Life in the Trenches: Rocket Man
“And I think it's gonna be a long long time
till touchdown brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no...I'm a Rocket Man
Rocket Man burning out his fuse up here alone…”
Elton John “Rocket Man”
Last week I allowed myself to be blindsided because I could not and still can't remove the image of a darling little girl out of my mind. A murdered little girl. Last week's column was my emotional release for whatever good it will do me.
To ensure my comeback to the actuality of the America we live in—and to ease up on my emotional involvement with a dead child—I am going to strike out in what to me is another blow to the integrity and decency of the United States of America and every living person on the face of the earth.
Last Friday Congress passed the largest most costly military spending legislation in the history of our country: $649 B defense spending bill. It was a bipartisan vote.
At the same time funding was cut for NASA. I was alive when President John F. Kennedy vowed to put a man on the moon. In fact, I can remember what this beloved man said because it was repeated over and over again by my grandparents in our little house above the Merced River in a little town called Bagby, now underwater. We heard our President - our President - announce on a black and white TV with static that “we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.....
My Nonnie, who was hell on wheels, clapped her hands as my Grandpa allowed Lady Bird (German Short-hair hunting dog) to jump on the couch as we were enraptured by this young Irish President. He was one of us, and he meant business.
Later, John Glenn - destined to be a United States Senator from Ohio - launched into space on Friendship 7 and becomes the first American to orbit the Earth. I was allowed to drink a shot glass of whiskey on that day.
What the hell happened? Why is it, as much as I try, I can't muster up the respect and love I had for President John F. Kennedy for President Barack Obama…a man I campaigned and voted for?
On Friday, July 8th, I had tears in my eyes when I watched the Space Shuttle Atlantis lift off, knowing that space travel in no longer a high priority by this President and this Congress in July 2011. When Atlantis (projected date) July 20, 2011 after delivering a year's supplies to the international space station the mission is over. It is a bitter pill to swallow to learn that the United States will pay Russia to ferry its astronauts to the international space center at about $55.8 million per trip. I am disgusted that the vision of my Nonnie and Grandpa's President cut down too soon has been replaced with a skanky deal that means that American space travel will have to bank on Russia. Didn't the Cold War end and we (the USA) won?
I am no genius, but I can tell you this – China and Russia are not scrapping their space programs. And would it be an honest assumption to expect that their intentions will not be all peaceful?
These are my thoughts: I have no crystal ball, but if we, the human race, do not blow up this world, and if things continue as they are (I will be long dead and you my readers will, too)…there will come a point in time when we will have to abandon this planet? I believe this. That is, if we have the means to do so. The resources achieved for the many years of accelerating American space travel has been tossed aside; the future of our children yet to be born has been compromised. I listen and I read, and right now am I the only one who knows that a death knell has been sounded?
Please note I wrote “know”....I know this...I feel this in my gut. I take no pleasure in this personal knowledge.
When I heard the news that the Kennedy Center will be transformed into an exhibit like Madame Tussaud’s, I tossed back a shot of whiskey. Only this time I was grateful that my Nonnie and Grandpa weren't with me.
Life in the Trenches: “Rocket Man” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , July 11, 2011
Life in the Trenches: A Long Spoon Needed
“There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far to many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
to bring some lovin' here today”
Marvin Gaye “What's Going On”
As much as I hate myself for it, I sit in front of my television with my hot coffee with cream, and watch as Casey Anthony will walk off into the sunset.
If any of you know me, I'm a straight shooter. This would not be the same scenario if Casey was black, ugly, and most likely spoke with an accent or did not understand English.
This is the American Justice System, starring modern day super lawyers clothed and coiffed in the best money can buy (and buy it does)…these are the guys on top of the legal food chain; the silver tongue devils that work a courtroom and a jury, like a pimp plays a stable of hos.
This was no victory. It was an honest glaring visage of the many tiers of justice. This Casey Anthony fiasco made it to the highest tier. Surprise surprise—it was all about a media wet dream. And unlike any I know of, it never ends. Nobody wakes up; there is no evidence of stains on the bed.
But there is a stain of the soul, and this is something I have not been able to shake. A child, a beautiful charismatic little girl, is dead. The prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, did his best to get the point home that this child's coffin was a laundry bag discarded in a swamp with vermin and garbage.
It was a sleazy trial from the git-go – focusing on a family with some kind of pathology traits in their collective DNA. Who knows what the future of a smiling Caylee would have been? Whatever happened to her from the time she was last seen to the discovery of that grotesque bag in the woods it is highly unlikely to be known. Had Caylee lived, whatever fate ahead for her, could not have been any worse than what it was.
Sadly, the trial was never about Caylee. Beyond a reasonable doubt – circumstantial evidence – media bias - all justifiable words, words to be respected. To me, meaningless.
The defense headed by a stylin’ and suave – the most lawyerin’ of the lawyers - Mr. Jose Baez jubilantly toasted his crew with champagne. As Nancy Grace said “somewhere out there, the devil is dancing tonight”. Somewhere out there, a little soul – a pure soul – celebrated no justice. In my gut, I think the only honest to God real tears shed for Caylee came from strangers like myself across the globe, with one emotion: outrage. What happened in the court room in Orlando, Florida Tuesday was not justice.
As Casey Anthony walks out the door of that courtroom as she most likely will – Baez 's creation of a new media star with a book contract, a movie deal, every publication jousting for her story on the bones of her daughter, she will become a rich woman. I think among people of some conscience, Casey Anthony will be a pariah...but that is not the people she is drawn to. As with all psychopaths, she will never suffer or be encumbered with any remorse or guilt.
As all the accolades flow to and over Baez and his team, I might admonish them if they chose to listen, which decidedly they would not do: If you sup with the devil, you need a long spoon.
Life in the Trenches: “A Long Spoon Needed” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , July 7, 2011
Life in the Trenches: A Love Letter to Amador County
I am back to the old grind of getting my column to that high-energy projectile Ms. Carol Harper, and am going to do precisely as that old song of my youth said: “Let's think about living, let's think about life…”
This is my love letter to Amador County and most specifically, Main Street Jackson.
The “cherry on the sundae” – Jazzin' it up in Jackson – or as I call it, bringin’ the action to Jackson. I know I will be called out on this, but damn it, my friend, Gale Fairbrother, was the [right now exhausted] quarterback of this event. But in truth so many great people came together and did the unimaginable—they brought life back to what was once a dying street. The three bands – Off the Record, Over the Edge, and The Rupert Duncan Band played, their music drifting down Main Street. Every merchant and business gave their all and the upshot was astonishing. Amador County was back; I saw families, teens, young and old and all in-betweens with big smiles. The dogs were even movin’ and groovin’.
Most of the celebrants held wine glasses, but that was not the only liquid refreshment offered; there was a first-rate Beer Garden I noticed that was sure working for the non-wine drinkers. I had the fun part of being with three darling girls that not only worked so hard for the Amador Arts Booth, but made sure that cold bottled water was available to the many who passed by us on Main Street. The proud fathers of these young ladies promising entrepreneurs to be were Jack Mitchell (Bailey) and Matthew Hedger (Chloe and Madeleine). I think the enthusiasm of the daughters had to be passed down from their proud and loving dads.
There was this fun lady carrying a sign fully supporting of Stan Lukowicz– the genius behind the renovation of the National, and just all round good guy. The great merchants opening their businesses were so a part of a spirit that was catching on. The happiness was contagious. The local participating restaurants gave so much of themselves as well as did the many fine wineries – 20 Amador wineries, all of distinguishable quality. And the purpose of this magical day was to fund the arts education program of Amador. I could not think of a more laudable reason.
I observed and most definitely took notice of the really fine talented local artists living right under all our noses in this county. It was fantabulous! I ran into so many dishy chicks of all ages—and again I am biased—but who can beat the smile of our own Mayor Connie Gonsalves? If anyone could roll with the Royals, my money is on Connie. I have been a fan of all our local women especially the group that have spent long periods of time working to keep Jackson on the map. The grand opening of Davenport Properties and the brilliance and tenacity of Kellee Davenport makes me proud.
My goodness, when I see the faces of Rich Escamilla and so many others that I know, personally or from a distance, and so admire I cannot but count my lucky stars I can walk in their shadows.
But there was one face missing from the crowd. A face of a guy that I had come to care for and respect: Mr. Bill Hepworth AKA “da Mayor”, as I called him. It is hard for this county to be the same without his all encompassing smile, and to me, the “Bill Hug”. God bless this good man. I will never enjoy any event without thinking of him and what he brought to not just Sutter Creek but to all of us in Amador County.
I would be so remiss if I did not wish my friend, Jesse Espindola of Cafe Coco, good luck and God speed. Jesse, you and your family became my family. There are no words to describe what you mean to me.
Mary Lou Molina
Life in the Trenches: “Buying Civilization” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , May 31, 2011
Life in the Trenches: It Was Never Mayberry
“A-yo! This song is dedicated to all the happy people – all the happy people who have real nice lives and who have no idea what’s it like to be broke as f***”…..Eminem “Rock Bottom”
I am poor. I am not “poor” poor, but I’m not rolling in it. I am not poor in spirit, and I am not poor in love even though these days I share a bed with my three aging hoodlum puppies. I rock in those areas, but I have little spending power. I am no different than many, many others who are living in the financial “now” of 2011. I have found that the credit cards have to be kicked to the curb…and I did that. But no credit can be just as damaging as bad credit, so here I go again.
I play Lotto twice a week - Super Lotto and Mega Millions - I use my free points at the Jackson Casino where I am treated like a queen, even though I took issue with the Football Picks when I got 10 out of 12 and got less free play than the ones who picked 9 out of 12. I called out Rich Hoffman about the “giving season”. He ignored me.
I like to be around young people. I have many young friends – some of whom have children and are dealing with a ruptured school system. What happened at Amador High School was no fluke. When I talk to my friends about the possibility of higher education for their children, it appears that it is not that easily assessable. The families I know are falling deeper in debt to keep the kids in school clothes and some semblance of a normal life. That fact is that almost everyone I know is one step away from ruin if a major financial calamity strikes.
Another thing I do not hear anymore from almost all of my young friends is that “I love my job”. I hear my “job sucks”, and some other comments that I could write here, but I would test the patience of my open-minded, and in my case big-hearted editor, Carol Harper, they’re mostly overflowing with expletives. I have a few young Turks who are living their dream as well as owning it, but they are the exception, and they have in one case the 100% support of a vital and well connected family.
When I hear “money can’t buy you happiness” or “money is not everything”, I think of a young woman barely a child herself who was at the homeless shelter because she was used as a punching bag. Her so-called husband (significant other) was not rich, but he had a steady job and provided the necessities. He also was able to pay for various drugs of choice that he used on a regular basis then beating the living crap out of her for perceived weaknesses. Last I heard she was trying to find some kind of assistance in the greater Sacramento area; I believe Loaves and Fishes. I would like to think she is an anomaly. She is not.
As I have become an older person - or “broad” which fits me better - I am becoming a better mother. I listen and I love, and I care. I have three older guys, all in their seventies (one is the father of my children; another, my beloved brother in law, and another is my devoted friend from so many years ago in the City) that knew and, I guess, loved me in the hot years of my life. They remember me as dancing on a bar wearing mini-skirts with long straight red hair down to my ass. I am no longer that girl. That girl was born in a time in America when the sky was the limit. That girl made BIG money and was part of a time in America when men could earn BIG money without the credentials or certificates needed today to just get in the door. That girl was around men who could afford to wine and dine and plan and hope and prosper. I do not see that now in 2011 America.
