Thursday, May 31, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Well democracy did indeed fail this week. I left it open to the radio audience and no takers on who should win the award (though saying Asshat on the air is an FCC violation, so I just called it Idiot of the Week). I threw out some suggestions, but I also was willing to take suggestions, and yet nobody jumped at the opportunity.
See folks, democracy sucks!!! The time for the suspending of rights has begun. As dictator of this page I will appoint Asshats purely based on my own whims and reasoning (reasoning which may or may not exist). As a result, this week's Asshat has a bonus, it is an Asshat with Ass fat. Sometimes this stuff writes itself, or at least i wish it did, because then I wouldn't have to type it out.
40st woman in toilet 14 hours
May 26, 2007
FIREMEN ripped apart a flat yesterday to rescue a 40-stone mum stuck in her loo for FOURTEEN hours.
Caroline Comer, who is in her 50s, got trapped after she went to spend a penny at midnight.
A shocked relative found her at 10am and rang 999.
Paramedics unable to budge her called the fire brigade, who brought in power tools, hammers and chisels.
It took four more hours for 15 firefighters to cut away the toilet door, its frame and an interior window to reach the woman.
The rescuers then battled to stretcher her down a flight of stairs and out on to a first-floor balcony. At 2pm she was finally winched to the ground in Basingstoke, Hants, using a CRANE and PULLEYS.
The woman was loaded into an ambulance which took her to hospital â where firemen who followed had to lift her out again.
Last night she was in intensive care. Fire service spokesman Mark Jones said of the rescue: âIt was quite a job.
âThere was a lot of huffing and puffing from the men involved.â
A witness said: âThe firemen were cutting away doors, windows â the whole of the inside of her home.â
Monday, May 28, 2007
Yeah, it's that ear thing. I did do the imbedding thing for the radio show, so if you have three hours, you can listen here (well, really two hrs and change) . Of course, the pods are still available and portable, but in a pinch this may do.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Well, I guess I might as well sit down and blog for a few minutes, it is the least I can do. Big jump in the change meter to report, we are up to $14.36 after a particularly profitable change meter span (at least profitable by change meter standards).
Not too much going on on the home front. Pittsburgh is slowly becoming a tourist destination, compliments of a rather uncanny run of just impeccable weather. In the first 15 days of this month we received rain once, the rest of the time has been mostly sunny, temps in the 70s (though today I think it cracked 80) and not that much humidity, which is good because usually when it is warm here, it is accompanied by rather muggy conditions.
I did have a rather big guest on the radio show today, one that I failed to mention with a radio update as we had Howard Fineman, political correspondent of Newsweek magazine and NBC News. Doug was supposed to have Hitchens on today, after I gave him the contact info for booking him, thus I have been helping out both radio shows I guess. Part of me wanted to listen, but by the same token, I don't want to suffer Hitchens burnout, nor to I want what Doug says to influence how I would approach the same interview. I do that from time to time, while the hosts are interviewing guests, I map out in my head how I would have approached the interview, making mental notes of where I might have gone that they didn't and picking up on things that maybe they thought were relevant that I might have just passed over. I do read some of the material as well, so when we do have Hitchens on our show, I have read the most recent book as well as his previous book on Thomas Jefferson and I am familiar enough with his writings that I think I could hold my own if I were the one doing the interview. For me, and I don't know how this works for other people, but the trick is, when having a guest, the best interview I can do is to get the guest to tell the story on why I found them interesting. When I interviewed Luis Urrea, I wanted to get across just how hard it is for illegals to get into this country and how they have to, in many instances, risk their very lives. It is a far different story than the one that many of us get to tell, that being we were winners of the genetic lottery, we just happened to be born here. Likewise, when I interviewed local blogger David DeAngelo, I wanted to get to what it means to be a blogger, because unlike the rather mundane stuff I put out, he tries to be relevant in a local/national, political sort of way. I will jump into that water from time to time, but less from a news type perspective than an editorial one, so I wanted to understand what makes that type of blogger tick. My job is just to get to the story and let the guest tell it.
