Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions and I’m already worked up.

Feeling old, slow, painfully aware of arthritis and the need to retire while I can still enjoy life, I’m learning that the things that keep me fired up or worked up are not unhealthy nor as dangerous as dealing with the bureaucracy full time every week.

I will retire within the next 18 months and anticipate that rigid, inflexible, arbitrary and self-promoting government work will become a thing of the past.

In the meantime  and after I’ve reached escape velocity from that kind of work, I believe I’ll thrive on good old fashioned “irate-i-tudes” that will keep my heart pumping and my vital signs aroused.

So my resolutions for 2010 include needed behaviorally healthful objectives and more moderation in every aspect of my own dietary and exercise habits that tend to make me feel worse.

(1) Weight loss for my own good.

(2) Less sugar, cookies, brownies, etc.

(3) More exercise if possible after med provider evaluates my knees. I’d hate to have to build a swimming pool in my living room. But … if necessary …

Then, in the area of good mental health, sustained mental arousal.

Starting with working my way through a new USA Today Crossword Puzzle every day. You can buy a book of 200 puzzles from Amazon or B & N.

They say that stuff like crossword puzzles, sudoku and other mental games help the mind avoid senility and perhaps even the dreaded “A” word.

Of course, I get a lot of positive relaxation from Farmville, Cafe World, and Camelot on Facebook plus positive interaction from most Facebook friends.

So with the mind and body under preventive maintenance procedures I can proceed with causes that keep me aroused, alive and motivated:

(4) Agitate, agitate, agitate.

For starters, for critical thinking and awareness of how we as a society tend to be distracted by “sparklies” while letting the important decisions slip away from us.

Critical thinking is what keeps a living thing alive in many cases … except when living things only think in front of the TV or while listening to snake oil pitches on talk radio.

(5) Agitate agitate agitate.

CIVIC PARTICIPATION is not an elective; is not something you can honestly say is not “your thing” and especially is not something you avoid assessing and discussing because it divides people and cancels family reunions.

What was called “civics” for me in high school in the early 1960’s emphasized process so much that there was little appreciation for what town halls really were and why citizens need to take citizenship and civic participation seriously.

I think that’s why gun-toters who “carried” openly to town hall meetings this past summer totally missed the civic points of the Bill of Rights;  thinking that the 2nd amendment could be used to intimidate and suppress the exercise of the 1st amendment. That kind of gun –toting was not the act of brave patriots as much as an action of politically manipulated citizens who were led to believe that patriotism supercedes civic responsibility.

As we tend to trust our country to political celebrities, we have learned that political celebrities – like Hollywood and sports celebrities - for most part are all alike – shallow, not-too-informed in the wisdom stuff but gifted in smiles and winks that win the hearts of untold millions of non-critical thinkers.

We underrate civic participation at our own peril. If you die because you cannot afford health insurance, the immediate cause might be the lack of insurance, but the primary cause will be the common lack of civic participation driven by critical thinking and assessment of mis-information presented as absolutely and reliably true and factual.

If you did not do something to try to vote a better candidate into office than the celebrity fool who eventually sold you down the river, then you flunked the civic participation test didn’t you.

(5) Agitate, agitate and agitate as to why citizens should consider liberals and liberal thinking as anti-America. This has been one of the most significant and deadly political games played with partisan alacrity you have ever known in your lifetime. It magnified itself into an effective political tool from a minor political talking point in the late 70’s and early 1980’s.

Today millions have bought into the lie that liberals are out to destroy America, sell out the American way of life, and deserving of either being driven out of the country or executed. They don’t admit that literally of course, but when  civically ignorant souls declares with prideful arrogance that he or she will never vote for another Democrat or imply that Obama as a “liberal president” is someone to be looked down upon, you know they have become drunk on snake oil.

I’ve seen a talk show host manipulate a political gathering in the reddest of red states –manipulated in such a way that made me turn away in embarrassment for a whole society living in ignorant bliss; a whole society that actually thanks such celebrities for keeping them in the dark and – feeding their mushroom minds nothing but sh*t.

I resolve to advocate for liberal politics and liberal religion.

(6) And finally … agitate, agitate, agitate and become obnoxiously obstinate in asking why this country needs upwards of 800 military installations globally.

Obstinately asking justification of the shallow political celebrity is same as the wise action taken by Captain Kirk in “The Undiscovered Country” when he asked the thing that pretended to be God why God needed a starship.

We need to ask the powers that be and those that wannabe why America acts imperially.

If we are not an empire then why do we have our political, military and economic fingers in so many foreign pies that do not require our involvement?

If we are not an empire why do we have such a bloody imperial foreign policy history?

If we are not an empire and our bloody imperial foreign policy history is misunderstood, why have we killed so many more innocent global human beings than “guilty” global soldiers?

Mark Twain has become someone for whom in recent years I have become an ardent admirer and someone who for me has become a legitimate role model – if at 63 old guys are still allowed role models.

Twain was a member of the Anti-Imperialist League. If you look at the original roster of members you would be surprised at who also were members.

They all asked why but were shouted down by those who thought military might and patriotism were better for this country than civic pride and global responsibility driven by that civic pride.

I’ll be driving down the roads of advocacy outlined above.

If you don’t agree with me and are reluctant to discuss why, then hide with the Bushies when you see me coming so you won’t show up in my headlights.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AVATAR ... if this teaches something good about pantheism, then I'm all for it.

When "true" religion makes its appearance we don't necessarily have to run for the cover of the big inerrant book.

NYT OP-ED Columnist Ross Douthit: Heaven and Nature

"Today there are other forces that expand pantheism’s American appeal.
We pine for what we’ve left behind, and divinizing the natural world is an obvious way to express unease about our hyper-technological society. The threat of global warming, meanwhile, has lent the cult of Nature qualities that every successful religion needs — a crusading spirit, a rigorous set of ‘thou shalt nots,” and a piping-hot apocalypse.

At the same time, pantheism opens a path to numinous experience for people uncomfortable with the literal-mindedness of the monotheistic religions — with their miracle-working deities and holy books, their virgin births and resurrected bodies.

As the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski noted, attributing divinity to the natural world helps 'bring God closer to human experience,' while 'depriving him of recognizable personal traits.'

For anyone who pines for transcendence but recoils at the idea of a demanding Almighty who interferes in human affairs, this is an ideal combination." - Ross Douthit

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I just found out who I am

Got this from my friend Tony

Old Cowboy

Ya think you have lived to be 71 and know who you are, then along comes someone and blows it all to the dickens...

Old Cowboy
An old cowboy sat down at the Starbucks
and ordered a cup of coffee.
As he sat sipping his coffee,
a young woman sat down next to him.
She turned to the cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life breaking colts, working cows, going to rodeos, fixing fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy.'

She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women.. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women.

When I shower, I think about naked women.

When I watch TV, I think about naked women.

It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a man sat down on the other side of the old cowboy and asked, 'Are you a real cowboy?'

He replied,

'I always thought I was, but I just found out  I'm a Lesbian.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

I can’t believe I was so wrong about healthcare reform!

Before all you liberal democrats decide those conservative republicans against socialized medicine don't know what they're talking about read these five horror stories out of Canadian Health Care: Thanks to my Facebook Friend Valerie Tarico for gathering the stories:

Canadian Health Care – Five “Terrifying” Testimonials

I married a Canadian, which got me, among other things, some pretty awesome Canadian in-laws, a bunch of friends who think hockey is actually worth watching (not for the same reason I do, which is to nerd out on the fascinating phenomenon of mob psychosis), and two kids who are fiercely proud of their dual citizenship.   It also got me a window into the Canadian health system, that bloated bureaucracy of ill-repute which for some bizarre reason provided my father-in-law with an implanted defibrillator and solid, timely medical care during his final years.

Canadians, in my experience, follow American politics more closely than Americans do, and some of them even sign themselves up for my  mailing list.   So when I sent out my latest lament, “Ode to Health Care Reform:  An Absurd Poem about Absurdities,” one of the things I got back was a testimonial from the Middle America of the Great White North:

As a Canadian, I have comfort in the system being provided even with its imperfections. I lost a wife to breast cancer. All the treatments (diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation) cost me NOTHING. I am willing to pay an extra tax so I and others can benefit from health care.  May I sadly add that what the US has spent on recent wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) can build a nation? It is obvious that those who have less or no voice to voice are not on the 'to do list' of political leaders.  – Ibrahim Sumrain (Edmonton, Alberta)
Reading Ibrahim’s note, it occurred to me that maybe we should expose our own Middle America more to the horrors of the socialized medical system under which our northern neighbors suffer out their shabby lives of quiet desperation.  So, I solicited a few more comments from acquaintances and friends.

