Is it true: That you’re never too big for jury duty?

Just now I have filled out a jury summons for Monday, June 30. I have pinned the summons back on my bulletin board.

The summons says I am to report for a “petit jury.” The word “petit” comes from the French word for “small.” I have never attempted to avoid jury duty but I always wondered if I did, whether I might try the “large” card? In other words, I am almost 6 feet tall. That’s not gigantic when you think of people like a pro basketball player, but it is still above average height.

At some point in time, one summoned for jury duty is asked: “Do you have any reason why that you should be excused from jury duty?

Me: “I do.”

Clerk: “What is the reason you should be excused?”

Me: “Is this the petit jury?:”

Clerk: “Yes sir. It is.”

Me: “Then do you have a jury for one that is ‘petit-plus?’”

Clerk: “I beg your pardon, sir?”

Me: “Well, it is my understanding that the word ‘petit’ comes from the French word for “small.” I mean, I’m not LeBron James, but I am 6-feet-tall and weigh 280 pounds.”

Clerk: “And your point, sir?”

And so it goes. There is little, pardon the pun, potential that a juror may say short of: “Um, I shot the sheriff. But I didn’t shoot the deputy. Oh, and I smoke a little ganja too.”

There you go, off the jury and take a little drink (or a little smoke) and you land in jail.

But why would you not want to make the jury? I say “make” because it seems like the less you would want to serve on a jury, the less chance you have.

I served on one jury in my life. It was a worker’s compensation case. I don’t really remember the details or what verdict we delivered. I just remembered the food. You see, I was unemployed, broke, impoverished. I had no money to buy food or feed my monster Doberman-great Dane. I couldn’t buy gas. I had to hitchhike from the farm house I lived in to town, about 15 miles to the courthouse. I was summoned for two days. The second day there wasn’t a trial as we sat around all day while the parties bargained.

The first day of jury duty, I put on my only suit — three pieces — and walked up the road next to the house to hitchhike to town. A family in my minivan gave me a ride and a guy from the jury who lived on down the road gave me a ride home. Not much trouble hitchhiking when you wear a three-piece suit. I mean, maybe it should be. Let’s say if you were a mobile killer. Oh well, I brought home some scraps from dinner for the dog.

The second day, I don’t remember. I do remember both days we had doughnuts and coffee for breakfast. Man, those doughnuts rocked. We had dinner that evening because we were deliberating. It was from Shepherd’s Restaurant, it used to be a great downtown restaurant. It was also where the inmates had their food made. I suppose that’s why the place had such a recidivism rate back then. Just kidding.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the courtroom. Most of it as a journalist. I miss it, come to think of it. I don’t miss sitting all day, waiting for this or that. But I miss the drama. I miss reporting and writing on interesting tales. Like I’ve said, I’ve only been on one jury, but I’d be happy to do it again. It’s a great responsibility we are afforded in our country to assist the judging of our peers. Plus, you can always likely find a doughnut and a hot cup of coffee. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Win or lose, Texas soccer great Dempsey got story

Soccer is game that I know next to nothing about other than to watch a ball get kicked or head-butted up and down the field for, 90 or more minutes. The game has become, how shall I say this, one which “soccer moms (or dads),” allow their kids to play because you can lose an arm or leg playing football. And, yes, I speak of American football. Is that to say a boy who plays soccer is a “sissy boy?” Well, not if he is a girl. Okay. Let me start over.

All of what I say is bullshit, of course. Maybe some of it isn’t. Perhaps some moms won’t let their young soccer star in his unsoiled shorts and socks watch the World Cup because it is too brutal. Well, there is something to be said for that, in that it can be brutal. Which gets me to the object of all this. Deuce.

The Deuce is loose. Clint Dempsey, self-published via Creative Commons.

The Deuce is loose. Clint Dempsey, self-published via Creative Commons.

Deuce is kind of an alias and alter ego for a white boy rapper who was raised in the trailer park south of Nacogdoches, Texas. Most of Deuce, permit me to forgo the possessive, friends were the Mexican niños of chicken factory and construction workers. “Don’t Tread” is a rap video Deuce made for Nike during the 2006 World Cup. Oh, did I say Deuce also plays soccer?

