Oil vs Ice

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Oil vs Ice

Thankfully, California is doing something about global warming.

California outlined for the first time the largest U.S. attempt to regulate greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, calling for the creation of a new emissions- trading program and increased renewable-energy production.

All parts of the $1.6 trillion economy, the largest of the U.S. states, would be affected. Utilities, refiners, carmakers, farmers, manufacturers and forest managers would be called on to cut pollution under the draft plan released today by the state Air Resources Board.

The blueprint comes 18 months after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law requiring the country’s most populous state to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The law is the most far-reaching of any climate-change plan in the U.S., where President George W. Bush’s administration and Congress have resisted mandatory caps on greenhouse gases.

But is it too late?

When polar bears start suffering from heat stroke, you know something is wrong.

The plight of the polar bear is not just hinged on global warming. In Iceland, polar bears are being shot dead.

Icelandic authorities said they were forced to shoot a polar bear found wandering on the island in order to protect the public after a plan to anaesthetize the animal was abandoned.

The bear, an adult male weighing around 250 kg (500 lbs), was presumed to have swum to shore from drifting ice. The last time a polar bear came ashore in Iceland was in 1988.

“There was a lot of fog in the area and the bear was moving into the fog. We couldn’t risk losing him and there was no time to wait for anaesthetics, so we had to shoot him. It was for the safety of the public,” Police Superintendent Stefan Vagn Stefansson told Icelandic national radio on Wednesday.

In response to a public outcry at the shooting, the environmental ministry said it would review the incident to see if it could avoid shooting the next bear that lands in the country.

The world’s largest land-based predator lives in the Arctic, depending largely on sea ice to hunt seals.

The sport hunting of polar bears continues and some groups wants to lift the ban of polar bear hide importation into the US.

And of course, oil companies are given full permission to harass polar bears.

IT’S just over a month since the US government designated the polar bear as an endangered species. Now the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stands accused of giving oil companies a “blank cheque to harass polar bears”.

The row revolves around the seven oil companies that paid $2.6 billion in February for the rights to look for oil in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska. Some 2000 polar bears live in the region – a significant chunk of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 bears worldwide, and the companies were worried that environmental groups might take legal action to prevent the animals being disturbed.

But the FWS issued regulations last week permitting firms to disturb “small numbers” of bears and walruses without fear of prosecution as long as they report each incident and take steps to minimise the animals’ stress. If underwater sonar is being used, for instance, engineers must stop surveying should a bear swim close by.

Homage to Lawrence King. Teach Tolerance To Adults and Children

Love Not Hate

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

“The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.

The opposite of art is not ugliness; it’s indifference.

The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference.

And the opposite of life is not death; it’s indifference.”

~ Elie Wiesel

It was February 14, 2008, Valentine’s Day.  Love was in the air.  However, the expressions of appreciation offered were mournful.  Doctors informed the family and his friends, Lawrence King, 15, was removed from life support.  Two days earlier, young Larry was in the computer lab at E. O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, California.  He sat with 24 other students when Brandon McInerney walked into the room with a gun.  The armed classmate, fourteen-years of age, approached Lawrence with intent.  Brandon aimed his weapon, pulled the trigger, and shot Lawrence in the head.  Without hesitation, the shooter ran from the building.  Circumstances led observers and police officers to conclude the act was intentional, calculated, and a conscious choice.  Brandon committed what is commonly defined as a “hate crime.”

Students were locked in classrooms.  Grief and disbelief filled the air.  Adults tried to calm the children.  Teens tried to cope.  Peers were befuddled.  Pupils sought information and shared what they knew.  After the event, fingers flew across cellular telephone keypads.  Text messages were sent and received from schoolroom to schoolroom.  The words were, “Brandon McInerney did the deed.”  ‘Not Brandon McInerney, No way.’

“Brandon wouldn’t do this,” eighth-grader Jessica Lee remembers thinking. “He’s a good kid. It can’t be Brandon.”

But some at the Oxnard junior high school had seen Larry, 15, teased by students in the weeks before the shooting for being gay and wearing high-heeled boots and makeup. Some witnessed confrontations between Larry and Brandon, with Larry teasing Brandon and saying he liked him.

Family members and friends described Larry as a sweet, artistic boy who loved to sing and didn’t understand why people reacted negatively to him.

Brandon, 14, a tall, athletic eighth-grader, was described by friends and acquaintances as a mellow, focused kid, but one who wouldn’t back down in a confrontation.

Brandon had learned his lessons well.  He learned to feel deeply.  Indifference was not part of his repertoire, intolerance was.  Perhaps from within the womb, he began his education.  Those who in an act of love came together to give birth to Brandon, apparently knew nothing more than volatile loathing.  Perchance, Brandon’s mother, Kendra and his father, William were raised to love or hate, but not tolerate.

We can be certain that baby Brandon did as all infants do  after birth, he absorbed all the messages that surrounded him. .  Education is not an isolated entity.  Knowledge is not gained only in a classroom.  Our first school is called home.  Structured lessons may inform us; however, these are never internalized as deeply as the wisdom we acquire at the knees of our Mom and Dad.  Parents have a profound influence on a child.  Those we love most have the power to teach us more.  Definitely, the occurrence taught Brandon what to do when he felt troubled.

Kendra McInerney, Brandon’s mother, claimed a night of partying in 1993 ended in a fight and William shooting her in the elbow, breaking it in several places, according to court records. Still, they married later that year, and Brandon was born in January 1994.

The fighting didn’t stop, and sometimes it was witnessed by Brandon and his two older half-brothers, according to court records. In 2000, William pleaded no contest to a domestic battery charge against Kendra. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and ordered to attend domestic violence classes. The couple separated in August 2000.

Love, or familiarity can breed contempt.  Even when someone no longer shares a physical space with the person that causes him or her distress that individual remains intimately connected in the heart.  Parting is not a sweet sorrow.  Indeed, it is often the source of more pain.  Indifference is rarely evident once an emotional bond is formed.  

For Kendra and William McInerney, separation did nothing to alleviate the angst they felt or expressed. , Nor, did living apart make life more livable for  the children.  Drinking, drugs, and violence were daily transgressions in Brandon’s life.  The stories are stark.  Yet, fortunately, it appeared Brandon survived.  Indeed, some would say he thrived.

Through all the family turmoil, Brandon got involved in activities outside the home, including martial arts and lifeguard training. He seemed to want something more than just the status quo of Silver Strand, Crave said.

“He didn’t want to be involved in that whole thing,” Crave said, gesturing at friends drinking a few beers nearby after getting off work.

Brandon joined the Young Marines – the Marine Corps’ equivalent of a JROTC program – several years ago and became a leader in the group, which disbanded last summer.

“Brandon was a young man that I would never have figured something like this would happen to,” said Mel Otte, his commanding officer.

Otte said he never witnessed Brandon showing a short temper and that he would have been kicked out of the group if he had bullied other kids.

“He was an outstanding young man,” Otte said.  “What happened since I left, I have no idea.”

