Sunday, July 31, 2011

Salvation Diary 49

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

August 21 Wednesday Day 344

Clyde Foster has returned to us, making it his third time here. It's good to have him. Let's hope that he can stick it out and accomplish whatever goals he might have.
Kevin Rockoff went and got himself a job as a security guard. He starts tomorrow at 10:00AM. Tomorrow's his birthday. He'll be 33.
Happy birthday Kevin!
He tells me that he's going to marry his mail order Indian princess January 10th.
Good for him.
I attended a safety meeting in the afternoon. Ernie Sens was there, along with Clarence Orion, his wife Pattie (the Major's secretary), Frank Corona, Charles Parsons, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Cunningham. We talked about safety. We decided to become earthquake prepared, to have fire drills and a building evacuation plan in case of emergencies. We also decided to send me, Frank, Clarence, and Charles, to a Red Cross CPR class. We're going to learn CPR and other life saving procedures. Maybe we'll be able to save someone's life and become heros.
I had a headache. I took some Extra Strength Tylenol tablets. The headache went away.
I walked outside to smoke a cigarette after chapel and talked to Marvin Smith. I asked him how it was going. He said slow. He is our bailer. His job is to bail up all the clothes that the Salvation Army collects but cannot resell. Cardboard boxes too.
Marvin told me that it was the slowest day he'd ever had.
"Really," I said. "Just think. Of all the days I could have picked to ask you how it was going, I picked this one, the slowest day you've ever had. What are the chances of that happening?"
"Yeah, in eight months..."
"Eight months! That's almost like... two hundred and fifty days, isn't it? What are the odds? It must be something like two hundred and fifty to one, Marvin. And I beat the odds! We beat the odds Marvin. You and I, because I certainly couldn't have done it without you..."
On and on.
The coup in the U.S.S.R. has been smashed. Civil resistance, world opinion and scrutiny, and no clear plan of what to do with the power once it was acquired, doomed the attempt to failure almost from the very beginning. That country has a rough road ahead. I wish Mr. Gorbachev well.
And Cathy came tonight, and was still very upset about Spotty. The kitty may have a fever.
Cathy tells me, she herself, has not slept well for two weeks, and hasn't had much of an appetite. I gave her the benefit of my vast storehouse of veterinary knowledge, cautioned her to take care of herself first and generally tried to reassure that everything would be okay. That, along with the cat book I had given to her previously was about all I could do. I can't solve her problems for her, nor anybody else's, but I hope I can be of assistance if she wants me to be.
Then I sent her on her way.
Then I made sure everything was nice and tidy in the residence before we put the place to rest for the night. I counted money, organized counselor's lists, adjusted ledgers, locked doors, and put out the dog. After everyone was in I performed my last nightly chore, going through all the dorms, I tucked everyone in nice and tight, offered a comforting word if needed, listened to problems, and told an occasional bedtime story until the men's eyes drooped shut and they drifted off into gentle slumber.
Then I made my way to my lonely room, undressed, did two thousand butt naked push and sit ups... then I too dozed.
Tomorrow we would do it all again.

August 22 Thursday Day 345

Today, we did it all again.
And did it well.

August 23 Friday Day 346

Cathy gave me a call last night. I have a note to prove it.
At 9:30PM, I came to my office from the sample room, where I had began a batch of urine tests. I was there to finish up some paper work.
I found a note on my desk which said this, "Cathy 920 RKC." I asked myself what the "RKC" might mean. I said, "What the fuck does 920 RKC mean? Was Cathy maliciously marauded by 920 cases of renegade Royal Krown Cola?"
I asked Jack Crossley, the duty desk man, if he had taken the message.
"Uaaaah... no," was his considered reply.
I showed him the little piece of paper with the message scrawled on it, and asked him who had put it on my desk.
"Uaaaah... not me."
"Well Jack, this wasn't here when I left my office. That tells me that someone put it there, probably a human being in close proximity to our present location. They placed this piece of paper on my desk, after taking a message from this phone here, or the one on my desk. Now who do you think this person might be? Have any idea at all Jack?"
After several minutes I was able to wrangle from Jack that Roger Collins had briefly watched the desk while Jack used the restroom. I went in search of Roger and eventually found him out front smoking a cigarette.
"Did you take a message for me, Roger?"
"Well, what did she say? Did she say anything?"
"No. No message."
"Well, what does 920 RKC mean, Roger?"
"She called at nine twenty, and just asked if you would call her back. I put my initials there so you would know who took the call."
"What's your middle name? Kevin?"
"Thanks Roger."
I called Cathy from up in the sample room. She just wanted to tell me she had taken Spotty to the vet, and that the cat had been given an injection of antibiotics and seemed to be feeling better now. Spotty and Pee Wee are friends once again, and Cathy is relieved.
I too, was very relieved.
We talked endlessly (twenty minutes) about this and that. She gave me some useful pointer regarding the school registration process I would be going through. She asked me to give her a call sometime.
This morning I got up early, collected my paycheck from Robert, then caught a ride with Harold Eversley and Joe Brown to the bank.
When I got back (returned), I found Robert in one of the small T.V. rooms taking a driver's safety test from the video machine. He had just started (began) when I walked in, thereby giving me the rare opportunity to distract him.
The test is given (administered) to all employees who may, for one reason or another, come to use one of the Salvation Army's vehicles. There are 33 filmed driving episodes, each with a potential hazard that the test taker must identify, and then choose the most correct response to avoid injury or accident (one out of four possible answers). A correct answer scores 3 points, the least desirable response gets you a big fat 0. It is necessary to get as many numerical points as possible, hopefully gaining enough points to pass the test. One must pay strict attention to the recorded driving scenes or one will miss important clues and potential hazards.
Robert's comment when the first scene appeared: "I can't see anything!"
I had taken the test two days ago, scoring a 74 out of a possible 99.
Robert, when finished, somehow managed a 104.
Robert would have other problems associated with driving this day. Last night his new car overheated. He has determined that the thermostat was responsible, and made arrangements to replace it.
As I was leaving for PCC to register for class, Robert called me over to make a deal. He would drive his car over to the Mobile station to have his thermostat replaced, and I would follow him in Red Shield 15, pick him up, and he would then take me to school.
It sounded like a good plan to me, and probably would have worked out just fine if he hadn't locked his keys inside of his car.
Upon discovering this fact, he said, "Well I'll be go to hell!"
He took me to PCC using Red Shield 15, and then went to El Monte to buy more bus tokens for the center. Later he had one of our many car door technicians open his car with a Slim Jim so he could retrieve his keys.
Further into the evening he would lock himself out of his room.
I got to (arrived) at school fifteen minutes early. I found the class I wanted was still available, and was happy about that. I smiled mischievously.
At two o'clock I got in line and registered. It took about thirty minutes of mostly waiting around to complete the procedure, and cost me $26.50, but other than that, the whole ordeal was relatively harmless.
I'll be going to school on Tuesday afternoons, from four until seven.
I got a free photo I.D. too.
I returned (got back) to the residence in time to start work at 3:30 (three thirty).
John Swisher had got a visit from the paramedics while I was away. He would be on bed rest for the entire weekend.
He is the new As-Is Yard supervisor, and has a tendency to work too hard in the hot sun, and into such a frenzy that he tends to collapse quite often.
He's nuts.
I also talked to Ernie Sens at dinner. We discussed the upcoming CPR class I would be taking.
"You know," he said, "those dummies they use are really sophisticated now. You start giving them artificial respiration for fifteen minutes and you begin to get emotionally involved. As they start breathing on their own... you really want those dummies to make it."
I spent most of my shift reading and writing. I thought about how much I wanted to give Cathy unnecessary artificial respiration.
It had been a good day. I had enjoyed every minute of it and felt fine.

