The Unraveling Continues

June 21, 2015

It is time to stop pretending that we are the United States of America. It is time we stop deluding ourselves that we are United in anything.  After the events of Wednesday in South Carolina, it has never been more clear to me that we will never, ever get past a certain point, never stop the “us against them” rhetoric, that the rationale behind this was somehow not political, that, once again, it’s too soon to talk about race, guns, religion.

It is time to stop thinking that anything will get resolved. Ever.  It is time that we understand that. Because nothing ever gets “resolved.” Nothing.  This 21-year-old who went into a church, sat quietly for an hour and then slaughtered nine people, wanted to start a race war.

Somewhere, in Corcoran State Prison in California, prisoner number B33920, smiles.

That this atrocity happened in a black church, a historic church that has survived for nearly 200 years in a state which still hoists the Confederate flag on its state capital in Columbia. South Carolina was the first state to leave the Union following the election of Lincoln and the last to be re-admitted in 1876, in a compromise that gave the Presidency to Rutherford B. Hayes in exchange for Union (Northern) troops to leave the south.

Nothing will ever be resolved because that’s the way it happens in this country.  We never get around to resolving the important things, like race, poverty and injustice. Why?  Because every time we try, someone pulls out a gun and starts shooting.  On Thursday, I wrote ” They keep yapping on the TV about how “they don’t know what motivated (him).” Bullshit. They know exactly what motivated him. He even said to the woman he let survive, “There’s too many of you. You’re taking over this country. You’re raping our women. This has to stop.” That he cited the Trayvon Martin murder as “justification” for this is just outlandish.

What this person did was premeditated and planned. Granted, he might be as delusional as prisoner B33920, but he went in there with intent and carried it out.  He did it because there are cowards in this country who react in horror and the next moment try and explain away the motivation behind it.  A “lone wolf,” “a deranged fan,” “drifter,” “disheveled loner,” a “radical hippie.” This person is none, none of those.

This was not an “accident” as Rick Perry asserted yesterday. Then what was it, Governor? A spokesman says he “misspoke.”  Of course he did. Just like Joni Ernst said last year. The chorus at False News is already saying it’s too soon to talk about this.  But we have to, we need to in order to move the needle.

But we won’t. Because we don’t know how to talk to each other. And we don’t have the time. I have to pay my bills, plan a trip, take my kid to practice, the list of excuses masquerading as reasons are as long as my arm. We don’t make the time.

Please don’t tell me this has nothing to do with the guy in the White House, because it does. To deny it is to deny reality.

It is too bad that George Carlin isn’t around to speak the truth. Or Robin Williams or Richard Pryor.  First of all George would be having so much fun right now, as would Richard. Carlin predicted this before he died.

The unraveling continues, unabated.  And yes, we can trace this back to History’s Yard Waste. Old tanned, rested and ready. Nixon and his “Southern Strategy.” Maybe even Goldwater.  Funny thing, though, both of those would never be nominated in today’s GOP.

A huge first step would be taking down the flag of sedition and treason.  The south says this isn’t about slavery, but, if you read the various secession declarations, those state’s who made up the Confederacy (and their ancestors) are liars, plain and simple.

Here is a sample. From Alabama: “And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slaveholding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as a permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States.”

The original sin of this nation continues.  This was well-thought-out, well planned.  There isn’t anything post-racial about America. As Pryor once asked “How long will this bullshit go on?”

Forty years later, the better question might be “When will this bullshit stop?”

Oh, prisoner B33920’s name? Charlie Manson.

Stupid Should Hurt

June 12, 2015

I don’t get it. I really don’t. How people can say things like what Nevada Congressman Cresent Hardy said at a Libertarian rally in Las Vegas recently, essentially saying that people with disabilities are a drain on society.

I’ve heard it before.  All my damned life.  I have kicked and screamed and yelled and challenged people to try and live on what I receive each month. I have been shunned by a society that doesn’t want me, have any need for my talents or insight, but they get to call me a “freeloader.”


There are a million reasons why I’m angry.  But this asshole just doesn’t get it.

I never asked to be born, let alone with Cerebral Palsy.  Yet somehow, I managed against very long odds, to carve out a life for myself. Granted, it’s not the life I envisioned or wanted, but it’s a life. It is said that life happens when your planning other things, but when you’re wearing braces at five and getting purposely locked in a bathroom and thrown on the floor at nine, you pretty much know what your life is going to be like.

I understand how people look at me and assume certain things.  The names I have been called are too numerous to recount. I have been called cynical. To me that’s a compliment.  It might mean I am not anyone’s cup of tea, but at this point in my life, I don’t give a shit.

