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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


Home of the Barking Moonbat


Saturday, January 29, 2005

And you thought Tom Coburn was a fruitcake ...

Via Life and Deatherage:

Oklahoma Senator wants to put tiny boxing gloves on chickens

quote: State Sen. Frank Shurden, a longtime defender of cockfighting, is suggesting that roosters be given little boxing gloves so they can fight without bloodshed. The proposal is in a bill the Democrat has introduced for the legislative session that begins Feb. 7.

"Who's going to object to chickens fighting like humans do? Everybody wins," Sen. Frank Shurden said. /end quote

I mean, what can you say, really?

Scheming on Home Improvements

Sometime last night, it snowed here. I'm assuming this is the same snow that positively paralyzed Tulsa around noon yesterday --- Sister Scorpion has posted gripping pictures of the consequences of this major weather event.

I'm no fan of snow, especially the pitiful excuse for snow we get around here. In fact, I'm scared of it. But it's a great excuse for staying in the jammies and thinking about home improvements.

I've already poured huge amounts of money into the place over the past couple of months: new septic and a tornado shelter, drapes, a fireplace, energy efficient appliaces. And I'm not finished.

The next two projects: fencing and a back porch.

The problem: I don't want to pay for them. So I've hatched a plan.:

Every cent I save not buying gas station coffee or gumbo from the Cajun lady up the road or socks or plants in need or whatever will go into a separate savings account. And, when there's enough money in the account, I'll put up new fencing and a back porch.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Democracy, Progressive Values, Thinking About It

A few days ago, I posted a link to an article at Seeing the Forest, Why Republicans Win. I was struck by several points, but especially this:

quote: [,,,] we need to EDUCATE AND PERSUADE THE GENERAL PUBLIC about the fact that core Progressive ideas and values are good for them. What we are instead doing now is spending a LOT of money on narrow-interest environmental and other kinds of interest organizations that largely talk to the converted. Environmentalists have to combine forces with civil justice advocates, consumer litigation advocates, peace activists, etc. and all together go after the Right AS ONE. [bold mine]

We need to change what our existing organizations see as their core mission. They need to understand that the public consensus they thought they have is not there anymore. They need to understand that to survive a good part of their effort has to be toward persuading the public that the core progressive values of democracy and community are good, and benefit them, and only then can they also do the work that before now they thought was their core mission, be it environmentalism, helping the poor, or whatever else they do. /end quote

I've thought about this for a few days, wanting to post about it but not at all clear about what I want to say. I know I've found myself sort of piecemeal defining my own values and how interwined they are with one another. My belief in gardening and the use of heirloom varieties to preserve plant diversity is exactly matched to my belief in linguistic and cultural diversity --- they can't be separated because they spring from identical values and are actuated in exactly the same way. I abhor this war not because I abhor war, but because I believe that this war is thoroughly amoral and completely grounded in the ideals of 19th C colonialism, and that it is being waged to secure resources, obliterate difference and acquire a lot of money for a very few people. Etc. Etc.

Still undeveloped thoughts but I'm getting there.

In any case, I keep going over there and rereading that post and thinking about it. Then, today, in the comments to Who Are The Rational Conservatives? I found this:

quote: A lot of complacent liberals and self-described "rational conservatives" or "moderate Republicans" don't really understand what just happened. They keep trying to carry on this urbane, faculty-lounge type debate, but that's pointless now, and I think that it has been for ten ot twenty years. /end quote

And yea, that's my experience, too.

You know, I spent a lot of time in academia and I spent some time trying to battle the wingnut radicals both in cyberspace and real space and I spent some time with some coopters, so to speak --- people who claim liberal and progressive values, but who secretly --- it's possible it's entirely unconscious on their part --- who secretly believe in a hierarchal order of society, a caste system so to speak, and who undermine all efforts at preserving and revitalizing diversity.

And my experience is exactly as stated above: you can't deal with them. My experience is they're too busy trying to preserve their own place in the pecking order to really have any tolerance for true progressive values.

They're secret Republicans and fascists. They're the ones who keep quiet and avert their eyes when their neighbor gets drug off by the KGB.

I'm not sure what my point is here. More than anything, i suppose I'm thinking my way through all this, while also trying to be sure I have copies of the things spurring my thinking.

Whatever the case, these are excellent reads, as are the comments. Worth your time to go take a look.

Any Soldier

Courtesy Rob's Blog:

Any Soldier, a place where you and I can help --- really help --- the people this morally bankrupt administration has sent to Iraq. The stated aim of Any Soldier: helping the troops and making it possible for us to join in this effort by sending what they REALLY need --- which is not jusr cute little cards with bunnies and chicks on them from total strangers --- but food, first aid, personal hygeine supplies.

I'm going to pick out a soldier this weekend and send a box off next week.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Thursday Evening Snark

Courtesy Rob's Blog:

quote: Maureen Dowd wants her payola too...no more liberal elitism! :)


I'm herewith resigning as a member of the liberal media elite.

I'm joining up with the conservative media elite.

They get paid better. - Maureen Dowd


/end quote

Let's talk about Republican values

The Republicans are about corruption. They're about big money bribes and hush money and payoffs to get their way.

Their values emerge from one thing: money. And they will do anything to get that money and to protect their ability to get it. Including sado-masochictic rape and torture in the name of Jeeeesus.

Case in point: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who is not just the author of Clear Skies, but a top recipient of donations from oil & gas industry and natural gas pipeline industry, as well as a top recipient of donations from the trucking industry and electric utilities --- not to mention, coal mining, air transport and railroads.

Don't forget ...

Human Rights First is also sponsoring an email campaign opposing the nomination of The Evil Abu.

Statement of Human Rights First on Abu Gonzales

The grimness of this situation is clear throughout this statement, but even more neatly summed up by these words:

quote: [...] we are compelled to take what is, for us, this unusual step. This is the second time in 27 years that Human Rights First has opposed a presidential nominee, and the first such action since 1981. We take this difficult decision with great reluctance, recognizing that the President has broad discretion to make executive appointments, and to provide, consistent with his office, such national leadership as he sees fit. But in a nation committed to observing the rule of law as it is, not as power finds it convenient to be, we cannot accept the President’s decision here. /end quote

Statement of Human Rights First on its Opposition to Alberto Gonzales’ Confirmation as Attorney General of the United States

quote: “America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding we have proclaimed every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value.” These were the words of President Bush as he took the oath of office for his second term. They fairly reflect the principle on which the United States was founded: all people, by virtue of their humanity, have inalienable rights under law.

