Friday, September 30, 2016

An interview with Gary Johnson

As part of our ongoing series of interviews with presidential candidates, today sat down with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is running as a Libertarian.

TD: Governor, you’ve been savaged in the press lately for appearing to be somewhat out-of-it. You said you weren't familiar with Aleppo, the Syrian city where U.S.-backed forces are battling ISIS, and a few days ago when Chris Matthews asked you to name a foreign leader you admired, you couldn’t think of one. So let’s start off easy. Who do you admire most? Doesn’t have to be a world leader. It can be anyone.

GJ: Cheech and … oh, God, what is that guy's name? It's right on the tip of my tongue. You know, Cheech’s partner. I had all their albums in college. They made that movie, Up in Smoke. I must've seen it fifty times. Cheech and … Cheech and … damn, I can’t think of his name!

TD: Chong?

GJ: Yes, Cheech and Chong. I admire them.

TD: OK. Moving on, congratulations on being endorsed today by the Chicago Tribune.

GJ: Who did you say endorsed me?

TD: The Chicago Tribune.

GJ: What’s that?

TD: A newspaper.

GJ: No, the word before that.

TD: Chicago?

GJ: Yeah, that. What is it?

TD: A city in Illinois. The Tribune’s editorial board called you a "principled alternative to Trump and Clinton."

GJ: An alternative to what?

TD: Trump and Clinton.

GJ: Never heard of them.

TD: They’re running for … never mind. Have you ever stopped to consider that, if you win in November, you’ll become the third Johnson president?

GJ: I thought every president had a Johnson.

TD: You’d be the third president with the last name of Johnson.

GJ: Is that so? Who were the other two?

TD: Andrew and Lyndon.

GJ: Third, huh? Must be a common name or something.

TD: If you’re elected, what’s the first thing you’d do?

GJ: I’d issue an executive order legalizing marijuana. There’s nothing more important to America’s future.

TD: Thank you Governor and, I can’t believe I’m saying this but, having considered your opponents, you have my vote. 

GJ: Thanks, Tim!

TD: It's Tom. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Presidential quotes for today

We have nothing to fear but somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed.  -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Four score and seven years ago, somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. -- Abraham Lincoln

Ask not what somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed can do for you, ask what you can do for somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed-- John F. Kennedy

Only if you have been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed atop the highest mountain. -- Richard Nixon

I did not have sex with somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed-- Bill Clinton

It is not the critic who counts. The credit belongs to somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. -- Theodore Roosevelt

Somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed always thinks that he is doing God’s service when he is violating all his laws.  -- John Adams

If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed. -- James Madison

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and leave the rest to somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed-- Ronald Reagan

If your actions inspire somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed to dream more, do more, learn more and become more, you are a leader. -- John Q. Adams

It is amazing what somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed can accomplish if you do not think about who gets the credit. -- Harry Truman

Like this post? Share it with somebody that weighs 400 pounds and is sitting on their bed by clicking one of the buttons below.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Diner conversation

Time: 6:30 pm Sunday.

Location: The booth opposite ours in a fifties-themed diner. 

Cast of characters: A forty-something waitress, a sixty-ish woman and a much older man whose walker is parked next to the booth.

* * *

Waitress: Are you ready to order?  

Woman: I am but my father here needs a little more time.

Waitress: No rush, I’ll be back in a minute.

Woman (to father, who is thumbing through a multi-page menu): 
Dad, it’s a diner, you can get just about anything you want. Meat loaf, chicken, fish, a nice steak, a burger, you can even have breakfast. Would you like some scrambled eggs and bacon? Or some pancakes?

Old man (flipping through the menu): This menu’s too damn big.  

Woman: They even have liver and onions, your favorite. 

Old man: I don't want it.

Woman: Well, what sounds good?

Old man: Nothing. I’m not hungry. Why did you bring me here when I’m not hungry?

Woman: I thought you might enjoy getting out, eating something different, spending some time together.

Old man: Well I’m not enjoying it. You order for me.

Waitress: Have you decided?

Woman: I’ll have the grilled grouper.

Waitress: What kind of dressing on your salad?

Woman: Balsamic vinaigrette.  

Waitress (to man): And you, sir?

Old man (indicating his daughter): Ask her.

Woman (to her father): Well, dad, if you aren’t hungry, how about a bowl of soup? (To waitress:) What kind of soup do you have?

Waitress: Tonight’s special is tomato rice. We also have chicken noodle.

Old man: Bring me the chicken noodle but I don’t want any noodles in it.

Waitress: No problem. I’ll ladle it up myself then I'll go through it and remove the noodles.

