February 29, 2008

Due to the changes noted yesterday [see below] I'm finally getting around to posting this fascinating piece by that Bastion of the Right, George Will.
The Road To a GOP Minority By George F. Will --
Sunday, February 10, 2008

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Coconut Road near Fort Myers looks like any other concrete ribbon near housing developments, golf courses and shopping malls in this state's booming southwest. But like another fragrant slab of recent pork, the $223 million "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska, Coconut Road leads to somewhere darkly fascinating. It runs straight into Washington's earmark culture of waste, corruption and anti-constitutional deviousness.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush vowed to veto any appropriation bill "that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half." [Sen] Coburn [R-OK] tartly notes that although Congress hardly needs 5,500 earmarks -- half of last year's total -- the president's goal would be met if Republicans themselves quit earmarking. That fact goes far to explain the Republicans' current and future minority status.
Click here for the complete text.
On occasion, when he's not blindly following the party line, George Will even gets it partly right.

Of course, that's not the whole story.
For instance, he left out the part about condoning torture.
And we mustn't forget the wars. Or the fact that we will ask them to die for a lie but abandon the soldiers who come home maimed in body and soul and need our help. Let heaven help them. We won't.
And then there's the environment. Remember it?
And our pathetic educational and health care systems.
And sending jobs overseas in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
And the part about dirty tricks in order to get elected at any cost. Does anyone study ancient history these days? Remember the redistricting of Texas? And the more recent attempt to change the rules in California?
And changing the rules of Congress -- then crying foul when the Dems took over and imposed the SAME rules on the repugs for just the first 100 days of the new order.
And justice. As opposed to condemning Siegelman to prison for being a successful Democrat. And then, when that debacle finally comes to light, leaning on CBS to kill the story then censoring it in Alabama and Tennessee.

So, George, you were right--as far as you went. You just didn't go nearly far enough. Or do you label all those matters as needless earmarks?

February 28, 2008

Check Scattershot Thoughts for a bit of tongue-in-cheek news about Obama. And Bush's latest take on the economy. :)
My Emancipation Day

During the Middle Ages, if a serf could escape his lord’s fiefdom, make his way to the Big City [by our reckoning, any fair-sized town] and remain there undetected by his lord for a-year-and-a-day his lord could not force him to return to his enforced subsistence living on the estate. I guess whatever monarch created that law recognized that people who could meet that standard were of more use to the nation’s economy where they were rather than toiling for a local lord. After all, peasants in the towns were beholden to the king and paid taxes. Medieval kings were lots of things—but most of them weren’t fools.

Today marks that date, for me. I have officially escaped the northlands of Missouri and lo, and behold, I’ve found an amazing sea-change occurring!

1] I was the hermit’s hermit in Kansas City. I ran a private practice which did not require that I go to a central office more than once every few months.
So, after completing my training [several years after leaving school] I had little contact with colleagues. I met with clients on a weekly basis about 3 days per week either in their homes or at mine—bought groceries on the 3rd day—went home and pulled the moat in after me and that was IT for the week. I spent the rest of my time writing notes for work, doing my billings and blogging and playing on the computer.
Very rarely, maybe once every four to six months, I visited friends—at their suggestion.

Today, I have a fair-sized community outside my door and spend several days a week visiting friends, going out to eat regularly and even to a movie about once weekly [senior discounts help greatly, here.]
I NEVER used to attend movies—I waited for someone to post the best-known ones on the internet and downloaded them or bought the DVD. Most movies I never even heard of—so did neither. And, I ate at fast food places during the work week but rarely did so on weekends. I could count on one hand the number of times yearly that I went to nicer restaurants— usually carrying a book along.

2] I’m fairly certain that I’m finally getting over a chronic infection I’ve been battling since 1999. The one the docs told me didn’t exist—though I knew SOMETHING was wrong—and which was finally diagnosed by a clerk in a health food store, fergoshsakes! I’d made headway with it before but always slipped back. Somehow, now [maybe due to the increase in exercise or a change in diet or whatever], I sense real progress, happening here.

Also, the chronic back pain which I had resigned myself to and was battling with pain killers [though I feared for my liver] is subsiding. A combination of inversion therapy and increased exercise is almost certainly the reason for the change.

