Monday, January 31, 2011

31 January 2011 Is looting a univeral instinct?

Over the past decades, in nearly all natural or man-made disasters, news agencies have presented video after video of stores and government buildings being looted. It doesn’t seem to matter where the disaster occurs, when it occurs, or how it occurs. Someone will decide that the time is right to help their self to whatever they can pick up and carry away.

I can recall seeing new footage of looting in Detroit, in Washington D.C., in Los Angeles, and in many other places visited by disaster.

After the Hussein government was over thrown in 2003, Iraqis took to the streets. They were not celebrating their “freedom from tyranny,” they were looting. They could be seen in countless videotapes ripping plumbing from the walls, carrying off furniture from offices, and, of course, irreplaceable antiquities from the national museum. Part of the responsibility belongs to the Bush Administration officials who fired the police and the military, leaving no agency to prevent lawlessness.

Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan, infrastructure improvement projects remain incompleted and unlikely to be completed due to continual looting of building and storage sites. Pointing out the theft to Iraqis and Afghanis seems to make no impression upon the citizenry or the governments involved.

When Israel evacuated its citizens from Gaza it left behind a fully functioning hydroponic greenhouse operation designed to grow salad greens for human food. The evacuation agreements hammered out included donations to fully pay for the greenhouse farms. These buildings would have provided both food and employment for Gazans for decades. Yet before the last IDF vehicle crossed the border they farms were looted and then absolutely destroyed.

In the U.S., most recently looting occurred in New Orleans. Food and clothing were taken first – since none was being provided for sale or by FEMA. It did not take long for alcohol, firearms, and electronics to become the items of choice. People who have no electrical power have no way to use stolen electronics.

A friend of mine, a professor of Classical Studies, who has been excavating historical sites in Greece for years, expressed his concern for the Egyptian antiquities. It seems that not only is urban looting and looting of museums taking place but that organized teams are pillaging those historic sites that have previously been protected from wanton looting and careless excavation by the Egyptian government. Those items that are found and sold on the black market are likely to be lost forever to Egypt and to posterity.

Poverty, crushing poverty in the Middle East and in South West Asia, are powerful motivators, driving many to engage in looting for survival. But in many cases what we see taking place seems to be looting for the sake of looting. It’s not confined to any ethnic group. All religious groups have prohibitions regarding theft. It may result in being killed by property owners or by government agencies tasked with stopping looters. It seems to transcend all social and cultural boundaries.

I have no sympathy for looters who take advantage of civil unrest to destroy, who carry off items they have no need for nor use for. I’m equally repelled by those black marketers who intend to get rich selling pieces of history that then fail to be catalogued and incorporated into our human history. For looting history, shooting the looters on sight has a well deserved historical continuity.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

30 January 2011 Nobody knows you when you’re done and out


The Two Abortion Wars: A Highly Intrusive Federal Bill

Published: January 29, 2011

The Smith bill also would take certain restrictions on federal financing for abortions that now must be renewed every year and make them permanent. It would allow federal financing of abortions in cases of “forcible” rape but not statutory or coerced rape, and in cases where a woman is in danger of death from her pregnancy but not of other serious health damage. It would free states from having to provide abortions in such emergency cases.

A separate Republican bill would deny federal funds for family planning services to any organization that provides abortions. It is aimed primarily at Planned Parenthood’s hundreds of health centers, which also provide many other valuable services. No federal money is used for the abortions. This is a reckless effort to cripple an irreplaceable organization out of pure politics.

Cassi Creek: Once again the GOP\teavangelists have shown us what they really want to do during this legislative session. Despite all the claims that jobs are the top priority, despite all the claims that tax cuts for the rich will magically cause jobs to spring from nowhere, we find that when the “symbolic” attack on health care reform is opened, the next target becomes abortion.

Jobs, say every poll, are the primary concern of most Americans. Making enough money to feed and house one’s self and one’s family is of far greater concern than is helping the theocratic right intrude into everyone else’s life.

Roe v. Wade is the Christian right’s perpetual target, along with birth control education, and “defending “marriage” from the depredations of the “godless socialists perverts.” While the bill of Rights prohibits any state religion being established, the Christian right has decided that the “establishment clause” does not apply to Christianity.

The teavangelists plan to make abortion so difficult that it will essentially become impossible to perform in the U.S. In order to do this they are willing to force women to gestate and deliver fetuses that are the result of incest, the result of rape, and that are so genetically damaged as to be either non-viable after delivery or that will require extreme levels of medical support from the instant of delivery until they die. The GOPer\teavangelists are constantly citing the sanctity of all life and their demands that government intrusion into private lives be eliminated. Yet they demand a state that intrudes into the most personal of decisions – to have or not have children because of the dictates of an equally intrusive agency, Christianity.

Michelle Bachman, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, and the entire teabagger demagoguery mob spread rumors about secret camps built by the Democrats for the re-education and indoctrination of citizens. Perhaps they should pause and consider the possibility that there will be, instead, breeding camp where women who do not wish to carry or deliver fetuses will be interned for attempting to terminate a pregnancy. Given the denial of women’s rights to choose to reproduce or to not reproduce by the GOPers\teavangelists, I am far more concerned that we may see such breeding camps throughout the nation, beginning in the red states.

What will not happen, regardless of how many women are forced to carry and deliver unwanted children is any government program to house, feed, educate, and otherwise support the unwanted children of parents who can not now afford them. Nor will there be any factual birth control information provided by schools or community-based groups.

The GOPers\teavangelists wail about a generation of throw-away children. They seem unable to understand that they are the force creating more and more of the unwanted.

I do not object to federal funding for abortion, I support it for many reasons. I do oppose and will continue to oppose fertility treatments being paid for by any governmental agency. Given the huge number of children available for adoption along with the religious right’s insistence that even more be added to the pool of unfortunates, there is no justification for any insurance plan, private of public funded to cover fertility treatments.

Abortion is a poor solution to many societal problems but it must always be available to women who choose it.  The distance from prohibition to breeding camps is much shorter than we wish to admit.  There is still a huge portion of the Christian fundamentalist world that views women only as a continual source of new little fundamentalist males.   

Saturday, January 29, 2011

29 January 2011 Walk me through that equation again

Volcanology – Geology 3000 – at ETSU caught my eye and my interest when I was looking for a non-history course to take this semester. The instructor welcomed me into the class despite my lack of physical geology education in my undergrad or post-grad curriculum. He kindly provided me a physical geology text to use in preparation. I waded through the material he suggested.

I have no problem with the physical realities of geology although I must admit it would be interesting to see how it is taught when there is the very real probability that 50% of the students may believe that the planet is less than 6000 years old. That singular lack of contact with reality could prove very amusing.

Bill Maher had a Congressman from Georgia on his program last night. The gentleman from Georgia was forced to admit that he does not believe in evolution. He had the good graces to appear somewhat embarrassed as he revealed that he places more trust in mythology than science. He then called for the nation’s acceptance of and action about global warming to be decided by “putting the science on the table.” He offered the opinion that “some very good science” supports his anti-evolution stance and proves that global warming is a myth. Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed to have anyone so poorly grounded in science and so firmly based in literal interpretation of Genesis mythology representing our citizens. Even if the citizens are equally poorly educated, they deserve leaders who understand science and who are not in thrall to theocrats and myths.

Today’s newspaper has a large article about a creationism workshop to be held at various churches and bible colleges in the N.E. TN region in the near future. One of the keynote speakers is to be the founder and director of the “Creation Museum” in Kentucky. This is the place that demonstrates the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs in its tableaux. Disneyland for the truly poorly educated. The same place is planning to build a full-scale ark to demonstrate how Noah loaded all the animals and survived the flood. We really need to ramp up the teaching of science in our schools and tell the creationists to go screw their selves when they scream that they are being “persecuted for being Christians.” They’re not being persecuted for being Christians. They may be the objects of ridicule for being so poorly educated by choice.

Back to the volcanoes now. The concepts and the reality offer me no problems. The physics used to describe, to predict, and to define the processes driving volcanism are another matter.

I last studied physics in 1967, 45 years ago. We had no calculators to solve equations. We wrote them out and solved them by using slide rules – something most of my classmates have never seen or used. Physics kicked my butt then because my math preparation was less complete than it should have been. I’ve not spent any free time studying physics, other than that needed to work in clinical medicine and clinical laboratories, since then. The scope of physics has not changed but the tools used to measure and define physics parameters and problems have increased in complexity and ability. The Hubble was still only a dream. GPS’s used to measure deformation and describe/define location were concepts for military purposes in 1967.

I’m keeping up with the reading for the course but I find it a layer of magnitude more difficult than keeping up with reading for history courses. That shouldn’t surprise me at all but I admit to the shock that comes to the surface when I’m faced with fluid dynamics equations. This weekend will be spent in more review than I had hoped. Back to the books and the slide rule!

