No Country for “O” Men (Part F)

Our homie Okjimm, and I were discussing the General feeling of Malaise that is currently running through our Great Nation.

People are Fucking Worn Out.

If it’s not the Bills Piling Up, it’s problems at work, or with the kids, or the car, or the Politicians WE elected.

Whatever it is, People are Exhausted.

My background is in Sociology, and I enjoy looking at the Big Picture Observing how Humans Interact with one another, and the Systems that Develop from those Interactions.

For about Six Years of My Life, I worked as both a Counselor, and Case Manager, and during that time, I pretty much dealt with Everything Imaginable: Murderers (Even one Serial Killer), Rapists, Child Abusers, Pedophiles, Gangstas, Crack Fiends, Gasoline Huffers, Opiate Addicts, Mentally Ill Adults/Children, and any, and everything else in between.

I know Six Years doesn’t seem like a Long Time, Hell, my father has worked in his Field for 30 plus years (Fucking Nutcase), but Social Service years are like Dog Years (I’m not kidding, that Shit will Wear Your Ass Down with a Quickness), and Six Years was all I could take.

When I left Social Services, I did so for 3 Reasons-

1) Politics.

Social Services, as a Monolith, is Fucked Up. The system isn’t set up to Help, as much as it’s Set Up to Perpetuate Itself.

Now, don’t get me Wrong. I met, and worked with some Excellent People who Busted Their Asses, but, Unfortunately, the Majority of them had Exactly- No Power.

They were just Grunts like me who were Hired, Underpaid, Unappreciated, Burned Out, and then Discarded.

And I was Lucky. The Two Programs I stayed the longest were Kick Ass.

Christ, those Poor State Workers.

I remember talking to one of them in court one day, and she told me she had a caseload with 1100 clients (No Fucking Shit). 1100 clients?!!! Mother Fuck. And her salary was $17,000 a year.

Hard to imagine why they had a 50% turnover rate.

Yep, it’s Bullshit, and I’m simply too Oppositional, and my Mouth is TOO FUCKING BIG.

My Supervisor once said,

“You’re great with the kids, but you are absolutely Un-Promotable.”

“What the Fuck you talking about?”

2) Boredom/Exhaustion.

You’d think with a job like that every day would be an Adventure, but not for me.

After about Three Years, I learned all I needed to Learn, and I was left thinking-

“Now what?”

Every day it was the Same Old Shit.

“So, and So is acting like a Dumbass.”

“No Shit? I guess the first 30 days of him like a Dumbass didn’t Tip you Off that he might be a Dumbass?”

But it was more than a Intellectuall Boredom. I was Psychologically, and Spiritually Bored/Worn Down.

We made such Little Progress (I wouldn’t even call it a Dent. Hell, not even a Scrape).

You’d kill yourself working with a Kid, and the next Morning the Dumbshit would get him/herself kicked out of the Program, or their Parents would decide they didn’t need any more help, or we’d run out of money, or someone would complain, and we’d be forced to drop a Service, or…

True Story-

One of my clients, a 10 year old boy with a Severe Attachment Disorder, ended up in the Hospital because we were forced to get rid of our Baseball Gloves.

Here’s how it went down-

It took me a month to get the kid to even sit up on a chair when I visited. For over three weeks, every time I’d visit he’d roll around on the floor or roll under the table in order to avoid any, and all Eye Contact with me because the Poor Bugger was Terrified of People.

He Trusted No One.

Finally, after meeting with him maybe 7-8 times, I’m making some headway.

He agreed to talk with me, if I agreed to go outside, and throw the Football with him.

Well, one day he asks if we can throw a baseball next time, instead of the football (He played baseball, and really liked it).

“Sure, no problem. We have a ton of gloves at my office, I’ll bring a couple with me next visit.”

So, the day arrives, I head into the Office, and-

“Where the Fuck are the Baseball Gloves?!!”

“Oh, so, and so complained that the kids could get hurt throwing a baseball, so, we had to get rid of them.”

“You’re Fucking Kidding ME?!!”

“No, it’s Bullshit, but they don’t want to get Sued.”

“Mother Fucker!!”

I knew he would be Pissed, and more than that, I knew I might lose every Fucking Bit of Progress I’d made with him.


I tried to explain, but he wasn’t Hearing It.

To him, I was just another Adult who didn’t keep their Promise.

He began rolling around the floor, under the table, etc, etc.

He never spoke to me Again.

Two weeks later, he was kicked out of his Foster Home, and put back into the Hospital.

Oh, and the Bitch who Complained?

She ended up getting fired for, get this, giving the kids Cigarettes.

Can’t have Baseballs, but, Here, have a Newport.

Fucking ASSHOLE!!

3) The Clients, and The Parents of Clients.