These people are lacking empathy.  This guy can’t even count.  It’s just that his worldview is so narrow that he can’t see the bigger picture.  Well, here it is, asshole:  We all have a disability. Yours is being a Rethuglican.  Who hates people with disabilities.  I’ll tell you what dumbass, you come to my house and tell me i’m a “drain on society,” and you’ll get my 30-year-old javelin shoved up your ass.

I have a bumper sticker on the back of my chair.  It says, simply “Not a Republican.” This, is yet another reason why. Here is a picture of me when I was nearly 10. Those braces hurt. A lot. Now, tell me how I’m a drain on society, Mr. Congressman?10458352_10154291750005578_2428510650537870333_n

Not much has changed

May 20, 2015

Yesterday, while looking at something else I found this:

That is was nearly 20 years ago isn’t the point. The point is that it’s only gotten worse.

Taken at face value, you could say the same things today that Mr. Hertsgaard was saying in 1996, like this…

“That is the oldest canard, I think. This idea of a liberal bias is now, twenty almost thirty years old. Nixon started talking about that with Pat Buchanan as his speechwriter.

You know, first of all, who do they work for? They work for the biggest corporations in the country…..not exactly inclined to tearing down the established order. But more importantly, look at the coverage. And that’s really, I think the most persuasive proof that this idea of a liberal press is really poppycock.”

Ah yes, good old Pat Buchanan, of the vile Buchanan’s.

On Bob Woodward, who, even 20 years ago, had lost his credibility in the journalism community.

Here’s a guy who made history, with Carl Bernstein. History. Very few journalists ever do that. And made history in a very grand and noble fashion…. the best of what journalism’ is supposed to be about. And, as you say, inspired an awful lot of people… set off a whole revolution within the Press.

And now you look and it’s 25 years later, and he’s basically become a stenographer to power. And “The Choice” is not the first book, where you see this coming. His book on the Gulf War also was very insider. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong about writing an insider book, but it is extremely limited.

And essentially what he does, he’s kind of like a tour guide to the White House. And you get enormous, enormously interesting detail of who’s sitting where and who said what. But no critical distance. And obviously Watergate had quite a bit of critical distance. And unfortunately, he seems to have lost that interest.

He says, if you ask him “What is journalism about?” He says, “It’s about ‘the truth.'” There are very few journalists in Washington who could get away with saying something quite so self-important: “The Truth.” But it’s quite right. That’s what we’re supposed to be about. I think that his truth, though, is a very narrow vision of things. Why? Because it is told in the words and from the perspective of the power-wielders, and with no view from outside the wall.

And that’s really I think in a nutshell, the problem with so much of the coverage in Washington. Is that the habits of mind that inform it, the sympathies that inform it, are all with the people at the top. And not with the people outside the Palace.

And that’s who we journalists are supposed to writing for. We’re not supposed to be writing for the powerful. We’re supposed to be writing for the citizens of this democracy, who rely upon us to tell them what’s going on here because they can’t be here themselves. They have jobs, they have kids, they have all these things they’re supposed to be doing. We as journalists are their surrogate to tell them what’s going on in their government, in their democracy.”

And it’s only gotten worse.  If you read the complete transcript, you’ll find he takes on the “nightly news” (which isn’t really “the news”) and you can replace Brokaw, Jennings and Rather with the current three and they’re still just actors.  But Hertsgaard saves his best arrows for the Sunday morning gobshite meanderings…

“I think that they are the most over-rated things. The only people who pay attention to that, to those shows on Sunday mornings, are here in Washington. You know, and the occasional political junkie out in the country.

That’s again something that’s very important inside the Palace Court because you can go to the cocktail party and these people watch the weekend shows — the Georgetown set and the journalists, they all take that stuff seriously. On the other hand, because the Press takes it seriously, those shows often do end up helping to set the agenda for the news of the week.”

Earlier this year, Chuck Todd, the caretaker at what used to be “Meet the Press,” let the cat out of the bag when he actually told the truth, as opposed to what he normally does, in a exchange with comedian Lewis Black, who asked him, point blank, why don’t you call these people out on their lies? “Because they wouldn’t come back on our shows.” That, right there, is the modern day “press” in a nutshell.

Keep in mind, this was 1996, the year FOX News was founded.  As the above video states, “How long has this been going on?” But I think the bigger question remains, in the immortal words of Richard Pryor, “How long will this bullshit go on?”

We, the people, have the power to change that. We can change it by demanding it.  “Let’s remember here the public airways are ours. They belong to the people of this country,” argues the interviewee, “They don’t belong to NBC and CBS. And in theory, we could very well say to them, as the 1934 Communications Act originally implied, that, “Look, if you want to be able to make hundreds of millions of dollars of profit every year, well then,you have to give something back to the community. And one of the things you can give to the community is not just 22 minutes of happy talk news every night, but 30 minutes or 60 minutes and you can’t sell ads.” There is nothing technological about television that keeps it from doing a good job. That is the pursuit of profit speaking. Not the requirements of the television technology.”

