Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sharon's great vision: Laying claim to the West Bank, Mecca and Cincinnati

I was just reading somewhere about the fifth pillar of Islam -- the obligation to go to Mecca; to go on the journey of Hajj. What in the world is a Hajj? Three million Muslims go on a Hajj every year. One billion Muslims dream about it. And here's me, totally clueless about what a Hajj is. So I went to the library to do some research.

I figured that if George Bush hates Muslims so badly, they must be doing SOMETHING right. Our George tends to pick the absolute worst policies humanly imaginable so if he doesn't like Islam, they must be on the right track about something....

"The Hajj is a pilgrimage," said my local librarian, a living, breathing version of Google. "Every year, 100 days after Ramadan, three million Muslims head toward Arabia. But the pilgrims don't just stop when they arrive at Mecca. First they perform their ritual obligations at the Ka'ba, a standing stone apparently built about the same time as Stonehenge. After that, they all climb on buses, go to Mina and camp in the desert...." Three million people in tents?

"After camping overnight in the desert, the pilgrims then journey to the Plain of Arafat, following the path taken by Mohammad." And Mohammad was following the path taken by Hagar and Abraham. Apparently, Hagar was a housewife in Mecca. And Abraham discussed childrearing techniques with an angel at Mina.

"Then what happens?"

"Then three million pilgrims all throw stones at Satan, have a feast and go home."

"So you are saying that Abraham and Hagar actually lived in Mecca?" If this is true, then it revolutionizes everything. Now Ariel Sharon has got first dibs on the real estate in Arabia too!

"Well, gee whiz," stated Mr. Sharon at a recent meeting of his Broad of Directors, "Abraham was in Mecca. The Bible said so. Therefore, Mecca is ours! Send for the developers. We're good to go." As project manager, Sharon's first task was to build a wall around Mina to keep the Palestinians out.

But Sharon still wasn't happy because he had just been reading about the Lost Tribe of Israel. And everybody knows that they moved off to America and became Cherokees -- or were they Apaches? I forget.

After Sharon got out his Bible and laid claim to Mecca and Mina -- throwing in Baghdad, Babylon, Mesopotamia and Egypt just to make sure -- he wanted to get it right and began making a checklist of all the places that Abraham might have made guest appearances. "Opps. I left out Cincinnati!"

What's my point? Ariel Sharon's Biblical claims to prime real estate can pretty much cover all the bases if he plays his cards right. Eventually I am sure he will figure out a way to claim Buenos Aires and Tokyo as well.

There's only one glitch that might possibly hold Sharon back. The Book of Genesis mentions the presence of an Arab tribe of Ghantanis -- so maybe the Arabs WERE in Palestine first.

PS: Ariel, would you PLEASE stop bullying the neighborhood, behave yourself and give Israel back to the Israelis so that us humble religious tourists -- Muslim, Christian and Jew -- can come back again and visit OUR Holy Land? Thanks. It would be appreciated.

From "Amy goes to Egypt": Then we went to an internet café and for ten pounds Egyptian money, I got to let everyone at home know that I was safe, having a good time and was the only one interested in an ugly camel.

December 16, 2001: 4 am. The messuin just made his call -- one hour later than in Ramadan. I guess the faithful are being allowed to sleep in. Amy is wheezing and blowing her nose and sucking on cough drops in the bed next to me. And reading The Hobbit. We have to get up at 6 am to go ride a camel to a Coptic monastery. "Maybe we should go back to sleep," said Amy. http://travelswithamy.blogspot.com/2004/04/amy-goes-to-egypt-december-3-2001-1379.html

Monday, March 28, 2005

In Pursuit of Happiness: Red Lake, drug company profits, Columbine, Jordan & Jimi Hendrix

The moment I heard about the tragic shooting in Minnesota the other day, my first question was, "What anti-depressant was that kid taking?" The moccasin telegraph supplied the answer immediately.

"The last time [Jeff Weise] saw a mental health professional at the Red Lake hospital was on Feb. 21, [his grandmother] said. She remembers the date because it was the same day he refilled his prescription for 60 milligrams a day of Prozac, which he had been taking since last summer." That's a hecka lot of Prozac!

But what else can we do when we see teenagers in trouble? What can we do to help teenagers like Jeff Weise -- who appear to be extremely troubled? Or even to help more normal teens like my daughter's friend Jordan? What are our options?

I got an e-mail yesterday from a concerned mother I know. "My son is having trouble in school," she told me. "Do you think I should send him to a military academy or a behavior modification program?" Or put him on Ritalin or Prozac or house arrest? Or just lock him in the closet....

Last week at a park located in a "safe neighborhood" in my home town, a teenage girl walked up to an older woman, pulled out a knife and slashed the woman's throat. The girl had never seen the woman before in her life.

It's time to stop talking about what car we're going to buy next or what breath mint is better or whether George Bush is eligible for sainthood and start talking about the mental health of our children.

Let's talk about Columbine and Red Lake and Fallugah and all the other places where American teenagers have gone crazy. Let's talk about Duwayne down the block from me who is back in juevie for the tenth time for -- among other things -- drugs, rape and armed robbery. And he is not yet 16.

And while we're at it, let's also talk about the millions of ADULT Americans who are on anti-depressants such as Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa and Prozac.

Let's talk about the holy aura on the faces of the readers of the Left Behind series and the prescription bottles one inevitably finds in their medicine cabinets.

Why are all these people, living in a time and place that has more opulence than any other time and place in history, turning to violence and/or drugs?

