Thursday, January 28, 2010

The New World Order: America need not apply

Author's note: I sort of consider myself to be a worldly and politically aware person, yet here I am just now realizing stuff about the deadly and treacherous men who run our planet -- stuff that people like Patrice Lumumba, Che Guevara and Evita Peron were painfully aware of even back in the 1950s, back when I was naively busy reading Nancy Drew and selling Girl Scout cookies.
Better late than never?

I was talking with a friend recently regarding the role of America as the world's only superpower. "America is rapidly losing its place at the head of the table," commented my friend, and I immediately agreed -- but for a different reason than the one that he had in mind.

"America as a country," I replied, "is not only being forced to share its superpower status with China, Russia and the European Union at this point in time but, in the near future, things are going to get even worse for the U.S. I'm thinking that even as soon as ten or 20 years from now, America will be pretty much known in the world as a second-rate has-been."

"Never happen!" exclaimed my friend. "We've got the money, the people, the Constitutional government and the natural resources -- not to mention the military power -- to stay at the top of the heap for the rest of this century and beyond."

"Ah, but the key word in your argument here is the word 'we'. It strongly appears, however, that 'we' no longer control America's bounty. 'THEY' do."

Adolph Hitler was an idiot. He chose to take over the world by force -- whereas if he had just stayed cool and played his cards right, he could have taken over the world with his superb propaganda machine instead. If he had done that instead of blitz-kreiging London and Poland and France and wherever, I bet you dollars to donuts that he would still be in power to this day. But Hitler was a thug -- not a con-man.

And now the con-men are in charge. They have the exact same agenda as Hitler -- corporatism -- but they are obviously succeeding where Hitler failed. They now own America lock, stock and barrel -- something that Hitler could only dream of.

"Jane," you might say, "You gotta be kidding. Americans own America." Do we?

Do "we" control the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court? No. Do "we" control Wall Street? No. Do "we" control our natural resources, our food supply, our foreign policy, our treasury, our voting machines, our banking system, our tariffs, our industry? No, no, no, no, no, no, no and no. Do we even control our own media? Absolutely no!

When George H. W. Bush announced his plans for a "New World Order" back in 1984 (or whenever), he let the cat out of the bag regarding what had apparently been in the works for years. "New. World. Order." We all shoulda just read his lips. But back then we all thought his plan was for AMERICA to rule the world. Yeah right. And it turns out from hindsight that Bush's New World Order had no place for "We the People" in his plan -- except as a source of cheap labor.

You think I'm wrong about this? When you die and get up to heaven, just ask John Kennedy if I'm wrong!

At this point in time, it seems pretty clear that a handful of rich men at the top of the food chain run the world with an iron hand. Not a blade of (genetically engineered) grass grows anywhere on the planet -- except perhaps in Outer Mongolia -- but that the New World Order doesn't know about it, approve of it and milk it for all that it's worth. Hitler would have been so jealous!

"Okay, Jane, these are outrageous charges -- but where's your proof? Prove that you're right!"

No. You (try to) prove that I'm wrong.

PS: Here's a video of me and baby Mena taking a trip around South Berkeley, visiting Ashby Nails and the Berkeley Public Library and lamenting the planet's take-over by the One World Order:

PPS: I'm currently trying to struggle through all five hours of that 2008 movie "Che" on Netflix, starring Benitio Del Toro You might consider watching it too. Way back in the 1950s, the rich dudes who run America now practiced up their "exploiting the masses" chops by exploiting Cuba. And Iran. And the Congo. And what they did to Cuba, Iran and the Congo back then appears to be exactly what they are doing to America now -- creating a peasant underclass whose only job is to provide the above-mentioned rich dudes with cheap labor.

While watching this movie, which is set way back in the day, all I could think of was that, 60 years later, the rich dudes are now doing to Haiti and Afghanistan and Iraq exactly what they did to Cuba back in the days of Batista, to Argentina after Evita died and Chile after Allende was killed. You're next, suckers!

But then on the other hand, perhaps America won't need another Che Guevara in order to save the day here. Perhaps the innate goodness that lies in the hearts of you and me and all of us other average Americans will finally wise up and tell the rich dudes where to go all by ourselves.

I'm waiting...

Monday, January 25, 2010

2009 Supreme Court decisions: I know what you did last year....

The Berkeley-Albany Bar Association actually had 40 lawyers show up for its monthly meeting at the La Rose bistro this month -- and why not? The speaker's topic was gonna be HOT. Yes, it's time for BABA's annual report on the doings of America's highest court in the land -- and as anyone who is not half-dead already knows, the Supreme Court has been up to all kinds of shenanigans this past year. Today's report promised to be just as good as a soap opera. Plus we had a choice between ordering the pasta, the salmon or the duck.