3] I have 2 pictures posted over my computer. One is the aftermath of an ice storm in Salina, KS that actually made the front page of the St. Petersburg Times. The other is a downloaded pic of a parka-ed, hooded figure crossing a parking lot full of cars each with about 6 inches of snow on its roof and windshield.
I find myself eyeing those photos more and more skeptically. Snow actually exists? Assuming that IS true and it’s not just some propaganda put out by DC for its own nefarious purposes, why in the world would anyone actually LIVE where such nastiness occurs? Sure, Florida has hurricanes on occasion—but we can’t be assured we’ll get several EVERY SINGLE YEAR, fergoshsakes! If that happened, I’m certain there’d be a mass exodus to places more suitable for human habitation.

So, I can come out in the open now and declare: I’M FREE FROM THE SERF-LORDS OF THE NORTH! Maybe I’ll change my name again. How does Two Crows Freedwomyn grab you? :)

February 27, 2008

This from the Huffington Post: End of a Romance: Why the Media and Independent Voters Need to Break Up with John McCain-- Arianna Huffington
What's the opposite of a "maverick?"

So McCa[i]n has backed an amendment that would limit the right to habeas corpus, has endorsed an Arizona constitutional amendment that would not only ban gay marriage but deny benefits to unmarried couples of any kind (lest those pesky gay people find some kind of loophole), and has discovered a newfound support for teaching "intelligent design" in schools.

The old John McCain once tried to take the mantle of true conservatism away from George W. Bush. The new John McCain is now essentially running to give America a third Bush term - and, indeed, will even out-Bush Bush when it comes to staying the disastrous course we're on in Iraq.

Right on time, the new McCain got Bush's blessing on Fox News Sunday: "I know his convictions," Bush said. "I know the principles that drive him. And no doubt in my mind he is a true conservative."
If you think the problem with the United States right now is that we haven't given Bush enough time to finish his agenda, then John McCain is your man.
Click here for the complete text.

February 24, 2008

The jury is back. Ralph Nader is a closet Republican.

This morning, on Meet the Press [a Republican bastion if there ever was one], Nader announced his candidacy for President. He denies, in the face of all evidence, that he spoiled the election for Al Gore. In fact, he blames Gore for the loss—not himself.

McCain is, at this moment, dancing backstage in Cleveland, Ohio, as he revels in the fact that the Democrats will, again, split their vote—giving McCain the best shot he’s had at the White House yet.

February 22, 2008

Arianna Huffington: The Right Strengthens its Hold on McCain.
The Media Refuse to Notice.

Despite an avalanche of evidence showing that McCain the Maverick has long ago been replaced by McCain the Pandering Pawn of the Party's Right Wing, the press refuses to believe its own eyes.
The latest demonstration of the enormous lag time between the presentation of a new reality and the media's willingness to update the conventional wisdom comes via those bastions of the traditional media, The New Yorker and the New York Times.
The latest New Yorker . . . portrays him as a moderate who has "the rare opportunity to reinvent what it means to be a Republican."
Let's see, McCain has bowed to the party's lunatic fringe on tax cuts, immigration, the intolerance of religious bigots, and torture... so exactly how is he reinventing what it means to be a Republican? By shortening the amount of time it takes before a candidate is hijacked by the Right, perhaps?

Don't forget, George W. Bush, circa 1999, was presented as something of a maverick. . . .
"Gov. Bush has shown time and time again that he is a different kind of Republican," [said] Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan on the campaign trail.
That different kind of Republican evaporated the moment W's hand hit the Bible on inauguration day. McCain hasn't waited that long.
Click here for the complete text.
At least it looks as if the electorate may be less likely to be taken in this time -- even if the press continues to have sequins in its eyes.

February 20, 2008

From the Washington Post:
Rocketing Toward War -- by Richard Cohen
A visit to the place where the next Middle East war will probably begin
SDEROT, Israel -- Rockets launched from the nearby Gaza Strip fall here almost daily. These Qassams are crude devices that hardly ever kill people, although they have, and hardly ever wound anyone, although recently a boy lost part of a leg. They hit with unpredictable regularity, taking a roof here, a piece of a wall there and demolishing the peace of mind of every resident. Bit by bit, Sderot is going crazy.

The next Middle East war may start over Sderot. To many Israelis, the daily rain of Qassam rockets is reason enough to go back into Gaza and eradicate the rocket-makers, the rocket launchers and the entire Hamas leadership that now runs Gaza. The call for action superficially makes a certain amount of sense. But memory rebukes: Didn't Israel just pull out of Gaza?

