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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, July 12, 2024

If I Was King

 The United States is at a crossroads. The Supreme Court in giving the Presidency immunity so that now the office has unlimited power just shredded the constitution. The president can now order Seal Team Six to kill anyone he/she wants.

Our choice now is do we elect an Augustus, who stabilized the empire and got it back on its feet after decades of civil war, or elect a Caligula, who is in it only for his pleasure.

This made me fantasize. What if I was in Biden’s shoes right now, what kind of executive order would I write?

Name, not nominate, four experienced justices to the supreme court to be installed the first Monday in October 2024. Move the court back to ruling for the people not oligarchs. Reinstate Roe Vs Wade.

Revise the Electoral college. Reduce it to only the number of representatives in congress and delete the 100 senatorial electors. That would cut the electoral college from 535 to 435. States like North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and others would have only 1 electoral vote not three. California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Ohio… States with larger populations would have more say in who is elected president. The election should be about people not land.

Let the Dreamers become citizens. They’ve lived here all their lives; they are doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, scientists, and other productive professions. They deserve citizenship.

Make the rich contribute to Social Security. Elon Musk forced his stockholders to pay him 56 billion dollars after firing 15,000 workers. Making him pay FDIC would shore up the trust fund for many years, add the Waltons, and all the other .01% of the top 10% of the wealthiest Americans we would never fear it falling short of funds for millennia. It would barely make a dent in their Offshore Banks Accounts.

Stop all subsidies to major corporations. It’s not just oil companies that get federal subsidies. If those corporations are making record profits, they should pay taxes and not getting extra money out federal tax dollars.

Tax all religions. A church that gives over a certain percentage of their income to charity gets deductions. Small churches would benefit. Mega churches that can afford to pay their pastor 54 million dollars a year in salary should pay their fair share of supporting this country.

Put boots on the ground in Ukraine. All of NATO to put boots on the ground too. Call Putin’s bluff. Enough letting that aggressor cow us into inaction. NATO was created to stop Russian aggression. Its time make him pack up and leave. If he uses nuclear weapons, we’ll turn Moscow into a parking lot. The only thing that makes Russia, historically, back down is standing up to them with resolve.

Insert U. N. peacekeepers into Gaza. It will be their job to keep HAMAS from launching any more attacks on Israel.

Okay that’s enough of my ideas, if I were wearing the Purple. What would you do?

Thursday, July 04, 2024

They Got Us


In the movie Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan and the Americans have boarded the Russian sub. Ramias is about to turn over the sub when a torpedo is fired at them, it misses, but it's not over. The Russian sub fires again and the radio technician says, "I think they got us." They're all waiting to die. Then he says, "Way to go Dallas!"

The American sub, Dallas, has moved between the Russian attack sub and Red October. 
I use this as an example of what we are facing in this election when America as we know it is on the line again.
In 2020 Bill Maher's editorial on Real Time was a lament about the late great United States as he thought Trump would win a second term and with a six-puppet majority on the Supreme Court, he would set up a dictatorship.
It was close, so close that the election came down to 75 votes in Georgia and Vice President Mike Pence biting the bullet and confirming Biden as the President.
Way to go Georgia and Pence. They were our submarine, Dallas.
If the secretary of state in Georgia had done as Trump asked or if Pence had decided to not certify the election Trump might have been given the Presidency by the House of Representatives. And we would have been fucked.
After the debacle of the debate Biden is on the ropes. Many Dems are ready to jump ship and are asking for Biden to bow out and make an open Convention. In other words, pure chaos. The media is screaming he is not mentally able to run the country. As if Trump is?
The tame Supremes have just given the presidency Carte Blanche. Now the president is immune while in office. This has made the constitution a worthless piece of paper and a historical relic.
If Trump is elected hell on earth will happen. Bill Maher and other comedians who have made fun of the pussy grabber will be taken out and shot on national TV. Okay worst case scenario, but never underestimate Republicans when in power.
Trump has already said Liz Cheney will be arrested and imprisoned. He will most likely go after Hillary and Bill Clinton and the Obamas. He can do that now without a trial as the Constitution's forbidding a Bill of Attainder is now null and void.
Justice Soto Mayor in her dissent states "There would be nothing to stop the president from ordering Seal Team Six to assassinate a political opponent."
Nothing would stop Trump from declaring all the elections of democrats as null and void and installing the republicans in their place, giving him total control of the House, and most of the senate.

