December 22, 2013

Who else is paying for their Endless War? The CA court system is

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:51 pm

Let’s think about all those trillions of dollars that have been constantly pouring into war profiteers’ pockets ever since they invented Vietnam. All those trillions must have come from somewhere. Of course we all know that some of them came from the Federal Reserve where they print Monopoly money like crazy. And, ironically, some of them have also come from multiple humungous loans from China. Plus some of that money also found its way into the pockets of War Street at approximately the same time that “all the gold in Fort Knox” mysteriously disappeared. And a few trillion also seems to have just materialized out of thin air — as if there was some ethereal war-profiteer fairy out there happily waving her magic wand. But a lot of this destructive blood-money also came out of the pockets of us American taxpayers. Trillions of dollars. From you and me.

All too many of us hard-working Americans have been forced to gird up our loins and go without so that war profiteers can afford to live like kings, buy multiple yachts, drink Veuve Clicquot champagne and smoke Cuban cigars.

You and I have gone without jobs, schools, roads, police, fire departments, hospitals, etc. in order to pay handsomely for War Street’s right to kill babies and Live Large.

And, apparently, we are also being forced to live without the high-quality court system that we here in California had grown accustomed to. How do I know this? Because the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association just told me so!

At a recent luncheon meeting of BABA at the famed Berkeley City Club (designed by Julia Morgan herself) and over roast chicken, fruit salad and pie, a judge from the Alameda County Superior Court gave us a talk on the struggles that Alameda County is going through just to keep its court system working and its courthouse doors open these days.

“One billion dollars was lost in the budget last year,” the speaker told us. “This is the toughest time financially in the history of this court. We have never has to worry about money before — but now we worry about money all of the time. It is very difficult to juggle to keep all of our programs alive.”

“For instance, there have been 26 furlough days this year, where court employees didn’t get paid. Courthouses are closed. We used to have 72 judges and nine commissioners. Now there are 18 vacancies this year. We went from 940 employees to 720 employees. We need 104 more just to operate. There used to be seven civil court locations. Now there are only two. Four family courts have been reduced to one family court. Four probate locations have been reduced to one.” Heaven forbid that you should have to die and your ghost be forced to stand in line for hours at probate court.

“And if you get a traffic ticket anywhere in the county, you will have to drive all the way down to Fremont to contest it. People stand in line for blocks at 5 am to get their tickets handled — and may still have to come back. And the only reason Alameda County is barely keeping its head above water right now is because we have so many employees who are dedicated to bringing access to justice for all. Sacramento County, for instance, doesn’t even have a civil filing office bull pen. You just leave your unfiled summonses, pleadings and other documents in a drop-box. Some counties have over 5000 unfiled documents right now.”

And where is the money from all those unpaid salaries going? As far as I can tell, it is going into the pockets of tax-dodging corporate welfare queens and heartless and immoral war profiteers. Christmas is coming up. Would Jesus approve of all this random bloodshed and not-random greed? Can you actually imagine Him saying, “I am Jesus and I approve this message.” No way!

“Then there is the problem of criminal realignment. 30,000 prisoners have been released but next year there will be no money for their realignment — so more petty thefts will occur. This will be very interesting to see.” In other words, 30,00 prisoners will get out of jail with only bus fare and the clothes on their backs.

And also court electronic data systems have suffered. “In some smaller counties, the filing system consists of putting papers in a box. And our county no longer has the personnel to support inter-court filing of documents either.” So you have to go to one specific court if you want to file a complaint or a probate document or a traffic ticket protest or an unlawful detainer.

And speaking of unlawful detainers (that’s where people who don’t pay their rent get invited to court by their landlord), the California court system has been flooded with them. “There are so many banks with foreclosures. These are our priority cases. And 95% of them are getting settled because judges from other departments volunteer to help out and get these cases heard — because where else are people being threatened with foreclosure evictions going to go if they lose their homes?”

PS: At its next monthly luncheon meeting, BABA asked a federal judge to speak — only he talked about an excess of money in America instead of a dearth of it, and how there have been whole tornadoes and hurricanes of money, flooding down on the USA like hailstorms ever since Citizens’ United took effect.

“And there is the additional problem of having individuals with unlimited personal bank accounts now running for office,” said the judge. “When all this money flows into the election system, only wealthy people are elected.” And why shouldn’t rich people invest in buying elections? For every dollar a huge corporation or war profiteer spends on buying an election, he gets a 5000% return in pork-barrel dollars sent his way.

