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Electing the Unelectable

As I sit here writing about the election in the USA, I know that it is not going to turn out well.

It may seem that I feel hopeless, or depressed, but I’m not. The people of the United States have chosen and as we learn more about the candidates they sink lower in our estimation. That is, both the candidates and the people who inexplicably chose them.

Is anyone really surprised at this? Not many people who I know are surprised. I know many African-Americans who have never felt America was safe for them. I know many Muslims who have lived here a long time, but have never seen the inside of their American neighbors’ home. I know Christians who feel we are “brainwashed” when we talk about many Muslims being good people, who feel that refugees and immigrants are at least taking their jobs and that most will be admitted to the country with no screening.

My friends here in the States seem angry and unwilling to listen to reason or experience different from the voices of pundits who seem to control their thoughts by way of the airways.

So, what will be the outcome of the Election 2016? It would be a start if both candidates humbly sought forgiveness for their wrongdoing from the American people, and settled down to learn how to govern with transparency. This would be one of those miracles we pray for!

But, even the people who begin to govern with bright hope seem to finish in a quagmire of disillusionment. Maybe having no expectations is better than having high expectations like we did when Obama was elected.

Ending on a note of hope!







New York Jews Blast De Blasio Over AIPAC Speech

Rethinking Foreign Policy

A group of prominent Jewish leaders in New York have sent a letter to the city’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio sharply criticizing him for the fawning and kowtowing speech he secretly made to AIPAC. It’s short and to the point–AIPAC doesn’t speak for these Jews and, I’ll add, AIPAC doesn’t speak for most Jews or Israelis. It’s high time these people, who are not only causing immense harm to Palestinians but are also determined to lead Israelis over a cliff and US Jews to the end of the era of our history most free of anti-Semitism were confronted in no uncertain terms. They have money and hate, and nothing else. They represent no one but themselves.

Here is the letter:

View original post 302 more words

Freedom From Terror: MLK JR’s Legacy

“Your father and his brother, the mayor, came into the kitchen with a rope. They said a black man had raped a white woman and they were going out hunting for him. I was terrified.”

Until I was an adult, my mother had told me nothing about her dashing, handsome husband, my birth father.

She asked me not to look for him because he was “dangerous.” I honored her request until I was forty-seven years old, when I searched for and found my father, an old man living in South Georgia.

Mom was a beautiful, small town Northern Pennsylvania school teacher who had spent years caring for her sick mother. He, a charming Southern soldier on leave, had swept her off her feet. They married on a whim. On their honeymoon, he took her to visit his traditional, southern family where she discovered his true identity.

With a flare towards the romantic, mom picked her china pattern, ‘The Georgian’ by Homer Laughlin,  learned to make Southern Biscuits, got on a train back to Pennsylvania and seldom saw the man she married until after WWII.

He returned to discuss divorce, disown me, and disappear. He never appeared in our family story until I found him in his kitchen forty-seven years later.

“I always wondered what happened to you, but I never did anything about it.” sad words from my elderly father, as I sat at his knee bawling.

We spoke on the phone several times and then three months later he died. The end.  Yet my work was just beginning. I needed to forgive the trauma and loneliness, depression and anger that remained in me.

When I read this article, I remembered him again and thought about the terror he was responsible for in that Southern town so many years ago.


Why Do Our Medications Cost So Much?

Drug questions

Drug questions (Photo credit: Ano Lobb. @healthyrx)

Why do some Doctors choose the more costly medications when there are others available that are equally good?

Here’s a thought from an article in MotherJones.

Curing Blindness the Cheap Way vs. the Very, Very Expensive Way

| Sun Dec. 8, 2013 9:56 AM GMT

The Washington Post has a long piece today titled “An effective eye drug is available for $50. But many doctors choose a $2,000 alternative.”

It’s the story of Avastin vs. Lucentis, and it’s been making the rounds

for years. Oddly, despite the length of the story, the writers never

clearly explain precisely what’s going on.

You may recall the name Avastin because it’s been the subject of

numerous unflattering news stories. It was introduced in 2004 as a

cancer treatment, but it turns out to be mega-expensive even though it

usually provides only a few months of extra life. For an average-size

person, a single injection runs about 500 mg or so, and injections are required

every two weeks. Genentech sells Avastin in vials of 100 and 400 mg

priced at around $6 per mg, so a single dose costs around $3,000 and a

full treatment can end up costing anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 or


It turns out, however, that the Avastin molecule seemed like it might

also be promising for treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

(AMD), which can cause blindness in older patients. So Genentech created

a modfied version of the drug and started testing it. While that was

going on, however, a few opthamologists got impatient a decided to just

give Avastin a try. AMD treatment requires only slightly more than 1 mg

of Avastin, so they’d buy a 100 mg vial and then have it reformulated

into smaller doses. It seemed to worked great, but the evidence of a few

one-off treatments wasn’t as convincing as a full round of FDA clinical

testing. So when Genetech brought its modified drug to market under the

name Lucentis, it quickly became the treatment of choice for AMD. And

even though the required dosage was even smaller than the equivalent

Avastin dose, Genentech priced it at about $2,000.

