The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Friday, June 15, 2007

SCOTUS Kicks Open the Union-Busting Door

I subscribe to opposition newsletters, and reading through the various (generic) Right Wing hatespeak that spewed forth with my morning mail, I came across a link to this:

High Court Upholds Curb on Political Use of Union Fees

By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 15, 2007; Page A02

The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld a Washington state law that requires public employee unions to get permission before making political contributions using fees they collect from nonmembers.

The law, unique in the nation, was adopted in a 1992 referendum to limit unions' spending of the "agency fees" they deduct from the paychecks of employees who do not belong to the unions but are represented by them in collective bargaining.

... Though no other states have adopted laws similar to Washington's, yesterday's ruling confirms that they have a right to do so.
The Supremes have handed Right Wing zillionaires a huge gift, and it ain't even Christmas.

To get some idea of the magnitude of this, imagine for a moment that the Supreme Court ruled a law constitutional that banned corporations from contributing to political campaigns, unless they had the permission of all their stockholders. Would you support such a law? I know I would.

There has been an organized movement to decimate unions' ability to engage in political activity for several years now. The moribund corpse of that movement has just received CPR and a shot of adrenaline.

They tried to run this sort of initiative in Oregon in 1998, and the movement was gaining steam. This is the silly season for ballot initiatives, of course. (I was just contacted for some information on petition gathering contractors by activists in northern Oreg0n), and the secret money behind these sorts of things like to run multi-state campaigns, once they've got "an issue."

So, be forewarned: the head of the "Center for Union Facts" (allegedly shady lobbyist Rick Berman) explained the strategy at the Americans for Limited Government astroturf conference in Chicago last August. Whether we win or not, he said, we pin down the unions and force them to play defense.

You need to understand that this all runs UNDER the national radar, and most national news outlets will cover it sparingly, if at all. The locals generally have their one big state newspaper, and that's about it. Trust me, whether they win or not, a massive attack on the unions will pin down progressives on defense, which is just what the Right would like, as a distraction to keep their crappy incumbents in office, come November '08.

An ounce of prevention, as they say.

In my long investigative series on the money cabal behind literally three dozen initiatives last year (and lord knows how many over the past decade), it became increasingly clear that they view unions as the ONLY institutional entity standing in their way to gut safety laws; and most expecially to eliminate taxes, corporate responsibility, land use law, labor law and even minimum wages. And, of course, eliminating unions altogether is a high priority.

Now, they've got the wedge issue they need to cripple union funding. For details see my investigative report on the bogus PSA's that managed to fool the local AirAmerica affiliate into running anti-union spots from the "National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation."

SCOTUS has declared open season on unions. Watch the hunters flock to the chase.

The judgment was a rare 9-0. Take that as you will. (Interestingly, Justices Breyer, Roberts and Alito refused to sign on to portions of Scalia's majority opinion.)

You've been forewarned.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Corporate Toilet Paper?

Flag Day - © 2007 HW

Today is that forgotten holiday, Flag Day.

Established by Woodrow Wilson, by proclamation in 1916, Congress enshrined "National Flag Day" in 1949.

On this day in 1777, the Congress adopted our flag (which has been modified over time). This is "Old Glory"s Two Hundred and Thirtieth (and no/100s) birthday.

As you may have noticed, it is our forgotten holiday -- even though we must constantly suffer the exaltation of a piece of cloth into a religious icon, trumping the First Amendment, according to Congress and the various state legislatures, who wear sackcloth and ashes, rend their garments and wail about flag burning.

Flag burning is such an uncommon crime that its very rarity generally kills "anti-flag burning" amendments and laws.

In Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court in 1989 managed to delineate the range of opinion -- from the sacredness of the flag to the secularity of a piece of cloth -- in two appendices: Justice Kennedy's concurrence, and William "Wild Bill" Rehnquist's dissent.

The Court held that flag burning was constitutionally protected free speech.

The great American jurist, Justice William Brennan wrote the majority decision.

Brennan himself is a great American story: a Catholic Democrat from New Jersey, known for his specialty, union busting, he was a RECESS appointment by President Eisenhower in 1956.

Freed from the need to serve his corporate masters, Brennan became the heart and soul of the Warren Court, the very antithesis of the sort of Justice that Eisenhower had attempted -- in that Imperial Presidency manner -- to slither past Congress. (Shades of John Bolton).

Wrote Brennan:

"Under the circumstances, Johnson's burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment... Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent." The court concluded that, while "the government generally has a freer hand in restricting expressive conduct than it has in restricting the written or spoken word," it may not "proscribe particular conduct because it has expressive elements."
That was all very nice, but a point needed to be made. So, Justice Kennedy wrote in his concurrence:

I do not believe the Constitution gives us the right to rule as the dissenting Members of the Court urge, however painful this judgment is to announce. Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.
And, wrote Rehnquist in his (loony) dissent:

The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another "idea" or "point of view" competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have. I cannot agree that the First Amendment invalidates the Act of Congress, and the laws of 48 of the 50 States, which make criminal the public burning of the flag.
[Any reasonably intelligent high school civics student can refute the Cheap (sic) Justice, which is a sad commentary on the state of Constitutional law.]

This was the quotable portion. The remainder consisted of pages of maundering, flag waving, quoting poetry, doggerel and song lyrics, and generally making very little sense as an adult, but firmly establishing Rehnquist's reputation in my mind as a jingo of the first water. Wikipedia (and most legal writers) pass over the quintessential sophomoric smarminess of this classic piece of jurisprudential bullshit:


In holding this Texas statute unconstitutional, the Court ignores Justice Holmes' familiar aphorism that "a page of history is worth a volume of logic." For more than 200 years, the American flag has occupied a unique position as the symbol of our Nation, a uniqueness that justifies a governmental prohibition against flag burning in the way respondent Johnson did here.

At the time of the American Revolution, the flag served to unify the Thirteen Colonies at home, while obtaining recognition of national sovereignty abroad. Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" describes the first skirmishes of the Revolutionary War in these lines:

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world."
And that's just the beginning.

Later, Wild Bill would show his reverence for the flag by aiding and abetting the theft of the 2000 Election in the insane decision (this is not a precedent, quoth the decision) in Bush v. Gore.

And this well represents the spectrum of American opinion on the flag, whose day this is. From worship to respect, we all honor the flag.