Clint “Deuce” Dempsey is probably the best United States soccer player. That is unless you want to count Landon Donovan. The Los Angeles Galaxy and past U.S. national team star is sitting out this World Cup as an ESPN analyst. His sabbatical is not entirely of his own doing and many people much, much more knowledgeable about the sport known as fútbol  than I will argue — perhaps some violently — that Donovan is the best.

But Donovan is in the broadcast booth during this World Cup. Deuce is on the field.

Sometimes though, Dempsey isn’t standing upright on the field, as was the case for a moment yesterday when a player for the Ghana team made an incredibly high kick that left Dempsey on the ground. In perhaps the best lead concerning the 2-1 U.S. win Monday, so far, the Sporting News Mike DeCourcy delivered this wonderful sports injury diagnosis:

 “There was no need for a medical degree in order to diagnose Clint Dempsey’s injury. Heck, a tree surgeon could have gotten it right from 5,000 miles away. Anyone watching in high definition could have told you that nose was broken.”

I didn’t even need high definition. Oh, I suppose I should have said: “Soccer moms with queasy tummies, turn your little darlings’ heads away.”

I may not know much about soccer. But I know a story when I see one. And, by God, Clint Dempsey has a story. And now he is captain of the U.S. World Cup team and has a broken nose after scoring one of the sixth or seventh quickest goals in World Cup history. Rookie Defender John Brooks, 21, made the winning goal at minute 87 of the match after Ghana had tied the game somewhere back there as time was running out. Brooks now is a story in his own right. This story I linked yesterday is probably the best that tells the early Clint Dempsey tale. If you’ve not read it, please do so.

But back to Clint Dempsey, Deuce, the boy who played soccer with his little Mexican friends and later with not too friendly Mexican men on the fields under the North Street overpass in Naco-Nowhere. Well, like all young men are likely to discover, the old hometown isn’t always nowhere.

Nacogdoches was my second hometown. How can you have a second hometown? I don’t know. I have a third and maybe even a fourth. Nac is no doubt mine though. I lived there for about 15 years during three different stints. Some say the third time is a charm. Hell, I said the third time is a charm. But I don’t know. I no longer am never saying never when it comes to moving back to Nacogdoches for good. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.

I know from what I read that Dempsey likes going home to see his folks and to go bass fishing. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Deuce can do what he likes, of course. Whether he leads his team on to an unlikely World Cup championship, or even just one more game, I must say that young man — Dempsey is now 31 — has got a hell of a game. And a story.

 

Homeboy kicks it first as US beats Ghana in World Cup

Homeboy from my second hometown scores the sixth-fastest goal in World Cup history.

Will Ghana have enough electricity to watch the match tonight against the U.S.?

Tied at 83 minutes! Damn, damn, damn!

But no. Who cares if Ghana can see the match? The Americans win 2-1!

Maybe tomorrow I will write something about this great game and homeboy Clint Dempsey from Nacogdoches, Texas.

 

This week: Little Virginia college likely to have political representation

Probably most of the remaining world didn’t notice but I missed a few days of writing EFD this week. Most of the reason was medically-related. No, I haven’t been sick. I’ve just been sick of medical appointments.

I finally finished up a month’s worth of physical therapy after having arthroscopic surgery to remove torn meniscus cartilage in my knee. Then I had to see the doctor that did the surgery. That was later followed by a little added work at my job that the doctor has allowed. No, I still am not at 100 percent. All of that with my friends telling me: “Why I was back on the job the week after my knee surgery!” Well, maybe you were and maybe you are Peyton Manning. I don’t care. Each person responds differently to various surgery, even if that surgery is simply removing a torn knee cartilage. Some folks don’t require physical therapy. Some people do. Then there are others who have little success with physical therapy. I am one who fits in that category.

My hope is that I will gradually get stronger and my knee will work better. That’s because I have a lot of other crap that is wrong with me, like diabetes and chronic neck pain and chronic lower back pain. So there!