August 24 Saturday Day 347

I continued to feel good this morning. I woke up and yawned. I reached over and grabbed my copy of Vonnegut's "Jailbird," and read two chapters, read a couple from the Book of Luke, thumbed through "Co dependent No More," a book Cathy had lent to me, then got up and took a nice shower.
I wrote downstairs for a while in the lobby, until lunchtime (chicken patties), then went to the park for an hour and roasted while listening to vintage Elton John.
After a second shower, I slid down to the canteen and got myself a nice cup of coffee and continued to write until it was time to go to work.
There wasn't too much to do when I got there. I fiddled around mostly. Robert Vasquez was roaming around, so I kept myself looking like I was actually doing something worthwhile and constructive.
Robert seems to spend more time in the residence on his days off than when he's working.
Or is just my imagination?
At eight o'clock I called Cathy's number. I wanted to say hello (pitifully force myself into her life), see how Spotty and Pee Wee were doing, and tell her of my registration experiences. However she was not at home. I talked to her answering machine instead. Her answering machine sounds suspiciously like Cathy.
I copied down some passages from Nan Robertson's, "Getting Better," then started another Whitney Strieber novel, "Majestic."
There had been some kind of Jazz festival during the day, up on Colorado and Fair Oaks. It continued on into the evening as well. I had not checked it out because I did not wish to become part of the crowd today, but a lot of our guys did. A couple of them got a little too festive and blew positive on the breath-a-lizer. One of them told me, "I swear Rick, all I was doing was kissing this girl. Her alcohol flooded breath must have been inducted into my lungs!"
I wished them well.

August 25 Sunday Day 348

Another wonderful day. My God, I'm glad I don't drink anymore!
Cathy did not return my call so I had no plans for the day. Regular Sunday routine for me
During collection in chapel, Clyde Foster, who was helping me with the middle section, kept passing his plate down the same isle I was working. What would happen was the two plates would collide in the center and stop, which took an inordinate amount of time (while the confusion abated) for the process to resume.
For some reason this happens almost every Sunday.
Ron Collins wimped out like a little snot (as did I last week), and did not go with me to the Sunday morning A.A. speaker meeting at the American Legion building in South Pasadena. I did though, and had a very good time.
During the coffee break a girl by the name of Gary sat next to me, and we talked about how nice it was to be sober. She's a cocktail waitress.
Women seem to sense my natural strength and sexual prowess, and flock to me (fantasy).
A retired judge of the state Supreme Court was our guest speaker. He now works part time as the announcer at Dodger and Rams games. He related that while still a Municipal Court judge and attending a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, he was approached by a woman wanting her court card signed (a verification of attedance at a 12 Step meeting mandated by a court). He told the lady that he would be happy to, but he was not the meeting's secretary.
"No, but you're the bastard that sent me here!"
When she returned to his court he discovered that she had been to exactly twice the meetings he had stipulated she attend.
"Why did you go to this many meetings?" he asked her.
"Because of you!" she replied. "I started to like the meetings so much that I resented the fact that you made me go to them. So I went on my own!"
After the meeting I walked to the residence with Brian Montique, then went to the park for an hour.
After dinner I took in the sights and sounds of Colorado Blvd> on a Sunday evening. There were many women giving me the old eye (extreme fantasy).
I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out how my word processor worked. I managed to make a file, and named it "Sal." The file consisted of the first three sentences of this memoir.
Near eleven, thoroughly exhausted and confused, I went to bed.

August 26 Monday Day 349

For some reason I woke up thoroughly confused. This is a natural state for us recovering alcoholics and drug addicted individuals, and should be expected.
I shook my head several times, in a vigorous fashion, and became oriented once again.
A little while later I got up, went to the bathroom and smoked an unauthorized cigarette. I changed into my yellow swim trunks and went to the weight room to lift and pull on heavy objects with lots of density for about thirty minutes.
After I finished I returned to my room and changed into street clothes, then wrote in the lobby.
Wendy came in, looking fresh and beautiful, with long, flowing blonde hair (how many blondes are there in the world, do you think?). We talked a little about school registration and Shakespeare (and not necessarily in that order), then she got sucked into the counseling vortex.
As I headed upstairs to put my notebook away I heard Robert bawling out Roger Collins, accusing him of smoking in the bathroom because he had found my cigarette butt in the toilet. Apparently it had survived the flush.
"I didn't do it! I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" Roger exclaimed.
Later Robert informed me that he would be on the lookout for any unauthorized smoking in the bathrooms.
I told him, "If I find'em... Bam! Out they go! Won't even give 'em time to pack their bags. All these smokers should go downtown to Seventh Street and Towne (Skid Row), where they belong!"
"Good man," he mused. "Of course they'll probably let them back in the next day. But that's neither here nor there... it's our job to kick them out."
After lunch (chicken nuggets again), instead of going to the park, I went to the movies. "Dead Again," had just been released, and I thought it might be worthwhile.
It was. I thought I knew who the killer was from the first scene, but the writer threw a curve at the last minute and it turned out to be someone else. The film explored reincarnation, a subject I have a lot of problems with, but what the hell, it was a very well made film, a triumph for Kevin Branagh, it's star and director. The black and white footage was very stylish, and the opening scene was particularly effective.
The female lead wasn't too bad either, who ever she was. Wonderful actress, she may be British. She had the kind of face (a beautiful one at that) that looks familiar even though you're sure you've never seen her before. Very interesting.
I may have fell in love with her... secretly.
I think I'm positive of it.
Later on I caught a ride with Harold Eversley to the mall. Harold had given me a tip that Miller's Outpost was having a sale. Indeed, I found a shirt I liked for $20. I bought it, and walked back to the residence.
At dinner, the cooks brought out a little birthday cake for Jerry Schimmele. He was fifty eight years old. I had bought him a card the day before. "I'm not giving you a funny birthday card," the printing on the front proclaimed. On the inside it said, "The fact that I'm giving you a card at all is funny enough."
Jerry is a good and reliable friend and therefore open to as much abuse as I can muster.
I included a ten dollar bill within the card because I'm such a nice guy and all.
But not genuinely.
I was all set to watch another exciting episode of Steven Spielberg's "Tiny Toon Adventures," when I noticed that it had been preempted by a stupid Dodger baseball game.
The Dodgers probably lost. I didn't watch it to find out. I played with my word processor some more, and got it to do some more tricks.
Barbara was now back from her two week vacation in Montana. She said it rained almost the entire time she was there. Now she was free to return to her relapse prevention duties.
We discussed using other mind altering chemicals besides the ones we normally like to abuse, as a precursor to total relapse. Wanting too much, and omnipotence, were also labeled as slippery behaviors or attitudes.
I spent the rest of the evening playing with my word processor again, and my printer. I managed to print a short letter to my mother, thanking her for getting me the device, while demonstrating its various abilities.
Getting it to work was quite simple really. Like most things in life, all one has to do is read the instructions.
It's finding the right instructions that's the hard part.

Saturday, July 30, 2011





Insane Traitors









United States Constitution
Article III
Section 3.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

"...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aided or involved by such an endeavour.

"...the term "traitor" is used in heated political discussion – typically as a slur against political dissidents, or against officials in power who are perceived as failing to act in the best interest of their constituents."