What occurred did not take place in a instant.  The image of restraint did not transcend an earlier reality.  Change did not come on in a flash.  Often calm is a facade for the chaos that lay beneath the surface of a boy [girl, woman, or man] who battles emotional upheavals.  What was real for Brandon is true for each of us.  We learn and live what we believe is customary.  

Even those of us who “know better,” or are exposed to impressive amounts of information, organized to challenge unhealthy conventions, do as we have seen done, or was done to us.  Some escape the affects of sensory overload for a time.  Few abandon family traditions until long they have repeatedly fallen from grace.  Only an individual forced to face his or her “demons” day in and day out thinks to learn new habits.  

We all love easily.  We loathe with less effort.  What we do not do well is authentically accept others.  Few beings bother to have compassion, to learn from those who look, think, feel, or act differently.  Without empathy, everyone is a possible enemy.

Hate, or fear, of what we do not understand, motivates many a mind to react aggressively.  Apprehension and anxiety are not logical.  None of our emotions are.  Nevertheless, all too often humans, prideful of an intellectual capacity, are galvanized by feelings.  We are threatened by what we feel terrorizes us.  

For Brandon it was a boy who thought him fine.  For adults it may be a secret admirer, or an individual who has authority over us.   The neighbor who was unkind could seem a danger.  Mature men or women may believe the man in the automobile in front of them is a menace.  Even a small girl, on the corner, with her fingers out-stretched in a sign of peace could seem a hazard if our habit is to adopt an angry stance when we feel annoyed.  

People are familiar with what deeply disturbs them.  They know all too well how to demonstrate love and hate. Indifference is doable, as long as an n individual does not see or hear those outside their sphere.  Benevolence, perhaps that is the reaction, the action we do not learn from birth.

We all crave a connection.  Humans have needs.  Individuals long to be included, intimately involved; we wish to feel as though we have the right and power to make decisions for ourselves.  Men, women, and children are not indifferent.  Hence the dilemma.

When it seems we are unable to manage our world, humans freak.  Each of us responds differently, understandably.  Intellectually, people may recognize they cannot control the universe.  However, when stressed, we discover the habits we hold dear remain intact.  Our reactions are not innate, just well studied.  Brandon McInerney was not a bad boy.  He is a human being.  He reacted as he had learned to do.  Barely fourteen years of age, Brandon expressed his deep disdain for a situation and someone he could not control.

Chaos abounds.  Nonetheless, we try.  Too often, we fail.  A senseless murder, and what assassination is not absurd, illustrates what occurs when someone does not feel fulfilled and knows not what to do.  People in physical or psychological pain lash out in the ways they know how.

Brandon McInerney was baffled, no terrified, by the actions of another boy.  Lawrence did not cause bodily harm to his peer.  He did no verbal damage, at least not intentionally.  Paradoxically, when Larry spoke of Brandon, he articulated his sincere admiration.  That is what bothered the young boy Brandon.  Love, especially when expressed unconventionally, caused Brandon’s heart and mind to break.  The young lad, now passed, Larry, did not bully Brandon or his buddies.  Indeed, the other boys hassled Lawrence prior to his final day.

In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death.

McInerney, now in custody, refuses to speak of what motivated him.  His lawyer offers the fourteen year old is too young to fully understand his actions.  Perhaps all people are too immature to rationalize the unreasonable, revulsion, repulsion, and feelings of repugnance.

What is hate?  Certainly, it is an emotion, as inexplicable as fondness.  Each can be voiced to the extreme.  Neither is inconsequential.  Perhaps, when humans feel adoration or antipathy they lose all perspective.  The chemistry we feel when we connect intensely is uncontrollable.  If only people could capture the energy and place it in a bottle before they pop.

Assemblyman Mike Eng (Democrat, Monterey Park), chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes, said we would, with a bit of money directed towards teaching diversity, be able to stop crimes against people based on race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

“My bill is focusing on [hate crime] prevention,” Eng said after a news conference at his El Monte district office. “We already have bills on the books about proper punishment; mine will focus on dealing with hatred in a school setting.”

Eng hopes to create a pilot program by allocating up to $150,000 to establish a diversity and sensitivity curriculum at a few school districts.  The pilot program would serve as a model to be used to develop lesson plans statewide.

Others in the community believe the proposed program only serves to comfort parents and Principals, adults, and not adolescents.  Countless argue that similar programs such as D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), are ineffective.  These simplistic strategies always were nothing more than slogans used to appease anxious adults.  Although these agendas survive, they do not strengthen the will or the character of the young persons they serve.  At times, instruction is as indifference.  If you do not know what to do,  or say about an open wound, look for an easy answer.  Apply salve, and walk away.  Most of us truly believe the sore will eventually heal by itself.

Here’s a news flash: “Just Say No” is not an effective anti-drug message. And neither are Barney-style self-esteem mantras . . .

DARE, which is taught by friendly policemen in 75 percent of the nation’s school districts, has been plagued by image problems from the beginning, when it first latched on to Nancy Reagan’s relentlessly sunny and perversely simplistic “Just say No” campaign.  The program’s goals include teaching kids creative ways to say “no” to drugs, while simultaneously bolstering their self-esteem (which DARE founders insist is related to lower rates of drug use). . . .

According to an article published in the August 1999 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, DARE not only did not affect teenagers’ rate of experimentation with drugs, but may also have actually lowered their self-esteem. . . .

The findings were grim: 20-year-olds who’d had DARE classes were no less likely to have smoked marijuana or cigarettes, drunk alcohol, used “illicit” drugs like cocaine or heroin, or caved in to peer pressure than kids who’d never been exposed to DARE.  But that wasn’t all. “Surprisingly,” the article states, “DARE status in the sixth grade was negatively related to self-esteem at age 20, indicating that individuals who were exposed to DARE in the sixth grade had lower levels of self-esteem 10 years later.”  Another study, performed at the University of Illinois, suggests some high school seniors who’d been in DARE classes were more likely to use drugs than their non-DARE peers.

Still, Americans, intent on straightforward solutions, quick fixes, and immediate gratification, forget that life is not so simple. The family teaches children from birth.  The lessons we learn in our youngest years are internalized deeply.  In infancy, each day we encounter our mother, father, or guardian, the people we need most, and most want to love us.  As toddlers, we are intimately involved with our caregivers, even if they do not seem to care for us.  When we are children, the only choice that we have, the only option that gives us a sense of control, is to cling to those who help us survive.  Moms and Dads are our first and best, teachers, if only because they are there in whatever capacity.

However, sadly, for some of us, such as Brandon McInerney our mentors did not teach us well.  Schools try to suffice.  Teachers with ten, twenty forty to a class try to create a relationship with each student.  As educators teach Math, Science, Reading, and English, they work to provide a sense of self-worth to each and every young scholar.  For a few hours, five days a week, a troubled youngster can call his or her classroom home.  

