Friday, August 31, 2007


Oh my:

In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.

-- Fran Lebowitz

Really, really, really facing reality

Oh, my goodness. I just found an article on Common Dreams entitled "The Necessary Embrace of Conspiracy" by Robert Shetterly and I beg you to go read it all. I'll give you a couple of dynamite excerpts but this is an article that needs to be read in its entirety:

It has always confounded me every year when we celebrate Dr. King’s life that no mention is made of that Riverside Church speech in the major media. We are always treated to sound bites of the 1963 I Have a Dream speech. That speech’s oratory is as powerful as it is non-confrontational. Which is why it is re-played for modern audiences. Dr. King was about confrontation. Non-violence and confrontation, each ennobling and making the other effective. In 1967 he said, “… my country is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” And he explained how our economic system thrived on exploitation and violence, or, as Emma Goldman put it, “The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism.”

This was probably the most important speech King ever gave and not playing it when we ostensibly honor him, is tantamount to castrating him morally and intellectually. Just as there is a long history of White America castrating black men, there is an equal legacy of Elite America cutting the most important truths of our social prophets out of the history books. We pay homage to King’s icon, the cardboard cutout, but not to his strongest beliefs and his most cogent analysis of our problems — to what vision called forth his courage. And, if we think that he spoke the truth, to censor that truth is to promote a curious kind of segregation. He is segregated, not for the color of his skin, but for the accuracy of his perception, how close to the bone his words cut. We can’t bear to hear the sound of truth’s knife scraping on hypocrisy’s bone. Only people who actually want to change the system dance to that music or want it to be heard.

Equally important, and part of the same neglect, is the intentional ignoring of the facts of his death. In my talk on Martha’s Vineyard I spoke about William Pepper’s book, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, Jr. Pepper had been James Earl Ray’s lawyer. Ray was the man convicted of killing King. But both Pepper and the King family were convinced that Ray was innocent. The King family hired Pepper to represent them in a suit; they asked only $100.00 in damages to clear Ray’s name. Before the trial came to court in 1999, Ray had died in prison. The jury determined that King had been assassinated by a conspiracy involving the Memphis police, the Mafia, the FBI, and the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. Ray, the patsy, had left town before the shot was fired. Pepper had confessions from people involved from each of the organizations named. The verdict was barely mentioned in the U.S. media then and is not mentioned every year on the anniversary of his death. Why?

And now take a look at this:

America is steeped in conspiracy, and even more steeped in propaganda that discredits those who try to expose the conspiracies. Whether we’re talking about MLK, Jr., JFK, RFK, Iran-Contra, 9/11, or, most importantly, the status quo, anyone who works to uncover the truth is branded a “conspiracy nut” and discredited before any evidence has a fair hearing. The government/corporate/media version is THE VERSION. Anything else is illusory.

In fact, the cultural success of labeling investigative reporters and forensic historians, and, simply, anyone who tries to name reality, “conspiracy nuts” is perhaps the most successful conspiracy of our time. Well, not the most successful. That prize goes to the conspiracy to give corporations all the rights of individual persons under our Constitution. That conspiracy has codified and consolidated corporate power so that it controls our lives in almost every meaningful way. It controls the election funds of our candidates, and them once they are in office. It controls our major media including public broadcasting. It controls the content of our television programming. It controls how are tax dollars are spent making sure that the richest get the most welfare. It controls the laws, the courts, the prison system and the mind numbing propaganda that we are the greatest democracy on earth. It controls the values with which we raise our children. It controls our ability to dispense justice. It controls how we treat nature, how we deface our land with strip malls, and blow the tops off our mountains — a form of corporate free speech. It dictates our modes of transportation. It controls our inability to respond to true crises like climate change. It attempts to create a spiritual deficiency in every person that can be filled and healed only with stuff — and no stuff is ever enough.

I so agree with this. Now please. Please click through and read the whole article. It won't hurt you to read the parts I've excerpted over again. In fact, it will be a good thing.

I've been amazed for years now by people whom I respect in most ways but who are uncritically certain that the government's official story on everything is, without question, the correct one. If the government, media and corporate powers in colusion will devastate whole nations, if they will cause the deaths and horrible injuries of millions of innocent people, why are we so surprised that they will lie? And we know that they lie. Lies have been exposed over and over. And for some reason, the credulous mainstream seems to think, "Well, okay. They lied about those few things. But there're some lies even they won't tell." Oh really? What shred of evidence does anyone have for that?

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Paul Rogers

Paul says the following:

Tux came to visit us for a week and took over Bugs' scratching pad. It took awhile for Bugs to see that he is now much bigger than Tux and then reclaimed his pad. This is Tux in his short moment of victory.

Remembering Diana

This morning I was up really early and happened to catch the CNN streaming video of the 10th Anniversary Memorial Service for Diana that was organized by her sons. I want to link you to this article: Diana memorial service: Speeches in full

And I want to share these words of hers as quoted by the Bishop of London:

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or TB but the feeling of being unwanted.

-- Diana, Princess of Wales

Thursday, August 30, 2007


My, my. Look at what I just found:

That was rough.... Thing to do now is try and forget it.... I guess I don't quite mean that. It's not a thing you can forget. Maybe not even a thing you want to forget.... Life's like that sometimes... Now and then for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat, slam him agin' the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busted. But it's not all like that. A lot of it's mighty fine, and you can't afford to waste the good part frettin' about the bad. That makes it all bad.... Sure, I know - sayin' it's one thing and feelin' it's another. But I'll tell you a trick that's sometimes a big help. When you start lookin' around for something good to take the place of the bad, as a general rule you can find it.

~From the movie Old Yeller

How true. How very, very true. Mind you, it took me long enough to learn it but you know what they say: It takes what it takes.

Work and self

Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn

How very true:

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.

-- Dame Margot Fonteyn

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finally home and on the mend

Clyde Glandon sent me the following quotes that I think are marvelous:

*The good road and the road of difficulties you have made me cross; and where they cross the place is holy.
--Black Elk

*We are all indelibly, unspeakably one.
-- Jonathan Daniels (Episcopal seminarian, murdered in Selma, Alabama, 1965)

*Our true self is made up of non-self elements.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Readers,

I know many of you have been worried about me. I'm sorry I wasn't able to let you know that I've been hospitalized for the past week. I went in Wednesday evening and had an emergency appendectomy on Thursday. That surgery went fine. It was the aftermath that was the problem. They couldn't get me to breathe on my own and my lungs filled with fluid so I had to be on life support for three days. Then when I finally could breathe, I was very, very weak. As I write I've just been home a couple of hours.

