Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finally! A Civil Dialogue Between World Leaders! Ahmadinejad vs. Obamanation

Hallelujah. A campaign promise has actually been fulfilled. (yawn.)

Barack Obama caused quite a stir on the campaign trail last year when he said he would sit down and talk with antagonistic world leaders, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, long known on these pages as Green Bean Almandine. Many Americans disagreed and said there would be nothing to gain from the leader of the free world sitting down as equals with a pipsqueak like Green Bean, or the North Korean nutjob, or the Venezuelan master of bombast.

Yet candidate Obama persevered and made it absolutely clear that he believed a "meaningful dialogue" with even the least likely leaders was better than the Bush Administration policy of treating them like petulant pisants.

This past week, after the farce of the recent Iranian elections, after the outbreak of huge, boisterous demonstrations that were quelled with murder, beatings and torture, Obama got his chance.

It went something like this:

Obama Day 1: Iran is none of our business.

Green Bean Day 1: Damn Straight.

Obama Day 2: You hurt my feelings. We should hold meaningful discussions on your motivations.

Green Bean Day 2: Shut your pile hole.

Obama Day 3: Meaningful silence.

Green Bean Day 3: That's what I'm talking about. Leader of the free world? Yeah, lead this baby!

Obama Day 4: What did you say?

Green Bean Day 4: You heard me.

Obama Day 5: Move our ships out of the Persian Gulf and institute the No Contact Protocol!

Green Bean Day 5: Chicken!

Obama Day 6: What?

Green Bean Day 6: You heard me!

Obama Day 7: Did not!

Green Bean Day 7: Did too!

Obama Day 8: Did Not!

Green Bean Day 8: Did too!

Listening to Fox News Sunday today, I was intrigued by a discussion on the discussion between the two equals, especially the discussion on between Fox News Senior Analyst Brit Hume, and national commentator Juan Williams.

Hume said that Obama "seemed not to recognize" that Green Bean has a brutal regime, and that those who participated in the post-election dissent are now being labelled criminals by the extremist Islamic clerics who run Iran. Knocks the hell out of Obama's street cred doesn't it?

Williams, who can be counted on to apologize for Obama no matter how tenuous his position, responded that anything is better than what George Bush did! I see.

Is anyone else wondering how long the Obama administration apologists are going to continue to blame George Bush for everything? The Big O has been in office for going on six months now and the Iranian elections did not occur on the Bush watch.

So let's all stand up and be big boys from here on out and take responsibility for our own actions, shall we? Oh, right, socialists don't fix problems, they fix the blame, as long as it is not fixed on them.

Anyway, I must have missed the last few exchanges between Obama and Green Bean because Hume said that Obama, after being out of step all week long, toughened his position at the end of the week. Maybe I zoned out from the tediousness of it all, but I don't recall hearing anything that would make me jump up and yell YES!

For that matter, I didn't hear anything that would even cause me to arch an eyebrow.

If this is what is going to pass as meaningful dialogue between world leaders for the next 3.5 years, we can expect to be hit on numerous fronts, by every two-bit punk who has delusions of world domination. The reason that the United States is a world leader is because myriad generations of immigrants, who came to America to escape repression, understood that you have to fight fire with fire.

We apparently are now fighting fire by blowing on it. I don't know about you, but I don't think that approach will work, and I plan on preparing for the repercussions.
Saturday, June 27, 2009

Connecticut Bloggers Put Their Stamp on "Troopathon!' Jim Vicevich, WTIC 1080, Movers and Shakers!

When it was all said and done, just over $600,000 was raised in Move America Forward's second annual Troopathon. That amount is sufficient to send tens of thousands of packages to American troops serving overseas.

One-sixth of the total came from one donation - Rush Limbaugh - who truly puts his money where his mouth is.

Right behind Limbaugh's incredibly generous donation was a contribution of more than $53,370 raised by the Blogger competition. The winner of the competition was a 12-member coalition of nationally known blogs called The Hot Air Steamers captained by Ed Morrisey of the Hot Air blog, which raised $24,704.36.

Right behind them, was the Greyhawks, a 5-member team of Connecticut bloggers, captained by yours truly, which raised $17,146.06! The Greyhawks included Jim Bancroft's Rescue Attempt; Judy Aron's Consent of the Governed; James Brislin's Carpet City Chronicle; Jim Vicevich's Radio Vice Online; and my Winter's Soldier Story. Not bad for five kids from Connecticut who came together on very short notice to work together in a common cause.

This might have been a competition, but what we really were competing for was an opportunity to help our troops overseas. As I pointed out in a previous column, the way the media is not covering events in Iraq and Afghanistan you would think all our troops had come home long ago.

We have won in Iraq, a point that some national commentators on the Troopathon were afraid to address head on. However, I am one of those people, who having fought far more times in my life than I would have preferred, knows when a fight has been won. I don't need an official proclamation from someone in an office armchair back in the states to tell me what should be obvious to any casual observer.

We have achieved victory in Iraq even if some are afraid to say so, and even if the media refuses to acknowledge this phenomenal achievement by our troops. But many troops are still there and it will be some time yet before the bulk of them are reassigned.

And unfortunately, we must now go back and reapply a military solution to Afghanistan. Can you remember just a year or so ago when so many know-it-all national commentators were saying there was no military solution in Iraq?

Yes there was. It is called security.

Security is necessary to allow room for growth and development on social and governmental issues. We thought we had it in Afghanistan, and we probably did, but we turned administration of the Afghanistan front over to an international coalition for maintenance.

Now we have 7,000 more Marines and tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen going back to reestablish order there. Pretty much tells you about the value of a One World Order doesn't it?

Although I was the team captain for the Greyhawks, we really have to thank conservative talk radio show host Jim Vicevich, who broadcasts on WTIC-1080 AM weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, for being the prime fund-raiser for our team. When I asked Jim to join the competition he came out full bore, and gave overwhelming energy and passion to the effort.

Jim was even interviewing retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North Wednesday about North's new book, and before it was over they were talking about the Troopathon! Great interview techniques there.

On Thursday Jim interviewed Move America Forward staffer Deborah Lee, the mother of the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq, and it was a heartfelt, emotional interview that put a very human face on the concept of sending "care" packages to our troops.

For our efforts Move America Forward has offered that all the Greyhawk bloggers will receive: Recognition on and websites; Blogs will be featured in Move America Forward post-Troopathon blogging and e-mails; Blogs will be featured in an insert in all of the packages that are shipped to the troops; Visual acknowledgment in closing credits.

I am sure my team members are appreciative of having their efforts acknowledged on the national scene. But remember, this wasn't about us, this was about the troops.

Even when they aren't being shot at, they are living in often brutal conditions, thousands of miles away from home and family. I can tell you from personal experience in Vietnam that getting a package from home that shows you are not forgotten is a major event in the lives of those who are fighting for us.

