Sunday, October 2, 2022

Unspeakable

 

The other day a friend of mine posted a report on the world’s largest social media platform regarding newspapers cancelling the Dilbert comic strip.  The issue has become somewhat controversial. (Was Dilbert 'Cancelled' as Comic Creator Scott Adams Suggests? (newsweek.com).   

 

Was Dilbert, in fact, too politically incorrect?  Did Scott Adams, Dilbert's creator just in end up on the “wrong side” of the political divide in this country?  These are good questions.  But in all fairness, newspaper comics have been dying for a long time and newspapers are cutting back on that space.  So maybe Dilbert is just one of many…or maybe not. 

 

 I simply responded to his post with an old quote from Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda: “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play”.  I credited the quote to Goebbels for context.  This prominent social media platform promptly took it down and notified me that I was banned from making comments or posts for thirty days.  Interesting.

 

I guess I got a digital time.  But this action simply confirms the very issue in question.  If I had made some sort of “Woke” endorsed comment about Dilbert being canceled,  I am confident there would have been no backlash. But even the hint that perhaps our government, directly or indirectly, is influencing what we read, hear, write or speak is somehow forbidden.  And having the audacity to connect such practices to those of the Nazi’s is just a line you do not cross.  Nazi is the other N word these days…unless, of course, it happens to be The View using it to describe a white gun owner.  History is only relevant if it can be used to support certain agendas. Otherwise, it’s off limits.

 

And just to put a fine point on it; you may have missed this story if you only follow mainstream media, but it’s a very real and very scary example of what’s going on these days:  Groundswell of Support for Mark Houck, Catholic Father of 7 Arrested in FBI Raid| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com).  

 

Once upon a time I could not have imagined federal agents showing up at a citizen’s front door to haul him off for purely political purposes.  But it’s happening these days. This is McCarthyism on steroids. Be warned, it’s not a big leap from social media cancellation to things like this….or much worse.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

A Change of Plans

 

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish adage meaning “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”  Although I’m not Jewish, that has become a favorite saying of mine.  I have learned over the years that a lot of things do not work out the way I expect, even when I make great efforts to plan and prepare.  And while I remain a pessimist by nature, I still live with this illusion that if I plan well enough and prepare as much as possible, the outcome will be positive.  But Forest Gump was correct when he observed that life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.  I have experienced this more than a few times in my life.  Believe me, that lesson has been learned. But apparently God decided that I needed a refresher course.

 

In January 2020 my wife and I planned a trip to Italy.  Our plan was to travel in late September and spend two weeks in Italy.  We had everything lined up to the last detail.  And then there was Covid. That shut everything down.  We thought, well maybe 2021.  But Covid still had the world tied up in knots.  So, we looked to 2022.  With over two years of planning and research we had the perfect trip planned. Not that I didn’t have concerns. I always have concerns.  I worried about our flights, the weather, were our accommodations going to be as good as advertised and worth the money?  Would the tours we had booked be worth our time (and money)?   Still with two weeks left before our departure everything seemed to be in order.  We had covered all the bases.  What could go wrong? 

 

Off and on throughout my life I have had the occasional back ache.  But nothing major.  In fact, I’ve been blessed with good health and have been able to stay fit.  But in recent years the back aches have come and gone more frequently.  Early in the summer I’d noticed some of that pain radiating in my right hip.  Just to be safe I went to the doctor.  No big deal, no arthritis, just very tight muscles in my hips and thighs.  He prescribed some physical therapy and after a few weeks all seemed to be well and getting better.  

 

And then the unexpected.  Two weeks before we were to leave, the hip pain returned.  So, I ramped up my stretching program along with continuing my normal exercises of walking, using the elliptical machine and strength training.  But the pain just got worse spreading from my hip into my thigh and my calf.  Five days before departure I could barely walk. 

 

So, we ended up back at the doctor. This time he x-rayed my back.  The results were not good.  

“Mr. Click your lower lumber spine appears to be the source of the problem. The pain in your hip, thigh and calf are from nerves in that area.  It would be a very bad idea for you to take that trip to Italy.  In fact, I am advising you to just rest and do as little as possible for now.  We will schedule you to see our back specialist.  In the meantime, let’s get an MRI.  He will want those results when he sees you.  Here’s a prescription for pain and a muscle relaxer.  Go home.”