Friday, January 28, 2011

28 January 2011 Same song different group?

The John Birch Society by Michael Brown

“Oh, we're meetin' at the courthouse at eight o'clock tonight

You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right

Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft

But we're taking down the names of everybody turning left

Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society

Here to save our country from a communistic plot

Join the John Birch Society, help us fill the ranks

To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks…

“We'll teach you how to spot 'em in the cities or the sticks

For even Jasper Junction is just full of Bolsheviks

The CIA's subversive and so's the FCC

There's no one left but thee and we, and we're not sure of thee…”

This song was performed by the Chad Mitchell Trio in glorious three-part harmony many times on many college campuses and in other venues around the nation. I never saw them in concert. They broke up for a time in 1965. They are now playing together again.

This song has been in my mind a lot lately as well as another they performed, “Barry’s Boys.”

We're the bright young men

Who wanna go back to nineteen-ten

We're Barry's boys

We're the kids with a cause

Yes a government like grandmama's

We're Barry's boys

We're the new kind of youth at your Alma Mater

Back to silver standards and solid Goldwater

Back to when the poor were poor and rich were rich

And you felt so damn secure just knowing which were which

We're the kids who agree

To be social without security

We're Barry's boys

'Cause his hat's in the ring

Where Westbrook Pegler once was king

Now he's too left wing

So if you don't recognize any old Red China

Or Canada, or Britain, or South Carolina

You too can join the crew

Tippecanoe and Nixon too

Back to Barry

Back to cash and carry

Back with Barry's boys

Every time I hear some inane gibberish from Palin, some flaming idiocy from Bachman, I recall these songs and think about how little difference there is in the John Birch Society of 1964 and the teavangelists of 2011. Even more disturbing is the realization that Barry Goldwater would seem to be too liberal to the GOPers and teavangelists we now have trying to roll our government back to the antebellum period. Goldwater was conservative but he was not a racist, not an anti-Semite, and he was not lacking in intellect or education.

Dinner tonight will be a homemade adaptation of Vietnamese Pho.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, January 27, 2011

27 January 2011 Does this speech make me look fat?

Comments from various journalists:

Sarah Palin turns Obama's 'Win the future' into 'WTF'

Asked what she would do differently to lower the unemployment level, Palin did not offer any specific proposals, but insisted that the president's plan was wrong and said Obama had failed to realize the country was already buried under crippling debt. Palin also called for the elimination of National Public Radio and the National Endowment for the Arts, calling them "fluffery."

Palin was also asked to react to Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) tea party response to the president's State of the Union, in light of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) formal Republican response. "I love it when anybody goes rogue for the right reasons," said Palin, making a reference to the title of her best-selling book.

"I've been accused of dividing within that establishment of the Republican Party too for some years now," she continued, "and I don't see it as division. This is one thing that I love about the Republican Party -- we believe in competition even within our own party, you know, and we don't have the fighting instincts of a bunch of sheep like I think a lot of Democrats do."

The operative clause in the Palin comment is that “Palin did not offer any specific proposals.” This is, of course, nothing new. Palin and her Clones either offer no solutions or they offer solutions so inappropriate that they have no grounding in reality. Unless it benefits the wealthy and costs the once-middle class, it has no appeal to the teavangelists.

Palin is foolishly unmasking her true nature. It is surfacing in the petty little comments that she makes with the intent of keeping her name in exposure by the very media she claims to despise. The lack of education that has always been evident to those who look past her clothing, makeup, and pageant personae, is causing her to be caught in an endless loop of verbal fuck-ups that she is not going to be able to escape.

The cure for Palin, Bachman, Huckabee, and other poorly educated demagogue\candidates is available but the GOPers who have used them to reel in the even more poorly educated and the religious fanatics who are hoping for theocracy need to stand their ground and force them into the limelight. None of them can stand well in a real debate – one not controlled by Fox, one not using pre-loaded, pre-approved questions. It is time for the GOP to demand that Palin and clones leave the world of Facebook and twitter for the big leagues. If they can’t stand the heat of a real interview, a genuine panel discussion, and perhaps a trip onto Bill Maher’s panel, they can’t stand the heat of a real campaign. And they certainly can’t stand the stress of the job they all claim to be qualified to hold.

It’s time for the GOP to be truly transparent in its dealings with the American public. They need to put these idiots and the other unqualified into the spotlights and make them deal with the real media. If Palin can’t recall what books or newspapers she reads, it isn’t the media’s fault that she comes off like a fool. If she can’t understand that her actions have consequences that may result in harm to real politicians, then it is her fault, not Giffords or the others who paid the price for her call to violence. If her family is always on stage, she set it up that way from the first encounter and used them all as props until it began to backfire.

It’s time to open the gates to the asylum and let the reporters in.

And by the way, Ms. Palin, that acronym can also be used for "Way Too Fat!"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

26 January 2011 Neither faction cares for the patient.


Repealing Flawed Health Care Law & Replacing It Is The Right Medicine For Our Nation

. The House voted to repeal the health law for five main reasons: it costs too much; it includes $500 billion dollars in tax increases; it includes Medicare cuts that are harmful to seniors; it puts in jeopardy individuals’ ability to choose their own health care plan; and it uses taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. Repealing the health care law will provide a clean slate, and give Congress the ability to pass sound health care legislation in a transparent and bipartisan manner.


At a time colleagues have toned down their words, Bachmann went to Iowa and proclaimed: "If we want to kill Obamacare and we want to end socialized medicine, it must be done in the next election!"

Cassi Creek:

Roe, trumpets his 30 years as an OB/gyn. His concern for seniors and Medicare is less a problem for him than the old refrain of Tort Reform that the GOP keeps dragging out as a false flag. Tort Reform as proposed by the GOPers will effectively remove the ability to sue for patients who are victims of mal-practice. OB/Gyns are particularly hyper about mal-practice suits. Roe neglects to inform that he gave up medicine for politics. Any attempts to engage him in discussion of the need to reform health care elicit nothing but GOP talking points. Roe is actually too rightward to be in the current Republican Party. He won his seat because of widespread discontent with his predecessor, who injected his religion into politics. Roe would like to inject his religion further into the body politic as well. He’s actually a teavangelist in belief but doesn’t want to risk his seat by admitting it.

Bachman is a Palin clone, right down to the unethical financial dealings. She is an adamant anti-socialist/communist/fascist – she can’t separate them accurately – who reluctantly accepted $250,000 in federal farm subsidies for her family’s farm. Her excuses and explanation are as tortuous as a Palin utterance. She sees communists under every bed, is firmly entrenched in the teavangelist mobs, and has no appreciation of American history or of what it is like to actually need a paycheck.

Like Palin, Huckabee and Gingrich, Roe and Bachman are determined to roll the nation back to the 19th century. They intend to drag the GOP with them. Equally unsettling they would all prefer to see their Christianity made the de facto state religion despite the intent of the founders and the desire of most Americans to remove the religious right from power.

Last night’s fragmented response to the Obama State of the Union address demonstrates how the GOP leadership has lost power over its elected members. Bachman is right, the next election is critical. What she fails to recognize is that it is critical to stop her, the teavangelists, and the Palin clones.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

25 January 2011 “ Neighbor, how stands the Union?”

From: The Devil and Daniel Webster.” by steven vincent benet

“Yes, Dan'l Webster's dead ----- or, at least, they buried him. But every time there's a thunderstorm around Marshfield, they say you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky. And they say that if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, "Dan'l Webster ----- Dan'l Webster!" the ground'll begin to shiver and the trees begin to shake. And after a while you'll hear a deep voice saying, "Neighbor, how stands the Union?" Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible, or he's liable to rear right out of the ground. At least, that's what I was told when I was a youngster.”

Cassi Creek:

I recall reading this tale at a fairly young age, certainly before I was deemed mature enough by the local library or the school board to read anything with the word “Hell” in it. It was a fun encounter of the Faustian sort with Benet and with the political power house that was Webster.

It is entirely appropriate to revisit the tale today. Today Obama will deliver the “”State of the Union” address to both houses of Congress plus other officials and dignitaries. His constitutionally required report, delivered as a speech to a joint session by every POTUS since Woodrow Wilson began the tradition, will be less report than political speech. Following his speech the Republican party and the teavangelists will also deliver televised speeches purporting to be informational but which will be essentially carefully structured political ads based upon lies and misinformation intended to discredit a sitting POTUS.

The rebuttal speeches began in 1966. They’ve continued every year since then and in no instance are they anything but denunciations of the party in control of the White House.

Tonight, Obama will deliver a carefully crafted speech, trying to lift his abilities as an orator to higher levels than they merit. Daniel Webster’s oratory was never recorded. I have been, however, privileged to hear either live or via recording, many gifted orators: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and John and Robert Kennedy. Obama, and every President who held office after JFK are not gifted orators or even gifted at reading speeches. Certainly the format that the State of the Union address has assumed is not conducive to finely tuned oratory. But the quality of the product seems greatly dimished from what we once were privileged to hear.

