DEER HUNT (poem) by Judson Jerome

DEER HUNT (poem) by Judson Jerome


Because the warden is a cousin, my

mountain friends hunt in summer, when the deer

cherish each rattler-ridden spring, and I

have waited hours by a pool in fear

that manhood would require I shoot, or that

the steady drip of the hill would dull my ear

to a snake whispering near the log I sat

upon, and listened to the yelping cheer

of dogs and men resounding ridge to ridge.

I flinched at every lonely rifle crack,

my knuckles whitening where I gripped the edge

of age and clung, like retching, sinking back

then gripping once again the monstrous gun,

since I, to be a man, had taken one.




So many changes. Any time you can talk to someone whose life has spanned more decades than yours, an interesting discussion could result if you asked about big changes they had observed. I thought I’d take you through a small walk about healthcare as I have experienced it. I suspect this post will be longer than most I write.

My mom trained as a nurse in the 1940s and met a doctor studying to be a pediatrician at the hospital in New York City. When she and my dad moved to New Jersey they were thrilled the doctor had set up practice in the next town and I was told years later that I was his first baby, whatever that implies. Anyway, we would go to his office, located in the first floor of a multi-family house and wait to be call in. I read Highlights magazines and graduated later to Readers Digest. (I guess some things never change.) I had my first asthma attack at age 5 playing with a hula hoop. I received allergy shots with needles that were sterilized with the glass syringes in the doctor’s office in their autoclave. When I was too sick to go to his office, he came to our house. The house call that no longer exists.

In college I went to the college infirmary. The healthcare fee was covered in our overall tuition which was about $500 a year. My 19-year-old skiing accident where I banged up my knee was ignored and over a few weeks I healed. I developed arthritis in that knee in my 40s. (Life lesson…if you get hurt, even if you are young and can heal well, go get help to make sure you are healing correctly.)

My first job after college was for the State of Tennessee in Nashville. I really do not remember the insurance plan provided but it would have been a large group of state employees. I didn’t see a doctor at all except my annual checks for health and I ended up with a minor surgery. I did not take any medication in those days. I don’t remember the fees but I do remember there was no stress in paying even though I was making about $6,000 a year.

I changed jobs and moved to Memphis a few years later and in the course of the move, hurt my back. My new insurance was through my company even though the injury happened before my first day of work there was no waiting period. I saw a chiropractor a few times and then an orthopedic specialist for a year before opting for surgery. There were no MRIs in those days and I was in the hospital for four days. My portion of the bill was under $100. I also started allergy shots again while living there and paid $1 per shot.

I ended up a few years later in Connecticut. My husband worked and had Blue Cross through his employer. He needed counseling and later a short hospitalization. I started take blood pressure medication. We had two babies (one by C-section). One baby needed a couple of surgeries. Our co-pays for medicine were $1. The hospital bills were $500 for the C-section, $300 for the next delivery VBAC, and the other surgeries were about $300 each.

That husband and I split and I was able to pick up coverage for a Kaiser Permanente HMO plan through a small business group. I paid $400 a month for a family plan which included my two kids and me, and later, a new husband. It had no co-pays nor prescription costs.  I fell and hurt my back again. Again I saw a chiropractor for a while and then he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. Still no MRI in those days. The hospital stay was two days and I think my bill was about $700. I later had a miscarriage and the D&C cost nothing since it was done in the office. My last baby was born in the same hospital as the first, eleven years before but was also a VBAC and cost about $500.

Then I moved back to Nashville and my husband started working for the State of Tennessee and we had an HMO plan through Aetna. Prescriptions were $2 or $5 each. Doctor visits to our primary physician were free. Specialists were more and this was when things started getting really interesting since my husband was soon diagnosed with brain cancer. We were sent for a C-Scan one day and then an MRI the next. The specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center ran a “kazillion” tests to determine where the tumor was located and the potential effect removal would have. Surgery was scheduled and became the day my life seriously changed as he had the equivalent of a stroke on the operating table and was not expected to survive. But he made it through the night, improved in fits and starts in eight weeks in the ICU, another two weeks in a regular room and then home. Physical therapy was provided at home for a few sessions and then we went to the clinic for that. I understood the coverage for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy was for five weeks. The clinic suggested visits twice a week. We asked for and went daily every weekday of those five weeks. At that point he had improved enough that they wanted to try the surgery they had had to stop five months before. It went well, with two weeks in ICU and then home after another week. The bill, when it got to us and I finally figured out the in-and-out and all-around nonsense, was $7500 to us.  (To Be Continued)