 

Ok God, I get it.  Haven’t I had this lesson often enough?  My plans and your laughter.  I know there are things I cannot control.  But who or what is in control of something like this?  As a Christian, I know that you are ultimately in control.  You are the Creator and I am one of your creations.  But why this, why now?  If you want me to go through back surgery or whatever this turns out to be, couldn’t you have scheduled it for some other time?  Is this just all part of us living in a fallen, broken world?  Or am I the victim of some Job-like wager made in the heavens?  Given that Job was much more righteous than I am, that could not have been an even bet.   Was it pride that motivated me to push myself too hard for too long over too many years?  Did I ignore the warning signs?  Is this going to be a lesson in humility?  Is it time to just accept that I am getting old and this body is wearing out?  

 

And God you know that I have prayed for patience.  Is this how you want me to learn it? I have no choice now.  I must wait for doctors and wait for tests and wait for a diagnosis.  And then more waiting for treatment, possibly surgery.   If surgery is required, then wait through a long recovery period for an uncertain outcome.  So, I must learn patience…and hopefully find some peace along the way.

 

God, are you telling me to listen more to you and less to myself and others?  That I tend to pursue the things I want to pursue and then ask you to bless them?  Maybe you are telling me that I’ve had things backwards. When I pray: “Thy Kingdom come… Thy Will be done… On Earth …As it is in Heaven”; that doesn’t mean the wind will always be at my back and the lights are always green.  Perhaps it really means Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven according to your purposes and your plans, not mine.  Not my will, but yours be done. 

 

God has a way of getting our attention one way or the other. I may wish that he had chosen another way of getting mine, but I can only trust that He knows best.  And God is not laughing at me.  He is just loving me...and for that I am most thankful.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55: 8-9






Thursday, August 25, 2022

The First Spoiled Generation

 



I am part of the Baby Boomer Generation.  The children of the Greatest Generation.  The Baby Boomers grew up during what has been called the Golden Age of America.  After The Depression and World War II, America emerged as the dominant world power.  The 50s and 60s were times of progress, prosperity and promise; certainly for white folks at any rate.  We stopped briefly to protest in the late 60’s.  The 70’s were a bit of a rough patch.  But then we caught the next big wave of the 80’s and 90’s.  And many of us ended up living very well….still do.

So what’s wrong with that?  Maybe nothing or maybe everything.  But what is clear is that we Baby Boomers were the First Spoiled Generation.  And that has had enormous consequences for this nation.   Our children became the First Generation begat by Spoiled Parents.  That circle of indulgence and entitlement, once begun, remains unbroken and grows ever wider.  What we are experiencing in 2022 goes back to that First Spoiled Generation of Baby Boomers.

It's interesting to watch Baby Boomers try and find the reset button.  We think if we can sound and act like our parents and grandparents, then maybe it’s not too late to set things right.  Once upon a time Billy Joel sang “We Didn’t Start The Fire”.  And he might have been right.  But we darn sure poured gasoline on it.  We didn’t destroy the foundations and cornerstones of our society, we just ignored them.  We even celebrated that ignorance and neglect with our music and our movies. 

Aging Baby Boomers now talk about God and Faith and Family Values as if we were the last upholders of moral virtue.  But we know the truth.  We just don’t like to admit it.  We opened a Pandora’s box of sexual liberation, drugs and materialism.  Divorce rates skyrocketed.  Addictive behaviors got worse.  Too many of our kids and grandkids struggle with mental and physical health issues.   We grew to enjoy raw sex and graphic violence in our entertainment.  So we got more and more of it.  And now that there are lines being crossed which we could never have imagined; we self-righteously object and demand a return to those good old family values.

Boomers are angry.  But more than angry they are scared.  We know that we have sown the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.  America would look much different today if we Baby Boomers had been faithful to God and Family.  It’s now up to the younger generation to find the way.  The best thing Baby Boomers can do is confess our sins and stop preaching. We’ve done enough already.


"Teach your children well. Their father's hell will slowly go by.  And feed them on your dreams, the ones they picked, the ones you'll know by." - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (written by Jeff Healey)


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Why The Democrats Need Trump

 

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections.  It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment…that which they cannot anticipate.” – Sun Tzu


If anyone seriously believes that the Democrats are actually trying to disqualify Donald Trump from running for President in 2024, they would do well to read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and pay attention.  The Democrats are playing chess while the MAGA Republicans are playing checkers. 

