Congratulations, Alabama

Alabama seems to have narrowly avoided national shame today by not electing the Ayatollah of Alabama to the U.S. Senate.  News of the result in the Alabama special election was a relief with an aftertaste of hope.   Negative campaigning and bullying alone may not carry the day right now in American elections.    We’ve all had a long look at the results when the most adept at innuendo and insult attain high office.  Unaccountable, unqualified people in office, incompetent stewards of our resources and rights, doing a bad job.

Congratulations to Senator-elect Doug Jones, congratulations to the voters of Alabama.   Congratulations to the Alabama Election Commission for integrity and to the Alabama Secretary of State for not suppressing the vote to the extent that a fundamentalist Christian thug, twice removed from the bench by his fellow judges in Alabama for flagrant contempt of the Constitution, could be elected to represent you in Washington, D.C..  As I write this, with all 67 counties reporting, the projected margin of victory is less than 2%, currently less than 21,000 votes.  This one has been a squeaker.  It turns out the GOP was right to try to suppress black and Latino votes:  Jones got virtually all of the votes that “minorities” were able to cast in Alabama.  Moore had 70% of the white vote, naturally enough.

In a defense related to Moore’s dismissal of accusations by women he creeped out when they were teenagers, and he an adult assistant district attorney, I think Mike Huckabee’s daughter, the press secretary who replaced Sean Spicer, said it all yesterday in her defense of Donald Trump in the face of renewed allegations of unwanted sexual contact brought by now nineteen women.   It underscored the Trump/Moore lawless approach to governing and the rule of law.  She said, in essence: “y’all voted him into office and the question of if he did or did not years ago grope those women who are accusing him again now is irrelevant.”   Following her, eh, logic, I guess the fact that Moore was defeated means those women weren’t lying about his unwanted sexual attention when they were in high school.

I was delighted to find a complete transcript of the recent press conference where this issue was discussed fully provided on whitehouse.gov.

A grateful thank you to the Trump administration for this unexpected and very welcome example of full government transparency.  I wish the policies of Obama and Cheney had been anywhere near this transparent: 

Francesca.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward today against the President.  They first were on a television show and then they were at a press conference.  And they said that he should resign, and then also that there should be a congressional investigation.  And I know that you’ve said that this has already been litigated in the last election, but I wanted to get your specific reaction to this idea that there should be a congressional investigation into this.

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations. [1]  And this took place long before he was elected to be President. [2]   And the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump [3] , and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process [4].

Kristen.

MS. SANDERS:  Sarah, thank you.  I want to follow up on that.  But first, a little bit of breaking news we just learned about:  The Pentagon apparently will now allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1st.  Your reaction to that?  And any follow-up action you’re going to take?

MS. SANDERS:  Yeah, as of right now, they’re simply complying with a court order and preparing to implement a previous policy to remain in compliance.  The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the legal options to ensure that the President’s directive can be implemented.  [5]

And for anything further and any specifics on both of those matters, I’d refer you to the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.

Q    Okay, and one follow-up —

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry, Mara.

Q    One follow-up very quickly on — just very quickly, Sarah.

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry, Kristen.  Mara, go ahead.

Q    Can I just ask you about Nikki Haley’s comments saying that the President —

MS. SANDERS:  Mara, go ahead.

Q    I’ll pick that up for you, Kristen.

MS. SANDERS:  She’s going to pick it up for you.

Q    Nikki Haley, as I’m sure you know, said, when asked does the election mean that’s a settled issue — which you’ve been arguing from the podium here — she said, “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them,” specifically referring to the accusers of the President.  Does the President agree with her?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as the President said himself, he thinks it’s a good thing that women are coming forward, but he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn’t determine the course.  And, in this case, the President has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses.  And several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the President’s claim in this process.  [6]

And again, the American people knew this and voted for the President, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process.

Q    But he thinks it’s a good thing that the women who accused him are coming forward now, again?

MS. SANDERS:  The President has said that it’s a good thing for women to be able to feel comfortable in coming forward, generally speaking.  [7]

Jacqueline.