Torture and calculated cruelty inflicted by the government cannot be reconciled with this principle. Such conduct strips those subject to it of their dignity, and deprives them of their humanity. It is for this reason such treatment has long been prohibited by the laws of the United States, and by treaties the United States urged the world to embrace.

Alberto Gonzales, the President’s nominee to be the United States’ chief law enforcer, is without question familiar with this first principle of human rights. An experienced lawyer, he has served successfully in private practice, as a judge and as counsel to the President. He has an inspiring personal history of struggle and opportunity that is, in many ways, uniquely American. But during the past four years, Mr. Gonzales has helped to steer America away from its commitment to human rights under law. For this reason, we must oppose his nomination.

During his tenure as White House Counsel, Mr. Gonzales advised the President that the laws of war do not bind us in the difficult fight against terrorism. He approved a definition of torture so narrow that much of the barbarism depicted in the photos from Abu Ghraib would have been beyond the law to punish. He has contended that U.S. personnel are exempt from the ban on cruel and degrading practices that has been binding U.S. treaty law for more than a decade. And he has embraced the radical view that the President has the power to ignore laws passed by the nation’s representatives in Congress. Such views are anathema to the rule of law, and contrary to the rights the United States has pledged to protect.

Indeed, the policies Mr. Gonzales embraced as White House Counsel – and reaffirmed in his hearings before the Senate this month – opened the door to abuses that have undermined military discipline, put our troops abroad at greater risk, and as even Mr. Gonzales acknowledges, denied the United States the moral authority essential to prevailing against terrorism in the long term. After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should “[j]udge us by our actions,” and “watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.” The world is indeed watching. And the picture it will see should the Senate approve the nomination of Mr. Gonzales is the promotion of one closely associated with the torture and cruelty the President says he rejects.

Some have argued that it is unfair to blame Mr. Gonzales for the torture, cruelty, and death inflicted on individuals in U.S. custody overseas. As Mr. Gonzales repeatedly said at his confirmation hearing, setting interrogation policy was “not my job.” Clearly there are other officials who also bear responsibility for these actions. But no one disputes that Mr. Gonzales rejected the applicability of essential provisions of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan, and that he endorsed interrogation methods that law enforcement and military experts advised were unlawful, and that many senior military officers reject today. Mr. Gonzales reaffirmed these views in his statements before the Senate – telling Senators that he agreed with the conclusions of the memo reducing the definition of torture to meaninglessness, and suggesting that the President could ignore laws if he thought they unconstitutionally infringed on his powers as Commander-in-Chief. We evaluate Mr. Gonzales based on his own actions, and his own words. And it is on this basis we oppose his nomination.

As a human rights organization committed to protecting the rule of law, we are compelled to take what is, for us, this unusual step. This is the second time in 27 years that Human Rights First has opposed a presidential nominee, and the first such action since 1981. We take this difficult decision with great reluctance, recognizing that the President has broad discretion to make executive appointments, and to provide, consistent with his office, such national leadership as he sees fit. But in a nation committed to observing the rule of law as it is, not as power finds it convenient to be, we cannot accept the President’s decision here. We urge the Senate to reject Mr. Gonzales’ nomination. /end quote

Homosexuality & the Teachings of the Church

Fides, Spes, Caritas has some interesting discussion about sodomy and misinterpretation (of scripture) regarding homosexuality.

I'm far from a theologian --- in fact, I was studiously raised outside the confines of any religion, as my family has always abhorred organized religion of any sort. One result is that I'm at a loss when confronted by the radicals who insist homosexuality is specifically proscribed by the Bible. Fides' discussions, however, cast welcome light on this issue and are imminently readable and understandable even to heathens like myself. :=D

Definitely recommended reading.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"We’re going to have some very bad months ahead."

Seymour Hersh does it again.

I am so very grateful we still have people like him willing to put themselves on the line and speak their minds. This is a must read.

From Democracy Now:

We've Been Taken Over by a Cult, by Seymour Hersh:

quote: [...] He's going to expand it, I think, if he can. I think that the number of body bags that come back will make no difference to him. The body bags are rolling in. It makes no difference to him, because he will see it as a price he has to pay to put America where he thinks it should be. So, he's inured in a very strange way to people like me, to the politicians, most of them who are too cowardly anyway to do much. So, the day-to-day anxiety that all of us have, and believe me, though he got 58 million votes, many of people who voted for him weren’t voting for continued warfare, but I think that's what we're going to have.

It's hard to predict the future. And it's sort of silly to, but the question is: How do you go to him? How do you get at him? What can you do to maybe move him off the course that he sees as virtuous and he sees as absolutely appropriate? All of us -- you have to -- I can’t begin to exaggerate how frightening the position is -- we're in right now, because most of you don't understand, because the press has not done a very good job. The Senate Intelligence Committee, the new bill that was just passed, provoked by the 9/11 committee actually, is a little bit of a kabuki dance, I guess is what I want to say, in that what it really does is it consolidates an awful lot of power in the Pentagon -- by statute now. It gives Rumsfeld the right to do an awful lot of things he has been wanting to do, and that is basically manhunting and killing them before they kill us, as Peter said. “They did it to us. We’ve got to do it to them.” That is the attitude that -- at the very top of our government exists. And so, I'll just tell you a couple of things that drive me nuts. We can -- you know, there's not much more to go on with.

I think there's a way out of it, maybe. I can tell you one thing. Let's all forget this word “insurgency”. It's one of the most misleading words of all. Insurgency assumes that we had gone to Iraq and won the war and a group of disgruntled people began to operate against us and we then had to do counter-action against them. That would be an insurgency. We are fighting the people we started the war against. We are fighting the Ba'athists plus nationalists. We are fighting the very people that started -- they only choose to fight in different time spans than we want them to, in different places. We took Baghdad easily. It wasn't because be won. We took Baghdad because they pulled back and let us take it and decided to fight a war that had been pre-planned that they're very actively fighting. The frightening thing about it is, we have no intelligence. Maybe it's -- it's -- it is frightening, we have no intelligence about what they're doing. A year-and-a-half ago, we're up against two and three-man teams. We estimated the cells operating against us were two and three people, that we could not penetrate. As of now, we still don't know what's coming next. There are 10, 15-man groups. They have terrific communications. Somebody told me, it's -- somebody in the system, an officer -- and by the way, the good part of it is, more and more people are available to somebody like me.

