Saturday, August 1, 2009

To those who stop by here from time to time -- please look for me on I've got a home out there in cyberpolitical newsland --a newsite with a liberal and progressive bent. I feel it's a perfect home for me, and I hope you'll come visit me there.

I will probably stop by here when I'm mad enough to spit nails about something or other --

but the money must be made
the bills must be paid
and me
I'm still feelin' nailed to the Cross. (See Bank of America ABOVE in "Blogging My Recession")


Julie Bryant

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Death Penalty in California, Again

I understand there is the possibility of starting executions at San Quentin again! I strongly object to the existence of the death penalty -- either in Marin County, where I live, or in my beloved state of California, or, for that matter, anywhere. So many problems with executions:

1) That "thou shalt not kill" thing, which is expressed in all major religions.

2) I understand it's hugely expensive for the state to kill the condemned, even more expensive than keeping them penned up for life. I'm not entirely certain why, as this seems illogical, but it's also insanely expensive to warehouse them, so you have -- no, WE the People have a problem, and it's a big one. Many of us have seen these prison shows flash by us, and it is or should be clear that our prison system as it is now is a terrible, almost medieval reflection upon our society. I don't understand a society that spends millions to kill a man and won't spend dollars to keep after-school programs open. What hope is there for spiritual strength in a society that allows such degrading treatment of other human beings?

3) We don't always execute the right people, do we? No, and in fact besides killing a bunch of innocent people we still have unknown numbers of them confined like lab animals in our massive gulags. American exceptionalism. And don't get me started on those dreadful pot smokers incarcerated for nothing, in my opinion.

But back to the death penalty and those criminals sentenced to die. What's the hurry to get these benighted souls off the planet? They'll just reincarnate again before you know it, probably not having learned a thing, ready to raise fresh hell all over again.

You'll notice I don't count that last statement as "4" as it's obviously a belief based on a religion including reincarnation as a tenet, which certainly doesn't make it true. Even if I believe it, find it logical and think everyone else should see things as I do, they don't. I have a fine opinion of myself and my belief system, but I have no more business foisting what I believe on others than they do on me. Except -- for some this question is literally and obviously a matter of life and death, and this is EXACTLY when the code of Law informed by the best that is in us must be applied.

The truth is, we don't know what it does to us as human beings to take a life, to participate in what future archaeologists might see as a pagan ritual "sacrifice" of human life, only slightly less violent than older civilizations. I imagine explorers from another era finding our electric chairs and gas chambers and wonder what they would think. We don't know what "to kill" really comes down to in its entirety; we do know and have always known that it is a serious thing indeed, and I don't trust us as a society to make this call at all anymore. When a country fails to follow its own laws or international laws, makes war against tin pot tyrants for suspicious motivations and obstructs the investigation of high crimes against humanity -- like any other relationship where you've been lied to, the trust is gone.

Ultimately, I just don't like the idea of the State being involved in executions, given how very badly bureaucracies tend to function. And that's #4!

I think, with our packed death rows and our burgeoning prison population living in subhuman conditions, that we have become a violator of human rights in deep denial of our sins against humanity. We've got to clean up our act. Even if we, with our terribly inefficient bureaucracy, make our executions a thrifty, perfectly painless process, and are NEVER wrong about whom we kill, we'll still always, ALWAYS be left with "thou shalt not kill" to reflect upon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blogging My Recession

A note that I wrote in my journal on April 09, 2009:

"Well, swell. We get to watch these heart-wrenching stories about banks forcing families to vacate homes when they have nowhere else to go -- this is STILL the land of the Banks and they do not let you forget it. My nephew and I began a loan modification with BofA last January '08. We were told NOT to pay any mortgage fees while the negotiation was occurring. After three months lo and behold -- foreclosure papers started to arrive because they hadn't gotten any money from us. Meanwhile the mortgage itself was being thrown back and forth between BofA and Freddie Mac ... and a rogue foreclosure cell continued to operate and thrive while we were going through the SECOND ROUND of loan modifications. This rogue cell continued to do what processes in gigantic bureaucracies often do -- despite our successful round of negotiations with BofA (even though they did NOT want to talk with us did NOT want to help us). One day a rogue Realtor who hadn't had a sale in 3 1/2 years received orders (improper documentation, bad procedure, we received no warnings, no notifications) from someone somewhere, and he took it upon himself to seize our home. Suddenly all negotiations stopped -- if my nephew had not persisted and forced them to admit their errors the house would be lost. As it is, we have been locked out of it since last August -- and THIS is AMERICA??? The only reason the bank will even listen to us is because there is a lawyer involved. Who gets lucky and finds the right people?

