Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Beginning to Smell Like 2000 All Over Again!

by Pa Rock 
Citizen Journalist

An obligatory "what if" story involving the electoral college has gone up on most of the major news sites over the past few days.  The most popular version seems to be a scenario where President Obama wins the electoral vote, but loses the popular vote to Mitt Romney.  In a perfect world, the worry over continuing close votes would set the stage for some type of serious discussion about the need for eliminating the archaic system of electing a President based on the total and size of the states who cast their majorities for that person.

But this is America in the twenty-first century, and we don't like to deal with any emergencies until the tide is rushing in our front doors or the clown car has just flown off the cliff.

In 2000 when Texas Governor George Bush was running for President against Vice-Presidnt Al Gore, the Bush people had concerns that an extremely close election might leave them winning the popular vote and Gore taking the electoral vote - and thus winning the election.  To that end, they reportedly had a team of lawyers standing by to challenge the "unfairness" of the electoral college.    And, of course the Republican rabble would be whipped into a frenzy to demand the elimination of the electoral college from American presidential politics.

The result, sadly, was exactly the opposite of what they predicted.  Bush's lawyers had to regroup and rush to Florida to challenge all recounts and to argue about the highly questionable Florida results before the U.S. Supreme Court.    George Bush won Florida by around 500 shady votes, thanks to a 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court - and he won the electoral college vote while losing the popular vote.  Bush was pleased at his "legitimate" victory, and the yahoos stayed penned up in their yards because the "right" man had won.

Now the upcoming election appears to tightening with each passing day, and the prognosticators are again talking about the electoral college.  The most common scenario (as mentioned above) seems to be a Romney win of the popular vote, and the President winning the electoral vote, with Romney piling up huge pluralities  in the white red states, and the President winning by smaller margins in those states that support him.


But if that happens those Republican voters who were alright with the electoral college in 2000 are likely to be of a different mind this time around - especially if they feel their man was cheated by an arcane system that favored a Kenyan with big ears and a questionable birth certificate.  And when the morons get mad, there could be hell to pay.  Not only might they not be supportive of someone who doesn't meet their high levels of religious hatred and skin tone tests, they might actually work to obstruct his efforts to govern and move the country forward.

Like the spoiled school yard bullies that they actually are.

Regardless of who wins the Presidency next Tuesday, it is well past time to put an end to the electoral college - and if we ever again are fortunate enough to elect a Congress that is functional, drafting an Amendment to that effect and submitting it to the states for approval should be one of its highest priorities.

America has matured over the past two centuries.  We are old enough to vote without using an intermediary system to shape our votes, and we are also old enough to own our mistakes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last Saturday Night in Phoenix

by Pa Rock
Urban Adventurer

Late this past Saturday afternoon I drove to downtown Phoenix to catch a 4:00 p.m. showing of "Next to Normal" at Phoenix's beautiful Herberger Theatre.  I got there early in hopes of finding some free on-street parking.  As luck would have it, I was able to snag a spot at the end of the block at 3rd Avenue and Monroe - exactly seven blocks - in a straight line - to the front doors of the Herberger.

The parking, as it turns out, was the only "free" thing I encountered the entire evening.

The play, "Next to Normal," as I have already mentioned in this space, was exceptional.   As soon as the lights began to dim, I was able to dash from my cheap seat to one of the better ones that had failed to sell for the late afternoon performance.  As I sat there watching the play, I thought of the other great productions that I have seen at the Herberger - "The Kite Runner," "Les Miserables," "A Raisin in the Sun," as well as a play by Elaine May, "George is Dead," that starred Marlo Thomas and played at the Herberger more than a full year before Ms. May and Ms. Thomas took it to Broadway.

And though I had a great time at the play and walked away from it emotionally drained, it was afterwards that things began to get really interesting.  To begin with, as I left the theatre the first thing I noticed was flashing emergency lights from a police cruiser and police outside of their car directing pedestrian traffic across the street.  "Cool," I thought.  "Phoenix is really starting to show its support for the arts.  Take that, Joe Arpaio!"  One block further along I encountered the same setup.  This time I paid attention as another walker asked a young policeman what was going on.  "Zombie Walk," he replied, pointing to a straggling line of the undead marching parallel to my route one block north.

Okay, so it wasn't a theatre thing.  The police were out in force protecting zombies from traffic and theatre-goers.  Good to know - and it goes along way toward explaining the staying power of both Sheriff Joe and Governor Jan Brewer.

When I had finally dodged the last of the police and the zombies and made it to my car, a sixth sense told me that due to the fact that it had been parked on the street for more that three hours, a walk-around, visual inspection might be in order.  Right on cue, I discovered that the front tire on the passenger side was flatter than Ann Coulter's profile.

A quick survey of my car revealed that if I had a jack or a spare tire, I had no earthly idea where they were stored.  The good folks where I bought my used Saturn, Gateway Chevrolet, had delivered it without several things which one would think would be standard on most vehicles, even used - an electronic door key, floor mats, a serviceable gas cap - so I would not have bet the farm that a jack and a spare tire came with the purchase.  (I have since found the jack, but the spare tire remains MIA.)

So I called my insurance company, USAA.

USAA, I discovered that night, is long on sales, but somewhat short on service.  They arranged for a tow truck to come and rescue me and my vehicle in about an hour and transport us to the nearest Wal-Mart - 13 miles away.  The lady said she called ahead and they would be able to fix my tire when we got there.  Of course, when the tow truck finally arrived, the driver called that Wal-Mart and learned that the tire shop was closed.  Not wanting to leave my only car at a Wal-Mart overnight, I had the driver take me and the car home: twelve extra miles and a cost of $65 which USAA, the following Monday, refused to pay.  (They were so much friendlier and agreeable when they were selling me the insurance policy!)

But meanwhile back in downtown Phoenix waiting on the tow truck:

The disabled car was next to a park bench and a street light, so I took my book de jour, The Complete H.P. Lovecraft, and sat down on the park bench to read while waiting on my rescuer.   Lovecraft, the horror master, was perfect for a street read because zombies of all sizes and descriptions began staggering by on their way home.

It was while I sat there reading that I met Vincent, a "homeless veteran" who happened by on one of those scooters for disabled people.    Vincent, dressed in a concert tee-shirt (some band called Desert Outrage), khaki shorts, and a cap that proclaimed he was a veteran of Desert Storm, asked what I was doing.  I told him that I was waiting on a tow truck.  He said that he was certain that I had a spare tire, and to prove his point, he climbed off of his handicapped scooter and  pulled himself under my car to look for the tire while I stood guard to make sure no one came by and stole the shoes off of his feet while while he back-scooted around on the pavement.

There was no spare tire under the car.

When Vincent resurfaced, I engaged him in conversation to learn about his circumstances.  He told me that he was a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major (he wasn't - of that I am certain), and that he was currently homeless.  Why homeless?  I asked.  (He appeared to be sober and not under the influence of any illegal substances.)  He told me that when he left the Corps he had not been briefed on how to obtain VA services (another lie).  He said that he was looking for a place to spend the night.  His favorite shelter was already full, but there was another available if he could come up with twenty dollars.  We talked awhile longer and I told his about veteran services at the air base where I worked - then I gave him twenty dollars, received a "God bless you" in payment, and watched Vincent roll off into bowels of Phoenix.

