Sunday, October 27, 2013

Skid Row Diary 17

16   August   2003      Saturday      Day 35

   I woke from a dream of getting squished by Godzilla, and then hunting down Bob Hope and shooting him.
   And I liked Bob Hope! Very strange.
   I did not shoot him in my dream.
   I missed.
   He asked me why was it that I was shooting at him and I had to admit that I didn’t know, and promised to stop. That’s when I woke. 
   I felt much better today after shooting Bob... and after having such a nice day at the movies yesterday. I felt good enough to get back to the business of life. My aches and pains had decreased, and my energy and enthusiasm increased. 
   So, the first step... replenish my monitory resources.
   I got up at 8:15, cleaned myself and my room, made another tuna fish sandwich for breakfast (protein), then took off taking King’s newest book of short stories with me.
   I caught the 362 at 5th and San Pedro, taking it to Pershing Square. A black gentleman in the rear of the bus didn’t like it that the bus didn’t stop where he wanted to get off, thinking he was on the 18 or 53. 
   “Hey! Hey! Hey! Driver!” he kept yelling. “Why didn’t you stop man! The stops back there. You been drinking that Gallo and letting it affect you mind!”
   I truly take a great deal of pleasure in watching obnoxious, loud mouthed individuals make asses of themselves. It’s one of life’s little perks.  
   Why do black people feel it necessary to speak 3 decibels louder than any other life forms on this planet?
   Is that a racist observation? I’m not sure. It certainly is a stereotypical one.
   I re-read King’s “1408“ story while on the old subway to North Hollywood. I think it would make a really intense short film if done properly. Unfortunately short films aren’t much in vouge. I don’t care for most of them. 
   Oh well, I really like the story though.
   I stocked up on vitamins at the 99 Cent Store, getting some more E, fresh A & D, ginko (for my poor tired brain), and lots of C. I also got tea, coffee, smoked sausages, spiced luncheon meat, toothpaste, VCR tapes, jalapeno American cheese slices, provolone cheese, ravioli bites, beanless chile, and a can of cooked, sliced carrots.
   I braved the heat and made it to Trimar by 11:30, where the latest James Bond movie, “Die Another Day,” was playing again. I got to see the end this time.
   At least an attempt was made in this film to just shoot Bond, the slippery devil. Unfortunately, for me, he was standing on a glass floor at the time and was able to escape certain death by crashing through it. 
   Damn it Bond! I’ll see you die yet!
   He is really rather annoying.
   Always has been.
   Tom Cruise’s favorite television show as a kid must have been “Mission Impossible,” as he’s produced and starred in two films based on that show, both over the top and silly, and in need of just a smidgeon more action.
   Just a smidgeon.
   If I had the money I’d produce films based on the T.V. shows “Green Acres,”  “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement), and “The Invaders.”
   But I’m about flat busted.
   The reason I mentioned “Mission Impossible,” is because it came on after Bond.
   I read.
   Today marked the 3rd time in a row the nurses had difficulty getting through the scar tissue in the crook of my left arm and keeping the blood flowing into the centrifuge freely.   
   This marks the approaching end to my donation days, which is just as well. Too much time is involved coming out here.
   Aurica was around, but busy in another room and did not see me.
   I left and made very good time getting back to the Weingart, catching one of the new 761 Red Rapid buses, south on Van Nuys Blvd. I enjoyed the ride through the San Fernando Valley this afternoon, my mood pleasant and mellow.
   I got back to my room at a little after 3 and put my stuff away, made myself some Earl Grey, and began to catch up on some writing.
   Sloppy Joses for dinner. Gary Porch sat with me still whining about his personal poverty level. I told him I’d take a look at his radio when we went upstairs, and I eventually bought it for $10. I used it to record classic rock songs from The Arrow, 93.1 FM, a station that isn’t addicted to The Doors and Rod Stewart as KLOS (Mark and Brian’s station) is. I recorded one Blondie song, and one from Pink Floyd.
   I watched the “Succubus Attacking Skinner,” episode of the “X Files,” but it really wasn’t a succubus who was attacking him, it was that damn cigarette smoking bastard again. Well, he got his in the very last “X Files” episode... or did he?
   I read in the newspaper about Fox News latest lawsuit against comedian and author, Al Franken. Fox is suing Franken for his use of the phrase “Lies, and the Lying Liars who Use Them, a Fair and Balanced View of the Right,” as the title of his latest book. Fox contends that the term “Fair and Balanced,” belongs to them in the form of a trademark. 
   The lawsuit was dropped three days after it was filed, Judge Denny Chin refusing Fox’s request for an injunction. In his decision, Chin ruled that the case (Fox v. Franken) was "wholly without merit, both factually and legally". He went on to suggest that Fox News' trademark on the phrase "fair and balanced" could be invalid. 
   I’m not so interested in the lawsuit, which has had the ironic effect of  giving the book a great deal of publicity it wouldn’t have received otherwise, and therefore increasing sales, but I welcomed the news that Al was an author and apparently a spokesman for the left. Lord knows we need them.
   I was very pleased to discover what the title of Frankin’s first book was “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot,” which pretty much sums it up, don’t you think? 
   Joseph Mauro struck back with his own book, “Al Franken is a Bucktoothed Moron--And Other Observations: The Right Strikes Back!” which is funny too.
   Yet Rush is fat, and Al doesn’t have buck teeth. 
   I really have to get Mr. Franken’s books, oh yes.
   I was able to get good enough reception on channel 13 to record “Flirting with Disaster,” at 8:00, starring the lovely Patricia Arquette, Téa Leoni, Lily Tomlin, and Mary Tyler Moore.
   Again, this film held a dubious significance for me. It was the first and last movie that appeared on my television when I stayed at the Cecil Hotel last year, a trying period of time marked by relapse and unemployment (and lots of canned pasta products).
   While re-watching the movie tonight I realized I had not actually paid attention to it before and didn’t know what it was about really. While at the Cecil I was... preoccupied, so much so that I hardly paid attention to what was on the television.
   I was pleasantly surprised tonight to discover how good the film was, with Patricia and Ms. Leoni putting in respectable comedic performances. 
   I also watched a great sketch on “MAD TV,” about how gross men are. I agree totally.
   One of the reasons that I respect and admire women to the extent that I do is that they can lead happy, fulfilling lives, although cursed with men.
   After going to sleep I dreamt that Mary Tyler Moore and Veronica Hart (star of ”The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Ordinary People,” “The Gin Game,” and  “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights,” “Amanda by Night” respectively), lived next door to me when I was 16 years old and tried to lure me over to their house and get my high on LSD and paint thinner, and watch James Bond movies.
   They succeeded.  

