Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Perversion Files

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Back in the dark ages when I first enrolled at Southwest Missouri State College, all freshmen and sophomore males had to take ROTC. Not surprisingly, not every male was anxious to join the student corps and go to drills a couple of times a week. However, that was also when the Vietnam War was raging, and playing soldier at SMS on warm afternoons was better than the alternative.

I remember one friend who, as he was filling out enrollment forms for ROTC, came across a certain question and became quite indignant. The question was "Have you ever been a member of a fascist organization?" "Yes," he answered, "the Boy Scouts of America." Even then, it would seem, the venerable Scouts had an image problem.

I am a former Boy Scout, and I believe that the impact of scouting on America's boys has been generally positive. I don't agree with their homophobic decision to exclude gay youth from scouting, thereby marginalizing those kids and reinforcing dangerous biases and stereotypes. If scouting is a valuable experience, and I believe that it is, then it should be open to all boys and not just those claiming to be straight.

Today there was a story on the internets regarding what has been more or less been an open secret in America for decades - the pedophilia tendencies of some adults associated with scouting. Scouting, like the Catholic Church, offers a smorgasbord of young boys that is irresistible to some predatory men.

Today's story was about a scouting official who directed a national task force to protect children from sexual abuse. The man had been an employee of the Boy Scouts for 39 years when he was recently arrested and charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

In a poor effort at damage control, a national spokesman for the Boy Scouts tried to downplay the incident by stressing how unusual it was. "We're shocked and dismayed to learn of this," the spokesman said. "This is the first time ever we recall anything like this being charged against a Boy Scouts employee."

Bull hockey! Anyone who has ever been in the Scouts knows that some who volunteer to work with the kids do so primarily because that is where they can get their hands on what they desire. The same is true of some priests, some youth ministers, and even some teachers and coaches. If you are looking for kids, you go where the kids are at.

It turns out that the Boy Scout spokesman was being remarkably disingenuous. The following was taken from today's

"The Boy Scouts of America has long kept an extensive archive of secret documents that chronicle the sexual abuse of young boys by Scout leaders over the years.

The "perversion files," a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could change in the coming weeks in a Portland, OR, courtroom.

The attorney for a man who was allegedly molested in the 1980's by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expectedd to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show the organization has covered up abuse for decades."

Parenting in today's world requires extra vigilance. Making the assumption that every adult a child encounters will be a good role model is dangerous folly. There are lots of bad people roaming loose in society, and many of them are anxious to work with your child. Parents beware!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday's Hate Group: The Westboro Baptist Church

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

(This week I am incorporating a new feature into The Ramble. Whereas we seem to be in an era of unbridled hate groups running roughshod over the land, I am going to dedicate the Tuesday editions of The Ramble to discussing these evil organizations. There have been several in the news over the past few days, and two of those have been featured rather prominently: the "Hutaree" militia in Michigan and Fred Phelps and his hate-riddled spawn of the Westboro Baptist Church (sic) in Topeka, Kansas. The Hutaree, a group of militant fascists with penis issues, will have to wait their turn, because when it comes to raw hate, nobody does it better than the Phelps' clan.)

I have discussed the Westboro Baptist Church on this blog before. The "church," as well as the family that basically comprises it, reside in a compound on the outskirts of Topeka, Kansas. The patriarch, Fred Phelps, is an eighty-year-old native of Mississippi who was a drop-out from the infamous Bob Jones University. He eventually earned a law degree at Washburn University and went on to practice civil rights law in and around Topeka before being disbarred in 1977.

Fred started the Westboro Baptist Church in 1955 and has been its pastor since the church's founding. Most of the congregants are his children (he fathered 13), his grandchildren (54) and his great-grandchildren (7). Although there have been numerous stories of the elder Phelps being a seriously abusive parent, most of his children have stayed close to their father and are active participants in his bigoted works.

Fred and his clan are against a bunch of things. They hate Jews, Catholics, Swedes, Irish, and probably aren't very fond of the British who have barred him from entering their country for his fostering of hatred and extremism.

But Fred and his rabble really, truly, sincerely hate gays. Their website, in fact, is Check it out if you have the stomach for it.

Hate groups thrive on controversy, and the fools of the Westboro Baptist Church have come up with a sure-fire formula for keeping just about everybody pissed off at them. Many years ago they began protesting the funerals of gay people and those who supported the rights of gay people. They celebrated the AIDS epidemic feeling that God was using the disease to justify their bigotry. The group made a scene at Matthew Shepard's funeral and even came to Arizona to protest at the funeral of conservative icon Barry Goldwater because they felt he had been too tolerant of homosexuals.

Sometime a few years ago Fred and his kids, many of whom are lawyers (thank you, Washburn!), came up with the convoluted logic that the United States government was promoting or at least protecting homosexuality, so therefore the U.S. military owned some of the responsibility for America's moral decline. If that was the case, then according to their goofball logic, American soldiers dying in combat was a good thing - is was God's will - it was Almighty payback for the government functioning as a gay-enabler.

A press release on Westboro's website declares:

"Military funerals have become pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy, where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool."

Armed with that logic, the group began picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - picketing and yelling and screaming and exercising their "right of free speech" as loudly and as obnoxiously as possible during a family's most intense and personal grief. Many of the protesters come armed with video cameras so that if they are attacked by angry mourners, they have a video record that they can take into Court and use in a lawsuit. (Remember, there are many lawyers in this clan.)

The Westboro protesters carry signs that read "Thank God for dead soldiers!" They have signs stating "Thank God for IED's." And then there is the ubiquitous "God hates fags!" For a group that claims an adherence to Christ, these yokels are literally brimming with hate.

Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, is the home of the 101st Airborne Division, a brave group of young men and women, many of whom have served multiple tours (3 or more) in the war zones. When I first went to Ft. Campbell to work in 2005, the base would hold a memorial service at one of the main gates each month to honor troops from Fort Campbell who had died that month in Iraq. The Phelps' crew began coming to Kentucky to disrupt those solemn ceremonies, and they were soon discontinued. Thank God our troops were in the Middle East fighting so that the morons from Westboro would have the right to protest!

The current news about the Westboro Baptist involves the funeral of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, a brave and honorable marine who died in Iraq in 2006. Matthew's father, Albert Snyder, was very distraught that his son's funeral was disrupted by this trash out of Kansas, and he went to court and sued the Westboro Baptist Church for "emotional distress." The court agreed with Mr. Snyder's logic and awarded him a hefty five million dollars. Westboro's coven of lawyers appealed, of course, and today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the lower court and also ruled that Mr. Snyder, the bereaved parent, had to pay Westboro's legal fees in the amount of $16,510!

No shit.

The Supreme Court has indicated that it will hear the case this fall.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Every Word is True (Part III)

by Pa Rock
Distraught Homeowner

My unwanted house guest disappeared. Over the next several days I came home at odd hours during the day hoping to surprise the freeloader and have a showdown, but not only was he not there, it didn’t appear that he been anywhere near my place since the night that I destroyed his nest beneath my trailer.

Fine. He was gone. Good riddance.

But the sleazy sand bastard had apparently taken my cat with him! How was some doofus who could barely get in out of the rain going to take care of a cat! Scroungy Bastard would miss the easy life at my place. The fact that he was gone told me that the old homeless hippie must have caged him – or worse yet, eaten him!

On the first day after discovering the human nest beneath my home I went to town and bought the largest outdoor flowerpot that I could load and unload by myself. After removing my groceries from the old hippie’s hidey-hole, I put the skirting back in place and parked the giant flower pot in front of the offending lesion. Then I filled that sucker with Arizona dirt and planted it full of prickly pear cactus. There would be no way to move the pot without emptying it, and getting that cactus out, especially in the dark, would be a death-defying proposition.

Yes, there were several other places around the trailer’s base where he could possibly pull the skirting loose and gain entry, but those were more open to public view. And if he did get back in, it at least would not happen right underneath my bedroom. The older I get, the more important restful sleep becomes!

Late the second day, after work, I drove down to my favorite mega-hardware store and bought two locksets. On day three I changed the locks on my front and back doors, and checked to see that every window was closed and locked. The only point of ingress and egress for a non-key holder was now the doggy door, which measured four inches by ten inches. I could have blocked that as well, but I held out hope that my kitty would escape the clutches of the evil veteran. (Yes, he was evil. How else do you explain catnapping?)

I was tough! I was brutal! I was pissed off!

By the weekend, however, my resolve was beginning to waver. This guy undoubtedly had mental issues. He was hungry and homeless. The poor soul just wanted an occasional bit of food and a place to sleep that was out of the weather. He probably needed a friend, so maybe it was good that Scroungy Bastard was with him. My anger was morphing into shame.

Monday morning before work I set the clean sleeping bag, tightly rolled, out back on the picnic table along with a couple of cans of beans and an old army mess kit. I even donated my personal P-38 military can-opener to the survival bundle, although I was fairly certain that would be one item that the larcenous wayfarer already possessed.

I had lunch on base, not wanting to go home and risk scaring the hippie veteran away before he had a chance to collect the sleeping bag and the beans. I was hopeful that he would find the stuff early enough to be able to set a good camp somewhere before it got dark. It was December and the desert nights were getting downright cold.

