Hurray for Bipartisanship

On Wednesday, September 27, the Congress of the United States displayed a fervent, unanimous welcome to Representative Scalise of Louisiana. Congressman Scalise has recovered from a near death shooting, and entered the hallowed halls to 20 minutes of a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle – the no man’s land of our government.

Several weeks prior, Senator John McCain returned to the Senate after undergoing surgery and radiation treatment for a stage 4, brain cancer. As the Senator entered the capital building, the entire congress regardless of party affiliation applauded and cheered the Senators return.

It is clear that when one of their brethren is ill, the members of Congress can join hands in sincere brotherhood. Many of them teared on each occasion. It appears that the illness must have a terminal quality. No one gets cheers for the flu, or gout. The enthusiasm is reserved for that congressman who almost die, or at least face imminent death. Under those dire circumstances, bipartisanship reigns supreme.

When millions of civilians are faced with severe illness, terminal disease or possible medical intervention, health care rests in the congressional no man’s land. The proverbial aisle is inviolate.

Tom Golden, Ph.D,
Writer’s Cramp, 2017

Out of Sight – Out of Mind

March 22, 2013

Letters to Editor
New York Times
New York, New York

In Newton, Connecticut, five and ten year old children were shot not once, but multiple times with a .223 caliber bullet.

“When the Bushmaster .223 Caliber Assault Rifle hit human targets it tumbled forward into tissue and shattered creating large, internal wounds… Another “nice touch” was that the bullet would sometimes ricochet off bone and bounce around inside the body, shattering into tiny hard-to-remove fragments (which promoted internal bleeding) and ripping sizable hunks of internal tissue away. A human being can die a slow and horrible death from internal bleeding.” (copy from Blowback.223byDaleSteinreich www.lewrockwell.com/orig/steinreich6)

Dare to imagine the consequences of such an attack on the body of a child. The children were massacred, mutilated and not simply killed. Dare to stay with such images and contrast such imagery with the concerns of protecting gun ownership, second amendment rights and yes, a “well regulated Militia”.

 

Human Sexuality

 

Affection – a little goes a long way.

Adolescent sexual behavior – they never knew what hit them.

Age and potency – the best soup in the old pot.

Alcohol affects – from excitement to sleep.

Androgens – not from outer space.

Anxiety – it can be deadly.

Aphrodisiacs – always the short one.

Arousal – you gotta get up.

Birth – the beginning.

Bisexuality – unusual, but true.

Breast – is that singular or plural?

Castration – anxiety or not, it hurts.

Censorship – G, PG, R, X, or XX, or XXX, or Fourex.

Circumcision – you can’t tell a book by its cover.

Clitoris – the equalizer.

Coitus – intercourse by any other name.

Contraception – but it’s not the same.

Depression – Pre. – Post and during.

Dildos – the age of technology.

Dreams – the best sex of all.

Drugs – uppers and downers.

Ejaculation – pre-mature – God forbid!

Erections – but not by Gilbert.

Erogenous zones – no standing/no parking.

Estrogens – both girls and boys.

Exhibitions – Coney Island on a Sunday afternoon.

Extramarital sex – it’s like extra cheese on a pizza.

Fantasy – no, no you can’t take that away from me.

Frigidity – it’s all your fault.

Fetishism – keep it private or you’re in trouble.

Foreplay – enough already.

Genitals – they are good, but they are not everything.

Gonorrhea – a birth control.

Homosexuality – live and let live.

Impotence – it shouldn’t happen to a dog.

Infantile sexuality – it doesn’t cause retardation.

Kissing – never underestimate its power.

Libido – if you run short, can you buy it?

Love – a grave metal disease (PLATO).

Marriage – to love, cherish and to obey.

Masturbation – a blessing or a curse.

Menopause – facts and fictions.

Morality – does it have any place in sex?

Nocturnal emissions – who does the laundry?

Obesity – searching for a definition.

Oedipal conflict – a Freudian nightmare.

Orgasm – Nirvana or bust.

Ovaries – one of the parts.

Penis – what’s wrong with the word pecker?

Petting – man’s best friend.

Polygamy – Salt Lake City, here I come!