 

There is a reason why Democratic backed operatives are quietly funding Trump backed candidates going into the mid-term elections.  There is a reason why left-leaning judges, agencies and Congressional Democrats are relentless in their pursuit of Trump and his supporters; and it has little to do with “January 6th”.  It has a lot to do with the upcoming mid-terms; and everything to do with the 2024 Presidential Race.

 

The best thing the Democrats have to run on is their defense of democracy against the MAGA/Trump Republican assault.  Presidential elections are won and lost in the swing states and swing states can be won or lost in a few zip codes.  The Democrats know that the Republican base is going to vote Republican, including those Republicans who can’t stand Trump.  But they will vote for him anyway simply because they believe where the Democrats want to take this country is even worse.  So for the Democrats it comes down to capturing Independents who cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump.  Best case they vote Democrat, but perhaps they just don’t vote period which is better than having them vote Republican.  And that often is enough to move the needle in a swing state.

 

Secondly for the Democrats it comes down to turn out.  They need a highly motivated base of voters.  They know that most Republicans will vote.  But the Democrats tend to struggle with turnout.  So the focus has to be on “The Fight”.  The fight to save democracy, the fight to protect women's rights, the fight to retain and extend all of the personal freedoms that have been won over the past 60 or so years.  The fight to save the planet, the fight for social justice, the fight to end gun violence, the fight for your right to party, but most of all… the fight for Democrats to stay in power.

 

“The Fight” is all the Democrats have to run on.  Their economic policies have failed.  They have mishandled virtually every encounter with our enemies around the world.  Crime has surged wherever Democrats are in charge.  They have failed to protect our borders.  Their leaders are incompetent, incoherent and delusional; even more so than the Republican leadership which is quite an accomplishment in itself. 

 

Every fight needs a hero and a villain.  And in America, our heroes and villains are defined by journalists and media personalities, teachers and educators, artists and entertainers along with wealthy globalist elites;  most all of whom lean left.  The bigger the villain: the bigger the battle to be fought.  Who better to be that villain than Donald J. Trump? 


Monday, July 25, 2022

BPH


"I'm going to go pee. If the universe is bigger and stranger than I can imagine, it's best to meet it with an empty bladder".  - John Scalzi, Old Man's War


Even as a young man I occasionally got up during the night to go pee. If I felt any urge down there I just couldn’t get comfortable.  As I got older, the trips became more frequent.  In fact, the last time I can recall sleeping through the night was 10 years ago down in the Big Bend Country.  We were staying at The Gage Hotel in Marathon and after a full day of activity went over to Alpine for dinner and drinks.  And I had a few more drinks, then more than a few more drinks.  I was very thirsty.  My wife drove us back to Marathon.  I just remember that it was sundown and the mountains were beautiful.  We got back to The Gage, I fell on the bed and slept in my clothes.  Never moved.  And the next morning, other than being incredibly thirsty, I felt great.  I guess that’s what a good night’s sleep will do for you.

 

Since then, every night has been filled with trips to the bathroom.  At first one or two times.  Then three, often four times.  And then during the day I started having what I called “Peeing Encores”.   One goes and pees, then 10-15 minutes later, one goes and pees again.  Certainly not the best way to travel if you’re flying coach on a crowded flight sitting in a window seat. But it can lead to a fellow passenger giving up their aisle seat for you.

 

During my annual physicals the doctor would do the finger wave. (If you don’t know what that means, look it up.  And it has nothing to do with women’s hairstyles).  The doctor noted that I had a slightly enlarged prostate, but not to worry.  I told him about the frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom and he encouraged me to cut back on the antihistamines and limit my fluid intake in the evenings.  Of course, I did neither of those.

 

Finally, I decided to go to a urologist.  He put me on Tamsulosin (Flomax).  After 45 days, there was no improvement.  Then he said let’s add Oxybutynin a drug that calms the bladder.  The only effect was that it relaxed my upper stomach and gave me severe acid reflux which I had never had before and never want again.  So we stopped that.  A few weeks later, I decided to have the exam.  The exam being a cystoscopy procedure where the urologist inserts a device in the penis, runs it up the channel a ways, takes a look, a few images, pumps you full of fluid and then has you pee into a vial hooked up to machine that measures your “flow”.

 

Turns out that my flow was really bad.  And the images showed that I also was starting to develop bladder stones.  No trouble today but would only get larger and become big trouble tomorrow.  Indeed, I had the classic old man’s problem, an enlarged prostate, aka Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).  Benign sounded good, Hyperplasia not so much.