At dusk I pulled into my parking spot behind the trailer. The items I had left of the picnic table were gone – a good sign that at least the stranger hadn’t frozen to death in his sleep. Out of habit I walked around my tin hovel looking for the wayward cat, but he was still not to be found. I unlocked the back door and went inside. My focus was on what to microwave for my evening meal, but all thought of eating disappeared as I stepped into the kitchen. There, on the table, was the sleeping bag, still tightly rolled, along with the beans and utensils that I had left outside on the picnic table that morning.

My first reaction was to rush into the living room and check the front door, but it was locked and the deadbolt was engaged. Next I counted keys. I had two, one for the front door and one for the back, on my key chain. The only other set was still safely under a mat in the trunk of my car.

It was possible, I supposed, that my nemesis knew how to pick a lock, but if he did it had to have been the back door – the one that wasn’t secured with a deadbolt. That door clearly had not been forced open, and anyone taking the time to pick a lock could not have escaped the notice of my neighbor, Loretta, a Native American grandmother who sits on her front porch gazing at my back porch from dawn to dusk, and sometimes longer. The one-woman neighborhood watch had never missed any of my transgressions, so it was highly unlikely that a cat burglar would escape her notice.

My final investigative act was to inventory the food supply. Everything was in its place except for half a bag of Kitty Kibble. That was a relief. It’s hard to stay angry at someone who takes care of your cat, even if he is a criminal!

Tuesday morning I again set out the sleeping bag as a peace offering. I also included a better assortment of groceries: canned corn beef, a jar of olives, a package of nacho chips, a couple of granola bars, an apple, and a can of expensive cat food. The unfortunate derelict could sleep warmly with a full stomach, if his twisted pride would let him, and there was always a chance that my kindness would result my kitty being allowed to come home for a visit.

But, cat visitation or no cat visitation, the humanitarian gesture had waxed my ego, and I spent that day at work feeling somewhat akin to Gandhi, a notion that was quick to dissipate later in the evening when I got home and stepped through the back door and into hell!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sorting Snakes

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Health Care Reform passed in Congress a week ago tonight and was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, and despite threats of everything from death panels, riots in the streets, the collapse of the economy, and even Armageddon, the world is still turning. Republicans in general and the teabaggers in particular must be sorely disappointed that their worst fears have gone unrealized. And the citizen's militias, survivalists, and other armed hillbillies are probably wallowing in despair because the revolution that they keep preparing for has eluded them yet again.

John McCain, a true political chameleon, is currently striving to be a snarling darling of the right, spewing hate and promising to repeal health care reform and replace it with some secret plan. He is also begging for money to help him in his crusade to repeal and replace the bill, although he fails to explain what he can do with more money that he can't do now - as a sitting United States Senator with a rich wife.

McCain brought the Wasilla hillbillies to Arizona last week, and the toothless masses turned out in droves to cheer on the former half-term governor of Alaska and her unemployed spouse. They had good crowds, but that should come as no surprise in a state where high school graduates are looked on as effete intellectual snobs. Sarah yelled inane comments into the microphone and the crowds went wild.

And old John did his snarly-smiley thing.

But the goobers weren't there to see McCain. They were there for Sarah - and come the primary they will be voting for J.D. Hayworth.

Sorry, John. I don't think after this year you are going to be in any position to repeal and replace anything. Enjoy your retirement.

I kind of feel sorry for the old sailor. He is kissing up to the teabaggers like the true political animal that he is, but he is well known for being petty and holding grudges. If he accidentally should be reelected to the Senate, he would quickly repay their noisy insolence with support for immigration reform. I have even thought about registering as a Republican for this primary only and casting a vote for McCain just so he could piss all over the right-wing rabble, but then I thought better of it, and decided to let those fools should sort out their own snakes!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Me and My Droid

by Pa Rock
Toy Master

I lost my phone again this week. It's becoming a habit that I attribute to El Nino or La Nina or the pull of the moon - anything but advancing age! So today, after a bad experience at the gym, I headed over to Costco where a nice young man named Martin hooked me up with a smart phone.

I have been threatening to get a smart phone for months, actually since December when my kids told me not so subtly that I wasn't smart enough to use one. I knew what I wanted - an iPhone to complement my only other tech toy - my shiny, silver iPod. But Apple seems to be hellbent on keeping AT&T as the exclusive service provider for the iPhone as well as their new iPad, and I'm not signing any contracts with Ma Bell - it's a sixties thing!

Martin assured me that there would be a foot of snow covering downtown Phoenix before Apple went with a better provider. The phone that Martin recommended is the Google Droid with service by Verizon. He spent quite a bit of time in the store showing me how to do things on the Droid, most of which went right over my head. Before I left, however, I did manage to learn how to turn it on and off - and put it to sleep and wake it up.

Since getting home I have learned how to check email (although I still haven't figured out how to answer email), and how to make a phone call. (The sound is awesome, crystal clear and loud enough for my old ears!) I kept my old number, but so far no one has called - so I don't know whether I know how to answer the damned thing or not!

Give me a call!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fire the Pope!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Yesterday I suggested, barely tongue-in-cheek, that Pope Benedict XVI should be publicly horse-whipped for protecting a Wisconsin priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who had sodomized boys at a school for the deaf. At the time the Vatican supposedly became aware of this rapist priest, the Pope, then known as Cardinal Ratzinger, caused Church proceedings against the vile priest to be dropped - primarily to protect the reputation and assets of the Catholic Church.

Father Murphy, the former head of St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wisconsin, sexually abused over two hundred boys during a twenty-four year period. He raped them in his car, in the confessional, and even at his mother's home. The Vatican's current response to this story is that they did not know about the rapes between 1950 and 1974, when they were occurring, so what's a Pope to do?

Problem is, Cardinal Ratzinger learned about the abuse in 1996 when the Archbishop of Milwaukee alerted his office in the Vatican about the matter and asked for permission to hold a Church trial - a poor substitute for a civil trial. The Vatican initially agreed to the plan, but Cardinal Ratzinger personally derailed it after the malignant priest wrote to him saying that he was ill, and asking to live out his days "in thee dignity of my priesthood."

Yup, the "dignity" of his priesthood. Father Murphy died in 1998 without ever being disciplined by the Church - or the state either, for that matter. Father Murphy died a dignified priest, and two hundred middle-aged men suffered yet another betrayal by their Church.

Pedophile priest scandals rocked America in the 1990's. Literally hundreds of rapist priests had been protected by the Church over the preceding fifty years, often being transferred to new parishes when problems arose, or shuffled off into worthless programs designed to cure their pedophilia. The only thing that moving the offending priests accomplished was to spread the molestation. The American Church eventually paid the price (dearly) for the blatant neglect of its responsibility to the children in its care. That horrendous neglect brought many dioceses to the brink of bankruptcy through lawsuits and out-of-court settlements,and the Church's one might prestige did a nose-dive straight into the crapper.

This past year priest sex scandals have surfaced in Germany (the homeland of the current Pope), The Netherlands, and even Italy - right in the Pope's front yard. Twenty-four priests at a diocese in Verona, Italy, have recently been accused of sexually and physically abusing 67 students at a school for the deaf. One victim, Alessandro Vantini, now an adult, described the serial sodomy as "so brutal and relentless that I felt as if I were dead."

Rape is about power and control. Children are defenseless, particularly when they are abused by authority figures. They are defenseless and confused. How especially tragic to have been defenseless and confused and deaf!

The problem of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is systemic, a result of a male authoritarian hierarchy composed of "celibate" power-and-control-wielders. The problems will continue as long as the Church maintains its hoary traditions of male privilege and Papal infallibility.

Child rape in such a system will not go away because of an occasional pissy Papal epistle. Things must change in a substantive way, and heads must roll. Quite obviously, the first head that needs to roll in order for massive change to begin is that of the big kahuna, Pope Benedict XVI. Anything less will sentence thousands of more children to a life of hell.

The time has come to fire this Pope!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Case for Horse-Whipping the Pope

by Pa Rock
Fallen Catholic

Catholicism is pretty damned important in Ireland, a majority religion that is the pervasive element in much of the Irish culture. The violence that tore apart Northern Ireland for decades was, in fact, a product of bitterness between the majority Irish Catholics and minority Irish Protestants, many of whom were descendants of the English "occupiers."

So when a Catholic pedophile priest scandal broke in Ireland in November of 2009, it was a very big deal. It struck at the very heart of Irish culture.

The Murphy Report, a government study of the problem, cataloged a series of child sexual abuses (rape and torture, that kind of stuff) conducted by 46 priests between the years of 1975 and 2004, as well as Church cover-ups of these crimes. The Archdiocese of Dublin worked diligently at fixing the problem - through measures such as moving problem priests around and being preoccupied with maintaining secrecy. (Sound familiar?) The Church's primary goal was to protect its reputation and its assets. The Murphy Report concluded that "All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities."

Many child victims were forced to sign secrecy oaths that prevented them from testifying against their rapists and torturers. The mightiest social institution in Ireland was forcing scared children and scarred adults to keep quiet about horrible crimes - making them feel as though they were actually to blame. Yeah, that's a solution to be proud of!

The Pope wrote a letter of apology to members of the Irish Church and will allow a Church investigation of the crimes to go forward.

Christ allowed himself to be nailed to a cross and die a tortuous death for the sins of mankind - all of mankind. Now the heir to the Throne of St. Peter, issues a pissy little letter of apology for the sins, the awful sins, of the religious leaders of his church - sins against children! Well, in fairness to the Pope, Christ didn't have all of the gilded Church property to worry about.