I'm just hoping that our speaker is going to talk about the court's new ruling that allows lobbyists to flood our congressional representatives with as much cash as their little hearts desire. This decision is one of the court's all-time hotties and will change the face of America for decades -- if not centuries -- and change it very much for the worse.

According to Brent Budowsky, a well-known Washington insider, "The Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate cash to buy unlimited political power through unlimited political spending is one of the greatest single attacks on democracy in the history of jurisprudence, and one of the single greatest demonstrations of contempt for legal precedent in the history of the United States Supreme Court."

With that HUGE amount of money flooding into Congress, there's only one thing for me to do. I'm gonna run for Congress myself! With China and Saudi Arabia and Lockheed practically pissing themselves trying to pay me off right and left, I could become a billionaire overnight! Sorry, Barbara Lee. I know you're the best Congressional Representative on Capital Hill today but I just gotta face facts and run against you. You're just not corrupt. And this could be my only chance to become immediately and obscenely rich!

"Today's lecture on Supreme Court decisions in 2009 and early 2010 is going to be serious," said our speaker. "But just remember that grinding your teeth is bad for your health. The first case we are talking about involves taxing cigarettes. The City of New York filed against someone in New Mexico under the RICO Act for selling untaxed cigarettes by mail to New Yorkers, thus costing NYC millions of dollars. The court ruled that these untaxed internet sales were legal." Chief Justice Roberts wrote the decision, which said that the revenue loss to New York was too indirect.

But before he discussed the rest of the cases, our speaker talked about a new biography of Justice Kennedy entitled "Justice Kennedy's Jurisprudence". As you may know, Kennedy is the swing vote on the court but apparently tends to vote with the neo-con justices. "The first conclusion I got from this book was that Justice Kennedy means well. And the second conclusion I got was that he tends to get lost."

Because of his swing position, Kennedy is the most powerful judge at this time. "I'm not so sure that Roberts has taken over the court -- and Kennedy -- completely." Whew! "And last year I thought that there was actually hope for Justice Alito because he was a New-Jersey-type Republican -- but now I know that there is no hope."

Justice Sotomayor seems to be a good replacement for Justice Souter -- mostly doing what he would probably have done. And apparently Kennedy has sided with the neo-con side of the court at a ratio of approximately two to one. I can't give you a direct quote on that because the waiter had served me my salad at that point and I got distracted.

"Then there was a case regarding the scope of patentability, having to do with being able to patent business methods. This is an important case." But apparently there hasn't been a ruling handed down on that one yet.

"In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the issue was whether or not a federal trial could be televised. The Supremes upheld a stay preventing the trial to be televised. One of the big issues here was what was going on at that trial." This trial had to do with the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage proposition. Dissenting Justice Breyer stated that a "likelihood of ‘irreparable harm' had not been shown".

Regarding election campaign regulations, "The dissent says that you can regulate speech only within 30 days of an election -- citing time, place and manner. I think that Kennedy may have gotten lost here in the idea that corporations should have a voice too. Kennedy is a big fan of the First Amendment."

Next case. "In NRG Power Marketing v. Maine Public Utilities Commission, the question was whether the power rates charged were reasonable. The Court said that the rate was presumed reasonable." That's weird. If the company sets a rate then that rate, whatever it is, must be presumed reasonable? Huh?

The Court also ruled that there continues to be a need for a voting rights act. But I'm not sure which voting rights act the speaker was talking about. Is there a Diebold voting rights act? And I just heard that Diebold changed its name -- because of too much (justly deserved) bad publicity, I would imagine.

Then our speaker went on to describe various criminal cases. Wellons v. Hall was about a man sentenced to death for rape and murder and the Atlanta court of appeals said that he was not entitled to new discovery even though jury members after his trial held a reunion and gave the judge in the case a present of genitalia-shaped chocolate. "The Supreme Court decided that if you are going to put someone to death, chocolate-shaped genitalia should not be involved."

In another case, a man who pleaded innocent wanted access to his own DNA in order to prove his innocence. "Scalia denied access, apparently because questions of innocence or guilt weren't involved here."

Then there was the John Ashcroft case, Ashcroft v. Iqbal. "Ashcroft had given an order to arrest Muslim men after 9-11. Iqbal was subjected to harsh conditions of confinement as a matter of policy set up by Ashcroft." Apparently Kennedy sided with Scalia et al. against Iqbal. Iqbal was toast.

Then the waiter served us duck comfit over yams. Yum!

