Monthly Archives: April 2009

Poetic Justice

April is poetry month so I wanted to get a poem I wrote in before the month was up.

Poetic Justice

Mick, wop, dago, spick,

nigger, chink, wet back,

squaw, gook, zipper head,

rag head, Jew bastard.

Pretty vile terms for most

but Betty’s daily language.

She just needed someone

to blame for her failures.

Her racist language and hate

drove away a husband

and her daughter Anna

refused to let

the Grandkids

near her anymore.

Anna had barely survived

growing up in such

a racist household

she certainly wasn’t going to expose

her children to such verbal poisons.

Being consumed with so much hate

took its toll on Betty’s health.

One’s brain and heart eventually fail

when force-feed so many toxins.

Betty’s family wanted no part of her so

she ended up in a county nursing home.

The irony is now the only ones

who daily talk to her

are a black nurse

named Helen who

changes her bed pan

and wipes her ass

and a Hispanic nurse

named, Lupita who does

the same on afternoon turn.

 

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Eye Am Not Your Benefactor

We can learn a lot from our elders. That’s why I want you to check out a blog I just added to my blog roll. It’s called, “Meander With Me.” Mary it’s author is almost 90 and can express the problems the Elecpencil has with religious fanatics far better than I can. Mary is also a very darn good poet and April is poetry month so check out her blog!

This morning I was watching CSPAN as I was dressing for work. The host answered a call on their republican lines  from an elderly man so angry I thought he’d stroke out. He said, “I am opposed to any form of a national health care system.” The host asked, “Does your employer provide you with health care?” The caller answered, “No I am retired and on Medicare.” I always like a big dose of hypocrisy as I head off to work, as I like to never forget I share the highways with such pinhead hypocrites. Being fully aware of  that fact makes me  a more cautious driver.

Speaking of health care let me tell you about my experience since last week. Last Monday I went to my eye doctor because my right eye has been bloodshot and sore for a week. My eye doctor’s office has three doctors in it and I can end up with either one of the three depending on what day I have an appointment as they all work different days. Monday I saw the oldest male doc. Doc said, “You have a scratch on your eye and now have an ulcer in it. The good news is it’s out of your line of vision and treatable.” He gave me a prescription for steroid eye drops. He said I should dispense one drop every hour and come back in tomorrow. I paid my $20 co-pay and made an appointment.

On the way home I stopped at our township’s pharmacy (locally owned not a chain) and paid $20 for the drops. Tuesday morning back at the doctors I see a younger male doctor. He says, “Take the drops every four hours and come back Thursday.” I pay another $20 co-pay and make an appointment for Thursday afternoon. Thursday I see the older male doc again who says my eye looks better but I need to come back Monday. I pay my $20 co-pay and make an appointment for late afternoon. At this point I realize I have spent my Easter vacation pretty much at the eye doctor’s office.

Monday after work I see a younger woman doctor. She says, “I had lunch with the other two doctors today and they filled me in on your case.” She adds, “Keep taking the drops and come back Wednesday.” I pay my $20 co-pay and once again make an appointment for after work.

On the way home I got to thinking about all of my appointments. I realized I had pretty much been the only patient in the waiting room every time I went. There had been some people but they were mostly seeing the woman who repairs eyeglasses. Even though there seemed to be no patients before or after me I was kept waiting 30 minutes in the outer office and about 30 minutes waiting each time in the exam room.

I realized then that business is slow so the eye doctor’s office has devised an economic plan for sharing the workload instead of laying anyone off. As a labor activist I applaud such a plan that shares what little work there is. On the other hand as I seem to be the docs only patient I should have some input into this plan. That input is to tell the three docs I can’t keep coming into the office three times a week. I’m glad I was able to help the doctors keep their practice going but I don’t make much money so these eye doctors have picked the wrong “Cash Cow.” Besides not having the money I don’t really have the time to spend so much of my life in a doctor’s office. One more thing also I would ask the doctor trio is, “Damn if I’m your only patient why do you guys keep me waiting for an hour before you see me? “

Hey docs see you Wednesday and if you ask me to come in again my co-pay checks are going to start bouncing.