Of the many, almost uncountable mistakes Donald Trump has made in his first week in office, perhaps the most foolish is his insistence on the “three to five million” fraudulent votes cast. Anyone who knows me is aware of my belief that The Embarrassment-in-Chief has never developed rational thinking skills, but this particular folly proves that there seems to be no one around him who has them either. Perhaps someone who has these skills should make some large charts to explain the following.


It should be noted that state election officials, along with members of congress, state there was no voter fraud anywhere near this level.

In an interview on CNN with Chris Cuomo, Gregg Phillips stated he would have a report in several months detailing the voting irregularities. This is after saying specifically that there were three million illegal votes cast. When pushed to provide the information supporting his claim, he said he didn’t have it. When asked how he could say this without completing his research, he appeared puzzled. He evidently didn’t understand the question. At the very least, Mr. Phillips has made a rather inflammatory statement based on preliminary research which has not been completed and won’t be completed for some months. Generally, folks who write computer programs are pretty good at linear thinking, but the evidence says something different in this case.

If this claim proves not to be true, Donald Trump is going to be embarrassed that he claimed there were voting irregularities. I suspect in this case, there will simply be…no report…kind of like his providing his tax returns.


If the claim proves to be true, as noted by Jim Wright in his blog “Stonekettle Station,” the election is clearly not valid since there is no way to prove for whom all those three million-plus people voted. Not all Afro-American or Hispanic voters voted for Hillary, after all, so there should be SOME “illegal” votes cast for Donald Trump. Additionally, all the other elections held in November are clearly NOT valid since there were so many invalid ballots. Therefore, all elections from November 2016 will need to be declared invalid and the elections will need to be held again.

I hope someone will start working on those charts, film them, and then show them to Donald on television. That seems to be the most persuasive way to convince him.




I tried to be a caring parent, providing a lot of positive messages to my kids while teaching them life lessons and tricks that would permit them to become successful adults who could participate in and contribute to society. More than once they would come home from school complaining about some rule which they considered to be inane, because it was a no-brainer as far as they were concerned.


I had to tell them that many children were not being taught basic rules of community behavior that would permit them to fit in without negative consequence, so in large groups and organizations, like schools and like mother jobs in their future, there were going to be rules that might be nit-picky at best and downright rigid at worst. I also told my kids that if they didn’t know the rules in any given place just to follow my rules and they should be in good standing.

I never beat my kids. I did not like getting spanked or yelled at as a child, and I strongly disagree with any adult who feels those are the only ways to get a child to pay attention. I think if you start early enough, the teaching can be done better. The problem as I see it, is that many people do not nip a problem when it is small, and so, react in a larger way when it becomes greatly annoying. And being bigger and stronger only lasts so long with children.


So, in many families there is a system of uncertainty for the kids. They do what they want and  then boom!–they are punished. For many of those people, as they grow up, they like knowing the rules. They feel safer when there are rules. They like having someone give them strict boundaries for behavior that will keep them out of trouble.

Until they don’t like it. And then they have no way to work through it. They have been taught to conform, to swallow any impulse to think differently. So, if annoyed by the power above them, they tend to strike at those they consider weaker. And so the cycle is perpetuated.

Right now we have a large segment of the U.S. population who seem to like the idea of a strong leader who makes pronouncements instead of working with others. In fact, many people are confused with the marches and protests that have been happening since they perceive no threat to their own small world. Why is it some of us perceive a threat when others are unconcerned? It can not simply be that we are smarter but perhaps we read more and remember history better than others. Perhaps that reading and learning hasw helped us to recognize the clues of starting problems before they get really large.

We are also seeing many other nations leaning towards a conservative government; in fact, it is interesting to note that the one liberal government that exists in a major European nation right now is Germany. Perhaps their own experience with a fascist dictator taught them all they need to know.

Let’s hope that the lesson America is about to learn does not have a similar high a price to pay.

