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Medicare and the Republican Ticket

category_bug_politics.gif I've only glanced at this week's Republican convention coverage on the teevee because I can no longer bear either the faces or voices of the Ryan/Romney ticket, especially those two standard bearers, but many of their surrogates also.

So I read the news and transcripts after the fact of their speeches. It keeps me from feeling sick for the future of the United States and its people if the Republicans win the White House and Congress.

This is being written on Thursday so I do not know what Mitt Romney said yesterday evening. But that doesn't matter because he has bought into Paul Ryan's extremist future for Medicare. As Kaiser Health News notes:

”Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has embraced the broad outlines of Ryan’s proposal. Like Ryan, he would replace Medicare’s current defined-benefit coverage of all medical costs incurred by a beneficiary with a defined contribution toward premiums [vouchers] for private health insurance or traditional, government-run, Medicare.”

Medicare was the centerpiece of Ryan's speech on Wednesday evening although he hid the true nature of the changes he would make. Get a load of this claptrap:

"In Congress, when they take out the heavy books and wall charts about Medicare, my thoughts go back to a house on Garfield Street in Janesville,” said Ryan on that Tampa stage. “My wonderful grandma, Janet, had Alzheimer’s and moved in with Mom and me. Though she felt lost at times, we did all the little things that made her feel loved.

“We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it’s there for my Mom today. Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.”

Don't you like all those warm-and-fuzzies about his mother and grandmother? And that stuff about “honor” and “promise” and how he and Romney will “protect and strengthen Medicare.”

DO NOT BELIEVE A WORD OF IT. It is vital to the Ryan/Romney ticket to lull old people into believing the candidates are on their side because it is the only age group that polls higher for the Republicans than the Democrats. (It is forever to my deep chagrin the stupidity of the majority of old people who vote against their own best interests.)

What Ryan's Medicare plan really does is “protect and strengthen” private insurance companies. But it will impoverish many old people and add many others to the rolls of American citizens who cannot afford health coverage at all.

You probably know by now that Ryan's plan involves giving elders a voucher, a coupon if you will, to shop for private coverage. Here is how Kaiser Health explains the plan [emphasis added]:

”The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Ryan’s proposal from 2011 would require a typical 65-year-old person to pay thousands of dollars more for Medicare by 2030 than would be the case under its current structure.

“However, his latest plan, included in the fiscal 2013 House budget resolution, is missing key details, so the CBO has said it is unable to assess its impact on beneficiaries.

“Although Ryan would give future seniors the option of remaining in the traditional, government-run Medicare program, it would have to compete with private plans.

Critics predict that traditional Medicare could become unaffordable if it attracts the sickest people while private plans lure the healthiest. They also say that beneficiaries might have trouble finding physicians if they abandon the program because their rates are cut.

Nearly every time they speak, both Romney and Ryan attack Obamacare and vow to repeal it if they are elected - “on day one” according to Romney.

What they do not tell you is the moment a repeal is signed into law, Medicare recipients will lose the screenings and tests for a variety of conditions and illnesses that now come with Medicare and the doughnut hole, now being gradually closed a little more each year and saving elders thousands of dollars for prescription drugs, will immediately re-open to its full, original size.

Those are the ways Ryan/Romney intend to “honor the promise” of Medicare and in the deeply untruthful and hypocritical nature of the Republican campaign this year, Ryan accused President of Obama of being the one to destroy Medicare:

”An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for,” he told the party faithful on Wednesday. “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it."

It is a lie that the Affordable Care Act steals money from Medicare but as this now-infamous tweet shows, that does not matter to Ryan/Romney:


There were so many lies in Ryan's speech Wednesday evening that even Fox News called him out. Believe that there will be even more in the weeks leading up to election day. But the ones they are promulgating to keep old people on their side are about Medicare and Medicaid.

It is going to take a lot of money, persuasion and television ads from the Obama/Biden campaign to counter the Republican surge to maintain and expand their hold on elder voters, now at about 53 percent.

We who blog can help by repeatedly posting the truth and all of us can help by doing what we can to help friends and neighbors understand that a vote for Ryan/Romney is a vote to end Medicare - their children will never see it.

The Kaiser Health News FAQ I quoted above is a good starting place for clear, simple explanations of the Democratic and Republican Medicare positions and their probable results.

With apologies to Mike Lukovich; it is too good not to bend the rules today:

Lukovich Ryan Medicare

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Gussie Water

What is it Like to be Old?

Because I am a bit distracted this week while setting up and organizing a filing system for my new History of Old Age project, that's mostly what I've been thinking about. So today, I have a related question for you.

Small children and elders usually get on together quite well; they seem to have an innate understanding of one another. That often changes sometime around adolescence and thereafter, young people and even mid-aged people can be too caught up in their lives to pay much attention to old people or their lives.

Hence, Socrates' question to Cephalus quoted here yesterday: What is it like to be old? which would be the query version of the subtitle to this blog in the banner above.

My intention when I selected that phrase was that over time, if I went at it from every conceivable angle that presented itself, a picture, a feeling, a good, general idea of what getting old is really like might make itself clear or, at least, somewhat more clear to us.

What I realized yesterday and surprised me is that unlike Socrates, I've never directly asked that question of anyone. How could I have missed that.

Old age, to most people not yet aged, is like a foreign country they have not visited and indeed, that is exactly so. You can't really know it until you're there.

One of the most striking features of old age is its diversity. We age at dramatically different rates and some people in their fifties can be decrepit while some in their nineties are as sharp and nearly as capable as in their mid-years.

However that turns out for a given individual is due mostly to genetics, health and dumb luck.

Last week, geriatrician Bill Thomas noted in these pages that “As we get older we are less and less like our peers in every way." Pat Thane, the author of The Long History of Old Age agrees:

”'Old age' is a diverse phase of life partly because of its very length. It is said to extend from the fifth decade of life to past 100. By contrast both 'youth' and 'maturity' cover shorter timespans.”

Over the years of this blog, some readers who have been well into the years of old age have insisted they are not old, often quoting the adage, “you're only as old as you feel” which has always struck me as the ultimate in denial not to mention illogical: since you have never been as old as you are now, however that feels is what that age feels like.

So if anyone reading this is inclined to debate when exactly old age begins, please don't. If you like, we can do that another time. Today, I'm setting the onset of old age at an arbitrary 50 and I am deeply curious to read your answers to Socrates' question: What is it like – for you - to be old?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Earthquake Weather

The History of Old Age – A Beginning

I have recently begun a new project, one that will probably go on for a long time before I feel finished. It is, as the headline states, to study the history of old age.

It's going to be a lot of work because aside from no more than eight or ten books, the information is scattered hither and yon among many topics other than aging.

That's all right. I always enjoy the chase or, in this case, the chasing down.

Long History of Old Age cover It is starting out nicely with a beautiful British volume titled The Long History of Old Age edited by Pat Thane, a historian in London who has published several other books on the history of aging. I will get to those in time too.

This one, lavishly illustrated with images of old people from antiquity until now, discusses the ways that Western society has treated old people through all those centuries.

In the introductory chapter, Thane notes – as we here at Time Goes By sometimes mention – that conventional wisdom declares that past eras treated elders better than we do now. But that has almost never been true, according to Ms. Thane.

”Indeed,” she writes, “the belief still common today that older people are less respected than they 'used to be' is as old as old age itself.”

She then quotes from the opening pages of Plato's Republic, a section in which Socrates, on meeting the aged Cephalus, asks what it is like to be old.

Cephalus begins by relating the complaints of old men he knows who like to meet regularly:

”...most of them are full of woes; they hanker for the pleasure of their youth, remembering how they used to make love and drink and go to parties and the like, and thinking it is a great deprivation that they can't do so anymore.

“Life was good then, they think, whereas now they can hardly be said to live at all. And some of them grumble that their families show no respect for their age, and proceed to harp on the miseries old age brings.

“But, in my opinion, Socrates, they are putting the blame in the wrong place. For if old age were to blame, my experience would be the same as theirs, and so would that of all other old men. But in fact, I have met many whose feelings are quite different...

“In all this, and in the lack of respect their families show them, there is only one thing to blame; and that is not their old age, Socrates, but their character. For if men are sensible and good-tempered, old age is easy enough to bear; if not, youth as well as age is a burden.”

I've read through only the early chapters on ancient Greece and Rome and the beginnings of the Middle Ages, and the quotations from writers and philosophers of those times are as familiar in theme as what I read in today's publications about age.

Isadore of Seville whose life spanned the end of the classical era and the beginning of the early Middle Ages, sounds like he could be writing this blog:

“Old age brings with it many things, some good, some bad. Good, since it frees us from the most violent of masters: it imposes a limit on pleasures, it smashes the force of lust, it increases wisdom, and it grants wiser counsels.

“Bad, however, because advanced old age is most wretched in terms of both the disabilities it inflicts and the loathing it incurs.”

And always, always – then as now – people aspired to rejuvenation:

“Galen mentions the intriguing case of a contemporary Sophist who had, at the age of 40, published a book on how to avoid the effects of old age and remain perpetually young,” writes Thane.

“By the time this fellow turned 80, however, age had indeed taken its toll, making him appear shrivelled and dried out, and earning him general mockery.

“He then revised his book and brought out a second edition, stressing that only some individuals may enjoy eternal youth...”

There's one good thing about all the longevity gurus of today, all selling some kind of live-forever potion or pill: they too will meet the Sophist's fate.

Cicero uttered one of my favorite quotations: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” Thane quotes him about old age, words I had not read before and now, may take as my motto:

“Old age will only be respected if it fights for itself, maintains its rights, avoids dependence on anyone, and asserts control over its own to the last breath.”