Salt Lake City, Utah is the "Prozac Capital of the Nation". Their use of anti-depressants is three times greater than the rest of America. And their suicide rate is three times greater too.

I only make $15,500 a year and I have a standard of living that would make Queen Elizabeth the First or Julius Caesar turn green with envy.

In America, even the homeless on the street can get silk blouses out of the free box that, in historical times, would have made the Queen of Sheba or Emperor of China positively DROOL.

Yet we have more people on drugs, in prison and desperately unhappy than any country this side of Afghanistan.

Young Jordan's parents make 100K a year -- and they have home equity! Yet Jordan was shipped off to a behavior modification school in the wilds of Montana because his parents claimed that he was "unhappy". And, before that, they tried to get Jordan to take Effexor and Paxil. Jordan obstinately refused but his brother Nathan took them. Did this result in a happy childhood for Nathan? What do YOU think?

Young Eric Harris, one of the shooters at Columbine, was also taking anti-depressants. "Eric was forced onto these drugs," stated Mark Taylor, one of his victims, "and I feel sorry for him, like so many other kids who are put on these drugs. I don't have ill feelings against him since I don't think you can hold him accountable, because he didn't know what he was doing."

Young Jeff and young Eric were crying out for help before they shot up their school yards. Young Christoper Pittman was put on anti-depressants that were too strong for him and now he is spending the rest of his life in jail for murder.

With Bush sending all our money to his friends in high places, our children's schools, recreation centers and libraries are closing. These are the resources we used to rely on to help us when our kids got in trouble. Now we have to look for answers elsewhere. The rich solve their children's' problems by sending them "away". The rest of us just sit our kids down in front of the TV. Right-to-life types read Reverend Dobson and get out the paddle. But is anything working?

Actually, yes.

There are a lot of American kids who are turning out okay. And every single one of these Super-Children have the same things in common -- they are given respect, trust and responsibility at an early age. They are not spanked. They are not spoiled. By their parents' example, they are taught compassion and fairness and justice from an early age. They are given access to the finest teachers and education. They are not put on drugs at the earliest sign of creativity. And they are protected and loved.

Forget about spending our money on buying "empire" for the rich folks. Forget about buying all the stuff we see on TV. Happiness -- for ourselves and our children -- comes from Doing Meaningful Stuff. Everything else is a waste. The SUV in your driveway is a waste. The jockeying for position by the vultures in the halls of our Congress is a waste. Anti-depressants are a waste. Iraq is a waste. These things have obviously not made us -- or our children -- happy.

Instead, let's spend our money on Yellowstone National Park, Parkside School and seeking the ideals of people like Rosa Parks.

If we are going to spend our money creating "Million Dollar Babies," let's make sure that the millions we spend no longer go to arms manufacturers and drug companies.

And, speaking of drug company rip-offs, when it comes to vaccinating our babies, less is more. "But if we didn't vaccinate our children, they would die!" you may say. Sure, four or five vaccines are a good thing but giving 20 or 30 shots to a baby under the age of two? That's overkill.

Tattoo this on your arm, guys. "CORPORATIONS DO NOT HAVE AMERICA'S BEST INTERESTS AT HEART." Maybe that will get you to start thinking about what will make us happy.

So. I've covered just about every other subject under the sun. But what about Jimi Hendrix?

Jimi is my hero. Why? Because he had a terrible childhood -- yet managed to transform his anguish into creativity. Plus somebody just told me that the place I live in was built on the exact spot where Jimi lived when he was two years old. How cool is that? Me and Jimi Hendrix! I should go put a plaque in front of my house.

From "Amy goes to Egypt": Then we boarded the plane to Cairo and it was only 12 midnight -- we had 11 hours left to go! Amy was holding up really well. Even I was. Did I mention that the American Airlines stewardess on the flight to New York went to South San Francisco High School? Just up the road from my high school? South City boys were cute and sexy and dangerous. Sort of the 1950s equivalent of Eminem.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

We're on Bush's hit list now: "But how will that help America?" It won't.

My friend the election fraud expert was on a roll again. "Contrary to popular belief, voting machine manufacturers do NOT make tons of money selling their products," he told me. "Voting machines are only used once a year and they last forever. There is no planned obsolescence. It is not an expanding market. There are 3351 counties in the US and each county only needs a few machines per precinct. The market is quickly saturated. Sequoia wants to get out of the business because it is unprofitable." So. Why don't Diebold and ES&S want to get out also?

"Because they are making their money elsewhere." Election rigging? Hummm....

"The tragedy of election rigging," my friend continued, "is that Bush no longer has to appeal to his constituency. If he KNOWS that he will get elected no matter what he does, then he can follow his own agenda." That sounds about right. Even though Bush always campaigns on a very nasty bring-out-the-worst-in-people anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Gospel platform, he hasn't even followed through on those campaign promises.

So. What IS George Bush's hidden agenda? Pay attention here. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

In his book entitled "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," John Perkins talked about America's foreign policies after World War II. The blurb on the dust jacket read, "[Perkins's] job was to convince countries that are strategically important to...accept enormous loans for infrastructure development, and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to U.S. corporations. Saddled with huge debts, these countries came under the control of the United States government, World Bank and other U.S.-dominated aid agencies that acted like loan sharks -- dictating repayment terms and bullying foreign governments into submission."

Got the picture? For third-world countries such Nigeria, Indonesia, Ecuador and Panama, it was like having the Mafia loan them money that they neither wanted nor needed -- but if they didn't take the money, bankrupt themselves trying to pay it back and grovel and be a servant, the Godfather knee-capped them.