I found the services of a legally driven loan mod firm (lawyer on board) with a BBB rating of A, and we're moving along nicely. I wanted to sue the Bank for the year of stress that exacerbated my brain weasels (bipolar disorder) to the point where I could not fight to save myself, but my adviser laughed. As if!! I guess whomsoever is stupid enough to sue an entity like BofA gets tied up in court in class action lawsuits that take forever, and the Banks have the resources to make them last forever. Justice isn't an issue with banks -- I can still remember the old "Little Nell" melodramas I learned when I was young -- "if you don't give me the deed to your ranch I'm gonna tie you to the railroad tracks" and the bankers were always, always the villains.

I personally find it unbearable to watch sheriffs or police personnel forcibly removing families from their homes -- last night on the news we saw a desperate, disturbed man robbing a convenience store in front of his child. It was awful, heartbreaking. But what about the trauma inflicted by the presence of the police forcing a family frozen by fear and in denial onto the streets? We need more social workers handling this sort of thing -- or less of this sort of thing. That would be my preference -- I want my Great Society back. Or if you want to call it a Shining City on a Hill -- I don't give a damn. I just want our people to have homes, and by god that includes ME."

That note was written as I said in April. Last week I found out that shortly after I wrote those words, the legal firm I'd mentioned told my nephew that they couldn't help us. The President's new policies apparently don't allow negotiations on already foreclosed-upon properties. (Even if the damned bank took it illegally??) Liberty and JUSTICE for all?

Funny how neither said nephew nor the legal representative bothered to tell me I have lost my house and that represents about $500 K of real dollars! In a way I don't blame them -- who wants to tell a woman she has lost everything? This last weekend I felt raw grief for my lost house, career dreams and life savings. I cannot begin to describe my feelings when I started to comprehend my losses -- I raged and shrieked and sobbed and at a certain point the very rawness of my pain was so great that I drugged myself into a stupor and slept it off. I don't have any friends that are lawyers, and only know what I have heard -- that fighting BofA is useless because they will tie you up in court for the rest of your life -- just because they can. And me without money for a lawyer.

This is only one story of thousands -- and in another time things could have gone in just the opposite direction. But still, the truth is I wasn't savvy enough to bear the main responsibility for such a costly project, and I never imagined the extraordinary dishonesty of Lake County contractors. But -- damn, that house is beautiful. Beautiful and solid, my gift to a transitional neighborhood. Ooog, whenever the Prez looks down his nose at citizens "flipping" houses I want to say "WAIT!! That's not what I was trying to do!! I wanted a career in Green Building! You don't understand!" I did write him a letter, though. Injustice is injustice. Now what? I just don't know. I really just don't know. Ha, can you imagine getting an actual response from the President to a letter like that? A HELPFUL response, not just "oh sorry you happened to get squished; by the way use this link for Party contributions."

Actually, I can. But -- I also believe in Magic.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on Torture

Dick Cheney has come out strongly in favor of what the world considers torture -- he favors a whole slate of "methods" euphemistically known as "enhanced interrogation techniques". These "techniques" are now irrevocably identified with our nation. They had the American Presidential Seal of Approval, and if we had it once, we could have it again. Cheney says that we need these "tools" at our disposal for extreme emergencies; that we only waterboarded a few times.

