Thursday, September 29, 2005
After the failure of FEMA, the gift of billions of tax dollars to Halliburton and other Bush cronies, the criminal indictment of the Republican Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the latest grim photos of torture in Iraq by so-called American troops and the appointment of the Bush bureaucracy's very own voice-over guy John Roberts to the Supreme Court, something has been made perfectly clear to those of us Americans who still live, work, love, raise kids and try to be good citizens of our country -- to those of us who don't lie, steal, embezzle or break the law. To those of us who eschew hypocracy and believe in the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, the message has gone out loud and clear:
NO ONE CARES WHAT WE THINK.
No one wants our contribution to the American Dream. No one in Washington DC gives a damn about us. They just wish we would simply hand over our money, forget our ideals and go away -- and it doesn't matter where. Just as long as our corpses don't stink up the place.
What if those of us who still believe in the U.S. Constitution just melted into the fog and finally gave up trying to stop the wholesale pillaging of our government? Would anybody miss us? Hardly.
"Nobody wants you," mainstream America constantly tells us. "You are wrong, stupid and scum. You have nothing to contribute, you have nothing to add. Go away."
Didn't they tell that to the Jews in Nazi Germany too?
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
While commuting to my law office temp job in San Francisco the other day, I met a gang member on the BART train. I could tell he was a gang member. He had gang tattoos and gang insignia and a gang Survivor buff. So I started asking him about gangs and turfs and stuff.
"In Oakland," he told me, "in the Twenties" -- that's Twentieth Avenue through Twenty-Ninth Avenue -- "you got the Murder Dubs. In West Berkeley, you got the Nortes and the H2o. Then in North Oakland there's the KOB" -- Knock Out Boys -- "and the GEB" -- the Get 'Em Boys. "Then there's ESO" -- East Side Oakland.
Originally, according to my new gangsta hook-up, gangs were formed to protect the neighborhoods from -- gasp -- the police. "Like in New York when the Italians came over, the police would try to extort money out of them and the Mafia would execute the corrupt cops that preyed on their territory." I didn't know that.
"Then the Mafia got greedy and became corrupt too. But our gang isn't like that. Our gang protects our neighborhood. If some punk comes on our block and tries to rob someone, we take them out." Figuratively? Literally? "You gotta fight violence with violence. There is no other way." Hummm....
"But what about the Bush gang?" I asked him. "The Bush bureaucracy has moved in on America's turf and, like the corrupt police in the old days, are using their positions of power and authority to put the squeeze on us little guys. Is using violence the only way that we can stop them?"
"Yeah. You got to shoot them. You got to take them out." No! The Bush gang is armed to the teeth. They are bullies. They use strong-arm techniques to get their way. I don't want to do that too. I DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE THEM!
"There is no other way," said the gang dude. The conversation ended at that point because he got off at his stop but I thought and thought about what he had said. Was there no other way except violence to keep the corruption of the Bush bureaucracy in check? Didn't those dudes in the Washington-Jefferson Gang, the original turf protectors of 1776, give us the U.S Constitution so that We the People could control our own turf nonviolently? Do we have to become as violent and evil as the Mafia in order to keep ourselves safe from being preyed upon?
Then I read an article by an Israeli journalist named Uri Avnery. "On the classical battlefield," he wrote, "the main force was located in the middle, with the flanks secured by lighter forces. The enemy's aim was to break the center, often by turning the flanks. But even if the flanks collapsed, as long as the center held, the battle was not lost." That gave me hope. Because, in America, the Bush bureaucracy's center -- the average American Joe like me and you -- is no longer holding. The Bush bureaucracy can no longer count on rank and file Americans to fight their battles for them because the Bush bureaucracy IS NO LONGER PROTECTING OUR TURF. And, for this reason, the American center is no longer holding.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans circled the White House on September 24, 2005 in order to express their disgust with Bush bureauocracy ineptitude -- an up-to-now un-heard-of situation. Can you imagine that many Americans wanting to circle the White House in protest when, say, Washington or Jefferson was President?
And millions of other Americans are angry too! As my friend Jon told me, "If Katrina had hit Texas instead of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, the head of FEMA would have been drag-hanged up I-45 behind a pickup truck if he had dared to acknowledge that he had been unaware of thousands of citizens holed up in a convention center for three days." This isn't very nonviolent-sounding but you can see that the anger is definitely there.
Nope, the Bush bureaucracy's center is definitely NOT holding.
The gangs of Washington DC have become too corrupt and greedy and have gone too far -- and there is a very good possibility that, like the Washington-Jefferson gang did in 1776, we Americans WILL take back our own turf.
Newsflash: Texas just indicted the Bush mob's top bagman, Tom DeLay. That's a great place to start. "Real soon, the WHB" -- the White House Boys -- "are gonna be changing their name to the BHB" -- The Big House Boys!