Dorthea Hangaard (Sointula, British Columbia)
Ten years ago I required surgery to have fibroid tumours removed.  Because I live in a remote community, I was concerned I would end up in a rural hospital under the care of a second-rate surgeon.  The Canadian health care system allowed me to choose my surgeon (I found a top-rated surgeon), and the hospital (I chose a teaching hospital in Vancouver that I knew would be well-resourced).  Not only that, but my compassionate surgeon allowed me to extend my stay in the hospital because I had to travel such a great distance to get home again.  While in the hospital, I received the best care available, including radical new procedures not readily available elsewhere. 

All of this cost me nothing more than the small monthly premiums I have been paying in to the medical system since I began a career (those on a low income are exempt from paying premiums).  To this day I feel overwhelmed with gratitude whenever I think of the experience.  Canadians can't even grasp that people are refused medical treatment in the U.S. because they cannot afford it.  --
Bill Jamieson (Mayne Island, B.C.)
At age 76, my dad had an abdominal aneurism, and, down the road, complications related to that aneurism ultimately killed him.  If we were in the US and didn’t have health insurance the amount of care that my father received probably would have cost a million dollars.  He had the provincial specialists working on him.  It didn’t cost us anything.  He was being fed through a TPN line through his neck, a liquid diet.  It costs a thousand dollars/day, and he was on that for at least a month.

Most of the interventions that were done on Dad were like rocket science.  They were the same techniques that would be done in a top hospital anywhere in the world.

He got timely care.  His surgery was scheduled based on his ability to respond to the surgery and his strength at the time.  We felt that his original surgical date, last spring,—if it was in the States it would have been done sooner, but it didn’t need to be done sooner.  That is one of the differences between the US and Canada in my mind.  You can get surgeries done faster in the States.  But if you have a crisis there is no delay.

This fall, on a hunting trip with my brother, it became apparent that Dad was very sick.  In the last surgery my dad had, he had three vascular surgeons, two anesthesiologists, a bowel surgeon and a kidney surgeon working on him over a period of thirteen hours. They were incredible. The ICU team was incredible. I would like to stress how compassionate the care was all the way through. There was real caring that was part of the reason he survived as long as he did. 

Gloria Lee Clark (Vancouver, B.C.)
Anna’s experience:  My sister Anna was at a climbing gym and fell over 25 feet.  She managed to break her left femur and hip, smash her left heel, ankle and wrist, and break her right ankle in 2 places.  She was taken to the local hospital where she was promptly x-rayed and diagnosed.  She was in the hospital for 4 weeks and had a total of 4 surgeries to repair all that was broken.  After she was released from the hospital, there were nurses, physiotherapists, and doctors who made house-calls to care for her.  When she was able to leave the house she went to the hospital’s out-patient physiotherapist twice a week for many months.  A year later she had to have a 5th surgery to remove some pins that were bothering her.  Except for the rental of some of the equipment she needed; hospital beds, wheelchairs, etc. her entire care was covered by our Canadian medical system.  As horrible as the accident was, and no she will not fully regain all her strength and flexibility, she had the best care possible at the cost of her regular monthly MSP (Medical Services Plan).

My experience:  Nine years ago I was pregnant with twins.  I was under the care of an Obstetrician and had monthly ultrasounds.  At 30 weeks the ultrasound revealed that I was 1 cm dilated and was promptly hospitalized and placed on bed rest, apparently the best prescription for avoiding pre-mature birth. I spent 5 weeks in the hospital under the care of a team of nurses and doctors.  At 35 weeks the doctor determined that the babies needed to come out as they were not growing at the expected rate.  After their birth I spent 1 more week with them in the hospital, and they stayed for another week.  Between me and the babies there was a total of 7 weeks of hospitalization.  The total cost for me was zero.  Was it absolutely necessary for me to have stayed in the hospital for 6 weeks I will never know.  What I do know is that I have 2 beautiful healthy children and I would never have been able to afford the cost of the hospital care had I not had the Canadian medical system supporting me.

Kent James (Toronto, Ontario)
My dad waited exactly 9 weeks after deciding that he wanted a knee replacement. My son has been treated for asthma since he was 18 months old. My mom is type 2 diabetic. None of them has ever had to wait for anything. None of them has ever had to worry about who would pay for anything. And none of them wants to pay a few less dollars in tax for the privilege of taking on those risks and responsibilities.

The Canadian system isn’t perfect.  Do people die there from oversights or botched care?  Of course!-- just like they do—to borrow Bill’s words—in top hospitals anywhere in the world. But what is more terrifying, apparently, to half of our senators, is that our northern neighbors’ government-managed semi-socialized system works.  In fact, for most people most of the time, it works great.  Oh, and did I mention the premiums? Dorthea’s costs her $54/month. (“[It] gets me EVERYTHING I need. The best care I can arrange for myself. I choose the doctor, the hospital, my treatment.”)  Anna’s is $114, for a family of four. That’s Canadian.


Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington.  She is the author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth, and the founder of

Note:  This article received 275 comments at the Daily Kos including more interesting anecdotes from Canadians and history of the Canadian health care system.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I might be a “liberal”, a “conservative” or merely willing and able to speak up. How would you know?

From Gibran:

Once there ruled in the distant city of Wirani a king who was both mighty and wise. And he was feared for his might and loved for his wisdom.

Now, in the heart of that city was a well, whose water was cool and crystalline, from which all the inhabitants drank, even the king and his courtiers; for there was no other well.

One night when all were asleep, a witch entered the city, and poured seven drops of strange liquid into the well, and said,

“From this hour he who drinks this water shall become mad.”

Next morning all the inhabitants, save the king and his lord chamberlain, drank from the well and became mad, even as the witch had foretold.

And during that day the people in the narrow streets and in the market places did naught but whisper to one another,

“The king is mad. Our king and his lord chamberlain have lost their reason. Surely we cannot be ruled by a mad king. We must dethrone him.”

That evening the king ordered a golden goblet to be filled from the well. And when it was brought to him he drank deeply, and gave it to his lord chamberlain to drink.

And there was great rejoicing in that distant city of Wirani, because its king and its lord chamberlain had regained their reason.

We live now more than ever before in societies that emphasize conformity in many more aspects of life. Somewhat driven by our fast-developing yet rapidly changing technology which itself is grounded in consumerism and materialism, it seems implied that the more we conform to what everyone else has and does, the more we are supposed to be able to function and interact with each other appropriately.

Although it is perfectly acceptable to be in agreement with someone else’s definitions, is it acceptable to not apply our own critical thinking as to whether value judgments based on someone else’s magic are adequate for us?

When we consider our own personal state of being, do we automatically compare our own “success” with the “success” of someone else?

Do we compare our own job, wealth or possessions with that of someone else – and find ourselves wanting?

Do we measure our own spirituality and sense of religion with some “attitudinal norm” commonly supported within our society?

Are such comparisons the most efficient way to stop for a moment, look around to see how we are doing and whether or not we are satisfied?

and finally from Mark Twain:

“A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This is the only definition necessary because it covers all forms of use of patriotism as motivation.

How is American Patriotism different and noble compared to anyone else’s national patriotic sense?  I would be genuinely interested in any successful, cogent, well-argued rebuttal to the following quote. The rebuttal must also demonstrate that drinkable bathwater comes from American flag wavers who use patriotism as a political tactic.

Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our time, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment in the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the honest workingman.

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others. – Emma Goldman

Oh, and it won’t be sufficient to merely attack Emma Goldman for her politics. Political leaning does not make one’s point of view more or less legitimate except when there is a choir involved.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Merry Christmas in times of scarcity

Ode to not taking a vacation right now:

My case load, after a week off,
would be too far behind.
The end of the first day
back at work
would leave me
ready for another
week's vacation.

I am asked: Will there be some time when that logic does not apply?

I don't know anymore.

Our governor just chopped our budget - which had been reduced by almost 50% - by another 20%.

In my small office there are three and one part-time case workers and a lead worker.