Tonight I see the GOP\teavangelists collectively playing the role of Mr. Scratch, arguing to a jury of their choosing, preaching a pseudo-patriotism that costs the lives of our soldiers while selling their own souls to the devil for financial backing and re-election. That must place Obama and his writers in the role of Daniel Webster. I’m sorry to relate that the role is poorly cast. Were it my soul in jeopardy of repossession I’d be truly worried. Obama is no JFK, no Daniel Webster either in words or in deeds.

In Benet’s short story, patriotism and honor triumph over evil, the Union stands strong. Unfortunately, in our reality the jury remains corrupt, the Union is yet again at risk of fighting the same Civil War against the same causes of greed, racism, and intolerance that led to the first Civil War.

For years I’ve been misquoting Webster concerning Dartmouth College. He said,” It is, sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it!"

I learned this, erroneously, as “It is a small place and I love it dearly!” With all due apologies to Daniel Webster, It is, I do, and shall so continue.

Monday, January 24, 2011

24 January 2011 How to assure Islam is hated

Jan 24, 2011

Update: At least 10 killed in explosion at Moscow airport

09:07 AM

At least 10 people have been killed and several injured in an explosion at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, the Interfax News Agency reports.

The agency quotes the Russian Investigative Committee and an unidentified medical source as saying 20 people have been injured in the explosion at Russia's busiest airport.

The BBC has carried a similar report, quoting Interfax, and reports that the Russian media says the blast in the airport luggage was from a suicide bomber.

Russian authorities: Terrorist bombing at Moscow airport kills 31

By the CNN Wire Staff

January 24, 2011 -- Updated 1719 GMT (0119 HKT

Cassi Creek: There is no official release claiming responsibility for the bombing in Moscow at this time. One may be posted at any moment or one may never be posted. Given the history of Post Soviet relations with those former Soviet republics that are Islamic in character, and the hatred that exists between citizens of the “Stans” and those of Russia, I feel safe in assuming that this attack heralds the arrival of another jihadist in Paradise. This was apparently a luggage bomb, explosives and shrapnel-producing material stuffed into luggage and detonated by suicide bomber intent upon causing the greatest number of deaths and injuries.

The battle between Chechnyans, Stannis, and Russians will never be resolved in a peaceful manner. Old hatreds mixed with religious fanaticism and intellectual stagnation are brutally powerful causes for murders. Mix in the brutality of the Russian Army in dealing with any challenge and the racism that is as rampant in Russia as it was in the days of the Pogroms, and the reservoir of hatred is never allowed to cool to manageable temperatures.

I’m fully aware of the claim that Islam is a religion of peace. I’m cognizant of the fact that it is a small fraction of the total Muslims worldwide who are engaged in jihadism. I understand that most Muslims want little more from other cultures than to be left alone to work and live without being attacked for their faith.

Knowing all these things, believing them to be, for the large part true, I still have grave reservations about the integration of Muslims into western culture. I’ve worked with many Muslims over the years. Like any other cultural group, some were highly skilled, compassionate health care providers. Others were lacking in critical knowledge, compassion, and other things that caused me to want to avoid being cared for by them. I’ve tried to avoid inserting my biases into professional situations. Outside work environs, the same fractionalization applies.

The part of the equation that bothers me is the irrational violence taking place almost daily between Islamic fanatics and western culture, and between the various factions of Muslims.

There is a great deal of bigotry and hatred aimed at Islam by highly vocal fundamentalist Christians. There is a great deal of hatred between the extreme right wingers of both faiths aimed at each other as both groups of fundamentalists truly want to absorb the entire world into their particular religions. I want both to fail

While the various Christian reformers have partially settled the internal strife between sects and cults, Islam is still in need of a reformation. They are not only heavily engaged in war with western culture but also completely fractionated and intent upon wiping out one main sect or another at the same time. The death tolls in Iraq, Afghanistan, & Pakistan are becoming mountainous as the bodies of the non-combatants pile up.

I don’t trust anyone behaving as a fundamentalist of either Christianity or Islam. I don’t put much trust in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population either. Their conquest goal is much smaller than either Islam’s or Christianity’s, but it is just as troublesome to the world.

I believe that the UN should call for a moratorium on religion-driven violence and then ignore all the screams from UN member nations. Not until we have forced the various religious extremists into new reformations, not until we have demanded that all religions be removed from the world’s governments in favor of rational, secular, modern new governments will it be safe to travel to formerly Islamic nations or to fly with religious fundamentalists.

As for Islamic extremists, and Christian extremists, they need to realize that they will not come to rule either the nations they currently live in or the world to come. That is the best future we can envision.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

23 January 2011 Some of the citizens are more important than others

I’ve come to believe that people who run lights, speed, assault our ears with their phone calls or car stereos, who tailgate and otherwise behave rudely and/or unsafely have a false sense of their own importance in this culture and world.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the House of Representatives during the past week. The Republican dominated House committed a colossal waste of taxpayer money by introducing, “debating,” and voting on HR2 – a bill to repeal the health care reform act passed by both houses and signed into law last year. There is no chance that this will progress to become a law. However, the GOPers caved in to the teavangelists and voted this monstrosity into existence; thus reinforcing the shift to a two or three-tiered health care plan that any third world officials would be proud of.

This “repeal” calls for the nation to return to a health care system controlled by insurance companies that engage in patient dumping, place limits on care, refuse coverage for patients who have paid premiums for decades and refuse to cover anything they can claim is a pre-existing condition. In short, the GOPers\teavangelists want to continue the present system of health care delivery that features 50-100% premium increases, hugely obscene bonuses for company executives, and denial of care.

Congressional office holders are provided with many fringe benefits that re-enforce their sense of self-importance. They have office staffs and budgets, free parking at National Airport, their own dining rooms, transportation reimbursement, junkets, and lest we forget their own special nature, a fantastic federally funded health insurance package that they’ve created for their selves.

On 19 January 2011, the House voted to “repeal” “Obama Care.” Then, to rub everyone else’s nose into their self-importance, they rejected a motion by the Democrats to make the “repeal” contingent upon members of Congress giving up their own private insurance package. In other words, Congress would have to sign up for and live with the limitations of whatever plan they saddled the American public with. Highly unlikely, and they affirmed their importance by refusing to accept the limited plan they want to put into effect instead of Obama’s plan.

I am particularly grateful to our local TN district 1 representative. Mr. Roe, voted for repeal and then voted against requiring Congress to give up their own plan. Mr. Roe, professing to be concerned for his constituents, has voted to place them and keep them in a two-three-tiered system of health care delivery. Mr. Roe has proclaimed that he will relinquish his Congressional plan, but fails to point out that he is entitled to Medicare – thus pretty much uninsurable by the insurance companies – can count on professional courtesy from many physicians, and has the Veterans Affairs system as a last resort.

If Mr. Roe is so willing to share the health care delivery options available to too many of his constituents, we’ll look forward to seeing him lining up in the dark for a chance to be treated by RAM volunteers in the stables at a local fairground.

Links below summarize the nature of both HR2 votes and Rep Roe’s votes.

RAM is a highly committed volunteer organization that is trying to provide health care to the un-insured while simultaneously pointing out the flaws in our current tiered system.

While this ill-conceived GOP\teavangelist gift package for the insurance companies looms in the wings, while millions of Americans die for lack of timely, affordable, and available health care, the GOP\teavanagelists will continue to run red lights, speed, text while driving, and will not exhibit any concern for their fellow citizens. They may have attacked the “educated elitists” while campaigning. However, they are perfectly willing to become members of their own elite. Watch out for them at red lights. They’re important and they have insurance in case they hit your car with theirs.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

22 January 2011 They want jobs so give them wedge issues.

Republican spending plan signals a new culture war

The morning after the House voted to repeal the health-care law, Speaker John Boehner walked into a TV studio in the Capitol complex to announce his next act: "a ban on taxpayer funding of abortions across all federal programs…"

“Actually, Mr. Speaker, 63 percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue, according to exit polls for the November election. Voters asked for jobs - and you're giving them a culture war.

“About 30 minutes after Boehner left the studio, leaders of the Republican Study Committee, a group that claims most House Republicans as members, walked into the same room to announce its new spending bill. Among the items the group proposes to eliminate or decimate: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Title X birth control and family planning, AmeriCorps, the Energy Star program and work on fuel efficient cars, and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Ostensibly, their cuts were about reducing the deficit, but their list clearly had more to do with settling old scores. Many of the items - including the renewed targeting of Big Bird and the rest of PBS - were holdovers from Newt Gingrich's '95 wish list...”