Here is my greatest fear:
The Republicans have lusted after the Social Security gold mine for decades. 
Under Clinton they pushed for taking the trust fund and giving it to Wall Street. Congress raided the fund for 20 years to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
There would be nothing to stop him from merging the trust fund with the Federal and all who rely on their monthly social security checks are shit out of luck. The same for Medicare. That would be half of my family retirement and my health care would be caput. Wife and I would lose everything with a stroke of that mother@#$%$#&'s pen.
What is the most angering is that so many my age and in the same economic condition will lose everything by voting for the asshole or not vote saying voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. Or Biden is too old because he has trouble remembering things on the fly.
Compared to Trump he's the picture of sanity and lucidity. Can anyone make sense of his ramblings in his speeches?
Remember when in a speech on the 4th of July 2018, Trump said we won the Revolutionary war because we captured the airports? Or when he drew the track of a hurricane going the wrong way? Or a million totally bizarre things he's said, and the media doesn't doubt his mental fitness to run the country.
The Republican's torpedo is coming for us, will there be another submarine Dallas to save us?


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Friend Now With the Lord.

 Yesterday a good friend passed away. It was sudden. For the two months I was going through radiation treatments, he was there for me giving me strength. He and his wife visited my mother when she was in the hospital with pneumonia and in senior living. He was the leader of our Sunday morning Bible study. I teach a Bible study class on Tuesday mornings and afterwards the group have breakfast at a local diner. Good times with good friends over good food. for years, even during Covid. We all thought he was indestructible. Three weeks ago, he said he'd been losing weight and loss of strength. Pet scan showed tumors all around his stomach. A few days after that he had a seizure and went into the hospital, He had a tumor removed from the back of his head four years ago and it had come back. He had an embolism, and the next day was bleeding from his side. It happened that fast. His obituary will have a long list of all the committees in our church and on the entire region (New Mexico and West Texas) of the United Methodists. He leaved a huge hole in our community.

Before Covid he took his truck and trailer to three elementary schools near him and collect the food they were going to throw away and took it to the Roadrunner Food Bank. After Covid APS won't let anyone do that anymore. There is twice as much need for this now as there was then. I've never known a kinder, gentler and someone who embodied true Christian love of neighbor in my life. He will be missed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Final Countdown


Springtime and the flowers are coming out.

Friday, I lugged my hundred-foot garden hose from the back yard to the front yard. Took the wind out of my sails.

There's a handy man neighbor that I'm now paying to get the yards cleared of weeds that have gone crazy with all the rain we had last month. I think I can handle the watering, whenever the wind isn't blowing a gale.

Today I have only 5 radiation treatments left. The real chore is having to drive 12.1 miles every day for a 15-minute treatment and then back.

The side effects so far have been Dysuria, that's a UTI without the infection, and diarrhea. It's a pain having to run to the bathroom so frequently. It hits me the hardest on Sundays. I've missed a number of Sundays at church, but I'm fine for Tuesday when I teach a class at 7:00 to our men's study group. We're going over Acts, then have breakfast at Wecks, a local diner.

This last Sunday I woke up with my heart racing at 116 to 121bpm. By the time we got dressed and wife drove me to urgent care it was back to normal. A side effect of the dysuria, dehydration.

The surprise was my doctor was a young lady with the last name Sandoval. I had to ask, "Do you know an Anthony Sandoval in Los Alamos?"

She's, his daughter. I told her I used to run against him in high school. He scratched out of the mile at state meet to try and set the state record in the 2-mile. That opened up for me to be state champion in the mile and got me my scholarship to college. That night when the 2-mile was run the winds were 40mph. He ran a 9:19 a couple of weeks earlier the state record was 9.32, but without competition and the wind he fell short.

She told me he closed his cardiology practice in Los Alamos and is an instructor at UNMH here in town.

Side note: Tony Sandoval finished 4th in the Olympic trials in 1976 in the marathon. He won the Olympic trials in the marathon in 1980, the year the U.S. boycotted the Olympics in Moscow.