There's a lot of anxiety inside the -- you know, our professional military and our intelligence people. Many of them respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as much as anybody here, and individual freedom. So, they do -- there's a tremendous sense of fear. These are punitive people. One of the ways -- one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is. You do have to wonder what a Democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way. What they have done is neutralize the C.I.A. because there were people there inside -- the real goal of what Goss has done was not attack the operational people, but the intelligence people. There were people -- serious senior analysts who disagree with the White House, with Cheney, basically, that's what I mean by White House, and Rumsfeld on a lot of issues, as somebody said, the goal in the last month has been to separate the apostates from the true believers. That's what's happening. The real target has been “diminish the agency.” I'm writing about all of this soon, so I don't want to overdo it, but there's been a tremendous sea change in the government. A concentration of power.

On the other hand, the facts -- there are some facts. We can’t win this war. We can do what he's doing. We can bomb them into the stone ages. Here's the other horrifying, sort of spectacular fact that we don't really appreciate. Since we installed our puppet government, this man, Allawi, who was a member of the Mukabarat, the secret police of Saddam, long before he became a critic, and is basically Saddam-lite. Before we installed him, since we have installed him on June 28, July, August, September, October, November, every month, one thing happened: the number of sorties, bombing raids by one plane, and the number of tonnage dropped has grown exponentially each month. We are systematically bombing that country. There are no embedded journalists at Doha, the Air Force base I think we’re operating out of. No embedded journalists at the aircraft carrier, Harry Truman. That's the aircraft carrier that I think is doing many of the operational fights. There’s no air defense, It's simply a turkey shoot. They come and hit what they want. We know nothing. We don't ask. We're not told. We know nothing about the extent of bombing. So if they're going to carry out an election and if they're going to succeed, bombing is going to be key to it, which means that what happened in Fallujah, essentially Iraq -- some of you remember Vietnam -- Iraq is being turn into a “free-fire zone” right in front of us. Hit everything, kill everything. I have a friend in the Air Force, a Colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner, planning urban bombing, to make urban bombing be as unobtrusive as possible. I think it was three weeks ago today, three weeks ago Sunday after Fallujah I called him at home. I'm one of the people -- I don't call people at work. I call them at home, and he has one of those caller I.D.’s, and he picked up the phone and he said, “Welcome to Stalingrad.” We know what we're doing. This is deliberate. It's being done. They're not telling us. They're not talking about it.

We have a President that -- and a Secretary of State that, when a trooper -- when a reporter or journalist asked -- actually a trooper, a soldier, asked about lack of equipment, stumbled through an answer and the President then gets up and says, “Yes, they should all have good equipment and we're going to do it,” as if somehow he wasn't involved in the process. Words mean nothing -- nothing to George Bush. They are just utterances. They have no meaning. Bush can say again and again, “well, we don't do torture.” We know what happened. We know about Abu Ghraib. We know, we see anecdotally. We all understand in some profound way because so much has come out in the last few weeks, the I.C.R.C. The ACLU put out more papers, this is not an isolated incident what’s happened with the seven kids and the horrible photographs, Lynndie England. That's into the not the issue is. They're fall guys. Of course, they did wrong. But you know, when we send kids to fight, one of the things that we do when we send our children to war is the officers become in loco parentis. That means their job in the military is to protect these kids, not only from getting bullets and being blown up, but also there is nothing as stupid as a 20 or 22-year-old kid with a weapon in a war zone. Protect them from themselves. The spectacle of these people doing those antics night after night, for three and a half months only stopped when one of their own soldiers turned them in tells you all you need to know, how many officers knew. I can just give you a timeline that will tell you all you need to know. Abu Ghraib was reported in January of 2004 this year. In May, I and CBS earlier also wrote an awful lot about what was going on there. At that point, between January and May, our government did nothing. Although Rumsfeld later acknowledged that he was briefed by the middle of January on it and told the President. In those three-and-a-half months before it became public, was there any systematic effort to do anything other than to prosecute seven “bad seeds”, enlisted kids, reservists from West Virginia and the unit they were in, by the way, Military Police. The answer is, Ha! They were basically a bunch of kids who were taught on traffic control, sent to Iraq, put in charge of a prison. They knew nothing. It doesn't excuse them from doing dumb things. But there is another framework. We're not seeing it. They’ve gotten away with it.

So here's the upside of the horrible story, if there is an upside. I can tell you the upside in a funny way, in an indirect way. It comes from a Washington Post piece this week. A young boy, a Marine, 25-year-old from somewhere in Maryland died. There was a funeral in the Post, a funeral in Washington, and the Post did a little story about it. They quoted -- his name was Hodak. His father was quoted. He had written to a letter in the local newspaper in Southern Virginia. He had said about his son, he wrote a letter just describing what it was like after his son died. He said, “Today everything seems strange. Laundry is getting done. I walked my dog. I ate breakfast. Somehow I'm still breathing and my heart is still beating. My son lies in a casket half a world away.” There's going to be -- you know, when I did My Lai -- I tell this story a lot. When I did the My Lai story, more than a generation ago, it was 35 years ago, so almost two. When I did My Lai, one of the things that I discovered was that they had -- for some of you, most of you remember, but basically a group of American soldiers -- the analogy is so much like today. Then as now, our soldiers don't see enemies in a battlefield, they just walk on mines or they get shot by snipers, because It's always hidden. There's inevitable anger and rage and you dehumanize the people. We have done that with enormous success in Iraq. They're “rag-heads”. They're less than human. The casualty count -- as in Sudan, equally as bad. Staggering numbers that we're killing. In any case, you know, it's -- in this case, these -- a group of soldiers in 1968 went into a village. They had been in Vietnam for three months and lost about 10% of their people, maybe 10 or 15 to accidents, killings and bombings, and they ended up -- they thought they would meet the enemy and there were 550 women, children and old men and they executed them all. It took a day. They stopped in the middle and they had lunch. One of the kids who had done a lot of shooting. The Black and Hispanic soldiers, about 40 of them, there were about 90 men in the unit -- the Blacks and Hispanics shot in the air. They wouldn't shoot into the ditch. They collected people in three ditches and just began to shoot them. The Blacks and Hispanics shot up in the air, but the mostly White, lower middle class, the kids who join the Army Reserve today and National Guard looking for extra dollars, those kind of kids did the killing. One of them was a man named Paul Medlow, who did an awful lot of shooting. The next day, there was a moment -- one of the things that everybody remembered, the kids who were there, one of the mothers at the bottom of a ditch had taken a child, a boy, about two, and got him under her stomach in such a way that he wasn't killed. When they were sitting having the K rations -- that’s what they called them -- MRE’s now -- the kid somehow crawled up through the [inaudible] screaming louder and he began -- and Calley, the famous Lieutenant Calley, the Lynndie England of that tragedy, told Medlow: Kill him, “Plug him,” he said. And Medlow somehow, who had done an awful lot as I say, 200 bullets, couldn't do it so Calley ran up as everybody watched, with his carbine. Officers had a smaller weapon, a rifle, and shot him in the back of the head. The next morning, Medlow stepped on a mine and he had his foot blown off. He was being medevac’d out. As he was being medevac’d out, he cursed and everybody remembered, one of the chilling lines, he said, “God has punished me, and he's going to punish you, too.”