17 August    Sunday    Day 36

   I set my alarm for 4:00AM and got up just after 6, listening to the soothing rhythms of the Skater's Waltz which emanated from my radio. 
   I put a load of dirty clothes in the washer before showering.
   After putting said clothes into the dryer at the appropriate time I read from “The Way of Zen,” and meditated.
   Boiled eggs for breakfast. Boiled eggs every Sunday these days.
   I had a wonderful, peaceful day up in my lonely room. I certainly isolated, but it was wonderful and peaceful.
   I got a lot of work done. A lot of writing. I already had the Sunday section from yesterday’s paper and would spend a good part of the day going through that. 
   I found seven jobs I could look into from the want ads. I prepared fax cover sheets for all of them so I wouldn’t have to do it at the One Stop Center.
   Mary Carey, my candidate for governor, is keeping herself in the news. I saw her on T.V. promoting no jury duty for the unemployed, which I wholeheartedly agree with. She’s a very smart, ambitious girl. Beautiful, talented, and physically sound.
   I changed clothes after an intense yoga session at 9:30AM, and left the building for the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple. 
   I hadn’t attended services for awhile and thought they might miss me, and I wanted I wanted to get out of my little room at least once during the day.
   The temple is located on 3rd and Central, about a ten minute walk from the Weingart, a beautiful building, inspired by the Tōdai-ji Temple in Nara, Japan.
   When I got there I was told there would be no service today. I felt Buddhism had rejected me, which was really bad as Buddhists accept just about anybody, even Dutch people. I left and slowly walked back to my lonely room.
   I didn’t think to ask when the next service would be, and the information was not offered to me.
   As a non-Japanese person with no family connected to the temple, I am barely tolerated there. 
   I am used to this type of treatment and will find out on my own when the next service will be, and may or may not go to it.
   I recorded a lot of classic rock in the afternoon, stealing songs right off of the airwaves from Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led  Zeppelin, The Beatles, Arrowsmith, Bad Company, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Yes, BTO, BLT, and Tennessee Ernie Ford.
   I would have sang along while recording them but my nose was still stopped up.
   I read in the paper that the Weingart Foundation had donated 1.15 million dollars (American) to KCET, Los Angeles’s local PBS television station. Way to go Weingart! Well done. 
   I learned at the library that as of 1994 the Weingart Foundation had assets of $490,000,000, which is like almost a half a billion dollars (American), so they can afford to donate to KCET, and other fine organizations. 
   I feel very secure knowing that I will not be evicted any time soon due to the Weingart not paying it’s rent (actually the building was donated to the Foundation in 1983, so there is no rent).
   I feel very secure knowing that the lights and the water won’t go off any time soon due to the Weingart not paying it’s bills.
   There’s a picture of the Weingart building above, just below the Buddhist Temple. You can see the window to my lonely room on the side of the building facing the photographer, five stories up and just about in the middle. The intersection pictured is 6th Street and San Pedro. All the fire trucks in Los Angeles turn off of 6th onto San Pedro headed north, just below my window. They all have their sirens blasting which hurts my ears.
   I took a little nap after beginning the taping process. I remember a dream involving Molly Ringwald, a hula hoop, crayfish, fresh fruit, and silly putty. 
   I woke up after an hour screaming, then watched the last half of the Lewis and Clark program. I became more enthusiastic about writing a narrative of their story.
   I know this... it would be good, very good... and it would be long, very long.
   But it wouldn’t have many special effects shots!
   I began writing the first draft of a screenplay for a remake of the sci fi classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” after watching “Futurerama.” I’ve been thinking about it for years, and I guess I’ve thought about it enough to stop thinking about it and start writing. So far this film has been overlooked in the Hollywood remake frenzy and I wouldn’t want someone to beat me to it.
   Next after this... “Forbidden Planet.”
   I also watched the last 2 hours of King’s “The Storm of the Century,” because I had forgotten if it ever did explain what exactly was Linoge, the stories antagonist. It wasn’t.  André Linoge was just a really old guy (but not immortal) who knew everyone’s business, and liked to hurt and kill people with evil magic. 
   Thanks a lot King, you lazy bastard. How do you expect us to battle these creatures if we don’t know what we’re up against? We need some actionable intelligence, and you were our inside source.
   This wasn’t one of his happier tales, I’ll tell you that.
   I fixed myself some microwave popcorn for tonight’s 11:00 “X-Files,” the “Black Alien Baseball Player from Roswell,” episode. 
   I switched to “The Outer Limits,” at midnight, but became disinterested fast and went to sleep, after setting my alarm for 4:00.
   I dreamt it was 1802 and I had been sent by President Jefferson to explore the new territory sold to the United States in the recent Louisiana Purchase, and the guides assigned to me were native Americans, Hyapatia Lee and Jeanette Littledove, the beautiful and talented stars of “Centerfold” and “Dangerous When Wet,” respectively.  
   Enough said.