PS: I just heard from my friend David -- aka New Orleans' famous Flaming Liberal! He escaped the hurricane and the flood okay but is still in grave danger of being strangled by FEMA red tape. Some church group, however, has fixed him up with an apartment in Atlanta, Georgia and the company that makes audio software for the blind is gonna give him a free program so he will be back on line as soon as he gets to Atlanta and gets a computer. Whew! "But I have lost everything I own," he told me on the phone today, "and my apartment is still under four feet of water."
Saturday, September 24, 2005
At age 11, Jordan's brother Nathan finally stood up to their abusive father. As a result, Nathan spent the next five years of his young life at various "behavior modification programs" and "brat camps" throughout northern California and Utah. So. What is Nathan like now that he is back?
Here is a kid who has had a goodly chunk of his childhood stolen away from him. What do you think he might be like after experiencing something like that? What would YOU be like if something like that had happened to you? Watchful? Untrusting? Paranoid? All of the above? If you guessed "all of the above" you would be right.
Nathan is always thinking that there is someone out there who is about to jump him. And he is always looking for ways to protect himself.
"Look," said Nathan. "If some robber comes in your window, you gotta be prepared. You gotta have a gun. You gotta be able to protect yourself and your family." Nathan, I'm not afraid of robbers. But after I read that the Bush bureaucracy had deployed heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries to New Orleans -- "Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences" -- I started to become more afraid of our own government than of robbers.
Maybe I too should look into getting a gun.
"Just for argument's sake," I asked Nathan, "just assuming that I might maybe want to buy a gun, where could I purchase one?"
"There's a gun shop or a dealer on just about any street in Oakland," he replied. "And they sell them at the Sideshows too. There's a Sideshow tonight. You could get one there...." he added hopefully.
A Sideshow is what we used to call a drag race back in the fifties. No, thank you. I'm too old to be doing donuts, spin-outs and wheelies in my 1990 Toyota Tercel. We went off to a gun show instead.
"Here! Look at this one," said Nathan. It was a 22-caliber pistol dressed up to look like a Glock. "And if you had a Desert Eagle, you could blow someone's arm off." I don't want to do that. What else do you got?
We looked at antique derringers like the kind Mae West used to have. "I want a derringer," I said. "I could wear it in my sock. Then if those Bush idiots start to drag me off to the concentration camp, I could hide out in the hills and shoot rabbits with it." The derringer looked good.
"No, Jane, forget that," said Nathan. "If some dude comes in your window and starts to rob you, you need something like THIS." He pointed to a 9mm Ruger. I reminded him that he had been to my house and I obviously had nothing to steal. But what if those evil Bush bureaucrats stole my identity -- and my Social Security? Would I have to meet them on Main Street at high noon? I'm not afraid of that. Even I could outdraw those weenies. Humph.
Nathan was on to the next booth. "I got to get me one of these," he said lovingly as he held a M-something-or-other in his hands. And he handed me an AK-47. We looked like Grandma and Clyde.
Is being at a gun show going to get me in trouble with George Bush? Nah. He's too busy arresting African-American grandmothers in the Big Easy to worry about me.
But I worry about him.
At the end of the show, we bought nothing. We had both seen a lot of action movies and thought that guns looked cool but we both sort of decided that guns, like children and pets, came with big responsibilities that we just were not ready for yet -- and if our own government didn't know how to use guns responsibly, apparently this was a hard skill to learn!
In the end, we decided that to be in a position to take a human life was entirely too heavy a moral issue for us no matter how many times we saw it happen on the TV news and we let our dreams of Glocks and AK-47s slide.
Nathan and I had a great time at the gun show. And we argued all the way home. "It's the bad guys you have to be afraid of," said Nathan.
"Nah," I replied. "It's the Bush brothers' government."
PS: Unfortunately, Nathan's adventures that day didn't end when I dropped him off home. He got in an argument with his father later that evening -- why do people have to fight with their kids? Can't they just read John Gray's book, "Children are from Heaven" and get parenting right? -- anyway, Nathan ran away from home, Daddy called the police on his son yet again and Nathan turned himself in. Can't anybody get parenting RIGHT around here? How hard can it be? No wonder kids grow up and cause wars and kill people with guns.
PPS: Another reason not to have guns -- if I shot another human being, I wouldn't be able to get into Heaven.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
I just got this e-mail from my friend Alice. She said, "Some really GOOD CHRISTIAN wrote to our local paper and said that Katrina's wrath was God's way of punishing New Orleans because they celebrate Mardi Gras." That's like saying that Hurricane Rita is hitting the innocent people of Texas in retribution for all the embezzling and corruption caused by Texas-based Halliburton and the Bush bureaucracy.
Well. There's only one way to deal with that kind of ignorance and intolerance (aside from tossing the Bush bureaucracy out of OUR White House and hopefully avoiding God's wrath on that one.)
LET'S SAVE MARDI GRAS!