Q    I just want to go off of that, Sarah.  But the President told Howard Stern in 2005 that he had walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that.  Is that not an admission of sexual harassmen

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has spoken about this directly.  I don’t have anything further to add on the process.

Q    And the American public —

MS. SANDERS:  We’re going to do one question today, guys, to move around.

Q    Two ISIS attacks in New York City — or ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City just recently.  Is the President concerned that there is a growing threat against people inspired by ISIS who have been radicalized online?

 

[1]  Trump responded that all the women telling similar stories about him are liars, threatened to sue all of them in court, claimed he never even met most of them and scoffed that half of the ones he did meet were dogs he’d never dream of trying to stick a finger up, the thought itself being repellant to him.    

[2]  And that matters why?

[3]  An election Trump lost by almost 3,000,000 votes and won by a razor thin 70,000 strategically placed votes in five key states that garnered an Electoral College margin of victory.

[4]  Sarah, how does the process of this narrow, brilliantly calculated and executed Electoral College victory have any relation to the question of whether or not Trump did what he boasted of?   Nineteen women tell similar stories about a groping, molesting person entirely consistent with the Boor-in-Chief’s public persona.   What does his magically narrow Electoral College defeat of an intensely disliked opponent have to do with whether he forced himself on these women?  

[5]  This item, while offered mainly to change the subject, means that Trump’s petulant, sensationalist tweet about banning transgender persons for the U.S. Armed Forces was just another impulsive presidential tweet and that there will be no change to existing law on the military’s policy of allowing transgender enlistment.

[6]  What on earth does this actually mean, Sarah?  Was Trump himself the eye witness who corroborates that he didn’t do what the women said he did?

[7] Although all the women who had accused him were, in fact, complete liars trying to cause irreparable harm to his good name, nasty women he promised to sue in court for defamation,  plus, he never met them, or if he did, most of them were dogs he wouldn’t molest with a ten foot poll.

 

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Alabama’s Voter ID Law

There is an ongoing federal lawsuit in Alabama, brought by the NAACP and others, over restrictive voter ID laws in the state that the plaintiffs claim are voter suppression measures disproportionately targeting black and Latino citizens.   Here is a short description of the lawsuit from the Alabama Public Radio website (in other news, did you know W.C. Handy is known worldwide as the Father of the Blues?)

Here are legal papers from the lawsuit itself, plaintiffs responding to the Alabama Secretary of State’s motion to have the case dismissed for lack of triable issues of fact.

Trial was set for September 11, 2017, according to the APR piece, but it seems the trial is now set for February, 2018.  Oh well.  Here is a recent op-ed by a guy who heads a church group fighting the Alabama voter suppression measures.  He does not even mention Alabama’s closure of more than thirty DMV offices where many voters could have secured the newly required photo IDs.   Nor the closure of some voting sites in majority black and hispanic precincts.  

Fortunately we live in a land of law, (he said sardonically).   Here is one shining example of the Supreme law of the land in the land of law we live in:

When a man has emerged from slavery, and by the aid of beneficent legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws, and when his rights as a citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected.

(from the Civil Rights Cases, 1883)

You may have to wait ninety years or so for your taste of justice, as these special favorites of the law had to, starting 18 years after the end of the Civil War, but doesn’t that just make it taste sweeter? 

(Rhetorical question, no answer required.)

In a closely contested election, the more votes of your opponent you can cause not to be cast, the better your chance of a narrow victory you can call a mandate.   It’s tempting to say, looking at some of the in-your-face racist bullshit that puts on the finery of American law in our great post-racial society, that this country is doomed.  Think about it, though.  We are probably no more doomed than the rest of the world that the powerful psychopaths at the helm are so heedless about destroying. 

They’re doing a hell of a job, Brownie, hell of a job.

Just for Fun

You’ve got to love these top ten lists.  America is into rankings, big time.   Our entire culture is based on competition and the myth of the big, happy winner and the pathetic, miserable loser.   The competition is not always fair, admittedly, and the rankings are not always accurate or verifiable, but let’s play a little game I just thought up (instead of jumping out of my skin, my only other option at the moment.)