While I am speaking of radio appearances, I am tentatively scheduled to be on Doug's show on Memorial Day, he is doing another episode of "Doug and the Producers" so it will be Doug, Greg Darryl and myself. I may also be hosting for Lynn next Friday, I still need a producer to sit in my chair. If I can get one of the part timers to work, you will get three unfiltered hours of me, if not, then you will get a "Best of Lynn Cullen" in my place.
Thanks to anyone who may have dropped by the imeem page. I will add more music as time allows, and may even play with their video features and I may even upload my radio appearances at some point. In the end, it may end up being my audio/video dumping ground. I just want to limit my embedding on the blog page, simply because too much audio on the blogs tends to run together, as evidenced by my embedding both a music playlist and a game in the last 5 posts. It is an audio myspace disaster of sorts, too much crap going into the ears at the same time.
Greg and I did some cleaning of the studio today. This was good because I got to empty out the on air studio cabinet. This is where all of the press copies of books go to die that the hosts don't want to interview on the air. I got three new reads for myself, all non fiction, but all looked good to me. The rest of the books I just threw in the break room for coworkers to take if they found them interesting. It would have made a decent sized box of books, but most didn't pique my interest and I had no desire to lug them all over town to sell them at the used bookstore, even though most were in good to mint condition and hardback to boot. I snagged "Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States", "Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism" and "Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green: A Year in the Desert with Team America". Needless to say, I will be reading for a few days. I started with "Dishwasher" today, I am a little over 100 pages into it. I would be further along, but I felt the need to push along in my quest to find a second job. As a result, I was out grabbing applications again today that I have to fill out tomorrow and then drop off at the respective businesses.
Let's not forget, I also did my civic duty and voted today in the primary election. Nothing too exciting for us city folks, just selecting people to represent the party (in my case Democrat) in the upcoming general election. Such exciting offices as mayor, judge, sheriff, and county executive were on the ballot and many of them were running for the party nomination unopposed, which cuts down on one's selection quite considerably. I still wrote a name in in one of the races where the candidate was running unopposed, that being for mayor. As you may remember, I blogged previously that the mayor violated the city charter and should have been removed from office. Well I don't have that kind of sway around these parts, so he is still the mayor, I just opted not to vote for him. I wrote in Peter Leo instead, a columnist that just recently retired from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I figure since he now is unemployed, he could use the work and it kept me from voting for our sitting mayor, so all the better.
I suppose I should say something on the passing of the Rev Jerry Falwell. Well, let's revisit Falwell's quote post 9/11 shall we........."I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians ... the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"
-- Jerry Falwell, September 13th, on The 700 Club about last week's terrorist attacks
This is where I am glad I am not of the religious sort, because if I were, I would only say that Rev Falwell, maybe your passing is a judgment from God as well and I can only hope there is a very special place in hell with your name on it.
On that pleasant note, I think I will go back to reading now, have a nice evening everyone.
Monday, May 14, 2007
(Editors note: Fixed title to blog, nobody caught my obvious error, for shame. )
There were no suggestions for Asshat this week, apparently my shunning of last week's suggestions and instead going off the board on my own has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some. Or it could just be that this was not nearly as good a week as last for Asshats. But Asshats are to be found and I have a pair. I will start by asking two relatively simple questions, both of which come with the same answer for this week's winners. 1) What would you do if you were an underage teenage girl and a older married man determined that your vagina would be a great place for his penis? 2) What would you do if you were a married man and a teenage girl was so smitten with you that to show you her affection, she decided to blast off your wife's face with a gun? If you answered "let's get together and see if we can't get a TV show out of the deal, or at least fuck", then you too may be an Asshat winner in the future. For the present however, we are relegated to those fine specimens Joey Buttafuco and Amy Fisher, who may now come on down and receive their collective prize.
AMY & JOEY SET DATE FOR LOVE
By JAMES FANELLI and DAVID K. LI
May 13, 2007 -- For love or money? That is the question as Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher are planning a romantic rendezvous for tomorrow night.
Fresh from the pen and soon to be single, Buttafuoco will wine and dine Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher over a candlelit dinner at a restaurant overlooking Central Park, The Post has learned.
