It is customary for people to make resolutions for the New Year. It matters not that they may be setting a path for failure. A New Year’s resolution is generally understood as a promise to one’s self. People resolve to change, and usually (if we are honest) after a week or two of hogging the treadmills at the gym, they usually give in to their weakness of a state fair’s fried Twinkies. To one more cigarette instead of Nicorette gum; they trade O’Doul’s for Newcastle. My own resolutions are not much different. I resolve to smoke and drink less. At these things, I will surely fail. Deprivation is a hard thing to handle. Perhaps we should resolve to create something more. There are a couple things that I resolve to do more of. I resolve to continue teaching the kiddos that truth comes from honest debate. Truth comes from some guy named Julian criticizing your ideas- publicly. It comes from re-evaluating your position- on everything- because popular or not, you want to learn. And you can never learn in an atmosphere of agreement. And truth comes from posting some shit that somebody may laugh about. (As much as I wanted to, I did not try revisionist history with the EDIT prompt on “Full Circle”) HoTruth and self reflection are amazing tools. We are not all lucky enough to have both. I am. Thanks to all who let me know it. I wish for continued growth and challenge. I know that I can not have one without the other.
Author Archives: Michelle Shinghal
HoT editor Chris Bennett provided, as an item of interest, an meant for SG, but I wanted to pipe off.written by George Rice, a self professed police officer of (Sterling?) CO. I believe the item was
Officer Rice starts by mocking the very people who pay his salary by calling them “latter-day hippies” and further insults them by letting them know that he, a man of the law, does not realize that the PEOPLE make the laws- not him.
It seems that his biggest argument is over the term “safer”. “Safer than what?” he wonders- and yes- publicly. He mentions some soccer moms smoking pot in their “ranchettes” could fail to obey a traffic signal and cause an accident. But wait! He is worried about an accident. But hey, it is only pot- not margarita parties- that cause that. But then, Officer Rice states:
I got news for that biddy-brain. The kids already know. If the three or four of them are fuming up the place a couple times a week, everyone else in the house can smell it. Makes me wonder about the husbands. And the odds are great that, by the time the kids have reached middle school, they’ve smelled it somewhere else and will certainly recognize it.
Hmmmm, the hubby is the keeper? How patronizing. Hubby should be a co-parent- and as such, he would likely share “soccer mom’s” ideals. And he would likely smoke some herb. And as for,
I had to arrest combative kids whose “freed” minds refused to accept that urinating in the middle of a crowded dance floor was not acceptable conduct. Or explain to a stoned kid after the wreck that driving in reverse on a one-way street is not legal, even if the car was pointed in the right direction. And I had to explain to parents that handcuffs are necessary when anyone, even their darling, believes he’s Cassius Clay and tries to fight an officer twice his age and strength.
I laugh. I don’t know anyone- pro or anti pot”war”- that would say that this is a smoker’s action. The universal perception of a smoker is passive person not tackling life. Honestly, it is more the action of a protected kid partying (on booze) in the French Quarter of New Orleans. A stoner acting violently? I think not. Unless he targets you for hogging the Funyons. It seems that the only dealer/addict here is this cop. He is marketing GOV grade dope to the masses. The dope of ignorance and division. But hey, he needs his job. As long as there is a drug war in Sterling, he is employed. I said before, when your livelihood is dependent on fear, you incite fear. It is real hard to be objective as a soldier in the drug war.
I was sitting here debating whether to get some work done or catch up on the news I had been neglecting due to the Christmas holiday. Since I am posting, I am sure you know my decision on the matter. I started with Latinas converting to Islam, found my way to Bolivia’s President-elect, Evo Morales, and walked right into Cuba.
The latest in the “Religious Makeovers” du jour was just not doin’ it for me tonight. If Madonna ain’t involved in it, I don’t wanna know about it.
What was interesting was the campaign platform of Bolivia’s president-elect. It is that Evo Morales, a coca farmer, rode to victory with help of America’s War on Drugs.
The U.S.-led war on drugs inadvertently helped bring Morales to power. The battle against coca eradication that he led helped mobilize Indian organizations already angered by continuing poverty and political domination by a rich elite, feeding a broader political movement.
