Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News Flashes?

Gristmill today highlighted a recent poll showing that the public trusts the Democrats over the Republicans with our environment. Interestingly enough, I found this somewhat depressing. Yes, we trust the Democrats over the Republicans with the environment. Seems moronic to consider any other response, given the general Republican favoring of business over earth.

The way the poll was worded, there could be no other response. "When it comes to protecting the environment, which party do you think would do a better job?" Anyone who uses the words "protect" and "environment" in the same sentence would say they apply more likely to Democrats than Republicans. A poll telling us that the Democrats represent the interests of those who are green is kind of like a survey announcing that NOW represents the interests of liberal women. Duh.

A less leading polling question that might give a little more pertinent information would be "When it comes to the environment, whose policies do you favor more, the Democrats or the Republicans?" That would gives us the information the poll was looking for, wouldn't it? Please, tell me the pollers didn't genuinely think there are people out there who think that the Republicans "protect" our environment. What a spectacularly dumb waste of a polling question. Like the Alaskan billion dollar bridge to nowhere.

Gristmill also linked to this sadly appropo cartoon that demonstrates why it's a dumb question. Check it out.

Didn't have a chance to blog about the removal of grizzlies from the Endangered Species list back a week or two ago. Perhaps I'm Mistress of the Obvious, Serf to the Obtuse or something today. But what, exactly, is the sense in taking a species off an endangered list just as it's making a comeback? We're not talking about a population explosion here. This isn't China with 10 billion people being born every 30 seconds. Grizzlies have edged away from extinction. But a animal that originally numbered 50,000 and is now down to 600 around Yellowstone is hardly in the clear. And a local story lists environmental group concerns such as a continued lack of habitat and problems with the grizzlies' food supply--concerns that auger for continued endangered listing in my book.

Speaking of endangered species, is NOLA on the list? Estimates for making the city Cat 5 safe are now running at $32 BILLION. The NYT article also gave ink to a not-oft examined issue: how the loss of wetlands surrounding New Orleans caused at least some of the levees to fail. "Where you had wetland, the levees were not eroded, and where you did not have wetlands, the levees were annihilated, " said Professor van Heerden, an LSU professor of civil and environmental engineering at Louisiana State University and deputy director of the university's hurricane center.

Wetlands are apparently nature's "speed bumps", slowing down hurricane progress. Two enlightening facts about the loss of wetlands in NOLA taken from the above article:
  • 1,900 square miles of wetlands have disappeared from the area since the 1930s, and the receding continues at a rate of about 24 square miles per year.
  • For every 2.7 miles of wetlands, storm surges are reduced by about one foot.
Do the math for a 28 ft storm surge the size of Katrina. Makes the environment seem awfully important, doesn't it? Too bad those Republicans don't do math.

Until tomorrow,

Monday, November 28, 2005

Enough already

Enough with the damn Thanksgiving gratitude already. Enough of Black Friday and Black Monday and Red Credit Cards piled high with debt in eager anticipation of the Consumer, er, Christmas season. Enough of newspapers fat with ads and skinny with real newsworthy information. Really. Enough already. Let's get back to pretending I could make in difference in the world by broadcasting my opinion far and wide across the Internet in the blogosphere.

My Opinion: You aren't pissed off enough yet at the Bush Administration.

If you were pissed off enough, there'd be a massive effort to impeach him. So, clearly, you're not mad enough yet. I consider it my moral duty, job one for America, to ever so gently goad you toward pissedoffdom. Let's see. Today's serving will be the government's continuing attacks on your civil liberties. The Defense Department, like some creepy militaristic Lord Voldemortian snake, continues to slither its way into more and more power and knowledge. A new agency (Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA) is being pushed by the White House as an arm for investigation and information sharing. Meaning that the military would be allowed to investigate you.

"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And Wyden has managed to put a kabosh on some of the powers the White House wants to give to the military. But the current proposal would apparently allow the military to create files similar to the FBI's files.

Doesn't float your boat? Make you see red? Push you toward pissedoffdom? How about the fact that once again the United Nations Climate Conference is occurring with the US dragging its heels in doing anything about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Dragging its heels is probably too optimistic a phrase. How about "can't be dragged kicking and screaming into significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions"?