“Swing states are already saturated with money on the presidential-campaign level,” and so any more money being poured into those campaigns will have decreasing effectiveness. “But large sums of money have an overwhelming effect on local elections. But even though voters aren’t stupid, even when being constantly bombarded with expensive ads, fair elections are still impossible under the current system,” said the judge as I happily ate roast beef, baby spinach and cheesecake.

“We in America have a very narrow view of what constitutes corruption.” It’s not corrupt to buy an election any more — just as long as you use the new Supreme Court guidelines or have a friend at Diebold. You can’t just slip a poll-worker a fin any more. That’s corrupt. You gotta be new-school about it.

“Chief Justice Roberts stated that, ‘The Supreme Court doesn’t make the laws. We just call balls and strikes’. That is wrong.” Especially when the current Supreme Court continuously calls out “strike!” even after a batter has obviously hit a home run.
PPS: “So, Jane. What’s your moral here?” The moral here is that we need to protect the integrity of our court system at any cost — even if it means that a few more war profiteers have to go without one of their yachts. And also that I love all those Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheons.

November 29, 2013

Do unto Syria as you would have Syria do unto you

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 11:51 pm

While walking through the streets of San Francisco the other day and totally admiring this beautiful city’s “painted lady” architectural glory, I suddenly and inexplicably started wondering what this amazing place might look like if it too had been bombed all to crap in the same manner that Damascus has been bombed to all to crap by all those missiles and cluster-bombs and Al Qaeda operatives — that American taxpayers are paying for — as they happily torture, rape and/or maim women and children in our name.

And this sudden unexpected vision of beautiful San Francisco as a bombed-out ruin has even further strengthened my resolve to do everything that I can to prevent America’s ruthless War Street from spending our money on bombing other countries — lest something like this happens to our beloved San Francisco too. Or to my own beloved Berkeley.

We need to stop all this expensive, bloody and worthless slaughter and seriously consider a far, far better alternative instead: “Do unto Syria what we would have Syria do unto us.”

And let’s also consider what corporate America’s current utter lack of a “Do unto Africa as we would have Africa do unto us” policy would do to us here if it also was reversed? Can you even imagine what it would be like in America if what happens in Africa today daily was happening here too? Really? Would we Americans love to be perpetually in debt to the world bank, have our lands and resources seized by neo-colonialists, our crops polluted with GMOs, millions of our women and children raped and killed, and our pristine forests turned into a dumping ground for nuclear and industrial waste? Hardly.

And while we’re at it, let’s also “Do unto Israel as we would have Israel do unto us.” America’s relationship to Israel right now sucks eggs for the Israelis. And what exactly is this relationship? It might be easier to understand if we look at it from a different perspective and if our roles were reversed.

Imagine, for instance, that some huge gonzo super-power on the other side of the world was pumping billions and billions and billions of dollars into America’s economy annually — but with only one stipulation: That all this gigantic wad of free Moola can only be used for one purpose: To kill, torture, maim and and jail Native Americans. And steal their land. And establish an American Gestapo defense force and fund SSettlers to take over what few Indian reservations we have left (after 19 million Native Americans have already been slaughtered here already), and to treat native Americans like animals and to napalm their children. And to do this all in the name of God.

Would we, as Native Americans — or even as just plain American citizens — see the cruelty and injustice in this? Or would we just sell out to all those big bucks thrown our way like the Israelis have; and just relax and glorify in the joy of having a vampire-like power over others who are completely at our mercy?

These same choices are the ones that America’s War Street is forcing Israelis to make every day. And so far, most Israelis seem to have chosen blood-money over the Ten Commandments. What a waste.

And also let’s consider another new perspective: “Do unto nature and the environment what we would have nature and the environment do unto us.” Always remember that Nature bats last. Think Fukushima. Think a thousand more hurricanes like Sandy, Haiyan and Katrina. More fracking earthquakes. More 140-degree days. “Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, [stated] that global climate change was the greatest threat the United States faced — more dangerous than terrorism, Chinese hackers and North Korean nuclear missiles.”

And America’s War Street and Wall Street and related skin-flint tax-dodging huge corporations are obviously not clear on the concept of “Do unto Americans as you would have Americans do unto you” either.

In the 1940s, every American sacrificed their comfort and rationed their goods and went without in order to pay for the “Good War”.

But ever since that stupid and useless invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, 99% of Americans are sacrificing and going without in order to pay for some stupid and useless “Endless War” that in no way benefits them — while America’s top one percent make no sacrifices at all; dining on caviar, buying cruise-ship-sized yachts with their bloody “war” profits and fiddling like Nero.

And yet most Americans these days do nothing to protect themselves from being cheated, robbed and exploited, but rather spend their last decaying days as citizens of a formerly economically-viable democracy happily watching pseudo-myths and fables on Fox News — as our beloved country slowly slips into third-world status. “Welcome to Jakarta.”