Due to a bunch of medical appointments this week, I have fallen behind on the news. All of a sudden, John McCain is on TV saying we should bomb Iraq. I thought his thing was bombing Iran? Oh well, Iran, Iraq, they both are only separated by a letter.

Then we’ve had the whole Bergdahl affair. There always must be something to keep the politicians fired up to make life a pisser for the rest of us.

Well, at least Eric Cantor was beat. But wait! That’s bad, Or is kind of bad. Take for instance, Democratic Party head Debbie Wasserman Shultz, went to Iowa ahead of that state’s Republican convention this weekend, to rub in just how bad things are for the GOP since an unknown, under-funded college professor beat the House majority leader in a congressional election earlier this week in Virginia.

 ”  … The Tea Party has taken control of the Republican Party. Period,” Schultz said after the Virginia GOP leader went down. “When Eric Cantor, who time and again has blocked common sense legislation to grow the middle class, can’t earn the Republican nomination, it’s clear the GOP has redefined ‘far right.’ Democrats on the other hand have nominated a mainstream candidate who will proudly represent this district and I look forward to his victory in November.”

Well, let’s just hope whomever it is, the Democrat who is running against whomever it was who beat Cantor, wins in November. One thing for sure, the winner of the congressional election will be a professor from tiny Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., unless Cantor decides to run as a write-in and is elected. Yes, it seems the little-known professor who beat the GOP House Majority Leader will face a Democrat who is also a little-known professor at Randolph-Macon College. At least it should be a great time for the local student newspaper “The Yellow Jacket.” Of course, stranger things have happened. There is nothing like a national news story to let the “big boys” in to kick the local journalists in the teeth.

Oh, Dave Brat is the Republican who beat Cantor. He will face Democrat Jack Trammell. Well if that don’t (sic) beat all.

Actually, I’ve been saying for several years now that the “big tent” is getting ready to fold. That the Republicans will eventually go away, the way of the Whigs. I suppose that would really neither be here nor there, if one takes a look back at he origins and dismantling of the Whigs or the Republican party.

It sounds like politics may have finally taken a historic turn. Or not.

Bowe Bergdahl: Innocent, guilty? It’s enough to make one’s feet hurt.

What is good today? My feet are doing well. They hurt like hell. But they are doing well, a foot doctor told me so.

I drove to the VA Hospital today some 80-something-miles away in Houston, bad knee and all. This was my semi-annual checkup with the podiatrist. He clipped my toenails. Those on my right leg are hard to trim because I still have to wear that damn knee brace. I go back to the knee doctor next week. And to the sleep doctor. And to my primary care doctor. Were they all in one place, say the Houston VA Hospital, I could just pitch a tent in the lobby. But, of course, the appointments are in three different locations.

A good foot report is good news for a diabetic. The pain in my feet now are likely a byproduct of that diabetes. I really don’t know why they hurt so badly. Perhaps it stemmed from tight socks in shoes for a total of three hours on the road. Maybe it was the Coney Cheese Dog and Onion Rings I had at James Coney Island. Maybe, but it was a good lunch. I don’t know what made my feet hurt.  I don’t even know how I got on this subject. Perhaps it is because my aching feet overtake every other thought I have. Still, my intention of “soldiering on” through my hurting feet and knee was to pass along this column from Chicago Sun-Times writer Neil Steinberg.

Steinberg hits at the anger I feel over this entire story over the return of prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl who was held by the Taliban. The anger isn’t at Bergdahl. It isn’t at Obama. The anger comes from the nut cases, mostly Republicans, who could give a rat’s ass less that an American soldier is back in the purportedly friendly hands of his government. The anger at Bergdahl and Obama, it’s just whipped up meanness by a political party that is falling apart at the seams. The war these days is more between the so-called “mainstream” GOP and the Tea Party. The Tea Party didn’t make much hay in the primary congressional races of late so they’re pissed, and the sweat that is staining those starched white shirts of those starched white Republicans are pissing the old-line off to no end. The GOP will eventually go the way of the Whigs, Princess telephones and ashtrays on airliners.