My grandson is a hip-hop star. I admit I listen to hip hop, and I have found that Eminem speaks to young America today. I am starting to love Eminem. Listen up and if you can, try to understand the words in “Rock Bottom”:
That’s Rock Bottom
When this life makes you mad enough to kill
That’s Rock Bottom
When you want something bad enough to steal
That’s Rock Bottom
When you feel you have had it up to here
‘Cause you’re mad enough to scream but you’re sad enough to tear
I have not heard a better explanation from anyone about what so many of the young kids are feeling. Yes, some of the young kids living in Amador County still believe there are Beaver Cleavers that are living that truth. I am offended by the honeyed complacent comments that Amador is not like those “other” areas - you know, the ones with the “dark” and “bad family” or “no core values” people. Well, A-YO….you muthers…they are here…and they ain’t always so “dark”…I would love to turn on the TV and have a local person address thism but the con continues…and the happy smug faces that read the hot topic believe the crap that is hitting the fan.
Yet, I know and I like to think that some of the great heroes and heroines of Amador will continue to do the many kindnesses and decencies that sets them apart from the rest. Some are stars and the names are known, but many are just regular people who try and try and try, and go unnoticed. I cringe when I read that another position is being cut – whether in the school system or the police or sheriff department. I worry that the great tools that educate all of us – the libraries and the museums might be closed. Yet, time and time again the same people rally and fight to keep the doors open. I do not want to be a complete 100% doom gloom and gloomier. Yet, the children - our children - have borne hit after hit, and right now there is nothing much left to be stripped from them.
I do not want to take cheap shots at the Board of Supervisors, or the various police/sheriff departments, or the dedicated educators of Amador. They are in the unenviable position of dealing with disaster everyday, and it is not their doing that so many of the young are falling hard through the cracks. All the above know the score and still get up every morning and test themselves trying to fix a mess none of them created. My beef is with the “Pollyannas” that bat their eyes and support and give verbal confirmation to the idiocies that there is no major critical problem in our schools that is destroying our children. There are no Mayfields, or Hilldales, or Mayberry USA. Those places only existed on TV during the 50’s.
Amador County, from way back in the day, was never a Mayberry. Why are so many of the Branson or our TV’s cackle and cluck bunch of our citizens not getting it?
Life in the Trenches: “Buying Civilization” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , May 31, 2011
Life in the Trenches: Buying Civilization
“I like to pay taxes…with them, I buy civilization.” -Oliver Wendell Homes
Tuesday, May 17th, I had a little glimmer of hope; I thought reason and basic human decency would win out. The count came in, 51-48. Three Democrats – Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Ben Nelson of Nebrask - voted against the bill. Only two brave Republican women, both of Maine - Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins - voted with the Democrats.
The Big Five oil companies – ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP America, Shell Oil, and Chevron Corporation have got their blood money out of their paid whores in Congress. My sincerest apologies to the men and women working in the sex industry, who really do earn every cent of their money (and if by using the word “whore” I demean any members of that “non-partisan” workforce, that was never my intention).
As everyone knows or should know, the Democratic bill would have stripped tax breaks from the BIG FIVE, thus reducing the deficit by about $20 Billion.
Now the GOP can set their sights on the dismantling of Medicare and the end of Medicaid, cutting student loan programs, as well as slashing cancer and any other disease research. Yeah, let’s wipe those damn entitlements off the table. Sounds like a plan. It does if you have sold your soul for chump change.
So what Boehner - who is just the mouthpiece for the moneyed 1% cry about lowering taxes and keeping BIG OIL and BIG GAS on the taxpayers dime - is really saying is that our aging population will have to suck hind tit. As well as an aging population that, as statistics tell us, live beyond a certain age. A population that often requires around the clock nursing care…which is when Medicaid usually kicks in.
I have watched in disgust as I have seen the Middle Class lifestyle stolen from so many of our fellow Americans who had their lifesavings tied up in the equity of their homes or their jobs in factories now operating South of the Border, or in China or India or some other hell hole where slave labor is the norm.
Between 2001 and 2008, about 40,000 United States manufacturing plants shut their doors. Six million factory jobs have disappeared over the past decade…and one in three was a manufacturing job.
What I see is that these behemoth entities, now with the help of the Supreme Court behind them, can hang on to their profits – investing in their own company’s stock propping up share value, making Wall Street giddy with ecstasy. And to hell with all Americans that have to work for a living.
Ethan Harris, Chief Economist at Bank of America, in a moment of candor told the Times: “There’s no question that there is an income shift going on in the economy. Companies are squeezing their labor costs to build profits”.
This is the “Free Market”. It was pushed by George “Pappy” Bush, but put in play by a Democratic President Bill Clinton. It was called NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement and it put a knife into the back of every American worker. And for the “burning of all illegals” crowd, the Department of Homeland Security Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: “During fiscal year 2006 (October 2005 through September 2006) 73,880 foreign professionals were admitted into the United States for temporary employment under NAFTA”. In addition, 17,321 family members accompanied them.
A bill that would have eliminated a tax break that corporations receive when they ship jobs overseas was blocked by Republicans and some Democrats September of 2010. Four Democrats and Sen. Joseph Liebermann (I-Conn.) voted with a united Republican block to defeat the bill. What was this bill about? It would have ended tax deductions for expenses incurred by American companies that use foreign workers. It would end the two year payroll tax holiday on all jobs repatriated overseas.
Then there was the Political Ad Disclosure Bill, blocked twice by Republicans, that would have made it law for all donors to any political campaign to reveal themselves. The end result is that the clandestine flowing of money from one hand to another will continue to remain secret and hidden from the American people.
In Amador – I do not see al Queda swimming up the Mokelumne. I don’t see brown-skinned people stealing or raping any of the older broads I hang out with. But I will tell you what I do see and hear: a large proportion of our county is broke. They are unemployed or underemployed. They have not recovered from the real estate collapse, and I do not see them bouncing back any time soon. I see businesses forced to shut their doors because there is no demand for the merchandise they sell. The rich do not create jobs….job-killing tax hikes do not take money out of the economy. Demand creates jobs. Lots of customers create jobs. People coming in the door and spending money creates jobs. Regular people with money in their pockets spending in their communities and by that reinvesting in the infrastructure of the community.
What is thriving in Amador now? Drug dealing and with that B and E’s, the demand has never been higher, and guess what? We are all paying the price. We have an outstanding Sheriff with his crew and various police forces throughout the county, working on a shoestring.
We have dedicated teachers getting pink slips and beneficial programs being cut to the bone or kicked to the curb.
And sadly, we have a group of people that bitch about entitlements that they perceive go to certain groups of people that they feel do not “belong here”. Just because some of us were born here does not give us the right to be bigoted assholes. We are all responsible and I think it is high time that we stopped kicking the dead horse and begin taking on the elephants in the room everyone pretends are not there.
Life in the Trenches: “Buying Civilization” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , May 23, 2011
Life in the Trenches: Teaching: A Lost Tradition
“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition”. Jacques Martin Barzun, awarded the 2010 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama (on April 16, 2011 he received the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement in absenti).
Teachers are important to me. All people that dedicate their lives to helping others have better, happier lives are important to me.
I never wanted to be a teacher. First, the pay is horrible and to have to endure a classroom of children from all backgrounds – probably some that do not want to be there – and control and hopefully teach them something is a task that I would not have touched with a ten-foot pole. All the kids that called me “Mom”, from one time or another, know I do not have the temperament or the patience to deal with unruly or just plain awful kids.
That is why there are these remarkable people that do have the gift of patience and make the time. I can’t honestly believe that there are professionals that make the effort and find the time it takes to produce lesson plans, grade papers, record each student’s academic achievement or failure, try to provide guidance to assist the high achievers and help the ones falling through the cracks, while at the same time have to endure moronic bureaucrats telling them how to do their jobs with little backing and certainly less safety. I see more and more that the burden of the success or failure of the educational system is set solely on the backs of the teachers. Not mentioned is that continued cuts and expectation of making a system work when these people are paid chump change and often work in buildings falling down from lack of funds, as well as shrinking school supplies and dwindling programs. This is astonishing, and it is also horrible.
I believe the majority of our teachers are of the highest quality, and I know there are the glaring exceptions that get media attention. But let’s get real: what kind of a person knowingly (and often with student loans that have to be paid back to finish college) goes into a profession that offers miserable salaries, as well as, in some cases, becoming more and more widespread unsafe working conditions? I have often said a lot more than I used to, that our teachers should receive “combat pay”. It is not a joke anymore.
Dr. Bill Cosby recently stated that the
Some people will say with some certainty - and under other circumstances I would agree - there has to be “parental involvement”. In an ideal world, this would fly. But the world we inhabit is far from ideal. The reality is many single family homes where usually the mother is the sole breadwinner and, more likely than not, is working two jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes older relatives or relatives down on their luck have had to move in with their own set of problems and deficiencies. Over and over again, this has become the norm. In 2011 of today’s economy the American family is stretched to the limit, and so many work hard, really hard – parents are stressed and they are tired. So the burden of educating their children is put in the hands of teachers. This is not necessarily a bad thing. What is bad - and to me, outrageous- is when the educators of our children are nickeled and dimed and treated with such disrespect and contempt, it makes my blood boil.
The heart and core of any civilization is their teachers, their schools and universities, their libraries. The end product with the participation of teachers, school and universities and libraries are literate-thinking people who, if they choose to, can either be spectators or doers in life. Literate-thinking people, in all probability, will never have poverty as an option. Literate thinking people almost universally enter the marketplace with the aptitude and the vocabulary to earn a sustainable wage to prosper and thrive in the global economy.
Our teachers are under attack. Their unions are being undermined. They are being cheapened by the mind-set that they have to change, accept and live with the indignities being thrown at them or face the fate of the dinosaurs and dodo birds.
What is happening - and it scares the hell out of me - is when States (especially liberal states like Massachusetts) in their State Assembly vote to curb collective bargaining rights for teachers (as well as firefighters and other public sector employees). Collective bargaining rights are essential for the stability of our teachers and all other workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report that union workers pocket on average $200.00 more per week than non-union workers, as well as better working conditions that include healthcare, retirement and a safe environment.
I see what has happened in Texas where state certification standards of teachers have been lowered bring in less qualified educators at much lower pay and benefits. Of course, it is the vulnerable that suffer: our children.
What are the implications of all this? It bodes ill for all of us. But my gut tells me that, if we do not stand and fight alongside our teachers, the damage done will be immeasurable, and we will all pay the consequences. Including, as Dr. Cosby reports, more Americans incarcerated with the $30K plus price tag.
Life in the Trenches: “Teaching: A Lost Tradition” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , May 19, 2011
Life in the Trenches: The Week That Was
It was the week that was. Osama was taken out by Obama. Planned Parenthood avoided the axe, a moving memorial and tribute to a Great Lady, and my personal fave, Rutgers pays Snooki $2,000 more than Nobel laureate to speak on campus…”they tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no”…
Osama bin Laden, dead. But the war in Afghanistan will continue to roll. Guess that Koran-burning pastor is having his “A-ha” moment. But let me give credit where credit is due: a small crack team of Americans of extraordinary courage and intelligence brought down Public Enemy Number One. Our President showed great leadership and clarity of purpose – he gave the direct order, and this time, mission was accomplished. I have had beefs with the President, but I will go on the record right now: President Obama may very well earn a Nobel Peace Prize over this and another four years.
With the sorrows of this world the fact that the man who orchestrated 9/11 the mass murder of so many is no longer on the playing field brings me some comfort. Justice was served.
