Monday, May 17, 2021

I'm Back


To the few who have been following this blog but have almost given up, please know that I was diagnosed with a large sarcoma in my abdomen in February 2020. My oncologist at M. D. Anderson in Houston immediately put me on chemotherapy, which I received in Jackson from a local oncologist.

The first treatment consisted of GEMcitabine and DOCEtaxel. They corrupted my sense of taste and made nearly all food inedible, so I lost considerable weight. They also caused my hair to fall out, made me feel bad, and had no effect on the tumor.

In July, the doctors at M. D. Anderson switched me to DOXOrubicin, an older treatment with a reputation for making patients sick. They nicknamed it “Red Devil” after its red color. For me, it was an improvement. My hair came back, and I started to eat a wider variety of dishes. I also began to feel better. While the DOXOrubicin didn’t shrink the tumor, it stopped it from growing any further.

On March 9, I underwent abdominal surgery, which was a complete success. The tumor had attached itself to my body in only two places, and the surgeon removed it with little difficulty. The reconstruction surgeon took longer than the cancer surgeon to repair my abdominal wall.

To my surprise, the doctors discharged me the following Wednesday, the 17th. In my previous surgery (2013), I stayed in the hospital for nearly five weeks.

Because of the pandemic, the hospital forbade visitors, so my wife stayed in Jackson. Until this stay in Houston, I had not realized how much I needed companionship while staying in a hospital room. The nurses and doctors were in the room frequently, but they were no substitute for a friend or loved one. They were friendly, but they had their work to do and little time to socialize. I was lonely.

I’ve been recovering from the surgery, but until now, I haven’t felt like writing.

So much has happened since the presidential election that I haven’t mentioned. Catching up will be impossible. I have some comments concerning the insurrection on January 6 at the U. S. Capitol that will appear on this blog in a few days. The current amnesia now being exhibited by numerous Republicans attempting to downplay the seriousness of that attack will also be the subject of another article. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Crazy, Stupid, or Just Plain Dishonest?

Ron Johnson, U. S. Senator from Wisconsin, has gone on national TV advancing the crackpot theory that the mob attacking the U. S. Capitol on January 6 was a false flag operation. The attackers, according to Johnson, were left-wing agitators impersonating Trump supporters. He spouted this idiocy in the full knowledge that the rioters had posted photos, selfies, and videos of themselves to social media accompanied by their boasting.

Even without the evidence just cited, why would left-wingers attempt to stop the inauguration of their chosen candidate, Joe Biden, who indisputably won the November election? The whole idea is preposterous.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Pence’s Faustian Bargain

Editorial Preview

I just finished reading a sympathetic article in The Guardian by Sydney Blumenthal on former vice president Mike Pence.

Rejected by the Trumpist part of the Republican party, with no political future, I suspect that Pence is finally being forced to deal with the Faustian bargain he entered into a little over four years ago. While I don’t expect him to have read Goethe’s Faust, I believe he may now be getting an inkling of what it means to make a deal with the Devil.

Pence, from his newsletters as US representative and his behavior as vice president, doesn’t seem to be a reflective person. In fact, he comes across as an inflexible religious fundamentalist, incapable of deep reflection. There is little room for reflection when you already know the absolute truth.

If I knew his mailing address, I would send him a copy of Faust as a gift, with the suggestion that he read Part 1 at a minimum, because it explores the meaning of a Faustian bargain and its usual infernal outcome. If he cannot see himself in light of Goethe’s hero, he is hopeless.

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Disheartening Process, Beginning With Ronald Reagan

Since 1981-01-20 when Ronald Reagan became president, subsequent administrations and legislatures have implemented neoliberal policies. In doing so, they have prepared the ground for Donald Trump to sow dragons’ teeth. All this time, the power elite has been promising the American people that their economic distress and the growth of inequality would eventually work for the benefit of everyone. They lied. Their promise of shared prosperity was a cynical ploy to persuade the average person to go along with policies that made wealth flow upward. Anyone who makes a cursory examination of the US Census  records will see inequality rising from Reagan’s first year in office.

Observing this process has been disheartening. It could only result in economic, social, environmental, and political disaster. The only surprise is that all four are happening simultaneously: recession, the disintegration of society, global warming, and a government captured by an irresponsible and short-sighted oligarchy.

I wager that President Joe Biden, an elderly politician with the best of intentions, will attempt to enact economic reforms, but because of his lack of insight, imagination, economic expertise, and political support, will fail to turn the ship of state out of its present course toward disaster.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Dumbest Statement I’ve Seen Today

“Weather forecasters tell us that the temperature [in Georgia] will be right around 32 degrees Fahrenheit when polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday for a final day of voting in two U.S. Senate runoffs. Even so, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger wants you to know that anyone who offers a cup of hot chocolate to any voter standing in line – and any voter who partakes of said cup of warmth – could be guilty of a felony under Georgia law.

—From Pressing Issues 12/31/2020

Suppose somebody sets up a stand outside the “forbidden” perimeter with hot coffee & hot chocolate and a sign reading “IT IS FORBIDDEN TO STEAL THIS COFFEE OR HOT CHOCOLATE” 


Monday, November 9, 2020

Thoughts on Biden, now that he has been elected president

Joe Biden has won the election for president. It will be a narrower margin, however, than the polls originally predicted, to the embarrassment of the pollsters. I lay much of Biden’s underperformance at the feet of the Democratic Party leadership, but that is a subject for another time.

Beyond advanced age, however, Biden has several weaknesses. But as things now stand, there was simply no choice for the knowledgeable and intelligent voter. Another four years of Trump would have brought about the end of the American experiment. Throughout our history, powerful plutocratic forces have attacked our democratic-republican political system over and over. Fortunately, this nation has proved time and again that it can meet the challenges with courage, determination, and luck.

The elevation of Donald Trump to the presidency was only the latest of these attempts by those same forces to turn a democratic republic into an authoritarian state, ruled by the wealthy and powerful.

Joe Biden poses a danger to the republic of a more subtle nature. He is unquestionably a good man, but like all humankind, he is flawed. Some colossal errors of judgment have marked his political career. These errors are a clue to help us predict how President Biden will run his presidency.

When Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act[1], a corrupt and injurious law that benefitted the credit card industry and creditors in general, I vowed never to vote for him under any circumstances. Then I turned around and voted for the Obama/Biden ticket twice. I voted for him again this year, a textbook example of being forced to choose a lesser evil. It is an excellent practice to refrain from making rash vows. Who can foretell the future?[2]

But I digress.