Perkins was talking with a group of Indonesian students in Jakarta in 1971. One student commented, "Doesn't your government look at Indonesia and other countries as though we are just a bunch of..." She searched for the word.

"Grapes," one of her friends coached.

"Exactly. A bunch of grapes. You can pick and choose. Keep England. Eat China. And throw away Indonesia."

After reading this book, I realized that the one major difference between the Eisenhower-Johnson-Carter-Nixon-Reagan-Clinton era and the current Bush era is this: Before Bush, America was the one eating the grapes. Since Bush, America has BECOME one of the grapes.

To George Bush and his backers, America is just one more grape -- to be eaten or thrown away. Just look at the pattern here: They have forced us to borrow money we don't need (NOBODY in America needed that stupid war on Iraq); we handed all that money over to folks like Bechtel and Halliburton and Brown & Root -- and then we got knee-capped.

"You mean that instead of America benefiting from being the boss of other countries, we are now down at the bottom of the ladder like some banana republic -- totally in debt and being forced to kiss the [bottoms] of large corporations, the 'globalization' mafia and the World Bank?" asked my daughter who is taking an economics class in high school and is forced to think about these sort of things.


"But how will that help America?"

"It won't."

Monday, March 21, 2005

George and Tom appear to have less brain-power than Terri has...

Explain to me again why George and Tom aren't offering to personally pay for Terri's hosptial bills? But money isn't everything. So explain to me why George and Tom aren't down in Florida kindly changing Terri's diapers? Okay so compassion isn't everything. So explain to me why George and Tom haven't sent Terri off to Iraq? Okay so killing people is a selective thing. So explain to me why George and Tom are running our government and Terri isn't? As far as I can tell, ALL THREE appear to be brain-dead.


Friday, March 18, 2005

No child left behind: George Bush guest stars on Sesame Street

I was invited to a friend's house for dinner the other day (pork roast, tossed salad, baked potatoes and lemonade!) and over dessert (marble cake and vanilla ice cream!!!), I started talking with a woman who taught kindergarten. "The teachers at our school are now REQUIRED to teach a unit entitled 'Patriotism' to their five-year-old students," she told me bitterly, "and the book we are required to use has nothing to do with patriotism. It is nothing more than a shamelessly blatant commercial for George W. Bush."

Since when did our George become so afraid of his ratings in the polls that he has to stoop to propagandizing kindergarteners? Is the Bush cartel that desperate? What will they do next? Start brainwashing toddlers?

I can see it all now -- George Bush guest stars on Sesame Street! "Which character do you think he would play?" asked my friend Jan.

"Bush wouldn't play any of the characters," I replied. "He would just boss everybody around, steal Ernie's rubber ducky, kick Oscar the Grouch out of his garbage can, take away PBS's educational funding, teach Maria how to torture prisoners, deport Luis and Zoe, introduce Gordon to the wonders of election fraud, expose the Cookie Monster to mercury poisoning, take away Susan's voting rights, send Burt off to Iraq without body armor, jail the Snuffaluffagus for being a threat to national security, take Big Bird off the endangered species list, try to hook Kermit the Frog up with Jeff Gannon and napalm Elmo."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Final Frontier: A tourist in the Land of the Old

I have a friend who, through no choice of his own, has become really truly OLD. "What's it like?" I asked him.

"I feel like a tourist," he replied. "I should write up my experiences and get Lonely Planet to publish my book."

People are always in search of hot new adventure travel destinations -- so how about coming up with a travel guide to somewhere none of us have ever been before: The Land of the Old.

And you thought ANTARCTICA was the latest hip travel spot!

Face it, guys. I'm 62 years old. I already have my visa ready and my passport stamped. Now my question is this: "How can I make this trip truly memorable, what will I see when I get there and how can I go first class?"

My friend offered some hot tips on accommodations. "If your package-tour nursing home isn't five-star and the going gets rough, just take a break from your exhausting pace and spend some time at the local Museum of Dreams. For your convenience, this museum is open all night."

Another high point in my friend's guidebook was his section on exciting things to do. "One really exciting -- even dangerous -- thing to do is to fight to get America's rights back. Forget about your walker and your back pain. Throw your heart and soul into the adventure of trying to save the soul of American democracy!

My friend is a member of 'the Greatest Generation' and he knows what things SHOULD be like. "The Great Depression? World War II? The McCarthy era? Been there. Done that. Younger Americans are blithely saying goodbye to their Constitutional rights without a backward glance but not me. I fought for them! I KNOW what they are worth. And I will spend every second of my old age fighting to get them back!"

"But what happened to the rest of the so-called Greatest Generation," I asked my friend. "Their Social Security, pensions, freedom of speech, elections and religion are being stolen by the crooks in the White House and they do nothing. Why aren't they too out fighting back?"

"I guess they don't realize that old age is a time for adventure -- and fun. The privilege of fighting injustice is the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and the Manchu Picchu of touring the Land of Old Age! Visit there IMMEDIATELY. Give it first priority on your itinerary. Stop being an armchair traveler. Get out there! And start your journey by picketing the White House."

I got a confession to make. I've ALREADY been to the land of the old. It was back in 1973. A doctor hypnotized me. First she took me back in time to when I was a baby and then back to when I was a little kid. "If you can take me back in time," I told her, "surely you can take me forward in time too."

"No can do."

"But would you try?" Okay.

It was easy. Suddenly there I was -- at age 88. Only there were two of me. Door number one led to the image of me as a fat silly old woman living on cat food and junk (obviously George Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security -- but I digress).

