RIP John McCain

To say that Cancer drastically alters human physiology… until everything becomes inconsistent with sustaining life… would be an understatement. Such was the case, this past Saturday, when 81-year-old, Arizona Senator John McCain lost his battle with the “Big C”.

To say John McCain’s brand of conservatism had been inconsistent with my liberalism would also be an understatement. However, now is not the time to dwell excessively on the right/left schism.

Now is the time to say something positive about McCain, the man. Now is the time to commend the late Senator for his spirit of bipartisanship and statesmanship… for his service to America.

My tribute begins with this video clip… recorded during McCain’s 2008 campaign for the White House. This is a respectability defining moment soundbite, where he defends his (then) Senatorial colleague and presidential wannabe rival, Barack Obama.

To contemporize, compare and contrast… had Donald Trump been running for prez in 2008, could you ever imagine him similarly correcting either misinformed supporter?

Well, within the decade that was to follow, in addition to my newfound respect for McCain, I had also grown to view him as a bold man fully capable of…

1. prioritizing the moral right over the political right.
2. elevating patriotism above partisan politics.
3. differentiating between genuine, heartfelt American patriotism and the mutilated, headstrong Trumpian bastardization.
4. detecting the stench of other Trumpian, fascism reeking policies.

To contemporize, compare and contrast… it’d be a rare Trumpster who’d possess either the spine or moral compass to publicly spurn political expediency and simply do what’s right… i.e, right… as in righteous.

Historically speaking, McCain’s Vietnam War experiences, inclusive of being captured and tortured by the enemy, had afforded him a perspective sorely lacking amongst the war profiteering, torture touting, chickenhawks residing within the U.S. Congress AND Oval Office.

True… such a perspective had failed to prevent McCain’s 2003 vote, which had authorized the war profiteering, torture touting, chickenhawk, half-cocked GW Bush to NEEDLESSLY, preemptively strike / go on a rampage into Iraq. However… from the following excerpt from John’s published 2018 memoir, one gets a sense that were time travel do overs possible, he would’ve never supported W’s folly…

“(Iraq) can’t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I have to accept my share of the blame for it.”

To contemporize, compare and contrast… it’d be a rare Trumpster who’d possess either the mettle or morals to publicly admit when (s)he is wrong.

Well… had McCain won his battle with the “Big C”… he’d have wound up returning to the U.S. Senate… perhaps even becoming the sorely needed calming, voice of reason during America’s tense, unreasonable times.

Without a man like John McCain to rein in the executive and legislative branch’s chickenhawk saber rattlers… with his likely successor being yet another Trumpian piece of… uh… work… well…

To say that America could wind up mindlessly, needlessly and endlessly fighting upon the battlefields of the fake prez’s own making, could easily become yet another understatement.

My heartfelt condolences to McCain’s family and friends.

 

Cindy Stowell’s Incredible Jeopardy Finale

 

The Cindy Stowell Story is heartwarming, inspiring and extraordinary. Despite the grim diagnosis of stage four cancer, she auditioned and proved herself fully qualified to appear on Jeopardy. Because she had advised the program’s accommodating staff of her medical condition, they had sped up their normal contestant selection process so she could compete sooner.

Only a few of the show’s producers and host Alex Trebek had known that the time she had left was limited.

Well… Stowell not only competed well but competed while ill.

During one taping, she had been nauseous, feverish and in need of painkillers… those meds slowing down her reaction time, which made signaling in to provide the questions to the answers an even greater challenge.

Even more miraculous, there had been a Jeopardy taping hiatus, which, purely by coincidence, had perfectly jibed with her need for hospitalization… allowing her sufficient time to regain her strength… to come back to compete again.

In the end, champion Stowell had won $103,803, which she pledged to donate to the Cancer Research Institute. As for her six game winning streak, only 38 contestants have equaled or exceeded that plateau since Jeopardy’s “five wins and out” rule ended in 2003.

Though she died on December 5th (a little more than a week before her episodes were to air on TV), thanks to the kind folks at Jeopardy, the DVD they had provided allowed her to see three of her appearances.

As for my own reactions…

If I hadn’t been aware of Stowell’s story prior to watching her compete, I’d have never guessed in a million years how seriously ill she was. As far as I’m concerned, she could’ve also won an Academy Award for acting so healthy.

Seeing her dream of appearing on Jeopardy come to fruition had to have been the thrill of her lifetime and, doubtlessly, in giving her something to live for, kept her going strong a bit longer than had she wallowed in sorrow in some hospice bed.

I only wish she could’ve gone into remission, lived a good long life and appeared on Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions.

