Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Patriot Rally (there are good people in this world!) and more on the community college thing

The rally was held at San José's Discovery Park. Yes that's the World's Largest Monopoly game board. The light rail station is at the back.

I wish I had photos to share, but I spent a nice fall afternoon with about 200 like-minded patriots who came together to talk about the plight of the San Joaquin Valley farmers who have had their water turned off because two environmental experts said that irrigation was bad for the delta smelt, a pretty worthless little bait fish.

So to keep the delta smelt happy, the water that farmers need for their orchards and fields has been shut off. And for the most part, democrats in Sacramento and Washington have utterly ignored this whole issue.

Small towns in the Central Valley are dying. Some are suffering a near 50 percent unemployment rate. Fourteen percent of the produce we eat in the U.S. comes from the Central Valley. When farmers cannot farm, they cannot employ farmworkers, let alone taken care of their own families.

There was no media coverage in this overwhelming liberal area. I’m not surprised one bit

The Patriot movement isn’t about Republican or Democrat. It’s about upholding what the U.S. constitution says. It’s about less government intrusion. There were conservative independents, Republicans and Libertarians at the rally.

Why the media insists on calling this gathering of people “teabaggers” (and then they snicker at the double meaning like Beavis and Butthead) is beyond me. All these people really are is a gathering of individuals who remember what a great place America can be, and want to restore this nation to prosperous times based on sound economic principles.

My mother joked and said I was too old to go protest, and then reminded me not to resist arrest. Not a cop in sight and some members of the group walked around the park and picked up garbage that had been there before we were! I parked my car at the light rail station and rode the 3 miles into downtown.

Back to the community college thing …

One of the local televisions stations presented a two-part report about how mismanaged the community college district’s funds have been since August 2005. I watched in disbelief as I learned that things were worse than what I knew about! The reporter showed a large table full of documents, all public information and there for the asking, and started weaving his story.

In August 2005 the District had $14 million in the bank. Today, it’s cutting programs left and right, firing employees, cancelling classes. All while the chancellor, who is on leave of absence until the first of the year (and who will retire on June 30), is earning $300K a year, has a travel and expense account, yet still is reimbursed for coffee and Mentos! Yes, she asked for reimbursement for a pack of Mentos! I presume she did receive the money back, too.

I knew she did lots of traveling. When I first started doing some of the PIO job, I was informed as to her availability, for how long she was gone, and at first, where she was. I didn’t know about the Scotland thing in until the news report.

I’m not even going to get into sexuality and race here. Any person of any race or sexual orientation could have done what was done in this case. The community college district paid for a membership to an exclusive club called the Capitol Club, $5K for the chancellor, and I presume her life partner and the two community college presidents. There was a receipt for a $1200 dinner at said Capitol Club.

She promoted her life partner into jobs she was minimally if at all qualified for. I very nearly applied for a job working for this person, but there was a little voice in my head that said “Don’t do it. The great state benefits are not worth what you will go through. No one else can work with this woman. You get along with her now but every day … maybe not.”

As it is, that department is probably no more and I’d be unemployed again.

I think what bugs me most is how flawed my thinking was when I accepted the contract job. I could have charged up to $150 an hour for my services. Seriously, that was the going rate. But I felt that any dime not spent on me would be spent on students. Boy was I wrong! Any dime not spent on me was spent on travel!

I think of two marketing pieces I wrote trying to persuade employees to sign up to make automatic payroll deductions to the SJECCD Foundation “for students.” I went looking for heartwarming student stories, convinced people to give money so those students could get an education and give back to the community. What I was really doing was unwittingly stealing from those good people. I had no idea that their donated money would be used for recruitment trips to Thailand (where they didn’t recruit one single student!) and a trip to Scotland to see a K-12 program (That’s not higher education, why do college administrators need to study K-12? Anyone?).

If I were still working there, I'd have written those pieces about two weeks ago.

Watch the reports for yourself. Tell me you aren’t angry about it, even if you don’t live in the Bay Area.

Chancellor's lavish spending questioned

Chancellor's lavish spending went beyond travel

Monday, November 23, 2009

God works in mysterious ways, and I am thanking Him yet again …

I’ve written ad nauseum about my disappointment in not being hired for a public information officer job for a community college district—a job that I met every single job requirement for. I did much of the job for over two years, and had been promised the job by the chancellor of the district and her assistant, whom I now know to be her lesbian life partner.

Instead of me getting the job, a less qualified Latina was given the job and the job description was rewritten, taking duties that she was unable to do, away from her so she’d fit the job description.

I knew this district was living high on the hog. When I accepted the contract job, it was “name your price” to take the position. I grossly underbid and under billed, thinking what I was doing was the right thing to do when you work in education. Seems I was the only person doing that …

In today’s local paper, a second article has popped up about the chancellor of that district and the misuse of funds, how her salary grew by 47 percent while programs and classes were cut.

The chancellor announced her retirement “due to health reasons” effective at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2010.

Today’s story about a possible misuse of funds is here: San Jose area community college chancellor enjoyed big benefits as class offerings shrank

I’ve known about this for a long time. In the summer of 2006, the district sent a contingent of board of trustees members on a marathon trip to China and Vietnam, in the name of “recruiting” students. That same summer a contingent was sent to the Salzburg seminar, and every year since the district has sent several instructors and deans. In December 2007, a contingent of students and faculty went to Vietnam for a week. The chancellor and her life partner were scheduled to go until there was a public outcry by a small but vocal group of Vietnamese, objecting to a trip to communist Vietnam. I know this because I was going to go and blog about it for the district, but I didn’t have the money to self-pay at the time, as my beloved elderly cat became ill and needed vet (and my) care.

The chancellor is also very fond of co-sponsoring education conferences that further a liberal and one-race agenda (Hispanic). I know about two or three while I was still with the district.

In January of this year, the chancellor and a group went to El Salvador in the name of “service learning.” Both colleges in the district have service learning programs. One of the colleges sends a group of students every two years or so to do public works programs in impoverished towns in Mexico and Central America. This particular trip was more of a vacation for the chancellor and her contingent, described by the chancellor as “going home,” though she’s American-born.

It’s no secret I’ve been struggling big-time as far as work is concerned this year. The PIO job would have paid $80K a year plus great state benefits. I am lucky if I earn $25K this year. I am five months behind on my student loan payments, can barely pay my utilities, and have lost 17 pounds because I can’t afford to buy food and have three meals a day. But you know what, I have my integrity, I did not take advantage of a situation where everyone else was milking the cow and taking advantage of taxpayers’ good will, and perhaps I will get the last laugh after all.

I promise to write about the patriot rally I attended on my birthday, but this one comes first. Thank you Lord for looking out for me, even though I had no idea you were looking out for me …

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No title good enough ... a flight of ideas

I just a pair of Veteran's Day themed-television movies/documentaries. The first was "Area 60," an HBO documentary which was about the location in Arlington National Cemetery where those military persons killed in Iraq and Afghanistan now rest. The second was the movie “Taking Chance” with Kevin Bacon. It’s an HBO movie, a true story of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl (played by Bacon), who volunteers to escort the remains of a 19-year old Marine, Chance Phelps, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Chance enlisted from Strobl’s home town, so he decided to volunteer to escort Phelps’ remains home. Pehlps’ hometown was actually Dubois, Wyoming, several hours from Billings, Montana, the nearest large commercial airport

With today being Veterans’ Day, and the crap our president is pulling with his indecision about his little war in Afghanistan, I guess this documentary and the movie touched me deeply. I am sitting here crying.

Over the past several weeks, there have been violent crimes such as gang rapes, the attempted murder of two pre-teen boys because one was wearing shoes favored by a Mexican gang, another boy murdered in his back yard within 2 miles of where I live. Then there was the massacre of good military people in Ft. Hood by a Muslim wackjob who was an enlisted military psychiatrist. I honestly have come to the conclusion that what is wrong with this nation is our tolerance ad our desire to think everyone deserves to live like we do in America, with plenty of freedoms (that our current government wants to take from us).

Why do we allow people who live in America to do un-American things? Why do we let Mexican (and black) gangs do what they do? Why do they deserve the freedom to be alive at all? And why are American youth fighting in the Middle East, supposedly fighting for freedom that isn’t even a way of life for the people who live there. Do they even want us there? What is the United States getting out of it? We aren’t even taking their oil—we pay for a war with our tax dollars and young American lives and what is the reward?

Do we honestly expect people in Iraq and Afghanistan to ever thank us for helping them be more like us? They don’t want to be! They have been killing each other for hundreds of years. It's their way of life, and they could stop it anytime if they really wanted to. It’s not going to stop.

If you choose to live in the U.S., you live like an American. Period. You don’t embrace little violent subcultures and expect people to sit by and understand that what you are choosing to do is cultural. If you don’t fit in, you don’t belong here. Deport what’s deportable (of course make damn sure the border is secure), and throw the rest in prison. Or send those big bad gangstas to fight in the Mideast if they are really so badass tough and like to kill.

If the U.S chooses to be in a war, fight it to win, and fight it for people who want to be like us. Period. Either our troops are given the assistance they need to win a war over there (and then annex whatever territory into something and call it the U.S. annex or something). And if they aren’t going to be given the best equipment and the manpower to win a war, then get each and every one of them out there now, all at the same time. No cautious withdrawal, Americans leave immediately and let those people kill each other.

Bless the family of Pvt. Chance Pehlps for letting Lt. Col. Strobl share your story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NASCAR Mayfield saga continues, and it's laughable!

There's a story on CA$HCAR's website about former driver Jeremy Mayfield's failure to pay his attorney, Bill Diehl. Diehl represented the driver, who failed a random drug test back in May, but was replaced when Mayfield hired "celebrity lawyer" Mark Geragos.

I am hysterical with laughter over that one. How'd Geragos work out for Scott Peterson, eh?

Charlotte-based Diehl bills $1,000 an hour for his services. Not a typo. One thousand dollars an hour.

Back when Diehl was representing Mayfield, court documents stated that the suspension deprived Mayfield of the ability to earn an income, and Mayfield does not have funds to cover basic living expenses.

Yesterday the attorney said that wasn't true.

But Mayfield will be auctioning off 475 acres of land, a home under renovation, jewelry, guns and cars from Mayfield's personal collection. He claims it's not for the money, it's for "fun" and not necessity. He says he buys stuff at auctions all of the time and sometimes just ends up with stuff he didn't need ...

All of this was avoidable had Mayfield manned up and said "Yeppers, I was bad. Put me in NASCAR's drug program... I'll be a good boy." Instead, he blamed the Adderall he "forgot" to tell NASCAR about... his ongoing behavior tells me that random drug test was right ...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Richmond rape case, and why race is relevant or irrelevant

Does this look pleasurable to you? Me neither.

Again I’ve put my best work on T & T, so go there for a summary of the Richmond Homecoming rape case that happened a week ago today. As of this writing, one man who was questioned has been released from custody (not enough chargeable evidence … yet), and five remain in custody with no or very high bail. The three underage suspects are being charged as adults.

The 15-year old victim is out of the hospital but I am sure not out of the woods. Seriously, will she ever be out of the woods, even with the very best of therapy?

When I first heard about this crime, I confess I thought exactly what the majority of people thought when they heard about the actual location of the crime. Richmond is a formerly nice town, especially when the military was still in the area. But with the de-militarization of the United States, something else moves in when the military moves out, and what moved in caused Richmond to become a hood.

Now before you jump all over me, “hood” does not mean an exclusively black or Hispanic neighborhood. There are plenty of areas that could and are described as “white trash,” and hood is just a more politically correct term in my eyes if that’s possible. The word “ghetto” evokes strong feelings toward one race, “barrio” toward another, and those ill-feelings toward the people who may live in those areas is entirely too destructive.

So knowing a little about what kind of people live in Richmond now, I figured this was going to be more black-on-black violence (like the epidemic in nearby Oakland) or Hispanic-on-Hispanic or white or black (like most of the Bay Area). Didn't matter to me, it was still disgusting that a female was taken advantage of yet again by uncivilized males.

Let me say that the black-on-black violence sickens me, but what sickens me more is the attitude of black opinion leaders who virtually ignore what happens in Oakland. Toss a white or Hispanic person into the mix (a la the Oakland cop massacre earlier this year) and you get Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson all over the place decrying how unfair everyone treated the black perp—it wasn’t his fault he was a felon, it was all about lack of opportunity, blah blah blah.

I feel the same about Hispanic-on-Hispanic gang violence. There’s outrage, but no opinion leaders stand up and offer suggestions as to how to stop it. More often than not, it’s shrugged off as being a “cultural thing.” How that cheapens life!

When the Richmond rape occurred, I believed the victim was more likely to be black or Hispanic. But when the usually predictable overblown response (or lack thereof) from black or Hispanic opinion leaders didn’t pop up, that was a big red flag that the victim was white, which is the case.

The boy who lured her over to the group of boys and men who were drinking on the Richmond High campus was white, and a friend. At Richmond High, whites are the minority, big time. Most of the group of male (thus far) appear to be Hispanic, though there is one black boy charged as well.

The black boy’s family say he was arrested because he’s black, and they are threatening to sue the city of Richmond for targeting the boy because of his race. The family claims he walked by and left the scene.

But Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton haven’t rushed to the black boy’s family and started their rhetoric. They must know something the family is denying ...

So far none of the Hispanic boys/men or the white boy’s family are squealing about race being the reason they were arrested. Of course media accounts have said that none of the males took questioning seriously—until the cops told them how grave the situation was and just what they were facing. No reset button. No do-overs. No taking it back.

I keep saying this to anyone I speak to about this horrific crime—it’s not about race. Bad people come in all colors. And do I think the girl was targeted because she was white? I honestly don’t know. I am inclined to believe she was just an available girl, that the group didn’t talk about targeting a white girl—it was more like any girl would do.

But we have to know about the race of the perps to know which “audience” to target in order to figure out remedies. Rape is not a crime about sex, it’s a crime of control. Standing by and watching an unconscious girl be raped is not entertainment, it’s a symptom of something much bigger—the lack of empathy and accountability. And neither the cause nor the solution are going to be easy to figure out.

You’ll get people who say this negative change in attitude and caring is because of absent fathers and irresponsible mothers on welfare. You’ll get people who say this happened because the United States is turning away from Judeo-Christian principles. You’ll get people saying this is a cultural thing (for example, me la robo bride-selling in the Trique culture), especially in a culture that devalues women and treats them as possessions. You’ll get people saying the boys/men were bored and the girl was a tart (by all accounts she was a churchgoing kid trying to fit in on campus, and went to the dance dressed nicely). You’ll get people saying it’s because of violent video games which facilitates a break from reality because of the reset button. You’ll get people saying it’s because of rap and hip-hop music that teens of all races listen to, and a common theme in that music is devaluing females (“hos”).

Maybe it’s all of that.

Yes, the school itself needs to take part of the blame. According to friends of the victim, boys/young males who were not Richmond High students were hanging around on campus. Back in the 1970s when I was in high school, that simply would not have happened—school administrators, chaperones or the cops would have chased them off. To be let into a school dance, you needed to show your student body card. If you wanted to bring in a date from another high school (or someone who had already graduated), you had to submit that person’s name to the office early in the week for approval.

And kids weren’t wandering to and hanging around in the dark, poorly-lit areas of campus—there were adults patrolling. I know this one for a fact, being the stupid little pothead I was in high school, being chased from a nice dark corner trying to toke up.

Race is relevant only in it helps sociologists, anthropologists and educators study why stuff like this happens. To make a blanket statement that says Hispanics and blacks are more likely to rape is wrong. To embrace that believe is to perpetuate racism and rape, and the devaluing of females of all colors.

Young men need to be raised with a sense of accountability and empathy. They need to be told—repeatedly—that despite what pornography tells them, rape is not fun for the woman. And they need to suffer the consequences when they cross the line.

I hate the idea that we need to raise our daughters to be more paranoid and less trusting of males, but until males understand the gravity of rape (and that means prosecute it, period), it’s up to us females to minimize their opportunities. And being a strong, assertive and streetwise female is definitely not a racial thing!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Slow news week, I guess ...

You know it’s a slow news week when you find yourself riveted to the television for a couple of hours and watch a “flying saucer” floating over the state of Colorado when there’s supposed to be a 6-year-old boy “inside.”

Not to say that nothing bad happened in our dysfunctional government but I’m sick of self-flagellating over that mess, for this week anyway.

Actually there were two news items that caught my attention: the aforementioned balloon boy and the justice of the peace in Louisiana who refused to marry an interracial couple.

First “Balloon Boy.” A wackjob family in Larimer County, Colorado claimed their son had climbed aboard a weather balloon that was shaped like a flying saucer (more like a container of Jiffy Pop popcorn) and was adrift, with no way of bringing the balloon back to earth, and no oxygen aboard. I admit to watching coverage, but my first thought really was “What kind of dumbasses have something like that in their backyard when there are three boys under 10 years of age living in the home? That’s a disaster waiting to happen,” and “It’s sad that child will pay for his parents’ mistake and bad judgment.” I never made it to physics so I really couldn’t figure out if the balloon was really capable of lifting the child at all, but I’ve read plenty now, enough to know the balloon was too flimsy to pick the kid up at all (probably couldn’t even pick up my nearly 20-pound cat Ryan …).

The father is an amateur scientist (whatever that means, I guess he reads a lot and fancies himself self-trained and superior to all) who also claims to be a meteorologist, and he and his meek-as-a-mouse Japanese wife chase bad weather with the three boys in the vehicle.

Then I learned the family had been on a lame-ass “reality show” called “Wife Swap.” I’ve never watched this show; it’s my understanding that two married women “switch places” and become the mom to a family that is as unlike theirs as possible. In the case of the Heene family (the people pulling off the balloon incident), you could put pretty much anyone into that situation and she’d be out of place. The three boys are rude, crude and run around uncontrolled; the father is a chauvinist of the worst ilk. Apparently they’ve been on the show twice.

But they claim not to watch television … although when the balloon went adrift, the dad first called the FAA and a local television station to report the “flying saucer” was adrift. Only then did he call 911 to report his son was aboard.

Long story short, no kid on balloon, thousands of dollars on emergency resources to track the balloon and figure out how to get the kid down safely, a closure of nearby Denver International Airport, and a farmer’s plowed wheat field were all affected. Once the balloon came down on its own, with no kid aboard, there were fears the boy had fallen out of the balloon, or out of a basket said to be on the balloon, so more helicopters and ground crews became involved in the search/recovery effort.

Perhaps an hour later, the family claimed to have found the boy, hiding and asleep in the garage attic. He was “afraid” he was going to get in trouble for playing with, and being part of accidentally releasing, the balloon.

Police searched the family home, the father “searched” the garage.

The ruse unraveled when the family did the talk show circuit later that night—and I mean full force. The 6-year-old, when answering his dad’s question “Did you hear us? Why didn’t you come?” said “You said it was for the show.” Dear old dad became flustered and confrontational with any media type who asked for a clarification.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Thus far, the only possible charges are filing a false police report. Certainly there have to be some sort of federal charges for causing actions that shut down an airport. Certainly somewhere in the false police report are provisions for restitution for the public agencies that responded. Certainly child protective services need to look into a family who has a “weather balloon,” and all the stuff required to maintain it, lying around in disarray.

Oh and to any network considering giving this family a “reality show” of their own (that they won’t watch since they don't watch network television), just say no. I think it may be time for that type of programming to die a quick death anyway …

As for the justice of the peace thing—I disagree with the concept of interracial couples not being allowed to marry. But I got to thinking—and this thought might be controversial, so bear with me—perhaps it is that man’s right to refuse to do so if he believes it is so wrong? Much like a nurse who is against abortion is not forced to care for a woman undergoing an abortion, maybe it’s this guy’s right to refuse? The couple was referred to another justice of the peace.

I also refuse to believe this is the first time in 34 years that this has come up. Why are we hearing about it now for the first time?

Of course his beliefs are wrong in the eyes of the law, but he holds those beliefs. Much like pharmacists who refuse to sell Plan B, the morning after pill, because they erroneously believe it’s an abortion pill, it’s their right to refuse to sell it as long as there is another pharmacist who can and will sell it. Let the people of his parish in Louisiana decide—don’t use his services for weddings. Certainly the word had to have been out on this guy and interracial couples had avoided utilizing his services before? Now the word is out for everyone …

Seriously we need to do a better job of being color-blind. Even if it’s hard to do, we need to try harder.

balloon boy

justice of the peace

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on today’s gay rights march in Washington

Gay rights is another area that I tend to not hang with my Republican brethren. I don’t believe that gay, lesbian or transgendered people choose to be gay, lesbian or transgendered. Seriously, why would a person choose to be homosexual? It is what they are, it is in their wiring it is in their brain.

I have no problem with gay people serving in the military—as long as they serve, and not recruit. And to be honest with you, the homosexual people I know don’t run around recruiting—but I am sure they are out there (look at the current administration’s “Safe Schools” czar’s past actions. It would not surprise me that he was pushing an agenda on kids, he’s not going to make a kid who is wired to be homosexual homosexual any faster, but he sure could be in a position to take advantage of a non-wired kid who has a bad home life, further messing that kid up). The schools are not the place to teach children that there are people who are homosexual, that they are good people, they are not dangerous, and they deserve to be treated the same as any heterosexual person—no job discrimination. Acceptance and understanding starts at home—except for most kids it doesn’t.

I’m even okay with committed homosexual couples forming civil unions. Sorry but the Catholic school girl in me still says marriage is a hetero thing, set up for people to be monogamous and raise a family. I know that’s old-fashioned and that homosexual couples raise families, it’s just my hang-up.

I do object to the president giving lip service to this group, refusing to put a date on when he’ll take up “don’t ask don’t tell,” and other issues important to homosexuals. Why does this group think anything is going to be done by this current president?? He’s already worried about his re-election—he’s not going to alienate blacks and Hispanics who think that Prop 8 was the way to go.

But I also believe that homosexuals do deserve exactly the same rights as heterosexual people—and I mean exactly. Instead, the government wants to put them in the same “protected” category as minorities, and I object to that. This places a specific group of people to be of more value in the law’s eye. Hate crime legislation should not apply to any group (hate crime legislation should not apply to anyone—unless it works both ways. Right now it’s a hate crime if a white person kills a black person, but not if a black person kills a white one or a Hispanic one kills a black).

Personally I wish the Republican party would take a lesson from the Libertarians and just decide certain things aren’t worth fighting about. If homosexuality is wrong in the eyes of God, we will all face his justice someday, just like in the case of abortion. There are certain things government is supposed to do—maintain and train a competent military, maintain vital infrastructure such as highways and railways, provide police protection. If I have learned nothing else, you cannot legislate what you perceive as morality. So why waste the effort?

Friday, October 9, 2009

More musings on racism, or is it insanity that worries me?

You experience the best and worst of humanity on a light rail train.

Earlier this week a video was posted on YouTube which was taken by a rider of San Francisco’s notorious MUNI system. The video, taken with a cell phone, showed two women, one black, one Asian (probably Chinese) arguing on a seat on the bus. The back story was this: the black woman was taking up two seats, one for her behind, the other had packages. The Asian lady asked the black lady to move over, thereby necessitating the black lady to put her packages on the floor or on her lap.

The black lady refused to do so. The encounter quickly became a shouting match with the black woman finally throwing a punch at the much older Asian lady. The older Asian lady fought back, and finally another female passenger broke up the fight (the person who took the video, a male, stated he’d been confronted on the bus the previous week, so I guess he wasn’t into the idea of getting between those two women). He bus driver did not stop the bus, nor were the police called, nor was anyone tossed from the bus.

SF authorities claim to be investigating.

Today on my way into work on the light rail, a very loud Hispanic man boarded the train two stops after I boarded. He looked to be in his 40s, and he was disheveled in appearance. Did I say he was loud?

(Let me preface this by saying I was in a good mood, the light rail operator waited for me to gimp to the train at my stop, instead of driving off as I’m moving my crippled legs as fast as they can carry me. I was feeling nothing but love for my fellow man. Nothing like an obnoxious person to kill the good vibes.)

This loud man sat next to a quiet Asian man across from two young white women and me. I was wearing sunglasses and tried my best to ignore the guy, to not encourage any sort of conversation. He turned to the women and said something about their noses, his speech was garbled but not in an “I’m drunk” way. It was the kind of speech I remember hearing during my psych nursing rotation—words strung together in meaningless sentences that make sense to no one but the speaker. Of course he got angry when the women said “Huh? What are you asking?” He then turned to the man in the seat behind him, another Latino, shook his hand and then started speaking very loudly in Spanish, talking about burritos and tacos. Eventually the second man returned to his book.

By this time the women had left the train and the guy slid across the aisle to the empty seats. I’m still sitting there going “please God I’m not in the mood.” At the stop where the women exited, a black male with his hair in dreadlocks boarded. He was wearing Oakland Raiders gear and looked benign.

The loud Hispanic man said “Do you ever wash those things?”, referring to the black man’s dreads, which were obviously clean. The black man asked the Hispanic man to repeat the question, and then he answered, “Of course I wash them every day.”

The Hispanic man asked “With what?” At this point this sounded like a young child asking obnoxious questions that people don’t tend to get irritated by because it’s a kid asking. But coming from a 5’10” poorly groomed Hispanic man, it’s not so cute.

The black man said “With shampoo, of course.”

Hispanic man said, “Looks like you use motor grease.”

Black man turned away, obviously looking to avoid a confrontation.

Hispanic man asked, “Are you homeless?”

Black man replied, “No, are you?”

Hispanic man said, “I know I look homeless but I’m not. I think you have lice. You smell bad.”

Black man just stood there, I am sure not believing what he’s hearing. I looked up at him and just shrugged, shook my head.

Hispanic man said, “Can you go stand somewhere else? You smell and you have lice. I don't want to get lice from you.”

Fortunately it was my stop and I was glad to exit the train. I probably would have anyway for fear that little encounter would escalate.

Of course I am wondering if the Hispanic man was mentally ill. But let’s say he wasn’t.

More and more I am seeing people of color “attack” each other, and even “attack” within their own group. For the life of me I can’t understand why that Hispanic man felt it was okay to insult the dreadlocks-wearing man like he did. He did not smell, and while I’m not a fan of dreads on anyone, it’s his right to wear ‘em.

The way things are in the U.S., if a white person had been the Hispanic person in this story, you can bet that the other Hispanic people on the train would have read the riot act to the white guy. But why is color-on-color racism not as serious?

I was sick, and wished I could have walked to the front to the train faster to let the operator know there was a problem back there.

Why do people pull crap like that simply based on skin color? What’s so hard about being color blind and being humane to one another?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Should he, or shouldn’t he?

I have written a whole bunch about the Roman Polanski thing on T & T.

But I tried pretty hard to not inflict too much of my own opinion on the three articles.

Here’s the place to spill my guts and be a whole lot less tactful.

I have come to the conclusion that every person involved in the rape of Samantha Geimer is a pretty despicable person. And I mean everyone—Polanski, Samantha’s mother Susan, Samantha herself, the friend of Samantha’s family (Henri) who suggested Samantha for the photos, Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston (for being such good friends that Polanski was comfortable enough to give Polanski access to their home, and for Huston not demanding Polanski put an immediate stop to what he was doing in the bedroom), and even the caretaker who gave Polanski permission to open a bottle of champagne that was in Nicholson/Huston’s fridge.

I am seven years older than Samantha, barely out of my teens and too young to legally drink at the time of the rape. And yes, I believe what happened was rape, even though this trainwreck could have been derailed by any one of a number of people. But as I wrote over at T & T, everyone involved was a famewhore.

Polanski at the age of 45 was trying to hang onto his reputation as a continental playboy and swinger.

Susan, Samantha’s mother, was described by Polanski as being an actress, so why not get attention from a famous director any way you can? Maybe if he likes the daughter he might like the mother and see that she’s worthy of casting in a movie? She’s the latest undiscovered talent in Hollywood!

The friend, Henri, wanted Polanski to give Nicholson copies of the magazine he wrote for, a fringe publication extolling the virtues of marijuana.

Samantha herself probably got caught up in the potential glamour of becoming an international (!) model and all that would lead to. Oh well, so she had to put up with an old man to get there. Perhaps she’d already seen that sort of behavior from her mom. The 13-year old Samantha no doubt had limited parenting; she claimed to have lost her virginity at age 8 (eight!!) and at the age of 13 not only had a 17-year old boyfriend that she had an intimate relationship with, but she also told Polanski she’d been drunk and taken Quaaludes. ( I waited until the age of 15 for my first experience at alcohol abuse while in the company of age-group peers, and never touched downers.)

She may have been young, but Samantha had been around the block a time or two.

Over 30 years later, there is evidence of possible judicial misconduct. But did this misconduct consist of railroading an innocent guy into taking a plea deal? Nope. It was as simple as the judge thinking that perhaps he needed to give Polanski a bit more time in prison to think about what he’d done, before he was deported from the U.S.

Polanski took a plea, plead guilty to the least serious of six charges, and did 45 days of a court-ordered 90 day psychiatric evaluation. Before he returned to court for formal sentencing, Polanski split.

There is no deal in place. Polanski didn’t show for sentencing, the terms of his plea have not been met, and he is a fugitive from justice.

Some people argue that the State of California is broke, let the now 70-something guy out of that Swiss jail and let him live his life in peace. “He’s been through so much,” they say. And not every person who clings to that train of thought is a limousine liberal. My daughter thinks it’s stupid to tie this up in court, especially because the victim and her mother want it left alone.

Because Polanski ran, this crime is no longer about them. At this point, he should have to do the year in prison, the maximum time for failure to appear for a felony case. He will no doubt care much about the $5K fine associated with this.

Samantha says that the civil court remedy was adequate for her, although it appears by court records that Polanski hasn’t paid her fully. But at this point, why is she not cooperative? She went public with her identity in the late 1980s when she initiated the civil suit. The facts of the case are well known. Yes, she and her mother are going to face criticism for her behavior—her mother should never have let Samantha leave with a 45-year old man who was proud of his swinger image. And Samantha may have been sending mixed signals to Polanski—the caretaker who let Polanski and Samantha into Nicholson’s house said the two behaved toward each other as if they were lovers. (Ick.)

Polanski would have been better off facing that judge all those years ago versus taking his chances with a judge or jury who probably do not embrace the “everything goes” disco attitude of 1977. I have no idea what the LA DA has in store for Polanski once he is stateside, but I have a feeling that he won’t be permitted the sweet deal he had back in 1977.

He needs to enjoy a little time in prison alongside Phil Spector to think about what he did, and then he needs to be unceremoniously deported. Consumers (that’s you and I) need to remember the names of those Hollywood types who voiced their support for Polanski and start talking with our wallets. What he did in 1977 was wrong, just as wrong and despicable as it would be today.

Too bad castration isn’t an option.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is a candidate’s point of view on abortion rights enough for me to vote, or not vote, for him or her?

I was looking through my Facebook comments this morning and read one comment directed toward Tom Campbell, my choice for California governor in 2010. This person wrote, “Tom, I’m disappointed to hear you condone abortion.”

My pro-choice beliefs are where I draw the line with the Republican party. I have been pro-choice forever, but I also believe there is a higher power at work who will ultimately let each of us know if our individual abortion beliefs are enough to keep us out of Heaven.

Still, I have more in common with the Republican party (or libertarian, if only it were a major force politically, because that is really where I am at) so that’s not enough to drive me over to the other side!

I have had to use this option twice, the first time with an ectopic pregnancy, the second when I had pelvic inflammatory disease bad enough that I was hospitalized for 10 days, treated with some nasty antibiotics that are known to cause major birth defects. Did I take each decision lightly? No. Do I think about those lost children 30 years later? Yes. And yes, I think of them as children, not as tissue, though had I been asked, I would have donated the contents of my uterus for stem cell research.

Just because I am pro-choice doesn’t mean that I take abortion lightly. Far from it. There are times I wish that government could be more intrusive when it comes to women who use abortion in lieu of birth control, and make that decision as lightly as a decision as to what to eat for lunch. I have no problem whatsoever with involuntary sterilization for repeat offenders, let’s say for a woman who has three or more abortions in a 12-month period, or women who have more than two children whose births were paid for by public funds, or men who have multiple baby mamas and kids they do not pay for.

But, we live in the United States and one could argue this is something that China would do, and we like to think we are far more civilized than China.

Let me also say I am against any sort of abortion later than 12 weeks into a pregnancy. I suppose there are rare instances where a pregnancy needs to be terminated to save a woman’s life, but that should not be the first treatment offered, for example, a woman with preeclampsia at 18 weeks has an abortion instead of a trial of medication and bedrest. If I were currently back at bedside nursing, I would not take care of this patient if another nurse was available. You can bet I’d be working most of my shift in silent prayer, asking for His forgiveness, if I had to provide care for her.

Is a political candidate’s view on abortion enough for me to vote or not vote for him or her? For me the answer is no—there are far more pressing things an elected official should be worrying about. And with our form of government, I don’t believe any one person would be able to ramrod his or her opinion about abortion into the law of the land in this day and age.

With the availability of so many birth control methods today, there is little reason for a woman to not be using some method of contraception (not to mention HIV hasn’t gone anywhere and condoms are still the second-best method to minimize risk [the first method being abstention], so I am not letting males off the hook as far as pregnancy prevention is concerned). Yes, birth control can and does fail, but using something is certainly better than using nothing at all.

I also have no problem with government funds being used for abortions, with a caveat that I hinted to above. Repeat offenders need to have an IUD placed or their tubes tied or an endometrial ablation that will render them unable to carry a baby. Period. No more trusting these women to seek birth control or act responsibly. Two babies on welfare and a subsequent abortion=sterilization. Two or three abortions in a calendar year=involuntary birth control, including sterilization. (I admit it’s harder to chase down baby daddies and give ‘em a clip and snip, which would be far more economical.)

I appreciate Tom Campbell’s view on a woman’s ability to choose. I suspect he feels it’s not a decision to be used lightly, and I suspect he’d prefer pregnancy prevention to pregnancy termination. Is it the only reason I will vote for him? Not at all. And if he were against a woman’s right to choose, I’d still vote for him, knowing there are checks and balances in government and that right now the political climate overall and the law of the land leans toward a woman’s right to choose.

Right now politicians need to concentrate on things that affect everyone currently living in this nation—curbing government spending, securing borders, repairing infrastructure, and giving our troops the support they need to be successful in whatever mission the federal government sends them into. Once every single problem that we have in this country is solved (haha!), politicians can revisit stuff like this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Mayfield saga continues

I used to love watching NASCAR races, especially back when it was still called “Winston Cup” and my favorite driver Bill Elliott was still competing full-time. Now, I’m kind of meh on it because I think the sport has lost its way with the emphasis on “youth” and “marketable drivers.”

But I admit I’m enjoying watching the Jeremy Mayfield saga unfold. It's much more compelling than the stupid "Chase for the Cup" crap they cooked up a few years back. yawn. Mayfield's providing plenty of amusement to a waning fan like me.

I wrote about it back in June here:

Today CA$HCAR (my name for the sanctioning body today) has asked a judge for a full examination of Mayfield, to determine if he has a substance abuse problem or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Recall that he was “diagnosed” with ADHD in March during a 30-minute doctor visit.

Mayfield conveniently forgot to tell CA$HCAR that he’d been diagnosed with ADHD and was on Adderall for it. I’ve also told you how easy it is for drivers to update their medical records, which travel with the series. You just go into the infield care center and tell someone and it’s added to your record. Takes five minutes.

Well, Mayfield forgot to do that, at least until he had a positive test for amphetamines. He then said “oops forgot to tell y’all about the Adderall, and I took a Claritin D, too.”

From what I know about drug testing, yes, Adderall will give you a positive in a screening test, as will the “d” in Claritin D. However, there are additional tests that will tell you just what the amphetamine is, and apparently Mayfield’s tests say methamphetamine specifically. He has also failed a second random test.

I honestly don’t think CA$HCAR has any sort of vendetta for Mayfield. He’s not a star in any sense of the word, but he was a regional good old boy never meaning no harm. Just there, you know. He’s never been a driver I’ve liked at all, but that is more of a personal thing, not that I know him, but because of his dumping his wife who’d stuck by his sorry ass while he was working his way through the stock car racing ranks, supporting him monetarily and physically.

But Mayfield’s dumb as hell. He could have avoided this whole thing by saying “Yep I have a problem, put me into the substance abuse program.” It was his first offense, and the whole thing would have been done and forgotten by now.

But Mayfield fought the positive test tooth and nail. He’s now pretty much bankrupt himself, blackballed himself from the sport, and is acting like a paranoid hillbilly on meth with his countersuits and protestations of innocence.

If he’s got Adderall I don’t believe he needs it. I think that he found himself less full of energy, running his own team as driver-owner, and at the age of 40, needed a little umph. So all you gotta do is take one of those little online “are you ADHD” screening tests, know what to say to your doctor, and viola! You have a prescription for Adderall. In a non-ADHD brain, Adderall is simply legal cocaine. Or legal methamphetamine. No need to cook up a batch in the shop anymore!

Thus far CA$HCAR has three witness affidavits stating that Mayfield has been observed using meth.

His goose is cooked. He should have just taken the treatment option even if he felt he didn’t need it.

And I hate to say this, I think CA$HCAR is doing the right thing, no matter how ugly it gets.

NASCAR asks judge for full examination of Mayfield

Right now Mayfield is his own worst enemy

Sunday, September 20, 2009

more anger directed at my father ... at my age,no less!

I hate that the crap left by my father is still running through my head and causes me grief and pain. I try to think of something, anything, he said to me as a kid or young adult that did indeed come to pass. My dad Robert was a master manipulator and I let him do it, I did what he asked because he was so good at saying that everything he did, he did for his family, so we could live comfortably and not worry about finances.

While he was alive I seldom asked him for anything. My brother and sister were real good at asking for stuff, and getting it handed to them. My father provided a house for my sister and her daughter, and on a regular basis, my brother would ask my father for money, either for business (he had a satellite installation business and drove long-haul trucks for awhile) or his hobby, racing cars. My dad handed over thousands of dollars to my brother, $10,000 at a time usually.

When my daughter needed to attend a special school, I did not ask my father for a dime of the annual $13K tuition (she was at that school for three years). Nor did he offer any assistance. He was too busy buying my stepsisters cars and trips and designer clothes and family vacations to Hawaii and Mexico, luxuries my siblings and mother never had because we were “sacrificing for the future.” He'd even paid for two years at that same school for his youngest stepdaughter, the one he ended up adopting.

He promised there would be money for college for his eldest granddaughter (actually all of his granddaughters). That didn’t come to pass either.

My dad lead me to believe that his estate would be somewhat pro-rated, that he was keeping track of what the other two cost him. From the late 1970s he held the promise of acreage over my head; he subdivided property and at one point, actually told me to go ahead and install a driveway, trees and a watering system on a 5-acre lot. We spent about 6 months planting, digging, and grading a home site, only to have my father say “My brother says we cannot afford to give you that lot, but I will give you a lot when the ranch (in my family’s possession since before I was born) is subdivided.” I shrugged it off, figuring my father had no reason to lie to me, and made plans for another home site. My father said that he would sign over the lot once his accountant told him he could do so, and he’d sign over his half of about 100 hilly acres so I could keep my horses.

Again we grated a home site and a driveway, looked into fencing and housing for horses, and acquired house plans. Again my father said “My brother says he cannot afford to sell you his half of that 100 acres at a discounted price. Pick another lot and as soon as my accountant tells me how I can maximize tax benefits, I will sign the lot over to you.”

I had house plans drawn up for that third promised lot.

Three promises, three promises unfulfilled. Why did I keep believing him?

When he died, his widow knew which lot my father had promised me. She conveniently “forgot” or claimed no such promise had ever been made. The lot was next to my father’s palatial home, and we joked I’d be able to take care of his dogs while he and Norma were off enjoying their retirement.

I wonder if my anger/hatred should be 100 percent directed at my father or his greedy widow. Perhaps they deserve it, 50-50. Her daughters now have the ability to go to their mother and ask for money at any time.

I do not have that luxury. I’m living from check to check, scared shitless, trying to get my kid through college. Much of the real estate owned by my father was sold by his widow and she took a full 50 percent of the proceeds. She receives all income from the investment properties. She bellyaches how she has to pay for everything as far as maintenance is concerned, and thinks the estate should have to pay. How can I pay for anything when I have no income from the properties at all? I’m supposed to pay out-of-pocket so she can have an income?

I had to give my horses away because I had no place to keep them. I’d like to think that my father would not have allowed that to happen, he knew how much they meant to me. His wife of course did not share his feelings, and she didn’t give a damn about what happened to my horses. I miss those horses every day, wish I had a place where I could have a horse in the first place.

When the widow dies, I will receive 1/6 of my father’s estate. I am forever tied to her daughters, including the youngest one who cared so much to be adopted that when she married, I (her "sister") wasn’t invited to the shindig.

I’ve said this before—I know it’s unhealthy to pray for karma to come back on someone, but I do. I want that woman to know that now I hate my father, that any pleasant memory I have of him ends up going by the wayside, thinking of the lies he told me to keep me in line all those years. Psychotherapy is probably a good idea, but I can’t afford that at all right now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Random half-thoughts

Half-thought #1

I promised I’d write a bit more about Tuesday’s presidential message to school kids, and why I had a problem with it. Actually I had several problems with it …

The first issue is trust. I totally did not trust this current presidential administration to stay on topic—which was supposed to be “stay in school.” If that was the message, why was part of the original lesson plan to write a letter to the president and tell him what you will do to help him. Excuse me, but the president works for us. He’s there to help us, to serve this nation and do what’s right for this country, including upholding our Constitution. I’d have been angry if this had been an assignment from a Republican administration. Politics have no place in the classroom. I remember as a child that teachers stayed from very heated subjects—and remember, I was in elementary school in the 1960s. Teachers didn’t talk about how bad (or good) Vietnam was, about why we were there, or which president put us there. They’d say the U.S. was at war to defeat communism and left it at that. I remember in 1968, in seventh grade, how we had mock elections in my civics class and the discussion was utterly student-driven. No doubt kids got their talking points from parents, but teachers did not reveal their party affiliations in any way, shape or form.

The second issue is that of timing. This message could have happened anytime in the school year. Why on the first day of school for many districts? Was this so parents would not be able to object to the lesson?

The third issue is audience. No need to preach to primary-aged kids about staying in school—if they have parents with only half a brain cell, those parents have to be smart enough to know that kids need to finish high school at the minimum. Better to give that talk to junior high and high school students, and be honest enough to say that college is not for everyone, but there certainly are trade schools and vocational education that will meet nearly everyone’s needs.

One of my friends told me about something that happened to her high school-aged kid the first week of school. This kid had a homeroom/core teacher who had two boxes of pencils, and asked students to take a pencil from one of the boxes. When her kid took a pencil from one of the boxes, the teacher said “Ewwww, you don’t want to take a pencil from the Republican box!”

Her child has been moved from that teacher to another, and she reported what that teacher said to the principal. I hope she doesn’t stop and also reports it to the district superintendent. No place for that in our schools today, period!

Half-thought #2

I wish that Representative Joe Wilson hadn’t felt the need to apologize for thinking out loud during the president’s delivery of his latest propaganda. Perhaps that wasn’t the time or place to say, “You lie,” but the truth hurts, doesn’t it Nerobama?

I bet over 50 percent of U.S. citizens who can legally vote agree with those words.

Half-thought #3: The “N” word

There are two words in the English language that I have a real problem with: the word cunt and the word nigger. And I hate the “n” word whether it’s uttered by a white person, black person, brown person, or whatever color pops up. Of course if a non-black person uses that word it’s racist, but it’s perfectly okay for black people to call each other nigger or some rap music-inspired version of it.

On Tuesday I was waiting for the light rail by a park that is frequented by lots of homeless people, drug addicts and people who would have been better off at a place like Agnews used to be. I’m always a bit nervous sitting there, waiting for the right train, so I am hypervigilant almost to the point of paranoia.

A pair of buses pulled up into their spaces, and passengers began to board. Suddenly a very obese black man with no shirt on came running as best he could across the street, hollering for the bus to wait. No problem, there was a line.

In the meantime, a black woman came from the end of the block screaming every racial epithet used on black people. She was screaming for the bus driver to not let “that motherfucking nigger-ass onto that bus!” She was screaming so incoherently I have no idea what he did to offend her. As she got closer to the bus the man jumped down from the steps (he now had a shirt on) and he took off walking (this guy was seriously obese, a la Fat Albert). The gal stepped halfway on the bus screaming at the bus driver to call “fucking 911 on that nigger’s ass.” Apparently the bus driver didn’t do as she asked, and she jumped off the bus, screaming racial epithets at the Latina bus driver. The gal starts running after the guy, and I realize I am between them. What if either or both had a gun? Then I thought how much it sucked that I thought that, probably because both people were black and the gal was so obviously out of control.

Fortunately a cop had the misfortune to drive by and she flagged him over, screaming incoherently yet again, the epithets flying. The cop flipped a U-turn and went after the fat guy, who had walked to the end of the block, not once breaking out into a run. Who knows what happened, because my train came and I was happy to climb aboard.

I hate to make blanket statements about a group of people, especially because I know so many good friends whose skin color happens to be black, and I know those people do not use that word in any way, shape or form. But the double-standard in its usage pisses me off. It’s a nasty word, a negative word. Use it and the world around you thinks a whole lot less of you, and may be scared of you. To me, it’s offensive regardless of the skin color of the person using the word.

Half-thought #4

The San Francisco County District Attorney Kamala Harris announced that her office would not be seeking the death penalty against Edwin Ramos, an illegal alien career criminal gang banger with his very own anchor baby, who murdered a SF man and two of his sons in broad daylight in June 2008. The worst that can happen to him is life in prison without the possibility of parole (haha right that's easy to change!) if he is convicted. Remember we are talking about an San Francisco jury—those people are who elected Kamala Harris in the first place! Even though one of the Bologna sons survived the attack and is now an eye witness, that may not be enough to put Ramos away!

To contrast, the San Joaquin County DA announced that it will seek the death penalty against Melissa Huckaby who is accused of killing eight year old Sandra Cantu and stuffing her body into a suitcase. At least that is being put on the table for the jury to decide.

Both cases have special circumstances attached which makes the murders death-penalty eligible. Thing is, Ramos will be a hero in prison, a gang leader, someone for the little gangstas to look up to. At least if he were on death row his contact with other people would be limited. If he ends up in prison he'll be a big man ...

I don't know if a San Joaquin County jury would be able to give the death penalty to Melissa Huckaby. I still think that one's going to get a change of venue. Here in Santa Clara County would make it possible for me to attend that trial; the superior court building is just 10 light rail stops away from where I live.

Enough for now. I think sleep can come now ...

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