I've made some pretty harsh statements concerning those pictured above. I could even be sued for libel by each and everyone of them except for Bill. The evidence for his title is beyond question, and on display five days a week.
So I need to be thorough in making my case.
For the purposes of this post I've defined the act of treason as overt and covert acts of violence against "We the people of the United States," as noted in the Constitution's preamble, and through actions and inactions, attempts to subvert justice, domestic tranquility, the general welfare of all who reside within the countries boarders, and those who would stifle liberty for ourselves and our children.
It is my contention that the United States of America has virtually been overthrown by huge, domestic and multi-national corporations. These entities have corrupted the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government with legal forms of bribery in the form of campaign contributions and lobbying.
According to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010, the U.S. is tied with Belgium as the 22nd least corrupt country out of 178 measured, right between Chile and Uruguay (Somalia was considered the most corrupt nation, and Denmark the least).
22nd? That's not too bad, you say. I say it's horrible, and that the level, prevalence, and domination of government by Wall Street, major industry, and the people who control these entities is tantamount to a coup de tat by these businesses, whose only use for Congress is to protect their on going interests, to ensure they are allowed to continue maximizing profits, and rape the middle class of it's economic and social security to the fullest extent possible.
And that in my mind is a recipe for treason, carried out by traitors who do not have the best interests of the people in mind, indeed, just the opposite. To these... individuals, the people are there only to steal from. There are no other considerations.
Any political action, any new law, any attempt to disenfranchise the American people and their way of life, their health, their education, their employment security, and their general wellbeing on a national scale, in my mind is a form of treason. These acts may be motivated by pure ideology or stupidity, as in the Tea Bagger Movement, or to protect the super rich and their interests, in other words for money and power, with the help of Congress and quite often the Presidency.
Having said that I suppose I do have to make a distinction here between deliberate acts of sabotage or theft toward the general welfare of the people of this country, and acts initiated by simple incompetence, insanity, and/or ignorance (distinct from stupidity as ignorant people just don't know any better).
For example, George W. Bush knowingly weakened the economy by his implementation of huge tax cuts for the rich in 2001 and 2003, he knowingly began two unnecessary wars resulting in the deaths of thousands of American members of the armed forces and hundreds of thousands of innocent foreign nationals, and deliberately weakened regulations for Wall Street resulting in the financial crisis of 2007/2008. He is clearly a traitor of the highest order. His allegiance was never to the people of the United States. His allegiance was always to corporations and the rich who themselves have demonstrated little or no allegiance to the people of this nation (home foreclosures after bank bail outs being but one prime example. Overseas tax shelters and the outsourcing of jobs from the U.S. being others). Corporations and the ultra rich have only one allegiance... to money... and the power that the accumulation of money can provide (i.e. the ability to manipulate and control large sectors of the federal (and state, county, etc.) government).
Once out of office Bush lamented that his greatest failure as president was not getting us into two needless wars (or if you believe the invasion of Afghanistan was a warranted response to the attacks of 9/11, then at least the invasion of Iraq, which stands as one of the greatest foreign policy blunders this country has ever committed), but his failure to privatize social security, which the American people flatly rejected, and rightly so. The privatization of social security would have been the biggest windfall for Wall Street in it's history handing them essentially hundreds of billions of dollars they could have accumulated and spent overseas, rather than maintain the proven and secure social safety net that social security has provided since it's inception.
So, compare George W Bush to Senate hopeful Sharron Angle, or sitting Senators Jeff Beauregard Sessions III and Orrin Hatch. Obviously these individuals are just too ignorant to be held accountable for their own actions, and hopefully the electoral process will eventually correct the issue of the two Senators currently in office, as it preemptively did for Ms Angle.
24 million Americans are out of work and nearly $9 trillion in household wealth has vanished since the 2007/2008 economic crisis. It is an historical fact that once in power Republicans run up huge budget deficits, for which they declare as matters of national emergency once Democrats gain office. It appears that the Democrats have the unenviable task of perpetually cleaning up the Republican mess while those same Republicans blame the Democrats for the mess to begin with. This... tactic keeps the United States from progressing in any real manner, either economically, scientifically, socially, or whatever. The world is changing rapidly with real problems (i.e., climate change, water scarcity, over fishing, etc.) that need real solutions, and the traitors in power would have the country regress into a 13th century theocracy in order to continue their rape and pillaging of the nation's working class.
I singled out those traitors above because they tend to be the most obvious. The list of traitors in this country is huge, from the war profiteers, to the hedge fund managers, to the banking executives, to the defense industry that doesn't know when to stop. We are surrounded by treachery, and we must see them for what they are.
Let me quickly point out the traitorous actions of those above least I get sued:
The Koch brothers, Charles and David, each own about 42% of the second largest privately held business conglomerate in the United States with an annual revenue of approximately 98 billion dollars. Both brothers are listed by Forbes as the 5th wealthiest Americans, 18th richest on the planet, each worth about $21.5 billion dollars. Koch companies are involved in core industries such as the manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical technology equipment, ranching, finance, commodities trading, as well as other ventures and investments.
Some of their consumer products include Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Sparkle, Soft 'n Gentle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair, and Dixie.
"The Koch brothers — America’s wealthiest industrialists — had a direct hand in the resurgence of the right during November’s midterm elections. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative nonprofit that David founded, spent $45 million bankrolling right-wing candidates, many of them Tea Partiers. AFP outspent the Democratic Governors Association by more than three to one. That same election cycle, Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hills Resources contributed $1 million to California’s failed Proposition 23, that ballot that would have killed legislation cutting back greenhouse gas emissions." -Clare O'Conner, Forbes
Why would Charles and Dave want to stop polices reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Why would they spend millions attempting to discredit climate change in general. It may have something to do with Koch Industries being one of the primary sources of carbon pollution in the United States, that's why.
So, the brothers Koch would trade away the health of yours and my children (if I had any), their own children (if they have any), the health and future of the entire planet, for more money. More money than they already have. They are traitors to the people of this nation, and to the world.
The brothers front group "Americans for Prosperity," is currently dumping money in Wisconsin, attempting to influence the state senate recall elections there, in exchange for millions of dollars worth of no-bid Wisconsin government contracts for Koch Industries. Democrats only have to win two more seats, two out of eight seats. Charles, David, and Gov. Scott Walker are going to lose.
The brothers are by no means the only billionaire backers of the Republican Anti-American Party. There is B. Wayne Hughes (Public Storage) for instance, and Harold Simmons (leveraged buyout banker), and Jerry Perenchio (Univision), and Robert Rowling (Omni Hotels & Gold's Gym), and, John Childs (private equity), and Cliff Asness (hedge fund), and Steve Schwarzman (Blackstone Group), and Ken Griffin (hedge fund), and Phil Anschutz (diversified businesses), and Rich Devos (Amway), and Steve Bechtel (Bechtel Corp., the third largest privately held company in the U.S.), and Kenneth Langone (Home Depot), not to mention Richard Mellon Scaife (Newspapers)... among others.
And the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox and Friends, and O'Reilly always mention and pick on poor George Soros, one of the few well off progressive donors. Poor George.
Rupert Murdoch, and his evil minion Roger Aliles, of course are responsible for Fox News (propaganda) which is the public relations firm for the Republican party. This is an organization devoted to spreading misinformation to its large susceptible audience. Fox News is credited with being the only television network whose viewers actually get stupider after watching. They are also responsible, in a large part, for the Tea Bagger movement, which is now actively terrorizing the country.
The Tea Baggers are domestic terrorists (
) and traitors to the majority of people in this country, wishing to instill their values onto everyone else (like religious fundamentalists, and pro-lifers). They are also subverting the Constitution of the United States, even though they believe they are defending it.
They are also insane.
Senator McConnel (Turtle Boy), House Speaker Boehner (The Brown One), Majority Leader Cantor (The Adams Appler), Rep. Michele Bachman (Congressperson of the Tea Baggers... enough said. Also insane). All minions to all of the billionaires listed above, to Wall Street, to the oil and gas industry, to the defense industry, etc., but certainly not looking out for the interests and welfare of America's average citizens, to it's veterans, to it's seniors, to the poor, to the teachers, to the nurses, to the country's middle class. They by far are the biggest, most egregious traitors of all.
Then we have Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and Stupid, the mouthpieces of the right wing traitors. I truly believe that if they by accident were to ever actually say something that may be true, their nervous systems would go into shock and they would fall into comas.
Fat chance of that happening though.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Voter Fraud? Really?

The Republicans are always so upset and worried about voter fraud. They see it happening everywhere.
The term "voter fraud," has broad meaning and many facets. "Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both. Also called voter fraud, the mechanisms involved include illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls and improper vote counting. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country." -Wikipedia
What Republicans always seem so worried about is the "illegal voter registration," cited above. They are very concerned that people who are not eligible to vote (felons, those who do not reside in the voting district, double voting, etc.), vote, thereby impairing the integrity of the election process. And we know how much Republicans stand for integrity.
Well... I hate to contradict my Republican friends (the miserable sons of bitches), but it appears that they are manufacturing this "crisis," possibly for purely political reasons, and maybe, just maybe, conjure a little voter fraud all on their own, masked behind their supposed concern for fair elections.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at New York University School of Law: 1. Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare. Most citizens who take the time to vote offer their legitimate signatures and sworn oaths with the gravitas that this hard-won civic right deserves. Even for the few who view voting merely as a means to an end, however, voter fraud is a singularly foolish way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine - but yields at most one incremental vote. The single vote is simply not worth the price.
Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Indeed, evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.

2. Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud. Although there are a few scattered instances of real voter fraud, many of the vivid anecdotes cited in accounts of voter fraud have been proven false or vastly overstated. In Missouri in 2000, for example, the Secretary of State claimed that 79 voters were registered with addresses at vacant lots, but subsequent investigation revealed that the lots in question actually housed valid and legitimate residences. Similarly, a 1995 investigation into votes allegedly cast in Baltimore by deceased voters and those with disenfranchising felony convictions revealed that the voters in question were both alive and felony-free.

3. Voter fraud is often conflated with other forms of election misconduct.

4. Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda.

