I’m Fed Up With Almost Everything in this Country


I’m fed up with, essentially everything. 

First of all, we live in a country that, politically speaking, is so comically deadlocked as to be incapable of doing anything.  We’re like a quadriplegic, completely paralyzed from the neck down, pretending to be playing in the NFL.  Are you even paying attention?  We can’t get out of our own way.   It’s like the last President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina has become the operating model for our government.

Meanwhile, nothing… and I do mean almost nothing… is getting better in our good old USA. 

I say “almost” because admittedly tech’s gotten better.  Like, I suppose… cell phones have gotten “smarter” over the last few years… Netflix and “On Demand” are both nice… I do like the new flat screen “smart” television sets more than previous generations… and we bought a plug-in hybrid car this last time around.  It can get close to 90 MPG, depending on where and how you drive it.  I like that.

I don’t like that as I write this there are jeans ON SALE at Nordstom RACK for $79.95… with holes in them.  How can worn out jeans for $79.95 be considered “a deal?”  They’re something like 60 percent off their regular price, making them normally… $200 jeans!  And no one is saying a word about it… no one is marching in the streets.  What if toothbrushes all of a sudden start selling for $75 each?  Are we all going to sit quietly through that sort of event too?

No kidding around… have you priced a new SUV of any stature lately?  I mean, like a Chevy Tahoe, or even a Ford Explorer?  You’re not getting out of the dealership under $40k for the Ford… and you’ll be lucky to find a nice Tahoe for less than $55,000.  The VW Touareg is in the $60,000 range and forget about the Range Rover, BMW or Mercedes models… they can all set you back by $70k and then some.

What is the world has happened?  Since when does a Chevy Tahoe cost more than a kidney transplant?

And what in the world is going on in Washington DC?  Is anyone anywhere close to being happy with their performance… or maybe I should ask… what does their performance consist of, exactly.  The last bill of any significance I can recall was Dodd Frank and it’s been causing nothing but pure havoc in financial institutions ever since. 

The Affordable Care Act… or Obamacare… was passed into law in when… 2010?  Or maybe it was 2011?  Five or more years ago, and it’s still talked about by those on the right like it’s the bill guaranteed to end quality health care in this country. 

Here we are five years after the president signed it, and if it weren’t the subject of ongoing and inane debate, honestly, I would have forgotten about it by now.  Its impact on my life has been… well… nothing.  I’m still paying $1500 a month so I can have health insurance that requires me to pay $4,000 out of pocket before it kicks in and doesn’t cover whatever my doctor prescribes.  All I can do is hope to get some costly disease in order to get something out of my $20,000 a year. 

So, I’m living in a country where getting leukemia has its upside.

I always hear people talking about American men in their 50s… how we all drink too much, smoke too much, weigh too much.  And it’s like some sort of mystery to those who write about the subject.  Well, I know the answer.  It’s because we’re ready to go.  We’re tired.  I didn’t say we want to go… just that we’re ready.

This is why the US Armed Forces should really consider drafting men in their 50s for combat missions.  You show me a guy who’s raised a family in this country over the last 30 years, and I’ll show you someone who will shoot anyone for almost any reason.  And since I now have to get up three of four times a night to pee anyway… hell, I might as well shoot someone. 

Just give me my loaded M-16 and point me at anyone wearing a towel on his head and they’re as good as dead.  And I don’t care if anyone protests what I’m doing either.  If I land in San Fran after my tour in Afghanistan and someone calls me a “baby killer,” I won’t even flinch.  And I might even kill her baby, if its handy.

I’d like to ask Bernie Madoff a question, now that it’s been several years since he fleeced the planet before turning himself in.  Is it better on the inside or out?  I’m not kidding… his answer might just surprise you.  Every time I see footage of him in prison, he’s either walking peacefully or playing checkers.  He gets three meals a day and I’m sure has settled into the routine.  And there’s no one trying to strong-arm him because his mortgage is running late.


Is it just me or have bill collectors gotten more aggressive since the meltdown of 2008?  I can’t remember my water ever being anywhere close to being turned off.  Today, forget to send in your water bill and in a week or two, you could find yourself high and dry.  I’ve been paying my particular water bill since 1989, but if May’s bill doesn’t get paid in full by this coming Monday, I’m done taking showers and at risk of dying from dehydration.  Can’t the water company make it for a month or two, secure in the knowledge that I can’t get away with their water?