Latest update: At today’s appointment the oldest doc gave me a second prescription that cost $20 bucks at my local pharmacy. I paid a $20 co-pay to the eye doc and have to go back next Tuesday.  I’d say I’m being nickeled and dimed to death but everything cost $20.  I think because I only have one good eye at the moment they think they can pull the wool over on me pretty easy.

The Saw Doctors This is Me

Good News

No doctor is better than three.  ~German Proverb

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Brewing Flavorless Tea

Yesterday I attended “Lifeline to Valley Workers” that the UAW put on at the Chevrolet Center. There were many agencies, organizations and colleges  providing  information and resources for individuals in need of assistance. I went for a couple of hours to help at the Mahoning Watershed Time Bank booth.  I believe this organization could really help build community and that’s why I belong to it. I encourage you to join and you can find out more about it by clicking on Time Bank under the Mahoning Valley Links on my blog.

While at the Chevy Center I had the opportunity to talk to some people who have been out of work for some time and are really struggling. One man that stopped to chat had three children he worried about as he has been unemployed for quite a while and has used up his nest egg. Another young man admitted he screwed up his life by commiting a felony. He had completed some electrical classes but said no one would employ him because he has a felony. He said, “ I am going to go do volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity as maybe they can use some of the electrical skills I have learned. ” To me that sounded like a young guy who was not afraid to admit he had messed up his life and now wanted to at least  give back.

Another older man talked about losing his job and having difficulty getting another job at his age. A retired GM Lordstown employee told us he was lucky to have retired with a good pension and health care after over 30 years at GM.  Because he felt lucky he drove all the way down from his home in Ashtabula County because he was proud his UAW union was putting on this event to help others not as lucky as he had been. It was sad to hear so many stories of folks having a hard time in the job market. On the other hand it was nice so see so many organizations willing to help those in need.

While in downtown Youngstown I passed demonstrators for the TEA Bag protest. I find it interesting to note some of the signs I have seen on the news at these events across the country. I can agree with one I saw about ending the NAFTA trade agreement but not any others. While I noted what the UAW was doing to help people at the Chevrolet Center I see signs at some of yesterdays rallies trashing unions. I would ask those sign holders what it is they have done to help those who are unemployed.

The Rally in Warren Ohio had a doctor speak about health care. This is a doctor who writes right-wing letters to the area newspapers against socializing medicine. He loves to distort facts about the Canadian Heath care system. Bottom line doc is that in a new, bi-national opinion poll done by Canada’s CTV television network and the national newspaper Globe & Mail, 91 percent of Canadians said they preferred their national health care system over America’s private system.

I noted in the Warren Tribune that WKBN’s Dan Rivers came to give a talk bashing illegal immigrants. This while the “Real Americans” in attendance waved small U.S. flags made in China. One photo in the Tribune shows a “Real American” senior citizen in a jacket of Italian colors with the map of Italy on it. As he listened to River’s  speech I wonder if he thought about how if this was a hundred years ago someone would be trashing Italian immigrants calling them WOPS (With out Papers)?  I think the “Obama’s Plan White Slavery” sign at the Madison Wisconsin event was the most honest because it showed the racism that was at the heart of many of those at these events.

I ponder where these “Tea braggers” were when Bush was throwing money at war profiteers with billions in cost overruns. Sad news is former politicians turned corporate lobbyists like Dick Armey and Fox News were behind these rallies. Armey gets all manner of corporate welfare for his corporate clients then wants citizens to be outraged at the nation being in debt. Dick and Fox are ringmasters and they got clowns from around the country to attend a circus. The circus included “elephants” like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. Rush Limbaugh had stated the turn out might not be large as most of the people who would like to attend are real Americans who work. I thought that was an odd comment from a guy who works at a three hours radio program five days a week. I guess those heavy fifteen hour weeks are what lead to Rush’s drug problem.

