Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday Already

I have had a cascade of doctor's appointments that are not quite over. Thursday I go for the full Glucose Tolerance Test because the short blood test (A1C?) is so close to normal -- but just a touch high -- that the Doctor does not consider its results definitive. If I'm not diabetic now, it really is just a matter of time.

The sonogram did not find gall bladder problems. It didn't find anything immediately fatal or malignant -- which is good. But the blood work, ah! the blood work. Suggestive but not definitive, it is going to cost me four hours in a couple of days.

I have plenty to do between here and next weekend's convention. Company coming to stay. Work to do to ensure that we have a smooth-running event. So of course, my insomnia is breaking and I had to take about four naps today.

This is reading like a LiveJournal entry rather than a blog -- but it's what's happening now.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rock/Hard Place

Poor Gonzales!

The Information Security Oversight Office has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resolve the legal dispute over whether the order applies to Cheney's office. So far, the Justice Department has not ruled on the issue.


Can you imagine? He has been asked to decide if Dick Cheney must follow the law regarding classifying and declassifying national security issues. Cheney, of course, is suggesting that the president can't give him orders. Cheney is pretending that his office is not part of the Executive branch. Did anyone tell him that we don't have a special classification of oligarchs who can do whatever they want?

It seems that the Information Security Department has asked Abu Gonzales to bell the cat. Imagine!

Why, this would mean Gonzales would have to report on whether Cheney outed Valerie Plame by the book, or as a spontaneous act of malice! The staggering implications! Someone who will have to decide if Cheney is accountable, and possibly take flack for such a decision! The mind boggles.

Somehow, I'm not sure Gonzales has the balls.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Denial: Where We Lost

Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth;
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
-- Richard II


Abu Ghraib.

The death of honor; the death of our ideals; the ascendancy of our own liars, sadists, monsters and torturers.

What of those who tried to be heroes and make it stop? General Taguba has retired from the military. One of the things the current New Yorker article makes clear is that there were several problems; and that some of them have been pointedly ignored. The military confined its investigation to the narrow area of military involvement. No one with authority to investigate all aspects was ever appointed. Of course, we have a president who resists truth, and so the authority was never delegated in an honorable and honest fashion.

Clearly, both the CIA and contractors had much involvement and no accountability. To this day, the faceless nature of the perpetrators remains.

Moreover, the identity of the stonewallers (who blocked knowledge of the crimes from raging upward as they should have) remains shadowy. Five reports, stalled by people with no morals or ethics except CYA -- the crimes by those in our government are pervasive to this day.

An independent panel headed by James R. Schlesinger, a former Secretary of Defense, did conclude that there was “institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels” for Abu Ghraib, but cleared Rumsfeld of any direct responsibility. In an August, 2004, report, the Schlesinger panel endorsed Rumsfeld’s complaints, citing “the reluctance to move bad news up the chain of command” as the most important factor in Washington’s failure to understand the significance of Abu Ghraib.


More important than a "failure to understand" was the institutional reaction to the information about torture. Taguba was sidelined into a Pentagon job where he could be under the immediate "supervision" of people with a vested interest stonewalling. Meanwhile, General Miller at Guantanamo was protected by his superiors even as he interrogated prisoners in ways that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions.

Did they deny that the events happened? Did they merely deny people upstream from them the information? Does it matter which when those actions have resulted in a loss of the moral high ground?

For, indeed, the loss of the moral high ground started there, and it has contaminated our every word and action to this day. The uncontrolled and individualized brutality has seeped out and turned the population we supposedly liberated into a quasi-enemy entity, due nothing but suspicion, raids, arrests. The loss of our integrity is the start of a greater loss.

Congress, shown the evidence, did nothing. Just nothing. They are a disgrace to the principles of good government and oversight. Not one of them has courage where courage would count.

After 9/11 the showing of flags was pervasive. After Abu Ghraib, a lot of us put our flags away until our pride can be restored.

It hasn't happened yet.

[via Political Animal]

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Paul sings Nessun Dorma high quality video/sound



We have American Idol. They have Paul Potts. I envy them.

The Only Spending Allowed

is spending on his frickin' war, or gimmies for oil companies and tax cuts for plutocrats.

The rest of you can eat cake.

And pay.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Congressman ... and The Senator

My Congressional district used to be represented by a Republican named Snowbarger. He was virulently opposed to Bill Clinton. During the impeachment proceedings, I wrote to him telling hm to cut it out -- that lying about sex was a normal thing to do, and neither a high crime nor a misdemeanor.

He sent back a three page missive. The first thing it did was admit that over 66 per cent of his constituents who had written to him agreed with my position. He then proceeded to tell me and the other 66 percent of his activist and vocal constituents that he was going to pursue his vendetta. Mistake.