Now it is time for America to “march right out” as Ron Paul publicly said. Paul was speaking of Iraq: “We marched in, we can march right out”. One of the few times I congratulate the wisdom of the man. I go further: have our troops “march right out”. We will always have the special ops, and they are excellent at what they do. A small group of the elite took out the bad guy; they did it with stealth and insider info. Keep these guys on board, bring America’s sons and daughters home, and put them to work saving our country or as some people babble “protecting our freedoms” by building up our infrastructure and policing the borders, the ports, the airports, the train and bus terminals, protecting the nuclear power plants and waterways. Hell, have them switch hit for the air traffic controllers so they can get some decent sleep.
We can be a great nation again. I know we can. But the state of mind of the United States being the big swinging dicks of the world has to end now. We all know the ultimate fate of the guy that shoots off his mouth - eventually he is sucker punched - real tough guys (and I have known a few) never talk trash. America and our young men and women in the military are better than this. I don’t dig this excessive flaunting of superiority that W put out to the world and set in motion the biggest fool hardy military action since the Crusades.
I back and respect the downplayed real deal intelligence done covertly under the radar that delivered the goods. And if left in the hands of the small elite military teams, Special Ops - right now, on the money - the Seals own this. They own this. 79 commandos with one hell of a dog (that little has been revealed) were able to have the capability to perform a mission that for almost ten long years seemed to be impossible. If you remember Dubya was quoted about bin Laden: “I don’t know where he is. I just don’t spend that much time on it”.
Well, this Commander in Chief did know and did spend time on it - gave an order and the United States Navy Seals and this magnificent dog brought it home. And they all got out alive. I thanked God, and I am not ashamed to say, I prayed for these glorious guys and the dog. For once in a long time, I swaggered a bit. I did not celebrate; too many good people have paid too high a price because of wrong decisions and incompetence. But…not on May 2, 2011.
To end, I can’t think of a better time to mention the day of respect, Saturday, May 7, 2011, paid to Caroline “Kay” June Morris Pulskamp (June 7, 1921 – April 16, 2011). I have been around a long time and known many people, loved a few, and liked many more. But I have met only two people in my entire life that lived the Golden Rule. John Joseph Pulskamp and Kay. It was a privilege for me to be part of the celebration of her life and sit with all her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren in a home that has never known anything other than love. Kay at age 16 said this: “I don’t know what my life will be like, but I know I will be happy”.
Kay, you made all of us happy being in your company.
Life in the Trenches: “The Week That Was” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , May 2, 2011
Life in the Trenches: Feeding the Media Machine
“War has never been declared by the people”….Eugene Debs
Nothing like feeding the media machine with a Royal Wedding and birth certificate as the American Dream fades or even decays.
I have been looking and hoping that maybe just maybe the Supreme Court will produce a William Brennan or Thurgood Marshall. What I get is Scalias, Roberts, Thomas, Alitos, Kennedys. God help us.
With the five shills on the Supreme Court giving corporations legal personhood (Citizens United v Federal Election Commission), as well as recently denying class action redress overturning two California Federal Courts that allowed consumers to join together to receive justice against the behemoths like AT&T Mobility or Wal-Mart…I have a feeling that Edith Wharton’s “Gilded Age” has returned.
Still to be heard in what I now call the “Roberts Court” is the largest class action in United States history: Dukes v. Wal-Mart. It is about sexual job discrimination that Wal-Mart supposedly violated by denying women employees the opportunity for promotion. At this point, even if we had another President, I can’t imagine how America can stop this supremacy that the highest court in the land has given the sweetest of sweetheart deals to.
BP and the Gulf Oil Spill are forgotten. Not by me. But who reports on it? I know that new permits, new drilling rights, new drilling areas are now allowed further out and drilling will go deeper. You know I have a friend who I am proud to say is a leader in this community. She says she is, and she means it “bi-partisan”. I could never say that. There is a price to pay. Bi-partisan, in my vocabulary, means no balls.
People are running out of money. I believe most of America lives paycheck to paycheck or Social Security check to Social Security check.
I spend a lot of time wondering who exactly gives the government their marching orders? Is it the Fed, Wall Street, or the multi-nationals corporations that the five shills in the Supreme Court gave the keys to the kingdom to? Because of what the five shills on the Supreme Court carved into law, it is no longer “We the People…”, it is now the new “corporatocracy” of “We the Corporations.”
I am just a simple woman who is getting old (and if you know me, not gracefully)—what is this about the current sentiments of hate, mistrust and arming ourselves that is permeating just about every conversation I hear?
Lots of people want me to “chill” and join in the party of “one big happy family”. There are not enough mushrooms out there for me to imbibe. Hard to overlook the suffering of the poor, the families thrown in the streets from their homes, the millions of Americans whose retirement savings were wiped out because of fraud and treachery. Tornadoes with the strength of 200 mile winds hitting the South and Mid West. Not normal – new weather systems caused by global warming, yet the skeptics keep reminding us there is “no global warming”. The push that is running the show is all about self gain. It is not about justice or public safety or public wellbeing; it sure in hell is not about lowering any deficit.
I have been studying the transcripts of the Nuremberg Trials. I was surprised that Adolph Eichman is referred to as a “thoughtless bureaucrat” - not mass murderer, not one of the evil geniuses of the Nazi regime - a “thoughtless bureaucrat”.
When I look at what has been done to my country - our country by “thoughtless bureaucrats” - I flinch. I don’t shy away, I flinch.
I have berated my President, yet I have been appalled at the onslaught against him with the birth certificate nonsense. I have no patience with anyone who stirs up hate and discontent over dumb and irrational issues. I think that if our President and his family were Caucasian, much of this baloney would have NOT been allowed to ensue. The public would not have allowed it.
I am still not a fan – but with the crop of presidential contenders on the horizon as of now, I might very well vote again for him. Hard to say. I no longer have blind faith in my President or my country. I used to think beneficence was a trait of goodness and godliness. Now I think it is a trait that only dumbbells share.
I am no fan of the Republican Party, I am no fan of the Tea Party (with the exception of the Republican and tea party members I know personally that are friends). I am no fan of President Obama who has increased war and the war budget, allowed the middle class and poor of America to suffer, and does not seem to have any regard for the social programs that keep most Americans fed, clothed, sheltered and protected. By allowing this deficit deal to cut funding for the infrastructure like dam improvements or roads or bridges, does this President - or has any other politician - addressed what would happen and what I believe will again happen if these roads, and bridges and dams and levees are not fixed? (Example: The 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the people that died because of that bridge collapsing). Has any of these leaders thought that maybe it might be fiscally responsible to deal with the problems today which are costly but manageable, rather than wait until another disaster hits and the costs are not as manageable?
Just finished a book for my book club, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor. Hell, all I want is a good President, and I do not care if he is green or pink or blue or drinks whiskey, tea or coffee or sarsaparilla. A good President. Am I pissing in the wind?
Life in the Trenches: “Feeding the Media Machine” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , May 2, 2011
Life in the Trenches: Nobody’s Girl
“This girl has no family. Nobody knows that she worked here. It’ll be as if she never existed.”
Tom Hayden, consigliore of the Corleone Family, Godfather Part II
I know I have addressed this subject in past articles, but I have been saddened by the fact that most Americans are now scraping by.
I was watching TV last night - and again, this is nothing new - the bodies of more murdered prostitutes are being dug up. The murder and random discarding of bodies, I would imagine, has been going on from time immemorial.
I have never been shocked or wanted to put up any barriers between consensual sex among consenting adults. I have found that legalized prostitution, as with the legalizing of drugs, would end so much of the crime that has, in my opinion, reached the point of being completely uncontrollable. Law enforcement should not be blamed. How many good men and women have died (some horribly) fighting the drug cartels? Cops are up against a thriving drug trade and a population (if numbers can be believed) that seems to demand clandestine sex and quick highs….often not necessarily in that order.
Would controlled prostitution and drug use end the violence against children and some women? Probably not. But I believe if prostitution was practiced like it is in a few rural areas in Nevada, in a monitored environment, there would be a significant end of these mass graves, whether in Eastern Long Island, New York or in Memphis, Tennessee, Atlantic City, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Green River, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It was no secret that our own Jackson knew how to run the houses of “ill-repute”…and many powerful men high up on the food chain vied for the free round-trip excursions here. It was not until a hungry, on-the-make young California Attorney General (later to be Governor of the State of California) Pat Brown, with the help of a Jackson Police Chief Milardovich, shut our little thriving town down. The aftermath: Milardovich was fired by the Jackson City Council and Amador went Republican.
My grandfather, Bill “Red” Moulton, ran booze though Jackson during Prohibition. So I learned from my Grandpa what a well-run town Jackson was during that time. I was told that any woman could walk the streets in confidence that she would not be accosted or harmed. It was that kind of town.
Now is another time with rules that are not protecting women. There is this sexual sadism prevalent in all areas of our country. Part of the reason is that the horrible economic inequality that exists is getting worse. Who are the victims? For the most part if not always, women on the skids; often they are young kids themselves. Often drug addicted, using the only thing left they have to sell: their bodies. I am going to say what I believe: these women are commodities in the buy and sell commerce of capitalism. Capitalism at its worst.
These women on the street are vulnerable to all types of predators. I do not look at this as a morality issue. I look at this as a trade issue, where buyer and seller do commerce—only the commodity for sale is the women’s body.
As we have seen in past years, often these serial killers, if apprehended (and in law enforcement reports, most are not) become American celebrities. The names of the victims are forgotten. Exceptions would be the actress Sharon Tate, and Abigail Folger, the coffee heiress murdered by the Manson Family. Their murders, as gruesome as they were, are not in the area of topic I am writing about. The murders of John Wayne Gacy are not in this area, either, as he chose young men.
I am talking about young women – female prostitutes – whose numbers seem to increase as the stability of family and community shrink, and the safety net wears away.
There are men in the shadows that harbor great hate toward women. They are camouflaged, often drifting quietly though society. It is not until the opportunity presents itself with a susceptible victim in an exposed place that they are able to act on their grisly behavior. For the most part, the victims are randomly chosen by the accessibility of their profession. As Tom Hayden says in Godfather Part II to Senator Geary in the blackmail scheme of the Corleone Family by the brutal murder of a prostitute, “This girl has no family”.
As a footnote…I know I will be called on this, that there are female serial killers…Doretea Fuente, the hospitality lady who ran a boardinghouse in Sacramento that preyed on old fellas with Social Security and VA checks. And, of course, Aileen Wuornos, of which a film was made. They are not the people of which I write. I am not ignoring their crimes, but in the big picture, so many mass grave are currently being dug up with the remains of the lost souls that, for the most part, had no chance. The lost souls that nobody will miss. Sometimes buried in Potter’s Fields.
I do not see this horrible trend turning around anytime soon. As this economic collapse plays out, I see the disparity of wealth widening and the people (especially women and children) at the bottom of this economic cycle more at risk.
The cost of food – the cost of a healthy lifestyle is escalating. I also see more and more poor young kids left out of any secure haven forced to stand on street corners often borrowing courage from a hit of something getting into a dark car with some stranger…..this is no longer random, and I wish more of us realized there are more victims of the financial collapse in our country that we can conceive of.
Life in the Trenches: “Nobody’s Girl” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.NewsAmador.com , April 25, 2011
Life in the Trenches: Just You, Just Me
My Sunday morning nursing a bit of a buzzie from the most fun Murder Mystery Dinner, done superbly at Mel & Faye’s…I am loving some Thelonious Monk…Just You, Just Me
At that dinner, with all the fun and frivolity, conversation at my table was about buying gold. Strange…but very interesting.