I know, from experience, that the coca plant is not (always) the evil that it is associated with here in the states. I have family- ex in-laws- that come from Bolivia. I know that they use coca for ailments far removed from fun. I know that my former mother in law chewed coca leaves to relieve altitude sickness. I know that it is used in spiritual cases. And I know that it is used for recreation. But I see now, that our “war” against its recreational use may be bringing us closer to something we despise. Reading about Morales and his fight to keep his livelihood, I learned of his fondness for Castro.
Learning of that fondness made me want to see what Fidel Castro was spouting of late. I found this where Castro states,
“We are in transition: to socialism, to communism…”
and that his revolution was “uncontainable and unstoppable”.
Hmmm. If I were feeling the love from the US government elected to “serve the people” I would not be worried. But, then I read this piece by Dr. Lee Edwards which offers
We Americans are lucky. We’ve never had to worry about a knock on the door in the middle of the night, with members of the secret police ready to drag us from our homes. We have never had to endure the horrors of re-education camps to break the minds and bodies of dissidents. We have never seen whole families, whole cities, even whole peoples deported or extinguished in the name of communism.
In Cuba, Fidel Castro has silenced any opposition to his rule, placing political dissidents in concrete jail cells with no light and no furniture for as long as 20 years. In China, thousands of dissidents are imprisoned in the laogai, slave-labor camps that are the Chinese equivalent of the old Soviet gulag. Others, as noted above, are shot down in the streets. In North Korea, the entire populace lives in a totalitarian nightmare, marked by starvation and mass public executions.
The warm and fuzzies did not even start to gel when I remembered that our government is indeed and spying on the public and that people- citizens or not- are being on less than sound intelligence.
A great big circle. We start off fighting tyranny and oppression. Then we aid it. And then we find that we are subjected to it- again. And this time, there seems to be a willing abdication of freedom’s crown.
I should have done the work. But then I would go to bed knowing that my good work-bonus money taxed at a different rate- would be used to further encourage communism.
I am a traveler. I experience the world, and therefore learn about my local environment. I enjoy teaching my kiddos that humans-no matter the country of origin- are fundamentally the same. It is in our natures to be protective of our lives and liberties, and there is nothing I have seen that would prove different. In every governed nation, there are ideas, leaders, followers and dissenters. There are always in power those who would abuse power, and there are always revolutionary minds. The revolutionary minds seem to always turn convention on its back. I guess it is the cyclical nature of life.
I am terrified, though, about our part in the cycle-specifically, our administration’s direction. (I voted to change our administration-Badnarik if you wonder) It is apparent that change is something a vote cannot always secure. We, in the US, are too wrapped up in the BS idea of a two party system. The GWB admin takes every opportunity to capitalize on fear and and then take freedom as the cost of secutity. Americans are watching freedom slip away, and the Iraqi’s understand that they are being duped.
Freedom is an individual idea. You can not lay prostrate to any state and have its whims declared law. You must face an adversary head on. The nation of Iraq wants the occupying force gone- I don’t blame them. Accepting the WASPs’ answer does not seem to appeal to some, and I agree. When you have to choose between a WASP and a hornet, what choice do you have? They are better to vote and deal with the outcome on their own.
Maybe I am an idealist, but I thought that I would write here and encourage discussion-I thought discussion would lead to wisdom. I am, apparently, a dumb-shit. Maybe nobody deserves freedom. Beside the people known in a few circles, there is a “kill the messenger” type attitude here. There are personal attacks rather than discussion. When you read a blog with the intent of spewing shit instead of learning, you do everyone a disservice. It is ok to attack an argument, if you use something real. To attack-personally- any person actually tears away at your own credibility. Is it only the extreme of the parties that post? If so, is it worth anyone’s time. I am here to learn and teach. We, of all people have an amazing opportunity to spread the “word” in a convenient, private manner. If any of us care about the future-our ideology doesn’t matter here- we would refrain from the personal attacks and stick to facts. If we kill each other with bullshit arguments, and attack each other on party line rather than real discourse, we all lose. Critical thought no longer exists. The bullshit that encouages only “extreme” ideas, creates an apathetic community. A community which does not care, has no incentive to change policy.