The pair - whose yearlong affair ended in 1992, when Fisher shot Buttafuoco's then-wife, Mary Jo - plan to meet a couple of times during the week in an effort that TV producer David Krieff hopes will rekindle old feelings. And attract interest in a reality show.
Krieff, who will film the courtship, said Joey will come bearing flowers and a gift.
"If Mary Jo and Amy can be friends, then why can't Joey and Amy be lovers?" he asked.
But Buttafuoco said he has his own agenda - and wants to apologize for his on-camera blowup during their televised reunion last year.
"I need to be able to meet her, to be able to go on," he said. "And if it takes a turn to something else, well, there I am. You never know."
According to Krieff, Buttafuoco has been head over heels about the planned hookup.
He said Joey told him: "I still have feelings for her. I can't wait to have dinner with her. I can't wait to be with her. I can't wait to touch her."
Buttafuoco, citing the off-again, on-again Hollywood romance of Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett, said kissing and making up might not be so far-fetched.
"God bless them. Maybe I can be like them. If things can happen for them . . ." he said.
Krieff said he arranged the date because Buttafuoco is still hung up on his old squeeze.
"Joey's traveling 3,000 miles," Krieff said. "He still has feelings for her."
And Krieff believes Fisher, who recently had her breasts enlarged, still carries a torch for her old flame.
"I don't think she would be going to a romantic dinner if she didn't have feelings for him," he said.
Krieff wouldn't divulge where the dinner date would be.
Buttafuoco, 53, finished a three-month stint in the Los Angeles County Jail for illegal ammunition possession last month. He told shock jock Howard Stern last week that he has spoken regularly to Fisher, 32, since his release.
Tomorrow's rendezvous comes nearly 15 years to the day after Fisher, then 17, shot Mary Jo in the face at the Buttafuocos' Massapequa, L.I., home. Fisher served seven years for the shooting. She later married and had two kids.
Buttafuoco did four months for statutory rape, moved to California and divorced Mary Jo in 2003, and then remarried.
Last week, both Buttafuoco and Fisher's spouses filed for divorce, with reports citing the tawdry twosome's renewed contact as a reason for the splits.
"I'm still hurting," Buttafuoco said of the split. "I'll always love Evanka."
The last time the auto-body shop owner was face to face with his erstwhile lover, he spewed venom, telling Fisher she should be damned to hell.
During that May 2006 TV reunion, Mary Jo and Fisher hugged each other - but Joey unleashed the screed after Fisher demanded he apologize for seducing her.
"You are going to burn in hell you little [expletive]!" he shrieked. "I am finished with this nonsense."
Buttafuoco stormed off the set.
Krieff blamed Buttafuoco's meltdown on his former wife's presence. Buttafuoco dismissed that theory.
"I was very ill in a hospital the night before and heavily medicated," he said. "It just got off in the wrong direction. I don't want to be in that place, with that kind of anger."
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Just doing a little net surfing today and guess what? It's the season finale of Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. Far be it from me to deprive those of you that have followed the saga at my begging, so of course I had to go out and get ye olde video. It's not as good as Spiderman 3, though it is much shorter and much cheaper.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Well, let's get to it shall we? Far be it from me to have this page completely incomplete from scribblings by me from time to time.
I am as I write this, in the process of doing some audio tinkering with the page. I will be the first to admit that in most matters I am computer stupid, and rely more on a trial and error method to solving my computer problems than any amount of inherent computer knowledge. As a result, I was one of the last to the whole imbedding video thing, and I am still way clueless on providing links and such without spelling out the entire link within the blog entry and other than the download picture option, one can rest assured that unless I have done the copy paste thing from another site, pictures are not going to frequent the middle of my rantings. That being said, I am tinkering with a music download program while I type this, and if all goes according to plan, it will be either part of this entry, or part of the next one. The music is just some of the stuff that I use on the radio show for bumper music, certainly not all of it. All of the bumper music I use is stuff I have acquired, as the radio station has provided little in that regard, leaving the "sound" of the show entirely up to me, much to some people's disappoinment I assume.