Behind door number two was my other possible self and I was Enlightened -- a spiritual being with all the whistles and bells. "What can I do to become the one and not the other?" I asked myself. With 9,239 days left to go before my 88th birthday, I still have time to figure it out. But a tourist's guide to old age would still be a help. Somehow I think that Medi-Care and face lifts are not going to be enough.

As far as I can see, the whole purpose of growing old is to be able to claim to be wise. That means that the currency most readily accepted in the country of Old Age appears not to be dollars but good deeds, tolerance and love.

So. How do we become wise? The choices that we make each day get us there. Every day we make hundreds of choices and we just have to watch each choice we make -- door number one or door number two.

Billions of people on this planet are packing their bags, buying their tickets and getting ready to travel to the Land of Old Age. "You've been there," I told my older friend. "Please write us a guidebook." If I am going to be a geezer, I want to make sure that I see all the sights.

And if my friend's book sells well, then maybe Lonely Planet will publish a sequel, "Touring the Land of the Dying". Or -- God and defibrillators willing -- there is always the possibility of a third book, "A Tourist Returns from the Dead". Hopefully, with these tourist guides in our backpacks, old age will become an interesting destination and none of us will have to fritter away the last part of our lives lost in a place where we can't even speak the language.

PS: Christians believe that if you lead a wholesome and charitable life, avoid committing election fraud and refrain from bombing civilians, you will go to Heaven when you die. Tibetan Buddhists also believe in an afterlife. They believe that when you die after having led a kind and generous life, your spirit will leave your body through the top of your head. Buddhist adepts prepare for death by temporarily sending their spirits up and out through the top of their heads -- but woe to those who forget to bring it back in again. "Do not try this at home."

What happens to bad guys -- such as those greedy SOBs in Washington who gleefully steal little old ladies' Social Security money -- when they die? Just the opposite. Their spirits are forced to leave out through their bottoms (and apparently make a farting sound as they go. Eeeeuuuu.)

From "Amy Goes to Probate Court" (Long Version): At 10:45 pm, I got another call from the hospital. "Come immediately," said the nurse. Elizabeth, Amy, Jason and I rushed there -- driving frantically into the night, racing down the hospital corridors -- but it was too late. My father had passed away just seconds before we arrived. I held his limp, precious hand. It was as warm as mine. We all cried.

Elizabeth bent over Pop and kissed his head. "Goodbye, Grandpa. I love you." She and Jason left and then it was time for Amy and me to say goodbye. We held his hands in silent vigil until it finally became obvious to both of us that the glorious spirit that was my father had gone away to another place and only a cold, unanimated lump of nothing human was left. I placed my ring on this cold body's finger, kissed it, wrote "Oh, Pop. What are we ever going to do without you?" on his left ankle, wrote "Go with God," on his right ankle and drew a heart on his chest so that when he got to Heaven, God would know that he had been loved, kissed his forehead and left.

That night I received a great boon from my father: He taught me that the true essence of a man was not his body but his spirit. And that the spirit, the essence of a man, obviously lives on. It leaves its body at the moment of death, leaving behind little more than a log or a rock. I saw this with my own eyes and now I will never, ever fear death.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Brainwashing teenagers is easy. Just say "Jordan, your life is in danger."

I know a 15-year-old boy named "Jordan". He was just your normal American teenage kid but his parents didn't realize that his behavior was well within the range of normal -- and they hounded him until he ran off. But when, desperate and cold, he went back to his home and really really tried to live up to his parents' expectations of 24/7 perfection, they had him kidnapped in the middle of the night and dragged off to a "behavior modification" program somewhere in the wilds of Montana.

That was six long months ago, back when I was truly naive and didn't have a clue about what kind of program Jordan had been kidnapped of into -- or that such things even existed. "What the freak is a behavior modification program?" I said to myself. Then I started asking around. And I found out more about them than I ever wanted to know.

Even as we speak, tens of thousands of American teenagers are being held against their will in the various behavior modification "compounds" that you can find advertised on the web as "offering hope to struggling teens". As you browse their websites, you may notice that these operations all have one thing in common: They are always located out in the middle of nowhere, in places like Mexico, Jamaica, the Utah desert or the wilds of Montana; places where there is no governmental licensing, regulation or control.

Once children have been "disappeared" off into these programs, what happens to them? A strikingly similar pattern emerges. In every case, these children become isolated from everything they know and from everybody who might be able to help them keep a grip on reality as we know it. Once children reach these places, there is no way anyone can get in touch with them and they are held incommunicado for a period of approximately three to five months. No one -- not even their parents -- is allowed to communicate with these children during the first several months of these "programs'.

If any program EVER requests you to absolutely and completely sign off on your child in this manner, grab you child and RUN!

Want to know what happens to these children during this crucial three- to five-month period? Let's ask the ghost of Russian scientist Ivan Pavlovich Pavlov, the father of modern brainwashing. He will tell us about his experiments -- and how they used to apply only to dogs.

"So. Ivan. How did you develop this concept?"

"It was actually purely by accident," replied Pavlov Pavlovich. "There was a severe flooding in St. Petersburg one winter and I was not able to return to my laboratories for several days. When I finally got back there, many of my dogs had died and the rest of them were starving. Before this terrible tragedy happened, I had trained my dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. But after surviving this catastrophe, they had forgotten EVERYTHING I had taught them! Everything they had learned just flew out the window." How do you say window in Russian?

