Monday, December 24, 2007

The Eve of Christmas Eve 2007

Last year at this time, I was worrying about my mother, and how to take her out of the hell that was the nursing home where I had placed after a short illness left her confused, disoriented and unable to care for herself.

Mom was 91, and had been doing quite well until she fell in Nov. She developed a pleural effusion, which made her breathing more difficult. Fluid was drained from outside her lungs twice, with relief noted, as far as breathing. The thing that was her undoing, was removing her from her familiar environment, which made her confused. Added to that, was the uncaring attitude of nursing professionals who could not believe (even me, her daughter) that she did not come to the hospital from a nursing home. It is sad to think that nursing professionals could not believe that 91+ women can actually function and perform self-care tasks by themselves. I guess because they only see the ill, they don't realize that there are a whole host of elders out there in the world functioning just perfectly, thank you, that don't end up in a hospital until some minorish illness fells them, and they then need care.

Wake up people! They are elders that do quite well until they are felled by minor illness and that minor illness then leads to their downfall, inability to care for themselves and then death. As a health care professional, I want my fellow nurses to wake up and realize that we need to ask families questions about levels of functioning, and find how we can best help the elder to improve and get back to independence. If we do not, we fail as professionals.

As my mother descended into the hell of inability to care for herself and into confusion, she passed away. With all I knew, and all I tried to do, nothing helped.

I hope others have a better outcome. I hope that Social Workers, Nurses, and discharge personnel will help you, but I am afraid that won't happen.

God bless of all you who take care of your elderly parents at home. We know how hard it is, and how little support there is. Hang in there!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas greetings from the Obama family

Articles of interest

Innocent Icelandic Woman Chained, Held, Tortured by Homeland Security at Airport
link



Paul Krugman Has Housing Bubble News That Will Scare the Crap Out of You
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/#71319


Obama and Me.
by icebergslim
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/21/101348/30/142/424982

Electronic bracelets and criminal checks before evacuation in Texas

Texans seeking to escape the next hurricane or state emergency by evacuation bus will first be submitted to criminal background checks, the state's emergency management director says. link

This is another affront to civil liberties. What's more, once they scan you and tell you which bus to get on, what will they do with you? Minorities one place, elderly another, etc. What a nifty way to disappear people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Volunteers needed on Dec. 21 at Audie Murphy VA Hospital

I am passing out phone cards to veterans on Dec. 21st at Audie Murphy VA. Time will be 2 pm. We will meet at the volunteer center, which is the small building to the right of the main entrance. Contact me if you wish to join in! I did this last year and it was a wonderful experience.

The bad and the ugly... is there any good news out there? Nah

Some random things I found today. The information from Alternet is not complete, I seem to be having great difficulty accessing Alternet at home. Wonder if GVTC is blocking access or if there is another reason? It's the only site I have trouble getting to load.
Any way, these items are just a sampling of the things that are bugging me. It's just tougher and tougher to get our salaries to stretch through the month, and we have even decreased expenses. We don't go out, we don't rent or buy movies, and rarely buy more than groceries. What the hell will retirement be like? I shudder to think.

The American Dream is Alive and Well ... in Finland!
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet.

But new research suggests the United States' much-ballyhooed upward mobility is a myth, and one that's slipping further from reality with each new generation. On average, younger Americans are not doing better than their parents did, it's harder to move up the economic ladder in the United States than it is in a number of other wealthy countries, and a person in today's work force is as likely to experience downward mobility as he or she is to move up.

Moreover, the single greatest predictor of how much an American will earn is how much their parents make. In short, the United States, contrary to popular belief, is not a true meritocracy, and the American worker is getting a bum deal, the worst of both worlds. Not only is a significant portion of the middle class hanging on by the narrowest of threads, not only do fewer working people have secure retirements to look forward to, not only are nearly one in seven Americans uninsured, but working people also enjoy less opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps than those in a number of other advanced economies....
Americans enjoy significantly less upward mobility than citizens of a number of other industrialized nations (some of the studies can be accessed here, here and here). German workers have 1.5 times the mobility of Americans, Canada is nearly 2.5 times more mobile and Denmark is 3 times more mobile. Norway, Finland, Sweden and France (France!) are all more mobile societies than the United States. Of the countries included in the studies, the United States ranked near the bottom; only the United Kingdom came in lower....
Roughly speaking, the decrease in relative mobility from generation to generation correlates with the rise of "backlash" conservatism, the advent of Reaganomics and the series of massive changes in industrial relations and other policies that people loosely refer to as the "era of globalization."...
Sawhill looked at the relationship between education and mobility (PDF) and concluded that "at virtually every level, education in America tends to perpetuate rather than compensate for existing inequalities." She pointed to three reasons for that.

First, we have a relatively weak K-12 system. "American students perform poorly on international assessments," she wrote. "Colleges are forced to provide remedial work to a large share of entering freshmen, and employers complain about workers' basic skills." A society with a weak education system will, by definition, be one in which the advantages of class and family background loom large.

Second, the U.S. education system is largely funded through state and local property taxes, which means that the quality of a kid's education depends on the wealth of the community in which he or she grows up. This, too, helps replicate parents' economic status in their kids.

Finally, Sawhill notes, in the United States, unlike other advanced economies, "access both to a quality preschool experience and to higher education continues to depend quite directly on family resources."...The decline in organized labor and solid, good-paying manufacturing jobs is another factor. Those jobs once represented a ladder;...

SNIP---

The article below is true and sums up my feelings that we are being had by ALL the politicians.

Why the Democrats Could Lose

But the smug Democratic hierarchy may be inviting defeat, again, by ignoring the fact that many Americans want leadership that appeals to them on the higher plane of principle. Instead, Democrats often treat Americans more like consumers than citizens, selling them new social programs rather than articulating an uplifting national cause.

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York summed up this consumer-over-citizen approach when she announced her health care plan on Sept. 17:

"We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can't take a sick child to the doctor?" [Boston Globe, Sept. 18, 2007]

Perhaps a different question might be: why would a presidential candidate see the founding principles of the United States as somehow at odds with the desire of parents to want health care for their children?

With her dubious dichotomy, Sen. Clinton suggests that it’s an either-or situation – and that the founding principles must take a backseat to health-care policy.

One outgrowth of this pragmatism-not-principle approach is that national Democrats have shied away from rallying the American people around the ideals of the Republic, even when they have been under assault by Bush and his administration.

These Democratic leaders don’t seem to think that ephemeral notions – like checks and balances, the rule of law, and inalienable rights – matter that much to the average Joe. In this view, health insurance and other social benefits should trump all.



SNIP----
And then this....and I am old enough to remember recession.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks sank on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve trimmed interest rates rather than slashing them, letting down investors who fear the economy might slip into recession unless the central bank becomes more aggressive.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The hell with the NIE, more negativity on Iran

This is the validation that will be used over and over to make Bush's case to invade Iran in 2009. Mark my words.
The quote is from Secy Gates:



He said "since that government now acknowledges the quality of American intelligence assessments, I assume that it also will embrace as valid American intelligence assessments" that Iran is funding and training of militia groups in Iraq; deploying lethal weapons and technology to both Iraq and Afghanistan; supporting terrorist organizations -- like Hezbollah and Hamas -- that have murdered thousands of innocent civilians; and continued research and development of medium-range ballistic missiles that can carry weapons of mass destruction.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I was listening to the Ed Schultz show this morning and something a caller said really struck me. She stated that her 23 yr old daughter had decided to support Dennis Kucinich for President because he touched her. When she asked her daughter what she meant, her daughter told her that she remembered her mother's story about how she cried and cried when President Kennedy was shot, and that she wanted to have a President like that in her life time, a President that people could love and and a President that touched her as Kennedy had touched her mother. That was why she was supporting Dennis.