The tow truck driver's name was Tom, and he moved to Phoenix a few years ago from Florida.  His goal was to eventually make his way to California - and to that end he believed that San Diego would be nice.  Tom's truck had to be inspected before we could get onto the air base, and in order for that to happen we had to get in line behind another tow truck.

It was a full moon:  zombies, and tow trucks, and con-artists on scooters, oh my!

When Tom finally got me home and backed my car into the drive, a couple of the neighbors walked out onto their lawns to watch.    I had to go downtown for my entertainment, but theirs was delivered!

That was my Saturday night, and it was entertaining from start to finish!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday's Poetry: "Despair"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

This week, hosting such supernatural delights as Halloween, Devil's Night, and the Day of the Dead, seems an ideal time to showcase a poem from the macabre mind of H.P. Lovecraft.  I have chosen "Despair" for its darkly disturbing images as well as for its lyrical beauty.    It would be perfect for the spooky sleepover or creepy camp out.

"Despair" is best read aloud, late at night, by flickering firelight.  Enjoy, if you dare!

by H.P. Lovecraft

O'er the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro' the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair;
In the barren branches creaking,
By the stagnant swamp-pools speaking,
Past the shore-cliffs ever shrieking,
Damn'd demons of despair.

Once, I think I half remember,
Ere the grey skies of November
Quench'd my youth's aspiring ember,
Liv'd there such a thing as bliss;
Skies that now are dark were beaming,
Bold and azure, splendid seeming
Till I learn'd it all was dreaming -
Deadly drowsiness of Dis.

But the stream of Time, swift flowing,
Brings the torment of half-knowing -
Dimly rushing, blindly going
Past the never-trodden lea;
And the voyager, repining,
Sees the wicked death-fires shining,
Hears the wicked petrel's whining
As he helpless drifts to sea.

Evil wings in ether beating;
Vultures at the spirit eating;
Things unseen forever fleeting
Black against the leering sky.
Ghastly shades of bygone gladness,
Clawing fiends of future sadness,
Mingle in a cloud of madness
Ever on the soul to lie.

Thus the living, lone and sobbing,
In the throes of anguish throbbing,
With the loathsome Furies robbing
Night and noon of peace and rest.
But beyond the groans and grating
Of abhorrent Life, is waiting
Sweet Oblivion, culminating
All the years of fruitless quest. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bipolar Disorder, the Musical

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

If I had done my homework before going to see the Arizona Theatre Company's production of "Next to Normal" last night, if I had pulled up a couple of reviews just to see what the play was about -  I never would have gone to see it.  And that would have been my loss.

"Next to Normal" tackles the very serious topic of mental illness, and, in particular bipolar disorder and the effects that the illness can have on the functioning of a modern American family.  It also looks at the controversial treatment electroconvulsive therapy (once referred to as electro-shock therapy).

As a recent mental health therapist who has worked with people with bipolar disorder and their families, I felt at times like I was back in the clinic at Kadena.  Attending a play with a mental health focus would have not been my idea of a fun evening.  "Next to Normal," however, was anything but a normal theatrical experience, and I found myself captivated by the the musical drama as it played out on stage.

There were six characters in this play, with each being archetypes of people I have actually known:  Diana (Kendra Kassebaum), the mother who was still struggling with the death of her infant son seventeen years earlier, Dan (Joe Cassidy), the long-suffering husband who was totally invested in finding a cure for his wife, though her behaviors were wearing him out, Natalie (Andrea Ross), the teenage daughter who felt trapped in the shadow of her dead older brother, Henry (A.J. Holmes), Natalie's boyfriend who was learning about love and commitment in dysfunctional families, two psychiatrists (both played by Mark Ferrell), who directed Diana's treatment and tried to create and maintain a normalcy in the home, and Gabe (Jonathan Shew), the dead son who had grown and flowered as a young man in the mind of his mother.  The cast was amazingly strong, both in voice and acting ability.

Here is a clue to the quality of writing that went into "Next to Normal":  it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010.  Almost all of the dialogue in the play was presented as song lyrics, and the entire cast had astounding voices that powered the story into the theatre rafters.  The book and lyrics were the creation of Brian Yorkey, and Tom Kitt composed the music.

"Next to Normal" is a great play, and the Arizona Theatre Company pulled it off flawlessly!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Weekly Reader: Gone But Not Forgotten

by Pa Rock
Kid at Heart

Yesterday while commenting on an Oregon pre-school's presidential poll of children, I mentioned the Weekly Reader polls that so many of us remember from our youth.   I was curious as to how accurate those polls were, and decided to do some basic Internet research.  While exploring the subject I learned, much to my regret, that Weekly Reader ceased being an independent publication this very year.

The weekly magazine for elementary school children began in 1928 and lasted a total of eighty-four years until it was bought out by its chief competitor, Scholastic Magazine, earlier this year.  An article that I read stated that Weekly Reader had been facing increasing difficulties over the past few years, including competition from Internet sources and declining school budgets.

I attended poor rural schools as I was growing up, and we had to buy our own subscriptions.  I don't remember the cost, but every expense that a household endured had to be justified because there was just not enough money to have all of life's niceties.  Having money for Weekly Reader subscriptions for my sister and myself were expenses that my parents must have prioritized, because we always had our own copies of the little weekly newspapers.

If memory serves, and it doesn't always, it seems like there were usually enough copies for everyone in the classroom.   Probably the teachers paid for extra copies out of their own pockets to insure that all of the kids were covered.  I also remember one class where we would sit in pairs when reading the student newspapers.  Poverty was not demonized then as it seems to be now - and we found ways to work around it.

The first Weekly Reader presidential poll occurred in 1956 when the nation's children correctly predicted that President Eisenhower would defeat his Democratic challenger, Adlai Stevenson.  That is also the first presidential election that I remember - probably due in no small part to things I had read in the Weekly Reader.

The publication conducted thirteen more presidential polls up to and including 2008 when the kids correctly predicted that Barack Obama would defeat John McCain for the presidency.  The only time that America's children failed to accurately predict the winner was in 1992 when they thought President Bush would defeat Bill Clinton.  There was a very strong third-party candidate in that race named Ross Perot, and Weekly Reader did not include him on their ballot.   If Perot had been listed on the Weekly Reader ballot, the publication could have conceivably hit one-hundred percent in the predictive ability of its young readers.

The Weekly Reader that so many of us remember is gone - but it will live on as an important part of our American cultural heritage.  I feel like the little student newspaper introduced me to many things beyond the small community in which I lived, and it helped to make me a concerned and caring citizen of the United States.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Duck Leads Obama and Romney in Oregon Poll

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

Word today out of Buttercup Hill Preschool in Salem, Oregon, is that Duck has won the school's mock Presidential poll collecting a total of seventeen votes and soundly trouncing Mitt Romney who had five and President Obama who received two.  And while the votes of children tend to uncannily reflect the political preferences of their parents (Weekly Reader got it right thirteen of fourteen times), it would appear that Duck has failed to get on enough state ballots to actually win the nationwide vote.