Why is it that other industrialized nations, like England and Canada, can agree to Kyoto without ruining their entire economy, as the US so wantonly claims will occur if we agree to it? Of course, Canada's progress may soon come to a screaming halt with the Liberals downfall today. Yet Canada seems, Liberal or not, determined to move to greenness. Too bad we can't say the same thing about ourselves.

Had to stop writing in the midst of this to run children various and assorted places. Now, I find myself unable to work up a good persuasive crankiness, alas. So go read this article about the Bush administration's determined efforts to eradicate the free press. And that's not just my hyperbole. What else can you say about an administration that has systematically paid columnists to support administration efforts, trashed PBS' investigative programs, faked "news" segments, and started a war based on false information passed through the press?

Starting to see red again . . . .

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Medicinal thoughts

I enjoy playing doctor. Hee hee. I diagnose myself, my children, and my friends. My kids I diagnose with a fair degree of accuracy, having lived through numerous bouts of bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma attacks, I can usually tell them apart. I can tell them apart well enough to order ER personnel around and make them take xrays of lungs, the better to prove that the lung difficulty of the day is really pneumonia and the asthma attack is an offshoot.

And I also enjoy playing psychiatrist. My friends tell me, at times, that I am a good listener. I catch nuance and emotion and hidden gooey stuff that no one wants exposed. I've been successfully shrunk (a good long 3 or 4 year stint). And I am permanently medicated due to my own slight mental illness (can one have a slight mental illness? is that like being a little pregnant?), depression/anxiety issues.

But even the audacious me would not consider prescribing for my friends. Hence, I was amazed at this article. Oh. My. God. Are doctors that bad? Is the younger generation that nuts? What is the world coming to, that it is routine to pass along your extra meds to a friend to help him stay up or get down? And that meds are the answer to everything?

OK. In the interests of full disclosure, I have once taken one of my mother's Ambien during a bout of insomnia. But at least I was cautious about it. Anal as I am, I went online, looked up the PDR stuff, made sure I couldn't react to it in some weird way.

Actually, I did react to it in a rather normal way. Had a great night of sleep. Woke refreshed and ready to take on the world. And the next night, I couldn't sleep until 3am. Rebound. Lovely.

I can't imagine doing this kind of drug swapping on a regular basis. And I'm troubled about how I contribute to the notion of drugs fixing us. After all, I have a drug that fixes me. I have an autistic son who takes meds that make his life bearable. I have a son who takes meds to keep her breathing. Am I, by these actions, adding to the culture of fix it with a pill?

Said an interviewee in the article, "I acquire quite a few medications and then dispense them to my friends as needed. I usually know what I'm talking about." But, hon. There's so much you don't know. You don't know all the other meds your friend is taking, or what they're allergic to, or whether they drink too much, or whether they have bipolar disorder lurker in their genes, waiting to be triggered by those stimulants.

No thinkee, these kids, is what I'm thinking.

About that daughter who takes meds to keep her breathing. She's much better now, after those 3 days in ICU for a terrifyingly awful asthma attack. Really can't use enough hyperbole to describe how gut-wrenchingly horrible it is to lie next to your beloved child, watching her heart rate at 160 beats per minute for hours on end as she cries and gasps for breath. Don't try this at home, ok?

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, A can't take the usual asthma med duo of inhaled corticosteroids (that cortico part is supposed to make you feel better about giving your kids steroids because they're not the bad bad kind) and long-acting bronchodiolators because she had a bad reaction (Cushings-like) to the steroids a few years back and her adrenal system stopped working. That's a bad thing.

So no more steroids. Since then, she's been walking the tightrope without 'em. Doing just fine, for the most part. She has had to clutch the inhaler you see kids who have badly managed asthma clutching at soccer games, but only during exercise. So a few not great asthma attacks, caused by illness, but generally ok. Until this attack.

Part of what's kept her teetering safely on the tightrope has been that long-acting bronchodilator med called Serevent. Imagine my pleasure reading the news today and seeing this, then. I never noticed, nor has any doctor ever mentioned, the "small risk of life-threatening asthma attacks and deaths" associated with Serevent. And now the FDA wants to put even more warnings on them. Rocked our little boat around here, my friends.