Ahh, there we have it. "Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda." Raising the specter of mass voter fraud (and the Republicans know how to raise it so well by turning on the Noise Machine. Over and over again they yak "voter fraud," "voter fraud," "voter fraud," "voter fraud," so many times in the media, well by golly, it must be true) may just mask actual acts of voter suppression, which in itself is an act of voter fraud. It may have happened before.
In 2006, seven U. S. Attorneys were fired by George Bush's Department of Justice (and pasty face Carl Rove) for being less than enthusiastic in investigating non-existent cases of voter fraud. In 2002, John Sununu won a close Senate race. On that election day, there were charges of "phone jamming" the Democrats’ get out the vote efforts.
In 2008 more than 50,000 registered voters in Georgia were removed from the rolls of eligible voters due to discrepancies in their identification information.
In 2004, 5.3 million Americans were denied the right to vote because of previous felony convictions. This form of vote suppression in the United States disproportionately affects minorities including African-Americans and Latinos, in other words, likely Democratic voters. Before the 2000 General election, the Secretary of State in Florida, Katherine Harris, working for the Republican candidates brother, Governor Jeb Bush, ordered 57,700 citizens identified as "ex-felons" be removed from the voters list, although about 8,000 names were erroneously placed on the exclusion list, 88% of these individuals were African American.
On and on and on. Just last Monday new evidence suggests the 2004 general election may have been hacked when there was a strange and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush.
If that is indeed the case then George W. Bush was never legitimately elected into office in both the 2000 and 2004 elections.
As disturbing as that may be, the reason I'm discussing this issue today is because of the recent actions of the Governor of Wisconsin, the infamous Republican union buster, Scott Walker.
You may remember Mr. Walker from earlier in the year when he put into effect a law that attempted to gut public-sector unions of their bargaining power, break them financially and force workers to pay for the state budget deficit, while initiating draconian budget cuts, after providing rich tax cuts for big businesses, all of this just one month into his term. This caused 14 state Senators to leave the state in order to keep the law from being implemented.
Due to Gov. Walker's actions recall elections are now underway concerning the state Senate. Six Republicans who backed Walker's anti-union bill stand to lose their seats, and now two Democrats are being challenged by Republicans (one Democrat, Dave Hansen, has already retained his seat). We'll see on August 9th if the Democrats can regain control of the Senate, and things are looking good.
The voters want to recall Walker as well, but they have to wait until next January, after he's been in office a year to do that. So in the meantime the Gov is trying to do as much damage as he possibly can.
Last May Walker signed into law a bill requiring voters show a state issued I.D. in order to vote. He said it was "common sense reform" that would "go a long way to protecting the integrity of elections in Wisconsin."
He's not the first one to do this. Eleven states now require a photo ID to vote. Kansas also added a photo ID requirement this year, but it won't take effect until January 1st. Thirty three states have considered adding voter identification requirements this year.
So what's the big deal, you may ask. I have a California I.D. (they won't give me a drivers license... I don't know why), so I could vote if California initiated this type of law.
But some people think these photo I.D. laws are actually attempts to keep some people from voting. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio thinks so.
"Many of these bills only have one true purpose, the disenfranchisement of eligible voters - especially the elderly, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters," said a letter that Fudge sent to Attorney General Eric Holder last Monday with more than 100 House Democrats signing on.
She says that these people may not have photo I.D.s because they use the bus most of the time, like me, and thereby don't need a driver's license. Or the cost of getting a state I.D. may be prohibitive for many of these citizens.
"Not only does it cost money to purchase a license, but people must have required documents, such as a birth certificate and Social Security card or another form of identification to get a license," Fudge spokeswoman Laura Allen said "It also takes time, transportation and money to get these documents."
And most of these "elderly, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters," tend to vote for the Democratic ticket, thereby Rep. Fudge's assertion that photo I.D. laws are nothing but a rather blatant attempt to rig elections in favor of the Republicans.
What do the Republicans say about this? Why these laws are required to fight voter fraud of course... voter fraud that does not happen to exist in this, the real world.
The Attorney General's office state they are monitoring the situation.
That makes me feel so much better.
Hey, but wait. Gov. Walker isn't finished. Oh no. Now that he signed his bill requiring voters to have photo I.D.s into law, Walker is attempting to close as many as 16 Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices, every one of them in districts that favor Democrats. Why? In order to expand hours in other offices, as required by the new law. And guess where these expanded hour offices happen to be located. Why in areas where Republicans are more likely to obtain their driver’s license or photo ID.
Blatant. Blatant. Blatant. This is nothing but a transparent, obvious, and blatant attempt to rig future elections (especially his own recall election coming next January).
This man is unconscionable. A true psychopath. He needs help. He needs to drop everything, lie down, and let the nice folks in their white coats come and take him away to the funny farm where he can play with chirping birds... and what not.
I'm sure the voters in Wisconsin, disenfranchised or not, will allow him to take a rest next January. I for one will be looking forward to seeing it happen.

Here's a copy of the letter Rep Fudge sent to the Attorney General and a petition concerning this very issue:

Dear Attorney General Holder,

Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote. New laws that have passed around the country, which restrict the pool of eligible voters and make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot, represent a step backwards in a decades-long struggle to end voter discrimination in this country. We urge you to exercise your authority under the Voting Rights Act to examine these laws so that voting rights are not jeopardized.

I am particularly disturbed by the voter ID laws that have now been passed in 30 states, and other voter suppression tactics, such as restrictions on third party registration and early voting. These laws do nothing to address the kinds of problems that are actually threatening the integrity of the voting process, such as improper purges of voters, voter harassment, and distribution of false information about when and where to vote. Instead, these laws serve to disfranchise eligible voters and, in particular, have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, low-income individuals, students, and voters with disabilities.

The Department of Justice has an obligation to fully enforce voting rights law. I urge you to aggressively scrutinize these laws for discriminatory impact, examine and object to pre-clearance submissions that have a discriminatory effect, and bring cases where necessary to stop these regressive voter laws.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To Discover A Star

Kepler's Supernova

Kathryn Aurora Grey

Kathryn's Star

Abby Ridge Observatory

Dear readers, thanks to the Republicans in the House of Representatives, and their Tea Bagger miscreants, we've been examining some pretty serious issues for the last week or more. Let's take a little break from that for the time being (today) and talk about some things that really matter... like supernovas.
A lot of readers have been asking me lately, "Rick..." (they call me Rick) "...what the heck is a supernova anyway?"
Well it's certainly not a 2000 science fiction film, I can tell you that. That movie was called "Supernova," but there wasn't even one single stinking supernova in it. There wasn't even a regular nova, let alone a super one.
I can tell you this though, the short answer to this question is... a supernova is a star that has exploded, and exploded big time.
The explosion is so big, so energetic, that for a brief time (a few weeks of months), it can outshine the entire galaxy which hosts it.
The first picture above is of a supernova that occurred within our very own galaxy, the Milky Way. And very recently, just last April. It is called SN1604, or Kepler's Supernova if you prefer. I certainly don't care. Call it whatever you want. It's about 20,000 light years away from us, which means that the star actually blew up about 20,000 years ago, and it's light is just now reaching us here on Earth. To look out into the depths of space is to look into the distant past.
There are a couple of mechanisms by which a star will explode like this. One is illustrated in the chart below:

But basically the process involves a star that collapses to a critical point and it goes Kaboom, but silently as there is no sound in outer space (something film makers should learn to understand, except for the late Stanley Kubrick).
Some of my readers are asking other questions about supernovas (What!? They don't have Wikipedia? It's a very reliable source of information) "Rick," they say, "who is the youngest person to ever discover a supernova?" Well that's an easy one. As far as recorded history goes, that would be ten year old Kathryn Aurora Grey of Fredericton, New Brunswick, up there in Canada. That's her picture above. What a cutie!
Hey, don't take my word for it. Here's the official announcement from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada:

Toronto, Canada (January 3, 2011) – The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) is pleased to announce the discovery of a supernova by a ten-year-old amateur astronomer—the youngest person ever to have made such a discovery.
Ten-year-old Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, New Brunswick under the watch of astronomers, Paul Gray and David Lane, are pleased to report the discovery of a magnitude 17 supernova in galaxy UGC 3378 in the constellation of Camelopardalis, as reported on IAU Electronic Telegram 2618.
The galaxy was imaged on New Year's Eve 2010, and the supernova was discovered on January 2, 2011 by Kathryn Aurora Gray and Paul Gray.

The discovery was soon verified by Illinois-based amateur astronomer Brian Tieman and Arizona-based Canadian amateur astronomer Jack Newton. It was then reported to the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.