(Twenty minutes later)

Waitress: Is everything OK?

Woman: Yes, thank you.

Waitress (to old man): And how’s your chicken noodle soup? 

Old man: There aren’t any noodles in it.

Woman (to man, gently): Dad, you said you didn’t want the noodles. This nice lady went through your soup and took them all out.

Man: Why would I say that?

Woman: I don’t know.

Man: Well, you heard me wrong. What kind of restaurant serves chicken noodle soup and leaves out the noodles?

Woman: I’m sorry, he’s not usually like this.

Man: I don’t get it. You’re selling chicken noodle soup with no noodles.

Woman (to waitress, sounding exhausted): Actually, yes he is.

Waitress (sympathetically): That’s okay, I understand.

Man: I’ve had chicken noodle soup on every goddamn continent and I’ve never once been served chicken noodle soup without noodles.

Woman (to waitress): I’m so sorry.

Waitress: No problem, I’ll be back with your check in a minute.

Man: You don’t expect me to pay for this soup do you?

Waitress: No sir, there will be no charge. I’m sorry you didn’t like it.

Man: Well, it wasn't half bad. Except there weren't any noodles in it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Welcome to Medicare!

Dear Boomer:

You’ve outlasted Dick & Jane, the USSR, disco, the mullet and America's space program. Here is your reward – your Medicare card. 

On the first day of the month in which you turn 65, you will be enrolled automatically in Medicare Part A, which will pay the costs of future hospital stays and will even pick up the tab for nursing home stays (while recovering from medical procedures) and hospice care (in case you don't). You will no longer have to pay out-of-pocket for these services except for certain deductibles plus Part B co-insurance and deductibles provided you enroll in Part B which, unlike Part A, will cost you money.

Part B, which is optional, covers doctor visits, lab tests, medical equipment and some preventative services that aren’t covered by Part A less certain deductibles and co-insurance payments for which you will be responsible. If you wish to enroll in Part B, do what Congress has done for the last six years – nothing. If you do not wish to enroll in Part B, please return the enclosed form no later than the tenth day after the fourth month during which you become eligible for Part A.

You may also be eligible for a Medicare Advantage Plan, which includes Parts A and B and sometimes D (see below). The Advantage Plan may, in some cases, offer certain advantages over regular Medicare Parts A and B which is why it’s called the Advantage Plan.

In addition to Medicare Parts A & B and/or the Medicare Advantage Plan, there is a wide range of supplemental plans available through multiple insurance companies. These plans include:

Part C: Covers your Part A and Part B deductibles and co-insurance amounts plus medical emergencies while traveling in foreign countries like Albania or Alabama provided you haven’t been out of the United States for more than 60 consecutive days which isn't a good idea for someone your age in the first place.

Part D: Covers your Part A deductible and co-insurance amounts as well as your Part B co-insurance but not your Part B deductibles and pays certain other expenses. 

Part E: Remember the time you and your high school buds heard a friend’s parents were out of town and he was throwing a huge party at his house with weed and a keg and when you showed up at the front door you were greeted by his father who informed you, “There is no party?” Well, it's deja vu all over again because ... there is no Part E. There must have been at one time because there’s a Part D (see above) and Part F (see below) and E comes between those letters in the alphabet but we couldn’t find out what it was.

Part F: Pays for all the deductibles not covered by Parts A, B, C, and D except for certain deductibles.

Part F+: Pays for everything Part F covers except there is a high deductible which means you’re paying a deductible so you won’t have to pay deductibles.

Special K Plan: Covers 100% of Part B coinsurance except $20 for doctor visits and $50 for ER visits provided you eat Special K at least five times per week.  

Plan M: Pays mental health-related costs (including hospitalization) for those who have been driven insane trying to decipher all the various plans.

Plan N: Covers 100% of Part B co-insurance plus stays in a skilled nursing facility.

Plan R: Covers Part B co-insurance costs for stays in an unskilled nursing facility.

Plan X: Includes all the above Parts and a lifetime membership to Larry Flynt Hustler Clubs nationwide.

Drug plans: These plans cover prescription drugs seniors like you need so you can play bingo, golf or whatever it is you people do all day. Plans are available through a number of insurance companies. Call your insurance agent or enroll online at www.medicare/gov.

In closing, I want to set the record straight about a rumor you may have heard. Some politicians – mainly Republicans whose party didn’t vote for Medicare in the first place, something we hope you will remember on election day – have claimed that Medicare will be completely bankrupt by 2024. Please be assured there is no truth to this rumor. We have enough funds to pay claims through 2025.