The governor has to cut the budget in order to conform to legislated budget rules and flat out declared that because she does not agree with the budget decisions she was forced to make, she will push to raise taxes and try for a new budget if the legislature goes along with it.,

Meanwhile, the population in this rural county is not shrinking nor is the need - which of course has not been reduced by 50% and then another 20%. In fact, more are coming in because circumstances in the cities are worse than coming back to the rural home to depend on parents and other relatives.

Possibly, in 18 months when I reach 65, I will retire from a circumstance worse than what awaits me Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rumi: Say I am You

I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.
I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of stone, a flickering in metal.
Both candle and the moth crazy around it.
Rose, and the nightingale lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift, and the falling away.

What is, and what isn't.

You who know, Jelaluddin,
You the one in all, say who I am.
Say I am you.

The “un-American” Amish. Fox News needs to look into this.

In a meeting with an Amish Elder the conversation went something like this:

"The English (i.e. non Amish) think it very strange that your community does not permit telephones, credit, pneumatic tires on vehicles, paint on your houses, electricity or even curtains on your windows.

Why are these not permitted?"

The Amish elder responded with a smile,

"Well, if we had telephones, we would call one another on the wire and we wouldn't take time to visit in our homes.

We don't have credit because we think usury is wrong and if we buy something on credit, it really doesn't belong to us.

If we had pneumatic tires, we would drive by a neighbor's house at 50 mph and wave at them when passing as they sit on the front porch. In a horse and buggy, we stop and visit as we pass their house.

Without electricity, we are off the grid and not dependent on people we do not know and we like the more relaxed pace and ambience of lighting the oil lamps in the evening.

If we began to paint our houses, we would begin to compete on whose house looks better, creating conflict in our community. As it is, keeping our houses and barns clean and in good condition and good work is sufficient for contentment in our lives.

We don't have curtains on our windows because we have nothing to hide from our neighbors.

This way of living gives us a sense of freedom from things."

Genuine mimicry of an American genre

Remember when Godzilla first showed up using – despite zoom-in and zoom-out camera tricks - what looked like a doll knocking over the old Kener toy buildings with that classic howl? Then all those sequals, Destroy All Monsters, Mothra, King Kong versus Godzilla and Rodan?

I don’t remember reading or hearing anything involving a read-between-the lines commentary on Japan’s relationship with America nor Godzilla as a subtle message to American global theology.

If you are a reader and willing to consider the length and depth of a long essay, I recommend the essay linked below regarding a recognized and awarded Korean Film that came out in 2006 entitled The Host.

The dangers of biosecurity: The Host and the geopolitics of outbreak 

The Host blurs the distinction between the monster and the society it ravages. From its inception the movie asks: Isn’t South Korea playing host, arguably against the interests of its citizenry, to the U.S. military and to foreign investors who have no interest in the nation’s social fabric?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fond memories of Doofus.

This current surviving generation of Reflublicans ... proof of what happens when you take yourself too seriously and then open your mouth.

Makes me fondly recall some of the stuff that came out of that Texan's mouth over the previous eight years. My interpretation of Dubya's thinkin:

They have a saying in Texas ... and I'm sure it's out here somewhere in the Payloose or someplace else ... "fool around me once and ... er,"

"fool me around once or twice ... er, "

"fool around with me or my wife ..."

Oh what the heck ...

Concepts are fungamental ... you don't need to go read no phillysophicles books or dial-a-prayers to figure out the basic stuff.

If this Socrater guy and Aristophupperlips came into the bar where I'm drinking and start spoutin all that foreign-illegal-Greekable-immigrant talk, I'd know how to put em in their place ... me and my brush-cuttin chain saw.

you dang intellechal's are presickley the reason why statecraft and good governance should come out of the end of a beer bottle and not some dang misoverestimated thespiaknickers class at UW or them other Kudzu-League schools.

You know which ones I'm talkin about - those schools where lots of thinking gets done but ain't none of them won a Rose Bowl in my lifetime.
Your's Truly from me 'n George,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My wife’s living will

Shades of Terry Schiavo, death panels and last wishes.
This has been making the rounds but I just saw it yesterday. It’s worth posting again.
Last night my husband and I were sitting in the living room. I said to him,
“I NEVER want to live in a vegetative state.
I NEVER want to be dependent on some machine.
I NEVER want to be dependent on fluids from a bottle.”
If that every happens, just pull the plug.
So he got up, unplugged my computer and threw out my wine.
He’s such an ass …..

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is where they who puppet for lobbyists come from

This is the basis of Republican civic and economic understanding of what America is. It's why business lobbyists throw money around in amounts much greater than what we as citizens can offer.

When Corporations are Persons under the Law

Timidity masquerading as wisdom

We watched Defiance this past week ... on Jewish resistance in Poland and Belorus during WWII.

There's a scene toward the end when a Nazi falls into the hands of the Bielski (Jewish) Otriad.
One prominent member of the Otriad leadership who previously self-labeled as an "intellectual" could not bring himself to execute the Nazi to protect the camp who could ill afford to keep or feed him.

While the rest are cursing the Nazi and crying out for revenge the intellectual tries briefly to extract a promise from the Nazi that he will not reveal the location of the partisan camp.
His timidity is overruled by the members, not the leadership of the camp.

Under no circumstances would the Nazi have not betrayed the Jews had they let him go.

Demo leadership cannot keep any process moving forward by cheap talk and false platitudes to some sort of bi-partisanship.

Either we have leaders of genuine courage and spunk ... or we are stuck with civic intellectuals who will keep arranging deck chairs.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On speaking up and speaking out: The value of original thoughts.

Someone else’s magic is not what cooks well on your stove.

You are moved to get involved but are not fully informed on the  specifics behind why you are aroused or motivated to join in the debate.

In the absence of doing your homework, you let someone else give you talking points and acting points … things you can say or do that at first glance seem to work for you. 

You don’t question, search, ponder or pray … you just start talking and acting according to someone else’s coaching.

Like so many who appear in the sensational stories of broadcast media … you don’t fully know or understand what you are talking about.

By merely mouthing someone else’s opinion (which honesty requires you acknowledge rather than pretend that you thought of it yourself) you remove all doubt as to whether or not you know what you are talking about.

Take it from someone who has by experience learned that fact the hard way.

Do your homework before you open your mouth or write your piece.  Study things out in your mind, take time to learn and understand what you want to speak to … and admit when you have mis-spoken or written something that is not true.

Then compose your own expressions of how you feel. No matter how well or poorly you speak and write, the more you write and speak, the better you’ll get at it.

Let real honesty govern what you say.

Your honesty.

Not the grandstand honesty coached by someone telling you how.

Ponder this quote from a sitting American President in 1958.

“It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.”  *

– Dwight Eisenhower

Writers will tell you that if you want to learn to write, start writing and keep writing.

For example, there is no better way than to find opportunity to stay engaged in writing about an issue than to start a blog,  write frequent letters to the editor, or contribute in other venues of writing that will be seen by the public.

Want to speak out effectively? Stay calm, poised and try not to shout and sputter saliva at the object of your attempted persuasion. It takes a bit of practice but in reality, what is needed is a sufficient number of activities in which you say what you have thought out. You can be angry, express yourself in strong terms, throw in sarcasm, satire, criticism … whatever. Just work on staying cool when you do.

Speak and write, write and speak … enough small successes to generate confidence.

Mostly however, research your subject.

You’d be surprised to realize how many in a crowd will sense how ignorant you are about the issue  and see through you to realize that you are verbalizing someone else’s words.

The best example of that are the older persons supposedly objecting to government involvement in health care but who add to their objections a demand, “… and don’t touch my Medicare!”

One line of verbal or written silliness – revealing more ignorance than wisdom – causes more loss of impact among those who listen to you and sincerely want to know than any mere extra-marital scandal involving a politician with whom you agree.

People are more persuaded by well-thought-out and well-expressed original thoughts than any stump speech or slogan offered over and over again.

A lie is an un-original thought masquerading as truth.

A lie is a slogan without conscience.

At the end of the road, a lie is Commodus stabbing Maximus in the back but then failing in the arena while attempting to fool the crowd.


* Ike's Other Warning - max Blumenthal

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The single most important political issue of our generation.

A moral issue of extreme applicability - (and no it's not the favorite whipping horse of religious politicians)

If you read or see nothing more today, at least watch this from Lietta's blog, Widely Read.

I'd even suggest subscribing to Widely Read

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More from the vicious puke right-wing broadcasters pretend is patriotic American conservatism

 What follows exemplifies how civically handicapped we as a participatory society are.