I would like to thank David DeAngelo for sitting in Lynn's chair today. Coming up with guest hosts is always iffy on my end, foremost because I am not allowed to offer the guests cash, seeing as how I don't have a budget or anything along those lines. As a result, it falls to me to find compelling, talented guest hosts willing to work for free. It sometimes works, sometimes not so much. Don't get me wrong, there is no shortage of people who would love to just babble on air for three hours, at least until the moment of babbling arrives, then the actual work that goes behind it becomes much more obvious. Likewise, some of the people I would find to be interesting people to host don't have the experience behind the microphone, in which case it becomes a lot of coaching as the show goes on. You spend a lot of time just making sure they can get calls on the air and what not. That being said, for his first time hosting today, I thought David did an admirable job. The cool thing is, once you do it once or twice, the mechanical stuff becomes much easier, leaving you to focus more on content than anything else. I will have podcasts up for today's festivities, probably Sunday sometime. I have been stuck with what can best be described as too much production work over the course of the last couple of weeks. It seems everyone that has ever done anything now wants a dub of it as well. Between copies of interviews, and live reads that clients want dubs of, I am swamped in the production end of things. I went in way early last night (1:30am) just so I could finish my work with the weekend programming, and then to cut more commercial dubs of spots just to keep the paying public happy.
I did fire off an email to our GM about the possibility of a raise. Not sure how that will eventually play out, but the good news is it wasn't rejected out of hand, he actually wants to sit down and discuss it sometime this week. Let's not kid anyone, I am not expecting a vast increase in salary, heck, I may get nothing at all, but at least I have my foot in the door to at least talk about the possibility. I will keep my fingers crossed and any other applicable joints that may provide a modicum of luck.
While we wait for the music downloads to finish, we do have a change meter update, as we add another 12 cents to the total. The new number is $13.67. Woohoo. Actually, I haven't been looking as much, partially because I haven't been out as much recently. I have been trying to keep the spending under control until I get off my backside and go get a second job. It is a double edged sword in that I like getting to bed at a decent time and I like having evenings to myself most nights, yet I also know missed the additional income. So, the less I am out, the less chance I have of finding money in the outside world. Heck, when I worked at McDonald's as bad as that was, I could usually find a couple of pennies at least most days. At some point I imagine I will have to get back to the two job thing and my sitting on my butt is just delaying the inevitable.
I did get the gas turned back on in my apartment. Mind you, it wasn't that I didn't pay the bill, gas is actually part of my rent, but my apartment is part of a larger house type setup, and the gas is set in the house itself. When the students started moving out, the gas was temporarily shut off by the landlord, most likely because no one was living in the bigger house. I can usually turn on the heat in my apartment, but given how nice it has been recently there has been no need, and I have been using my microwave and crock pot for cooking, so the only thing I have been missing is warm showers, and given I am a single guy, a cold shower is something that I have taken on more than one occasion. Anyway, it seems they fired the gas back on on Wednesday, so all is good in that regard. I am less likely to be mad at my landlord, who has been awesome in most regards over the last 5 years I have been here, than my phone company, which has made incompetence an artform. They still haven't credited my account for the week that they failed to provide service. I am sure that had the shoe been on the other foot, if I had ordered additional services per se, they would have been more than happy to see my account reflecting the change as soon as possible.
The local news just kicked off. Sorry, I have the TV on while I am blogging and downloading music. Anyway, through the course of the evening, they have been doing teases about a man who was found dead in his home and wait until to hear about the shocking discovery. Mind you the discovery isn't how the man died, nor if anyone was found responsible but that when he was found, he was dressed as a woman. Maybe it is just me, but unless his behavior (cross dressing) was somehow related to his death, I fail to see the relevance beyond shocking the audience, and indirectly, embarrassing the dead. Not that I am big on the cross dressing front mind you, I just don't care unless it directly plays into the man's death, i.e. someone was so disturbed by his behavior that they killed him over it. But when you have nothing newsworthy to talk about, I guess embarrassing the dead is as good as anything.