CNN featured this humorous exchange between a reporter and Tea Bag participant holding a sign saying Obama is a fascist: Reporter: Why do you call president Obama a fascist?” Sign holder: “Because he is one.” Reporter: But why do you say that?” Sign holder: “Because he is.” Reporter: “Ok, sir, why do you say he’s a fascist? Why are you calling him a fascist?” Sign holder: “Because he is.” Doesn’t this tell you all you really need to know about the clowns who came to this circus?

Today I am thinking about those I met at the Chevy Center who would happily pay taxes if they only had a job. I contrast them to the whiners standing on street corners waving tea bags to protest paying taxes. Texas Gov. Perry said Texas pays so much federal taxes they should think about seceding from the United States. Texas gets back 88% of every federal dollar they send the federal government where a state like Minnesota gets 44%. I’d say that makes Texas a welfare queen we can no longer support.

I have mentioned before that I work with autistic children. The pay is not very rewarding but the kids and the people I work with make the job rewarding. Today I got this from a parent of an autistic child I am friends with that really had me thinking: Autism Violence

I’ve met many parents of autistic children that worry about the quality of life their child will have as an adult. I’ve visited prison and talked to men who are sorry for what they have done and hope their children don’t take the same wrong paths. I’ve seen people fired from their jobs because they were getting up in age and costing their employer more on the health care plan. I’ve seen veterans return home wounded and not getting proper care. I am seeing homeless people and unemployed people barely holding on to their homes. I see people struggling to feed their kids. I see all manner of people with their backs bent over suffering from the undeserved baggage of life. On the other hand I see tea bags being waved by pinheads manipulated by corporate interests like the Heritage Foundation, Fox News, lobbyists and right-wing politicians. Sorry tea baggers I have no time for your circus tent, as it doesn’t represent the real canvas of life.

Song by a Father of an Autistic Son

Bob Dylan with Autistic Message

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election~ Bill Vaughan











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Vampire Loving Zombies/Fight the Myth

Alright God Damn it that does it I have had it. I don’t give a shit if someone thinks I am speaking ill of the dead. This fairy tale about one of America’s biggest vampires needs a stake pounded through its heart. This vampire’s evil reign has left behind mindless zombies who worship him. These zombies are indeed in search of brains because they have lost theirs.  The most recent telling of this vampire’s fairy tale was a recent editorial in the Warren Tribune by syndicated columnist and zombie Pat Buchanan. Buchanan was saying Obama needs to be more like Reagan than FDR because Reaganomics worked and FDR’s New Deal didn’t. The truth is FDR was a hero and Reagan was a zero and no amount of lies from right-wingers can change that.

Busting the FOX/GOP lies about the New Deal

I lived through the Reagan years and I remember what evil greedy times they were. I have told my children if they ever have a teacher try to tell them Reagan was a good president to tell me because I will be at that school in a heartbeat to set that record straight.

The fact is Reagan’s administration was one of the most corrupt in American history. He had 138 of his appointees either resigned under an ethical cloud or were criminally indicted. He had 14 persons in his administration end up imprisoned. His policies led to the greatest financial scandal in American history: the Savings & Loan debacle, which cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The national debt tripled under him. He talked of making government smaller but made it larger. He talked militarily tough but retreated from Lebanon when U.S. marines were killed when their barracks was bombed.

During his reign the number of families living below the poverty line increased by one-third. He punished the poor by making major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, and school lunch programs. After his major tax cut, there was a long recession and unemployment that hit ten percent. His tax cuts reduced revenue so much that later in his term taxes had to be raised repeatedly.

Many college students had to drop out or find other ways to pay for school because of his policies, which included slashing federal grants for poor students and cutting survivor benefits for families of the disabled. This vampire did little to advance such goals as education or civil rights. In a nod to white southern racists he kicked off his 1980 general election campaign by promoting “states rights” — southern secret code for segregation — in Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of three civil rights workers 16 years earlier.

During his time in office the press thought he was so amiable that he became known as, “The Teflon President.” It wasn’t until years later after he was out of office that the media started reporting on how damaging his term in office was. The Philadelphia Inquirer stated, “Yes, he butchered facts, invented anecdotes, indulged White House chaos, and seemed dreamily unaware of the illegal deeds done during Iran-contra. He was guilty of all that, as well as union-busting, callousness to the poor, a failure to grasp America’s multicultural destiny.”