We have now established that Cheney is the "bad apple" of the "bad apple theory" that still has scapegoat grunt Charles Graner in the brig. Charles Graner and his pyramid pile of naked Iraqis were a long way from Dick Cheney, but there is a direct path from one to the other. We know now from what we've learned about Gitmo and AbuGhraib that an extreme culture of cruel and degrading treatment of other human beings existed in our armed services. I submit that you cannot have one without the other. To have such behavior condoned by the President and the Vice President, despite the advice of men actually educated and experienced in warfare, is to give a wink and a nod to the spread of cruelty downwards. Look at what has occurred and tell me otherwise.

I respect President Obama, and I wonder what he's really thinking about all this, and where they are strategically. Dick Cheney is making a case in the minds of our least educated and most fearful populace that torture/cruelty as a way of doing things is right and lawful and even Christian, and as long as he isn't held accountable in some way there will be a meaningful, even shocking percentage of Americans who think he's right. He must be disgraced so that his belief system is not allowed to stand. I have read too much commentary from the general population in favor of what the rest of the world thinks of as torture, and I hold Cheney as responsible for that. I am hopeful that the natural workings of Law in this country will bring him to account, but I am far, far from certain.

Next door to me lives a Veteran from WWII, and he's disgusted by accounts of waterboarding, etc. "We didn't do any of that," he told me once. They were the heroes! They even treated the enemy decently. What has happened to us? Which "U.S." do we prefer to be? I know my answer. I would like to see the leaders of the past administration discredited in their vigorous defense of ugly, dehumanizing methods. "Do unto others" is one phrase that springs to mind. Does Cheney go to church and call himself a Christian? He shouldn't -- he's a hypocrite. He really is our Darth Vader, and I want his speaking platform taken from him. He doesn't deserve to be speaking as an authority, as he is corrupt and without empathy for the suffering of others. Furthermore, his attempts to undermine the current administration are contemptible. He has gone far beyond the pale, and I would like to see his belief system judged -- say by a collection of his peers -- 12 would do. We MUST define ourselves as Americans in this new Millenium -- who we are and what we aspire to. There should be no forgotten prisoners rotting away in foreign lands -- never again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Should the U.S. Torture? Why Did We?

Oh my god. I cannot believe that as a civil society -- or one that pretends to be a civil society when it is convenient -- we are even having this discussion. Pursuant to the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, a thorough airing of this subject was had, and it included an examination of all the methods used by the Nazis, Japanese, etc. At that point we still had a strong mythological sense of ourselves as "the good guys", and as a Nation that was our high point. "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" -- I still remember believing that. When the Conventions were adopted, the U. S. agreed with most of the world that we would not practice such things as Waterboarding, with its roots in the Spanish Inquisition. We even executed at least one person for practicing it!

When we began to "practice" this form of torture, apparently we did it so badly I hear they routinely drowned detainees. They eventually got the bright idea of having doctors monitor their tormentees, thereby subverting those doctors relationships with the Hippocratic Oath. I've been cruising around looking at politically neutral websites and I am disheartened to see how many people in this country favor torture. My friends laugh at my naiveté. Always have, always will. So who cares -- this is what I think.

There are at least two basic concerns. One is that of the pragmatist, who simply says that the information gained by cruel methods will produce unreliable information. This is a given, a fact told to us by respected Military professionals worldwide. You might get a correct answer along with all the screaming and gasping and near-drowning, but you won't know and you'll waste time. Professionals know this.

This leads me to believe that there are those in high places that tortured because they could. Some people probably enjoyed it. Some did as they were told. But pragmatically, if it doesn't work, why bother? And if they were told by leading military authorities before-hand that it didn't work, why did they insist upon using such obscene methods? Personally, among the gang that was BushCo -- let's include W, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and Rice.

I believe there is the possibility that at least one was a psychopath -- a person incapable of empathy -- and there were at least a few sociopaths. They ALL seem like sadists. Now I admit to arm-chair analysis, but I'd love to hear an eminent psychiatrist or two analyze THESE guys. I was relieved to hear one of Condoleeza's Legal guys say that State was anti-torture and argued against it -- but she signed off on it, so what can you say? She'll have to live with whatever her culpability is -- I doubt the others have any capacity to feel remorse. They still think that "enhanced methods of interrogation" work.