Some of us would just rather deify it.

So, while we're here, let's ask: if everybody loves the flag so much, and honors it, to the point of wanting to amend the Constitution to elevate it ABOVE the First Amendment, sanctifying a piece of cloth, then how come nobody ever says a WORD about all the flags displayed at McDonalds, at motels and hotels, and flown without ever illuminating the flag at night, without taking it down in rain, letting the flag wave until tattered and faded, and replaced with as little ceremony and attention as we replace a roll of toilet paper?

Isn't that at least as disrespectful as flag burning?

Moreso, since flag burning at least has a POINT. Flying the flag as a cynical decoration has no point, save to goose sales.

So, if you don't celebrate Flag Day -- like nearly all Americans -- at least take the day to notice how many abused flags you see, flapping insincerely in front of fast food joints, motels and car dealerships.

And ask yourself: is this how we honor the flag?

Here is the full text of Justice Kennedy's concurrence, in six brilliant, straightforward paragraphs:

JUSTICE KENNEDY, concurring.

I write not to qualify the words JUSTICE BRENNAN chooses so well, for he says with power all that is necessary to explain our ruling. I join his opinion without reservation, but with a keen sense that this case, like others before us from time to time, exacts its personal toll. This prompts me to add to our pages these few remarks.

The case before us illustrates better than most that the judicial power is often difficult in its exercise. We cannot here ask another Branch to share responsibility, as when the argument is made that a statute is flawed or incomplete. For we are presented with a clear and simple statute to be judged against a pure command of the Constitution. The outcome can be laid at no door but ours.

The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result. And so great is our commitment to the process that, except in the rare case, we do not pause to express distaste for the result, perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision. This is one of those rare cases.

Our colleagues in dissent advance powerful arguments why respondent may be convicted for his expression, reminding us that among those who will be dismayed by our holding will be some who have had the singular honor of carrying the flag in battle. And I agree that the flag holds a lonely place of honor in an age when absolutes are distrusted and simple truths are burdened by unneeded apologetics.

With all respect to those views, I do not believe the Constitution gives us the right to rule as the dissenting Members of the Court urge, however painful this judgment is to announce. Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.

For all the record shows, this respondent was not a philosopher and perhaps did not even possess the ability to comprehend how repellent his statements must be to the Republic itself. But whether or not he could appreciate the enormity of the offense he gave, the fact remains that his acts were speech, in both the technical and the fundamental meaning of the Constitution. So I agree with the Court that he must go free.
And so he did. The flag waves on, protecting us all. For now.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Glass Houses

This news story appeared tomorrow in the TIMES of India:

Act or get tagged for slavery, warns US
13 Jun, 2007 - 0058 hrs IST
Chidanand Rajghatta/TIMES NEWS NETWORK

WASHINGTON: India has been warned to act swiftly on its human trafficking record involving forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation or risk being censured for what Washington calls "modern-day slavery" ....
And, in a stunning bit of synchronicity, this Ed Schultz show caller from Denver came slithering into my earphones as I was reading the above:

"We've got a lot of Hispanics who work for us, and as far as I know, EVERY one of them is legal..."

We'll pass over the implicit racism involved. I grew up in Laramie, just a couple hours north of Denver, and there were always "Mexicans." My best friend was David Borrego through grade school. But I guess since we're talking about illegal immigration, that sort of mindless racism goes without comment.

The automatic presumption that "Immigration reform" is only about Hispanics is every bit as incorrect as asserting that only Jews were murdered in the Holocaust: it is exactly half-right, but, worse, it is precisely half wrong. But, for the sake of argument, let's accept the premise, that ALL the horrible, illegal immigrants are Hispanics from South of the Border.

Slavery, eh?

This virtual reprint (from when my blog was called "Skiing Uphill") was slated to be the COUNTERPUNCH "website of the day" until they did something entirely different and refused to explain or answer their email ('principled' bastards that they are):
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The last Republican who ever tricked me is dead, now.

In 1980, thinking myself to be a clever fellow, and worried about the very state of the presidency -- after Nixon, bumbling Ford and congenitally incapable of decisiveness Carter -- I voted for Ronald Reagan.

Now, don't think I had any illusions. No: I was kind of worried about the overwhelmingly Democratic congress, who had swept in unprecedented numbers to overpowering numbers in the house and senate in the Landslide of 1974.

The landslide was so overwhelming that I remember pundits and talking heads seriously yabbling for a silly season "could this be the END of the Republican party?"

Well, not being an idiot, and having some slight sense of history, I would usually hiss back at the boob on the boob tube: "So what? They'd reform as another party, just as the Republicans formed out of the collapse of the Whigs."

But they didn't listen to me. And they're still dithering and blithering and blathering. Have you ever bothered to track all the nonsense spewed out of your idiot-box? The weatherman regularly gets it wrong, but continues, night after night, as though he were (or, increasingly, because of the eye candy factor, she) the Joe DiMaggio of meteorology, riding an unbroken streak of 'hits.'

Worse, if you track it further, you'll note that the pundits make those weatherhominids look like utter Nostradamuses. Or is that Nostradamii? Onward.

At any event, the Democrats had swept to power on a tide of rage at Nixonian predations, and were such utter cascading CFs that they managed to even stymie Carter's entire term. It was a cock fight between the Presidency and the Congress, and it looked like the Congress was going to win.

They were cocky. They were cock-sure, they were self-righteous, they were staunchly scattered, and I viewed them with deep suspicion. Because NOTHING was getting done. The whole government was in PeeCee trainwreck mode.

And, so, foolish little I voted for Blue-Haired Ronnie Death Valley Daze, and even convinced my Italian wife to do so, too, for which I deeply apologize to her.

I was wrong, but with a reason, and I think a valid one: I figured that if they could so stymie Carter, Reagan wouldn't have a chance.

And so there would be a chess game in a natural state of "check." Silly me.

And I lived in Hollywood, so Reagan's hokum and movie tricks were just what they were to me: hokum and movie tricks. He was a second-rate actor, but as a politician he at least played a first-rate one. So, I didn't mind a figurehead in the White House for four years.

How wrong and right I was. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Because he really WAS a figurehead. And the people behind him have been behind an awful lot of the political fecal matter that's hitting the rotating blades.