Typical Conversation with an Opiate Addict-

“Man, my back is Killing Me. That’s why I got hooked on this shit, you know? Because of my Back. The Doctor gave me those Vicodins, and here I am.”

“Now, is that true? Most people who take Vicodin don’t become Addicted to it.”

“Well, I fucked around with drugs before, but it wasn’t until I hurt my back that I got addicted.”

“How’d you hurt your back?”

“At this job I had about 10 years ago.”

“Ten years ago?”

“Yeah, fucked it up pretty good.”

“Okay, but we’re here to help you now.”

“I know, but this program doesn’t work.”

“Well, it doesn’t work if you don’t try.”

“I am trying. I do everything they ask, and I’m still here.”

“Your last drug test was Dirty. You’re still using.”

“See? That’s some bullshit. I told them I wasn’t using. I told them I was riding in a car with some of my friends, and they started smoking a joint with the windows rolled up.”

“Being in a car with some dudes smoking weed made you test positive for Opiates, and Benzodiazepine?”

“Man, I don’t know what they were smoking, maybe it was laced.”

“They were smoking Vicodin, and Xanax?”


“Mother Fucker, where’s my Glock? Anyone here have a Gun? Hey, do you have a Gun?”

“Nah, I traded it for some Vicodins.”

“Get the FUCK OUT!! Seriously, Get the Fuck Out or I’m going to beat you to Death with this Hole Punch!”

Conversation with a Parent-

“Johnny had a really bad week. He’s getting in trouble at school, he’s talking back here at home. I don’t think this is helping him?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, we’ve been coming for a couple of weeks now, and he still acts the same.”

“It takes longer than a couple of weeks. I’m good, but I’m not that good.”

“Yeah, I guess, I just don’t think it’s working.”

“Did you call the Doctor to see about having him put on Medication?”

“I was going too, but I was really busy this week at work.”

“You found a job?”

“Yeah, I’m working 9 hours a week at the store down the street.”

“Nine hours?”

“Yeah, I could work more, but I haven’t been feeling good lately.”

“Okay. Did you read that literature I gave you that explains depression, its symptoms, and the treatments?”

“I tried to read it, but I didn’t really understand it.”

“That’s fine. I’ll be happy to explain it to you. What didn’t you understand?”

“Well, it’s not that I couldn’t understand it. I just didn’t have the time to read it.”

“Right, because of your job. We can discuss it now because it’s important for you to understand what’s going on with your son.”

“I don’t really have time today. Can we do it next week?”

“Sure. So, did you contact that In-Home program I told you about. It’s a really good program, and they’ll come to you instead of you having to get out, and go to them.”

“I tried calling, but the lady on the phone was rude, so, I hung up on her.”

“She was rude?”

“Talking to me all crazy. I don’t have to put with that.”

“Did you ask to speak to her supervisor or to speak to someone else?”

“Naw, I told her to kiss my ass, and hung up. Besides, I don’t think it would help anyway.”

“Look, your son needs to be on medication. He’s severely depressed, and therapy alone is not enough. We need to get him stabilized.”

“I heard those medications can mess you up.”

“Yes, there are some side effects, but the majority of them are mild, and most go away after a few weeks. He needs the medication. He’s depressed. Probably from living around your Undead Ass.”

“I don’t know.”

“No shit you don’t know. I’d love to know what exactly it is you DO KNOW. In fact, I’m wondering how your Lethargic Ass got Pregnant. What, do you have some naked dude lying around your house, and one night, on the way to the Cookie Jar, you tripped, and Fell on His Dick? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!”

Now, before some Bleeding Heart gets All-

“But they need Help.”

I know, but, as the saying goes,-

“You can lead a Shit for Brains to Water, but you can’t Make Them Pull Their Head Out of Their Ass So They Can Drink.”

(I forgot why I started writing this Post)

Seriously, I know those people need Help, but here’s the Facts.

I cannot undo the Past.

If I could, I’d be King of the World by now, and (Insert Hot Chick of the Day) would be painting my toe nails.

I’m not a Genie, nor do I know any Genies.

I cannot Save the World.

As Romantic, and “Awesome” as it sounded in College, I just can’t do it.

I’m tired, and I’m not sure I if I have enough time to Save My Own Ass.

Ah, I remember now.

In my last Post, we were discussing Obama.

Obama, in many ways, is like a Therapist, and America his Clientèle.

He sits, and listens, and nods his head, and we think he’s going to save us.

But he Can’t.

And what bothers me about him is, he says HE CAN.

He’s a very Intelligent man, and I know he knows that we know that he knows that HE CAN’T.

But he says HE CAN.

And we Believe Him because We Want to Believe Him.

Because we’re tired, and worried, and stressed, and scared.