How come we can put people on the moon but we can't figure out a way to keep my daughter breathing without shutting down her adrenal system and putting her at risk of ANOTHER life-threatening asthma attack?

And how can people like those young professionals mentioned in the first paragraphs, above, take medicine so lightly, play with it like a toy? Are they so young that they don't understand the life and death implications of medicine--or a lack thereof? Maybe they wouldn't find tossing a pill to a friend such a fun, enjoyable and amusing experience if they spent a few years titrating their daughter's asthma meds, trying to find a combination that kept her breathing. Or spent a few weeks living with an autistic child whose meds mean the difference between being warehoused in a therapeutic day school or being mainstreamed with normal kids?

It's not a game.

Until tomorrow,

Friday, November 18, 2005

This and That

I'm listening to CSPAN right now. Wild and crazy times in the House right now as they debate and hash out the Republican Withdraw Now But Not Really Bill, designed to prove Democrats as, what? Cowards? Wrong? Call their bluff?

Alot of harsh rhetoric. Is it all talk, or is the Democratic party going to continue on its path of showing a bit of backbone? At least Pelosi has called for the Democrats to vote no on this ridiculous, pathetic, and manipulative vote.

Writing with one ear to CSPAN, there's much in the news about avian flu this week. A little noted Citigroup strategy report mulled over the possible economic winners and losers should even a mild pandemic (is that oxymoronic?) strikes. Particular losers would be the airlines, businesses than can ill afford further loses. Didn't appear that the report gave suggestions on how to limit loses, though. Oh, good. Something more to worry about.

There's some concern being raised by the FDA about the use of Tamiflu in children. Tamiflu is one of the few drugs that appears useful in fighting the flu and can be used against the avian flu. Apparently, there have been a number of cases of psychiatric disturbances among children using Tamiflu. The FDA has already flip flopped, 24 hours after this was reported, and is now saying it doesn't have enough evidence to say that Tamiflu is causing these problems after releasing a memo detailing its concerns about the drug.

If I remember correctly, there is also some evidence that Tamiflu may not work so well against the avian flu, that it may be mutating to become resistant to it. But this would still be, obviously, a problem if it pans out. Of course, since the FDA plans to send it back to a committee to continue monitoring it for a few years, it probably won't keep kids from taking it. Or its manufacturer, Roche, from benefiting from the millions of vaccines being ordered right now. How timely. And how interesting that the possibility of resistance to Tamiflu got so little play in the press.

Last in my pandemic possibility update, the righteous religious right wingnuts ought to be having a field day with the news that AIDS victims may unwittingly cause the bird flu to mutate and become easily passed from human to human. If I get this, the deal is that those with AIDS hold onto flu viruses for long periods of time, acting as incubators for new mutations. So, not only would those with AIDS be more likely to come down with avian flu, they'd be more likely to pass it on and more likely to make pass-on-able forms of it.

Something to look forward to as bird flu marches across Europe and eventually on to Africa, home of the most AIDS victims world-wide.

Per my rant about the SCOTUS decision this week, NYTimes came out with a great editorial agreeing with me. Naturally. :-) Best quote:

"The court's ruling ignores the clear advantages that school districts almost always have over parents who challenge their decisions. The districts have the money, and many have lawyers and rosters of experts on their payrolls. But many of the families cannot afford legal representation at all. With less pressure to justify themselves, the schools can simply stand pat - even when their educational plans have proved disastrous for the disabled children in question. This was clearly not the outcome that Congress intended when it passed this landmark law, and deliberately expanded the rights of disabled children and their parents."

Oooo. Back to CSPAN. Steny Hoyer is talking about "the magnitude of his contempt" and "the rankest of politics and the absence of shame". And he ain't talking about the Democrats.

Speaking about the rankest of politics and the magnitude of my contempt, a filibuster we're missing right now is that on the renewal of the Patriot Act. The current plan is to renew an act that still includes the liberty-sucking "National Security Letters" that allow the FBI to demand the library records of anyone without permission of a court of law, and that gags those who have received these letters. See my blog for further info on this.