"And here's a case I call 'Oops the gun went off'. A man went into a bank with a loaded gun but claimed that he didn't intend to do it. The court ruled seven to two, 'Goodbye and good luck in jail'"

Next was an immigration case where someone using an alias was charged with identity theft. The Court ruled that using an alias to work illegally was not the same as deliberate identity theft.
Then some guy made a plea bargain to get a lighter sentence at his trial and then went out and committed the same crime again before the first crime's trial. The Court then ruled that the culprit's action invalidated the plea-bargain contract and the deal was off.

Next we learned about double jeopardy. "If someone goes to trial and is ruled mentally incompetent, can he then be tried again when he does become competent?" Apparently the Supremes think that this is not a case of double jeopardy.

Then there were a couple of more cases that discussed the issue of "standing" but I'm no help to you here. By that time I was too busy eating the comfit and contemplating dessert. But this stuff is important. This is the law of the land that we are talking about. "Focus, Jane!"

I LOVED the next case, wherein Justice Scalia actually ruled against Fox News. "This is another First Amendment case regarding isolated utterances of the "F" word and the "S" word. Scalia concurred against the words."

Then there was the juicy Pleasant Grove Park case. "Pleasant Grove Park had posted the Ten Commandments and the Summum religion wanted their Seven Aphorisms posted there too. The Court ruled that the Ten Commandments were 'Government Speech' and you can't regulate 'Government Speech'." The government can say anything it wants to but we can't? Huh?

Michigan v. Fisher: Jeremy Fisher was throwing things around inside his own house, bleeding and waving a very large gun. A police officer then opened Fisher's front door, got Fisher's gun aimed at him and then left. "Fisher claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the officer, but the Court disagreed, citing the exigencies of the situation." However, this interference by the high court probably pissed off the Michigan court of appeals who had already agreed that Fisher's rights had been violated.

"In Stafford USD v. Redding, a 13-year-old girl was taken to the gym and strip-searched. Seven justices agreed that this was a violation of her rights." Apparently they didn't even tell her what they were searching for. A photo of the Jonas Brothers perhaps?

"In Kansas v. Ventris, Ventris is in jail and the government sends an informant into his cell to talk with him about his crime. Can you do this? No, because Ventris' counsel was illegally withheld." If the government was going to interrogate Ventris, he needs to have his lawyer present even if only an informant is involved. But apparently you can still use the informant's evidence in court. That's one strange incoherent ruling if you ask me.

The next case involved a courtroom that was too small to hold everyone so the poor judge in desperation held the jury selection in the too-small courtroom. "The Supreme Court ruled that all phases of a trial need to be made public." They could always rent one of those huge jumper-tents?

Here's an interesting case regarding denial of due process. "In Caperton v. Massey Coal, a West Virginia justice in this case refused to recluse himself even though he got three million dollars in campaign contributions from one of the parties." Kennedy wrote the majority decision that the justice was in the wrong. Roberts and Scalia of course thought that the justice was Doing the Right Thing -- apparently by giving Massey Coal its money's worth.

"Roberts found a reason to say that this is an area that the Supreme Court shouldn't get into." Not get into corruption on the bench? Hmmm.

Next came Rivera v Illinois.

I only have a few more cases left to describe, honest! And besides, here comes the dessert. Handmade strawberry ice cream! So much for my New Years' resolution to give up dairy.

Anyway, Rivera was an alleged gangbanger on trial for murder and his lawyer asked to not seat one of the jurors and the judge overruled his request and seated the juror anyway. So. How would the trial have come out if the juror had not been seated. Hard to say. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that it was okay that the juror had not been seated properly.

In Cone v. Bell, "Evidence was withheld by the government. Was this act a denial of due process?" Apparently Cone, who had brutally murdered two little old ladies, was arguing that he was pretty much nutso and the cops had withheld evidence of that. Although the withheld evidence wouldn't have helped to prove that Cone was insane, it is not ever a good idea to withhold evidence no matter what. "Kennedy thought that hiding evidence was a serious matter." But justices Thomas and Scalia dissented.

Are we done yet? No.

"Mohawk v. Carpenter. This case is BIG." Oh, okay. Carpenter was fired, allegedly for reporting illegal company policies regarding the hiring of illegal immigrants. Carpenter then asked Mohawk for discovery materials and Mohawk replied that he couldn't have them due to attorney-client privileges. The Supreme Court ruled that Carpenter didn't have the right to appeal Mohawk's appeal of Carpenter's appeal. I think.

"Supreme Court justices have to decide many difficult things but when we see this five-to-four split in the court year after year with regard to employment issues, this changes the structure. And the term 'Activist Judge' no longer has a meaning on this court. It has become a personal battle within the minds of each of the judges."