Duck, for those of you not in the know on such things, is one of a group of farm animals belonging to Farmer Brown.  In 2004, author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin, put a tale to paper in which Duck, who was tired of following Farmer Brown's orders, decided to run for President.  The book, entitled Duck for President,  became very popular, and in 2007 First Lady Laura Bush read it to children gathered at the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll.

The children at the Buttercup Preschool have also been learning about Duck, and next Friday they will travel to Portland where they will see the play, Duck for President, at the Newmark Theatre.

Enjoy the play, Sebastian.  When you get a little older, Pa Rock will take you to see some plays by William Shakespeare, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Neil Simon, and maybe even Tim Macy.

(Here's a joke for you to tell your teachers:  If April showers bring may flowers, what do may flowers bring?  The answer is pilgrims!)

Good luck, Duck!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Fine Art of Voting

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

President Obama chalked up another first today when he became the first sitting President to cast his vote "early."  He stopped by his local precinct polling place in Chicago, exchanged some banter with the poll workers (one of whom asked to see his I.D.), marked his ballot, and turned it in.  The President said, somewhat coyly, that he couldn't state who he voted for because it was a secret ballot, but that Michelle had told him that she voted for him.

So the ballots of Barack and Michelle are in the bag - and so is mine.  I can't remember the last time that I actually voted at an official voting place on election day, but it was probably 2004 in my hometown in Missouri.   Two months later I was living in Leavenworth, Kansas, and working for the military.  Since that time I have never missed voting in an election, and, with one exception (Kentucky, I'm looking at you), my votes were always cast through the mail.

I like being able to sit down at my work table and take time in marking my ballot.  If I have questions about a candidate or an issue, I go on the Internet and look for information - then I am able to cast votes that accurately reflect my beliefs and philosophy.  The other thing that drives me to vote early is this notion that I might expire just days or even hours before the dawn of voting day.  I take a perverse pleasure in knowing that if I am gunned down by some moronic Phoenix tea-bagger a few days before the election, my voice will still be heard in the election.

Also, it's nice to be able to tell those odious campaign telephoners and door-knockers that I have already voted - as I hang up the phone or close the door.

American voting has changed substantially over the past decade.  It used to be that we had two choices:  request an absentee ballot or show up at the polls on election day.  Sometimes the lines were long and the weather was bad - or illness interfered.   Now many states allow early voting, either at specified polling places or by mail.  Some states are even letting people register to vote on the Internet - and, unbelievably Arizona is one of those!  I feel safe in predicting that within another decade much of America will be voting on their smart phones.

Smart phones won't necessarily produce smart voters,  but they do provide an immediate way to research any issue or candidate - and informed voters will be good voters, whether they agree with me or not!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Republicans Talk Rape

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Daily Kos ( published a large, color-coded chart today entitled The Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart.  They borrowed it from a blogger called "connecticutie" who playfully suggested last week that President Romney’s new Department of Lady Parts could use it to classify rapes.   Today, of course, after the asinine rape comments of Republican Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the chart had to be expanded.

The following material might be regarded as funny if it was a fiction piece in Mad Magazine or The Onion,  but the fact that it comes from the mouths  of American political leaders  is as sad as it is disgusting.

(Daily Kos has given its readers permission to reprint the material in any social media format. )

“When life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”
--Repbulcian Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (IN)
--October 23, 2012  (One day after being endorsed by Mitt Romney)

“The right approach is to accept this horribly created in the sense of rape, but nevertheless…a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you.”
--Republican Senator and Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (PA)
`--January 20, 2012

“Richard and I, along with millions of Americans…believe that life is a gift from God.”
--Republican Senator John Cornyn (TX), supporting Richard Mourdock’s statement about rape-induced abortions.
--October 24, 2012

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
--Republican Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin (MO)
--August 20, 2012

“If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room.  I would given them a shot of estrogen.”
--Republican Congressman and Presidential candidate (and medical doctor) Ron Paul (TX)
--February 3, 2012

“It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape.”
--Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon (CT)  (also confusing churches with hospitals)
--October 15, 2012

“If you go down that road, some girls, they rape so easy.”
--Republican State Representative Roger Rivard (WI)
--December 21, 2011  (endorsed by Paul Ryan on August 9, 2012)

Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Todd “legitimate rape” Akin, and 214 other Republicans co-sponsored the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” which would prohibit federal funding of abortions except in instances of “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.”
--H.R. 3, 112th Congress, January 20, 2011

“If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”
--Republican Gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams (TX)
--March 25, 1990

Who would have thought there were so many colorful ways to say, "She must have been asking for it."  Clearly, if we as a society keep electing morons to office, it only stands to reason that we must be asking for it.  Fortunately, every generation seems to be getting a little brighter - so maybe the Age of Morons will soon pass.

Vote early and vote often!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

American Crime Continues on Okinawa

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

One of my friends on Okinawa mentioned in an email yesterday that all members of the U.S. military on the small island are under a nightly curfew.  The reason, it seems, is that a couple of drunken sailors sexually assaulted an Okinawan woman.   Those guys have been arrested by the Japanese authorities, but apparently our government has seen fit to keep its military on base in the evenings in order to let things cool down.

When I first arrived on Okinawa in 1971, the island was under control of the United States government, as it had been since the close of World War II.  Our country gave Okinawa back to the Japanese government (though many of the locals would have preferred independence to being handed over to another government) on May 15, 1972 - a date referred to locally as "Reversion Day."

Since that time there have been reports of over 5,000 crimes being committed by Americans on Okinawa, including twelve murders.  One of the more horrific crimes was the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old school girl by two U.S. Marines and a sailor.  That outrage spurred an Okinawan "community meeting" with over 85,000 locals in attendance.

The very first capital crime committed by an American against an Okinawan after "reversion" occurred late in the evening of August 4, 1972.  A 37-year-old Okinawan female bar worker invited an eighteen-year-old soldier home with her after the bar closed.    The young soldier was drunk and became angry when the woman, whom he considered to be a friend from the bar, asked for money.  He wound up choking her to death and then laying a knife, ritualistically, across her chest.   The following year he was tried in an Okinawan courtroom and sentenced to life in prison on mainland Japan.

I know quite a bit about that case.  I was transferred to a new unit while stationed on the island in the seventies.  One of my first duties was to be the escort officer who accompanied the young man from the American brig where he was housed to his trial appearances in Naha.  He was from Florida, and one day as we left by trial, we pulled in at my place - also in Naha - where I took a couple of pictures of him.  He mailed those photos to his mother back in Florida, and he told me later that she said they meant a great deal to her.

On the day that the young man was convicted and received his sentence, the judge admonished him for failing to apologize to the victim's family.  He told me later that no one had told him that he should do that.    It was apparently a serious cultural mistake.