So a year-and-a-half later, I'm doing this story. And I hear about Medlow. I called his mother up. He lived in New Goshen, Indiana. I said, “I’m coming to see you. I don’t remember where I was, I think it was Washington State. I flew over there and to get there, you had to go to – I think Indianapolis and then to Terre Haute, rent a car and drive down into the Southern Indiana, this little farm. It was a scene out of Norman Rockwell's. Some of you remember the Norman Rockwell paintings. It's a chicken farm. The mother is 50, but she looks 80. Gristled, old. Way old – hard scrabble life, no man around. I said I'm here to see your son, and she said, okay. He's in there. He knows you're coming. Then she said, one of these great -- she said to me, “I gave them a good boy. And they sent me back a murderer.” So you go on 35 years. I'm doing in The New Yorker, the Abu Ghraib stories. I think I did three in three weeks. If some of you know about The New Yorker, that's unbelievable. But in the middle of all of this, I get a call from a mother in the East coast, Northeast, working class, lower middle class, very religious, Catholic family. She said, I have to talk to you. I go see her. I drive somewhere, fly somewhere, and her story is simply this. She had a daughter that was in the military police unit that was at Abu Ghraib. And the whole unit had come back in March, of -- The sequence is: they get there in the fall of 2003. Their reported after doing their games in the January of 2004. In March she is sent home. Nothing is public yet. The daughter is sent home. The whole unit is sent home. She comes home a different person. She had been married. She was young. She went into the Reserves, I think it was the Army Reserves to get money, not for college or for -- you know, these -- some of these people worked as night clerks in pizza shops in West Virginia. This not -- this is not very sophisticated. She came back and she left her husband. She just had been married before. She left her husband, moved out of the house, moved out of the city, moved out to another home, another apartment in another city and began working a different job. And moved away from everybody. Then over -- as the spring went on, she would go every weekend, this daughter, and every weekend she would go to a tattoo shop and get large black tattoos put on her, over increasingly -- over her body, the back, the arms, the legs, and her mother was frantic. What's going on? Comes Abu Ghraib, and she reads the stories, and she sees it. And she says to her daughter, “Were you there?” She goes to the apartment. The daughter slams the door. The mother then goes -- the daughter had come home -- before she had gone to Iraq, the mother had given her a portable computer. One of the computers that had a DVD in it, with the idea being that when she was there, she could watch movies, you know, while she was overseas, sort of a -- I hadn't thought about it, a great idea. Turns out a lot of people do it. She had given her a portable computer, and when the kid came back she had returned it, one of the things, and the mother then said I went and looked at the computer. She knows -- she doesn't know about depression. She doesn’t know about Freud. She just said, I was just -- I was just going to clean it up, she said. I had decided to use it again. She wouldn't say anything more why she went to look at it after Abu Ghraib. She opened it up, and sure enough there was a file marked “Iraq”. She hit the button. Out came 100 photographs. They were photographs that became -- one of them was published. We published one, just one in The New Yorker. It was about an Arab. This is something no mother should see and daughter should see too. It was the Arab man leaning against bars, the prisoner naked, two dogs, two shepherds, remember, on each side of him. The New Yorker published it, a pretty large photograph. What we didn’t publish was the sequence showed the dogs did bite the man -- pretty hard. A lot of blood. So she saw that and she called me, and away we go. There's another story.

For me, it's just another story, but out of this comes a core of -- you know, we all deal in “macro” in Washington. On the macro, we're hopeless. We're nowhere. The press is nowhere. The congress is nowhere. The military is nowhere. Every four-star General I know is saying, “Who is going to tell them we have no clothes?” Nobody is going to do it. Everybody is afraid to tell Rumsfeld anything. That's just the way it is. It's a system built on fear. It's not lack of integrity, it's more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It's a system that's completely been taken over -- by cultists. Anyway, what's going to happen, I think, as the casualties mount and these stories get around, and the mothers see the cost and the fathers see the cost, as the kids come home. And the wounded ones come back, and there's wards that you will never hear about. That's wards -- you know about the terrible catastrophic injuries, but you don't know about the vegetables. There's ward after ward of vegetables because the brain injuries are so enormous. As you maybe read last week, there was a new study in one of the medical journals that the number of survivors are greater with catastrophic injuries because of their better medical treatment and the better armor they have. So you get more extreme injuries to extremities. We're going to learn more and I think you're going to see, it's going to -- it's -- I'm trying to be optimistic. We're going to see a bottom swelling from inside the ranks. You're beginning to see it. What happened with the soldiers asking those questions, you may see more of that. I'm not suggesting we're going to have mutinies, but I'm going to suggest you're going to see more dissatisfaction being expressed. Maybe that will do it. Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But he could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous. We’re going to have some very bad months ahead. /end quote

And the idiots voted him back in. And all of the rest of us and all of the Iraqis and the entire Mid East now will have to pay and pay and pay.

Wednesday Night Garden Chat: Bokashi, Raised Beds, Suppliers

For a week or so now, I've been resisting the temptation to get on here and rail at the bunch of you about composting. Especially because I've discovered an exciting new substance which you can either purchase or make yourself.

I figured I was already driving you all crazy, though, so I held myself in check ... until I saw that Sister Scorpion is blogging about raised beds --- and one look at one of her links sent me right over the edge.

Where have you been all my life? Truly one of the loveliest raised beds I've ever seen, certainly putting to shame the ones I've tossed together from all the old lumber and sheds around this place. So it's time for me to take advantage of my now completely backhoed - tractored - and - bobcatted backyard (the septic dude really loves his trucks, believe me -- he may not have a home to call his own, but he must have $3-400,000 worth of bulldozers, backhoes, dumptrucks and who knows what else, all of which have been parked out front here and used out back over the past week) --- it's time for me to take advantage of his not simply putting in new septic (for almost nothing! and code, too), but completely rearranging, releveling, smoothing out and gentling the landscape of my back yard.

Which means real live raised beds.

Which gives me the opportunity to suggest you all check this out: Bokashi, an amazing substance made from fermented wheat bran which allows you to compost everything, including meat, dairy and bones. And which breaks it down quickly. The link shows a handy little appliance which also allows you to drain off the juice --- now, I haven't tried that yet, but am planning to this year.

I'm very excited about this because it allows me to compost without attracting every critter for miles around.

