Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Saturday Outing

K-9 Dog Search and Rescue Team 007

SLO-4-PUPS, the group that created the first off-leash dog park in the county, hosted The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue K-9 Team for a demonstration at El Chorro Off Leash Dog Park.

K-9 Dog Search and Rescue Team 001

The team is an all-volunteer group who train their own dogs for a variety of search work.  In addition to training their dogs, they are also trained as medical first responders,  and trained in navigation, as well as bush craft and wilderness survival skills.  The latter is necessary since the teams are often required to be out in the wilderness and if they need to they must be able to survive for several days on their own.
K-9 Dog Search and Rescue Team 008
The dogs can be trained for a variety of uses from man-trailing, to go-find (the dog searches for a person then comes back to alert the handler when found), disaster work (the dog is taught to only scent on living people trapped under rubble, for example, so as not to waste time digging for the dead), and cadaver work (the dog is trained to scent for dead human flesh smell in a variety of places, including on the water where decomposing flesh releases gasses to the surface which the dog detects.)

Dogs’ noses are one of the wonders of the world.  While all dog’s have remarkable scenting abilities, the king of the heap is the bloodhound – all that wrinkled flesh on the face and all sloppy drool in the mouth act as scent molecule traps. The one drawback with bloodhounds is that they can’t be worked off-leash since once they pick up the scent, they’re gone, and few handlers can keep up with them, but for man-trailing on a leash, they are spectacular.

In addition to scenting ability, search and rescue dogs have to have a high drive for the search (Gottafindit! Gottafindit! Gottafindit!), a good amount of endurance, agility and strength to withstand hours of often grueling work, over hill and dale, scrambling over rough terrain. In addition, the dogs have to have a calm and focused temperament which allows them to be in noisy, chaotic environments, like getting into roaring  helicopters with no fear, riding in a variety of noisy vehicles, and be around many stressed out people, all the while remaining focused and ready to get to work.

K-9 Dog Search and Rescue Team 010
Which is why German Shepherds and a variety of retrievers are the most popular dogs picked for the work; Good noses, strength and endurance, and a drive for the work. 
Interestingly, with the rise of GPS devices, more people care able to get themselves out of the wilderness, so that work has diminished. Which means that more and more search and rescue work is now focused on finding lost Alzheimer patients, or people suffering from mental impairment problems, or  lost children, all of whom can wander away and need to be found as quickly as possible.

Our local K-9 teams work in concert with other counties all-volunteer teams and together are a great resource.  If you ever get into trouble and need to be found, that snuffling noise you hear in the dark will likely be the happiest sound on earth you’ll ever hear.  Go find!

K-9 Dog Search and Rescue Team 009

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good Riddance, Roger

Yesterday’s Tribune had a glowing paean to retiring Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board executive officer Roger Briggs.  Supervisor Bruce Gibson’s typically smarmy, oleaginous pull quote was featured.  Said Gibson, “I know him [Roger] as an executive officer who is deeply committed to preservation of groundwater quality.  I think he pursued his job with a great deal of integrity.”

Really?  I daresay there’s a great many people here in Los Osos who would beg to disagree.  And anyone who sat through Roger’s Mad Hatter Tea Party and Torquemada’s Auto de Fe Kangaroo Kort of The Los Osos 45 would snort through their noses at such an idea of . . . integrity. 

For those who have forgotten, when the good citizens voted to move their sewer plant to a site out of town (a not unreasonable idea, in a sane world) Roger cooked up his Mad Pumping Scheme and presented it to the full Board.  In a fit of pique and with an astonishing lack of knowledge of how septic tanks actually work, Roger presented for Board approval a plan to have everyone in Los Osos pump their tanks every two months.  The septage would be hauled to Santa Maria for disposal, thereby removing gazillions of gallons of water from an already overdrawn water basin.  This looney scheme made absolutely clear that Roger didn’t have a clue how septic tanks worked.  Neither did the Board itself, which is absolutely astounding in a Board that had life and death power over a community made up entirely of homes on  . . . septic tanks.

During the Mad Pumping Scheme hearing, citizens after citizen rose to tell Roger and the Board what they already should have known:  Too rapid a pumping schedule disrupts the flora and fauna of a properly operating tank and results in worse discharges and hampered leach fields. It’s the worst thing you can do if you want to “preserve groundwater quality.” Only a complete incompetent could have come up with such a hair-brained scheme and only a dangerously uninformed Board would have sat there with their fingers up their noses seriously considering such nonsense.

Finally, into the fray, appeared Dr. Wickham, CEO of Sludgehammer Septic Systems, a guy who does know something about septics.  He cleaned everybody’s clocks and made clear to the world what idiots were in charge of this Board.

Then the head of the regional air quality board wandered up to the podium and put the hammer down:  Gazillions of trips with pumper trucks into and out of Los Osos times 4,500 homes would spew out gazillions of tons of pollutants and that was soooooo not gonna happen on his watch.  Which stopped the whole ridiculous dog and pony show cold.

Now, really, really miffed, Roger, “committed to preservation of groundwater quality,” came up with an even more damaging scheme:  He singled out 45 happless citizens, The Los Osos 45, by a process that to this day remains unexplained, the documents to the selection process conveniently having been destroyed.  Then he slapped CDOs (cease and desist orders) on the 45 and set up the biggest looney-tune Mad Hatter CDO trials the world has ever seen.  Nobody who sat through that mad proceeding could believe their eyes.  It was beyond the looking glass. 

For months and months, 45 citizens were jerked around, their homes threatened, their health damaged, their peace of mind ruined, their lives turned upside down. At least one premature death was, from all reports, a direct result of Roger’s pique and ire. The “case” started lumbering, huge reams of testimony was duly recorded, vast piles of money was expended, tax-payer money, then the attorney for the terrified 45 pointed out a few legalities and the whole thing came to a screeching halt. 

Do over! Do over! yelled the Board, as if you can un-ring a bell.  So the whole shambling show rumbled back to life, now more confusing than ever.  To this day nobody is sure what testimony was in or out, one CDO recipient is still in limbo, and now the whole thing sits on appeal, having cost the State of California at least $500,000, likely closer to a cool million.

And what was the “trial” all about?  Well, Roger told the Board that it was about “water quality.”  But the CDOs put on the homes of The Los Osos 45 disappear when they sell their homes. Since nobody digs up their septic tanks when they move, the tanks remain behind, but with no onerous CDO on them.  Same tank.  Same discharge.  So, no.  The Mad Hatter Trial and the CDO’s had nothing to do with water quality. They were, plain and simple (and made clear from the dais by board Chairman Young) electioneering blackmail to get the community to vote the “right way” on the sewer bond issue. (Something the community was going to do anyway, without threats.)

And that small inconvenient fact illustrates the truly despicable element of the whole behavior of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Roger, their CEO:  They believed a false narrative about Los Osos.  They believed that false narrative, fed them by Roger and other certain groups, primarily among them the Pandora Nash-Karner-led “Dreamers,” that anyone who opposed a sewer in the middle of their town was “an anti-sewer obstructionist;” that the whole town was anti-sewer, that we were a community full of Moonbeam McSwines willfully rolling around in our own urine, scofflaws and miscreants who deserved to be punished and  “fined out of existence,” as Pandora so sweetly  put it in an email to her good buddy, Roger. 

That was a lie.  That was a lie that Roger fed the Board repeatedly and it was a lie that the Board didn’t bother to examine for themselves.  Which exposed the Board as a gaggle of incompetents who were not willing to do their due diligence. In a sane world, Roger Briggs should have been fired after Dr. Wickham got done with him and his staff.  And for agreeing to go forward with the whole looney Mad Hatter “trial,” the entire Board should have had brown paper bags popped over their heads and been frog-marched into resignations, to be replaced with a competent Board that put science and facts and common sense pragmatism before pique and lies.

But we don’t live in a sane world.  So we got Board failure, CEO deception, staff and Board incompetence, illegal electioneering, a huge waste of public funds on a nonsense fake “trial,” and  none of it – none of it – had a beneficial effect on so much as a single drop of water. Indeed, Roger’s lunacy and the Board’s failures and incompetence made things worse by delaying progress on the sewer, diverting time and energy and money, and fueling an already frightened, divided community into hostility and unnecessary opposition instead of working for a unified effort focused on moving forward. Not to mention, Roger’s pointless mad schemes hastened the death of at least one person and damaged the health and lives of many more. 

And now Roger’s off on a happy retirement, not a care in the world, Supervisor Gibson’s smarmy words in a bold pull-quote on the front page of the local section of the newspaper, complete with a picture of Roger, smiling. 

Oh, and yes, the Tribune does note, “Briggs described the controversy caused by his agency’s efforts to stop the water pollution in Los Osos as ‘not a happy memory.’”  No, indeed not.

Well, good riddance, Roger.  I hope your replacement as CEO will be someone who has more integrity and common sense than you did and understands that false narratives (lies) and Mad Hatter Trials and Mad Pumping Schemes don’t do a lick of good to keep our waters clean. They just damage the organization you work for and can do untold damage to a whole community.   


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dive In

Swim time!  Or not.  "SLO County Sheriff's Department: Fake "Los Osos Community pool Association" a "Civil matter."  at

Well, of course it is.  As it says in Chinatown:  ". . .as little as possible . .  . ."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

And Finally, One Last Note

Aurora's fifteen minutes of fame are up.  The politicians have left, the maintenance crews are sweeping up the balloons and empty coffee cups. And there, in the morning's paper is a picture of James E. Homes, the mass murderer, sitting in a courtroom, a pasty-faced sad-sack with tangled badly dyed orange hair.  And the only response possible is, "Well, now, don't you just look the perfect fool? Last night you were all  Dr. Apocalypto. And now?  You're just a bad case of bed-head hair." 

Thus is it always.  Always.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

O.K. Aurora, Time To Move On

O.K. Aurora, enough with the boo-hooing.  The President has shown up and felt your pain.  The Pols have nattered on about the strength of the community and how it will come together to heal.  The Pols and yakking TV heads have all said that now is not the time to mention the word "gun." God forbid anyone discuss the issue or start asking questions.  Noooo, can't have that discussion.  Need to mop the blood off the floor first.  And by that time the topic will be soooo yesterday that nobody will bother.

At the I-Feel-Your-Pain memorial service, Aurora mayor, Steve Hogan, read out the names of the dead and asked the crowd to respond to each name by calling out,"We will remember."

Really?  Remember?

The next day the headline in the L.A. Times Calendar entertainment section said, "Moviegoers undeterred by tragedy," and noted that the Batman movie broke all records and continues to break records.  Nothing like a little killing to goose the ratings.  Lots of money to be made in them there multi-plexes.  Lots of money.

The radio news reports that sales of guns have skyrocketed.  The reporter says it's a fear-fueled spike.  Nothing like more guns in the hands of unstable, scared crazy people to fix the problem of too many guns in the hands of unstable, scared crazy people. 

Over at the website "Rotten Tomatoes," anonymous bloggers started posting ugly, threatening remarks about the few critics who dared offer an opinion of the Batman film that was less than glowing.  The web editor had to suspend user comments, so ugly and hateful had the anonymous posters had become.

Ugly, hateful anonymous posters filled with rage, posted by unstable, scared crazy people seething with fury.  That's now our zeitgeist.  But, we can't talk about that either.  Not now.  Remember, now is the time to focus on the families of the dead.  Oh, and keep moping up the blood.  So much blood.  So many mops. Better order more to get ready for the next gun slaughter, which will come like clockwork. Especially since there's now even more guns in the hands of even more unstable, scared, crazy angry people.

Yes, it's our National Wack-A-Mole Game and it's being played in Alzheimer Nation!  Can't beat it for blood AND constant short-term-memory surprise! Woa! did you see that?  12 dead.  Who could predict that!  Woa! 8 dead. That's never happened before!  Woa! 18 dead. Who knew that could happen!  Woa!  32 dead.  Never saw that coming!  Woa! . . . .  

But let's not talk about that either, time to move on, let the healing begin, we'll remember, blah-blah, blah.




Monday, July 23, 2012

Another View

Chris Boyle, a friend of mine who lives up north, wrote the following in response to the recent Colorado slaughter and I am posting this with permission.  There is so much that can be said about this issue, so many questions that can be asked, so much that can be done. If only . . . 

Violence in America: The Enemy Within!
The Denver Theater, Trayvon Martin, Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, Virginia Tech, Columbine . . . why do we continue to gun down people in movie theaters, urban projects, suburbs, grocery stores, schools and universities? Is killing innocent men, women and children part of the “American Way”?  The answer, unfortunately, seems to be "yes."  It’s true that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," but it's also true that it's significantly easier for people to kill people if they use guns.

The depth of the commitment to the right to own fire arms means that we're not going to see the end of guns on sale at Wal-Mart, and local sporting stores, any time soon.  In fact the opposite is true.  Just last year the retail giant decided to resume the sale of guns to attract more male buyers and revive its appeal as a “one-stop shopping” destination.  I bet that if you listen closely, you can hear, “Honey, can you pick up some diapers and milk at the store?  And while you’re there, can you pick up a Remington 12-gauge shot gun?

Yes, our culture has taught us that there’s not much of a difference between diapers and guns.  Violence is as American as Mom’s apple pie.  The recent tragedy at the suburban Denver multiplex theater brings this into sharp focus.  As the new and highly anticipated Batman release from Warner’s, "The Dark Knight Rises” played on the screen, a gunman dressed in black and wearing a helmet, body armor and a gas mask entered the theater from a side door and stood there – his shape outlined by the streetlights outside the door. According to witnesses, so blurred was the division between fantasy and reality, that some of the audience thought that the killer was part of a promotional stunt for the movie.
Like nearly all superhero films made today, the movie has several violent scenes of public mayhem. In which criminals and murderers target innocent citizens and the police.  In one scene, the villain Bane leads an attack on the stock exchange and, in another, leads a shooting and bombing rampage on a packed football stadium, much like the multiplex theater.  One law-enforcement official on the scene said that the 24-year-old grad student, suspected of murdering 12 and leaving 59 others injured during a midnight screening, "had his hair painted red...he was the Joker."  Can the violence in “Dark Knight Rises” or Batman video games be blamed for this?

Yes, I think they’re a big part of the problem.  To be clear, the guns used by students, or gangs, or unhinged, delusional individuals have certainly killed people.  However, that’s only half of the story.  The real truth is closer than you think.  They are our kids who have been fed an endless stream of violent video games, music, movies and prescription psychotropic drugs. It is well known that many of the student mass murderers were being prescribed mind-altering psychiatric drugs. T.J. Solomon, the 15-year-old from Conyers, Georgia who shot six classmates in May 1999, was on Ritalin; Eric Harris, 18 years old, the Columbine killer, was being prescribed the anti-depressant Luvox; and Kip Kinkel, the 15-year-old from Springfield, Oregon who killed both parents, two schoolmates, and wounded 20 other students on May 21, 1998, was being prescribed Prozac, one of the most widely prescribed among the anti-depressants.

It’s also about Baby-Boomers, members of my generation who have abandoned their families and divorcing in record numbers.  One of the unfortunate legacies of the “Me Generation” are these overly prescribed, often spoiled, unsupervised and undisciplined children who have learned the being disrespectful is cool.  Raised with a sense of entitlement, many are also angry because they can’t find jobs in a down economy, and need a focus and outlet for their rage.  The most troubled end up as “Stone- Cold Nintendo Killers,” but in many ways, they are victims too.  It’s worth noting that the gunman in Denver was only 24 years of age and the 4 weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammo and SWAT protective gear he used were all legally purchased. 

These are some of the real issues informing our “gun-toting” culture of violence.  It’s true that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," but it's also true that it's significantly easier for the angry and alienated among us to kill people if they use guns.

 Chris Boyle
Carmel, CA

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This prose poem by Charles Simic is from his book, "The World Doesn't End."

     Someone shuffles by my door muttering: "Our
goose is cooked."
    Strange!  I have my knife and fork ready.  I even
have the napkin tied around my neck, but the plate
before me is still empty.
     Nevertheless, someone continues to mutter
outside my door regarding a certain hypothetical,
allegedly cooked goose that he claims is ours in

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Sequels

Calhoun’s Cannons for July 21, 12,

Summer Sequels

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
                                                               Joan Didion

            It’s all Hollywood now, nothing but damned sequels.  Columbine, Virginia Tech, Luby’s cafeteria in Texas (23 people were taken out there. You forgot that one, didn’t you?), Congresswoman Giffords, Ft. Hood, now Aurora, Colorado, a mass shooting at a Batman premier.  Here we go again. Another damned summer sequel! 
          Same assault weapons, same high-fire, large magazine cop-killer handguns, same angry crazy guy, same dead people, same floor awash in blood and bullets, same ritual of faux cries of shock and outrage, same 24/7 cathartic TV coverage (great for the ratings!). And always the same hack dialogue, the sad-faced pols asking us to pray for the families of all the dead people, the excited, shocky survivors declaring how grateful they are that God was looking out for them, at least. 
            Then comes the braying calls for better gun control and the same old questions:  Why do we allow the country to be awash in weapons of war?  Of course, there’s never a serious answer to that question, but it has to be asked.  Like in old war movies you just know the guy who pulls out a photo of his family will be the next to die.  It’s a cliché but it just has to be in the script. 
            Yes, it’s all a hackneyed formula, but the AK-47 question is needed to segue to the NRA and its wholly owned Congresspeople who trot on stage to declaim their battle cry:  Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is followed by talk-radio voices from the heartland who declare that if all those people attending that Batman movie had been carrying weapons of their own, the shooter would have been taken out in a matter of seconds, which is even more blood fantasy: The Hollywood vision of a theatre filled with highly trained snipers, our very own American Leatherstockings, who can shoot the eye out of a squirrel in a tree on a hill six miles away and do that even in a dark theatre filled with tear-gas and chaos.  That’s a fantasy script that regularly plays out in the heads of so many out of shape, middle-aged American males who have been watching too many Liam Neeson movies.
              Yes, Folks, it’s another episode of The All-American Komic Kabuki Theatre of Blood with a script as preordained as a Noh theatre piece.  It never changes. It’s all damned sequels now.  But we never get tired of the reruns.  Not Americans.  Like little children who want Mommy to read the same story over and over and over again, we can’t get enough of this particular story --big guns, lots of big guns, we love those, and the Rambo, Bruce Willis, Falling Down, Yippee-ki-yi Guy who doles out rough justice to all those people who’ve done us wrong, we love that guy! He’s our contemporary Deerslayer, once described by that sniffy Englishman, D.H. Lawrence, as “A man who keeps his moral integrity hard and intact.  An isolate, almost selfless, stoic, enduring man, who lives by death, by killing, but is pure white.”  Yep, that’s our secret inner vision:  Every man armed, out there on the edge of the Indian-infested wilderness, stoic, a killer. Give us AK-47s or give us death!
            And the violence.  We love that, too. We need that killing like a coke-head needs that spoon up his nose, then another and another, we just can’t get enough.  We’re a culture filled with anger, paranoia and fear, addicted to the pornography of violence, living on the rage and adrenaline. Faster pussycat, kill-kill!
            In a sane world, this state of affairs would cause despair in a normal person.  Or prompt serious evaluation of the culture.  Or even an intervention. But despair and questions and interventions only function if there’s hope that things can change.  Since things will never change here, despair is pointless.  So are questions.  And things will never change because the sad truth is this:  Americans love their guns more than they love their children, more than they love their friends and neighbors, more than they love their fellow citizens, more than they love even themselves. 
            Since that’s the case, the only sane response is laughter. Silly us.  We’ve turned ourselves into a bloody rerun of a bad movie that’s now on a constant replay loop.  Whack-a-Mole and we’re the moles. Of course, in a sane world, America would be declared insane and locked up in a mental hospital to keep her from doing harm to herself and others and be given treatment to restore her to health. Sadly, that isn’t about to happen, because we do not live in a sane world.
            So, grab your car keys. I hear there’s a gun sale at Wal-Mart. Time to stock up.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Legally Fabulous

Run, don't walk, better yet, dance down to the the PCPA to see "Legally Blonde," the musical.  Last day is Sunday, July 22, so you'd better hurry because you don't want to miss this one.  You can call the box office at (805) 922-8313 or go to and get your tickets. 

I am always impressed with the work they do at the PCPA.  I don't think I've seen a bad play there, but this presentation is particularly amazing; fast, funny, touching, a splendid production with a fabulous cast, sets, choreography, music, costumes, you name it.  Plus Andrew Philpot (a PCPA equity actor regular) stealing the stage every time he showed up as the too-full-of-himself UPS guy. 

Don't miss this one.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This from Elder Olsen in "Last Poems."

In Despair He Orders a New Typewriter

I want a typewriter
Without any letters
Just punctuation marks
Letters make words
Words make language
There s too much language
Too little punctuation
It all runs together
There s no content anyway
When every advertisement
Annuls another
Every Politician s speech is
A try and see what you make of it
Roarschach inkblot

Cut down on question marks
My mind nowadays
Is so full of question marks
They could make enough coat hooks
For the congressional cloakroom
But let s have some numbers
We can number all cliches
All platitudes all promises
I yearn for a future
When all advertisements
All politcal rhetoric
Will be nothing but numbers
And pornographic novels
Nothing but asterisks
And convulsive commas

Or at least a return
To those simpler days
When it went without saying
That and enemy could be
Hazardout to your health
When enemies meeting
Used punctuation only
Could exclaim merely
By the definite emphasis
Of war club or battle axe
And with dagger or spear point
Put an absolutely final

Friday, July 13, 2012

Requiem or Renewal?

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for July 13, 12

Remember, democracy never lasts long.  It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.  There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
                                                                 John Adams

If we’re going to make it until November without shooting holes in the flat screen TV, I think we need a few new rules if we’re to keep our sanity.

First, dump the words “job creators,” when referencing rich people who don’t want to pay the same tax rates as their secretaries. That’s one of those made up fake Frank Luntz words designed to mislead and deceive.  Rich people are not job creators.  Here’s who’s a job creator: Joe Izzywick, works down at the last tool and die plant in Akron, drives an old Chevy truck.  Joe wakes up one morning and says, “Hey, I need a new left-hand framestam.”  So he goes to the hardware store and buys the last framestam on the shelf and the store owner calls his supplier and says, “We’re out of framestams,” and orders more.  At the framestam factory, the owner says, “Dang, I’m getting these orders for framestams and we’re at our maximum production limit now.  I’d better hire somebody to make more framestams since apparently there’s a run on the things.”  So he hires another framestam maker.

That’s the job creator -- Joe Izzywick, not some rich guy with his piles of tax sheltered money squirreled away in the Cayman Islands. Make sure Joe Izzywick has enough money in his jeans to buy framestams and your economy will hum.  Old Henry Ford knew that.  He paid his workers a higher than normal wage at the time because he wanted to make sure they had enough money in their jeans to buy his cars.  Henry Ford’s workers were job creators, not Henry Ford.

Next, just gracefully bow to the end game of the Roberts Court’s “Citizens United” decision:  America has gone from a country ruled by an aristocratic, landed gentry, to a Jacksonian one-man-one-vote small-d democracy and is now going back to a country ruled by wealthy landed, corporatized gentry once again.  Unlimited money in secret PACS don’t have too much bang for the buck in national Presidential races, but they sure do pay off big time in the down-ticket races to control Congress and the Senate.  Those seats can be targeted and bought for a relatively paltry amount.  And once you own those congresspeople, paid for, lock-stock-and-barrel, you can write the laws yourself ALEC-style and garner for yourself all kinds of swell legal loopholes and paybacks – it’s a corporate lobbyist’s wet-dream without the expensive lobbyist. Buy direct and save!

This game plan works well at the local level as well.  If your community’s ripe for some company coming in to build a huge mega-mart store but public sentiment and the elected officials are opposed to such a scheme, don’t be surprised to see a long game at work when new city council candidates appear fully funded with a campaign coffer stuffed to the gills with undisclosed PAC money.  Change the city council and you change the planning commissioners and shortly thereafter a megastore arises in the middle of town while the townspeople wake up and scratch their heads and wonder what happened.

The new Roberts Rules is what happened.  So we all might as well kick back and amuse ourselves setting up local guess-the-jelly-beans-in-the-jar type betting pools; Whoever comes closest to guessing the exact price of their new “elected” officials wins the pool.  

I know, you’re whining now.  You’re probably feeling abused and bruised and badly used.  Like your society and government is out of sorts, off track, failing, out of control.  Like suddenly this isn’t the America we used to know, so people keep muttering about how we have to take our country back.  But back from .  .  . what?

Sadly, there is no “back.”  For thirty-some years Americans have voted themselves into nothings. With each election we continued to devalue the Commons we were once a vital part of, we swore allegiance to NoTax Norquist and defunded our schools and infrastructure (and the future of the next generation), we voted people into office who began the process of moving money from the middle class up to the 1%, we off-shored our own jobs, then blew the last of our savings on the newly de-regulated Wall Street casino. (Who needs Glass-Steagall? The free market will solve all problems!)  Step by step, vote by vote, we turned ourselves from being productive, responsible citizens into a bunch of needy losers, annoying poor people, excess baggage, an unneeded drag on the economy.  In short, we made ourselves irrelevant.   

We the people, without the “we” part.  So here we sit.  All us job creators, all us defunct former citizens, watching somebody else's new game with new rules. And a seriously unlevel playing field filled with the finest elected officials money can buy, all for critical election choices coming up:  Continue the transformation to a full blown corporate aristocracy or  switch direction towards a quasi-Jacksonian, demi-corporate, smaller d democracy that at least pays some attention to the peasants. 

An interesting turn of events, you say?  Well, yes. So, place your bets, my fellow serfs, place your bets. The wheel is spinning.




Sunday, July 08, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This from "What Love Comes To, New & Selected Poems," by Ruth Stone.

That Day 

Since then we've gone around the sun fifty times.
The sun itself has rushed on.
All the cells of my skin that you loved to touch
have flaked away and been renewed.
I am an epidermal stranger.
Even enormous factories.  So much.
Even the railway station--
ball-wracked.  Eliminated.
Now the dead may be pelletized,
disgorged as wafers in space.
Some may be sent to the sun in casks,
as if to Osiris.
Where is that day in Chicago
when we stood on a cement platform,
and I held your hand against my face,
waiting for a train in the warm light?
That given moment-by-moment light,
which, in a matter of hours from then,
had already traveled out of the solar system.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Helooooo, Where's Darrell?

So, Darrell Issa was running around with his hair on fire, shrieking about how the Obama administration was the most corrupt administration in history and how Obama was allowing massive gun-walking to Mexico to create a blood-bath so bad it would scare Americans into allowing him to institute gun control laws here in this country and take away everyone's guns (this eternal lunatic conservative's drooling wet-dream scenario was coughed up by some nutter CongressIdiot and Issa dutifully parroted it on TV, to his everlasting disgrace.) and how he, Darrell Issa, The Oversighter, was the only person who stood between chaos and tyranny and the utter ruination of the Republic!

So he loudly, amidst the blare of headlines featuring Darrell Issa, ginned up a contempt of Congress vote against AG Holder from a profoundly contemptible Congress (many members of whom were directly threatened by the NRA if they didn't vote the "right" way).  First time in history!  Darrell Issa was in the books now, smile for the cameras!  

And the attorney general's office said, Meh, shoved the paperwork off its desk with a sniff, refused to prosecute, said no laws were broken.

And suddenly, the media went dark.  Not a peep. Not a photo op. Not a word from Darrell Issa.  Except a final confession that, no, well, er, uh, um, no, he didn't have any evidence that anybody in the administration (you remember, the most corrupt administration in the history of the world!) broke the law, so, um, er, well, . . . nevermind.

At that was that.  Silence.  The theatre went dark. Which begs a question, If there are no cameras present, does Darrell Issa even exist?  Like the tree in the forest that falls and nobody knows?

Well, I can only presume that Darrell Issa, the Oversighter, the Joe McCarthy wannabe, is back at work.  The cat at the mouse hole poking his little paw in and out, claws extended, fishing hoping against hope, Oh, pluueeezeee, plueeezzee, miaow-miaowwwww, just let me find one little eenzie-weensie mousie in there, pluueeeeze, plueeeze, tail twitching, eyes rolling back, whiskers trembling and always on the lookout for the cameras, the cameras, where are the goddamed cameras!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Slow and Dubious

Here's what you need to know to understand "Fast and Furious:"

1. The single most important thing to Darrell Issa is Darrell Issa.  His career, his photo ops, his headlines, all of which are designed to benefit Darrell Issa. 

2.  The second thing you need to know about “Fast and Furious, is that in Arizona, any 18 year old kid with no felony record can walk into any gun store and buy any guns in any quantities, including assault rifles, and take them to an intermediary (of which there are many, many) who will “walk” them across the border for resale. Easy peasy.  After all, 70% of all weapons used in Mexican drug crimes came from the U.S.  Exporting guns is big business here.
So if Darrell Issa is actually interested in “oversighting” anything other than how Darrell Issa can garner more grandstanding headlines, he might have Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, brought before his oversight committee and put him under oath and ask Wayne why the NRA is so supportive of “gun walking.”
And invite the FTA and the drug enforcement boys in for a little chat to find out who set up this program and just where and when it went all went south. 
Of course, that sort of “oversight” wouldn’t get Darrell Issa his headlines which, as we know, is what is most important to Darrell Issa.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

From Ted Kooser's Winter Morning Walks: one hundred postcards to Jim Harrison.

december 3
Clear and cool.

I have been sitting here resting after my morning stroll, and the sun
in its soft yellow work gloves
has come in through the window
and is feeling around on the opposite wall,
looking for me, having seen me
cheerfully walking along the road
just as it rose, having followed me home
to see what I have to be happy about.