I looked that crime up on the Internet, but could only find the date and the ages of the soldier and his victim.  Sadly, I cannot remember the young man's name.  If he is still alive, he would be in his late fifties now and probably still in that Japanese prison.

If there is a good researcher reading this, I would be most interested in trying to fill in some of my mental gaps - and maybe even checking in on the man who was little more than a sad, stupid kid four decades ago.

Meanwhile, many young people living away from home in foreign settings still drink and make bad decisions - sometimes with deadly consequences.  That has not changed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Russell Means has Left the Rez

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

When Native American Russell Means died today, he left a legacy of activism and achievement that will be hard, if not impossible, for anyone in the American Indian community to ever match or exceed.
Ironically, Means, a political firebrand of the 1970's and native of South Dakota, died just one day after another South Dakota political activist from the 1970's - George McGovern.   Both men passed away in their home state.

Means, who was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, moved to the San Francisco area with his family at a young age.   In 1964 he and his father were part of the group that took over Alcatraz Island, a highly publicized protest that helped focus the nation's attention on the plight of its indigenous citizens.  Means was at the center of several Indian protests during the seventies.   He was in the group that seized the Mayflower II in Boston on Thanksgiving Day in 1970.   Soon after that he was involved in the take-over of Mount Rushmore - a federal monument.

Russell Means became active in the American Indian Movement (AIM).   In 1972 he was part of AIM's takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, DC, an event which resulted in the destruction of property and many government documents.  The following year he was a spokesman for the biggest Indian protest of the era - the occupation of Wounded Knee.

The activist got involved in politics and ran for President of the Oglala Sioux Nation twice - 1974 and 2004, losing both times.   In 1988 he ran for the Libertarian Party's nomination for President and came in second to Congressman Ron Paul.

Means turned to acting in 1992 when he landed a role as an Indian chief in the movie, The Last of the Mohicans.  Over the next two decades he was involved in several film projects.

He left behind a widow, Pearl Means, four ex-wives, and ten children.

The 1960's and 1970's were a different time - a period in our nation's history when people displayed the courage to criticize their government if they perceived it to be on a wrong course, and had the courage to step forward and fight for change.  Russell Means, like George McGovern, stood tall for ideals that were truly American and fought to make America a better place for us all.  Means and McGovern both had positive impacts on history, and they will both be sorely missed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

He Ain't Illegal, He's My Brother

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There has been some controversy this week over the continued use of the term "illegal  immigrant" by the Associated Press and the New York Times.   Some are arguing that the term is dehumanizing and characterizes the person as being "illegal" rather that the act that the person may or may not have committed.  The argument is that people aren't "illegal," though their actions may be.

Tom Kent, the deputy managing editor for standards and production for the Associated Press, reviewed the use of the term "illegal immigrant" in response to calls for his organization to drop its usage.  Kent tried to minimize the dehumanizing aspect by noting that the AP routinely refers to "illegal loggers," "illegal miners,' and "illegal vendors."  His logic was:  we call everyone illegal, so what's the big deal?

The fact checkers went to work and found out that Kent was implying an equivalency that didn't exist.  The AP had used the term "illegal logger" 69 times in the past year, "illegal miner" 9 times, and "illegal vendor" exactly twice.  But the term "illegal immigrant" appeared over 3,000 times in AP articles during that same period of time.

The Associated Press has recently given its reporters the option of referring to these individuals as "living in the country without legal permission."

An NPR radio personality suggested that the New York Times might be using the term "illegal immigrant" because the venerable newspaper is under-represented by Hispanic reporters.    It turns out that just four percent of the New York Times staff are Hispanic - in a city where 29 percent of the population is Hispanic.  The tired, Old Gray Lady has no current plans to drop the use of the derogatory term.

Some are saying that the use of "illegal immigrant" is a generational thing.  The country's top twenty college newspapers (as rated by the Princeton Review), consider the description as "outdated" and do not use it in their publications.  A person associated with one college newspaper noted that it took older Americans much longer to quit using the "N-word" in referring to black people than it did for young people to jettison that offensive term.

Fox News may be beyond redemption, but surely we can expect better from the Associated Press and the New York Times.

People are people.  They are neither legal or illegal, but some are certainly kinder and more tolerant than others.    It's refreshing to know that our young people have apparently gotten the memo.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Through the Political Looking Glass Darkly

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Three things, all related to politics, have recently caused me to do a double-take, and then to smile.  First, The Onion has come out with its presidential endorsement, and, as befits one of our nation's premier humor newspaper (that masquerades as a legitimate news source), The Onion went beyond the major party nominees and came up with an oldie, but definitely not a goody, for their presidential pick. The Onion has endorsed John Edwards!

Somehow, I think that Shakespeare would have loved John Edwards, too.

Yesterday as I was circling the local McDonald's a nice car backed out in front of me.   On its bumper was a sticker that took me back to the sixties.  It was a new, red and blue Nixon/Agnew sticker!  I have lamented before that modern politicians, particularly Republican politicians, are such right-wing ideologues that they make Nixon look like a statesman, so perhaps that is what that the owner of that sticker was implying.

The third unexpected political surprise came today when I saw the presidential endorsement of the Salt Lake City Tribune.  While certainly not an expert on Utah politics, I would have assumed that any major publication in the very Mormon state of Utah would be in the bag for Romney.  The Tribune, however, endorsed Obama.

The newspaper was very positive regarding Romney's "rescue" of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics from a "cesspool" of scandal.  But then it recounted his "servile courtship" of the tea party in order to win the Republican nomination, and his subsequent "shape-shifting" as he tries to transform into a candidate more acceptable to the rest of America.   The newspaper also bemoaned his lack of specificity in his economic plans.  The Tribune stated that the most frequently asked question in the campaign has become  "Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?"

Mitt Romney, shape-shifter.

Who is Mitt Romney, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?

Does Mitt Romney even know?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Welcome to My World

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Arizona, the Scorpion State, is a very strange place indeed.  The cultural and political outrages of this state are the stuff of legend, and they just keep coming.  Consider these jaw-droppers:

The student newspaper at the University of Arizona came under some national criticism recently because of a homophobic cartoon that one of the students produced and the editor saw fit to print.  In the cartoon a father is talking to his young son:   The father says, "Ya know son...if you ever tell me you're gay...I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet, and throw you off of a bridge."  To which the son replies, "Well, I guess that's what you call a 'Fruit Roll Up!'"  And then they have a good father-son bonding laugh.

To someone's credit, the cartoonist was fired, but I understand the editor is still practicing student journalism.  I sort of feel sorry for the whole crew.  This is Arizona, after all, and they probably had no way of knowing just how offensive that exchange would be in the real world.

My friend Don, who is a for-real journalist in Florida, forwarded a link to a story about an Arizona snafu with voting.    The Maricopa County Department of Elections (my county, though I hadn't heard the story) sent out voter registration cards that had a document attached giving the date of the general election.   Two versions were mailed out - one in English and the other in Spanish.  Unfortunately, the general election date listed on the Spanish version was November 8th, two days after the actual election.  The English versions had the date correct as November 6th.