Just like the People I used with Whom I used to Work, We want someone else to Save Us because it’s SO MUCH FUCKING EASIER!

Unfortunately, that Ain’t How It Works.

Obama may very well be a Good Man. In fact, I think he is, and I think somewhere in his Head he Believes Himself, and that’s what Bothers Me.

Just as the Wingnuts play on People’s Fears, isn’t Obama doing the Same Thing, but just in a Different Way?

Isn’t he counting on all of us being Worn Down, Depressed, and Starving for Something, Anything other than Chimpy?

Hell Yes, He Is!

He’s a Politician, and his Job is to Win. Win at All Cost. A lot of people have Dished Out the Scrilla, and they Want a Return on Their Investment.

And What If He Wins? What Then?

Have We Fulfilled Our Obligation?

We Rode out the Chimperor, and that’s the Extent of it?

I hope to God Not.

I’ll Suggest to You, Dear Reader, that Politicians are not the Ones who “Transform” Society.

We Are.

You, Me, the Opiate Addict, the Deadbeat Mom, and even the Wingnuts.

We’re the “Instruments of Change.”

Not some Clown giving 10 dollar speeches to a 3 dollar crowd.

And until we face up, own up to the fact that we are the Ones Responsible, We are the Ones who Let Shit Get All Fucked Up, and most Importantly, Accept that We Have the Power, Not Them, then Johnny’s going to keep getting called to the Principal’s Office, and Our Back Is Going to Keep Right on Killing Us.

They count on us being Worn Out.


~ by fairlane on July 22, 2008.

33 Responses to “No Country for “O” Men (Part F)”

  1. Great save in the 9th inning, Fairlane!

    Yeah, I think you are right – I think the Carebear believes his own press.



  2. @ TENGRAIN: I don’t know if you can be as careful a guy as Obama has been, as book-smart and street-smart, change gears as many times and BELIEVE you’re anything but a top-flight young pol who’s real good at politics and getting better. Think about times you’ve observed Obama in public. He’s a pretty cranky guy, really. It’s his fans who paint a picture of him a certain way at odds with who he is.

    @ FAIRLANE: You may not be saving the world (I know I’m not) but I think by writing as you do and showing the imperfections in people around you, the famous and yourself, you help your country a lot. I think Americans are way too hung up on perfection. Or as you say they’re looking for a “messiah” to lead them and strive and fail daily to be themselves “pure.”

    You’ve done enough travelling to know that in other countries it’s a point of pride how wasted you got the night before. Or if the sex you’re having is hot enough. Or “when do we EAT?” Or whatever. And NONE of that has any effect really on peoples’ health or their work performace. We drink just as much beer and eat as much fast food here in Panama on a per capita basis as you do, but we’re ALL SMALL! I don’t see fat people. Young women when they go out to dinner always order a whiskey to start, an appetizer, a steak, a dessert and a brandy. And they won’t even need the pretense of even a “first date” to be fucking.

    Somehow, the bread, meat, milk, fruits and vegetables get delivered to the supermarkets each morning. The newspapers are there. The banks process all the transactions.

    If one talks about drug policy, for example, here or in England or Spain or Russia or Ireland or Canada, no one feels that if they have a libertarian point of view they have to add the disclaimer: NOW, I’M CLEAN AND SOBER MYSELF, BUT…..

    I think that the degree of atheism and agnosticism in the rest of the capitalist-democratic-repubican West tends to add to the lack of guilt and shame about being human and dealing with one’s own mortality than the severe religiosity in the US allows. Only 5% of Americans are secular. In the rest of the West, it’s 30-40%.

    The other socilogical difference I’ve noticed between the USA and the rest of the West and this is a corollary to the above is that Americans are really loath to admit being “WRONG” about anything. It’s not that way elsewhere. It’s no mark of shame to be “wrong” or to do “wrong” if you’re willing to admit it and settle it with an apology and a handshake.

    I think this latter point of mine is what you’re seeing in Obama. The guy can’t ever say he was wrong. He’s not guiding society in this; he’s reflecting it. If you admit you’re wrong to the other guy then he has the overs on you on that one disagreement and is ipso facto MORE PERFECT or LESS IMPERFECT than you are.

    This pervades the political and law-enforcement culture in the USA the way it doesn’t ANYWHERE else in the world other than in dictatorships. Americans have some idea about a concept called “REFORM.” It’s just a variant on “REPENT.” EVERYWHERE else in the world the punishments are less severe across the board and for all socio-economic classes, as well. The mentality at the street level is that $100 takes care of bullshit and that your attorney can deal with any larger bureaucratic bullshit and that only violent people go to prison.