 

So the urologist gave me several options including continuing medication.  But the reality was that surgery was the best option and the best surgical option was the tried and true “gold-standard” of BPH surgeries: TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate.)   TURP is just medical shorthand and a fair bit of marketing genius if you ask me.  It sounds a whole lot better than saying we’re going to stick a cable in your penis and run it up through the urethra and use a little roto-rooter like instrument to carve out enough tissue so you can pee better and less often.  Now Mr. Click we just need a few signatures.

 

So I signed up.  It would require a night, maybe two, in the hospital.  Post-surgery I would have a catheter in for as long as necessary and might even get to wear it home.  I had a catheter several years ago with a left knee replacement.  I spent two nights in the hospital, even got up and moved around with it.  The nurse took it out before they sent me home and it wasn’t that bad.  But with another bit of good salesmanship, what the urologists don’t tell you is that the catheter they use after TURP surgery is the size of a small garden hose which in necessary to handle the volume of water and blood that comes out.  And just for fun it has an inflatable balloon that keeps everything open while your wounded and angry prostate responds to the invasion. Fortunately, they deflate the balloon before they take the catheter out, but it’s just one more thing.  What goes in, must come out.  

 

The good news is that I only had one night, one long sleepless night in the hospital with noisy equipment running to monitor blood pressure and keep the fluids pumping through the IV in my arm and out the catheter in my little friend.  I was also drinking water non-stop.  Anything to speed up the process and get me out of this cage.  But I did have my I-pad and my noise-cancelling Bose headphones.  So I watched “The Terminal List” or listened to classical music.  Every couple of hours the nurse came in to empty the catheter bag (which was at least gallon size) and muse about the color of liquid that had come out of my body.  The good news if there really wasn’t much pain, just a lot of discomfort and inconvenience.

 

“Take a deep breath Mr. Click and when I tell you to breathe out, I’ll remove the catheter.  There may a be a little bleeding.  Okay?”  As if I was going to say, “Nah, I think I’ll just wear this home and wait for it to slip out on its own someday”.   So I took a deep breath and she said breathe out.  As I did, in one smooth, quick motion she pulled the garden hose out.  And it did hurt.  How could it not?  And it was a bloody mess.  But it was out, thank God.

 

But before they would let me go home I had to conquer the pee challenge.  I’m chugging down water like crazy and peeing as best I can into one of three numbered quart sized pitchers. The goal is to see if the urine has an ever-decreasing amount of blood in it.  If not, the nurse suggested that they might have to put the catheter back in and send me home with it.  That was at once more than enough motivation to keep me chugging water to clear up the stream.   The nurse was taking pics of my output and mailing them to the urologist who would make the final decision about the release with or without the garden hose.

 

I do believe in prayer.  But, in the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t sure if God cared all that much if I had to go home with a catheter or not.  I concluded that if I did, there must be a reason and it must be for the best.  So I alternated between praying that my pee would clear up enough to pass inspection;  but if not, praying that I would deal with all of it graciously, being thankful that I lived in a time when such medical solutions are available.  Thank God for doctors and nurses.  Thank God for those who invent, design and manufacture the technology and equipment used in modern medicine, including catheters. Thank God that I live in this time and this place and have access to medical care.  And thank God for anesthetic.

 

Now almost two weeks post-surgery, things are getting back to normal.  It will take 4-6 weeks to determine how effective the procedure is in correcting my “pee problem”.  At this point, I am optimistic. But, also realistic enough to know that time takes its toll and something else in this old body will start to fail one of these days. 


“For dust you are and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19



Sunday, July 3, 2022

Alter or Abolish

 

These days it’s a real challenge to write about serious matters.  Somewhat like walking on broken glass. Therefore, one is left to write about dogs and butterflies, or what they had for breakfast.  Even those innocent topics can draw fire from those who are ever ready to be offended.  And just try saying something about abortion, guns, critical race theory, climate change, crime, vaccinations, immigration, inflation or education.  Good luck with that.

 

Now it would appear that July 4th has been added to the list of “hot topics”.  With the recent Supreme Court ruling that returned the abortion issue back to the states, the whole idea of American Independence has once again gone under the microscope of public opinion.  

 

This is not the first time American Independence has been questioned.  Slaves were, by definition, not independent.  Even after slavery was abolished, black citizens were only as independent as white citizens would allow.  Not that long ago, women by tradition, law and holy scripture had very little independence.  Native Americans became dispossessed prisoners, forced on to land not of their choosing. Living in ways they did not know or understand.  Independence lost.  Those Americans who labored on farms and in factories were only as independent as the next harvest or paycheck.  And while new immigrants found America to be a better place than the one they left behind, economic freedom and independence would be hard to come by.