Then I finished my de-caf, donated to BABA's Haiti relief fund and went home, now knowing more about the workings of America's Supreme Court than I ever thought I would ever want to know. But, you know, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on those judges. You never know when they might decide to sell "We the People" out.

Oops, too late!

Disclaimer: I may not have gotten all this down verbatim. I was trying to write and eat at the same time. But most of it is spot-on. And any errors are my fault (or the Supreme Court's) -- not the speaker's.

PS: I just sent away to the Federal Election Commission for my booklet on how to run for Congress. If the Supreme Court can commit treason by selling our country to the highest bidder, what's to keep the rest of us from doing the same thing? Vote for me!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Madam Jane predicts: It's time to leave....

Last night, the wise and all-knowing Madam Jane stayed up until 5:00 am in the morning playing computer solitaire. "What in the freak did you do that for?" I asked her. "You know that your brain is gonna be all wrecked and worthless the next day." But Madam Jane just shrugged.

"After having played computer solitaire for seven or eight hours straight, in that spooky twilight time just before dawn, my brain goes into a weird hazy fugue state and I start to see through the veil that stands between us mere mortals and The Future -- as if through a glass darkly," she replied. Yeah right.

"And what I am seeing now is not good. With this new neo-con 'Massachusetts Miracle' election victory brought to us courtesy of Diebold, plus the Supreme Court decision to open the floodgates of lobby money available to Congress and the foreboding return of Karl Rove and his boys, I predict that the average American is gonna be even more screwed over in the future than he or she already is now." But are you sure that Diebold stole the election??? Never mind. Nobody seems to even care anyway -- least of all the losing Dems.

"Between Diebold Republicans owning most our voting machines and most of our Supreme Court," the Madam glumly continued, "plus 65% of our nation's wealth being spent on guns that kill people for fun and profit, the economy tanking into the pockets of the bankers, all those sweetness-and-light lies about how wonderful neo-cons are that are being spewed out at us by Fox News and corporatist-shill talk-show hosts braying 24-7 that all our problems are being caused by emasculated sissies who still believe in justice, honesty, fair play and kindness, we're pretty much all gonna be doomed fairly soon."

Guess what, Madam Jane? I didn't have to stay up to 5:00 am numbing my brain with computer solitaire to be able to tell you that! Americans seem to love having their pockets picked by rich guys in Washington and their homes foreclosed on by Wall-Street-sponsored "populists". It's like Ron White the comedian says. "There ain't no cure for stupid."

Of course it's easy for almost anyone -- even those born without The Sight -- to see all of America's problems. "But just exactly what, Madam Jane, do you suggest that we DO about all this? Did you see any rays of hope or any plans of action at all while gazing into your new computer-solitaire-generated crystal ball?" Did you?

Then M.J. adjusted her turban and glared at me with those flaming-hot all-knowing deep gypsy eyes. Then she sighed. "As a matter of fact I did. I saw it all. And there's no hope left. And it's time to get out." Fine. But where, exactly, are we all supposed to go to? The neo-cons' One World Order globalized march to the ends of the earth has pretty much taken over the entire planet. Between the World Bank, the IMF, the Pentagon's 500-odd bases in almost every country in the world, the corporatists' and oil companies' stranglehold on most natural resources, the decay of the dollar everywhere, the CIA-sponsored covert ops hovering around on almost every street corner from Tasmania to Greenland and whatever all else is going on, just exactly where are we supposed to be going to get away from this mess? The neo-cons have pretty much pooped in the nest everywhere."

"Well, I'm thinking that going to the moon would be a rather nice change of pace...."

Or you could take the easy way out like most Americans seem to be doing -- put your head in the sand, do nothing at all and kill time shopping while you're waiting around to die.

PS: Me and my family went off in search of the illusive Madam Jane but couldn't find her. We looked all over the Lawrence Hall of Science of course -- what could be more scientific than a psychic mind-reader! And here's the video to prove it:

PPS: When my friends David and Pia visited me from Italy this week, we all went out and treated ourselves to a "Weekday Combination Breakfast" at the Homemade Cafe. "You know, I like reading articles in the left-wing blogosphere most of the time but one thing I hate is that a lot of the commentators seem so pessimistic," David said. Yeah, well. There is SO much to be pessimistic about these days.

"Still and all," David continued, "there does seem to be a ground surge of people throughout the world who are sincerely working toward getting rid of our old out-dated caveman mentality in favor of more humane and positive thinking and action." Let us hope!

Right now I'm busy reading the Dalai Lama's new book, "Becoming Enlightened," and the D.L. says that the only way to alleviate our own individual suffering is to become Enlightened (No, sorry, shopping won't cut it, you'll be stylishly dressed but still be in pain). And the ONLY way to become enlightened is to do good deeds. Nothing else makes the grade. Whether it's getting a single-payer healthcare bill finally passed and thus saving 45,000 American lives a year or helping the people of Haiti recover or teaching children to read or just giving an occasional dollar to that homeless guy who is hunkered down out in the rain, you too will be well on your way to becoming enlightened and saving yourself from a world of hurt.