Let's make good and sure that Mardi Gras, one of the grandest traditions of anywhere EVER, is not allowed to die. Every man, woman and child in America needs to get up off their keisters, go to Mardi Gras next February 28 and take a stand. And have some fun while we are doing it too.
By going to Mardi Gras, we will save the parade and the tradition -- but we will also stimulate the economy there too. As my friend Juli noted, "Giving a bunch of reconstruction money to Halliburton and fat-cat developers [who are practically peeing their pants in estascy over this unexpected "eminent domain" literal windfall] isn't going to help the people of New Orleans. The Mayor needs to get NOLA's small businesses up and running and the people back into their homes, in order to create commerce for tax revenue."
So. Let's get out our Mardi Gras beads and go eat some king cakes and gumbo. Let's join the krewes, second line clubs, spy boys, jazz bands and Wild Tchoupitoulas -- and let the good times roll! All y'all can have a wonderful time and stimulate the economy too. Like my friend Alice said, "I am 80 years old but next year, if I am still on my feet, I am going to Mardi Gras!!!!!"
Saturday, September 17, 2005
"But...but...but...I CAN'T GO ON HAJJ!" There were so many obstacles. My job, money, my family needed me, fear of the unknown.... I kept arguing with God. "Head scarves give me headaches. Two weeks with a scarf on my head? Headaches!" And I was OLD. You could hear my knees creak when I climbed stairs. And all that bowing on wobbly knees? Out of the question. Like a child who is allowed to state its case before a benevolent parent, one is allowed to argue with Allah. I stated and re-stated my case.
"And why in the world would I want to go to the Middle East?"
And how much would it cost?
If God were to speak to me, what would He say? I bet He would argue right back. "If he or she is able, every Muslim must go on Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. And no one knows what the future may bring. Look what happened to poor New Orleans. Stop arguing with me and get it over with, Jane!"
So. How does one go about finding out more information about the Hajj? Would Allah advise me to Google? Why not. This is what I found out:
Going on Hajj ISN'T just a round trip to Mecca with a stop-off for a few days in Cairo and/or New York. Hajj is a whole involved process. It involves camping out on a mountainside and walking through tunnels and throwing stones at the devil and circling the Ka'bah -- and sacrificing a sheep! The whole process takes over a week. And how much WOULD it cost?
I checked out www.makehajj.com, run by a very nice and helpful man who owns a bookstore in Philadelphia. "$3,695," he told me. That's two years' rent! Or, considering the greediness of the bumbling fools in the White House, maybe gas money for a couple of weeks.
King Tut Tours in California at http://www.alhodahajjgroup.com/hajj.htm had an interesting economy package for $2,995. That's do-able. Sort of. "But remember," cautioned my friend Bob, "you have to be debt-free to go on Hajj." Gulp. But I called them anyway and talked with a very nice woman named Anna.
At the same time, I found a group in New Jersey at http://hajjusa.com/ that was also going. I Googled them too. Their price was $2,990. I could save five whole dollars! I debated whether to take Anna's offer -- she DID live in California -- or save the five dollars. Anna got sick and couldn't call me back but the Jersey group had their IMAM call me so I figured they were really trying hard and actually wanted me to go with them. That was a plus.
But. I STILL didn't want to go. It all just seemed like such a BIG PROJECT. I went back to arguing with Allah. "I just can't do this," I said. "I have to stay home and feed the cat!"
Bottom line? I'm going. I tried to weasel out of it but I JUST COULDN'T NOT GO. The presence of three million Pilgrims all praying for peace at one time and in one place was just too much of a temptation for me. Allah must have known that. It was the ultimate carrot. He must have known that I'm a sucker for world peace.
So. Are you also considering going on Hajj? NOW is the time to do it. NOW is the time to make your reservations -- before Allah gets on your case too
I hate to disillusion the pro-life lobby but John Roberts is NOT going to help us protect unborn babies. If we want to protect the lives of unborn babies, a Bush bureaucrat is not going to be the one to do it.
Want proof? Here's proof. Congress just passed a law that de-regulates mercury pollution. Mercury poisoning causes miscarriages. The new mercury de-regulation law will cause thousands -- perhaps even millions -- of miscarriages; innocent and helpless fetuses to be flushed down toilets. Do heartless Bush bureaucrats care about this mass slaughter of the unborn? Not at all.
My gut feeling is that anyone appointed to the Supreme Court by the Bush bureaucracy is unlikely to protect the unborn, the Ten Commandments, the sanctity of marriage or the Constitution.
So who WILL these Bush judicial appointees protect? Corporations.
Am I a corporation?
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America is supposed to be the highest, most honorable defender of the rights of American citizens and the absolute cream of all that the American judiciary stands for -- not just another greedy corporate lawyer joke.