[Beth Rankin is an entrepreneur par excellence, mother, wife (to Graham Rankin, a retired professor), blogger, and writer who lives in McMinnville, Oregon. She is the CEO of her own successful company which processes, preserves, and moves foods from farm to table.  Beth’s own blog is at:  Please go to Beth’s website and subscribe for many first-hand articles that we do not re-print.  We are very grateful to Beth for allowing us to expose our readership to her efforts.]





“I discovered I could no longer believe any of it”

Donald Trump is now president of the United States. He has vowed to repeal Obamacare. Repeal will hurt millions of people on Obamacare, directly and indirectly. But there is much that we can do.

While perusing the many feeds I follow, a RawStory piece grabbed me pretty quickly. This article was about a Facebook post by Bruce Horst, detailing his struggle with Christianity and Obamacare. Interestingly, Bruce is a friend that I had not spoken to in years. We were both members of Coffee Party USA and always tried to make a difference in the body politic.

A few years ago Bruce and I went out to lunch and enjoyed some pho at V Bistro. I remember him telling me about his disillusionment with evangelical Christians, so his Facebook post was no surprise. Bruce explains why he had to make the break:

Bruce Horst

Bruce Horst

In 2010 I had been a Conservative Evangelical Christian for all of my adult life. I began to realize that others around me despised the thought of allowing people like me the benefit of affordable health insurance. For some reason, all of the Christians that I knew thought that offering health insurance to people like me would put them at some kind of a disadvantage that they were not willing to accept. Frankly, they had been lied to so they believed those ‘others’ were going to get healthcare and make their own health care inadequate,

As a Christian, I believed that I would be judged on the Final Judgment Day on how I took care of the ‘least of these’ as described in the Bible book of Matthew, Chapter 25. I came to the sober realization that Christians around me had no such convictions. If they didn’t believe Jesus’ words as recorded in the Bible, why should I? Then one day I discovered I could no longer believe any of it.

He then had an admonishment for evangelical Christians:

That was six and a half years ago. Today, I’m more comfortable in my position in life than I’ve ever been. I still have a lot of Evangelical friends, but I can say with confidence that the vast majority of them are not followers of Jesus. Not the Jesus that the Bible speaks of, anyway.

I have friends who are alive today because of Obamacare. Probably all of us do. To me, this proves my Christian friends are not pro-life, but instead they’ve been told they are as a matter of manipulation, probably to keep them putting money in the offering plate, or voting for the ‘right’ candidate. One thing is clear to me, they are not really pro-life.

If my Christian friends insist that healthcare only be given to people based on their ability to pay for such care, I would have to believe that the Jesus of the Bible would say to them, ‘depart from me, I never knew you.’ Just like he did in Matthew 25.

I called Bruce after seeing the piece to catch up. He said since leaving his church his sanity improved. Trying to conform to an ideology that does not mesh with his innate beliefs affected his health, and gave him headaches. “I  can now live a congruent lifestyle,” he said.

Bruce was self-employed in 2010. As an overweight person with some medical predispositions, he could not purchase health insurance at any price in the individual market. Bruce taught bible study in his church twice a week and had good things to say about Obamacare and the benevolence of the law. A senior pastor approached him and told him that maybe he would be happier elsewhere.

Bruce joined a free thinking group in Houston. He said Ray Hill, another friend of mine who is a well-known activist in Houston, gave an inspiring address that became a catalyst for his article and likely more to come.

“We must encourage people to write their personal stories,” Bruce said. “Memes are great, but it is now time that we tell read stories to make a difference.” Bruce said he listened to a recent Obama speechwriters podcast that point out that it is silly for Democrats to concenterate on Trump’s evil acts. His offensive nature does not influence people.

“Talking about real people is what matters,” Bruce said. “Talk about things that are hurting real people.”

Progressives’ demand for an unattainable purity is one of our biggest problems. We invest too many resources in idealism, rather than on things we can accomplish today through compromise until we’ve built up our mass movement appropriately.

Bruce ended our conversation with this.

“I am not offended by one’s beliefs, but what they do,” he said. “I won’t judge you on what you believe, but on what you do.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Egberto Willies is a freelance writer.  This article appeared first in Daily Koz on Sunday, January 22, 2017.  It is re-printed here by permission of Daily Kos.]