Should you have any questions, please visit www.medicare/gov, your local Social Security office or ask anyone you see driving a Buick in the passing lane at 40 mph with the turn signal blink-blink-blinking what plan(s) he or she chose.


Sylvia Matthews Burrell

Secretary, Health & Human Services

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Grandpa memo

We got home last night from the Outer Banks where we spent a week with our sons, Ben and Stuart, daughter-in-law Heidi, grandsons Teddy and Isaac, and Stuart’s donkey-size dog, Topanga, a Great Pyrenees/ greyhound mix.

The beaches were beautiful. The weather was perfect. We played endless games of Scrabble. But the main attraction, as far as my wife and I are concerned, were the grandsons.

Isaac, who turns six months old today, is at that awkward age somewhere between newborn and toddler. He can’t talk, barely babbles, hasn’t yet learned to crawl, and his head bobbles crazily when you hold his dimpled hands to help him stand on your lap. He eats heartily and often, as is evidenced by cheeks a Campbell’s kid would kill for, multiple chins, and thighs that resemble both in size and fat content the Hormel pork tenderloins you see in the supermarket meat case. He jams one fist – sometimes both – into his mouth and drools a lot because (we’re almost sure) he’s teething. He can, however, roll over and has learned to make his baby bouncer bounce by kicking his legs up and down. He has started smiling and, when his brother throws a ball or does something else he finds amusing, he giggles. 

Teddy, who turned 30 months old yesterday, is a pint-sized dynamo. Make that a “half pint-sized” dynamo. He is downright tiny for his age – just 24 pounds compared to 17 for Isaac who, if he continues growing at this rate, will outweigh Teddy by the time he’s 10 months old. Teddy was a preemie, is allergic to dairy products so his menu is severely limited, and does everything within his power to avoid eating. My wife thinks his aversion to food is because there were tubes down his throat during his first three weeks of life which were spent in a neo-natal intensive care unit, so he associates anything he has to swallow with pain. She may be onto something there. God knows his parents have tried everything to convince him to eat.

Teddy's huge personality more than makes up for his small stature. He knows how to work a room to make sure he’s always the center of attention, charming everyone in the process. His vocabulary is enormous – almost scary big for someone his age – but he, as all toddlers do when learning to talk, makes grammatical mistakes. He has trouble with the words "am," "are" and "is" which he sometimes uses incorrectly or omits altogether. He also hasn’t quite mastered the pronoun “I” which he often turns into a possessive, pronouncing it “I’s.”  For example, “I am watching tv" might come out “I watching tv” or, more frequently,“I’s watching tv.”

Early one morning his dad staggered into the living room carrying Teddy, who was wearing his Mickey Mouse pajamas. Ben looked exhausted. “Do you want to go back to bed?” I asked, thinking I could watch Teddy while his hard-working dad caught some much needed shut-eye. Teddy, assuming I was speaking to him, replied emphatically, “No! I’s just woke up!”

Walking alongside the wagon in which he was being pulled back to the rental house after an afternoon at the beach, I asked Teddy if he had had a good time. “Grandpa,” he replied with a look of concern, indicating his arms, legs and swimming trunks, “I’s sandy.”

One day Teddy was wearing a horizontally striped blue and white shirt. “You look like a little French boy,” Stuart told him. “I’s not a French boy,” Teddy said defensively. “Yes you are,” Stuart teased. “French boys wear shirts like that.” When I walked into the room a moment later Teddy announced with as much enthusiasm as if he had just been notified he had won the lottery, “Grandpa, I a French boy!”

As we were leaving Sunday, I asked Teddy to give me a hug which he did – Teddy is generous with hugs. “You’re a good boy,” I told him, holding him tight, knowing I won’t be seeing him for months. “You’re a smart boy.”

He pushed back from my embrace, looked me square in the eye, and reminded me of something else he is that someone had obviously told him but I had failed to mention. “I’s a handsome boy, too!”

I spent my adult life concerned about providing what I thought my family needed. I obsessed about my career, spent nights and weekends at the office when I should have been home and worried about acquiring and taking care of possessions that, I now realize, have no value. Being a grandpa was never on my bucket list. I figured it might happen one of these days and assumed that if and when it did I’d find the kid(s) amusing but that I couldn’t possibly be more than minimally invested emotionally because, after all, there’s only so much love a heart can hold and mine, I was certain, had already been topped off years before.

Nobody ever warned me that, the moment I beheld my first grandchild, my jaded old heart would instantly sprout another chamber and be filled with an altogether different kind of love that, in its own way, is as intense and profound as anything I’ve ever experienced.

I’s so glad I didn’t get that memo because the overwhelming surprise and wonder of it all is the joy of my old age.