    But human needs and frailties are the same in the USA as they are in Colombia or France. So, in the USA you can preach at anyone for their weaknesses and mistakes so long as YOU don’t get caught. And when you get caught, nobody knows you. Nobody’s cutting you any slack. The authorities are looking to PUNISH. Your friends don’t want your taint on them. This isn’t sour grapes. I left to avoid legal problems. I never was persecuted by authorities or abandoned by friends. I just know a lot of people who were.

    The attitude that pervades the rest of the advanced West is “aw fuck, let’s just give the guy a $100 bucks and be done with it.” ABOUT EVERYTHING. This “broken-windows” zero-tolerance policing thing made a lot of White suburbanites feel better in their racism but it was a city, state and federal budget DISASTER.

    Anybody who’s taken intro Calculus knows that “zero” and “one” and “infinity” don’t really exist. They’re conceits which allow calculus to be a useful tool in all sorts of human endeavor. That’s why there is no “zero” or “infiity” in calculus. It’s always phrased as “in the limit as x approaches zero….”

    You KNOW how hard we hammer on this point at HELL. No American Gothic archetype gives Tommy-Gun and Shadow more pleasure than the frustrated angry American Dad who molests his children or beats them and then goes to the mega-church on Sunday to pray for a Cadillac and thinks he’s square with Jesus on all of it.

    And that it’s Obama’s fault. Or Jeremiah Wright’s fault. Or Michelle Obama’s fault because she wrote a paper as an undergrad in support of a point Noam Chomsky once made.

    But as much of an Obama skeptic as I had been, and I still can’t dismiss ANYTHING you’ve written, the world outside which is MORE POWERFUL THAN THE USA is exhausted listening to American politicians’ lecturing and hectoring and meddling in our affairs. Make what you will of Bill Clinton but that wasn’t his trip. I “hope” (heh-heh) it isn’t Obama’s either. My read on Obama is that if he’s elected with a cooperative Congress, he may be a great president, average or a shitty one, but he’ll dial it down on the rest of us for sure.

  3. another nice post, fairlane. and, by the way, you’ve disabused me (i.e., freed me of a mistaken or misguided notion … i always liked that word and saw the opportunity to use it … and look it up before i MIS-used it) of a an idea i recently had: which was to go back to school and get a degree in social work. thanks for bursting my little bubble, dude. much appreciated.

    but seriously, i absolutely agree with you that change comes from within. and a therapist or counselor can only facilitate in guiding a person who needs or wants help. people have to acknowledge that they have a problem before they can ever make any headway in solving it.

    that’s the whole point of AA. i’m not a huge fan of the program, but it has helped some people overcome a really deadly disease (if you agree that it is in fact a disease) because to succeed in AA one cannot be in denial and one must take responsibility for one’s actions and move forward from there.

    and, as an aside, to kelso, where do you get that statistic that ONLY 5% of americans are “secular”? it boggles the mind that you would think that.

  4. Fairlane

    Personal responsibility is modeled and learned. If a human has no model and no tutor, that child will not learn personal responsibility.

    I’m saying that the only reason anyone is personally responsible is because they were exposed to it and thus learned it. It is intriguing that those of us who learned it cannot conceive that someone else cannot see what we know to be true. The truly ironic part, I believe, is that we delude ourselves into thinking that our own ‘personal responsibility’ is something we did on our own. You or me or anyone else who displays personal responsibility is simply emmulating what we were taught.

    As for secularism in America, I would bet that the percentage is less than 5. Americans are addicted to the opiate of the people. It nauseates me.

  5. Notice that Obama says “we” much more than he says “I”. I think he realizes that he’s not some magical human who can fix every damned thing that has gone to hell these past almost eight years. It’s gonna take some effort on everyones part.

    As for the frustrations of your job, I gotta say I don’t know how you do or did it. I admire you for not smacking the hell out of some of those people.

  6. I’m sitting here on this computer, having come into possession of a Bachelors in Social work. I’m completely unemployed. I knew in the 3rd year it was not going to work because of this reason alone: I HAVE A BIG MOUTH. or maybe there is a second reason: I CAN’T STAND MEDIOCRATY. People in that field hated me. I aspired to do things right and they hated me. I got into tangles in every agency.

    I lasted 5 months in PSR and got fired for being too big for my britches. I fucking hate social work. I’d rather work at mcdonalds. The part I hated the most was the parents. I love kids, I enjoyed working with them…but their parents? they can all go to hell and take their empty pill bottles with them. The next thing I hated was the politics. The fuglys in the agencies make life miserable on anyone who is a go-getter or has a mind of their own. Ok enough…where’s my crackpipe

  7. ok. // we are the Ones Responsible //

    First. I understand every word. Especially the burn-out. My ex was a educator/teacher with the Dept. of Corrections. She was supposed to TEACH …. and the next thing she knew she was working as a counselor for convicted sex offenders….REALLY bad fucked up people. She stayed way too long. Experienced every goddam thing you said….her fuses did not burn-out…they fucking fried. And our marriage fried, too. That’s a long story, and it wasn’t really her fault, or mine…..but that fucking job burned my/our marriage. But like Vonnegut says, “so it goes.” Aint no deal now. You were wise to get out.