For young people such as Larry, school may have been a place to blossom, somewhere where he felt safe, or for both the boys an educational institution may have been the place where lessons begun at birth were reinforced.  Each was teased, bullied, and verbally battered.  Each had friends.  However, they may not have felt they achieved an authentic intimate connection with anyone.  Even acquaintances can say . . .

“He had a character that was bubbly,” Marissa said. “We would just laugh together. He would smile, then I would smile, and then we couldn’t stop.”

An ally in life does more than smile or laugh.  Larry King may have felt he had few real supporters, in a school he attended for only months.  How close can two people be when they see each other only for hours and then each returns to their own abode.  One may return to the place they consider “Home Sweet Home,” the other may reside in an institution, far from those who are “supposed” to love him.

For several months before to the shooting, Larry had been living at Casa Pacifica, a residential center for troubled youths in Camarillo.

Lawrence’s parents are alive and well, as are his four siblings, a younger brother, two older brothers, and an older sister.  While the family spoke lovingly of the dearly departed, they dared not speak of why the lad no longer lived with them.  Many children today are placed in treatment agencies.  The numbers are staggering.  The reasons are astounding.  Yet, when people know not how to love well, and are not indifferent, they do what they may hate to do.

The number of children placed in residential treatment centers (or RTCs) (1) is growing exponentially.(2) These modern-day orphanages now house more than 50,000 children nationwide.(3)  Children are packed off to RTCs, often sent by officials they have never met, who have probably never spoken to their parents, teachers or social workers.(4) Once placed, these kids may have no meaningful contact with their families or friends for up to two years.(5) And, despite many documented cases of neglect and physical and sexual abuse, monitoring is inadequate to ensure that children are safe, healthy and receiving proper services in RTCs.(6) By funneling children with mental illnesses into the RTC system, states fail-at enormous cost-to provide more effective community-based mental health services.(7)

RTC placements are often inappropriate.

RTCs are among the most restrictive mental health services and, as such, should be reserved for children whose dangerous behavior cannot be controlled except in a secure setting.(8) Too often, however, child-serving bureaucracies hastily place children in RTCs because they have not made more appropriate community-based services available.(9) Parents who are desperate to meet their kids’ needs often turn to RTCs because they lack viable alternatives.(10)

To make placement decisions, families in crisis and overburdened social workers rely on the institutions’ glossy flyers and professional websites with testimonials of saved children.(11)  But all RTCs are not alike.(12)  Local, state and national exposés and litigation “regarding the quality of care in residential treatment centers have shown that some programs promise high-quality treatment but deliver low-quality custodial care.”(13) As a result, parents and state officials play a dangerous game of Russian roulette as they decide where to place children, because little public information is available about the RTCs, which are under-regulated and under-supervised.

Yet, parents and community services agencies take those who are perhaps most vulnerable, our young and troubled teens, and place them in Residential Treatment Centers not able to provide minimal care.  When we, as a culture consider other options, and other means for childcare, we cannot but think of poor Brandon and how he suffered at the hands of his mother and father.  We are reminded that Brandon, the tormented shooter, lived in a location he called home.  We might wonder; which situation was better, worse, or can we even compare the traumas each child in this story suffered.

Brandon and Larry are not anomalies.  They are not alone.  Children throughout our country are taught to express love in a violent manner.  The little ones watch adults they admire model cruelty.  The young are trained to demonstrate their contempt similarly.  Sadistic reactive behaviors rule in our society.  Listen to people ruthlessly scream in the marketplace.  Consider the abundance of “hate crimes” in America.  Turn on the television.  Tune into the radio.  Read the “literature.”  Hostile conduct is commended and condoned.

For too many of our offspring, aggression in their daily existence is the norm.  They hear it in their homes; see their parent bludgeon each other.  As toddlers, tots, children, or teens our youth feel the bruises on their back, and remember the bones broken by those they love most.  Ponder the statistics.

During FFY 2005, an estimated 899,000 children in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect.
  • Children in the age group of birth to 3 years had the highest rate of victimization at 16.5 per 1,000 children of the same age group in the national population;
  • More than one-half of the victims were 7 years old or younger (54.5%)
  • More than one-half of the child victims were girls (50.7%) and 47.3 percent were boys; and
  • Approximately one-half of all victims were White (49.7%); one-quarter (23.1%) were African-American; and 17.4 percent were Hispanic.

Gender preference did not determine maltreatment when infants and the very young among were involved.  Specific biases are learned as we “mature.”  While many wish to focus on Larry’s identification with the gay community as reason for such a horrific reaction, the cause for Brandon’s response goes far deeper. Scorn is rarely selective.  Disparagement is an equal opportunity employer.

Abusive behaviors are rooted in our personal history.  We cannot dismiss the fact that as a society, our past performances towards those we disdain are deplorable.  As a culture, emotional beings that we are, we embrace love and hate, and ignore indifference.

We must ask ourselves, what are we doing to our offspring from the day they enter this world, and why.  Answers offered after the fact, solutions that do not address the broader question will not stop the violence we see in schools.  Nor will it quash the mayhem or reduce the murders we see on our streets.  Hate crimes are born at home.  Mothers and fathers motivate much that occurs.  Moms and Dads often do what was done to them.

Children ‘learn violence from parents’

Children who witness domestic violence are at an increased risk of having abusive relationships as adults, researchers have found.

Being abused as a child and having behavioural problems also increases the risk of being violent as adults.  Receiving excessive punishment is another risk factor.  US researchers from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute followed 540 children for 20 years from 1975 . . .

If a pattern of violent behaviour towards a partner has been established, it is difficult to change say the researchers. . . .

If a child was hit by their parents, they were much more likely to see violence as a way of resolving problems as adults, the researchers found.

But seeing violence perpetuated between parents was found the be the greatest risk factor for being the victim of a violent partner as an adult.

Both men and women who witnessed domestic violence were likely to grow up to abuse their partners . . .

“This acceptance of coercive, power-based norms as ways of regulating conflict may have direct implications for young adults’ means of conflict resolution with partners, independent of a disruptive behaviour disorder.”

For too many of our young persons a forceful hand, a furious face, and a vicious voice are identified with those they are most fond of.  Children are confused.  In too many lives, love does not come easily.  Little ones do not know what authentic affection looks like.  As “mature” beings, some people seek the wisdom they did not acquire in their family homes.  They wish to learn of what could not have been fully integrated in a school curriculum.  Grown-up persons harmed by habits that debilitate a mind, body, heart, and soul know to their core, habits die hard.  Adult classes meant to teach as Assemblyman Eng proposed exist at West Virginia University an older person can study How To Communicate Love.  Learners are instructed, “Love comes from within.”  Students are advised to appreciate themselves.

Learning to love yourself will help create your personal appearance of love. If you do not know how to love yourself, you will not be able to love others. Loving yourself also means that you have a loving attitude in your actions and responses toward others; that you look for opportunities to help rather than be helped; that you communicate a loving appreciation of others with “thank you” and “please” as part of your vocabulary; that you forgive others and do not hold a grudge; and that you help people in need without thought of reward or recognition.