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, you should realize that you are the boss. I do. And I ask, “What have you done for me lately?” Is anyone else even asking that?
It has been kind of quiet here about Tookie Williams- I guess it is Hollywood’s cause du jour- but today we learned that the Governator will not. I have mixed emotions as I read this bit of news. When I was younger, and concerned more with fun than the very real abuses of authority, I would have thought that he should die. Tonight, as an adult, I think he should live. But, he should live without the chance of parole. He could, then, work on proving his innocence and remain non-threatening to society.
Here in the U.S., we once prided ourselves on dispensing justice fairly and wisely. An accused man would meet his accuser in court and be judged by a jury of his peers. If the accused was convicted, his peers would determine the punishment. That, of course, was before our “War on (fill in the blank)” mentality and mandatory sentencing. I understand that Tookie’s fate was decided before before Supreme Court cases, but it was after California’s That group was founded in 1977.
And we all know what happens when Americans are duped in the name of war. We have a “war on drugs”, “war on terror”, “war on poverty” and a “war on Christmas” going on right now. In the drug war, we have police falsifying evidence against the innocent. See Tulia, Texas and Dallas, Texas. Our war on terror brings up Gitmo . These are the things vexing me tonight. We have seen-over and over- what a little hysteria can do. And we have seen what the government will do to placate our worried souls.
Tookie Williams never admitted guilt. He has maintained (from the reports I read) consistent testimony. He was a co-founder of a notorious California street gang and he was brought to trial during a period of gang hysteria; with police having to make a bust to prove their worth. From what I could find, there is no conclusive evidence against the man. It seems to be circumstantial evidence of testimony from other crooks buying a way out of their own long sentences. The Turkish Press reports,
According to court documents, a former prisoner has testified that sheriff’s deputies fed incriminating evidence to a witness who testified against Williams at his 1981 murder trial, and forged Williams’ handwriting to create bogus evidence.
The fact thatAmerican immates prove innocent is not an anomaly. DNA evidence has many times led to justice for the wrongly accused. According to ,
…Another of the twenty-eight original cases was that involving a man named Rolando Cruz. In February 1983, a 10-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped, and bludgeoned to death. There were no leads in the case until an anonymous tip led the police to place Cruz under arrest on March 6, 1984. Rolando was still only under suspicion until he began to share details about the crime that came to him in “visions.” Based on this information, he was indicted on March 9, 1984, and was later found guilty of kidnapping, rape, and murder. This conviction was made based on several points stressed by the prosecution: 1) several police officers testified that Cruz made incriminating statements, 2) a number of witnesses testified that Cruz admitted to having intimate knowledge of the crimes, 3) the “dream visions” of the murder that plagued Rolando were admitted as evidence on the basis of the testimony of sheriff’s detectives, and 4) Cruz’s alibi was not aggressively pursued. Rolando went to jail and soon appealed his case. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Cruz was “denied a fair trial by reason of introduction of admissions of codefendants.” Another trial ensued, and Rolando was again convicted. Upon a third appeal, Cruz was sentenced yet again. After the third appeal, however, DNA evidence was introduced that cleared Cruz of matching the semen that was found at the crime scene. Rolando was set free after having served eleven years on death row.
We have had more than one hundred deathrow inmates exonerated based on DNA evidence. One is too many. To put a convicted criminal behind bars is one thing. For the innocent, deprivation of liberty is bad enough. For an imperfect system to take the life of an innocent is quite another thing. When Americans leave their “leaders” at the wheel, without the navigator of common sense and vigilant watch, we needlessly harm fellow humans as collateral damage.
Is Tookie innocent? I don’t know. I do know that based on what I have seen, between the reports of his case and other miscarriages of justice, I could not give death. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948), (attributed) And right now, blind is not something we can afford to be.
While jacking around online, I came across a site called Happy News. I tend to be a bit cynical about the world and thought perhaps I should check it out- you know, try to experience warm and fuzzy. I came across this article about US troops saving two cheetahs in Ethiopia and thought WTF? Before I am attacked as some asshole who hates animals I want to qualify the rest of this by saying I love animals as much as the next person and I believe that animal cruelty is reprehensible. That said, what are our troops doing rescuing animals across the world when they couldn’t rescue Katrina victims in a neighboring state? Some at the top levels of government think that it is perfectly acceptable to torture people, and we are rescuing tortured cats in Ethiopia? Priorities seem to be in bad order. Alas, no warm fuzzies today.
