Yes, Mr. Coonix. My name is Jean and I am calling about your recent visit to our store…
Time for another bogus survey. Every trip to the car dealer or the cell phone store results in one of these calls. You are warned in advance by the clerk, waitress or salesperson that anything less than a “ten” is considered a failure. Ten out of Ten. It is pass/fail with nine fail options. It is total BS. The employees are cowed into providing less mediocre service, the customers forced to pretend that they actually enjoyed the shopping experience. Sometimes we did, but we are nice people so we always give the requested superlatives. It is all so cynical.
There is a way to measure excellence. We know real success. And, we have witnessed the results of falling short of one’s expectations.
The Plain Dealer had a sad but important story in today’s paper about a basketball player who had fallen short of his goals. He had not lived up to his or his teammates’ expectations. His time with the Cavs could have been more productive. He had disappointed countless people around the country. And, in the end, he paid the ultimate price.
Mel Turpin died yesterday. To be more accurate, he committed suicide. He was only 49 years old. Mel Turpin was the sixth pick in the 1984 draft, the same draft that gave the league Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. He was a top collegiate player who had led Kentucky to several conference championships. But, he was a bust as a pro. He couldn’t control is weight. His nickname was Dinner Bell Mel. He only played five years before retiring.
Mel Turpin knew the definition of excellence. He knew what 10 out of 10 looked like. In college it was winning the final game, the one on the first Monday in April. In the pros it is winning the ring. It is being the best of the best. And Mel Turpin wasn’t. He lived with that and, sadly, probably died with that knowledge.
This all, of course, leads us to LeBron James. LBJ made a startling admission last night. He was forced to admit that he may be able to control the media, but he can not control the basketball court. He is not THE MAN. He ceded control to Dwayne Wade.
LeBron James was unable to convince Chris Bosh and D-Wade to join his team, the Cavaliers. The money was here. What was missing was the leadership. LeBron couldn’t get the job done. Just as he had failed on the court, he couldn’t execute the deal off the court. If he wanted to play with Bosh and Wade, he would have to leave HIS team, HIS home, HIS safe-haven and join them on Wade’s turf. The announcers and talking heads discussed LeBron as the point guard, sacrificing a part of his game to fit into the new role. To win a ring, to be a part of a championship team, LeBron was forced to admit that he couldn’t lead a team, or a city, to glory.
So what did we see last night? We saw the real LeBron. Unscripted. Amazingly unprepared. Off the court, when the lightning fast reflexes, the court sense, and the basketball knowledge are of no help, he had difficulty communicating. “ I’m going to take my talents to South Beach…” Really? Talents to Miami, laundry to New York?
Dressed in a loose fitting plaid shirt, the guy who had staged this whole self-indulgent promotion was unprepared when the lights came on. More importantly, he showed himself to be unprepared for the responsibility of leadership. He shamed his team. He shamed Northeast Ohio. And in particular, he shamed Dan Gilbert, a guy who appears to have given him anything he had wanted. Not only did Gilbert get the brush off on national TV, we, the audience, were told by James that Gilbert and the other teams were learning his decision during the announcement. He didn’t have the grace or class to talk to the people who had offered him millions. It was tasteless. It was sad. As I watched this spectacle I thought about his teammates, the team management, and the fans. G-d knows he didn’t.
So, if Miami wins a title, and that is a big if, will James be OK? Will winning an NBA title on someone else’s team be enough? Is being a really great role player enough to assuage his ego. I always thought he wanted to be Michael Jordan. I never imagined him as Scotty Pippin. But in this era of grade inflation, where everyone wants a score of 10 out of 10 regardless of the real value, maybe you can still be a King even when you live in someone else’s country.
The last two posts of Again? Really? have featured a few of my recipes. The first was for a versatile pecan crust and a pumpkin pie. One June 23rd I wrote about mashed cauliflower and a fun chicken dish. These recipes were all written as if you, my readers, were sitting in my kitchen, sharing a good bottle of wine, and opening the oven door when my hands were full.
Some of you may have learned a new way to make dinner. Some of you may be serving pie this weekend. I also learned a few things:
- There are people who like to read recipes, the more conversational the better.
- Desserts are more interesting than main courses.
- Cooks who only want instructions HATE my conversational style.