Bear in mind that these rankings were reported in that notorious Commie rag Forbes (note how their “rankings” diverge from the alleged source of the article — check out the sad case of Colorado, for example [1]), so take that into consideration when playing, but play the game along with us anyway, it’s fun in a sick way.  We’re seeing how the top ten in education and the bottom ten in education cast their votes in the 2016 Electoral College.

Ranking the states for educational attainment, based on some formula you can read about in the linked Forbes piece, you get the top ten (one to ten) according to Forbes:  Massachusetts, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, Minnesota, Washington, New Jersey.   Their votes in the Electoral College equal 90.   

The bottom ten are (bottom to top):  West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nevada, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma.  These states represent a total of 104 Electoral College votes, Texas with an outsized 38.   

Top ten best educated states?  All ninety electors went to that nasty woman, loser Hillary Clinton.

Bottom ten worst educated states?  98 of those 104 Electoral College votes went to America’s greatest winner, and the most popular president in human history, Donald J. Trump. 

Only Nevada with its six electors bet against the former casino tycoon, fucking up the wonderful symmetry of this diverting game.

Here’s the 2016 electoral college map, if you want to fill out the rest of the board.  

Thanks for playing, y’all.

 

[1]  Colorado is either #3 or #14, depending on whether you believe Forbes or the report by an outfit called Wallethub that its article is based on. 

 

A Note About the Power of Words

This point hardly needs belaboring– what you call something matters, often very much.   For example, the phrase “sexual harassment” did not even exist until fairly recently when female lawyers coined it and began advocating for laws against it.  Before that time, unless a woman had been raped, or subjected to other forcible sexual contact, in front of witnesses, she had little to no legal recourse for something like a “male chauvinist” boss caressing her ass over her skirt, complimenting her breasts while licking his lips, pressing against her, perhaps even sliding his grubby hand down her shirt and kissing her.  Threatening to fire her, or actually firing her, if she objected to him continuing to do all these things, and other things too, wink, wink — no harm, eh, no word for the harm, no foul!  LOL!

There was not even a word for these still common little practices, they were, until some time in the late 1970s, 80s or 90s, something the law considered de minimis, and, as we all know, de minimis non curat lex.   The law don’t make laws against things we don’t even have a word for, sob sisters.  Ah, for them good old days when America was still great.

We can all rattle off phrases that were created at great expense to shape political discourse — if we can apply that term, which implies a reasoned back and forth conversation, to American politics.   Death Tax, Death Panels, Right to Life, Tax and Spend, Enhanced Interrogation, Right to Work, States’ Rights, Special Rendition, AUMF, Signature Strike, Collateral Damage, Friendly Fire, Climate Change Skeptic, Intelligent Design, Birtherism, blah blah blah.   

Here’s one that just got to me, hearing a discussion about so-called evangelical Christians who support an Alabama bigot running for the Senate in a special election.  This candidate claims it was God’s vengeance on American sodomites and blasphemers what caused the attacks of 9/11/01, though he hates Muslims too, and believes his fervor for the teachings of Jesus trumps any direct order of the U.S. Supreme Court, even in executing his duties as an Alabama Supreme Court justice.   He was twice removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, by his fellow Alabama state judges, for unrepentant contempt of court orders. [1] Like the affable idiot Dubya, he takes his orders from a higher father.  Law and Order, yo, as he waves his wife’s little gun at a campaign rally and the audience erupts in applause.  

Anyway, the word that got to me, as much as the fucking f-word, or the n-word itself (let’s all agree to ban the hateful word, shall we, instead of honestly dealing with its long, ugly history and ongoing American legacy) was Democrat.  We now have Republican values and Democrat values, the Republicans are no longer ceding the adjective “democratic” to the party that spawned the Klan while they, the Party of Lincoln, were fighting to abolish the Peculiar Institution. 

Note that subtle, but strong, implication of saying “Democrat” values instead of “Democratic”.  No more moral high ground for you, motherfuckers.  Note that we hardly even notice it at this point, the usage has become ubiquitous.  It was not in wide use until fairly recently.  There was always the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate, the latter could also be called the Democrat, as opposed to the Republican.  But the D-word’s use has expanded, it seems to me.  It is used in its noun form, weaponized as an adjective, in a pejorative sense, often not undeservedly so, mind you.  It is generally spoken with a southern inflection, think of George Dubya Bush saying it, leaning derisively on that last syllable, Demo-CRAT.   It can be tastefully followed by a well-aimed lunger into the old brass spittoon, for emphasis.   