Apparently, there's a bi-partisan group against renewal of this act. Thank god. We'll see if sane minds can pull this off and keep the Patriot Act for injuring more patriots and just plain citizens. Think it's no big deal? 30,000 of your fellow Americans might disagree with you.

Back to CSPAN. Pelosi is up, defending Murtha. "Murtha has delivered the mighty blow of truth to Bush's Iraq policy." Or something like that. Nice. Way better than Rep Smith calling him a coward. Real nice touch when discussing a Purple Heart recipient.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Lost amidst the shuffle of Alito and Libby and Woodward was a SCOTUS case near and dear to my heart, Schaffer v. Weast. It's a case about special education.

Stop that. I hear you tuning out already. Hey. I mean it. You care about children living in squalor and African-American men being marooned on Death Row. You ought to care about this, too. Special ed is about the kids among us who are disabled, who need help, and whose parents generally have to fight like hell to get that help. If you care about the disenfranchised, you should care about these kids, too.

And they need you to care more than ever, now, after the disenfranchising results of this case. Briefly (pun intended), the deal is this. Federal law requires that public schools provide a "free appropriate public education". The vehicle for providing this is a collaborative document called an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Most of the hearing and court cases surrounding special education law have to do with whether or not the plan is "appropriate" for a particular child's needs and disabilities, providing accommodations to meet those needs and disabilities.

For example, a blind kid (non-visually enhanced? non-sighted?) should not be taught from a blackboard. If you can't see, you need oral instruction. Seems simple, right? Not so much, unfortunately. Parents and school districts often fight over what appropriate accommodations are. Special education is expensive and some school districts don't want to pay for it.

You may notice I am biased in this area. I have an autistic son. Asperger's Syndrome. Our local school district spent thousands of dollars on him during his sojourns in the public schools. We were lucky, for the most part. For the most part, our district provided him with the accommodations he needed to succeed in school. And only tried to screw us a few times.

Why? We were lucky--and I used to be a lawyer. Which was more good luck for us. Because I understood the law in this area. I understood the language, I knew how to use it when talking to school officials. I knew what to say and what not to say. I knew how to get results.

Parents of children in special education have to be advocates for their kids. And, coming back to the recent SCOTUS decision, that's been made clear now more than ever, to our children's detriment. If a parent objects to the plan and accommodations put forth by a school district, that parent now carries the burden to prove that the plan and accommodations will not provide an appropriate education.

Big whoop, you might say. Isn't that the way it usually is in court? It is a damn big whoop, my friend. The special ed system is incredibly confusing. Lots of jargon and shorthand and initials and paperwork. Not intimidating to me, the once upon a time lawyer. But intimidating to many, many other parents. And poorly educated parents? Poverty-level parents who can't afford a lawyer or a consultant to hold their hand through the maze? They're supposed to be able to muster proof that these plans aren't appropriate?

Some states have felt so strongly that this burden of proof is unfair that, prior to this court case they enacted state laws requiring schools to take on the burden. But SCOTUS didn't share their feelings. Apparently, because usually the party questioning a decision has the burden of proof means that they should always have the burden of proof.

This ruling places such an additional burden on parents of challenged kids. Geez, don't any of these Justices have kids or grandkids or great grandkids with special needs? Don't they know how hard it is to understand the literature about meeting those needs? Can't they imagine how tough it is to parent these kids, let alone have to fight a school district to get them to educate them better, let alone bear the burden of proof showing that the school district is NOT educating them well enough?

The reason I want you to care is I want you to be ready to support state laws shifting the burden of proof to the school districts. Is it expensive to educate special ed kids? You bet. Isn't it better , more humane, to spend money on them to help them become productive citizens rather than simply warehouse them? For those who are less disabled, kids who succeed in school are less likely to become criminals. You can help all of these kids by supporting state laws requiring schools to prove they're doing right by our kids. Then, maybe, just maybe, they will.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Back to Business

That Sam. Stand up kind of guy, wouldn't you say? Geez. I thought the Bush administration picked this guy as the Conservative's Conservative for SCOTUS. Yet now he's trying to backtrack on his abortion stance. Please. I'd have more respect for you if you just told it like it is, Judge, Alito, instead of trying to sidestep your beliefs. What a wuss, telling Feinstein that he's now "a wiser person" with "a better grasp and understanding about constitutional rights and liberties,". And that he won't let his personal beliefs interfere.