    Second. I hope you are not wasting time clerking at a convenience store or sumptin and have found outlet for you talent.

    Third. And if I am responsible, and I really really try to be….. that doesn’t mean I can’t still be worn out. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get up off the floor when I am knocked down…It just means that I can no longer argue with illogical people and go to rallies and wave banner-slogans. I need to internalize my responsiblity. Ride my bike more so I use less gas….waste resources less. Try as much as I can to patronize big Corpo-Entities in the marketplace. I’m not going to make a list here. I am staying in motion…..when my daughter was young the ex called me up when the kids were staying with her one night. She had taken the training wheels off of Miriam’s bike and was trying to teach her how to ride without them. Miriam flat out refused. So the ex asked me to come over. “She’ll do anything for you.”

    Well, it was a very bad time in my life. I was very depressed. I was seeing a good shrink. Some meds to help out.

    Anyways. I am over there, I get Miriam on the bike, I have one hand covering hers on the handle bar and the other bracing the bike seat and we going down the sidewalk, she’s pedaling and I am running beside her, holding on, and I tell her

    “just keep thinking, keep pedaling, look straight ahead and keeping saying, ‘Things that stop fall over.”

    We started saying it together, like a chant, “Things that stop fall over, Things that stop fall over, Things that stop fall over.”

    She kept saying it when I let go. And was almost a half a block away when she realized I wasn’t holding on.

    It was almost a zen moment for me. I knew I was telling myself as much as I was telling her. Things that stop fall over.

    She learned to ride. I learned to keep going.

    But I’m still a bit worn out.

    Great Post. Great Thoughts. Just tell me you are not working at a fucking 7-11, huh?

  8. Ten- K- Rod is one of my heroes.

    K-Man- You are absolutely correct about American attitudes toward mistakes, unless, unless the person is famous/rich/powerful in some way or another. They can have as many chances as they need/want.

    Chimpy is the ultimate example.

    He’s fucked up so much, but his “Intentions” are pure.

    Anita- The “Field” isn’t so bad. Overall, the clients were awesome, even the idiots, but, in my case, it simply wore me down.

    It’s like that episode of Danger Mouse were Pinfold was cloned about a million times.

    Danger Mouse would rescue him, put him in the car, and there’d be another Pinfold standing there waiting to be rescued.

    Jude- That’s not true.

    I had numerous clients who learned how to be responsible for themselves.

    And that wasn’t really the point.

    The point was/is, you can’t save other people if they have no interest in saving themselves.

    PoP- Politicians say a lot of things. Chimpy also fashioned himself a “Uniter.”

    “Our” part in the equation is to elect Obama.

    And my worry is, people will think that’s all they need to do.

    Also, name one politician in our lifetime, or in ten lifetimes, who “Transformed” this country.

    Politicians do not enact change, the system simply will not allow it.

    We are the Ones.

    Dozie- Some people have the ability to last forever in that field.

    I never understood how.

    OKJ- That’s a cool story. It’s very similar to how my father taught me to ride a bike.

    I think you nailed it. We “Save” the world by doing the little things we can do: ride a bike, walk, keep ourselves in shape, keep learning, keep questioning, spend time with our children, teach them, instill curiosity, etc, etc.

    I guess I’ll continue writing about it until I’m blue in the face because, if nothing else, it reminds me.

    Americans seem to not only Expect/Desire Perfection, but they seem to want it on the Cheap, preferably for Free- “Here, you get me off drugs. You straighten out my life, you get my wife, kids, job, etc back. I’ll just sit here in this chair. Let me know when you’re finished.”

    It looks like I’m going back to an Engineering company either at the end of this month, or sometime next month. I invested in an Internet business so I wouldn’t have to do such things, but we ran into a major problem, and it delayed our launch by almost a year.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  9. I’ll Suggest to You, Dear Reader, that Politicians are not the Ones who “Transform” Society.

    We Are.

    That’s so true. We’ve built this messianic belief that politicians and government are going to solve our problems, the president in particular, and it runs counter to the “rugged individualism” ideals that were prevalent in the country during its founding. I realize that progressives think that gov’t should be a force for positive socioeconomic change, and it’s a noble idea, but instead we get this bloated bureaucracy that doesn’t work (Katrina etc.) while cronies loot the treasury and grow fat on gov’t contracts or bailouts with little or no oversight.