I am not sure how many of you have followed the SI curse. The concept is a simple one, those people that appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated end up "cursed", usually by a lowering of the level of play in their sport or profession, or getting injured or worse. Anyway, as I was sitting around the other day, I was starting to wonder if maybe there was an Asshat curse as well. After all, when was the last time we heard from Michael Richards since his holding of the title two weeks in a row? He has become persona non grata amongst the Hollywood set. Circuit City saw it's earnings fall after winning the award, apparently customers weren't keen on the idea of buying major ticket items from less than qualified new employees versus their more experienced and more well paid counterparts. Scott Baio saw his autobiography fall through after winning the award, people did not apparently want to read about his attempts to sexually woo costar Erin Moran, only to hook up with the couch beneath her instead. Mitt Romney, who won for quoting Fidel Castro at a speech in Miami while courting Cuban American votes, continues to poll third in the race for the Republican nomination for President, and Chris Simon saw his New York Islanders get bounced from the NHL playoffs in 5 games after his season long suspension for his high stick on an opponent. The reason I mention this is that I am coming up on the next Asshat winner (sometime early next week) and unlike last week, which was hard to pick just one, this week is a little more difficult and as an added bonus, I am thinking that the Asshat has to be able to live up to the susequent curse that should befall them after winning. It really is almost too much pressure. It was like when I used to "get lucky with lasagna". By that I mean, that when I used to invite females over to my place (or I would go to theirs) and I made lasagna for dinner, it would end up with me hooking up. That is all good in its own right, but then you become almost afraid to pull out the lasagna for fear you will break the streak. After all, if I make lasagna and it doesn't work, the streak is over by the same token if I make something else, say orange chicken, and I don't hook up, then I think I should have went with the lasagna. Now I am thinking, if I pick an Asshat and they break the curse, then I break the streak and if I don't pick an Asshat I am going the orange chicken route.
Hey, it looks like we are only a couple of songs away on this end of things. Now the trick of figuring out how to post this comes into play. I guess I should call it an evening and go about the spell checking I am sure this entry so desparately needs. Hopefully very soon, we will have music.
But it is of importance and it is well written and it deserves at least a mention on this page, so it will get mentioned right about................now
A Legacy Overshadowed
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, May 11, 2007; A19
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that he's stepping down won't quell the anger felt among so much of the antiwar left. But my own reaction is a deep sadness that he tarnished a formidable legacy.
As Blair exits, beleaguered by the unpopularity of the war in Iraq that he championed, it's almost impossible to remember the excitement and energy he called forth 10 years ago when he and his Labor Party won their landslide victory.
The mid-1990s were a joyful time to be on a center-left that seemed to be leaving the old conservatism in the dust. Blair and Bill Clinton represented a charmed and charming reformist future that would take us on a Third Way "beyond" -- a big word at the time -- both the "old left" and the "new right." Surprisingly, London and Washington were replacing Stockholm and Paris as centers of the democratic left. The word "socialism" was out, but "community" was in. "Collectivism" was replaced by the smoother word "solidarity."
Everything about Blair's project was "new" (he relabeled his venerable party New Labor) and "modern" (a word used so much that New Labor started to sound like a Scandinavian furniture store).
Labor's 1997 pop campaign anthem, "Things Can Only Get Better," by D:Ream, was cloying to some. But as the astonishing returns rolled in on May 1, the lyrics blaring at New Labor's victory celebration seemed perfectly appropriate to the exhaustion of British conservatism and to the sense of hope Blair inspired.
What Blair built in his pre-Iraq days was not the Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land imagined by the poet William Blake but something more workaday: generally competent government, steady growth built on reasonably orthodox economic policies, fiscal responsibility, some expansion of public services, a rather serious war on poverty.
The caution of Blair and his top economics minister, Gordon Brown (his almost certain successor), reflected their determination that New Labor would not repeat Old Labor's mistakes. Blair won a landslide reelection in June 2001. But the low turnout showed that while voters were more or less satisfied, they were no longer rapturous. He won again in 2005, but with a majority reduced by disaffection over Iraq.