This history project is one of the best ideas I've ever had. I'm already having a load of fun and if you enjoy this stuff, I'll keep you updated from time to time.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Stroppy: Policeman's Heel or Plantar Fasciitis

Becoming Your Parents

Remember, when you were a little kid, vowing NEVER to do THAT with your kids when you grew up? As it turned out, I had no children so I didn't get to test that particular pledge but there are a other ways I seem to have turned into my mother. Some are mildly interesting or amusing and others, I don't like at all.

I never thought I looked anything like my mother until a day about 15 years ago, five years after she had died. I was walking along the West 58th Street side of Bergdorf Goodman in New York and caught a shadowy image of myself reflected in a show window.

“What's my mother doing here?” I thought for a second. I spent a lot of time when I got home looking at my face in the mirror and worked out that it was the lower half of my face that looked so much like her. It still does. And for better or worse, I still wish that were not so.

My mother and I shared a great love of sexy, high-heeled shoes. Maybe I got that from her too. I was shocked when I visited her when she was in her early 60s to see her in a particularly unattractive pair of white, flat sandals. How could she? I mean those shoes were ug-glee.

As far as I could tell, she never wore high heels again and I resented that. I vowed (shades of childhood) that I would never give up three-inch heels. One day nearly 12 or 14 years ago as I got dressed for work, I slipped into my gorgeous sexy high heels and when I walked into the kitchen, I nearly passed out from the pain in my feet.

I knew I couldn't get through the day in those shoes, so I found a pair of scruffy old flats and hoped no one would notice. I tried every morning for a long time to get into a pair of high heels and never could again.

Sorry, Mom, for thinking you were such a fashion dud in your old age. I finally understand.

She was independent to a fault - “I'll do it myself!” - and that made her hard to get along with a lot of the time. And guess what? She taught me from the cradle to rely on myself for just about everything. And that makes me hard to get along with a lot of the time.

However, as she got older, she backed off sometimes and let others help out. And so I find myself doing that now too – just a little so far.

As I was getting wound up for a long list of this stuff, I decided to check around the web to see what others may have said about turning into our parents.

It didn't take long until I ran across a fabulous and funny take on the topic at the humor site, Cracked. An article there titled, 7 Scientific Reasons You'll Turn Out Just Like Your Parents, begins with this lead-in:

”Old people are cranky, slow and boring. Kids are noisy, restless and irritating. For most of us, life is about making sure we stay as awesome as we are right now...

“Well, science has some bad news for you. The behaviors of the elderly that you write off as old-person lameness, and your behavior that the elderly credit to dickish rebellion, are all based in biology. And no, you can't stop it.”

Ha! No way can I do any better than that about becoming my mom. So here's what else Cracked says:

Of the seven reasons, I disagree only with number 3: "You Will Stop Trying to Change the World (If You Are a Man)" although the explanation refers only to men so maybe that explains why I keep tilting at windmills.

The other six reasons are equally plausible and equally funny:

  1. Your Brain Will Stop Getting Pleasure from New Music
  2. The Physical Urge to Rebel Will Fade Away
  3. Your Brain Will Start Getting Pleasure from Boring Shit
  4. It Will Become Physically Impossible to Sleep In
  5. You Will Find Yourself Eating Bland Food, Because You Can't Taste It
  6. Your Memories of the Past Will Become "The Good Old Days"

You should go read the whole article by Michael Record. You'll recognize yourself in a lot of it and I promise it will make you laugh. After you've done that, come on back here and tell us how you are like your parents – or not.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Myopia

Some Practical Health Information

category_bug_journal2.gif Useful information arrives and sometimes it appears to be so obvious or has been so widely distributed in the media that it would be redundant for me to tell you about it. But maybe not; maybe some readers want or need to know this stuff.

So instead of one at a time, I've collected several items together in today's post about this year's flu shots, swift delivery of OTC drugs, boomers and Hep C, a new kind of colonoscopy and an extremely useful new nursing home database.

Influenza can be deadly for elders. Did you know that 90 percent of flu-related deaths and 60 percent of flu-related hospital stays occur in people 65 and older?

We are more vulnerable than younger people to the flu and to its complications because our immune systems are old and creaky. With that in mind, a special flu shot has been developed for us. In addition to the traditional one, there is a higher dose shot that addresses the immune system deficiency in elders by triggering the body to produce more antibodies.

Which dosage you take is your choice but flu shot season is here now and they are easily available. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has an informative FAQ online titled Flu + You [pdf] for more information.

A friend emailed to say:

You and your readers no doubt will find this advice superfluous, but Walmart is terrific for OTC drugs and vitamins, both in prices and low shipping costs. And unbelievably fast. I placed an order online yesterday and got it via FedEx Ground today.

Some people have a variety of political reasons to not shop Walmart and I have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view. But many times, low income trumps high-minded politics.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a recommendation that all boomers get a one-time blood test for the hepatitis-C virus (HCV).

”People born from 1945 through 1965 currently account for 75 percent of adults infected with hepatitis C in the U.S...

“Each year, more than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die from hepatitis C-related illness such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.”

Over the past decade, the number of deaths has been steadily increasing. However, there is good news too:

”New treatments are now available that can cure up to 75 percent of infections, and even more promising treatments are expected in the future.”

So arrange for the blood test with your physician – and it wouldn't hurt to have it done if you, like me, are a few years older than the boomers or a few years younger. You can read the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) letter about this here [pdf].

Everyone dreads having a colonoscopy or, more likely, hates the preparation for one – all those liters foul-tasting laxative. Now, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona has developed a new protocol that involves, instead, a cleansing agent of only four pills:

The new procedure is a virtual colonoscopy wherein the tiny camera inserted into the body is replaced with a "CT colonography" that provides three-dimensional imaging of the colon and rectum. Here is radiologist Dr. C. Daniel Johnson, who developed the new protocol, explaining it:

The Mayo Clinic has found the CT colonography to be

"...highly accurate for detection of intermediate (6-9 millimeters) and large (greater than 1 centimeter) polyps. Because the majority of patients will not have a polyp, no further workup is necessary.

"Only the 12 percent of patients identified with a polyp during a colonography would then need to have a colonoscopy."

You can read more about all this at the Mayo Clinic website.

Earlier this month, ProPublica launched its Nursing Home Inspect "app" – an online tool

"...that allows anyone to easily search and analyze the details of recent nursing home inspections, most completed since January 2011. "As of today, that includes nearly 118,000 deficiencies cited against 14,565 homes, but we will add more each month as new reports become available."

The reports were posted online in July by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but were difficult to search. ProPublica's tool allows users to search all inspection reports at once and to sort the information in a variety of ways including state, city, nursing home names, type of deficiency and keywords.

The actual reports of the CMS inspectors are posted along with assigned grades for homes depending on severity of deficiencies. And, you can read the actual reports from CMS inspectors.

Most of the inspection reports date from January 2011, and will be updated monthly as those CMS reports become available. Here are the links you need to find out more and use this tool:

Nursing Home Inspect Tool

Tips on How to Use the Tool

Overview of Nursing Home Inspect Tool

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: My Friend, Margaret


PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


There are no cars that rival the Cadillac in iconic status even though the Germans make better cars, the Italians sexier ones and the Swedes safer ones. Also, when was the last time you heard a song about a Kia?

Okay, I’ll acknowledge the Ferrari but there are few songs written about it, so it’s not really useful for a music column.


The second song (the first is down below) I thought of when Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I started pondering what to include is this one by WARREN SMITH.

Warren Smith

Warren learned to play the guitar while he was in the air force. He decided to make a career of music and played clubs around Arkansas and Tennessee upon his discharge.He caught the ear of a couple of local musicians who recommended him to Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

His first several releases actually outsold those of fellow Sun alumni, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Well, who’s ever heard of them? This is one of those hits, Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache.

♫ Warren Smith - Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache

ALBERT KING was one of the Kings of the Blues, a subject I’ve covered in a previous column.

Albert King

Albert liked to call himself B.B. King’s half-brother as they were born in the same town in Mississippi. However, his birth surname was Nelson and they weren’t related.

Their guitar styles are similar although B.B.’s is more refined (if I can use that word when referring to the blues) and Albert’s singing reminds me somewhat of Bobby “Blue” Bland. Not a bad thing.

Anyway, here’s Albert with Cadillac Assembly Line.

♫ Albert King - Cadillac Assembly Line

The A.M. Insisted CHUCK BERRY be included. After all, he wrote so many songs about cars so you know there’ll be a Cadillac in there somewhere.

Chuck Berry

She was right. It was in the very first song of his that became a hit. Rather surprisingly, Chuck wasn’t driving the Caddie in the song, he was in the V8 Ford. Maybellene was the one in the Coup de Ville.

♫ Chuck Berry - Maybellene

WILLIE DEVILLE recorded this song when he was still theoretically a band, Mink DeVille.

Willy DeVille

With a name like that, you’d expect a Cadillac song. Willy and his band were usually lumped in with the punks and others at CBGBs mainly because they played there for some considerable time. He was a lot more interesting than that narrow slot.

There were blues influences, a lot of New Orleans, some jazz and lots more besides as became evident in his later solo albums. Here’s Willy when he still went by Mink DeVille with Cadillac Walk.

♫ Willy DeVille - Cadillac Walk


DADDY COOL was one of the greatest rock groups Australia produced and certainly a favorite of mine.

Daddy Cool

Their heyday was the early seventies. They didn’t last long as a group and each of the four members went on to produce interesting music elsewhere. They get back together every now and then to play and occasionally record, usually when Ross Wilson feels like it.

There are few people in this country who don’t like them. There’s a famous story about Ross Hannaford, the lead guitarist, and one of his later groups. One time, Bob Dylan was touring and some members of his backing band went to the club where Ross and crew were playing.