Pornography – the pen is mightier than the sword.

Prostitution – red light – green light – who cares?

Puberty – the beginning of the end.

Pubic hair – sign of things to come.

Religion and sex – Sodom and Rasputin.

Self-esteem – please be kind.

Sex education – at home, in school, or in the street.

Syria – What Can We Do?

 

What can we do about Syria? We can allow an increase in the numbers of Syrian refugees into the United States. In 2016, 12,486 Syrian refugees entered the United States. If all 50 states accepted refugees from Syria, that would be just 250 persons per state. A modest proposal. I would suggest that we increase the state amount to 500 in the year 2017. Increase that to 1000 Syrian refugees per state for every following year. For the fearful, we will investigate each refugee to be certain that we have not allowed “bad guys” into the country. As of this memo, there has not been one case of a Syrian refugee committing a terrorist act in 2017.

With such a civil refugee policy in place, we can sit back and finally feel good.

 

 

Target Practice Revisited

For many years, the traditional target used by the military for practice has been a series of concentric circles. In the center a “bull’s eye”. For police training, the typical target used at indoor and outdoor gun ranges has been a full body form. Sometimes a head, and /or a torso.

In an attempt to lessen the deadly results of police shootings, I would suggest that the police adopt a target that contains just arms and legs. Specifically, the arms would begin just at the shoulder and extend to the fingertips of both arms. As for the legs, the targets would begin at the top of the thigh and extend to the tips of the toes. After sufficient practice, a trained police officer would automatically shoot not to kill, but to maim- wound in the extremities.

The culprit would certainly be hurt, perhaps not fall, but several other bullets on the arms and legs should disable any person. The revised targets would allow relatives on both sides of the gun to sleep more comfortably, knowing that the ‘perb’ is not dead, and the police officer is not a murderer.

Racism at Six

 

The boy touched everything within his reach. The cash register, the combs, the hair brushes, the hair sprays, a blow dryer and the bowl of Christmas candies. Since he was behind the counter, I assumed that he was the son of the salon owner. The space behind the counter was cramped with both the child and the beautician getting in each other’s way.

The beautician said nothing to the child as she made change of my twenty-dollar bill while silently suffering the child’s body blocks, and hand thrusts. She was blushing. She seemed embarrassed. She smiled at the boy, and at me while reaching over his body to hand me my change.

I had just had my monthly haircut. While getting my haircut, the woman told me that she recently immigrated from Russia. Her English was limited. Perhaps that was why she said nothing to the child. Clearly she was not of Cossack descent, or she would had closed the register on the boy’s puffy little fingers, as he reached for the dollar bills. I was poised to make a corrective comment to the child, when a woman emerged from a near-by cubicle.

“Joshua, what are you doing?”, she said, while gently primping her newly blown coiffure.

“Oh nothin”, he replied, as he grabbed another handful of M & M’s and mashed them into his dark chocolate cavern called a mouth.

The woman was attractively dressed. Her leather jacket had a mink collar. She wore designer jeans, Nike sneakers, and a grey Tenafly Athletic Department sweatshirt. Her nails were new and artfully designed, although needing pruning. Her hair was painfully teased, and her nose was surgically bobbed. As she approached the candy cane kid, he declared,

“I don’t like dark hair. Your hair is dark.”

“Yes”, she said, with seeming indifference to his comment.

“But mom, your hair is too dark, I don’t like it.”
I wondered if he would get some punitive action.

“Joshua, my hair is dark brown. It is always dark. “  She didn’t show the slightest bit of annoyance.
“Mom, only Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair. I don’t like it.” His voice was firm and strident. In the best of all parental worlds he would have gone through a wall. The wall was untouched.

The mother turned toward him, although she appeared to look through him toward the mirror on the wall behind her son. Perhaps she was assessing the hair color, and its possible ethnic roots. She then looked at the cashier, and then at her walled, her money, the change, and casually she walked to the door of the salon. Following behind, her son pleased, “but mom, only the Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair.”

He looked to be six years old.