“Obama wants to rebuild New Orleans. Build it and they will come. They? The debris that Katrina chased out.”
- talkmaster Neal Boortz  

Neal Boortz, American Conservative Philosopher Broadcast Blowhard via Think Progress:

“Boortz has also called the overwhelmingly black, poor victims of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans “human parasites” and “deadbeats,” even suggesting that a victim of Hurricane Katrina consider prostitution instead of “sucking off taxpayers.” Although Katrina’s devastation cost this nation $80 billion, killed thousands, and displaced a million people, Boortz believes “Katrina cleansed New Orleans.”

Not only do we desperately need a legitimate two or multi-party system, we need two or more legitimate political and economic philosophies.

American “conservative” broadcasters sing a very limited Johnny-one-note tune that affords very little intellectual substance to citizens who consider themselves politically conservative but not politically nuts.

Other than subscribing to conservative think tank mailing lists, conservatives don’t seem to have any sources of legitimate size and popularity where a non-partisan advocacy of conservative principles gets espoused.

Some might think Boortz is a minor player whose words, like those of “God hates fags” Rev. Fred Phelps, are the ravings of a minor player. However in the broadcast of hate business, in terms of audience,  Boortz seems to be behind only Michael Savage, O’Reilly, Hannity and the great Oz himself, Limbaugh.

All of them of course will make their dough by keeping angry white males angry and feeling persecuted.

True … Obama was elected because a genuine American majority got mad, turned off the reality shows, car races and games, analyzed their wallets and bank accounts and took their anger to the polls.

But Obama was not elected by voters whose prime motivation was hatred and prejudice against white males and fundamentalist self-righteousness hypocrites. There was no need for that.

Broadcast liars like Boortz, Hannity and Associates accomplished that task for everybody by turning their audiences into perceptual villains.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Republican Joe McCarthy was wrong. He self-destructed in front of God and everybody.

In the early 1950’s his opponents didn’t stop him, were in fact intimidated by him. As my friend Jason Osgood pointed out yesterday, Joseph Welch, who finally challenged McCarthy on national TV was in fact – like Joe McCarthy - a Republican attorney.

Welch asked McCarthy to justify his tactics and behavior as both were aware that a large national audience was watching.

If someone comes to meeting and releases a foul flatulence that drives everyone else out of the room, perhaps the best antidote is not to try to out-fart or attempt fart-suppression. Rather tallow those for whom the offender befouls the air see, hear and smell the act in the absence of outside attempts to deflect or redefine the action and odor.

Seems to me that if you try to shield others from the smell, your own shield will absorb so much of the smell that any who encounter your shield will notice that it smells just like the original offenders.

Therefore the perception is possible that there must not be any difference between the farters and the shielders.

Is this a time and opportunity to give them all the rope they need?

Cause a rich American capitalist says so, that’s why.

I see where the CEO of Whole Foods is defending the health care-as-commodity idea, equating support for it as some sort of national moral duty based somehow on "personal responsibility" (his words.)

Suggestion I guess is that American civic duty to support what in reality is a pretended capitalism is in fact limited to our country's welfare capitalism. I do not see how his arguments could be expanded globally in a common humanity context.

Bottom line for this captain of industry is the spoken or unspoken conviction is that America is above the rest of the world and hegemoniacally entitled to a different set of standards than anyone else on the planet.

Which I guess means that Earth is America's planetation.

not the Limbaugh nonsense that seems the only authorized uniform for any and all Republicans

I read Joe Klein's latest magazine essay on

how Republicans have become nothing more than  nihilists (although I've been aware of that word for a long time, I've never understood it well enough to use in a sentence.)

In my perception the current tactics of opposition to health care reform seems more like bomb-tossing anarchy where the objective is not to come up with useful alternatives - absolutely not at all - but to simply and violently be opposed to anything not connected with Republicans or the junior high level philosophy proudly miss-spelled and miss-pronounced currently as conservatism.

What Goldwater and more recently John Dean discussed is not the Limbaugh nonsense that seems the only authorized uniform for any and all Republicans active today.

For the more prominent party hopefuls who are not fools a la Palin, (for example Romney) have to remain quiet, keep to themselves and venture not out of their lairs.

Their pointed silence speaks louder than any speech they could make. The proof of their political cowardice in not challenging Flush Limbaugh for the soul of conservatism is the deafening silence.

The current crop of wolves are of the "were" type - are in fact more like relentless badgers - and nobody safely dances with them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Brian Baird and Apologies

The local Republican Party published an article in the Pacific County Press in which they demand an apology from Brian Baird for his remarks about disrupted town meetings with “ lynch-mob and brown shirt tactics.”

Most who have read my writings over the years understand that I am for the most part an opinionated old guy with a tendency to make no apologies. Contrary to the opinion of certain American traitors who've worked hard to convince America that "liberal" is a dirty word - unpatriotic, dangerous, despicable, or socialistic, I remain willing to advocate for liberal as well as conservative positions in which I believe.

After the last two election cycles, I backed away from lots of writing. At 63, I want to retire as soon as possible from my full-time job at the local welfare office in South Bend. 

That's right, the welfare office - where a day doesn't go by without older American residents of our county coming in seeking any kind of relief from medical expenses that take larger and larger bites out of their fixed income. 

It’s also the office where younger Americans come in - not asking for a welfare check - but to find out if there's any kind of help with medical expenses. They don't want a government hand out. They seek a way to keep their families safe. And they are not seeing or hearing any constructive ideas from reform opponents, especially the current minority party, it's willfully propagandistic leadership and its public broadcast shills who are all talk and no solution.

I may not be the county expert on health care reform, but I'm willing to bet that short of medical professionals, I see the problem more closely and with more clarity than most citizens nationwide who have gone to town meetings scared, worried and nervous. They seem to feel that way because they are driven by outrage and fear inspired by the disinformation and outright lying that has come out of desperate Republican political organizing, coaching and talking point tactics.

That those outraged are constituents same as me is not something I challenge. I expect them to attend the meetings. But if they come to just constantly rant in a loud voice with pointing fingers while offering nothing else and stopping everyone else from participating, I take exception.

I’m impressed with original thoughts. Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm old, slow and gab a lot, but I know a purpose-driven talking point when I hear one and immediately grab my wallet.

I also read a lot and look stuff up when I stumble into something interesting or scary. If we get scared or worried, that last thing we should do is lazily let someone else tell us, “Don’t think. I’ll tell you what to think.”

But that’s what we are seeing. I don't need talking points from Keith Olbermann any more than we need words pronounced with pretended wisdom by Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity.

As for Brian Baird, this excellent US Representative does not owe anyone in the 3rd Congressional District an apology unless he has personally insulted or sullied a specific individual by name. To my knowledge he has done nothing of the kind. 

I also suggest that Nansen Malin, Pacific County Republican Party Chairwoman and Republican 3rd District Co-Chair owes all voters in the 3rd District an apology for assuming that we are stupid and gullible. Nansen should be ashamed for trying to BS young and old voters who aren't going to keep buying the current lemon no matter how often you change the tires and repaint the fenders.

Let me share something personal with you. If I stopped working at the welfare office today, my monthly medical insurance payment to cover my wife and me would be over $920 per month. That's where we have come over the past decades for not giving a damn about economic politics on the national level.

So leaving employment with a mortgage coupled with almost $1000 a month allocated to free market medical capitalism is the best we can do for each other in this country?

Do I owe it to my doctor who chose his vocation based on the assumptions of not merely making a living, but a living that buys a house that overlooks Willapa Bay with a mortgage possibly double the size of my monthly income? Is granting him his wish while quietly and without protest spending all of my pension on my own shelter and medical expense somehow showing patriotic and civic consideration for the economic realities of economic health care capitalism?

Do I buy into the idea that my $900-per-month extorting insurance company can rob me as a reasonable and undisputed right to economic profit in any or every area of life?

There are those who try to say that it’s not that simple.

I disagree, the solution IS that simple. What makes people step away from it is that it can be hard and ugly – well an ugly and hurting hardship to those least vulnerable by virtue of income or prosperity that is based on health care as a commodity.

If we can see health care as a commodity, can we agree that defense is a commodity since the intent is also citizen safety and well being? Can we then agree to stop that sort of government spending and subsidy on weaponry, systems and personnel that is done outside the norms of free-market competitive capitalism?