"But that indicates that you are being compassionate for selfish reasons only," you might say. Sure. Whatever. Whatever it takes to finally get the human race to finally start to evolve into something bigger and better than just glorified cavemen beating each other to death head with nuclear-warhead sticks. And maybe then I can finally stop being so pessimistic.

And maybe then our poor sweet Madam Jane can safely give up playing computer solitaire all night.


To purchase Katie Miranda's beautiful jewelry that integrates pre-1949 Palestine coins into her designs, click here: "The items for sale here are a unique way to express your solidarity and support; a percentage of each purchase goes to a university scholarship fund for young people in the city of al Khalil (Hebron) in Palestine."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti, Palestine & Louisiana: Land of no cement

The main difference between Cuba and Haiti seems to be that Cuba finally gave up waiting around for the powers-that-be in Washington to do right by it and decided to go its own way -- whereas Haiti was pretty much forced to stay sheltered under the wing of American corporatists' benevolence for the past century. Cuba now offers all of its citizens a free education up to and past university level and there is no one starving in Cuba. Just compare that to the shape that Haiti is in now -- and was in even before the earthquake.

It's the little things that count I guess.

The main difference between Vermont and some of our less fortunate states -- states like Mississippi, Louisiana, California and others that had bought the whole "privatization" package and now appear to be on the verge of bankruptcy after having given a bunch of corporatist con-men all of their money -- seems to be that Vermont didn't fall for all that private-businesses-can-do-it-better corporate welfare propaganda crap being pumped out by the media. Instead, Vermont simply developed its own healthcare system, remained solvent and went its own way.

No matter what they may tell you, no one can make a profit from performing necessary-but-unprofitable functions that benefit the public -- unless of course you either charge extra money to cover your profit margin as well as your goods and services or else deal out shoddy merchandise. Duh.

The main difference between Israel and Palestine appears to be that parts of Palestine have no cement. Israel apparently played ball with the American globalization rich kids and Palestine didn't. And as a result, now no one is allowed to import CEMENT into Gaza. Cement? Can you imagine life without cement? If you can't, stop by Gaza and see for yourself -- if they will let you in.

There's a moral here somewhere and I personally believe that the moral is this: If you play ball with the Washington-driven "Ugly American" globalization One-World-Order get-rich-quick-at-any-cost privatization profit machines, then sooner or later you too are gonna end up looking like Palestine, Haiti or post-Katrina Louisiana. But if you don't play ball with the rich kids, you may risk ending up with no cement. Either way, the rich kids win and the rest of us lose.

PS: If anyone has any suggestions on how I can be allowed into Haiti (or even Gaza Afghanistan or Louisiana!) as a journalist or as a volunteer (I have knowledge and experience with emergency pain relief, infant nurturing and hospice care), please let me know.

PPS: Speaking of states that have fallen for corporatist propaganda to their own peril, I'd really like to recommend that a hand-recount of the ballots in Massachusetts be undertaken immediately. We all know who brought that electronic vote-counting software to the Boston tea party on January 19 -- and it wasn't We the People.

But if Scott Brown did win the January 19 election fair and square (which I doubt), then the people of the great state of Massachusetts have just cut off their noses to spite corporatist Barack Obama's face -- by electing yet another one of the corporatist foxes who helped invade their hen house in the first place. It's a lose-lose situation for yet another American state. And it's a good thing that Massachusetts isn't prone to earthquakes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eat your heart out Donner Party: No snow in the Sierra Nevadas

My daughter Ashley's boyfriend Hugo had never seen snow before and seeing snow was very high up on his to-do list. "Can we drive up and see snow on my birthday?" he asked. That sounded like a reasonable request so we all snagged up baby Mena, slapped her in a carseat and headed off for the snow. And drove. And drove.

"You'll see snow almost immediately after you drive past Sacramento," the internet assured us before we left Berkeley and took I-80 east toward the Sierra Nevadas. But when we reached Placerville it was still sunny and warm.

Then we stopped at the Boeger winery to give young Mena a break and let her run around in the vineyard. "How far to the snow?" we asked the vineyard people.

"About 20 minutes." But two hours later, we were still driving. 2,000 feet -- no snow. 4,000 feet -- no snow. 6,000 feet -- no snow.

Finally at 6,500 feet, just 50 miles west of Lake Tahoe, away the freak up in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas, in 65-degree weather, we finally found snow.