Yes, it did. It withdrew most of its military and all of its settlements and turned the wretched area, populated by 1.2 million mostly poor Palestinian refugees, over to the moderate Palestinian Authority. Then the PA lost an election to Hamas and the militants have been in charge ever since, permitting the incessant rocketing of Sderot and its environs. The Qassams are lofted over the high border wall, and whether they hit a school or a hospital or a cat basking in the sun is of no concern to Hamas.
Click here for the complete text.
It is so easy to demonize Israel for it's heavy handed policies against the Palestinians. I've done my share of that myself, recently. But there are almost always at least two sides to any story concerning Israel.

February 18, 2008

This from The Huffington Post:
Kristol Bawls by Ellis Weiner

William Kristol . . . has delivered of himself a paragraph. . . in the New York Times, which raises the envelope of dishonesty and stretches the bar of disingenuousness in exciting new dimensions:

'The American conservative movement has been remarkably successful. We shouldn't take that success for granted. It's not easy being a conservative movement in a modern liberal democracy....'

Especially when it's not remotely "conservative," but never mind. From the people who put the "con" in Neo-con comes the New Triumphalism: a whiny, self-pitying cry of victory as every element and detail of their project is revealed to have been a lie, a scam, a shakedown, a fraud, and a failure.
Click here for the complete text.
Awwwwwww-- Poor Billie.
One could almost squeeze out a tear for him if one weren't already weeping for the true victims of the regime he is attempting to sing the praises of while watching it finally take its rightful place--in the dustbin of history.

February 15, 2008

Congress Notices the Calendar

This email arrived today. Among other things, it said:
Bolten and Miers have ignored congressional subpoenas for nine months and thumbed their noses at Congress and the American people.
We must never cede the rights of the Congress to the Executive.
["Never"??? What else have they been doing for 13 months?]

I am pleased to inform you that today's legislation allows Congress to bypass the Attorney General (who has stated to me this week that he would not enforce contempt) and immediately take action in the courts.

Today, Congress finally defended the Constitution and our rights as an equal branch of government [emphasis mine].

Yours truly,
Congressman Robert Wexler

First, Congress is finally waking up to its dismal approval rating and the fact that this is an election year. Seeing as how the entire House and 1/3 of the Senate come up for a vote every other year, I don't know why this seems to be coming as a surprise to these folks.

and, Second, that last word says it all, doesn't it?

While I commend Wexler and the work he's been doing-- his has been a voice crying in the wilderness for far too long.
For the rest of Congress, the jury is still out, as far as I'm concerned.

February 14, 2008

The A.D.D. Election

Nora Ephron's piece in The Huffington-- Oh! Look! A Chicken!
This is the attention-deficit-disorder election. Everything is happening at warp speed. Everyone is bouncing around on the net and changing the channel. Everything is shifting so quickly that there's almost no point in trying to keep up, but I'm trying.

The other night, at a Super Tuesday gathering, I was so busy trying to keep up that I changed the channel and I managed to crash the entire cable system. It was not my fault. I kept saying that. I had changed the channel very carefully, because I know from my personal life how much trouble you can cause by crashing the system. Everyone at the party was good-humored about it. . . .

The day that was going to change everything. The day it was going to be decided. You remember Super Tuesday. It was seven [or nine] days ago. Before the loan. Before the end of Mitt. Before David Shuster said "pimping" on television. Before the Virgin Islands and Maine. Before we all realized there was no avoiding learning about the superdelegates. Before Hillary fired her campaign manager.

Why is John McCain so strangely subdued?

I have a fantasy about myself and Barack Obama. My fantasy is that he calls me up. . . .

[T]here was Mike Huckabee. Such a funny guy. . . . I would be having a fantasy about telling him to fix his teeth.
Buy orange juice.
Click here for the complete text.

