Breeding Contempt

A guy I knew back in the 60's stumbled on to one of my other blogs this week. Since that blog used to be attached to a business I ran for several years, he found my phone number. My wife has never been able to tell my work from her television watching, so she stumbled up the stairs with phone in hand and interrupted my work flow with my all time least favorite thing; a telephone.

If I were able to go back in time, I don't know who I'd want to eliminate first:: Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Richard Nixon, Joe McCarthy, the asshole who invented the subwoofer, or Alex G. Bell. Of all of the technological devices I've suffered in my life, I think the telephone is the most obnoxious, least civilized, most useless device in history. Yeah, maybe someday I'll desperately need to call 911 and I'll wish I had a cell phone with me in my dying moments, but I doubt it. I'd just as soon die and get it over with in my dying moments than be bothered by the usual sort of EMT who will insist on torturing me with his/her lame attempts at inserting an IV in the vicinity of a vein. Been there, done that, won't do it again.

The upside of the long, tortured conversation was that I finally installed a lock on the door to my studio. Next week, I'll work on soundproofing the door so that I won't be able to hear her knocking at the door when the damn telephone rings and she feels compelled to answer it but isn't willing to suffer the consequences of that foolish decision.

The motivation for adding a lock to the studio came at about 3AM after a night of restless reliving of that miserable conversation. I should know better. I had these same conversations with my father for 45 years. The call started innocently enough, as the caller wanted to tell me his history of western Kansas R&R bands. Again, been there, done that, won't do it again. I listened for a while, hoping for a moment to cut off the call and end the conversation before I actually began to relive some of my miserable years in Kansas. I was almost there when he made a really stupid comment about how he'd been living on federally subsidized AT&T pension and Social Security for thirty years and was worried that "that commie Obama" was going to drive the country into the ground and leave him penniless.

Like most Kansans, this is a guy who worked for a federally protected monopoly for his whole "career" and has lived off of a pension for more years than he worked. Listening to him change Faux News "history" was about all I could take and, again, I should have cut off the call. But I'm an idiot. Usually, I can keep a grip on my optimism ("'Pessimist' is what an optimist calls a realist."), but sometimes I pointlessly hope that I can get through to people who are clearly uninterested in hearing anything outside of their narrow world. This conversation will, hopefully, help remind me that is fuckin' stupid.

What I learned from this pointless "conversation" was that Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly are "intellectuals," socialism and fascism are the same philosophy/economic system/politics (based on the overwhelming evidence that Hitler's political party was "National Socialist") and that Hitler hung out with "Bohemian liberals" before rounding up his "old friends" and incinerating them, and the rest of the mindless propaganda has congealed into a muddy goo that I can not penetrate, decipher, or purge from my memory. If I weren't worried about the effects of combining heart medications with alcohol, I'd down a bottle of Jack Daniels and try to forget about the whole thing.

His knowledge of anything outside of small town Kansas was embarrassing as was his knowledge of world and American history. His rambling defense of Faux News reminded me of the recent poll that found FN viewers would be better informed if they never pulled their heads out of their asses to get their Newspeak fix. I probably made his day by saying that I didn't believe that China has a chance in hell of becoming democratic, that 8,000 years of taking two steps back for every step forward has condemned the mainland Chinese to being what they are until the blessed asteroid eliminates the genetic stain of humanity from the earth. In the usual pseudo-concerned voice of pseudo-conservativism, he called that statement "racist." He understood me to be saying that "orientals can't be democratic." Now that is, in fact, racist, but it's what he said, not me.

Like the Chinese state, I don't think Kansans or Nebraskans or Texans or Okies can be democratic, either. Those once great populist, progressive places have purged themselves of intellectuals and creative people and what they are left with is the result of nearly a century of unintentional down-breeding. For decades, every smart kid born in those places is run out of town efficiently and completely. All of those states are single party governments and they are all Republican. I would be willing to be some of my very own money that will not change in my lifetime or my kids' lifetimes.


How to Know if Your Lawyer Will Work for You

A while back, I wrote a bit about using the existence of non-existence of Unitarian-Universalists congregations in a neighborhood/city/state to determine from a distance if the place has a decent quality of life (How to Know if your State Is an Armpit). A recent experience in one of the nation's hellholes, Texas, taught me another and similar simple stereotyping trick. Stereotyping is about as politically incorrect as a modern American can get, but it's still a natural and useful tactic for making general assumptions about almost anything related to human behavior. Exceptions don't prove rules, but exceptions are rare because many stereotypes are generally accurate.

In my case, I was tasked with finding a lawyer for an estate settlement that was guaranteed to become a stereotypical family battle. The "family" was my wife's father's second-marriage catastrophe and I would have bet the will, if he'd bothered to write one, would be a clusterfuck directed by his pack of inbred hillbilly step-children under duress from his constantly complaining and rapidly declining wife. When the hospital called us to tell us that Bob was dead and that my daughter and my wife were listed as his emergency contact, we traveled to Texas to deal with his mess of an "estate." We knew the step-brats had tried to corral Bob in a care facility in Arkansas a year ago and had conned the old man into signing over power of attorney in an attempt to imprison him in that facility so they could control his expenses and burn through his savings as rapidly as possible. My wife and the manager of that facility worked together to help him escape Arkansas and return to the retirement apartments he'd lived in before the highjacking. Other than a surprise visit, that required the step-brats slipping past the Texas apartment security, that scared the crap out of Bob and sent him into a paranoid panic for a couple of weeks, he managed to avoid contact with the step-family for three-quarters of a year. Knowing his history of delusion, racism, sexism, and retired military sense of entitlement, I figured he had avoided rewriting his will as an act of self-delusion and avoidance. However, after searching his apartment, talking with the complex manager and the lazy fools the Wichita Falls Air Farce Base calls their "Legal Services" deadzone, and contacting his three godawful bank account managers (Wells Fargo and two different disasters with Chase Bank), we determined that no one knew of a will. Still, I expected crap to appear out of Arkansas (isn't that the only thing that ever comes from Arkansas?) and tried to search out a lawyer for my wife.

I had some good advice from Minnesota legal friends, "find an old lawyer with a private practice near the county court house," but after calling a dozen Wichita Falls lawyers and getting a callback from only one in the week we were in Texas, I settled for a young guy "with a private practice near the county court house." He's been ok, but passive and mostly acts as a conduit for information between my wife and her step-siblings.

A few weeks after coming back home, I realized that a straight-forward simple question would have extracted everything I needed to know about a Texas lawyer, "Are you Republican or Democrat?" From Minnesota, that might seem irrelevant, but in Texas it would explain a lot and fast. Texas Republicans are as common as fire ants and about as useful. Years of Karl Rove, G.W. Bush, and Rick Perry and the kind of carpetbagging and corporate-ass-kissing that produced those vicious scumbags has polarized Texas into assholes and people who surrounded by assholes and are either trying to put their shit together so they can escape Asshole Land or who are making a last stand to remind the inbred morons that Texas used to be a place that produced liberal or progressive politicians like Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Senator Ralph Yarborough, Governor Ann Richards, and big-balled characters like Jim Hightower. There are a few progressive Texans left, but they are overwhelmingly in the minority.

Finally, I come to my point. When you are looking for a lawyer, you want someone who will stand up for you in the face of overwhelming odds. Obviously, that won't be a Texas Republican. So, the first step in the decision process has to be finding someone who is independent, courageous, and willing to piss into the winds of a grossly corrupt political and legal system; a Texas Democrat.