Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

9 January 2018. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… Joe Arpaio to Run For Senate in AZ… GOP Definitely Going Crackers

Is the GOP turning into a bizarro clone of Hillsboro Baptist? To allow Joe Arpaio to run in the primary… damn, that makes Hillsboro Baptist look sane by comparison…


Read this. First, we had some people touting Oprah for president… now, we have Trump the Chump himself endorsing Joe Arpaio. Well… the people in Arizona deep-sixed Joe before the Feds went after him. What does this tell you about the Repugs’ chances of holding their control of the Senate? They could very well lose it if they nominate candidates of this calibre. Before they destroy, the gods first make them mad



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Chick-fil-A Celebrates My Birthday

01 a woman at the riverbank


1 August was my birthday. I heard they also had a big stonkin’ bigot party at Chick-fil-A. I spent the day at home with my exceptionally smart trophy wife and my two clever and funny children. There wasn’t a homophobe in the room. This birthday got me thinking about my 18th, 39 years ago, and of what I thought the world would be like by the time I was pushing 60. One thing I never imagined was that bigotry, racism, and sexism would still play such outsized roles in our public life. However, they sure did back then.

To give you some idea of how much other things have changed, in 1973, I used a newly-available “correcting electric typewriter” to write something. After going through the five-step process to change an errant “s” to a proper “a”, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, it can’t get any better than this!” It’s been a wonderful life. I’ve skydived under old Korean War surplus parachutes, crossed the Continental Divide on a motorcycle during a snowstorm, been lured to Arizona by a cult, and been rescued by good friends. I came to love the West and its people, most of whom aren’t racist like Joe Arpaio or dumber-than-a-cactus like Jan Brewer. I was just in Tucson last week, so, even the cult experience had an upside.

Nevertheless, my history precedes even me. My Pop, Henry, saw electricity, the telephone, and the automobile arrive at my grandparents little family farm in Capitol Heights, Maryland. He lived through the Great Depression and always feared we would make that mistake again. I thought he was being silly. The Vietnam draft ended 30 June 1973, just one month before my 18th birthday. Before that, they chose draftees by “lottery” drawing from a glass jar, then, shuffled envelopes, then, a rotating raffle bin. If they picked your number early, you simply prepared to go. Lottery Day always felt like a national day of mourning. Mothers agonised and cried. After living through the upheaval of Vietnam, I never imagined we’d attack another country in a pointless exercise of American imperialism. We’d lost so much by destroying Vietnam and losing the war, and we damaged so many tens of thousands of our young men. I was sure we’d never forget the cost of our foolishness.

Having witnessed the correcting typewriter, I was kind of expecting big things to happen… they have. I’ve lived through the birth (and now death) of the desktop computer and the emergence of the internet as our new town square. Automobiles have gone from lasting about two years to lasting ten. Clothes, which used to be expensive, are now cheap. Gas, which used to be cheap, is now expensive. I also came of age during a time of both introspection and birth control pills. There was a lot of sex, a lot of sex. I wouldn’t call it “casual”, but it was friendly, and it was liberating. I don’t know anyone damaged by it. I remember saying I’d quit smoking if the price ever got to 50 cents a pack. Of course, by then, I was hopelessly addicted, so, I ended up quitting quite a few times. I didn’t quit for good until a miracle drug, Chantix, came along. It blocks nicotine receptors. Back in 1973, we wouldn’t have understood the brain well enough to even head in that direction.

A few problems continue to haunt us. We still haven’t figured out how to keep rich guys from using their money to tilt democracy in their favour. If anything, we’ve gone backwards, what with Citizen’s United and all. The other thing that really hurts my heart is our incomplete progress in ending bigotry and racism. Of course, we’ve made significant progress. However, when I was 18, I believed that intolerance would end when the old rednecks died. Instead, dumb uneducated rednecks raised dumb uneducated children, who continue to hold dumb uneducated views about black people, Muslims, women, Hispanics, and people who love the same gender.

This brings us back, I suppose, to Chick-fil-A. They’re “Christians”, they say. One religious group or another endorses so much bigotry and hate these days. Besides, we now have something called “Prosperity Theology” that teaches that God speaks to you through profits. Still, we’re heading in the right direction. My 19-year-old daughter encounters only a minority of bigots her age (mostly men, she says.) Recently, my 9-year-old son explained to a friend that “gay” isn’t an effective insult. It was his only experience with bigotry so far. I wonder what things will be like when those kids are pushing 60.

