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Caseythoughts Often there are a lot of ideas jumping up and down in my brain, clamoring for attention, like an audience at a taping of Let's make A Deal: "Pick me, pick me!!!" emanating from the excited prospective participants to Monty Hall. I need to pick a couple of them (without the benefit of a Door Number Three), ideas that is, and they will possibly be viewed as far-fetched, and always practically unfiltered. First an observation on this past week in my own life, then a couple of follow-up notes to previous columns in the Lansing

I want to express a thought about an important experience I had on May 1st. The day is known internationally as Holocaust Remembrance Day and I have made it a personally important point to be at Temple Beth-El for their program on that day for the past several years. It's a wonderful and sobering experience and I'm grateful for the invitation every year.

But it was different this year. As I walked up Court Street, I couldn't help noticing two Ithaca Police cruisers parked on Court and Tioga Street, uniformed officers on the sidewalk. No lights, no indication of trouble. Just a presence, and I felt my heart sink as I realized how, even in Ithaca, a fear resides in the hearts of not just Jews, but everyone of faith. This world now seems to threaten everyone, everywhere, even when trying to honor the memory of the world's worst example of terror.

And as I approached the Temple, I felt I garnered an extra inquisitive glance from two of the officers. I realized that my Vietnam Veteran cap was not the same as what most of the men in the crowd wore, and it attracted the attention of officers being paid to notice the unusual. It was only a second or two of paranoia, but I recognized that that my feeling paled next to the paranoia that millions felt in Nazi Germany, and later in the evening as I listened to the guest speaker tell of being taught to trust uniformed men, then learning not to trust uniforms as a child who survived his worst nightmare. So real, these feelings, as I felt the reliving of the past become present in this 21st century reality. It was all I could do to place my hand upon my chest as I entered the sanctuary of the Temple and to ask God to bless us all.

Onto a few 'short' other thoughts. The American southwest border issue has now apparently been moved to the back burner (back pages?), although try telling that to thousands of hopeful refugees, border agents and active duty troops, but I did run into a short note about all that barbed wire strung across much of our border. We're laying a lot of it, you know, to slow down the hopeful horde. It turns out that some (much?) of the wire is being stolen and resold. Honestly, this is from the publication called 'The Week', dated April 5th. The razor wire, that nasty stuff, is being stolen and resold by thieves to Tijuana homeowners as extra security to protect their homes. One 'customer' said her 'supplier' had blond hair, blue eyes, and 'didn't speak very good Spanish'. Ahhh, capitalism.

Here's a follow-up to my column about "Follow the money" in the marijuana legalization saga. Who has money on the table? Remember John Boehner, former Speaker of the House? He has stock in Acreage Holdings, a major American grower of cannabis. That stock is worth approximately $20 million. William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, VP candidate on the Libertarian ticket in 2016 and challenger to Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, also owns about $20 million in stock in Acreage, Inc., and Brian Mulroney, former Canadian PM, has $13 million in stock in Canopy, LLC, a Canadian grower, who has bid to purchase Acreage in anticipation of American federal legislation to legalize pot. Must be nice to be 'out' of government, bidding millions (where'd they get that kind of money?) to be on the 'other side' of the revolving door.

Speaking of Canada, the people touting Medicare for All and singing the praises of the Canadian health system frequently point out a statistic such as the difference in male life expectancy between the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. male can expect to live 76.4 years, the Canadian male expects 79.4. But, let's put these numbers in a more reasonable and corrected light. Our homicide rate is 5.3 per 100,000, Canada's is 1.8 per 100,000. Homicides are in the life expectancy numbers, of course. How about the reality that American male life expectancy rates being adversely affected as well by drug overdoses, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and suicide, all dramatically different from Canada in most cases. But the factors cited above are not differences due to our healthcare systems. They are societal issues, not systemically addressable as health care politics. So, let's drop the 'life expectancy' arguments comparing us to other countries' health care systems. We're doing damage to ourselves that doctors, hospitals and systemic political shortcomings cannot address, much less fix.

My column decrying socialism has raised an interesting scenario: what if the 20 (or so) Democratic candidates for President (and didn't I tell you Biden would run?) were divided up so that the top 1% (of income? Or maybe popularity poll numbers?) had to share their debate time and campaign contributions with the 'bottom half' or so of the candidate field. Then the 'bottom half' could complain how unfairly they're being treated. Let's see how they like socialism and equality now. Equality has its interesting side, doesn't it folks?

Last note, again referencing a previous column in the Lansing Star. This time, I'm going to refer specifically to an issue of the Star. It was November 3, 2017 where I fictionally presented Vladimir Putin along with two KGB-inspired scenarios for the American election. To encourage you to go to the Lansing Star archives of previous issues I will not repeat the premise of the column. But I will refer you to a little noted paragraph in the Mueller Report (Geez, did he actually read that whole thing?). In the Mueller report, is a note that says Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russia's sovereign wealth fund and a close associate of Putin, received a message (email?) from an unidentified person on November 9th (day after U.S. election) that read: "Putin has won."

How Mueller's lieutenants or investigators received this intelligence is unnoted in the report as far as I can tell. But identifying the recipient so clearly and specifically has all the hallmarks of NSA/CIA, with whom I was quite familiar in my dark past. "Putin has won" may be interpreted by some as 'proof' of collusion and Putin's preference in our election. But, it's just as plausible as my original posit in the Lansing Star column of November 3rd, 2017. Plausible, indeed. You read it here, first. Sometimes I even scare myself.

Stay tuned.


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