Lawyer joke # 1: A corporate lawyer and Mother Teresa were stranded in the desert after their airplane crashed. A week later, a search party arrived to rescue them. The party found the lawyer relaxing in the shade of a cactus, while Mother Teresa had shriveled up and died of thirst. "What happened?" they asked the lawyer. "How can you be in such great shape when Mother Teresa has died?" The lawyer shrugged. "I guess she never found the water hole."
On July 21, 2005, a New York Times front page headline described John Roberts this way: "As a Lawyer, Court Nominee Was Considered a Skillful Advocate for Corporate Clients." Roberts' judicial record places him squarely in the pockets of large corporations -- but not in our pockets. Not in ours.
Lawyer joke # 2: A judge was annoyed to find that his car wouldn't start. He called a taxi, and soon one arrived at his house.Climbing in, he told the driver to take him to the halls of justice. "Where are they," asked the driver."You mean to say that you don't know where the courthouse is?" asked the incredulous judge."The courthouse? Of course I know where that is," replied the driver. "But I thought you said you wanted to go to the 'halls of justice.'"
Think about all those tireless poorly-paid storefront non-profit operating-on-a-shoestring midnight-candle-burning pro bono from-the-heart legal advocates of the rights of you and me -- the ones who work their fingers to the bone to protect the rights and freedom of us average Joes. Will one of them ever be considered for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Hell no. They will be lucky to get an ocasional 2-minute mention on C-SPAN.
The pro bono attorneys in wrinkled suits who work so hard defending our rights will never be Supreme Court justices. They don't belong to the right country clubs. But Roberts does.
Do we really want the highest judge in the land to be just another corporate shill?
Lawyer joke # 3: A fancy corporate lawyer was driving his big BMW down the highway, singing to himself, "I love my BMW, I love my BMW." Focusing on his car, not his driving, he smashed into a tree. He miraculously survived, but his car was totaled. "My BMW! My BMW!" he sobbed. A good Samaritan drove by and cried out, "Sir, sir, you're bleeding! And my god, your left arm is gone!"The lawyer, horrified, screamed "My Rolex! My Rolex!
So. Will John Roberts turn out to be the ultimate corporate lawyer joke? And will the joke be on us? Is this a chance that we average Joes -- and Janes -- can afford to take?
Lawyer joke # 4: When a person assists a criminal in breaking the law BEFORE the criminal gets arrested, we call him an accomplice.When a person assists a criminal in breaking the law AFTER the criminal gets arrested, we call him a corporate lawyer.
Lawyer joke # 5: Let's make sure that this one isn't about a fancy corporate lawyer serving as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court!
PS: Welcome to the world's largest garage sale!
Bush bureaucrats are selling off our jobs, our pensions, our treasures, our heirlooms -- and anything else stored in America's basements and closets that they can get good money for. Like a fall yard sale where the sellers hope it doesn't rain before everything goes, they are stripping it down just as fast as they can. And bolting the furniture down won't even stop them. Elections are for sale. Congress is for sale. And now the Supreme Court Chief Justice seat is up for sale too. Do you think that an honest lawyer with the American people's interest at heart can afford to buy that chair? Think again!
Friday, September 16, 2005
Someone just sent me an e-mail about New Orleans. "You liberal weenies are trying to blame it all on President [sic] Bush. It was the local government that failed."
Yeah. Okay. You got a point there. New Orleans, like the rest of America, has had their local police and firefighter budgets drastically cut over the last five years. In New Orleans specifically, levee maintenance funds dried up to a trickle thanks to the Bush bureaucrats in Washington. And much of the local National Guard rescue equipment somehow ended up in Iraq. Of course the New Orleans disaster was a failure on the local level. Duh.
Trying to explain "How it is" to Bush apologists, I swear, takes up half my time.
"Remember back in the day when we didn't have to worry about jobs?" I ask them. "Remember back when Mohammed Atta hadn't been allowed to enter the country because he had been identified as a terrorist TWO YEARS before 9/11? Remember back before Cheney took office and we had a U.S. vice-president who was actually smart enough to avoid giving a stand-down order to our air force when planes were being hijacked?" Sigh.
Remember back when Americans were safe abroad, our teachers were almost even well-paid, our schools and highways weren't crumbling and gas prices were reasonable? Remember back before eight billion dollars mysteriously disappeared into Halliburton's vest pockets? Remember when we had adequate funding for our fire departments? Remember back in the days when a Red State/Blue State civil war was not imminent and global warming was not an intensely immediate concern?
"Remember when our pensions were safe," I asked them, "and our sons were too?" Remember back when 12% of America didn't live in poverty and being a "Christian" meant something important and wasn't just a political crutch?
But apologists for the failed Bush bureaucracy aren't interested in facts. They don't CARE that America now have the most corrupt government since Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. They are only interested in calling me a liberal weenie.
So I thought I'd take my mind off of politics for a while and watch Survivor Guatemala instead. But even that turned out to be political.