A spokeswoman for the elections people said it was "an honest mistake."  (I understand that Governor Brewer would like to hear from anyone who believes that.   She wants to sell them shares in the Grand Canyon!)

Amigos, the general election in Arizona and all of the other states is Tuesday, November 6th.  If you received a ballot in the mail, don't wait.  Mark that sucker and mail it in today!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There is news today of the imminent passings of two great Americans - one a beloved statesman, and the other a weekly publication that captured the essence of the nation for eight decades.

George McGovern, the liberal United States Senator from South Dakota in the sixties and seventies (and into the eighties), came to national prominence when the Democratic Party nominated him to run against the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, in 1972.  McGovern, a World War II B-24 bomber pilot, was one of the most honorable people to ever grace the national stage.  He ran in 1972 as the candidate who would bring peace to the catastrophe that was the Vietnam War.  Nixon and his merry band of criminals painted McGovern as a pacifist and left-wing loony.  Nixon won that election by one of the widest margins in history, only losing Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

McGovern is 90-years-old.  He is currently is hospice care and his family reports that he is "unresponsive."  They are gathered at his bedside in Sioux Falls awaiting his passing.

I voted absentee in 1972 from Okinawa where I was stationed with the Army.  That was my first presidential vote, and I cast it proudly for George McGovern.  The military used our official rosters to send out pro-Nixon voting literature.  (I know that because there was an error on my address on the voting propaganda, the same error that the military had on its official roster on Okinawa.)

George McGovern is from the small town of Mitchell, South Dakota.  Anyone who has ever driven toward the Badlands or Mt. Rushmore is familiar with the scores of billboards directing them to the famous "Corn Palace" of Mitchell.  It is an old auditorium that the locals completely cover with dead vegetation - corn stalks, sun flowers, leaves, etc - each year.   The Corn Palace is quite the tourist attraction - and well worth pulling off of the road for a quick look-see.

George McGovern will be missed, particularly in times such as these when politicians seem to have no concept of the term "integrity."

The other sad passing is that of Newsweek magazine.  It was announced yesterday that the American journalistic staple will cease publication on December 31st of this year.  All of its content will now be offered on-line at The Daily Beast.   Thousands of people, of course, will lose their jobs as this change occurs - and America will lose an old friend.

Can Time be far behind?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cher on Romney

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Cher, a sex goddess from my generation who has one of the most distinctive and alluring voices in the history of recorded music, posted a tweet this morning in which she referred to Mitt Romney as an "egregious liar."  My first thought upon reading her tweet was that my idol was being far too easy on the money-grubbing tool of corporate America, but hey, she only had a hundred-and-forty characters in which to work!  Cher's spot-on assessment of Mr. Forked-Tongue went out to over a million people who follow her on Twitter (including me), and was "re-tweeted" by many of them (again, including me).

Last night's debate obviously got Cher stirred up.  I'm glad that she has the patience and stamina to sit through something as emotionally grueling and angst-provoking as the face-off between the President and his challenger.  I used to enjoy political events like that, but I have gotten to where I just can't take it anymore.  (I followed the debate on Twitter where friendly partisans kept me posted on what was going on.  That was all the drama I could handle.)

Cher said in her tweet that she has lived through eleven presidents.  I think that number should be twelve, the same twelve that I have lived through - from Truman to Obama - but given our advanced years, those memory gears occasionally begin to slip.  Of those eleven or twelve that we have experienced, there have been some that were god-awful.  Richard Nixon (Tricky Dick) leaps to mind.  He came into office largely by virtue of having a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam.  Of course, it took him five years to do it - and even then he had to be dragged into the peace process kicking and screaming.

After Nixon we were saddled with Gerald Ford who was, on his best day, an ineffectual joke.  A few years laters Ronald Reagan cajoled his way into the White House and spent eight years kissing up to Christian conservatives while his wife, Nancy, was meeting with her personal astrologers in the White House family quarters.  Reagan pretended for most of his two terms that AIDS did not exist, and his executive inaction effectively sentenced thousands and thousands of Americans to a lingering and painful death.   And on the environment, when it was revealed that loggers in California had cut down one of the nation's oldest and largest trees, Reagan uttered those immortal words, "When you've seen one tree, you've seen them all."  What a guy!

George W. Bush, who was elected to the presidency by five wing-nut members of the United States Supreme Court,  came into office with a budget surplus and promptly sent most of it back to taxpayers in the form of rebates in order to keep Congress from using the money on social programs.  Shortly after that he over-reacted to an act of extreme terrorism and got the United States mired down in two long-term wars (largely to establish oil routes across the Middle East) - and probably wished he hadn't been so hasty in sending all of that money back to the taxpayers.  Bush's wars dragged the country into massive debt that may never be settled and caused diplomatic catastrophes that will take years to resolve.

So Cher and I have seen some serious bozos in the White House - but a President Romney would be more than either one of us could probably take.   The man was raised rich, got richer by destroying American businesses and sending much-needed jobs overseas and hiding his assets in foreign banks so the U.S. tax man could not get at them.   And, yes, Mitt Romney lies about everything.

Thank you, Cher, for pointing that out.  You are a goddess - and I would drink your bathwater with a straw!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mix It Up Day Stirs It Up

by Pa Rock
Former Educator

Two weeks from today, on Tuesday, October 30th, over two thousand high schools across the United States will participate in "Mix It Up at Lunch Day," an event designed to break students out of their cliques and have them associate with kids from beyond their normal social circles during lunch.  The event is part of the Teaching Tolerance curriculum of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it has been growing in strength across the American educational system for the past eleven years.

A primary objective of "Mix it Up Day" is to eliminate bullying in the schools.  The topic is often addressed across the curriculum on the day of the event.   The more students know and understand one another, the less fertile ground will exist for bullying.

Of course, not every segment of society is against bullying, even when it results in traumatized kids harming or even killing themselves.  Take for instance that sanctimonious coven of Bible thumpers that calls itself the American Family Association.   This group of fundamentalist extremists see the activity as an overt attempt by the SPLC to promote a "homosexual lifestyle."  They are contacting parents urging them to file complaints with schools about the activity and to keep their kids at home on that day.  So far God's avengers have bullied two hundred schools into forgoing the event this year.

A couple of years ago the American Family Association pointed their hoary finger at Home Depot, saying that company also promoted a homosexual lifestyle.  Name-calling is something that the "religious" group is good at, a bullying tactic that is easy to employ and hard to fight.  They certainly don't want to lose their training ground for bullying - America's public schools.

Bigotry and bullying are learned behaviors that more often than not originate in the home.   The Southern Poverty Law Center and America's public schools are truly doing great work in trying to change these ingrained, learned behaviors and stem the tide of hatred and ignorance.  Their efforts would make Jesus proud.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday's Poetry: The Horace Poem

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

To further illustrate the comic genius of the Monty Python troupe, this week's poetry selection is one of their creations, The Horace Poem, which is also known as The Haggis Poem.  It is a good example of Python's strange humor and general irreverence.