But yes, I am pissed too! The GOP and the media and who knows who(m) else are too freaking ignorant when it comes to the armed forces because so few have served these days. Though perhaps some who have served skip the bad parts. Most of us do that. Hey, it’s more fun to remember the time we got shitfaced in Subic City and one of our shipmates, whose name I won’t mention — it wasn’t me by the way — met us at the door of a certain joint all dressed up in a Filipina’s stripping outfit of G-string and pasties. But I am willing to bet most service members remember more than one or two fellow shipmates or soldiers who went on leave or on liberty and never came back.

Going over the hill, as we used to call desertion, is not that rare. I’ve had close friends who deserted. It wasn’t during war that they left. So they weren’t shot. Of course, I don’t think anyone has been shot for desertion during combat since Eddie Slovik in WWII. Also, it isn’t just with Bergdahl, nor just with the military, but it seems that the presumption of innocence, that has long been such a great point of judicial magnificence with our system, has seemingly disappeared. Everyone knows Bergdahl is guilty, all the Republican senators say so. Everyone knows that whomever the subject of Nancy Grace’s show tonight is guilty, because she says so.

Military trials, court martials as they are called, are already stacked against defendants because of the way trials are structured. See the Manual for Courts Martial. I am too tired to try to explain it.

Bowe Bergdahl may escape punishment once, if and when, we find out all the particulars about his escapade. Or perhaps he may be punished. Whatever happens, I hope all goes well as possible for the young man. Five years with the Taliban as a guest seems like punishment enough.

The good news, of course, my diabetic feet seem in good shape. They also are feeling better, thank you.

 

Shinseki gone. It’s time for the VA to heal itself.

My high hopes for Gen. Eric Shinseki taking an already overburdened and poorly-managed Department of Veterans Affairs were dashed early. Oh, I suppose I gave him more time than was warranted. But just because I continued to see the VA healthcare system imploding from the ground up didn’t mean that a total collapse had yet made it to the top of the food chain. Regardless of my poor vision of the cluster f**k of a bureaucracy that is the VA, the situation has progressed even beyond that state expressed in the old military acronym SNFAU. For those of you unfamiliar with the term — for those of you returning visitors from Zimbawe — it means “Situation Normal All F**ked Up.” Shinseki resigned today and many talking heads were a bit too timid to bury the retired four-star in their disgust. The general did, after all, have half of his foot blown off in the Vietnam War. And from the political and pundit class who might call their target of opportunity a “sonofabitch” they are sure to add “But we thank him for his service.” Such is similar to the way veterans are treated by the VA these days. Oh, not all of them, for sure. Not even the majority of them. One may be certain, though, when more than a thousand, who knows for certain even how many, maybe tens of thousands, are used in a numerical shell game when all they seek is medical treatment there remains a certainty that these veterans are not treated in the respectful manner in which even an injured dog would receive. I had erroneously believed the hiding of veterans seeking appointments was for specialty treatment. Specialists have, for at least the past 20 years I have used the VA for health care, been the scarcest of medical commodity. It is not uncommon to see residents, physician assistants or even nurse practitioners when attending specialty clinic appointments. It’s the luck of the draw. Oh, if you are sick enough or suffering from a critical injury, you’ll likely be attended to or at least overseen by a board certified specialist. It seems though, the veterans in the news are those that were seeking primary care however. That boggles my mind as bureaucratic insanity at its worst.

The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Medical Center in Houston.

The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Medical Center in Houston.

The VA bureaucracy is like this: Washington–>three separate administrations for Health, Benefits and Cemeteries–>Regions–>Regional benefit offices–>Regional-to-extra-regional systems called “VISNs” for Veterans Integrated Service Networks–>Health care networks based on a large VA hospital system (mine is the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Medical Center in Houston)–>Community-based outpatient centers–>Vet Centers–>The veterans. That’s not even including the National Cemeteries the VA oversees.