Experts know that relationship-building is a far better method for purposes of information gathering than the infliction of pain. If you are dealing, for example, with a Muslim prisoner -- far better to call in the highest Imam or spiritual counselor of HIS brand of Islam (no Sunnis for Shi'ites!) and let the Imam remind the prisoner that Islam not a violent religion, and in this fashion gain the confidence of the man. This method is one that has been used successfully far more often than getting somebody's resistance up by slamming them around as though we were no better than gorillas.

The other consideration is moral. A FOX (!) journalist put it best when he said (loose quote), slamming his fists on the table "I don't give a rat's a** if it works. We are AMERICA!! We don't f*cking torture!" And that is how I feel. We are better than that. Or we should be. If Americans get so worked up about their religions -- and we do -- then why are we so ambivalent about the issue of torture?

If you want to know what Jesus would do -- ask yourself and I think the answer will come very quickly. Torture is against all laws of Spiritual Man and also Religious Man. It is against the very Laws of Man as we have devised them in our current day Code of Law, as represented by the Geneva Conventions. War is a loathsome and primitive way of settling earthly squabbles. But since we ARE still that stupid, let's at least play fair. And that means not creating an entire subculture of goons who will scorch your testicles for fun -- these guys will end up on our local police squad or as prison guards.

Has anyone thought about that? What happens to the men and women who have, in the words of one soldier (profiled in an early article about the Iraq War in Rolling Stone magazine), done things in Iraq they'd be put in jail for the rest of their lives for in regular society? Especially the ones who develop a taste for torture? I can see them now, spreading their wisdom throughout the already hideous penal system. We absolutely MUST continue to support the International Laws that govern our behavior relative to the rest of the world. We like to pretend that we are heroic -- in between bombings of Hiroshima and fiddling around down in Latin America. Supporting such "methods" of interrogation gives the lie to that myth. I rather liked the America of my youth and innocence -- what happened to all that?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dear Senator Boxer,

First of all -- oh how proud we are to be Californians and to have as representatives the extraordinary Senators Boxer and Feinstein, Madame Speaker Pelosi, and our Representative Lynn Woolsey -- what a group, what accomplishments!

I felt it important -- my family and I felt it important -- to contact you and present our views on the abuses of Justice by the last administration, and the proper way of dealing with such things as the illegal buildup to the Iraq war. So many lives were lost because of the ideology of a few and the passivity of the many. As I have long suspected and as we now know, we were living for 8 years in the grip of an administration with delusions as to how much power the Executive branch should have. Any President whose legal counsel tells him that he can pick me or anyone else off the street as a suspected terrorist -- even strike my home if he wished -- that his wish alone is enough -- I mean it is clear to me that somewhere a line was crossed. The result -- we Americans have bombed -- in our delicate, diplomatic way -- a wide swath through the Middle East in a paranoid display that cost the lives of how many hundreds of thousands we will never know.

We were so insulated from what was happening over there. I was in London in July 2003 or so and I bought a Guardian newspaper. I saw pictures that in one moment told me what this war was doing to our soldiers. There had been some violent interchange in the streets of Baghdad, probably a lot of frustration on our side, and a dead tank in flames -- our helicopters were flying away. But a few men came on the street dancing around the tank and our helicopter came back to shoot them and they did and there were pictures and it was ghastly and no one could see that and think what we were doing was good. An Iraqi man pleading for his life while being shot to death from above -- but we didn't get to see it, and we are knee deep in blood and WE MUST FACE THIS IN OURSELVES, WE MUST ATONE AS A COUNTRY -- WE MUST SEE WHAT WE HAVE DONE BEFORE WE CAN MOVE ON. WE HAVE BLOOD ON OUR COLLECTIVE HANDS, AND UNTIL WE KNOW HOW WE CAME TO UNLEASH SUCH DESTRUCTION ON TO OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD -- WE CANNOT LET THIS GO. WE MUST EXAMINE OUR PAST.

I have no wish to see dear delusional George II rot in jail, but look what he has done to our national integrity, our constitution, our right to due process and habeus corpus -- oh good god you know. We feel utterly strongly that our country -- our beloved country has committed criminal acts against a sovereign nation for illegal reasons. We are feared and despised -- or we were before the election!