And then there’s my now indispensable cable/phone/Internet service, which is $250 a month… and I haven’t even used our land line since 1998.  Nor do I watch much television.  Okay, so I do use the Internet, but the Internet is free in downtown Fullerton, which is where we live, so how can it be free to use downtown, but cost so much to use when in my home.  If I actually did the math on this monthly expenditure, I think I’d discover that I pay more per hour to watch Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy than I would pay to get a massage.

Of course, I can no longer leave the house without a $700 pocket computer than runs at about the speed of dial up and is so small I can’t read most of what it shows me.  Yes, I can play Candy Crush, but that just makes me want to beat someone to death with a bat.  When you see that someone is on level 177, do you feel like congratulating him or her… or does it make you want to throw yourself in front of a moving train? 

Smart phones are now running about $700 and if you can keep one for over 90 days without cracking the screen, you’ve got a jeweler’s touch.  Why can’t they make screens that don’t break when you bump them against anything harder than a summer peach?  And what’s with the batteries in phones and everything else?

Your iPad will last for days, the ads proclaim, but try to watch an entire movie while flying from coast to coast and you’ll never make it.  When they say it will stay charged for 16 hours, or whatever, they mean that’s how long it will last if you’re not using it. 

Why would I care how long it will last when I’m not using it?  What else advertises how long it will last if never used?  See this lawn mower?  It’s designed to last for 300 years… if you never turn it on or use it to mow a lawn.


But, want to know what doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to?  A washing machine.  My parents bought their washing machine when I was too small to remember, and I’m pretty sure it’s still washing clothes today.  On the other hand, I bought a brand new Whirlpool Colibria in 2007… and had to replace it last year.  I called a repair person and they came out, saw “Error F4,” and proclaimed it DOA.  The guy said it wasn’t worth fixing because it would be cheaper to just buy a new one, which means it would cost more than $700 to repair it?  Unbelievable.

Has washing machine technology changed that much since the 1960s.  If so, I can’t tell.  My clothes today feel just like they did when I was six, coming out of the dryer… Tide still looks about the same too, and Woolite doesn’t even appear to have updated its packaging since “Leave it to Beaver” was in the top ten.  So, what’s so new about a washing machine that could make it expire years before a car does?  I don’t drive my washing machine 100,000 miles, all it does is spin and shake… just like it did in 1962.

And once it breaks, it can’t even be repaired?  Come on… do they think we’re complete idiots?  Is there some giant washing machine graveyard somewhere containing the Mt. Everest of washing machines?  Where do they go once they’re in “F-4” condition and therefore unrepairable? 

I think when I get a little older, maybe I’ll just stop machine washing clothes… I’ll wear a lot less… maybe just wash out a few things by hand in the sink now and again.  I’ll bet you that once you’re in your mid 80s, it’s cheaper to just buy new clothes and some extra cologne than pay for water and another washing machine.

Remember the TARP funds?  No?  Well, that’s no surprise because no one inside the beltway can either.  They still don’t know where they all went.  Like the money we’re still pouring down rat hole after rat hole in Afghanistan.  We’re forced to hear stories on the news about how we can’t find where $9 billion went… and stuff equally maddening. 

How’s this… a memo to our political types… you guys find a few of the billions you’ve lost before we have to pay our taxes again?  Deal?  Look, I don’t mind paying taxes, but if all you’re going to do is lose the money half way around the world in a country that sure doesn’t look to be worth saving, then do it on someone else’s dime, capisce?

I’m at the point where I’d be okay with announcing that the last person to leave any of the “Stans” just turn off the lights and bring the flag.  Screw it.  I’ll just hunker down and await the next 9-11 type event.  If we have one every 20 years, we’ll be way ahead of where we’re headed today.  Think of it like a new edition of “The Hunger Games”… a thinning of the herd, as it were.

Remember our new car I was telling you about?  The one that plugs in and can get up to 90 MPG under the right circumstances?  Well, why aren’t ALL cars capable of doing that same thing?  Ours is a Ford Fusion Energi… it’s not some exotic zillion dollar thing… it was less than $35,000 out the door.  But, if I want an Explorer, it’s $40,000 and up and only gets 18 MPG, if I’m both conservative and lucky.