But that was last month's news. In the past couple of days another story of Church sexual abuse has spilled onto the pages of the world's press. These sex crimes occurred in Wisconsin between the 1950's and the 1970's. There was just one scumbag priest perpetrator (that we know about) in this case, Father Lawrence Murphy. He sexually abused over 200 little boys in a school for the deaf during those two decades of terror. Can you imagine being deaf, sent from your home to live in a Church school for deaf boys, and being sexually abused by one of the people who was supposed to be protecting you? There are no words to describe the awfulness and horror of what happened to those little boys.

This forty-year-old story of child sexual abuse has just come to light, and the thing that makes it internationally newsworthy is that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, was a player in the cover-up of the crime.

Two American bishops who became aware of the crimes in the 1990's petitioned the Vatican to let them conduct a Church trial of Father Murphy. Unfortunately, the office in the Vatican that received the request was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, the man who would later become Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzo's office quickly killed the plan for a trial. The Cardinal had received a letter from the sleazy priest, who was old and ill, saying that he "simply want(ed) to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood." Astonishingly, Ratzo and his assistant (who is now the Vatican Secretary of State) concurred with that request and let the matter slide. (The "dignity" of his priesthood?) God got to sort it out a short time later when the priest died. Hopefully She showed some compassion toward the victims!

Cardinal Ratzinger was a church administrator. He was concerned with protecting the Church's image and its assets. He did his job. Today as Pope, he is righteously outraged that he is being attacked in the press for his mollycoddling of pedophile priests. One wonders if he would feel differently if he had been a child victim of a pedophile priest.

The Catholic Church is a creaky, old business run by creaky, old men. It is, much like the U.S. Supreme Court, set up in such a way as to continually be fifty years behind the times. It will never get rid of the pedophile priest problem until it quits protecting these criminals from prosecution. It will never get rid of the pedophile priest problem until it addresses the very real issue of priestly sexual needs and allows these frustrated individuals to marry and have families. It will never solve the pedophile priest problem until the Pope himself, the leader of the world's largest Christian church, quits being a shill for criminals and a protector of real estate, and truly becomes a shepherd of his Church - a Church of people, not assets.

The pedophile priest problem will not even begin to diminish until the Church does some basic restructuring. Young people need to be in power positions within the Church, people who are connected to children and have a realistic understanding of the true impact that child sexual abuse has on victims.

And, in the spirit of true Christianity, it might be a good idea if this Pope took the sins of his Church upon himself. Crucifixion is a bit arcane, but an old-fashioned horse-whipping could be just the thing. It might at least make a couple of hundred deaf men feel like somebody was punished for the hell that they endured - and it would make for damned good reality television!

Pope Benedict is irrelevant in the modern world, and he is maintaining practices that hurt children and demean the Church. He needs to resign or be fired!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

There Will Be Blood!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I have said it in this space before: "Somebody is going to die!" It is just a matter of time before some of these teabagging fools come completely unhinged and begin shooting. For the most part, these are people who aren't playing with a full deck of cards. They are easily duped, quickly incited, and damned hard to control when they get rolling. The teabagging movement is a train wreck looking for a place to happen, and in short order it will produce a shameful disaster.

Somebody is going to get killed. Some person who has done nothing more than try to serve his nation in a positive manner is going to be gunned down or blown up by a lunatic - an insane person who believes he is doing God's work - a madman who has been inflamed by Fox, or Rush, or Glenn, or Ann, or Sarah, or Michele, or John Boehner. And when the shit does hit the fan, all of the usual cheerleaders for anarchy will sit piously back and tut-tut, secure in the righteous knowledge that the crime was committed by a sad person who was driven to murder by liberalism run amok. It had nothing to do with them and their constitutional use of free speech.

Like hell it doesn't!

The brush fire has been set and it is raging out of control. Several congressmen who voted for health care reform have had bricks thrown through their constituent office windows and doors. The brother of one congressman in Virginia had the propane line to his house cut after a blogger printed the address (thinking it was the congressman's house) and suggested people stop by and tell him what they thought about his vote. The congressman's brother lives in that house with his wife and four children - all under the age of eight.

Congressman Bart Stupak released tapes of vitriolic calls that have come into his office over the past few days - poetic efforts that expressed sentiments like he should bleed out of his ass, get cancer, and die! These cretins are truly unhinged!

Sarah Palin has told her twitter community that it is time to "reload," and she announced her list of Democratic congressional targets on a map on her Facebook page, with each of her selected Democrats targeted with a "cross hairs" emblem. Not too subtle, Sarah!

Over the past few days Democratic members of Congress have been spit upon, called names (nigger, faggot, wetback), and accused of killing babies. They have suffered this abuse from the loony fringe of the Republican Party, but that nutty fringe has been torched and fanned by opportunistic Republicans who think that they can turn the commotion into votes.

It's time for Republican leaders, if there are any left, and the right-wing media, to step forward and try to put out this fire that they have started and gleefully fanned. If they sit back and do nothing, there will be blood - and it will be on there hands.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

They Say It's My Birthday!

by Pa Rock
Birthday Boy

I'm sixty-two today, getting old, but still younger than the surviving Beatles, Mick Jagger, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. And like all of them, I am still working and love what I do!

It's been a nice birthday. I took doughnuts to work today, and some of my co-workers gave me a gift certificate to Sonic - but things got so crazy that I wasn't able to go out to lunch and use it. Maybe tomorrow!

All of my kids called in, and I got to visit with my two oldest grandchildren - Boone and Sebastian. I love visiting with my kids, and it's nice to know that they remember.

Many of my high school classmates have gotten in touch today, including some that I haven't seen or heard from in years. Although I don't know how to use Facebook, they all apparently do! I guess that I need to smarten up! I noticed that many of those whose pictures are on Facebook (mine isn't) look very much like their parents - and I want them all to know that I look just like I did forty years ago!

I also heard from many other dear friends on Facebook. I really have to learn how to use that site!

President Obama signed the Health Care Reform Bill on my birthday. Thanks, Barack!

The saddest thing about today is that this is my first birthday as an orphan. My Dad always remembered and would send a card with a note about how proud he was of me. He probably would have been prouder if I had been rich, but I think that he did respect the work that I do and the fact that I could keep my bills paid. Dad and I learned a lot from each other over the years.

My sincere thanks to all of you who got in touch with me today. I love you all!

Monday, March 22, 2010

America One, Teabaggers Zip!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Health care reform passed the Congress last night and President Obama will sign it into law tomorrow! The earth is still spinning on its axis, Rush Limbaugh is still spewing bigotry, John McCain is still a jackass, and thirty-two million more Americans are going to have access to affordable health care! It's not a perfect bill, Joe Lieberman and the Republicans saw to that, but it is a damned sight better than the mess we have been in for the past hundred years. It is a very good first step, and when the American people see what is actually in it for them, they will look at their Republican representatives and wonder just what all of raging hate was about.

Here are some facts regarding the new bill:

Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions.

Health insurance companies will no longer be able to drop coverage when people become sick.

Individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.

Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the law closes the "doughnut hole" in existing coverage.

Young people just out of school and without insurance will be able to stay on their parents' policies until age twenty-six.

Medicaid will be expanded to include 16 million more low-income people.

More money will go to community health centers offering more accessibility to health care for more people.

Over 2 million new jobs will be created in the health care sector as more people are able to afford health care services.

And, government estimates say that this bill will have the impact of reducing the federal deficit significantly.

Two groups have been at work on health care. One group has been trying to carefully craft a bill that will get the insurance companies off of our backs, and the other group has been focused on wrecking those efforts. One group said "Yes we can!" The other group screamed at town hall meetings, swaggered about with guns and signs, and called members of Congress such sad epithets as "nigger," "faggot," and "baby-killer," - and even spat on one Congressman.

And in the end, the adults won out.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stingtime in the Desert

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Last week two women were attacked and almost killed in central Phoenix. Their attackers weren't petty criminals, crazed druggies, gang-bangers, or even those "illegal" brown people that worry our sheriff so. No, the attackers were Africanized "killer" bees.

It was last Thursday evening and these two ladies were walking down the sidewalk minding their own business when they were swarmed by thousands of killer bees. A good Samaritan happened by and saw the ladies struggling to fight off the bees which literally covered their bodies. He had a fire extinguisher in his vehicle and began spraying the ladies down trying to drive the bees off. The bees turned on the rescuer and began stinging him as well. The fire department arrived quickly and got the situation under control.

The firemen estimated that each of the ladies was stung over a thousand times. They were transported to a local hospital, each in critical condition. The good Samaritan was stung numerous times, though not to the extent as the original victims. He was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

Local news sources are warning the public to be extra cautious. This is the season that bees shake off the winter doldrums and begin to swarm. Also, with all of our recent rains, everything that can bloom - is blooming - and dripping with nectar!

Phoenix news outlets have also begun to issue warnings about scorpions becoming more active, with reports from local hospitals of an increase in patients with scorpion stings.

As a victim of a run-in with a scorpion (late one night in bed), I'm here to testify that there is nothing more painful on this parched, brown earth than a scorpion sting. That little bastard got me three times before I got him, and though he now resides in scorpion hell, he will have my respect for all eternity!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My History with Justice Clarence Thomas

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

If Quentin Tarantino ever brings the story of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the silver screen, my bet is that he will title it "Incurious Bastard!" For indeed, the hallmark of Justice Thomas's tenure on the highest court in the land is his complete lack of curiosity about anything - such as the facts regarding the cases that the Court reviews. He never talks, he never asks questions. Justice Thomas just sits, and mulls, and votes with the conservatives.

Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1991 by the first President Bush. Bush was looking for a black man to replace Thurgood Marshall on the Court, but he certainly did not want one with Marshall's broad intellect or dedication to the nation's poor and minorities. Bush wanted a conservative parrot, and he found that bird in Clarence Thomas.

Justice Thomas was not going to be a friend to the unwashed masses, but after a scathing hearing on his nomination where Professor Anita Hill told the entire nation about his penchant for sexual harassment and dirty jokes, the new Justice went on the Court carrying a chip on his shoulder the size of a Mississippi Ten Commandments monument.

He would serve, he would vote with the Neanderthals, but it would be a cold day in hell when he would open himself up to another beating in the press. Clarence Thomas was and still is our most reclusive Supreme Court Justice.

Clarence Thomas is married to a conservative activist named Virginia Lamp Thomas, an attorney who is mired in conservative causes. Mrs. Thomas has worked for such right-wing organizations as the Heritage Foundation and the (Baby) Bush White House.

This past week Virginia Thomas made news when it was announced that she is forming her own Teabagger support group to promote right-wing causes. The group will be, among other things, collecting money to support conservative candidates. It is very likely that Mrs. Thomas will pay herself a salary from the group's accounts, a salary that will benefit not only herself, but, by association, her husband, Clarence, as well.

Some of the money that Mrs. Thomas collects will probably be from corporations - that is, after all, where much of America's wealth is located. That becomes significant because just a couple of months ago her husband cast the deciding vote in Citizen's United v FEC, a vote that basically struck down campaign finance reform and freed corporations to put as much money as they damned well pleased into the American political system - as if they didn't have enough political clout already!

The Court bought into the notion that money is speech, and speech should not be limited. It was a great day for the Republican party because it brought so much more "speech" into the political process.

A decision that Clarence Thomas caused to occur stands a very good chance of being of financial benefit to his wife - and himself. But we will never hear Clarence Thomas discuss the apparent conflict of interest in his vote and his wife's business, because he keeps his mouth shut - good and tight!

I was a graduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, from 1997 until 1999. On April 8, 1998, Justice Clarence Thomas came to campus and spoke at the University's Law School. I would have gone to hear him speak, but I wasn't invited. In fact, nobody was invited except for law school students and faculty. In fact, the speech was TOP SECRET!

The following week a journalism student, David Scott, broke the news of the visit in the student newspaper, The Maneater. According to the article by Scott, Tim Heinsz, the dean of MU's School of Law, gave MU's News Bureau specific instructions not to announce the appearance, and Heinsz went on to say that any member of the media who did show up at the lecture would be removed by federal marshals.

It was outrageous - and David Scott was duly outraged. Several law school students wrote letters-to-the-editor to chastise Mr. Scott for picking on the dean and demeaning "their" law school, but Scott sparred ferociously and gave as good as he got. The argument over what was and was not proper at a public university went on for several weeks in the pages of The Maneater. The law students were pissed at Scott, Scott was pissed at the haughty dean, and the Dean Heinsz stayed well above the fray.

But one important group remained eerily silent. The student body at MU was more focused on studies, fornicating, and happy hour at Harpo's than in the political intrigues of the law school. Well, all but one student, that is. What follows is the only letter written to The Maneater in support of journalist David Scott and his crusade against the elitist crap that was emanating from the School of Law. It was published on April 17, 1998. That letter follows:

To the Editor,

My first reaction upon reading David Scott's column regarding the Clarence Thomas visit to MU was to check the front page - either I had picked up the April Fool's edition by mistake, or I hd overlooked a major story. Neither was the case. A Supreme Court justice had visited my university, and I had been denied the rare opportunity to hear, or at the very least see, an individual who plays a critical role in interpreting the law of our land.

Why? Apparently Tim Heinsz, the dean of the MU School of Law, chose to keep the event a secret. If Scott's facts are correct, and I have no reason to suspect that they aren't, the dean instructed the News Bureau not to announce the visit. That in itself is outrageous and feeds into the stereotype of lawyers being sneaky and deceitful, but it gets worse. According to Scott, the MU News Bureau was told that any member of the media who showed up at the Thomas lecture would be removed by federal marshals! (Has the First Amendment been repealed? Can you say "Gestapo?")

This is an important story - one that deserves more coverage. I would hope The Maneater will press Dean Heinsz to explain his strange behavior. Perhaps as atonement, he could invite Justice Thomas back to Columbia and the two could conduct a public symposium on the importance of a free press in a democratic society.

Rocky Macy
Graduate Student

Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care Executive Salaries

by Pa Rock
Health Care Consumer

I've harped on this before, but it bears repeating - especially given the fact that Congress will hopefully act on the comprehensive health care bill this weekend. The salaries of health care executives in America are an abomination!

The costs of insurance aren't going up due to market forces or the price of health care itself. Indeed, insurers are often the ones who actually determine the cost of health care based on what they are willing to pay for specific procedures and treatments. The costs of health insurance go up primarily due to one factor: greed!

Health insurance companies have raised their rates to accumulate cash and improve value for their stockholders. They have raised rates to accumulate cash to gobble up smaller insurance companies, or invest in other sectors of the health care economy, or invest in enterprises totally unrelated to health care. And health insurance companies have engaged in predatory rate increases so that they can lavish wealth and luxury on their board members and executives! These companies are leaches on society that drive sick people from their rolls, overcharge those who remain, and routinely rob the poor and give to the rich.

What follows is relatively current information. The source is Fortune Magazine.

The highest paid health care executive in America is Ronald A Williams, the CEO of Aetna. Mr. Williams brings down a shameful $38.12 million per year! For those unable to grasp the enormity of that amount, like me, it comes to approximately $98,958.90 per day! That's right. Ronald Williams is just pocket change (for him) away from making a hundred grand a day! What in the hell does Ronnie do to earn a hundred grand a day? That's not capitalism - that's just thievery, plain and simple!

But there is more than one show hog at Aetna. Of the fifteen most overpaid health care executives in America, Aetna has two. The other is the company's Chief Financial Officer, Joseph Zubretsky, who comes in at number six and makes a healthy $5.57 million per year ($15,260.27 per day.)

Wouldn't it be great to open the old pay envelope every two weeks and feel like you had won the lottery? Damn skippy!

The following individuals flesh out the list of egregiously overpaid health care executives;

#2 Edward Hanway, CEO of Cigna - $10.27 million per year.
#3 Michael Neidorff, CEO of Centene - $8.77 million.
#4 Heath Schiesser, CEO of WellCare - $8.1 million.
#5 George Mikan, III, CEO of UnitedHealth - $6.531 million.
#7 James Carlson, CEO of Amerigroup - $5.29 million.
#8 Stephen Hemsley, CEO of United Health Group - 5.03 million.
#9 Michael McCallister, CEO of Humana - 4.76 million.
#10 Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint (the bastards who are currently raping California with hideous rate increases) - $4.07 million.
#11 Richard Barasch, CEO of Universal American - $3.5 million.
#12 Allen Wise, CEO of Coventry Health Care - $2.6 million.
#13 J. Mario Molina, CEO of Molina Health Care - $2.2 million.
#14 Jay Gellert, CEO of Health Net - $1.34 million.
#15 Herbert Fritch, CEO of Health Spring - $800,000.

Now, before anyone goes out and starts organizing a bake sale to supplement poor Herb Fritch's salary, realize that as poor as his salary sounds (compared to the other fourteen), it is still double what the President of the United States makes in a year - and the President has a real job!

If the teabaggers had a lick of sense, which they obviously do not, they would be out protesting these ridiculous salaries and carrying their goofy signs and guns to the annual stockholders' meetings of these questionably legal enterprises.

The problem is not the doctors. The problem is not the price of health care or the free market system. The problem is not Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid, or Barack H. Obama. The problem is these 21st century robber barons and the members Congress who carry their water for sleazy campaign donations, nice vacations, and other under-the-table favors. And right now the problem is specifically the Republican members of Congress who march in lock-step like so many goose-stepping Nazi's and refuse to open their minds to even a smidgen of rational thought.

The problem is ignorance.

The problem is immoral behavior.

The problem is greed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Boone Macy Archive

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

Boone included a letter with his new book. I am going to archive it here so that I will always know where to find it. I love getting letters from my grandson!

Dear Grandpa Rock.

How are you? Have you been watching the Olympics? I've been watching them with my Grandma. Have you been reading any books? I've been reading a book called "Abduction." It's about a kid that gets stolen by his father he has never seen. I saw the movie called "Avatar." Have you seen it? I also saw "The Wolf Man." I didn't think it was very good though. I hope I can see you sometime.


And here is my reply:

Dear Boone,

It was so good getting your letter, and I loved your book about Jim Morrison! Yes, I did watch some of the Olympics - I like the Winter Games more than I do the Summer Games. I guess that is because I miss the snow. It doesn't ever snow in Phoenix.

I read all of the time. It is a wonderful activity and lets you go places in your mind that you might never be able to get to in real life. I am reading the third volume of "The Lord of the Rings" right now. I also have a stack of books by my bed that I will read later. Every morning I sit in my car and read mystery stories while I eat my breakfast. (I still share my breakfast sandwich with a black bird named Bob!)

I didn't see "Avatar," but it is still playing at a couple of theatres out here, so I may get to see it yet. I have heard that it is good. I liked "The Wolf Man" but did not think that it was great.