Once again, I say, this is why we can’t have nice things anymore.

What Really Matters

May 8, 2015

Lets see, I’m supposed to give a crap about Bruce Jenner “transitioning,” Tom Brokaw’s cancer, Savannah Guthrie’s return to Australia and some Kardashian doing something. Also, whether Tom Brady is the ass we’ve always known him to be, or just a victim of circumstance.

I just…don’t. These people have more money than they know what to do with and in the meantime, the shitheads in Washington want to cut my benefits and Medicaid? Or end it altogether?  For what? What the heck did I do to deserve this? Answer me that, all you people who will feel it eventually, too.

Look Tom, we all get old, we all get sick and we all die of something.  Not all of us have the resources at our disposal to go to the Mayo Clinic or Sloan-Kettering or have the best Dr.’s on speed dial.  Or have a daughter who’s a top Doctor in San Francisco.  It just goes to show the difference between the haves and have-nots.

Nor do I really care about Bruce Jenner or his step-daughters or his transitioning. There are millions who do this every damn day, but do they get an interview with Diane Sawyer?  Jenner’s moment of glory came in 1976.  Why are we still paying attention to him? Because he married OJ Simpson’s best friend’s widow? Or that he’s a “reality” TV “star”?  Or that he has a cadre of step-children that Agnes Nixon couldn’t have thought up in her wildest “All My Children” stories? Is that why we pay attention to a has-been?

No, we pay attention because we are told to. That, even in the 700-channel, a niche for everyone, world of info-tainment, where the news is skewered and no-one believes anything anymore, unless the hear it from this place or that place, when we are told to watch something, most do.

You want to know what I care about? My family. The people who look after me, my friends.  I care about their kids and problems. Sure I know rich people, but the majority of folks I know are just living day-to-day. None of us are promised anything beyond this moment.  These are the people i’m supposed to care about, not the others.

I happened to watch the Brokaw “special” and was nonplussed by it. People get cancer every day. One thing I do know, is that you never survive cancer. It always comes back.  Life is too short to worry about other people’s dilemmas and problems.

Take care of yourself and look after those around you. Pay attention to what is going on in the world and hear your friends and family when they need you.  I have been reminded of that in more ways than one this week.  And not from Tom Brokaw, Savannah Guthrie or Bruce Jenner, either.

Riots and Memories

April 29, 2015

History repeats itself…

In the summer of 1967, I was eight years old. My parents were still married and both sets of my grandparents were still alive.  I had just returned from a two-week stay at Camp Grace Bentley on Lake Huron.  It was a weekend.

It had been a hot summer. We lived in Redford. 19720 MacArthur.  But our mailing address was Detroit.  My sister was at my grandparents house in Detroit and Finkell and Wyoming. Wisconsin Street, a beautiful, tree-lined street just south of the Lodge Freeway. They had lived in that house since 1935. They were my mother’s parents. My sister was seven and the apple of my grandfather’s eye.  It was July 23rd. Just another night in the fourth-largest city in America.  It was a Saturday night, the Motortown Review was playing at the Fox Theater. Martha Reeves and the Vandella’s were out with their new single, “Jimmy Mack.” Motown was cracking out the hits like the Big Three were cracking out cars.  Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels had a hit record too, “CC Rider/Jenny Take a Ride.”

You could hear those songs on Keener 13 or the Big 8, CKLW “The Motor City.” Even though the station was across the border, in Windsor, its 50,000 watt, clear-channel signal meant you could hear it from Maine to the Great Plains, from Hudson’s Bay to Key West.  People from California with powerful radios sets could pull it in. It was the fourth rated station in Cleveland, just on the other side of Lake Erie. It came to be known as the “Summer of Love.”

Except it wasn’t.  Two years earlier, some eight months after Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Watts section of Los Angeles broke out in riots.  Then Harlem, Cleveland, Chicago, Wichita, San Francisco and Oakland.  But they said it “couldn’t happen here.” Well, it did.

Police raided a Blind Pig, celebrating the coming home of a family member from Vietnam.  Several people were arrested. Then someone threw a Molotov cocktail and a kid threw a brick. Then, by daybreak on that Sunday morning, crowds began gathering.  At the beginning, “there was equal opportunity rioting,”  remembered the late Neal Shine. The Tigers, in the heat of the last true pennant race, played a doubleheader against the Yankees. One of the New York writers, looking out beyond left field, remarked “your city is burning down.” After the games were complete, the legendary radio announcer for the Tigers, Ernie Harwell, was given a police escort down Michigan Avenue to the Dearborn border and a cop told him “the city’s in bad shape.”