Now don’t you think at least one level somewhere in this wicked matrix could be eliminated? I had two dealings with the VA this week. One was concerning an appointment. The other relating to a complaint from an appointment last week. I had scheduled an appointment for a clinic for which I went almost 15 years without a follow-up. I will not say which one. I can understand long wait times because of the particular clinic and will say part of the reason for the failure was situational. Nevertheless, my appointment was Wednesday, 80 miles away in Houston. There is a toll-free phone number on which patients may hear their appointments as well as manage their prescriptions. I called the night before to make sure the time was what I was last told. The clinics usually send letters with appointment information at least a few weeks before. They also give automated calls within a week of the appointment during which one can confirm, cancel or reschedule. I did not receive a letter for this clinic. I do not remember receiving a call. This month I had an unusually high number of appointments in Houston. It was just how they happened to fall. When I called to check on this clinic, it was not listed. I called the “Telecare” staff in Houston and the notation they had on their computer indicated that I had cancelled the appointment. They didn’t know when or why. I had taken a day of leave, which have become scarce lately because of various medical and other problems. I was livid and wrote a very scathing letter to the department that oversees customer complaints. I didn’t hesitate to drop a few names either. I hate when I do that, but unfortunately one can only receive relatively quick response unless some kind of “enhancement” is employed. I received a call early the next morning saying the clinic responsible would be contacted. They were and I was called by the clinic. The person who called told me once again that I had cancelled the appointment by phone. I have seen some of these specialty clinic top people in Houston go directly into their best “Cover Your Ass” mode when such a problem happens. I told the person who called that what she said sounded like someone who was trying to “cover their rear ends.” I’m so nice. Well, I came away with a rescheduled appointment in two weeks. Later, I received a call from the VA Police Department in Houston. I thought, “OMG, they think I’m a nut and are going to give me the third degree!” Instead the officer was following up a complaint I left in a “suggestion box” regarding parking. I mentioned quite succinctly that the medical center had incessantly bragged as to how they have eased the parking problems at the hospital. Steps have been made including a free valet service. However, I am not comfortable with someone else driving my pickup, at least someone I don’t know. Parking lots have supposedly been expanded for patients and employees. But during my last visit I spent some 30 minutes trying to find a place where I would not have to walk too far to the hospital. I continue to have knee problems, especially when walking for a distance. Well, the officer was quite thorough explaining where parking has been increased and it was mostly on the side that I didn’t want to park. However, she said there now are shuttle vans that drive through the parking lots which will pick up patients and take them to the lobby. Apparently, these vans aren’t well advertised but if I can indeed flag one down to get it to drive me to a close entrance then this entire exercise will have been worth it. This is just one small example of how the VA can fix things when they put their minds to it. It looks as if now is the time for great minds to converge and not at just one medical center. The whole system has needed help for years. It is time to fix the VA.

VA-Shinseki thoughts drafted. For now I think about knees and trees.

My thoughts on the resignation of Gen. Eric Shinseki as Department of Veterans Affairs secretary is in draft form and in the cooler. I’ve been sitting here writing for awhile and my knee has begun to bother me as it has more and more during the last couple of days. Hopefully, I will get back to my draft and publish it tomorrow.

I haven’t written a whole lot lately because I’ve gone to physical therapy several times a week around the time I usually write after work. My knee has become more painful in the last week. I was hoping surgery and some therapy would help. Something doesn’t seem right about it so my therapist said he would try to talk to my surgeon. He said it could be that I need a brace that puts less pressure on the part that is giving me trouble.

My normal routine in physical therapy has been to wire me up with a TENS-like electrical stimulus and place a heating pad on top of it. And when I say a heating pad, I mean that mother is HOT. I also have undergone some ultrasound and dry laser therapy as well as numerous leg lifts of several types and a leg lift while lying on my stomach. Usually, I have them ice down my knee for about 10 minutes before leaving. The results I have experienced have been mixed.