I think we all know the United States dollar is in big trouble. We have become a country that no longer can provide sustainable employment for our own people. Coming from the pro-labor working family I did – I learned at a very young age that only WORK, real WORK equals wealth. You could even say that the family that reared me (now all dead) bought and believed with all their hearts in the American Dream. And what a Dream it was.
So now, we – all of us are living the fact – that a country that cannot provide jobs cannot assure the value of our currency. This is serious stuff. Actually, life and death stuff.
Real estate was once the best investment for the working American. As opposed to playing the stock market - an area where most of us knew nothing - there was the choice to provide for our old age and the safekeeping of an inheritance for our children in the purchase of the family home. It was the “gold standard” of working Americans. Now what was once valuable has become worthless overnight, and many of us (including me) are upside down in their mortgages.
I wonder if this printing of money will now be considered not only foolhardy, but criminal?
I think that all of us should wonder what the banks are making off of low interest rates on savings. Remember, the American way is “savings”. My grandparents knew of no other way to live up to the date of their deaths than keeping a balance in a savings account – candidly in their case, small by standards of the recent past – this was not just their little nest egg it was a buffer against poverty they left for their children.
With today’s rates there is little if no incentive to put hard-earned money in banks that will rake in a windfall but will kick out a Draconian return to the Americans who have sacrificed to put aside a little bit of money each month.
There was a recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute that noticed that one in three retirees has dipped into their savings to pay for basic expenses in 2010. BASIC EXPENSES. Not cruises – not junkets around the world – BASIC EXPENSES.
And then there is the hard cruel fact that most retirees and seniors have no savings at all. They rely and depend and live exclusively on their Social Security check. This has been certified by AARP.
So this brings me to the Ryan Budget, which will devastate seniors, working class families, students, and most of the country that do not belong to the lucky sperm club. The only good news is that the very wealthy, the oil companies, the Wall Street Casino will hit the jackpot of all jackpots…they will get so many economic goodies, it will be hard to keep track of them.
U.S.Congressman Paul Ryan voted for the Bush Tax Cuts. Cost: $1.7 trillion. Ryan has had no problem padding the deficit when it goes to fund these three wars, and BIG MONEY which includes the Wall Street scoundrels. Check out his record, and you will know his heart.
Obama has also paid tribute to these scoundrels by cutting trillions in social spending to fund these wars and pad the wallets of the privileged and powerful.
[This past] Wednesday, President Obama will have addressed the nation, and pitch to all of us that there will be significant cuts to the seniors and the poor. I expect cuts to both Medicare and Medicaid – in California, Medi-Cal.
I see this as an assault on all Americans that do not belong to the lucky sperm club. Obama caved to the Republicans by the extensions of the biggest tax cuts to the wealthiest last year. The shills in the Supreme Court last year gave the sweetheart deal of all sweetheart deals to behemoth corporations by ruling in 2010 Citizens United Decision that corporations are actually "persons", and are fully entitled to freedom of speech and the RIGHT to make UNLIMITED campaign contributions. That is right, UNLIMITED and clandestine contributions. They do not have to disclose the amount given to put any of their lackeys in get them elected. How do you like them apples?
When I kick it with some of my wild and crazy friends, one said to me: “I have my retirement already worked out. I’ll drop dead as a Wal Mart greeter or duct-taped to a moving dolly being pushed by one of the young kid employees at Sam’s Club to get me from one side of the warehouse to the other, 'cause at seventy, I can’t move fast enough”. This cracks me up, but seriously, there is some truth in this. How many of us in our sixties who have little or no savings (and Publishers Clearing House has not dropped off any balloons) will be looking at having to work to keep a roof over our heads and something in our bellies? More than we would like to admit. Every time I drive by Wal Mart, I cross myself.
So Wednesday, I [will have forced] myself to watch this President I campaigned for and voted for, address the nation. And if this President that I went to the well for proposes to cut any health care for the sick, the old and the poor, I will have to – be compelled to consider the hard fact that it would be unconscionable for me to support his wimpy ass.
Life in the Trenches: “Just You, Just Me” by Mary Molina, www.MaryMolina.com. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News,www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, April 7, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
Somewhere Beyond the Sea
“Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me” - Bobby Darin
I have had some good stuff happen to me. I have been so incredibly happy when I slip away to memories of the blue, incandescent, sparkling blue Pacific—my times as a young teenager living on Oahu. Learning to surf, and the many, many young GIs and officers from Hickam and Pearl Harbor—all so beautiful and young, some doomed to die in Vietnam—vying to teach me. I know I loved them all. Those days, I could stuff a wild bikini. Among other things…
I never thought I could be happier than paddling out and watching wave after wave go by, waiting to go for it—trying so damn hard not to piss off the all the real surfers at Kalama Beach and Waikiki.
I have kept my sanity in times of deep despair, picturing that bygone summer of my young girlhood. There was always music, laughter, sweet young men and the blue Pacific. Always the blue, blue Pacific, alive with life—like the dolphins that would nudge my surf board and scare me half to death (I was always on the look-out for sharks. Never saw one).
Now, things are different. I can’t be swept away in memory anymore. The disaster in Japan ended that with the radiological mess leaking poison into my Pacific. This was not caused by any terrorist, or an Islamic extremist. It was caused by “an act of God”…is that what they call earthquakes and tsunamis?
Why was there never a clarification about the big elephant in the room, that ALL nuclear power plants produce nuclear wastes? Did any of the brightest guys in that room know how this poison could be stored safely, like say for conservatively 10,000 years? As I write, this I am afraid to even forecast into the future, how much poison my Pacific will take in.
Today, Tuesday, April 5th, Tokyo released thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
The estimate as I write this is 11,500 tons of radioactive water released Tuesday with no comments about future releases.
When pressed, the Japanese authorities have no idea where the radioactive water escaping from the reactor is coming from. But they wanted all of its citizens as well as the world to know that “this poses no major health risk”.
So, as Senator Lindsey Graham proposes giving missiles to Libyan rebels, Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republicans and Tea Party Republicans threaten to shutdown the government as Congress will continue to receive all checks, benefits, and services (Grammy may not get hers but rest assured the big shots on the Hill are getting theirs), while Principal Michele Miller in Sacramento’s Rescue Union school district is selling all her shoes to save her school district—and the elite few that so much is forgiven, but a crap load is given…like CEO Bob Parsons, who happily kills elephants and leopards in Zimbabwe so he can show off another trophy on his walls already overloaded with dead animal head…
I have a moment when I put on Bobby Darrin’s “Somewhere beyond the sea”—and see a young girl on a surfboard waiting for the next wave on the beautiful Pacific with some of the sweetest, young faces of handsome young soldiers, cheering and yelling she would do just fine.
I wish those sweet young guys were with me now. It would be nice to hear again I will be “just fine”.
Life in the Trenches:
“Si se puede”
“Si se puede” (English translation: “It can be done.”)
What can I possibly write about a simple Mexican man who worked and sweated in the fields and vineyards of America, as did his parents before him? A man of little education, following the crops crisscrossing the United States serving the owners of the big farms and vineyards…never earning more than $6,000 a year, never owning a home, and when he died leaving his family no financial help?
To write this column, I went to my beloved friend and moral compass, Jim Salinas Sr., or “Jimmy” as I often call him. Jimmy walked with this man and was honored to call him “friend”. How did Jimmy—born and raised in the Mission District, union activist, former San Francisco Police Commissioner, and a man of so many achievements in the Big City—come to know a plain spoken migrant farm worker called Cesar Estrada Chavez? Simple. They were men of the same style—tough, determined, and imagining a better way—a better life for all who toil for a living. Whether in the streets of San Francisco or the fields of Delano, it did not matter; the dream was shared.
It is hard for me to write this. I am no saint, and I have blown money most of my life on the fights, racetracks, crap tables in just about every casino in Nevada, San Juan, and parts of the Caribbean. Throw in designer stylin’ a few pounds ago (well, maybe more), lots of travel, living la vida loca…I do not have the soul of my Jimmy, but I do still have a few brain cells left to understand that life can’t be measured in possessions and in bank account balances.
So how do I describe a man who was able to succeed in practicing the nonviolent ideals of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? How do you bring men in like Jimmy Salinas, a man of the streets who bows to no man to this cause? Cesar Chavez was able to, and more. Much more.
A poor man of little education – no juice, no connections - stood up and raised his eyes, deadlocked to the powerful, presenting non-negotiable demands for respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits and human dignity for the countless numbers of laborers that were barely noticed never heard for decades in the farming communities of America. The men and women and children who worked alongside the gringo sharecroppers in the dirt fields and valleys of the American produce industry.
I learned from Jimmy that the overseers would not allow any of the farm laborers to use any other tool other than a short handled hoe. These people – men women and children – worked close the ground. There was no bottled water, no bathrooms, and always the killing pesticides. As the back-breaking work continued from the dark of the morning, throughout the grueling sun of the day and into the twilight of the evenings, modesty was abandoned and men, women and children relieved themselves in the fields. The comparison is to reined or tethered draft horses.
Because of the stance of Cesar and the brave people that followed him, and stood up and demanded justice and respect in the fields, the Supreme Court in 1975 outlawed the short-handed hoe that had literally broke the backs of thousands of farm laborers, young and old alike.
Jerry Brown (as Governor of California the first time around) signed into law the Agricultural Labor Relations Act giving Cesar and his people who sweat and toil for their bread the right to organize a union and hold elections. Jerry Brown, when he signed that compassionate law, put out the strongest regulation that protects farm workers, nationwide.
It was hard for people like Cesar, Jimmy and myself (at this time) to understand that the faceless people that work, cultivate and harvest the fruits and vegetables that nourish so many of our families have nothing left for themselves or their very own families. After so many, many mean hard years, the social change that began with a humble Mexican man of no importance—who was able, up to the date of his death, lead countless numbers of poor and backward people to accept and believe that there is no reason to be afraid anymore—proved that it is possible to reach out and seize a good life, just as any other man or woman in this country would be given the right to.
On April 20, 1993 more than 30,000 people followed as Cesar Estrada Chavez was laid to rest in a simple pine casket for one more March. One more walk on a dusty road or a hard highway to honor all who toil and sweat for a living, never wanting or asking for anything more but human respect and a decent wage.
So, on the day of his remembrance, March 31, the State of California will pay tribute to the dignity of all working people inspired by a Mexican man of great decency and foresight as well as unflinching abiding love for his fellow companeros.
On that day, my friend Jimmy, as so many others like him, will have a moment of stillness knowing that they walked with Cesar in nonviolence in the ongoing struggle for human justice and kindness. In this world of so many scoundrels and hypocrites I feel great peace in knowing that there were and still remain a few people who continue to suffer and fight for others. Nothing more, only the betterment of others. Very hard to believe, but there are people that do this every single day. One is my friend.
I dedicate this to you Jim Salinas Sr. Thank you for giving me the encouragement to write it and the honor of calling you my friend.
Life in the Trenches: ““Si se puede” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, March 28, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
“I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ frickin’ rock star from Mars”. Charlie Sheen
The past week I have had more of a respite from the calamity that is now life in this world from watching Charlie. And I have to hand it to him, with the Adonis DNA—he refuses to be muzzled, like all the talking heads—telling the good boys and girls in America that everything is okay.
America and the world has been sold a line of crap that the odds of an earthquake and tsunami crashing into a section of a part of the globe containing nuclear power plants are almost impossible. Then came Japan. Bigger and more terrible than Three Mile Island….bigger and WAY more terrible than Chernobyl.
My question to all the talking heads is: How can you look the American people in the face and dismiss the gravity of this? President Obama still sees nuclear energy as the way to go. Yes, even now. I was shocked when Jay Carney, Press Secretary, said that the President will stand by nuclear energy as his “overall energy plan”.