After the gig, one of Bob’s group said to the others, “It’s lucky Bob didn’t come with us, we’d all be sacked.”

This is Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac.

♫ Daddy Cool - Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac

The EVERLY BROTHERS had a rather acrimonious split for about ten years. After their reconciliation, due in large part to Albert Lee, they recorded several really good albums.

Everly Brothers

Maybe the best of those albums was one called “Born Yesterday.” This had some of their own songs as well as excellent covers of several of the finest songwriters around. It also had Albert playing lead guitar, something he did better than anyone around at the time. He’s still the best around.

One of the songs they covered was written by the wonderfully named Larry Raspberry, Always Drive a Cadillac.

♫ Everly Brothers - Always Drive a Cadillac

An interesting track I found in the A.M.’s collection is by MAURICE KING AND HIS WOLVERINES.

Maurice King

Not shown in that photo is the singer, by the name of Bea Baker.

Bea Baker

Bea went on to a successful solo career when she changed her name to LaVern Baker.

One of Maurice’s earlier gigs was to front the all-female band the Sweethearts of Rhythm (well, all but him I guess). Later with the Wolverines, he discovered Johnnie Ray. Johnnie later said that Maurice and LaVern taught him all he knew about show biz.

Here’s the group with I Want a Lavender Cadillac.

♫ Maurice King and His Wolverines - I Want a Lavender Cadillac

JIMMY LIGGINS started a band called the Drops of Joy after his big brother Joe did the same with The Honeydrippers.

Jimmy Liggins

Jimmy started out as a boxer but he left that and became chauffeur and general roustabout for his brother. Inspired by him, as I said, he formed his own band.

After playing the traps for a bit, he was signed to Specialty records. The song Cadillac Boogie was released in 1947 and was his second record. It was quite a hit.

You can hear the influence this song had on his brother’s song, Rocket 88, that’s generally considered the first rock & roll song (although there are many contenders for that title).

♫ Jimmy Liggins - Cadillac Boogie

THE JESTERS recorded for Sun records but after its heyday of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and yes, Warren Smith.

The Jesters

I guess it was easy for them to get signed to the label as one of the group’s guitarists was Sam Phillips’s son and another son produced this record. The song Cadillac Man was released in 1966, around the time English groups were everywhere so it disappeared, not without a trace, but without much notice.

It sounds as if it had been recorded a decade earlier but that’s no bad thing. The group, and this song in particular, has been described as “garage band rockabilly.” I guess it is that, but to me it’s just blazing rock & roll.

♫ The Jesters - Cadillac Man

This is the first tune we thought of for this category but as time went on it kept slipping further and further down the list until it fell off entirely. Then I thought: no it has to be included.

So, there’s a perfectly good jump blues track that got the flick just so this one can be present. I hope you appreciate it. It is THE PLAYMATES with their only hit, Beep Beep.

The Playmates

In the interest of openness, I should report that I discovered some rather interesting pictures when I went online looking for photos of The Playmates. The things I have to endure for you all.

The Playmates were a trio consisting of Chick Hetti (real name Carl Cicchetti), Donny Conn (Donald Claps) and Morey Carr (I guess he was satisfied with his name). Unusually for the time, they played their own instruments as well. Here’s that song.

♫ The Playmates - Beep Beep


FYI: I drive a Toyota Yaris. It’s a red one so it goes faster.


I had finished writing today's Interesting Stuff on Friday when some Mitt Romney news arrived that is too odious to leave until Monday. The regular potpourri of the Saturday post will return next week.

What Romney did was make a deliberate, naked appeal to birthers. It's been a nasty campaign but until now, I would not have believed that any candidate for the top elected office in the land would openly stoke racial resentment against his opponent. One of his surrogates might (in this case, Donald Trump has done so), but never the candidate himself. I was wrong. Take a look.

Did you hear that? Not only did a presidential contender pander to them, the crowd of his supporters laughed and cheered. Those are our fellow Americans. I don't know what country I live in anymore.

To be absolutely clear about what Romney said, here is the transcript [emphasis added]:

“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital, I was born in Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.

The Romney campaign tried to dismiss this as a joke gone a little wrong. But it is not funny - to make that claim is a further insult - and no personal apology from Romney can be believed. If it could, he would not have made the "joke" in the first place.

Through the next hour or two following Romney's birther-baiting, I heard a bunch of white, left-leaning TV pundits, one after the other, dismiss Romney's objectionable speech as just another gaffe - nothing to see here, folks, move along.

Really?! Where I come from, if you support and indulge bigotry, you are one with it. But as far as I can tell as of early this morning, the media is treating this as the least important Romney event of the week and they are wrong: it is at least equal with Todd Akin's outrage against women.

I know Romney's political party will not repudiate him and I know there is no such thing anymore in our country as outrage or, alternately, shame and this will cost Romney nothing. But it should.

In a less debased political world, Romney would be consigned to the same category of ignominy as Lance Armstrong was yesterday. But he won't be. The election campaign will go on as if this never happened and it should not.

Dr. Bill Thomas Does My Work For Me

category_bug_journal2.gif Not long ago, an announcement of a new study from Cambridge Journals about amazingly young-functioning memory and cognition discovered in some 80-year-olds dropped into my inbox.

I was busy so I skimmed the report and set it aside for a more careful reading later. But a tick in the back of my mind just would not shut up – it kept saying there was something off about the report and when I got around to a closer reading, I was convinced the study did not hold water.

But wait, wait, wait, I reminded myself. The three researchers are associated with Northwestern University Chicago, they know all about things like neuropsychology, have strings of letters behind their names and their article was peer-reviewed before publication in Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

I, on the other hand, hold a high school diploma; who am I to question their paper.

So it went onto a to-do stack on my desk meaning that I might get around to some comparative research, or maybe not. But then, I saw a blog post from my old friend, geriatrician Bill Thomas.

If you've been hanging out at TGB for any length of time, you know that Bill wrote what I believe is the best book ever on aging, What Are Old People For?. It is one of a handful of books I regularly consult on issues of aging.

Bill is also the founder of a pioneering philosophy and concept of more compassionate long term care for elders called the Eden Alternative and most recently, he published a novel, Tribes of Eden, a fast-paced, thriller that relies on the bonds between youth and elders to save the day.

Okay, way too much background. By the time I ran across Bill's blog post about the same study, I had noticed that it – the study – was getting a lot of play in the mainstream press so it might be important for me to deal with it here at TGB.

It was still giving me heartburn and I'd not yet figured out why I did not believe it when the first two sentences of Bill's post about the study caught my eye:

”I would, normally, expect better from the people at Cambridge Journals. However this write up sent me over the edge.”

The general premise of the study is this:

”Researchers who studied the group have dubbed them ‘SuperAgers’ because of their brain’s ability to keep the aging process at bay. The research team say their findings prove that loss of our little grey cells is not necessarily an unavoidable part of aging. The results may have implications for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.”

As I said in the title up there at the top, Bill has done my work for me. Statement by statement, he takes apart the report of the study he read along with the study itself:

“'SuperAgers' — really? And this: 'The research team say their findings prove that loss of our little grey cells is not necessarily an unavoidable part of aging.' I seriously doubt that the actual researchers said anything like this in the actual study. This is claptrap.”

Another assumption from the study:

”In a finding the researchers describe as ‘remarkable’, the SuperAgers emerged from the tests with brain power akin to those in the 50-65 age range and significantly better than their peers in their eighties.”

Bill's response:

”There is a simple common understanding in the field of aging that explains this — the term is 'pleiotropy.' Guess what, I can replicate this result with a wide variety of other physical and mental attributes.

“As we get older we are less and less like our peers in every way. Older people are a very diverse population and therefore it is easy to select a group of older people who, in some ways, resemble younger people.”

And further on, Bill concluded that “the study proves nothing.”

If not for Bill, I was going to need to do a whole lot of research - first, to figure out why I had a feeling something was wrong with the study; then to find out what that is; and then how to write it up fairly. Whew!

Can you hear me shouting, “Thank you, Bill?”

There is a whole lot of “claptrap” out there about aging, even in academic circles. And it's deeply important for us to read critically – and here's another good idea: let Dr. Bill Thomas help us out.

Please go read his whole blog post.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Stroppy: Cramps

The Amazing Cultural Gulf Between Young and Old

As the latest freshman class prepares to enter college at this time each year, Beloit College issues its annual Mindset List which, as stated on the website, gives us “a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.”

The school has been doing the list for about 15 years and I never tire of it. Never tire of being reminded, at my age (now 71), of the enormous gulf of experience between me and 18-year-old students.

Beloit's introduction to this year's list tells us that the class of 2016, most born in 1994,

”...are probably the most tribal generation in history and they despise being separated from contact with friends. They prefer to watch television everywhere except on a television, have seen a woman lead the U.S. State Department for most of their lives, and can carry school books - those that are not on their e-readers - in backpacks that roll.

“[They have] spent much of their lives helping their parents understand that you don’t take pictures on 'film' and that CDs and DVDs are not 'tapes'...In these students’ lifetimes, with MP3 players and iPods, they seldom listen to the car radio. A quarter of the entering students already have suffered some hearing loss...

“They have never needed an actual airline 'ticket,' a set of bound encyclopedias, or Romper Room.

Each year a few of the items baffle me (“Billy Graham is as familiar to them as Otto Graham was to their parents.”). There are always too many sports references, and several always feel like filler with no useful impact (“Little Caesar has always been proclaiming 'Pizza Pizza.'”)

Even so, some of the list is thought-provoking – for a few minutes, anyway. Don't make too big a deal of this.

Here are a few items that are noteworthy - even, in a couple of cases, mildly shocking to me:

The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.