Genentech, for obvious reasons, was very aggressively not

interested in testing Avastin for AMD. But others were, and over the

next few years several clinical trials were run. The results were pretty

clear: Avastin worked great. Genentech claimed that the clinical trials

showed that it was less safe than Lucentis, but virtually nobody bought

that. In some of the smaller trials, Avastin showed a slighly higher

incidence of adverse effects, but they were things that seemed

completely unrelated to the drugs themselves. It was most likely just a

statistical artifact. The opinion of the medical community is almost

unanimous that Avastin works just as well as Lucentis.

Last year, Medicare’s inspector general released a report on this subject

and concluded that the average physician cost for Lucentis ran to about

$1,928 vs. $26 per dose of Avastin (including drug and compounding

costs). Needless to say, since Medicare is prohibited from negotiating

prices or turning down treatments, there was nothing much they could do

about this. If Genentech wanted to sell Lucentis for $2,000, it could do

it. If doctors wanted to prescribe it, they could. And even though

Avastin worked just as well, Medicare couldn’t insist that it be used


You can draw your own conclusions from all this. In one sense, you

can sympathize with Genentech: they spent a bunch of money on clinical

trials for Lucentis, and they want to see a return on that investment.

The fact that AMD requires only a tiny dose doesn’t do anything to lower

their research and testing costs. On the other hand, they could have

done those trials a whole lot more cheaply using Avastin, but chose not

to since that would make it clear that Avastin worked just fine—and

Avastin, unfortunately, was already on the market at a price that was

very low in the small doses needed for AMD. Likewise, doctors could have

rebeled and refused to prescribe Lucentis, which would have benefited

their patients since Medicare beneficiaries pay 20 percent of the cost

of pharmaceuticals. But why would they? Lucentis is more convenient;

doctors don’t bear any of the higher cost themselves; and, in fact,

since Medicare reimburses them at cost plus 6 percent, prescribing

Lucentis earns them about $100 more per dose than prescribing Avastin.

Quite the pretty picture, isn’t it? And here’s the most ironic part:

Avastin continues to be widely used for cancer treatment, where it’s

extraordinarily costly and of only modest benefit, but isn’t used for

AMD, where it’s quite cheap and works well. This is lovely for

Genentech, but not so much for the rest of us. Isn’t American health

care great?

Here’s the link to longer article referred to in the Washington Post.


Raising Kids To Be Thankful


thankful (Photo credit: bondidwhat)

Our kids grew up in a developing country where they knew they were privileged and daily experienced the economic contrast between their lives and our friends. They learned qualities of generosity and gratitude from the example of their friends and neighbors who, despite their poverty, shared their possessions willingly and appreciated small gestures of friendship.

I never remember our kids demanding things that their wealthy friends had, though they may have wished for them. We often encouraged them to look at the neighbors living in the shacks around us, and to compare their lives with them rather than the ex-pat kids from the oil companies.

Living in the United States presents different problems, however. I wonder how we would have managed to raise thankful children in this age and culture?
While everyone has their own opinions, here are some ideas from an article I just read from Slate Magazine.
Advice for parents
Nov. 26 2013 11:45 PM

How to Raise Thankful Kids

It’s gonna take a lot of work.

Happy girl at Thanksgiving Dinner table
How do you teach your child gratitude?

Photo by Thinkstock

A few nights ago, after cleaning up from the play date I had organized for my 2½-year-old, changing his diaper, and refilling his water, I was about to start cooking him dinner before giving him a bath when the subject of Thanksgiving came up. He didn’t know what it was, so I tried to explain it to him. But somewhere between It’s a special day when we all think about how grateful we are for what we have and So, basically, it’s all about giving thanks, my son took off to terrorize our dog, and I was left stirring pasta that, five minutes later, I had to remind my son to thank me for. Continued:

Give Me Your Tired Your Poor

Give me your tired, your poor...

Give me your tired, your poor… (Photo credit: Katie Tegtmeyer)

Do you know any poor, hungry children?