Well, that sure made me think. In my lifetime, what President ever gave us hope, puled us together, and rallied us to greatness as a nation? Besides President Kennedy, I don't think so.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know

For those of us who are TCU grads, we can be happy that Mr. Leverett, actually remembered one value hopefully reinforced at TCU....ethics. At least he finally saw the light.

Below, the introduction to the article, please use the link read the remainder of the article.

In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm -- not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years. That was what people didn't realize. It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn't wait for the UN inspectors to leave. The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline, they say.


Link to article

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

He who controls the past controls the future



Rove: "Congress Pushed Bush to War in Iraq Prematurely" You are not going to believe this, well, actually you will...


According to Karl Rove (on Charlie Rose), the Bush Administration did not want Congress to vote on the Iraq War resolution in the fall of 2002, because they thought it should not be done within the context of an election. Rove, you see, did not think the war vote should be "political".

Moreover, according to Rove, that "premature vote" led to many of the problems that cropped up in the Iraq War. Had Congress not pushed, he says, Bush could have spent more time assembling a coalition, and provided more time to the inspectors.

If you are like me, you have stopped reading/listening, and are rushing to get your anti-emetic
the rest of the story
l

The Thought Police are coming, really...

The Thought Police are coming....check out this proposed bill. Guess it's ok, (NOT ! ) we already have Big Brother watching all our communications. Hi Big Brother...do I have enough "code words" on this page?

Per Randi Rhodes website http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/live/ my favorite radio commentator. I'll supply the links below.

_____________________________________

THE VIOLENT RADICALIZATION AND HOMEGROWN TERRORISM PREVENTION ACT:
An Act passed by The House in late October and currently before the Senate Homeland Security Committee is as bad as or WORSE than the McCarthy Era when people were labeled and jailed for anything HE deemed UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES.

Language inserted in the act does partially define "homegrown terrorism" as "planning" or "threatening" to use force to promote a political objective, meaning that just thinking about doing something could be enough to merit the terrorist label.

The act also describes "violent radicalization" as the promotion of an "extremist belief system" without attempting to define "extremist."

Here is the FULL TEXT OF THE BILL:
Note Section 899A Homegrown Terrorism where it becomes a crime "to intimidate or coerce the US government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objective". And Section 899B Paragraph 3 – The internet is a tool of terror.

_________________

Links:

S. 1959: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-1959

Votes on the Violence, Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorist Act: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2007-993

Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to 'Disrupt' Radical Movements in the United States. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7439

Philip Giraldi from Huffington Post wrote more about the Act http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-giraldi/the-violent-radicalizatio_b_74091.html

_______________________________-

and who voted yes?

Texas
Aye TX-1 Gohmert, Louis [R]
Aye TX-2 Poe, Ted [R]
Aye TX-3 Johnson, Samuel [R]
Aye TX-4 Hall, Ralph [R]
Aye TX-5 Hensarling, Jeb [R]
Aye TX-6 Barton, Joe [R]
Aye TX-7 Culberson, John [R]
Aye TX-8 Brady, Kevin [R]
Aye TX-9 Green, Al [D]
Aye TX-10 McCaul, Michael [R]
Aye TX-11 Conaway, K. [R]
Aye TX-12 Granger, Kay [R]
Aye TX-13 Thornberry, William [R]
No Vote TX-14 Paul, Ronald [R]
Aye TX-15 Hinojosa, Rubén [D]
No Vote TX-16 Reyes, Silvestre [D]
Aye TX-17 Edwards, Thomas [D]
Aye TX-18 Jackson-Lee, Sheila [D]
Aye TX-19 Neugebauer, Randy [R]
Aye TX-20 Gonzalez, Charles [D]
Aye TX-21 Smith, Lamar [R]
Aye TX-22 Lampson, Nicholas [D]
Aye TX-23 Rodriguez, Ciro [D]
Aye TX-24 Marchant, Kenny [R]
Aye TX-25 Doggett, Lloyd [D]
Aye TX-26 Burgess, Michael [R]
Aye TX-27 Ortiz, Solomon [D]
Aye TX-28 Cuellar, Henry [D]
Aye TX-29 Green, Raymond [D]
No Vote TX-30 Johnson, Eddie [D]
Aye TX-31 Carter, John [R]
Aye TX-32 Sessions, Peter [R]

_______________________________________

Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to 'Disrupt' Radical Movements in the United States

by Jessica Lee

Global Research, November 25, 2007
indypendent.org


Under the guise of a bill that calls for the study of "homegrown terrorism," Congress is apparently trying to broaden the definition of terrorism to encompass both First Amendment political activity and traditional forms of protest such as nonviolent civil disobedience, according to civil liberties advocates, scholars and historians.

The proposed law, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1955), was passed by the House of Representative in a 404-6 vote Oct. 23. (The Senate is currently considering a companion bill, S. 1959.) The act would establish a "National Commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence" and a university-based "Center for Excellence" to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence in the United States" in order to develop policy for "prevention, disruption and mitigation."

Many observers fear that the proposed law will be used against U.S.-based groups engaged in legal but unpopular political activism, ranging from political Islamists to animal-rights and environmental campaigners to radical right-wing organizations. There is concern, too, that the bill will undermine academic integrity and is the latest salvo in a decade-long government grab for power at the expense of civil liberties.

David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martin's University who studies government surveillance and harassment of dissident scholars, says the bill "is a shot over the bow of environmental activists, animal-rights activists, anti-globalization activists and scholars who are working in the Middle East who have views that go against the administration." Price says some right-wing outfits such as gun clubs are also threatened because "[they] would be looked at with suspicion under the bill."

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), which has been organizing against post-Sept. 11 legislative attacks on First Amendment rights, is critical of the bill. "When you first look at this bill, it might seem harmless because it is about the development of a commission to do a study," explained Hope Marston, a regional organizer with BORDC.

"However, when you realize the focus of the study is 'homegrown terrorism,' it raises red flags," Marston said. "When you consider that the government has wiretapped our phone calls and emails, spied on religious and political groups and has done extensive data mining of our daily records, it is worrisome of what might be done with the study. I am concerned that there appears to be an inclination to study religious and political groups to ultimately try to find subversion. This would violate our First Amendment rights to free speech and freedoms of religion and association."


for the rest of the article

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wounded? Pay back the Pentagon ....

This is so outrageous! What are they thinking?

Just in time for the holidays, there's a special place in Hell just waiting to be filled by some as-yet-unknown Pentagon bureaucrat. Apparently, thousands of wounded soldiers who served in Iraq are being asked to return part of their enlistment bonuses -- because their injuries prevented them from completing their tours.

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004754.php

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Barack Obama at the Backyard Austin, Tx






I got to be on stage! Got a "sort of" hug from the Senator too.
Oddly, he remembered signing my shirt in San Antonio in June, because it was Ray's and my 35th wedding anniversary.
Great experience, and a great speech. Go Barack!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The "Good Germans" Among Us

From the New York Times. I can't add anything more to this. It's excellent.
However, I can say this- IMPEACH!


October 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us
By FRANK RICH
“BUSH lies” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: “This government does not torture people.” Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques have a grotesque provenance: “Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the ‘third degree.’ It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.”

Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi (Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress squawk. The debate is labeled “politics.” We turn the page.

There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.

As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in North Carolina. This is a plot out of “Syriana” by way of “Chinatown.” There will be no trial. We will never find out what happened. A new bill passed by the House to regulate contractor behavior will have little effect, even if it becomes law in its current form.

We can continue to blame the Bush administration for the horrors of Iraq — and should. Paul Bremer, our post-invasion viceroy and the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts, issued the order that allows contractors to elude Iraqi law, a folly second only to his disbanding of the Iraqi Army. But we must also examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one that put Verschärfte Vernehmung on the map.