I also wanted to be sure you gardening fanatics out there know about Garden Watchdog. Now I prefer either trading seeds with people I know or buying mail order. I buy mail order because I live so far away from everything and don't like having to drive all over the place to get what I need. And Garden Watchdog has lengthy customer reviews of all the mail order places, including germination rates, prices, customer service, quality --- the important things.

I know people in the North are months from spring. But us down here, it's just around the corner and now's the time to get busy. I just got a bunch of new flats for starting seeds and small transplant pots --- the next step for me is figuring out where I'm going to start the plants given the plant room (don't ask) is full to the brim.

Down here, I can see new buds on my tiny lilacs that I haven't yet gotten in the ground (blushing) --- the blueberries are rearing to go --- the bees have woken up and are buzzing around furiously looking for some food.

It's just around the corner here. I can't wait!

" ... I know of his selfishness and unconcern for those who've been pushed into this hellhole."

Via Agonist:

Video Shows U.S. Hostage Seized in Iraq

quote: BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A videotape monitored Tuesday shows an American abducted last November by gunmen in Baghdad pleading for his life and appealing to Arab rulers, including Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, to intercede to spare his life.

Roy Hallums, 56, was seized Nov. 1 along with Robert Tarongoy of the Philippines during an armed assault on their compound in Baghdad's Mansour district. The two were working for a Saudi company that does catering for the Iraqi army. Both are missing.

On the tape, Hallums, with a rifle pointed at his head, stated his name and said "I have worked with American forces."

"I am please asking for help because my life is in danger because it's been proved I worked for American forces," he said. "I'm not asking for any help from President Bush because I know of his selfishness and unconcern for those who've been pushed into this hellhole." /end quote

The news out of Iraq gets worse every day. It infuriates me to even think about it --- all of it, the entire thing, everything that has appened was completely predictable, and this jackass administration and their freaking sociopathic supporters countered all of it with claims anyone protesting was nothing more than anti-American.

I don't even want to know what they're saying now or what their excuses will be when they pull the "Oops! We seem to have made a little mistake!" and withdraw, leaving behind all the carnage and devastation and chaos that THEY --- THIS ADMINISTRATION AND ITS SUPPORTERS --- are completely responsible for.

There are no words --- none --- which can adequately convey the depth of their inhumanity and immorality.

Speaking of which ...

Spring is definitely on the way here. Not only are there honeybees flying around inside my place, but legislation has been introduced to make strawberries the state fruit of Oklahoma.

I personally think either huckleberries or elderberries would be a better choice. But having just ordered very nice strawberries from Forest Farm (along with the elderberries, and concord and variegated grapes I ordered) --- and loving nothing more than a freshly picked, at the peak of ripeness strawberry --- although blueberries come might close, as do ... well, I like them all --- and living a mere 15 miles from the center of a huge annual strawberry festival, I think they'll do quite nicely as our state fruit, and I wouldn't mind a bit.

Which reminds me --- I also want to plant a huckleberry patch. Next year, next year!!


Via Majikthise, a subject of interest to me at Respectful Insolence entitled You Might Be An Altie.

quote: [P]lease remember that the following traits (and the term "altie") are NOT meant to describe all (or even most) users of alternative medicine or people who think certain alternative medicine modalities are useful treatments. They describe a strident, anti-intellectual, and anti-science subset of alt-med users, who tend to make impossibly grandiose claims for their favorite remedy and usually also express a strong distrust (or even hatred) of conventional medicine. The problem is, rational users of alt-med, who have a more realistic concept of where it might and might not be useful, tend to be reluctant to criticize alties, at least on Usenet and web discussion groups. /end of quote

Respectful Insolence goes on to outline a number of traits by which "alties" can be recognized.

My reaction: oh yea, I know these people.

Now, I'm actually a faithful adherent of certain alternative remedies and treatments. For example, I just purchased even more elderberry plants (from Forest Farm) because I believe in elderberry wine and elderberry cobbler as two of the great, unheralded remedies of all time. I also put in a blueberry patch last year for the same reasons --- not to mention, grapes. I eat a lot of curry and onions, and studiously avoid doctors --- I mean, there's a reason they're called Sawbones.

I'm pretty much an anti-pill, the-way-to-stay-healthy-is-to-stay-away-from-doctors kind of person.

However ... and it's a big however ...

I'm also a great believer in medical science. And I certainly believe more in conventional medicine than alternative, at least for some things.

My gripe with pills and doctors, I suppose, is that too many people use them as a replacement for common sense and good practices. Got heart problems? Get some pills and a bypass so you can keep eating that crap at McDonalds. Got diabetes? Get some pills so you can keep right on chowing down on the Little Debbies and cheese Danish. Joints feeling a little creaky? Get some pills so you can keep on sitting on your duff day in and day out, but no longer feel the consequences of those frozen, calcified, cranky, out of practice old joints.

People like that upset me, especially when they're people I care about but am powerless to persuade.

But they're not nearly as bad as the True Believers in alternative treatments. The worst I've encountered are the CureZone Junkies and Reiki Healers.

It's my opinion cults have formed around the various alternative medicines and treatments, and membership in The Cult requires a certain rigidity of mind and intolerance of difference. Alties also seem to have any number of ailments and disorders which --- oddly enough --- can't be detected by normal medical practice.

My first major exposure to this phenomenon was in the form of a couple who suffered competing undiagnosable, vague, debilitating disorders and ailments. Their lives revolved around their chelation treatments and colon cleansings and coffee enemas and horrid looking concoctions and whatnot which would alleviate the distress of their disorders for a few days, or until their next trip to The Witch Doctor.

When I violated the sanctity of their disorders by suggesting perhaps a little sunshine and a walk might be good for them, I was cast like a demon from the bowels of their misery.

My next encounter was with a psychic therapist --- yes, that's right --- who claimed my work was actually her work that she was channeling to me.

I realized then there might be a problem with these people.

What I'd like to see are full psychological evaluations of The True Believer types in alternative medicine, published for all the world to see. They're really causing problems, especially for the people like me who believe there is some efficacy to many of these treatments, but who don't want to become involved with flaming, stark raving mad and delusional people in order to learn about these thing.

Maybe if we could get some of these lunatics out of the way, we could proceed with research proving what we all know: that nothing will cure you faster than a nice big piece of homemade blueberry pie (made with homegrown blueberries and encased in a nice lattice-topped cinnamon crust) with a bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream.

Dems hang tough on The Evil Abu

There are several stories at Kos about this --- it appears the Dems are finally hanging tough and sticking together.

Good. It's entirely possible The Evil Abu will be confirmed nonetheless --- but at least the Dems stuck together on this one and acted as true representatives of their constituency, rather than coopted politicos.