"After this unexpected event," continued Pavlov, "I learned not only that I could de-program any dog's brain but also that I could re-program it again with whatever I wanted. It was easy. All I had to do was place a dog in conditions where it became convinced it was in danger of dying and Voila! It would do whatever I wanted it to do. And what works so nicely on dogs also works well on humans. I've decided to call this process 'Brainwashing'. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

Thank you, Ivan. You have just handed me the key to understanding behavior modification programs. In the first three to five months of these programs, children that are held in them are being brainwashed!

I first got a hint that Pavlov's dog-washing process was being used on American teenagers when, during my research into the program where Jordan is being held at, I talked to an alumni of said program. "I loved it there," she told me, eyes still slightly glazed over. "I wish I could go back there...." At this point, her voice trailed off and she seemed uncertain for a few seconds...like she couldn't exactly remember her script...but then the light went back on in her brain and her programming kicked in again. "I would give my life for the headmaster. He would give his life for me," she recited. "He is the only person who can keep me safe...." Yeah, right.

Isn't this what happened in Guyana in the 1970s when 914 cult members drank cyanide Kool Aid because Jim Jones told them that was the only way they'd be safe? And wasn't Patty Hearst kidnapped, starved and kept in a closet until she too "saw the light"?

So. What kind of experiences do children have at these places that enables them to be "brainwashed"? The programs always follow the Pavlovian pattern. Like Pavlov's dogs, children are somehow convinced that they are going to die and that their life is truly in danger. Then some kind, loving, good-cop-type "Headmaster" suddenly shows up and offers to save them.

According to various eye-witness and survivor reports, at Casa by the Sea in Mexico, children were starved, whipped and kept in dog kennels. At the Bethany Girls' Academy in Mississippi, a disobedient adolescent girl's arm was broken. At Straight, Inc. in Florida, children were beaten, starved and raped. And at the Rocky Mountain Academy in Idaho, children were forced to dig their own graves, climb into coffins and be buried alive until they were scared enough to agree to be "complaint".

Other "programs" used forced labor camps -- like the one in the movie "Holes" -- to subdue children. One large beautiful chalet at a program in the mountains of Montana was constructed totally by "students" whose parents were paying $4,000 a month for the privilege of sending their children off to forced labor camps.

Recently, I saw a photo of Jordan. He was standing second to the right in a group photo taken for publicity purposes by Jordan's "program". The photo was displayed on their website. Most of the children in the photo looked glazed-eyed, complacent and "brainwashed". Jordan just looked angry, defiant and mad. But every child in the picture, whether they were looking angry or compliant, all had one thing in common. THEY ALL LOOKED LIKE LITTLE KIDS. Even Jordan. Whether they looked like good little kids or bad little kids -- they all looked like LITTLE KIDS. These children had all regressed back into earlier childhood; back to a time when someone else took care of them and they were "safe".

Jeez Louise. Does the "Headmaster" now help change their diapers?

Moving on to the next question. Now that we know what happens to children inside these programs, what becomes of them after they come out? What little research I was able to do on this subject produced some very surprising results. For one thing, the parents of these children are usually pleased and thrilled with the results. "My defiant teenager is now sweet and helpful. It is such a marvelous change. I feel like I've gotten my baby back again."

Guess what, Mom. You have.

Your children, when they emerge from these programs, will remain your "baby" for the rest of their lives. Better get their old bedroom ready again, guys. These "babies" are yours forever.

Forget your dream of raising another Einstein, Pop. Your children's mental growth potential has been stopped cold. They are really good about following orders but that's about it.

Take for example the case of the "graduate" I recently talked with. She had tried going to college when she first got out. That didn't work. Then she hooked up with this or that new boyfriend. That didn't work either. Then she tried living on her own. That was no good. Now she is 22 years old and back living at home with her parents. "But what I really want to do," she told me, "is go back to the program. Maybe they would let me work as a counselor there...." Sure. Go for it. You'd fit right in. You'd never have to think again. Plus you could help them dig the graves and build the coffins.

I wonder what will finally happen to Jordan. Will he somehow miraculously be able to resist or escape his behavior modification program's "brainwash"? Or will he simply return to the home of his parents and stay with them forever, happily remaining their unthinking clone?


Brainwashing the ADULTS of America: Pavlov's little trick has worked here as well. Our "Headmaster" in Washington has convinced Americans that their lives are in danger -- and that only HE can keep them safe! Result? Americans too have become unthinking clones. Good job, Pavlov!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Diebold is baaack: Is that why Arnie is so sure of winning his CA special election?

Every weekday morning, I reluctantly get out of my nice warm bed, do yoga, eat oatmeal, listen to KPFA and bicycle off to work. This morning, Bruce Cain was featured on KPFA's Morning Show. Cain, a spokesman for UC Berkeley's prestigious Institute of Government Studies, was talking about how our very own Governor Arnie was calling for new California special election.

"If Governor Schwarzenegger takes his issues to the voters, he will lose. Democrats and moderate Republicans are not behind him." Cain then suggested that perhaps Arnie might be relying on his Hollywood star power to win this election.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger himself has been confidently chirping to the press all this week. "I'm going to take my plan to the voters and I'm going to win!"

Is Arnie living in a dream world? WHY would California voters jump at the chance to pass his program? It's not in our interest. It is only in the Governator's "special interest". Arnold Schwarzenegger has consistently proved to California voters that he is yet another Republican carpetbagger -- out to sack California for the corporations. His vicious attacks on our poor sweet California nurses and his strident efforts to eliminate our lunch hours have made him VERY unpopular with all Californians who work, eat and/or need decent health care -- which pretty much includes all of us.