I will see you in a couple of months when you and your dad come to Phoenix. I think that we will drive to San Diego again and play in the ocean. Would you enjoy that?

Boone, keep writing. I love to hear from you.

Pa Rock

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Every Word Is True (Part II)

by Pa Rock
Angry Victim

It was autumn in the Valley of Hell and the unbearable summer heat was beginning to dissipate as I began noticing subtle but alarming changes in my living environment. I would turn on the television in the evening and discover that it opened onto channels I never watched, mindless selections like Lifetime, Oxygen, or The Shopping Channel. Foodstuffs were disappearing and apparently being washed down with my cheap wine. One afternoon I stepped into my abode and caught a lingering whiff of cigar smoke.

Somebody was enjoying my home and lifestyle during the hours that I struggled at work to pay for those pleasures!

The audacity of this usurper didn’t scare me off, but it did piss me off! The fright arrived early Sunday morning of Thanksgiving weekend when I was awakened quite suddenly by the clear and distinct sound of a sneeze – a sneeze that seemed to originate in my bedroom! A rapid and complete search of my double-wide revealed that I was quite alone on the premises, but my demon inner-voice was quick to respond, “Like hell, you are!”

The intrusions into my life were becoming alarmingly common. I came home one evening and instead of picking up the lingering aroma of cigar, I caught just a whiff of something that reminded me of college in the sixties. A diligent investigation revealed minor amounts of fresh ash in the large pot that is home to my pet dieffenbachia. Further snooping showed that approximately half a box of wine had disappeared along with most of a bag of ginger snaps. Someone had the munchies big time!

My guest was also making himself at home with my library and music collection. Being anal retentive does have some advantages, and it was easy to see which books and CDs had been placed back on the shelves in an imprecise order. My visitor was a fan of Dashiell Hammett and Arlo Guthrie.

“This here’s a song about Alice. You remember Alice?”

Somebody was having a lot more fun than me, and they were having it at my place, on my dime!

Still I let it slide. The Wheezin’ Geezer is private property, so law enforcement would be reluctant to go cruising through the neighborhood looking for oddballs – especially when the neighborhood is home to little else. And telling Fat Jack would be about as smart as pissing up a rope. That wobbling rodent was on my short list of suspects anyway.

It was during this same time that Scroungy Bastard officially moved in. The neighborhood cat had been edging closer to commitment ever since showing up on my lot in early summer where he enjoyed sleeping under one of the big bushes on hot afternoons. The stray cat would raise a lazy eye in acknowledgement when I ambled by, but otherwise he would ignore me unless I happened to get too close. When I did inadvertently invade his space, he would arch his back and hiss.

I’m not a fan of cats, but I grew to admire his crabby attitude and would occasionally throw him a scrap of two from one of my meals. The odd scrap quickly turned into Scroungy having his own dish on the back porch, a dish that he expected to be ready and waiting whenever he took the notion to drop by for a meal. Constant kindness wore him down, and the hissing eventually stopped.

Fat Jack has a book of rules for the park that he constantly modifies to outlaw anything that displeases him. When a rule is broken, the culprit gets a written warning with a threat of eviction. Being evicted from a trailer park where the resident owns his trailer is an expensive proposition, so Jack feels, with a certain amount of smugness, that he has his victims, err…uh…residents, by the cajones.

I already had one letter in my file from Jack alleging that I drove over the park speed limit – 10 miles per hour. It was a lie, of course, and he had no radar readings to back the stupid allegation, but the park is private property and if the landlord says pack up and leave, you go looking for a truck driver to move your trailer - and a new lot to park it on. The fat bastard has all the aces.

So letter number two arrived. This one told me that it was a violation of a park rule to feed animals outside. It suggested that I might consider getting rid of my cat. Instead of kowtowing to management, I rebelled by moving the dish inside and inviting the old yellow cat in for his evening meal. After he ate, I would throw him back out. But Scroungy grew to like the idea of being inside, and he quickly discovered that he could come and go as he pleased through the doggy door – and I just as quickly discovered that he was exceptionally smart and did not require a litter box. Not surprisingly, we two crabby cats became tolerable roommates.

But Scroungy Bastard had been invited into my home – the mysterious human visitor had not.

My list of suspects contained a few possibilities other than Fat Jack. One was an old hippie who started appearing at various places around the trailer park, and could often be found sitting on the park wall where my cat liked to sun himself.

I had begun going home for lunch on most days in the hope of stumbling upon my well-fed trespasser, or at least interrupting his afternoon repast. But while I found evidence of morning and afternoon visits, my guest was very cagey and seemed to know to stay away during lunch. Scroungy Bastard, however, was always happy to have me drop in and fill his food bowl. He would eat and then exit through the doggy door to resume his neighborhood prowl while I checked email and prepared to return to work.

It was on one of the drives back to work after lunch when I first noticed the old hippie on the wall that surrounds the Wheezin’ Geezer. He was doing a hand stand, demonstrating that even though he was probably in my age range, the fellow was in remarkably good shape. His shoeless feet were braced on a small mesquite limb well over six feet above the top of the wall, and a gray and brown ponytail dangled beneath his southbound head, touching the wall. He wore camouflage cutoffs and a faded green tee-shirt that proclaimed: "Nam – Class of ‘68."

I smiled at the stranger as I drove past, secure in the knowledge that Fat Jack undoubtedly had a rule against sitting on the wall, or at the very least, doing handstands on the wall. The ancient gymnast would be getting a letter, and in so doing, he would draw some of Jack’s unflinching scrutiny away from me. Welcome to the neighborhood, sucker!

A well tattooed and pierced young Goth, an androgynous creature who was constantly walking the streets, also made the list of candidates for being my unwanted house guest. He, or possibly she, appeared to be suffering from chronic starvation. I considered putting a dish out for this unfortunate youth on the back porch, but instinctively knew that would definitely be a lease-breaker. Besides, one stray was plenty – and Scroungy Bastard at least knew how to bathe himself!

My final suspect was a wild-eyed, middle-aged woman who roamed the streets chain-smoking and walking her imaginary pit bull terrier. Everybody gave her a wide berth!

Within a few weeks of the phantom sneeze, I was again startled awake. Late one chilly night (chilly for Arizona) my slumber was shattered by a scraping, rattling racket coming from just outside of my bedroom window. This time I knew what was happening, and I suddenly knew where the sneeze had come from. I lunged for a pair of cutoffs and my five-cell flashlight, and headed for the door. Someone had pulled the skirting back on my trailer and was either just entering or just leaving the crawl space beneath my home!

I was literally flying as I charged out the back door and rounded the outside corner of the trailer. I had no idea who awaited me, and I didn’t care whether he (or maybe she) was armed, psychotic, or rabid. I was protected by righteous indignation, not to mention a big, bad-ass flashlight like the ones cops use to beat down felons and witnesses. Smith and Wesson be damned!

My flight ended a few feet shy of the opening as I stopped to take stock of the situation. Even in the dark I could tell that the skirting under the bedroom window was pulled out about a foot and a half, far enough to allow entry to an average size person, but definitely small enough to eliminate Fat Jack as a suspect. I would need to creep up to the breach, listen for telltale noises of the intruder, and then either crawl under the trailer and scan the area with my powerful flashlight and deal with what I found – or close the skirting and barricade the sucker in this coffin of his own making until he was as dead and desiccated as Norman Bates’ mother!

I dropped to my knees and began to silently crawl forward. Just as I reached the opening, a familiar face peered out at me. I snatched the startled cat by his yellow fur and drug him to safety – and what did I earn for my bravery? Scroungy Bastard hissed, gave me a deep scratch along my forearm, and, after I slung him to the ground, ran back under the trailer.

When Scroungy scratched me I yelled loud enough to wake half of the trailer park, so there really wasn’t much point in trying to remain stealthy. I brazenly crawled just inside of the opening and scanned the manufactured cavern with the bright beam of my flashlight. I could see Scroungy forty feet away against the far wall preening with an air of being pissed off. Except for the possibility of a few hundred scorpions, the old cat appeared to be the only living thing currently in residence.

But someone else had definitely just left. Right inside of the opening was a rolled-out U.S. Army sleeping bag that was covered with a good amount of cat fur. It was still warm from a human body. There were a few empty cans scattered about, primarily beans and sardines, suggesting that he was sharing this makeshift abode with my fickle feline. My tenant-by-suffrage had also left one wrapped cigar and three cold beers in a cooler designed to hold six. I cleaned out his worldly possessions, but left the skirting open so that Scroungy Bastard could get out when he finally relented and forgave me for grabbing him.

The sleeping bag was vintage Vietnam era, one of the good ones like I had been issued four decades earlier. Now at least I had a fairly good idea as to which suspect was sharing my abode. I needed some time to think – that, and a little peace and quiet.

Dawn and the new workday were still about two hours away. I vigorously shook the cat fur off of the sleeping bag and threw it in the washing machine – heavy cycle. Then, not being able to get back to sleep or necessarily wanting to, I put on a sweat suit, and took the three beers and cigar – along with my trusty iPod - out to the front porch. There I relaxed with my feet up on the railing, and contemplated the complexity of life until the sun rose over the Valley of Hell.