What about our recent historical decisions to consider the need for other public necessities and well being as commodities? Deregulation … how has that worked out for us?

This is where we’ve arrived with our stupid ignoring of and allowing the evolution of the non-democratic notion that health care is a commodity; that business has a right to put a price tag on health care and offer it only to those who can pay.

So we are capitalists and don’t understand that health care is not the same as access to the cars for which we paid the going market value years ago and in many cases will drive around until they are too broken down to run anymore.

If health care is a commodity, will we have to shop around for used health care because we can’t afford the newest market version?

If we shift gears, alter our basic assumptions about what is the best and most effective definition of common good, who will be hurt by backing away from corporate capitalism and moving into universal health care, universal education, and adequate universal housing for all citizens?

The lobbyists may lose their jobs. But then they might be grateful that the thousand dollars or so that they have to pay from their possibly smaller incomes will no longer be an expense their new job has to cover.

Health care and insurance workers may lose their jobs and have to look somewhere else to provide for their families. Was that ever a concern to corporate capitalist sociopaths who laid off workers and destroyed pension funds with impunity?

I’d rather we have to find ways to help unemployed former health care workers find work than keep dumping over half my retirement into a system that doesn’t care for us at all.

Lies and noise aren't going to help us and that's all I can see from political opposition to health care reform.  I think we will better take care of each other by telling the reformers not to back down.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who would you rather have patriotically protecting your country?

The Greatest American Hero shown here (doesn't he look like that reluctant gladiator who pee'd on himself standing in front of Maximus in the movie?)
... or the Mighty Siberian Attack Cat, Doofus, shown below?


If I could create an organization based on broadcast integrity, trustworthiness and honesty …

I’d call it Murrow, Cronkite and Associates.

There is nothing laudably “conservative” about what we are hearing and seeing from this gang.


There aren’t any “highest-good” motives or principles behind what this crop of republicans are doing on the national stage.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

How is the Bible useful If I can't take it Literal?

A Sunday Sermon from a lay preacher

It is not necessary that the bible be the inerrant and absolute word of God written by prophets through His inspiration.

Is the main value of the Bible similar to how water wings are valuable to a child learning to swim? Is not a rigid restriction of the use of the Bible to literalism willing one's self to remain in the shallow end of the pool?

... splashing around fearfully in stagnant water - afraid to move into the deeper water of spiritual religion and swimming with God as Jesus swam.

Does not biblical literalism base one's own spiritual life on someone else's magic - that of another human being who is no more authorized to speak for of of God than you or me?

Without wandering into areas of dis-belief or denial of God, has not theological research into the Old and New Testaments reflected an understanding that what was written was the work of mortals endeavoring to express their understanding and perception of God? For example in most theological schools and seminaries a common understanding is that the book of Genesis in its phrased and structural form is in fact a hymn to God and not a literal recitation of the specific acts of God. That is the reason for the repetitive "and it was good" phrasing at the end of each creative act of God.

If we realize that the earliest compilations of scripture - a "bible" if you will - were compiled by human beings who had collected the spiritual writings and were not the prophets who wrote them, we can see that books left out of both the O.T. and N.T. reflect a rejection of writings not in harmony with specific partisan theological priorities.

But the quality of some of those rejected writings is tremendous and nowhere will you find any writing by any of the early fathers that defends what was included and what was excluded without a justification of the growing common orthodoxy.

After having come to love scripture under the controlling tutelage and programming of the fundamentalist church of my younger years, my on-going bible study beyond those early years began to illuminate conflicts in doctrines and other absolutes adamantly proclaimed by that specific church as innerant and divine.

The Protestant Reformation - in which protestors literally yanked the bible from out of Catholicism's controlling hands and read it for themselves - formed alternatives to catholicism founded mostly on the same evolved doctrines that first came into being under the Roman Empire-sponsered catholicism. The reformers insisted on retaining an acceptance of what the mother church had told them the bible was.

These are spiritual, intellectual and academic reasons for my not accepting the bible as an inerrant word of God that somehow survived all the tampering, manipulation and redaction of scripture and somehow came through millenia unscathed.

However, that the bible contains the mind of God as conveyed spiritually through a reading of scripture with a sincere heart and real intent is what matters to me.

That the bible contains the not-to-be-tampered-with and traditional commonly and privately accepted interpretations that brook no deviance is not something I believe.

Nor do I believe God expects me to use the bible in such a limited fashion. How then is the Bible useful? In thousands of non-literal ways such as:

A better way than literal reading ...

"This Book from the first word to the last is the authentic Word of God. All other claims are false!" Ex:34:27: And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

Seeing this verse in this context was a pleasant surprise for me because in the past I just marched right past it. Pleasant to me because I am understanding that the LORD wants his words written to become a means of communicating the tenor of his words.

Tenor for me means that the written words of God are to be read and understood in context of the spirit of the law more than the letter of the law.

Deut:28:58: If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;

De:28:61: Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

The context of Deut 28 is a promise that if Israel is obedient they shall be blessed temporally and spiritually. If disobedient they shall be cursed, smitten and destroyed. The assertion of the idea of fearing God or God's name has resulted in a myriad of literalist constructs that address redefining "fear" in a historical context that equates fear with love toward God.

Whether they admit it or not, those who make that equation depart from absolute literalist interpretation but do so wisely, recognizing that literal translation of words from one ancient language to modern English can be hazardous.

For me then the usefulness of Deut 28:58 lies in understanding the promise of temporal and spiritual blessing rather than the literalist meaning which in reality proposed a God of extortion who says "do things my way or I'll whack you!"

The Isaiah quotes from Chapters 43 - 47 appear to assert for Boanerges that God is The One. Beside God there is no other. God is the author of our existence

I personally think that Job 40 and 41 - which include a rebuking of the attempts by Job's critics' to define Job's religious fallibility - and Proverbs 8: 22-36 are a much more powerful assertion of God as the source than are the Isaiah passages.

Neither the Isaiah verses nor the Job and Proverbs verses assert that God expects a Letter-of-the-Law approach to life.

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

To me this verse is Jesus telling me that whether one reads "word" as scripture or Jesus himself, the essence is that the seed is personal knowledge ... a seed planted by Jesus and/or available to be found for planting from scripture.

The seed/word is a personal knowledge of one's relationship to God and comprehension of how each child of God fits into the scheme of mortal existence. This could be used to define what it means to be born-again as well. Do we not speak of the same thing from two different but ultimately harmonious perceptions?

That personal inner knowledge is vulnerable to being lost - not because some "devil" comes and "steals" something that is thriving within - but because inner knowledge is something not static; something continually responding to the experiences of life.

The inner seed grows and develops according to it's nourishment; a consumption that includes some outward things (temptations to actions and ideas) that Jesus said elsewhere could defile one within.

Rev:22:18-9 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

If one uses this verse to justify an inerrant Bible with correct but inflexible religious formula, then I can only say that I do not read it and reach the same conclusion.

Relating the Revelations quote to the previous Luke quote, this "book of life' is truly a book of life that contains the "seed" which should be planted within. Tampering with the book is severely condemned and in the light of the Bible's containing - as Exodus reads above - the tenor of God's words, most certainly would we hope that over the course of the past 2000 years someone did not alter or change the text in any way.

I disagree with any implication that this Revelations quote forbids me from trying to understand Revelations according to how I understand life. If so forbidden, then most certainly we would have a scriptural source elsewhere in the Bible that explicitly and specifically defines all meanings as the official formula by which any exploration of scripture and doctrine is based.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"the select few who actually get it done."

Part of being wise in terms of civic wisdom is to realize that throwing out a gang of crooks last November was only half the job. The need to remain engaged in all directions of reform before the new crew becomes the same old gang is the only way to avoid having government reform devolve to "so-called-government reform"

Best and most recent commentary about this was on Bill Moyers' show last night. Click here to read the entire article


Some Choice Words for the 'Select Few'
by Bill Moyers and Michael

If you want to know what really matters in Washington, don't go to Capitol Hill for one of those hearings, or pay attention to those staged White House "town meetings." They're just for show.

What really happens -- the serious business of Washington -- happens in the shadows, out of sight, off the record. Only occasionally -- and usually only because someone high up stumbles -- do we get a glimpse of just how pervasive the corruption has become.

Case in point:
Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of The Washington Post -- one of the most powerful people in DC -- invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the

But CEO's and lobbyists from the health care industry were invited, too, provided they forked over $25,000 a head -- or up to a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy get-togethers. And what is the inducement offered? Nothing less, the invitation read, than "an exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will get it done."

