Diary of a Mad County

SATURDAY, Nov. 2 Flipping through the November/December issue of Mother Jones while getting our back shaved, we stop on this story: deep in Dubya's sweeping, 670-page No Child Left Behind Act is a provision requiring secondary schools to provide military recruiters with contact information for every student—or face losing all federal aid. The military had complained that up to 15 percent of the nation's high schools were “problem schools” for recruiters, so Congressman David Vitter (R-Louisiana) slipped in the new-recruitment requirement. Legal eagles and officials at schools in left-leaning communities fear the provision torpedoes young people's right to privacy. Some schools that barred recruiters from their campuses on grounds the military discriminates against gays and lesbians are reluctantly giving recruiters student directories—after informing students they have the right to withhold those records.

SUNDAY, Nov. 3 The more incessantly we whine over the pain from a thicket of nicks on our freshly shaved back (that's the last time we let Mr. Dennis use the power sander), the more our partners coddle us. Ironically, the Society for Neuroscience today concludes there is a connection between one's level of pain and a spouse's level of sympathy. Researchers in Heidelberg, Germany, found that pampered chronic back-pain sufferers experience three times the throbbing of those with unsympathetic partners. Conference-goers also learn that those who experienced severe pain as infants have a higher threshold for pain as adults. The powerful pro-circumcision lobby apparently has nothing to do with that finding.

Rubin: Suicidal?

MONDAY, Nov. 4 Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin reportedly slashes his own throat with a prison-issue razor before leaping over a balcony at a jail holding him for allegedly plotting to bomb a Culver City mosque and a district office of Orange County Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Oceanside). That's what the government says, anyway: Rubin's family denies he tried to kill himself. Initially described as brain dead by his own lawyers, Rubin is later reported to be showing signs of brain activity and breathing on his own after two surgeries. Rubin's defense team is trying to get federal charges against him tossed out on grounds the FBI has been out to get the militant since trying to connect him to the 1985 Santa Ana office bombing that killed Arab-American rights activist Alex Odeh.

TUESDAY, Nov. 5 Setting a new all-time low, 44.4 percent of California's registered voters turn out to vote. Lame duck Secretary of State Bill Jones blames the dismal showing on negative campaigning. Driving down the number of voters does prevent Republican Bill Simon from losing in a landslide to Governor Gray Davis, but it does not keep Democrats from winning every statewide office as well as retaining majorities in the state Assembly and Senate. That prompts the New Majority—Orange County's group of supposedly progressive millionaire and billionaire Republicans—to call on the state GOP to recruit more women and minority candidates and to moderate Republican stands on abortion, gun control and the environment. Of course, OC's intolerant GOP Boys Club ignores that shit as they party hearty to national results that wind up giving Republicans control of all branches of the federal government. Across the land, 39 percent of registered voters go to the polls—which is up slightly from the previous midterm election. Still, that means only 77 million out of 197 million eligible voters cast ballots and that the majority of those don't want the Senate investigating Dubya's rollback of the 1972 Clean Air Act and the Enron scandal, including California's claim that we're owed $8 billion in refunds as recompense for power-company shenanigans. Parrr-tay!

Scioscia: Best in show

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6 One election lifts our spirits: the nation's sportswriters select the Anaheim Angels' Mike Scioscia as American League Manager of the Year. We'll take what we can get at this point.

THURSDAY, Nov. 7 The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) votes to shift as much as $6 billion in costs from the continued fallout from the state energy crisis to ratepayers. (Thanks, Enron!) The cost to the average Edison customer will be $270 in 2003, but that doesn't necessarily mean our residential bills will rise by that amount because we've already been paying extra since the crisis first hit. It means those extra surcharges will continue . . . for the average, residential ratepayer, that is. The PUC also decides that the state's biggest energy users will pay a lower increase. In a sharply divided vote, the commissioners say the spirit of energy deregulation can only be salvaged if residents and small businesses pay billions more than larger users. Gee, thanks for caring. Oh, and remember: if you use what Edison considers to be too much energy, you'll get dinged financially for that. Don't use what Edison considers to be enough, and your rates will go up. Now go out and string up those Christmas lights.

FRIDAY, Nov. 8 Happy Veterans Day! In honor of this somber observance, a group of Vietnam veterans issues a condemnation of the upcoming war against Iraq, citing chilling similarities between that doomed conflagration and the Vietnam War. “President [Lyndon] Johnson easily managed to persuade a timid Senate of the United States that a hostile North Vietnam threatened the security of our country,” reads the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) statement. “Worse, he obtained authorization for escalating the war from a Senate duped by false claims of a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. Now, some 35 years later, another president tries to panic us into going to war.” Adds Barry Romo, VVAW's national coordinator, “No one should imagine that the war with Iraq will not result in more dead, wounded and sick veterans. Over 100,000 Gulf War vets have been stricken with Gulf War syndrome, but they cannot get the medical care they require. We cannot sit by and watch our government create more veterans when they are not taking care of the veterans they have now.”

A war with Iraq that will result in more dead, wounded and sick veterans is one step closer as the United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to give Iraq one last chance to disarm or face “serious consequences.”

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