The day held a promise of weirdness with a significant chance of danger.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Freebie Jeebies

by Pa Rock
Proud Papa

If you are in need of anything - from diapers to salad dressing to bargain burritos - don't head to the store without taking a look at my daughter's new blog. Molly has put together a blog especially for bargain hunters, and it appears to be taking off! (Five hundred hits in the first four days! It took me nearly a month to chalk up that many on the Ramble!) Check it out, visit her sponsors, and bookmark it! Freebie Jeebies will save you money!

And while you are at it, drop her a note and let her know that Pa Rock sent you!

Happy shopping!

Monday, March 15, 2010

An Irrational Fear of the Census

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The 2010 Federal Census form arrived in my mail box today. It was personally addressed "To Resident At" followed by my address. I have read it, and will probably fill out the form tonight. It has a total of ten questions and will not even take a full ten minutes to complete.

For the life of me I can't figure out why Michele Bachmann got so twisted over the idea of complying with the census. She went on a rant about the results being used to place people into concentration camps, but the path from filling out a short form to being locked down alludes me. Ms. Bachmann may be in danger of eventually being locked down, but when and if that happens, it will be in an asylum - not a concentration camp!

So far I don't think that the right wing's other batshit crazy, Sarah Palin, has found a way to link the census with death panels, but I trust that she is working on it. (And yes, I know that the right wing has far more than two batshit crazies, but I am striving for economy of space.)

Here is what the insidious survey wants to know:

1. How many people will be living in my house on April 1, 2010? One crabby old man and one crabby old cat.

2. Am I sure no one else will be staying at my home on that date? Just me and the damned cat.

3. Do I own the place and is there a mortgage? Yes I do, and no there isn't.

4. What is my telephone number, in case they have questions about one or more of my answers? BR 549.

5. What is my last and first name? Rock, Pa

6. What is my sex? Neutered Male.

7. What is my age and date of birth as of April 1, 2010? 62 - 03231948

8. Am I of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? No, senor..

9. What is my race? White.

10. Do I sometimes live or stay somewhere else? I wish!

And that is it - very lame stuff. I may be naive, but I don't see any trick questions that will get me put on a bus to Camp Swampy.

The government is spending several billion dollars trying to educate the public about how important the census is. This national count is what determines how many congressmen each state gets. (Wouldn't it be sweet if Michele Bachmann got so many Minnesotans to ignore the census that her congressional district was eliminated?) The census also determines the ratio of federal money that goes to each state. It is in every state's best interest that all of their residents get counted.

Unfortunately, some populations are traditionally under-counted. This year it is widely assumed that many Hispanics will ignore the census out of a fear that information will be turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. That is not the purpose, and, despite significant assurances to the contrary, Hispanics in certain areas of the country where racism runs rampant - Arizona, for example - are likely to skip the national count. There is nothing on the census form that asks about citizenship or immigration status, but trust comes hard in a hillbilly police state.

Arizona screws itself again!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Boone Macy's Latest Book

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

I just received a new book, hot off the press, by my grandson, Boone Macy. I have already read it, cover-to-cover, and am highly impressed!

The Doors, written and illustrated by Boone, is the story of Jim Morrison. It is an excellent biography of the troubled soul and poet to a generation - my generation.

This book is done very cleverly, with biographical text on the right-hand pages, and quotes from Morrison songs on the left-hand pages. Here is the first quote that he chose:

"When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange."

That song, of course, was part of the soundtrack of my favorite movie, The Lost Boys, and the quote is somewhat prophetic with the death of Corey Haim this week.

Boone dedicated this book to his Mom and Dad. That is so cool because, even though they are divorced, Nick and Cindy have worked together in raising my grandson and have done an excellent job of it. Boone's maternal grandparents, Dan and Margaret Wallis, have also been very instrumental in helping to mold him into the fine young man that he is today. I am so envious of all of the time that those four get to spend with Boone, and so glad that they are all there for him!

Boone's first book came out last year and was titled The UFO Battle. Both of his books are on Pa Rock's list of top ten books of all time - and both have a place of honor in my library!

Hey Boone, did you know that if Jim Morrison was still alive he would be over four years older than Pa Rock? That's a fact, Jack!

Keep writing, buddy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Pelosi Plane Hoax

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

(The working title for my first book on politics in America is Lies, Damned Lies, and Republican Talking Points! Book number two is tentatively titled Arizona Assholes! It will be dedicated to a local flamboyant lawman!)

I am old enough and white enough to be fairly conservative in my political outlook, but so far I have been able to hold ignorance and greed at bay. I support a variety of social causes, and I have enough experience and understanding to know that the world might just run better without the stewardship of old white men.

Many of the friends of my youth have aged gracefully into a conservative world view, and they tend to worry about me. Some pray for me (they are the most aggravating!), and others send me little subtleties (usually crap emails) about how they think the world either is, or how it should be.

Last week an old friend (white and male) sent me a little manifesto that was supposedly written by a hundred-year-old veteran. The elderly vet felt that the Obamas have been disrespectful of America and her "values." Today another buddy from my past (again, white and male) forwarded an email to me about "Queen Nancy" Pelosi and the expensive new jet that she supposedly ordered on the government's dime to fly her back and forth to California.

I get enough stuff like the two emails above to know with relative certainty what is and is not real. Yes, some hundred-year-old vet who was born during the presidency of William Howard Taft probably is filled with righteous indignation that a family of "coloreds" are living in the White House, and he probably gets all of his news from the clowns on Fox who make up much of what they report. And while we all appreciate the service of our veterans (I, myself, am one), we all become less relevant in society as we age - unless we intentionally strive to keep up. In practical terms, the present belongs to those of us who work, pay taxes, and vote. The future belongs to the young.

Email number two, the one about Queen Nancy and her big jet, was obviously nonsense. It even included a photo of a large airliner that looked suspiciously like Air Force One, along with a plea to please forward the piece of illustrated fiction to everyone on my email list. I'll get right on that - you, betcha!

When stuff like this arrives in my inbox, I usually go to to get the real lowdown on what is going on. FactCheck informed me that stories about Nancy Pelosi flying around in a 757-size jet have been circulating for a couple of years.

Here's the real scoop:

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, House Speaker Dennis Hastert was issued his own plane for security reasons. The Speaker is third in line for the Presidency. In the event some deranged Muslim or Teabagger takes out the President and Vice President, the Speaker of the House assumes the mantle of leadership of the most powerful nation on earth. Speaker Hastert was issued an Air Force C-20B, a small 12-seater based on the Gulfstream III to travel back and forth between Washington, DC and his home district in Illinois. (FactCheck notes that executives from GM and Ford travel in the larger Gulfstream IV.)

When Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House, the House Sergeant at Arms, Bill Livingood (elected to that position when the House was under Republican control) worried that the small jet would not be able to get Speaker Pelosi to her home district in California without stopping to refuel - a security concern. He asked the Air Force about providing her with a larger plane. He did not request one of the fancy 757's like the those used by the President, Vice President, and First Lady. The Air Force responded by saying they would get the Speaker back and forth to California with whatever they had available.

So, to recap, Nancy Pelosi isn't the Queen and she doesn't have her own 757 Air Force luxury jet. She is provided transportation to and from California as a matter of national security because if Obama and Biden both get gunned down or poisoned at some Virginia hamburger stand - she would be the new President of the United States.

Deal with it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Glenn Beck's Jihad on Christianity

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Glenn Beck, easily one of the strangest media performers operating in America today, has had a very bad week - even for him! Beck, whose shtick involves yelling, crying, and always being the righteous victim - or the mouthpiece of righteous victims, invited former Democratic Congressman Eric Massa onto his show this week. Beck hoped to show that Democratic power brokers had trumped up gay sex charges against Massa in order to get him out of Congress before he could vote against the final health care bill. Beck kept leading Massa to water, but Massa kept spitting it back at Beck - making himself look worse and worse with every word he uttered. Finally Beck apologized to his audience for wasting an hour of their time.

More than a couple of commentators have suggested that Beck should give that same apology to his audience every time he signs off!

But Glenn Beck's problems go far deeper than not being able to control his guests. Indeed, his biggest problem is that he can't seem to control himself. This week Beck began ranting about Christian churches that promote economic and social justice. He told his congregants (listeners) to check out the web sites of their churches, and if the words "social justice" or "economic justice" were used on the web sites they should complain to their ministers - and then flee those churches. You see, according to Glenn Beck, those terms are code that indicate the churches are actually controlled by Nazi's or Communists. Really.

For the past couple of days Glenn Beck has been bombarded with messages from Christian churches all across America. It turns out that there are many of those subversive churches out there - churches where they actually believe that Christ had a social conscience and was indeed concerned with the plight of the poor. Beck is a Mormon, and his own church has even been critical of his strange position.

Some ministers have gone so far as to suggest that the members of their congregations walk away from Beck. That is pretty extreme. Jesus would probably have just turned the other cheek and responded with an act of kindness - or some other Nazi pinko stunt!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Molly Files Cuts Loose!

by Pa Rock
Proud Father

By now you have probably heard about the Itawamba County School District in Mississippi that refused to allow 18-year-old senior Constance McMillen to bring her female date to the prom. When McMillen responded by bringing in the American Civil Liberties Union, the school board, representing a public entity that cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, cancelled the prom and arranged for a group of private citizens to hold one instead. Private citizens can discriminate.