According to Wikipedia, haggis is:

"A savory pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs);  minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for approximately three house. " 

The Horace Poem 
Monty Python

Much to his Mum and Dad’s dismay
Horace ate himself one day.
He didn’t stop to say his grace,
He just sat down and ate his face.
“We can’t have this his Dad declared,
“If that lad’s ate, he should be shared.”
But even as he spoke they saw
Horace eating more and more:
First his legs and then his thighs,
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes…
“Stop him someone!” Mother cried
“Those eyeballs would be better fried!”
But all too late, for they were gone,
And he had started on his dong…
“Oh! foolish child!” the father mourns
“You could have deep-fried that with prawns,
Some parsley and some tartar sauce…”
But H. was on his second course:
His liver and his lights and lung,
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue;
“To think I raised him from the cot
And now he’s going to scoff the lot!”
His Mother cried: “What shall we do?
What’s left won’t even make a stew…”
And as she wept, her son was seen
To eat his head, his heart, his spleen.
And there he lay: a boy no more,
Just a stomach, on the floor…
None the less, since it was his
They ate it – that’s what haggis is.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Happens in Camelot

by Pa Rock
Theatre Aficionado

Last night I was in the audience of the Phoenix Theatre's splendid production of Spamalot, Monty Python's take on the legend of Camelot.    To those of us of a certain age,  the comedy troupe of Monty Python is synonymous with highly irreverent and wickedly funny skits.  Spamalot, written by Python's Eric Idle with music by John du Prez and Eric Idle, was a Monty Python experience in the fullest sense of the term.

The material was hysterical - off-beat sight gags and sharp one-liners were liberally sprinkled across the tale of King Arthur and his knights in pursuit of the Holy Grail - and it was all set to many wonderful songs.  Kimberly Hamby, who played the Lady of the Lake, belted out several songs that rocked the rafters, and the entire cast pranced, danced, and sang their hearts out.  It was the best staged musical that I have seen since Jersey Boys - and even more fun.

Other standout performers included Joseph Cannon as King Arthur, David Errigo, Jr. as Arthur's faithful sidekick, Patsy, Michael Andrako as Sir Galahad, Toby Yatso as Sir Lancelot, and Eddie Maldonado as Prince Herbert.

Being a Python experience, there was quite a bit of gender-bending including a very narcissistic Galahad and a very gay Lancelot.  (I overheard an older lady in the audience telling her friend during intermission that Galahad reminded her so much of her best girlfriend in high school.)  Lancelot gets off a great quip as he is preparing to marry Prince Herbert when he says, "A thousand years from now this will still be controversial!"

The set was amazing:  a mashup of medieval England and Las Vegas, enabling one character to proclaim, "What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot."  From a technical perspective, the Phoenix Theatre's production of Spamalot was a masterpiece.  The audience was transported out of Arizona and into the very strange and beautiful world of Monty Python.   The spell was broken, ever so slightly, when one member of the cast gave a shoutout to Sheriff Joe, though I am certain that this was not the type of play that our geriatric buffoon of a lawman would deign to sit through.

Spamalot was a great evening's respite from the mean reality of Arizona.    If one was blessed with the money and the time, it would be easy and fun to sit through every performance of this wonderful production!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Neanderthal Who Votes

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The postman brought two very important pieces of mail over the past two days.  Yesterday he delivered the genome kit that I ordered from the National Geographic Society last month.  I will have to take two cheek swabs and mail them in, and the NGS will do a laboratory analysis of my DNA and issue a report.  The Society states in the pamphlet that came with the kit:

"We will run a comprehensive analysis to identify thousands of genetic markers on your mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down each generation from mother to child, to reveal your direct maternal deep ancestry.  In the case of men, we will also examine markers on the Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son, to reveal your direct paternal deep ancestry.  In addition, for all participants, we will analyze a collection of more than 130,000 other markers from across your entire genome to reveal the regional affiliations of your ancestry, offering insights into your ancestors who are not on a direct maternal or paternal line.
"Included in these markers is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominid cousins, Neanderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago.  As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more that 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia.  It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA."

That's right, sports fans.  If your ancestors came through Europe, chances are they boinked a few Neanderthals during their migrations.  In fact, the National Geographic Society states that most non-Africans have about 2.5 percent Neanderthal in their genetic make-up.   (Indigenous sub-Saharan Africans did not migrate through Europe and thus kept their lineages free of Neanderthal and Denisovan markers.)

I have read other sources that state that European lineages often contain 2.5% to 4% Neanderthal in their ancestry.  (If my percentage of Neanderthal is substantial, that would go a long way to explaining our large skull sizes.  I wear a size 8 hat!)

This morning the postman brought my general election ballot which I will fill out and have in the return mail on Monday.    This year in Arizona the Republicans are listed first.  I will, of course, slide past Romney-Ryan and cast my vote for Obama-Biden.  The President made some significant strides with the economy despite the prolonged and extreme opposition of the Republican members of Congress whose only objective was to stall and kill any initiatives put forth by the administration.  I applaud the President's successful efforts to save the American automobile industry, his initiatives to make health care affordable and available to all Americans, his support of young Latinos as they try to achieve the American dream, and his support of gay marriage.  Yes, I would have liked to have seen more progressive measures enacted into law, but considering what President Obama had to work with in the way of a Congress, his first term has been successful.

I will be supporting Richard Carmona for the United States Senate.  Carmona, the Democratic candidate, is running a surprisingly close race against Republican Jeff Flake in the effort to take the seat of retiring Senator Jon Kyle.  Kyle needed to retire, and I commend him on his decision to do so.  Bill Clinton was in the East Valley earlier this week and gave a barn burner of a speech in favor of Dr. Carmona.

I will be voting against my incumbent congressman, Republican Trent Franks.  While Franks is not the worst member of Congress - he has not, for instance, sent around email photos of himself in his underwear (that I am aware of), tried to become a citizen of Switzerland (that I am aware of), or tried for force a pregnant girlfriend to get an abortion (again, that I am aware of) - he is definitely somewhere down toward the bottom of the congressional barrel.   Mr. Franks does not like social programs or allowing women to make decisions regarding their own bodies.

I will also be proudly voting against the re-election of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  The eighty-year-old Arpaio has cost Maricopa County and its insurers millions of dollars through his office's mistreatment of prisoners, political games, and dereliction of duty.  The old windbag has accumulated a war chest of millions - almost all of it collected out-of-county and out-of-state, but even with all of that money, he is in a tight race.

Sadly, in Arizona, votes are often cast against something rather than for something.  But I can do that - it must be the Neanderthal in me!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Olive at One

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandfather

My oldest granddaughter, Olive Noel Macy, turned one-year-old today.   She attended a birthday party at the home of her cousins tonight, and in the photo that I saw, she was wearing a party hat and eating a big piece of birthday cake.  Pa Rock wishes that he could have been there.

But I was at her last birthday celebration - at the hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, on the day little Olive was born.  She was so tiny - and her parents and grandparents were so happy!  Lots of people came to see her that day.

I was living overseas when Olive was born and happened to be home on a visit at the time of her big entrance.  Two days after she was born I had to return to Okinawa.