There they all were, standing around these fabulous Mayan ruins, when host Jim Probst introduced the latest batch of Survivors. And, like the lucky ones who were able to escape New Orleans before the hurricane hit, this group did NOT represent the ethnic composition of America.
In Survivor Palou, we all rooted for Ibrahim. Big Brother 6 featured Beau, Ivette, Kasar and host Julie Chan -- someone for EVERYBODY to identify with. And The Cut had Felix, Chris, Rob and Princess. There was Jordis and Ty on Rock Star INXS and LaToya, Fantasia and Ruben on Americal idol. Is Survivor Guatemala -- like New Orleans -- now indicating the direction American reality is taking? Back to the bad old days of Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver -- and Amos and Andy? Or Boss Tweed, General Custer, Joseph McCarthy and Emmett Till?
When producing Survivor Guatemala, I wish that Mark Burnett have thrown in even one token African-American or Asian. I gotta admit that one Survivor did look vaguely Latina but basically on that show, like in New Orleans, only the White survived.
Then I thought of my own reality -- of my neighbors, my friends and my children. I live in a ethnically colorful world and I wouldn't have it any other way. This rainbow of ethnic variety surrounding me daily makes my life more interesting. It used to make New Orleans more interesting. It makes America more interesting. And it would have made Survivor Guatemala more interesting too.
I turned the television off.
PS: I found out the next day that, like in New Orleans after the levee broke, the old and injured were also the first to get voted off.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Everyone knows that the Talladega Super Speedway is haunted. In 1973, Winston Cup champion Bobby Isaac was in the lead on the front stretch of the Talladega 500 when he heard a voice saying, "Get out of the car and just walk away." And he did.
In 1987, Bobby Allison's car ran over something on the track. He lost control while driving at over 200 MPH and tore up 150 feet of fence -- but stopped just short of taking out half the spectators in the grandstand. Then he walked away without a scratch. They invented restrictor plates because of him.
Davey Allison's helicopter crashed there mysteriously.
And Dale Earnhardt, our own Number 3, won his last race there too -- miraculously moving from eighteenth position to first place in only five laps.
What would the Cherokee ghosts of Talladega do if George Bush were to put on yet another costume -- this time a firesuit -- and race there? Nothing. They wouldn't have to. NASCAR fans would have already laughed him off the track. No one at Talladega likes a cowardly fool.
If Bush raced at Talladega, his stock car would be a limo -- very hard to maneuver on the curves.
If Bush raced at Talladega, his pit crew wouldn't even know how to change a light bulb let alone a whole set of tires.
If Bush raced at Talladega, his sponsors' decals would be Halliburton, Enron and Arlington Cemetery.
If Bush raced at Talladega, he would have peed himself from fright on the first qualifying lap.
If Bush raced at Talladega, he would have had his Poppy forge the entry forms, Congress cough up the fees out of our Social Security reserves and the Ohio/Florida election supervisors count the laps.
But if Bush raced at Talladega, I would be happy. It would mean that he would be losing there instead of in Iraq, New Orleans and the White House. Real NASCAR drivers who knew what they were doing would wipe him out -- and all the TV promos telling us what a good race car driver he is wouldn't be able to fool them. Or us.
Rubbin' is racing. It's time someone bumped the Bushmobile out of this race and let someone who knows what they are doing make the pass in the grass.
Ghosts of Talladega, where are you?
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Over 100,000 people who used to have snug little houses in the Big Easy are homeless now. So why am I getting upset about one little homeless boy? Charity begins at home? "Home" is the key word here.
Somebody just e-mailed me an article by Robert Tracinski, who proclaimed, "The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view. The man-made disaster is the welfare state." He's got that right! I think that he's referring to food stamps but what he should really be up in arms about is the CORPORATE welfare state -- instigators of "governments who prey on their people."
We are living in Neverland here, guys, and who are you going to believe? Peter Pan or Captain Hook? Looks like the Red States are still going for Hook, line and sinker. But I digress.
What I really want is some advice.
Some of you may remember my stories from last year about 15-year-old Jordan who bravely escaped from yet another in a series of "Brat Camps" his parents had sent him to -- he escaped by trudging through the mountains of Montana all by himself until he came to a farmhouse and used their phone to call his family. "Either you come get me or I spend the rest of my life hiding out in the Montana woods."
And, no, Montana is NOT Neverland. Not even close
Fortunately, rationality prevailed and young Jordan was allowed to come home -- but now he is homeless again. One day when things weren't going too well -- bad day at the office for Daddy -- Jordan's father kicked him out. So. Now he's camping out with us and I need advice.
"If you take that child in, that's KIDNAPPING," said my next-door neighbor. "You are going to jail!"