    I’m not trying to say that gov’t doesn’t have a place. It does. If you’ll indulge me in metaphor, government can’t save your soul, but it can lend a helping hand to those who need it.

  10. @ ANITA: Don’t believe me. Do your own research. Google “percentage of Americans who self-identify as secular” or “….atheist,” or “….agnostic.” I could be wrong by 2 pct pts plus or minus but 5% will be pretty close.

    I’m not saying that 95% of the USA self-indentifies as “Christian.” I’m saying that 95% of the USA has a core belief in unproveable superstition of some kind or other. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, New Age, Animism, AA, Wicca, Santeria, Voudoun, whatever….

    Yes, I know that Big Bang theorists can only trace the origin of the space-time continuum back to three minutes after it’s beginning. Yes, it’s POSSIBLE that a HIGHER POWER “placed” the primordial ball of hydrogen atoms “there.” Yes, it’s even POSSIBLE that there’s an invisible old man in the sky with a beard who knows everything and determines everything and wrote it down in a special book and might even care whether a guy hits a bases-clearing double down by 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. But that possibility assymptotically approaches 0 enough so I can say “if God exists may he strike me down in the next 30 seconds and know that I’m going to have a hot chocolate 45 seconds from now.

  11. Doozie, fairlane’s story about the baseball glove reminded me of the kid with whom you had that success but were told to stop doing everything that made your work with him productive. Same effing story, eh?

    fairlane, you snagged with the “worn out” part. You nailed that. This culture wears a person down. Every day, I find myself wishing I could find some better way for my kids to exist in the world.

    “We want someone else to Save Us because it’s SO MUCH FUCKING EASIER!” You hit on a realization that has come to me recently about my own life. (And maybe some ex-counselor I know put the idea in my head?) I find myself wishing I had some of this experience and understanding of life 20 years ago when I could have REALLY saved myself.

    Jude says that people have to be taught personal responsibility, that they need a role model in life to learn it, and I think that’s true. But at some point, do we gain enough life experience to look around and see that what we’re doing isn’t working? At some point, does it become a choice? And you’re right about people turning their backs on the help they do receive (or resist receiving).

    Also, Doozie’s comment reminded me of the hermit crab theory in which people will, instead of trying to help each other up or follow the example of the rare crab who gets an idea about how to climb out of the bucket, yank each other back down. And it seems to me the lower the socio-economic class, the more likely people are to try to hold each other down. Strange.

  12. @ Tengrain, Fairlane: I like K-Rod, too, but I want to see Oakland pip Anaheim at the wire with this “rebuilding team.” I think Gio is going to be monster as a starter for them. I like Duscherer and Eveland and The Hurt and Street and more or less the whole team.

    I thought you were an Indians fan, Fairlane. Weird year in Central. If you’d told me Lee was going to be this good, I would have made it a toss-up between the Indians and Tigers. I love that Indians team. The hitting and fielding is SICK but they’re thin in starting pitching. Getting rid of Sabathia was stupid. They got nothing in return and now as Carmona goes so goes the Tribe.

    Me? I’m glad to see the Mets with the best players in baseball get it together. I’m sorry that it’s Manuel who’ll get the credit because Randolph wasn’t so bad. They both mismanaged the hitters. You got a lineup with that much pop you don’t worry about bunting in the early innings. It’s silly.

    My fantasy anyway was for Carlos Delgado to be a playing manager.

  13. I’d like to post a thoughtful, interesting comment, but can’t someone else do it?

    For someone who seems to hate people, I don’t know how the fuck you worked in that field. I’d have lasted 15 minutes before my brain exploded from the stupidity and bullshit.

    Kelso, thank you for saying the Sabathia trade was stupid. If you’re going to trade your ace for whatever reason, financial or otherwise, get a guy ready right NOW to help. Hell, the bullpen imploded and if it had merely been mediocre, we’d only be 4-5 games out instead of the 11 we are now.

  14. Kelso, having “a core belief in unproveable superstition of some kind or other. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, New Age, Animism, AA, Wicca, Santeria, Voudoun, whatever….” does not necessarily imply that you are not secular, which has a number of definitions by the way.

  15. @ ANITA: I think 57,817,008 angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  16. @ RANDAL: The Tribe didn’t get anyone who can help them in the future either. LaPorta’s the only hitter and he’s just another slow 1B/DH type and not particularly good one. Sabathia’s pretty young, with all the young talent Cleveland has in the field, HE’S the guy you pay the big money to. Better to pay Sabathia $20mm/yr than pay 4 Paul Byrds $5mm/yr. The guy they’re supposed to move for minor league players is exactly Cliff Lee. You could even make a case for Carmona. But Sabathia????