Cassi Creek:

It’s not yet the end of January and the teavangelist\GOPers have signaled their intent to spend the next two years trying to turn back the calendar to the 19th century. They are targeting health care, social safety nets, public education, immigration and governmental regulations of industry and commerce. Daryl Issa has already sent requests to the various corporate backers, asking them which specific regulations they want removed.

We’re fortunate that the Senate still is controlled by the Democrats. Otherwise, we’d be headed down the funnel back to the “contract on America” days when Gingrich shut down the government in a fit of anger over a seating assignment on Air Force One. We’re not that distant from that sort of behavior. I fully expect that we are going to see the House try to remove or withhold funding for everything they oppose ideologically. I’ve received a series of e-mails from our representative detailing the plan to essentially abolish Medicare, Medicaid, the FDA, NIH, and any other agency that stands between corporations and the rape of the once-middle class.

The teavangelist\GOPers know that American corporations are never going to return jobs already off-shored to American factories, never going to pay anything above minimum wage if possible to avoid doing so. Somehow, they’ve convinced the voters yet again that cutting taxes for the wealthy will create jobs. Now it’s time to point to those jobs and they don’t and won’t exist. The distraction of the day is, of course, abortion. They’ll milk that for the next 8 months until the annual “war on Christmas/Christians” season rolls around.

Abortion funding is not problematic for me. I’m as willing to see public payment for abortion, as I am to see public payment for prostate malignancy treatment. Both should be decided upon by a patient and a physician, not an elected legislator nor an insurance company clerk. In addition, neither should be used as a distraction for the jobs that the teavangelists\GOPers knowingly lied about in October and will knowingly lie about for the next two years.

Friday, January 21, 2011

21 January 2011 symbolic votes assure symbolic funerals


Mike Luckovitch cartoon for the day demonstrates the depth of the disconnect between the once middle class and the new but unimproved teavangelist\GOPers.

After the symbolic suspension of Congressional business subsequent to the shootings in Tucson, the House returned to operational status by wasting several days “debating” and passing a bill calling for the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Reform Act – Obama Care. In the House, the GOP touted this as a “symbolic” victory, proving that the populace does not want the current new health care law. In my opinion, the only applicable symbol is the GOP rolling over on its back for the teavanagelists.

Luckovitch’s cartoon is quite succinct. Americans need jobs, real jobs, paying jobs, not symbolic bills that are written to satisfy the demagogues and ideologues of the far right in American politics.

The GOPer/teavangelist combined party has no hope of putting a repeal through the processes needed to make it law. Instead they plan to spend more time trying to carve away segments of the new law and existing laws that are effective until 2014. They want to leave all health care decisions to the for-profit insurance companies that have already benefited so heavily from the Bush prescription abomination and the Advantage Medicare programs that allow them to overbill the government for services. They want to do away with the portions of the law that prohibit lifetime caps, that prohibit dropping patients, that eliminate the pre-existing condition patient dump. And of course, they want to start stirring up the ideological morass that comes when the word “Abortion” is uttered.

The teavangelist/GOP oppose abortion. They don’t care what the cause or reason. Women who have non-viable fetuses, women who are victims of rape and/or incest, women who are at personal physical risk due to pregnancy, must all be punished by carrying a non-viable, unwanted, dangerous to gestate fetus to term and deliver it so that the Roman Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptists, teavangelicals, fundamentalists, can thump their chests in the public square and shout that they have “prevailed over Satan.”

Then they will collectively find means and mechanisms to ignore the offspring produced by forced gestation, providing no funding for their food, health care, education, or housing. This will serve to punish those unwanted, mostly unloved products of undesired conception for having the horrid luck to be born into a society that preaches love and forgiveness while practicing exclusion, bigotry, and hatred.

While no one should be required to undergo abortion at the state’s request, neither should anyone be prevented from undergoing abortion after consultation with a licensed physician and without the interference of any agents of any religious organization.

While our first amendment allows great range in freedom of speech, it allows no range what so ever in establishment of a state religion. While the teavangelists my believe that their election results and the numerical majority of our populace claiming to be Christians, they are wrong. This is not and never shall be a “Christian nation.”

For me, the question of abortion funding is simply answered. It is far cheaper to pay for an abortion than it is to house, feed, educate, and immunize a child, perhaps adding the cost of imprisonment as an adult. That sounds cold and callous. It is far more callous to require a child to be born into a world that does not want and will not take care of it in a manner to allow it to develop its full potential. This is the GOP/teavangelist solution to abortion.

There will also be the cost of funerals for those women who die as a result of a pregnancy that was lethal to them. I guess the GOP will consider those symbolic, sacrifices to the Christian fundamentalists. I doubt their families will be happy to see them displayed as symbols in the GOP battle against abortion.

The GOP plans to restore the cuts made to the Medicare Advantage plans. These are pure give-aways to the insurance companies, allowing them to bill Medicare at increased rates while luring patients into their programs with free gymnasium hours or some such perk that has a little drawing power. Then when the patient pool becomes filled with more sick insures than planned for the companies close the program and leave the insured scrambling to find new doctors.

The GOP has already salted the ground with misconceptions and outright lies about who wants and who doesn’t want the new health care law. They lie with statistics quite capably.

I am opposed to this law but should not be numbered among those cited by the GOP as wanting repeal. I want the public option; I want a single payer insurance program for all citizens. I favor public funding of abortion but unlike the GOP, I oppose government funding of fertility therapy. There are millions of surplus children who would be happy to become family members rather than spend their youth as foster children.

I’ll leave it to Eugene Robinson to deal with the numerical battle. He has it exactly right.

The GOP's rude awakening on health-care repeal

By Eugene Robinson Friday, January 21, 2011

“A recent Associated Press poll found that 41 percent of those surveyed opposed the reform law and 40 percent supported it. But when asked what Congress should do, 43 percent said the law should be modified so that it does more to change the health-care system. Another 19 percent said it should be left as it is.

More troubling for the GOP, the AP poll found that just 26 percent of respondents wanted Congress to repeal the reform law completely. A recent Washington Post poll found support for outright repeal at 18 percent; a Marist poll pegged it at 30 percent.

In other words, what House Republicans just voted to do may be the will of the Tea Party, but it's not "the will of the people."

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

20 January 2011 Training the Gladiators for profit

Another short night. It may have been the moonlight that woke me up at 0530. It may have been the change in temperature as the stove cooled down. I was able to get back to sleep but the damage was done. I spent the rest of the morning waking up enough to look at the clock, trying to prevent the alarm going off but still getting up on time.

Today’s hike with Mike was somewhat more difficult than normal. Just before we got to Mike’s driveway, someone out of sight fired what sounded like a .22 rifle. A single distant report was all it took to turn Loki from a dog eager for her morning walk into a spooked and unhappy dog ready to run home and den up in her kennel. It took 5-10 minutes for her to calm down and to quit trying to stop suddenly in front of me in order to turn back.

The dead raccoon is still along the road about 0.7 miles downstream. Loki ignores it and I encourage that. Also dead on the road, a black chicken that appeared sometime yesterday or today. Loki also noticed it but followed the pull on her lead with no reluctance as I guided her away from it.

There is still some ice and packed snow in the driveway and on the ground around the decks. It may all vanish by midnight but then more snow is predicted for late tonight and tomorrow. We’ve measured 12 inches of snowfall. The official total at the local airport is 13 inches.

I need to read about 300 pages of textbooks today and tomorrow.

“Going to extreme measures for child athletes

By Stephanie Chen, CNN

“Like many other American teens, 14-year-old Nick Heras wants to be a professional quarterback someday.

Unlike most teens, he has left home and moved across the country to attend an elite athletic training program. His family foots a hefty bill for Nick's dreams: More than $50,000 a year.

"I knew I had to leave and do this program if I wanted to be serious about football," he says.”

This is becoming all too common. I’m appalled at the money spent by parents trying to live or relive their own “athletics” dreams via their kids. I’m also dismayed at the lack of socialization and education they are willing to inflict upon their kids. These athletic factories are quite similar in nature to those we used to complain about being run by the USSR and East Germany. I guess that the profit motive makes it less damaging to the individuals.

The only good aspect that I can see in such sports factories is the possibility that they may eventually provide a tool to eliminate the use of our school systems as paid for by taxpayers training programs for the various franchise owners.

The article stops short of where it should stop. The reader comments at the end of the article make it worth reading.

Burgers for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

19 January 2011 A little dab’l’ do you

The forecast snow failed to materialize. This morning was foggy, with drizzle, making it a sloppy drive into campus.

Surprisingly, there was a disabled parking slot available along the looped drive that passes in front of Hutchinson Hall. My first class of the day is in that building.

I’m looking forward to the volcano course. They are immensely powerful and creative instruments of planetary construction. I’m unsure how much mathematics I’ll need to work with in this class. I own a good HP graphing calculator, which I have never really mastered. Currently it needs “N” batteries that I will purchase next week.