A friend recently posted a film exposing the hunger problem here in the USA. It surprised me, that I’ve become so isolated from what must be large sections of the United States where hunger is a problem. See the excerpt here:

A Place At The Table

The film makes the point that in America we don’t think a child is severely hungry unless he or she looks like a skin-and-bones sub-Saharan sufferer. But all body types can qualify. In fact, as Raj Patel, the author of “Stuffed & Starved,” says, hunger and obesity, so often founded on cheap carbohydrates, are closely linked. “They are both signs of insufficient foods you need to be healthy.”

Many in our country will counter that the poor are hungry because they don’t know how to manage their lives. One such writer is Paul Roderick Gregory writing from the “front lines” for Forbes Magazine.


What are the real statistics? Who cares?

Here’s what I found from a reliable US source: http://www.bread.org/

Hunger and Poverty Facts

Heather Rude-Turner depends on EITC (earned income tax credit) to help support her family


  • 14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 16.2 million children—live in these households.
    Source: Household Food Security in the United States, 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011. (Table 1A, Table 1B)  
  • More than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger.
    Source: Household Food Security in the United States, 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011. (Table 1B, Table 3).

Child Nutrition

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)

Food Spending

  • Low-income households already spend a greater share of their income on food. Food accounts for 16.4 percent of spending for households making less than $10,000 per year compared to the U.S. average of 12.7 percent.
    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2006.


  • Participation in federal nutrition programs reduces the risk of girls becoming overweight by increasing access to an adequate, nutritious diet. School-aged girls enrolled in SNAP, school lunch, and school breakfast programs are 68 percent less likely to be overweight than food-insecure girls who do not participate in the programs.
    Source: Lower Risk of Overweight in School-aged Food-Insecure Girls Who Participate in Food Assistance. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vul. 157, No. 8, pp. 780-784, August 2003.


More than one in seven people in the United States lives below the poverty line, which is $22,113 for a family of four in 2010. More than one in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line. Source: 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplements from the Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011. 

  • Most Americans (51.4 percent) will live in poverty at some point before age 65.
    Source: Urban Institute, Transitioning In and Out of Poverty, 2007. 
  • 65 percent of low-income families have at least one working family member, and 79 percent of single mothers who head households work.
    Source: Income, Earnings, and Poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011. 
  • In most areas, a family of four needs to earn twice the poverty line to provide children with basic necessities.
    Source: National Center for Children in Poverty, Budgeting for Basic Needs, March 2009.  
  • Nationally, more than 44 percent of children live in low-income working families (families who earn less than twice the poverty line).
    Source: Income, Earnings, and Poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011.
  • A person working full-time at the minimum wage earns about $14,500 a year. The official poverty line for a family of three—one parent with two children—is $17,568.

Further Reading

Spotlight: Hunger and Poverty among African Americans

Did you know? One in four African-Americans lives below the federal poverty line, compared to about one in eight Americans overall.

As I was growing up, I seldom had fresh produce except what was in season from our garden in the summer. We ate a very basic diet consisting of canned and packaged foods bought once a month at a grocery store seven miles away. Our luxuries were beef, chicken, and tuna fish, never fresh fish. The vegetables we ate were carrots, potatoes and cabbage and green beans all very well cooked English and German style, seasoned only with salt and pepper. Our treats were baked bread, pies and other sweets.

To this day, I fight my craving for carbs and obesity haunts my body as it did my mom’s and many in her family. Thanks in part to our having access to fresh produce in grocery stores (a modern lifestyle) we eat very differently than mom and I did back in the 50’s and 60’s. However, mom read the latest nutritional findings and did the best she could. Health standards have changed a lot since I was a child.

I just wish that people making the decisions in Washington would step out of their imaginary” front lines” and visit the areas where people claim to be hungry. Give these families an afternoon of their time, and listen for their hungry bellies growling. Maybe it is all “manufactured”…but what if it isn’t?



Abortion After Tiller and the Slippery Slope

Elderly People sign

Elderly People sign (Photo credit: bensons)

Several weeks ago, friends of ours gave birth to a baby whom they knew would not survive. My daughter and many of her friends attended the funeral honoring this little boy, who had been well-loved by his family pre- birth and is mourned, by name, in death.

I thought of this family when I read the following article from the Witherspoon Institute which points out a changing approach to Abortion and presents clear evidence of a loosening of moral arguments against infanticide in our country.

Quality of life arguments naturally lead me to thoughts of euthanasia for non-productive elderly adults. How soon before lawmakers begin looking at our parents or ourselves in a future vegetative state and wonder whether they should prolong our lives?

“The “traditional Western ethic” holds that life is valuable and inviolate simply because human life is good and it is not ours to take. That ethic is increasingly challenged in our culture..”

Abortion After Tiller | Public Discourse.