Exceptional customer service, a well run call center and a tidy profit to boot. Don’t all retailers, especially during Christmas, want the same thing? The DEA may haveone of the smartest entrepreneurs of our time –by accident. WCST-TV that NYPD learned about “The Cartoon Network” from surveillance set in place after a body was found in a delapidated New York neighborhood. This is not confirmed or denied by the USDOJ’s site.
Meet Mr. John Nebel. His product, marijuana, was illegal, but his business plan was good. He identified a market and supplied it in a manner that, without government surveillance, could have been considered discreet and convenient. He even thought up a catchy name for the venture, The Cartoon Network. He must have valued his
roadrunners couriers, because he paid them $200 a day. According to press releases, his business venture eventually went semi-legit. He started manufacturing the plastic viles that held the product. He reportedly named the company, “Acme Plastics.” His holiday retailing ended Monday when he was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking. According to the Department of Justice:
To date, the investigation has resulted in the seizure of $837,000 worth of marijuana and approximately $685,000 in cash. In addition, seven residences, located in Massapequa, Rosedale, Lynbrook, Ridgewood, and Brooklyn, New York, and 16 vehicles used to facilitate the organization’s drug distribution operations have been seized, along with thousands of vials packaged for holiday season delivery to customers with the greeting “Happy Holidays from Your Friends at Cartoon.”
At up to 600 calls a day, I imagine his holiday season was looking pretty happy. Until he was busted for providing a weed as common as mistletoe to an eager consumer.
While visiting the islands of our only mid-Pacific state last spring, I took up a sport new to me. Surfing. The rush of riding a wave is undescribable. It has become a minor addiction in the Shinghal house and we have made it a point to get away from our landlocked city to surf three times since April. Being novices, we do not really know the lingo, board brands or the major players in the game. However, there is a controversy this week that has board makers and riders talking the same language. Clark Foam, the company that has been perfecting the blanks for boardmakers since the 60’s, has locked its doors citing overzealous government regulation as a key reason. The EPA, the Orange County, CA Fire Authority and OSHA are all called on the carpet in a letter explaining his departure from the blank business. Gordon “Grubby” Clark said,
The way the government goes after places like Clark Foam is by an accumulation of laws, regulations, and subjective decisions they are allowed to use to express their intent. Essentially they remove your security, increase your risk or liability, and increase your costs. This makes the closing of Clark Foam and similar manufacturing and accumulation of issues and not a single issue. They simply grind away until you either quit or they find methods of bringing serious charges or fines that force you to close.
He pointed out an ugliness of our litigious society by saying,
Our official safety record as an employer is not very good. We have three ex-employees on full Workman’s Compensation disability — evidently for life. There is another claim being made by the widow of an employee who dies from cancer. According to the claim chemicals and resins at Clark Foam caused the cancer. A few years ago we had one of those horror stories one hears about lawyers. Almost $4,00,000 in lawyers fees and the ex-employee suing Clark Foam got $17,000. The Judge in the lawsuit advised me “this is just the cost of doing business (in California).”
I’m sorry, three long term disability claims in forty years? That doesn’t seem excessive to me. But maybe I am practical. I think that it is evident – even if you are not libertarian – that regulation is about to wipe out an entire industry. I think that Mr. Clark sums it up nicely,
“When Clark Foam was started it was a far different California,” Clark wrote. “Businesses like Clark Foam were very welcome and considered the leading edge of innovation and technology. Somewhere along the way things have changed.”
You can say that again, Grubby.
UPDATE by Stephen Gordon: Reminds me of a book I once read.
Alright, already. We at HoT (and apparently many others in the blogosphere), are having a laugh at VanDyke’s post, ” If Corky from Life Goes On was a PolBlogger — and rightfully so. BUT, let’s look at it from a point of not only fun agreement, but reality. We are all guilty, especially blog newbies, of posting something dumb. Yesterday, VanDyke helped a half-thought of mine become whole, by pointing out facts I rushed through. I do not know if any of you read Karen R.’s posts dated earlier than the most recent, but it appears to me that she is a teen with a baby. She mentions being unable to vote in the most recent election due to hospitalization due to childbirth. (see blog dated 9/22) Looking at the site, I was immediately reminded of a movie moment. Remember the scene in “Good Will Hunting” in which the the Harvard B School student is shown up by Matt Damon’s character? The “janitor” not only breaks the B school argument, but goes on to say that the student will change his opinion when he reads something new.