In fact, they were so keen to keep Carter from pulling off an "October Surprise" (the genesis of the term in political parlance) and get the hostages back, that they sent George I and Bill Casey to Madrid to negotiate with the Ayatollah Khomeni: If you hold the hostages until AFTER the election, we'll secretly sell you the parts for all your U.S.-made F-16 that we sold the Shah. And the other spare parts you need for your war with Iraq.

You see, American High Tech military gear is sold on the dealer/junkie model: you need a constant stream of spare parts and upgrades, and you can only get them ONE place.

And mostly, at that time, it was in Orange County, California, where McDonnell Douglas, Ford Aerospace, and a crapload of other defense contractors were headquartered. But we're coming to that.

Ronnie pulled his phony Hollywood crap, but, as an entertainment professional (hey, I've worked in theater, movies, the music industry, newspapers, magazines, and the various multimedia bleedovers thereof and wherefore), well, as an entertainment professional, it was nice to see SOMEBODY hitting his marks, and only occasionally flubbing his lines. To this very day, the act of allowing a politician in front of a microphone is an act of sheerest sonic masochism, at least to a sound engineer. The old Chair of the DPLC, the Union Goonatrice, used to bend down and scream into that poor little hyper-sensitive microphone in Harris Hall to the point I'd go outside, just to get away from the hideous screech of a self-important amateur blowing out a sensitive and expensive sound system.

I've run open mics in several places, and the most amateurish musician knows more about a microphone than the most polished politician, it seems. But, to a politician, a microphone and a TV camera are like honey to a bee.

Here's a little trick, kiddies. If you're ever at a convocation of models -- clothed or un - -- make sure you have a good looking camera. Whether it has film in it or not, doesn't matter. You will be the focus of all those models' attention. The same holds true for a politician and a microphone.

So, I voted for Ronnie, and got my wish. As they say, be very careful what you wish for.

Skip forward in time to 1987. The Meese Commission was jackbooting through my industry (men's magazines and porn films were the only place that a white boy without a bachelor's degree and an uncle in the business could get a job), and I foolishly decided to enter the "honest" world of "legitimate" business. They were raiding Valley warehouses looking for Tracy Lords tapes, and work was drying up everywhere. So, it seemed, like that foolish vote, to be a good idea at the time.

I got a job in Orange County.


Lyn Nofziger has a blog. Or, rather, HAD a blog. Lyn Nofziger was the media Karl Rove behind Reagan. He was one of those evil fixers we like to call "political strategists," and I believe that the one who actually tricked me on the Reagan vote was Nofziger.

Here is one of his last blog entries:

No one doubts Mr. Murtha's bravery or patriotism, nor should they. But that does not, and should not, exempt him from doubts about his IQ or his common sense. The fact is there is no correlation between brains and bravery. Neither do medals for heroism fit a man to set policy for the country. The liberals know or should know these things, but they figure a lot of their fellow Americans do not.

So they hold up John Murtha as a wise old warrior whose medals and wounds qualify him as one whose advice should be heeded, even when that advice means abandoning an ally and a cause. Why not? Murtha must wonder. We did it in his war-Vietnam-so why not here?

This is not a very nice war. No wars are nice. This one, however, is less so because our leaders made the same mistake another generation made in Vietnam; they thought the enemy would be a pushover.

But because the road is longer than they thought and the way is tougher and the libs have begun clamoring, there is no reason for the United States to fold it tents and go home, John Murtha to the contrary not withstanding.

The United States did that in Korea and again in Vietnam. Who could ever trust us again if we make it three out of three? What soldier would ever again go willingly into battle if he knew that those who sent him there had their white flags cleaned and pressed and ready to wave.

Not even John Murtha, I'll bet.
Well, you can take the boy out of Right Wing Washington politics, but I guess you can't take the Right Wing Washington politics out of the boy. We'll get back to Nofziger in a minute.


At first I lived in Whittier, and commuted to downtown Santa Ana, where I worked for an evil little accountant and his hammer-toed Nebraska wife, who ran a place called AAA-***. The "AAA" was so that they'd be FIRST in the phone book.

They did resumes. But first, you had to apprentice directly in their offices, so that they could teach you properly how to screw unemployed families out of their rent money. It was a profoundly disturbing thing to me, having just come from pornography, to move into something so predatory and overtly evil. But that was what was available, and so I took the OCTD bus from a park and ride every morning, a long trip from Whittier to Santa Ana down I-5, past Disneyland.

In fact, I learned an interesting thing about the Orange County Transit District riding that bus.

I had to transfer, of course, and the transfer point was the Disneyland hotel. You see, back when Anaheim was mostly orange groves, and was the sleepy center of the Number One Agricultural County in the U.S.A., the only real traffic draw was Disneyland. So, naturally, all lines converged there. And, at the Disneyland hotel, half of the buses in Orange County converged. That was the transfer point.

Now, in order to be going the right way to drop you off at the Disneyland hotel bus stop, the bus always had to take a big loop around the block opposite Disneyland, mostly residential, at that time.

And, as we came around the back side of Disneyland, every day, I saw something that no tourist ever saw, and which burned into me something that is part and parcel of that California Republican idea that Reagan and his handlers carried from the Land of El Gringo Fascisto to Washington, D.C.

Behind Disneyland, there was a large vacant area as the bus made the turn. The first thing that caught your eye was the absurdist "Disneyland" sign, utterly alone in a strawberry field, with its backdrop of a thirty-foot-high ivy-covered fence: a massive chain-link fence that formed an almost impenetrable backdrop.

The sign itself was one of those telescopic signs you see in front of a Denny's, with a plastic "Disneyland" bas-relief logo over what were undoubtedly fluorescent lights. At the base, there was a well-rutted patch of bare dirt, always muddy by the base of the sign. And a concrete pedestal.

If you had the bus window open, you could kind of hear the Mine Ride roller-coaster behind it, but Disneyland itself might as well have been on another planet.

There was a depressed spot in the curb for trucks to pull in, and the mud around the sign bore mute witness to countless heavy trucks making the circle into the field, and then back around to the other curb exit.

The first time I saw it, that was what I saw.

But after that, I saw something else.

In the strawberry field, dozens of Mexican peasants stooped, picking fruit in the broiling sunshine. The women wore shawls, and some of the men were barefoot. They looked like people from another time, another world. And, in the heat of the midday sun, they soaked their feet in the cool mud, sitting on the pedestal of that Disneyland sign, taking advantage of the only shade to be had.