The truth will ultimately be the best medicine for this nation, and we can't gloss over it. If we don't face it -- well, someday somebody like Sarah Palin will talk about the "special powers of the vice presidency" and decide to exercise them because nobody did a damned thing when the President of the United States took the country into a BAD war -- he ignored all of us and everyone stood helplessly by while he did as he pleased. The nation is bankrupt. We may never recover our former standing -- and you know what? That may be just as well -- look what we do with our power -- we don't plant and heal and teach -- we bomb people into submission. I was so ashamed to be from this country for 8 years; but things are looking up -- God Bless Patrick Leahey -- so we are definitely in favor of some sort of Truth Commission -- by the Justice Department if necessary -- so that whatever powers the Executive branch may have gathered unto itself can be exposed and neutralized. We want to know what happened so that necessary safeguards can be implemented.

Just our opinions -- but after 8 years of protesting and watching this thing unfold -- knowing EXACTLY where it would go, it does seem that there SHOULD BE SOME NATIONAL EDUCATION ABOUT THE WHOLE THING! SOME PROCESS OF AMERICAN UNDERSTANDING. MAYBE ABOUT HOW MIGHT DOES NOT EQUAL RIGHT.

It's not a matter of vengeance -- it's a matter of our international standing. It is a matter of national shame and healing. We are so quick to turn on tyranny in other nations -- can we bear to see our own flirtation with it?? Can we look at our culpability, our fear, our capitulation?

Thank you Senator Boxer,

and then I signed off with the usual family signature, the four of us. I know she is in agreement with us but she needs the tangible support of her constituents. Germany was made to face its period of national shame and so we must examine ourselves before others take the trouble for us. It's our responsibility -- we broke our own laws, and we must own up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 18, 2009

I am so very tired of Senator Back-Stabbing McCain, who became Gollum-esque ("Lord of the Rings" ) the minute he seemed to make his back-room deal with former President Bush. Around the time he answered Jon Stewart's question about having gone to the dark side with what amounted to a "yes" he had changed from a man you could really trust to speak the uncomfortable truth into a toad licking "Bushie". To watch the disintegration of Senator McCain's character was utterly painful, though I must admit I loved it when he admitted to Jon Stewart that he'd gone over to the dark side. From what I can tell, he hasn't come back. I don't know why he seems to have such hard feelings for the new President, aside from getting beaten in the election! Those several million votes they managed to steal for McCain didn't help them -- (see Greg Palast's writings to confirm that statement, and remember how confident McCain was, saying that he was looking for victory in "small margins" -- whatever THAT meant!)

Seriously, though -- why be such a jerk? Why even accept a dinner in your honor from a man you clearly despise and intend to stop at every opportunity? The campaign is over, Senator. Please, for the good of the Country, please give it up. That's what you all ask of us every time Democrats are in even the barest of majorities -- give it up for the good of the country. Well, now it's your turn. I don't like your lack of mannerliness towards this most gracious of Presidents. His knowledge of economics is clearly so much deeper than yours -- why not stop fighting a losing battle and join up with your team, Team America, once again.

At first I was shocked by McCain's behavior, but it simply fits in with my theory that his mind has gone south to winter before it finally flies free. I don't know what he is up to but I want him to go away. His ideas are as old and tired as he is. His wife is clearly miserable and possibly having an affair (National Enquirer had some very convincing photos of her making out with some stringy haired troll in Texas, and the article said folks have seen them around town together.) Well John McCain should just go home and stop being an obstructionist force in this desperate time. Make his wife happy in last years, if nothing else, and let our President get to work. OR make himself useful instead of whining about how mean the Democrats are being to him, and how 'if this is change we can believe in nyah nyah nyah!"

He let the Bush administration get away with literal murder PLUS bad policy. It didn't seem to bother him when he was um, how did that wretch Limbaugh put it, something like "bending over, grabbing the ankles" and taking it from the last SIR Mr. President SIR Bush the Younger. It didn't seem to bother him at all during those long soul defiling years when he flogged W's Loser Proposals until there was no discernible difference between the two of them. I am continually surprised by the smallness of that certain block in the GOP. What a disappointment for any kind of bi-partisan or post-partisan movement, and more's the pity. What we have left is the party of McCain and Limbaugh that latest Clark Kent on the block, that Minority Whipped Cantor person.