Yesterday afternoon I hauled out my two Pickett slide rules and ran through a quick refresh in their usage. I cleaned them and lubed them with a Teflon gun preservative that has them operating better than ever before. Wonderful lubricant. Like Brylcreme, “a little dab’l’ do you!” Cue Fearless Fosdick to enter.

The parking lot shift went smoothly. Then I spent 30 minutes waiting in line for the student IT desk to remove whatever it was that prevented my notebook and the university network shaking hands. I’ve missed Gloria’s calls twice today because I was talking with IT or with a professor.

Introduced myself to Dr, Burgess today. He seemed glad to have me in the class and I suspect he will provide more information than I can really process fully. I don’t have to write the research paper. That’s good. Most of the topics which generate high interest for me have been thoroughly and repeatedly explored. I doubt that I have any real potential to make a new discovery or to overturn Roman history.

I’m planning on pork-fried-rice and pot stickers for dinner tonight.

Barring major upset in the fabric of time-space I think that is sufficient for today.

My days begin and end beside Gloria. I am truly fortunate.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

18 January 2011 It’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to


In the 30 minute interview, Palin also addressed the criticism she has faced for her video response to the shootings posted last week on Facebook. Critics particularly took issue with the former governor's use of the term "blood libel," a phrase that for many conjures anti-semetic connotations.

"Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands. In this case, that's exactly what was going on," she said, adding later, "Just two days before an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal had that term in its title. And that term has been used for eons."

The phrase, which traditionally refers to a long-standing anti-Semitic myth that Jews murder children for religious rituals, drew fire from the Anti-Defamation League and others. But Palin insisted critics were taking issue with the phrasing in hopes of derailing her overall message.

Washington Post:

When Palin posted a video Wednesday defending herself, she came under further criticism for using the term "blood libel" to describe the actions of those who were attacking her and other conservatives.

On Monday, appearing on "The Sean Hannity Show," Palin said she knew the historical roots of the term "blood libel" as an expression to describe accusations that Jews used the blood of slain Christian children in their rituals. She added that the expression was more commonly used to mean falsely accusing someone or some group of people of "having blood on your hands. And in this case that's exactly what was going on."

She said her video was not self-defense but rather "defending those who are innocent, talk show hosts, talk show host listeners, those who have nothing to do with a crazed, evil gunman who killed innocent people."

Cassi Creek:

What the demi-gods of politics, GOP sept, have delivered into our hands is a walking-talking, whining revisionist. The Palin, which inhabits Palin World, is made uncomfortable by the facts concerning history, economics, politics, and the English language,

Last Wednesday she published a video in which she tried to self-canonize herself. What she attempted was the typical Palin effort to make everything about her regardless of the source of the event or incident. Palin made a badly botched effort to assume the victim’s role in a murderous attack upon a U.S. Congresswoman previously “targeted by Palin in an internet attack. While Rep. Giffords survived with nearly lethal injuries, 12 others were wounded and six others died. There was no direct link between Palin World and the shootings. Never one to relinquish the stage, Palin made an 8 minute video of whines, excuses, prevarications, and then capped it off by claiming that she was being victimized by media concerns anxious to lay a “Blood Libel” upon her.

When that exploded in her hands, she retreated to Fox News for a softball interview that gave her prepared questions to “answer.” As cited above, she still demands victim status. In that interview, she claimed to know the meaning of “blood libel” and then proclaimed that the meaning had been changed by common usage. Magical thinking happens in Palin World. If she prays hard enough, sees enough witch doctors to have evil enchantments removed, and stamps her feet while holding her breath, the world will see that her definition can be found in the Palin World Dictionary of Revisionism.

Here’s the downside, Palin Creature. The majority of the nation feels that you are unqualified to hold any public office. Every time you open your mouth and lie to them, they are more and more convinced of your unsuitability for any job requiring intellect, integrity, or, ethics.

In your last two attempts at achieving martyrdom, you have fouled your nest rather nicely. You’ve provided lots of proof that you just don’t care about anything beyond your own epidermis, except for questionably obtained clothing perhaps.

. As for “blood libel,” I’m willing to be my first-born that you had never heard it until someone handed you a script that contained the phrase. You should know by now that revising history doesn’t work well. Someone has always written the truth and secured it. This is particularly true of Jews. We record and save every scrap of history that passes before our eyes from future to past. We are not about to let you co-opt and revise the meaning of a word associated with so much anti-Semitism and the deaths of so many innocent Jews. You claim to be defending the innocent talk show hosts and listeners from crazed evil. Most of those innocents you are so worried about are far from it. They are, however, all too willing to help you fan the flames of anti-Semitism. We’re rather used to dealing with crazed evil, have become so over eons of necessity. You are likely to find that any attempts to court the support of Jewish voters just vanished. You’ve lied your way into a far larger mess than you can picture.

By the way, Palin Creature, Representative Giffords doesn’t owe you anything, apology, forgiveness, or the time of day. On the other hand, you will never be able to pay the debt you owe her, the other wounded, and the six dead. Not, as you whined, for your complicity; but for being so self-centered and selfish as to portray yourself as a victim in this tragedy.

Grow up, go home, and stop whining. No one cares about you but you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

17 January 2011 Fanning the flames of freedom

Self-immolation reports spread through north Africa

By Josh Levs, CNN

-- The popular protests in Tunisia that have caused upheaval in the government were sparked by Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed college graduate, who set himself on fire in protest. He later died. Now, reports are coming in from other countries in the region -- Egypt, Algeria, and Mauritania -- that other demonstrators are turning to self-immolation…

“Self-Immolation as Anti-War Protest

“On November 2, 1965, Norman Morrison immolated himself within sight of Robert McNamara's window at the Pentagon, to protest the war in Vietnam. Norman did not leave a suicide note. His friend John Roemer described his action as follows, "I don't know. I don't know. He fought the war more and more deeply. I mean, when are you one of the Germans?...You have to be mentally different to fly in the face of received wisdom in this country. He played it out in his mind, I think, in terms of being a moral witness", and, "In a society where it is normal for human beings to drop bombs on human targets, where it is normal to spend 50 percent of the individual's tax dollar on war, where it is have twelve times overkill capacity, Norman Morrison was not normal. He said, 'Let it stop' ".

Norman was one of several people who chose to become a victim of the fire of the Vietnam War. Others include Vietnamese Buddhist monks, Quang Duc, June 1963, in Saigon; an unnamed monk in Phanthiet, August, 1963; Thich Nu Thanh Quang, in Hue, 1966. Each death galvanized opinion and resistance to the war within Vietnam. On March 16, 1965, Alice Herz, an 82-year-old pacifist, immolated herself on a Detroit street corner. She stated in her suicide note, that she was protesting "the use of high office by our President, L.B.J., in trying to wipe out small nations." And "I wanted to call attention to this problem by choosing the illuminating death of a Buddhist." A week after Norman Morrison's death, Roger LaPorte burned himself in protest in front of the United Nations in New York. In May of 1970, George Winne, Jr., burned himself in protest of the Vietnam War on the University of California campus in San Diego “

Cassi Creek:

I recall all too well when these individuals chose to use their lives to hammer home their opposition to a war taking place in Vietnam. I understood then the amount of courage required to cause one’s own death in such a painful manner. I can’t imagine taking that step in such a fashion. I have to admire anyone who can make such a decision and follow through on it.

When Vietnam wound down so, apparently, did the number of people who chose to make such a supreme protest. In December 2010, an unemployed college graduate chose to expend his life in hopes that the flames he fed might lead to a better life for people in his nation. The North African states have historically been Islamic monarchies/oligarchies or dictatorships that cared little for their citizens. There has long been need and call for political and social reform in these nations. Now the flames of protest are spreading to other nations. Tunisia has undergone change in government but needs to change much more to become a modern state rather than a third world nation.

The CNN link above brings up a news column followed by reader commentary. Reading these comments was disgusting. Many of the readers responded with anti-Islamic slurs, racist comments, and other forms of bigotry that we would be better to see vanish from our culture. It was apparent that those who made such posts were unable to distinguish between outbreaks of nationalism in repressive countries from the actions of terrorists and repressive religious rulers such as al-Queda and the Taliban. I’m can only hope that some of these people will undergo an intellectual awakening, but doubt that such a change will ever visit them.

I’m certain that the bigots, the racists, and the ignorant will never make such a heroic decision. They will boast of their bravery, of American exceptionalism, and of their imagined religious superiority. But if the time ever arrives when they are called upon to carry out an act of such bravery, regardless of cause, they will lack the internal courage to sit down calmly and light the fire that speaks so loudly.

In all honesty, I doubt that I could carry out such an agonizing suicide. I hope I will never have the answer to that self-examination.