The paradox "too big to fail" has been, for their generation, what "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" was for their grandparents'.

Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.

Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.

While the iconic TV series for their older siblings was the sci-fi show Lost, for them it’s Breaking Bad, a gritty crime story motivated by desperate economic circumstances.

They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.

Two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.

You can read the entire 2012 Mindset List at the Beloit College website.

(Hat tip to Steve Kemp for reminding me of the list.)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Metamorphosis

Akin, Republicans, Women, Elders

category_bug_politics.gif In yesterday's post I asked that we leave discussion of Todd Akin for another day. That day would be now.

It is important for us at Time Goes By to talk about this because elders are the only people on earth who know first-hand what life would be like if Akin and so many other Republican leaders succeed in rolling back every advance made in women's health issues during our lifetimes.

Certainly you know about Todd Akin by now. He's the Republican representative from Missouri running against Claire McCaskill for the Senate who revealed his monumental ignorance of human reproduction on Monday by telling an interviewer that women cannot get pregnant from rape.

Not only that, he thinks that if pregnancy threatens a woman's life, her physician should have the power of discretion to choose which to save, baby or mother. Here's the Akin video that set off a media/political firestorm on Monday:

Did you catch that Akin believes in degrees of rape. The phrase, “legitimate rape” has now entered the foul lexicon of the Republican attempts to legislate control of women's bodies.

The cable news channels pretty much dropped all other news on Monday and Tuesday while women (and men) throughout the country went ballistic – as they should – over Akin's statement.

It is disaster for the Republican Party which immediately pulled funding from Akin's campaign as a growing number of Republican leaders called for him to withdraw from the Senate race. He refused (which I believe is really good news for his Democratic opponent). President Barack Obama was, of course, asked about Akin's statement:

“Way out there,” is how the president characterizes Akin on the subject of abortion. I'd say “delusional” and question his competency to hold public office where votes that affect the lives of 314 million people are required. But that's just me.

Given the avalanche of media coverage on Akin, the Ryan/Romney campaign at first issued a strikingly short and subdued statement to Huffington Post through a spokesperson, Andrea Saul:

“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”

That's not what Ryan said in the past. From Salon on Monday:

”...the spokesperson’s statement represents a flip-flop for Ryan, who has proposed and supported legislation that would outlaw abortion with no exception for rape.

“Ryan has earned a “100 percent pro-life voting record” from the National Right to Life Committee during his 14 years in Congress. NARAL, the pro-choice group, looked at 59 key votes on abortion, and found that Ryan voted the anti-choice position on every single one.”

And do not forget that Ryan co-sponsored with Todd Akin the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that introduced to federal lawmaking the notion of “forcible rape.” As opposed to what other kind of rape? You tell me.

Another Romney spokesperson, Andrea Henneberg, pointedly omitted Ryan's name from her follow-up statement as Akin outrage skyrocketed on Monday:

“Mitt Romney’s position is clear: He is pro-life. He opposes abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.”

Perhaps that position is not as definitive as it sounds (which is always true about Romney, isn't it.) Here is what ABC-TV reported last fall:

”Dogged through the primary by his conservative challengers about his switch from being a pro-abortion governor to an anti-abortion presidential candidate, Romney honed his pro-life position, telling [Diane] Sawyer he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"'I would love the Supreme Court to say, 'Let's send this back to the states.' Rather than having a federal mandate through Roe v. Wade, let the states again consider this issue state by state, he said.”

And, inevitably, many states would outlaw abortion. Romney, more than any other prominent anti-abortion supporter, should be ashamed of himself. A young relative of his died as the result of a botched, backstreet abortion.

Most elders at Time Goes By have, like Mr. Romney, probably experienced the anguish of unwanted pregnancy, whether ourselves or with a friend or relative. Young people don't have that direct experience of life for women before Roe v. Wade. They don't know about deaths from coathanger abortions that we know – to which we want never to return.

I believe what Romney, Ryan, Akin and all the other men who so closely parse the details of female reproduction want is control over women's bodies. Republicans have been on an especially vicious campaign against women for the past year, but it is hardly new. And it is always Republicans. Always men. With their brutal and cruel attempts to turn women into chattel:

  • Redefining rape down
  • Excluding all exceptions to abortion
  • Killing physicians who perform abortions
  • Cutting funding for abortion for poor women
  • Defunding Planned Parenthood
  • Legislating state vaginal examinations
  • Disallowing contraception
  • Congressional hearings with no women testifying

Have I missed anything?

In one form or another, this has been going on since Roe v. Wade in 1973. There are a large number of American men who are livid at the Supreme Court decision that together with the advent of reliable contraception removed their ancient "right" to control women's lives by keeping them barefoot and pregnant.

But every now and then, one of those primitives strays so far across the current line of talking points that even his usual compatriots desert him, as happened with Akin. Republican heavyweights piled on, bleating for him to withdraw from the race and it took Akin less than 24 hours to issue a disavowal:

What a pathetic piece of passive-aggressive horseshit. And neither Romney nor Ryan, in response, have made a definitive statement in support of women's reproductive rights.

The only good to come of Akin defying the Republican Party and staying in the race is this: there is a much better chance that enough women in Missouri now know where Akin stands giving Democrat Claire McCaskill a good shot to retain that Senate seat.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Sometimes Fewer Words are Better

Ryan/Romney - The Upside Down Presidential Ticket

category_bug_politics.gif It was over in all but name for Mitt Romney the minute word leaked he had chosen (or was told to choose?) Paul Ryan as his running mate. The media flock to Ryan and his budget plan because however unserious and abhorrent the plan is, Ryan - unlike Romney - actually has a plan.

Whether or not he is committed to it is different question I will get to below, but first:

Reporters and pundits who require something to talk about, and those voters who are still naïve enough to believe any of this kabuki campaigning matters, knew who would drive the Republican side of this election cycle the minute Ryan trotted up to the microphone on that navy ship on August 11.

At that moment Ryan, a dynamic speaker who projects an easy camaraderie on the hustings, became the star attraction and it has proved to be more than the usually short-lived nomination bump.

Romney's position as presidential nominee is now no more than a formality. This photo (snitched from TalkingPointsMemo), says all you need to know about who matters on the Republican ticket and to Republicans in general.

Romney Ryan

Oh, sure, if the team is elected, it's Romney who will move into the White House and he will do the bidding of the Koch brothers et al. But it is Ryan who will set the policy because Romney has none - and depending on the party division in Congress, it is Ryan who will accomplish whatever can be done to further the conservative agenda there. (Not that I'm eager to be proved right about this.)

Meanwhile, for the next 11 weeks, we will see Romney trying to assert himself as Ryan and his policies take center stage, becoming the Republican policies.

Currently, it is Medicare that Ryan has usurped. For months, the only thing anyone has known about Romney's healthcare plan is that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act his first day in office.

Yeah, right. As if Congress isn't needed for that. Could it be Romney doesn't know that and thinks, as president, he can act by fiat as when he was a CEO?

And you almost (but not really) feel sorry for Romney when he meekly tells an interviewer that he too – not just Ryan - has a health plan, or when his campaign asserts in a blog post that his plan is different from Ryan's because it wipes out $716 billion in Medicare cuts that Ryan's budget keeps.

Since no one is listening to Romney about this, let's just stipulate that the Ryan healthcare plan is now the Republican healthcare plan and move on.

There is something much bigger you absolutely need to know about Ryan's bedrock political beliefs.

Before that, let's list a few of Ryan's bona fides as a long-time, right-wing extremist on some social issues:

Abortion: Life begins at fertilization. Period. He is a co-sponsor of a bill (with now-notorious Todd Akin - let's discuss that another day) that would define fetuses as people with all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood which would, obviously, outlaw all abortion and many forms of birth control.

Family Planning: Throughout his career in the House, he has voted against funding Planned Parenthood, against the Title X family planning program, has criticized President Barack Obama's effort to guarantee free contraception for women and just for good measure, he would defund NPR.

Marriage: In 2006, he voted for an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman and supported 2009 legislation in Wisconsin to not recognize other states' same-sex-marriages.

Guns: An avid hunter, Ryan voted in 2011 for a gun-rights bill under which a permit to carry a concealed weapon in one state would be valid in most other states.

As important as those issues are, for most people it's still the economy, stupid. Ryan's budget, particularly in our trying times, is as cruel as his social issue policies.

Generally, he opposes use of government money to help any American people who are not rich – not with food assistance, mortgage aid, education grants, infrastructure, food safety and much more.

There is also the now well-known provision to turn Medicaid into a block grant to states that would drastically cut the number of disabled and elder poor who could be helped, along with the coupon program for Medicare that would cost beneficiaries anywhere from $2400 to $6500 more than they pay now. And he wants to privatize Social Security.

All that with big cuts to the top tax brackets and corporations.

Ryan has vehemently attacked the 2009 stimulus calling it a “monstrosity” and “wasteful spending spree,” has aggressively labeled it a failure and opposes all forms of deficit spending.

Now, I want you keep all these points about Ryan in mind while you watch this extraordinary piece of video that Chris Hayes and his staff at his MSNBC program Up aired this weekend. It is Paul Ryan speaking on the floor of Congress during the 2002 recession.

Note carefully at the end when he explains that deficit spending will get the economy moving again and that would solve the shortfalls straining Medicare and Social Security; he's pretty close to correct even for today.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So which is the real Paul Ryan? The reasonable man of 2002 who passionately urged his fellow Congress members to extend unemployment benefits, health coverage and other means to get the nation back to work via deficit spending?

Or the 2012 extremist ideologue who would coldly consign millions of the poorest Americans to what would likely be an early death while pushing the middle class toward a similar catastrophe?