However, ultimately pupils are reminded of what Lawrence and Brandon have helped us realize.

How we communicate love to others is learned; we are not born with the ability to communicate love.

Nor are we born with the ability to hate.  Each of us, every man, woman, and child is well-trained.  If we are to truly end the violence that exists in schools, we must eliminate the hostility in our homes.  Assemblyman Eng, perhaps a program in parenting, one instituted in every community throughout the globe might be more effective than any instruction in a school.  If we are to truly teach forbearance to our progeny we must acknowledge parents, adults in every avenue are our life teachers.   Let us not speak of how best to teach the children tolerance.  We, their elders must learn how to love first.  Perhaps, if the elders begin to appreciate each other without brutality, next Valentine’s Day Cupid will not shoot arrow.  He will bestow gentle kisses on each of us.

“God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex.

Larry was a masterpiece.”

~ Reverend Dan Birchfield, Westminster Presbyterian Church

Sources, Societal Scars, Scabs . . .

Citizens Vote; Democracy In Question

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

In this a Presidential election year, citizens of this country are intensely aware, every vote counts.  The world witnessed, in State after State people scrambled to the polls.  Voters of every age have turned out in large numbers.  The sprint to the White House is on.  Most every electorate wants to join in.  the people wish to return to power.  Much is at stake.  The people want to participate in the process.

In America, in a democracy, government is defined as organization that operates of, by, and for the people.  The people choose who will represent them in the Executive and Legislatives Branches.  Executives appoint persons to occupy Judicial seats.  Supreme Court Jurists may serve the public for a lifetime.  Legislators also have infinite influence.  Members of Congress make laws and approve nominees.  Thus, those who speak and stand in for the common folk have much power.

Hence, it is essential, before the average Joe or Joanne casts a ballot they must be very well informed.  When the American people vote they place their lives in the hands of a few.  Access to the candidates is vital if people are to make an informed decision.  During a Presidential election year, it is imperative that the people, one and all, be given an opportunity to meet and greet the hopefuls.  A President of the United States is the single most important being on the globe.  He or she is superior to all other officials who reside in this region.  Since the United States is considered the world’s only true Super Power, the President of this nation is virtually omnipotent, or at least some often act as though they are.

It is for this reason the electorate must choose wisely.  Each adult needs to ponder, who is the person who will best represent my interest?  Which Presidential hopeful will serve persons in every community equally?  Who will work for the common good of the people and not for personal fame and fortune?  There is much to research.  Reflection needs to be deep and thoughtful.  The public must ensure that a Presidential aspirant knows of and wishes to honor the desires of his or her constituents.  However, this determination is difficult to make.

Most of the citizens in this country only see the hopefuls in well-crafted, scripted moments.  Television and the Internet dominate the delivery of news about the candidates.  Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported.

The internet is living up to its potential as a major source for news about the presidential campaign.  Nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) say they regularly learn something about the campaign from the internet, almost double the percentage from a comparable point in the 2004 campaign (13%). ?

Moreover, the internet has now become a leading source of campaign news for young people and the role of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook is a notable part of the story.  Fully 42% of those ages 18 to 29 say they regularly learn about the campaign from the internet, the highest percentage for any news source.  In January 2004, just 20% of young people said they routinely got campaign news from the internet.

[T]he proportion of Americans who rely on traditional news sources for information about the campaign has remained static or declined slightly since the last presidential campaign.  . . .

By contrast, the proportion of Americans who say they regularly learn about the campaign from the internet has more than doubled since 2000 – from 9% to 24%.

While it may seem that mainstream media has less of an influence of the electorate; indeed, the reverse may be true.  When we assess the sources of information accessed on the Internet we realize, corporate control still speaks volumes.

People who rely on the internet for campaign news turn to a wide array of websites.  The most frequently mentioned online news outlets are MSNBC (at 26%), CNN (23%) and Yahoo News (22%).

Few constituents know more than the media allows.  What the press makes available is extremely limited.  Independent-minded persons believe they know more.  Yet, these persons are also influenced.  Chant as the indies might, the media is hostile to anti-establishment candidates, John Edwards, Ron Paul, and Mike Huckabee, the three barely-acceptable do appear on stage.  Corporate controlled columnists recognize it is important to appear unbiased.

Americans must wonder of those whose exposure is eliminated.  Perchance, constituents might consider the plight of Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich.  Presidential aspirant Kucinich was excluded from the American Association for Retired Persons [AARP] debate in the Hawkeye State.  In Granite country, ABC News declared Dennis Kucinich would be barred from the dialogue.  Silver State voters were not able to see the profound Presidential hopeful on stage.  He was relegated to the streets allowed to speak only to the neon lights.  The Palmetto State decreed, “Dennis, this is not your kingdom.”  Indeed, you are locked out in this land of liberty.  Texas told its tall tale.  Dennis Kucinich would not be the hero in the Lone Star State.  Ultimately, the only Presidential hopeful who is a member of a Union, endorsed an authentic Universal Health Care program, a Single Payer, Not For Profit plan was forced to withdraw his name from the ballot.  Perhaps the lack of press coverage played a role.

While Congressman and Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich was ahead in many Progressive surveys, among the general public the candidate remained an unknown.  In August 2007, the aspirant was heard to say “Polls are a function of name recognition, not a function of whether people support your ideas.  As people become aware of my candidacy, the evidence of that support is going to rise.”  Yet, sheltered from view few voters ever knew who Dennis Kucinich was or is.  Fewer still know when or where they could cast a ballot.

Confused Florida voters try to cast ballots in Super Tuesday primaries

The problem?  Florida had its presidential primary Last week.

Robert Perez

Orlando Sentinel

February 5, 2008

Millions of Americans in 24 states are turning out vote to in Super Tuesday presidential primaries from Georgia to Alaska today.  Meanwhile, some dedicated if confused Florida voters are trying to, as well.??

Elections offices across the state are reporting hundreds of calls from voters wanting to know where they can vote today.  The answer is that Florida already had its presidential primary — last week.??

“We’ve had over 100 calls at least over the last two days,” said Kathy Adams, a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Election Supervisor.??

Closer to home, Orange County elections officials say they are dealing with a combination of confused voters from Florida and California.??

“One of my staffers has figured it out,” said Orange County Election Supervisor Bill Cowles.  “They are California voters going online and looking for the Orange County [California] election office and calling us instead.”

Of course that doesn’t explain the man who showed up at a polling site this morning in Orlando wanting to vote, Cowles conceded.?

Nor does this story enlighten the electorate as to why, in this the Information Age, so little is known, or shared with expectant voters.  If people do not know to ask, instructions are not given.  Votes, as important as they are, in 2008, are not counted.  In this the Twenty-First Century, not only is Florida a foible, California has come to encapsulate election fraud, folly, or failures.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble.