I hold in honor, those who choose to feed the flames of freedom in North Africa. May their deaths ignite the torches that lead to their freedom. May their names be written on the hearts of their countrymen and in history.

Below is a link to a video of Quang Duc’s self-immolation. It is brutal in its purpose and honors his courage and commitment. Don’t feel you have to watch it.

I’ve seen it previously. If you do choose to watch it remember that you are not hearing the sounds or smelling the smells that attend such injuries. I know them from previous times.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

16 January 2011 The diagnosis came as no surprise

President Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's while in office, according to son

By Stephen Lowman

Ronald Reagan was showing signs of Alzheimer’s while still in office, according to his son Ron Reagan.

In his memoir “My Father at 100,” Reagan writes:

“Today we are aware that the psychological and neurological changes associated with Alzheimer’s can be in evidence years, even decades, before identifiable symptoms arise. The question, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s while in office more of less answers itself.”

Cassi Creek
If you lived through the 1980s and had a medical education, you knew. Unless, that is, you chose not to know.

Today’s Washington Post carries the article linked above. The article itself is not remarkable other than as to source. The commentary posted by readers is interesting in nature.

A large percentage of the comments support the supposition that Reagan was already affected by his disease when initially elected. Readers cite personal conversations with White House staff, administration staff, and in a few instances, journalists cite appointments with Reagan and/or press conferences. Many, as do I, see the easily noted parallels to family members also making that long, undignified slide into mental oblivion. While there are several comments calling Reagan our worst POTUS, the level of invective is unusually low for a political column of this nature. Many of these comments bring forward the Iran-Contra arms scandal. Surprisingly few mention other signs of a government running out of control with a figurehead purportedly in charge.

On the other side of responses, those posts which attempt to deny the disease’s presence have little hard data to relate. Instead, they simply parrot the long history of lionization of Reagan that has been the pattern of the GOP since he left office. Some of the posts attack Reagan Jr. for his information. Many deny the obvious signs and symptoms pointed out by medical personnel who commented in agreement with Reagan’s son Ron. Others fall back on the oft repeated “Reagan won the Cold War.”

To me, there is no doubt that Reagan was essentially a puppet during both his terms of office. Looking back, it can be seen that he was the figurehead chosen by the GOP’s right wing to play the part of POTUS. That sort of double for the king would likely have appealed to his ego. His terms in office set the stage for the follow-on Bush II administration which reached back and pulled Reagan appointees to fill slots in the Neo-Con controlled continuation of the great deregulation and tax breaks for the rich that Reagan had come to stand for. A deteriorating actor controlled by financial interests and oil interests, kept happy by letting him think he was running a couple of banana republic wars while allowing his cabinet and advisors to run uncontrolled covert operations with no real Presidential and no Congressional oversight was what we wound up with if we were lucky. If we were unlucky we lost jobs in the downsizing of the “evil” government, we lost friends and family members as HIV/AIDS was ignored as “God’s punishment for fags.” And many of us lost life savings as the Savings and Loan scandal pointed the way to the near world financial collapse that spawned the Reagan/Bush Great Recession.

There was no need for the GOP to rename everything that didn’t move for Reagan. He’d already left his legacy. He was lucky that he lost the ability to recall the damage he did.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

15 January 2011 Which staff member gets the blame for…?

At Least Stand By Your Free Speech

“On January 9, 2011, in Column, by Tina Dupuy

Last Saturday morning 20 people were shot in a Tucson Safeway parking lot by a 22-year-old who stated on YouTube he “won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver.” Fifteen minutes after the news broke, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin tweeted, “The price of gold today is at $1,368.90 an ounce.”


It’s bright and sunny here today even if it is still cold. The newspaper showed up without one of us having to call and complain. We’re recording above freezing temperatures. We’re still waiting on the wood delivery.

I was pleased to find the column by Tina Dupuy on the editorial page of our local newspaper. I’ve only recently become aware of her material and I find it worth reading and worthy of sharing with friends. So look it over and I hope it amuses you as much as it does me.

Roman history, stealing much from classical Greek culture, gave us the phrase for and custom of falling upon one’s sword after losing a battle.

“The actual practice of committing suicide by falling on one's sword dates back to ancient Rome. Plutarch records such a death in The Life of Brutus:

Finally, he [Brutus] spoke to Volumnius himself in Greek, reminding him of their student life, and begged him to grasp his sword with him and help him drive home the blow. And when Volumnius refused, and the rest likewise ... grasping with both hands the hilt of his naked sword, he fell upon it and died.”

The cost of losing battles was high in terms of men, equipment, and territory. Often kingdoms fell with armies. The average battlefield commander had little hope of longevity unless he could be ransomed for the price of a small kingdom. Captured soldiers did not fare well in the hands of enemies. Suicide was often the most pleasant option before them at the end of a battle.

The phrase became common usage for resigning in disgrace from political office, with or without subsequent suicide. The most recent example of such a political debacle comes from Palin World. She has historically refused to accept any blame for any flaw, fault, error, or lack of ethics. Her small staff has gradually been reduced in size as people either become burned out by the need to assume blame for her actions, or fall into disfavor and are terminated. If ever it were appropriate for a politician to take the sword exit, it is now appropriate for Palin. It remains to see if she has the intellect to recognize the depths of her disgrace – doubtful, if she has the innate sense of honor that would require her to take the blade – also doubtful. She’s burned through most of her loyal retainers. I wonder how many are left to assume the disgrace that is rightfully hers. When she runs out of staff to blame, who’s next?

Friday, January 14, 2011

14 January 2011 Back to school today

Today I begin a class –History of Rome (500 BCE – 500 CE). I’m not really sure how eager I am to take this class. I hoped to take another history course concerning the US during the 1970’s -1980’s. The time and day conflicted with my course in Volcanology. There was also the matter of not wanting to get up at 0500 in order to be on campus in time to take the history course. The volcanology course begins at 0940. That’s early enough for me.

It is interesting to see that Mount Etna is erupting again. That may provide some timely content to the class next Wednesday.

The low temp this morning was 9 °F. Today is becoming sunny and may reach above the freezing point. We’re nearly out of firewood but more is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. If we get a long enough dry period, I can try to cut some of our downed timber and branches for the stove.

My first impression is that I will enjoy History of Rome. The professor is unkempt, visually challenged, both profane and vulgar. He all but ejected several non-history majors from the course today; strongly encouraging them to drop the course. There will be empty seats next week.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

13 January 2011 They’re only words…

Palin quotes Reagan (about social welfare programs) - ‘’ It is time to restore the precept that each individual is accountable for his actions

Sarah Palin's effort to defuse controversy backfires with 'blood libel' comment

“Palin officials confirmed a report by ABC News that Palin has received an unprecedented number of death threats since Saturday's shootings and has been in conversations with security officials about the matter. They declined to provide further details. “

On his Monday radio broadcast, media personality Glenn Beck read from an e-mail he wrote to Palin in which he urged the former Republican presidential candidate to protect herself and invest in more security. “An attempt on you could bring the Republic down,” Beck wrote.

An aide close to Sarah Palin says death threats and security threats have increased to an unprecedented level since the shooting in Arizona, and the former Alaska governor's team has been talking to security professionals.

It's a sad statement about where public discourse is that, in response to this particularly infelicitous choice of phrase, the defense that is used is, "She has no real idea what any of the words mean." This is the sort of thing that gets me, for lack of a better word, somewhat wee-weed up.

So I can't help wondering: Is Miss America to blame for Sarah Palin?

Cassi Creek:

This is exactly what should not be happening. No American politician should be at risk of assassination for speaking his or her mind in a public forum. No American citizen should make threats toward politicians. There is no excuse for such action.

However, I am unable to overlook one aspect of this situation. Palin has apparently received an increased number of death threats from known and/or unknown persons. Palin has previously denied that there is any connection between her words in the political forum and the actions of others, deranged or not. What we appear to be seeing is a direct correlation between her words posted in the political forum electronically, and the number of threats directed toward her. This would seem to be basic logic; X writes, Y reads If Y is angry, Then Y threatens X. If Y is not angry, Then Y does not threaten X.

It will be interesting to watch this shake out. I fail to see how she can publically defend her contention that her words have no correlation to the actions of others in any sort of public forum. She can only maintain her assertion as long as she remains isolated from any real time interaction with other than Fox News media. Eventually, if she wishes to actually run for POTUS, she will have to face other candidates and an actual working news media in events that she is not allowed to control. Thinking on the fly is not her strong suite. I’m hoping for a bloody, brutal, event to start her political exposure to reality.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12 January, 2011 Up the long ladder and down the short rope? We can only hope.

Unable to accept her own complicity in the Tucson shootings, Palin issued a video on Face book. She obviously chose this format because she wanted absolute control of the message and no questions that she would have to field unprepared.