It would appear that the RASC misspelled their last names. What can you do?
This is what happened as far as I can tell. Kathryn's dad, Paul Grey just happens to be an amateur astronomer himself, and has a little experience discovering supernovas. He's found seven of the freaking things!
Well, Paul has a friend, David Lane, who is also an amateur astronomer, but he has that cool observatory in his back yard that's pictured above (that is a ten foot dome, whatever that means. I suppose the base's diameter is ten feet across). It's called the Abby Ridge Observatory. That telescope can be operated by anyone on the planet who wants to pay for it and who has access to the Internet. Anyway, Paul and Kathryn visited David (who is no slouch at discovering supernovas himself... his number stands at four), who was impressed with Kathryn's enthusiasm for astronomy.
David took some pictures last New Year's Eve, about 52 of them, and Emailed them to Paul. A couple of days later, on January 2nd, Paul and Kathryn sat down to dad's computer and looked through them. Paul had specific software that helped locate supernovas, which is done by comparing photographs of the same region of space at different times.
Kathryn later told Melissa Block of National Public Radio (NPR), the computer started blinking (indicating that a supernova might have been discovered), she tried to stay calm.
"Kathryn pointed to the screen and said: 'Is this one?' I said (Paul) "Yup, that looks pretty good."
If you compare pictures of that third picture from the top with that of the same region at a different time, you will see the point which is the exploding star blink on and off. That is what caught Kathryn's eye, and that is what makes her the discoverer of the star (or remanent of the star).
Her dad checked to make sure the images were not that of passing asteroids, which can mimic the appearance of supernovas. He ruled that out, and Kathryn became the new youngest person to discover one (which really pissed off dad, as up until then he held the record, discovering his first supernova at twenty two. They have since reconciled).
"It's fantastic that someone so young would be passionate about astronomy. What an incredible discovery. We're all very excited," said Deborah Thompson of RASC.
Kathryn's star is called Supernova 2010lt... I don't know why, other than I believe the 2010 stands for the year it was imaged (New Year's Eve, 2010). As indicated above it is a magnitude 17 supernova, which is a measure of brightness as seen by an observer here on Earth. It is located in the galaxy UGC 3378, in the constellation Camelopardalis, and is about 248,800,000 light years away, and you know what that means, dear readers, yes, what Kathryn and Paul saw is something that happened about 249 million years ago.
"I'm really excited. It feels really good," Ms Grey told Canada's Star newspaper.
When asked by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) what it was she was going to do now, considering she's already discovered a supernova at the age of ten.
"I'm just going to look for more supernovas," she said.
Dad's found seven. David four. At ten years old Kathryn has plenty of time to catch up.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wake Up!

“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.” Thomas Jefferson

As you may recall, dear readers, I recently alerted some of the case managers here at Skid Row Housing Trust, of the current deadlock in Congress involving the nation's debt ceiling, or the amount of money the United States can borrow in order to pay it's financial obligations, such as social security payments, medicare, veteran's benefits, federal contractors, the armed services, treasury bonds, etc. That situation has not changed. As a matter of fact it has gotten worse, and will continue to get worse as the August 2nd deadline approaches. On that date, supposedly, I'll have more money in my penny jar than does the United States government.
The problem stems from the newly elected "tea bagger" faction of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which we've discussed here:
My lovely ex-case manager Erin's response is what interests me today:
"What?!?!?!?!! Rick I don’t know anything about the news without you in my everyday life anymore! Please keep me updated."
Now I happen to know Erin fairly well, and know she enjoys a very active social life and rarely involves herself in current events, the political process, global warming... anything that does not involve her immediate social circumstances (although I do know that she has been active in monitoring known, possible, locations involved in sex trafficking through her church, church activities in general (also part of her social network), and of course the current campaign to Save the Frogs: (I'm not criticizing Erin. I can't because she will hurt me if I do (she may be small, but she's wiry). Besides, when I was her age current events and government affairs were usually the furthest thing from my mind).
Now I'm used to keeping Erin informed on matters that she may be interested in, and it was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to teach her a little about the voting process, and hopefully she will be more engaged in that activity in the future.
What interests me, and frightens me about her statement above is this part: "...I don’t know anything about the news..."
I wonder, how prevalent is this predilection toward ignorance (albeit not wilfully) concerning vital matters of government that concern those very individuals who seem not to care.
As related, I also informed my own case manager, Robert, and asked that he get together with SRHT management to alert them to the situation (if indeed they were ignorant of it), and ask what contingencies they offered to those who due to the inability of Congress to do their job, may not receive their benefits from the social security administration, which they rely on to pay their bills, rent for instance.
Hey, guess what! I have yet to receive any reply to this valid inquiry. Apparently SRHT management is so confident in Congress's ability to pull through their quagmire of stubbornness of doctrine and ideology (especially the Republicans insistence that there be no revenue increases to their masters; the 2% of the richest Americans, and huge, profitable corporations (what John Boehner keeps calling "the American people"), and the tea bagger faction, the 87, or so new tea bagger Congress people, who think it will be fun to watch the country go into default, and crash and burn. These people are fanatics, and reinforce each others blind belief in some kind of unreal world of no government interference in the lives of everyday citizens, (including lower personal and corporate taxes, slashing social services for the majority of Americans, and deregulation of... well everything, especially matters concerning the environment). A basic libertarian world view on steroids. For this "fundamentalist" faction ensconced in our halls of power, we can thank the likes of David and Charles Koch, Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, Fox News, and many others)
SRHT management, like a goodly percentage of the population, seem to be unwilling to break out of the routine of their daily existence, blindly going along through the days and weeks confident that things like global warming, water scarcity, over population, over fishing of our oceans, and the government actually doing the job it was elected to do, is either to far in the future to bother about, or it doesn't affect them directly, so why worry about it?
I understand that in this day and age there are many things to think about other than what the federal government is up to. The economy sucks, those that are working, like the folks over at the SRHT head office, are lucky to be working at such a time when real unemployment in this country is at approximately 16 to 20 percent. Paying off mortgages, and credit card and car loans... these are matters of real importance to the average middle class citizen (this list neglects other real distractions for the American populace, such as the latest Harry Potter film, super hero movie, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," or Oprah).
But all of the concerns listed above, and many others, are the direct result of Republican malfeasance. The economy sucks because George Bush ran it into the ground with his tax cuts, two unnecessary wars, and deregulation, which led directly to the financial crisis of 2007/2008, which inturn has led to today's high unemployment (a valid argument could be made that the policies of the present Obama administration are exacerbating the unemployment problem in this country, rather than alleviating it, which of course should be something the general public should be very aware of as well). The mortgage crisis and the huge incidence of home forclosures are a direct result of the Bush administration's belief the housing bubble would continuously grow without bursting, a decidedly lackadaisical view of reality. Consumer protection regarding the banking industry, credit cards and predatory loans... under the Republicans... was virtually non-existent (yes, I'm a "Blame Bush" person. I'm funny that way... I tend to blame those that are actually responsible for the problem, rather than some other convenient scapegoat. Whenever George wanted to deflect blame from himself, such as after Hurricane Katrina, he liked to jabber, "I'm not going to play the Blame Game..." and I always thought to myself, well then, okay, let's play the Responsibility Game instead), Their attitude can be evidenced by the House's current attempts to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Yet the American populace elected the Republicans back into power last year, and they now are the majority in the House of Representatives, which has control of the countries purse strings. Not only that, the country has allowed a wild card faction within the Republican party into Congress, in significant numbers, the tea baggers, who adhere to no one but themselves, and a highly restricted view of the mission of government that has now become apparent with the current debt ceiling crisis. Like the religious fundamentalists of the middle east and elsewhere (America, for example), these people are not only willing to blow themselves up in order to further their own sense of their own reality and beliefs, but the rest of the country, you and me, as well.
Perhaps, if the country does go into default after August 2nd, those over at the main office of SRHT, and the country as a whole, will finally wake up and take notice to what is happening to them, and all around them, and maybe, just maybe, do something about it.
We began this post with a quote from Thomas Jefferson. Let's end with one:

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Salvation Diary 48

"Salvation" artist, Amanda Milke

August 17 Saturday Day 340

I woke up at eight. I heard people cleaning outside of my room. I couldn't go back to sleep so I arose.
I took my notebook and went to the lobby to try to write, but for some reason it was very difficult to do so. My head seemed to be filled with fog, and people kept coming to me and asking me questions.
Tom Rotsch came in to pick up his doll house from the hobby shop. It's really a big doll house, the second largest I've ever seen (old "Get Smart" joke). He came with a friend to take it to Richard Bennet's.
Tom seems to be doing fine. He told me that he had one rough day (tempted to use cocaine), but got through it, and has maintained his sobriety. That is tremendous news! He's been doing some freelance carpentry work, so he's making a little money, and his friends are being supportive.
Thank God! I was really worried about him.
After lunch I finished writing for a while and walked over to Music Plus to pick up the weekend's videos. "Misery," and "The Freshman," with Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick. Both had come out during the week. Both very good, but only if you like movies about shadowy Mafia figures, crazy farm ladies, and Komodo dragons (Burt Parks singing "Maggie's Farm" is classic!)
I just had time to make it to the park before my afternoon shift. A little Stevie Nicks (I'm secretly in love with her you know), and my absolute favorite Beatles (John Lennon) song, "Hide Your Love," came through my Mickey Mouse headphones.
After a quick shower I went with steady determination to work. The first order of business was to alert our new desk man, Columbus Davis, of my impending telephone call from Cathy. I told him that if I wasn't at the desk when she called to frantically page me, send troops out after me, fire skyrockets, do something, but get me to the telephone or else I'd have to shoot him.
So after dinner I went upstairs to have a nice unauthorized cigarette and brush my teeth. When I returned to the desk Columbus told me I'd have to shoot him.
"Why?" I asked.
"She called, and I told her to hang on, and Hendrickson wanted to key to four, and before I could call you, I checked and she had hung up." He was terrified.
But what choice did I have? I shot him three time with my father's German luger. Nine Millimeter.
After the body was taken to U.S.C. Medical I sat in my office and pondered this curious state of affairs. Why hadn't I gotten her phone number to begin with? Isn't that how it's normally done? And why hadn't she called back?
I continued to puzzle over this until about eight o'clock, when Cathy called and told me this had been her first attempt. I immediately signaled Rockoff to call U.S.C. and give Columbus the message that it was alright for him to come back... after he healed. Then I talked to Cathy for about fifteen minutes.
She was still having cat problems. Upon bringing her female cat (Spotty) back from the vets (after having been fixed), the cat instantly began fighting again with the male cat (Pee Wee). Ever since Thursday she's had to separate the two and this has caused her great consternation. From my own experience this type of behavior is unusual for cats who have previously been "buddy-buddy" for three years. Cathy's own veterinarian was of no help, telling her she may have to give one of them up. Cathy didn't want to hear that, and she's naturally upset (she hasn't been sleeping well). She's continuing to hope that time will rectify the situation.
I offered to postpone our date until things got somewhat normalized, but she said that she'd done about all that she could do, and staying in all day wouldn't help her much.
Such wisdom! And she's so cute too!
So tomorrow's on. I suggested some places we could go to, and we came up with the idea of visiting a botanical garden in Glendale, close to her home. She said she's been wanting to go there for a long time. I suggested dinner afterwards.
I wished her luck with her cats. She said she'd pick me up at two. Then we said good night.
I got through the rest of the evening as fast as possible. Columbus didn't make it back before curfew, so I A.W.O.L./A.C.O.ed him, poor bastard.
I dreamt of possums again.

August 18 Sunday Day 341

Wow! What a day!
It began ordinarily enough. My alarm went off exactly at 8:00, and I woke to some off the wall rock song I'd never heard before. I also heard Robert Vasquez rummaging around in the bathroom (he always hums when he's rummaging), so I stayed put in bed until I heard him clear out ten minutes later.
I showered and dressed.
Chapel went very smoothly. The Major is on vacation for a whole month, so everyone felt relaxed and cool. Clarence Orion, just returning from his own vacation, sang "Down by the Old Rugged Cross." His voice has a nice, low, soothing quality about it.
Cathy was to pick me up at two, so my options for the morning were open. I debated whether to go to the Sunday Morning A.A. meeting speaker meeting with Ron as I normally do. I'd have about half an hour before Cathy arrived. Or I could spend the morning fucking off, and be thoroughly prepared for my big date.
I did neither. Instead of going to the meeting, I had good old Robert drop me off at the mall so I could do a little shopping.
I bought a new shirt, being dissatisfied with all of the others I already owned. Then I hit one of the two bookstores they have at the mall and looked for a book about cats, hoping it would give me and Cathy a clue to Spotty's bizarre behavior. I found one that might be of some help and bought it. Then I walked back to the residence.
After taking a little nap I dressed casually, donning my brand new shirt. At 2:00 I was standing in the parking lot with my cat book and sport coat looking rather suave, and ready to go. She arrived a few minutes later, and we were off.
"Oh how sweet," she said, when I showed her the book. We drove into Glendale, to the Decano Gardens, an arboretum she had wanted to check out. The day was sunny and warm. I began to sweat a little while walking up and down the hilly terrain. She's a marathon runner and in great shape, and did not perspire. However, she told me she was out of shape, but it looked great to me.
And we talked. Walking through the sun drenched gardens we discovered each other. Usually on a first date (unless I've had a few) I feel kind of awkward, not knowing what to say and generally making a fool of myself. But not today. She is a great talker (as I've previously expressed), and she helped me along, putting me at ease. We talked about how I got where I was, and we talked about how she got where she was. I loved listening to her. She was very honest and direct, and the story of her recovery, of some dysfunctional relationships she's been involved in, and her alcoholism, to me appeared nothing short of heroic. I admired her as a beautiful woman, and a a human being. I didn't believe I'd met anyone quite like her.
Recovery is wonderful. Good things do happen.
And of course, how could I have not been in love with her ("It's so easy to fall in...)
I didn't tell her that though. Women don't like to be told that your in love with them on the first date. A woman told me that once.
We left the gardens and drove to her house to check on her cats. She lived in a lovely little guest house, nestled in the foothills of north Glendale, near the border of La Canada and Tujunga. It was a single room with space for a king sized bed and bookshelves in one area, a small living room branching out to the side containing a sofa, coffee table, and television. An adequate kitchen, bathroom, enclosed yard.
And two cats.
Spotty and Pee Wee.
Spotty (the trouble maker) was in her carrying case as we came in (not that she had any choice in the matter. She had been locked up in there all day). Pee Wee, a big calico, was prowling around.
Cathy was truly worried. The fighting between the cats had made her very nervous, making her lose sleep.
"Do you think I should let Spotty out?" she asked me. "I mean, maybe by your being here, it will be a distraction and they'll be too worried about you to fight with each other."
I told her that she'd have to let Spotty out sometime, then prayed that they didn't instantly attack me.
Spotty, a white female with black spots, crept out of her cage, crossed the room and sniffed at Pee Wee. Pee Wee gave a short hiss, then both of them ducked underneath the bed.
"That's the closest they've gotten together since she came back from the vets." Cathy was cautiously pleased.
The cats behaved themselves for the rest of the evening, not once trying to tear themselves apart.
Or me.
Thank God!
Soon we went to dinner, discovering a quaint little Mexican place nearby. A couple seated to our left began to burglarize our conversation, raving about what a great restaurant it was, and the quality of the food, and on and on. When the man began reminiscing upon certain wines he liked, Cathy and I both cut him off then continued our pleasant conversation. She wimped out and ordered an enchilada verde, while I, always the bold explorer, tried something I'd never had before, an enchilada mole (an enchilada with a very spicy chocolate sauce), which was very interesting at first (it sucked), but soon tasted, and looked like, pond mud.
Afterwards we returned to her house and watched some T.V., while continuing to talk. She asked me if I needed to get back to the residence soon.
"God no!" I told her. "It's nice to get away from there."
"I imagine it must be," she said.
I mentioned that for the last eleven months I had not taken a single overnight pass.
"Are you going to keep trying for a record?" she asked, and smiled.
"No," I answered. Then I reached over and kissed her. She kissed me back. I liked it, so I kissed her again. She kissed me back again. I continued kissing her (what used to be commonly known as making out), and she continued kissing me back, for at least eight or nine pages of frantic (and frenzied) kissing.
Then we played Scrabble for the rest of the evening (not really, but our respective mothers may one day read this).
She was so cute! And loving. She's was very warm and cuddly too! I felt so good to hold her.
We slept next to each other all that night, sometimes holding tightly to each other, sometimes not. I never felt so wonderful.
It made me forget all about the news we had seen on the television right before we went to bed.
On the other side of the world, Mikhail Gorbachev, probably the most important and influential figure in world affairs of the century, had been disposed in a bloodless coup as the chief of state of the U.S.S.R.
The hardliners have the country again.