What do you think could have happened to Paul Ryan over a decade to reverse his economic positions as dramatically as his selection as vice presidential candidate as turned the Republican ticket upside down?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: The Clean Saddle Oxfords

The Grandmother Gene

EDITOR'S NOTE: I am deep in the weeds on the Ryan/Romney plans for Medicare and Social Security and could use some extra time. So here's a very old post I like from the earliest days of this blog, 2004, updated slightly from the original.

category_bug_journal2.gif Because I was thinking a week or so ago about looking grandmotherish, it’s a good time to mention my theory of the grandmother gene.

When I was in high school in the mid-1950s, it was more common for girl graduates to get married and have babies than go to college. Some even dropped out a year or two early to get married and if they weren’t pregnant within a few months of the wedding, there was some heavy explaining to do to parents and in-laws.

A large number of the girls I knew in high school had a serious jones for babies. But that urgency never touched me in the same way. There was so much to know about the world, so many places to go, things to see, people to meet, books to read and I knew a husband and baby would hinder those quests.

When I did marry seven years later, I wanted some time to work out the relationship, find out what sharing a life, forever, was all about before I brought another person - one who would need full-time attention - into the mix.

When it turned out that forever lasts only six years, I was relieved to be divorcing sans a child or two. It was hard enough to start over while confronting all my own conflicts without having to juggle the emotional well-being of kids too.

I was 31 years old and I believed I had a long time before I needed to face the imperatives of my biological clock. Plus, the mommy thing still wasn’t registering strongly.

As my life crept toward 40, however, I had to take the baby matter seriously once and for all. After a year of private struggle to-and-fro-ing the issue, I decided against it. There was no one on the near-horizon I wanted to marry and I dismissed the idea of becoming a single mother because I believe, whatever might happen to a relationship later, it’s a good idea to give a kid a shot at both parents up front. And I still wasn't hearing the siren call of motherhood.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the postponement of babies and my final, late 30’s decision to forgo motherhood was that I didn’t much like kids. They’re loud, expensive, tend to get the sticky kind of dirty and they want you to pay attention - all the time.

I was way too focused on me, I believed, to be much good at that and what’s the point of having babies if you’re not going to give it your best effort. I would not feel unfulfilled without a child, I decided, and having settled the issue I moved on without a backward glance.

I have never lamented that decision. I have no doubts that it was the right one for me and I still feel pretty much the same way about kids in general except for the unexpected eruption at some point in my 50s of what I’ve come to think of as the grandmother gene.

Does this happen to every woman? Are we programmed for this even if we skip motherhood? Geez. I spent all my adult life diligently avoiding my friends’ children. I sent gifts. I showed up for christenings and the earliest birthday parties that are for the grownups anyway. I sent money at bar mitzvah time. But baby sit? Not a chance. When I gave parties, the invitations stipulated “no children.”

Then out of nowhere, I found myself going all gooey when I saw a mother in the street pushing a pram. I’d be rushing off to a meeting or a dinner with friends or just neighborhood shopping on Saturday and when an infant turned up in my view, I’d get all soggy at how cute the kid was.

Since this about-face, I’ve discovered all babies are cute and now I’ve even got what I consider a couple of kid friends.

I’m still not sorry I didn’t have children. Had I done so, I would have been a decent mother because I was born responsible and I take my obligations seriously. But I would have missed a lot of other things I've done in life and I suspect I would be sorry now about that. We choose different paths, each of us, and I am happy with mine.

Which is why I can’t figure out how this grandmother gene kicked in.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Who Put the Apple on My Car?

ELDER MUSIC: Washington Square Park

PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

category_bug_eldermusic Today we have music from the folk song revival of the early sixties. Early on, the folkies around Washington Square Park in New York (and elsewhere) sang traditional folk and blues songs. Eventually, some of them started writing their own.

About the first of those to do so, and I’m excluding the previous generation like Woody Guthrie and Huddie Leadbetter, was TOM PAXTON. Indeed, Tom started doing this some years before Bob Dylan did the same.

Tom Paxton

A lot of Tom’s songs were so good and sounded so timeless that people often considered them “trad” or “anon” (as they refer to such songs on the backs of record albums).

Rather than one of those really early songs, one you’d all recognize, here is a song from his great, neglected album, “Morning Again,” that has a couple of his best songs (and that’s saying something). It’s not a protest song, it’s just an observational one, Victoria Dines Alone.

♫ Tom Paxton - Victoria Dines Alone

It’s time to return a song to its rightful owner. There are some songs that get associated with certain people who perform cover versions and the original is often lost in the mix. This is one of them.

FRED NEIL wrote Everybody’s Talkin’ and recorded by far the best version and I’m going to play that one today.

Fred Neil

Fred was one of the early folkies in New York. Bob Dylan, in his memoir, said that Fred gave the young Bob a start by getting him up on stage to perform before anyone had heard of him. He also taught him more than a few guitar licks.

Fred recorded few albums but the ones he did were excellent, and he retired to Coconut Grove in Florida in the seventies where he remained for the rest of his life, living off the royalties from this song (and maybe a couple of others). Fred died in 2001.

♫ Fred Neil - Everybody's Talkin

JOAN BAEZ needs no introduction from me.

Joan Baez

It was through Joan’s music that I first started listening to these folks. Before that, it was rock & roll and then jazz, heavily into Miles and Monk, and a bit of Beethoven. When I first heard her, I thought oh, this is interesting.

I soon discovered Bob and the rest of them. I received a couple of her albums for Christmas or birthday (okay, I did drop a couple of subtle hints). Here is something from Joan’s first album, El Preso Número Nueve.

♫ Joan Baez - El Preso Número Nueve

PHIL OCHS was the real protest singer of all the Washington Square Park crew. He was also the most tragic of them.

Phil Ochs

Phil started out writing more songs and better songs than anyone at the time. Even Bob was in awe of the number and quality of his output. When Bob hit it big, Phil expected to be the next big thing, sort of the Dave Clark Five to The Beatles. It turns out that that is an apposite analogy.

Phil recorded one great album, “Pleasures of the Harbour,” and several decent ones and that’s about it. He never lost his wit, wry sense of humor and his commitment to great causes. I think it was that last that brought him down. He saw how the forces of reaction always seemed to win.

Plagued by bipolar disorder in the last years of his life and drinking to excess, his behavior became so erratic that his brother tried to intervene without success. Phil took his life in his sister’s house in 1976.

Here is Phil with a song that isn’t a protest song, Changes, a song that Joan Baez also performed really well, and it shows what might have been.

♫ Phil Ochs - Changes

JUDY COLLINS started her musical life as a classical pianist. She switched to guitar and became a folk singer. Later she performed art songs and even classical material and then started writing her own songs. Who knows what she’ll do next?

Well, I do. She’s coming to Melbourne soon as I write this although by the time you read it she’ll be long gone.

Judy Collins

After several okay but not outstanding albums, Judy hit her straps with her fifth album (that was its name) and the next several are as good as anyone was recording back then (and not just in the folk/singer/songwriter field either).

The song I’ve chosen was from that fifth album called The Coming of the Roads. This was written by Billy Edd Wheeler.

♫ Judy Collins - The Coming of the Roads

I’ve always been surprised that ERIC ANDERSEN didn’t make it bigger than he did. After all, he was good looking, sang and played well, made fine albums and wrote terrific songs. I guess you never know about such things.

Oh, here I am talking about him in the past tense and he’s still out there performing better than ever.

Eric Andersen

Eric was often considered a gentler version of Bob Dylan and I think the song, The Hustler demonstrates that very well.

♫ Eric Andersen - The Hustler

JUDY HENSKE seems to be the forgotten one whenever this topic is raised, so I’ll include her for that reason.

Judy Henske

She’s also present because she’s a fine singer. Judy began her career in San Diego and then Los Angeles where she worked with Lenny Bruce amongst others.

Then she teamed up with Dave Guard who was once the main man in the Kingston Trio. Judy then made it to Greenwich Village to join our merry gang.

Eventually she married Jerry Yester, one of the Lovin’ Spoonful and returned to California in the seventies.

They split around this time and Judy took up with musician Craig Doerge. She pretty much gave up performing but still continues to write songs.

This is the song that you’d know if you’ve ever heard Judy, High Flying Bird.

♫ Judy Henske - High Flying Bird

DAVE COHEN performed under that name, his birth name, and also under David Blue.

David Blue

He was a good friend of Bob Dylan’s and often appeared with him. He was also associated with Eric Andersen, Tom Paxton and others.

He only recorded a few albums but he could turn out a good song – The Eagles covered Outlaw Man on an early album of theirs. Later, he turned to acting and appeared in several films and did stage work as well.

Dave died of a heart attack at the age of 41 in 1982, while jogging in Washington Square Park. This is I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning, a song covered really well by David Bromberg.

♫ Dave Cohen - I Like To Sleep Late In The Morning

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE wrote the song that was Donovan’s first hit. Unfortunately, that song, Universal Soldier, is still relevant today.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Although it probably wasn’t Buffy's intention when she wrote it, many famous performers have covered the song featured today. Elvis did a very ordinary version, as did Glen Campbell. Cher, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and many others have had a go at it. None of them come close to Buffy’s original.

Of course, I’m sure she’s happy with the royalties. Here is Until It's Time for You to Go.

♫ Buffy Sainte-Marie - Until It's Time For You To Go

I don’t know what bright spark thought of adding strings and all manner of superfluous junk to TIM HARDIN's first couple of albums. This was an excessive, lily-gilding exercise. They should have done as for his third, a concert album, where he was backed by a small jazz combo. That was one of the finest concert albums ever.

Tim Hardin

However, in spite of what I just said, I’m going with a tune from one of those first albums. This is another case of restoring a song to its creator. Reason to Believe has been recorded by many people – The Dillards and Rod Stewart have the best cover versions.