That, it turned out, was an understatement. Five days later, forty-three people were dead (actually, 44, a National Guardsman was killed when his commander mistook him for a sniper, but was never recorded), property destroyed, lives ruined, a city changed forever.  My grandparents came to stay with us in our small house on MacArthur, “only for a while.”

Nothing would ever be the same, it never is after something like that happens.  I have no idea what happened to the people who were arrested following the riots but I know the story. The Tigers were supposed to host the Orioles the next three games. They didn’t. The series was shifted to – Baltimore.

What happened in Baltimore over the last two weeks is still under investigation. No one can answer how Freddie Gray went into a police car, arrested for seemingly nothing except being black, came out of the police car paralyzed and died a week later. No one knows what sparked the rioting that has turned the city into 1967 Detroit all over again.  But, then again, we do know.

If you are a black man, you are marked.  Marked and doomed.  Unless you are very lucky.  In the 1990’s it was revealed that crack cocaine was designed to eradicate black men from America.  If you are black, you have probably spent time in court, jail or prison.  I am no fan of Fox News, but Shepard Smith told it better than anyone on Monday:

“I also don’t know where we are. We’ve got a major American city that has decades of turmoil within this neighborhood,” Smith said. “Decades! You’ve heard the stories from Doug McKelway a little while ago of people being arrested for nothing, a violent crackdown for years and years, of them feeling powerless and hopeless and nobody listening to what they were saying. One quarter of the youth locked up. Clearly there is a big problem. Then all of a sudden an African-American man is taken into a vehicle and he comes out of it and dies. And you get nothing from authorities except a suspension. And those who would do harm take an opportunity to do harm. And here we are. But it is what has happened between all of that and today that has led to this. There is no escaping that reality.”

White America has always seen colors.  Of course, the voices from the canaries, like Donny Trump, millionaire, and Bill-O-the-Clown weighed in, attacking President Obama for not doing enough.  Trump, who’s “thinking about running” for President (for the thousandth time), said “Our African-American President should go to Baltimore.”

The President didn’t go to Baltimore.  Instead, he did his best President Johnson (“Law and order have broken down in Detroit, Michigan. Rioting and looting have nothing to do with Civil Rights.”) calling the rioters and looters “thugs.” Which, to some, is the new epithet for the N-word. But it goes much deeper than that. A young girl put it bluntly, via NBC:

“I really feel like nobody cares about us, nobody cares about me,” the 10th-grader said in between tears at Empowerment Temple AME Church. “It’s so hard to get through school…I want to make my mother and grandmother proud of me.”

You know what missing? Her father.  Yes, a black man, who probably is in a Maryland prison, or in a prison somewhere.  This is what gets to the crux of the matter. After the 1967 riots, black men were taken in to training and each was given an alarm clock. They had no idea how to use it.  A civic organization called Focus: Hope, was formed to bring both blacks and whites together and provide job training for low-income Detroiters.  It is still around, nearly 50 years later. But people’s memories are still long and the city still divided. A city, that, in 1960, was 85% white and a population of nearly 1.8 million is now a shell of its former self: 83% African-American and maybe 700,000 living within its 125 square miles.

Baltimore, a medium sized city in a much more concentrated area, faces an uncertain future, as do many other American cities.  The aftermath of what happened will be talked about and debated, yet life goes on in the neighborhoods where nothing ever really changes. The TV trucks will eventually go away, the programs designed to help the people who need it will fall woefully short and another generation will lose out to racism and hate, distrust and disillusion, drugs, arrests and death. There will be a Focus: Hope-like organization in Baltimore to spring up to try and help those who need it. Some will succeed, others won’t.

It sucks. When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there was talk that America was “post-racial.” And then, of course, it never happened. People started calling him names and saying how he wasn’t American, wasn’t born here, was a secret Muslim, that he was rounding up all the young people to “re-educate” them. The “Tea-party” started.  People started wearing Gadsen shirts and buying flags saying “don’t tread on me,” without knowing the history behind it. They started pulling out obscure names from the past, like Bill Ayres and Saul Alinsky – “Who the fuck is Saul Alinsky?” Bill Maher asked.

Today, a baseball game will be played in Baltimore. With no people in the stadium.  An old college professor of mine, Walt Schneider, once predicted this would happen.  Thirty-three years ago.  The Orioles will then play Tampa starting Thursday.  In Tampa, as the home team. Camden Yards is usually sold out, while The Rays fail to get 15,000 fans a night.  Surreal is too mild a word to use at this point.