Despite the facts on the ground, however, Arnold appears to be dead certain that he will win any future California election.


Could it be that he too has friends at Diebold?

In 2004, it was so laughably obvious that George Bush jimmied the vote in Florida -- in some counties by a deviation of as much as 40.8 percent. "I have studied the Florida returns carefully," my friend the election expert told me last week, "and I have developed a fool-proof formula for estimating any Democrat or Republican ACCEPTABLE deviations from how voters might be expected to vote given the statistics of actual Florida voter registrations." His conclusion was that at least 312,861 votes were transferred from Democrats to Republicans using vote-shifting programs installed on Diebold and ES&S Op-Scan precinct ballot counters.

"Can you apply this same statistical analysis to the Gray Davis recall election?" I asked my friend.

"Sure. No problem -- if I can get a hold of the same raw data for California counties that Kathy Dopp used for the counties in Florida, it would be a snap." Boy do I eagerly await seeing those results.

Schwarzenegger seems just too cocky and sure that he will win any future California election -- and I recognize that look: George Bush was also too cocky and sure of himself before the November 2004 election -- like he knew something that we didn't.

Am I the only one who is starting to think that election fraud is baaack? And that Arnie, like so many other Republican politicians in the last decade, has also hooked into a good thing?

I wonder how much Diebold would charge to throw an election? Of whom does one ask such a question? I always wanted to be a Senator -- they get fabulous perks. Perhaps if I changed my voter registration to Repub (and stopped thinking like some dumb patriotic American), this could be my Big Chance too!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson: "Suicided" is now a verb

I keep getting all these e-mails in my inbox saying that Hunter S. Thompson didn't kill himself -- and frankly, there are a lot of unanswered questions here.

"He was talking to his wife over the phone when he did it. You don't just kill yourself in the middle of a conversation with your wife!" one e-mail read. Okay, but maybe he did it that way because he wanted her to feel bad about herself? But would Thompson actually do something like that? And what is all this stuff about his son being in the house and also firing a gun?

Right before he died, Thompson told a Globe & Mail reporter that he was afraid he was about to be "suicided". He said the same thing two years earlier on a local radio show. "We'll see what happens to me if I get my head cut off in the next week by -- it's always [inaudible] who commit suicide right afterward. No witnesses. They have a new kind of crime." How sad. That "suicided" is now a verb -- and a believable verb at that.

Our government has a policy written down somewhere that covert assassinations are a good thing. Just how far are they willing to take this?

But maybe Thompson did kill himself. After all, he did use a lot of drugs. Duh. Drugs will make you suicidal. Everybody knows that even Prozac or Paxil can have that effect. Only in modern-day America can we be having this conversation. What ever happened to the good old days when your grandmother got depressed from living 100 miles from nowhere on a farm in zero degree weather and no electric washer and hung herself? Now we gotta be driven to suicide by "mood elevating" drugs! (Carnahan, Wellstone and JFK Jr. didn't use drugs. They just happened to be on the wrong airplanes. And Giuliana Sgrena happened to be on her way to the wrong airport!)

Who else on the American landscape has been "suicided"? James Forestall? Probably. Marilyn Monroe? Probably not. Margie Schoedinger, the woman who accused George Bush of rape? Maybe. There is always that lingering doubt.... Then there was that reporter Gary Webb who was investigating drug-running connections involving the CIA -- the coroner claimed that he was so eager to kill himself that he shot himself in the head fatally TWICE -- but why would someone hot on the trail of a blockbuster story want to off himself?

And what about Jim Hatfield, the author of "Fortunate Son"? Or Colin McMillan?

Well, there's a quick and obvious way to find out if Hunter S. Thompson killed himself: An autopsy! Double-duh. Did Thompson have gunpowder on his hands? What angle did the bullet go in? Did they find the gun right near the body? What kind of bullet was used? Was the shell found? Was the crime scene conaminated? WAS there an autopsy? And why aren't we being told this stuff?

Conspiracy buffs, let's get ON this one. Why do you think that Thompson might have been offed? Was he about to expose a Washington DC porno ring? Was he going to come up with proof that Bush knew about 9-11?

And how come one of the few top-notch investigative reporters left in America -- besides Jim Hightower, Molly Ivins, Dahr Jamail, Amy Goodman, Paul Krugman, Seymour Hersh and Greg Palast -- is now dead? Hunter, you gotta come back from the grave, sniff around, find out what really happened and tell us the Truth!

PS: Someone just "suicided" this post on my blog!

PPS: I just want to reassure Ann Coulter, Jeff Gannon, Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch that they have nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Protecting American women: "Of course they will be much safer in a burka and veil!"

March, a month traditionally set aside for honoring women, is here again -- and the conservative right is once again talking about protecting our virtue. Does that mean it's time for me to start reaching for my burka and veil?

I can see it all now. The Bush team will start up one of their usual sleazy campaigns, working on America's hopes and fears. First Bush will give a moving speech about Democracy and Freedom. Then we will all be bombarded by television commercials-disguised-as-news. "The burka has become an instant fashion hit with American women! They love it. Teens at the mall are snapping it up. America's Next Top Models wear burkas on the catwalks. The burka has become high couture. Laura Bush wore a lovely pastel pink one at a White House formal dinner last weekend. Even Paris Hilton thinks that burkas are HOT."
And American women will happily go along with all this, gladly forsaking power suits, skirts and even -- shudder -- jeans. Why?