Regarding the RNC's
freshly pulled ad campaign, to the tune of the infamous Aerosmith Hooker song "Back in the Saddle" -- oh, but how can we miss you when you won't go away?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The President Deserves a Chance, so Back Off!!

I think, (perhaps because I NEED to) that History has a way of producing, when the world is in extremis, extraordinary people of great character to to take on the tests at hand. I believe that President Obama is one of those people. I believe that he has a lot to learn,yes. But he has been smart enough to surround himself with people like (love him!) Joe Biden and (love her!) Hillary Clinton, who DO have more experience. Mr. Obama has shown himself to be remarkably astute when it comes to following the real Will of the People, and I believe that he really does know he has a limited amount of time to steady the Ship of State.

Truthfully, it's the PEOPLE I worry about -- yammer yammer, yak yak, pick a little talk a little pick a little talk a little -- christ they're about to pick this guy to pieces and it's only been a few weeks. The American People have their Collective Panties in a bunch, and I'm personally sick of it. This is the best candidate, man or woman, that we've had in the Oval Office in years, and EVERYBODY PLEASE WOULD YOU CONTROL YOURSELVES???? YES, HE'S READY, ALREADY!! Big Bill Clinton was right -- nobody is ever really prepared for the job. So shut the f*ck up, PLEASE, and let the guy plus his gorgeous wife and those beautiful cupcake daughters fill our collective misery up with yummy chocolate sprinkles of HOPE!!

Yep, I will say that the way-too-early critiques of our newly minted trying as hard as ever he could President really tick me off. I saw a poll online that made me nuts. It was a poll that seemed to pick apart the President disrespectfully soon after taking office. My response was written in a semi-fit, yeah, certainly, I will admit that. -- he has done so much!! Who else has ever had such a well planned entry? Aaaiiiiiiieeeeeeeee!! What do they want from him?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Still February Third and I'm --

I'm having an absolute fit here because I can't find a way, as a Californian citizen, a denizen of the fair state of California of communicating with a House or Senate member of another state -- and thus it is around our nation. I don't like that. So many times I have wanted to say, for example: "Teddy Kennedy, get your hands off of my compounded bio-identical hormones!", but can I? No, no -- there are barriers everywhere to state to state communication, more's the pity. I mean, certainly they have the work and the opinions of their constituents to regard first, all of those Senators and Representatives -- but it seems to me that some sensitivity to cultural weather their legislation might be stirring up in other parts of the country could be fostered.

All this because I want to shriek at John McCain for being such a churl to the President. He accepted a dinner thrown in his honor. He declined a Super Bowl invitation -- now THAT I understand -- on Rachel Maddow's show, I believe it was Anne Marie Cox who said that an old man needs to have some quiet, to be able to rewind the machine and turn the sound to 11 -- and really watch his damned game. Okay, fine. But since the President has been such a gentleman, it would seem incumbent upon him to at least be gentlemanly back. But he's not. He is REALLY not. Senator McCain, after accepting all of this kindness on the part of Mr. Obama is behaving badly by going out of his way to impugn Mr. Obama's honor. I think that's nuts, because the President has so far shown himself to be sincerely drawn to the horrors and honors of high office not for reasons of power, but for true service. I believe this.

I used to believe the same was true of Senator McCain. I once thought so highly of him, so highly that as a Democrat who'd never voted for a Republican, when considering voting for him it didn't make all the Light in my Heart turn dark. I liked him, honestly I did. But he's gone and been Gollumed. Spell it how you like it, but you know what I mean. I saw him admit it to Jon Stewart one night. Jon, after they had talked for a while and it was obvious that McCain had drunk the Bushko Koolaid, said to Senator McCain something like: "Senator, have you gone over to the dark side?" Senator McCain looked at him and paused for a moment and spoke what I knew absolutely to be the Truth: "well Jon, it looks as though I have" or some such thing that meant YES YES. From that time on he was rarely out of Bush' embrace. Ewwwwwwwwww, sorry. He is just beginning to tick me off, and he's not doing himself OR his party any good at all.