Why is that?  Why can’t they just put the Explorer’s body on top of my car’s chassis?  Well, they can… of course they can.  They won’t though, because that wouldn’t make them as much money.  So we’re screwed again… and they get their corporate bonuses for maximizing our discomfort and expense.  If you think about it, it’s a wonder that so many corporate executives live past the age of 40, isn’t it?


In case you don’t have kids of college age, and therefore don’t know how much college costs today, let me offer you the 411.  For less than four years at a decent university, you could buy a decent size boat, become a Dive Master, open a charter service in Tahiti and a sandwich shop on the beach where your spouse could spend his or her days dealing with the stress of asking people if they want mayo or mustard… and you’d still have $40,000 left over in your savings account. 

If the cost of college was the same when I was 18, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gone.  I mean, my parents wanted me to go to college, but had the cost been five times what their five bedroom home had cost, they very well might have encouraged me to enroll in a trade school.

I’m completely fed up with everything that has to do with banking.  Like, why is it that when I deposit a check, my bank has to hold it for a week to 10 days before I get my money, but when I write a check it somehow manages to clear my account in a matter of hours?  And God forbid your credit card payment arrives a week late.  That’s become the sort of transgression that can result in your Citibank card turning into your local loan shark as far as interest and penalties go.

Buying a home today requires you to sign your name 900 times on 500 pieces of paper that no one person has ever read en total, and if you somehow missed a car payment in 2002, you might not get the loan.   

Have you gone grocery shopping lately?  A box of cereal today looks to be about the same size as a travel backgammon set and it costs five bucks and change.  Pour yourself a couple of bowls of Cheerios and you’re done with having breakfast until you save up enough to do it all over again.

And what on God’s green Earth is a “burnt kale salad?”  Who decided that we need crummier tasting lettuce, wasn’t lettuce tasteless enough?  Anything you have to pour dressing all over to eat is missing flavor of its own, wouldn’t you say?  So, burnt kale?  That’s got two reasons not to eat it right in the name… because it’s burnt and because it’s kale.

It’s reached the point where I’m not actually worried about obesity in this country, because once you retire you won’t be able to afford to eat enough to cause you to gain weight.  Baby boomers in their 70s and 80s are all going to be dieting, not because of the health risk that comes with being fat, but because it’s a wealth retention strategy.


And we’re not going to fix anything… we can’t.  If the Democrats propose it, the Republicans would rather shut down the federal government than concede that any part of it is an okay idea.  We’re not only addicted to sports, we’re hooked on watching people in suits fighting over something that’s not going to change anyway.

I think it would be fun for a Democrat to propose a bill advocating cream in coffee… just to watch the GOP come out united in opposition.  Vote NO on cream in coffee!  It would be hysterical to watch, no?

I don’t know why we’re even planning on holding another presidential election in 2016. 

At last count there were 19 Republican candidates… and not one of them has the slightest chance of winning.  Hillary is going to win.  And if you don’t think so, check out the sites that allow you to wager on who will be the winner in ’16.  If you want to bet on Hillary, you have to bet a dollar to win a dime… if you want to bet on any of those from the RNC it’s the opposite or even worse.  So what does that tell you about the what the oddsmakers think is coming.

I don’t actually care whether Hillary wins, however.  It’s not like she’s going to be able to change anything anyway.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude, Louder, Loudest from Wherever U, and has the world’s leaders on her speed dial.  And besides, whose running the government now?  How much worse or better could it be?  I certainly don’t care which email account she uses, and if you do… well, you should see me for something to worry about.

I can remember the 1970s, which was another time of great frustration for most Americans, but at least the music was better.  Today, I’m being forced to watch everything go to pot against a soundtrack of rappers talking about rape like crooners used to sing about falling in love. 

And Bruce Jenner is now a woman named “Caitlyn.”

All combined it’s enough to make the most patriotic among us ready to learn the lyrics to “Oh Canada.”  Except for the weather, of course.  I’m pretty sure that if Canada were located where Mexico is, half the country would already be living there.

Of course, that’s just me…


Mandelman out.

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