Hate is not an exaggeration. My readers are not bashful. And I am not complaining.
You might lose your patience if you are in the middle of making a dish, sautéing, stirring and measuring, and you are forced to wade through my prose in search of useful information. Simple, clear instructions would be more practical. The rest, including technique, should appear before or after the recipe.
I was, of course, initially devastated by the criticism. But I soon realized that it would be more productive to take my head out of the oven and bake a pie instead.
Lower Carb Apple Pie
Makes one 9” pie
3 T Flax Meal
¾ C Almond Meal or Almond Flour
¼ t Salt
1 T Liquid Sweetener (Malitol)
6 T Butter or Margarine, melted
¼ t Cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 375 F
- Mix the dry ingredients
- Stir the sweetener into the melted butter
- Mix all of the ingredients together
- Spread the batter into the pie dish
- Baker for 12 minutes
- Cool thoroughly
2 Macintosh Apples, peeled and sliced
2 Braeburn Apples, peeled and sliced
1 packet Splenda
- Sprinkle the apples with the spices and Splenda
- Put into the cooled crust
2 Cups Frozen Pecan Pieces
4T Butter or Margarine, melted
2T Liquid Sweetener (Malitol)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F
- Chop the pecans
- Mix the liquid ingredients
- Mix all of the ingredients
- Form a crust over the pie
- Bake 1 hour
It’s dessert. It’s really easy. Try it and let me know what you think.
I was standing in the checkout line at Heinen’s. My default lunch is soup and a visit to the grocery store’s salad bar. In front of me was a new dieter. How could I tell? His diet lunch was a salad, a pound or more packed into the plastic family of four container. You can not focus on just what you eat. At some point you must also address how much.
Today’s recipe calls for .75 pounds of boneless chicken breast for a dinner for two adults. That is not ¾ of a pound per person. It is .75 total. I know that when I eat out it doesn’t matter whether I order a 12 ounce steak or a 6 ounce burger, I am going to clean my plate and I’m going to be full. You may be the same way. If you are, then you must control the size of the portions. You must control how much reaches your plate.
Wait, I hear you screaming, “Dave, where can I buy .75 pounds of boneless chicken breasts?” The answer is almost anywhere. First, don’t go nuts on me. You need about 12 ounces, not exactly. Second, I am aware the containers of boneless chicken breasts are usually much larger. No problem. Grab a nice package and take it to the meat department clerk (or if you are really lucky, the butcher) and tell him what you want.
I visited Boris’s Kosher Meats last Thursday morning.
“Yes David. I will take that package, divide it in two and double wrap them.”
“Thank you Boris.”
I don’t even have to ask.
I hate the idea of eating simply out of necessity. I believe that food should be delicious and cooking should be fun. This is my Kosher, low-carb version of Chicken Cordon Bleu. For fun we’ll call it Chicken Kosher Blues. I serve it on a bed of mashed cauliflower, garnish with roasted red pepper, and start the meal with a small salad.
Chicken Kosher Blues
12 ounces boneless chicken breast
2 Slices Tofutti Soy Mozzarella Cheese ( parve)
3 slices Kosher salami
½ small onion, chopped
2 large button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup low sodium chicken soup
½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ cup white wine
2 T margarine (parve)
2 T Olive Oil
1 T flour
Garlic Salt, Black Pepper, Poultry Seasoning
1. Pound the chicken breasts to about ¼” thickness. Place a slice of cheese and a slice of salami on each chicken breast. Roll up and secure with a couple of toothpicks.
2. Heat margarine and oil in a 10” covered skillet. Sauté onions, mushrooms and garlic. Don’t burn the onions. We’re just giving them a couple minute head start. Place the chicken into the pan, cooking each side till it is no longer pink. Don’t forget the ends.
3. Remove the chicken. Stir in one tablespoon of flour. Add more margarine and oil if needed. Stir in the chicken soup, almond milk and wine. Dice the last slice of salami and add it to the pan. We only need a couple of shakes of the garlic salt, a few twists of the pepper grinder, and about ¼ teaspoon of the poultry seasoning to finish this. Return the chicken to the skillet, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Periodically turn the chicken or spoon the gravy over the meat.