Here we have Tim as it was originally recorded, strings and all.

♫ Tim Hardin - Reason to Believe

There are many missing from this list, most notably Bob Dylan but he’s been treated at length elsewhere. Also not present are Tom Rush, Dave Van Ronk, Odetta, Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Josh White, Oscar Brand, Richie Havens, Carolyn Hester, Sam Hinton, Richard Fariña and many others.

Obviously another column is called for.


Millie's Sunflowers

Time to celebrate. It's Millie Garfield's 87th birthday today. She is among the oldest elderbloggers around.

Millie recently sold her condo and moved a few miles down the road to Brooksby Village. That's a big deal when you are Millie's age and she has handled it magnificently. Now, she is getting settled in the smaller space and documenting all that with a lot of photos at her blog.

So get yourself over there right now and leave her your birthday wishes. She is an elderblogging treasure showing the rest of us how to grow old with grace, humor and aplomb.

Another 87-year-old blogger, Darlene Costner, sent us this lovely, fun video of a bird joining in with a bluegrass band. Be patient – the bird shows up at about one-and-a-half minutes in:

This came from Kathleen Noble of The Dassler Diaries. I've seen it before and may have posted it here in the past, although I can't find it. Never mind. It's magnificent and definitely worth watching again.

Even the most ungainly baby animals are cute. Here is a Caribbean flamingo at the Bronx Zoo last week, making his (or her) first appearance from under mama's wing – just three days old.

Particularly in her later years as editor of sexy women's magazine, Cosmopolitan, it was easy to mock the author of Sex and the Single Girl - the book that made her famous - and many did. But I saw her differently.

In the early 1980s, I was producing a profile of Helen Gurley Brown for the ABC-TV program, 20/20. At the same time, my father was dying 3,000 miles away in Oregon so I traveled back and forth every couple of weeks.

Helen Gurley Brown 1982 On the morning I was scheduled to survey Helen's office with the lead cameraman to determine what equipment we would need for the shoot, I had arrived in New York from Portland via the red-eye flight. Even so, I was pretty sure that a shower and change of clothes disguised my exhaustion and grief and indeed, I appeared to pass muster with the cameraman.

When Helen greet us in the lobby of Cosmopolitan, I was surprised that she remembered me from a couple of TV shows we'd done together a decade earlier but the shocker came with her first words: “Oh dear, Ronni, what's wrong?” At which point, I collapsed into her big, motherly hug.

She ordered tea for us in her office and we three talked about parents, losing loved ones, grief and such which was exactly what I needed at that moment. Yes, the cameraman and I still got our survey done for the shoot, but Helen Gurley Brown made a friend for life for being so caring to notice what I thought I'd hidden.

I'm not the only one on the receiving end of Helen's sensitivities. You can read stories about her kindnesses all over the web. This is a good place to start. Rest in peace, Helen.

One of my favorite websites about old people is written and produced by a very young (compared to me) man named Ari Seth Cohen. Here is what he says about what he does at Advanced Style:

”I roam the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks. Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest.

“Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age.

Perhaps some of you have already found Ari's blog via the Elderbloggers List. If not, it's worth spending some time with.

Ari also produces videos with elder fashion mavens. Here's a recent street interview on a blistering hot Manhattan day:

All of Advanced Styles' past videos are here.

By now, you undoubtedly have heard about the NASA scientist working on the Mars rover mission known at the Mohawk guy. His name is Bobak Ferdowski:

Mohawk-guy Bobak Ferdowski

When President Barack Obama called to congratulate NASA on a job well done, he noted this:

"I understand there is a special mohawk guy working on the mission. I thought about getting a mohawk myself but my team keeps on discouraging me.”

In the age of Photoshop, Mr. President, not a problem. Before long, this terrific, funny image arrived from @darth on Twitter:

Obama Mohawk

One of the best things about the last ten years of my working life was being with so many young techie types who kept me up to date on computers in general, web production and, of course, the latest cool things online.

I'm way behind these days so I'm just now catching up with the Mitt Bad Lip Reading meme although for all I know, I've come in at the tag end and it's almost over.

Here is first one I saw, one of the latest that comes with a warning: weird language and not safe for work or the grandkids. At first it seems just silly. But hang in for a little while; by about 40 seconds I was laughing my ass off.

I have recently discovered a young man named Destin who teaches all kinds of science at a YouTube website he calls Smarter Every Day. His big deal passion is rockets, but he knows all about all kinds of other science-y things too.

Today, I think a lot of you will like Destin's excellent experiments and explanation of the physics of how cats always land on their feet.

You would think there is not a soul alive brave enough to go anywhere near a mama bear's cub. But one woman did just that. First, however, here's the explanation from the YouTube page:

”Where, oh where, are my baby bears? Some baby bears got stuck in a dumpster overnight. Mama bear sat by the dumpster all night listening to her cubs cry. This kept my aunt's friends awake as well. Watch their rescue!”

I dunno – brave or foolish? See what you think:

TGB reader Bill sent this video for us. It was produced by one of Europe's largest banks (oh, dear; I wonder how it's doing) which explained:

”On the 130th anniversary of the founding of Banco Sabadell we wanted to pay homage to our city by means of the campaign "Som Sabadell" (We are Sabadell).

“This is the flashmob that we arranged as a final culmination with the participation of 100 people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l'Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.”

And now, from Sabadell in Catalonia, Spain. Gorgeous.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.

And the JOB! Book Winners Are...

A reader emailed about Wednesday's story and contest to say, “Please tell me this is a spoof.”

Over the many years of this blog, spoofs have not been my modus operandi so I don't know why anyone would think that. Could it be that my description of Rick Gillis's job search method – revolutionary – sounds like an exaggeration? Here's an email Rick received Wednesday soon after the story was posted:

”Long time no see! Hope you're doing well. A friend in the U.K. forwarded Ronni Bennett's blog announcing your new book today. Congratulations!

“My husband was laid off last Thursday and used your techniques to revise his resume the same day. He contacted recruiters and responded to several openings using customized key words and received immediate positive responses.

“A couple of people called minutes later! Less than 1 week after the reduction in force, he has 3 interviews scheduled and several other promising opportunities. You helped me 3 years ago and you're helping our family again.

Later the same day, the writer sent Rick a follow-up email:

”I don't know if it's the Rick factor, [my husband's] skills, the timing, luck or a combination of all, but something's working! The interview today went very well and the one tomorrow looks like a great opportunity, too.

“And I thought it was pretty great that my British friend sent the blog to me. VERY small world and the word of your book is traveling far.”

(Yes, I know - including the parts about Time Goes By is gratuitous self-promotion, but you have to admit the small-world aspect is cool.)

The important thing about the method Rick teaches in JOB! is that it involves more preparation work on the job seeker's part than just writing an old-fashioned resume or even a new-fashioned, electronic resume. But it's worth the extra effort as those emails show.

UPDATE 7:30AM: And she just updated us again:

"Good news. Tony is accepting an offer - one week after the layoff! He starts on Monday."

And now, let's have a drum roll for the three winners of JOB!:

Marcy Belson, a frequent contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place, wrote:

“I would very much like to read this book and then, pass it on to someone younger.”

Jen lives in Adelaide, Australia and blogs at Semantically Driven. She left this message:

”I've been doing contract work for a while and even that took me 4 months to find in between jobs a year ago. I'm on the lookout for an ongoing job and while I've had a couple of interviews, other times I've been overlooked when I didn't expect to be. So I think anything that helps me with that can't hurt. Heck, if I don't win, I'll [buy] the e-book version once I get an e-reader.”

And number three: Cynthia Friedlob who is manager of websites and social media at EngAGE, Inc. where she also hosts a radio show, Experience Talks and interviewed me there last May 24. She commented on the contest post page:

”This book could provide the basis for a great workshop on job-hunting at the local adult school where I teach a couple of classes. Thanks!”

Congratulations Marcy, Jen and Cynthia. For the rest of you who would like to own a copy of JOB!, it is available in paperback here. Remember that the e-book edition is only 99 cents and you can download a free e-reader here for your computer, smartphone or tablet in either Mac or PC versions.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Herchel Newman: Ten'hut


By John Godfrey Saxe

The more time I spend with poetry about age and growing old and death and such, the more I am surprised how little it has changed between ancient times and now.

If you told me that this poem was written yesterday rather than sometime in the mid-19th century, I would believe you.

My days pass pleasantly away;
My nights are blest with sweetest sleep;
I feel no symptoms of decay;
I have no cause to mourn nor weep;
My foes are impotent and shy;
My friends are neither false nor cold,
And yet, of late, I often sigh -
I am growing old!

My growing talk of olden times,
My growing thirst for early news,
My growing apathy to rhymes,
My growing love of easy shoes,
My growing hate of crowds and noise,
My growing fear of taking cold,
All whisper, in the plainest voice,
I'm growing old!

I'm growing fonder of my staff;
I'm growing dimmer in the eyes;
I'm growing fainter in my laugh;
I'm growing deeper in my sighs;
I'm growing careless of my dress;
I'm growing frugal of my gold;
I'm growing wise; I'm growing – yes -
I'm growing old!

I see it in my changing taste;
I see it in my changing hair;
I see it in my growing waist;
I see it in my growing heir;
A thousand signs proclaim the truth,
As plain as truth was ever told,
That, even in my vaunted youth,
I'm growing old!

Ah me! - my very laurels breathe
The tale in my reluctant ears,
And every boon the Hours bequeath
But makes me debtor to the Years!
E'en Flattery's honeyed words declare
The secret she would fain withhold,
And tells me in "How young you are!"
I'm growing old!