American women will soon stampede in DROVES to buy burkas for the same reason that Muslim women now embrace the veil -- it will be safer to go out in public wearing one than not.

According to Stephen Kinzer, back in 1953 a CIA agent named Kermit Roosevelt used violence and intrigue to orchestrate an Eisenhower-approved coup against the democratically-elected Iranian government. This violent coup saddled Iran with the infamous torturer Mohammad Reza Shah. As a result of this typical CIA insanity, there was a tremendous backlash in Iran, one that eventually opened the doors to the Iranian government being seized by a bunch of fundamentalist Mullahs in 1979.

As Harry Truman once said, "The only thing that's new in the world is the history you don't know."

This same backlash against misguided -- dare I say STUPID -- American foreign policies also occurred in Afghanistan after the CIA used violence and intrigue against the USSR occupation -- the CIA went out of their way to support sleazy evil warlords regardless of what that support cost Afghanis in terms of principles and basic human decency -- and was a major factor leading to the creation of the Taliban.

Then the CIA, Reagan, Bush 1 and Rumsfeld created Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Then Bush 2 worked over the people of Iraq with Shock and Awe. The U.S. policies of violence and intrigue smashed that country's structural stability and once again fundamentalist Mullahs are stepping into the vacuum and seizing power there as well.

Short-sighted U.S. foreign policy also created "The Kingdom" of Saudi Arabia. This time, however, CIA violence and intrigue created Mullah rule -- not as a backlash -- but as an end in itself.

Once the fundamentalist Mullahs got into the driver's seat in the Middle East -- be it in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan -- women in these countries quickly started hiding behind the veil.

Why? What's so compellingly attractive about a burka?

It's protection.

When a society becomes violent, women become victims. They can avoid that by hiding. Where is the quickest, easiest and best place to hide? Behind a veil.

And now, through violence and intrigue, fundamentalist "Mullahs" are also in the White House driver's seat. And as America in general continues the trend of worshiping at the shrine of violence, there will be much more violence against women here as well.

As a result, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that American women will also soon be wearing burkas and veils -- and they will be glad to have them too.

I don't want to have to start wearing a burka. Yuck! And probably neither does Tyra Banks or even Laura Bush.

How can we avoid it? Simple. Avoid living in a country that worships intrigue and violence. And stop the "leaders" in Washington from promoting it too.

Use negotiation instead.

When Americans travel abroad these days, they see a lot of violence and horror and hate. "But it's not like that in America," said a Republican friend of mine. So. What IS America like? Kindness and freedom and good? Well. Then. Why don't we export THAT -- instead of torture and intrigue and violence and hatred and sweat shops and depleted uranium nuclear war?

To quote my Franklin Daily Planner, " The more you love, the more you'll find That life is good and friends are kind.... For only what we give away Enriches us from day to day." [by Helen Steiner Rice, Lawrence Welk's "Ambassador of Sunshine"]

America, it's time to stop acting like fundamentalist Mullahs and walk the walk -- or else, ladies, start getting your burkas pressed and shopping for your veils.

PS: My son called me Sunday night. "Ma, I just got a job working on a movie! You'll never guess who with!"


"Think bigger!"

"Martin Scorsese? Steven Speilberg?"

"Bigger than that!"


"You're close." The Pope? "You're getting closer." The Dalai Lama? "Bingo!" Wow. And my son left for India 24 hours later to help film a documentary on the Dalai Lama! Now there is an example of a man who truly cares. The DL is not just another hypocritical money-grubbing phoney such as our George W., who mouths platitudes about religion while busily slaughtering women and children. The Dalai Lama actually walks the walk. Plus my son will set a great example to people in foreign countries who think that Americans only care about blowing stuff up.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Name the world's most ineffectual spy: Austin Powers? Nope. Israel's Mossad!

What "black-ops" operation is the most dangerous one in the world to say bad things about? The CIA? The KGB? Britain's MI-6 gang? James Bond? Austin Powers? The Mafia? Nope. The one secret black-ops undercover organization that I would most hesitate to take on is Israel's dread Mossad. I would have to be crazy to say something bad about them!

Okay. Here goes.

Mossad guys, you suck eggs.

If you're so hot, Mossad, why didn't you detect massive preparations for the 1973 Yom Kippur War? Or was it just another case of "Let it happen" to give you an excuse to snap up Jerusalem at the cost of Israeli lives?

And if you could walk and chew gum at the same time, you would have NOTICED that, during the 1967 Six Day War, the USS Liberty was attacked for 75 minutes in international waters by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats -- and you might possibly have stopped the attack before 34 American sailors died and 172 were wounded. You might even have noticed that, during this attack, THREE consecutive U.S. flags were deliberately shot off their staffs by Israeli firepower. Or, Mossad, was it your deliberate plan to sink the USS Liberty and make it look like Egypt did it? What if that plan had backfired and made your American allies angry? How would that have protected Israel?

And what's with all that faulty intelligence you fed the U.S. regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?

Recently seven people died when a suicide bomber blew up a night club in Tel Aviv. Why would a suicide bomber blow up a night club in Tel Aviv? It doesn't make sense. Unless it was an Israeli Defense Force hangout and the IDF had just shot and killed the bomber's little sister while she was on her way to kindergarten? Mossad claims to be good at these things. Let's ask you to come up with the answers to that one.