And there's more. "I was an advocate seeking a job; it was a political job and that was 1985. I'm now a judge, I've been on the circuit court for 15 years and it's very different. I'm not an advocate, I don't give heed to my personal views, what I do is interpret the law."

So, how would one tell the different between his personal beliefs about Constitutional law and his legal convictions regarding how one would interpret Constitutional law? And wouldn't one lean heavily on one's legal convictions in applying for a legal job, albeit 20 years ago? So couldn't one reasonably assume that one was talking about one's legal convictions that would impact how one would interpret the law on a legal job application?

This one would.

This whole thing makes me want to puke (though that could also be due to the birth control pills I'm taking in an attempt to stop bleeding profusely). If you're going to be a radical conservative, at least have the guts to stand up and say so. Don't hide in an attempt to get approved. That's weenie and wussy. And it's a lie.

Oh. Forgot while I've been on my sabbatical. That's what conservatives do these days--mislead, act like weenies, and lie. So, I guess, in his own way, Alito is acting in an appropriate fashion for a Radical Conservative.

And it's understandable, why those radical conservatives are acting like such weenies these days. The numbers are against them. So they're left with lying and misleading as methods for accomplishing their goals. Of course, that suits them well, as the Rovian Republicans have been using those methods throughout the entire Bush administration.

But the current numbers make it even more enticing for the Radical Conservatives to hide their anti-abortion absolutes. 56 percent nationwide described themselves as pro-choice, compared to 38 percent who said they were pro-life. And a Pew poll showed 61 percent surveyed were against overturning Roe v. Wade. Hmm. Guess the only way to get Alito up on that High Court is to lie about his legal convictions.

Senator Kennedy said, in response to Alito's backpedaling, "And so I asked him, 'Why shouldn't we consider the answers that you're giving today an application for another job?' " Mr. Kennedy said. Mmm hmm. How about we don't hire him, Senators?

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Excuses, excuses

No, not from the Bush Administration. Or from the Righteous Right. From me.

No blogging lately. My daughter has been in a local ICU with a nasty asthma attack. We're both home tonight, feeling pretty fortunate, blessed, and/or karmically enhanced. She had great care at Rush in Chicago. Steroids and excellent health care saved her, which is ironic given her previous Cushing's-like reaction to them 4 years ago.

We're both off to bed. Damn, those "beds" for parents are uncomfortable. Better than the floor, I guess.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Liars and what happens to them

Well, sometimes nothing happens to them. I'd like to believe in some kind of Karma, some kind of what goes around comes around. I'd like to think that if Rove avoids indictment now, in some future life, he'll be a louse or a leech or some other appropriately parasitic being who will be squashed in some gruesome fashion. Possibly a cruel and inhumane fashion.

Perhaps Rove will get what's coming to him in this world, though. There's fresh news from WaPo that maybe Fitzmas isn't over yet, that maybe Fitzgerald is still pursuing Rove. Even if he is not charged with making false statements during the investigation, the world now know that Rove is a liar. He said denied repeatedly that he had a role in the discussions with journalists about Plame and Wilson, a fact that is now demonstrably false.

The White House says Rove's doing an "outstanding job", (Thumbs up, Brownie!), and in no danger of losing his. Interesting report from MSNBC about what Rove should be losing, if not his job. Apparently there is an Executive Order that should require Rove lose his access to classified information, given that he disclosed classified information.

So, one of Bush's most trusted advisors has violated an executive order and lied repeatedly to the press and the public, at the very least. Rove's advice must be pretty valuable to Bush for him to keep such a dishonorable man in his employ. That, or honor means little to him.

Maybe Bush hasn't noticed all of this yet. After all, now he's dealing with attacks on his administration regarding the black site prisons. The International Red Cross wants access to ascertain the conditions under which prisoners are being held. The EU wants to know where these prisons are, since there are news reports (less wussy than WaPo) that disclose probably locations in the EU. Looking likely that those black sites are in Poland and Romania.

The UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, has said he will investigate the black sites. Don't look for him to make much progress, given the stonewalling he's received in his attempts to get into Gitmo. I was embarrassed by this response to the UN's latest request, to visit and actually speak to detainees: "The offer they have is the final offer. We are not prepared to open Guantanamo up to just anyone who wants to come in and talk to detainees."

Yep. I think the UN is usually considered to be "just anyone".

The black site furor has renewed public interest in the government's treatment of detainees, per yesterday's blog, a furor in which Cheney (and probably Rove) feature prominently. I guess Bush's lack of value on honorable behavior shouldn't surprise me, given the immorally dishonorable behavior to which we subject our detainees. The Bush administration is all about down and dirty, do it nasty, whatever it takes to get the job done. And Rove is just another cog (albeit a big one) in the machine crafted for the nasty.

I continue to be pleased at the Democratic response. Harry Reid is acting practically warrior-like. He spoke to reporters today, laying the lack of investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee into WMD and Iraq directly at the feet of Dick Cheney. "Nothing happens regarding intelligence gathering ... unless it's signed off on by the Vice President"

The machine crafted for the nasty is looking a bit rusty these days. Not running like it used to. And that, alone, brings my bleeding liberal heart a bit of hope. Maybe Rove et al are about to get their just desserts.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dark Shadows

Reading the news these days is like watching a soap opera. Didn't actually watch "Dark Shadows" when I was a kid. It was too scary. I was a "General Hospital" aficionado, myself. But the soap opera otherwise known as the US government contains key elements of soapdom: outrageous behavior, repetition, and elements of fear and paranoia running throughout the show.

This morning's episode of As The US Government Turns featured a WaPo-broken story about secret CIA terrorist prisons , called black sites, run on foreign soil. Black site prisons are so stealth that not even Congress, who is charged with oversight of the CIA, has knowledge of them.
The BBC says that "Individuals with close links to the intelligence agencies say the US government sees a compelling case for keeping suspected al-Qaeda operatives incarcerated secretly on foreign soil. That way the suspects are not able to contest their detention in American courts and can be interrogated over a long period."

Oh, well. That seems fair, then. Wouldn't want those terrorists to be able to contest their detention, particularly since we know they are terrorists because they've been tried and convicted already . . . .

And there's another related scene from our soap opera. The United States, land of the free, home of the brave, bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, refuses to follow the Geneva Convention rules on treatment of terrorist detainees. John McCain has been fighting this sick attitude of the Bush Administration for quite a while now, and has led the Senate to approving a ban on cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of any detainee in US custody.

At the same time, there are actually those in the Bush administration who want to change the Defense Department standards on the handling of detainees to bring it into line with the Geneva Convention. Others, though, like Cheney and his cronies, are vociferously against such a move. They also are moving to exempt CIA activities--such as at their non-acknowledged black site prisons--from McCain's bill.

Scene 3 in As The US Government Turns takes place at Gitmo. The UN Human Rights Monitors want to visit Gitmo, to ascertain that detainees are being treated humanely. And the US has agreed, after three years, to this request. But they will not allow the UN to meet privately with detainees, which is a deal-breaker for the UN. After all, what's the point in the visit if the Monitor can't reasonably expect to be able to monitor treatment?

Rumsfeld flatly refuses the private visits, saying that it's unnecessary, since the International Red Cross already has such access. Of course, the IRC doesn't publicly release any information about its visits, fearing that such release would endanger their ability to visit. Red Cross head Jakob Kellenberger did meet with Bush to discuss concerns early this year. But the IRC is hog-tied and truly unable to affect any change in the conditions of detainees. So Rumsfelds' excuse hardly holds water.

Our last little soap opera vignette opens in the US Senate just yesterday. Newly emboldened Democrats invoked Rule 21, attempting to get to the bottom of whether or not intelligence was manipulated to get US into the Iraq war. Here's the best line of this scene:
"The Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," the majority leader, Bill Frist, said. "Never have I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution."