Thanks for the years! - whose rapid flight
My sombre Muse too sadly sings;
Thanks for the gleams of golden light
That tint the darkness of their wings;
The light that beams from out the sky,
Those heavenly mansions to unfold
Where all are blest, and none may sigh,
"I'm growing old!"


The photograph is by Matthew Brady.

John Godfrey Saxe was an American poet born in 1816 in Highgate, Vermont, the son of a miller who was also a judge and member of the Vermont General Assembly.

Although Saxe was admitted to the Vermont bar, the law was not for him. He preferred writing poetry which was well received and widely published, and he was sought after as a speaker. Twice defeated in bids to be come governor of Vermont, he left the state for Albany, New York, after the second loss and still later in life, moved to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

The 1870s held a string of disasters for Saxe. His eldest son and three of his daughters died of tuberculosis. He suffered a head injury in 1875 from which he never really recovered and his wife died of an aneurysm in 1879.

When Saxe died in 1887, he was survived by only one of his six children, a son.

I'm Growing Old is one of Saxe's lesser known poems and nowadays he is best remembered for The Blind Men and the Elephant, a retelling of the ancient Indian parable of the six blind men describing an elephant. You can read it here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: How I Became a Cat Lady in a Trailer Park

Revolutionary New Job Seeking Tool and Contest

UPDATE: It's early in the morning and already emails are arriving from people who want to be included in the contest. Please - as noted in the contest section below, you must post your request to join the contest in the comments. Emails will not be honored.

Among the age-related threads I track online is job search advice. For people older than 50, it is universally awful and has not varied for more than a decade: shorten your resume, update your skills, be positive, buy some new clothes, color your hair. Some years ago, one even suggested getting a face lift.

It was useless and condescending ten years ago and in today's terrible job market, it is unforgivable.

But now there is a new approach to job search and I'm not exaggerating in the title up there that it is revolutionary. It is getting people of all ages in the door to real, face-to-face interviews even after hundreds, even thousands of their resumes over many months have sunk into black holes of oblivion with never an acknowledgment let alone a response.

”Rick, hope you are very well,” wrote one job seeker who followed Rick Gillis's plan. “I have to tell you that I have been applying to *** since about March for various positions in project management and business management and on Friday 16th, I submitted my resume to a regional supervisory role using the below resume just as you instructed and I got a call this morning at 11:00 to set up a phone screen interview at 3:00 pm today! This is a success.”

Another real-world example:

”I updated [my] long resume like you said and sent to my contact at ***. And I just got a call. They are interested in me and are setting up an interview for next week. Called me from the golf course. Glad I have my Accomplishment worksheet ready. This is [the] first one I sent out.”

JOB! Front Cover Hi Res150 Rick Gillis has helped thousands of job seekers who attend his seminars and listen to his radio programs. Now, in his new book, JOB! Learn How to Find Your Next Job in 1 Day, Rick Gillis makes his easy-to-implement plan available to everyone. [Disclosure: Rick is a friend, I edited this book and will benefit financially from its sales.]

In JOB!, Rick reveals what statement should always be at the top of any resume, why you should not list your street address, how to properly apply keywords to a resume and the number one reason resumes are not read.

Those are essential facts to know, but the meat of the book explains how to create the set of tools job seekers must have to sell themselves. “Job search is sales,” says Rick.

To do that, Rick walks readers through the development of his innovative Accomplishments Worksheet, Short-Form Resume, Long-Form Resume and then details the use of them to get the all-important phone call setting up an interview.

Some people who have attended Rick's seminars dismiss the effort involved to create an Accomplishments Worksheet. But those who follow through on Rick's instructions are amazed at what they learn about themselves and how it helps them find their next job. From the book:

“David came to me and said he had been going crazy trying to come up with even one accomplishment he was proud enough of to list on his Accomplishments Worksheet...

“David is a payroll clerk and as such he just didn't feel he had brought that much value to his company (which in this case was a global energy company). David's problem was that he was only one among the many payroll clerks in the office, just another cog in the machine. Or so he thought.

“After a while, David sheepishly mentioned that he was 'kind of proud of the fact that I had zero returns on my first payroll of 6,000.'

“I nearly fell off my seat! 6,000 paychecks...

"Which payroll clerk would you hire? The guy who could handle the details associated with preparing a payroll of 6,000 checks and make no mistakes the first time out or the guy who can't tell you what he can do for the company?”

As Rick points out in JOB!, his system works whether you are a payroll clerk, a parking lot cashier or a denizen of the C-suite. He has helped people at every level of the workforce.

I know many of you who read Time Goes By are retired. But many others are not and undoubtedly most of you know someone – friends, neighbors, adult children, even grandchildren who badly need to find jobs. Rick's method is revolutionary – no one else is teaching this - and I believe that if I'd used Rick's method after I lost my last job, I would have found something and not have had to retire.

JOB! is available from Amazon in paperback for $9.99 and for Kindle or any other e-reader for 99 cents. There are free readers for computers, smartphones and tablets here. And, you can find more information about the book at Rick's website.

To help get the book off to a great start, Rick has provided three copies of JOB! for me to give away to Time Goes By readers.

To enter the contest, leave a message in the comments section below (no emails). That's it. If you have something to say about job search, your own experience, that of people you know or anything else related, that's good, but not required.

The only requirement is that you state your interest in winning one of the books. Like last time we did this kind of contest, typing "Me, me, me" will do it, too. I'm not fussy.

The contest will close tonight, 15 August 2012, at midnight U.S. Pacific time. The three winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and announced here on this blog on Friday 17 August.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Linda Carmi: The Elder Invisible Thing

Romney/Ryan Relying on Greedy Geezers

category_bug_politics.gif It's pretty funny watching Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his surrogates trying to distance him from his running mate's budget that explicitly states, among other draconian measures, there would be more tax cuts for the wealthy while increasing taxes on the middle class.

When an empty suit who has not a single conviction about even the time of day "hires" someone overflowing with cocksure confidence that he knows what's best for everyone else, you're going to be stuck with his budget plan, not your own. Odd that the man they keep telling us is so smart didn't know that.

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan promises that people age 55 and older would not be affected by his plan to kill Medicare; they would be able to keep traditional Medicare. In a comment on yesterday's post, I said this:

”I am continually amazed that politicians who want to cut Social Security and Medicare...appeal to us by saying the changes will not affect anyone 55 and older.

“It's my experience over nearly nine years on this blog and elsewhere, that elders are care a great deal that the two programs remain in place for their children, grandchildren and beyond.”

I finished it off by going all snarky on you:

I wonder why the politicians believe current elders are willing to throw their progeny under the bus. Oh, right - I forgot: because the politicians are willing to do so.”

It's not all snark; I believe what I wrote yesterday and then I ran across a political writer who believes it is the actual strategy of the Romney/Ryan ticket to rely on exactly their kind of greedy geezers to elect them:

”Last year, when Ryan's (sic) was pushing his Medicare overhaul, he and other advocates specifically stressed to seniors at town hall meetings that they would continue to get the system's guaranteed benefits, an explanation that drew applause from some voters in that age group but prompted concerns from others,” writes Robert Parry at OpEdNews.

“For instance, in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, 64-year-old Clarence Cammers hesitantly asked Ryan a question that got to the heart of the matter. After describing himself as a disabled veteran living on Social Security, Cammers said he could stand some cutbacks for himself; that wasn't his concern.

"'I will be fine,' Cammers said. 'I guess what I'm saying is, what are all these changes going to mean for my son?'

“Cammers was noting the hard truth that it would be younger Americans who would face Ryan's scheme of replacing Medicare with government vouchers that would fall short of covering the costs of private insurance.”

Apparently, a large number of elders are not as concerned about their children as Mr. Cammers is. Yesterday, Fox News website reported:

”A recent Rasmussen poll showed that 31 percent of likely senior voters gave Ryan a "very favorable" rating, compared with 21 percent of all legal-age voters giving him that rating. Just 16 percent of seniors gave him a "very unfavorable" rating.”

Other quickie polls taken since Paul Ryan joined the Republican ticket on Saturday show strong numbers in support of Ryan among elders. In an ABC/Washington Post poll, people 65 and older

”...moved in Ryan’s favor, from a 28-28 percent favorable-unfavorable view prospectively to 46-28 percent this weekend.”

(I guess you can tell I was trawling right-wing websites yesterday.) reports on a new Gallup/USA Today poll:

”...the age group most receptive to House Budget Chair Paul Ryan's plan to deal with the budget - seniors. The poll finds 48 percent of seniors (those 65 and over) support Ryan's plan over President Obama's plan, while 42 percent back the president.

“That's the highest total among the age groups tested - a 47 percent plurality between the ages of 50 and 64 backed Ryan, and a 45 percent plurality of those between 30-49 backed Ryan. But young voters overwhelmingly sided with Obama by a 23-point margin, 53 to 30 percent.”

It is still early in Ryan's campaign and other polls show that not many Americans know much about him yet so as the Democrats define him more sharply over the coming weeks, elders may begin to see that a vote for Romney/Ryan is not only a vote against their own interests, but their children's interests too.

Or not. Perhaps Messrs. Romney and Ryan know what they're doing by counting on the elder vote. As Robert Parry concludes his story at OpEdNews:

”And for those already on - or soon to be on - Medicare, the Republican bet is that these seniors and near-seniors will be the greediest of geezers, enjoying the health program for themselves but willing to take the risk that their children and grandchildren will be left at the mercies of private insurance giants.

“The Romney-Ryan calculation suggests the Republicans really do believe that today's senior citizens represent the most selfish generation in American history.”