I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press — the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration’s case — failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.

As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.

In April 2004, Stars and Stripes first reported that our troops were using makeshift vehicle armor fashioned out of sandbags, yet when a soldier complained to Donald Rumsfeld at a town meeting in Kuwait eight months later, he was successfully pilloried by the right. Proper armor procurement lagged for months more to come. Not until early this year, four years after the war’s first casualties, did a Washington Post investigation finally focus the country’s attention on the shoddy treatment of veterans, many of them victims of inadequate armor, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.

We first learned of the use of contractors as mercenaries when four Blackwater employees were strung up in Falluja in March 2004, just weeks before the first torture photos emerged from Abu Ghraib. We asked few questions. When reports surfaced early this summer that our contractors in Iraq (180,000, of whom some 48,000 are believed to be security personnel) now outnumber our postsurge troop strength, we yawned. Contractor casualties and contractor-inflicted casualties are kept off the books.

It was always the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily persuaded there could be a free war.

Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to finesse the overstretched military’s holes. With the war’s entire weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other way at whatever went down in Iraq.

We ignored the contractor scandal to our own peril. Ever since Falluja this auxiliary army has been a leading indicator of every element of the war’s failure: not only our inadequate troop strength but also our alienation of Iraqi hearts and minds and our rampant outsourcing to contractors rife with Bush-Cheney cronies and campaign contributors. Contractors remain a bellwether of the war’s progress today. When Blackwater was briefly suspended after the Nisour Square catastrophe, American diplomats were flatly forbidden from leaving the fortified Green Zone. So much for the surge’s great “success” in bringing security to Baghdad.

Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer to the military chain of command, can simply “drop their guns and go home.” Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those “who deliver their bullets and beans.”

This potential scenario is just one example of why it’s in our national self-interest to attend to Iraq policy the White House counts on us to ignore. Our national character is on the line too. The extralegal contractors are both a slap at the sovereignty of the self-governing Iraq we supposedly support and an insult to those in uniform receiving as little as one-sixth the pay. Yet it took mass death in Nisour Square to fix even our fleeting attention on this long-metastasizing cancer in our battle plan.

Similarly, it took until December 2005, two and a half years after “Mission Accomplished,” for Mr. Bush to feel sufficient public pressure to acknowledge the large number of Iraqi casualties in the war. Even now, despite his repeated declaration that “America will not abandon the Iraqi people,” he has yet to address or intervene decisively in the tragedy of four million-plus Iraqi refugees, a disproportionate number of them children. He feels no pressure from the American public to do so, but hey, he pays lip service to Darfur.

Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

A favorite Christmas comedy sketch

SNL, The Delious Dish, Schweddy Balls.

http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/39523/detail/

I could not agree more! This from dailyKos

What'll It Cost Me?
by MrMichaelMT
Sun Nov 11, 2007 at 05:52:01 PM PST
With the release of Sicko and the expected barrage of trash aimed at Democratic candidates from right wing radio, it's inevitable that someone will accost you. (After all, that "I'm a Progressive" tatoo on your forehead stands out.)

"Why should I pay for someone else's health care? I'm paying enough already!"

The major candidates have done an incredibly poor job of articulating what the savings would be to our society that universal healthcare would achieve. So I guess it's up to you.

Get ready to answer: "Yes, you are! You are paying way too much. Universal health care will save you, personally, a bundle."

MrMichaelMT's diary :: ::
When you are sitting in church or the movie theater, look to your right and your left, ahead and back. Chances are that one of those people is paying health roulette. When they get really, really sick they go to an emergency room--and you pay.

This issue update from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that uninsured Americans could incur nearly $41 billion in uncompensated health care treatment in 2004, with federal, state and local governments paying as much as 85 percent of the care. It also finds that if the country provided coverage to all the uninsured, the cost of additional medical care provided to the newly insured would be $48 billion.

So if you just skim the headline, you might mistakenly think you are saving 7 billion by not covering the uninsured. Guess again! By waiting until health care is critical, the cost of healing the uninsured is many times the cost of insuring--and caring for--them in advance. Just remember the case of Deamonte Driver.

Deamonte Driver's life could have been spared if his infected tooth was simply removed -- a procedure costing just $80...
In the end, Driver endured two surgeries and weeks of hospital care totaling about $250,000 in medical bills. Sadly, it was too late to save the boy, and he passed away on Feb. 25.

According to the National Academy of Science, neglect due to lack of health insurance leads to developmental delays in tens of thousands of children each year. They end up in special education, costing school districts many times what general education would cost.

Look at your property tax bill. Highlight the school tax (in most states.) You are paying for the child down the block, who doesn't have health insurance. And you'll continue to pay, for his/her entire life, due to lower productivity.

And then, of course, there is the economy. Every time someone stays home sick, our nation loses productivity.

The value of what the United States loses because of the poorer health and earlier death experienced by the 41 million Americans who lack health insurance is estimated to be $65 billion to $130 billion every year, according to a first-ever economic analysis of the costs of uninsurance for society overall. This lost value is a hidden cost that could be recouped by extending health coverage to all, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

So we can attribute at least part of the decline of the dollar to our loss of productivity of our unhealthy society.

And this is the area where you can draw a bright red line between the plans for extending private insurance and single payer health insurance. The way in which a single payer plan would decide what to pay is completely different than a private system. Let me give the single example I know best--paraplegia. Private insurers calculate the cost of maintenance--six months of physical therapy, to insure that the para can get in and out of a chair, a new chair every five years. WD-40 and you're done. Single payer plans (like those in Europe) ask: "What more could you do if we paid for X?" Then they pay. There are hundreds of other conditions where the calculation is the same--obligation? or potential?

To regular readers of DKos, this may seem like a no brainer. But MSM has ignored them, even in the face of two SCHIP vetoes. Until they are reduced to bumper stickers, we will remain a "Sicko" society.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Killer Awoke Before Dawn




The Killer Awoke Before Dawn
by blueness
Sun Nov 11, 2007 at 03:01:41 AM PST
Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the finest piece of public art in the history of this country. The vision of a haunted ex-Army infantryman, realized by a 21-year-old Asian refugee, The Wall has became a place of pilgrimage, a secular shrine, something unprecedented, unrivaled in our Calvinist country. Tens of millions of people have brought hundreds of thousands of mementos, gifts, talismans, offerings to The Wall.

Among them, this letter:

Dear Nick:

The little baby you never saw turned 17 in August. She looks like Scotty now; she used to look like you when she was younger.

This was all such a waste. Maybe your sacrifice means this won't happen again.

Dan

Oh, vain hope. Not to be, not to be . . . .

blueness's diary :: ::
The Wall began with Jan Scruggs, former Army infantryman. Up one night in the wee hours, nursing a bottle of Scotch, alone with ghosts in his Maryland apartment, he saw again twelve of his friends blown apart while unloading an ammunition truck, how he'd wandered, helpless, among them, watching their brains, their entrails, their lives seep out.

He decided that night that he, a 29-year-old ex-corporal, an American University student--in short, a nobody--would see to it that a memorial was built in Washington, DC that would list the names of all the US servicemen and women who had died in Vietnam.

Scruggs began with $2800 of his own money; ultimately the project attracted ten million dollars. What Scruggs, and those who joined him, wanted was a memorial that, besides listing all the names of all the military personnel who had died in Vietnam, would also be reflective and contemplative, harmonize with its surroundings, and make no overt political statement about the war.

From the 1400 submitted designs, that of Maya Lin, a 21-year-old Yale architecture student, was selected . . . and the forces of reaction then screeched into overdrive in opposition.