When I walk into the cancer center there are check in clerks. One of them is a former student. She always greets me with a smile and waves as I come and leave. I gave her one of my books.

There are two men in I'd say early thirties that are the technicians for my treatments. I'm using a cane now and bought a golf chipper and got a pro shop at the golf course near me to attach a four-footed tip to it. I get a lot of comments on it, everyone thinks it's a putter, but today the putters are shaped too square or look like the Star Ship Enterprise and come with an extra wide grip. Both of the guys are golfers and that gives us a bit to talk about while they get me positioned and check to see if my bladder is full enough for the procedure.

Every Thursday after the treatment I meet with Dr. Garg where he asks me how things are going. (When I learned my doctor's name was Garg I mentioned to some people at church if he had ridges on his forehead. Those that laughed I knew to be Trekkies.)

Dr. Binder is my doctor for my long-term treatment. He's placed me on two powerful drugs, one I take four tablets a day for 1,000mgs. I can only get it by mail, and it comes in a bag with a hazard warning to not let women or children touch it. I'll be taking these drugs for at least a year and up to three years.

Then I get a chemo injection every 12 weeks for a year. The first one didn't seem to affect me and the only thing the pills have done is turn my normally oily skin bone dry.

I went to my dermatologist Monday, and she prescribed an oil I put on three times a day to clear up the Eczema that developed on my hands and arms. They're clearing up.

The one side affect the doctor's harp on is weight gain. I can see if you're fatigued and in bed most of the time you'll put on weight, but my energy level is fine. I've even lost 15 pounds. Seems my Ozempic is countering the weight gain and maybe why oncologists are now prescribing it.



Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Lesson from Gibbon: Diocletian


Lessons From Gibbon


Gibbon wrote the eight volumes from 1776 to 1830’s. Most historians refer to him, but today I don’t think many people want to read it anymore. His writing is archaic, stuffy, stilted, and dry. The audio version, the narrator drones without any inflection or emotion. Still better to listen instead of trying to read all eight volumes.

I discovered that there was actually a lot to learn from Eddie. Well from Julius Caesar up to Diocletian not much I didn’t already know. A few insights but most books on Roman history focus on the emperors at least through Commodus. Gibbon places the death of Commodus, when the Praetorian Guard put the next emperor up for auction, as the beginning of the decline.

This entered a time where any general with an army marched on Rome to name himself emperor. Some lasted for a few years others didn’t make it to a year.

The Germanic tribes on the other side of Rhine seized the weakness and invaded carving out parts of the empire. Mercenaries from tribes across the Rhine and Danube were used in the legions. Total chaos.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from Diocletian (284–305 CE):

· Diocletian pulled the empire out of chaos. Once he had total control of the empire, he realized it was too big and cumbersome for one person to rule. He divided it up into four areas and placed a handpicked man to rule each one. He took the title of Augustus and the other three had the title of Caesar. Each area was called a diocese, taken from his name. The Catholic church still uses this term for each area under the direction of a bishop.

· Eunuchs were used for the bureaucracy. Not able to sire children and have a family they were considered less likely to be corrupt. Main reason for Catholic priest being celibate. It didn’t work and still doesn’t for The Church.

· Diocletian instituted the most thorough and ruthless persecution of the Christians. He noticed that many temples throughout the empire were shuttered, and others were suffering from poor attendance and money from sacrifices.  The temples were a major source of money in time of need. They built up large treasuries and then loaned the money out acting as bankers making even more off interest. They were the dragon sitting on a pile of treasure. Whenever emperors needed money for holding off an invasion or putting down a rebellion, they would raid the temples of the hoarded gold and silver. If the temples are going out of business the monetary backup plan was gone.

· Christianity doesn’t have temples, and they don’t sacrifice animals to raise money. This was a serious hit on the temples dedicated to emperor worship. Which provided the personal income of the emperor.

· Diocletian issued an edict of Milan outlawing Christianity. Milan was where the emperor resided not in Rome. For three hundred years the Christians were persecuted sporadically, but in the chaos of the second and third centuries stayed under the radar and prospered. In the larger cities they built churches. Now was the time of empire wide intense persecution.