The Obama administration is telling all of us to not be alarmed by the radiation from Japan. No matter what the catastrophic event – the spin and downplaying carries on. It did under Bush – and it does under Obama.
I am not in the business of selling potassium iodide pills, so I leave that to the discretion of the American people. I will not bring into my argument, for precautionary reasons, the purchase of any product. I hope that the position I am taking will not be branded as overkill panic-mode or “fear mongering”.
Nuclear power is not economical. It is poison to the environment and all living things. I have the feeling that many people have no clue of the dangers that a nuclear power plant holds.
President Obama in October of 2009 said “there is no reason why, technologically, we can’t employ nuclear energy in a safe and effective way. Japan does it and France does it, and it doesn’t have greenhouse gas emissions”. And then came Japan 2011.
I remember when people were joined together in complete unity about the closure of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and did everything they could to stop its construction. Our Governor Jerry Brown was there and he was an active participant in the protests.
Then there is Yucca Mountain. That is where nuclear waste is stored in Nevada. It seems that as many environmental groups as well as Native Americans have fought this…with a valid concern that this nuclear waste repository is not safe or secure because of many reasons but the main reason is leakage, the government continues to use this as a warehouse for the Mother of the most poisonous of known poisons.
The environmental groups and the Native Americans are being ignored. They have little political clout. Our government like other governments will go full speed ahead knowing full well there is no safe solution for nuclear waste. It is like out of sight – out of mind…..so store it in some remote place betting that the surrounding locale is not credible and will likely be ignored. But in this case the remote place is damn close to Las Vegas….”what happens in Vegas – stays in Vegas”. Yucca Mountain is about 100 miles northwest of the Las Vegas Strip…..so as Charlie says: “Boom Crush Night Losers WINNING”.
So I leave it to fate, as I have no juice other than one voice and one vote, and we have all seen how that has played out in the past. The smartest guys in the room, from their vast knowledge and education, chose building nukes near or on fault lines. And if there is no solution to America’s energy crisis soon (don’t hold your breath), oil will run out and nuclear will be the “drug of choice”.
So as earthquakes keep on happening more frequently throughout the world and the Middle East goes on fighting and fighting and fighting and killing…maybe World War III rears its ugly head (maybe not), and radiation “low dose” or otherwise hits the West Coast…for my own sanity I have found that Charlie and I are more alike than unalike. No, I do not have “tiger blood”, but when I think of the government I relate to Charlie’s famous words: “I’m dealing with fools and trolls and soft targets. It’s just strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee. I don’t have time for these clowns”.
Tell ‘em Charlie.
Life in the Trenches: “Rock Star” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, March 21, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
“I am furious.”
“There are people who eat earth and eat all the people on it like in the Bible with the locusts. Then there are people who stand around and watch them eat it. Sometimes I think it ain’t right to stand and watch them do it.” -Lillian Hellman The Little Foxes (1939)
March 9, 2011 was a sad day in America.
I am furious. This was never about fiscal responsibility. It was about bringing working men and women to their knees.
State by state, there is this conspiracy – yes – I said conspiracy to wipe out unions. Believe it.
I will go further I believe the Republicans are not only waging war on unions, but Hispanics, immigrants legal or otherwise, and as I wrote in my previous columns—gay and lesbian Americans, and women.
We are seeing jackals run for cover like John McCain who once supported immigration reform, or Orrin Hatch who had at one time co-sponsored the DREAM Act.
Until March 9th, Wisconsin workers had the most supportive and constructive working regulations in our country. By that, the rules were in play that, as they worked and remained on their respective jobs, there would be the assurance of knowing that they would not be a burden to others if they became sick or just got old. It was what a lot of us used to believe – a level of security in our old age – if we worked hard and played by the rules.
Just like the loss of home equity that vanished overnight, leaving most of us without any equity in our homes or “upside down” in our mortgages - the working men and women of Wisconsin lost virtually overnight any security and protection they had previously enjoyed with the meaningful union representation of collective bargaining.
This was done by the applied pressure of Governor Scott Walker, a man that won the governorship with the endorsement of the Tea Party. And in truth, he won with the endorsement of the firefighters and police unions.
This was reminiscence of the “Reagan Democrats” of which the air traffic controller’s union stupidly endorsed Reagan in 1980. The next year, he fired 12,000 of them during a labor dispute. If you remember during that time, after the firing, flying became increasingly dangerous.
The working people of America have struggled and fought with the beginnings of the unions, and in the history of the labor movement, have suffered and died to acquire basic rights in the marketplace that has always, always been slanted against the workers.
My brother in spirit, Armando Olmos, in East LA, writes: “The RICH have never had it so good ever since President Ronald Reagan, and they cry for everything; what would they do if tthey had to live in poverty like 70,000,000 unemployed people, 100,000,000 on food stamps, or the 59,000,000 seniors, and disabled living on Social Security?”
I see horrible times ahead for people like me, and it’s worse for the working families in our country. By this, action and continued actions to break the unions is bringing the lack-of-money crowd to the forefront. And I believe, in my gut, that it is all politically motivated. But this is more than just political opportunism. As the economic collapse and the level of unemployment rises, the GOP and Tea Party jackals will make it harder for the Democrats (if they have the “huevos”, as Armando says) to change the method of taxation. Be afraid, be very afraid – we are living in the time of corporate and business interests running their political lackeys to change the makeup of America.
And if I may regress, I believe that this attack on public employees will hit women the hardest. Female workers (and if statistics are to be believed) are disproportionably now the only breadwinner of their families. Without the benefits of collective bargaining, working women will be financially decimated.
It has always been that women are more economically at risk. It is true that the majority of women in our work force make only 77 cents to the dollar paid to men for equal work. And sadly, this breaks my heart, more likely to be employed in hard tough work jobs such as nursing home workers, maids, housekeepers, childcare workers.
As I wrote above, many of these women are mothers with children that need care and protection. There is a division in our country led by the GOP and Tea Party advocates not to subsidize childcare. So as the wages and benefits of these working mothers are cut, how in hell do they find decent safe and affordable childcare for their babies? And I use the word “babies”…if you are a mom, you understand. Our children will always be our babies.
I also know that it takes two incomes to make ends meet. Most American working families depend on that. So, as the working Americans fall deeper into financial despair and ruin, there is a side of America that has never done as well. Tiffany & Company says sales at its flagship New York store jumped 26% in the first quarter. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy says U. S. sales boomed 20% in the first quarter. There is much more, and I would be writing for hours to list the profits of luxury companies selling luxury goods.
And as this horror comes to reality, the after tax profits of corporate America rocketed to 43% the first quarter.
The Central Intelligence Agency reports that the United States has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world. Our income distribution is more in line with Zimbabwe, Argentina, and El Salvador.
Unless the American working poor get organized and fight and VOTE – America’s working force will be similar to serfdom.
Life in the Trenches: “I Am Furious” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, March 17, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
“What went wrong?”
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” - The Preamble of the U. S. Constitution
What went wrong?
Right now, in my America of 2011, I do not see or feel any “domestic Tranquility”. Far from it. I think that the powers in full force will pit the 2012 election on two points: abortion and gay marriage. Right now, that has been successfully used to split the electorate.
Funny, in many parts of our country, the fetus is sacrosanct until born – then “you’re on your own, kid”.
Rep. Ron Paul R-TEXAS is sure to be a candidate for the 2012 presidential election. He has a big following among many people I know (including one of my step-daughters).
I have many problems with Rep. Paul who flat out believes that education and medical care are not rights but “things you have to earn”. I believe both education and healthcare are necessities. And America needs both more than ever.
This will be the hymn of the Republican and Tea Party campaign in 2012. It will be packaged with getting the government out of our lives and “good riddance”. And if you do not want to go along with that – well you must be one of those sniveling liberals.
And they will have the money to do this, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. There will be and is, as I write this, unlimited amount of money anonymously funneled into the GOP and Tea Party coffers.
Serious money. Money that does not talk, it screams.
And…singing along with the song are the religious zealots with the men of power in our Federal and State Capitals who pander to the zealots for votes and money. It is shocking to me that in 2011, these pusillanimous hypocrites believe that they can command or dictate to women – especially poor women - what they can do with their bodies, or have the audacity to tell a loving gay or lesbian couple that they are not allowed to marry.
If the GOP and the Tea Party triumph, I not only see the same outcome as what happened when the “Reagan Democrats” voted Republican, as well as the anti-regulatory recklessness of the Bush years—but a return to the dark ages of hidden lives putrefying in the shadows.
However, in my research, neither Bush nor Ronald Reagan had this psychological religious fanaticism that seems to bring out the most base and ignorant of some of voting America. And it seems to be most prevalent in the most backward of states…and sadly, they are all RED.
If the visions of RED America win 2012, expect a society full of uneducated people with no chance of viable employment other than the Wal-mart Code of Employment – how’s that workin for ya?
These extreme right wing members have complete confidence in their power to keep women from having control over their reproductive rights, and the civil rights of gay and lesbian American citizens to be allowed to marry, serve openly in the military, and live without fear of harm or injury. What appears to be the driving force to these demagogues is the dogma of their own brand of religion they want to impose on all of us.
Women of my generation, if they were fortunate enough to have the wise old owls in their corner, heard the stories of our mothers, grandmother, great-grandmothers who in the not-so-long-ago past had no safe places or medical professionals to advise them of birth control. The accounts are eerily similar. These women often stood alone, in the middle of the night, on dark streets so late at night or early in the morning, no one was out waiting for a cab (if they were lucky)…driving to a back alley…or a filthy room or empty garage...lying on a dirty blanket on a kitchen table or cold cement floor sometimes clutching a crucifix in their hands, feeling fear, self-loathing and disgust. This was the reality of usually poor women before Roe vs. Wade. If the prominent/controlling fraction of the GOP has their way, this dark part of history will be the reality for a growing number of women. And by the way, the narratives I heard as a kid and young woman were from white women who were not “fast” or “easy”. They were married women having child after child during the Great Depression.
The godmother of one of my sons, who is still living, has faced down serious illness several times in her life. She told me she was never so frightened as when she was still a teenager – mother of two sons during WWII - walking into a dark house South of Market, alone and helpless. She was left on a kitchen table. By the grace of God, she was able pull herself off make it to Market Street, where she had then collapsed and was taken to San Francisco General. She could never have any more children. She never knew the person who butchered her.
It is a different spin for wealthy Americans. It always has been. Or, as I often say: the “lucky sperm club”.
For the political faction accommodating the belief system of the Ron Pauls and the “Scarah” Palins or the Mike Huckabees…the proposal is no funding for education, but I guess we can all read to the kids from the Bible. And if you do not have medical insurance – well, “…are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?’ (Ebenezer Scrooge “A Christmas Carol”).
If the dirty game of politics by trimming down the deficit flies and the American people buy into it I fully expect the privatizing of all existing Social Security accounts; ROE VS WADE to be overturned and all funding to Planned Parenthood to be stopped; the Department of Education to be eliminated and all public education to be privatized; and the Bush Tax Cuts will not be extended but expanded permanently along with the deregulation of all business enterprises in this country. And to my gay brothers and sisters who will be hit the hardest – I fear the resumption of the discrimination these American citizens have had to endure to survive.
Right now, the Republicans have the House, and may again, in 2012, have a shot at gaining the Senate and the Presidency.
Part of the blame is my own party, as well as the electorate of working people that have stayed home on their asses and not voted or voted against their own self interest.
In 2012, the dice will roll, and right now I have no idea who runs the table. But what I do know is, stakes have never been higher.
Life in the Trenches: “’What went wrong?” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, March 7, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.”