First, the racists objected to an Asian designing a memorial honoring Americans who died in an Asian war (that Lin was Chinese, from a family that had fled Mao, made no difference to these people).

Then there were complaints that it was black--aren't war memorials supposed to be white? And anyway, isn't black "the color of shame"? That objection was answered by General George Price: "Black's really not the color of shame. I'm black myself."

Then there was hand-wringing that "it's a hole in the ground"--dark, dreary, depressing, a wallow in despair.

So, finally, all the blathering and the clattering, from the same sort of people who succeeded in smearing paint over the genitalia in The Last Judgement, forced into the entry of The Wall a wholly unnecessary and supremely mediocre bronze sculpture of three soldiers.

Doesn't matter. The Wall overcomes it.

Everything about The Wall is right. As Lin has said, it is:

a rift in the earth--a long, polished black stone wall, emerging from and receding into the earth . . . The memorial is a moving composition to be understood as one moves into and out of it; the passage itself is gradual, the descent to the origin slow, but it is at the origin that the meaning of the memorial is to be fully understood.

Names are listed in perfect equality, general to private, in chronological order of passing, on polished black granite that reflects those gazing upon it, uniting the living and the dead. Each reflecting upon the other, blurring the distinction into the indistinguishable. Little wonder that so many people bring so many living offerings to The Wall, speak to the names upon it as if they were still sentient beings, leave them letters, cigarettes, food, flowers, clothing, drink.

rest of the post


To my fellow Veterans, I say...Thanks for serving our nation. Hooaaah!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Knitter's Unite! I'll knit one, how about you?

Knit Your Bit
November 10, 2006. When I started my morning walk, it had been a lovely fall day; sunny and warm. I knew it would be one of the last. Sign of winter were everywhere from scavenging deer to barren trees. Still the chilly rain and darkening sky came as a surprise. I hurried back home, to warm up and work. Later on in the afternoon, I had planned to participate in a local Veterans Day knitting event.

I had read about Knit Your Bit in our local paper, the Iowa City Press Citizen. It was started by Lauren Hadley at the World War II Museum. She had invited knitters to once again pick up their needles to provide scarves for World War II soldiers, now elderly veterans. The scarves would be distributed at Veteran Administration Centers. In support of this national knitting project, our local historical society was hosting a knitting circle. Knitters and crocheters of all ages were invited to attend. Museum Studies students from the University of Iowa would be there taking oral histories of those who had stitched away on the home front during World War II.

By the time I was ready to leave for the knitting circle, a heavy snow was falling. I shrugged into my warm winter coat, grabbed the knitting basket I had prepared and chugged over to our new historical center on the Iowa River. In the lobby of the building, a circle of comfortable chairs were set up around a gas fireplace. Nearby was a table with a coffee urn, a plate of home-baked cookies, and a stapled-together collection of Knit for Soldiers patterns in a neat pile. The students, bright and cheerful with knitting of their own, greeted me. The local TV news station set up cameras to film the occasion. A woman who knit during WWII was wheeled in by her husband. They had driven a great distance because she wanted to give her testimony. The students huddled around her.

Two women I knew from Iowa Fiber Alliance arrived, their knitting in big bags. One brought her mother-in-law, a prize-winning knitter, who remembered knitting in school for the war effort. We all buzzed back and forth about knitting and ideas. The room was very warm from the gas fire. Occasionally we looked out the large window, catching a glimpse of the gloomy weather. When it came time to go, no one was anxious to leave.



Michelle's Father, Stanley Epstein
Photo courtesy Michelle Edwards Later that evening, knitting at home, I thought about my father who was a soldier in WWII. He died before I was able ask him the kind of questions I thought about now. What was it like to be at war, to be battle a fierce enemy far away from home? What was it like to witness death and destruction, and then, to receive a wooly gift from far away, from the safety of someone's classroom or the comfort of a family's living room. What did a piece of hand-knit warmth, a pair of warm socks, a scarf, or a sweater mean to soldier at war?

As I put my knitting down that evening, I looked over the Knit for Soldiers patterns. If he were alive, how would my father feel now, an old man with time to ruminate over his soldiering days? Would a hand-knit scarf bring comfort to him and his war memories? As a life-long knitter, that's the hope that keeps me stitching most days. The possibility that the wool and needles will make an object of comfort and warmth for both body and soul.


Knit Your Bit 2006 was a great success. Over 1600 scarves were collected and distributed to veterans all over the country. And although, it was intended to be a short term project, the founder Lauren Hadley has decided to keep it running.

Are you ready to knit your bit? It doesn't take a lot of wool, much time or even great knitting skill to make a scarf. You could try an easy pattern, say the Road Scarf.

Knit Your Bit asks that the scarves be made in male-friendly colors. This Veterans Day, I'm going to knit one in honor of my father's service. Wool-Ease® Blue Mist #620-115 -- a blue with subtle overtones of greens and grays. Three skeins. May the veteran, who receives it, wear it in good health.

Send your scarf to: The National World War II Museum
Knit Your Bit Campaign
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kucinich offers his resolution on impeachment

Stop lying to yourself. You love Dennis Kucinich

Democratic primary voters, you agree with him about (almost) everything, and you know it.

By Rebecca Traister

Nov. 5, 2007 | Dear Democrats:

It has recently come to my attention that you (and by "you" I also mean "I") are in the grip of mass self-delusion. It's long entrenched, and reinforced every night as many of you swig your beers or glasses of wine, lean over your keyboards and earnestly debate the merits of John Edwards and Barack Obama, fret over Hillary Clinton's authenticity and calculate the chances of Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd.

You are lying to yourselves. In a quest for an "electable," "not insane" presidential candidate, you are willfully overlooking the candidate who actually comes closest to representing the things in which you really believe: justice and peace and the basic freedoms that should be afforded to every American, regardless of race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation or galactic origin. In an effort to distance yourself from the squish of the Birkenstock and the stench of the patchouli, you have convinced yourself that compromise and pragmatism light the path to the White House. And you are correct. But still, before walking listlessly down the aisle toward our impending union with tepid centrism, let's rip our clothes off for one final, ill-advised fling with ideological honesty:

Dennis Kucinich is our man! If he can't do it, well, that's because we're all chickenshit and condemned to a future of our own making. Yay, Dennis!

It's true, and I suspect many of you think it to yourselves, perhaps even confess it sotto voce to your loved ones during each Democratic debate (especially the ones where he doesn't mention the UFO): If the Democratic base pulled levers for the candidate whose policies best reflected its own beliefs, Dennis Kucinich should win his party's nomination in a landslide.

OK, sure, his reign as mayor of Cleveland was a mess. He has never passed a piece of legislation. He loves to flash peace signs that provoke flashbacks of your crazy Aunt Martha's annual Woodstock slide show. The fact that when you try to picture him at any sort of summit, you quickly envision Nicolas Sarkozy stealing his lunch money leads you to suspect that he might be an ineffective player on the world stage. He is a vegan. He has been compelled by his sense of honesty, and his close personal friendship with Shirley MacLaine, to disclose his encounters with extraterrestrial life. Also, he really does bear an unfortunate resemblance to a leprechaun. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Extra-repellent are the signifiers that surround Kucinich: the hippie-dippy factor of his supporters and their wavy-gravy, pierced, peacenik naiveté. You don't want to descend into the Unitarian Church basement and talk about peace over potluck fruited rice casseroles. Because, sure, you might believe in peace, you might want peace, but you don't want to text peace. And you'd sooner eat a bucket of trans fats than talk about it with a bunch of Hacky-Sackers in Phish T-shirts. It's just like how you believe the music of Bruce Springsteen is important but don't attend his concerts because you prefer not to picture yourself in the company of overweight men from New Jersey who wear unironic mustaches and know the air-guitar chords to "Glory Days."