Now I am at a point where I wonder how long I will have to wear a brace? Is the problem I had not fixed? Will I need a knee replacement? I have already “wasted” what I consider to be four months since I first injured my knee to surgery and up to now in two weeks of physical therapy. It seems so long ago that I was hiking through the Big Thicket or the Angelina National Forest. I can’t even imagine what is in store in the future. In part, I don’t want to think about it.

If you haven’t read this blog before, then you know it is mostly for me to indulge myself in one of the main past-times I enjoy and which also has been, in the past, a living. At least I can still write. Now if only I can walk out among the pine trees again and listen to the wind whistle its song through the tree tops. That would be about all I could really ask for. That and to not end sentences with prepositions.

 

My mea culpa runneth over: Could I have changed DeLay-Babin history?

Ignorance seemed to sweep the state of Texas last night as all of the top right-right-wing candidates won the GOP primary for state offices. This include Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick who swept the top two offices. Fortunately, not all Tea Party candidates won the right to run in the November General Election. I speak specifically in the race to replace Rep. Steve Stockman, who gave up his office to seek the U.S. Senate seat held by John Cornyn.

Woodville dentist and former mayor Brian Babin defeated Tea Party mortgage banker Ben Streusand by a 58-42 percent margin. Streusand lives in Spring, a Houston suburb that is out of the district.

Babin lost two previous congressional races in 1996 and 1998 to original “Blue Dog Democrat” Jim Turner of Crockett. The GOP candidate for the 36th Congressional District of Texas, Babin, will face Democrat Michael Cole, a teacher at Little Cypress-Mauriceville in Orange County. A Libertarian candidate, Rodney Veatch, also will oppose the GOP and Democratic candidates.

The area in which CD 36 lies includes rural East Texas pineywoods, the area where I grew up. Longtime congressmen who served much of the area included colorful Democrats Charlie Wilson and Jack Brooks. Gerrymandering left out most of Jefferson County and adds GOP-prone areas of northern Harris County, home of Houston.

I lived in the area during the 1996-1998 Turner-Babin races and covered parts of both races for area daily newspapers. I found both men friendly and intelligent. I had been on the verge of a hot political story had I put more effort into it. “You gotta have heart,” as goes the song from “Damn Yankees.” At the particular time I didn’t have it.

I went to write about a rally for Babin at Cloeren Inc. in Orange. Pete Cloeren and his Dad had built a very successful plastics business. Unfortunately, he threw his politically-untested hands into helping finance the Babin campaign at the behest of Tom DeLay. A scheme was hatched that every Cloeren employee would donate to Babin the maximum $1,000 contribution allowed in congressional races.

DeLay was there at the rally I attended. I heard pols say that the Cloeren employees, each, all donated $1,000 of their own money in Babin’s name. I said: “Right! What bullshit.” I knew that was illegal and I knew it was about as likely as pigs flying that all the employees each gave $1,000 toward Dr. Babin’s campaign. Yet I was lazy, burned out, didn’t give a shit. Had I the time and the energy to go full force at this story as I had in later years chasing every cow pie that potentially entered the North Bosque River and the Waco city water supply, perhaps I might have changed the course of history with respect to Mr. DeLay. But I doubt it. I seriously, seriously doubt it.

In the end, well, we don’t know the end yet to the former bug killer, DeLay’s, saga. I do know from my time covering court cases that Houston appellate attorney Brian Wice — a sometimes legal talking head on TV — is still a guy I enjoyed hanging out with while awaiting a jury verdict. I say all that and add Wice is hell on wheels on appeals and he is representing Tom DeLay in “The Hammer’s” overturned conviction.

Babin and his campaign committee were fined $20,000 by the Federal Election Committee and paid $5,000 in excessive contributions. And now look at him. He’s the “Comeback Kid!”

That’s about as mea culpa as I’m going to get. I started off writing this thinking, “Well, at least we didn’t get Streusand if the GOP candidate wins in November.” But remembering my little lapse in doggedness, I feel even more that the 36th CD needs to elect Michael Cole.