At the next election, he was replaced by Democrat Dennis Moore, who has made more gains in majority each time he stands for re-election. Congressman Moore goes out of his way to address constituent concerns, even sending Congressional studies on topic of interest!

Well.

I have a Senator named Sam Brownback. I wrote on the Medicare issue awhile back, saying that Congress should legislate to permit negotiation for lower drug prices.

Shades of Congressman Snowbarger, today Senator Brownback sent a missive telling me why he was not going to vote for any such thing. Why, did I know just how terrible for investors this idea was?? Oh woe!! You know my heart just *bleeds* for investors.

All I can say, Sam Brownback, is watch what happens when you get too frickin' arrogant. You could *easily* join Congressman Snowbarger as a has-been.

Just sayin' ....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bastards

Now here is a headline to conjure with:

Court Rules in Favor of Enemy Combatant


Talk about being convicted on the word of George Bush alone!

Al-Marri has been held in solitary confinement in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., since June 2003. The Qatar native has been detained since his December 2001 arrest at his home in Peoria, Ill., where he moved with his wife and five children a day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to study for a master's degree at Bradley University.


He moves in the *day before* 9/11 -- and *someone* decides he is an "Enemy Combatant". I really don't care what kind of contorted bullshit the government used to create that term. It is obscene, and it is an excuse to drop individuals down the oubliette with as much justice as French prisoners got from Louis.

Now look at the Government's argument:

The Bush administration's attorneys had urged the federal appeals panel to dismiss al-Marri's case, arguing that the act stripped the courts of jurisdiction to hear cases of detainees who are declared enemy combatants. They contended that Congress and the Supreme Court have given the president the authority to fight terrorism and prevent additional attacks on the nation.


"Given him the authority" -- you know, I don't think that anyone except a Bush attorney would think that throwing out the Constitution is encompassed in any "authority" that congress might grant. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that all those elected officials took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not destroy it in pursuit of illusory "safety".

Only George Bush and his trained Dementors would try such a thing. Why is he still in office? Why?

[crosspost @ Mockingbird's Medley]

Gonzales

My goodness, does Senator Schumer have it wrong:

Democrats say it's only right for senators to go on record, since five Republicans have called outright for Gonzales' dismissal and many more of the president's party have said in public comments that they have lost confidence in him.

"If all senators who have actually lost confidence in Attorney General Gonzales voted their conscience, this vote would be unanimous," said Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., who authored the resolution with Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. "We will soon see where people's loyalties lie."


No, the vote on the resolution will have nothing at all to do with where loyalties lie, and less to do with "going on record" in any meaningful sense. The vote will have even less to do with the adequacy of government and the performance of duties by the Attorney General. For a change Tony Snow is actually right -- it's all about politics, and that will make the vote a travesty. The vote will be nothing but a dog and pony show, proving absolutely about Gonzales's adequacy or about Bush's intransigence.

You'd think by now that Senators Schumer and Feinstein would know better, but noooo. This particular vote especially shows why I consider the current antics grounds for calling a pox on both their houses.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Wierd Death

A 17 year old track star died from using too much muscle rub -- or so the New York Medical examiner concluded.

Arielle Newman, a cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island, died after her body absorbed high levels of methyl salicylate, an anti-inflammatory found in sports creams such as Bengay and Icy Hot, the New York City medical examiner said Friday.


The cherry on top, however, is in the last two paragraphs of the story:

Her mother, Alice Newman, said she still couldn't believe her daughter's death was caused by a sports cream.

"I am scrupulous about my children's health," she told the Advance. "I did not think an over-the-counter product could be unsafe."


What universe is that woman living in? She has never heard of people overdosing on aspirin? Over the counter does not mean "impossible to abuse". Heck, people can die of excessive water intake. It is sorry and sad that her daughter died from using a topical preparation. It is less impossible to believe when the young lady had a mother who thinks that availability equals safety.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Shit

The police in Missouri have found a body believed to be that of Kelsey Smith.

Today when I went to the thrift shop her picture was posted on the entry door. She was local.

Like all the young women who are stalked as prey, she did nothing to invite, attract, or encourage this atrocity ... except exist and be female.

We never expect this kind of thing in Kansas, in Missouri, even though the police estimate that there are about seven serial killers operating in the Metro area at any given time. It absolutely infuriates me that anyone can be so callously terminated at the whim of some psychotic son of a bitch.

I hope they catch him and end his worthless life.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

I spent most of the last few days working on art projects. Yes, that is hard to believe. Still, it's what passes for activities in the Scorpion Hut.

This means I have been doing news blackout. Between reading, artwork, and taking enough naps to keep functioning, my days have been full.

I was sorry to see, in my few web visits, that Steve Gilliard passed on. I came very late to his writing, and I will miss him. I can't imagine how much those who really knew him and loved him are doing.