18 August   Monday       Day 37

   “The Impact Program” was off the air this week, perhaps next as well. Frank is on vacation, as are Mark and Brian... again.
   I recall Brian mentioning it briefly (they always mention their vacations briefly as they are ashamed of them, because they know they’re getting away with murder taking so much time off, as the rest of us work and slave throughout the year helping to make this country’s economy that which it is), suggesting, “Some would say... well deserved vacation.”
   Who Brian? Who would say that besides you and Mark? You work four hours a day, God damn it! Four hours is all we ask. Four hours in which Los Angeles requires the rich entertainment of which you provide... Four hours... and what do you do? Huumm? What do you and your sad ass partner do? You leave us... abandon us... eighteen weeks a year, playing repeat broadcasts that we’ve already heard before because they’re repeat broadcasts! Well that’s no good Mark and Brian, no good at all, and I for one am going to do something about it.
   You’ll be hearing from my legal aid intern!
   I slept until 6:30, or so. I was able to take a shower all by myself today. 
   Giselle was wearing a beautiful short skirt. Simply lovely. The skirt was nice too. 
   This was a good omen for the upcoming week. I’m sure to get a job because of it, although I am not superstitious. 
   Mary Carey Cook made it on to Despierta America, Fernando, one of the male hosts, saying something about her in Spanish. A video clip was shown of my candidate dancing next to a pole of some kind. She must have been visiting a fire station, spreading cheer and encouragement to our heroic first responders, although the place she was dancing in seemed rather dark and smoke filled.
   She just gets better and better.
   Scrambled eggs and fried Bologna for breakfast, this being the first time I’ve come down to the cafeteria for breakfast in about a week or more. 
   I walked to the One Stop Center, passing the Flower Market on the way, and spent 47 minutes there printing personal files, checking my Email, and faxing my resume.
   A Mr. Baker from the State Board of Appeals called me twice last week although I canceled my scheduled hearing. He does not appear to be aware of that and told me he has figured out why I requested the hearing and is willing to make a correction.
   I called him back and left a message on his voice mail. I’m curious to find out what it is he feels needs correcting.
   Nita Rodgers, from the Real Estate Legal Service in Pasadena called me three times last week, wanting to schedule an interview. She sounded like a very nice lady. I’m sorry I was sick and missed that opportunity.
   By the way, I felt pretty good today, except my nose is still running. It feels like it will never stop. I blow it occasionally.  
   My friend Ron McCree called me back eleven days ago in response to the message I left him at the Service Spot. He wants me to call him back.
   I had time to go to the Freeman Occupational Center to get myself a free haircut at the barber school. I took a DASH bus to get there.
   A nice Hispanic lady cut my hair, taking off a bit too much on the sides. They do that a lot. When in doubt keep sniping, and take 45 minutes doing it.
   It will grow back, and I couldn’t beat the price.
   I took a DASH back to 5th and Spring. I walked by a whole bunch of black people trying to sell me drugs. I also stopped at the SRHT office only to discover that it was being remodeled and wouldn’t be open until Wednesday.
   I caught a bus across the street which headed  west to the Arco Plaza to check my mail. It was now 10:30, thirty minutes past the time the mail is supposed to be ready, and found the P.O. Box lady was still putting the mail in the boxes. She said she’d be another hour.
   They too will feel the wrath of my legal aid tech.
   I took off. I wouldn’t wait an hour to see Elvis come back from the dead, let alone wait for mail that might not be there.
   I returned to the Weingart for lunch, running into John Manzano in the halls. He had freshly returned from Camarillo visiting him mother.
   “Did you say hello to your mom for me?” I asked while we waited in line to eat.
   “Yeah,” he said, although I felt sure he was lying.
   “How is she?” I asked.
   “Did she get her house fumigated finally?”
   “I didn’t ask,” he told me.
   “You didn’r ask?”
   “No. I forgot about it.”
   “You forgot about it?”
   “Yeah. I forgot about it.”
   “What were you doing that was so important that you couldn’t ask your mother about things that are important to her?”
   “I was watching the Cooking Channel.” he explained.
   “Did you bring back any good recipes, at least?”
   “No,” he told me.
   “Well my God!” I cried, exasperated. “Will you do me a favor? The next time you call your mom will you ask her if she got her house fumigated? It’s of great concern to me.”
   “Yeah... sure.”
   He wanted to know who won between Freddy Kruger and Jason.
   “They’re both already dead,” I told him. “How could either possibly win?”
   He didn’t believe me.
   After lunch I walked to the VA clinic on Temple, and checked in at the desk of the ASAP drug treatment program and volunteered for a urine test. I hadn’t attended groups there for several months and just wanted to let them know I was clean.
   At 1:00 I attended the Phase 1 group, facilitated by Kathy RN, a white haired widow who is one of the most knowledgeable persons I know of concerning drugs and alcohol rehabilitation. We discussed goals and solutions.
   My goal: Get a job to get money. Write. Move to Monterey.
   Solution: The solution is always the same. Stay sober.
   I spoke to the veteran’s benefits counselor about why the financial aid people could not verify I was a veteran. He didn’t know what to do and passed me along to the veteran’s voc rehab counselor who wasn’t in. 
   Great. Every indication points to the financial aid people not knowing what they were doing. I will attack this problem from that end like a bull terrier worrying a raw, meaty bone!
   I returned to Arco Plaza, via a DASH. I had two letters from the State Board of Appeals, one confirming my hearing cancellation, another from Mr. Baker wanting to discuss my upcoming hearing. 
    I filed both letters in the trash bin.
   John Manzano found me after I returned to the Weingart and asked me if I had an extra cigarette lighter.
   “No.” I told him. What am I? An AM/PM?
   “No really. Do you have a cigarette lighter?”
   “Any matches?”
   “No matches?”
   “No lighter or matches?”
   “No, no, no, no!”
   He left. I started to yoga and exercise. I wrote as well.
   Chile dogs were promised for dinner. What I got was two greasy, gamey turkey legs and chile fries. I was sorely disappointed. 
   John Manzano came back, but soon left after finding out I was not into Monday Night Football, realizing he would not be successful in his attempts to needle me into watching it.
   I watched Charlie Rose interview Jerry Buckheimer, like the biggest money making film producer ever. He seemed like a nice man.
   Ten Years After’s haunting, homophobic song, “I’d Like to Change the World,” kept going through my mind. I don’t know why.
   I would like to take this opportunity to wish Erico Oporto of Florida a happy 15th birthday. Way to go!
   At 8:00 I was also promised “The Genocide Factor,” a two hour long program discussing man’s inherent penchant for mass murder for the sole purpose of gaining and maintaining personal power on channel 58, the Orange County PBS station. I’m intensely interested in human rights issues, and got ready to tape the show.
   What I got at 8:00 on channel 58 was a teachers discussion on math assessment tests.
   I turned to KCET and watched “The History Detectives,” while reading of the neurological effects of nicotine use, and Spencer Tracy’s childhood in Milwaukee. 
   The genocide show came on at 9:00, and I taped it. I won’t go into it other that to say that the program affected me deeply. I will revisit this subject in the next and last journal like this, if I live long enough to complete it.
   I fell asleep during the 2nd hour, sometime between 10:15 and 11:00. I woke up enough at 11:05 to stop the recording process, turn to channel 13, and go back to sleep. I dreamt I was exploring Cambodia’s Killing Fields with Katie Couric, the Today Show co-anchor, and Elyse Luray, my favorite history detective (I don’t know why, she just is). We surveyed the scene and discussed the atrocities committed there, and found nothing funny about it. We were all greatly saddened actually, humbled and astounded by the ignorance of our fellow humans, and their perpetual selfishness and indifference to suffering. We realized that our own country was not free from guilt.
   We looked forward to a day of enlightenment that we knew would be a long time coming.