And I thought of these peasants, doing backbreaking work, shoeless, many homeless, and right through that Ivy Curtain, the whole American Dream screamed with false joy at the twists and turns of the wild mine ride.

The magic kingdom had a dark shadow that I saw every day. In the distance, there was a new block of condos going up, and there was a banner with a phone number that said: "If you lived here, you'd be home by now."

And I thought: what must they think of us?

We, sitting in our Disney shorts, with our Disney cameras slung over our Mickey Mouse T-shirts, gaily blowing more cash than any of these illegals would see in a year.

And I felt a dark rage that persists to this day. Who the hell were we? How could we stuff our fat faces with obscene amounts of junk food, and blow hundreds and thousands of dollars in the false magic of the kingdom, where Goofy is King, and Mickey rules, like the red death, o'er all.

There was something poisonous and shameful about it.

At the resume office, I was learning, for minimum wage, to use the vanity and false pride of the yuppies who would soon be occupying those condos, but they didn't like the cut of my jib, and called me into the office in the middle of a $400 sale, to fire me.

It had been a bad day, anyway. I had been looking at TIME magazine, and one of the actresses I'd known from the old days was being feted in its pages as a "Feminist filmmaker," while I was doing a two-hour bus commute every day, invisible to TIME magazine because of my gender, even though I had worked in the same industry, and had done better work.

But, like those peasants in the fields, I was a second-class citizen.

Except that I was a citizen, and white, and they were illegal and brown. I had rights. They did not.

Do you hear me?

They did not.

You see, this whole false debate foisted on us by the most incompetent bunch of thugs since St. Bruno was sacking the temples of Venus, this whole phony debate has been based on the point of view of the overfed, overpampered visitors blowing their vacation money to ride Space Mountain and the Matterhorn.

And these pampered gluttons pompously and self-righteously bray about how those barefoot peasants are a threat ... to THEM! What a "threat" those poor, desperate, underfed, barely paid, no rights, no legal recourse, no identity and no prospects are ... to THEM!

To US!

If you lived here, you'd be home by now.

I got another job. Typesetting for one of those Orange County firms that services the defense industry. We were in the same building that the "Walter Foster" art books headquarters was in. You can only see the "Walter Foster" logo from the freeway, by the way. The building itself is at the end of a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood with avocado trees -- whose fruit I used to mix with Del-Taco mayonnaise for meals when my paychecks bounced, which started happening within a few months.

I was living in a place between the two main freeways in Santa Ana -- the 5 and the 55 -- called "The Bluebird Motel." The money I made typesetting presentations for TOW missiles, space stations, McDonnell Douglas management manuals and fireplace equipment catalogs just covered the cost of the motel every week.

There was a brand-new mirrored building, and a used car lot on that block. Across the street was a Harley-Davidson dealership that was always frequented by actual Southern California bikers. But as the glass high-rises of high-tech Orange County rose everywhere in the boom I'd ridden in on, there were still fields here and there, oases of Orange County as it used to be.

And in the strawberry fields in front of that mirror building, between the used-car lot and the freeway off-ramp, Mexican peasants stooped in the hot sun, without shade, and picked our strawberries for us. For slave wages, you might say, except you should stop and think about what you just said.

When you have no rights, are you not a slave? When you can be turned in (as often happened and happens still) by the field owner, before he pays you. When your women can be raped, your belongings stolen, or when you can be beaten mercilessly and NO ONE will lift a finger, except to deport you, aren't you a slave? You are in no wise a free man, that is certain.

And so, I typeset for Reagan's defense contractors, and wrote book reviews for the Orange County Register, and did my level best not to feel horrible guilt every day when I saw those people in the fields. Our slaves. Making sure that we had cheap lettuce and cheap strawberries at the supermarket.

And at the vending booths there in Disneyland.

The typesetting shop started bouncing checks, but the owner of the Bluebird Motel took pity on me, and instead of kicking me out into the street, he agreed to hold onto their check until they made good on it, and even cashed it for me. He was a tough old Armenian, but he thought I was honest, even if I was a second-class citizen, living week to week in the "bad" part of Santa Ana.

And in the fields, day after day, they bent over in the hot sun, picking strawberries.


Lyn Nofziger was an old California political pro. Here, from his blog:


I'm Lyn Nofziger and this is my website.

If you're looking for a female exhibitionist with a digital camera you've come to the wrong place. ...

The odds are you've never heard of me, which is all right because I've probably never heard of you either, so let me tell you a little bit about myself. ...

I am a Californian, a World War II army veteran, a former newspaperman, a politician and the author of four published Western novels. I make an occasional political speech, write an occasional political column or op ed piece and complain a lot. If you visit this page from time to time you will be able to see what I complain about.

In more detail, I spent 16 years as a newspaperman, including eight as a Washington Correspondent for the Copley Newspapers of California and Illinois.

I served in Ronald Reagan's governor's office and White House and in Richard Nixon's White House. I have run and participated in numerous political campaigns, including five for president, and have won some and lost some. Once I even worked at the Republican National Committee. ...

In Disneyland, they herd you in cattle-stalls, just like at the abattoir. There are too many people, and you spend most of your time at the "Magic Kingdom" standing in line.

Disney was a good Republican. He was a "freedom lovin'" self made man, who had that John Wayne, I-made-myself-why-don't-you attitude. Disneyland and Orange County were a good mix. The barons of the orchards and endless fields had absolute sway over their Mexicans, just as they'd had absolute sway over the Okies back during those old "Grapes of Wrath" days.

Only, eventually, the Okies got rights. And, with their white skins and pale complexions, they were able to climb the ladder of California society.

But, even though California was a big chunk of the half of Mexico that we stole in Polk's Mexican War of 1846, the Mexicans, whether living in California originally or not, never really had any chance of climbing that ladder.

[Parenthetical: please realize that only about HALF of the "illegal aliens" that the big hoo-haw is about are Hispanics from South of the Border. But the big hoo-haw is actually ABOUT those Mexicans, and Salvadorans, and Hondurans, and Panamanians, Columbians, and other "Americans" whose names we fatasses in our Mickey Mouse ears bluster and arrogate as ONLY us.]

The whole economy of Southern California would collapse without underpaid, sub-minimum wage workers, and the only people who fall into that category are the undocumented. There was an unwritten code among the police to ignore them, unless they made trouble.