My grandparents never moved back to their house. Six weeks after the riots, my parents and I took a ride to Jamestown, North Dakota, where I would spend the majority of the next seven years of my life.  Far away from home. My parents got divorced before my first year was over.  My dad moved to Canada and got remarried. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. Richard Nixon, history’s yard waste, got elected President.  My grandmother got sick and died in 1968. The Tigers lost the 1967 pennant on the last day of the season, but in 1968, they won the World Series, providing the city with a fleeting hope that maybe things would get better. Jerry Green, the great Detroit News sports columnist, said to then-owner John Fetzer, following the Tigers improbable come-from-behind victory over St. Louis, “You might just have saved the city.” They didn’t.

Things change, yet nothing changes.  Just the names and faces.  A blind pig, an arrest of a man for seemingly nothing. A rock is thrown, police over-react, people over-react.  Wash, rinse, repeat. Nothing is ever learned.


Between a tax and a pothole

April 8, 2015

In less than a month, we in Michigan will be voting on a “proposal” to increase the sales tax by one percent to pay for our crumbling infrastructure.  I used the term parenthetically because Governor Snyder and the “lame-duck” Legislature couldn’t (or rather, wouldn’t) agree on a way to fix the roads so they punted and left it up to the voters to decide.

For the love of Jim Arnold, they screamed “Mayday!!!” So, on May 5th, much like the botched fake punt the Lions tried against the Saints all those years ago, Snyder and his tea-soaked, gerrymandered-to-the-teeth, beholden-to-the Big Three* and the 59-year-old-virgin, this proposal will be voted down.

“There is no Plan B,” Snyder has said.  Michigan has the worst roads in the Nation.  The state spends roughly $125 per mile on road repair, according to the Detroit Free Press. The latest poll numbers show it going down to defeat that would send a clear message to Lansing to stop signing pledges and kowtowing to the DeVos, Meijer and Dow families (aka the Big Three*) and start working for the people who voted you in (and even those who didn’t).

We have seen this bait and switch before.  In 1994, another Republican Governor got re-elected and we raised the sales tax two percent to pay for schools and road repairs.  In the 21 years since that happened, funding for public education has been cut to where many school districts use year-round substitute teachers to get around paying teachers a full-time wage.  That, plus the rise of homeschooling and Charter schools, have contributed to the loss of revenue.

Roads are a different matter altogether.  They are dangerous and in need of repair. There are several ways the state could do that without putting the burden on taxpayers. They could reinstate the property tax, which was frozen in a trade-off in ’94. The state’s Congressional delegation could (and should) ask for the Federal Government to approve parts of I-94, I-96 or I-75 for toll-road designation, which would raise money strictly for road repairs, just like in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. But they won’t. Michigan is near the bottom when it comes to tax dollars returned from Washington, so why should they start now?

There are so many other ways we could fix both the roads and schools without raising the sales tax.  The beer and alcohol tax hasn’t been raised in 50 years. Yes, you read that right. Fifty years. 1965. Sean Connery was (and always shall be) James Bond, the Beatles were the biggest band in the world, the Big Three were GM, Ford and Chrysler.  George Romney was the governor. Detroit was the 4th largest city in the country. Hudson’s was still downtown. Northland, due to close on Friday, was attracting visitors from all around the world. The Lions were, well, lets not go there. But you get my point.

Also, the tax on Tobacco and cigarettes hasn’t been touched for a while. And people will buy them no matter what the cost, so why not raise the tax on them.  All of these have been discussed, along with lowering the weight limit on long haul trucks, but nothing ever gets done.  Except screwing the poor, disabled, elderly and children.  I seem to think it’s time we in Michigan changed that.

I thought about voting yes on the proposal, because our wrong-headed Attorney General (who wants to be Governor in 2018) Bill Schuette, came out against it.  Well, for a while, I took the Groucho Marx stance and said “whatever he stands for, I’m against it,” but I sent in my absentee ballot marked “no.”

So, that’s where I stand on this.

Robbery with insolence

March 23, 2015

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax, Dr. Seuss.

I read that line this morning. In a different context, of course, but it does seem to fit the narrative of my life.

Oh for the day when the bullshit stops. For the day when getting older doesn’t mean another day surrounded by well-meaning, emotionally bankrupt nobodies who keep pumping bullshit like the local drunk at the end of the bar.

I have put up with shit for too long from people who say one thing, do another and then have a litany of excuses and the “check is in the mail,” lines at the ready.  I’m sorry to have intruded on your lives, people, but you asked me to have faith and that everything would work out in the end.