By Steven Mikulan

LA Weekly

February 5, 2008 3:22 PM

Election cross-over dreams become a nightmare

Last Friday members of the nonpartisan election group, CourageCampaign.org, were surfing the Web when they discovered a blog posting noting that Los Angeles County voters faced what organization spokesman Rick Jacobs calls “bubble trouble.”  In order for any of the county’s 776,000 voters who have registered Nonpartisan to vote in the open primaries for the Democratic or American Independent parties, they would have to mark an extra bubble on the ballot naming the party for which they wished to cast a cross-over ballot.  After a weekend of research, Jacobs says, CC.org contacted the office of L.A.’s Registrar of Voters on Sunday and were told it was true — an extra bubble had to be inked, and, yes, it could prove to be a big headache on election day.  The bottom line: If the “declaration” bubble is not inked on a Nonpartisan ballot, the voter’s presidential preference would be voided, though not the part pertaining to propositions.

By noon election day, CC.org’s worst fears were realized as voters began complaining that poll workers hadn’t pointed out the extra bubble.  The registrar’s office has tried to get word out to its workers about the issue but at this point, it’s impossible to know how many votes have been lost.  One thing is certain, however: It will be impossible to conduct a recount of the cross-over ballots because voters were handed both Nonpartisan and Democratic ballots and there are cases where the bubble numbers for candidates from different parties overlap.

Common characteristics, the overlap, be it in bubbles, ballots, or the barrage of disinformation is unavoidable.  The public peruses multiple sources, seeks infinite references; nonetheless, little of what the people know is untainted or from an independent and genuinely reliable source.  In this global village, we are all connected, interconnected, on the Internet, near the television, or scanning the periodicals.  Each is owned by one of the six, General Electric, Time Warner, Walt Disney, News Corp, CBS, or Viacom, all of whom are friendly with the others.  Internet users say this matters not to them.  However, in truth it does.

Well, you might comfort yourself by thinking about cyberspace.  Think again.  The dominant Internet service provider, America Online, is combining with already-number-one Time Warner- and the new firm AOL Time Warner would have more to lose than any other corporation if a movement grew to demand antitrust action against media conglomerates.

Amid rampant overall commercialization of the most heavily trafficked websites, AOL steers its 22 million subscribers in many directions-and, in the future, Time Warner’s offerings will be most frequently highlighted.  While seeming to be gateways to a vast cybergalaxy, AOL’s favorite links will remain overwhelmingly corporate friendly within a virtual cul-de-sac.

Hype about the new media seems boundless, while insatiable old hungers for maximum profits fill countless screens.  Centralization is the order of the media day.  As Bagdikian points out: “The power and influence of the dominant companies are understated by counting them as ‘six.’  They are intertwined: they own stock in each other, they cooperate in joint media ventures, and among themselves they divide profits from some of the most widely viewed programs on television, cable and movies.”

So, Americans please take no comfort.  Do not think you made an informed, independent choice. All that you read, all that you heard, what you viewed was influenced. The decision was made before you knew you could have had a choice.  This, the United States, is not a democratic system.

Cast A Vote, Give Voice To Your Needs.  Pray for a Democracy . . .

Location – Location – Location; Superdome or Qualcomm Stadium?

copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

Booker Harris and his wife Allie are not household names.  There has been no round the clock coverage of Mr. Booker, age 91, who was deposited in a lawn chair, in front of the Superdome, during Katrina.  Mr. Booker died there of dehydration, shock, neglect, and racism of the first order.  Allie, age 93, his frail wife, sat at his side munching on crackers, unaware of her surroundings, or the death of her husband.

They’d survived wars, the Great Depression, the KKK, segregated water fountains/restaurants, schools, housing, red neck Southern sheriffs, numerous floods, and hurricanes.  What they didn’t survive was the contemptible corruption, and gentrification by disaster, of the 21st century.  What they didn’t survive, was a nation that boasts of dancing amongst the stars, visiting distant planets, yet is incapable of building a levee here on earth?

What Allie and Booker did not survive, was the hypocrisy of the media,  that showed some fool who ripped off a plasma TV, making his way through the flood waters (over and over).  To date,  we have not seen similar video footage of duffel bags filled with multi-billions that have gone missing in Iraq?  We have seen local TV cameras,  chasing a recipient  of food stamps down the street,  daring to obtain more than her one allotted book.  To date,  there has been no rational explanation, as to where the $2.3 trillion,  that Donald Rumsfeld reported was unaccounted for on Sept 10-2001.  There’s thievery and then there’s plunder.  It’s a black and white thing.  The poor go to jail, while the rich get dream teams, have convenient heart attacks, or get executive pardons.

What the Harris couple didn’t survive was a nation with a non-existent disaster plan (absent bunkers for the elite/chosen politicians).These are the photographs that the media did not  show over and over again on TV. 

Location – Location – Location: If one were to be given a choice, of where they might want to experience a disaster, they would definitely want to reside in an area of the wealthy/famous.  Disaster has its own class act – as does greater society.  It’s something not spoken of – this class issue.  Better to instigate turmoil and chaos pitting victims against victims., thus excusing the corporate hucksters (rich and the shameless); of their insatiable greed and depraved indifference.  The majority of folks, who lost everything during Katrina,  were the working poor, the dispossessed, the handicapped, and elderly.  Ordinary people.

The media presented the gullible masses with rumors of rapes, murders, and mayhem.  This was proved to be false by military personnel who entered  days later.  Naturally, this did not make headline news.  Why the subterfuge?  Maybe because such reports were a perfect excuse to send in the military and Blackwater mercenary forces, to evict the unwilling (homes not flooded) and to confiscate legal firearms so that citizens couldn’t defend their homes?

The fires in California (2007) saw the multi-million dollar mansions, seaside homes, and gated communities of Orange County, threatened by fire.  Fire, that is a known threat in this area of heavy brush and yearly windstorms.  Nobody blamed the residents (except George Carlin) for bringing this disaster upon themselves.  Most of the nation is unfamiliar with the great disparity that exists in California.  No homeless people reside on the streets of San Diego.  There are no unsightly tenements, clinics, or trailer parks.

Orange County is a place of exclusive homes, in gated communities, with their own schools, shopping and security forces.  Gated communities, next to gated communities.  Who are they gating out?  Robert Bellah, who wrote Habit of the Heart, states, “The underclass gives people something to define themselves against; it tells them what they are not; it tells them what it would be most fearful to become.  And it gives them people to blame.”  The gated communities of today are a powerful tangible symbol of the division between the underclass and everyone else.  To be upper middle class – wealthy is to be trustworthy, law – abiding and in need of protection from violent scavenging poor people.  Or conversely, to be poor, is to be violent and depraved – a threat to the rich.  Such construction of class differences paints poor people in a highly distorted manner.  This is deliberate.  Easier to blame the poor than those in designer suits and $400.00 haircuts, for one’s problems, lack of employment etc.  Besides,  the poor are more readily available to blame and attack.  You’ll not be welcome with your petitions or protests  in gated communities, country clubs, or the headquarters of gluttonous, corporate CEOs.  They keep themselves far removed from the unsavory things of life (namely the poor).