Words matter, sure, but if you say ’em right, you can make a polite word  just as potent as a darned fighting word, an ‘invitation to exchange fisticuffs’ as the fancy pants on the Supreme Court styled it.  Say the “n-word” with the right emphasis, boy, and it’s as good as using the old one, “nigger”, a word that will get you fired now faster than you can say Jack Robinson.  That was another of them politically correct, liberal Democrat triumphs, taking the castrating shears to our cherished vernacular.  How you like your damned n-word now, n-word?

Alabama Republicans can only thank the good Lord that nobody has a tape recording or video of Roy Moore saying the “n-word” for real.  Y’all would still have to double down and vote for him, but it would be a much harder pull than just against a handful of fifty-something year-old women claiming Moore felt them up when they were teenagers.   He said he asked their mamas every time, before he gave ’em a ride in his car and started sweet talkin’ ’em.   Plus, how come, if there was any truth to these anti-Christian lies at all, they didn’t start defaming his Honor’s good name with this forty years ago?

He’s the Law and Order candidate, unlike that one the Democrat party is running, Doug Jones.  All Jones ever did is prosecute some old men who, when they were young, blew up some little colored girls in a church.  If Alabama can keep enough coloreds from voting tomorrow, Moore has a fair shot at becoming Alabama’s next U.S. Senator.  The Supreme Court itself said we now live in a post-racial society where coloreds are done being the “special favorites of the law.” [2]  No need to enforce the Voting Rights Act down there, Lord no, as the Roberts Court so ruled.  Do not insult our honor, sir! 

States rights, except when it comes to carrying my concealed handgun in Times Square and all over the liberal states that hate the Second Amendment, to make sure it’s ready to fire at bad guys with guns.  And, of course, when it comes to federal action against the most dangerous and evil drug the world has ever known– marijuana.  Oh, yeah, and Monsanto selling its toxic agricultural products wherever it wants and fuck the wishes of local fucking hippies.

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow, Alabama.  You may be number 44 (out of 50) in educational attainment in the U.S. for 2017, but there are still six states with worse outcomes for students (though five out of the six voted for Trump too).   Surprise us, Alabama.

 

[1] how he crawled back to his Chief Justice post after the first time, I have to check out some time, though I suspect the good, white, Republican Christians of Alabama re-elected him.

[2] This phrase is from a famous 1883 Supreme Court ruling in the mischievously named Civil Rights Cases that decided the former slaves no longer needed federal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and the legislation passed to enforce it.  The 8-1 decision, written by long-winded racist douchebag Justice Joseph P.  Bradley, contains this immortal paragraph which was, for the better part of a century, the law of this great nation, back when we were still great:

When a man has emerged from slavery, and by the aid of beneficent legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws, and when his rights as a citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected. There were thousands of free colored people in this country before the abolition of slavery, enjoying all the essential rights of life, liberty, and property the same as white citizens; yet no one, at that time, thought that it was any invasion of their personal status as freemen because they were not admitted to all the privileges enjoyed by white citizens, or because they were subjected to discriminations in the enjoyment of accommodations in inns, public conveyances, and places of amusement. Mere discriminations on account of race or color were not regarded as badges of slavery….

read a more detailed account of this immortal piece of jurisprudence, including Justice John Harlan’s forward-looking dissent  here

Please continue to hold

‘You would have loved this shit, dad.  Now that we all have cell phones, in our pocket or charging next to the bed while we sleep, you get calls around the clock from companies you do business with,’ I told the skeleton of my father.   

“That’s the American way, Elie,” said the skeleton brightly.  “The business of America is business, and you can take that to the bank.”   

Yah, mon, 9:30 a.m. Saturday I got another call from the Internet Service Provider that has a monopoly in my neighborhood.  I had two more today, with important news about my internet account.