Once again, she has attempted to place herself in the role of the victim. While there is no obvious connection between her posts and the shooter, there is a connection between all of the political viciousness, lies, and demonization and firearms violence in this nation. Whether or not a criminal is mentally ill, they are still influenced by the propaganda that they are exposed to in their daily lives. All of us are. We do not live in absolute political isolation nor do the mentally ill. Palin’s desires to the contrary, she is heavily implicated in the divisive nature of the political climate.

My dislike for her is grounded, in her right wing theocratic political stance, in her complete unpreparedness to hold national office, in her obvious lack of political ethics, and in her use of her family as stage props followed by her complaints about them then being media targets. Now she has given me cause to raise both the level and the reason for my dislike.

It is inappropriate but consistent Palin behavior for her to play victim when something doesn’t go the way she hopes. However, for her to assume that the term, “blood libel” in any manner can be applied to her is frankly demonstrative of her utter lack of awareness of what the term means. It originated in the middle Ages as a means of finding church and politically sanctioned cause for anti-Semitic pogroms and murders. I applies to a religious minority being persecuted for their minority status by a religious majority based upon a lie applied collectively to the minority – specifically, Jews were persecuted and often murdered for ostensibly murdering Christian children in order to use their blood in preparing Passover matzos. While absolutely untrue, it was widely believed.

Palin belongs to a Christian church. She has openly sat through at least one sermon that was openly anti-Semitic. While I appreciate Palin demonstrating her lack of knowledge yet again, I object to her effort to apply this symbol of anti-Semitic hatred and bigotry to herself, her actions, and the collective display of similar bigotry and hatred pumped out by the likes of Beck and other right wing demagogues.

Representative Giffords is Jewish. She explicitly complained about Palin’s use of cross hairs and “targeting” when the web page was posted. While Palin did not pull the trigger, her actions helped load the weapon and the actions of her political supporters helped to keep guns available for the mentally ill to buy unobstructed by laws. Palin can’t lie her way out of this one. I hope that this video exposes her to the open and honest criticism she deserves.

Blood libel, Ms. Palin? I can see you in the mob at the pogrom but not as one of the persecuted. Shining light on your lack of intellect is not persecution. You’ve just earned every speck of anger anyone ever directed at you.

These three articles are short and worth the time it takes to read them.

The foolishness of the 'blood libel' charge

By Adam Serwer

Why Sarah Palin's 'blood libel' was a poor choice of words

By Ruth Marcus

Sarah Palin proves -- again -- that she is a terrible politician

By Stephen Stromberg

…“Palin's video comes after a long and consequential string of political mistakes: resigning the governorship of Alaska; massively overexposing herself on Fox, Facebook, a book tour and a TLC show about clubbing halibut; and endorsing candidates in 2009 and 2010 who were far too right-wing to win general elections.

“Evaluating politicians' political skills can be tricky; you don't want to lose sight of the intrinsic quality of their work, not just how well they spin it. But in Palin's case, the characteristics that make her an ineffective politician are often the same ones that make her deficient on substance. Her anti-intellectual swagger. Her manipulative use of implication and overstatement. Her unyielding sense of victimhood. All habits that she cultivates to a fault. “

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11 January 2011 Slip sliding oi vei!

As of 1235, we have not been graced with snowfall today. Yet.

Today’s forecast calls for snow showers, ice pellets, freezing fog and freezing drizzle – 60% probability. Tomorrow’s outlook still calls for snow. We’ve learned that our microclimate seems to assure that we receive the snow outlook forecast for the “higher elevations” rather than that forecast for the lower valleys.

I’ve moved wood from the rapidly diminishing wood stack to the deck. I need to cut and stack more and/or order another load. Both plans of action require a few days of dry ground/roads. I’m not sure when they will present. Even the wood I am burning would be better off after an encounter with the chain saw. But I don’t care to cut wood in a snowstorm or standing in mud.

Today’s hike with Mike was uneventful. It was a long two miles spent mostly on packed snow and ice. The traffic was nearly non-existent – a good thing today. Footing was extremely treacherous with a layer of water on both sides of some ice patches. These were wont to break under weight and then slide beneath my boots. There’s enough snow to make XC skis potentially usefull in the mornings and enough ice to make me wish for crampons. I know that by the half-way point on the hike I’d be ready to swear off crampons again. They are not user friendly to the infrequent user.

The topic of disagreement centered on how the various media are treating the Tucson assassin vs. how they treated the Ft. Hood assassin. I see a role reversal where Mike does not. He recalls the enforced political correctness that he sees as favoritism toward Islam contrasting with his perceived rush to link the right wing demagogues to the Tucson shootings. I see more PC than I care to see applied to the Ft. Hood case. And unlike Mike, I see the teavangelists and other far right demagogues as complicit in raising the level of anger in the political arena.

I’m quite amused at watching Palin back-pedal and lie about her targeting web page. I expect her to lie about everything she can. I am particularly personally pleased to see her lying so badly about something so prominent.

I’ve been up since 0428 today. Simply woke up, couldn’t find a comfortable position to allow me to get back to sleep. Didn’t want to wake Gloria so I got up and dressed, fed the stove, and waited for sunrise.

I have no idea what dinner will be tonight.

1301, and it now snowing again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

10 January 2011 Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Woke up this morning to find another 3.5 inches of snow had fallen since midnight. By 0900, the daily total was 4.0 inches, making the month’s total 10.5 inches. There are knee-deep drifts on the property and piles created in deck clearing that now approach three feet in height. The road was plowed this morning but still is covered with packed snow and ice.

The hike to the mailbox was essentially post-holing in uncompressed snow. Maintenance today included deck clearing and checking the well filters housing. I added 80 pounds of salt pellets to the softener. Lugging those while post-holing through unbroken snow was enjoyable.

Loki is enjoying the snow, running, leaping, pouncing, and sniffing, more like a puppy than a middle-aged dog.

Congress seems to have taken the Giffords shootings as an excuse to avoid working. As horrifying as it is, the nation’s government is still expected to carry out its normal functions. I imagine that the members of Congress are somewhat frightened for their own skins. I wish none of them harm. However, the fear they are feeling may be a good thing.

They are complicit in the matter. Members of Congress, professional politicians, lobbyists, political reporters, campaign management agencies, and the entire ball of snakes that lust after power and the wealth it brings are at fault for the danger that elected officials now face. They’ve established a 24/7 system of attack ads and a propaganda mill that avoids truth as a matter of course. The elected have allowed their minions to demonize all opponents. They present each political campaign as national life or death while diligently avoiding any chance to improve the lives of citizens who don’t own personal banking houses or brokerages. When someone is elected who tries implementing such changes they are attacked and “targeted” by their colleagues and by the growing network of demagogues who oppose anything not approved by the theocrats and corporate owners who largely control Congress.

Should they be afraid? Yes. They should be afraid that they will wind up being targeted by the campaign and demagoguery machines they have built.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

9 January 2011 Sorry! We didn’t know it was loaded

““At a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics, but no matter what the shooter’s motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement,” Mr. Phillips, from Tea Party Nation, said on his Web site.

“While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing,” he wrote. “Within the entire political spectrum, there are extremists, both on the left and the right. Violence of this nature should be decried by everyone and not used for political gain.”

“As of Saturday, Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' name appeared on a website titled "take back the 20" as part of a list originally issued by Sarah Palin of vulnerable House Democrats. A map on the site showed crosshairs over the contested Democratic districts.

“Palin first posted the list in March 2010, naming 20 House members who voted for health care reform and represented districts that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona won in the 2008 presidential election…

“At a press conference Saturday, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik criticized people who are making a living off "inflaming the American public."

"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," Dupnik said. "Unfortunately, Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

“And Saturday's tragedy was not the first time the Arizona Democrat was targeted. The day after she voted in favor of health care reform, a glass panel at her Tucson office was shattered.”


Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin's decision to list Giffords' seat as one of the top "targets" in the midterm elections.

"For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.

In the hours after the shooting, Palin issued a statement in which she expressed her "sincere condolences" to the family of Giffords and the other victims.

Washington (CNN) – Sarah Palin's political aide removed a controversial web post Saturday after a gunman attempted to assassinate an Arizona congresswoman in a mass killing that left, among others, a 9-year-old girl dead.

But a Palin spokeswoman Saturday denied the web posting from the 2010 congressional campaign - featuring gun sights over the congressional districts of 20 Democratic candidates – was designed to incite violence. Rebecca Mansour told conservative host Tammy Bruce that it was a political tool and noted it should have been removed after the November election.

Cassi Creek:

What degree of responsibility for the Tucson shootings can be attributed to Palin, Beck, and the other GOP\teavangelist demagogues, if any?

While it has yet to be shown that Rep. Giffords was targeted for assassination because of a Palin web page or tirades of lies spewed by Beck and Limbaugh, they and their clones are guilty of attempted incitement and have been since the 2008 campaigns.

