McConnell’s Own Words on Senate Gridlock : Roll Call Opinion

Let me take the set of issues that Reid and McConnell debated to a different level. Who is responsible for the Senate’s constipation? McConnell put the blame squarely on Reid for the practice of filling the amendment tree and shutting Republicans out of the debate. He has a point, one I have made often when exploring balanced ways of reforming Senate rules. But McConnell went on to talk poignantly about how Senate Republicans have repeatedly offered a hand for cooperation, only to have it slapped away rudely by Reid, the president and Senate Democrats.

McConnell’s Own Words on Senate Gridlock : Roll Call Opinion.

 

Coming from the “Raging Moderate” employed by AEI (a Koch Brothers Company). Tell me again how “Both Sides” are responsible for the gridlock.

I Signed Off On My Parent’s Death Panel

Yesterday’s supreme court hearing, upholding the constitutionality of the ACA makes this three year old post relevant. For the record, the steaming crock of shit know as Death Panels has been rated as a “Pants on Fire Lie” by Politifact For these reasons, I’m reposting an old entry about my Parent’s Death Panel:

 

The phrase, “Death Panel” is the biggest crock of shit invented by the Right since the phrase “Tax Relief.” End of Life Planning is an essential part of addressing death. It doesn’t matter if you believe in eternal life in some kind of Heaven or if you believe in oblivion: You are going to die. At some point you need to consider dying.

When my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, we talked about my parents last wishes. Both of my parents signed a living will and talked, however briefly, about what they wanted. Long before this discussion happened, my father had to take care of his aunt Irene’s affairs. While my dad was Irene’s only surviving family member, her second husband’s family became more interested in her the older she got. Irene always said, “don’t worry Pat, you’ll get everything.”

Now my dad didn’t want anything. Irene’s estate was full of kitsch and junk. Gleason’s have a pack rat gene (my brother is the only exception) and towards the end of her life, she became increasingly senile.

When she went into cardiac arrest, my father raced to her side. When he reached her, he was shocked to the point of anger. Her chest was not uncovered, her ribs were cracked so they could stimulate her heart. He couldn’t see her arms because they were lined with tubes from various IVs. She was mostly naked, lying on the hospital bed. I wasn’t in the room when he saw her–I was maybe thirteen–but when he told the story, he was the angriest I had ever seen him (and would see him until I was a teenager). He told the doctors to, “Cover. Her. Up.”

Text cannot impart how cold his voice was, or how forceful his tone was. My dad was a lawyer, with a fantastic ability to use his voice to get what he wanted. The doctors argued for a second before they relented.

That experience haunted my dad. Given Irene’s fraility and her advanced age, he thought it would have been more dignified if they had let her pass away. There was no need to crack open her 80 year old chest to apply direct stimulation.

With this episode firmly implanted in my parents mind, my mother’s oncologisthad a conversation with my mother. She told her, “There may come a time when this is not a fight worth fighting anymore. When the chemicals and procedures you will need to take will ruin your quality of life. You won’t be yourself anymore. You’ll just be the chemo.” I know this occured privately, as the day before my mom died, her doctor repeated those words. It infuriated my aunts. They thought it was highly unprofessional, unethical and immoral–especially at a Catholic Hospital–for this doctor to tell my mother, a woman who had fought cancer tooth and nail, and yet with grace and dignity, for over twelve years, that she should give up the fight.

But my mom knew. Her cancer had metastasized again. This time, there were microtumors in her brain. They impacted her speech. The gave her seizures. Those tumors robbed my mother of who she was: a talkative, impassioned woman who was always on the go. My aunts, my brother, my future sister in law and I all wanted her to stay. We wanted my mom to be around for decades to come.

What we wanted was selfish.

My mom wanted to live her life. She did not want to exist for chemo and radiation treatments that would make her less of who she was. My mother didn’t fear death either. She was a devout catholic woman who attended mass and believed in most of the teachings of the church fervently (except the whole gay marriage thing, the treatment of homosexuals by the church, women clergy and on priest celibacy). She also missed my dad terribly. Weighing the options, she chose to pass away. I believe if she wanted to, she could have fought on for another year before her body finally gave out. Her vitals were good despite the tumors. She chose, in the end, to die with dignity.

