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Babs’ Quote of the Day – 2010.3.2

What a pile of BS! The notice arrived 30 days after I selected American Community Mutual Insurance Company to provide health insurance for our employees for the next year. Living in a rural Arizona community there was fancy footwork involved to keep that benefit in place. Between doubling deductibles and converting to a Health Savings Plan, I kept a reasonable level of insurance and saved the company $12,000 over the quotes from conventional insurance plans. It would even save the employees some money in the long run.

Imagine my surprise when I received the notice of a 61% increase in premiums beginning our second quarter into the insurance year. Calling the Arizona Department of Insurance was an eye-opener. Turns out Arizona doesn’t care how much an anti-trust exempt health insurance company raises rates as long as it only happens on a quarterly basis.

Wow! Just what are Arizona legislators doing to help? While small businesses all over Arizona struggle to keep their heads above water, unemployment in the State creeps upward weekly, education is undermined almost into non-existence, home foreclosure rates are the second in the nation and State parks close right and left, those wascally wabbits at the State Capital in Phoenix are working diligently. Between requiring a birth certificate from our President that they won’t accept at face value anyway and allowing people to carry concealed weapons permit-free, into bars, no less, how will they find time to secede from the Union or back Joe Arpaio for Governor?

The Lieberburger – Lots of Fat, but Short on Meat

For those of you inclined to ask the rhetorical question “Where’s the beef?”, here’s your answer: The Heart Attack Grill. Our friend Tommy was kind enough to visit us briefly in Scottsdale during our recent visit to that beautiful city. Tommy was good enough to come by and allow me to severely trounce him over the course of two rounds of golf and yet he won money from me. It sounds like Sarah Palin economics to me, but that’s what happened. Had he relieved of my money in such a manner anywhere but on the golf course, Tommy would have been charged with larceny or given an honorary degree from the Harvard Business School. Once he had thoroughly fleeced me, he then attempted to kill me.

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The Wisdom of the Mayor

Jeff Pastorino at 13

Jeff Pastorino at 13

The Mayor was a homeless guy.  He was a fixture in Point Loma, California.  He sat in the same place for more than fifteen years.  He never asked for anything.  He was always gracious.  Many people thought him strange.  Others weren’t as generous.

Following his death last month, I watched an amazing sequence of events unfold.  Although hardly anyone knew his name, someone brought flowers and placed them on the bench where he could be seen every day.  Soon a second bunch appeared, then a third, a fourth and more.  Flowers started piling up.  After a week, anonymous mourners placed dozens of flowers at the Mayor’s bench.  As soon as maintenance crews could remove them, more appeared.  It was as if the man that no one knew had become such a part of the neighborhood that the hearts of people opened up when he was gone.  He’d become a part of all of us, the less fortunate guy that none of us wanted to be.  He may have been eccentric, but he was our eccentric friend and people were saying we’d be missing him.

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Goodbye to a Dear Friend

Jeff died Saturday. He wasn’t an average guy. For more than ten years, he sat on a bench at the corner of Rosecrans and Avenida de Portugal in the Point Loma area of San Diego. He was there for the millennium change. He sat there every Christmas morning. He rang in every New Year on the bench. Summers, winters, holidays, rain or shine, he was sitting on his bench. As you might imagine, he was different.

When darkness filled the night, Jeff would pick up the bag holding all of his earthly possessions and disappear into the shadows where he would stealthily spread his sleeping bag on the ground hidden away from any and all curious eyes. Shortly after first light, Jeff was back on his bench for another day of silent vigilance.

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Town Hall – Fight or Fiesta?

Knowing how the media tends to blow things out of proportion, I thought it was time for a firsthand look. I attended one of the much publicized town hall meetings on the subject of healthcare reform. California Congresswoman Susan B. Davis would answer questions at the Hillcrest “town council” meeting in San Diego. The event was much heralded by both pro and anti healthcare reform groups and a large and contentious crowd was expected. I wasn’t disappointed.

By the time I arrived, a thousand people were in line to get into the meeting. The meeting room had capacity for a couple hundred. That would leave most of the crowd in the street for the duration. A thousand people held signs aloft and chanted slogans. Pro healthcare reform people seemed to outnumber the opponents by a factor of five to one. The atmosphere was more like one outside a Big Ten football stadium on a Saturday afternoon in October. The partisans cheered, chanted and waved their placards.

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More Hate Humor from the Right

My cousin is a war hero. Just ask him. He spent a career as a jet fighter pilot. He was my boyhood idol always pushing the envelope, living dangerously, attempting things others feared to try. He was a good student in school always excelling in whatever subject he faced. But like so many retired officers I have known, his lifelong immersion in the military world has left him narrow minded, myopic and brainwashed. It seems many retired officers can’t shake the perception that in civilian life, just as in military life, R.H.I.P. – Rank has its Privilege. They believe they’re entitled to our worship and respect and we’re entitled to their directives, orders we commoners frequently misinterpret as being only opinions.

Like other retired military officers, Will leans heavily to the right, so far right, he’ll make three successive right turns to avoid making one to the left. And to make matters worse, Will was raised in the south and tends to hold the belief that slavery wasn’t all bad. As you can now imagine, Will is not President Obama’s biggest supporter. Sadly, his criticisms are based on emotional appeal, knee jerk reactions, and a thinly veiled racial prejudice. He is so far right he believes Rush Limbaugh is a patriotic American and that FOX actually has something to do with the “news”.

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Democracy on the Brink

I was in Manhattan last month. As I walked along the Hudson, I knew New York’s weather just didn’t get any better than it was that beautiful day. Blue skies were daubed with the kinds of big cumulus clouds that photographers dream about. The cooling wind stirred up the water just enough to make it picture perfect. My eyes became fixed on that beautiful lady that holds her torch skyward. It was hard to keep the mind from letting the wind take it on an emotional ride fluttering through our long history and what that lady has symbolized for America and for the world. Freedom, a policy of open arms, opportunity and democracy – those things that made us great.

Over the years, we encouraged democracy around the world, even if in recent years it has been more lip-service than by example. Yet I watch in horror as American democracy rots from within. Case in point – recent public meetings where right-wing gangs have attended town hall meetings and shouted down speakers opposed to their views. This radical, anarchistic behavior is being encouraged by groups aligned with the FOX “tea party” crowd, groups such as FreedomWorks, a right-wing organization whose goal is to herd the sheep over the cliff. The “me and mine” crowd not only falls right in line with the demagogues that shepherd them and lead them to slaughter, they have fallen prey to a diabolical trick that would make Karl Rove sing.

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