But here is the truth: If you believe in universal, single-payer healthcare and that campaign finance and electronic voting are corrupt; if you hate the Patriot Act and believe it erodes civil rights; if you believe that gay people should have the same rights as straight people, that America should rejoin the Kyoto Protocol and take steps to halt global warming, that we should invest in alternative fuel sources, that our water and air need to be protected from pollution and overuse, that the government should reduce the amount of money it spends on war and instead work to improve the country's education system, and that going to war in Iraq was a terrible and tragic mistake, then you are that guy playing air guitar, and he is you.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It's time to come clean and admit that we are a Dennis Kucinich-loving party trapped in Hillary Clinton-supporting bodies.
the rest of the story

Monday, November 05, 2007

How to electrocute a turkey

How To Electrocute A Turkey Recipe
Ingredients:
One crazy family
One bad oven
circuit breaker
one turkey and stuffing
Wine and/or alcohol of choice

Directions
Get out the china, the silver, etc. set a pretty table, and serve yummy food. However, my sisters and I had a tradition that bordered on the stupid, but we loved it.
First, a big breakfast.
Then, get the turkey washed, usually a hilarious event accompanied by using the sprayer at the sink, and not necessarily spraying the bird. Water fights are essential.
Second, get the bird stuffed and in the oven.
Third, all bets are off. It's time to make the most outrageous side dishes while sampling the wine that will be served with the turkey.
Usually, we are still sober by the time we serve the turkey....but it this whole thing started a long time ago...1978 or 1979....
as I write this, I think I should post this as a recipe on how to make a turkey, let me know what you think...
It was a cold, dreary Nebraska Thanksgiving. The turkey was in the oven, and our extended family was gathered in the living room, watching football. Soon, we heard a wierd noise from the kitchen... runnnngggg, runnnnngg, rrrrrrrr, brraaacckkk.....
The 3 sisters got up and ran to the kitchen to see what was going on....we were followed by all the kids (6 of them) as we streamed through the tiny kitchen door only to see sparks coming from under the oven, and feeling electricity course to our knees....we all screamed and ran BACK out the kitchen door, as the men in the family were trying to get through the door to hit the circuit breaker.
The oven fried, the turkey was removed, and dropped....it slid across the kitchen floor, half-baked. There was squealing and screaming!
Once the sparks stopped, we had to decide. What do we do? Throw the turkey out? The more enterprising of the sisters, took the bird, put it in the sink and washed it. We then took it to the basement and cooked it in the gas oven.
It is known as the year we electrocuted the turkey.
There ever after, we never made a turkey without being fortified by alcoholic beverages to anesthetize the memory of the electocuted turkey.
So get that turkey in the oven, and have some fun doing it! Don't be too serious. Disaster could strike, and what would you do??

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Riverbend's blog

I try to keep up with this blog, as Riverbend is so eloquent, and has been writing since the Iraq war began. She is Iraqi and recently left Iraq for Syria. Her latest post on being a refugee is quite interesting, and a bit sad. If you have the time, take a look at her blog.
Baghdad Burning blog

An excerpt:
The first weeks here were something of a cultural shock. It has taken me these last three months to work away certain habits I’d acquired in Iraq after the war. It’s funny how you learn to act a certain way and don’t even know you’re doing strange things- like avoiding people’s eyes in the street or crazily murmuring prayers to yourself when stuck in traffic. It took me at least three weeks to teach myself to walk properly again- with head lifted, not constantly looking behind me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

They speak English in London?

I read about a football player last nigth that did not know they spoke English in London. So this morning, while serving pancakes to 3 thirteen year old boys (grandson and friends), I asked them if they knew what language was spoken in England. Three blank faces stared at me, then they began to guess, Chinese? dunno, English?

The story to which I am referring:

NFL Star: They Speak English In London?

By Sky News SkyNews - Friday, October 26 10:56 am
Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder has admitted not knowing people speak English in London.


The NFL player might want to check a map before he gets on board a plane for Sunday's prestige game against the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium.

Crowder, who comes from Atlanta in Georgia, may be praised on the field, but confessed geography was not his strong point.

He admitted he did not know until now where London was - or that Londoners spoke English.

"I couldn't find London on a map if they didn't have the names of the countries," he said.

"I swear to God. I don't know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that."

Crowder added: "I know (Washington Redskins linebacker) London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him.

"That's the closest thing I know to London. He's black, so I'm sure he's not from London. I'm sure that's a coincidental name."

The Miami Dolphins are play the New York Giants at Wembley this Sunday in the first NFL regular-season game to be played outside the United States.

_____________________
Add to that level of ignorance, Texas' new idea of teaching "deep thinking" skills. What the heck is deep thinking? Would that be critical thinking skills? These were skills that used to be taught nation-wide, and young people did not enter college needing remedial classes, like they do now. At any rate, as our children's education level sinks to the bottom of the barrel, we lose out in global competition, and our nation will suffer. Oh, wait, rich kids, who attend private schools will do just fine. One day, perhaps, the rich will just lock up in their gated communities and direct the uneducated masses in their daily thankless jobs so that the rich stay rich and the middle class disappears into oblivion.

______________________

Texas may demand deeper thinking in its public schools
by Melissa Ludwig, Express-News Staff Writer

Writing research papers with citations, explaining plate tectonics and probing why historians have competing versions of the past.

Such high level skills could become part of the statewide K-12 public school curriculum if state education officials adopt a draft of college readiness standards released Thursday by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The tougher standards spring from a state mandate to stem the tide of unprepared students heading to college, where they drag down the level of teaching or wind up in remedial courses that cost students money but earn them no college credit.

If adopted, the new standards could be woven into the public school curriculum within a couple of years. No one is sure exactly how and when that will happen. The proposed standards will be subject to public comment and a full vote of the Coordinating Board, and then must win the approval of Commissioner of Education Robert Scott and the State Board of Education. The draft is likely to be revised along the way.

"This is one of the most important things we will do in the next 10 to 20 years," Scott said. "If we do this right, we can have a tremendous impact. It will touch on every single classroom and child in the state of Texas."

The new standards call for deep thinking and reasoning — elements that teachers, professors, employers and parents have long complained are missing from the public school curriculum, called the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skillsor TEKS. The test students must pass to graduate is mostly multiple-choice and demands nothing but rote memorization, many teachers complain.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA102607.01B.HigherEdMeeting.32b4401.html

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Foodie weekend at our house, let's make chicken curry


  • 2 each small onions; chopped

  • 4 tablespoon butter or margarine; melted

  • 1 tsp Salt

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp ground allspice

  • 1 tsp curry powder

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, or less

  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 2 each lime juice (fresh)

  • 3 cups cooked chicken; diced



  1. Saute onion in butter 1 min; add salt and spices, cook 2 mins, stir in

  2. broth and lime juice.

  3. Add chicken and heat through.

  4. Serve over fragrant basmati rice.

  5. To make ahead:

  6. Make sauce and cool. Put chicken in zip top bag, add sauce.

  7. Refrigerate up to 24 hrs.

  8. To serve: coook over medium heat until heated through, stirring

  9. occasionally.

  10. Fastest if you cut up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

  11. Serve with Major Grey's chutney.


Really Quick Chicken Curry @ Group Recipes

Woman Arrested for Yelling at Toilet

Woman Arrested for Yelling at Toilet (Associated Press)
Talk about a potty mouth. A Scranton woman who allegedly shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor was cited for disorderly conduct, authorities said.

Dawn Herb could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. "It doesn't make any sense. I was in my house. It's not like I was outside or drunk," Herb told The Times-Tribune of Scranton.