At its best, Blairism, like Clintonism, was always a brilliant balancing act. Here is a classic Blair sentence from a Sept. 27, 1998, Post op-ed piece: "A false opposition was set up between rights and responsibilities, between compassion and ambition, between the public and private sectors, between an enterprise economy and the attack on poverty and exclusion."
With the Third Way, you could have it all. And Blair and Clinton were right in seeing that clearing away those false choices was a necessary condition to routing their conservative adversaries.
But there were times when Blair seemed to embody Joan Baez's brilliant reference to the man who was so good with words and at keeping things vague. In the best one-line critique of Blair's style of politics, American economist Jeff Faux wrote in 1999 that "the Third Way has become so wide that it is more like a political parking lot than a highway to anywhere in particular."
Still, it's an attractive parking lot. A survey taken by the Independent of London last month -- in the teeth of the unpopularity of Blair's Iraq policies -- found 61 percent saying he had been a good prime minister. It's a fair judgment.
But the same poll found that 69 percent thought Iraq would be Blair's legacy, and there's the rub. Oh, how so many of his American friends wish that he had been able to restrain President Bush and had not bought into this war.
"Is the prime minister really the president's poodle, slavishly willing to jump through any hoops at the request of the White House?" asked a writer for London's Daily Mail. What makes that quotation interesting is that it's from a critique of Blair's support for Clinton's policies toward Iraq, published in December 1998. Say what you will, there is a kind of consistency in Blair's pro-American interventionism.
On so many other issues, Blair asked the right questions, and my hunch is that even critics to his left will find themselves building on what he achieved. For their part, Britain's Conservatives, in an effort to be (yes) "new" and "modern," have embraced their own version of Blairism. We may be done with Blair, but his influence will long outlive his tenure -- and the war he embraced.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I posted a link last week to my Friday night viewing habits last week. I hate doing links because they direct traffic away from the page and as any savvy media person will tell you, once you direct people elsewhere, there is no saying you will ever get them back. Maybe the link will get them caught up in something else entirely, maybe their mind will remember something else they could or should be doing, or maybe they will just think, "Christ, another link, I just came by to see what's up, not go all willy nilly all over the internet."
Hopefully I can fix that here, so you no longer have to leave. I was tinkering around the Charlie Rose page and admit I am not nearly as familiar with his website as I am the program itself, so finding stuff becomes problematic for me at times. Well, as luck would have it, I was there because the people that run Christopher's page (www.hitchensweb.com) ask for submissions if they see something about him in the media so they can link it to their page. I left the Friday appearance go for a few days, I tend to think that they are savvier than I about such things, but since there was still nothing there as of today (Wednesday), I figured the least I could do was get the link I provided the fine frequenters of this page days ago. I had sent them a previous submission, I don't know if they took my link or found it on their own about a recent interview he did for Radar Magazine (www.radaronline.com). It took a couple of days for it to show up, but it is now on his page, maybe this Charlie Rose interview will show up there as well. As for the people that visit here instead, turns out it is easier than I made it out to be, and I am all about fixing things when I can, or at least making them more simple.
We will be having Hitchens on the radio show, at June 6th, time 11am for those keeping score at home. I have indeed scored the interview, for which I am more than happy to still be on an inner gloating high. Crikey, Hitchens, Sen John Kerry, and next week Newsweek's own Howard Fineman, one may mistake us for a damn radio show after all. Until then, all I can do is make things as simple as I can, and for simplicity's sake, here you go. Just the interview here, no Bill Maher (though Bill is good in his own right) and now you don't have to leave the page. Aren't I indeed grand?
Tomorrow, around 9:30ish former Presidential candidate and current US Senator John Kerry is supposed to call in to the show (I say supposed because he is calling us, a thing I always find little comfort in as a radio guy, I would rather be placing the call)
Friday, for those of you that remember my last hosting gig, you will remember that I had as a guest a local blogger David DeAngelo (www.2politicaljunkies.blogspot.com) as a guest. Friday, I let him host the show, so be there or be square.
I may be hosting again in the near future, will post more about that when I get all of the i's dotted and the t's crossed.
Monday, May 7, 2007
This week's selection was going to be tough. I had mentioned some of the potential nominees on Friday, though certainly not all of them as I was receiving emails about potential Asshats (and everyone is welcome to send suggestions for Asshat, if we get enough regular response, we may again open it up to voting) and an email that was supposed to be part of a protest (the National Gas Out Day) not realizing how utterly Asshat-like such a proposal actually is.
That being said, I was just numb with prospects, then I saw this fine piece early this morning, and what can I say but, case closed. Now, as an added bonus of enlisting in the armed services to defend one's country, single parents get the honor of losing custody of their kids.
If it's Monday, it must be an Asshat and this one just goes beyond description........
Deployed troops fight for lost custody of kids
She had raised her daughter for six years following the divorce, shuttling to soccer practice and cheerleading, making sure schoolwork was done. Then Lt. Eva Crouch was mobilized with the Kentucky National Guard, and Sara went to stay with Dad.
A year and a half later, her assignment up, Crouch pulled into her driveway with one thing in mind â bringing home the little girl who shared her smile and blue eyes. She dialed her ex and said sheâd be there the next day to pick Sara up, but his response sent her reeling.
âNot without a court order you wonât.â
Within a month, a judge would decide that Sara should stay with her dad. It was, he said, in âthe best interests of the child.â
What happened? Crouch was the legal residential caretaker; this was only supposed to be temporary. What had changed? She wasnât a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or an abusive mother.
Her only misstep, it seems, was answering the call to serve her country.
Crouch and an unknown number of others among the 140,000-plus single parents in uniform fight a war on two fronts: For the nation they are sworn to defend, and for the children they are losing because of that duty.
A federal law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is meant to protect them by staying civil court actions and administrative proceedings during military activation. They canât be evicted. Creditors canât seize their property. Civilian health benefits, if suspended during deployment, must be reinstated.
And yet service membersâ children can be â and are being â taken from them after they are deployed.
Some family court judges say that determining whatâs best for a child in a custody case is simply not comparable to deciding civil property disputes and the like; they have ruled that family law trumps the federal law protecting servicemembers.
Even some supporters of the federal law say it should be changed â that soldiers should be assured that they can regain custody of children.
Military mothers and fathers speak of birthdays missed, bonds weakened, endless hearings.
Fighting insurgents and the family court
They are people like Marine Cpl. Levi Bradley, helping to fight the insurgency in Fallujah, Iraq, at the same time he battles for custody of his son in a Kansas family court.
Like Sgt. Mike Grantham of the Iowa National Guard, whose two kids lived with him until he was mobilized to train troops after 9/11.
Like Army Reserve Capt. Brad Carlson, fighting for custody of his American-born children after his marriage crumbled while he was deployed and his European wife refused to return to the States.
And like Eva Crouch, who spent two years and some $25,000 pushing her case through the Kentucky courts.
âIâd have spent a million,â she says. âMy child was my life ... I go serve my country, and I come back and have to go through hell and high water.â
In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the soldiersâ relief law should be âliberally construed to protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation.â
Shielding soldiers allows them âto devote their entire energyâ to the nationâs defense, the law itself states.
But child custody cases are different.
âThe minute these guys are getting deployed, the other parent is going, âI can do whatever I want now,ââ says Jean Ann Uvodich, an attorney who represented Bradley.
Bradley had already joined the Marines, and his young wife, Amber, was a junior in high school when their son Tyler came along in 2003. With Bradley in training, Amber and the baby lived with Bradleyâs mother, Starleen, in Ottawa, Kan.
When the marriage fell apart two years later, Bradley filed for divorce and Amber signed a parenting plan granting him sole custody and agreeing that Tyler would live with Starleen while Bradley was on duty.
In August 2005, Bradley deployed to Iraq. A month later, Amber sought residential custody of Tyler. She didnât fully understand what she had signed, she said.
Bradley learned of the petition in Fallujah. He worked during the day as a mechanic, then at night called his mother to hear the latest from court.
âMy mind wasnât where it was supposed to be,â he says. And the distraction cost him. One day he rolled a Humvee he was test-driving. Though uninjured, Bradley was reprimanded.
Uvodich sought a stay under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, arguing Bradley had a right to be present to testify.
But the judge said he didnât believe the case was subject to the federal law because âthis Court has a continuing obligation to consider whatâs in the best interest of the child.â
The judge awarded temporary physical custody to Amber. Last summer, that order was made permanent.
Bradley, now 22, is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., awaiting his second deployment to Iraq. He gets to Kansas on leave, seeing Tyler for four days at a time.
âThe act states: Everything will be put on hold until Iâm able to get back. It doesnât happen,â he says. âI found out the hard way.â
Whose best interest?
Dale Koch, president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, said that as state court judges, those deciding custody cases are obligated to follow their family codes â and âin most states there is language that says the primary interest is the best interest of the child.â
âWe recognize the competing interests,â says Koch, an Oregon judge. âYou donât want to penalize a parent because theyâve served their country. On the other hand ... you donât want to penalize the child.â
But what does âbest interestâ really mean? Koch mentions factors such as stability and considering who has been the childâs main emotional provider, parameters that conflict directly with military service.
Iowa Guardsman Mike Grantham thought he was serving the best interests of his children when he arranged for his son and daughter to stay with his mother before reporting for duty in 2002. He had raised Brianna and Jeremy since his 2000 divorce, when ex-wife Tammara turned physical custody over to him.
After mobilizing, Grantham was served with a custody petition from Tammara. A trial judge temporarily placed the children with her. A year later, though Grantham had returned, the judge made Tammara the primary physical custodian.
An appeals court sided with Grantham, saying: âA soldier, who answered our Nationâs call to defend, lost physical care of his children ... offending our intrinsic sense of right and wrong.â
But the Iowa Supreme Court disagreed, saying Tammara was âpresently the most effective parent.â
Now, Grantham says, his visitation rights mirror those that his ex-wife once had: every other weekend, Wednesdays, and certain holidays â Fatherâs Day, for example.
âBeing deployed, you lose your armor,â he says.
Thousands of active duty single parents
Military and family law experts donât know how big the problem is, but 5.4 percent of active duty members â more than 74,000 â are single parents, the Department of Defense reports. More than 68,000 Guard and reserve members are also single parents. Divorce among service personnel is rising.
Army reservist Brad Carlson lived in Phoenix with his wife, Bianca, and three kids before deploying to Kuwait in 2003.
A year later, his wife indicated she wanted to end the marriage and remain in Luxembourg, where she had moved the family and where her parents lived.
Carlson filed for divorce in Arizona, and later invoked the Servicemembers Act, but in vain. A Luxembourg court awarded custody to Bianca.
âI feel really betrayed,â Carlson says.
The solution, some say, lies in amending the federal law to specify that it does apply in custody cases.
Some states arenât waiting for congressional action.
In 2005, California enacted a law saying a parentâs absence due to military activation cannot be used to justify permanent changes in custody or visitation. Michigan and Kentucky followed suit, requiring that temporary changes made because of deployment revert back to the original agreement once deployment ends.
Similar legislation has been proposed in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina.
'I can't leave my child again'
When Crouch was mobilized back in 2003, her ex-husband, Charles, wanted 9-year-old Sara with him. They drew up a temporary order, moved Saraâs belongings, and Crouch headed out â to Iraq, she thought, although she wound up at Fort Knox. The fortunate assignment allowed her to visit Sara most weekends.
But when the time came for Sara to return to her mom, Charles says his daughter expressed a desire to stay with him. She liked her school, had made new friends.
âI had no intention of trying to talk her into staying or anything,â he says. âAll I wanted was what was best for my daughter.â
Last year, the state Supreme Court cited Kentuckyâs new law in overturning the trial judgeâs decision granting custody to Charles.
Last September, Eva Crouch got Sara back.
Remarried now, Crouch is expecting another baby this August. But with 18 years in the military, she knows she could be mobilized again. One thing is clear to her now: Serving her country isnât worth losing her daughter.
âI canât leave my child again.â
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