 

 

Memorial Day: Not just for the war dead

Memorial Day is most often thought of in terms of war. But not all who are remembered on this day were lost in war or on foreign soil. Master at Arms Second Class Mark Mayo stood between a gunman and the petty officer of the watch (POOW) in March on board the USS Mahan, a guided missile destroyer in port at Naval Station Norfolk. The gunman had made his way up the brow and disarmed the POOW. Mayo was fatally wounded though saving the four watch standers. The gunman was shot and killed by security personnel. Mayo was awarded the Naval and Marine Corps Medal for his valor.

Having stood POOW on a number of occasions during my sea duty — a .45 on my hip — I often think of the awesome responsibility that I had during those younger days and how glad I was that I was not required to bear the burden of engagement.

Petty Officer Mayo fought no war, yet he exceeded any duty required of such a young man. We ask so much of our young, but little do we know how much it is that we ask.

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Tea Party slithers to a new low in its Mississippi ageism jihad

An answer to a bizarre mystery plaguing me is becoming clearer thanks to the Tea Party.

An old Navy friend in Mississippi, now an attorney, linked a story on Sunday about actions I found as worthy of head-scratching as well as despicable. It seems as if a Tea Party blogger and later, others, was arrested in connection with photographing the wife of senior U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R, Miss., inside her convalescent care room. Rose Cochran is bedridden, suffering from dementia.

Thad Cochran took office in the U.S. Senate in 1978, the year I processed out of the Navy in Mississippi. The state had been a large part of my military life. I had spent six weeks in “A” School at Meridian Naval Air Station, and two and a half years at the Navy Seabee base in Gulfport. Had I not decided to see what “Join the Navy and See the World” was all about I could have spent my entire time in Mississippi. But I transferred for a year to a World War II-era destroyer and rode it to various exotic destinations in the Western and Southern Pacific.

Although Mississippi was often derided then and remains slandered, I came to like the Gulf Coast. This was before casino gambling took over and the coast suffered the deadly and devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

I considered coming back to Mississippi after the Navy to live and work. I had friends there, after all. No mind that most were Navy people who would leave in a year or two, or who would be gone for months on end during deployment. While at home on leave — between leaving  the ship in San Diego and processing out with the then 20th Naval Construction Regiment — I met a young girl only a couple of years out of high school. I fell in love, or fell in love with the idea of falling in love. It nonetheless didn’t take but I ultimately moved back to Texas.

That is the origin of my half-lifelong interest in Mississippi. My interest coincidentally took place when the first two Republicans since Reconstruction — Old Miss cheering squad mates Cochran and Trent Lott — were elected to the U.S. House from Mississippi. The old cheerleaders also became Republican U.S. Senators with Lott eventually Senate Majority Leader, only to fall after praising the old Dixiecrat racist, reprobate Strom Thurmond’s failed 1948 bid for president.

Lott is gone and Cochran now is fighting the Tea Party for a return to another six years of the “upper” House. From what I can gather, it seems the photography of poor Rose Cochran in her demented state is part of the newest jihad from the ultra conservative Republicans. Although I doubt his fingerprints are anywhere near this, the hideousness can in part linked to GOP wonder boy Karl Rove.

It is Rove who has raised questions about the age of Hillary Clinton and her health. Clinton would be the second oldest president behind, by mere months, Ronald Reagan. Clinton would be 77 at the end of two terms.

That Rove raises the question is of no matter. It is a question that should be raised. The Dems raised the questions upon the candidacy of Reagan, Bob Dole and John McCain. Although signs and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in Reagan came after his presidency, many wondered if he was showing signs of the dementia while in office.

As Americans continue to function in all sorts of endeavors while aging beyond what were formerly known as “natural” years, the question as to fitness will continue. It might not be always pleasant such as having the family “talk” about Grandpa giving up his car keys. What is not useful is the exploitation of age. And there is absolutely no place for the stupidity exhibited by those Tea Party geniuses who think it acceptable to sneak into the residence of an elderly, demented woman for a photo to harm the woman’s politician husband. If this is the message that Karl Rove is sending out, no matter how distorted the message, then he needs to shut the f*** up.

But I would suggest that for Rove in any event.