“Courtesy calls, Elie,” said the skeleton,  “Jesus, you’d complain if you were hung with a new rope.” 

I know, I know.  Anyway, they’ve called six or seven times the last few days.  I figured there might be some problem with the robot that processed my most recent payment, plus a ten dollar late fee, not on my bill, that the robot had informed me was imposed.

“A brand new rope, Elie, and here you  are bitching…” 

It’s my way, dad.   Anyway, the folks at Speculum were much faster than the Student Loan people, whose recording thanked me over and over for being such an important customer and read me information about how to pay them while reminding me that all of their representatives were still busy helping other customers.   

“Jesus, Elie, the problems of the living are tedious….” 

I’m hip.  Anyway, it was only five minutes and thirty-nine seconds before the Oklahoma Student Loan servicing corporation put a human on the line.   

“You actually timed it, you petty, seconds counting bastard?”   

The phone times it automatically, it’s right on the screen while you’re listening to muzak and ads and being thanked for your time and politely reminded to please hold, that all representatives are currently still busy helping other customers. 

“The technology truly is amazing,” said the skeleton. “I can’t tell you how fascinating all this is to a dead man.”    The skeleton turned to watch two squirrels leaping after each other in the dead leaves. 

“At least they didn’t refer to you as a ‘guest’, like at so many retail establishments now.”   

I used to say, ‘if I’m a guest how come you’re trying to take money from me?  Not a very gracious host, is Bed Bath and Beyond?’.  In the beginning it got a smile from the cashier, by now it’s just a stony expression and the predictable, deadpan “credit or debit?” 

“May I help the next guest?” said the skeleton. 

Yeah, so anyway, the guy at Speculum was quick to pick up.  He asked my name, which I spelled.

“A last name unique in the United States, at least as far as Social Security is concerned.  That was verified by  your uncle Paul Widem, my brother, and long-time Washington D.C. government insider.  You can remind your readers that ‘Widaen’ was mistakenly written on my birth certificate, it was an invention coined by a nurse at the hospital with the nodded approval of her collaborator, the illiterate patient, my mother.  It became my name, and later our nuclear family name, only once I got into the army.” 

Yeah, true.  So, anyway, I spell the name for him and he types it in.  Then he says ‘do you have an account with Speculum?’

“I have to admit, this is even more interesting than watching the leaves turn color,” the skeleton of my father said, pointing up to the tree over his grave, stretching out limbs and branches bare of leaves.   

I read the kid my account number and he tells me…

“That you’ve received a series of courtesy calls, dear guest?” 

Close.  That because I am such a loyal customer Speculum has been calling me around the clock to reward me with a special promotion.   

“Ah!” said the skeleton. 

I tell the kid, listen, I don’t have a land line or a television set, so I don’t need phone or cable service.  I’d appreciate being taken off the promotions list for these bundles.   Then, because I’d just spent ten minutes getting  useless and incomplete information about the repeated courtesy calls from the private Student Loan servicing corporation (they hadn’t yet received the payment I sent last week, had no record that I need to immediately re-certify my income to stay on the new income-driven repayment plan), I couldn’t help myself.   

“That’s my boy,” said the skeleton, “chip off the old crock.”

I told the kid the CEO of Speculum makes $98,000,000 a year, highest paid CEO in the U.S., and that all of the unionized technicians are still on strike, that Speculum, which has a monopoly in my area, has raised my rates every single year so that I am now paying almost double my “promotional” rate from three years ago, plus a brand new 25% late fee if you pay after a due date that does not appear on your invoice.   

“Fair is fair, Elie, they have a monopoly, what are they supposed to do?  Give you a break, sucker?”

One of us born every minute, dad.   Anyway, the kid tells me he’s sorry for all the calls about the promotion and that he’ll take my name off the promotions list.  Then he informs me it will take up to thirty days for the calls and letters to stop. 

“Is there no end to this courtesy call, Elie?” the skeleton said.

Yeah, that’s it.   

“So this was just a courtesy call?” said the skeleton.

Basically, yeah.  No action on your part is required.  However, if you wish to take action, we couldn’t care less, knock yourself out, be our guest. 