4. Serve over a bed of mashed cauliflower.
½ head of cauliflower, cut in florets
8 ounces frozen cauliflower florets
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 packet Splenda
White (or black) pepper
I usually make this first and then yutz with the chicken. The frozen cauliflower works just as well as fresh. This is an incredibly easy recipe. I wish I could say that I originated it. I didn’t. I just tweaked it.
1. Cook the cauliflower till tender. Steam or toss it into the boiling water. It really doesn’t matter.
2. Drain the cauliflower and let it cool for a minute or two.
3. Place the cauliflower into a food processor with some of the almond milk. I have a hand held mini-mixer that I stick right into the pot. Works great and quicker to clean! Puree the cauliflower till almost smooth. Think mashed potatoes, not baby food.
4. If you used the food processor, return the cauliflower to the pot and stir in the rest of the almond milk and up to one packet of Splenda. At this point I give this a couple twists from the pepper grinder. You won’t see white pepper. I personally don’t care. A couple of shakes of garlic powder and onion powder will give this a little more flavor. Check your consistency. If it is too runny, a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in a tablespoon of water will help. If it looks to dry, add a touch more almond milk.
5. Place the cauliflower in a small glass Pyrex casserole dish. Sprinkle with chives and place in a pre-heated 300 F oven for 45 minutes. I have left this in the oven for an hour with no ill effects. Like I said, easy.
This is only a starting point. There are countless ways to modify these recipes. Try them and share with all of us.
Let’s get the boring part of this out of the way. Yes, in June 2003 I weighed 255 pounds. That is not obese for a man my height, but I certainly wasn’t svelte. I was enduring my annual physical when my doctor, Larry Kent, diagnosed that I had borderline high blood pressure. He told me that I had to lose 15 pounds, lower my stress, and reduce my salt intake. I reminded him that I had weighed this much for several years. He replied that I could no longer carry it. I told him that the salt part was just boilerplate. My salt intake was excellent. And as far as stress goes, I wasn’t getting divorced for two more years.
Dr. Kent gave me three months to lose the weight and lower my blood pressure. Otherwise, I would have to take medication. Regular readers of my other blog, Health Insurance Issues With Dave, know that I didn’t want to take any medication. I created a low-carb diet and followed it religiously. By my next visit I had lost twenty pounds and had reduced my blood pressure to an acceptable level. Dr. Kent was pleased. I was curious whether I could lose another twenty.
In one year I lost 80 pounds. I was too thin. A doctor friend asked if I had had bariatric surgery. By September 2004 I had regained 15 pounds. I have hovered between 190 and 195 since. The combination of a low carbohydrate diet and a lot of discipline have allowed me to stay at this healthy weight. I don’t find it difficult, in part, because of all of the tasty foods I have to eat.
Susie Sharp has been after me to publish a cookbook. I have adapted a number of recipes to low-carb and Kosher. I keep Kosher in my home and this just makes the whole process a touch more challenging. I made a pumpkin pie over the weekend. I hope you will give it a try.
Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust
This makes one 9” pie.
2 cups pecan pieces
5 T melted butter or margarine
2-3 T fake sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1. This works best if the pecans were kept in the freezer until you are ready to make the crust. Pulse them in a food processor or grind them in a coffee mill. Keep them chunky. You don’t want powder.
2. Add the margarine, vanilla and fake sugar. I like Joseph’s liquid or a couple of Splenda packets. Mix the four ingredients thoroughly.
3. Dump into the pie pan and spread the crust with your fingers. There really is enough.
1 15 oz can of pumpkin or the better part of the 28 oz can
2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup coffee cream
1/3 cup fake sugar (this is a good time to use the liquid stuff)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cloves
1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Mix all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor. I don’t have a blender or food processor. I dump everything into a really big bowl, get out a whisk, and mix the daylights out of it. Works just fine.
3. Pour into the crust.
4. Put the pie into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 F. In 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the center looks to be about set or the pie starts to crack around the edges. This is 35 minutes in my oven. Yours? You’ll find out.
5. Cool and serve. I like The whipped cream in the can. There are almost no carbs.
Pumpkin is in short supply right now. I have found the larger can at Heinen’s. This allows me to use about 18 oz of pumpkin. You can use the rest as a side course. You can heat it in the microwave and serve it like mashed sweet potato.
I would like to know if anyone attempts this and if there really is an interest in other low-carb recipes.