Read about it here:

This story lit a fire under my daughter, Molly Macy Files, and today she emailed the following to Teresa McNeece, the superintendent of the backward Itawamba County School District:

To whom it may concern,

Growing up my father was my principal in a small town of 1500 people in southern Missouri. I can feel the scenario so strongly in my heart and I can say with grave confidence that there is no way he would have EVER stopped the entire school from having prom for such a reason. Prom is the yearly celebration where students get to come together & decorate the school, ask each other out, dress up like adults, pin ridiculous flowers on each other, get butterflies in their stomach when the last song of the night starts & do such as their parents did years & years before. It's the part of the year where the parents are forced to put a lot of trust into their kids & allow them to grow up a little. That should be the only thing worrying people right now, the decisions these kids will make on prom night, not someone attending prom in a tuxedo or bringing someone of the same sex as their date. A gay person attending sends the message that it is OKAY to be yourself. It sheds light on a reality that will be seen over & over again outside of the small town. A gay person attends prom & lo & behold the world goes on! The ridiculous tradition of prom may change a little, but the feeling is still exactly the same. The excitement & fun will never disappear. You have no right to strip your students of that. How on Earth could you & your staff have possibly presumed that the entire school was heterosexual? That's some very naive thinking. Just look at what you are teaching these kids. It's such an embarrassment, such a disgrace. Are you going to kick her out of school for being gay too? My parents were in the education field for years. My mother is currently the dean of a college here in town. Students DO look to you for guidance, advice, answers.. they look to you as an example to follow. I've seen it. I've done it. Don't mold their minds in this hateful manner. Please undo what you have done. Please fix it. People will forgive you & praise you for learning from your mistakes. After all, life is a process of learning. Take this moment to teach your students that. They will only respect you more. Those kids don't deserve this. Most importantly is the girl in this situation. She DOES NOT deserve this. You just gave the entire student body reason to hate someone because of WHO THEY ARE. There is no reason in the world that could justify doing such a thing.

Below is the contact information for Superintendent McNeece:

Teresa McNeece:
phone (662)862-2159 Ext. 14

Molly also posted the following response to an article on Yahoo about this controversy:

Wow. How ridiculous. The comment from the teenager who "doesn't agree with homosexuality" makes me sick to my stomach. What a scary thought that the younger generation may turn out to be today's 70 year old white men full of sexist, homophobic, ignorant comments that we politely ignore because "that's just part of their generation, that's how they grew up". We can't let homophobia be a part of the young generation!! Shame on the school for canceling prom. What a horribly discriminating act. Shame on them for hurting this poor girl & allowing other teens to place blame on her for being who she is. What an utter disgrace.

Needless to say, I am very proud of my outspoken daughter - although I have no idea where she gets her brazenness! I am also proud to be a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and after reading Molly's manifesto, I am getting her a membership as well! The ACLU can only benefit from her fire and fury!

BTW Molly: When I am a 70-year-old white man, I still plan to be very cool!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Arpaio Offers to House Kids in his Jails

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Arizona is still in the throes of a budget crisis, one that the state's Republican legislators and Republican governor are trying to solve by themselves, without soliciting or even accepting any advice from the state's elected Democrats. Of course, being Republicans, they are averse to the one solution that could realistically raise revenue - new taxes. They have finally agreed to put a temporary sales tax before the voters because that would keep the onus on the poor, the people who traditionally have to put a greater percentage of their income into sales tax.

Governor Brewer came up with one other gem of an idea. She proposed closing down the state's Department of Juvenile Corrections and turning its duties over to the individual counties. There are currently 400 young people housed in Arizona's juvenile lock-ups and 500 more on parole. Obviously the counties are in no position to take on this added burden.

Not to worry! Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio said this week that he would take the young people into his gulag - err...uh...jail system. Arpaio has been criticized by groups like Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League for the way he deals with county prisoners and runs his jails. He likes to make headlines through stunts such as feeding green bologna to his prisoners and making them wear pink underwear, practices that have led some observers to regard him as a super cop while others see him as a geriatric sadist. He refers to himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff," but the editorial board of The New York Times sees him quite differently, labeling Arpaio "America's Worst Sheriff."

Joe lives for controversy - and publicity. He would undoubtedly like nothing better than to turn juvenile offenders into full-blown Arizona convicts through some twisted and well publicized tough love program.

But that is one wet dream that our sheriff will have to put on hold. Apparently the budget planners decided today to spare the Department of Juvenile Corrections - at least for the time being. Hopefully the young offenders will use this reprieve to change their wicked ways, because old Joe is gonna get them if they don't watch out!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rush Limbaugh Sweetens the Pot!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Any Democratic member of Congress who was wavering over whether to support health care reform or not should waver no more. Today America's most obnoxious radio gasbag, Rush Limbaugh, told his audience that if the current plan for health care passes, he would move to Costa Rica! How could any decent American vote against this plan now?

Of course, what Rush neglected to mention is that Costa Rica already has free universal health care. Something tells me that this bloated blatherer was already planning on moving to Costa Rica where he could have free health care, cheap living, plenty of warm sunshine, and easy access to drugs. Here's hoping that Congress accepts his challenge and makes his move easier.

Adios, Senor Rush! Don't hurry back!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Once a Grifter...

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Sarah Palin is a bit of a con-artist. One of her first acts as John McCain's running mate was to head to Nieman Marcus where she shopped, and shopped, and shopped. Then, after the election, her former future son-in-law, Levi Johnston, let it slip that she was greedy and had talked about how nice it would be to just walk away from being governor and cash-in - which she did shortly thereafter. And then she hired a ghostwriter to pen a book in her name and paraded around the country peddling and signing copies of "her" book. She also took a whole slug of money that she had collected to promote other Republican candidates and used that money to purchase copies of "her" book to use as gifts.

Sarah the barracuda was swimming in dough!

Last week it was revealed that she is pimping her family out to Hollywood for use in some goofy Alaska reality show. Yes, she is greedy, and yes, she has no shame!

Today another Palin outrage came to light. It turns out she did not become a con-artist as a result of being in politics, rather it is an inherited trait.

The eternally vacuous Ms. Palin told a conservative group in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) today that she and her family used to slip across the border into Canada when she was little in order to take advantage of the free Canadian national health care. Yup, the Queen of Mean who loves to rant that U.S. national health care would kill grandma, grew up in a family that took advantage of the Canadian free health care system.

If national health insurance was good enough for young Sarah and her family then, it ought to be good enough for old Sarah and her family now. Of course, times have changed. Young Sarah never shopped at Neiman Marcus! American health care is the best in the world - just ask any rich person!

Okay, she's a con-artist and a hypocrite! Not too surprisingly, Sweet Sarah is also a liar.

In her speech to the Canadian audience today she told a story of how her little brother had burned his foot when he was young, and the family had to take him by train to Whitehorse, Canada, for medical treatment. It turns out she told the same story in Juneau, Alaska, in 2007 when she was running for governor. There she told about her brother burning his foot and the family having to take him to Juneau by boat so he could be treated. It's not a bad story, but she needs to pick one version and stick with it.

Sarah Palin is a mirror image of all that is wrong with politics in America. She is unprincipled, dishonest, and greedy. Fortunately for the country, she does not have the energy or stamina to win the Presidency. (I would have added the word "intellect" to those necessary qualifications, but George W. Bush proved that one was not a prerequisite!)

Good luck with the reality show, Sarah. Here's hoping that proves to be your niche!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Desert Is Going to Explode!

by Pa Rock
Nature Lover

It's raining again in Arizona. We have had two heavy rainstorms today, enough to put some serious water across the low spots on the roads, and intermittent light rain the rest of the day. More black clouds are massing on the horizon.

And it rained last night, one of those slow, soft rains that make it so easy to stay in bed.

I am not a native Arizonan (praise Allah!), but I have been here a few years now - long enough to know that all of this wetness is not normal. My yard is like a pebble-covered wet sponge - it crackles and squishes. I haven't had to water any of my new trees in several weeks. Those trees are already showing fresh growth, and my yard cacti are swelling, storing water as fast as their little roots can suck it in.

Big cacti, like the giant saguaro, can be downright dangerous when they take in too much water. While these prickly monsters may reach more than twenty feet in height, their root systems are relatively small. If one suffers from a natural tilt and then consumes several gallons of rainwater, it can tip over. That happened on Luke Air Force Base recently after a long rain. It took several days for the landscape crew to figure out how to remove it. There is also a very popular postcard in Arizona that is an actual photo of an El Camino that is sitting trapped beneath a toppled saguaro. (An El Camino is a Chevy car/pickup from the old days for those of you who are youth-impaired.)

Native Arizonans, when they aren't busy cleaning their guns or molesting farm animals, opine that the desert will explode in color this spring because of all of the winter rain. The cacti will bloom more vigorously, and every desert flower and weed will be showing their colors. Even the rattlesnakes and gila monsters are apt to be more vibrant and colorful with their winter dirt washed off.

If you have always wanted to visit the desert, this spring might be the perfect time to do it. But if you do come, bring plenty of tourist dollars. Times are tough in the Valley of Hell!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

McCain & Lieberman: Is the Bromance Over?

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Is all this fuss regarding what to do with gays in the military about to break-up one of the sweetest couples in the Senate? Can it really be that crabby old John McCain and his bromantic buddy, evil old Joe Lieberman, are about to split the metaphorical sheets?

Where has the time gone? It was just a few months ago, the fall of 2008, when John McCain was busy running for President with Joe Lieberman, a Democrat in name only, standing proudly by his side while giving the bird with both hands to the nation's real Democrats. John and Joe, they were literally joined at the fly, and poor Lindsey Graham was so wracked with jealousy over his fickle John that he could barely obstruct the nation's business!