February 03, 2009

It is difficult to watch the President manfully struggle through picking the right cabinet. The headiness of those glorious moments has died down, leaving us all in our various outposts -- together or alone, however we might find ourselves. Relieved that the final catastrophic slide into some sort of right wing Sunday-Go-To-Meeting NIGHTMARE SOLUTION hadn't happened, gladdened to witness the survival of the electoral process, sobered by our individual and collective sense of responsibility and commitment to do the right thing, whatever that might be. Of course it's never so simple, is it? And I don't know if it is wrong of me to take solace in knowing I am not alone.

I find myself with the good fortune of still, barely having a house. But this house and I, we have our problems. First of all, neither one of us will ever see 30 again. This winter we lost our heating system. Yes, the thing exploded for the last time. This has been the winter where -- in one short month -- the vast quantities of wood piled in short stacks all around the yard has been burned, baby, burned. My sweetie and I shiver at night deliciously when we pile in bed together to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert -- waking up enrobed in three cats randomly splayed all over us. That's pretty cute, but it's not cute to feel trapped by cold. In fact, it can be deeply traumatic.

Of course I am in California, where it's warm outside and the houses are all cold. My relatives from back east are always too cold here. They'd REALLY be too cold now. The thing is, I don't know and I mean I DO NOT KNOW when I will be able to get this thing you call an HVAC system . It costs several thousand dollars, and I am behind on my property taxes and cannot work in a conventional office. I am so behind in so many ways. I distract myself online looking through "work at home" opportunities, even though I know they must be mostly bogus. The things I need to do, I don't? I never prepared myself for this, I must say. I honestly thought I was finally on the right track.

Bi polar disorder kicks you the curb if you go through stressful, and I mean it kicks you hard.  Approximately 20 - 25 % of bi polar people attempt suicide, and a good many succeed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two More Days -- Inauguration Weekend

In some ways I really can't believe it is happening -- the election/inauguration of a man who arguably represents the best of what we are as a country. For me, as for many in my generation all hope in my country in terms of political process died along with Bobby Kennedy. After that loss, I never cared again. Already hammered by the assassinations of JFK and Dr. King, I could not bear the bitter death of sweet Bobby. I was briefly revived during the Clinton years -- like half the nation, I was captivated by that devil of a man from Hope, Arkansas -- but so frustrated in my President with the feet of clay and the savagery with which he was pursued. Hard to understand why certain members of the Republican party would rather tear their country to pieces than watch a Democrat lead. But it was ever thus -- wasn't it?

And then we got a big lesson in Election stealing and political cronyism in the highest levels of government. Somehow, there are ways for talented politicians to make a power grab and end up as the Leader of the Free World! How does that work again?? W presided over the absolute politicization and corruption of virtually every department of government. For EIGHT LONG MISERABLE YEARS we watched helplessly as partisan politics and political corruption ripped this country to pieces while the country continued to polarize and wobble around like a drunk, gigantic imbecile -- a dangerous, increasingly isolated and ignorant super-power. For a while there I really thought we were teetering on the brink of the New American Fascism. (note from March 29, 2012), and I STILL do! All the systems were in place -- oh I could rave on about THAT one -- how close we came, and the damage done. But for some reason we Americans have been given another chance to be our better selves, and none too soon, that's for damned sure.

This weekend my love and I are holed up in our drafty California house, television on so we can see as much as possible. Which turns out to be not very much -- Bruce Springsteen is playing and I can't see him! Can't believe HBO captured the rights to a concert that should have been public -- that doesn't seem small d democratic -- but, sigh, it certainly is big C Capitalism. Not entirely dead, is it?

Not a bad time to begin a blog. I have a lot of time in some ways, and in others I feel I am running out of it. The recession hit us hard. We played our parts, though, blindly pouring money into building a house that cost 2 times too much to build, and then didn't sell. We were raped in every way imaginable by 3 contractors. I watched as my efforts to control the process were halted by venal men and four months of rain and circumstances which conspired so that we produced our beautiful house at exactly the worst possible moment in the history of California real estate.

We've been tussling with the bank trying to keep the house we built. What should have been a simple loan modification has gotten legally ugly because while we were dealing with BofA, somewhere in the information streams lurked incorrect foreclosure info that resulted in a realtor re-keying our house and putting it up for sale despite our arrangements with the bank. Is this legal? And BofA is threatening to give us a -- shall I say
more negative
loan because they are upset that we tried to work something out with Freddie Mac -- oh it is ridiculous and punitive and how can a bank just walk away with your house?? I had a great tenant ready to go with a year's commitment and I couldn't put her in the house. It sits alone and forlorn -- the representation, the culmination of my vision, in terms of beauty and function. We built a kickass house. But sometimes you are surfing and you get caught up in a wave bigger than you or anybody else -- just bigger than anything. When I get too caught up in regretting the apparent loss of a giant chunk of my net worth -- when I am too afraid I will lose my house -- that's when the brain weasels kick in and the ever-annoying battle with bi-polar stepped up. Wolverines are  savagely dangerous and an excellent metaphor for the illness.. These extremgely ferocious brain beasties  threaten my capacity to function through all this. I don't want to get out of bed, nor have I been ab

I'm reporting from the frontlines of the New American Poverty.

A bad business decision and a project gone terribly wrong have flung me from the comfortable middle class life I have always enjoyed into a different and more frightening world. And I don't know the territory, I don't know how to do this. And I KNOW there are people out there in similar and worse situations.

Though I still have the house I've lived in for 25 years, I have a big loan out on it and it's interest only. My partner is a recovering alcholic/sensitive artist -- and the man hasn't worked much since we met. No, he's not playing me -- for years he'd been suffering the hidden ramifications of multiple pockets of gum disease which was gradually killing him, sapping him of all physical strength to the point where he was virtually immobile. Though I didn't know what was wrong with him, I somehow sensed that there was no point in doing a "tough love" thing. Something was draining him that I didn't understand, though I fought for understanding. After years of this the she-demon who lurks not that far beneath the surface of me was beginning to want blood. My patience begins to wear thin. I'm not perfect, I never wanted to support a GUY and I am so bloody sick of feeling too sick to work and too confused to know what to do. I want divine intervention. I want an angel. I want to be shown the Way -- or at least the way.

Meanwhile all the bills that I have on my credit cards from building the other house -- after 2 1/2 years of faithful payments the banks have raised their minimums, and I can't pay them. It kills me to stop paying my bills -- but it's either them or me. I'm still in such shock from realizing that my money runs out in 3 years and that the money that was supposed to shelter me during my old age ran down the drain in Lake County already 2 years ago. I was so blind so blind. I wanted so badly to prove that I could support myself, and I only ended up undermining my security. god.

BUT After the corruption we have witnessed, the sacking, if you will, of our beloved country by a small handful of ideologues -- I hope that there might be redress for the people who have been so badly hurt by the times. The people in the tent cities springing up in urban areas here and there -- the ever-increasing numbers of homeless people. When I was a child there were still a few men being "hobos" -- riding the rails and living life differently -- but women and children, never! I remember a man came to my Granny's side door one day to ask for a few dollars. Well, she didn't give him that, but she did fix him a sandwich with a glass of milk, and let him work for his meal. I don't recall exactly what she had him do, but I recall that incident as well as I can recall anything these days! And it struck me -- it was such an unusually poignant experience for me that it was burned into my consciousness to this day, some 55 years later.

And now there are cities of such people. Enjoy the moment, Mr. Obama -- we have NO idea where this road is going, how long it's going to take us -- but I for one am utterly grateful to have a person of your temperament at the helm of the Ship of State. You are more Vulcan than Man. I have to laugh, because it is easier for me to believe that an imaginary alien race has penetrated our population with one of their own to lead us through these times than to imagine someone of his inherent maturity is actually human! Now we shall laugh, for indeed I don't mean it, not entirely.