I wasn’t insulted. I wasn’t hurt. It was obvious that the two women thought that I was gay. From their perspective, I had exhibited all of the signs of being gay. My clothes matched. I paid attention to them. And, I hadn’t hit on either of them.
I am not gay. I do dress with care and listen to people, men and women, even if only to hear what they have to say. And in the case of those two women, they really weren’t my type. (Feel free to insert your own joke here.) Still, I did find the entire episode amusing.
I have always hidden in plain sight. No secrets. I haven’t any skeletons hiding in my walk-in closets. No scandals waiting to break. It’s not that I have had a boring, uneventful life. I just believe that the best way to deal with life’s problems is with openness and laughter.
It’s not for everybody.
Even though marriage and relationships are a large part of my daily conversation, this blog has spent more space on other issues. This was not intentional. It just happened. Besides, this blog also includes five years’ of columns from my time with Ohio’s Finest Singles. If You Won’t Leave Me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will details marriages, divorces, and all of the life in-between. Do the math and you can figure out how many times I’ve tripped down the aisle (5) and which problems were avoidable (I say none, but what do I know?).
So, why are we talking about this today? I had a couple of conversations this past week that led me to this post.
My last marriage culminated in an incredibly messy divorce. The whole exercise was wasteful and illogical. I lost patience with her and her brain trust. The terminology reflected that reality. On April 25, 2005 I “pulled the plug on her”. When the papers were finally signed fifteen months later on July 13, 2006 and she received considerably less than what I had originally offered, I had cigars made. Last November I posted on Facebook that “I just wrote the last check to the woman who cured me of marriage”.
And there’s the rub. You can not be cured of marriage. Marriage is not an illness. I know that. I believe in the institution of marriage. I am very supportive and proud of the partnership my daughter Jennifer and my son-in-law Matt have created. I am excited that my son Phillip will be marrying Allison this October. My glibness may have overrun my reality.
And so, I apologize if I have ever disparaged marriage. I did not do it on purpose. The unpleasantness of 2005 and 2006 are a long time ago and that verbiage denotes anger and hurt. I have neither. I don’t have any immediate plans to remarry. But, I think it is probably time to retire certain phrases that give the impression that only the threat of physical violence would force me to make such a commitment.
My friend and client, Ron (name changed) and I met for coffee a few days ago. The late morning crowd at the Chagrin Road Starbucks paid no attention to two middle aged businessmen. Good. The conversation was serious and private.
Ron, a small business owner, has an open secret. He is gay. He has been with his partner, Stanley, for almost fifteen years. They have a lovely home in Lake County. They have created a nice life with good friends. More accurately, half a life. Ron has never brought Stanley to the office, even for the annual company party. Since he has never acknowledged his sexuality or Stanley, Ron thinks he is fooling his employees. He is not.
This is Ron’s decision, not mine. But when asked I told him to hide in plain sight. His non-secret is a problem because he has made it a problem. His employees know or suspect whatever there is to know. The only power in his secret is that it is a secret. The only shame, if any, his. Would his employees quit? Work less? Respect him less? Of course not.
So we’ve come full circle. I promise to choose my words about marriage with the same care as I show when pairing a shirt and tie. I will still listen intently. And, I will continue to hide in plain sight.
The attorney moved. Yes, the attorney has a name, but I think that I lived here for a year before I knew it or that we had really talked. His acquisition of a dog forced him to be more social. I have no pets.
I moved into my apartment in April of 2006. I was still engaged in an unnecessarily messy divorce, trying to sell my house in Shaker, and preparing for two weeks in Australia. Did I mention that I moved in the day before Passover? Lots and lots of stress. I didn’t have the time for anyone else’s drama.
I wasn’t mean or rude. I acknowledged people I passed in the hallway or saw on the elevator with a nod or a smile. I spoke when spoken to. I didn’t initiate any conversations. I wanted to be left alone.
I was accosted by the elderly couple from across the hall. I had lived in the Hamptons for about two months.
What’s your name?
Are you Catholic?
No, I’m Jewish.
You can’t be Jewish. You aren’t friendly enough to be Jewish!
I checked my doorpost – Mezuzah. His – none. I guess his previous Jewish neighbors had brought him cookies. I don’t know. He and his wife were gone soon enough and the unit has had three different tenants since. I’ve yet to deliver cookies to any of them.