Under current education requirements, students are encouraged to regurgitate lectures. We might consider ourselves lucky that there is a young person out there- one who likely came out of a “free speech is not always ok atmosphere” who actually risks coming across a dumbshit. I say that we inundate her email address with articles of quality. Perhaps by reading things of substance, she might write something of substance.
All the freedoms taken away, all the money spent. Guess you can’t protect.
I admit my first thought was that this would end up being some confusion stemming from a language barrier. It will be interesting to watch this unfold. I do wonder why a man wouldafter the plane landed and parked at the jetway.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: For the lazy readers, the juicy part:
A witness said that the man frantically ran down the aisle of the Boeing 757 and that a woman with him said he was mentally ill.
The passenger, who indicated there was a bomb in the bag, was confronted by air marshals but ran off the aircraft, Doyle said.
The marshals pursued and ordered the passenger to get on the ground, but the man did not comply and was shot when apparently reaching into the bag, Doyle said. Authorities did not immediately say whether any bomb was found.
Crowded airport terminal, there’s gotta be a firsthand blogged account of this.
Oh, and who wouldn’t run away from a bag that had a bomb in it after telling an air marshall? Woops, looks like he decided to be a moron and take a jog with the bag. The shooting is a little more understandable now.
Another update by Stephen VanDyke: Remember the last time a South American guy didn’t cooperate with police and was shot dead (London)? Innocent…
Might want to reserve judgement on this one until all the facts are told.
It seems that America is not really trying to bring our idea of freedom to Iraq. In the United States (at least as I type this) even child molestors get to face the youngest accusers in court. But in Iraq, witnesses have the luxury of voice disguises and screens to.
As reported by the Associated Press,
The measures taken to preserve the first witness’ anonymity complicated the testimony. At first, defense attorneys complained they could not hear her because of the voice distortion. The judge then ordered the voice modulator shut off, but then the audience could not hear at all, so Amin ordered a recess, and the modulator was fixed, allowing all to hear.
Here in the states, our right to face our accuser is protected by Amendment VI. In Iraq
Witnesses have the option of not having their identities revealed as a security measure to protect them against reprisals by Saddam loyalists.
I am not suggesting that I view Saddam as anything but a monster- after all, many atrocities were commited in public view. This is supposed to be a trial though, and the fundamentals of a fair hearing include the right of the defendant to meet his accuser.
I am still in Bangkok and I am enjoying a quiet moment. Jet lag has the rest of the family in bed and I am feeling a bit homesick. To combat that ache, I opened www.dallasnews.com and went to my normal starting point- the Op-Ed page. Sunday’s letters section is always grouped by subject matter, and of late, there is a whole “An army of asses led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by an ass.” I think this may accurately reconcile the opposing ideas of support for the troops and disdain for the commander’s cause. I never did find the quote I was looking for- I was asked to register for the site and thought that time may be better spent taking advantage of the free mini bar. As I enjoy Thailand’s brew, I will be thinking of our lions. May they have an ass for dinner soon.dealing with patriotism and the war. I remembered a George Washington quote and thought to look it up- I wanted to share what I felt reading it years ago. I found much wisdom (as well as contradiction) attributed to Washington, but came across a quote that I did not remember.
It appears that Bret Chenkin, a high school English teacher, wishes to do his part to be sure no child is left behind. He is under fire for giving students a vocabthat poked fun of the nation’s president. An example question reads, “I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes.” “Coherent” is the right answer.
Kudos to him for incorporating vocabulary, current events and humor in a single quiz.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: The Moderate Voice , saying “Simply put, we’re supposed to get both sides when we’re learning, especially in high school. We can’t be objective if the knowledge is unequal.”
If public school teachers will bash Republicans and Democrats equally, this would be a moot issue.