So thank you to all my teammates, thank you especially to Jim Vicevich and WTIC 1080 AM for giving us so much exposure, and most of all thank you to every one who took the time to contribute to such a worthwhile cause.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Support the Troops at Troopathon; Lloyd Marcus Releases We The People - Tea Party Anyone?

I met Lloyd Marcus when we shared the speaker's stand at the Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C., in March 2007. Well, it was a speaker's stand for me, but a singer's stand for Marcus.

He is a gentleman, a great singer and a proud conservative American. He has just released a video in honor of the thousands of Americans who attended Tea Parties this spring to protest our government run amok. Hopefully, it will become the official Tea Party anthem as the government plans to spend more money it (we) doesn't have.

Please take a few minutes to listen.

Also,please remember the Move America Forward Troopathon slated for this Thursday. You can read all about it at

Our troops, those who have been victorious in Iraq, and those who are facing stiff challenges from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, are no longer the focus of media attention. But just because the media's agenda doesn't include support for our warriors, that does not mean they are safe and out of harm's way.

Please click on the banner at the top of this page and send a care package to our troops. They will be grateful, and you will continue to live in a free country.
Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iranians Dying in Tehran; They Need Firearms, Three Bullets Each, and Guerrilla Warfare Training

"It's a fine line to walk. We don't want to appear to be meddling."

That Caspar Milquetoast refrain was uttered and re-uttered by the Obama Administration this weekend as Iranian's who are desperate for freedom and willing to put their lives on the line for it, are dying in the streets in Tehran.

While protest leaders are defying authority and begging President Barack Obama to actually support their cause rather than to simply acknowledge it, he first remained silent and then gave such a bland response that I can't even tell you what it means. "Govern through consent, not coercion," was our Chosen One's primary message to Iranian authorities.

What? Explain that will you Mr. President.

Meanwhile the Iranian secret police and plainclothes "militia" known as the Basij (sounds like Ba Siege) are shooting, stabbing, beating, and torturing Iranians. (Real torture, not candy-assed water boarding or making people 'uncomfortable'.)

They are flying over in helicopters and dousing demonstrators with caustic fluids, killing people right on the streets in broad daylight, and dragging others off, presumably to torture chambers from which it is unlikely that that they will ever emerge.

What the hell is wrong with America? We, who are supposedly the beacon of hope and freedom throughout the world are too timid to say who we are and why we have principles and beliefs? This is our government? These people are our spokesmen?

Not mine they aren't!

The Supreme Leader in Iran, whose name is never supposed to be spoken, demanded that everyone shut up and go home after people began protesting last week's bogus election. It was bogus from day one, in that the Supreme Leader (doesn't that remind you of Boris and Natasha's Fearless Leader in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon?) decided who would be on the ballot.

Guess who wouldn't be? That's right. Anyone who would upset the status quo. (The whole scenario is eerily like the elections in the US last year.)

Nonetheless, after the government was blatant in deciding who would win, the people rose up and took to the streets. Whereupon Supreme Leader issued the shut up and go home - or else - directive. In response, young Iranians are chanting "Death" in his name! In a police state that takes guts!

The death toll is in the dozens, the injuries in the hundreds and Tehran is now experiencing its own Tiananmen Square where Chinese Communists, who have been very supportive of the Iranian police state, shot and killed similar pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989.

Back then despite the Chinese government shutting down outside news sources, reports claimed that 2,500 people were dead and 7,000 - 10,000 people were wounded when the Chinese tanks rolled in to shut the protests down. The violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protest caused widespread international condemnation of the communist Chinese government.

Big Deal. What the hell is international condemnation? In what way has the Chinese government suffered from INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION? It hasn't. China owns more of the United States today than just about anyone else, and every country in the world kisses its ass.

Unfortunately, without a major shift in tactics the protesters in Iran will suffer the same fate as their Chinese brethren, for the same reason - the government has the guns, the people do not.

Repressive governments hate an armed populace. In Iran the populace has long been disarmed and those who are courageously taking to the streets are paying for it. They are throwing rocks, which makes for good television, but won't produce lasting results.

If this is revolution there are several direct actions that must be taken. First, the fighters must deploy as a guerrilla army, not as roving, disjointed bands of dissatisfied youth. They must unite, with a common goal and purpose.

They must win and maintain the support of the general population. They must arm themselves if they are going to have any chance whatsoever of defeating the secret police and basij.

Reports over the weekend said 250,000 demonstrators had gathered at one point in Tehran, but that the authorities had fielded a half-million secret police and militia members, or roughly two for each protester.

If the pro-democracy forces want to gain parity on the battlefield, then they each must have be armed, and they each need at least three bullets - two of which they must use against the government forces. Each must shoot two secret police or militia members and each must be prepared to die to accomplish this.

I am not advocating the death of municipal or local police forces who may well sympathize with the demonstrators. But I am saying that if this movement has any chance of going beyond street protests to an organized resistance capable of overthrowing a repressive regime, it must be armed, it must wage war, and its initial objective should be the elimination of the secret police and militias.

Why three bullets? Because many will be killed, many more will be wounded and among that number many will be captured, either while fighting or dragged out of their homes in the dark of night. It will happen. Count on it. When it does, those who hold out hope for survival will be tortured to a degree and with a methodology that goes far, far beyond what has been seen thus far on the streets.

The captured will tell all they know; they will reveal names, tactics, locations, everything. This is not a slap at their character, this is simply acknowledgement of the effectiveness of the tactics that will be used against them. The level of pain they will experience is beyond the ability of most people to even comprehend and in the end, when they are of no more value, they will die.

Under such circumstances, it is far better to keep one bullet for yourself.

Nonetheless, if the Iranian demonstrators can organize into an effective guerrilla army, their next job will be to gain the support of the Iranian armed forces. It is reasonable to expect that there are disaffected members of the military. The armed forces are a composite of the country, and most of the real whackos are already in the secret police and the basij.

No grassroots, groundswell, guerrilla movement can dominate without weapons, support of the populace, and the eventual support - or deterioration - of the conventional forces.

But first, the people on the streets need firearms. They need to organize and become effective.

Most of all they need to understand one basic fact about America's government. It no more represents the American people than the Supreme Leader represents the average Iranian.

The American government will sit on the fence, because it is peopled by wishy-washy, egotistical, self-absorbed invertebrates who will not declare their intentions until they know for a fact that they won't be on the losing side. The American government is useless.

But the American people are with the demonstrators. Count on support from America's populace, but don't count on the government. All you have to do is look at what the US Congress did to the South Vietnamese through the Case-Church Resolution in 1973. Millions died as a result.

Tap into support from the people, and keep a wary eye on the American government. If the protesters take these actions there is hope for success. But if the demonstrators stay scattered and chaotic, they will go the way of the protesters in China two decades ago and the Iranian government will do what the Chinese communists did.