Let's hope this signals the beginning stages of our reemergence as a party based on truly progressive, democratic ideals.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Your Facade is Cracking

News of the ridiculous

quote: Internationally known artists Chris Burden and Nancy Rubins have retired abruptly from their longtime professorships at UCLA in part because the university refused to suspend a graduate student who used a gun during a classroom performance art piece, a spokeswoman for the artists said Friday.

"They feel this was sort of domestic terrorism. There should have been more outrage and a firmer response," said Sarah Watson, a director at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, which represents Burden and Rubins. "People feared for their lives."


The handgun incident occurred Nov. 29 at UCLA's graduate art studio annex in Culver City.

The brief performance involved a simulation of Russian roulette, in which the student appeared before the class holding a handgun, put in what appeared to be a bullet, spun the cylinder, then pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger, according to one student's account that was confirmed by law enforcement sources. The weapon didn't fire. The student quickly left the room, then the audience heard a shot from outside. What ensued is not clear, but police said no one was hurt.


Lokman said students can be suspended immediately, without the usual process of hearings and appeals, if the dean of students' office considers them a safety threat to themselves or others. In this case, he said, after an assessment by "qualified psychological experts," the dean's office determined that suspension was not warranted. Watson, however, said Burden and Rubins felt that the student should have been suspended while the investigations were continuing.

Burden made his name in the early 1970s with influential and controversial performance art. In his best-known piece, "Shoot," performed in a Santa Ana gallery while he was a graduate student at UC Irvine, Burden had an assistant stand 15 feet away and shoot him in the upper arm with a .22-caliber rifle.

Watson said Burden's work was controlled and that the audiences never felt in jeopardy. The UCLA case is different, she said, because it was a surprise action and "there was genuine fear."

The student who did the performance is Joseph Deutch, 25, according to the campus police log entry on the case. Campus police said that in the course of the investigation, Deutch handed over a gun that was not a real firearm. /end quote

You know, Burden's career was made not simply by the *performance* where he had an assistant shoot him. He also once threw himself onto the LA freeway in a trashbag.

Sheesh. Academics.

/end of snark

Why Republicans Win

At Seeing the Forest. Read it.

No to The Evil Abu

Armando at Kos is spearheading a coalition of netcitizens/bloggers to oppose the confirmation of Abu Gonzales.

It's good.

Get over there and add your name to the list. Now.

The text:
No on Gonzales by Armando Tue Jan 25th, 2005 at 14:43:07 CST

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. In this case, we, the undersigned bloggers, have decided to speak as one and collectively author a document of opposition. We oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the position of Attorney General of the United States, and we urge every United States Senator to vote against him.

As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Convention, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.

In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint."

Legal opinions at the highest level have grave consequences. What were the consequences of Gonzales's actions? The policies for which Gonzales provided a cover of legality - views which he expressly reasserted in his Senate confirmation hearings - inexorably led to abuses that have undermined military discipline and the moral authority our nation once carried. His actions led directly to documented violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and widespread abusive conduct in locales around the world.

Michael Posner of Human Rights First observed: "After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should 'judge us by our actions [and] watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.'" We agree. It is because of this that we believe the only proper course of action is for the Senate to reject Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. As Posner notes, "[t]he world is indeed watching." Will the Senate condone torture? Will the Senate condone the rejection of the rule of law?

With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.

Signed, Daily Kos Management (past and present)

Terri Schiavo, Johnny Carson, COPD, the end of life and our right to die

Yesterday I wanted to do a lengthy post about Johnny Carson and emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), but there just wasn't the time. Carson had emphysema because he was such a heavy smoker for so many years, and it appears he died from it.

COPD is a horrible way to go. Although the ravages of lung cancer are firmly embedded in the popular imagination, people are much less familiar with the devastation that COPD can wreak.

My dad died from COPD. Yes, there were other extenuating circumstances and there were more immediate causes of death, specifically an accident and a morphine overdose. I now realize, however --- just as the medical people involved tried to explain to me --- that the accident may have been the specific singular incident which lead to his downfall and the morphine overdose may have been immediately causative, but he was already well on his way to death from COPD.

From what I know, there are two "folk" categories for people suffering from COPD: red puffers and blue bloaters. My dad was a blue bloater --- no emphysema but chronic bronchitis and suffering its innumerable ravages. Unlike some people with COPD, he was also quite thin, which was symptomatic of his descent toward death --- he never bloated, but instead lost his appetite due to dementia and the beginning stages of organ failure.

This picture of Carson could serve as a fairly good representative of the ravages of COPD. Although I can't state with absolute certainty that Carson's bloated appearance is a consequence of COPD, I would wager a guess that it is.

It isn't simply a matter of difficulty breathing with COPD. My father exhibited signs of dementia his last three or four years of life, and was suffering kidney failure, among other things. You see, nicotine doesn't just affect the lungs --- it's also a toxic substance which damages the kidneys and other organs. I think I read somewhere that Carson was suffering liver failure --- my father's liver was also failing as a result of years of smoking.

So what does any of this have to do with Terri Schiavo?

Quite simply, there are fates much worse than death. And it certainly looks to me like Terri Schiavo has been forced to suffer a fate much, much, much worse than death.

I spent six months watching my father die. Yes, he was cognizant --- much more cognizant than Schiavo. But I can pinpoint the exact moment "he" died. It was approximately three months before his body died. He'd emerged from a month long coma, and we enjoyed about another month of "him," albeit "him" in a somewhat altered form from his usual self. But things spun out of control --- there was simply too much damage to his body --- and "his" last words to me as "himself" were "Are you going to be alright?" I knew he was asking for permission to die, and I told him yes, I will --- you just do whatever you need to do.

From there, it was as though we were watching the layers of his brain burning off. It was a slow, torturous, horrific thing to witness, accompanied by all the classic signs of impending death. Seeing dead bodies and ghosts of those long past was the easiest part. It was seeing the feet turn purple then, a week or so later, the lower legs turning purple, the signs of multi-organ failure, infections of the most horrific kind. Bit by bit, shutting down. But still talking and joking and laughing all the way there. But not as himself.

It would have been a profound injustice --- immoral, in fact, as immoral as the war or murder or the worst kinds of torture --- for us to have hooked him up to feeding tubes and life support, although we had to fight them tooth and nail to keep them from doing that.

Continuously throughout his life, my dad had specified he wanted to be taken out back and shot, should he ever reach the point that he did. Needless to say, we couldn't do that --- but we could fight the powers that be from prolonging his life into eternity by feeding tubes. I have friends now who were unaware of how cruel those feeding tubes are --- the body of their father has been on a feeding tube for three years now. But he's no longer there and hasn't been for years.