"The toilet was overflowing and leaking down into the kitchen and I was yelling (for my daughter) to get the mop." Herb doesn't recall exactly what she said, but she admitted letting more than a few choice words fly near an open bathroom window Thursday night.

Her next-door neighbor, a city police officer who was off-duty at the time, asked her to keep it down, police said. When she continued, the officer called police.
Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Philadelphia, took issue with the citation.

"You can't prosecute somebody for swearing at a cop or a toilet," she said.
_____________________________________________

Just as in Orwell's 1984, neighbors turn in neigbors, children turn in parents.....
Welcome to our brave new America, soviet style.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Again, I say, WAKE UP and take notice

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Naomi Wolf
Tuesday April 24, 2007
Guardian

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329789179-110878,00.html

California Fires

Well, Bush and Co. have their new crisis that will help them pass another drastic change that will go unnoticed while California burns off the map. Uncle Milty must be smiling.

You can just see how this is going to go. People will have lost everything, insurance companies won't pay up, and valuable land will be bought up by developers and the middle class folks will be disenfranchised in the end.

We are just keeping track of family in San Diego, who are doing fine at present, but can't open windows, etc due to the smoke.

It will be fascinating to watch how this all plays out in Bush's fascist America.

Some examples from Naomi Klein's web site Shockdoctrine.com

Investing in Disaster Capitalism
October 16, 2007
"Hot tip: Invest in 'Disaster Capitalism.' This new investment sector is the core of the emerging 'new economy' that generates profits by feeding off other peoples' misery: Wars, terror attacks, natural catastrophes, poverty, trade sanctions, market crashes and all kinds of economic, financial and political disasters."
- Paul B. Farrell, Dow Jones Business News


Pay To Be Saved: The Future of Disaster Response
By Naomi Klein - August 29th, 2006
The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box.

This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the government’s calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: Businesses do disaster better.

“It’s all going to be private enterprise before it’s over,” Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for Tropical Storm Ernesto, said in April. “They’ve got the expertise. They’ve got the resources.”

But before this new consensus goes any further, perhaps it’s time to take a look at where the privatization of disaster began, and where it will inevitably lead.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just who deserves SCHIP and national healthcare? Tell me now.

As a co-worker told me, it's all my fault that I am bitching and moaning about my $1000 deductible and 80/20 co-pay. I should have saved more money to cover the carpal tunnel surgery I must have as a result of being glued to a keyboard working on deadlines for the past 14 years. After all, he said, national health care is a communist plot and this is America and nothing here is free, nor should it be. If I don’t like it I should leave.

It's all my fault that I did not save enough to anticipate my daughter's divorce from her alcoholic and abusive husband, and the fact that in the past 1 ½ years all my children and their children came home to my house to lick their wounds. One came home to survive job loss. So what, we fed a family of 14 on a salary that once only fed and housed 4, that should be easy, right?

Then, it's all my fault because I could not afford a $1300 water softener, that would have prevented my water heater (in hard water Texas) from burning out and corroding the heating element in place so that instead of replacing the heating element, we had to replace the whole water heater last week.

It's all my fault that it cost $260 for a plumber to install my new $244 Home Depot water heater. (Other local plumbers wanted to charge $800 to put in the cheap a** water heater we bought). Thankfully, we shopped around and went with cold showers). And in the same week, it's my fault that the timing belt on my car (with 167,000 miles on it) broke 3 days after the water heater went out and cost $762 to repair. After all, I should not be driving such an old car. And so, of course, it's my fault that my mortgage payment is now late this month and I'll have to pay a late charge because again, I did not save enough. Before Bush, I did save enough, but we have slowly but surely eaten through our savings with medical bills.

It's my fault, I should have saved more and done more with less. It's my fault that I can't stretch 1 lb of ground meat to feed 14 people in a fashion better than casseroles. It's my fault that milk is $4 a gallon. God forbid I should want those expensive fresh vegetables on my salary. Instead, let’s buy Big Pharma vitamins.

Again, it's my fault, I should have gotten bigger raises and saved more while I took care of your mother, father, brother, sister, child, and wiped their behinds, gave them pain medicine, cared for them and listened and empathized, taking pride in my skills as an under-appreciated and over-worked nurse.

It's my fault because I should have been an MD or a pharmacy representative, and then I would have made enough money to care for my family, and have time to stay home and take care of my 91 year old mother. Instead, taking care of Mom was a family group effort. Why? Because we did not save enough money to hire someone to sit with her, we did that ourselves, with missed work hours and missed wages. Oh, but that's my fault too.

Until Americans understand that it is a moral imperative that we make health care a non-profit service, and a right for all citizens, all of us will be making choices that cause us to lose wages, job opportunities and the like so that we can care for ill family members by ourselves.

I want to see you anti-national health care people and anti-SCHIP people line folks up on national television and show me, point them out in front of God and everybody, which of these people does not deserve health care? Then explain, without waffling and beating around the bush, exactly why this or that person that you have lined up in front of you, does not deserve health care. It’s their fault because why?

Instead of swift-boating families behind their backs, why not do it in person? Surely that is ever so much more effective. I dare you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NSA Spying: What Did Pelosi Know?

consortiumnews.com
NSA Spying: What Did Pelosi Know?
By Ray McGovern October 15, 2007
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted knowing for several years about the Bush
administration’s eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. She said
she was briefed on it when she was ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence
Committee. But was she told that the illegal surveillance began well before
9/11?
Referring to her briefing in an apologia-sans-apology Washington Post
op-ed on Jan. 15, 2006, she wrote: “This is how I came to be informed of
President Bush’s authorization for the NSA to conduct certain types of
surveillance.”
Demonstrating her unconstitutionally subservient attitude
toward the Executive Branch, Pelosi wrote:
“But when the administration
notifies Congress in this manner, it is not seeking approval. There is a clear
expectation that the information will be shared by no one, including other
members of the intelligence committees. As a result, only a few members of
Congress were aware of the president’s surveillance program, and they were
constrained from discussing it more widely.”
How did the American people
react upon learning in December 2005 of this glaring infringement on their
Constitutional rights. Most reacted as they have been conditioned to act—out of
the old fear-factor shibboleth: “After 9/11/2001, everything changed.”
Yes,
just as after 2/27/1933, the night of the burning of the German Parliament
(Reichstag) in Berlin, everything changed.
As a German attorney there at the
time put it:
“What one can blame them [German politicians and populace] for,
and what shows their terrible collective weakness of character, is that this
settled the matter. With sheepish submissiveness the German people accepted
that, as a result of the fire, each one of them lost what little personal
freedom and dignity was guaranteed by the Constitution; as though it followed as
a necessary consequence. If the Communists burned down the Reichstag, it was
perfectly in order that the government took ‘decisive measures.’” [Defying
Hitler, A Memoir, by Sebastian Haffner, p. 121]
And if the terrorists
attacked on 9/11, it was perfectly in order that the Bush administration took
“decisive measures”—Patriot Act and illegal measures. In reaction to the PR
offensive to manipulate and exploit the trauma we all felt from 9/11, far too
many of our politicians and fellow citizens exhibited sheepish submissiveness.

__________________________

IMHO: We always wondered why the Germans did nothing about Hitler, know we know.
http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/101407a.html#When:10:35PM

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A USAF Basic Training graduation

Our great nephew graduated from USAF basic training this weekend! We are so proud of him.
Here is a photo of our young man and his Mom and sister.

























After 7 weeks of no junk food, Matt had a few bites of candy, ice cream sandwiches and assorted other junk food items. Then he and his bunk-mate Luke, whose parents could not come to his graduation came with us to Mi Tierra where they stuffed themselves some more! They were like eating machines, and a good time was had by all.







A picture of formation after the Airman's run on Thursday.

Americans Don't Believe in the American Dream

Americans Don't Believe in the American Dream
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted October 12, 2007

The American Dream is Dead, gone along with the era of good union jobs, comprehensive employer benefits and real upward mobility, and most working people are fully aware of the fact.

That's the takeaway from the latest installment of the American Dream Survey, a study of working Americans' views of the political-economy released in late September.

It paints a picture of an increasingly frustrated working majority who are having a harder time raising their families than the generation before them did, and who believe that things will be even worse for their kids. They have reason to believe it -- a 30-year assault on organized labor, neglected minimum wage increases, fewer educational opportunities and the constant tide of pro-business propaganda being pumped out by right-wing think tanks and business roundtables that enforces the idea that working people are faceless "inputs" -- costs that need to be controlled -- have left Americans with far less social mobility than they had a generation ago. Contrary to common belief, Americans have less opportunity to move up the economic ladder than Canadians and Western Europeans (except for those in the UK).

for more: Americans Don't Believe in the American Dream
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted October 12, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Huffington Post comment I had to share

jungpatawan (See profile | I'm a fan of jungpatawan)
And as Jesus sat by the well, the townspeople came forth to him, and they were much wroth.

And with the townspeople there came also a woman, dragged there in the dust by the people.

"People, what do you want," Jesus asked them.

"Lord," the people said unto him, "This woman is evil and reviled by us all, and we wish to stone her, according to the law."

And with the people also were the chief priests and pharisees, to see how Jesus would make reply and take down evidence against him.

So Jesus spake unto them, "Amen, I say to you. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

And amongst the chief priests and pharisees there was much gnashing of teeth, for Jesus had given a wise answer.

And amongst the townspeople there was much scratching of heads and awkard shuffling of sandals in the dust, for yea, verily, the woman was evil.

And then spaketh up a young man, who though beardless was yet accounted by all to also be wise.

"But, Jesus, this is Michelle Malkin."

And the Lord spake unto them, saying...

"Give me a fucking rock."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Who Killed Healthcare?

We turn over $2.2 trillion of our money each year to those who manage our healthcare, without holding them accountable for efficiency or quality. Not surprisingly, these folks -- hospitals, insurers, governments -- they use the money to benefit themselves. Jack Morgan, the insured, middle-class protagonist in Who Killed Health Care?[1] was killed by this system.

Insurers, hospitals, and governments have gotten fat on our bloated healthcare costs, which kill the competitiveness of US firms. More than 40 million Americans are uninsured, mostly because they cannot afford it, while 300,000 people die every few years from medical errors.[2] Arrogant insurance bureaucrats deny people the services they paid for, while many insured find their coverage inadequate for serious illnesses. The uninsured -- they are charged the highest prices by our allegedly nonprofit, ostensibly "charitable" hospitals and are all too often driven to bankruptcy.[3-5]

Meanwhile, many doctors leave the profession because of insurer, hospital, and government micromanagement of their activities. Physicians enrolled in my MBA courses at the Harvard Business School tell me, "I can no longer practice medicine." The grip of the powerful status quo also scares off those entrepreneurs who represent the best hope of transforming healthcare.

Only 1 stakeholder can fix this -- you and me. We must take back our money so we can decide how to spend it. We should be buying health insurance for ourselves, using the foregone salaries and massive taxes we once turned over to the self-serving healthcare industry crew. Switzerland's consumer-driven healthcare system points the way: With their excellent, private healthcare system, the Swiss have universal coverage and spend 40% less.[6]

We are at war for control of an annual $2.2 trillion -- an amount equal in size to China's whole economy. If we do not win it, our health and economy will go down in flames. My new book Who Killed Health Care?[1] details the consumer-driven battle plan that can revive our doctors, our economy, and our good health.

That's my opinion. I'm Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Harvard Business School.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now that I have read this on Medscape, I am ready to look into Swiss healthcare to see what I can learn. Also, consider emailing this information to your representatives and whoever you are currently supporting in the Democratic campaign. We need to get more of a dialog going.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Who's Your Daddy Nation

Where are we going as a nation? Phil Rockstroh has a very incisive point of view. Read on:


"We must become the change we want to see."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

The authoritarianism inherent to the structure of multi-conglomerate corporatism is antithetical to the concept of the rights and liberties of the individual. Most individuals -- bound by a corporation's secrecy-prone, hierarchical values -- will, over time, lose the ability to display free thinking, engage in civic discourse, and even be able to envisage the notion of freedom.

This is true, from the florescent light-flooded aisles of Wal*Mart to the insular executive offices of Halliburton to the sound stages of CNN and Fox News.

Under the prevailing order, reality, for the laboring class of the corporate state, has become debt slavery; in contrast, the simulacrum of reality, in which, the striver class exists, is a milieu defined by obsessive careerism.

Under the hegemony of corporatism, freedom might as well be fairy dust. It only exists in an imaginary land, not the places one arrives by way of one's morning and evening commute.

In addition, economically, by way of decades of financial chicanery, perpetrated by the nation's business and political elite, we are eating our seed crop, and the consequences of this harvest of deceit have left the people of the U.S., intellectually and spiritually malnourished.

As a result, many attempt to sate the keening emptiness and mitigate the chronic unease by gorging themselves on the Junk Food Jesus of End Time mythology, which is a belief system wherein corporeal events and actions (personal and collective) have no lasting consequence because even the human body is to be cast aside, like a junk food wrapper, when the cosmic CEO decides to make the earth a part of his heavenly franchise.

Accordingly, the corporate state requires modes of being that evince obliviousness and obedience (the defining traits of the US consumer) on the part of the majority of the populace. Ergo, the rise of both Christian consumerists and the vast apparatus of the right-wing propaganda matrix that dominates news cycles via the electronic mass media.

full article can be found here: http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/100207b.html#When:12:35PM

Saturday, September 29, 2007

War Made Easy, looks like a movie to see



What is it about?
"Variety called War Made Easy a "damning" and "unobtrusively well-crafted film." The Nation magazine described it as "chilling and persuasive." And the San Francisco Chronicle praised it as "a genuine eye-opener and a treat for history buffs," an "expertly edited and researched" documentary that offers "a searing critique of how administrations over the past 40 years have manipulated the media to build support for war."

As Cornyn voted against SCHIP...

He knew about this story.....

It was while he was at school one Thursday in February that Deamonte complained of toothache. On the Saturday he had emergency surgery. An abscess had spread to his brain.

A few weeks later he died.

"Everyone here was shocked," says Ms James.

"They couldn't understand how he could have toothache and then die. We sometimes give the little kids candy as a reward; well, for a while they stopped taking it because they would say 'if I get a cavity, will I die?'"

Deamonte's mother, Alyce, could not afford private health insurance and in the US there is no state health service.

Mr Bush believes the bill extends the programme too far

For the poorest there is some free treatment, called Medicaid. But not all dentists or doctors accept Medicaid patients, and Alyce Driver could not afford to pay to have Deamonte's tooth extracted.

This story is not a one-off. Some 45 million Americans are without health insurance, nine million of them children.

Many say it is America's national scandal.

In Washington political opponents have come together on this issue, in part driven by the outcry over Deamonte.

This week, lawmakers - both Democrat and Republican - supported a bill that would help fund insurance for four million more children.

In the Senate, the bill passed 67-29. It also passed in the House of Representatives but with less than the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

The proposed bill extends the State Children's Health Insurance Programme (Schip) that subsidises insurance for families who may not be the poorest, but who cannot afford private insurance.

Mr Bush says expanding public funding goes against the principles of private health care, and that subsidising it creates a disincentive for people to buy private care themselves. source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7018057.stm

I say Sen. Cornyn should have to face all the parents on SCHIP in a auditorium and tell them to their faces why their children don't deserve medical care. Then, I would like to see him get rid of his own government subsidized health insurance, paid for on my dime, and see how 48 million Americans face even a minor illness.