You would see them, on the streets of Santa Ana, five and six in a cheap used car they'd pooled their money to buy, unlicensed, no papers, driving, driving. They had those flat-brimmed hats, and you could tell that they were Mexican farmers, not city boys, not sophisticates.

And they cooled their bare, cracked feet in the mud at the base of the Disneyland sign.


How are they hurting these arrogant Americans? They take the jobs that the Unions demand too much to take, while the owners take the lion's share of the profits from the illegal work, and dole out as much of a pittance as can be gotten away with.

I moved up, and ended up running a resume office for another company. Serendipitously, I'd already been trained. And I lived in Trabuco Canyon, in one of several converted cabins that remained from a dude ranch that had been there in the 20's and '30s. Where rich East Coasteners would send their chubby-faced little darlings to pretend that they were cowboys and cowgirls.

The dude ranch had long since gone out of fashion, but cowboy transvestitism (where you dress up like a cowboy and pretend to be John Wayne, or Tom Mix, or Willam S. Hart) hasn't gone out of fashion. Just look at Ronald (Illinois) Reagan or George (Connecticut) Bush.

And, as I took the long way 'round every morning to my office across the street from the Orange County Airport, just renamed the "John Wayne Airport" with a huge statue of "The Duke," I would pass Orange and Katella, where a long line of fresh immigrants would line up along the wall by the McDonald's and Burger King, and pickup trucks would come by, and three or four would jump in and go off for a day of underpaid, backbreaking work.

It was a lot like watching the prostitutes working Sunset Boulevard west of La Brea.

If some Ed Gein decided to make himself a Mexican Nipple Belt, or an eyeball bolero, no one would ever be the wiser. These were rightless people. They were expendible. The were free-lance slaves.

You could always tell the ones fresh over the border. We didn't call them "wetbacks" in California, because there was no Rio Grande to swim. That's only in Texas.

No, they were just "Beaners." Or "Messikans." Or worse.

And the fat, overstuffed, rosy-cheeked little darlings of Orange County used to yell "clever" things at them, lined up there in the morning.

They thought that they would look American if they wore a "Dallas Cowboys" t-shirt, and a "Los Angeles Dodgers" baseball cap. It was the uniform of the newly arrived.

And they stood there in the sun, at 7:30 in the morning, waiting for work of any kind. Mostly, they got it. The lines were long, but the pickup trucks were steady.

If you lived here, you'd be home by now.


Lyn Nofziger was a poster-child of that Libertarian "It's MINE!" set. I'm sure that he was as offended by those damned Messikans coming over taking jobs as anyone else. But I bet he knew where to get five strong backs to move boulders and pick weeds in his garden when he needed them.

No "gum'mint" interference going to keep these proud individualists, these self-made men of Southern California from exercising their God-given right to pay as little for as much work as they could mule a man out of.

I knew a mixed-race couple.

He was a Jew. She was black. They had a Salvadoran maid, who spoke no English. They paid her nothing, just room and board for taking care of their chubby-cheeked, cherubic little pampered darlings. She worked seven days a week.

Don't ask me how I found out. I did, that's all. I just did.

And when I gently brought it up to them, they were extremely mortified. Good lord, EVERYBODY does it.

Hell, she's LUCKY to have a roof over her head and plenty to eat. It's MINE! MINE!

No pay. No days off. And, if "Massa" wants to bend her over the couch and have his way with her, who is she going to complain to? Trust me, it happens a LOT more in Southern California than anyone will ever admit. It is our secret shame and our secret sin for keeping these human beings as slaves, with no legal rights, no human rights.

Slavery corrupts both the slave and the slave-owner. If any civilized nation ought to know that, WE ought to.

But no. This is the philosophy that won the west. The gospel according to Nofziger:

... Sometimes I wish I were a Democrat because Democrats seem to have more fun. At other times I wish I were a Libertarian because Republicans are too much like Democrats.

What I actually am is a right-wing independent who is registered Republican because there isn't any place else to go. In the future I expect to be critical of both parties and their leadership and a lot of other people and things, too... [ibid.]

Try as I might, though, I could never scrape above subsistence, living in Orange County. When I had to use the bus, I still found myself taking that back turn around Disneyland to connect at the hotel, and they were still soaking their feet in the mud.

When you have to deep-six ten years of your writing life on your resume, the only thing you're qualified to do is write resumes for other people. I watched the boom in Orange County, as an endless stream of job-seekers came through my door, but I could never bring myself to gouge them deeply enough to make any real money at it.

Just a second class citizen, sitting in a mostly empty office, trying to pay my rent. And in the fields, and along the cinderblock walls at the intersections, sun-blackened men in Dodger caps and wearing Dallas Cowboys t-shirts waited for the willing trucks.


Lyn Nofziger has passed away, the last Republican to trick me, but, sadly, not the last trickster Republican. Let us not speak ill of the dead. He is what he is, and I have given him to you in his own words.

But I wish he were still alive so that I could ask him about this statement on his site of his core belief:

"I am a Republican because I believe that freedom is more important than government-provided security."
Did he mean freedom from having to pay decent wages to workers -- which is what fuels the two-faced hypocrisy of our collective behavior towards those Messikans that the yabblers are all yabbling about on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress?

Or did he mean freedom from Patriot Acts, Departments of Homeland Security, massive national debts (which have halved the value of our money, so, take that "DOW JONES" index and recognize that in real dollars, it's HALF of what it was during the Clinton years) and Nixonesque spying, dirty tricks, surveillance and propaganda?

What "freedom" did he mean?

Surely not "freedom" for those illegal wetback beaner sons-a-bitches. Surely not for them. Surely freedom from taxes, from regulations, from environmental laws that stop us from spreading ant-poison and herbicide, and hiring a couple of illegals to get out in the poison fields and hack the ivy vines off of the oak tree so that they can plant nasturtiums and columbines. What freedom did you mean, Mr. Nofziger? And how, in the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush regimes did you serve it?

Well, of course, Nofziger is dead and cannot answer, so we will leave him to his trek to that great Disneyland in the Sky.

Oh, and even though I didn't register as a Democrat until 1988, eight years later, that vote for Reagan in 1980 was the very last Republican vote I ever cast.