The confrontation got me thinking. Do I have a social responsibility to befriend every tenant passing through this floor? What about the blond who hasn’t discovered the dryer’s lint filter? How about the yahoo who doesn’t take the shopping carts back to the basement? I would like to pick and choose where and when I relinquish my last bit of privacy.
The attorney was a mutual choice. We talked. We went to a couple of ballgames. We occasionally hung out. And now he is moving. He purchased a nearby condo. He is hoping for a fresh start and equity, two things a new residence could provide.
Four years here. Four buildings. Number of people living here that I know well – less than four. This is not a complaint. It is probably more of a subconscious than an intentional choice. I prefer my home to be peaceful. I feel compelled, at times, to eliminate disruptions.
Define disruptions? An infant in the whirlpool? That’s a disruption. A teenager arguing with his girlfriend? That’s a disruption. Someone leaving clothes in the washer or dryer for an hour or two? Crap, I’ve become Mr. Wilson.
Oh well. The attorney is only moving down the street. I will eventually talk to a couple more residents. Hell, I may even bake cookies.
You have welcomed us at a most auspicious time.
Your stride is long, your steps are slow.
Your arms swing, sometimes wildly, as you move.
We share your pain of Yushu.
There are no more Emperors, yet you have many dragons.
Teach them to be respected instead of feared.
You have millions to command.
China welcomed another group of American businesspeople. The price was too good to pass up. So I didn’t. They flew us on Air China. They showed us four cities, the Great Wall, palaces, and a Buddhist Temple. We saw what they wanted us to see including factories and factory stores. Jade. Pearls. Cloisonné. Silk. Silk Rugs. We were expected to Ooh and Aw and spend lots of money. We did. We were also expected to become China’s best salesmen, ready to deliver glowing generalities. I am happy to cooperate:
The Great Wall is amazing.
The gardens of Suzhou are beautifull
The food was fine, the people friendly.
Beth Bryan was ticked because they didn’t take me to the new dam project where so many people have been displaced. Well of course they didn’t. The Chinese showed us what they wanted us to see. Besides, most of my readers live in Cuyahoga County. All governments displace people.
I took close to 500 pictures. Some will be posted on this blog and some will appear on Facebook. You will have to come to my office to be bored with all of them. I brought back silk, jade, and other souvenirs. I strongly recommend this trip for everyone.
This past Sunday’s Plain Dealer included three articles that originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press while I was gone. Travel editor, Ellen Creager took a similar trip. She went to the same places and saw most of the same sites. Feel free to check out her travelogue. My focus is slightly different.
There are 9,999 rooms in the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was a palace right in Beijing, the northern capital. 9,999. Why? 9 is a royal number. I guess 99,999 would have seemed excessive.
The Emperors had unlimited wealth, manpower, and land. The Forbidden City, a maze of spectacular architecture and huge open squares, is filled with the efforts of others, the unthanked Chinese who slaved for rulers whose greed knew no bounds. Silk. Pottery. Impressive sculptures. What did I enjoy of my couple of hours within the walled city? I loved watching the faces of the Chinese tourists and children surveying the accomplishments of their ancestors, the people who constructed these buildings and laid the bricks in those squares.
The Summer Palace is only a few miles away. Located on Kumming Lake, the Summer Palace was esthetically more pleasing with its ornate Long Corridor and traditional gardens. We were treated to stories of handmaidens collecting dew, eunuchs, and all of the other trappings of uncontrolled wealth and greed. It was raining that day. The sea of Chinese with their brightly colored umbrellas overwhelmed us. We saw pretty buildings. They saw their history. What was simply ornate and colorful to us had a deep meaning and purpose to them. Did they see the results of centuries of exploitation or the skill of their ancestors who toiled in hardship? My guess is both.
I mention the Chinese because they made the trip worthwhile. About twelve years ago I visited the ancient city of Tulum just south of Cancun. There were cool buildings that reflected an advanced culture. I marveled at their construction. We could only guess as to what life had been like 800, 900 years ago in the place we were standing. But we were visitors. We had no ownership. Our guides could only guess. My trip to China was completely different and that much more special.