It has been an illuminating experience. I realize, once more and with great clarity, that we are not in control. I have a renewed appreciation of impermanence and, most of all, I am filled with gratitude - both for my life and the willingness to die, for the incredibly wonderful care I have received, for the good thoughts and prayers of so many who were concerned about me, for those who visited or wrote. Prayer and meditation have been my life line, of course. Mainly I prayed for everyone who is also suffering and I meditated on the transitoriness of life. You really appreciate transitoriness when you're completely helpless!

As soon as I feel better I'll be up and running again on the blogs.

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No End in Sight

The trailer:

The report on CNN:

From a review by Michael Phillips:

"No End in Sight," which may be the best and saddest film of the year so far, has little to with the Michael Moore approach to documentary filmmaking. In other words, it comes off as factually air-tight and blessedly free of simplification. This devastating critique of the Iraq war can't, and won't, be easily picked apart by those who don't agree with its doleful conclusions. Over and over, we hear the voices of the people who knew more, and better, than their armchair-warrior superiors about what went wrong in the planning and prosecution of the Iraq regime change. The film is hardly even political; it's more about how not to run a business, and how any company, any administration, neglects the expertise of its employees at its own peril.

The distinguishing characteristics of "No End in Sight," one of the two or three indispensable documentaries yet made about the war and the only comprehensive one, have nothing to do with flash or cleverness. All writer and director Charles Ferguson has to offer is intelligence plus a measure of perspective, commodities in short supply when the Bush administration prepared, in its wobbly way, to alter history.
The questions recur like terrible echoes. Why didn't the U.S. do anything to curb the post-invasion looting? Why was the 500,000-man Iraqi army disbanded, thereby stoking a Hydra-headed insurgency? Why do so many Americans still believe there was a link between Saddam Hussein and the events of Sept. 11, 2001? Barbara Bodine, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen and, briefly, the head of the post-invasion Baghdad operations, tells Ferguson there really was no planning to speak of, anywhere along the way. It was all finger-crossing and ignorance of the factions involved and blinkered neocon ideology. Those who never liked the smell of this war will find urgent, cogent analysis in "No End in Sight." Those who, for whatever reason, did believe in it will find the same, while experiencing this beautifully argued film as a tipping point.

I think it's clear that this film is must-viewing for all of us.

How to wage peace

This is a hard teaching. But a necessary one:

The next great political unfolding for our age is a broad-based commitment to wage peace, to declare it with as much serious intent and effort as we have ever employed in the waging of war. Merely managing the effects of a war mentality -- and fear-based consciousness is at heart a war mentality -- is an inadequate response to the dangers of our age. The new politics is a kind of shamanic power that seeks to influence the world around us by becoming the change we want to see happen. Gandhi said, "We must be the change." This does not mean that we must become enlightened masters before we can have a positive effect on the world. It means, however, that our every effort to live lives of righteousness and purity as we understand it is supported by the power of God. It is in forgiving people that we release them from the darkness we might judge them for; it is in refusing to judge people that we have the most power to affect them; and it is in loving people that we heal them of the wounds that have hardened their minds and hearts. That is why a new politics is one in which our own whole person must be the world we work on first. Our meditations, our personal growth work, our prayers, our healing, and our need to forgive and withhold judgment are the things we must concentrate on first in seeking to transform the world.

- Marianne Williamson

PLEASE don't shop at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Watch sent me an email today with the following message:

Want to know the price of "every day low prices"?

Just take a look at the empty toy shelves at your local Wal-Mart.

Over the past two weeks, Mattel has recalled over 10 million Barbie, Polly Pocket, Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street toys for hazardous lead paint and dangerous magnets. Thousands of concerned parents are rushing to pediatricians' offices to have their children tested for lead poisoning.

Mattel has taken responsibility for the safety of its products, but Wal-Mart has to be held accountable as well. As it stands, you can't trust that the toys Wal-Mart is selling you are safe. As the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart sets the standard for product safety -- and by bullying companies like Mattel to produce toys and other products at bottom dollar costs, it's pushing American companies into shady overseas operations.

Tell Wal-Mart to care about its customers' health, and demand a higher quality for its products:

Maybe Wal-Mart doesn't care what it takes to get its suppliers to sell their goods at cheaper prices. That's probably why 70% of Wal-Mart's products are made in China, where quality guidelines and worker standards are less stringent.

In recent months, we've seen story after story about Chinese-made products: faulty tires, tainted toothpaste, toxic pet food, and now poisonous, dangerous toys. Wal-Mart currently has dozens of products listed on its "product recall" web page -- and those are just the ones the company has told us about.

Plus, in factory after factory that supplies goods for Wal-Mart, widespread cases of blatant illegal and unethical labor abuses have been uncovered in recent years. In light of the recent toy recalls, it's not a stretch to draw a connection between Wal-Mart's pressure on its suppliers for low cost merchandise, the problems at these factories and the safety of these toys and other products.

Please don't buy their stuff. And please speak out against their exploitative practices. Buying from Wal-Mart is "penny wise, pound foolish."

Monday, August 20, 2007

This lawless administration

Just sickening:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A02

Vice President Cheney's office acknowledged for the first time yesterday that it has dozens of documents related to the administration's warrantless surveillance program, but it signaled that it will resist efforts by congressional Democrats to obtain them.

It's from tomorrow's Washington Post - an article called "Cheney's Office Says It Has Wiretap Documents".

Notice that the article is on page 2. Now why isn't this FRONT page news????

Skip the Steak

Time Magazine has a series of 51 short articles called "The Global Warming Survival Guide". One of the articles is called Skip the Steak. Here's part of what it says:

Which is responsible for more global warming: your BMW or your Big Mac? Believe it or not, it's the burger. The international meat industry generates roughly 18% of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions—even more than transportation—according to a report last year from the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Much of that comes from the nitrous oxide in manure and the methane that is, as the New York Times delicately put it, "the natural result of bovine digestion." Methane has a warming effect that is 23 times as great as that of carbon, while nitrous oxide is 296 times as great.
Given the amount of energy consumed raising, shipping and selling livestock, a 16-oz.T-bone is like a Hummer on a plate.

If you switch to vegetarianism, you can shrink your carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to research by the University of Chicago. Trading a standard car for a hybrid cuts only about one ton—and isn't as tasty.

Really. Think about not eating meat or at least reducing your consumption. It's a good thing to do for all sorts of reasons.

Nation of prisoners

I want to direct your attention to an article called "Jailing Nation: How Did Our Prison System Become Such a Nightmare?" and show you this excerpt:

How can you tell when a democracy is dead? When concentration camps spring up and everyone shivers in fear? Or is it when concentration camps spring up and no one shivers in fear because everyone knows they're not for "people like us" (in Woody Allen's marvelous phrase) but for the others, the troublemakers, the ones you can tell are guilty merely by the color of their skin, the shape of their nose or their social class?