The invitation reminds the CEO's and lobbyists that they will be buying access to "those powerful few in business and policy making who are forwarding, legislating and reporting on the issues...

... there is such a great disconnect between democracy and government today, between Washington and the rest of the country.

According to one poll after another, a majority of Americans not only want a public option in health care, they also think that growing inequality is bad for the country, that corporations have too much power over policy, that money in politics is the
root of all evil, that working families and poor communities need and deserve public support if the market system fails to generate shared prosperity.

But when the insiders in Washington have finished tearing worthy intentions apart and devouring flesh from bone, none of these reforms happen.

"Oh," they say, "it's all about compromise. All in the nature of the give-and-take-negotiating of a representative democracy."

That, people, is bull -- the basic nutrient of Washington's high and mighty.

... This week, the public interest groups Common Cause and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that,

"According to lobby disclosure reports, 34 energy companies registered in the first quarter of 2009 to lobby Congress around the American Clean Energy and
Security Act of 2009. This group of companies spent a total of $23.7 million -- or $260,000 a day -- lobbying members of Congress in January, February and

It's happening to health care as well.

... Enter "the select few who actually get it done."

Three out of four of the big health care firms lobbying on Capitol Hill have former members of Congress or government staff members on the payroll -- more than 350 of them -- and they're all fighting hard to prevent a public option, at a rate in excess of
$1.4 million a day.

... That's how it works. And it works that way because we let it. The game goes on and the insiders keep dealing themselves winning hands. Nothing will change -- nothing -- until the money lenders are tossed out of the temple, the ATM's are wrested from the marble halls, and we tear down the sign they've placed on government

-- the one that reads, "For Sale."

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at
BTW: Wendell Potter:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Republican Mindslingers Against Health Care Reform get what's coming to them

Next time the uninformed claim that health care in Canada is worse than here, call them on their gullibility.

Via Crooks and watch the video

(Video courtesy of Hillbilly Report)

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich absolutely tore it up today on Capitol Hill. In this video he is questioning Dr. David Gratzer of theManhattan Institute. One need only read the title of Gratzer's new book, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Healthcare" (complete with forward written by Milton Friedman) to know what side of the debate he was on.

Gratzer was there to spew lies and right wing talking points about the Canadian health care system, but Kucinich wasn't having any of it. As always, my hat goes off to Dennis! You can watch the entire CSPAN video here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What did we really get when McCain chose Palin?

I'm in agreement with this assessment from Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Not a Vote of Support

Sarah Palin, says David Frum, "quit to cash in. Her admirers can excuse anything, but to the much larger audience of non-admirers, Palin will look a lot like those CEOs who wrecked their banks and the national economy while accepting huge bonuses for themselves personally. John McCain's slogan in 2008 was "Country First." Palin's in 2012? "I seen my opportunities, and I took 'em."

I said when this first came down the pike that it seemed far the most likely conclusion, since the bow-out was so obviously rushed, that Palin was resigning ahead of some big scandal coming down the pike. But I confess that now I'm not so certain of my initial judgment.

Palin of course has tons of scandals. But if a game changer was on the way, one she had to drop out of sight so quickly for, I think we'd have heard something about it by now. And she's hardly dropped out of sight. Not that I'm counting out the possibility by any means. I'm just not so sure.

Maybe it really was just that she suddenly got tired of the accountability thing. Or couldn't wait the eighteen months left on her contract to start shoveling up the dollars.

As I think a number of others have said, I've always thought Palin's character was essentially that of a grifter. And when these folks blow out of town after a con has run its course, it's usually a pretty hasty exit.

So maybe it all makes sense.

--Josh Marshall

Monday, July 6, 2009

Civics lesson on citizenship equality?

The legal definition of a corporation in the U.S. allows lobbying of OUR representatives in a corporation’s own self interest.

,,, just like individual citizens can do.

But the playing field is not level. A corporation as some sort of legal entity can pour its own resources into lobbying cash that becomes essentially the cost of doing business.

see below … how many citizens could spend over $1.4M per day lobbying for their well being? How many citizens in joint effort would it require to sustain that kind of bribing of the government?

Tain’t fair and the the playing field is not level.

Health Care Industry Spending Over $1.4M A Day On Lobbying

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On Sarah Palin quitting her job

If any prominent Republican were to quit the job in the middle of the battle as an effort to help constituents, it would not be Mrs. Palin.

The hotter kitchen is in California but Arnold has yet to give up. I’m not supporting any party for reasons of  political p\reference, but I will say that even though Arnold Schwartzeneger can’t run for president, his modeling of an executive who stays in the kitchen is more attractive than what we saw this weekend.

Health Care reform through the eyes of those who already enjoy the benefits.

No amount of conservative corporate-lobbied blather can address the not-so-awful truth that is so well illustrated in today’s article.

How long must we all go before we realize that business does not have any “right” to offer medical insurance or medical treatment as a commodity available only to those who can afford it.

LA Times, 07/05/09

Britain's National Health Service: Simple, Sensible and Civilized

A former NHS patient has some advice for Americans skeptical of single-payer, government-run healthcare: You'll get over it.

by Clancy Sigal



For the first couple of years I lived in Britain, I was an illegal immigrant from the United States, visaless with an expired passport and looking over my shoulder all the time. Even so, from the very first day I arrived at Victoria Station in London, suffering from bronchitis, I was accepted in the NHS -- the national health scheme, we called it -- no questions asked and no ID required.

After I'd become a legal resident, I asked my doctor why he had taken me, almost literally off the boat, with so little fuss. Weren't foreigners a drain on his time and the National Health Service? He shrugged. "If you come here with a contagious disease, we don't want you infecting the rest of us. So of course we give you medical care. Purely selfish on our part."

For three decades I used and, being of a hypochondriacal nature, exploited the British medical system without paying a farthing except for the taxes taken out of my wages as a working journalist. And that single-payer, socialistic, government-run, bureaucratized, heavily used, nationalized health system served me -- and 50 million others -- very well. In need, I saw many doctors, with no money ever changing hands. There was nothing to sign, hardly any papers to shuffle. My primary-care physician ran his "surgery," his office, with the help of only one receptionist whose job it was to arrange appointments.

… Recently, the American Medical Assn. responded with skepticism to President Obama's plea for healthcare reform. In Britain, too, the massed ranks of the medical profession at first fought bitterly against a "socialized" service covering all from cradle to the grave. But Labor's health minister, a firebrand from the mining valleys, Aneurin Bevan, brought them into line with a mixture of enticements and threats.

The NHS was, and is, a classically English compromise, in which individual doctors are independent contractors paid by the government according to the number of their patients. Doctors are free to remove patients from their list, and patients are free to go elsewhere. Once ideology was laid aside and the system got working, it was actually quite simple.

Once launched, in an astonishingly short time, a matter of a year or so, the NHS was accepted by even its worst enemies -- the doctors and the Conservative Party -- as indispensable and a civilized way of dealing with life, illness and death.

Does that sound so awful?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Old Fatty explaining about manipulating minorities opens up his own worn out playbook.

From the third hour of last Friday's daily Flush Limbaugh radio hogwash:
Flush speaking to a caller about racial minorities in this country who are angry.

"They're taught that they've been cheated. They're taught that they've been discriminated against.
They're taught this country is unfair.
They're taught this country is unethical.
They're taught that this country is discriminatory.
They're taught that this country is immoral and unjust.
-- anger got them where they are, and to stay there they have to stay angry.
-- it's dangerous because they are inspiring anger in those who support them."
Yep ... for years old Rush has worked over his own angry minority ... gullible white men.

As someone already angry in the late 80's and early 90's, I used to driver around Portland and Vancouver pounding my steering wheel while listening to Rush explain to me what was supposedly wrong with this country.

I did that for 0h, maybe six months. Then like what happens after you've read maybe 5-6 Louis L'Amour western paperbacks, I realized that Rush was limited in his plots, his themes and his style.

He had no solutions ... only ways of making me stay irrationally mad.

His quote above describes to a T what he, Squawk Hannity, Fracture O'Reilly and local yokels Lars Larsen have been doing for years for a buck or two.

Or good old All-American cry baby paper patriot Glenn Beck ... but shallow pretend patriots is a topic for another post.