My friend Donna Miller, the woman responsible for the excellent blog Read Any Good Books Lately, was concerned. She thought that I might be getting bored. Beth Bryan felt that mentioning her birthday, April 12th, would improve both this blog and my disposition. My guess is that I am simply frustrated and disillusioned.
I would like to think the best of people. Yes, Ambrose Bierce is one of my favorite authors and I always have two of his books in my briefcase, but I really am, at my core, optimistic. Damn near Pollyannaish. That is proving to be more difficult. No matter how many times I lower my expectations, our leaders still fail to deliver. I am not Catholic, so I am only aware, but unaffected, by all of those issues. I am thinking about our political leaders and that seems to be all that I can handle.
My frustration has been building for thirteen years. It began with the bloodless coup d’état the Republicans staged in 1998. I can’t tell you which bothered me more, the incredible hypocrisy or the naked power grab.
The Clinton impeachment gave us the Bush presidency. Eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney did nothing to restore my faith and confidence in our government. We are still learning the full extent of their incompetence, their avarice, and their total disregard for the rule of law.
The last year or so have not been much better. Different, but not better. Democrats. Republicans. Not much to choose from. Certainly no heroes. I have been involved in politics and government, on the local, state and federal level, since 1972. I’ve met and talked with senators, presidents, and world leaders. Our current group doesn’t measure up. And I am frustrated.
I was at Moxie’s yesterday evening for the annual Shoes and Clothes for Kids fundraiser, Fool’s Frolic. My friend Seth Briskin of Meyers Roman is on the host committee of this terrific event. Of course, how hard is it to throw a great party when you’ve got wonderful food, an open bar, and some of this area’s most interesting people in the room. I was having a good time even before I met Mamie and Mark.
Mamie J. Mitchell is the Councilwoman for Cleveland’s Ward 6. Mark A. Schneider is the State Representative for District 63 which includes Mentor and the surrounding communities. My conversations with the two of them left me with the feeling that all is not lost. Do me a favor, if you are aware of any information that would prove that these two people are no better intentioned than all of the other politicians I’ve encountered lately, keep it to yourself for a couple of days. I don’t need to be disappointed today.
Mamie Mitchell is deeply connected to Ward 6. She speaks as positively about the new Juvenile Justice Center at 93rd and Quincy as she does about the trendy shops and restaurants of Larchmere. She was a manager for BP before she went to law school. I appreciate how she has managed her life and has sought to control her own destiny. It is that toughness that she brings to her current job. We agreed on some issues affecting her community. We agreed on some political issues. But not all, and I was happy to listen to her views on all of these subjects.
Mark Schneider has a real sense of what works and what doesn’t. Ten minutes with him convinced me that there are practical, realistic people in our government. We spent most of the time discussing a topic of mutual interest, business incubators and the point where private and public interests intersect. He has been a Cuyahoga County prosecutor and is now affiliated with a Lake County firm where he practices probate and estate planning law. I think he has a terrific future.
No, I don’t think either of these people are our next president or even senator. That isn’t the point. We need a government. We need qualified leaders, people with both the moral and intellectual capacity to lead effectively. We should celebrate those moments when we encounter those politicians. It is the rarity of the moment that makes it so unusual. It is our need for more such moments that makes this so important.
I was three pages into this blog (long hand!) when I realized how much I hated this post. I was writing for my other blog, Health Insurance Issues With Dave, but I was tired of facts and statistics. No one wanted to read one more well researched lecture that poked holes in the preconceived notions of Congressmen from both sides of the aisle. It didn’t matter. And the truth is that I found the whole exercise depressing. I tore it up.
It was 10:26 PM, moments before the big vote. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was still talking. Minority Leader John Boehner was the next to the last to speak. As an act of both patriotism and masochism, I had listened to and watched much of the last 10 hours of process and debate. I was on overload.
The Republicans, who adamantly refused to participate, bemoaned the fact that the bill wasn’t a bipartisan effort. The Democrats trotted out a collection of fairy tales and hyperbole that surprised and sickened me. It wasn’t frustrating to be a Democrat. It was frustrating to be an American. It had been that kind of day.
My day began with coffee at the Panera in Solon with two Republicans. Phil is in the army reserve. His issues tend to be centered around military defense and taxation. My friend David, a borderline Libertarian, delights in noting the foibles and failures of every Democrat. If you had overheard our conversation, you might have thought that I was Nancy Pelosi’s neighbor and Eric Massa’s oldest friend. I, in turn, asked David about his good buddy John Ensign. It was all good natured fun until we got to the health care bill.