At this point in time, we have no evidence linking the would-be-assassin with teavangelist interests. It may well be that there is no direct link. I certainly hope so.

If we look back at the past three years, Palin campaign rallies were often marked by racist and anti-intellectual chants. They were often marked by chants of “Kill him!” in reference to Obama. Palin did nothing to prevent or quell such chants. In fact, she often seemed to encourage them by her actions. At no time did she ever tell those chanting that such action was wrong.

Palin’s actions over the last years since losing the 2008 election have consisted of fronting for teavangelist groups, spreading lies about Obama, furthering hatred, bigotry, theocracy, and targeting Democratic office holders to prevent their re-election, while blaming all the faults and flaws in her life and political campaign on others. It is never “Sarah’s fault.” The now-infamous cross-hairs ad which included Rep. Giffords was pushed off onto an un-named staffer who neglected to take it down after the election. Palin has repeatedly claimed the use of targeting crosshairs meant nothing. Anyone who has ever hunted with a scoped rifle immediately knows that to be a lie. The Cross hair reticle has only one purpose, to increase the probability of a lethal shot.

Palin’s organization is busily denying her intent and scrubbing anything of similar nature from the web. The Palin family seems to be in frequent need of such practice.

Today’s point is that Palin authorized a vicious campaign advertisement and then lied about its meaning. When a deranged murderer tried to kill one of her “targets”, she couldn’t begin to admit that her campaign ad might have been of some causative nature. She is retreating from her own actions, approved by her only, and blaming her staff for not removing the ad after the 2010 elections were over.

Saying she didn’t know the gun was loaded is not a valid excuse. Her former staff all indicates that nothing is done unless she signs off on it. Therefore, running an ad that has high potential among her minions and followers to trigger violence is highly irresponsible on her part. However hard she tries to blame others, no matter what she tries to sanitize, her complicity is demonstrable.

It is time we dial back such political rhetoric. Given the wealth to be made lying for the teavangelists\GOPer, I doubt it will be ratcheted down but rather expect it to become more dangerous in nature and in intent.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

8 January 2011 Best care in any stable thanks to the 112th Congress

Phillip Roe’s Weekly column dated 5 Jan 2011:”

This is my response to Roe’s weekly column. It will be sent to his office and to the local newspaper.

“…This starts with our pledge to repeal and replace the health care law with reforms that keep control of health care decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors. Before the 111th Congress came to an end, I sent a letter to then Speaker-Designate Boehner asking him to make good on our promise and act swiftly to restore a patient-centric health care system by scheduling a vote soon. Acting swiftly on this matter, this Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin the debate to repeal and replace the health care law.

“By acting immediately, Republicans are sending a message that we are not in favor of inserting Washington bureaucrats into a patient’s relationship with his or her doctor; that we are not in favor of increasing the cost of health insurance; that we are not in favor of weakening Medicare to create a new entitlement; and that, at a time of record unemployment, we are not in favor of legislation that will eliminate jobs.

“Instead, we must replace the health care law with a health care bill that will work to control costs and that is built upon the principle that when individuals are given control and ownership, we will achieve better access to coverage and see the entire system move in a positive, patient-centered direction…”

“By acting immediately,” to launch this dog and pony show, the GOP is announcing that they care more about appeasing the teavangelists and the insurance companies than they do about the needs of America’s citizens. This huge waste of time and money demonstrates that nothing has or will change in the 112th Congress.

"We Republicans are sending a message that we are not in favor of inserting Washington bureaucrats into a patient’s relationship with his or her doctor…” Perhaps not. However, you appear to have no problem allowing insurance companies to insert their bureaucrats between patient and physician. I’ve had much more difficulty with private insurance than with Medicare. I guess it comes down to appeasing the insurance companies.

“Instead, we must replace the health care law with a health care bill that will work to control costs and that is built upon the principle that when individuals are given control and ownership, we will achieve better access to coverage and see the entire system move in a positive, patient-centered direction…”

This seems designed to take seniors back to the time when they were collectively rejected for insurance by any insurance company. Just as a reminder, that’s the reason Medicare was crafted initially. I guess being “given control and ownership” means that those of us who have no insurance because we are unemployed, or who are uninsurable because of our ages are intended to go stand overnight in the rain at local fairgrounds, hoping to be treated in a stable by RAM volunteers. “Best health care in the world,” you boast. Not even in the third world, Mr. Roe.

Patient-centric health care, Mr. Roe only exists for millionaires and members of Congress. The rest of us take numbers, stand in line, or go home and wait for the insurance company’s clerks to deny a few lab studies, an elective surgery, or simply deny any further care. Sounds suspiciously like a GOP ordained death panel to me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

7 January 2011 Make that “REAL AMERICANS, INC.”

The Conservative Constitution of the United States
By David Cole

Thursday, January 6, 2011; 11:00 AM

House members opened the 112th Congress on Thursday by reading aloud the Constitution, presumably as a first step toward fulfilling the tea party's goal of "restoring" our nation's founding document. However, an alternative constitutional text, obtained by this author via WikiLeaks, has reportedly begun circulating in secret among incoming GOP lawmakers, representing the Constitution they hope to read aloud when the 113th Congress begins. Here, revealed in public for the first time, is the Conservative Constitution of the United States of Real America:

“We, the Real Americans, in order to form a more God-Fearing Union, establish Justice as we see it, Defeat Health-Care Reform, and Preserve and Protect our Property, our Guns and our Right Not to Pay Taxes, do ordain and establish this Conservative Constitution for the United States of Real America. ..

“Article I. Congress shall have only the powers literally, specifically and expressly granted herein, and no others. That means definitely, without question, absolutely, no regulation of the Health Insurance or Financial Services industries…


“1. Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of Speech, except where citizens desecrate the Flag of the United States; respecting an establishment of Religion, except to support Christian schools, religious apparitions in food products and the display of crosses and creches in public places; or abridging the free exercise of Religion, except to block the construction of mosques in sensitive areas as determined by Florida Pastors or the Fox News Channel…”

Cassi Creek:

I’d be willing to leave this as a timely and amusing column if it didn’t contain so much truth. “Real America,” the populace that drools or wets itself every time a Palin or a Palin clone utters some inaccurate inanity, is out there, interspersed with the voters who actually value facts and truth.

Like many symbols dealing with the nation’s history, the GOPers\teavanagelists have tried to deny the label “Americans” to anyone who disagrees with their particular flavor of culture. They want us all to believe that “Real Americans” are willing to rewrite the Constitution to make it agree with and become subservient to their “bible.” They want racism, religious intolerance, a forced national religion, and lack of education to define our culture. They offer us candidates like Palin, Bachman, Huckabee, and others who would be happy to replace our republic with a theocracy and strip all non-Christians of citizenship and other rights we currently are promised under the real Constitution.

The “Real American Inc” leaders want us to lionize Ronald Reagan who did his best to repay campaign debts by selling out the nation, gutting the national parks, creating a culture of deceit and greed, all with help from his wife’s astrologer and while in deteriorating mental status.

The words “astrologer” and Alzheimer’s should never be associated with the office of the POTUS. Nor should any candidate for that office have ever been in negotiation with the government of a nation holding U.S. citizens hostage. That act alone seems to be treasonous in nature and can be considered as breaking faith with the U.S, Embassy hostages by prolonging their period of captivity for political advantage. Now, the “Real Americans” of the GOP are planning a 100-year celebration for Reagan that will, of course, somehow wind up costing the U.S. taxpayers.

Real Americans are not the mob that quivers with anticipation, lust, and anti-intellectualism whenever a Palin clone speaks. They are the people who staff soup kitchens when there is no photo-op. the people who tutor students who need help learning to read when there is no opportunity for a come-to-Jesus presentation. They are people who don’t sit on the Mexican border with guns, people who give their time and skills to run remote medical clinics, to staff shelters for abused women and Planned Parenthood clinics that help prevent the unwanted pregnancies that Palin’s “Real America Inc” only wants until they begin to breathe air.

The real Americans I know and see are happy with the Constitution as it is today. They, and I, understand that it is a powerful framework upon which we hang a unique government rather than a “sacred document” that must never be modernized or interpreted in any manner other than from the visage of the 18th century. The real Americans I know served the nation in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, in the Reagan banana wars, in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan instead of “being too busy.” They are doctors, teachers, nurses, salesclerks, librarians, cooks, carpenters, and a host of other things. They vote after learning all they can from resources that provide fact-checked information rather than the rantings of demagogues and propagandists. They’re pretty much like many other people around the world who have been fortunate enough to be born into industrialized nations at the post WWII/boomer/genX period. They appreciate the great things about America without succumbing to the BS of American uniqueness that the extreme right peddles daily. These real Americans are good people and it’s time for them to stand up and take the logos, labels, and symbols away from the hate mongers, demagogues, and theocrats.

Shabbat Shalom!