Questions like these are unavoidable in the face of America's homegrown gulag archipelago, a vast network of jails, prisons and "supermax" tombs for the living dead that, without anyone quite noticing, has metastasized into the largest detention system in the advanced industrial world. The proportion of the US population languishing in such facilities now stands at 737 per 100,000, the highest rate on earth and some five to twelve times that of Britain, France and other Western European countries or Japan. With 5 percent of the world's population, the United States has close to a quarter of the world's prisoners, which, curiously enough, is the same as its annual contribution to global warming.

It's a long article but a good one and worth spending some time with.


Here's something to think about:

Non-violence and cowardice go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true non-violence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness.

- MK Gandhi

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Let's swear off water bottled in plastic

Did you know this?

American demand for bottled water consumes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually just to make the bottles, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year. Add to this the green house gases emissions from the long-distance transportation of bottled water and you have a clear illustration of what rather simple behavior changes on our part can do to reduce unnecessary waste.

I still buy Perrier in glass bottles and I recycle the bottles. (It's what I drink instead of wine or soft drinks.) But I've definitely sworn off water in plastic bottles.

You might like to check out a website called Think Outside the Bottle for more information.

Naked protesters

Well, it sure got my attention. Take a look at this excerpt from a Reuters article:

Hundreds of people posed naked on Switzerland’s shrinking Aletsch glacier today for US photographer Spencer Tunick as part of a Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness of global warming.

Tunick, perched on a ladder and using a megaphone, directed nearly 600 volunteers from all over Europe and photographed them on a rocky outcrop overlooking the glacier, which is the largest in the Alps.
Glaciers are sensitive to climate change and have been receding since the start of the industrial age but the pace of shrinkage has accelerated in recent years.

The environmental group Greenpeace, which organised the shoot, said the aim was to “establish a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body”.

The protests are stepping up. And more movies are being made and more non-profit groups are being formed to address the coming catastrophe. Maybe all of that is reasonable cause to be cautiously hopeful.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The 11th Hour

Marilyn Bedford just sent me a New York Times review of the movie The 11th Hour. Here's an excerpt:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the environment, blah, blah, blah, melting ice caps. To judge from all the gas-guzzlers still fouling the air and the plastic bottles clogging the dumps, it appears that the news that we are killing ourselves and the world with our greed and garbage hasn’t sunk in. That’s one reason “The 11th Hour,” an unnerving, surprisingly affecting documentary about our environmental calamity, is such essential viewing. It may not change your life, but it may inspire you to recycle that old slogan-button your folks pinned on their dashikis back in the day: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
They whip through the pictures and the interviews fast — at times a little too fast — and keep the information flowing as quickly as the visuals. This swift, steady pace means that you receive a lot of bad news from a lot of different sources. The ecologist Brock Dolman explains, “When we started feeding off the fossil fuel cycle, we began living with a death-based cycle.” From there the topic nimbly jumps to
climate change, national security (courtesy the former director of the C.I.A., R. James Woolsey), Katrina, asthma and the stunning news from the oceanographer and author Sylvia Earle that “we’ve lost 90 percent of most of the big fish in the sea.”

Yes, it’s bad, but it’s not over yet. Many of those same sober talking heads also argue with equal passion that we can save ourselves, along with the sky above us and the earth below. The capacity for human beings to fight, to rise to the occasion, as Mr. Woolsey notes, invoking America’s rapid, albeit delayed jump into World War II, gives hope where none might seem possible.

I will be honest with you. I do not believe hope is possible. I think our short term greed is too great. And yet, I would like to be wrong. Of course, I would.

Here's the trailer:

Just for fun

Amazing president facts:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Harriet on the piano
Photo by Ellie Finlay

What kind of liberal are you?

My results:

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

So take the quiz already!

Why Gay Marriage is Un-American!

I found this on An Inch at a Time:

1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

My very favorite is number 2. How I wish it were true!

Truly magnificent snark

Look at this:

And, Karl Rove, though has been called Bush’s brain, I don’t really know if that’s a compliment, really, is it? It’s like being called Paris Hilton’s talent or something. It’s like being called Trump’s hair.

- Craig Ferguson

This was posted on The Situation Room Blog:

What does it say about the U.S. that seniors are going to Mexico for affordable nursing home care?

Jack, It says that people need to wake up and realize that a capitalist medical system is NOT the way to take care of people. I don't care if you raise my taxes 20 percent up from what it normally is to fund a socialized medical program, we need to stop caring about profits and put the well-being of people first. It's immoral, even by religious standards, to make people suffer because they can't pay medical bills. -Clayton, Gresham, Oregon

I have seen floods of U.S. citizens crossing into Mexico to purchase cheaper drugs.You can see people on oxygen, in wheelchairs, on crutches, etc. Now theyare fleeing to nursing homes in Mexico. Our leaders need to stand on the borderto see what we are reduced to doing. I don't think they have the guts!
-C., Surprise, Arizona

Most cultures revere senior citizens, Jack. Just not us. -Patricia, Palmdale, Calif.

Once again, something's seriously wrong here.

"Defensive medicine"

There's a CNN article up today called "Med student struggles to preserve her idealism". Check out these two paragraphs:

We are taught about malpractice from Day 1. I remember countless times in the anatomy lab when we were digging for arteries and nerves, our teachers saying, "Now if you cut this in real life, you would be sued," phrased in terms of a legal consequence instead of the repercussion that the patient might die.

This "art of defensive medicine" infiltrates the classroom too. We are taught how to ask questions of our patients and treat them in such a way that minimizes our risk of a lawsuit. We are trained what kind of patients to be wary of. Basically, we are taught that we can't trust our future patients, which is confusing to first-year medical students. How can we expect our patients to trust us if we can't trust them?

I don't know what I think about this. I think people in the medical profession need to be held accountable. I've heard plenty of horror stories from my own clients about medical people high on drugs and/or being basically careless, unconcerned and incompetent. On the other hand, I think we in this country have an unrealistic belief that life ought to carry with it guarantees. Something's seriously wrong.

You like snark? Check this out!

I've seen this before but it's been a while. Found it today on Ryan's blog. It's a George Carlin piece:

Moyers on Rove

Frank Ford sent me the video I've linked to below. Here's an introduction from Alternet:

Like a lot of us, Bill Moyers was disgusted with the fawning coverage the mainstream media gave Karl Rove when he announced his departure from the White House. Moyers, correctly, says there was a lot more to be said about the man than his ability to manipulate close elections. "Using church pews as precincts, Rove turned religion into a political weapon, a battering ram aimed at the "devil's minions", especially gay people," says Moyers. Moyers talks about how Rove not only shook down fundamentalists but also corporate big wigs and effectively left the US government in shambles. Check out the video [here] for more.