He is quoted as saying, “”Facts are stupid things.” He was so anti-environmental he blamed trees for emitting 93 percent of the nation’s nitrogen oxide pollution. His administration tried to redefine relish and ketchup as vegetables for school lunch programs. In the Oval Office, he told Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal, on two separate occasions, that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps in WW II. It was a lie they would later learn.

The other day I heard a right-wing talk show host call Obama, the anti-Reagan as if that was a bad thing. One of the most anti-Reagan guys I’ve ever met was Tom, who actually voted for Reagan his first term but not second. He realized what a mistake he had made and said he hated the term “Reagan Democrat.” He said he preferred to be known as a guy who fucked up once but not twice. He did tell me that Reagan would one day make him rich though. He explained it to me like this, “When that bastard Reagan dies I am going to sponsor bus trips to his grave. The trips will include all the beer you can drink and the only stop to urinate will be when the bus gets to Reagan’s grave.” He reasoned with all the people Reagan screwed over he’d need a fleet of buses. I thought that was awful harsh at the time but now when I hear conservative talk shows  stirring up hate by saying that they hope Obama fails because he is a communist who is going to take your gun I’m ready for a trip on Tom’s bus.

Least I forget Reagan supported, armed and trained death squads for brutal dictators throughout Latin America that killed 10’s of thousands of peasants, priests, nuns and union organizers. Given the amount of blood on Reagan’s hands I had to shake my head when a conservative columnist recently talked about Reagan being a winged angel in Heaven. If this piece of human excrement Reagan is not burning in the hottest section of Hell no one ever need fear going there.

If you think I am being overly harsh then you explain what a great president  Reagan was to the thousands of family members that stand in public plazas throughout Latin America holding pictures of missing or dead relatives that Reagan aiding in killing. These poor people pray and call out for justice while conservatives in the USA all pray for another Reagan. The truth is humans and the planet Earth herself are the “prey” of conservatives like Reagan. We need to never let anyone get away with saying Reagan was a great president for it is an affront to history.  I will not tolerate lies about Reagan being good for this country and I hope you are with me on that and will speak out whenever anyone talks of wanting another Reagan.

The Reagan Myth

Comedian Bill Hicks on Reagan

Music by Bill Hicks

The Easter Song

Two statements from Reagan showing he talked out both sides of his mouth:

“I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced at the point of a bayonet,  if necessary.”
–Ronald Reagan, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1965

“I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
–Ronald Reagan, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1966

What Reagan’s friend Thatcher said about him: “Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears.”

–British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

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Kicking Butts

I was trying to get to work on time when I heard a little bell go off to tell me I am low on gas. I pull into a gas station and run inside to hand the attendant $20 to get my gas. Of course since I’m in hurry there is a long line at the register. The first guy is getting a dozen different instant lottery tickets and can’t decide on which ones. The Elecpencil realizes his asshole magnet is on just because he is in a hurry.

The next customer says, “I need smokes make it a pack of Marlboros.” The register jockey asks, “ Marlboro Reds, Blues, Lights, Ultra-Lights, Menthol, Menthol Lights, Icy Mint, Crisp Mint, Fresh Mint, Super Marbles, Filter Plus, Filter Plus Ones, Kings, 72’s, or 100’s?” The smoker says, “Red Kings.” When the register jockey finds a pack young Marlboro Man says, “I want the hard pack not the soft pack.” The next customer was not as wealthy as Mr. Marlboro as she was buying a pack of cigarettes named, Basic. I think it is probably time to quit smoking when your brand is named, Basic. Basic must be the floor sweepings from the tobacco factory. If Marlboro is the steak of cigarettes Basic must be the hot dog or bologna of cigarettes. Truth is with the cost of cigarettes if you can afford to smoke Marlboros you are probably making to much money.