Why we as a people have done what we've done to Terri Schiavo, I will never understand. I'm reminded of all the familiar arguments by this post on Kos. Yet, the arguments for keeping her hooked to that tube strike me as emerging from nothing more than selfishness. It's only for our benefit that we insist she stay connected. It's a national "feel good" campaign.

And it's not that I'm a full advocate of euthanasia, because I'm not. But there comes a point at which we are no longer prolonging life, but simply salving our conscience in the most selfish of ways.

She deserves some peace.

Backers of Gay Marriage Ban Use Social Security as Cudgel

"We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the president is approaching the difficult issue of Social Security privatization where the public is deeply divided and the marriage issue where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side,"

Dear Arlington Group: Thank you so much for such a completely inaccurate characterization of the way so many of us feel. I'm sure we can continue to count on you for many more manipulative misrepresentations crafted to bully people.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Past the point of no return

I've seen this article mentioned here and there, but think it deserves a lot more attention.

Really, people, even though we have a thoroughly corrupt and uncooperative government, there is so, so, so much we can do on our own. I've already cut my driving down to only three days a week, with an occasional trip one other day. I invest in heirloom seeds, in order to help ensure plant diversity, but also to feed myself. I do lasagna gardening, using not only the nice, manure laden old straw around here, but old cardboard boxes, cuttings, shredded paper, coffee and tea. This not only makes the process of gardening so much easier in rock laden soil, but it builds the soil. I have had (and will again shortly) chickens to eat my bugs, thereby alleviating the need for pesticides (although the place does get one good goround the first of the season, due to ticks). I'm finally beginning to compost --- which has been quite a trick for me, given how long it's taken me to figure out how to do it without attracting every bear, deer, possum, groundhog, armadillo, pack rat, rat rat and whatever else in a 10 mile radius. I'm also starting to worm farm and investigating installing solar here.

And that's for starters. If everyone would just do a bit, we really could start to turn this around, even without the radical Bushinistas.

Countdown to global catastrophe

Climate change: report warns point of no return may be reached in 10 years, leading to droughts, agricultural failure and water shortages By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

The global warming danger threshold for the world is clearly marked for the first time in an international report to be published tomorrow - and the bad news is, the world has nearly reached it already.

The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world - and it is remarkably brief. In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.

The report, Meeting The Climate Challenge, is aimed at policymakers in every country, from national leaders down. It has been timed to coincide with Tony Blair's promised efforts to advance climate change policy in 2005 as chairman of both the G8 group of rich countries and the European Union.

And it breaks new ground by putting a figure - for the first time in such a high-level document - on the danger point of global warming, that is, the temperature rise beyond which the world would be irretrievably committed to disastrous changes. These could include widespread agricultural failure, water shortages and major droughts, increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests - with the added possibility of abrupt catastrophic events such as "runaway" global warming, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or the switching-off of the Gulf Stream.

The report says this point will be two degrees centigrade above the average world temperature prevailing in 1750 before the industrial revolution, when human activities - mainly the production of waste gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), which retain the sun's heat in the atmosphere - first started to affect the climate. But it points out that global average temperature has already risen by 0.8 degrees since then, with more rises already in the pipeline - so the world has little more than a single degree of temperature latitude before the crucial point is reached.

More ominously still, it assesses the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after which the two-degree rise will become inevitable, and says it will be 400 parts per million by volume (ppm) of CO2.

The current level is 379ppm, and rising by more than 2ppm annually - so it is likely that the vital 400ppm threshold will be crossed in just 10 years' time, or even less (although the two-degree temperature rise might take longer to come into effect).

"There is an ecological timebomb ticking away," said Stephen Byers, the former transport secretary, who co-chaired the task force that produced the report with the US Republican senator Olympia Snowe. It was assembled by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Centre for American Progress in the US, and The Australia Institute.The group's chief scientific adviser is Dr Rakendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report urges all the G8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and to double their research spending on low-carbon energy technologies by 2010. It also calls on the G8 to form a climate group with leading developing nations such as India and China, which have big and growing CO2 emissions.

"What this underscores is that it's what we invest in now and in the next 20 years that will deliver a stable climate, not what we do in the middle of the century or later," said Tom Burke, a former government adviser on green issues who now advises business.

The report starkly spells out the likely consequences of exceeding the threshold. "Beyond the 2 degrees C level, the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly," it says.

"It is likely, for example, that average-temperature increases larger than this will entail substantial agricultural losses, greatly increased numbers of people at risk of water shortages, and widespread adverse health impacts. [They] could also imperil a very high proportion of the world's coral reefs and cause irreversible damage to important terrestrial ecosystems, including the Amazon rainforest."

It goes on: "Above the 2 degrees level, the risks of abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change also increase. The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea level more than 10 metres over the space of a few centuries), the shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation (and, with it, the Gulf Stream), and the transformation of the planet's forests and soils from a net sink of carbon to a net source of carbon."

Skipping School and New Jobs

It isn't so much that I'm sick as that I feel awful --- my ears hurts, there's a tickle in my throat and I'm all stuffed up. It may be allergies or I could have some horrible flu.

Whatever, I realized this morning while hanging over my first cup of coffee that I'm going to have to get a new job. This one is killing me, simple as that. I just spent the entire weekend grading and am looking forward to 16 more weeks of doing nothing but grading and concocting suitable lesson plans and grading some more ad nauseam nauseam nauseam.

It's always like this to an extent when you teach --- but it's especially bad at this job because so many of these kids are coming out of schools where they've never been taught a thing. Seriously --- no exaggeration.

And not just they've never been taught anything --- I'm having to play the roles of speech pathologist, therapist, literacy coach, disabilities counselor, whatever. I've dealt with more functional illiteracy than you can shake a stick at. I've dealt with people who, as teenagers, sustained head injuries which put them into comas for a month and for which they never received rehab because nobody ever bothered to test their language skills, and it's taken me spending hours --- days, in fact --- staring at pages of text in which there is no discernible subject or verb and in which sentence level word order is backward and finally throwing my hands up in the air and saying this is a head injury problem, but where's the head injury? And I've spents days tracking down neurology clinics for students like this. And I now have another one --- ANOTHER ONE --- that I discovered last night.

I've spent hours trying to determine if the inability to distinguish "what" from "that" is dialectal, a simple mistake or indicative of some obscure learning disability.

I have forty year olds in my classes who can't read. I have 19 year olds who are gifted and talented, but homeless.

And at a basic gut level, I love my job. My classes are overflowing and I get the gratification of people coming to me to thank me or tell me I'm the best teacher they've ever had.