February 13, 2008

John McCain Should Be Ashamed

by Carl Pope -- Sierra Club Executive Director
Washington, DC -- I have just listened to carefully coached staff members for Senator John McCain lie repeatedly about the Senator's failure to show up and vote on the first Senate economic-stimulus package, which included tax incentives for clean energy. I am in a state of shock not because of the Senator's vote, although that disappointed me, nor over his desire to avoid public accountability for that vote -- that's politics. But to carefully coach your Senate staff (I assume the Chief of Staff, not the Senator, was the author of this shameful performance) in how to mislead callers in such depth is appalling, and surprising, because it was almost certain to be found out. [emphasis added]
Click here for the complete text.
Of course he should be ashamed. But, when has McCain ever actually been ashamed?
When he went into a back room and redefined torture? No.
When he redefined 'straight talk'? No.
When he kissed Jerry Falwell's ring after repeatedly denouncing him? No.
When he called for a continuation, for the next century, of an illegal and abhorrent war? No.
When he pursued and accepted the endorsement of an illegal and abhorrent president? No.
When he not only refused to allow gays to marry but made sure only absolutely traditional marriages be allowed to take place just to be sure those pesky gays don't find a way to weasel through a loophole somehow.
When he embraced Karl Rove's tactics and accepted $2300.00 from him? No.

Please note: every one of these actions has, obviously, been 'found out' -- and McCain, apparently, does not care.
There is no hypocrisy to which it is too low for McCain to stoop if the presidency is the prize.

February 12, 2008

Iraq War Blogswarm

The Iraq war must be stopped. To this end, I add my voice.
I discovered the blogswarm on Mary Ellen's Divine Democrat. I invite all to join here.
The Statement of Purpose

This blogswarm will promote blog postings opposing the war in Iraq and calling for a full withdrawal of foreign occupying forces in Iraq. Five years of an illegal and catastrophic war is five years too many. On the March 19 anniversary of the conquest of Iraq by the Bush Administration, there needs to be a loud volume of voices countering the pro-war propaganda from far too many politicians and corporate media outlets.

1) Post a comment with your blog's title and URL. If you join up by the fifth anniversary of mass actions against the war, February 15, 2008, you will be included in the listing of "Charter Blogs" in the right-hand menu. There will be updated listings of all participating blogs in future postings here.

2) Optional: add one of these graphics to your blog.

3) Please write a post on March 19 against the war.

4) Spread the word among other people who want an end to this illegal and obscene war.

February 11, 2008

I'b tick.

But, at least I'm beginning to sit up and take nourishment-- for the first time in several days.
So, I just pulled this out of the hopper:

ELECTABILITY: That is All. Nothing Else Matters.

From The Huffington Post -- by John Neffinger

Okay people, this is a very big deal. We need to focus.

There is exactly one thing we should be talking about, thinking about, measuring and mulling over: ELECTABILITY. Who is more likely to be able to beat McCain. . . in November?

That is all. Nothing else. On health care, regulating the economy and righting the tax burden, on Iraq, on Supreme Court appointments, and on showing the world America is finally willing to repudiate our worst president ever, both of these candidates are worlds better than any GOP alternative. Either one will do. I want the one that wins. And so do you.

Or hey, if not, feel free to write in Ralph Nader in November.

Yes, they differ in theory on a small handful of issues, but they agree totally on the vast majority of issues. Their differences will be important if we get the chance to govern, but right now, most of them matter laughably little.

As for who would be more industrious or more inspiring in office, who campaigns dirty or can't control their surrogates, who snubs or cries (or even lies) or any of the other drama we have endured over the past few weeks: all of these things are completely irrelevant distractions except insofar as they shine some dim light on who might fare better between now and November.

There is a lot to consider when you try and figure out who would be most likely to prevail. Who can better appeal to swing and persuadable voters? Who can better turn out the base? Who would do better with Hispanic voters, white men, African-Americans, married women, youth, whomever? Who can better connect with people emotionally and motivate them? Who would look better under fire from the GOP attack machine? Who would do better up against the likely GOP nominee - whose narrative and character presents the more appealing contrast? Who can the American people believe in?

Just remember, folks: ELECTABILITY. That's it. Nothing else matters.
Think hard. And, happy voting.
The man makes a very good point. And, for those of you who have caucuses and primaries still pending-- happy voting.

February 7, 2008

When the Left Hand Does Right--the Right Hand Stops It
I was listening to the news on NPR the other day and I was completely bowled over. Here's the piece I heard:

It seems there’s a Veteran’s Administration in upstate New York [WAY up north, near the Canadian border] where they were actually doing something right. Well, the Army and the DoD couldn’t allow THAT!