“Action-taking knave,” said the skeleton. 

I wouldn’t dream of taking action, dad. 

“No you wouldn’t, that’s the last thing you’d dream of,” said the skeleton, “now, if you’ll please excuse me, Elie, I have to take some action — get back to my nap here in my eternal dirt bad.”

Pleasant dreams. 

“Zzzzzzz….” said the skeleton, with exaggerated fatigue.

When a Bad Dream Really Sucks

Short answer:  when it is too close for comfort, it wakes you and prevents you from getting the rest of your badly needed sleep. 

Went to bed tired a few hours ago, quickly fell into a deep sleep, had this dream, that actually woke me, after less than an hour blissfully unconscious.  It is two, maybe three, hours later, I haven’t been able to get back to sleep.   The dream:

I was in a restaurant, it was late at night.  It was a huge place, virtually empty.  I ordered a vegetarian steak sandwich.  In real life, I haven’t knowingly eaten meat (apologies to the occasional sea creature) in at least seven years (except once, maybe five years back, when politeness obliged me to eat a small amount of chicken in a curry my host had prepared for me — the one pot dinner he made for his family and me that night–  there was no avoiding the finely chopped chicken).

The waiter brought the large open-faced sandwich on a platter and left without making eye contact or saying a word.  In fact, I never even saw the waiter’s face.   I studied the very realistic looking steak, which seemed to be uncooked.  It was cool to the touch.  The other face of the sandwich was definitely sliced turkey and something that looked like ham.   I waited for the waiter, who was nowhere to be seen, so that I could exchange this for what I had ordered.

I eventually wound up carrying the plate around the empty restaurant, unable to get the attention of anyone who worked there.  The place was deserted.  I scanned a menu looking for what I had actually ordered.   There was no vegetarian steak sandwich on the menu.   I found another menu, completely different from the first, and began searching it.  I saw yet another completely different menu on a nearby counter and began to lose hope. 

As I waited with a dish I would not eat, it became clear that I was in the kind of restaurant where you fucking take what they serve you, eat it, pay and shut the fuck up.   You also leave a nice tip, if you know what’s good for you.   

Waking from that all too realistic dream, in a chilled room, with about 28% of the bed available to me, and unable to get comfortable, the new line of stitches down the side of my nose, covered with a jerry-rigged dressing over a corrosive antibiotic salve (learned how like battery acid it is the hard way, painfully blinded and desperately groping in the shower) starting one millimeter from my left tear duct, on the side of my face usually against the pillow, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was still in a booth at that accursed restaurant.   Rattling the keys here has made me no more optimistic about falling asleep if I manage to secure a bit of the bed when I crawl back in it. 

I am wearing fleece pants, socks, slippers, a fleece lined shirt, a hat and a fleece jacket with the hood pulled up.  It’s not a matter of being cold at the moment.  Though, at the same time, I’m not exactly toasty.   Even the Baron was happy to nap under a three or four layer cape today, even wearing Sekhnet’s fake fur vest as a Liberace-style cape for a while. It’s chilly in here, yo.   Although, admittedly, it did give the dying cat a bit more pep today, when he was not sleeping on his perch above the radiator or doing his Liberace imitation huddled under a warm pile of capes.

It was too hot for days, sauna-like, and the cat looked wilted, was very sluggish.  Now it’s too cold, since the temperature outside dipped into proper winter range just as Sekhnet climbed up on a step ladder and propped a large screen in a window she opened, a window that is behind bars,  bars that have a variety of things hanging from them.     

Theoretically, I could open that gate, climb up on a ladder and take the large screen out of the upper window, close the window, hang everything back on it, and the room would eventually warm up.  But I’d have to turn on the lights, take down everything hanging from the bars, wake Sekhnet in the process, ignore the surgeon’s advice by lifting, and toting, exerting, forcing blood to my face.   

Jesus, what am I talking about?  I’m still asleep, still in that dream, holding a plate of meat served by a faceless waiter to a vegetarian customer who is left with one choice, eat what’s been served or shut the fuck up about being hungry.   