Thousands disappeared, their supporters and sympathizers went with them, the ruling party was purged, and in the end, nothing changed. Change will take hard thinking and hard fighting.

It will be difficult, seemingly impossible at times, but it is within reach, if those who chant for change and chant for democracy, are willing to take the risks to obtain it.
Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Troopathon" June 25 - Time To Show You Mean What You Say

Last year at this time I had the privilege of participating in the first of what has become an annual Internet "Troopathon" the purpose of which is to generate support for our troops who are fighting for our freedom while Congress dithers.

A year ago we were still dealing with Congressional Democrats who were calling our troops cold-blooded murderers and refusing to acknowledge that the offensive in Iraq called The Surge was paying huge dividends and our forces were on the verge of victory.

A year later, our guys have won so the media and the Congressional lemmings who bad mouthed them last year are ignoring them this year. So it is time to do another Internet "Troopathon."

The star-studded cast will be hosted by Melanie Morgan and Andrew Breitbart, with appearances by Michelle Malkin, Jon Voight, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Dick Cheney, George H. W. Bush, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Kelsey Grammer and many others. Oh yeah, me too. I'll update the when and what time portions as we get closer to the date.

The troopathon website is Pretty easy to remember.

If you would please participate you can help send care packages to our troops overseas by going here:
This will enable you to select an appropriate package of goods to send overseas to armed forces personnel who I can guarantee will appreciate the thought. And, your donation is TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

Take all the politics out of this, take away the media that won't say a single good thing about our troops, and consider for a moment how those troops feel, thousands of miles from home, in danger much of the time, doing a job that their critics neither understand nor appreciate - and usually don't have the guts to do themselves.

Any form of positive notice that they are not alone, and not forgotten, goes a long, long way and it doesn't take much of an effort on our part to help out. And it is TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

We have won in Iraq. Let me repeat that. We have WON IN IRAQ!!!

We now are at the onset of troop reductions in that country and a redeployment to Afghanistan. Again, I don't want to hear politics, I just want to support our military and I am asking everyone who reads this blog to help out too.

Remember, all you have to do is go to this site
and place an order.

Now that we have won in Iraq, let's go for broke and work for victory in Afghanistan too! And let's support the troops while we're at it. Remember, Troopathon, June 25.
Monday, June 15, 2009

Letterman: Irrelevant, Old Bald Purveyor of Porn? Or Jesus Christ? Or Justa Creep?

By now you've probably heard of how David Letterman, the guy who works the graveyard shift pushing porn on CBS television, made a lascivious remark about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's 14-year-old daughter.

To recap, Letterman remarked during his nightly rant that the young woman, who was attending a New York Yankees game with her mom, got pregnant during the 7th inning by a Yankees baseball player.

Hah, Hah, Hah. Boy that is a knee slapper!

Stop, stop please I can't stand any more. My sides hurt from laughing so much. Oh, man, that Letterman is just too much!

Actually, I haven't watched Letterman in at least two decades now, because I have what I believe to be a somewhat sophisticated sense of humor and I haven't laughed at what he considers comedy since the 5th grade. I also have an aversion to laughing at others instead of funny situations.

Letterman ceased to be relevant years ago, and the last I saw of him he was doing his best to convince the tourists and groupies who come to his show that he still represents all the best of Manhattan Island.

Maybe he does, but that doesn't say much about Manhattan does it? I thought the street-walking prostitutes and seedy porn shops were pushed out of Times Square back in Rudy Giuliani's administration. Apparently they have seeped back in and infiltrated the entertainment "houses" as well.

Apparently this so called "joke" was supposed to be told to a group of hairy knuckled Neanderthals in the men's room while commercials were playing, but instead, reading from a teleprompter because he has no mind or abilities of his own, Letterman told it to his vast and ever increasing audience of ignoramuses and dolts.

Mrs. Palin, to her credit, immediately slammed Letterman for being lewd, crude and stupid and demanded an apology for her daughter and all young women, based on her belief that people should not be making light of statutory rape. Letterman responded that he wasn't talking about Mrs. Palin's 14-year-old daughter, he was talking about her 18-year-old daughter - who wasn't at the game.

Oh, I get it now. That makes it all better! Right? Let's demoralize and marginalize older teen girls rather than younger teen girls because they should have at least a year or two of innocence before they find out on their own that the world is full of scum like Letterman.

(FYI to my readers: Outraged non-fans are planning a protest organized by New York State Assemblyman Brian Kolb, attorney Gwendolyn Lindsay-Jackson, and radio talk show host John Ziegler. The Fire David Letterman rally will take place on Tuesday, June 16 at the Ed Sullivan Theater at 4:30 p.m., an hour before the taping of Letterman's show.)

But let's not stop with the jerk who hosts this late-night porn fest. How about his audience of lemmings and myopes who laughed along with him?

Based on the soundtrack of the host's ever so scintillating diatribe, his filthy commentary evoked peels of laughter in the studio. It seems his fans laugh because they don't have the intelligence or the strength of character to at least NOT laugh, much less to stand up and walk out on an imbecile who would hold up young girls - or females of any age - as objects of sexual ridicule and derision.

To some of these fawning, mindless enablers, virtually anything Letterman says or does is fine with them. This is especially true if he is savaging a political figure he doesn't like, such as John McCain who snubbed him during last year's campaign or Mrs. Palin, who is one of his favorite targets. To his most rabid fans, Letterman is a latter-day Jesus Christ, but instead of preaching love and human harmony, he preaches hatred and divisiveness.

In truth, Letterman is far more symbolic of a hate-filled rapper who glorifies drugs, violence and abuse of the female gender than of anything that would leave a positive imprint on humanity. He should be renamed Justa Creep and his show should be put into digital syndication and run at 2:30 a.m. Monday's in rural Siberia. Unfortunately, it is obvious that CBS agrees with him, based on a lack of follow through from the network that employs him.

Oddly enough, it is apparent that he still would retain some of his current viewers even if CBS took my suggestion. To rephrase a favorite line of mine, based on the group-think mentality that would encourage people to support an idiot like Letterman making jokes of this nature, his entire studio audience probably couldn't raise a double-digit IQ if they stood on each other's shoulders.

But I do see some marketing possibilities here. After all, some commentators were saying that Letterman made this perverted comment so he could get some publicity because he is afraid that with Conan O'Brien taking over from Jay Leno, who is moving to a prime time gig, Letterman's ratings will fall to the younger O'Brien.

Well, what the heck, let's go with the flow. Let's get some Letterman T-shirts out there to sell to the pervs waiting to get in to see which minority group will be the object of his next off-color "jokes."

We could start with a silhouette of a male holding his crotch with the slogan "Letterman's Lechers" underneath; or unisex upper body silhouettes with a question mark inside the head where the eyes, nose and mouth would normally appear, over the slogan "Dave's Dimwits," or "Dave's Dupes," or "Dave's Dolts," or "Dave's Dipsticks."

As you can see the possibilities are endless.

Among all the outrage generated by Letterman's intemperate remarks, there were some who said Mrs. Palin shouldn't have responded at all, instead letting others speak for her. Among these was one of my favorite commentators, Charles Krauthammer, who said that her responses only served to meet Letterman's ends - that being increased publicity for his fading star.

I disagree on that point. At a seminar I once attended on strategies for political campaigning an instructor noted that you can rent the biggest billboard at the busiest intersection in your district, but if people think your candidate is a fool, the billboard will simply remind them of this fact every day. The real challenge the instructor said, is to convince voters that your candidate is not a fool.

I believe Letterman is way beyond that point. I think he stooped to such a despicable level because he is crass, crude, bitter, getting older looking every day, and has been working far too long to hide his baldness. He has ceased to be relevant and must stoop to cheap publicity stunts at the expense of the weak and vulnerable to convince himself and his fan base that he still matters.

On this issue, Mrs. Palin was correct in engaging Letterman. Every time she speaks, or Barbara Walters speaks, or Elizabeth Hasselbeck speaks, it just reminds us that the man is a fool, and for him, there is no hope for rehabilitation.
Monday, June 08, 2009

Standing By Ella, Conclusion; Competency Rules; Albany's Good Old Judicial Bully Boys; Let's Dance!

In upstate New York where I was raised in the 1960s, men were supposed to be men. There were many facets of our code of conduct, but there was one inviolate rule: You never, ever picked on or hit a girl.

Which brings me to the Granny Snatching case of Nancy Patrick vs. her mother - and my mother - M. Ella Winter, filed on Jan. 20, 2009 in New York Supreme Court in Albany. My sister falsely claimed that our mother, a 92-year-old widow who had moved to my home in Connecticut on Dec. 22, 2008, had Alzheimer's disease, and was totally incompetent. (Please see my two previous columns for background.)

The court petition asked that my sister be named Guardian with complete control over Mom's life, including placing her in the Hawthorne Ridge Alzheimer's facility in East Greenbush, and placing all of Mom's money in an account in my sister's name.

My sister never produced a shred of proof, yet a series of judges and lawyers still pushed the case through the Albany judicial system, ultimately costing my mother tens of thousands of dollars, but accomplishing nothing. A key point in the lawsuit was the claim that mom was so far gone that she should not come to court because she could not meaningfully contribute to the case.

That was all proved to be false, but only after the judges and lawyers piled on, running up the bill on a frail 92-year-old widow. So what has happened to the concept of manhood in Albany? Is it defunct?

Based on the mendacity posing as my sister's lawsuit, the instant Mom walked into the Albany Supreme Court on March 27, shortly after 10 a.m., my sister lost the case. Because the best evidence that Mom was competent was Mom herself, and when she got to Albany that day she was really anxious to kick somebody's rear end all the way across the Hudson River.

Yet, the case never should have gotten to that point. In fact, the case should have been thrown out the instant my sister's lawyer, Richard Rowlands of the Albany law firm Girvin & Ferlazzo, brought it to court. The reason I say that has much to do with the point of yesterday's column - that an allegedly incompetent person is presumed under the law to be competent until proven otherwise.

Every other sentence in the suit claims my mother was an Alleged Incompetent Person - AIP. Aside from the fact that Mom referred to the acronym as APE when she read the allegations against her - as in "So they're calling me an ape now?" - the key word here is ALLEGED. If we think about it, I'm sure you'll agree that a criminal defendant gets more consideration than my mother did.

Americans are constitutionally guaranteed an assumption of innocence in any legal matter until proven guilty - or in this case, assumed competent until proven incompetent.

That assumption should have instantly translated to a ruling that the New York courts lacked jurisdiction, because my mother formally and permanently changed her address to her new home on Dec. 29, 2008, a month before my sister sued her. As a resident of Connecticut, the New York courts had no jurisdiction and the case should have gone away right on the spot.

Instead, Supreme Court Judge Eugene P. "Gus" Devine signed off on the petition, allowed it to enter the system, and even appointed another lawyer, Chad Balzer, as an "evaluator," to keep an eye on it - for a price. But even though the petition ran to nearly 40 pages and was wonderfully chock full of legalese and horror stories, there was no supporting evidence, like doctor or hospital reports, to bolster the claim of incompetency.

Is the Albany judiciary just sloppy, or am I missing something? Is this what happens to the kids who get their lunch money stolen on the playground? They grow up to be judicial bullies who kick girls?

Judge john Egan, who presided over the case from January to the very end, ruled against Mom's lawyer at every step, escalating the costs every single time, ramping up the payable hours and causing my mother untold heartache. Yet in the end she prevailed! What was it with those guys?

They wouldn't even admit to it when Mom arrived in court and blew my sister's case out of the water just by showing up. They should have packed their briefcases, conceded defeat and gone to lunch. Instead, they forced the matter to a day-long trial that had at most 20 minutes of necessary testimony - from Mom to Judge Egan.

When Mom walked into the courtroom she was swarmed by family members, virtually all of whom would soon be testifying against her, but at the moment were trying to suck up to her and put on a show for the judge. But she was having none of that. "I'm angry with you," she told her son, daughter, granddaughter and everyone else within earshot.

"But why?" they mewled.

"Because we're here, going through this," Mom retorted.

"Go give Mom a hug," my sister instructed her daughter, "She's not herself." Seriously, she actually said that.

After the fake hugs and expressions of concern, my sister, brother, niece, brother-in-law and some lady from Albany Medical Center who wasn't a doctor, all took the stand and tried to convince Judge Egan to sentence my mother to life confinement in an Alzheimer's facility.

Mom had arisen at 5 a.m. that day, eaten breakfast at 6, and prepared for the journey from Connecticut to Albany. We left Connecticut at 7:30 and drove through rush hour traffic to get to Albany by 10 a.m. It would be a long day before we could leave.

Between Jan. 24 when we were served, and March 27 when we went to trial, my sister tried to paint a picture of herself as a doting daughter by calling our house every single day and leaving a message on my voice mail - even though some of them were outright hostile and others just stupid. This, despite the fact that Mom, my brother-in-law, and other relatives said my mother and sister hadn't been getting along for years.

"Like oil and water," was one description of their relationship. "Can't be in the same room together," was another.

Nonetheless, when my sister sued us and claimed Mom was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's we took Mom to her doctor for a mental acuity screening. It would have been the first step in a long series if other tests had been necessary, but Mom scored so high that the doctor wrote a formal letter to Judge Egan advising him of her findings and noting that Mom was perfectly capable of handing her own affairs.

Judge Egan dismissed it with a wave of his hand.

But the great thing was the message from my sister after she heard Mom had gone for mental screening and passed big time. Not congratulations, or anything like it. Instead, her message was "I am soooo sorry for the ordeal THEY are putting you through."

Can you believe that? Talk about being in denial. Mom finally had solid evidence of her competence and her doting daughter says it was an ordeal! Nice.

First up to testify was the woman from Albany Medical Center who was not a doctor and could neither diagnose nor recommend treatment for anything, but she worked with families of Alzheimer's patients so she knew a lot about that. She didn't know a lot about my mother though because she never examined her. In fact, she had never met my mother!

Jack Casey, Mom's lawyer, worked hard to get the testimony thrown out for irrelevance, but Judge Egan let her go on for nearly an hour and despite Jack's best efforts kept everything in the record including the kitchen sink.

Jack did score a major victory though when he produced the discharge form from Albany Medical Center - even though that facility attempted to keep the records from us for nearly three months - showing that Mom had been treated for hypokalemia - low potassium, which can cause disorientation, confusion, memory loss, etc. He also got the woman to admit that there are 65 different medical conditions that can cause disorientation and confusion, and Alzheimer's is only one of them.

Then it was a truly forgettable three hours of testimony from my sister Nancy, brother Wilson, aka Skeeter, and niece Courtney Patrick, all of whom put forth their best efforts to convince Judge Egan that Mom would be happy only in an Alzheimer's ward. Except for the part where my sister said she wasn't really going to go that far, she just wanted Mom in assisted living - and all of Mom's money in her name. Forget what was in the court petition about Alzheimer's and all, my sister testified, "You just have to say that."

Really? And I guess you just have to allege forgery and unlawful restraint too. Did the New York Legislature pass a law saying all court cases from here on have to include a certain number of lies to make for interesting reading?

Oh, and I loved the part where my sister testified through fake sobs that "My ... mother ... is ... my ... best ... friend." Which must have made her husband and daughter who were sitting right there feel absolutely wonderful. I guess I don't need to say "with friends like my sister, who needs ..."

Finally, at 2 p.m. having been up since 5 a.m., having missed her midday nap, (hey she is 92 remember) and having not eaten since 6 a.m., it was Mom's turn. She demolished them. She easily showed she knows who she is, and were she was, and what was going on, and she beat back every attempt by my sister's lawyer to trip her up.

Jack Casey and I were hard pressed to keep from laughing outright when Mom kept hitting them out of the park. My favorite exchange was: Atty. Rowlands - "Did you know that we had offered to have an independent non-family member review your finances monthly?"

Mom - Looking Rowlands dead in the eye "Now why would I agree to a thing like that?"

By 4 p.m. each side rested and Judge Egan said he was going to retire to think it over. Mom had not eaten in nearly 10 hours, and was starving. I suggested that my wife, daughter and our friend who had come with us take Mom to a restaurant. I would wait for the judge's decision.

Jack said he would give me a ride to meet them once it was over. Nice idea, but 15 minutes later the judge came back to the courtroom and upon finding that Mom had left, made me call my friend on his cell phone and tell them to come back! No food for Mom. The empathetic judge came first.

Back they came, and down we sat while the judge went on about what he couldn't do to make everything all nice and touchy-feely again, and then in an almost anti-climatic manner, announced that Mom had shown she was fully competent, and the case was completely dismissed.

By now Mom was really, really starving, going on nearly 12 hours since she had last eaten, and I tried to get her out of the courthouse as quickly as possible so we could get her some food. But Judge "Empathy" Egan again intervened, telling me something about "family reconciliation" starting right there in his courtroom and not to be in such a hurry.

So Mom stood stiffly as her antagonists tried to make believe it hadn't all happened and we finally got her out and on the road by 5:30. It was 6 p.m. before she actually got some food!

A couple of weeks later, in what had by then become a rare phone message, my sister left a message on my voice mail bragging about the judge refusing to let a 92-year-old widow have a bite to eat. "You tried to take Mom to LUNCH," she hissed. "But the Judge wasn't having any of THAT!"

I guess denying food to an elderly woman is what passes for judicial victories in the Albany Supreme Court system these days. I can't imagine what would have happened if we had lost. Mom probably would have been chained in a dungeon in the courthouse basement and fed only bread and water! Hip, hip hurray for granny bashing.

I'd like to say that it was over then but it wasn't. The court evaluator's bill, which I expected to come in around $2,000 or maybe even $2,500 actually was nearly $9,000! And true to form, my sister, who had wanted Mom to pay all the legal fees, but lost that option when the judge dismissed the case, wanted Mom to pay Chad Balzer's bill in its entirety too.

Back to the judge, more arguments, more time, more money. In the end, Balzer came down to $6,500 and Mom, wanting this over with once and for all, agreed to split it. In an attempt at some form of reconciliation she asked her son, Wilson Winter III, the big time horse breeder from Ocala, Florida to kick in one third to ease the burden on her.

He refused. I won't tell you what his message was, this is a family column after all.

The really odd thing is that the judge never accepted the evaluator's recommendation. He had come to our house on the Sunday before the trial, interrogated Mom for three hours and, like everyone else, found her to be competent.

But that didn't convince the judge to rule that Mom shouldn't have to go through the real ordeal - a day-long trial at which two thirds of her family were trying to force her into an Alzheimer's facility when she was perfectly happy right where she was. The judge said he read the evaluator's report, but that was it.

Mom didn't hire the evaluator, and we only agreed to see him in Connecticut because we were threatened with a court order if we didn't. We had offered numerous times to drive to Albany so Judge Egan and/or the evaluator could meet with Mom there - but they refused to guarantee safe passage. How scary is that?

So now I guess it is over. But last night Mom sat at the kitchen table with a wistful, sad look on her face. "I worked so hard ever since your father died to save that money so I would be secure," she said. "But they ran through it all in only three months. And it was my own daughter and son who did it. Why did they do that?"

I know I am supposed to be a communicator, but I had no answer for her. I don't know why either.

All I could say was that the last time we left Albany, headed east on I-90, never to return, I couldn't even see the Albany County courthouse in the rear view mirror. And that's a good thing.


Whatever happened in the past, whatever comes next, we still won this one!

Let's join Matt and dance! For us this is a victory dance! Can you imagine Mom getting in on this? She'd love to!
Sunday, June 07, 2009

Standing By Ella Part II: Presumption of Competency - Except in New York; Is Sotomayor's "Empathy" Appropriate on the Supreme Court?

Among the basic rights guaranteed to American citizens from centuries of common law going back to the Magna Carta, and enumerated in the United States Constitution, is presumption of innocence of any crime until guilt is proven. This applies in civil as well as in criminal matters.

Also, a person who is alleged to be mentally incompetent is considered to be competent under the law until compelling evidence - including medical and psychological evidence - is presented showing the opposite to be true.

Under our laws, celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Rush Limbaugh are spared attacks by people who could attempt to access their vast fortunes, or stifle their public voices, simply by filing a court petition alleging incompetence. Such actions could require perfectly competent people to spend months or even years fighting frivolous lawsuits.

Well, that's how it works if you are rich and famous.

But if you are a 92-year-old widow named Ella Winter from Menands, New York, who recently moved to Connecticut to spend the rest of your days living with your son and his family, the law may well be interpreted any way the court sees fit. This is not opinion, but an observable fact, based on actual events.

The law as many in the judiciary say it is supposed to be interpreted was NOT applied that way in the recent case of Nancy Patrick vs. M. Ella Winter filed in Albany Supreme Court January 20, 2009. (Please refer to my columns from Dec. 24, 2008, and June 6, 2009 for background.)

After Ella Winter - Mom - moved to Connecticut, to my home, and after she rescinded Power of Attorney from her daughter Nancy, she initiated several actions to secure her income. She moved her checking account from her bank in New York to her new bank in Connecticut, and she contacted the Social Security and government pension offices to have her monthly checks sent to her new address.

We had already been working to reconstruct Mom's medical history after her move to Connecticut. Mom has glaucoma so we set up appointment with an eye doctor, who immediately referred us to a glaucoma specialist and a retina specialist; we arranged for her to have a complete physical; and we scheduled a dental appointment.

We saw this as a natural and normal series of events, that any caregiver for an elderly person would do as a matter of course. We also sent form letters to Mom's doctors in New York asking that they provide us with duplicate sets of her records so her new doctors could review her history and find out exactly what had put Mom into Albany Medical Center in mid-December with an input diagnosis of Altered Mental Status.

Ella formally changed her address from New York to Connecticut on December 29, 2008, and contacted virtually every entity she had done business with in New York, alerting them to her permanent change of address. Ella Winter was, by the week after Christmas, 2008, in every way and form a resident of Connecticut.

Back in Menands, my sister and her family had begun emptying Ella's old apartment on Dec. 23, 2008, the day after Ella arrived in Connecticut, and had notified the apartment management and the utilities that Mom had permanently moved.

When my sister and brother-in-law brought Mom to my house on Dec. 22, 2008, I asked again about her diagnosis from the hospital and was told again that she had suffered from dehydration, fever and a high white blood cell count. There was no mention of any long term mental issues, and certainly no comment along the lines of "By the way, Mom has Alzheimer's, you may want to keep an eye on her."

My brother Wilson was scheduled to bring more of Mom's belongings to Connecticut on December 30, 2008, and the day before his trip I sent an email to my brother-in-law asking that they include Mom's checkbook. Mom was very upset about not having control over her own finances and brought the subject up several times a day. I figured the easiest way to resolve the issue was to simply have my sister give the checkbook back to Mom, and if necessary I could monitor her expenditures to make sure there were no overdrafts.

The response to my email was immediate and nasty. My sister emailed me back stating, among many other things, "As for the checkbook, the only way Mom will get a checkbook is to open an account at your bank in Hebron. I have been taking care of Mom's checkbook for the last four years, because she was incapable of balancing it. I have power of attorney and all of her checks have my name on them along with hers, so that I was able to pay her bills. I ... will send monthly the amount she feel (sic) she would like to live on as well as the amount you feel that it is costing you for her to live there."

When I showed that email to Mom, she was not a happy camper. The records from Albany Medical Center, which we would not receive for nearly four months, despite repeated requests and legal intervention, ultimately showed that Mom was treated only for an infection and hypokalemia. That is a potassium deficiency that can result in palpitations, muscle cramping, paralysis, nausea, abdominal cramping, delirium or hallucinations, and depression. The good news is that it can be corrected with adjustments to the diet, as has occurred with Ella.

There were a number of other issues with the email, specifically that Mom's checks did NOT have my sister's name on them, Mom was not suffering from dementia, and my sister's signature only appeared on a couple of checks written during the month of December when Mom was hospitalized. Mom took umbrage at the claim that my sister had been handling her finances for years because Mom supposedly couldn't do it herself.

We had already found that Mom's memory and her ability to do basic math were intact. Nonetheless, because of her glaucoma, Mom had difficulty balancing her checkbook because she couldn't see the checkbook, not because of any failure of her mathematical skills.

My wife resolved that problem by enlarging Mom's monthly bank statements on our copying machine, as well as the ledger pages from Mom's new checkbook. Simple process. Could have been done anywhere.

The hostility encountered when I tried to help Mom get her checkbook back, and the outrageous comments from my sister merely served to steel Mom's determination to retake control of her finances. When my brother arrived on the 30th without the checkbook, and my sister refused to send it to her a final time on January 1, Mom was ready to assert herself and she did.

The outcry from my sister and brother had many facets, but the one that caught my attention was something I learned years ago from my contact with police and prosecutors when I was a criminal justice reporter. The response was far out of proportion to the alleged injustice.

Mom had moved to Connecticut, she had wanted her finances near her home, and she wanted control over them. We had eliminated caffeine from Mom's diet after noontime, immediately improving her sleep habits and with a more balanced diet she was soon her normal self. When she had a few minutes to look around and assess her new situation, Mom took natural and normal steps to move her business affairs to her new address.

But when Mom notified my sister that she had rescinded Power of Attorney, the uproar was completely out of proportion. After a screeching incident, in which I finally hung up on my sister, my brother called and he too launched into invective and bombast.

He obviously had been coached by my sister, but it was the final comment to Mom that left an impression. "This isn't over." When Mom asked what he meant by that, my brother, who lives in Ocala, Florida on his horse farm, and had been trying unsuccessfully to institutionalize Mom for over three years, would not elaborate, but he did repeat the threat - "This isn't over."

In the following weeks the haranguing continued with one major obstacle immediately arising. My sister, in a voice mail that thanks to modern technology still resides in my Internet Provider's files, as well as my own computer files and several backup disks, declared that "not one stick" of furniture would be moved out of my mother's old apartment by anyone in New York and we would thus be stuck with the monthly rental of nearly $1,000.

She also declared that Mom could live on $40 per week! That is not a misprint. My sister said Mom could live on $40 per week, which is even more astounding when you consider that a weekly hair appointment is considered an absolute necessity by my mother, and it costs $25. Meaning Mom could live on $15 per week!

You really have to wonder what perpendicular universe a person lives in who actually believes anyone can exist on $15 per week.

I resolved the apartment issue by assembling a crew of my friends and family, five of us total, to finish storing Mom's belongings. What had taken the New York side of the family weeks, with only one room out of five completed, took us exactly two-and-a-half hours to complete on January 23rd.

However, unbeknownst to us, but knownst to the New Yorkers, was that a petition to undo all that Mom had accomplished in the previous weeks already had been filed in New York Supreme Court in Albany.

On Saturday evening, January 24th, just as we were sitting down to dinner, a process server appeared at my door in Connecticut with two sets of a lawsuit, one for me and one for Mom. He even required that Mom get up from the dinner table and appear to him personally so he could identify her and serve her personally.

That was lousy enough, but here is where it really sucks. First, the allegations were ridiculous. They claimed that: Mom suffered from and had been treated for dementia and Alzheimer's; that I was holding Mom at my house against her will; that Mom hadn't really signed the Power of Attorney forms, even though she had told this to my sister directly, but that I had forged them; and that Mom's mental state had deteriorated to such a low point that Mom shouldn't come to court to assist in her defense because she wouldn't be able to understand the proceedings.

The petition asked that Mom be declared incompetent and my sister be named as her guardian with total control over every facet of her life. My sister also wanted to "marshal" my mother's assets, and put them all in a bank account in my sister's name - and only my sister's name. They wanted Mom placed in an Alzheimer's facility, specifically Hawthorne Ridge in East Greenbush, New York.

Here is where it really goes downhill. A Supreme Court judge accepted the lawsuit even though it did not contain one shred of medical evidence to support its outrageous claims. Then, the lawyer who field the suit took a copy to Key Bank in Menands, New York where my mother had several accounts, and the bank froze all of her assets based on a false claim of incompetency - without a court order. That was January 20. Mom wouldn't see her money again until mid-April

We hired a lawyer, John "Jack" Casey of Troy, New York, who immediately filed a motion to dismiss the petition on jurisdictional grounds. Mom had long since been a permanent resident of Connecticut by the time the petition was filed, he noted, and the New York courts had no business hearing the case.

We amassed several affidavits, including one from Mom, her Connecticut lawyer, the witness to her Power of Attorney changes, and a letter from her doctor in Connecticut who had performed a mental acuity screening after the suit was filed. Out of a possible score of 30, with 21 indicating onset of mild dementia, Mom scored 28, showing that she was well in command of her faculties.

But in early February, Albany Supreme Court judge John Egan ruled against Mom, claiming that even if everyone else thought she was competent, he hadn't seen her, so therefore he couldn't make that determination. The report I received from the conference where that ruling was decided was that Judge Egan claimed he was just looking out for my mother.

Think about that while you watch the debate in Washington over Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the US Supreme Court. Supposedly she will make her rulings based on "empathy" rather than a strict reading of the law.

Now go back to what Judge Egan did in New York Supreme Court. By law he was supposed to consider Mom competent, therefore when she changed her address in late December she knew what she was doing and she was no longer a resident of New York, and thus not subject to his rule.

But by deciding that he wanted to see for himself whether Mom was competent, Egan not only went outside the letter and spirit of the law, he put his ego in charge of the case. That one ruling would cost Mom tens of thousands of dollars in the next four months. Worse, it scared the hell out of her.

Two nights after I told Mom that the judge had rejected her jurisdictional claims and was forcing the case to go forward, we found her awake in the middle of the night, sitting up in her room with all the lights on.

She was terrified that Egan's ruling would result in thugs hired by my sister coming for her from New York, and dragging her back to an Alzheimer's ward. We tried our best to make her understand that the court couldn't do that, but Mom had only been to court once in her entire 92 years - to watch an attorney friend try a case. And she had been called one time for jury duty but was not selected. That was it.

She didn't understand legal nuances or the various avenues open to her. She only understood that a judge who should have willingly and with complete confidence in his abilities ruled that he did not have jurisdiction in her case, was ruling in favor of her daughter who was trying desperately to force Mom into an Alzheimer's ward. That ruling terrified her.

I don't care what reason was behind Judge Egan's decision. I don't care if he thought he absolutely was doing the best thing for my mother, rather than acting out of vanity or some other equally noxious reason. The result was the same, and in any case, not what the law intended.

He threw out a half-dozen affidavits from solid citizens including two lawyers, and a doctor, none of whom had any reason to lie or put their careers in jeopardy. He threw out Mom's affidavit too, and he terrified her by doing so. In the end, he found that what everyone else was saying was true, and that the allegations in my sister's lawsuit were baseless, "frivolous and vexatious" as Jack Casey put it.

But by then it cost her, and it cost her terribly. And in the long run I can't help but believe that it will cost the Albany court system too. Because as a result of Egan's actions, followed up by support from the Appellate Court, the credibility of that court system is shot. Its credibility no longer exists and the public can no longer look at any judge associated with this case with full expectations of lawful, impartial judgments.

I am well acquainted with the phrase "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." But I believe another applies equally well in this case. "What goes around comes around."

And I hope that sooner rather than later, every one of these "empathetic" New York judges who caused my mother so much pain, terror and most of her life savings, experience what she just went through, except a hundred-fold worse.

I hope they have sleepless nights with the lights on and fear in their eyes. I hope they all get inoperable ulcers that cause them unimaginable pain. And I hope it never gets any better for them.

Bitter? Not really. Just outraged.

Egos and empathy have no place in such matters. The case of Nancy Patrick versus her mother should show that clearly. But in New York Supreme Court in Albany, empathy and ego certainly appeared to be the driving factors in that case and it is certainly debatable that the rule of law was either ignored, or never learned, on the bench in that court.

Tomorrow: Standing by Ella, Part III. Competency Wins! Evaluate This!
Saturday, June 06, 2009

Standing By Ella; Granny Snatching Thwarted - But New York Courts Prey On The Elderly! Part I

For those of you who regularly read this blog column there has been an obvious hiatus - and I have heard from many of you asking what is going on.

"Where are your blogs? Aren't you going to write any more?"

I have answered those who contacted me personally, but now it is time to let the rest of you in on what has transpired over the last six months.

If you go into the archives of this website, back to December 24, 2008, you will see that among my last entries were columns on my family - how my Uncle Bob had died at 104 years old and how my (now) 92-year-old mother (Maude Ella Winter, who goes by Ella, or sometimes M. Ella) moved in with us just before Christmas.

Mom had been hospitalized for several days the previous week, suffering from what I have since learned was severe dehydration, and resultant potassium deficiency. That combination can cause disorientation, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, even death if left unattended. In fact, death from dehydration can come swiftly - in a matter of just a few days.

When I learned that Mom was in the hospital - from my brother-in-law - who told me the cause was high fever, dehydration and high white blood cell count, I also was told that my brother and sister were planning on putting Mom into a nursing home.

I responded immediately that there was no need for that. My wife and I had long since discussed the age and health of our surviving parents - both of our fathers have died - and agreed we would provide a home for our mothers should they ever need it. For exactly two days after Mom moved here that seemed like a workable alternative to the nursing home.

From the standpoint of Mom living here, it still is. In fact, Mom's move literally has been seamless as far as accommodating her in our house and integrating her life into ours. Mom's presence here has been a ton of fun in many ways and quite simply has not been a burden at all. In fact, Mom simply refuses to be a burden. She shares the load willingly, and helps out in numerous ways. However.

You knew there was a "however" coming didn't you?

On Christmas Day, after we had opened the presents and eaten brunch, Mom went looking for her checkbook. She had rebounded amazingly in just two days, due to extensive rest and some dietary changes, and the improvement has continued.

But she couldn't find her checkbook anywhere, not in her pocketbook, not in any of the possessions that my sister and brother-in-law brought with them when they dropped her off two days earlier. (Please see my Dec. 24, 2008 blog entry for background on Mom's move.)

I knew where her checkbook was and I told Mom. My sister had it, and had informed me of this point as she was on the way out the door.

"Mom will be looking for her checkbook," she chirped. "I have it. I have Power of Attorney. If she needs anything, let me know and I'll send some money over." Frankly, that commentary was a bit unsettling and I wondered just how long that arrangement could last.

Mom had permanently moved to my house, there were plans in the works to add an addition to accommodate her, there would be plenty of financial issues arising, and having the source of her income more than a hundred miles away didn't seem workable.

But at that moment I was more concerned with Mom's transition to our house and let the comment go. On Christmas Day I repeated the conversation to Mom, and the response was not encouraging.

Mom talked to my sister later that day and told her she wanted her checkbook back. My sister refused. Mom talked to my sister several more times in the coming week and each time told her she wanted her checkbook back. Each time my sister refused.

On December 28, Mom asked me what it would take to revoke Power of Attorney from my sister. I told her I didn't know, but I do have several lawyer friends who would be happy to help her with any such issues.

The point was, Mom said, "I intended that to be only if I am incapacitated. I'm not in the hospital any longer, and I want my checkbook."

Within a day Mom had her answer. Just sign a form revoking the Power of Attorney designation and send it to any financial institution, credit card company or anyone else you do business with and that will be that.

Mom said she would wait a few days because she wanted my sister to give up the checkbook voluntarily. She may as well have decided to wait until the end of days. Several more conversations, several more refusals.

Finally, on New Years Day, it came to a head. Mom had one last conversation with my sister, a long one, and it didn't go well. After she hung up the phone Mom stood by the end of the couch in the living room, looking down and saying nothing for five minutes or so.

Finally, she looked up at me and said, "Let's do that thing."

"What thing?" I asked. "The Power of Attorney thing," Mom responded.

I called my lawyer friend, who offered two alternatives. We could wait until the next week and take a 40-minute drive to his office, or if we wanted, he could prepare the papers at his home office and bring them over that afternoon. I asked Mom and she said she wanted to do it right away.

Mom later said that even though she is not a rich woman, being removed from access to her assets still affected her. "I felt like I was standing out in a big, cold field full of snow, with no trees, no landmarks, no way to get my bearings," is the way she described it.

It helps to remember that my mother also is a child of the Great Depression. She remembers what happened to people who had no assets back in the 30s. She lived on a farm and her family worked hard and stayed solvent. They even had enough surplus to help others along the way.

But that time in our nation's history left an indelible impression on my mother, and even all these years later, it should not be lightly dismissed. Unfortunately, my siblings dismissed it out of hand.

The lawyer came to our house late on New Year's Day, and talked with Mom for nearly two hours straight. Another friend also came, to witness Mom's signature on the legal documents. He was a soon-to-retire federal law enforcement agent, who has worked for many years as an investigator. He too conversed with Ella.

In addition to revoking my sister's Power of Attorney, Mom had ordered new medical Power of Attorney forms. But she found several issues with the way the medical documents were worded - she wanted it spelled out in no uncertain terms that if she is ever in a coma or similar medical situation she does not want to be kept alive artificially. Mom told the lawyer she wanted the forms revised to her satisfaction before she would sign them.

He said he understood and we agreed he would come back on another day to execute the new medical documents. The only challenge Mom had to the new Power of Attorney form was that she was listed by her full formal name - Maude Ella Winter. It was written that way because I was asked what her full name was a few days earlier, not realizing that it would go on the legal documents that way.

Mom noted that she usually signed her name as Ella Winter or M. Ella Winter, not using her full name. Her attorney explained that since it was still her legal name she could sign the document as it was, and he would make a note to have all future documents list her as M. Ella Winter.

Mom was satisfied with that arrangement and signed the forms revoking Power of Attorney status for my sister. Mom also insisted that she still needed someone to act on her behalf should be ever be hospitalized again, and asked me to accept that designation.

I did, but made the point that to me, the operative word in Power of Attorney is not "Power" but rather "Attorney." I would be there to help her, I assured Mom, but would not be using that designation to attempt to control her life. That arrangement has been working out just fine ever since.

However, it did not go over well when my sister learned of it in New York. In fact, I think Mom's description of my sister's reaction put it best. "Hysterical," Mom said. Mom got yelled at, I got yelled at, I got called a bunch of names, and our home suddenly became a lightning rod for long-distance, electronic abuse, the nature of which is still stunning.

A few months later in court - I'll get to that in the next column - I was asked by my sister's lawyer about my relationship with my siblings.

I told him and the judge flat out that if they had ever had the cajones to try in person what they did over the phone, I could have and would have had them arrested for home invasion. It got that bad. Because what happened next was the most reprehensible, despicable action within a family structure that I have ever witnessed.

My brother and sister teamed up to have my mother declared incompetent, to take all of her assets away from her and put them in a bank account in my sister's name, and have her committed to an Alzheimer's facility against her will!

I kid you not. That is what has been going on since January, and it has taken literally all our time to fight off the scurrilous allegations, the falsehoods, the legal maneuvering, and the ever escalating legal bills.

My so-called family, a designation that will never again be part of my vocabulary when speaking of these people, teamed up against Ella and did everything in their power to store her away in a place that surely would have been the end of her, had they succeeded. It turned her fearful, resentful, and yet, best of all, feisty, combative and anxious to take them all on.

In the worst of times, we all need someone to stand by us. In the case of Nancy Patrick vs. M. Ella Winter filed January, 20, 2009 in New York Supreme Court in Albany, there would eventually be plenty of people standing by Ella Winter.

But in the weeks after she stood up for herself, and declared that even at 92 years old she was not about to let someone else, including her daughter, take control of her life and dictate when and if she could write a check, it seemed that the support landscape was fairly barren. There was just Ella, and the three inhabitants of her new home - my wife, my daughter and me.

In the end we were more than enough to fight off the New Yorkers, including the courts and the lawyers. But Mom was feeling a bit besieged at first. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the lawsuit, the false allegations, the insulting phone calls, the abuse and the neglect.

Tomorrow's post: Presumption of Competency!

In the meantime, take a few minutes to listen to what is swiftly becoming my all time favorite video of one of may all time favorite songs. It sure fits the situation we have been living in for the past several months.


hypoctite sm

Granny Snatching


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Masters of the Art

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