Of course, truth be told, Rove/Bush didn't "win" those elections. They were stolen.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Socialized medicine

Oh, you simply must read this short article by Sojouners Jim Wallis about his experience in a British emergency room. We are so used to being told in the U.S. that socialized medicine is poor quality and that the waits are horrible that we have no idea what it's really like. This simply cannot be excerpted. Read the whole thing. It's truly inspiring:

My Encounter with [Insert Scary Music]... Socialized Medicine

The Big Melt

This is a VERY good point made by Nicholas B. Kristof in the New York Times:

If we learned that Al Qaeda was secretly developing a new terrorist technique that could disrupt water supplies around the globe, force tens of millions from their homes and potentially endanger our entire planet, we would be aroused into a frenzy and deploy every possible asset to neutralize the threat. Yet that is precisely the threat that we're creating ourselves, with our greenhouse gases. While there is still much uncertainty about the severity of the consequences, a series of new studies indicate that we're cooking our favorite planet [even] more quickly than experts had expected...

Critics scoff that the scientific debate is continuing, that the consequences are uncertain -- and they're right. There is natural variability and lots of uncertainty, especially about the magnitude and timing of climate change. In the same way, terror experts aren't sure about the magnitude and timing of Al Qaeda's next strike. But it would be myopic to shrug that, because there's uncertainty about the risks, we shouldn't act vigorously to confront them -- yet that's our national policy toward climate change, and it's a disgrace.

There are people out there just SCREAMING about the urgency of this matter and yet the powers that be remain seemingly unconcerned. For the life of me, I don't get it.

Wal-Mart and China


Wal-Mart tries to ease consumer fears about tainted Chinese products: "Do you want safe products or always low prices?"

- Grant Gerver,

And it's true. That's the choice.

PLEASE don't shop at Wal-Mart

I hope this gets on the air:

Here's why I believe it's unethical to shop at Wal-Mart:

Wal-Mart’s rock bottom wages and benefits cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in basic housing, medical, childcare, and energy needs that the retailer fails to properly cover for its employees, according to a 2004 report released by Congressman George Miller (D-CA).

Specifically, the report examined the following areas of Wal-Mart’s poor labor practices:

Low wages. In 2001, Wal-Mart paid its employees an average $8.23 per hour, compared with $10.35 for an average supermarket worker.

Unequal pay for equal work. Wal-Mart is now the subject of a sweeping class action lawsuit, involving more than one million current and former women employees of Wal-Mart as plaintiffs, alleging that pay and opportunities for advancement do not reach those of their male counterparts.

Off-the-clock work. By December of 2002, 39 class action lawsuits, involving hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs, charged Wal-Mart with withholding earned wages, either by deleting hours from time sheets or forcing workers to work unpaid overtime hours.

Unaffordable and unavailable healthcare. While 66 percent of employees at large firms like Wal-Mart receive health benefits from their employer, only 41 to 46 percent of Wal-Mart employees do. In 2002, Wal-Mart adopted new policies that force employees to wait longer before having enough tenure to qualify for benefits.

Wal-Mart has also shifted more of the cost for health care premiums onto its workers. Wal-Mart even encourages its employees to seek charitable and public assistance for meeting their health care needs. A UC-Berkeley study found that California taxpayers subsidized $20.5 million worth of medical care in that state alone.

Costs to Taxpayers. The report estimates the costs borne by taxpayers for things like medical insurance and housing assistance for Wal-Mart employees that can’t afford them because of their low wages and benefits. The report shows that taxpayers would have to pick up $420,750 per year for a hypothetical Wal-Mart store employing 200 people. These costs (which will vary based on the number of people employed in any one store) include:

* $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families;

* $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming three percent of the store’s employees qualify for such assistance;

* $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children;

* $100,000 a year for additional Title I education funds, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families, each with an average of two children, qualify;

* $108,000 a year for children’s health insurance costs, assuming 30 employees, each with an average of two children, qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and
$9,750 a year for subsidies for energy assistance for low-income families.

Child labor. An internal Wal-Mart audit turned up thousands of cases of young employees working too late, working during school hours, or working for too many hours a day, in violation of U.S. child labor laws.

Undocumented workers. News reports and other evidence show that Wal-Mart executives knowingly hired undocumented workers as janitors in their stores, and then forced them to work long hours for little pay – $325 for 60-hour, seven-day weeks, for eight straight months, according to one worker.

Exploiting foreign labor. In 2002, Wal-Mart purchased 10 percent of all Chinese goods imported into the U.S. And workers in countries like China, Bangladesh, and Honduras are suffering because of the stringent demands Wal-Mart makes of its suppliers. One factory worker reported working 19-hour days for 10- to 15-day stretches to meet Wal-Mart’s price demands.

Organizing rights. Wal-Mart has aggressively sought to discourage – even intimidate – workers from exercising their right to form a union. Wal-Mart even provides a hotline for its managers to call when they suspect union-organizing activities; on the other end are specialists trained to head off organizing efforts.

Disability discrimination. Wal-Mart has been the subject of numerous lawsuits alleging discrimination in hiring towards people with disabilities.

Worker safety. A recent report provided evidence of Wal-Mart’s policy of locking workers inside stores overnight. In some cases, workers were told not to use emergency exits in any but the most serious emergencies. In some cases, sick or injured workers had to wait for the start of the morning shift, when managers with keys arrived to unlock the doors.

“Wal-Mart’s slogan should be ‘always low wages, always,’” said Miller when he unveiled the report. “There’s no question that Wal-Mart imposes a huge, often hidden, cost on its workers, our communities, and U.S. taxpayers. And Wal-Mart is in the driver’s seat in the global race to the bottom, suppressing wage levels, workplace protections, and labor laws.”

The report also says that Wal-Mart’s response to these issues have been cosmetic. “The company has chosen to work towards improving its image, rather than work for meaningful reform of its business practices,” Miller said.

Fact sheet found here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The coarsening of American democracy

Take a look at this excerpt from an article entitled "Karl Rove's last fix":

Karl Rove has been the president's political adviser - some would say "Bush's brain" - for fourteen years: he led his successful Texas gubernatorial campaigns in 1994 and 1998 and his presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Rove holds the position of White House deputy chief of staff, but he actually runs the political arm of the Bush administration - while vice-president Dick Cheney handles day-to-day operations. Rove ensures that Bush considers the political ramifications of every presidential decision and appointment.

In this regard he's had the same relationship to George W Bush that many other deeply partisan "fixers" and media manipulators have had to their political masters -
Dick Morris to Bill Clinton, Alastair Campbell to Tony Blair. The ingredients of the relationship may be familiar, but Rove added to the mix an extra element: a willingness to employ his extraordinary propaganda talents in the service of a polarising, destructive and unscrupulous targeting of his leader's political opponents. In this, he has played a major role in the coarsening of American democracy.