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…”  The Declaration of Independence goes on to insist that Governments exist to secure these “Rights” and when such Governments fail to do so; the people who are governed have the Right to alter or abolish such Governments and institute new ones.  

 

In July 2022 we find ourselves, those who are governed, somewhere between “alter” and “abolish”.  The genius of our Founding Fathers was the creation of a Constitutional Republic of States, a Federation, that gave us the best system yet devised by which people might secure those Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  A system of checks and balances, alteration and amendment.  But it’s not perfect.  Not long after the ink was dry we fought a Civil War where over 600,000 Americans lost their lives in the name of freedom and independence because they could not agree on what those words meant. 

 

On this July 4th, take care America.  We must come together peacefully and resume this Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness adventure even if we cannot agree on exactly what those words mean. Perhaps we start by listening more and talking less.  Seek to understand, not just to be understood. And we could certainly use fewer fireworks and more forgiveness.  Let's try a little tenderness for a change, America. 

 

“Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain”

- John Locke





Saturday, June 4, 2022

On Our Own

 

Ask most any law enforcement officer, off the record of course, about the need for law-abiding citizens to have guns for self-defense and protection and they will nod and say, absolutely.  They will likely qualify that response by saying that gun owners need to know how to handle guns safely and responsibly.  But they know how dangerous it is out there and they know that law enforcement just cannot be there to stop an assault before it happens or while it’s happening.  In that moment, it’s between the attacker and the attacked.  That’s reality.

 

But there are some fundamental questions Americans must answer.

 

_1 Do we have the right to possess and use firearms?

_2 What sort of firearms should we be allowed to possess and use?

_3 Who should be allowed to possess and use firearms?

_4 How should we control and regulate the possession and use of firearms?

_5 What should the penalties be for illegally possessing or using firearms?

 

We know there is very little agreement between Progressives and Conservatives when it comes to answering these questions.  We also know that guns are used to kill a lot of people in this country and that certain types of guns are often used by the crazies who decide to commit mass murder.  Note that I said “guns are used”; not that guns kill.  Big difference.

 

So where does this leave us?  I don’t know about the nation as a whole; but I do know about my own circumstances.  We live outside the city limits.  If bad guys show up, my wife and I are on our own.  This would still be true if we lived in the city, even if it was in an apartment with neighbors all around.  But it’s especially true out where we live now.  I have a shotgun in my office.  I am prepared for varmints, two or four-legged.  We have handguns in the house, one in the family room, a 9MM semi-auto; and one in our bedroom, a .357 revolver.  We have several other handguns, rifles and shotguns.  We lock them all up when we have visitors or kids around.   

 

My wife is also a realtor and handles property from the northern suburbs of DFW all the way into Southern Oklahoma.  She has her concealed carry license.  I’m glad that she is armed.  Realtors, especially female realtors are targets and more than a few have been attacked, raped, and murdered.

 

I also have a concealed carry license.  When I was a younger man, I didn’t worry too much about defending myself. I was big, strong, tough, and athletic. I had a false sense of security and didn’t see the need for a gun.  Now I am older, slower, and weaker.   And more of the bad guys are well-armed.  So, I keep a pistol in my truck just in case.

 

I don’t own an AR-15 type rifle, but some of my neighbors do.  Most everyone out here is armed to some degree and most folks have a dog or two or three hanging around.  Some of us have security systems and cameras.  Are we being paranoid, overly cautious?  Perhaps.  But the bad guys know that folks around here are well-armed and prepared.  I will acknowledge that having guns around makes it more likely that some one will be shot accidently or commit suicide with a gun or in the heat of the moment shoot another family member or neighbor.  But on balance, we’ll take our chances with those unlikely outcomes versus being unarmed and unprepared.  And that’s our choice to make.  Because for the most part, we are on our own out here.


Am I ignoring recent events?  Not at all.  What happened in Buffalo and Uvalde and Tulsa and Ames and on and on; are tragic and must be addressed.  Tighter regulations on who can own what sort of guns makes sense.  It might help some.  But those bent on killing will find other ways to kill.  We must do better when it comes to recognizing those who are mentally unstable and on the brink.   We must improve security around soft targets.  And sadly, we must accept that we are on our own. Taking guns away is not the solution, it’s just surrender.


“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson