This is Not Normal

This is not normal.  It is far from normal yet, in order to get through the day, we must each determine how we process and internalize this information.  Some of you ignore it.  Some of you will not believe what I write.  Many of you are repulsed and have been moved to action.  This is not normal.

The president of the United States is a liar.  Period.  I should not need to prove it to you.  It is well documented that he tells roughly 5 new lies per day.

The president of the United States loves dictators and killers.  Again, this is well documented.  He even invited Duterte of the Philippines to visit, knowing that he has personally killed people and ordered many other deaths.

The president of the United States breaks the laws and constitution of the United States each day.  He believes he is above the law.  He decided the anti-nepotism law did not apply to him and appointed his daughter and son-in-law to key posts.  Oh, they are volunteers you say?  Well she has a Chief of Staff and staff.  She sits in meetings with every foreign dignitary that can help her business.  The son-in-law seems to be responsible for everything.  Way more authority and responsibility than a volunteer.  Did I forget to mention that he lied on his security forms?  He’s left off meetings with Russians and business dealings and debts that should have been included.  As one person noted recently, a barber’s license is denied for less.  This goes beyond ignoring a law,

The president of the United States does not know shit about U.S. History.  Again well documented.  See his remarks on Fredrick Douglass and (notes racist) Andrew Jackson among others.

The president of the United States encourages racism and hate.  No?  Haven’t you seen his supporters taking pictures in the White House with the White Power sign?  I have, they aren’t hard to find.  He often uses the language of the neo Nazi’s and White Supremacists.  He is quick to comment on the perception of Muslims (even when he’s wrong) committing violence, but NEVER comments on white radicals killing people of color.  If you don’t see this, it is either because you hold similar feelings or choose not to.  Oh, and don’t forget the multiple fines he paid through his business for racial discrimination.  Just because the decree had no admission of guilt doesn’t mean he’s innocent.  And recently he endorsed the racist candidate in France for Prime Minister.  The US president does not generally comment on the free elections of other countries.  But since this one is known, outspoken racist it is particularly appalling.  Consider taking your blinders off, he is the Racist in Chief.

The president of the United States has worked hard to alienate our allies.  Mexico, Canada, UK, Australia and Germany among others.  That’s the trade he’s made to become a puppet of Russian authoritarian Vladimir Putin.  Hard to miss this.  He has never ONCE criticized Russia, where critics and loose ends are often killed.  Like several this year.  Of course you can choose not to see this and determine its normal to try and ruin the relationships with our neighbors and long time allies.

The president of the United States has not nominated over 500 people to key posts.  He blames the opposition party of stonewalling them.  You can’t stonewall what doesn’t exist.  He also fired every ambassador on his first day in office.  This is not unusual, but not hiring any more is.

The US Attorney General is a known racist.  He is anti civil rights.  He was too racist to be a judge under Reagan.  And for good measure, he lied to congress.  Twice.  Nevertheless, he is still the attorney general.  This is not normal. This is criminal.

The president of the United States fired every single US Attorney well after his inauguration. Probably because one of them was investigating him.  Nevertheless he hasn’t hired any replacements.  This is not normal.

The president of the United States appointed a spy to the top national security job in White House.  It is probable that he knew this when he appointed him.  When the issue was raised to him, he waited until it appeared in the national news to act on it.  I guess it normally takes 3 weeks to fire a traitor, that the previous president had fired. A+B=C  Nope, this is not normal.

The president of the United States requires us, the taxpayers, to pay $500,000 per day for his wife and child to live in a golden tower, away from him.  This is not normal.  It is very excessive.  As a “billionaire” a rational person might  think he would work to defray some of this personal expense.  That silence you hear is a “no”.

The president of the United States requires us, the taxpayers, to spend $3 million most weekends so he can play golf and entertain at his private club in Florida.  How much of that $3 million goes to his club and other business concerns?  How much more is generated by Foreign Governments spending money to meet him there?  I’m guessing at least $1.5 million each trip.  This is a clear violation of ethics and the constitution. This is not normal.

The president of the United States has declared today that the government should shut down in September to teach the opposition party a lesson, because hurting the citizens is the best way to help the country grow and prosper.  Seems more like a move a dictator would make.

The president of the United States thinks it is important to roll back the regulations that help keep our water and air clean.  I don’t.  I think this is criminal.

The president of the United States blames all his problems (and even some that are made up) on the previous President of the United States.  He says something along these lines several times a week.  Can you think of another president that criticized any of his predecessors?  Me neither.  This is not normal.

I could go on for a few thousand more lines.  You see what you want to see.  This is not normal and this needs to end.  Pay attention, this is the worst scandal of many lifetimes.  He can’t suppress everything.  He has no power over state laws.  The congress is clearly compromised. But the courts (other than that one illegitimate SCOTUS judge, the seat was stolen and more will come out) is not beholden.

You can choose to drink the cool aid.  You can choose to be an ostrich.  I value my freedom and yours.  What I’ve described above is not freedom.  It is the slide into authoritative fascism.  It is the need to recreate White Power.  You don’t have to listen to me.  But that is the choice you make.  You are still mostly free.  Today.  Will you still be free tomorrow?

 

 

My Last Election Rant

As with most days, today I find the 2016 Election troubling.  I hear about how horrible Hilary Clinton is, how she’ll bring about a constitutional crisis and that her email server is the worst thing ever.  IT IS WORSE THAN WATERGATE.  We aren’t talking about taxes or the size of the government, we are hearing how she’s terrible and there will need to be a violent revolution.  Exaggeration?  I’ve heard two different sound bites of Trumpers saying they are willing to take up arms, be a patriot and “do what needs to be done.”  You tell me if I’m overstating the potential.

And then today the KKK newspaper, the Crusader, endorses Trump.  The “Trump  Campaign” repudiates the KKK endorsement.  Has Cheeto Jesus?  Has he ever said he respects all people and wants to see harmony in the USA?  No.  He wants the guys with yarmulkes counting his money, not the blacks.  He retweets people who espouse hate, anti-Semitism and see the diversity of our country as “white genocide.”  How is this a thing?  If he doesn’t support it, he sure doesn’t dismiss it.

I see too many references to Clinton as “C*nt”.  Really?  Let’s be honest, Everything Cheeto Jesus does encourages hate.  He calls on people’s fears and assures them at only he can save them.  He’s working by the axiom that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.

He hates everything the Clinton has done in her career as a public servant.  Ok, he’s entitled to an opinion.  What has he ever done for the public good?  I cringe when he talks about being a job creator.  If he wasn’t making money off the backs of others there would be no jobs.  And how do we hold someone up as a “job creator” who refuses to honor contracts and proudly threatens to bury in people in legal expenses when they are upset about not being paid.  This is not about quality of service, it is about his need to increase his profits, or lower his losses when he mismanages his business.  After all, no successful business person will hold up a man with 4 bankruptcies as a role model.  That is the model of failure that got lucky.

But let’s get back to how bad Hilary is.  Yes, she used a private email server and was less than forthcoming about it.  I know as you read this you are perfect and never did anything wrong.  But, let’s be clear.  She wasn’t selling state secrets.  She wasn’t trying to make confidential information easily available.  In fact, the State Department Information Security processes were described as woefully inadequate.  So other than originally trying to stay out of the press, what the issue?  It wasn’t an ongoing criminal conspiracy.  Watergate was.  There wasn’t an order to break in someplace.  That was Watergate too.  There wasn’t illegal wiretapping?  Again that was Watergate.  So, let’s stop the uneven comparisons.  It’s demeaning and ridiculous.

Then there is Benghazi.  While I’m tempted to tell you to go fuck yourself, let’s look at a few facts.  4 lives were lost. That was a tragedy.  Congress cut the security budget; that was not on Hillary.  Trey Gowdy and his misfit witch hunt team have found no smoking gun.  There have been more inquires here than Watergate.  Oh, and many, many more State Department employees were killed under George W. Bush, but we don’t talk about that.

But, you say, Hillary is untrustworthy. Got it.  Let’s look at your heroes.  George W. Bush?  He and Cheney lied to get us into the war in IRAQ.  They abused the public’s trust by manipulating fear to start a war that we did not need to be in.  Thousands of lives lost.  No, I don’t think she’s fallen to that level.

How about George H.W. Bush?  Meh.  But he does bear the burden of knowing about Iran Contra and saying he did not.  I think that’s pretty bad.  Oh, you don’t remember Iran Contra?  Let me remind you.  The US government funneled money Nicaraguan Contras by selling weapons to Iran.  But Hillary negotiated with Iran.  Stop it.

Reagan?  He was President during the Iran Contra affair and it was shown he knew about it.  But he, like Cheeto Jesus, was Teflon, so the public ignored him while Oliver North took the fall.  Of course during Reagan’s administration over 130 officials were investigated, indicted or convicted.  That’s a record to be proud of.  Remember, Clinton has not been charged with anything.  Even today there may be nothing, but people are talking like she’s a mass murderer.

But I digress.  Trump blasts Hillary for “pay for play politics”.  Seriously, people, what other type are there?  What are pork barrel politics, if not a version of pay for play? What was Trump’s donation to Biondi about?  He brags about paying politicians.  Mitch “I’m a turtle” McConnell holds up the Supreme Court nominations because “the NRA needs to approve” them. And that’s not pay for play? That’s not corrupt?  Remember Hillary is accused of quid pro quo, accused of having a few meetings.  There is no proof. There is no indictment.  There still is no smoking gun.  But still the Republican Congress looks for it.  Clearly the Republican Congress thinks this is a better use of our tax money than infrastructure, creating jobs or embassy security.  Pay for play hints at bribery.  There is no proof of bridery.  Shit, there may not have been any meetings.  Next you’ll tell me the Clinton Global Initiative (where nearly 90% of every dollar goes to saving lives, not admin – check that against The United Way) is evil.

How about we stop talking about the monsters under the bed that Hillary must have put there.  There are no fucking monsters so stop acting like you are 6.  Own up and admit that you just don’t like an uppity woman that deigns to think she can be president.  That’s 90% of what bothers you about her.  You think she’s overreaching her station. She’s not in the kitchen making you a pie.  She thinks for herself and **gasp** she listens to others in a world where we prize men that stand and talk about themselves.  Yes she’s not perfect.  But she’s way better than most of our politicians.  And on political matters she’s far more truthful than most.  Of course Rush, Hannity and Alex Jones will poo poo Politifact.  Think for yourself.

I know, she’s no role model like our past Speakers of the House.  You know, pedophiles and serial cheaters.  Those are the people that judge her.  Glass houses are breaking all over the country.

Unlike most, I actually like Hillary Clinton.  There are aspects of her you don’t like. There are aspects to my personality you don’t like either and sometimes I’m not your biggest fan, but we get along.  Why is she held to a different standard? She’s not Teflon.  She cares.  She tries.  So don’t like me. Don’t like her.  But stop dragging her through the mud with half-truths and witch hunts.  Because, let me remind you about the alternative.

Donald Trump is facing a civil suit over the the alleged fraud he perpetuated with Trump University, stealing the money from those who could least afford it.  Fraud. That’s like lying isn’t it?

Donald Trump is going on trial for allegedly RAPING a 13-year old.  I know it is hard to fathom.  He only grabs them by the Pussy.

Donald Trump admits to being a sexual predator (he’s bragging about it) and more than 11 women have stood up to say that he did it to them.  I know that a partisan conspiracy.  Taking him on his own merits, isn’t this troublesome?  If we can open our eyes to the Evil that was Bill Cosby, why do we dismiss these egregious acts?

Donald Trump was indicted twice over racial discrimination practices with his company.  Paying large fines and “not admitting guilt” is not the same as being innocent.  I don’t believe he is innocent.

Donald Trump loves to repeat and retweet anti-Semitic and White Supremicist memes.  Last I saw, it was reported that he had retweeted 75 different people who believe in #whitegenocide.  And I’ll never believe his picture, taken from a racist website, with Hillary and the Star of David was not meant to be Anti-Semitic.  I believe Donald Trump is a Racist dog whistler, at the minimum.

Donald Trump support violence if he doesn’t get his way.  Remember when he encouraged people at his rally to incite violence, take them out on a stretch, etc.?  I do.  What about suggesting 2nd Amendment people to “take care of it” if Clinton gets elected?  No, I have never believed that was a joke. All the talk of a “rigged election” has people wondering about the potential violence after the election from his most ardent supporters. Words have consequences.  Cheeto Jesus doesn’t believe those consequences apply to him.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Donald Trump is at minimum being played by Russia to affect their goals.  He won’t say a bad word about them.  In light of National Security Agencies announcing Russia was behind the DNC and Hillary Campaign hacks, he says “I don’t know.”  But no one near Trump or his campaigns was hacked.  I do not believe this is a coincidence.  We are all vulnerable to hacking. Period.  Ponder that. (edit: and now we have been told the Campaign was in frequent contact with Russian officials…. why do we let that slide?)

Remember how Trump is engaged in a  (civil, class action suit) trial over the Trump U fraud?  Doesn’t it seem odd that NOW he wants to help the common man, the disenfranchised worker?  Why yes, he is offering the middle class a 1% tax cut.  He’s also offering the very wealth a 10% or more tax cut.  So if you make $50k, you will get an extra $35-50 a month or thereabouts.  But if you make $5m, you get an extra 40k (and probably much more) per month in benefits.  But let’s say you are that 1%, you know the people making $500m (you know, like all the Trumps), you just earned an extra 4-6m in tax breaks.  Really? Like they couldn’t survive the 400m or so they already took home?

When Trump brags about not paying taxes because the government would squander it, think about how he spends his money.  His home was described as the tacky furnishing of an Iraqi hotel lobby.  Have you seen his bathroom, covered in gold?  Who squanders what?

Donald Trump hates global markets.  But his clothing line is made in China and Mexico.  He’s not announced any plans to bring jobs back, just that he will.  And I want to be 6’2”. Wanting isn’t a plan.

Donald Trump wants to close our borders.  Not to illegal immigrants, but to all immigrants.  He wants to go back to racially proportionate norms.  Let me translate that.  No more brown people, but white people who want to come from Europe, you folks are ok.  And you wonder why the KKK supports him.

Not all Trump supporters are racists.  But to my knowledge all Racist groups support Trump.  That should bother many more people than it does.

Donald Trump runs a charity that he stopped funding in 2008, according to various press reports.  The charity was used to settle lawsuits, buy personal items and pay personal expenses.  Funded by donations from others, it seems.  And it was shut down by the NY Attorney General.  Hell, he’d never even filed the right paper work to make the charity legal.  But he’s smart enough to be President.

Donald tells it like it is.  He mocks the disabled.  He calls a beauty queen that gained a few pounds Miss Piggy and humiliates her on TV.  He tells Hillary “you’re the puppet.”  Whose puppet I wonder?  He mocks his political rivals (Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Low Energy Jeb – what is it with ‘L’?).  He has told us that Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers (oops a few of them might be good people he supposes).  He told us a Federal judge, born in Indiana, wasn’t fit to preside over a case because he was Mexican!  Seriously.

His battle cry is “LOCK HER UP!”  This is the fitting end for a woman guilty of the crime of being a woman who challenges him.  I wonder if he should have been locked up?  He’s been found liable or settled over 200 law suits over the past 40 (or so) years.  Remember he doesn’t settle.  That’s some sort of judgement or payment every other month.

I get it. There is so much shit swirling around Cheeto Jesus you’ve blocked it all out.  But should you? have we as a country lowered our standards so low that we would even consider this selfish, egotistical blowhard to babysit our kids, let alone the President of our nation?

So when you go to the polls, do you want to vote for the woman continually investigated and never charged (because mistakes aren’t criminal) or do you want to vote for the man about to go to trial fraud (the rape suite has since been dropped).  The man with what seems to be a fake charity so that others can pay his expenses.  The man who brags about degrading and assaulting women.  The man that lies, lies, lies – but it’s ok, he doesn’t mean it.  How much actual bad judgement, illegal behavior and selfishness will you ignore while you hold another to the standard that suspects she is evil?  Think about the world you want to create.

Myriad Randomness: No Trump Edition

Is there anything more annoying than traffic?  As always, I drive for over an hour each morning and nearly 2 hours on my way home.  Today, several thoughts hit me.

  • This is California.  65 is a suggestion for the fast lane on uncrowded freeways.  You should consider visiting the slow lane if you believe 64 is a death sentence.
  • Is there anything worse than the indignant look of the driver doing 64 in the fast lane when you pass him (or her) on the right?  The shame they showered on me was, well, nonexistent.
  • Why no Ma’am, you your pristine white Kia Soul cannot simply bump that stalled truck out of the way.  I believe the word you are looking for is totaled.
  • I hate 880.  I will work hard to avoid it.  Sadly, on days like today when there are accidents up and down that stretch, everyone moves to my alternate routes.  Thank you for the extra 20 minutes of crawling.  My life is now approaching completion.

Eggplant, the poor misunderstood eggplant.  I think it is time we allow the purple globe to leave the island of misunderstood vegetables and live a happier, more fulfilling life.  I’ve been making versions of ratatouille and roasted vegetable, with the humble aubergine front and center.  Seriously delicious good eats those are.  Fuck.  When did I decide to eat healthier?  It must be time to put more pork on the smoker.  Don’t get your hopes up, I’m still not going anywhere near albacore — in or out of a can.

Normally we get nostalgic as we realize how far technology has brought us.  A TV antenna on a roter to watch slightly less blurry shows.  The rotary phone and the callus it created. The phone book.  A time before salmon roe foam.  I was listening to “The Bad Touch” by The Bloodhound Gang.   For those of you unfamiliar with the hook:

You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals
So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

 How long has it been since there were shows about animal procreation on the discovery channel?  Now you get “Fat and Furious”, “Moonshiners” and “Pacific Warriors”.    I think the world was a kinder, gentler place when cable TV focused on Walrus sex, not deadly situations and careers.  And then I missed the X-Files.

If you aren’t watching “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” you are missing some fantastic comedic commentary on our world.  She and John Oliver are filling the void the left by Jon Stewart by expanding on the niche and adding to our conversations with thought provoking shows.  It is not too late to start catching up.

And please, enjoy your Passover.  Many Matzo sacrificed their balls for your soup.  If this multi-generational mutilation must continue, at least enjoy your soup. And thank your mother.

Your Guns, Our National Shame

Last week, a radicalized Muslim couple slaughtered 14 people and seriously injured many more in San Bernardino Ca.  Rather than start addressing what problems this tragic event spotlights, Radical Islamic Terrorists and easy access to Guns, the right did two very critical things.  They made sure that they galvanized their base so that NO ONE, including OBAMA, takes away their guns and they moved to defund Planned Parenthood. Again.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way.

Yes, Planned Parenthood has a major role in abortions in the USA. More importantly, they are the single largest source of affordable women’s healthcare in the USA.  And the funding they receive from the US Government DOES NOT in any way, shape, or form get used for abortions.  So, this is a smokescreen at best and at worst a horrible swipe at women’s healthcare.  And remember, the video Carly Fiorina constantly talks about was no filmed at Planned Parenthood.  It is propaganda and patently inflammatory and false.  I am I the only one that finds this behavior shameful?

Second, has anyone ever really said “let’s take all guns away!”?  Nope.  Generally it’s a call to reform our existing laws.  Yes I know it the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to bear arms.  Is it unilateral?  All types of guns?  All types of weapons?  Does the NRA really believe that the San Bernardino shooters should have been able to stock pile over 1000 rounds of ammunition?  Who needs that?

Why is it that whenever the topic comes to gun control, it immediately becomes the hysteria that “you can’t take all my guns!”?  Keep a pistol or two.  Keep your hunting rifle.  Ban semi-automatic weapons.  Ban having large magazines for ammo.  Put a cap on the number of rounds a person may buy or have.  We are talking about the means to kill people.  Why do we believe that enabling people to do it better and faster is a good thing?  What happened to our national critical thinking skills?  Stop the partisan politics and take steps to make it harder to gain access to weapons of mass death. That’s what these are.

Yes, the bad guys will still get guns.  But look at last week.  No one thought they were “bad” till they started shooting.  Doesn’t that lead you to believe that there are others like them and that getting guns is too easy?  Take it a step a further.  Even if we had identified these people as potentially dangerous, even put them on the terror list, they can still buy guns.  If you are on the national “no fly” list, you cannot be prevented from legally buying a gun.  In what world does that make sense?

But back to the 2nd Amendment.  In the vernacular of the time, it allowed you to have muskets.  The masses lived in a 2 room house without electricity.  You were worried about a how a monarchy across the ocean might attack us.  There was no mass, efficient, global communications.  But yet we still need rationalize YOUR (not mine) need to have an arsenal of weapons in your home.  If you want to move to a hut in Africa (or another third world country) and worry about the local government, fine have your guns.  There, not here.  This is not our reality.  No matter what Texans think about the national government invading Texas.  That one always cracks me up.

You’ve seen the articles and memes; they incense you.  How dare we take your guns away.  Feel free, shoot your gun at the front page of the New York Times.  That’s and adult response.  For some reason every gun nut decides that we can only throw the baby out with the bath water.  A friend said to me, “I have a gun. I have never had an incident.”  GREAT.  You have one gun and you’d like me to equate that with people that have 20.  Nope.  Keep your gun.  Build limits.  Build regulation.  Be a responsible adult.  We don’t let our children gorge on ice cream till they die.  Why must we treat guns differently?

Last night a friend posted the wonderful “cut and paste” meme that swimming pools, bathtubs and cars (and several other silly things that can lead to death in an accident) are more dangerous than guns.  Lunacy.  Yes there are probably more deaths via auto accidents than guns.  There are more drivers than gun owners (I’m estimating).  But car related deaths are accidents.  Gun deaths are generally not.  And no, I don’t consider the kid crippled as an unintended victim of a drive by shooting an accident.  The gun was fired.  We have more regulations and requirements for driving and car ownership than we do for guns.  Does that make sense?  Couldn’t there be an equivalent licensing and training for gun ownership?  Why do we automatically rule it out?

And before I forget, I really scared that I might bring my swimming pool to a theater and hurt you?  Seriously can we just call that meme top 10 in terms of ridiculousness?

Oh that’s right it doesn’t prevent the bad guys from getting access.  Ok, but it might make it harder.  Why can we not make progress on the issue?  Should we stop treating cancer because we haven’t solved it 100%?  Of course not, that would be stupid and callous.  So is the NRA and their allies stopping any potential improvement in our national problem and shame.

Yes, shame.  We have had more mass shootings to date in 2015 than there have been days thus far.  Is that ok?  Let’s put it in perspective.  Every time there is a mass shooting, it is on you- you are ok with it.  How is it after Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Charlotte, San Bernardino and so many more we cavalierly endeavor to stop all efforts designed make a change for the better?  If you don’t support change in the guns laws these deaths and the next ones are on you. You don’t want a change, so there for YOU are endorsing this behavior.

And to be clear, in my opinion:

Every mass killing (more than 3) is an act of terrorism.  Period.  Not every terrorist is radical Islamic Fundamentalist .  If you block realistic change you are supporting Terrorism.  Its been more than 20 years since the killing in101 California in San Francisco and the Assault Weapons killing In Stockton.  We have made no progress.  NONE!

I’m not saying I have the answer.  I don’t.  But we know that inaction is allowing this to continue and I say ENOUGH!  Let’s do something.  Be heard.  Make some changes.  Stop the grid lock and let’s make progress.  I’m not saying we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater, the NRA is.  Let’s make some progress.

Of course tomorrow or the next day there will be another shooting.  We will all be sad about the tragedy and the gun lobby will prevent any movement.  Own that.  Stand up and declare “I am ok with those people being killed as long as I have my gun rights.”  Stop pretending your actions and thoughts mean anything else.  They don’t and don’t delude yourself that it means differently.  We see you.

SHAME ON YOU.

First World Problems – The Customer Is No Longer King

Sometimes I wonder what other people are thinking.  Or you can hear Jerry Seinfeld ranting “what were they thinking?”  I learned early one that most things have an element of customer service.  I work in IT and while there is a ton of technical details to consider, learn and execute, if you fail on the customer service aspect, you’ve failed completely.  Pretty much everything you do, you are doing for someone.  If they aren’t happy, you aren’t succeeding.  I don’t know about you, but I want to succeed every time.

Of course I realize that many companies put rules in place to manage exactly that their employees can and can’t do which often can result in dissatisfied customers.  This is especially true when the staff are not empowered to use common sense or have avenues to do the right thing.  The corollary to everything is customer service is that it is far cheaper to retain a customer than it is to get a new one.  In this case the cost to retain the customer was $35.  I haven’t made up my mind, but as you will see by this on-line venting, I’m not happy.

Let’s rewind the film to last week.  The hard drive on my satellite dvr/receiver died.  There it was on the screen right before work.  Error 311 I believe.  No NFL AM, no Good Morning America, no Despierta America (ok, that’s a guilty pleasure of dancing and Honey the Chihuahua).  I gathered my wits, went to work and called in the problem to DISHnetwork. Or @dish if you are on twitter.

Issue one, you can’t call in a problem unless you are in front of the TV.  They need way too many numbers to do anything.  Of course I got a call center where they wanted me to reboot the device several times.  Of course I had done this 3 times per the instructions on the error message to no avail.  It was dead as doornail.   This also means no Daily Show or Colbert Report before bed.  How would I get my Fox News?  It made me wonder, why couldn’t the installer have noted which machine was in which room?  Add two pieces of info and the need to specifically identify each device is rendered moot.  Unless they don’t want to.  Hey executives, use this idea for free!

So, here I was at work unable to get this party, I mean process, started.  When I finally got home it was late but I called it in and yet another staffer wanted me to reboot.  I satisfied his inner curiosity and showed him it didn’t work.  As well as you can via the telephone.  So it is Thursday night at 11pm and I finally have  convinced someone to send me a device.  It will cost me $15 in shipping.  Ok.

But of course it will take 2-3 (meaning 3) business days to get to me.  Yep, that means Tuesday, best case.  So of course the device comes at 7:30 PM on Tuesday.  Following the Giants win in World Series game 1, I got to installing the receiver at 10pm.  I can do this.

My first clue something would go wrong was step 6 where the software checks to see if my connected phone line or Ethernet cable is working.  I have had DISH for the better part of 20 years, I have never had a phone cable near where the receiver was.  All that means is that I can’t order pay per view.  Color me crushed.  This is great user interface after it fails that step, it lets me know to try again.  Why not ask me if one is connected?  That’s not an option. So it tries again.  That’s two times at two minutes each.  Remember this.  It will come back like that bad fish from that road house you wish you had avoided.

Then came step 7.  This is the step where it tells you call in to active the receiver.  I call. It knows I want to activate.  So far so good.  It doesn’t like the number I’ve punched in.  I’m reading it off the TV screen.  3 time, no bueno.  I push 0 and hope I get a decent agent.  I do.  She activates it.  Then comes step 7a.  10-20 minutes to set up.  Sigh.

So I say goodnight and watch the status bar move slower than traffic at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza at rush hour. At the 15 minute mark, the screen changes.  That’s right it wants me to call in and activate the receiver, again.  So I call again.  This time there is not activation process, because the system believes it is activated.  I get a nice enough young woman.  Sally as I recall.   She and I had plenty of time to get acquainted.  We were stuck at the activation screen.  She had me  pull the smart card out and that’s when the fun really started.

Pulling the smart card is a hard reset. All sorts of moving parts moved and rumbled.  It was loud.  It was ugly.  It went on for 15 minutes.  And then there was the false ending.  That’s right we were back at the test the phone segment of our show.  FUCK ME.  She suggested I skip this step.  I suggested they put a path for e to skip this step. And we were stuck at the call and activate segment, again.  She sent signals.  I did a rain dance.  I prayed to Cthulhu and the old ones.  No dice.   We pulled the smart card again, and waited 15 more minutes amid the rumbling.

And I’m back at the fucking phone test again.  And the activation screen.  When I’m about to give up and become a Hare Krishna Missionary, it activates.  Of course that means the 20 minute download.  No I’m not letting her off the phone till we are done.  Did I tell you she’s from El Paso and didn’t watch The Bridge? I must have been the only one because she was surprised it was cancelled. She did like Breaking Bad, though.  We bonded watching the status bar do its imitation of paint drying.  I convinced Sally to give me credit on my account, because I had gone 6 days without being able to use that TV.  $7 and change. Woo hoo!

At 23 minutes we discussed the lemon on my dresser and how to replace it.  Then, like Renly’s Ghost on the Blackwater, the TV suddenly went on!  Of course then we waited and bonded for 10 more minutes for the guide any my programming to download.  I hope my mother likes Sally, we’ve become very close  I decided to introduce Sally to the family, as Lambchop slumbered two feet away  ignoring my bonding with the telephone agent.  Finally, I had completed this hideous task.  What should have taken 20 minutes at 9:45 had taken almost 2 hours.  Sally and I parted, my boys would never call her mom.

At 11:45 or so I started watching the repeat of the repeat of the repeat of the World Series Post game.  As the Panda sat down for his interview, the system did hard reset.  That’s right. It was  rumbling and shaking, again making god awful noises.  I was too far into this to quit.  I shut out the light and decided to sleep through it and everything would be good in the light of an October morning.  I should have been thinking mourning.

The third time the system reset and woke me up, I turned off the power to the socket.  Do you think DISH cares that their hell spawned equipment ruined 8 hours of my life?  I don’t think so either. So first thing in the morning, well after a cup of coffee, I called again.  The nice system told me that Sally wasn’t available.  I wondered who the trollop was stepping out on me with.

It didn’t take long to convince the Sally surrogate to send me a new device.  Being reasonable, I asked to have it expedited.  I really didn’t want to wait another 3-4 days because they sent me a lemon.  It would cost $35 dollars to expedite the 3rd receiver.  I suggested as a longtime customer they should waive the fee.  At this point she informs me that because of my less than $8 credit, the expedite fee could not be waived.  I kindly suggested that she reinstate the $7.68 and waive the $35.  She politely informed me she could not.  I suggested she talk to her manager.  He denied me too.  There are rules you see.

Here’s where I got really pissed off.    But first, some background.  I pay DISH in excess of $125 a month.  How much in excess is embarrassing so we’ll skip that.  Let’s just say it has been at that level for about 6 years.  This is the 3rd receiver I’ve had break in 10 years, and I always have 2.  I’m not a high maintenance customer.

They let me know they would waive the $15 standard shipping.  As well they should.  It wasn’t my fault they sent a piece of shit box.  And the kicker?  I was informed if I had paid $8 per month for the protection package, they would have shipped the new receiver overnight FOR FREE!  Let me get this straight, you’d save me $35 if I pay you $96 per year, for the last 4 or 5 years?  I must not be as smart as they think I should be.

DISH is willing to risk a $1500+ per year customer over a $35 charge emanating from their product.  It doesn’t make sense to me either.  Perhaps the customer service VP at DISH is sleeping with the Parking Nazi.  Nothing else really makes sense does it?

An Unexpect Reappearance or Yeah, That Happiness Couldn’t Last Could It?

It had been at least 6 months, but the idiotic lady put another note on my car letting me know I may get towed because I blocked a wall that was a loading dock in some previous life.  It’s the same note she puts there all the time, but today I have new questions to ponder.  Why has she just now decided to tag my car with her ridiculous note?  Was I taking the spot she so desperately needed for her dog groomer?  I wasn’t the only one blocking the walls of her office, so were the others some sort of Oakland unicorn? Or perhaps they were her coworkers, given special dispensation to park in front of the imaginary loading dock.  We’ve already decided she’s a bit off her rocker.

I think my next move is to sell her character to TV as the next sitcom villain, a la The Soup Nazi.  I’m starting to think she’s make a great long running foil for Jeff Garlin on “The Goldbergs”.  Of course first we’ll need to address the subtle anti-Semitism on that show. I wonder if half of the country even realizes they are Jewish.  There are no cultural religious references past the traditional names Adam, Barry and Murray.  Did you miss that there was not Christmas episode? Instead there was a hilarious Thanksgiving episode, with no religious overtones, no dreidels and no latkes.

Let’s suppose the Goldbergs are highly assimilated.  That’s not a crime.  My paternal grandparents were.  But there home and their lives were not devoid of Jewish culture.  It is who we are and what we know.  No one is going to accuse me of being overly religious or unassimilated.  Yet if you look, there are religious symbols in the home, a beautiful Mezuzah on the door, a few special pieces of art here and there.  Some things should never be forgotten.  I hope that Adam’s family remember that this season.  I do seriously want Big Tasty to some sort of hardcore rap espousing the virtues of the latke.  Badly.

Murray and Pops from the Goldbergs would have a conniption with my nemesis, the parking Nazi.

<breaking the 4th wall> By the way, feel free to suggest a new name for this bitch.  She needs a more appropriate name for the next note I put in their mail box. </rebuilding the 4th wall>

Much like myself, the senior Goldbergs would ponder what type of company could this crazy parking lady work for?  Why would they let her run hundreds of copies of ridiculous notes off their copier?  Why would they allow her to antagonize the neighbors and local color?  You know that downtown Oakland, much like Philadelphia, has more than its share of nut jobs.  Why would you risk antagonizing them?  Is parking rage about to become the crisis of 2015?  I can see that.

Let’s look at her erratic behavior from a different angle.  Perhaps she pays for the copies out of her own pocket, either making the copies at some local copy shop or on her home printer. As you recall the note is written in 40pt font with a marker.  If you owned that company and you saw your employee doing that, wouldn’t you wonder what else she was doing?  More importantly, I might question what she WAS NOT doing by focusing on parked cars.  Which leads me to my most disturbing realization.

She either owns the company or holds a position of ridiculously imbalanced importance.  Oh fuck.  Imagine the poor souls whose employment depends on her making sound business decisions.  I’m still waiting for her to have my car towed.  I will own that fucking company.  Meanwhile, I guess I will work up a character treatment and see if I can get a meeting in Hollywood.

I’ve seen Episodes.  How hard can it be?

A Piece of Tape Too Far

An Open Letter to the Parking Nazi at 217 (or is it 229, Who can tell?) Harrison in Oakland, CA.

As you and I both know, I park in front of your building when I drive to work.  I park there because there are always spots there.  You have done such an effective job of scaring everyone away, there is always a spot.  You must realize it is your fault that I infuriate you so much.

(For those of you coming late to this party, 217 Harrison has a banked curb leading to 4 loading docks;  3 of these docks have been converted to office walls or doors, making them LEGAL parking spots.  The office puts flyers on cars, trying to intimidate them into leaving.  I love knowing that 95% of the time I have a spot waiting for me.)

I returned to my car recently, finding 2 new notes.  There was they typical “NO! NO! NO!” flyer, which is often found in on the sidewalk around the neighborhood.  There was also a note, loaded with vitriol, about how you’ve told me many times not to park where I park.  There was also paper taped to my driver’s side window saying “Tow this car!”

I think it is time we clear the air.  For the last several days there have been no flyers on the cars parked where I often park.  Are these your cars or have you been ill?  If you have, I hope you feel better.  I’m neither vindictive or evil, contrary to what you believe.   I feel sorry for you.  Your parents must not have taught you the hard lessons about sharing.  Did you scream when other kids touched your toys?  It must have been lonely not having friends as a child.  The public parking spots on Harrison Street are not yours alone, you really need to share them.  I can only surmise sharing is foreign to you.  I would also point out that putting flyers all over car does not make you my friend.  It does, however, make your passive aggressive and inconsiderate.

Let’s not talk bullshit about how the (mythical, magical) truck needs to park parallel and therefore you are saving me from being blocked in.

  1. Trucks back up to loading docks
  2. Trucks block traffic all the time in our neighborhood
  3. I have never, ever, ever seen a truck at your location
  4. Let’s not forget the time you told me, in our only conversation that you needed access to the windows 8 feet off the ground,  which  told you was ridiculous
  5. Go ahead, block me in.  I work till after 5, often after 6.  What truck driver is leaving your business that late?  That’s right. None.

I won’t minimize the fact that you want these spots all to yourself (or possibly your firm.)  Its an admirable, if misguided goal.  The fact remains that these are public spots and the signs you have posted are not legal.  You do not own the street and any implicit easement was eliminated when your firm build walls rendering the loading docks ornamental.  The parking authority won’t write tickets for the spot I park in and tow trucks won’t be towing me based on your note.  The past 18 months of results bear all this out.

Perhaps you had an “incident” and your sense of reality is skewed.  Did you take the brown acid at Woodstock?  seriously, you were warned. Let me help you in ways your parents and coworkers clearly have not.  Your notes and wishes won’t change reality.  The fact that you don’t want people parking there won’t make it illegal.  I want to win the lottery.  Just because I want to, won’t make it so.  Nevertheless, my odds of success are far higher than yours. Rather than tilting at windmills, perhaps you’d be happier accepting reality and getting on with your life.  This isn’t the Twilight Zone and you won’t wake up tomorrow finding that your misguided sense of reality is the new truth.  Grow the fuck up.

How sad must your life be if you spend this much time placing flyers on cars that aren’t yours?  I’ve seen your work on other vehicles and more importantly, all over the neighborhood.  Clearly you realize that we work near the water and the wind kicks up in the afternoon, cascading your inane flyers over several blocks.  I’m guessing the police are looking for you.  With all the green initiatives in the Bay Area, how do you sleep at night knowing you are a major litter contributor, let alone resource waster?  Have you no consideration for the forests you’ve decimated and the trees you’ve condemned to be part of your folly?

I think you would be better off finding a new hobby.  I don’t think it would be out of line to suggest you start fostering cats.  Start with one, and with your obsessive nature you can add more. Clearly, you will agree that being a crazy cat lady is far better than your fixation on my parking habits.  Let’s be honest, you’ll probably have more friends as the Crazy Cat Lady than you will as the Parking Nazi.  Or at least  you’ll have cats.  And Grumpy Cat on the internet.

Of course if you really wanted to have my car towed, you would have called a tow company.  And since the car isn’t yours the liability you and your company would face in the light of an illegal seizure would be monumental.  It appears that the note you put on my car is a feeble attempt at drawing unsuspecting innocents into your fantasy.  I think it is time you gave up on this fantasy, became and adult and embraced reality.

As I have tried to empathetic to your plight, I know your therapy bills are probably much higher than any plan your company provides, I feel I must be honest with you.  You have annoyed me far more than you have a right to.  I’ve stopped finding your notes funny, silly or sad.  That you have gone so far as to use tape on my car, I feel that your behavior encroaches on battery or defacing of property.  My car is my property and it is not your bulletin board.  Any further defacement of my vehicle will result in my filing charges with the police and ultimately lead to a civil suit.  I am actually considering a class action suit.  You have badgered many people and I’m only too happy to find them and develop a much larger action.  Do you really think all the people you’ve pissed off don’t care?

This is a warning.  My attorney is only too happy to proceed on my next phone call.

I hope you are feeling better.  Perhaps your therapist should increase your Xanax.  You might suggest that on your next visit.

Blue Tuesday

It was a Tuesday, much like any other Tuesday.  Filled with hopes and dreams after the depression that was Monday, but still lacking the joy of a camel on Wednesday.  Nevertheless, dawn broke and employment beckoned.  So, I got up, showered, dressed and joined the commute to work.  This was the day the BART strike ended, but there weren’t many trains running in the morning.  Thusly I drove. Amazingly enough, nothing memorable happened on the way to the office.    When I drive, I park on the street (surely you know this and the parking Nazi at 229 Harrison St.), but then I climb some stairs and take a sky bridge over the train tracks to my office.

Our story will start at lunch.

I decided that lunch should be consumed about 12:30 or so.  I grabbed my book and made my way to Chop Bar for lunch.  I eat there at least once a week and would eat there more if my diet didn’t prohibit me from my previous lusty relationships with their Reuben and Hamburger.  But, at least they have two different salads that allow me to believe I’m eating both healthy and (marginally) decadently.

We may be different you and I, but when I sit at the counter by myself I like to leave an open seat on either side.  It probably goes back to relatively large size and not wanting to encroach on other people’s space.  Or have them in mine.  I don’t like strangers in my space.  Especially, on BART.  So I took a seat one to the right of the couple talking.  She was on my left and he was on her left.

As I opened my copy of The Republic of Thieves, I quickly realized this couple was not a couple.  I saw that there was an open seat between them, but the real eye- opener was his voice.  Gravelly like a rock quarry and grating like brake calipers with worn pads, he was trying too hard to hit on the woman next to him.  He was 3 or 4 beers into drinking his lunch and she was scarfing down the last few bites so she could escape.  “Good,” I thought, “it will make it much easier to read my book.”

I enjoyed roughly 5 minutes of peace when another woman walked in and took the same seat. She ordered a drink and set up her iPad for use.  And then it started.  Reading became difficult and soon reading became a charade.  This was entertaining.

“Is your accent fake? It seems like it.”

He wasn’t happy with that question.  He was from New York and New Yorkers sound like him.  How could she not know?  Turns out she was from upstate New York, so he belittled her for that.

“Is Yiddish your first language?” I couldn’t really believe she asked that.

“Why would you say that!” he raged as though she called his mother a whore.

“My Husband’s Jewish.  You look Jewish.”

From there he attacked her naiveté.  And then he got to the fact that he has triple citizenship: US, Italy and **gasp** Israel.  If this guy is Jewish, I many consider converting. I’ve always thought the Hare Krishnas were on to something.  If G-d wants me in heaven, he needs me to have a ponytail to pull on, right?

Let’s be honest:  he was an asshole and she seemed to one of the people who help keep the average IQ at 100.  Not stupid, but she’s not in line for a Nobel Prize or finishing the Times Crossword Puzzle any time soon.

By now she’s flustered and her food arrives.  She asks for a to-go box and gets out of there quickly, though he is still trying to engage her.   3 minutes after she leaves, he leaves.

At this point I’m the only one at the counter.  I’ve probably read 5 pages. I’ll never finish this book (I did).  I notice the staff gathering at the other end of the counter buzzing about what happened.  I wait a moment. When one looks my way I say “if you want to know what happened I’ll tell you.”

They had missed most of the conversations and thought he was nice.  I dissuaded them of that opinion.  We all had a good a laugh and I went from the guy who comes in all the time to marginally more than that.  Good thing I can chat with some of them about Game of Thrones.  Yeah, I know a bit about that.

A weird experience:  a bit annoying and ending with a laugh.  Not bad for lunch.  But for Tuesday?  Nope.  There’s more.  So much more.

I tried to leave about 5pm, but silly little things kept cropping up and it was just after 6 when I was able to head to the elevator and make my way to my car.  Since I drove, I get off on 2, say goodnight to the guard (yeah, our building has the guard on 2) and walk across the sky bridge towards my car.  Straight across is the parking structure for the building and there is a large apartment complex to the left.

Being the observant buy I am, I scan the building to my left (It’s called The Bond, in case you care.)    Not expecting to see much I looked and saw too much.  I stopped and gathered myself.  FUCK!  I didn’t know what to do.  On one hand I’m appalled. On the other I’m shocked.  I turn and walked back to the guard at the desk.

“Uh, can you call the cops for me?” I stammered.

The young guard looked and me quizzically.

“Not 911. It’s not an emergency, but there is a naked man masturbating in the window across the street.  I really don’t think the women of the building want to see that.”

And by naked man, I’m guessing 6” 375lbs.  He’s got a substantial and firm gut.  I really shouldn’t know this much.

I’m all for letting consenting adults do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, but nothing about this event was private.  It was meant to be a spectacle.  I figured I should do something about it.  I don’t want to be guy who did nothing.  That’s too easy and too wrong.

The guard pulls up the camera on that side if the building and, nope, it stops right below his window. He believes me but doesn’t know what to do.  He radios his coworker.  The coworker won’t talk on the radio and insists they talk on the phone.

When he gets off the phone, he tell me that since it is not in our building he can’t do anything, including calling the cops for me.

Seriously?  I might have been shaking with anger when I left.  So much for doing the right thing.

Years ago, when I worked in the Financial District in San Francisco a coworker caught a guy trying to steal his wallet from his jacket.  The jacket was behind his office door.  We were on a locked floor in a secure building.  This guy was in a ratty suit.  If you glanced, he looked like he belonged in the office.  If you looked, you could see the suit was threadbare and his shoes had holes in them.  I came when hell yelled for me and we escorted the thief to the guard downstairs.

When we got there, the Guard shrugged, the thief bolted out the door.  We looked to the guard who calmly said, “I didn’t see him do anything, I can’t do anything.  There’s too much personal liability and I’m not allowed to.”

That’s when I learned the cameras in the elevators were props and building security is an oxymoron in most cases.

Back in the present, I walked back out of the building and about 10 minutes had passed .  The Wanker, as I was calling him in my head, was still at it, although off to the side, rather than front and center.  As I crossed the street, I realized the light was on in the lobby of his  building.  I walked across to the building and knocked on the window for the desk person to let me in.

I was probably a bit disjoined as I explained what the problem was.  She looked at me like I was nuts.  I asked if she was going to do anything.  Clearly she couldn’t use the “it’s not my building” excuse.

“We got a call about that earlier,” she said.

“Oh.”  I started to leave.  And then I stopped.

“When did you get that call?” I asked.

“Around 11.”

“Seriously? It’s still going on!  Don’t you think this is a bigger problem than that?”

Then she told me in effect that it was none of my business.

I left there madder than a hatter.  No wonder people don’t speak up more often and try to help; doing the right thing can be aggravating when others prevent you from doing anything.

Oh, and he was jerking off, fully naked, in the window again Wednesday after work.  I still see him in the window most nights, but now he stays a few steps back and has at least a shirt on.  I doubt that will last.

 

 

 

Parking Wars: A Descent into Madness

As you might have heard, we had another BART strike in the Bay Area.  This forced every commuter into new modes of transportation.  That meant I had to drive to work.   There were two key impacts here:  traffic was ridiculous and I needed to move my car each day at lunch.  There are plenty of pay lots, but with the abundance of 4 hours spots, and meter maids that only make 1 circuit, it seems silly to pay $7 a day.

You may recall, I have an on-going feud with a business around the corner that harasses people who part outside of their office.  The walls of their office had been cargo bay doors, but now they are walls.  There is one door which might still be a bay, so I don’t park in front of it.

I tend to park other places in the morning, because I can always park in front of their faux driveway in the afternoon.  A few weeks prior I had noticed they had added a new sign on their walls (not the steel doors that protect the walls at night).  They read “Tenant Parking Only  Violators will be towed.”  This is the part of our show where we get to discuss reality and some people’s lack of it.  I have no doubt that the tenants want to park there.  But, as I discussed with a parking enforcement officer, unless there is an official city sign, those signs that were bought on line for $20 hold no weight.  Wow they must be committed to the cause.

(Seriously, check out that link.  Clearly there is a market for people tricking others into not parking in legal spaces.  I bet they make a ton.  Wish I was selling these idiots their signs.  And yes, I know I completely ignore the fourth wall.)

They must have forgotten that the street and sidewalk are public property.  They have no specific rights to stop others from parking there.  While there was a cargo door they had easement rights of access and the right to be unimpeded, but they forfeited those rights when they built walls. The reality is that if they tow someone’s car for parking legally in front of a wall, in a public space, they are liable for the cost and inconvenience. I personally would love for them to tow me so I can sue them and go after punitive damages.  I will.

As delusional as their signs and appeals for drivers to park other places are, they have finally hit a new low.  Last week I got a new harassing flyer.  I put it back in their mail slot, so I’ll have to paraphrase.

[In an angry, yet pleading tone:]

You can’t park here.  We will have you towed.  Really we will.  We haven’t yet because we don’t know how to contact you.  We need these spaces because when we use the cargo door, we need to park the truck at an angle so as not to block the street.  We WILL tow you.

This is so ridiculous that I don’t know where to start.  How about that it’s a very wide street and only a double trailer will block the street?  Or that trucks that are unloading block streets all the time? Perhaps they use the only driver in the US that worries about other cars being able to drive when they are off-loading?  If they park at an angle, how will the cargo be off loaded to the bay, if the truck isn’t flush?  Let that sink in gentle reader.  Reread this list till you realize that it has been proof of sorts.  (I’m sure more than a few of you took geometry in high school.)

Thus, I believe we can safely say that if their goal isn’t to use the bay door as a cargo bay, because the cargo must go the sidewalk before it can be lifted up, then they don’t really need a bay door and the need to not block it is silly.  The truck can park parallel to the parked cars.  I really can’t see how they are making their case.

Therefore, I propose a call to action.  Everyone should find a reason to park in front of 229 Harrison St. in Oakland.  (This is a visual daily double.)   If you look at the picture, you’ll see 4 garage doors:

  1. The first has a stair case in front of it you can park there
  2. I’ve never seen the 2nd open, I wouldn’t park there
  3. The third is an office wall
  4. The fourth is an office wall

This is our cause, take up your keys and park happily.  And when the wicked witch of parking delusions accosts you, tell here Lee sent you.  I don’t suffer fools and neither should you.

This was the start of an exciting several days, don’t miss the next post, you won’t believe my Tuesday.

Trouble Me (with appologies to 10,000 Maniacs)

My regular readers, as opposed to my irregular writing schedule, will know that commuting is a common topic.  And why not?  I do commute 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, more or less.  Today I got into my car and my chariot roared to life.  Soon the radio kicked in and Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” changed my consciousness.  It was 1988 and I was joined by 50,000 of my closest fans watching the Amnesty International Benefit Concert.  Being over the hill, I also like harkening back to my 20s and a simpler time without as many worries.

It was a great show. Sting cancelled so Springsteen and E-Street Band and Peter Gabriel and to play longer sets, which was fantastic, because dreams of blue turtles bored me to tears.  I thought about being 15 and riding my bike to the record store to get Gabriel’s first solo album.  Yeah I was that cool.  So cool I didn’t have a girlfriend, but my music rocked.

As I was enjoying my groove, I came to the 4-way stop where I turn left.  Still, bopping a bit, I watched the car to my left move across the intersection and the SUV to my right turn right.  As the first car  passed me, I pulled out.  (Insert the sound of dishes breaking.)  So much for my groove.  The 2nd car to my left decided the stop sign didn’t apply to her.  She slammed on her breaks and glared at me as I deigned to follow the traffic laws that did not apply to her.

I gathered my wits in time for the SUV’s driver to decide that he was really a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos and the turn was a fake, moving in a pseudo U-turn to cut me off.  Clearly, starting a turn and finishing it is optional today.  I missed that memo.

I moved along my path, keeping in mind I’m only 4 blocks from home.  Ok, maybe 6.  Up ahead is a stop light, with a free right turn.  There are 3 lanes of traffic on the busy artery ahead, but the turn lane is generally pretty empty.  A head sat a car, frozen in terror because all 3 lanes weren’t clear.  You know the driver; he won’t turn right unless they can turn into the fast lane.  What ever happened to merging?  I’m pretty sure this is the same driver that enters the freeway at 30 miles per hour because the people in the slow lane go to fast and they believe NTSB has empowered them to make the world safer.

Before we can turn and I can continue my descent into madness, the song changes to Rainbow’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.”  I turned it up to 11.  Or 12.    The car blocking my progress finally turned and because the artery was open for ½ mile, I had no trouble gunning it and passing them within 50 yards.  The rocking sound track clearly helped push my adrenaline forward and my mood moved from Peter Gabriel inspired Romance to heartbreak’s rage.

Your poison letter, your telegram
Just goes to show you don’t give a damn

My mind often jumps from tangent to tangent.  You know who doesn’t give a damn?  The GOP. My mind is still overwhelmed by this week’s spin that the President decided to shut down the government.  Even after that bastion of integrity John Boehner, decided that previous budget and spending agreements in congress could be left on the side of the road like a hillbilly’s trash, because it was time “to take a stand.”  Seriously?  Politics is all about compromise and agreements.  By showing that previous agreements can easily be reneged on to achieve specious goals, we can only conclude that any future agreements will be as solid as tissue paper.

This entire government shutdown is ridiculous, and seems to be staged by the very conservative right.  Let me restate the facts as I know them.

  1. The GOP does not like the Affordable Care Act (ACA/ObamaCare)
  2. The ACA is the Worst Thing that has ever happened to this country (Noelle Nikpour GOP Strategist)
  3. It is worth defaulting on the national debt to stop the ACA
  4. The GOP agreed to a spending bill/debt ceiling increase then decided to hold the nation hostage
  5. The ACA is a law that was passed. (We all know how bills become laws from School House Rock, right?)
  6. The GOP wants smaller government, isn’t that what they’ve just achieved?
  7. For every action there is an equal, but opposite reaction

My outrage reached a boil as I saw Noelle Nikpour make that statement on TV about the ACA being the worst thing to happen to this country.  Slavery, the great depression, the civil war, the Viet Nam war, Prohibition, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy all pale compared to ObamaCare (they should trademark that name to make sure it is hated by all the people who still think our president is a Kenyan Muslim. Of course he’s neither.)  I am sure there was always an undercurrent of hate and prejudice within politics, but it has become hard to miss.

I’ve put it out there; either you agree with me or you don’t.  I’m not going to change your mind and I respect your right to your opinion, though I believe the conservative movement often wishes we liberals and moderates were not allowed to have opinions.  What I want to do is bring two significant points forward that mean quite a bit to me and probably should to you.

First, when the government defaults and that seems to be the ultimate goal of the Tea Party influenced GOP, you and I will be affected.  When the economy tanks, those of us over a certain age and having attained some success are deemed expendable.  We can be replaced at 70% efficiency at 75% of the cost.  Leadership, influence and helping other achieve more are less important than pure cost savings.  I have been let go too many times not to understand what happens.  Hero on Monday; too expensive on Friday.  We all can be replaced.   I have been.  You might too.  Lifetime employment ended in the 70’s we didn’t see that till the 90s.

Since the GOP has taken the government and legislative process hostage because they do not like a law that was passed, how long before the Democrats do the same thing?  What does this mean for our way of life and democracy as a whole?  This is the political equivalent of a spoiled child taking his ball and going home.  Eventually that child either grows up and learns or has no friends.  I’m not sure we have time for the GOP to lean that lesson.  They have already spent years shouting that they refuse to.

I’m more depressed than I am angry.  And I’m plenty angry.  All that’s left is for the evangelicals to remind us that this is the first stage of the rapture they want and the rest of us are going to hell.  I expect that message in the second half of October.