Hugo loved the snow. Mena had no idea what to do with it. I complained about cold feet. Ashley slid down a hill on her bottom -- in one foot of snow. (Ashley says that there was at least two feet of snow up there but she's wrong. That was just the left-over stuff from the snow plow. Had there actually been two feet of snow on the ground, I would never have gotten out of the car.)

Remember the ill-fated Donner Party back in 1846 -- and how, even though it was only October, they ran into a severe blizzard and got snowed at 5,698 feet (that's 1,000 feet lower than we were) up in the wretched Sierra Nevadas for the next three months and couldn't get out and had to resort to cannibalism just to survive? Imagine if they had been crossing the Sierras during October of 2010! They coulda all walked out alive and been safely home sitting by a warm fire in San Francisco in plenty of time for Thanksgiving. And even if they had crossed the Sierras like we did -- in January -- they still would have made it safely down to Frisco by Valentines Day.

PS: Here's a video of me, Ashley, Hugo and young Mena cavorting in some hard-to-find snow.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Women without men: Problems in Iraq and in Berkeley

Recently an African-American friend of mine asked me a rather strange question. "Do you know what really annoys me?" he asked. I don't know, what? That Obama sold out healthcare? The high price of gold? My current bad hair day? Sarah Palin pretending to be a populist? What? "It's the way that some African-American women just look at me like I was a piece of fresh meat." Oh dear. Do we really want to go there?

"Sometimes you can just see their minds working. 'If I can just convince him that I'm sexy, then he'll want me for my body and if he wants me badly enough, then he'll marry me and then we can have children.' I call it 'Motherhood Fever'. And it just drives me nuts."

I can get behind that. Babies are totally cute -- and for a very good reason. They are purposely made that way in order to preserve the species. If a baby is cute enough, then you will be more likely to put up with all that diaper-changing and incessant crying and having to walk the floor with them at night.

In fact, I'm even about to bounce up to the local maternity hospital and ask them if I can volunteer in the baby nursery there. Why not? I'm a world record-holder for getting a colicky baby to smile -- two minutes or less! You got a colicky one-month-old? Call me! I'm there! But I digress.

"These time-ticking lady baby machines don't even see me as a person," continued my friend. "It's enough to put one off of sex forever. Whenever I see one of those women coming in those tight spandex dresses that show everything, all I want to do is run!" I used to be that way. I used to equate sex with love. Back in the 1960s, almost every man in Berkeley wanted me because I was HOT. But none of them loved me for myself. But then finally it dawned on me. Men DO NOT equate sex with love. Except perhaps for Tiger Woods. I totally understand where these women are coming from. I used to be that way too.

"Will somebody PLEEZE up the supply of eligible Black men so I can just get on with my life!" sighed my friend.

Hey, that's easy to do. Let's stop putting so many African-American men in jail for crimes that don't involve others (such as Lil' Wayne being jailed for smoking pot and owning guns -- where is the NRA when you really need it?) and spend all the tax money we save on better schools and more jobs. Problem solved.

And then I got to thinking about how my friend's situation might also apply to the men of Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps as many as one million men have been killed over there in the last nine years, plus, to quote a recent article in Yahoo News, "Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq.... The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad, has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009." Just think about that.

What if the women of Iraq and Afghanistan are now developing "Motherhood Fever" too? Then the counterinsurgents will not only have to be out fighting off the U.S. military all the time, but also they will have to be spending every spare moment fighting off prospective brides as well. With all that cat-fighting going on, it's becoming like an Afghan version of "The Bachelor".

I got an answer to that problem too. Just ship all the excess women that have been created by "war" in the Middle East off to rural China. There's a vast shortage of women in rural China I've been told. Arab women would be appreciated in China. And I bet that African-American women would be appreciated there too. Heck, ship me off there as well -- but I would prefer not to marry a farmer. Plowing ruins the nails.

PS: I think that white American women probably also have the same problem as African-American and Arab women. Apparently the toll on the number of eligible white American males as a result of the "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan has been fairly high too -- much higher than we think. There are a lot less American men than there used to be due to all those unnecessary Bush-Obama administration "wars" in the Middle East. If you don't just count the soldiers who have died in-country but also count in all those soldiers who died after being evacuated, all the military suicides, all the victims of Gulf War Syndrome, all the violent deaths of victims of returned soldiers with PTSD and all the soldiers who nobody would want to marry anyway because they have already died inside their minds after returning from the horrors of those wars, then you have a significantly lower number of eligible white American men for all America's desperate "Bachelorettes".

