Thursday, October 31, 2013

Something's nuts

   The judge wondered “whether any penalty is appropriate when somebody is nuts.”
   Well, at least the judge - U.S District Judge Lawrence Karlton - and California prison officials are talking about the treatment of the mentally ill in prison. It is high time this population, consisting of a mind-boggling 1 in 3 state prisoners (I could write an entire post on this!, is being discussed. And it is too bad that the reason it is being discussed is that there are videos showing mentally ill California prisoners being pepper sprayed, often as they are naked and screening and sometimes in episodes that last as long as half an hour.
   But, at least it is, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, it is being talked about.
   Then again, doesn’t the fact that this is an issue to be discussed, that there is a staggering number of mentally ill prison inmates and confusion over how to deal with them, that prison guards feel it is not only okay but appropriate to pepper spray them, often repeatedly over a while and at least sometimes with them naked, have something to do with a federal judge in open court referring to the mentally ill as “nuts?”
   Even if the judge is trying to make the situation better, the message he gives - the same message all of society gives - is that the mentally ill are, to say the least, strange and only worthy of being dealt with if not dismissed. But pepper spraying them probably isn’t p.c.
   It doesn’t help at all, although there are now new rules regarding the use of pepper spray (including allowing “sufficient time” between uses to let the chemical take effect) and dealing with the mentally ill (including using alternative tactics when pepper spray isn’t working) in California prisons, that the prison’s head psychologist testified that psychotic prisoners have no memory of being pepper sprayed and “have a higher than average threshold for pain and noxious stimuli.”
   When people - a judge, much less a psychologist - who are supposed to aid the mentally ill see the mentally ill as “nuts” who “have a higher than average threshold for pain,” something is definitely crazy and wrong. Or - to put it another way - nuts.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The brink of hate

   Man! There are people who really hate President Obama. Really, really, REALLY hate him.
   They hats him so much that they shut down the federal government for more than two weeks, making life hard for millions  employed by the government and who assist them (restaurants near offices, hotels outside national parks, etc.) and inconvenient for countless others. They hate him so much that they very nearly didn’t allow the federal debt ceiling to be raised on time, which would have caused widespread panic in the U.S (people not getting their Social Security checks, etc.) and probably a global economic meltdown. They hate him so much that, in doing both of these things, they were willing to hurt America’s reputation in the eyes of the world.
   Evidently, insisting over and over and in the face of facts that Obama isn’t an U.S citizen and therefore not eligible to be president isn’t enough. If they can’t destroy Obama, then, damn it, they will destroy America. That’s how much they hate him.
   Sure, these people - conservative tea party types like Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican senator behind the latest maneuvering - don’t hate just Obama. At least at first, they were standing in the way of passing the annual federal budget and raising the debt ceiling, because they wanted to block or delay the new healthcare insurance law. Never mind that the law was passed by Congress and enacted by Obama several years ago, validated by the Supreme Court and approved by voters re-electing Obama and that it will make life easier for millions of people (at least once the not unusual glitches are worked out). They call Obamacare socialistic and communistic (as if that’s bad), but it’s not making life easier that’s the problem, especially since many people decrying the new law are poor and really could use it. What’s really going on is that they can’t stand people - especially others - getting something for nothing. To them, America means the freedom to work hard and to do one’s best in a hard life. (The only reason they don’t gripe about the disabled getting help - although they try to cut that back - is that would be just too unseemly.)
   Here’s where these folks’ hatred of Obama comes in. They can’t stand it that a black man got into the White House - and the fact that he did it not only once but twice drives them even crazier. It doesn’t matter whether or not Obama got ahead with affirmative action and was on welfare. He looks like someone who did. He looks like someone who got something for nothing. And the final kick in the pants is that Obama will get credit for a program that will give a lot of people, a lot of others, something for nothing and that very likely will end up being very good and popular.
   They rather take down America with them than to let that happen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Not understood

   “I don’t understand him.”
   You don’t say. Why do you think I was having my attendant call?
   I was having my attendant call Social Security, because I had discovered a couple weeks ago that I had lost my Medicare card. I had tried going online to order a new card, but, because I get Medicare under my dad’s Social Security number as an “adult disabled child,” the website kept tripping up, saying I was “ineligible” or “don’t match.” So much for things being easier and faster online (and this wasn’t the first time I’ve had trouble with being under my dad’s number).
   I figured the representative, when we got through after about 20 minutes, would want to speak to me and have me answer a question or two to verify who I am. This is what usually happens, and, usually, upon hearing me, the representative gets what’s going on and speaks to my attendant conducting my business.
   But not this woman. She kept insisting that I say the Social Security number to her, and when I did, she kept telling my attendant, “I don’t understand him.”
   My attendant tried to explain the situation, but the woman kept saying she couldn’t talk to my attendant, because she couldn’t understand me and verify who I was. When my attendant asked to speak to the manager, the woman said it wouldn’t make any difference, because “it is the rules.” She suggested we go to the office.
   This is exactly what I didn’t want to do - go down to Pomona and take a number and sit and wait for it to be called. I felt defeated, hurt, angry - like I was kicked to the back of the bus, if not under the bus, because of my speech.
   The next day at the Social Security office, the woman who I saw ordered another Medicare card for me and also gave me instructions for creating an online account, so I won’t have to deal with the confusion over receiving benefits under my dad’s number and with having to call. I’ll see how this works.
   Meanwhile, I was out last week riding along in my wheelchair when a woman drove up beside me and asked if I was okay. I said yeah. She then asked me, “Do you know where you’re going?” I said yeah, but I wanted to ask, “And you?” And, “And do you have a life?”
   At least she wasn’t like the woman who, some years ago, followed me in her car for blocks as I sped along in my wheelchair, repeatedly asking me if I was alright, where I was from and if I knew where I was going. She gave up when another man riding along the street in a wheelchair appeared.