Okay. So now I'm doomed to Death Row at San Quentin just for trying to help someone out. So be it. But in the meantime, Jordan needs to be clothed and housed. He needs healthcare. He needs to have his school information changed to reflect his new reality. And we gotta pay for his cell phone too. And what if he gets in an accident and has to go to the hospital? Who will sign for him? I am not legally allowed. Only his parents who threw him out and told him not to come back are legally allowed. There are children all over America who are on the horns of this same legal dilemma -- You either live in a burrow with the Lost Boys or you ship out with Captain Hook.
I called the Alameda County emergency food bank. They were really helpful and gave Jordan a free box of food -- mostly consisting of canned peaches and Rice Krispie Treats. He loved it!
I called Child Protective Services. They said it would take a week but they WOULD get back to me. I told them they could try but I didn't yet have a phone number on Death Row.
I called the school district. "You need a notarized statement from Jordan's parents that you are the legal caregiver." They faxed me a form. If I was the legal caregiver I wouldn't need the form. Duh. I called the food stamp/Medi-Cal hotline. And was on hold for an hour. "You have no standing," they said. "The boy will have to go home."
I suddenly felt very sorry for the homeless people flooded out in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. They were in for it. Days, weeks, months -- years! -- stretched before them, filled with red tape. Talk about your Neverland!
IT SHOULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN TO THIS!
Jordan is a bright boy who had been making friends and doing well in school. He should never have been forced to become just another Lost Boy statistic. He should never have been driven out of his childhood home. And, if it all should have had to have happened, HE SHOULD HAVE HAD A SAFETY NET. George Bush and the slime at the White House all have safety nets. But Jordan? But the people of New Orleans? Nothing. They have nothing. And they are being called names for wanting more.
The corporate welfare recipients get hand-outs. Why can't we get just some simple HELP.
My next-door-neighbor said it all. When a neighbor in America is in trouble, dump them, harass them, call them welfare cheaters or throw them in jail -- unless you are in a position to steal elections, take over Congress, get no-bid war contracts and have off-shore tax break accounts. Then ANYTHING GOES.
When we who care for people, we who drowned needlessly in the levee's flood waters and we who are laughed at and threatened and ridiculed by our neighbors because we chose to do good deeds because it feels right -- when we die and go to Heaven, "Welcome home," Jesus will tell us. "No, sorry, George. You already made your choice. We have another place reserved for the likes of Captain Hook."
PS: If Hook and Smee get away with the Rape of New Orleans, they can get away with anything. As my friend Katherine says, "The country is getting used to the idea of losing a major city... So when a bomb drops on, say, Chicago... Well, too bad, lets all donate to the Red Cross...."
Monday, September 05, 2005
The guard members told us we wouldn't be allowed into the Superdome, as the city's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. They further told us that the city's only other shelter -- the convention center -- was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police weren't allowing anyone else in.
Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only two shelters in the city, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that this was our problem -- and no, they didn't have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement." http://www.counterpunch.org/bradshaw09062005.html
Playing chess with the devil: Did George Bush just take our queen?
If you want to know what is going on in America today, here's a clue: Just think of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and their various corporate sponsors as world-class chess Grand Masters. Seen from this perspective, it becomes immediately obvious that they are playing a very deep game. And who are they playing it against? Us.
How would Chess magazine describe this match? "Just some average dumb smucks who haven't even played chess since high school are now playing up against the Grand Masters -- the ultimate Bobby Fischers -- of Machiavellian nastiness." Yeah, and who do you think is gonna win?
Too bad that the stakes we are playing for are our jobs, our freedom and our lives because we are going to lose this one. Badly.
Here is the action so far: Both our bishops were taken at the very start of play but these Grand Masters still have theirs -- plus they still have all of their castles and all their knights. We have NO knights. And with the loss of New Orleans, they have just jumped our queen. All we have left now are our pawns.
It's no surprise that the game started out badly for us. "What? Do I look like Boris Spassky or something?" After the 2000 election, the Bush gang used the Supreme Court to put our king in check but somehow we survived that one. Then they took our castles on 9/11, our bishops with the Florida/Ohio election fraud and our knights in Iraq. But what did it matter? We still had our queen.
Not any more.
When the port of New Orleans went down, we didn't even know what hit us -- but disabling a major Blue State port and getting Americans used to martial law was part of the Grand Masters' plan. "Might as well get used to losing, suckers," the Grand Masters told America. Yeah.
FEMA and Homeland Security treated us like animals in New Orleans. First they let us starve and then they ordered "shoot to kill". Our queen went down. Our king was in check again.
After the battle of New Orleans, we finally realized that in case of ANY future emergency, we are now on our own. Stock up on canned foods and flashlights guys. With the Grand Masters controlling the chessboard, there will always be a crisis. And we will always lose.
The Bush Grand Masters have beat us and tricked us and out-strategised us at every turn and now only some pawns -- you and me -- stand between them and their ultimate Check Mate.
Or we could kick over the chessboard and start playing a game that WE are good at -- Truth or Dare!
