Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Madness is in the Air

Marooned for five days in Phoenix last week, I had the same feeling I’ve had in certain foreign countries – frustrated by this or that custom or characteristic then suddenly warmed by a stranger’s unexpected kindness.

The Arizona Heart Hospital and Arizona Heart Institute are among the kind strangers. They exude competence and professionalism, and seemed to take good care of the 81-year-old friend we drove to Phoenix from Las Cruces on Sunday.

Our last morning there, he and the nurses had had a rough night. His account was that nurses and their friends had been partying loudly on the ward and in his room, with loud music and lots of drinking, and had pushed him on the floor, beaten him badly, and tied him to a bench with canvas straps. Their account involved him insisting on getting up (as we’d seen him do, trying to go get a forbidden sleeping pill out of his suitcase while a blood transfusion tube was still sticking into his arm) even though he was dangerously weak and confused.

"I thought Tim was one of them when he first came in this morning, but then he started talking normally," our friend said of the male nurse. Tim had a gentle way and is particularly good with temporarily troubled patients. He’d been born in Arizona, but lived most of his first 18 years in Tepic, Mexico, where his folks were missionaries. He remains deeply religious, but is properly reserved about discussing his faith with patients, who he realizes may not share it.

That same morning we read the Arizona Republic.

The Maricopa County Supervisors and Sheriff’s Office were bickering over a deputy’s $10,000 trip to Hawaii at county expense.

It seems the volunteer sheriff’s posse team spent nine days in Hawaii investigating President Obama’s birth records and (according to the morning paper) "needed a sworn deputy’s services there to protect the investigators as they went about their work."

Hunnhhh? I’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times, and never felt the least need for a bodyguard. Do the Posse volunteers suppose the authorities in Hawaii are both so devoted to Obama and so corrupt that they might toss these "investigators" into the volcano?

You might reply, "What’s the surprise, these folks are nuts."

True, but they’re also holding offices in Arizona. What kind of morons think a team of "sheriff’s posse" volunteers are going to find something in the public records that hasn’t yet been found? Is there a reason, other than Hawaii’s obvious charms, to send a team of eight, plus the deputy? What kind of taxpayers stand still for a sheriff’s deputy going on a $10,000 trip to Hawaii on this sort of silly errand?

Actually, it gets sillier. They "saw potential threats on the island" and couldn’t carry weapons, under Hawaii law. Said one of the posse volunteers (Mike Zullo), "We were fortunate enough to work with HPD (Honolulu Police Department), where they changed our names in the hotel registry so they couldn’t find us."

"That was enemy territory, so far as we were concerned," he added.

Evidently they found nada, since "Zullo would not elaborate on the results of the trip."
Or maybe they found that Obama was born on Mars, and were warned by Martian spies that if they said anything the Martians would attack Phoenix.

How Obama’s birth is a matter within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s jurisdiction is one of the many unanswered questions about this boondoggle.

At least a sizeable contingent of sane human beings attended the commission meeting and successfully argued against letting a belated "private contribution" retroactively erase this misuse of public funds from the record.

Meanwhile the Arizona Secretary of state, Ken Bennett, is trying to explain away his statements that he would keep Obama’s name off the ballot if he couldn’t be confident Obama was born in the U.S. (Just how he could be confident, when repeated looks at Hawaii birth records appear insufficient to convince him, isn’t readily apparent.) This month he said he thinks Obama was born in Hawaii but lied and said that he was born in Kenya to get some unspecified sort of benefit in college. Then he said he didn’t mean Obama lied, but only that maybe Obama lied. Got it?

Reading the newspaper article, both Dael and I thought immediately of our friend in the hospital. Maybe it wasn’t the sleeping pills or an after-effect of the anesthetic. Was there something in the Phoenix air?  We wondered whether we should invest in oxygen tanks and breathing masks. Mostly we were laughing.

Writing this as a possible column, I started getting a little frightened. If the authorities in Phoenix were this nutty and paranoid, what might happen to us if I expressed this somewhat disrespectful views of the local authorities?   I was glad any publication would occur after we were safely back in New Mexico.

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