These gated communities are a tangible symbol of the fear and ignorance that divides upper class people from the working class and poor.  This fear is expressed with fences, walls, guards, dogs, alarms, private bodyguards etc.  In other areas of the country, this bias is less visible.  Instead, exclusive towns, tourist meccas, and post card villages, exclude the unwanted by cost, no affordable rentals, zoning restrictions  etc.  We are fast becoming a nation of isolated islands.  The poor and working class (needed as mechanics, laborers, maids, waitresses, parking valets, carpenters, brick layers, roofers etc) are kept out of sight, in trailer parks or poorer – socio – economic areas.  It is to these places that the wealthy send their refuse to be burned or dumped, build their coal plants, nuclear facilities, chemical plants, and incinerators.

An incinerator will never be built in downtown San Diego, Jackson Hole Wyoming, or in downtown Kennebunkport, Maine etc.  All animals are not equal.  Some are identified as ‘acceptable risks’ or ‘collateral damage’.  Their purpose in life (unspoken) is to serve the greater good.  Mainly to make life more amenable and lucrative for the obscenely wealthy.  Only the children of the working poor  (East Liverpool, Ohio) would be subjected to a toxic incinerator situated next to a schoolyard.  Imagine the outrage if an incinerator was located next to a private school with its soccer fields, or an exclusive yacht club, or golf course  etc?  Part of an ‘Inconvenient Truth’, is that Al Gore (running for election with Clinton) promised these folks that such an outrage would never happen.  He promised  (if elected) to  stop it.  Clinton got elected and they both forgot East Liverpool, Ohio.  What a shock!!

I noticed that during the catastrophe of the California fires, that those attempting to escape were not forced back into the flames.  Many watching the disaster in New Orleans wondered why people didn’t just leave on  foot (those who were able)?  The Louisiana Superdome is less than two miles from a bridge that leads over the Mississippi River out of the city. 

The answer: Any group of people attempting to do so were met by police who fired their guns to disperse the group and contain them.  Around 500 people stuck in downtown New Orleans banded together in self-protection making sure that the oldest and youngest were taken care of.  Two San Francisco paramedics who had been attending a convention were with this group and  reported their trauma on CNN (once).

They made their way on foot over Highway 90, which crosses the Mississippi River from New Orleans to the suburb of Gretna (not flooded).  This is an upscale community for professionals etc, who work in New Orleans.  Much like Greenwich, CT, is to New York City.  The crowd had grown to approximately 800 people.  As they approached the bridge, the police fired their weapons over the people’s heads, driving them back into the floodwaters.

When the paramedics (white) questioned the sheriff as to why they were not being permitted to cross the bridge to dry ground, he replied that Gretna was not going to become a New Orleans and there would be no Superdome in Gretna.  Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson, in an interview with UPI stated, “If we had opened the bridge our town would have looked like New Orleans..”  Months  later, after the flood and the news crews had left, seven New Orleans police officers were indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder and attempted murder for shooting unarmed citizens  as they attempted to cross a bridge to dry ground.  One of those killed was mentally – retarded, the other was a young student,  who had become separated from his parents.  No such shootings of civilians attempting to escape in California were reported.

The New Orleans Superdome was chaotic.  People fled there to escape the floodwaters (broken levees).  The heat was intolerable.  There were no lights, the toilets all backed up (sewage treatment plant not working) and were overflowing.  There was no food and no medicine.  Many elderly, in need of heart medicines and insulin, etc, were left stranded.  Babies were without formula and nourishment.  While we have all watched reports of our feats in space – it appears, that here on earth, with all our ingenuity, we were unable to reach New Orleans for days!!  Dogs were seen eating the bloated bodies, floating in the snake infested polluted waters.  In California, efforts were made to save the animals.  A special shelter area was set up to attend their needs.  The animals in California fared much better than any human in New Orleans & Mississippi.

The federal, state, and local officials spent their time blaming one another, as the people died in attics, drowned in floodwaters, or were being shot at by police.  Here it is two years later and New Orleans is still a wasteland (areas where the working poor once lived).  There is no affordable housing, schools, or hospitals.  Truth is, the hundreds of thousands of New Orleans citizens, scattered across the nation will not be going home.  There’s nothing being done to welcome them!  Most likely, the wealthy will have their way and realize a New Orleans Mardi Gras theme resort, with high-end condos, hotels, casinos, and convention centers.

Imagine yourself being born and raised in the bayou and finding yourself shipped off to Idaho, Maine, or the streets of Washington D.C. etc?  This is what happened to tens of thousands.  We have become desensitized to the traumas of others outside our own narrow interests.  There is no civilization when people have lost their sense of outrage or are without conscience.

Meantime a stadium in San Diego saw the difference in response to a crisis.  In the case of the California fires, citizens weren’t left in the inferno.  They weren’t gunned down trying to escape.  They weren’t blamed for their stupidity for living in an area known for its disasters.  They weren’t parked on nearby highways and told to wait for days for assistance.  No, instead, the Qualcomm Stadium had a carnival like atmosphere about it.  Citizens (well insured) weren’t being bussed off to distant states.  While New Orleans, citizens sat in stadium seats, in the dark, with rain pouring in from a damaged roof, the folks in California had cots, showers, and an infirmary.

There were three bands, a ‘Kids Zone’, stacks of diapers, baby wipes, formula, and gallons of water, with gourmet meals served up by local restaurants.  Massage, counseling, and acupuncture, were offered to those traumatized and stressed out.  Tents were set up to assist people in contacting their insurance companies, lawyers and contractors.  One woman stated, “Now we have to deal with our insurance company and lawyers We Californians are a resilient people.  We’re going to rebuild and have the biggest house on the block.”  They went on to complain of the inconvenience of having to stay in a luxurious hotel.

What wasn’t shown (brief reports) were the hundreds of homes that were saved, due to contracts that homeowners had with private fire companies.  These private companies respond in such emergencies with a fire retardant gel (new to the market) that protects homes in the most intense of fires.  Afterwards, power washing, washes away this bi-degradable protection.  Cost of premiums for this is $10,000 a year.  Many on the Gulf Coast, from Mississippi to New Orleans, two years later, are still fighting for insurance payments.  They are told that the damages they received were from wind and not flood damage, and therefore they cannot collect.  Some had every insurance under the sun and are still being jerked around.  Those in California, with the winds blowing embers for miles, and thus igniting their homes, were not told, “Sorry folks it was the winds not the fire.”

All animals aren’t equal nor are all disasters.  The citizens of the Gulf Coast were discarded much like refuse.  Traumatized, homeless, and penniless, they’ve had to battle on alone.  Meantime President Bush promised the citizens in California that financial help was on the way.  One group of people suffered a disaster of untold suffering.  Another (white) for the most part, experienced an adventure in gourmet-serviced deprivation. 

And Condi Rice?  What advice did she have for the victims of government bungling in New Orleans?  ” The Lord is going to come on time – just wait.” Oh The Humanity.

Iraq, Four Years Later. All We Are Saying is “Give Peace A Chance!”