When TV had gone digital back in 2009 I had ceased viewing all first run programming. I only reentered TV Land this past June after my sister had provided me a digital converter she no longer needed. Admittedly, I’d been feeling mostly underwhelmed about what TV had become during my seven year absence… well… at least until I had eye witnessed Stowell’s stunning display of courage… her looking at death squarely in the eye and telling it to go to hell.

Cindy Stowell had a fighting spirit… in the game of Jeopardy… in the game of life.

Her never say die determination has been an inspiration to millions… and I count myself among them. She will live on, forever, in the memories of all who witnessed her will to live.

I only wish I could’ve thanked Ms. Stowell in person.

My heartfelt condolences go out to her surviving family and friends.

Did Gwen Ifill Die Of A Broken Heart?

American Peabody Award winning journalist, newscaster and political analyst Gwen Ifill died at age 61 on 11/14/2016… her too brief life and career cut short by Cancer. TV viewers, who frequent PBS, will forever, fondly remember and admire her for both the off and on-the-air contributions she made to society.

As an African-American woman, she had been a trailblazer for and champion of racial and gender equality. As a consummate professional, her impressive résumé included being the moderator / managing editor of Washington Week in Review and co-anchor / managing editor of the PBS News Hour. In both capacities she was and will forever be a role model and inspiration to girls and women of all ages.

Even news watchers, who habitually turn elsewhere to less reliable sources for their “information”, will still likely have strong recollections of Ifill’s topnotch work as debate moderator during the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

With an ailment as grave and unpredictable as Cancer, we can only conjecture about its ups and downs… what ushers it into remission… what triggers it to rage out of control.

But, I truly believe, with all my heart, that Ifill’s sudden and far too soon demise is attributable to the horrific outcome of last week’s presidential election… the defeat of Clinton… Hillary’s loss to a misogynist and racist… his campaign, itself, having set back, by centuries, what little progress women and racial minorities have achieved, to date. It’s a certainty that Ifill had known fully well how, once that knuckle-dragging Neanderthal takes the oath of office, he’ll promptly bomb civilized society all the way back to the Stone Age.

In short, although her death certificate lists Cancer as the official cause, Gwen Ifill actually died of a broken heart.

I’ve witnessed, first hand, this phenomenon before. Back in 2003, it involved my own 89-year-old mother, who, to say the least, had been devastated and demoralized by the outcome of the 2000 presidential election… i.e., how George W. Bush and five corrupt, archconservative, bastard SCOTUS “judges” had colluded to deny Al Gore his legal right to a recount of the ballots in Florida… how their screwing over Gore had given birth to W’s illegitimate presidency.

My Mom’s deep depression had only worsened after W, the bungling incompetent, had gotten caught with his Commander-In-Chief pants down on 9/11, AND, in the post apocalyptic aftermath, when his too little / too late preserving, protecting and defending of America caused him to overreact… to strip all Americans of their Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

In short, although her death certificate lists old age as the official cause, my Mom actually died of a broken heart.

Seeing how we liberals, at present, are sinking into the depths of our own post Election Day funk, we can only speculate on how much this is all shortening our own lifespans. Of course… all in all… that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Come Inauguration Day, when that tyrant begins his reign of terror, We the People, who oppose him, can take some solace in knowing that his depressing us to death… well… this could be our early ticket out.

For us, serving in Heaven (or even winding up in oblivion) would have to be infinitely preferable to watching him ruling in the Hell of his own making… than our being forced to exist within his Hell on Earth.

We’d also be able to rejoice in knowing that, once in Heaven / oblivion, we’d never be forced to cross paths with the likes of him again.

R.I.P. Gwen Ifill… at least there can be peace for you.

The “To Die For” Lawn

Many of us have seen how amateur homeowners and professional groundskeepers, alike, have attained their manicured, “fine tooth combed” to perfection lawns… lush, verdant, crisply edged carpets where nearly every last damned, two inch, 90° angled blade of grass is standing tall… like countless battalions of soldiers.

This certainly is an impressive sight to behold. However…

The hazardous chemicals used to attain this breathtaking work of art can also, literally, take away our breath… as well as cause cancers… neurotoxicity / nervous system failure… liver and kidney damage… endocrine / hormonal imbalances… reproductive system disorders and birth defects… and last but not least… DEATH!!!

Let’s deconstruct the stages of this self-inflicted, life threatening, environmental devastation… step by step, closely examine how some gung-ho, herbicidal maniacs are forward marching into battle… engaging in their, take no prisoners, flat out war vs. weeds.