My parents planned their end of life decisions. They died the way the wanted to. Every other person in this country deserves the same. To get that, they need those options. End of life care needs to be discussed–and not maligned–as a death panel.

 

Why I Lost Faith

I left the church completely when they turned their back on a child in need. This is happened years ago, but Charlie Pierce has an essay up that made me rethink about my own relationship with the Church. My thoughts are far too complicated for twitter, and I’m not sure they will make any sense with the blog, but all the hoopla on the Church lately has made me think about why I walked away from Catholicism and the Christian faith. I left because of the sheer hypocrisy of the Church.

I had a client, years ago, who was a devout Catholic. As with all of my clients, this young man was sexually aggressive. While in the world of treatment, his case was not necessarily the worst I had ever seen, he had done great harm to his victim, her family as well as his own family. His family came to me for treatment, and I worked with him to address his thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Given his level of activity in a peer group he was considered lower-risk. The family, who was accustomed to getting strength from the church ,assured me that this young man would continue to be embraced by the church community and receive the requisite spiritual and social support necessary to live a positive life.

They turned to the church, and the church kicked my client not just out of the youth group, but his school as well, citing his non-adjudicated offense as the reason why he could not be around children his own age.

Let me be perfectly clear: The kid offended someone much younger. He had no contact with kids of that age any more. He wasn’t on probation, he was diverted. This means he wasn’t even in the Juvenile Justice System because the authorities in the State’s Attorneys Office deemed him to be low risk.

So the Catholic Church, which goes on and on about forgiveness, redemption and social service turns its back on a parishioner who needed help. Meanwhile, the Bishops are shifting pedophiles and hebephiles around like collectible collecting cards. Here was a kid who was ready, willing and able to work through his shit.  They walked away from him.

The kicker:  I knew the pastor of that church.  He was, when I knew him, a good man who cared about children of all kinds.

The Church did nothing for this kid, while they have gone to the MAT for adults who have offended dozens of children.

This was a kid who could have–and  I should point out, was–helped without the guidance of the Church. As far as anyone knows, he’s relapse free for at least five years.  During those five years, the Church has continued to shelter pedophiles and turn its back on people in need based on sexual orientation or gender.

I beat up on the Church because the Church chose to protect and shelter pedophiles, and because it abandoned families in need.  Their hypocrisy drove me away.  And now, despite my desire to believe in the hereafter, they can’t get me back.

Brush Your Shoulders Off

If there was dust on the internet, there would be a few centimeters of schmutz here, obscuring the view. Given the current layout and widgets, that might be a blessing in disguise.

So to kick things off, let’s rock the dust off:

Now then, onto the bidness.

There are two competing questions in my head right now:

  • How much hypocrisy is tolerable?
  • What the hell am I doing with my job and my education?

First and foremost, the question of incongruous attitudes and behaviors is one that frequently comes to the fore of my thoughts. I firmly believe that everyone is going to have a little bit of dissonance (or hypocrisy) within. This is simply is part of the human condition: Anyone who says otherwise may not be that introspective. At some point, however, the dissonance is too much and something has to give. For instance, anytime a person with views to the Right of Center begins to speak, I stop listening and begin to formulate arguments. This is despite the fact that I believe I am open minded and willing to listen to people with a variety of view points. One cannot listen and formulate an argument at the same time, therefore, something is going to have to give.

To that end, I typically justify my responses by saying that current political discussions are rehashing the same theories and bogus evidence that have been pulled out over the past thirty years. Furthermore, I find the “White People/Christian Thinkers are so persecuted in America” to be the single most stupid distortion of history I have ever encounter. So if the opinions I hear are based in either a) Same old Supply Side Arguments or b) white people have it so hard the dissonance disappears fairly quickly.

And yet, I will revisit it frequently because I’m not entirely sure that’s the right thing to do.

For the second point, I’m still looking into ways to combine my degree with my job. The fact is that the public sector needs to improve its IT, whether it is knowledge management, computer systems or data policies. This means I have to write proposals for the office and find the journals to read on the topic. While I hope it leads to clarity, I am fairly convinced I’ll leave asking more questions about my direction than when I started.