I'm also the most hated teacher because I flunk plagiarists and lazy-asses and jive-asses who think smooth talking is all they need to get by. They hate me. You bet they do. :=D

The problem is, it's like being a missionary. And I'm no missionary. And I can't continue to put this amount of time into it.

So it's time to rethink this. I'm hired through next September. So there's time. But how it will go, I don't know. Although i suspect it's time to start looking at other jobs before I hit complete burnout.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

While I'm looking forward to spring, however ...

Once in Iraq, Resta's brigade was assigned to the Army's 1st Infantry Division and stationed in northeast Iraq. Insurgents attacked the camp with rifle and mortar fire two or three times a week. One time, an 8-year-old Iraqi girl was riding in a vehicle that bypassed an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint. An AK-47 round passed diagonally through her stomach, shredding her internal organs. She was brought into Resta's camp for treatment. He remembers her long, brown hair laying across her lifeless body.

Resta says that aside from treating these kinds of injuries, his commanders would not allow the medics to treat everyday ailments of Iraqi citizens they came across during patrols.

"We were told that the Army did not have enough money to be giving out free medicine," says Resta. "And that the Iraqis would have to get used to their own health-care system anyway."

On Tuesday, Resta began classes at Philadelphia Community College, where he's studying nursing. He says his Guard recruiter conveniently forgot to tell him that his college benefits would end when his contract expired. Though that contract expires next February, Resta has three and a half years of school left and he expects he'll have to take out even more loans to complete his degree.

"You would think there would be some provision to at least give me back the benefits for the two years I was on active duty," Resta says angrily. "But nope, there's nothing."

He could re-enlist for another four years to get full benefits, but in all likelihood, he would once again be pulled out of school and redeployed to fight a war he doesn't believe in. He plans to talk to a lawyer associated with Iraqi Veterans Against the War to pursue a possible lawsuit against the National Guard for his lost benefits, but even he admits it would be a bit of a publicity stunt. For now, he plans on pouring his energy into antiwar campaigning. He has his first public speaking engagement at the Collingswood, N.J., public library Jan. 28.

"People are always coming up and thanking me for my service," he says. "It makes me angry. We're not doing anything over there except sitting around waiting to get shot."

It is beyond my abilities to understand the justifications being given for this stupid war.

It's time to draft a few Republicans' kids. Including the Bush twins. No more living high off the blood and tears of others.


I just ate a plate of oyster mushrooms plucked only an hour ago from one of the mushroom patches in the plant room (don't ask).

I sauted them in a bit of olive oil and garnished with the closest thing to salt I eat: Braggs Liquid Aminos. A truly tasty brew, similar to soy but better, I think.

While in the plant room (don't ask), I noticed the ornamental pepper I got last fall for a dollar is blooming. It's actually three pepper plants, but I didn't want to separate them until they'd recouped from whatever hell they'd been through.

I've also been corresponding by email for a few days now with my former certified organic farm friends --- we're having dinner next week to exchange seeds --- and I'll be bringing home a couple of chickens. The chickens will live in my combination potting shed - raised bed - grape arbor that I built last spring from the strangest old steel building out in my backyard area (I say 'area' because I have another few acres of land out behind me here).

I can't wait. I miss having chickens around.

In another few days, I'll be ordering elderberry plants (Black Beauties) and grape stocks (Concord, to go with the Niagaras I planted last year). Not sure of everything I'll be planting, but I know I'll be putting tri-colored pole beans and some kind of squash along one fence, and loofah and birdhouse gourds by the blueberries. If I can get the greenhouse fixed, I'll be starting chard and edible chrysanthemums in there, along with some other stuff.

Of course I'll have giant moonflowers for the trellis on the front porch, and strawberries, sage, pinks and morning glories for the other side of the porch.

One garden already has thyme, echinacea and sage going --- it's the one with the grape arbor.

I still have a lot more planning to do, however.

I absolutely can't wait.

Sunday Evening Blogging to Annoy American Linguists, Especial Syntacticians

You know all your theories completely fail to account for and adequately describe polysynthetic languages.

You know that, don't you? Even though you come up with clever book titles and academic papers which glide ever so carefully around the edges of the problem.

Could it be that you just don't want to admit it?

Come on now, linguists, what good is a set of theories which lacks the ability to account for and adequately describe how many hundreds of languages?

Do you think maybe Vine DeLoria has a point? Or do we not go there anymore, what with tenure and whatnot?

/end of snark

Not only ...

Not only do Riverbend and Baghdad have no water ...

but there will be no foreign observers to monitor the Iraqi elections.

Meaning a 100% certainty a Bush Puppet will be elected and the insurgency will expand to a point I'm not sure we can even imagine at this time.

No Water in Baghdad

Riverbend has no water.

Baghdad has no water.

And our media is so busy covering for Bush and all our unfortunate incidents that we don't even know Baghdad has no water.

Reality based economics

It appears interest rates will likely rise in the near future, as rumor has it the economists have finally knocked some sense into Bush. At least on this issue. Maybe.

Stephen Roach has been harping on this and related issues for months now, and for good reason. Many Americans are blissfully ignorant of the perils of the current economic landscape. This ignorance has been cultivated by the administration, which has encouraged consumerism and kept interest rates low enough that anyone --- even people who aren't in any position to do so by any stretch of the imagination --- anyone can purchase a ten room McMansion and two new cars, and fill them both with more worthless doodads than you can shake a stick at. Cell phones for every member of the family, each with a different number, lunch and dinner every day at the latest chic cafes and restaurants, whatever.

I'll admit I shared that ignorance for a short time, but lost enough quickly enough that I was slamdunked into economic paranoia just in time. Since then --- and it's been a while --- I've studiously pinched every penny and avoided the stock market like the plague. I've also made more money as a result than those who've trusted Our Fearless Leader's Bushonomic Policy. Not a lot, mind you. But enough that, should interest rates rise, I'll be in great shape. Unlike those I know who've trusted 401s, Bush and The Real Estate Market.

I've also done it making the equivalent of far less than minimum wage, if you count actual hours worked. I mean, I AM a teacher in one of the lowest paying states, even at college level. And I pay my own health insurance. But I'm doing better than many people I know making $100K and more a year.

And I'm doing better than them because I've been working on a cash only basis for three years now. As a result, I own my home and land lock, stock and barrel. I own my car. Etc. Etc. Etc.

In any case, if you haven't yet done so, now is the time to cut up your credit cards, lock into a low rate on your mortgage ... and buy seeds for that garden! Because, when the news of rising interest rates finally makes it into the New York Times, it's already getting to be too late.