Olive and her parents came to see me on Okinawa in April.  In fact, she turned six-months-old on Okinawa.  While she was there she got to put her feet in the ocean, and the Okinawan and Japanese women literally lined up to hold her.  She won't remember it, of course, but little Olive had a great time in Asia!

I moved back to the United States in July, and in early August I visited Olive and her parents in Los Angeles, California, where they were spending the summer.    We walked to West Hollywood a couple of times while pushing Olive in her stroller, and also went out to Venice Beach where we walked along the famous canals.

I visited with Olive in her home in Kansas City in September and a day or so later she and her parents and I all flew to Canada where her daddy had a film premiering at the Toronto Film Festival.

Olive started walking shortly after the trip to Canada, and I understand that now she likes to run - and would much rather be outside than indoors!

So although Olive and I have known each other barely a year, we have visited in three states (Kansas, California, and Missouri) and two foreign countries (Japan and Canada).  That's quite a bit of traveling for someone so young - or for someone who is sixty-four for that matter!  I hope that we will get to spend much more time together as Olive grows up.

Olive, let's make Arizona the next state on our list.  Come see me!

Happy Birthday, Olive.

Much love from Pa Rock!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Father's Pride

by Pa Rock
Extremely Proud Father

I have used this space on occasion of speak of how proud I am of my children.  I have three, and while each of the three is distinctly unique, they have all developed into wonderful parents and very good people.

Nick, my oldest, sets the bar for being a great dad.  He stays active in his son's life and always finds time to do those father-son things that young Boone will never forget.    They have been fishing buddies since Boone was old enough to hold a pole on his own.  They hunt, bowl, barbecue, prowl flea markets and yard sales, and have fun with one another.  Nick works hard, but he also knows how to relax and enjoy life.

Molly is a stay-at-home mother of three pre-schoolers.  She expends more energy in an hour with her mommy duties than I do in a week.  She clips coupons and has an uncanny instinct for finding bargains.  Molly makes sure that none of her kids lack the things that they need.  She is constantly on the go taking the little ones to special places and play dates.  She and Scott work very hard at being great parents to Sebastian, Judah, and Willow.

Tim, my youngest, and his wife, Erin, are also very good parents.  Baby Olive has an extremely out-going personality, something that she inherited from both of her parents.  Tim, as I have mentioned here on numerous occasions, is beginning to experience success as a screenwriter and has had one of his scripts turned into a feature film.  This evening I finished a read-through of his first novel - and it is amazingly good!

My father had one criteria for measuring success:  money.  The more you had, the more successful you were.  And while many good things can come about through being well financed, there is so much more to life than that.  Somehow my children have come to be very successful human beings - and they have done it on a budget!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finally, Meaningful Polls!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The national polls on the presidential race are fairly tight, leaving one to conclude that the country is almost evenly divided between the two candidates.  I had a college class on polling back in the dark ages where I formed an appreciation of the power of sampling and analysis.  National polls can take information from just a few hundred people in selected precincts and analyze those results to give us a fairly accurate picture of what the country as a whole is thinking.

But there are polls, and then there are polls.

The well-known convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, has also been conducting a national poll of sorts, and their results are statistically lop-sided in favor of the President.    7-Eleven sells blue and red coffee cups, with the blue cups sporting the President's name and the red ones promoting his Republican opponent.  The very unscientific sampling of national political opinion has correctly predicted who would be elected President in the last three national campaigns.

This year 7-Eleven has Obama beating Romney nationally 60% to 40%.    In fact, as of yesterday, the 7-Eleven coffee cup poll only had Romney leading in two states:  Idaho and West Virginia.  (The Mormon candidate was even losing in Utah!  Ouch!)  The candidates are currently tied in New Hampshire.

Of course I am sure that Republicans would argue that 7-Eleven customers are not a real cross-section of America.   For instance, how many NASCAR owners or venture (vulture) capitalists stop by the local 7-Eleven for their morning coffee?  In fact, Republicans would probably suppose that most 7-Eleven customers were those needy beggars who make up the disgraceful 47% of the country who expect the government to meet their every need.  (No wait, that would include venture capitalists. - at least the greedy bastards who bank in the Caymans and Switzerland.)

It's all so confusing!

I wonder which cups the posers at Starbuck's would choose if given the opportunity?

(For the record, I have a Starbuck's line and a Folger's line in my family tree - which makes me bi-caffeinated!)

There was one other recent poll of ordinary people that is worthy of note.  Readers of Family Circle magazine were given the opportunity to vote on cookie recipes submitted by the presidential candidates' wives.  Readers were asked to bake the recipes submitted by Michelle Obama and Ann Romney at home and then vote for the best.  The First Lady won with her White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies - beating out Mrs. Romney's M&M Cookies by 297 votes out of over 9,000 which were cast.

The Family Circle cookie bake-off has correctly predicted the presidential winner since it was started in 1992 - with the exception of 2008 when Cindy McCain won.  Mrs. McCain, the heiress to the largest beer distributorship in Arizona, stole the show with her Bud Lite Lemon Bars.  (Just kidding! - I don't know what recipe Cindy submitted, but she did win.)

And in defense of Ann Romney, the domestic who supplied her with the losing recipe was obviously part of the chronically dependent 47% who wanted Mrs. Obama to win!

Political coffee cups and cookie recipes may lack the scientific integrity of Nancy Reagan's astrologer, but they are signs of what the common people are thinking.   Candidates who ignore them will do so at their own peril.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

John Bryan Moore Is Headed Home - Again

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

John Bryan Moore ran away from home in Riverside, California, in the winter of 1986-87 at the tender age of just sixteen.   A short time later he was discovered living in Los Angeles, so his name was taken off of a national registry of missing persons.  But he didn't go home.

From Los Angeles, the young man made his way to Florida where he resided for a time in the community of Palmetto.  Sometime in the spring of 1987 he began making his way back toward California.  He called relatives from Louisiana and told them that he was headed home.  But he never arrived.

Moore's sister, Joella, said that she often wondered what had become of her brother over the years.  His father and mother, living separately, did not move nor change their phone numbers after their son went missing - in hopes that he would one day either walk up to one of their front doors or dial an old, familiar telephone number.  Joella said that her hope was that he had started his life over somewhere.

This week the family of John Bryan Moore learned what had happened to their loved one.  Moore was hitchhiking through the western United States and was indeed headed back to his family in Riverside.  Somewhere he had gotten a ride with a good Samaritan and was driving the man's sedan on Interstate 10 near Phoenix, Arizona, on June 18, 1987, when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed.    Young Moore was dead at the scene.

He had a duffel bag with him that had a label with the name "Brian Moore" and an address in Florida.   That was not enough for an identification, and the young man was laid to rest in a pauper's grave in Tempe, Arizona, where he was officially known as John Doe 87-13337.