You live and you learn: better to be a second class citizen than no citizen at all.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why I'm Not Guarding the Abortion Clinic

A Cautionary Tale

I'm not guarding at the abortion clinic anymore. I no longer sit in the snow, slush, wind, rain, or 100 degree plus heat, making sure that the protesters stay on their side of the line demarcating public sidewalk from private property.

I no longer manipulate the space outside the clinic door to get women and their girlfriends, boyfriends, fathers, mothers, or other companions in the doorway with a minimum of hassle from the fanatics. I used to joke that I was playing library lion.

Now, I started doing it in early 2005, and have been there on Fridays, regularly for two years, wearing my day-glow "CLINIC ESCORT" vest that, I suppose, might as well have a bullseye marked on it.

It seems a trivial matter to most, and, should you have witnessed our weekly confrontation, you'd have seen me in my sunglasses, with my walkman (I started out listening to Al Franken and ended up listening to Thom Hartmann), and listening to the PSA that always brought a little smile to my face, as the announcer announced:

Women's reproductive freedom is in jeopardy ...

Well, I was actually doing something about it, more intense than the radio spot asked for, but it was always a bit of wry irony in my guard duty. You may have seen me (if you live here) sitting there, every Friday: rain, snow, sleet, hail, burning sun. And I was happy to do it. Roe v. Wade was decided my senior year in high school, too late for many girls of my generation, who died or were made sterile by botched back-alley abortions. And I remember the massive protests of the 1980s, remember passing them in Orange County, California, where the woman I was living with expressed rage at me for flipping them off when we would pass.

She had an abortion to cover up an illicit pregnancy, but, having had the abortion, decided that not only was she against it, but that she would make up her mind for ALL women, everywhere.

I continued flipping off the protesters. Needless to say that I am no longer with little miss "moral." Intolerance is the one vice that I cannot tolerate.

But I learned something important in that two-year meditation in front of the clinic: I don't hate them anymore. I used to be very angry at the protesters. Angry at the really vicious little emotional trip they were pulling on women at one of the most emotionally raw moments of their lives. Angry at their presumption to speak for God. Angry at their self-righteousness and, yes, prejudice. Angry that they cared more for an imaginary "baby" than for a real flesh and bone woman.

But I learned to NOT be angry. They believe what they believe. And so, I learned to be polite to them. To wish them "good morning." To be friendly. Just because we disagree, that is no reason to add to the already nasty situation.

Well, when I opened up, and said "hello," it affected them. When I asked an older protester where his wife was (who had always shot little sneaky glances to see if I was looking, after pretending to ignore me on each pass), if she was OK, he was overwhelmed.

And so we all became friends.

Sneaky library lion that I was, I'd inadvertently discovered a wonderful tactic: their innate sense of MANNERS, of POLITENESS short-circuited them. Since we were being polite and tolerant, something caused them to hesitate at that moment of handing the incoming patient their little "TAKE MY HAND" brochure with the picture of the cute baby and the logo "DON'T KILL ME."

Because it was rude. And they knew it. And because we were now on amicable footing, they would hesitate that split second while they were double-clutching to change gears into compassion/confrontation mode. In that moment, the door would be open, and the woman would be safely inside.

I can report, with some satisfaction, that, while they handed out SIX brochures in the first six months of my guard duty, after I discovered how not to be angry, the protesters did not hand out more than FOUR brochures in the next year and a half. Not on my watch.

The grand total number of brochures the protesters managed to hand out during my watch was about ten, certainly less than twenty. (I know, I kept tally. But I never managed to snag one -- to read it -- from the gray plastic wastebasket just inside the front door, where the few brochures handed out ever went. It became such a rare event that I would forget to grab one when it happened. Oh well.)

And that was one of the reasons that I lost my anger: it's hard to be angry at the opposition when they are losing EVERY battle. Only one time did a patient ever have an extended "intervention" talk with the protesters, and that was after she'd gone inside and been squirming around on it for half an hour.

Hey: if you aren't sure you want to go through with it, wait until you are, or else don't. I don't have any problem with that. But other than that one incident, they consistently wasted their time, and, because of our "cordiality" pact, I can't recall, after the first six months, a time that one of the girls going in flipped them off, told them to fuck off, etc. etc.

That HAD been a common confrontation when I started. In the last year and a half, it was unheard of. Lao Tzu's suggestion to "manage from underneath" and a little non-violence went a long, long way.

But then, I've been a bar bouncer several times in my checquered career, and I will always remember what the bouncer who trained me, Joe in Boulder, told me: Kid, he said, if you ever get into a physical confrontation, you haven't done your job. A bouncer's job is to see trouble and defuse it BEFORE it gets to that.

And that's what I did as a library lion for two years.

I am an unreconstructed Feminist in that I believe in equality, period, and I do not believe that is possible when women's own biology can be used against them. I came of age during Roe v. Wade, and I feel an obligation

My second wife and I went through an agonizing decision as to whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, and in 1981, we went to the Feminist Women's Health Center on Hollywood Boulevard, where I was the only man in the (full) waiting room. I went in with my wife, and held her hand through the Suction Aspiration.

At first, I could literally feel the focus of all the angry thoughts. But then a funny thing happened. Several women made a point of telling my wife and I that they were impressed that I'd come with her, to support her. At the time, men generally didn't come with women to the abortion clinics. Not because the women wouldn't have appreciated it, but seemingly because that was a form of moral courage they weren't up to.

And a strange thing happened. A friend of mine from our Buddhist school came in, too. And she was alone. My wife and I invited her to sit with us, and we were able to comfort her (the emotional state of women waiting for abortion is not exactly kaffeeklatsch chipper). She had just returned from India, and had gotten pregnant via a 'hit and run' suitor. He'd dropped her like a hot potato the second he learned of her condition.

When I was in college a girlfriend and I went with her pregnant best friend to the abortion clinic in Dallas, Texas. It was in the mid-70s, and the same syndrome held true: I was nearly the only male present in a huge waiting room -- 30 to 60 women, as I recall.

At any event, I can happily report that boyfriends and husbands commonly escort the woman in question to the clinics nowadays.

It was roughly at this moment in time ...

Stacy's Day at the Abortion Clinic
TIME Magazine
Monday, Apr. 10, 1978

First she has to get by the right-to-life protesters

More than 1 million legal abortions now take place in the U.S. every year--six times as many as in 1970. The fight against this increase has also increased, ranging from congressional oratory to outbreaks of fire bombing in such cities as Omaha, Cleveland and Columbus. In most abortion clinics, though, there is only minor harassment as a steady procession of anxious women arrive to undergo what some doctors call "the procedure.