But not to worry, Lindsey - storm clouds are rolling in!

John McCain, who graduated at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, went on to have a notable military career sitting in a North Vietnamese prison for seven years. He eventually got out of his cage, returned home, divorced his handicapped wife, married a rich woman half his age, and got in politics. As a national politician with military experience, he was able to fashion himself as somewhat of a military expert. (That probably drew more than a few snickers from his old professors at the Naval Academy!)

Not too long ago John McCain went out on a limb and told reporters that he would support the ending of Don't Ask Don't Tell when military leaders told him that it was time for the policy to go. Crusty old John figured it would be a cold day in hell before any military leaders would speak up in defense of gays in the military.

This year, however, the Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, have both spoken up in favor of ending the ill-conceived and outdated ban on gays serving openly in the Armed Forces.


And to make matters worse for McCain, he was suddenly being challenged by a right-wing, tea-bagging, reptile back home in Arizona. If John was going to save his flabby Senate hide he needed to be getting his talking points out of Mein Kampf, not toadying to liberals by keeping his word.

What's a political animal to do?

The answer was obvious. He had to do an end run around Gates and Mullen by getting some other military brass to speak out against ending Don't Ask Don't Tell - big brass, really big brass, lots and lots of really big brass!

Old John, being the tricky devil that he is, pulled a letter out of his ass that was supposedly signed by "over a thousand retired and flag general officers." (That's active and retired generals and admirals for you civilian types.) He obviously had to stand by those thousand brave individuals and keep them damn military homosexuals locked in the closet. And if his cheesy ploy helped him with the crackers back home in Arizona, so much the better!

However, a group of malcontents called Servicemembers United soon issued a report challenging some of the signatures on McCain's convenient letter. There report said, in part:

"At least one signer, Gen. Louis Menetrey, was deceased when the letter was published and didn't sign the document himself...his wife signed the document for him after his death using a power of attorney - six years after Alzheimer's disease robbed him of the ability to communicate."

While John McCain might not see dead people, he was, at least, hearing from them!

There were also some living signatories who have stated that they did not sign the letter.

Servicemembers United also pointed out that many of the signers were older than creaky old John himself, making their relevancy in the modern world somewhat suspect. The average age of the signers was seventy-four, and the oldest signer was ninety-eight!

Not a good week for Arizona's senior senator. He was definitely sucking the big one!

But then came the cruelest cut of all when McCain's bosom buddy, Joe Lieberman, announced this week that he was going to introduce legislation in Congress to end Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Et tu, Joe? Et tu?

The embarrassing truth is that while McCain has to pander to the right to win reelection in batshit Arizona, his east coast doppelganger, Joe Lieberman, must kiss the asses of more than a few liberals if he is to squeeze out another victory in Connecticut.

Ain't love a bitch!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Stinkin' Drug Bust

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Many years ago my youngest son, Tim, and I were cruising down the highway when we passed a small, odd-looking truck. "That is a septic tank truck," I explained. "They are used to pump out septic tanks that are full."

Tim looked a little non-plussed before asking, "How do you know that?"

Poor Tim had grown up in the time of sewers. He had never known the joys of digging up lateral lines and cutting out tree roots, or of flushing Rid-X or baker's yeast down the toilet in an attempt to get some chemistry cooking in that big cement container buried in the back yard.

But there are still some places in rural communities that rely on septic tanks, even today, and occasionally one of those funny little trucks can still be spotted running up and down the highways.

Just this week, as a matter of fact, one of those septic tank trucks was pulled over by police in southern Arizona when an alert cop noticed that it's license plate was invalid. Police in that area tend to be very vigilant because of the drug and human trafficking coming into the country from Mexico. They pulled the northbound vehicle over and proceeded to examine it. A closer look revealed that the commercial markings on the vehicle were also invalid. Further examination showed that the truck's excrement tank was indeed full of human waste.

But those intrepid cops knew that something did not smell right.

They soon discovered that the tank full of slushy poop also contained bales of marijuana carefully wrapped in red and orange packaging. The 743 pounds of baled marijuana had a street value of over four hundred thousand dollars! Ouch!

Why am I reminded of Tommy Chong wailing, "Hey man, where's my shit?"

The following day on another Arizona highway, a driver was pulled over for speeding, and the pesky police found over six hundred thousand dollars of methamphetamine concealed beneath a false floor in the vehicle. Speeders transporting meth - it's almost poetic!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Short Life of Alejandro Yazzie

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalism

Alejandro Yazzie was a native Arizonan, a member of the Navajo tribe, and a United States Marine. I say "was" because the twenty-three-year-old young man was killed in Afghanistan last month.

Lance Corporal Yazzie would have slipped into history as little more than a statistic of war had it not been for the fact that National Public Radio (NPR) had a reporter embedded with his unit at the time of his death. That correspondent, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, did an excellent job of bringing the awfulness of the war right into America's living rooms with her report from the war zone that ran this morning.

Nelson made friends with many of the young Marines, including Lance Corporal Yazzie. She talked about the difficulties of being a woman embedded in a Marine unit, highlighting the need to shed a certain amount of modesty in order to function in confines of a small unit in a war zone. And she painted a personal view of what life is really like under those harsh conditions, noting, for instance, that the Marines would often "spoon" as they slept in order to stay warm.

It was Nelson's personalization of the death of Corporal Yazzie that formed the centerpiece of the report. She became friends with him, and just two days before his death had loaned Corporal Yazzie her satellite phone so that he could call his wife on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, he was unable to get through on that call.

When the unit came under fire on February 16th, Nelson hit the dirt with her recorder capturing the sounds of the battle as she tried to stay below the flying bullets. She was close enough to Corporal Yazzie to see him take the bullet that ended his life. Her report was a bloody window onto the awfulness of war.

Alejandro Yazzie grew up in one of the most remote areas of the Navajo Reservation. He graduated from high school in Rock Point, Arizona, and later joined the Marine Corps without telling his family until after the deed was done. He wanted his family to be proud of him, and he wanted to be proud of himself.

In his last letter to his pregnant wife, Kalandra, Alejandro told her: "I know you're happy. I know you two, you and the baby (unborn), consider me as your hero. I'll be back, I promise."

Corporal Alejandro Yazzie won't be back, nor will he ever know the joy of playing with his child, but he will be missed by his family and friends for a very long time. May they find peace in his bravery and sacrifice, and may our country achieve peace in his memory.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some Worthy Candidates

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

In addition to Rodney Glassman, the Democratic hopeful to take John McCain's Senate seat, there are some other very good Democrats trying to get improve the quality of elected officials across the country. One of my favorites is Robin Carnahan, the current Secretary of State in Missouri. Ms. Carnahan is from a prominent Missouri political family. Her brother, Russ Carnahan, is a Congressman, and her mother, Jean, is the former First Lady of Missouri who served a couple of years in the Senate. Most notably, her father, Mel Carnahan, was a two-term Missouri governor who won a Senate race against the incumbent, John Ashcroft, three weeks after he (Carnahan) died in a plane crash!

Robin Carnahan is running for the U.S. Senate against my former Congressman from southwest Missouri, Ol' Roy Blunt - the former Republican Whip in the House of Representatives. Carnahan is a dynamo who stands a very good chance of whipping Ol' Roy and driving him from the temple once and for all.

Bill Halter, the current Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas announced this week that he will challenge incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas Democratic primary. Mr. Halter is a progressive and was encouraged to run by several left-of-center national organizations - groups that have collected over five million dollars this week for his campaign.

Senator Lincoln, a loyal lackey of the Walton (Walmart) family, has been fighting to increase the estate tax floor to seven million dollars per couple and drop the estate tax rate from forty percent to thirty percent. Basically that would benefit the Waltons, Tysons, and possibly the Hunts, but few other people in Arkansas. Senator Lincoln has also carried water for her corporate friends with regard to trying to derail serious health care reform.

Blanche Lincoln
by Pa Rock

I'm thinkin'
Blanche Lincoln
Is toast,
Or perhaps pot roast.
But whether she's marmaladed
Or marinated,
She should heed the call
And reserve a U-Haul!

And finally...Governor Moonbeam is back! That's right, Jerry Brown - the ex-Governor of California, ex-Mayor of Oakland, ex-Presidential candidate, ex-boyfriend of Linda Ronstadt, and current Attorney General of California - is again running for Governor of California.

Mr. Brown, the son of another Governor of California - Pat Brown - the one who made Nixon cry - was known for his outrageous comments and actions the first time that he occupied the California statehouse. Brown followed Ronald Reagan into that office. One of the things that the Reagan's did while they ran California - Ronnie and Nancy - was to get a new Governor's Mansion built. Brown scandalized the Reagans and the big money Republicans by refusing to live in the mansion. He took news cameras through the vacant building and railed about how it looked like a Safeway. Brown rented a one-room apartment and slept on the floor during his governorhsip. He also refused to use a state limo and chauffeur, opting instead to drive himself around the state in a used sedan.

The Republican party of California is trying to decide which of two multi-millionaires they will put up against Brown. This may be a very good year for someone as frugal and theatrical as Jerry Brown to recapture the governorship of the nation's most populous state. (I'm doubting that Meg Whitman has ever slept on a floor - or could, for that matter!)

So despite all of the warnings of doom and gloom for Democrats in the 2010 elections, my best guess is that there are some really strong Democrats just itching to prove those pundits wrong!