What “end” are you talking about? The one where I move 700 miles to get cheated out of a house? Ending up homeless and bankrupt in the process? The one where I get the “best friend and soul mate” line for the 200th time and then I get stuck with a ton of nothing? And how people backstab me and think I accept living my life with a broken heart? How about all those times people told me “I matter” to them, when, in truth, I’m just a conduit to getting better seats at the ballgame, or an attorney or some way to figure out of a mess that they won’t listen to in the first place.  I’m sorry, I’m not here to be used or abused like some runaway teenager.  Or some freak of nature in a wheelchair who happens to know how to put together a coherent thought or sentence once and a while.

I am tired of being devalued, of being seen as of lesser value because of my condition.  I am tired of folks telling me things 1000 times over, but nothing ever coming of it.  I am tired of being screwed with and left to deal with it. On my own. Whenever I have to clean up messes, I have to jump through so many hoops, it’s not funny. I am no one’s “best friend and soul mate,” nor do I matter to 95% of you. The number of people I matter to I can count on one fucking hand, maybe half of the other. I have spent most of my life longing for things that I will never attain and I never had a chance to in the first place.  If that makes me bitter, so be it.  I have every right to be.

You think you know me? You don’t. Nobody knows anyone.

I’m not looking for sympathy. Or validation.  Or anything else, for that matter.  I need to vent, rant, say what’s on my mind, that’s all.  And yes, this is aimed at certain people, but I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think.

“Well my door was standing open,
security was laid-back and lax.
It was only my heart that got broken,
you must of had a pass-key made out of wax.

You played robbery with insolence
and I played the blues
in twelve bars down on Lovers Lane.
And you never had the intelligence
to us the 12 keys hanging off of my chain.”

“Your Latest Trick” Dire Straits, 1986.


For a Friend

January 30, 2015

It is the middle of winter. Near midnight, the TV is on with the sound off.  In my younger days, I would be watching Carson or a movie, but now, fifteen years, 29 days into the 21st Century, my phone starts buzzing with emails and I have to open up my computer to respond.

Within a few minutes, I am aware that someone has died suddenly.  Then I find out who. A friend of mine’s husband. Good man. Cause unknown as I write this.

Death comes at its’ own pace. It is not like a birth, when it is celebrated and anticipated. It comes quickly in the form of a heart attack or stroke or Sepsis (“like an atomic bomb going off inside you,” a friend of mine told me after his wife died from it). Sometimes, it can be violent, like an accident or crime.  Other times, it comes slowly, like with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or its’ devilish cousin, dementia.  Cancer can come and go as it pleases, but death is always the end result.  We’re all going to die of something, we just don’t know when.

This was not an old man, this man was middle aged, good-looking-with a full head of hair and a great smile.  He will never get to see his son graduate from Notre Dame in May, never get to see him get married or know his grandchilden. Never get to see his step-son, who regarded him as his dad, become a fireman or paramedic.  He will never get to grow old gracefully with his wife, whom he loved more than anything or anyone in the world.

He saved his wife, saved her at just the right time as she was coming out of a nasty divorce and abusive marriage.  He was her knight in shinning armor, protecting her from the onslaught of words and court battles, always at her side.  I only met him once, but he seemed very much at home, knowing who he was and his place in the order of things.  I knew his wife a lot better, like forever.  We went to school together, survived the 80’s, drifted apart in the 90’s and found each other again through the “magic” of the internet and Zuckerbreg’s revenge site, Facebook.  It doesn’t seem fair that only the good people die before the assholes, but it does tend to be that way.

I have heard from people who saw my post on Facebook and emailed or called me to find out what I knew.  Everytime I would try to break away from my desk or phone, there’d be another call, email or text asking me what I knew. Which at the end of the day, wasn’t much, but I gave them enough.

Now, he is on the “other” side. It is said that death brings people closer.  I think it some cases, it does.  But most times, it leaves a void. A void that can never be filled.  It has been a busy day, for sure, but at the end of a crazy day, we must remember that we are on this planet for a short time and death reminds us, the living, to keep on living the best we can with what we have.

This man saved a life. My friend’s life. She will live in that void, go through the five stages and hopefully find some peace with it. All her friends like me can do is be there for her when she yells “help.”

We are all human. Everyone of us will complete the circle of life. We are all mortal (except for Keith Richards) and some of us will die suddenly, some will die gradually, others will be a slow, slow sunset into that good night.

“And when I die, when I’m gone,
They’ll be one child born to carry on,
to carry on, yeah.”


Looking forward

January 4, 2015

10388114_10152482262494104_8607043811254702557_n2014, the year I did a lot without leaving home. And good riddance.

I did go to Canada twice to see my dad, who’s now entering year five of nursing home care.  He will be 80 on the 21st.  I did get up to Marysville, Michigan for a Christmas celebration with my family and got to see my seven-great-niece’s and nephew’s.  I made it to three Tiger games and a Lions game.  I brought a new hearing aid. Watched the World Cup.