No. It's an affront to the soldiers of the US that they were sent into war with such a flimsy excuse. It's an affront to those who've died in this that they lost their lives based on a lie. It's an affront to our Constitution that we hold people for terrorist acts who have not been charged, tried, or even granted legal representation. It's an affront to the moral character of every American that the Bush Administration active seeks to avoid following the Geneva Convention rules on the treatment of detainees. And it's an affront to our supposed role as the leader of the Free World that the US military and intelligence groups routinely use methods of interrogation that are, by all accounts, torture.

Finally, it's an affront to my intelligence on so many levels when President Bush and those who defend him tell me it's all about protecting America. Protecting America at all costs. America is not worth protecting at all costs, if the cost is giving up the moral high ground and torturing people. From a practical standpoint, it makes us much more vulnerable to hatred from abroad. Ugly Americans to the nth degree. And it's short-sighted; it brings us information now, but costs us in lives from those who would martyr themselves against our tortuous ways.

May people with some intelligence, practicality and dignity take hold of our country and give us the leadership that we perhaps do not deserve, but desperately need.

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Fake Out

American has moved to the Right. We are more conservative than ever. The Religious Right represents a honking majority of US citizens. Not. I don't think so. Particularly regarding gay people. So, I was stunned to hear of the United Methodist decision to not only defrock the self-outed lesbian Reverend Irene Stroud but reinstate the Reverend Edward Johnson, who had been suspended him for refusing membership to a gay man.

Stroud's defrocking wasn't all that surprising. Sad to hear, given the UMC's recent campaign slogan of "
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors", but not surprising. Their denominational rules made the outcome a fait accompli.

But Johnson's reinstatement is shocking. This is a denomination that has proclaimed itself open to gays. It says "All persons are of sacred worth." But some are more worthy than others, apparently. So now the UMC has approved a two-tiered approach to membership that I likened last week to 19th century views of blacks and slavery. Better watch out, all you sinners down there in Virginia. Pastor Johnson may decide, with his pastoral discretion, to refuse you membership next.

Is this in keeping with the views of America? I don't think so. While rummaging around the internet, I came upon a fascinating 30 minute newsweekly PBS show that I'd never heard of before called
Religion and Ethics. Religion and Ethics commissioned a poll on religion and the family. You can see the results here.

Americans appear to be pretty big on the traditional notion of family. At the same time, fewer and fewer people actually live in those "traditional" families. And, as a whole, we are less likely to want to judge those living in non-traditional ways as wrong. For example, almost 80% of those surveyed believe that it's best for children if their parents are married and 70% think "God's plan" for marriage is the traditional one. Yet 55% of the respondents also agree that
"Love is what makes a family and it doesn't matter if the parents are gay or straight, married or single."

Another poll found that a majority of US (53%) support civil unions for gays. Doesn't it seem as though mainline religion is painfully behind the American public in accepting gays? All of this gnashing of teeth over something that over half of us already believe.

Another group that is painfully out of step with the American public is the Bush administration. He's gone and done it again. Nominated a highly intellectual, well-spoken, terribly nice Radical wingnut. Only this one has the paper trail John Roberts didn't, thus making the Radical Right happy.

Why do I call Judge Alito radical? Well, he doesn't support Roe v. Wade. Poll numbers say that 55% of Americans believe that abortion should be, generally speaking, legal. Only 42% believe that abortions should be harder to get. True, most of US are conditional in our support of abortion. A bit squeamish. But there's no true majority groundswell for overturning Roe v. Wade.
Yet we may get that overturning, if we accept the Radical Alito.

How else is Alito radical? His previous cases demonstrate him to be anti-workers. A good example is his opposition to the Family and Medical Leave Act. See this article for more information on Alito's worker bias, as shown by his opposition to changes in the minimum wage, public employee rights, unions, and discrimination issues.

Don't have any polling data on this. But I think most of us are in favor of a law that allows us to take time off to care for our family in times of crisis. It seems pretty radical to me to oppose such legislation. Seems pretty radical to me to oppose the will of the American public in so many different areas.

Then again, radical is normal for the Bush administration. After all, how many of us want to be at war in Iraq? How many of us would've supported this war early on if we'd known that Bush lied to us? Alito is just another wingnut Radical idea, brought to you courtesy of the administration so well-versed in such ideas.

Until tomorrow,