It isn’t an act. There are a lot of people who really fear President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. They are afraid that our country is going down an irreversible path to ruin. Don’t ridicule them. It isn’t right. How many of us felt the same way about the last administration?
It was easy to mock George W. Bush. I still have my copy of Shrub. It was easy, but it wasn’t productive, unless you consider feeding the base your goal. It was hard to fear W. Dick Chaney? That was a different story. But W, with his broken English and aw shucks mannerisms, was too easy to dismiss. Obama is an entirely different story. Where many of us may have underestimated Bush, the Republicans have overestimated his influence. They built him up so high that he actually succeeded just by showing up. Think about this. After months of benign neglect, Obama got his bill passed this week with a minimum of arm-twisting and an executive order on abortion funding that is more about good faith than law. He couldn’t have done this without the Republicans unwitting help.
My Republican friends, sensing my frustration, have sent engraved invitations to join their party. I can’t. The other side doesn’t look any better.
My problem is that I really do appreciate facts. Any semblance between the vast savings this new health care bill will yield and the WMD in Iraq is strictly coincidental. I’m tired of 1 + 1 = 7. I’m tired of the disingenuous stories told to motivate us to move in directions we, as a country, should not go. I’m tired of the lies. And I’m frustrated with myself that I keep hoping for better from people who can not, and will not, deliver.
This isn’t a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. It is an American issue. We were sold two wars on the cheap. We are being told that we can increase the number of people covered and the type of health care coverage we are all getting, and that it will save us money. NO IT WON’T. And I don’t care, at least not about the money. I care about the lies.
Tell us the truth. We can handle it. At the very least, we can learn to handle the truth. We are going to have to. The US is becoming the confused bank customer, facing a barrage of bounced checks, dumbfounded because there are still checks in our checkbook. How can we be out of money? We still have checks. We refuse to grow up. We have expressed little interest in becoming adults, responsible for our spending.
And so I find myself lost again in the middle, a political orphan, homeless and alone. I am certainly not well represented by my current Congressional delegation. Our state budget, though nowhere near as bad as some, is less than a year away from a major shortfall. I would be hard pressed to name ten politicians I truly admire and respect.
So my question is, “am I truly alone, or are you, too, spitting in the wind?”
We have had intermittent power outages since noon. Seconds with no power, just long enough to close all of the computers. Jeff and I had electricity for the last several hours, the support staff and printers did not. We have been evacuated once. The alarms have sounded twice. At four we were advised that the building would go dark in a half an hour.
C.E.I. may have been unable to fix the problem in four hours, but they didn’t need thirty minutes to shut us down. No lights. No phones. No computer. 4:15.
The frustration and futility of a power outage is not limited to any particular generation. My daughter in her late twenties is as negatively impacted as my mother (who is still 22, just ask her).
Not all frustrations are equally shared or even understood. Take the telephone. Everyone has a cell phone. Everyone is accessible 24/7. In a meeting? In church? No problem. There is always texting. I grew up in a different era, a time when powerless and frustrated was the way we felt as we tried to reach someone by phone.
Hello. How are you?
Have you been alright, through all those lonely nights?
That’s what I’d say. I’d tell you everything,
If you’d pick up that telephone.
High School early 70’s
Some of us were lucky. We had a telephone in our bedroom. The richest or most spoiled had their own phone line. Not having to fight your mom for the phone was a big deal. There were no answering machines, just the parents and siblings of the girl you were trying to reach. Message delivery was spotty, at best.
And yes, it was a girl you were trying to call. In the early 70’s, girls didn’t call boys, at least not for dates. We called. And the phone rang. Sometimes the girl answered. Sometimes no one answered. The phone rang and rang. How long should I wait? Ten rings was deemed appropriate. Sometimes someone else answered the telephone. Was she home? What if she was home, but didn’t want to talk to me?
But mostly it just rang.
Operator, let’s forget about this call
You see there’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time, ah, you’ve been so much more than kind
And you can keep the dime.
The power is on at home. Leaving work early isn’t the end of the world. I think I’ll just sit in my recliner and call a couple of friends.