According to Army Times, "Americans should prepare to accept hundreds of U.S. casualties each month in Afghanistan during spring offensives with enemy forces." Then they quote Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of international affairs at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as saying, “What I want to do is signal that this thing is going to be $5 billion to $10 billion a month and 300 to 500 killed and wounded a month by next summer. That’s what we probably should expect. And that’s light casualties,"

Long-time war correspondent Lori Gricker just published a book entitled, "Afterwar: Veterans From a World of Conflict". In Chris Hedges' review of Gricker's book in the Los Angeles Times, he stated that, "Those who pay the price, those who are maimed forever by war, are shunted aside, crumpled up and thrown away. They are war's refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them.... The message they bring is too painful for us to hear." But these huge numbers of American men who are no longer on the marriage market still exist.

"How many?" you might ask.

In 2007, blogger-activist Clive Boustred collected data from a Veterans Administration website and added up the figures. "On page 7 of the official VA report, the number of U.S. soldiers partaking in the illegal invasion of the Gulf is listed as 6,838,541 soldiers. Just below that the VA estimated number of living soldiers is listed at 4,525,865. In other words 2,312,676 US Gulf War Veterans are dead! Not many active duty soldiers serving from 1990 are likely to have died from old age or natural causes by April 2007. The report details deaths in various conflicts as reported to the VA by DoD, utterly contradicting the government and mainstream media number of 4,000 dead."

With regard to the more recent Middle East "wars," Boustred supplied the following information: "Total U.S. Military Gulf War Deaths: 73,846," based on 17,847 deployed deaths and 55,999 non-deployed deaths. "Total number of disability claims filed: 1,620,906. Disability Claims amongst Deployed: 407,911. Total 'Undiagnosed Illness' (UDX) claims: 14,874. Disability Claims amongst Non-Deployed: 1,212,995." And that number has probably risen considerably since 2007.

That's a whole big bunch of non-eligible marriageable men!

According to journalist T. Christian Miller, there is also a big problem among contractors who worked abroad for such companies as Blackwater and KBR and came back disabled and maimed for life. Are they being counted too? Not according to Miller. In an article entitled, "Injured Abroad, Neglected at Home: Labor Dept. Slow to Help War Zone Contractors," Miller stated that, "More than 1,600 civilian [contractors] have died and 37,000 have reported injuries."

I myself wrote an article on the subject of injured returned contractors -- regarding an acquaintance of mine named Dave Crow. Dave allegedly committed suicide after returning from Iraq, where he was exposed to toxic waste. Whether he killed himself or died some other way, Dave had become a "Dead Man Walking" from the moment he came home from Iraq. "I was only over there for four months," he told me. "I was a truck driver for KBR. The money was good. But our camp was located over the site of a former depleted uranium dump and I got really sick. My body started just wasting away and now I'm weak, unhealthy, living in a trailer outside of San Diego and basically screwed up." Our Dave is now dead. No wedding date for him.

PPS: in Argentina last month, I heard a lot of talk about the mistreatment of both soldiers and veterans of the Falkland Island wars. Apparently Argentina's military dictatorship had wanted this war as a means of distracting people away from hatred of their totalitarian regime. So the dictatorship sent a bunch of ill-equipped and ill-trained young boys out to the Falklands in sub-zero-degree temperatures to die horrendous, painful and unnecessary deaths for no reason. These boys were not even given warm overcoats. Many -- if not most -- of them simply froze to death. Argentinians are still really pissed off about that -- especially the women.

And if I was a young Afghan, Iraqi or American woman today, I would be pissed off too -- and angry enough to put an end to all war!

PPS: If anyone knows how I could volunteer to help out in Haiti, please let me know. I have knowledge and experience with emergency Jin shin Jyutsu pain relief techniques and with P'howa pre-death counseling. And if you want to make a donation, my friend Arla suggests this site:

Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (H.E.R.F.) has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti. ALL MONEY GOES DIRECTLY TO GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS.

There are two ways to donate: By Pay Pal at: <>
or Mail -- check made out to: "Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC". Donations tax deductible. Send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
EBSC is a non-profit 502(c)(3) organization tax ID#94-249753

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cancer gets a makeover: Chanel and Mary Kay to the rescue!

"Hey, Ashley," I said to my youngest daughter, "wanna come keep me company while I get a makeover?"

"Sure." What a good daughter she is! But this isn't just any makeover. This is a makeover sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association -- and its whole goal is to help cancer patients feel good about themselves.

Several years ago, some creepy plastic surgeon told me that I had just a touch of skin cancer on my face and then proceeded to cut off my entire top lip. "Oh you can't even tell that it's gone," most of my friends said. But I can tell. So when this makeover class was offered I got all excited and pleased. I want one! I want my lip to "Feel good..Look better!" like the class brochure says.