As I’ve said in the past I look at almost everything from the aspect of how it’s going to affect my children. Smoking has killed a lot of my relatives before their time so my children never got to meet some really special people. Smoking pollutes my children’s air and cigarette butts litter the planet my kids will inherit. On another note I have been fortunate to work with many young activists and have been disappointed to see so many of them smoke.

I find it strange activists protest things like the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the World Bank that exploit people in the Third World while they’re smoking cigarettes the most exploitive product in the whole world. One needs look no further for a metaphor for the greed of capitalism than cigarettes. The tobacco corporation bastards making cigarettes know they’re killing smokers, yet they laugh all the way to the bank. A perfect example of that comes from an R. J. Reynolds executive. When asked why he and his colleagues did not smoke, he replied, “We don’t smoke the shit, we just sell it. We reserve that for the young, the poor, the black, and the stupid.” (Committee on Energy and Commerce, United States House of Representatives Hearing on tobacco issues, 1989) That’s what they think of their customers.

When he said “shit,” truer words were never spoken. There are 4000 chemicals in cigarette tobacco and at least 43 are known carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Among these chemicals are: methanol, a rocket fuel, carbon monoxide, the poisonous gas in car exhaust, acetone, used to make paint stripper, butane, a form of lighter fluid, beta-maphtyl methyl ether, commonly known as mothballs, and formaldehyde, which is used to preserve dead bodies. For you smokers, who fire up one for breakfast, why not just put some rat poison on your Wheaties. That’s right; cigarettes include cyanide, a rat poison. They also include hydrogen cyanide, the poison used in gas chambers. Cigarettes also contain nicotine, a substance that addicts you. Tobacco companies have added ammonia to boost the availability of nicotine by up to 100 times. The process of adding ammonia to increase the impact of nicotine is called “free-basing,” and it is similar to the process used to heighten the effects of cocaine.

In a lawsuit against cigarette companies, a file called, The Kestrel Project by the British American Tobacco Company came to light. The project memo talked about ways to addict and market cigarettes to the young generation. Ideas included adding flavors, like root beer and fruit juices. Tobacco corporation’s research has shown that black is the favorite color of today’s youth. Therefore, cigarettes called “Just Black” are being marketed in developing countries. To keep the price low for young kids, they are sold in a 10 pack referred to as kiddie packs. The Kestrel Project is a fitting name because a Kestrel is a bird of prey that feeds on rodents. And the tobacco corporations who prey upon them consider smokers disposable rodents.

These are all reasons enough not to smoke, but let me appeal directly to activists on various social justice issues:

Racism: Early tobacco producers used black slave labor. Cigarette advertising billboards appear more in minority neighborhoods and more tobacco ads appear in black magazines than white ones.

World Hunger: In low-income countries where fertile land is rare, acreage that was used for needed food production is now controlled by tobacco corporations. Poor countries export much of the world’s tobacco and now are highly dependent upon food imports.

The Environment: The leading cause of deforestation is tobacco farming. Over 90% of tobacco land is in developing nations, where wood is the fuel used to cure tobacco. One acre of trees is cut for fuel per each acre of tobacco.

Animal Activists: Dogs who live with smokers are 1.6 times more likely to get lung cancer and 2.5 times more likely to develop nasal cancer.

National Health-Care: Tobacco use results in annual medical costs of $50 billion. That’s money that could go towards funding a national health-care system

For men, if I haven’t convinced you yet, how about the fact that smoking is going to make your penis shrivel up and drop off? OK, I’m exaggerating; it’s only going to result in 50% more impotency than nonsmokers and “result in a decrease in the number, duration, and quality of erections.” For women smoking causes earlier menopause and an increase in cervical and vulvar cancer.

Our world needs all the activists it can get. So kick the habit and put those greedy capitalist tobacco corporations out of business.

P. S.  Smokers you stink something awful. You make me gag when you get near me.

Attention New Smokers

Underground Sound anti-smoking

Anti-smoking commercial

I’m glad I don’t have to explain to a man from Mars why each day I set fire to dozens of little pieces of paper, and put them in my mouth.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

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