Friday, October 25, 2013

After the Shutdown 2

Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience accurate sympathy or compassion. -Wikipedia

Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy (/ˈsoʊsiəˌpæθi/)) is a personality disorder characterized partly by enduring anti-social behavior, a diminished capacity for empathy or remorse, and poor behavioral controls. -Wikipedia

RED FLAG #3. Exhibiting a lack of empathy.
“They don’t really have the meaningful emotional inner worlds that most people have and perhaps because of that they can't really imagine or feel the emotional worlds of other people," M. E. Thomas, a diagnosed sociopath and author of “Confessions Of A Sociopath,” told NPR. "It’s very foreign to them.” - Macrina Cooper-White, Huffington Post, “11 Signs You May Be Dating A Sociopath”

#3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. This allows them to betray people, threaten people or harm people without giving it a second thought. They pursue any action that serves their own self interest even if it seriously harms others. This is why you will find many very "successful" sociopaths in high levels of government, in any nation.

#5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and "win" at all costs. They hate to lose any argument or fight and will viciously defend their web of lies, even to the point of logical absurdity.

#9) Sociopaths never apologize. They are never wrong. They never feel guilt. They can never apologize. Even if shown proof that they were wrong, they will refuse to apologize and instead go on the attack.

#10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth merely because they say it! Charles Manson, the sociopathic murderer, is famous for saying, "I've never killed anyone! I don't need to kill anyone! I THINK it! I have it HERE! (Pointing to his temple.) I don't need to live in this physical realm..." -Mike Adams,, How to spot a sociopath - “10 Red Flags That Could Save You From Being Swept Under the Influence of a Charismatic Nut Job

“I was proud of him,” Mr. Labay said of the state’s junior senator. “I was proud he was a Texan. I wish they would have held firm, and we’d still be shut down.” Speaking of Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Psychologists have found that conservatives are fundamentally more anxious than liberals, which may be why they typically desire stability, structure and clear answers even to complicated questions. “Conservatism, apparently, helps to protect people against some of the natural difficulties of living,” says social psychologist Paul Nail of the University of Central Arkansas. “The fact is we don't live in a completely safe world. Things can and do go wrong. But if I can impose this order on it by my worldview, I can keep my anxiety to a manageable level.” -Emily Laber-Warren for Scientific American