John Bryan Moore was just one of two hundred unknown individuals buried in Maricopa County, Arizona.   Last year the Maricopa County Medical Examiner got a grant from the National Institute of Justice - part of the U.S. Department of Justice - to investigate identities of forty of those unknowns.  Steve Leon, a relentless investigator for the Medical Examiner, contacted 37 agencies in the effort to identify John Doe 87-13337.  The boy's body was exhumed to allow for dental work to be examined and DNA samples taken.  When a tentative identification was made, investigators contacted family members in California to obtain DNA from them.  That led to a positive identification and resolution of one of two hundred cases.

Detective Leon said "I was determined to work this case until every lead was exhausted."

John Bryan Moore's father and sister came to Phoenix yesterday where they met with the press and made arrangements to help John complete his final trip back to Riverside.    The family was glad to have closure, even if the news was not the result they had hoped for over all of those years.   Joella, the sister, said, "I can't tell you at a family level how much this means to us."

May this young hitchhiker rest in peace, and may his family find serenity in finally having the knowledge of what became of their son and brother.

Good work, Detective Leon. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Arizona Blues

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

Sadly I am back in Arizona, having arrived home about two in the afternoon.  It was an easy and uneventful drive, but it stretched across three hours of extremely boring desert.  Arizona's giant saguaro cacti look very sad this year.  I think global warming and pollution are having a negative impact on the cacti and the people.  (The primary difference between the cacti and the people is that the people have polluted themselves.)

I saw four political bumper stickers on a total of three cars during the drive to San Diego and back.  All four stickers were pro-Obama!  Take that Pew Poll!

Yesterday evening I drove back to Imperial Beach and had a wonderful time walking the beach and speaking to the locals.  Aunt Mary is after me to move to California, and I think I could be very happy someplace like IB - blue collar and on the water.  As I kept staring out across the wide Pacific, my repeating thought was "Okinawa is out there somewhere!"

I spent the afternoon hanging pictures - some of the ones that I brought from the Far East - including two beautiful Japanese kites that I had framed, and some canvas propaganda posters from North Vietnam.  I seem to gradually be crafting an art gallery!

The Arizona daytime temperatures are down into the nineties, and I heard a report on the radio today that the high next Friday is expected to be 75 degrees!  God, that sounds good!  There is also a chance of rain next weekend.  Winter will be welcome, but in Arizona it is far too short!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beach Scenes

by Pa Rock
Road Warrioring.

It is an absolutely beautiful day in southern California.  I drove south to Imperial Beach for breakfast at a McDonald's this morning.  Imperial Beach is a rundown beachfront community that appears to have been on the skids since the 1960's - but I sort of like it and enjoy going there.  A few years ago Showtime or HBO had a short-lived series called John from Cincinnati which was supposedly set in IB.  It is the type of place where people seem as apt to live in motel rooms and cars as they do in regular housing, but there are many nice small homes, and a couple of big schools - and lots and lots of beachfront on the Pacific.  I heard today that the community will soon be getting a luxury hotel and a new Wal-Mart - which sounds like it is pulling the the wagon in two distinct directions.

After breakfast I drove to Harbor Island where I met Aunt Mary.  She insisted on driving, so I was a willing tourist the rest of the day.   We drove up onto Point Loma which juts out into the Pacific.  There we visited the immense military cemetery and my Uncle Wayne's grave.   From his gravesite you can see all of San Diego and Coronado.  Then we headed north through the beach communities of Ocean Beach (where Aunt Mary and Uncle Wayne lived the first time that I was in San Diego in 1955), Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla (where the Romney's are tearing down a perfectly good home and building a better one), and finally Del Mar where we had lunch.  It was a wonderfully scenic drive and gave us lots of quality time for visiting.

One thing that I learned about my still very pretty Aunt Mary today is that she used to be a fashion model.  She showed me several hotels and stores today were she modeled back in the day.  She is also a very talented painter, and she told me today that she did one mural on a fence in La Jolla that was twenty-five feet long.  The woman who commissioned it wanted to be able to see the ocean from her house, so Aunt Mary was hired to paint a beach scene!

This evening I am going to get out and explore the Naval Amphibious Base where I am staying.  I noticed that the Commander for Surface Activities in the Pacific has his offices right behind the building that I am staying in.    Later I may also go back down to Imperial Beach and walk along the ocean.

We don't have much ocean front in Phoenix!    Not yet, anyway.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Coronado by Twilight

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

The drive from Luke Air Force Base to Coronado Island at San Diego is fairly easy (four lanes almost the entire way), and mostly scenic.  I managed it if five-and-a-half hours without rushing.  I headed west out of Phoenix on Interstate 10, cut south on 85 at Buckeye, Arizona, and picked up Interstate 8 at Gila Bend, Arizona, which brought me across to desert to Yuma, into California, through the beautiful mountains, and down into San Diego.

Gila Bend is a wide spot in the road where Prince Harry spent most of last year learning to fly Apache helicopters.  To the town's credit, they have not put up any signs about being home to a Prince.

This evening I met my Aunt Mary and cousins Linda and Janet - and their husbands David and Michael - at a Mexican restaurant in Coronado.  After a nice meal and quite a bit of conversation, we all  walked along the beach behind the del Cornado Hotel.  There were two wedding parties on the beach taking photos as the sun was setting.    Tomorrow Aunt Mary and I are driving to La Jolla, the coastal city for millionaires where the Romney's are rebuilding a perfectly home and adding a car elevator.

All is well in southern California - and I am headed to bed with a toothache!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Drive to San Diego

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

Tonight my life is being ruled by two external variables:  anticipation of a road trip to San Diego in the morning, and the agonizing pain of a tooth ache.  Obviously the trip to San Diego is a very good thing - and the tooth ache is not.

I am headed west to see my sweet Aunt Mary.  She was  my father's sister-in-law for many years - married to his older brother, Wayne - and she is one of only three relatives that I have remaining from that generation.  Aunt Mary is in her mid-eighties and sharp as a tack.  We had nice telephone conversations while I was on Okinawa and also exchanged cards and letters.  She worried about me being so far from home and my children, and I worried about her.  It will be wonderful seeing her again.

I am staying on Coronado Island at the Navy Lodge.  Coronado is home to the famous del Coronado Hotel where Some Like it Hot was filmed over fifty years ago.  It is one of the most beautiful hotels in America.  My friend Andrea and I stayed there a couple of years ago in a room that was on a special for just $300 a night!  Ouch!  My daughter, Molly, was married on the beach behind the del Coronado shortly before I moved overseas.  Her wedding, in fact, was the last time that I was in San Diego and the last time that I saw Aunt Mary.

Now, about the tooth:  Two weeks ago my dentist, a twenty-something whom I really like,  began a root canal on one of my back teeth.  He made some headway but ran into calcification which resulted in him packing the tooth with medication and having me wait a week to finish the process.  This week I went back and he made quite a bit of progress, but one root was still too calcified to complete the root canal, so he put more medicine in the tooth and scheduled me in for next week.    He did work on the tooth for about an hour-and-a-half while I was in the chair yesterday, though, and all of that prodding and drilling has my poor tooth hurting like hell!

And that's what life is all about - taking the good with the bad.

More tomorrow from beautiful San Diego!