PS: We now know that if the Grand Masters can sweep New Orleans off the board, they will not hesitate to do the same to any other city in America. We need to start playing to win here. There is just too much at stake. But just exactly HOW should we play to win -- to rid ourselves of these Machiavellian chess masters who have insinuated themselves into the life of America, filling the media with images that make everything they do seem so benign, paternal-in-our-own-interests and right?
What actions -- within the limits of human decency (something the bush Republicans don't understand) -- can I take? Can any of us take? They know we are honorable -- unwilling to stoop to their level -- and they use that as a strategy against us. But even if we did stoop to their level, what would we do?
As Harry Potter once said, "At some point in one's life one has to chose between the easy way and the right way." The bush Republicans have chosen the easy way. But what is the right way? Passive resistance. Non-violent sit-ins? If every person who had ever been to New Orleans and loved that city sent a post card to the White House saying, "Resign, you murdering SOBs," would that do it? Or what if we sent all the Nawlins "refugees" to camp out on the White House lawn instead of at the Astrodome? Or if we paid our taxes to President Sheehan.
But first let's start with impeachment and any Senator who doesn't go along with it gets impeached too. And we turn off ANY media -- even wonderful progressive KPFA -- who refers to George Bush as "The President".
Then we start to play Truth or Dare with the corporate welfare queens who sponsor these evil Grand Masters. We form unions. We get single-payer healthcare. We eliminate massive corporate special interest election contributions. We dump the Patriot Act. We stop secret funds to the Pentagon and institute citizen-soldiers again. We get rid of the code of secrecy that now pervades OUR government. We check-mate King George, using some of the chess moves made legendary by the 1776 chess masters -- and we take our country back.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
"If the People of New Orleans sued George Bush, FEMA and Homeland Security for Criminal Negligence during the recent Hurricane Katrina crisis, do you think that they might have a case?" I asked a top-flight civil class action lawsuit attorney.
"Hummmm...." he replied.
Let's look at the evidence we could present to a jury. "On the day of June 4, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, informed Defendants Bush, FEMA and Homeland Security that they took the Chevy to the levee and the levee was NOT dry." And August 29, 2005 was the day that the music died.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Defendants had THREE DAYS' NOTICE before Hurricane Katrina struck in which to remove our clients -- the thousands of residents of New Orleans who are now dead, dying or severely injured -- to safety. The Defendants had the means to remove them to safety. And they had the ability to remove them to safety. Since September 11, 2001, Defendants had been given billions and billions of dollars to prepare for just such an emergency as a major evacuation of a city. Instead they did nothing. Nothing. Your Honor, Defendants Bush, FEMA and Homeland Security left these people -- the sick, the infirm, the young and the elderly -- to starve and die."
Talk about winning your case! No jury in the nation, presented with all the evidence, could fail to bring in a verdict of "Guilty!"
A line of witnesses two miles long could testify. "My baby died because they came to rescue us too late..." and "I watched my wife drown in the flood waters because they failed to repair the levees in time..." and "They left us there to starve...."
You think I'm kidding about this? I'm serious as a heart attack. I loved the city and the people of New Orleans. The Criminal Negligence of Bush, FEMA and Homeland Security is DEFINITELY actionable. I predict that ANY jury of their peers would award at least two million dollars per each Plaintiff's cause of action. Multiply that by the thousands of Plaintiffs named in the lawsuit and we could maybe set an example here: Criminal Negligence by a "government" mandated to protect America is no longer acceptable.
And the Defendants can afford to pay these judgments. They have DEEP POCKETS -- from all the taxpayers' money they have been stuffing away in their Swiss bank accounts for the last five years.
"But the Plaintiffs had better file their lawsuit quickly," my attorney friend told me. "With Sandra Day-O'Connor's seat and William Rehnquist's seat on the Supreme Court now up for grabs, the Defendants will soon be appointing THEIR OWN JUDGES."
Saturday, September 03, 2005
As a Blue-State Democrat, I've watched bush Republicans take money away from Californians who voted against them and give it to red states who supported them. According to www.newrules.org, 12 blue states receive less than a dollar from the federal government for each dollar they pay in taxes. However, 25 red states receive more than a dollar for every dollar they pay out.
Unfortunately, New Orleans was in the same boat as California -- a place with a Blue voting record that is now suffering from benign neglect.
But at what point does this benign neglect turn into deliberate Criminal Negligence?
My friend John just forwarded a very disturbing e-mail to me. It is the story of deliberate neglect in New Orleans -- neglect bordering on the criminal. The word "Eugenics" comes to mind. Or those old 1930s experiments on Negro syphilis patients -- African-American men who were allowed to die of this horrible yet curable disease so that government officials could "study" them.