He's up to something again - of that I've no doubt.

Good advice

Found on a billboard in Tulsa:

Be kind to strangers.
Visit your inlaws.

That's all it said. I guess it was a public service thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Here's part of a comment I found on Common Dreams :

Unlike many Americans, I never thought September 11, 2001 was a GREAT tragedy: a tragedy, yes, but not even remotely comparable to the Spanish Inquisition, indigenous genocide, slavery, Hitler’s holocaust, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or Stalin’s GULAG prisons. Those Americans who claimed that “everything changed” were innocent of experience and ignorant of history.

So true.

There's something really wrong with this

Here's a comment I found on Alternet:

As a farmer with livestock, I would like let people know about how much cheaper medicines are when bought for animals then for humans---even though they are exactly the same and made by the same company.

As an example: the antibiotic Amoxicillan. Recently I had an infection in my tonsils. Went to the doctor who looked down my throat for about 30 seconds (billed me $148 for that). Then prescribed Amoxicillan. I went to the pharmacy and got a bottle of 40 tablets costing to me $168. When I got home, I noticed something familiar about the bottle. I am a dairy farmer who sometimes has to treat baby calves for various things. I looked at the bottle of pills I use for this and sure enough it was the exact same bottle, label, mg strength, and antibiotic that I use for my calves. It was even made by the same company (Glaxo). I buy this from vet supply stores for $35.

Another example is the diuretic lasix. It is sometimes given to dairy cattle to reduce udder swelling. About 1/4 the price if purchased "for veterinary use" even though it is all made by the same company.

This ought to be illegal.

Tuesday good news blogging

Here's some good news for the environment:

Cuba is planning to plant 135 million trees this year as part of a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) project, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.

The UNEP has launched a major worldwide tree planting campaign 'Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign'. The campaign strongly encourages the planting of indigenous trees that are appropriate to a particular environment.

Cuba expects to help 'compensate, in some way, for the deforestation that causes some three trillion adult trees to disappear from the planet each year', said the head of the island's national forestry programme, Elias Linares Landa.

Linares said some 2.7 million hectares of land in Cuba was currently forested.Linares said Cuba had its own forestry fund to develop and manage forests, wildlife, education and training programmes.

In 2006, Cuba increased its forests by more than 33,000 hectares and reduced emissions of pollutants, according to official figures.

We can all plant trees - literally or give money to have trees planted. Check out Trees for the Future as one organization you can support.

Environmental time bomb

I must say, this is very upsetting. Here are excerpts from an article entitled "Time bomb ticks under ice":

While governments and oil giants are hoping the melting ice over the North Pole will allow them access to the world's last treasure trove of oil and gas, climatologists are deeply worried about something else buried under the ice that, if unearthed, could wreak havoc on the biosphere, with dire consequences for human life...

Much of the Siberian sub-Arctic region -- an area the size of France and Germany combined -- is a vast, frozen peat bog. Before the most recent Ice Age, the area was mostly grassland, teeming with wildlife. The coming of the glaciers entombed the organic matter below the permafrost, where it has remained ever since. Although the surface of Siberia is largely barren, there is as much organic matter buried underneath the permafrost as there is in all of the world's tropical rain forests. Now the permafrost is thawing on land and along the seabeds. If this happens in the presence of oxygen, the decomposing of organic matter leads to the production of CO2. If, in the absence of oxygen, the permafrost thaws along lake shelves, the decomposing matter releases methane -- the most potent of the greenhouse gases, with an effect 23 times that of CO2...

Scientists are particularly concerned that the thawing permafrost is also creating shadow lakes across the Siberian sub-Arctic landscape. The lake waters have a higher ambient temperature than the surrounding permafrost. As a result, the permafrost near the lakes thaws more quickly, forcing the ground surfaces to collapse into the lakes. The stored organic carbon then decomposes into the lake bottoms. Methane from that decomposition bubbles to the surface and escapes into the atmosphere...

[Researchers warn of a] tipping point sometime within this century, when the release of methane could create an uncontrollable feedback effect, dramatically warming the atmosphere... A global tragedy of monumental proportions is unfolding at the top of the world, and the human race is all but oblivious to what's happening.

I have read that it is possible that the earth will end up like Venus - way too hot to support life of any kind.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cowardly Democrats

I want to give you just the first paragraph of an article entitled "Cowardly Democrats Give In to President on NSA Wiretapping":

Use it or lose it. That’s the first lesson of political power - which Democrats still haven’t learned. As they proved by their vote on the National Security Agency wiretap legislation, when push comes to shove, Democrats would rather fold than fight.

It really is depressing.

Karl Rove's resignation

Well, I heard it on NPR news this morning and couldn't believe the old "spend more time with his family" explanation.

Here's a comment someone made on Common Dreams today:

The cliché “spend more time with family” is usually a euphemism for “my conscience has finally spoken and I can’t live with the hypocrisy anymore” or “I can’t take the stress of all the lies I have to tell.” We KNOW that this is not true about Karl Rove.

Something is afoot. Possibilities include: Rove is moving on to plan the theft of the 2008 election. he is planning to leave the country to live comfortably on the $$ he has looted from our treasury. He is about to be indicted (oh, hope of all hopes…) or he can wreak even more havoc without the minimal constraints that being a “government employee” placed upon him. (I know, I know…not that small considerations like the Constitution or laws ever stopped him before). I am sure there are a multitude of other treasonous, dishonest, destructive and murderous possibilities.

The one, undisputable fact that remains is that Rove’s legacy is one of vitriol and hatefulness, destruction, divisiveness and death. We are left with a huge mess on our hands. Karl, it seems, gets to walk away scot-free with a bundle of cash. Bush will probably give him a presidential medal of honor. I would say “good riddance to bad rubbish” but I really don’t believe that Karl is going anywhere but underground to continue playing out his obscene obsession with power at the expense of the rest of the world.

Some good points there. I definitely think something's decidedly fishy about this.

World Clock

Juan Diaz sent me the following:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Big Brother

Gosh, this is so depressing.

Take a look at this excerpt from an article called "American Values On Trial":

The “Protect America Act” removes judicial scrutiny of certain types of phone calls and e-mails - those involving foreigners and persons in the United States. For three decades, presidents have had to seek warrants for such surveillance through a secret court.

Now, however, the attorney general may issue warrants for people “reasonably” believed to be on foreign soil. As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, the spying may inadvertently sweep up the private conversations of innocent American citizens. And the new law offers no privacy protection to such citizens.

Only a meaningless vestige of judicial review of such surveillance remains: Under the new law, the attorney general will be required to tell the secret court only the broad outlines of the spying program. The attorney general will not have to disclose what will happen to American calls and e-mails that are intercepted, the ACLU points out. Nor will he be required to divulge how many Americans have been monitored.