First one cosmetologist taught us how to tie scarves and wear wigs. I didn't have a problem with my hair falling out due to chemotherapy but the other women in my class did. "I get chemo once every three weeks," the woman next to me said. "I've had it one time already and my hair has already started to fall out."

"How many chemo sessions will you have?"

"We're hoping that four should do it but you never can tell." She had breast cancer.

The woman sitting next to her also had breast cancer. "My hair came down to my waist just three weeks ago. And now I'm practically bald." Then she expressed her worst fear. "I just don't want to look like a sick cancer patient."

Hats to the rescue! A volunteer group called "Knots of Love" crochets hats for chemo patients. They're mostly in the 1930s cloche style. They're totally cute. "I'd wear one of those," said Ashley. Then they taught us how to cut the bottoms off T-shirts and turn them into coolness head wraps. And Ashley suggested wearing hoop earrings as well -- to add a touch of panache. And I of course suggested big, bold colorful glasses -- like glasses manufacturers keep refusing to make. Have you ever noticed that almost every pair of glasses on sale in the entire WORLD are stupid and unflattering rectangular shapes in only two or three dull colors? It's true. But I digress.

"Cut your hair BEFORE you start chemo," the instructors warned the class, "or you will just feel bad when you see it all falling out. And stop getting manicures and pedicures unless you bring your own tools to the salon. As a cancer patient, you are more susceptible to infections than most and need to take extra precautions. Also, only use light-colored nail polish. The darker shades and acrylic nails have too many chemicals. You already have enough chemicals in your bodies. You don't need any more. Also avoid showering in very hot water, to keep your skin from drying out. And put oil or lotion on your skin before showering. Cetaphil is good.

"The first week of chemo is the worst."

And then they brought out the cosmetics. We each got our own gift bag. There must have been hundreds of dollars worth of war paint in those bags. Geez Louise. If you gotta have cancer, you might as well enjoy whatever aspect of this horrible disease that you can.

"Did they detect your cancer with a mammogram?" I asked the woman next to me.

"No, it was too deep." And the woman next to her had the same problem. No lumps or nothing. Now with me it was just the opposite. I've had mammograms, biopsies and lord knows what all else -- but thankfully no cancer. Except for my lip. But I was too focused on trying on hats to remember exactly how these women's cancers DID get detected. Sorry about that.

"Now we are going to tell you how to shape your eyebrows with your new NYC eyebrow pencil." Good luck with that one. I looked like a clown. "You could practice at home," the cosmetologist said, tactfully. Ashley volunteered to give me lessons. Fine.

Next came the Bobbi Brown eye shadow. "Use a light color for all the area from your lashes to your brow. Then fill in the crease with a darker color." They gave us shades of tan and brown.

"But what about blue and purple?" I asked.

"Uh no." Ashley was firm. But I bet that's just because she coveted the bottle of Chanel iridescent blue eye shadow that I got. Hey that's mine!

We also learned how to use American Beauty blush, Mary Kay cleansing cream, Clarins foundation makeup, Physicians Formula concealer and Este Lauder powder in a coolness golden compact case. Then came the important part. "Jane, you need to enlarge your upper lip with this Wet N Wild lip liner and then use the Aveda lipstick to make it pop." Which I did. Hey, not bad!

Then came the MOST important part. We all gave everyone in the class -- and each other -- high-fives and hugs. And Ashley promised to buy them all a scoop of Ciao Bella gelato in North Berkeley (she works there) on the day that they finished their chemo. Brave women all. Even me. And nice women too. Have you ever noticed that most cancer patients seem to be both very brave -- and very nice. Hell, even I had fun and laughed a lot.

Cancer got a makeover. Yaay!

Then Ashley and I went off to Carl's Jr to celebrate our victory with Superstar burgers and to show off my new look. Angelina Jolie, eat your heart out! My upper lip is PERFECT right now. And here's the video to prove it too.

PS: I was a little hesitant to write about this "Look Good..Feel Better" makeover class but as I was leaving one of the instructors asked me to tell as many people as I could about this wonderful program. So I am. If you know any women with cancer, tell them about it. And even men too. Here's the link to help find a program near you:

PPS: If anyone knows how I could volunteer to go help out in Haiti, please let me know. I have knowledge and experience with Jin Shin Jyutsu emergency first aid techniques and with Tibetan P'howa pre-death counseling aids. And if you want to make a monetary donation, my friend Arla suggests this site:

Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (H.E.R.F.) has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti. ALL MONEY GOES DIRECTLY TO GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS.

There are two ways to donate: By Pay Pal at: <>

Or by mail -- check made out to: "Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC". Send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

EBSC is a non-profit 502(c)(3) organization tax ID#94-249753. Donations tax deductible.