   Republicans don’t like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because it’s  President Obama’s signature achievement since he took office, one they were unable to obstruct as they were not in power when it was passed (March 2010). Republicans after taking control of the House have done virtually nothing to improve the country and the lot of the majority of it’s citizens. They are horrified by the prospect that anything good or beneficial will occur while Obama is president, because if that were to happen the Democrats might retain the presidency in 2016, so they obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, hoping the American voters forget who it was that actually prevented the country from advancing, and blame Obama, and by extension the next Democratic nominee for president. 
   They are wrong. The American people will not forget. But if they do people like me are here to remind them. 
   Oh Yeah, the idea that affordable healthcare for everyone was originally a conservative idea. Here’s the document written by the right wing Heritage Foundation suggesting it.
   And the great state of Massachusetts implemented it under then Governor Mittens Romney, a point of fact that embarrassed him to no end during the last general election. Yet he insisted he would repeal Obamacare on his first day in office when he won the presidency, which was a lie of course. The President doesn’t have the power to repeal laws.
   And neither does the House of Representatives. Not by itself.
   But you know... if inconvenient facts in the real world get in the way of Republicans, just ignore them, move on, and lie about it. Standard Republican Operating Procedure (SROP).
   Republicans also don’t like Obamacare because it makes healthcare expenses less expensive, and places new rules on the health insurance industry, like not being able to turn down individuals with preexisting conditions, that hinder the profitability of said health insurance companies. And that is unthinkable to those who worship money above all things. 
   And most of all Republicans are deathly afraid that Obamacare will work. 
   Mind you, Republicans offer no health insurance reform of their own. They say they have ideas, but in the real world they have nadda. Not a thing. They used to say “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare, that was their mantra, until they had to admit that they couldn’t come up with any ideas of their own that would reign in costs in the only industrialized nation that did not provide basic healthcare for it’s citizens, one of the most expensive countries to receive healthcare, with the least amount of tangible result, namely better health and quality of life.
   So they changed their mantra to “Repeal...” And that’s it! Just leave it the way it was, which pretty much let for profit health insurance companies control every healthcare aspect. If it cost too much to keep a insured person well, then that insured person was pretty much out of luck.
   Not to mention all of the poor who had no insurance to begin with, who were using the emergency room as their primary care physician. An emergency room that tax payers subsidized anyway. 
   So when the Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke to the American people and told them jobs was the House’s number one priority, he was flat out lying. To this day the House has not offered up one jobs bill! The President offered up one, the American Jobs Act of 2011, but it stalled in Congress (of course!). Instead the Republicans in the House thought it best to spend the tax payer’s time and money holding useless votes to repeal Obamacare 41 times (I say useless because everybody knew, including House Republicans, that their bills to repeal Obamacare would die in the Democratically controlled Senate, and if somehow the Senate was high on acid for some reason when presented with the House bills and passed one, then the President would be very unlikely to sign it into law, thereby repealing his greatest administrative achievement (unless he was hitting the old Windowpane as well))! 41 times. If you count the  continuing resolutions offered by the House during the appropriations process leading up to the shutdown, the total goes up to 46 (by the way, the Republicans could not sabotage Obamacare as they usually do by withholding funds for it. Money for the laws October 1st implementation had already been allocated and would continue even if the government did shutdown, making the Republican’s chance of stopping it almost exactly 0. The Republicans knew this before they shut the government down, so they changed their demands after it became clear that Obamacare would survive, to a whole host of other issues that they knew the Democrats would not agree to (a balanced budget amendment, approving Keystone XL, eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, Medicare privatization, tax reform as outlined by Paul Ryan, the REINS Act, which would require Congress to approve significant federal regulations, means-testing Social Security, defunding Obamacare (yes, again), allowing employers to eliminate insurance coverage for birth control, an expansion of off-shore drilling, preserving all the Bush tax cuts, “Trillions” in budget cuts, slashing funding for food stamps, protecting mountaintop strip mining, stripping the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases, loosening regulation on coal ash, delaying Obamacare implementation by one year (yes, again), repealing a tax on medical devices, eliminating Social Service Block Grants, expanding drilling on federal lands, restricting the child tax credit, mandatory partridges in a pear trees. Need I say that if these demands were actually to be implemented the result would be a disaster for the environment, the poor, children, women, seniors, and practically everybody else on the planet, to benefit a few billionaires and multinational corporations), making the shutdown completely unnecessary. But we’re talking about Republican reality here, not real reality, and appeasing the Tea Party base, who make their home in Republican reality... and whatever Fox News tells them is true. 
   So they really wanted to get rid of Obamacare (the major shutdown advocate being Texas (of course) senator Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, who has been in office all of ten months and now wants to run for president in 2016. I guess the only qualifications to become president these days is to make as much noise as possible, and be the biggest asshole (a term of endearment) in Congress as possible, which will make you a darling of the corporate media). Their ultra-conservative base did, who would threaten House members with primary elections with Tea Party candidates if House members stepped out of line, and the Tea party members and other conservative leaning citizens were continuously being lied to by the Republican Noise Machine, i.e., Fox News and folks like Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh to name just a few, who would prattle on about how the world will end if Obamacare was implemented (6 Most Brazen Right-Wing Lies About Obamacare. And one truth... from Fox?!), and who are in turn controlled and funded by multi-billionaires, the so called 1%, who wish to control the country simply for their own financial gain. 
   That’s one reason I call these politicians, and the ultra rich corporations and individuals who control them, traitors. Traitors to the nation, and to it’s people.
   Benjamin Wittes of  the Brookings Institution, wrote that Congress is "the clearest and most present danger in the world to the national security of the United States."
   “As summarized by a recent New York Times article, we've learned that the shutdown was planned months in advance by a very small but incredibly wealthy network of outside interest groups. Roughly three dozen well funded political organizations signed off on the "Blueprint to Defunding Obamacare," which outlined the strategy of using a government shutdown as leverage against the healthcare law, back in February -- nearly eight months before the shutdown went into effect. A Supreme Court hostile to any efforts to curtail the corrosive influence of money in politics has given these groups free reign to enforce this strategic vision, will of the people be damned.” - Mansur Gidfar, The Huffington Post
   So on October first the government shutdown began. The first time in 17 years. 
   What happened? 
   During the shutdown, most non-exempt government employees were furloughed. This put about 800,000 public servants on indefinite unpaid leave starting October 1st. Unpaid leave. They have bills to pay just like anyone else, and were not able to pay them. 
   Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) offered furloughed workers his financial advice on Twitter: “If you are a furloughed government employee, we encourage you to reach out to your financial institution as soon as you worry you might miss a paycheck. Financial institutions often offer short term loans and other resources. Don’t wait until you are behind on a bill; call now and explore your options.”
   Well thank you Rep Pearce! Suggesting government workers take out loans due to his parties actions probably was very helpful. So helpful that this message was removed and blamed on  a staffer. 
   Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) suggested furloughed workers should not be given back pay for the time they were forced to leave work. 
   During a town meeting a caller told Yoho that he was fine giving back pay to federal employees who continued working during the shutdown, "but the people that are home watching Netflix and whatever, I'm not sure that we should be sending them checks."
   Yoho referred to the bill that passed the House unanimously in his response: "Well, when we voted on that, they were supposed to come back to work as part of that deal. I agree one hundred percent with you. If they're not working, they shouldn't get paid."
   The amount of compassion and empathy displayed by House Republicans, first by shutting down the government to begin with, and then displayed during the shutdown, is beyond belief... for those who aren’t sociopaths.
   Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) justified his refusal to give up his constitutionally protected $174,000 annual salary during the shutdown by stating “I'm a dick!" No, he didn't really say that, but he might as well have. What he did say was this, "I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it," he told the Omaha World-Herald. "Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly." He didn’t seem to mind or care about the hundreds of thousands of other families that may have had nice houses and kids in school who were not earning salaries due to the Republican shutdown. 
   He later apologized for his statement, and said he would forgo his salary during the shutdown, and for his troubles is now facing a tough Democratic challenger in his next relection bid, Omaha city councilman  Pete Festersen, who hadn’t planned on entering the race until Terry mouthed off.
   About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees were furloughed., which opened up the possibility of Liechtenstein finally admitting to its nuclear program and attacking us.
   The WIC program (Women, Infants, and Children), which provides low-income pregnant women, new mothers and children up to the age of five with healthy food, was not funded. "No additional federal funds would be available," said the Department of Agriculture.
   The Center for Disease Control and Prevention faced a reduced ability to detect and investigate disease outbreaks. The annual influenza program – the one that tracks the flu and helps people get flu shots, was been shut down. The CDC also stopped offering its usual assistance to state and local authorities, who rely on the agency for help in tracking unusual outbreaks.
   All right at the beginning of the flu season (I got my flu shot at the VA Tuesday. I may not get the flu, but my arm still hurts).
   The National Institute of Health continued to treat patients at its hospital center, but no new clinical trials began.
   Still members of the Republican Doctors Caucus, dressed in lab coats,  made the case that pediatric cancer research trials at the NIH deserved to be funded, even if the rest of the government was not.
   "There are times that the private sector cannot be reasonably expected to do the research and development needed because the issue, the syndrome, the disease, might be so rare that it is economically prohibitive," said Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), whose son suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder.
   “I ask the president himself to stop this nonsense," said Rokita. "Let us help people. Let us help children. Please."
   Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), a former nurse, choked up as she described the tears of parents learning that their children have cancer. She said it's up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to help those families by passing the GOP bill.
   "Don't take hope away from those families. Don't take hope away from those moms," Ellmers said. "Let's give hope back to those families. I'll tell you, Sen. Reid, you will not sleep until that happens."
   That’s all very touching except for the fact that it was of their own doing that clinical trials were ceased. This is just another form of extortion, pass the GOP bill defunding the new healthcare law that will provide new health insurance for millions of Americans that had formerly not had it, or these children with cancer will suffer because we shut the government down. 
   Either these representatives figure that the American people as as dumb as they are, or they’re truly not aware of the ridiculousness of their position... or both. 
   The freaking Panda Cam was shut down! I mean really!
   The animals at the National Zoo were cared for and fed, being essential personal, but the zoo, like all Smithsonian museums, was closed to the public. 
   NASA furloughed almost all of its employees, though it continued to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere on to support the International Space Station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. 
   National parks and monuments were closed, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the National Mall and the Statue of Liberty (not to mention the thousands of small businesses that catered to those that visited these places). Park rangers erected barricades to prevent people from accessing these spaces. This caused a public outcry from the very same Republicans who had caused them to be closed (clips 2 through 6 at the top of this post), due to the fact that the public likes to visit these sites. Republicans apparently were truly outraged that the Obama Administration would actually close these parks and monuments, which might have been blamed on them, and quite rightly so. Yet Republicans like Michelle Bachmann and Randy Neugebauer thought the closures could possibly be used to their advantage by turning the tables and trying to blame the President for the closures that they caused. 
   I know! It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how they think. They live in a bubble of non-reality that they reinforce amongst themselves, the external reality that the rest of us live in be damned, because it doesn’t conform to their views, or help to promote their agenda and propaganda. 
   Do you notice how Michelle Bachmann doesn’t quite get the fact that she’s using veteran’s as a political prop when denouncing the Obama administration for using veterans as a political prop. I did.
   Or how Neugebauer tried to get a park service officer to be ashamed of herself for doing her job, for enforcing the shutdown that he helped cause. 
   These people are just totally unbelievable. 
   And they’re in charge. 
   My God. 
   Then Republicans like asshat (a term of endearment) Darrell Issa spent the American tax payer’s time and money holding hearings on why the National Park Service was doing such a good job shutting down the national parks (it’s not easy closing the Grand Canyon), which was it’s job during a government shutdown, that Republicans caused, but which made the Republicans look bad. 
   These people are insane. Their certifiable. They need to go to the funny farm and get treated with happy talk and Risperidone. 
   The Veteran’s Administrations’ hopsitals and clinics remained open because it is funded in advance. And a good thing too, or else I’d probably have the flu right now.
   On and on. In total the cost of the Republican shutdown is estimated to be around 24 billion dollars ($24 billion in potential economic activity -- equalling at least 0.6% of projected annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor's. Instead of the 3% annualized growth fourth quarter originally projected in September, S&P now forecasts actual fourth-quarter growth near 2%, the agency said in a press release). That’s a lot of money, even for me. That’s a little over a third of what the Koch brothers are currently worth (about 30 billion apiece). 
   This shutdown was caused by the party that loves to embrace the claim that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Well it is when it is convenient for them to be, just as it is when they claim they are the defenders of family values and Christianity. 
   They keep saying that Obamacare is the greatest job killer ever created, and that they are so worried that government spending and the federal deficit will ruin the future of our children, and then this shutdown, which slows the economy and threatens another recession, actually kills jobs, and wastes a significant amount of money that belongs to you and me. 
   Elizabeth Warren, the new junior senator from the great state of Massachusetts and consumer advocate, got... how shall I say this... pissed off by Republican antics (and you don’t want to piss off Elizabeth Warren).
   She sent sent an email to supporters saying that although she was pleased that the bill addressing two disasters had passed (the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis), she felt the damage to the economy had already been done.
   "According to the S&P index, the government shutdown had delivered a powerful blow to the U.S. economy. By their estimates, $24 billion has been flushed down the drain for a completely unnecessary political stunt," Warren wrote in the email. "$24 billion dollars. How many children could have been back in Head Start classes? How many seniors could have had a hot lunch through Meals on Wheels? How many scientists could have gotten their research funded? How many bridges could have been repaired and trains upgraded?" 