“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream” - Malcolm Muggeridge
I am seeing a lot of “dead fish” trying to keep up with the instructions of both the Republicans and Tea Party crew to surrender the only tool that gives American working men and women a chance….collective bargaining.
I also see the brave people of Wisconsin standing up and saying, “Hell no.” I see my dear friend and moral compass Jimmy Salinas (former San Francisco Police Commission, former President of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission) standing up in San Francisco with all his Union brothers and sisters, along with me in Pine Grove, saying to the Governor of Wisconsin “Stick it.”
As Jimmy says: “The weakest Union is better than NO union at all because in the United States of America the employer has all the rights and the employee has none unless collective bargaining says he does”. Jimmy has fought his whole life for this principle. My two grandfathers who stood up to the hired goons on picket lines fought for this also.
In my lifetime, it began with Ronald Reagan’s policies that began the transfer of United States wealth upward, with the end result of the Wal-Mart model of work place operation. Then there was Bill Clinton who pushed NAFTA and the World Trade organization’s agenda down the throats of the American worker.
To be honest, I do not know who was worse: Reagan or Clinton, because after Clinton left office (and I know there was a surplus) the United States had given away its sovereignty to the global casino of corporate greed.
Out of curiosity, I researched the finances of both men. Ronald Wilson Reagan had no inherited wealth. He made his real money as a GE spokesman, and at that time changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. His estate was approximated at $13 million at the time of his death but the Reagan brand is huge, and I am sure the income generated with his name is much more now.
William Jefferson Clinton was born into a poor family and made no real money during the first 20 years of public service. After leaving the White House, he is making, even to this day, substantial income as a public speaker and author. And his wife has no flies on her, either. Right now, in today’s dollars, he is worth $38 million.
Before I write further, I want to tell you about my beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. You can call me one of the conspirator theorists, and I will honestly own up to it. No other President in my lifetime brought this country the sense of hope this President did. His brother, Robert Kennedy, was the finest Attorney General America ever had in my lifetime.
Neither John nor Robert Kennedy lived long enough to inherit their father’s fortune. Both men came on to the world scene with untold wealth and privilege. Neither could be bought and sold like political hacks for chump change.
What happened to both of them was unspeakable. America, still in its complacency, has not yet realized what we have all lost with their murders.
John Kennedy came into office and did what he said he would do “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds”. So he first fired CIA Director Allen Dulles and his assistant, General Charles Cabell. This is important: General Cabell’s brother Earle Cabell was the mayor of Dallas on the day Kennedy was murdered.
Kennedy refused to put American troops into Laos, and ordered Averell Harriman - his man at the Geneva Conference - to “negotiate a settlement in Laos”. Kennedy flatly said, “I don’t want to put troops in”.
In June 1963, President Kennedy gave a speech at American University calling for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end of the Cold War and the “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war”. He demanded that the America move toward “general and complete disarmament”.
In October 1963 Kennedy signed the National Security Action Memorandum 263 calling for the withdrawal of 1,000 U. S. military troops from Vietnam by the end of the year, and a full and total withdrawal by the end of 1963.
There is so much more – but why is all this important. I will tell you. No President - NOT ONE - since John Fitzgerald Kennedy has dared to buck the military-intelligence-industrial complex. Since the murders of John and Robert Kennedy, Pax Americana has metastasized all over the globe. Blood money spent on wars has ballooned astronomically. And remember, John Kennedy was the last real and true war hero that occupied the White House.
This is all tied together with the impoverishment of the American people. Working men and women have been singled out as the ones to “sacrifice” and cut back to “balance the budget”. That is a crock. What about the obscene amounts of money that has gone into the perpetuation of these wars as well as the cultivation of the continued friendship of dictators?
I have recently been looking into the death of Pope John Paul I who died on the 33rd day of his papacy. Pope John Paul died in 1978 after the murders of the Kennedys.
John Kennedy, before he was murdered, was engaged in negotiations with Khrushchev and Pope John XXIII; through them, with Castro, attempted to bring or make a dent in the horrible corruption that has run the world from the beginning of time.
Pope John Paul I wanted to clean up the Vatican Bank with it connections with Freemasonry, the Mafia, and the CIA. Pope John Paul was in good health. The official cause of his death is “heart attack’.
For the sake of brevity, many people have died with connections to John and Robert Kennedy. The list of people who turned up dead is alarming and most can be verified. By the elimination of many good people the conquest of other countries as well as the assault on the environment and the world’s financial banking system could be done with impunity. There have never been, since the death of Pope John Paul I, any serious investigation into the vast wealth of the world held by the Vatican. The Vatican owns 25% of the world’s gold bullion and enormous land holdings all over the world.
For years and years the deficit-financed wars – most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq have financially gutted this nation. But as much as I try, I do not hear or see any demand for sacrifice of the military industrial complex to scale back their treasure chest.
Total Pentagon spending between 1940 and 1998 exceeded $19 trillion.
Does anyone call or demand prosecution of Donald Rumsfeld? When Lawrence Lindsey, President George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser, was fired because he calculated the cost of invading Iraq at $100 billion to $200 billion, Rumsfeld said: “Well, the Office of Management and Budget has come up with a number that’s something under $50 billion for the cost.”
The United States has already surpassed Lindsey’s calculation. David J. Dionisi, author of American Hiroshima, and former military intelligence officer writes “the likely total costs will exceed $1.9 trillion.”
So, instead of ending this overkill and over spending for wars and the perpetuation of war – the Republican Party, along with the Tea Party, divide Americans and try to make them believe working and unemployed America is the problem. Throw in the argument that Social Security is no longer sustainable, and the cherry on the sundae? We are cheating and burdening the future generations – our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I pray that the American people will stand with the working men and women of Wisconsin – stop this division – and look reality in the face.
If just one-half the spending by Congress did not go into the war business, the America that we all deserve and need now more than ever could be achieved. End this attack on poor and working Americans. End this attack on working people who have overnight lost all home equity while Wall Street profits. End the huge disparity between the average CEO’s pay with the average worker’s pay (which varies in the neighborhood of 185 times bigger than the workers 2009 data Source: Economic Policy Institute). End the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts. End the attack on poor illegals brought here in most cases to work like dogs for a bone. End this attack and stop blaming the collapse of our country on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Give all women the option of having the right to choose.
America’s number one export is weapons. Can’t we see that if we open and bring back the factories again to America maybe just maybe we can export the great merchandise we used to be famous for?
Martin Luther King Jr. before he was murdered said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
Life in the Trenches: “’Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.’” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, February 24, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
Do Not Follow the Ideas of Others
“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things”. - Dogen
I never thought that I would revisit the Civil War – but I have. I understand the Sons of Confederate Veterans refer to this war as the “War Between the States”. Books have been written and many films have made fortunes writing of the antebellum South. In my reading the best description of the Civil War was Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage.
I had thought this was all put to bed. I was wrong.
In Mississippi, there is a serious proposal to issue specialty license plants honoring Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Well, I thought, “That is Mississippi.” Wrong. It was with shock that I listened to a local woman on an Amador television station exercising her freedom of speech defending the validity of this tribute as well as sugar-coating the creation of one of the most disgraceful organization America has ever produced, the Ku Klux Klan.
I am a student in history, and the history of violence and reckless bloodshed in our country can’t be ignored – neither can the atrocities committed during the Civil War. The cruelties that both sides – Union and Confederate – inflicted on one another should never ever be romanticized. I know people personally that take Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell as historical fact. The author was honored with a Pulitzer Prize, and the movie when released in 1939 won an unprecedented number of Academy Awards. But the book and the film were not based completely on facts. Far from it.
Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was a military genius, and he served the Confederacy well. He was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan, and was reported to have been the First Grand Wizard of the KKK. He was also a murderer and a virulent racist.
On April 12, 1864, Forrest led 1,500 of his men on an attack of the Fort Pillow Union garrison manned by the 6th United States Colored Artillery and the all white troops of the 13th Tennessee Union Calvary. 600 Union soldiers held the fort. This is now known as the Fort Pillow Massacre.
When the Union soldiers displayed the white flag and asked permission to surrender - as they were outmanned and outgunned, as well as pinned down by sharpshooters and not able to use their field artillery - General Forrest refused. Every soldier that did survive stated under oath that all soldiers were shot as they tried to surrender. Forrest and the men, under his command, violated every rule of war.
It was then that Forrest put up a bounty of $1,000.00 for the head of any white Union officer who commanded the black soldiers. A reported 36 Union officers were singled out and hacked to death and beheaded. Forrest seethed with hate that any white man would serve or fight with any “n******”. His quote that has since become famous was he would “take no quarter to Union n****** soldiers”.
This was not the conventional warfare of the day. It was under the leadership of Forrest that an army of assassins used every means available to destroy and torture until death. The slaughter was not even equaled by the most savage of the Indian tribes. The most repulsive and evil acts in warfare were fully documented. All established rules of warfare were not heeded. Both black and white Union soldiers were butchered including the wounded so injured they could not move from the ground that they fell in the battle for their lives. Men were bayoneted, shot, or sabered. They were disemboweled by Bowie knives. The barely living was burned alive and lynched, their bodies were desecrated. As the body count grew, they were thrown into an open pit – some men were buried alive.
Few survived this carnage. But the few that did were able to fully report it. Until the end of General Forrest’s life he spoke with pride of this and his “triumph” as “taking care of the mess”.
As a footnote in history on June 19, 1864 every single Afro-American soldier fighting under the Union Flag stationed in Memphis took an oath on their knees to avenge Fort Pillow. This was supported by African-American leader Frederick Douglass.
So in 2011, I am not able to understand why a very bad and sordid side of American history should be glorified with any commemoration of this man and what he stood for.
This war, whether called the Civil War or the War Between the States, went down in history as one of the most barbaric, violent and gruesome ever fought. And it was fought on our own soil by Americans fighting Americans. The Civil War was horrible. It was the beginning of mechanized artillery like the Gatling guns along with hand to hand combat. It was a rich man’s war that mostly poor men fought.
I do not want to think that what happened then could happen again in our own time. But when I remember the South’s policy which was “take no prisoners, give no quarters”. Something is reminiscent of this time in America. Poor men are still fighting wars. We have already seen that overnight an enemy can be presented to a divided an obedient populace with the ultimate outcome of young men and women under the guise of patriotism being led to their own destruction and the destruction of others.
Yet the personages of wrong and bad wars are still given tribute. I don’t get it.
Mary Lou Molina
Life in the Trenches: “Don’t Follow the Ideas of Others” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, February 20, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
Okay, Who’s getting fleeced?
“All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms labor is treason to America. No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he loves America yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor; and to fleece the one is to rob the other”. Abraham Lincoln
I remember when the Republicans would immodestly refer to themselves as the party of Lincoln. Now today, that is an absurdity. The Republican Party has for the most part utilized the votes of white Americans (and I do not presume to label these people as all Southerners, even though the red states consist of preponderance of Southern states), mostly males who seem angered by racial equality, the right of a woman to choose, gay marriage, immigration, and other things – but the big enchilada is “cutting down the deficit”.
This is to me, the great Calamity…what two programs help/have helped the most Americans? No brainer: Social Security and Medicare. Yeah, you can argue the GI Bill (which educated both my parents and made it possible for them both veterans of WWII to buy their first home) was a rescuer. But because the old soft sell is now in play, I will address Social Security and Medicare. If they are cut or modified in any way, all America is in peril.
Now I see something that I did not bargain for – my President, our President, proposing massive cuts in infrastructure. This is not the man I voted for. I am seeing a President that does not want to provoke the opposition – and that includes the Tea Party, the Republicans, and even FOX News.