In hindsight, the decision to have an abortion was incredibly important (and agonizing) for both of us. We divorced in the following year, over issues NOT having anything to do with the abortion, and a potential child was spared the trauma of THAT mess. She later had two children, but not with me.

Oh, and two weeks later, the clinic that we had gone to was firebombed. Take a moment and think about that. We had been in there two weeks earlier, and now it had been torched as a protest against the agonizing (and, we felt, ethical) decision we'd made. It chills the blood.

I would give you an exact date, but I can find nothing on the internet about it (sad to say). So, instead, here is the 1983-1984 experience of the FWHC in Everett, Washington:

In the early morning of December 3, 1983, the first fire-bomb exploded at Everett FWHC. Fire fighters stopped the blaze before it spread to the rest of the building, but all our medical and office equipment was destroyed. Phones were melted; paint peeled from the walls. Smoke, soot and water covered everything. Thankfully, no one was injured.

It took two months to rebuild, install and alarm system required by our insurance company, purchase new equipment and reopen. All during construction, harassment continued.

Within a few weeks of reopening, a second fire was set. This one caused much less damage. We reopened within a few days. A large community rally was organized by pro-choice groups led by Everett National Organization for Women. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) began a federal investigation. But it was too little, too late.

In April 1984, a third fire-bomb went off. Damage was severe and widespread. Our insurance company immediately canceled our policy and the building owner canceled our lease.

Debts from the destruction and the financial loss of double startup costs nearly forced the closure of the Yakima clinic.
The clinic that we'd gone to never reopened.

I have watched in sorrow as the vile march of those who believe that a theoretical baby trumps a real woman has intimidated, harassed and murdered -- all the while claiming that the women who refuse to behave as brood mares are murderers.

The Terrorist Campaign Against Abortion

Since 1977, there have been 154 incidents of arson, 39 bombings, and 99 acid attacks against abortion providers, according to the National Abortion Federation (NAF). And the severity of violence has steadily intensified. No longer content with damaging property, extremists are now determined to kill. NAF has recorded 15 attempted murders since 1991. And Slepian's assassination marks the seventh killing of an clinic worker in five years... Slowly and quietly, this campaign of violence is eroding women's ability to get abortions. The majority of Americans are pro-choice, and pro-violence extremists represent only a sliver of the antiabortion movement. But still, a handful of zealots have sowed enough fear in the medical community that it is now harder to get an abortion than it has been at any time in the last 20 years.

The number of doctors performing abortions dropped from 2758 to 2380--a decrease of nearly 15 percent--between 1980 and 1992. In rural areas, the number of abortion providers plunged 55 percent during that same 12-year period. During the year following the first murder of an abortion doctor in 1993, one-quarter of clinics reported employees quitting because of the violence. Such resignations have continued over the last few years, though at a less rapid pace. Today, there are no abortion doctors in more than 84 percent of the nation's counties. (from The VILLAGE VOICE 1998)

But, of course, even though they're jailing Earth Liberation Front members as "terrorists," firebombing clinics isn't considered "terrorism":

Chronological FBI summary of terrorist incidents, 1980-2004

The FBI defines a terrorist incident as a violent act or an act dangerous to human life aimed at intimidating or coercing a government or the civilian population in pursuit of political or social aims.

In tracking these attacks, it breaks them down in two broad categories -- international and domestic terrorism.

Among domestic terrorists, the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front and other militant animal-rights and environmental groups--categorized as Special interest domestic terrorists--have been involved in the greatest number of incidents in the past decade. But none of their actions have resulted in injuries or death.

The FBI does not classify the vast majority of attacks on abortion clinics as acts of domestic terrorism. Thus, almost all of these attacks--tallied at more than 4,200 since 1976 by the National Abortion Federation -- are not included in the data base.

No, in that twisted, demonic patois that the "righteous" devils of the Right prefer, it's a looking glass world, as in:

Bomb - An explosive device. Often used interchangeably with Firebomb. Firebomb is not defined by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and is a term used by the abortion industry to generate angry emotions against pro-life.

Butyric acid - A very smelly substance used by one side to close Killing Centers and by the other to close pro-life offices and churches. It is used only because of the smell, and it is not used in any dangerous way.

Deathscort - A term used by pro-lifers to describe an escort at a Killing Center who attempts during a rescue to escort a woman to the abortionist.

Firebomb - See Bomb

from Abortion-Related Violence and Alleged Violence
An Investigative Report by the Life Research Institute*
January 5, 1995 (a radical "pro-life" group)

So, I considered it a duty to volunteer when Planned Parenthood sent out an email to their list in late 2004,* asking for clinic escorts ("Deathscorts" in the terminology of the self-styled 'righteous').

[*NOTE: as the author of the following platform plank that was approved by both my county and state Democratic parties:

"abortion clinic patients and staff have an inalienable right to freedom from intimidation, harassment and physical harm,"

I sadly must report that the invertebrates now running the party have graciously neutered this (principled, on EITHER side) stance vis-à-vis extremism:


Protect the rights of Oregonians to make health care decisions with dignity and privacy, whether at the beginning or the end of life.


No matter where they live in our state, people must have access to the products and services necessary for a healthy and productive life.


Ensure that a comprehensive health care system includes the right of individuals to make their own reproductive decisions without restrictions.
So, I was willing to put my 'money' where my mouth was, although the local Democratic mouths seem to be entirely mealy.]

I don't want you to think that I'm "dramatizing" this, but I was well aware that what I was volunteering for might well lead to life-threatening situations. (Just like being a bouncer.) Thankfully, it's been very restrained and even polite over the past two years plus. But that does not mean that the clinic and clinic guard are any less targets. It just means that nobody has bombed us yet, nor shot at us ... yet.

Sitting in my dopey little day-glow vest, on a metal folding chair, I probably looked like quite the comic figure. But the serious issue underlying it was this:

Dopey-looking Hart, when he sat there -- in all seasons, in all weather -- was literally guarding ALL of Southern Oregon. The intimidation and harassment has successfully closed all abortion clinics and frightened off all abortion providers south of my folding chair. And I'm in the middle of the state.