· Gibbon relates that the wealthy class became Christians from their slaves. Slaves flocked to the religion and then converted their masters.

· The middle class or merchants were the most opposed to Christianity as they didn’t like the idea of equality in the afterlife. They also worshipped gods that promised wealth. The military worshipped Mithras.

· This persecution nearly destroyed all the good work in restoring the empire Diocletian accomplished.

· Only the wealthy were condemned and suffered. Freemen and slaves, he didn’t care about. Domitian was after confiscating wealth.

· Gibbon added up all the lives lost to persecution from Nero to Diocletian his estimation of the total was 150,000. He compared this to the lives lost in the Netherlands during the 30 year’s war which was 100,000.

I downloaded The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon on Audio. It’s 108 hours. I also downloaded the Kindle edition for only two dollars. Comes in useful if I want to look up certain lessons. So far, I’m through the reign of Constantine to the end of paganism. That’s already 30 hours a long way to go yet.

Next edition will cover Constantine.

Patrick Prescott is a retired public-school teacher and author of: Optimus: Praetorian Guard, Stephanus, I Maury: The Life and Times of a Rebel, Human Sacrifices, The Fan Plan Tribology, Three Medieval Battles and others in e-books and paperbacks on Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Sunday's are the worst.


I'm three fifths of the way through radiation. Five weeks to go. One of the check-in clerks is a former student. I gave her a copy of Human Sacrifices. She is very friendly.

During the week I'm fine. My only problem is having enough in my bladder for treatment. Only once this week was I short and had to drink water for a few minutes before they let me in again and there was enough.

Last Sunday I had bad diabetic nerve pain when I woke up. It was up to my kneecaps. I go into church early to fix coffee and tea for our Friendship Cafe, between worship service and Sunday School. My wife had to fill in for me. I'm getting get well cards, even from good blogger buddy Berthold in Ohio. 

This week I came down with a UTI. Friday morning I went into urgent care at 6AM, I was the only customer and was seen right away. I didn't get out of there with a injection of anti-biotic and prescription until 10:00. I made it through radiation, but Friday night I was going about every ten minutes, same for all day Saturday. I got some sleep last night and it's settled down some, but I was afraid to go to church if I had to run to the bathroom too often. 

Reminds me of an old book title joke: Fifty Yards to the Out House written by Willie Make It and Illustrated by Betty Wont.

Linda has to make coffee again. I'm a tea drinker connoisseur. Plain old orange, black tea gets boring. And the person getting the coffee never had hot water for tea or hot chocolate and when she couldn't do it anymore, I volunteered. 

I started something, an elderly lady decided to hold an afternoon tea last year. Ten ladies took a table and sold tickets and on a Saturday afternoon they held a tea. They had three different snacks for three different types of tea. They had an auction. I donated a fancy tea pot inherited from my mother. We raised $1,500 for the Heifer Project. This year the tea is in late April the day after my last radiation treatment. Linda and daughter will host a table and the proceeds will go to local animal rescue groups. Not sure I'll be able to make it.

My cousin messaged me on fb after I posted about my treatments. She told me that she was fine through all of her treatments, but two months later she was leaking from every orifice in her body for a month. Seems it has a delayed reaction. Oh Joy!

I put the picture of Edward Gibbon on top. I got a copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on audio (108 hours), also a kindle copy for two bucks. So far, I've listened to 35 hours. I'm writing a series of articles that I'm posting on Medium entitled Lessons from Gibbon. It is filling in the time without rotting my brain streaming TV and giving me something to write about. I'll post them here too.

I'm confined to the bedroom as its closest to the bathroom, but I do have my faithful companion beside me to keep me company.

This is Sammie, she helped me through the time I fell and broke my hand and wrenched my back a few years ago. A good girl.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Hanging in there.

 I've had ten of the forty radiation treatments. So far, I've had few ill effects (knock on wood). Some loose stools and one night of the runs is about it.

I've started on the regimen of Zytiga and Prednisone without any loss of energy or other side effects mentioned. I'll be on this for a year of more.

I had my first chemo injection yesterday and will have them every three months for from a year to three.

I'm hanging in there for now.