In the past, blog-as-soundboard has helped out with some of these thoughts. I also know I feel better when I blog regularly. So I guess its a return to form.

On a final note, I leave everyone with the elephant in my brain: The impending release of Mass Effect 3.

Peace out.

An Open Letter to John Daley, Part 3

Mr. Daley,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me to discuss my questions regarding the Cook County Budget, and for the coffee. I am glad to get confirmation that, at this time, layoffs are not on the table for Juvenile Probation Officers. I truly appreciate that you were willing to take time from your schedule to listen to my concerns. It is heartening to learn that there are commissioners who are willing to meet with their constituents to discuss these important issues.

Thank you, again, for all that you do.

Best Regards,

Marty Gleason

I just wish I could take a picture without looking like a smug bastard.

Another Letter to John P Daley

Mr. John P Daley, Commissioner 11th District,

Two weeks ago I wrote you a letter asking if I could talk with you  regarding serious budget issues that affect me and my clients in Cook County.  In that letter I identified myself as a new resident of the 11th district and a long time Probation Officer in the Clinical Interventions Division.   In that letter, I did not describe my job duties.  I had hoped that I would be able to discuss the nature of my job with you or with one of your staff.  That has not happened.  In order to encourage this badly needed conversation, I am more than willing to discuss about my job and my responsibilities in a more direct fashion.

Mr. Daley, for the past 11 years I have provided supervision, case management and treatment to Cook County Wards with aggressive sexual behaviors.  Cook County’s community based treatment program is a leader in addressing sexually aggressive children and youth, and this program is in danger of being cut by the recent threat of layoffs from the Cook County Board.

In addition to the services I provide these youth, I am also the Co-Chair of the Juvenile Advisory Council (JAC).  This is a national model of youth input in Juvenile Justice matters.  Jurisdictions from 20 states have come to the Cook County Juvenile Court to learn about the Juvenile Advisory Council, how we work with court wards and court staff and how JAC improves the services at the Court.  This program is also targeted by Budget Cuts.

I am not sure how the Cook County Board can demand for more cuts to programs and services while Cook County Commissioners refuse to take their furlough days.  I do not understand how vital court services can be cut or delayed when management heavy offices in Cook County Government are not sharing the burden of the budgetary short fall.  I do not understand how the County Board can talk about providing key services while cutting key staff.

If Layoffs occur, half of the JSO unit will be affected.  This will affect my workload and make it impossible for me to run the Juvenile Advisory Council.  This year I have already surrendered 5% of my salary to Cook County and increased my workload 25%.  Another 5% pay cut and another increase in my work load will make me look for work outside of Cook County Government.

I want to work providing service for the residents of Cook County.  I want your office to support me, and my coworkers, as we work to provide vital services to the children of Cook County.  Will you help me do my job?

 

I look forward to hearing from you or your staff,

Martin Gleason

 

An Open Letter to John P Daley

To Mr. John P Daley, Cook County Commissioner, 11th district,

Mr. Daley:

I am recent resident of your ward and a long time employee of Cook County.   I have been blessed to work with the children and families of the Cook County Juvenile Court for the past Eleven years as a member of the Clinical Interventions Division.  It is in this capacity that I am writing to you and asking for a meeting to discuss my concerns regarding the 2012 budget.  In short, I am deeply concerned that vital services will be cut from the our program in the name of austerity.

Cook County Juvenile Probation provides a vital role in taking at-risk youth and transforming them into productive members of society.  We save the county and state resource by providing these services in the family’s home, rather than in the Department of Juvenile Justice.  We empower parents so they can keep their children safe.  We keep communities safe by watching our clients.  We work with our local schools to ensure that our clients have a chance to better themselves.

Cuts to our budget directly impact the amount of the services we provide to the families of Cook County.  We will lose mental health service, sex offender treatment and supervision programs, and youth input programs (currently a trend in Juvenile Justice and pioneered in Cook County) if our funding is cut.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss these concerns with you, as well as to generate additional ideas on how to balance the budget.

Best Regards

Martin Gleason

Cook County Juvenile Probation Officer

Clinical Interventions Division

JSO Unit/Juvenile Advisory Council Co-Chair.