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

It may have been a January evening; perhaps it was earlier.  The year was 2003.  I was living in Orange County, California.  I saw Gretchen as I exited the pool.  She and I were newly acquainted.  Quickly we realized we shared a solid belief; war is not an option!  On this night, Gretchen mentioned there was a peace vigil at the corner of Anton and Bristol in Costa Mesa.  Protestors were gathering across from one of the swankiest market places in the nation, South Coast Plaza.  Certainly, Americans would be there, for in 2001, after the Twin Towers fell President Bush and Vice President Cheney encouraged citizens to go shopping. 

In an afternoon conversation, Gretchen’s son spoke of the event.  He had been in the past and she was on her way there now.  She asked if I would like to join her.  I am as far from spontaneous as a person can be.  Nevertheless, there are times when principles are more important than habits.  Neither of us hesitated.  Gretchen did not have to convince me to go.  We attended our first peace vigil together.  We were there within minutes.  That was the beginning of an all too long and all too important series of protests. 

The Orange County Peace Coalition organized that event and many others.  Gretchen and I attended most rallies.  We marched; we sat, and we sang, all in hopes of promoting the philosophy, “Give Peace a Chance!”

Each of us was present at Coalition meetings.  We were willingly part of the peace movement!  Gretchen and I pleaded for harmony before the first bombs fell in Iraq.  We were appalled by the attacks in Afghanistan.  We had read too much.

On Monday, October 29th [2001], citing Reuters, The Times of India reported from Kabul, “a US bomb flattened a flimsy mud-brick home in Kabul on Sunday blowing apart seven children as they ate breakfast with their father.  The blast shattered a neighbour’s house killing another two children . . . the houses were in a residential area called Qalaye Khatir near a hill where the hard-line Taliban militia had placed an anti-aircraft gun.”

The Afghan town of Charikar, 60 kms north of Kabul, has been the recipient of many US bombs and missiles.  On Saturday, November 17th, US bombs killed two entire families — one of 16 members and the other of 14 — perished, together in the same house.

On the same day, bomb strikes in Khanabad near Kunduz, killed 100 people.  A refugee, Mohammed Rasul, recounts himself burying 11 people, pulled out of ruins there [ibid].

Multiply these scenes by a couple hundred and the reality on-the-ground in the Afghan October and November is approximated.  This same reality is blithely dismissed by the Pentagon and the compliant U.S. corporate media with “the claims could not be independently verified.”  Whereas the military press calls reports of high civilian casualties as being “inflated by air.”  Another comments on the “humanity of the air war.”  Yet another, wails about too much press coverage of civilian casualties by a media unable to understand that some civilian casualties must occur but that “what IS newsworthy is that so many bombs hit their targets.”

Afghanistan was and is a country living in the Stone Age. After eons of war, life is hard for all that live there. It is harder still since 2001.  With thanks to America there is a constant threat of death.  Yet, our Western civilized society bombs this nation, its homes, and inhabitants again and again. 

Gretchen and I could not understand why further destruction was necessary.  Killing innocent non-combatants, mostly children seemed senseless to us.  It still does.  When considering the conditions in Afghanistan the need for civilian deaths is more confusing.

Gretchen and I wanted no war.  Revenge did not and does not make sense to us.  Battle does not seem an apt solution.  Thus, we ventured out on that night and demonstrated against the war in the Middle East.  As we asked for withdrawal, Bush proposed escalation.  Gretchen and I participated each week in Friday night vigils.

Then it was evident.  George W. Bush was planning an attack on Iraq.  There was no stopping him.  Nevertheless, we wanted to be heard.  On March 19, a special service was held.  We knew that the bombs would fall, now, over Iraq.

Four years ago tonight, March 19, 2003, Gretchen, and I held our breath.  We still do.  However, throughout the years we tired at times.  Eggs were thrown at us.  A few times cars careened up onto the sidewalk, attempting to mow us down.  Police were called out to protect us, the protestors.  We wanted peace; however, we were very much alone.  The majority of Americans, or at least those in a conservative county, were against us.

Life went on in America.  It seemed many were untouched by the wars.  However, Gretchen and I were in tatters.  Our hearts hurt.  We could not ignore what was, even if the combat took place on fields far from homes, it affected us.

The war filled our minds and took up much of our time.  Gretchen and I were part of one event, then another.  Often, each week, hours of our lives were consumed in a “fight” against the wars.  Gretchen and I attended seminars, sought out information.  We painted signs, built crosses,  stars of David, and crescent moons.  We mounted these in the sand and presented a facsimile of Arlington Cemetery.  I logged the number of allied deaths, picked flowers for the fallen, and spoke in defense of the soldiers.  Gretchen was also vocal and active in her individual efforts.

Weeks became months.  Months turned into years.  I moved to Florida.  Gretchen stayed in California and continued to speak out, though she chose to be slightly less involved.  As I acclimated to this new locale, I too reduced my participation.  I wrote more and marched less.  I looked for political activists and found most were nowhere near my neighborhood.  I did see some at the corner, across the street from a shopping center here.

Tonight, I joined them.  I held a “Peace, not War!” sign on a local street corner.  My arm was extended.  My index and middle fingers formed the sign of peace.  Now living in a Red State, though a Blue community, horns were honking continuously.  The turn-out was not huge, though the Progressive population in Florida seems less politically involved.  Possibly, it is that I have not been here long enough to know what is happening.  It is my hope to learn more and to participate fully again.

I suspect here in Florida, many were mired in Bush haze for years.  Perchance they had given up.  With George in the White House and Jeb in the State House, residents in Florida may have felt they had no power.  There was no reason to believe.  I know I was disillusioned this November as I read that twenty-three percent of the Democrats were planning to vote Republican.

I understand from long time residents, change in this southern state is exceedingly slow.  Nevertheless,  in the last few months, I sense glimmers of hope.  A transformation seems possible.  Perhaps, that is just a dream, one that many of us share.  Nonetheless . . .

Tonight, as I held my sign, fellow protestors spoke of this.  The times they are a changing.  Transformation is in the wind. The young and old are rising up.  Children gathered with their parents at the corner where we stood,  Youngsters, less than five years of age held up their signs and chanted words of peace.

The white-haired man standing at my side said, this was his first time, his virginal vigil.  He grabbed a sign that expressed his sentiment, “Grandfather saying bring our troops home!”

Later, a middle aged man pulled up near the curb in a late model Sports Utility Vehicle.  A elderly gentleman accompanied him; he was sitting in the passenger seat.  The light was red; the driver, the younger of the two, stopped.  He opened his car door, jumped out, and dashed to the far side of the vehicle.  In the back seat, there was a folding chair.  The younger man placed the structure on the lawn within the crowd of protestors.  The senior citizen exited the car, sat in the seat now stable on the grass.  He took a sign and joined those requesting “Exit Iraq!”

This evening I thought of Gretchen.  I wondered; were Californians, even in a Republican ruled Orange County now ready to end this futile folly.  Were they too saying “It is time to leave!”  “Impeach Bush!”  “Bring our soldiers home now!”  Has this nation, long divided found a reason to unite?  Might peace be the answer.  Let us give peace a chance, please!