August 19 Monday Day 342

On her way to work Cathy dropped me off at the corner of Glendale Blvd. and Broadway. Two minutes later I was picked up by the 181 and taken to Pasadena.
I was a little tired. I checked in with Robert when I got to the residence, to let him know I was still alive.
"I had you down as A.W.O.L. there for a while, Joyce. Then I remembered you're an employee."
I had a nice cup of coffee with Mr. Schimmele and the rest of the janitors before going upstairs to my room.
I tried to sleep, but it would not come to me. My mind was in overdrive. I relived the events of the previous day, over and over again, and was constantly preoccupied with what I would say to Cathy when I called her that night. I suffered fantasies of a delusional nature for the rest of the day... what our next date would be like, how our life would be like together, how many kids we would have, where we would retire, things like that.
I couldn't stop thinking about that kind of stuff. My mind was abuzz.
I was insane.
And can you blame me? There I was, this awfully lonely, very nice ( although not genuinely) and deserving fellow, who has been starved for affection for like the last two years or more, and then I met this girl who proceeds to turn my life upside down with her charming and penetrating wonderfulness.
What a sap!
My mind would not let me stop thinking about her though. So I got out of bed and went to the movies. I saw "Terminator 2," again, to get my head back into reality.
I couldn't sit still, and left about half way through the film. I was in a sad state for the rest of the afternoon. My head was in a cloud of anxiety and low key panic. I had no appetite. I did not eat all day, just chugging coffee and smoking a lot of cigarettes.
I hardly said a word during relapse prevention. All I could think about was Cathy and the call I would be making to her as soon as the meeting was over. I prayed that during the day her two cats had not slaughtered each other, and she had not returned to her home to only find flying fur, blood, and claws, thus spoiling her mood (what a selfish asshole I am).
When the meeting finally ended (ironically our topic had to do with recognizing relapse warning signs, such as, relying too much on others, breakdowns in daily discipline and routine) I walked over to the train station on the far side of the park for some privacy, and called her.
She let me have it right between the eyes.
Oh, our conversation was gentle and low key enough. I first asked her about her cats. They were still alive, but there was some fear that Spotty may be sick. The kitty was acting depressed. I told her to call the vet if it kept up. She asked me about my day, and I honestly related what had happened and my state of mind, expecting that she would enjoy the fact that I continuously thought about her (what a fool!)
But she was silent. And when she began speaking again her words came slowly and were well chosen. Essentially, she told me to get lost. That she had enjoyed our time together, and was glad I spent the night with her, but my attitude and voice must have set off some feminine alarm in her cute little head, and she began talking about her past relationships problems, and that she was just beginning to learn about being herself, and being independent, and that she felt that maybe for the first time worthwhile and comfortable in her own skin and did not wish to compulsively jump into some "relationship" and risk becoming enmeshed, and losing herself once again.
She told me we should continue to date. What she wanted was to act slowly and responsibly on a "one day at a time" basis, and see how things worked out.
You could tell how madly infatuated and swept off her feet she was by me.
But I found myself agreeing with her. My head cleared up instantly and at once I felt a hell of a lot better. What I could not understand was why I had not thought this out for myself, why I had instantly leaned toward mindless meshing and confused chaotic entanglement.
Because I was so lonely. What a sap.
Obviously I needed this lovely brunette short person with great legs, this thirty two year old woman of the world, to show me functional reality and how it worked. I'm glad she did, because I wasn't liking myself while thinking obsessively about her. I disliked not being able to keep my mind on what was going on during relapse prevention.
So thank you Cathy H. Thank you for setting me straight. Thank you for giving me back to myself.
And back to my loneliness.
Poor, poor, pitiful me.
Someday, somewhere, if it's God's will, I will find the one.

August 20 Tuesday Day 343

This morning I woke up feeling sick and insecure. So I went to work and began wielding perceived personal power unmercifully, which cheered me up right away. I A.C.O.ed twelve guys, put thirty on the Saturday work list, and threatened to write nasty notes to the mothers of sixty seven men.
No, not really. The men probably wouldn't mind being thrown out of here too much, but if I started writing notes to mothers they'd turn on me.
I plowed through the morning shift. Got everything done, and done well. So by the time my shift ended I wasn't feeling insecure anymore. Just sick. Kind of depressed, and not wanting to do anything. I get that way sometimes.
I was tired of watching mindless television, tired about hearing about Gorbachev (I voted for him you know) and the coup (which seems to be falling apart rapidly), tired of reading. I didn't even go down to see what Jill was wearing when she came in at 6:05 for her 5:45 group counseling meeting.
I did get hungry though. After "Star Trek, the Next Generation," I went to the canteen and consumed a cheeseburger. I happened to linger by the desk long enough for Jill to finish her session and come out. What a knockout! Absolutely mind boggling. And of course, she's a very nice person. I like her. I wish I could get to know her. I've known her for eleven months and haven't a clue what's beneath that cool facade.
Tonight she had a smile for me, which I needed desperately.
It's nice to have such a lovely, strange, tardy, and wonderful woman in my life.
I'm a fool for them.
I returned to my room to catch, "Halloween II," on television, starring Donald Pleasense, of all people. This film also helped to cheer me up. There's nothing like a good slasher movie to top off the evening.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Elections Have Consequences

A message from America's Senator, Bernie Sanders:

We are at a pivotal moment in American history, and many Americans watching the deficit talks in Washington are confused, perplexed, angry and frustrated.

This country, which has paid its debts from Day 1, must pay its debts. Anyone who says it is not a big deal for this country to default clearly does not understand what he or she is talking about. This is a nation whose faith and credit has been the gold standard of countries throughout the world. Some people simply say we're not going to pay our debt, that there's nothing to really worry about. Those are people who are wishing our economy harm for political reasons, and those are people whose attitudes will have terrible consequences for virtually every working family in this country in terms of higher interest rates, in terms of significant job loss, in terms of making a very unstable global economy even more unstable.

Our right-wing friends in the House of Representatives have given us an option. What they have said is end Medicare as we know it and force elderly people, many of whom don't have the money, to pay substantially more for their health care. So when you're 70 under their plan and you get sick and you don't have a whole lot of income, we don't know what happens to you. They forget to tell us that if their plan was passed you're going to have to pay a heck of a lot more for the prescription drugs you're getting today. They we're going to throw millions of kids off health insurance. If your mom or dad is in a nursing home and that nursing home bill is paid significantly by Medicaid and Medicaid isn't paying anymore, they forgot to tell us what happens to your mom or dad in that nursing home. What happens?

And what happens today if you are unemployed and you're not able to get unemployment extension? What happens if you are a middle-class family desperately trying to send their kids to college and you make savage cuts to Pell grants and you can't go to college? What does it mean for the nation if we are not bringing forth young people that have the education that they need? They forgot to tell us that. And if you are one of the growing number of senior citizens in this country who are going hungry, they want to cut nutrition programs. And on and on it goes. Every program that has any significance to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children, the poor, they are going to cut in the midst of a recession when real unemployment is already at 15 percent and the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing. That's their idea.

Shouldn't the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations contribute to deficit reduction rather than just the elderly and the sick and working families? They say no. They're going to defend the richest people in this country - millionaires and billionaires - and make sure they don't pay a nickel more in taxes. We're going to make sure there is no tax reform so we can continue to lose $100 billion every single year because wealthy people and corporations stash their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda, and that's just fine. We'll protect those tax breaks while we savage programs for working families.

Those are the choices that our right-wing Republican friends are giving us. Default with horrendous economic consequences for working families in this country and for the entire global economy or massive cuts to programs that working families desperately need.

Neither of those options is acceptable to me. Neither are those options acceptable to the vast majority of the people in this country. Every single poll that I have seen says that the American people want shared sacrifice. They don't want or believe that deficit reduction can simply come down on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable, the elderly, the children, and the poor. They believe that the wealthy and large corporations also have to participate.

In all honesty, I also must tell you that I have been disappointed by President Obama's role in these discussions. He has brought forth and idea which I categorically reject, that we should make significant cuts in Social Security, that when someone reaches the age of 85, they would lose $1,000 as opposed to what they would have otherwise gotten. This senator is not going to balance our budget on the backs of an 85-year-old person who's earning $14,000 a year. And this senator does not agree with the president that we should raise eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, because I don't know what happens to millions of people who have worked their whole lives, finally reach 65 anticipating Medicare but it's not going to be there for them.

One of the most important lessons in all of this is that elections have consequences. Many people now are beginning to catch on to that. It is no secret that our right-wing Republican colleagues did very well in November 2010. They captured the House of Representatives.