2 August 2012

Jimmy Zuma

Tucson (AZ) Sentinel



I grew up in this world. I’m only one year older than Mr Zuma… he was born in 1955… me, in 1954. I’ve seen the same changes. Some people scream that the “good ol’ days” were better and more moral. I remember hearing that as a kid, too. I don’t think that’s true. There’s always been evil and skulduggery afoot. There’s also always been goodness and right about, too… generally, most of the changes were neutral, though. I disagree emphatically with those who wish to use to use the law to punish those whom they disagree with. I also disagree with those who want to repress the “different”. The worst of that lot are those who confuse Real Religion with Mere Respectability. They obsess over gays, abortion, teenage sex, and condoms. Indeed, they’re VERY concerned about the world’s sins… but don’t do overly much about their own! As for me, I’m going to work on my many faults. That’s why I can’t abide sorts like John Whiteford or Freddie M-G… one gets the impression that they’re not only busy-bodies, but repressed persecutors. Of course, I guess what most rankles me about Whiteford, Freddie M-G, Rod Dreher, and Paffhausen (to name a few) is that one can tell that they’re putting themselves up as exemplars. I’m far from that… I know what I did (and I know that the sorts that I named have just as many sins on their plates).

This world would be a MUCH better place if religious people would remember the point of having a religion. It starts with working on YOURSELF… ’nuff said…


Friday, 30 November 2012

Army-Surplus Tents to Have Room for More Criminals: Tent City Gaol, the Legal Gulag of Arizona

01 fat cop


An inhumane and disgraceful situation has existed in Maricopa County, Arizona since 1993. Tent City is a gaol, where, instead of being locked up, inmates are kept outside in dirty old army-surplus tents, in a gated area. This modern gaol, which can hold up to 2,126 convicts, has an old-fashioned twist on how to deal with criminal offenses. The ham-fisted practises in this facility don’t differentiate between those gaoled for misdemeanours and felonies. Rick Edwards, a former prisoner and now CEO of an Arizona nonprofit named ExecuGive, told VOR exactly how Tent City operates. The majority of prisoners would most likely say that getting into brawls is the hardest part of their day, amongst other annoyances, but Tent City is different from other gaols. Once registered, inmates receive a black and white striped uniform, along with pink boxers, socks, and towels. Edwards told VOR, “This is to embarrass inmates and reduce theft of clothing. It’s become Sheriff Joe’s trademark”.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County is one tough cop, and an oddly creative man. It was his decision to set up army-surplus tents when his gaol reached full capacity. Instead of letting some criminals out earlier, he put up tents to accommodate them. A tall fence topped with barbed wire surrounds the tents, along with lookout posts so that prison guards can watch the facility. Edwards told us, “Inmates, criminals, and persons with direct knowledge of Arpaio and Tent City tend to hate and dislike him more than fear him. Still, many people love him and all that he stands for”. However, more and more people are speaking out against the sheriff… his “good deeds” for the county are starting to look like illogical torture for those under his authority. This past September, charges accusing Arpaio of abuse of office were dropped. Another allegation raising red flags was his usage of the county’s credit card. Reportedly, he used the card recklessly, to charge personal items. None of these claims went to court, as there was supposedly a lack of evidence. Besides all this, Arpaio barely won this past election, winning only 50.7 percent of the vote, his closest race in his 20 years of being sheriff.

Critics and ex-Tent City inmates aren’t convinced that his policing strategies are for the better. For instance, rumour has it that the food he serves is old, past its “use by” date. Instead of three meals a day, inmates only get two meals, which cost the county 40 cents (12 Roubles. 0.31 Euro. 25 UK Pence) per serving. The rules are even more rancid than the food, as he allows no tobacco, coffee, sugar, salt, or pepper. This neglect in providing proper meals isn’t the only accusation against Arpaio. A post on blog.novakazlaw.com claims that a former cook for Tent City saw cockroaches and rats crawling around the kitchen floor. Unsanitary food handling may seem minor, but the public worries about the conditions of the place, even if Arpaio isn’t letting the budget get out of hand. Edwards noted, “The heat’s a problem during the summer. You’re living outside in tents. Frequently, it’s in the 110s temperature-wise in Phoenix. The sheriff says that if it’s good enough for our military, it is good enough for criminals”.