Furthermore, the only accountability required by the new law is a bi-annual report to Congress on violations of the secret rules of the top-secret surveillance. And who determines which activities constitute violations? The attorney general.

For heaven's sake, everybody. Pay your ACLU dues.

15 ways to avert a climate crisis

I'm posting the video of a talk by Al Gore. When I consider that this man actually won the election in 2000, it breaks my heart. He could be - is supposed to be - our president. Also, can you, in your wildest imagination, picture George Bush giving a talk like this --- even being CAPABLE of giving a talk like this? And, finally, how is it that people criticized Al Gore for being "wooden"? He is nothing of the sort. He is warm, funny, relaxed, personable. You know, the survival of the planet may have depended on that election. And we, the American people, blew it.

Okay, folks. This is very strange. For some reason, the video isn't showing up in Firefox. I have no idea why. If the video does not appear on your browser, use this link:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Sandy's kitten
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Oh my goodness, here's another one

I'm getting tired of putting "family values" in the subject line. But here we go again. Heck, I can't keep up with all the Republicans who are involved in sexual violence and other forms of sexual misconduct. The article is called "Michigan Republican activist pleads guilty to sexual battery":

CLEVELAND -- A lawyer who formerly led a Michigan young Republicans organization has pleaded guilty to sexual battery for forcing sex acts on a woman while both were at a convention last July.

The case was headed to trial, but prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Michael A. Flory during a break in jury selection Tuesday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Flory, 32, of Jackson, Mich., faces one to five years in prison or probation at his sentencing Sept. 13. He also will become a registered sex offender. Judge Peter J. Corrigan will determine whether to classify him as a sexual predator.

When Corrigan asked if he was pleading guilty, Flory responded "sure." When pressed by the judge and prodded by his attorney, Flory then answered, "yes."

Flory had faced 11 charges, including eight counts of rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and gross sexual imposition.

I really think the Republican presidential candidates need to be confronted about this hypocrisy within their party.

Still more on the party of family values

Buzzflash calls it the GOP Hypocrite of the Week. It's about Bob Allen using racism as an excuse for solicitation:

Well, on July 13, BuzzFlash was way ahead of the pack in calling attention to yet another GOP elected-official pervert, "Conservative" Florida Republican State
Representative Bob Allen.

When we last left Allen, he had just been arrested in his home district for soliciting an undercover cop. What was the charge? That he offered to perform fellatio on the officer for a measly $20. As we noted, not only was Allen accused of a sex crime, but he also was revealed as someone who would go down cheap to perform sex.

Oh those legions of repressed and psychologically twisted Republicans, they aren't just perverted; they are perverted perverted.

Anyway, the rest of the media has now caught up with BuzzFlash's keen eye for GOP deviants because of Allen's rather creative -- and racist -- excuse for his odd sexual negotiation (in a Titusville, Florida, public restroom in a park, no less).

Allen is now
claiming it was his fear of black men in the area that made him offer to pay a couple of ten spots to blow someone. As Jon Stewart said (and we are paraphrasing here) of Allen's "excuse": "I thought if I had a c*ck in my mouth, the black men wouldn't hit me."


The party of family values still AGAIN

Okay. Here's that word again. HYPOCRISY:

The chairman of the Clark County Republican Party [Indianna] — who last month was elected president of the Young Republican National Federation — has resigned both posts, apparently in the wake of a criminal investigation.

On Tuesday afternoon, Glenn Murphy Jr. e-mailed media outlets a letter announcing his resignation from both positions, citing an unexpected business opportunity that would prohibit him from holding a partisan political office.

However, the Clark County Sheriff’s Department on Friday began investigating Murphy for alleged criminal deviate conduct — potentially a class B felony — after speaking with a 22-year-old man who claimed that on July 31, Murphy performed an unwanted sex act on him while the man slept in a relative’s Jeffersonville home.
Larry Wilder, Murphy’s attorney, said Murphy is cooperating with police and Prosecutor Steve Stewart. Wilder said Murphy contends the sex act was consensual.

So? That's still in violation of so-called "family values"!

A reporter was unable to reach Stewart on Tuesday evening.

In 1998, a 21-year-old male filed a similar report with Clarksville police claiming Murphy attempted to perform a sex act on him while he was sleeping. Charges were never filed in that case.

Wonder how the right wingers are spinning this one.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mutual toleration of Christians

From A Letter Concerning Toleration:

Since you are pleased to inquire what are my thoughts about the mutual toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion, I must needs answer you freely that I esteem that toleration to be the chief characteristic mark of the true Church. For whatsoever some people boast of the antiquity of places and names, or of the pomp of their outward worship; others, of the reformation of their discipline; all, of the orthodoxy of their faith — for everyone is orthodox to himself — these things, and all others of this nature, are much rather marks of men striving for power and empire over one another than of the Church of Christ.

-- John Locke (1689)

New climate change web site

Marilyn Bedford sent me the following press release:


A new United Nations Internet site, “Gateway to the UN System’s Work on Climate Change”, that highlights the wide-ranging work of the various parts of the United Nations system on climate change was launched today. The new website makes it easier for Internet users to find information on climate change from across the United Nations system.

The address of the new website is

In addition to bringing Member States together to find common ground for addressing climate change at the international level, the United Nations works to assess the most up-to-date science on climate change, develop projects that assist people at the grass-roots level to adapt to the consequences of climate change and works to develop creative solutions that will reduce the emissions of the gases that cause climate change.

The new climate change gateway provides easy access to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the latest developments on efforts to reach a new international climate change agreement, news, as well as information on future climate change events, projects in the field and climate change updates for youth. Information on the high-level event that will take place on 24 September can be found at

For more information, contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel: 212 963 9495, email:

Quote of the week

This is from Sojourners, of course:

Maybe uninsured American children who can’t get adequate health care could masquerade as cotton plants or cornstalks. Then the farm bill would shower them with money and care.

- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bottled water

Did you know this?

Americans add over 30 million plastic water bottles to our nation's landfills – every day!

I got it from the website.

Stop Global Warming

If you saw Oprah yesterday or last night, you know how scary the climate change situation really is. I just found an action page that gives you quite a list of things you can do. It's on a site called Check it out! You might also like to take a look at Al Gore's Five Changes to Make...Now.


Frank Ford sent me an article from The Independent entitled "Extinct: the dolphin that could not live alongside man". Here's part of what it says:

After more than 20 million years on the planet, the Yangtze river dolphin is today officially declared extinct, the first species of cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise) to be driven from this planet by human activity.

An intensive six-week search by an international team of marine biologists involving two boats that ploughed up and down the world's busiest river last December failed to find a single specimen.