Larissa came home tonight and told me that they were instructed to recite the Pledge of Allegience today at school. She said they had not been required, before today, to participate. She stood as instructed, but did not hold her hand over her heart or speak out loud. Her reason? “The pledge” means nothing today. She said that she did not feel like the patriotic intent was there. We spent some time discussing whether patriotism was to be loyal to a country, or if it was truly an inclination to be loyal to the individual self while protecting the freedom of another’s inclination. She explained that requiring the pledge has dulled its meaning. She, of course, knows that “under God” was not originally written, and she knows that America is very far from the spirit which inspired the words. She acted, in my opinion, very much as she should. She was contemplative and she dug deep into her own thoughts to determine why she would be required to recite words for good measure. She wondered why her pledge rather than her acts would make her a good person; an American. She questioned authority-respectfully. She questioned her role and she broke from the herd.
Wow, this takes the cake. A script has to bebecause a crazed member of the audience did not like a cigarette lighted as a play prop?
Arghhhh, I cannot think clearly enough to post — I am still regurgitating this tripe. I am truly sorry to Italy, a country that serves delicious tripe. (A Tuscan delight.)
If the intent of one especially law abiding member of the audience becomes the norm, we will no longer see a sword in The Count of Monte Christo. Tripe, has lost its appeal.
All this Katrina coverage is especially important to me. I spent most of my life in a New Orleans suburb and all of my family is still there. Thankfully, they are doing well and lost very little. I came across out of their misery.and felt compelled to write about it. It seems that in the chaos of being left on their own during Katrina, some NOLA doctors allegedly discussed putting terminally ill patients
My sister is a nursing home director in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. I talked to her and even took in her child while she put the evacuation of 250 patients ahead of her own safety. I know first hand the desperation that she felt scrambling to get food when they ran out, her concern about caring for patients in the dark. I was able to speak to her for a second and heard the winds howling outside and the fear inside. And she was in a safe zone. Her evacuation was successful. I cannot imagine what it would have been like stuck in NOLA with terminally ill patients and no resources to help them. I think I can see how the topic of easing one’s pain came up.
I asked a doctor I know his opinion on the matter. I hear him say daily sometimes you are saving life and sometimes simply prolonging the death experience. I asked him if he would have considered using the syringe for these patients. He almost bit my head off when he said no. He did add that he wasn’t necessarily opposed to easing pain with a little more morpine than needed, but he would be afraid of the legal problems that would come about. In our society, it is murder to assist in the death process and unfortunately, circumstance, quality of life, and even the patient’s wishes aren’t even considered.
Perhaps instead of an investigation of the area’s caregivers, Louisiana should turn the focus inward. Perhaps they can determine which state agency’s incompetence contributed to the death of Memorial Medical Center’s patients. Self-reflection is more diffucult that pointing your finger somewhere else, but it is definitely worth it in the end.
She may be after school today.
Judges on the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited Prince v. Massachusetts while ruling that parents do not have the sole right to determine when their children are exposed to sex.
Palmdale School District, in California,from the parents of 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders to allow participation in a survey. The stated purpose of the survey was to guage early trauma and help overcome learning difficulties.
Well if there was no trauma before, there certainly may have been after. These young students were asked sexual questions about “having sex feelings in my body” and “touching my private parts too much.” Beside the obvious fact of the subject matter being age in-appropriate, where is the outrage over the state claiming the right to raise your child?
In a culture of corporate welfare, do we really need to have an inquiry on profit? Americans think that big bad oil was gouging them at the pumps during hurricanes Katrina and Rita? I only had to look around my office to see why the price went up. It is a little concept called supply and demand. I literally watched people top off their gas tanks daily. By the time I got to Costco to fill my empty tank, there was no gas. And this was not in a coastal city dealing with evacuation- this was Dallas. Do you know what I didn’t see? I did not see any complainers modifying their own fuel consumption.
We all have choices. I have three cars in my garage. My favorite gets about 14 mpg. If there is a cell phone yapping ass in the left lane doing 50, and I have to pass him angrily at 100 to make a point, I might get 8 mpg. I choose to drive that car daily and therefore choose to fill up at Costco twice weekly. And I pay what the market dictates. No inquiry needed.