   The good people who write The Progress Report for ThinkProgress came up with a list of other things that $24 billion could be used for:
   “The net cost to the government from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP): $24 billion
   The Department of Agriculture’s proposed budget: $22.6 billion
   NASA’s approved budget: $16.6 billion
   All air transportation programs, including the Federal Aviation Administration, security,    research, and other costs: $21.9 billion
   The Child Tax Credit: $22.1 billion
   The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formally known as welfare): $17.7 billion
   The cost of Head Start, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Women Infants and Children (WIC) program combined: $25.2 billion
   The $24 BILLION sucked out of the economy thanks to the government shutdown comes on top of an estimated $700 BILLION cumulative hit to the economy thanks to the GOP’s years-long effort to govern by crisis.
   Despite admitting that they got ‘nothing’ as a result of the painful and damaging shutdown, Tea Party Republicans say it was somehow still ‘worth it’ for them.
   In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz won’t rule out another shutdown, adding that he will still ‘do anything’ to stop Obamacare. Another House Republican, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), said, ‘we’re going to start this all over again.’”
   Wikipedia tells us: “The United States debt ceiling or debt limit is a legislative mechanism to limit the amount of national debt that can be issued by the Treasury. The debt ceiling is an aggregate figure which applies to the gross debt, which includes debt in the hands of the public and in Intragovernment accounts. Because expenditures are authorized by separate legislation, the debt ceiling does not directly limit budget deficits. In effect, it can only restrain Treasury from paying for expenditures after the limit has been reached, but which have already been approved (in the budget) and appropriated.
   When the debt ceiling is actually reached without an increase in the limit having been passed, Treasury may resort to "extraordinary measures" to temporarily finance the government's expenditures and obligations until a resolution can be reached. The Treasury has never reached the point of exhausting extraordinary measures. If this situation were to occur, it is unclear whether Treasury would be able to prioritize payments on debt to avoid a default on its debt obligations, but it would at least have to default on some of its non-debt obligations. A default could trigger a variety of economic problems including a financial crisis and a decline in output that would put the country into a recession.”
   Well the Treasury was about to exhaust all of it’s extraordinary measures on Oct 17th, thereby causing a debt ceiling default. What would happen if that occurred? 
   “If the debt ceiling is not raised and extraordinary measures are exhausted, the United States government is legally unable to borrow to pay its financial obligations. At that point it must cease spending unless the expenditure is covered by revenue receipts, which can lead to a partial government shutdown. In addition, the government would not have the resources the pay the interest on (and sometime redeem) government securities when due, which would be characterized as a default. A default may affect the United States' sovereign risk rating and the interest rate that it will be required to pay on future debt. The United States has never defaulted on its financial obligations, but the periodic crises relating to the debt ceiling has led to a rating downgrade by several rating agencies and a warning by others. The GAO estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling during the debt ceiling crisis of 2011 raised borrowing costs for the government by $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011 and noted that the delay would also raise costs in later years. The Bipartisan Policy Center extended the GAO's estimates and found that the delay raised borrowing costs by $18.9 billion over ten years.” -Wikipedia
   We wouldn’t have to worry about the government shutting down because the Republicans had already shut it down. However the anarchists of the Tea Party wanted to default on our debt as well. Why not? Two crisis’s  for the price of one.
   Wikipedia elaborates: “Yalman Onaran of Bloomberg News wrote that the government's failure to raise the debt ceiling and pay its debt would "halt a $5 trillion lending mechanism for investors who rely on Treasuries, blow up borrowing costs for billions of people and companies, ravage the dollar and throw the U.S. and world economies into a recession that probably would become a depression", noting that a government default would be 23 times larger than the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy during the Great Recession. On October 15, 2013, Fitch, the credit rating agency, placed the U.S. AAA ratings on "rating watch negative" as talks to increase the debt limit reached an impasse fueling concerns of congressional dysfunction and impending default.” 
   Our friends overseas were watching.
   Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said that the U.S. debt limit, if not raised, would have an "internationally significant impact." On how the US situation could affect Japan, he said "I think this could likely result in a situation where the dollar will be sold and the yen will be bought." The falling dollar is bad news for Japan's exporters, a key driver of growth in the world's third-largest economy.
   “They’re putting at risk thousands of jobs here in Mexico,” said Ahmad Fayad, 31, an administrative assistant leaving a bank in Mexico City. “Many companies here depend on the American economy’s health. And if everything continues to be so uncertain, they’ll start laying people off.”
   “I never thought a global superpower like the U.S. could ever be in a comparable position to Greece,” said Theodore Couloumbis, emeritus professor of international relations at the University of Athens. “Both countries are paying dearly for rising political tensions. But in America’s case, there is the potential for serious global repercussions, too.”
   “I think the U.S. is losing its place,” said Osama Shawki, a shopkeeper in Cairo.
    “It’s strange that such a thing has happened there,” said Irina Popova, 40, a homemaker in Russia, which suffered a financial collapse and default in 1998. “I always dreamed of going to America. It can happen to any country. It was us before, now it’s them.”
   China's Dagong credit rating agency on October 17th downgraded its United States sovereign credit rating to A- and maintained its negative outlook on America's solvency.  Dagong warned that despite Washington's last-minute resolution of the debt ceiling deadlock: "The fundamental situation that the debt growth rate significantly outpaces that of fiscal income and gross domestic product remains unchanged."
   China, our largest debtor, owns more about $1.2 trillion in bills, notes and bonds, according to the Treasury, and has questioned the future of using the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, as well as a few other countries like Japan, Australia, and most notably Liechtenstein.
   China's official Xinhua news agency called for "a de-Americanized world", while the Global Times, a government mouthpiece, chastened the "unreliability of the US" and warned that the United States position as a superpower was under threat.
   Congress quite often waits until the very last day and hour to get things done. The debt limit crisis was no exception. On October 16th, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch “Turtleman” (a term of endearment) McConnell advanced a proposal to fund the government through January 15th at present levels and suspend the debt limit until February 7th. The bill passed 81 to 18, with support from all of the Democrats in the Senate and 27 of the Republicans. 18 Republicans voted to oppose it. A list of those 18 can be found above. 
   What exactly were these 18 Republicans voting for when they voted no to a debt ceiling increase? 
   Economic chaos. 
   To what end?
   Who the fuck knows? I don’t.
   Asshat (a term of endearment) Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had the nerve to appear after the vote on “Meet the Press” and discuss term limits on congressional seats which might enhance productivity in Congress.
   Really? After he had just voted for worldwide economic chaos. 
   There’s that Republican mind set for you. 
   Productivity in Congress? There’s a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.
   The Senate proposal was sent to the House which finally admitted defeat, and with hours to go before the default became official,  voted to approve the Senate's plan by 285 to 144. Democrats supported the bill unanimously, 198-0 with two Democrats not voting. The Republican vote was 87 to 144, with one not voting.
   Here’s the list of those who voted for anarchy:

Robert B. Aderholt R AL-4                               Robert E. Latta R OH-5
Justin Amash R MI-3                                         Billy Long R MO-7
Mark Amodei R NV-2                                        Frank D. Lucas R OK-3
Michele Bachmann R MN-6                               Blaine Luetkemeyer R MO-3
Andy Barr R KY-6                                        Cynthia M. Lummis R WY-1
Joe L. Barton R TX-6                                        Kenny Marchant R TX-24
Kerry Bentivolio R MI-11                              Tom Marino R PA-10
Rob Bishop R UT-1                                        Thomas Massie R KY-4
Diane Black R TN-6                                         Michael McCaul R TX-10
Marsha Blackburn R TN-7                               Tom McClintock R CA-4
Kevin Brady R TX-8                                         Mark Meadows R NC-11
Jim Bridenstine R OK-1                                        Luke Messer R IN-6
Mo Brooks R AL-5                                         John L. Mica R FL-7
Paul Broun R GA-10                                       Candice S. Miller R MI-10
Larry Bucshon R IN-8                                          Jeff Miller R FL-1
Michael C. Burgess R TX-26                           Markwayne Mullin R OK-2
John Campbell R CA-45                                       Mick Mulvaney R SC-5
John Carter R TX-31                                       Randy Neugebauer R TX-19
Bill Cassidy R LA-6                                         Kristi Noem R SD-1
Steven J. Chabot R OH-1                             Richard Nugent R FL-11
Jason Chaffetz R UT-3                                         Alan Nunnelee R MS-1
Chris Collins R NY-27                                       Pete Olson R TX-22
Doug Collins R GA-9                                         Steven Palazzo R MS-4
K. Michael Conaway R TX-11                            Steve Pearce R NM-2
John Culberson R TX-7                                          Scott Perry R PA-4
Ron DeSantis R FL-6                                          Tom Petri R WI-6
Jeffrey Denham R CA-10                                       Joe Pitts R PA-16
Scott DesJarlais R TN-4                                   Ted Poe R TX-2
Sean Duffy R WI-7                                           Mike Pompeo R KS-4
Jeffrey Duncan R SC-3                                           Bill Posey R FL-8
John J. Duncan Jr. R TN-2                              Tom Price R GA-6
Renee Ellmers R NC-2                                         Trey Radel R FL-19
Blake Farenthold R TX-27                            Tom Reed R NY-23
Stephen Fincher R TN-8                              Jim Renacci R OH-16
Chuck Fleischmann R TN-3                              Tom Rice R SC-7
John Fleming R LA-4                                          Martha Roby R AL-2
Bill Flores R TX-17                                               Phil Roe R TN-1
J. Randy Forbes R VA-4                                 Mike D. Rogers R AL-3
Virginia Foxx R NC-5                                         Dana Rohrabacher R CA-48
Trent Franks R AZ-8                                         Todd Rokita R IN-4
Scott Garrett R NJ-5                                          Tom Rooney R FL-17
Bob Gibbs R OH-7                                         Dennis Ross R FL-15
Phil Gingrey R GA-11                                       Keith Rothfus R PA-12
Louie Gohmert R TX-1                                         Ed Royce R CA-39
Robert W. Goodlatte R VA-6                              Paul D. Ryan R WI-1
Paul Gosar R AZ-4                                         Matt Salmon R AZ-5
Trey Gowdy R SC-4                                         Mark Sanford R SC-1
Kay Granger R TX-12                                       Steve Scalise R LA-1
Sam Graves R MO-6                                        David Schweikert R AZ-6
Tom Graves R GA-14                                       Austin Scott R GA-8
Morgan Griffith R VA-9                                         F. James Sensenbrenner R WI-5
Ralph M. Hall R TX-4                                         Pete Sessions R TX-32
Andy Harris R MD-1                                        Jason Smith R MO-8
Vicky Hartzler R MO-4                                        Lamar Smith R TX-21
Jeb Hensarling R TX-5                                         Steve Southerland R FL-2
George Holding R NC-13                           Chris Stewart R UT-2
Richard Hudson R NC-8                             Steve Stockman R TX-36
Tim Huelskamp R KS-1                                      Marlin Stutzman R IN-3
Bill Huizenga R MI-2                                         William M. Thornberry R TX-13
Randy Hultgren R IL-14                                      Michael R. Turner R OH-10
Duncan D. Hunter R CA-50                           Ann Wagner R MO-2
Robert Hurt R VA-5                                        Tim Walberg R MI-7
Bill Johnson R OH-6                                        Greg Walden R OR-2
Sam Johnson R TX-3                                        Jackie Walorski R IN-2
Walter B. Jones R NC-3                            Randy Weber R TX-14
Jim Jordan R OH-4                                        Brad Wenstrup R OH-2
Steve King R IA-4                                         Lynn Westmoreland R GA-3
Jack Kingston R GA-1                                        Roger Williams R TX-25
Doug LaMalfa R CA-1                                        Joe Wilson R SC-2
Raul Labrador R ID-1                                         Rob Woodall R GA-7
Doug Lamborn R CO-5                                     Kevin Yoder R KS-3
James Lankford R OK-5                            Ted Yoho R FL-3

   President Obama signed the bill just after midnight on October 17th.
   So we’re okay... for a little while. Everybody says the Republicans are unlikely to attempt another shutdown, but then you have folks like Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann around, so who knows?
   As my friend Jeffrey used to say, we shall see.
   Overall, what I come away with this whole episode is how childish the Republicans appeared, not only the politicians, but the Tea Party constituents as well. Just like little kids who hadn’t gotten their way.
   Can you imagine if Democrats had acted like that, and what the Republicans would say of us, and how Fox News would spin it?
   It would be like we were living in another universe.