It reminds me of the dilemma of the would-be satirist, living in the Age of Trump and fucking Roger Stone.   All roads lead back to these larger than life cocksuckers, no conversation can long avoid at least a mention of our current giant, angry, attention craving two year-old president. 

I see fucking Roger Stone’s face, as he promised a reporter recently that if anyone tries to remove Trump from office, for any reason, there will be blood in the streets.   Trump’s people have guns, he assures us, as is their God-given right under the Second Amendment, and they will not hesitate to use those guns, if it comes to it.  And we all know what the other side is like, fucking animals, and they all have guns too.  Stone warns of a blood bath, not that he’s advocating it, mind you, he’s just saying’, just putting it out there. 

I watch the psychopathic Stone, as much as any single individual, responsible, along with his former partner Paul Manafort, for the current lobbyist-led negative campaigning black and white wedge issue kick ’em hard in the balls and destroy your opponents nightmare American politics we have today.   A political predator, and a psychopath. 

I see that fucking smirking, supremely confident face and realize, with a smile that is painful to smile, particularly at this ungodly hour when my eyes are almost crossing with exhaustion, the sun creeping up behind me, that someone just like him owns the fucking restaurant where I am forced to wander endlessly with a plate of cold meat I did not order.   

I was prepared to say to the Orthodox Jewish nephrologist the other day, after the third or fourth time he demonstrated he is something of a distracted, imperious putz:  Doctor, Ha Shem (God) does not make a person a mensch, it is left up to each of us to be a mensch or not.   But as I was holding a plate of human entrails, and a fork, as I sat in his office the other day, with a napkin across my lap, I thought: ah, fuck it, I just won’t leave him the full 20% tip.

Note to Rick L. in Chicago

I had a “follow” the other day from a reader/writer named Rick, a person who suffers from a sitting disability.  I read the well-written description of the problem and wanted to write an email, or leave a comment, but, outside of Social Media (aside from this blahg I am decidedly anti-social as far as Twitter, FaceBook and their intrusive intimacy-destroying, democracy-corrupting ilk go), there was no way to get back in touch with Rick L.  Sekhnet, a genius, suggested I write this post.  Hi, Rick.

Your sitting disability, unbearable pain when sitting for any length of time, will be familiar to my friend Rick in Poland,  who has made a religion of regular breaks from his desk to walk and stretch many times a day.   I read about your many attempts to cure the lumbago and sciatica — or even get an accurate medical diagnosis — and kept having only one thought:  Dr. John Sarno. 

Sarno recently died at a ripe old age, but he had a long (and controversial) career helping countless people who came to him in crippling pain (often related to the spine) who could not otherwise get relief or even a helpful medical diagnosis.   I have a post about Sarno here, which you can read as an intro.  I’ve heard (from your namesake Rick) that Sarno’s final book is an excellent source of his theory and practice.   

In a nutshell, Sarno found that much crippling pain of the kind described in Sitting Disability is the result of what he termed TMS, Tension Myoneural Syndrome.  The pain of TMS is the result of oxygen deprivation to the affected muscles and nerves.  TMS is a psychic defense mechanism, the body creates terrible physical pain to mask equally unbearable psychic pain.  Sarno found little correlation between crippling back pain and physical damage to the spine;  patients with TMS sometimes had relatively undamaged spines while patients with herniated discs and otherwise damaged spines sometimes experienced little or no pain.

I find Sarno’s work, which deals with the underlying psychological causes of TMS (which is very real pain), very convincing.  It is certainly worth checking out, especially since you’ve explored virtually every other cure imaginable.  The connection between mind and body is more and more understood today, even as the surgical and pharmaceutical industries continue to dismiss it as hokum.   

Sekhnet also recommends hatha yoga, the gentle daily stretching of all the muscles in the body.  She had relief from terrible chronic back and shoulder pain when she did yoga every morning.  Reminds me, I ought to get up now and stretch my back!

I’ve also heard that regular swimming is excellent therapy for sciatica.   A friend’s mother credited swimming a few times a week, in conjunction with working with John Sarno, for ending her long bout of sciatica.

Good luck with it, Rick, and let me know how it goes if you decide to check out Sarno’s ideas.