I changed my email.  I got into meaningless fights with people whom I should know better than to not engage with.  I reconnected with people I hadn’t seen since high school. I un-connected from many with whom I never mattered.  I went another year without a relationship – which is fine by me.

I spent the better part of the first two months of the year trapped inside my own house because of the coldest winter I have ever experienced.  Even spending seven years at boarding school in North Dakota, I don’t recall a winter so brutal as last year’s.  I survived, barely.

People continue to surprise me, disappoint me and every other emotion you can think of in between.  I tried to help people and I got maligned for it.  I gave money to charity, helped out where I could. Provided people with information, got no thanks or acknowledgement.

It was a year where I was lied to, mocked and laughed at.  I changed my email,  tried to steer clear of toxic people and their crap.  I railed against the system, to no avail. Tell me, anyone who reads this, what is being done in my name?

I am still alone. I miss my friends, I miss my family.  I miss having the daily contact I had with people, not so long ago.  I miss going to movies, I miss seeing my favorite waitress.

But that was last year.  This year, I am looking forward to many interesting things and good stuff happening for me.  I have dumped Comcast.  And my land-line phone.  I will resume playing table tennis after a self-imposed year off.  I will go to a tournament.

I will try and get to see my dad more than twice.

I appreciate my life and my good health and know that in can change in a New York Minute.

I will try and eat better.

I will still be cynical, yet hopeful.

I will continue to tell my story.

I will hopefully be here in a year to continue to write, entertain and inform.

The Audacity of No

November 21, 2014

The last five years, 10 months and one day, in a nutshell. From my friend, low-life attorney, high priced bookie (or maybe the other way around) Jeff Friedman.  It totally encapsulates the visceral disrespect and hatred of President Obama. Because, well, they can’t really put a finger on it, but it has something to do with the melanin in his skin tone.

“You could see violence,” [Sen. Tom] Coburn continued. “This is a big step, to not work with Congress, now that he’s got a new Congress, to go completely around it.”
Really? Is it a bigger step for a president to not work with Congress than it has been for 53 Senators and roughly 235 Representatives to refuse to work with the President of the United States for the last six years?
Forget about everything else: Just the unmitigated gall of Republican Congressmen, in and of itself, should disqualify them from being taken seriously by anyone with an IQ that’s visible to the naked eye.
Is the party of voter suppression, the unprecedented misuse of the filibuster, and nonstop lying to the public actually accusing someone else of “lawlessness”?
I haven’t been able to watch MSNBC or follow politics at all since November 4th. I don’t know what has sickened me more: the dishonesty of the GOP or the gutlessness and wishy washiness of Democrats.
But I can’t stay silent any longer. Those pea-brained Morlocks are now suggesting that the President of the United States should be subject to a jail sentence for the heinous offense of refusing to break up families by deporting innocent people who have made incalculable contributions to our society??
Speaking of jail, what’s going on with the investigations of Chris Christy, “Yosemite Rick” Perry, Nikki Haley, and the worst of the worst: Scott Walker?
Each and every one of them is a REAL criminal and should be subject to extended periods of incarceration for having committed numerous crimes against the people of their respective states.
But no one ever talks about those felons in waiting. However, the “pro-family values” party is now arguing that the President of the United States should be prosecuted for trying his best to keep millions of innocent families together???
So how do brave, courageous Democrats respond? They decline to bring the President’s Attorney General nominee to the floor for a confirmation vote before the Goons take Congress and instead spend their time and energy on trying to pass the Keystone Pipeline because of a misguided fantasy that passage might help Mary Landrieu retain her senate seat, which it won’t.
Keystone Pipeline? They should call it the Keystone Pipe Dream.
Besides, the latest projections have Sen. Landrieu losing to her Republican opponent by 21 points, and, hell, even Captain Kirk knew that Landrieu was a “projection.”