Signs of Danger Missed – Again

 

Monday, February 27, 2012 , T.J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol to Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. He killed three students and wounded two other students.  Why? What motive? Who knew something that day, or days before, or months and years before that deadly day? What were the signs of danger? Perhaps an abusive home life, a psychopath, a loner, friendless, bullied and dozens of other possibilities. The events of that Monday remind one of the Red Lake Massacre in March, 2005. Jeffrey Weise, age 16, killed 10, and wounded 7.

At Red Lake Minnesota,  2005 , a 16 year old kills five students, a security guard, a teacher, his grandfather, the grandfather’s companion, wounded seven others, and then he commits suicide. We all are stunned by the violence of his actions, and once again we ask how come we missed the danger signs. In fact, the danger signs were not missed at all, but rather many foreboding events were clearly noted by various persons, including peers, authorities, educators, and family members. The following are some of the danger signs reported after the horror.

The child’s stepaunt stated that the school or authorities could see the event coming in that,”the clues were all there….but did they not put two and two together? This kid was crying out, and those guys chose to ignore it…”

The high school principal, “…felt like this was a troubled young man, and someone whose problems we felt like we were addressing.”

Internet pen pals reported that they missed warning signs including a gory zombie, Columbine references, a killer who committed suicide, and his statement that he might disappear unexpectedly. On various internet postings, the child used German words translated to mean: forsaken, abandoned, death’s head, and skull. He reported taking anti-depressants, seeing a therapist, and he had new cuts on his wrists. He stated, “The law of existence requires uninterrupted killing…So that the better may live.”

During the prior school year the child claimed to have been accused of threatening to “shoot up” the school. The school principal declined to confirm such an event.

An internet administrator reported that the child wrote that his mother physically and verbally abused him. He wrote an internet story depicting a character dressed all in black, a teacher with a Hitleresque moustache, and references to the Columbine shootings.

Another adult resident of the community, and cousin of one of the victims stated, “There were a lot of signs of real trouble…and he had said last year that he was to kill himself. But somehow I was never scared of him. I don’t know why not. He never really showed that it could be directed this way.”

Fellow students saw his drawings of people with bullet holes in their heads, half-living people with blank stares and skeletons. “He was different, you could say, out of place around here.”

The likelihood is that as the investigation unfolds there will be other ‘signs’ of danger that will be revealed.  Other recollections by friends, family and information retrieved from his computer will torment us as to the possibility that the killings could have been avoided. Dr. Katherine S. Newman of Princeton University suggests that, “it is exceedingly difficult to see these kids coming, to put it together and see the pattern.”

Putting it together from such disparate, non-communicative sources is not only difficult, but often impossible. Only after the fact are we sometimes able to comprehend the behavior of a child so pathetically disturbed. How and when would the various reporters encounter one another, and share their information? What is the likelihood of informed collaboration between a website administrator, internet pen pals, a school principal, a stepaunt, community residents, and therapist? How much, if any, information could have been gleaned from the Grandfather and his companion? Why were they killed? What was happening in his Grandfather’s home?

Everyday we read of killings, by children, adults, men and women.  We are often left to wonder why the deaths couldn’t be predicted and hence avoided. Observations of children’s behavior are often disturbing, yet frequently ignored by peers, and adults alike. Reports of aberrant behavior are often kept privileged by educators, therapists, and other authorities. Acting-out and delinquent acts are seen as typical of a certain age, or sub-culture. Earnest reports are too frequently seen as over-reactions by the reporter. Peers are usually very indulgent of their mate’s bizarre actions, and they will keep the information from their parents, or other authority figures. Keeping secrets is a seen as a virtue amongst many youths.

Jeff Weise, the 16 years old, and T.J. Lane, the 17 year old knew all the facts. Jeff, and T.J.  bore all the tormented feelings. Only Jeff and T.J. lived with all the signs of danger. We owe them and their victims the resolve to speak out, to insist upon being heard, to resist our fears of retribution, to trust and to share our insights and best guesses, to act with a sense of urgency, to require responses to our queries, and to even violate the privileges of privacy when we believe that our actions will protect another’s well being. We can no longer view our children as personal property. We must as a society appreciate the communal responsibility for our children. The signs of danger must be seen, not as troublesome signals, but rather as clear evidence of crisis, peril and vulnerability.