And, Mossad guys, since you know everything, would you also investigate who blew up that Lebanese dude? The style of Hariri's demise suspiciously reflects your love of covert assassination (although I must admit the Mafia too is fond of car bombs). A war between Israel and Syria at this point would be a DISASTER for Israel -- but not for Sharon, Bush, and Halliburton. Come on, Mossad. Your job isn't to make money for crooked politicians. Your job is to PROTECT ISRAEL! Get it right this time, you guys. All y'all are lousy at customer service.

I, me, Jane, a low-income single parent living on the other side of the world from Israel can do a better job of protecting Israel than you can!

Give me an Austin-Martin, some James Bond gadgets, the ten billion dollars a year George Bush gives Ariel to buy WMDs and a prom dress and, within the year, I can and will make Israel VERY VERY POPULAR. Even in Mecca.

Look at it this way, Mossad people. Everyone in the Middle East hates Israel's guts because YOU have a nasty foreign policy. What if, for instance, Walmart had a policy like yours? "Shop at Walmart or we will blow you up and steal your land!" NO ONE would shop at Walmart.

The Middle East isn't buying Israel's product at all. Israel needs to fire the Mossad and hire me or Austin Powers. "Chill out, man. It's all groovy!" Or, better yet, hire Martha Stewart.

But even more than antagonizing your Middle Eastern customers, Mossad, you are not serving your Israeli customers either. They keep getting blown up. And now, with your taunts to Iran and Syria, you are endangering your hometown customers even further. Do you actually WANT to stop the bombing in Israel? Or are you just trying to create job insurance?

PS: That idiot in the White House is definitely NOT James Bond material either. Bush has copied the Mossad's failed customer service policy to the letter. It didn't work in Israel. What makes Dubya think that it will generate customers for America?


From "Amy goes to Egypt": "There are five pillars to Islam," our guide told us. "One: The God we all worship -- Christian, Muslim and Jew -- is all the same God; Jehovah from the Old Testament. Second, we give alms to those in need. Third, we pray five times a day. Fourth, we fast during the month of Ramadan. And fifth, we -- oh God, what was number five? I am writing this at 3:45 am so I'm not the sharpest tack in the box. I'm still not sleeping very well. Jihad! Right. No, not THAT Jihad. Jihad doesn’t mean blow stuff up. It means more like conversion by example.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My jury duty questionnaire: "Do you agree that a corporation is a person?"

It was time for me to serve on jury duty again. It's easy to get out of jury duty but frankly I think the jury system is the backbone of America. Serving on a jury is the most patriotic thing I can do -- aside from protesting election fraud.

So there I was in the courtroom. Jury selection. "This trial is a civil trial. A corporation is suing a corporation. Does anybody have trouble with the belief that a corporation is a person?" There were 58 people in that jury pool. Not one of them raised their hand. Except for me. I went OFF on that poor sweet judge.

"What do you MEAN that a corporation is a person!!!! A table is not a person. A chair is not a person. And a corporation is not a person either!" Me and that guy on "Law and Order". I was on a roll.

"Your Honor!" I expounded. "In 1886, in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, a lowly LAW CLERK by the name of J.C. Bancroft Davis -- a former employee of a railroad, mind you -- SNUCK a headnote into a decision, saying that a corporation is as good as a person. That headnote was not legally binding! And for the last 118 YEARS, America has been PRETENDING that corporations were living, breathing persons! Your Honor! That's just wrong."

I paused for breath. The judge paused for the bailiff. The Plaintiff looked worried and the Defendant looked worried too -- but by golly I was going to have my day in court! "No judge has ever ruled on this issue. You can't even cite case law on this. Can a corporation die? Can a corporation father a child?" And can a corporation receive welfare? Don't answer that.

I find it very hard to believe that every day, across this great nation of ours, thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of perspective jurors are being asked this very same question and yet the whole nation-wide jury pool hasn't stood up in open rebellion when asked this stupid, cheesy question. "Does anybody have trouble with the belief that a corporation is a person?" What are we? A nation of sheep?

Needless to say, I was excused from jury duty. A corporation, however, did not step up to take my place. Why? Because a corporation is not allowed to serve on juries. Why not? Because at least someone somewhere has the good sense to realize that A CORPORATION IS NOT A PERSON!

PS: Even if this case hadn't been a legal battle between two corporations, I still wouldn't have been able to serve because the trial would have taken place during the exact same three weeks as the Girl Scout cookie selling season! My daughter's troop takes cookie selling very seriously. They have already sold 50,000 boxes and need to sell 5,000 more boxes this year.

"Your Honor, I need to be excused," I could have said, "so I can stand in front of the Berkeley Bowl for three weeks and sell Girl Scout cookies." Your Honor! It's the law! SOMEBODY has got to keep UC Berkeley students supplied with Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints!


Disclaimer: My political views are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Girl Scouts of America, an organization devoted to helping girls reach their full potential. However, every single person under (or over) the age of 25 should be deadly concerned about George Bush's dogged determination to bankrupt our great nation. Why is he doing this? Because poor people work for cheap. That's just the way the cookie crumbles -- and, if Uncle George has his way, we'll all soon be working for crumbs.


Buy cookies! If you live in Berkeley and need cookies between now and March 21, let me know! And our troop will be selling on March 4, 2005 in front of UC Berkeley and the downtown Berkeley BART station. After that, we will be at the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace. Bon appetite!


If corporations are people, why aren't they paying taxes? In 1955, corporations paid 40% of American taxes. Now they only pay 7%. We the People get to pay almost all of them.


From "Amy goes to Probate Court": Everything you'd ever want to know about probate court -- and much much more. http://travelswithamy.blogspot.com/2004/04/amy-goes-to-probate-court-short.html