Today, the scientific report of that expedition, published in the peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society, Biology Letters, confirms the dolphin known as the baiji or white-fin in Chinese and celebrated for its pale skin and distinctive long snout, has disappeared.

To blame for its demise is the increasing number of container ships that use the Yangtze, as well as the fishermen whose nets became an inadvertent hazard.
The Yangtze dolphin navigated by sonar - its eyes are useless in the murky water - but in a motorway jammed with container ships, coal barges and speed boats, its sonar was deafened and it ran a high risk of being hit or torn by propellers.

An even greater threat came from the nets and 1,000m lines of hooks used by fishermen.

Although they did not intend to catch dolphins, the creatures became entangled in the nets or lacerated by the bare hooks - almost half of all dead baiji found in the past few decades have died in this way. In addition, pollution had fouled their natural habitat and completion of the Three Gorges Dam worsened the decline in smaller fish on which the baiji fed.

Truly tragic. Heartbreaking.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Listen up, Senator Inhoffe

It's a CNN article called "Around the globe, 2007 is on track to be a year of extreme weather". Take a look:

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Extreme weather has plagued the globe this year, a U.N. agency says, causing some of the highest temperatures on record.

The World Meteorological Organization said "global land surface temperatures for January and April will likely be ranked as the warmest since records began in 1880," according to the United Nations.

WMO said temperatures were 1.89 degrees Celsius (3.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average for January and 1.37 degrees C (2.45 degrees F) higher than average for April.

The agency found that climate warming was unequivocal and most likely "due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels."
Four monsoon depressions, double the normal number, caused heavy flooding in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. On Monday, floodwaters receded in parts of South Asia, but the death toll rose to 347, officials said.
Southeastern Europe did not escape the unusual weather. The area suffered record-breaking heat in June and July.

I really don't have anything to say here. I just wanted my readers to see this. We all know what we have to do as a species. Will we do it or not? That's the question.

PLEASE don't shop at Wal-Mart

I know I've posted about this many times but I want to remind you once more that you are supporting exploitation on a huge scale when you shop at Wal-Mart. Here's a fact sheet about their standard practices. Please take a look at the whole page. But I will give you this excerpt if you really believe that Wal-Mart has "low" prices:

Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed

The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]

One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:

$36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
$42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.
$125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
$100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.
$108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)
$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance. [The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff Of The Committee On Education And The Workforce, 2/16/04]
Your tax dollars subsidize Wal-Mart's growth

The first ever national report on Wal-Mart subsidies documented at least $1 billion in subsidies from state and local governments.

A Wal-Mart official stated that "it is common" for the company to request subsidies "in about one-third of all [retail] projects." This would suggest that over a thousand Wal-Mart stores have been subsidized. ["Shopping For Subsidies: How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth," Good Job First, May 2004]

AND they engage in union-busting AND they make health care unaffordable AND they trash the environment AND they destroy small businesses AND they force other manufacturers to outsource their labor in order to compete AND they break child-labor laws AND they break hazardous waste laws AND they practice gender discrimination.... I could go on. And from time to time, I will.

Artificial intelligence

This is an interesting quote. I'm not sure how to think about it but it intrigues me all the same:

We must develop as quickly as possible technologies that make possible a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it.

- Stephen Hawking

Monday, August 06, 2007

"I am become death..."

The inconsolable sadness in Oppenheimer's eyes is tragic.

A little comic relief

Hiroshima Day

I want to share a message with you from True Majority:

In honor of Hiroshima Day, we'd like to take a minute to reflect on just how absurd it is for America to maintain 10,000 nuclear bombs. Defense experts say that many simply aren't needed, and by reducing the nuclear arsenal our country could save $14 billion dollars -- more than enough to save the lives of six million kids who die of starvation in impoverished nations each year.

August 6th is Hiroshima Day, the 62nd anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. That attack, and the bombing of Nagasaki three days later, remain the only nuclear attacks on civilians in history.

Please click on this link to watch a short video about our nuclear arsenal. It's very sobering.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Oh my God; look at this

You simply must read the article "In Bush We Trust - Or Else" by John Diaz. It is absolutely terrifying:

It doesn’t require a subpoena of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or a brave whistle-blower to find President Bush’s latest affront to the U.S. Constitution. It’s in plain view on the White House Web site: “Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.”

This far-reaching order of July 17 may be Bush’s most brazen defiance of the Constitution, which is no small feat for an administration that thinks it can set its own rules on electronic surveillance, torture, kidnapping, rendition, and the designation of “enemy combatants” who can be arrested on U.S. soil and held indefinitely without judicial review.

This one is a frontal assault on the Fifth Amendment, which decrees that the government cannot seize an individual’s property without due process.

Under Bush’s executive order, the U.S. government has endowed itself with the authority to freeze the American assets of anyone who directly or indirectly assists someone who poses “a significant risk” of committing a violent act that has the purpose or effect of threatening the Iraqi government, the “peace and stability” of the country or the reconstruction effort.
Fein said the sanctions against suspected violators would amount to “a financial death penalty.” The executive order not only calls for the freezing of assets of anyone who directly or indirectly aids our enemies in Iraq, it prohibits anyone else from providing “funds, goods or services” to a blacklisted individual. In other words, a friend or relative could have his or her assets seized for trying to help someone whose bank account is suddenly frozen. An attorney who offered legal help could risk of losing everything he or she owned.
The targets of the property seizures, even American citizens, would not be given any advance notice or opportunity to challenge the government’s action in court. The American Civil Liberties Union has noted that an order this sweeping could encompass “entirely innocent” activities such as an donations to humanitarian relief groups that indirectly provide what the U.S. government decides is “material support” to supporters of the insurgency.

After I read this stuff I could hardly breathe. We no longer have constitutional government. I am stunned and horrified.

Impact your world

Well, this is commendable. CNN has set up part of its website to be dedicated to recommending charities on particular issues that are in the news. The issues are:

Refugees and homelessness
Planet in Peril
Natural disasters

The section is called "Impact Your World". Check it out.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The disappointing Democrats - again

I want to tell you about a Salon article entitled "Democrats’ Responsibility for Bush Radicalism". Take a look:

It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 — almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history — that George W. Bush can “demand” that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will, vesting in him still greater surveillance power, by warning them, based solely on his say-so, that if they fail to comply with his demands, the next Terrorist attack will be their fault. And they jump and scamper and comply (Meteor Blades has the list of the 16 Senate Democrats voting in favor; the House will soon follow).

I just finished a discussion panel with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero which was originally planned to examine
his new (superb) book about the work his organization has done for years in battling the endless expansion of executive power and presidential lawbreaking. But the only issue anyone in the room really wanted to discuss — including us — was the outrage unfolding on Capitol Hill. And the anger was almost universally directed where it belongs: on Congressional Democrats, who increasingly bear more and more responsibility for the assaults on our constitutional liberties and unparalleled abuses of government power — many (probably most) of which, it should always be emphasized, remain concealed rather than disclosed.