  17. @ FAIRLANE: Thomas Jefferson and……I’m all out…I’m guessing John Brown doesn’t count!

  18. Kelso, and your point is?

  19. //I’ll keep my fingers crossed.//

    Well, I would cross mine for you too, but it is hard to pick your nose with your fingers crossed. 😉

    // 57,817,008 angels can dance on the head of a pin //

    I think it is really 57,817,028. I counted once. Best to check again. I pretty sure I’m right.

    …whew,,,,, I sure was hoping it wasn’t the 7-11 🙂

  20. /Also, name one politician in our lifetime, or in ten lifetimes, who “Transformed” this country/

    George Bush and Dick Cheney transformed this country into a complete, utter disaster.

    Still, your post is powerful – you worked hard and long in a field that does drain people. And while you can help some people, there is no way to help someone who does not meet you half way – like the guy addicted to opiates who continued to use. Of course, addiction is a powerful disease, and an active addict (or alcoholic) will not see the lies (s)he tells as being lies. And time spent with someone who does not want help takes away from time with someone who can actually benefit.

    I haven’t sponsored many women in AA over the years – every woman I have sponsored has decided that drinking was much easier than recovery. Life is too fucking short to invest too much energy in someone who is a walking ghost.

  21. Kelso – I understand your point, I don’t know if you can be as careful a guy as Obama has been, as book-smart and street-smart, change gears as many times and BELIEVE you’re anything but a top-flight young pol who’s real good at politics and getting better. Think about times you’ve observed Obama in public. He’s a pretty cranky guy, really. It’s his fans who paint a picture of him a certain way at odds with who he is.

    …but speaking as the punk kid of a would-be politician, I can tell you that you don’t have to be Chimpy McStagger to live in a bubble. The powerful are always surrounded by toadies and minions waiting their turn to kiss their master’s ass. You never directly hear anything other than how brilliant you are, or what a good job you are doing. And this goes for business leaders too. It is appalling.

    Like Bill Clinton, I think Obama believes what he says at the moment he says it, but then the next moment comes along, and he has the next change he can believe in.

    I understand you have to have an ego to be a pol – it is part of the job requirements. You have to believe that you are better, smarter, and able to make a bigger difference than anyone else, or at least better than your opponent. You have to be a narcissist.

    For the record, I am not an Obama fanboy (I thought he was one of the two worst possible candidates, the other being Hillary), but he is heads and shoulders above McCain. I believe that everyone projected onto him what they wanted to see, and now that they are starting to see the real man, they want their money back.



  22. fairlane – This post reminded me of the ending of The Beatles song “A Day In The Life” where it builds up to this incredible crescendo of musical noise until it ends with that power “E” chord that resonates long after it’s played. I knew from past posts that you were involved with social work, but reading the accounts of your work with troubled kids and addicts gives me a perspective I’ve never considered. I know what it’s like to live with an addict, but treating one is another story altogether. Dude, I know the work has burned you out, but you did good while you were there. And you are so right about the us being the instruments of change; anybody can pick us up, but taking the steps forward is our task. Great post. Thanks.

  23. ///Dude, I know the work has burned you out, but you did good while you were there.///

    Fairlane … what Spartacus said.

  24. ya, that too. What anita said about what spartacus said. i’ll say it too. just remember…..if you burn out in one place….doesn’t mean that that there isn’t another place that could use some light….and you just might be the right dude to do it, dude.

  25. @ ANITA: My point is that the argument is silly if you’re going to split hairs. Yes, Kucinich is sort of a practing Catholic, Howard Dean, a practicing Congregationalist, and Bob Wexler a practicing Jew, that doesn’t men I don’t “like” them. I mean that IN GENERAL the alternative hypotheis that US citizen are more believing in religious superstition than in other capitalist countries is supported by the evidence enough at about a 99% confidence level as over the “null” hypothesis that relgious superstition is even spread over the populations of ALL capitalist-democratic-republican nations.

    I know you didn’t dig George Carlin on account of his overt atheism but I’m not being an aggressive atheist here. I’m merely offering the opinion that a greater proportion of atheism in a capitalist-democratic-republican nation would tend to support better economic policies and more scholarship and would even make RELIGION better.

    Because I have to, I’m going back to Carlin here. I’m an atheist like he was but I happen to really like the way Roman Catholicism is practiced here. It’s very much not about top-down control but instead about “the buddy Jesus” or “Rey del Amor” as they call him. Very strongly religious Catholics here neither have a problem with my atheism nor my Jewishness because their lives are lived without the guilt and shame of the Catholic Church in America.

  26. @ TENGRAIN: No disagreement whatsoever. Going in I ranked them in order of preference: Kucinich, Clinton, Paul, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd, Romney, Obama….