Is what happened in New Orleans the wave of the future in America as well as in such far-away places as Darfur and Iraq -- where genocide is not only feasible but is actually happening? This "administration" is very good at doing nothing when ACTION could save thousands of lives. We saw them do nothing during the summer of 2001 when Mohammed Atta could have been captured and the 9/11 tragedy averted. And remember when they did nothing while Baghdad was being looted?
And now in Darfur, the Congress, White House and Pentagon continue to do nothing, essentially allowing thousands to die -- without having to seem to be responsible for these slow and agonizing deaths. And if the bush Republicans can turn a blind eye to the plight of the women and children in Darfur and the African-Americans in New Orleans, might the rest of us be next?
Here is the e-mail from John, written by Malik:
"I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they had no warning, but here there was plenty of warning. In the three days before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have been evacuated.
"We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater-- they just wouldn't move them, afraid they'd be stolen.
"People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what they own that they just let it all be flooded. They could have let a family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left it behind to be destroyed.
"People whose homes and families were not destroyed went into the city right away with boats to bring the survivors out, but law enforcement told them they weren't needed. They are willing and able to rescue thousands, but they're not allowed to.
"Every day countless volunteers are trying to help, but they're turned back. Almost all the rescue that's been done has been done by volunteers anyway.
"My son and his family -- his wife and kids, ages 1, 5 and 8 -- were flooded out of their home when the levee broke. They had to swim out until they found an abandoned building with two rooms above water level.
"There were 21 people in those two rooms for a day and a half. A guy in a boat who just said "I'm going to help regardless" rescued them and took them to Highway I-10 and dropped them there.
"They sat on the freeway for about three hours, because someone said they'd be rescued and taken to the Superdome. Finally they just started walking, had to walk six and a half miles. "People from Placquemine Parish were rescued on a ferry and dropped off on a dock near here. All day they were sitting on the dock in the hot sun with no food, no water. Many were in a daze; they've lost everything.
"They were all sitting there surrounded by armed guards. We asked the guards could we bring them water and food. My mother and all the other church ladies were cooking for them, and we have plenty of good water.
"But the guards said, "No. If you don't have enough water and food for everybody, you can't give anything." Finally the people were hauled off on school buses from other parishes.
"The people who could help are being shipped out. People who want to stay, who have the skills to save lives and rebuild are being forced to go to Houston.
"It's not like New Orleans was caught off guard. This could have been prevented. "There's military right here in New Orleans, but for three days they weren't even mobilized. You'd think this was a Third World country.
"I'm in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, the only part that isn't flooded. The water is good. Our parks and schools could easily hold 40,000 people, and they're not using any of it."
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Last month, Cindy Sheehan shown a brilliant spotlight on the Bush Republicans, illuminating the calculated, cynical and deliberate way that they had deceitfully, corruptly and deliberately led America into an unjust and unnecessary war. "Exactly what noble cause did my son die for?" Cindy asked.
Did the "noble cause" that Casey Sheehan died for somehow invovle lining the Bush Republicans' pockets with America's hard-earned money? As billions and billions of our tax dollars mysteriously disappeared down the rabbit hole of waste and mismanagement in Iraq, we began to suspect that it did.
Then Hurricane Katrina hit with all the lurid force of nothing America had ever seen before, destroying and obliterating a entire section of this country. And suddenly Cindy Sheehan was forgotten, stale. She was yesterday's news.
Or was she?
As the stories filtered back to us about how the Bush Republicans had systematically drained major chunks of financing away from paying for the levee maintenance projects necessary to keep the Big Easy safe, we realized that New Orleans, like Iraq, was all about money.
As the stories filtered in about how millions of dollars had been spent by Bush Republicans on ad campaigns to make pariahs out of the scientists who had tried to warn us that Bush Republican pro-pollution policies were exacerbating the global warming process that allowed Katrina to grow from some obscure tropical storm into the Gulf Coast's worst nightmare, we began to realize that here too governance -- to the Bush Republicans -- was all about money.
What Cindy and Katrina have both pointed out to us -- too late to save America's long list of corpses -- is that, like termites burrowing from within the structure of a home that seems from the outside to be solid -- Bush Republicans have burrowed into our economy, eating a bit here (Enron), a bit there (Halliburton's obscene profits from Iraq), a bite at a time (the staggering national debt, the tax breaks for the rich, the union-busting, the looting of our National Guard, the welfare-for-corporations legislature passed by Congress, the de-funding of schools and hospitals, the pollution of our air and rivers...) until the largest, strongest economy in the world became just an empty shell.
Two women have shown us -- on national television -- pictures of what can happen if we allow corruption from within. It's time to clear our foundations of these termites. Their greedy crimes have cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. It's time to call in the exterminators and get rid of these pests -- starting witn impeachment, asset impoundment and jail. To quote Bush himself on TV last night, "Looters should be treated with zero tolerance."
I offer heart-felt thanks to Cindy Sheehan for being brave enough to point this deceit and corruption out to us. However, I never will find it in my heart to thank Hurricane Katrina.