Now, you might be asking: WHY, if it's so noble a cause, has this guy quit?

Great question, and I'm glad I asked it. It was very perceptive of me:

Because, while I am happy to do the right thing, as a matter of duty, honor, country, I am NOT willing to be treated as chattel. As 'nothing.'

When you are dealing with volunteers, "please" and "thank you" are the indispensable coins of the realm. And I have never understood WHY, in volunteer organizations, the dumb bastards who run them (in most cases, sad to say) are misers with that capital.

What does it cost to be polite? How much does it cost for a cheap pack of dumbass certificates? What huge price does a Christmas card cost?

Let me put it this way:

I don't mind the fact that one of the clinic employees goes out of her way to silently express her disdain for me (probably for my gender, which does not figure in her sexual smorgasbord). Her contempt, while never stated, seems astonishingly rude, but I've always let that one slide. It's a minor and meaningless consideration. I'm not doing this for HER.

I don't mind that they can't be bothered to send anything like a Christmas card, or some dumb thing to say: We appreciate what you do. We're thankful that you're willing to accept what could well be dangerous guard duty, gratis. I don't mind that I was told that the "guards" were going to be given freebie tickets to a Judy Collins concert as a way of saying "thanks." (Lagniappes are nice, but in no wise necessary.) They never appeared.

That kind of stuff happens. I'm sure that they MEANT to do something. (Still, meaning to do something and actually doing it are two different things.) No, that's no big deal, but it IS a reality.

What I DO mind is that during the holiday season, they decided to "change up" their schedule, to confuse the protesters. Only problem is, they didn't bother to tell ME.

Twice, I showed up, after getting up, showering, borrowing the car (we've been in car hell for the past year, with only one of four cars working at any given time), and being on site by 9:30 AM (rough for a Night Owl), only to find the clinic locked. (Trust me: you feel astonishingly stupid.)

Now you might ask: why didn't I just call first? Well that's a rough one, but suffice it to say that their phones are only answered SOME of the time, and the service who answers the rest of the time has ZERO clue as to what's going on all the rest of the time. And, for a year and more (2005-2006), it was my schedule to immediately leave KOPT (the local AirAmerica Radio affiliate) after my Friday guest appearance from 8-9AM and head over for my 9:30-11:30 guard shift, with just enough time to stop off for some fast food breakfast.

But during the holidays of 2006, they couldn't be bothered to let me know. They couldn't be bothered to call. They couldn't be bothered to think that my time might be valuable, and, in this case, volunteerism often meant that we were making some small sacrifices, as my wife would have to arrange her appointments and/or carpooling to accommodate a bunch that were letting me know, little by little, that whatever I was doing was completely immaterial to them.

You can abuse my good nature quite a bit. But you don't get to delineate me as toilet paper and then use it to wipe your ass. Sorry. That's a personal boundary issue with me. "Please" and "thank you" are cheap, but increasingly, you'd have thought they were Krugerrands.

And, human rights have got to mean something for the human standing up for them, too. Otherwise, it's an existential oxymoron.

So, rather than creating a scene, I just noted that things had pretty much died down, and quietly told them I couldn't do it anymore.

End of story, right? Well, almost.

I considered writing this column at the time, but I decided that it was better to say nothing at all. Because this isn't about me, after all. My feelings have been considered as utterly unimportant so often in this life that I scarcely worry about personal slights anymore. Each of us is the star of his or own personal movie, and I'm just a bit actor making a cameo, gratis. I understand that. So, the matter slept.

But then, with the Supreme Court decision in Carhart, things ramped up again. The five (Catholic) Supremes have managed to change the way that the clinic does business. All late-term abortions are sent up to Portland now. Which makes it more difficult, and that's another bit of intimidation to add to the pyre.

As usual, the law only matters when it's law that THEY agree with. Were the situation reversed, there is no doubt that they would scream bloody murder about the "rule of law," and how important it is, etc. etc. like the GOP did during the impeachment trial, but now has conveniently forgot in the face of massive, and blatant lawbreaking by their leader Bush.

OK: I was called because there was no one to take my old shift. People were leaving town for graduations, etc. No problem.

And, I have to relate, when I arrived, I arrived to an amazing scene. The protesters GREETED me, and asked where I'd been, if I'd been OK, etc. And when I went inside, the staff, the doctors, the techs all said how they'd missed me.


So I sat. (And got a nice sunburn. I'd forgotten to take sunblock.)

Then, the following week, I went, but no protesters. So I left.

Next week, ditto. So, we agreed that I would CALL them before coming in.

And, that week, even though my wife really needed the car (she had meetings across town, and she doesn't like being unable to check in on her father, who lives with us, was in the hospital last month, and turned 100 a few days ago), she graciously made it available so that I could go and play library lion.

I called.

The Portland service picked up (don't ask). They said that the clinic must have forgotten to turn their phones back on, and to call back in 15 minutes.

Since it was quicker to just go, I went.

I got there, and it turned out that because of the holiday, they had decided to open an hour later that day. All of the employees had been called, of course.

But they couldn't be bothered to call me.

There were no protesters. I wasn't needed.

And when I got home, my wife and the woman who'd ferried her around -- so that I could have the car for guard duty -- drove up, and I couldn't help but feel bad about all the pointless hassle they'd put up with for this volunteer to render services not needed.

"Please" and "thank you" be hanged. Forget Christmas cards or any other expressions of gratitude (that would be considered obligatory in virtually ALL world cultures, BTW, "manners" are a much bigger deal than we let on -- probably because ours have become vestigial, like the Tyrannosaurus' forelimbs, or the lynx's tail). Nope.

This week, I had to go either beforehand or afterward to have blood drawn and donate a urine sample for my annual comprehensive checkup, and it simply became inconvenient to go down for my shift-that-is-not-a-shift. So I blew it off. I guess I just couldn't be bothered to care about it anymore. I'd been snookered back into it with the same results. And I realized that I was done.

I am happy to put it all on the line for something that I believe in. But I am not willing to have that taken for granted, nor am I willing to waste my (life)time on an enterprise in which my time/life is held to be worthless. Or the time of those who have "volunteered" their inconvenience time to that enterprise as well. Normally, I wouldn't say anything, but it strikes me that the clinic needs to KNOW why I'm not going to show up anymore.

My career as a "deathscort" now comes to an end.

But they need to know why.