I'm an angry white man all right

... and also an angry military veteran who served - unlike Flush, Squawk, Fracture and Beck the bawl baby

... angry at anyone still gullible enough to swear by what the snake oil guys keep selling.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On Judges With Agendas & Senators with no conscience.

It seems only reasonable that we immediately and retroactively hold sitting Supreme Court Justices to the same standards according to the judicial oath as we hear the non-loyal opposition party pretend to a statesmanlike and Constitution loving reverence for the rule of impartial law.

Judge Sotomayor owes no one an apology for an old statement that reflects the very process by which the most recently approved and currently sitting judges were evaluated and approved by an extremely partisan U.S. Senate that cared little for equality and blind justice.

Today’s arguments and pretended wisdom belching out of the entire Republican apparatus continue to prove why we hired the right guy in last election but still have to continue to fire an entire Party.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Waterboarder Cheney is the kind of American we did not and will never need.

This video should be required watching for anyone who thinks Hannity & Associates know what the hell they’re talking about.

Via TPM and this link

This out from MSNBC ...

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on tonight's "Countdown" pledged to donate $10,000 to charity after disc jockey Erich "Mancow" Muller was waterboarded today on live radio, in an attempt to prove the technique was "not torture." After six seconds Muller said it was "absolutely torture" and that were he to be interrogated by the use of waterboarding he would "confess to anything." Olbermann promised to donate $10,000 to the charity Veterans of Valor, founded by Sgt. Klay South, who administered the waterboarding to Muller today, and withdrew his offer to Sean Hannity to make a donation to the charity of his choice if he followed through on his offer to undergo waterboarding.

If you haven't seen the Mancow waterboarding, you can see the full video here. It's powerful on a number of different levels.

Required Reading: What you eat ain’t what you is.

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now via Alternet

with Michal Pollan "Don't Buy Any Food You've Ever Seen Advertised"


Amy Goodman: Energy, healthcare, agriculture, climate change, global outbreaks like swine flu—what do all these topics have in common? Food. That’s right, none of these issues can really be tackled without addressing some of the fundamental problems of the food system and the American diet.

Well, my next guest is one of the leading writers and thinkers in this country on food. Michael Pollan is a professor of science and environmental journalism at University of California, Berkeley, author of several books about food, including The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and his latest, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, which just came out in paperback. ... Let’s start with the latest news over the last month, swine flu. How is that connected to industrialized agriculture?

Michael Pollan: Well, we don’t know for sure yet. We’re still kind of investigating. But the best knowledge we have is that this outbreak came from a very large industrial pork operation, pork confinement operation, where, you know, tens of thousands of pigs live in filth and close contact. And this was in Mexico.

And, you know, it’s very interesting. Last year, eighteen months ago, the Pew Commission on animal agriculture released a report calling attention to the public health risks of the way we’re raising pork and other meat in this country. And they actually predicted in that report—they said the way you’re raising pigs in America today creates a perfect environment for the generation of new flu pandemics, basically because once you get that mutation, which sooner or later is about to happen, it very quickly—you have ... so much genetic material coming together, so concentrated, and then so many pigs can catch it, and ... we’ve created these Petri dishes for new diseases. And here we go.

Goodman: And what has been the industry response?

Pollan: Oh, the industry response and the media response, by and large, is not to pay attention to that part of the story. We haven’t gotten a lot of investigation of, well, exactly how do these things evolve and how did these conditions contribute to it.

The other angle, too, is that, you know, as we bring any pressure to bear on American animal agriculture, the tendency is going to be for it to move to Mexico. And indeed, that appears to be the case here, that these are American corporations who have to escape any kind of environmental regulation, have moved their confinement, animal operations, south of the border.

Goodman: Explain how these animal operations work.

Sunday Morning Contrariness

If Concerned Women of America is against it, I’m for it.

CWA is the creation of the religious right, principally the wife of Left Behind author Tim LaHaye, Beverly.

I’m on their mailing list with a hope that something they me will fire up a writing mood. Today, cleaning up my back-up email, I’ve been prompted to do 2 things so far:

(1) Reply to one alert by sending them an email with a comment that their issue is silliness.

(2) Send a letter to the National Institutes of Health – as CWA asked – but not to oppose Stem Cell guidelines expansion but to convey the opposite opinion to what CWA wanted me to say.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Discredited Tavern Blowhards

The folks in this small coastal county don't talk politics too frequently except when the setting is comfortable - like when that kind of talk invites a sip or two of liquid spirits.

Like in the Elk Snout Tavern nestled among the trees on a quiet beach setting looking out on Willapa Bay.

Here there's more tavern customers who voted Democrat than did Republican but fewer who talk about it. Among the fewer who voted Republican and talk about it, there's not much credibility left.

There's still a few - both young and old - who seem permanently lost in that specific so-called tired "conservative" philosophy pretending to old fashioned values but what in reality is nothing more than manipulated anger.

If you remove the manipulated anger, there's not much substance to tavern arguments in support of a view against health care reform that includes a generous dose of what manipulators insist is socialized medicine.

If you remove the manipulated anger, there's not much substance to tavern arguments in support of a foreign policy that depended on big business driven expansion at the point of American military guns.

If you remove the manipulated anger, there's not much substance to tavern arguments against what have become minority religious viewpoints regarding God versus Politics.

If you removed the manipulated anger, you have removed all the old leading lights of a political party and what masquerades as "conservatism" reduced to tavern trouble-making - the sort of thing that used to arouse more suds-sippers but now annoys or bores the hell out of everyone in the room.

The manipulated anger-mongers sit in corner booths barely a few wrong words from being kicked out of the tavern on their asses.

The majority of voters last year hired a new guy and a new team.

The new guy and new team are showing a more vast and comprehensive interest in and sense of managing the family enterprise than the previous hirelings.

The previous hirelings were constantly interested only in hanging around the national cash register while pretending to be tending to business in all directions.

They failed badly. Their party, which set out on a course of national failure and betrayal decades ago when they betrothed themselves to the god-talkers, has nothing of substance to offer.

If as they say we still need a two-party system, the GOP is not one of the parties we need now.

You'll not find cogent nor well thought out counter plans, a genuine economic philosophy or governing perspective from among these old guard tavern blowhards still pretending to governing wisdom while refusing to be part of the solution.

All we're left with is cheap talk, cheap gestures, and childish strategies that assume a national gullibility or disinterest that is no longer prevalent and clear cut.

Cheap talk, cheap gestures and childish strategies.

Obama and team may not have all the answers, but in their shop they're working on the right priorities.

As far as the romper room tea-party crowd ...

We have better things to do with our time and more interesting places in the tavern than the single booth in the corner where they sip stale beer, munch on the same old buffalo chips and weep about how much they love their country while cashing their sponsors' ill-gotten paychecks.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Would you buy a used car from Dick Cheney? Would you seek treatment from a "Dick Cheney" doctor?

Although Dr. Dossey is pointing a finger at his own colleagues, I also see this as how an inadequate and naive leadership that makes the assumptions and justifications offered by the likes of Cheney, Rice & Associates shoves the "do-no-harm" backbone of our own national wellness system into the same dark and filthy pit they themselves have deliberately entered.

Larry Dossey, M.D.
Where Were the Doctors? Torture and the Betrayal of Medicine


When most Americans think about torture, they imagine that it is practiced only by rogue regimes in third-world countries. Since April 2004, when a flood of photographs flowed from Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, we have learned otherwise.

The world now knows that torture and the dehumanizing treatment of prisoners is routinely engaged in by our country. And to the shock of many, including myself, we also know, largely as a result of Dr. Steven Miles' courageous book, that medical personnel have often been complicit in these activities. Miles describes six ways in which medical personnel collaborate with torturers.

"Some examine prisoners to certify them as capable of withstanding harsh interrogation.

Some monitor and treat persons during interrogation so that health-endangering treatment may proceed.

Some conceal evidence of abuse, either by designing nonscarifying techniques or by ensuring that medical documents or death certificates do not record injuries.

Some conduct abusive research. Some oversee the systematic neglect of prisoners' needs for health care, sanitation, food, and shelter.

Many keep silent as their imprisoned patients are abused."

This may sound like a non-lethal list of grievances against medical personnel until one looks at actual cases. Miles describes specific instances of torture and homicide in American prisons in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

These cases are not for the lighthearted. Many are gruesome, reminding one of medieval torture procedures used during the

The strappado is an ancient form of torture in which a victim is suspended by means of a rope attached to his hands, which are tied behind his back. It is also known as reverse hanging or Palestinian hanging, because of its use by Israel in Palestinian territories. It is believed that Machiavelli was subjected to it during his 1513 imprisonment after he allegedly conspired against the Medici
family in Florence.