THE most important thing that ANY president does is his or her appointments of judges and justices. Certainly, the last 14 years have eliminated any possible remaining doubt that judges do whatever the hell they want; the law is whatever they say it is. You can predict the outcome of 90% of appellate lawsuits by merely knowing who the judges are.
The best example was provided by Vince Bugliosi in “The Betrayal of America”:
How many of you believe that the five right wing Supreme Court justices would have stepped in and halted the Florida recount and used the Equal Protection Clause as their theoretical basis to permanently end the recount if Al Gore had been slightly ahead of W. at the time?
I bring this up because, when January rolls around, the new Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be Chuck Grassley, one of the most virulent opponents of the appointments of moderate, much less liberal, judges and justices of any of the crop of senators who are set to take control of the upper chamber in less than two months.
Grassley is SO extreme that he was actively urging other senators to ELIMINATE three open seats from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just so Obama wouldn’t be able to fulfill his constitutional duty of replacing the previous occupiers of those seats.
{To show how malicious, as well as stupid, Grassley is, if he would have gotten his way and eliminated the three vacant seats, the number of judges on that court would have been reduced from 11 to eight, and, last I looked, an even number of judges is somewhat more likely to wind up evenly divided and, therefore, unable to reach a decision by majority vote than an odd number of judges is.]
But Republicans don’t care about trifling details like that just like they have consistently refused to: (1) extend ANY unemployment insurance benefits; (2) raise ANY taxes on the Top 1%; (3) enact ANY increase in the minimum wage; (4) agree to ANY half way reasonable immigration reform bill; (5) pass ANY reasonable gun safety legislation, etc., they have made it clear that they will oppose ANY person that Obama nominates to a judgeship (unless the nominee’s philosophy is somewhere between Clarence the Silent and the late Robert Bork.
Bottom Line: You better get busy, Harry Reid, because, come January, this president will be unable to appoint a single judge or justice to the federal courts.
You see, everyone who has adopted the theory that the entire mess we’re living through is the result of right wing hatred of Barack Obama is grossly mistaken.


What is it all about then?
It’s about dishonest, Machiavellian Republicans deciding some time ago that they are going to force this country to be transformed into a far right wish list comprised exclusively of right wing laws administered by right wing appointees.
So when a Democrat is president, Republicans will block everything he or she tries to do that even smacks of moderation, much less liberalism.
Conversely, when a Republican next occupies the White House (and for anyone who doubts that this scenario is a possibility, I have two words for you: Joni Ernst), the game plan will NOT be to enact conservative legislation and appoint conservative judges to the federal bench. It will be to enact extreme right wing legislation and appoint extreme right wing judges and justices.
In other words, exactly what George W. Bush did.
The Founding Father devised a brilliant scheme by which, no matter how extreme one party was when it controlled our government, their fanaticism would be neutralized when the other party took over.
But that concept doesn’t work when Party A obstructs everything that Party B tries to do when it is in power so that, when Party A regains power, they can pick up where they left off the last time they were in control so they can continue to move this country farther and farther to their side of the spectrum until “middle of the road” becomes regarded as “extremism” on the part of Party B.
With all due respect to the Founders, it is easy to understand why they never envisioned that the system their genius created would be as warped and distorted as it has steadily become since 1980.
They might have suspected that one party might some day become as power mad, as dishonest, and as capable of fooling an ignorant, disinterested, cerebraly challenged electorate as the GOP has become.
But they could never have imagined in their wildest nightmares that the opposing party would deteriorate into the spineless group of frightened rabbits that the Democrats have become?”

The prion disease that has infected the far-right since 1980 (really, since 1964) has run full boar since Barack Obama became President.  When you have an entire industry set out to destroy this man simply because they don’t like his name or his skin color or the fact that he won an election and then re-election in convincing fashion both times, and yet everything he has tried to do or accomplish on behalf of the American People has been blocked or filibustered or shot down just to ruin this country or make him look weak, bad or stupid (which he’s not, on any of those accounts), is simply outrageous.

The crazy has become so outrageous that the old bat herself, Phyllis Schlafly, came out of her shoe and said the President’s actions last night were akin to the start of the Civil War:

“Schlafly at first considered comparing the Obama amnesty to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but decided that Obama’s plan is much more subtle.  “With Pearl Harbor, the American people knew what was happening,” she said.

But Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired, represented the beginning of a ruinous conflict, and Schlafly, like fellow conservative luminary Richard Viguerie, speculates that an executive amnesty might touch off a sort of modern-day conflagration.”

This, is of course, beyond the pale, even for a 175-year-old Witch.  But when you have AM radio playing nothing but Rush, Beck, Hannity and the lessers like Michael Weiner and Dennis Miller, you have room for very little else in the tiny faction of grey matter that this well-organized opposition to this man that they hate, then all reason, logic and facts are unpossible.  Like the fact that this (executive action on immigration) was done by their personal lord and savior, Ronald Reagan, in 1986.  Or that the Affordable Care Act was written by Republicans, ran on by Bob Dole in 1996 and Willard Romney first used its template in Massachusetts in 2006, it’s still Obamacare and “socialism.” Which is bull and shit to the nth degree (and they know it).

To wrap this up, do I expect the new Congress to work with this President?  No. They are there for two things and two things only: To impeach and impede Hilary Clinton from winning in 2016.  From the looks of it, they are well on their way to achieving at least one of those goals.


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