If you believe that we have to start investing in America and creating the millions of jobs that this country desperately needs, elections have consequences. If you believe that we have to address the deficit crisis in a way that is responsible, in a way that asks the wealthy and large corporations also to play a role, in a way that calls for cuts in defense spending and bringing our troops home as soon as possible from Afghanistan and Iraq, you have got to be involved in the political process.

In my view a group of people in the House whose views represent a small minority of the American people are holding this Congress hostage. It is time for the American people to stand up and say, enough is enough; the function of the United States Congress is to represent all of our people and not just the wealthy and powerful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Planned Parenthood

Ann Druyan & Carl Sagan

Margaret Sanger

"The simple truth is that there is no rational way to conclude that these alleged pro-life forces are, in fact, pro-life as it is difficult to fathom how one can desire to protect the life of the unborn by sacrificing the life of the already born. If you believe in protecting the unborn, does it not necessarily follow that you are equally as concerned about protecting the lives of those already here in the flesh?
What I can work out is how pro-life politicians are, in reality, ‘pro’ their political careers and are more than willing to sacrifice the lives of the poor who rely on the services of Planned Parenthood to burnish their anti-abortion credentials."

Rick Ungar, Attorney & consultant on health care policy and politics

"There is no right to life in any society on Earth today, nor has there been at any former time… : We raise farm animals for slaughter; destroy forests; pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live there; kill deer and elk for sport, leopards for the pelts, and whales for fertilizer; entrap dolphins, gasping and writhing, in great tuna nets; club seal pups to death; and render a species extinct every day. All these beasts and vegetables are as alive as we. What is (allegedly) protected is not life, but human life.
And even with that protection, casual murder is an urban commonplace, and we wage “conventional” wars with tolls so terrible that we are, most of us, afraid to consider them very deeply… That protection, that right to life, eludes the 40,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable starvation, dehydration, disease, and neglect."

Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Science Authors... Among Other Things

“I am really stunned. And I am angry as a woman that we have come to this after weeks of negotiating on numbers… that there are those in the Republican party in the House who are willing to shutdown the government, take people’s paychecks away from them because they want to deny women access to health care in this country,” Murray told reporters. “Every woman and every man in this country ought to be saying, ‘What are you doing?’”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

What Mr. Ungar and Senator Murray are talking about was a Republican attempt to defund reproductive health provider Planned Parenthood last February in a 240 - 185 (with 10 Democrats voting for the measure) vote. The measure was defeated in the Senate.
I suspect that Planned Parenthood has become a target for the Republicans due to the fact that they do provide abortion services (which accounts for approximately 3% of the services they provide). But federal law prohibits any federal funds being used to provide that particular service. So what's the problem?
It wasn't always this way. According to Dr. Sagan's and Ms. Druyan's brief history of abortion practices in the United States, from colonial times to the nineteenth century it was a woman's choice until they could first feel the baby move within her (quickening).
[An abortion in the first and even second trimester was at worst a misdemeanor. Convictions were rarely sought and almost impossible to obtain, because they depended entirely on the woman's own testimony of whether she had felt quickening, and because of the jury's distaste for prosecuting a woman for exercising her right to choose. In 1800 there was not, so far as is known, a single statute in the United States concerning abortion. Advertisements for drugs to induce abortion could be found in virtually every newspaper and even in many church publications--although the language used was suitably euphemistic, if widely understood.
But by 1900, abortion had been banned at any time in pregnancy by every state in the Union, except when necessary to save the woman's life. What happened to bring about so striking a reversal? Religion had little to do with it. Drastic economic and social conversions were turning this country from an agrarian to an urban-industrial society. America was in the process of changing from having one of the highest birthrates in the world to one of the lowest. Abortion certainly played a role and stimulated forces to suppress it.
One of the most significant of these forces was the medical profession. Up to the mid-nineteenth century, medicine was an uncertified, unsupervised business. Anyone could hang up a shingle and call himself (or herself) a doctor. With the rise of a new, university-educated medical elite, anxious to enhance the status and influence of physicians, the American Medical Association was formed. In its first decade, the AMA began lobbying against abortions performed by anyone except licensed physicians. New knowledge of embryology, the physicians said, had shown the fetus to be human even before quickening.
Their assault on abortion was motivated not by concern for the health of the woman but, they claimed, for the welfare of the fetus. You had to be a physician to know when abortion was morally justified, because the question depended on scientific and medical facts understood only by physicians. At the same time, women were effectively excluded from the medical schools, where such arcane knowledge could be acquired. So, as things worked out, women had almost nothing to say about terminating their own pregnancies. It was also up to the physician to decide if the pregnancy posed a threat to the woman, and it was entirely at his discretion to determine what was and was not a threat. For the rich woman, the threat might be a threat to her emotional tranquillity or even to her lifestyle. The poor woman was often forced to resort to the back alley or the coat hanger.
This was the law until the 1960s, when a coalition of individuals and organizations, the AMA now among them, sought to overturn it and to reinstate the more traditional values that were to be embodied in Roe v. Wade.]

To be sure, the abortion issue currently in this country is exceptionally contentious. People on both sides of the issue feel passionately about their positions, and are quite willing to take actions that they would otherwise never consider on other issues.
Accordingly, I invite you dear readers to read one of the most well thought out and reasoned considerations of this issue by Dr. Sagan and Ms. Druyan, “The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers”

It is my contention however, that the issue of abortion, as well as gay marriage, abstinence training, illegal immigration, creationism, religion in general, family values, anti-Islamism, and now spending in the federal government, and a host of other issues that some people have passionate feelings about, are used as tool to enlist, control, and use constituents by the Republican Party in order to mask their real agenda which is to plunder the middle class of this country (including those very constituents they are using) and transfer that wealth to the richest among us.
Nowhere is that more apparent then the Republican assault on the health provider Planned Parenthood. If no federal funds are allowed to be used for abortion services, this assault cannot be explained other than to create a distraction from what they're really up to.
This is Planned Parenthood:
Birth control advocate, Margaret Sanger, opened the first US birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York in 1916, which earned her some jail time. In 1938 she organized the American Birth Control League which was the only national birth control organization in the U.S. until the 1960s. By 1941 the League was operating 222 centers, and serving 49,000 patients. The next year the League became part of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which itself became a founding member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which aimed to promote sexual and reproductive health training and education globally.
Following Sanger, Alan Guttmacher, an American obstetrician/gynecologist became president in 1962 (Sanger was 82 at the time, and would pass away four years later). During his tenure, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of the original birth control pill, allowing women a new avenue toward reproductive freedom. Planned Parenthood convinced the federal government to fund domestic and international family planning programs. In 1978, Faye Wattleton was named president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. During her term, Planned Parenthood grew to become the seventh largest charity in the country, providing services to four million clients each year through its 170 affiliates whose activities were spread across the 50 states.
Gloria Feldt took the helm for ten years from 1996 to 2006, and originated the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the organization's political action committee. She also began a nationwide campaign to increase services to prevent unwanted pregnancies, improve quality of reproductive care and ensure access to safe and legal abortions. Cecile Richards is the current president, and oversees 820 health centers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, serving over five million clients a year, 26% of which are teenagers under the age of 19. Planned Parenthood is the leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider in the United States.
This non-profit organization helps lower the need for abortions by providing contraception services (35% of services provided), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and diseases (34%), cancer testing and screening (17%), other women's health procedures, including pregnancy, prenatal, midlife, and infertility (11%), and that 3% of abortion services.
Or is it actually 90%, as the Senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl, of course a Republican, would suggest:
Cutting funding for Planned Parenthood is tantamount to furthering the right's war on women. They would subject women to forced pregnancies and servitude rather than provide legitimate medical services that are not only good for the patients, but the communities they live in, and the country as a whole.
Republicans just don't care though. Their ideology must be served before reality, just as in the debt ceiling debate. These "people" are classic sociopaths, and do not care how much pain and suffering they cause others, in fact they seem to look forward to it. It's kind of like having The Dark Knight's Joker in charge of things.
In September of 2009 we discussed the community organization Acorn:
By March of 2010 Acorn announced it was disbanding and closing the offices of it's affiliates due to lack of funds, brought about a successful smear campaign by the Republicans. On November 2, 2010, ACORN filed for Chapter 7 liquidation, effectively closing the organization.
That is nothing but a crying shame.
We must fight the Republican's war on women, and not allow Planned Parenthood the same fate.