No End In Sight, PBS's NOW discusses the movie

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Ken Burns documentary on WW II, called "The War," is well worth watching. It's on tonight at 8 pm on KLRN. Tune in.To find out when further episodes are running, go here. If you want to set up email reminders for further episodes go here.

Bush's speech at the UN today



The Moron in chief gets phonetic spelling in his speeches!
Accidentally leaked today: The United States salutes the nations that have recently taken strides toward liberty – including Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan [KEYRgeez-stan], Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a], Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Morocco.


However, the most egregious thing was the content of the speech. Bush talks about human liberty, inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights, freedom, justice and peace, as quoted below. How dare he stand in front of this body of world leaders and LIE? He cannot actually believe a word he is saying! It is amazing that he had the chutzpah to stand there and say any of this, while he stokes a war, takes away our rights, tortures people, and eliminated the right of habeas corpus. WTF!

A portion of his speech:

Sixty years ago, representatives from 16 nations gathered to begin deliberations on a new international bill of rights. The document they produced is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and It stands as a landmark achievement In the history of human liberty. It opens by recognizing "the inherent dignity" and the "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family" as "the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world." And as we gather for this 62nd General Assembly, the standards of the Declaration must guide our work in the world.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Right's Garden of False Narratives

In this guest essay, poet Phil Rockstroh explores the personal and societal implications of foisting false reality on a nation:

One would think that from the cries of (feigned) indignation and calls for repentance arising from conservatives regarding Move-On.org's ad in the N.Y. Times that the liberal-leaning group had not simply questioned the insights and intentions of a public servant, promoting, in a public forum, the policy of an illegal and immoral occupation of a sovereign nation; rather, the folks of Move-On.org had committed blasphemy against the holy name of some revered saint -- General Mary Petraeus, Mother of God.

The false outrage of perpetually offended conservatives serves as cover for the true outrages of our era, including: truncated civil liberties, rising levels of social and economic inequality and injustice, and foreign wars of aggression waged by an insular and secretive executive branch and fought by a permanent underclass...

The outrages keep arriving, because the collective imagination of the citizen/consumers of the US, arbitrated by a careerist media elite, has been, for decades, in the thrall of false narratives that serve the interests of the elite of the corporate/militarist classes.

Concurrently, a sense of unease and despair, due to a sense of personal and collective powerlessness before exploitive power, has created the tone and tenor of the times, and begot the phenomenon of supine liberalism and Viagra conservatism. (In this way, liberals stand fecklessly by, as the public is, time and time again, screwed by the decrepit schemes of the right.)...
http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/092007a.html#When:09:15AM (link)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Our nation is being destroyed by the right, as Dem leadership wimps out

The Right's Garden of False Narratives

By Phil Rockstroh
September 20, 2007
Editor’s Note: At the core of the rot that is destroying the American Republic are the many false narratives that have replaced the nation's real history. The Right has proved adept at creating these alluring story lines and selling them through a vast and sophisticated media apparatus, while the mainstream press goes silent or plays along.

In this guest essay, poet Phil Rockstroh explores the personal and societal implications of foisting false reality on a nation:

One would think that from the cries of (feigned) indignation and calls for repentance arising from conservatives regarding Move-On.org's ad in the N.Y. Times that the liberal-leaning group had not simply questioned the insights and intentions of a public servant, promoting, in a public forum, the policy of an illegal and immoral occupation of a sovereign nation; rather, the folks of Move-On.org had committed blasphemy against the holy name of some revered saint -- General Mary Petraeus, Mother of God.

The false outrage of perpetually offended conservatives serves as cover for the true outrages of our era, including: truncated civil liberties, rising levels of social and economic inequality and injustice, and foreign wars of aggression waged by an insular and secretive executive branch and fought by a permanent underclass.

The outrages keep arriving, because the collective imagination of the citizen/consumers of the US, arbitrated by a careerist media elite, has been, for decades, in the thrall of false narratives that serve the interests of the elite of the corporate/militarist classes.

Concurrently, a sense of unease and despair, due to a sense of personal and collective powerlessness before exploitive power, has created the tone and tenor of the times, and begot the phenomenon of supine liberalism and Viagra conservatism. (In this way, liberals stand fecklessly by, as the public is, time and time again, screwed by the decrepit schemes of the right.)
full article, well worth reading

The question in my mind: How do we counter this, or will we sit idly by watching our country go to the dogs?

George W. Bush's Thug Nation

Article by Robert Parry

It’s said that over time Presidents – especially two-termers – imbue the nation with their personalities and priorities, for good or ill. If that’s true, it could help explain the small-minded mean-spiritedness that seems to be pervading the behavior of the United States these days, both at home and abroad.

On a global level, the world reads about trigger-happy Blackwater “security contractors” mowing down civilians in Baghdad, the U.S. military killing unarmed people under loose “rules of engagement” in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the CIA “rendering” suspected Islamists to secret prisons or to third-country dungeons where torture is practiced.

Inside the United States, too, a police-state mentality is taking hold. After more than six years of having dissent against President George W. Bush equated with disloyalty, police from Capitol Hill to college campuses are treating vocal disagreement as grounds for violently “taking down” citizens, while bouncers at campaign rallies hustle away prospective hecklers and police preemptively detain protesters or stick them in faraway “free-speech zones.”

On Sept. 17 at a University of Florida public forum with Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, journalism student Andrew Meyer asked an animated question about Kerry’s hasty concession after Election 2004...

Overseas, it now appears that Bush has authorized “rules of engagement” that have transformed U.S. Special Forces into “death squads,” much like those that roamed Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s identifying “subversives” and murdering them.

full article

Remember also, that Bush can designate US citizens as "enemy combatants." Where will it end? I shudder to think.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

William Rivers Pitt, did he lose his mind?

I May Have Gone Insane
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist

Wednesday 19 September 2007

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
- Robert Frost, "The Secret Sits"

It is a legitimately demented phenomenon, all the more so because it all started with a joke. Not even a funny joke, either, but a sad and threadbare thing I told only to myself, and no one else. When the clustered elements of our collective national burden erupted in masterfully synchronized bedlam, as they so often seem to, I had that joke to tell myself, and it may not have helped much, but it was there.

Every time another cacophony of freshly minted lunacy was unleashed - lunacy regarding Iraq, the NSA domestic surveillance program, White House defiance of subpoenas, timorously flaccid performances by the Congressional majority, or merely when enduring the repeated "nukyalur"-ized butchery of public political rhetoric was required by my employers, all of which emphatically pegged the needle on my Pandemoni-O-Meter - I had that joke to tell myself.

The joke is spherically terrible, i.e. bad in every possible direction in three dimensions and across 360 rounded degrees. It isn't even a joke, really, which may be why it went so abruptly and bewilderingly sideways on me months ago. The joke, to be embarrassingly honest, is more like some half-bright mantra than anything else. As I came to discover, however, it managed to settle my mind when the needle was in the red. Perhaps the thing is best described as my self-generated Zen koan; though it did not actually stop my mind in proper koan fashion, it kept me from putting my head through the wall, and that made it valuable indeed.

The joke: people say Bush and his people want to raze the core nature of the country itself by wrecking the Constitution, and they're correct. People say Bush and his people are enriching their friends beyond dreams of avarice at our actual expense, by way of war-inflated oil prices; war-captured Iraqi oil infrastructure; the orgiastic plunder of Treasury money through calamitously unsound tax cuts for Bush's pals; and through an Iraq war profiteering scam so unutterably corrupt that it bends the very light. That, and more besides, is what people say, and they're correct.

for the rest of the article (Which is excellent) http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091907R.shtml