    I am not a fan-boy either, but at least he showed me better gumption than I’d seen in a mainstream Demcoratic candidate from March through June of this year. And I still like Obama over McCain without question. If I lived in a jam-up Blue or Red State, I would consider voting for McKinney or Barr.

    I doubt I’ll have everything together in time to vote in 2009’s election here but while my choice is Balbina Herrera, I’ve given equally to Herrera leader of the governing center-left PRD and Varela of the center-right PP.

    That’s how all business-people and political types do it. If you lose with Balbina you want the young libertarian guy in there as opposed to one of Bush Sr and Powell’s old henchmen like Martinelli. So the PRD helped Varela PP nomination drive and the Valera camp of the PP will help Balbina.

  27. *sigh* I get it. Except for maybe I’m not hanging on every word Obama says but the message I get is ‘Let’s roll up our sleeves and clean this mess up.’ Myabe that’s just more palatable & it’s what I want to hear?

  28. Quite an interesting discussion.

    We missed you K-Man.

    Here’s my “Moral.”

    Politics Sucks.

    It drains people, divides people, and we expect Way Too Much.

    It does, however, provide ample material for bloggers (Almost 5000 words on Obama between both posts).


    Counseling was cool, I’m glad I the opportunity, but thank the Heavens I’m finished.

    Never Again.

  29. Wow – sorry I missed this yesterday.

    The change DOES come from We the People, but the thing I think is that we all get burned out because the game keeps frikking changing. You simply cannot maintain much less get ahead when the goalposts and rules keep moving, and that’s the part where the politicians come in.

    I’ll tell you, I think that if there was a National Strike for 2 consecutive days, the 2nd being Voting Day, you’d see both parties and business leadership with huge loads in their pants.

  30. Thanks, Fairlane. I appreciate that, buddy. I’ve been reading but have neglected to participate because I had originally left on a sour note and didn’t want anyones’ problems with me to corrupt the great works the whole team has been doing. And I couldn’t be happier at my spot on my team.

    Politics doesn’t happen on the kind of apocalyptic level in the rest of the West the way it does in the USA. All of the “third-rail” issues that can’t be touched by any Republicrat — e.g., death penalty, single-payer health — have already been resolved in the way that the most “liberal” Democrat would be afraid to advocate, except maybe Kucinich or Lee or someone like that.

    Politics, thankfully, is BORING and INSTRUMENTAL everywhere else. It’s about the most mundane things you can imagine. Tariff escalators and decelarators, the National medical school tuition subsidy, wheat prices…that sort of thing. And when you’ve got most of the West voting either center-left or center-right, you just don’t get the venom or the show you get in the USA.

    But practiced outside politics don’t divide or drain. People don’t look for Messiahs. They look for economic growth, low taxes, good schools, and all the normal stuff. Sure, a place like Colombia with a right-wing government “outlaws” abortion. Do you think there’s a shortage of Harvard and Yale trained Ob-gyns who will do it in Barranquilla, Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Manizales, Cordoba, etc.? You think the government REALLY cares?

    Politics is about getting people on the buses to vote. It’s about the Christmas hams. It’s about how to regulate natural monopolies. It’s about the spoils. The only times a Western nation is forced to make REALLY BIG DECISIONS are when the USA is involved!

  31. Wow Jonestown is busy.
    Fairlane I am currently working at summercamp for inner-city youth. It is a hot ghetto mess. Multiple Agencies, bad facilities and inept management have created the ‘perfect storm’. It is one giant blame game, a ritual of pass-the-buck. I know this plays out everywhere.
    America is rapidly approaching, what we used to call, the third world. I have always marveled at our elitist public educational curriculum. The third world? What a crock.
    An associate just returned from Africa a week ago. “Dave they got more Hummers and Mercedes over there than you think”.
    We Americans think our shit don’t stink. Right now I think it stinks the most.
    Vote T. Boone Pickens in 2012!!!!!(insert laughter)

  32. maybe i shouldnt go on vacation anymore. i missed too much

    this was a great thread and read
    and a great post

  33. DAVE: I heard Pickens as the featured speaker at an investment conference geared to quantitative and iconoclastic money-managers in 2004. He rocked the house! Oil was around $45/bbl and people had just started making real money in it again after all that terrible peace and prosperity of the Clinton years. Pickens said “I was a Bush-Pioneer but they disgust me know. I love that oil is $45 and going up because they’re throwing money at my with their consumption and repulsive wars and I can’t refuse the money but something has to be done. I’d rather make no more money in crude and see the USA completely powered by clean, renewable and alternative technologies such as solar and wind power…I’m very bullish on oil because of these inadaquate people in the White House but I wish I was bearish.”

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