It was also used by the Nazis at Auschwitz concentration camp.

It has reemerged in American-controlled prisons in the Middle East.

When you think about the implications of the Cheney/Bushco attitude regarding torture, you have either a total sociopathic mental health state for an entire Republican era

... or you have a huge element of panic based on irrational thinking.

Was that the desired brand of wise governance we were trusting to keep us safe?

Think about it because this applies even to those non-prominent fellow citizens and neighbors who are willing to tolerate torture as either some sort of justifiable Jack Bauer silliness ...

... or the equally absurd notion that only Americans cannot be violated. Everyone else on the globe is fair game.

Leaders, fellow-citizens and neighbors of that mindset won't hesitate to come for you if they get into some irrational panic state about you as opposed to their own extreme and irrational notion of jingoistic patriotism masquerading as citizenship and love of country.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How is Obama ever going to be inclusive and be president to the nation if he keeps displeasing self-appointed authors of his election?

"He turns his back on people who have nowhere to go politically but to support him," Nader says. "And that's a very bad sign."

Sign of what, Ralphie?

Doesn’t matter whether its Nader, Daily Kos, Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow or Move

I also worked to help put Obama in office.

I also don’t live on a street where only exclusively dogmatic liberals share the hydrants. I want to be partnered with all my neighbors in working toward the common good.

Won’t happen unless someone at the level of Barack Obama can succeed in bringing more together than catering to a group of folks who think they own the definition of civic duty and correct governance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hannity willing to be waterboarded for charity?

Gosh ... ain't that the most impressive public statement about the horrors of torture.

Glad he's willing to do it. Course ...
it won't amount to much unless he does it for charity 186 times

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Much more useful information and things to learn than what we saw in Charlie Wilson’s War.

Link of the week

Tom Englehardt: The Empire v, The Graveyard


“When it comes to the neocon architects of global Bushism, hubris remains a weak word. Breathless at the thought of the supposed power of the U.S. military to crush anything in its path, they were blind to other power realities and to history. They equated power with the power to destroy.

Believing that the military force at their bidding was nothing short of invincible, and that whatever had happened to the Soviets couldn't possibly happen to them, they launched their invasion. They came, they saw, they conquered, they celebrated, they settled in, and then they invaded again -- this time in Iraq. A trillion dollars in wasted taxpayer funds later, we look a lot more like the Russians. “

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Uninformed opinons on Immigration: I agree with this commenter at Seattle

Article written by Examiner Chad Shue.

Excerpt from commenter Ray A. follows:

Then there’s your reference to the Heritage Foundation. Ya’ know the old saying, “liars figure, and figures lie”? That adage has been shortened over the years. Its original verbiage was, “The Heritage Foundation figures, and its figures are lies.”

Now you know the source of the distortions that Lou Dobbs blathers during his TV tirades.

Eighty-five percent of eminent economists surveyed have concluded that undocumented immigrants have had a positive (seventy-four percent) or neutral (eleven percent) impact on the U.S. economy.

“Undocumented immigrants actually contribute more to public coffers in taxes than they cost in social services. Moreover, undocumented immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy through their investments and consumption of goods and services; filling of millions of ‘essential worker’ positions resulting in subsidiary job creation, increased productivity and lower costs of goods and services; and unrequited contributions to Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance programs”

The GAO concurs.

Link of the day: vegetarian opportunity

Kathy Freston at Huffington Post


If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

● 70 million gallons of gas--enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Seems to me that Spain is only being true to the Bush doctrine

"we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." - G. W. Bush, American War Criminal


I for one refuse to support harboring terrorists. If it ever comes to a vote, i vote to extradite George, Dick and Donald whereever there's a country of courage willing to prosecute terrorists.

If we have in our recent past outsourced terrorist torture via rendition, we can certainly - in the tradition of corporate outsourcing of all our moral values - outsource justice for terrorists by letting Spain and others do our job for us.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Think I’ll ever again be an AIG customer?

Only if it were forced on me.

I do know where I’ll get the paper to start the next fire I build.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Reflublican Party: failed American leadership

The failed Republican approach includes the pitiful public relations failures of Flush Limbaugh, Squawk Hannity and The Fracture O' Reilly. They have all now childishly teamed up to become a significant part of the problem with no relationship to the solution.

Consider the following Reflublican advocacies and failures.

Fighting the war on terror while remaining strictly stuck with the Republican Tax Cut Experiment.

Fighting a war on terror that no longer has logic, common sense or any kind of national success story attached toReflublican methods.

Figthing a war on terror with an eye single to how to incorporate strategy and tactics in such a way as to create exceedingly lucrative opportunities to corporate supporters the party. Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater are liabilities that proud Reflublicans cannot hang their electoral hats on.

Halliburton represents Republican disaster-handling at it's stupidest - borne out by the same approach to Louisiana and post-Katrina rehabilitation.

Republican child-abuse ...
The national debt reflects an abusive act this country's Republican leadership has committed on our children and grandchildren. The Republican Party is the current grand perpetrator of long-term child abuse in this country by inflicting a financial burden and the consequences of selfish opportunism on our innocent posterity who at their age have no voice of their own. More than anything, Reflublicans treat our children as economic assets over whom they assume they have comptrollership.

Lack of health care and opposition to universal health care is part and parcel of the conservative myth about a free-market system going back to the stubborn in-denial theorizing of failed capitalists of the 1920's.

Then, post -WWII - it was assumed that capitalism and American employers could shoulder the responsibility for health coverage for all American workers and prove to the world the wholesome power of unrestricted free-markets where capitalist employers would willingly include health care and other well-being benefits in the "cost of doing business" prior to making claim on net profit.

That assumption has proven to be a disaster. Corporate America - primarily a Republican sponsor that rewards political sacrifice of personal ethics with money - has been left at a competitive disadvantage globally and unable to resist the temptation to become competitive by robbing workers of both job and health security.

This circumstance involved both parties going back to 1946, but most recently, those who finally managed to purchase political influence have moved the problem to its extreme absurdity.

The Medicare Prescription Drug problem as resolved by blind, stubborn and foolish Republican politicians is a disaster and can be unequivocally laid at the feet of every politician claiming to be formally Republican.

Medicare D which is so unwise, one-sided and profit-driven is PRECISELY what being a Reflublican stands for.

Republicans no longer have a sensible alternative to what Americans are demanding now. "Conservative" is a word that even self-styled conservatives can no longer accurately define. Self-describing one's self as "conservative" is at this moment not much more than calling one's self a "cowboy" or some other heroic self image that implies deep thinking. There is little deep thinking at this point to the current dominant "conservatism."

We are not hearing serious, deep or well-reasoned conservative ideas from the Limbauhs, Hannities, Boehners, Gingrichs or even discredited idiots like Tom Delay.

The recent disaster who labeled himself the "education President" but who, despite the compassionate self-label, has left children behind, imposed terrible burdens on public schools, and failed to provide the necessaries to make his compassionate promises come true.

Prime Republican bread and butter is the distraction of the pseudo Christian morality that makes political mountains out of molehills at the expense of that with which any religious believer ought to be most focused: Compassion, justice and equality.

Any Reflublican blowhard who throws up one of the pseudo "moral" issues needs to be immediately confronted with a question about torture, injustice and inequality inside America and globally.

"That's nice, Mr. Reflublican, but what does your personal morality prompt in you regarding torture, injustice, inequality and the lack of compassion your party and your radical religious right supporters ignore so pointedly?"

We can knock down the entire facade of the Republican party's pretended patriotism, conservatism and regard for humanity in general because it was built on bull, bluff, personal political chicanery and swift-bloat lies.

Let them continue to tie themselves to the Gingrich and Tom Delay recent past, George W. Bush and exhort each other to lock step non-civic opposition to doing the right thing if they cannot take credit.

Would you want such jokers teaching high school government classes?

Hell no.

The party deserves indictment and prosecution as much as the president to whom they willing joined themselves at the hip.

Both are one and the same as guilty and accountable as hell.

Doofusness; The incumbent sitting Lame Duck American President

It's a vanity issue. For Mr. Trump that means he must satisfy Mr. Hannity, Ms. Coulter and these kind folks: On Networks and ...

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