The VA staff were actually sitting down with the veterans before they were discharged from the hospital and helping them with their paperwork so they would get whatever benefits they were entitled to as a result of the injuries they had sustained. So, those vets who had lost feet, arms, part of their brains, etc. etc., would be able to live their lives with dignity and receive appropriate compensation, hospitalization, medical care or whatever they needed.

The Army and the DoD got wind of all this [actual acts of compassion toward the members of our armed forces] and sent something called a Tiger Team to upstate New York to demand that the VA immediately cease and disist from such activities—and the VA rolled over and said, ‘Yes, Master! What the hey were we THINKING?’

When the NPR news team went to Washington and asked the Army and the DoD why they are actively attempting to keep our kids from receiving all the benefits they’re entitled to under the law, the Army and the DoD had the audacity to say, 1] they didn’t know what was going on and would look into it and 2] it’s not the place of clerks in the VA to be making these medical decisions, anyway.

Now, let’s take these assertions one at a time and see if they stand up to scrutiny:
1] They apparently dispatched the Tiger Team to northern New York. They TARGETED one agency in one county, telling them to stop what they were doing.
Apparently they used some sort of threat to get their compliance. At least, that’s what the VA told NPR when asked. They said that they acquiesced for fear that the DoD and the Army would keep the records of the New York vets under wraps and keep the affected people from receiving ANY services at all.
2] What does this statement say about all the clerks who staff the phone lines in all the major HMOs all over the country that ‘serve’ the civilian population? THEY make decisions every day about whether or not medical procedures will be allowed— often making their determinations based on whether all requirements [such as pre-approval, for instance] were secured before being seen by a specialist. So, people with leukemia have been known to die of the condition known as, ‘Red Tape.’

Oh, silly me—the primary function of the HMO clerks is to say, ‘No’ while the VA’s clerks have been sincerely trying to help our veterans get the benefits they’re entitled to.
One suggestion to those of you who live in northern New York:
What say you write your Senators and Representatives and ask them to look into this matter themselves? The agencies involved promised to check into the matter--let's ask Congress to be sure they do it . . . .

February 5, 2008

It's Finally Here. Happy Super Tuesday, Everyone--

A time comes when silence is betrayal. . . .
We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that is so close around us.

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

February 3, 2008

To Know Him Is [Not] To Love Him

This from the Washington Post:
GOP Senators Reassess Views About McCain -- by Paul Kane

[O]thers have outright rejected the idea of a McCain nomination and presidency, warning that his tirades suggest a temperament unfit for the Oval Office.

"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), also a senior member of the Appropriations panel, told the Boston Globe recently. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

A former colleague says McCain's abrasive nature would, at minimum, make his relations with Republicans on Capitol Hill uneasy if he were to become president. McCain could find himself the victim of Republicans who will not go the extra mile for him on legislative issues because of past grievances.

"John was very rough in the sandbox," said former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is outspoken in his opposition to McCain's candidacy. "Everybody has a McCain story. If you work in the Senate for a while, you have a McCain story. . . . He hasn't built up a lot of goodwill."

Santorum was a fierce advocate for the GOP's social conservative wing -- a group particularly hostile to McCain because of his apostasy on immigration and same-sex marriage -- while Cochran is considered one of the more genteel senators. Both men back Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, for president.
Click here for the complete text.
My guess is that McCain is the most likely candidate to win the nomination. But, when members of his own party who have worked closely with him don't want him as president -- we could be, to quote another president who had a certain turn of phrase -- though not as colorful as his son's, 'in deep doo-doo.'

We certainly don't need yet another president who hasn't a clue on how to compromise and tends to throw tantrums when crossed.
Just sayin. . . .

February 1, 2008

Daisy, Daisy

Tonight I saw, for the second time, a TV program that mentioned the bicycle/electricity generator. This time, I noted the name of the company featured on the show. It's called Working Bikes Cooperative. So, I got online and took a look at it.

It's based in Chicago but the website didn't mention the generators. Its primary purpose is to recycle bikes that are donated to it and ship them to 3rd world countries primarily, I guess, for transportation. Or, maybe they've branched out into the generators since the last time they updated their website. It looks to be run on a shoestring so updates may be rare.

They sell bikes locally in order to finance the donation activities. So, my thought of buying my generator from that company flew out the window. Still, I thought I'd mention it here so that folks in the area can check em out if they want to. So, if you live in the Chicago area and are in the market for an inexpensive bike, this might be a great place to pick one up.
Here's their website in case you're interested.