And what about future employment? Okay, we have older people still working, not because, for the most part, they enjoy getting up and having a wonderful creative place to dedicate their remaining years to. They need the money. Or they need that Social Security “entitlement”. Or they need to have health insurance before they reach the Medicare eligibility age. Often the work they’re doing is physically hard - even raw and draining – sucking what little life and spark they still have out of them. It is not a pretty picture to be old or growing older in America with no money.
Again, the very same downplay of global warming that I saw in the eight years of Bush is also the same under Obama. My fear that another Katrina could arrive - and I am speaking right now – in our own backyard: the Sacramento Delta, which needs levee repair, or better yet, replacement like, yesterday.
But there will be no provisions for water, bridges, dams, levies, highway systems. They have all been ignored.
Then, there are the proposed cuts to medical support and aid. What will happen to Americans whose very lives will hang in balance without that very important medical support and aid?
An excellent example is the funding for heating assistance for some of us especially in parts of our country that are really hit by catastrophic weather systems. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass), former Presidential hopeful wrote to the White House last week that he accepts that cuts will have to be made. Senator Kerry’s exact wording was: “I understand that difficult cuts have to be made….but in the middle of a brutal even historic New England winter home heating assistance is more critical than ever to the health and welfare of millions of Americans, especially senior citizens. I request that the administration preserve LIHEAP funding at least to the Fiscal Year 2010 funding at $5.1 billion when it submits its FY12 budget proposal to Congress”. In the past week, the Obama administration is considering cuts to community service block grants and an energy assistance program that helps poor people stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
I have spent hours looking into cuts, and the most chilling is the projection in November 2013 as a result of the $2.2 billion cut which came about on the heels of another $11.9 billion cut to food stamps that was folded into a state-aid bill. This information came from the Food Research and Action Center, a group that fights for food stamps and other programs. They estimate that a family of four will received $59.00 less in food stamps beginning November 2013.
And here is where I go retro. I loved Michelle Obama, but dig this: my First Lady pushed a child nutrition bill, which I was all for and very, very proud of UNTIL…until I found out that it was paid in part with cuts to future funding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – which we all know as food stamps.
So even though I came down hard on the Republicans at the beginning of this piece, the fact is that, with a very few exceptions, I am seeing with open eyes at 63 years of age a bunch of soap boxing, self-congratulating polls who have no concern about any of us.
So as President’s Day approaches, I ponder on my belief that the Bill of Rights was created not for the convenience of the powerful but to protect the powerless from the tyranny of the powerful. I look and check and study everyday for some hint that this is what our country is. But in 2011 America it is not.
Mary Lou Molina
Life in the Trenches: “Okay, Who’s Getting Fleeced?” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, February 14, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
“Marijuana leads to homosexuality…..and therefore to AIDS.”
(Direct quote from White House Drug Czar Carlton Turner, 1986.)
One of the reasons I accepted Carol Harper’s offer to allow me to write for her publication is that she honored me with total honesty. There is no other way I would have signed on.
On the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, I find time to reflect on what damage this man did. I remember in San Francisco when gay men began to get sick and were dying like flies. I do not remember any social services available for this “gay cancer”. I do not remember much of anything, except the biblical pronouncements that this was “incontrovertibly the work of divine intervention”.
From Washington on down, the gay community had to take this on because no one else would. Gay men began to organize and fight for assistance in providing social services and preventive education about AIDS and unsafe sex.
One such person I knew in passing was Randy Shilts. I wish I could write that he was a close friend. Sadly, he was not. But both Randy Shilts and author Armistead Maupin were stars in the San Francisco literary scene. I was just a star-struck young woman who, like all my girl friends and gay pals like Terry who lived in this “too die for” Victoria in the Castro - could not wait to read the next installment of Tales of the City by Maupin, who had been serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Once Terry and my oldest daughter (who was very, very young at the time ) and I went looking for the magical “Barbary Lane”. The gay men that I was honored to call my friends did my hair and make-up, and made sure all my girls looked dynamite for their various proms. But that is another story for another day.
At the time AIDS hit the City, I was in the throws of falling in love, and very little discussion about the disease was going on. But slowly, as friends of my friends began to get sick and then die, the impact hit. But politics and politicians were not concerned about gay men dying. I think it was not until screen legend Rock Hudson announced that he was dying of AIDS that the whole world came to attention.
Ronald Reagan did nothing. For that, I despise him. It is no secret that I have a few wonderful and gifted gay friends still living. One, Scott Ross, I am honored to call my brother. He never stops educating me, and I look forward to the day I can visit and speak to him in person in Raleigh.
I would like everyone to know that it was the gay communities – particularly the San Francisco gay community in the beginning – that were responsible for raising the most money for research, providing Hospice for the dying, and pushing for education, education, and MORE education against the all powerful religious zealots that fought them every step of the way.
Randy Shilts died from AIDS in 1994. Before he died, he began to write of this gay epidemic. He received flack from just about everyone, including his own gay community. Randy demanded the immediate closures of the San Francisco bathhouses, which did not go over very well in the Castro and Polk Street areas of the City. But this man was able to produce one of the greatest books written, And the Band Played On. I suggest everyone should read it.
And if you do choose to read And the Band Played On, I would like to mention that the title was taken from the band on the RMS Titanic that kept playing as the ship sank.
Many years ago, when I could still shake a tail feather, I bumped into both men at different times at the EndUp on 6th – the greatest dance club then in the 1970’s – and, from what I hear from the “youngsters’, the greatest dance club in the City now.
So I have zero tolerance of any movement that reveres Reagan—because he never thought of gay men as Americans, so very many died. Some were my friends.
Mary Lou Molina
Life in the Trenches: “Marijuana leads to homosexuality…..and therefore to AIDS.” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, February 10, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
Too Damn High
“A lie told often enough becomes truth.” - Vladamir Lenin
I listened to Bachmann speak Tuesday night after The State of the Union, and the Republican response by Rep. Paul Ryan.
NY Representative Anthony Weiner told Rachel Maddow that Bachmannn “is clearly not in touch with the mothership”. What I kept thinking was, “Please God, do not let this woman procreate.”
Michele Bachmann does not have a “T” after her name. Where was Bernie Sanders who is a Democratic Socialist? Should he have been given the opportunity of rebuttal like Bachmann? Or what about the Green or Libertarian or Independent reaction?
I never thought I would say this but Bobby Jindal looked downright oratorical compared with Ryan.
At the moment (and maybe more seriously than I will cop to) I am thinking that the guy in New York who ran for governor - Jimmy McMillan “the rent is too damn high” - is looking pretty “damn” good to me. Jimmy, everything is “too damn high” now. And the price the poor and working poor are paying in this country is “too damn high”. I’m with you, pal.
I got the message that the poor and working people have to tighten their belts. Michele Bachmann is the mouthpiece for the powerful. Why does paying down the deficit have to be on the backs of the poor and working poor of America?
I listened carefully to President Obama, Rep. Ryan, and Michele Bachmann, and surprisingly the word “foreclosure” was not used by any of them.
The American Dream is ownership of the family home. And that has served this country well. So why are 2.9 million homes in foreclosure? Why wasn’t that mentioned by any of our so-called leaders?
By 2013, analysts predict that between eight and thirteen million homes will have gone into foreclosure.
Big Banks should have been singled out Tuesday night, and not the favorite “ObamaCare” politic. Along with Americans not being able to be eligible for healthcare is the other crippler – the homelessness of the American family.
The Bush Tax Cuts have been extended. I wanted to ask the President, Rep. Ryan and Michelle Bachmann: if money is taken away from our schools, or scholarships for our students. and the downturn in housing continues. as well as the staggering decline in wages, out-sourcing, and the worst job market since the Great Depression - shouldn’t we ask millionaires and billionaires to forfeit their tax breaks?
Profits for the sprawling oil refineries and pipelines continue to climb. Wall Street broke the 12,000 mark Wednesday (day after the State of the Union); big polluters like Exxon Mobil and American Petroleum remain unchecked. Does anyone care that Exxon Mobil is the world’s biggest carbon polluter spewing approximately one trillion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere every year? And the Big Money is betting that that Exxon Mobil will be drilling oil and gas beneath the North Pole by next year.
Did I miss that there was no mention of reducing greenhouse gas emission from killing our Earth? I did not hear anything about the EPA being allowed to successfully regulate carbon emissions.
Look, I think the horse has left the barn and hit the gate. The damage already done to our planet is irreversible; the ice in the Arctic is vanishing – even polar bears don’t get a break. They didn’t even get endangered species protection.
Was there mention of the renewal of legislation like the Clean Water and Surface Transportation acts? I did not hear it.
I saw no triumph in the Kumbaya moment of the Congress sitting as one for the State of Union. It was a creepy fantasy of a dream gone badly.
What I did not hear by this President, or by any party leader in government, was standing up and mounting an unapologetic defense of working America. I did not hear that Tuesday night.
I did not hear anyone insist on explaining to the American people with the cuts in mental health funding, why mentally unbalanced people can easily purchase high tech killing weapons with magazine clips capable of killing countless innocent people. After what happened in Tucson, as well as mention of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the State of the Union, I was sure that some kind of explanation would be given. I was wrong.
Is my – our, all of us –America become a dysfunctional country that dodges the truth?
My thoughts and reasoning which these past two years have been running in a vicious circle trying to make some sense out of this (what I perceive) movement away from all sanity.
Sometimes when I allow self pity to get the best of me, I secretly weep in fear of what our country is projecting to all of us, our children, to rest of the world.
America, with all its squabbles and foibles, used to attract the world’s best. Our educators were among the most brilliant, our cities and parks the most beautiful and exciting. Part of coming of age for many of us was visiting our State Capital and if we were really lucky our Nation’s Capital and being able to embrace our elected leaders. Little Christina Taylor Green was going to meet Rep. Giffords the day of her execution on a sunny day by a Safeway store.
None of the concerns I detail above were given any notice. The State of the Union fell short. Leaders of the Republican Party and their spokesman Rep. Ryan and Michelle Bachmann in their rebuttals fell short. They should all be ashamed.
Jimmy – wherever you are – “the rent is too damn high”.
Life in the Trenches: “Too Damn High” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, January 27, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
How times have changed
A little over fifty years ago something magical happened in my country: the Inauguration of an Irish Catholic president. This was huge…people like me of working class roots smiled from ear to ear as we congratulated each other… “one of us was in the White House”.
I was a kid and among my friends we not only bought the Elvis and Bobby Darrin records we bought The First Family album by Vaughn Mead - to us, it was hilarious - and remember in the sixty’s Bill Dana “my name Jose Jimenez” was what we used to call out to each other. May be horrible now, but cool and really funny then.
How times have changed.
Among some to whom I have spoken, the presidency of Barak Obama parallels the presidency of John F. Kennedy. I do not agree. Kennedy came into office with much hope and optimism like Obama, but as I remember the times were great in regard to economic prosperity. Racial problems were very bad, but there was a man in the White House that acted on what he said, and with his brother and eventually, his Vice President, and later President Lyndon Johnson and the magnificent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked for change. And change did come. Bloody and violent, but it did come.
I would like to remind everyone, including my many children and grandchildren, and a great grandson who is bi-racial, that this was the last real war hero that was in the White House. Kennedy replaced a man who was Supreme Allied Commander in World War II coming in as the second youngest president in history who, as lieutenant second grade, became a war hero on a PT boat in the Pacific.