And Monday's polls seem to confirm their belief. What do you think? Are we, in aggregate, the greediest ever?”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Claire Jean: Go Phillies

How the Romney-Ryan Ticket Affects Elders

category_bug_politics.gif Until Mitt Romney announced Wisconsin Republican Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate on Saturday, he had already promised deep spending cuts to the federal budget if elected president.

As with his tax returns, Romney has refused to elaborate on just what those spending cuts would be, but now we know: Ryan's budget would starve the government of pretty much all funds that keep America's most vulnerable citizens from – well, starving.

Before we get to the axes Ryan's plan takes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, let me be clear: you, I and other elders are not the only people who would be harmed by Ryan's budget plan: your children, your grandchildren and successive generations would suffer even more.

Ryan's overall budget plan retains the Bush tax cuts for rich people, reduces them further, raises taxes on the middle class, cuts anti-poverty programs and many government services.

But today, let's examine how it would effect elders.

First, in one of his few definitive statements about anything, Romney has said outright that as president he would repeal Obamacare, and so would Ryan's budget.

They can't do it on their first day in office as Romney has said he would – they need the help of Congress – but here are some of the things that would happen immediately to you and me and other elders if the Affordable Care Act ended:

• All free preventive screenings and tests would end

• The free annual wellness examination would end

• The prescription drug doughnut hole would immediately return to its full original size, increasing drug costs to millions of elders

• Elders with Advantage plans would again be charged more than those with traditional Medicare for some medical procedures

• States would again be able to cut elders from Medicaid

But those changes would hardly matter because the Ryan budget essentially kills Medicare and Medicaid. All the reporters and pundits use the qualifying phrase, kills Medicare “as we know it.” That's just journalistic “fairness” horse pucky. It KILLS Medicare. Here's how.

All the details, qualifiers and bureaucracy aside, the underlying promise of Medicare is that it is a guarantee that works amazingly well for most of us. That guarantee would end with Ryan's plan which would create, instead, a voucher program for elders to buy private plans which no expert believes would cover premiums. Plus, out-of-pocket costs would increase.

It is estimated that average cost for elders would go up by at least $2500 per year. Millions cannot pay that.

Traditional Medicare would remain as an option among private choices. However, if it winds up costing more than the government voucher, the elder pays the difference.

The other big Ryan money-saving idea is to increase the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 over twelve years beginning in 2023 with people born in 1958. Every year, fewer and fewer employers offer health coverage so millions of 66- and 67-year-olds would be without coverage for that period.

I went through that when I couldn't get coverage at age 64 and I lived in terror of getting sick or hit by a truck every day. It was just dumb luck that I stayed healthy and safe. Not everyone does.

Ryan would turn Medicaid, which mostly serves elders and the disabled, into a block grant directly to states, removing the federal guarantee, under a formula that predicts huge cuts. From The New Republic:

“According to estimates commissioned by the Kaiser Foundation [pdf] and made by researchers at the Urban Institute, the end result would that between 14 and 27 million low-income Americans lose health insurance.

“That’s above and beyond those who are supposed to get insurance from the Affordable Care Act, starting in 2014, but would not because Ryan wants to repeal the law’s coverage expansion.”

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Paul Ryan was a leading proponent of privatizing Social Security, a proposal that President Bush unsuccessfully tried to sell the nation in 2005.

The idea was so overwhelmingly rejected by the people that Ryan has taken a different tack with spending cuts in his latest plan.

First, Ryan rejects raising the salary cap on payroll taxes along with any other proposal that would have rich people contribute a percentage of all their income as most Americans do. He also rejects any other proposal whatsoever to increase Social Security revenue in any way.

Ryan's plan instead adopts Simpson-Bowles ideas (Ryan served on that Commission) which proposed to cut Social Security benefits to the majority of recipients, weaken connections between earnings and amount of benefits and to decrease the COLA. In past versions of his budget plan, Ryan has backed private accounts and so that possibility remains should Romney/Ryan be elected.

All conservatives (and President Obama) who want to slash Social Security use as their reason that the program is, as Bush kept repeating in 2005, “broke.” Of course, that is not true. There is more than $2 trillion in the trust fund and eliminating the salary cap would insure the program could pay full benefits for the next 75 years.

A further argument holds that the trust fund is empty because every administration has borrowed the excess replacing it with U.S. Treasury bills now said by those who want to kill Social Security to be worthless.

That is true only if you believe that the financial instruments China and other countries purchase are not backed by the “full faith and credit” of the federal government. Obviously, since those countries continue to purchase U.S. treasuries, they reject that notion and expect to be paid interest which regularly occurs.

The federal government is no less beholden to the debt in the Social Security trust fund than to the debt China holds. Default is not an option in either case.

There are many more details to the Ryan proposals for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that along with the rest of his budget and taken together pretty much threaten what little security the 99 percent still possesses while greatly increasing the wealth of the one percent.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Movin' In

ELDER MUSIC: Summertime

PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

category_bug_eldermusic It’s time for another variation on a single song and the one today is Summertime. This was from the opera “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin. The lyrics weren’t by his brother Ira, who wrote them for most of George’s songs, but by DuBois Heyward upon whose novel, Porgy, the opera is based.

The song pretty soon became a standard and entered the lexicon of popular and jazz singers. We’ll have some of them today as well as a couple of interesting instrumental versions.Also one or two that I hope will surprise you.

According to Wikipedia, it’s the most covered song in history and there are more than 25,000 recorded versions out there. Not all of those will be present today.

We might as well start with the best, BILLIE HOLIDAY.

Billie Holiday

It sounds as if Billie was born to sing this song. Of course, she sounded as if she was born to sing anything she tackled. Hers was the first version to make the charts, back in 1936. She has Count Basie and his band backing her on this one.

♫ Billie Holiday - Summertime

It was a tossup between LOU RAWLS and Johnny Hartman for this spot. Lou called heads.

Lou Rawls

Lou started out as a gospel singer and while still a boy he sang with Sam Cooke, who wasn’t much older than Lou, in a gospel group. He also met and sang with Curtis Mayfield around the same time.

Over the years Lou has sung gospel, soul and R&B music but he was always essentially a jazz singer as is amply demonstrated on his version of Summertime.

♫ Lou Rawls - Summertime

BILL EVANS was one of the best jazz pianists. This assessment of his abilities was shared by Miles Davis who requested that he join (or rejoin, really) him to record the “Kind of Blue” album.

Bill Evans

Bill was classically trained; he started lessons on the piano when he was only six. He was also proficient on the flute and violin.

He rebelled against the restrictions of classical music – he wasn’t allowed to improvise so he switched to jazz in his early teenage years and started playing professionally before he was 20. Unfortunately, he had a long-time problem with drugs and he died at age 51.

♫ Bill Evans - Summertime

To give us a rock & roll perspective on the song here’s Janis Joplin in front of BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY.

Big Brother and the Holding Company

This was a regular inclusion in their live sets and appeared on their most famous album “Cheap Thrills”. Instead of that one here’s the song from a live album of theirs “Live at The Carousel Ballroom,” recorded in 1968.

The two versions are quite similar and this one gives a flavor of their live performance.

♫ Big Brother and the Holding Company - Summertime

SAM COOKE could make any song sound perfect, or nearly so in this case.

Sam Cooke

However, he really didn’t need that chorus behind him, adding nothing at all to the song. I guess they did that sort of thing back then. Fortunately, they aren’t too intrusive.

Sam’s version sounds to me like a soul song interpreted as a country tune.

♫ Sam Cooke - Summertime

LAMBERT, HENDRICKS AND ROSS have the shortest version of the song and maybe the most interesting.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross

As was often the case when LH&R interpreted a song, they took it and ran with it taking it to places no one had gone before. That certainly happened this time.

LH&R’s career wasn’t very long, only about five years. Annie Ross first left the group and not too long afterwards, Dave Lambert was killed in a car accident. Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross are still with us as of this writing and occasionally perform together.

♫ Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Summertime

The version that reached the highest spot on the charts is by BILLY STEWART.

Billy Stewart

This one always brings a smile to my face as it’s so outrageous, although following that one by LH&R it may not seem so.

Billy won a local (Washington D.C.) talent contest with his version of our song. He had honed his singing in his mother’s gospel group, The Stewart Gospel Singers. Bo Diddley heard him and hired Billy to play piano in his group. He eventually got Billy a recording contract and Summertime was one of his first releases.

♫ Billy Stewart - Summertime

MILES DAVIS recorded an entire album of “Porgy and Bess” music.

Miles Davis

I used him on a previous column dedicated to “Porgy and Bess” where, fortunately, I featured It Ain't Necessarily So from Miles so I won’t be doubling up. This is his version of Summertime.

♫ Miles Davis - Summertime

There have been several different versions of THE DRIFTERS. The two most notable ones were fronted by Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King.

The Drifters

I listened closely to this version and I’m pretty sure it was neither of those singing lead. The CD is no help at all and nor is Dr. Google. Besides the “official” Drifters, there were others who used the name and as far as I can tell this is one of those.

I think it’s a group purporting to be The Drifters and is fronted by Matthew Child. Whoever he is, he’s a pretty fine singer.

♫ The Drifters - Summertime

I thought I was familiar with RICKY NELSON's music but this surprised me. It shouldn’t have as it’s on one of my CDs, so there you go.

Ricky Nelson

It was the done thing back when Ricky was first recording that singers should become “all round entertainers” after a year or two in the rock & roll sun. Some resisted this pressure but others, like Ricky, recorded standards along with their usual songs.

Here is Ricky being an all round entertainer (sort of – this isn’t quite as all round as some other songs).

♫ Ricky Nelson - Summertime

Just missing the cut are versions by Johnny Hartman, Judy Garland, Kenny Burrell, Paul Robeson, Stan Getz, Peggy Lee and also a few other lesser known performers.