Are we finally getting the Big Picture here yet — that what goes around comes around? If Americans continue to let Wall Street and War Street run our domestic policies, our foreign policies and our environmental policies, then all we can ever expect to receive is blood and carnage in return.

“The Bible tells us so.”

PS: Denmark, a country generally known to be a socialist/commie anti-war environmentally-conscious female-honoring democratic single-payer Tea-Party nightmare, has just been declared “The Happiest Country on Earth”. However, you will find no countries at all that are currently under the sway of corporate America at the top of this Happy List — not even America itself. And definitely not any countries that corporate War Street has invaded in the last 40 years!

But changing from one economic system such as America’s current Corporate Welfare state to another such as Denmark’s economic democracy is clearly not going to help us either We need to make even bigger changes, and go from using any economic system for judging our success and failure — to utilizing a philosophical system instead, one such as “Do unto others…”

October 12, 2012

Wall Street & War Street & murder mysteries in Cleveland

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:28 pm

I just got back from attending a four-day murder-mystery writers’ and readers’ convention in Cleveland, Ohio – For a crime-fiction fan such as myself, it was a dream come true.

“Why do people love murder mysteries so much?” I asked one author.

“Because whenever we read crime fiction, we always know that the criminal will actually get caught in the end and justice will actually be served. In the real world, however, that rarely actually happens.” Sad but true. “In addition, crime fiction allows you to be deliciously afraid — but also to safely control your own fear.”

On my first day in Cleveland I played hookie from the convention, went off to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and totally relived my (gloriously misspent) youth listening to the soundtracks of my past, having spent the 1950s watching American Bandstand and dancing the Bop to Bill Haley at the MYF hall; spent the 1960s going to see Janis at the Filmore, Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village, the Velvet Underground at the Dom and the Temptations and the Ronettes at the Apollo every Saturday night; and spent the 1970s watching the Stones and listening to the Who. What’s not to love about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum!

On the last day of the murder-mystery convention, I also attended an interesting seminar on politically-themed crime novels. Let’s get right to the point. “We write them because there is an endless amount of criminal activity to write about in Washington!” Right on.

And dontcha just love that new TV series, “Scandal,” also based in D.C.

I wanna write a crime novel set in D.C. too! So much material to write about, so little time. For instance, I’d start with a “War Street” crime-fiction series. The Iraq war was a crime. The official and unofficial wars on Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Pakistan, Bahrain, Nigeria, you-name-it? Lots of big crimes! Writing a best-selling “War Street” series should keep me busy for years! So many bad guys. So much fun.

And then I would go on to write a blockbuster “Wall Street” murder-mystery series. The greatest criminals and the greatest crimes of all time take place on the Wall Street side of D.C. Like the infamous “Goldfinger,” Washington’s evil Wall Street connections have set out to destroy the world — both economically and virtually. Talk about your bad guys! D.C. is offering an endless supply.

During my four glorious days in Cleveland last week, I had a wonderful time enjoying that city and seeing the sights — and also watching TV, featuring all those mendacious commercials urging Ohio residents to vote to send even more bad guys to Washington D.C. But there were also even some commercials about sending good guys there too. Did you know that Sherrod Brown is running for office in Ohio again? C’mon, Ohio. Vote for Sherrod! Let’s give at least one political crime story a happy ending.

PS: After I talked with one man on the street in Cleveland about the up-coming presidential election, it instantly became a mystery to me how, in this modern day and age of Google and Snopes, this guy could still actually be believing all those blatant scams and lies that Romney the Con-Man is sincerely hoping that we will believe.

PPS: It is also a complete mystery to me why War Street, supported by Obama, could still be killing so many women and children in the Middle East and yet still not understand that the blow-back that all this cold-blooded murder is creating will endanger America more and more, year by year. If they keep this up, pretty soon there will be seven billion people hatin’ on War Street — just like 2.2 billion people hated on the Third Reich back in 1942. Wise up, guys.

But, actually, drunk drivers kill far more Americans than “terrorists” ever had. So why is War Street still slogging through its twelfth year of war on Afghanistan, which is, ironically, a teetotaling country? And why is marijuana still illegal here but killer alcohol isn’t? Another big mystery.

PPPS: I also went to a party at BoucherCon sponsored by Soho Press and they gave me some more excellent free books — including the new Cara Black novel and the new Stuart Neville one Combined with a whole bunch of free books that I got from other publishers, I now have a whole suitcase full of free books. Eat your heart out, murder-mystery fans of the world!


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