After the death of this man, no one in my eyes has ever achieved the purpose and joy of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. When you were young and Kennedy was our president, all things were possible. There was a mood in the country that was fresh and it was good, and kids like me that came of age in that era were patriotic. Everyone I knew wanted to do what they “could for their country”. Some of my high school classmates did join the Peace Corps…which leads me to the loss of another good man, Sargent Shriver. There was no one who carried on the Kennedy tradition of service than Sarg Shriver. As a truly good Catholic (no sanctimonious nonsense) he was called home last week. I do not think many people realize what this man was able to accomplish in the pursuit of good and decent lives for all of us.
Now I see in my country, among some, an apathetic and caustic indifference. I do not see among the young the spirit that went out in the world and challenged all with a “bring it on” attitude. I had that attitude, and although I did not go into public service, it is amazing among my old classmates how many did.
Public service was aspired to in 1961 and when my classmates graduated from various colleges scattered all over the US or into the workplace it was public service that was the first choice for a career.
This seems like a lifetime ago. I recently went kicking and screaming to my first high school reunion, and I saw a bunch of really old-looking people and a former young athlete from back in the day who had undergone the full Monty sex change…he is now a she, and, “say it loud, I am proud” - a full woman in every sense…however, I tactfully declined to check it out. I took her word on this.
SO this brings me to 2011 end of January, happy I am alive, but dealing with discontent and searching for any lessons that could be learned by me of what went wrong. I have gone over the standard answers in my mind: the assassinations, Vietnam, the dumbing down, the loss of respect for most of our public servants from the top down to the bottom, Watergate…now Wikileaks and the horror in Tucson. The popular positions of my time were public service, voting, Peace Corps, active involvement in politics which included peaceful protest and yes, tolerance.
What went wrong?
Mary Lou Molina
Life in the Trenches: “How Times Have Changed” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, January 17, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
Sit Down, Have a Drink
Today I am looking hard at a few in our community that appear to be exclusive from many others (the larger majority). I know I will be called on the carpet for this column, but it will not be the first time...or the last.
There was a rally in Sacramento that was in protest of more and more Californians being denied healthcare. An event that was not only worthy, but necessary. Yet I and many others - especially the majority of my friends and acquaintances who are poor - were not notified of this important event.
This angered me, because I know the good people of Amador who have consistently joined in unity to protest the closure of Preston, as well those of the Mother Lode Tea Party (of which I disagree, but care deeply about some of the members who are dear and trusted friends) - could have pulled this off magnificently had the event been publicized.
The people that participated at this rally are all good people. But when I read the names, I went out on a limb (and this is just me) – they appear to be, for the most part, well off and comfortable. This is where it gets sticky: I am happier than all get out that some of us are well off and comfortable. I thank God every night that I have a roof over my head and food in the refrigerator. But I worry, and I join many of my friends who are just barely making it, or holding on as tight as they can before the next hit comes. Those people were not informed.
There was a woman of my age who has serious health issues - and often if not for the food bank would starve (God bless you, Kathleen Harmon) - who called my home Friday morning after she read Friday’s Ledger. She knows that I am a Democrat, and recognized some of the names featured in Mr. Anderson’s article as people I know. She wanted to know why people like her were not told of this. I had no answer. But I demanded an answer. I called my party to task, and with the help of a woman in Calaveras County, I gate-crashed a meeting at the Hotel Leger last Saturday with a few of the good people of the Democratic Party of both Calaveras and Amador present.
What I care about - and all who know me know this - my concern, my fear is the impoverishment of the American people. When I perceive well-intentioned people who inadvertently leave out the very people they purport to care about, I am more than pissed off...“Homie don’t play”!
There was a time in Amador when we had the luxury of putting on rose-covered glasses and featured attention towards the history and old buildings of the Gold Rush era. That was then. This is now.
I never thought I would ever write this, but sit down all my children, my friends – have a drink (preferably as strong as you can stand):
The Mother Lode Tea Party includes all. Don’t agree with a damn thing they stand for, but no one is left out of any of their events or meetings.
I challenge my Democratic brothers and sisters….we aren’t making a difference preaching to the choir….we belong with people like me or in worse conditions…living in the trenches. There is not one person in the information business I know that would not have plugged this rally. Carol Harper of ACN would, TSPN would, Loraine Davis would, Mr. Mitchell would. There is no excuse, but the dice has rolled. It should have never happened – so let’s work on it not happening again.
Mary Lou Molina
Life in the Trenches: “Sit Down, Have a Drink” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, January 17, 2011
Life in the Trenches:
Another Day in the Trenches
By Mary Molina
January 8th began with me writing my thoughts to present to my Editor getting on with the day waking up – “with a heartbeat and a pulse” (as someone very dear to me used to say)…and very happy about that.
My computer began to blink, which means heavy duty NEWS ALERT.
The real fear that I have covered up for years resurfaced with the shock (not unexpected) that hit Tucson. Are we, as Americans, now today living in a Third Word Country? When an assailant is able to put a gun to the head of a woman and shoot her through the head leaving her in critical condition, kill a nine year old child, an esteemed judge known only for the good and competent man he was, and wounding six others as well - many going about their day and some doing what we in Amador County do quite openly in supporting or showing up to speak to our duly elected representatives - something is very wrong.
I am there most of the time when Dan Lungren or Alyson Huber is in Amador County. And I always feel so grateful that these two very important and needed members of Congress take the time to be here with all of us.
I had to think very hard about this political violence. I questioned if I can accept and live with another horror adding on to the horrors of massive debt, soap boxing self-congratulating politicians, foreign wars, very few sustainable lasting career type jobs for working America, home foreclosures, hateful speech – all things that have become common and “same ol’, same ol’” that we all seem to endure as we continue to live in this country.
A friend suggested that I read Arianna Huffington’s new book titled Third World America. I was going to put it off until I ran the selection by my book club, and hopefully we could all read it together. I am buying the book now.
I winced when I heard and watched the smiling Sarah Palin wink-wink saying “don’t retreat reload” and happily display her own map or target list of candidates she perceived as damaging to her agenda and I believe the Tea Party’s agenda. As noted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords face was featured among a few others as being in the bull’s-eye crosshairs. Then there was the infamous remark in Nevada by candidate Sharron Angle of “second amendment remedies”. What happened in Tucson is not an aberration. I believe it is the new normal for America.
Unless our country goes into Third Word lock-down, I do not believe there is any way to keep this from happening again. I never verbalized my fear before because I did not want to give it credence. But deep down, I knew that there would be another crazy person consumed with hate and even a perverted patriotism that would take this to the extreme.
To me, the worst and most perilous comment was by the seriously nuts Rep. Michelle Bachmann who, again, with a smile (what is this with the smiling whacks?) rallying her followers to be “armed and dangerous”.
Last year on our own California highway, our overly-burdened yet always competent CHP pulled over a man on his way to San Francisco to murder as many members of the ACLU and an environmental organization called TIDES Foundation - as long as his ammunition held out, or he was stopped. He was on a mission to murder and maim. The ACLU and the TIDES Foundation are two groups that Glenn Beck has “targeted” on his television and radio shows. This man was wearing body armor and had weapons and ammunition. Later, it was confirmed by many sources including the man’s mother that he was a fan of FOX News and Glenn Beck was his hero.
During the fight to put healthcare through, we saw on our television screens people screaming obscenities and spitting at various leaders, as well as holding ghastly signs in front of our nation’s capital. The people that I saw shared the belief that the government must be overthrown, and far too many bellowed of their right to carry and brandish weapons. Any weapons…assault or otherwise.
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned during this time when people were on the Capital’s steps, that right wing rhetoric would lead to 1960’s style violence. She was ridiculed by hate mongers like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and the worst of the worst, Rush Limbaugh. Again, Speaker Nancy was right.
I understand during the November 2010 election Rep. Giffords opponent used as a voting enticement the invitation of shooting an assault gun with him. That was considered a great voting registration tool and was received with delight in the fun of getting out the vote.
This week the Republicans, being egged on by the Tea Party, were to go after the repealing of the health care act AKA OBAMACARE. That has been postponed. For how long, I have no clue.
Are they knowledgably aware that America is the only industrialized country that does not have guaranteed healthcare for all its citizens? I can’t be the only one in this county that finds that fact shameful.
It has been suggested that this attack was based on the “yes” vote by Rep. Giffords back in March.
Is that kind of hate that powerful?
Why is the evil and heinous Westboro Baptist Church thanking God that this crazed madman murdered six people and will picket their funerals? Who are these people who believe that “God sent the shooter”?
I have just learned that Gabrielle Giffords is able to communicate with doctors and loved ones in the hospital. I have been up all night praying for her and the souls of the innocents lost. God help us all.
Mary Lou Molina
“Another Day in the Trenches” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, January 10, 2011
Life in the Trenches
First I would like to address Ms. Kathy Allen’s comments regarding the smart and sassy Miss Carol Harper. I agree wholly. I do feel that I must defend the Ledger Dispatch. There are very few reporters and photo journalists as astute and dedicated as Scott Anderson and Bill Lavallie. And is not a local newspaper or for that matter any newspaper open to divergent views?
Now for the task at hand. I have been asked by my fearless editor Miss Carol Harper to let loose and express my feelings about what I fear is the unraveling of our country.
Where do I begin? I am not happy AT ALL….if I appear to be rambling please Carol reel me in!
The S&P 500 index is up about 50% since Obama came to the White House. But let’s get real the unemployment figures if they are to be believed are higher than when he entered the White House. None of us have to be rocket scientists than to look around our own community and see the short sales and foreclosures. What has happened to your neighborhood?
Obama’s $75 billion Home Affordable Modification Program better known as HAMP is a disgrace. I can tell you first hand it has not helped me. And at the risk of sounding like a militant (OK maybe I am) I personally believe that there is more fraud going on in the modification process than there was in the loan origination process. I do not like Tim Geithner. I do not think or fall for the premise he is for the “little people”.
I have been informed that half of the 1.4 million borrowers that entered the HAMP program were kicked out. I was one. Only 2% of the loan modification from my research so far has allowed principle reductions. A few were thrown a bone like temporary payment reprieves.
Now I understand that Obama has put together a $14 billion principal reduction program. Right now I do not have any idea if this will succeed or fail. But here is the glitch: participation is voluntary on the part of the banks, and the BIG FIVE have not committed.
Obama has followed the very same economic policy as his predecessor in the case of taxes and bank bailouts. I know there have been bills to “control” Wall Street. To me, they have been watered down and again I use the word “disgrace”.
I voted for Obama. I campaigned for Obama. Am I happy with Obama? No I am not. Am I with the Republicans or Tea Party and jumped ship? Hell no.
I am for the American working people. My people. I am for bringing home our valiant young warriors that are fighting two wars we did not have to fight. I was thrilled about the repeal of DADT. Point scored for Obama.
I am for taxing and punishing these corporate criminals who for the only reason of making a sleazy buck prostituted the American way of work…they sent the jobs to Third World countries where other poor people are victimized.
I am for any corporate or political figure that is responsible for leaving our country in shambles to be tried and convicted as a criminal against the people of the United States.
And if anyone can say to me with a straight face that Obama’s rope a dope about continuing the Bush Tax Cuts is good for America I will punch them in the nose. This so called deal adds another $1 trillion to the record United States deficit…..$700 billion is the price for extending tax breaks to the wealthiest 2% of the country….the rest goes for jobless benefits and to be perfectly clear I do want our unemployed Americans to receive full unemployment compensation. BUT NOT ONE penny will be spent on the building and restructuring of our infrastructure.
Again a word I am using more and more and more: DISGRACE.
Mary Lou Molina
“Life in the Trenches” by Mary Molina. Copyright © 2011 by Mary Molina. Published by Amador Community News, www.AmadorCommunityNews.com, January 6, 2011