I'm taking tomorrow off for some prep work I need to do (along with some errands) before the ACLU/NYCLU/GVCLU annual "Town Meeting" tomorrow night. Barb DeLeeuw (the executive director of the local chapter) has invited Lisa and I , and a couple of other folks along for a panel discussion of our cases, and what they mean to others like us.
I worked all week on a general statement (they want me to say a few words first) thanking them for their help. In the agenda, they list us as "Local heroes" but I've indicated that the real heroes are people within the ACLU and folks like my lawyer who is working pro bono because he believes that it's the right thing to do. And I call on all citizens to stop sitting back and complaining to people that can't do anything about what's wrong -- we all have to stand up for what's right. It's our very complacency, I think, that has made us such a stagnant and impotent society.
A large part of that, though, has to do with the divisiveness of our politics and our (collective) sense of entitlement. And, our "My way is the only right way" mindset these days. Conservatives lash out at liberals and liberals insult conservatives, and each faction believes adamantly that the other has lost touch with reality. Zero tolerance has spawned zero intelligence. Intelligent design has spawned a backlash against Christianity. The leaders of large ministries such as Falwell, Swaggart, and Roberts have gotten fatter and fatter financially by using wedge issues such as gay marriage to further their own agendas. To paraphrase a line from the movie Oh God! they claim to be speaking God's words, but they ran out of Gods words a long, long time ago. We send soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan telling them at first that the Iraqis are our enemy, now we tell them they're our friends and we expect them to conduct themselves unemotionally when their friends are being blown up by suicide bombers who look just like the people that they're supposed to be treating as if they're our friends. Hillary Clinton's critics lambasted her because she stuck by her husband, saying she was stupid to stay with someone who had undermined her trust in him, yet we expect these everyday people (part-time soldiers) to TRUST that the Iraqi coming toward them doesn't intend to harm them. And that's probably what got those two soldiers killed earlier this week. It's all just too damned confusing.
But, as much as I despise Bush, we can't lay it all on him. There's a mindset out there that parrots everything Bush has said about invading Iraq. You know the argument, about "liberating" the people of Iraq. Yet, according to the U.N. News Center:
Children are being hacked with machetes -- one three year old girl having both her arms hacked off, out of cruel pleasure. Angelina Jolie recounts first-hand all of the horror she's seen, the quagmire of squallor that these people live in and the fact that there's just not enough money to provide aid.
Over 250,000 people in Darfur have been displaced by new fighting since the start of 2006, WFP currently is feeding about 3.5 million people in Sudan, and the number is expected to go up to 6 million by August. Those figures do not include hundreds of thousands of refugees in the neighbouring countries who have also fled and need assistance.
Yet lawmakers approved another NINETY FIVE BILLION DOLLARS for the "war" in Iraq. Why haven't we gone into Darfur to liberate those people? No oil. And where are the conservatives who so adamantly support the "liberation" of Iraq when Darfur is mentioned? Where's their indignation about the slaughter and maiming of these people in Darfur?
On a brighter note, I saw a film clip today about a young woman who went to her doctor for a physical for life insurance. She learned that she had extremely high cholesterol, the kind that's typically hereditary. Her doctor advised her to get as thorough a medical history as she could of her biological parents -- she'd been adopted as an infant. Long story short, it turned out that she had worked with her biological mother for a long time in the same hair salon. Pretty cool, isn't it?
I have one more week to work before we go on vacation for two weeks. At this point, we've got nothing solid in the works. We so enjoyed our vacation last year that we decided to do the same thing this year. That is, wake up when we wake up, and decide what we're going to do for the day, if anything.
The only thing that will tie me down with any certainty is the fact that I'm going to have to go see a lawyer regarding some of my father's financial affairs. He owes so many people money, it's mind-boggling. And some of them are taking advantage of the fact that he's incarcerated and "padding" their balances. I'm at my wits' end and decided his money would be best spent in paying a lawyer to sort it all out. This after I spent 20 minutes on the phone last night with some asshole who cussed and swore at me because my father is 5 months behind on his storage facility. I sent him a double rent payment last month following a conversation I had with him (with a proposal that he AGREED to) and the unpaid balance went UP from $225 to $460. He says if it's not paid, he'll sell my father's stuff. He's already moved the stuff to a smaller storage room and THREW AWAY stuff that he felt was junk or unsalvageable. By law, he must advertise for two weeks that he's going to do that -- he can't just go in and start throwing stuff out.
eBay wants over $250 from him, Cellular One says he owes them $280, M&T bank agreed to let him pay $100/month on a $500 overdraft on a now closed account, but they keep charging him $88 per month in "administrative fees," so the debt won't get paid for 4 years or so, at that rate -- that's an annual "interest" rate of just under 200% for M&T. A collection agent from HFC called and I spoke to him, faxed him my power of attorney and he said he'd send a confirmation letter regarding the lowered amount that HE offered -- this was 3 weeks ago. Instead, I got a letter from a law firm showing a balance of $120 more than was originally stated, more than $300 more than what the collection guy offered. My father offered to pay my brother half of his storage space fees because he's got stuff in with my brother. But, when I told my brother I was going to come and get my father's stuff and put it in with his other stuff, he denied having anything at first, but then admitted having it, but keeps telling me he can't get with me when I propose a day/time to go.
Most of the crap is of his own doing, but I can't let these people take advantage of him, either. That's why I think it's time to hire a lawyer to write $600 letters for me.
CALGON! Take me away!