welcome to act like idiots as a means of pandering to dumbstupids. Just leave the rest of us alone. America needs more smarties, and I don’t think we can afford to wait for the right-wing to catch up to speed.