  • Orange County Peace Coalition.
  • Afghanistan. Reuters.
  • A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting.  By Professor Marc W. Herold  Ph.D., M.B.A., B.Sc. Whittemore School of Business & Economics. University of New Hampshire.
  • A Religious California Voter Loses Her Right ©

    For three decades, she has voted religiously in every California election. No ballot was too large or too small.  All were scrutinized carefully.  When she felt as though she did not have enough information to make a well-informed judgment, she turned to those who did.  She had been an activist from the start and knew many that were deeply connected.  She traveled in circles where people read books and wrote articles on affairs of state; they made political moves their lives.  She always had.

    This voter was willing to work as a volunteer.  She offered to assist in telephone banks; she went from neighborhood to neighborhood collecting signatures for petitions.  The woman stuffed envelopes, posted signs, walked precincts, and ultimately was asked to work as a Campaign Coordinator.  She was not looking for the position, though others were.  Her diligence and dedication to the cause promoted a candidate to ask if she would work for him.

    Whenever this constituent moved, she immediately changed her voter registration, often before she ordered her utilities.  Voting in every election was and is her highest priority.

    This elector first voted at the age of seventeen.  In the state of Wisconsin, if a person was going to be eighteen at the time of the general election and was seventeen during the primaries, they were granted the right to vote.

    She hitchhiked in a pouring rain to get to that first poll and in a blizzard to cast her ballot in the Presidential election of 1972.  It just so happened that she was among the first eighteen year olds to vote; she could not miss that.  In Wisconsin, she skipped one school board election.  There was only one candidate and she did not know the person well.  However, guilt ate her up.  She never failed to participate again.

    This citizen moved to California in 1977 and voted as a Californian ever since.  Now the time has come and her heart is heavy.

    She willingly and wanted to move to Florida in November 2005.  She began planning in June of that year.  While this resident actively questioned the wisdom of her decision, she knew that unless she did it, she would never know if the choice was correct.  As a long time inhabitant of California she was torn.  Life was good, stable, and comfortable.  She was at home.  Still she needed to go.

    The Irvine city dweller sold the home she loved and had created.  She physically separated herself from friends and family and flew to Florida. Days after landing in Palm Beach County she went to get her drivers license and change her voter registration.  That done she knew she could no longer support Barbara Boxer with the vigor of a voting constituent. Arnold would not be burdened by her votes in opposition.  It was real; she would not vote in California anytime soon, if ever again.

    Yet, she also understood that, until she cast a ballot in Boca, it would feel as if nothing had changed.  Today, that reality was altered.  A card arrived in the mail.  The return address looked so familiar, because it was.  It was from the Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana, California.  It was addressed to me at my correct [Florida] address.  The Registrar wanted me to make it official, to give up my right to religiously vote in California elections.  They want me to confirm that this move is not temporary and that I am now a Florida resident.

    My heart is sinking, must I sign away my post.  I want to turn Florida Blue, even Blue-Green; yet, voting in California is my religion or was.  Now I must convert.

    Welcome to 37 Eastmont, Irvine, California. My Home Might Be Yours

    For those of you that have been following my personal transition, I offer my home.

    Please view the property, virtually.  If possible, attend an open house. My doors are open to you.

    If you are not able to attend on a weekday, the house will be open again on the weekend.  You may enter 37 Eastmont on Saturday, September 17 between noon and 4:00 PM, or come on Sunday the 18th, at the same times.

    I invite you to my or your Home Sweet Home!

    • Please click on the above link.  Tour the home, read the brochure, and peruse the photographs on page three.


    The Evolution. Please Share Your Story . . .©

    I am immersing myself in a bubble.  At times I am floating and at other times, pop!  All that I thought was perfect appears far less than that.

    Politics, puns, pontificating, professing, or pretending to know what I cannot imagine, are not my chosen path in this moment.  Writing words of wonderment is beyond me for now.  I am wrestling with life decisions.  I have decided to make a huge change, to consider a life transition.  I am certain that I need to at minimum, explore this idea.  For the last two months, I have done much research, made many telephone calls, pursued practical avenues, and now the time has come.

    I have wanted to live in Southern Florida since the age of eleven.  At that ripe-old-age, I traveled to Miami Beach. I spent the summer living with my grandparents. I loved it.  Some may muse my present lusting is that of a child. It reflects a hope to return to a carefree life.  It is not.  I know if I move now, as an adult, the experience will differ.  My grandparents will not protect or play with me; they will not cover my expenses.

    I will be on my own, with a little loving support from friends and family.  I trust that one cannot re-capture youth; nor would I ever want to.  I know not of others; however, I do know for me, who I am in this moment brings me more happiness than I ever imaged.

    Some theorize those wishing to escape their current circumstances make a move such as this.  Ah, if only that were the case.  I love my life!  I love my community!  I love the people, the places; I disdain the climate.

    For me, Southern California is cold, brown, and gloomy.  We have sun, but it comes late in the day.  We have heat, though never much.  We have no clouds.  The skies are vacant and clear or there is a marine layer.  Thus, I want to leave.  As a very close friend said, “You gave it a shot.”  I have been here for decades!  It is time to transition, though fear invades my every thought, or at least many of them.

    Am I doing the “right” thing?  Will I have regrets and if I do what then?  I may have remorse for consciously choosing to give up all the beauty I created.  I have two Birchwood lined skylights!  I put skylights in my present home thinking that would help; however, I cannot escape what is outside or how it affects me within.

    There are those that invest in real estate.  They buy simply to sell.  They sell to make money.  They enter a house merely to exit again, in the not too distant future.  I am not one of these.

    Some move to buy better; money is no object.  That is not my situation.

    People move to a better neighbor, more fashionable and chic.  Their travels do not take them far; they go up the street, or a town or two away.  Individuals are able to easily assess the properties that they are interested in.  A few hours here, then there, and decisions are made.

    For me, these luxuries are fleeting.  I need to view from afar, to speculate, to cogitate, and ultimately fly.  Even then, I wonder; will I truly know?  The comfort that comes with being able to live in a community for a time, to cast money to the wind in rent, to uproot, to gather all one’s belongings and store them for a time is not mine.  I think, what of the babies?

    Several people have what they call “pets”; they are independent and can be cared for by anyone.  Many muse the anxiety that these creatures experience is not lasting.  Possibly I have “too” strong a background in psychology or I have read “too much” on the brain patterns of what some think are “pets.”  Nevertheless. When I read of and saw the magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] of mammals as they view photographs of those that care for them, my heart leaped.  I am more certain than ever that my babies are important to me and I am to them.  My travels need to consider their well-being.

    Thus, I ask, can you relate?  Do you have similar stories?  Please share your stories. Tell me, what was your situation?  Have you ever altered your life intentionally, knowing that all was well and yet, you needed to change?  How did you go about this?  How did your story evolve? What did you learn from it and eventually, what did you conclude?