Physically, prison is a daunting place, but Tent City is in a league of its own. Edwards, who’s a recovering addict, counsellor, and relapse prevention expert, said, “I’ve stayed in Tent City many times, some for an extended amount of time (you can be there up to two years). I’ve been treated rudely and unfairly in their continuing effort to rule by intimidation. I’ve also been denied legal rights many times. I’ve witnessed physical, mental, and emotional abuse daily. As an experienced and veteran prisoner, my inside knowledge allowed me to position myself to avoid much of the abuse. I followed the rules and used them to my advantage. Mental toughness and acuity was a strong defensive measure”. Edwards made it clear that medical care is hard to come by and, even if received, is of very poor quality in Tent City.

Edwards isn’t the only ex-inmate who remembers the dump Tent City has become, Deb Allenbaugh also experienced the jail’s “amenities” of portable toilets and fresh air. She got sent to tent city in 2004, and wrote the Tent City Survival Guide after her release. In the end, both Edwards and Allenbaugh learned to take nothing for granted, and to do everything possible to keep out of Tent City. The gaol in Maricopa County is one of a kind; inmates can barely function with inadequate food and scorching temperatures. People talk about the neglectful conditions, but they never seem to find legal proof, leaving its operation shrouded in questions. The modern American gulag has arrived; it’s here to stay, although one can hope for genuine improvements inside Tent City.

30 November 2012

Sarah Neary

Voice of Russia World Service



Nikolai Yaroshenko. Life is Everywhere. 1888

Life is Everywhere

Nikolai Yaroshenko



Editor’s Note:

There are two things to say about Arapaio’s abuse of prisoners. Firstly, the Church would condemn him for cruelty. Full stop. The Church teaches us that prisoners are human beings and deserve mercy (I’m thinking of the famous Russian painting Life is Everywhere depicting a 19th century convict transport to Siberia). Secondly, if a Russian gaol were to have only half the abuses of Arpaio’s crank operation, the US State Department would have a hissy fit. If all things are equal, that means that Joe Arpaio is a abuser and criminal himself… and deserves imprisonment. Reflect on this… the Republican Party supports the policies of this amoral monster. That’s a meaty thought…


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

22 May 2012. No Lie… Arizona Secretary of State Threatens to Kick President Obama Off the Ballot in His State

Why can’t the contemporary GOP act like its honourable forebears? At one time, the GOP FOUGHT corporate vultures… it broke up mega-corporations… today, it’s their scabby and shameless whore… O Fortuna, velut luna, statu variabilis (O, Fortune, as fickle as the moon…)…


How ’bout a little “mood music”…


Read this. Now, note this quote:

“Sometimes, when you want to believe something badly enough, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change your mind”, says Brian Montopoli at CBS News. Bennett isn’t alone either. He was moved to act by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is going full-birther, and three GOP congressmen have recently said they’re not sure if Obama’s American. Catherine Poe at The Washington Times  said, “The birther movement would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. It’s rampant paranoia. It’s unsettling that some Americans will always believe that Obama isn’t one of us and he tricked us to become president”.


The birthers are such lunatics that even the reliably-Far Right Washington Times is distancing itself from them. Willard Romney has the obligation and DUTY to condemn this nonsense explicitly and without equivocation or waffling… or mount a legal challenge against the President immediately, asking that the SCOTUS hear this case on an emergency basis, for if the President were, in fact, legally-ineligible to hold the office of POTUS, that would be his DUTY. I’ll be blunt… all of the birther conspiracy theories are pure bullshit… they don’t contain a scintilla or iota of truth, but Wafflin’ Willy refuses to condemn birtherism… too many of the bubbas in his base actually believe it (as they also believe that the President’s a Muslim and that there was a shooter behind the grassy knoll).

If you needed proof that the contemporary Republican Party has gone around the bend, and that’s its terminally-gaga, this is it, kids. Wherefore art thou, Teddy Roosevelt, Ike Eisenhower, Jake Javits, and Gerald Ford? Oh… I forgot… King Rush and Queen Ann label them RINOs… izzat so? Here’s what the Republican Party used to stand for, as Teddy said:

The great corporations, which we’ve grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts, are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but its duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown.

I seem to notice a DIFFERENCE between Wafflin’ Willy and Steady Teddy… one of these things is NOT like the other, and the difference isn’t flattering to Willy, is it? You KNOW what to do in November…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Albany NY

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