Examine virtually every Bush scandal and it increasingly bears the mark not merely of Democratic capitulation, but Democratic participation. In August of 2006, the Supreme Court finally asserted the first real limit on Bush’s radical executive power theories in Hamdan, only for Congress, months later, to completely eviscerate those minimal limits — and then go far beyond — by enacting the grotesque Military Commissions Act with the support of substantial numbers of Democrats. What began as a covert and illegal Bush interrogation and detention program became the officially sanctioned, bipartisan policy of the United States.

I really recommend that you click through and read the rest of it - along with the comments below the article.

Health care web site

I just found a new site called Physicians for a National Health Program. The program is a nonprofit organization of 14,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance.

Here's something from an explanation of their Mission Statement:

The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $7,129 per capita. Yet our system performs poorly in comparison and still leaves 46 million without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.

This is because private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment though a single nonprofit payer would save more than $350 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

And here's another good quote:

Private health insurance was an idea that worked during part of the last century; it will not succeed through the 21st Century. With jobs increasingly service-based and short-term, the large employment-based risk pools that made this insurance system possible no longer exist. Medical care has become more effective and more essential to the ordinary person, but also more costly and capital-intensive. The multiple private insurance carriers that emerged during the last century can no longer provide a sound basis for financing our modern health care system.

The website is just full of great information on this subject. I really recommend it.

UPDATE: Here's a comment I found after an article dealing with the health care problem. It addresses the prediction that the quality of health care would go down if we went to a universal, single-payer system:

My 2 cents: I'm married, have 2 children and excellent health insurance through my husband's federal job. I had one of my kids in England under the NHS, socialized medicine. My other child was born in the US under our insurance.

The care I got in England was much, much better than the care I got here. We stayed in the hospital an extra day when my son was ill (minor issue) after being born, without having to clear it was anyone. A midwife come to our house to check me and the baby every day for a week after we got home from the hospital. Then every few days for another few weeks. I could walk to my doctor's office and get an appointment almost any time I asked. Prescriptions were about $14 each, no matter what the medicine. When my son had a possibly serious problem I got a referral and appointment right away. There was no paperwork and all the records were computerized.

Here I have to drive 40 minutes to the doctor, and if I don't call 10 minutes after they open their sick appointments are used up. We have tons of paperwork and copays etc. My husband's coworker with the same insurance has a seriously ill child. He is struggling to afford care for her, despite having really good insurance. Dealing with the paperwork and denied claims and all the garbage is almost a full time job for his wife.

Health care is going to be my #1 priority deciding who to vote for next election.

I agree with this person. When I lived in Ireland I did not hear one complaint about the nationalized health care system.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Something LBJ said

This is really quite sad when you think of all that's happened since he said this:

This is the richest and the most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the President who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

I want to be the President who educated young children to the wonders of their world.

I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be tax-payers instead of tax-eaters.

I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election.

I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men, and who promoted love among the people of all races and all regions and all parties.

I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

-- Lyndon Johnson

"Conservatism" and our infrastructure

I want to share with you an article called "Are the Dead From the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Victims of Conservative Ideology?" Here's how it gets started:

The tragic collapse this week of a stretch of I-35 spanning the Mississippi river in Minnesota was shocking but should come as no surprise. America's core infrastrucure has been falling apart in very visible ways during the past few years. It's a predictable outcome of the rise of "backlash" conservatism; we've swallowed 30 years of small-government rhetoric, and it's led us to a point in which our infrastructure, once the pride of the developed world, is falling apart around us. We're reaping what we've sown.

Minnesota's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, reacted to the disaster by calling a press conference and, with a steely determination worthy of Rudy Guiliani, lying to the American people. Pawlenty insisted that inspections in 2005 and 2006 had found no structural problems with the bridge. But the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
reported that the bridge "was rated as 'structurally deficient' two years ago and possibly in need of replacement." The bridge was borderline -- with a 50 sufficiency rating; if a bridge scores less than 50, it needs to be replaced.

According to
the Pioneer Press, the bridge's suspension system was supposed to receive extra attention with inspections every two years, but the last one had been performed in 2003.

The governor had every reason to obfuscate; in 2005, he
vetoed a bipartisan transportation package that would have "put more than $8 billion into highways, city and county roads, and transit over the next decade." At the time, he was applauded by many Republicans for his staunch fiscal "conservatism."

Oh my. Karma's a bitch, right? The sad thing is that, in this case, it's the innocent who reap the consequences. (On the other hand, wonder how many of those who died or were injured actually voted the Republicans in? Were those tax cuts for the rich really worth it?)

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

What secrets await us?

Here's something Lisa said on All Hat No Cattle:

I often wonder what secrets this administration has -- that we haven't found out about yet.

{{chills down my spine}}

Mine too.

Family values again

Oh my. The Religious Right is at it again:

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) - The minister of a Baptist church has been charged with indecent exposure and driving under the influence, and police officers say he propositioned them.

Tommy Tester, 58, of Bristol, Va., was wearing a skirt when he was arrested last week after allegedly urinating in front of children at a car wash, police said.

Police also said Tester offered to perform oral sex on officers who were sent to the scene.

Authorities identified Tester as the minister of Gospel Baptist Church in Bristol and an employee of Christian radio station WZAP-AM in Bristol.

There was no immediate response Tuesday to calls to the church and Tester's home.

Okay, folks. Once more the problem is the HYPOCRISY. Does this man need our compassion? Probably. He's probably quite disturbed. But the Religious Right doesn't believe in compassion. That's the problem. He also needs to be taken off the streets, away from children and removed from ministry.

Women and anger

Well, this is a bummer. Take a look at some research findings as reported by the Reuters article "Workplace anger -- who wins?":

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A man who gets angry at work may well be admired for it but a woman who shows anger in the workplace is liable to be seen as "out of control" and incompetent, according to a new study presented Friday.

What's more, the finding may have implications for Hillary Clinton as she attempts to become the first female U.S. president, according to its author Victoria Brescoll, a post-doctoral scholar at Yale University.

Her research paper "When Can Angry Women Get Ahead?" noted that Clinton was described last year by a leading Republican as "too angry to be elected president."

Previous research has indicated that anger can communicate that an individual feels entitled to dominate others, and therefore perhaps is. But Brescoll said such studies focused on men.

"As Senator Clinton's experience suggests, however, for a professional woman anger expression may lead to a decrease rather than an increase in her status," Brescoll wrote.

And, of course, without that "anger" or "dominance", women would probably be described as too passive or wimpy or too cold or too controlled. Sheesh.