In the weeks leading up to the last snows of the season, the lawn care industry has already begun its annual advertising barrage… one designed to get the consumers to march in lockstep… EITHER by signing maintenance contracts with lawn care companies OR by doing it themselves by making a beeline over to their local retailers to buy, Buy, BUY megatons of these “weed and feed” concoctions.

Hard to say which is worse… the stench of this Madison Avenue, madman / adman brainwashing blitz or the actual miasma wafting off from the products, themselves. Let’s just call it close tie… a formidable, one-two, KO punch that can easily get everyone’s heads figuratively and literally spinning.

It matters not whether or not these overly impressionable, budding lawn farmers even bother to read the instructions printed out on the bags of this noxious crap. That’s because the manufacturers have led them down the garden path.

Indeed, they do deceive folks into the misguided belief that lawn chemicals are as safe as mothers’ milk. It’s about that time that another foolish adage kicks into high gear, namely, that “some is good more is better” nonsense. That ‘tude, shared by both sellers and buyers can only make a bad situation worse.

SIDEBAR #1: Folks, I am not making this stuff up. The results of my very first Bing search re the generic phrase “some is good more is better” offered up this article… right at the very top of the list.

So we’re stuck with greed driven capitalists who only care about (what else?) the corporate bottom line. Their goal #1 is to do whatever it takes to augment their fortunes and, unfortunately, in the process, degrade our environment. Ergo, in the end, these nasty, lawn care chemicals get indiscriminately dumped on lawns all across the “free” world.

SIDEBAR #2: I also speak from personal, frontline battlefield experience. On the frequent fitness / nature walks I go on, my own nose has made me aware of entire neighborhoods that stink so bad that I can smell them from half a mile away! If I don’t avoid these regions like poison, their poison will make my lungs constrict, stomach turn and head reel. And just because the human olfactory organs may not always detect fumes outside that danger zone, this does not mean the peril does not exist. To be sure, here, even fumes we cannot smell can (and do) do us bodily harm.

Once the application of these toxins has occurred, eventually, the heavy rains will roll in. That’s when these lawn chemicals work overtime to make the grass grow faster than metastasizing tumors. This deadly chemical mixture then runs off into the curbside, storm water catch basins and outward to underground water tables… as well as into streams, rivers, lakes and oceans… inevitably polluting our entire ecosystem.

Foraging animals wind up drinking this noxious swill and feeding upon unnaturally growing vegetation… the plants which have both flourished and been poisoned.

SIDEBAR #3: In the hours leading up to the day’s dawn I, personally, have seen with increasing frequency how herds of deer (displaced from their wilderness homes due to urban sprawl / the construction of human homes) are paying visits to our cities and suburbs… wandering by to graze on homeowners’, overloaded with lawn chemicals grass. Eventually, hunters shoot these deer and then serve up this poisoned flesh right on their own dinner tables. Need I even remind that these lawn chemicals are totally unfit for human consumption and are inconsistent to life itself?

By this time, the growing out of control grass requires the revving up of the lawnmowers… thereby saturating the air with unburnt petrol and the greenhouse gas, Carbon Dioxide. Any increase of CO2 eventually causes the grass to grow even faster… necessitating even more frequent mowing. A vicious cycle is born.

Around and around and around it goes and where / when it stops… nobody knows.

SIDEBAR #4: In my younger days, I was asthmatic and, although my symptoms have eased up thanks to a decade’s worth of allergy shot therapy, it is still not unusual for me to still feel a bit sick whenever I smell that combination of fresh cut grass / unburnt gas.

Of course, this frequent mowing schedule also causes the fragile blades of grass to turn sickly brown. Then in a pathetic panic, often the split second after these groundskeepers kill their lawnmower engines, that’s when they turn on the sprinklers… and then these oft poorly monitored, irrigation systems run and run and run… sometimes even during rainstorms! Collectively, they waste multimillions of gallons of our precious drinking water.

SIDEBAR #5: Whenever I see these out of control sprinklers I am reminded of these sobering facts: ONE BILLION people in our world have no access to safe drinking water. 5000 people drinking contaminated water die each day!

Since many of our ecological problems start with the use/abuse of lawn chemicals, I have to ask, what’s the big deal if a mixture of clover and other greenery grows amongst the blades of grass? After all, a more botanically heterogeneous lawn requires less mowing and watering so, even in times of drought, it’s less prone to withering and turning brown.

Beyond the global warming and the consequent catastrophic, violent climate change… beyond the perils to ALL life on Earth… the multimillions of bucks blown on gasoline used to run lawnmowers, sooner or later, wind up in the pockets of terrorist organizations.

Unless there’s a drastic attitude adjustment, all the life on Earth is doomed to die just to sate the lawn care industry’s greed… and the consumers’ lust… for the “to die for” lawn.